Tuesday, January 31, 2006

the hidden costs of war, or are french children really so dreary as all that?

Browsing through Eva-Maria Metcalf's otherwise rather dry critical biography of Astrid Lindgren, I find this delightful nugget on the challenges of translating Pippi Longstocking:
Overall, the English translation is fairly true to the original. The same cannot be said of the French adaptation of Pippi Longstocking. The editor of the first edition of Pippi Longstocking in France seems to have had little appreciation for the tallness of the Pippi tale. He wrote to Astrid Lindgren that the French Pippi (Fifi Brindacier) couldn't possibly be made to lift a horse--a pony would be more like it. His reasoning was that Swedish children might perhaps believe absurdities about a small girl being capable of lifting a whole horse, since Sweden had not been involved in World War II. French children, however, were much too realistic to swallow such unreasonable stuff. That is why Fifi Brindacier lifts only a pony. Lindgren in turn asked the editor to send her a photo of a ten-year-old French girl lifting a pony with one hand, because that child would most assuredly have a secure future as a weight lifter.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

gung hoy fat choy!

I met this little boy ten years ago in China. That's a bunny he's got there.

Nice for once to have explosions in the neighborhood that don't drive me straight to the phone (how many gunshots, miss? Rapid or spread out?), although it took me a minute to remember what they were. Funny that I remember sitting in exactly the same spot at this time last year; strange that I've been in this apartment for at least that long. I grabbed my marketing bag, coincidentally a totebag from a women's conference I attended in Beijing in '95, and headed down the street to buy dried nectarines and chili-lemon almonds before all the stands at the farmer's market had shut down.

Outside, the sun was bright and the air tangy with gunpowder. A mass of flattened brick-red paper on the sidewalk testified that a bunch of firecrackers had indeed gone off right outside my building, and there were several Chinese families walking down the street. Civic boosters, fooling nobody, have tried to rename my neighborhood "Little Saigon" in honor of all the Vietnamese restaurants, but we all know it's the Tenderloin. And that there are more varieties of people than "Little Saigon" would indicate.

In front of me, a little boy, maybe two feet fall, was chasing the pigeons, arms spread wide. They barely broke a sweat avoiding him (do birds sweat? Anyone?), just bobbed away a little faster than they might have ordinarily. He kept trying, though, with the tenacity of the very young.

Something that has been troubling me lately is that MonkeyScientist, about whom I still have conflicted feelings, is seeing someone new to Berlin. Through his offices I have access to her blog, where she describes (circumspectly, but at length) the wonders of her new home and life. Regardless of whether he and I will be able to maintain the kind of friendship we would like--a question with which I have been struggling for weeks--I get to follow along with the bouncing ball as she has the adventures I so badly wanted to have with him. Some of you may remember that last year at this time, I was making noises about making a big change in my life; how many figured out that the change I was considering was a transcontinental move? I applied for a job with a German animation company, I bought German-language instruction materials, I bookmarked the Goethe-Institut's Web site and those of various expatriate bulletin boards. Not only because I missed him so fiercely, but because I was getting bored, and needed to change something after fourteen years in San Francisco, the longest I have spent in any one place. And he is a very good person to have adventures with; we have similar tastes in amusement. I don't know that many men who will go to puppet shows under their own steam, for example.

Obviously, that move didn't happen. He's there, I'm here, and it's Chinese New Year again. After what has seemed like an unusually long and emotionally difficult year, too much of which I have spent wishing I were doing things with him. So lately, I have been working overtime at having adventures here, and remembering what drew me to the Bay Area in the first place. All of the recent posts about the running around I'm doing? I'm trying to see my city with the new eyes I would have brought to Berlin (or Paris, or Barcelona... still, incidentally, in the running), and the old heart that is connected to so many wonderful people here. New friends and old, artist clients who honor my spirit through their work, some great editors I've finally gotten nicely broken-in (KIDDING, Wry, kidding. But only just), the whole wide network of people who like and care about me and their interesting friends and family and lovers, the folks I would miss more than I probably realize were I to leave.

It is not always easy because I tend to both introversion and the kind of schedule that makes most people throw up their hands in despair. But I'm trying, and it's getting easier. And I'm enjoying myself immensely, sometimes too much to capture in a blog post when I crawl home at four in the morning, bits of Russian hors d'oeuvres in my teeth or my feet protesting three hours of dancing at the GlasKat in boots with four-inch heels.

In other words, Indri, stop moping around already, it's gotten old.

