Saturday, July 31, 2010

Introducing the Text Wizard ...

It seems like just yesterday. My former landlord would ask to borrow my iPhone, then paw at mid-air looking for an antennae to yank for better reception. Poor kid always said: "You know, I was one of the first people to ever own a cell phone."

Legend has it, he dropped it in a toilet and then went stone cold land line.

After "The Wire" made burners cool again, he got one of those. A used one that looked like it had been chucked in a gutter, and retrieved by Bubs using a soiled tube sock as a fishing line. Then all of a sudden he just had an actual cell phone again. A few minutes later, I was receiving text messages in the garbled styling of a 14-year-old girl.

Tonight's gem:

A STUDY OF THIS TEXT MESSAGE

PART 1
A) I have no idea what SWL means, and neither does Google. There are a few techie terms it could be, but this is from my former landlord. If a physician were to X-ray his head, it would look like a bowling ball.

"Is this thing completely solid?" his doctor would ask, rapping his knuckles against FL's noggin.
"98 percent," I'd tell him. "There's this little cubbie-hole where he stores lyrics to classic country songs."

B) What does it mean to invent a nonsensical acronym, and then immediately follow that by carefully typing out the nonsensical 9 letter word. His sausage appendages pounding out: "ludacrisp" ?

This messages seems to say something like:
"Dear Christa,

I have discovered an exciting new place for dining. It is called Texas Roadhouse. It is quite a pleasure to eat here. They serve a righteous amount of food for inexpensive prices."
PART 2
My question: "Is this in English" is totally self-explanatory, not to mention spelled 100 percent accurately.

PART 3
I guess it's the "txt wizrd" part that I find most haunting. I mean, this is the kind of guy who still complains about cell phone reception, which is so ... 2005. And the "LOL, bitch," well, there he is just showing off.

EPILOGUE
A little while later I got another message from my former landlord that included the phrase: "Lots of PML." I assumed he was at a bar. I tried to really get into the right frame of mind. I contorted my brain, snorted some drugstore cologne, conjured images of 21 year old girls, and grunted.

"People me likey," I told Chuck. "I bet PML means People Me Likey."

Readers, I was right. Except the first word. His was far more vulgar. But the gist was right, including the "me likey."  And really, structurally, that was the trickier part of the phrase.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The failings of a rock and roll cowboy ...

LAST NIGHT

Me: What I really want to do is walk into the bar at the Superior St. entrance. Down the steps, and straight to a karaoke book. I want to fill out a slip with "Sister Golden Hair," hand it to The Thespian, walk up to the bar, order a Sprite and down it in one gulp. Wipe my mouth, walk up to the stage, grab the microphone and sing my song.

When I'm done, I want to jump off the stage and just walk straight out the back door without stopping.

Chuck: Why wouldn't you just go out the front door, where your car is?

Me: It's cooler this way.

***

TONIGHT
Okay, it wasn't nearly as rock and roll cowboy as I planned. For one thing, I had to wait for a dude duet to take my turn. And I got a PBR instead of Sprite. It was a transaction that went like this:

Me: "I'll take a PBR."
Bartender: "That will be one dollar."
Me: "Wha?!"
Bartender: "Well, for another half hour. Then it goes up."
Me: " ..."
Girl sitting next to me: "Yeah. Then it goes up to $1.50."

Then it was my turn. Instead of sounding like I sound in my car when I sing this song ALL DAY EVERY DAY NONSTOP ALWAYS, I sounded like I'd just gotten punched in the throat. Between the first and second verse I rued the part where I said to The Thespian beforehand "I'VE BEEN PRACTICING THIS SONG SO HARD! ASK ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN AT A STOPLIGHT NEXT TO ME!"

When it ended, I set the microphone down carefully, and passed the remaining 75 cents worth of swill to The Thespian. I gingerly made my way down the steps, and made all meek-like for the door. The same door I came in.

My friend Frenchy was waiting for the bus outside.

"Pista," he called. "How'd it go?"
"Brutal," I said.
"Why'd you come out this door?" he asked. He'd been alerted to my plan right down the last ounce of cool.
I shrugged. "It was already ruined," I said getting into my car.

***

It would be more romantic if I drove home in silence. I didn't. I skipped to No. 5 on the CD in my car, and started in a little more forlornly: "Well I tried to make it Sunday, but I got so damn depressed ..."

