Saturday, September 30, 2006

Redirect

Okay then.

I feel pretty confident that my abrupt, often shrill political posts catch some of you off guard. Not that any of you think I shouldn't post them (maybe you do), but that probably you don't know what to do with them. Yeah?

I mean, it's not like I'm especially even about them. I usually only post political things when I'm really upset or pissed off.

So in discussing this last night with MeJane and Ish and ElG (who, I should add, has a degree in foreign policy and is a great writer and if he had it to do over again, would/could/should have been an Atrios or Kos or Josh or Wolcott or at least a TBogg. Or even Bart), we decided we'd just start a political blog together.

I'll let you know when the details are worked out.

And I will now return you to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Relief? Despondency?

The good news is that my meeting at work went well. The better news is that it's over and I can relax. Or, well, would. I would relax...

...if today weren't also one of the most shameful days in our Congress's history.

I feel disgusting. I am disgusted. And scared to death.

I say fuck you to the horrible man I used to work with who had the audacity to call me alarmist because I coudln't stop myself from bursting into tears on November 3, 2004.

Alarmist.

Today our government spit on our fundamental values. I am not being dramatic. Innocent until proven guilty is not some pretty little idea. Secret trials, a bludgeoning of habeus corpus, freedom to torture at will along with a freedom from accountability for so doing? Are you kidding me?

I cannot believe this is happening. I cannot believe this country is so unconcerned.

Okay, here. Here is a quote. Ready?
"The United States is committed to worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right.

Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes, whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit."


Do you know who said that? Wanna guess? George W. Bush fucking said that. In a speech in 2003. He claimed to want to prosecute all acts of torture.

Molly Ivins gives a simple run-down of how insanely un-American this bill is (my words, not hers). Well, and about a hundred million other raving mad columnists and bloggers.

In the words of ElG, "Feh."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Gosh, It's Bright

If we are to assume that the events of our Monday mornings foreshadow the week we are to have, I should take to hiding under my desk right now.

First of all, we have our big quarterly meeting this week (the one I am responsible for organizing), which means I'll be incredibly busy and stressed until Thursday afternoon, whereupon I'll have a giant cocktail and giggle, either because after all that hard work the meeting went off without a hitch OR because the meeting was a mess, and I was fired and HAHAHAHA isn't that so funny.

And because of this stress and busy-ness, I will be overdue in posting something for/about my mom, whose birthday it was on Saturday. (And let me just tell you, with my cycle being off and my hormones being so out of control, I was a weepy mess about this all weekend.)

But right, Monday.

So this morning as I was in bed, trying to sleep during those last 15 minutes of snooze time despite the cat on my head and it seeming awfully bright out for being so early, my phone rang. It was Ish's ringtone, and it was an odd time for him to be calling. He'd spent the night at my place and already gone home to get ready for work, so I knew whatever he was calling about was probably important. I removed the cat, and got to the phone as quickly as I could.

Me: Hey...?

Ish: Hello. Um...

Me: ...?

Ish: So last night, when I set your alarm, I, uh, I must have hit the button without knowing it and set your clock off by an hour.

Me: ...?

And then I look up at the clock in the livingroom and see that it's an hour later than it is supposed to be. Than I thought it was. No wonder it was so bright.

So Ish apologizes a million times and I say it's okay and determine I'll just take a cab. And we hang up and I begin my morning routine, hour later or not.

I first sit at my computer and check my email. And that is when I discover that I have received my first real and true rejection letter from a literary agent.

Monday, Monday.

See, not knowing what else to do (figuring I had to start somewhere) I decided to draft a query letter to agents, proposing making this blog into a book. So I sent one query letter out and got a rejection shortly thereafter, but I didn't mind because I decided the letter was not my best work. I then drafted a better one, and sent it to a higher profile agent. She replied. She wanted to see sample chapters and a proposal. Gah! So I put that together and sent it to her and this morning, got a perfectly nice and reasonable rejection.

Without getting too detailed, I know I need to rethink my approach. As I was putting the proposal together and outlining each chapter, it wasn't sitting well with me. It didn't feel right, it felt forced. I did my best, sent it out, and then put it away. I wasn't going to query any other agents with it because I didn't really love it .

And neither did the agent. So it's back to the drawing board, and I'm okay about that.

Still, this week had better shape up.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Friday Funspot

There's a place near where my parents lived in New Hampshire called "Fun Spot." It is a fairly shabby arcade that mixes some of the newer video game novelties (I don't know what these would be) with some old standbys (e.g., arcade golf) plus has candle-pin bowling. It might also have bingo, if memory serves.

My favorite thing about the place, though, isn't its name (though I do enjoy it), but its divinely inspired, almost-too-clever-for-itself tagline:


Fun Spot - "The Spot for Fun*"


Not kidding.

Anyway.

I intend to continue with the Friday Trend of posting random search results and/or other ridiculousness from my week that come with visual aids (whatever format they may take, be it diagram, photo, or -- if you can believe it and I can get it to work -- video).

That's right. Video. Possibly. Right here at the Fun Spot. The Spot for Fun.



*Do understand this inspired a bevy of similar-yet-adolescent-boy phrases from Ish, who, upon reading this entry walked around saying things like, "pot hole - the hole for pot" "douche bag - the bag for douche" and "corn hole - the hole for corn" and then chuckling quietly to himself**.


**To himself because I did not find them half so amusing.

* * * * *

I think it would be fair to assume that at this point, my search results wouldn't need much commentary. They are practically spit-worthy on their own. You know?


Locker Room Porn!

