Thursday, July 29, 2004

With liberal media like the New York Times, who needs Fox?

Let's just not put this on a stamp anytime soon, mmmkay?

[From the NYT]

Monday, July 26, 2004

Headlines like this make me very happy. I love bitches.
I am Failing to Break Your Heart

Kriston and I took a breather from our hard-living, jet-setting lifestyle this weekend to rent a bevy of movies, about which I have a few pertinent, and many impertinent, comments.

We rented Disc 1 of the Freaks and Geeks oeuvre, which I highly recommend to all of you, because if you are reading this, odds are statistically 100% that you fell into one of the two categories in high school and thus could purge some bad memories by watching this fine show.

I also rented In America, which I have wanted to see for some time, having a soft spot as I do for Irish immigrants. It wasn't bad - not overly maudlin or saccharine as it very easily could have been. The worst you can say is it was completely predictable.

We also finally rented Cold Mountain, haver of many stars, and beneficiary of many adulations. I was sorely disappointed by this particular flick - not that it was so bad, but it had such high praise that I feel was a bit unearned. And I say this as a devout disciple of the Holy Church of Nicole.

I hate when movies condescend, and this one decided to take a particular gamble that didn't pay off in spades. Specifically, they were banking on the fact that I'd be so distracted by Jude Law's gorgeousness, that I wouldn't notice the shoddy story editing, and the lazy inattention to any sort of character develoment. Not a bad gamble, because the gorgeousness is a formidable force, but the English Major in me had a permanent raised eyebrow when confronted with a protaganist who was the Strong Silent Country Boy Who Was Kind to Animals and Loyal to His Woman (and asexual to a truly alarming degree! I'm sorry, but when you haven't had any relief for 3 years, and Natalie Portman beckons you to her boudoir, you don't say "no" out of loyalty to some woman you spoke with like 3 times and made goo-goo eyes at, I don't care if it is Our Lady of the Kidman. Because if you do, you seriously missed a chance to appear like an ACTUAL HUMAN BEING with, you know, failings and desires and all that muck.)

Really, they could have taken a page out of Wilco's book and just named the film "I am Trying to Break Your Heart." When the violin strings swell and the bottom lips flutter, and the hero and heroine are reunited 30 minutes before the end of the movie, and they vow eternal love and walk away with an off-handed, "I'll see you tonight," I know perfectly well what will happen, and I instantly steel my sentiment against this ham-handed attempt to make me sniffle. Movies like that never get a drop from my eye, because that emotional manipulation just makes me angry and annoyed. Show me Beaches all you want, toss Terms of Endearment in my face, oh and just TRY plugging in City of Angels, and you'll get nothing but snide remarks and scoffing.

I tried to remember what movies have caused me to really cry. Not just a sniffle and a dewy eye, but really truly, honest-to-god, nose-honking boo-hoos. I can't think of them all, but there are 3 that stand out.

First, and let's just get it out of the way, because it complete contradicts all my sophisticated posturing in the preceding paragraph. I cried at Armageddon. No, I wept. I like to think that this unexpected cry-fest caught me off-guard because I came into the movie with such cynicism and such scoffing, that the slightest pierce in my armor ("Daddy!" says Liv) caused me to lose it. But really, I think it's because I was in the theater escaping second-degree burns from spending 3 days on the beach without sunscreen and I was just hysterical with pain.

Next - a Russian film called "The Thief." It's a gorgeous movie, and would have won the Best Foreign Film Oscar if it hadn't been up against "Life is Beautiful" that year. It's a Stalin-era flick, and there's this absolutely heartbreaking scene where the men who've been shipped off to Siberian prison camps are being transported from one camp to another. They have to run, one-by-one, from the prison gates into the back of the transport vehicle, while fanged guard dogs chase at their heels. The women - the mothers and sisters and daughters - are gathered in a crowd because it's their only chance to see their men. As one runs by, a woman will recognize him and scream, "Sasha! Yana had a baby! Boy!" then another will run by and a woman will yell "Kostya, Kostya! Your father has died!" One of the men stops when he hears the news, and the dogs are upon him. The scene was such a wretched example of humanity trying to persist in the most brutal conditions, in the most unforgiving environment; it was unexpected, and it rang true, and it was devastating. That was worth a good, hard cry.

