Thursday, April 30, 2009

I broke the gym.

Yesterday, at approximately 2:45 p.m., there was a massive power outage at the Emerson gym. A massive power outage that I may or may not have caused.

Before I explain exactly what happened, let me just say that haplessness seems to be one of my core personality traits. I fall down sometimes for no reason. I once cut myself with a spoon and no, it was not a serrated grapefruit spoon. I have locked myself out of more cars and apartments than I can count. Once I have managed to lock myself out with the added bonus of having left my cell phone and wallet locked inside my apartment as well. That was an adventurous day. I guess I'm just accident-prone. So what happened to me at the gym is par for the course. Quite simply, it couldn't have happened to anyone else.

I worked out and then took a shower. Then I got dressed and decided it would be nice to blow-dry my hair with one of the hairdryers provided (and anchored to the wall). All I did was plug the thing in and all of the sudden, the lights went out in the locker room. Ooops, I thought. Hope no one was showering. Then I discovered that the lights were not just out in the women's locker room, but in the entire gym. The machines had all stopped. I cringe to think about the poor souls who were running on the treadmill when I decided to dry my hair.

I waited a few minutes to see if the power would come back on, but no dice. They evacuated the gym and lots of people were grumbling. I was, too -- I mean, I had to go to class with wet hair!

There's a fun little game involving how to come up with your "Viking name." Basically, you combine the first syllable of your hometown with your favorite drink. Then you follow that with "the" and then your worst quality. My Viking name is Winesaint the Hapless. What's yours?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pick Your Top Five!

When Facebook's Scrabulous application vanished due to Hasbro's lawsuit, it created a vacuum. A vacuum of...productivity, since we could no longer waste time playing online Scrabble. But thankfully, that void has been filled by an even more pointless time-wasting enterprise: the Top 5 surveys. You can create Top 5 lists of all sorts: Top 5 Movies of All Time, Top 5 Beers, Top 5 Vacation Spots. Because obviously, how you and your friends compare on Top 5 surveys is a clear indication of compatibility.

Here are the Top 5 "Top 5" Surveys that you are unlikely to ever see (and my answers)

Top 5 Celebrities I Don't Look Like:
1) Mickey Rourke
2) Pamela Anderson
3) Shrek
4) Queen Latifah
5) Derek Jeter

Top 5 Cities Where I've Vomited:

1) St. Louis, MO
2) New Haven, CT
3) New York, NY
4) Dublin, Ireland
5) Lindau, Germany

Top 5 Books I've Lied About Reading:
1) Gravity's Rainbow
2) Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
3) Maus
4) Speak, Memory
5) The Da Vinci Code

Top 5 Winners of Top Chef:
1) Harold Dieterle
2) Ilan Hall
3) Hung Hunynh
4) Stephanie Izard
5) Hosea Rosenberg

Top 5 Places I Hope I Never Go:

1) Prison
2) Cancun during Spring Break
3) Fat camp
4) Jesus camp
5) Hell

Sunday, April 26, 2009

In defense of Allston

I'm just going to say it out loud on the interwebs: I like my neighborhood, Allston. Allston gets a bad rap for being too noisy and saturated with college students, but in my opinion, this is worth putting up with in exchange for what you get. And what do you get? An affordable area that's always bustling with activity, with a bevy of ethnic and inexpensive food options (does your neighborhood have two Korean restaurants?) and every convenience you could possibly want within walking distance. Liquor store with decent wine selection? Check. Diner where you can get breakfast all day? Check. Used clothing store? Check. 24-hour grocery store? Check. Coffee shop with comfy couches and free wifi? There are five of them.

You can also do all of the following, within a few blocks of my apartment building: get a tattoo, drink bubble tea, mail a package, get your laptop fixed, buy a mattress, get a $10 manicure, eat a hotdog at 1:00 a.m. and rent a truck.

But a picture tells a thousand words, so here is a little photo essay that I put together in honor of my humble neighborhood.

Typical apartment building (though not mine)

So yummy.

Really? 'Cause I can be pretty cheap...

Second Cup Cafe

Dress in the window at Pixie's

The Sunset Bar and Grill has 112 beers on tap

Whew! Thought I was going to have to look on eBay.

Cool window art at LAB

Lunch and martinis at White Horse Tavern

No idea what this is...a generator of some kind?

Blinged-out Uncle Sam in front of Mike's Cheap 'n Chic

As you can see, my 'hood has got a lot of character. I mean, even the trash cans are works of art:

Allston, I *heart* you. Keep on keepin' it real.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry's technically spring (though you'd never know it from the Boston weather) which means that summer isn't far off! At least, that's what I'm telling myself to get through the week of rain forecasted for the East Coast. April is indeed the cruelest month, but I'll one-up Eliot and say that April, quite frankly, is an asshole.