On the other hand, I can't very well say nothing.

Because this is like, the fifth time this week my blog has been visited by someone hoping to learn about the Hip Hugger, which is a strip bar in Kokomo, Indiana. Where possibly (probably) at least one of ElG's exes works. I find it hard to believe that anyone seeking information about a strip bar in Kokomo, Indiana will find much about my blog of consequence, but who knows.

And speaking of naked women -- do we think that the "women nudity and gyms" searcher is the same person as the "nude women ymca locker room" searcher? I didn't think to look. Regardless, um. I'm not judging those who want to go looking for naked women in a locker room (is anyone surprised by this?) it's that I'm a bit surprised by the specificity. Not just any locker room would do, I guess. Perhaps the searcher thinks that the women at the Y are maybe more "accessible" than those in expensive gyms? Perhaps I should stop wondering about this.

Does horseradish expire?

Note: for those of you who have asked, I use StatCounter as my data source. It's easy, free, and fairly extensive.

* * * * *

I wanted to bring you this update to the absurd pigeon-ridding challenge at my BART station.

Note that there are two pigeons just hanging out, one especially close to the green speaker, and neither of them care that blaring-scary-jungle-bird yelps are emitting from it.

More Pigeons

* * * * * *

Finally, we come to the point of the post wherein I try and post useless video.

Video of the man who plays violin at my BART station but does not actually know how to play the violin. You can see the enthusiasm with which he attacks his notes. Watch as his dreadlocks sway with his rythmic slashings. Maybe someday I'll figure out how to get a good shot of his face without him noticing.

I wouldn't want to be rude.




Note:
my camera didn't do a good job of recording the sound. There IS sound, but it's squeaky, and usually just results in some pitch-gets-higher, pitch-gets-lower scale-like thing. You can KIND of hear it if you turn your speakers WAY up, but the result is still pretty lame. Hopefully you get the idea.

Enjoy! If it works!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Whoever Said It's Not Nice To Fool Mother Nature Needs To Shut The Hell Up And Get Me Some Motrin

Some time ago, I heard Snarky mention that she was taking herself off birth control pills for a month, just "to give [her] body a break."

I thought that sounded nice. Ahhhhh.

So when I ran out of my supply of pills and realized I would have to jump through the (understandable-but-annoying) hoops my Voldemort's office requires, I thought perhaps instead I would take a brief hiatus. I would give my body a break. Ahhhhh.

Can't you just here the tinkling of chimes? Smell the sage? See the breezy woman wearing white and sipping tea and looking incredibly at peace with herself and the world, a la feminine hygiene commercials?

Yes, I know you can.

Except, well. As I sit here with lower back pain, unremitting fatigue, caffeine cravings resulting in both sleeplessness and canker sores, bloating, an inability to concentrate, embattled motor skills, extreme emotional sensitivity, and a realization that the cramps haven't even begun yet, it has occurred to me that going off birth control is not actually giving my body a break, because in fact I HAD BEEN ON A BREAK FOR THE LAST FIVE YEARS.

It's not even that my hormones are imbalanced, it's that THEY ARE TRYING TO ESCAPE MY BODY. They are forcing their way out of me in the form of gross awful disgusting oily secretions that have produced (among other ungainly blemishes all about the landscape of my lumpy, achy body) THE ZIT THAT ATE SAN FRANCISCO. The hormones, they are not happy. They enjoyed the drugs.

They want them back.

And believe me. They shall have them.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Calling All Knitters! (Public Service Announcement)

Remember when I used to write about knitting?

Uh, remember when I used to knit?

Anyway, I'm going to rekindle my knitting flame with help from the Crazy Aunt Purl knitalong. The gist is, Crazy Aunt Purl's grandmother is ailing and in a nursing home and not doing so well. Upon hearing (reading) this, one of Purl's IIFs, lept into action and orchestrated this knitalong, wherein she's asking everyone to simply knit an 8" square (blocked*) and send it to her. She will put them all together and sew them into a handmade blanket for Grandma Purl.

I should note, the woman running this effort is named Kristy, and I have to think she's a better Kristy than I am (seeing as I'm trying to get all riled up to knit EIGHT WHOLE INCHES and she's off coordinating an entire knitting rescue effort, ahem).

So join in if you can or will. Because even *I* can finish A SQUARE by Thanksgiving, you know?




*Never blocked before. Anyone with tips for how to make something "Eight Inches Blocked" should please send them along!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Funhouse

Happy Friday, everyone.

[This has been a very busy week at work for me. I am sorely remiss in responding to your lovely thoughts re: the 9/11 post. And again, my American Idol entry was almost not worthy of posting, but at least there were pictures. Sigh!]

So you may recall last Friday I decided posting my search analyses could be a regular feature. I like that idea, so I'll include them below.

But first -- there's a site that Ish brought to my attention, and I believe that reading through the first "mission" is perfect for a Friday afternoon. Essentially, an improv actor ("Rob")pretends to get lost at Yankee Stadium. He goes out to get food, and when he returns to the stands, he pretends he can't find his seat or his friends (also actors). His friends see him, though, and they shout and wave to try and get his attention, but he remains oblivious. So other people start trying to help. Eventually, hundreds of strangers are shouting, waving, chanting and doing everything they can to try and help Rob find his way to his seat. Because people don't always suck.

By the end, I was laughing out loud at my desk. The video footage is priceless. Enjoy!

* * * * *

First up in search analyses that make me laugh...

Like Red Vines, Only Chewier

Ignoring the first result, here's what I picture from the second one:

Man likes woman. Man is not verbose. Man wants to tell woman how he feels, so he goes to the Internets to get some help. He then sends an email.


