Thursday, November 30, 2006

Britney Spears's vagina

Here's what I don't understand about the latest trend of starlets playing Reveal The Cooter:

Why the vagina? Why are these girls (I shall not call those who make the conscious choice to breathe Paris Hilton's airspace "women"), who demand that the paparazzi follow them from the bed to the toilet and then to the floor where they've passed out, so mired in delight at raising the curtain, if you will, on what is arguably the least sightly part of the otherwise lovely female form? These girls are obsessed with getting their pictures taken, and by turns, looking good, so what's photogenic about their snagglepoots? If you're going to flash some lady bits, just settle on a nice boob. Boobs are so much more pretty than vaginas, and they (god-willing) smell a lot more April fresh. Perhaps they lack the mystery of vaginas, but come on, do you REALLY want to know what's going on inside Britney Spears's?

When it all comes down to it, nobody wants to see Britney Spears's prickly crotch, but I bet everyone would be at least disturbingly interested in getting a good look at her supposedly newly-perked bazooms. Get with the program, Britney! Show us your nipples!

On an unrelated (but somehow related) note, I love the word "abysmal."

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Monday, November 27, 2006

The missing piece

In a fit of industriousness, my sister Lauren and I pulled out a 1,000-piece puzzle on Friday night and set upon it. It was a photo of a lovely woodland scape — various varieties of pink and yellow flowers, brown leaves, birch trees, tall grasses — and we were quite obviously attracted to it because of the challenge of it all.

This Thanksgiving, I learned that I hate challenges.

I don't know if it was the discomfort of having two extremely large dogs laying directly across my body while I was trying to find my border pieces. (And it's not like I didn't attempt to move these dogs — any efforts to redirect Charlie from throwing his considerably large paws across my arms and Henry from lifting his head off my ass and moving his crazy-long arms from under my knees were met with a drooling tongue bath to the face and then a return to the exact same position ... over and over again.) Perhaps it was the fact that as I get older, I get less patient. But I was completely useless in putting this damn thing together.

My youth was spent successfully attacking the most obscenely complicated puzzles. The designer shoelace one? Did it. Scattered crayons? That one too. The iridescent pink one, where the image changed shape and color every time you picked up a piece? Yep. But holy crap, I took one look at the woods and knew I was screwed.

We finished the border (well, all but two pieces, which we have yet to find), I found one inner piece that fit the left-side border, and I sighed. Lauren sighed.

ME: I think I'm done.
LAUREN: Why did you make me do this fucking thing?
ME: You're the dumbass who agreed to do it. It's your fault.
LAUREN: I hate it. I'm in hell.
ME: How did I used to do these things when I was a kid?
LAUREN: [pause] Are we done?
ME: [sigh] Yes. Get rid of it.
LAUREN: [dumping it back into the box] I'm going to bed.

I could call it a day on this little project, but see, I have a serious OCD-heavy completion disorder, e.g. if I hate a book, I'll finish it anyway (except THE CELESTINE PROPHESY and SLAB RAT, cuz suck), and I can't get out of a car until a song is over and it has to be a song I like so it takes forever to get out of said car because nothing I like is ever on the radio). So now I'm determined to finish the puzzle next time I go home. Lauren and I have a pretty decent track record for picking up where we left off: We once sat down to watch "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and finished it ... a year and a half later.

Josh stayed back in Brooklyn for the holiday. Last Saturday, around the time I had to come to the office because HAVE YOU HEARD TOM AND KATIE GOT MARRIED AND XENU GAVE THE SPEECH AND THE CAKE WAS MADE OF THETAN SOULS AND OHMYGAWD IT WAS THE MOST ROMANTIC EVER!!!!!, Gwendolyn lost her eyesight. So I came home from work at 7:30 Sunday morning, we took her to the vet, and found that both of her retinas detached and she's irreversibly blind. It's the saddest thing.

What's incredible is how quickly she's adapted. She found her food and litter box almost immediately. Within two days, she managed the stairs without help, she climbed onto our (very high off the ground) bed, and she's now scaling the arms of the couch. She's still figuring things out — she got in a rough cat vs. curtain fight the other day while she was trying to feel herself around a window (she won) — and I'm certainly projecting, wondering all the time how she must feel, but she's an incredible animal.

I can't finish a 1,000-piece puzzle though I have all my faculties, but my blind cat can tiptoe around the rim of a laundry basket to climb onto a pile of towels on a shelf. She's so much cooler than I am.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Homeland insecurity

"Listen to the message and tell me what you think," Josh said.

