Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Not Imprisoned

Oh dear. I have not evaporated, been imprisoned or joined a survivalist camp in northern Montana. I've just been ignoring my blog and as I write this the library computer nazis just issued me a 10 minute warning before I get logged off. What's this world coming to when a girl can't blather on incessantly about any little thing for as long as she wants? I want my money back! I decided on my walk down here that when I am made czarina of the world I am going to outlaw vanity liscense plates and tye-dyed tee shirts. That's just for starters. Please, no one take these things personally. There are more pressing and important things I could and sometimes do get irked by but it just takes too much energy.

I had thought my computer was broken and could not play CDs but the only thing wrong with it was that the volume was on mute. Thank goodness. No new boombox needed. Okay my time is up, at least at the library.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Cheering for the Devil

A couple of night's ago I watched Bryan Singer's The Usual Suspects for the 15th of 16th time and I couldn't help but wonder if I would ever become a good enough person to NOT be insanely anxious near the film's end that Keyser S^ze (Kevin Spacey) get out of that interrogation room and away with all his dastardly deeds by the end of the flick. Hell, I know how evil he is and, of course, I know he WILL get away. That's part of the beauty of the script (penned by Christopher McQuarrie) and it's execution. I can watch the thing over and over and still suspend my disbelief. Shit, the fact that I can root for a guy who murders Gabriel Byrne (sweet jesus, what a sexpot) in cold blood is a friggin' miracle.

If I'm completely honest with myself I doubt I'll ever be able to stop cheering for Keyser. If you are smart and are or have been the least bit rebellious in your life there is no way you can't appreciate a really good scam and the really good scamsters. The smartest dude in this whole deal turns out to be the devil but you gotta appreciate the fact that he's not a dumbass. I know I'm making progress, however, because I used to find Spacey a little bit sexy in this role and this is no longer the case. Besides Byrne the only other real hottie in terms of characters is FBI agent Jack Bear played by Giancarlo Esposito. Sexy primarily because he's also very smart and not such a friggin' white boy. Too bad he missed the better days on TV's Homicide, before the creators had to bow to network pressure and beautify all the detectives, etc. That was a rocking show that employed a number of groovy former Baltimoran pals, to boot.

So anyway back to this good person theme. I'm trying. I pay my bills. Make payments on my debts. I've learned to have a pretty healthy respect for my limitations. I support my friends. Try to keep my judgements about other's in check. My big indulgences these days are sugar, ciggarettes and sleep. The first two are minor in comparison to these habits in many others but I still feel shitty about them. My personal history is complicated and like Keyser I've probably kept too many secrets but I'm good for my word and do beleive that discretion is the better part of valor. One of my biggest problems has always been making poor choices in the people I've choosen to trust. I tend to be pretty impulsive and now I'm becoming a bit reclusive as a result. Jeez, this is getting sort of heavy.

I heard a very wicked observation this morning. Dan Savage said that the reason Bill Clinton didn't die after his heart surgery was because hell was already full. That could explain why many of us are still bopping around. Well, it could be that or it could be that Keyser S^ze is, in fact, in charge and being good rarely pays. There's this saying I hear alot, "It's a God thing." Most of the time that usually means somebody has gotten or is getting what they want, IMO. I'm a skeptical woman but I've earned that right. Wow, I mean if the Devil got cast down into hell because he loved God too much then I'm completely screwed for being too attached to clever people and clever writing. I love 'em and it way too much (ergo this movie). I'm doomed!

Oh well on the ethics thing, I guess I'll watch The Usual Suspects again in a year or two and let you know how my soul has progressed. In the mean time, why in the hell did they have to insert that ridiculous line "Oswald was a fag" when Stephen Baldwin is aiming his powerboy at the ship in the film's final 30 minutes. Follywood formula-- gotta get the anti-queer joke in. For goodness (haha) sake!

Gnats Swarming in Jell-o Salad

Dang I almost hate to say it but don't I remember I certain presidential candidate who actually cautioned that we had sold who souls to the pollsters? A little guy from Ohio?
This is from the SF Chronicle, BTW.