I'm not convinced it's me. It's the song. It's America, goddammit.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bulls eye ...

Welcome to my blog where I write about my body. Every day.  Every headache, eye twitch and lodged poppy seed that I encounter, and how they make me feel -- both mentally and physically. It's really the only reason I can come up with for writing on the internet these days. My body.

Today I drank a Red Bull because I was thirsty and it was free. I'm not a huge fan. Mostly I think drinking Red Bull always tastes like drinking poison from the future. It's that weird metallic mix of -- I don't know -- roofies and Drakkar. There is something really "Terminator" about it. 

I don't expect things labeled "energy drink" to actually provide any sort of change in temper, mood or activity level. I simply expect them to hasten death in ways we haven't found out how to pronounce yet. I was so wrong that I actually regret not having a term paper that I need to finish tonight.

Three hours later that stuff hit me in a can't-stop-dancing way, and sent me into a world where sentences don't have periods. I was so mad! That was so funny! Is it hot in here? I CAN FINALLY DO THE ROGER RABBIT! Waving mammoth leaves of collard greens like palm branches: Me, coconut bra girl, you loin cloth boy in aviators!

These were probably the optimal conditions to watch "Hot Tub Time Machine." Which we did.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

100 percent classic rock ...

I spent all of last week trying to eliminate pain through some Lamaze tricks I learned from watching '80s TV, and staring numbly at the Lifetime Network. I learned quite a few very special things about husbands who travel for work (probably exporting something illegal involving Canadians, probably has a second wife); the worst case scenario involving honeymoons on cruise ships; how a pretty, pretty girl makes money in a recession under the guise of working as a massage therapist.

I seem to have stopped making new recipes. Shrug. But I'm pretty into Twitter lately: @lilgrl
And I'm almost ready to unveil my new karaoke repertoire. It's like 100 percent classic rock, instead of 100 percent 80s pop. Who knew.

Here's what I watched and read, though:

MOVIES
The Girl With the Dragon TattooWell, this was a pleasant mix of "Jungle Book" and CSI: Sweden. Now I don't have to read the books like everyone else in the world.

BOOKS
Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart: I'm super in love with Gary Shteyngart right now. I wish I could just hand pick people who need to read it. (Futbol, I'm looking at you).

There is a lot, a lot going on in this super delicious novel. It’s like one of those movies you would have to see six times to notice every nuance to fully appreciate. It is funny, and sweet, and also a little scary for its proximity to now, a world where everyday we put our lives in danger by text messaging while crossing the street. Where a thought isn’t just a thought, it’s a status update, and books with pages are being phased out in popularity for their e-counterparts. It’s a real thinker on a lot of levels: Political, social, communication and even the role of those stinky novels we like so much.






Full review here

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Makes fire water ...

I am literally sitting on top of my third urinary tract infection of the summer. Either that, or the first 1 1/2 month urinary tract infection of my lifetime. This is all very boring for both you and me. They probably shouldn't give a keyboard to someone with chronic fire pee. At one time, my pages of the internet were teeming with infection. My not-unattractive male doctor described the human urinary tract in a way that made different parts of it sound like a marsh ripe with moss and mosquitoes -- although he gave me a dull stare when I mentioned the mosquitoes. I was tested for diabetes. They used an MRI to survey my innards. I can't remember why we didn't do further investigations.

Then I had a very exciting year where I only had like one or two -- both managed by the sort of drugs given to people who accidentally touch Anthrax.

During my winter physical, I bragged to my not-unattractive male doctor:
"It's been like a year," I exclaimed. Like I should get some sort of coin-sized marker to carry in my pocket.

So then I got one in June. Then I got one in July. Then I got another one in later July. This is really fucking with my average. Not to mention that I think when you hit 8-12 in a year they actually remove your kidneys, and run them through a car wash before returning them to their original location. The actual urinary tract is treated to something akin to beer bonging, then re-laced. (These are not necessarily the medical descriptions).

This one arrived on Sunday, skipped Monday, and then came back with a vengeance on Tuesday. I couldn't get in to see my not-unattractive male doctor until Wednesday. He must get a full-body cringe when he sees me fetal positioning in his office. Much like my own full-body cringe when I try to make water.

