Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Start where you begin

One of the best parts of moving to a new city is that you can reinvent yourself. You can make a decision to be a certain kind of person and your new friends won't know you've changed. For instance, I have recently decided to become a woman who does yoga regularly. This transition would be much more difficult if I were still in Brooklyn, where all my friends know how graceless and lazy I am.

I now am a member at
All One Yoga studio in Boston. I even bought a mat. I am a woman who owns her own yoga mat.

Here's my issue with yoga, though -- the stuff the instructors say to you during class. They say things that would only make sense if you were high. Which I don't think you are supposed to be while doing yoga. Today my instructor Mary said encouragingly to the class: "Start where you begin." Say wha? Should I also end where I finish?

Sometimes I feel a little like Morales in a Chorus Line describing acting class. I tried super hard today in my Hot Hatha class to "find the center of my center" but I'm just not convinced I actually did.

Some of the poses also need to be renamed. Here are my suggestions:

Child's Pose = Hangover Pose

Downward Dog = Backdoor Pose

You've Got to Be Fucking Kidding Me Pose

The other people in class can be problematic too. Today I was stationed behind two girls that I will call Hotshot Bitches.

Wait, shit, yoga is all about peace and positive energy and relaxation. I take it back. They are not Hotshot Bitches who show off how flexible they are and go into the poses before the instructor even names them. They are not like that at all.

There's also usually a token male in the class and today was no exception. Token Male was also the loudest breather in the room. He sounded like he was trying to extinguish the Olympic torch with each exhale.

There was, however, one person in class that I felt very positively about: Girl Who Was Even More Hopeless Than Me. Bless her heart, she kept falling over in simple poses like Warrior 1. Tree pose? Fuggetaboudit.

But the most embarrassing part of today's class came toward the end, when we were finished with standing poses and were on the floor. At one point, Mary told us to lie on our stomachs and place our hands under our bodies near the pelvis.

Think about that for a second.

Now, as I mentioned on this blog, I already have anxiety dreams about accidentally masturbating in public. So this pose was really weirding me out. Then I was supposed to lift my legs or something and press my hands somewhere (the floor? my crotch?) but I was so worried about it looking like I was having an intimate moment that I totally failed. And due to my angle on the floor, I couldn't even sneak a peek to see what the Hotshot Bitches were doing.

Maybe tomorrow's Vinyasa class will be better. For now, I'm going to find the center of my center the way I usually do it:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

English major shame

I just got back from a weekend on Cape Cod and my brain is still on the beach. I have a temporary tattoo of an octopus on my arm and a lot of sand in my purse. However, since I start classes at Emerson soon, it's imperative that I get back into an academic mindset. I need to arrive at my first poetry workshop in top form, like the
Usain Bolt of my incoming class. (Note that I did not make the obvious U.S. Olympian reference. He's got 8 gold medals, he doesn't need a shout-out on my blog.)

I want to start grad school off right, with a veritable tabula rasa. So it's time to come clean about some classics that, despite my degree in English from Yale, I somehow avoided reading in my undergraduate years. Some of these tomes I was assigned to read and didn't; others just slipped through the curriculum cracks. I gotta come clean, so this guy doesn't come after me:

1. Ulysses
Shame rating: 10+

Yes, it's true: I never read Ulysses. Which, for an English major, is like admitting that you never learned to read. In two separate courses at Yale, Ulysses was on the reading list, and both times I got about 100 pages in and gave up. However, it turns out that some great minds have struggled with Joyce's modernist masterpiece: Virginia Woolf described it as "an illiterate, underbred book." I couldn't have put it better, Virginia. Still, Ulysses is my white whale. And speaking of white whales....

2. Moby Dick
Shame rating: 6

This I actually do plan to read. Mainly because Christian Slater wanted to use a marked-up copy of it as Shannen Doherty's phony suicide note in "Heathers." A lot of kids read this in high school, though, so if anyone asks, I'll have to say I'm rereading it.

