Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year's!

Hope you're up to some fun this evening to ring in 2009 in style. For my part, I'm hunkering in, cooking, and watching movies and Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve or whatever the hell he calls it these days.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Holidays Part II: Giant Human Terrycloth Toy Edition

The key, it seems, to cat attention and devotion and the luring away from the charms of radiator heat, is to disguise oneself as an over-sized cat toy.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Thing That Is Irritating

Do you know that there are layers upon layers of details to enter and hoops to jump in order to to log into individual online secure sites, like, for example, your cell phone provider's? Further, do you know how irritating it is to attempt to log in--after months of meaning to change your text message preferences to a more economical option--and get barraged with text messages from the system while you do so? And the most irritating thing of all is to finally get in to change things, only to find out that the menu option for the add-on features doesn't work and just spins "loading," endlessly, teasingly. Someone get me an iPhone with a master plan, stat.

Hope everyone had a nice holiday and looks forward to stellar New Year's plans. For those of you refreshing my blog while I was sitting next to you on the couch: Yes! I will update. As witnessed by the above, the important thoughts don't just trickle down like rain from the heavens, you know. There's no rushing genius or inanity.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hope You're Prepared for the Season, Also: Heroes!

I'm caught up! I can talk about Heroes now! Hello? Hello?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Your Snowy, Hat-Heady, Short-Day Before the Holidays Friday

It is snowy and slushy, yet I persevered and made it into work--early, even! I don't do it for the mission, oh no. Nor do I do it to wrap up office packing. Today is the last day of my fellow inmate and music guru, in whose honor I spin the iTunes, so that we may see how much of the list came from his vast influence, which I will miss.

1. badhead, blur
2. more news from nowhere, nick cave and the bad seeds
3. letter from an occupant, new pornographers
4. sticky sue, mickey murray
5. i will kill again, jarvis cocker
6. mellotron 1, apples in stereo
7. gimme gimme shock treatment, the ramones
8. burning sky, the jam
9. modern diet, the redwalls
10. dance of the hours, the clientele

He's showing a dismal twenty percent today, but he's truly had a much, much bigger impact than that.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

That Sound You Hear Is My Head Hitting My Desk. Repeatedly.

Why are cover letters so goddamned difficult to write? How does one submit a piece of writing and sell said writing without sounding like a complete buffoon who starts all sentences "I am" and copies the setup to the cover letter wholesale from the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market?? Down to the journal sent to in the sample? How does one then avoid them thinking, "how lovely, she, like the other trillion people in our pile here, pulled us from this book?" When really, the thing is, I Encapsulate What You're Looking For, people!

Anyway, do we have any thoughts about this Rick Warren inauguration brouhaha? I'm trying to check my biases in favor of Obama, in that he's oh so like me, but I've really become a pragmatist, focused on the actual concrete results. So, while I may find someone's views odious, if my options are to either (1) give this person a moment in the sun that doesn't affect policy (sowing good will with his more mainstream, less odious followers and marginalizing the leaders whose views are even more odious, at least in the sense that to bigotry, they add global-warming denial) or (2) having them affect actual policy, I'll go with option 1. You can neutralize the more-odious (see above) and build coalitions for other endeavors (like combating global warming). I'm inclined to suck it up and trust Obama's sophisticated view of long-term strategy.

Juan Williams didn't fail to disappoint me on this topic on NPR this morning, though! In his usual, unique way, he managed to bring up the "black and hispanic support" for Proposition 8 in opposition to gays. Splintered coalition! Oh, the humanity! If only we could reassure the normal white people amid all this chaos.

As It's Been Two Whole Days Since Our Last Snowstorm

We are supposed to be getting a foot of snow--mixed in with some ice and sleet, just to make it interesting. Yay!! I may have to bust out the new snowblower, if I can successfully (1) start it and (2) shove it through the frozen weeds on the side of my house (don't ask. my yard-care mistakes become apparent when it seems least likely).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Detritus of a Life

Things you find while cleaning out a desk:

1. Matches belonging to predecessor (tenure: circa 1998-1999), who smoked
2. Ketchup packets, dated 2000, salt and pepper packets, dated similar
3. John Grisham novel, indeterminate origin, sticky, stained with unknown substance
4. Unknown person's rolodex, times 2
5. ATM receipts from Philadelphia (???)
6. Travel guide for Cancun/Cozumel/Yucatan
7. Necklace not seen in at least 5 years and presumed lost
8. Unsent Christmas cards to people I no longer keep in touch with
9. Cheerful holiday card and kid pictures from now-divorced and estranged friend
10. Mailing address for sending sympathy card to family of friend who died in 2000

I Am in Love . . .

With the good samaritan who cleared my sidewalk (twice!). Whether this individual be man, woman, child, or St. Bernard with harness attached, I pledge my undying adoration to him/her/it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Words Not Used Enough

This occurs to me every time I'm listening to Belle & Sebastian: I love the phrase "herbacious border." It sounds simultaneously pompous and down-to-earth, conjuring up English estates and a grandmother's modest cottage garden. What's not to love?

More broadly, why don't we, as a society, make more of a conscious effort to use the word herbacious in everyday language?

Well, That's a Mild Bummer

The bloody blizzard going on means that festive annual birthday/holiday dinner plans at my favorite restaurant have been postponed.

Stupid Chicago winter.

Watching the Mileage Tick Over

I won't lie, I'm officially old. But as I am partaking of the Helen Mirren preservation rituals (bathing in the blood of virgins, etc.), I don't look a day over 23.

For my packing ambient music, I'm tucking into the newest collection of Motown singles (coincidentally from the year of my birth!). This one is from 1969, but I like it anyway.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Merry Betamaxmas

If you want to burn time in nostalgialand, go here. I will be going back later, when I finish filling crates and sorting through every fax I have ever sent ("Hi, I'm Laura, the new XXXX here, and I need you to review this. . . .")

Thanks, Erik.

Things That Go Well with a Packing Extravaganza

Sunday, December 14, 2008

We're More Corrupt! We're More Corrupt!

Than Louisiana, at any rate. Unclear is where Alaska falls on the continuum, but I'm confident that they don't approach it with Illinois's style and dedication to tradition. By god, if a racket works, you stick with it. It's somewhat endearing, if you think about it.

Illinois and Louisiana continue to have different styles of fraud—David Mamet vs. Walker Percy. Illinois' corruption culture tends to be mingy, pedestrian, and shameful. State legislators who sell their votes for $25 cash in an envelope (a scandal of the 1970s) do not tend toward braggadocio. When former House Speaker Dan Rostenkowski was caught filching postage stamps from the House post office, he pled guilty and apologized for his crimes (and was pardoned by Bill Clinton).

Louisiana's culture of corruption, by contrast, is flamboyant and shameless. Earl Long once said that Louisiana voters "don't want good government, they want good entertainment." He spent part of his last term in a mental hospital, where his wife had him committed after he took up with stripper Blaze Starr. When Sen. Allen Ellender died in office in 1972, Gov. Edwards didn't try to auction of his seat. He appointed his wife, Elaine, possibly to get her out of town. When Edwards ran for governor in 1983, he said of the incumbent, "If we don't get Dave Treen out of office, there won't be anything left to steal." (He also memorably said Treen was so slow it took him an hour and a half to watch 60 Minutes.) Raised among figures like these, Louisianans tend to accept corruption as inevitable, to be somewhat proud of it, and to forgive it easily.

And on an absolutely unrelated la vida Laura note, I went to a party yesterday at which I ran into the Worst Date Ever (you all have heard the story of New Year's 2006, which will live on in infamy, or at least as a cautionary tale to earnest single women everywhere). The tragic thing was, I was one unfortunately timed conversation away from making a clean getaway before he showed up. And instead of staying decently and sensibly at the other end of the house, perhaps waving absently ("You look somewhat familiar, maybe we've run across each other? This gesture should cover our social obligations"), or, better still, pretending we'd never met, he insisted on standing right next to me and making awkward chit chat! About my hair. Fun.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Here's to the End of the Week and a Successful Brie Endeavor

The brie: successfully assembled and baked, with no injuries reported! Furthermore, it was a big hit among the gathered.

In celebration of that, as well as to mark the end of this stress-laden week, I shall randomly dial up the tunes.

1. darling, sons & daughters
2. somebody got murdered, the clash
3. decades, joy division
4. operators manual, buzzcocks
5. surrender, black ivory
6. banking on a myth, andrew bird
7. f-hole, squeeze
8. harry rag, the kinks
9. dream time, the jam
10. needle time, elvis costello and the imposters

bonus: lullabye, by emitt rhodes

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Getting the Most Out of Your Office's Toaster Oven

I probably shouldn't get too ahead of myself until I successfully bake some tasty brie, but I think this could be kind of a brilliant book idea: Small-Scale Cuisine: 101 Dishes to Cook on a Hot Plate, in a Toaster Oven, or in a Microwave.

