They grow culture in a petri dish.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

In it for the Long Haul?

Two seemingly unrelated articles in the New York Times caught my attention today. In the first, "Short on Drivers, Truckers Offer Perks," Ian Urbina indicates that long-haul trucking is experiencing a shortage of workers due to the retirement of older truckers and relatively lucrative wages in "construction and other blue-collar jobs." In the second, an editorial entitled "Tortured Logic," four-year Army veteran Anthony Lagouranis discusses how the ambiguity of orders for prisoner interrogations leads to court martial charges for soldiers. How are these two items related? Through their exploration of job expectations and masculinity.

Throughout "Short on Drivers," Urbina maintains that long-haul trucking is an enterprise largely undertaken by men. Even so, he notes that its long hours, geographical displacement, and stress often cause drivers to burn out. He quotes from a trucker of eight years, Nasser Adams, who says, "I missed my son's birth, first steps and kindergarten graduation. And I'm better off than most drivers who don't get home every weekend like I do." That's right - though truckers are usually men, they also have personal investments, including family and friends. And, for all but the most misanthropic of men, the benefits of a $19-an-hour paycheck must come at some personal cost.

So, how to fix the short-fall? The Truckload Carriers Association indicates that it is working with Congreso de Latinos Unidos to encourage more Hispanic recruits. While this initiative does not seem to address the industry's problem with rootlessness, their second plan - restructuring routes to include more husband and wife driving teams - does. One hopes that the trucking industry's willingness to revalue the the social and familial needs of its workers (men and women of any ethnicity) will outlast the economic necessity to do so.

In Lagouranis's editorial, he discusses the impending court martials of Sgts. Santos Cardona and Michael Smith both of whom used their dogs to intimidate Iraqi prisoners during interrogations at Abu Ghraib prison. Lagouranis confirms that he, too, used dogs "following orders that [he] believed were legal" and affirms "I also deserve to be prosecuted." (He notes that, while the dogs were muzzled and restrained by a handler, prisoners were blindfolded and couldn't have known this.) Though Lagournais willingly acknowledges his wrongdoing (and, one hopes, the ability of malicious individuals to act without order), he also details the chain of command involved in securing these actions. Further, he goes on to name higher-ranking officers who, though culpable themselves, let those in the lower ranks take the punishment.

While the main issue here is certainly the abuse of prisoners and transgression of Geneva Convention policies, a corollary issue lies in honor as well as, appropriately enough, workplace expectations. Many soldiers going to war do so because they honor their country and its ideals; many of them also need the money. In many ways, serving one's country involves "being a Man," providing for one's family or nation while sacrificing one's life (regardless of sex). Even so, the maintenance of ambiguous interrogation policies devalues the service of men and women and prosecutes them for following the very orders they are not allowed to question. In a time of "terror," how are we to expect respect from those we abuse, be it our "enemies" or our own service personnel?

In closing, while society has routinely encouraged men to sacrifice themselves in jobs situations or for military service, one hopes that they are able value their own individual lives as well. Conversely, one prays that women entering either the trucking industry or the military will garner the respect they may earn and receive any protection they may need. Here's to the long haul - may it not be so long, cruel, or lonely as we might think.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

All-Consuming Passions

Many people will have you believe that relationships are based on love, sex, and compatibility and that people marry for companionship, out of economic necessity, and/or because they want children. But, as we all know, these are all really stupid reasons to attach your life to someone else's. Realistically speaking, the only lasting justification for relationships - the one that carries us through the ages - is the need to share fruit. Take a moment for reflection, and I'm confident that you'll agree.

When you go to the store, it is nearly impossible to find and purchase a piece of fruit that you can comfortably eat by yourself in one sitting. Don't let your imagination fool you - this is nature's way of ensuring that we continue reproducing the species. Sure, you may find a perfectly-ripened pineapple that you'd like to buy, but, if you're single, you always have to give this a little extra thought..."Damn," you'll say, "I don't think I can finish a whole pineapple." As for the smaller, seemingly more accessible fruits, science is taking care of them. Fruit that was an option for my childhood eating enjoyment is now magically "off-limits." Have you seen the size of peaches lately? Or, for that matter, apples? At this rate, the only fruits I can safely consume on my own are plums, apricots, and crab apples - a pretty dismal existance, if you ask me.

