Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The final post of 2008!


I'm the first to admit that New Years' Eve is a totally overrated holiday. Every year that I try to plan something awesome and fun, I end up asleep or on the subway at midnight, or in one case, bedridden with tonsillitis in London. This year, i.e. tonight, I'm working at the
Hong Kong, serving up scorpion bowls in the wee and first hours of 2009.

But one thing I do take take seriously is New Years' resolutions. And I've decided that the problem with them is accountability. We all make resolutions, or at least most of us do, but we keep them to ourselves. This is so that when we eat a half-bag of microwave popcorn and watch Cheers reruns at 3 a.m., like I did last night, no one can say "Gee, Katie, remember how you resolved to eat more nutritiously, be more active, and go to bed at a reasonable hour?" Instead, you can quietly fail and no one is the wiser.

So I'm putting my resolutions on this blog for all (i.e. my 9 readers) to see. And I'm giving you permission to nag me if I break them in the first six months of '09.

1. Do more yoga

All-One Yoga in Allston is a 5-min. walk from my house and they have a student discount, so really, there is no excuse. Plus, my ineptness probably gives others hope and confidence, so it could be argued that my presence in a yoga class serves a greater good.

2. Create a daily writing schedule and stick to it

I'm one semester into grad school and while I'm writing more, I'm still not writing every day. And I should. I should get my ass out of bed at a reasonable hour and write.

3. Submit to literary magazines and journals

I'm sure I'll get rejected my first few times at bat, but I need to at least start attempting to get published somewhere other than on this blog.

4. Eat better

I offer yesterday's food log as evidence: 1 cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese, 1 coffee, 7 beers (I went to a free tasting at the Harpoon brewery!), onion rings, fries and mac 'n cheese at Roadhouse (shared among 4 people...don't judge), 1/2 bag of microwave popcorn, 4 graham crackers with peanut butter spread on them

5. Pay off my Capital One Visa

Seriously, the interest rate is like 26% or something. I resolve to get rid of this card every year and but can't seem to get the motherfucker out of my wallet. I don't even use it, but with the accrued interest, I can't seem to pay it off.

I think 5 is good number of resolutions. I could go on with a minor list of easily achievable things (like mail back the Ulysses S. Grant biography manuscript that I decided not to copyedit back in October before the author presses legal action), but this feels like a solid "to-do in 2009" list.

Happy New Years'!


(maybe resolution #6 should be to stop using lame stock photography on my blog....)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Caroling, caroling


I am a big fan of Christmas music. On my iPod, I have a playlist with 70+ holiday songs on it, from artists as diverse as Judy Garland and Bing Crosby to Mariah Carey and the Muppets. And it occurs to me that pretty much all Christmas songs fit into one of three cateogories: dirty, depressing, and stupid/juvenile.

Dirty Christmas carols, you ask? Whatever do you mean? My stepdad is responsible for pointing this first example out to me. Take a gander at the lyrics to "Santa Claus Got Stuck in my Chimney," which was originally recorded by Ella Fitzgerald in 1960:

Santa Claus got stuck in my chimney
Stuck in my chimney, stuck in my chimney
Santa Claus got stuck in my chimney
When he came last year.


There he was in the middle of my chimney
Roly-poly, fat and round
There he was in the middle of my chimney
Not quite up and not quite down

Santa please come back to my chimney
Back to my chimney, back to my chimney
Santa please come back to my chimney
You can come back here.

Wow, right? The song takes the vagina-as-chimney metaphor really far.

I also think the allegedly innocent "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" is open to myriad interpretations. I know that we're supposed to assume that what the kid sees (and misunderstands) is his dad dressed up as Santa and his mom kissing his dad. But I always think about the other possibility-- that dad is upstairs asleep while mom is playing tonsil hockey with the 19-year-old mall Santa. Or I imagine another verse -- where after Mommy kisses and tickles Santa, things progress to less PG-13-rated events. "Then I saw Mommy fellating Santa Claus..."

"Santa Baby," about a greedy woman who wants the deed to a diamond mine and a new car among other things, also has a naughty feel to it...though I think the song would be awesome
if sampled in a remix of Kanye West's "Gold-Digger." You know, to give it more contemporary
relevance.

The second category, the Depressing Songs, is where all my favorites are. I like my pop culture super sad, as is evidenced by my love of Richard Yates and Patsy Cline. Songs like "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "White Christmas" play up the more emotionally confusing part of Christmas-- the moments where, after too much spiked eggnog, you start thinking about Christmases past and get nostalgic about ex-lovers and dead relatives.

The mother of all depressing Christmas songs is of course the oft-covered "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." The history of the song, which was written for the film Meet Me in St. Louis, is quite fascinating and even has its own Wikipedia page. Now the lyrics seem tame, but the original lyrics? Wrist-slitting material. Check it out:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It may be your last
Next year we may all be living in the past

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Pop that champagne cork
Next year we may all be living in New York

No good times like the olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us no more

But at least we all will be together
If the Lord allows
From now on, we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

See what I mean? Now we sing about hanging stars on shiny boughs and all that bullshit. When really, the song is about "muddling through" life. Pass the schnapps!

