tiaras optional

"My only argument is with those who do not view the world as cynically as I do." Michael Korda

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The All-Grumpy Edition

1. I woke up (much too early) with a sense of dread hanging over me. Not a good way to start the week.

2. I am in full on grump mode at the moment. I ate way too much meat yesterday and am apparently still feeling the effects of a meat coma. The cooking out was good, it’s just that I seem to have no self-control.

3. People are saying that maybe Britney isn’t the worst mother ever and that the press is too hard on her even if she does forget to put her baby in a car seat, or puts the car seat in the car wrong, or almost drops the baby because her pants are too long and she just had to carry that glass of water too, but I still think she’s not exactly the best mother, because yesterday I saw my friend June hold her baby in one arm and consume an entire plate of food with the other, so it can be done people. (I do feel sorry for Sean Preston though, because, let’s face it, he hasn’t exactly won the genetic lottery with those two Mensa candidates for parents.)

4. I tried to break in three different pairs of shoes this weekend, so I now have blisters pretty much all over my feet.

5. I have recently published two articles of clothing (a top and a dress) that, although they fit, are hard to get in and out of. After wearing both pieces, I discovered that they both have those side zippers that make getting in and out much easier. I’m not sure how I missed the zippers previously, but it made me feel kinda dumb.

6. I can’t decide if I am sick, or if it’s allergies, or if I’m just really tired, but I feel like a Mack truck ran over me and left me for dead on the side of the road.

7. The Snow Patrol show on Wednesday has been postponed, new date TBD. I’m bitter.

8. I found out yesterday that this guy I sort of dated like six years ago is now completely bald (he had a small bald spot at the time, but it wasn’t very noticeable because he had a lot of hair). His complete baldness made me smile because he was kind of a jerk. (Not that I have been maintaining extreme bitterness for six years or anything.)

9. It’s too fucking hot. It’s gone from pleasant spring to beastly summer and I’m just not ready. Also, when it’s hot, my fat little fingers swell up, so my wedding ring is way too tight at the moment.

10. I woke up early everyday this weekend, despite going to bed late most nights. Saturday morning, I got on the internets and started buying shit, and I finally had to force Lord Kissington to wake up and stop me from spending all our money.

11. I realized that since getting married I haven’t done anything responsible in terms of money, like making my new husband the beneficiary of my life insurance, bank accounts, and retirement accounts. Regarding the topic of what would happen if I were to die, we also came to an agreement that after my demise, he could sleep with Rachel Weisz, but he is totally not allowed to sleep with Angelina Jolie. He thinks I’m being arbitrary, but I pointed out that she likes to bring knives into the bedroom, and did he really think that was a good idea? He has no issue with any of the people I might want to go for if he died, other than pointing out that Anderson Cooper would probably not be interested in me.

12. I read Bergdorf Blondes this weekend, and although it was mildly amusing, I found it be really badly written, which made think that if the hated Plum Sykes can write a book this shitty, surely I could crank out something better. I’m not under any illusions as to my talent, but I know I could write something better than that. Of course, that would mean I would have to get up off my ass and do something.

Friday, May 26, 2006

What Is It with Me and the Dead White Guys?

A couple of weeks back, a friend sent me the New York Times list of the best American fiction of the past 25 years. I glanced at it and noted, somewhat to my dismay, that I had read very few of the books. This week, Jordan Baker wrote a very interesting post about the list, and it got me thinking about the list in a bit more depth. Of the 22 books on the list (I’m following their somewhat flawed logic in counting four John Updike books and three Cormac McCarthy books as one book each), I’ve read only two*. I’ve heard of the majority of these books and authors, and I like to think of myself as fairly well read, so what gives? If you look at the Modern Library list of the 100 best novels of the 20th century, I come out much better (although still not as well as Lord Kissington, but that’s a marital bone of contention I won’t drag you into). And when I found a list of Booker Prize winners and runners-up**, I realized that I had read a decent amount of them***. I also checked the Pulitzer Prize winners (have read a few) and the National Book Award winners (have barely heard of many of these). Looking at all these lists made me realize something: My favorite books tend to be by dead white guys, particularly dead white British guys. I also read stuff by women authors, but they’re pretty much all dead too.

