Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Social Networking Cont.

Do the common people who throw their coins in the fountain, as it were, expect an answer, or is it enough for them to be part of the zeitgeist, with the occasional random chance that Neil Gaiman or Amanda Palmer or someone might respond. Do they want a response from other nobodies?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Facing my Mother's Death

Back in 2007 I posted this:

and she's still here. Turning 85 today. So she's already lived a more than a year beyond the diagnosis. But something's different. She seems ready to die now. And it's hardening/closing faster, leaving her short of breath. I had to go down and clean up her apt. so she could come home from rehab after a small heart attack and small stroke that have left her blind in one eye. There's so much I could write about it, but I'm still processing--what I feel, what I need. They are saying six months now.

We finally had that sort of peace that I was looking for. And now I hate myself for all the wasted years, but I can't do that. They might have been exactly as I feared they would be--all anger and pain. But now I need more time, more time, and that is what we never get.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Childhood's End

I'm cleaning out my mother's apartment. She's not dead yet, but they say it's just a matter of time. And it needs to be clean before she can come out of rehab. My mother is a hoarder. My mother is a hoarder's hoarder. We've carted 2 station wagons worth to the thrift store, and this is a three room apartment. We've barely begun. I found a box of Christmas ornaments from my childhood and sat down and cried.

I'm finding it hard to function--both because it's a daunting task, and because it renders everything so futile. If we will all end up like this then why should we buy anything now. Much talk with my therapist about this. That we buy things to make us happy now--the future is the future and many people (not my mother) start to weed as they get older--finding less and less that objects are important. I am already less of a purchaser and I have never been the hoarder that my mother is. A collector, perhaps, but when things don't fit in shelves, they have to go. Zen teaches the release of all things--that even emotions are fleeting things, certainly objects are.

But added to the simple stress of cleaning an overcrowded apartment, is being face-to-face with the death of my last parent. That I must deal with all the pieces that she has used to get herself through, and that I will suddenly be no one's child. There will be nothing between myself and my own mortality. Not that there ever really is, but we lie to ourselves. My mother is 85. It's hardly a tragedy to die at her age, she is two generations removed from me, but at the same time, it is relatively early in my time with her--when friends parents are young and robust at 60 or 65 now. And I have deliberately kept myself away from her, so what years we had are lost.

My therapist says too that I cannot blame myself for that either--that I did what I needed to do to protect myself, but my guilt and stress, blame and anger does not respond to such intellectual reasoning.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Darkness at Noon

I haven't been here in a while.

Isn't it funny how we describe some of the sites as if they were rooms or places--physical space.

June and July were...hard. It rained almost non-stop in June, and perhaps half the time in July. It's raining today. And I could not outrun my black dogs.

I suffer from depression. I think I've made that pretty clear on here. Most of the time it's just a general sorrow--a little more effort to be happy or functioning. The past two months have been major darkness. An inability to see much good in anything--a hopelessness, a lack of dreams for the future. If you've never been there (another sense of a physical location) then you cannot understand.

Oddly, just before it went dark I went to see one of my favorite bands, The Psychedelic Furs in concert. I'd only waited 25 years for the chance. They were old, of course, but sounded good and the setting was intimate. I had no expectations and thus enjoyed myself very much. The only funny thing was how happy the lead singer seemed to be. He smiled all the time--like he'd discovered Prozac.

Now this is a gloom and doom sort of band. So seeing him smile seemed, discordant. And it related to something on Bones (the show), where the phychiatrist played by Stephen Fry said that no-matter how depressed or nihilistic a dark band seems, somehow they create something--the anti nihilism. They express themselves.

And I've heard other depressed actors talk about their struggles, and my question is--HOW DO THEY DO IT? When I'm depressed I can barely get out of bed. Everything seems pointless. The voices in my head say that I won't get that role, I won't write anything good, etc. And so I do nothing.

How do they channel their darkness--some with drugs both legal and illegal, but my legal drugs make little impact and the illegal will take you down eventually.

Friday, July 10, 2009

South Station

Amidst the craptastic cullinary choices, I watch an Asian gentleman consume an elaborate meal from what appears to be a thermos, but is really a beautifully packaged set of small containers complete with chopsticks. Like all terminuses (termini, locaii?) the range of humanity is broad but shallow. Behind me I hear, "Ich bin jahre. Alles klar." The elegantly dressed, the ethnic, the eccentric. A young woman goes by in an outfit I could have used for the Vietnam play-all tie-dye and patches.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

You know you're listening to too much Psychedelic Furs when...

you write this:

I tried to kill a f*#&ing hour today.
It struggled in my arms

And when I thought I had a grip
I found I held nothing.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I cling to the idea...

...that I am a late bloomer.

Star Trek

The new Star Trek (which is now old) is fantastic and FAN-tastic as well. Friend T who missed the Trekkiedom in all its forms still enjoyed it, and those of us who worshiped Star Trek for 30+ years--well, it kept the essence and was a damn good ride as well.

And the core is Zachary Quinto as Spock. Spock is my favorite character--always has been. I heart Spock, and Quinto seems born to play young Spock (although he is only a few years younger than Nimoy was when he took the role originally). Quinto outside of Spock does not interest me in the least, by the way.

Star Trek succeeds because at its core are a group of great characters, and this movie gave each of them their own space--even if it is not "true" to the original origin stories. I am not so bothered by that. The friendship of Kirk and Spock, Spock's divided nature--all there.

Sometimes I wonder if my fondness for Spock comes from my own feelings of division, but a tiny look at ST fan fiction for all 43 years of its existence shows that many women are drawn to Spock. Is it the House problem? Women want to save the wounded. Kirk doesn't need us, but Spock does? I even do not mind the romance of Spock and Uhura, although it certainly breaks canon--both for the humor it provides, and for the added vulnerability it brings. That Uhura can love the emotionless Spock and he her. Majel Barrett got it when she created Nurse Chapel's long unrequited love for Spock. She was all of us--yearning and hoping.

Seeing the movie has drawn me back to a book I loved as a child--perhaps the first piece of quality fan fiction to come out of the show--Star Trek: The New Voyages. I read it over and over along with Nimoy's I am Not Spock. The stories are personal and sad, and explore emotions in a way that was not always possible in the show, particularly in 1966. By 1976, the year of the book, much more could be described and explored, including, interestingly, a torture story that leaves Kirk shattered.

The first story is about Spock literally divided into two beings, the Vulcan and the human and his realization that neither can exist without the other. Is that true of my division? That I am who I am because of it?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another weekend, another quilt top

I'm having a vote for the title of this one--again from random collected fabrics.
Choices are:

a) Cats in the Crypt
b) At Play in the Boneyard
c) Kitties in the Graveyard

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Novel being creative

I've been creative these last few weekends. There are a lot of reasons--some pharmaceutical, some not.

So I've been crafting. First I made a chatelaine.

Chatelaines were used in the middle ages as a sort of pocket (pockets are a very recent invention). The idea was re-embraced in the Victorian era (of course). Housekeepers would keep them on their belts with useful items. I'd been thinking about making one for a while because of my Steampunk fascination. Then when I found the little scissors pendant I knew I had to.
Mine has scissors, a needle case, a paperclip which is holding a suede envelope with safety pins and straight pins. There's a little metal envelope at the top with a little metal letter in it (I had it and I didn't know what to use it for. Mine can be clipped on or the safety pin can be pinned to the clothes. Mainly I'm keeping it on the end table to sew in front of the tv.
Here's a real one:

Then I made a bag for my new yoga mat. It has a pocket for a towel and for yoga socks. A water bottle can clip on, but it rattles a bit. I made it just the right size, but I should have made the circumference a little bigger so I could just slip the mat in and out more easily. Live and learn.

I made this out of the left overs from the black and white quilt.

Finally I made a quilt top--I don't have backing for it yet, but I do have binding. It's chaotic but I'm trying to learn to embrace the art of chaos. Of not over planning. I call it "A Riot of Dogs (and some cats)." Originally it was going to be dogs and cats, but this is what it wanted to be. There's a little orange cat on one of the prints, but the rest are all dogs.

