Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Rosie the Riveter's off-label Lysol mandate; The Dandy Warhols, Pt. 2:

1) I bought a 1949 Modern Screen today--I'm going to frame its Ava Gardner cover--and I found this ad inside:

"Too often, too frightfully often, the romance and tenderness of married love is shattered by one sad neglect. This neglect makes a wife unsure of her feminine daintiness, and slowly but surely succeeds in causing trouble between her husband and herself. Many doctors advise their patients to douche regularly with Lysol brand disinfectant, just to insure daintiness alone, and to use it as often as they need it. No greasy aftereffect."

No greasy aftereffect, and I would imagine, no remaining vagina. Lysol douches? These women toiled in munitions factories throughout the war, only to have their men return and say, "I spent five years in a trench outside Vichy but, sweetheart, the smell of your cooter makes me gag"?

Mr. Spielberg, your next project awaits.

2) I can't stop playing The D.W.'s "Welcome to the Monkey House". It's as if David Bowie fucked a Brassai photograph--and who's to say he hasn't?--and created the lush, druggy, sticky, carnal wonder that is "Monkey House". Where The Dandys lead, I will follow.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Sharing the knowledge, sharing the love:

The past few weeks have been a maelstrom of holidays (mostly fun) and health stuff (definitely not). After New Year's Day, I'll resume regular posting, and I'm going to try to cram in an end-of-the year-meaning-of-it-all piece in the next forty-eight hours.

Interim wisdom: I discovered this week that if you're not immersed in The Dandy Warhols' "Welcome to the Monkey House" every second of your waking life, *you're just killing time*:

THE DANDY WARHOLS - Discography - Albums

Thursday, December 11, 2003

From New York Magazine's piece on the recent suicide of renowned feminist scholar, Carolyn Heilbrun:

"'The thing about suicide is that it is indeterminate,' says Susan Gubar, Heilbrun's friend and a professor at Indiana University. 'The only person to testify with any authenticity is God. Everyone else is bullshitting.'"

I've come to agree with Bukowski. In "Post Office", he writes about having the knife at his neck, seeing a finger painting his daughter, Marina, had made for him, and realizing that he couldn't do it: "I decided that if I was going down, I was taking seventeen of these fuckers with me."

Some days, I even know which seventeen.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

My aunt has cancer again.

I want to put this into a larger context or write something eloquent or profound, but right now, words seem immovable.

I yearn to believe otherwise--more than I can express here--but perhaps what I've believed all along is true: We leave this world with the important questions unanswered.

This is going to sound lumbering and collegiate, but maybe our divinity comes from loving ourselves and each other, reaching out to those less fortunate, and knowing we can change the world in meaningful ways. Maybe there's nobility in asking the hundredth question, when the previous ninety-nine have gone unanswered.


My aunt has cancer again.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

But you are heroic, Laura:

Laura Hillenbrand ("Seabiscuit") and I both have CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome). Vogue profiles her in its current piece, "Heroines Among Us: Extraordinary Women of 2003".

My fever is spiking now and cohesive thought is a joke, but here goes: Thanks, Laura, for writing such a damned good book, and for being a tireless (ha, ha) and erudite spokesperson for the CFIDS populace.

Vogue excerpt:

"After reading it," she says of the [recent New Yorker] article, which took [her] two years to write, "I think people understand that CFS [aka CFIDS] is not being tired at the end of the day, it's being afraid that you are too weak to breathe." Despite the obstacles she has overcome, in her mind she's no hero. "On the contrary," she says, "one of the frustrating things about being incapacitated is that your life becomes utterly selfish. You exist only to get your body to the next day. It's frustrating, not heroic."


Today's lesson:

If a 34 year old male goes by "Johnny" instead of "John", he is a boy and not a man.

And in this case, duplicitous and self-aggrandizing, too.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Soaring inside:

I interviewed JT LeRoy (This Is JTLeroy.com) last week for Bookslut, and my molecules have been realigned in a really great way.

