Monday, December 29, 2008

Best Christmas Ever

It's a very simple recipe. Combine:

1 hotel room in a grand, atmospheric hotel,
1 TV with cable
1 jacuzzi
1 hot lava massage
3 fancy meals
1 accommodating shuttle driver
1 deserted, charming town at the end of the world
2 beaches
1 "Seal hike" through the woods for an hour to a clearing from which you could see actual seals lazing around like paunchy middle-aged men on the rocks, plus an hour trek back
2 fireplaces
1 chess game
1 sex partner
0 family members
1 bottle of Klonopin.

Let sit, and serve.

This was all as necessary and as it was restorative, since I hadn't been feeling like myself since that small but vital part of my brain broke on Election Night. The new apple of my eye, Dr. Russian, first prescribed me a medicine that, in the long run, will have me running marathons and presidential campaigns simultaneously, but in the short run left me under house arrest. Like Madoff! Perhaps the nausea and constant panic I was experiencing were actually *his* and he spent some of his $50 billion transferring them to me. Since he doesn't know me personally, I can only imagine he chose me because he figured the Jews hadn't yet suffered enough.

Regardless, after one really bad day where I made it into work only to collapse and have to be taken home in a cab by coworkers, Dr. Russian, with an acknowledgment that I "seem to be very sensitive to medication," cut my dosage and later prescribed an ameliorative second pill to be taken with the first. Glory of glories, hosannah, praise the flying spaghetti monster -- I felt new again. And by "new," I only mean "normal." Well enough to enjoy the misty, desolate splendors of off-season Long Island, well enough to go to bed later than 9:00, and well enough to be back at work today.

Yeehaw! Now onto New Years, and the new year, in which hopefully I will again and consistently be the master of my own brain.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The slow clap

Things aren't objectively better around here. My dad is in the hospital after turning a toxic shade of yellow -- they're looking at his liver, which was possibly affected by the Tylenol 3 he was taking for the ribs he broke when he fell over a step in South Africa. (Phew!) He likes to pretend he was chased by an elephant, so if you talk to him please claim to admire his bravery.

Meanwhile, the economy remains precarious, which means I am holding onto my job with both hands. That time that I got let go right before Christmas during the Transit Strike -- and while I was taking out the trash! -- is, as they say, burned in my brain. As I walked home to Brooklyn in the twenty-five-degree cold, I knew I would never take employment through December for granted again.

Despite all this, though, my anxiety levels have actually decreased. Instead of feeling like I'm wobbling on the edge of a black hole all the time, I feel like I'm a safe yard or so away from the black hole. It's right there, sure, but I'm not in immediate danger of falling in.

In honor of that improvement, here are two things that made me laugh so hard I made a spectacle of myself. First, Carolyn Hax's annual Holiday Hootenanny, where readers compete to submit their funniest true Christmas horror story. One contender for my favorite:
On Grandmother gifts...: Several years ago, my grandmother gave my husband a welcome statue with frogs on it. The word "welcome" is written on this very elongated mushroom held sideways by the two frogs. The elongated mushroom looks very much like you would think an elongated mushroom would look like, which is to say, like a certain part of the male anatomy. There are even two smaller mushrooms sprouting out of the base. We all laughed about it, and my husband decided we would keep it, since it was so amusing. So the next year he gets... two more of the exact same statue. And last year, another one of the same statue. We have them all sitting out on our patio. And a few years ago, she gave my 6'5 brother a floral muumuu we're desperately hoping was really intended for someone else. However, it has now become a family tradition to wrap the muumuu up and give it to another male member of the family on Christmas. Makes for some great Christmas pictures.
And, the runner up:
X-mas entertainment: We always saved my uncle's gifts for last. Over the years they have included:

1) a duck decoy missing its head 2) an ink drawing of a head of lettuce and some celery, with "salad" written in large font underneath 3) a Christmas ornament made out of a lightbulb painted lavender and with sparkles glued on 4) a stuffed plant -- as in, made of fabric, stuffed with whatever goes in stuffed animals.

For a while we assumed these gifts were expressions of hostility (in particular, the headless duck) but in fact, I think his taste just runs to the extremely odd. Turns out bathroom is tiled with the image of the Statue of Liberty, and the walkway to his house is lined with bowling pins.
I never had a holiday (or relatives) that crazy. Perhaps Hannukah doesn't inspire people to go to reach such dizzying heights? Regardless, if that's not enough giggling, check out this montage of 40 Inspirational Movie Speeches. Witness every heavy-handed cinema cliche knit together into a master quilt!:

Amazingly, it even gets better as it goes along, hitting a peak at "They'll take our lives but they'll never take our Independence Day!" It's also amusing to think of how most of these moments can be traced back to / blamed on Shakespeare, who popularized, if not created, the St. Crispin's Day speech intended to get soliders' adrenaline pumping so hard they can't hear themselves think rational things like "But we don't *want* to die."

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Governor Blaggo, you are as transparently, hilariously, on-the-record corrupt as a James Bond villain. Thank God Obama's staff heard his offer -- cash in exchange for appointing their preferred person, apparently Valerie Jarret, to Obama's senate seat -- and told Blaggo where he could stuff the seat, if it would fit. This led, by the way, to a tirade in which Blaggo called the president-elect a "motherfucker." AND rumor has it that Obama's dreamy, morally-upright people were the ones who tipped off studly prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Yes! See, these are the kind of glad tidings that joyous-up an otherwise dreary holiday season.

Of course, it's easy for Obama to turn his nose up at a briefcase full of cash. He's like the only person in America with a positive balance in his checking account. (And yet somehow I still get emails begging me to help defray Hillary's expenses.)

The other north star in these dark skies is, of course, top ten lists and Culture Awards. I haven't seen much that's knocked me over this year besides Milk and Wall-E, though I'm excited about Rachel Getting Married, the Reader (because I am gay for Kate Winslet), and Doubt (because I am also gay for Kate Winslet-in-training Amy Adams).

Luckily I've had great TV to fill the void, in the form of 30 Rock, the Wire (which I watched in its entirety this year), and especially Mad Men. How I Met Your Mother, which has taken over lunchtimes at my office, has helped my brain take a much-needed break every workday for a while now. Thanks, Barney!

Mr. Ben and I also decided to try to shift the holidays from Bearable to Awesome by leaving civilization over the long Christmas weekend. New Orleans, we decided, was a little far and a little pricey -- but you know what's neither of those things? MONTAUK. An off-season, deserted winter paradise where they basically throw classy hotel rooms at you and stand in line to rub your feet when you're done wandering around empty, windy beaches. Plus we've never gone anywhere together just the two of us, except for that time we tried to have a honeymoon in the least romantic country on earth during typhoon season.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sex and Death

I spent $21 on a lunch today that was mostly guacamole. Suck it, recession!

I'm so tired of bad news all the time, of the Dow tanking and jobs disappearing and low-salt diets turning third-world people into zombies and Lori Drew and Harvard going broke and college girls selling themselves to keep up their inflated standard of living, a strategy that will only work as long as people can afford to go to college at all, i.e., not for much longer. Even Milk, which was the best movie I've seen lately, is not exactly an upper. It's exhausting! I need to recuperate in a padded cell with an IV drip of good romantic comedies and Jane Austen adaptations.

At least it's been a pretty fun day in the office, spent talking about movies and vampires. This is a Twitter back-and-forth with one of my coworkers:
NYPeoplewatcher: discussion question: why do americans think vampires are hot?
Shorterstory: not just americans! europeans have been writing steamy poetry about vampires for centuries.
NYPeoplewatcher: okay, BUT bludgeoning is not sexy. why?
Shorterstory: you don't see the difference between someone sensually sucking at your throat vs. hitting you with a 2X4?
NYPeoplewatcher: point taken. but i'm upping the ante: strangling. sensual but no obsession there...
Shorterstory: Except for those people who like to get strangled while they have sex:
When the next Fray comes out, I'll have to give her a copy.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

it's december. breathe.