I pressed Play.

"Hello. This is a message for Josh Banks. This a8!w3rn.zx9@#0suj Homeland Security a0dv-=23rioscikj residence cp9v8q[09ejlckv investigation advj3q'flkz'c;vlkapdfg9aksdf November 15, 2006."


Answer me this, please: When you get a static-riddled message on your answering machine and the only clear, audible words are "Homeland Security," "investigation" and "residence," do you panic? Because I panicked.

We have several theories:

1. It was a prank, which goes to show you how dipshitted a person would have to be to pose as a Homeland Security agent.
2. It is a random check. Josh *69ed the call and it came from Nassau County on Long Island. (Two thoughts on this, however: Josh doesn't think you should be able to *69 Homeland Security. But my friend James had an uncle who worked for Homeland Security, and his office was in Nassau County. James thinks you can *69 absolutely anybody.)
3. Somebody in our building is being investigated.

These could be plausible, or the Feds are coming after us because our garden has become such an eyesore that it's being declared a Federal Disaster Area. But if that were the case, wouldn't we be getting calls from FEMA, then?

So I ask you: Why do you think the Department of Homeland Security might be investigating my residence? This could be a very fun — and deeply troubling — exercise.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mmm, Rumplestiltskin.

My iPod crapped out right in the middle of "Baby Got Back."

SO disappointing.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Nothing's gonna ever keep you down!

"Oh, my word," Stephanie said.

She was on her cell phone, calling from a drugstore. She was standing in front of the magazine rack.

"Oh, dear. See, in between Gourmet and Boating is Custom Combat Handguns."
"Hm. That sounds like an appropriate place to put it."
"Yes. On the cover of Custom Combat Handguns number 46, we have the Ed Brown Kobra Carry."
"The cobra what?"
"Kobra. With a K. According to the cover, it's new and it's maximized!"
"I see."
"Kobra Carry. Is that like Cobra Kai?"

And then I pictured Billy Zabka as Johnny Lawrence cleaning out his rifle before karate practice at the dojo ("Sweep the leg — you got a problem with that?"), and it made my day.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Just remove my voice box and put me out of my misery, already.

John Taylor was in the office yesterday. In the past, I have been prepared for such visits, so I lay out my clothes neatly the night before, I do something to my hair, I wear actual makeup, I explore quick teeth-whitening regimens, I make a list of three clever things to say in the event I get to speak to him. It's not that I think he's going to look at me and say, "There she is! My PRINCESS!" and sweep me off to Fiji or anything; it's just that, in the same way you don't want to look like crap when you run into the ex who really broke your heart, you don't want to look like a complete dirtbag the day you meet the guy whose picture was Scotch-taped to your bedroom ceiling for the duration of your entire youth. Luckily, I cut out carbs on Sunday so I felt less bloated.

He was here with his wife, Gela, who created the Juicy Couture clothing line, and her son. (Yes, she created her son, but I meant to say that her son accompanied them. Oh, whatever.) I stood back and gawked for a while — I've met him a couple times in the past two years so I didn't feel a need to stalk him completely — but then I was encouraged to, basically, chase after him. I met the family (his wife is AWESOME and I feel completely comfortable that he takes her to Fiji instead of me) and I managed to say some of the dumbest things I've ever said to anybody in my entire life. For example:

ME: So, I saw you guys in Chicago last week.
HIM: Oh, you did? What were you doing in Chicago?
ME: Um, you were playing in Chicago last week ...
HIM: (realizing I flew halfway across the country just to see him play) Ohhhhh.
ME: Yeah. I'm one of those.


HIM: So did you see us during the tour last year?
ME: Of course I did.
HIM: What did you think of the Chicago show in comparison to those shows?
ME: Well, you're always great.
HIM: (laughing) You have no critical barometer, do you?
ME: No. No, I don't.

To be honest, the Chicago show was great but not as exhilarating as the shows last year, so it's not like I was going to say that. (Part of it was that I found the crowd to be lame.) I was just tongue-tied and 12 all over again. But, as always, he was lovely and gracious and funny and gorgeous. I, however, achieved a level of dorkdom I hadn't known since I passed Matt Berke a note asking him to be my boyfriend after General Swim at camp in sixth grade. I went home and ate a bowl of pasta.

In other news, I read a great quote by Al Gore today: "Common sense is not as common as it should be." True that.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Suck it, Rachael Ray.

We begin the phestival of photos with the Happy Cat.