Basically, I collected any dog and cat fabric that appealed to me for the last few years--fat quarters, regular remnants and quarters. I also collected paw prints and bones prints because I knew I'd have to break up the patterns somehow. The border I did buy a yard of. It has no animals, just dog accessories (sorry the shot is blurry--normally I'm a better photographer).

I had no pattern in mind. Originally I was going to frame individual dogs but the fabrics were too random. Then I was going to box them. In the last few months I'd been taking them out and playing with them to see if anything came to me. I started to notice that some paired up naturally and some could be made to pair up and that's when I decided on the triangles. I cut the triangles at random, I matched them loosely by color and then laid them out in the pinwheels. And it all worked out. Weird but true. Listen to the fabric and it will tell you what it wants to be.

Now I have to finish it--which I hate. And then decide what to do with all the cat pieces.

Personal Pizza (parody)

Your own personal pizza
Something to fill your needs
Something with cheese...

Feeling a jones
And you're all alone
Stomach moan
By the telephone
Lift up the receiver
You know that they deliver

Your own personal pizza
Something to fill your needs
Something with cheese

Reach out and touch dough
Reach out and touch dough
--Novel "Weird Al" West(with apologies to Depeche Mode)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Plan-It Green

There's a game I played recently with the above name. It's a variation on Build-a-Lot where you are a real estate developer. On each level you have different goals-build/upgrade so many houses, reach a certain rental income (unrealistically collected each day), etc. This one, as the title implies, involves making things eco friendly. You add solar panels, water reclamation, etc. Then you track the carbon savings, energy efficiency, etc. Wouldn't that be nice, if developers swept in and improved neighborhoods? But does everyone want an eco garden? Or to bike to work? And of course, in the real world these improvements are competing with many other types of services. It's sad, because this kind of long term planning is ultimately cost efficient, but getting there faces so many obstacles, not the least of which is the human right not to work in our long term best interest.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

More Watchmen

A friend commented on my quickie review that he didn't know why the rest of the team tolerates the Comedian. For that matter, why do they tolerate Rorshach? Psychopaths both. Is the answer that Laurie and Dan are actually more like them than unlike them-that they all need the masks to show their faces? Certainly Dr. Manhattan has lost touch with humanity as has Veidt. Who watches the Watchmen indeed. And their acceptance of Veidt's answer is eerie. Except, of course for Rorshach who has ignored trial by jury and other civil liberties for so long but cannot accept lying.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


We finally went to see it last night. In the same theater-same room even-where we so V for Vendetta. We liked it very much. And as I mentioned, my husband loves the book. I agree with most of the critics. The soundtrack was bold and sometimes too obvious, it's long and slow, and Laurie seemed young-but not unrealistically so. The 80s were a character in a way they couldn't be in the book-the effect of distance, rather like in Ashes to Ashes (bbc show). Rorshach was frighteningly perfect. I thought them all well cast, even Adrian-he's something of a cipher in the book as well.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

While I'm uploading pictures...

This is a doll that I made for my husband. I meant it to be ready at Christmas, and I got everything except the apron done. Then it took me three months to get the apron done. D'Oh. It's the character Schnitzel from Cartoon Network's show Chowder. Schnitzel only says Rada Rada--it translates for everything: (about 5:13).

I put in a sound disc that plays "Rada rada, raaada," when you push on his tummy.

No reason, just amused me to do so.

The greatest day of Guinness' life

When after 11 years, Mephisto let Guinness put his head on Mephisto's butt to sleep. They've slept next to each other over the years, but never quite this.

I love how they almost form a yin-yang. I came downstairs and they were on the couch. Guinness was awake and raised his eyes to me as I reached for the camera in a way that seemed to say, "Don't ruin this for me."

In the end, it was Guinness who moved away first.

You know it's a good concert when... come home with glitter in your shoes.

Spur of the moment, went to see the last night of a local "Rock and Roll Rumble" for Boston bands because a friend was in one of the finalists and Betamo had sent me the video for C*Star earlier (explicit). The new single is much better.
Post glam Bowie inspired--great fun. Turns out the lead singer wanted to be an actor and may have been in stuff with other friends.
The little pack was a freebie. It contains: a sticker, a chapstick with Gene Dante logo, an XL condom, lube and a mint. Guess you're all set with this in your pocket, although I think he was being optimistic about his fans.
Much glam fanservice (for Musing) including coming out at the end with a paper cup that he seemed to be drinking from and just as I turned to scream to whisper to Betamo that if he were really J-Pop he'd throw the water on us (we were about two people back from the stage) he tossed the cup which was full of glitter. Very fun.
Hope the band does well. No word on whether they won. (My friend is the gothic looking guitarist).
I'd never been to this kind of event for local bands--local bands tend to be, for me, like best of anthologies, or comedy nights. Such a mixed bag, that sifting through the dreck for the stuff I like is not worth it. The crowd was fascinating. Most were not young--my age and older, much older. Every t-shirt imaginable, from Bob Dylan to Violet Nine (another local band). From Bettie Page to Homestar Runner. The tattoos and piercings too ran the gamut. I realized it was networking for them. One gentleman had a piece of paper taped to his back--Drummer for hire--with little tabs to tear off. Betamo's friends said that he would probably get some work. Like a theater party for me and my friends. A scene that I have never seen with the same hugs and exclamations and promises to call when something comes up.

Resolved to post more

So much to say, so much to share, and time fugits, as it were. Guinness does have diabetes. Husband sick again. Old friend killed herself. That brought other friend to town and has prompted a strange, good and not entirely in my control meeting up with friends. Work busy and even occasionally busy with things I like doing (design, planning) but still the feeling that I'm rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, as it were.

Have been working out almost regularly as the avatar attests. Both swimming and Pilates. Have been working on managing the weight as well--portion control. Not much weight loss so far, but feel more toned.

Trying to add things in little doses. The tiny steps. One desert skipped today. One more exercise class per week. One piece of trash picked up off the floor. One more friend connected with...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

More difficult texts

One of the interesting side effects about reading books on my phone is that most are part of Project Gutenberg which preserves texts which are out of print, and for the most part, out of copyright, and so I find myself reading things which were published around 1900.

Like The Name of the Rose, I always meant to get back and read G.K. Chesterton and never did. Oh, I read Father Brown, it's short and fairly easy. But not the big stuff, even though most of my heroes (C.S. Lewis, Neil Gaiman) site Chesterton as influence and hero.

And so I found myself reading "The Man Who Was Thursday," (which incidentally explained a variety of references in Neil Gaiman's works). Like TNofTR, it too seems to be a fairly straight forward mystery...and then it goes all pear shaped.

I actually don't have that much to say because I'm still not sure what to make of it. I'd love to hear some thoughts, because I know that some people who read this have read it. It is, in some ways, the anti-thesis to TNofTR, the book that proposes knowledge and reason as a solution to the dark ages, this supposes that religion is a kind of anarchy against the stifling reason of the late 19th century. A liberation and a universe that could only be opened by that first step of faith.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Have you ever seen a picture of Jesus laughing...

Mmm, do you think
He had a beautiful smile?

A smile that healed
-Why Should I Love You, Kate Bush, The Red Shoes

I finally read The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. It seems funny that I hadn't read it before now, but I remember deciding to read Foucault's Pendulum many years ago, and then being so overwhelmed that I put off TNOR.

Part of the hesitation was the existence of the movie. The movie, for various reasons, the cast, the time, was printed on my mind. I don't think that Sean Connery was particularly well cast as William of Baskerville (yes, named for both William of Ockham--he allegedly of Ockham's razor--and Sherlock Holmes) but I don't hate him in the part. He made it his.

From the description in the book I could almost picture James Cromwell in the role, but at the time the movie came out, Cromwell was best known for playing the nerd dad in Revenge of the Nerds, so probably wasn't a prime contender. F. Murry Abraham was delightfully well cast, particularly bringing the memory of his Salieri to it. He plays obsessives well.

