Thursday, January 31, 2008

I am so lazy that ...

I just purchased shoes designed to tone my legs as I walk. Also they were expensive. Also they are ugly.

But I quit the gym four months ago, because I hated it, and now my fitness depends on my willpower (ha!). This means that every morning I set my alarm for an hour before I have to shower so that I can do my pilates DVDs, but inevitably I hit snooze five times and finally roll out of bed in a self-loathing and defeated mood. Good times.

Anyway, so I've finally hit a completely shameless plateau of laziness, hence the shoes. I will update you shortly as to whether they were a complete waste of money or only a partial waste.
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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

When Politics Go Right for a Change


I think my friend Lin says it best:

Don't let the door hit you in your crappy-mayor ass on the way out, bub.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Apparently I Never Shared These

All of the photos from the wedding, dear friends and relatives, that I was too lazy busy to send. Oh, and a more edited (and, thus, shorter) slide show version can be found here.
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GIT 'ER DONE!

So, as you know I've been watching a lot of "Friday Night Lights" lately (not anymore, though -- sob! -- I'm done with the first season and the second season isn't sold on iTunes!). Anyway, Coach Taylor -- the coach of the Dillon H.S. Panthers -- is just full of inspirational yelling. I often think that if Coach Taylor was my boss, I would get a lot more done. After years of working for passive-aggressive, sensitive artsy types, a strong, no-bullshit, baseball cap-wearing Texan would be a welcome change:

OLD WAY
Una: I'm having some trouble keeping everyone on deadline.
Boss (checking email, smoking cigarette): Uh .... what?
Una: I need some guidance.
Boss: Let's have a meeting at 3. (Note: THIS MEETING WILL NEVER HAPPEN.)

NEW WAY

Una: I'm having some trouble --
Coach Taylor: Now stop right there. I don't want to hear about the trouble. You are the managing editor of this publication, are you not?
Una: Uh ... yeah.
Coach Taylor: So you're the MANAGER, LaMarche. Everyone is counting on you to GIT 'ER DONE! Do you want to let this team down?
Una: No, sir.
Coach Taylor: Then forget your troubles. Get on the ball, girl. We ain't got all day. Now git.
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Monday, January 28, 2008

Curmudgeon of the Week: Jesse


This week I throw some testosterone into this blog with its first male Curmudgeon of the Week. Jesse went to Wesleyan and bears a striking resemblance to a young Billy Joel. He lives in Brooklyn, and spends his time writing a novel and playing music around town solo and with his band NYCSmoke (www.nycsmoke.com). He works on a construction site in the East Village, and spends his lunch breaks glaring bitterly into shop windows, hoping to scare away loud chewers and college students!

Why do you deserve this honor?
Because I am an angry young man, fast on my way to becoming a bitter old man

You are Dante. List, in order, your nine circles of Hell, from tamest to most eye-searingly terrible.
1. Loud chewers
2. Insipid NYU students gabbing in otherwise quiet East village coffee shop
3. People who talk about 80's New York nostalgically as if that were
the only era when anything significant happened... Especially when the
person in question was 8 when the decade ended.
4. "Hey Bra, check out the mad hot chicks in this club. Word"
5. Busywork busywork busywork
6. Talentless hacks up in my shit!
7. A doctors office filled with middle-aged rump-growers, preaching
the latest in ignorant "conventional wisdom"
8. People who use quotation marks because they think it emphasizes
their point. People who use jargon, and use it incorrectly.
9. High School

You've been arrested for murder. Who did you kill and why?
Someone who hurt my girlfriend, family, friends

If you could eradicate one thing from the Earth, what would it be?
Loud chewers (see above)

You are on a cliff with Carrot Top, George W. Bush, and Ann Coulter. You have to marry one of them. One you have a one night stand with and never have to see again. The other, you can throw off the cliff to a painful
death. What do you do?


This is difficult. I am incredibly annoyed by Carrot Top, but do not
wish him ill. I couldn't kill Dubya, as he would instantly become the
subject of fawning memorial services.
So...

b. Marry Dubya, kill Ann, get down with Carrot Top

Thanks for playing, Jesse! I suspect Carrot Top swings your way, if you ever have to make good on that answer.

