Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Trial And Error of My Masterplan

Some time ago, I used to get up Sunday mornings and stare at the TV until my vision came into focus after Saturday nights at the bar. If I were very, very lucky, I found Simon Schama's History of Britain while I was playing "How Many Historians Am I Holding Up?" I like history but I'm no pushover. The History Channel never impressed me. Simon Schama, art professor and possessor of imperfect teeth, rocked my world with his stunning and muscular accounts of events I'd read about a thousand times. Holy crap, I loved his ability to shock me. I mean, it's history. We know how it turned out. (Side note: movie about a big boat? Yeah? The boat sinks. Yes, I'm that kind of bitch.)

About a year ago, Schama came out with another series on BBC2: The Power of Art. On Sunday, Pete and I watched the last two episodes, which were FANTASTIC. Despite the torrential rush of television news, it can seem as if history has already happened and the day's events are just drops in a great, meaningless bucket. I'm not saying that impression is good or apt, I'm saying it's possible to feel that way, and it can be especially possible to believe that all the great art that will ever be already exists. It's not? When was the last time you went to a gallery show of contemporary artists? (Mr. Rix: hush, you!) When was the last time you saw art at all?
"Art is the enemy of the routine, the mechanical and the humdrum. It stops us in our tracks with a high voltage jolt of disturbance; it reminds us of what humanity can do beyond the daily grind. It takes us places we had never dreamed of going; it makes us look again at what we had taken for granted."
- Simon Schama

It is possible to reduce the history of art into glossy dorm room prints chosen for pretty colors and matching decor, but such reductions are truly vulgar, as Schama points out. Case in point is Jacques-Louis David's Death of Marat. From the program guide: Painting became an important means of communication for David since his face was slashed during a sword fight and his speech became impeded by a benign tumour that developed from the wound, leading him to stammer. He was interested in painting in a new classical style that departed from the frivolity of the Rococo period and reflected the moral and austere climate before the French Revolution. David became closely aligned with the republican government and his work was increasingly used as propaganda with the Death of Marat proving his most controversial work. That sounds neutral. David was controversial. Actually, that painting was so loaded a statement his family wasn't allowed to bring his body back into France after David's death. Let Schama tell it. As stories go, it's a doozy.

Joseph Turner's Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On) (1840) is just a painting, you might say.

You might also say there's nothing on TV.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Young To Walk Him Around

Courtesy of the intrepid Suzette, we find that topaz and drusy are not just Topaz and Drusy, glamorkittens, they're also jewelry.

Unfortunately, it's a little hideous.

Yes, I remember when pothead baubles appealed to me. Well, sort of. That hazy recollection is part and parcel of a distant, THC-soaked epoch in which, like the Pleistocene, feathers rocked. I mean, it's not as if we're all busy rewriting our gloriously disastrous pasts, right? So that still-fragrant roachclip collection you're concealing from your biographers - dude, bust it out. Meanwhile, at the eighties party for my teenaged sister, I happened to be wearing the ginchiest blue earring with a pink flamingo logo, and had this conversation several times.

Cousin It Girl: That is THE cutest thing! Where's the other one?
Tata: There's only one. We were all about asymmetry.
Cousin It Girl: Love that pink flamingo! What's that blue pillowy thing?
Tata: It's a condom.
Cousin It Girl: A condom? Why would you have a condom?
Tata: Sex was invented in 1994 so before that we had condoms for emergency water balloon fights.
Cousin It Girl: That is ...quite... an accessory.
Tata: Sure, sweetie, and so much more hygienic than keeping it in your wallet.
Cousin It Girl: That's older than my wallet.
Tata: Sweetie, you shouldn't use condoms older than your wallet.
Auntie InExcelsisDeo: Or your children.

Recently, I have taken terrible pictures of the kitten princesses, mostly because they move with the speed of light but also because when they're doing something adorable this adorable thing takes place on my lap. Yesterday, a kitty jumped into my lap and insisted on a vigorous scritching. This is not unusual but about a minute later I realized the pushy pussycat on my lap was not Drusy but Topaz. I can't tell you how startled I was as Topaz, who detests leaving the ground except to fly through the air, preferably to break something, leapt about demanding a thorough ear scratching, meaty treats and car keys. Naturally, I googled.

I found a bunch of "treasures" someone will no doubt discover in Gramma's jewelry stash and use as proof that she should no longer wield credit cards. Then: other jewelry designers combine topaz and drusy in more attractive ensembles. I don't hate this bracelet, though I think I'm a few mumus away from my Mrs. Roper Years. On the other hand: I should talk. Pink flamingos. Sheesh.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lay Me Down In Sheets Of Linen

I've been avoiding this for a week.

Last Sunday, Pete and I drove out to Daria's house, where we dragged out to the car three heavy boxes Daria packed for me. Daria, Dara and Darla spent a week dismantling a big part of Dad's kitchen, and Daria brought these back from Virginia. I opened one and lost my nerve, which meant I left the other two in the car until just now.

