Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How privileged are you?

I find this is pretty poor taste, and yet I feel compelled to answer it... it's a "how privileged are you?" test, and I have bolded the true statements. The original authors of this exercise are Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, and Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.

1. Father went to college
2. Father finished college
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college
Does it matter if it was when I was in middle school?
5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician or professor
Am I forgetting anyone?
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
What does this even mean?
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.
I assume this is definitely true.
9. Were read children’s books by a parent
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
Piano was the longest-lasting one but there were some brief attempts at other stuff.
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
Well, unless you count the mocking in "Stuff White People Like" or the Obama "elitism" bullshit...
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
No! God bless scholarships.
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
16. Went to a private high school
17. Went to summer camp
Assuming "GATE" camp didn't count.
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels
I mean, not like the Four Seasons.
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
Nah, but this year I bought a hand-me-down, but for really cheap, so it almost counts?
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
25. You had your own room as a child
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school
It was my grandma's old one and it was pretty retro and kick-ass. But I suspect there is a generational difference in answering these questions. Lots more TVs sitting around when I was a kid.
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college
Hell, I don't own one now!
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
31. Went on a cruise with your family
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
Man, apparently privilege is synonymous with "artsy."
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family
Who isn't? I just knew Dad wanted us to turn off the lights when we weren't using them. Something I still am not always sure my roommate knows.

I got 20 out of 34. I will say that I think that I was very privileged growing up because my family cared a lot about arts and education and about me and my sister getting the most out of every opportunity. So even if we couldn't really afford stuff, we made it work. At least, that's my perspective on the whole thing. What's interesting to me is thinking that in comparison to so many kids I knew in college, I never really thought of myself as super privileged. I mean, these kids went to Disneyworld every year, their parents were neurosurgeons or what have you, they had gone on trips to Europe with their families instead of with their high schools, and my parents just finally got to Europe while I was there studying abroad. I feel really lucky, I guess I should say, that I got all the things I got. Anyway, this is a much bigger subject than this blog can really get into, and I feel somewhat touchier about it, even though it's actually a major issue for me. I can't count the number of times people in school assumed I was a trust-funder or that my parents were lawyers or something, maybe because I was white or maybe just because I went to Stanford. And it always bugged me a lot, because I felt like people didn't get that you could be smart and not have some legacy going back generations at some Ivy League school. That you could be a good person and not make a lot of money. I don't think anyone ever meant it that way, except for a rare one or two, but it always got under my skin, so these issues of "privilege" are important to me. Hence my posting this survey despite my cringiness about it.



I'm really rocking the random posts today. Be glad I didn't post, in addition to the pandas, the sleepy bear and the baby lions (but feel free to follow those links!). But, on the subject of baby things, Will Arnett and Amy Poehler are expecting their first child this fall, and if that baby is not hilarious from like age 2 minutes then I will be shocked and disappointed. However, I will get over that, provided the baby is hilarious at like, age 19, after having a somewhat quiet non-celebrity childhood, when he/she realizes that he/she is actually so funny he/she just can't keep it down and then emerges out of his parents' shadows, in such an inconspicuous way that people don't even realize, until they do and it is awesome.

I don't even plan my own kids' lives like this.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Suddenly it occurs to me that the Judd Apatow backlash might all be bullshit. Let me see if I can explain.

I saw "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" last night and I was pleasantly surprised by it. I really liked it, in fact. It was funny and sweet and not overly filled with the standard Apatow crew (although several of them, obviously, appeared, thank you Paul Rudd I love you). Halfway through I thought to myself, fuck, this is a romantic comedy. And here's the New York Times sitting around talking about how the romantic comedy industry is freaking out because they aren't managing to capture crowds the way "You've Got Mail" used to, and they all want another "Wedding Crashers," which was not that funny, nor was it really that romantic. The Judd Apatow backlash constantly refers to his talent for portraying the loser guy, who always inexplicably gets the girl, even though she is like ten billion times hotter than he is. But "Wedding Crashers" was way more of a guy movie than any Judd Apatow fare, and I really don't get how people keep missing that point... maybe it's whatever freakish portion of the female population finds Vince Vaughn attractive.

Anyway, the new(ish) standard Apatow critique is that his female characters are two-dimensional. I will grant you that, to a point. I get that there was not much female character development in "Knocked Up," and the movie was primarily about the guys, although in my opinion not so much the guys who all lived with Seth Rogen in the house but more about Seth and Paul Rudd, who produced the funniest and saddest and best scene in the movie (when they are high on shrooms in the Vegas hotel room). However, I still think that Leslie Mann, despite coming off as somewhat shrill at times, was nevertheless incredibly sympathetic in addition to being legitimately funny. And Katherine Heigl, despite being the hottie who somehow was desperate (?) enough to sleep with the nottie, still showed a considerable level of strength throughout the movie, and there were hints of complication around her (such as when she runs into her old friends after buying baby stuff, and wants to hide it -- she's got issues with this, even if they are somewhat snobbish ones).

The girls in "Superbad" somewhat inexplicably go for the boys in the story, despite the boys being total idiots (or at least Jonah Hill was. Michael Cera is always adorable). But that was a teen movie, and it was more of a teen party movie, less a teen romcom (a la "She's All That," which is not so much a com except when it's by accident).

"Forgetting Sarah Marshall" was not much different, although I would argue that sheerly because Kristin Bell is awesome she manages to give some depth, even if it was bitch-depth, to a role that could easily have been just a figurehead (forgive me since that's totally not the right word for a film role). Critics have claimed that she doesn't come off well even when she is trying to be sympathetic, but I disagree. I thought she is clearly a smart woman, who is clearly stuck in a career that she wants and does not want at the same time, and is negotiating a level of fame that she isn't really emotionally equipped for. Perhaps I'm interpreting, but I think that stuff is there, and it in part excuses her bitchiness. The other thing about this movie is that Jason Segel is much more likable than Seth Rogen in "Knocked Up," partly because he is more attractive and partly because he is written to be less of a total loser (although definitely not a success, he at least has managed to keep a job and date a girl for an extended period of time, and he has a treadmill, whatever that means), so it's much more understandable when Mila Kunis goes for him. Less of the total "shlub," in other words.

