Saturday, December 27, 2008

2009 - International Year of Astronomy

For the 400th anniversary of Galileo's most important discoveries (stuff like the phases of Venus and the moons of Jupiter), 2009 has been named the International Year of Astronomy. I'm sure all sorts of great scholarly events will be happening and scientist guys will be meeting and discussing issues of great import. For me, it means lots of breathtaking and amazing new images all over the place. I can't wait!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wow, I've been gone a long time

I think that's mostly because I haven't had anything to say. What little I thought was worth sharing has ended up (as I predicted) on my facebook page. Boy, managing one's online life is taking more and more time. I'm a little worried that taking care of those social obligations is making me stupid. When I can poke someone or leave a one-line comment or give them a goofy little cypber-"gift" why should I take the time or make the effort to think in longer sentences? I hope it's just an end-of-year thing that will pass once all the holiday festivity overabundance of chocolate and alcohol is done with.

I found out that I was not accepted into the prestigious writers' group I had applied to. Of course I'm disappointed but I always thought it was a long shot. I'm pretty sure my work isn't edgy enough for them. It's much better thinking that than that my work isn't good enough. I wish they had included a critique. That would have been very helpful. But my ego is not dashed to bits. I have received enough positive feedback to know that my work isn't shit. I know it could be better. It can always be better. It's all about the process, baby. So, the process goes on. I will keep flogging my little play (which happens to be SO timely and relevant it's ridiculous!) to theaters around the country. And I will keep trying to come up with a way (that is to say, money) to produce it myself. And I will keep working on my next project. And all that other stuff that we indomitable artists do in the face of insurmountable odds.

And by the way, Merry Christmas to all.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Yet another thing to waste time on

After being harangued and bugged and pushed and prodded (okay, that might be a little excessive), I have finally gone and stuck myself on facebook. One reason I resisted for so long is that, knowing how easily distracted I am, I will end up spending yet more of my already endangered free time goofing around there and not doing what I should be doing, which is writing.

Okay, it is fun. Kind of. At least I was able to find one decent picture of myself to stick up there. Now I officially exist. Seriously, it's getting to be like that, isn't it? If you don't have a page on facebook and a blog and a site for your photos, people might think you aren't real. And then I think, what if my online self is way more interesting than my real one? Now I have something new to worry about, too.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Quantum of Sadness

My camera broke! My cute little Canon companion! I turned it on the other day to catch some pics of the wonderful November sky and the screen flickered and broke up into lines and then went black. (Sigh...remember the days when cameras didn't need to be turned on? They just worked.) Anyway, I changed the batteries, even though I was fairly sure this wasn't the problem. And I was right. The only thing I can think of was that it fell from the table to the floor. But it was ensconced in its nice cushiony case and it fell onto a soft rug. It was not a big clunk but more of a little plop. And I'm not sure but I think I may have used it after that. Well, whatever the cause, it's non-functional. I don't know if they bother to fix these guys or will just tell me to get a new one. Well guess what, I don't have a spare $200 to replace it now. Not fair.

Friday, November 07, 2008

It Was A Glorious Night

It's taken me a couple of days to reflect on Tuesday before being able to put it in perspective. No, I'm not a ga-ga zealot, but having been through a good few presidential elections, I can say that this one really felt different. I don't remember ever misting up and shedding a few tears at the outcome before. I don't remember being among crowds of strangers who were all so universally transported with jubilation. Okay, so I live in the bluest part of a traditionally blue state but this was different. It wasn't just the satisfaction of "our guy" winning. It was the shedding of a great weight. It was the definitive marking of a change in thinking. Suddenly I felt safer, personally and as part of a nation.

I spent Tuesday evening in a bar of random choice with a friend who only moved to this country about 6 years ago. I'm pretty jaded a lot of the time but I was really proud to be with him to see America at its best. By the time we left the bar at 12:15 or so, we were best friends with everyone in there. It was better than watching the 7th game of the World Series in there. Even though things pretty much suck in so many ways right now, at that moment life was as good as it gets.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Yummy Halloween

I seem to be on a cupcake binge lately. But what the hell. These little guys were my Halloween creations. Reviews indicate they were a big hit. What's next? Maybe turkey cupcakes. I mean cupcakes with little turkeys on them, not turkey-flavored.

And yes, my iPhoto is working again. And it didn't cost me anything! My friend's husband offered to see what he could do. As it turned out, he could do everything that needed to be done. All apps are back up and running. What can I say, I'm thrilled. Especially about the free part. I promised him (them) brunch in payment, which was happily accepted. Some days, not everything is crap. Some days things work out okay.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Shiny Clean Birthday to me!

It's my birthday today and I am celebrating by taking today (and tomorrow) off from work. My agenda for today is very full:

1) make french toast for breakfast (done)

2) clean the bathroom and scrub the soap scum off the tub walls (done)

3) spend some time ambling aimlessly around the internet (in the process)

4) take my laptop in to get the damn iPhoto fixed

5) go to the dermatologist and see what this strange irritation on my lip is all about

6) go running

7) make cupcakes

8) enjoy said cupcakes along with some champagne and a few of my best buds

Like I said, this is a very ambitious agenda but the reward at the end should provide enough incentive.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I love my Mac, but...

