Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Candy

This on the Muscat Gummy candy bag, just one type of the Japanese candy I bought for the kids tonight:

"Its translucent color so alluring and taste and aroma so gentle and mellow offer admiring feelings of a graceful lady."

More Evidence

...to support my theory that the French either don't really like to have any fun, or they are just plain dumb. "French press declares Halloween dead."
Halloween dead? Wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Halloween is my favorite holiday, and not out of sheer morbidity, rather because it is a holiday that dips into your imagination and craft. It is a celebration of things that are slippery, fantastical, and unseen. It is traditionally a celebration of the end of the harvest season, hence its association with death, as the fertile season comes to a close and Nature retracts her bounty. Think of Hades/Pluto stealing Persephone/Proserpine to the underworld, and Demeter/Ceres' grief and wrath, and so comes the death mask of winter. The relationship to death has its appeal, as it is one of the two most powerful events with which we have to contend. The unknown is scary, and so we jestingly face our deepest fears, and the darkest parts of human nature. It is a night of mischief, "called Pooky Night in some parts of Ireland, presumably named after the púca, a mischievous spirit." Plus, though this observation is well-worn, it is a night when nice girls are sanctioned to dress like trollopes. Beyond the obvious saucy joy in that is a genuine connection to a tradition of witchcraft and old pagan matriarchy, which venerated (from Venus) the ebullient sexuality and power of women, until the Catholic Church anathemized it. Halloween is most assuredly a holiday ripe with robust womanness, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

I've heard of a few instances of children trying to go as terribly dark characters, and being censored for political insensitivity. It is strange to me that supernatural monsters are acceptable, but real ones, like Hitler, are somehow taboo. Perhaps we have to keep a safe psychological distance from the forces we are meddling with here, and an historical monster that proves something about the darkness being real is too much to bear. Frankly, I think these kids have the whole deal worked out right. Halloween follows a primary function of the old Carnival traditions, which is to serve as a social purgative for negative energy. It delights in duality. It plays with darkness.

"All Souls' or All Hallows' Day (Nov. 1) was the Christian version of Samhain (end of summer), the Celtic feast of the dead, named for the Aryan Lord of Death, Samana, "the Leveller, " or the Grim Reaper, leader of ancestral ghosts. According to the pagan lunar calendar, festivals were celebrated on the "eve" rather than the day. Therefore Halloween or All Hallows' Eve was the original festival, later displaced to the following day. The Irish used to call the holy night the Vigil of Saman. Churchmen described it as a night of magic charms and divinations, reading the future with witches' mirrors and nutshell ashes, ducking for apples in tubs of water (representing soul-symbols in the Cauldron of Regeneration), and other objectionable rites. Even today it is said that a girl who peels and apple before a mirror on Halloween will see the image of her future husband in the glass. Christian authorities wrote of Halloween, "Many other superstitious ceremonies, the remains of Druidism, are observed on this holiday, which will never be eradicated while the name of Saman is permitted to remain." The name of the pagan deity remains in the Bible as Samuel, from the Semitic Sammael, the same underworld god.

Of course the original divinations were oracular utterances by the ancestral dead, who came up from their tombs on Halloween, sometimes bringing gifts to the children of their living descendants. In Sicilian Halloween tradition, "the dead relations have become good fairies of the little ones." Similar customs are observed at Christmas.

In Lithuania, the last European country to accept Christianity, the pagans celebrated their New Year feast as Halloween, sacrificing domestic animals to their god Zimienik (Samanik; Samana). Their prayer ran, "Accept our burnt sacrifice, O Zimmienik, and kindly partake thereof." If the lord of the underworld accepted the offering on behalf of all the dead, the spirits were satisfied and would refrain from doing harm. If not adequately propitiated, they might descend on the world as vengeful ghosts, led by demons and "witches" (priestesses) who summoned them. The witches and ghosts are still associated with Halloween, together with such soul-symbols as owls, bats, and cats.