Anyway, all this is a long way of saying that it's true that the women in Judd Apatow romantic comedies (and romantic comedies they are, so don't deny it, boys) are arguably more two-dimensional than the guys in the movies. However, as a woman, I can say that usually, I like romantic comedies because I like the men in them at least as much as I relate to the women. At least in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," I related to Sarah Marshall (on a more shallow level than, say, I relate to Sally in "When Harry Met Sally," but that is Nora Ephron's genius so I cannot explain further). The best romantic comedies out there have both relatable women and attractive (I mean physically and personality-wise) men. The worst have bland women and boring men. There are some, like "My Best Friend's Wedding," where the woman is supremely relatable but the guy is not really super appealing except in the way that you so completely identify with Julia Roberts that you competitively want her to win him and he therefore becomes desirable. And there's "Two Weeks Notice," where Sandra Bullock is sort of meh (I can't relate to her, I don't get it) but Hugh Grant is bumbling and sort of incapable of taking care of himself and I love that movie. So the one thing Apatow has going for him is that his movies have somewhat realistic men, who also happen to be attractive, despite being legitimately flawed both physically and emotionally. I think that's why I've gotten more of a kick out of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" than the romantic comedies I've watched recently -- and why, when I want to see a cute movie as of late, I dive into the archives instead of bothering to see a new one. Apatow movies aren't really guy movies. They still end well. "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" had its fair share of sort of fuzzy sunset moments. It also featured "pearl necklace" jokes and a pretty long (no pun intended) male frontal nudity moment/scene. So at risk of sounding like a moron and betraying my feminist roots, I think these movies are sort of unisex. And I consider that a strength, in a world where "romantic" movies have been relegated to the same world as chick lit and pink covers and all that. They are genuine crossovers, and I think the reason people are worried about them being sexist is less because they actually are and more because men actually go see the movies, and like them, and no one seems to be inclined to call them a click flick. So it's a case of a hyper-reaction, or something.

Anyway, this has been a very long ramble and I'm sure I'm leaving something out and probably will disagree with myself at a later point. But I'm pretty sure I'll be seeing "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" again, so I guess that's sort of the ultimate point, right?

(Side note: It reminded me of "50 First Dates." Just fun fact!)

All this inspired by this.

Kiss the rain

If they really put Dawson's Creek on the new (so absurd), it will be so awesome. I can only wish that they keep the original music. The fact that they changed the music on the DVDs -- including the theme song -- is still one of the things that rankles me most, outside of real life issues like global warming and all that. Seriously! I mean, can you imagine this scene with any different song??

I'm dying a little bit right now. Ah! Seriously! I must find the tapes I had of all the episodes and get them digitalized...

Book from Yo Momma

Yeah, this is actually happening. I continue to be pissed at myself for not coming up with this idea first. And will obviously buy the book.

Pandas make you smile

I sat down to watch this video sort of daring myself not to smile and instead just giggled the whole time. Pandas are such strange creatures -- they sort of roll into things, they look like dolls, or beanbags, or clay, or something. Anyway, but they are also pretty damn cute, and those little eeping sounds they make certain don't hurt.

(NPR via CuteOverload)

I have to add here that when I saw BJ Novak do standup a couple months ago, one of his funniest bits was about how pandas are endangered, but it's hard for scientists to get pandas to mate. "Pandas! Don't think other pandas are cute!" was the punchline, and I still think it's hilarious.

I can't believe I'm still talking about this

A pretty awesome Daily Show clip about the whole Wright controversy. I have to agree with Jon Stewart here (when do I not?). You sure can't say he's not charismatic.

Obama made another speech separating himself further from Wright and the general opinion on it is positive. I guess I never felt like Wright was that crazy, nor did I think it was necessary (since it seems fucking obvious to me) for Obama to point out that just because he went to church with this guy does not mean that he agrees with everything he says. I also think it's sort of absurd to assume that Obama in church is the same as Obama in government or campaign. I feel like I have different parts of my life where I may indulge myself in certain opinions or habits or whatever, but they do not bleed over into other parts of my life and indeed, they just give me more to think about and different perspectives. Has no one considered that maybe Wright's church was that for Obama? Having read "Dreams from my Father," I recognize that Obama has some anger, and he relates to the anger of minorities, perhaps specifically black people, against the inequalities that exist in this country. That obviously is a theme in Wright's church/sermons. And I think it is okay for Obama to have some anger and even to indulge it a little. Maybe he gets some of that anger worked out in church, maybe it gives him a way of thinking about things, or a way to connect with people who feel the same way. I'm speculating, but I could see this being true. Anyway, the bottom line is that this is all absurd, because we're still forgetting that there are shit tons of asshole white preachers out there, one of whom was sought out for endorsement by the McCain campaign! Jon Stewart, take it away again...

Whatever. I should stop writing about this shit and start talking about the issues. You know, like how Hillary Clinton and good ol' John McCain (who I am terrified is going to show up in my dreams some day, like some evil tottering gnomey grandfather demon) wants to repeal the gas tax, which is REALLY STUPID (and I link to just this one article out of the many, many possible links talking about how that plan will not work, nor will it do anything about, oh, I dunno, global warming, or the economy).

(via, via)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This is really what me and my friends do for fun.

We are ahead of a trend. Or something.

A couple of months ago, at some random person's 11th (read: 44th; it was February 29th) birthday party somewhere in the depths of SOMA at like 4am, I commanded the friends I was with to "dance to the music in their head!" The DJ at this place was incredibly lame, and did not have the stuff we wanted them to play, and so I felt that this was the only solution. It was pretty sweet. Perhaps you had to be there. It was the weirdest crowd ever, in a dance studio that had been converted into a party locale. There were only about 40 people there, alcohol was for despite it being a private party, and there was a line for the bathroom (I suspect now because the bathroom was probably the hot spot, and perhaps there were lines in the bathroom as well as outside it). But we had a grand ol' time dancing to the music in our heads.

Then, in Belize, on the craziest night of the trip (the one that started with me and Justin "bonding" -- for the sake of research -- with this drunk 40-something Kentuckian at the pool bar at two in the afternoon), I was taking a little cat nap (ok, I was sleeping it off) when suddenly Dan woke me up and handed me an iPod. I was confused. What was going on? Why did I need this iPod? What was the point? I quickly realized that all of us had iPods! We were dancing to the music in our heads! This proceeded for quite some time, and I ended up ditching my iPod with its legit music and just shared headphones with Laurel (who, to be fair, was using my second iPod, what a yuppie I am, seriously). The thing you need to understand is, Laurel has ridiculous taste in music. Ridiculous in the sense that it is amazing and totally singular and specific to her. There are those of us who can tolerate it, and who even love it, but none of us could have originated it. I will at some point post a list of the songs that are on the "Laurel Party Mix," but until then just trust me: it's ridiculous.

The iPod party continued for some time. We ended up boarding the water taxi to town while still listening to the Laurel Party Mix. (The boys, I must admit, straightened up and did not listen to their music on the boat.) We fist-pumped the entire way there. At one point someone on the boat apparently made a judgy comment about "Where'd we learn those dance moves, Muhammad Ali?" (Or some other boxer, I am not sure.) I was in quite the aggressive mood that day (blame the rum punch), and so I responded with something like "Whatever, you don't even know, you couldn't understand," or perhaps something a little more colorful. Then someone remarked on what we were listening to (did I mention that we were singing out loud the entire time too? On a crowded boat flying alongside a Belizean coastline in the dark?). Either Laurel or I told them it was "the fucking Pet Shop Boys." (It really was.) This led to one of the top quotes from the trip: one passenger explaining to the other that the Pet Shop Boys were "a homosexual band from the 80s." Classic.

I will stop reminiscing now, except to say that after returning from San Pedro back to our resort, and after the best grilled cheese sandwich I've ever had in my life, we continued the iPod dance party. On the beach. In the wee hours of the morning. It was the strangest communion with nature and fellow man that I can really imagine. And Laurel fist-pumped so hard once that she jammed her elbow into my head. We are really, really cool.