Today's poem is posted in anticipation of the summer months, during which I hope to spend many afternoons sunbathing and drinking sangria on a roof deck. Anyone got a roof deck I can borrow?

The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sad songs say so much

While my love life has been on the upswing lately (though you'd never know it from my Facebook status), many friends have recently checked into the Heartbreak Hotel. Fortunately, I am a connoisseur of depressing music. My "Love Stinks" mix CD is good enough to patent and sell (for a limited time only!) on T.V. at 3 a.m.

What constitutes the perfect break-up mix, you ask? In my opinion, it's important to strike a balance between 2 types of songs:

1. Very very sad, wrist-slitting, I'll-never-find-love-again songs

2. Angry/indifferent I-am-better-off-without-you, you-fucking-loser songs

And ideally, the last song should contain some message about hope and things happening for a reason, to send the listener off on a mildly upbeat, Zen note.

So here's my playlist of 36 songs that are guaranteed to make your next break-up suck a little less. Some are classics, some less familiar. I'm including links to all the tracks, which you can listen to for free, thanks to Songza.

1. Your Ex-Lover Is Dead (Stars)
2. She's Got You (Patsy Cline)
3. Destroy the Evidence (Casiotone for the Painfully Alone)

4. Rootless Tree (Damien Rice)

5. Sorry (Maria Mena)

6. Fuck the Pain Away (Peaches)

7. Comfortable (John Mayer)

8. Irreplaceable (Beyonce)

9. Where Did I Go Wrong (Martin Sexton)

10. Foundations (Kate Nash)

11. The Grass Is Blue (Dolly Parton)

12. Leave (Glen Hansard)

13. Reflections (Diana Ross and the Supremes)

14. Let Him Fly (Patty Griffin)

15. Too Tired (DeVotchKa)

16. I'll Be Seeing You (Billie Holiday)

17. Comeback (Josh Rouse)

18. Middle Cyclone (Neko Case)

19. Tears Dry on Their Own (Amy Winehouse)

20. Most of the Time (Bob Dylan)

21. This is Not A Love Song (Nouvelle Vague)

22. Past, Present, Future (The Shangri-Las)

23. Fuck and Run (Liz Phair)

24. Jolene (Ray LaMontagne)

25. Since U Been Gone (Kelly Clarkson)

26. Fistful of Love (Antony and the Johnsons)

27. Furniture (Final Fantasy)

28. Love Ridden (Fiona Apple)
29. When You Were Mine (Prince)
30. Smoke (Ben Folds Five)

31. How Come You Don't Call Me (Alicia Keys)

32. Lover, You Should Have Come Over (Jeff Buckley)

33. Untouchable Face (Ani DiFranco)

34. For No One (The Beatles)

35. Let It Die (Feist)

36. The Heart of the Matter (Don Henley)

If your heart has to get broken, at least make sure you have a decent soundtrack ready.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I just found out that my high school reunion is taking place on Saturday, May 2. And I can't swing a trip back to St. Louis that weekend for a number of reasons including money, work commitments, and general ambivalence about seeing my former classmates.

I went to my five-year reunion, mostly because they held it over Thanksgiving and I was in town anyway and had nothing better to do. Also, I felt reasonably confident that I looked better than I did back in 1999, when I had bangs and was 10 lbs. heavier.

From Facebook, I have ascertained that my status as unmarried and childless puts me in the minority. Which means reunion would probably make me feel both liberated (HA HA, I can still sleep around!) and depressed (Shit. I can still sleep around).

It might be helpful to provide some context about
where I went to high school and what I was like back then. Buckle your seatbelts, because we're blasting off to my WASPy suburban past!

Remember the prom?

I remember mine. All four of them. I was kind of a prom whore. Or maybe I was just into older guys -- prom is for juniors and seniors, but both my freshman and sophomore years, I was dating a junior (not the same one; see above whore reference).

I love how awkward my date and I look in the above photo. You can see the pain behind our eyes. And look at how we're holding hands. So awkward. Incidentally, this guy, Tim, is now a successful
stunt man in L.A. He looks better now too. At our five-year reunion, which he could not attend, I tried to convince people that he had invented Netflix and was a millionaire.

Anyway, high school. I didn't love it -- my school, MICDS, was very blue-blood old school conservative. There was a strict dress code: guys in coats and ties, girls in skirts, dresses, or "nice" pants (i.e. no jeans). We also couldn't wear open-backed shoes (like flip-flops or clogs) or anything with spaghetti straps. Skirts had to be no more than 3" above the knee.