Finally, the stupid/juvenile carols. I HATE THESE. Examples include "Grandma Got Run Over by
a Reindeer" and "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth." These songs really should
just disappear from holiday anthologies.

Now, all of the above examples are fairly old songs -- but contemporary recording artists are

attempting to add to the Christmas canon. A few years ago, Newsong came out with what might be the worst Christmas song of all time: The Christmas Shoes.


I mean, it's so awesomely bad that it's almost good. Almost.

This holiday season, I saw that Aretha Franklin had put out her first album of Christmas songs, so I decided
to buy it for my mom. We listened to it in the car after she picked me up from the airport. And were immediately flabbergasted. The album panders to the most stereotypical images of a down-home Southern Christmas. In between songs, Aretha talks about chittlins. Seriously. I'm not even black and I'm offended.

The final track is Aretha reading a special adaptation of "Twas the Night Before Christmas." Her version makes references to her "bro" and her "diddy" (which prompted my mother to ask, "What's a 'diddy'?") and instead of waiting up for Ol' St. Nick, Aretha is waiting for her new man to arrive. When he does show up, she runs him out of the house for not bringing adequate gifts. As he exits, instead of shouting "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night," he yells, "You'se one hell of a woman, 'Retha!"

Download it if you don't believe me.

Happy holidays, everyone -- I encourage you to sing till you're blue (red? green?) in the face
and try to follow to paradoxical advice offered in "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," namely to dance merrily in "the new old-fashioned way." Good luck with that.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What kind of person steals the Baby Jesus?


On a recent trip to NYC, I was walking down Houston Street and came upon this nativity scene. With a very key element missing.


And what had the vandals replaced our Lord and Savior with? Let's go in for the close-up:

Yep, that's a keychain. A KEYCHAIN. With no keys on it. What is the world coming to?

Happy holidays, everyone! May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white. If you're in the New England area, this Christmas is certainly going to be white. It's been snowing for over 24 hours now! And it doesn't show signs of stopping (no, I didn't bring any corn for popping).

I'm off to Colorado today (planes can fly in blizzards, right?), so posting may be sporadic for the next week or so. But I'll do my best. I know all you want for Christmas is for this blog to be regularly updated. In which case, I would recommend to aim a little higher next year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Communication FAIL, again

Because I write (freelance) for a small Smithsonian publication, I am technically a government contractor and thus, had to join the Central Contractor Registry, or CCR. But the e-mail that I just received from CCR pretty much sums up my problem with the federal government. I mean, can you make heads or tails out of this?

Dear CCR Registrant:

Beginning on December 21, 2008 through July 01, 2009, all Central Contractor Registration (CCR) Primary and Alternate Points of Contact (POC) updating their CCR registrations will be instructed to convert their Trading Partner Identification Number (TPIN) login to a self-assigned User ID and Password.

This enhancement (i.e., Release 4.08.2.3) includes the option to invite or assign multiple Maintenance POCs. Maintenance POCs will also have the ability to access and update the registration. The CCR Primary and Alternate POCs may remove Maintenance POCs at anytime. NOTE: All email notifications generated by CCR will continue to be sent to the CCR Primary and Alternate POCs. No emails will be sent to the Maintenance POCs.

CCR Primary and Alternate POCs who manage multiple DUNS registrations will be able to associate those registrations to one User ID and Password.

Thank you,
The CCR Group

BS-SP1

I *think* all this e-mail is saying is that I have to come up with a username and password for the CCR site. So why couldn't they have just said that? Seriously, Barack Obama better get on this shit pronto.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Communication FAIL

I received this note from my management company on Tuesday. It was slipped under my door.

This is to inform you that on December 11, 2008, we will be performing a spot check inspection for the presence of crawling insects in your unit. Our maintenance personnel will be accompanying an employee from Waltham Services. You don't need to be home while this work is being performed. Thank you.

Um....where to begin. My first thought was, "CRAWLING INSECTS???? WHERE???? AHHHHHHH" but then I realized that I hadn't seen any. Then I started thinking about the specificity of "crawling" insects, as in not flying, meandering, loitering, or tap-dancing. Just crawling.

When I came home after this inspection took place, I realized that "crawling insects" was actually a euphemism for bed bugs, since the "personnel" stripped the sheets off my bed (and didn't remake the bed, thank you very much). There was nothing to indicate whether the presence of crawling insects was or was not detected in my apartment.


The note slipped under my door reminded me of an e-mail I received when I was working at an upper east side museum. It was sent to all staff, from the maintenance/facilities manager. It said:

As many of you have noticed a fowl smell in the building. This is due to a crack pipe and we are working on it now. The smell is not toxic waste, just ground water from the garden. Smell should dissipate very shortly. Sorry for the inconvenience.

There are so many remarkable things about this e-mail, which is why I saved a copy of it (it was sent on March 30, 2006). The image of a chicken smoking crack, for one. But also, the reassuring statement that the smell is not "toxic waste." Most puzzling to me is the correct usage/spelling of "dissipate" in an e-mail that starts with both a sentence fragment and a homonym error (foul/fowl). Curious.