What is certainly missing from the movie is Ecco's remarkable knowledge and description of the religious/political turmoil of the time and what it meant for the everyday souls.

As Wikipedia puts it:

The Name of the Rose, a novel by Umberto Eco, is a historical
— a murder mystery set in an Italian monastery in
the year 1327. It is an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical
analysis, medieval studies and literary theory.

I didn't annotate it because it was my husbands, and I read it now, over a month ago so much I would like to point out is lost (fitting, perhaps for a post-modern novel and Eco's general points about memory and reality).

One of the central thoughts, and what prompted my use of the Kate Bush lyric above is the possible existence of Aristotle's Comedy. A work that has never been found and which forms the core of the mystery--the killing of people to prevent anyone from reading it.

The curious position of the church on knowledge is described well in the monastery's purpose--which is to copy manuscripts, but also their mission which is to hide those manuscripts which might conflict with church doctrine. One character says that the perfect illuminator would be the one who could not read, but only copies the letters--preserving the object, but ignoring the content.

And comedy, they believe, is a sin--a leading away from God, because if we can laugh at all things, we can laugh at authority--up to God himself. Jesus did not laugh, the blind librarian Jorge cries.

What is truth without context, but doesn't context shape the truth? An easier read than Foucault's Pendulum, it is still as intricate, and dare I say it, labyrinthine?


In the first part of the month, Mephisto was in the hospital, and will be on $125/month medicine for the rest of his life. Now Guinness may have diabetes with all that that entails.

Took the car in for its 30,000 mile check up--good to do, but damn expensive, and the rich wonder why the poor don't invest in maintenance.

All in all, an expensive month--husband's bonus and tax returns all taken up. And what do I cut so that I can save more to get to that mythical nest egg?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The old stuff and junk

I can't seem to get back into posting every day. First husband was sick, then cat was sick, now I'm sick. Work continues to be less than fulfilling. I have actually been somewhat productive in other ways. I've been only touching Facebook.

I made this:
It's a wall hanging for my b&w and yellow bathroom. I call it "Time in the Labyrinth." I've been collecting the scraps for years although I had to supplement with purchased fabric. The stripe at A5 and C3 came from a sink skirt in our house in western MA. The little checkerboard from a border on another wall hanging. The patterns at C6 and F3 from that purse from last year. I picture it as a sort of game. One can follow the patterns or the dark appliqued path (which is shorter but has more obstacles). One would move one or two spaces using either a coin, button, or perhaps an Othello piece.

I also made a new coat, but I have some finishing to do on it, so hopefully will have a picture tomorrow.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Social Networking, What is it For

The fastest growing group on Facebook is Gen X--those 35 to 45 finding high school friends. Twittering has become a subject of conversation as Karl Rove begins Twittering and senators were seen frantically texting as the President entered for his address.

I'm on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and I blog. I also have a MySpace page, but I never really enjoyed MySpace. If you weren't promoting music there didn't seem to be much point to being there. The apps were hard to find and use (to me) and finding friends harder. I keep the page only because I'm following some celebrities there. Most of them are also on Facebook, so eventually I won't need the MySpace page. Facebook is terribly user friendly--it recommends friends, organizations, fandoms for you to join. Your friends tiny updates are brought directly to you as are the updates of the celebrities you follow. It's not terribly customizable, but other than that, apps are painless. Virtually point and click.

Twitter is new. To tell the truth I only joined Twitter because the app. is easier on my G1 than the Facebook app. I can link them through those fun apps and updates on one go on the other. The only problem is that Facebook always has one's name, as in "Novel is..." You can change the verb, but not the name. Twitter can be anything one wants. People write Haikus, other poetry, whole stories--140 characters at a time. There are contests for the best 140 character stories. Or stories that are serialized in these one or two sentences. And that's characters, not words or letters. Double spacing is a waste.

The mad pundits say that Twitter and Facebook will replace blogging, and it may, but I think people will still want the longer form. Many people use Twitter to update people on their blogs. As in Novel just posted a new blog. Then a link. And conveniently, one can make the link short to not use up those valuable 140 characters. I follow famous funny people and a few friends. Some people follow thousands of people, or drop in and out of conversations. This flowing stream of thoughts, ideas, trivia, mundanity. Some posts are just hilarious--Neil Gaiman always writes funny little thoughts. Most people post links to other things. And then the hope is to be "re-twittered," have people link to your Tweets.

One can agonize about the "right" way to use these new mediums (or to use them at all, of course) but there is no "right" way. It's being learned and developed each step of the way. Since I use my real name there, connecting with old friends has been ... strange and sometimes deeply enhancing. I have found people who were my best friends in elementary school. Who moved away and lost touch. I have become closer to peple with whom I was only casually aquainted. Of course, I have also been friended by people with whom I was barely friends, some I actively disliked. At first, as people generally do, I accepted every friending. But around Christmas I started unfriending people and ignoring requests from some people. Someone described it as a form of class reunion. The hearty, "Wow, how are you, you look great, what have you been up to..." followed by a, "I'm going to the bar now," or "Hey, I need to go say hi to so and so..." One is "friended" but that doesn't mean that one cares. Even worse is the friending by people one does not remember at all. The name sounds familiar and one peers at the tiny picture that one is given trying to de-age them 20, 25 years and guess who they might have been.

One friend posts cryptic messages like this, "Jason is apropos of nothing." What's funny is things for which I expect comments seldom get them, and other throw away things will get many. Most of my college friends are professors, no surprise, and nearly all friends from childhood and college have children. My high school boyfriend, who is not on Facebook, but a mutual friend is, is married with several children and is a doting father. When I heard that I was reminded of The Airborne Toxic Event lyric, "They tell me that/you're married now/well, my dear, I fear/I cannhot understand how." It seems so alien to the person I knew, but 20 years change us all.

I did not have children. I did not become a professor and I did not go to New York to act. As in most things, I veer between depression at my life choices, brought home by others actions, and the enrichment at refinding friends. It is a study, for anyone who wants to, of how we do and do not become the people we meant to be, or thought we would be. How life changes and disrupts the best laid plans, for better and worse. The thing that can never be explained to one at 18 or 20. Some people are divorced, but less than one might think.

Of course, just like a class reunion, one is hardly going to go on and say, "My marriage collapsed in a bitter divorce, I'm living paycheck to paycheck and I don't know what to do." We boost our elevator speech, and gloss over bits and we know that others are doing it too.

Speaking of elevator speeches, Linked In is the serious cousin. The one where you don't post pictures of oneself at parties with a drink in hand. You post your resume and list work accomplishments, and try to connect with as many people as possible in the "networking" sense.

If you Yahoo my name, my Linked In comes up first. Which is a good thing. The weird thing about Linked In for me right now, is trying to use it to find a job while not alerting my current employers (who are on Linked In).

So what does all of this mean--what does it add up too. Too much distraction, too much information. Well, you can always walk away for a short time. Some people join and then don't seem to check back in for months. Others seem to spend every minute finding friends and sending apps. I probably fall somewher in the middle. One Monday morning I sTwittered that I hadn't Twittered all weekend and the world hadn't ended. And a friend wrote back, "how do you know?
For instance, I can let you know that I am at the animal hospital right now with my cat. It is possible that I will get. Instantaneous messages about that. Again, though, what is it for. To be continued...

The Fine Art of the Western

The western as genre is generally a film style that you either love or loathe, and I really only gained an appreciation for westerns in film class. One must submerge/submit oneself to the archetypes presented.

My husband has little patience for them--they are stories to be watched at that is all. We ended up watching two relatively close to each other.

The first, the remake of 3:10 to Yuma was fairly straightforward--most interesting for the fine acting of the two leads who, of course, are not American. And the Western is American, although the best of them borrow from other myths as archetypes are archetypes for a reason.

The second was The Assassination of Jesse James... I can't say that I liked it. In most good westerns the landscape--the west--is a character, as real and as important as any human as cities are in the stories I mentioned below. I say West, but of course, Jesse James was from my childhood home--KC, MO area. Like a student film, we watched long shots of waving prairie grass, rolling hills, and... I didn't care. The first half of the film is unbearably boring and the last is rushed.