And! This is the entire point of this post -- we are also apparently really trendy, without even realizing it, and possibly with less trendy music (although probably whatever Dan and Justin were listening to was way legit. I think James just listened to "La Isla Bonita" a lot, which I cannot blame him for since it's about the island we were staying on!). Seriously. There was a "silent rave" in New York recently.

Then, Dan's younger brother was in Sao Paulo and participated in a "Silent Disco."

This is apparently a large global trend and we totally did it before it was cool.

Thus concludes my delirium-induced self-indulgent blog post of the day. Also, I should clarify that the picture at the top of this post is one of the only ones from the iPod party in Belize. It doesn't show that all of us were participating. But it does indicate the awesomeness, if I do say so myself. You know, the haze, the warm glow, the blur, the headiness of it all. (UPDATE: I changed this photo from the original after consultation with Justin.)

P.S. Because this blog post would not be complete without another non sequitor (although at least it's not a parenthetical (damn)): "Today, we saw a junkyard dog attacking the bones of a rotisserie chicken." "Nature."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekend Lessons

This is probably one of those things you shouldn't write about on the internet, but whatever, I am sort of delirious and it was one of my big weekend discoveries, so I am going to write about it anyway. I was in Santa Cruz this weekend, with a bunch of friends, on a quest to understand "what it's like to grow up in Santa Cruz" (we had three natives to show us around). Unfortunately, upon waking up Saturday morning, I realized that I felt like total shit and realized I seemed to have developed a cruel full-blown virus of some kind. So while my buddies were ordering mimosas at brunch, I was resisting evil egg dishes and guzzling water... and taking the Xanax that my friend offered me to help relax. I had fierce body aches and was struggling to find any kind of over-the-counter drug to help with that (ibuprofen being acceptable for headaches, but otherwise utterly unhelpful, plus it's kind of like I take it so much it doesn't do anything anymore, the way caffeine used to be for me before I gave it up). So while I whined about needing some kind of full-body relaxer, my friend busted out the Xanax, and boy did that shit do the trick. I only wish I'd had more than one, because it was really the only thing that made Saturday tolerable. (That, and I slept for like two hours at the beach, then went back to our home base and slept more, then woke up, ate dinner, and then went back to sleep. I really have no idea how all that sleep didn't cure me.) I really went to my happy place.

Lesson learned: prescription drug abuse might be a good idea.

Kidding. Mostly.

Who knew?

I admit that the only reason I jumped onto this link was because Bookslut pointed out that this guy writes Jeopardy questions. It makes so much sense that a Jeopardy writer is also a poet. It makes me want to be a Jeopardy writer. And a poet. Anyway, I liked this one:

Valentine’s Day

Before we start to cover for each other
There are some questions you will have to answer
— More than formality, less than ordeal —,
Young lady: Where’d you get that smile of silk?
What master painted you those heavenly eyes?
And as you take those issues up: Are you smart,
Slyly so? Does your speech sputter along
Then make radical swerves into the clear?
If so, no wonder this purple night is ours
Down to the raindrops in the gutter where they belong.
You understand I wouldn’t know love if it hit me
In the eye, where its image could make a home.
You have to keep on reaching me with words,
Using ones like “contingency” correctly
And “fatuous” in unexpected ways,
Summoning up a lifetime when you say
"…to northern Arizona," shooting phrases
Straight to the heart, out of the reach of thought.


More on Wright

Somehow I feel like this is not going to help anything:

Mr. Wright said: “On November the 5th and on January 21st, I’ll still be a pastor. As I’ve said, this is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright. It has nothing to do with Senator Obama. This is an attack on the black church launched by people who know nothing about the African- American religious tradition.”

This may be true, but it's the kind of thing that will stir up the pot even more than it already has been. All these media types are just primed and ready to jump on anything that sounds remotely racial or accusatory (or both).

I wrote a lot more about this and then went back to reread it and deleted it. I decided that plain speech, and expression of opinion or belief, is more important than toeing the political line, even if it's the kind of speech that gets you (or that senator who used to be in your congregation) into trouble.

Still, I can't help it, whenever I read things that Wright says, I think it must be pretty interesting to know him. Whether you agree with him or not, and even, maybe especially, if you disagree with him, he must give you a lot to think about. And that is something to feel good about, I think.

Friday, April 25, 2008

CNN Exercise

I have started watching "The Situation Room" 0n mute with closed captions while at the gym in the afternoons. I get really angsty while watching the show because one commentator will say something I totally agree with and then the next says some more total bullshit and I can't squeal with indignation because I am in the middle of the gym with a bunch of people, and so I instead have to bury my rage deeply and try to exorcise it via, well, exercise (who knew!?). Today for the first time since I've watched it they had Tony Snow on. He and Jack Cafferty got in quite the tiff. Jack was absolutely spot on, because he was talking about how Hillary is definitively behind in the race, and has to win all the next states with like 60% of the vote, and all the other folks started talking shit about whether or not Obama could get the white working class vote or whatever. Anyway, the best part was when Cafferty just said straight up to Tony Snow, "People are really tired of your former boss and they are ready for change in the White House," and then the two of them went back and forth with Cafferty spitting (I imagine) the phrase "your boss" out as often as possible. Like, way to stick it to him. Snow looked smug, like you would expect, and I got more angry and went faster on the elliptical.

Random note on Jonathan Franzen

I love Jonathan Franzen. I read "The Corrections" and I actually found it somewhat meh, too much suburban angst for me and the whole plot with Cam or whatever the oldest pervy professor son's name was in Eastern Europe eerily reminiscent of "The Russian Debutante's Handbook," but there is no denying that Franzen is a great writer. I just think I prefer his non-fiction. I actually loved "The Discomfort Zone," self-indulgence be damned, and this morning I read (most of, it was a long piece and the shuttle ride was shorter than usual) his latest piece for the New Yorker, "The Way of the Puffin" (abstract only), about China and environmentalism and development and shit. He is just really good at saying things just perfectly. Observe:

About his Chinese guide: "He had the fashionably angular eyeglasses and ingratiating eagerness of an untenured literature professor."

The best part about him, besides the occasional little funny things that always catch me off guard, is that he's just as good at summing up real issues as he is about pinpointing these exactitudes. And he's honest about his flaws, even while embracing them in that self-indulgent way of his, in a way that somehow seems to make you question yourself and your motivations, as if he's sort of rubbing off the patina of self-satisfaction. Like here: "I could make a pretty good ethical argument for our responsibility to other species, and yet I wondered whether, at root, my concern for biodiversity and animal welfare might be a kind of regression to my childhood bedroom and its community of plush toys: a fantasy of cuddliness and interspecies harmony." As a stuffed animal girl myself, this struck me, especially since earlier in this same New Yorker there was a ridiculous article about these tigers in India who actually eat people, like, on a regular basis, just grab them by the throat and drag them off into the jungle. (They obviously only do it when humans are in their territory, they don't like wander purposefully into villages, usually, but they do it without provocation and there's basically no way to avoid it, not like standing tall to make a bear scared of you.)

Anyway this is a largely pointless post, just yet another stream of consciousness, and I really needed to share those little nuggets of Franzen. God, I'm glad it's Friday.