Every time I open my Powerbook G4 and turn it on, I think, "this is the sexiest computer anywhere." You can't dispute that. I had PC's for years and never did I ever think, "wow, I love my computer." There are so many things I absolutely adore about my Mac. One of the most important for me (because I write so much) is the touch of the keyboard. I tried for years to find a PC that had the same touch but was never able to. And then there's all the other neat, intuitive stuff it does. HOWEVER...of late my dear little Powerbook has developed a few quirks and glitches that are really starting to piss me off. For instance, my iPhoto won't open any more. The consensus is, there's a corrupt file in there, but I can't get to it to remove it. Then there's the whole browser issue. For some weird reason, my Firefox disappeared and refuses to launch any more. And Safari has a whole buttload of issues. One big one is that a lot of the functions on Blogger aren't functional through Safari. So I can't embed video clips and stuff in here. I'm thinking it's time for a brainwashing. Time to take this puppy in for servicing. I'm wincing in advance, though, because my extended warranty ran out over a year ago. So I'm probably looking at $150 or $200 to get it back into shape. Of course that's a whole lot less than a new computer, isn't it? Sigh. I wish this techno revolution would be over already and they started building these things to last for 10 years. Or at least offer longer warranties.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Good Deed of the Week

Yesterday I participated in an activity that pretty much everyone would say was a commendable thing to do. I was in the annual walk against breast cancer that takes place in the city. There were probably about 50,000 other people who did it too so that in itself was not so unusual. A co-worker whose aunt and grandma had breast cancer organized the team. It's a very personal cause for her. I love to walk and I figured I could help raise a few bucks so I signed on. I did in fact raise $100, not much but still worthwhile. But here's where I get to the part that confuses me. The way the event was set up, it wasn't a "thon" type of thing where people pledge so much per mile, or whatever. We were just soliciting donations and then we were walking in this non-competitive event. It really was just a walk in the park. In fact, it really wouldn't have mattered whether I walked or not. I can understand cancer survivors and their families walking - there's a whole emotional and spiritual component to it for them. But for the rest of us, the walk was really beside the point. Okay, it was a nice communal event, but I didn't speak to anyone other than the folks on my team. And I hate team spirit, so the cheerleaders along the side of the road jumping up and down and waving their pompoms didn't do anything for me. And I especially hated all the over-caffeinated volunteers who would scream encouragement in my ear as I walked by. Seriously, I thought I was going to bust an eardrum. I'm not really a scrooge, truly I'm not. And I was very happy to be able to raise a little money to help find a cure for breast cancer. But I still don't understand the walk thing. However, directly after it was finished, I met a friend for brunch and downed a few mimosas without feeling the least bit guilty.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Jury Duty, Part II

After a sextuple-murder case, pretty much anything else is gonna seem like small potatoes. We all got called in for selection on an assault case which seemed to involve a bunch of drunk guys at 4:30 in the morning. Apparently one guy was being chased or threatened by several other guys and he took a baseball bat to somebody's head, or other body part. It all seemed to boil down to a he-said-he-said. I didn't even get called into the jury box before they picked enough people. At that point it was 5:05 on the Friday before a 3-day weekend and the judge just excused us all. I have now gotten called for jury duty three times and have never been picked to serve on a jury. However, I can hold my head high knowing I fulfilled my civic duty. It's kind of like getting a colonoscopy I guess -- you don't really want to do it but you know you should, and after it's done you're relieved cause you know you don't have to do it again for a long time.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Hey, it's just like Law and Order -- only real!

The jurors filed slowly into the courtroom, looking around as they moved up the center aisle. Fill this row, then that row, then this one...until they were all seated. The men at the lawyers' tables looked them over, sizing them up, like lions deciding which wildebeests to cut out of the herd. Then the judge addressed the filled courtroom.

"The case before us is a murder case. There are actually six separate indictments for six separate murders. The prosecutors will allege that the defendant committed these six murders at six separate times. Five of these were murders for hire; the other murder was committed in the course of a robbery."

And I'm thinking "ooh, this is just like Law and Order, only I'm not watching it on TV, I'm sitting in the courtroom! The judge is talking to me (along with about 80 or so other people). But then he got to the part where he said that since it's such a complex case, he expected it to last at least 20 trial days, spread out over the period of about 6 weeks or so. And since it would so long, anyone who would not be able to commit that much time could excuse themselves. Sadly I got up and left the courtroom. So did lots of other people. But a whole bunch stayed. Didn't any of the work, I wondered. But for whatever reasons, they got the chance to be on the jury of that very cool case. The rest of us went back to the jury room. But no more cases were coming down yesterday so we all got excused by noon.

Normally it would be three days in a row. But today is the Jewish holiday, so we didn't go in. And then Monday is Columbus Day so there's no court then. So my three days are being spread out over almost a week. Of course if I get picked on a jury, it will be longer. But there's no chance that there will be another case as interesting as yesterday's.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Farewell, my dear Elantra

I have come to a very painful decision. I have decided to sell my car. Not because I want to but because I don't drive it enough any more to justify the expense. And frankly I can't afford the expense. Between car payments and garage rent and insurance, it's just too much for me. It's a lovely deep red 2005 Hyundai Elantra hatchback with a 5-speed stick. They call it a 5-door but really it's a hatchback. It looks kind of like the Saab 93. For a modestly priced car it's pretty neat. But like I said, I can't keep it. It was kind of like fate because a friend of my aunt's told me he was interested in buying it before I even seriously considered selling it. So I have a ready buyer.

I have lived in the city with and without a car, and there's a whole different relationship to space and mobility. Maybe part of it is that the city is an island. Not having car always made me feel kind of stuck. Getting out was an ordeal - maybe only in my mind, but that's how it felt. The instant we got a car, suddenly I felt free, like I could go anywhere anytime. Not that I did, but that I could. I don't know why but it's always been important to me to feel like I could get out. (Some weird psychological issue perhaps?) But it's totally true that I will lose my ability for spontaneous mobility. Things are different now, though. There are zipcars. So I could use those to do take my weekend shopping jaunts. And when I want to go farther I can always rent a car. But it won't be MINE. Maybe once I do it, I'll feel relieved. I don't know. But right now I am feeling very sad. It's weird, it's like I'm grieving for a car.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I know the feeling

But if not, where am I?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's time to stand up for Big City Values!

