Friday, February 29, 2008


I'm excited about this. Lindsay Robertson is sorta one of my web heroes.

(via, what else, Lindsayism)

The more you know.

Well, this is terrifying. Apparently one in five Americans thinks the sun revolves around the earth.


the new video

Is it insensitive of me to say this? is really on point right now. He totally managed to get another viral video out supporting Obama, and he put Friday Night Lights kids (love! Tyra and Landry!) and a bunch of Latino celebrities in it -- just in time for Texas!

Anyway, pretty cool. I like the "We are the ones we have been waiting for" -- I saw some headline or something that referred to it as curious grammar, but who cares? It's got a point.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

McCain and Campaign Financing

A bit about McCain's campaign financing -- worth reading. I'm now devoting a significant amount of my time to reading about McCain, it seems like, from a score of articles yesterday to the David Foster Wallace essay I quoted last week to the New Yorker article on him in the February 25th issue. It's really quite interesting. I'd written him off as a candidate this year (I thought it was going to Romney -- boy was I wrong), but now I'm playing catch-up.

Mad, Bad and Sad - a to-read

After reading tons of reviews of Lisa Appignanesi's book "Mad, Bad, and Sad" I've decided I want to read it. I'm only wondering now if it was a UK release since all the reviews are British... (note: looks like it's coming out in the US in April.) But anyway, the real point is that it sounds like a pretty fascinating history of psychiatric care, specifically with regard to women's mental health. I remember in Oxford Laurel wrote a lot about the portrayal of mad women in literature, and it sounded like a fascinating topic. Plus, I've got an ongoing beef with the way women I know so often feel comfortable describing themselves as "crazy" and, slightly less common but still enraging, men's comfort with describing women as crazy, when they may in fact just be normal women. (Or maybe not. The point is, it's complicated.) I think this would be an interesting perspective on the subject.

Then we came to the end

I don't think anyone reading this has read "Then we came to the end" but it's a really fantastic book. The website has been revamped for the paperback release and has a map of all the cubicles in the office, which, while I can't check my book to make sure all the offices are in the right place, is pretty cool for visualizing. I always imagined the offices as being kind of closed off -- one or two of them down almost a dark alley. I suppose that's unrealistic for an ad agency, but I couldn't help it.

This book was also the first example of something that I read and found depressing, and my friend Peattie read and found hilarious and not really depressing at all. (The same thing happened with "The Savages.") I think I have a pretty good sense for black humor, except sometimes I see the black humor and just don't laugh at it. In fact, frequently.

Also, "Then we came to the end" is strikingly similar to Daniel Orozco's short story "Orientation." I don't think it's a ripoff, but it's similar. You can read "Orientation" here -- it's highly recommended.


Carbon Footprints

A very interesting article in this week's New Yorker about the complexities of measuring something's (or someone's) carbon footprint. Turns out "food miles" is a pretty darn inadequate way to think about how what we eat or buy affects the environment:

“People should stop talking about food miles,” Adrian Williams told me. “It’s a foolish concept: provincial, damaging, and simplistic.” Williams is an agricultural researcher in the Natural Resources Department of Cranfield University, in England. He has been commissioned by the British government to analyze the relative environmental impacts of a number of foods. “The idea that a product travels a certain distance and is therefore worse than one you raised nearby—well, it’s just idiotic,” he said. “It doesn’t take into consideration the land use, the type of transportation, the weather, or even the season. Potatoes you buy in winter, of course, have a far higher environmental ticket than if you were to buy them in August.” Williams pointed out that when people talk about global warming they usually speak only about carbon dioxide. Making milk or meat contributes less CO2 to the atmosphere than building a house or making a washing machine. But the animals produce methane and nitrous oxide, and those are greenhouse gases, too. “This is not an equation like the number of calories or even the cost of a product,’’ he said. “There is no one number that works.”

Many factors influence the carbon footprint of a product: water use, cultivation and harvesting methods, quantity and type of fertilizer, even the type of fuel used to make the package. Sea-freight emissions are less than a sixtieth of those associated with airplanes, and you don’t have to build highways to berth a ship. Last year, a study of the carbon cost of the global wine trade found that it is actually more “green” for New Yorkers to drink wine from Bordeaux, which is shipped by sea, than wine from California, sent by truck. That is largely because shipping wine is mostly shipping glass. The study found that “the efficiencies of shipping drive a ‘green line’ all the way to Columbus, Ohio, the point where a wine from Bordeaux and Napa has the same carbon intensity.”

The environmental burden imposed by importing apples from New Zealand to Northern Europe or New York can be lower than if the apples were raised fifty miles away. “In New Zealand, they have more sunshine than in the U.K., which helps productivity,” Williams explained. That means the yield of New Zealand apples far exceeds the yield of those grown in northern climates, so the energy required for farmers to grow the crop is correspondingly lower. It also helps that the electricity in New Zealand is mostly generated by renewable sources, none of which emit large amounts of CO2. Researchers at Lincoln University, in Christchurch, found that lamb raised in New Zealand and shipped eleven thousand miles by boat to England produced six hundred and eighty-eight kilograms of carbon-dioxide emissions per ton, about a fourth the amount produced by British lamb. In part, that is because pastures in New Zealand need far less fertilizer than most grazing land in Britain (or in many parts of the United States). Similarly, importing beans from Uganda or Kenya—where the farms are small, tractor use is limited, and the fertilizer is almost always manure—tends to be more efficient than growing beans in Europe, with its reliance on energy-dependent irrigation systems.