My favorite writers include F. Scott Fitzgerald (dead, American, male), Thomas Hardy (dead, British, male), Evelyn Waugh (dead, British, male, despite the name), Nabokov (dead, Russian, but wrote his best works in English, male), James Joyce (dead, Irish, male), Marguerite Duras (dead, French, female), Nancy Mitford (dead, British, female), Jane Austen (dead, British, female), John O’Hara (dead, American, male), Alice Thomas Ellis (living, British, female), Don Delillo (living, American, male), Ian McEwen (living, British, male), and John Banville (living, Irish, male).

I also have some favorite books, but I don’t feel that I can put their authors in the above list because I’ve only read one book by them and it doesn’t seem quite right to rank them among my favorite authors yet.

Independent People, Halldor Laxness (dead, Icelandic, male)
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (dead, British, female)
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (dead, British, female)
The End of the Affair, Graham Greene (dead, British, male)
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (dead, British, male)
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway (dead, American, male)****
I, Claudius, Robert Graves (dead, British, male)
The Magnificent Ambersons, Booth Tarkington (dead, American, male)
Women in Love, D. H. Lawrence (dead, British, male)

You can see a trend here. Not so diverse, unless you consider an Icelandic author to be an example of diversity*****. Why do I not read more contemporary living authors? Do I somehow feel that death legitimizes a writer? Or is it that we have 50 or 100 or more years of criticism to tell me that these books are the ones to read? The lack of contemporary Americans on my list might have something to do with this vague feeling that I’ve always had that American writers are trying a little too hard. British writers have been on top of the English language writing world for so long that they don’t have anything to prove. And maybe their colonial brethren are a little sensitive about that? I dunno, but I’m totally buying a copy of Beloved this weekend. Since Toni Morrison is living, female, American, and not white, I’ll be branching out all over the place. And since, according to the New York Times, it’s the top book of the last 25 years, I’m guessing it won’t suck.

*I’ve read another book by Denis Johnson, so maybe that gives me an eighth of a point or something?
**I really wanted to somehow use “shortlisted” as a noun here since it’s a term I lurve, but shortlisters didn’t quite work.
***Which is sort of interesting since I am always complaining about how a lot of Booker Prize winners aren’t “all that.” I think sometimes the jury favors beautifully written but ultimately cold books (see Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth).
****To be honest here, I have read other books by Hemingway, I just didn’t like them very much.
*****I’m guessing that the most famous writer (and one of the few translated into English) from a country populated by tall stunning blue-eyed types isn’t going to earn me a lot of diversity points.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


My trip to Tampa was pretty underwhelming. The meeting I was there for was extremely useful and on point, but I spent most of my time in the hotel. It was in downtown Tampa, where there is almost nothing going on. I arrived on Saturday and went for a walk. There were basically no people or cars on the streets and everything appeared to be office buildings and lunch places that close in the evening on weekends. It was a lot of big new shiny high rises and a few old warehouse buildings that had been converted into offices.

The "interesting" bits of the trip:

1. The airport has these little mini-train things to transport you to various places. They reminded me of the Monorail and the train I rode around DisneyWorld at age 7 (at least I think there was a train. My memories of that trip are a little vague.)

2. I was out to dinner with a large group on Sunday evening. I asked the waitress where the ladies room was and she directed me toward a small hallway with a sign saying “Women” accompanied by an arrow. I ventured into a dimly lit hallway and opened the first door I saw. I was momentarily stunned to see an armless and legless bald mannequin amidst a bunch of random junk. I had apparently stumbled into some sort of supply closet, although I’m really not sure why a fairly upscale restaurant would have a dismembered mannequin. I quickly shut the door, noticing that there was a sign saying “No admittance.” I turned to my right and found the bathroom. Like I said, it was kind of dark.

3. There were basically no restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, so, at the concierge’s suggestion, a couple of us took a cab to a place called Channelside, which is a generic suburban looking “entertainment center” sort of place, with a movie theater and lots of restaurants, ranging from chains to somewhat upscale. When we told the cab driver that we were going to Channelside, she said, “Oh, you’re going to Hooters, right?” I found this really funny, because it seemed unlikely that three women were going to Hooters. Maybe it’s a big tourist destination, but don’t they have them in every city?