I don't know about the rest of you, but I have had just about enough of hearing certain candidates heaping condemnation all over big city values. Apparently only Small Town Values are worth anything these days. Well, my first problem is, I haven't heard her, oops, I mean them, explain exactly how these supposed STV's are superior - or for that matter - different from BCV's. Since nobody has answered that to my satisfaction, me and my effete, over-sophisticated, secular urban buddies and I have been trying to figure out what Big City Values are. Here's what we've come up with so far:

1) Crossing against the light and jaywalking with impugnity.

2) Teaching our children what cheeses go with what fruits.

3) Eating bagels and cream cheese on Sunday mornings.

4) Overtipping the pizza and Chinese food delivery guys.

5) Going to the movies after work on weeknights.

This is as far as we've gotten but I'm pretty darn proud of the list so far. This has got legs for sure! I'm getting ready to start the campaign in favor of Big City Values. Look out, small towns everywhere!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The French have a word for it

Basically everybody in France goes on vacation for the month of August. We all know this. But what I didn't know until today was that the coming back from vacation and starting school and going back to work is this whole big thing. They even have a word for it: rentree (with an accent over the first e). Like it looks, it means re-entry, as in re-entering the "real world". Everything starts up again. People make resolutions, like we do on New Year. There are all these articles in the magazines about it, like "How to Make Rentree as Smooth as Possible" or "The 10 Must-Haves for Rentree." Weird, huh? Well, it's only weird because we don't have anything remotely like that here in the land of "What Vacation?" How ironic that in the so-called Land of the Free, we have less free time than anybody because we're always working. Imagine a month of doing essentially nothing. So much nothing that experts make money telling people how to get their lives in gear.

This summer has been remarkable only in terms of the weather. It's been stellar. It's been one astoundingly gorgeous day after another. Unfortunately I have spent most of them in a windowless office. But I'm not going into that now. As sad as I am to see summer go, I am now counting the days until the Large Hadron Collider goes online at CERN in Geneva on September 20th.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I really am tired of worrying about money. I've been doing it for way more years than I care to think about. And it always seems to happen that just when I think I'm in a pretty good position and I can save a little more, something comes up and I'm back to square one again. They promised raises at work a YEAR AGO and they still haven't come through. All of this makes me cranky and also depressing to be around. I don't want to talk about it any more.

I did indulge in a movie last weekend. I finally saw The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger was beyond spectacular. But the rest of the film -- eh. I thought it was about an hour too long. I thought that it was full of a lot of crazy pyrotechnics and fights that didn't go anywhere. I thought the plot was muddled. I thought everyone tried very hard but the story didn't know where it was going or what it wanted to say. Of course I'll watch Christian Bale in anything. I can't wait to see him as John Connor. But I have to say, I liked Batman Begins way, way better.

Friday, August 08, 2008

2008: The Year the Olympics Jumped the Shark

Color me cranky. Color me a miserable misanthrope. But I think that the Olympics have finally been totally subsumed by the onmivorous monsters Marketing and Spectacle. What does any of this have to do with athletic competition? Not a thing! And not only are the organizers of the opening ceremonies making me crazy, how about the TV commentators, who are trying to interpret everything and impute to everything some ancient and weighty meaning? AAAAaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!! Shut the fuck up already!!!!

Having my admittedly puny insight into Chinese (non)culture and (non)ideology, I know that they all go gaga over glittery spectacles with absolutely no substance. So okay, they've got a few thousand years of history to draw on, but they're doing it in such a phony, self-serving way, it's almost laughable. I think the opening ceremonies started to go downhill in 1984 in L.A., when dozens of grand pianos rose up out of the stadium floor, or something. I don't remember it too clearly. But I remember being slightly freaked out as I tried to figure out what they had to do with sports. From then on, it's been one lunatic spectacle after another. And the Chinese, being consumate experts at lunatic spectacle, have just put the icing on the freaking cake.

Okay, here's another idea. How about making the opening ceremonies a competitive event in the games? That way, every country could compete in putting on the gaudiest, showiest, most ridiculous event. I think it's a great idea. But I've been totally turned off to watching any of the actual sports events.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The most incredible news that almost was

A friend of my brother writes for some aviation publication. He gets to cover the NASA missions and space stuff. When I see him we talk about it. Yesterday my brother told me that he heard from his friend that there might be some REALLY BIG NEWS coming out of NASA within a week or two. He said that they were keeping it very tightly under wraps, but seemingly the word "diatom" was being tossed about. ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT THEY FOUND EVIDENCE OF LIFE ON MARS????????? I was beside myself with excitement. What in the world could possibly be more amazing and wonderful?

Well, it didn't take that long for it to come out. Now, I shouldn't get too disappointed because as the NASA guys say, they don't know what they have. And maybe that's their way of saying without saying. Maybe they already know it for sure but can't say until they can prove beyond a crumb of doubt. Or maybe it was just rumor that ran away with itself. But for a day, it felt like anything was possible. It may still happen. It will still happen eventually. I just really really really hope it's soon.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Kissing my baby goodbye

No, I don't mean the kid. I mean THE PLAY! I have finally started sending it out - submitting it to theatres for production. I'm not nervous and I wasn't afraid to let it go. It's just that everything takes so freaking long to get done! Everybody wants different information. Some want the whole thing, some only want ten pages. Some want a 2 paragraph synopsis, some want a 2 page synopsis. Some want a cover letter. You get the idea. Surprisingly, writing the synopsis was really difficult. But it's done. Huge sense of relief and medium-sized sense of accomplishment. Now I just have to wait. Tony Awards, here I come!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A fragile grasp on it all

Just when I think I've got a reasonable grasp on my life and things are running at least somewhat smoothly, it all goes to hell. In mere moments. Those being the moments my wayward offspring appeared at my door, big, fat suitcase in tow. This is the guy who for the last four years (give or take) has made his home in Shanghai, China. Last time he blew through town was over Christmas. Right after that he found his current girlfriend and then I hardly heard from him for weeks. But now that summer sizzles in Shanghai very much like New Orleans, he decided to bail and spend the summer here in the Northeast. There's also the part about how he's basically broke at the moment, but let's not go into that right now. It will make me mad all over again.