I flew under the social radar for most of high school -- I think most people thought of me as That Theatre Girl. I wasn't hated or gossiped about; I was inconsequential. I didn't drink or smoke pot and I got good grades. I was terrible at sports. I dated theatre geeks, mainly. Not guys who looked like this:

Is it pathetic to admit I still remember all these guys' names (Dustin, Henry, Kevin) and doubt if they would be able to pick me out of a line-up?

But high school wasn't all bad. I had some good friends, some great teachers, and senior year, I wrote poetry for the first time (well, not counting the poem I wrote about the rainforest in 5th grade or the haiku I penned after the untimely death of my cat, Misty).

So maybe I am a little bit sad that I won't get to stroll down memory lane on May 2. But on the flip side, at least now I don't have go on a crash diet or agonize over what to wear.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Rock of Love Bus: Finale!

Friends and Poison fans! It's Easter Sunday, which was clearly a big day for Jesus. It's also a big day for Bret Michaels-- tonight we learn which of his two remaining "beauties" has won his heart and will be his (third) Rock of Love. Will he choose buck-toothed Mindy or Penthouse Pet "Taya" (her real name is Laurie)?

I'm live-blogging my observations on the final episode, which is a first, so I guess it's a big day for me too. Here we go!

8:50 pm: My pre-finale thoughts
I kind of hate both "Taya" and Mindy....but in my gut, I think he's going to pick Mindy. "Taya" is hotter, but so fake and vapid. Truthfully, I'm hoping for a crazy, unpredictable outcome, such as:

1) Bret chooses neither and dramatically says "I choose ME!" while the girls sob in disbelief.

2) Bret chooses Heather, like he should have two seasons ago. They get married on the Reunion Special, with Ashley and Farrah as bridesmaids. Big John officiates.

9:01 pm: Season recap
We see all the moments that made the past few months so sleazy and entertaining. Mindy's victory at MudBowl, "Taya" announcing to everyone that she's Pet of the Year. And some choice quotations that illustrate just how much brains matter to Bret:

"In a game of love, I always lose" -- Mindy
"When this is over, it's going to be he and I" -- "Taya"

(Wait, is Taya's sentence grammatically correct? It might be. I should know, but I'm too lazy to look it up. Regardless, I think it sounds awkward and would have said instead "when this is over, it's going to be the two of us." Or maybe just "This bitch is toast" to be concise.)

9:04 pm
: Breakfast in Florida
Bret looks especially lame this morning (his wig needs some maintenance) and is inexplicably wearing sunglasses inside. He tells the girls that they are hopping on a private jet to the Dominican Republic and that "bikinis are not optional. They are mandatory."

9:12 pm
: Arrival at the hotel in the DR
In preparation for their evening one-on-one date, Mindy jots down some notes about things she wants to be sure to talk about with Bret. I wish the camera would zoom in closer so we could see Mindy's thoughts on paper. I'm betting she's as eloquent on the page as she is in person.

9:22 pm
: Mindy's date
Mindy is totally tongue-tied at dinner and can't seem to find the right moment to whip her notes out of her purse. This is probably because it's actually NEVER appropriate to take out notes on what you want to say on a date. I'm starting to think my prediction of Mindy winning is wrong. This girl can't hold up her end of a conversation with Bret motherfucking Michaels.
Nevertheless, Bret seems determined to loosen her up and insists she take her glass of wine with her when they leave dinner. Usually restaurants don't like it when you steal glassware, Bret.

Bret and Mindy get a tango lesson and dance awkwardly. Then they sit on the beach and Mindy is finally drunk enough to think taking out her notes is a good idea. They make out a little bit and then retire back to Bret's room. The camera pans wide to show us that Bret is staying in one of two "Ambassador Suites" at the resort.

9:25 pm: Commercial break
Wow, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past looks really bad. Jennifer Garner needs a new agent.

9:32 pm
: Bret's date with "Taya"
It seems that Bret has planned an all-day date with "Taya," implying he wants to spend more time with her than Mindy. Not looking good for Team Bucktooth. Bret and "Taya" go ziplining through the jungle, which I have always wanted to do. I am momentarily envious of "Taya."

Bret interviews that he's really into "Taya," but is still concerned about her Penthouse connections. This is probably to set up the "Coming Up..." montage, which includes an obvious fake-out wherein "Taya" confesses to being full of shit and only on the show to promote her career. But even out of context, it's 100% clear she's being sarcastic. Give your viewers a little more credit, VH1!