Finally. A Leage of Their Own. Don't even make me tell you which scene, because you know which one, and I know all of you cried too. Oh my God. That telegram. That long walk down the benches. War is Hell!!!
Meanest Thing Ever

Today at lunch, I was lucky enough to overhear the #1 Most Mean Thing I've Ever Heard Someone Say to a Stranger. You long-time readers may recall the previous record-holder, the taxi driver who yelled "WHO GAVE THESE BLACK PEOPLE FREE?" after telling a gentleman of color "YOU WILL EAT MY DICK YOU BLACK DICK."

So, without further ado (well, a little ado in order to set the stage), I present to you the new winner of #1 Meanest Thing I've Ever Heard Someone Say to a Stranger:

The setting is a street corner in downtown DC, where I am standing at a corner waiting for the light to change. I hear a commotion to my right, and I see a youngish man in a wheel chair darting across the street, hurling a string of epithets at a car that nearly ran into him. He is quite agitated.

Now, if you're a driver who has just narrowly avoid crashing into a man in a wheelchair, what do you do? Why, if you're the winner of the #1 Meanest Thing Ever, you roll down your window, lean your body halfway out, and screech like a shrew, "THAT'S WHY YOU'RE CRIPPLED IN THE FIRST PLACE, BITCH!"
'Til Gabriel Blows His Horn

I almost swallowed my teeth at this news.

Ricky Williams is retiring?!? He's leaving the game at the height of his glory, and returning to UT to study education or something. The Siren song of Austin has claimed another one.

Godspeed, my fleet-footed friend. I'll always remember having my back turned away from the field during the run in which you broke the all-time rushing record because my friend Mark was smashed out of his gourd on Jack Daniels at 9am and he was falling over backwards to puke.

The replay looked really great.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Olympics: Crucible of Champions or International F**k-fest?

Courtesy of Dimmy Karras, the best article on the Olympics. EVER.

If you're like me, you assumed that Olympians spent two weeks in their spartan Olympic Village rooms overcoming challenges, thinking about the challenges they overcame, being inspirational, and staring with soft eyes into the hazy light of the glorious future, thinking of God and Country.

Nope. They're f**king.

All. The. Time.

Turns out, ladies and gents, that when you get a gazillion gorgeous young bodies from around the world together and introduce them to people they will never see again in their lives, naughtiness ensues. The French are the sluttiest, but they only do it with each other, the Aussies and the Canadians are tied for drunkest. The Cubans, apparently, are the fastest:
At the Albertville winter Olympics, condom machines in the athletes’ village had to be refilled every two hours. And in Sydney the organisers’ original order of 70,000 condoms went so fast that they had to order 20,000 more. Even with the replenishment, the supply was exhausted three days before the end of the competition schedule. (For the record, athletes who were in Sydney report that the Cuban delegation was the first to use up its allocation.) Salt Lake City in 2002 went even bigger: 250,000 condoms were handed out, despite the objections of the city’s Mormon leadership.
And let's hear it for our good friend, booze, helping us all speak the international language:
The latest attraction is free internet service, which Marco Buechel, an alpine ski racer who competes for Liechtenstein, put to good use in Salt Lake City. "You can contact any athlete, even if you don’t know them at all," says Buechel. "They give you a list when you get there. Everybody uses it. I saw this beautiful ski racer, from Greece of all places. She had the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. I saw her at the village and sent her an e-mail, in English. Her reply was very short: ‘Not good English. Want meet you.’"

