Tuesday, December 30, 2008

GACOYA (Part 4): House of Cards

The Shakespearean nephews.

GACOYA (Part 3): Bastet

My favorite, most meaningful Christmas present this year was a small Egyptian "Bastet" cat sculpture that my mom brought home from Germany, from the house of her sister, who just passed away.

I didn't know anything about this mythological creature, but my mom had printed out some online information to go along with the sculpture:

Bast is the daughter and/or wife of Ra, the God of the Sun.
Bast was responsible for joy, music, and dancing, also health and healing. She also protected humans against contagious diseases and evil spirits.
Her cult can be traced back to about 3200 BC, and she became a national deity when Bubastis became the capital of Egypt in about 950 BC.
Bast expressed the qualities of the lion or cat family, beauty of movement, agility, strength, caution, fidelity to the pride, all of which could equally be interpreted at the spiritual level.
During the New Kingdom (1539 - 1075 BC) she became equated with Sekhmet, the lioness deity of war.
Into the Greek period, she would be equated with the virgin huntress Artemis and considered the protectress of children and pregnant mothers, musicians, and a goddess of all sorts of excess, especially sexual excess.

GACOYA (Part 2): Country




On my way home to San Antone from Newark, there was a stopover at the Charlotte airport, where I saw these kindly rocking chairs in a waiting area! How friendly and rustic is that!

Speaking of "rustic": When we "Newarkians" deplaned in Charlotte, there was no "tunnel" for us to walk through to get into the airport; we all simply climbed down the stairs of the plane onto the tarmac and then, if we had carry-ons that had been stowed, we waited outside for those to be unloaded.

Another woman and I both grabbed our luggage as soon as it appeared, headed toward the building, and then stopped short in the same spot, puzzled. Neither of us could figure out how to actually get INSIDE the airport! The woman looked at me, shook her head, and said, "We in the country."

Going All Christmasy On Your Ass! (Part 1)

This isn't actually very Christmasy at all, but I noticed it on my mom's back porch while I was in San Antone for Christmas. (That counts!) A mutantly large rubber-tree plant! The pictures don't adequately capture how kind-of-creepy this thing is. Here's what happened...

Years ago, during one of my moves, I gave my mom my little rubber-tree plant to keep. It was about 1-1/2-feet tall at the time. She put the plant, in its planter, on her porch, where it grew normally for a while... And then, about a year ago, it decided it didn't like just being in its planter any more... It snuck a tendril outside of the pot and burrowed into the actual ground between the planter and the cement of the porch... And now look at the friggin' monster-of-a-thing! Its "tendrils" are now more than an inch thick, and the plant itself towers about 13 feet high!

(Gee, the symbolism... Like, you know, a daughter leaving her home, er, POT of Texas and sneaking a tendril out into the Great Big World... Ha! I can only dream of being as mighty as this guy!)







Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chelsea Styles/Frank O'Hara


http://thiswomanisdangerous.blogspot.com/2007/04/chelsea-styles-part-2.html

Some of you might remember my first forays into "Chelsea Styles," the tiny "Blue Velvet"-esque beauty shop I discovered by accident when I first moved to NYC. (See above link, from 4/28/07, an account of my second visit there. My first, equally odd, visit was in March of that year; there's also a blog entry for that, if you want to look it up.)

After nearly 2 years, despite my initial befuddlement at the lack of hair gel and blow-drying, and at the bevy of 80-year-olds who frequented the place... I've been coming back, with only one exception, ever since!

Only now, my friends... I am a regular.

And the formerly-known-as-"Robert Goulet-man" (Vincent) who runs the place now says "Hiya, Stephanie" when I arrive, and asks me if I want a drink, and how's Weehawken, and how's my new job; my regular stylist Mayra knows to put gel on my hair while it's wet; AND, best of all, I now get my blow-drys for free! (Unlike the $30 they charged a newbie way back when.) And, for Christmas, today Vincent gave me a 2009 address book, embossed in gold with "A World of Thanks" and the shop's address/phone...It's 225 West 23rd (just across from the Chelsea Hotel), for anyone who wants to visit.

I still, though, have yet to see any customer under 70 in there...

Today the ladies were really acting up, on account of the Christmas music playing on the radio. The "Noel" song came on. So one lady started shrieking "Noel, Noel" at the top of her lungs to be funny. It was indeed humorous.

But then another lady got jealous of the attention the first lady was getting. I happened to be sitting there in the pedicure chair, completely defenseless, when this second lady decided to serenade me. Personally. I have no idea what the song was, but she said it had been in her head all day...I smiled politely, trying not to crack up, a la what I'd done to the singing guy at the Christmas party.

Luckily, Vincent saw what was happening and called over to her to come RIGHT NOW to get her shampoo. She went immediately, but then started in on him about the Christmas songs on the radio: "Are they trying to compete with me? They can't compete with me! [la-la-la] Is this a contest? I'm gonna win this one! [la-la-la]"

She eventually quieted down. And I was left with my thoughts in the pedicure chair while I waited for the polish to dry, staring out the window at the passersby and at the famous Chelsea Hotel directly across the street: "Here I am at Christmastime in New York City, getting a pedicure, looking out at the snow and the people and the Chelsea Hotel..."

Wow. It wasn't exactly an epiphany, but it was a moment of contentment. I was so full of LIKE for everything: for the ladies in the shop, for Vincent, for my getting a pedicure in the winter (which I'd never even gotten before until this past summer---getting one in winter just seems, oh, decadent!), for the people who stared in the window while they walked by, for my view of the Chelsea Hotel out the shop window...

It reminded me of this Frank O'Hara poem that I first came across in David Wevill's class at UT-Austin in the '80s when I was a kid:

Autobiographia Literaria

When I was a child
I played by myself in a
corner of the schoolyard
all alone.

I hated dolls and I
hated games, animals were
not friendly and birds
flew away.

If anyone was looking
for me I hid behind a
tree and cried out "I am
an orphan."

And here I am, the
center of all beauty!
writing these poems!
Imagine!


I don't feel like a freak now. Thank you, New York. I am so grateful.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Stephanie Rule: One Word For Snow














And that word is... "snow." At least in America. I don't care what the TV anchor- and weather-people tell you: It is now verboten to call it "powder" and, worse, "the white stuff"! (I know, I know...the Eskimo have, what is it, 50 words? That's very creative. But until we in America can come up with some equally creative alternatives, I hereby declare that only "snow" is permissible!) :)

Anyway, Friday was the first snowstorm of the season here in Joisey/NYC. We got about 4 inches in Weehawken. Our office had word that a storm was coming, so we all got work to take home and didn't have to come in on Friday. It was really relaxing to be all warm and cozy and leisurely doing editing while watching all the slipping-and-sliding and snow-plowing and car-scraping and sidewalk-shoveling/salting outside my window. People were busy out there!

I looooooove this weather! Being from Texas, seeing maybe an inch or two of snow every 2 or 3 years, if that, it's all still very ghostly and exotic to me. (And I've always loved winter clothes more than summer clothes---the hats, the boots, the gloves, the sweaters... I love shopping for them and getting all bundled up.)

These first two shots are from my front window, the second two from the back kitchen window, and the last, just my plants enjoying the white light.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

WET

In late October of this year, someone I knew from my college years 20 years ago came back into my life, briefly. Here's a poem I wrote for her last October:

The kid in her, at 46
Still smoking "wet"
Still screaming at the stars, coating the walls
with quotes from Ted Hughes
Bemoaning lost love and the god
she'd never given up

There was a walk we never took
A swim we never had
We never got wet, despite my wanting

And now we are not kids, I am so glad.

A Christmas Memory: Rinder-Rouladen

The most succulent, tender, best-tasting beef meal ever, a Christmas staple in the Jones family, thanks to my mom's German recipe. The name translates to "Beef Roll-ups." And I cannot wait to eat it when I go home this Christmas!!