The pagan idea used to be that crucial joints between the seasons opened cracks in the fabric of space-time, allowing contact between the ghostworld and the mortal one."1

Some Words for Witches:

Incanatrix, Lamia ("night monster"), Saga, Maga, Malefica, Sortilega, Strix ("screech-owl"), Venefica ("poisoner"), strega, Janara (a priestess of Jana or Juno), hags, fairies, bacularia ("stick-rider"), fascinatrix ("one with the evil eye"), herberia ("one who gathers herbs"), pixidria ("keeper of an ointment-box"), femina sage ("wise woman"), incantator ("worker of charms"), magus ("wise man"), sortitariae mulier ("seeress"), maliarda ("evil-doer"), ansipex, auguris, divinator, januatica, ligator, mascara, phitonissa, stregula, krstaca ("crossed ones," fr. Greek, Christos), wijsseggher ("wise-sayer," which became English, "wise-acre"), Sorcier, bear-walker, beldam (fr. "belle-dame"), charmer, crone, enchantress, hellcat, magician, minx, necromancer, occultist, she-devil, siren, sorceress, warlock, faith healer, isangoma, mundunugu, obeah doctor, shaman, voodoo, wangateur, bag, battle-ax, biddy, fishwife, fury, gorgon, harpy, harridan, Jezebel, Medusa, ogress, shrew, slattern, sorceress, termagant, virago, vixen.

1 The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Barbara G. Walker

Help a Sista Out

I wasn't kidding about the guest blogging. We need help.

Friday, October 27, 2006

And a Couple of Tra-La-las

My brother, with whom I have recently reconnected, but not seen since I was nineteen (before that when I was maybe seven), is coming to visit me next month. This is good news, to be sure.

He asked if he could come, and bring his Lab, Blue. I responded in an email that he was more than welcome, "and your little dog too."

Then he wrote me back:

"Your Wizard of Oz reference reminded me that we (Kathleen, Renate and I - my long absent sisters) used to think the line Glinda says at the end, "Toto too", was the funniest thing and would say it to each other for no reason at all.

Then one day when you were just learning how to speak you said it like, "Doo doo do" and it was the cutest thing EVAH, I'm telling you!"

It should be noted that one of my nicknames back then, and with no connection to the film that I'm aware of, was "Tutu."

It's really good to reconnect with family. This has been a chasm of a hole in my life for so long

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Happy Birthday!

The Charm School's a year old.
Too bad my writing has stalled like a faulty car.
Anyone care to guest blog?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Failing to Meet My Own Standards, As Per Usual

I try not to indulge my vanity much, really I do. But I confess I really like getting carded, which has been happening constantly, of late. Even today at Trader Joe's, when I bought beer for tomorrow's bbq. The cashier said, when looking at my Oregon ID (that's right, I'm still not legit here) -
"I was in Portland that year, the summer you were born." I replied, "So was I!" He said, "You never called me back." I said, "My fingers weren't real dextrous that first year."

Also, when the hot young Aussie lad (brother of my friend and current employer), who's been flirting with me all week at work (and who finally convinced me to go out with him), insists I don't look much older than he is, I smile. Because I am weak-minded and highly susceptible to flattery. Then he smacked me on the ass yesterday while we were on the kitchen floor hooking up the new dishwasher. Well, I confess I liked that too.

What a pushover. I think he wants a green card. I told him I would, in that case, marry him, but that there would be absolutely no touching.

He said that didn't sound like a very appealing kind of marriage to him.

I agreed.

I've also threatened to have him deported.

His sister and her husband were in a bit of an uproar after we had our dinner Wednesday night. She told me she gave him a "stern talking to," that I was "the nicest girl, and (he) better not be up to any devilish heartbreaking tricks." I asked her if that really applies when I'm significantly older than he. She said, "In Australia, it's always the guy's responsibility."

He told her to get used to it, because we would probably be going out again.

Before he arrived on Friday the Thirteenth (which my horoscope said would be a lucky day), from Down Under, she said, "What if you and Anthony fall in love?" I said, "he's too young for me..?" She said, "But this younger generation of guys, they seem to be going for older women quite a lot these days, and he always has older friends."

Anyway, there's a bit of confusion, a little worry, and a lot of humor that has hit the household following our "date," if you can even call it that. I don't blame them.

Still, Ant and I have talked it over, and we're going to play a little joke on them in a while. Maybe a few weeks.