If you would like to be curmudgeon of the week, email me!
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iLove iPod

For Christmas, my dad gave me a new iPod. I had an iPod -- one of the original, five-pound versions -- but one day in 2006 a sad face appeared on the screen and from then on it refused to work, presumably the result of clinical iDepression. Being incredibly stubborn and prone to abusing inanimate objects, I decided to "fix" my iPod by banging it on the side of a table, in much the same way that people try to loosen jar lids. To my surprise and delight, this tough love method actually worked, and iPod started up again. Every time it shut down, I would just whack it a few times, but eventually it began to dent and finally died for good. Jeff likes to tell this story as an example of my impulsive and ill-advised behavorial tendencies, to which I say, but it worked! Sometimes things just need a good smack.

Anyway, I had been living without iPod for almost a year. I love music, but I don't tend to listen to it much at home, so without my iPod I was living a largely music-free life. Until today. Today I finally loaded all of my music into my new, whisper-thin iPod and pressed "Shuffle Songs" as I set out for the subway. And it was .... magic. For one thing, I forgot how much I like walking to music. I like to pretend it's the soundtrack to my life. Usually I pretend whatever I'm listening to is playing over the opening credits of a movie, of which I am the star. Or sometimes, if the singer if female, I pretend that either a) I am singing the song in a crowded nightclub, and everyone is impressed that I have written such a masterpiece, or b) that I am doing a kick-ass karaoke rendition in front of one of the following groups of people: my bosses and co-workers; all of my favorite celebrities; my entire high school class; a convention of all of my ex-boyfriends. This is an old habit -- when I was in 6th grade I would listen to Madonna's "Immaculate Collection" on my walkman over and over and pretend that I was performing for all of P.S. 282. I even worked out choreography: during "Like a Prayer", I would rise on a rotating silver platform while the gospel choir sang below me. I have what may be called an overactive imagination.

The other great thing about having an iPod again is that so many of the songs on it are like time capsules. I don't listen to a lot of contemporary music -- most of my favorite songs and albums were made between 1964 and 1993 -- so most of what I have takes me back in time, back to adolescence and first love, back to college and falling for Jeff. This morning, in fact, the shuffle function (my fave, as I like to pretend whatever comes on is meaningful and fated) played "Such Great Heights" by the Postal Service, which I listened to on repeat when Jeff and I started dating, and which I put on the first mix CD I ever made for my now-husband (ironically, Jeff hates this and pretty much every other song that speaks deeply to me about our relationship). Just hearing it made my step a little quicker, my heart beat a little faster. It made the impending workweek seem a little less terrible.

Then, of course, "Rico Suave" came on and I had to skip past it. Some things will never have any meaning.
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Friday, January 25, 2008

Obamarama

In case you've been wondering where I stand regarding the Democratic race for the nomination, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and my father says it much more eloquently than I could -- and with nary a "fuck" or "bitch"!

Funnily enough, I watched the Iowa caucuses with my Dad and a few of his friends, who I'm sure started to regret my presence when, after a bottle of wine, I began crowing about how my generation doesn't want to vote for someone with boring politics and a Laura Bush haircut, and how Obama "rules".
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Spring Fashion Fights Against Scoliosis!

You can't swing a roll of nickels these days without hitting a freaking retarded fashion campaign. Remember those rib-cracking D&G corsets of last season? Well, feast your eyes on Balenciaga's answer to the age-old question: What can I wear to my intramural co-ed aborigine football tournament that will fetchingly conceal my back brace while expanding my hips to twice their natural size?


I'm not even going to talk about the shoes, except to say that while it is certainly novel to create the optical illusion of bow-legedness, being forced to tie that many laces will probably exacerbate whatever spinal curvature forced the buyer to purchase the outfit in the first place.
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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Offices of the Vanities

I have decided to write a TV pilot based on my office. It will be like "The West Wing" but instead of the White House, it will be set at a small magazine, and instead of changing the world, the characters will drive each other nuts and drink a lot.

