Wednesday, November 30, 2005

just because it was on my camera

I love the way you turn corners in this city and bang, murals. Far less self-conscious than those silly hearts they had all over for a while. Even if they were for a good cause, I liked the original Chicago iteration better.

Maybe because cows are inherently funnier than hearts.

But iguanas, now, iguanas are funnier than hearts and cows.

Especially when you've only gotten three hours of sleep because you have no damn sense at all and were up late writing emails that Earthlink decided to eat and then consoled yourself by reading John Barnes' Gaudeamas (much better than some of the reviewers say it is) until the book slid from your lifeless hands. But I'm not naming any names here.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

how does this happen?

So I gave up on working last night and decided to go to this event. I'd never been; in fourteen years in San Francisco I think I've only been to one specifically bi-oriented event. Years ago. I know how strange that sounds, considering that I moved out here so I could live someplace where being bi was No Big Deal, but that one event put me off the scene pretty thoroughly. I was trailing in the wake of the woman I was seeing at the time and feeling really uncomfortable, and everyone looked like a RenFest escapee, and I just couldn't handle it.

But last night I thought, what the hell. Maybe that cute girl from the Red Elvises show will be there, and I can stop wandering around the Berkeley campus trying to figure out where she works (kidding, really, I'm not stalking her. Yet.) And even if she wasn't there, maybe there'd be another girl, or maybe I'd meet the bi boy of my dreams... because I've always thought that would be kind of fun, and easier for me than dating straight men, who don't know all the things bi guys do. Whatever the case, I'd be surrounded by my own kind (even if they tend to look like RenFest escapees), and that would be a welcome change from clubs full of straight people (where dirty dancing with a girl is taken to be something you're doing to turn men on, not for its own good reasons) or gay men (no action) or lesbians (don't trust bi-girls).

No disrespect to straight people, gay men, or lesbians! Some of my best friends are straight. Or gay. But there aren't many places bi-folk can really let down their hair, know they can dance with anyone, talk to anyone, have similar history. And you're not aware of the lack until you're surrounded, as I found tonight. Everyone I looked at I could flirt with and not worry that I was crossing someone's comfort threshold. Boys dancing with boys dancing with girls dancing with girls. Ran into friends of Snufkina's, recognized a beautiful and famous domina BunnySlope had pointed out to me, saw a few people I knew I'd seen somewhere before, started to feel like I was in the bi groove, dancing a little catch-the-bats-release-the-bats, a little "aren't all bi girls belly dancers?" snakiness, and so on.

So how is it that I ended up drawing the attention of the one straight man in the place? Why does this happen to me? Why? I mean, some of the other men might have been. I suspected they were there with their girlfriends fishing for bi-girl adventure. But of the unattached men, the one who started talking to me about Star Wars at the bar while the bartender drew me a tonic water instead of the club soda I'd asked for was definitely straight. He was there because he cross-dresses. That's it. Otherwise, not attracted to men.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

all small creatures should have bows in their tails

Echidne tells us some interesting things about one of my all-time favorite authors, Tove Jansson.
very special thanksgiving guest blogger!

My mother has a lot of great stories. This one is one of my favorites, and the one I'm most likely to make her tell other people. So in case you thought you were having a difficult Thanksgiving, let me present My Mother's First Thanksgiving as a Married Woman. Keep in mind that she was a winsome nineteen years old when this happened, and my father a beardless twenty-one.

My mother was the world's worst cook; my mother-in-law of six months was one of the world's best, the sort who baked bread once a week and always had several different kinds of fresh-baked cookies waiting in a large glass cookie jar. My family did not celebrate the American holidays (Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, etc); my new husband's family had paper cut-outs, gee-gaws, and special table centerpieces for every one of them. No one in my family (grandparents, aunts, cousins) had ever made a turkey; my in-laws had at least three a year. My mother-in-law worked out of a large kitchen with every sort of jello mold and bundt pan and knife hanging on the wall or on a rack, ready for action; we lived in an apartment without a stove. For the first five months of our marriage we cooked on a two-burner hot plate, and it was more then adequate.

Knowing that we were going to host this first holiday in our married life, we bought a built-in oven and many feet of 2x4 to surround it. We completed the structure just two weeks before the big event. My mother was very ill, and hospitalized. The doctor had said she might be able to leave for a couple of hours to attend this most important dinner. But she really was not available for any help - even if she would have known what to tell me. Oh, and there was also the typical tension/competitiveness between new mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. We'd already had a completely perplexing conversation about cranberry sauce, about which I knew nothing except that it came in a can; she had made a point of telling me that while my new father-in-law liked his with orange, my new husband did not, and I would be wise to prepare some of each kind. So the battle lines were drawn early.

