Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Esprit d'Escalier

Back in spring of ought-five, there was a minor group spat over a proposition put forth by Tom, to wit: women will one day covet men for displaying primo video game prowess.

I mean, it's still just so cute and dear that merely writing that makes my bottom lip pout out. But he and his cohorts were quite serious and it seemed only kind to disabuse him of this notion quickly and uncompromisingly. So we argued back and forth (and somehow I missed Matty in comments discovering an entire generation[!!] of women existing behind me and Catherine; I've run to the mirror to check for eye bags and other saggy things).

But why did I spill a thousand words when this picture would have done the job?

[shamelessly ripped from the dashing laoser]

Monday, January 15, 2007

Stir Crazy: Ice Storm Edition

It's not the ice so much as the stupid drivers, as we all know, so it's really best to sit tight and rifle through cookbooks and drawers for shiny things that will distract you from your torpor until enough time has passed that you think it's acceptable to go back and veg in front of The Wire for a few more hours. Here's what I came up with.

Household Gems my Mother Has Unaccountably Hidden From Me
An apron printed with recipes for Air Raid soup? Yes, please!

Proof that I am a Changeling

My mother folds and carefully stacks plastic grocery bags after returning from a shopping run. Odds that my life will bring her anything but quiet disappointment? Low.

Mad Scientist Comfort Food

That's homemade hot chocolate and a homemade marshmallow [!?!]. I did not know marshmallows could be made. But they can, pretty easily. And when a bit fat pillowy one takes a dip in your sinfully rich homemade cocoa (with just a hint of cinnamon), you don't know how you'll even go back to Ghirardelli, much less Swiss Miss (that cheap whore).

Friday, January 12, 2007

Oh Yes She Did

In light of David Beckham's announced transfer to play for the L.A. Galaxy, I e-mailed my soccer-obsessed roommate to tell him that I've suddenly discovered a new affection for the sport, and to count me in for tickets next time, uh, the Wizards play the Galaxy.

I mean, the sheer avalanche of ways to let me know I'm a complete retard must have been paralyzing. Not a banner day for the sisterhood; sorry ladies.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Buy Me Some Bubbly and Cracker-Jacks

Who, me? What did I do this evening? Oh, I took in the opera don't you know. Oh, they're doing Donizetti's Maria Stuarda; it's not canon, darling, but still.
Here's the thing. I spent ten years training as a classical musician. A fine orchestra can make my stomach flutter something fierce. I have flat-out embarrassed myself at ballet performances, I get so fired up. I'm not some hayseed scratching my groin and spitting my tobacky sidewards, is what I'm saying. But opera, I just don't get.

Granted, I haven't been to tons. In fact, the last performance I saw was Boris Godunov in Moscow, which was eh, but I was so jazzed to be at the Bolshoi, I didn't really care. I approach my distaste with the assumption that I am failing opera, not the other way around. Surely I've just not tried hard enough. Surely an open mind remains necessary. And really, there are certain arias that, on their own, are undeniably sublime.

But I think I've put my finger on the problem, and it's that all of my critical faculties for music, theater, literature, and film, are tuned to prize masterful subtlety. The barely noticeable detail that betrays fine craftsmanship. The scalpel not the hammer, right? And opera is a bulldozer. I appreciate the technical prowess of the singers; their control, their range. I knew opera singers back in music school and I know that they work their performances down to the details as minute and fine as any poet. But it still feels like a sledgehammer to me.

Perhaps it's because these virtuoso performances have to be couched in absolute theatrical ridiculousness. Characters with stupid motivations betraying simplest common sense, villains wearing black, heroes wearing white, maidens pure of heart and true in love betrayed by....zzzzzz. Timeless music deserves a better setting than that. I'm perfectly willing to suspend some disbelief for the purpose of drama, but I'm not willing to smother it to death altogether.

Regardless, a fun and diverting evening, and I include in the entertainment my fellow patrons. Dallas, you big ridiculous hairball of a city, sometimes I love you. There was a curious proliferation of gay men wearing black leather pants in the audience; is that an opera convention or more of a Dallas thing? And Dallas women, I salute you. I know it was 58 degrees tonight but you were going to the opera and you'd be damned if you weren't wearing your furs with your diamonds. Women don't sweat, darlin', they glisten. Brava!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Mind the Gap

Potentially bad news for Tom and Matt. Or have you fellas found a new fashion muse?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Holiday Sloth Update

1. Roughly 4 years too late, I've now finished watching seasons 1 and 2 of The Wire. Many conversations are now 50% more comprehensible to me. It's pointless, this late in the game, for me to attempt any original commentary, but I'll just join the pile-on: damn it's a fine show. Per conventional wisdom, season 2 is not quite as gripping as Season 1, and I'm fine with leaving the dock workers behind so we can get back to Stringer Bell and the palace intrigue going down in west bal'imur.

2. Roughly 66 years too late, I'm about halfway through reading the Siege of Leningrad, and things are looking grim for the Venice of the North. I forgot how much I love reading Russian history for the sheer gargantuan scale of it all. Unfortunately, the edition I scored from the library is from the 60s, and I imagine the updated edition gleaned a lot more from opened Soviet archives. Even so, a gripping read. The Nazis of Army Group Nord have fully encircled Leningrad and they're tightening the noose. All able-bodied Leningraders have organized into Workers Battalions and are preparing the city for street warfare. They've mined all the buildings, factories, and railways. If the Nazis invade in force, they will simply blow their beloved city into dust rather than let Hitler enjoy his victory parade past the Winter Palace. Next up will be aerial bombardment and roughly three years of blockade and mass starvation. Obviously, I sort of know how this ends, but pretty scintillating anyway.