The wretched month of November is, at last, behind us. I'm curious how it almost always turns into such a disaster. But at least I don't have to worry about the future: it's all spelled out for me! The always-detailed AstrologyZone monthly forecast tells me to beware:
Co-workers will probably be cranky and easily provoked near this full moon, so you may need to pitch in to help them as best you can. Everyone in the department will be feeling overwhelmed and overworked. ... You will begin to see tension in the air as early as December 10 and it will linger as long as December 15.
Translation: Keep that Xanax handy. But! Once I make it through to December 21, I can look forward to really, really strong adjectives -- rapturous, blissful, life-changing. I should sign with an agent, for one thing, but who cares about that? It's the romance that's important:
the decisions you make and the actions you take in the days that follow could change your life forever. ... treat yourself to one glorious night to welcome in the New Year, dear Cancer. The fire that will burn in your heart that night will chase away any cold winds that might be blowing your way. We all need a night of pure bliss - this one has all the makings of being yours.
Sounds good! Does this mean Mr. Ben and I should go to New Orleans, which we're sort of thinking about doing?

Of course we can't fight the planets (or, as some people would have it, God's will) but simply taking action sometimes can make shit better. In that vein, I'm going to host a Turn Your Luck Around Potluck. On the appointed night, everyone will show up with comfort food and some kind of good luck totem. A story will do: some recollection of when things were bad and then something turned them round. Then we'll do a reconstituted rain dance, where "rain" = "better tidings for all."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


It's been an anxiety-ridden month for me, full of worry and sleepless nights and pill-taking, to the extent that I have to wonder, Jeez, what would I be like if Barack Obama had *lost*? Anyway, thanks to all of that, I have a head-cold and a renewed appreciation for anything that makes me laugh.

Like Charrow, and how quickly Mr. Ben caught onto this Twitter thing (sample Tweet: "There was a little white chicken fetus in my breakfast egg yesterday. Today, I opted for plain bagel") and a Jezebel editor's hilariously candid record of her attempt to follow Cosmo's sex advice. Featuring Spanx!

And, of course, Get Your War On, covering the most crucial issues of the day:

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

I went back to Dr. Feelgood today and in a first for psychiatry he sent me away with instructions to take up meditation and a promise that "you'll be fine." To be fair, he also suggested a certain brand-name drug. As this was the third time he's brought it up and as I'm a smart-ass, I asked him, "What, are they paying you?" To which he promptly replied, "Yes."

Points for honesty.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Who Do You Root For?

The radical Islamist Saudi state or the radical Islamist Somali pirates?

Karl Rove or Deborah Solomon?

Hillary Clinton?

These are tough questions, but we are living in tough times. In trying to do my part for the economy, I spent $115 on clothes on Sunday! That may be a pittance to some of you but my money prefers to stay in the warm safety of my wallet, like a creature that hibernates year-round. Still, for the country's sake, I'm making an effort, and if I win this contest at work I promised my brother I'd buy these. (They're on sale!)

That led to a conversation about how I don't understand the stock market and what's going to happen now:
Adam: no one does!
kalloo kalay!
literally no one knows
it's like if you were a caveman kindergartener and you said, "what time is it?" someone would hit you on the head with a wooden club and tell you not to ask stupid questions
because no one KNEW what time it was!

me: :-)
i like how they wouldn't have time yet but they would have kindergarten
cuz, of course

Adam: i think maybe kindergarten was all they had -- i mean, fingerpainting was the most advanced art form

me: the rules must have been totally different though
they were pro playing with fire

Adam: you could run with scissors but you had to invent them first

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What Not To Say

Did you hear about this hilarious Republican congressman who compared to Obama to Hitler? Yeah, he wishes he hadn't done that:
Republican Paul Broun is sorry for calling President-elect Barack Obama a 'Marxist' and comparing him to Adolph Hitler, the Georgia Congressman said Tuesday.

“I regret putting it that way,” he told WGAC radio in Augusta, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I apologize to anyone who has taken offense at that.”
He also called Obama "liberal." Since Communists hated liberals, liberals hated Nazis, and Nazis hated Communists, in one breath, Broun has taken history and bent it into an infinity symbol. It would literally make more sense for me to compare Broun to Stalin because they are both from Georgia.

Sarah Palin has me shaking my head in mock-admiration, also:
"But not me personally were those cheers for," she said to Ms. Van Susteren in an interview shown Monday night on Fox News. "But it was just for the representation of a woman on the ticket, a mom, somebody who loves this country so much, somebody very, very committed to policies that I believe will progress this country in the right direction."
Dan Savage got a lesson in What Not To Say after he blamed blacks for the passing of Prop 8. Though they did come out en masse for Obama and, while there, pull the lever to ban gay marriage, King Nate Silver has absolved them of any kind of responsibility: there just aren't enough African-Americans in CA for them to have made a decisive difference. Savage on Colbert last night acknowledged this, shifting his ire to "old people," who, as he pointed out, "are dying, which is some comfort." Okay, Dan! You're getting there!

On the other side of this debate, there are the comments on this topic from The Root that draw from the word of God to give their opinions legitimacy:
just because we accept people for the color of their skin, which is actually something that the Bible teaches us to do, does not mean we should let two people of the same sex get married, which the Bible vividly prohibits. ... this country was founded on the principals of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus and to confuse loving thy fellow man with telling him it's o.k. for him to marry another man is not what this country is supposed to be about.


Interracial marriage should have never been an issue but was an issue with this country but because of prejudice it was. God never condemned interracial marriage but does condemn same sex marriage. I just hope and pray that this country stands for what is right in the site of God. God defines marriage is between a man and a woman, not between two women or two men. When it comes to immoral issues it is wrong. Again interracial marriage is not a moral issues but gay marriage is. Let us understand that there is a difference between the two. If anyone having problem with that person is having a problem with God.
Again with the wrongness. Opponents of intermarriage absolutely thought -- and still think -- they had Jesus on their side. I mean, Deuteronomy, dude: Deuteronomy 7:3-4: 'You shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughter to his son, and you shall not take his daughter for your son, for he will cause your child to turn away from after Me and they will worship the gods of others then the L–rd’s wrath will burn against you, and He will destroy you quickly.'

Of course, that's silly, cuz that Old Testament God is only talking to Jews there and the passage is specifically about religion, not race. He wanted a strictly limited gene pool for His chosen people, possibly because He wasn't paying attention in high school genetics class, and also because He's a jealous, overbearing God who likes to make rules. Whatevs.

The judge who ruled in the Loving case in 1958 also said, "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no case for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did intend for the races to mix."

Sure! And the fact that He gave us Barack Obama shows us that He knows the fabulous results mixing can have.

In short, this is all bullshit. Can't we just admit that the idea of Group X getting it on with Group Y squicks out Group Z, where Group Z is those who aren't in on the fun? Let's leave religion out of it.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Post-election, life feels strange. It lacks urgency, lacks tension. Part of me feels compelled to stake out bars near off-off-Broadway theaters to try to find some High Drama friends to help make up the difference.

Instead, I'm joining a Swarthmore alumni book group whose curriculum is set by a current prof. You know who could have been an alum but isn't? Barack Obama. True story! This both adds value to my degree and subtracts value from it, since I *was* accepted, but who could care about having been chosen by a place with such poor taste?