Williams and his colleagues recently completed a study that examined the environmental costs of buying roses shipped to England from Holland and of those exported (and sent by air) from Kenya. In each case, the team made a complete life-cycle analysis of twelve thousand rose stems for sale in February—in which all the variables, from seeds to store, were taken into consideration. They even multiplied the CO2 emissions for the air-freighted Kenyan roses by a factor of nearly three, to account for the increased effect of burning fuel at a high altitude. Nonetheless, the carbon footprint of the roses from Holland—which are almost always grown in a heated greenhouse—was six times the footprint of those shipped from Kenya. Even Williams was surprised by the magnitude of the difference. “Everyone always wants to make ethical choices about the food they eat and the things they buy,” he told me. “And they should. It’s just that what seems obvious often is not. And we need to make sure people understand that before they make decisions on how they ought to live.”

(read the whole thing here)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Player Piano

This week I feel pretty buoyant. I decided to buy a keyboard. After some researching and getting recommendations from my friend Matt, I bought this one. It was a very quick decision, but I think it's the right one. I should have it within a week, and I'm going to get rid of my ugly Ikea desk and replace it with a keyboard and start playing piano again. I really have missed it.

McCain and Choice

The Democratic primary race isn't over, but it's not too early to start going on the offense against John McCain. This article sums up McCain's dismal (I editorialize) record when it comes to reproductive rights and sex positivity. It's really important for us to beat this guy.

McCain's voting record, which NARAL Pro-Choice America scrupulously tracks, is telling. He has consistently voted against the right to a legal abortion and he has also consistently voted against contraception. McCain voted to end the Title X family planning program which is the only way millions of Americans have been able to plan their family. Title X has also been heralded as having prevented more than nine million abortions in the last two decades. Without Title X, the number of teenage pregnancies would have been 20 percent higher, too. McCain voted against legislation that would have required insurance coverage of prescription birth control and would also have provided more women with prenatal health care.

(via Feministing)

A few excerpts from "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters"

Finally getting around to posting some excerpts from Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, mostly because I'm chatting with a friend of mine about it right now. It really did ring very true.

Anna Quindlen, in her 2005 short book aptly titled Being Perfect, wrote, "Someday, sometime, you will be sitting somewhere. A bench overlooking a pond in Vermont. The lip of the Grand Canyon at sunset. A seat on the subway. And something bad will have happened: You will have lost someone you loved, or failed at something at which you badly wanted to succeed. And sitting there, you will fall into the center of yourself. You will look for some core to sustain you. And if you have been perfect all your life and have managed to meet all the expectations of your family, your friends, your community, your society, chances are excellent that there will be a black hole where that core ought to be."
My friends and I, girls and young women across the nation (and even, I have learned, across the world), harbor black holes at the center of our beings. We, the perfect girls, try to fill these gaping holes with food, blue ribbons, sexual attention, trendy clothes, but no matter how hard we try, they remain. We have called this insatiable hunger by many names -- ambition, drive, pride -- but in truth it is a fundamental distrust that we deserve to be on this earth in the shape we are in. A perfect girl must always be a starving daughter, because there is never enough -- never enough accomplishment. Never enough control. Never enough perfection.
Our mothers had the luxury of aspiring to be "good," but we have the ultimate goal of "effortless perfection" This was the term that young women at Duke University used to describe "the expectation that one would be smart, accomplished, fit, beautiful, and popular, and that all this would happen without visible effort" in a series of discussions held in 2001 as part of their Women's Initiative. This is not, of course, just a Duke thing. "Effortless perfection" has become the unattainable and anxiety-producing ideal for women across the country and across the world. We must not only be perfect -- as in accomplished, brilliant, beautiful, witty -- but also appear as if we achieve all this perfection through an easygoing, fun-loving approach. Perfect girls are powerfully afraid of seeming too uptight, rigid, or moralistic. We don't just want to achieve; we also want to be cool. (p. 5)

A starving daughter lies at the center of each perfect girl. The face we show to the world is one of beauty, maturity, determination, strength, willpower, and ultimately, accomplishment. But beneath the facade is a daughter - starving for attention and recognition, starving to justify her own existence.
The starving daughter within annoys us, slows us down, embarrasses us. She is the one who doubts our ability to handle a full-time job and full-time school. She gets scared, lonely, homesick. She drinks too much, cries too loud, is nostalgic and sappy. When neglected, she seems comfort in cookies, coffee ice cream, warm bread -- transgressions that make the perfect girl in us angry.
The starving daughter emerges in midnight confessions, a best friend's sudden tears, a suitemate buried in mountains of cover, shades drawn, eating ice cream in the middle of the day, and watching Buffy reruns in the dark.
Starving daughters are full of self-doubt. We don't want to worry so much about making other people happy but feel like we can never say thank you enough times, never show enough humility, never help enough, never feel enough shame. We feel guilty. We fear conflict. We are dramatic, sensitive, injured easily. We are clinging to all kinds of attachments that, in our minds, we know we should let go of, but in our bodies, we feel incapable of relinquishing. We are self-pitying, sad, even depressed.
We are tired of trying so hard all the time. We feel like giving up. We feel hopeless. We want love, acceptance, happy endings, and rest. We wish that we had faith, that we weren't ruled by our heads and could live in our hearts more often. We want to have daughters -- little girls who will love us unconditionally. We still small things, such as candy bars and bras -- that make us feel special for just a moment. We try to fill the black holes inside of us with forbidden foods. We never feel full. We always feel cold. We starve for a god.
We don't like to talk about this part of ourselves. Our whole lives, we have received so much affirmation for the perfect part that the starving-daughter part feels like an evil twin. Sometimes we can even convince ourselves that the sadness, self-doubts, and hunger don't exist, that we like to be this busy, that we like to eat small, unfulfilling meals or work out constantly.
For a while... but then the phone doesn't ring when we want it to or we get passed over for a job or a fellowship. Then the starving daughter makes herself known like an explosion. We collapse from exhaustion, or pick fights with our boyfriends or families, or sob inside the locked bathroom stall. Some girls experience their deep sadness in going on binges (food or alcohol), sleeping all day, sleeping around, buying a lot of clothes they don't need, ignoring professional or relational opportunities, dropping out of the race altogether. Some of my best friends have retreated inside themselves in this way, refused help, wasted away, or cloaked themselves in excess weight. We get mono and can't move for weeks. We hate losing control. We hate being "wimps." We fight these breakdowns, but the starving daughter emerges, young and scared and sick of our shit.
Young women struggle with this duality. The perfect girl in each drives forward, the starving daughter digs in her heels. The perfect girl wants excellence, the starving daughter calm and nurturance. The perfect girl takes on the world, the starving daughter shrinks from it. It is a power struggle between two forces, and at the center, almost every time, is an innocent body. (pp. 20-21)