We bantered a bit, the way only a wary doc and his chronically infected patient can. Verbal high-fives and jokes about organs. I explained the genesis of my most recent go-round and he said with a straight face:

"... And so if this Erythromycin doesn't work, maybe you should think about becoming a nun."

He went on to explain the side effects of this medication, a new one for me: Stomach aches, loose stool ...

"So you're saying I might lose weight?" I asked.
"I'm saying you might have loose stool," he said. "And next time ... please don't brag about how you haven't had a urinary tract infection for a year."

So I've been on this for four days. I'm still alternately pouring tap water down my throat, and cringing as I expel it. Last night my stomach felt like I'd been eating firecrackers. I went to bed at 11:30 a.m., completely missing my Friday night ritual of 6 consecutive episodes of "Criminal Minds," while eating Golden Grahams. I've also adopted a limp as an outward indicator that I am in pain. It's important people know so they don't ask me to do things like be nice to them or make dinner.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Total eclipse of the heart ...

I wrote the following for my friend's website (although it hasn't been posted yet) but I think we have different audiences (Ha! Audiences. I make it sound like people are fidgeting behind a velvet rope to get their hands stamped so they can prove they are 18 so they can read my silly words). so I'm posting it here, too. I wish I could spend all day, every day writing fan fiction -- even when I'm not a fan of the referenced fiction. It is probably the closest thing I have to a hobby. (That's a lie. All I do are hobbies). 

Eclipse: The Lost Chapter

After a passionate night of not lovemaking, Bella rolled over and pretended to sleep. Fully clothed. Her loins throbbed like a round Bud Light blinky button worn at a sports bar. Somehow she had landed the biggest prude at Forks High, and was so frustrated she didn’t even acknowledge Edward as he stole away to perform his nightly ritual: The Cure’s “Disintegration” on his iPod, and a very long, very intense full-body self-massage with Victoria’s Secret Limited Edition Body Twirl Shimmer Lotion.

Once she was sure he was fully immersed in “Pictures of You,” she crept out of the Cullens’ mansion and into the night, blue balled and alone. Bella knew she wanted to shed her clunky V-card. And she knew her soul mate was too busy bowing at the temple of Morrissey-style asexuality to give her the beans. But across town and through the woods in La Push, she sensed her bestie beastie Jacob could make her drool, pant, and eventually howl. It was a risk, certainly. Edward would be able to smell him on her when she returned, the Purina breath captured in her boyish tresses. She couldn’t worry about that now: She was hungry for the wolf.

Bella found Jacob in the garage, working on a dirt bike with an Abdominzer Belt cinched at his waist.

“Jake,” she sighed. A certain breathlessness she had learned from Neve Campbell after she rented Season 1 of “Party of Five” from Netflix.

“Quiet, Bella,” he said. Humor crinkles at the corners of his eyes. “I’m about 30 jiggles from unearthing another ab muscle. Then I’ll have a complete set.”

“There,” he said. “Now. What brings you to La Push? How did you shake the bloodsucker?”
Bella sighed theatrically. She shuffled her Converse low tops. She looked up at her friend with doe eyes.

“I need a favor,” she said, unzipping her navy blue hoodie.
“A big one,” she added, yanking down her Gap Boyfriend jeans.
“A hard one,” she said, finally pulling her University of Alaska Anchorage T-shirt over her head.
“A live one who won’t leave a trail of glitter on my cleavage,” she stammered, slipping out of her boxer shorts.

“Oh, Bella,” he growled, still a man. A man two years younger than her and 93 years younger than her beloved. He moved toward her. “Are you sure?”

She nodded.

At the gesture, Jacob threw his head back. His skin rippled and bucked as he spontaneously grew a coat of brown fur. His hands and feet rounded into paws. His snout erupted from his face, his tail went erect. His ears twitched. It didn’t matter to Bella which form of Jacob took her, it only mattered that he took her. She could see her friend in the animals brown eyes, and in the glistening canines, wet with saliva.

He moved toward her on all fours. Walked a circle around her, then nuzzled at her begging to be pet. At her touch, he grew bolder. Jacob was about to feel something he’d previously only experienced with stuffed animals. And once he’d done some experimental sniffing with the pack’s leader Sam. He nudged Bella down, onto the floor. He straddled her left shin, then lowered himself. He shook up and down, humping her leg victoriously. Finally, he yelped. Finally.