Well, isn't this cozy?

The cake pans make me sigh. I'm not much of a baker, but I'd like to be more versatile. You're sworn to secrecy, you know. What, you don't remember promising you'd never tell anyone I can cook? You did, and you're going to keep that promise, even if it means resorting to hyperbole. Practice! Sweet Jesus, last time I ate at her place I spent a week in ICU. Or: Christ, put that down! You don't know where it's been! You can do it. Moving on, then.

The chef's coat was Dad's and a surprise from Daria. Dad had piles of them. Many of his favorites were denim. I suppose we could donate them to a cooking school if they have needy students shaped like a stretchy Bonaparte, but what are the odds?

This week was important to the family. On Monday, Darla's parents returned to Virginia from Canada. On Wednesday, Dara turned 16. Thursday was the 16th anniversary of our grandmother Edith's death, because it's always a one-for-one exhange with us. And today, we had an eighties-theme birthday party at Auntie InExcelsisDeo's house. As Mr. Blogenfreude says, "Blackmail-grade photos must follow." Oh, they sure will.

Tonight, I've opened the boxes. Blue eyeshadow is just another test of courage.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Music Blogging: Jazz Edition

Todd emails from Los Angeles, scene of many a celebrity hijink. Yes, that is the seldom-seen singular form I just made up.
It must bore him JUST being a creative genius and a gazillionaire. "Hmmmmmmmmm, what should I do today? I know, I'll count my money and then I'll get my doctorate in something."

The he to which we refer is Brian May, late of Queen and current defender of a legitimate thesis. Dig:
Guitarist and songwriter Brian May is completing his doctorate in astrophysics, more than 30 years after he dropped it to form the rock group Queen.

May was due to finish carrying out astronomical observations at an observatory on the island of La Palma, in Spain's Canary Islands, today, the observatory said.

May said he planned to submit his thesis, Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud, to supervisors at Imperial College London within the next two weeks.


May, 60, told the BBC that he had always wanted to complete his degree.

"It was unfinished business," May said. "I didn't want an honorary PhD I wanted the real thing that I worked for."

Then he'll get back to counting his money and becoming Dalai Lama.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Something We Could Die About

This morning, a friend who was undoubtedly the most Nordic bar mitzvah boy since - since - ever, pointed me to the blog of another young Jewish man advocating for the war. I'm not linking to him, forget it. Look, everyone's entitled to his youthful indiscretions. Everyone's entitled to make mistakes in judgment. I make 'em all the time, but I am a little old Jewish lady. One of these days, I'll eat dinner at 4 and tuck butter pats into my oversize purse for a needy later that never really comes. And that fucking kid is an embarrassment to my adopted people.

If you are a young man or woman who supports the war: enlist. Period.

If you are a young Jewish man or woman who supports the war: good for you. Enlist and shut up. If you agitate for endless war you think you're too good to fight you're reinforcing stereotypes about Jews. Zip it, idiot. Let's hope you grow out of this foolishness.

Oh Lieberman, Novak, Goldberg, Goldstein, Perle, Wolfowitz, Kagan, Kagan, Kagan and the absolute ghoulish worst Kristol... God damn it, stop what you doing.

Recent political discussion has included a lot of shoulder shrugging and blame shifting, the most notable of which has been the refrain "No one could have known..." applied to an appalling variety of disasters. The fact is a great many people did know, told you and you didn't listen. Moreover, you're not listening now, after you've been proven wrong over and over. I don't know what could be in it for you to keep sputtering that more time, more money and more death will ultimately prove you right, because at this point, being proven right about any one thing you say will not be enough to counterbalance the damage you've done.

Finally, intention is nifty but outcomes are what count. It does not matter what you intended to do. What matters is what you've done.

Whose suffering did you mitigate? Whose life did you save?

What have you done?

Update: I wrote our young chickenhawk (correction: Yellow Elephant) that it wasn't too late for him to enlist. He sent back an email with the subject Don't waste your time, my time or our country's time, including only a link to his FAQ titled Am I A Chickenhawk? My response: As a little old lady, I think it's your duty to defend me. He's blocked me from his site, so I can't mentor this promising young man.
Non-enlisting chickenhawk (Yellow Elephant)

This is Josh Levy. He wants a bigger military he doesn't want to join, but you or your children should. Stop by and encourage him to consider an alternate career path.

Update-update: Mr. Blogenfreude points out that our boy Josh is not a chickenhawk; he's a Yellow Elephant. I'd do the fancy strike-through text but I can't. Born before the cut off date and all. As you were!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Was Defeated, You Won the War

I'm sitting in the aromatic family store again on a beautiful, sunlit afternoon as Putumayo's Sahara Lounge plays. Coffee and taboule sit on the counter. Pedestrians, languid in the sunshine, window shop contentedly. Sometimes, I lie on the floor and consider how I can photograph a single object or group of objects for the store's website. I think about it and think about it, then I do it, then my sun-drunk mediocrity soaks into the fabric of the web.