How to cope? First of all, don't go trying to plan your fruit purchases around your friends; I guarantee that nothing will ruin a friendship faster than asking a buddy to share a juicy melon with you. "What the fuck do I want with your cantalope?!?," he'll ask, vaguely offended. "Pervert!" Ideally, you're going to want to hit on someone at the grocery store. Think about it, if you keep trying the bars, you're only setting yourself up for failure. What security do you have that a guy who drinks Mike's Hard Lemonade is into fresh oranges as well? On the other hand, if you watch the way someone works the fruit aisle, you'll get a good sense of your Fruit Compatibility Quotient (FCQ). For example, you'll never see me hooking up with a "melon" or "mango" eater - I can't stomach either of them. I'm much more likely to go for a "pineapple" or "grapefruit" kind of guy. What's more, as you cruise for mates, your choice of grocer will also help compatibility. Odds are, if you're a "farmer's market" kind of gal, you'll automatically weed out those potential mates who favor the fruit bins at the Wal-Mart Supercenter.

So, as you consider your relationships, or lack thereof, remember that true romantic bliss doesn't hinge on beauty or job status or shared hobbies. In reality, it's all about taste.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Just What the Psychiatrist Ordered

As you might infer from my numerous postings on the 2006 Olympics, I have a dependency problem. My name is Violet, and I am addicted to the Winter Games. As I told Ani, watching the Olympics is kind of like working at the post office: you're never really done. While exciting, the last couple of weeks have passed in a blur of scores, falls, triumphs, injuries, artistry, and national pride (or, for some, ambivalence). And, on my end, I've neglected work, laundry, and grocery shopping such that I'm reduced to making cafe mochas in own my kitchen...with powdered milk.

Fortunately, as the ending ceremonies approached, I found solace in my old friend David Rakoff. I was a bit slow in buying his latest work Don't Get Too Comfortable but only because I wanted to save it for a really important occasion, like - I don't know, Olympic rehab. Let me just say that I love this man. He is my voyeuristic/ minutae-loving/self-effacement/wordsmith soulmate. Here is a sampling of his writing:

But unless Al Qaeda has some extra-special religious proscription against the idiotic and sophomoric, I'd be hard-pressed to count Puppetry of the Penis among those transgressive things that make us glorious and free. As a work of degenerate art, it is neither. It's harmless. The embarrassment I feel as I exit the John Houseman is not in having a penis of my own. It is in having retinas.

I feel underutilized and I haven't even begun, but it it's benevolent omniscience they want, then I will be the self-effacing, eagle-eyed mole of their dreams, pervasive and invisible as a gas leak. Nothing will escape my purview. Unsolicited birthday cakes arriving at hotel room doors? Kid stuff. I will save marriages by discreetly whispering into a husband's ear that perhaps he might like to wish his wife a happy anniversary while I slip a thoughtfully purchased necklace of black freshwater pearls into his hand...

Sigh! This book has had me gasping through laugh-gasms of ecstasy, alarming cat and neighbor alike. That said, I recommend it for your generally reading enjoyment (especially if you've tried, and liked, David Sedaris's work). More importantly, though, as an unlicensed therapist, I suggest it for any desired psychic breaks in routine. David will take the world apart for you. And, when he puts it back together, you'll feel grateful to be there.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

My Dreams of Olympic Glory

Winter sportsfans, I’m at it again. As I watch the Olympics, I'm thinking about what kind of sport I’d compete in if I were, indeed, athletically inclined. My first thought is that I don’t want to do anything that requires me to perform a half-second faster (much less a tenth of a second faster) than someone else. To my mind, there are only a few actions that actually benefit from a half-second lead - stepping out of oncoming traffic; ducking into an alcove to avoid someone; and hanging up on a telemarketer come to mind. But, as far as I know, none of these are competitive sports. Since I’m scuttling the “fast” sports, I’d have to forego downhill skiing and speed skating which is okay – no love lost.

Perhaps I’d have better luck with snowboarding or figure skating, both of which involve some level of artistry. Of the two, I prefer the aerial elements of snowboarding but the outfits and music of figure skating. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, I take up figure skating. I’d certainly have to skate by myself because, though I don’t mind looking ridiculous, I can’t commit to looking ridiculous in tandem with someone else. Also, I have some strongly-held beliefs about figure skating music. For example, I am drawn to the following songs as I believe they would effectively aid me in the performance of "my art:"

10. The Beatles, “Oh! Darling”
9. Otis Redding, “These Arms of Mine”
8. Dresden Dolls, “Missed Me”
7. Luscious Jackson, “Here”
6. Nina Simone, “Sinnerman” (shortened version!)
5. Belle and Sebastian, “Electric Renaissance”
4. Soul Coughing, “Mr. Bitterness”
3. Madonna, “Nothing Really Matters”
2. Vangelis, “Theme from Blade Runner”
1. Led Zeppelin, “You Shook Me" or "Rain Song"