Bella let herself out of the garage as the sun came up. She’d kicked herself free of Jacob, who had fallen asleep at her feet. “I’m still a virgin,” she thought to herself. “But sometimes when you need a favor, it’s just as satisfying to do a favor for someone else.”

“Edward will always have my heart,” she said into the morning mist. “But Jacob will always have my  shin.”

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I feel the magic ...

Last week we got a fire pit for the backyard. Now we spend our nights staring quietly into flames while the clock spins furiously. Forty-five minutes escaped while I watched a swirly tornado fire. I cruised embers for an hour. This has to be more healthy than watching TV, but it feels eerily similar.

It's getting a little Ingalls-Wilder back there. This is where we also make our dinners now. Wrapped in tinfoil. 

This is all part of a weird fascination with the out-of-doors that I have this summer and have never had other summers. I'm logging like 15 hours of deck time per weekend, a stack of books, perhaps a beer, and a lounger. Sometimes I write out there, get into a nature zone, and crank out 1,200 words about, um, say ... the book "Eclipse."

It's all very, very glamorous. And the only thing standing between me and optimal comfort is that I am pretty sure our 80-year-old next door neighbor would be able to tell if I was outside in just my underwear.

Oh. Also? I re-kindled some romantic feelings toward Belinda Carlisle this past week while reading her new memoir. On Sunday night, I stayed awake until 3 a.m. combing her video archives and imagining what I'll look like in a few weeks when I tell my hair cutter guy "Belinda Carlisle red, please." So after much research, I've decided that these two Belinda Carlisle videos are my favorite Belinda Carlisle Videos:








Anyway: Here is what I read and watched last week.

FOODS
Made foods. Took photos. Received request from food industry to stop posting unflattering photos of their product. Complied.

MOVIES
El Secreto De Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes): I find myself unable to differentiate between whether I am madly in love with a movie, or whether I am madly in love with seeing movies at the particular theater we go to -- where everything kind of feels like an experience. ... In this case I'll say it is both; But "Human Centipede" might have gotten a little sheen from the venue. But just a little.

Anyway, this one is like CSI: Argentina in all the best ways, and with none of the worst ways.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: I kept laughing at all the wrong parts: The vamps on the hill like they are Team Hot Topic about to take on Team Abercrombie; Shirtless Jacob; Shirtless Jacob running through the woods, carrying Bella; Edward's emo breakdown when he proposes. ... I wish I'd known it was going to be a comedy. My glitter smeared I was laughing so hard.

BOOKS
Eclipse (The Twilight Saga) by Stephenie Meyer: There are worse books than this one: Twilight and New Moon, for example. In fact, there are even worse books than this one not by Stephenie Meyer. If you can find a way to ignore the sexism, the overwrought puppy journal-style entries, and forget the impact of this series on hundreds of thousands of young girls — and not to mention their mothers — it isn’t bad at all.
 
Full review here

Lips Unsealed: A Memoir by Belinda Carlisle: To see her on MTV supported this personae. In her videos, Belinda Carlisle spun and rolled in the sand, dance-flirted on sun porches, made love to a convertible's head rest with her voice -- a voice that sounded equal parts cigarettes and Tab. Her clothes always dangled off bare shoulders, like she had dressed hastily in the morning before sneaking out a bedroom window. Never trashy,though. What people mean when they say: "Why, she's a natural beauty."

In her memoir "Lips Unsealed" the former Go-Go reveals that this was all a front. That beneath the tousled red hair and pearly whites, she was a coke head in an internal state of controlled chaos. She was on and off the wagon so many times that she should have splinter scars on the backs of her thighs. This shouldn't come as a surprise. The Go-Gos reputation for partying hardy was well-documented, and frequently Carlisle's own binges ruined live performances -- both televised and at sold-out concerts -- and pissed off her band mates.


Full review will be on Minnesota Reads

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Exerpts. Now with cattle carcass ...

" ... well, I guess it all starts with Kar Karaoke."

"Car Karaoke ... dare I ask?"

"No, it's with a K. Kah-Kah. ... Kar Karaoke."

"...?"

