Friday, September 30, 2005

Call of the haters

I've been meaning to update about Thumbsucker but now it's been over two weeks since I saw the movie and my memory has gone all fuzzy and gray like bread mold. Yes, my brain is one big loaf of bread, no wonder, ready to be disposed of within a week, with no hope of saving by the graces of ginko.

Well, first there was the lag time. I have this bad habit of taking a really long time to digest (all this language of food!) a work. And if I hit the writing at the right time, while the proverbial iron is looking for a/c, I get that balance between actually remembering thoughts and feelings 'of the moment' and integrating that with realizations or useful comparisons to other works or larger pictures. Needless to say, I always arrive when the iron's all icy with unwelcoming, the kind of cold that is: "I've been sitting here waiting and dinner's ruined and the kids are hungry and you come in all devoid of memory and feeling and insight. You're sleeping on the couch tonight."

Secondly, I got stuck on a rather moldy subject indeed – hipsters. Why? Why spend time on this? ...a word that is ammunition enough to make certain people run away in the opposite direction towards the Gap. In the right hands, the reaction is something funny, enjoyable, recognizing both the ridiculosity of hipsterdom and paying attention to it. Otherwise, there is this mirror upon mirrors of hating on supposed haters, the term losing whatever small amount of meaning it had in the first place (perhaps none) and failing to describe either or both artists and their work.

I'd been familiar with the term in the realm of clothes, music, ipods, but not really in terms of movies until more recently. I guess there were always those few Wes Anderson movies, Lost in Translation, or anything with Bill Murray, and Donnie Darko (which I have never seen) that get bounced around in "indie" or "hipster" vocabulary courts. Maybe I've just never paid attention to this reaction before and I'm seeing more movies or maybe it's something that was single-handedly born of Zach Braff and Garden State and Natalie Portman freaking out to the Shins.
But now terms like quirky, hipster, indie, emo, arty are sprinkled on just about anything. And then hated upon by the sprinklers. The culprit for this topical foray was not only the reviews of Thumbsucker that almost without fail mentioned one of the above terms, it was this thread. "INDIE TRENDFEST"!!!! it blares.
The more I read, the more I got confused at exactly what was being argued, what was being hated. (Maybe it's that I fundamentally don't understand the hater attitude. Such strong, all-encompassing, all-knowing feelings!!!) There was being mad at being "indie"/purposefully and mad at being "not indie enough"/original. Perhaps I became frustrated with the real lack of concreteness of what it means to be "indie" and the treatment by commenters that it was. I mean the term gets especially mixed up in a field where one needs an incredible amount of money (ring the commercial bell!) to get anything of feature-length done and distributed and then there's that long trip from birth of script to movie theater. It's harder to be trendy when it takes years to step out the door.
(Plus I got riled up by things like spelling errors. Lack of research. Earnest references to "The OC", spelling errors. I am SO cool.)
And, I found it strange that people take issue with yet-anothers. "I'm sick of yet another..." like yet-anothers is a contagious disease, often in response to plots and settings. There are three basic settings: city, country, suburbia. Soooooo, I mean, really, is it ALL THAT STRANGE to have "yet another" movie that takes place in suburbia? I mean, don't some people live in suburbia?? Don't people feel lonely? Don't adolescents feel alienated? Don't they, and everybody else, and Pink (what happened to her?) feel misunderstood?? Oh no, just another movie about somebody being unhappy at a certain point in their lives and how those around them react! Oh no HOW CLICHÉ!!!!
Isn't the art in narrative forms in how they are told?
Now, if the negativity stemmed from something like, "Oh no not another white soul-searching protagonist male" then I'd be all, you go girl, even if you're a boy. I could understand that argument a little more. I don't start out discussing American movies with "God, I'm so sick of white people in movies. It's so CLICHÉ." because in most cases, in discussing the movie itself, as a work, it's useless commentary.
What's weird is that some of these really disdainful reactions arise out of people who haven't even seen the movie and that these terms are bandied uselessly about by reviewers. But then, there's always marketing to say hello to your preconceived notions, as well as the practice of hating by genre, or saying something like, I'm so sick of label-label-label kind of thing but I decided to give it a chance and watch it and it surprised me and I sorta liked it and so at least it's the best of it's label-label-labelBOX.
Marketing is a trickster! I took a look at the movie poster and I kinda went, "Uh-oh," the sorta "quirky" (UNAVOIDABLE!) hipster alarm bell ringing, the joyous strains of Polyphonic Spree wailing, "You are sooooooooo innddiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee!!!!! Love it! Accept it!" And I begin to think in boxes too. It's human. Though we recoil against them, we like boxes. Hats like boxes. But ... most of all, we like boxes, with things inside. Which you take outside of them. Like Gifts. And puppies.
Summary of too-long-entry: Stop using useless labels to justify or explain why you like or don't like a movie. I guess it is useful for other things, but it does not help me. Please send me gifts. Not necessarily puppies.
And yes, I will talk about the actual movie. This was all a very bad tangent-dream, life is but a.

