Monday, November 09, 2009

Spellbound, Falling In Trances

I don't know about you, but -

- I'm always surprised when singing doesn't break out.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

And Give Young Sally Some Room

Via every-freaking-body on the intertoobz, but in this case from Crooks & Liars:

Nicole Belle:
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), one of the GOP's minions, continues the Joe Wilsonification of Congress to prevent discussion over Stupak's amendment, one that may actually lead to effectively a ban on abortion for low income women:
“The real goal of abortion opponents isn't to maintain the status quo. It's to extend federal prohibitions into private pocketbooks. By restricting coverage offered through the exchange, they hope to make abortion coverage so unattractive that insurers eventually stop offering it in the market for individual and small-group policies.”

And they don't even want us to discuss it. Those white men of the GOP don't want women to insert their remarks into the record.

Kind of makes you long for the day genuine leftists barged into Rotary Club meetings squawking "Property is theft!" and "Are you done with that cheese platter?" It is important to remember that each one of these censorious, shouting motherfuckers would run crying to Fox News if anyone did this to them. Almost no one does, except their own cohorts. Ask Lindsey Graham.

I was inches from losing my mind watching this vomitrociousness when a great, great thing happened:

the Bedlam Rovers' 1990 CD Frothing Green landed in my mailbox. I went from hopping mad to jumping for joy in seconds flat. The band stayed at my house when they passed through New Jersey a zillion years ago and I was hopelessly, droolingly starstruck every time. It's a little embarrassing to remember, but when the CD played tonight, none of that mattered. I love these songs. They've aged beautifully; their politics are more relevant now than ever before. It's even good to recognize that I learned a lot from meeting the band. For instance: genuine socialist health care would be good for everyone and everything, except the careers of corporate water carriers, who no longer even suffer the pretense of democratic process.

It's not easy to dance when I'm this testy.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Beyond the Throes Of Our Time


Saturday, September 05, 2009

If Everybody Had A 12 Gauge

Minstrel Boy said something that reminded me of this clever bit. The best joke is at the very end.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Our Love Will Have No End

My horoscope advises against attracting attention to myself, so let's have a musical interlude.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Love You Save May Be Your Own

The Jackson 5's Greatest Hits was the first album I ever bought with my own saved pennies. These songs were so important to me as a little girl my parents took away my second record Ben. It wasn't until the last year of his life that Dad told me what'd happened. It was a shameful business: my parents were afraid that because Black is beautiful I would think only Black was beautiful, and I would never see my own beauty. Fortunately, I grew into my undeniable EXTREME! BEAUTY! I can't really explain any of that. No matter how strange things got for him, I always had a soft spot in my heart for Michael Jackson.


Monday, June 08, 2009

With the Scenery Flying By

Saturday morning, Pete and I climbed the long flight of concrete stairs to the train platform and walked a long way to an empty space against the wall. I heard an accordian and took the camera out of my bookbag. "Pete," I said, "it is totally crucial that you take a picture because nobody believes that everywhere I go there's theme music. If we're very lucky, you'll also capture the back up dancers." Of course, you may be inclined to say, "Ta darling, those are people having their own lives. Your presence is a coincidence. Stop being so Center Of the Universe about it." Shaaaa. Have you met me?

This is the only picture Pete took all day of something that wasn't moving so obviously that's the one out of focus. But it is important! All hail the bowl of Veselka's borscht, the bowl of soup so sublime it must be experienced to be believed, and no shimmering verbiage approaches its epic yumminess. The ordinary bowl cannot contain it! The challah must sop its brothy goodness. Behold the borscht - and know that when you stare into the borscht, it stares into you!

The coffee was also pretty good.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Please Don't Stay In Touch

Uh oh! California's scorned pageant princess is p-p-pissed!
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Miss California Carrie Prejean, who declared her opposition to same-sex marriage during the Miss USA pageant, will star in a new $1.5 million ad campaign funded by the National Organization for Marriage.

The organization has scheduled a press conference with Prejean in Washington on Thursday to unveil the new ad, called "No Offense."

Prejean was roasted by same-sex marriage advocates after she stood up for what she called "opposite marriage" (marriage between a man and a woman) when responding to a question from celebrity blogger and pageant judge Perez Hilton.

Prejean has also become a fresh-faced standard-bearer for the same-sex marriage opponents, who have rallied to her defense.

"She is attacked viciously for having the courage to speak up for her truth and her values," the National Organization for Marriage said in a press release. "But Carrie's courage inspired a whole nation and a whole generation of young people because she chose to risk the Miss USA crown rather than be silent about her deepest moral values."

According to the group, the ad will call "gay marriage advocates to account for their unwillingness to debate the real issue: gay marriage has consequences."

Indeed - gay marriage does have consequences. One day, you're dancing in the lesbian bar, minding your own gay business. You knock back a few drinks, take home a hot chick, wake up and count how many fingers you're holding up. Next thing you know, she's like all, "Baby, baby, baby, we're gonna have a baby," and you're all, "I'm smoke, I'm history, I'm Casper." No wait, that's those icky straight people. I can't even think about them having sex! Ewww!

I'm an unabashed advocate of same-sex marriage rights. I won't debate it because there's nothing to debate. There is no compromise position. I should have the right to marry a man or a woman. I should have the right to enter into this contract with the person of my choosing, as long as that person chooses me too; the same rights, for everyone, without exception. But Carrie Prejean, the sum of whose life experience can be charitably described as more limited than a veal cow's, thinks she knows better.

Huh. Take it away, Lily Allen -


Monday, April 13, 2009

Solve A Problem Like Maria

The only difference between my today and my any other day is you can see the dancing people too.

