Wednesday, January 30, 2008


You know what's fun? Apartment hunting.

Actually I enjoy it way more than I should. Mr. Ben and I have already found one place worth paying a broker's fee for. We'll see what bizarre and unaccountable circumstances rise to stand in our way; but if none do, we'll be the proud owners -- well, renters -- of SPACE. Like a galaxy's worth. And a washer-dryer. That's the apartment equivalent of "... A NEW CAR!" (Frankly I'd rather have free convenient laundry than a Pontiac, anyway.)

This picture, by the way, comes straight from Craigslist. It is supposed to be making the apartment in question look attractive.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Politics is a hilarious sport, as subtle and intricate as a game of Street Fighter II, and this article nicely captures the reasons why. Don't bother reading it though. I'll give you the Be Kind, Rewind-esque summary:

MCCAIN: [fearmongering half-truth and distortion about Romney]
ROMNEY: [inarticulate shriek of rage, followed by:] You say you're sorry!
MCCAIN: I will not say I'm sorry! YOU say you're sorry -- to the TROOPS!
ROMNEY: [whimper of defeat]

Meanwhile, Obama has whomped Hillary in South Carolina by a 2:1 margin. Go team! But of course that doesn't silence the critics who are still whispering that America isn't ready for a black president. Dude, how dumb are you? That's not the question. Of course American isn't ready for a black president -- in the abstract. But people are always ready and willing to crown an individual an Exception.

Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir were both wonderful examples of this phenomenon. I doubt whether either country, if polled, would have said it was ready for a female leader; certainly they haven't elected one since. But the right person at the right time can make at least the majority of the voters, in societies that remain racist, sexist, and generally closed-minded, look past those traits.

It's a bit like going gay for just one person. I feel like the country can go gay for Obama, if you follow my logic. It's not exactly Dr. King's dream fulfilled or anything, but it's a start.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


My reaction to Heath Ledger's untimely and mysterious demise at the hands of an Olsen twin? (You know they're implicated, even if the NYT had to take out the initial report that Heath died in Mary Kate's apartment and that he'd been seen earlier with Ashley.) Grief. Pure grief. And to ask, If you came back as a zombie, who would you bite first? I'd go for Ann Coulter, I think.

My coworker who sits next to me, chugging Target brand cough syrup, reflects and then answers, "I think I'd be a nice zombie."

Another coworker posts the following on his gchat:
Joaquin Phoenix found drowned in bathtab in Hannah Montana's Soho loft
Jake Gyllenhaal found crushed to death by rocks in Mischa Barton's apartment
Zac Efron found stabbed in Coolio's South American villa.
Christian Bale found slashed to ribbons in Rihanna’s Venezuelan thresher

I giggle and life goes on.

ETA: Jack Nicholson was involved somehow! I knew it! Seriously, how has that asshole outlived so many other actors and politicians and presidents?

Monday, January 21, 2008


So many races! So many contests! It's all terribly exciting, now that the Democratic political field is almost as scattered as it could be (will John Edwards pick up a state already?) and the Oscars are about to be announced (NYMag puts its predictions on paper here). I hope NYMag is right at least on the Supporting Actress front -- two of my favorite roles of the year are there: Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton and Cate Blanchett in I'm Not There.

Politics-wise, I've evolved from my original Pro-Drama stance of wanting as much of a contest as possible to a tentative Pro-Obama stance. Hillary is beginning to seem inevitable again; and so many minority groups are spurning Obama cuz it turns out, in a giant shocker, that white people aren't the only ones who are hostile to blacks. (Or is there another explanation?) That depresses me, so into the man's opens arms I run.

This weekend was all about small talk -- family Saturday, more family Sunday. At last discussion of the election adds a dash of friendly controversy to these gatherings. I suppose I could have spiced things up further by asking, "Can someone explain the appeal of Blue Velvet to me, please? I just saw the damn thing and was ten shades of underwhelmed. It reminded me of Belle du Jour, another 'classic' I couldn't watch all the way through. What gives?"

Friday, January 11, 2008

anonymous was a witty guy

It is a truth universally acknowledged that no really good quip can go unattributed. Any witty or wise quote with staying power must be tied to some great wit, usually dead, usually Winston Churchill or Oscar Wilde. Sometimes Dorothy Parker benefits from this phenomenon: for a long time, I assumed she was the one who said, "Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker." (It was Ogden Nash.) What are the odds I'm the only one?