Question: If Hollywood was as Commie-happy as we've been told since the 50s, how come we've got countless re-enactments of the storming of Normandy and none that I can think of the Leningrad blockade? Spielberg could go apeshit with this material.

The new sue

I know, it's awfully white. And not terribly original. But we're overdue for a facelift round here; that blue was awfully oppressive. So until I think of something more appealing, this is it. If I controlled the internet, there would be a way for me to just set out a box of crayons and let you all go to town, but nobody asked me.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Me too! Me too!

I have a music recommendation! Honestly, I do! True, the last time I was really up-to-date on popular music currents was when Young MC topped the charts, but after dipping my toe into the hipster whirlpool of Austin I am so ahead of all y'all.

Voxtrot, the great white hope from Austin. Rock and roll, catchy as all hell.

Listened to their two EPs (thanks, Justin!) for three hours straight driving from Austin to Dallas, partly out of laziness, but by the time I hit Waxahachie I was hooked. Fine, fine driving music.

Here's the part where you all tell me how you're soooo over them already. Go ahead.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

From Dushanbe, With Plov

You know that gorgeous part of James Joyce's The Dead, where the protagonist's wife is telling him the story of young Michael Furey, a beau who courted her when she was a young girl and walked through the rain for her and caught his death? And after hearing his wife's secret tragedy for the first time, he grimly thinks something like, "So. She's had that love in her life."

Well. New Year's is the time of year when I am reminded of a certain secret treasure in my own life: my lovesick Tajik translator. I have had that in my life. May you all have one some day.

Few years back, I was in Tajikistan, doing my thing. Had a translator, Saidmuhiddin, who was very sweet and helpful and asked me charmingly odd questions like "Are there many trees in your country?" Things like that.

After I left, Saidmuhiddin sent me an email proclaiming his affection for me in a most elaborate manner. I was shocked—not only by the sentiment, which seemed outrageously misplaced—but by the language he used. I feel sort of awful about broadcasting part of it. I've been hemming and hawing and really, truly, I shouldn't. It's not kind, it's not classy, it's a bit dishonest and unfair. But god, it's so funny. Forgive me Saidmuhiddin. Here is an excerpt of what my lovesick Tajik translator had to say to me.
Indeed, for me now, it is not easy if not difficult to confine the flood of wishes storming out of my heart and mind into the lake of language, and words can’t express my ultimate wishes at the moment as human language is not ever able to convey the load of lush magnificent notions you wish to express.

You see? I responded with a note telling him that it was a pleasure to meet him and I enjoyed the opportunity to work together and other benign pleasantries in hopes that he'd get the idea. And perhaps he did, but now every January I receive a lovely New Year's greeting from Saidmuhiddin, and when I do, I remember the whole story and it makes me smile.

Only this year, I read the New Year's message and it all looked a little familiar. With a quick search, I tracked back to previous missives, and, can you believe?! The whole business about the storming wishes and the lakes of language? Are in every one! Verbatim! My lovesick Tajik translator is sending me form letters! Upon how many other ladies is he conveying loads of notions, I'd like to know??

Harumph. A lovesick Tajik translator with an itchy cut-and-paste finger. So I've had that in my life.

Country Roads

I thought my expertise at hauling cars out of mud and snow was pretty solid, until I saw #1 on this list of Most Dangerous Roads. Georgia clocked in at #3, but from the looks of the photos, there's a sizable danger gap between Bolivia (#2) and Georgia (if you control for wine consumption). I mean, holy cow:

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Not Atypical Conversation Snippet Overheard in Austin

"Oh hey man, where did you get your shirt? My girlfriend is, like, really into pirate ships and she has a ferret, so you know, it would be perfect."

Such Sweet Sorrow

Oh God, did I seriously start crying when I drove away from Austin this afternoon? Oh yes. Yes I did. What the hell is wrong with me? Some theories follow.

a) I have become a psychotic crybaby. I am a few hormonal shifts away from turning into my mother, who cries when Lee Greenwood sings that he is proud to be an American.
b) Austin rush hour, which apparently begins at 4pm
c) My Nintendo Wii arm is still sore from knocking Justin out cold on his ass. In Round One.
d) Lingering heartburn from having outrageously good queso and tacos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And brunch. And linner.
e) My dancing feet still hurt from a barn-burnin' New Year's Eve and the post-party limping around downtown barefoot, but for socks pilfered straight off the feet of the aforementioned sparring partner.
f) Because leaving Austin sometimes feel like that part of the movie when Dorothy comes back to Kansas from Oz, and all the lovely super-saturated colors and lollipop-bearing munchkins and jolly singing companions switch to black-and-white and dust and a lot of old people hovering around. If this strikes you as rhetorical overkill, it is because you do not yet know that my original metaphor was going to be the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. So this is me being restrained and subtle. Remind me again why I don't drop out of school and while away my days slinging coffee grinds for a living?