As you were -


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pass the Tanning Butter

Last week, I ordered CD versions of the first two B-52s albums because how did I only have those in highly stationary vinyl? I can't play that in my car! Every time I hear Rock Lobster turns out to out to be the happiest six minutes of my life. Shouting about red snappers snappin' on my way to work practically constituted therapy because when I got there, my department expected a visit from Human Resources. My co-worker's funeral is Saturday morning. I have regrets I don't want to voice before we play that trust game that involves crowd surfing without a band. Yesterday, people around me swarmed her desk and cleaned it out, which I realized was too soon for me when I couldn't breathe for an hour and a half. This may be startling, given my extreme beauty, but I don't look great in just any shade of blue. This morning, building maintenance finally responded to an earlier complaint about ants along the cubicle wall ten feet from my desk, so at 10:30 this morning, my department hosted a grief counselor and an exterminator.

Teary hilarity did indeed ensue.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Next Time I'll See You There

Have you ever in your entire life seen an action photo of tulips? Sunday afternoon, I walked by this color combination, backed up a few steps and said, "Pete, get the camera." Though the flowers appeared still they of course weren't. Nothing is. We are all always in motion, faster than we know and not at all where we appear to be. When Darla was down from Canada for a visit, I opened a jar of Tang to amuse her. "We can pretend we're in space!" she exclaimed. And, of course, we are.

A few weeks ago, out of the blue, I remembered that our landlord for the house we lived in when I was five had a wooden leg, and I remembered his name, too. Things may be starting to drift out from behind the wall of my memory loss. An example: this obscure Australian song I had on a 1993 NACB sampler and never heard anywhere else. Until yesterday, I hadn't seen this embarrassing video, but somehow that makes it better.
I love this happy, happy song and its drive and energy. I can't figure out why the singer dances about a half a beat off the rhythm but there's no accounting for counting. For all we know, she hears her own distant drummer, as we do at our house, and late at night we call the cops because we are old now, and resent the presence of a bad Portishead cover band next door. I mean, what?

Lovely Princess Drusy likes face-to-face interaction, so when Pete sat down to take pictures, Drusy leapt onto the table and licked his face. Pete grumbled, but he wasn't really angry. How can you be angry when the tiny, beautiful pussycat openly adores you? You cannot. So Pete grumbled, took this one picture including Drusy and she scampered off to play. That stripe of pink skin under black fur looks like Topaz and not Drusy, whose face is all black. It was Drusy, disguised as Topaz, I think. Perhaps this photo provides proof for someone's Unified Cat Theory, but space makes it hard to be certain.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

That Borders My Back

In the words of the great sages A Halo Called Fred, the finest band that ever let me play guitar without injuring myself on the strings, "Have you ever woken up in the morning, having had a little too much to drink the night before, and said to yourself these magic words?" I say, don't limit yourself to hangovers. Sometimes, you just feel like -


Monday, November 24, 2008

A Different Shadow On the Wall

The sound of these voices grates a bit, the history feels shaky and yet the sentiment is worth discussing.

So. What'll we talk about, then?


Sunday, October 19, 2008

And That Old Man That's Over the Hill

Few songs have ever been so ripe for a timely cover.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Again Gonna Do It Again

Lost connectivity today, which was mostly okay because we wanted to paint the staircase hallway, straighten the screen door, sweep the foyer and the porch, air the rugs and clean up the garden generally after Tropical Storm Tillie, which tore leaves off trees and made muddy lo the bottoms of shoes. A great many of us have them, the poor, poor shoes. Though Friday night, I got some New Balance athletic scuffs with superlative arch support at Sears for 30% off.

Guess what color we painted the hall.



Friday, August 29, 2008

Don't Pretend That You Want

Paint fumes - can't quite flubbity bok bok - oooh! black light posters are awesome!

This always reminds me of Dad. He and the Muppeteers probably did the same drugs.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

I've Come To Take You Home

Driving, windows open, radio playing.

Tata: There are a few things I'd like to do before I move. I'd like to bury Larry's ashes. It seems pretty stupid to carry them around with me.
Pete: At your mother's house, right?
Tata: Well, why not bury him where we live? Would you mind?
Pete: No, that'd be fine. You want to scatter your Dad's ashes, too, right?
Tata: Yeah.
Pete: Have you picked a place? You were talking about the Shore.
Tata: I think so. I think the place where his grandparents had a house. His ashes would join the Gulf Stream and he could go around the world. He loved Europe and Iceland, and Japan was really good for him.

At the first notes of a new song I burst into tears.

Pete: What's wrong?
Tata: Nothing. That's what we'll do. Do you believe in signs?
Pete: Sometimes.
Tata: I don't think you could get a clearer sign than this one.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Let's Break Out the Booze And Have A Ball

Omigod, I hate sticky, but do I love sticky?
LONDON, England (CNN) -- A protester who wanted his message to stick managed to superglue himself to the British prime minister Tuesday evening.

Dan Glass was at 10 Downing Street to receive a charity's award for his work on transportation issues when he staged the unusual protest. Just before Prime Minister Gordon Brown presented him with the award, Glass squirted superglue in the palm of his left hand. He shook Brown's right hand and then grabbed the prime minister's sleeve.

"I've just superglued myself to your arm," Glass said he told Brown. "Don't panic. This is a non-violent protest."

Glass is affiliated with the group Plane Stupid, which campaigns against airport expansion and climate change. He said he acted to protest Brown's "hypocrisy" on the issues.

"I just wanted a few more minutes of his time to get the message across, because he's not listening to communities affected by airport expansion," Glass told CNN on Wednesday.

The prime minister managed to free himself in about 30 seconds, Glass said.

"He can shake off my arm, but he cannot shake away climate change," he added.

Surprisingly, Mr. Glass was not fed to the Queen's Corgis. But we don't live there. We live here.

Since we can't shake off the hangover caused by two endless wars, the destruction of an American city, the destruction of our military, the emptying of our treasury, the evisceration of the Constitution, the absolutely avoidable corrosion of the middle class, the union busting, the jobs loss, the wholesale incarceration of the poor, the corruption of the Department of Justice, the environmental policies written by oil lobbyists, the installation of unqualified political hacks into significant positions, the xenophobic and homophobic invective and legislation, the unforgivable fleecing of the Department of the Interior, the cruel and stupid border wall bullshit, the poisoning of political discourse, the stacking of the Supreme Court, the outing of Valerie Plame, the loss of American credibility on human rights issues, the hollowing out of Roe vs. Wade, the dismantling of contraceptive and AIDS prevention programs worldwide and the unbelievably cruel abandonment of women in Iraq and Afghanistan, let's watch Beeker sing Ode to Joy. Because why not?

