Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Meg, Carl, Bob and Deep Throat

Me and Deep Throat

My businesses - Meg Does Food (catering - highly successful)
Meg Does Rooms (low budget interior design - moderately successful)
Meg Does Words (copy-editing - one big bust)
Meg Does Blogs ( the jury's still out)

My irreverent inspiration for biz names - a 70's porn film.

I've got some juice on a few uber-famous bad boys and highly successful men of influence who I will never go public until they die. That's assuming I outlive them. I admit to being a bit of a gossip but I've kept some major secrets that have cost me a lot and I don't intend to go back on my word in this lifetime. Ain't I the righteous babe?

Hey, didn't I have a post with Deep Throat in the title a while back, anyway? God Bless the whistle blowers.

from msn.com (sorry for the source)

Woodward, Bernstein and Bradlee had always maintained they would never go public with the identity of Deep Throat until after his death. (Felt came out on his own it seems. He was DP of the FBI at the time of WG)

The existence of Deep Throat, nicknamed for an X-rated movie of the early 1970s, was revealed in Woodward and Bernstein’s best-selling book “All the President’s Men.”

A hit movie starring Robert Redford as Woodward, Dustin Hoffman as Bernstein and Hal Holbrook as Deep Throat was made in 1976. In the film, Holbrook’s shadowy, cigarette-smoking character would meet Redford in dark parking garages and provide clues about the scandal.

Hey! Everybody - Lighten UP.

first published in the Iowa Source. Okay, I wrote this one. BTW, a recent article in the Journal Science reports that even rats laugh. I'll refrain from making any far too obviously clever or esp. too heavy-handed references between this little factoid and my post about the new Pope. Vaya con Dios, brothers ans sisters.......

I am getting over the plague of a flu that’s making the rounds as I write this. On the worst day I was tempted to wrest myself from the fiercely clinched jaws of the grim reaper and finally make up something remotely resembling a last will and testament. I don't own an inordinate amount of stuff but I have a few things I thought I might consider giving some serious thought to whom I'd like to see them go to in the event of my sudden demise. Which sibling would appreciate my collection of unpublished manuscripts, who'd get my Chipmunks, Elvis Costello and Sarah Vaughn records, which of one my nieces or nephew might want my wind-up toy and finger puppet collection or which cousin ought to receive my Grandfather's school desk?

Fortunately, in the midst of this trauma-drama-mind-melt I was able to pull myself out of this insane cycle of despairing thought and recognize the absurdity of what was going on in my head. I was able to laugh at myself and the realization that I had been considering who would get my rather odd collection of material possessions when all I was suffering from was the friggin' flu.

Meanwhile, I have a friend in Sri Lanka doing relief work for Tsunami survivors, a mother in the hospital and am surrounded on a daily basis by honorable people whose lives are destroyed by mental illness, abject poverty and addiction, yet remain committed to helping others. This is what is referred to as a moment of clarity. Others call it an epiphany of the obvious. Like being reminded to drink 456 glasses of water a day or eat 27 pounds of fruits and vegetables, it’s a gift to recognize its humor and wisdom.

I'm fond of saying if I didn’t have the ability to laugh at myself, I would have been dead a long time ago. Keeping a sense of humor about the myriad of ridiculous circumstances that life offers up is not only an effective survival technique it's also good for your physical, mental and spiritual health. Much research and many studies suggest this and while the idea that “the very act of observation changes that which is being observed” is an over simplication of the idea behind quantum mechanics, why not go ahead and observe what pleases you or makes you laugh? If a particle makes you happier, see a particle, if waves do it for you, look for waves. Thank you, Niels Bohr.