First let me make very clear that I am crazy about this guy. He's the smartest, funniest person I know. Spending time with him is always a hoot. But he has a very heavy footprint. He makes his presence known. He's got his own room and yet his crap has managed to cover nearly every available surface in my apartment. Shoes in the middle of the floor. Shirts on the back of the chair. Books on the dining table. Papers and notes on the kitchen counter. Towels on the sofa. You get the idea. I thought that when they grew up, I wouldn't have to deal with this kind of stuff any more. Oh no! Apparently it never ends.

So not only has he disrupted my tidy home, he's also up-ended my concentration, my schedule, basically my life. I can't use my computer when I want, and even if I can, I'm too distracted. I keep buying groceries and they keep disappearing. And I don't even want to talk about the bathroom!

I suppose it's my own fault. I kept telling him that he should spend more time here. Well, hell -- I missed him! Now that he's here, I'm looking forward to September when he packs up and goes home to China. Then at last I'll be able to clean my house and have it stay that way for more than a minute and a half.

Friday, July 04, 2008

What I learned on my road trip

1. It is close to impossible to get cell phone service in Vermont. The people who live there make jokes about it all the time. Like, "if you got up on your roof and wave your phone around, you might get a signal." Stuff like that. It's really spotty and unreliable. And your phone battery runs down really quickly because the phone is always searching for a signal. It's just better to turn it off and go cold turkey.

2. Bees in Vermont act like crazy pollen addicts. Maybe it's the flowers I saw, but the bees were going absolutely bonkers. They were literally rolling in the pollen. They were all having little bee orgasms of pollen ecstasy. I have never seen anything like it. We stood right next to them and watched for about 10 or 15 minutes.

3. Mosquitoes in Washington DC are on steroids. I was sitting in my brother's little back yard one evening and the next day I had about 20 bites on my feet and ankles. By that night, my ankles were all swelled up. Then I remembered the same thing happened to me last year in the same circumstance. I guess I also learned that I don't remember the things I should. Next time, DEET.

4. It is become financially unviable to do this sort of thing. I get fairly okay mileage (33 mpg on the highway) but even so, between Washington and Vermont, I spent probably close to $130 on gas.

And finally, this is not technically road trip related, but...if you haven't seen WALL-E yet, run right out and do so. It is just hyper-cute, in the best possible way. Even the crankiest misanthrope I know loved this film.

Monday, June 30, 2008

This sounds so cool, I might have to try

I came across a call for entries in a playwriting contest a while ago for plays about science. There's even a cash prize for the best one -- $10,000! Not too shabby, right?

Given that it took me several years of start-stop work to finish the one I have, it's doubtful I'll be able to complete this in time for the deadline, which is December 15. But I think I'm going to give it some serious consideration. Now all I need is a subject. Keep in mind I am not a scientist. I wasn't even especially good at it in high school or college. But I reallly like it. And I'm pretty good at taking new information and making it sound like I know what I'm talking about.

So far the one idea I had for a subject is from an exhibit I like a lot at the planetarium, the relative sizes of stuff, comparing it all by powers of 10, from the visible universe to a proton. I wrote a post about this a while back. How I'm going to expand it into 60-90 minutes I don't know. But that $10,000 sounds pretty attractive. I'll keep you all posted on my progress or lack thereof (which is the more likely outcome).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Risking Life and Limb

My friend Deborah called Friday night and said "Hey, let's go hiking tomorrow!" What a great idea! I like to hike and I was itching to get out of town and do something like that. We headed for Palisades Interstate Park, which runs along the Hudson River from New Jersey into New York. The thing about the topography there is that there is a path along the shore and then there is an enormous cliff -- really enormous -- and then more paths along the tops. She says, let's do the shore trail to the Giant Stairs, then we'll climb the cliff path and come back along the top.

The warning sign said "Difficult scramble over large boulders followed by a steep ascent." Hmmm. Well, okay, I'm game. See those rocks up there? More than a mile of this terrain, and it's a lot more difficult than it looks. Plus there's the ever-present danger of serious damage to all sorts of body parts if you miss your footing. And it's really hard work! And then, after this grueling ordeal, we still have to climb a very steep and not too user-friendly path up the cliff.

Obviously I made it back in one piece, more or less. But I am sore all over. And I have scrapes on both arms from when I fell off the tree branch. I think it must have looked hysterically funny. I laughed and I didn't even see myself. The reward was a Frozfuit bar from the snack bar at the top. Then it's back the 3 or so miles to where we parked the car. At least the upper paths were relatively flat and clear. It was about 7 hours in all. But there were more than a few moments when I thought, this is it, they're gonna have to medivac me out of here.

Oh, and did I mention the poison ivy?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Good god, just how much authenic/genuine Cialis/Viagra can one girl use?

