Friday, September 29, 2006

Foosballers Wives

My wardrobe conspired against me this morning. Nothing felt right, nothing looked right. I changed my clothes three times and ended up settling on a T-shirt that is clean but somehow smells of mildew. The jacket I put on over it now smells of mildew due to its proximity to the stanky shirt. Even the new stuff I bought two weeks ago didn’t work, which made me less excited about test-driving it. I hate to shop, so it’ll be another eight months before I buy anything else to get jazzed about. And I chopped three and a half inches off my hair and now my hair is all wonky in the front and wah wah wah crymeariverjustintimberlake.

I have this theory that new clothes are like school supplies (except for the fact that school supplies are fun to buy): You color-code them and pet them and admire their pristine condition and fantasize about great possibilities when they are on or near your person, but once they’re used, reality sinks in and you realize you have to iron.

Anyway, it was just one of those mornings — a woman walking slowly in front of me cut me off every time I tried to pass her, the barista at Starbucks forgot to make my drink — and yet my mood could not be spoiled. Despite being so exhausted all day yesterday that I convinced myself I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I was forced out of bed last night by an antsy Josh at 1 a.m. and we went for a walk in the rain. It’s one of those barfy couples stories that make other people roll their eyes, and I do feel doucheish for repeating it, but I must say that I think it ranks in our Top 3 moments. We stopped at a bar in search of coffee, drank seltzer water and juice instead, and played some no-holds-barred foosball. It was completely spontaneous and cathartic for both of us. We’ve both been under so much pressure lately — he with school, me with being at work all. the. freakin’. time., and both of us with really feeling the need to overhaul our physical and mental selves — so doing something that’s become out of the ordinary just felt so FRESH. A byproduct of getting older, for me, has been that I get so wrapped up in the things I have to do that I know I’ve pushed away many fringe moments that could have been as exhilarating as the rain walk. Hell, I almost pushed away the moment Josh proposed because I had to do laundry. My instinct to immediately say no to potentially life-altering moments is disconcerting, but I’m working on it.

Something else that is disconcerting? This. Stephanie brought this to my attention. Being a nurse, she may not be bothered by it as she deals with such subject matter on a daily basis. But a Barbie dog that eats its own bits ain’t right, y’all.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Josh and I worked out together this morning. It was very funny.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Greetings from M5.

Company policy is that if you work past 10 p.m., you get a shmancy ride home. My ride home on Friday was particularly shmancy, thanks to Loud, Loquacious Driver From St. Vincent, The Grenadines (LLDFSVTG).

I don’t mean to be unfriendly, but at midnight on a Friday after having the most hellacious week at work (seriously, it was all kinds of suck), I don’t want to talk to anybody. Even calling the car service to ask for a ride is sometimes more than I can bear. Usually I can hop into the back seat, hand over my voucher, tell the driver to take the Manhattan Bridge, argue with the driver when he tries to convince me that the Brooklyn Bridge is more direct (it’s not), put on my headphones and tune out until I turn off of Flatbush. It’s not that I’m not interested in having conversations with the drivers — on the contrary, they always have fascinating stories to tell, except for the pro-Reagan Russian driver who spent 20 minutes screaming about how Bill Clinton was the devil and “he let a Jew give him a blow job! A JEW!” I’m all, “Don’t knock it 'til you’ve tried it, dude.” (I said this in my head, because you never know who in this city is carrying a firearm. I frequently resent having to wuss out of standing up for myself, especially against commuters with bad subway etiquette, but I’d rather be alive and resentful than, you know, not alive.) The long and short of it is, if I’ve worked late enough to qualify for a car, I just want to crack open the window and sit in silence, watching 2nd Avenue go by. Most drivers respect the headphones: If they see you’re plugged in (or that you’ve opened a book), they know you’re not feeling chatty.

LLDFSVTG was perfectly amenable to taking the Manhattan Bridge. I put on my headphones, pressed “play,” and he immediately started talking. Every time there was a pause in conversation, I’d press “play” again, but he’d spark a new conversation. Here’s what I learned:

* He has six children with four different women.
* His oldest is 32.
* He is 49 years old.
* He was a police officer when he lived in the Grenadines. He had fun because there’s little crime there, which he says is why he has six kids.
* His youngest daughter, with whom he gets along now, was a huge bitch when she was younger, because getting The Menses makes girls bitchy.
* He has no boundaries (I learned this when he asked me when I got MY period, and if I was a bitch).
* There were only six murders in St. Vincent last year.
* He feels less safe in NYC, so he packs.