My hesitation in posting this latter bit is that I think it can easily be misread as implying that women are "soft" or "weak" at their core -- which would be outrageously anti-feminist. However, the author isn't saying that at all. Rather, she's saying that we women, modern women, women of or generation, however you want to put it, are determined to be so strong that sometimes we neglect the softer parts of ourselves. (I imagine similar things could be said about some men, although there are different societal pressures at work.) I myself am constantly aware of whether something I'm doing is going to be perceived as weak, or whether it is weak, or whether by doing something "weak" is going to bring womenkind back down into the dregs of past male hegemony. (That's a strange kind of awareness -- awareness of role as representative of group.) Anyway, the point is that women are strong, but they never give themselves a break, and that can lead to a breakdown. I used to repress a lot of anger and then lash out at people randomly -- I did it in high school a lot with female friends and then in college, too. I've now become a lot better at it. The point is to accept and work with the parts of yourself that you aren't pleased with all the time, instead of trying to bury them. Anyway. I could say much, much more, but I will leave it here for now. There will be more.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My killer outfit

Check out this picture. I'm on the left, holding the horns. You can't actually see my face but you do get a great shot of my awesome outfit, inspired by the coolest 4-year-old I know (literally). She always wears bright tights and then a dress over a long-sleeved shirt. This was my homage, in my attempt at Justin's party theme of "diapered dapperness." I did wear it with my kickass Anthropologie boots, which classed it up slightly. Of course, this pic was taken at our house, after I'd taken off the shoes to save my feet.

Stuff White People Like, part two of at least two.

I know many people have been perplexed by whether or not the author of the site Stuff White People Like is actually white. I assumed that he/she was, just because I detected a note of ironic shame in many of the posts. If you can judge based on names, then I think he is. There was an article in the LA Times this weekend about the site:

"I'm writing about the white people who think they're absolutely unique and individual," [Christian] Lander told me. "I'm calling them out and poking fun of myself. The things I post are all the things I like too!"

Pardon my gross generalization, but I feel like only white people are named Christian, but maybe that's just me. I know of four Christians - a white doctor, Kirsten Dunst's brother, Christian Bale, and Christian Slater. Thus my unscientific analysis of Christians who are white. Anyway, either way the site is definitely self-referential which I deeply appreciate. I only have one quibble:

Lander, who arrived in L.A. from Toronto 2 1/2 years ago, came up with the idea for the blog after talking to a Filipino friend about how much they both liked the HBO police drama "The Wire." For some reason he's already forgotten, they both wished that more white people watched the show. Which got him thinking: What exactly do white people like?

I think white people like "The Wire." Or maybe it's just that the vast majority of my friends are white (it's true, and very weird, but then again I guess I live in gentrified San Francisco), and they all seem to like or want to watch The Wire. Still. I stand by my theory.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Le Menu DD

This is the menu for the party that Dan and I came up with. I tried to speak restaurant.

Justin's Birthday

In other news, Laurel and I successfully pulled off surprising Justin (twice) for his birthday. Friday morning, Dan and Ace somehow convinced him to come to our house at 6:30am to "carpool" to work. God knows how he decided that was a wise choice, but he showed up and a couple of us were there waiting to surprise him with muffins and mimosas. Then we all trekked (ok, got a car ride) down to the 22nd street Caltrain station to ride with him to work. It was fun! I was pretty sick still, but I enjoyed seeing how other people commute, and the Baby Bullet train was impressively fast and efficient. If it was easier for me to get to the SF station or from the station to my work, I could see traveling like that more often. Pretty comfy. Then Laurel and I turned right back around and rode north again, she to catch a BART to the East Bay and me to head back home and work from home since I'm sick. (Yeah, I realize that not doing the commute is part of the point of working from home, but whatever.) I had a pretty good day at home, and then when evening rolled around it was time to prepare for our 2nd part surprise.

So Justin had already planned his own party, sort of. He had people coming over to his house for some Little Star pizza, and then more people coming for drinks later. Since he was turning 24 (double dozens) on the 22nd (double deuce), his theme was "Diapered Dapperness." It was really just an excuse for him to wear his overalls. OUR plan was to "hijack" his party. We had two other houses prepared to host a party, and so we were going to surprise Justin at his place with the news that we were going to take him on a progressive party throughout the Mission. The surprise part didn't go so well, thanks to me, in the sense that we didn't get to jump out and yell at him, but he was definitely surprised that we'd planned this extra party thing. We had themes for each of the houses, too. At his house the theme was "Dudes and Dandies," honoring his unique fashion sense, and so the beverage was Miller High Life forties (and some cans for those who didn't want to really go there) -- the connection there being "High Life, High Fashion." The next house was "Delectable Desserts," where we had double scoops (ice cream sundaes), black and white cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and birthday cake, the latter two both made by Laurel. We also had two kinds of Boones Farm, which is so sweet it might as well be a dessert. (I should interject here that I was super impressed with people's willingness to drink only those drinks assigned to themes -- and really ghetto drinks at that. I mean, Boones Farm and High Life. Classy.) Finally, we went to our house, where the theme was "Daniels and Dali," honoring Justin's famous moustache and featuring bourbon/whiskey-and-ginger-ales. We somehow managed to keep people together on this progressive, and our house was pretty packed. There was a detour to Beauty Bar for dancing, and then nearly everyone came back to our place, where I promptly went to bed but the party continued for a bit longer. All in all it was a pretty awesome night. Sadly, or perhaps fortunately, it was undocumented. All I really have to show for it are the posters/signs I made for decoration. Here's my favorite:

