# 02 Aug 2005, 04:05PM: Feminism:
Heather Havrilesky wrote a light trend piece on guys who care about their appearance that I mildly enjoyed until she started using the second person and the plural first person to castigate these men. I don't know who "we" is here. Heather and her friends? Salon writers?
Havrilesky implies that it's okay for gay and bi men and heterosexual women to pay attention to their appearance, but heterosexual men shouldn't try too hard because that would unnerve her. Even I'm not that prescriptive.
# 02 Aug 2005, 04:28PM GMT+5:30: "Add it up":
I am really glad that Paul Wright pointed me to a bit of non-glurgy inspiration that's akin to Paul Ford's old chestnut about the water boiling. Maybe I should borrow some Violent Femmes. Over the past few days, I've been using classical, Ben Folds, Guster, Dar Williams, and the Mountain Goats to self-medicate.
Limit your wheel spinning to those five minutes in the shower. Let the steam seep into your pores as you sing along to Violent Femmes. Sing, "Just last night I was reminded of just how bad it had gotten and just how sick I had become." Put on your shiny shoes and fight the good fight again. Fight the good fight until it becomes second nature, until it becomes who you are.
# 02 Aug 2005, 10:54PM: Mild Wonder:
An Indian woman living in the US disliked the last bit of an article I wrote. I'm forming a big ol' post on her criticisms, but for now - there's an Amy defending me in her comments! I wonder who that is?
Update: A longer, more considered response.
# 03 Aug 2005, 08:06PM: Feeling Really Blah:
Had to talk to a customer service person who was condescending, boastful, fake-friendly, nosy, and generally a pain in the ass in a way that ensures they won't get my business.
Update: wait, no, she just pushed my buttons in the same way that family members do. Not her fault, just bad chemistry/gearcrunching. When will I get over these freaking insecurities and be able to deal with others as the individuals they are?
# 03 Aug 2005, 10:47PM: Trader Joe's Goodness:
Am currently eating the frozen mushroom risotto mixed with soy taco filling. It's pretty good.
# 04 Aug 2005, 11:30AM: I Did Not Choose The Headline:
Hostess with the most-ess. Dude.
I find myself with two contradictory ethics of hostessing. One, a very rational model, tells me that guests must responsibly learn to express their own needs, as I've learned to. But my parents' older principles tell me there's no excuse for an uninformed, unprepared or uninspired hostess.
# 04 Aug 2005, 11:42AM: "And the dull pain that you live with / Isn't getting any duller":
My very first week of high school, I leapt up in an English class to defend Star Trek as an embodiment of our hopes for a better future. Does the Trek franchise need me to guard it from imprecation? Birdie's tale reminds me of how precious sci-fi is. Her children got more Trek-related attention this year, and you can buy relevant merchandise.
Her other stories have been entertaining me as well.
Title from The Mountain Goats, "The Young Thousands."
# 04 Aug 2005, 01:50PM: Day Of Sententious Quotes:
From The Big Kahuna:
I'm saying you've already done plenty of things to regret, you just don't know what they are. It's when you discover them, when you see the folly in something you've done, and you wish that you had it do over, but you know you can't, because it's too late. So you pick that thing up, and carry it with you to remind you that life goes on, the world will spin without you, you really don't matter in the end. Then you will gain character, because honesty will reach out from inside and tattoo itself across your face.
# 08 Aug 2005, 11:21AM: Pharmacy Recommend:
I really like 450 Sutter Pharmacy. It delivers anywhere within San Francisco (including automatic prescription refills) within a day, and has real live pharmacists on the phone and at the desk. Did I mention that no chain or corporation owns 450 Sutter?
# 10 Aug 2005, 02:00PM: Blah:
E-commerce is hard. Let's go shopping.
Will see a preview of the filthiest movie ever tonight. John, Kristen, Susanna, etc. will definitely not want to see it.
# 10 Aug 2005, 09:49PM: Eh:
If you see The Aristocrats, you should probably bring a barf bag. I nearly threw up twice. It has some very funny moments, but as an interview-a-hundred-people documentary, it pales next to Ken Burns's Baseball, and I can watch Baseball with my family and children.
# 11 Aug 2005, 04:54PM: Over-Earnest Punctuality Is Pernicious Bollocks:
Or at least I hope it is. Today's column.