One of my coworkers was just saying how he had a roommate in college who used to cook, gourmet-style, on a hot plate. That is ingenuity. Shrimp scampi: Yum.

Also: This is really cool, a short animated film about real requests submitted to the Hulton Archive (online archive of historical photos).

(Why, yes, I'm on my lunch. . . . Why do you ask?)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cracker Vetter

There are many responsibilities in organizing a party, large responsibilities, small responsibilities, and teeny details. Just yesterday, for instance, someone came in to ask whether she should bring tunafish as her pot luck offering. Trying, unsuccessfully, to conceptualize this in bite-size-snack form, I told her, "Uh, if you want to . . . sure." Apparently sensing my hesitation, she suggested crackers, which I readily agreed were a handy and necessary accessory to many foods at a party--cheese, for instance, goes well with a cracker. She then went on to explain that she has some crackers just sitting in her cupboard, which were the wrong ones from what she meant to buy, so she could just bring them in. Okay. As this conversation progressed, I was starting to feel like I was collecting unused canned goods and other items for needy families.

So this morning, this same woman brought in her cracker offering. I thought she was just depositing them with me until party time, but apparently she just wanted to get my thumbs up on the type of crackers. As they were Ritz, I declared them to be sufficient. And these types of executive-level decisions are the reason why I'm getting my own office.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Last Class!

Underwhelming. Could have done without the weirdo chick insisting on writing, and reading aloud, porn and telling me she "thought of" me while she was writing it. How very nice. I think she thought she was being devastatingly funny. But these things remind me that I am no longer 19, and this, in fact, is a good thing.

Also: more snow. It's like Chicago is trying to torture me in small increments.

Test Your Thug IQ

Rod Blagojevich or Tony Soprano? Match those quotes!

Maybe He and Our Last Governor Can Share a Cell?

Proud times for Illinoisians (apart from the other guy, what's his name?):

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested today by FBI agents on federal corruption charges.

Blagojevich and Harris were accused of a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy that included Blagojevich conspiring to sell or trade the Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama in exchange for financial benefits for the governor and his wife. The governor was also accused of obtaining campaign contributions in exchange for other official actions.

Blagojevich was taken into federal custody at his North Side home this morning.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Stapler Saga: An Office Minion Playlet

It's been so very long, hasn't it, since I've regaled you with the drama of the office? Like yesterday, right? So picture the following scene. . . .

Office of soon-to-be former employee (STBFE), on his way to commanding an entire building and a staff of his own. Before he can reach that lofty height, he must slog through the next two weeks of office dilemmas/crises.

Student worker (approaching STBFE's door): Hey, STBFE, I'm looking for an industrial-sized stapler. [Office minion, Lord of idle students] says that you have one.

STBFE: I know that we have one that goes like this [gestures vertically, compressing large stacks of imaginary papers]. We also have one that goes like this [gestures horizontally, skillfully inserting stacks of imaginary papers].

Student worker: Yeah, the one that goes like this [gestures vertically], that's the one I need.

STBFE: I don't have one. It's in the work room with the other supplies.

Student worker: That one's broken. [Office minion, Lord of idle students] says that you have one that's black with red on it.

STBFE: I just have that one, on my desk. It's a regular stapler. It just plugs in.

Student worker: Oh. I'll tell [Office minion, Lord of idle students.] [leaves]

Moments later, phone rings.

STBFE (looking sucked of will, speaking mechanically): No [Office minion, Lord of idle students], that black with red stapler is just a stapler. It plugs in.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Why Must the Holidays Be So Stressful, Then Even More So?

My weekend mission: research, manic revision, and unpacking (ahem) from the Thanksgiving holiday in anticipation of the Christmas break. I wish I hadn't zoned out during the "submission tips" portion of our class, because I understand there's a cover letter component and precise instructions on paper binding that need to be observed. Plus, the snow keeps coming, in defiance of this "snow showers" description that insists upon.

On the work front, my office journal submission deadline (complete issue, in form that doesn't later make me want to rip my hair out in frustration) is December 15. In anticipation of this, my OCD academic editor is besieging me with correspondence minutia, e.g., volleys between him and Merriam-Webster (no, he doesn't just look words up) on existence and/or proper use of various words. This, friends, is why we have copyeditors and style manuals. No, I cannot convince him of that. My head may explode before we get to the 15th.

Also, my office is moving! I must pack and purge, as well as address the tender and vital concerns of those other obsessive souls in our suite: can we, in fact, set people to the task of pulling apart printer proofs and old bluelines and recycle the relevant portion??? I'm as green as the next granola, vegetarian type, but I can't stress the degree to which I don't care and can't rush this dilemma to the top of my list. Trash, recycle bin, whatever, figure it out, be an active citizen.

And one of my rocks at this place is leaving. I'm really trying hard not to think about it until I absolutely have to. But because I thrust myself into the departure-party logistics (with the sensible plea that folks actually consult the fetee before getting carried away with the details), I got drafted to be Organizer-in-Chief. It's supposed to be about arm-twisting volunteers for snacks and the like (austerity policies of the institution). However, we have one individual running amok with the idea that we need a Classy Do for bigwigs and all, all my friend's colleagues throughout the institution, because he has so very many (my friend has no idea what she's talking about).

So, because of this woman's insistence, we are doing two parties. And she seems to expect me to spearhead all the details on her insisted-upon Classy Do. I spent half the day on Friday designing her an invitation. She now is passive-aggressively pining for folks to volunteer up homemade dishes ("those dips in plastic containers are so tacky"). She also wants me to look into places to get a proper cheese tray.

Somehow, I've turned into this woman, queen of the party-planning committee.

If I snap, you'll know why.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Things That Would Be Really Lovely

1. FOOD. On account of imminent blood draw, I fast. The hallucinations are about to kick in. I must must have caffeine.

2. Another human being in my office space with the highly specialized, top-secret, elite skills of creating and executing mail merges. Every year, around holiday season, it is exhaustingly the same. Here I am, teaching people how to turn a spreadsheet (your friend) into a series of addressed envelopes suitable for mailing. It is always a revelation. Then, I end up doing them all myself anyway, because no one can trouble shoot the printer/xerox.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Entering Strange Territory

My writing teacher apparently may require my grammar-goddess expertise for professional development purposes.

He also thinks one of my stories is ready to be shopped around. Hence, research begins on where the hell one shops a story about a scorned woman with a voodoo doll and Loretta Lynn hallucinations (it's funnier than it sounds, unless you think it sounds funny, in which case, it's exactly as funny as it sounds).

It's Coming!

Oxford American's annual music issue, in bookstores, December 5. The rumor is that it's a special anniversary issue, with 2 discs--on with new tunes by previously featured performers, and one with all-new performers and tracks.

Through this, I also find out that Neko Case was actually born in Virgina. Huh.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hope Everyone Had a Nice Holiday

I arrived home from visiting the family with a cold, as is my custom. I also arrived home with a Christmas gift in the form of this nice new table on which I can pound out my masterpieces. Feel free to laugh at the ugly pillow for my ass--the chair is next.

Friday, November 28, 2008

What a Horrifying, Pointless Way to Die

Wal-mart employee, trampled to death on Black Friday:

The 34-year-old employee, who was not identified, was knocked down by a crowd that broke down the doors of the Wal-Mart at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, N.Y., and surged into the store. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital at 6 a.m.

The police said that three other shoppers were injured and a 28-year-old pregnant woman was taken to the hospital for observation.

Is there anything at Wal-Mart worth this kind of frenzy?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On Feeling Like a Bad Friend

We all know I strive for self-improvement, right? To be a better person and not be self-involved or thoughtless? Eternal work in progress, right?

So we may remember how I took this writing class a year ago summer, wherein I cranked out some questionable folktale-like material, had a dotty teacher, and otherwise had a mixed experience? Not having written anything since I was an undergrad (where my one writing teacher gave me such helpful tidbits as "more plot next time" or "cliche"), it was an intimidating experience going in. Was I a Writer? And what the hell did that mean, anyway? Did all these kids in the class stare at me and wonder what that old chick was doing, kidding herself? It didn't help that the whole class was populated by grad students and somewhat older people (but still younger than me) who had been writing for years. They were working on novels! I was writing dorky little stories about weed monsters. And if anyone said the slightest innocuous thing, like "boy, do I know from that weed monster too," I'd want to snarl at them, "what the hell is that supposed to mean?"