One of the most valuable things I learned is that most livery drivers own their cars. I knew some did, and I also knew that they are paid by distance (which is calculated by zones) rather than time, so if you want to kill time you have to ask to do so when you book the car and there is a two-hour minimum. (He told me this during an enthusiastic rant about a demanding client he had that day, and then he fessed up to anger issues. He illustrated his story by providing me with an exclusive look at the zone bible. My office is in M5.)

It became clear that no matter how much I insist on taking the most direct route home, I am still under a reluctant driver’s mercy because, being in his own car, he can overrule me. (Taxi drivers do not, by law, enjoy this freedom, which is why I was forced to go against all my personal morals and deep-held convictions and shaft one of a tip when he took me home to Brooklyn via a Bumblefuck, Queens, joy ride that got me home 20 minutes later than it should have. In his words as we were rumbling along the Jackie Robinson Freeway [!!!], “I don’t like that law. I go this way.”) There’s one driver from the Ukraine who hates me because I’ve given him shit for going more than a mile out of the way to take me home (fine! take the Brooklyn Bridge! but at least take Tillary! you’re seriously going down ATLANTIC?!?). I once got in his car and he looked at me, looked at my name on the voucher, and said, “Oh.” So while I appreciate the free ride, there’s something “Law & Order”ish about sitting in someone else’s car as you’re being physically carried in a direction other than where you’d planned.

In other news, today I feel crooked, like I’m walking on a rightward slant.

Happy New Year, Jews!

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

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Monday, September 18, 2006

And a rap by little ol' me, Lamar

Last week, Stacy sent me an e-mail that said this:


Friday night we went to see a band. The lead singer looked exactly like Booger from "Revenge of the Nerds" but was really talented. So after the show we go to this really cool, gritty bar/club called the Liar's Club. Great place with a great name. We were dancing and on comes "It's Getting Hot in Here." We look over and some dude was taking the next line of the song quite literally and was dancing stark naked. Alrighty then. After the song, he puts his clothes back on (including a T-shirt that said "It's good to party but better to party naked") and sat at the bar for a drink. Then in walks the band we'd just seen. Pretty random night.


My favorite part of her e-mail was the use of the word "but" in the correlation between looking like Booger and being talented. People don't look at Booger and think, Wow, what a TALENT; he really expresses his art in an innovative way. (Although he DID play lead guitar, so that's gotta be something.) What's kind of meta about this is that you can say that Curtis Armstrong himself is talented even though he is Booger in every sense. If a guy who looks like Booger can't possibly be talented, what happens when the guy who IS Booger ... is?

This is how Booger Booger is:

One year when I came home from camp, my parents took me and my sisters to Charlie's Crab in Troy, Michigan, sort of a "welcome home, sorry you had to eat all that crap food all summer" present. It's a nice restaurant, not hoity-toity but not waiters-singing-a-newfangled-version-of-Happy-Birthday-at-your-table casual. The bathrooms are located right at the entrance to the restaurant, and just as we were walking in, a guy wearing a grey suit darts past us in a flurry and rushes into the men's room. I stopped for a second, did a double-take, and looked at the hostess. She was wearing a Laura Ashley–style frock with blue and pink flowers and white lace pilgrim collar, sensible navy flats and a Marie Osmond pert bob haircut that didn't move. She looked back at me and smiled. I said, "Excuse me, was that ..." She nodded and giggled a little, though quietly. I said, "That was ... right?" She nodded knowingly, and in her best third-grade reading teacher voice said, "Yes, dear. That's right. That was Booger."

Also, I just realized that an anagram of Lamar is Marla. This explains everything.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

This is a very long post. That is all.


Sarah coming to town last weekend was a jolt of Jolt for me. I’m lucky because, though she lives in England, she’s had jobs that allow her to travel to New York relatively frequently. This makes me think that all of her employers are not only thrilled with her hard work and unparalleled creative vision, but they’re also concerned about my overall wellness. So they send Sarah to New York and I feel better. So, thank you, Sarah’s employers! Splendid!