Dear Baby,

I just want you to know that you have a beautiful body.

(Hmm, she might think. That's not the most romantic opener, but it could have been worse.)

Your butt...

(And seeing as how it DID just get worse, she probably stopped reading right there.)


It actually reminds me of the postcard Homer sent Marge when they were first dating.


[scrawled]Maybe it's the beer talking Marge but you got a butt that won't quit. they got those big chewy pretzels here merJanthfgrr five dollars??!!!? get outta here [scrawled jibberish]

As for "condoms vines"... I understand WHY my blog came up (what with the photo of condoms next to the Red Vines at Walgreens and all), but um. What? I'm having a hard time here. Did we want condoms that look like vines? That um, grow like vines? That have vines printed on them? Or just condoms for vines? (Just how sexually active ARE your vines, dude?)

And as for: "behold, she walks on water alexis." I got nothin.

Moving on...

More booty poetry? Really?

I just want to point out that:
a. someone went searching for "ridiculous website"
b. I came up

Also, we have AGAIN people searching for booty-related poetry. Perhaps it was the same guy from above, hoping to supplement his clever email with booty verse. I wish him luck.

And if "jiggle while you're wiggling free" is porn-related, I am a little skeeved.

Finally, we have my favorite...
Nyquil Gel Singers?

I about died laughing at this for oh-so-many reasons.

POP QUIZ, hot shot: Where ELSE on the Internets could you POSSIBLY find humorous posts involving Sir Francis Bacon, knitting patterns, pointed boobs, vibrators, and nyquil all in one place!

My mother, she'd be so proud.

I do just need to say a few words here, though.

To the knitter seeking a pattern for a fanny pack:
Dearest, I hope you were kidding. You were doing a faux search, right? Maybe a gag gift? Because knitters have a hard enough time convincing the rest of the world that we're actually artistic and hip and interesting and creative, and that we've come a long way from producing monochrome shawls to wrap around our arthritic arms. You know? A knitted fanny pack is not the answer, no matter how much fun fur you use.


And in case you're wondering, I would definitely buy tickets to see the Nyquil Gel Singers.





Wednesday, September 13, 2006

American Rhapsody

[note: this is a poorly put-together post that I started two weeks ago and couldn't get quite right. pretend it's witty and well written anyway, okay?]



“What if we’re THE old people there? We should have borrowed someone’s kid,” I said to Ish on the way to San Jose to see the American Idol Concert a couple weeks ago.

“I cannot believe we’re doing this,” he replied.

This was the very first season of American Idol that I watched from start to finish, and the only season Ish had watched any of, and so when my sister got us concert tickets for my birthday, well. We couldn’t very well say NO.

And to be completely honest, we were both pretty exited to have an excuse to attend. It’s one thing to enjoy (and be oh-so-catty) about the performances at home. It’s another thing to get to deconstruct them live and in person and among people who, from the looks of it, have never heard of the Beatles.

But don’t get me wrong. I might get on my high horse about American Idol being too commercial and the contestants being all about their marketability and blah blah blah. But when it comes down to it, I feel like I can’t very well ignore something that the whole country watches. It’s a phenomenon. It’s fascinating. It’s fun. And sometimes, it’s about watching and listening to real, beautiful talent.

(Well, or train wrecks. You know.)

And so, without further ado, I will give you the briefest run-down I can muster, with only as much snark as I deem absolutely necessary. With horrible pictures.


The Venue

I guess not surprisingly, approximately eighty million people decided to see this show. On the one hand – cool. It really is a phenomenon. Yay for spirit! (Now if only all of you would vote in November...)

Um, on the other hand, I would have preferred not to have to stand behind eighty million people to get in. Or to get a drink. Or to get dinner. Or to pee. Spirit matters not when you are waiting in a long line for the ladies’ room.

Once we did make it to the entrance of the HP Pavilion, I was asked by a skeptical ticket-taker if my digital camera can take video. I said, “I have no idea.” (Which is a lie; I know perfectly well that my camera takes video but I do not want to be hassled by a woman in a bright purple jacket in San Jose because hey, I might like American Idol but I don’t like it enough to risk imprisonment for making a crap-quality bootleg.)

“...but if it does,” I offered, “I have no idea how to work it!” (which was not so much a lie). She then inspected my camera and determined it – and I – were okay to enter.

[Later on, I decided I was offended by Ms. Purple Jacket. What? I can’t know how to work my camera just because I say I can’t? Is it that easy to dismiss me as someone who is tech clueless? Do I not look dangerous enough? Well, I thought, I’ll show her! So I fiddled with my camera enough to figure out how to take video, and then brazenly took a 10 second video of Elliot. Of course, I cannot show you that video because as soon as I got home I accidentally erased it while trying to upload it to my computer. Fuck Ms. Purple Jacket anyhow.]


Also I was hassled by the ID checker when I tried to buy a beer. He claimed that I didn't look old enough to buy booze (ha! Love you, Mr. Hassler!) and also that I didn't look like the person in my photo (LOVE YOU MORE, Mr. Hassler!). But um, once I got over being back-handedly complimented, I had to desperately plea with him that, well, the horrifying photo there really is of me, and even though it is a THREE YEARS' EXPIRED license FROM ANOTHER STATE, really sir, I am 31 and do not have children and am here to see an AMERICAN IDOL CONCERT and should I really, really be allowed to do it sober?

He took pity.