Bidding starts now. Do I hear $10?
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Holly Go Homely: Friday Night Lights

I am too poor for TiVo (oh, right, and my block is in a cable wasteland, so even if I had the money I would be TiVo-less), so I have developed a dependence on the next best thing -- getting entire seasons of TV shows on Netflix and watching them all in a row while consuming vast quantities of junk food.

Everyone has been raving about "Friday Night Lights", so I finally ordered it to see what all the fuss is about.

I had been dragging my heels about FNL because I am not a fan of football. Mostly I just don't understand it; sometimes I think the inventors of football studied the female brain and based the rules on what women would not genetically be able to comprehend. All of the downs and penalties and possessions -- I can't keep them straight. It always just looks like a big crush of guys to me. And once I famously asked my uncle how many quarters there were in a game, although that's just plain stupidity, unrelated to the wide world of sports.

But "Friday Night Lights"? Rocks. The acting and the visual style and the writing are just good. The football scenes still confuse me, but it's different when you're watching fictional football -- the characters offer helpful comments/exposition and the music swells and you kind of just get what you're supposed to feel. As opposed to real-life football, where the announcers' dialogue isn't scripted so as to be dramatic and you don't get close-ups of the players' faces as they visibly emote.

My friend Cristina, who is possibly even more curmudgeonly and cynical than I am, says she was weeping by the end of the first episode. And Jeff -- who is sooooo much pickier than I am about entertainment -- likes it. It's like that Life cereal ad -- Jeffy likes it! So you should watch.
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lessons on Borneo

This weekend, sick in bed (well, on couch), I decided to watch a marathon of the Planet Earth I got Jeff for Christmas. I learned a lot about various mammals and cave-dwellers, but what stuck with me was this lesson: never go to Borneo.

Okay, maybe the land itself is fine, but don't go to Deer Cave and don't eat "Bird's Nest Soup". I'll explain:

Deer Cave is one of the biggest caves in the world (do not take my word for this, however; I was hopped up on DayQuil). It is home to many creatures, but its two largest populations are bats and cockroaches!


What you see are 4 million bats exiting the cave.

Anyway, so the bats live on the ceiling (natch). And they shit on the floor (logical). The pile of bat shit is 11 meters (that's 36 feet) high. And it's covered in cockroaches, who live off of the "nutrients" (read: shit). And if a bat happens to fall into the big pile of shit, the cockroaches eat it!

An only slightly less disgusting fact about Deer Cave is that a bunch of birds live there, too. The birds build nests on the face of the limestone, little cups made not out of twigs and feathers, but carefully crafted of strands of the birds' saliva. It gets worse. People risk life and limb climbing up into the cave to harvest these saliva nests because they are a delicacy. They are the main ingredient in "Bird's Nest Soup."

That said, you should probably head to Borneo if you need a major operation. No kidding. Jeff and I watched Sicko last night, Michael Moore's healthcare documentary, and an American who goes to the hospital in a foreign country will likely pay about five cents for treatment and medication that goes for many thousands of dollars in the U.S. So if you need a heart transplant or something, I recommend hopping a plane to Paris and then keeling over once you de-board. Try to act surprised, like you didn't already know it was going to happen, and then let the French take care of you for the cost of a single le Big Mac.
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Friday, January 18, 2008

I Went Out! I Went Out!

Last night (well, technically today) I saw Cloverfield at 12:01 am. This was an amazing feat for me, as my internal body clock is only wired to be "awake" from 11 am to 8 pm, and sometimes even then I'm sleeping on the inside.

I went with Jeff and a bunch of friends, and even though I hadn't been overly excited to see it, I really liked the movie. I guess the best approximation I can give you is that it's Godzilla-meets-Alien in New York City, filmed in the style of The Blair Witch Project. And, before I tell you why I think a lot of people have their heads up their asses in regard to Cloverfield (Manohla Dargis, I'm looking at you), I need to give a few disclaimers.