Who The Hell Is "Undecided"? And Why do so Many Election Polls leave you Angry and Stupefied and Drunk?

by Mark Morford

Polls are the genital warts of election year. They are the swarming gnats in your Jell-O salad, the dead escalator in your shopping mall, the sour milk in your coffee.

Because clearly, if you attempt to follow any of them, the CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls or the American Research Group polls or the Newsweek polls or the ABC News/Washington Post polls or the CBS News/New York Times polls or the Zogby polls, you can only conclude one thing:
These polls are designed solely to mangle your head and confound your synapses and elate you and titillate you and then plunge you into instant despair and then yank you back out at the last second like some sort of "Fear Factor" death-plunge moronism.

I know I am not alone in this sentiment.

Take, for example, how nearly every single poll listed above indicated that, just after the Democratic convention, John Kerry could not lose. He had gained huge numbers on a miserable and baffled Bush and every poll had Kerry nailing Shrub by anywhere from two to six percentage points and he had momentum and a clear message and broad support and it all meant it was Kerry's election to lose and woo-hoo go team break out the champagne.
But wait, not so fast. Because then BushCo had his big, tearful, gay-hatin', war-lovin' GOP convention and whored the 9/11 theme so shamelessly you could veritably feel the World Trade Center victims cringing in their graves.

Now, of course, polls indicate that those pro-Kerry numbers are exactly reversed. Bush's numbers are suddenly up again and have barely broken through that magic 50-percent ceiling that held him in check this past year as the nation had seemed to be finally realizing what an unmitigated embarrassment he was, and suddenly Kerry is lagging behind by those same few points. Hey, it's the polls, baby. They're not supposed to make any goddamn sense.
But they do force you to ask: What the hell just happened? What changed? Why do these polls flip so ridiculously?

Could it be true? Are there simply millions of voters out in this sad and divisive nation who are so gullible, so unsure, so unclear about who they want to vote for that one overblown Vegas-style political convention followed by numerous insidious smear campaigns maligning Kerry's Vietnam heroism could sway them that easily, back and forth and forth and back?
Perhaps this is an "elitist" question, or naive, or simple misguided. Maybe I need to read far more detailed statistical sociopolitical theory, which is about as much fun as having all your skin scraped off with a cheese grater. But I simply know of no one anywhere in my world, from family to friends to family friends to remote acquaintances to the guy who sells me my socks, who is undecided about this election.

Do these people exist? Or are the polls merely wicked phantasmagorical allegories designed by the media to boost sales and pump ratings and numb the intellect and ruin your appetite for reason? I know my answer.

Because if you're paying any sort of attention at all, the differences between the party stances seems so agonizingly obvious, between not just the candidates, but between the tone and timbre of the country overall, of how we should be led and how we should be viewed and how we should be spoken to, between the openly violent, peace-hating, fear-happy, environment-loathing, homophobic worldview of the Bushies, and the more tolerant, issues-oriented, politically intelligent, less tyrannical worldview of the Kerryites on the other.

So then, who are the people so openly duped by the gluttonous TV coverage of either of the conventions that they watch the Dems and says, wow, that Kerry fellow sure is smart and articulate and, gosh, he's even a decorated 'Nam vet, I'm voting for him.

And who then spis right around and watched Dubya cry and wave the flag and never once mention WMD or Osama and openly ignore the 1,000-plus dead American soldiers in Iraq, and who then says, oh wait, gosh, that Dubya fellow, he sure is nice and simple and plain-faced and none-too-bright and he loves war like a schoolgirl loves bubblegum. He's my man. Now turn it to "Everybody Loves Raymond!"

Is it the elderly? Are they the ones who swing these polls so outrageously? Is it the over-75 set who just had their Medicare benefits gouged and who can't afford their medications due to how grossly BushCo just French-kissed all the CEOs of the major pharmcos? Doubtful. The elderly are far more astute that most.

Is it young women? Is it the roughly 22 million single females who didn't bother to cast a ballot in 2000, these least-likely voters in the nation who, if they had half of an idea of how much BushCo hated them and feared them and wanted to curtail every right they have to control their bodies and navigate their own sexuality, would shun BushCo this election like an altar boy shuns a Catholic priest? Do they keep changing their minds?

