Monday, October 01, 2007

In which I appease Drew and Meg.

I spend a lot of my time these days on the train to and from San Francisco. This is actually pretty great because it gives me two guaranteed half hour blocks of time each day to read. As such, I finish 200 pagers in about 2 days. It's awesome. Other than the fact that I have to get up early in order to get parking at the BART station, I will never ever complain about this commute. I'm on the train at an early enough stop on the line to guarantee a seat every day, and I guarantee a pleasant ride by intentionally sitting next to people who also have books.

This, however, does not guarantee a lack of crazies.

I mean it. If you want to meet some choice characters, start taking Bay Area Rapid Transit.

I'm trying to get into the habit of cataloging all the strange and interesting folk I see on the train, but that may be something I have to discipline myself to do after this whole wedding business is over and done with.

I'm really ready for the wedding thing to be over with. Thank God its less than two weeks away. At this point, I seem to only be concerned with my bridesmaids' abilities to purchase evening appropriate shoes.

Other than riding the train, most of my time not spent working has been devoted to making tiny canisters of personalized M&Ms look pretty with film strip-style bows and little name cards and such . . . or handwriting 160 place cards and stamping them with pictures of the food that person intends to ingest (little golden chickens and little silver blue fish and shiny green carrots) . . . or flipping through guidebooks to decide where I want to squander my money when I'm in Spain.

I'm rather exhausted. The wedding business is a lot of extra work, and I look forward to using up my last bits of energy in Spain, and then veging out with my new husband and watching a lot of TV.

I promise details of our adventures in Spain and many many stories about the crazies I see on the train . . . but for now, I'm sure I should be writing movie names on clapboards (our version of table numbers).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I love a good Dutch Oven.

I am getting married in about 8 weeks.

My evenings consist of creating spreadsheets for the caterer, using multicolored post-its notes to arrange seating, scouring the internet for gifts for the groomsmen, purchasing things (favors, accessories, place cards, thank you notes . . . and so on), and obsessively checking my registries to see if anyone has bought me presents.

Certain presents have already arrived, and one seems to have been burgled by Target, a company that will not resend things after they have been returned to the sender because they were erroneously delivered to an incorrect address.

If you happened to buy me the Hamilton Beach Toastmaster, I am sorry. I will not be mastering toast anytime soon unless you purchase it again (with your refund) and send it to my new address.

Presents are why would should all get married. Seriously.

You don't even have to get married, actually. I'm fairly certain that the internet will let you register for gifts for any occasion. I suggest doing this for all of your birthdays, housewarmings and the third Thursday of every month, which could become a day to celebrate your awesomeness.

Here are some things I've received on my porch recently:

*A set of ceramic mixing bowls. Red on the outside, white on the inside. Neat little pouring spouts.
*A 10-piece Kitchen Aid nonstick cook set, featuring a stock pot, a high-sided sauce pan, 2 saute pans, 2 small saucepans and 4 assorted lids that fit these things. They are red. With rubberized grips.
*A set of 6 gorgeous martini glasses.
*A Mario Batali Dutch Oven. (Jennie Orphan makes jokes about this all the time, but it is the most useful piece of cookware I've ever owned.) It is red.
*A 20-piece set of gorgeous mahogany-colored Asian style plates.
*A set of low bowls to go with said 20-piecer.

All of the mahogany-colored things looked redder online, to my slight dismay. They were too beautiful not to love.

It wouldn't be fair to say that I'm getting married just for the presents, but the presents are what make it a bearable thought in these final stages of planning.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

In the bedroom.

Easily the most important room in the house, the bedroom was the first room we set up on our very long, very tiring moving day. This is the fantastic Cal King bed we got off Craigslist for $350. There is a large possibility that it could be one-of-a-kind, as we purchased it from a furniture craftsman with an obvious pituitary gland disorder. (He was a giant, close to 7 feet tall, and his larynx seemed too large for his throat, causing his speech to be strained in an unusual way.) He told us he had set it up to show some hotel clients and needed to sell the model. So I assume that we may be the only people in the world with this bed. It has a padded headboard, as well as padded sides, which seems slightly unnecessary. It is full of awesomeness.



The bedspread we got at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Those who know me know I prefer everything to be red, but in the interest of design and compromise, I have decided to limit redness only to the one room in the house that is truly mine: my kitchen. We had wanted to do something very Indian/Peacocky with this room, but The Perfect Peacock Sheets by Natori are $600 just for the comforter, we decided to Moulin Rouge the place, by which I mean made it match our set of Moulin Rouge promotional posters. So this was the bedspread we agreed on, and it should be noted that the copywriters at the Bed, Bath & Beyond website seem to think that the stripe with the burnt velvet is in a leopard print pattern. It even looks leopardy in the picture. But do not be fooled! The burnouts in the velvet are actually flowers, which makes a lot more sense, considering that the embroidered panels on the bedspread also feature flowers.

And here are the aforementioned promotional posters around which this room is based:



Another thing I love about this place is that my closet is mirrored--never again will I not have the joy of full-length mirrors! Of course, for some strange reason, our hallway closet is also mirrored, which just seems unnecessary to me. There's no point in giving a hallway the illusion of width. Also, the hallway mirrors are a bitch to clean. But I have no complaints about the ones in the bedroom, even if they make our TV seem minuscule.



Finally, my dresser, which is a new product in the Ikea universe. It's actually so nice that it doesn't look like it came from Ikea. (The black-stained wood helps.) It was $270, and sturdier than any Ikea dresser I've had before. Thus far, the drawers have not sagged under the weight of my many clothings.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Mary, what kind of homosexual are you?


That color right there is mauve.

I actually wouldn't call that mauve exactly. The best name I have for it is perhaps "dusty rose" or pinky-grey, the latter of which seems to be the most truly accurate. It was not our color choice, but rather the choice of previous tenants, whichever one decided that the carpet du jour should be uncleanable, unnice feeling burbur.

So that's the true wall color. Let it be known it took me 3 or 4 shots before I realized that I needed to photograph it without flash because the wall is actually not a matte surface. Here are the rest of the bathroom features, with flash, so they're extra-shiny.

Ze sink:



Above ze toilet:


The art piece here is a limited edition purchased for me by my friend Anders several years ago as a birthday gift. It's called "Violet" by John John Jesse. Yes, she is a vampire dressed like a slutty Vietnamese soldier. Bare breasts are totally appropriate for bathroom art.

Ze toilet cove:



That remarkably small and slightly pointy toilet bowl is what we face every day. It's not the smallest toilet I've ever seen, but it does seem to be slightly irregular in size.

Anyway, the bathroom is not spectacular. I wish I had a good picture of the shoddy tile work, wherein the linoleum tiles don't quite match up and you can see the totally awkward harvest gold color that is under them. Regardless, the bathroom does its job. And is 8 million times nicer than any other bathroom I've ever had in an apartment.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Welcome to our evil lair.

I decided I would start sharing photographs of the house by starting with the least put together room so that your expectations have nowhere to go but up.

Welcome to our study/office/kitten restroom/evil lair/library/editing room/Marcus' closet.

We've got about five bookcases in here and all of them are full-ish. The anal retentive part in me spent about two days attempting to organize the books in some comprehensible fashion. Marcus has a shelf and a half of film books, nearly two full shelves dedicated to theatre books, and then the rest is about 4 shelves of text/reference books, an entire shelf dedicated to my thesis work (with Francesca Lia Block books stuffed in because they fit perfectly there) and the rest is all general fiction, divided either visually by size or somewhat categorically. (Black writers and poetry share a shelf, Dave Eggers and Chuck Palahniuk share a shelf with gay authors . . . It makes sense to me, and that's really all that matters.)

(That's merely a fraction of the bookage in this room.)