But while I insisted on donning my hairshirt, my good friend C dragged me along, took the class with me, and supported me all way. When we both came out at the other end disenchanted with the teacher and ambivalent on the process, she determined that we were damned well going to take the next class, with a better teacher. She wouldn't let me weasel out, even though I tried at every opportunity. I agonized about cat pilling, and she told me to call the neighbor kid. I complained about the flu, and she told me to be sure to pick up ginger ale before class.

Of course, she was right to make me stick it out. My teacher is really loving my stuff and fast-tracking me to the next level. I feel like I'm learning and getting better; things are clicking, and I have an idea what I'm trying to do. I have confidence that I actually can power through and produce something worthwhile.

My friend, who has been cheering since day one for me, telling me how she loves my stuff, has, alas, not had quite the positive experience I've had. She doesn't feel like she's writing good stuff, she doesn't feel like she's doing things right, she doesn't feel like she's got the innate ability to write the way that we're being asked to write. She's feeling like she's been reading the wrong stuff, not reading enough Literature. The flip side of my being stellar student and fast learner/experimenter as a result of my being a voracious reader is not having that framework and feeling like a failure because you expect yourself to just magically be and do.

All my pep talks and helpful suggestions are making no dents, and despite her enthusiasm to keep going with me to the next class in the series, she's making noises like she doesn't want to now. I cannot convince her that I was in that exact same spot, and that the only difference between her and me is that I've moved faster along the learning curve. I have a better idea of the possible, I'm a blank slate because I haven't been writing screenplays and genre fiction for years, like she has. She knows how to tell a story, she just has to figure out the details on how she wants to do it, which is of course where the devil hangs out. No two people are trying to do the same thing. A poet I personally will never be, and that's just the way of the world.

But, man, I'm starting to realize that my success and bolstering in this (and my thoughtless basking in same) has come at a price. And I just have no idea what to do, or if there's anything I can do.

Heroes Dish?

Are we watching and are we satisfied with the current turn of things? Or are we feeling overwhelmed by the need to keep track of all these damned details?

How disgusting was it when Mohinder slid out of his gooey cocoon? Sylar's not exactly 100 percent into this redemption thing, is he? I too would like the chance to manipulate him for my own fiendish ends, because I think, with the available skillset he offers, we could attempt some world domination.

And someone said something really funny, but I can't remember what it was. How sad is that?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Adjacency to Power

Obama and Biden are across the street from me this very moment, giving a press conference at one of our overpriced, honcho-preferred lunch spots. A couple of us walked over to see what we could see, and we saw . . . not much, actually. We walked through the building from one end to the other (first floor), saw the entrance to the ballroom where they were, and saw a bunch of cops giving us the hairy eyeball as we strolled. The media cameras were set up outside for his exit and we were wondering whether we could get in the same zip code to actually see anything. Seems unlikely. But as my lunchtime sandwich plans are in that general direction, I'll give a look-see.

In any event, the doorman is working on getting our personal message to the man, so Obama knows to stop by afterward. He suggested that, since he was from Detroit, it might not be that easy for them to speak the same language and bond, and whatnot. There might be some rivalry. He'd do his best, though. That's all we ask.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Today's Baffling Specimen

I'm sorry, but one part of the amusement of this online dealie is seeing the vast swath of humanity that's coming across my virtual inbox. The guy who speaks fondly, and at length, about his pocket knife. The undecided voters. The people whose intellectual lives are impacted deeply by Rush Limbaugh.

Today's submission is from someone in AR, who's a great reader (points for him!), but who talks about loving his country but hating the government, along with other right-wing thoughts that frame a worldview. His picture features him with his "hound dog." (In the back of my head, of course, I'm picturing Harlan Pepper.) I'm sure he's a really nice person, but I'm just completely mystified at what he thought the commonalities here might be, beyond some random and mysterious computer machinations.

On that last point, the real dealbreaker came at the end of his profile, where he posted a preemptive scolding to women thinking of closing him out based on Arkansas being "too far." We ladies signed up willingly for the broad parameters, because we understood that love has no geographical limitations! The computer matched us, so there is something there that should be explored! If we close him out on that basis, he'll know what kind of people we really are.

I should have done that, though, just to send a message about what kind of shallow person I am, but I just closed him out as not interested based on statements in profile. True enough.

I continue to wish there was a way to post anonymous feedback to some of these lonelyhearts so that they might refine their presentation. On a human level, I feel bad for them, because barring character defect or evil nature, I think people should be able to find other people that work for them. People who need people! But the eau de Anger and Desperation is just not conducive to persuading people to like you, and I don't doubt that it gets into a really angry cycle aimed at the people rejecting you.

But, of course, I want to stay a gazillion miles away from them myself even after they up the game. So I guess I should be pleased for self weeding.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Things You Learn While Camped Out at Sears Auto Center

Man, University of Michigan's football team really sucks this year. Eight losses? I actually made pained little noises while watching them ("Oh, jesus, you did not just drop that pass. . . .").

My car is newly pepped, though. And despite the fact that I saw my car, sans battery, with my very own eyes, my car radio didn't require the keying in of the special code that sent me driving to the South Side the last time I had the battery changed. Strange.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others

I can't remember if I mentioned that my office was going to move location sometime in January. It's not an epic move--we're just moving a block away--but it's a whole politicized process because space allocations are being very precisely determined. The new operating philosophy of the institution, in a nutshell, is: Do not think you are anything special, we can cram you all into a giant, open location, without so much as a taller-than-chin-level-while-sitting divider wall breaking up your new cubicles. Also: Behold! Collaborative, idea-generating environments! Special people with certain titles merit offices with doors, but everyone else is out of luck. It's a bit of a bummer after one has been used to having one's own office for many years now, with one's chosen music piping gently through computer speakers, but all things change, I guess.

As part of this exciting new frontier in real estate, I was slated to share an office. As these things go, it was pretty much the best of all possible options (a friend of mine at the same institution, different department, works in a giant cube farm now and has to chain her stuff down, as well as listen to every stray coworker cough or throat clearing all day long. And don't even get her started on the staring). In addition to which, my office mate only works part time. This was all very thoughtful and deliberate on my boss's part; I was getting minion preferential treatment. Everybody else of my pay grade or lower is in Cubesville. I was not at all unhappy with the arrangement.

But because I know people who are involved in coordinating all this, I found out that my boss had actually done some subsequent shuffling to leave me with a solo office (as a result of a coworker's leaving, although he will be replaced. So, a bit baffling, but still). This is of course Not Done. My title forbids it. People are not pleased with it. There may be repercussions. I presume they prefer that the office remain vacant rather than cede it to a lower-tier person. or that we should be bunched up in a room so that cubicles can lie fallow outside it. Possibly there will be enforcement activity to be sure that I am not, in fact solely occupying the office.

God love my boss. I am not, in fact looking to spearhead a rebellion. And I'm likely already on the watch list, on account of Hal (strangely, shortly after he arrived, ordering similar was no longer an option for anyone). But I'm thinking of inventing an employee who is never there when people come around--the extra desk will look used, and anytime someone pokes a head in from Central Admin, I'll shake my head sadly and say, "you just missed him."

None of this is my fault, you see. I can't help it if people want to give me stuff, right? In any event, I'm guessing that's how Ted Stevens spins it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Signs of the New Political Moment

Conversation with coworker this afternoon, with us discussing how other people in our office seem to think he's Mr. Cool Head in a Crisis.

Him: They seem to see me as this person, who, when presented with a problem, thoughtfully sits back and says "well, this is certainly a wrinkle. Let's think about constructive ways we can solve this."

Me: Right. They see this calm exterior, but really, inside you're freaking out.

Him: Yeah, they don't see that. They seem to have confused me with someone else, with Obama! He's my hero.

Me: Admit it, he's your man crush.

Him: [silence.]

And, friends, it wasn't the silence of disagreement. It's okay, you can admit to it, too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More Life Wisdom From Laura

I have had, over the past couple of weeks, numerous conversations with friends professing disappointment in some friend or loved one who upset them by not reacting or responding to them or a situation as they would wish--based solely on how they would respond in the same situation. When I inquire whether this expectation was communicated to the other person, the response I usually get is along the lines of: they should know, or it's only common sense. Then they nurse the perceived slight in silence.

Maybe it's just my new clarity of purpose, but here is what I endeavor to do in my own life (following up on my wisdom to never assume malice when you can assume cluelessness). Instead of expecting people to be mindreaders and/or exactly and precisely like me in interpreting all social cues, I will communicate my expectations when appropriate.

