Friday, May 27, 2005

la dolce vita


Well, I'm off to Italy on Monday and it's the most exciting thing EV-ERRRRR. I haven't gone a-travelling on the international scale in awhile with my last trip out to Oxford, England two or three years ago. But now I'm just starvin' for some other soils. Merrr, that sounds potentially unhygienic. Don't eat dirt!

Now that I've imparted those words of wisdom, I can travel in peace. My excitement is stirred – frothed, even – for a number of reasons. 1. It's vacation! I don't have to go to work! 2. It's Italy! Amazing! That's about enough reasons. I will see some sights, eat and drink fabulous things. That's about all the italian I know anyway. Io vorrei mangiare - I want to eat. I'm set to go.

With poor travel planning, meaning I'm poor and I also have poor judgment and a quick mouse clicking finger, I only get four full days in italy. But I am sure to make the most of it. I won't get to see a ton of Rome but we are also planning to go to Cinque Terre, or "Five Lands", the Italian Riviera. There will be much hiking, beach-exploring, ogling at beauty, picture taking, and of course, mangiare between these western Italian coastal collection of five towns.

And when I get back, of course, I will have a new lease on life. I will make changes. I will fill my hollow promises to myself. With a delicious filling.

[photo: cinque terre]

p.s. I may or may not update while there. But will post feverishly upon return.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Chocolate Call

Uhhh.. This is maybe the best thing ever?

Everything chocolate.

Monday, May 23, 2005


This introduction to Marjane Satrapi's explanation for writing her graphic novel, Persepolis starts with this assumption: Chances are that if you are an American you know very little about the 1979 Iranian Revolution. They got me there... even given that I, as myself and perhaps as an American, know very little about every other thing under the sun (dilettante! the accusatory cry!). I think we may have skimmed over the topic in some international-ly labelled class in college but that's about it. But despite war and censorship, there has been a great amount of great work from Iranian artists on all fronts – film, literature, music, visual. I am at least just scratching the surface.

Graphic novels, by their nature, can combine a lot of elements and genres into a powerful punch of a piece. Satrapi, herself, comments that writing one resembles working on a movie. In that respect, it's what you might call 'easy reading' (pictures!) on that impossible thing called Life; the reading/looking goes relatively quickly but remains simultaneously enjoyable and deep and affecting. Persepolis tells the story of Satrapi's childhood, growing up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution and a war with Iraq. You know it's going to be good by the end of the first page, where little girls are playing and fussing with their newly acquired veils -- "Ooh, I'm the monster of darkness!" My favorite interchanges are between Marjane and God; once they have a bit of a tiff and God tries to lighten things up mumbling, "The weather's going to be nice tomorrow." Hilarious when you see it, ok?

Persepolis has even become a standard text at West Point, where she gave a lecture recently. I'm in the middle of Persepolis 2 which follows Marjane to Austria for boarding school and adolescent years and finding it a tiny bit less enjoyable because c'mon, Cute little girl vs Teenage Angst? Still, undeniably great.

You can see some excerpts from the first one here.
Interviews with Satrapi from Powells and bookslut.

I've also started Strange Times, My Dear, an anthology of short stories, excerpts, and poems by over fifty writers, put together by PEN. More when I'm further in. But in the meantimes, the Strand has it about half the list price.

Friday, May 20, 2005

the holy girl

I've noticed that movie audiences in New York, at least for the smaller movies, are quite vocal in expressing their dissatisfaction at anything in particular. They will talk during the previews, remain relatively quiet during the actual movie, and deliver verdicts as soon as the first credit rolls on the screen. Last night, I watched Lucrecia Martel's La Niña Santa (The Holy Girl). I sat down to immediately hear German-accented tones of disgruntlement and then movement to the right, behind me. I am, as you all well know, a gargantuan giantess and in all east Asian countries, banned from sitting in front rows. Don't Germanically gruntle at me! I'm incapable of, how do they say, obstructing your old lady view!