4. I made one effort to get out and see the city. I had a couple of free hours on Monday, so I walked over to the Tampa Art Museum, the only thing to do in the vicinity. Sadly, it’s closed on Mondays. So much for culture. I wandered through a depressing and deserted park next to the museum. I saw some tiny lizards and lots of palm trees. I took a few photos of the surrounding area. And that was pretty much that.

5. Since I spent much of my time at the hotel, I managed to get a fair amount of reading done (three books! That’s more than the I’ve read in the last two months.). I worked out once, which isn’t too bad, except that I ate huge amounts of food the rest of the time. There just wasn’t much else to do.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Just How Many Suitcases Does One Woman Need?

Tonight, I will be packing for my trip to Tampa. I have a tendency to overpack, and I am trying to avoid that this time, but sometimes it’s inevitable. Dressing for conferences is a bit of a minefield. You want to look professional, but also be comfortable. And seeing that this conference begins on a weekend, I actually want to wear a bathrobe. And I hate to only have just enough outfits and then wake up one morning and decide you hate the outfit you planned on for that day, and you have nothing else to wear. It’s hot in Tampa (high 80s to around 90), but in my experience, hotel conference rooms always have the AC set at sub-Arctic temperatures, so I’ll need some layers. I’ve been making a list of all the things I need to bring. Here are a few highlights:

1. Underpants. This may sound like a standard item for packing, but I once returned to college in the fall with only three pairs of underpants. I don’t know what happened. My mother had to Fedex the remaining 25 pairs.

2. Face mask and ear plugs. As I frequently write, I am an insomniac. These two items can help facilitate sleep at times. If it’s a really bad bout of insomnia, however, they are useless.

3. Tea bags. Very old-ladyish, I know, but I don’t drink caffeine (in yet another effort to combat the aforementioned insomnia), and decaf tea is rarely an option at such events, so I can whip out my tea bags at any time. I’ll also bring some caffeinated ones, just in case I get a migraine and need a caffeine infusion. I am making this trip sound really fun, no?

4. Workout clothes. Hopefully, the hotel has a decent gym. I may not actually get there, but at least I’ll have made some small effort.

5. Books. I asked for recommendations, and I got quite a few (thanks, gentle readers). I have five books piled up (and a sixth if I can find it. I know that second Shopaholic book is lurking somewhere in my apartment). This may sound like a lot of books, but I read fast (and let’s face it, none of my selections are exactly Faulkner), and I’m going to be all alone at this conference, which means a lot of hanging out in my room and eating room service (which is ok, because room service is one of my favorite inventions of all time). I also like to have some variety of books, just in case I hate one, so I have something to move on to. The books that made the cut:

Slave to Fashion by Rebecca Campbell (per Jordan Baker's suggestion)

Something Blue by Emily Giffin (I read her first book, Something Borrowed, and it was decent. This sequel tells the story from another character’s point of view.)

Snowed In by Christina Bartolomeo. I know the author, she’s a sweetheart, and I liked her first book [which was totally made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie with Mary Louise Parker, Peter Gallagher, and Victor Garber (love love love Spy Daddy)].

How to Be Good by Nick Hornby (per Schadenfreude's suggestion). To my surprise and delight, I found that we owned this book. The whole getting married and merging our possessions has been ok, but for the most part, I’m not that excited about owning all the Dune book. Nick Hornby made me much happier.

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde. I had forgotten that I had this one and was saving it for the right occasion. This is a great series that takes place in an alternate reality England: The Crimean War is still going on, the Russian Revolution never happened, and Wales has seceded and become a Marxist republic. The country is obsessed with literature, and the heroine, literary detective Tuesday Next, works to save British literature from ne’er do wells. I read the first book, The Eyre Affair, a few months back and loved it.

Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade. Because I like to fool myself into thinking that I’m going to read something significant on this trip. The pages will no doubt remain unturned, but I’ll feel better about myself just for having it in the suitcase.