The below is the best alternative recipe I could find online, though the inclusion of dill pickles (!) is ridiculous! (It's just extremely tender, red-wine-marinated steak rolled up with chopped onions and bacon, dammit---no freaky pickles! Though, one time, just for a test, our family ordered this dish at a San Antonio restaurant... It came with pickles, the meat was tough...It was nasty! The test proved that it wasn't the dish that was so good, it was my mom's cooking!)

When my mom first came to America as a new bride in the early '60s, her own recipe for this dish was featured in a local Texas paper. We still have the clipping in a scrapbook. I don't have that with me now, but here's the pickly online recipe I just found to give you a general idea of what it is:

http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977424871

I will always remember my mother's rinder-rouladen, pot-roast, and home-made pizza. (And I will always hope to forget those godforsaken stuffed bell peppers that kept showing up on the dinner table! To this day, when I taste bell peppers, it reminds me of what "cramps" and "evil" must taste like!) :)

Guess Who

You'll never guess who this is (aside from my Dream Girl, that is)... (Hint: Very famous, posing as 20s vamp Theda Bara.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

My most favorite goosebump-raising Christmas songs

1984/1969

"Tonight thank god it's them instead of you..."





Fruitiest Christmas Songs Ever

While driving to the company Christmas party this afternoon, my boss thought she'd get us in the mood by tuning in to her Sirius radio's Christmas station. Unfortunately, this was the first song we heard:



We were all listening, aghast: WHAT is this "ba-noing-a-noing"?! How fruity is this?!

Psychic that I am, I said, while the Jewel song was still on, "I've only heard ONE Christmas song that's fruitier than this..." Famous last words, because as soon as the Jewel song ended, what should come on but...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Baby, it's bad out there!

I love Dean. How smooth is he! (At a Christmas party a couple of years ago, this song came on. I was sitting on a couch next to an Irish guy, who commented wryly, "It's not like Mr. Martin would ever try to bust a move or anything.") :)

"Get over that hold-out,
Baby, it's cold outside..."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kiki Meets Kervorkian: A Christmas Songbird

The company I work for had a huge Christmas luncheon today, and for entertainment while we ate was an ancient 80-something Dr. Kervorkian-lookalike in an undertaker's suit hunched over a tiny keyboard and belting out the Christmas tunes! The man was so into it that I constantly had to stop eating and just watch him in action! (All the while ecstatically fearful that he'd jump up and start singing to individual tables.) Occasionally, he'd even pick up a trumpet and play that, while still playing the keyboard with his other hand! The best part was his vocals, though, which sounded an awful lot like Kiki's (of "Kiki and Herb"---see video below). And his interpretation of some of the Christmas songs...A sample lyric of his from "Winter Wonderland":

We'll walk unabashed
while we get smashed
walkin' in a winter wonderland!

I'm sorry, but at that, I started laughing so hard that people at other tables were staring at me. I laughed so hard that I cried and had to cover my face. Every time I thought I'd calmed down some, he'd toss something else like that into the mix, and I'd start all over again. (By this time he'd noticed me and my reaction---since I was sitting at the table closest to him!---and started grinning and winking at me, which of course set me off even more.)

Then my boss and I noticed a wedding-ring on his finger, so my boss launches into a spiel, pretending to be his wife at home while he's practicing his act: "Edgar! Enough with the Christmas songs!! Yer driving me crazeeeee!!! Would ya come eat your dinner!!!!" (When I mused aloud about how I wished I'd worn a red-velvet prom dress to lunch so I could lie across his keyboard, an earnest co-worker said, "Do you really still have your prom dress?")

Oh...my...god. Now I'm obsessed with him. I'm going to the Human Resources Dept. tomorrow to find out who he is and where the hell they found him. I wonder: Did he used to play Atlantic City 50 years ago? Does he spend all year practicing his Christmas tunes? Does he get other gigs? Does he have a CD out that I can buy? Any publicity photos available? I'll let you know what I find out!


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Poor Rhett

This song's for Rhett, always having to listen to Scarlett's stupid pining for Ashley.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Hardwired/Water Signs

With age, I see how my sexual preferences cross-reference over the years:

In 1986, I was madly in love with a woman: Scorpio, painter/poet, dark.

In 1989, my first girlfriend was a Scorpio, painter/poet, dark, with hands exactly like the 1986-woman.

In 2000, my first "Internet love" was a Pisces (aka, watered-down Scorpio), whose INVENTED back-story was almost exactly like the REAL life story of the 1986-woman (that's pretty uncanny), and whose communicating with me online was/is eerily similar to the other, recently-in-touch-with---mostly nuance and image and maddening-ness...but extremely, subtly sexy at the same time, and prone to burst out with the most odd/interesting/profound thoughts that make you think and laugh for days and ever...

I went to lunch today with my boss and a co-worker, and we were discussing their kids and genetics---my boss's little 2-year-old girl hangs her foot outside her bedcovers every night, just like her dad; my co-worker's now-grown daughter has always stuck her tongue out of her mouth when she's concentrating, just like her dad...

I didn't mention for their lunch-time consideration: "Well, Little Steffie always seems to like these psychologically complex women who get her off in a myriad of ways..." Nah. I think, instead, I just said I thought the salad was really good.

p.s. The above Water Signs were/are also hardwired---unfortunately, not one of them for ME! 1986 likes old rich men; 1989 likes teenaged punk girls; 2000 likes teenaged gay boys.

Goddammit! ;p

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I miss my furniture!

I used to be a girl who owned red velvet furniture.


"The Girl From Hateville"



As soon as I saw this postcard on my soon-to-be-boss's wall back in October, I just knew she'd hire me! ;p

Today we had fun trying to figure out what to contribute from our small, poor copy editing group for the Silent Christmas Auction coming up at work. She'd already bought a big basket, and had a bottle of champagne, so we were trying to go from there. Voila! A girly "movie-night" theme for the basket, based on Marilyn's "How to Marry a Millionaire": a copy of the DVD, the champagne plus 2 glasses, popcorn, bubble-bath, a toy-store tiara and bracelets and boa and evening gloves...

Christmas is a kick! That is... when you're from... HATEVILLE!

Travel Time/mighty fine copy editing

OK, nobody out there cares about this (aw, SHUR ya do! thanks to the 25 or so regulars who keep coming back for more trivial crap about ME-ME-ME!), but for me it's a great big deal! :) I finally whittled down my travel time to work by another 15 minutes. So now, sans car, I'm able to make it in an hour-and-a-half each way, rather than the initial 3 hours, and then hour-and-45-minutes, when I first started attempting it 2 weeks ago.

What USED TO happen when I tried to get further upstate in Jersey from Weehawken, NJ, and then go home again: Mornings: Catch a bus to Manhattan, walk 8 blocks, catch the company shuttle to work, which travelled back through the Lincoln Tunnel that I'd just come through, BACK to Jersey... Afternoons: Catch the company shuttle to the GW Bridge. Get off shuttle, pay a "gypsy bus" $1.25 to get me to the A Train on the Manhattan side of the bridge, take the A Train to the Port Authority (42nd and 8th in Manhattan), then a bus home to Weehawken..... WHEW!!!!

The secret to my newfound success: I finally figgered out that there's a damn bus that takes me from Weehawken to the GW Bridge, where I can then take the company shuttle on into work. In short, I'm saving myself 15 minutes and $5 a day ($100 a month)in bus/subway fare.

What's crazy is, if I had a car, I'd be at work in about a half-hour. But nooooooooo, when I left Texas for, ostensibly, Manhattan, I sold the car thinking I wouldn't ever need one again!

In other work news: When I arrived today, I found a print-out of an e-mail on my desk from an editor that I've never been introduced to. (That's one difference between Texas and NY/NJ---at new jobs in Texas, you spend an hour being dragged around from office to office meeting everyone in the whole company. Here, nuthin'!)