The movie was sort of like when you take shots of tequila and you're feeling fine and then you're feelin' whatever resembling sober and then it starts hitting you, like it has its own time frame and it's not paying any attention to yours. Because while I enjoyed watching the movie itself, following the events unfold, the weaving of threads, I didn't quite appreciate it all until a couple hours later. More than not, I was left taken aback at the abrupt ending (which prompted a "What, are you kidding me?!" response from grumpy old man in back row).

The Holy Girl is about an adolescent girl Amalia on the cusp of discovering and exploring an entire range of things, as most do whilst growing up, namely sexuality and purpose in life, in this case "vocation." She and her best friend Josefina study along with a group of girls about vocation listening for the "call from God" with an instructor who clearly doesn't have a handle on her students' young-wise questions, doubts, and arguments ("If I heard a voice telling me to kill somebody like God told Abraham, I would think it was the Devil."), responding ineffectually with simple declaratives that start with "We must..."

Amalia and her lonely mother and mother's brother live in a hotel which is hosting a conference for ENT doctors. One of the doctors rubs up against Amalia, not knowing who she is, while watching a street performer playing the theremin. Martel covers a rather breathtaking amount of material in such a low-key, invisible hand way, that it's really not apparent from the start, how many things are going on, consciously constructed by her. She manages to give a depth of story and character not just to everybody from Amalia, the doctor, the mother, the uncle, and Josefina but even the smaller roles like the religious instructor, Josefina's family, the hotel workers are given an entirety with just a few words, just a few gestures, just a few notes. She shows glimpses of a wry humor in the everyday actions of the hotelworkers, the no nonsense responses of the characters and takes the time to spend this wonderful little scene where Amalia's mother is dancing by herself, kind of slow, sensual, by oneself deal, being watched by two little kids. One little boy is sort of entranced. And the other is a little girl, also enthralled but paying attention and trying to dance herself. A near ineffectual echo that will grow up, no doubt, to resemble more that grown woman, when she reaps more years.

What I liked most about the movie was the use of sounds and images, how they resound sometimes alone and sometimes play off each other. It really made me think of echoes, how eerie they can be, how they occur when one is isolated, how they can inform and deceive by their quality because they are reflections. Most of the characters exist, wrapped up in their own little worlds, and either don't listen or can't hear.

A.O. Scott's review describes it well: "The intense, unexpressed emotions that percolate through Ms. Martel's story of innocence and desire are conveyed, more than in most films, through sounds -- whispered and half-overhead conversations, the murmurings of water in old pipes, the strange auditory signals that float in from the edges of perception. Her visual style is similarly oblique, as she frames her characters through half-opened doors, at odd angles and in asymmetrical close-ups. To a degree that is sometimes disorienting, Ms. Martel explores the mysteries of the senses. They are our instruments for knowing ourselves, each other and the world, but they also mislead us, bringing pain, pleasure and confusion in equal measure."

Sweetie Pie

Oooh. Who knew the topic of refried beans could be so captivating?

Last night while I was out and about, drunkenly carousing and rousing - ok I was doing laundry and getting a slice of flourless chocolate cake - I passed no less than six or seven couples (m-f and f-f, no m-m) holding hands whilst walkin' round the billyburg night. This was in a timeframe of an hour or two. What's up with that?


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

scattering like marbles on the lam

I need to go to bed soon so that I can not be late for work tomorrow and then lose all control and then eat all the everything bagels left out in plain sight for CarbMonster (that's me). Bagels are perfect foodstuffs. And that's that.

But for a girl who spends half her day thinking about sleep, my brain's all scatter-like. If it were music, it would sound a little bit like a serrated knife spreading not enough butter on toast. Scrrrrr. Scrrr. Yes. My only awake times are at 1:11 in the morning and I'm making toast sounds that don't sound like toast at all. Gone are the illusions of becoming a fashion-minded young thing in heels. Listen to me walk in my staccato stiletto: suc-cess, suc-cess, suc-cess.

I don't think I could walk in stilettos. Maybe I could use them to spear some steak.