(I may also bring Hugh Laurie’s novel The Gun Seller, but there is a part of me that doesn’t want to read it, just in case it’s really awful, and it affects my undying love for him. He’s so fab though, that I can’t imagine him writing a really bad book.)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

End Notes

*My recent efforts to cut back on sugar consumption have left me with a red hot jones for sugar of any kind. I am particularly craving cake right now. The delicious, sugary, made with lard kind you get at grocery store bakeries. My mother has the top layer of our wedding cake in her freezer. She would very much like me to retrieve it, but my freezer is full of bags of ice and bottles of vodka (because I like to be ready for anything, if anything means an impromptu party where you will need a lot of ice and vodka). I am now considering retrieving it to satisfy my sugar cravings, but will I regret this on my first anniversary? Or will I not actually need a slice of cake to remember the wedding?

*The other night I assured someone (not an amputee) of my belief that being an amputee would not necessarily condemn you to only having relationships with freaky fetishists who dig amputees and I used Paul McCartney’s wife Heather as an example. Sadly, Paul and Heather have just announced that they are divorcing. The lesson here: I don’t know what I’m talking about.

*Can anyone recommend any lightweight but not too dumb books for me to bring on my business trip to Tampa this weekend? I am looking for fluffy, but not totally stupid, absorbing enough to keep my mind off the possibility of the plane crashing, but not so involving that I have to think too much. I enjoy mysteries and thrillers when traveling, but nothing too scary or serial killer oriented, because I don’t want to have to keep checking under the bed to make sure that the Tampa Slicer isn’t hiding under there. I was thinking of reading Bergdorf Blondes, but I am loathe to contribute even a few pennies to the burgeoning coffers of Plum Sykes.

*Bloggers are just dropping like flies lately. If you all stop writing, what am I supposed to do with my day? And don’t just tell me to find new blogs. I’m a creature of habit, and I was comfortable with you all. New blogs are unfamiliar. But if you do have any recommendations, I would love to have them.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Baby, Can I Drive Your Car?

Last night, Lord Kissington, my father, my stepmother, and I had dinner at a private club, where we were the guests of a good friend of my father’s. The dinner was delightful, and the club was really lovely. The ridiculous amount of flatware on the table gave me a chance to show off my fine table manners (sadly eating dinner off the coffee table while watching TV doesn’t really give me much room to show off on a regular basis). But the really memorable part of the evening came at the very end, when our hostess’ friend gave us a ride home. In his 1959 Rolls Royce. I have to say up front that I am not remotely interested in cars. I am a city person. I walk everywhere. I see cars as something to get you from A to B, and I figure you are better off driving a heap of junk because then it’s less likely that it will get stolen or broken into (both are inevitable in DC). But riding in this car was rather exciting. It seemed so decadent, keeping a huge vintage car in the city. I can’t even imagine how bad the gas mileage would be. It was huge and leathery, and the back seats had picnic trays that you could pull down to have a snack. It looked something like this, only in silver. It was pretty awesome.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Your Shoes Make Me Die a Thousand Little Deaths

The other day I was in a cab, and I saw someone who looked familiar walking down the street. I knew I recognized her from somewhere, but it took me a minute to figure out who she was. My first job out of college was at a non-profit organization that I like to refer to as the seventh circle of hell. In my last year there, a new person joined the office. She seemed a little odd, but she wasn’t really out of place, since there were a lot of odd people working there. Some of my co-workers found her just way too strange and didn’t like her very much, and to be honest she did have some weird habits, although they were totally harmless. Among the behaviors that drove people crazy:

1. When she had to come to your cube to ask you a question, she wouldn’t knock on the edge of the partition, or cough to get your attention, or you know, say your name or anything. She would just stand there until you noticed her. The guy in the cubicle across from me told me that she once waited at my cube entrance for approximately 8 minutes before I noticed her. (Yes, I’m oblivious.)

2. She would not speak to you for weeks, not even to say “hi” if you passed her in the hall, but then suddenly, she would accost you and bend your ear for 45 minutes on some very obscure topic, like the temperature at which steel is made.

3. She ate lunch by herself everyday (not so strange at all; I can’t say I enjoyed eating with most of my co-workers either), but she accomplished this by standing outside, no matter what the weather, in a small concrete stairwell, that led to some sort of electrical circuit door in the bowels of the building.

As I said, none of these things bothered me particularly. I figured as long as she didn’t go postal, she could behave as weirdly as she wanted in the office. But she did do one thing that drove me absolutely nuts. She wore white shoes. Year-round*. And she wore her white shoes (pumps, no less) over thick black tights. I know it may seem like a small thing, but it drove me absolutely crazy. Every time I saw the shoes/tights combo, I actually shuddered**. Just picture it in your head, and see if you don’t shudder just a little too.