This is Marcus' command center of doom aka "editing suite." I tried not to photograph it too closely because, well, its the only area of the house that I've allowed him to control . . . which means its messy. (This is also the reason I did not photograph the part of the room that consists of his closet and the kitten's litter box.)



My current prized possession: antique roll-top desk circa 1930.



I actually just acquired this yesterday off Craigslist for about $60. That's an astoundingly good price for a roll-top desk, and if you actually looked at this thing, you'd know why. It is scratched to hell. It's previous owners obviously didn't love it quite as much as I will, but I do give them props for ruining the value of this desk by cutting out a hole under the roll-top hutch to run computer cables through. I mean, that's super clever and all, and I really appreciate it, but I'd never be able to resell this thing after I refurbish it for any decent value.



Luckily, I'm not planning on selling it. Ever. The desk actually has a wall-mounted shelf that goes above the roll-top, which I intend to refurbish before I screw it into the wall. (NB: None of the knobs on the desk are the original white ceramic ones. I've already replaced them with more attractive knobs.) I'm armed with wood filler, dark walnut stain and a satin-finish varnish. This desk and I will have a lifetime of fun together.

More to come, including the very odd shade of pinky-gray on our bathroom walls, my dining room chair project, the complete lack of wall-art in our living room and our impressive media collection.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A massive life drop.

While I'm sure its obvious to most of you, I haven't been posting in awhile. There are reasons for this, I assure you. Chief among them is the fact that I moved away from the Santa Barbara area and back to the Bay Area, and for the first week and a half of this new residence, I could not actually use my laptop at all. It seems that as I was selling off all my Santa Barbara furniture, Calliope no longer had things to climb and decided instead to nibble on the charger cord that brings my laptop the sweet gift of life. I did not actually notice this until the night before I moved in to my new apartment because squatting at my parents' house meant stealing their internet via their computer, since they don't have WiFi.

And then there was the mess that is this apartment.

Let me go back for a moment and try to briefly state the chain of events that lead to me moving back to the Bay Area: I was already considering looking for other work because living in Santa Barbara on the scant salary the Biz Times paid me was going to be far too difficult, especially considering the whole "I'm getting married soon" thing. So my grandmother offers me her house. I am reluctant at first because what the fuck do I need with a house, but I eventually cave to the notion of free rent. So I decide to move back here at the end of June. All is well, until I realize that my grandmother is offering me the house under the completely incorrect and not very well thought out assumption that I'd be going to "gradjiate" school in the fall (where? Berkeley?), and when I attempt to explain the process of graduate school applications and how I'm not necessarily planning on being in the state of California for the rest of my life, she decides she's not ready to give up her house because she thought that I would just settle down there and stay until I die.

What the fuck?

So in mid-May, when all this goes down, I have already quit my job, been replaced at said job, do not have a job in the Bay Area and now no longer have a home at which it wouldn't matter if I didn't have rent money. Fuck you, grandma.

My parents offered to rent Marcus and I one of their apartments at the reduced Mom & Dad rate, which is nice of them. And we are told we can move in July 2, which, due to the idiocy of the previous tenants and their complete inability to move their shit from the premises becomes July 6. Now, the obvious problem with this is that we had already made appointments for cable, electric, etc. to be hooked up, which requires the moving in of expensive televisions and things. The previous tenants acquiesce to this need and let us move giant televisions in on July 3, when we are scheduled to have cable installed. After we have hauled said giant light boxes up the stairs to our top-unit duplex, we get a call from the cable provider saying that they can't install internet because their entire internet system is down and, in addition, they are out of DVR boxes. So, we basically just hauled all that shit upstairs for nothing.

And then our house nearly caught on fire.

Shortly after all this, a giant wildfire breaks out in the hill above our house. Fortunately, the wind was blowing the flames steadily toward the more expensive houses, so our lives did not get progressively worse. We actually sat on the patio with our neighbor's little dog and watched all the firefighting action. That was probably the most exciting part of my whole first week back.

But we did finally get to move in on Friday the 6th and we made pretty quick work of setting the place up, at least in terms of the bedroom, living room and kitchen. We found an amazing Cal King bed with padded headboard on Craigslist for $350, a couch and a chair and a half for $625, tons of bookcases removed from my grandmother's possession and a lot of decently priced Ikea items.

But other than the slow settling in process, finding work has not been going so well, and the lack of having a job makes me restless and sad. I could fill that time with blogging, but I don't much feel like it. So the house update is my massive life drop for today. I'll post pictures eventually.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pop Art: Non-Warholian Paintings of Celebrities

I saw this link on PopSugar and decided it was too cool not to repost some of my favorite images. Worth1000.com held a Photoshop contest in which people photoshopped celebrities into Renaissance, Baroque and 18th century art (although there are definitely some modernists, post-modernists and impressionists that slipped in there). I think some of these work a lot better than others, by which I mean the face of the celeb is so smoothly integrated into the artistic qualities of the original painting or fit the qualities of the original so well that it seems like the celeb was part of the original.

For instance, I think Viggo Mortensen really does look like Albrecht Durer:



And while I don't know the painting this portrait of Natalie Portman is referencing (though I believe its Degas from the color and brushwork), I think it was the best integration of Natalie's face out of all the various Natalie Portman art portraits:



And if anyone were going to be in a Tamara De Limpicka painting, it should be Marilyn Manson and Dita Von Teese:



This one of Orlando Bloom as Jacques-Louis David's Telemachus in "Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis" is a particular favorite because Orlando already spends so much of his time in Ancient Epics:



See? He fits right in.

I'm going to post one more to conclude, just because I like the idea of making a comedy about the American revolution starring Jack Black as Paul Revere, that guy who took all the credit for something a Jewish vacuum cleaner named Israel Bissel really did. (I would suggest that Israel Bissel be played by Sacha Baron Cohen, since we know that we cannot put Jack Black and Ben Stiller together in a movie lest it fail like Envy did.)




Here is a link to all of the entries, for your amusement.

Awesome Band Names, Part 1

I spend a good deal of time turning example sentences from my linguistics courses into band names. These are usually things taken from the word for word translations or example sentences in languages other than English. I'm hoping to make regular lists of these, and lists in general. (Because clearly, the thing I'll miss most about my current job is making lists every week.)

So, my first list of awesome names for bands, with a description of the kind of music I want them to play:

1. Trash Pasta (a ska band from Jersey City)
2. Rancid Crab (a Rancid cover band, preferably from Baltimore)
3. poweredbylesbians (a lesbian grunge band, with possible forays into hair metal)
4. Mr. Apple Says Ow! (my Japanese pop group)
5. Wackernagel Clitics (I can't imagine what kind of music they play, but I sincerely hope it involves accordians)

Friday, June 15, 2007

I am full of facts.

I have managed to resist these for a while, but part of me always secretly wants to fill them out. So now that Jenn, Bri and Drew have done it, I will cave in to peer pressure.

1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Eight acts of my randomness:

1. Every morning, my cat and I engage in a battle of wits over my cereal bowl, wherein I must contort myself into a number of positions to prevent her from sticking her little cat hands into my milk. Sometimes I win. Sometimes she wins. But I don't know why she does this because she knows she will get a little bit of milk when I am done anyway. It really seems unnecessary on her part.

2. I have a face that crazies trust. I have had people touch my feet on the street, follow me around grocery stores to talk to me about the U.S. Army, and chat me up in Russian because I was dressed so nicely I just couldn't have possibly been American. (Who are these people and why do they find me?)