An American Wife

I am really not sure how I feel about this.

I love, love, love Curtis Sittenfeld, primarily because of Prep. And Man of My Dreams, while I didn't like it as much, was still pretty damn good. (I think that the Prep vs. Man of My Dreams argument is very similar to the Everything is Illuminated vs. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close argument, in the whole first-novel-is-it-better-or-worse-than-second-novel sense, and I'm on the first novel side in both cases.) She is good at pinning down these very particular feelings, that most of the time you don't bother to describe because it's too ephemeral or too sort of shameful or embarrassing, but that you encounter all the time. But I just don't know how I feel about the premise of this next book. I think it's mostly because I don't really have any interest in Laura Bush; I think she seems boring, and not that smart, and her face always looks the same, and so the idea of reading a book based on her, written in first person, no less, doesn't appeal to me much. But it's Curtis!

I will still, obviously, pre-order it.


I had a dream I met Joan Didion. I wanted to tell her I loved her, but I thought she'd resist that kind of girlish display. It was like in Can't Hardly Wait when Jenna Elfman, in angel stripper ("I'm a dancer") outfit, tells Preston how sad she was that she didn't say anything to Scott Baio when he came to her mall.

My dreams are very weird lately.

("This is just like that Scott Baio thing. When I was 16, I had the biggest thing for Scott Baio. I mean, this went back to the "Happy Days" years... not to mention "Joanie Loves Chachi." God, I hated her. Joanie. See, I always knew that somehow... I'd meet him. Like if I wanted it bad enough, I could make it happen. And it did... right after his first season of "Charles in Charge," he was doing this mall tour, and he came here to our mall. It was like everything was finally falling into place. You know, like it was --" "Fate." "Yeah! So I went, you know. And I had this red bandana... 'cause, you know, Chachi always wore that red bandana. And I waited there outside. And I was the first person when he pulled up. He got out of that car-- He was so beautiful. And he looked right at me. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't say anything. I couldn't move. I never even talked to him, and he was right there. I still have that red bandana.")

Politics Friday

Still very much considering this Tumblr rollover... Perhaps next week. In the meantime, just a few more fun political links. (You know, to counteract all that ridiculous French pop music.)

First, the worst op-ed ever. Or, at least, just a very bad one. I don't so much care if they denounce McCain or not (though the press could stand to do that a bit more), but these arguments against Obama continue to be moronic.

People keep asking how Obama could have lost in PA after outspending Hillary 3 to 1 -- and talking about how it's impossible for him to win white men. Well, he gained support among white men, seniors, white women, and those earning less than $50,000 a year compared to Ohio. Plus, on the subject of outspending, well, he has more money to spend -- and doesn't that say something about the viability of his candidacy?

Finally, on the absolute absurdity of the Clinton campaign's "We are winning the popular vote" argument. That only applies if you include Florida and Michigan, where Obama wasn't even on the ballot, and ignore the caucuses. For someone who denies that the election is "about the math" and given that her supporters were, until recently, arguing that this is a race about delegates, she seems to be getting desperate. Seriously, it's one thing to argue that she is gaining back momentum, and that's why she should stay in the race. It's another thing to bitch about a system that she was totally okay with when it started... and that is an established way of nominating candidates in this country. You can't change the rules in the middle of the game, and I just hope this spin isn't actually convincing anyone.

Ooh, and! Just as a bonus, a bit on the candidate's spouses. Bill Clinton is still a liar (make sure to read the transcripts). And McCain says mean things to his wife. I don't have any dirt on Michelle Obama. I kind of think she's awesome.

Yeah, so I read DailyKos a lot. So sue me. This is literally a brain dump of everything I've talked about and thought about in the past day and a half.


I have these new friends who are Francophiles. They both studied in Paris and one of them lived there for a while too after college. Thanks to these girls, I've now been introduced to something awesome: Yelle.

I had heard of Yelle through random music blogs, but never really taken the time to listen to her. She is this fab French pop singer who is basically like Feist if Feist was really bouncy and crazy and fist-pumping on stage and actually French instead of just something of a Francophile (and Canadian, which is close-ish to being French). I have no idea what any of her lyrics mean except sometimes she says "Yeah!" and apparently she has a song making fun of the "French Eminem" (to quote my friend Zoe) and another one about her best friend, her vibrator. And she puts on a damn good show. We saw her at the Independent and it was basically like a great dance party with lots of fist pumping and jumping. I have such a girl crush now. I mean, just look at her:

And if you think that outfit is ridiculous, you should have seen her dress last night -- red silk, with "smells like teen spirit" in giant capital sparkly black letters on the front and an outline of a clown face on the back. Loves it!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Equal pay?

Thanks to Justin for drawing my attention to this fun piece of news:

Republican Sen. John McCain, campaigning through poverty-stricken cities and towns, said Wednesday he opposes a Senate bill that seeks equal pay for women because it would lead to more lawsuits.

"I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what's being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems," the expected GOP presidential nominee told reporters. "This is government playing a much, much greater role in the business of a private enterprise system."

Hate away, please.

I especially like this part:

McCain stated his opposition to the bill as he campaigned in rural eastern Kentucky, where poverty is worse among women than men. The Arizona senator said he was familiar with the disparity but that there are better ways to help women find better paying jobs.

"They need the education and training, particularly since more and more women are heads of their households, as much or more than anybody else," McCain said. "And it's hard for them to leave their families when they don't have somebody to take care of them.

Because, you know, clearly the only reason why women are not being paid equally is because instead of being educated and training they were birthin' babies.



Aside from the racism stuff in PA, this was my must-read of yesterday (another casualty of quick blogging as a result of Blogger's 4pm downtime incompetence). It basically puts a big hole in Clinton's "more electable" argument.

I should add that I don't mean to antagonize people with this. I don't think Clinton should withdraw from the race, and I don't think Obama's campaign thinks that either. But it will be very hard for her to win it, and I do think that the longer Obama and Clinton struggle with each other the better McCain's chances are in the fall. So my sights are on that. I do believe that the Democratic party leaders should try to push superdelegates to make a decision by or soon after the May 6 primaries, because we need time as a party to regroup and recover from all this madness. And, I also believe that the decision should be in Obama's favor (obviously). I just wanted to clarify my standing on this for my pro-Clinton readers, and I hope you think I'm being fair-minded.

"Just too extreme for NC"?

I wanted to post this yesterday but Blogger was down for a scheduled update or something. It always goes down at like 4pm PST, which I don't think the people of Blogger realize is the worst time for it to be down because it's the end of the work day here and you are always sort of stalling for time because you can't start a new project at work but instead are just trying to do little things. At least, I am. However. Back to it.

