Monday, January 30, 2006

a political entry (for a change)

- Cloture vote on Alito today, leading in to the almost inevitable full Senate vote on him tomorrow. Our country is going Scalito's way, folks, and I don't see what we can do about it, except moan really loudly about John Kerry's mis-timed and mis-orchestrated yodel for a filibuster from the mountaintops of Switzerland.

Kerry lacks instincts. That's really what it is, and instincts are half the game. Al Gore was the same way. Hilary's not, but she's got the opposite problem: too many instincts, not enough actual values. Oy.

- The Danes, of all people, have seriously pissed off the Muslim world with a controversial cartoon. Really! You know what country has the largest population of Palestinians outside of the Occupied Territories? What country held an anti-Israel demonstration every week or so while I lived there? What country prides itself on tolerance, freedom of expression, and being totally sympathetic to all Arabs everywhere (at least those outside Scandinavia)? Zambia. Wait, no: Denmark!

So I never thought I'd see the day when masked Fatah gunmen burned a Danish flag. See for yourself - isn't it dizzying? I wonder how they're reacting over there.

If the Palestinians are looking for a way to save money now that they've elected a terrorist government that the Western world is squeaming about supporting financially, maybe cutting down on the budget for flags & flag-burning supplies is a way to go. Also bullets. I've heard those are actually pretty expensive, especially when you're shooting into the air to express both joy and rage.

Just a thought.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

larry summers is me?

I've avoided taking the IATs in the past because, like most well-meaning people, I can realize that I am a product of a biased society with biases of my own without wanting to be straight-out told that I am that way. So I started slow, with the Judaism test and the Gender-Science test.

The odds that I'm secretly self-hating seemed slim to me. Turns out I was right: I love my people -- to such a degree in fact that I was really frazzled associating the bad words like "destroy" with them. In the end, the test told me I have a strong preference toward my own kind. Interesting.

The Gender-Science test however threw me for a loop. It tests how strongly you believe, as the president of Harvard does (or did, before the public exorcism,) that science is manly and liberal arts are girly. I myself am a liberal artsy girl who never excelled at math and only sporadically enjoyed science. BUT I grew up among the most high-achieving math and sciency girls you'll ever meet. Numbers came naturally to them. One's in an MD-PHD program, one's in med school, one majored in applied math although she went on to law school, one's doing public health in Ethiopia. At college, several of my female friends were also comp sci or math majors, and they're all either in grad school currently or planning to be.

Likewise! I know plenty of male film & english majors. In fact I'm shacked up with one.

So what does it mean for the world if even I, with this background, can be confronted with a whopping STRONG ASSOCIATION with [men and science] and [women and liberal arts]? I despair.

Interestingly, I had a really hard time associating "Latin" with women or with liberal arts. I kept getting that one wrong. Latin is apparently, in my head, a male language. I blame President Bartlet.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

the right tone?

The 30th anniversary of Roe happens to coincide with the first vote, today, on Alito in the Judiciary Committee. Dana Milbank in the Post has a very affecting article on the huge march that took place in DC to mark, well, both occasions really.

In these situations, it is common for those of us who value our right to live unhindered by the moral surveillance of the christian right to look to the north for salvation. But there's no comfort there today.

More than one person has pointed out that Roe is in no immediate danger, despite the marchers' euphoric insistence otherwise: even with Alito replacing Sandra Day (who I blame for all of this, ironically) 5 votes remain on the court to preserve the right to an abortion. And even if it were overturned, somehow, I, nestled safe in commie Brooklyn, would hardly feel the effects. Except. I am one of those lefties that struggles with America without getting all bleak and bitter about it. Even having grown up in DC, where Diogenes would have been even more hard-pressed to find an idealist, I retained some pride in a country whose system has the right intentions.

I don't wave flags and I don't burn them either, is what I'm trying to say. But on the day that this country capitulates to the Christian right, regresses 30 years into the past, takes my personal liberty off the table to replace it with a big steaming pile of self-righteous bombast, on that day I would. Burn a flag, and be done with it.