Happy new year.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

technical question

Can anyone recommend a good, reliable Web hosting service for a small business site? I've got my domain name parked, and design ideas; now I need a host.

Bad experiences also good to know about. Thanks!

Friday, January 27, 2006

friday night roundup

It's nonstop fun around here, but I'm putting down the Cheddar Beer Kettle Chips (they've got Spicy Thai now too, and Roasted Red Pepper with Goat Cheese; what the hell happened to plain reconstituted potatoes pressed into consistent shapes?) for just a sec before I take to my bed with the next installment in the Dan Simmons Hyperion series (Endymion. Yes, I'm obsessed), where I will likely pass out mid-chapter, with the lights on. In no particular order:

1. Novocaine rules. Wednesday morning I had some dental work, and was numb up to the eyes and out to the ears. I like how the assistant entertained herself afterwards by handing me a cup of water and telling me to rinse. No control of my tongue or lower lip, and you want me to drink from a cup? When I think I'm about to swallow said tongue, or perhaps said lower lip? Which now ends somewhere roughly just above my collarbone? I am happy to report that I did not choke to death on half a sip of water, despite my best efforts. And that the people on the street who noticed that I was getting ice cream all over my chin and not noticing because I couldn't feel it, did not point and laugh.


Later that evening, some friends yielded to my fear that I will become a total reclusive hermit, and agreed to join me at a bar in the Mission, where we hung out and talked smack for several hours. This is actually kind of a big deal, as I am not much for hanging out in bars, and usually only socialize with one person at a time, as I am easily confused. It was really quite wonderful, I drank something weird made with mango vodka, and Snufkina is going to make herself a T-shirt that says "shiksa goodness". Any more explanation will belabor the point.

2. I am starting to think about grad school. Specifically, the MFA program in Creative Writing at SF State. If I think about it in terms of "how will this enhance my earning potential?" I have to sit down, I'm laughing so hard. But when I look at the course listings, I salivate. Seen as an opportunity to keep actively learning interesting things, it doesn't sound too bad at all. I'd be in my forties by the time I was done, but that's not feeling like as weird a concept as it was yesterday when I started doing the research.

3. Meeting other bloggers proves once again to be a worthwhile exploit; today I discovered that Writhing in Apathy is every bit as smart and charming as her writing suggests. Especially when she's impersonating an aged Irish Catholic nun.

4. Do you have anything this cool lost in your basement? I wish I did.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

disney bastards stole my lunch

The clownfish is out of the bag: Disney has bought Pixar for a gazillion dollars, and swear they're not going to touch a hair on the head of their precious. There's much talk flying around about shares, corporate culture, and Steve Jobs.


I can tell you exactly where some of Pixar's animators were when they found out, because I was there too. Naked and working hard. I had just begun the third and final series of narrative gesture poses, this one entitled "Model Waking Up And Getting Dressed" (the first two had been "Watching The Superbowl" and "Diving Off The High Board"), I was having an awesome time, the artists were making great drawings, and then someone's cell rang. He took it outside and then came back in, paler than he'd been to start. We all have to be in the atrium in ten minutes, he said, and people started grumbling and packing up their pads.

At least we'll always remember where we were when it happened, someone said. I wasn't sure what to do, so I kept my legs where they were, raised and half-in and half-out of my jeans. I hope you guys aren't in trouble, I tendered, having completely forgotten that I read about rumors of a sale just the day before. We've been sold, said the instructor. Do I still get to have lunch? I asked, rather piteously, for the free lunch is the best of many good things about modeling at Pixar.

Yes, you can still have lunch. Next to him, a guy in black-framed glasses snorted. Make them give you lunch and dinner.

Perhaps I should put my legs down now? I continued, but the instructor had turned away to gather up some handouts about emotionality in drawing (sticking eyes on a toaster is not animation, I'd heard a tour guide explaining to a crowd of teenagers earlier. Knowing what an object is thinking and feeling is animation.)

My last drawing as a Pixar animator, said one guy. The guy I wanted to buttonhole, hoping to wheedle the drawing of me as a mermaid out of his pad, was long gone. So I finished putting my clothes on, covering my visitor badge with my scarf, and headed over to the atrium hoping to a) snag that lunch and b) listen in on the announcement.