Simple, elegant, and so much less stressful. Not saying I've always done it, but, you know, work in progress.

I Laughed At This, Until My Favorite Lunch Spots Each Rang Me Up For $6.66. Now I'm a Believer

Is Obama the Antichrist? In the tradition of the great journalism of years past, Newsweek dives in to find the real answers. Or, they talk to some crazy people. You decide:
[the Antichrist, or, Our World-Enslaver Obama?] will be a sweet-talking world leader who gathers governments and economies under his command to further his own evil agenda. In this world view, "the spread of secular progressive ideas is a prelude to the enslavement of mankind," explains Richard Landes, former director of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University.

No wonder, then, that Obama triggers such fear in the hearts of America's millennialist Christians. Mat Staver, dean of Liberty University's law school, says he does not believe Obama is the Antichrist, but he can see how others might. Obama's own use of religious rhetoric belies his liberal positions on abortion and traditional marriage, Staver says, positions that "religious conservatives believe will threaten their freedom." The people who believe Obama is the Antichrist are perhaps jumping to conclusions, but they're not nuts: "They are expressing a concern and a fear that is widely shared," Staver says.

Peeerrrhapps. It's possible. It's conceivable that there may be some premature conclusion jumping. Maybe. Just in case, we're keeping our eye on the Rapture Index.

Before Christ comes again, those who are saved will ascend to heaven, according to this end-times theology, in a huge, upward whoosh called the Rapture. Strandberg is so certain that the Rapture is coming, he's bought a number of Internet addresses in addition to RaptureReady: AntiAntichrist, Tribulationus and RaptureMe. In the event that RaptureReady crashes during the apocalypse, anyone who needs an update will, with a simple Google search, be able to get one. Strandberg says Obama probably isn't the Antichrist, but he's watching the president-elect carefully. On his Web site, he has something called the Rapture Index, a calculation based on signs and prophecy of the proximity of the end. According to Strandberg, any number over 160 means "fasten your seat belts." Obama's win pushed the index to 161.

I'm going to be so pissed if everyone else gets spirited out of here, and I'm left to be vaporized by the minions of the Antichrist.

This Is What Comes of Moving One's Working Space into the Kitchen and Being too Lazy to Carry a Laptop (The Cords, My God, Unplugging the Cords!)

Heroes, my friends. I've been meaning to talk about Heroes, but as it required a special trip and specific intent, I didn't get around to it. I am enjoying it, even if I'm baffled by the Shakespearean drama of it all.

First of all, why why why must Hiro always be reduced to goofy comic relief? When, if ever, will he get to the badass future we know he can be? He thinks he's ten?? Really? The brain suck took his memory but not his powers? What was the purpose of that?

Not at all buying the Daphne and Matt. There's another game in there being played, right?

Guess we know who the mother of Sylar's future son is, although how is it his shirt got fried off but not his pants? He seizes his powers in future by being Jesus-like and forgiving? It seems a little psychotherapy driven. In addition to which he doesn't take so much as share, as Peter did (but their father doesn't; he just takes). Interesting.

Claire really is dull as a character. I keep thinking of her as a boll weevil; she's got a bold passive defense, but not much else.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Why, As Soon as They Get the Opposable Thumbs, They're Taking Over the Universe

Last night, I was carrying the cat around, giving her the house tour from 5 feet (she finds the stuff visible from that perspective--plants, knick knacks, dusty shelves--to be endlessly fascinating. I usually narrate, it's a whole big thing and keeps her from clawing my feet in boredom). I swung her around to the front door, and we peered out the window. At that moment, a low, dark flash of movement flew down the sidewalk, surprising the hell out of both of us. It looked too big to be a cat, way too fast and lithe to be a dog.

So, our odd moment concluded, and me wondering what it was I had just seen, I put her down on the floor. She raced to the radiator, then to one of the front windows, where she proceeded to claw the blind from the side and peer behind it into the direction of the disappeared flash. I was right behind her. I would have run out into the street, but the neighbor who already thinks I'm crazy for utilitarian cat swaddling saw me staring with her out the window.

Suburban weirdness.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My New Favorite Thing: AdBlock

Right click, make obnoxious ads disappear! No more tortured animals warning against the evils of meat (thanks PETA), no more half-nude ladieez or provocatively draped cheerleaders advertising Bulls tickets on my thoughtful, politically oriented sites.

Yeah, yeah, what I see as a bug, you see as a feature. One more example that we are living here in Dude Nation.

Damn, Twenty Pages Is, Um, a Lot

I have just concluded the first draft to this monstrosity of a story I've been working on for what seems like forever (my story of genius, in fact). It was an experiment in a free flow, in which I kind of let it do whatever the hell it wanted to do without freaking out about What Happens Next. I'm pleased with the shape it's taken; I think it's going to be decent. Oddly, or perhaps appropriately (this is all pretty new to me, so what do I know), it kind of created its own logic and sense--some of which didn't strike me until later. So I think that's a good thing.

I have no idea how people do novels, though. I feel like I've spent an enormous amount of waking and sleeping time over the past couple of weeks pondering this aspect or that and having these characters flitting around endlessly in my mind. Huh.

Meh. Still Not Liking the Jazz

Happily, I left the deal after intermission. There was absolutely no reason to be there, as there were too many people and the table was on a different floor and completely ignored by everyone.

Oh well. Live and learn.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Yes, Now That You Ask. I Am a Sucker.

I had learned my lesson on volunteering many years ago. I'll tell you a story. As a favor to someone I work with who I knew was dealing with a lot to get a fundraising deal off the ground, I signed up to work a posh deal that preceded a performance event. They were desperate for people, I was told.

So, on a Saturday, I went. The second I got there, before I could even take off my coat and without so much as a hello (because I was the help), I was seized and shuffled off to . . . stand by the elevators and point around the corner to where the event was taking place. I think I saw about five people and directed one. I sat out there by myself for an hour. Meanwhile, the other volunteer--higher up on the food chain than I--was sipping champagne and chatting with guests. I felt like the high schooler hired to take the coats--invisible and inconsequential. It wasn't how I envisioned myself as a professional representing an institution.

After that, I wasn't as eager to offer up my services. I'm very much a team player, but a crucial component of that is not wasting people's time and treating them with respect. Different rules for different people make me very cranky.

Lately, though, I'm finding a certain amount of obligation inherent in this promotion concept. I understand it goes with the territory. And because the two people higher up the food chain committed to attending the same event at which our boss requested representation, I felt it my responsibility to put a face on event number 2--who else was going to do it?

So I am set to attend a concert of music I really don't like, by myself, that doesn't happen until 8. I had thought I had made tentative dinner plans with one of the conscriptees going to the other event. But alas! The second he found out that there were two of them going, he bailed on that and is going home. The same person, naturally, that I volunteered for at the first event (and he bails on every event, be it birthday, baby showers or whatever, so I shouldn't be surprised).

Every man for himself, I guess. Not what I want to be doing with my Friday night. But for some strange reason, I'm feeling a seething hostility.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Odds, They Are Pretty Astronomical

I seem to have four themes here these days: writing, cat, election, the tribulations of online dating.

In category four, I'm talking to two dudes who seem to have a bit more going on, at least conversationally speaking, than the rest of the prospects. Through a series of connections, I determined that a friend of mine actually used to know one of them about 15 years ago, very slightly, in a boss-like capacity. She confirms that he is nice. So, likely no serial killer! Yay.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Am an Engine Driver

By the time this class ends, I may be one or more of the following:

1. Permanently sleep deprived
2. Responsible for more than my tiny human part in decimating the earth's trees, thus bearing a larger share of the blame for the increased effects of global warming
3. Possessed of a files upon files and notebooks upon notebooks of meandering--though potentially promising--musings and half stories
4. Possessed of a couple of shiny, complete stories that are, if not profoundy and weighty with great insights, at least having appropriate resolution

I'm considering hiring someone to pester me and make me do things I don't want to do.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm Putting This on a Loop

This is really taking the edge off my day.

My Next Career Direction

I think I will become a soothing counselor of people, imparting my wisdom to give them direction in unlit times of life. Here's my first pearl:

Sometimes (not always, but sometimes) it's best to assume inattention, bad day, or other external factors rather than malice, particularly if the person in question is a friend. It is often the case that people are in their own heads completely and not even thinking about other people. We are surprisingly self-centered as a species.

My friend K and I discovered this nonoriginal bit of wisdom and have both found it to be a time and stress saver. No need to call committees to parse e-mails, seek second opinions on voicemails, and so forth.