According to Buechel, he and the Greek beauty made arrangements to meet soon after. "We tried to talk, which wasn’t very successful," says Buechel, "and then we started to drink, which was much more successful." And? "It was very beautiful," he says. "A beautiful international incident."
But more than that, it sounds to me like a sexier version of band camp, where we all sat around (looking hot and sexy) trying to guess what instruments the other campers played. Olympians do this too!
Kent remembers sitting in the village, watching athletes walk through the door and playing a game of Guess What They Do. "The bikers have skinny little upper bodies, farmer tans and massive, clean-shaven thighs. Invert them and you get the kayakers, who have skinny little legs and massive backs and shoulders. The seven-foot-tall giant who ducks under the doorway entering the cafeteria is probably from basketball. The seven-foot giant who smacks his head on the door frame is definitely a rower; they don’t have that hand-eye co-ordination thing. The kids running at the rowers’ ankles with the high-pitched voices are gymnasts. It just goes on and on. Being at the village is like taking your place in a wild anatomical parade seen nowhere else on the planet."
Except for us, it was like "that snooty bitch is totally a flute player, the pretty boy is first trumpet, and the guy in the Primus shirt is either trombone or percussion. And plays bass in a band."

But back to the Olympics. I have to hand it to this newspaper, the Scotsman, for getting the greatest quote you'll hear this year on the Olympics, and the inspiration for my discreet asterisks throughout this post:
Dick Roth remembers Tokyo in the 1960s, a time before sex studies and internet hook-ups - and yet still very much alive. "It was a lot more innocent back then," he says, "but not only did I see it, I participated in it. You’ve been working so hard, and everybody is so in the absolute prime of life, and everyone looks so good. This was before the sexual revolution, and it was discreet. But it was happening."

Then he pauses for a moment. "I know I have to be careful when I talk to a journalist, but I can say this: It wasn’t the f**k-fest it is now."

Wednesday, July 21, 2004


Are we liking this new font, or are we hating it?
What about:
This font, any good?
This font, any better?

Call and Response

Something has truly skewed awry in this world, and basic tenets of decency falter when proclamations of horniness from jeep windows can be issued prior to happy hour. 
This is how my day starts.
And really, I know that they're not actually horny.  For one, it's 7:45 a.m., and they aren't 14 year-olds.  But this whole cat-calling thing, it's never actually about sex or sexual attraction, now is it?

I started thinking about this phenomenon in earnest when I first moved to D.C. and lived in a "transitional" neighborhood that required a disagreeable slog a few blocks to the most harrowing grocery store you've ever seen.  There was a particular apartment complex en route that included such amenities as surly loiterers permanently leering.  I came to realize they were an institutional fixture of that block, and when preparing for my shopping, I'd don my grocery outfit: an oversized hooded sweatshirt, hood pulled up over hair that was ratted out to Timbuktu, big baggy pants, and a stoop-shouldered shuffle.  The goal was androgyny.  The boys didn't care.

It was then that I realized point 1 of cat-calling: It makes virtually no difference whether you are actually attractive or not.  I mean, of course if I were to walk in some frilly Paris Hilton mini like all the 13-year-old skankettes in town, I'd get my share of grief.  But the point is, you can minimize it with your hoody sweatshirt, but you can't escape it while you're still recognizably female.

My grocery jaunts also brought along point 2 of cat-calling.  As most girls can tell you, the generous offers of sexual favors will never, never, but never come from a lone gunman.  On the other hand, if you're walking past a stationary group of 3 or more gents, it's practically assured.  If the boys are in motion, it's less likely, but still possible.  There is probably some physics explanation for this involving the doppler effect, but I can't work it out.  I'm just a girl.   
Since it's painfully obvious that these pitiful yelps from sad little shitslices aren't actually about sex, I came up with a few theories as to what they are about.  Not to go all feminazi on you, but it seems clear to me that there's a power component in there.  They can shout what they want to you and you can't do anything back.  If you respond, which they're dying for you to do, it's ill-advised provocation.  This verbal domination is a proxy for something more unseemly, methinks. 
And let's face facts. 
The fine specimens shouting at you from car windows or streetside benches aren't the weak-knee, swoon-inducing gallants of girlhood dreams.  They're just these guys.  These sad, sad guys, and they know that all the girls walking by don't need 'em for anything, and don't even see them.  Maybe something from their primitive, hunter-gatherer, prehistoric instinct rises and rages against their nose-picking imbecility and shouts "Do something!  Beat your chest!  Show your plumage!  Gore your rival!" and through the muck of centuries of evolution and civilization, this comes through their mouths as "Hey sweet thing!  I'm horny!"

