Archive for December, 2004

happy new year

Friday, December 31st, 2004

Oh, how good it is to see this one go.

It’s been an odd hiatus since my last post – some nice holiday times followed by a burst of death. The cat caught a mouse which made horrible squeaking noises that made me cry, not that I blame the cat, but still. J’s uncle died. And then, my god, the tsunami. I can’t begin to wrap my head around it. I’ve sent money, but it feels all wrong, pointless, futile…

It makes it hard to celebrate my gorgeous fuzzy boots, and my perfect new invisible desk, and the new MOMA, and all the lovely things I’ve done and been given. Which makes me mad, too.

Yes, I’m really glad to be kissing 2004 goodbye. Not that there haven’t been wonderful parts, but god, the bad parts have just been overwhelming. And even though lately I’ve tried to just hide from them – as J put it the other day, “CNN – is that still on the air?” – they creep in…

So here’s my toast: To 2005. May the conventions of product naming hold, and let this be one better than 2004.

I dream of peace, and hope for hope.


Sunday, December 19th, 2004

J is home at last, so we’re going to get the Christmas tree today. And you know what that means – you have only a few hours left to place your bets on how long it will take the cat to pull it down. Some factors to consider: We do have a really good tree stand. It’s extremely heavy, and it’s round, so it’s not one of those wobbly metal-legged ones scoffed at by kitties the world over. On the other hand, this is a cat who is gnawing his way through a metal chair, and who climbs up to a gas meter 10 feet off the ground for fun. And in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll mention that I’m pretty sure I heard the neighbor cat calling him “Destructo, Lord of Devastation” in an awed voice the other day.

So, you know, you can make your own decision. I’m just telling you, my personal wager is that the tree is toast.

Anyway, it will be an adventure. So crank up the Gene Autry records and let the fun begin! Who needs reindeer games?


Friday, December 17th, 2004

I haven’t posted in a few days because, well, I don’t feel like it. I’m not inspired. I suppose I’m feeling a little stressed as the holidays loom, and there hasn’t been anything really fun to celebrate here, and I’m just tired of everything.

Kerik? I’m not a bit surprised. I remember what a showboating do-nothing sleazeball he was when he was here in New York. And the fact that “the President likes him” equals a crappy background check just doesn’t stun me either. Though fabricating an illegal nanny to cover up the real dirt is a nice touch.

Social Security? If this passes, I’m going to vomit. If the American people sit still and let those assholes gut a triumph of American policy, just because it will have some easily-addressable problems in 40 years, turning it into the kind of debacle that took down Argentina’s entire economy and drove millions of elderly Brits into poverty, well, I’m going to barf. Of course, since this administration has made a point of inducing political bulimia, I won’t be shocked if that happens, too.

This is how they do it, I think. They bombard you with so many outrages that you just go numb.

I hope it snows on Sunday. I need a little fluffy white cheer.

put your pencils down

Tuesday, December 14th, 2004

Sorry, people, but you may as well just stop trying. The ultimate creation has already been, well, created. Yes, it’s a tube amplifier for your iPod. Yes, it’s $4,250.

Extravagant over-the-topness? Check.

Perverse old tech/new tech coupling? Check.

Irrational marshalling of audiophile output for middling, compressed audio? Check.

It’s absurd. It’s gorgeous. It’s going to haunt my dreams.

All further efforts are futile.

ponies are nice

Tuesday, December 14th, 2004

I’ve never understood people who go running. First of all, it hurts. Second of all, it’s So. Damn. Boring. When I used to do Pilates, what I liked about it was that the movements are complex and nuanced enough that you really have to concentrate on getting them right – and you only do a few of each one – so there’s no room for boredom, and you can’t think about anything but what you’re doing. It’s just a great way to get out of your head. Whereas if I go running, I get to think about 2 things: how much I hate running, and whatever is stressing me out at the moment. Which leaves me feeling crappier than when I started. Your average trip to the gym is just as dully unpleasant, and yoga? Good grief. It’s the worst of all. “Get into this ridiculous position and just sit there, for-fucking-ever” is not a recipe for serenity in my cuisine.

Unfortunately, Pilates both costs a fortune and requires a degree of scheduling predictability that I can’t really deal with at the moment, so I haven’t done it in ages. But I’ve missed that zen time. And lately, thanks to J, I’ve had a little taste of it again. Because for the past few weeks, I’ve been going riding.

Riding, especially if you’re taking a lesson, demands your full attention. You have to be aware of what the horse is doing and thinking, and you also have to be aware of everything that’s going on around you, so you can anticipate what might make the horse react. And when you’re taking a lesson, the whole point is to focus on all the little nuances – of your position, of the horse’s movement, of whatever task you’re trying to achieve.