But lest you think I'm a snob, let me assure you that I make communication blunders all the time. Just this week, I had an embarrassing text message gaffe. In my phone, there are two Josh Gs: one is a new friend and fellow blogger and the other is recording artist Josh Groban.

Why do I have his number? Well, in the summer of 1997, we both attended Interlochen Arts Camp and became friends. We also briefly dated, but then I broke up with him (to date someone else). My mother still laments this decision and is holding out hope that someday Josh and I will reconnect. Clearly, we had a strong bond at age 16:


(sidenote: why am I making that face? And why did no one tell me that baggy flannels were not the best way to showcase my figure?)

We are still sort of in touch, technically-- and he very generously has given me tickets to some of his shows. Let me tell you, it's odd to stand in a sea of squealing tweens and their moms and see someone you know on stage at Madison Square Garden.

Anyway, the communication faux pas happened on Thursday, when I meant to text the other Josh G. about meeting up at a bar, and accidentally texted Josh Groban. He sent me a very confused reply, which I received the following morning at 5:36 a.m. At first, I was like, why is Josh Groban up that early? Then I realized he's probably touring in Asia or something and got my text at an ungodly hour. It's probably karmically fair that I am doomed to make an ass of myself with Josh for the rest of eternity.

Sorry, Mom.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

You can take the girl out of the Midwest....

...but you can't take the Midwest out of the girl.

Tonight I attended a reading and dinner where Kevin Young was the guest of honor. I was unfamiliar with Young's work, but after hearing him, I am definitely a fan and plan to buy his latest collection, Dear Darkness, as soon as possible.

Because I'm swamped with end-of-semester assignments, I am going to simply post a poem of his that I particularly enjoy, as a native of St. Louis, Missouri. I am in the process of writing a poem about my hometown -- it's currently titled "Autumn in St. Louis County"and I started writing it when I was home for Thanksgiving. Young's poem resonated with me and hopefully will positively influence my attempt to capture, as Nelly would say, "the Lou."


"Ode to the Midwest" by Kevin Young

The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
—Bob Dylan


I want to be doused
in cheese

& fried. I want
to wander

the aisles, my heart's
supermarket stocked high

as cholesterol. I want to die
wearing a sweatsuit—

I want to live
forever in a Christmas sweater,

a teddy bear nursing
off the front. I want to write

a check in the express lane.
I want to scrape

my driveway clean

myself, early, before
anyone's awake—

that'll put em to shame—
I want to see what the sun

sees before it tells
the snow to go. I want to be

the only black person I know.

I want to throw
out my back & not

complain about it.
I wanta drive

two blocks. Why walk—

I want love, n stuff—

I want to cut
my sutures myself.

I want to jog
down to the river

& make it my bed—

I want to walk
its muddy banks

& make me a withdrawal.

I tried jumping in,
found it frozen—

I'll go home, I guess,
to my rooms where the moon

changes & shines
like television.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Observations from behind the bar


Recently, my job description at Hong Kong Harvard has expanded from just cocktail waitressing to cocktail waitressing and bartending. On either Friday or Saturday, I get to tend the "baby bar" on the third floor, which serves only beer and shots. It's a totally different perspective, to be behind the bar -- there is more respect and less groping. And I have a great view of the dance floor, which if you've been to my place of work, know is highly entertaining.

Hong Kong reminds me a lot of
Toad's in New Haven: it's a cheapish college bar where you can do tequila shots and drink Bud Light while (almost) shamelessly dancing to hip hop and Britney. I myself only went to Toad's three times in four years, and once was to see a They Might Be Giants concert. But the other two times, I did what you're supposed to do in such establishments -- binge-drank like it was going out of style and made a fool of myself on the dance floor. And watching people at Hong Kong has confirmed my worst fears of how ridiculous I must have looked.

My new vantage point offers phenomenal people-watching opportunities. FYI, how you interact with your bartender says more about you than you realize.


Some observations:


Girls tip better than guys


Everyone told me that being a cute girl would be my golden ticket and to wear low-cut shirts to get more tips, but I've found that unless the girlfriend/date is watching, some guys don't tip appropriately. What is appropriate? $1 a drink. Period. Pretty easy. Even with beer, guys. I'm getting paid $2.65/hr, people.


Yes, I am making conversation with you because it's my job. Most likely I do not want your phone number


I mean, I won't be offended if you try to give it to me. I'll probably be flattered. But don't wait by the phone, dude.

Don't be a creeper on the dance floor


Last night, there was this shady dude whose signature move was to sneak up and stealthily freak-dance on unsuspecting girls. When they would finally notice, they would get this horrified look on their faces and run away. I saw this guy do this literally 400 times over the course of two hours. Don't be this guy.

You know how you think you look really fierce? This is what you actually look like:


What you order does say a lot about you

When you ask if I can make you a Sex On The Beach, I am judging you. Especially since there's a big sign over my bar that says I only serve beer.

It's Saturday and I'll be back at Hong Kong again tonight....so drink responsibly! Your bartender is watching you.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

5 things I am thankful for

On the actual day designated for giving thanks, I often find myself more concerned with how whatever vegetable side dish I'm preparing for dinner will turn out than reflecting on what I should be thankful for. This year was no exception, and while I'm happy to report that my brussel sprouts and carrots were a big hit, I'm still a little behind in my thanks-giving. So here we go, 4 days late.