When we announce that I am pregnant.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I Know You Know

that the dog is a pit bull, but few realize that the creature on the right, roundhouse-kicking the shit out, is Chuck Norris.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Moment When I was Less Than Holy

Eighteen. Freshman year and terrified out of my gourd most of the time, though I'd no idea that was what I was feeling. It's amazing to look back on it all now and see how constantly fear piggy-backed me round the campus and flew with me coast to coast each Christmas and summer break.

Anyway, Connor and I went into one of the dorm community lounges late one night after a Thursday Funk Night dance in the p.o. courtyard. Thursdays were routinely the best party nights in school, though they made Friday sections (those were the more intimate "discussion" groups at the end of each week, in lieu of lecture) a thin slice of hangover hell if you'd imbibed. most times, I was just real tired. So Connor takes me into the lounge (which wasn't like the time Freddy Cooper and I went into the lounge, but that's another story), and shows me the Coke machine, and how he's discovered that if you put the quarters in and hold the flap up inside the catch tray at the bottom, you can get more out than the one. So we worked about eight cokes out for, what, fifty cents? Then there was the malfunctioning coin return. Without breaking a thing, we took at least twenty bucks a piece in quarters. I had laundry money for the rest of the semester. And a dirty conscience.

But, it's funny how things like that don't really seem that totally wrong when you're doing them as a kid. I know eighteen is legal, but let's be honest, it's still a teen-age, and I was definitely still a child. There is some kind of sweet, delicious feeling you have while behaving so badly. We laughed so much that night, mostly over the possibility of being caught. It's not so much glee over what you're taking as it is the thrill of seeing what you can get away with, how far you can go. Until that age, I'd never stolen a thing in my life, unless you count that peach I pulled off the shelf and drooled on when I was two and sitting in the grocery cart. I'd even turned down a piece of bubble gum offered by a second grade school mate who'd shoplifted it from the corner store, and that with a grim sense of duty pressing in on me.

So maybe the elation I felt at eighteen in my first act of delinquency was that of a kid shrugging off some fear. I'm not calling it right, I'm just saying what maybe was.


These fellows were my neighbors until June, when they went on a US tour. I saw them at the Viper Room and House of Blues here in LA, bookends of their tour. Now they are back in LA for a little while. They are great guys and great musicians, to boot. From Aberdeen, Scotland, their debut album on Geffen Records comes out October 24th. Terry has one of the most amazing voices I've heard in the last decade. You have to hear him live to truly appreciate how incredibly beautiful and large a voice it is. They are one of those rare bands that sound better live than on recording. Mostly, I just like talking with them at the neighborhood bar, bbqs and other people's shows (remember how loud you got at Irina's show, Nick? That was the beer. And you're right, some people can't ride bicycles, but I don't know what that has to do with what I said.), as Scots are wont to do. These are clever and decent lads, and I wish them all great success. I'll surely be at the show on the 27th. Big hugs all around.

Here's a clip of their studio session with A&M, recording "I See It All." The opening song is "The Fool Rides Again" - too bad they don't play the whole thing, it's a personal favorite. You can check both out on this podcast, however (the playlist is, in order, Sillhouette, The Fool Rides Again, Light Sleeper, I See It All).

Sillhouette (Live at the Roxy, Los Angeles. Scottish folk roots evident here.)

Raised at Midnight

Driveblind on MySpace
the band's website
Geffen page

And my favorite:

(you can hear this song on the MySpace page. or in the podcast.)

Light Sleeper

This just isn't fair
the understatement of the year
if i had known
watched you go
would i have been there?

thought i'll keep
when i sleep

so what comes now?
when i go down so slowly
so slowly

i know that things they can't go on
i'm sick and tired of being wrong
these times have put me to the test
light sleeper, won't you get some rest
light sleeper, won't you get some rest

time will tell
if i am well
or under the weather
close my eyes
tight tonight

i know that things they can't go on
i'm sick and tired of being wrong
these times have put me to the test
light sleeper, won't you get some rest?
light sleeper, won't you get some rest?

I'm a light sleeper
I'm a light sleeper
yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I'm a light sleeper

i know that things they can't go on
i'm know i'm tired, i know i'm wrong
these times have put me to the test
light sleeper, won't you get some rest?
light sleeper, won't you get some rest?

i know that things they can't go on
i'm sick and tired of being wrong
these times have put me to the test
light sleeper, won't you get some rest?
light sleeper, won't you get some rest?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

You Fill Up My Senses

All senses, left unrefined, are physical. When they are refined, then they become spiritual.