So the news of yesterday is that the North Carolina Republican party plans to run an ad starting Monday that shows clips of Reverend Wright and says Barack Obama is "just too extreme for North Carolina." It's ostensibly against the two Democrats running for governor there, but obviously it's not really, and it's more useless shit. What's interesting about it is that McCain is denouncing the ad and saying that "There's no place for that kind of campaigning, the American people don't want it, period." I thought this was pretty fascinating because that piece on McCain in the David Foster Wallace book I mentioned a while ago on this blog talks about how smooth McCain and his team were in 2000 as far as subtly negotiating the negative aspects of campaigning, in order to benefit from others' negativity and gloss over his own. Sadly I loaned the book to my mom, so I can't find the spot, but it was nevertheless the first thing I thought of when, at the gym today, I saw some bit on CNN saying that McCain can look like a friendly teddy bear by denouncing the ad, but that he will still benefit from the ad being out there because a) it's already out (God bless, or is it God damn?, YouTube), and b) it's not like he really has much right to complain about it I guess. Of course his campaign vehemently denied that charge, but it's still pretty fascinating.

Another reason I'd like to see Obama go up against McCain this November is that I really think that it might lead to a more civil campaign than if Clinton was in the race, just because too many people hate her and because she's such a lightning rod for all this quibbling shit.

The ad has been taken down in a few spots (like the New York Times' Caucus), but you should probably be able to see it over at Wonkette. It's classic terrible campaign ad.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Race in PA

So, this will surely bring out the comments, or the peanut gallery, or you know, the two people I have reading this who post a lot when I talk about things like this (you know who you are):

Sixteen percent of white voters said race mattered in deciding who they voted for, and just 54 percent of those voters said they would support Mr. Obama in a general election; 27 percent of them said they would vote for Mr. McCain if Mr. Obama was the Democratic nominee, and 16 percent said they would not vote at all.

Just fantastic. Right before I read this, I had been thinking the obviously stereotypical although still partly true thought: "doesn't success among white working class voters in rural areas probably mean success among the more racist sections of our society?"

According to these exit polls quoted in the Times, the answer to my question is essentially yes. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Here's my favorite person ever, Nora Ephron, on the subject:

This is an election about whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women. And when I say people, I don't mean people, I mean white men. How ironic is this? After all this time, after all these stupid articles about how powerless white men are and how they can't even get into college because of overachieving women and affirmative action and mean lady teachers who expected them to sit still in the third grade even though they were all suffering from terminal attention deficit disorder -- after all this, they turn out (surprise!) to have all the power. (As they always did, by the way; I hope you didn't believe any of those articles.) To put it bluntly, the next president will be elected by them: the outcome of Tuesday's primary will depend on whether they go for Hillary or Obama, and the outcome of the general election will depend on whether enough of them vote for McCain. A lot of them will: white men cannot be relied on, as all of us know who have spent a lifetime dating them.

I had to add that last quip at the end because Nora's acerbity when it comes to men just warms my cold heart.

(Before you say it, yes, I know that like 90% of black voters vote for Obama. So I get that this is a two way street. But I reserve the right to be indignant about this kind of example of enduring racism in this country.)

(Two more posts on the subject here and here.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dysfunctional Family Tree

Ah, further clicking on websites is good. This cartoon makes my drawing fingers itch. I really would love to do a similar chart for my family, except, you know, that might be bad somehow. (Not that I don't love my family, but exaggerating weird characteristics would result in a similar chart.) At least, on the Internet it would be.


"the next Hillary"

I have a friend who is working on the Clinton campaign. She's actually working, not just volunteering, as it's part of her regular job (she works for a small, Emily's List type place). We have had a few diplomatic conversations about the campaign and I respect the reasons she's supporting Clinton (basically it seems to boil down to the "Day One" experience argument, plus feminism). One thing we talked about this morning, in the middle of her Election Day madness (she is on the ground in Pittsburgh this week), was how, win or lose, what we'd like to take from this election is this idea that we are the next powerful women in this country. As she put it: "what I realized last night was that if Hillary doesn't get this I think that as a young woman and a feminist this is our wakeup call, this is our launching ground. It will be up to our generation to produce the next Hillary."

I'm not supporting Clinton, but that is not to say I don't incredibly sympathize with her. I do agree that she is in a tough spot, and a lot of the reasons she is disliked and forced into corners and coming out to "twist the knife" as Obama put it is because things are not easy for her as a powerful woman in a male-dominated field, or even a male-dominated world. She is damned if she does, and damned if she doesn't. And I don't like the way that makes her behave (and I also don't think that her personality is entirely a product of the way our society treats women, but it's a significant part of it), and I want Obama to win because I want fresh blood and I believe in his movement and I think it's amazing that someone has gotten the whole country excited, and for a lot of reasons. But I do want a woman president someday, sooner rather than later, and I think that my friend is right about this being a wake-up call. We have to be able to find another way to be a woman in this country, to embrace our femininity and our strength, to be powerful without being or being called bitchy or shrewish, to show weakness from time to time without losing our footing and the respect of others. I hope we can do that, and I believe we can. (Yes, we can!)

On that note, I've got my fingers crossed for Obama in Pennsylvania today. Polls are all over the place and there's no way to predict, I'm just hoping for something good.


Orges sent this to me, and it's hilarious.


Bookish brews

This. Is. Awesome.

Now I'm about to go on a ramble. The other day I was idly talking to Dan about how I could accompany my autobiography with a beer tasting. Much like how Rob in High Fidelity can musically illustrate his life, I can illustrate my life through beer. Then yesterday Justin sent me this link, which argues (not unreasonably) that starting an autobiography about your life with booze is one of 40 things that all drunkards should do. So the autobeerography idea got a little tainted by the whiff of, well, alcoholism. However. I still think it's pretty awesome. I would start with tiny sips of Miller (an homage to my dad letting me sip it as a kid). Then I'd move on to a Corona with lime, the first adult beer I ever had. Then, a game of quarters with Coors Light bottles (my hands used to actually get injured from twisting off bottlecap after bottlecap. I'm still a little shocked that my quarters skills were so good, and that I survived). Some Rolling Rock, because, believe it or not, that was my beer of choice for most of sophomore year (I would hide my personal stash in my closet to keep other people away from it). Then on to some English bitters or real ales, in honor of my time abroad in Oxford (really, when my beer appreciation began). Then some good ol' American craft brews, like Fat Tire or Sierra Nevada, my beers of senior year. And then Tequiza, the beer that got me and Sean started on our mad beer obsession. Some highlights from said obsession, including a New York region tasting in honor of the 60 beers I lugged back across the country. Then I'd have to throw in some PBR, because without it San Francisco would not be the same, and finally some various killer beers I've had recently, like perhaps a Magnolia strong beer, and a Double Daddy.

Anyway, all that is just to say that this beer and books conceit is really cool, and if I wrote a novel I'd definitely pair it with a beer. The question is, which one?!

(from Bookslut)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Move On, indeed.

Primary story of the day: Clinton trash talking

In some ways I feel like I need a Tumblr to post about these thing the way I want to. A quick hit. On the other hand I wonder if I need to post, all over the internet, the blog posts that anyone else could read on their own without me directing them there. Still, this one is pretty interesting. Clinton gave Obama shit for being overly liberal and elite (elitism being the main charge, but too liberal being the submerged innuendo, because you know all those anti-gun gay San Francisco atheists who go to Obama fundraisers), and now she is rejecting MoveOn for being too liberal, and all I can think is that this is all a good sign. Not for the election, but for the truth in the idea that Obama is the candidate working to change up the stereotypes and privileges and old way of doing politics. At least, that is one way of looking at it.