The mail read: "I don't know who 'SJ' is, but please tell her/him that the job she/he did on [whatever it was] was excellent" etc. etc. The editor had sent it to my boss and CC'd his own boss and several other editors. Funnily, my boss had been a tad bit worried last week that I'd been flagging so many pages of MS as having errors. She was thinking that I was querying dumb stuff, but I promised her that 98% of what I was flagging really was outright incorrect, and that the editors would be happy since the next round would be a lot cleaner and faster since we were catching everything at the beginning... TOLD YA SO! ;p

It's nice to be appreciated. It's nice to get to work faster.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A good bra is hard to find



Back in the olden days, I'd buy bras that would last for 3 years or more. New York-bought bras, however, seem to go bad much sooner---in just a year! It's disturbing.

And now that I mention it, years ago I found the best panties in the world---Adonna. I loved them because they never, ever showed panty lines. And now, they're nowhere to be found here (or in San Antonio, for that matter---last Christmas, I led my mom on a wild goose-chase to some local malls for ADONNA PANTIES, to no avail).

And then there's the matter of Nivea face cream... Also not available in NYC for some godforsakenly unknown reason.

Jesus. Life is hard here in the Big, Saggy Apple.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Grief

My mom just sent me this e-mail today, which I just now read, about her recent trip to Germany to bury her sister Barbel. I only met Tante Barbel three times, when I was 4, and 12, and 18. I can't explain how nice she was, not just on the surface, but the kind look in her eyes, and how kindly she treated everyone, how at-home she seemed to be in the world, even after the tragedy of her husband's suicide and her only daughter's early death. When I was around her, she had many close friends, she radiated peacefulness and kindness. And then now I read this, my mom's report:

"She died as she had lived these past ten years - alone. I did not realize the full extent of her depression until I read her notes (a diary, of sorts). When we had talked in the past, she would always emphasize how content she was living by herself and being independent. And I believed her. I was aware of the physical pain, but unaware of the extent of her mental suffering. She never opened herself up to anyone."

My heart is just broken for her, just broken in general. I can't stop crying............

Here's more of my mom's e-mail after coming back from Germany yesterday:

"My journey to the homeland was a hellish experience. Well, what else can one expect when the last link to one's past has died? I was totally overwhelmed by everything - the sad death, the burial preparations, the bureaucracy.... A three-week nightmare. Tante Baerbel apparently died in her sleep, but was not found until three days later. In a heated house. Due to decomposition having set in, I was unable to see her one last time. She died as she had lived these past ten years - alone. I did not realize the full extent of her depression until I read her notes (a diary, of sorts). When we had talked in the past, she would always emphasize how content she was living by herself and being independent. And I believed her. I was aware of the physical pain, but unaware of the extent of her mental suffering. She never opened herself up to anyone.

The funeral home assisted me in arranging a small memorial service with a wonderful speaker, who brought almost everyone to tears. Afterwards a small catered get-together for friends and family at the house. A few days later burying of the urn in pouring rain at the cemetery - with only me and the professional bereavement speaker present. And that's it. 82 years gone, 51 in the same house. Furniture being sold, photos in the dumpster...."

Life Cycles

In astrology and in many religions (and in movies like "The Seven-Year Itch"!), "7 years" seems to be the accepted cycle for changes in one's life course. Lying in bed last night, I started going back over my life to see if that bit of "accepted wisdom" was true for me... For the most part it was, though I seem to be on more of an every-6-year cycle.

1965-1970. (Born to age 5.) Lived in Denison (TX), Portugal, Charleston, Iowa Park (TX). Despite all the moving, I don't remember feeling any emotional upheavals. OVERALL VIBE: Good.

1971-1976. (Age 6 to age 11.) Brother born in '71 (no real jealousy). Still lived in Iowa Park, then College Station (TX), Robbins Air Force Base (GA), then Iowa Park again. Parents fighting, Dad transfers to GA by himself (where we then follow him for just 9 months after he promises to act right; he doesn't) and then to the Philippines while the rest of us live back in Iowa Park. OVERALL VIBE: Mixed. Mostly bad when Dad is around, mostly good otherwise.

1977-1983. (Age 12 to age 18.) The Azle Years. Moved to Azle (TX) in '77. Parents divorced that year. Lots of drama/trauma before and after. Puberty. Plus I was always popular in school up until I moved here, but not after. I start getting crushes on girls around age 14 (start writing poetry around the same time), fall seriously in love, both sexually and mentally, with a girl (Ginny) my senior year of high school, leave her to go to college. OVERALL VIBE: Bad.

1983-1988. (Age 18 to age 23.) The UT-Austin Years. Bemoan the loss of Ginny during this whole time. (We see each other a few awkward times, but she has already found a new "best friend." Which doesn't stop me from missing her every single day.) Am knocked out by my poetry classes, but otherwise find the UT atmosphere emotionally harsh (mean, shallow frat boys and their women rule; overly crowded and impersonal classes; futile crushes on various girls (I'm not yet out of the closet); shallow personal friends until the very end of this period. I start partying heavily, neglecting school. OVERALL VIBE: Lost.

1988-1993. (Age 23 to age 28.) 1988---FINALLY, I meet some great friends in Austin, people that I actually love, Kathy and Kris. When they go home from school for the summer of '88 because their mother is dying of cancer, they invite me to come live with them. I drop out of UT, move back to the Ft. Worth area to be with them. Their mother dies, I fall in love with Kris, unreciprocated. I then find out that Ginny has just died. Move back to Austin, come out officially, meet my first girlfriend in '89. Bad, chaotic relationship. Break up in '91. Get my outward act together and finally graduate from UT in '93. Have serious affair with an older, married man, my boss. OVERALL VIBE: Complete chaos. Great highs and great lows.

1994-2000. (Age 29 to age 35). To shake myself up and try to get back on track and stabilized emotionally, move to San Francisco for grad school in 1994-1995. Get my grad degree, but absolutely hate the vibe of the town, don't make any friends. (Continue to call both my ex-girlfriend and the married guy.) Move back to Austin. From '96 to 2000, I go back to my old dead-end library job, get completely wasted at clubs 4 or more nights a week out of pure boredom. Chase after my ex-girlfriend and sleep with her one last time in 2000. ("Answered prayers"--ha!) OVERALL VIBE: More than lost.

2001-2006. (Age 35 to age 41). My mom buys me a computer for Christmas 2000, which opens up a whole new world of communication! I love the Internet! I don't feel the need to get wasted at clubs just to be around people...I really get off intellectually on talking to people who share my interests online. I also, in "real life," get a job I like at a publishing company, and make good friends there. And I settle down in a house that I rent from 2000-2007. (The longest I've ever lived in one place.) I finally feel "normal" after so many years in the desert! Plus, I start my Joan Crawford website in 2004, which has remained constantly stimulating. The only thing is... I'm still dreadfully restless. Could picture myself dying in that same house in Austin, having never done anything else with my life, wanted to at least TRY something else before I died... My Austin job gives me the opportunity to travel to NYC---I fall in love. OVERALL VIBE: Relatively good and healthy, thank you! Finally!

2007-the present. (Age 42 to ?). Moved to New York City in early 2007, just to be somewhere that I've always read about and admired from afar... I really do love the place, its energy. And trying to figure out how everything works here has been so stimulating for me! We'll see what happens! OVERALL VIBE: Anticipatory!

----------------------------------


I'd always read that a person's psyche was formed before the age of 5... Looking back at my own experiences, I'd have to disagree. I was fine up until age 5! It was age 12 through age 35 that was so horrible! :)

Thanksgiving '08

Let's see...what do I have to be thankful for over the past year...