It does allow me to picture an alternate universe in which Obama is a Swattie, though. He graduates, as my friend Rebecca E. put it, full of "relentless criticism and liberal despair." He spends a summer working at an alternative camp for disadvantaged city children; this inspires him to join Teach for America, where he meets a cute fellow teacher, a Peruvian-American anarchist. They get married in West Philly, where they set up house and grow food in an urban garden. Every once in a while Barack feels a disembodied itch to be doing something more significant with his life, for which his wife chides him and then asks him to remember to stir the compost.

Of course, he still has holes in the bottoms of his shoes.

Speaking of High Drama types, poor Sarah Palin. Yeah, that's right. I have now argued with one brother and two parents about this, and I'll argue with you too if necessary. (At least Flea agrees with me.) Flinging anonymous shit at a person is WRONG, no matter how stupid and possibly evil that person is. Maybe it's true that Our Sarah didn't know what countries were in NAFTA or that Africa was a continent. Our President has a pretty iffy track record himself.

As I see it, McCain's people paired an ambitious, attractive, charismatic woman with an old man to draw audiences, using her the same way Winona Ryder, ScarJo, and Catherine Zeta-Jones have been used (mostly with the same meager results). They spruced her up to get her camera-ready and fed her already healthy ego by putting her in front of adoring crowds while keeping bad news -- and the press -- far from her.

When their plan backfired, thanks in no small part to Katie Couric and Tina Fey, the gentlemanly thing to do would have been to return her to Alaska and thank her for her service, not leak blind, spiteful quotes to a Fox news reporter. "Jerks" is a kind word for what these staffers are; they should dream of being hanged by their tongues and wake up screaming. Not that I wish them any harm.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Liveblog That Wasn't

I was supposed to liveblog Election Night, the best night of my or anyone's life, and unfortunately I couldn't. Here, as a substitute, is a reconstruction -- a retroactive liveblog! -- of the events that prevented me from liveblogging. (I know. The internets are too amazing.)

6:45 AM: Mr. Ben and I wake up simultaneously, look at each other, and agree to run to the polls.

7:15 AM: We arrive at P.S. 282, check out all the people in front of us, and hope that waiting in line to vote is as patriotic as paying taxes.

8:00 AM: I pull the lever for Mr. Barack Obama.

8:01 AM: I realize I forgot to say a little prayer while inside the voting booth. Silently, I recite the sh'ma.

9:00 AM: Go to work.

9:30 AM - 5:00 PM: Read lots and lots of coverage. Begin feeling ill. Take a break from the computer; walk around the block. Return.

5:10 PM: Yup, definitely ill. Hide in the conference room where it's dark and cool.

5:30 PM: Still hiding. Chipper McCheerful keeps me company, saying reassuring things.

5:35 PM: Mr. Ben and Rebecca appear to say more reassuring things. We watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother -- I am gambling on the curative powers of Neil Patrick Harris.

6:00 PM: NPH has failed me. We decide to take a cab home.

6:05 PM: Hail a cab.

6:06 PM: Throw up in the cab.

6:07 PM: Sit on the Union Square curb next to a pile of my vomit looking at my stained suede boots. Mr. Ben runs to get cleaning supplies. People pass by and laugh, "Hey, look! That girl just threw up in the cab!" The driver shakes his head at me and mutters about drunks. Mentally I browse through low moments in my life to see where this one ranks.

6:30 PM - 11:00 PM: Shivering on the bathroom floor in green-tinted misery.

11:05 PM: Mr. Ben checks my phone, which has been receiving text after text. "We won," he tells me gently.

11:15 PM: I throw up one last time in celebration and finally go to sleep. All night, I dream of my stomach and Pennsylvania, which have somehow fused to become one anxiety-causing entity. I blame John McCain.

Monday, November 03, 2008

why my office is amazing

NEW CTO: What is this bullshit? This is bullshit!
ME: I'm so glad we have a straight talker in our office now.
NEW CTO: I'm sorry. I apologize. I know, the language, I know. Anyone offended, send me an anonymous email ... and I'll write back to say, "Go fuck yourself."
CHIPPER McCHEERFUL: All this swearing makes me antsy, but only because I'm such a square.

Man, this is so much better than [the Very Important Talent Agency I worked at for a year]. People there were cursing all the time but it was more along the lines of, "You know that girl? Yeah, I'd fuck that girl. You think she's pretty, or hot, or just attractive? Yeah, me too. Fuck. Yeah."

Or, my favorite, overheard through a closed door: "No, Mom, fuck YOU."

Also, two of the projects that I spearheaded for my current, less emotionally-abusive office are now online. Check out the .pdf that will entrance guidance counselors throughout this great land, whispering to them seductively about the glories of the site, and the Guide to Sinners and Saints 2008 which groups 42 colleges according to which deadly sins or heavenly virtues they represent. Also, it has llamas!

PS: This post was not about the election. Aren't you impressed?

PPS: The election is less than 24 hours away and it actually looks like the good guys might prevail for once. WHAT WILL THAT BE LIKE? Will sunshine grow on trees and water gurgle with diamonds? Will I be able to eat chocolate again? Will my older brother, who was born on Tuesday, November 4th, 1980, finally be revenged for having had to share his birthday with the election of Ronald Reagan?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Choose your own adventure!

There are precious few days left until the election, as you might know if, like me, you were in Prospect Park on Sunday afternoon, basking in sunlight and in *not* thinking about the election for a moment, and you got a call on your cell phone from an Obama volunteer. The media is crazier than Ashley Todd these days -- screaming, running in circles, and flapping its hands. This is only right. I have, however, listened carefully to the mad ramblings and separated them out into three discernible narratives for the endgame. Take your pick.

#1) It's Obama in a Blowout. State polls throughout October have shown Obama with a clear lead. Right now, CNN gives him 291 electoral votes, gives him 364 (down from 375 yesterday), and everyone's best friend Nate gives him precisely 364.5. Even right-leaning RCP and nonpartisan Pollster acknowledge that in this case reality has a strong liberal bias. How strong? 311.

This storyline is supported by well-respected, neutral pundits like Charlie Cook as well as the most recent Gallup tracking poll, which decided, for Halloween, to get dressed up as Obama's best numbers ever:
Thursday night's interviews are the first conducted entirely after Obama's widely viewed 30-minute prime-time campaign ad, which ran on several television networks Wednesday evening. ... Obama's favorable position among traditional likely voters in the latest polling is partially reflective of his strong position among all registered voters. However, at other times when Obama has led McCain by 11-points among registered voters, his likely voter advantage has been lower than it is now, in the five- to seven-point range. Thus, Obama's improved likely voter standing also reflects a higher turnout propensity for his supporters than what Gallup has seen at earlier times this month.
Also Obama won some crucial cookie-poll in Ohio.

But if you're wrinkling your nose at that storyline, don't despair. Santa has a storyline in his bag of gifts for you:

#2: McCain is Making a Comeback! True, this tonic is primarily being peddled by the McCain campaign itself and has been gently debunked by experts. Still, anything is possible, as the media in general and John Dickerson specifically reminds us.

Could it be true? Of course! Secret racists, undecideds, complacent Barry-lovers, blacks and young people who don't actually turn up, Jews in Florida getting spooked by Obama's latest suspect affiliation (that man will hang out with anyone!), or some other October surprise could tilt the race back to the GOP. Never count your chickens, chickens.

#3: Death! That's right, somebody DIES. I don't have any fancy links for you on this one, since it's mostly the narrative constantly running through my own head. These effigies don't help, either.