Is it the black vote? Doubtful. I know there are stories, like the recent Oakland Tribune piece, which discovered a number of black pastors in the East Bay who are actually supporting Bush solely on the basis of the gay marriage issue, despite the GOP's ill-concealed racist overtones and general hatred of minorities and the poor. The mind, it doth shudder and reel. And weep. But then again, another poll shows black voters favoring Kerry/Edwards by a huge, 8-1 majority. So there it is.

I know there are studies. I know there are analysts and pundits and social scientists who say they know about just who these "undecided" voters are, and why they flip so wildly, and why the hell they can't see the painful and enormous differences between Kerry and Dubya, if for no other reason than one can speak in complex multisyllabic sentences employing compound adjectives, whereas the other makes you feel like you're listening to a heavily Ritalined 5-year-old read "The Hungry Caterpillar," drunk.

I know there are superlative books, like Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter with Kansas?" -- books that attempt to explain why so many Americans vote, bafflingly, frustratingly, against their own self-interest. But this does little to explain such wild discrepancies in the polls, such weird and nearly instant fluctuations in the American attitude from week to week.
Of course the answer is: There is no real answer. To follow the polls is a fool's game best averted by deep sighing and copious amounts of wine and by ignoring them completely and by rejecting as specious and pointless nearly all stories that bring up poll numbers in hysterical and alarmist tones. Which is, you know, most all of them.

Except, of course, for those polls that make some sort of sense. Every now and then there seems to be one that has basis in actual reality, that doesn't deal in the mythical and God-like "undecideds," that make you go, well sure, this much is a given. For example, take the new poll that shows how a huge percentage of the world, fully 30 out of 35 surveyed nations, want Bush out of the White House. Now. It's true. Among America's strongest and most loyal allies and even among those who don't like us much and have good reason to believe we're a screaming whiny violent brat with too much money and too many toys and far too little soul, it is nearly unanimous: Bush has done more harm to the world, to international relations than any U.S. president in history. The world doesn't merely think Bush is an incompetent boob. They think he's a hostile and reckless incompetent boob. Which is, of course, far worse.

But then again, you don't really need a poll to tell you that.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Avocado Maki is Fine

Okay, sad to say it but it is now official -- the universe IS conspiring against me. My boombox broke leaving me no way to play music of my own choosing (and Christ I was listening to Richard Thomspon at the time!!). I just found out I owe the state almost $2000 more than I was additionally led to believe and I decided to try and be extra healthy last night and cook up that tempeh in my fridge only to discover it was covered in black mold. That's what I get for being loyal to the Coop. Okay sorry, that was entirely snarly.

After going to Sushi Popo with Angie last Thursday all I can think about IS sushi. I don't even care about the raw fish anymore. These days avocado maki is fine with me. Just give me a delivery device for wasabi and pickled ginger and I am fine.

There are lots of people talking about what does and does not constitute a good date or relationship these days (okay, forever). Re: a good date -- it's pretty much anyone else who will pick up the check (I'm a cheap date, see above) and not talk AT you the entire time. Re: the relationship -- someone who isn't in the middle of an identity crisis, makes you laugh and with whom you actually enjoy conversing for an extended period of time. Additionally it seems most people I know who have finally found people after years of being w/Mr. and Ms. Wrong seem to agree on one thing -- they finally met someone with whom being with was not alot of work. So there's my .64.

Virgo birthdays -- Happy birthday Angie!!! Melissa!! Andy!! Tolstoy!! Dori!!! Sarah, wherever in the hell you have ended up, crazy girl. Oh yeah, my brother. I always forget about him. Let's not look too closely at that.

More Manners

Dear Meg,

There's new guy coming to my health club on the same days and time when I go. He's a total gym rat -- he leaves his sweat all over the equipment, grunts really loudly and hogs times in the showers. Can I tell him off? Please.