Is it just me or has the amount of E.D.-related spam increased geometrically recently? On my Mac at home, I used to get none/zero/zip spam. Now a few manage to sneak through. But when I check my e-mail on my PC at work tomorrow, I can guarantee you there will be at least 175 spam messages, 99% of which will be imploring me to stock up on Cialis and Viagra. Personally I'd like to think that I myself am sufficient to produce the desired result, so I take it as a little bit of an insult to start with. Okay, not everyone is as thin-skinned as I am. But honestly! What do they think I'm doing? Do they think I'm throwing orgies every night? Actually...that might not be such a bad idea. But regardless! I wasn't born yesterday. I am an informed consumer. I refuse to fall for all of these so-called "deals." Maybe just one or two, though. After all, it doesn't hurt to be prepared, right?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

And aren't we all just a little relieved about this!

So I just read in the paper that the toilet on the space station is working again. Whew! I mean, it's bad enough when you're stuck in the car or on a bus and you have to hold it. Imagine being stuck on the space station! It's not like you can zip out to the nearest Starbucks or anything. Of all the pieces of equipment to keep in working order, I'd say this is one of the most crucial.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Who feels like it's summer?

Okay, let's see a show of hands -- who now feels it's officially summer? Who barbecued and sunbathed and celebrated this official unofficial start of the season? If I interpreted the weather map correctly (and I'd like to think I did), it looks like pretty much everybody had a GORGEOUS weekend. And don't we deserve it? Yes, we do. We in the Northeast/Middle Atlantic states, and probably others, have suffered through what I think I'm confident in calling a MISERABLE, SUCKY SPRING. But this weekend, my friends, was a gem. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling pretty good right now. And that has nothing to do with anything I may or may not have consumed. It has to do with sunshine and beautiful clear skies. It has to do with the intoxicating aroma of the masses of lilacs (late) and roses (early) I encountered in my stroll through the Botanic Gardens yesterday. It has to do with how much I sweated while I was running in the park today. Yeah, it would have been fun to go to the beach, but I think everybody else was there. So I was happy to stay put and plant my flower boxes.

I saw a really great movie this weekend - Son of Rambow. Really cute, really funny. It's about two British boys, about 10 or 12, who decide to shoot their own action movie using one boy's video camera. It was written and directed by the guy who did Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. After you've maxed out on Indy and Ironman and Speed Racer, Son of Rambow is the perfect antidote.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Still noshing on party leftovers

I'm tellin' ya, there's nothing like leftover party food. It's like getting a present every day, coming home after work and being able to raid the fridge for dinner, not having to think about cooking. What's the matter, you don't consider hummus, sliced genoa salami, olives, fruit salad and slightly stale brownies a balanced meal? What's wrong with you?

The party was a rousing success even though only about half the number of inviteds showed up. I knew about half a dozen were maybes. Those were the ones who had to work or had other engagements earlier and said they'd try and make it later. They all flaked (although one called me the next day and invited me over for dinner). There were a couple of out-of-towns and a few MIAs. But no matter, a good time was had by all. I was even coaxed into juggling a little, but I discovered (no surprise) that it's not something to do when you've been drinking.

I tried out a couple of new snackie-things. I always like to try out new recipes on visitors. A few people brought goodies. The most extravagant was the cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. This is a place that, all you have to do is walk by the door and you gain five pounds from the aroma. I think they keep the butter and sugar manufacturers in business. The frosting on those babies is lethally good! I could only tolerate a fingerful at a time, seriously. It's so intense. The champagne went and so did most of the wine. I helped.

It's always fun to see how your various friends will get along with one another. Happily there were no fistfights. In fact there was lots of laughing. So everyone seemed to find somebody to talk to besides the person they came with. I had a good time too. Final verdict: definite success.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

It only took me a year

I am coming up on my one-year anniversary of being in my apartment. Times flies, don't it? So I thought to mark the occasion, I would have a party. I didn't get around to having a housewarming last year, so I'm doing it now. I invited just about everyone I know in New York. I figure, maybe half of them will show up.

This whole party thing got me started on a closet cleaning and organizing binge. I had forgotten that when I moved in, I just shoved some cartons in the spare closet with the thought of getting to them "soon." Well, "soon" came and went a long time ago and I kind of forgot about them. So today I burrowed in there and yanked one of them out. It was full of books! I had actually been looking for a couple of them and couldn't figure out where they went. Duh. I'm really happy to have them back, even thought technically they were never missing. Now I'm wondering what's in the other three cartons. They're going to be a pain to get out because they in a corner behind a dresser which I shoved into the closet. There's gotta be some other good stuff that I have totally forgotten about. So I'm looking forward to cleaning out the rest of the stuff. Probably not before the party though.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Update on my steampunk post

Q: When is a hip, new trend no longer new?
A. When the mainstream gets a hold of it.

It was but a few mere days ago that I mentioned steampunk, which I had just found out about last month. Well guess what -- today steampunk is plastered all over the front page of the New York Times style section. Does that make me a trend spotter? Rather the opposite. The fact that I only clued into it shortly before the Newspaper Of Record means I'm only inches away from So Last Year. it's almost laughable.

