Monday, December 28, 2009

Bank of Some States of America

Generally, I'm pretty happy with my bank,
Bank of America. They are fairly understanding when I occasionally overdraw my account and I can usually get them to remove those pesky $35 overdraft fees. Every time I call, they thank me for being an account holder since 1999. Basically, Bank of America and I go way back.

Living in Boston spoiled me, however, in terms of ease of banking access. Bank of America branches are EVERYWHERE. Paying ATM fees became a thing of the past when I moved to Boston last year, much to my delight. There is nothing that incenses me more than paying money to access my money.

But here in Colorado, I find myself in a quandary. Colorado has 161 Bank of America ATMs, but no banking centers. And none of the ATMs allow check deposit. And that is what I urgently need to do: deposit a check.

Why urgently? Well, those of you who know me know that I have a somewhat precarious financial existence. I have many jobs (4 to be exact) but cash flow is always a problem. Waiting tables is unpredictable (some people tip like bastards); my graduate assistantship pays me in full for an entire semester at the beginning of the semester (which is nice but hard to parse out over time); another job is freelance and sporadic; etc. So I'm constantly working and earning, but often checking my mailbox frantically for checks and living on cereal and pickles when times get tough.

The current situation is dire in that if I can't find a way to deposit the check I have in my possession, automatic payments that come out of my account at the end of the month will make me overdrawn. And I'll be accruing those $35 fees in no time. Which maybe I can get taken off, but maybe not.

I can't believe there are no Bank of America locations in Colorado. They have 161 ATMs, but they are all located in random gas stations and can't accept deposits. Useless. Apparently, Minnesota, Kentucky, Utah, Indiana, Ohio, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Montana, Nebraska, and South Dakota are similarly plighted. And you're really in trouble if you're thinking of traveling to North Dakota, Vermont, Mississippi, or West Virginia; they have no B of A anything, no ATMS or branches.

Which leads me to conclude that the name is kind of a misnomer. Bank of America? More like Bank of 35 States of America. Hmpf.

Also, semi-related: check out this video from 2006 wherein Bank of America, after another merger, rewrote the lyrics to U2's world peace anthem "One" to be cards. Shameless.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Happy!

Happy holidays, everybody! It's Christmas Eve, my mother's favorite day of the year (because Christmas is ALMOST here but not quite...Christmas Day she describes as "bittersweet." And the day after Christmas? Don't even go there.)

I'm in Colorado, with my Christmas-obsessed mom and stepdad. It's snowing and we are listening to festive music (my mom is particularly fond of the holiday albums put out by Josh Groban, Jane Monheit, and Diana Krall) while prepping the stuffing for tomorrow's traditional goose dinner. Yes, we always make a Dickensian feast on Christmas Eve: goose + stuffing + mashed potatoes + green beans + cranberry relish. My mom and I spend most of the day cooking and sipping wine, while our favorite movie,
Gone with the Wind, plays in the background. Yes, I know, GWTW is not technically a Christmas movie, but there is a Christmas scene, ok? (when Ashley comes home for Christmas and impregnates Melanie)

Christmas Day also has several key meals: cinnamon rolls and coffee before gift-opening, mimosas, bagels with cream cheese and lox afterward, prime rib (encrusted in salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic) for dinner. While the prime rib is in the oven, we watch It's a Wonderful Life. Every family has holiday rituals -- my family's just happen to center around food, wine, and movies. I'm not complaining, but if you see me in early January and I look a little more rotund than usual, you will know why.

If you celebrate Christmas, merry Christmas...otherwise, happy holidays and best wishes for 2010!

my mom's cat, Sparky, modeling his Christmas collar and enjoying his favorite game, Cat in a Box

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Problematic Depictions of African-Americans in a Beloved Holiday Film

The other night, I watched a classic Christmas movie:
Holiday Inn, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Though I've seen it a dozen times, this always catches me off-guard:

Yep, that's crooner Bing Crosby, in full-on blackface. He's singing an Irving Berlin song called "Abraham" about Abe Lincoln's birthday that contains lyrics such as "When black folks lived in slavery/ Who was it set the darkie free?/ Abraham, Abraham!"

PROBLEMATIC. And the only actual black people in the movie?

That's Louise Beavers, playing (isn't it obvious?) "Mamie" and her two kids. Mamie is the all-purpose housekeeper/cook at the Holiday Inn. Obviously.

Sigh. I love Holiday Inn -- it features the first ever performance of "White Christmas," one of my favorite Christmas songs. There are lots of great dance numbers, not one but TWO love triangles, and plenty of glamorous 1940s evening wear.

And yet....