3. I had my first and only seizure in a hookah bar on Haight Street.

4. I have thrown up into a creme brulee bowl in an Irish restaurant in Las Vegas.

5. The best Christmas gift I have ever received was an "FBI Agent Kit" from my dad when I was 13. Because I loved The X-Files so much, my dad not only got me lots of show memorobilia including the action figures from the recently release movie and season by season episode guides, he also created an elaborate box full of X-Files references. He bought me my own trench coat, a giant flashlight, bags and bags of sunflower seeds (because they're Mulder's favorite), a leather-bound copy of Moby Dick (Scully's favorite book) and a little stuffed Pomeranian (because Scully had a Pomeranian named Queequeg). My dad has continued to hunt down little X-Files treasures for me to this day. A few Christmases back, he bought me Mulder and Scully's FBI badges. Last year, I got a bust of David Duchovny.

6. I have auditioned for the Jeopardy College Tournament.

7. I have accidentally ordered a blowjob in a bar in Italy. (I didn't get one. People were reasonably sure that I didn't really mean to order that, as I don't have a penis. What was I trying to order? A grapefruit.)

8. I love carnies in a way that people probably shouldn't love carnies, and yet, I find clowns to be scary beyond all reason.

I can't tag anyone because all the people I would tag have already been tagged or have already done it . . . except Marcus.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cake or Death?

Death by Cake by Daniela Edburg

Eddie Izzard does this bit about poorly designed executions in which the soon-to-be-dead are given a choice between "Cake or Death?" Naturally, everyone chooses the cake, and when there is no more cake, cheeky dead men walking suggest that they'll have the chicken instead.

That's only mildly relevant to the photograph above, but it appears that the subject has chosen both cake AND death.

The photograph is part of a series by Daniela Edburg exploring women, horror movies, gustatory desires and the subsequent consumption that must occur. Each of the women in the "Drop Dead Gorgeous" series is ultimately consumed and destroyed by that which she has overconsumed in life. There are some that refer specifically to the containers in which things come, but I find those to be less artistically interesting than they are conceptually interesting. ("Death by Saran Wrap" features a woman wrapped in a spiders web of Saran Wrap, her desires for freshness and confinement literally choking her to death.)

These photographs remind me of the work Cindy Sherman did in her "Untitled Film Still" series, in which Sherman herself posed in various costumes and settings that would evoke archetypical scenes in films. The point, of course, was to make them look as authentic as possible, such that they could be mistaken for an untitled film still.

Edburg does this kind of referencing, as well. Her references are not to genres as Sherman's were (although "Death by Tupperware" is a reference to hentai pornography, including a cat looking up a girl's skirt as she is strangled by some tentacled being in her frige), but to specific films and specific paintings. "Death by Cotton Candy" intentionally references The Wizard of Oz, in addition to being incredible beautifully composed.

Death by Cotton Candy by Daniela Edburg

"Death by M&Ms" could be a fate awaiting my friend Magen, and its this photograph that feels the most like Sherman's to me. Perhaps its the very 1970s nature of the photograph that connects it to Sherman's work in my mind, although I would guess that the more specific reference is to The Valley of the Dolls.

Death by M&Ms by Daniela Edburg

Edburg also references art. "Death by Oreos" references Whistler's "Composition in Black and Gray" (aka "Whistler's Mother"), but I find this one to be much more interesting:

Death by Slimfast by Daniela Edburg

It's based of Ingres' "Le Grande Odalisque," which I find uniquely disturbing because of the odd ways in which this woman's proportions are stretched (much like Dennis Leary's neck in this ad).

Ingres, 1814, Oil on Canvas

I love that the girl in "Death by Slimfast" seems to retain the kind of oddness about her body that the original Ingres work features (just look at that elbow!); it pairs incredibly well with the message about distorted body image presented in Edburg's photograph. Even the face in Edburg's piece is eerily close to the Ingres for me.

Daniela Edburg's other photographs in the "Drop Dead Gorgeous" series can be seen here, along with her interview with The Morning News.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Living on the Hellmouth

To those who have seen my Netflix queue, it is no secret that I have been immersing myself in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I realize that I am about 10 years too late for this show, but how was I to know that when I was 11, Buffy the Vampire Slayer would become such an important part of my life?

I can't say that it will replace The X-Files at the top of my Television Shows I'm Obsessed With list (because even though David Boreanez is playing a Fox Mulder-esque character now on Bones, Angel and Mulder are in two completely different worlds, and I like Mulder's world better), but I feel like now that I have ventured into season 4 and the absolutely worst actress in the world seems to not be sucking so much in her strange plot on the UC Sunnydale campus (yes, I mean you Lindsay Crouse, the ex Mrs. David Mamet), I can readily admit this:

I am a Buffy fan.

And to all those who have attempted to reference the show to me over the years, I'm sorry I was missing out. You all had every right to think I would like this show. I'm pretty certain that a decent amount of people in high school thought that my best friend and I were vampires. I own a bust of David Duchovny. I read tarot. I knew far more about mythology and the occult than most people ages 11-14 reasonably should. Why the hell wouldn't you have thought I'd like Buffy?

I recall once asking someone what they were for Halloween because I didn't recognize the costume. When the reply was "I'm Drusilla," I blinked in the universal signal for "please continue to supply me with more information." "From Buffy," was the statement of complete disbelief I received. "Oh," I said. In actuality, I think this exchange happened twice on two different Halloweens with two different incarnations of Drusilla: Once in 7th grade with a girl dressed as the weak, insane and childlike Drusilla who doesn't understand that dead birds don't sing (this girl went as a member of The Craft the year before, so I think she has a sort of pop-culture occult costume fetish), and once my freshman year of high school with (I believe) my friend Veronica, dressed as the truly batshit insane, hyper-sexual "I like to cut you with my fingernails and lick off your blood" version of Drusilla. In retrospect, these costumes are not perhaps the most easily recognizable, but anyone keen on the Buffy universe would have known immediately.

And that's one of the things I like so much about Buffy. I'm attracted not to the shows that everyone's watching, but often to cult shows. (And healthy doses of truly ridiculous reality television.) And I started getting into Buffy through Firefly fans, chiefly through Jenn. Jenn and I spent New Years' Eve watching Buffy season one and eating tasty cheeses and spilling beer on my couch. I went 5 months without watching Buffy after marathoning the entire first season in a night. And after I'd exhausted the other television shows I was Netflixing, I needed to find something to become invested in. So I chose Buffy.

And I'm hooked.

Season 1 was a little difficult to get through, but Season 2 was truly great. Dru and Spike are wonderful characters, and the story arc with Angel's turn hurt me so deeply inside because I am inexplicably invested in Buffy and Angel. (And now I get why everyone thinks he's so hot and why girls will watch Bones just for him.) The Season 2 finale was one of the best hours of television I have ever seen in my life, and everyone is right when they say that Buffy really hits its stride in Season 3--that's entirely correct.

I also find great joy in the fact that Sunnydale, CA is basically Santa Barbara, and that the kind of vehicular problems I experience in Carpinteria, Xander seems to always have in Oxnard.

But the two best Buffy episodes I have ever seen both involve an Oz storyline and that age-old man vs. nature motif explored in a number of ways. Season 3's "Beauty and the Beasts" features some class A writing from Joss Whedon's team, creating a 3-plot narrative rotating around the same theme: men as beasts and the women who love them. The weakest of these three stories is about a boy at Sunnydale High who turns a kind of Jekyll-and-Hyde trying to "man-up" for his girlfriend. This is subordinated to the greater plot about Oz discovering his werewolfness, and finished with a note of Angel returning from Hell, soul intact, but stripped of humanity. While the first plot I mentioned is somewhat cartoonish, it works its way into the other two quite well, but it is heartbreaking to see Angel come back to us, the viewers who love him, as something even less humane than Angelus and absolutely soul-crushing when the only English word he can muster is the name "Buffy." It is also painfully sad to see Willow realize that the love of her life will always be torn between loving her and fighting his beastly nature. What really makes this episode stand out for me is that it is the only one that uses a frame narrative from an outside source. Naturally, the episode is framed by passages from Jack London's The Call of the Wild that re-emphasizes the internal struggle of all three man-beasts in the story.