Just cause We All now know about it doesn't mean we'll all be hopping on the steam-powered bandwagon, however. Real steampunkers are hard-core folks. They're very into handcrafting their eccentric Victorian wardrobes and gadgets. The rest of us can now admire knowingly from a distance, but I don't think they're in danger of being overrun by new recruits. Looks like fun, though.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I wonder if I spend too much time inside my head

I blew off a cocktail party this evening in favor of coming home to my apartment and being by myself. First of all, it's important to explain that this was a work-related party. Tonight was our gala, our major fund-raising event of the year. Staff are not invited to the meal and all that, but we are allowed to come to the cocktail reception beforehand. Well, I hate my job (as has been well-documented here), so why would I want to extend that into my own time? To me it also feels very condescending, like allowing the servants upstairs into the master's house on Christmas Day or something. And I was not alone in this; everyone who had not been roped into working the event took off as soon as they could. But it made me wonder, once I got home, if I spend too much time alone inside my head. I have a very rich and enormous inner life, as I think everyone who hangs out in the cyberplaces I do has. (Bad syntax there, but fuck it.) Still, is it a healthy thing to prefer the vast inner spaces of your head to the company of the jerks in the living world around you? I kind of loaded that question, didn't I? But you get the idea. I don't have an answer to this. I'm arguing it out with myself. And guess what, both sides are winning. But the thing is, I love live human company -- the right company, anyway. I thrive on conversation and shared jokes and all that stuff that sociologists say is typical of humans. But I'm also perfectly happy to wander off into the wilds of my mind. It occurred to me only recently that maybe not everyone has as much going on inside their heads. Maybe they've just got a few little sparsely furnished rooms instead of a whole universe. Maybe they don't really care about going exploring in there. Or maybe I'm just really weird. Either way, I'm really happy I didn't have to go to the stupid party this evening.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I told a joke in Italian today

For the better part of two years I have been studying Italian. No reason other than I think it's a very sexy language (second only to Brazilian Portuguese) and it's good to be able to speak more than one language. Plus, Italy is a fabulous place. I took French and Spanish in high school and college but I haven't used them since then. The first thing I noticed is that it's a lot harder now to learn a new language than it was when I was a teenager. It's very frustrating sometimes and my brain feels like a sieve. All this information gets poured in the top and then promptly runs out the bottom. Those wacky Italians have way more pronouns than anyone in their right mind needs. Even they'll admit as much. And some words change spelling just because it sounds better. I mean, how Italian is that!

But little by little, it seems to be sticking. So this evening in my class I said I heard a joke and I wanted to try and tell it in Italian. There's no doubt my delivery was way funnier than the joke itself. But somehow I lurched through it and made it to the punch line. And people laughed! I managed to make it intelligible enough that they got it. I'm very proud of myself right now. Okay, maybe just a little proud.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Steampunk? WHAT????

Ever and always behind the curve, I am now in the process of adding steampunk to my vocabulary and making room for it in my mental archive of weird, cool new pop culture stuff. Does anybody else know about this? A strangely mutated love child of Victorian style and sci-fi, with a dash of, well, punk thrown in. Who'd'a thought?

Gotta love the 'puter. Not sure about the keyboard, though. I'll never give up my mahvelous mac keyboard for nuthin'. But the idea of hand crafting gadgets and widgets, not to mention computers, out of brass and real hardware is really neat. This is not a subculture for just any geek -- you have to have actual manual skills to gain cred as a steampunker. Me, I got more than enough on my plate right now, and anyway this kind of workbench DIY doesn't interest me. But it sure looks great. Oh, apparently we should be on the lookout for a resurgence of top hats and other items of Victorian type clothing.

Monday, April 21, 2008

On hiatus for a week or two

...or at least until I can get out from under work overload and collect the bits of my brain that seem to have scattered everywhere but in my head.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Looking mortality in the face...or at least in its general direction

My mom, as they all do eventually, has been getting older and declining in some ways. At first it was slow and gradual but lately it's speeded up. She had a mini-stroke last week and maybe another one this week. She recovered quickly; apparently that's what usually happens. But it's affected her balance, which wasn't great anyway. And she has moments of confusion. She's doing a short stint in rehab but after that she's not going to be able to live alone in her apartment any more. My brother has found a place for her and wonder of wonders, she actually likes it, which is weird because she complains about pretty much everything.

At any rate, I've been thinking a lot about mortality lately. I know, join the club. I'm actually fine with dying -- my dying, anyway. That doesn't scare me at all. It's the falling apart that can precede it. If it were my cat that was declining, I wouldn't have a second thought. I would want to spare it the illness and discomfort. Unfortunately that's not an option when it comes to people. I hope by the time I get to that point, I'll be able to say "okay, I'm done" and someone will put me to sleep.

The other aspect of this situation is that my mother is, well, kind of a moron. My brother says she's always been one. I think that getting older has brought out this quality (or anti-quality) in her. But she's always been very emotionally needy, and never satisfied whatever is done for her. Of course we'll continue to take care of her regardless. But if she had, over the years, managed to build up some reservoir of good will, I'd do it much more willingly. I suppose that if I actually enjoyed spending time with my mother, I'd feel differently, but now it's just a chore.

But back to the whole mortality thing. After I die, what I'd really like is for my ashes to be sent into space and released there. I think it would be only appropriate. Not that I'll know. But I'd like it a lot.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Today I lied like a rug

Okay, so it doesn't really work in the past tense. But syntax aside, I committed an enormous act of prevarication. I really don't like lying. Making shit up is a different story, but flat-out lying, I really don't like it so much. However, I did it so as not to hurt someone's feelings. And possibly to prevent me from losing my job. Which wouldn't really be such a bad thing. In fact I will rejoice the day I am free of that dump. But I digress.

My department head, the person I report to, was a casual friend who recruited me for this position. Had I known what a lunatic she is to work for, or what a hornet's nest I was getting into, I would have declined. But I said yes. Here is what's wrong with her. She could be a poster child for ADD. She lacks class. She's not really all that bright. She's chock full of nervous energy and constantly distracts everyone from what they're doing. She loves to blame other people. She's territorial and a control freak. On the positive, she's generally very cheerful -- overly cheerful, in fact. And she is extremely supportive and protective of the people in her department. She will go to bat for any one of her people at any time. She's not a malicious person and generally she means well. But...all of that said, none of us can stand working for her.