Unfortunately, as everything cost A MILLION HUNDRED dollars and required standing behind throngs of America, I ended up with only one (and a half) drinks and spent the evening entirely too alert.

But back to the first point. About the entire population of San Jose was in attendance, and because we had to get something to eat before entering the arena, we missed Mandisa perform entirely. Whoops.

80 Million (Roughly)
Here: 80 million people


The Audience

Very plainly, for whatever reason, only about half the audience was made up of groups with children. The rest were mostly couples older than me and Ish, and/or groups of girls in high school and college. The screaming was unbelievable – one of the loudest concerts I’ve ever attended. The people were very happy and enthusiastic. And, um, trashy. And entirely without rhythm.

Do I sound surprised?

The late-forty-something woman next to us with hair that had probably been overprocessed enough by 1988 and wearing more eyeliner than her eyelids seemed to be strong enough to handle had not been able to get seats next to her son (who I thought was actually her boyfriend) (ew), so instead tried to chat me and Ish up. Except she was not maybe enjoying the concert in the same way we were (read: I’m guessing the term “irony” isn’t something she uses much). And maybe I would have been nicer to her or more interested in engaging if her breath hadn’t been so bad that it gave me the chills.

But she, too, seemed to be having a grand old time.

Whereas we had to assume that the man next to her had lost a bet. Or something. He spent the entire time looking as though he was in sheer agony. I am not kidding in the slightest when I say he remained in his chair, eyes closed, head bent forward, thumb and forefinger pinching the bridge of his nose as though trying to stave off the migraine that was his surroundings. He was there with children. We assume his wife had won.

Also, I found it kind of interesting that there was a group of (presumably) middle-aged, Indian couples sitting behind us. Three couples, all with looks of slight bemusement on their faces. They didn’t speak during the show. They didn’t stand or dance. They simply sat, looking inexplicably contented. Perhaps they were high.

More likely, perhaps they had left their kids at home.

Anyway, despite being among many people who were older than me, I stopped dead in my tracks during the first ballad.

Know why?

Because there, at the concert, during a slow, heartfelt song intended to tug at our heart strings (if not loins, depending) NO ONE got out their lighters.

Everyone just used their cell phones.



CellLighers



I felt old. Like the first time I heard a child ask, “What’s a record player?” (Except actually, I was more horrified the first time I heard a child ask, “What’s a Punky Brewster.” But you get the point.)



The Performances

And now for the part you’ve all been waiting for! Sort of!

As I mentioned, we sort of missed Mandisa’s performance (which is too bad because I really liked her).

It’s also too bad Ace couldn’t have performed first, because we didn’t miss his performance.

Now, let me speak plainly, if I may.

Ace annoys the ever-loving shit out of me.



Acetastic



His constant making of the “Look How Genuine I Am” face seems like a cross between Zoolander and a sad puppy who is not sad because you have stopped petting him but because he has chewed up your shoes and peed on your bed and knows you’re about to discover that and when you do you will want to return him to the pound instead of awarding him with a movie deal.

Mixed metaphor, but seriously.

Ace was then joined on the stage by Lisa, and as you might imagine, this was not exactly a powerhouse of a duet.

Lisa’s fine but yawn.



The Official Stance of American Idols



I don’t get it. I think she’s...well, fine...but hardly a star-quality solo performer. (San Jose, for whatever reason, felt differently. They LOVED her.) Even when she busted out her keyboard in an effort, I suppose, to prove that she’s multitalented, it was still boring. Frankly, it’s not THAT hard to bang out some chords to a song someone else has written. Eh.

But then...


::Biggest Disappointment of the Evening::


...she was joined by Paris.

Paris in August



The moment I heard Paris audition back whenever the season was kicking off, I was floored. So much sound and soul and timing and poise that even Ish (who was in the kitchen doing the dishes, trying his best not to get sucked into an entire season’s worth of madness) (haha!) said, “Who was THAT?”

Remember? How Paris sounded amazing?

Sigh. Instead of doing any of the songs that made her stand out so incredibly, she just seemed like a cute teenager with a good voice and no personality of her own.

DSC00363.JPG



She did her “fun” version of Midnight Train to Georgia –

Here we have Ish impersonating a Pip:
Woo! Woo!
“Woo Woo” (note: he is not drunk,
despite what this looks like.
Blame the photographer.)


– and the Beyonce song (and dance, despite the judges having expressly stated she should not try and be a mini-B) and I dunno. It was fun to watch. But it was a far, far cry from her auditioning with “Take Five.” She’ll grow into herself, though. I hope. Before her marketers package her into complete mediocrity.


Alright. So around this point, I realize the show has a formula. Idol Wannabe #10 (ex. Mandisa) performs a couple solos, and is then joined by the Idol Wannabe #9 (Ace) for a duet. Then the #10 leaves and #9 does a couple solos, until he is joined by #8 (Lisa) for a duet. And so on.

Which is how it came to be that Paris (#7) was forced into doing a duet with #6.

Bucky has his charms, I guess, but I am certain I am not in his main demographic. I found myself standing (perhaps I was even dancing, I’ll never tell) when Paris was shaking her booty, but then when Bucky appeared, I sat back down. I don’t dislike him, it’s just. The long hair, the open collar, the skinny black jeans, etc. sort of make him the poster boy for Not My Type. I suppose if his thing is your thing, he’s pretty good at it.

Not a fan of chest hair



My favorite part about Bucky singing was that, as soon as he appeared and I sat down, crazy bad-toothed breath lady leaned over to me in a near-panic. “Bucky! It’s Bucky! Bucky is singing!” she informed me. Thinking that I had seated myself prematurely. Thinking that surely I did not know Bucky was singing because I’d want to stand for him. I just nodded at her. She stood.

