Thursday, July 28, 2005

I'm back

And most of the way through the first day of a three-day workgroup meeting. Very, very fried. Here are my two favorite photos of the trip. More to follow.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The kind of thing that makes your night

Overheard in the hallway of my hotel...

One traveler to another--with no trace of irony:

It's a long way to Tipperary?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

I may never... an American scone again.

And another thing: I never realized fries/chips could serve as a side dish to so many foods. Lasagna with chips...who would have thought?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

And one more thing

Here's a lovely quote for you all from the Oscar Wilde statue/homage (photos to be uploaded upon return):

"Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple and the simple thing is the right thing."

While we're on the subject of losing reproductive rights

The Center for Reproductive Rights has a pretty cool reference page showing how those rights are limited (or not) around the world. Just in case I'm not the only one fantasizing about emigration.

Or maybe I'll just stay here

So far here in Dublin--happily--I have not had to discuss US politics. It's been a bit like that alcoholic relative everyone knows is a lush but no one asks about. We did have a chat with the cab driver and a Spaniard fellow-passenger about the EU constitution debacle; the Irish/French consensus in that cab was that the document was needlessly complex and that people felt they were being asked/pressed to agree to something they did not understand.

Meanwhile I see back in beloved homeland the Dems are bending over while Bush shoves his wannabe Supreme Court justice everyone's keester. Let's see...the man thinks torture is constitutional but abortion and protecting the environment are not; the government should be allowed to keep energy task force records secret; disabled workers should have their claims limited; and twelve year olds should be arrested for eating french fries on subways.

And yet, what does my fine Senator say?
"Do I believe this is a filibuster-able nominee? The answer would be no, not at this time I don't," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein
Fucking Feinstein. It's a pity we don't have the technology for retroactive abortion. The rest of her partners in infamy join her in that opinion.

Friday, July 15, 2005

How you know he's a punk

Yesterday coming home from wherever, I was listening to an interview on Indy 103.1 (one of LA's best joys). They were talking to Keith Morris from the Circle Jerks (and prior to that Black Flag) and they asked him who were the Circle Jerks' influences. He said, and I'm paraphrasing:

Our biggest influences weren't so much the people we liked. But we formed the band in part because we hated what was going on in music, so those were our biggest influences: the bands we didn't want to be like.

And here I need to say that I hear something like that and it so totally warms my heart. There is such a thing as a punk rock ethic, for lack of a better way to put it, and even though it's pretty rare that I put on a band like the Circle Jerks anymore (though I listen to Indy all the time and they do play those bands), once a punk--always a punk.

In fact, I have this theory that there's such a thing as "congenital punkness." People who are congenital punks find themselves strangely calmed by music like hardcore punk rock. It's like Ritalin: if you're ADD it calms you down; to the rest of the world it's speed. That's how you know if you've got a punk rock soul I figure.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Happy Bastille Day!

I just realized it's Bastille Day. Happy day to everyone.

Wikipedia gives us this fabulous quote for today:

"Who can trust a people who celebrate, as their national event, a jailbreak?"

Margaret Thatcher

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What's going on with me

I know, hardly news compared with, say, what's going on with Rove, but I'm self-centered, what can I say.

So I'm in a board meeting for the next three days and then I leave for Dublin Sunday morning. I return 36 hours before a three-day meeting for my own project at work. Thus my need for the prozak bubble emoticon (see below). Just as the news is getting good I have no time for blogging.

I am ridiculously excited about the trip. I haven't crossed an ocean in maybe a decade. I'm squeezing a couple of days in for myself, and I know I want to see the Vermeer in the National Gallery and to visit Swift's grave and tell him how much we miss him right now except that no one can tell what satire is anymore. It's an era where the satirists might as well just get a job writing copy for network news. So if anyone has any tips about the Emerald Isle please post them. Or if you can tell me what the blarney stone is exactly and why a person should kiss it, I'm happy for that information as well.