Actually, I do have an ice-skating career of sorts which few people know about. When I lived in Orlando, my friends and I skated a bit at the rink on West Colonial Drive. (Yes, the one where they played the Steve Miller Band's "Space Cowboy" every...single... night.) One high point of my skating career involved me laughing my ass off to my then-roommate's chucklehead boyfriend's attempt to skate through to the end of Rush's "Tom Sawyer." Folks, this is a long, long song. The other high point came when I got a withering look from a 10 year-old who wanted to pass me while I was making sweet love to the perimeter wall. Attempting to salvage an iota of pride, I informed this boy that the skating rink had hired me to skate badly so that other people would look better by comparison. Needless to say, it was a good day for withering looks.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Brokeback 'Lympics
(subtitled: I can't quit you...or pass you on the straight-away)

Is it just me, or is the competition between speed skaters Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick shaping up in quasi-Brokeback Mountain fashion? On Saturday the 11th, Hedrick won the 5000m, his first individual race. Then, announcements were made for the U. S. team members slated to skate pursuit, a relay race in which Davis (one of the U.S.'s strongest skaters) declined to compete. When asked about Davis's non-participation, Hedrick said he was disappointed but that, "I'm not going to beg Shani to skate with me." Um, Chad..."beg?" You can almost hear his soft entreaty, "Why Shani? After all we've meant to each other?" For his part, Davis maintained that he came to skate the 1500m, not the team pursuit, and that he "didn't care what people thought about him."

Of course, after these two interviews, the media was hooked. Playing up the "tension" between the two, Bob Costas cast Hedrick as the can-do yes-man of the Olympics, willing to sacrifice his legs to the team competition while pegging Davis as the loner, the rebel (at least, we are to infer as much). Costas seemed so caught up in this story I'm surprised he didn't turn down the lights, put out the votive candles, and pour himself a flute of champagne. "Oh yeah, baby, give me your turmoil..."

On Tuesday, the 21st, both skaters competed in the 1500m which Italian Enrico Fabris won (Davis earned the silver and Hedrick took the bronze). After the race, the skaters were treated to the journalistic equivalent of a police-style interrogation: "Are you disappointed about winning the bronze? Uh-huh, and what are your feelings about Shani Davis?" After thirty minutes of hot lights and probing questions, Davis and Hedrick cracked. Davis indicated "Sure, Chad and I are fighting for the same thing. But it would have been kind of nice after I won the 1000m [Davis is the first African-American man ever to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics] if he would have been a good teammate and shook my hand, just like I shook his hand-or hugged him-after he won the 5000m." He then left in a huff, leaving hug-stingy Hedrick stunned. "I felt betrayed," Hedrick stammered, "he wouldn't compete with me in the team pursuit."

So much drama here in speed skating! So much "he said"/"he said!" And the last portion of this (at least) played out in front of a huge banner proclaiming "Passion lives here." Huh-yeah! Clearly, there's passion between these two guys, even if it's only passionate anger. While there's little to suggest that the two were actually romantically involved, in my imagination, their torrid love affair fell apart over Hedrick's preternaturally white teeth. At any rate, I can only counsel Hedrick and Davis to do the right thing: kiss and make-up. Film this reconciliation, and send me the video.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Green with Envy

While speculating about the proper name for an upholstery color recently, I reached for and tried “celery?” to the endless delight of a friend. Now, usually, I don’t mind being laughed at, but, at times like these, I’m offended. Laughing at my color recall accuracy? My eye for detail? Banish the thought! I took a spin around Lowe’s paint department, and, at the first display, picked up this color tile. What do you know? "Celery stalk." At the Home Depot website, I found that the Behr line of paint has not one but four versions of celery; they are: celery salt, celery bunch, celery sprig, and celery ice. And, as you well know, these colors don’t create and market themselves. My guess is that it went down something like this:

Boss: “Ladies and gentlemen, our line of greens is lagging. We’re skewing behind Glidden in the 18-25 demographic and Dutch Boy’s poking its greedy little finger in our 25-35s. I’m looking for magic here, magic. Nothing less!”

Worker 1: “Um…I was thinking ‘avocado’? We could come out strong with one of the deeper greens…”

Boss: “Ok Kasey and the Sunshine band, did you miss a memo? One word names are out, baby; these days, it’s a two name game.”