-Yogi Bhajan

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Peep This

I might not be writing much now, but I'm watching you.


Here's a new-to-me blog I've been enjoying regularly, Unremitting Failure. Mostly for the snark. Already shared the Skynard post with you, but here are a couple others that have amused me.

Life Amongst the Amish. When was the last time you saw anyone work in a line about Cotton Mather? I haven't thought about him since an American History research paper I wrote eight years ago.

Bing Crosby. If you've no sense of cinematic or pop music history, you might still recall those insipid orange juice commercials in the 70s. I understand he used to beat his kids, but I'm not saying he couldn't sing.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Strategic Ad Placement

Fair and Accurate Reporting

When did he switch sides? Does that make him an R & D Man?

Affection Is Subversive

Does anyone else remember the Leo Buscaglia Society? I remember being chased across the main green of my Providence, RI campus when I wouldn't submit to a hug. Of course, that was more in fun than anything. Anyhow, this is the best example of positive social activism I've ever heard of (well, not to take anything away from Gandhi), from a young man in Sydney, Australia. Too bad the authorities tried to break it up. Here's the video, there's a story that unfolds. The skateboard stunt's one of my favorite moments.

This is the YouTube blurb:

"Sometimes, a hug is all what we need. Free hugs is a real life controversial story of Juan Mann, a man whose sole mission was to reach out and hug a stranger to brighten up their lives.

In this age of social disconnectivity and lack of human contact, the effects of the Free Hugs campaign became phenomenal.

As this symbol of human hope spread accross the city, police and officials ordered the Free Hugs campaign BANNED. What we then witness is the true spirit of humanity come together in what can only be described as awe inspiring.

In the Spirit of the free hugs campaign, PASS THIS TO A FRIEND and HUG A STRANGER! After all, If you can reach just one person..."

Here's the tv news story from Down Under.

And this article from the Sydney Morning Herald: "A City of Sydney spokesman Josh MacKenzie said he could find no record of rangers asking Mann to move on."

I love that Juan Mann's name, homophonically, is One Man.

Big Hug to all y'all (or, in the words of Ari Gold on Entourage, "Hug it out, Bitch!")

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

It Pertains to Poo*

Today I offended the regular cashier at my favorite hardware store. Favorite because it's not Home Depot - which, by the way, is about 30% more expensive than OSH, at least for joist hangers, post and and hurricane ties, and any other sort of hardware you might need for the underpinnings of your deck. I have neither done a comprehensive comparison of their other goods, nor am I saying that OSH has even close to the same selection. But I am saying that you won't wait in line for the half-life of the barium in the enema the worried GI doc gave you the last time you were inexplicably backed-up. I'm also saying that the likelihood of someone actually knowing something at OSH is as great as HD, but better to ask the old feller (who, like my maternal grandfather, is probably named Earle, Don, or maybe Roy), at your local family-owned True Value, because he's been sorting the hex bolts from the lag screws for, like, the last thirty years. That type of salesman is my personal preference, as opposed to the Home Depot employees, whose average age is young, dumb and full of...

Most of the staff at my little hardware haven have the conservative and rural everyman feel that can easily be found back home in Oregon, or anywhere else in this country once you slip out of the urban. It's more of a surprise to find it in LA, or even in liberal old Portland. But anywhere the blue collar work can be found, so shall these types of men be. The two women staffers there are sweet and hefty women, who probably get their hair poodled at the hair salon round the corner, because those are the only places that still administer perms, to my knowledge. They sip diet beverages, wear conspicuously colored eyeglasses, and are unfailingly pleasant to deal with. The other two men in employ are fortysomething long-haired fellows who give off that peculiar air of guys in bands. Maybe it's the marijuana they have undoubtedly sampled, maybe it's jocular Dave's pony-tail, or the more austere cashier's leather wristband. Something in their style and insouciant manner makes them misfits in this store, at least as career professionals. They feel more like adolescent summer help, though the cashier's too terse to be readily considered immature. And though they regularly jest with me, less the one who works the register and and more the one who went so far as to let me know he had, er, gauged my temperature, let us not confuse them with the rancid and megalomanical sorts of musicians who might viably be candidates for My Future Husband.