But what is the fascination with the Western? With cowboys and outlaws, gunslingers? Is it the appeal of the outlaw with the heart of gold? That men want to be him and women want to be with him? Or vice-a-versa as the case may be. That idea that in order to survive in an unjust world, these noble men must break the law. It was certainly enough for Joss Whedon to create his space western--Firefly. Is it part of the appeal of House? Or vampires. The new vampires, not Nosferatu, all hunger and id, but the erotic vampires of Ann Rice and Twilight who suffer torment over what they must do, and in the end are always alone.

The truth is that none of these men are actually what they seem. In reality one would not want to date a man like House, a cowboy or a vampire. Their needs, their emptiness, would be torturous and would override all else. Yet they are larger than the men in reality. Their very damage is what makes us admire them more than the average schlubs we encounter daily. John Wayne's obsession in The Searchers seems admirable. In reality we would wonder why.

Back atcha to Matt

Here's a great site that my husband found while looking for fonts--I've gotten so much from it already--worth it if only for the monthly calendar wallpapers:

What it started

I've mentioned elsewhere that I love fantastic fiction--think it the most important genre. All the same, I usually don't read just fantastic fiction. I read a lot of styles, but lately I've found myself only wanting to pick up fantastic fiction.

I zoomed through Last Watch, the 4th book in the Day Watch/Night Watch/Twilight Watch series from Russia that finally made it to America (or to Barnes and Noble) 8 months late. It was fun--not as cataclysmic as the first three, and certainly not the last book in the series, despite the title, which is a relief.

I read The Haunted Hotel by Wilke Collins on my phone. It isn't really fantastic fiction, despite it's title, and it was something of a disappointment, being merely a melodrama with standard elements of the period, and none of the skill of The Moonstone or even The Woman in White.

Then I picked up Cities, an anthology of four stories that I had bought for my husband for Christmas, only to find out that he had already read all four stories in other collections. He and I have mixed feelings on anthologies--we never agree on the editors selections. They are by their very nature uneven.

This one was unusually in that the stories are by four of his favorite authors--two who are also favorites of mine. The theme too, cities, was a theme that I find fascinating.

The first story was by Paul Di Fillippo, A Year in the Linear City. I have mixed feelings on Di Fillippo. Sometimes he's brilliant, other times I think it's too much, like Terry Pratchet or Ben Elton. The ideas are always incredible though. This was no exception. The concept was a city made up of millions of city blocks in a long thin line, one block wide. streets on either side and cross streets every block. On one side are the tracks and beyond them, "The Wrong Side of the Tracks" where the Yardbulls live. On the other side is the river with barges and boats and beyond that the "Other Shore" where the Fishwives live. When one dies in this world one or the other, the angelic (but sea smelling) Fishwives or the demonic batwinged Yardbulls and no one knows which it will be. They take one--body and all--off to their realms. In the story a junky on a stained mattress is taken by the "angels" and a basketball player turned mayor is taken by the "demons" so who can say.

The city goes on forever--no one knows how far--dialects and customs change as if the distant boroughs were other countries. Subways exist in this world, but phones don't, and beneath it all are scales which, if pulled up will leave bloody wounds in the world behind.

Our protagonist is a writer of "Cosmogonic" fiction. And here is the really interesting part of the story--beyond the startling concept--it is an examination of writing, and particularly the writing of fantastic fiction! The protagonist is constantly imagining "What ifs." What if there were worlds on globes. What if there were machines that let you talk to distant places. What if there were no Fishwives and Yardbulls--what would the inhabitants of that world think of the afterlife. Take that to all who ask writers where they get their ideas. It is not the getting of ideas, but rather the developing of them--the ideas are all around ifone simply looks with a different eye. Like here, cosmogonic fiction is considered less important, but it makes the most money. "Quotidian" fiction is the respected genre (his word, not mine, which is part of my problem with the story.)

The second story is by China Mieville who seems to only write about cities--cities as great, dangerous living things. This time he is in London, not his alternate world, but a London where the beasts have escaped the mirrors and nearly destroyed the humans. And all that the last humans can do is surrender...that's where it ends.

The last story is by one of my favorites (as is Mieville), Geoff Ryman. I am bothered by its inclusion though because it is not a story about cities--unless it is merely the soullessness of life that we are racing towards. It's protagonist is my generation X, or perhaps the one after, Y, grown old and shut in Homes by our children and grand-children, but we are computer savvy. We can still hack and monitor and do all the online things we do--they monitor the keystrokes. And a band of old people with computer skills are hijacking the personal protection systems so they attack the people they're supposed to protect. Age Rage. And age know-how. Because the person behind it is lost in Alzheimers, only before it took him he programmed his systems to control him and take him out to do the jobs--to strike back. Woah!

But for a story on cities, it would have been better to use Ryman's own 253--the story of the 253 riders on a subway train that's about to crash--each story, one page each, 253 words long. Long before Twitter's limitation of 140 characters.

The fourth story is by Michael Moorcock, and I haven't read anything by him, and I couldn't read this--it was an alternate world, a post Bush world of consumerism as religion. Patriotism as a product to be purchased. That's about as far as I got. It seemed like an interesting concept but I just could seem to follow.

Watchmen continued

When I titled that last post Watchmen started it, I was referring to a small streak in my life of reading fantastic fiction as well as starting the whole graphic novel thing (a listing of how the issues were stopped at one publisher and then continued at another is too long to go into and I'm not enough of a fangirl to tell it). One thing that did strike me on re-reading Watchmen (I first read it when I met my husband some 20 years ago--sweet singing Jesus I feel old) was the remarkable panel to panel work. Some people say that they can't read comics--they just can't adjust to the style of storytelling in the same way that some people say that can't watch sub-titled films. I will admit to having sometimes had difficulty with certain artists--Bill Sienkiewicz comes to mind. Other comic artists are extraordinary (so is Sienkiewicz, just sometimes distracting from the text) with work that could hang in museums--Jon Muth, John Bolton and the brilliant Alex Ross (who did the Obama as Superman shirt). As you can see, I'm more of a hyper-realist fan.

But to really be a comic fan, one should really be able to appreciate the way story telling in a comic is not just a story with pictures, but an integral part of the story--like the frames of a film.

The artist for Watchmen, Dave Gibbons, has given his stamp of approval to the film which is high praise, I think.

Alan Moore will never approve anything for a variety of reasons. I'm not going to touch that here.

Watchmen starts it all

Unless you've been living under a rock, or Tivo/DVR all of your viewing, you are probably aware that there is a Superhero movie coming out next week called Watchmen and you may even be aware that all the fan boys (and even some fan girls) worship this Graphic Novel (originally issues) as nearly the sui generis of graphic novels, written by the truly eccentric and prickly (literally and figuratively) Alan Moore of V for Vendetta, From Hell, and others.

I remember talking to a co-worker about V for Vendetta and saying that while my husband and I liked the movie and didn't mind the changes, the graphic novel was darker, and the friend gaping at me as if I had spoken in Aramaic--how could it be darker.

The fear is, of course, that Watchmen will not be dark enough, and my own personal fear that if it is dark enough, it will not be what most of the audience is expecting. As in this early review (it's out in Britain):
He seems angry that they aren't really "Super" for super heroes. Well, neither are Batman and Iron Man if you mean super powers and not just really good toys, lots of money and brains. What the 80's brought in comics was a realization that it was much more interesting to study the superheroes rather than just their crimes. In a way this reflected the general trend in "escapist" entertainment. Hill Street Blues was much more about the tensions in the police HQ than the crimes, and the particular tensions of being a cop were what made the show great.

Likewise, the study of the particular tensions of costumed super heroeness has become rich ground. Even Superman gets angst these days.

This reviewer seems to get it (warning--major spoilers):

What happens when you are not needed? What happens when you become a God? Are costumed heroes really just sadistic vigilantes? Are they any better than mercenaries?