In the meantime I am just trying to survive the valley heat and, of course, as always, searching for my warp in the space-time continuum.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Whadya know

They found the ice pick that did Trotsky in. Of course, this made me think of The Stranglers' No More Heroes, which in turn led to the discovery of a Stranglers tribute band. Kinda scary.

Enough with the hand-wringing

Okay, I think I've had about as much contemplation of our fucked-up-ness as I can take for the nonce. The other thing I wanted to talk about today was Me, You, and Everyone We Know. And thinking about that made me realize that just about everything here falls into three categories: political lament, we interrupt your regularly scheduled lament for something really absurd or funny, and the restorative/ transformative power of art. And so we have: Everything's fucked--but what a beautiful poem--and how gross, you can get a flash drive shaped like a finger.

In the spirit of the second category, I interrupt the misanthropy fest to give a hearty recommendation for everyone to go see Me, You, and Everyone. Without wanting to spoil anything, I'm calling it a cross between I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing and Punch-Drunk Love. I hated the latter, actually, but I do think M, Y, and E is, in some ways, the movie P-D L wanted to be. Anyway, it's great. And Kim pointed me to Miranda July's blog--she being the powerhouse writer/ director/ actor behind the movie. I almost never see a film twice in the theater--the last time may have been Memento--but I knew before it was over that I was going to see it again as soon as I could.

Emoticons I could use

I am enough of a snob that I tend to eschew emoticons. I see them as symptomatic of the post-literate quality of our era--that is, if you write well enough, you shouldn't need a little smiley to say "I'm kidding."

Be that as it may, I sometimes fight the desire to insert just such a smiley. When that urge strikes, I usually write, "If I believed in emoticons I would insert a smiley here." Like I said, I'm a snob.

Today it occurred to me that if there were an emoticon like those purple Zoloft anxiety bubbles, I would be using them in just about every email I send right now.

I've said it before--the shoemakers' elves are really an adult fantasy. In their absence, I continue to search for a warp in the time-space continuum so that I can get all of the shit done I need to. Instead I am trying to content myself with listening to the Pixies and trying not to hyperventilate.

Depraved indifference

Fox News' Brit Hume Thursday:
I mean, my first thought when I heard -- just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, "Hmmm, time to buy."
(Link via Seattleforge, and a thanks to Conor for the head's up--as if I needed more reasons to be misanthropic.)

From Carolyn Forche's "Ourselves or Nothing":

In the mass graves, a woman's hand
caged in the ribs of her child,
a single stone in Spain beneath olives,
in Germany the silent windy fields,
in the Soviet Union where the snow
is scarred with wire, in Salvador
where the blood will never soak
into the ground, everywhere and always
go after that which is lost.
There is a cyclone fence between
ourselves and the slaughter and behind it
we hover in a calm protected world like
netted fish, exactly like netted fish.
It is neither the beginning nor the end
of the world, and the choice is ourselves
or nothing.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

If he were three years younger

I'd really worry that my ex-husband had moved to LA.

Friday, July 08, 2005

If I were reviewing the script

Here's what I would say.

First, can you nuance the conflict more? As it is, the plot suffers from a Manichean distinction between good and evil that I see only working in an action movie or a superhero flick. A statement such as this one, for example:
The contrast couldn't be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and those who kill -- those who have got such evil in their heart that they will take the lives of innocent folks.

just isn't going to be believable by your audience. If you want to create a real-life drama, you're going to have to create more complicated characters--a psyche that's neither totally good nor totally evil--and a set of motivations that is better thought through than "they are bad; we are good."

Second, when proposing a plot about the demise of the West, you simply can't name one of the characters "Jack Straw." It's just far too obvious.

And finally, what's with the sheep? If you make the symbolism any more blatant, people will begin throwing things at the screen. True, they may have managed to pull off raining frogs in Magnolia, but I really think the mass suicide of 450 sheep is going to be a far too transparent metaphor. People will walk out before the film is even over.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The war no one can win

"We shall prevail and they shall not."