Friday, January 20, 2006


The best part of my first job out of college (at "VITA" - Very Important Talent Agency) was meeting celebrities and occasionally their families. You might have met Ice T, for example, but have you also met his wife Coco and their son Little Ice? I thought not.

The best part of my second job (at "SCC" - small casting company) was free diet coke.

The best part of not working is not working. And you can quote me on that.

Two interviews today, though. Bastards are always trying to ruin my fun.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Lost count/interest

I was rather pleased with all non-Walk the Line related results of the Golden Globes, weren't you? Cousin Phillip, for example, finally got to hoist a statue above his head and roar out at the audience like the grizzly bear he is. Mary-Louise Parker, who mooned me once (true story!) and permanently won my heart, nabbed hers out of the mouths of those too-skinny Housewives. Rachel Weisz got one for The Constant Gardener -- which, I gotta say, increasingly feels like one of the best movies of the year to me. It's more memorable than the other so-called contenders.

And people were funny! Drunk, and funny, and mostly well-dressed. (Mostly.)

My work-in-progress (still haven't seen Munich, Match Point or Cache) top ten consists of, in no particular order:

Brokeback Mountain
The Constant Gardener
Good Night, and Good Luck
The Squid and the Whale
Me, You, and Everyone We Know
Pride & Prejudice

The last two spots are tricky. Harry Potter V, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Aristocrats, the 40 Year Old Virgin and Syriana were all interesting, engaging, and flawed to various degrees. I think I'll hold off on filling them for a bit.

Friday, January 13, 2006

day 5 and holding

I forgot to blog about my priceless subway encounter from last week. Perhaps because I was afraid one of you minions would steal it and use it in YOUR book, whereas I want to save it and use it in mine. Nevertheless, it must be sacrificed on the altar of funny.

Setting: Heading uptown on the A train. All the crazies are on the A. Have you noticed? Subway car packed, me standing, looking out the window at nothing, ignoring men sitting, eye-level to my breasts; I am thanking god for my coat. Even if it does draw attention.

Subway Prophet appears. There are many of these in New York and they are almost all black. I don't know where the white subway prophets are. Maybe Atlanta. Anyway, this one features hair slicked back with something so white his hair shines thickly with it, and small Malcolm X glasses. He is, unfortunately, not as articulate as Malcolm.

He parks himself about two people away from me and starts in about Jesus. Did we know Jesus was black?, he demands. (Yes.) Have we let Jesus into our hearts? (No.) Did we know Jesus was circumcised? (Yes. I mean no. I mean -- what? The woman next to me starts chuckling too and I feel safer grinning.) Subway Prophet continues ranting. I am kind of tired and headachy, and despite grinning, I just want the crazy man to hush.

Suddenly though! A woman pipes up: "Sir, I'm sorry, but can you move somewhere else? You're right in my face with this."
Prophet gets pissed: "What? What did you say?"
Woman: "Sir, I asked if you could quiet down or else move over there -- "
Prophet: "I am a prophet. No! I am a PROPHET, and you are my LAMB, woman. You are my LAMB. And I don't take orders from no white women."
Woman: "Sir, honestly -- "
Prophet: "You are my LAMB."

I would have loved it if, Tarantino style, he said, "you are my lamb, bitch!" Sadly. Perhaps in the spiced up book version, though.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

approaching day 4: still not on the breadlines

To comfort me in my time of emotional turmoil, I turn to this group picture, taken in the sacred home of Wanakena over New Years. I'm about 3rd from the left, in the unfortunately-attention-grabbing coat (it was my grandmother's and it's VERY VERY warm!) holding up a "W" for Wanakena; and I'm in that coat because we were in the process of walking out the door. Oh, Wanakena. To be there still ...

Well, as I'm stuck here, I'm doing the best I can. There's something creepy about being left alone all day. It's a bit like The Yellow Wallpaper, even if I'm not kept in one room on purpose, because, well, I live in one room. Luckily, my studio's walls are white -- and no one's ever gone crazy in a white-walled room.