I used to be good at this stuff, back in high school, when my time was heavily structured but I barely perceived my workload as a burden, just as most of us don't curse our own skeletons. (Please overlook that Ray Bradbury story for now.)
# 16 Aug 2005, 04:09PM: Reading Rainbow:
I should admit to you all that I've been deleting the Reading Rainbow episodes from the TiVo left and right. All that we've saved: the one with Star Trek bloopers and "Simon's Book" because it contains the great song "At the Bindery".
Right now I'm on a quest to watch two faintly-remembered episodes. The first-ever episode, "Tight Times", includes the song "Check it Out!" in which children and LeVar Burton sing and dance throughout a library. Maybe it was a pilot and I'll never get to see it in the course of reruns.
The second is more elusive. I dimly recall a scene where Burton considers dropping out of a biking or running race, and small devil/angel versions of Burton attempt to persuade him to take various courses of action. Even though Burton (of course) takes the right course of action, people summarizing this episode for the web seem reluctant to talk about airborne demons. So I must guess. It might be "Sports Pages" or "Knots on a Counting Rope," but I'm betting it's "The Tortoise and the Hare". Hey Leonard, a friendly tortoise!
# 17 Aug 2005, 09:40AM: "In Theory":
Last night I watched a Star Trek: The Next Generation rerun. In "In Theory," a woman tries to date Data as she's on the rebound from a bad relationship. I remember thinking it was funny when I saw it for the first time ten years ago. But now that I've actually dated, it's acid satire, almost too painful to watch.
I found Seth incredibly likable when I first met him, since I'd already made imaginary friends with Data. But I'm really glad Seth is human. Brent Spiner can really turn up the creepy in a way Seth never could.
# 17 Aug 2005, 10:19AM: Request for Recommendations:
If you've really enjoyed a police procedural crime novel set in Israel, please let me know the title and author.
# 17 Aug 2005, 04:42PM: Imponderables:
I think twice over the past 30-day period, a man has mentioned to me that his wife is or soon will be out of town. Do they realize how cheesy and pass-y that sounds, even if it's not meant That Way?
Also: if you hear sales types bandying about the term CPM, you may think that it is Cost Per Million of something. Once someone tells you that these are salespeople for ads on the web, you may think the M stands for the initial consonant in "Impression." But no! CPM stands for Cost Per Thousand and the M may or may not have to do with the Roman numeral for a thousand. Why.
# 17 Aug 2005, 09:45PM: Petrarch Innovated The Wacky Twist Ending:
Salon published a review of new Nike ads. Sadly, the Salon piece contains no instances of the word "bedonkadonk" or its variant spelling "badonkadonk." It brings to mind a phrase I loved in Salon long ago, "'Our Sportsbras, Ourselves' agitprop."
Anyway. As a companion piece to the Nike campaign critique, Salon anthologizes silly body poems the staff wrote. I have a tortured sonnet-y thing in there; check it out if you'd like.
I've written previous sonnets about chess and my dad.
# 18 Aug 2005, 10:51AM: Includes Mandelbrot Reference:
In case you were wondering how I feel about Indian Independence Day, today's MC Masala column hints.
On Aug. 15, 1947, India broke free of the British Empire and became its own country. The date comes near the end of the summer wedding season, which doesn't quite fit, since it marks the anniversary of India's great divorce, not just from Great Britain but also from Pakistan.
# 19 Aug 2005, 07:46AM: Boombox:
I have a small combination FM/tape/CD player in my room that my mother gave me as a high school graduation gift. I adore the UI. For example, the designers put the tuning wheel next to the FM tuning display, and the volume wheel on the other side of the machine entirely. Innovation!
I've gotten used to the analog FM tuner and the lack of a shuffle function for the CD player. But, over its many years of service, my little music box has begun to evince contempt of physical media. It displays recalcitrance when asked to spin up a CD; I often have to open and close the CD door a few times to get the player to start spinning it. Also, if playing a cassette that's been properly rewound to the beginning of a side, the player will play it too fast or too slow, and I have to jiggle with REW, FWD, and even (again) opening and closing the door to get it to play properly.