A 2002 study at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN reported that people who expected misfortune didn’t live as long as people who expected good things to happen to them. Researchers evaluated results from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and compared them to subsequent mortality rates. They found that those who scored high on optimism had a 50 percent lower risk of premature death than those who scored in the more cynical realm. In addition to a lowered risk of early death, researchers found other health benefits related to positive attitude. These benefits included fewer problems with work, less physical pain, better social lives, fewer emotional problems, increased energy and an overall feeling of being more at peace with the world and themselves. Hopefully, “the results could lead to ways to help pessimistic people change their perceptions and behaviors and thereby improve their health and perhaps lengthen their lives”, said Toshihiko Maruta, M.D., a psychiatrist at the Clinic and lead author of the study.

Good teachers are important on this path to levity and looking on the bright side. I was fortunate to have parents who taught me the importance of not taking myself too seriously despite my propensity to do ridiculous things and try to be serious far too much of the time. Bless their hearts, they forgave me and laughed at my antics over and over again. One summer when I was sixteen, they were returning home from a weekend retreat in the mountains and arrived to find me sprawled out on my back in the middle of the living room floor. The lights were off, I had candles everywhere; the speakers were down from the shelves and on the floor and my mother’s copy of Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Center of the Earth was blaring from my father’s stereo. They seemed alarmed and I was miffed at being interrupted. I was trying to commune with a higher artistic God, for goodness sake. Later on I overheard them from their bedroom laughing about it. I was furious at first. “They’re not taking my journey seriously!” After a good night’s sleep, I also saw the humor in the situation and, to be honest, I was grateful I wasn’t in trouble.

One of the best writing instructors I ever had used to tell us before each workshop to "check your egos at the door." In terms of keeping a positive mental attitude and maintaining a sense of humor even in the darkest times of times, I think (AHA!) it's not bad advice to "check your thoughts at the door". Having an abundant mindset doesn't necessarily hurt either. As Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda said, "More Lobster! More Butter!" Writing up a will is not such a bad idea but in the meantime I’m going to give Costello’s Get Happy another listen

Monday, May 30, 2005

If Anyone Needs to Blow Their Nose?

So here's another friend getting published and getting a rather fat grant story. You can check out Andy Douglas's "Slouch"essay at http://www.maryjournal.org . He also managed to finagle 7 grand from some place I'd never heard of but did promptly understand that my work did not meet their criteria. Hey, what else does one need to know? Joke, okay?

Check out this essay. I've not read it but I've heard him read it as it was a contribution to "the meg white experience"at Public Space One in September of 2003. That boy had all the girls swooning. He presents a little like Merwin did in his younger days - all grace and poise. Given the subject matter of this piece it was a very comprehensive experience for audience and author alike. Way to go, Andy. I have to poke fun at him a little, in that his agent's name is actually Giles. It's just too too-too. A New York agent named Giles. You gotta love it.

Re: the mwe - I'm still not entirely certain if anyone noticed I had a piece of work up at that show. Okay, that's an exaggeration. The sweet volunteer working the desk made a point to say how much she admired my piece and even that rascal, Joe P, gave it high marks. It was a subtle work and I did hang it under the name meg y , so I can't complain.

I was thinking of changing my last name to "y"at the time. Sort of a post Malcolm X, Gen X, let's make fun how much I'm not such a girly-girl (think chromosones, here) but am a rock-on, don't-mess-with-me-or-anyone-I-care-about-and-I-don't-give-a-damn- if-you-call-me-á-girl-just-don't call-me-a-bitch-if-you're-a man-or-unless-you-read-the-magazine-with-respect feminist. Anyway, this idea fell by the wayside when groovy, vegan, change the world man Matthew Steele wrote me from South America and informed me that the inventor of the Boogey Board had already stolen my idea and changed his last name to "y". Somehow that really took the winds out of my sails.

Ramble, ramble, ramble.

Things with Dr. Math are going quite well. Sometimes I have no bloody idea what he sees in me but I suspect he thinks the same thing in the other direction. He just won a big award which will be hitting the local papers the first week in June so I'll keep my big trap shut. As a result of this little coup on his part, I did get some exceptionally good chocolates from Georgetown and a stack of official "Öffice of the President of United States White House" cocktaik napkins. Dang, Judith if I'd had these on Saturday we could have used these for your party. I just received them today. Shucks.