I feel unnervingly lucky and profoundly grateful, both to him and to whatever force threw us togehter.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Earlier this week, I interviewed the extraordinary photographer, Amanda Koster...

...for an upcoming Digittante piece. If you're unfamiliar w/ her work, check it out at amandakoster.com:


Also, and way the hell off the topic: About five minutes ago, I took a break from transcribing and turned on the American Music Awards. Is it just me, or does Lindsey Buckingham now resemble an un-tenured comp lit professor? The one who runs five miles each morning, excoriates you for drinking caffeine ("Man, some kid is in jail right now for crack, but you can bring your drug to class"), yet still smokes prodigious amounts of weed?

The second installment of my arts column for Digittante is up--yea!

This month's subject: the way groovy, Montreal-based Mobilivre ("Bookmobile") collective:

| d i g i t t a n t e | get right by art |


Mobilivre’s vintage silver trailer is parked on Pine Street in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. "The Hill" is the fulcrum of Seattle’s arts (and heroin) scene and its denizens tend to be unflappable. Yet passerby hover around this sleek, bullet-shaped vehicle with a childlike eagerness that is refreshingly un-hip.

I step inside with a member of Mobilivre and as I look around, I feel giddy: the walls are a calm cool aqua—at once retro and of-the-minute—and lined with hundreds of independently produced publications: zines, graphic novels, art books, comics. The colors dance—one cover is a swirl of Creamcicle orange, another sports what looks like lavender satin—and I’m overcome with the desire to stay and splash around for the next several days.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Oh, yeah, *that*:

I've had CFIDS for the past twelve years. It's in an acute phase right now and I'm:

1) extremely grateful for my family and closest friends, and

2) really fucking sick of feeling this way.

Pre-emptive strike: I do mild yoga and stretching; walk as far as I can without incurring relapse; have eliminated the foods to which I'm allergic; eat my fruits and vegetables; drink eight glasses of water a day; follow all of the latest research; take a daily multi-vitamin; don't smoke; have two or three drinks a year; consume minimum amounts of caffeine; have tried acupuncture; get two massages a month; and have seen some of the most knowledgable doctors in the region. I stay focused, remain optimistic, implement the best of western and eastern medicine, help those less fortunate, and maintain a lively, ribald sense of humor.

In spite of this, I'm wrestling w/ acute nausea, fever, swollen lymph nodes and I feel like my very active mind is trapped in the body of a ninety year old. And while none of this has affected my sense of style--I will *never* leave the house in sweats and a fleece hoody, I don't care how sick I am--the other ninety-five percent of me feels battered right now.

When I'm able, I'm going to shoot a documentary on CFIDS and launch an annual fundraiser. In the meantime, if you're interested, check out cfids.org for more information:

The CFIDS Association of America

Saturday, November 08, 2003

John Wells Needs a Hug; Les Moonves Needs a Ball Sack:

1) "The West Wing" suffered a steep decline in ratings last season, precipitated by stiff competition from "The Bachelor" and what some viewed as sluggish, convoluted storylines. Head writer and creator Aaron Sorkin consistently turned in late scripts, NBC balked, and Sorkin and Tom Schlamme--two of the show's three executive producers--quit before they were fired.

NBC asked the remaining exec producer, John Wells (hugely successful as a writer and exec producer of "ER") to helm "WW" 's writing staff and jump start its ratings. According to the latest Nielsens, ratings have improved slightly, but I don't care: John Wells isn't fit to clean Aaron Sorkin's keyboard, and he is ruining my goddamned show.

Nuance? Gone. That absurd close-up of Mary Stuart Masterson's red toenails lasted so long it could have been a Revlon commercial. (Oh, I get it now. *Feminists can still be sexy*. Thanks for clearing that up.) Wit? M.I.A. Leo’s referring to Albania and Greece as "two Bronze Age civilizations" was humorous, but hardly deft. Sorkin’s trademark banter is sorely missed.