"I find a song. Give it a bad case of OCD treatment, right? Play. Restart. Play. Restart. Learn the lyrics, ape the vocal nuances, really get into the character's head until I'm not just some me in 7-minute car ride, freaking out other drivers at stop lights. And I'm not even Lindsey Buckingham. I'm my own interpretation of Lindsey Buckingham's character. This dude, right? Start. Restart. Miss a cue, restart. Go off key, restar--"

"This sounds ... intense?"

"--lose my head space. Restart. Forget what I'm feeling. Restart. Take back roads to get in one more spin. Play. Restart. Play. Restart ..."

"And has this worked for you? In the past, I mean?"

"Definitely. At one point I could be both Gladys Knight and the Pips. And that's hard, man. It's tricky. There's some lyrical overlap there. Well. I used to drive more back then. That took an entire trip to Minneapolis to really groove on."

"Hm ... That would be hard. What about failures? Ever 'Give it a bad case of OCD treatment' and never nail it?"

"Pshyeah. All the time. All. The. Fucking. Time. I had some Beyonce down, like whoa. It was magic. Practically sounded like we were the tag-team alto section of a girls' choir, right? Finally, one night I find the the song in a book. 'Irreplaceable,' the song is 'Irreplaceable,' ... you know Ear.A.Place.A.Bull.A.Ull. So I'm standing there. Beer in one hand. Mic in the other. The music starts. And it's been awhile, right? But still. This thing is imprinted. It's in me. It's on me. It's the tribal tattoo on the small of my back, it's my middle name. It's the color of my hair when my roots have grown out. Anyway, music starts and: Blank. Nada. I can't remember the pace. I mean, the lyrics are in front of me, but they make no sense. To the left? To the left? What the hell is this?" 

"So what did you do?"

"What do you mean, 'What did I do?' I sang it. I finished it. I got polite applause from, like, someone's wasted mom. Then I went home, downloaded it, and critiqued my performance versus the recording."

"And ...?"

"I'm still working on it."

"And that night? Did you sing again?"

"Fuck, yeah, I sang again. Over and over. I closed out with 'Lets Hear if for the Boy,' a real crowd pleaser, right? Everyone loves fucking 'Footloose.' Kevin Bacon. That skinny tie. The girl with hip bones like the hollowed out head on a cattle carcass ... 'Lets daaaaaaaannnnncccceee!' I went all in. Nailed it. Even that high note at the end. Glasses broke. Dogs barked. That fucking bar. They thought they had a goddamn mermaid on stage that night."

"And that's ... good?"

"Fucking right."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Scallions, shallots, brain block ...

I got the brakes on my car fixed by one of those old-school mechanics in a garage filled with enough parts to build a Camaro from scratch. Dirty hands and a smoker. He just won a lifelong contract with my Honda Civic. Lesson learned: When your 80-year-old neighbor likes a certain mechanic, it's probably a good mechanic.

The bad news is that I'll no longer be zipping around town in Chuck's Ford Focus, which I liked to think of as a sexy rental hot rod. This has nothing to do with the car and everything to do with the fact that his car isn't a rolling time capsule of things eaten in the past seven years, and a makeshift RubberMade for books, clothes, sporting equipment ... And his factory stereo is superior to my factory stereo.

***

2010 will henceforth be known as The Summer of Trip Shakespeare. Can't. Get. Enough.

***

Anyway: Some weeks I look at this list of things I did during the week and think: Christa. You're fucking Super Woman. That said: I haven't done laundry in weeks, my jeans have established muscle memory, and I'm building a furry mold product in the refrigerator that I plan to turn into a coat this winter.

So. Here is what I made, read and watched this past week. 

FOOD


Roasted Tomato-Bread Soup: This is like onion soup with tomatoes, which makes it socially acceptable to eat it when it is warm outside. The best part -- just like in onion soup -- is the crusty bread that gives it heartiness. Everything is roasted instead of like stirring onions for an hour or until your wrists bulge freakishly. I might try making onion soup the same way, without tomatoes, after Labor Day.



Chicken Stuffed with Pimiento Cheese: Slice open chicken breast. Stick it full of shredded gouda, pimento, scallions and paprika mixture. First brown it. Then bake it. This is pretty damn good.

FUN FACT: I can never remember the difference between scallions and shallots. Like there is seriously a dead spot in my brain where identifying these two things lives. I certainly cannot do it on demand. Sometimes when I walk through the grocery store and see shallots, I have to say to myself: "Shallots." And hope this time it sticks.