Then we got to the part of the show I was waiting for.

Kelly Pickler joined Bucky for a completely flat, completely soul-less butchering of one of the greatest ridiculous duets of all time, “You’re the One that I Want.”


Oh, I Got Chills Alright...



You know. Healy saw this concert in Worcester, Massachusetts. After her solo, Kelly engaged the crowd in lively conversation, mostly focused around her trying desperately to pronounce “Worcester.”

For those of you who are uninitiated, it’d pronounced, Wuss-ter. Kelly asked for help from the crowd. They tried. She tried. “Worssesster?” They tried more. She tried more. “Werster?” Finally, she mostly got it. “Wuuuhster?” she offered. The crowd cheered.

Until she asked, “Now how do you pronounce the name of this state?”

Honestly, Kelly is a mockery of herself and I love her for it. (So fun to be catty. I mean, I know she’s an easy target. But she's a WEALTHY easy target, and I have no sympathy. Especially since she seems all too happy to capitalize on being stupid.)

She was uncomfortable on stage. She seemed terrified, actually. She didn’t look like she was having a good time, and her voice was entirely unremarkable.


Not a Girl, Not Yet a Stripper


(I’m kinda waiting for the Ace-Pickler Porn Company. What, like five years?)


Then there was a break. It was already seeming like a super-short concert, so to add a break seemed kind of insulting. I spent the entire time waiting in line for the bathroom, behind some woman who kept bumping into me for no understandable reason. (13 times I counted.)

Interestingly, all the buzz was about Chris – when we’d see him, and how hot he would be.


Elliott was next up, and he was fabulous. He had charm and charisma, and he gave the same sense in person that I got from watching him on television – the sense that he couldn’t possibly be doing anything that would give him more pleasure. He was happy. He sounded great. I loved his song choices and enjoyed watching him.

[Here is where I would have uploaded a bootlegged video clip of Elliott performing if I weren’t so technologically lame.]


Elliott Charms



So then Elliott was joined by Chris, and the HP Pavilion officially lost its shit.


What a Good Duet Looks Like



Chris performed like the rock star he is. He sounded awesome (of course), and you could, while he was on stage, completely forget that you were at an American Idol concert surrounded by people even more uncool than yourself. He played the guitar well, he owned the stage, and his was a stand-out performance.

It definitely felt like the young female audience was there to see him.


We Love Chris


(You can’t really see it, but these girls were all wearing tshirts and holding signs for Chris.)

Then there was some stupid guy song, performed by Chris and Elliott and Bucky and Ace and it was kind of boring and forced. We all know that these guys wouldn’t be friends outside of this show, and that they wouldn’t ever be expected to perform together (what with such different styles and such), so it was just a little too painfully contrived to be enjoyable.

And speaking of contrived.

My God, but is Katherine ever beautiful. Seriously. She is, to me, absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. Her voice is very lovely, too.

However, her giggling, “Aww, shucks, you like me” attitude annoys me beyond belief, and reminds me of Ace in a more honey-soaked way. I tend to find girls who giggle – as opposed to laugh – generally kind of annoying, and at this point there is just something about her awww-shucks-ing that I find insincere.

Also, why is she trying the power ballads? She does not have that kind of vocal strength, and should not pretend to.

For my own part, I wish she would just go the Marilyn Monroe route. If you’re going to giggle, own it. Be giggly and sexy and sing simple songs (“Fever” springs to mind), and make that your thing. But don’t wear super sexy dresses with your boobs hanging out and get all tarted up and then sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." (Whoever thought "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" should be a power ballad in the first place needs to be smacked also.)


Tits McPhee



I am happy to say that Taylor got his own entrance. We heard him before we saw him, and then realized he was entering from above, coming down the aisles singing.

And then, all too slowly, I realized he’d turned the corner and was coming down the aisle NEXT TO ME.

NEXT TO ME.

I don’t care if you think Taylor is a goofy lunatic with unnaturally white hair (who, by the way, looks surprisingly like my ex-husband). I think he has genuine soul and amazing charisma and is fun to listen to and I love him. (Despite the looking like my ex thing.)

And the moment I realized he was headed right for us, I thought, I MUST GET A PICTURE OF HIS FACE.

Meaning that rather than actually stop to hear him or make eye contact with him or touch him, I fiddled with my camera in a frenzy, and forgot that you have to push the button half-way down first, then let it focus, THEN take the shot.

DAMN IT. I was fiddling so hard with my camera, and so poorly, that I almost dropped it RIGHT AS TAYLOR DANCED ON BY ME.

But! Because of this, I had to catch my camera, and when I looked up, we made eye contact.

This momentarily stunned me, but then I recovered and took a very awesome picture of the back of his head. You can tell that the girl in front of me was rather moony over Taylor walking by, too.

Ish was the only one smart enough to actually reach out and touch him. So Ish can say he patted Taylor’s shoulder.

Whereas I only have a picture of it.


Taylor



The End.


p.s. So yeah. I wish this post were funnier or more insightful or used better language, but what can you do. I'll just hope that the mere fact that Ish and I attended the concert in the first place is plenty funny enough.

Monday, September 11, 2006

"Love"

There is no way to talk about it yet. Have you noticed that? We don't talk about it, we talk around it. We say where we were, or what we did, or how we felt. We say what was, and what is, and what could be because of it. We don't really understand it, though. And sometimes I think we don't even really know what "it" is. Is it a date? A word? A concept? It's history, it's change, it's fear, it's hope, it's an end, it's a beginning, it's all of us and all of our stories.