I don't think I've really managed to pull off a surprise like this ever, except for Silvia's birthday party our sophomore year, which was smooth mainly because Laurel neatly deflected Silvia's interest in a cooler being carried up the stairs by reciting two weird last names of random kids in our dorms. Really.


The Oscars were pretty good this year, I thought. I was pretty pleased with most of the awards, except I wanted Paul Thomas Anderson to win for adapted screenplay. I knew he wouldn't get "Best Picture," and I kind of agreed with that -- I think "No Country" was a better film, although in the end I think "There Will Be Blood" will resonate and stick with me longer. And I knew he wouldn't get "Best Director," for the same reason. So I wanted him to get something.

I was very happy "Atonement" won for original score -- it was really amazing and I was sitting in a room full of people who had tried to see as many Oscar nominated movies as possible and yet had not bothered to see "Atonement," so I really wanted it to get at least one award, and I think that was the one it most deserved. And I was thrilled that Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova won for "Once," and even more thrilled that Jon Stewart brought her out there to give her acceptance speech after she'd been rushed off the stage earlier. It was really heartwarming and she was so sweet and modest and well-spoken. Really, there were quite a few adorable acceptance speeches -- hers, Diablo Cody's, and Marion Cotillard's. It felt actually somewhat homespun, this year, which I really appreciated.

I find it amazing how much (it's sad to admit it) celebrities can thrill me. I know on one hand that they probably shouldn't, but on the other hand I think it's ok to let yourself get carried away by their larger-than-lifeness, their polish, perfection, charm, and above all that glimmer of humanity despite all the diamonds etc. That's why those speeches were adorable -- they seemed the way real people would if they were swept away by this big spectacle. Somehow that paired with satin and jewels is an irresistible combination. And then there are those who seem perfectly at ease -- Helen Mirren, Jack Nicholson, whoever. It's a strange thing, the emotions these total strangers can inspire. I sound cliche right now, but I have become more and more away of this sensation (on a personal level) recently, and I felt like I needed to mention it.

I was really happy with how I spent the Oscars this year. This weekend, thanks in large part to friends like Justin who hadn't seen all the Best Picture nominees yet, I saw both "No Country" and "There Will Be Blood" for the second time. We also managed to rent "Michael Clayton" and watch it right before the Oscars began, so I actually saw all five Best Picture nominees this year! I am pretty proud -- it made me feel much more invested in the show. Also, we had some folks over to our house -- a total crowd of 9 people crammed into our tiny living room -- to watch it, with some champagne, wine, cheese, strawberries, and olives. It was pretty awesome, actually. It was a slightly different crowd than usual, which I really appreciated. It's always nice to get some new blood and I do keep meeting new and awesome people all the time. After the Oscars, we watched six (!) episodes of "The Office," which got me super psyched up for my Office party on April 10 when the new episodes start again. I hadn't watched it in so long, it's like I forgot how good it was. It was a really nice ending to a good weekend.

Hillary Canceled Arrested Development

I'm still sick. Boo.

This is really funny though. If you liked BarackObamaIsYourNewBicycle, you'll appreciate. Oh, the Internet.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sex and the City

Ugh, I admit, I want to see it.

(Probably has something to do with the fact that I watched six episodes Wednesday night.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008


For anyone who cares about "Twilight," that book about teenage vampires that's being turned into a movie (the book was half gripping and half meh), the casting information is out. Edward, who is the love interest vampire and supposed to be like ethereally weirdly gorgeous, is being played by the kid who was Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter movies, which I think is rather fitting, and Bella is weirdly almost-attractive but almost-not-attractive and I only recognize her from the previews for that movie "The Land of Women" which was apparently dismal. The only other cast member I've even heard of, although all of MTV's message boards seem to know exactly who everyone is as though they were like Brad Pitt and Scarlett Johanssen (I know bit actors only as "that dude from that show"), is Peter Facinelli, who is best known (literally, not just by me) as the asshole in "Can't Hardly Wait" ("Mike Dexter is a role model!" that movie is so good). Yeah. So not exactly filled with A-listers, but I kind of have this little itch to see the movie when it comes out. Maybe they'll actually write a plot for it.

Update: I just realized that Kristen Stewart (Bella) is the girl in "Into the Wild" -- you know, the prepubescent one who takes him to that weird shrine in the desert. I feel like an idiot.

I am apparently a 14 year old boy. A gay one. Or something.

I never read the original X-Men comics or saw the tv show, plus I never saw the third movie (I heard it was bad, and never got around to testing that theory) in the theaters. However, I am pretty darn excited about X-Men Origins: Wolverine, mostly because of the cast. I mean, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber (am I the only person who cares that those two were in a movie together before, that movie with Meg Ryan involving accidental time travel?), Ryan Reynolds and now Taylor Kitsch? Tell me that won't be entertaining. I'm starting to geek out over really geeky movies, like this one, and Iron Man, and the new Indiana Jones, and I'm almost sorry to say it, the J. J. Abrams Star Trek. I just feel like it will be really cool.

End of the World

While I'm at it I also really like this photo. Not quite sure what it is about it in particular.


