Thursday, November 30, 2006

Arrivederci, auf wiedersehen, etc.

I'm going to my little hometown this weekend. There is always a little bit of culture shock involved. Suddenly we have to drive everywhere instead of walking, and there is no longer a gym/library/CVS within a few blocks away. But, on the upside, it is much quieter, and you can see the stars.

My family's Christmas party is this weekend. They rent out a hall, Knights of Columbus or some such, and all 60 or so of my mom's side of the family shows up. She is the youngest of five, and they all had kids, and their kids have kids, so it's a nice, big crowd.

Among the events are Santa (played by one of the men, it changes each year. One year, embarrassingly, Santa had presents for me and D, so we had to perch on his lap, one per knee. I think Santa was my BIL that year) and the Yankee swap. I'm still fuzzy on the rules of the Yankee swap, but it is basically a Darwinian game where people give each other presents, but someone else can take yours away (and give you theirs).

One year my sister's boyfriend brought a fruitcake, to be silly. My niece, who was maybe six at the time, got a lottery ticket and was very excited. Then my aunt got the fruitcake and swapped it for the lottery ticket! My niece started to cry. Eventually my sister's boyfriend solved the problem by taking the fruitcake from her and giving her a candle.

Hopefully no one will bring fruitcake this year.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tuesday twelve

1. I've never read a Harry Potter book. I probably never will :D
2. P, who works for D during the summer and is currently in England, left a library copy of the first Harry Potter at D's office. Maybe he bought it.
3. I like bunnies.
4. I used to be really into Britpop - the Cure, the Smiths, Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, etc. - but it's wearing off a little. I like the Smiths and Pet Shop Boys the best of the bunch.
5. I'd like to get my tarot cards read. D is against it, though, as he thinks they are self-fulfilling prophecies. I guess I'm always a bit afraid of what they will say.
6. On the other hand, I think the tarot card readers often speak in generalities that could apply to anyone.
7. But I'd like to know the future.
8. I like the idea of destiny better than free will. I want there to be a plan.
9. Of course, some free will is nice.
10. In history class, in high school, Mr. H explained that Oedipus Rex's destiny was like a box (i.e., he was going to sleep with his mother, like it or not). But he had the free will to choose what he wanted to do, within that box. (He chose to blind himself and wander around in exile...not the best idea.)
11. Sometimes I like to go to people's blogs and read their archives.
12. When I was non-veg, I liked my mother's chicken sandwiches. She would pack them for me when I worked at the movie theater (college summers/winter breaks).

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Kibbles and bits

I feel like blogging, but I have no overarching topic, so this is kind of a premature Tuesday twelve/Thursday thirteen.

We had Thanksgiving at my in-laws'. My MIL made two chocolate Statues of Liberty as centerpieces. Upon hearing that the statue contained rum, my SIL became excited and broke it in half (to get to the rum). Unfortunately, the rum had been soaked up by the chocolate.

I met one of those foxy dogs (you know, the ones that look like foxes) and found out he was 15 years old. I told him he was an elder statesman.

I read Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi recently. Although the premise might strike you as ultra-depressing -- it's the story of her great-uncle, whose wife broke his tar (lute); he couldn't find a replacement, and ended up starving himself to death -- it was really a beautiful story. I also love the way she draws. She did a really cool thing in this book where she put the flashback panels in black with white ink (instead of the other way around).

The agent thing is really a drag. I'm currently waiting for one to respond; it usually takes them about a month if they're reading chapters (as opposed to just skimming your query letter). I like writing itself, but the trying to get published bit is not fun.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What makes this Thanksgiving different from any other?

The answer is: hair.

This year was our turn to have Thanksgiving with the in-laws (next year we'll be in Massachusetts with my brother's mother-in-law's fabulous pumpkin pie, with brandy in the filling). Anyway, D has two male cousins. One of them has told us in the past, "It would take a weed whacker" to cope with his body hair. So both of them took off their shirts and we compared. It was determined that M was hairier than J; M's chest and back hair was denser, while J's was more artfully distributed. J even had "eagle tufts," small puffs of hair on his shoulders.