In the meantime, if anyone needs to blow their nose?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Interpretation Interpretation Interpretation Theory

This little item in the Arts section of the Times on Tuesday caught my attention. Evidence of what I have long dubbed the Circular Interpretation Theory of Cultural Interpretation According to Meg's Interpretation of It. I spoke with Master John once about this at Louis Bookstore Cafe and he concurred wholeheartedly with the premise (of course!). Some results of the creative f l o w wind up being so unspeakably horrific they become nothing short of spectacular. If our scale for measuring aesthetics is circular rather than linear (should this even be debated, for God's sake?) then when something is so dreadfully awfully (i.e. at about, say, 358 degrees), it only takes a small small nudge (an extra adverb, over-impressed with itself narration, too many care bear stickers, glitter bunnies or barbie iconography) to send that puppy over the 360 degree mark. Now we're coming in somewhere between 1 and 4 degrees - exceptional!!!

Anyway, enjoy the article. Poor Ethan. I guess you could say, at least he put himself out there. I've never read either book so I cannot comment.

Cheerful Ode to Lemons of Literature

by Lola Ogunnaike
Celebrating clunky sentences and mixed metaphors, self-indulgent prose and just plain old bad writing, Lit Lite, a weekly literary series, invites performers to select and read from their favorite bad books. And so one evening last week at the Chelsea restaurant Elmo, Greg Walloch, a stand-up comic, chose to deliver passages from two novels by the actor Ethan Hawke, "The Hottest State" and "Ash Wednesday."

"Man, when I first met Christy - and this is no joke, a cliché but no joke - it was like my heart was literally stuck on my esophagus," Mr. Walloch read from "Ash Wednesday" as an audience of more than 40 groaned and giggled. It was soon revealed that Christy is a woman with a posterior so "dynamite," that, "if you looked at her from the back you'd swear she was a black chick." Mr. Walloch, who is white, deadpanned, "That happens to me all the time."

Since the series began in February, more than 40 books have been skewered. A $5 cover charge is imposed and, because of the subject matter, heavy drinking is encouraged. Each session tackles a different subject, from sex to self help. At one event the ballet dancer Robert La Fosse poked fun at his autobiography, "Nothing to Hide." Earlier this month, in keeping with the theme "Women's Problems," performers read excerpts from Rosie O'Donnell's free-verse poetry blog (onceadored.blogspot.com), "Yvonne: An Autobiography," by the actress Yvonne De Carlo, who played Lily Munster in the television series "The Munsters," and Eve Ensler's "Good Body." Tonight, under the banner "Difficult People," Jodi Lennon, a comedy writer, will present "Hold My Gold," a hip-hop how-to guide for white girls.

Lit Lite is the brainchild of Kevin Malony and Grady Hendrix, both of whom stage productions for the Off Off Broadway theater company Tweed. Mr. Hendrix began the evening with a recitation from "Mission Compromised," Oliver North's military thriller.

"I am unfortunately one of those lonely sad people that reads a lot," said Mr. Hendrix in an interview, "and I've always been drawn to bad books." Asked why he prefers cringe-inducing texts to works from the literary canon Mr. Hendrix said, "Good literature is a little bit boring and precious." He pointed to Jonathan Franzen's "Corrections" and the works of David Foster Wallace to illustrate his point, saying he would rather curl up with "I Was a White Slave in Harlem," the autobiography of the drag queen Margo Howard-Howard. Speaking of slavery and drag queens. Originally, Flotilla DeBarge, a statuesque drag queen who bears more than a passing resemblance to the talk show host Star Jones, was to read that evening from "Swan," a novel by the model Naomi Campbell. Ms. DeBarge and Mr. Hendrix decided that while Ms. Campbell's book was awful, it was not gripping; instead they opted for Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