So when I saw her the other day, here is what ran through my head:

“That woman looks familiar… Oh, it’s that weird chick I used to work with… What was her name again? ... Why did I think she was so weird?… She looks fairly normal…”

And then the cab passed her, and I looked back and got a full view of her, and I saw something interesting: She was still wearing the white pumps with the black tights. All I could do was sigh.

*I know my “white pants, skirts, dresses, and shoes should only be worn between Memorial Day and Labor Day” rule is a hopeless battle, but I like to maintain some standards.
**I’m extremely sensitive that way. Even the smallest glimpse of a fashion infraction (like, say, a picture of Sienna Miller sporting leggings) can send me over the edge.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I have been not very interested in celebrity gossip lately, because for the most part, it’s just rehashed and boring. Angelina is still pregnant and trying to save the world. Nick and Jessica both still suck, just separately these days. Tom Cruise is still batshit crazy. But two recent items in the celebrity world gave me pause.

1. I read something highly disturbing in the latest US Weekly. Now I find everything involving Tom Cruise pretty disturbing, but this item reached new levels of ickiness. Apparently, Tom told reporters that Katie Holmes had changed her name (but has she really? He’s the only one who actually calls her Kate.) because “Katie is a young girl’s name. Her name is Kate now; she’s a childbearing woman.” I know this statement isn’t nearly on the crazy level of “psychiatry is all wrong” and “women can combat postpartum depression by taking vitamins,” but it still skeeved me out. I hope that her contract guarantees her a shitload of money for this whole deal, but I still don’t see how any amount of money would be worth putting up with that creepy, crazy, controlling midget and his weird cult. Run, Katie, run. (I am still somewhat disbelieving of the whole Katie giving birth thing, mainly because she was shoe shopping when she was approximately 10 months pregnant. The end of a pregnancy is not exactly the time to be shopping for new shoes, since your feet tend to be swollen. Just sayin’.)

2. Tori Spelling got married for the second time last weekend. Now, I don’t hate Tori at all. I actually kind of admire her for working everything she’s got (which, admittedly, isn’t much) and for being able to make fun of herself in her new show. But I do wonder about someone who gets married twice in 19 months. From my own experience, it’s rather hard to find even one person one might want to marry, but two in less than two years? That’s pretty incredible. The second wedding was a small private affair on a beach in Fiji. What, did daddy Aaron not want to spring for another million dollar wedding (the reported cost of the first nuptials)? Ah, Tori, you have no qualms about breaking up two marriages and allowing your new husband to cover his body with hideous tattoos of you, but I just can’t hate you since I’ll always remember you fondly from the prom episode of 90210 where you wore that bizarre Scarlett O’Hara style dress that you couldn’t sit down in and I really felt for you even though I knew it was just a TV show. But you triumphed and held onto to your virginity and got to marry Brian Austen Green in the end (not much of a prize though). Oh, Donna Martin, we’ll always love you.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

All Stood Up

Last night, I had a very strange dream in which I was supposed to be going on a date, only I was stood up. In the dream, I was not married, and I had made a date with someone I knew already (a friend who had suddenly become interested in me), and we were supposed to meet at a bar, but he never showed. It was a huge bar/restaurant with many sections and I kept wandering through them, wondering if maybe we were just in two different places within the bar, but he wasn’t there. It was totally humiliating. In real life, I’ve been stood up twice (well, actually two and half times), and the experiences weren’t nearly so humiliating. But still, there is something about being stood up that can make you feel utterly worthless and unattractive. (“I kiss so badly he didn’t even bother to show up” or “After making the date, he decided I wasn’t hot enough.” There’s nothing like a crushing blow to the old self-confidence.)