We don't really know. I don't really know. But this is the story I think of.



My friends, Emily and Nick, were married in New York on October 6, 2001. They had, along with their families, spent months planning and organizing and working out every last detail to ensure a spectacularly special, spectacularly memorable event.

Both Emily and Nick are very musical people, and their wedding had something of a theme: "Love is friendship set to music." Throughout the entire weekend, love and friendship and music were in evidence everywhere.

For example, following the "down home," Midwestern-style rehearsal dinner banquet (to which all wedding guests were invited), there were live musical performances. Em and Nick had been in a cappella groups in college, and since some of the members of their groups were in attendance, they reunited for a few choice songs. Emily and I also sang together. And of course, the bride and groom performed a couple of duets that couldn't have been more lovely or heartfelt.

The next day, as Emily and her bridesmaids walked from the neighboring meeting house to the picturesque chapel, we all sang a giddy, impromptu rendition of "Going to the Chapel" just before walking down the aisle.

There are dozens of other examples, too. Ways in which love, friendship and music were woven into the festivities -- from how they selected their processional and recessional music, to their band, their first dance, even their wedding favors* -- but it was later, at the reception, where I felt "it" most acutely.



I'm not sure if it had ever even entered their minds, the idea that they could postpone their wedding. Perhaps that's what some of the world did; maybe the events of September 11 were too devastating for some to want to carry out a celebration. But for Em and Nick, it was that much more important.

Rather than be afraid, rather than live in dark, rather than allow the bad to control their (our) lives, they gave us a celebration. Life is precious, and goodness matters. Love, hope, happiness, harmony. Family and friends had come together in peace and with goodwill to applaud and laugh and cry and take pictures and eat and drink and be merry and hold on.

And people flew from all over the country to be there, to say I am not afraid. Or maybe they said, I am damn well terrified, but this matters more. I don't actually know what anyone else thought as they packed their bags and put on their fine clothes and gathered for the nuptials, because we did not discuss it. It was a happy occassion, and what would we have said? Em and Nick simply gave thanks to everyone who came, everyone who found it important to be there.



A finer detail of the event was a little card that Em and Nick had put on every table at the reception. It stated that, contrary to popular tradition, they would not kiss each other simply because guests decided to tink their glasses with silverware. If you wanted to see the couple kiss, you had to work for it. You were to stand up and sing a song that had the word "love" as a lyric, and your entire table would have to join you. In unison.

Now, at first, this might not seem like such a difficult task, but I'll tell you -- finding a song that you and the rest of the people at your table actually know all the lyrics to is really quite challenging.

Our table resorted to "Summer Lovin'" from Grease. Another table of younger folks launched into Barney the Dinosaur's theme song. Throughout the evening, most of the tables tried at least once, usually with amusing results.

I think we may have assumed that the dignified table in the back, the one where the grandparents and older guests were seated, would not be partaking in the singing game. Maybe we assumed they thought it was too silly, or too difficult, or too...something. But the moment they all stood up, the room noticed.

Aww, I wonder what THEY will sing. Maybe we thought that it would be sweet, or funny, or maybe kind of cute, the way people are always saying about older folks (meaning it as a compliment but sounding a little condescending).

But it wasn't cute. It was a gift. They stood up and sang God Bless America.

The moment they started singing, without hesitation or prompting or question, everyone jumped to their feet. Everyone started singing.

Land that I "love"...

The entire room full of people rose at once and joined in, and it was amazing. We were happy (relieved, maybe) to have been given a chance to express what we otherwise couldn't. We cared about our country, our world, and were only barely beginning to understand how one day had changed everything.

It is said that in the weeks and months following 9/11, people in New York looked at each other differently. I know when I meet someone who has lost their parents, we share an immediate bond of unspoken understanding. We nod at each other. We know.

The wedding was, of course, about Emily and Nick. But during the one special song, we all knew. We stood tall and we looked around the room at each other and we all knew.

"It" happened and we were angry and frightened. We still are. But when I am scared most of all, on the days when I believe we have lost our way, and I fear that things are worse now, and I worry that all is lost, I try to think of the simple, joyous good. I think about their wedding day. I think about everyone singing.

"It" is real and scary.

But we have "love."





*They gave every guest a CD filled with songs that held special meaning to them, with an explanation of each selection printed on the homemade CD jackets.

Friday, September 08, 2006

On A "Lighter" (Har, Har) Note

Friday fun! (Perhaps my keyword analysis should be a regular Friday fat feature?)

awesome.  just, awesome.

Lookie there! Hurrah! I have done it! I am now THE online destination for anyone seeking "unattractive fat women"!

Awesome!

I believe my work here is done. Have an awesome weekend, everyone.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

"The Essence Of Truth"

Another post wherein I get very, very angry.


As you might imagine, I am not a fan of censorship.

But that doesn't mean I don't believe in responsibility. I do not believe you can yell, "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre, for example.

I also do not believe you can present something as fact -- or as "the essence of truth" -- and make big, sweeping, damning accusations with that "essence"...

...and then pretend you aren't. Or that it's okay because you didn't mean to.


Good Lord, what is k blabbing on about NOW?

So okay. ABC is going to air a "dramatization," a mini-series about the events leading up to 9/11. It is a fictionalized account, and involves a lot of making shit up. On purpose.

It's all here, in "An Open Letter To ABC." Please, check it out.

Because wow. I have a lot of issues with this.