Well, while I was paying for my drywall, screws, Liquid Plumber (which I am loathe to use), Exit light, base trim, and toilet plunger, I asked if I should be worried that someone had made off with the latter item from our home.

He replied with a rather snotty, "Could we not talk about it?"***

Well, we really hadn't talked about anything, but I didn't wish to trespass -

"Sorry, I didn't know you were so squeamish as that."

"Well, there are things for which I have my limits."

Huh. I am not leaving anything out, except that earlier, when I had asked another employee where the plungers were kept, I told him that mine had gone missing, which I found rather perplexing. He laughed and said, "Yeah, that is a weird one." It's possible the cashier heard me then. Still, there was never any discussion of things plungers are actually used for.

Either way, I did not say anything directly distasteful, so what was so bothersome to this fellow was beyond me.

The irony of this is two-fold. One, for the most part I don't like poopy humor. I don't like the Farrelly Brothers much, plasticized joke excrements left on office desks or carpets are just dumb, and farts jokes tend to leave me cold.
I should make some exceptions here, however, though I couldn't possibly recount them all. It occurs to me that eighty percent of the time when my very close friend Stephen, who is all about this stuff, phones me and, say, insists on describing the loud, acrid and crouching gas he had while standing before a crowd at the ATM, I cannot help but laugh. He has also been known to detail the quality of his bowel movements, and at great length. I don't know why I indulge him in this, but it's always funny when he does, and it seems to make him feel better. He could make a kitchen table seem funny however, or even a rake.

Overall, scat humor is not upsetting or particularly offensive, it's just that for me, humor-wise, usually it's a blank stare, it's a brick wall. Maybe I made it through that particular Freudian stage a little too smoothly to find it very amusing. There's no anxiety at all - at best it's a cipher, at worst it's just annoying. That does not mean, however, that something circling round the poop, something telling about human behavior, is not funny. Quite the contrary. I laughed quite hard at David Sedaris reading his poem (too raunchy for NPR), about walking into a bathroom and finding that the previous guest had left an unflushable leviathan turd in the toilet bowl. Of course, someone was waiting their turn to get in after him. What could he do? The shame of leaving it there for the next person was too much for him, so he fumbled about the medicine cabinet and washstand drawers until he found an instrument that could take that monster down. A toothbrush.

That is a story coarse and unladylike, but it is funny to me. Why? Because it's a man in a pickle. It's about shame and tension and what lengths we'll go to just so we don't look bad. It happens to have feces at its center, but that's not the joke. Same with the plunger. It's potentially a nasty thing, an abject object. Why would someone take it? That's all I was saying.

The second irony is, having worked for a few years with a small crew of otherwise all male carpenters, as well as heaps of sub-contractors, I came to learn rather quickly that many many men LOVE to talk about shit and the like (women generally don't - same with not loving The Three Stooges). I cannot think of a single lunchtime conversation that, by its end, had not degenerated to the scatalogical. Whether we started out with international affairs, the OJ Simpson case, or the influence of traditional Klezmer on Jazz music, the end point was always the same. I do admit to being somewhat vexed from time to time, but this feeling probably owed more to my daily bouts of hypoglycemic post-meal food coma (we always ate too late), which must be something like what Gulliver endured, tied down by the Lilliputians.

I also confess to laughing to the point of near personal injury each and every time Garrett grossed out Matt enough to make him puke up his lunch. Matt was easily pushed to this point, particularly if any "bad dairy" cant were shared, or the famous "lancing of the horse's abcessed jaw" story. What was so beautiful about it was as soon as Matt, who was our foreman, hurled, Garrett, who was his best friend, would inevitably follow.

Anyway, today I was so taken aback by the cashier's reaction, I was offended he was offended. Where was his sense of humor? Even if he thought me rude, it seemed too much of a reprimand. Just a couple of months ago, I stood before him as the guy in line behind me looked at the miniature antique model car on the shelf (why they were selling this novelty item is beyond me), and said "You guys should really offer little Hummers."