It’s a mistake to analyze a writer’s personality based on their work, but John Wells seems pissed off and needy. As "ER" has devolved over the years, its characters have become self-loathing, petulant, and moody. When they yell, it’s not out of anger at the injustices that they witness, it’s because another staff member has insulted them or because they have to work late or they got dumped again. When they’re not fucking each other, they're hating each other. (Sometimes both simultaneously.)

Under Wells, the same dour mood has blanketed "The West Wing". In the most recent episode, Josh had his driver stop the car so he could get out and scream at the Capitol Building, "You want a piece of me?" Um, you want a piece of me? This execrable line was completely out of character for the hyper-articulate Josh. He sounded like a third grader who got pushed off the swings and into the wood chips.

Perhaps it’s nap time for John Wells.

2) Much has been written about CBS pulling its mini-series on the Reagans, but I want to add: Les Moonves, you are a little, little man. So, the RNC sent you a letter. Big fucking deal. You could have aired the series and weathered the heat for one news cycle. Sure, there might have been boycotts, but as the CEO of the country's #1 network, you should have learned something by now: Americans have short attention spans. The next ostensible controversy would have erupted--maybe "The Restaurant" would have poisoned a diner with some bad squid--and no one would have cared that your network depicted the neocon's patron saint as human.

Most likely, you were scared how a Republican Congress would treat CBS and its parent company, Viacom, in matters of deregulation, etc. Jesus Christ, man, grow a set. It’s not as if you’re staring down the Khmer Rouge.

Alms, please, for Les Moonves’ penis.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

What if it Were Your Wife, Jeb?

Florida Gov. Bush Signs Feeding Tube Law

A severly brain-damaged Florida woman has been in a vegetative coma for the past thirteen years. Her parents want to keep her alive. Her husband petitioned a Florida Circuit Court, requesting that her feeding tube be removed. Last week, his request was granted. For the past six days, the woman has received no food or water. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the case and the U.S. District Court has declined to hear it citing lack of jurisdiction.

Today, the Florida Legislature passed a bill ordering that the woman's feeding tube be re-inserted. Immediately, Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed the bill into law. The woman will be kept alive.

When I first read this article, I was scathingly angry. Now I just feel achingly sad : for the woman, for her husband, for all of us.

When I was five years old, my grandmother had a massive heart attack. She was dead when the paramedics arrived, but they were able to revive her. She spent the next two years in a coma. She lost roughly a third of her body weight and developed bed sores. Her muscles atrophied, her hands gnarled, and she became almost, but not entirely, blind. My mom says that my grandmother seemed to perceive shapes: her eyes sometimes tracked whomever was in the room. On the two occasions my brother and I were allowed to see her briefly, her eyes welled with tears.

However, she was able to breathe on her own, without a respirator. My grandfather had no option: there was no plug to pull. He watched his beloved, intelligent, boisterously creative wife become slowly and nightmarishly unrecognizable.

My mother visited her nearly everday, telling her stories of my brother and me. Massaging her hands. My brother and I would plan the party we would throw when "Yiayia" woke up: I don't remember the details, but I know that we insisted there should be cake and balloons.

In September 1974, my grandmother had a second heart attack. Mercifully, she died.

Jeb, you can't know the horror you've just inflicted on this woman and her husband.

I have to stop now.

Monday, October 20, 2003

JT LeRoy, Bono, and Why I Want a Wife:

I'm now a regular contributor to Bookslut and I'm trying to set up an interview w/ the searingly talented JT LeRoy ("The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things", "Sarah"):
This Is JTLeroy.com

His publicist at Viking Press thinks it's a great idea, and she forwarded my interview request to him. I read his books two years ago and now I'm pounding down his essays and sifting through the reams of press he's accrued.

In the midst of my JT Fest, I remembered that somewhere I'd saved an interview w/ Bono in which he discussed his admiration for "The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things". (Yes, I'm a Bono-phile. Shut the fuck up.)