First, the obvious:

1.
Although it's been said many times, many ways-- THANK GOD OR WHOM/WHATEVER IS UP THERE THAT HE WON.

2. Puppies!


My family in St. Louis got a new puppy as an early Christmas present for my youngest brother, J.T. The puppy is a mini Dachshund named Luigi (nickname: Louie). Watch this clip of him learning how to climb down stairs and your heart will melt a little:



video

On a related note, my friend Karl sent me this photo, which he described as "a snapshot of heaven."

So as to not offend Maude, the fat calico with whom I share my bed, I probably should expand this to be thankful for animals or pets in general. I owe that to her, especially since I tied a green-and-red striped holiday bow to her collar today. She is not pleased.


3. Friends, both silver and gold

I've made some new grad school friends in the past few months in Boston, and I'm very thankful for that since my little studio can get quite lonely. But I'm also thankful to still be in touch with friends from high school, college, and the years I spent in NYC after college. I'm actually a hard person to fall out of touch with -- I'm pretty tenacious about maintaining my friendships. Once you befriend me, you're stuck with me.


4.
The Groon

My Dad told me an anecdote this weekend about his salad days at the University of Arizona. Apparently, he once got caught cheating on a pop quiz in an Anthropology course. One of the questions asked about the prosimian primates that represent the bridge between two classifications of mammals. The correct answer is lemur, but my dad hadn't done the reading and decided to copy off another student. Both my dad and this other idiot wrote down the same nonexistent creature: the Groon. I imagine the Groon looks something like this:

The Groon represents my bizarro family. Fractured and odd as we are, we have some good times together.

5. You!


Yes, you. I know it's cheesy of me to say, but seriously, thanks for reading. It's been six months since I started this blog and I'm still getting the hang of it, so I am very appreciative that anyone reads it at all. So...thanks. And keep reading, please.

Monday, December 1, 2008

This song's so hot it's stolen






I discovered this song, "My Dick" by Mickey Avalon, while watching Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay. And as a poet, I have to give Avalon props for some of the rhymes here-- truly sophisticated stuff. To watch the music video (with audio!), click here.

Soon I will write at length about Thanksgiving, reflecting on this year and what I'm thankful for, but since I don't have time to go into that now and it's been over a week since my last post, I'll just give you this small gift.

You're welcome.


Mickey Avalon widget by 6L & Daxii

Friday, November 21, 2008

Who is Sarah Palin's publicist?




"Sarah, baby, it's going to be great, we're going to do the interview while turkeys are being slaughtered in the background. We'll show those pansy liberal vegetarians who the real Americans are! Wait, Sarah, why are you wearing a Burberry scarf and drinking Starbucks? You're a real everyday normal woman, with real everyday normal problems like a knocked-up teenage daughter, right? Right?!?!"

(thanks to Jocelyn and Levi for sending this to me...)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Boola Boola


As some of you may know, this Saturday marks the 125th anniversary of the Harvard-Yale Football Game, an event categorized by immense anticipation, binge drinking, and very poor athleticism.

In case you are not sure which team to root for, let me help you out. First, click here for some appropriate music to play while you read.

1. Yale's team is the Bulldogs. Bulldogs are cute and feisty (just like me!)

Harvard's team (and their daily newspaper) is the Crimson, which reminds me of my period, as well as that scene in "Clueless" when Alicia Silverstone tells Wallace Shawn she is "surfing the crimson wave." To summarize: yuck.

2. BILL CLINTON went to Yale! George Bush also went to Yale.


3. Yale's fight songs were written by Cole Porter. Perhaps you've heard of him?

4. The Yale Precision Marching Band,
in addition to featuring standard band instruments, includes violins, bagpipes, accordions, keyboards, cowbells, triangles, and air guitars. Their halftime shows are more about pyrotechnics than fancypants formations. Basically, they like to blow shit up on the field.

5. Harvard sucks (and Princeton doesn't matter).

There are too many other reasons to list here, but basically, GO ELIS, and wear blue on Saturday! If you're in the Cambridge area, visit me Friday night at Hong Kong in Harvard Square or track me down at the Yale Club of Boston's tailgate on Saturday.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Weather.com


Cloudy
36°F

Feels Like
28°F

Ok, so maybe I'm being oversensitive, but whenever I log on to weather.com and see something like this, my first reaction is "Don't tell me how I feel, weather.com! YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW ME!"

What if I go outside, and to me it feels like 29 degrees? What then? For all you know, weather.com, I'm dressed super warmly today. Maybe I feel like it's 65 degrees and sunny. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT? Are you going to tell me I'm WRONG?!?!


I just think this feature of the website is rather presumptuous. The science of weather forecasting seems somewhat comical to begin with, but this crosses the line. Now meteorologists are not just telling me what the temperature is, they are also speculating how my body is registering that temperature.

It's like weather.com and I are in an unhealthy relationship and I try to express my feelings, and weather.com tells me what I'm really feeling, which is a thinly veiled prescriptive statement about how I should be feeling. Like there's something wrong with me if today's high of 36 degrees didn't feel more like 28 degrees.