But tonight is halloween and I'm dressed as a mini Joan Holloway -- in an orange retro wig, an animal print scarf, a dress, a pen necklace, a purse, and a cigarette case -- and, in keeping with the character, I'm going to try to focus on the important things at a party tonight: power, sex, and sarcasm. Let's see how I do!

Friday, October 24, 2008

"Hit a Jew Day" Goes Terribly Awry

Middle-school students in Missouri have taken it upon themselves to create "Hit a Jew Day" to brighten the landscape between July 4th and Halloween. Fewer than 10 children were affected, though one was slapped in the face, and another had a cross carved into his cheek. (Just kidding!)

In a first, the ADL declined to overreact, saying only that this was "more than bullying." Hmm. I think we all need an Outrage-O-Meter. I'll try to mock one up, but for now I would say that this registers about a 2.5 out of 10. 5 would be "Shooting an Innocent Bear Cub and Dropping Him on a College Campus, Covered in Obama Signs" and 10 would be "Joe Lieberman."

No doubt this was in response to the news that adorable Israel, sister state of Florida and NY, with all its potential converts to Palin-approved religious cults, is 150% in the tank for Obama. To be fair, though, according to that map, nations everywhere are in the tank -- Change We Can Believe In is the one thing India and Pakistan can agree on! War-torn Sudan is a toss-up. Iraq is bright red, presumably with the spilled blood of innocents. Only little Namibia is as excited about John McCain. Even Georgia is only PINK, like the real Georgia!

!!BREAKING!! Ashley Todd, aka the Barack-O-Lantern, didn't just make up her story of being attacked for being a McCain supporter, she also has self-described "prior mental problems." When she had to pull a description of her assailant out of thin air, here's what she said:
Richard said the woman had described her alleged attacker as an African-American, 6 feet 4 inches tall with a medium build and short dark hair, wearing dark clothing and shiny shoes.
Doesn't that sort of sound like this man?

Perhaps Ms. Todd was subconsciously picturing Obama jumping her since he has been leaving his mark all over Pennsylvania, where she's been living, volunteering for John McCain. Or maybe she's just Ashley the Lying Racist Drama Queen.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"everyone dabbled!"

It's been an overcast day in my heart—my hilarious, creative, totally stressball friends, who have been staying with me all week, are winging their way back to pinko Georgia. Farewell! Thanks for leaving me alone with my poll-tracking obsession and DVD 3 of "John Adams" from Netflix, which should come with tissues. Every episode somehow turns me into emotional applesauce. Stick a flag in me: I'm done.

A professional disappointment and rejection or two haven't helped, either. But the Ellen clip above made me smile, and so did this poignant photo collection of Obama in the early days of his campaign.

The subtitle reads: "... he asked me if I was photographing his shoes. When I said yes, he told me that he had already had them resoled once since he entered the race a year earlier." That's especially worth thinking about on a day where the RNC is all over the news for spending $150,000 on wardrobe and makeover for Sarah Palin. Also it reminded me of something Mr. Ben would do and it made me love Barry all the more.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A National Conversation About Race

Tell me again why anyone thinks it would be a good idea to embark on a national conversation about race. The NYT turned over that stone last week and I yelped as though I'd seen a cockamouse. NYMag has done it; Time has done it. And, of course, there's that widely circulating story: a volunteer approaches a house in a swing state and asks the woman at the door for whom she's voting. Her husband answers from within the house, "We're voting for the nigger!" "We're voting for the nigger," she repeats politely.

Today this "conversation," or "horror show," continues. On Sunday, Colin Powell gave a stirring, pointed denouncement of John McCain's campaign and endorsed Barack Obama as a "transformational figure." Democrats high-fived and Republicans signaled the bartender for another round. And then it turned ugly.

The charming cartoonist who depicted our former Secretary of State as a black Benedict Arnold also said the following:
"The only reasonable explanation for such a public political "about-face" in the midst of this important election is that Colin Powell, perhaps understandably, wishes to see someone who looks like himself in the White House.

"It's my opinion that General Powell has based his endorsement of Barack Obama on the color of his skin, not his qualifications, his experience or the content of his character."
Neither is he the only one to jump to that particular conclusion. Rush Limbaugh expressed his disappointment in similar terms:
"Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race. OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I'll let you know what I come up with.

"I was also unaware of his dislike for John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia. I guess he also regrets Reagan and Bush making him a four-star and secretary of state and appointing his son to head the FCC. Yes, let's hear it for transformational figures."
Wonkette also published highlights from the wingnut response, including the following:
-- I’m not surprised that Powell has endorsed a Chicago street thug over a real American hero either. “How ‘bout some ‘blow’ General? Then we’ll go help ACORN register some more ‘voters’.”
-- This is why you don’t let traitors in your midst. They are capable of doing far more harm than good.
-- Clown Powell showed us his true colors with his endorsement of this communist weasel. He just spit in the face of the military he supposedly cares about.
-- Oh please….he’s black and he is endorsing one of his brothers…just too obvious. It’s not hard for the everyday American to understand.
-- Planet of the APes mentality..”Monkey supports monkey”..
All this despite the fact that Powell contributed the maximum allowable, $2,300, to McCain's campaign last year and only recently came around to Obama.

Colin Powell worked so hard for so long to transcend his skin color and be seen as a person. By and large, he succeeded: if he wanted, he could probably have been our first black president. At the end of an illustrious career, he's been reduced to just another brother. And you know how brothers get treated, especially when they try to vote.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

To Distract Us All from the Debate & the Market

What Hipsters Name Their Precious Things

In Prospect Park on Sunday, an adorable little terrier puppy named Zoe kept running over to where my friends and I were sitting and rolling around in our laps and play-biting us and generally giving us acute cases of Cute Overload. Its hipster parents lounged uphill, smoking.

Further away, another pair of hipster parents released their unsteady daughter onto the grass, blowing bubbles at her to encourage her to chase them. In doing so, she toddled over towards us. "Zoe!" I called, just to see what would happen. Surprised, she looked straight at me.

What One Beauty-School Student Said to the Other in the Elevator

"Is our education in waxing going to be theoretical or practical?"

What One Blond Said to the Other in the Deli

"No, lettuce doesn't have carbs. No, I swear."

The Most Amazing Coming-Out Scene on Television Ever

Mad Men, Season 2, episode 11. Also, I will continue to love Don Draper no matter how loose his morals, as long as he keeps slapping around Pete Campbell. (Apparently, I am not alone in this.)

What My Co-Worker Made

It only gets funnier as it goes on.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Guide to Bellwethers

You can't swing a baseball bat in an election year without hitting a bellwether, or so it's beginning to seem. Here is a collection of the bellwethers that people SWEAR will determine the election this November:

1. The state of Missouri. ACCURACY: "Missouri is a traditional bellwether that has picked every presidential contest since 1960" and "all but one election since 1904." ADVANTAGE: Currently: Obama. But everyone knows Missouri is full of white people who are totally unreliable!
[Obama] he will have to overcome latent racism among rural whites, an element more than one expert described as an "unknown quantity" in Missouri particularly because residents have seen so few black candidates run for state or national office.
2. Chillicothe, Ohio. ACCURACY: "No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio ... Inside the bellwether state is the bellwether town of Chillicothe, a town that often mirrors the state's election results." Often? How scientific. ADVANTAGE: Split. Ohio in general is pretty blue these days, though.

3. Hillsborough County, Florida. ACCURACY: Doesn't say. Its claim to be a bellwether may be bullshit. Still, it's Florida, which we know is an important state. Let it stand. ADVANTAGE: Currently Obama.
Obama not only won 49 percent of women voters, to McCain's 43 percent, but he captured a plurality of male voters, beating McCain 45 percent to 39 percent.
Florida's looking pretty good too -- the conservatives are freaking out! and even Gov. Charlie Crist, still pouting about not being tapped for Veep, went to Disney World instead of helping McCain! -- but I don't trust it. FL's biggest import is old white people, and they are even more racist than regular white people.