Resplendent in a mud-cloth tunic, miniskirt and heavy makeup, Ms. DeBarge struggled through her opening. "Sorry you all," she said, "my eyelashes are giving me some trouble." She rallied and read passages about Topsy, the incorrigible slave child. But it was the maudlin chapter in which little Eva, in all her golden blond glory, dies of consumption that really had the crowd in stitches. "I want to give you something that, when you look at, you shall always remember me," Ms. DeBarge said, delivering lines in a syrupy voice reminiscent of Scarlet O'Hara: "I'm going to give all of you a curl of my hair; and when you look at it, think that I am in heaven and that I want to see you all there."

Not to be outdone by Ms. DeBarge, Sweetie, another man partial to women's clothing, sauntered to the stage sporting a red-sequined dress and a blond bouffant that would easily put Marge Simpson's to shame. Sweetie had chosen to share bits from "Sarah," J. T. LeRoy's disturbing novel about a 12-year-old transvestite hooker who plies his trade at truck stops. Reveling in the tale that features a toothless pimp, a pedophile and a call girl named Pooh ("not like the bear," Mr. LeRoy writes), Sweetie continued to gleefully flip through "Sarah" long past her allotted 20 minutes.

Florent Morellet, owner of the popular meatpacking district diner Florent laughed through much of the show. "You know we could be doing this for centuries," he said, "There are so many bad books - it's an endless gold mine."

Mr. Walloch said that his next reading will be from the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. "Everyone just looks at the clothes and the models, but have you read that thing?"

Mr. Hendrix, who helps choose many of the featured texts, said organizing the event has been harder than he expected. "To pick something that's bad and bad enough to be entertaining is really a lot of work."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Iowa Girls Keep Making Good

Whew that last post had a bunch of typos. Oh well. More great news for creative girls w/ Iowa connections. Creative Non-fiction Program Graduate, Faith Adiele, just received a Pen award for her memoir Meeting Faith about her experience as the first female black nun in Thailand. Rock on.

Abbe McWilliam has landed a sweet job at the Press Citizen which she loves and has already done a cover story on the important issue of teen pregnancy. Local readers should keep their eyes on this young writer. She's on the move.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Newton Poem Again

Word has finally travelled through the chick-writers grapevine that former Iowa Citian, Jo Ann Beard, was the recent recipient of a Guggenheim. There just seems to be something good happening for creative girls w/ associations to Iowa. Maybe not for all of us but enough to make the choice of giving voice to whatever we feel needs giving voice to seem like a moderately honorable endeavour and not a decision born of complete insanity.

Since, in theory, these blogs are diaries and updates of sorts. Here is a quick run down on what's been happening in my world. Finally, my mother has been given a clean bill of health and will leaving Los Angeles to go live with my brother and his family in North Carolina. This is great news, not only for the obvious reasons, but beacuse she will be with two of her grandchildren and this is the best anti-grief remedy there is.

I've landed a part time job at a local florist and I really love it. The pay is certainly not ideal but I really don't care. I'm just so happy to be working and the people there are so nice.

I'm getting more and more positive feedback on my freelance work and my column which is heartening.. My friend, Daniel, has apparenly been keeping tabs on the number of his band's website (Marah-Mar.org) receives vs. this blog. So far, I'm winning. Sweet. Hey, Daniel, maybe you need to sex things up a bit??? Perhaps some pictures of the beautiful, Pi?

I've working on the Issac Newton poem again. I started it in 1987. The only thing that has stayed the same is the first line. Give another few months and I'll probably axe that as well, then put it back in again.

I've met a very nice man. On this I will say no more as things are new and I don't want to jinx anything. More to come as things develop. Art & Science. It's a sexy combo.