I'm tired of hearing Hillary Clinton sound like a Republican talk show host. Well, a mild one.

Not long now until we see how all this shit plays out in a real election. Crossing my fingers.

Friday, April 18, 2008

America and Muslim countries

There is a pretty interesting article about the founding fathers relationship with religion, and, therefore, the separation of church and state. All this bullshit about the country being founded by evangelicals is wrong, which I guess I sort of knew (Franklin, Jefferson and all that), but didn't really know with a lot of conviction, I suppose. I guess I figured when people talked about that they meant all the Pilgrims and such, not the founding fathers themselves. However, that's not the issue here. What stood out to me in the article (although I liked the whole thing) was this particular passage:

In June of 1797, just three months before Tyler’s novel was published, the American captives in North Africa were freed by the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President John Adams. The treaty’s Article 11, an assurance that the United States would not engage in a vengeful holy war, read, “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

I know we're not in a holy war or anything, and terrorism is a legitimate problem, but it's just an interesting comparison to George W's language about evil and such.

You can read the whole thing here. (That was just a tiny part of it, most of it is not about Muslim countries at all.)

Square fruits

I've seen this everywhere but it's pretty cool. This guy took great photos of foods that take the shapes of their containers. I could really imagine these blown up big on someone's wall, maybe at a sort of hip diner type restaurant even, but at a hip someplace. My favorite one is the raisins, although the peas made me kind of long for eating frozen peas, still frozen. On that note, it's pretty much frozen grape season.

Related! I just found out yesterday that in Japan, watermelons are square, to make them easier to fit in the fridge. Seriously!

Family Portraits

My dad sent me this awesome old photo today. I clearly remember when we took it... I don't remember why, but it was early in the morning on some weekend when I was in high school, and for some reason Dad dragged us out to take photos even though we were all kind of disheveled still. Actually, our best family photos are taken in situations like that. What amazes me about this one is my hair. I'm like some kind of Lady Godiva or something, only with clothes.

See what I mean about the best family photos being taken when we're all disheveled?

Olafur Eliasson

I'm still bummed I only got to see the Olafur Eliasson exhibit at the SFMoMA once. It was really amazing... sort of awe inspiring, the kind of exhibit where you are sort of stunned into silence. This morning I stumbled across the New York Times review of the Eliasson show happening in New York right now, at the MoMA and P.S.1. Man, way to make me jealous I don't live in New York. There is a slideshow, however, so I can pretend. Plus, I can be satisfied that I got to see the Weather Project in London approximately a million times. If only I could be some kind of self-sustained billionaire and could fly back and forth the country for weekend trips to see things like Murakami exhibits and Patrick Stewart in Macbeth. Blah.

Plus, Olafur Eliasson is so fun to say.

London Town

I am a sucker for the New York Times' "36 hours in..." travel feature. I don't really know why -- the kinds of things they recommend would take much more than 36 hours, but I guess you don't need to take it literally. I was thrilled to see a piece on London this morning, and then even more excited when I realized it was 36 hours in literary London! I really need to go back there, primarily because the three days I spent in London when it was actually sunny and somewhat springlike were some of the best I ever had there, and I think a week sometime in the summer would be awesome, albeit tourist heavy. (Compare that to the city on Christmas Day.) But I've never seen a play at the Globe! I've never had a picnic in a park there! So this piece definitely stoked the flames of London love. I haven't been to any of the spots except the Globe and the British Library, which, by the way, is amazing. One of my favorite experiences there.

Now, to sit at work and be grumpy.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

He sucks, that's why.

Another reason to not like McCain.

Obama's post-debate thoughts

Obama bites back. He's right, too.

Thinking of David Cross sexually freaks me out.

This is really weird.

Facebook Lexicon

Facebook's Lexicon is probably the coolest thing Facebook has done since photos. I haven't played around on it that much but just the examples I've seen have been such a glimpse at the zeitgeist, it's more interesting (sorry to be saying this, employer) than Google Zeitgeist. Look at these two links and the spikes... the insane clustering around New Year's Eve and Halloween in one, and then just Halloween in the other. The first one is especially interesting.

What I want is to be able to localize it just to San Francisco and check out how frequently people post "drunk" or "hangover" on the day of and after Bay to Breakers, otherwise known (at least by some of us) as the best day of the year.

Edit: I just checked out how "Clinton" and "Obama" compare and it's pretty interesting too. You get both "Super Tuesdays" (Feb and March), and there's an obvious Obama bias, no surprise. I added "Hillary" and that ups the Clinton count, no surprise.

Credit goes to Peattie for pointing this out to me.

Debating the debates

I've reached this point where I show up to work and read like 800 blog posts and news articles purely about the 2008 Democratic primary campaigns. Literally. I can't help myself, and I feel like each one, separately, contains at least one nugget of awesome important information. I've been trying to decide if that just means I've been sucked in or if it's because what I should do is turn this blog into what it has been almost by default lately, which is a source for pro-Obama and anti-McCain news. After the debate last night, you know I have lots of opinions. I didn't watch it but all sources seem to indicate it was a disaster, not entirely because of Obama's performance (though that was, again according to all sources, not great), but because the ABC moderators spent the entire first half of the debate talking about entirely pointless non-issues instead of anything serious that is actually facing the country. No war, no health care, no economy. Just all the bullshit. It's incredibly not surprising and incredibly disappointing and incredibly rage-fueling. And Hillary Clinton just went with it, which I know does not surprise many people (at least those who are anti-Clinton liberals), but I had been clinging (oh! bad word) to this notion that Clinton was not as bad as everyone said. But after all this, I'm just so frustrated that she's buying into this, or rather, that she's selling this. She is not a victim right now, she's a perpetrator, and I get the feeling it's been like this all along and I just didn't really want to admit it. But she is doing John McCain's job for him. How royally fucked up is that?

A few links...
-The entire debate on NYTimes website
-I've become freakishly hooked on Andrew Sullivan's blog, perhaps because he's as information-addicted as I am, even though he's one of those conservatives where I don't actually understand why he's conservative, and in general I try to read liberal-biased media (ha! some would say that's all media, but after yesterday, really, how could you agree?), even though that sounds stupid of me
-"Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?"
-A really interesting blog post about whether or not there will be backlash against Clinton for her negativity, and a lot about the "narratives" going on right now in the campaign (this is a "damn the MSM man" moment for me)
-All about the "shoddy, despicable performances" of the moderators last night. Highlight:

Obama was right on the money when he complained about the campaign being bogged down in media-driven inanities and obsessiveness over any misstatement a candidate might make along the way, whether in a speech or while being eavesdropped upon by the opposition. The tactic has been to "take one statement and beat it to death," he said.