My father told me not to worry - he would help. I was young enough, and scared enough, to believe him. After all, he'd had a grocery for a while. He knew about food, right?

Okay, so because our freezer was miniscule, I waited to pick up the 14-pound (Dad said two pounds per person) frozen turkey I had ordered until as late Wednesday night as possible. As soon as I got home it went straight into the fridge so nothing bad could happen (I had been repeatedly warned about unsafe poultry.) On Thursday, as arranged, I called my father at 6:00 am and we began. I placed the bird on the sink apron, tucked the phone between my ear and shoulder, and started looking for the leg sinew that Dad said had to be removed...."just cut the skin right at the knob, grab the sinew and pull". Ah, you are beginning to see how this is going to go. Twenty frustrating, sweaty minutes later, after trying the channel lock because my fingers could not grab that slimy thing well enough, we decided to go to the next step, hoping that no one would notice that the sinews had not been removed. We were going to have stuffing, not dressing, and I had tripled the recipe because it had originally been for a five-pound bird. Having already tied the legs together--I had to use a piece of quarter-inch hemp rope because that was the only thing I could find after rooting around in the junk drawer with my slimy hands--there was only one opening left to try and fill. And for some reason, I couldn't get very much stuffing into the neck. I was not feeling very reassured when Dad said "don't worry, that cup of stuffing will be more then enough to go around for all of us, you can bake the rest".

Did I mention that the new oven only had room for one shelf with the turkey pan in there? It's okay, I could cook the now-dressing at the same time I made the green bean and mushroom soup casserole, while the turkey was cooling. No problem.

At 8:30, it was time to start cooking so that everything would be ready at about noon, when my guests would arrive. "Turn the oven to 250 degrees because slow cooking makes for a juicier bird," said my father. I peeled the potatoes, and followed his advice to pour lemon juice on them so that they wouldn't turn brown (oh, you say that is for apples--where were you forty years ago?), and started looking at the recipe from Aunt Rose for angel food cake. "Don't worry," my father said confidently, "you can bake it at the same time as the dressing, and the casserole, while the turkey is cooling."

I must admit, having never made mashed potatoes before, I was really nervous when all I had was lumps. "Don't worry, just cut up some onions and put them in there. Onions cover any sin, and since they're lumpy nobody will know the difference." And then he went off to the hospital to pick up my mother. Having had the phone crammed against my ear for over three hours, I had a shooting pain in my left shoulder, the same shoulder I had just had cortisone shots in for bursitis. But it was the numbness in my fingers that really bothered me. It eventually went away, and I decided I could nap for an hour. Everything was set, not to worry!

At 11:00 o'clock we're both up, showered, dressed, and ready to do 'the finishing touches'. We put the door that was being used as a table-top on the four brick-pile legs, and set it with the mismatched dishes and flatware (we hadn't registered, or had any wedding showers, because we were part of the 60's rebellion against materialism. We were soooo cool.) My father called to say that my Mom was not well enough to leave the hospital, but that he would be there for dessert, and would bring a plate of my delicious meal back to her. I was not only sad that she couldn't be there, and worried that my Dad would also miss my cooking debut, but also a little scared about facing all of my in-laws alone.

At noon they arrive, and everyone starts sniffing. There should have been a lot of aromas. You know there weren't. Forty years later I can still see the smile on my mother-in-law's face when she realized what a debacle I had made of that first holiday meal. Here's a sample of the conversation:

MIL: Where's the gravy? You made gravy, right?

Me: What was I supposed to make the gravy with?

MIL: The giblets and the neck.

Me: It didn't come with giblets.

MIL: (wrestling open the rope-bound legs of a still frozen-in-the-middle turkey) These are the giblets, in this package here.

Me: Oh. No wonder I couldn't get the stuffing in.

Needless to say, the next four hours were excruciating. From having to untie that poor turkey's legs to trying to figure out what to do with a flat angel food cake (you cut it up into squares and cover them with defrosted frozen strawberries that you've sent someone to the drug store across the street to get), my mother-in-law could not stop gloating. We did the meal in courses. First the salad, while I fried the green bean casserole on the hot plate; then the casserole. The next course was the cranberry sauce, nicely laid out on the plate after slicing it in neat circles right from the can, my father-in-law's garnished with slices of canned mandarin orange. My mother-in-law, who apparently thought cranberry sauce was something with whole cranberries in it, did not see the advantage of being able to use the lid of the can to slice up the sauce into orderly, seed-free disks. The potatoes were just too much of a disaster to try to save, even by my mother-in-law who seemed to know all kinds of tricks.