Moore's deep cynicism is part and parcel of Watchmen, and I'm not sure that an audience that likes it's comic book adaptions to have a romance a la Peter Parker and MJ, and a happy ending is ready for him. Certainly V for Vendetta suffered from that, but had Natalie Portman's star power. Watchmen, with the exception of Billy Crudup (who spends much of the movie as voice talent to a CGI version) this seems populated with B-listers.

Likewise, dark as Nolan's Batman films have been, the love story and to a certain extent the surrogate fathers of Alfred and Morgan Freeman's Lucius Fox give a sweet anchor to the fact that Bats and the Joker are much more alike than unalike. Here the villains are awfully close to the heroes or vice-a-versa--and that is much more like real life.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Imaginary Band

I loved this so much in Facebook that I had to bring it over here.

And these really were exactly following the directions--I did crop and rotate the picture. Also, tip--have the sense to download the actual picture and not the thumbnail. Will definitely make your picture better, LOL.

I wonder what kind of sound they have? I'm thinking either intelligent thrash metal or Slavik angst.

CREATE YOUR BAND NAME & ALBUM COVER:To Do This:1 - Go to Wikipedia. Hit “random”or click first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to Quotations Page and select "random quotations"or click last four or five words of the very last quote on the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to Flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”or click picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 - Use Photoshop or similar to put it all together.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Top Albums

I got tagged for this on Facebook and I didn't know how to respond. It's supposed to be the albums that mean the most to you, but many people are listing albums which are considered great albums. And I like great albums--I'm not one of those singles only kind of people--but in terms of my top albums I came up at sort of a loss. I didn't spend my money on music in my teenage years and so the list is limited to my favorite artists. So I decided I needed to explain my choices.

1. The Wizard of Oz, original movie soundtrack. What can I say. This movie/album was the end all, be all for me, up to about 7. I had all the books, the play sets, the dolls, I even saw Margaret Hamilton in one of her last performances as the Witch. I wore down the grooves (isn't it nice that that is a thing of the past?).

2. At 8 it was replaced with Camelot (original Broadway recording). It was just the perfect show for me. I read The Once and Future King and The Mists of Avalon and any other Arthurian stuff I could access, good and bad. I still think Alan Jay Lerner was the best lyricist of all time. I read his autobiography, checked out again and again from the library (and still kick myself that I didn't pick it up years later in a bookstore in New York). I loved it's blend of dark and light. Also bubbling under were My Fair Lady and Oliver! which taught me cockney (or the movies version of it). Somewhere in there I also found Cabaret and learned that as well, and Kismet.

3. I didn't listen to rock and roll until I was 12 because my parents didn't listen to it. We listened to Big Bands and Standards and some opera and show tunes. And then at 12 I discovered Duran Duran. But here it gets fuzzy. The album out at that time would have been Duran Duran (original--reissue) with Is There Something I Should Know in constant rotation on both the radio and MTV (when I could view it at friend's houses) and boy, did I love that video, but I also loved Save a Prayer from Rio (although bizarrely missed hearing Rio, the song, for at least six months).

4. And at the same time that I saw Duran Duran's posters in record stores I saw David Bowie for Let's Dance, but I didn't get the cassette until a few years later when a friend gave me hers. And I distinctly remember another friend's older sister playing Young Americans, the 45 for us at some point. Mixed in to that I caught some run of old Bowie videos on Friday Night Videos or some other show. After seeing Ashes to Ashes and Boys Keep Swinging, I was hooked. So is it Let's Dance, Heroes, Scary Monsters, Station to Station? I love Hunky Dory now. But I never owned these albums (they belong to my husband).

5. This same friend's sister played us all of Hounds of Love by Kate Bush when she bought it and I was hooked. I saved up and bought cassettes of every one of Kate's albums to that point because Kate answered something in me. To paraphrase Emily Dickinson, I felt as if the top of my head would come off. I now know that HOL is actually Kate lite, so I would say that it's a tie with The Dreaming. Suspended in 'Gaffa's lines, "Am I doing right, can I have it all now" seem to sum me up so often.

6. Can you remember the first time you saw "Sweet Dreams"? Annie Lennox. I wanted her, or I wanted to be her. The voice, the beauty, the bravery. Saved up, bought Sweet Dreams. Played it over and over.

7. Then too, Savage got me through some high school times--Annie's pain, my pain, Annie's experience, my desire for life.

8. I've mentioned in other posts how Don't You Want Me? by The Human League was one of the first New Wave songs I ever heard and probably one of the first rock and roll songs, but it would be more than 10 years before I heard Dare, the album all the way through. There were numerous bands that I heard then, who's CD's I now own (or downloads), but I couldn't buy them then. I did own Pretty in Pink (soundtrack). It seemed to validate the music that I was listening to.

9. And it got me into the Psychedelic Furs. I found Mirror Moves in a discount bin in a convenience store in Muncie, IN. Years later Should God Forget, the Psychedelic Furs retrospective (double album) would help get me through the worst time in my life.

10. Music for the Masses (Depeche Mode) and 11. Strip-Mine (James). This was the soundtrack to my high school romance. I only got the actual CD's for both of them. I tapped them off of my high school boyfriend and when I went away I stopped listening to them. I missed Strip-Mine the most.

12. Big Thing (Duran Duran). Seven and the Ragged Tiger was not that good--too overproduced and then there was the hiatus and Notorious, while interesting and gritty is still too much Nile Rogers. I think it's on Big Thing that they really matured as a band (by which point no one cared). I listened to Big Thing over and over during Christmas break of my senior year, writing college essays (which were all due on Dec. 31) and an essay for a competition on Atlas Shrugged. Even now, passages of the album will make me think of passages in the book.

13. A Little Night Music (original Broadway album). I don't know why, this one of all Sondheim, maybe the connection to the Bergman film. Maybe just a memory.

14. Gone to Earth (David Sylvian). I remember seeing David's picture in Star Hits at some point, and while I didn't develop a crush on him I thought him so beautiful--almost too beautiful. I know I heard about Gone to Earth at some point, borrowed it from a friend in college, and then played my then boyfriend/now husband's copy over and over. What I've needed from David's lyrics have changed over the years but there's always something there.

15. And the list wouldn't be complete without L'Arc~en~Ciel, my mid-life crisis crush. But the crush is over and the music remains. When I first heard L'Arc, I felt as I did when I first heard Duran or Bowie. That this was necessary. But because I was downloading, and downloading in the twilight of their career, I got a few random songs, and a few more and then whole albums and pretty much the whole discography together. Tierra and Awake remain my favorite albums. And Hyde's own Roentgen deserves a mention, but I cannot say which of those is the most valued.

And just to round it out, another list for which I have not been tagged, but began thinking about anyway:

Songs I could not do without:

1. Forbidden Colours, instrumental--Sakamoto)
2. Forbidden Colours, vocal--Sylvian)
3. Kasou-L'Arc
4. Grey Lady of the Sea--Duran Duran
5. Gymnopedies--Erik Satie
6. Claire de Lune--Debussy
7. Suo Gan--Empire of the Sun soundtrack
8. Suspended in Gaffa--Kate Bush
9. I Love You Goodbye--Thomas Dolby
10. A Drop of Colour--Hyde

I have not been the kind of person who makes mixes--I stress too much about the order, but with my lovely random feature on my mp3 I can pick the songs and let the player order them differently each time. I recently made a big list of "Happiness Songs"--those which make me smile when they begin, even though they may not actually be happy songs (I must be the only person in the world who smiles when they hear Disappointed by PIL or How Soon is Now sung by Richard Butler (Morrissey cover). I then made another list called "Sweeter than Happy" because these songs make me a little sad, but happy in my sadness. All of the above are on there.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

1st Crown

So I finally got the crown on Friday--quick and painless. Seems to fit well--so well that the dentist had trouble removing it after testing it to put on the cement.

Even with the length of the process (pretty much a month) I still prefer it to a breast exam. I'm not kidding.

The tooth is smoother and rounder than my other teeth and I find myself worrying it with my tongue--though not as much as I did the temporary which felt like a lump of cold hot glue gun glue and tasted a bit like my fake vampire fangs. It also seems strangely the wrong temperature, but I can't quite decide if it is colder or warmer. It feels like a slightly misshapen marble in my mouth.