How hairy is your man? (Or woman.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A confession

I went to Whole Foods today, which was one of the dumber things I've done in my entire life. You see, I forgot that everyone has the day before Thanksgiving off, and accordingly heads to the store. With nothing but zucchini in my cart, I found myself trapped in the bean aisle. (I'm making the rigatoni-white bean-zucchini-and tomato concoction that Liz likes.) I couldn't take it any more and I fled. I've never done that before, and I'm sorry to whoever finds it and has to put the zucchini away, and I hope the zucchini finds a good home.

However, it's still better than those who leave used Kleenexes or worse in their grocery carts.

Also, I found out something scandalous about one of the places where I work. I'm finding it hard to keep it to myself. I told D and Carpe, but no one else knows.

I wish I could do one of those "My best friend lives in Canada, and she works at a ____ where they were ______," but I'm not a good liar.

The only occasions when I freely lie are:
a) the ugly baby situation.
b) the ugly wedding dress situation.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tuesday twelve

1. This is a late night, or rather early morning, Tuesday twelve.
2. Have I mentioned I have insomnia?
3. I got a fabulous Astrud Gilberto of those 20th-Century Masters comps...and it rocks. I love how at the end of "The Girl from Ipanema," she keeps saying softly, "She just doesn't see..."
4. I really want to see The Holiday (Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Cameron Diaz).
5. I'm also a little hooked on Pongal, an Indian restaurant where they give you special chapatti bread.
6. I was never able to do the Running Man (a dance popular in 8th grade).
7. I discovered a small dog run in Washington Square Park, with an excellent selection of doggies.
8. I'm starting to notice babies almost as much as dogs. This worries me.
9. I always wonder how much editing should go into a blog...should I really admit this stuff?
10. I went through a phase where I was really into corduroy.
11. That phase is over.
12. I missed spinach a lot during the time we couldn't have it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Innies and outies

Just spent the day in Philadelphia. I had a good time with D's cousin's daughter, Dalia. She came in, looking shy around all the big scary people (I felt the same) so I whisked her to the hall, where we played with her Little Mermaid doll and talked. In case you're wondering, the doll has detachable red hair, a small purple bra and a turquoise-green sea tail. I wondered if Little Mermaid can switch hair colors...why make it detachable, after all? Dalia explained, "Belle has brown hair, Cinderella has blonde hair and Snow White has black hair."

I now consider myself an expert.

At any rate, I tickled her at dinner and felt a small protuberance on her belly. She has an outie! D asked me if I knew any adults with outies, and I could remember a childhood friend who had one. I don't know if she still does. And so, I you have an innie or an outie, and has it always been that way?


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thursday thirteen

1. I feel bad when I turn down subbing gigs at awful hours. E.g., 6:45 am-7:45 am. I have a permanent class at this place, and I like to allow thirty minutes to get there by subway, so I'd have to leave at 6:15 am, and get up at 5:45 or so. If I were desperate to teach, I'd do it, but not now. Bear in mind I fall asleep at 1 am, *with* the help of melatonin.
2. We tried a new Ethiopian restaurant with D's cousin J last night. It is so new that it's not even on menupages yet. It was good, except for the vegetarian meatballs that D started to use as hockey pucks.
3. I have an old "boom box" that I can't bring myself to get rid of. It stopped playing tapes in 1997 (that is, it began eating them) and it still plays CDs, but it skips and stalls.
4. Sometimes I play Donna De Lory's music in my yoga classes. She used to, and maybe still does, sing backup for Madonna.
5. The other day I patted a dog named Gracie, and two other people patted her in a span of 15 minutes. She was one of the cutest dogs I've ever seen.
6. D says 90% of dogs are in the top 10% for me.
7. In New York, they have doggie is Wet Nose Doggie Gym, another is Biscuits & Bath Doggie Gym. The Wet Nose is better, I think.
8. I told D about Let's Go to Prison. I'm kind of hoping we don't see it. It wasn't screened for critics, which is always a bad sign.
9. D was shocked to discover that Owen and Luke Wilson were brothers.
10. Some agent gave me an enthusiastic response to my query and he's currently reading 3 chapters. Hopefully he will say yes.
11. My college reunion is coming up.
12. Apples are my favorite fruit.
13. I've never been to most of the "fly-over" states.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Famous people, and an accomplishment