Friday, July 16, 2004


The streets of the world are safer today, and a dangerous man who has long eluded the long arm of the law is now in the hands of justice.

No, no, not Bin Laden. That other criminally unstable fugitive who's slipped across borders to escape the rabid manhunt on his tail. You know. Bobby Fischer. He's taunted us for the last time with his looney rants and fascist drivel! He's in the hands of the Japanese, so I foresee some wicked water torture in his future if he isn't handed over the U.S.

Checkmate, motherfucker!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

File Under "Better Late than Never"

Let it not be said that I have forfeited my critical thinking skills to the Democratic party and cannot under any circumstances praise the Bush Administration. Much as it pains me.

But, finally. The Bush administration sacrifices immediate political expediency by criticizing a strategic ally on human rights abuses. Perhaps the first time in this administration that the democracy rhetoric has been backed up by action in an inconvenient locale:
In a rare rebuke of an ally, the Bush administration announced yesterday that it will cut $18 million in military and economic aid to the authoritarian government of Uzbekistan because it has failed to take a series of promised steps to improve its human rights record.

Bravo for them. As with all things, we may see a backlash. Some fear that this will push Uzbekistan to seek aid from the willing teat of Russia and China via the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Very possible. If the cost of keeping Uzbekistan dependent on our aid rather than somebody else's is rewarding human rights abuses with elaborate funding packages, let them find it elsewhere. We're continuing to engage them on other fronts (Nunn-Lugar arms reductions, support for democracy groups, etc.), so it's wisely not a complete disengagement we're talking about. You can't overestimate how much the U.S. has been undercutting its message of democracy promotion by only promoting democracy where it's strategically convenient, and embracing despots where it is not. Uzbekistan is not an easy case in this regard, but this is the first time I've seen anything more than symbolic chiding. I'm glad to see an inkling from this administration that they're willing to put a little money where their mouth is. We need to stay in close coordination with them now and provide some real incentives for progress so they won't completely fly the coop.

Back to your regularly scheduled fluff.

I luuuuurve it when the Washington Post gets huffy. Can you feel the burn on Harold Meyerson's closing graf in his op-ed today?
So the GOP outreach strategy for November focuses on conservative churchgoers far more than anyone else. The Republican National Convention will showcase the party's otherwise marginalized moderates -- Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain -- for the great moderate audience. But I doubt the convention planners really believe that this late in the game they can fool anybody. The Republicans' campaign is all about scapegoating John Kerry for the ills of modernity. It's about exploiting homophobia, provincialism and cultural insecurity. Or, as they put it, values.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Nightmare on U Street

Via Catherine, I see that I can familiarize myself with my friendly neighborhood sex offenders with the help of this website. Now, Kriston and I have had a memorable series of terrible, vicious, foul, cruel, cutting, malicious arguments about the wisdom of this kind of disclosure that I don't intend to revisit here just for shits and giggles, but I just want to say that I for one find the following information instructive:

In my zip code, there lives 1 (one) registered sex offender.

In Kriston's zip code? Eighty-three.

Why do I find this instructive?
1) Crackhead Joe is not on the list. I can continue to regard him as a harmless neighborhood institution.

2) I now know to hold my vagina whilst strolling to Oohs and Aahs for chicken.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Eggers, take note

Because Jim Lewis, right or wrong, has got your number. On the contemporary novel:
"Make it new," [Ezra] Pound insisted. How much pale ink continues to be spilled in the service of that demand. I, for one, would like to see an unofficial ban on the following things: stories in which the author shows up as one of the characters, stories built around lists, or with the marginalia of writing moved to the center (dedications, errata, footnotes, etc.). I would like to see mere cleverness and innovation removed from the practice, along with all cheap ironies, second-guessing, meretricious tricks with time (stories written in the present tense, narrative running backwards, games with simultaneity, and so on), the substitution of swaths of facts and factoids for inspiration and invention … and so on.