I love this photo -- it reminds me of "The Snowy Day."

Crime and Punishment in Poland

This article about "a postmodern murder mystery" in this week's New Yorker was fascinating. Don't read the summary, even though I linked to it. I scanned the article into my computer, so just comment or e-mail me if you want to read it. Seriously weird.

Wallace on McCain

I am in the middle of reading David Foster Wallace's "Consider the Lobster," which is, like "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again," some of the best non-fiction writing I've ever encountered. It's dizzyingly intelligent. This morning I finished reading "Up, Simba," his essay about being on the campaign with John McCain in 2000 the week after the New Hampshire primary. It's pretty fascinating, as you can imagine, to read in the context of the current election, especially because some of the stuff he writes in an essay about John McCain could easily be applied to, well, Barack Obama. I'm speaking specifically about a section titled "Suck it Up" which is about salesmen versus leaders, and how you can't decide which McCain is, but that young people are looking for leaders "who can help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better, harder things than we can get ourselves to do on our own" (225).

I highly recommend picking up this book because there are more perfect, awesome nuggets in it than I have time to type into this blog, but it really does peel apart so many aspects of political campaigns -- the routine of the political campaign tour around the country, the role of the media, and especially the ambivalence you feel watching a candidate, knowing that some portion of what he/she does (man, it feels good to write "she" there and have a real example) is calculated and that some portion of it is genuine, but now knowing which part is greater -- that it's very much worth reading at this time in our country's history. Here's another part I really liked (it's long, but bear with me):

It's hard to get good answers to why Young Voters are so uninterested in politics. This is probably because it's next to impossible to get someone to think hard about why he's not interested in something. The boredom itself preempts inquiry; the fact of the feeling's enough. Surely one reason, though, is that politics is not cool. Or say rather that cool, interesting, alive people do not seem to be the ones who are drawn to the political process. Think back to the sort of kids in high school who were into running for student office: dweeby, overgroomed, obsequious to authority, ambitious in a sad way. Eager to play the Game. The kind of kids other kids would want to beat up if it didn't seem so pointless and dull. And now consider some of 2000's adult versions of these very same kids: Al Gore, best described by CNN sound tech Mark A. as "amazingly lifelike"; Steve Forbes, with his wet forehead and loony giggle; G. W. Bush's patrician smirk and mangled cant; even Clinton himself, with his big read fake-friendly face and "I feel your pain." Men who aren't enough like human beings even to hate -- what one feels when they loom into view is just an overwhelming lack of interest, the sort of deep disengagement that is often a defense against pain. Against sadness. In fact, the likeliest reason why so many of us care so little about politics is that modern politicians make us sad, hurt us deep down in ways that are hard even to name, much less talk about. It's way easier to roll your eyes and not give a shit. You probably don't want to hear about all this, even.
As one national pencil told Rolling Stone and another nonpro, "If you saw more of how the other candidates conduct themselves, you'd be way more impressed with [McCain]. It's that he acts somewhat in the ballpark of the way a real human being would act." And the grateful press on the Trail transmit -- maybe even exaggerate -- McCain's humanity to their huge audience, the electorate, which electorate in turn seems to paroxysmically thankful for a presidential candidate somewhat in the ballpark of a real human being that it just has to make you stop and think about how starved voters are for just some minimal level of genuineness in the mean who want to "lead" and "inspire" them.

...There's another thing John McCain always says. He makes sure he concludes every speech and THM with it, so the buses' press hear it about 100 times this week. He always pauses a second for effect and then says: "I'm going to tell you something. I may have said some things here today that maybe you don't agree with, and I might have said some things you hopefully do agree with. But I will always. Tell you. The truth." This is McCain's closer, his last big reverb on the six-string as it were. And the frenzied standing-O it always gets from his audience is something to see. But you have to wonder. Why do these crowds from Detroit to Charleston cheer so wildly at a simple promise not to lie?

Well, it's obvious why. When McCain says it, the people are cheering not for him so much as for how good it feels to believe him. They're cheering the loosening of a weird sort of knot in the electoral tummy. McCain's resume and candor, in other words, promise not empathy with voters' pain but relief from it. Because we've been lied to and lied to, and it hurts to be lied to. It's ultimately just about that complicated: it hurts.

All of this really makes me wish DFW would go on the trail with Obama. I'd really like to see his take on that phenomenon.

No writer's intentions allowed

My head is fuzzy. But I am attempting to blog a bit and clear out some of my many Mozilla Firefox tabs. I loved this little bit from Paul Thomas Anderson about "There Will Be Blood":

Once on the film's Marfa, Texas, set, Anderson continued to whittle at and refine the screenplay with a dedication befitting his own monomaniacal protagonist, taking particular care to remove anything that risked overstating the movie's themes. He describes one offending scene, between Plainview and the mysterious drifter (played by Kevin J. O'Connor) who claims to be his half brother, in which one of Plainview's lines echoed Eli Sunday in an earlier scene. "That's not something I wrote with any kind of writerly intention — to parallel these two guys," Anderson says. "I didn't even notice it was there until somebody on the set said, 'That's an interesting moment.' And my alarm bell went off: Don't do that! No writer's intentions allowed! When you're working on something, there's always a danger of screwing the screws in so fucking tight that it's not breathing any longer."

(from LA Weekly)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chicken noodle soup

Also, don't underestimate the awesomeness of "sick person food." I ate Progresso canned chicken noodle soup for dinner Monday, dinner yesterday, lunch today, and I'm about to run out and get a can for dinner, too. That, plus ginger ale and kombucha, is part of my plan of attack on my sickness. Cristina says her med student ex-boyfriend told her that the real point of chicken noodle soup is really just the sodium, I'm not sure why but I'm going with it cause it's tasty. And also, once I finished my lunch of it, I felt a LOT better, for at least an hour or two. Strange, right?