Issue the first: Forgetting for a moment what the script actually looks like (because oh, we'll get to that), don't you find this kind of bullshit terrifying?:

Executive producer Marc Platt told The Washington Post that he worked "very hard to be fair. If individuals feel they're wrongly portrayed, that's obviously of concern. We've portrayed the essence of the truth of these events. Our intention was not in any way to be political or present a point of view." (Emphasis mine, from this article.)

Um? How? What? WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND could actually set out to make a "dramatization" of 9/11 -- one that has the look and feel of a documentary, no less -- and then also claim they have no point of view? That it's not political?

Don't give me that.

You cannot tell a story and not have a point of view. Period. It is impossible.

Every history book ever written has a point of view, you know? Even if it seems objective, someone had to decide what information to include. Which interviews and quotes and letters to cite. Which facts to present as such. Do you ever wonder what gets filtered? What gets left out? Someone made decisions, and made them based on...what?

Based on their goddamned point of view, that's what.

But what? What's that you say? That I'm talking about a fine line in objectivity, and that this isn't a history book?

Well, right. It's not a history book. It's a made-for-tv movie. (Nevermind that ABC is also peddling this to schools.) And where the author of a history book maybe has a responsibility to try and be as objective as possible, a producer of a miniseries has no such obligation.

Fine. That's fine. And if that’s what was going on here, that would be one thing. It would almost be refreshing, in fact, if the producer (and writer, and network execs, etc.) would just admit that they feel no obligation to tell the truth, and that they’re reworking the story to conveniently fit audiences’ morbid appetites for sensationalism and willful ignorance of actual events. At least then I could roll my eyes and swallow my bile and turn the channel (while envisioning them riding their gravy train straight to you-know-where).

(I’m sure Lee Atwater will be waiting.)

But that isn’t at all what they’ve done. What they’re doing. They say it is “essentially” the truth. They say it is how it could have happened. They emphasize that it is based on real events and history and research.

Well, until they are called out on how preposterous their “fact” portrayal is. In which case they emphasize the “drama” part.


Issue the second: Why did they bother to dramatize it at all? Honestly. I cannot understand why anyone would ever NEED to "dramatize" or "fictionalize" anything that happened on or leading up to 9/11. Was it not dramatic enough, just as it was? No?

I mean, in the absence of any real answers from our media-at-large, who wouldn't watch an actual documentary about this? Why resort to making things up? Hmmm?

It seems to me that when you have all the factual drama you could ever need, but that it doesn't tell the story YOU want it to, that THAT is when you change the story. Ahem.

No point of view my ass.


Issue the third: It’s not JUST that they’re making things up, it’s WHAT they’re making up.

Look, I get that to make "historical fiction" you gotta fill in some holes. You weren't there, so you have to make some educated guesses as to what happened, and what was said. So you read the facts, you get a sense for the person you're dramatizing, and you make up dialogue that fits.

Some of you may recall when CBS started production on a portrayal of The Reagans that the right wing got a bit bent out of shape, saying things like: "Although the producers have sources to verify each scene in the script, we believe it does not present a balanced portrayal of the Reagans." (emphasis mine again.)

And now that we have a docu-drama written by a right-wing fundamentalist, who blatantly ignores actual documentation, facts, and reports to create a version of events that suggests, for example, that Clinton was too busy with the Monica Lewinsky scandal to pay proper attention to Bin Laden, this is supposed to be okay?


No. It is not okay.

I do not think that our country has even begun to figure out how 9/11 changed us. How could we, when we are still in the dark about what even happened?

(A majority of Americans believe that Saddam was directly linked to 9/11 and that Iraqis were responsible for hijacking the planes. And why is this, do you suppose?)

Don’t you think the actual account – say, the one by the 9/11 Commission – should be “popularized” first, before we go fucking with it? Because really. Unless or until the actual story is widely known and understood, bending the facts and making shit up is an insult to anyone who was affected by 9/11.

By which I mean, you know, everyone.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

SULLY!

For their first date, my sister and her husband went to a bar in South Boston called Sullivan’s Tap. It is not a fancy place, and it seems unlikely that the sweeping “yuppification” of Southie will ever reach as far as Sully’s. People go there to shoot pool and watch the Sox and enjoy the novelty of a bar so long it spans an entire city block and drink beer. Most of the bottles of liquor are dusty.

I do not know many of the details of that first date, but I know that at some point my sister was lobbying for “bar stool Olympics” and had, after a certain number of beers, taken to leaping over her bar stool as though it were a vault and she were a gymnast. I know she ended up on the floor with an injured finger. I also know that the patrons – and her husband – found her amusing, perhaps especially because she didn’t end up in the hospital. (I bring this up for no reason other than possibly embarrassing my sister.)

Healy and Brian eventually got engaged and decided to get a kitten to make their apartment feel more like a home and them more like a family. They wanted to name the kitten something reminiscent of how they got together; they’d first considered calling it Sullivan because they had expected to get a boy. But they ended up getting a girl, and so they named her Tap instead.

It wasn't until about a year later, when they moved into a house, that they discussed getting a dog.

Now, Healy and Samantha and I (as I’ve mentioned) grew up with dogs – especially big dogs – and love them and knew we’d always have homes complete with canine companions. Healy in particular had grand visions of getting an enormous, white English sheepdog and naming him Shakespeare as an homage to both the sheepdogs we’d grown up with and her background in theatre.

So in the fall of 2002, Healy started investigating shelters and rescues (and the internet at large) to try and find anyone who could provide her with an English sheepdog.