Also, do yoga.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Too Much, People, Too Much

Your news from the online dating front. The guy (who won't fork out his photo, no less) who has, on his list of must-have's: a person who is above-average attractiveness level. While I'm flattered he feels I make the cut, I just can't parse the kind of person who thinks that way. It makes me wonder, for example, what happens when his partner has the bad taste to gain weight.

Also, I'm noticing a baffling abundance of guys who consider motorcycle riding to be one of life's great pleasures. Not to say there's anything wrong with that, I just find it strange.

Another curiosity are the guys who list on their perfect scenarios things like "holding hands and gazing into the eyes of that special someone." I'm not unromantic, but that just makes me shudder. It makes me wonder if they have ever had a relationship ever, and if they're getting what they know from watching too much period drama on PBS.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I Believe This Is How Evolution Happens

It starts with the mollusks, running amok. Beware the bored octopi:

"Once we saw him juggling the hermit crabs in his tank, another time he threw stones against the glass damaging it. And from time to time he completely re-arranges his tank to make it suit his own taste better - much to the distress of his fellow tank inhabitants."

If my cat knew how to juggle, she'd totally be doing that.

In the Annals of "Stop Digging"

A coworker of mine, given to wearing muu-muus, occasionally likes to remark on my outfits. Once, I wore a long, hand-knit sweater, and after she commented how it looked like a robe, she then proceeded to furiously attempt what she thought was backpedaling but was really just compounding of the initial affront: "oh, I don't mean to say it looks bad!" "it's a pretty color!" "robes are nice!" etc.

In similar fashion:

[Sarah Palin] responded to a recent Fox News report that quoted anonymous McCain campaign staffers who said she did not know Africa was a continent, not a country, and could not name the three countries in the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“If there are allegations based on questions or comments I made in debate prep about Nafta — about the continent versus the country when we talk about Africa there — then those were taken out of context. And that’s cruel, it’s mean-spirited, it’s immature, it’s unprofessional and those guys are jerks if they came away with it taking things out of context, then tried to spread something on national news,” Ms. Palin said.

I am so pleased that, soon, this will all just be a bad dream, and we'll be bitching about the tax policies (coherent and well explained though they may be!) of the Obama administration. That's going to be so refreshing.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The First Friday after the World Changed

This requires celebratory tune spinning.

1. whisper to a scream, elvis costello and the attractions
2. bargain store, dolly parton
3. teenage lobotomy, the ramones
4. she's hearing voices, bloc party
5. we are the pipettes, the pipettes
6. bones of an idol, new pornographers
7. as long as i got you, laura lee
8. victoria, the kinks
9. lounge act, nirvana
10. monster love, goldfrapp

Another day off for me, and I am trying to get some more writing done. Eventually this weekend, there will be raking. I know, you all are envious beyond all telling of my exciting cosmopolitan lifestyle. Hope you have good plans on tap.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oh, Onion. It's Like You Read My Soul

Election aftermath:

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

This reminds me that I need to remove the buttons from my messenger bag.

Your Random Journal Thought of the Day

"If I'm going to have long hair, I insist upon having it ultra soft and sexy, as indicated by my rosewater conditioner."--my friend M.

The logic of why I deemed some things important to scribble in my journal is indeed mystifying.

No, it's not related at all, but this is what I aspire to do with my life:
creative loafing and professional-grade napping

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This Is Huge, No?


News You Can Use on This Election Day

Via Chicago Public Radio, music critic for the Chicago Tribune remarks that there will, in fact, be no mosh pit at the Obama rally tonight.

I'm so disappointed.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I Wouldn't Call Myself a Superstar, Exactly, Just Possessing of Superstar Qualities

I had my mid-semester meeting with my writing teacher today, which I was dreading, if for no other reason than that per my experience with the format, it resembles something like a pop quiz ("What takes your attention? Circle it! Circle it!"), something that normally just makes me feel stressed out.

Instead, it turned into a free-form discussion of my writing, what I want to accomplish, what works, what I should rethink, how I should think about where to take things from here.

He asked me how I felt I ranked in the class, and for a flashing moment I considered a numerical ranking ("somewhere ahead of chick X, but way behind dude Z"), but I just said that I thought I rocked pretty well at the sentence level, but that I thought I needed help with the bigger picture and where to take things, how to move the story along, and so forth. Have a few people cut you off as you run off on a tangent while telling a story, and you develop a complex. Anyway, he told me he thought I had it all down and was one of the strongest writers in the class.

So, I have been given special dispensation to shelve the big project for the class (my small-town U.S.A. yarn) in favor of completing a couple of stories that he thinks I can get into publishable form. Which is awesome by me.

Wow, It Begins

A coworker just came back from her usual lunch walk around Grant Park and vicinity, and she reports that it's "like Hollywood" out there, with cameras and news crews everywhere trying to take the pulse of the man on the street. She ducked and ran when confronted, apparently squeamish about her television debut. She also says that fences are up, streets are blocked, tents have been put up. It is huge.

And, I give thanks for not being this old: others in my suite are wringing their hands about having to work past 3 pm and being forced to deal with the commute back out of the city via public transit. The word "hardship" was used. Mind you, the rally doesn't begin until 8:30, and all traffic for that will be from the other direction.

I See a Challenge and Large Crowds, You See Opportunity

I managed to score an Obama election-night rally ticket! If you're curious, all it took was hedging my bets on several friends' short lists, then some pathetic begging. I also understand from fellow wait-listees that the campaign is sending around e-mails telling them that there are no more tickets. I have not yet received this, so it's possible they've reviewed my generous donation history and are bumping me to the top of the list as we speak.

The really crazy thing, though, is that people are trying to sell their plus-one tickets. I just got an e-mail from my friend, onto whom I'll be glommed to get into this thing, telling me that I owe her $1500. Can you believe that? Do you think people will actually fork out that much? It seems insane when you can stand across the street, for example, and probably get just as good of a view, which is to say none at all.

Of course, all of this will be a nonissue when I win that coveted backstage pass! Obama and I would then be fist-bumping directly when he wraps this thing up.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

News That Could Save Your Life

The Bee Gees, not just disco kings:

US medics have found the Bee Gees' 1977 hit Stayin' Alive is an ideal beat to follow to perform chest compressions on a victim of a cardiac arrest.

Research says it contains 103 beats per minute, close to the recommended rate of 100 chest compressions per minute.

An author of the study said many people were put off performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)as they were not sure about keeping the correct rhythm.

He said CPR could triple cardiac arrest survival rates when performed properly.

The study by the University of Illinois College of Medicine saw 15 doctors and students performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on mannequins while listening to Stayin' Alive. They were asked to time their chest compressions with the beat.

Call this one more thing to look forward to in the new political age.

People Can Sometimes Be Baffling and/or Sad

Here are the guys online who really leave me confused. Possibly this is just me projecting my own views and approach, but it strikes me as a bit sad how much effort some of these guys go to in order to impress a complete stranger with whom they may have zero compatibility. Instead of approaching it as a way to choose among people who may or may not be a fit for them and getting to know folks a bit, evaluating, with an option to move on if said person isn't what they're looking for, they attempt to morph to please.

For instance, take guy number 1, Mr. Apolitical. He asked if I were concerned that he didn't share my enthusiasm for following politics. I explained that it was kind of a ponderable question for me: I like to talk about politics and current events all the time, therefore anyone who spends time with me has to at least be able to tolerate that. That's just who I am. He followed up by gamely trying to talk about the election coverage on the radio.

Guy number 2, Mr. Not-Looking-for-Drama, parachuted into his first e-mail conversation with me suggesting the meeting place and scenario for us to connect, citing his confidence at our shared values (which weren't actually; he'd projected his own priorities onto some vague statements I'd said). I wrote back telling him that he may be reading into what I said about X, Y, and Z, so if that was what he was looking for, I may not be the right gal for him. I told him that I was happy to communicate via e-mail for a while to see if there was a common thread or not. He actually came back and argued his case with me! This system doesn't tell you anything, and how do you know about compatibility, and this is why you have to meet face-to-face, etc. Good lord.

I'm guessing they're not getting a lot of hits from women, so they're in the "don't-reject-me" posture. I almost want to give them tips: Pssst, we can smell desperation from miles away!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Some ghostly goodness for you: can you see the face in the picture?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Telemarketing: The Dialogue

Laura [picking up ringing phone, wine glass in hand]: Hello? . . . Hello?
Dude: Hello Ma'am. Is this Ms. [XXXX]?
Laura: Yes. [sighing in polite irritation.]
Dude: Ma'am, I'm XXXX with the Cook County Police, and we're looking for your donation to support our officers. It would help provide bullet-proof vests and other needed supplies. Can we count on your pledge of support?
Laura: I'm sorry. With the election, I'm tapped out on my charitable donations this year.
Dude: Even just fifteen dollars would help, ma'am.
Laura: I'm sorry.
Dude: That's okay. Who are you supporting in this election?
Laura: Obama.
Dude: Great! Your money's going to a good cause.