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Monday, July 21, 2008

I'll See You In My Dreams

For a few weeks, I've felt run down, sore and exhausted. I wish I had time to take a day off and lie still while charming young things bring me restorative chicken liver pate and tropical fruit. I don't. No matter. My co-worker got hit by a dump truck that launched his car fifty feet into a telephone pole, totalling the car and cracking his rib. He's sitting at his desk now, telling us about the Have A Heart trap that survived the various impacts that turned his car into crushed metal. It's a fucking miracle! Well, shut my mouth.

I haven't been able to bicycle to work. Yesterday was the sixth successive day topping 90 degrees, and almost every forecast contained some mention of lightning. It's raining lightly now. That's why today is the only day this summer I've worn suede shoes. Because, you know, because.

The Weavers at Carnegie Hall has been on my mind. Daria, Todd and I spent a lot of time alone together, singing these songs. In my lifetime, the way people listen to music has changed fundamentally. Let's call this American History: our parents weren't wild about television anyhow, so they'd put on records. A listener had a respectful, attentive duty to records: motion was limited to what did not disturb the needle for 24-26 minutes, and sometimes all a person did was hold still and really listen. Sometimes, we'd sing along and often dance. Sometimes we'd dance to the radio. Until we started buying our own records - no mean feat since we didn't live anywhere near a record store - we had this intimate relationship with our parents' music. Thus, somewhere in the back of my child mind, I know every note, every catcall, every thunderous cheer of The Weavers at Carnegie Hall.

Because I remember my father coughing on his restaurant breakfast and whispering, "That man over there - he was blacklisted by McCarthy" and because I've been in a foul mood since warmongers started flinging around the word traitor in 2002, and because there was never any reason to invade Iraq, I see this treachery for what it is. Somewhere, there is music and we should be dancing.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Free To Be Nowhere

Let's - grrrrrr! - talk.

Forgive me now and beat the Yom Kippur rush: I'm in a mood even a fresh coif and a new pair of biodegradable Vera Wang platform flip flops wouldn't fix. Not to worry, Poor Impulsives, we can blame this on a low pressure system rushing in from out west, where the deer and the antelope play canasta. As you know, I'm not much of a joiner where no solder is to be found, so you'll be as shocked as I was to learn that the local committee ladies who are fully committed to having committees and have never met me have asked me to join them in their eco-friendly bloodless conquest of the tiny town's miserably stocked ExtortionMart, by which I mean a meeting on Monday with the store's new manager. Apparently, I drove away the last manager with my insistence that recycled paper products were a perfectly rational idea. Anyway, my sister Anya, who shall hereafter be refered to as "Co-defendant," will arm me with sock puppets and a can of Spam, which in vegetarian means: "Them's fightin' words."

While I ponder this turn of events and that twist of sinus medication, feel free to ponder a lovely, wonderful song by Khadja Nin called Sina Mali, Sina Deni, a translated cover of a Stevie Wonder song in a language you don't speak, and none of that should put you off. Please press play.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Stars Already Crossed

I need to catch my breath. This is not the song I went looking for, but I couldn't resist the dreadful eighties hair and makeup.

I love Thomas Dolby with my whole black heart. The other song: maybe I'll get to that later.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Luck Sees Us the Same

A zillion years ago, a man looked at his datebook, struggled with English and asked, "What's Jesus Flying Day?"

Jesus may fly but Mark Hollis is a god. This song, which I love with my whole tattered black heart, sounds to me like Judas sitting on a wooden chair at the window, staring at the bleak wintry countryside, asking himself what happened - unless it's Jesus, and oh boy.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Boys In Bikinis, Girls On Surfboards

A few weeks ago, I started hearing a song in my head I didn't recognize, and didn't know where I'd heard it. With rings on my fingers and bells on my toes, I shall have music wherever the hell, and for a person who goes nowhere, I sure do get around. On Friday, I realized it was playing on Altrok Radio, so I called up Sean and said, "This is your demographic speaking. What is the name of this song?"

Sean said, "Sing it for me."

I said, "It doesn't have words I can hear but it's like a Beach Boys song played by Peter Gabriel's band after an exceptional night with hot- and cold-running vodka."

It's Yeasayer and 2080. This video made by a fan is a patient and lovely rendering of the piece. YouTube has a live studio version - which I would usually prefer - but I hear the singer's nerves.

I like it even better now that I recognize lyrics.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What You Touch You Don't Feel

Yippee! New Ladytron, now playing on Altrok Radio, which reminds me of this pretty and pretty silly video for a hypnotic Ladytron song. Plainly, the record company got its Bjork on without a plan for the morning after.

Because I will never forget the sight of corpses floating through the fetid streets of New Orleans and will never forgive the people who exacerbated that still-roiling disaster, because I have $37.84 in my checking account until Friday, because a junta will do what a junta will do, the last 10 days have ground me to a fine powder. I look as fabulous as I feel, so at least it's not my little secret. On the other hand, an employer may demonstrate a certain impatience when you call out under the weather due to a cyclone in Myanmar. What's a gal to do?

It's important to remember, at shitty moments like this, giving money is not always the answer and while few of us can help in earthquake rescue efforts on the other side of the earth we can bring Good Works into the world. My favorite place to find Good ideas is Karama Neal's So What Can I Do? I'm going to spend a little time there this morning rehabilitating my outlook, and I hope you'll join me. Later, I may write a fan letter to the Black Oven for combining metal mythology and baked desserts in a charming post-Goth fashion, and I needed a good laugh. Tonight, Pete and I will shop for a composter, so we can make our own mulch, grow better vegetables and contribute less trash to landfill. We can't buy the composter right now - $37.84 in checking - but we can plan.