I'm reading I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron (after a mega-long library wait) and I'm enjoying it. She has a fun, witty, snappy style of writing that I admire. Among other things, the book includes a list of advice to younger people. She says that any part of your body that you hate at 35, you'll miss at 55. I wonder if this is true. D feels that people involved in the movies are super-preoccupied with appearance, and chances are we won't even notice our necks at that age. We'll see :)

Anyway, I got to thinking how I had the opportunity to meet Nora Ephron, and didn't. She came to speak at my college. So did Hillary Clinton. And what did I do? I worked a shift at the campus snack bar. I don't think it was even my own shift; I agreed to sub for somebody. Meanwhile, my roommate at the time not only went, she was so excited that she liberated some of the POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS yellow tape and stuck it on our wall.

One person I did take the opportunity to meet (or rather, see and hear him) was Ray Bradbury. He was not at all what I expected. The story I remember best of his was about rain, how this little girl didn't want it, and there was a drought. So I thought he might be kind of sad. Not so. He was one of the most cheerful, energetic people I've ever met. He was practically bouncing around the room. It was cool.

My accomplishment (stop reading here if you're squeamish) is: I finally got an appointment with a certain kind of doctor. Ashley calls it the PM. In New York, PMs are a rare and elusive breed, and you have to hunt them on the savannah, much like agents. It's a competitive sport. Sometimes it takes four months to find one. Sometimes you get an appointment for four months from now, then they cancel it without explanation. (It's true.) I was demoralized by the whole savannah hunt (I haven't been to the PM in six years), but I opened my Aetna directory and called a PM today just for the heck of it. And what do you know, they had a Friday appointment.

Miracles do happen.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


I'm very sleepy but I will write a review of Stranger than Fiction, because I promised to ;)

The movie was surprisingly dark and morbid, given that Will Ferrell and Queen Latifah were in it. The premise: Emma Thompson is a writer, and Will Ferrell is one of her fictional creations. She's about to kill him off. Queen Latifah is a subdued author's assistant who helps Emma meet her deadline; Dustin Hoffman is a professor/faculty lifeguard who listens to Will's complaints of a voice in his head (which is Emma's voice, narrating Will's story).

Dustin encourages Will to find out if his story is a comedy or a tragedy (happily ever after, or will he die in the end?). Armed with a notebook, Will goes to Maggie Gyllenhaal's bakery (he's auditing her) and puts check marks in the tragedy/comedy columns.

The last quarter of the movie was pretty disturbing. It was cute and quirky up to that point, and then it takes a dark turn. And the ending doesn't really fit with what came before.

D didn't like it. He thought it was a downer, "and you don't see Will Ferrell and Queen Latifah for a downer." He also thought Dustin Hoffman was talking "a lot of pretentious literary mumbo-jumbo" and that Emma Thompson was "fakely angstful." However, the literary "mumbo-jumbo" took me back to my college days, and I thought Emma's dark moods were typical of most artists. So it didn't bother me.

But I didn't like the sad part.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tuesday twelve

