Monday, June 30, 2008

"i got the gun, you got the briefcase"

Especially now that I've finished the second draft of my book and sent it out to its probable first round of rejections, my favorite thing to do is watch dead TV shows on DVD. First it was My So-Called Life, which I re-experienced, giddily, on Netflix. Now it's the Wire, which, being five or so seasons, is going to take me longer. I'd heard and ignored hype about this show for years, figuring it would be somewhere on the spectrum of Law and Order, Homicide, and the Sopranos: male-focused, testosterone-y cop drama with lots of posturing and blood-letting followed by snarky courtroom scenes. I could do without.

Only when someone whose artistic opinion I respect told me it was maybe better than the Sopranos did I finally decide to give it a chance. The first few episodes were fine, if a little rough, but to be fair, David Chase's folks didn't really get their act together immediately either. Around Disc 3 of Season 1, with the cohesion of the police group and the increased centrality of Omar, one of the more compelling "bad guys" I've seen on television, I realized I was really into it. And this clip, from an episode I haven't even seen yet, is a pretty good explication of why.

"Is there really such a thing as black holes?"

"Waaaaaaaaalllll-E." "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeevuh." That is what is going on inside my head, a constant loop of one adorable robot voice speaking to another adorable robot voice. If I could get a guarantee that my kids would be as cute as those little Pixar creations, I would have them. (That's one consideration not addressed by this otherwise thoughtful NYT magazine article about why Europeans won't breed. I mean, seriously, reproduction is a risk. What if your kids have terrible taste, or grow up to be barbaric, vote-rigging, African dictators instead of awesome neurologists?)

Without giving too much away, because you should really see the movie yourself and be surprised / delighted, Wall-E is essentially one long much more artistically-impressive Mac vs. PC commercial. One that makes clear that the future belongs to Macintosh. Also to females, maybe, for some reason. Do you think that's because Eve, the sleek, more advanced, little i-pod of a robot, needed to be female for the story to make sense, or because, like the hipsters & artists who love them, Macs are inherently feminine?

Putting aside the question of how something with no genitals or reproductive capability could be sexed at all, it was nice to see a non-princess female character in a starring role in an animated movie. A non-princess, non-love-interest character would be even more impressive. I can only think of a handful in the Pixar/Disney canon, and the standout is probably Dory in Finding Nemo, a movie also written by Wall-E auteur Andrew Stanton. Also the fabulous Edna in the Incredibles, which is still my favorite Pixar flick (or "Pick"). Interestingly -- not that I'm drawing conclusions -- Dory is voiced by a famous lesbian and Edna by a man.

The little girl sitting next to me at the sold-out Friday night showing I went to had lots of questions for her mother, including the one that's functioning as the title of this post. It was also pretty cute, although less cute than robot kissing. But, then, isn't everything?

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Dishonesty is the second best policy"

George Carlin is dead and I missed the Mermaid Day parade. At least other timelier folks took cameras: The story of *how* I missed the parade is a comedy of errors -- after all, I was there. At least I got to see some detritus/aftermath. Photos TK.

That picture of the mermen comes courtesy of JJ, who takes awesome pictures her own self. She and Charrow, my oldest & bestest, the fantastic creature who wore a tiger-print dress to my rehearsal dinner and then a suit to my wedding, will be moving here in the fall. Next summer we will all be arm and arm on W10th, yodeling at the passing sea creatures and painted 'mos. I cannot wait.

While sweating to the oldies in Atlanta, the team of Charrow & JJ has created these cards of which I am in dire need. They're like a ink blot test: do you see narcissism? Self-sufficiency? Energy independence? Masturbation? Confuse your friends! They're for sale here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Things I Do To Endanger Myself

Twice so far today I've put my health at risk: first, I ate a raw tomato, which is currently the equivalent of eating a raw egg.

Then, this afternoon, against the specific advice of Anthony Bourdain, a man you do NOT want to cross, I bought half-price sushi at Chicken Deli. How could I resist eight California rolls for $2?

If I die, please tell the coroner I went to my grave thrifty. And make sure to order the pine box.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It *Is* In Washington, D.C. ...

Me: Mike, did you see this?
Mike: Oh my god! Racists are mean. Well, I guess they'll have to get used to calling it the Black House.
Me: The Darkie House. Or maybe they could just call it The Ghetto!