Monday, September 26, 2005

food memememememe

Well, I've been tagged for a food and wine meme by Roboppy.

This fact alone, I must admit, caused me a couple minutes of cloudy thinking. It should be known that sometimes my brain likes to drive like a grandma... on a sunday... on nyquil. I've had similar speeds of processing happen with understanding things like bittorrents, movable type, my math class senior year called 'super-calc', my future, and finally, what exactly a MEME is. It sounds vaguely amoebic and if pronounced MIMI, it would be a small shapeless selfish organism, very dangerous and very blobby which we would all get vaccinations for, along with, say it with me - measles mumps rubella!

But it's not. And I've basically got the gist of it. Answer the question and pass it around. (See? Kind of like a disease.) So I will address the question at hand, originally posed by basicjuice to recall the best bottle/glass of wine sampled over the past 30 days and for foodies to say what is the best, wine-friendliest dish tasted.

This whole issue is made easy by the fact that I am poor. While I love food and enjoy a nice wine (still learning on that end), I mostly eat and drink rather simply. Luckily the past month was one where I bought a bottle of wine. One day I stopped by 67 Wine and liquor because oh I dunno – sometimes you just want some wine. Inspired by a lovely glass in Rome from a couple months ago, I originally stepped in the door to find an Italian red, a Sangiovese. But when the wine guy (they're very nice and knowledgeable @ 67wine) who was helping some other dude that was hanging around the squishy corner of Italian reds was in the midst of recommending trying a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, I stepped two inches to the left and slightly changed course. Helpful Wine Guy said, "Try it! It's smoother than the Sangiovese," though in a sort of distinguished 'I drink wine all the time' kind of way. But sure, I'm all for the smooth, and well... the bottle was under $10. Sign me up! I walked out the door with Caleo's 2003 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.
My palate is nowhere near sophisticated enough to be able to find seemingly impossible (to me) hints of strawberries, tobacco, grass, when 'hipster' will disappear from the collective lexicon. But I did like it a lot, especially for the cost. It was dry, yet round and full, perhaps a bit ragged and sharp on the edges. I might as well paint you an abstract expressionist work (it will be titled Amoebic Meme #2!!!!) because I don't know how to describe wine and that last sentence was full of inconsistencies. I'm still under a three tier evaluation system: like, dislike, spit out.
As a non-topic-specific blog, I'll just go ahead and answer the food part as well, another easy one because what's more wine-friendly than when wine is an ingredient? The wine made friends with a pasta I made that lasted a week, which is what happens when you're cooking for one. The food gets saltier along with the tears. Kidddinggggg. Anyways, basically when it comes to pasta, I just throw a bunch of stuff together. Ground meat was browned with onions and seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano. Tomatoes were cooked in olive oil and garlic, salt and red pepper to spice it up (though I hear the Italians don't cook dishes with onions AND garlic) until they were mushy. Deglazed the meat pan with some of the Montepulciano and put everything in one pot and put a bit more wine during the simmer because I got a little bored. And that was that.
Time to pass the baton to Mishmosh because she's DUE FOR AN UPDATE and errrmmmm Amateur Gourmet, because I'm not too familiar with the food-blogging community and I really like his writing.