I found the quote I was looking for, buried in an early 2001 interview. In the same piece, the writer mentions that Bono and his family have recently moved into their Central Park West apartment. Bono hasn't slept the night before and he apologizes to said writer because he can't find the coffee and he has nothing on hand with which to feed the guy, so he nicely asks the building's doorman to go buy some bagels. However, he can't remember what bagels are called and has to describe them to the writer and the doorman, to which they both reply, astonished, "Um, bagels?"

Bono sheepishly laughs and admits that his wife set up their new kitchen and he's still trying to find his way around. I don't see this as particularly anachronistic: it makes sense that the spouse who is on tour and testifying before the U.S. Senate re increasing African AIDS relief is not the spouse who's going to decide in which drawer to put the butter knives. Also, to the degree that you can ever know what goes on in another's relationship, Bono and Ali seem like equals.

That being said (and obviously, a lot of women feel this way) I want a wife, too, damn it. Not sexually--like my mom said recently, "I know not you're not gay b/c if you were, we'd have to march in *all* the parades"--but in the sense that I'd like someone else to care about the domestic stuff in my life. Because I simply don't.

By any estimation, I'm a good cook: whenever I actually make food for others, it's devoured right away. I just can't see the fucking point. When I'm invited to someone's house, I'll bring something scrumptious, but odds are good it came from DeLaurenti's or Dilettante. I much prefer restaurants to dinner parties, anyway. Isn't that the point of financial solvency?

I haven't been in love in awhile, and maybe that's the source of this hausfrau ennui. I have a fine sense of story, and there's something inherently dramatic in preparing a meal for a new love. On the other hand, I always enjoy the meaning and the gesture behind the food infinitely more than cooking it, and the novelty inevitably runs out.

Of course, I'm a total clothes whore (whore, horse: whatever) and I rarely leave the house w/out lipstick, usually red. So, this isn't a gender thing. (Well, sort of. But anyway.) Maybe I haven't met the right guy yet.

Or maybe I just haven't found my wife.

Monday, October 13, 2003

My new arts column for Digittante is here. First installment: an interview with Nabil Ayers...

...of Alien Crime Syndicate. Rock 'n' roll!

| d i g i t t a n t e | get right by art |

Excerpt: It’s early Monday morning and Nabil Ayers hasn’t slept: his band, Alien Crime Syndicate, is recording a new disc with acclaimed producer, Gil Norton; Sonic Boom Records (the thriving Seattle chain Ayers co-founded and co-manages) marked its sixth birthday with a raucous party the night before; and The Control Group, (the record label he owns and operates), is about to release Vendetta Red’s new disc on vinyl. Ayers has been an integral part of Seattle’s music scene for almost a decade, however, and he’s a pro. Armed with a goofy wit and a Pelegrino, he amiably dives into this interview.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

My Bookslut interview with Augusten Burroughs ("Dry", "Running With Scissors"):

Bookslut: Interview with Augusten Burroughs

Excerpt: Burroughs has forgotten our interview is today, and I'm pretty sure my call wakes him from a nap. In spite of this, he is genuinely warm, reflexively articulate, and funnier than hell. We discuss his unexpected success, the controversies surrounding the memoir genre, how literary fame is "fourth tier", his devotion to Elizabeth Berg, his affinity for Greek families, his overlooked similarities to JT LeRoy, and his Thanksgiving with Bret Easton Ellis.

Thursday, October 02, 2003


"West Wing" continues to be one of the best shows on television.

Is it weird that I want to have sex with Martin Sheen?

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Five minutes of channel surfing yields lifetime of knowledge:

1) Evolution fails. (Hey there, Suzanne Somers!)

2) Whores are poignant. (Photogenic, too, when secondary characters on single-camera dramas.)

Back to work.

Monday, September 15, 2003

This is so stupid.

I'm watching CNN's coverage of Bill Clinton's speech in California. Ostensibly, he's spearheading the anti-recall movement and campaigning for Gray Davis.