So what was the lie? It seems that somehow the information got leaked to the Museum Director that the people in my department don't like our boss and think she's incompetent. The director, being the hurful brat that she can be, told this to my boss. Today my boss told me this and asked me plaintively if that were true.

I tried as many ways as I could to imply denial without actually saying it but she persisted. So, with no options left, I sucked it up and lied. I told her no, it was absolutely not true! Who would say such a thing? I mean I do feel bad for her, especially today I did. And I don't want to be the one to tell her that she's clueless and everyone wishes she were gone. So I lied. Boldly and loudly and with authority.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Why it's not a good idea to post while drunk

It should be fairly obvious, given a few minutes of reflection, but I thought it was worth mentioning anyway. My observation has been that posting -- or attempting to post -- while more than superficially under the influence of alcohol, is probably not a good idea. Sad to say, the same drunken delusions of brilliance that inspire us to blather like idiots at parties can extend to the written word as well. Trust me, I've seen it in action. I won't embarrass the writer by identifying him but let me tell you, it's a cautionary tale if ever there was one. Thank god for the edit function!

Oh, the temptation to spill your guts in an atmosphere of presumed bloggy intimacy! Your blog brothers and sisters, ever sympathetic, non-judgmental, always there to lend a friendly ear. Unless of course you feel inclined to share your innermost thoughts about EVERYTHING...including why you hate poodles, and why you think your ex-girlfriend just might be an alien, or at least a closet Republican.The cold hard truth is, nobody really wants to know this shit. And certainly not when it's expounded in hysterical sentence fragments and inane attempts at philosophical irony.

I, thankfully, self-censor myself in such situations. Ernest Hemingway be damned -- I know I can't write when I'm drunk! So, if I'm alone, I content myself with wandering around my apartment and yammering at the walls. Or I spew it all into a Word document which I promptly delete. It's a practice I highly endorse. You guys should thank me for it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I'm a happy camper

For the past three weeks, I have been holed up with four actors and a director who were slogging their way through my play. Now that it's finished, I can say sincerely that I am very happy with the whole process. It was pretty much what I was expecting, plus more. I knew that I had reach a point where I knew it needed more work but I wouldn't know what was needed until the play spent some time up on its feet.

It's really kind of like alchemy when you give the pages to live actors and let them work with the piece. Suddenly they're finding things that I never knew were there. Relationships are developing between characters in ways I couldn't have imagined. Of course that means that I have to change stuff, but that's okay. That's exactly what I needed to find out. And they find humor in places I didn't know were funny. But they are! And I love it. I was very good and kept my mouth shut most of the time. (I had to be careful and not stray into the director's turf. It is definitely NOT my job to tell the actors what to do.) But I was happy to sit back and follow along and see what they came up with. When stuff was redundant or like that, we'd discuss it and then I'd scribble and scratch and cross out. Almost every page has marks on it. That's a good thing.

One of the things I really love about theatre is that it's a group effort. Everybody really brings something to the process -- or should, anyway. The writer invests his or her energy and imagination, then the actors get it and make it come alive, literally. And the really cool part is that you never know how that's going to happen. It just takes on a life of its own. Wahoo! I'm a happy camper.

Now of course I have another rewrite to do. But it's gonna be a piece of cake.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

For when you just can't find the right words...

Ever been in that situation where you just can't quite express your thoughts clearly? Maybe this will help

The Onion

Idiom Shortage Leaves Nation All Sewed Up In Horse Pies

WASHINGTON—Authorities expect the shortage to subside by April, but until then, urge citizens to skip shy the rickshaw until the flypaper marigolds can waterfall.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What we put our pets through

Could it be? Yes, it's...the...Easter Kitty! This seasonal bit of catblogging was borrowed from a best-of-craigslist posting, offering a carton of used cat hats for free. Here's the link: It's definitely worth a look.

I once tried to put a set of reindeer antlers on my old cat Duke. He let me know in no uncertain terms that he was not interested in decorative headwear, and that was the end of the matter. While these pix are cute, to me there's this look of quiet desperation in the cat's eyes that seems to say, "I can't take this humiliation much longer." I can understand an occasional effort to adorn one's cat for laughs -- I mean they do invite ridicule from time to time. But 14 adorable hats??? When people start treating their pets like babies, it really gives me the creeps.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Oohhh am I mad!!!

I got a phone call from Melanie at Geico Insurance telling me that the BIG, FAT STUPIDHEAD JERK truckdriver who took out the whole side of my car back in December is claiming that I hit him and his insurance company is denying liability! Not only am I really angry, I am dumbfounded. How he could even claim that is ridiculous. It would have been physically impossible for me to cause the damage done to my car if I had hit him. I would have to have come from behind him, run my car into the side of his 18-wheeler and then continued to drive for another 10 or 15 feet after first making impact. I'm serious when I say that the driver's side of my car looked like someone came along with a giant can opener and ran it along the side, back to front. In fact, I would have to have driven ahead of him, then backed up for 10 feet, sideswiping him the whole time. Yup, there's me in my Hyundai Elantra, about to take on a tractor trailer.

So Geico is taking it to arbitration. Seems to me all any arbitrator has to do is look at the photos of the damage to realize I couldn't possibly have hit him. I intend to make this guy cry. I intend to make him beg for mercy. And by the way, I have his name and address if anybody wants to harrass him.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A very unsettling thing

Today at work, I needed to find a few facts about a guy who, in addition to being a big contributor to the museum, is also a major NYC real estate developer. So of course the first thing I did was Google him. The first entry was Wikipedia. After that, about 90% of the posts were from the most hateful, vicious anti-Semitic websites. They claimed his collusion in various "Jew Conspiracies" to, essentially, take over the world and profit from everyone else's misery. Now, I'm all in favor of crackpot theories -- they generally do no harm and are often quite entertaining. But this was not that kind of crackpot. We all know in a somewhat abstract way that this kind of hate is out there, but to encounter it face to face was almost like being physically assaulted. I am a fierce supporter of free speech and I understand that that means not only things I agree with but also things I find repellent. I comfort myself with the thought that this is what a mature democratic state is, that people can express their ideas, whatever they are, without worry of being silenced. I just want to keep the people who express those particular ideas as far away from me as possible.