Friday, September 23, 2005

italy is illuminated


alley in Trastevere

Here are a few photos from Rome (I'm sorry I never finished those travelogues) to bid you good weekend and to remind me to look to the light. I could make an Engrish joke here about crossing traffic, but I guess I just did.


ceiling of church near Termini




We managed to be in Rome on their national holiday, Festa della Repubblica, which celebrates the establishment of the republican democracy of Italy. Thus, fireworks.


San Pietro

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Imaginary Friends

Being an only child is a lonely time.

Sure I missed out on all those sibling rivalries and jealousies and fights and what I imagine to be high drama of painting lines down the wall and the floor to separate Your side and My side, but I think I got that last image from reading Babysitter Club books or something. I never had hand-me-downs, or middle child syndrome, or somebody farting on me as a retaliatory act. Instead, I received the laser-beam attention of a crazed korean mother on the loose and lots of instrument and math lessons. I never had a partner in crime, a sibling shoulder to lean on, and rebelled with silent acts like carving the words "I HATE CELLO" on yes, the bottom of my cello. Real wild. (Well,now cello is one of my favorite sounds. Thanks Ma!)

So I would think that I would be one of those kids who had an imaginary friend or two or three. We'd shoot the shit and then go on adventures and climb trees or something wholesome and naturey like that. But I never really did have any specific imaginary friends. Certainly, I spent a large portion of my childhood in my imagination and I assigned life to many a stuffed animals. Instead, I think I created imaginary worlds, whole scenarios, instead of one special person or animal who was constantly hanging around.

But coming out of that lonely only child time, I can totally see the appeal of having one. And I wouldn't mind having an imaginary friend now and again, while I'm rattling around everyday, a little echo-ey.

I think everybody can identify with having imaginary friends. Esopus Magazine is a bi-yearly artsy magazine that also comes with a CD and for their 4th issue, they asked subscribers to submit descriptions of their childhood imaginary friends. Thirteen of these were used by musicians including Kimya Dawson and Avey Tare (from Animal Collective) to make songs. And when I first heard "Lisa" by a lovely Chapel Hill (yay) band called Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers a couple times on KEXP, it tugged the heartstrings, gave them a thrum.

I found the song again via Central Village. For a few days, here it is: Lisa with lyrics after the break. Lisa is an imaginary friend, who like so many, have been abandoned, and she rattles around the walls and halls. And if I ever meet her, I will ask her, "Hello Lisa. How are you feeling?"

There’s nothing I could call this
No architecture for the order of things
When I sat and watched you sleeping
Before the trucks arrive, boxed up your better life
I wrote you letters for awhile
Left to haunt this sad estate
In hollow walls and empty halls but all I saw was
Some doll that you’d abandoned
So I crawled inside where the stitching held me tight
And hoped that you’d come back to find me some time.
I hope that you’ll forgive me for being so severe
Your proximity was clouding my account of what was real here
You’re eight years old I’m stuck inside the wall
you always talk but never hold me and I wish that you would ask me how I’m feeling
there’s so much I want to tell you about the way I’m disappearing
and so many years have passed since that
I left the house I left the map to my new wall
You must have never found it
And I heard that you got married
And I hope that she helps you fall asleep these days
Cuz I knew the ways
When you were eight
You’re not what I imagined you’d become when we were younger
But I’m still in love with that one
But I’ve since found your parents’ house
And lived inside the wall
But you don’t ask about me when you call

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Pamplemousse followed by French Laughter.


This is a picture of champagne grapes. I like to pull them all off of the stem while washing them into a cereal bowl and then eat them with a spoon. If I were in a particularly ghoulish mood, I would pretend they were eyeballs. Really small eyeballs. Just kiddddinggggg. Champagne grapes, according to this grapelover are Black Corinth or Zante grapes, a variety from Greece. They're small and sweet and pretty. If you eat them off the stem, instead of my cereal-eyeball method, they make you feel like you are in ancient Rome, being epic and ancient and errr. Roman.


Here's another picture with a regular-sized nectarine so you get the size thing.

Grapes or no, I have been proved to be prone (bad songtitle, proved to be prone) to more 'high-end' foodstuffs, mainly from one of many on list of tragic flaws - Whole Foods. I was relatively ignorant of this fact until my roommate stopped me one day to ask, "Is that your chocolate pudding in the fridge?"