But he's riffing on the American dream, and how America will one day have a Hispanic female President, and he thinks it will be the girl behind him on the podium whose hand he just shook, and how all of us need to believe that we're smarter than we think we are, and that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to if we're diligent and pursue education, and how his life has completely defied expectations, and--god help me--I miss him *so* much.

I'm not naive. I voted for him twice and supported him during the impeachment and defended him at dinner parties, but I know he's megomaniacal and his own worst enemy. Damn it, I read Christopher Hitchens' scathing polemic, "No One Left To Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family", (Amazon.com: Books: No One Left To Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family) and agreed with large chunks of it.

That being said, I would have voted for him again: Clinton is a gifted intellectual, extraordinarily empathetic, and--oh, fuck it. This is the same debate that's raged for the past twelve years, and I've got errands to run.

Right now, though, I feel like an old friend just called me from out of the blue, and that I didn't realize how much I missed him until I heard his voice.

My brother will (try to) kick my ass for that one. Hit me with your best shot, baby bro.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Today I felt guilty that I didn't feel more.

I transcribed my Augusten Burroughs interview. (Details next time, but he's reflexively articulate and funnier than hell.)

I went to physical therapy.

I ran errands with my dad.

I--finally!--posted my online personal ad, god help us all.

I felt a quiet, dull ache, or maybe it was numbness, but the anticipated sobs never came, even as I watched children read the names of their dead parents.

I think this is because I contemplate September 11th's ramifications all of the time, regardless of the date.

And maybe, like most of the country, I'm finding a way to turn the page.

I don't agree with all of it, but today's most salient point goes to Christopher Hitchens:

Don't Commemorate Sept. 11 - Fewer flags, please, and more grit. By Christopher Hitchens

Good night and God bless.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

725 Days Later:

I don't believe in nostalgia, but right now, part of me would give anything to discover that the past two years have been an ether-induced cold bloody dream.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Write here, write now:

1) Found out today that I'm going to be writing a column for digittante.com:
| d i g i t t a n t e | get right by art |

2) Am still trying to hammer out details re my Augusten B./ Bookslut interview. Was stressing a bit, until I remembered that I went through the same thing --phone tag and scheduling conflicts--when I set up my Sherman Alexie interview for MovieMaker, yet the actual interview was so much freaking fun:

MovieMaker Magazine | The Business of Breaking Down Barriers

3) Have successfully resisted tonight's random craving for blueberry pancakes. I am a golden god!


Tuesday, September 02, 2003


I'm punchy right now, but giddy as an eight year old on the last day of school: I'm going to interview Augusten Burroughs (# 1 Bestselling author AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS) later this week for Bookslut.

I'm such a cheeseball sometimes, but I don't care: I love this stuff.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Bi-curious superstar seeks mediocre pop tarts for tongue kisses, headlines:

As the entire goddamned planet knows by now, Madonna frenched Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera two nights ago on MTV's Video Music Awards show.

For the past hour, I've been trying to concoct something witty or prescient to say about this, a trenchant piece of pop culture commentary, but I can't, because I'm too pissed off.

First, we must now brace ourselves for the monkey-see-monkey-do spectacle of Gwyneth Paltrow--Gilligan to Madonna's Skipper--osculating with Jessica Simpson. (The mind reels.)

Secondly, we know the inevitable, cringe-inducing interview is coming wherein Madge states, "Everyone's projecting their own prurience onto this. A kiss can be a sacrament, or a baptism." It's too late to swim: I hear the shark music, and we're going to get eaten.

Lastly, I will now endure the bang and the clatter as pieces of my broken heart rattle around inside my chest. The woman who captured my imagination for the past twenty years--who gave me such a hyper-joyful night two years ago in Madison Square Garden--has apparently run out of ideas, and songs. (She's yanked the girl-on-girl crank so many times before, and generously estimated, "Hollywood" is a piece of blockheaded crap.)

This song is over, say goodbye.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Thursday, August 07, 2003

"What kind of sick bitch steals the ice cube trays?"--Tom Arnold in "True Lies":

As I write this, I'm more than a little creeped out. (And no, not just because I find myself quoting the former Mr. Barr.)