4. The size of the candidates. Apparently the bigger candidate almost always wins, except when the smaller/lighter candidate is George W. Bush, who is a magical elf. ADVANTAGE: Obama has several inches and about 15 lbs on McCain. But Teddy Roosevelt was shorter than the other guy in 1904 and won, and was heavier than the other guy in 1912 but lost. What a maverick. (BTW: Who knew Roosevelt ran again in '12? I didn't and I majored in American History!)

5. The Scholastic kids election. ACCURACY: "Since 1940, the results of the student vote in the Scholastic Election Poll (online voting was added in 2000) have mirrored the outcome of the general election, except twice: in 1948 when students chose Thomas E. Dewey over Harry S. Truman and in 1960 when more students voted for Richard M. Nixon than John F. Kennedy." E for Effort, kidlets. ADVANTAGE: Colbert.
Boys favored Obama 49% to 46% for McCain, while girls chose Obama more definitively, 57% to 39%. Rounding out this year's vote, 4% of students voted for other candidates, the highest percentage of write-in votes in the history of the poll. Student write-ins included Senator Hillary Clinton, Congressman Ron Paul, Independent candidate Ralph Nader, and a handful of votes for television personality Stephen Colbert.
ALSO: Obama, who is like Colbert in that he is young and looks good on the teevee.

BONUS FUN: I say the real bellwether is just what folks expect to happen. So what do Republicans think will happen this year?
"A poll of 100 leading Republican political consultants by the conservative National Journal found that 80 believe Mr McCain will lose the election, while the remaining 20 think it could go either way."
Margin of error: +/- 20%.

Three nerve racking weeks to go! Bellwethers are known to be all mavericky so there will be no counting of chickens. Also, did I miss any, also? Feel free to point out your favorite other ways we can tell what's going to happen and so don't need to bother to vote.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hate Hater Hatererers

Speaking of hate, here are some videos to illustrate what an inept and amateurish hater I am compared to the professionals out there.

I call this one "Palin Supporters Heckle 'Commie Faggots.'" Its proper title is "Sidewalk to Nowhere" and its filmed on-site in godly Bethlehem, PA.

Then there's this one from Blogger Interrupted, filmed in a Strongville, OH parking lot outside a Palin rally. The word "terrorist" is thrown around an awful lot. Also the word "bloodlines." These must be the small-town values of which I have heard tell.

ANGRY, the word journalists are using, feels like a euphemism when used to describe this. (And this shit does not help!) Hopefully the Secret Service is paying attention to the threat posed by some of the disgruntled, possibly unhinged people who consider Obama a terrorist socialist who actually has a chance to win.

ETA: Oh! Apparently McCain has heard my knees knocking with fear and has moved to calm the crowds. That's something, anyway.

Day in the Office

Our managing editor heads out the door for a weekend in Boston.

Coworker #1: [sings softly] Don't go to Boston ...

The rest of us: [stare at him]

Coworker #1: Joni Mitchell, bitch!

The rest of us
: [keep staring, start laughing]

Coworker #1: Oh. Heh. It's "Please come to Boston."

Me: Um, the internets are saying it's Dave Loggins: "ARTIST: Dave Loggins; TITLE: Please Come to Boston. Please come to Boston for the springtime ..."

Coworker #1: Right! And then she goes, "I'm stayin' here with some friends ..."

Me: If by "she" you mean Dave Loggins.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Asked & Answered

Q1: Say the Joker abducted Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, and suspended one above a shark tank using dental floss while, in a different warehouse, a slow-motion laser seemed poise to cut the other in half. Which of his professed heroes would John McCain save?

A1: "I think he would save Ronald Regan because Teddy can take care of himself and Regan would spend the entire time trying to remember the name of that diner where he had the really good chocolate chip banana pancakes" -- my brother

Q2: If John McCain and Barack Obama shared a passionate, intimate moment, what would it look like?

A2: Dear lord help us:

Q3: If one candidate leaves a town hall stage after a somnolent debate, is the debate over? What if the other candidate hangs around for the encore? What if every participant suddenly wakes up, smiles, snaps pictures, gets a handshake, chats with the fellow who's still hanging around?

A3: That's a terrific question, my friend. Check this shit out:

Q4: What if Nora Ephron were married to either candidate?

A4: This!
McCain repeats himself way worse than Obama -- "my friends," "earmarks," etc. -- but both of them are guys we've been married to for a long time, and we know their stories. It's true I had no idea that McCain learned everything he knew from a chief petty officer, but that was about the extent of the surprises he had in store for me after all these years together, and in any case, it was clearly bullshit. ... If I were married to him, an unlikely scenario, we would probably have fought in the car on the way home tonight, because I told him a million times not to try to be funny, but he never listens to me.

And if I were married to Obama, another unlikely scenario but a far more attractive one, I would be driving home having a hard time not thinking about the curtains.

Q5: How would we know if ester were getting too emotionally involved in this election? If she teared up on the subway reading New Yorker endorsements and in the park seeing homeless men which brought to mind the Bradley effect? If she were about to head off to Yom Kippur services and all she could think to pray for is a satisfactory resolution on November 4?

A5: Yes, yes, and yes. G'mar hatimah tovah, everyone. Non-Hebrew speakers: that means, GObama!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

True Calling: Not a Hater, a Judge

For the second time since I've been in New York, I attended the Moth, a live storytelling competition that travels from venue to venue (as well as to iTunes!). Last night it took place in the fabulous Union Hall in Park Slope. My friends and I got there early enough to snag seats, and our proximity to the stage and our Liberal Arts College vibes caught the host's attention: she tapped us to serve as one of the three teams of judges who get to rate each story.

When asked to come up with a team name related to the evening's topic of Blood, we were determined to justify her faith in us. So while the other two judging teams offered somewhat predictable ideas, "A Negative" and "True Blood," we went with "First Blush." Applause from the crowd! To which we replied, Enjoy your approval of us now because you will be booing us soon.

Yes, that's right: we, the judging team of First Blush, were booed. Why? Because we have STANDARDS, dammit! We like (a) coherence; (b) things that are funny; (c) surprises. More importantly maybe we weren't drinking, whereas by the end the hipsters packing the house were pretty tilty with wine.

I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that's why they roared at cheap shots at fat and/or androgynous people. First Blush does not stand for that shit, no sir. We will bravely hold up a 7.9 for an utterly conventional, mundane story about you getting your period while wearing borrowed shorts if you, in the telling, direct unreasonable wrath at the massive "he/she" blocking your way to the bathroom. Or your self-hating story about being a chubby kid who eats your brother's birthday cake during the night, including the line "I was fat but crafty," which involves no blood being spilt at all.

We did unite with the crowd most of the time. We gave a great score to the eventual winner, a guy whose tale about getting cheap, painful, and inept plastic surgery in college made everyone wail and cringe in sympathy. The runner up, who talked about the time he almost died after being stabbed by the Latin Kings and then, when he went home to recuperate, was thrown through the windshield of his brother's car, also had us screaming. It's a good scene, overall -- if you're in NY or LA, I definitely recommend going. And be a judge if you can! The power feels awesome and terrible in an Old Testament kind of way.