Worker 1: “How about ‘Avocado Spice’?”

Boss: “Spiced with what, nimrod? Nobody’s mixing any brown with any green. Not on my watch. Next!”

Worker 2: “How about something bright? Like ‘celery stalk’?”

Boss: “Good idea. But it’s too conventional; too redundant. Celery comes in stalks. People will be expecting that. Let me think…’celery bunch’ yeah, ‘bunch’ is fantastic! It’s less transparent, fuller, richer…”

Worker 3: “How about ‘celery sprig’? It’s got brighter hue…”

Worker 1: “Wait a minute! Doesn’t celery come in bunches? Won't people be expecting...”

Boss: “Yeah, we’ll go with those two – ‘celery bunch’ and ‘celery sprig.’”

Worker 1: “Are you insane? Two celery colors? That’s madness!”

(interruption) “FYI – we’re going to need a flat browny green you guys – corporate says don’t come out without a flat, brown one.”

Boss: “Damn it all! Don’t say avocado, Mitch. Don’t even say it.”

Worker 2: “Brown…let’s see ‘celery salt’ is a little brown. That has a nice ring to it.”

Two weeks later.

Worker 2: Where did Bruce go? I haven’t seen him since that ‘green’ meeting.”

Worker 3: Dude, they let him go. He came out of there with four celery variations, and corporate hit the fan. They ok’d the colors because of the deadlines, but they were really disturbed by his vision.”

Worker 2: “Where’s he working now?”

Worker 3: “Gilette, man. Razor division.”

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Maybe Dan Savage was right...

A few weeks ago in his column "Savage Love" someone asked Dan Savage - how you thank someone for being such an beloved fantasy for, shall we say, solo pursuits? Well, Dan answered by saying that there's no way, that one shouldn't even try. I tend to agree. Fantasizing about someone can be so weird - it's both kind of creepy and (I'd guess) kind of flattering, too. For example, Andretta and I watched Strictly Ballroom and Beauty Shop last Thursday, and I still can't get some of their stars out of my head. (Ahem.)

First, you've got the fantastically talented and hot, hot, hot Paul Mercurio. He was a dancer before he acted in Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom, but, fortunately, he's a pretty good actor, too. I like this movie best of all Luhrmann's efforts thus far in part because of Paul but also because the movie is so freakin' bizarre. Paul and Tara Morice play the "straight" plotline: she's a plain, shy beginner, and he's an established dancer who wants to "dance his own steps" (gasp!). The gravity with which these "rogue" steps are treated provides the humor for the subplots as people will go to great lengths to prevent him from expressing himself. Suffice it to say, these two kids get together, dance their passadouble, and snog it up. Key scenes: Paul dancing (and making out with himself) in front of a mirrored wall and the impromptu dance to "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" which sizzles.

Then, in Beauty Shop, you've got the cutie Bryce Williams. Bryce is pretty new to acting, having been a singer in his former career (in the group Grove Theory with Mekada Davis). Certainly Beauty Shop doesn't have a complicated aesthetic sensibility or plot, but it's great fun nonetheless. In it, Bryce plays a moving company driver whom Queen Latifah's Gina initially hires to move old equipment but who ends up working in the shop as a stylist. He falls in love with Alicia Silverstone's character and the beauty shop gossip about him turns from the "is he gay?" variety to the "why the white girl?" question. For some reason, of the two guys in this movie, I like him best. Djimon Hounsou (who is hot) plays Queen Latifah's love interest, but, for some reason, their scenes together just don't "do it" for me.

Going back to Dan Savage and individual pursuits, I wonder how weird it is to be talking about guys I don't know or thinking about guys I don't know. In Bryce's case, I couldn't find much information on him outside of IMDB (vouyeristic attempts thwarted). In Paul's case, though, IMDB indicates that he's in Exit to Eden, the adaptation of Anne Rice's erotica of the same name. So, on the one hand, I'm halfway out the door to Blockbuster to rent it. On the other hand, I found his website which includes pictures of his wife and kids and a blog, all of which remind me how human he is. Maybe a successful fantasy is most effective not only because someone is unapproachable but because the "real" person remains unapproachable.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

(written 15 February 2006)

I caught a bit of the Glob-Athele-Cult tonight. I was happy that no one seemed to be falling or skidding or slipping or running into walls or fences as they have been wont to do. At least, if they were, they weren't doing so in a big, obligitory-hospital-trip kind of way. Let me just say that I, as a spectator, can only take so much carnage. After that poor Chinese woman was catapulted into the stratosphere for the one-upswoman-ship quad spin manoever and went knees-first into the ice, I was yelling at my television "Stay down! Stay down, bitch!" (I honestly said that - it surprised even me.) All I could imagine from that point forward was bones sticking through skin. At any rate, it all worked out fine - she and her partner won the silver - huzzah!