My car was broken into last night. At first, I thought that the glove compartment had fallen open, because its contents were strewn on the passenger side floor. Then I realized that my seats were pushed back, my armrest was upended, my emergency flashlight was smashed and its batteries flung about, and--the kicker--my ashtray was ajar and its cigarette lighter was missing.

What the fuck?

I live in an ostensibly safe neighborhood--whatever that means--but this is the eighteenth time that my building's garage has been broken into in the twelve years that I've lived here. This incident is particularly unnerving because: 1) It's the first time my car has been hit, and 2) There were no signs of forced entry.

Now, I drive a thirteen year old tan Topaz. My friends call it "the county vehicle"; my brother calls it, "that piece of crap you embarass us with." It's a litmus test in my social circle: my pals who are lawyers, teachers, and architects gibe, "Did you lose a bet?", while my writer and actor cohorts ask, "Can I get a ride?"

The thing is, I like my little car. I love to get dressed up, but I can't get worked up over the vehicle in which I'm seen. The Topaz--or "the Paz", as I've affectionately dubbed it--is delightfully utilitarian. It's perfect for lugging props to and from rehearsal, and if phad thai leaks through its to-go box and onto the floor mats, it just doesn't matter.

So, why, in a garage filled with new model BMWs, Acuras, and a gorgeous vintage Mercedes, would someone spend the time and effort to trash what's clearly an inferior auto with nothing of value inside? (It sports *a tape deck* for God's sake.)

The police officer who took the report believes it's an inside job. This isn't the first break-in we've experienced where there were no signs of forced entry. As he put it, "You live on a main road with nothing *but* cars parked outside. Why bother breaking into your building to steal when there's so much to steal right outside?"

Why, indeed. I know that this is, thankfully, just a property crime. But I also know that some sick fuck--possibly an acquaintance--is walking around with my cigarette lighter. It's never been used--I don't smoke--but I sure as hell hope they get burned.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Signs of the Apocalypse and Desultory Thoughts:

1) Re those new, seemingly ubiquitous Telecom USA-MCI commercials featuring John Stamos: Did every other carbon-based life form turn them down?

In the midst of a bone-crushing recession, why would an established company in a hyper-competitive field hire such a total fucking cipher to endorse their product?

Have you ever wondered what John Stamos thought of something? Once? Ever? Jesus, people, keep it smart.

2) Re the restaurant chain, Hooters: Why not just call it "Beavers" and be done with it?

I need a mocha.

Last week was, literally, the best of times and the worst of times:

My father was about to turn seventy, and all of us--my mom, brother, sister-in-law, assorted aunts, moi--were engaged in preparations for the birthday party that said bro and sis-in-law were generously hosting.

Dad is cranky as hell, but terribly sweet deep down: think Lou Grant from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", but with a Greek accent and a talent for cursing in two languages. Instead of mellowing with age, his capacity for yelling has increased in recent years, and it's both awe-inspiring and exhausting to hear him rail at Seattle's evaporating parking spots, CNN's Aaron Brown, and the fact that--post-Iraq War--Safeway still carries French bread.

That Dad is merely chronically pissed off and not actually bitter is somewhat of a miracle. He was a child in Greece during WW II and Greece's subsequent civil war. He and his family had already been forced from their home by the Nazis when his mother contracted tuberculosis, was quarantined, and died without medical attention because all of the doctors were treating soldiers on the front. His last memory of his mother: the paramedics are dragging her off and she's reaching for him, crying his name. He was six.

So, Dad is entitled to his crankiness. But last year, he had a heart attack--he's doing remarkably well, thank God--and none of us want him to have another one the next time he has to talk to an automated teller.