It's just hard to get past this, you know? The blackface is a part of the plot -- Bing Crosby adds it to the number at the last minute so that Fred Astaire's character won't be able to recognize Marjorie Reynolds (pictured above), with whom he drunkenly danced on New Year's Eve and wants to steal away from Crosby's Holiday Inn gig.

But still....yeesh. Racism kind of kills my Christmas spirit.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Is anything better than the Muppets?

I know, I know, you've probably seen it already. It has like 10,000,000 hits on YouTube. Still, I couldn't help myself.

Also, can Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem please go tour? I would happily drop out of graduate school to be their roadie.

Monday, December 14, 2009

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

A lovely poem, sent to me by my good friend Benjy. No time for much analysis, since I'm knee-deep in final papers and assignments, but I hope you enjoy it!

My Mother's Funeral
by Ira Sadoff

The rabbi doesn't say she was sly and peevish,
fragile and voracious, disheveled, voiceless and useless,
at the end of her very long rope. He never sat beside her
like a statue while radio voices called to her from God.
He doesn't say how she mamboed with her broom,
staggered, swayed, and sighed afternoons,
till we came from school to feed her. She never frightened him,
or bent to kiss him, sponged him with a fever, never held his hand,
bone-white, bolted doors and shut the blinds. She never sent
roaches in a letter, he never saw her fall down stairs, dead sober.
He never watched her sweep and murmur, he never saw
spider webs she read as signs her life was over, long before
her frightened husband left, long before
they dropped her in a box, before her children turned
shyly from each other, since they never learned to pray.
If I must think of her, if I can spare her moment on the earth,
I'll say she was one of God's small sculptures,
polished to a glaze, one the wind blew off a shelf.

Friday, December 11, 2009

My Christmas List

Dear Santa,

Below please find a short list of things I'd like to receive this Christmas. I have been very good this year...well, excepting the fact that I stopped going to yoga two months ago. Staying in shape is expensive, Santa! Anyway, do your best. I realize some of these things may be more easy to acquire than others.

1. A Zeo Personal Sleep Coach

2. My student loans erased

3. Wine

4. Clive Owen

5. 18.5-inch waist, just like Scarlett O'Hara

6. A maid/personal assistant

7. These Alexander McQueen heels:
8. My ill-conceived bangs to be grown out

9. Sarah Palin's nonexistence

10. Dish towels (my August subletter stole mine for reasons unknown)


Monday, December 7, 2009

To the Rude Guy on the T

Dear Rude Guy on the T (RGOT),

I know you're really excited about your T-Mobile Sidekick's ability to function as an mp3 player. Bu there's this amazing invention that allows you to listen to your music in public without forcing those around you to listen as well. HEADPHONES. Seriously, invest in some. I'm not judging you or your music. I am, however, judging your lack of consideration for your fellow T-riders.

But you know what bothers me the most, RGOT? I think you're enjoying this. The way you smirk at the various people who glare at you, hoping you'll turn your music down, tells me that you like being the center of attention, even if it's negative attention. You're daring someone to say something to you, to challenge you. I came very close to taking one for the team and doing it. I doubt you would have done anything beyond call me a bitch. You might have even just ignored me.

You look about 18, RGOT, so I guess being a self-involved ass is to be expected. I thought I was untouchable hot shit too when I was 18. But being an arrogant prick stops being cute at some point, trust me. Nothing gives you the right to ruin everyone's Monday morning commute. Some people are trying to read, chat or listen to their own music on headphones. You are not entitled to impose your music on us just to so you can feel like a badass rebel.

Also, lose the diamond earring.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Harbingers of death

Friday night I saw an owl in the Boston Common. It dove into a trash can in an attempt to swoop up a rat that had just crawled in. When it failed to catch said rat, it perched on a nearby tree. And stared. Creepily.

Which led me to think about the whole birds-as-pets thing. If you ask me, it's a little weird. You can't really pet them and cuddling is definitely out of the question. They make loud, scary sounds. And many of them are vegetarians, which I just can't condone. You can't trust vegetarians.

A few months ago, a friend of mine told me over gchat that he had considered getting a pet owl. And he learned that owls apparently make hilariously bad pets. The conversation we had is posted below, for your entertainment and owl education. His name has been changed, mainly because I didn't have time to ask him if I could use it.