1. I am not, generally, a sci-fi fan.
2. I have never seen Godzilla in any of its incarnations, nor do I have any desire to.
3. I went to film school and spent a lot of time (1998-2002) analyzing movies and breaking them down by scene, by theme, even by individual frame. I looked for meaning in every shitty little prop. HOWEVER. I am reformed. I now hate analyzing movies beyond their basic themes I hate it because I think it takes the fun out of it, especially when the movie in question was obviously made largely for entertainment value. In other words, sit around discussing Fassbinder all you want; Deep Impact has no deep meaning, so eat your popcorn and shut it.

Anyway, so basic Cloverfield overview: monster takes Manhattan, people freak out, people die, buildings fall. Much death and destruction.

So Ms. Dargis over at the Times says: "Like “Cloverfield” itself, [its] monster is nothing more than a blunt instrument designed to smash and grab without Freudian complexity or political critique." My friend Alex, a huge sci-fi dork (I think he'll take that as a compliment) blogged about the movie in much the same vein as Manohla, mentioning that in the original Godzilla, the monster is "such a sound horror film metaphor: Godzilla = Atrocity of Atomic Warfare (Hiroshima)", whereas Cloverfield "is a rejection of beauty ... of Godzilla's purity and his purism".

Okay. So. When exactly did it become impossible to just have a good old-fashioned monster who kills because they are a flesh-eating monster? Granted, I haven't seen Godzilla or the original King Kong, so I don't really know if those movies were meant to be, like, deep cultural critiques. However, that's not why you rent a movie. Nobody says, "It's been soooooo long since I saw a film deliver a great metaphor about atomic war. I know! Godzilla!" People say, "I'm in the mood to see a giant monster step on people and knock shit over. Yeah." Both Dargis and Alex make the argument that the filmmakers were trying to make a comment about 9/11 and terrorism, but honestly? Can you ever have a movie where buildings fall in New York now that doesn't recall 9/11? Peter Jackson's King Kong wasn't taken to task for being vulgar. And, why is it so "insensitive" of filmmakers to make a movie that has buildings falling? In a -- I'll say it again -- monster movie? I am a New Yorker, and maybe I'm insensitive, but it really doesn't bother me that much. Actually, it bothers me a lot less than something actually re-enacting 9/11. I know that Alex is probably right, that historically monsters in film represent political problems and collective fears and threat of discord and chaos, etc etc, but you know what? IT'S A MOVIE AIMED AT THIRTEEN YEAR-OLDS. WE ARE NOT TALKING THE LIVES OF OTHERS HERE, PEOPLE. IT. IS. A. GOD. DAMN. MONSTER MOVIE.

Phew. Sorry. I get angry when high-brow critics try to make fun of low-brow things just for their low-browness.

Dargis continues later on, after making the observation that one of the main characters films every single second of the action -- something I'll concede requires suspension of disbelief, but then again, it's also a stylistic choice to film it verite-style, and a key plot point is that the kids are filming everything themselves. Anyway, Dargis writes: "For a brief, hopeful moment, I thought the filmmakers might be making a point about how the contemporary compulsion to record the world has dulled us to actual lived experience, including the suffering of others — you know, something about the simulacrum syndrome in the post-Godzilla age at the intersection of the camera eye with the narcissistic “I.”

I sure the fuck never had that hope. Any movie with a giant goddamn monster in it best not be trying to feed me something as pretentious as that. I KNOW the world sucks. That's why I GO to movies, bitches! Manohla, sweetie, have your friends ever called you a "buzzkill"?

My point is best made by the very fact that Alex hated Cloverfield. He is the kind of film student who doesn't often like mindless popcorn flicks. He feeds on hidden themes and political allegories and words like "aesthetic" and "mise en scene" (however, at this point I should point out that Alex enjoyed Basic Instinct 2 -- arguably the most useless piece of crap every produced in the history of the world -- more than he liked this.) Anyway, Alex is hardwired to need more than just a monster and some bloody death. He needs meaning where sometimes there is none. Or at least that's how I see it when someone can't enjoy a dumb movie just for the fact that it's exhilarating and entertaining.