My Dear Benson,

There are certainly no rules that say you can't tell this poor newcomer off or at least remind him that lifting is not the male equivalent of childbirth and grunting is much more acceptable in private and between consenting adults. An alternative to telling the man off would be to politely ask him to join for you a Peppered-Saffron Water or Pimms Cup after your workouts and quietly explain club form to him. My guess is that he would be grateful. If you'd prefer to forgo this route simply ask a staffer to speak with him. Gym rats are the worst. My pet peeve is the member who keeps dirty socks in their locker for months. If I was interested in aversion aromatherapy I would be consulting a specialist, thank you very much. Do try and be kind.



Dear Meg,

I have twin daughters who will be graduating from high school this year. I want to reward them with nice gifts in the spring but they are both insisting on breast implants as are most of their friends. Many of the other parents are actually planning to indulge their daughters on this but I don't think I can. How can I say no without breaking my girls' hearts?


My Dear Ingrid,

I wish I were shocked by your predicament but, sadly, I am not. There is a disturbing trend among adolescent women to place a bulk of their self-esteem in the region around their rib cages and, of course, at their age everything is of the utmost urgency. Your duty as a parent, however, is to draw the line at such foolishness especially when it poses a risk to your childrens health. Most implants result in a serious complication within 3 to 5 years according to National Research Center for Women & Families.

Many parents who are unable to say no to their children are driven to very desperate measures. I have a friend who is working with authorities in Oslo on the recent heist of one of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" paintings. The best intelligence to date is that the culprits were a couple of frantic fathers whose own daughters were demanding a boatload of expensive cosmetic surgery. Unable to come up with any other means to pay for this culturally promoted form of self-mutilation and fearing the rejection of their over-indulged children, these poor fellas felt they had no choice but attempt to be Pierce Brosnan & company in The Thomas Crown Affair. Oh dear. It was a movie, boys.

Try and explain to your girls that breast augmentation is really not the same thing as having one's hair done or getting a pedicure. You could try the "beauty comes from within" talk but at this stage of the game I doubt you'll have much luck. Just tell them you love them, put your foot down, your credit card out of reach and wait for the storm to pass. Learning to say no in a respectful way can be difficult for anyone let alone a loving parent wanting to reward a much loved child but this is an important and well-mannered skill for us all to acquire at any age. You are doing the right thing, Ingrid, by being a positive role model.

Is it woefully unhip of me to suggest a couple of nice watches or a week or two abroad might still be acceptable graduation gifts? I wish you all the best on this. I hope you will keep me abreast (sorry, I couldn't resist) of how things are going.



Monday, September 06, 2004

When I've Made My Final Decision

Okay, I was way too harsh on the Earle record. A real rush to judgement on my part. F THE FCC alone is worth the price of admission. Takes one back to the the early days of Rage Against the Machine. Poor Steve -- he seems to be suffering from the delusion that romantic love will fill the void that all that heroin and whiskey did such a fine job of. As for the little black dress, I've owned at least three that I thought were perfect, going to make my life all I'd ever imagined and land me the man of my dreams. In the end they were just dresses and thank goodness for consignment stores. Bless the man for dedicating the record to Zevon and Cash. I'll see all three of you when I get there. I plan to outlive you, Steve.

Enough of this serious foolishness. Re: "The Scream" robbery -- why can't a band of old fashioned art thieves just be a thieves anymore? Sure enough, these days someone is gonna accuse 'em of being terrorists.

When the new Zen monastery opened in Decorah all the devoted zeniacs in attendance were shocked by the fact that all the monks in the area who showed up in support were all puffing away on ciggerettes like chimneys. I found that hilarious.

Yo La Tengo is coming to the Wheelroom! Si. Si.

David Lynch will be one of the panelists at a "Peace Forum" in Fairfield at MHU at the end of the month. Just like his film "The Straight Story"-- now there's a shocker. Free veggie food. There's a number to call on the back of this month's Little Pillage (er Village).

I've been investing too much mental energy into who I believe should replace Frank Conroy as czar of the IWF. I'll try and get back to you when I've made my final decision.

I've got to do some real writing and then go celebrate Labor day in the only way a decent American would. I'm gonna drive my new SUV out to Walmart for the sales and buy tons of crap I don't really need made in sweatshops by slave labor all over the third world. Oh yeah, I'm gonna drink Diet Coke and talk on my cell phone the whole way there and the whole way back. Okay, this is a tired example. I need more COFFEE.