Two weeks ago, I popped into the family store and my sisters' mother went full-metal hinty.

Joan: You used the bathroom before you came here?
Tata: For years. What?
Joan: You might not want to use ours. Did you know gas builds up in toilets? I didn't know that. The toilet blew up yesterday. We found the lid on the floor. Imagine if one of the kids had been in there. Dan spent half the night with a wet vac.
Tata: Wait. Are you saying that the toilet blew up, sending the tank lid flying through the air and the pipes spewed raw sewage?
Joan: You should have smelled the basement.
Tata: And when did this happen?
Joan: Last night!
Tata: Just as soon as I quit puking I'm going to laugh all day.

Thus, spending the day at the store is a mixed blessing as we regard normally dependable indoor plumbing with suspicion. This is especially serious as I have the hair-trigger gag reflex, meaning that Daria calls me every time she changes a diaper because hearing me try not to hork is music to her ears. Yesterday, Mary came clean, so to speak.

Mary: Remember on Saturday, when you came running into the store?
Tata: You were shouting, "DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT!" and my ears were burning, yup.
Mary: The toilet overflowed and I called my friend Mia. You saw her there.
Tata: She was there. Why did you call her?
Mary: To bring me the Target-red plunger. It had just happened. I was gonna tell you but I asked if you were working Sunday, remember?
Tata: I do remember! I was on my way to a dinner party and not working Sunday.
Mary: Yeah, if you'd been scheduled the next day, I thought I'd tell you why you might need two plungers. So I'm telling you now.
Tata: Are you saying I might need two plungers to use the bathroom? And why do I keep asking people what they're saying?
Mary: Fear not, for I will translate.
Tata: Omigod, if you tell me the Charmin's a plan I am going to yak on your shoes.

Supposedly, everything is working. Supposedly - but I doubt the bathroom! I fear it! A customer tells me I should open the Yellow Pages and find myself a bathroom therapist. I tell him they're all bathroom therapists. He tells me I have a fear of bathrooms. I tell him no, just the one - just this bathroom. He laughs nervously and recommends an all-cheese diet.

Just now, the bathroom has forgotten about me. I have gained the element of surprise.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Pieces Of Me You've Never Seen

Yesterday, in a crowded room and the course of conversation, someone casually said, "Morgan's getting married." Nobody saw this, I know, not even Siobhan, as I held perfectly still and felt the universe skip a beat. Talk continued and the subject changed. This, I learned in childhood: when in doubt, freeze. No one has to see how you really feel, especially if you're not sure.

When he left in September 1996, he took Me with him and I haven't seen Me since. I loved him more than breath, though he didn't love me. Still: eleven years. I genuinely want him to be happy, so this shouldn't matter, but it burns like battery acid. I didn't flinch. No one has to know.


The Rain By Complaining

My sisters have gone on their annual breathless retreat to Lake Champlain, leaving my friend Mary and me with the keys to our financial kingdom. If you recall, last week, I forgot I had those keys and marched to the library, noticed I was on vacation and therefore violating the laws of Vacation Physics by being at work, and marched home. This morning, I opened the store at 11. Ten minutes later, Daria called.

Daria: Did you walk to the right job? I had to know.
Tata: If I shut off the burglar alarm and sold silk scarves at the library, I believe someone might speak to me sharply. Or maybe I'd be gift-wrapping at Reference.
Daria: I gotta go. My children are in an uproar.
Tata: I could fix that too with double-sided tape.

See, I went to the DMV again today. Last year, I went four times, I think, and each time I heard a different story about what documents I needed to change my name. I'd get the new document, and again: nada. Nothing changes. This time, there's a little pressure. My car's up for inspection. My insurance card is correct. My registration has the old address, because no way, no how, can I even update my address if my name is still in limbo. I know how Prince felt when his name belonged to someone else and he switched to unpronounceable symbols; I know a few symbols I'd like to force on fucking Motor Vehicle Services. Notice that it got to change its name.

The agency is no longer in the business, no matter how inept it used to be, of licensing New Jersey drivers. I say this carefully, and I mean this: Motor Vehicle Services' main function is steal what's left of your will to live and make you move someplace less hostile, like Pennsylvania, where neighbors will merely shoot you. Mary, for instance, has lived within a five-mile radius her whole life, got married once eleven years ago and has one child. Seems pretty simple to prove who she is to MVS, right? Last year, she went with three different sets of documents before MVS would renew her driver license, and - eleven years and two license cycles later - they needed to see a better copy of her marriage certificate. Jesus Christ, what happens if your house burns down with all your documents in it? "Fuck you, New Jersey driver, you're a little too flammable to tour the Turnpike"?