Back to it.

Is this one of those boring "What I did with my weekend" updates? Oh well.

Hello to my poor neglected (as of late) blog and readers... I know I've been one of those aggravating non-serious bloggers as of late with infrequent posts. Somehow, I've been overwhelmed at work and not had time to parse through my many bytes of Internet reading to share with y'all. I've also been pretty busy at home. Although part of my business has been me watching Veronica Mars. And, lately, the OC, except now I'm sick, so I have an excuse.

Last weekend was a pretty grand success, and I was punished for it with a nasty cold, which is why I'm home right now instead of still at work. We started off with the inaugural "Dirty Apron Kitchen Club," a cooking club that my friend Peattie and I informally started. We had around 15 people there for it, which was more than I expected and a pretty hard crowd to manage, but still very fun. For dinner, we made stuffed shells from this recipe, which was really easy and really delicious and satisfied the Mom's manicotti craving I get periodically (although no raisins or nuts in it, which I think Mom puts in her manicotti? Oh my God, it's been so long since I had it. Hint). That plus a lot of wine and a salad pretty much sums up the menu. I was very aggressively managing the kitchen and felt kind of bad about that, since I tend to be an overly detailed person and many of my friends (especially not-quite-as-close friends) I think find it a little irritating. Still, the meal worked out and I'm really excited about the Kitchen Club in general. I can't wait to do a Passover menu and a St. Patrick's Day menu. YUM!

Saturday I went wine tasting with my friend Tina. Her roommate works at a country club and had arranged for a few free/private tastings. We had a private tasting (just the six of us in our group in a private room) of Terlato wines, a brand of Rutherford Hill, which was pretty fun and very informative. Every time I go wine tasting I learn a little more and am better able to ask questions and carry out a conversation. I decided I need to learn more about wine, though, since our hostess was making references to how certain wines were supposed to be homages to different Bordeaux regions and I had really no idea how true that was, etc. One interesting thing for me was that the first "flight" we tasted was very geographically based -- two whites from the Russian River and a syrah from the Dry Creek region. I knew that certain wine regions are better known for certain kinds of wine, but had never really thought very seriously about a wine being "a Dry Creek syrah" as opposed to a syrah. Forgive me if this seems stupid, but I finally made this connection the other day. (Suddenly I realized it was like single origin chocolates.) Anyway, we did that and then a tasting at Beringer, where I had only been once before when I was under 21 and driving through wine country with my dad and sister. Back home, Tina and I made dinner with Justin (Dad, we made your peperoncini shrimp pasta and it was a hit, except I don't have a pan big enough to stir it all up together like you do, so it wasn't melty enough in my opinion) and then went out for a bit. I ended up coming home and watching part of Moulin Rouge with Dan.

Sunday Justin and Laurel and I had brunch at Magnolia. I'd always heard they had good brunch and it's very true. I had the cardamom-spiced French toast with garam masala whipped cream and huckleberries. I rarely get sweet breakfasts but this one was really good. The huckleberries were a lot like dried blueberries, only more tart. We also got started on our strong beer tastings at Magnolia and got through three of them before it was time for me to get a manicure with a couple of other girls. I have to say I quite enjoy getting manicures and would like to do them more often. I know I keep saying that. I took a nap before heading out to Magnolia for the second time that day. (Yeah, I know, I'm not sure how this became an idea, but we did do it on purpose.) I was supposed to meet coworkers for more strong beer, except when I got there, the friends I'd invited greatly outnumbered the coworkers, and we ended up sitting on opposite sides of the restaurant. Oops. Still, the 8 of us crammed into our 5-person table had a great time and I had the best reuben ever. It was almost spicy. We closed down Magnolia and I came home to watch more Moulin Rouge. I should say that both Saturday night and Sunday night I watched Moulin Rouge and hung out with Braden and Pat, two guys that Ace knows through work, and who I have only once hung out with before midnight. I was up pretty late Sunday night, except for the fact that I periodically fell asleep on the futon, so it was no surprise when I woke up Monday with this headcold. Since then I've made a conscious effort to vegetate and have turned down two anticipated social events, but I'm kind of trying to save up so I don't suck at my job and so I can have fun this weekend. Blah.

So I'm now something like 12 episodes into the first season of the OC, and then today in the mail I got a package from Bethany containing the entire series of Sex and the City, which is contained in the most ridiculous fuzzy magenta booklet slipped into a plexiglass box and is probably officially my most absurd belonging, and I have a lot of absurd belongings so that is saying something. I have a sort of love-hate thing for SatC and haven't watched it since the series finale, which I am pretty sure I watched on tape in Cristina's dorm room my junior year, and I'm pretty sure I cried. But I'm pretty excited about this set on my coffee table. It's definitely good entertainment for sick Emily.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Last night was a great success. The only hitch was the fact that we started eating around 10pm. Some shopping slowdowns and the incredibly amount of time it takes to chop tons of dippers and shred two pounds of cheese, plus the fact that I forgot the fennel and broccoli in my garden and had to go back, and then forgot the fondue pot and sent Dan running back (it is so useful to have a marathoner roommate). Still, the end result was luxurious and awesome. I used this recipe and it was perfect. There was a moment when I thought it was too liquid, but it goo-ed up very well with a little more patience. Basically I could live off of last night's menu. We had cheese fondue (with pears, apples, salami, bread, carrots, prosciutto and coppa from our charcuterie plate, blanched broccoli and white asparagus, and endive for dippers) and chocolate (with angel food cake, pears, apples, dried persimmons and mangos, pineapple, strawberries, and raspberries). My particular genius (if I do say so myself) was a butter lettuce salad with blood oranges, avocado, fennel and champagne vinegar. Then we had a variety of beverages, mostly champagne, with Chambord and rosewater and creme de cassis in it (not all together, obviously). Ace and I bought yellow roses for the table, and in general we all had a great time. I definitely felt privileged to spend this holiday of love with such a great group of friends. One of my favorite V-days.