Well, I have news for you, weather.com. You do not know how I am feeling, so I would appreciate it if we could just keep things professional. I do not dispute your claim that humidity is at 50% and there are 11 mph winds coming from the northwest. I believe that the sun will rise tomorrow at 6:48 am and set at 4:46 pm, as depressing as that is. All I want from you is a general sense of how fucking cold and/or windy/snowy it is outside so I can dress accordingly. You do your job and I'll do mine, ok?

All best,
Katie

p.s. I do get a kick out of the pet safety forecast feature. Though Maude never ventures beyond my apartment and sleeps approximately 16 hours/day, I'm sure she would be grateful to know her "flea comfort index" should she ever find herself awake and outdoors.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Boston v. New York

I have now lived in Beantown for a little over three months, so it seems like a good time to reflect a bit on my life here and how the adjustment has been going. For the most part, it's been a smooth transition, though there are things I miss about my old life in New York. Specifically:

1. 24-hour subway service

2. 24-hour restaurants

3. 24-hour life in general

Being a student again is fun and it's nice to feel like I've matured since my undergraduate days in terms of my study habits. I still write papers the night before they're due, but I generally think about my thesis and create an outline a few days in advance, which makes the writing process easier. And I'm much more comfortable speaking in class. And much better about attending class. On time. Having done the reading.

But being a student in Boston is as annoying as being an actress in New York. In New York, I used to not admit to being an actor because, well, EVERYONE is an actor. Responding to the question of "So, what do you do?" with "Well, actually, I do theatre" usually results in an eye-roll which translates roughly to "yeah, you and every other asshole. Let's just cut to the chase where you give me a freakin' postcard for your next show so I can deposit said postcard into the next trash receptacle, k?"

Since Boston is a city of students (about half a million, to be exact), all you generally hear people talking about (on the T, in coffee shops, anywhere) is 1) their classes and 2) how wasted they were last night ("Seriously, I was so wasted last night. For reals. I mean, I don't remember anything at all. Except how wasted I was.")

So I guess it's fair to say that I miss the social diversity of New York. Boston feels like one big mostly-white campus sometimes. Which in terms of the abundance of cheap beer is a good thing...but otherwise, gets old fast. I do not want to move back to New York -- that I only see happening if I mysteriously come into a large sum of money. Which now that Barack Obama is President, I guess could happen. I mean, according to this woman, all my financial woes are pretty much behind me:



As one international student whose college admissions essay I was editing wrote, "The road is long and hubbly," my friends. That applies to me and our new President-elect. Hubbly, hubbly, hubbly.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Note to Emerson students: Weed is still illegal

I woke up Wednesday morning still buzzed from Barack's victory to find this e-mail, from the Dean of Students at Emerson College, in my inbox:


Dear Students,

In light of yesterday’s vote to decriminalize the possession of small quantities of marijuana in Massachusetts some individuals have inquired if its passage will impact College policy. Possession is still unlawful in Massachusetts and the College is still subject to the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. That law conditions the College’s receipt of federal funds on its enforcement of standards of conduct that clearly prohibit unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs. Thus, please be advised that the Student Code of Conduct as it pertains to marijuana possession, use, or distribution remains as written in the Student Handbook. A PDF of the Student Handbook can be found at www.emerson.edu/student_life . The College’s sanctioning guidelines for marijuana possession, use, or distribution is located on pages 92 and 93; the College’s Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) policy is located on pages 97 - 102.

***************************************************************************

Translation: it is still against college policy to smoke chronic on campus. Sorry.

I have to give mad props however to the "individuals" who needed this policy clarified. I hope they were stoner students. Stoner grad students would be even better.

I hope many of you are celebrating the passage of Prop 2 this weekend. Yes we can (and only incur a $100 fine if caught with less than an ounce)!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Belated Halloween!

Ok, it's two days late, but still...it's the thought that counts.

I spent Halloween night waitressing (in my guitar costume), but yesterday, in honor of the Day of the Dead, I rode the ferry out to Salem, MA with some other Emerson grad students. Though various websites assured us that Halloween festivities would be happening all weekend, the town was actually pretty quiet. By the time we arrived at noon, they had already taken away the 1,000-pound pumpkin. We were greatly disappointed.



We did visit the Salem Witch Museum (which would have been better had it featured an animatronic Tituba) and then hung out at the Psychic Fair, where I received a reading from The Stone Lady. We also pondered our mortality in a historic graveyard, which was conveniently located next to a fried dough stand and the New England Pirate Museum.

Since no one was burned at the stake or wrongfully imprisoned, I guess the trip was a success. And check out the gorgeous sunset we witnessed while waiting for the commuter rail:


And now, two spooky videos, both filmed yesterday by moi. The first is not for the faint at heart!


video

Listening to a cappella the day after Halloween with a raging hangover = horrifying.

And finally, a Halloween hat that sings and dances.


video

Monday, October 27, 2008

On the Street Where I Live

This is dedicated to the spray-paint graffiti artist whose work, pictured below, is on Gardner Street in Allston.

I have often walked down my street before;
But the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before.