9:40 pm: "Taya" is a lady (!)
Bret leads "Taya" back to his Ambassador Suite, presumably to get her to touch his backstage pass, as the theme song used to say (sidenote: anyone else prefer the old theme?). BUT, after some light cuddling, "Taya" decides to leave! She will not spend the night with Bret like the whorish Mindy. This strikes me as a smart strategic move. Bret has already slept with Mindy, but he can't get into "Taya" 's pants unless she wins. Clever!

9:43 pm: Day of elimination
Bret treats the girls to a day at the spa. There is extensive footage of Mindy getting her upper lip waxed. She rambles on about love being painful, love in this case meaning waxing. This is not the edit of a Rock of Love winner. Uh-oh.

"Taya," who as a Penthouse Pet presumably had fewer waxing needs, returns to the hotel room first. Inside, there are two representatives from some jewelry store with diamond rings! They tell "Taya" to pick out her favorite; same drill with Mindy when she comes home. Both girls are shocked, but pleased at this turn of events.

9:50 pm: Elimination
We see the girls donning long, shiny, backless low-cut gowns. They walk to the beach and wait for their Bandana'd Beau. Bret arrives, looking surprisingly casual. Last season, he wore a gold suit to the last elimination; tonight, he's wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Maybe my "I choose me" scenario isn't off-base after all!

Mindy and "Taya" both think they have this in the bag. "Taya" uses the adjective "brilliant" to describe Bret. Both girls actually look pretty hot. Bret claims this is "the last time" he's going to do least until the Season 4 contract negotiations are over.

9:53 pm: Commercial break.
I'm ashamed to admit that this is kind of a nailbiter....

9:57 pm: Rock of Love
Bret calls Mindy forward first. Though she interviews that she's excited when she's called, her crestfallen face gives away the fact that like most viewers, she's watched the previous two seasons of this show and knows that Bret calls the girl he's eliminating first. As expected, Bret tells Mindy her tour ends here. Mindy seems weirdly calm and in her exit voiceover, says that Bret is not who she thought he was and he's just an asshole in a rockstar costume or something.

While Bret is talking to Mindy, "Taya" does her best impression of someone who does not know she has just won a reality show competition. Finally, Mindy wanders off on the beach alone. Bret calls "Taya" forward and says he's in love with her and the ring is for her...but not right now. Once they are sure they are right for each other, he'll give her the ring. Blah blah blah they kiss. The end. I wonder if now that they're a couple, he'll call her by her actual name. "Laurie" doesn't quite have the same ring as "Taya."

Final thought: It was somewhat suspenseful, but "Taya" was such a twit from the get-go that I found it hard to care. If Ashley had made it to the finale, it would have been so amazing....frozen dinners would have been thrown and there most likely would have been a not insignificant amount of puke. Oh well.

Monday, April 6, 2009

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

I'm very excited about this week's selection, by Tony Hoagland. It's a very unusual poem, in free verse, that is both narrative and philosophical, disturbingly funny and somber/thought-provoking.

So without further ado....

Adam and Eve

I wanted to punch her right in the mouth and that's the truth.

After all, we had gotten from the station of the flickering glances
to the station of the hungry mouths,
from the shoreline of skirts and faded jeans
to the ocean of unencumbered skin,
from the perilous mountaintop of the apartment steps
to the sanctified valley of the bed--

the candle fluttering upon the dresser top, its little yellow blade
sending up its whiff of waxy smoke,
and I could smell her readiness
like a dank cloud above a field,
when at the crucial moment, the all-important moment,
the moment standing at attention,
she held her milk white hand agitatedly
over the entrance to her body and said No,

and my brain burst into flame.

If I couldn't sink myself in her like a dark spur
or dissolve into her like a clod thrown in a river,

can I go all the way in the saying, and say
I wanted to punch her right in the face?
Am I allowed to say that,
that I wanted to punch her right in her soft face?

Or is the saying just another instance of rapaciousness,
just another way of doing what I wanted then,
by saying it?

Is a man just an animal, and is a woman not an animal?
Is the name of the animal power?
Is it true that the man wishes to see the woman
hurt with her own pleasure

and the woman wishes to see the expression on the man's face
of someone falling from great height,
that the woman thrills with the power of her weakness
and the man is astonished by the weakness of his power?

Is the sexual chase a hunt where the animal inside
drags the human down
into a jungle made of vowels,
hormonal undergrowth of sweat and hair,

or is this an obsolete idea
lodged like a fossil
in the brain of the ape
who lives inside the man?

Can the fossile be surgically removed
or dissolved, or redesigned
so the man can be a human being, like a woman?