Justin: I tried to get a pet owl so illegal apparently
you have to have a "falconry" license
me: oh my god, I can't think of a worse pet idea for you
10:31 AM Justin: yeah, apparently there are so many things wrong with that idea
but I thought it'd be pretty badass
but among the list of things wrong with that idea -
they live for like 50 years
me: oh god
10:32 AM Justin: and they're exceptionally human imprinted when they get a "keeper"
like they'll just destroy shit every time you leave
and if you try to let them go, they'll just sit at your window hooting and clawing shit until they die unless you let them back in
but they don't like to be petted
they just want to know you care
AND they need whole live animals
or dead
10:33 AM but whole
every day
but they don't eat stomachs or internal organs
so you have to remove them
because if you don't, they hide them because they don't want to make a mess
and then you'd find it like a week later
10:34 AM oh, and also, they stay up all fucking night long hooting during mating season
which is 9 months out of the year!
so, let's just say, thank god they didn't let me have the owl
well actually, I didn't even find an owl, I was just scoping it out
10:35 AM can you imagine that though? how abstractly awesome would it be? "ok guys, I have to go home and slaughter a rabbit for my owl"
You need to either be a licensed "owl rehabilitation center", or have your falconry licenses even though they apparently make for terrible falconry birds, or have an educational facility that the owl is used for to teach classes
and even then, the Owl Society, or whatever reserves the right to recall your owl at any time for any reason
me: this is so fascinating
10:43 AM Justin: like, if you can't prove that your owl has been meeting it's minimum hours of lessons per month
or if they just decide that after 30 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of dead animals and ruined furniture and you're dying old and alone except for your owl that they want to put it in a zoo
10:44 AM I really want one again
or a giant sea turtle

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

This week's selection is by Peter Jay Shippy, an Emerson alum who now teaches writing at the college. Yay Emerson!


I unbelieve I was born and wore
A sailor's suit until I was seven.

There are no pictures of puppies licking

My face or albums of vacation snaps.

Yosemite? Niagara Falls? I unbelieve

There's someone somewhere who likes the same things

I do. Reading the dictionary?

The Buffalo Bills? See? I unbelieve a priest

Would fuck anyone, certainly not me.

The woman who pushes the baby carriage

Up and down the block all day all week

Screaming and singing lullabies is not

Doing so well, I unbelieve, no.

Someone should lift a finger and give her

A helping hand, because charity

I unbelieve, begins in the home.

Who said that? Who said that? I unbelieve if

I can't recall then it must have been me.

A stitch in time saves nine? I shall return?

That's all folks? I have wasted my life?

That was me--the man who is the measure

Of all things. My sister told me about

The birds and the bees and I unbelieved

Every word she said, because she was older

Wiser, stronger, meaner, an early bloomer--

A girl who the world would soon get to know.

I still can't unbelieve that she's dead. I do.
I unbelieve the earth is flat or that man
Walked on the moon or that I came down

From African apes or that Jesus

Walked on water that he turned into wine

Or that life begins when I imagine

Doing it with you. I unbelieve fairies

Live in the television set--really

Think about it? Isn't it just common sense?

The sun was warm? The cherry blossoms

Were in bloom? We paddled a wooden canoe

Down the canal? I thought the port was sweet?
I pretended not to see the worm

In the Cobb salad? The inn had a surprise
Vacancy? I felt dizzy? I awoke

With a sack over my head, tied to the bed

And I was bleeding and I unbelieve

I told the police I couldn't remember, yes
I couldn't be sure of a thing. Bambi?

Jules and Jim? The Sound of Music? Red Desert?

I unbelieve that was the first movie

I ever saw, although really, it was a film.

I unbelieve the President means

Exactly what he says--don't you? The night
My son was born I was driving my truck

Across the U.P. trying to finish

My deliveries and then make the delivery,

If you know what I mean and I was just

Twenty miles out of Sault Ste. Marie

When I saw the most beautiful shooting star
And it was awesome, too, like blue like

Propane gas and scary, too, I pulled
Over to the side of the road and I'm sure

My mouth was a black hole and I wish

I would have thought to take a picture

And I unbelieve that that was my son's soul

Soaring back to heaven, I do, because

That was the very moment he passed.

If you unbelieve me go and check

With the hospital. I want you to.

I unbelieve that sometimes life forces you
To grow up before your time. Who said that?

I unbelieve that Lois Lane didn't know
That Clark was Superman. Think about it?

She just didn't want to spoil the good times.

I unbelieve that most people are fine, yet

I wouldn't open my front door

For just anyone. I pretty much un-

Believe in the war and yet I absolutely
Unbelieve that I am un-American.

Didn't I serve my country? Didn't I die
For you and unbelieve that you'd die, too?
I unbelieve in reincarnation.

I unbelieve that everyone has a twin--

Someone somewhere who looks or acts just like

You and me I mean, we're unique, unless

We're clones. I unbelieve that on the day

That I was born my grandfather cried

And this was a man who never shed a tear.

Even when they took his voice, or so I hear.