My second favorite episode so far is Season 4's "Wild at Heart," in which the internal struggle between the wolf within and the taciturn man we call Oz comes to full hilt. I'm fond of the title because it immediately made me think of David Lynch's film of the same name and Nick Cage as Sailor, but other than the inherent wildness of both Oz and Sailor, the two Wild at Hearts have little to do with one another. Oz discovers another female werewolf who also leads a very similar life to his (musicians by day, wolves by night), yet she seems to have embraced her inner wolf, balking at the human mask she has to wear by day, finding freedom in her wolf form on the nights of the full moon. She asks Oz, after the two have done some regrettable things "when the wolf takes over" if he isn't the wolf most of the time, imprisoned in his human mask, rather than Oz's attempt to maintain his humanity. Seeing the look on Willow's face when she discovers Oz locked in his cage with Veruca hurt me so deeply and I wasn't prepared for the fact that it would do so. But seeing Alyson Hannigan cry breaks my motherfucking heart. It's something about Alyson Hannigan that makes me hurt so much when she's sad. Maybe its because I identify with her current role on How I Met Your Mother, or that its so easy for a kind of geeky redhead to find herself identifying with other kind of geeky redheads.

It's these kind of story arcs that Buffy is great at, and they seem to happen over and over again. It may not always be a literal beast within (sometimes, it's an evil vampiric demon), but the show's best story arcs seem to hinge on the human struggle between the good parts of our nature and whatever form the bad parts might take.

I look forward to the remainder of Season 4, and the three seasons I have left after that. And maybe, when I am deeply saddened that my Buffy journey will have come to an end, I'll move on to Angel.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pestillence and paper products.

On Tuesday, a fly infestation was discovered in the kitchen of my office.

On Wednesday, I arrive at work to find our kitchen has been quarantined for bug extermination. The place had been "bug bombed" the previous evening.

On Thursday, the power goes out twice after I have left for class. In addition, the source of the fly infestation was unveiled upon the discovery of a rat carcass in the kitchen.

The carcass cost $150 to remove and our Managing Editor had to sign for the removal of said carcass.

I miss all the fun.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Because dishes don't just clean themselves, you know.

I once wrote a note to some rude playgoers and gave it to them after the performance. (I wrote about it once, but I don't feel like going through my archives to find it. If you're curious, I'm pretty sure it happened in Spring 2004. Possibly April.)

This was the beginning of my journey into writing and leaving passive-aggressive notes.

Because Cassie knows that all of my notes left around this house have always only pertained to one particular roommate, she recently directed me to a blog called Passive-Aggressive Notes.

I only wish that some of my notes were as creative as these, especially this dude, who really went all out in terms of theme and typographic style:



And I only long to do this with the dirty dishes and other items that creep their way into everyone's living space and were clearly the remnants of a certain roommates' irresponsible freedom trail, which is amazingly devoid of people who are not, in fact, said roommate:



Unfortunately, I don't think said roommate quite got the picture the last time I left a dirty, cinnamon-encrusted dish on her bed. The next day, that dish had magically migrated to the kitchen table. And stayed there. Thus, I clearly should have left an accompanying note.

I know that technically its a lot easier to just tell people when they suck, but leaving angry notes in a variety of Sharpie colors is a lot more rewarding for some reason. It's like the life equivalent of a detention slip. Or the non-legally binding equivalent of getting a parking ticket.

I feel like I should submit the notes about cottage cheese that are on the office refrigerator.

Or perhaps the passive-aggressive notes from the fish asking us to clean their bowl . . .

Monday, May 21, 2007

For the apparel doth oft proclaim the man.

I have a Denmark sweatshirt that I made when I costumed Hamlet on the Moon. It's just a thing. When you are involved with Hamlet, you can own a Denmark sweatshirt even if you aren't Danish or haven't been there. And when you costume an entire production by yourself, you definitely are allowed to own an item of clothing commemorating it. I wore this to work last week, for some reason.

Today, I have this conversation with one of our ad reps.

Ad Rep: When did you go to denmark?
Me: Oh, I haven't been.
Ad Rep: Where'd you get the sweatshirt, then?
Me: I made it.
Ad Rep looks puzzled.
Me: I costumed a production of Hamlet once.
Ad Rep: I grew up in Denmark.
Me: Oh. Uh, well.
Ad Rep: Hamlet takes place there.
Me: Uh, yes.
Ad Rep: I grew up next to Castle Elsinore.

And my only response to this exchange is: "I don't think I ever would have known that about you."

But obviously, if we follow his logic, its because he doesn't own a Denmark sweatshirt. So, you know, Polonius wasn't that off-base, I guess.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Yeah, about that whole saying "no" to rehab thing . . .

I love listening to Amy Winehouse. Her soulful doo-wop inspired sound is something I haven't heard in the past decade or so in pop music. Not since Lauren Hill's reinvention of doo-wop for "That Thing." But man, this girl is not fun to look at. I try to believe that every woman has the potential to be beautiful, and somehow the makeup and hair gods managed to make Amy look presentable for her album cover and music video, but I'm not totally sure how that's possible. They clearly had a lot of crazy genetics and refusual to go to rehab working against them:

Yikes.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Cooking South Beach Style

Ted Allen, of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fame and an occasional judge on Iron Chef America, will be joining Padma, Tom and Gail as a fourth judge for the third season of Top Chef, which I will be watching religiously when it starts up again on Bravo on June 13. (The rest of the cast is up on the website, as well, but I only see the judges via this link.)

The show will be moving to Miami for this season, which is a good movie because it will keep a lot of variety in the food challenges. It's not that LA's food scene isn't vibrant and full of wonder on its own, but I'd like to see Top Chef move to different food hot spots for each season. After Miami, they could move on to New York, Portland (Ore.), San Francisco (!), Atlanta, Seattle, Denver . . . well, maybe Denver is a bit of a stretch. But I like the idea that Top Chef could keep a bit of variety by moving around the world of American cuisine.

Also, with Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen returning for a third season on June 4 to its Los Angeles location, perhaps the cooking competition scene is a little too crowed in the City of Angels. We all know Tom Collichio is great at crafting steaks . . . but Gordon Ramsay hunts his own deer.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Photographic DNA evidence.

From Meg, via Will.



I'd say that the program's analysis of the images is pretty accurate. It was very difficult to choose my form of art, however. There were so many good choices. And I missed the vice section entirely, yet the program seemed to know that I have an absurd number of shoes, among them several pairs of Chucks . . .

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Baba kreslo.

Marcus: "According to 'The Amazing Race,' Polish people hate dwarves."
Stevi: "It's cuz dwarves steal their peroghis."
. . .
Marcus: "Clearly, my eyes aren't in as much pain because I'm making jokes about dwarves."
--discussing the exploits of Charla on the current season of The Amazing Race

This discussion was later followed by my explanation of what peroghis were called in various Salvic languages, which was met with the following from my loving fiance:
"In Russian you suck!"

Friday, April 27, 2007

Six degrees of Dr. Blight and MAL.

Meg H. brought up the character of Dr. Blight in the comments section of my original Captain Planet post, which brought up some extra strange intertextual coincidences on this blog.



Dr. Blight looks like she could be Jem's mother--they both seem to share an affinity for pink clothing and bleach-blonde hair. Prior to my Captain Planet research, I had received a text message from a friend stating that "Meg Ryan's dog looks like her." Less than a week later, Wednesday's episode of Shear Genius involves the recreation of Sally Hershberger's famous "Sally Shag"--known to those of us who are not into hair so much as "the Meg Ryan." As if Miss Ryan could not be a larger part of my life in the past week then she already is, I discover this:

Meg Ryan was the voice of Dr. Blight for the first season of Captain Planet.