I nodded. Pudding=Good. Chocolate Pudding=Great. FOODMATH!

She continued,"Well I figured it was Andrew's (ex-roommate). Cuz it's SwissMiss."

Well, all the better isn't it? Who the hell wants fancy pudding?

Anyhow, it's also now become proven that Mikhail the Cat is also a food snob. Nancy and I both tend to buy good cheeses. Mikhail also loves cheese. Our newish roommate Charles likes eating grilled cheese for meals and once offered Mikhail some of the sandwich. Mikhail turned up his pink nose and walked away with fluffy tail turned high. "Kraft singles are just so bourgeois," he rumbled.

As Stephanie from Full House says, How Rude!

On Saturday night, I attended a "Celebration of the Paris Review," a sort of Wheee for the new editor/new design/and all that in the lovely Celeste Bartos Forum space, as part of a great series, Live from the NYPL.

The Hungry March Band started things off with a bang, with hoops-a-throwing and tiny saxophones-a-playing, and trumpets blazing and songs from crazy Yugoslavian movies. I'm totally having them play at my sweet sixteen going on sweet twenty-four.

Philip Gourevitch talked to the fabulous Miranda July and the ubiquitous Salman Rushdie. Miranda July read a beautiful story called Birthmark that's included in The Paris Review Book of People with Problems which I'm thoroughly wrapping myself up in, you know, non-literally (or as a metaphor, does it means literally still works?). I've been skipping around and it's got some wonderfully quiet and wistful/poignant almost to the point of ruthless stories. It's really light years, the difference between hearing a story read by a skillful reader and reading it on the page. July brought her text to such life with all of its edged humor and her gift for dialogue and inner thought processes that I noticed that I had to slow myself down with the book to catch the same sort of subtleties. I guess I've become a skimmer. Boo.

Anyways, Miranda July was the first half of the program and there was some Q&A with the audience. At one point, an old lady stood up, presumably to ask a question, and she sorta screeched out,"WHERE'S SALMAN RUSHDIE??" to the collective horror of everybody else in the room. Comments throughout the evening after that incident in support of July, who for about one second looked as if she were punched in the stomach, were made profusely by later questioners, audience members, and the host. Rushdie at the podium in the second half singled the old lady out, calling her a philistine and decried her behavior and there was much applause. He went on to read a bit from his new novel Shalimar the Clown and continued to be an entertaining, interesting, if slightly self-aggrandizing (hey, he's Salman Rushdie) interview subject.

I got my book signed by Miranda July because yknow, I liked her movie an awful lot and I wanted to say "Hello, I liked your movie an awful lot." Other fans had brought her shirts, cds, lovelier comments. Another old person just cut in line to speak to her. When I went home, I saw that the signature after "For Janet" was two squigglies. It could have been anything. I don't know why, but that made me a tiny bit sad but it's okay.

Here's a picture of the whole crew, brass band and all, that I found on Flickr.

tv alla meat sauce

If I remember correctly, I have a friend who used to make excel spreadsheets to sort out all the new fall TV line-ups. Cuz you know, it gets confusing. I thought of him yesterday as my roommate exclaimed, "It's premiere week!" in the ta-da!! sparkler tone of voice.

Anyways, I watched some new tv yesterday while my roommate was flipping around on the tv and her cat was outstretching his don juan paw because he wanted the meat sauce on my pasta.

Report: Arrested Development is still perhaps the funniest thing on tv - and Kitchen Confidential shows some promise. It sorta felt like they were trying too hard at times. Too wild! Too stock character! Too sappy! but it was entertaining enough, though give me the real Tony Bourdain on the Travel Channel anyday, meaning give me cable. I was pleasantly surprised to find John Cho on the cast (from Harold & Kumar) with or without all-purpose asian accent, I couldn't really tell. And Xander is the pastry chef! He has no real name. He is Xander. And Willow is on that other sitcom on CBS. I miss Buffy.

This entry: File under YAWN.