Summer Vegetable Crepes: Haha, crepes. ... The recipe promised that my grocery store would have pre-made crepes available near produce or the refrigerated tortillas. Lies. But the more I read the recipe, the more I realized that this would be fine on tortillas -- or as Chuck called them "The poor man's crepes." This is good. Summery. I was actually surprised that it was better than the mediocre-ness I expected.

MOVIES
Table for Three: I admit that I only watched this obnoxious rom com because it starred Sophia Bush and it was streaming on Netflix and I had some brain juice I wanted to dehydrate. It is, as you would expect, clunky with chaos and silliness. But there was a line so funny in the beginning that made me hang in for the long haul. And it ended up being more entertaining than half of the shit that doesn't go straight to DVD and then steam for seemingly free into one's home. This is not a recommendation. This is acknowledgment that this movie won't make you want to kill yourself.

Love Story
This book is one of the first "adult" books I read in my post Babysitter's Club years, and I wept like a Twi-hard. I'm sure I have seen the movie before, but never in a way that made me so painfully aware that the spunk and sass that engulfs Oliver Barrett IV and Jennifer Cavalleri in the early stages of their relationship is so fucking annoying. Seriously. Good sass: Veronica Mars. Bad sass: "Love Story." Also: those hockey scenes are pitiful.

Factotum Right now, I truly believe I could watch this movie every day for the rest of my life. Based on the book by Bukowski and starring Matt Dillion matching his Dallas Winston performance.


BOOKS
Hotel Iris: A Novel by Yoko Ogawa: Mari is manning the front desk at the ramshackle sea-side hotel owned by her mother the night before the start of the busy season when a second-floor scuffle breaks out between a guest and a prostitute. The latter lands in the hallway, screeching and flailing, amid a mess of tossed pillows, strewn clothing, and a spilled purse. Other guests file into the hallway to gawk, and the john — a stoic suit-wearing sort — says to the woman in a hypnotic voice Mari likens to a mellow horn or a cello:
“Shut up, whore.”
His voice wedges itself in Mari’s soul, and is the starter pistol to a whirlwind sadomasochistic, um . . . romance?. . . between the 17-year-old high school drop out with long shiny hair and a truck-load of self loathing, and the man — a translator who lives alone on an island and is rumored to have murdered his wife, the unlikely stars of Yoko Ogawa’s dark Japanese novella "Hotel Iris."

Full review here

Real World (Vintage International) Natsuo Kirino: Natsuo Kirino has a way of describing heinous death scenes, and subsequent clean up, in a lazy, clinical monotone typically reserved for reciting the tasks on a to-do list. This can either create chilling suspense for the lack of emotion, or it can lull a reader into a desensitized state where the word “Smush!” in reference to skull-implement contact barely causes pause.
In her novel "Real World," a high school boy nicknamed “Worm” bludgeons his mother to death with a baseball bat for no real reason beyond the perceived slightings that plague all emo teens — not just those living in a Japanese suburb: She’s annoying. He’s under too much pressure.

Full review here

post office: A Novel by Charles Bukowski: If you have ever taken the majority of your dinners with an employee of the United States Postal Service, you will learn that Charles Bukowski's novel “Post Office” is what these people use instead of a mirror. This has long been a favorite book of my boyfriend, and one he has suggested I read for an accurate look at how he spends his business hours.  Finally, fueled by back-to-back viewings of the movie “Factotum,” and the documentary “Born into It,” I had built up some juice for more of a Bukowski binge. The curmudgeonly drunk and dirty old man doesn't just appeal to government workers, after all. Like anyone who has ever been a 20-something who enjoys scrambling word combinations and giving mouth-to-mouth to a bottle of whatever, I, too, have found an occasional Bukowski-ism that resonates. Until now, I've only read his poetry – which I love for its stark and frank narrative qualities and for the seedy portraits of old-school Hollywood gutter life. In non-rhyming verse. 

Full review will be here.  





Friday, July 9, 2010

Mal de ojo ...

I got half a contact lens stuck in my face two days ago. Meh. It happens all the time. I find a source of light, prop my eyeball open to a Graves Disease-ian bulge, then perform the highest level of eye rolls possible without a sarcastic accompaniment. Find lens.

At this point I do a comical jab and what is probably an unhygienic smear, and most time the little guy comes right out. This time it didn't.