And here I thought the only voice work she did was in Anastasia. Man, I'm wrong about an awful lot of Captain Planet-related things, aren't I?

It actually gets to be even more like a multimedia game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon than three Meg Ryan mentions within a week. Also in my original Captain Planet post, I referenced Tim Curry as the voice of the evil toxic smog cloud in Ferngully: The Last Rainforest. And this will bring us back to Dr. Blight.

Dr. Blight, in her slinky pink catsuit, is a bio-terrorist with a partially burned face (like a sexy version of Two-Face from Batman . . . although the Harvey Dent part of Two-Face is pretty fine in most of his incarnations). She also has a super computer that, much like Synergy on Jem and HAL in 2001, is sentient. Dr. Blight's computer, called MAL, was voiced by Tim Curry for the last few seasons of Captain Planet. (Notably, not when Miss Ryan was lending her voice to Dr. Blight.)

I'm very interested in the idea that Jem and Dr. Blight could somehow be related across the cartoon universe. Especially since, in yet another weird coincidence in the world of voice talent, Kath Soucie, who lends her shady Russian accent to Linka on Captain Planet, was also the voice of Ingrid for about 7 episodes of Jem.

Now if only he'll take us to the Dairy Queen to show off our new Balenciaga bags.

Tim Gunn has a new book out, and I will be rushing to Borders after work today to purchase it and read it while drinking and watching What Not To Wear tonight.

Behold:

There is an arcticle on MSNBC that features some exerpts from the Almighty Tim Gunn's
Guide to Quality, Taste & Style. The kicker for me--which makes me want to run out and buy this immediately--is not Gunn's many suggestions for stream lining a wardrobe and cultivating one's own personal style, but the fact that on page two of this article he compares fashion to the philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard.

Gunn writes:
"For Kierkegaard, a “classic” results when form and content meet in perfect harmony. In our case, the content is the person inside the garment; the form is the garment itself. Some form and content marriages are quite obvious. Examples that come to mind are Paris Hilton and the line Heatherette, or Audrey Hepburn and Givenchy."


Fashion can be an intellectual pursuit, and I think Gunn proves this well by paring his Kierkegaard with Givenchy. Like Audrey Hepburn's character in Funny Face, there is a place in the fashion world for bookish intellectuals.

Thank you, Tim Gunn! Will you be my life coach?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Gonna take pollution down to zero.

I love Captain Planet. I really do. The girls from WETT and I spend a good deal of time yesterday talking about how early 90s cartoons indoctrinated us into a variety of forms of environmental action, and how that is the current purpose of a film like Happy Feet. (Which also has a lot of other things going on in it that I will not discuss now.) We learned to save the rainforests and not create toxic smog (which would ultimately be voiced by Tim Curry) from Ferngully: The Last Rainforest and those messages were further reinforced by Captain Planet.

Until last night, though, I have been in error about one crucial part of my CP knowledge. I always believe that the coolest part of the show was the fact that the American kid was wheelchair-bound. I thought it was an interesting statement on the political mobility of our country, being somewhat in-stasis in regards to environmental issues. I also recalled that the wheelchair-bound American kid was somewhat cruelly named "Wheeler."

I brought up these facts--my Captain Planet Wheeler facts--last night. And I was met with blank stares.

"Was not the American kid in a wheelchair? And was he not, in fact, named Wheeler?" I ask.

"Are you thinking of the kid from the Burger King Kids Club?" That's the response I get.

Somehow, over the years, I have managed to conflate the image of fully-mobile, American, red-headed "Fire"-power Planeteer Wheeler:

with this auburn-haired, jean jacket-wearing parapalegic kid who is, in fact, very cruelly nicknamed "Wheels:"


I guess this is because I ate Burger King a lot as a kid, or, as Cassie informs me, those BK Kids Club commercials usually ran during Saturday morning cartoons. Thus, it would be really easy for me to conflate the able, fire-producing body of one man associated with wheels to the disabled, burger-ingesting body of another. I checked out the article on Captain Planet and on the Planeteers on Wikipedia today to be certain that, at the very least, my fiery American kid was at least named "Wheeler." He was. So I'm half right.

Frankly, my version of the Wheeler from Captain Planet is a lot more interesting. I guess it does make a lot of sense, though, that a red-headed American boy from Brooklyn (who acquired his power ring in an incident related to a mugging) with a temper would be given the power of fire.

What might be even more interesting, though, is that the real Wheeler, not my imagined Wheeler, doesn't seem to be interested in things with wheels at all. His favorite activity, according to the Captain Planet junkies on Wikipedia, is windsurfing.

Edit as of 8 PM:
I am even more confused as to why someone--even an imaginary unseen cartoon parent--would name their son Wheeler, as Wikipedia seems to indicate that Wheeler's full name is Wheeler Sloane. Now, if those names were reversed and he were Sloane Wheeler I would find that believable, but not given who Planeteer Wheeler actually is. You know, from Brooklyn. Not the Upper East Side.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Bringing the shag back into style.

Another wonderful text message:

"Meg Ryan's dog looks like her."

I wonder if they see the same stylist.

Filthy gorgeous.

Text message of the day:

"I want to lick your mutton chops and grab your love handles" From Marcus.

My response: "Do I have to be in drag for this activity?"

I'm like a chocoholic, but with booze.

According to a new study in the Journal of Food Science and Agriculture, fruity cocktails are now health foods!

Apparently, adding ethanol to berries boosts the antioxidants, meaning that I no longer have to drink booze that contains eggs to consider it a breakfast drink. I can now enjoy strawberry daquiris with my oatmeal and treat them like smoothies! Yay!

Happy hour is now all day long! Yay!

(Also, the link above contains the greatest closing line in the history of wire-service news: "The study did not address whether adding a little cocktail umbrella enhanced the effects.")

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Long live Swarley.

Text message from Marcus, which makes a nice follow-up to my last How I Met Your Mother post:

"I am having a Swarley situation right now at Starbuck's. The guy wrote 'Parkis' on my cup."

It is amazing how often names get misheard. At least, my coworkers state, he wasn't called "Farkis." That would be a lot worse.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

She told you not to use the fog machine while she's on the hippity-hop.

Next to Veronica Mars, this is my favorite non-reality show on television.

Mark Lotto of the Observer does a great job of explaining why you should be watching. So suit up!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The way to my heart is, in fact, through my stomach.

I fully expected the Food Network awards to go something like this:

Best Half-Assed Cookin': Sandra Lee for "Semi-Homemade"
Best Sweater Potatoes: Giada DeLaurentis for all of her low-cut tops
Best Douchebag: Bobby Flay for "Throwdown with Bobby Flay"
Best Ingestion of Sheep Intestines: Alton Brown for that one episode of "Feasting on Asphalt" where he goes to a Navajo reservation and learns how to grill sheep intestines

But, thus far, is actually way cooler than I thought.

The awards are not for people who work for Food Network. They are actually a celebration of food producers across the country. Awards have been given out to chocolaters, food-preparation inventions, ice cream innovations, etc.

A company called MooBella just won the ice cream innovation, and rightly so. I apparently just missed them when I was in Boston. There is a MooBella machine at Boston University.

Blast.

From this I have also learned that if anyone is ever in a bind for what to get me, you can sign me up for any of these food-delivery/food-of-the-month club services:
Potato Chip of the Month Club
Cheese of the Month Club
Soup of the Month Club
Pizza of the Month Club
Cake of the Month Club
Organic Fruit and Veggie of the Month Club
Potato Sampler of the Month Club
Beer of the Month Club

I'm also way into LobsterGrams, but please don't buy them for me considering I don't eat meat. You'd be better off sending me Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Bravo to Shear Genius.