(link via Wonkette)

ETA: The GOP is shocked, shocked and appalled. It will not tolerate -- "or profit from" -- racism. I guess that means no more ObamaMonkeys, either, huh? Damn PC-police, always ruining the fun.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

ups and downs

Governor Deval Patrick's daughter is heading off to home-of-the-homos Smith College in the fall, and she'll fit right in. Yay, Katherine! And well done, daddy Deval, who apparently is the a poster-child for PFLAG:
"he didn't know that I was gay [when he helped legalize gay marriage in the state]," the 18-year-old recalls. "So, for someone so publicly to fight for something that doesn't even affect him was just like, 'That’s my dad,' you know?" she says with a laugh. "That’s all I could think. I was very, very proud to be part of this family, and this state in general."

"It was great. I'm very glad," she adds, looking at her father. "Don't cry, Dad." Patrick's eyes are brimming with tears, prompting some good-natured teasing from his daughter. "He's done some good things," she says with a laugh, patting his arm. "I appreciate it. Want a tissue? Oh, God. He's a crier."

Less amazingly adorable? Strawberry Shortcake's hideous makeover:
They've taken a beloved, asexual childhood icon -- and they've tried to make her cool. Strawberry Shortcake isn't cool! She's Victorian! And she isn't supposed to look like the demon lovechild of the Little Mermaid and Polly Pocket in truly awful high-waisted pants. That's way worse than when Marvel unconsciously created Gay Ken in 1993:
it gave Ken a purple mesh T-shirt, a pierced ear and the name “Earring Magic Ken,” and it can set off a brand crisis on a global scale. ... Earring Magic Ken is the industry’s nightmare. The character, who had blond highlights in his hair and a leather vest, drew howls from consumers, who did not see him as a realistic boyfriend for Barbie.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Summer in the city!

All of a sudden I totally can't stop with the pictures. I got this from a very entertaining, globe-trotting LJ friend (not to be mistaken for a person I know in real life) and I feel that it's sort of appropriate, given the weather. The tagline at the top, in case you can't read it, says, "A tedious adventure-romance!"

Chase me down with poison-tipped spears if you must, but I have to admit I don't mind heat. Of course, this a little extreme, especially for early June. Luckily our apartment is a bit of a cave and has remained cool for the most part. We haven't had to turn on our A/C yet and we even managed to cook last night. Come visit! We have a hose we can spray you with in the backyard!

We packed our bathing suits when we down to Swarthmore this past weekend for Mr. Ben's five year reunion, thinking we could sneak down to the Crum. There was no time but I'm definitely putting it on the agenda for next year, when I am the star and Mr. Ben is the spouse. There were no non-Swarthmore spouses at his reunion, it should be said. Marrying a non-Swattie five years out is, apparently, as unthinkable as working for profit. Every conversation I had with someone led to them telling me about their good works or their Ph.D. program. "And what's *your* thesis about?" I asked, over and over again, batting my eyelashes like Scarlet O'Hara.

At breakfast on Sunday, I had the surreal experience of bonding over Henry Fielding with a boy I last saw dirty dancing on-stage with a friend of mine at Sager, Swarthmore's annual sextravanagza ("boys wear a dress, girls wear less!"). In fact I have a great picture of him pretending to bite her face. He's now doing a doctorate in British literature at UVA. Naturally.

On the subject of bad boy behavior, please do yourself a favor and read this amazing article about how McCain ditched his first wife after she was in a disfiguring car accident. Of course, we can't turn on our backs on every politician who commits a sexual indiscretion; we understand that tremendous, unfeeling egotists must screw around, trade up, be cruel, and generally make themselves feel sexy and powerful at the expense of their wives. So, as a society, we seem to set the bar pretty low: no transporting multiple hookers across state lines and no sex with children.

All the same, McCain's story takes my breath away. I mean, you know it's bad when people are willing to go on the record:
Ted Sampley, who fought with US Special Forces in Vietnam and is now a leading campaigner for veterans’ rights, said: ‘I have been following John McCain’s career for nearly 20 years. I know him personally. There is something wrong with this guy and let me tell you what it is – deceit.

‘When he came home and saw that Carol was not the beauty he left behind, he started running around on her almost right away. Everybody around him knew it. ‘Eventually he met Cindy and she was young and beautiful and very wealthy. At that point McCain just dumped Carol for something he thought was better.