So now, I have to file papers to change my name legally. No, really.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging: Loonies On the Path Edition

Last night, I presented myself for indentured servitude at the family store. My sisters buzzed about madly, my stepfather Tom erected tents, my co-workers set up games and prizes. Someone arranged cheese and champagne grapes for captive adults to nibble and toddlers to yak up onto the carpet. We had a big, public Harry Potter party. I wore a cape!

Anya: You don't know anything about Harry Potter, do you?
Tata: Nope!
Anya: You're going to be Madame Hooch. She teaches the kids to fly.

I turned to display a slightly prim heroic profile.

Tata: I am Hooch!

The capes reeked like fish food flakes. Corinne and I surveyed the store's many fragrance options and decided on a lychee-lime potion. I sprayed her down like a buggy corn crop, then turned around so she could do the same to me. Later, I hosed Anya down with the same stuff because covering a fishy scent with sugar or flowers would be a mistake, but add something citrus and you may smell like an expensive entree. So I surmised.

During the course of the evening, I discussed with an eleven year old boy the downsides to putting lacquered rocks into his hydrangea bush; with my five year old nephew, the utterly adorable Dark Lord: whether or not blue is a flavor. Jim from the Smithereens was in a chatty mood. By the time I got home, I was an exhausted, squawking mess, too tired to photograph kittens. This morning, Drusy did what Drusy does every morning: try to catch the news crawl. So far: this goal eludes her, but I fear for NBC News when it does not.

Yes, that is a pile of pocket knives and a plaster Goddess of Willendorf.

Topaz plays with food. Every morning, after the kittens suck all gravy out of chunky victuals, we're left with moist cubes of mystery meat that dry and turn into little rocks I will enjoy stepping on after Topaz kicks them all over the apartment. You cannot see in this picture of the adorable, scheming pussycat the meaty debris field behind her. Her facial expression here is typical: Topaz is working out what tasty thing I can deliver to her next and how she will play with it all day while I'm at work. And this is good because when Topaz is bored I spend a lot of time on the business end of a dustpan and broom.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Say It In Russian

Since I am a genius, I turned myself in immediately. I meant to tell you later won't cut it.

Tata: Hey, guess what!
Daria: Squazibna?
Tata It is early, you're right!
Daria: Cantabuloos.
Tata: So, this morning, I got up and walked to work. Isn't that great?
Daria: Phingapingi.
Tata: My co-worker Hans said in a special Hans voice, "It seems we are aloooooone." So I walked over to the calendar and discovered I was on vacation. I am a genius!
Daria: Get the fuck out!
Tata: That's exactly what I did: turn around and walk home. I'm on College Avenue now. Hey! There's a very old lady walking by Scott Hall in a housecoat and Keds.
Daria: Is she carrying a squid? Because that might prove something.
Tata: I thought she might be a ghost but film students just waved at her. You know, if I were smart, I'd hotfoot it to Motor Vehicles. The car needs inspecting.
Daria: What do you need to go to the office for?
Tata: My license and registration don't match since the divorce and I probably can't prove I'm me to their satisfaction. I might hafta change my name legally to get the car inspected.
Daria: You might...what?
Tata: Listen, I gotta go. I'm walking with an open Ringling Brothers sippy cup of coffee and what's left of my dignity is smoldering.

When I got home, Pete was shimmying into a Jersey Shore Welding Festival t-shirt but, surprised, shoved two hands into one sleeve.

Tata: Hey, guess what!
Pete: Shark Week arrived early? Arrrrrrrrrrr.
Pete: Emeril's recipes don't work?
Tata: Remember when I got up and complained and took a shower and complained and got dressed and complained and walked to work?
Pete: Yeah?
Tata: I complained then too! Then I discovered I'd taken a vacation day to go work at the family store. Now I'm all happy!
Pete: Is it my turn to complain?
Tata: Well...sure.
Pete: Your kittens stole my camo pants.
Tata: Did they frisk ya, too?

Wednesday, my co-workers were very anxious to hear what drew me to our office on a day off, since my actual appearance and disappearance, apparition-like, will be hilarious until I do the next unexpected thing. Also: thanks to the magic of YouTube, I explained log rolling to Mathilde because lumberjack festivals haven't hit it big in Rwanda. So I was a font of experiential wisdom and instructional video. Even so, today is my favorite day this week. Yesterday, I left a message for the Fabulous Ex-Husband(tm).

Tata: Hello, it is I, your ex-wife, though I hope you've stopped stalling and set a date for that wedding. I'd like to be someone's first wife, and we all know how important my happiness is! Step it up, bub! Anyway, the reason I called is Motor Vehicles has certain standards - stop laughing! - and I need to borrow either our marriage license or certificate or whatever you've got. I don't even have a copy of the divorce decree, so unless you'd like to ride shotgun to your local office and swear publicly, "Jesus Christ, wasn't that black hole of suffering and crushing despair enough for one man? Yes, we were married," could you please lend me some documents? Call me back!