BAD NEWS FIRST: Well, not to be mean to '08, but the year kind of sucked, frankly. January was spent sneaking around trying to find a place of my own without my roommate finding out. Feb/March/April were fine. (New apartment/good-paying job.)From late April 'til early November, though, I had no regular employment, was primarily on-call for crappy legal proofing jobs that paid somewhere around $13 an hour after taxes! (I probably could have made more as an overnight produce stocker at the Pathmark!) I did have a regular part-time job at a NYC newspaper for a few months (the bustle of the newsroom was pretty interesting), but the whole paper went bankrupt in late September and shut down completely. I had savings, but as they dwindled, I was too fearful of spending any money, so during those 6-odd months, I didn't see a movie, only bought one shirt, hardly ate out, couldn't buy anything for my sparsely furnished apartment... MIZ-RUH-BULL. (Geez, a lot of the fun in being ALIVE is being able to buy stuff! Just little spur-of-the-moment things like a book, a DVD, a pair of shoes, a candle, a cheap hat from a street vendor...)

NOW, WHAT I'M THANKFUL FOR: New job! New job! New job! New job! Whew! I just started 2 weeks ago. Like my job last year, it's only a project position (which means they may have nothing for me to do when the time period for the project is over next year, and I may be let go then), but... at least it's many months of breathing space and not worrying about rent and having the ability to buy clothes again AND, #1 on my list---a new computer!! God bless the 2000 model I have now---it survived being mailed from Austin to NYC, it survived being repaired after a mover tumped it over off of a dolly... It's been a good friend to me, but... oh, lordy, I can't wait to play with the speedy new models (and look at a humongous flat screen monitor and do PhotoShop!!).

#2 on my list---a new couch. I don't EVER want to sit on my saggy, draggy, stained futon again! I'm moving that thing to the guest-room, dammit, so any guests can have the saggy, draggy, stained thing all to themselves! :)

I also need a better TV, rugs, a dinette set for the kitchen, a chair/ottoman/coffee table for the living-room, neat eBay lamps for all rooms of the house...but most of those can all wait 'til after I get hired permanently somewhere. For the time being, just the computer and the sofa, please!

I'm also thankful for being able to get in touch with some old acquaintances this year, putting a few old memories to rest (plus putting a couple of more recent "memories" to rest). Believe it or not, I don't think there's anyone left out there from my past that I haven't somehow resolved things with one way or another, at least in MY mind. THAT is the biggest, most valuable blessing of all---a cleansed emotional palate. Geez, the years I've spent bemoaning this, that, or the other... And I'm sure I'll be bemoaning a few things in years to come. But for right here, right now... The past is settled, the future awaits.

(p.s. THANK YOU, GOD, FOR EVERYTHING!! You keep pulling stuff out of your bag o' tricks at the last second, just to keep things interesting!) :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sarah Palin fans

In the "Blogger Profiles" on this site, you can add a list of things to your "Interests" section. Just recently I added "Sarah Palin." And then went and clicked on "Sarah Palin" to find others who have also listed her, and what THEIR other interests were... Oh lordy. Most of the "Interests" that I saw included stuff like:

conservative views
Jesus
fair tax
GOP
Ann Coulter
being a wife
pro-life
family
TJMaxx
real estate

(OK, there were occasionally also the much more interesting "interracial porn," "public toilets," and "love bites"... but those were by far in the minority.)

Needless to say, it's somewhat disturbing to me to be lumped in with fans of "being a wife" and "TJMaxx"! (While I'm not an aficionado of public toilets, somehow that seems much less bizarre!)

So why do I like Palin?

I think I first hooked into her when I heard her say at her convention speech, re Obama, that "where I come from, people don't talk one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco." Referring to Obama's attempts at being folksy in PA and subsequent mocking, while appearing in SF, of people who owned guns and believed in god. I'd been a Hillary fan in the primaries and couldn't quite put a finger on why I didn't exactly loooooove Obama like everyone else seemed to... Palin got it down. (Congrats to the guy for being so smooth and having such a wonderful speaking style, and I actually do think he'll be a good, smart, very competent president. But I don't necessarily like "smooth"---much prefer Bill Clinton's weirdness.)

Secondly, as with my idol Joan Crawford, I, as a feminist, greatly admire Palin for making something of herself while coming from humble beginnings. Her advances in public life were based on merit...up until the VP pick, that is! (She, admittedly, was out of her element, but only because she had not spent years studying the intricacies of national issues in preparation for a national run for office, as Obama had. His experience was actually less than hers, yet he'd prepped himself thoroughly since being elected to the Senate in 2004, expressly for a presidential run. Palin's knocked for being "dumb," but in areas that she was responsible for while governor, she was extremely well-versed.)

The New York media gave her so much shit for attending "5 public universities"---gasp! While my own undergrad career was spent at only one of the dread "public universities," I didn't think twice about Palin trying out various schools in Idaho and Hawaii, just to experiment.

And, coming from Texas, I'm also comfortable with people who hunt, are pro-life, and are religious. I don't like people who hunt for sport, who are anti-female in their abortion views, who use religion to discriminate against gay people or anyone else... I personally am anti-hunting-for-sport, pro-choice, and anti-organized religion (while being somewhat spiritual). Yet I think of Palin like I think of Mike Huckabee---honest folks who stick to their beliefs, regardless of the political winds. (Unlike, say, the completely phony Mitt Romney.) And who don't let their own personal views interfere with their governing. Contrary to popular belief, Palin never attempted to ban a single book at the Wasilla library or attempted to limit abortion rights in Alaska. And if she and her family hunt for food, to me that's a lot better than the rest of us cowards who just buy our meat in the supermarket without working for it.

Working for the weekend (finally!)

No, I'm not going to post the cheesy Loverboy video! :)

After a week at my new job, I finally got the commute to and from whittled down to a manageable 1-1/2 hours each way (down from a numbing 3 hours!). Still rather insane, and tiring, but at least...manageable.

As soon as I got home from work on Friday afternoon, rather than celebrating the fact that I didn't have to get up at 6am the next day by staying up late and drinking, I instead immediately crashed on my couch at about 8pm. I woke up for a couple of hours around 5am (and watched a teen movie "Drive Me Crazy" on HBO---they only gave it one star, but I ended up getting into it; I'd give it 2-1/2! HBO also gave LiLo's "Georgia Rule" one star---again, I liked that: another 2-1/2), then went back to sleep and didn't wake up again until 11am...

It felt so good for a Saturday to finally MEAN something again!

My last full-time job ended last April and since then I'd been temping, working random hours (or else working nights for a few months at a NY newspaper that went out of business soon after I was hired!). I was always lying around the house for at least 3 or 4 or 5 random days a week, sometimes staying up 'til 9am or later, bored out of my head, unable to really go anywhere or do anything (or buy anything) for fear of draining my savings before I found a new job... The uncertainty of it was horrible! And all the days blended into each other; there was no distinction between a "work-day" and a "weekend," since I was always on call for the temp jobs.

So, after a full week of real work-days and lengthy commuting...the joy of the contrast of sleeping in 'til 11am on a Saturday and then jumping up filled with energy and the excitement of going into Manhattan for a haircut and some clothes-shopping!

I didn't even think a thing of walking the Chelsea streets in the 26-degree weather today---very brisk winter weather (unusual in November for NYC)...I love it! I've always felt sluggish in warm weather, was always depressed in Austin when it was 80 degrees at Thanksgiving (a time for earth-toned sweaters and corduroys, definitely NOT for T-shirts and shorts!). Not to mention the solid 4 months in Austin of 90-degree-plus temperatures (June through September). With another 2 months of 80-plus thrown in for good measure (May + October/into November). I'll definitely grant Austin March and April for being gorgeous and sweet, but that's it! My own nature is definitely much more atuned to the four definite seasons of the Northeast. Said nature is also much more atuned to working a full-time job!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"I just hate when the girl says wait, wait, wait..."

I hadn't thought of this 1976 KISS song, "Makin' Love," in ages, at least since I was in junior high and bought their "Rock and Roll Over" album.

Last night, though, I had a long, convoluted dream with dozens of segments. In one of them, this song was loudly, vividly playing (though I can't remember what visual went with it...). Whatever the subconscious meaning, one thing is clear: KISS fuckin' rocks!! I was getting pumped up just re-listening to it right now!