I really need to cancel my nyt subscription. Much as I like reading it on Saturday mornings, the mile high recycling pile that sits unread, unlearned, still with their crisp precise original folds rebuke my thinning wallet.

I opened a can of refried beans today and it reminded me a little bit too much of opening a can of catfood for my roommate's cat, Mikhail, otherwise known as the Arrogant Commander. Disturbing.

My wise mother told me not to eat anything after 6 pm for the losing of the weight. REBELLIOUS to the end, mamma!

Io capisco un po l'italiano. Practice makes perfect! errr. perfect-o!!!

adventures at sea

British Sea Power have rocking verbal flair. They have spirit. They have crazy eyes. And striped scarves. And singing birds. Where Ted Leo might be the musician whose songs would prove great practice for any SAT Verbal section, BSP can write a hell of a song about an ice shelf, use foliage and pheasants as decoration for sets, and then tell trees to f*ck off.

Their newsletters, which are a joy to read, are named after flora and fauna - Newsboost Gypsywort, Newsboost Beagle, Newsboost Douglas Fir, and maybe other things... (Caravelle? Ruslan? Magister?) They are a band with members who have names not like Tom or Chris but stranger, eerie-er constructions like Yan, Noble, Hamilton, Wood, and Eamon. These fine five lads, who could only hail from the salty seaside cities of Britannia, play the hell out of a show, as this blurb from a Rolling Stones review of a festival crows: "Fuck this puerile drivel, we're going to see British Sea Power... All of them have crazy acid-fried stares, the bass player is wearing tree branches on his head and one deliriously psycho-delic tune concludes with singer Yan beating on the drum-kit with a large stuffed owl. British Sea Power rule."

Examining the crowd at a show is always an interesting venture, as there is never quite the same intersection of interest in musicians between two people (just like if you don't know the band I'm talking about, you will most likely zone out all these extraneous words and glance at my blurry pictures). I know a lot of people were at the Bowery this past weekend to catch a little Feist magic but I hope there were some in the crowd, who like me, were beyond excited when I found out that she had been added on. Though, while I do like Feist and I did think it a bit of strange bill-sharing. Nonetheless, she was her charming self, trying her hardest, in vain, to get ny audiences to sing along, snap, clap along, show any outward signs of life. I liked her at Joe's Pub better though -- smaller venue better for loungier music and playing with a band gave her a different sort of energy.
Anyhoo, local boys, pela open opened, performing a solid set. And BSP, under their majestic bear and deer banners, were just great. There was much craziness with Eamon donning his military hat and beating his drum, crowd surfing upside down, at one point getting into the face of one girl and bellowing "oh-ee-oh-ee-oh-ee-oh-ee" while brandishing a drum stick.
Noble jumped off amps, broke a guitar string from over-rocking and dragged the still-playing-guitar Eamon across the floor of the stage a couple times. Hamilton hit himself on the head while jumping up and down in between mad bass-ing. Wood was just a crazy blur of arms on the drums. And Yan, he talked to this bird.
More pics of the show at Flickr

bah humbug


You know. My regularity in falling off the ends of my own internet earth for stretches of time is similar to how almost every weekday morning I wake up, I'm convinced that I'm feeling really under the weather, ill, dying... can't... go... to... work. And then I remember, well I can't just skip over to my evening yoga class later on across the street from work like nothing is wrong and really understand the lifting of the heart. I wouldn't be able to look my true strong self in the eye. Obviously I still know very little about yoga and now that I think about being able to look at your own eyes, it gets both really confusing and creepy.

Unfortunately, I've discovered, since I don't have the aid of such things as focus, drive, cut-throat ambition, or ADD medication, I can't be a long distance runner. I know nothing about pacing and I don't know where I'm headed. I go through these good periods of time and bad periods in alternating spurts -- everything becoming more pronounced over the last few years -- a really slow, actually rather dull rollercoaster where the ups are like, small Teletubby hills. Except the actual going through my days seem uphill themselves, mountains, with goats frolicking and laughing at me and then eating my scarf with goatly bahs of relish. A sort of flirtation with depression, whether its real or imagined or self-indulgent or goatly or otherwise, it comes in and out like a radio station with iffy reception.

