Monday, February 28, 2005

Truncated Oscar recap

Most in need of a sandwich: Emmy Rossum, Kristen Dunst, Penelope Cruz, Prince, Natalie Portman, etc.

Most in need of a sandwich and some eye cream: Renee Zellweger

Most in need of a shower: Antonio Banderas (runner-up: Adam Durwitz)

Most in need of rehab and/or a check for stroke symptoms: Dustin Hoffman

Most in need of a yearlong retreat from the public eye: Beyonce

Most in need of a reconfigured posse: Hillary Swank

Most in need of body dysmorphic disorder counseling: Melanie Griffith

Most in need of a stick-up-the-ass purging: Sean Penn

Most in need of an elephant-sized tranquilizer: Robin Williams

Most in need of counteractive kabuki makeup: Mike Myers

Most in need of a life: moi
Friday, February 25, 2005

Ah, early '80s cinematic racism

God knows why, but I'm watching the movie Annie right now. Probably because it reminds me of my best bud K8, who was an Annie fanatic for most of her pre-adolescence.

Far and away my favorite character in this movie is Daddy Warbucks's Indian manservant, Punjab. So physically intimidating that he makes little orphans faint in his presence, yet so sage that he can revive said orphans with a single quote from Buddha. And that turban! Who could possibly foresee that Punjab's turban would double as a rescue rope when the most special little orphan of all was dangling from a bridge?

Crankety crank crank

Yesterday morning I came out of the house to find that my car had been broken into. I started to blog about it yesterday afternoon but then didn't feel like rehashing the annoyance of it all.

Well, it's a good thing I waited, because today I came out to find that my car had been towed! So today you get two ultra-annoying car stories for the price of one blog entry.

I should first recap the life of this car. It's a black Mazda Miata soft top that I have owned for five years. In those five years, the car has been broken into six times -- three times in San Francisco and three in Los Angeles. The passenger side window has been broken twice, the back plastic window has been slashed twice and the roof has been slashed twice. Such symmetry. This car has also broken down way too many times to count -- seven times come to mind, but I know there have been many more.

So I expect nothing but the worse from this thing. When I walked out yesterday morning and saw my trunk popped and my roof slashed, I calmly got inside, checked out the damage (papers strewn about from the glove compartment, a speaker panel ripped off for no apparent reason), got back out, went inside to tell the hubby and then carried on with my day.

But this morning, coming out and finding my car missing.... well, I finally lost it and went all Nancy Kerrigan for a while. I mean, really, why? Why such awful car karma? What did I do to a car in a previous life? Why can't I own a car in peace like 99 percent of residents in this dumb city?

Best as I can tell, some jerky neighbor thought I was vaguely blocking their driveway and had me towed last night. Thanks, pal. You've just invited more bad car karma back onto yourself than you'll ever know what to do with.

In the meantime, I had to shell out $200 to retrieve a car I cannot stand. So if any of my local readers out there are hanging around the West Hollywood area and see a dirty black Miata with a slashed roof and, oh yeah, a big bird dropping on the front hood, please, do me a favor. Steal it.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005

On a more serious note....

Why must singular voices be silenced? Or silence themselves?

RIP, Hunter Thompson.

At the risk of becoming Dallas Raines*

...I just have to blog a bit more about the weather.

It's so cool! We just had another rain cell come through, a really condensed stack of greenish storm clouds that saturated the area in about five seconds. When I heard the torrent hit our roof, I ran to the nearest picture window to take it all in. I especially liked watching the SoCal idiots scurry around to find shelter, with that look of, Wait, this wet stuff is falling out of the sky AGAIN??!!

I guess it's time to say it out loud: I have a severe-weather fetish. Tornadoes, hurricanes, thunderstorms, hailstorms, snowstorms.... I love it all. It's a delicate matter, admitting to such a bent, considering these events, you know, kill people (never mind that their increase in occurrence likely reflects our steady destruction of the environment). But I take comfort in the odd reminder that the atmosphere is much more powerful than we are. And if, say, my entire office is sent home early because the big bad atmosphere is making the afternoon commute a living hell, so much the better.

*Dallas Raines is a Los Angeles-area weather personality. I say "personality" because he is most certainly not a meteorologist. This man wears double-breasted mobster suits and sports the deepest non-spray tan in Hollywood. He likes to scream his forecasts, and half the time he's doing his weather report, he's standing smack dab in the middle of the weather map. Because, you know, weather reporting is really all about the close-up. How can you not love this man? And, I mean, c'mon. His name is Dallas Raines.
Friday, February 18, 2005

Semi-coherent entry on a rainy Friday afternoon

In the basement of my brain are many long-discarded skills. Near-fluency in French. A working knowledge of Russian. An advanced understanding of calculus. A solid grasp of wok cooking.

For the last five years or so, one of my New Year’s resolutions has been to resurrect one of these skills. Take a few French lessons, whip up a few stirfries, take a few more walks in my Russian-Jewish neighborhood and see what conversations I can understand. But every year around this time I abandon the plan. Who am I kidding, really?