I am sad that my old tooth had to be filed down--like I've lost something important--no going back now. As though I have taken my first steps toward becoming a Cyborg.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Speaking of why I need to change jobs

On Wednesday my boss put me in a terrible position with our PR firm. I won't go into the details, but I had to rant for nearly an hour before I could call him back. And he, of course, felt that everything was fine. We are all miserable, and stressed and he thinks that's our problem not his.

That night I had a dream that wandered a bit, but eventually I ended up in a room in a museum filled with cases of live snakes, tarantulas, scorpions, beetles, etc. Creepy, crawly, you name it. And I knew in the dream that a friend was in the next room working on this exhibit. I was extremely freaked out, even though I don't have pronounced phobias about any of these things, just normal unease. The floor was sand and I found myself scooting, crawling out of the room, calling to my friend that I couldn't stay in there. There was a sudden sharp pain in my hand and I looked down to see a beetle biting me--a beetle about as large as my hand with half inch pincers. It was very painful and I screamed "Help me," and woke up as I was screaming. I was so skittish that the sight of my husbands sleep mask with it's elastic straps made me shudder.

Rolling over and picking up my fabulous phone I looked up beetles in dreams:

To see a beetle in your dream, indicates that some destructive influences
may be at work in your waking life. You may also feel that your values and
beliefs are being compromised.

And this:

The snake may also refer to a person around you who is callous, ruthless, and
can't be trusted.

I need to get out of my job.

A couple of weeks ago I dreamt that I was lost in familiar surroundings and I lost a whole day trying to get to where I was going, missing work. The dream was so vivid that I was relieved when I finally woke to realize that that was not my life. And I can usually practice lucid dreaming and take myself out of things.

Pre-decisions to be made

I went on a job interview on Friday. This should be a good thing as I must, must, must get away from my current job, but it's not the ideal job for me.

Basically I would be a wholesaler for a home health aide company. I would dine and schmooze people who could/would refer patients to this home company. But here's the thing. I hate schmoozing. I hate making phone calls. I barely call my friends. I can be that person--act like that person--that extroverted person, but it's only an act, and I find it tiring--Novel as people person. I do it for interviews, auditions, etc. I think I do it pretty well, but it's not who I am. The friend who recommended me thought that I was a people person.

But, the boss was sane and pleasant and quiet and calm, and committed to working together and helping grow the business, and focused and intelligent. I'd be working with an old friend (who called me in for it) and I wouldn't even have to work in the office as long as the numbers were there--the incoming calls. Beat my goal and I'd get a bonus. The friend and I worked for a boss like the one I have now, and she assures me that six months into this job this boss is exactly as calm and pleasant as he seems.

All of this is pre-decision. He's going to come back with what he could pay and then I'll have a second interview where I'll play that person--the one who can schmooze and soft sell with the best of 'em. It might not be enough money to make it worthwhile. He might not like my technique--I might not be able to fake it as well as he wants. So it could all be moot.

I remember speaking with a woman who was a coach for a company and we discussed being introverted/extroverted. She said that before she took that job she was an introvert on Myers-Briggs (or one of the personality tests) and after having the job for a while the numbers changed and she was more extroverted. Perhaps it would force me to become that more extroverted person, take me out of myself. Fake it until it become real. And I would have a script. The boss would work with me and we would make it work...

Again--this is a pre-thought. I have three friends who might be good for this job, but none of them live in Boston, and two of them do not like to drive in Boston (well, who does) and this job would require it. I wouldn't enjoy that piece much either, but it wouldn't often be at rush hour. I'd get to dine well. I'd be reimbursed.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Invisible Monsters (actually about my phone)

I just read "Invisible Monsters" by Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club. It wasn't that good--the central premise seemed ripped from "Infinite Jest" by the late, lamented David Foster Wallace, the beauty disfigured. Even the drag queens and the parents who had more pride in being parents of a dead gay son than they ever had for the son, seemed to just be one of the threads in IJ. We've been here, done this. And the split identity of narrator/narrated was done much better in Fight Club.

The only reason I'm really writing about this is because it is the first book that I read on my phone. Yes, on my phone. Essentially one paragraph at a time, but it's a fairly short book. I'm currently reading Japanese Fairy Tales. These are great because I can read a few at a time.

My phone, the G1, is like the iPhone and has many of the same apps that you see on the commercials. One of the best is Shazam which allows you to hold your phone up to "hear" a song in public or on the radio--it listens and then analyzes--about 20 seconds and then it identifies the song, artist and album and links you to YouTube or Amazon or the artist's My Space page. I am boggled by the algorithms that this must take--because it's almost never stumped. It can't do classical (which would be difficult as there are so many recordings of the same pieces) and it doesn't do well with old standards, but it DID identify Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby singing Christmas songs (I was testing it's limits).

And then it has absurd apps. like the light sabre (with sound when you swing the phone), a steamy window you can write on and a Tricorder (Next Gen).

PLUS--better than the iPhone it has a hard keyboard so you don't have to deal with the tiny touch buttons. I can update Facebook, Twitter and my blog from the phone, plus surf the web and check my email.

In a very short time, our phone will become our only device. All it needs is a projection screen and projection keyboard, or perhaps just the movie eye-set or the predicted tv contacts.

The future is here.

25 Things + 5

In case you are not on Facebook and have not otherwise heard, 25 Things is the newest, greatest sociological thing, ever. So I'm reprinting mine here, but I realized that I had two #19's (there is no number 6) so I decided to go on to 30.

1. I own and wear some clothes that I've had since I was 13 including shoes and jewelry.
2. I gain weight first in my hips and thighs and lose it first in my shoulders and chest--always have.
3. I have trouble wearing fitted clothes for any length of time including hose--always have--it makes me feel claustrophobic so I've always favored baggy clothing (this may have contributed to number 1).
4. I have been known to eat and enjoy raw oatmeal including the instant kind in the little envelopes, uncooked batter of almost any kind (pancakes, bread), powdered drink mix as candy, orange peels and lemon wedges with sugar (peel and all). I have even eaten raw spaghetti, but I can't recommend it.
5. I've only begun to enjoy mustard as a flavoring in the last few years.
6. I still can't stand any kind of tomatoes or melons although I like most other fruits and vegetables, except squash and okra.
7. I have only really dated two men in my life and I married the second.
8. I had no intention of marrying the first man I fell in love with in college, but sometimes life trumps common wisdom.
9. I am allergic to wool and find acrylic and polyester uncomfortable, although I don't mind the new micro-fibers. If I could, I would spend the rest of my life in silk, rayon and cotton.
10. I still wonder sometimes what would have happened if I'd taken the scholarship and gone to Scripps in CA. I would have married someone else (or not married) and everything would be different.
11. I also wonder if we should have had a child--that it would have forced us to grow up--and then I hear some three year old screaming just because they can and think--nope.
12. The death of my first dog in 1998 was one of the top five most devastating things to ever happen to me. I can't imagine losing a child, also part of #11.
13. I still miss talking to my Dad who died in 1997 (that would also be in the top five).
14. I have difficulty parting with inanimate objects that I've loved and which have gotten me through rough times--I tend to apologize to them and try to find them new homes or new uses. But I am not one of those people who name inanimate objects like cars. I apologized to my old Golf when I traded it in. I think this is part of why I'm glad I've only dated two people and had two cars.
15. I read voraciously and eclectically, but I am quite dismissive of poor writing. I have no hesitation in skipping to the end of books if the writing is crap (I'm talking to you Dan Brown) or tossing them aside, but I will pick up almost any book that sounds interesting from a free table. Then I try to pass them along.
16. I think that speculative fiction is the most important genre as it tells us about where we have been, where we are AND where we are going--unfortunately there are even more crap writers in this genre than any other, except maybe mystery.
17. I am completely addicted to my G1 phone--I use it as an alarm clock, play with it before I get out of bed and check for new apps. at least twice a day. Sometimes I just like to hold it.
18. Sometimes I think of all the things that I'd like to do and could do when I wake up and end up not managing to choose anything to begin.
19. When I do start working I am extremely efficient.
20. I enjoy playing with programs instead of taking lessons--but then become frustrated that there's so much that I don't know. I also like taking things apart but only if I'm certain I can get them back together again.
21. Because my husband and I are fairly non-sentimental, I like to make up absurd terms of endearment for him like Puck-Wudgie. It used to annoy him, but I think he likes it now.
22. We both make up absurd names for our pets and change the lyrics of songs to fit them.
23. I think con-artist is the only crime that should absolutely get the death penalty.
24. I instantly distrust arrogant people and narcissists. I think it is a front for insecurity. (Says the woman typing 25 things about herself.) This is somewhat difficult in theater and may be why I'm not doing much of it.
25. I believe more in nurture than nature--say 90/10 or maybe 85/15.
26. I am in favor of less friends, but better relationships.
27. I'm not much of a drinker. I like drinks that taste like desserts primarily, and even then 1 will pretty much do me.
28. I've begun to drink more in this job--which means one drink two or three times a week as opposed to one drink a month.
29. My irises have been getting steadily lighter in color since my mid-20's.
30. I stalked my husband for a month before I got up the nerve to talk to him.