Actually, I didn't even see her try with those because I was locked in the bedroom closet trying not to sob. I must say, though, that with enough butter you can fry dressing into a great little side-dish; even if you have used 3 day-old rye bread as the base.

Even at 450 degrees for hours, that poor turkey never really got thoroughly cooked. We did eat some very crispy skin and about a half-inch of meat. It was the creatures that lived in the small park down the street that enjoyed the 13 pounds that were left (I certainly wasn't going to throw it out!). While I could see the feral cats enjoying themselves, I also fully expected to see some buzzards landing, which would have been interesting in downtown Chicago. Luckily, my Dad reminded me that I was allergic to strawberries before we started on dessert, so we didn't have to spend any time in the emergency room. He picked up a pickled tongue sandwich for my Mom at the deli we should have just gone to, and told her that everything had been so good that it was gone by the time he got to my party. She was never told the truth, and died two and a half months later happily thinking that I had made the big leap to cook that she never had.

So, for those of you who have wondered why Indri explains that she grew up eating "turkey roll" for Thanksgiving, you finally have the answer.

Did Mom ever get better at it? No, and we didn't care; those Thanksgivings we didn't spend with my grandparents or my friend Kristin's family, we stayed home and ate turkey roll (which conveniently has both light and dark meat, so everyone's happy), cranberry sauce sliced from the can, frozen green beans with lots of butter, and perfectly fluffy mashed potatoes from a box. There was something for everyone to do in the kitchen, clean-up was easy, and sometimes we got crazy and read at the table, just to punch up the relaxed nature of the event. One year we didn't bother to cook at all, but went to a bookstore, bought a couple dozen books, and went to Denny's and let them cook while we happily read and ate together as a family.

Whatever works.

Now I need to pack up my cranberry and green grape relish, made with white wine and fresh ginger, orange juice and lime juice, and get going to a dinner with Princess the food critic and a bunch of foodies I don't know, who I hope will not notice that I did not follow the recipe's instructions to add salt and pepper to taste because I didn't trust myself to get it right. But I hope everyone has had as happy and stress-free a holiday as possible, and is enjoying the weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

somebody stop me before i eat any more raw cookie dough

What do you think of this drawing? It's not mine; I found it in a sale bin outside the Emeryville Michael's yesterday, laying atop a pile of Knifty Knitter kits (a Knifty Knitter is a round plastic knitting loom. You can make anything you want on one, as long as it's a hat. Or a beer-can cozy. Or one of these.) Finding the drawing made me sad--look at how carefully the artist worked to get the stripes of the rainbow even, and then the drawing was abandoned! It should be on someone's fridge somewhere, and instead it was crumpled up among the beer-cozy makers. So I guess I'll put it on my fridge, make up a niece or nephew if anyone asks, and be done with it. Even if I can't quite tell if the figure is crowing with delight, or crying in agony. Or perhaps both.

Now, I have a love-hate relationship with Michael's. Yes, it's an overpriced hell of scrapbooking supplies and the makings of a million chintzy wedding favors. I often find myself looking around guiltily when I go into a Michael's, half-expecting one of my old art-school comrades to bust me in the fake flowers aisle, drag me in front of the Meaning Police, have me stripped me of my black wardrobe and forced into the pastel sweatsuits and bobbed haircuts of the women on the Happy Scrapping! books. I don't even know what I could possibly scrapbook about, as I have neither gotten married nor produced children, the things most scrapbooks seem designed to celebrate.

But there are some things it's easier to find there than anywhere else, and I tell myself that I'm subverting the supplies, that I can use tools intended for building cheerful scrapbook pages to create suitably depressing or abstract Works of Ahhhhrt.

I'm not buying the paper punch that punches out perfect little Christmas trees though. Nope. No way I could subvert that. I buy one of those, first thing you know, I'll have gotten my hair straightened and streaked. No.

No disrespect to any of you that might be scrappers, incidentally. Perhaps because I suspect if you are (and I can think of one or two who might be), you've managed to find the die-cut bats and coffins. Goth scrapbookers. Please tell me there is such a thing.

God, say "scrapbook" often enough, even in your head, and it starts to sound really strange.

edit: Yes, there is. With suitably anguished subject headings like your photos are dying.