New ben&jerry's pint: Magic Brownies

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Throwing Cares away Carelessly, like Flotsam and Jetsam

Well, now I've discovered two things never to name sibling babies and pets - Flotsam and Jetsam. Even if you call 'em, Flo and Jet, it'd still be sort of sad and cruel - (you two aren't quite necessary!!). But a band named Flotsam!Jetsam!, that's entirely possible, because how many times have there been when you just wanted to throw some music, some band, some boring thing overboard into the choppy seas of nothingness?? It's a necessary survival tactic, even if it only in your head. Try it with your next annoying conversationalist.

Apologies for being gone for so long.

What's been going on? you ask solicitously.
I ask in return, Why is the checklist questions for depression so vague?

I believe a bit in coincidence, of some unconscious fate manifesting itself in signs other than those on bright yellow boards and hammers to the head. I imagine this happens often but I actually got a spam that wormed its way through the filter at my work e-mail. It was an ad for depression medication and listed these questions. This and that. And I was voting the straight ticket yesyesyesyesyesyes! And then I checked on the zoloft site (clinical research skills! airtight!) and they had similar questions and similar tickets. So, I gave up and raided the fridge for some ben&jerry's.

This is mostly what my past few weeks have been: Giving up. Raiding fridge.

Even when I complain, whine, ok shut up already, on this scrawl-site of mine, if it's updated regularly, it's usually a sign that I'm doing relatively okay. When I'm not, I'm either super-busy, or exploring the lower depths of the inverted roller-coaster that my mental health seems to be taking more and more these days. The lows get wildly lower, the highs are the breathers. And gravity's not quite doing its job.

The words aren't coming out. The thoughts aren't coming out. And I'm filled with a whole lot of "I don't care" sentiment, bleeding all over my psyche like some ugly oil spot, until you can see clear-through; what if there's nothing there? From time to time, I try and eat fruit, drink tea, to feel cleaner, clear-headed-er. And then I eat some awful take-out. Another small indicator: voracious hunger but no concern for what's going in mouth.

I haven't been holed up in my room, rocking in the corner. I've made efforts to go out and be busy and work has been busy and writing assignments have been piling up. I'm Hercules for going to work at all. Movies sometimes take me out. Dooce sometimes takes me out. I resist the urge to throw up at every other post about CMJ or self-aggrandizing preening comments that I happen upon. I resolve to stop reading music blogs. I wallow in short stories and sad music. I glare at people in the subway, on the sidewalk. Two strangers in the past week have told me to smile.

I've been seeing and talking to a good number of friends. Things seem to be proceeding with or without me. Life resembles the usual stuff in almost every aspect. But something's always thrumming in the background, that I should be holed up in my room because it's so goddamn tiring. I can't find Joy without Melancholy. Why is everything so tiring? And I've been waiting for the green light to pop up amidst the oil and say, OK! Turn the corner! But it's been on perpetual yellow. Nobody likes yellow lights!!! What are you supposed to do??! Slow down? Speed up?? I CAN'T TELL.

There's a quote that is supposedly from Maya Angelou which I despise. It goes something like, "If you don't like it change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." ...Gross. I will complain all the live long day, thank you very much. I feel like giving up and complaining over and over and over again. But since the psychological immune system isn't kicking in at all, it looks like I'll have to take the damn page out of the stalwart Angelou, if those are indeed her smarmy words.

I had a dream last night that I travelled through time - to past or future, I don't know. Somebody who looked like my freshman sleepwalking roommate woke up from her nap, was peacefully reading a book, and all of a sudden, totally stabbed my thigh with a knife. WTF???

Look, I'm collecting my efforts and I'm going to try again. I'm going to avoid more stabbing. I'm going to imagine throwing this feeling off my homely raft. We'll see.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Kanye Rips Bush

AP Reports, Kanye West Rips Bush During NBC Concert: "A Concert for Hurricane Relief," a heartfelt and dignified benefit aired on NBC and other networks Friday night, took an unexpected turn thanks to the outspoken rapper Kanye West.

Appearing two-thirds through the program, he claimed "George Bush doesn't care about black people" and said America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible."

Stream clip.

Popwherry has links to reactions.

(Links via stereogum)

Walking through central park


"Well, fall must be around the corner," Flower said.
"Oh, isn't it horrible?!" whispered Small Flower a bit furiously, seeing her friends heads droopy with weariness, with the heaviness of late August air.
And the water sat relentlessly still and grass rustled this is life.