1. In college, I spent a semester going to school in Ireland. I had a date to hang out with this guy I had made out with the previous weekend. We were supposed to meet at the school’s main gate at noon. I waited for a while, because everyone in Ireland is late for everything, but he never showed. I wasn’t all that devastated, because I figured that we might have gotten our signals crossed. This was before cell phones, and hardly any of the students had land lines. (I lived in a student building, which shared one pay phone for four flats. The phone was broken for approximately 80% of my time there, and we pretty much relied on a pay phone up the street. Thus, communication was a bit difficult.) When I arrived home later that day, one of my flatmates was very excited and told me that a “hot Irish guy” had stopped by to see me and he felt really bad about not meeting me earlier and he would be back later. He showed up again that evening and apologized profusely, saying that he was finishing up a paper (it was the end of the semester) and he had lost track of time. I figured that was a decent enough excuse, he had no way of contacting me to let me know, and he had come all the way to my flat twice to see me to apologize, so I let it go and we went out the next night. It was actually a very nice date, but sadly, I was leaving to go home the next day so that relationship wasn’t exactly going anywhere.

2. A few years ago, I had just gone through a long torturous breakup (a fitting end to a long, torturous relationship), and I was dating again. I met this guy (we’ll call him “Joe”) through a friend and we had hung out in a group a couple of times and exchanged a few emails. Joe seemed interested and asked for my number, which I willingly gave, since I enjoyed his company. I invited him to a cocktail party I was throwing, and he said he would be there, but he ended up not making it. He called the next day to apologize, saying that he had unexpected out of town guests that night. It was no big deal, especially since he made the effort to apologize. The following weekend, I hung out with him and a friend and I had a really good time. We made plans to have dinner that Thursday night. I said I would call him when I was heading out of work and we would determine the time and place. I probably should have had him call me, but I didn’t think much of it since he had been good about calling and emailing, and I wasn’t doing all the work. So I called around 5:30, got his voicemail, and said I was leaving work and was ready to meet up whenever, so call me. And he didn’t call back. I spent the next hour in the company of a friend (who I would later divorce because she totally sucked) and her unbelievably lame friends sucking down margaritas. Friend was being really insufferable. She had a date later that night and she kept going on and on about how psyched she was for her date and how awful it was that I was being stood up (this was an early warning of the suckitude that would later lead to my initiating the friend divorce). I left that group and met up with some other friends, who were sympathetic, but in a “fuck him” kind of way, which was much more bearable. He finally called around 8:30. I didn’t answer, and he left a voicemail saying he had gotten stuck in a meeting at work. At the beginning of the message, he was very blasé, but by the end, he kind of lost it and you could tell he was realizing he had fucked up (or at least that was the consensus among my friends—male and female, gay and straight—all of who listened to the message). I understood that it was a work thing, but I knew a lot about his office and it was a very casual, hipster kind of environment, where he could easily have excused himself from the meeting for five minutes to make a phone call, but he didn’t. He called me that weekend, but he was completely unapologetic, so I basically wrote him off. (I ran into him a few months later, and we ended up having lunch, just as friends. He was so annoying over lunch that I realized being stood up was a blessing in disguise.)

(2.5. This one wasn’t exactly a stand up. I had been dating this guy and it had ended rather badly, but he reappeared a few months later and we started talking again. I was at sort of a weird point in my life, and I actually considered getting back together with him, mainly because nothing else was working out (yes, very bad idea). We hung out a few times, and one Friday night, he was supposed to meet me and some friends at a bar. And he never showed. He left me a voicemail that said something along the lines of “I made it halfway there, and then I decided I just couldn’t deal, so I turned around and went home.” And I remembered all the reasons it hadn’t worked out, and in the end I was really glad he bailed, since it kept me from making a huge mistake by getting back together with him.)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Chirp Chirp Chirp

*When I woke up this morning and realized that it was cold out, I was really delighted that I spent much of Saturday reorganizing my closet, putting all the sweaters and boots and cold weather stuff at the back and moving the summer clothes to the front (poorly designed closet—long and narrow, so you can only see the clothes right in the middle and everything else is lost to view—means that I have to take an all or nothing approach to seasonal clothes).