And, while I'm at it, let me take a moment to give a shout-out to gay athletes. Where would we be without gay athletes? Or, for that matter, the camp aesthetic? In the men's skate, I saw a guy with a pseudo-ripped black shirt with crimson underpatches, looking like he'd come fresh from a turf war. I think he actually mimed a punching sequence. I saw another guy skate to the James Bond theme music; he was wearing a dapper suit-ish outfit with - I kid you not - "007" rhinestoned into the back of it (you know, in case you didn't "get it" from the music). Lord bless him, he did shooting gun mimes in his sit-spin. Then, there was a guy (from America, I think) who was wearing a Matador outfit with the gold-spangly arm-cap thingies. Plus, there was this one guy from America who was so beautiful and graceful that I was actually looking for his significant other in the stands.

Friends, I remember watching Brian Boitano in the Olympics when I was growing up. Man, he was magnificent. Looking back, that experience makes me think: if I didn't know he was gay, then I didn't know what "gay" was. For my generation, learning that someone was gay had everything to do with AIDS and nothing to do with an acknowledgement of one's lived experience - the ability to translate the personal "you" into the normative public sphere. I mention this primarily because I am sick of hearing commentators refer to straight guys' wives or girlfriends who are there to cheer them on. Wake up, America. Some of these atheletes have husbands (or "husbands") or boyfriends who care just as much about them and cheer just as hard. It's Valentine's Day - if you're not going to show the love, at least acknowledge it.

Ye gods! What's that Smell?
(written 13 February 2006)

I'm glad you asked! The answer would be "the end of that otherwise fantastic Grey's Anatomy episode." Being cable-challenged and having had my typical NBC show pre-empted by some global arctic-loving cult of athletes, I happily tuned in to Grey's Anatomy last night (I think that this was a re-broadcast of the episode that aired after the Super Bowl, but I could be wrong). At any rate, it was a rollercoaster ride of action which included the following completely plausible chain of events:

1. Some guy had a bomb lodged somewhere in his body ("gut" would be my guess). Some resident had to keep her hand on it so it didn't move around and blow up the hospital. Also to keep him from "bleeding out." Ohyeah, and the operating room they're in (first) is over the main oxygen line for the operating rooms. Dicey!

2. Some pregnant doctor, already in labor, was refusing to have her baby because her husband wasn't there. He was in surgery somewhere else in the same hospital. As the baby finally presents itself, the husband dies for, like, a nanosecond until the doctor punches him (after trying other, medically approved, options). Then, he's back!

3. Some doctor who is trying to handle the bomb crisis collapses. They think he's had a heart attack, but it was actually an anxiety attack.

4. Two residents who have formerly evinced a ragining distaste for one another get it on in a janitor's closet.

Ok, so given this sequence of events - events which give me no pause whatsoever until this point - the episode ends as the resident with the bomb-eater successfully pulls the bomb out and gives it to the bomb squade dude. As the bomb squad dude walks down the hall with it, the resident rounds the corner to watch him. The bomb then detonates, killing him and blowing the quaintly inquisitive resident halfway down a corridor.

Now, I'm not a big "medical show" fan. I've watched ER maybe two full times and never caught a St. Elsewhere episode in my life. But, what I do know is crime shows. And when a bomb detonates in your general vicinity, the first order of business is not to have your two resident hottie friends bathe you in the community shower, and the second order of business is not to go immediately to your own home. Call me crazy, but wouldn't one prefer to have a full physical and a stay for observation in...hmm...THE HOSPITAL? The hospital - oh say - that you ALREADY WORK IN? Furthermore, could we perhaps do without the scene where you wonder to your married lover when the last time was that you kissed, and instead, think about the bomb dude and his bomb dude friends who died directly in front of you? I mean, that would have to have been one hell of a kiss to make me forget my having seen people blown to pieces. Then again, I'm not a hottie doctor.

Maybe it's just me, but I feel as if this Grey's Anatomy has singed the eyebrows of my credulity.

Chapter Three: "Answer"
(modified from an entry written 3 February 2006)

"The cider-tart odor of spoling apples. Apple trees and pear trees, peach and cherry: Mr. Clutter's orchard..."