Well, the cashier and I locked eyes and stared each other down. All the while I pressed my lips together as hard as if God himself had vised them. What finally escaped was an, "Um!"

The cashier chuckled, "I know, I'm really trying not to go there."

We bonded in that moment. So, was this the same man?

Someone, please explain.

* (What I told my pre-med roommate sophomore year when she asked what scatological meant)
**(Two types of plungers - know the difference?)
*** (Please note the use of ital html! Thanks Huck and Aytch!)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bumpersticker du Jour

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."

Spotted by RPP, written by George Orwell.

Like The Great Chicago Fire

My roommate, the American Apparel model.

Hey Siren, it wasn't Mrs. O'Leary's cow that set the town a blazin'. If you were any hotter in this faux-toe, the canyon residents would be evacuating right about now. It's what makes Billy do, as you said, things like this.

That's What I'm Talking About!

Caveat: I am currently a bit feverish.

Imagine my frustration at not being able to italicize text here, like the word "talking" in the title. Before any of you smartier-than-thou-pants direct me to my tool bar right above, let me just say that the "i" logo doesn't register on my iBook, and even when I had access at work to a PC, the icon never worked anyway. Of course, if I'd get off my sorry ass and learn some more html codes... but, that's precisely the sort of thing I hate to do, even if it would be so much better to italicize "hate" for emphasis, to cue you that I mean it in sort of a whiney-draggy way, like a kid who is stalling bath time. Of course, I LOVED bath time and shower time as a child. Still do. Except that LA water dries my skin out rather savagely, so I bathe somewhat less frequently, opting for some sort of hippie shower regimen (which is also routinely what is practiced in the shower in regards to even more aggressively drying soap. You don't want me utterly and prematurely senescing, do you, People?). If you don't know what a hippie shower is, well, I've already overshared, so go look it up. That's hypocritical coming from the one who hates to read manuals for anything, unless it's a cookbook. Still, why should I read an inscrutable technical text, when you can simply show me, in which case, I'll remember it better anyway?

But I digress.

This is my point - in regards to a recent renewed fascination with old rockstars, and my avowal to espouse one, I direct you to this recent posting on Unremitting Failure, which I wish I had written.

Oh Sister

Oh, sister, when I come to lie in your arms
You should not treat me like a stranger.
Our Father would not like the way that you act
And you must realize the danger.

Oh, sister, am I not a brother to you
And one deserving of affection?
And is our purpose not the same on this earth,
To love and follow his direction?

We grew up together
From the cradle to the grave
We died and were reborn
And then mysteriously saved.

Oh, sister, when I come to knock on your door,
Don't turn away, you'll create sorrow.
Time is an ocean but it ends at the shore
You may not see me tomorrow.

-Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy, from "Desire"
Copyright © 1975 Ram's Horn Music

Art Is Psychic Alchemy

Ernest Becker championed the work of Otto Rank, and likewise believed in the redemptive power of Art for artist and spectator, alike. According to Rank:

"This very essence of a man, his soul, which the artist puts into his work and which is represented by it, is found again in the work by the enjoyer, just as the believer finds his soul in religion or in God, with whom he feels himself to be one."

Becker writes:

"Rank asked why the artist so often avoids clinical neurosis when he is so much a candidate for it because of his vivid imagination, his openness to the finest and broadest aspects of experience, his isolation from the cultural world view that satisfies everyone else.

The answer is that he takes in the world, but instead of being oppressed by it, he reworks it in his own personality, and recreates it in the work of art. The neurotic is precisely the one who cannot create. We might say that both the artist and the neurotic bites off more than he can chew, but the artist chews it over in an objectified way, and spews it out again, as an external, objective work project. The neurotic cannot marshal this creative response embodied in a specific work, and so he chokes on his introversions. The artist has similar large scale introversions, but he uses them as material.

The neurotic's frustration as a failed artist can't be remedied by anything but an objective creative work of his own.

Another way of looking at it is to say that the more totally one takes in the world as a problem, the more inferior or "bad" one is going to feel inside oneself. He can try to work out this "badness" by striving for perfection, and then the neurotic symptom becomes his "creative" work; or he can try to make himself perfect by means of his partner. But it is obvious to us that the only way to work on perfection is in the form of an objective work that is fully under your control and is perfectible in some real ways. Either you eat up yourself and others around you, trying for perfection; or you objectify that imperfection in a work, on which you then unleash your creative powers. In this sense, some kind of objective creativity is the only answer man has to the problem of life.