I’ve been finding myself in Union Square a crazy-lot lately. Since moving to New York, I’ve fallen into this unintentional trend of hanging out in one particular neighborhood for months at a time. (From 1998-2000, it was Murray Hill and the East Village. From 2000-2003, it was Midtown — completely unintentional. Right now, it’s Union Square.) Sometimes it’s dictated by where I work, even though I’ve never wanted to socialize in the neighborhood of any of my places of employment (it’s too much like having a desk in your bedroom). I’ve never worked in or around the Union Square area, so this is so far, so good.

A few weeks ago, I came upon this in Union Square:

The organizers leave paints and a donation box next to it, and anyone who stumbles by it is free to pick up a brush and leave their mark. The only thing I know how to draw is knees on stick figures (take that, Picasso), so I shot some pictures instead.

My coworker Josh, who is a freelance writer, was working on an article about kosher snacks. He brought a very special array to the office for a late-afternoon taste test.

Most of the offerings have non-kosher equivalents: Lolly Fizz = Pop Rocks; Cheese Curls = puffy Cheetos; Shoobi Doobi = Teddy Grahams; Fluffy Stuff = cotton candy; Bloomeos = Hydrox (these were far too chintzy to be considered Oreo offshoots); Joray Fruit Roll = Fruit Roll-Ups. I must say, Fluffy Stuff was my personal favorite, despite its striking resemblance right out of the package to a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

Oh: If anyone can enlighten me as to what Hot Fries are supposed to be, I sure would appreciate it.

Wearing gummy fangs at Lisa’s Action Dance Dinner Party. Awww, yeahhhh, you want me now.

I finally post a picture of myself on this blog and that’s the one I choose? Oy.

One of the first things I did in Chicago was search for a new hat/gloves/scarf set. If I’d bought this particular set in its entirety, as modeled by my sister Jennifer in Urban Outfitters,

I would look like a penis. A penis wearing a burqa.

So Thursday night, Jen, Stacy and I headed to the Duran Duran show. (That is, after Jen and I spent a half hour watching people come and go in her lobby on channel 18 of her cable system; I wish she'd told me residents could watch the lobby BEFORE I'd made all those lewd gestures to the camera because — I'll say it again — I am 12. Also? FASCINATING.) It was the inaugural performance at the Sears Centre, a new arena located in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. We made great time despite the weather — it’s about 40 minutes outside Chicago — but got stuck for another hour in gridlock right outside the area. No matter, we thought, as we finally made our way into the parking lot. But see, here’s the thing: The lot was full, and there was at least another mile of cars behind us. THEY DIDN’T CREATE ENOUGH PARKING AT A SPORTING/CONCERT VENUE. So the brain donors at the Sears Centre had hundreds of cars weaving through the already-full lot just to direct all of us to the office park about three-quarters of a mile across a field.

See those teeny lights?

Yeah, we parked BEHIND that building. We had to run through the pouring rain to make it to the show. Thanks to all that is holy-moly, all we missed was 30 seconds of “Hungry Like the Wolf,” which is the Simon Le Bon equivalent of about 63 “do-do-do’s.” Seriously, if they’d opened with “Friends of Mine” and I missed the intro, I would have gone berserk.

As always, they were fabulous.

Andy Taylor left the band a few days before the concert, so dreams of yet again seeing the original five were quashed. In the statement released by the remaining members, words like “unworkable gulf” were used to explain Andy’s departure. I thought it unfortunate and untimely that a rift should happen during the Phase 2: We’re Almost 50 incarnation of the band — these things don’t usually happen on the second go-round, after everyone has gone through their crap. Anyway, in good form, I suppose in homage to Andy Taylor’s unworkableness, I went through the entire concert with my zipper down. Snazzy.

The parking folks got their acts together enough by the end of the show and put us on a Duran Duran Party Bus to shuttle us back to our car.

The next day, I went to work with Jen.

She’s a social worker, and every Friday, they have art class for kids. It’s more like art therapy, where they make papier-mâché people to express what they’re feeling that day and they create towns to show what they’d like to see in their own community. (Many of the larger projects in the area are being torn down and row houses are going up in their place, so they create additions to their neighborhood.)

This is a zoo:

They also make animals and paint them all funky.

I was humbled. I made a papier-mâché “me” in fourth grade

and now I can’t even fathom creating something like that without destroying it. I was very intimidated by the idea of helping these kids with their art, so I just stood back and watched them while they asked me questions about how tall I am. They were so cool.