Got Good plans? Let's hear 'em.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Everybody Stand Up

This has been playing on the mental jukebox for days.

Wendy's got a new puppy I'm dying to hear more about. What's going on with you?


Thursday, March 27, 2008

And Call Ourselves An Institute

On our last trip to Virginia, we divided up Dad's tapes and CDs. I took some Leonard Cohen, a few Rickie Lee Jones tapes I'd made for him, a CD copy of Graceland, and a tape of a Greek singer whose name I can't spell offhand. It'd been a long time since I listened to Graceland, and I'd forgotten I'd always had questions about that album. If I could, I'd call up Paul Simon for each and every low-down.

As a developing writer, you acquire an ear for words that feel out of place or put there as a signal. They feel like a bump in a smooth stretch of road. Let's try out these words from That Was Your Mother:
Along come a young girl
She's pretty as a prayerbook,
Sweet as an apple on Christmas Day.
I said, "Good gracious, can this be my luck?
If that's my prayerbook,
Lord let us pray."

If you're half-listening, nothing happens here but accordians and a story of a young man meeting a young woman. Simon is a really sophisticated lyricist, and a closer listen teaches you a few things. He's a New Yorker, for one thing. New Yorkers did not say "pretty as a prayerbook" at the end of the twentieth century, when this song was written. That's an old-fashioned southernism, which he follows with the humble "sweet as an apple on Christmas Day." So you have this explosion of color and sugar and light and fragrances, the mildest of which might be the apple, which also sets this story in a sepia-toned past. Then he makes one of those Paul Simon trademark turns of phrase that tells you he is not southern, not old-fashioned and won't mind spending a little time on his knees. It's brilliant, really, which is why when I get to this line I scratch my head:
Well, that was your mother
And that was your father
Before you was born dude
When life was great
You are the burden of my generation
I sure do love you
But let's get that straight

I'm the what? Of course, he's talking to his son and not me, but we have the layered pronoun problem: I'm the - wait, he's the burden of your generation? I'd like ring up and ask what particular left field we zoomed into. On this album, there are a few. All Around the World or The Myth of Fingerprints:
Over the mountain
Down in the valley
Lives a former talk-show host
Everybody knows his name
He says, "There's no doubt about it
It was the myth of fingerprints
I've seen them all and man
They're all the same."
Well, the sun gets weary
And the sun goes down
Ever since the watermelon
And the lights come up
On the black pit town
Somebody says, "What's a better thing to do?
Well, it's not just me
And it's not just you
This is all around the world."

I love this song. I love love love this song. Ever since the watermelon? What the fuck are we talking about? From beginning to end, I feel the loneliness but can't find the story, which is really, really unusual in a Paul Simon song. Almost 10 years later, a bunch of somebodies made a movie called The Myth of Fingerprints. That year, I was very busy being Me, so I didn't see it, but my Spideysense tingled. I don't know what that means, either.

There's another question I'd like to ask. Most of the time, Simon writes his own stories, but Under African Skies seems to have nothing to do with him, and then there's the second verse.
In early memory
Mission music
Was ringing round my nursery door
I said, "Take this child, Lord
From Tucson, Arizona,
Give her the wings to fly through harmony
And she wont bother you no more."

This seems to be Linda Ronstadt's story, paralleling the story of the title. The swooping sound of her voice suggests flight, steady and graceful. As a diptych, it's a lovely picture, but it's like looking at photographs of people you know you must know. Why these two people? What is the connection?

Today, I'm mailing more of Dad's books to Miss Sasha, who asks different questions. I still have no answers.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

She's Interactive

I am not a librarian. There're two degrees and an attitude problem between me and librarianship. The job market being what it is, I am surrounded by MLS holders in entry level positions. I'm surprised there aren't more hilarious and well-informed suicides.

That's Joe Uveges. I've never heard of him either.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

And Murmur Vague Obscenities

Part I.
Part II. Electric Boogaloo

Part III. The Embarkening

The week before we took a cab to Newark Pointless Security Airport, Siobhan and I studied the regulations and packed. I borrowed half of Daria's summer wardrobe because she wouldn't need it here in winter. We bought tiny bottles of expensive products and became convinced that Halliburton quietly cornered the sample size shampoo market. There can be no other reason why Customs cares about 4 oz. tubes of curl defining pomade when that whole Formulate A Bomb On Board The Plane process was demonstrated to be impossible YEARS AGO. Later, I spent a week losing the battle with frizz.

Also that week: I was so tense my shoulders were glued to my ears. I didn't want to go! I wanted to be on the boat but I didn't want to travel there! Anyway, at about this same point of near hysteria, I had a fine talk with Me about ridiculous overeating.

Tata: Hey! HEY! WHAT are you DOING?
Tata: Uh...mmmmph mmmmumph mummph...nothing!
Tata: Put that down! You're not even hungry.
Tata: I'm not what? Of course, I'm hungry.
Tata: No, you're nervous.
Tata: Uh...mmmmph mmmmumph mummph...What are you talking about?
Tata: I mean it! Put that DOWN!
Tata: Okay! Okay! What is your problem?
Tata: I'll tell you what my problem is: your inexplicable fat ass, that's what!
Tata: Bite me. I have a fabulous ass!
Tata: Really?
Tata: Yep.
Tata: Let's go look.
Tata: Now the healing can begin...

I put down the plate and went back to the exercise cycle. It can be tempting when traveling to forget one's newfound resolution. On the day we traveled - Saturday - I discovered that I'm no better at flying than I have ever been, and once we got to the hotel in Miami, boat-related parties and events were planned. At a party, where most all I could do was marvel that I was standing outside in a t-shirt staring at palm trees, I also located the hotel's gym. I hate gyms. But there it was, taunting me. The next morning, I sat my erstwhile fabulous ass on an exercise bicycle and pedalled for all I was worth. Since the bicycle was in the back of a room without the usual wall of horrifying mirrors and nobody paid the slightest attention to my presence, I actually enjoyed the whole thing. It was a revelation. That day - Sunday - we braced ourselves for the ordeal of going through Customs, since Newark had been an ordeal, but Port Miami wasn't. Whooosh! Hundreds of our fellow passengers were through so fast I turned around, blinking. What?