I watched the entire season of Top Design, even though I basically complained about every minute of it. Magen and I just couldn't help watching it. We needed something to fill the void left in our souls by Project Runway and Top Chef. But Top Design just didn't make the cut for us, and I have several reasons why. Nevertheless, we dutifully sat down and watched it on Wednesday night after America's Next Top Model, and we were mildly entertained, as both of the loft spaces created in the final challenge were truly lovely. The episode, though, was still totally boring. But we watched because afterward, we knew we had to check out Shear Genius, the new Bravo Runway-filler, which was making its television debut. Anything is better than Top Design, we thought.

And we were right. Shear Genius is so incredibly entertaining. The cast of stylists are all fantastically absurd, from Tabitha (who literally looks as though she were a cat transformed into a human), the arrogant Frenchman Paul-Jean (who was kind of good looking and unfortunately eliminated), Dr. Bogie (who claims he is straight, but we definitely raised by a pack of drag queens), Evangeline (who is some kind of super quirky Italian-American gypsy), my new gay boyfriend Theodore (who has these beautiful blonde curls and reminds me of a non-singing version of Josh Groban), to Daisy (who is already my pick to win the competition).

The challenges are also good, and they involve a mix of "quickfire"-style challenges that demonstrate haircuts on mannequins, and hairstyling challenges that use actual models. The first challenge was to create a look using craft supplies from Michael's for a hair show. While no one specified that it would be the kind of black hair show demonstrated in one of the first challenges of America's Next Top Model during Cycle 7, that was clearly the idea. The judges wanted to see outrageous, but beautifully styled, hair.

In traditional black hair shows, the hair designs often involve moving parts, and the piece that one the Shear Genius hair show did, in fact, have moving parts and was designed by my new gay boyfriend Theodore:
That box on that girls head? Yeah, it opens when she pulls a cord hidden on the side of her curls. Genius.

Here are some of my other favorites:

What you can't tell from this photo is that she actually has colored balls of twine woven into her hair in the back and it looks AMAZING.
This one was done by Daisy, and themed "The Wedding Day of Marie Antoinette."
The rings of fake hair are wrapped around styrofoam donuts and attached to her real hair.

So, yeah, this show is awesome.

I have some theories, though, about why Top Design sucks so much, and why every other competition-show that Bravo hosts is so amazing.

Theory 1: The end-results on Top Design are too high-end for its consumer audience. And no one wants to watch anything unattainable.

Now, the goal of Project Runway is to create couture clothing pieces, however, the winner used to get a design job at Banana Republic and now gets to design their own line for Macy's I.N.C. This means that Runway is ultimately creating a consumer product that we, the viewers, are invested in seeing the results of.

Top Chef functions in a similar way. While most of us will never eat at the restaurants these chefs cook at (except for Mikey, who cooked at the only nice restaurant in Stockton, CA), we all eat, we all like good food and, in watching the show, we learn how to cook-high end dishes--or at least get an idea of how to do so. We go out and we buy daikon radishes and creme brulee torches and we participate in the food economy to which the show caters. (Pun intended.) We will buy the issue of Food & Wine in which the winning chef is profiled, and we will then have their recipes. In one way or another, the products created on Top Chef get to us.

Shear Genius seems to work on another product-of-consumer/viewer interest scheme. Everyone gets their hair cut. And most Bravo viewers are invested in having stylish haircuts. On this show, we get to see great cuts being created, which we can ultimately find screenshots of to bring to our stylists. We can have our own Shear Genius cut, but outsourced to a different salon.

Top Design doesn't work this way. We're not buying entire rooms, pre-fabricated on a budget of $162,000. We don't buy $8,000 chairs. We don't get to run around the Pacific Design Center and put tags on the things we want for our room and not really have to pay for them because we get to return them later. There is nothing featured on Top Design that we, as viewer/consumers, actually get to go out and buy. We don't partake in the show's economy. That's why all of the TLC home design shows are better, more entertaining, because the average viewer of a home design show is the kind of viewer who wants to staple fabric to their couch to reinvent it, to change a room simply by painting things--essentially, the kind of viewer who likes the Do-It-Yourself mentality.

And that is why Top Design sucks.

Theory #2: Models make everything better.

Project Runway
has models. The show couldn't function without them. Shear Genius has models. The show couldn't function without them. Top Design doesn't have models. It has carpenters. (Granted, the show couldn't function without them, they definitely aren't pretty to look at, even though they all have to wear matching outfits, just like the other two shows.)

But Top Chef doesn't have models, you say. But if you said that, you'd be wrong. The show's host for Season 2, Padma Lakshmi, is not only a cookbook author, but a Bollywood actress and model. I assume that the show did not maintain songster Billy Joel's wife Katie Lee Joel as host after Season 1 is primarily because she is not a model.

Therefore, models make everything better.

Lana Turner was always well turned-out.

I have been lazy/bored/busy/whatever in the past couple of weeks.

As you can see, I only managed to muster up the desire to change the look and title of this place.

I like the new design a lot better; it feels somehow more legible than the last, Edward Gorey-Tim Burton infusion I had. (Which I liked, no doubt, but it wasn't as . . . internety, if that makes any sense.) This incarnation I think has a lot of things going for it. The layout is cleaner, the posts are easier to read, I can actually have an absurdly long title . . . and so on.

Furthermore, I like the lips.

Though I don't do it in the daytime anymore, bold red lips are my signature look. That's who I was in high school, this perfect pin-up goddess, this tiny blonde faux Marilyn/Jane Mansfield/Lana Turner. I can't say I miss the person I was then, because that bitch was crazy, but sometimes I miss doing the pin-up thing, which is probably why I have an account at SuicideGirls.com.

I also like the idea of the lips, bold red lips at that, being a forum for speech, a place where words and utterances are produced.

I find it funny that the lips in this photo have a bit of excess lip gloss running down the side, as well.

Also, red is my favorite color.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Rainbow Disconnection

I've actually been trying to post this video for weeks, but every time I try, YouTube rejects me. Thus, you have all been disconnected from the rainbow for far, far too long.

As you may already know, I am afraid of Muppets. And you should be, too. But you should also be sad for them, because the following video reveals the truly sad life they lead.

Behold what has become of Kermit in his music video cover of Nine Inch Nails "Hurt." (As I said, I'd post the video directly, but YouTube is being kind of a bitch right now, so this will have to do.)

What I love about it is that it is simultaneously hilarious and terribly sad. I laugh up until the point Kermit sings the line "everyone I know goes away in the end" and the camera cuts to a picture of Kermit and the late Jim Henson.

From this video, I learned that Kermit has a MySpace account (as Sad Kermit), as well as a few other covers available there, such as Radiohead's "Creep." In the insidious Muppet world on MySpace, we learn that Kermit is friends with Count Von Count (go figure), who is in turn friends with none other than my tormentor Bert!

Bert's profile provided me with a couple of interesting revelations:
1. Bert definitely describes himself as a gay male.
2. Bert culturally identifies himself as African American.

I find the second assumption interesting in light of my discovery of the official Sesame St. Sinterklaas story published in Dutch. Does Bert get to be Sinterklaas to deproblematize the highly racial children's tale? Or does he just secretly want to be with another Black Muppet? (Ernie, interestingly, does not list an ethnicity on his MySpace, but claims he likes Latino men.)

All I know if that if either Bert or Ernie ever get tired of each other, they can always catch a little side action with Rolf.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Which Way Secret Door

As we will not hear from the CW until April for hard and fast news of the fate of one Veronica Mars (although Drew has posted some speculations based on cast members other projects), TV Addict has created something for the meantime while the show is on hiatus. It's an imagined version of the hypothetical 4th season, crafted like one of those Which Way Secret Door Choose Your Own Adventure books I liked so much in 4th grade.