Stacy and I had brunch on Saturday at this health food restaurant run by Krishna-like followers of a guru named Sri Chinmoy. It was a freakishly happy place

with lots of baby blue and light yellow paint and big, big windows, and the guru’s framed artwork on the walls. I found this in the bathroom:

It’s located a few blocks away from these condos, which used to be a pencil factory (note the illustrations on the water tower).

Fall in Chicago. This is absolutely my favorite time of year.

Stacy and I had truffles and tea at a chocolate shop. Really, it was the best idea ever. Peanut butter and jelly truffles? Are you kidding me?

The visit ended with Mark showing me the wonders of the micro function on my camera. What chaos hath he wrought?

Fry Orgy!

This is, basically, ketchup and honey mustard. The tavern bartender came over to our table, saw this shot, and said, “Look out, Diane Arbus.” Snark noted.

The only emotional response I’m in touch with from taking this photo is that I feel, deeply and profoundly, that I should get my eyebrows done.

Please bear in mind that some of this is shadow. I am not Matt Dillon, circa 1983.

Thursday was Alone Time With Mememememe Day, so I headed back to Union Square and got a ticket to see “Babel.” I had some time to kill, and I stumbled across a large crowd between the park and Union Square West. Turns out, Chris Noth and Julianne Nicholson were filming a scene for “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” in which Logan and Wheeler corner a guy dressed as an orthodox Jew, demand he take off his hat, pin him against a van (dirty!) and then search the inside of the vehicle.

Being a complete L&O freak, I was theorizing about the plot with another fan, and we decided that the guy was masquerading as an orthodox Jew to cover his numerous nefarious misdeeds. The makeup job on his beard was just horrendous, and therefore could not have been an intentional makeup job from an actual professional; the character had to have done it himself and it could not look naturally grown. Seriously, it looked like a pedophile’s Halloween costume.

Anyway, here’s Chris Noth’s ass.

“Babel” was exhausting and moving, but with four tragic stories, a bit forced. (I thought the Japan storyline could have been its own movie.) Even so, when the house lights went back up, this cheesy Rachael Ray–looking chick turned and looked at me and yammered, “Ohmygawd wasthatyou? Wereyousobbing? Hahahahahahahahahaha!” I said that yes, I’d been crying, and she and her friend started laughing. Shitty Rachael Ray was all, “Wecriedtoo! Ohmygawd, you totally know a movie is goodwheneverybodyissobbing! Hahahahahahahahaha!” I was so annoyed that I went to DSW and bought shoes.

Friday, out and about in Brooklyn:

This is a neighborhood bar called Freddy’s.

If developer Bruce Ratner has his way with the New Jersey Nets, Freddy’s will be razed to make way for a basketball arena that will also sit on top of this fantastic train yard:

And then there goes the Brooklyn skyline.

Sunday was my favorite day of the year, the NYC marathon. I love what the marathon does to the city, and it’s the most sure sign that I’ll work out at least one day a year because I can’t justify sitting on my lazy ass when there are people who run the marathon who don’t have feet.

And I'm not kidding about that. For instance, this man is amazing:

Every year, he props himself onto a skateboard (his legs are missing below the thigh) and scoots himself along the marathon route using boxing gloves. And I think that's one of the reasons why I love the marathon: You can talk about the triumph of the human spirit, or that the people who run it are crazy, but no matter what, I get the opportunity to see 37,000 people do something I could never do no matter what my physical state might be, and I get to cheer them on. It's exhilarating.

The elite men and women are dazzling to watch — they're all legs and zero body fat. And while I don't recall actually seeing Lance Armstrong, my camera apparently did. In any case, it was fabulous. Good costumes, lots of smiling crazy running people.

I don't know if these two spectators intentionally coordinated their scarves, but they looked so great standing next to each other.

Most runners print their names on their shirts so you can cheer for them. (This is particularly challenging in an international race, especially with the Scandinavian runners whose names are never pronounced the way they're spelled. Thank god for Boaz from South America is all I'm saying. I can pronounce Boaz.) Anyway, this particular runner wrote "Older, Wiser, Sexier" on his.

It was the perfect fall day. After Fourth Avenue pretty much cleared of runners, I headed to Prospect Park, where the leaves were peaking.

I walked home past the P.S. 321 flea market. On my way over there, I noticed from a distance this really old-looking, gnarled tree:

But when I got closer, I saw the branches: they were hands signing. The brownstone must have been some kind of sign-language school.


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