Interesting pair of info about the definition of the "middle class" in America:

Sens. Clinton and Obama used different definitions of “the middle class” in answer to Charlie Gibson’s attempt to extract from them a “no new taxes” on the middle class from them. Hillary Clinton defined the middle class as families earning an income lower than $250,000, a definition with which I’d agree. Basically, that’s all but the top 1% of income earners. Sen. Obama’s definition was families earning an income below $75,000. I think that’s an extremely narrow definition. It doesn’t even include all of the fourth quintile who to me are obviously middle class. (via)

Compare that to this:

Charlie Gibson has been asserting that $200,000 is a solid middle-class income, blissfully unaware that just 3.4 percent of U.S. households have an income of $200,000 or more. You could be richer than 96 percent of your fellow citizens, but still just folks to Gibson.

This one particularly pisses me off because yesterday at the gym I was watching Lou Dobbs (I avoid cable news like the plague except on election returns nights, but it was on the big screen with subtitles) and they showed Michelle Obama talking about how her family was working class and Obama had just recently paid off his student loans and then immediately afterwards, another lame-ass "gotcha" move from the lame-ass TV networks, Dobbs said, with a gleeful look on his face, "But that was just before the Obamas released their 2007 tax returns and they made 4.whatever million dollars this year!" As though this proves that they are elitist, because they make money now. GAH.

I promise I won't exclusively post about this kind of stuff, since I don't exactly want to turn this into a hotbed of controversy, but it's all I can think about this morning. (That, and how to mitigate the effects of the Double Daddy and the Brother David I had at Gestalt last night. Prescription for overdosing on carbohydrates, admittedly in the form of sugar alcohols? MORE carbohydrates! Bring on the cereal and the Vitamin water!)

On a side note, which is not actually a side not but really a segue in my head since that's the way I'm operating today, I kind of feel like making one of those statements where I promise to be honest on my blog more often. Like the fact that I currently am hungover. Or whatever. But the point is just that I feel like I've neglected this poor thing and it could be better than it is.

So apparently the election isn't the only thing on my mind. It's just the primary thing. Which reminds me, if you are an Obama supporter, now would be a good time to donate.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Thinking about switching to Tumblr. How do we all feel about that?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Finding the moon

I just found out about the Knopf "Poem-a-day" mailing list, which apparently exists in April because it's National Poetry Month (incidentally it's also national grilled cheese sandwich month!). I feel like it's copping out somewhat to just pull poems from their list and post them here, as though I found this gemstone in the rough. Still, I wanted to post this one for two reasons. First, that there was a pretty interesting piece about O'Hara in the April 7 New Yorker, and second, that during our time in Belize we had an ongoing debate about where on Earth (forgive the scientific inaccuracy of that cliche) the moon was. We couldn't find it at all, any night, until finally we woke up at 5am to go diving/snorkeling way off the coast and there it was, the moon, glowing real as can be in the balmy morning. So this is in honor of that.

Avenue A

We hardly ever see the moon any more
so no wonder
it's so beautiful when we look up suddenly
and there it is gliding broken-faced over the bridges
brilliantly coursing, soft, and a cool wind fans
your hair over your forehead and your memories
of Red Grooms' locomotive landscape
I want some bourbon/you want some oranges/I love the leather
jacket Norman gave me
and the corduroy coat David
gave you, it is more mysterious than spring, the El Greco
heavens breaking open and then reassembling like lions
in a vast tragic veldt
that is far from our small selves and our temporally united
passions in the cathedral of Januaries

everything is too comprehensible
these are my delicate and caressing poems
I suppose there will be more of those others to come, as in the past
so many!
but for now the moon is revealing itself like a pearl
to my equally naked heart

The New York Canon

Since I need more lists in my life I was pretty interested when the New York Canon -- all the books about New York that you supposedly need to read (since 1960 or something) -- came out in New York magazine. I am sadly delinquent in reading them though, perhaps because I don't live in New York? Either way, I've only read one -- Kavalier and Clay -- and I have almost zero recollection of it.

What would you consider part of the San Francisco canon? I feel like I wouldn't fare too well at that either. I've never even read "Howl."

Side note: I've only seen 12% of the movies in the "canon," which means... something. I've read less than 4% of the books, though. Wow. It's these kinds of things that lead me to feeling stressed about behind behind in consumption of media.

(hat tip to Ellen for reminding me I meant to write about this)

Food Porn

So maybe it's because I signed up for a 12-week nutritionist program thing at work (because, well, why not?), but I've got food diaries on the brain. I hate to say it because I think it's only cute when tiny little girls say it, but I do really love food. It's just so delicious! (Dumb statement of the day.) It's no wonder, then, that I'm fascinated with blogs of food -- all my recipe blogs, and then these two I discovered the other day. One my friend Sara pointed out to me, and it's the blog of this girl who pretty-near obsessively chronicles her entire diet, including repeats like tofurkey sandwiches and oatmeal. I think the appeal of this one is in the control factor, which thanks to reality and Courtney Martin, I know is part of every woman's thing with food. Or at least it's part of mine. Then, the other blog I discovered through kottke, like everyone else on the Internet, and it's just these two architect women in New York who photograph all their lunches out... and, perhaps more bizarrely, all their incredible delectable afternoon snacks. They are seriously all these divine looking pastries, and I think I read this blog mostly just wondering how the women writing it aren't 600 pounds (which they could be) and diabetic. Still, that kind of wonder-at-delicious-looking food is a sort of fun feeling, even though I doubt that it's entirely healthy for me.

I used to also read Simply Breakfast, which is a photographer who documents all her breakfasts. I did once get a great idea for a breakfast from it, so that is pretty sweet. (Oh man, now having sudden craving for my avocado cheese toast, which I should more accurately call Simply Breakfast's avocado cheese toast.)

Now I think about it I think I am drawn to these sites for the same reason I am drawn to 3191 and Postcards From Yo Momma -- they are like little archaeological records of someone else's life, and I am left to put together the pieces and build up an imaginary person behind the food photos. And the sites also give this impression of order and stillness, the way I imagine my life could be if I were a superwoman.

The Internet is weird, I realize, but I love it.

Titanic food

I'm assuming that this doesn't count as confidential.

My "local" (i.e. 2 minute walk) cafe at work has themes each week. Last week it was something like Chinese takeout. This week I couldn't figure it out, except that I knew there were lots of delicious things (or at least, delicious sounding things. I haven't eaten the whole menu, nor am I likely to) -- baked apples, pork chops, roasted new potatoes, asparagus galore, and so on. I was a little confused, however, by the names of the salads and sandwiches, which were things like "Kate" and "Leo" and ... well, names from the movie Titanic.

Well, then through a series of random events occurring exclusively on e-mail lists I discovered that the theme of the week's menu is all food that was served on the Titanic, which explains so much. Then because I am an internet whore I (accidentally) stumbled across this list of the menu from the last meal served on the Titanic, and I am having a blast comparing it to my work menu. Let's just say that the salmon with mousseline sauce is incredibly delicious. (Though I haven't seen any squab or oysters yet. Even Google has limits.)

Random story!


Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama, Elitism, etc

Well, I know I'm full of promises for blogging more frequently but I have just been running around like mad. Since returning from Belize, I've had exactly two nights home alone and every other waking minute I've been surrounded by other people. Not exactly conducive to blogging. Also since returning from Belize, I've gotten re-sunburned, thrown one (semi) party, inaugurated the ridiculously amazing summer in San Francisco, taken up my soda habit again, gone to one baseball game (and been offered tickets to two others), and watched the newest episode of the office two and a half times. You get the idea. It's been busy, in the way that my life is always busy for totally unproductive reasons. (Until last night, when I finally paid my taxes and washed all the dishes that have accumulated since last Thursday.)