*On Saturday, we watched the Kentucky Derby at the Professor and Mary Ann’s. We sat outside for a while and the pollen was so bad you could actually see it floating through the air. I had a 20-minute-long coughing fit. It was really lovely. Even their adorable dog, Walter, was sneezing. I like dogs, but I don’t spend much time around them, so I’m not completely at ease around them. Lord Kissington is not a dog fan, so he tries to ignore them (which means they usually want to slobber all over him). The Professor said, “You two look at the dog the way I look at babies.” But I actually look that way at babies too. I prefer to take my chances with dogs; at least I know that the chances of projectile vomiting in my direction are slim. After spending some quality time with Walter, I asked Lord K if we can get a dog. He said we could if I do everything, but I don’t think I want to commit to that. I suggested we have a baby and eventually train the baby to take care of the dog. Of course, this will take a few years. I do like the idea of children as future indentured servants, but there are so many years of helplessness we would have to get through first that I’m not really sure it’s worth it. How old do they have to be before you can train them to bring you breakfast in bed?

*I spent much of Sunday in bed with a migraine, which spoiled my big plans to see the Dada exhibit at the National Gallery. I was lying there grimacing in pain, feeling bad for keeping Lord K from the exhibit, until I remembered that the whole thing was my idea and he was probably just as happy to be sitting on his ass playing videogames. I watched the entire Pride and Prejudice miniseries, which cheered me immensely. I was really wishing I also had the DVD of the new version of P&P, so I could do a comparison study, but I had to be content with 5 hours of Colin Firth, which is never a bad thing.

*The recent (unfounded) noise complaints have led to completely paranoid state on my part, expecting to be blamed for every stray noise in the building. I spent much of the evening wandering around the apartment trying to figure out where various noises are coming from. As I was getting ready for bed, I heard an unusual noise. It sounded like a bird chirping and it was localized to the dining room. In my post-migraine fogged state, I was convinced that a bird had gotten in the apartment and was now trapped and chirping up a storm, although I could not figure out how this had possibly happened since we have screens on all the windows and to get in the door, a bird would have had to make it to the sixth floor somehow. I dragged Lord K out of bed and he discovered that not only was the sound coming from the dining room, it was localized to a cabinet, making it really unlikely that a bird had gotten in there. Also, the sound was a continuous steady chirping, obviously mechanical. (Like I said, I was pretty out of it.) It turns out that we had these stuffed animal chicks that someone gave us last Easter and that I promptly tossed in the cabinet and forgot about. They make chirping noises when you hold them. I guess the batteries were dying and much like a smoke alarm in that situation, they just started chirping. It took 15 minutes of jamming it with a screwdriver to make it stop. (We were tempted to just bash it open with a hammer, but God forbid, we disturb any of our neighbors.)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mixing the High and the Low (Oh, Who Am I Kidding, It's All Low)

I like to think of myself as someone who mixes high and low culture in her life. I read Don DeLillo AND US Weekly. I like Old Masters and bad religious art. I can drink good wine or Bud in a can. But these days, it all seems to be low. I can barely finish a book lately, and in the past few days, I watched (to my no longer secret shame) both the Daytime Emmys and the Dynasty Reunion Special, Catfights and Caviar (really, how can you not watch something called Catfights and Caviar?).

Lord Merlin and I actually had a Daytime Emmys party. (Lord Kissington pointed out that it’s not really a party since there are only two of us, to which I replied, “Ummh, hello, Tiara, party of two, your awards show is ready.”)

I made up a drinking game where you have to drink every time someone thanks God, but it happened so much that I started to run out of wine.

A few observations:

Soap stars are better dressed than they used to be. In previous years, you would see a lot of God-awful frocks that looked like something found on the sale rack at Dress Barn, but this year, people were actually wearing some designers I had heard of (yes, I watched all two hours of the red carpet pre-show. I could actually feel my brain turning to mush.). That said, there were still a lot of hideously ugly dresses. (Note to Robin from General Hospital: You’ve grown up to be so cute. What were you thinking wearing that 1993 prom dress reject? Yes, I know your co-star made it, but really, you were appearing on stage with Dr. Hottie. Couldn’t you come up with anything better? It looked even worse when you were standing next to your onscreen mother who was wearing that lovely Marc Jacobs frock.)

I had never really gotten a good look at Rachael Ray before. She has a GINORMOUS head. From now on, when anyone tells me I have a large head (as they often do), I am going to point to a picture of Rachael and say “not so much.”

Rick Springfield performing was not the worst thing ever. I’m sorry my mother missed it, because it probably would have made her day. “Jessie’s Girl” is a really awesome song. I’m still bitter that I can’t have it as a ringtone on my phone (fuck you, Verizon).

