Friday, February 26, 2010

Water fountain FAIL

Online here:

In a hospital, no less! The very one where my doctor told me again, "Life is not fair," because I confessed to being angry, still, that my father died and then my uncle immediately thereafter.

I *know* life is not fair, you sweet, well-meaning, occasionally ridiculous Russian! One of my best friends just got back from a work trip to eastern Congo, Somalia, and Rwanda, and other places where people SUFFER and DIE -- or, suffer and have to flash back to the horrors they faced for the rest of their lives. I can accept that life isn't fair rationally and still have emotional reactions. Can't I?

"Well," he said, considering. "How long ago now did your father die?"


"Hmm. Well, two months is the standard mourning period ..."

Out of spite, as I left, I took this picture and submitted it to Failblog.

This evening, I finally geared up to go to the gym. On the way there, I stepped in a melted glacier, soaking one foot all the way up to the ankle. When I limped to the finish line, I discovered the Y had been closed since 4:00 PM.

Yup, still angry.

"But not at a person?" he asked.

No, just in general.

"Okay," he said. "So it is not pathological."


I hope the rest of you had a more cheerful snow day.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Food, glorious food

The best pizza in NYC?
Originally uploaded by shorterstory.
It was an extremely food-happy weekend this weekend. No special occasion: Mr. Ben and I did turn nine years old on the 17th, but we weren't celebrating that. (I still want to hit up Good Fork in Red Hook, though, which was our original anni-day plan scrapped in favor of sitting on our new couch and watching old episodes of Mad Men.)

FRIDAY: Dinner at Motorino, the best pizzeria in New York, according to Sam Sifton. Like the intern who talks too much in staff meeting, Mr. Sifton, the new NYT restaurant critic, seems to be trying to make a name for himself right away as a kingmaker & all-around fearless guy. Bold choice, Mr. Sifton.

His gambit worked. Certainly I was enticed, with a small circle of friends, to squeeze into the space that once held another fantastic pizzeria, Una Pizza Napoletano. We split three pies, some less kosher than others. (I picked the sizzling bits of pig off of my slices but those who indulged seemed to enjoy it immensely.)

Even at 5:55 PM, there was a line for a table for four. We were seated almost an hour after we arrived. Still, the pizza really was terrific; the tiny pools of oil on the buffalo mozzarella were so good they would send your eyes flying upwards into your head while the sounds of angels filled your ears. Best pizza in New York, though? I can't say. To me, the best slice of pizza is whichever high-quality one I'm eating at the time. Bonus points if I'm hungry and if I've been waiting for a while in the cold.

Dessert at the cozy Italian bakery situated just close enough to Veneiro's that no one goes in, except skittish-looking loners and family clusters. I did not partake myself, since I can't do sugar, but I do love the smell of cappuccino.

SATURDAY: Undistinguished except by the excellent bittersweet hot chocolate Mr. Ben and I enjoyed during the Accomplice: the Village show that took us around NYU on an ambulatory, interactive theater experience / scavenger hunt.

SUNDAY: This is when we really got into gear. With a different circle of friends, I embarked on a Lower East Side eating tour. Because it was self-curated, we indulged in foods that were not exactly designed to complement each other: pickles straight from a room full of barrels, freshly baked hamentaschen & whole-wheat bread, crystallized-ginger donuts from the Donut Plant in honor of Chinese New Year, banh mi, and finally bubble tea. Everyone was fit to explode, though no one person tried everything.

Next up: Tour Dumpling! This, people, is why we live in NYC.

Monday, February 22, 2010

It's all in how you see it

I would think that flying a plane into a building is a pretty black-or-white act, especially in our post-9/11 world. What is terrorism if not an attempt to intimidate people into acting in a certain way because of violence or the threat of it? If I demonstrate that I am willing to kill people for what I believe politically, whether I believe in lower taxes or global jihad, I become a terrorist.

Or -- and here where it gets tricky; you might want to sit down -- a hero.
The daughter of a man who crashed his small plane into a building housing offices of the Internal Revenue Service called her father a hero for his anti-government views but said his actions, which killed an IRS employee, were "inappropriate."

Joe Stack's adult daughter, Samantha Bell, spoke to ABC's "Good Morning America" from her home in Norway. Asked during a phone interview broadcast Monday if she considered her father a hero, she said: "Yes. Because now maybe people will listen."
His actions, which included murder, arson, and the destruction of federal property, were "inappropriate." Because they were successful, however, and "now maybe people will listen," he's a hero.

The daughter went on to say, "'But if nobody comes out and speaks up on behalf of injustice, then nothing will ever be accomplished,' she told ABC. 'But I do not agree with his last action with what he did. But I do agree about the government.'"

That government workers deserve to be killed? That our taxes are so high (in Texas, mind you, where there is no state income tax) that we are entitled to resort to extremism and destruction? What exactly does she agree with? Or, in this age of Tea Partying populist anti-government paranoia, does it not even matter? "Injustice," she says. Injustice towards whom? About what? I am trying to stay calm, trying to understand what on earth she is talking about. I am not having an easy time.

I would like to knock on her door and ask to come in and have a nice quiet polite chat where I ask her whether she now identifies with the hypothetical daughter of a 9/11 hijacker who thinks her father is a hero. Because what's the difference? Are Muslims terrorists and white men who act out merely "inappropriate"?