I shrugged it off. What's a little searing eyeball-related head pain and gummy vision. I wore my glasses into the world. Used the occasion to complain about something being amiss with my body that was, for once, a socially acceptable topic. Something not-at-all related to urinary tracts or severity of cramping.

Every couple of hours, right around the time it started to feel like someone was acupuncture-ing a tear duct, I would trudge to the bathroom and begin the aforementioned ritual. Unsuccessfully. Then, bored, I'd go back to my life, my left eye reddened like it had been sitting in the dark, alone, shredding Kleenex into snowflake designs and watching “Beaches.”

Finally I decided to play chicken with this disposable lens. Wait it out. I figured that when I woke up in the morning, I'd find a gooey semi-circle hanging half-in, half-out of my lid. A dehydrated slug. In the meantime, I'd ignore the tapioca colored globs that were oozing out of my face.

When I woke, ole lefty was glued shut. I remembered once knowing a woman who had just one eye, the other was cinched closed permanently. A sort of pucker. A face anus. Maybe that would be me. And if it was, I promised myself, I wouldn't be such a bitch about it. Still, I tried to pry open my eye, and wondered how long it would take my eyelashes to grow back.

The contact was still roaming. I dug some more, and quit. Every two hours my friend S would ask about my eye, and I'd shrug. Nada. No news yet, buddy. Finally, when every reddened vein had crawled to the surface, he said:

“Don't you have health insurance?”

Finally there was so much mayonnaise-textured goo dripping from my eyeball that I decided this was probably unhealthy. I mean, if I was cattle, they probably would consider me diseased and refuse to Mc-Anything with my parts. Chuck dripped drops into my left eye, while my right eye gave him a dirty look. I rubbed at my eye, and wondered if we were going to have to call an ambulance. Would this justify the onset of a mysterious limp? Finally, finally, it just kind of came out.

Whatever. My eye doctor agrees that my eyeballs are shaped a little strangely. Flat, he said. And I have an astigmatism – which I prefer to call an a-stigmata-ism. Keep up.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The whole enchilada ...


A few nights ago I was sitting on the front steps. The air was like one of those warm wet compresses that you use to pop a zit. It was about 3 a.m., and a 20-something dude was shuffling down the street sort of like a collapsed ping pong ball. He tried to get into the house across the street, and failed. He limped back toward his car. He saw me, and oozed my direction:

"My friends locked me out," he said. "I went for a walk. They went to bed and locked the door."

These were declarative sentences. But he stood in front of me waiting for some sort of answer, one I couldn't even imagine. Did he want to sleep on our couch? Did he want me to break in? Did he think I had a spare key?

I suggested he try the back door, which he did to no avail. Then, there he was in front of me with that same questionless question. I suggested he call (his phone was dead). Then I was out of answers.

Eventually I fed him beer and called him a cab back to his home in Riverside. He thanked me seven times during the 20 foot walk down the front path. He showed the cab driver his $9, and the last thing I heard was something along the lines of "How far will this get me?"

Also: I'm madly in love with summer drinking on the deck at Mexico Lindo. And the cheese enchilada doesn't suck either. I plan to do that as much as possible between now and snowfall.

Also: I didn't make one new thing this week. My inner food-maker is in a rut.

So here is what I read and watched this past week:

MOVIES
Rocky III: Here is a rookie error: Watching more than one Rocky in a single sitting reveals the series to be a bit, um, formulaic. Although, of the two that were consumed this week, I'm going to say this one is far superior to Rocky IV if not just for the grittiness of whatever sort of recording device they used in the 80s, then certainly for Thunderlips and Clubber Lane. And those very special moments shared between Apollo and Rocky as they slow danced to "Survivor's Greatest Hits."

Rocky IV: ... And then this one seems to have more than the usual amount of music-video montages, and looks like it shared womb space with Top Gun, and can feel it when Goose is in pain.

BOOKS
Anthropology of an American Girl: A Novel by Hilary Thayer Hamann:
I have just spent two-plus weeks marinating in a slow vacation-style paced read of this novel by Hilary Thayer Hamann, and I think the readjustment period to normal life is going to be a bit shaky. So far it has been like yawning awake after an amazing dream. Looking around groggily and wondering, Huh. When did summer get here?