I mean, look, Cloverfield isn't a great movie. It will never make 10 Best lists or win awards. The acting's mediocre and the plot's ... well, unrealistic. But. It's a -- last time, folks -- monster movie. What, really, does it have to aspire to besides being scary? I liked it without thinking about it, without comparing it to anything, without searching for meaning. I just liked it. So call me low brow, call me a bad film student. I'll take that as a compliment.
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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Holly Go Homely: Working Girl


The other night when I came home, Jeff greeted me with a bottle of wine and a DVD of Working Girl, a legendary ‘80s movie that I had – gasp! – never seen. At first I thought, ‘What straight man rents Working Girl of his own volition?!’, but then I remembered that Jeff is on a Mike Nichols kick since we saw Charlie Wilson’s War last week. I relaxed and embraced the beautiful duet that is red wine and a young Harrison Ford.

My expectations for the movie were high, but they were met with gusto. Melanie Griffith’s acting – much like Andie MacDowell’s -- usually drives me to want to hurt small animals (it’s genetic – try to sit through Tippi Hedren’s eye-crossingly terrible performance in Marnie ... not even the young Sean Connery can save you), but in this she is actually tolerable (much like Andie stopped sucking temporarily to make sex, lies and videotape), even likable, compared to Sigourney Weaver’s self-satisfied power-80s bitch. Melanie plays a big-haired Staten Islander who wears scrunch socks and high-top Reeboks, so it’s kind of hard not to fall in love. And Joan Cusack as her friend is exactly what I want my secretary to look, talk, and act like should I ever find myself in the enviable position of having one. Harrison Ford is bumbling and charming, not yet having gone through his Jack Nicholson transformation of the early aughts (see also: being perpetually stoned, wearing sunglasses indoors, dating a stick figure), and Alec Baldwin suddenly loses twenty years and 70 pounds to become a young, guido Alec Baldwin with a truly impressive growth of chest hair. There’s a plot, too, but this movie hardly needs one – it is awesome by the end of the opening credits. Also by the end of my second glass of wine (which came first? One forgets).

Anyway, Netflix this pronto. Try not to watch the end with a mixture of elation and depression – “Oh! She’s just another corporate cog in the giant wheel of life! But she’s so... happy!” – cursing Carly Simon for rocking so hard, forcing you to cry while your husband looks on, shaking his head in shame.
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Brain Dead. Job Sux. TTYL!

I could write a really depressing post about how tired and burnt out I am, or how much I want to rob a bank and run away to a fruit orchard somewhere and forget I ever worked at a magazine. Instead, read this. It kind of sums up my malaise. Plus this way I don't have to waste my last brain cell trying to form sentences.

Update: I didn't notice until now that the researcher in the article works at Ball State University! BWA-HA-HA-HA! (Hey, I have to take any laughs I can get).
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Monday, January 14, 2008

I Am Somebody

Jeff and I are continuing our Sesame Street stroll down memory lane, and I came across this clip, starring a very young Jesse Jackson, that I don't remember ever seeing as a kid. I wish I had. I wish this kind of thing could get by network execs today.


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Sunday, January 13, 2008

They Made a Game I Can't Refuse


So, I'm addicted to playing online Mafia. There, I said it. It started as just a simple party game but now it's on Facebook and I. Can't. Stop. For those of you unaccustomed to the Mafia experience, a summary: Imagine Dungeons and Dragons. OK, stop laughing. Now imagine that instead of dwarves and wizards and such, the characters are townspeople, Mafia hitmen, and police officers. Basically the game goes like this: the computer randomly assigns roles to each of the 10-15 players. Roles are not public, except that the Mafia members know who each other are. The game is played in rounds of "day" and "night". During the "day", all players have to vote to execute one person, The Lottery-style. They base their decisions on who they think is a Mafia hitman. At "night" the Mafia members get to murder one innocent, and the police officer gets to investigate one person (i.e find out if they are Mafia or townspeople). So the game goes on -- to "play" is to write messages on a common board stating your theories and/or defending your innocence/pointing fingers at others -- until either the town kills all of the Mafia or the Mafia murders all of the town.