‘This is a guy who makes such a big deal about his character. He has no character. He is a fake. If there was any character in that first marriage, it all belonged to Carol.’
Even Ross Perot joins the beat down!
Ross Perot, who paid her medical bills all those years ago, now believes that both Carol McCain and the American people have been taken in by a man who is unusually slick and cruel – even by the standards of modern politics.

‘McCain is the classic opportunist. He’s always reaching for attention and glory,’ he said. ‘After he came home, Carol walked with a limp. So he threw her over for a poster girl with big money from Arizona. And the rest is history.’
When a self-centered Texas billionaire calls you out, you know you're in trouble.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Ready, Set, O!

The primary season is blessedly, finally over. Slate's Hillary Death Watch moved her chances down to a red zero. And as to speculation that she should/could be put on the ticket -- an idea on par with inviting the Macbeths to come along on your summer vacation -- Beam had this to say:
Clinton's handling of the past two days has all but closed off the possibility of an Obama-Clinton ticket. And that's just one of the 78 reasons Clinton won't be veep. Obama could never run as anti-Washington yet pick the personification thereof as his second. Clinton would never be able to cede the spotlight, as VPs must. And Bill's presidential library would pose its own set of headaches, the Wall Street Journal reports today. If there were a Hillary Veepwatch, it would be hovering around 0 percent, too.
Please let it be true.

Meanwhile, isn't our new President-to-be handsome? Wasn't that fist bump great? And don't you think he should be outfitted in a mandatory bulletproof vest for the next five months?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Today I received a hardback copy of The Writer's Brush, a fifteen-pound coffee table book of mysterious provenance. It arrived in a bland, brown box with no return address or identifying marks; inside, there was no packaging, no note, and no explanation. If you sent me this book, please let me know so I can thank you appropriately.

I also received the Baz Luhrman Red Curtain Trilogy Box Set. This is less of a mystery: I found it on for $15. Yay! But one of the movies is missing. Boo!

One of the boys in my office crinkled up his brow and told me I didn't strike him as the Luhrman/Leonardi diCaprio/pomo-musical-lovin' type. I guess folks at work only know me as that married, sarcastic Jewish vegetarian who proofreads other people's stuff for fun and doesn't eat sugar. ... Actually, that's pretty nail-on-the-head, isn't it?

ETA: Wow! My eBay/ seller apologized like mad and overnighted me an ENTIRELY NEW BOX SET. This means I now have two copies each of the "Exclusive: Behind the Red Curtain" DVD, Moulin Rouge, and Strictly Ballroom. Takers?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Cosmo fever!

After a marketing blitz that began *months* ago and amped up to one weeklong, deafening SQUEEE!, Sex and the City made over $50 million in its first weekend, unseating Indiana Jones -- and people are surprised. In fact, Hollywood is still sort of peeking between its fingers, trying to figure out what happened. A NY Mag blogger tries to explain the phenomenon in terms the studios might understand: the women are like superheroes! And doesn't everyone like superheroes?

Choice quote:
No, not the kinds of female superheroes invented by men for men, vinyl-clad fantasies like Electra or Catwoman. The women of SATC don't fly or have awesome weapons or even drive very often — but they do save each other from bad guys.
This post helpfully breaks down an opening-night audience with pie charts and quotes.

I may as well admit, I absolutely contributed to the SATC orgy this weekend. Two friends and I structured our Saturday around getting tickets and then seats. I felt rather proud of myself for planning it all out well. Then the movie started, a sentimental moment made my eyes prick, and I realized the one thing I had forgotten: I was PMSing. This means I cry--plentifully, hard, and at the drop of a hat.

I usually deal with this by milking the cow, watching tragic West Wing eps. But there I was, far from my laptop and confronted with four sweet, flawed, familiar characters I had come to care about after years of watching and rewatching them. The tears, they did not stop. The movie is two and a half hours long; I estimate that I cried through at least forty-five minutes of it.

As embarrassing as it is, the weeping did accomplish something: I was too busy emoting to get worked up about the film's idiotic missteps, like Jennifer Hudson as Magical Negro, the one throwaway Charlotte subplot, and the last line. If you cry through something, you are almost guaranteed to come out feeling fond of it. Then, clearly drunk from dehydration, I bought Seasons 3 & 4 on DVD for a half zillion more femme points and $40. Je ne regrette rien.