I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, reading, writing a lot, sending earnest cover letters. While I wait to either land a job or get a six figure advance on my book, I'm glad to learn that people retain the capacity to be surprised by the blazingly obvious. Observe what was considered "news" today: simmering sexpot Angelina Jolie -- who has been having near constant intercourse with Brad Pitt for nigh on six months -- has failed a pregnancy test; and former DC mayor and semi-rehabilitated felon Marion Barry has failed a drug test.

Oh, also? Anthony Lane is troubled by the state of contemporary American cinema. Don't try to scrape me off the ceiling. It's more comfortable up here.

Monday, January 09, 2006

On the Dole: Day 1

I'm still in my pajamas, curled up in bed with my laptop, blinds closed tightly but glowing with the sun, folk music trembling out of my speakers. No! I refuse to be so easily pigeonholed. It's Monday: I will engage the world, even if I don't have a job.

First, to return my book to the library. Yes, an excellent plan. There will be some satisfaction there: I didn't like and I seem to be almost the only one. How can this be? How is everyone else so bowled over BY YET ANOTHER standard "satire" of college life where the male professors are self-obsessed preening student-fucking losers scared of the abysses within themselves and the female students are inarticulate post-feminist hypersexual vixens?

Yes, there is too much theory in colleges now. The long passage about no professor being able to say "I like the tomato" is the most memorable in the book for me. (Instead, each professor makes the sentence into overintellectual gibberish in their own particular way.) That, to me, is a valid critique.

The thing is, I LIKE Zadie Smith. I continued to like White Teeth even as the backlash hit. Some of her observations are astute. I like her writing, though not the dialogue, punctuated to death with ellipses, italics, and dashes. There was not a single character in this mess of a novel that I could identify with or admire. Worse, I got the distinct sense she didn't much value her characters either; she certainly didn't describe them charitably, especially the overweight women. Which means, to my mind, that she fell into her own trap of not being able to see beauty except in its conventional forms.

But, enough. Off I go to return it. Maybe I wouldn't have been so disappointed if I hadn't had some high hopes, and anyway, I have plenty to take my mind off it, as varied as The Eustace Diamonds and Kafka on the Shore. Not to mention job apps.

"Up and ATOM!"
"Up and AT THEM!"
"Up and ATOM!"
"Up and AT THEM!"
" ... better."

and so on.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

waking to car alarms

Lest there be any doubts, the car alarms blasting off the intersection at 8:30 AM this morning communicated that I was definitely back in the city. Mr. Ben and I have finished our whirlwind tour of our families & friends, which took us to Westchester, loaded with Christmas/Hannukah presents; to Washington DC, loaded with high-end cheese; and to a serenely otherworldly log cabin in the Adirondacs, where we just got loaded. Oh, it was wonderful, except for the travelling.

The best part was that the cabin is situated on a small wooded penninsula that, in the winter, juts into expanses of beautiful frozen lake. The family that built the cabin thoughtfully bought up the penninsula too, and when that family's young heir K-Ross gathers up friends by the bushel and takes us up there with him we can wander right off the land and onto the water. There is no more peaceful feeling than walking in complete silence and possible defiance of several natural laws into the middle of a lake before an audience of glazed fir trees.

Only twice did someone's foot slip through the ice, which, considering, seems pretty good. And neither time was it mine.

I also got to experience my parents' new apartment as a pretty impressive reimagining of the house I grew up in. That was a relief. And I was showered with enough quality gifts to make me consider rethinking my personal War on Christmas, including the So, So Cool Complete New Yorker, which has, on DVDs, every page of every issue of the magazine, dating back to its inception in the 20s. Played games (pinochle, Taboo), ate excellent food everywhere I went, took pictures, had blissful swattie conversations, and, despite talking about it a lot, managed to forget emotionally that I've just lost my job.

Also on the plus side, Mr. Ben had two opportunities to leave me for smart, engaging blondes we met while travelling. He elected not to, at least for now. We sailed through Scylla and Charybdis and here we are once again, safe on the other side, on the temptation-free island of Manhattan.

So here's to a better 06! Cheers to you all: may your sig figs stay faithful, may you stay interested, may your jobs be stimulating and your internal organs steady, and may you have nothing to regret. And if you hear of employment opportunities, feel free to send them my way.