In a sidenote, at the very end of the dream, just before my alarm went off, I was watching Joan Crawford dramatically pull a purple bedsheet off the bed, to the protests of several onlookers. (Joan defiantly told them, with that stubborn look on her face, "It's MY goddamn sheet and I'll take it if I want to." THIS song wasn't playing then, but the correlation seems apropos!) :)


All Play and No Work

I started a new job on Monday, sharing a large room with 3 other women, all from Joisey. Today, I laughed harder than I've laughed in ages...

Someone in the hall outside of our room said loudly to someone else, "You scared the crap out of me!" At which one office-mate yelled, "Should we call the janitor?"

And this started off the other office-mate telling us about the time she taught a small group of 5-year-olds... One was sick and started to throw up...which made the kid next to that kid start to gag, which made the kid next to him start to gag, in a chain reaction all around the circle they were sitting in! And then the woman said they all started complaining loudly, "It smells!" The woman said she was trying to be comforting and rub their backs, etc., when what she really wanted to do was throw up herself and yell, "It smells!" ;p

And then someone made the mistake of opening up the MSNBC website... The main headline was about a boyfriend who was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend with a sandwich... The sub-head read, "Police Won't Reveal If It Was a Club Sandwich."

Gawd, we must have been cackling for a half-hour! ;p

So anyway, I like my job and the people, but the commute is ungodly---last night it took me 3 HOURS to get home!!! Not 'cause it's so far away, but just because of all the traffic. It was nightmarish.

I do prefer working in Manhattan, not just because of the far shorter commute, but because of being able to step outside...and just being on the streets of Manhattan! Grabbing a bite for lunch, doing some lunchtime shoe-shopping, running to the post office. My place now is a huge corporate building (called "The Compound") out in the suburbs. 3000 people work there! (My whole hometown of Azle had 5000 people!) The building has its own humongous cafeteria, vendors set up in a huge lobby selling gew-gaws, a convenience/card/candy shop... All very nice, but for me, having no car, I'm trapped there all day, unable to do anything but stay in the building (or step outside for a smoke---but at my last job in Manhattan, when I stepped outside for a smoke, I'd see Elvis Costello and Diana Krall walking by! No danger of that here!)

Part of me is definitely grumbling, "Goddammit, I didn't move to NYC to not be in NYC!" But this job is pleasant and pays well...and it's a JOB! So I'm not grumbling too much. At some point, though, I'm going to have to find something back in Manhattan. The suburbs depress me, which is mainly why I left Austin. (Yes, it's a CITY of 500,000, but most of it feels suburban.) It sounds cliche, but I really do get a huge jolt of energy whenever I'm walking around Manhattan. There's a constant buzz on the streets there. I can be in a completely shitty mood and immediately get lifted out of it by all of the activity and lights and smells. ("It smells!") ;p

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

RIP: Tante Barbel

My German aunt Barbel died last week. She was 82. The very first female dentist in her town of Braunschweig in the 1950s (there was controversy at the time between her and the one other, male, dentist in their town). The last time I saw her was in 1983. She spoke primarily German, so I couldn't communicate with her very well, but I remember her friendly eyes and expression and manner, and her group of friends that I was too scared to interact with.

Her house was beautiful. Back in the '50s, she'd married an architect, and he'd designed their home that she lived in for the rest of her life. (The stairs upwards were wooden, and separated. My aunt's beloved collie-dog Harris once slipped on them...after that, he would never attempt to go upstairs to sleep with her in her bedroom.)

I never knew the architect-uncle. At some point in the early '60s, he had an affair and, torn between his wife and his lover, parked his car out in a field and shot himself.

My aunt's daughter, Susie, also died young, in her early 20s, from severe complications from asthma. She was always nice to me, and, funnily, the last time I was there with my six-year-old brother, her boyfriend got jealous of the attention she paid my six-year-old brother! He sulked every time she'd play with him!

The husband and Susie are already buried next to each other. My aunt didn't leave any burial instructions, but they'll all three now be reunited.

Election Day in Weehawken

Congratulations to our new President, Barack Obama! I didn't vote for him, but...I'm extremely happy for our country---what a thrilling, goosebump-raising moment in history! (And an end to 8 long, depressing years of utter incompetence.)

Here are a few shots I took while walking around my Weehawken 'hood on election day. (Click to enlarge. If only to see the head in the back of the neighbor's car!)
(1) View from my porch.
(2) My polling place. I voted around 3pm, and there was no line at all.
(3) and (4) Some of my neighbors' exhortations to VOTE! :)
(5) Union house.
Plus a few campaign stickers.


















Friday, October 31, 2008

Julie London: The Good Life

They've been playing this as the background for a British Airways commercial lately. Which reminds me---I haven't been working on my London website for way over a year now. Joan sucks up all the time and attention! (Of course.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'd love to turn you on

Dusty doing her 1969 hit "Son of a Preacher Man" in 1979, at the Royal Albert Hall.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dusty Springfield: Wishin' and Hopin'

Look, especially, at the cutaways. She's amazing! (Note to ex-lover Carole Pope: If Dusty Springfield wanted to drag her drunk ass home at 6 a.m.... OK, some people should get a little slack just because they're...DUSTY SPRINGFIELD!) ;)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oak Trees

This afternoon I had a hard nap---a really hard sleep with some hard dreams. I was back in Azle, Texas, where I lived from 1976 to 1983. In real life, we had some land there, with a pond, a creek, acres of oak trees.

In the part of the dream I remember, I was out in the woods, looking at oak tree after oak tree. All were huge and ancient. And one stood there with a pink garland of flowers around it. I stood there in front of it, staring and staring, trying to understand what it was trying to tell me. Something of meaning had happened on that site. I felt it, but couldn't get a grasp of what exactly.

Even as I write this, I still see those oaks. The silence of those oaks. Honestly, I think that I was dead while I was looking at them. I don't understand. I certainly have no conscious desire to be buried or to have my ashes scattered in Azle when I die. And, while I spent many, many hours out in those woods by myself when I was young... Oh. That's it, I guess. Some kind of imprinting. It was a very lonesome and desolate feeling. I don't know that I'd be happy there as a ghost. It would be familiar to me, but I don't think that I would be happy. Spooking squirrels and lost kids and leaves.

Awkward Moments in Lesbian Lore

"Can't seem to get a hold of your love.../I'm sick of being submissive when I really want to scream..."

Dusty Springfield appearing at ex-lover Carole Pope's farewell show in Montreal, 1986. (Pope's band was "Rough Trade"---apparently, according to her biography, very big in Canada. Pope and Springfield lived together for about 6 months in 1981. This Montreal show was the last time they ever saw each other. Springfield died of cancer in 1999.)

In Pope's 2000 bio, she remembers a fire backstage just prior to Dusty's going on, then Dusty's appearance as "relaxed...We started joking and it was all sexual innuendo. I said, 'Who's gonna be on top?' Dusty said, 'I'll be on top, no you be on top.'"

The song that Dusty sings, "Softcore," is beautiful.

But afterwards, rather than "relaxed," I find the "banter" between Pope and Springfield not sexy or playful at all, but, rather, uncomfortably tense, with Pope glaring at her. The "who's on top" comments come after some awkward stage maneuvering and awkward jokes about whose hair is bigger ("your hair's bigger than mine, time to leave the stage") and who wrote the song that Dusty just sang...

All of this, combined with the fact that 1986 shoulder-pads and big hair just are not attractive, makes me cringe! (Though, in Dusty's defense for looking bad at age 47, and acting weird, she hadn't yet sobered up.) I'm also not a big fan of Pope after reading her biography---though she's a Leo, like me, and I've yet to meet a Leo I didn't like, she comes across as rather shallow. Plus, in general, I hate that extremely annoying "butch act." My vote: Team Dusty.)


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Rose-Colored Glasses

John Conlee, 1979. "These rose-colored glasses show only the beauty..."