TV Addict has dubbed it "Veronica Mars: The FBI Files." I want an awesome crossover where VMars meets up with Mulder and Scully. I feel like she'd get along equally well with both of them. But not Doggett. Doggett is like The X-Files version of Sherrif Lamb, only not a "delightful" asshole.

My VMars/X-Files crossover does not appear to be an option in TV Addict's version. Boo.


Enjoy for yourself
until that awful Pussycat Dolls show is over.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Only slightly less famous than "Never go up against a Silicilian when death is on the line"

Occasionally, I uncover phrases that I have been wrongly making solicisms out of for years. It wasn't until my freshman year of high school that I realized the phrase was not "for all intensive purposes" but "for all intents and purposes." Both of these make sense, except for the fact that an "intensive purpose" seems like something much more dire than I was using it as for all those years.

Apparently, I've been wrong about the phrase "to welch on a bet" for some years, as well. This was brought to my attention this morning in an article forwarded to me by my coworker regarding my postmodernist gurus at McSweeney's publishing. The article, Dave Eggers Desperate to Welsh on Bad Bet, caught me by suprise.

To Welsh on a bet? Really? How dare someone insult McSweeney's with a misspelling in the headline of the article! They shall know my fury! But, apparently, one doesn't "welch" on bets, but rather "Welshes" on them, as in, acts like a Welshman.

Thus: Never gamble with a Welshman, which is certainly less famous than "Never get involved in a land war in Asia."

I did a little bit of poking about to discover the (clearly Brit-centric) origin of the phrase. Most sources point to a poem called "Taffy was a Welshman," wherein the line following that particular phrase is "Taffy was a theif." The parrallel structure of those to lines is clearly intended to construct an identity of the Welsh people as theives. The folks in the WordWizard clubhouse further discuss it here. The WordWizard folks do go a little off-topic into other discussions of racist terms related to the Welsh people, but no one seems to take into account the change between the English spelling and the American spelling, which is why most Americans (and certainly myself) think that our version of the word is spelled "welch" rather than "Welsh."

I would assume that the "ch" character is intended to represent a voiced affricate, and the "sh" character is inteded to represent a voiceless affricate. My guess is that, in the importation of the phrase from British to American soil, the voice affricate slowly became voiceless over time.

My other theory is to blame Noah Webster, and guess that he changed the spelling of the phrase as part of his quest to reguarlize American orthography and differentiate it from British speech, further dividing British English from American English. Which would explain why the hatred and mistrust of Welshmen just simply doesn't translate to American soil, and why I believe the majority of us both write and say "to welch on a bet," rather than blaming those bloody, no good Welshmen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Demon puppets are out to get us all.

I am not the only victim.

Bert is apparently wreaking havoc throughout the world.


See? He's a wanted muppet.

Granted, he did not look nearly as threatening when he cornered me and my coworkers in our own building and terrorized us with balloons and songs about rubber duckies. But beware, my friends, there is documented evidence of his numerous debaucherous activities, including terrorism, rape and affiliations with the KKK.

Also, he is a dirty hippie.

The evidence is there.

Bert is Evil.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

For anyone who dares question my inner black girl:

Without African-Americans, English Would Just Sit There

Thug holding up cigarette: Sulfur?
Suit: Huh?
Thug: Fire?
Suit: What?
Thug: Burn?
Suit: I don't... Uh...
Thug: Spark?
Suit: Wha--?
Thug: Blaze?
Old black woman in nurse's uniform at next table: He wants to know if you have a match. Learn to speak English, nigga!

--Wendy's, Fulton Mall, Brooklyn

Overheard by: Big Larry


via Overheard in New York, Mar 6, 2007

That, my friends, is why I truly love African American Vernacular English.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Watching The Food Network with your hand down your pants.

Last nights 11 p.m. rerun of Miami Ink featured the most audacious of all celebrity chefs, Anthony Bourdain, getting a skull tattoo from Chris Garver. I love Tony as much as everyone else does--you have to give a guy credit for exposing the raw underbelly of an industry, being blackballed for years and yet is still always held in the highest of respect by his peers. It takes quite a special man to be able to do that.

This morning, purely by accident, I'm browsing YumSugar.com and I find snippets of Tony's rants about Food Network and the death of the "old timers," the "Real Chefs." (The full text of Tony's rants, which are oh-so-gloriously penned, can be found in his guest blog at Ruhlman.)

I have to widely agree with Tony, although I admit that I actually like Rachel Ray--not as a chef, because she isn't, but because her food actually fits into my lifestyle. And sometimes, when it isn't heavily infused with red meat and pork, it's actually good. Basically, my two standby dishes that I will proudly claim are stolen from Rachel Ray are a. Drunken Pasta and b. my Spinach Artichoke pasta salad, which I need only make at a party one more time to claim that it rightfully belongs to me.

He is completely correct about Giada's purpose in life. She is a good chef--and underused only because she has large breasts and big scary white teeth. I know she's fluent in Italian, but everytime she switches to say the name of a dish it just sounds wrong coming out of that Giant Praying Mantis Head of hers. She should do her show from Italy--I've seen Papa Dino DeLaurentis' giant-ass kitchen at the family's Roman villa. That would be a much more interesting show and a much more interesting set than the house Food Network rents her for two weeks in the summer to film an entire season of Everyday Italian. (All Italian kitchens are incredibly styled--we basically invented attractive kitchen appliances. That and filmmaking saved our homeland after the fall of Mussolini.)

Tony's central thesis that Food Network has become something entirely male-centric (one out of every four men you know watches at least Giada's cleavage), younger and less-skilled. And he's entirely correct about the real chefs--yes, even people he admits are assholes like Bobby Flay--have been relegated to Kitchen Stadium. We can only enjoy Mario Batali's cooking when he's battling with people. (He, Mr. Bourdain, is why Rachel Ray won that battle against Team Flay-DeLaurentis, that and Giada had to jump up and down and make her boobs bounce to coerce Flay to open packages for her.) Even before shutting down production of Molto Mario, the show was only on at 11 a.m.--like all the other shows no one watches, poor sweet adorable boy-next-door Dave Leiberman and next Food Network Star's Party Line with the Hearty Boys, which both seem to be relegated to airtime at the ungodly hour of 8 in the morning. Anything that's on when people might conceivably watch TV, which I will argue might begin at 3 p.m. when the kids get home from school is a line-up of female chefs: Giada, Rachel Ray, that Stepford Wife from Half-Assed Cooking and Paula Deen. (The latter of whom Bourdain lovingly compares to Divine in Pink Flamingos . . . I will never love Paula Deen more than I do in that description.)

I think more than the cooking shows, which Bourdain proves are problematic at best, we might all be able to agree that the best part of The Food Network on any given day is a Food Network Challenge. I don't care if its wedding cakes or tappanyaki, I will sit my ass down and watch those any day. Chocolate Runway Challenge, hands down, is the best Food Network Challenge EVER and the chocolate flapper dress was totally robbed of the prize.

(Tony's fantasy Iron Chef battles are the icing on the cake that is his guest blog.)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I say you he dead.

I was browsing through some non-Oscar red carpet photos at YumSugar.com's coverage of the Food Network Awards and I found the only episode of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" I would ever really want to watch:


I am not the biggest fan of Bobby Flay. I like watching him battle on Iron Chef, but I absolutely will not watch Throwdown. The entire concept of the show is that Flay is an asshole who challenges non-chefs to cooking challenges because he has heard through the grapevine that they make awesome burgers/potato salad/ice cream/whatever. Flay almost never wins Throwdown, so I suppose part of the joy in watching it is seeing Flay eat a peice of humble pie after losing a competition. The irony here is that in Kitchen Stadium, Flay almost never loses. And in Kitchen Stadium, he is battling real chefs. You would think that, since I am not a Flay fan, I would find supreme joy in watching him lose something. But the difference between Iron Chef and Throwdown is that on Throwdown, Flay actually talks a lot and basically throws his machismo out at whomever he has glove-slapped into the challenge. On Iron Chef, I don't have to hear Bobby Flay be Bobby Flay.