For his birthday, I decided to make him The Book of Good Things: a giant scrapbook filled with good news from around the world, random funny stuff, and happy memories. For weeks, I compiled articles about Israeli and Palestinian doctors working together; Gorbachev spearheading an international committee to convert the former Iron Curtain into a wildlife preserve; interviews with his faves, Don Rickles and Bill O'Reilly. When laughter and justice appeared in short supply, I wanted him to have a place he could turn and think, "It's not all bad".

Last Monday night, I began pasting everything into the bound leather scrapbook. I started with several pages of family photos (careful to leave out relatives who annoy him) but I did include pix of my brother's two dogs--one recently deceased--and my four rabbits. We're an extremely close family, but we're not sappy in that cloying, Franklin Mint commerative plate kind of way. We simply love our pets.

As my living room became a whirl of double-sided tape and dissected back issues of Vanity Fair, my little brown bunny, Oscar, stopped eating. I stayed up all night, alternately working on Dad's gift and handfeeding Oscar miniature carrots and timothy hay, the latter to no avail.

The details are extremely painful, so I'll cut to the chase: Oscar died while I was working on The Book of Good Things. Amazingly affectionate, gentle, and whimsical, Oscar always made me laugh. If I was petting one of the others, he'd come hopping to be petted, too. He'd lick my hand a certain number of times and then place his head under my hand so that I could groom him, too. He loved Italian parsley, eschewed cilantro, and never whacked his sister, Lulu, when she nipped him in the ass.

I'm reminded again of what I already knew: love can't cure the ill or save the injured and that seems profoundly, preposterously fucked-up.

I also know how all of this sounds: holy mother of God, no dead pet stories in the blog, please. I get it. I loathe cheesiness, too. But I'm reminded of what Henrik Hertzberg wrote in The New Yorker last year re Bono's work to alleviate Third World debt: surely one can't argue that the world is a *worse* place because a rock star raises awareness and millions of dollars to lessen abject poverty. That's how I feel about Oscar, and all pets: you can't say that the world is a worse place because our animals allow us a glimpse of the spiritual and tap into our boundless supply of silliness.

My father's seventieth birthday party was a relaxed, giddy affair and complete fucking fun. Family, old friends, and colleagues travelled to be with all of us and toast Dad on his big day. Dad and his cohorts swapped tales from their years working at the prosecutor's office, the cousins needled each other as only cousins can, and through it all, everyone ate and drank copious amounts. (Some stereotypes are true.)

I love Dad so much and am profoundly grateful he's still here. My family and I are lucky in *so* many ways. But I miss Oscar and can't believe he's gone. For awhile, I guess, that's how it's going to be.

Friday, August 01, 2003

It's Up to You, Sanatorium, Sanatorium:

"One explanation for why writers enjoy hanging around other writers is because writers often instantly forgive one another for being difficult or weird. In this way New York City is, for writers, a kind of literary sanatorium. I mean to imply in that equation some strong theoretical reservations about the sanatorium."

--from Tom Bissell's "Protesting All Fiction Writers!", The Believer, July 2003

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Demi Moore is Back. Now I'm Crying, Too:

Unless you recently had your eyes and ears yanked from your head, you know that "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" was just released--like Napalm--on a public that knew it was coming but found itself powerless to escape. Generally, I avoid summer releases because of their rock candy effect--they look sweet then hurt like hell--but my brother's dog had just died horribly and Seattle was an uncharacteristic 90 degrees. Sad and sticky, I ducked into the follow-up to 2000's massively popular, "Charlie's Angels".

Riding a Snickers buzz, I surrendered to the film's playfulness and forgot that its budget was more than Guatamala spent on food last year. The Angels project an easy charm: Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu are believable engaging in fun that girls, apparently, just want to have. Also, I hold a soft spot for Matt LeBlanc (laugh if you will) and what film isn't improved by Luke Wilson's sweet visage?