[Hometown favored-son moment of pride punctuated by metaphorical, over-the-phone terrorist fist bump.]

Early Voting Is Awesome

I have just freed myself of having to do heroic commuting contortions on election day! Contrary to rumors, the line wasn't bad at all (for the suburban voters; the city voters were another story; I guess it was sort of like reverse commuting to hit Chicago's polling place rather than Bungalowville city hall).

And the touch screen voting was ridiculously easy. I know, I can hear you all groaning about the reliability of these things, but demonstrating the fine wisdom of the state of Illinois, there was actually a paper receipt that you could verify to make sure your vote got recorded correctly. Still, my friend A is convinced that the cylinders of paper will disappear to parts unknown after the Republicans steal the election.

I guess my comfort in missing the Obama rally is that I won't have to worry about getting to my polling place by 7 [imagine me melodramatically, in woe-is-me fashion, putting my hand to my forehead]. Heh.

I Didn't Know John McCain Smoked

Also, Joe Biden is much shorter in tights.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh, Jesus Christ

Just got a match request from a dude who listed, under his things most thankful for, "Rush Limbaugh, because the older I get, the more he makes sense."

I think I may have to add to my personal info the fact that I am a feminazi.

So Much for Being Part of History

From the Obama website:


Thanks for signing up for the wait list for the Election Night event in Chicago.

If tickets become available, you will receive an email with further ticketing information.

If you do not receive further information, you will not have a ticket and will not be admitted to the event.


The Democratic Party

In Case You Were Wondering on the Verdict for My Story of Genius

My "loosest" piece yet, particularly at the beginning, but it gets choppy at the end. Given that it was a free-form experiment, I see what he means. Also, I didn't really finish it, so much as stop writing. I think I spend too much energy trying to make things profoundy.

And the other thing I thought I had finished needs an ending. Plus, we apparently "discussed" which long form piece I was going to do (the one he remarked worked well, conceptually, but on which he didn't comment further). Of course, I spent the weekend working on another that isn't working so well conceptually. I knew I should have gotten clarification. Sigh.

There will be class conferences next week, so, presumably, I can grill on exactly what it all means.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Boots of Evil Were Made for Walking

The Tick, animated version, season 2: it's out on DVD and on its way to my mailbox.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

This Is Most Excellent

Intergenerational, interracial terrorist fist jabs and the Wall Street Journal!

I have also unearthed another one of those strange species of "Undecided"/"Pox on Both Those Parties" voters (this person's particular subspecies, "Faux Ponderous Libertarian"). I think David Sedaris puts this thinking in its proper framework:

I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

I mean, really, what’s to be confused about?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Things That Please Me on a Weekend

New shoes, specifically these:
You can never have too many pairs of black shoes (or, in this case, "gunmetal").

In a related vein, my friend M believes that we both need to sign up for a shoe study that she found out about. Seriously, people in graduate school do sociological studies on stuff like this. It's brilliant.

Et Tu, Base?

For 2012, Republican voters would prefer, well, not Palin:

Check out this question asked of Republicans, looking ahead to the 2012 election:

If John McCain is not elected president, which one of the following three possible candidates would you be most likely to support for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012?

Mitt Romney 35%
Mike Huckabee 26%
Sarah Palin 20%

Romney?? Seriously?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Well, This Is Distressing.

One of the people forming the main front against impending insanity is leaving town for greener pastures. I am pleased for him but bereft for myself.

I've Come Up with a Revolutionary Concept

Hey, Republicans: A thought. Instead of spending so much energy trying to shut down early voting in key Democratic-leaning parts of Indiana and having to spread yourselves so thin to suppress, suppress, suppress the vote, how about just persuading people to vote for you? Come up with some ideas, draft a few proposals, give it the old college try.

The McCain campaign's highest paid staffer? Palin's makeup artist. I think this says everything you need to know about what they propose to offer our great nation.

It's rainy. My ipod feels I need an adrenaline injection and helpfully provides.

1. tropical bells, olivia tremor control
2. chicken wire, pernice brothers
3. teeth in the grass, iron & wine
4. chump change, new pornographers
5. wilderness, sleater-kinney
6. rise above, black flag
7. wonderland, xtc
8. the promise, the cure
9. warsaw, joy division
10. like eating glass, bloc party

And I was just thinking this morning how I was in a Bloc Party kind of mood.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This Is the Buzz Among My Peeps

Obama's election-night party: Grant Park.

On the one hand, it would be so historic and exciting to be part of what will likely be an enormous crowd that will gather for this. On the other hand, as a friend remarked, how much would it suck to not get the bad news should he lose, and to be in the back of the crowd, cheering and oblivious?

It's a class night, so I'll be downtown. So I'm wondering if we'll get let out early to join the throngs. It's not like we'll be getting home in a timely manner via car, right?

Dude, I'm Losing the Thread

I can't keep these match guys straight. Is that bad?

Also, fun fact: One of these guys is originally from the U.K., experienced punk at its inception, and saw a bunch of these bands live. And I can only watch documentaries.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Your Health-Care Related Stressor for the Day

Here's an article on the nightmare otherwise known as the individual healthcare market. I point this out in the interest of elaborating on my previous post about the consequences of McCain's horrible health care plan.

Also, I wish someone would explain to me the hand wringing about Obama being off the campaign trail for a couple of days (!!!!) seeing his ill grandmother. A friend of mine just expressed concern about the prospect, and I have to say I'm befuddled. Obama hasn't actually been campaigning every day (and McCain's been spending all of his weekends at home; but you see where it gets him in the polls). In addition to which: there are planes! I think we'll muster through while he says his final goodbyes to the woman who raised him.

And related to me and completely off topic, I spent last night furiously writing on something that I thought was just goddamned brillliant--authentic, emotional, raw, innovative. I'm a genius! So enraptured was I that I typed it up for class and turned it in tonight and fantasized about my classmates' rapt attention when it was read in class.

Of course, in the cold light of day and without the even minimal wine involved, I'm now convinced it's actually obvious, gimmicky, and not at all clever. I hate that. It may be best to have simple expectations: wanting to tell an engaging yarn rather than reaching for ART. You need, not the sledgehammer I seem to inadvertently be grabbing for every occasion but the velvet glove, you know? It's a process best begun when one is a teenager, this writing of the pretentious stuff.

Serenity Now!

Annals of the surreal: I just had a protracted, multi-email exchange with one of our more useless office denizens. Imagine, if you will, technophobic administrative support in an era of the personal computer, and the hijinks that might result from that scenario. Said denizen is also a awe-inspiring master of that skill of window-dressing busywork to cloak the absolute stillness that comprises a normal day.

Window dressing requirements have led this person to pretend to create a bunch of useful forms in a central location, notwithstanding the existence of most forms in said location for many years. I myself have done many, if not most, because I refuse to write when I can type. Ergo Acrobat has long been my friend.

First, we discussed me teaching the creation of these things called "fill-in pdfs," because all the kids are doing it (again, as before, for years). Having better and more important things to do, I declined to provide the much-belated tutorial on handy office-support functions, and somehow some other poor soul got enlisted for this thankless task.

Anyhow, the technophobe office support denizen and I just had a protracted conversation revolving around the naming of my long-existent form and her attempts to "rename" (the illuminating clarity of "new office form" over "office form new" I presume you'll find self evident) when all she was doing was copying. Thus following this exchange were officious office-wide announcements, as though she were creating all of these things and providing valuable work flow.

In my grownup world, I think: how sad is it when your demonstrations of accomplishment involve taking credit for other people's whisked-off admin tasks, done 3 years ago?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Heroes: Family Grudge Match

I'm liking it, I'm liking it.

1. Claire, doing her thing, being heroic! Good for her.
2. Gruesomeness of the patriarch ripping out his feeding tube and his tracheotomy, then instantly healing. I appreciate it, how sick is that?
3. Sylar, trying to be good!
4. Peter, having that whole parental dilemma.
5. Some of us called it on Hiro's wilyness.

More please.

The Weather and My Mood Demand It

Another reason I love these guys: referencing (in a different song, but still) one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems.

To Update the Curious

I don't doubt that there is much interest in the ongoing online dating process among some quarters, particularly since it seems to have been chugging along for quite a while now, no? Apologies for the lack of information.