Wednesday Nights--Television

Last week I noticed that tonight's television line up is:

Life, Lost, Lie to Me, Life on Mars and Law and Order

Brought to you by the letter L (or Quaker) evidently.

Then I went into my DVR over the weekend and noticed that I had two shows back to back:

Trust Me
Lie to Me


But seriously, I need to cut out some shows. If I didn't have DVR it wouldn't be so bad--I'd have to choose one to watch and that would be it, but now I can watch double the shows! I've lost Eli Stone and Crusoe, of course, but this is what I'm watching (parenthesis for what I'm taping):
Monday-House, 24, Medium (Trust Me)
Tuesday-Fringe, Law & Order: SVU
Wednesday-Life, L&O (Lost, Lie to Me, Life on Mars)
Thursday-Bones, CSI, 11th Hour

And now on Friday we have Dollhouse coming up. My husband is actually being very frugal--House, Medium, L&O:SVU, L&O, Life, Bones, CSI with occasional foray's into Lie to Me, Life on Mars and 11th Hour. Oh, and ER's pulling out the stops for the last season, so we're kind of watching that.

And to tell the truth, we haven't really fallen for Trust Me or Lie to Me yet. We're mainly watching for the cast and that may not be enough.

I'll report back.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Fun web things

Found this great site that lets you make simple tiles for backgrounds--as you can see, I've added it here. I'm thinking I need to jazz up my site.

Fun thing a friend sent me

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Of Pine Needles and other infinite things

So I cleaned this weekend--really, really cleaned instead of just straightening and part of cleaning required vacuuming and dustbusting pine needles as well as dust bunnies. Now, the dust bunnies are self-replicating, of course, and will come back, but as far as I know, pine needles are not and yet, no matter how carefully I clean at some point in say, July, I shall pull out a book that was nowhere near the Christmas Tree and scatter a few sad pine needles on the floor.

While decorating for Christmas a sad piece of tinsel ended up on the floor.

We've never put tinsel on our tree.

So, despite having moved my husband's families ornaments into different boxes over the years, this remnant of his childhood had clung on waiting to fall in this apartment.

On our second Christmas together I gave my husband tree shaped confetti in his card. Periodically a tiny tree will appear in the bottom of a drawer. 18 years old and opened in another person's house, with two moves in between.

You Know What I Hate?

Mr. Smith: I move my finger one inch to use my turn signal. Why are these a$$holes so lazy they can't move their finger one f#@!ing measly inch to drive more safely? You wanna know why? DQ: Not particularly. Mr. Smith: Because these rich bastards have to be callous and inconsiderate in the first place to make all that money, so when they get on the road, they can't help themselves. They've gotta be callous and inconsiderate drivers too. It's in their nature.
--Shoot 'Em Up

Why, oh, why does no one use their turn signal? It helps them as much as us--lets us know what you are doing so we can accommodate it. Of course, it is seen as a sign of weakness in Boston--and people will take advantage of the fact that you are signalling your intentions to thwart you.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

On God Bless America

On reflection I DO understand God Bless America. God Bless the concepts and principles of this nation. But God Bless all people everywhere.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Why I Voted for Barack Obama

This essay was originally going to be called “Why I’m Voting for Barack Obama” and I was going to post it a few days before the election. But then I got superstitious and decided not to jinx him and I wanted to finish reading Dreams From My Father—which I did, on election eve.

And then, once he’d won, I wanted to read The Audacity of Hope before I finished it, and so things I wanted to say played in and out of my mind for the next two months. Hopefully I’ll get to the point I’m trying to make before he takes office tomorrow. This is what I wrote a few months ago. I thought I would change it, but I still like it even if I’ve added more:

Do I think he’s the absolute best candidate for president ever? No.
I’m not sure what that person would look like.
But I think he is certainly the best running now.

A friend asked me recently if I liked him. Yes, I like him. I like him more and more as we approach the election. I like his calm, his grasp of rhetoric, his intelligence after eight years of a man who seemed at times barely functionally literate. I like his smile and his graciousness. And, as a multi-racial, Ivy-League educated, naturalized American, I like his back story because it relates to me. And that is the point, I think, that we do vote for whom we relate to, to a large extent. It is not a valid reason for Hockey Moms to vote for Palin even though they may be pro-choice themselves, or anti-gun, and it’s not enough of a reason for me to vote for him either. But there is a great deal more to my decision and it does start here, in my understanding of where he is coming from, because I have often faced the same questions.

I am reading his book, Dreams From My Father. I started it because I was tired of hearing the mis-quotes in the right-wing press and I wanted to form my own decisions. Would I give equal time and consideration to McCain’s book, Faith of My Fathers? Absolutely, but I started with Obama because I haven’t heard the McCain book misquoted.

Dreams From My Father is beautifully written, written in Senator Obama’s own voice as absolutely as if you were hearing him speak. It bogs down a bit—he has not crafted the narrative to make it more dramatic. It is himself coming to terms with the issues I mentioned above—of being multi-racial, of being intelligent but of making the choice to give something back and become involved because racism is not dead in this country and anyone who says or thinks that it is is lying to us or to themselves. It is himself coming to terms with what it means to be human with all our foibles and issues and baggage, seen through his own particular lens, and the lens of the mythical man who was his father.

In 2000 I admired John McCain. I certainly admired him more than Bush. I ignored his temper and the Keating Five scandal and saw a good man who’d made some mistakes. I saw a man who reminded me in some ways of my father and for whom I think my father would have voted. I also saw a man who I believed might be able to bridge the middle. I believe that in the intervening 8 years he has made every effort to court the neo-con, right-wing base in order to win this election. In 2000 he denounced the hate mongering of the evangelicals, while in this campaign he has accepted the endorsements and/or shared stages with the likes of Falwell and Hagee. I still believe that he is in some ways a good man who believes that the ends—his presidency—is worth any means, but I think if he were elected, he would find that it is not possible to lease your soul out and then expect to get it back, no strings attached. I have referenced this to many people, that Lyndon Johnson wanted to do so much good but made so many deals along the way that he found himself hog-tied in office—owing allegiance to those who got him there. I think that McCain would find himself in the same position. I am not the first to say that the John McCain of 2000 would not vote for the John McCain of 2008.

To a certain extent I, like so many other people, am voting not for a candidate, but against a continuation of the last eight years. I am sick to death of politics in America, of the Rovian/Cheneyesque style of attack your enemy with hot button words and evade punishment of your own treachery and corruption. Of this bullying, McCarthyesque labeling—if you can brand your enemy with being un-American then you can sway the public even if you can never actually define what that means. Of feeding an “Us vs. Them” mentality that reduces your enemy to less than human instead of accepting differences of opinion.