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I used the various exercise cycle types on the boat. At first, I avoided the mirrors and eye contact with other people because I was afraid they were judging me. Later, I avoided the mirrors and eye contact with other people because I didn't give a damn what they thought. That's a giant step forward. See? A bad attitude can represent progress!

Also on Monday afternoon, Siobhan said something like, "Blah blah blah after I pushed the skinny twigs off the jogging track..." which I only half-heard because she's always assaulting someone and after a while it's all a blur.


After dinner Monday night, I took the elevator to the top of the boat and walked 15 1/10-mile laps. Then we saw that Vanity Project show that took the wind out of my sails. Tuesday, I woke up with a different plan in mind, but we went to Grand Cayman, then I cycled, we had dinner, then I walked. Wednesday, I had an idea that was both genius and appallingly stupid. Isn't it funny how that happens?

I was eating fresh fruit and salads with every meal, avoiding the buffets when I could and skipping dessert entirely unless it was more fruit. For the first time in ages, I finished a book, started another and finished that. I was getting just enough sunlight to turn my skin a fetching golden brown. Then I declared that for the rest of the cruise I'd only wear shoes to the formal dining room and to the gym. It was genius! I hate shoes! So I walked 17 laps Wednesday morning, bicycled in the afternoon and walked barefoot on the jogging track that night.

During the day, the jogging track was a sunny, social place where people ran, walked, lay on deck chairs and read books. The warm sea air felt fresh on the skin, and only lightly breezy. At night, the feeling was totally different. Every night, the boat sailed at an impressive clip. Up at the top, the wind rushed over the higher surfaces with some force and I walked half of each lap with the wind and half against it. On the first night, the wind grabbed my left foot and I wondered for a half-second if I might go over the side. Rather than discouraging me, this made me mad.

Think you can scare me, do ya? Now, that right there is a sign of genius.

The next night, potheads lighting up where they wouldn't be on camera gave me the Evil Eye each time around the track. That didn't scare me either. Then Wednesday night, I walked barefoot, with the idea that - pffft! - screw it, I'm walking. About lap 16, I felt like there was dirt under my feet that didn't come off. A lap later, I tried scraping it off. A lap after that, I had to quit. The jogging track had tiny metal bits embedded in the finish and they'd cut pinholes in the soles of my feet. Naturally, I had to find Siobhan immediately and declare my genius.

I don't remember how, but I spent some part of Wednesday evening with my feet in the pool and a drink in my hand. Later, at karaoke again, I was so appalled by those California housewives' rendition of Super Freak I curled up into one of those positions normal adults don't assume in public. When Youlia our waitress appeared, I had one foot on the table, one leg hooked under my hips and, since it was Pajama Night, a hideous red sheer polyester robe falling everywhere in a cascade of terrifying ruffles. I apologized for being folded in thirds. Then switched to gin in pint glasses.

The next day: walking, cycling, walking. Feet in pool, drinks in hand, Siobhan and I saw a band called Great Big Sea that was loads of fun. I put my time on the boat to good use. I read, changed my diet, exercised more and got some sun. I napped every afternoon and disengaged from politics for a while. I came back feeling healthier and stronger than I have in ages.

First one making an 'Odette to society' joke gets a green manicure to the kisser.

On Tuesday, Siobhan and I returned to our cabin and found this terrifying creature on the edge of my bed. Note its proximity to our balcony door! We screamed!

Tata: Get back! It could be feral!
Siobhan: What do we feed it? Do you have any beer?
Tata: Beer will not protect us from this beast.
Siobhan: I'll get my camera while you disable the thing.
Tata: Thanks, Marlon Perkins. I'll just do that.

As we later discovered, that was only the first wave of the towel animal assault.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Be Real, Got To Be

Part I.

II. Wednesday-ish

The motion of the boat is both amusing and reassuring. At first, I wondered if Sunday night’s dinner was going down. Then I wondered if it might come back up. Then we started drinking, which had the unexpected side effect of making unsteadiness on my feet relatively normal.

On Sunday, we met Youlia, our waitress. She might be 22, speaks four languages and hails from Kiev. She’s obviously very bright. She suggested I buy beer by the bucket. I considered making out a will and leaving her my jewelry but Monday night, I didn’t order the bucket of beer. No, as Siobhan and I annoyed a random German kid and a Christian family during Steven Page’s Vanity Project show, I nursed a beer I would have preferred smashing over the sound man’s head. After an hour of soul-crushing boredom, I allowed as how the Vanity Project show had been a bland aggregation of mid-tempo songs about agonizing breakups unfolding in slo-mo and never actually concluding. The German got up in a huff and stomped off. We assumed it was over between us and him, or for that matter anyone offended by my hugely charitable critique.

The little theater was packed but emptied. We stayed, moved closer to the stage by joining a mother-son pair we’d met at lunchtime We understood who we were dealing with when he said he lived in Georgia but once made a pilgrimage to Kevin Smith’s comic book store. She ranged between pleasant company and socially toxic at unexpected intervals. She made a fried chicken and watermelon joke that left me positively speechless, so I turned my attention to ambushing a waiter since there was no way for us to leave. We were comfortably seated in a cushioned round booth while around us hundreds of people pressed body to body, waiting for the next show. When I turned back to Siobhan, she appeared to be mouthing words that made no sound. The son, somewhat aware of our shock, said, “Now, Mom, people don’t say those things anymore.”

The show we were waiting for was both simple and complicated: BNL’s Steven Page and Harvey Danger’s Sean Nelson presented the songs of Paul McCartney. Siobhan and I had seen Sean Nelson earlier. He is a rumpled giant whose hair makes him even taller. He looked like a Far Side character wandered into the bar, was taking offense at something said by the piano, and I don’t mean near it.