Needless to say, I got busted, proving once again how poorly suited I am to investigative journalism. First the cafeteria ladies wouldn't let me buy so much as a juice to sustain me (we're closed until the meeting's over, one shrilled, slapping my hand away from the cooler). Then a woman standing nearby recognized me; she'd been in the group of dancers we just auditioned last weekend to try to bulk the company back up. We talked for a minute, and then I said, I probably shouldn't be here, should I? and she responded no, you shouldn't. I'm surprised your host didn't make sure you were safely out of here before this starts. On stage, someone was starting to speak; well, the press release that's going out... So I squeezed between a couple of guys who were wearing sandals with socks, fingers in my ears and la-la-laing all the way, and headed for the main doors where a security guy all but tossed my lunchless ass onto the pavement.

I want my lunch, damnit. Grilled mouse will do just fine. Grr.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Can't find the Henry Miller quote about how it's possible to be living too much to spend time writing it down, but that is what the past week has been like. Keep seeing, doing, and thinking things I'd like to blog, but I'm wiped out by them too. Modeling, seeing performances, learning to play cribbage, dancing for three solid hours at Bondage a Go Go, seeing this dance piece and Underworld: Evolution the same evening, and then a "pancake salon" today at Bunnyslope's, where eight of us ate "surprise pancakes" (will it contain nuts? Chocolate chips? Gummy worms? Avocado?) and did some psychic barnraising around art, right livelihood, and coming to terms with money. It's been a fascinating and intense week, even not counting the story titled "how it took Indri five hours to buy three pairs of socks while nearly getting arrested for breaking and entering", but right now I need a nap, and then I've got a couple of articles to write.


Don't let me forget.

Friday, January 20, 2006

my new plan

Tonight's play was a little intense; a lot of stuff about fathers and daughters and forgiving yourself and forgiving others and not wasting time on anger and the Snow Queen and kids in Tyvek overalls. I might have been better able to focus if the guy next to me hadn't been quietly and thoroughly polluting my aura with sausagey farts; each somehow magically timed to coincide with the especially touching moments onstage. How did he do that? A side effect of excitement? Because that's, you know, a gift.

Happily, I'd run into Wry and her hus-bean in the line outside. Happily not just because they have a car and this meant I didn't have to take some weird hoofing it/bus/BART odyssey to get home, but because they're good company. Sadly, we did not reprise our Fourth of July Mime Troupe post-show experience where we went for margaritas and their friend tried to tell a very long and elaborate story about why he was carrying a little shopping bag with some woman's panties in it. All I remember about the story is that it wasn't nearly as good as it sounds like it should have been, but it was taking so long to tell that the telling itself became hilariously funny. Something like that might have taken my mind off the Weapon of Gas Destruction I'd been sitting next to for ninety minutes. Instead, I shared my new theory on getting married as we tooled across the Bay Bridge.

I won't until I'm forty, I said, pushing my head between their seats, no matter what.

Husband Of Wry: Is this some sort of reverse psychology thing?

Moi: Sure. But really. Even if every man I've ever loved, even the ones who are married now, if I tried to leave my apartment tomorrow morning and every last one of them was standing outside saying, I was wrong, I must be with you, I wouldn't do it. I'd say, I'm sorry boys, but I'm too young to get married. You'll have to wait four years and then you can battle it out for me.

HOW: I think you should tell them this.

Moi: I'll go into bars and announce it, what do you think? Jump up on the bar and yell, I'm not marrying any of you!

HOW: And now who's gonna buy me a drink?

Wry and Husband Of Wry laughed kindly. Then they dropped me off, Wry threatening to take me to a dance performance tomorrow night that involves puppets somehow, and I went to the corner store to buy a can of chili and a carton of milk. I have some garlic-and-cheddar bread to toast and eat with my chili, two fresh bottles of fizzy water, and a new (to me) copy of The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons. A good night.

p.s. Is it wrong that I really want to try this? I've had the window open on my desktop for a couple of days now, I think. Mmm, fried food.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

twenty-seven new kinds of creepy-crawlies!

California is so awesome. And once again I am reminded, happily, that there are still mysteries.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

harbingers of my impending senility

Two very strange things in the same day. Maybe I'm not getting enough calcium or folate or gravel or something. The first: I went out to Castro Valley to do a modeling job. I was very pleased with myself because ordinarily I get a share car to do that, but this time I'd used BART, saving myself some clams. The CV BART station is even walking distance from the art center--I mean, honest walking distance, not the Seven League March of Death I've taken a few friends and loved ones on (sorry, Mom. Sorry, AX) who thought that maybe "walking distance" meant "distance one can cover without having to replace one's shoes". Anyway, I got to the center early enough that I could sit outside in the thin sunlight for a while and meditate on interesting poses and what needed doing when the session was over.