Trust me, it's addictive. For one, it's kind of a logic game, which I love -- if so-and-so is Mafia, then so-and-so who's been accusing them can't be, etc. Plus, you get to execute your friends based on very shaky evidence -- super fun, and not likely to ever happen in real life, assuming you never become a member of a militant terrorist group. Finally, it's just an excuse to play with your friends, like in kindergarten (e.g. "Okay, I'm the mommy and you're my baby", but instead "I'm a cop and you're a cold-blooded killer.") Plus, there are no teachers or moms to put a moratorium on bad language and threats! Fun!

Apart from the obvious implication of a long-dormant bloodlust, my obsession with this game is truly taking over my life. I log on at work multiple times a day to see what's happening, spend my evenings strategizing by phone with my Mafia cohorts and/or paranoid townies. I also start using in a disturbing gamespeak that, if overheard by a real cop, could get me in serious trouble ("So we'll kill Betsy tonight and then try to kill the cop tomorrow"). Jeff just shakes his head when I pace the kitchen, indulging in elaborate strategies with friends. He doesn't get it. But then again, I don't get D&D. That, I tell myself, is for nerds. Mafia, on the other hand, is for highly intelligent strategists. And, yes, I am going to keep telling myself that.
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Friday, January 11, 2008

Closing Week Excuse

I know I'm getting off to a sloooow start this year, but the magazine is closing and seriously? It is like waking up to a fresh hell every morning. Also I am breaking out and getting my stress canker sores. I'm pretty.

A brief summation of the week:

- It was 67 degrees in January. What up, climate change?
- Then it was 45 degrees, but I didn't check the weather and froze my ass off.
- Cashmere Mafia sucks. I only saw 2 minutes but it sucks. More on this later.
- Julia Roberts, in Charlie Wilson's War, looks like a transvestite. I find this troubling.
- I got my palm read. I have a "true capability for original philosophical thought". Stop laughing.

More on Monday, I swear. Oh! And I need curmudgeons of the week. Email me!
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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

You're Damned if You Do/Don't: Proof That the Finance Gods Hate Me With a Burning Passion

So, funny story. Actually, sad. Very sad.

I never have any money. You devoted readers know this.
You know that I have often struggled to pay the minimum on my credit card, which I blame for about 99% of my stress and thus charge my anti-anxiety meds to each month.

I have come to regard the cold, clammy panic of near-bankruptcy as a permanent facet of my personality, giving me that pathetic, paranoid edge that had been missing from my repertoire of neuroses until 2003, when I applied for my first credit card (Note to Past Una, if you somehow come to the future and read this: DON'T DO IT! SAVE YOURSELF! IT'S TOO LATE FOR ME!). So I wasn't surprised when. logging onto my credit account, a bright yellow message telling me that my account suggested risky activity and that I needed to call customer service, like, NOW.

When I read "risky activity", I immediately thought one of two things:
A. Someone has assumed my identity and has cleaned out the $5.49 of credit I have remaining, or
B. Some bitch at AmEx is going to tell me that I should stop attempting to pay in socks full of pennies and used Lotto tickets.

Imagine my surprise when I heard what was actually wrong:
"Ms. LaMarche, we see that you made a large payment toward your card that's more than you usually pay, so we put a hold on the account until the check clears."

So ... because I paid my bill on time, and paid more than the minimum for once ... they're ... putting a hold on my account? How SAD is it that I am so broke that when I pay MORE than the minimum they HOLD my account for the check to clear! Because they KNOW I'm so broke that I might be, I don't know, writing "make-believe" checks and trying to cash them all over town.

Thanks, Amex. Thanks a LOT. Your sock is gonna be full of brass knuckles next month.
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Monday, January 7, 2008

Dispatch from the Nuthouse

Hi! I'm on deadline and totally swamped, but I did an interview with Jess Weixler last week that you can read here. I would have posted it Friday, but Firefox decided not to work, and Safari joined in out of solidarity, so my internets suck at the moment.

Okay, next, go see my Mom's art show! It will be awesome. You can read about it here or here. The opening reception is this Thursday from 6-9 pm. There will be snacks! Below, one small piece of my mother's genius.