Monday, November 21, 2005

might as well jump

Perhaps to counter claims that Munich is pretty but a little boring, a professor there has said that if 600 million people all jump at the same time, we can correct Earth's orbit. I suppose we would be even more effective if we put on lead weight belts first, but I haven't read that far yet, I was so anxious to share this with all of you. I'm imagining Van Halen blaring from every speaker next July 20, and if it's stuck in my head it might as well be in yours too.

Friday, November 18, 2005

for everyone flying somewhere for thanksgiving this week

An opportunity to brush up on your airplane safety basics.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

they love to tell you stay inside the lines/but something's better on the other side

They were playing John Mayer on the radio as I was easing into a suspiciously-available parking space on Leavenworth about half an hour ago. Suspicious because half the streets in this neighborhood turn into street cleaning zones from two to six in the morning Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Saturday, and the other half Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday. Yes, that's all seven days of the week. The fact that it only took me two circuits to find this space concerns me; I also fear that it might actually be an unmarked construction site or something, and when I go back in the morning to pick it up and take it back to Dollar, it will be gone.

At the very least, someone will have peed on it. That's a big thing around here, maybe to provide variety for people tired of peeing in the doorways of apartment buildings.


I really love this song, and tonight it seemed doubly-maybe even triply-relevant. Because the past few days have really brought home how my life isn't what I expected at all; I who thought I would grow up to be a diplomat or a biologist or something.

Not a professional nekkid person.

It's certainly not what come up in the results of that test--you know the test--we all took it in high school. The one that said we should all be forest rangers because we said "yes" to "I like to work outside." I came up forest ranger/priest/journalist/police officer (really, no shit); I bet you came up "forest ranger/salesperson/doctor" or "forest ranger/engineer/bus driver" or "forest ranger/dairy rancher/aphid counter." I don't know, you tell me. But mine didn't say anything about how I would grow up to one day work three three-hour art modeling gigs in a single day. Which is, what is the word I'm looking for... ah yes.


It gets better. Three gigs today, two yesterday, and one five-hour job the day before that. Play with the numbers and I've spent nearly as much time naked in front of strangers over the past three days as some of you spent working in offices (if you took cigarette breaks and longish lunches). But I'm guessing that you didn't do any two-minute handstands during that time, or hear a client explain that she liked drawing you because your thighs had "real volume", or have pierced-lip teenagers who hope to be animators come and kneel at your feet to examine how your furry little toes fit together.

Or maybe you did. I have no idea what happens in offices anymore! Maybe office work has gotten more fun since I gave up on it.

I'm really not gloating. I've spent much of the past three days cold and in pain; I wanted the animatorlets to be able to see an unobscured ribcage for their sculptures so I had my arms up and my hands locked behind my head for eight hours total, which any model with any sense will not do. I said something impolitic about something I'd read on the difficulty of mixing color to an instructor who explained with ill-concealed impatience that her students were beyond that point and knew exactly what they were doing, and I wondered if I'd ever work for her again. One of my clients insisted on playing exactly the kind of classical music that my parents discovered years ago would cure my insomnia, and I spent a couple of poses trying not to pass out and fall off my stool. My eyes are so dried out from the space heaters that my eyelids feel foreign; ill-fitting spares kept in reserve for when the real eyelids are out being cleaned.

But I did it. I wasn't sure I could, or that I could gracefully. But I brought snacks to share to my second job of the day and we talked about Danny Elfman and Hell Comes to Frogtown (watch the video clip on that second page, I dare you), and at the third I was still feeling like my poses weren't completely lame. I left each job cheerful and feeling like I'd been of use. And I made almost as much money as I would have catering, which is really the point--I am physically capable of modeling enough to replace or curtail the catering, and I hadn't been sure about that.

Is it a career with advancement opportunities? Ah, no. But then neither is catering, and I don't leave catering jobs whistling and feeling like I've done honest work.

Originally I was going to dedicate this post to Half-Nekkid Thursday, a ritual in which I have yet to partake. But in light of my employment, it seems like it would be more appropriate for me to have Half-Clothed Thursday! So here is some proof that between jobs yesterday, I had a few minutes to sit in a tree. With clothes on.

Monday, November 14, 2005

the test

Will a friend play Scrabble with me?

And how will they handle it when I paste them?

For that matter, how will I handle it?

There was a moment tonight where I seriously considered scaling back a little. I haven't known Java long; we'd just had a reasonably intense discussion about the difference between happiness and contentment and seeking right livelihood; I hadn't realized that while he reads voraciously, his spelling is very... phonetic. At one point I even joked, sort of, about easing up. Don't you ever hold back, he responded. Okay then.