At 1:15, I opened the door, and was greeted by the sight of some other professional nekkid person reclining quite prettily on the model's stand. I immediately shut the door, mortified that I might have startled her, and decided to wait out the last fifteen minutes before my official start time communing with squirrels.

At 1:30, they were still working in there. Hm, strange. But I wasn't going to barrel in, so I knocked until someone came out. Someone who said he had no idea what I was talking about, there wasn't a 1:30-4:30 class on Mondays, ever, and the name of the teacher was unknown to him.

Long story short, I had written down the wrong location. This has never happened before in the fourteen years I've been modeling. This is also my second no-show in that time period, which is pretty good for a profession famous for its flaky practitioners. To say that I was mortified understates the case. I was seriously considering asking the squirrels to take me away to live with them, and never show my face in human circles again. Especially since I didn't realize what had happened until I'd hauled my ass all the way back home. If I'd caught on sooner, I might have been able to make it to the real job, at least for a couple of hours. A no-show when you have artists waiting for you is criminal--at best, they find someone else who can only make it there after the allotted time is half over; at worst it forces them to take turns on the stand themselves (clothed, needless to say). Which they always complain about, afterwards, I've heard them do it, oh, it's so haaaard sitting still. And I want to say, see? That's why you pay someone. It's harder than it looks.

But I digress. Besides having to make this up to the group I was supposed to be working for, I'm going to be in the soup with the Guild about this; I think a no-show automatically throws a model into probation for six months. Which is not that big a deal, really, it's just like being a new member again. Still, embarrassing.

Then last night I was looking through my published work online, trying to answer a question, and I came across a review I have absolutely no memory of writing, of a show I have no memory of seeing. But my byline's on it, and the constructions and overused words are all mine. I stopped reading it after a moment, because it was so weird that I wasn't remembering the show at all. While I can't always tell you the details, I have at least a faint visual memory of every play and nearly every movie I've ever seen.

Or at least I thought I did.

Anyone needs me, I'll be at Walgreen's trying to find the gingko biloba. I'd better write down that that's what I'm looking for.

Monday, January 16, 2006

whether it proves a link or not

This study suggesting that the use of household insecticides and lice shampoos increases the risk of childhood leukemia should give folks pause. Not to cause panic, or further something that might prove untrue, but if there is a chance that there's a link, isn't it worth our cutting down on the use of these products? Particularly since they're not critical to good health?

I understand that, as the Leukaemia Research Fund (spelling's deliberate, they're British) notes, it was a small study and relied on parental memory, which can be inaccurate. Also, it's French, so the snarky bit of me wonders if the British are disinclined to accept it just on principle. But there's a reason we don't use DDT anymore, and as a DES daughter I am very sensitive to the prospect of man-made teratogens, mutagens, and carcinogens.

And there are other options to both types of products. Physical removal of human head lice is laborious but effective, especially on straight hair. Benefical insects are better for the garden than malathion anyway, and careful companion planting (basil with tomatoes, for example) will create an atmosphere that discourages infestation.

But we like our answers quick and simple. What a travesty it will be if it turns out that this tendency is killing our children.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

you think your office is messy?

This has got to hurt.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

first jesse "the body" ventura

Now Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey.

You really have to see the site for yourself. The whole Vampyre part doesn't bother me; I'm sure the self-chosen Children of the Night can serve just as well in elected office as the bloodsuckers who pretend to be otherwise. But isn't this all just a little more information than we need about his ex-wives? And the whole "If elected, I will personally impale terrorists in front of the State House" bit is not likely to win the hearts of Minnesota's voters.

I went to college in Minnesota, and I think I know something of the Minnesotan character, but I can't tell you what inspires such unlikely gubneratorial candidates. Is it the lutefisk? You tell me.

thanks to boing boing

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Strangely enough, I used the image of a snake shedding her skin in an email last night, and then an hour later I pulled the "death" card, which in the super-Marin-County-style Voyager deck has a photo of a snake shedding (as well as some other non-Rider-Waite-approved things, like an African mask and a bird doing something, well, digestive).

The interpretation? Shed what is dead.

The question? Should I stay with the troupe, or seek other learning/performing opportunities?

You may have noticed that I haven't talked about the troupe lately, or indeed about dancing at all. There's a reason; I've been struggling with my relationship with the troupe, dancing, and my teacher. It's been painful, in part because I didn't want to face some things, like the idea that it might be best for me to leave. I can be such a pit bull sometimes that even when it's clear to everyone around me (including casual friends, strangers, and the guy who takes my drycleaning) that I need to let go of something, I can't. Can't get my jaw unlocked.