This morning, as my boss hinted I should go to Carvel, pick out an ice cream cake and get something written on it - mwah hah hah! - while my co-worker drives getaway, the Fabulous Ex-Husband(tm) also hinted about an envelope I might have received. They've set a date for the wedding where, he said, the place will be crawling with people called Mrs. MarriedName. I'm thrilled! He also agreed to put into the mail a marriage license or certificate or something because he had it handy, since he recently had to prove he wasn't a bigamist. I might get my way at Motor Vehicles yet.

And hey - ice cream!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

It's Only A Paper Moon

I love this.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

This Song Is Not About Hats

If you're here to read my pithy love notes, I'm sorry. My hands are so full I can barely write grocery lists. Please forgive me immediately. No? Okay, how about after lunch? Honest, I'm almost this busy.

And now a local band-based joke: If I put that girl on my head, she too would be a hat.

Yes, we're all glad that joke's behind us now. I'll be back maybe later today.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

You Get the Pesos, That Seems Fair

A few weeks ago, the woman who gardens for my complex left plants in pots next to the front step. I stared. To my right, a jade plant, which is nothing special, I suppose; to my left: basil, rosemary, oregano, parsley. I couldn't believe it. She garnished my building.

Terminology is everything.

A million years ago, when Bert Convey roamed the earth, an unnamed university had a conference in New Brunswick, and I emceed the performance night. What? Your serious academic conference doesn't have a show? Your subject specialty needs more fabulous degree seekers, who know people like me. On my way to this show, I stopped at my local, where one of the bartenders followed me into the kitchen and, while I bent over the cruddy meat slicer, zipped me into the loudest, tightest red sequined dress you have ever seen in your life. My hairstyle was architecturally unsound. My lipstick set off fire alarms all the way down George Street. I was freaking ready.

Maybe an hour or two later, the show was rocking. My patter was light and insinuating. I'd sung a few bars between performers. It was going well. The room was practically moist with audience approval. The night was a tremendous hit and ended on a fine note. The conference was a success. I didn't give it a second thought until a week later. A friend who'd organized the evening called to say people were very upset with me.

Tata: Which people? What for?
Friend: Ron was offended by remarks you made.
Tata: Listen, over the course of two hours, I said a lot of things. Can you be more specific?
Friend: He said you were very offensive to lesbians with hair issues.
Tata: (Long pause.) Ron is an idiot. If he'd actually listened to what I said he'd be writing me a damn fan letter. You were there. Did I say anything less than adoring?
Friend: You didn't. I don't know what he's talking about.
Tata: I do. Tell him I'm emceeing a show in two weeks. If he wants a public apology, he knows where to find me.

Two weeks later, I looked into the audience and found Ron standing against a back wall with his arms folded. This time, I was dressed in a wicked backless black number and combat boots, which was a hot combo. Between acts, when I knew Ron couldn't miss my meaning, I repeated what I'd said the first time. I'll paraphrase.

Tata: You're a great-looking audience. Did you know that?
Audience: I did! Thanks!
Tata: I Naired my mustache just for you.
Audience: Wha...?
Tata: I'm a fantasy babe, right?
Audience: Help me, mama...
Tata: To turn you on, I shaved my legs and my underarms, slathered on makeup with a trowel, spent weeks in a tanning salon, lifted weights for two hours a day since the second Kennedy assassination and dyed my hair this shade of red found only in tropical fish. I am so, so, hot, aren't I?
Audience: Against my will, I find you attractive.
Tata: I'm Sicilian, you know, which is exotic and threatening. In forty years, you'll see me walking every day along Route 18 in widow's weeds, with a thick mustache and a set of rosary beads.
Audience: I will?
Tata: You will. You'll wonder what happened to me. I used to be gorgeous. How did I let myself go?
Audience: You won't! You couldn't!
Tata: I might. I'm not even Catholic...

When I walked away from the mic, Ron uncrossed his arms, and apologized to me for reacting without listening.

I'm guessing that's what happened here. Need I explain the joke?


Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging: Got To Be Real Edition

Topaz, flat. Drusy, vertical. I love our windows open and my kittens happily napping. Sometimes, there must be sniffing, and kitteny dreaming, and twitchy whiskers. Balance is key.

Of course, a moment after this picture, Drusy rolled right off Grandma's desk and into my arms. I made a noise only Flipper could hear.

The Body Becomes A Constant Traitor

Johnny, our Southwest Correspondent, reports:

The college girl reading the news on the NPR station this morning said the Catholic Church is going to take some clergy who were killed during the Spanish Civil War and beautify them. Good thing. You wouldn't want ugly old dead Spanish people.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Chase Down Mr. Hinkydink

Yet another Republican sex scandal? How can there be anyone left babbling that family values shit?

On a positive note: when senators get caught in diapers the rest of us look rather mature.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Ghost In Our Home

Weeks ago, artist Michelle Provenzano sent along news of her show at Kunstfort bij Vijhuizen in the Netherlands. Admittedly, I got sidetracked. According to the Kunstfort page, the show ended 8 July, but I may be wrong as my Dutch is so weak we might say I have none at all. Despite this terrible character flaw on my part, some exciting things may be deciphered.