3. The Scarlet Letter
Shame rating: 6

Again, a high school standard that I missed. What the hell were we reading back at Mary Institute St. Louis Country Day School in St. Louis, MO instead? I can't recall. Go Rams!

4. The Brothers Karamazov
Shame rating: 4

I don't feel too guilty about this one, seeing as I have read War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, and Anna Karenina. My Russian lit karma is in good shape.

5. Animal Farm
Shame rating: 8

I know, right? Seriously embarrassing. People are always referencing this book and I have to scratch my earlobe pensively and try to change the subject. I don't like animals, anyway, with the exception of the fat calico one that shares my bed.

6. Harry Potter and the Secret of the Whatever, Books 1 through whatever number they are up to now
Shame rating: 0

I'm fucking proud of this. Anything this massively popular I have no choice but to dislike and regard suspiciously. English majors are supposed to be elitists, remember? I know, J.K. Rowling reinvented children's literature and now our nation's children like to read again, blah blah blah. I have also not read The Da Vinci Code. Or seen the movie. Sorry, Tom.

7. Anything by Charles Dickens
Shame rating: 3

I feel like I get Dickens without having to actually read him. He just seems a bit too quaint and precious for me. I do, however, enjoy describing things as "Dickensian."

8. Middlemarch
Shame rating: 5

For reasons beyond my comprehension, I often get this confused with Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which I also have not read. I have no clue what either book is about, but I think one is about the environment. Bo-ring!

9. Love in the Time of Cholera
Shame rating: 7

I really do plan to read this. Someday. It's been on my shelf for years. I love the title and Javier Bardem is in the movie. I think I could put up with cholera for Javier....

...but I digress.

10. Portrait of a Lady
Shame rating: 9

I am not going to lie, I have my issues with Henry James. His prose is just so dense and wordy and convoluted. I want to smack him upside the head after a few sentences. Just get to the fucking point already, Henry! But some of my best friends swear by this book, so I am going to give it old college (grad school?) try.

I think that about covers it. I feel better now.

Just for fun, I'll end here with something from the Onion that seems very apropos of my upcoming immersion in Emerson's M.F.A. creative writing program. Enjoy!

Creative Writing Teacher Announces Plan To Sit On Edge Of Desk

DAVIS, CA—Dressed in a pair of casual jeans to offset his tie, University of California-Davis creative writing professor Glenn Kohn, 30, announced plans today to begin Monday's class by sitting on the edge of his desk, rolling up the sleeves of his shirt, adjusting his tortoiseshell glasses, clapping once, and saying, "All right, young minds." The unorthodox move is slated to occur sometime after he tosses an empty Starbucks cup over his head into a nearby wastebasket, proving to students that his introductory short story workshop is unlike any class they've ever taken. "For finals week, I may consider purchasing a baseball and tossing it up and down while they read aloud," Kohn said. Students of Kohn's are expected to respond to his free-spirited, nonconformist teaching style by blowing off his weekly one-page writing exercises.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ads Gone Bad

My father spent much of his career in advertising, and as a result, I tend to scrutinize ads and commercials more critically than the average consumer. Here are a few that have recently caught my eye:

This is part of a subway ad for some legal/political thriller by David Baldacci, i.e. the poor man's John Grisham. Baldacci is your classic airport author, which is why I question the pull-quote selected for this ad, taken from a Booklist review of one of his recent books:

"When Baldacci is on fire, nobody can touch him."

I can't help but read that statement literally and think of this:

I'm not saying this is what Booklist was implying, but it amuses me nonetheless. And makes me think, "well, yeah, when I'm on fire, no one can touch me either." Big deal, Baldacci.

Next offender: CVS

This woman looks like she just saw Jesus and he bought her a new car. Personally, when I'm at CVS, I'm usually annoyed. Because something ran out (toilet paper, anti-depressants) and now I have to spend money to replace it. I also always think about the good old days when I was a kid and had parents to buy me shit like toothpaste and replace burned-out lightbulbs. The stuff I buy at CVS is stuff I need, not stuff I want or like to spend money on.