Sorry this is so rushed, but I'm totally crazed!
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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Holly GoHomely: One Day Early, One Time Only, Scintillating Introductory Post (With Special Literary Bonus!!)

So, I am going to title some blog posts from now on as Holly GoHomely, colon, something witty. I said I would post these on Friday, but actually I think I’ll post them whenever I feel like it. Why impose schedules on this blog? I like to think of it as whimsical; if it were a person, it would have impromptu dance parties in its underwear and sometimes sleep too late and forget to blog. Oh, wait ...

Anyway, so Holly GoHomely is a response to a coworker of mine, who blogs about going out to fabulous parties under the pseudonym Holly GoNightly. I do not generally go to fabulous parties. I generally go home and watch television. I have spent entire weekend days indoors with Grey’s Anatomy, and I seriously consider staying home from work when it is cold. So I figured Holly GoHomely fit me to a tee.

Now, I love recapping movies and TV shows, but this first post is not that, partially because I’m broke and can’t afford to go to the movies and partially because the WGA strike has taken all halfway decent TV off the air indefinitely (as hard as it is to believe, even I have my standards). This post is about an interesting phenomenon in my life as of late. It happened without my even wanting to, or even trying. It’s new and scary, but I’m dealing with it well, I think. Brace yourselves, people.

I’m reading actual books.

No, no, it gets crazier. I haven’t picked up a trashy magazine in weeks. I haven’t watched a real TV show in weeks. On Tuesday night, Jeff and I watched Planet Earth, the BBC documentary. Last night, we spent three hours reading quietly. And here’s the craziest thing: I kind of love it.

Gone are the bright, flashy, ADD-inducing layouts of UsWeekly; normal books have gentle, soothing pages full of text. Gone is the trivial mind-sucking of reality television; watching a nature documentary I actually learned about wild African dogs and Impalas (the mammal, not the Chevy). Simple as it may seem, taking a break from popular culture has had the effect of a weekend in the country for me: lying on my couch reading Born Standing Up by Steve Martin, the air is still and quiet, and I feel almost like I’m living in a different time and place, where TV doesn’t exist and I have to wake up at 5am to till soil or something ... OK, I mean, obviously nobody’s waking up at 5am for anything other than a carbon monoxide alarm, but you get the idea. For years I’ve been relaxing by zoning out to crap and now I’m relaxing by zoning out the crap and focusing on peace and quiet.

Don’t get all excited, Mom – I’m not exactly saved. I mean, I’m sure I’ll watch my share of TV and read my share of gossip rags in the years to come (although part of the reason I’ve stopped is that even I don’t know the people they cover these days – I’m old! I’m old! I spend all of my time reading and vacuuming! HELP!). For now, though, I’m enjoying the novelty of a good, long read – a pleasure I haven’t truly immersed myself in since I was in high school, when I used to lie in the sun with a stack of crackers and Jane Austen, losing track of the hours, drinking in the words like mother’s milk. And yes, I just got all flowery and rhapsodic and poetic because I am reading real books and that is what that does to a burgeoning writer.

This is Holly GoHomely, out.
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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year's Shenanigans


Every New Year's eve, my parents kid me about my plans, warning me not to drink too much and to be safe getting home. In general they make my life sound far more dangerous and exhilarating than it is. I mean, yes, the party was in Bushwick, which has some bad parts, and yes, there was alcohol and possibly something else involved, but there is no doubt that my friends and I have finally crossed that intangible precipice that separates youth from old farthood. Here's proof: take a dozen intelligent twenty-somethings, feed them lots of beer, and see what they talk about. Here are some highlights from my New Year's Eve (which, by the way, was awesome despite the fact that I am old):

1. An impassioned debate regarding Babe: Pig in the City and its artistic merit;
2. An impassioned monologue comparing Rubick's Cube to Simon, ending with the sentence "Simon can kiss my ass.";
3. The unprovoked assertion that "Elizabeth Kucinich is my kind of woman.";

And there were Rice Krispies Treats for snacks. So don't worry, Mom and Dad. I'm not getting into any trouble. And I'm not voting Kucinich, no matter how hot his wife is.
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