In this way he satisfies nature, which asks that he live and act objectively as a vital animal plunging into the world; but he also satisfies his own distinctive human nature because he plunges in on his own symbolic terms and not as a reflex of the world as given to mere physical sense experience. He takes in the world, makes a total problem out of it and then gives out a fashioned, human answer to that problem. This, as Goethe saw in Faust, is the highest that man can achieve.

- Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death)

(Top illustration - Eugene Delacroix, Illustration for Goethe's Faust, 1825-7)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

American Tail

before the white man came to this land, the bunnies felt no shame. they were free. free to be bunnies. free to fuck like bunnies. but then the day came when the white cloud covered the vast blue sky like a gloved hand coming into a cage - a cage that was never there before, and so the bunnies had shame. shame for being bunnies. and that was a dark day, even though it was a white cloud.

Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want

Good times for a change
See, the luck I've had
Can make a good man
Turn bad

So please please please
Let me, let me, let me
Let me get what I want
This time

Haven't had a dream in a long time
See, the life I've had
Can make a good man bad

So for once in my life
Let me get what I want
Lord knows, it would be the first time
Lord knows, it would be the first time

-The Smiths

The Better to Eat You With, My Dear


Some call it frugality,
some call it performance art.

I just call it home.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sarcasm Runs in the Family Double Helix

This from my brother:

"I see from your blog you want a rock star boyfriend. You could just go out with a self-possessed, delusional, homeless asshole and avoid having to listen to awful music as well. I suggest you see a recent movie called Clean about the joys of actually being involved with a junkie rock star who ODs on you.

Being able to name a child Zoboe No Fun isn't worth it."

I'm going to have to make the movie a triple-header, along with DiG! and New York Doll.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Must Be the Season of the Witch

Disclaimer: This story is petty, trivial, and absurd. Why it is significant to me might not be obvious to you.

At the neighborhood bar Thursday (the day we go down there), I was repeatedly being bumped into by a 45ish burly oaf from New York. He spoke Queensish, or Brooklynese (like the difference between Aussie and Kiwi, my ear isn't trained enough). If he'd hailed from Boston, we would say he spoke the dialect of Masshole. Built like a lineman, his nudges sometimes propelled me forward like the silver balls in that click-clacking physics toy. You know the one, you pull back the dangling bead, release, and watch the "equal and opposite reaction" unfold. And that my friend, is about all I know of physics. Well, I know about leverage, but whatever.

Anyway, each impact came with a dip-shit flirtatious apology/comment. Let me say that this guy was not a bad guy, he was just too big for his control center. Likewise, his impulses outstripped his good sense and his wit. He was annoying. Nonetheless, I kept my tact intact.

The fourth time he bumped me, I looked at my friend Jessica and ironically said, as if addressing the NYC Burrough, "Hey, are you a Rock Star, because if you're not, why are you talking to me?"

The fifth time he slammed into me, he said in mock accusation, "Hey, three strikes you're out!"
(Because, of course, math is hard when you've been throwing back Long Island Ice Teas. I've no proof of this, but as long as I'm perpetuating regionalist stereotypes...)

"Oh, I'm sorry, do I need a time out?"

Polite exchange of laughter, then I turned back around.

In the meantime, the fake-titted, bottle-blonded, hard bitten, bar-owning contemporary of this Massive Buffoon, Mary (with whom I have never interacted, though I've been an irregular patron for the last four years), went into her storeroom and emerged with a child's wooden bench. Upon the backrest was carved, "Time Out." She set it on the bar and told me to get into it.