I can't lie, Obama fans definitely make the most fun designy cool shit. If you haven't already, see here and here (could go here, but the page is overloaded).

And just for fun:

Keep crossing your fingers.


Stuff White People Like

Ah, shit. Cristina, you will pretty much love this site. (Their archive is a little funky, so you may have to click on the calendar to get back to the very beginning.)

#2 was what made me click on the link, and while they didn't mention my own particular obsession (you all know what it is), they might as well have.

*ducks in shame*


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Parting shots

About to leave for the day and go shopping for -- yay!! -- fondue. I am so excited about tonight, you have no idea. My only regret is I didn't have the time to make a love music mix, but I may try to swing it last-minute. A few last thoughts before I take off for my festival of cheese.

Very pretty 3191s here and here.

Last night Justin and I saw Annie Hall at the Red Vic. I had only seen it once before, when I was pretty young, and I didn't remember it at all. I was surprised this time around by how much I liked it. I laughed a lot, and I *got* it this time around. (Woody Allen brings to mind Jack Black's comment about Stevie Wonder in "High Fidelity" -- "Is it in fact unfair to criticize a formerly great artist for his latter-day sins? Is it better to burn out than to fade away?")

I really enjoyed this clip. I actually understood the joke about the New York Review of Books (at 1:20):

Plus you can't argue with the last monologue, appropriate on this day:

I thought of that old joke, y'know, the, this... this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, "Doc, uh, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a chicken." And, uh, the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?" The guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs." Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y'know, they're totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and... but, uh, I guess we keep goin' through it because, uh, most of us... need the eggs.

The other thing I'm enjoying love-wise today (besides fondue tonight, friends, Rachel's MSCL Valentines, my new shirt from Target, and a busy good day at work) is a clip from Veronica Mars' second season. I've posted it here before, but I had it on my away message all day and got some old friends checking in just to muse over how awesome Veronica and Logan are (not always in that order). Mom, consider this a 2nd season spoiler, and don't watch it. (Same for other Veronica Mars newbies.)

Orges even sent me a link to this "Top 20 TV Couples" page, which places LoVe (the name for VEronica and LOgan coined by YouTube fanatics who make compilation videos of the best LoVe moments) at 10. It's got a few other classics (JAM, obvi, and Buffy and Angel) as well. Yes, consider me easily amused.

Pictures of Love

On another Valentiney note, my friend Marcin at work put together a little Flickr tribute to love in all forms. I like some of them quite a lot, especially this one.


The Office returns April 10 with supposedly 6 new episodes. Start counting down. (To get you started: 56 days.)

Happy Valentine's Day

My friend Rachel is a goddamn genius.

Exhibits A, B, C, and D.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Do you sometimes get to the bottom of the first page of an online article and think to yourself, shit, I have THREE MORE (or one more, or four more, or in the case of Sunday Times articles, eight or eleven more) PAGES OF THIS??

That is what happened to me wen I read this ridiculous article in the Atlantic Monthly (via Bookslut and a bunch of other blogs written by feminists of one creed or another) about how women should get married to the first man they meet, or at least the last one they meet before they turn that evil age of thirty. I can't even express my emotions at the bottom of page one of this one. (It's like, is it satire? If it is, it's bad satire.) Here's a good clip:

So if you rarely see your husband—but he’s a decent guy who takes out the trash and sets up the baby gear, and he provides a second income that allows you to spend time with your child instead of working 60 hours a week to support a family on your own—how much does it matter whether the guy you marry is The One?


Odds and Ends

A few things I learned today:

-The Office will be back, with 5-10 episodes. No word yet on whether or not one of those will be the Christmas episode, which they were about to start filming (or something) before the strike and is supposed to be awesome. My opinion? Give me Christmas in April if you have to.

-"Anne of Ingleside" and "Anne of Windy Poplars" were both published long after the other Anne books, including "Rilla of Ingleside" and "Rainbow Valley," which sort of explains a lot. Someday I will go to PEI. (via)

-The New York media world (or perhaps more accurately the people who are in it) is even more ridiculous every time I read about it. The latest? Joshua David Stein's tell-all report in Page Six Magazine about his relationship with Emily Gould. (Those of you who read Gawker know who these folks are. The rest of you are thankfully spared. Essentially they wrote snark together and then dated and then things went wrong and now they both come across like total assholes and I'm really glad I don't have to deal with drama like this in my life.) Though if you do pay attention to this incredibly incestuous world that I have nothing to do with but am drawn to nevertheless, you will find this pretty funny. (Thanks to Rach, who happens to be embedded in said world, for pointing me to this miniature shitstorm.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

I find this funny. Is that wrong?

(from this week's PostSecret)

Summer preview

Whew. It's been a while. I feel like I have barely stopped to breathe in a while, although I can tell you for a fact that I have stopped to sleep and lie on the couch watching Veronica Mars. My poor blog has been somewhat neglected as a result. I feel like a lot is going on, and in some ways it is -- I went to Monterey this weekend, the weather was gorgeous in the Bay Area the whole weekend and so I had my first lazy Sunday afternoon in Dolores Park (the first of many -- I'm not even sure I'm ready for this season to start up again), I was in LA last weekend, I am already planning trips for this spring, I feel that spring mania coming upon me. And it's only February! So I feel like my thoughts are just churning around like crazy, mostly in a good way.