Alas, it is a complex, multistage, screened process, so while I am "communicating" with 6-8 potential suitors at any given time, I actually haven't spoken to anyone directly yet. The odds get handicapped as new information gets revealed about each potential candidate. I am not, as will be no surprise, expecting a great meeting of likes with the motorcycle enthusiast in Montana.

Honestly, if and when there is something to report of consequence, I will no doubt be sharing stories. I just can't promise that there will be anything consequential, given the variables (see above re: Montana). The net is wide, I rule out no one except the obvious hostiles and loons, but as it stands, only 2 of these guys actually live in Chicago. So, barring some fabulous long-distance connection or a good hit off with one of the local guys (potential for one, the other I don't see so much), the optimistic culmination of this process may just be a single face-to-face date. It's possible too that I would have a less oddball sample if I had opened it up to the dudes with kids under 18. I may do that.

So, we'll see. The gears of compatibility screening move slowly. Also, interesting tidbit: the number-one "Can't Stand" among this admittedly unrepresentative sample is "excessive overweight."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Yup, in a Nutshell

And very well put, even if I say so as one who feels there aren't enough Spinal Tap references in this sad sad world:

It's an oversimplification to say that the Republican party exists for the sole purpose of redistributing as much of the nation's wealth as possible into the hands of the richest one-tenth of one percent of the population, and that everything else -- the cultural wars over abortion and gay rights and the death penalty and drugs and crime and the terrorists -- is just a dry-ice machine at a rock concert, obscuring the descent of a severely undersized Stonehenge monolith onto the stage of American political life.


We Were Just Wondering if These People Still Existed

I've actually discovered someone who, post-2000, actually thinks both political parties are pretty much equivalent. All I can say is, dude, can I come live in your country? Because it sounds awesome and a bit like the nineties to me. I liked the nineties.

In other news, this weekend I write on my latest, completely original (!), story. My friend M continues to be a fount of inspiration into the sadder side of Smalltown, U.S.A.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Heroic Conclusion to Another Week

It seemed like a lot more work than it needed to be. The good news for me is that I got my interim title change, on the way to director status! Next up: taking over the world. Also, I will be pleased when this weather-related sinus stuff has moved along.

1. flags, sons & daughters
2. never learn to cry, rogers sisters
3. let me ride, bloodstone
4. sunday, bloc party
5. sunndal song, apples in stereo
6. no fun, sex pistols
7. she's a sensation, the ramones
8. mr. clean, the jam
9. sovay, andrew bird
10. we must have been out of our minds, george jones with melba montgomery
bonus 11: my superman, santogold

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Twitchy, and What's with the Thumb?

McCain, still looking petulant at the last and final debate, and not owning up to the, um, death threats at his rallys (but . . . but . . . there are t-shirts at the Obama rallies!!!!!!!).

The Ayers smackdown and ACORN!!!!!! McCain can't wait to sputter that out, answering the challenge. Just look at Obama laughing.

This man is so pathetic.

Why You Don't Want to Be John McCain Right Now

Strange times, people. Results from a Republican-conducted focus group testing whether an aggressive ad was effective against Obama:

Reagan Dems and Independents. Call them blue-collar plus. Slightly more Target than Walmart.

Yes, the spot worked. Yes, they believed the charges against Obama. Yes, they actually think he's too liberal, consorts with bad people and WON'T BE A GOOD PRESIDENT...but they STILL don't give a f***. They said right out, "He won't do anything better than McCain" but they're STILL voting for Obama.

The two most unreal moments of my professional life of watching focus groups:

54 year-old white male, voted Kerry '04, Bush '00, Dole '96, hunter, NASCAR fan...hard for Obama said: "I'm gonna hate him the minute I vote for him. He's gonna be a bad president. But I won't ever vote for another god-damn Republican. I want the government to take over all of Wall Street and bankers and the car companies and Wal-Mart run this county like we used to when Reagan was President."

The next was a woman, late 50s, Democrat but strongly pro-life. Loved B. and H. Clinton, loved Bush in 2000. "Well, I don't know much about this terrorist group Barack used to be in with that Weather guy but I'm sick of paying for health insurance at work and that's why I'm supporting Barack."

I felt like I was taking crazy pills. I sat on the other side of the glass and realized...this really is the Apocalypse. The Seventh Seal is broken and its time for eight years of pure, delicious crazy....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Catnip Is a Universal Right! Down with the Evil Vet-Care Providers!

I always thought the cat was kind of lazy, but it turns out she's really been hitting the pavement during the day when I'm not around.

This Is Just Sad

Boy, someone's going to feel pretty stupid at school, just like poor little Hubert Muskie Humphrey did.

A new father has secretly named his baby girl Sarah McCain Palin after the Republican ticket for president and vice president.

Mark Ciptak of Elizabethton put that name on the documents for the girl's birth certificate, ignoring the name Ava Grace, which he and his wife had picked earlier.

"I don't think she believes me yet," he told the Kingsport Times-News for a story to be published Tuesday. "It's going to take some more convincing."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Heroes, Up Is Down, Good Is Bad!

I'm back to enjoying the unpredictability of it all. Mohinder is turning into a spider! Puppet guy, creep city. Ando!!!!!!!!!! I know there's something we're not seeing here. Parkman's dad is back, as is the Petrelli patriarch. We're seeing the mechanisms behind the future "good guys" right?

Bring Us Your Tired, Your Hungry, Your Poorly Coiffed

I am nearly about to cut my own hair with a butter knife. My friend M suggests a very precise array of bangs in spike formation. She is correct that I wish not to look matronly, but rather funky; however, I think she underestimates the extent to which I have Ken Burns hair.

I'm open to suggestions.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What Happens When the Subtext Becomes the Text

A current feature of my workplace these days is that we frequently pop into each other's offices to discuss the state of the presidential race. Did someone miss a poll somewhere (Obama's up in Virginia!)? Has something happened in the last forty-five minutes that someone who didn't have the foresight to sign up for news alerts needs to be filled in on?

Today, for instance, our topic was the lynch mob that the average McCain/Palin rally has turned into (although it seems like there may be a bit of at least perfunctory dialing back, ads notwithstanding). Specifically, what in the world are they trying accomplish with this "he's a traitor, a terrorist, a Muslim, a foreign interloper" tack? Who in the world, except for the ignorant, the angry, the racist--the already converted, in other words--is buying this? And how in the world are you going to move the polls by alienating everyone else? Good questions, indeed.

My view goes back to a conversation I had a couple of months ago. My friend A tends to be pessimistic about everything this campaign, mostly because he's still feeling shell-shocked that the rest of the bozos in our country would vote for Bush twice. I remember talking to him when Palin was picked, and he was concerned that people would really warm to her in personal terms. I thought it was a catastrophic error on McCain's part, because he just lost his moderate facade.

The Republican Party's Faustian deal with the Religious Right is that they fall behind their candidate and work fiercely to turn out the base. At the same time, they also keep a low profile to allow the candidate to make gestures of moderation to woo the moderates and independents. Hence, crucial to this set up is that they trust that the candidate is sympathetic to their agenda and/or they receive assurances in the form of coded language and dog whistles; remember the baffling (to the rest of us) G. W. Bush Dred Scott reference? It's a delicate balance requiring trust, the proper language, and a bit of plausible deniability.

Enter John McCain. He isn't a true believer like Dubya. And he has had the bad taste to, for example, blame the Religious Right for the 2000 smear campaign against him in South Carolina. Remember the Huckabee surge in the primary? In short, there was no way that McCain was going to be able to consolidate their support with subtle gestures, so he was forced to make some major concessions to get them onboard. Thus, Sarah Palin. The base was mollified, and more so, ecstatic; however, the moderate mask that would allow McCain to get to the crucial 50+1 was dropped. He didn't have much choice, and there was always the hope that people would be so dazzled by Palin's personality and "authenticity" that they would assume that she couldn't possibly be extremist, or just not care that she is, because she seems so gosh darn nice (given precedent, it wasn't an unreasonable hope).

But since Palin's favorables are dropping like a stone, McCain's in a pickle. If he tries to dust off his moderate maverickyness, he alienates the base, which he just sold his soul to placate. If he embraces full wingnut mode to rile up the base, he alienates the moderates. Since the base is the larger, more reliable chunk, with some grassroots and fundraising machinery he desperately needs, his only hope is to cast his lot with them, maximize turnout on his side, tamp down turnout on Obama's side (One of the benefits of a nasty, negative campaign for Republicans is that it drives down turnout; they do best in low-turnout elections because their base votes reliably), suppress the vote, and hope for the best. It won't be enough, but McCain is nothing if not one to gamble with long odds.