My God, this novel is intense and brilliant, so beautiful. Words I usually reserve for Haruki Murakami. This is the best thing I have read in years, filled with the best sentences I’ve ever read.

Full review here


Saturday, July 3, 2010

A linear tale about rock and roll (with footnotes) ...

At 6:12 p.m., Chuck sent the deciding text: Why, yes. He would like to travel 76 miles to Hayward, Wis., to see The Hold Steady play at an unlikely venue. A casino. In a resort town. Where cell phone coverage is a futuristic concept that comes just after the invention of brain internet. Where they apparently train super good skiers how to remove Sharpie mustaches the morning after.(1)

This, as you know, is how I like to travel. A decision on the fly. No hemming and hawing. Wait until the last minute and go or don't go. We were taking a risk here, as Chuck had to work at 12:30 a.m.:

The show started at 8 p.m., and included two other bands before The Hold Steady. Based on my most recent concert experience with a similar set up, I figured that ideally Band A would play for a half hour; 15 minute set up; Band B would play 45 minutes; 15 minute set up; Band C cranks it up at 9:45 p.m.-ish. We wouldn't see everything. But best case scenario, we would get 55 minutes of rock and roll. Worst case scenario, a half hour of rock and roll. Either way, it was more rock and roll than we would get it we didn't go at all.

FACT: I am not even necessarily that in love with The Hold Steady. I like them in theory more than practice. The words they make are magic. Mostly I think they are, I'm sure unintentionally, a band for boys.(2)

We busted through the Minnesota border at about 6:45 p.m., and rolled into Hayward at about 8:06 p.m. and were all Meh. Let's eat instead of checking out the first band.

We stop at a brewery, Angry Minnow, which looks like a phat cabin right down to the flip flops and "I'd Rather Be Fishing" fashion collection. Everyone looks happy, relaxed, and in dire need of an aloe bath. Like they are going to be finding sand in some weird places, but right now they don't care. I get Lake Superior White Fish, damn near weeping over the stars aligning that I can be out of the city limits on a Friday night with my actual boyfriend eating amazing summer food specific to the region in a place that has an atmosphere that rivals a full-body massage.

A woman approaches the bar, and tells the bartender that her son stabbed himself with a cherry sword.

An older woman actually goes behind the bar to hug the bartender and tell him how much she enjoyed her dinner.

I'm so madly in love with this moment in time, that I damn-near fracture a tongue muscle trying to French kiss the entire scene.

We get to the casino just in time for Band B: The Whigs. We check in with Cork1, who -- I never noticed this before -- walks like a dad. Not my dad, but A dad. Check it. We nod, we bob, we listen. When the band says they have two more songs, someone in the audience (an eclectic collection of blue hairs who made a wrong turn at the Bingo doors, and men) yells "One more song!" Which is a hilarious insult I wish I'd thought of. Time was of the essence. It was almost 10 p.m. We had to leave no later than 10:40 p.m.

At 10:20, the roadies were just finishing fucking around with the equipment. At about 10:29 p.m., The Hold Steady started to play.

Readers: We saw one song. It was amazing. Craig Finn pitting out in his best Eddie Bauer short sleeve button up before it was halfway through. Waving his arms like a street preacher. I had a big old smile for every second of those four minutes, and some change. Mostly I learned that I'd really like to see them live some day.

When the song ended, we looked at each other, shrugged, busted out laughing and made for the door.

We took a wrong turn that cost us six minutes, but saw a bear lumbering into the woods.
We later saw a fox, which I almost turned into a stole. Then we saw another.

I drove like I was possessed. Player 1 in a video game. I could barely see beyond the 50 feet in front of the headlights, and I finally had to stop accelerating into the turns to spare Chas from crippling passenger panic. Not only to get Chuck home in time for work, but to hit the city limits of Superior, Wis., so I could hit a liquor store. They rung up my order at 11:59 p.m., and we were home by 12:15 a.m.

Exciting conclusion: Chuck got to work on time; I enjoyed Honey Weiss and Berry Weiss in a tall glass over ice.(3) This was a great, great night.

(1) This is where I pander to my one friend in Hayward. Hi, Cork1!
(2) Although I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule.
(3) A Smiling Moose mix from yesteryear, and exactly what Fannie and I would be drinking on the deck if it was the summer of 1999.