One thing I am really jazzed about is Valentine's Day. Why, you ask? I admit I got as much of a chuckle out of this piece Pablo sent me as you will, except that I love Valentine's Day. I can't quite explain why I like it so much (I do think part of it is that my family always did and still does treat it like a family holiday, so we got little Valentine's Day gifts with zero romantic pressure), but I do. This year I'm celebrating with a little "nuclear urban family" (my term, it applies to my roommates plus Justin, who is our fourth roommate-in-spirit/Kramer) dinner. The menu? Definitely part of my excitement, since it consists of both cheese and chocolate fondue, a charcuterie plate, and champagne cocktails. Sign me up, right?

A short summary of my weekend: Friday night my boss let me go early so I started my weekend with a few episodes of Veronica Mars (I'm on the second season) on the couch, broken up by Peruvian food with Dan for dinner (weirdly reminiscent of Asian food, I know, I'm strange). Around 11, Dan and Justin and I headed down to the Elbo Room, where my friend Phia was throwing a fundraiser event (in conjunction with the Elbo Room's usual "Free Funk Fridays") for dyslexia. It was a pretty good time and I rallied despite being completely exhausted. There were a good 10 or 15 people that I knew there, which always helps, and Phia raised almost twice what she expected to that night.

Saturday I woke early (grudgingly) to drive down with six friends to Pebble Beach where we watched the AT&T Pro-Am. Celebrities sighted: Luke Wilson, Chris O'Donnell, Josh Duhamel, Ray Romano, Kenny G (his caddy had "Kenny G" on her back instead of "G," to my disappointment), Don Cheadle, and some more. Besides Luke Wilson, who we all school-girlishly (and this was me, one other girl and five guys) huddled next to a fence to see walk by (signing autographs for less-embarrassed fans), the highlight was the weather. It was actually HOT, and not windy at all, and just plain gorgeous. The only downside was that I had prepared for much cooler weather and was as a result roasting the whole time. I did escape a sunburn pretty much accidentally, and the heat meant that I thoroughly enjoyed both of me $6.50 Bud Lights (it is possible). We also spotted this seal on the beach that looked dead but, it turned out, was totally fine and had been there for like two days just chilling. (We called the Emergency line at the Monterey Aquarium to verify this.) Much of the rest of the day, once we checked into our hotel, was spent watching basketball (Go Stanford! and also I sat through my first Warriors game, albeit on mute) and playing drinking games as well as this awesome no-skill-involved dice gambling game called Three Bill. A brief jaunt out to a pub in "Old" Monterey where I had a Young's Oatmeal Stout, and then four of us went to bed early.

Yesterday was only slightly less sun-drenched. We drove up to Santa Cruz and met Peattie's parents for brunch at their classic brunch spot Zachary's, where I had the best home fries I've ever had, I think, as well as a "Velvet Hammer," which is champagne mixed with Guinness. (I really didn't need more booze, but I had to try that combo.) When we got back to the city we went straight to the park for my first Dolores Park afternoon of 2008. It felt so eerily familiar and I find it crazy that I've been living in the city for as long as I have (I know I didn't actually move there until July of last year, but I started spending much more time there starting in February, so I feel like I'm going through an anniversary of sorts). We considered carrying on and having a barbecue or something, but all kind of trickled out. Ace and I finished the weekend the way I began it, watching Veronica Mars until it was time for bed. All in all, not bad.

Anyway, I basically wanted to check in. I won't leave you hanging for so long again.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters

I just finished reading "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters." It was different from what I expected. I don't really know what I expected -- I guess I just didn't expect it to be about me. But it was. It wasn't just about girls with eating disorders. It was about how women in our generation spend huge portions of their days worrying about what they eat, when they could be putting time and energy into more important things that matter to them more. It was about how even if we don't binge or purge, or starve ourselves, or overexercise, we are running around in our heads feeling guilty or angry at ourselves. It was about how we feel the need to be perfect, effortlessly, and that includes our bodies but it includes much more than that. It was about how we feel pressure to do everything all the time.

I typed up a few excerpts and I'll be sharing them over the next few days. In the meantime let me just say this is highly recommended, especially if you are a twenty-something who has ever felt in over her head and not wanted to admit it.

Michael Chabon on Obama

Great op-ed by Michael Chabon in the Washington Post supporting Obama:

In a better world, if there were such a thing (and so far there never has been), we would not need a president like Obama as badly as we do. If there were less at stake, if our democracy had not been permitted, indeed encouraged, to sink to its present degraded and embattled condition not only by the present administration but by a fair number of those people now seeking to head up the next one, perhaps then we could afford to waste our votes on the candidate who knows best how to jigger, to manipulate and to conform to the vapid specifications of the debased electoral process it has been our unhappy fate to construct for ourselves.

Because ultimately, that is the point of Obama's candidacy -- of the hope, enthusiasm and sense of purpose it inspires, yes, but more crucially, of the very doubts and reservations expressed by those who pronounce, whether in tones of regret, certainty or skepticism, that America is not ready for Obama, or that Obama is not ready for the job, or that nobody of any worth or decency -- supposing there even to be such a person left on the American political scene -- can be expected to survive for a moment with his idealism and principle intact.

The point of Obama's candidacy is that the damaged state of American democracy is not the fault of George W. Bush and his minions, the corporate-controlled media, the insurance industry, the oil industry, lobbyists, terrorists, illegal immigrants or Satan. The point is that this mess is our fault. We let in the serpents and liars, we exchanged shining ideals for a handful of nails and some two-by-fours, and we did it by resorting to the simplest, deepest-seated and readiest method we possess as human beings for trying to make sense of the world: through our fear. America has become a phobocracy.

(Read it all here.)

Yes, We Can

I admit it, I liked this. (Obama fans, take note.)


What MTV hath wrought

Wow. Heidi Montag's music video really is even worse than you think it will be. I couldn't even get through half of it.