What the hell!?! That's not my chapter three, that's part three from In Cold Blood. What am I thinking? Well, we finally saw Capote tonight, so that might be the half of it. Brilliant performance, but I can see how nominating bodies might not be too keen on giving this flick the nod. In it, Capote researches and he writes, he interviews and he writes, then...he basically just needs an ending. Turns out, the ending he hopes for ends up being the end of a new friend's life. Bummer. Note to self: don't fall in love with a guy that you also actively hope will die. And, for a movie about a guy looking for an ending? Let's just say you can sense his pain.

Returning to my chapter three, though. What to name it? "Stalemate?" We've come to the part of the listserv discussion in which the other party has declared "I've decided I don't really care anymore." But, I must add that this came as a result of a particularly astute observation on my part - one that was really needed and which it seems that we all had to collectively think through before one of us could voice. So, a lot of this comes down to collective antagonistic collaborative composition ("Hello Retoric and Composition Quarterly? I have an article you might like...").

But, part of it also comes down to "winning" in an argument (whatever that would be in this situation). I'm not sure if hearing the words "I've decided I don't really care anymore" comprises a "good thing." Even so, looking at a continuum of possible responses, this certainly comes close to the most extreme concession one can make, viz:

3) I concede to your superior views in this matter: You are right.

2) I don't care anymore.

1) I've lost my will to live.

In this sense, my point about rhetoric and expectations comes full circle here. Capote needed his ending, and the police needed their confession and to mete out "justice." With the right interrogator, they could have bypassed all the waiting. Hickock and Smith not only would have confessed, they would have died of harrassment as well.

I'll call this chapter "Angry Recriminations"
(modified from an entry written 2 February 2006)

For those of you who know me, I am currently embroiled in political intrigue within a student organization at a major public university. For the past few weeks, our listserv has been experiencing a shitstorm of activity raning from thoughful and professional comments to the downright catty. At this point, I've gotten prettty depressed by it all. So, in terms of making a bad situation into a good one, I think I'll extend my proposed autobiography The Past One and a Half Days: My Autobiography in Minutae to include the whole hullabaloo that continues to be my experience in a leadership position. I will title this chapter (Chapter 2?) "Angry Recriminations." I'm not sure what "recriminations" means, but I'm too lazy to look it up right now and it sounds fantastic! (If, at a later time, it turns out that "recriminations" means something like "invitations to dinner," I'll change the wording to something more appropriate.)

In this chapter, I plan to use the listserv posts (that's right - all of them). (For those of ya'll in the literature field, that means this novel will be epistolary.) I think this is a brilliant idea for two reasons a) some of those posts are downright funny - I couldn't make that shit up and b) if I concentrate on source material, the book'll write itself. Really, I'm about 1/12th through the text as we speak. (Y'know? January is one-twelth of a year - my tenure in office.) And, at any rate, people love epistolary novels.

Wait a minute...and sex! Or some such bad behavoir! Yes, at some point, I should become intimately involved with someone highly inappropriate. Preferably, someone in a pirate or cowboy outfit or a Scottish kilt (as, alas!, there aren't any actual pirates, cowboys, or Scottsmen (to my knowledge) in the program). Or, you know, I could get a nemesis - someone who wants to see me out of power and is hungry for my job (Steph...?). Man, if I'm going to maintain this level of drama, I'd do well to go out and buy some Bob Mackie outfits and Alexis Carrington-style blue and purple eye makeup...

See you at the signing party!

O, the humanity!
(written on 27 January 2006)

Yet again I am shamed by the reality that is my Ryan Reynolds fixation. On his unofficial fansite (yes, the skanky one), an entry from November 30th reads:

Vote For Just Friends NOW!! Just Friends needs your help to boost its rating on IMDB (Internet Movie Database). Visit the link below to vote for Just Friends. Right now the movies rating is a 5 out of 10. This movie is way, way better then a 5. So let's get it to a 10. Vote NOW at IMDB!! Also, if you are not currently a member of the IMDB community sign up today, It's FREE!

Gentle Reynoldians, though I have not yet seen this movie, I offer a few observations:

1) Just Friends does not need my help to boost its rating on IMDB. My guess is that it needs the help of a quality scriptwriter, a gifted director, a thoughtful cameraman, and a talented ensemble of actors. That's how a good movie is usually made.