She came to town for Fashion Week. Josh and I met up with her on Sunday for coffee before she had to dash off for some fashiony to-do. She’s one of those people who leaves a void every time she walks out of a room, so you have to readjust whenever you say goodbye. Josh and I readjusted by going to the movies. We saw "Scoop."


Lisa wrote an exceptionally astute analysis of Woody Allen and his narcissistic filmmaking style on her blog. She said everything in a far more eloquent, thoughtful way than I could, so I’ll just add this about my “Scoop” experience:

While, like Lisa, I’m grateful that Woody Allen is no longer casting himself as a romantic lead, and while it’s slightly reassuring that his demeanor finally fits his body because even when he was young he was old, he’s still intent on directing his actors as himself. So his actors, no matter who they are, come off as overwrought, pervy old men. The thing is, when Allen himself was playing the overwrought, pervy old leading man, he still managed to sell the relationship he was in regardless of how disturbing it was to watch (“Annie Hall” even felt pervy to me back then). Woody Allen needs partners whose neuroses almost equal his, and for his characters’ relationships to be believable, the same has to happen. In “Scoop,” he couldn’t sell the Scarlett Johansson/Hugh Jackman affair: Jackman was so smoooooth and Johansson was mousy and bumbling and babbling and over-earnest and unappealing and annoying and if she were my friend I would have to break up with her. I spent the entire movie wondering why Jackman’s character would be drawn to Johansson’s, and why Johansson insisted on keeping Woody around while she did her bidding. It came off like, once again, Woody Allen wrote a scenario just so he could stick around and stare at an ingenue’s boobs. This time, though, he was doing the audience a favor by not grabbing them.

Also, it drives me mad when actors rely on one single body part to distract from the fact that they can't act. Scarlett Johansson acts with her lips much like how Julia Roberts does (actually, I think Julia Roberts acts with her nose), and that can only take you so far. Scarlett was playing an overwrought, pervy old man so there was a lot of cartoonish gesturing involved (Lisa called her "Ethel Mermanized"), but all the licking and biting of her lips overshadowed any “oy, vey!” hand-wringing.

Other than that, Hugh Jackman could staple a plastic bag to his forehead, paint his ears chartreuse and replace his feet with blenders and he’d still be delicious.


After the movie, Josh and I went to Virgin. Holy mother of $10 sales! Among our spoils (the new "Pretty in Pink" Everything’s Duckie edition! a 3-disc Rick Springfield CD collection! I was in heaven!) was the book I HATE MYSELF AND WANT TO DIE: THE 52 MOST DEPRESSING SONGS YOU’VE EVER HEARD by Tom Reynolds. This book is genius. It’s a comical breakdown of songs so bleating, so chest-beating, clothes-shredding, head-squeezing overdramatic — though Reynolds makes smart distinctions between what constitutes a sad song and what constitutes a depressing song. (The best example he gives of this is “Hurt.” The Nine Inch Nails version? Throw-yourself-off-the-roof self-indulgent depressing. The Johnny Cash version? Poignantly, tearfully sad.) I haven’t read the whole book yet, but what I saw was so hilarious my side still hurts. (Hurt!) It’s worth buying for many reasons, not the least of which is what he says about Celine Dion’s take on Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself.” A terrible, depressing song made even more terrible and depressing by virtue of it being covered by Celine Dion.

The book got me thinking: Record collectors have their own ways of organizing their stuff à la HIGH FIDELITY. I’m lame and categorize mine alphabetically. Josh is a giant nerd and does his by genre and gawd-knows-what-else (it isn’t just straight by genre, though he won’t explain it to me because that would apparently take us to Defcon 1). So I thought:

What if you organized your music by how much each record depressed you?