1. I recently re-read Jane Eyre, but Little Women didn't hold up as well for some reason.
2. Of the Anne of Green Gables books, my favorite was Anne of the Island (when she goes to college).
3. I visited Prince Edward Island when I was 12 or 13, and bought volume one of L.M. Montgomery's diary; it seemed as if she didn't really love her husband. It was kind of depressing.
4. Maybe I will dress up as a bumblebee or something next Halloween.
5. When I was little, the old Mighty Mouse was my favorite cartoon. They revamped it later on, and it was never the same.
6. I often wonder about people I have fallen out of touch with, what they are doing, etc.
7. D just bought the new Dave Eggers book from the Strand. I'll probably read it when he's done.
8. My favorite Dave Eggers piece is a short story written from a dog's point of view.
9. I can't wait for the new Will Ferrell movie, Stranger than Fiction. D and I will probably see it this weekend.
10. I also want to see Volver, the new Pedro Almodovar movie.
11. D is not a Pedro fan.
12. My favorite Pedro movie is Talk to Her.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Interesting tidbits about Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Borat):
He's engaged to Isla Fisher, the redhead from Wedding Crashers.
He got his start in Madonna's video, "Music".
He will only give interviews in character.
While he was in character, promoting Borat, he explained that his eleven-year-old daughter was pregnant and he hoped the baby would "be adopted by the singing tranvestite, Madonna."

AT, D and I all liked the movie, though parts of it were unsettling/disturbing. With some of his subjects, Borat didn't even have to say anything; they just revealed themselves in a way that no reporter would ever get them to do.

The movie also showed that Sacha Baron Cohen is pretty smart; he knew exactly how to act in each situation to get the desired response, and he was able to make a bored man in an elevator the visual punchline to a joke.

I don't want to give too much away, but it's the only extended man-on-man nude wrestling scene you'll see all year.

And also, though some people revealed some pretty scary aspects of their personalities, others were very patient and kind to him. So it was an interesting view of how America would seem to an outsider (and a kooky one at that).

He also tried kissing men on the New York subway (not wise).

Friday, November 03, 2006

A bit of this, a bit of that

I went to a farmers' market today (there is often one set up in Union Square) and bought some "new crop" apples - Braeburn and Gala. All the "new crop" signs made me wonder if there's an old, moldy, worm-eaten crop somewhere...but if so, they weren't selling 'em. The apples were magically delicious (yes, I've eaten them all already).

Then I went to Whole Foods-Union Square to get an oatmeal-raisin cookie - I had a craving - and then I slipped into the Strand (pernicious crack den) and got 3 books (all half-price, though, enabling me to feel somewhat virtuous).

I also have a good flow of library books now. I realized it's better to put books on hold if (a) they aren't new, (b) the library has many copies of them and/or (c) they're not in much demand.

Whole Foods presented me with a dilemma. There's a Pilates studio in town that is offering a special deal: get one class for free with this flyer (from the foyer of Whole Foods), and then get additional classes at a discounted rate (still expensive - $15 per class, down from $25 per class). You see, I can take Pilates "for free" at the gym. The problem is, there's only one instructor I love at the gym. And she abandoned me, taking off for Turks and Caicos for 2 weeks.

So should I go to the beautiful, light, airy, expensive studio and risk getting sucked in? Or take the high road and just go to the gym, even though I can't take the favorite instructor's class right now?

I guess I should go to the beautiful studio and resist its siren call (with regard to future classes).

We're seeing Borat on Saturday with AT. I'm still not sure whether I'll find it offensive, funny or both. Finally, I told D that if I find it totally offensive and unfunny, I reserve the right to slip out...he won't be alone, after all.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Yevgueny Kepushkev

D always told me how mature he was, even as a kid. So imagine my shock when he told me how he and Lobo used to make prank calls.

"It was only one afternoon," he explained. "We'd call the parents of kids we didn't like too much."

This is what they did to these poor answering machines.

[in a thick Russian accent]

"Hello, this is Yevgueny Kepushkev from American Communist Party. Your son, ___, expressed interest in Party. I call to deliver rap message to you."

Then one of them did a breakbeat while the other one sang:

"My name Yevgueny
I am a Russian.
I talk to you
I no am moshin'.
If you find yourself in pickle,
You can count on hammer and sickle.
I hope you give our party a try
If you don' might just die."

Then they said in unison:

"Call 555-USSR"

and hung up.

I'm not sure what "moshin'" is, especially since these prank calls predated mosh pits. And the "might die" part is a bit much. But I love the idea of "you can count on hammer and sickle." I might make it my personal motto.