2) "The movie is way, way better than a 5." Clarification: Ryan Reynolds is way, way better than a 5 (see unnecessarily scantily clad wood-chopping pic). But if the movie didn't involve a lot of semi- or full nudity, my guess is that it deserved a 5. (And, umm, if memory serves me right, this movie involved a fat suit. Over a 5? Honestly?)

3) Don't beg. If Ryan isn't up to the challenge of picking or acting in a really good movie, be content with liking the movie for what it is, cutting his pictures out of magazines, and taping them on your walls. I mean, if that's the sort of thing you choose to do with your time. I think I'd advise a "What Would Jesus Do?" approach to Ryan's career missteps. This is a man whose Blade Trinity views like most actors' On the Waterfront. I am thereby initiating a contest for the three of you who ever read this website. Who is Ryan's own personal Jesus? Which actor (or actress!) should he emulate career-wise? [Sorry folks - voting over. The suggestion for Zach Braff won, and you're out a free meal.] I'll give a week for responses, and winner gets a free drink or, if you're my non-drinking relative/friend, dinner.

Potentially offensive observation (Ye be warned!)
(written 12 January 2006)

My potentially offensive observation comes courtesy of Dave Barry, my elation at a first week almost over, and, quite possibly, a bizarre dream I had last night. So, I was undressing to take my shower this morning. I'm having my period right now, and, as I looked down at my undies, I immediately thought "OOO! Idaho!" Seriously, folks, I must be some kind of body artist or something because I'd created an uncannily good replica. This got me to wondering about people who see religious symbols in odd places, like a tree trunk or a slice of bread or in a water-seepage stain. What if I inadvertently end up with the Virgin Mary or one of the saints, you know, in the nether area some day? Will this be a "media worthy" event, or something I should just keep to myself? Or, what if God is already trying to communicate with me and is saying something specific about the state of Idaho? Here's my short list of guesses:

5. My Own Private Idaho was pretty good, huh? I told Gus Van Sant to write and direct it. It's a "least of these" thing.

4. It's been awhile since you've had a potato. A potato every now and then isn't going to hurt anyone.

3. You should watch Napolean Dynamite again. I didn't specifically greenlight that one, but I was pleasantly surprised.

"What are you going to do today, God?"
"Anything I want. [Me!]"

2. Come to think of it, why don't you write a movie set in Idaho? What did I give you all that talent for (refer to scriptural "talent" reference, yo)?

1. I have some bad news: you're going to have to move to Idaho for a tenure-track position. You kept praying "not Kansas," and this is the best I can do. Bring a coat, though; since I've warned you, I'm not taking prayers about weather modification.

Shopping for one's bedding
(written 14 December 2005)

There is nothing more divisive, I think, than mitigating between personal tastes. I have of late been shopping for a comforter (or, if I get very lucky, a comforter "set"). The problem with this search lies in the choices one is presented for one's bedding adornment. I'd say the available choices range from sucky" (seersucker, eyelet) to "extremely sucky" (toile, sateen) to "deadly sucky" (jacquard, themed bedding - shudder). Ok, you might be saying that my judgmental nature has kicked in because of the expected anxiety associated with a change in bedding, and you may well be right. Any new bedding purchase may well necessitate a change in my whole bedroom/dining room color scheme. Right now, I am maintaining the duvet-with-changing-duvet-covers (navy blue, sage, and plum colors) option, but I am seriously considering a major change.

First, my present duvet must go. It sustained a small cat-induced rip when I got it and occasionally sends out tiny feathers like little allergy emmisaries to remind me that the sovereign nation of Duvet still exists. Part of me wants to do away with the duvet option all together. I really hate having to launder and change the covers, it's really not warm enough, and I'm finally willing to come to terms with the fact that I'm not Norwegian. On the other hand, from the looks of things, anyone who is Anyone is still hanging tight with the duvet (Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, DKNY). Enough with this, though - let's talk "style." What is my personal style? Right now, it's solids, but I secretly lust after patterns, nice ones. To my own chagrin, my bedroom style is skewing a bit adolescent, though. My first choice for bedding was called "Maui" which is a pattern which doesn't exist in anything other than the "twin" size. This means that those who enjoy this pattern aren't likely to be "getting busy" on top of or under it. Not acceptible.

On an in-person visit to K-Mart (chilling, I know), I found a rather staid browny, red-dy, peachy paisley set (which I can't seem to find online - your loss). I think I was a bit partial to this pattern because it would match the Indian hanging splitting my "bedroom" off from the living room, and it would fit in nicely with my peach-colored accent wall. Not a good reason to buy something so boring, I know, but I'm a sucker for paisley anything.