Monday, February 04, 2008


It only took me 8 months, but I've finally finished painting my living room. One of the reasons it took so long was because I couldn't find the right color. Well, I finally took the plunge and picked something. Then I had to actually do the painting, which I really don't like (mostly because I'm not very good at it). It took 2 1/2 coats but I eventually got a decent result. Now I have to live with it. It came out darker than I thought it would but it's growing on me. The other half of the room is that goldy orange color I shared here several months ago. I am really loving having intense color on the walls. I used to think it would be very limiting but really, how often do you refurnish your house anyway? This is very cool.

(change of subject)

It seems very trite to say that work has been hell lately, but trite or not, it's true. I had an impossible workload, with 8 (count 'em, 8) proposals due last Friday. Fortunately for me, 2 of them went away for reasons having nothing to do with me. But that still left me with a half dozen major projects with a do-or-die deadline. If it were only up to me, everything would have been done in plenty of time. But the problem is, I needed lots of information and stuff from various other people. And have you ever noticed how Other People don't seem to care as much about your work as you do? Why is that? Keeping in mind that these projects were grant proposals to fund projects at the museum and without the money, stuff doesn't happen. But that still doesn't seem to be enough to motivate people to get their asses in gear. This has been compounded by the fact that my department head, who on her best days could be a poster child for ADHD, seems to have cranked it up a few notches on the wack-o-meter. It's tough because she was a friend of mine before I started working for her. Not a really good friend, but someone I usually had nice thoughts about. Now I want to strangle her more often than not. Of course I'd have to get in line. She seems to have driven everyone in the department crazy. The sad part is, it's hard to really hate her because she means well and she's very supportive and appreciative of everyone in her department. BUT SHE'S DRIVING US ALL FUCKING CRAZY!
In any case, I got everything finished and submitted on time.

(another change of subject)

Now I take a big breath and relax. Now I have some brain juice left for other things, like haning out here. And most importantly, moving my play forward. Very exciting...we're going to be doing auditions in 2 weeks. We're collecting head shots and resumes. Lots of promising women but hardly any guys! What's up with that? Where are they all? Working on ctheokas' film, maybe?

Friday, January 18, 2008

My contribution to Friday catblogging

Since I am currently cat-free, I couldn't use an original photo but I figured why let Fermicat have all the fun. So here is my humble contribution. I figure his name should be Headley.

Monday, January 14, 2008

What makes you angry?

I've decided that stupid people make me angrier than almost anything. I'm talking about the kind of stupid that they shoulda known better, or they're too lazy to think. People whose view of the world is no wider than the distance from the couch to the TV. People who don't take the time or effort to imagine anything outside themselves and their petty concerns. This is a willful kind of stupid I'm talking about, not the kind of uneducated stupidity that can be cured by, well, education. The really pernicious stupidity is the the kind that shuts its eyes and ears and doesn't see and doesn't listen. There's nothing in particular that has ticked me off; I'm just thinking in the abstract right now. And I just felt like being angry about something. Mostly though I'm in a great mood.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


This is one of those movies that reminds me why I love movies. As far as sheer beauty, genius and daring, it's right up there with Angels In America, Pulp Fiction and Across The Universe.

To me, storytelling is one of the most important things there is. It's us interpreting our world and sharing it with one another. It's how we try and make sense of it all. The beauty of storytelling in movies is that you're free of the constraints of time, place, even reality. The film is not merely the method by which you tell the story, the way the story unfolds becomes part of the story.

If you're a Dylan fan, this film has a special resonance. But you don't have to be one to be blown away by the film. Dylan has had so many different personas and so many different periods in his career that they can seem like separate people, and what Todd Haynes has done is used 6 different actors to play the different parts of his life. None of them are meant to be Dylan -- they all have other names, but they represent that part of Dylan. The story jumps back and forth in time and place. All the details are right, all the markers are there. It is not in any sense a true biography but I think you get a much richer sense of who he is, which is someone filled with contradictions, flights of fantasy and missing pieces. Hey, he's a genius artist, he's entitled.

And Cate Blanchett is beyond awesome. Whoever had the idea to cast her in this had the inspiration of the century.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

My start to the new year: SPLAT!

Last Thursday, after doing some errands across the river in New Jersey, we were heading home across the bridge. I had slipped into the EZPass land and was maybe 50 feet from the tollbooth. Suddenly the 18-wheeler on my left decided he really wanted to be in my lane. What transpired then was an extended slow-motion mashing of the driver's side of my car. The guy realized he had hit something and stopped. But he was kind of stuck to me so he had to keep going to get free. We were only going about 1 mile an hour so there was not even the possibility of injury, which is always a good thing. Fortunately there was a police station at the bridge plaza so we just pulled over. The guy was very nice and apologetic. He obviously didn't see me. But that didn't do anything to mitigate the fact that the left side of my car looked like someone had used a giant can opener along the length of it. I just got the estimate from the insurance adjuster - $2664.58. It's the 58 cents that gets me. I will eventually get my money back but I am still out the deductible unti Geico recovers it from the guy's insurance company, which experience says is about 10-12 weeks. Happy New Year.