Above all, I would insist that novelists who think they're smarter than their characters, and more sophisticated than the idea of the novel itself, and who cannot resist the temptation to demonstrate as much, ought instead to find deeper characters and better stories to write. I want a book to break my heart; everything else is television.

This is not to say that I don't love my Calvino and marvel at a Joyce. But what began as exuberant invention has become trite gimmick, divorced from the muse and instead married to, I don't know, vanity maybe. Or perhaps, as Martin Amis said when he was signing books here in town, people have grown tired of Ulysses. "We want a story," he said. "Nobody these days wants to curl up in bed with a 600-page crossword clue."

Thursday, July 08, 2004

In this thoughtful little post, Penn English professor Michael Berube accomplishes two very agreeable tasks:

1) Justifies my Harry Potter affection with the full weight of Professorial Indulgence; and

2) Gets in some deliciously pointed barbs at Harold Bloom.

To whit:
As for me, after we saw the movie I was curious enough to read the dang book at last, and I was fairly impressed. I've since heard that Harold Bloom, that learned old gasbag and self-designated arbiter of all written words, despises the book and has said so at least once every six months for the past five years. Well, alas, Bloom, my good man-- leave aside the sorry spectacle of the world's most famous literary critic spending some of his dwindling energies trying to squash J. K. Rowling like a bug, all because of a series of books whose readership extends to eight-year-olds, for god's sake (would Lionel Trilling have behaved this way with A Wrinkle in Time, do you think?), and let me put it this way: you style yourself after Falstaff, but you have no sense of humor whatsoever. You never did-- and your Rowling snits seal the deal. Now, what do we call people who think of themselves as latter-day Falstaffs, but who have never uttered a funny thing in their lives? Don't think Shakespeare-- think Restoration comedy.

Does a Body Good

I guarantee you—and I say this as a woman fully comfortable with all my bodily functions as manifested heretofore—that nothing will keep you away from a colleague's office with more finality than a little sign, pasted on the closed office door of a mother with a newborn child, that reads:

"Pumping in Progress!"

The idea that I may one day (if forces conspire against me and Child Protective Services doesn't get wind of it first) be able to milk myself like a cow just goes to show that my longstanding theory is absolutely true: the miracle of life is totally gross.

Which is why I am always eager to talk with people roughly my age or only slightly older who are, as they say, "with child" or "knocked up," as the case may be. There are these very critical questions I have that are out of the range of acceptable conversation with, say, accounts payable reps who are with child. To those people, you just gasp with delight and say things that you've heard your mother say, such as "How far along are you?" "Is it a surprise, or do you know?" Or you squinch up your cheeks and wrinkle your nose and belch out a "You're just glowing!"

The first time someone I knew was carrying, I skipped all the bullshit and got down to brass tacks. I sat down on the bar stool and looked her square in the eye.

"Alright," I said, giving her the look that said 'let's be on the level, here.' "Is it completely freaky knowing you have a LIVE CREATURE squirming around inside your stomach and eating your food?"

And God bless 'er, she didn't wax poetic about motherhood, she didn't even attempt a glow, she just looked back at me as one girl who didn't see this coming, to one who doesn't want to see it coming, and said, "Totally."

Sunday, July 04, 2004


Dear Readership:
We are working out the final details of the incantation, but expect to fully resurrect SueAndNotU from the dead in the next few days.

As you may have noticed, activity on the blog known as SueAndNotU has ceased in recent days. Sadly, SueAndNotU has died and gone to Texas, where all good little girls and boys go if they do their homework and say 3 Hail Margaritas every night before going to bed.

SueAndNotU is probably flitting on angel wings from enchilada to enchilada, but nevertheless, we intend to yank the blog back from oblivion just like they did to Buffy after she died on Season 4. or 5. Buffy was in heaven when they resurrected her, and SueAndNotU may be in paradise, but the details are a little fuzzy because Lord knows, where she is, it's hotter than Hades.

--The Management