I need, need, need to do my big Belize post, but that won't happen today. Instead I'd like to post a few takes on the whole Obama "elitism" fracas. I have been trying to catch up on my campaign news, and suddenly I find myself super embedded in all these he-said-she-saids (literally and figuratively!). I believe that Obama could have phrased it all differently, but I don't think this should stand in the way of electing him. (I hope that it blows over in time for Pennsylvania.) I also just finished "Dreams from my father" which was pretty fascinating for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was Obama recounting his time as a community organizer in Chicago, when he spent all his time with the working class (albeit the black urban working class, or however you want to put it), and I never got the sense that he looked down on them. He sympathizes. He understands bitterness, and he is conflicted about elitism and class differences. So I stand by him still.

Here are a few interesting pieces:
-this one, which is comparing Obama's comments to some that Bill Clinton made back in the day
-a piece by Katherine Seelye of the Times, whose columns are consistently fascinating, about how the story was broken (broke?)
-good ol' Arianna Huffington, talking about how Hillary Clinton is using the GOP's tactics to tear down her own party (I normally have a pretty strong resistance to that line in the media, but I'm getting to the point where I agree with Huffington)

On the subject of Huffington, the piece in the New Yorker a few weeks ago about the death of print media/newspapers is actually much more interesting than I expected it to be (despite the incredible irony of the New Yorker, a mag whose average subscriber age has been increasing every year for ages, writing about the death of print media).

More later!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Grapes of Wrath

I reread the Grapes of Wrath for the first time on the plane home from Belize. (I love plane reading, I finish whole books all the time.) I am now all filled with thoughts from it. It fits in so perfectly with my crazy love of other people. I have three main books/movies that reinforce what should be the obvious ground rule of life, which is that other people are what matter and your relationships with other people are what is sacred in this life. I had dinner with a friend the other night who has just been broken up with, and it was a sad dinner, but it was a happy one too because I felt like I was building another relationship, and like I was being part of a support network for someone. I believe so strongly in the support network. At therapy, just prior to my dinner with my friend, I went on a mini-rant about it, and I kind of feel like the conversations I have with my support network are infinitely more valuable and productive than the ones I have with my therapist. (You may say that perhaps I should get a different therapist, and I agree with you.) But anyway, the point is there are three books that I believe in.

In About a Boy, in the movie at least (I haven't read the book in ages), Marcus decides that "Two people aren't enough. You need backup. You need three at least." Wholeheartedly, I concur. You can never pour all of your anxiety and worry and need into one person, and you can't keep it to yourself either. You need backup.

Then there is Kurt Vonnegut. The advocate for the extended family. I believe in many ways I achieve that with my own "urban family." I need to reread Slapstick so I can find the precise moment where the main character declares that everyone in the country will be assigned new middle names which will connect them to other folks in an artificial family. But really, all of Vonnegut's book reinforce the same point, which is why I love him.

And then there is the Grapes of Wrath. When I read it this time I was shocked by how much more it stood out to me than the last time I read it. It just meant more, resonated more, glowed more, was more luminous. Anyway, so I am about to quote away:

"Before I knowed it, I was sayin' out loud, 'The hell with it! There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do. It's all part of the same thing. And some of the things folks do is nice, and some ain't nice, but that's as far as any man got a right to say.'...I says, 'What's this call, this sperit?' An' I says, 'It's love. I love people so much I'm fit to bust, sometimes.' An' I says, 'Don't you love Jesus?' Well, I thought an' thought, an' finally I says, 'No, I don't know nobody name' Jesus. I know a bunch of stories, but I only love people. An' sometimes I love 'em fit to bust, an' I want to make 'em happy, so I been preachin' somepin I thought would make 'em happy.'...Anyways, I'll tell you one more thing I thought out; an' from a preacher it's the most unreligious thing, and I can't be a preacher no more because I thought it an' I believe it...I figgered about the Holy Sperit and the Jesus road. I figgered, 'Why do we got to hang it on God and Jesus? Maybe,' I figgered, 'maybe it's all men an' all women we love; maybe that's the Holy Sperit--the human sperit--the whole shebang. Maybe all men got one big soul ever'body's a part of.' Now I sat there thinkin' it, an' all of a suddent--I knew it. I knew it so deep down that it was true, and I still know it."
-- the Reverend Casy

Sometimes I don't know why I bother writing much because some people have written things so much better than I have already. (These are the times I want this to be more like a Tumblr, so I can just post quotes and things and not feel the inadequacy of my own writing compared to people like Steinbeck. But when it comes down to it, I can't keep quiet and I need to write my mangled prose anyway. Can't keep me quiet, I guess.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


I am back. I got back late Sunday night and have not stopped since. Work yesterday, therapy, dinner, drinks, and then work again, and tonight I am going to the Giants game, and then tomorrow work again, and finally a chance to breathe tomorrow night (and unpack, and do laundry. If I'm being honest I might just do what my roommates have already done in their weaker, lazier, busier moments and just take it in for a wash. For shame). And by breathe, I hopefully mean blog about my epic, amazing trip. For now all I can say was that it was exactly what I needed, and more than I expected, and just all around awesome and eye-opening and comforting and enriching, and I could not have gone on a trip with better people. I feel so good about it now.

I am of course still running around a bit at work, and wading through the literally thousands of accumulated blog posts in my reader (and articles on The Caucus), but the first blog I caught up on was Postcards from yo momma, and I realized partly why I like it so much. First of all, it has an element of surprise like nothing else. And it's hilariously true, and it actually is true, which is obviously part of the appeal. There's such an interesting demographic mix, parents who are clearly hip to the net, parents who can barely type, parents who are eloquent, those who can barely spell, city dwellers, country dwellers, homebodies, hicks, cosmopolitan world travelers, people who have great relationships with their kids and those who are begging for their child just to listen. I love trying to puzzle out the hints contained in each post, try to guess at the relationship, the circumstances, the context, everything. I love the sheer humanity of it. But the other thing I think I love about it is the mom-ness of it. I mean, I love this mass sisterhood of mothers, all around the country, all in many ways the same despite all their differences, and all so overflowing with love and worry for their kids. It's like they are all shades of the same family. And I love that the love is so great that it's goofy and over the top and exaggerated, and I feel good that someday I, too, can be a crazy mother sending crazy e-mails to her kids, and I can also be part of that sisterhood of moms, and I can be shameless about it, and I can be yet another member of this crazy, aching humanity.

Plus, where else can you get such nuggets of unexpected wisdom.

mom: I hated kayaking so much this weekend I used the F word on Dad
mom: He kayaked away for awhile and I was lost
mom: stupid me
mom: don't use the F word unless you can find home
mom: but he felt sorry for me cause I was paddling backwards at one point
mom: actually, I found backwards more relaxing
mom: but he thinks I was just incompetant

Don't use the F word unless you can find home. How true.