Like Michelle Obama I have not been proud of America these last eight years, and perhaps not ever. I am ashamed of Guantanamo and the Patriot Act. I am horrified that incompetence and outright treachery is ignored. That no one was punished for outing a CIA operative—a truly, legally treasonous action, as opposed to the so-called treasonous action of standing up and saying, “I believe the policies being pursued by this administration are wrong.” The first is in the law books. The second is the most Patriotic thing one can do, because the government is of the people and by the people and the majority of Americans think this administration is corrupt. I am angry that Alberto Gonzales and other Bush cronies will not be punished for at best monumental incompetence, at worst, outright lying and cover-up.

The further collapse of John McCain in my eyes is his acceptance and use of tactics which were used against him in 2000 and which he decried then, but because they work, has begun to use now. The cheap smears, the blaming of the press, the Swift-boat attacks… Don’t even get me started on Sarah Palin. She is not running for president, and so should not be the focus, but she and McCain have made her the focus and she exemplifies to me everything that is wrong with the Conservative party today. She came out of the gate attacking not leading. All that she has done has been to attack Senator Obama with meaningless smears, dancing away from details and facts before she is called upon to prove them. It was the basis of her acceptance speech and it has been her raison d’etre ever since. Her excuse for her absolutely mortifying performance with Katie Couric? “Well, she wouldn’t let me talk about what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about Senator Obama.” I’m sorry, Governor Palin, you serve at our discretion, and we want to know what your policies have been, what you have done and will do, not what you think of Senator Obama. You are not there to repeat gossip and innuendo; you are there to prove that you have the intelligence and the temperament to lead.

One of the things that I do not understand in America is this reverence of the stupid. That somehow being educated and intelligent (though the two do not always go hand in hand) is seen as somehow suspect. That by merely not dumming oneself down, one is seen as presenting oneself as superior. Do you know why we have an electoral college, when we are the only nation that still does so? It was because those revered Founding Fathers, the most educated men of their time, in a time when most of the population could not read or write, believed that the general public was too stupid to be trusted with the vote.

I personally would like to believe that the people governing the country are the smartest and the most educated. That they are not people I would drink beer with because I would not be smart enough to join in their conversation. I believe that the more intelligent you are, the more likely you are to see the world in shades of grey. The world is not this simple black and white. I will take an intelligent man who is able to change his mind honestly and weigh different points over a rigid “decider” any day. To me, Palin suffers from the same hubris as Bush, Cheney and their crew. Because she believes her cause to be just, she can break any law. After all, she’s doing it for our own good. Dictators think this way. The tales of corruption and rule bending in her Alaskan dealings are the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power she thinks she deserves. She scares me because she thinks she knows what is right. Wisdom is knowing what you do not know. We have suffered through eight years of a man who either took no counsel but his own, or only took counsel that agreed with what he had already decided. We need a leader who will take counsel from those who disagree with him. Lincoln knew that. Jefferson and Adams knew that.

But again, to vote against something is not the reason to vote for a candidate. The Germans voted for someone who promised something different in the 1930’s. The French Revolution gave way to the Reign of Terror.

So, I am voting for Senator Obama because I agree with him. Because the things about him that scare so many people in America are things that I embrace when they are true and ignore when they are false.

Something I do to try and stay balanced is listen to as much of the right wing attack mongering as I can stand. If there is something that I haven’t heard from the left I research it. There is a particularly odious radio personality here in the Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh school who likes to say that the left says that anyone who uses Obama’s middle name is a racist. Well, no. It is the fact that the right glories in saying his middle name for its fear value. Do we equally hear John McCain’s middle name? Sarah Palin’s? The S. in Harry S. Truman didn’t stand for anything. When has a candidate’s middle name every mattered until now?

And, (and this is a big one) what if he WERE Muslim? The rise of the neo-conservative, Evangelical movement in America has kept the presidency the right of white, Christian men. Since no one can come right out and say, “We can’t elect him because he’s black,” they will instead say, “We can’t elect him because he’s Muslim.” Would we be equally afraid if his name were Benjamin Ben Gurion? We have not had a Jewish President either. Or as I recently joked with friends if his name were Brock O’Bama. Would the American public then believe that he must be tied to the IRA? The Founding Fathers, the ones that the right likes to reference, believed in separation of church and state. That were not Evangelicals. They came from different denominations and different faiths. They were men of the age of Reason. Their God was the Great Watch Maker who did not send Katrina to kill homosexuals.

These words still stand. A few weeks before the election, I was speaking with two different friends, long-time liberals, and they were still voting against Bush and not for Obama. They had been Hillary supporters. They said that they still didn’t know what he stood for. That surprised me as I read Audacity of Hope, because it is all right there. He sees that there are a multitude of answers for every problem and that we respond to problems both emotionally and rationally, and sometimes we have to wait for the emotion to pass before we can make a rational and long lasting decision. That each answer has pros and cons and that each person who disagrees with you has reasons, some logical and some emotional, for believing as they do. That you must learn what motivates people before you can work with them and you CAN work with them if you will take the time and not dismiss them as “crazies” whom we must work against. And I will be the first to admit that these tactics are not the purview of the right, but I do not believe they are the tactics of Barack Obama

I like him. I really like him. I like him more with every appointment he makes, with every unflappable appearance. I’ve never supported a candidate the way I’ve supported him—with donations and purchases. I’ve never put a candidate’s magnet on my car until now. I proudly wore the button. His way of thinking is my way of thinking and that is at the heart what it is about. Will I agree with him on every decision? Absolutely not. Do I believe that I will understand why he is doing what he is doing? Yes, and that is something that has been sorely lacking in government for sometime.

I have been asked if I think he can do everything he says that he is going to do—well, no. There are things any presidential candidate does not know on the campaign trail that he is told when he is elected and only a fool would think that a decision can be made without all of the facts in evidence. President Obama knows that and has said that and I don’t think it’s waffling or giving himself an out to acknowledge that he doesn’t know everything. Instead it makes him human and wise—more wise I think that those who ignore facts for their own pre-agenda. Will he do it all? We can hope and pray, but even if he fails in some things, a man’s reach should always exceed his grasp.

Perhaps it is fitting that I am wrapping this up on Martin Luther King Day. I remember when the holiday was being debated and my parents were against it. Looking up the public timeline and my own personally timeline I must have been 10 or 11. I don’t think they had any racist reasons, simply the feeling that not enough time had passed. I disagreed and I remember getting on a chair and reciting the “I Have a Dream” speech.

Hindsight makes us all geniuses but I believe that I knew, even then, that the white world that my parents lived in was different than the world that my minority friends lived in, and that I, as a “Mutt” to use the new president’s term, existed in a strange limbo in between. This is why I have looked at the actual transcripts of Reverend Wright and seen a patriotic man who wants to point out in strong terms that America is not perfect and ignoring the problems do not make them go away.

As I grew older and I lived through poverty and failed to “pull myself out of” depressions and to succeed in the Ayn Randian ideal of the far right, I realized that life is not so simple as the platitudes of gung-ho individualism. Perhaps they never were, but certainly not in a world where the wealthiest one per cent of households control a third of the national wealth. When I was born it was still possible to buy a house on one average income—now it is virtually impossible.

I have come to believe that investment in health care and education IS investment in American infrastructure and not theft from the rich as it is portrayed. The specter of socialism was used throughout this election as if we were still fighting the Cold War. The fact that Russia was not at the height of the Cold War, practicing socialism or communism as it was written is always ignored. It is time for the United States to understand that it is part of the global economy whether it likes it or not—we cannot go back or ignore the world outside our borders. International business and the Internet have made that impossible. I do not view it as a bad thing but whether I do or not, it is not going to stop. Perhaps it is my international birth that has always made me question the intention of “God Bless America.” God bless us all. The accident of birth is not an assurance of anything. If life were fair then most immigrants are the truest Americans because they have gone through the most to earn it.

President Obama has existed in this same limbo as I have—never white but never black enough. He has been poor. He has been unhappy and he has made mistakes. He is also able to speak of those times in clear and sometimes beautiful language. In this I think he speaks for far more Americans than ever before. And that is why I voted for Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. God bless him and keep him safe. God bless us all.