I just learned that that famous flip line about politics, "Anyone who is under 40 and a Conservative has no heart; anyone who is over 40 and a Liberal has no brains," is an orphan, albeit one as sought after as Little Orphan Annie. People as disparate as Wendell Wilkie, George Bernard Shaw, and Otto Van Bismarck are reported to have coined the phrase.

I would have sworn it was Churchill.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

OD'ing on empathy

I would like to make it known, before history gets written this evening, that I feel really bad for Hillary Clinton. Maybe I shouldn't: Lord knows she has power, position, significance, some comfortable amount of money, a house in Chappaqua, brains, a great daughter, and a place in history. She may even love her husband -- who knows?

Also, not everyone is ready to write her off, even if (when?) she does lose this evening.

All the same, lady queen looks like she's going down, and it saddens me. I do like the man who's flattening her; of course I'm an Obama girl. But the Obama boys in my office have are being pretty dismissive of the Hillster's fall from grace. How can they be so cruel? I mean, look at her! She wants this so much, and she's not the young, idealistic person she used to be. In fact, I think that's mostly what's working against her. She isn't just middle-aged, she is Middle Age. Get close enough to a picture of her and you can smell the deflated dreams, the settling, the compromises.

Get close enough to a picture of Barack Obama and your nose fills with the new car scent. Who doesn't want to buy a new car, especially if it's the same price as the used one? Even if the used one's a BMW?

I just feel bad for her, dammit. Despite everything, I like her and it hurts my heart a little that so few other people do.

Friday, January 04, 2008

mustang submerged

mustang submerged
Originally uploaded by wanakenahouse.
This, it must be said, is the car that brought us to Wanakena. When we arranged to rent a compact from Avis in Newark, NJ, we had no idea that they would provide us with a bright red Ford Mustang convertible. Who needs four wheel drive when you have all that MUSCLE?

More pictures at flickr!

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Usually, I get very stressed out about traveling to and from Wanakena, my friend K-Ross's house in the mountains, and then I enjoy my time in the snowy wilderness immensely. This year I felt nowhere near so apprehensive in advance; but, while I enjoyed myself, I also didn't have the kind of heart-filling experience I have had in the past. Whether these things are related, I can't tell.

What is probably related is that about half of those who went this year were newfolks, a self-contained group of non-Swatties, and though they were perfectly nice, I felt a bit on the outskirts the whole time. Mostly I hung out with my small, great nucleus of friends, an experience that was cozy and lovely but not transcendent. Plus, once two of those friends ramped up the flirting and eying of each other, the prevailing narrative of the day became their courtship and then its culmination. (Of which I only watched the first part.)

Mr. Ben put in a superhuman effort to get us there, driving almost the entire way through a devouring snowstorm, after having slept only two hours of the last thirty. Listening to the last Harry Potter book on CD helped, but the unfortunate side effect was that he was more or less in a fugue state for much of the next day. Still, I think he had a good time. And it's lucky we didn't crash. Apparently we tempted fate by forgetting to "sit" before we left -- it's a very simple Russian tradition that consists, simply and entirely, of sitting quietly before getting up and moving into the car. We forgot, and, in consequence, LEFT OUR DOOR UNLOCKED. Nothing was stolen, thank God, but I don't think we'll neglect to "sit" again.

Once in Wanakena, we hung out in the sweat lodge, danced, ate, and tromped through the deep powdery snow. We also played a lot of games, especially once the strangers and half of my nucleus took off, leaving only K. Ross, Mr. Ben, the Rebbe and me alone with the leftovers. My favorite part of the experience was the outfit I wore New Year's Eve, which came courtesy of the Rebbe with an assist from one of the strangers. I felt like a 20's vixen. (Pictures TK!)

And now it's 2008. I can't believe this year is here already -- it's the one I thought would never come around. We had to offer blessings to each other over dinner, a process which freaked me out in the moment since I hate being put on the spot AND forced to be sincere at the same time, but the ones I offered the stranger next to me stand for pretty much everyone I know, certainly all of you: (1) good haircuts; (2) a Democratic government; and (3) the encountering of many new and surprising selves within the larger You. Happy new year!