After a bit more online searching, I found the groovy Colormate Casual Oregon Dye Patch comforter set. (The link for it expired, but it looked an awful lot like this picture of the Nautica "Cambridge" set.) This pattern looks great at a distance, but, up close, it seems like some frat boy/fishing buddy bisexual camping outing commemorative love comforter. I mean, it's flamboyant in a Brokeback Mountain "I'm not gay, am I?" kind of way. My question then is - if I get this comforter, am I going to risk plunging potential amours into the sea of haunting memories about lost (potentially male) lovers while trying to sustain my own passions? I think my only solution to this is a friend-wide poll to test these comforters' lovin' quotients. If you are a guy who is not related to me, please look at this comforter and ask yourself - would I be willing to have sex with someone on this bedding (please bear in mind that I shouldn't have anything to do with this visualization)? Oh - and thanks! Now, some bedding "awards":

The "who's on crack cocaine?" award goes to
Tommy Hilfinger for "Trina"

The "if this is wrong, who wants to be right?" award goes to Ralph Lauren for "Putney" (sorry, the link for this winner expired).

Finally, the "I would never buy this but I would date and marry the individual who did" award goes to the Havana1515 designers for "Vizcaya"

In conclusion, I'm still not satisfied with the comforters I've seen (not very "comforting" - eh? eh?!?). I have learned something, though. So many of us bemoan the state of society, citing either unqualified and inconsiderate political leaders, lack of compassion, or the media in ruining our mythic sense of a lost and formerly perfect world. What we may have been ignoring, though, are the decorative ramifications of these political and psychic tensions. What kind of world, I would ask, we are living in when I am forced to conclude that Ty Pennington and the good people at Joe Boxer are the only sane designers/design teams producing sub-par but affordable bedding (much less bedding I can actually look at)? And did people ever really enjoy their bedding purchases, or is that just another myth of idyllic consumerist satisfaction? Odds are, as I continue to mull over these disturbing realities, the only thing I am assured of is missing a good nights' sleep.

Compelling distractions
(written 13 November 2005)

I was taking a break from work earlier-you know-flipping around channels-and I happened upon the PBS presentation Elizabeth I. Damn. Talk about compelling! The actor playing Robert Dudley is named Tom Hardy, and I mean, the lips on this guy are driving me to distraction. Take a look, but, I warn you, you will fall directly into his mesmerizing lips. Ahem. He reminds me of Jack Noseworthy, who is really beautiful in movies (and lippy!) but looks really nerdy in publicity stills (I won't waste your time with a link). Mmm...lips...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Andretta Stone is Wrong About Melissa (the Friend) Who is Also a Bear (Chapter 1)
(written 26 November 2005)

The thing about authors is that they can't always be trusted. They face an influx of material - facts and fictions - and sort them in a way that seems them. Appropriate for a single narrative. Knowing that, we can't really fault Andretta Stone for getting it wrong. She's concerned with Chloe, you see. Who wouldn't be - Chloe is special. She is able to see auras (which regular people don't have), and she can suck up supernatural powers like a vaccuum. That's fantastic. I mean, I'm really excited by that. Chloe has friends who are just normal. They show up when nothing interesting is going on. They may think that they're the interesting part of the narrative, and they might have been in the past. But what do one's dating conquests or career promotions mean when one's friend is meeting vampires and sirens and dragons and that thing with the wings (I'm not sure what they call him)? Chloe's friends are a chorus - they respond to her but aren't allowed their own narratives. With this in mind, it's no wonder that Andretta Stone neglected to mention that Melissa has a wee special power: she can turn into a bear. Not a Were-Bear or some other magic bear but a garden (forest) variety bear. Problems with being a bear in a magical chic-lit narrative:

1. Bears don't have magical powers, but people who turn into bears must have magical powers.

2. Bears aren't useful in a magical capacity. In fact, bears aren't particularly useful in a non-magical capacity unless you are having a lot of people over for fresh salmon or are having turf wars with a gang of campers at a KOA campground. Or (as I indicated) you need to infiltrate a zoo.

3. Auras. I'm thinking that if people don't have them then bears wouldn't have them, either. Screw the "magic" that it takes to change from one to the other; natural is natural.

4. They can't wear clothes, therefore they can't wear sky blue.It is a very nice gesture to want to include one's friends in the narrative of one's life - fake or real. But this inclusion is pointless if the friend is not given her own requisite amount of glory. I say that Andretta Stone should take Melissa's name out of the narrative if she can't be a bear.