I did not at all mind Page and Nelson talking about how they as young musicians suffered for their love of McCartney. The stories were vastly more interesting than the songs. Siobhan and I both enjoyed hearing Let ‘Em In and Just Another Day, but it was late by then. Enough people had lost interest that I could see an almost clear path to the door and did not doubt my ability to clear the rest of it, so we went. It was after midnight and we had a 7:15 wake up call, which I assure you is always an authentic, crappy experience.

It is worth noting that the television in our room has ABC, NBC, CBS, Discovery, and TNT subtitled in Spanish. In the afternoons, I can indeed catch a few minutes of All My Children before I konk out but even that does not come without an undercurrent of extreme weirdness: these channels come from Colorado. They’re two hours earlier than Eastern Standard Time and they warn constantly of blizzards and 58 degrees and pleasant. I can’t tell what time it is or if I need mittens to step onto the balcony. I have mixed feelings about this, knowing that Pete shivers in the pitched gray of New Jersey while I’m slathering goo on sunburn. This, like everything else about the trip, has been for me a sharp lesson in whom I’m oppressing and how. Last night, a drunken woman at the next table in the lower level formal dining room who kept shouting, “I know what I’m saying! Sweet poontang! Poon-TANG! Poon-TANG!” Boy, did I want to oppress her. Tonight, another table full of drunks held a symposium on their relative anatomical strengths at the same improbable volume, causing Siobhan and I to swear off the lower level dining room for the remaining duration of our journey, but not before the waiters put on a dance extravaganza we could not actually see. This was fine by us until one of the drunks turned to our waiter, a dignified, professional waiter of some years who happened to be black, and slurred, “Aren’t you going to dance?” Yes, I wanted to oppress that asshole with a baseball bat.

It’s another story when we get off the boat Tuesday in bathing suits to lie on the beach on Grand Cayman. I awoke to find the Disney Magic, taller than anything I could see on the island, parked about 150 yards outside my bedroom window, two more cruise ships further away and, as I discovered later, three more on the ship’s other side. They reminded me of cattle, so I named the boats Matilda, Martha, Bessie, Bertha, Edna, Enid and Cowpurnia. Then I went to breakfast, because it’s hard to sunbathe glamorously on an empty stomach unless you’re a famous anorexic.

Siobhan and I took the water taxi, mysteriously called a tender, to the shore, where we were herded into a caged room plainly decorated by Albert Speer during his seldom-documented tropical period. Then we were herded to an outdoor concrete bus stop thing, after which we were marched to a parking lot. By this time, I expected cocktails by I. G. Farben, but we stuffed ourselves onto small, exotic buses. A bored woman in an ill-fitting uniform drove us through a traffic pattern that put Rube Goldberg to shame to a stretch of highway lined with evidence that every major conglomerate owned a piece of Grand Cayman, and no scrap of property was too scrubby to be left for the people who lived there. At least, this was my impression as we passed the Blockbuster Video, Subway, Quiznos, KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, pre-fab malls and a slew of familiar chain hotels. After we disembarked, we were herded to a small section of beach with deck chairs and left to our own devices for several hours, during which Siobhan took odds on the domestic dispute two rows over. Yes, the beach was pretty. Yes, the water was gorgeous. Yes, we turned interesting colors on a Caribbean beach, but the whole thing is and was a shamefaced lie, and it was harder to talk to our bus driver when at 10 a.m. we passed smashed tourists hanging from every window and deck of Margaritaville and The Hard Rock Café. It’s either Percy or Geertz who said that our presence as tourists changes the place, and though I knew that, I was ashamed of my complicity in the theft of this island from its people, not to mention two KFCs within a shitty one-mile stretch. Naturally, I bought Pete a t-shirt so we never have to go back.

Siobhan waves goodbye to an island that's already lost.

The show the night before and the episode on Grand Cayman convinced me that I was done going along to get along, and from then on, I went my own way – often on the jogging track. And it went pretty well until I went my own way barefoot.

Part III.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Stories Are Told, Rumors Are Started

This morning, I awoke in my bed, staring up at tiny Topaz staring down at me from atop a set of old stage flats that passes for the headboard of my bed. This would have been more remarkable if I had known how she came to be seven feet straight up above my head. Later, I saw her climb hand over kitty hand to the top, which explains why in a week Topaz looks fitter. Thus, my first thought this morning was, 'Holy crap, how'd she get there?' and my second was about canned tuna.

"But Ta," you're saying, "Where've you been?" Ah! This strange story may take a bit of telling. I wrote some notes. Join me in a bit of fresh time travel, won't you?

I. Last Monday-ish

We had breakfast on our balcony. I can hear Anthony Bourdain scoffing at the pure pasteurized excess that is having 6 tiny wedges of grapefruit and orange join a grape on a plastic plate for complimentary room service on an 8’x4’ janitor’s closet open to an outside wall, but I can’t deny the mind-bending beauty that was sucking down coffee in 78 degree sunlight as Cuba rested peacefully on the blue horizon. Goddammit, it was wonderful.