The incitement to violence at the rallies then becomes incidental to the mission and has the added feature of planting seeds of Obama's illegitimate presidency. The troops need to be rallied to another impeachment fiasco! God help us, and let's hope some wackos don't try violence against Obama or minority voters at the polls.

Related to the Conversation About ACORN

This bit was very helpful to me in putting the story in context. I guess I wasn't alone in misunderstanding how ACORN is actually run:

ACORN registers lots of lower income and/or minority voters. They operate all across the country and do a lot of things beside voter registration. What's key to understand is their method. By and large they do not rely on volunteers. They hire people -- often people with low incomes or even the unemployed. This has the dual effect of not only registering people but also providing some work and income for people who are out of work. But because a lot of these people are doing it for the money, inevitably, a few of them cut corners or even cheat. So, inevitably someone will end up filling out cards for nonexistent names and some of those slip through ACORN's own efforts to catch errors. It's important to note that in many of the recent ACORN cases that have gotten the most attention it's ACORN itself that has turned the people in who did the fake registrations. These reports start buzzing through the right-wing media every two years and every time the anecdotal reports of 'thousands' of fraudulent registrations turns out, on closer inspection, to be either totally bogus themselves or wildly exaggerated. So thousands of phoney registrations ends up being, like, twelve.

And, further, the point about the feasibility of accomplishing fraudulent voting this way:
I've always had questions about whether this is a good way to do voter registration. And Democratic campaigns usually keep their distance. But here's the key. This is fraud against ACORN. They end up paying people for more registering people then they eventually signed up. If you register me three times to vote, the registrar will see two new registrations of an already registered person and the ones won't count. If I successfully register Mickey Mouse to vote, on election day, Mickey Mouse will still be a cartoon character who cannot go to the local voting station and vote. Logically speaking there's very little way a few phony names on the voting rolls could be used to commit vote fraud. And much more importantly, numerous studies and investigations have shown no evidence of anything more than a handful of isolated casing of actual instances of vote fraud.

So assuming the workers who are forging the voter registrations are self-sabotaging Democratic partisans (or Republican plants, for that matter) misinterprets things. The important thing here is the very coordinated reaction to and framing of ACORN's defrauding:

What you're hearing right now from Fox News, the New York Post, John Fund and the rest of the right-wing bamboozlement chorus is a just another effort to exploit, confuse and lie in an effort to put more severe restrictions on legitimate voting and lay the groundwork to steal elections.

It's that simple.

If Not for the Vexation of Vandalism, I Would Have Been Able to Save My Nice Wine for the Weekend

My friends, here's to a good weekend for each and every one of you. I will be writing up a storm (I think I've worked out the arc of the latest writing assignment, a murder-mystery-type affair). In addition to which, I'm suddenly inspired to clean up my yard so that it doesn't look derelict. It kills me that the house next door, where no one lives, has fewer weeds than I do when I clean up every week. It's a conspiracy all around.

The soundtrack to my pre-weekend:

1. we travel the spaceways, sun ra
2. take your carriage clock and shove it, belle & sebastian
3. rudie can't fail, the clash
4. who's gonna save my soul, gnarls barkley [this one goes out to John McCain, my friends]
5. she heightened everything, pernice brothers
6. spring succeeds, olivia tremor control
7. typical girls, the slits
8. pretty words, elvis costello and the attractions
9. profiles, the mystery meat
10. starshine, gorillaz

bonus, just because I feel like it: i really got the feeling, dolly parton

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Somewhere, Dick Cheney Is Smiling

It's good to be king, or queen, as the case may be:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - On the eve of a report on a legislative panel's abuse-of-power investigation into Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, campaign officials released their own report clearing her of any wrongdoing.

In other breaking news, I've looked into the matter and declared myself innocent of all office-supply borrowing charges.

Teenagers Suck

Let me tell you about my evening. After I got home from work, I fed the cat, then--recalling I had to run out to cat sit--trundled out to the garage. I had to take out trash on the way, meaning that I had to go out into the alley proper. Alas, I discovered to my dismay that my garage had been tagged. (Mine wasn't the only one, I saw as I was driving through the alley. There were about 3 or 4 others.)

I was so pissed that I immediately set to scrubbing it off, in my skirt and high heels. Two dudes came up, though, while I was doing this to tell me that (1) they were next-door neighbors who lived across the alley, (2) that the graffiti had happened a few days ago (no, I don't usually drive, why do you ask?), (3) they had already called the city's vandalism number to take care of it, and (4) dude 1 was a former cop and our block captain. Yay! In addition to which, my kindly newly found neighborhood block caption, after relating how the city's one dude with a power washer was a bit slow, offered to power wash my garage with his own washer tomorrow. Yay, again!

They seemed pretty sure, for some reason, that it was just a single obnoxious kid making a pest of himself. Maybe the dog-walking gives one special insight into the alley goings-on. Whatever. I'm seriously fantasizing about moving to an island somewhere with an agrarian economy.

I Saw Someone Wearing These This Morning

For a second, I looked around for Marilyn McCoo, because I just knew the rest of the Solid Gold dancers would be busting a move shortly.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Grandpa McCain's Debate Smackdown!

I wish I could offer some astute thoughts (or mockery), but since I was at class, I missed it. I heard that it was dull and didn't promise to be a game changer for McCain, who really needed it to be one. I was hoping, at any rate, for some Ayers-related testiness. What's was up with the "that one" dismissiveness? Did it sound as much like the cranky lady complaining about the kids next door as it sounds? Did I miss anything notable? Is Obama really a secret Muslim infiltrator?

In lieu of piercing political analysis, I offer up some of the output from my writing class last night:

Doesn't it seem like a creepy parody of a ghost story to you?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I seem to be having a McCain kind of evening. I think I will blame it on the rain, which seeped into my brain and prevented me from being able to construct a sentence in my class that began with "There"--it took me three times to get the right spelling.

Plus, I find it depressing that my eharmony contact requests thus far are of the old-dude types (to whom I'm a comparative whippersnapper! So call that a silver lining). I mostly don't care at all about getting older. We all get there if we're lucky, and so far I love the wisdom and general refusal to put up with nonsense that comes with it--plus I plan on going all European, sexy sophisticated, aesthetically speaking. Catherine Deneuve, rather than Cindy McCain, if you catch my drift. But dealing with the dating pool in an abstract manner like this (as opposed to meeting people in other contexts one-on-one and getting to know them as individuals) really brings out the trends. I.e., the dudes my age want the younger women, the older guys feel it's perfectly appropriate for them to be similarly hunting for women who are not their contemporaries. I have a friend who's about ten years older than I am, gorgeous, blonde, and we went to a fast dater singles thing a couple of years ago--I think one guy out of the 20 we met chose her, and a good chunk of them were her age or older.

This is not to say that age gaps don't work (absolutely, they do!), but, again, I'm speaking about general attitudes rather than about individual. When you're dealing with the aggregate, it tends to reinforce one's perceptions of women having a sell-by date, even if you're not someone who buys into that.

Yes, it's irrational to care one way or the other, particularly if you really are dealing with anyone who feels that women are unattractive/not good for birthin' past a certain age. Jerks! Who cares what they think! But, you know. Everyone single person must adore me, even the assholes I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.

Hey, I Do Know a McCain Supporter!

I got an e-mail forward today on Obama "fact-checking" (less incendiary than some and more along the lines of "your tax plans weren't all fabulous like you think, Obama!") from my kindergarten best friend, whom I haven't talked to, beyond exchanging Christmas cards, in at least 10 years. She's a very very religious home-schooling mom of four who believes the man is the head of the household, and so forth. She hasn't experienced my cursing, atheistic, wine-drinking, hedonistic, feminist, citified self up front and in person, it's true, but I thought it was implied. My reply to her ("Tell me how things are with you! Please take me off your McCain list!") got bounced back, otherwise I'd sincerely like to quiz her down. She's very smart, and I'm curious how she perceives things.

Very odd.

YIKES, LET ME AMEND: I didn't do more than skim past the first couple. His name is ARA-bic! He's not really Christian! Dear god.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Heroes: Still Not Feeling the Love

I think my expectations are too high, because I'm just bored. Am I misguided? Thoughts?

This Is Outrageous

I can't describe how angry this makes me, how irresponsible it is:

So we have McCain today getting his crowd riled up asking who Barack Obama is and then apparently giving a wink and a nod when one member of the crowd screams out "terrorist."

And later we have Sarah Palin with the same mob racket, getting members of the crowd to yell out "kill him", though it's not clear whether the call for murder was for Bill Ayers or Barack Obama. It didn't seem to matter.