I miss this kind of sentiment from a man. I've been in the Northeast for a year-and-a-half now... Southerners are definitely more soulful and expressive... (Nonetheless, I still like butch Jersey men! Shout-out to my gentlemanly cab-driver Tony from Wednesday!) :)

My sister-in-law once said to me that she couldn't understand how two women could ever get along as lovers---all of the ongoing angst and neuroses, etc., with nothing to counter it. I must say I agree. I don't know that a "good ol' boy" would be a better solution, but at least such would be simpler...


Sunday, October 12, 2008

"I close my eyes and count to ten..."

Wow! I was looking for Dusty singing this, and instead came across Anni-Frid's much-more-powerful Swedish version:

Dusty Springfield: Sunny (1967)

I've always hated this song. What I like a lot about Dusty's version here, though, is...first, her intro! How cute is she! And then, compare and contrast the initial "cute" with her voice in the actual song, when she goes all "sophisticated woman" and "drivingly interpretive" on your unsuspecting, sluggish ass! :)


Dusty Springfield: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

Who people watch onscreen

from the September 2008 New Yorker:

"Years ago a scientific study, which electronically tracked eyeball movement, demonstrated that, during the showing of a motion picture, the eyes of the men in the audience followed the women on the screen. But so did the eyes of the women."

The Snarky New Yorker

It pains me to write this, after loving and subscribing to the New Yorker for over 15 years.

In the October 13 issue, the magazine carried an article by James Wood called "Verbage," in which he mocks Sarah Palin for allegedly mis-using the English language.

In my 15 years of subscribing to the New Yorker, I've never written a letter, but here's my first, which I just sent in tonight:

--------------------------------------------------
I've got several problems with the ridiculously snide "Verbage" article "authored" by James Wood, in which he mocks Sarah Palin's use of the English language.

First, why does Wood insist on putting "authored" in quotes, as if Palin had made the word up or was using it incorrectly? The two reputable English-language dictionaries that I double-checked both included "to author" as a verb, with the definition being "to write."

Similarly, the same two dictionaries each listed an acceptable pronunciation of the word "verbiage" as "verb-ij" (as Palin pronounced it). While "verb-ee-ij" is more common, "verb-ij" is also correct; I'm puzzled as to why Wood would think that Palin was making up a new word, "verbage," in her pronunciation.

Finally, Wood snarkily (in the dictionary as an "informal" word) excoriates Palin for her "hazy phrases" such as "I do take issue with some of the principle there with that redistribution of wealth principle that seems to be espoused by you." Here Wood deliberately deletes the dash that should indicate the pause in speech that Palin actually made. Insert the dash where it should be, after "there," and the sentence reads perfectly clearly. (I experimented with mentally deleting the dashes in Wood's own sentences in the article; they, too, were thus reduced to "haziness" and open to ridicule.)

Such ill-founded criticism doesn't hurt Palin with non-ideologues; it just makes Wood look like he's playground-taunting rather than pointing out actual flaws.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Speaking of Dusty...

Performing her first solo hit; on Dutch TV, 1964.



(BTW: The Bay City Rollers re-did this in '76---my first favorite band, the first song I ever heard of theirs.)

"She Loves You": Bouncy Brits vs. Sluggish Swedes

Here's the goosebump-raising Brit TV version, on "Ready, Steady, Go!" Introduced by the gay (nearly-my-girlfriend) Dusty Springfield making eyes at my boyfriend John Lennon (followed up by a discussion of Brigitte Bardot and dialectical materialism---really, I don't make this shit up).



And then here's the song again on Swedish TV's "Drop In" (where the only person moving is the always-exuberant Paul McCartney). These kids couldn't even get it up for the following rave-up "Twist and Shout" while the group was standing 6 inches away from them! Thank goodness the group went to Hamburg and not Stockholm to practice! (Sometimes it's good when Germans get excited.):

Monday, October 06, 2008

1974. Dolly Parton on "Hee-Haw."

Before anyone camp got ahold of her. This always was a beautiful, sincere song. (Whitney fucked it up with her shrieking. Just as the drag queens fuck up Dolly with their own shrieking. Here's Dolly in her original country element, with the song she herself wrote, before being "interpreted.")




p.s. An interesting side-note: Elvis wanted to record the song, but he demanded a 50% ownership of it. Dolly refused. Way to go, girl!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Not-so-clean Sweep

This afternoon I was in the grocery store shopping for fall gew-gaws and doo-dads like pumpkins and such, since the weather was so perfect and crisp and I was in the mood for making my apartment look and smell "fall and crisp." There was a mutedly colorful fall flower bouquet marked down from $9.99 to $3.99, which I snatched up. And a scented decorative pine broom in the $2.99 pile o' fall things... (Yeah, like hell. It turned out to actually be $5.99.)

While I was waiting in the checkout line with my delightful figurative cornucopeia o' fall delights, the aging male hippie in front of me started getting bored and looking around... He glanced back at me, then glanced at my pine broom. Then couldn't stop glancing the fuck back at the broom, to the point of finally sticking his face up against it to sniff it, at which point he had gone too far and was forced to acknowledge my human presence.

[nod]
[nod]
What is that exactly?
It's a broom.
A broom? What do you do with it?
I fly around on it.
[ha-ha look, then] No really.
Really, I fly around on it!
[blank look]
OK, I sweep my house with it.
[blank look] Do you really sweep your house with it?
No! Please. It's a SCENTED broom. It's fall. It smells like fall. You stick it in a corner of your house and it smells good and makes you think of fall.
Oh, OK.[a few beats of silence, then] I just asked 'cause a lady came to my door yesterday and asked to cut some of the herbs we had growing in front. I said "sure," and then she told me she was a witch. I don't know why she told me that. But my wife does like to burn incense in the house to make it smell good.
I hope you told the witch, Help yourself, lady!
[haw-haw]

Then, mutual chit-chat about "witches" and "household scents" and the holidays and the upcoming cold weather. At the end, I promised to "fly over" to visit him.

This kind of thing can be cute... or it can tire you the fuck out!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Are You Experienced? / Wall vs. Main Street

Obama supporters have been hyping Obama as the "next JFK."

JFK as compared to Barack Obama, service-wise:

JFK:

1941-45: a lieutenant in the Navy in WWII, and a war hero.

1947-52: a US congressman.

1952-1957: a US Senator
1958: Re-elected Senator. Elected President in 1960.

JFK had 14 years of national experience: 6 in the House, 8 in the Senate before he decided to run for the presidency.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Barack Obama:

1997 - 2004: Illinois State Senate. (During this time, Obama also taught at the University of Chicago and worked for a Chicago law firm.)

2004: Obama elected to the US Senate. He declares for President 2 years later.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Sarah Palin:

1992: Wasilla City Council (4 years)
1996: Wasilla Mayor (6 years)
2003 - 2004: Chair of Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
2006: Elected Alaska Governor.

----------------------------------------------------------------

I don't care how well-spoken Obama is or how nervous Palin is when speaking. Obama's less experienced than Sarah Palin when it comes to actually being in charge of anything. Though, Obama thought about running for president for a lot longer than she did, and so he has a lot more sound-bites at his disposal. The man has simply not put in his time and/or accomplished anything to warrant his being President. (I'll admit that Palin isn't particularly qualified to be President, either. However, the difference between Obama and Palin is that Palin is the VP choice---she didn't run for President, didn't presume to be at that level. McCain chose her for VP, so now she's cramming to catch up and rise to the occasion.)

Obama, on the other hand, himself decided that he was qualified. But, legislatively, he's been at the forefront of nothing and has contributed nothing nationally. In fact, he's been rather a well-spoken intellectual burden.

RE this current economic mess, for instance: John McCain warned about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and their need for regulation years ago (in 2003 and 2005). At the same time, Obama was busy promoting, via the ACORN community-organizer group (which he once worked for in Chicago and maintains ties with), the cause of banks helping underqualified (i.e. "poor") buyers to purchase homes.