Hey, Ang. How was Guster? I still have no idea who the heck they are. Laura's coming this weekend, yeah?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I Won't Keep You in Suspense...

at least in any more than a poem might provoke. I fell in love with this one when it was first published in Science 84. I moved many times after that but managed to hang on to it, worn and frayed, always taping it above my bed. Eventually I lost it but thanks to google it has come back to me and I can now send it out into the electronic ether. Enjoy. BTW, Ardice, I have no idea about the soul mate deal but I'm not that Meg White, sorry, though I'm sure in her own special way she loves you. Do check out Hotel Yorba on the White Blood Cells release, okay? Always have hope.

Letter From Caroline Herschel (1750-1848)

"William is away, and I am minding the heavens. I have discovered eight new comets and three nebulae never before seen by man, and I am preparing an index to Flamsteed's observations, together with a catalogue of 560 stars omitted from the British Catalogue, plus a list of erra in that publication. William says I have a way with numbers, so I handle all the necessary calculations. I also plan every night's observation schedule, for he says my intuition helps me turn the telescope to discover star cluster after star cluster.

I have helped him polish the mirrors and lenses of our new telescope. It is the largest in existence. Can you imagine the thrill of turning it to some new corner of the heavens to see something never before seen from earth? I actually like that he is busy with the Royal society and his club, for when I finish my other work I can spend all night sweeping the heavens.
Sometimes when I am alone in the dark, and the universe reveals yet another secret, I say the names of my long, lost sisters, forgotten in the books that record our science - Aganice of Thessaly, Hyptia, Hildegard, Catherina Hevelius, Maria Agnesi - as if the stars themselves could remember.

Did you know that Hildegard proposed a heliocentric universe 300 years before Copernicus? That she wrote of universal gravitation 500 years before Newton? But who would listen to her? She was just a nun, a woman. What is our age, if that age was dark? As for my name, it will also be forgotten, but I am not accused of being a sorceress, like Aganice, and the Christians do not threaten to drag me to church to murder me, like they did Hyptia of Alexandria, the eloquent, young woman who devised the instruments used to accurately measure the position of motion of heavenly bodies.

However long we live, life is short, so I work. And however important man becomes, he is nothing compared to the stars. There are secrets, dear sister, and it is for us to reveal them. Your name like mine is a song. Write soon."

A poem by Sid Cedering celebrating the unsung accomplishments of this dedicated woman of science.10

Does Anyone Remember Caroline Herschell

physics stuff is jamming the inbox today

Manhattan Confidential

Two inside looks at the testosterone-fueled world of mid-20th-century physics

by David Ng from the Village Voice

Chemistry had Marie Curie. Computer science had Ada Byron. But what about physics? Of the hard sciences, physics is typically regarded as the most male, and the most chauvinistic too. For every dorm room poster of cuddly Albert Einstein, there seem to be several accompanying anecdotes about the man's legendary misogyny.

It should come as little surprise that women have historically occupied supporting roles in physics: secretaries, assistants, and daughters. (There are exceptions, though Nobel winner Maria Goeppert Mayer is hardly a household name.) Subordinate though they often were, women naturally possessed an excellent vantage point from which to observe (and at times influence) the men they served. The female's view of this hyper-male society is the subject of two recent books that deconstruct the world of the Cold War–era physicist from the outside looking in. Though completely different in approach, both show a probing empathy for these cerebral men, as well as boundless compassion for the women who had to work, live, and put up with them.

The more personal of the books, M.G. Lord's Astro Turf could be called a memoir, but it's both more and less than that. Lord, the daughter of a mid-level astrophysicist at the prestigious Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, recounts her relationship with her father, a man who cocooned himself in his work rather than face the agony of his wife's death from cancer, or his daughter's own adolescence. Hardly a conventional memoirist, Lord uses her childhood recollections as a Proustian springboard for such far-reaching (and sometimes bizarrely tangential) explorations of maleness at a time (the late '50s) when being a man meant that you were stoic, strict, and work-obsessed.