So my fallback is always to read read read. Plug some gaps of knowledge with nonfiction reading. Tackle some classics. Read the trendy novels of five, 10 or 20 years ago that I never got around to the first time around.

To the last point, right now I’m reading A Confederacy of Dunces. It seems strange to me that I never discovered this book in college. It’s very tragicomic, and I was nothing if not tragicomic during the collegiate years. At any rate, I’m enjoying it quite a bit.

By the way, if any of this comes across as bragging, sorry. I’m feeling extra-stoopid today and wanted to remind myself that I was once vaguely intellectual. You know, back in high school. Which probably explains that lack of a prom date thing.
Thursday, February 17, 2005

Questions that stress or annoy the hell out of me

Would you like to start off with a cocktail? I’ve never mastered the drink-before-dinner thing. Usually I just want a glass of wine, but what if we get wine with dinner? Then I look foolish and preemptive. I actually love champagne cocktails, but I’m never comfortable ordering one, especially since someone once refused to order champagne on my behalf because he deemed it too auspicious a drink order. And my list of favored mixed drinks is quite small. So my standard response to this question is, “Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh…. I guess not.”

What time is it? A reminder that I have three different watches at home awaiting repair.

What was YOUR senior prom like? You know how it goes. A bunch of friends sit around reminiscing about high school for whatever reason, hitting upon the big touchstones, and eventually the topic of prom comes up. When this happens, I have three options: I can lie about it, the way I did throughout much of college; I can play it cool and say that my friends and I decided to boycott the whole ridiculous affair; or I can tell the unbridled truth: I didn’t go to my stupid fucking prom because no one asked me. Okay?

So what else is new? A way to fill an awkward pause in conversation that leads to one inevitable answer: “Not much.”

You have cats? YES I have cats, and no, that doesn’t make me some lonely, pathetic, crazy cat lady. I hate cat culture as much as anyone. Dogs are my first love, absolutely, and I probably bemoan my doglessness about once a week.

But, let me be clear: I love my cats. They greet me at the door every night and escort me to the shower every morning, and both of them sleep on top of me every night, through the night. They’re my buddies.

What do you do? I think people talk about work way too much in social situations. It’s such a conversational crutch. No one could possibly be as interested in your work as you are, and conversely, no one really wants to hear a new acquaintance ramble on about her day-to-day minutia or the superior value of her chosen field.

This question also annoys me because I’m not especially enamored with what I do right now. But if I express that feeling, inevitably I receive an even more annoying query as a follow-up:

If you could be doing anything in the world right now work-wise, what would it be? Trust me, my friend, if I knew the answer to that, I’d be doing it.

I love the rain. It washes memories off the sidewalk.

“Play It Again Sam” was the first Woody Allen movie I ever saw, and my best friend and I would repeat that line to each other all the time. We were maybe 8 years old; gotta love prep-school precocity.

But I do, I do love the rain. Today’s rain is absolutely perfect. The temperature is warm, as are the breezes, and the raindrops themselves are large and soft and are hitting the ground with the most pleasing of “plops.”

An added bonus: an annoying coworker just walked in, completely soaked. Who knew her hair was naturally curly?


The noodles came in a separate container, which I discovered only after I'd finished my soup. Eat and learn.

Am I missing something?

If you ordered spicy noodle soup, you'd expect there to be noodles in your soup, right? RIGHT?
Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Take ALL the mental-health days you need, dude

There is a worker in our office who seems one reprimand away from going postal. His physicality is menacing; his listening skills are negligible; his annoyance with daily tasks is palpable. Several coworkers have said that they are out-and-out scared of him, and already computer passwords and the like are being witheld from him for fear of what he could do with such sensitive information.

I take a teeny bit of pride in the fact that I hired this person.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Oh Me, You Devil!

My best friend Stacey posits that I am the spawn of Beelzebub. Her reasoning is this: When I was born, I had six toes on my right foot. A clear mark of the devil, she says. I was also born with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck -- obvious proof, reasons Stace, that God made a last-ditch attempt to save the world fom my demonic leanings. But then, she moans, the "good doctors" (read: the devil's minions) cut the cord and snipped off that extra toe, and now I wander the Earth undetected; as Stace sees it, it's up to her and her alone to protect humanity from my diabolical doings.

I don't know about any of that. But what I do know is that I just took two notebooks from the office supply cabinet for my own use, and I don't feel the least bit bad about it.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I wish a 'Real World' marathon was on

I'm working from home today. Everything's different when you work from home. Strangely, I'm more motivated. But I also feel far less guilt about farting around on email and the Internet (or watching a little TV on my lunch "hour").

I also get to spy on my landlord, who as usual is lurking in the dark shadows of our complex. The man is insane. He is paying several men to dig up our front and side gardens for no discerible reason. He is paying several more men to throw pebbles all over our driveway for no discerible reason. And hey, he just went into our across-the-hall neighbor's apartment for no discernible reason! Okay, off to investigate further....
Monday, February 07, 2005

Meanwhile, on the other side of the dial....

The Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet had to be the greatest piece of counterprogramming in Super Bowl history. Throw a bunch of puppies in a pen designed to look like a football stadium. Add some toys and a water bowl. Turn on the camera. Wait.

Absolutely sublime.

This Super Bowl champs thing is getting old

Wait, no it isn't! I LOVE THE PATS! What a great game. Ugly in parts, sure, but people seem to forget what a colossal bore the Super Bowl had been for years and years before we came along. Thirty-point victory margins do not usually translate to enthralling matchups. But once more, a Pats Super Bowl came down to the final drive. And in between you had hard hits and momentum-changing turnovers and refereeing controversies and some great downfield passing and all the other good stuff you want from the last football game of the year. Just some good television all around. (Good thing, too, considering the commercials really sucked this year, never mind the vanilla stylings of halftime snooze Paul McCartney.)

And with that, my friends, I'll be refraining from sports-related blogging for a couple of months. I need a break. I need to read a book and go for a walk and cook a meal from scratch and generally live the fuller life of a non-fan. Til April then....
Friday, February 04, 2005

Red rover red rover, send the 2004 NFL championship right over

You'll notice I've written nothing about the NE Patriots and the Super Bowl these past two weeks. That's because I feel supremely confident in their chances. Moreover, I feel zero angst about the impending big game. Zero. How insane is that? New England sports fandom is built on angst. And yet over the last year and a half, an amazing shift has occurred. Skill, luck, karma, destiny -- they've all hustled over to our side of the playing field. Our teams are the teams to beat.

So this is what a sense of entitlement feels like!

Anyway, I've shifted my instrinsic sports worries in a slightly new direction. All this week, I've had anxiety dreams about me somehow missing the Super Bowl, variously through a power outage, a prior social engagement and a confusion about the exact game time. Lame-o. I guess some angst is too deeply embedded to exorcise completely.
Thursday, February 03, 2005

This is pretty much my worst nightmare

Do Google searches for ex-boyfriends and nursery-school friends count as "non-business uses"?

Employees to be billed for personal Net use?
By Munir Kotadia ZDNet Australia February 1, 2005, 9:13 AM PT

Employees who surf the Net at work could receive a bill each month for the cost of borrowed bandwidth and wasted time if Australia-based Exinda Networks' URL- and bandwidth-monitoring system takes off.

Exinda Networks says it's developed a system that allows a company to monitor exactly which Web sites are visited by each employee and how much bandwidth has been used--in terms of a cash loss to the employer.

Con Nikolouzakis, director of Exinda Networks, said the URL- and bandwidth-monitoring system was designed to ensure that employees are held responsible for the cost of misused bandwidth and time.

"If you use your office computer for Internet banking and booking theater tickets, you're fine. If you choose to use it to download illegal software, research personal interests or other non-business uses, then you could be issued with a 'please explain' and a bill for the costs of the bandwidth and time you wasted," Nikolouzakis said.

More mid-80s music nonsense

Last Friday was the 20th anniversary of the release of "We Are the World," and that morning most (read: all Clear Channel-owned) Los Angeles radio stations played the song at the same time. I surprised myself by getting a little choked up. It's just a really good song, and hearing it again, I had a much greater appreciation for the gathering of talent than the first time around, when I tended to confuse Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, and, ulp, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.

You mention "We Are the World" to anyone in our peer group, and they'll have a tale to tell. For example, I know of two different people who got beat up for wearing USA for Africa T-shirts (apparently, the sporting of such paraphernalia was a "faggy" offense back then). For me, it's the memory of my sixth-grade class singing "We Are the World" at our graduation. (You want absurdist theater..... just try to picture a group of overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly privileged, overwhelmingly insular private grade school grads singing "We Are the World" for a bunch of Harvard-professor-parent types.)

Anyway, so we sang a fairly faithful version of "We Are the World." Except I was sick the day a crucial order came down: "We will not be singing Cyndi Lauper's 'well well well WELL!' line. Repeat, NO Cyndi Lauper warbling." Cut to the big day, and guess who belted out Cyndi's lead-in like her final report card depended on it? Yup, my popularity just skyrocketed after that.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Back in the lame life, again

Have you ever had a song that got stuck in your head for so long that it became the occasional background music to your life? The song you hummed when you felt like humming, or sung when you felt like singing?

I have. For the last 15 years or so, my go-to song has been.... Steve Winwood's "Higher Love."

This is very embarrassing to admit. For starters, I'm not like some obsessive Steve Winwood fan; "Higher Love" is probably the only song of his I genuinely like. And I don't even remember being especially enraptured with it when it first hit the airwaves. But somehow the tune wiggled its way into my subconscious and nested there for good.

Anyway, last night I heard it on the radio for the first time in ages and now it's playing on an endless loop in my brain.