All at once am I several stories high.
Seeing obscene words on the street where I live:



Are there lilac trees in the heart of town?
Can you hear a lark in any other part of town?
Does enchantment pour out of ev'ry door?
No, it's just on the street where I live!


People stop and stare. They don't bother me.
For there's no where else on earth that I would rather be.
Let the time go by, I won't care if I
Can see porn on the street where I live.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Overheard in Allston

So I was working on my laptop in my favorite neighborhood punk-rock coffee/ice cream shop, Herrell's Cafe, when I began eavesdropping on a tragic conversation happening at the table next to me. This guy was detailing some trauma to the chick sitting across from him, and I overheard him say something about an accident wherein he got burned. Intrigued, I began to listen more closely.

Burn-victim guy mentioned something about accidentally inhaling fuel and deciding that day to "quit." Wow, I thought, this guy must have been some sort of heroic firefighter before he got injured. The girl listening to his tale of woe was nodding sympathetically and holding his hand across the table. It was all very emotional and made me feel guilty about my chosen profession, which will never put me in harm's way or involve any life-saving.

Then I hear the guy say, "Yeah, well, fire-eating is definitely the most dangerous thing I've ever done."

Ok, never mind. Dude, you make the choice to stick a flaming baton down your throat, you deal with the consequences.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My new job


Mom and Dad would be so proud.

Ok, so technically, I don't work at Club Fuxxx, but The Comedy Studio, where I am a waitress two nights a week becomes Club Fuxxx at 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Located on the third floor of the illustrious Hong Kong restaurant and bar, Club Fuxxx draws mostly Harvard kids who enthusiastically and poorly dance to hip-hop after drinking a few too many Scorpion Bowls.

Observe:

The woman on the far right looks like she just got an enema.

I'm thinking about submitting info about my new job to the Yale Alumni Magazine for inclusion in the Class Notes section. The entry might look something like this:

Brooks Madison (JE) just passed the California bar exam and will be joining the prestigious law firm of Miller, Toppleman, and Krauss next month. Best of luck, Brooks! McKenzie Adams (SM) and Douglas Dalton (TD) recently tied the knot at Martha's Vineyard in front of a crowd of 350 which included many Yalies and Ivy League graduates. The ceremony, according to bridesmaid Lindsay Taft (SM), was extremely elegant and tasteful. Katie Vagnino (BR) just got a job as a cocktail waitress at Club Fuxxx in Cambridge, MA. Drs. Suzanna Spitz-Boone (DC) and Pierce Boone (MC '01) recently returned from a three-month Doctors-Without-Borders tour in Kenya and are thrilled to annoucnce that they are expecting their first child in March.

One of these things is not like the other....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Hey"

hey (hā) interj. Used to attract attention or to express surprise, appreciation, wonder, or pleasure.

A recent study* revealed that nearly 87% of Americans with text-message capabilities have at some point received the one-word message "hey" from a friend, family member, or more likely, a potential or existing sexual partner. Statistical research indicates that the ubiquitous "hey" text is becoming increasingly popular on college campuses and among the under-35 demographic. But just what does the "hey" text message imply or convey? When you type those three letters on your cellular phone's keypad or touch screen and hit send, are you saying what you think you are saying?

T.J., a sophomore at Boston University, explained his usage of the "hey" text: "I text a girl 'hey' to let her know I'm feelin' her." And if she responds? "I might follow up with something like, 'what r u doing tonite?'" T.J. went on the explain that he finds texting "hey" is a great way to make "first contact" with a girl.


Hunter College freshman Mike agreed--"'Hey' is nice and neutral," he said. "Same goes for 'yo.'"


Females, however, seemed to disagree about the effectiveness of the one-word text. "Oh my God, I hate getting texted 'hey,' it's so irritating," said Amy, a freshman at Tulane. "I accidentally gave out my number to this weirdo in my I[nternational] R[elations] class who said he was starting a study group. Now he texts me 'hey' like twice a week."

Leah, who just started her junior year at Cornell, felt similarly. She described the "hey" text as "immature and vague" and said she'd prefer interested parties to actually call her to ask her out.



Etymologically, "hey" dates back to the early 13th-century, and is derived either from the Roman eho, or the Greek word, eia. The only modern-day language other than English to use a similar expression is German (hei). In American culture, "hey" is regularly used as a replacement for the more formal-sounding greeting, "hello." "Hey" is a self-contained thought, one that invites a response playfully without demanding it. In the medium of text-messaging, it is often interpreted flirtatiously, as a signifier of romantic interest.

At least, that is what Becca, a sophomore at Sarah Lawrence, is hoping. "I met this awesome guy last night at a Take Back the Night organizational meeting and I think he might want to go out," she explained. "If he texts me 'hey' in the next few days, I'll know he means business."


*There was no study conducted and all of the quotations/names included here are completely fictional. Any similarity to actual undergraduates is entirely unintentional.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Poem du jour

I have a somewhat contentious relationship with Robert Frost. For reasons unknown, I have always felt inclined to dislike him and his work. Seriously, doesn't he look like a mean old crusty man?