And then I will put down my cup and look her in the eye. Very quietly, I will say, I have been to three funerals and four shiva calls in six months. I have traveled to Connecticut for death and to North Carolina and to DC and to Westchester. I am tired, and I am angry, so angry that I am probably clutching the table right now. Because how dare anyone think that he is entitled to kill people, to fly a plane into a federal building just because he believes something? My mother works in a federal building and my father used to. I don't care what you believe; you can die for your beliefs, if you feel that strongly about them. But how dare you take other people with you to prove a point?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My favorite spam-fax from the Westboro Baptist Church is all about Figs. It's also a clear rip off of Jeff Foxworthy.

"You might be a good fig if you:
  • confess that Jews killed Jesus, and repent and mourn that grievous sin;
  • put away your lie that God will bless you for pretending to eat kosher;
  • recognize that Israel is doomed because of the Jews' proud sin."

More likely you are an evil fig.

"You might be an evil fig if you:
  • would rather starve than eat the Bread of Life, whom you proudly crucified;
  • Loudly proclaim that you're entitled to land you stole in your disobedience;
  • Are proud of the bloody butcher's apron known as the Israeli flag."

Until we got this sheet, I didn't know why the sensitive and intelligent folks at the WBC chose to send the company I work for faxes everyday. (One we get frequently mentions Matthew Shepard, who it says "has been in hell these eleven years.") Now I realize: it's because we're evil figs! Although I'm not sure we loudly proclaim we're entitled to anything, or that we would turn down any free food, even the Bread of Life. Still, we meet the general requirements.

Guess what, Westboro Baptist Church? I may be an evil fig but I've got one up on you. Hear that whooshing sound? That's me turning the other cheek.

Oh yes. That's right. I FORGIVE YOU. I have out-Christianed you, and on Ash Wednesday no less. So stuff that in your fax machine. And have a nice day.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

True story!

My tiny little college roommate gave birth to a giant baby! Well, both my roommates were tiny, and Catholic, and had short straight hair and small breasts and adorable faces, now that I think on it. But here I'm referring to the second roommate of the two, the one who got married, oh, just about NINE MONTHS AGO.

Kaboom!, as the scientists say. Two math-majors meet, mingle, and as a result new life walks the earth. Their union has already produced something more substantive than the US Senate has managed to produce in years. (Using the life of One of God's Children to score political points? Is that below me? Should it be, *Sarah Palin*?)

I am in shock. She squeezed 9 lbs and 4 oz of something live and kicking out of her canoodle today. While I was doing what, browsing Facebook? Thinking about the worst possible first/early date movies? (My picks, aside from Slate's winner "Closer": "Quills," "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover," "the Dreamers," and "Belle du Jour." All movies that seem like they should either be sexy or fun or both and end up being horrifying.)

Oof. Well, regardless, happy life, little newborn baby! And congratulations all around.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I am baffled by the idea that there can be a 100% chance of anything. "Taxes," suggested a friend this morning. Okay, fine: death and taxes. But anything else? Even the fact of the sun rising, the earth continuing to spin, the sky being up and the ground being down, gravity, entropy, cereal ...

Surely the scientists at are rounding up? I would be much more comfortable with a percentage that allowed for the element of sheer randomness and chaos in our lives -- 99.8% even. Am I alone in this?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

I Hate the Future

While browsing through old journals for the mem-wa, I came across this curt poem I wrote four years ago, when I had just been laid off from Job #2:
I Hate the Future

I hate the future

dark car
on a dark street

Something bright may sit
behind the tinted windows

All i see
is the barreling forward
the peaceful air it displaces
Four years later, employed again (Job #5!), housed again (Apartment #4!) and married, I am elated to discover, some things never change.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Laughing like the guy from 'Mary Poppins'

Mr. Ben and I watched In the Loop (2009) Saturday night, and it was the most gleefully foul-mouthed thing I've come across since the Aristocrats. Also the most hilarious.
Simon Foster: Tobes, I don't want to have to read you the riot act but I am going to have to read you some extracts from the riot act, like section one, paragraph one: don't leave your boss twisting in the wind and then burst in late, smelling like a pissed seaside donkey.

Toby Wright: Look, alright, I was late for the meeting, Simon, I am sorry, but it's not like I threw up in there, is it?

Simon Foster: No, you're right, I'm being unfair. I should be thanking you for not throwing up. Well done, you're a star. You didn't wet yourself, did you? You're in the right city. You didn't say anything overtly racist. You didn't pull your cock out and start plucking it and shouting "Willy Banjo". No, I'm being really unfair. You'd got so much right, without actually being there in the beginning of one of the most important moments of my career. Thanks, you're a legend.


Jamie MacDonald: Hi, Toby, Toby. Very pleased to meet you. Please sit down. Now, right, that's enough of all the fucking Oxbridge pleasantries.

Toby Wright: What's Oxbridge about saying hello?

Jamie MacDonald: Shut it, Love Actually! Do you want me to hole punch your face?
Even the deleted scenes were funnier than anything else I've seen this year, with the possible exception of Up in the Air.

Mr. Ben and I had a rather Brit-themed weekend, what with the "Full English" brunch at Chip Shop and reading Harry Potter aloud as we cooked. It reminded me that I really, really want to go to Britain. The lake country! Stonehenge! Oxford! Cranford! (Is that a real place?) I want to go every damn village I've ever read about and, while Mr. Ben is distracted by the Tower of London or something, make out with every cute, tall, deadpan, angular, well-dressed bloke I can find. And I wouldn't say no to Kate Winslet, either.