There are lots of other things I love about riding – I used to do it as a kid, so there’s a nostalgia factor, and I just like playing with animals, so that’s another thing, and it can be a great way to get outside and look around. But I think those things are secondary. I think the main thing is, and maybe it’s paradoxical, but for me there’s nothing like total, focused concentration to give my brain a rest.

So thank you, ponies. And thank you, J. Sore butt notwithstanding, you’ve made me feel much better.


Monday, December 13th, 2004

You still don’t understand why I love home shopping? This should answer your questions once and for all.

This weekend, they were selling a telescope. It was $60. Now, I’m no astronomer, but even I know that that’s a pretty cheap telescope. But they were, as ever, very excited about it. And the host started talking about all the things you can see with it, and the guy from the telescope company offered to show some examples. The exchange went something like this:

Host: You’ll love it, the kids will love it. You can see the stars, and the moon, and what else? It’s a very powerful telescope…

Telescope guy: You can see Mars, and Venus, and definitely the rings of Saturn. Here, let me show you.

[He reaches behind him and grabs a gorgeous glossy mounted photo – probably 18×24 – of Mars.]

Telescope guy: I mean, this is color-corrected, but –

Host: Wow, look at that! It’s amazing! And that’s what you’ll see, folks. That’s Mars. And that was taken with this telescope –

Telescope guy: Well, actually this was taken with the Hubble Space Telescope –

Host (a little flustered): Oh, the Hubble –

Telescope guy: Like I said, it’s also been color corrected…

Seriously, why aren’t you watching this?

today’s special value

Tuesday, December 7th, 2004

Well, Paul Krugman couldn’t make it through his self-imposed politics moratorium either, so I don’t feel as bad. The lying gets to him, too.

I’m feeling… restless. The holidays are nice, but they’re not enough to overcome a generalized malaise. I’m incredibly short-tempered about work, resenting every second of it as an inexcusable waste of time. Yet I’m happy to spend an hour watching – I’m not kidding – home shopping. Somehow the bizarre blankness of it, the relentless optimism about the ways the new Toss-N-Chop diced salad maker will save the world, the hermetically sealed, time-defying 24-hour lost-in-space freakiness of it, is soothing. It may be the most perfect escape ever – I mean, catharsis is more than I can take now, but a place where size XXXL stretch pants in peacock blue can change the life of a tearful caller with fibromyalgia, and can be mine for just $22.71 (or 2 easy payments of $11.36, today only!), as long as I act now before the last 2000 are sold… And if I miss out on this one, well, the next item is just as incredible… It’s an oasis of hope, and cheer, and a weird kind of community, where the callers really mean it when they say how much they love their favorite host.

I don’t know why the prices are always such weird amounts. I don’t know why someone named a digital camera brand “Aiptek,” like it’s for illiterate monkeys. I don’t know why Dennis Basso, who sells $100,000 sable coats on Madison Avenue, is there hawking the crappiest-looking fake shearling ever. But I am desperately grateful for this fat man in a nice suit with a crazy cuckoo Harvey Fierstein voice, and for the ads they run between segments where you can buy the exact brand of pantyhose worn by the hosts themselves, and for the nutty inventors who come here with their flat midwestern accents and their plastic crap, dreaming of making a fortune.

It’s sneakily absorbing, and I catch myself wondering why all stock pots don’t have strainers built into the lid – even ones that cost hundreds of dollars more! Progress is on the march on home shopping, and if only you could see outside, you’d find a brighter day is just around the corner. Of course, if I ever actually bought something, the spell would be broken. It would get here and just be whatever dumb thing it is, instead of an ineffable beacon of hope for a better world, at a low, low price. (Though the callers, if you heard them, would argue that.) Still, I can’t stop watching.

And I think maybe the biggest reason is just this: Nothing bad ever happens on home shopping.

Which in this world, is saying a lot.

o, bountiful

Friday, December 3rd, 2004

Just when it’s feeling like one of those days when I’m not capable of, well, anything, the ever-provident internets bestow upon me this perfect diverson.

Thank you, internets.


Thursday, December 2nd, 2004

First there was yesterday’s little transgression, now this. But I can’t help it.

Some things, I can’t let go.

So I’ve failed in my effort at a politics hiatus. But, damn. I realize they’re not into reality-based, er, reality, but some of us have to live in that pesky plane, and – wow. Happy Freaking Holidays.

I’m going to need a lot of eggnog to get past this one.


Wednesday, December 1st, 2004

“…the larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, the first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide…the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre… The presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people… On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a moron.”

–H.L. Mencken, writing in The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920

(With thanks to William Gibson, for finding it.)

Apparently, the best explanation for W. was written 84 years ago. Then again, maybe it was earlier