Who all do you think has been unable to make their house payments? The Obama Poor. The other part of the problem: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac took up said poor-and-minorities' loans earlier after pressure from the Democrats. Greedy banks then thought, "Well, the sub-prime loans are guaranteed by the government, so we can gamble on them." As someone on CNBC today pointed out, for every $1 in actual capital, the banks were $100 in debt because of those extremely risky loans. The common-sense ratio---had things been regulated---should have been much more like $1 capital to $10 debt. And then when the credit risks couldn't make their mortgage payments--surprise!--the banks were screwed. And I don't mean "slightly" screwed---they were and are screwed to the point of major institutions shutting down and threatening every type of loan most middle Americans once took for granted: ranging from something as minor as a car loan, to something middling like a college loan, to something major like a home or business loan. The money ... just ... ain't ... there ... any ... more.

Why? The ACORN-lobbied/liberal Democrat-supported high-risk house loans to the poor. And the banks' willingness to lend to high-risk borrowers just because the government said, via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that it was OK.

None of this is OK.

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Ivory Tower Intellectuals" and Sarah Palin

Back in the '50s and '60s in the U.S., it used to be popular for "regular folks" (and conservatives from Southern and Midwestern and Western states) to sling around charges of being an "ivory tower intellectual" at, say, presidential candidates like Adlai Stevenson, or powerful East Coast media sources like the New York Times that were perceived to be "snooty" or out-of-touch with common-sense realities. Nowadays, the "ivory tower" moniker has been replaced with the simpler "elitist." Still flung at candidates (Obama) and the Times.

It's a defensive, insecure charge, admittedly. (Trying to denigrate something that, while it may indeed be "hoity-toity," is also still obviously of quality.) Yet this name-calling came about of necessity---the nationwide media really was, as it still is (though less-so, thanks to the Internet), centered in the Northeast, and it really was, and is, run primarily by men who had attended Ivy League schools and who all tended to have a certain mind-set about how things should be run, and who looked down on "lesser educated" folk from other "backward" (i.e., "non-Northeastern") parts of the country. Who wouldn't be offended by being so sneered at and belittled? Who wouldn't fight back? (Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan, to name a few politicians. Though the "fighting back" didn't reach its apotheosis of skill until the Reagan-era.)

As I've mentioned on this blog before, I've always voted Democrat since I first was old enough to vote (1984). As a teen and college student, I always mocked those who mocked the "ivory tower intellectuals" as being, yes... "backward." As a kid not yet out in the world, their charges of "elitism" and "bias" seemed ludicrous, nothing but noise made by those who felt inferior.

However, this fall cycle of the 2008 election has made me re-think my earlier dismissal of those who criticized the "elite" for their bias. Since Sarah Palin was announced as McCain's running mate, the media first tried desperately to find mis-deeds during her term as Alaska governor. All they could come up with was "Trooper-gate"---Palin allegedly trying to fire her ex-brother-in-law because he'd tasered his 11-year-old stepson, illegally shot a moose, drank on the job, and threatened to shoot his father-in-law in the head.

When the idiotic "Trooper-gate" didn't pan out, the onslaught of the "elite" media attention quickly turned to idiotic things like: (1) Palin didn't go to "elite" schools like Obama did; and (2) Palin didn't even get a passport until last year. (Implying, "What a rube!")

Katie Couric, in an interview this week on CBS, asked Palin directly about the passport question, wondering if Palin didn't even "feel some curiosity about other cultures." Palin's simple response struck a chord with me: She said that, while she would have liked to have travelled to other countries as a youth, she just never had the money to do so, nor did her family have the money to let her do so. (And, as she got older, she had a family to take care of.)

I personally have a current passport, so this ridiculous "charge" could not be levelled against me. But I have a passport because my mother is German, and I'm a dual citizen of Germany and the U.S. (The four times I've been to Germany have been because my mother paid for it.) If it weren't for that, I would be exactly in Sarah Palin's position of having to defend myself against charges of "not feeling any curiosity about other cultures" (regardless of how much curiosity I actually felt) just because I'd been too poor for most of my life to be able to afford a summer, or a vacation, in Europe.

For the media to make constant snide comments about Palin's lack of travel was, indeed, an example of "elitism" and snobbery at its very worst. (Reminding me, also, of my one college interview---In the spring of my senior year, I'd already been accepted at UT-Austin; the only other school I'd applied to was Yale. At the Yale interview at an alumnus's office in Fort Worth (I can't remember the man's face, but I remember the incredibly thick carpets in his office), the rich businessman asked me where I'd "vacationed summers" during my high school years... "Um, I've been working at K-Mart the last two summers to earn money for college." Ouch! Obviously not Yale material! ;p

As for Palin's "crap state schools": As a graduate of one of the top universities in the world (#32 by this ranking, and ranked 15th by the London Times), I'm darn proud of UT, yet I also know that I just went there because I was a smart Texas local, and UT made it relatively cheap for smart locals to go to school there. Palin grew up in Alaska, tried out Hawaii and Idaho schools, finally graduating from Idaho State, I think. Did she not go on to an "elite" school like Columbia because she wasn't smart? Probably not the reason. She probably wasn't able to go to such schools because her grandparents didn't pay her way to an expensive liberal arts "starter school" (like Obama's grandparents paid for his Occidental College education). Nor was she eligible for any race-based admissions to schools such as Columbia. (Obama himself said that his grades at Occidental weren't good. How, then, did he ever get admitted to Columbia?)

I think denigrating Palin for what schools she went to, or the status of her passport, are completely ludicrous, and desperate, criteria. The "ivory tower intellectuals" have learned to bitch-and-moan with their "lesser" citizens.

And a final note about the complete bias against Palin in the media: This week, Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden claimed on the CBS Evening News, re the financial crisis: "When the stock market crashed, FDR got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'" Only trouble is: (1) The stock market last crashed in 1929---when Herbert Hoover, not FDR, was President. (2) Television didn't make an appearance until 1939.

I saw two snippets in papers about Biden's stupid comments. Imagine what a huge blow-up it would have been if Palin had said such a dumb thing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Humans' desire to know

In real-life, who can you stare at with impunity/immunity, without feeling weird or having to look away? Only babies and little kids.

Aside from that, we're absolutely starved for being able to watch our fellow human beings. Just as we're starved for being able to have some insight into what strangers are thinking.

Thus the invention and power of the movies. And of blogs. Both enable you to look and look and look, without being judged yourself.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bowing Before the Goddess of Good Hair

One reason I like Sarah Palin:

"Sarah Palin, a commercial fisherman from Wasilla, told her husband on Tuesday she was driving to Anchorage to shop at Costco. Instead, she headed straight for Ivana. And there, at J.C. Penney's cosmetic department, was Ivana, the former Mrs. Donald Trump, sitting at a table next to a photograph of herself. She wore a light-colored pantsuit and pink fingernail polish. Her blonde hair was coiffed in a bouffant French twist. 'We want to see Ivana,' said Palin, who admittedly smells like salmon for a large part of the summer, 'because we are so desperate in Alaska for any semblance of glamour and culture.'" [Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), 4/3/96]



Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sister Sarah



This whole thing is hilarious. I love seeing "Mr. Cool" Obama freaking out on the trail, stooping to creepy "lipstick on a pig" comments---then the Harvard Law grad, usually so sure of his language, denying he had any idea of his comment's connotations.

His camp's highly disturbed and frazzled because he's no longer the "hot new thing."

I don't know why I'm feeling so gleeful about Palin's current upsurgence. Maybe it's left-over bitterness about the Obama/Hillary campaign. Hillary, the stalwart, run over by the new guy who had nothing to say but the slogan, "Change." (When, in fact, as Hillary herself said in one of the interminable debates, she'd been working for change for 35 years.) And then Obama's support for federal wiretapping. And his campaigning against NAFTA in Michigan earlier this year while secretly telling Canadian officials he was for it. And his snarky comments to a San Francisco crowd that working-class America was just clinging to "religion and guns," or somesuch. (As Palin aptly said in her convention speech: "Where most of us come from, we don't talk one way in Scranton, PA, and another way in San Francisco." Amen, sister.)