For months, she had no luck. Then one day, a woman at a shelter miles away emailed Healy to say they’d just had a rescue returned to them – a dog that looked something like an English sheepdog, although they couldn’t be sure. He’d been found wandering the streets as an older puppy (a year or so, they figured) and was originally placed with a family with young kids. Except the family had him for only two weeks before they returned him. They said he was difficult to handle and was “food possessive” and they feared for their children’s safety.

The woman at the shelter was conflicted. On the one hand, if the dog was really unsafe, he would have to be destroyed. On the other hand, if my sister had really grown up with big (sometimes “difficult”) dogs and knew how to handle them and was willing to give him a try...wouldn’t that be better than giving him no chance?

Healy was a bit concerned, but asked to see a picture (I don’t have a copy of that photo or I’d share it), and that was it. She knew she had to go meet the dog.

And that is when she discovered that he came with a name. It was Sullivan.

Sullivan!

Healy figured it had to be fate. (Brian knew there was no way Healy wouldn't bring him home.)

When my sister went and visited him, she found it hard to believe anyone would consider him dangerous. Unruly, untrained, big and formidable? Sure. But dangerous? Seemed unlikely. So Healy set about convincing the woman at the rescue – as well as her husband – that she should be his new mommy.

She was successful.

The first year with Sully was trying to say the least. He was strong and strong-willed and had the poor habits that sheepdogs acquire when they are left without training. He nipped at heels with a jaw bigger than your foot. He would jump up on people to welcome them to his home, which – to the uninitiated – was often harrowing given his size. He would go from one toy to the next, always in motion unless he was passed out dead asleep. A reprimanding “SULLY!” was exclaimed every few minutes so long as he was in the room with someone.

But he had his great qualities, too, and with classes and infinite patience on the parts of Healy and Brian, Sully calmed down a little. He learned that rather than teethe on your forearm, for example, a chewy rope could substitute quite nicely. (So long as you have one handy.)

And sure, he would try and get off his leash (or tie-up outside), but only to visit neighbors who had interesting things to sniff, like kids or other dogs.

He loved Tap (who wanted NOTHING to do with him) and the cat my sister later adopted, Hops. Hops wasn’t even slightly intimidated by the big furry creature 50 times her size, and would crawl all over him or use him as a napping post.



Sully and Hops, resting on the sofa.


Sully would gladly sit on your lap or lay beside you at night if you let him. He seemed genuinely pleased to be part of my sister’s family. He would get jealous of the attention the baby got, but only a little.


Sully and Healy
Sully rests on Healy's pregant tum.


Mostly he seemed hopeful that the baby would somehow get him more food, either by accident (food thrown from the high chair, or licked off Charlie’s face), or by Healy’s giving him a treat to distract him for a few minutes.




Sully meets Charlie



Sully was never aggressive. He was not food possessive. He was not dangerous. He was a big, strong dog who was lucky to find his way into Healy and Brian’s home.

And he was very, very good at burping.

* * * * *

In the weeks after my father passed away, both my sisters, my aunt, and Dad’s fiancĂ©e Jane, had the unenviable task of dealing with, well, everything. While the executor has been handling all the details, they have been left to handle everything else. The big stuff (everything in my dad’s house) and little stuff (what do we do with his wallet?), and all the stuff that I can’t be there to sort out because I up and moved away. It has been heartbreaking. It has also been hard.

Healy has a house with storage (unlike Sam who lives in a tiny apartment and unlike me, who also lives in a smallish apartment 3,000 miles down the road), which means she and Brian end up “getting for now” a lot of the things we can’t put anywhere else.

Healy and Brian both work very hard at full-time, demanding jobs. They have a son who is just over a year old, who is in daycare and (not unrelated-ly) keeps getting sick. And while dealing with their careers and their baby and my father’s death and all the challenges of everyday life, they have also had to spend their weekends traversing to New Hampshire to sort things out and load and unload their car and house on top of their already overloaded lives.

About two months ago, Sully began walking with a limp.

At first, the vet said it was either neurological / nerve-related or hip dysplasia. They decided to treat the hip with medication and hope for improvement, and then if he didn’t get better they would take him to a neurologist. A week later, Sully walked upstairs, lied down in their bedroom, and then could no longer move his body below his neck.

To make what was an agonizing two month-story short, my sister and her husband did everything they could. On top of their jobs and baby and daycare and grieving and traveling and packing and keeping on, they also spent hours driving to specialists. They spent thousands of dollars they didn’t have to spare on treatments and spent hours they didn’t have to spare in physical therapy with Sully.

Every day, they had to manually help Sully with the most basic and unpleasant of physical functions – including hand-feeding him – ever-hopeful that he would recover. If he had had a stroke (which they thought he had), he would be able to survive. Healy and Brian wanted to give him that chance.

Sadly, Sully only got worse. They deduced that it was spinal cancer. And incurable.

Cancer. Again.

My sister and her husband had to put Sully down last weekend, only four years after rescuing him.

There was nothing else for them to do.

They know they did the right thing.

But you know? It is still so hard and sad.

When Healy called me on Saturday afternoon crying, I said everything I could think to say. That Sully was lucky to have found them. That they gave him a better life than probably anyone else would have. That they saved him, and gave him fun and happiness. That he would not want to suffer, and that he could not have understood what was happening to him. That they gave him peace.

“I know,” Healy said. “I just need to hear that it's okay.”

It's all been so much. Too much.

“And it would be nice if everyone could just be healthy for a while.”

Amen.

Sully Blizzard

Silly boy. Knew he wanted to go out and be part of the Blizzard of '05.
He just didn't quite know what to do once he got there.