Now, this whole ad campaign bothered me from the get-go:

I get that Pom Wonderful is trying to market itself as a life-saving elixir, but making the product look like blood really grosses me out. Unless they are trying to corner the vampire demographic, I think they're off-base here. Pondering my mortality in the juice aisle of Stop 'n Shop is not a wonderful thing.

I discovered this one online:

No, these women are not striking whimsical poses in celebration of the Republican administration's failure to appeal Roe v. Wade. They are rejoicing about a woman's right to wear casual knits and sportswear. Monumental. Margaret Sanger would be so pleased to see how far we've come.

Finally, I saw this on my friend Ari's blog, and had to include it because it's just too funny. Check out this unfortunate ad placement:

Somebody might have lost their job over that one. Heh.

Friday, August 15, 2008

P'scuse me?

I was all prepared today to blog about something else entirely, but after finally getting a chance to catch up on my Olympics viewing, I have to just say:

<----- That girl is NOT 16.

Now, hear me out. I understand what it's like to look younger than you actually are. People regularly mistake me for being a high school student when in truth, I'm pushing 30. Well, not pushing maybe, but getting pretty close.

The Chinese government has provided documents that allegedly prove that all their gymnasts are 16, the legal age to compete in the Olympics. Which makes me wonder if the people vetting these documents are bouncers from the same NYC bars who accepted my terrible fake ID in the summer of 2001, when I was 20.

I'll never forget nervously handing my Colorado non-driver ID to a man blocking the entrance to Bohemian Hall, the storied beer garden in Astoria, only to hear him chuckle and say, "I coulda made this in my basement." He then took my friend Kim's ID, studied it, and asked her, "Are you 21 or 22?" Kim blanked, and couldn't remember the birthdate on her fake ID and just grinned and said, "...yes."
Yet the bouncer still let us in, offering only these words of advice: "Don't drink too much."

I'm not saying China didn't deserve to win the gold, but come on, they should at least be expected to play by the rules. I may not be qualified to judge the validity of Deng Linlin's passport, but I'm also NOT A BLIND PERSON.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Ever since I've been of legal drinking age, I have toyed with the idea of becoming a bartender. The money's good and it seems like it would be a blast, assuming you can get a job in a bar with decent, friendly customers. Besides, I like to drink and I like to encourage others to do so. So when asked about my plans to make/save money while in grad school, I have been telling everyone that I'm hoping to land a bartending gig in Boston.

Step #1 of this plan: Go to bartending school so that I can actually learn how to make Alabama Slammers and Woo Woo shooters.

Tonight will be my third class at New England Bartending School (NEBS), a company that, despite its name, has training programs in all 50 states. So far, the best part about school has been the awesome accents of my instructors and fellow classmates. Oh, and the really dated training videos that accompany the course. The one we watched on the first night had a voice-over that announced that "the food and beverage industry has been expanding rapidly in the past decade, and studies indicate that it will continue to grow at this pace at least until the year 2005."

The video also attributed the rising popularity of bartending to the success of the "recent Tom Cruise movie, 'Cocktail.'" I was in 2nd grade when Cocktail came out, friends.

Then there was the 10-minute instructional video on garnishes, or rather, "gahnishes." This one had a soundtrack of Thai house music and the script sounded like it had been written in a language other than English, and then poorly translated. Phrases like "Here is to be your lemon twist" and "Yellow is your lemon skin" flashed across the screen during a close-up shot of a man peeling a lemon on a cutting board. Lemon twists, FYI, are considered to be the "hahdest gahnish." Then, an important bit of information, delivered with requisite solemnity:

"The pineapple is a very important gahnish."

The first step in cutting a pineapple open is to "disregahd the leafy stem."

Guys, garnishes are like super-important. This strikes me as odd -- I never notice them, personally. But apparently, garnishes are what distinguishes the men from the boys in the bartending world. Garnish right, or get packing.