Tony Blair today

Poor England and poor all of us. I hardly see how anyone can prevail in all of this.

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


Why pretend anymore

You know what democracy in America is like these days? It's like those loveless marriages that are a tremendous psychological burden on both partners and their children yet take place in nice homes with manicured lawns. "How was your day?" "Fine. How was yours?" "Fine."

We've got a stepford citizen kind of thing going on.

In one of the more under-reported stories of the past few weeks, it's come to light that the RNC under-reported the amount they paid Sproul and Associates. You may remember hearing about their illegal activities last fall--registering Democrats as Republicans, destroying Democrats' voter registration forms--you remember that right? Well, it seems that the earlier figure the RNC reported--$488,957--was a slight under-estimate. In fact, they were paid $8,359,161.

The Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel seems to be the only newspaper in the world that cares. (Thanks to Chris for the link.)

Grateful I'm not in DC

You know, I grew up in DC and I remember in my youth feeling grateful I lived at ground zero. Were there to be another world war, I did not want to be part of the rebuild the world team. I've seen Testament--no thanks.

But now, with our new version of world war--the amorphous and unending war against Eurasia...Eastasia...terror, I am really grateful to be away from the center of the bullseye. At least there are not men with rifles roaming the buses in LA.

Which is to say, our government sponsored paranoia color has been raised to orange for public transportation systems. Though Chertoff assures us, "I think our transit systems are safe."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Where to begin?

Once again I find myself contemplating the benefits of emigration as Judith Miller is jailed for not revealing her source, Karl Rove is unmasked as a villain worthy of a summer blockbuster, Alberto Gonzales is discussed as a potential supreme court justice, all of our resources and principles are being sucked dry by a war undertaken on pretense, and our president can't ride a bike and chew gum at the same time.

Clearly there is no dearth of material over which to lament. Sadly, I lack the time to do much sustained online lamenting right now. Despite my scanty blogging, rest assured I remain depressed over the state of the nation. If somehow Gonzales is confirmed I'm not even sure how I could express my rage and disgust. No gesture seems dramatic enough, given that I refuse to set fire to myself.

Wake me when it's over.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A day late

But worth sharing nonetheless.

This morning I got this email from K:
I forgot to tell you that I saw this fab sign on the way to Pasadena. You know how they have those signs that read: Road maintained by______(usually Christian Alliance or Wendy’s or something). Well I saw one that made me laugh out loud and think of you. It said, road maintained by: Atheists United. Cool eh? I didn't know they existed!
So I had to look them up. Not only did I used to bill myself as an evangelical Atheist, but when my life gets completely out-of-control busy my friend J always jokes "and in my spare time, I pick up trash by the side of the freeway."

Atheists United wished us a happy fourth of July:

Friday, July 01, 2005

Here we go...

You know, five years ago I wouldn't be quite so worried about O'Connor stepping down. "She's hardly a leftist," I would have thought, "I mean, even if they put forward someone more conservative, how bad could it be?"

Suffice it to say, I've changed my view of these things. I'm just glad Gonzales already has a job. I figure they'll put forward some woman with the most retrograde vision of reproductive rights possible (as well as privacy, free speech, freedom of assembly...). Then when there are objections they'll accuse the "liberals" of partisanship and sexism. Really the whole thought of it makes me want to both cry and vomit.

Many years ago, when I was 21, I stayed for a few days at this rooming house in Utrecht (NL). It was one of the most comfortable, cozy places I stayed for almost no money during that trip. The first night I was there, the woman who owned the house--a cute, bustling, motherly woman who loved to help me with my Dutch and made boiled eggs with little knit ski caps on them--warned me that the next day a couple was coming from Spain. Her house, she explained, sheltered folks who came to Holland ostensibly on vacation but really to obtain abortions. At the time, I thought about how grateful I was that the US was past that level of prohibition. That my elder sisters had fought for my rights and those dark days were behind us.

Today I just think about how grateful I am that my reproductive years are drawing to a close. This is going to be completely and totally fucked.