But I think I've learned what I can from this chapter, and it's time for me to move on. The whole story is both complex and dull; the short answer is that I don't feel like I really ever got a good footing, the longer one that there is a chemistry problem that I would have to contort myself too much to solve. And the point was to be beautiful and fluid, hot with rhythm and life, not cold and stiff and miserable. Which, well, I am. About dancing, which has traditionally been one of the very best things in and about my life, the most essential, since I was a pre-teen staying up late to spin and caper in the living room to New Wave music until I collapsed panting to the dove-gray carpet. And before that, actually; my aunt recently told me that as a little girl, I wouldn't dance without a particular hat, but when I had that hat on, I was unstoppable.

I may speak at greater length about why I'm doing this, later; I may not. But leaving now, just as the troupe is heading into a period of intense activity, could open up a lot of time to explore other things. I just found a studio in the East Bay that offers the most extensive range of tango classes I've seen yet in the area. Another bellydance teacher with whom I used to study is beginning a ten-week class series next week that looks good. A flamenco teacher I liked at a workshop a couple of years ago has started teaching again, after a long hiatus; I loved her approach then, and like it even more now that I've had a chance to study with another flamenca who didn't break things down nearly as carefully. I'm even starting to poke at the idea of going back to the dojo and getting my damn black belt, as much to prove to myself that I can finish what I start as anything else. Even if it means I need to cut my nice long clickety-clickety fingernails down again.

Exciting but sad. I've been with this troupe two years, this teacher three. We have put a lot into each other. And I freely admit that as much as I want to perform, I'm terrified that no other (interesting) troupe will have me, that in leaving one of the coolest troupes in the country, I am damning myself to a future of bad gaudy costumes and RenFest performances, or even, god help me, this (alert observers will note that I've posted this before, but this is a different version, the whole song, and I dare you to watch the whole thing. In fact, I will send a prize to the first reader who can prove to my satisfaction that they watched the whole thing).

But I'm willing to risk it, if it means I might take joy from motion again, the new skin beneath the old shiny and smooth.

Monday, January 09, 2006

time to stop bashing kids for bad food habits

Good news for vegetarian high school students. And a reminder that adults who cluck their tongues at how poorly kids take care of themselves need to shift their focus.

Friday, January 06, 2006

rip, hugh thompson jr.

A hero passes.

What I find extraordinary about this man's story is that for thirty years, nobody saw him as a hero, but as a traitor to his country. As the article notes, he was spurned by his fellow soldiers, sent death threats, and castigated by a congressman--all for putting his helicopter between Vietnamese civilians and American soldiers. It took a professor's pressure for the massacre at My Lai to be reexamined, and Thompson's role in it to be brought to light and honored. It seems like just a few years ago that Thompson and two other members of his unit, Lawrence Colburn and Glenn Andreotta, were what we might call "rehabilitated" if we were talking about Russian history. And it was. Just 1998.

A few days ago Mom and I were talking about how often, in press accounts, the words "hero" or heroism" are paired with "daring". It's as if you can't be heroic without putting yourself at risk. But the kind of risk we recognize as heroic is so narrow--throwing yourself in the ocean after a drowning child, or commandeering a bus to drive a bunch of your neighbors out of New Orleans before it floods. And then of course there's "quiet heroism", a term we attach to people like homeless shelter volunteers, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and so on.

Not to put down physical risk or tireless effort. But there's another kind of heroism, the one Thompson displayed: the courage of his conviction in the face of possible shame, court-martial, even death under friendly fire. He looked down and saw that his countrymen were killing innocents, and he put his body in the way. How many people do you know who would do that? I'd like to think that I would, but you know, I probably wouldn't. For one thing, I don't think that quickly under pressure. For another, if I were already so indoctrinated into a way of thinking that they'd given me a helicopter of my own to forward that way of thinking, it would be hard for me to see outside of that particular box.

Thompson's rebellion is sort of related to the kind we see in all those cop movies with taglines like, "He lost his partner, then he lost his badge. But they couldn't take his honor." You know what I'm talking about. Dirty Harry stuff, one man against the odds, against the system, whatever. But where that model is based on vengeance, Thompson's act was based on other factors: decency, compassion, a sense of right and wrong that penetrated deeper than the politics of the day. He did not look at those civilians and see "enemy combatants" he could pretend were so many more targets in an elaborate video game, or playthings that he could hood and humiliate for the cameras.

He saw people.

Rest in peace, soldier. You did your country proud, even if we were too foolish to see that for too long.