My instructor Mark has a mantra: "work smaht, not hahd." Yesterday, we made mahgahritas; today, it's mahtinis. Learning the fancy names is going to be tough -- seriously, did you know a rum and coke is technically a Cuba Libra? I shit you not. Next time you go into a bar, try ordering that and see what happens. I bet $10 the bartender thinks you're talking about a bad Jack Black film about Mexican wrestling.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Live! From the Bolt Bus to Boston!

Due to the wonders of technology, I am blogging LIVE on the Bolt Bus from NYC to Boston. I can give you all the exciting news and play-by-play action. Things are pretty quiet right now; most folks are sleeping. We're somewhere in Connecticut. It's raining.

Something that's nice though is that I am not sitting next to anyone, despite the fact that the bus is almost full. How did I pull that off? Not quite sure, though I did try to look hostile when people were shuffling on and selecting seats. I have come up with some other sure-fire ways to ensure a comfortable two-seat allocation. You too can take up more space than you need! Anything on the below list should do the trick, if your timing is on (i.e. during boarding).

1. Speak loudly on your cell phone in a phony foreign language.

2. Flip through a hardcore porn mag, preferably one with something extra-kinky on the cover, like Milk Nymphos.

3. Stop bathing three days prior to bus trip.

4. Clip toenails/tweeze chin hairs.

5. Wear any of the following:

a. fake moustache (even better, draw one on with a Sharpie, badly)
b. plastic Dracula fangs

c. eyepatch
d. huge fake clock around your neck like Flavor Flav

6. Bring your pet goldfish on board.

7. Eat a raw onion like it's an apple.

8. Suck thumb.

9. Make this face:

10. Open your laptop so everyone can see your desktop picture of the Twin Towers burning.

11. Sing along with iPod to Bette Midler's "The Rose" and cry uncontrollably.

12. Take pictures of yourself in the bathroom with your new iPhone:

Man, I wish that guy was on my bus. He has mastered the come-hither look, in the bathroom of a moving bus. Impressive.

That's all for now...though tonight I have my first class at the New England Bartending School so that should be exciting to write about in the days to come!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sailor Man

It was bound to happen at one point or another, that I would use my blog for some shameless self-promotion. As Steven Guttenberg exuberantly shouts during the opening credits of the Village People faux bio-pic
Can't Stop the Music, "my time is now!"

Friends, the NYC Fringe Festival is upon us. And I know,
I know, most Fringe shows have about as much merit as Fred Thompson's bid for President. But there is one show that I can guarantee is worth checking out: Sailor Man. I did some PR and marketing for this show, and it's going to be truly excellent. Imagine live-action Popeye cartoons, done Tarrantino-style. Lots of blood and broken glass. And it's only 45 minutes long.

Check out these photos:

Don't fall into the trap of the gimmicky title-- I promise you that "Late-Term Abortion: The Musical!" is not nearly as sidesplitting as the press materials claim. *

Sailor Man is playing at the Lafayette Street Theater (45 Bleecker St) and opening night is Saturday, August 8th at 5:30 pm. The show runs until August 22. Get tickets now and BYO spinach. Toot toot!

*not an actual Fringe show

Monday, August 4, 2008


After a truly exhausting and harrowing 2 days moving (I drove a 14' ft. U-Haul!), I am now semi-settled in my new digs in Allston, MA. So far, Allston reminds me of the East Village: lots of young people, bars, cheap Indian food, and sometimes you see a pair of underwear on the street. Favorite neighborhood business thus far:
Horror Business. You know, for all your horror business needs.

According to the website:
Horror Business is a store for people who are hardcore about their music, their gear, and their scene. We are independent and answer to no one -- this allowes [sic] us to keep the store stocked with an ever rotating of clothes and music that you won't find in the nearest mall.

Words can't fully express how excited I am to shop there.

That's all for now...back to unpacking!

P.S. Due to the fact that I won't have cable and wireless installed until next week (damn you, Comcast!), I won't be able to post as regularly as usual and my posts will probs be kind of short. Deal.