Kunstfort has its own YouTube Channel, where some text is in English.

You can have a fantastic look at the exhibit space -

- and a chicken.

Miss Michelle is working in shadows - on kites and in space.

We find ourselves at an interesting moment in art history, which I am wholly unqualified to describe. Pretend I'm stuttering. I probably am: there is the artwork itself, sometimes with a performance aspect, maybe repeatable but maybe not. This is two things. I am almost saying what I mean about it.

One step away may be video or photography of these objects and events, but this is documentation and not necessarily art. It is suspect as historical record. No, really. The images we see of Miss Michelle's work are not art - unless they are.

A very modern step further is the internet art show. The online gallery may change its exhibits but, as everyone knows, the internet is essentially forever. Depending on the medium or media in which an artist works, a show may be said have no end now, regardless of what happens to individual items on Google Images. Don't anyone say appropriation!

Thus, if Miss Michelle has a show near you, you must go see it for yourself and refuse to rely on anyone else's eyes, even mine.

Exciting stuff: the artist, the shadow kite, the drawing on the walls, floor and ceiling; a language barrier defeated by objects. I like the feeling of weightlessness and traveling over surfaces. Your mileage may vary.

As a footnote: when I see this, I want to quit my job and go back to art. I long for the studio, the ideas, the shows, the frantic creative drive, study and purpose. The possibilities of interactive media excite me. It's like living on the edge of starvation, isn't it?


Monday, July 09, 2007

The Underline of the Word

Part One
Part Two

Part Three
This morning, I walked to work on a day where the weatherman promises 99 degrees. I wonder if my dinner plans include hospital food, but don't let that worry you. Try this instead:

Pete: I thought we were just going for a walk.
Tata: We did. Then our clothes disappeared. Hooray!

Terrifying - but not nearly as terrifying as calculating how many of your parents' weddings you've attended. Let's see.

Mom & Dad: check!
Dad & Summer: check!
Dad & Darla: no!
Mom & Tom: no!
Mom & Tom, the sequel: no!
Mom & Tom, Electric Boogaloo: check!

...carry the two... I've been present in one form or another for 50% of my parents' marriages to each other, though my average drops considerably when you add in Summer's additional marriages, and Tom's and Darla's first, each. I'm barely holding on at 30%! It's like I'm not even trying.

Inside the courtroom, we have no idea what to do, where to stand or how to act. The court clerk stares at us, then returns to a pile of folders, smiling. The court officer leans against a desk and makes a valiant attempt to keep a straight face. Daria arrived after Mom and Tom doled out jobs. Anya and I were assigned the task of signing documents as legal witnesses. Daria and Corinne were ring bearers. Daria was late in arriving and is so tense she's spinning like a top and babbling constantly. I'm holding very still, hoping this counterbalances frenetic camera, makeup and phone message checking. Anya and Corinne comment on artwork lining the courtroom walls. Finally, we all stop talking for one tiny moment and the officer says, "Shall I get the judge?" He is so amused we can do nothing else but chatter amongst ourselves. He gets the judge anyway.

The judge is a Very Serious Person. His time is valuable! He stares at us over his glasses and says, "Who's getting married?" Mom and Tom snap to! "Who are the witnesses?" Anya and I raise our hands. For no reason whatsoever, my sisters and I squaredance from places where we could see everything to four other places where we can see everything...and stop! The judge stares at us over his glasses, then lowers his head to contain a laugh. Daria then says magic words, "Can I take video?"

Now we would be a genuine security threat if Daria weren't obviously going nowhere in five-inch heels. The judge stares at her, then says, "Stand over here."

For the next two or three minutes, the judge talks about love, devotion and responsibility, jewelry is exchanged, Daria cries her eyes out, Mom's voice wavers, Anya beams, Corinne hugs everybody and the officer lets Daria take pictures from all over the courtroom because in a post-9/11 world, nothing says security like not training your gun on six foot Jersey chick at her parents' third wedding. The judge wishes everyone well and retires to his chambers, where I'm sure he hurt himself laughing.

When Daria sends out the digital pictures, some family members' email accounts go belly-up, but that won't happen for another six hours. As we tumble down the stairs and out to the street, where Daria takes more pictures, the city is unusually empty and quiet. It's not unusual for Daria and me to be the loudest things on any blocks where road construction's shut down for the day, but this is ridiculous. We have the city to ourselves, so we bug out.

To be continued.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Here In My Underwear

I've just returned from eating every bit of sushi and sashimi in Middlesex County, NJ. The Live Earth concert is on. Madonna puffed vigorously through La Isla Bonita, which reminds me: yesterday, I had to explain to members of my department at the library that Elvis Costello was not a classic comic actor, and neither was he a one-trick pony whose only hit was Veronica.

No, really. My co-workers between the ages of 19 and 70 did not know.