Let me be clear that while I have been known to instigate certain late night chicaneries (remember the cones), and even invented a drinking game or two (Beer-Bottle Bowling, sadly this one has never been tested, though I'm quite certain it would be fun), there are certain fraternity house antics in which I am not willing to participate. I don't do body shots; I don't mack on a brother on the pool table (this was actually a payable offense at the Sigma Chi house where I matriculated - fifty bucks was the house prize, I believe); I don't funnelate. Nonetheless, I am quite capable of making an ass of myself and quite often willing, but only when the choice is mine. Secondly, the conditions under which this occurs require a certain level of confidence in my audience, and more importantly, the knowledge that the work will be original. Acting like a donkey should be creative, not gimmicky. No resting on the hackneyed pranks an eleven-year-old with a mean streak would find amusing. So this obviously overused antic of the proprietress was not at all amusing to me.

"No," I said.

At this point, she wasn't really speaking to me directly. Or I should say, I don't believe she was looking at me when she spoke. She was standing around the bend of the bar, in the waiter area, but in full view. I was, however, looking at her. What I saw on her face was not something about pranksterishness, levity, or mirth. Instead, it was something hard and unsmiling.

"I heard someone call a time out, so get in the chair."

"I'm the one who said 'Time Out,' and I'm not getting in your chair."

"You need to get in the chair."

"No, I'm not getting in the chair, but I can leave."

At this point, she turns to the bartender (a man who is always immensely polite to me), " Bob, make her get in the chair."

Oh boy.

The guy from NYC, turns to me completely transformed. He apologizes profusely for the mess I'm in because, really, he's not at all a bad guy. He's just, you know, big oafish, and over-tippled. "I had no idea," he says. I say, "It's okay. Not your fault. I had no idea either."

Bob is in front of me now. He is rather a man of stature also (as is Mary). He softly asks me to ascend the bar, "You'll get a free drink."

"I don't want a free drink." My jaw is set.

I think at some point he was actually looking down at the floor. Aw shucks.

I don't know what exactly caused it, but shortly thereafter I caved. It's difficult for me to admit, because I felt genuinely chagrined then and afterwards. But I'll get to that in a minute.

I hopped up onto the stool, sat in the chair for maybe two seconds, then looked at Bob and said, "How's that?" Without waiting for his reply, I got back down, only to hear Her strain like the unhappy black roots that were trying to escape the confines of her malevolent skull,

"That's the shortest Time Out I've ever seen."

I know it's a stupid story. One guy amongst us, could not for the life of him figure out what I objected to. But oh-my-God I was pissed off. That bitch came out of nowhere and dominated me so hard, I could feel the rancor at the first moment she opened her mouth. My body instantly rebelled in that moment. My heels dug in. There was no question that the answer was, "No."

So why did I demure?

Because I'm trained that way. Because I was brought up to be a good girl who doesn't make waves. Because my mother systematically tried to break my will on a daily basis from the age of three onward. Because the circumstances of my life have repeatedly demanded that I endure endure endure the hardship, the encumbrance, the discomfort, the humiliations. Because at times I was the kid in school who got bullied. A lot. Even though I was smart and pretty and funny. Even though I was sweet. Because standing up for myself was forbidden.

This is an area of my life that I've been consciously trying to address for a few years now, most intensely so in the last several months. There are parts of me which are immoveable. Never have you been able to make me do a thing I deem immoral or that causes foreseeable injury to another. But when the harm is only to the first few layers to myself, well, then I am often unable to withstand the pressure.

I was very upset that I didn't just walk out and leave it all behind. In certain spiritual practices, you are meant to remain within the moment and exist peacefully and neutral. In this way you help the aggressor transform their own negativity along with you. I would say I only accomplished some fratction of that. Because I was pissed.

Except this was funny: Later, I was speaking with two friends outside when Laurie, a feisty doll and the day bartender, came out and asked what had happened. I recounted. She looked at me and recited, " 'They're all going to laugh at me, they're all going to laugh at me, they're all going to laugh at me.' Yeah, I saw "Carrie," like seventeen times." Then she sped away.

How could I not laugh at that? She nailed 25% of it. Of course no one likes to be publicly embarassed, but moreso, it was about Mary's coercion, her meanness, and my own failure.

Sitting back at the bar, Bob leaned over to me and said. "Can I tell you something?"


"You're so beautiful it makes it hard to work."

"Thank you, that's very sweet." (a few beats while he smiled at me)

Then I said softly, "But if that's true, why did you make me get up there?"

He didn't answer.

Moreover, why did I make me?

That night I dreamt of having my hair cut too short. How apt.