My problem--my huge fucking problem--with "Full Throttle" is Demi Moore. As Entertainment Weekly, Vogue, Us, and Slate have recently announced, Demi Moore is back! After taking time off (more on that in a sec) she's cavorting onscreen once more (a testament to the powers of bikini wax and hair conditioner) and publicly foreplaying with Ashton Kutcher (ibid). I applaud the latter--I think all of us do--but the "More, More, Moore!" headlines grate for several reasons:

She never really went away: Moore's last film before "Full Throttle" was 2000's little-seen indie, "Passion of Mind". Studio publicists, take note: she took a three year break. A hiatus to be sure, but I've had phone conversations--and orgasms--last nearly as long. Just because no one saw it, she didn't promote it, and it received dismal reviews doesn't mean "Passion of Mind" gets expunged from her record.

The revisionist history: Lately, interviewers have posited that Hollywood and the public soured on Moore because she played such "strong women". Did I miss a meeting? Are they referring to the waif in "Ghost" who's rescued by a dead guy and cries all the time? Or the gamine in "Indecent Proposal" who forgives her husband-slash-pimp and cries all the time? How about "Disclosure" 's pulpy vixen who blows Michael Douglas (but surprisingly, cries very little)? In fairness, I skipped "G.I Jane": maybe this time, Moore's character bursts with intelligence and je ne sais quoi. I doubt it.

Her forehead: What the hell did she do to the upper third of her face? Was it Botox? A steam iron? Her forehead is eerily unlined now and appears ceramic, like Lenox with a tan. Obviously, Moore isn't responsible for Hollywood's obsession with youthful perfection, but why adhere to a raw food diet if you're going to have your face injected with botulin? Neurotoxins can't stop Moore's onscreen weeping, though. Culminating her return, Moore cries full throttle in "Full Throttle", lashing out at Charlie via speaker-phone. Truly, Demi Moore is back.

Now I'm crying, too.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

For Oscar, with love always.

Fifty Questions for God

1. Hey, do you have a second?
2. Why do some people have everything while others have nothing?
3. Will there always be war?
4. Why is there disease?
5. Mental illness?
6. Evil?
7. Why are there birth defects?
8. Why do bad things happen to good people?
9. All the time?
10. Are there ghosts?
11. Is there a heaven?
12. Is there a hell?
13. Would the world be a better or worse place if we spoke a universal language?
14. Had a universal faith?
15. Do you choose sides?
16. Ever?
17. How do stoplights work?
18. How do ships float? (The water displacement theory seems kind of sketchy.)
19. How many types of flowers are there?
20. Which is your favorite?
21. How many kinds of dinosaurs were there?
22. Will they ever make a comeback?
23. Evolution: True or false?
24. Is there life on Mars?
25. Anywhere in the universe besides earth?
26. Does it bug you when people refer to "the universe" (i.e. "The universe knew I was sad and sent a baby squirrel to my window") when they actually mean "a god of sorts" but don't want to sound uncool in front of their friends?
27. Do you send baby squirrels to people's windows, or do you have other things to do?
28. If scientists were lying about neurons, protons, and electrons, how would the rest of us know?
29. Can you ever tell your friend you don't like their fiancée without it backfiring?
30. Is it okay to break up with someone because they're obsessed with curry?
31. Because they told your mom she makes an inefficient use of space in her refrigerator?
32. Because they wear climbing sandals on flat land?
33. Because they quote Andre Gide just to sound smart?
34. Once and for all: Do animals have souls?
35. If heaven exists, will I see my pets there? (That would be nice.)
36. How about rats and the thing that crawls around under the deck? (That would be creepy.)
37. Are you a man?
38. Are you a woman?
39. Both, but not in the personal ad kind of way?
40. The guy from the deli wants to know: Are you a doughnut?
41. Also: Can he drink himself sober?
42. Why do some people have children they don't want?
43. How can anyone hurt a child?
44. Does each new filmmaker have to cite Truffaut as an influence?
45. Auto-erotic asphyxiation: Greed or stupidity?
46. Is anyone more bitter than a drama professor without tenure?
47. An editor without health insurance?
48. Some years, could winter be optional?
49. How about gravity?
50. Birds fly over the rainbow: Why can't I?