I started mentally scrolling through my own catalog: Way at the bottom would be “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers because it makes me unreasonably happy, as well as anything even remotely related to Neil Finn, my fantasy husband. And the entire Billy Bragg songbook, which is brilliant because Billy Bragg songs SHOULD be depressing but they aren't and they make me want to join a union and overthrow some fascists. Somewhere in the middle would be “Bad Reputation” by Freedy Johnston, which I always liked and found to be breezy (that's my stab at music reviewing: breezy), though his later albums got so boring that “Bad Reputation” now depresses me a little. And at the very top would have to be something completely earth-shattering, a song that I can hardly bring myself to listen to: “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, a song so depressing that I refuse to even own it. That, and anything by James Taylor. James Taylor records manipulative music specifically to make you cry, and I’m actually pissed at him. I want to throw eggs at his car. I’ve gotten rid of all of my James Taylor records, which I owned around the time I went to camp because we’d sit around and sing “You’ve Got a Friend” and sway a lot and hug and cry, but now — ugh — James Taylor drives me to drink. “Fire and Rain” could have just been really sad, but it stepped into the realm of depressing when it embraced treacle. Incidentally, this is also how I feel about Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals.

I have a hard time discounting what I know about the artist from how I feel about the music, so if someone dies in an exceptionally tragic way or goes down a bad path, then their music automatically becomes depressing even if it used to make me happy. “The Love You Save” was my absolute favorite Jackson Five song, but now I just ruminate on the way Michael Jackson used to be and I want to sit shiva. Ditto “Rock with You.” “Never Tear Us Apart” always made me horny, but then Michael Hutchence died and all I want to do is cry alone and eat ice cream when I hear it. On the flipside, a song like “Space Oddity” is pretty damn depressing, but the David Bowie coolness factor certifies it as a joyous, celebratory ode to drifting off into the depths of space to die; David Bowie has spent years 12 steps ahead of everybody else and he still looks relaxed and happy and gorgeous and stylish. As opposed to Madonna, who’s starting to look like keeping ahead of the masses is wearing on her, which is why “Spanish Eyes” would be near the top of my list. Her liberal use of leotards has gotten seriously depressing.

And then there are the records that would be homeless, because while I adore Ben Folds, “Brick” is the most depressing song ever recorded in the history of all that is holy so I don’t know where I’d put it. (It’s in the Reynolds book. I’m jaded enough to say that I pegged it as a song about abortion from the start, though the analysis in the book treats it as one about a bad breakup — all the while recognizing that that take is completely incorrect.) My Marvin Gaye section would be separated from my entire collection, because the “I’m happy it’s Marvin Gaye!” vs. the “I’m sad Marvin Gaye is dead!” to-and-fro just requires that he have his own shelf; it’s also indicative of the respect that Marvin Gaye deserves, in my eversohumble opinion.

Categorizing your music by severity of depressive effect is an undertaking, sure, and a far-from-uplifting one at that, but I do know this: “Total Eclipse of the Heart” scared me to death when I was a kid because of the creepy video with the eyeless choirboys and implication of bats and ravens. And now I have an uncontrollable urge to sing that song in front of a live audience because I FEEL THE MUSIC, DAMMIT, AND I WANT TO SET IT FREE. The depressing part? I can’t sing for my lunch and thus, my career as the frontperson of a Bonnie Tyler cover band is quelled. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is at the very bottom of my list, because it’s seven minutes of gravel-voiced cheesy bliss.

Also, the reader who sent me the link to the theme song from "Blossom"? Way at the bottom of my list. It had me so giddy that Josh The Media Snob was even laughing and shouting, "Oh my GOD! I remember this!" Mayim Bialik in a floral hat = good times.

So my question to you is this: What is the most depressing song you’ve ever heard? And is it worse than “Cats in the Cradle?”

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Friday, September 08, 2006

I'm happy again.

Example #267 of why my coworkers are fun people:

Almost immediately after our usual morning meeting today, my phone rang. It was David from the art department. (There are two Davids in the art department: One has a ponytail, one has a beard, though the one with the beard shaved last week so never mind.) Ponytail David helped me manhandle taxis during the transit strike last winter; he's a completely hilarious, fascinating, comfortable person to be around. Anyway, I figured he was calling about the redesign on this week's beauty story. You know, business. I picked up my phone:

ME: Hey, you.
DAVID: [in a sexy, husky whisper] I know you told me never to call you at work.