I didn't tell him the story about playing against a group of guys from the dojo once, being the first up, and spelling "byronic" (all seven tiles+first player bonus=nobody else had the slightest chance).

None of them ever played against me again. I'm not sure Paramedic even spoke to me for a few days after that game. Which is awkward when two people are throwing each other around, doing joint locks, and so on.

Anyway. I have developed a theory about Scrabble players. I think there are basically two kinds (yes, I hate binaries, but they're so easy). Those who go for the most beautiful word regardless of points, and those who delight in wedging in letters in such a way that you get lots of shorter words, and a clotted, impassable mass somewhere on the board. I fall into the first category, my mother and Scrabble arch-nemesis the second. Oh, she goes for beautiful words, but she's also a much better counter than I am, and much more clever about using all the little spaces. My mother plays Scrabble the way she packs a box, come to think of it; everything is fit in quite neatly, and the box itself is much heavier than it looks. A sign, I think, of high spatial intelligence.

We played Scrabble a lot when I was growing up, my parents and I. Usually but not always Mom won. Sometimes Dad did. Depending on who you talk to, I didn't start winning until I went away to college. I like to tell the story of coming home the break after I'd declared a linguistics major and roundly trouncing my folks for the first time ever and Mom refusing to play with me after that, but she claims I'm making it up. Whatever the case, on the score sheets from the last few games I played with both my folks, when I'd gone home to help while Dad was sick, you can see where he got tired and we stopped, or he slept while Mom and I continued.

I've started playing online, because I burned out my software opponent, and that's kind of strange. Although it's possible to communicate with your opponent, I've only played one person who was willing to talk and play. Mostly there's not so much as a "hello" or "good play!". It's sort of like going to a sex club, really; you could talk to the other person, but why break stride to do so? But playing against another human, albeit a silent one, is more heartening than playing against a computer, which will always take its turn so fast that you start to feel like an idiot even if you're winning.

And in answer to the earlier question, Java came through fine. I wasn't playing all that well, from a numbers standpoint, but I still won by, well, a lot. And he was completely fine with that, said he'd want to play again, and then told me he'd teach me to play cribbage. Where he will doubtless get his revenge, because apparently cribbage is very numerical.

And I did manage to keep the bloodthirsty war cries to a minimum.

I'm learning.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

all we ever did was nuke gummi bears

And stick them together in new, usually obscene, configurations. But if I still had a microwave, I might try this. Ain't science grand?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

i will make sure that my doomsday device is up to code and properly grounded

I'm so absorbed in raising some capital (ie, modeling alla damn time) and getting free of the catering quagmire that I can't think of a single amusing thing to write. So let me send you to Peter Anspach, who provides us with helpful tips for being healthier, happier, Evil Overlords. I've had some managers who could have benefitted from this list--think I should send it on to them?

Also, happy happy birthday to Snufkina!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

moon the klan


I'd say more, but I just got home from work, and I'm completely spent.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

never question bruce dickinson

I have a rental car for a couple of days: too many modeling jobs, too far apart, and an ill-concealed desire to drive like a madwoman, howling along to the radio with the windows open and my hair whipping in my eyes and making me more dangerous than usual.

Channel-surfing on the Bay Bridge, I caught the Bangles version of Hazy Shade of Winter (which is not, I repeat not, their song, as some would have it; it's actually Simon and Garfunkel). You remember, it was on the Less Than Zero soundtrack, back when Bret Easton Ellis was, well, sort of relevant, before other people wrote better books about SoCal kids snorting coke. It's a song that never fails to make me think of California, probably because the film is set in LA. That might be why I always get it mixed up with California Dreaming (written the same year, btw), which also references brown leaves and grey skies.

But I digress. What really struck me was that I could hear the claves very clearly--and they sounded as though they'd been played live, which surprised the toast out of me. I thought everything from that era, percussion-wise, was machine-made. But there are a few points where there's a tiny hesitation, where the downbeat doesn't come at the same time it did in the measure before. I found that very endearing.

It also made me think of one of Christopher Walken's finer moments. It embarrasses me how much this cracks me up.

Here's the original SNL skit, courtesy of GorillaMask. Take a look at Will Farrell's midsection on the second take; fellow belly/Polynesian dancers will note that he's got a plausible ami going for a minute there, which is a complete surprise. And he's playing one of these for all he's worth.