Still a good question - one among many. Y'think they know Madonna's not a Brit?


Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday Music Blogging: Hansel And Gretel Edition

in alamogordo, new mexico, on july 16, 1945

Sometimes, we must become quiet and patient with ourselves to learn when we have stopped hearing anyone else.
It is of course everyone's hope that diplomacy alone can achieve this goal. Iran's activities inside Iraq were the central issue raised by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq in his historic meeting with Iranian representatives in Baghdad this May. However, as Gen. Bergner said on Monday, "There does not seem to be any follow-through on the commitments that Iran has made to work with Iraq in addressing the destabilizing security issues here." The fact is, any diplomacy with Iran is more likely to be effective if it is backed by a credible threat of force - credible in the dual sense that we mean it, and the Iranians believe it.

I am not become Death, the destroyer of worlds.

Additional, courtesy of Wintle: I am not a bomb.

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Friday Cat Blogging: In the Dark Edition

Like any two inmates confined to the same cell for 17 formative years, Daria and I developed some inside jokes.

Tata: Is your refrigerator running?
Daria: Yes!
Tata: You better go catch it!

That's a whole phone conversation right there, complete with funny voices and a crank call script pre-dating the Hoover Dam. I didn't identify myself or say goodbye. Funny, yeah. As years passed, the humor was still lost on other people, like Daria's mother-in-law Annette when I didn't realize Daria had left the kids with Annette one afternoon and selfishly went about using that free will thing.

Tata: Do you take peeektures? Well, geeeve them back!
Annette: WHO IS THIS?
Tata: Nobody!
Annette: Why are you calling here? Don't call here!
Tata: I've already called here! What do I do now?
Annette: Hang up and don't call here again!
Tata: I can't!

That night, when I explained to my sister that I was the afternoon's terrifying entertainment, Daria had to lie down to laugh hard enough. I am also a crappy photographer, because these kittens are heart-stoppingly cute. Here they look like dustbunnies, if heart-stoppingly cute dustbunnies I fight the urge to vacuum.

I took this picture and half a dozen unimaginably inferior pictures in the dark, where I knew pussycats were with my Extrasensory Kitten Perception. You can't tell from this image but Drusy on the left has green eyes like sunlit moss. On the right, Topaz has eyes the color of new pennies. You can't tell this because the paint behind them is - unofficially - like a suede coat on a handsome man and not pink in the least, no. I wouldn't paint anything pink. Or anybody.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

I've Been Memed. I

Jill from Brilliant@Breakfast tagged me, which would have been more exciting had I not run around for weeks shouting, "Not It!"
1. All right, here are the rules.
2. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
3. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
4. People who are tagged write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
5. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

As usual, I don't know what these words mean in this order. So.

1. My thumbs bend backward. I'll take a picture sometime. You'll swear I photoshopped.
2. My cubicle at work is surrounded by plastic soldiers and dinosaurs.
3. I don't sleep. It's contagious. Y'awake?
4. Air conditioning makes me seasick.
5. Everyone has magical powers. I catch things flying through the air, but only if I didn't see them coming.
6. What day is it? Ya got me.
7. I have an irrational fear of earthquakes.
8. I'm not melting. All my beautiful Eeeeevil is fine, thank you.

As for the rules: I cannot follow them! I will not tag! If you wish to tag yourself, please do. You have every right to tell the world your front teeth are backwards, but I won't make you!

Now you know something else about me.


I've Been Memed. II

Little does Phydeaux know I've been lurking at his place, too. Shh! Don't tell him! It's a secret!

These are the rules:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.

As Dot said, "You can lead a whore to culture but you can't make her wear panties." Or something like that. Anyway, while it's charming to be chosen for the Varsity Cogitating Team, I should mention some months ago, my sister Daria introduced a pearl of wisdom we now live by. Feel free to adopt it if this adage suits your purposes: Don't think - it weakens the team. Let's sort out a few things, for clarity's sake. Think of it as the AlkaSeltzer before your bingy-drink-drinking.

I write for and/or fall down at:
Poor Impulse Control. Hi!
Running Scared. Infrequently. I finished the Holland House.
Blanton's & Ashton's. They have booze.
AgitProp. BYOBushie.
...so Mr. DBK and Mr. Blogenfreude are RIGHT OUT.

I read a pile o' blogs every day, some several times a day. The really big ones don't make sense to me (Eschaton hurts my tiny brain and I'd have to quit my job to read Kos) so I stick to mid-level, middle-to-actual left blogs, art, food and storytelling blogs. (Many of these blogs have the Thinkery logo.) At least once a week, I follow someone's blogroll to a blog I'm really glad I found. The tricky part can be finding it a second time, because while a great many big thinkers are working in the Blogosphere, quite a few of them don't need little me to prop up their egos. In no particular order, then:

For straight up monster-stomping goodness, nothing makes smoke shoot out my ears like Brilliant@Breakfast. This is the first blog I read every morning. How Jill accomplishes organized thinking and writing day after day while I'm begging the Caffeine Gods for mercy is beyond me. Moreover, Jill's passion is contagious. I'm a lot less likely to walk away from political conversations seething and silent than I was before either I found her or she found me.