I would, however, definitely watch a fried chicken throwdown between the Colonel and Bobby Flay. I can't even begin to imagine how great of an episode that would be. I hope that Bobby Flay would win over our Southern-fried mascot-man, and partially because Flay would obviously use real chickens, not the genetically modified crazy freak chickens used at KFC. But choice of meats aside, I'd rather taste some sort of Bobby Flay chipotle-chili fried chicken concoction than whatever the Colonel's secret spices might be.

On a non-Throwdown related note, apparently this photograph proves that sentiments mentioned on Family Guy in regards to the Colonel are incorrect. I say you he 'live an' well.

Vagina Valley, California

It is well known to anyone who knows Marcus and I that we have basically destroyed any notions of comprehensible speech in our everyday conversations with one another. We replace any given syllable of a word with the word "fee" such that delicious might become "feelicious," etc. It's one the beginning of the strange language games we play with each other. We started calling each other "fee" as a bastardization of the French word for girl "fille." From there, "fee" has sometimes become "squee" or "squeefee." In some cases, I am referred to as "squeesquaw."

Now, for us, that's totally nonsensical. The repeated "skwa" sounds at the beginning of both "squee" and "squaw" are just a cute little rhyme pattern that we like to alliterate on. Though to my recollection, I rarely call him "squeesquaw." This term seems to only apply to me.

Which is really interesting, considering that several Native American groups are making headlines once again by petitioning to change the names of places that contain the word "squaw", such as popular Northern California ski spot Squaw Valley.

As the article mentions, many groups feel the word "squaw" was always used by white men in a derogatory manner against Native American women and for the examples the article gives, I think its a decent case. The fact that words like "nigger" and "jap" have been removed from place names acknowledges that these terms are offensive. "Squaw," it seems, has only really sprung to attention as a potentially offensive word since the 1990s, when Suzan Harjo claimed on Oprah that "squaw" was the Mohawk word for "vagina," thus degrading all Native American women by reducing them to their genitalia and, I would assume, depicting yet another image of the female colonized body as sexual subject to the colonizer.

However, Harjo's linguistics are totally inaccurate. According to the Wikipedia article on the word "squaw", the word is actually derived from the Massachuset word meaning "woman." But through the repetition of Harjo's claim by several prominent media members, her mistaken etymology became widely regarded as true. People immediately wanted to change things from "squaw" to less-genital related terms for women--white and Native American alike.

What this really comes down to for me--and I admit wholeheartedly that this is the perspective of a white, middle-class, bisexual-but-marrying-a-man, third wave feminist--is that our real problem with the word "squaw" from both white and Native American perspectives is that it could possibly mean vagina.

And we, in both cultures, I suppose, do not talk about vaginas. And we certainly don't acknowledge that women have them. Or that, in a purely anatomical sense, the presence of a vagina is one definition of woman. (Imagine how important it is for a transwoman to finally get her vagina--that's the thing that really makes her a "passable" woman. Then maybe will it make sense that vagina and woman are one in the same.)

For me, that's the real problematic. The real problematic here is that people are offended by drawing a connection between women and their vaginas. Vaginas themselves are offensive. Women--white and Native American--don't want to be conflated with their sex organs. Is this because we, white women, are taught that our vaginas are dirty? Shameful? Man's ruin? Naturally, they're something that we don't want to become an appellation of ourselves if the negative associations of the vagina are considered to be true. That's why women are offended when you call another woman a "cunt." Though Suzan Harjo's assertion that "squaw" means "vagina" has been credibly disproven by a number of linguistic sources over the years, people are still offended--Native and white alike--because they think it means vagina.

Some sources like Cecil Adams claim that the term is offensive in other ways, mostly because the word "squaw" has often been used in racially colored language referring to white interaction with Native Americans. Adam's likens it to the use of "Negress" and "Jewess"--both of which are certainly offensive to the women to which they refer. I have no problem with claims that "squaw" is derrogatory in the sense that it is a racially specialized term that marks Native American women as "other" than white woman. That otherness may sometimes be associated with a "native" sexuality that I mentioned a few paragraphs ago regarding the body of the colonized woman.

According to some very good morphological evidence cited at bluecorncomics.org, in a number of Native American languages, "squaw" is not even a free morpheme (that is to say, it's not its own word; it only has meaning when attached to other words). The morpheme "squaw" does mean woman (and could, for all we know, denote woman by literally meaning "vagina"; take, for example, Diegueno, a Native American language spoken in Baja California which uses a morpheme to indicate that a verb is performed with the mouth--a word for "to bite" would literally mean "to cut with the mouth"). "Squaw" is a morpheme that, however, cannot exist on its own in the language and must be attached to other words to have meaning. It came to be its own morpheme in pidgin languages developed through white trade with Native Americans. That, I would say, is arguably both offensive and oppressive if it is, in fact, a word that white people invented to refer to the Native American "others."

For those reasons--squaw being a tool of white oppression, especially white male oppression--I can support the idea of easing it out of our usage--at least in terms of place names. I'm not one to say that any word is a bad word, and "squaw," like "nigger," certainly has its place in history and should its usages--both positive and negative--should be spoken about. It's less likely to be misused if its understood.

But simply because it might mean vagina is not a reason I can support eliminating it from use--especially as a place name. Men do not seem to be bothered when you call them dicks or cocks or pricks. They wear their anatomical sex like a badge of honor. (I imagine even transgender men might feel similar pride when they're voices drop and their breasts are removed and their clitorises enlarge.) Women wear our anatomy with utter shame. We are shocked to be called twats, cunts or pussies. This is because, while being called a penis synonym is certainly negative, no one responds to hearing those words the way they do when you yell out cunt. (Believe me. I sing cunt from the rooftops.) Men hate being called pussies, though. To call a man a pussy is to emasculate him, to make him effiminate. To call a woman twat or cunt is just as negative, especially because I can only hear those words paired with the words "stupid" and "dumb" as insults, meaning something along the lines of "women can't be smart because all they are is their genitals."

As I mentioned, I think part of the problem with this is that we abolish female genitals from having any sort of positive assertion at all. Being a "stupid twat" or a "dumb cunt" only reinforces that.

I don't mind being referred to as my genitals. In WETT, we do it all the time. We call ourselves "a lovely bunch of vaginas." Why? Because we talk about them. We know that having a vagina is something that's very much a part of our identity as women. We know that our anatomy is part of what defines us on a purely biological basis. We also know that is pretty great to be, and have, a vagina. They're amazing, unique organs that everyone seems to forget that they have a connection to. Unless you were a test tube baby, you were conceived and born because of vaginas.

There is a quote in an scholarly article "Sociolinguistics of the S-word: Squaw in American Place Names" by linguist William Bright at the University of Colorado that is as follows:
The supposed Mohawk etymology has been often repeated in publications by Indian organizations, and Indian writers have raised the question: “How would whites feel if they had to live in a place called Vagina Valley?”
Thus reinforcing my claim that it is, in fact, perhaps more than the actual derogatory uses of "squaw" the vagina connection that makes the word most offensive.

Perhaps instead of simply erasing the word, Native American women should make an effort to reclaim the word "squaw" for what it actually means. And both cultures, Native and white, shouldn't be afraid to associate their womanness, their femininity with their genitals. It's part of the package--regardless of whether or not you were born with your vagina or it became a part of you later.

It's never just about what a word means, but how it has said. You can call me a cunt anytime you want to--as long as its never with the venom of Clive Owen saying it to Julia Roberts in Closer. This is why its okay for Marcus and I end signify the end of an argument with our version of "I'm sorry/I forgive you," the word "cuntwhore."

Cuntwhore.