A thousand years ago, I struggled as every freshman comp student does with the anthropologist’s notion of authentic experience. I can’t remember if the writer was Walker Percy or Clifford Geertz, but I do recall apprehending immediately the difference, lost now on many Americans, between touring Europe and It’s A Small World. Yesterday, we whooshed! through customs in the Port of Miami like the country couldn’t get rid of its nerd rock fans fast enough, while two days ago, Newark Airport – I am NOT calling it by its Newspeak name – was an armed camp full of unsmiling automatons. It’s all bullshit, you know. There’s no such thing as safety, which if you didn’t know before you might finally understand when at karaoke the first night of the cruise two utterly unconscious California housewives did a horrifying 6-minute rendition of Rapper’s Delight. One thing you should know about Barenaked Ladies fans: they are white people. I’m not saying their skin is on the melanin-light side; no, I mean they are white-white-white people who look like they’ve never even held open an elevator door for a black person. It’s like a frat party exploded on this ship, with exciting harmonies. I don’t know what to make of it. The two or three black people I’ve seen on this boat out of uniform looked a bit annoyed and, though I’m not black and I can certainly sometimes be blind to the glaringly obvious, I stared open-mouthed at those two women pretending to be the Sugar Hill Gang. Don’t get me wrong. I’m old. I went through one of the best-integrated school systems in the country at the time, and I know all the words to this song. I would never in a gold-plated million years stand up in front of a crowd and pretend to be black. How does doing Rapper’s Delight differ from doing a karaoke version of Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff, as a drunken damsel did two performers later? I don’t know. It just does, and I was astounded to realize I was in a room full of people who might not make that distinction. Then again, someone had the butt-clenching bad taste to torture us with My Heart Will Go On on a fucking cruise ship. I begged our waitress to bring me another beer. “I am not drunk enough for these people,” I sobbed. “Next time, get one of those buckets of four beers,” she said sympathetically. Live and learn!

Siobhan's view from Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman.

What does this have to do with authentic experience? Absolutely nothing. In fact, cruising like this is designed to eliminate authentic experience of any kind. I just left 26 degrees and raw. Why is my cabin air-conditioned? There’re piles of Canadians on this boat – so pale you could read the paper through their ski – if there were newspapers. There aren’t. Contact with the rest of the world is prohibitively expensive. It costs $2.49 per minute for me to call Pete, which become much less shockingly exorbitant if I eschew swearing:

Fine. You?
Fine! Miss you!
Miss you! Tomorrow at 11!

It’s too expensive to ask, “What?” No, that is the kind of clarification one does not demand when subject to international roaming rates. Further, texting is cheaper but when we talked about staying in touch that way, both Pete and reflexively told those kids to get off our lawn. We are essentially out of touch then because internet service runs250 minutes for $100, and I spend that much time every week reading and re-reading Orcinus because Dave doesn’t just make a point. No. Dave sharpens his point of the lathe, sending sparks flying everywhere and skittering across the floor, honing that point to razor-sharpness, to the microns-wide point beyond which there can be no narrower, sharper point without a nuclear collider and Kali help us which is wildly unlikely, arguing is a waste of time when your argument lies bleeding on the floor before you’ve noticed the filleting. Being small and covered with fur, I have to work to understand what’s going on there. This week, Dave Neiwert is a very expensive date, let alone Pete, who, no question, puts out.

Please know that in the months since we met again in July Pete and I spent two whole nights apart until I got into the cab for the airport. Siobhan and I have traveled together before: to the S.C.A.’s Pennsic War a bunch of times, to Syracuse, to radio conventions, and to Vegas. We have shared rooms, cabs, bathrooms and beds, in a pinch, not to mention a stray boyfriend or two or four. Eh, so personal boundaries can’t be a big issue with us. Even so, I left home to rest in the sun. Siobhan came here to boogie all night. What a wild duet! I spend almost every waking moment on the boat in some state of needle-pinning emotion. The boat is GIGANTIC. The ocean is SO BLUE. Breakfast on the balcony is ASTOUNDING. Dinner last night was SCRUMPTIOUS. Omigod, I’m exhausted, just thinking about leaving the cabin. A few more STUPEFYINGs and I might pass out, and while all this is thrilling, it’s 85.7% less fun than it would be if Pete were standing next to me, giggling, because I suck at math.

My heart might stop, with that much excitement. That sounds like an authentic experience.

Part II.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Stars Were Just Like Little Fish

The Knife, We Share Our Mother's Health

I love this band with my whole black heart.

Who remembers the other reason I would love this?


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

But the Point Is Probably Moot

If you can stand it, I keep forgetting what to write about, and then I forget to write. Time passes, and other people at other blogs wonder why my name is on the masthead over there when they got game and lately I got ungotz. That is, by the way, a very naughty word and you shouldn't use it around your grandmother unless your grandmother is me. You can trust me on this: I am not, almost certainly, your grandmother. Nope.

Out in the wide world of the intertubes, you can find all kinds of people writing all kinds of material. I read through blogrolls because I am curious about everything. Almost everything. Many things. There's some yecky stuff I could live without. Anyway, for a while, BitchPhD linked to the Countess all the time, and at the Countess, you read about men's rights activists, chocolate and sex. It's a breathtakingly short hop from there to a whole planet of exhibitionists who get their groove on daily; some are fantastic smutty writers I'd read if they wrote phone books, though the pages might stick together. Last week, a blog I often read by an interesting woman on the low wattage end in a dominant/submissive power exchange relationship disappeared - the blog was deleted by the dominant in a fit of pique - and I was shaken by how real that erasure felt. I know exactly how I'd feel if I were cut off from my work. I've been cut off from my work by my cranky brain chemistry. I know what would happen if a person did that to me. She is certainly not me, though, and the component parts of her personality are very different from mine. We know this because you can figure out who's friends with whom in this underground world, and rumor has it she's not under arrest for homicide.

What I do not know is how people can live like that. Or like this:

Daria found that. We like Rick Springfield. When dinosaurs roamed the earth, I peeled cans of Fosters for depressed corporate filmmakers on the Turnpike on a hazardous weeknight mission to see Rick Springfield or die trying. I have almost certainly risked all for Rick. Yet this video makes me want to regrout my synapses.

What were they thinking?


Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Music Blogging: One Little White Lie Edition

Courtesy of Altrok Radio, Candie Payne's All I Need To Hear has been playing in my head:

Last night.
Tata: Okay okay okay, just about the time I would usually close the family store I'm helping a lady at the half-price jewelry section, which is at the very back of the store. We're looking at half-price necklaces without price tags when over her shoulder by the back door I see something move. Then I see it again. It's a field mouse! I thought the top of my head would blow off.
Pete: Did you step on it?
Tata: Are you kidding? I had a customer! And the new goal of my entire being was to focus her attention away from the indoor wildlife. She made me a wacky offer for the jewelry and I plastered a springy smile on my face. I said something like, "Gwabbflep blibbity jooop," which she understood to mean, "I'll wrap that up for you." In any case, she didn't look for the exits, which could have been reasonably disastrous.
Pete: So what did you do?
Tata: She asked if we had Halloweeny stuff and I almost burst a blood vessel with happiness. "That's up in the front of the store. I'll show you everything." I dragged her to the front, where she found more things for sale. She liked bags of wire spiders and found a crappy fairy doll thing I wouldn't mop cobwebs with but it didn't have a price tag either. I saw my chance, picked up her merch and ran for the back door. The mouse, however, took umbrage at the open door and ran the other way, eventually deciding the completely visible corner by the bathroom was where he'd sit and hyperventilate.
Pete: did you step on him?
Tata: No way, Jose. I called the toy store, where my sister Corinne answered. I purred into the phone, "I need your help desperately." A moment later, Corinne appeared at my side. We talked about the mop-like remaindered doll as the customer wandered over to another jewelry counter. I leaned in very close and whispered in Corinne's ear, "There's a mouse by the bathroom door." Corinne didn't move a muscle but whispered back, "Where?" I tossed my head as only a distressed Jersey chick with high hair history can in the direction of the pitiful thing. Corinne and I both smiled like we were radioactive as the customer came back to settle up. Then, Corinne was over by the bathroom door, doing something. Then she wasn't there anymore. I don't know what happened, because at this moment, the customer decided she wanted to chat.
Pete:Omigod, it's Fawlty Towers over there! What'd Corinne do with Basil the Rat?
Tata: I don't know! Corinne's an animal lover. Anyway, she was gone and less than two chatty minutes later, my brother-in-law Dan popped in the back door and said, "Hey, did someone have a question?" I said, still smiling like my face was on springs, "Ask Corinne."
Pete: Then what?
Tata: I closed the store and bought a bottle of wine I could drink through a straw.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Music Blogging: Long Ago And Far Away Edition

I woke up this morning with I'll Never Leave You in my head.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

All Things To Everyone

International Talk Like A Pirate Day reminded me of this, which is still a hoot. I'm just a little busy at the moment, but I'm thinking of you and you and you. You, however, are on your own!

Slade was one of Dad's favorite bands, too.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Something To Slow Me Down

Happy New Year!

It was written by Dee Dee Ramone, Jean Beauvoir, and Joey Ramone as a reaction to Ronald Reagan's visit to a soldiers' cemetery in Bitburg, West Germany in May 1985. The name Bonzo is not that of a person, but rather refers to the name of the chimpanzee title character to one of Reagan's movies, Bedtime for Bonzo.

Reagan's visit to the Bitburg cemetery had been criticised in Europe as well as in the United States because 49 members of the SS, the Nazi paramilitary organization that helped run the extermination camps during World War II, were buried there. Some of SS members buried at Bitburg came from units that committed atrocities, including the murder of American POWs. According to White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan, in Reagan's view the majority of the soldiers who were buried at the cemetery were "simply soldiers of the German army.... There were thousands of such soldiers for whom Nazism meant nothing but the brutal end of a short life".

The lyrics are a departure from the Ramones' usual style, with a more outwardly serious content. Joey and Dee Dee Ramone had written the song with producer and former Plasmatics bassist/keyboardist Jean Beauvoir. Joey, who was Jewish, has stated that he started on the song lyrics after being almost physically sickened by the Reagan visit, feeling that the President had disrespected the six million victims of the Holocaust by visiting Bitburg.

"Bonzo Goes to Bitburg" was originally meant to be the sole title of the song, but guitarist Johnny Ramone, a conservative Republican and a Reagan supporter, insisted that the refrain of "My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down" be the title on American releases of the song and that the reference to Reagan ("Bonzo") be in parentheses.

This song has been on my mind. No mystery there.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

With A Face Like A Magnet

Thursdays are too long. Let's have some diverting Elvis.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

From A Tuesday Point Of View

On Thursdays, I'm full of the festive exhaustion. It's nothing and I'm not complaining; certainly, I may be the luckiest girl in Puppetland to be able to eke out a decent living while avoiding a colorful stint in the Booby Hatch. Yes, I am among the most fortunate human beings on the planet: almost nobody is attacking me with fresh fruit. Few people bother arguing with me anymore and those that do bring me plastic dinosaurs of apology. Yesterday's yoga class turned into a two-hour extravaganza, which means tomorrow I'll hop around, yelping. These apparent contradictions amuse me. Please accept this token of my esteem while I attempt the fandango of the financially solvent, merry in the sunny meadow of overemployment: the Rakes' catchy little tune about attractive disaster called The World Was a Mess But His Hair Was Perfect.

Someday soon I'm gonna need new shoes, and at least two of them will be red.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Friday Music Blogging: Slippery People Edition

Observe the growing catalogue of histories being rewritten before your very eyes.

Hat tip: mr. blogenfreude.

Crossposted at Blanton's & Ashton's.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It's Okay, It Goes This Way

Oh Blogosphere, my love for you is pure. It pains me to leave you even for an hour. Still, a wild woman's gotta pay the bills, and baby, you know I always do. I'll be working, but I'll be thinking of no one but you. Well, maybe Peter Murphy, but don't you worry your pretty little head about it. He means nothing to me, baby, nothing.

Don't wait up.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Music Blogging: It Could Be You Edition

There are about a thousand fascinating things to talk about - later. This morning, a gentle rain is falling, the air off the river hits the wide college lawns and picks up the sweetness of recently cut grass. Nothing hurts much and I have yoga class after work. I am nibbling grapes at my desk. For this moment: a reminder from the Guillemots to savor the little joys. I forget this sometimes.

Okay, that's enough gravity. I can't fight it without a sports bra.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Than I've Ever Been

This song has been on my mind, thanks to Altrok Radio.

Now it's on yours.

In other news, Lupe loaned me the new Tori. I have not learned to love it yet. Tori finally made a Kate Bush album, which is okay with me. I like Kate Bush.