Enrevanche. Barry thinks about things I don't or they wouldn't cross my path. His cat is a humble rock star. I read Enrevanche about once a week. If I skip it, I feel like I misplaced my car keys.

Reading The Unapologetic Mexican drags me out of my cracked-glass-lined comfort zone and into one where my assumptions of 'normal' and 'ordinary' sound gratingly stupid to my ear - and that is fantastic. I can't question my ideas - I have to deal with their failures.

Spocko's Brain is an important read whenever I feel uninspired. One determined, organized person with a good memory can put the screws to bullies, and don't you forget it!

You must join me in the splendor and fury that is Cripes, Suzette II: Into the Fire. Do not argue the point! You will not prevail! Suzette's politics differ from mine, which are slightly to the left of Gandhi's, yet we must order soup, and you must absolutely taste the duck. Taste it! Do not vex me, as this meme will vex Suzette!

It must be mentioned that Sharon at Center Of New Jersey Life is so smart I jog in place to keep up, and it's a good thing I recently bought new bras.

There you have it. As for Rule #3, I will ask Siobhan to explain it to me slowly and in simple expletives, because I am small and covered with fur. Though there's Nair.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Say the Mark Is Mine

Part One

Part Two
At the very end of this story, a large contingent of my family is running in circles around a parking lot. It's like a Chinese fire drill with fewer fumes, but you wouldn't know it from the silliness. I go home with Corinne. It's almost a two-mile straight line from this street to my apartment, it's getting dark and we're babbling. Stopped at a traffic light halfway home, we're chattering at each other when the driver in front of us shoves open his door, jumps out and dances between the yellow lines on Hamilton Street. Corinne and I point! We gasp! We make noises like our lung function is imperiled! The light turns green. He slides back into his car. We squeal with glee. He turns left onto George Street at the next light but our delight stays with us.

At home before 9:30 on a Friday night, I'm too exhausted to move and it's too early to sleep. Then suddenly it's very late. Then it's possible I woke up happy Saturday morning.

Damn it!

Part Three


Monday, July 02, 2007

When I Squeeze You You Make Noise

Slashdot: The Daily Mail reports that thousands of rubber ducks who have traveled the seas of the world since 1992 are about to end their journey.

After escaping out of a container fallen off a Chinese freight ship in a storm, scientists have been followed them on their fifteen year trek. This has turned out to be an invaluable source of information for studying ocean currents. Now it seems inevitable though that they will finally land on the shores of South-West England. '[Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer] correctly predicted what many thought was impossible - that thousands of them would end up washed into the Arctic ice near Alaska, and then move at a mile a day, frozen in the pack ice, around their very own North-West Passage to the Atlantic. It proved true years later and in 2003, the first Friendly Floatees were found, frozen and then thawed out, on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. and Canada. So precious to science are they that the US firm that made them is offering a £50 bounty for finding one.

Apologies: I misplaced the URL for this blurb, but let's look at The Daily Mail.

10 JANUARY 1992: Somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean nearly 29,000 First Years bath toys, including bright yellow rubber ducks, are spilled from a cargo ship in the Pacific Ocean.

16 NOVEMBER 1992: Caught in the Subpolar Gyre (counter-clockwise ocean current in the Bering Sea, between Alaska and Siberia), the ducks take 10 months to begin landing on the shores of Alaska.

EARLY 1995: The ducks take three years to circle around. East from the drop site to Alaska, then west and south to Japan before turning back north and east passing the original drop site and again landing in North America. Some ducks are even found In Hawaii. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) worked out that the ducks travel approximately 50 per pent faster than the water in the current.

1995 - 2000: Some intrepid ducks escape the Subpolar Gyre and head North, through the Bering Straight and into the frozen waters of the Arctic. Frozen into the ice the ducks travel slowly across the pole, moving ever eastward.

2000: Ducks begin reaching the North Atlantic where they begin to thaw and move Southward. Soon ducks are sighted bobbing in the waves from Maine to Massachusetts.

2001: Ducks are tracked in the area where the Titanic sank.

My heart will go on!
JULY TO DECEMBER 2003: The First Years company offers a $100 savings bond reward for the recovery of wayward ducks from the 1992 spill. To be valid ducks must be sent to the company and must be found in New England, Canada or Iceland. Britain is told to prepare for an invasion of the wayward ducks as well.

Duck validation!
2003: A lawyer called Sonali Naik was on holiday in the Hebrides in north-west Scotland when she found a faded green frog on the beach marked with the magic words 'The First Years'. Unaware of the significance of her find she left it on the beach. It was only when she was chatting to other guests at her hotel that she realised what she had seen.

What a moron!

Science is just adorable.