On a recent trip to his hometown of Bennington, VT, I passed up the opportunity to visit his house, which is now a museum in his honor. I chose instead to visit the Annual Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival. When forced to choose between Frost ephemera and homemade garlic pesto, I went with the pesto.

My favorite possibly apocryphal Frost anecdote (and don't we all have one of those) concerns his issue with reading his work in public. According to J.D. McClatchy, Frost HATED to read his poetry on a bill with other poets. He only liked to read when it was just him. One time, he agreed to do a reading at Harvard (his alma mater) on the condition that he would be the only poet reading. But someone screwed up and Frost finds out on the day of that some other nobody poet is supposed to be reading as well. He freaks out and tries to back out. Finally, he concedes and agrees to read only on the condition that he can read first. Harvard says "Fine, whatever."

So Frost gets on stage and reads about apple picking, fire and ice, and snowy woods and whatnot. Everyone claps and Frost returns to his seat in the front row. The next poet gets on stage to read and before he's even finished with his first poem, the smoke alarm goes off and the whole auditorium has to be evacuated. Why? BECAUSE FROST LIT HIS PROGRAM ON FIRE.

Which is kind of a gangsta move. I can't validate this story anywhere, so don't even bother trying. Google search for "Robert Frost asshole" turns up zilch.


But recently, I actually read some Frost poetry and I gotta say, the man knows what he's doing with language. My favorite poem at the moment is "For Once, Then, Something":


Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths--and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

I mean, DAMN. I hope someday in my writing to find "something more of the depths."

Not on this blog, though. My next post will be an academic deconstruction of the text message "Hey."

Monday, October 6, 2008

Under the influence

Since moving to Boston and starting graduate school has correlated with drinking copious amounts of beer (it's all anybody drinks in this town, seriously), I more than ever wish I could master the art of drunk writing. Not drunk texting or e-mailing; people who know me are well aware of my demonstrated mastery in those fields. In college, I actually had to put Post-Its all over my laptop before going out to remind myself not to send e-mails when I came home drunk. I've matured a little bit since those days.

I'm always envious when I talk to people who say they do some of their best work when drunk and/or high. Coleridge and Poe had their opium; Bukowski, whiskey; Aaron Sorkin, cocaine. A med student once told me that if Sorkin were her patient, she'd feel torn between her responsibility as a doctor to tell him about the myriad medical risks of cocaine abuse and her impulse as a West Wing fan to tell him to stick with the blow.

The truth is, my writing is terrible when I'm not sober. The other night, after some enjoying a few beers with some fellow students at the Tam, I came home tipsy and decided to write a poem. The best thing about this poem is the title: "Wherein I contemplate the possibilty [
sic] that I have a drinking problem." The poem itself is completely incoherent, though I did devote an entire stanza to the glories of brunch cocktails. (I have yet to find a solid Bloody Mary in Beantown.)

I often come home from a night of drinking with the best intentions to write and be productive, but I inevitably end up sprawled on my bed watching, for the 1,000,000th time, that episode of Law and Order:SVU where Det. Stabler goes undercover as a pedophile ex-con.


Mmmm, yes.

I have only tried to write stoned once, in college. The poem was about spiders. Correction: "arachnids." I remember thinking that was an amazing word when I was writing the poem.

I keep thinking I might be able to tap into a secret reservoir of creativity if I could just compose sentences while not fully in control of my faculties. I certainly become an amazing dancer when I'm drunk. Check out my hot moves:


Fierce, no?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Democracy's downsides

Many thanks to Tim Cooper, for finding this and sending it to me:


This sign is in the front yard of a house in Barefoot Bay, FL. (Yes, that's actually the name of the town; only Backwards Swamp, FL would be more apt). The owner of the house and creator of the sign, Andy Lacasse, is apparently a registered Democrat, but hates Obama. Or at least thinks Obama wears impure fabrics.

Look, I totally think voting is an important civil right, but sometimes, when I hear about the Andy Lacasses of the world, I long for an oligarchy.

This, by the way, is Andy:

To read about the entire sign controversy, click here.

Also, I know I've been a little delinquent about posting regularly....a little birdy called Grad School has been pecking the shit out of me lately, but rest assured, I will get back to a better schedule.

Right after I finish making my handmade sign that will say
"McCain = Half-Wit Poly-Cotton Blend."

Friday, September 26, 2008

You can never be too rich or too thin


Atkins. Weight Watchers. South Beach. I have tried them all, with varying levels of success.

With Atkins, I simply didn't have the willpower. I would be tremendously excited at breakfast while enjoying eggs and bacon guilt-free, but I never could quite eliminate the carbs from lunch and dinner. So really, I was just adding fat and cholesterol to my diet, which unsurprisingly proved ineffective in terms of weight loss.


I did the Weight Watchers points thing and had more luck, though again, I don't know that it fostered any long-term health habits. For instance, on the weekends I would just eat celery in order to save all my points for wine.

The South Beach Diet I never actually tried because there seemed to be too much cooking involved. And I hate Florida.


My own weight loss has always been accidental, for instance when I got tonsillitis in London and couldn't swallow for a week. That was awesome. My sophomore year of college, a thyroid problem forced me to give up yeast and sugar and the pounds flew off. But you can't always count on a health crisis to lose a dress size.