Trying is trying. Keep on, keep on. Something like that. Baah.

Monday, May 09, 2005


LINKS active.

like a rolling stone

Well, looks like my lunch hour tomorrow might entail maneuvering around hordes of people. The Rolling Stones are hanging out at Juilliard on Tuesday. They're supposed to announce their tour, play a few songs, learn some Bach chorales for Musical Theory 101... who woulda thunk it?

Oh I'm Sorry. Did I let my Nerdy Musical Self out of the bag? Rock oN!

pink monday

Originally uploaded by me.

Adding some cheer to the beginning of the week. It's a tough task, like cheap meat. Click pics to experience more pink, you doll you.

Friday, May 06, 2005

coffeee against the machine

You might have caught this in the Times or tmn a few days ago, but Delocator is a site where you type in a zip code and voilà, in the slow blink of a non-caffeineted eye: a list of non-Starbucks cafés on the left, compared to a Starbucks list on the right. The site arose out of an art installation in San Fran by media collective Finishing School and is an idea that I wish I had thought of myself. Those Internet Ideas. Amazing. You just push a bunch of buttons! Anyways, the drawback is that since it searches in a 5 mile radius, for crowded areas like NYC, you get an overwhelming number of results that might not be so helpful.

I'm usually inordinately content when I'm at a coffee/tea place that I like. Because it usually means I have some time on my hands, enjoying a cuppa something nice plus maybe something sweet and probably made out of chocolate, and that I'm reading and every hundredth day, maybe even writing. What's not to love? Even misanthropes and grumpy people can enjoy cafés because they just have to hang out with themselves! And I don't want to hang out with you, either.

One day, perhaps I will have my own coffee place... What's your dream café like?


Also, how I know I'm a foodie: I was feeling low and blue the other day and it was this entry on baguettes and its comments that cheered me up. That's right. All it takes me to smile is some carbs. My mother the other day kindly informed me that enjoying food is "in our genes." Clearly, that "science" gene does not run in the family. Apparently, my grandfather enjoyed eating so much that during really rough economic times during/after the Korean War, he would always be sure to spend money on good food. He also ran a brewery.. (?!?!?!!) I have much to learn about my family history.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

are you the tortoise or the hare?

This is all about bringing you up to speed. You know, so you don't have to dig in those calves and heels any harder into the asphalt, don't have to maneuver around those dots of people, that tricky moving obstacle course.

A mishmash of things. Or some in California might prefer to say, mishmosh of things...

This past weekend, I attended my first professional sporting event. It was called How the New Jersey Nets can only be from New Jersey. Those Nets. They have Heart. They can have Zing. And even a dollop of skewed, lack of open-space-panache. But they can also be scrubby. Like they were on Sunday, against the blaze of the Miami Heat. Shaq didn't even do anything; he ran up and down the court a couple times for cardiovascular upkeep.

I, too, am from NJ. But we won't go into some sort of situation where I parallel my life and intellectual being to the scrubby, panache-misplacing Nets.....

In local news, Mitch from NJ for Democracy assures me that Edison polls show Jun Choi leading Spadoro. I don't know where those polls, or that panache, are. But in any case, it'll be really interesting to see how this mayoral race plays out. I just like saying 'panache'.

I think I had other things to talk about but my synapses went ahead to reconnaissance some sleeping for me...

PANACHE!!!!! Synapses, right? Brain thingies? At least I didn't say occipital bone. Thank you one semester of forensic anthropology!!!

home improvement

Many hours and fumes later. You can also call it, how do they say it? Shoddy Workmanship. Yes, that's it. I ran out of paint so the bottoms are all.. gross. It took me many many moons after I moved into my homey cosy small bklyn home, but at least now I will not have to suffer green. Sorry Kermie. I know it's not easy.