My mother paid no more than $40 for this lovely, compact little machine back in 1998. Could I get it fixed for a similar or smaller amount? Are there perhaps minute yet pivotal adjustments that I could make with common household instruments? Will this boombox ever learn to love again?
# 19 Aug 2005, 09:06AM: Spicy Quip:
Upon seeing that Leonard had spilled peppercorns in the kitchen: "Are you making counter au poivre?"
# 22 Aug 2005, 02:40PM: From Booze To Booze:
Some friends came over yesterday for a lovely luncheon (prepared by Leonard) and a joint expedition to the Costco in downtown San Francisco. Astonishingly, there is room for a Costco in downtown SF. As discovered in pre-lunch beverage discussion, I evidently keep rather more hard liquor on hand than at least one of these friends is accustomed to. It's just more efficient to buy the giant bottle of vodka, and it's not as if it'll spoil.
In an effort to spend less on lunch, I bought Costco supplies of fruit cups and organic-yet-crappy frozen burritos. Today I stowed a burrito in the workplace freezer, subsequently microwaving it and eating it with the boastful Salsa De La Muerte, a vinegar-based hot sauce. Only upon retrieving the burrito did I notice that, for the first time in my memory, there was no booze in the Salon freezer.
# 23 Aug 2005, 12:04PM: Behind The Scene:
Jon Carroll, the columnist whose work I follow most closely, warns me of an occupational hazard.
Here's a dilemma: You have to be fairly self-absorbed to write a newspaper column in the first place, so the job self-selects for narcissists. But in order to do the job well, you have to be more self-involved than maybe even you want to be, so it reinforces your worst character traits and pays you for them.
For this Thursday's MC Masala, I could have made nuanced commentary on the BJP and fundamentalism, or deception, or the subjectivity of the good. But it will be a silly anecdote instead.
# 25 Aug 2005, 08:23AM: Self-Plagiarism As Cannibalism:
As I'd sort of warned you, my MC Masala column this week is about a silly anecdote. Specifically, I cannibalized a July weblog entry about seeing a mouse. Enjoy.
I slammed the bedroom door, immediately ceding the rest of the apartment to the mouse's dominion. This was no time for thoughtful action or empowering gestures. This was a time to freak out.
# 25 Aug 2005, 01:35PM GMT+5:30: Recommended Books:
An acquaintance asked for book recommendations. I thought of a few. I'll share them here:
- "The Twinkie Squad" by Gordon Korman
- "The Way We Live Now" by Anthony Trollope
- "The Bug" by Ellen Ullman
- "Crescent" by Diana Abu-Jaber
- "Stories of Your Life and Others" by Ted Chiang
- "21 Dog Years" by Mike Daisey
- "The Partly Cloudy Patriot" by Sarah Vowell
- "America: The Book" by The Daily Show
- "Afterglow: A Last Conversation With Pauline Kael" by Francis Davis
- "The Innocents Abroad: Or, The New Pilgrims Progress" by Mark Twain
- "First Test" (Protector Of The Small Vol. 1) by Tamora Pierce
# 25 Aug 2005, 08:27PM: Guster:
Dar Williams and Guster make my column-writing nights so much easier.
# 29 Aug 2005, 08:00AM: Miscellany:
I helped put together a pile of stuff to give away, and a corresponding list, yesterday.
- 1 brown leather wallet
- 1 costume 14th Century merchant's pantaloons + codpiece
- 1 empty tea tin, suitable for storing small objects
- 1 foot-and-a-half steel pipe, threaded ends
- 1 mouse pad
- 1 plastic (costume) fencing foil
- 3 metal candlesticks
- 4 plastic squirt guns
# 31 Aug 2005, 12:49PM: On Y Va/Nachalo:
The Russian band Tarakani! has a song called "Letter to Britney" that includes the lyric "I live in Moscow." Of course, the song's title is actually "Pismo k Britni" and the lyric is actually "Ya zhivu v Moskvye." I actually understand that line, what with having learned all the vocab and grammar within it during my first semester of Russian. I wonder whether additional lyrics will include "Excuse me, could you tell me where the metro is?" and "I study the Russian language at a university."
There is a song on the same album called "Ya tebya liubliu," or "I love you." Leonard, that one's for you!
Cogito, Ergo Sumana by Sumana Harihareswara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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