Does the woman see the man as a house
where she might live in safety,
and does the man see the woman as a door
through which he might escape
the hated prison of himself,
and when the door is locked,
does he hate the door instead?
Does he learn to hate all doors?

I've seen rain turn into snow then back to rain,
and I've seen making love turn into fucking
then back to making love,
and no one covered up their faces out of shame,
no one rose and walked into the lonely maw of night.

But where was there, in fact, to go?
Are some things better left unsaid?
Shall I tell you her name?
Can I say it again,
that I wanted to punch her right in the face?

Until we say the truth, there can be no tenderness.
As long as there is desire, we will not be safe.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Millionaire Matchmaker: A Cultural Low Point

I don't watch television that often lately, mainly because my TV got damaged in the truck when I moved from NYC to Boston and the picture is crappy. But this has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, since unsurprisingly watching the boob tube numbs the creative juices I need to write.

Occasionally, however, I give in to temptation and watch some out-of-focus Rock of Love (the girls actually look more appealing NOT in HD clarity). And then the other day, I accidentally stumbled upon Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo.

Watching this show made me feel icky inside for a number of reasons. And yet, like a 5-car pile-up on the freeway, I found it hard to turn away and subsequently ended up watching 3 episodes in a row. And then felt like I needed a scalding hot shower.

First of all, I find the matchmaker, Patti Stanger, to be fascinatingly devoid of charm. She's abrasive and rude and her opinions about courtship and male-female roles in relationships would make any self-respecting feminist's jaw drop. This woman needs to be bitch-slapped by Gloria Steinem stat. She's also weirdly insecure and especially catty when dealing with female clients, i.e. successful women who've made millions actually DOING something constructive with their lives.

The men on the show are, for the most part, grotesque. On a recent episode, the world was introduced to Jimmy D'Ambrosio, an egomaniacal club owner from Chicago who always refers to himself in the 3rd person as "Jimmy D." Alex Edelstein is a big fan of blingy cufflinks and Sammy Hagar-style hair:

Money is the only thing these guys have going for them. So it's stomach-churning to then watch scores of women at Patti's "mixers" throw themselves at them. Each episode follows the millionaires on dates, which usually go poorly due to the blatant superficiality of both parties. The men feel entitled to only date hot women and choose usually based on looks, and the women unapologetically are only there because of the guy's money (and feel entitled to only date rich men because they are beautiful).

It's all very depressing. You would think millionaires would want to find someone not interested in them just for their money, but the men who seek out Patti's services are so lacking in social skills and charisma that their millions are their only selling point. They literally have nothing beyond the promise of a comfortable lifestyle to offer. And the women have become so jaded that they've decided to settle for rich, boorish and unattractive.

Patti claims to have a "99% success rate," but I'd like to see how she tabulated that. She doesn't help people find love -- she helps shallow men and women find trophy wives and sugar daddies, respectively.

Personally? I'd take Bret Michaels over these dudes in a heartbeat, hair extensions and all. At least he seems to have a sense of humor about himself and a refreshing awareness of his show's absurdity.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I couldn't care less about....

In college, my friends and I used to play a game where we would take turns stating issues/events/people that we couldn't care less about. The more controversial (i.e. "global warming," "who killed JonBenet"), the better. Behold my current list of things that people around me seem to give a shit about, much to my disbelief.

1. March Madness

Is it over yet? I'm so tired of hearing about brackets and seeds and how [insert college] got robbed. For some reason, the NCAA championship irks me more any other major sports tournament. I like watching the Superbowl and I always sort of follow the World Series. I didn't go to a school where basketball was at all important, so maybe that's the issue? I don't know.

2. Who wins this season of American Idol

I usually watch AI, but this season I can't seem to muster up the energy. Recent winners have been lackluster (Jordin Sparks? Seriously?) and I just can't pretend anymore that these people deserve fame and record deals. Even Paula's insanity has lost its charm. I wish we could just fast-forward to May and So You Think You Can Dance!

3. How wasted you were last night

So, BU kids on the B line? SHUT THE FUCK UP.

4. Failing banks

Clearly I should care about this. But I just keep thinking about the awesome scene in It's a Wonderful Life when there's a run on the bank and everyone wants their money back from Bailey Building & Loan. Check it out:

Maybe if Citibank fails, Obama would make us all sandwiches or something. I don't keep much money in the bank, so I'm not too concerned. Now, if there was a possibility that the shoebox under my bed might fail, then I'd be worried.

(Note to would-be burglars: I do not actually keep money in a shoebox under my bed.)

5. The fictional Angelina Jolie/Jennifer Aniston feud

Obviously, there is no feud. But if there were....Team Aniston all the way!