Monday, October 06, 2008


While reading this Rachel Sklar liveblog of the Colbert New Yorker festival event, I followed her instructions and decided to see if, since Colbert and Stewart just decided to expand their shows through the election, there were any tickets. And this is what happened!
We have reserved 1 tickets for you to attend a live taping of The Colbert Report on 10/14/2008. In a short time you will receive an E-Mail at [redacted] containing information on the next steps required to confirm your attendance. YOU HAVE 48 HOURS TO CLICK ON THE LINK THAT WAS SENT TO YOU IN THE E-MAIL TO CONFIRM YOUR RESERVATION. If you do not confirm your reservation within 48 hours your tickets will be released.
I tried to get tickets for all of you too I swear but there was only one (1) left. Yes, I am one very lucky Rainbow Brite.

Mr. Ben and I hit up two New Yorker festival events this weekend too and they were awesome. And then, cuz we were all dressed up, we dropped in on Equus on Broadway, starring Captain Janeway, Uncle Vernon, and a naked Harry Potter. What a weekend.

Friday, October 03, 2008

because i never blog about fashion

These days, Emma Watson looks much less like a kid and much more like the Dutch au pairs who lived with us when I was little.

(via Go Fug Yourself)

Look, I did it! I made it through an entire blog post without mentioning Our Sarah! ... Oh. Shit.

Speaking of Our Sarah, one of my coworkers approached me this afternoon and said, "You're going to hate me but I actually watched the debates and I liked her! She seemed really great!" In an UNRELATED INCIDENT, another coworker approached me ten minutes later and, when I asked what his girlfriend did, said, "You're going to hate me: She's a model."

"I can't believe everyone thinks I'm a hater!" I said to a third coworker shortly thereafter.

"You do hate a lot," she answered kindly.

Yikes! When did I get this alarming reputation? Let's clear this up. Here is a FULL LIST of the things I hate:

  • One-word footwear (Uggs, Crocs)
  • Dippy, sentimental movies that are a waste of talent and often have offensive subtexts (Love, Actually, Serendipity, 200 Cigarettes)
  • Dictators, except wacky ones straight out of Douglas Adams who force all citizens to read their poetry
  • Mmm injustice? Unfairness? Stuff like that.
And that's it! Seriously! Now am I a My Little Pony or am I not?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

"What's six times seven?" "No, stuff she knows!"

For posterity, I wanted to capture this, from FiveThirtyEight, whose name reflects how many times I click over there every day:

Right now, on Oct 2, 2008, it's predicting an Obama victory with 336 electoral votes. This is pre-debate, mind you.

ETA: Post-debate! Palin needs to stop winking at me. It's disturbing. Either she wants to fuck me or she wants to fuck with me -- either way, I don't like it.

Where I grew up, and that's Washington, D.C., and I know that's not Scranton or Wasilla or one of them Real Places with Main Streets, so I figure that means we kill every fourth born child and roast its flesh on the National Mall as we dance around naked, flinging out feces in the direction of the Reflecting Pool and singing about how much we love corruption and hate mavericks, but where I grew up in Washington D.C. ... I forget where I was going with this. Let me start again.

God bless Joe Biden. If Sarah Palin wasn't about to fall down literally foaming at the mouth, and I knew she wasn't, they would never let her go out there unprepared, then he had to really bring it. He had to be knowledgeable but not abstract, intelligent but not arrogant, forceful but not condescending, and he did it, he really did. Honestly, I think he did it by not watching any of those Katie Couric interviews or the fabulous Tina Fey parodies, which enabled him to go into the debate with real respect for Our Sarah.

People are going to be buzzing for a while about how she didn't knock her own eye out or start speaking in tongues or striptease into a Betty Boop outfit. And that's true! She didn't! That's why I wanted to capture this image of the map showing America swooning for Obama, because Palin is going to, I think, deliver a bounce to McCain -- hopefully not the entirety of what he lost over the past couple weeks, but I think she'll help him make back some of that ground.

When that clapping dies down, I hope everyone remembers to say, But Biden did better. and That is the man who is seasoned and capable enough to be Vice President of the United States.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I do not understand our current financial crisis. I do, however, understand adverbs, and Dana Milbank apparently likes them a lot, especially ones that begin with C:
Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House banking committee, made his way into the House media gallery to face 75 reporters yesterday afternoon. ... "The Endangered Species Act apparently does not apply to financial institutions," he joked, cruelly.

He vowed, callously, that there will be "no golden parachutes while we are the owners" of Wall Street firms' bad debts. ...

He then cynically turned Paulson's defense of the Wall Street executives upside down. "Let me defend CEOs against Hank Paulson's attack on them," Frank said with feigned sincerity. ...
Lest adjectives feel left out, Milbank also goes hog wild with them too, describing Frank as hard-hearted, merciless, and brazen.

What is he going for here? Sarcasm? Hyperbole? Sloppy writing? I am not clear. But one thing is: Raymond Carver would not approve.

In other, more straightforward news, the Republican ticket had a big day today. Sarah Palin met with world leaders and war criminals and John McCain held his first news conference since fish flopped on land and decided to grow legs. And I am cranky because I am watching the very last, rather grim episodes of the Wire and they are giving me nightmares.

My irritation is probably nothing compared to George Will's, though. He is one serious Grumpy Gus today: he mutters that Obama isn't experienced but McCain is insane and only one of those problems has a possible fix. He'll be lucky if the GOP doesn't disappear him like they disappeared Carly Fiorina (and her golden parachute).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Postcards from the Verge

Jonathan Dee's NYT Magazine's article "The Tell-All College Tour" came out this weekend, making half of my face famous, offering new evidence on the Who's Bigger, Me or Katie Price question (don't I look TINY in that picture down there in the corner?), and catapulting my fledgling company into the spotlight. Our internet traffic spiked on Friday as soon as the link appeared on the NYT website, and there was much whooping and sending it back and forth in the office.

The media attention guarantees nothing, of course, except that we now have a chance. And although we at one point hit #1 on the Most Emailed list, the Sunday loudmouths have crowded the top and bumped us down to #6. Just what you'd expect of the media elites.

Though I'm glad Jonathan Dee had a positive take on us, I have to say that I'm astonished by the utter lack of fact-checking that occurs over at Gray Lady HQ. You'd think the Paper of Record would take note of the following, wouldn't you?:
  • there were initially 15 editors, not 20; now there are 13
  • we each were assigned 14 schools to cover, not 10
  • our office is on Park Avenue South, not Park Avenue, though I agree that the latter fits better into Dee's narrative
  • there are only 20 of us in the entire office, not 26
  • my brother, the quoted "current Cornell student," is, as he should be at 27, an alum

and so on. Also, I maintain that "the New Face of College Admissions" would have been a better title. But it's churlish to complain. The buzz is beginning! Perhaps we are well on our way to becoming the next medium-sized thing.

My coworkers and I hooted over Dee's dour-sounding note at the end of the piece:
It all might seem less suggestive if it weren’t for the fact that this whole “grass-roots movement” seems poised to make a lot of money — most of which seems destined to find its way to the usual suspects, none of whom are part of a grass-roots anything.
As someone who is yet to have made over $30K a year in New York City, I can only say, Amen, brother JDee. Amen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Say Goodnight, Fiorina

How appropriate that in a campaign built on lies, a person can get shitcanned for telling the truth:
Asked by a St. Louis radio station whether she thought Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin could run a company like Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina responded: "No, I don't."
The McCain folks are pissed.
"Carly will now disappear," this source said. "Senator McCain was furious." Asked to define "disappear," this source said, adding that she would be off TV for a while ...

Fiorina was booked for several TV interviews over the next few days, including one on CNN. Those interviews have been canceled.
No $50 million golden parachute on this ride down, I guess. But who will cry sexism on Palin's behalf now?