Example #268 of why my coworkers are fun people:

Not long after David made me giggle and blush and invoke all-around panic in the HR department, six-foot-two-and-a-half James sent me these photos of him windmilling and "Singing in the Rain"ing:

Because why wouldn't he be doing these things?

On the way home from work, I sat next to the most gorgeous man on the train. His facial features were angular and striking, beautiful lips, he was tall and toned, and his skin was the color of dark chocolate and it glistened like the waters twinkling along the beaches of the Galapagos. I'm normally not into muscles, but holy crap and oy vey. He was wearing a tank top, and throughout the entire ride, I valiantly fought the urge to lean over and lick his shoulder.

There was one problem: He was wearing black gym shoes. Black gym shoes are one of my biggest turnoffs — and I don't mean soccer shoes or Converse, which are inherently hot. I'm talking chunky Reeboks and the like. Ooooogly. It makes no sense, but growing up, no matter how appealing a guy was, if black gym shoes were any part of the equation, I'd run like hell. It's just one of those things. I just don't get them.

So that helped. I didn't want to lick him anymore. I casually looked elsewhere on the train, especially at the head of the man to my right. He was wearing a brand-new Yankees cap, so brand-new that the size sticker was still on the bill. (He's a 7 3/4, if you're interested.) I wondered if I should say something.

Then I heard some paper crinkling, and I turned back to The Adonis, and he was eating from a pink package of strawberry Welch's Fruit Snacks. I was smitten all over again.

So my question to you is this: Does Unexpected Fun Candy trump Unflattering Footwear in the Rules of Attraction?

(By the way, this is all fine with Josh. This week, Julianne Moore has been doing the talk-show circuit, and he's so enamored of her that he doesn't even sit down when he watches her humor Conan O'Brien. He stands in front of the TV, occasionally interjecting treats like, "God. Nobody laughs like she does," and "Man, is she something." So it's all good.)

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

One day more, I will floss.

It's been a helluva day at work today. It's Labor Day, stories are late, John Mayer is doughy, the Crocodile Hunter has been stabbed through the heart by an animal I once held gingerly in my hands for five minutes, they gave us apple strudel for dinner, it's MADNESS!

My lovely friend Kevin just came by my desk. Kevin, who has been ensconced in his office for so long that for a moment I wondered if he was out of the office on vacation. I've been here for more than 11 hours and haven't seen him once. He looked mightily unhappy.

ME: I haven't seen you all day!
HIM: At the moment, I am the touring company of "Les Miz."
ME: You're Jean Valjean!
HIM: I am currently master of the house AND on my own.

Anybody who can make "Les Miserables" funny and entertaining has to be my friend. Because it sucked.

Also, Lisa just tied her sweater around her head like a bubushka and we broke out into a rousing rendition of "Anatevka." It's Broadway night here at Us Cheekly, and we're leaving the stage lights on for YOU! I must say, I was the true embodiment of Topol.

Lisa and I saw "Half Nelson" yesterday. How was I not aware of the power of the Gosling? He played a crack addict who, when not high, I might consider dating; how did that happen? The unsavory characters in this film were all were somehow likable, sort of like bad good guys who you hoped were more than their sins and it was all a matter of which side of their personalities would win out in the end. Shareeka Epps has these beautiful bow-shaped lips that she pursed so tight because she was such a tough kid, but she so easily burst into smile. You see so many precocious kids onscreen who are portrayed as hardened badasses before their time, like it's almost a quest for them to not show their teeth. Shareeka Epps didn't fight it: She could fend for herself and claim her own dignity but still embrace a moment and let her guard down, because she wasn't about her guard and knew that putting it aside would never be a sign of weakness. I loved the film because I didn't know how I was supposed to feel about what I was seeing, I just knew that I was rooting for everybody. Ryan Gosling is magnetic.

I have a dentist appointment tomorrow. To prepare, I started to floss yesterday. They're totally not going to be able to tell I slacked! Right? Right?!?

Whatever: I'm usually diligent about my teeth, but I have completely failed them this go-round and am not looking forward to the talking-to I'm sure to receive. I must remember: This is a world in which I feel guilty for not flossing on a regular basis, but my dentist has a client who refuses to brush his teeth at all so he goes for cleanings once a month and makes the hygenist do it. I am so not that gross, m'kay?

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