Examining the gender-drag archetypes of the era (as she did in Forever Barbie), Lord seeks closure on her issues of fatherly abandonment. ("He had come by his misogyny honestly" is her somewhat obvious conclusion.) Plunging headlong into science as a way of reconciling herself with Daddy, Lord positions herself as soul sister to Ellie Arroway, the scientist heroine of Carl Sagan's novel Contact. Indeed, the role of women in the lab becomes a major thread in Lord's book as past turns into present and the male stranglehold thaws into a tolerance (though not full acceptance) of females in leadership positions. What relevance the sexual politics of JPL had on Lord's family is left for the reader to deduce. (Such is also the case for Lord's digressions into atomic research and the Mars Mariner missions.) Lord provides the parts; we must assemble the rocket.

Astro Turf is slender but sprawling. Nearly twice as long, Jennet Conant's 109 East Palace focuses on the brief 27 months during which the nation's top physicists gathered in a remote New Mexico outpost to create the first nuclear weapon. As its title suggests, 109 East Palace takes place almost entirely within the compound that today is referred to as Los Alamos. And while J. Robert Oppenheimer, the so-called father of the atomic bomb, dominates much of the book, the real protagonist is his assistant Dorothy McKibbin, a widowed mother who loyally kept house for a horde of physicists in some of the harshest working conditions known to modern science.

Written in third-person reportage, combining firsthand testimony with second-hand documentation, 109 East Palace homogenizes its diverse journalistic sources into a straightforward yarn. Whatever personal interest the author has in the story (her grandfather James Conant was an administrator of the Manhattan Project and makes several appearances in the book) is completely sublimated in the person of Dorothy, whose role was to keep the non-physics-related parts of the Los Alamos community running on schedule. Part Ma Joad, part Florence Nightingale, Dorothy gamely fielded a nonstop stream of crises, including shortages of food and water, clashing egos, and Oppenheimer's high-priest tantrums. "There was never a dull moment," Dorothy says with somewhat scary zeal. "We worked six days a week but even so I couldn't wait to get back to work in the morning."

Conant, like Lord, goes easy on the scientific detail, preferring to evoke the cultural dynamics of this egghead society. (For a nuts-and-bolts account of Oppenheimer's work, read Kai Bird and Martin Sherman's just-published American Prometheus.) As Conant tells it, wives on the Los Alamos range were kept in the dark about their husbands' classified work. And for the most part, so was Dorothy, despite her proximity to the man in charge. (When the bomb finally fell on Hiroshima, she learned about it the way everyone else did—over the radio.)

In retrospect, Dorothy's selfless dedication to Oppenheimer qualifies as a kind of insanity—or perhaps just willful ignorance. One wonders exactly how much she actually knew, and how much she chose not to know. Like Astro Turf, 109 East Palace leaves the reader to complete the puzzle, though this time, the pieces are slippery. It's a strange irony that in the end, Dorothy should remain as fundamentally unknowable to us as she did to those she so slavishly served.

p.s. Re: Caroline - think unrecognized women in science and astronomy

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

20 at Once

Just saw an announcement that Richard Feyman got his own postage stamp. We arty writer freaks with a special affinity for what my friend Megan calls being a "sucker for anything to do with quantum mechanics" can now post our snailmail with the portrait of a favorite geek. I suppose this means I may have to finally pony up for one of those packs of stamps that force you purchase 20 at once. What a committment. I don't really mind that too much. I think I just like having to pop in the Post Office on Washington Street on a regular basis because I like the staff in there so much but my favorite guy is retiring in six months. Oh well. Things change.

That's all for now. I really have to do my laundry and, lucky for me (alas - re: the laundry) my appointment to get my hair cut got canceled.

Does anyone know what's going into the space that Ruby's Pearl just vacated?

Hey, send up some prayers for Bruno - he's having a heart valve replaced.

Happy Birthday, Howard!!