What's so frustrating is OF COURSE none of these political contenders could run a major corporation. That's not what they've trained to do. Even George W., who *had* an MBA, couldn't helm Hewlett-Packard. But putting Sarah "Bush in a Skirt" Palin in office would be worse than average, an awful lot like putting Norville Barnes in charge of Hudsucker Industries. Except that Norville Barnes was authentically a nice guy, not someone who fired her enemies and appointed old high school friends with no experience to run million dollar agencies.

Sarah Palin is officially Not Fun Anymore, even if she does have an action figure.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Please Note

It's unsettling to see one's bra size in the NYT mag prefaced by the words "startlingly large." Especially because I suspect the author has his facts wrong. Seriously, here's me:

And here's Katie Price:

No comparison, right? Right. But why should I expect fact-checking from the NYT? Last week Mo Dowd claimed Hillary went to Wesleyan. (The snobby, media-elitist northeastern liberal arts college Hill attended was, as everyone knows, Wellesley.)

Speaking of secondary sexual characteristics, Mr. Ben and I saw fabulous cabaret/burlesque Saturday night, courtesy of Lazy Rizo and the Assettes. In fact it's the only successful burlesque/cabaret I've ever seen -- it managed to be hilarious and sexy and entertaining all the way through.

In one incredible number, a man who began tap-dancing to "Momma's Little Baby Loves Shortening Bread" in a sailor dress and pigtails transformed, via striptease, into glitter Jesus, backed up by a bouncy version of "Let The Circle Be Unbroken."

Digest that if you can.

The next day, for a change of pace, Mr. Ben headed off to a patriotic photoshoot and the LES Pickle Festival while I hit up the Brooklyn Book Festival with friends. We got to see Richard Price (the Wire, Lush Life), A.M. Homes (the L Word, the Safety of Objects), Simon Rich (SNL, the New Yorker), Russell Banks (Cloudsplitter, Affliction), and Jonathan Franzen (the Corrections, How To Be Alone). FOR FREE. And Franzen flirted with me! Okay, he didn't, but he could have -- we spoke briefly, and he gazed at me with his sad, soulful eyes.

This was definitely an "I <3 NY" kind of weekend.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Wow! Both my parents are energy lawyers who have worked for the federal government off and on their whole lives, and they never had this much fun. But then, aside from Jay McInerney, and, we now know, members of the Bush administration's Interior Department, who does?:
The report says that eight officials in the royalty program accepted gifts from energy companies whose value exceeded limits set by ethics rules — including golf, ski and paintball outings; meals and drinks; and tickets to a Toby Keith concert, a Houston Texans football game and a Colorado Rockies baseball game.

The investigation also concluded that several of the officials “frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.”

The investigation separately found that the program’s manager mixed official and personal business. In sometimes lurid detail, the report also accuses him of having intimate relations with two subordinates, one of whom regularly sold him cocaine.

The culture of the organization “appeared to be devoid of both the ethical standards and internal controls sufficient to protect the integrity of this vital revenue-producing program,” one report said.
The sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives sound particularly enticing, don't they? Also the paintball outings, because god knows they're hard to come by.

I am trying to be in a better mood about things. The oh-so-wise Gail Collins is telling me to be, for one. Also, contrary to expectations, Rushdie's entertaining but narratively muddled Enchantress of Florence was not even shortlisted for the Booker this year, which means all status quos change eventually. AND the Large Hadron Collider succeeded in creating a small black hole but not in destroying the world. This feels like a good thing right now, although ask me again if McCain/Palin are elected.

NOTE: Do you ever think about the fact that life could end suddenly, in a flash, depriving all the religions of the world of ever knowing whether they were right?

Monday, September 08, 2008


The events of the past couple weeks have been dragging me down bit by bit, especially as we near the end of my favorite season:
I am scanning the horizon for mermaids or bright spots, anything that might cheer me up:

  • The New Yorker Festival. I'm on Year 5 in the city and I've never managed to get to one of these events. Will this be the year?
  • Unigo launches tomorrow, 9/9! This is it, folks, the real deal, the website I've been helping conjure out of the ether for the past eight months: The next medium-sized thing. Tell your friends.
  • "America's Next Top Model"

Honestly, I can't think of other specifics. There has to be something to look forward to! Please, Send Help.

ETA: Gawker mocks my pain and friends email me reassurance. Already I feel somewhat better. Thanks, pals and blogs!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sarah, Palin and Tall

The Mommy Wars rage on around and about Sarah Palin, yesterday's Bold, Maverick Choice and tomorrow's Harriet Miers:
“When I first heard about Palin, I was impressed,” said Pamela Moore, a mother of two from Birmingham, Ala. But upon reading that Ms. Palin’s special-needs child was three days old when she went back to work, Ms. Moore began questioning the governor’s judgment. Partly as a result, she plans to vote for Senator Barack Obama. ...

Her thoughts were echoed by some Republicans, including Anne Faircloth, daughter of former Senator Lauch Faircloth of North Carolina. Being a governor is one thing, Ms. Faircloth said, and Ms. Palin’s husband, Todd, seems like a supportive spouse. “But running for the second-highest office in the land is a very different kettle of fish,” she said.

Many women expressed incredulity — some of it polite, some angry — that Ms. Palin would pursue the vice presidency given her younger son’s age and condition. Infants with Down syndrome often need special care in the first years of life: extra tests, physical therapy, even surgery.

Sarah Robertson, a mother of four from Kennebunk, Me., who was one of the few evangelical Christians interviewed to criticize Ms. Palin, said: “A mother of a 4-month-old infant with Down syndrome taking up full-time campaigning? Not my value set.”
What a thankless job it is, in America, to be a woman in the public eye making decisions about family. And what a thankless job it is, as well, to be the vice president of a man who lets the press know you were his third choice because he wasn't allowed to ask out either of his preferred dates. How tacky is that? John, will you keep your aides in order, please? They're embarrassing both you and your "soul mate."

The GOP has suddenly become the party of drama, of chick flicks and Lifetime movies. Good for them for defending the ability of women to raise children and have jobs, at least. And good for them for being able to change their tune so fast! The opinion-makers were far less happy about the idea of Palin before the decision was made, according to this hilariously off-message Fox News clip.

While we're on the subject, good for Obama for refusing to engage with this tawdriness and pointing out his mother was only 18 when he was born. Truth be told, Obama doesn't have to do much except keep campaigning and keep Biden from putting his oh-so-tasty foot in his mouth. And Biden's doing pretty well so far:
If Sen. Joe Biden was hurt that Republican operative Karl Rove called him a “big blowhard doofus” at an event in Minneapolis Monday, he didn’t show it. On hearing the news, Biden grinned and said “he’s a great American.” ... A reporter asked if the senator would now answer to “Senator Doofus.” “You can call me anything you want,” he said. “I learned a long time ago you can call me anything you want.”
Oh, I hope the rest of the campaign continues to be chock full of vituperative mothers-in-law and fake blog entries about Foreign Policy that end, "In conclusion, Foreign Policy is a complex but fascinating topic." Please, Election 2008, tell me you're not done entertaining us yet.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Also, Remember This?

On a day when Obama prepares to speak again, let's all take a moment and review where we were four years ago, when a state senator for Illinois ascended the national stage for the first time.

Four years ago, when that speech first blew my mind, I had just begun working at what I like to call the Very Important Talent Agency, a place where I was sworn at, berated, objectified, and sexually harassed, and generally introduced to the "real world." Although we peons were encouraged not to let a lunch break distract us from our ten-hour days, I would sometimes slip out for some stabilizing fresh air.