Whenever I try to count calories and "be good," I always seem to either gain a pound or two or just stay where I am. I'm waiting for the genius to invent the all-carbs-all-the-time diet (that would be Nobel Prize-worthy) but until that day comes, I think it's worth mentioning a few foolproof factors that seem to correspond with slimming down.


1. Be stressed out


When you're stressed out, you don't have time to eat! There has not yet been a study to link stress to weight loss, but usually I'm stressed because I'm running around and have over- committed myself. So maybe the running around has something to do with it. Maybe.


2. Live in abject poverty

I achieved this by going to graduate school. If you don't have money, you can't load up your kitchen with empty-calorie foods! Microwave popcorn may be a somewhat unhealthy snack (it's high in sodium and has basically no nutritional value), but if that's all you eat for dinner, you're saving calories. Also, if you can't afford to buy gas or take public transportation, you'll end up walking more. Good for the environment, good for your ass.

*Note: poverty can backfire in terms of weight-loss if you are a fan of fast food. Watch Super Size Me and read Fast Food Nation to try to break the habit.


3. Have a lot of sex

It's a great calorie-burner. To learn how much you burn in various acts/positions, click here. Apparently, you burn twice as many calories unhooking a bra with one hand as you do with two, so being smooth apparently has health perks.


4. Develop a phobia of elevators

Did you know that approximately 21 people die from elevator-related accidents every year?

5. Travel to a country where it's allegedly not safe to drink the water, and then drink the water.

Ok, so this might put a damper on your vacation, but come swimsuit season, you'll be grateful. Montezuma's Revenge? More like your revenge on all those relatives who gave you the backhanded compliment of being a "good eater."

Obviously, I'm not a health expert and am not *seriously* endorsing the above methods. The refreshing observation that came from attending naked parties at Yale is that most people look pretty good (in clothes and out of them). Few are perfect, and likewise, few are without any redeeming features. So feel good about your body!


Sunday, September 21, 2008

The worst rock band ever

This is a band called "Complete," performing their song, "Hoogie Boogie Land." The message of the song is complex, with some political overtones ("In Hoogie Boogie Land, there is no war") but it's the bold lack of melody that really makes this song unique.




Thanks to Noah, for introducing me to this band.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Muckraking


There is an important piece of investigative journalism in this week's issue of Time Out New York. Hot-button issues like the upcoming election and the Lehman Brothers collapse may be stealing the headlines, but I felt it was my duty to draw attention to something that affects all women, regardless of age, race, moose-hunting abilities or creed. I am speaking, of course, about haircuts.

Click here to read my gritty exposé on the NYC subculture...of salon promotions. I like to think of myself as a modern-day Upton Sinclair, with breasts. Sarah Palin may talk about reform, but would she sacrifice her up-do to get to the truth? I think not.

I somehow got the Grey Lady's attention

That's right: The New York Times is reading this blog. I have no idea how they found it. I was operating under the assumption that beyond a handful of friends and family, any other traffic to this site was accidental. I pictured young actresses trying to find that Eve Ensler monologue about what vaginas would wear if they got dressed and accidentally ending up here.

Gentle reader, do I now feel compelled to write about things of more substance and stop posting about Japanese toys and my failures in yoga?

Nah.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"This Perpetual Fight" at the Grolier Club


New York readers and friends,

There is an extraordinary exhibition opening at the Grolier Club tomorrow: This Perpetual Fight: Love and Loss in Virginia Woolf's Intimate Circle. It was curated by a close friend of mine and if you are a fan of Bloomsbury or Woolf, it is a must-see collection of first editions, letters, photographs and other ephemera. To whet your appetite, below is a lovely little poem written by Clive Bell (who married Virginia's sister, Vanessa), which he presented to Virginia in December 1909 with the gift of a book. Whenever I give or receive a book, I think of this poem.

Books are the quiet monitor of mind,
They prompt its motions, shape its ways, they find
A road through mazes to the higher ground,
Whence to explore the sky-bound marches.
Round
about us lie the open downs. Our days
Still ask a guide and goad. Wherefore always
We meditate wise thoughts and passionate lays;
Wherefore I send a book.

Books are the mind's last symbol. They express
Its visions and its subtleties—a dress
Material for the immaterial things
That soar to immortality on wings
Of words, and live, by magic of the pen,
Where dead minds live, upon the lips of men
And deep in hearts that stir. Wherefore do I,
Drawing a little near, prophetically,
Send you a book.

Books are the heart's memorial. They shall measure,
In after days, our undiscovered treasure,—
Thrilling self-knowledge, half-divined untold
Yearnings, and tongueless agonies, shall unfold
Or half unfold to half-illumined eyes.
The cypress shadows creeping gnomonwise
Still stretch their purple fingers down the hill
That hangs above Fiesole; and still
Your English fireside glows. Do you most dear
—Sometimes just guessed at, sometimes very near—
Yet always dear and fairest friend, do you
Recall the sunlight and the firelight too?
Recall the pregnant hours, the gay delights,
The pain, the tears maybe, the ravished heights,
The golden moments my cold lines commend,
The days, in memory of which I send
A book?