I've voted Democrat since I was first able to vote. Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry.

And I've always mocked people who claimed to not be able to make up their minds so close to election day.

But I'm honestly torn. Obama's stances are ideal. I'd vote for him in a second if I thought he meant what he said. But he doesn't, as the NAFTA and wiretapping instances demonstrate. And it's true that he's little more than a showboat: First elected to the US Senate in 2004, he began his campaign for President only a year later.

And he mocks Palin for being governor of Alaska for only 18 months. (As I mentioned before, she's made many more executive decisions that she's directly accountable for and that affected her citizens than Obama's ever made. And her approval rating is 80% in her state.)

That said, it's not PALIN vs. Obama. If you compare McCain vs. Obama, there's also a huge disparity in the quality of decision-making. McCain, as Senator, was, and is, a true legislator---major attempts at finance reform, immigration reform. Obama, on the other hand, hasn't done a thing other than talk a good game and hype himself. McCain's visually an old, stiff geezer, but at least he has an actual record of serving his country, whether physically (as a POW) or legislatively (in the Senate). Obama, on the other hand, has done nothing so far, other than, as Hillary Clinton said, "give a good speech in 2002."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Cute!




Lindsay and Samantha Ronson at Fashion Week this week in NYC. (p.s. I walked by the famous "fashion week" tent set up in Bryant Park today... It looks really tiny from the outside! There were lots of media trucks parked on the surrounding streets, and lots of people milling about in the surrounding park...but "Bryant Park" itself is very small---just a block wide---and the famous tent only takes up maybe a quarter of it. As I was walking by the outskirts, I looked and looked for Lindsay, or ANY famous person for that matter, but alas, did not see!) ;p

Seeing pictures of "Lindsay and Sam," though, just put me in a good mood in general. There's so much "trendy lesbo stuff" in the media---oh, like "Madonna-and-Britney-kissing!" or the "edgy" "I Kissed a Girl" song! Etc. Etc. Blah. It's mostly manufactured and annoying fake kid stuff, posing as lesbians just to get some attention.

I like seeing Lindsay and Samantha Ronson pictures because they usually look like they're actually having a good time together---either laughing at something, or making weird faces, or holding each other, or just looking mutually blankly at the camera like, "WHAT do you want?" They're not posing for anything. They're just together.

Which is actually pretty big psychological news for everyone else watching: It's not like "goofy Ellen" or "butchy Rosie" or "butchy Melissa"---- I don't know that there's a big "announcement" necessary for the media, since what LL and SR are to each other is pretty evident. As it should be.

The two have also been pretty active on their blogs lately, which is interesting to see, since celebs don't usually put themselves out there for others to comment on, blog-wise! Their messages intertwine emotionally. When they've been apart, they miss each other. And one big thing in the past couple of days has been Lindsay's dad, Michael, acting up in public, claiming that Samantha is only with Lindsay because she wants to write a book (!). I love both of their honest responses on their blogs to his asshole-ness and cluelessness. (And I also like seeing their music choices for the day or hour. Like real teenagers on a real blog!)

Here's Lindsay's real blog link:

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.ListAll&friendID=29730276

And here's one of her songs for Samantha:



(How lucky she is to put her emotions out there and not be stomped on as a result... She's got a woman who loves her.)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sarah Barracuda



I've never looooooved Barack Obama during this long campaign season. In fact, I rather disliked him during his primary contests against Hillary. (One debate moment stood out in my mind, when Hillary angrily said something like, "You've been talking about change, but I've been WORKING for change for 35 years!" Amen, Sister. Same thing when Hillary made the point during a press conference that both she and John McCain had experience, but Obama had... a speech he made in 2002.)

After Obama won the contest, I was convinced I was going to vote for him. I'd heard silly reports on the news that "feminists" were "disgruntled" and were going to go over to McCain's side because they felt that Hillary had been disrespected. I never felt that she had been disrespected. I did feel the loss was IFFY---Close as it was, for instance, had it been 1984, the Party Regulars would have wrangled the Super Delegate votes for Hillary, and she would have been the nominee. (In '84, Gary Hart won late big-delegate contests like California; he could have been a contender had not the party tamped him down.)

Though I'm a Hillary fan, I was still ready to get on the Obama Bandwagon, especially after last week's convention spectacle. Obama's speech, in particular, was more than "just" a spectacle. I listened aptly. I got chills. Yes, things DO need to change...

And then came the following week's announcement of Sarah Palin as John McCain's vice presidential nominee... Upon first attention, I thought, "I absolutely hate this 'hockey mom' shit. She's just another Dan Quayle. What in the hell was John McCain thinking?" And I hated even worse what I thought was going to be the inane focus on family: "She's a mom! With a SPECIAL NEEDS child!" And then came the pregnant daughter news, which made me recoil even more: "This is a fucking white trash nightmare---how much worse can you get? A retarded kid AND a knocked-up teenager? Jesus H. Christ, I do NOT want to have to listen to her cutesy 'And here are my kids Trig, Trap, Snatch, Patch, Snig, Snog, and Boogely' for the next 2 months!"

Luckily, her speech Thursday night at the Republican Convention wasn't cutesy or stupid for more than, oh, 30 seconds or so. After the "My husband is World Champion of...glkfhlsjkhdflk," (what the fuck? snow-mobiling or something?), she got into her main points: "Barack Obama authored 2 memoirs, but never a single piece of legislation." And the fact that, even as mayor of a tiny town in Alaska (Wasilla, 9,000), she still had to make more actual decisions than Obama ever had to make. (She also wondered aloud what exactly a "community organizer" did. I watched an MSNBC doc on Obama that touted his "community organizing" skills. From what I garnered from the program, his sole accomplishment was that he called attention to asbestos in one apartment complex. And then when it took 3 years to get the problem fixed, he got discouraged and decided to go back to law school.)

Listening to Palin's speech made me embarrassed for both Barack Obama and myself (for supporting him). The guy voted "Present" (rather than "Yea" or "Nay") an embarrassing number of times while both in the Illinois State Senate and in the US Senate. Obviously trying to protect himself and avoid any clear-cut stance that would come to haunt him in a later campaign. As the attack-dog Giuliani also pointed out in his speech Thursday, an executive has to be able to make tough decisions. Voting "Present" to protect one's political hide and appease potential voters isn't anywhere near good or bold enough.

In short, listening to Palin made me understand that the woman was hands-on INVOLVED in her community. She'd grown up there. She became a member of the town's PTA, tried for the city council, tried for mayor... Later tried for governor of the entire state.

What, on the other hand, did Obama ever do for his community? Travelled briefly through the "South Side of Chicago" before deciding to ditch the struggle and go to Harvard? (Then, after Harvard, upon coming back to Chicago, he won his State Senate seat by getting his opponent---a black woman, a supposed friend and mentor of his, and a longtime member of the community---kicked off the ballot on a technicality.)

Barack Obama has not earned a thing. (He has, on the other hand, FINAGLED and talked his way into quite a few things.) Hillary tried to argue this point, but she was hampered by the fact that she herself had only come to prominence as a result of her husband.

Sarah Palin, brief as her career thus far has been, is a self-made woman. And her arguments for John McCain (and watching McCain's convention speech tonight) made me re-evaluate what I thought was my solid support for a Democrat (any Democrat) this year.

Aside from McCain's unmatched physical service to our country, he actually does also have a long legislative history as a senator, working with Democrats Feingold and Lieberman, among others, on issues of campaign finance reform, immigration reform, judicial reform. He didn't always get his way, but the man TRIED, in an ongoing nonpartisan way. Not in "sexy" fields assured to garner press attention, but rather, for the sake of good government.

It took Palin and her convention speech to shake me out of my "of course I'm voting for Obama, I've always voted Democrat" lethargy and to make me THINK for a second.



(My old friend Ginny, who loved Heart, would also love the fact that the Republicans played "Barracuda" at their convention, in honor of Palin. Hi, Gin!) :)