On one of those days, which coincided with the Republican National Convention's takeover of NYC, I had the good fortune to be hit on by an aging delegate:
i was eating lunch in an outdoor plaza and a delegate (complete with cowboy hat -- they seemed to come standard) started a conversation. his mother sat next to him, spilling things on her blouse and sometimes chiming in.

... him: so where are you from?
me: dc
his mother: she's from new york, of course.
him: no, mom, she's from washington.
his mother: ohhh. (clear implication: if there's any place worse than new york ...)
him: so what's your name?
me: ester.
him: that's a great name.
me: it's a little old-fashioned.
him: i like old-fashioned women.
his mother: [spills something on herself]
And, to keep injecting sex into this political conversation, here's Rude Pundit's totally obscene take on the Convention so far. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Remember the Maine

On our trip to Maine last week, we decided that we had to eat either blueberries or lobster every day. In effect, we decided to eat lots of blueberries, because it turns out that lobster is hella expensive even in Maine, where I figured they basically give you two just for waking up in the morning. But we all got gold medals in blueberry eating: in pie, in muffins, on yogurt, on ice cream, and straight off the bush.

Also, I learned that Maine is about much more than food. It's also about really cold water. The water up there was clearly on loan from Titanic. One lovely day, just outside the idyllic, remote town of Machias, we decided to risk hypothermia, just for fun. We swam out to a bridge, let the river's rapids carry us, screaming, to the other side, and then swam quickly towards shore to avoid getting dragged out to sea and ending up dropped on a beach in Newfoundland looking like the Montauk Monster.

It was awesome. And, to thaw out our purple fingers afterwards, the lovely family we were visiting gave us all china teacups of homemade lobster bisque. It was as salty as the many locals who cut their eyes at us at rural gas stations along Coastal Route 1.

We also spent one long, hilarious night playing Settlers of Catan, a German colonialist board game. It's like Diplomacy meets Monopoly meets Sim City, and it's so absorbing we were up til 2:00 AM. We didn't even remember to watch the Olympics.

The area where Ben's dad has a beautifully decorated house is peaceful and small; there was very little to do except to tire ourselves out walking in the woods or on rocky beaches during the day, cook a lot, and then fall into a stupor not long after sunset. We did make it to an adorable little library, watched over by a woman who knew the name of everyone who came in. I listened to her making personalized recommendations and I realized that, in another life, I would totally be her. And pretty happy, too.

A Country Song

I had to agree with George Stephanopolous about the DNC stage: gross. Barack Obama's head appearing in that screen, framed by neon lights, made him look like he was inside a jukebox, some kind of alien warlord informing a fifties diner that he is going to attack.

But that's my only complaint. Ted Kennedy looked even stronger last night than he had the last time I saw him, speaking at my little brother's high school graduation. How can you not go all mushy and sentimental when you hear him he say, "I promise you, I will be on that Senate floor on January 5"? Remember to factor in that you have your period in this scenario, with hormones coming out your eyes. Okay, go.

Michelle, meanwhile, is a goddess, and her brother is adorable. You don't get to see that kind of close sibling relationship too often; the narratives of Father-Son, Mother-Daughter, Parent-Child, or Feuding Siblings take up too much space. And, of course, with this convention, the narrative of the Clintons Hate Obama but Love the Kennedies who Love Obama. It's a country song!

God, I'm tired of thinking and hearing about Clinton and her disgruntled, spiteful supporters. It's like no one ever lost a primary before. "It is a fact that millions of Americans voted for Mrs. Clinton this year," acknowledges the NYT. Well done, factcheckers! Millions of people also voted for Jesse Jackson when he ran, but you didn't see him hosting cry-ins about not making it to the White House.

Silver medal, Hillary! It's not so bad! Other fabulous women have had to settle for silver. Try to do it with some grace.

Meanwhile, in *actual* drama, four people have been arrested for plotting an assassination:
The police said they had found two rifles, one with a scope, in the car, along with walkie-talkies, a bulletproof vest and licenses in the names of other people.
And enough meth to power ten long-haul truck drivers.

Luckily we're being prayed for: the DNC even has an official prayer guy! And Tara Leigh knows him! Because apparently the world of Christians who are willing to chill with Democrats is very, very small.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Remember the Maine

Kicking my feet up in Bath, Maine, en route to Macchiasport. The houses are old, the locals are salty (and eco-friendly!), and the lobster rolls are very tempting. Thus far in my life the only lobster roll I've ever had was in Chelsea Market in Manhattan. That's gotta change.

Back next weekend!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Madness

This is like the movie version of My Fair Lady, with the studio casting Audrey Hepburn instead of Julie Andrews and then using Marni Nixon's voice: the little girl who sang in the opening ceremonies was the face China was looking for, but the voice was provided by a less adorable seven-year-old. God, how depressing. We'll never get over our perfection-obsession, will we?

(Because I can't resist the Biblical reference, I have to admit this quote also sprang to mind: "The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.")

Predictably, people are pissed:
The outrage was especially heated over the cold calculation used to appraise the girls. “Please save the last bit of trueness in our children,” wrote one person with an online name of Weirderhua. “They think Yang Peiyi’s smile is not cute enough? What we need is truth, not some fake loveliness! I hope the kids will not be hurt. This is not their fault.”

Another person added: “Children are innocent. Don’t contaminate their minds!”
Though I'll happily debate the "children are innocent" canard, otherwise I agree. It's this kind of stage management that makes people either strive for the unattainable or become cynical about everything. Like the New Yorker article about photoshopping, which made it clear you can never fully trust what you see. Do you think there would be so much conspiracy theorizing -- about the moon landing, 9/11, and Britain's 7/7 -- otherwise?

The idea that a child needs to not only have the best voice but the best look is American Idol-type nonsense. So is the idea that no female Olympian is complete, not even with a gold medal, if we don't know that she also has a husband and a baby in the wings, as a Johnson & Johnson ad last night made clear, or is about to start a family, as the media and announcers during the women's beach volleyball competition kept stressing. Already they have to compete in bikinis, so that we can objectify them even as we admire them.

Seriously, isn't it enough that these athletes do unreal things with their minds and bodies to perform for us on an international stage? Do we really need them to shrink back to human size once the cameras are off?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Welcome to the Team, Condi!

Everyone's letting the masks slip these days! Is it the August heat? First Paris Hilton reveals that she's actually shrewd and funny. Then Morgan Freeman decides to stop pretending his marriage is working (he and his wife have been secretly separated since December!). Now Condoleeza Rice has admitted she's an Obamaniac:
"Look, I’m a Republican, all right? Senator McCain is a fine patriot and he would be a great president. But there’s something to be said for fresh blood." ... Rice was also asked “Would you feel safe with a President Obama?” to which she responded, "Oh, the United States will be fine."
Check out that future tense! Very sly.

I'm going to try to move away from thinking about politics and polls all the time, the ridiculousness of which this New Yorker piece captures nicely. If only there were more distractions. At work, we're grinding through the last month before we go live -- exciting but stressful -- and mourning the sudden loss of our CTO. The office feels a bit like a bachelor pad these days, lacking necessities like toiletries and water (not to mention an HR department and an Office Manager) but boasting a big-ass flatscreen TV and an X-Box to go with it.

When I told a friend about the X-Box, she replied, impressed, "Are you guys like Google now?" The answer is, Absolutely, if the employees at Google have to fish used paper towels out of the trash can to wipe their hands.

Largely, the boys in the office are thrilled to get to play Rock Band and Avatars Play Soccer and Shoot That! And That Too! Get Him!. But I'm past the point in my life where I can enjoy watching other people work a controller. At least you can use the X-Box to play DVDs. Chipper McCheerful and I are staying after work to watch Season 3, Disc 3 of The Wire.