The only soap I watch consistently won four of the six acting awards. I had to explain to Lord Merlin why each actor won.

“That’s Dinah. She was carrying her mortal enemy Cassie’s baby, and she was in love with Cassie’s husband Edmund, only then she lost the baby but continued pretending to be pregnant, strapping on a fake belly every day, and no one suspected that anything was wrong, despite the fact that she was drinking beer in public all the time. Then Edmund stole Michelle’s baby and told Cassie it was the baby Dinah gave birth to and then he locked Dinah up in a house/dungeon that was an exact replica of Cassie’s house (saves money on sets, makes no sense whatsoever).”

“That’s Jonathan. He came to town to get revenge on the mother who gave him up and left him to live with an abusive adoptive father. He seduced his cousin, who was horrified at first, but is now totally in love with him, because he’s totally the bad boy that dumb 20-year-old girls think they can save. He tears shit up a lot and he likes to burn things down.” We marvel at how much the actor looks like someone we’ve known for years.

“That’s Reva. She found out she was in menopause and went batshit crazy, dumping her total sweetheart husband and taking up with this hot British dude who turned out to be the creepy abusive adoptive father of her long-lost son. Menopause totally bit her in the ass.”

“That’s Billy. He fell off the wagon when his evil daughter-in-law spiked his drink with vodka. I can’t even remember why.”

(Seriously, that is some quality TV.)

As for the Dynasty special, it was really pretty awful, but I couldn’t seem to turn it off. Joan Collins is a force of nature. She’s has so much plastic surgery that her face is getting smaller and smaller and her eyes are getting bigger and bigger—the effect of stretching everything as far as it will go I guess. They concentrated on the catfights, which is really seminal Dynasty. The whole thing made me a little sad, because I really wanted to walk down the aisle to the Dynasty theme, but it didn’t work out*.

*And by “didn’t work out,” I mean my mother said “what? But I don’t understand. Dynasty? Really? But it’s so tawdry.” She said this over and over again, until I just gave in because I couldn’t take it anymore. I ended up walking down to the Bach’s Air on the G String, which I really love and is far more tasteful, but doesn’t have quite the same oomph as the Dynasty theme.

Bikes and Noises

Apparently, tall bikes are all the DIY rage. Who knew? They still look kind of unstable to me, but I’m really not one to judge, considering that I can barely stay upright on a regular bike (I skill I never really mastered as a child. I had training wheels forevs.)

Lord Kissington and I met with our building’s manager and assistant manager yesterday about the noise complaints we have been getting (you know, for the noises WE’RE NOT MAKING). The meeting went pretty well, and they seem to believe that we are not the ones making the constant hammering noises, and they are going to investigate further. They told us that one recent complaint came at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning. We both burst out laughing, because we’re not exactly doing much of anything most Saturday mornings. And even when I’m suffering from insomnia at that hour, I’m usually quietly reading, not constructing a skateboarding ramp or a fallout shelter.

Monday, May 01, 2006

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

After eating my weight in sweets at a bridal tea on Saturday afternoon, I tried to avoid a sugar coma by dragging Lord Kissington out for a long walk. It was a gorgeous day and we wandered all over the place, heading into the zoo through the back entrance, battling 5000 children to get to the front entrance, and then basically making a big circle and ending up back in our neighborhood. As we were nearing home, I saw a couple of things that gave me pause.

The fake flower garden

I wasn’t seeing this for the first time, but every time I see it, I stop and stare. Next to a small apartment building, there’s a tiny yard/patch of grass (probably just a bit too small to have been snatched up to build luxury condos, which is why it’s still there). Someone has created a flower garden there. They’ve landscaped little circular patches and put up those mini fences that are like 8 inches high. But the kicker is that all the flowers are plastic. Big, fat, obviously plastic flowers. So someone has gone to all the trouble to create a garden with fake flowers. I don’t know if I love it or hate it. As Lord Kissington pointed out, “At least the flowers are always in bloom.”

The double bicycle

No, not a bicycle built for two, but a bicycle of the likes of which I’ve never seen before. It was basically a normal bike, with a whole other bike frame built on top of it, so the rider was about 8 feet off the ground. It was really weird. How can it be stable? Is this some new revolution in bikes that I’ve missed out on?