1.29.2009

Car 91, I Love You and the WTF Blanket

Because you are Cuban and you say New Jersey "New Yersey."

My sister gave a Snuggie blanket to a friend as a housewarming gift, and then sent me this parody that is hilarious and has the strongest opening line I've heard in a while:

1.28.2009

25 Things: Chain Letter of the 21st Century

This has been making the rounds on Facebook. I was tagged. And I was in airport all day.

1) I began typing this list in an airplane from New York to Birmingham, Alabama, after being delayed eight hours due to snow in the East. This is my eighth trip to Birmingham since January 2008.

2) The first occupation I can remember aspiring to is “artist,” around 1st or 2nd grade. By artist I meant painter, complete with beret, smock, easel, palette. I liked to draw and color.

3) I have always enjoyed generating ideas for projects more than actually executing them. A list of incomplete/failed projects that I have directed or collaborated in includes: a soap opera I wrote in 5th grade; a movie musical about Brest, France during high school; a spoof of Pink Floyd’s The Wall focusing on the life of one well-known Whippanite; Loch Ness Pondster; movie trailers with the Fun Shop—I, Kea, Crosswords, Pumped; Jewish Romantic comedy trilogy: 8 Dates With Dan, Don’t Passover Me, Seder Ain’t So; Christmas music album with friends where the number I wanted to sing was “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”; my debut album, “Don’t Make Me F**k You”; Encyclopedia Whippanica; really the list goes on and on.

4) I am a sucker for puns.

5) My friend Courtney is the perfect partner in generating ideas. We used to share an office and now we share an apartment and our space is a hotbed of activity. We were once accused of living in a fantasy world. The name for the company we run in our head is Juggernaut Industries, which, like Google, has its fingers in many pies: private investigation, cartography, marketing analytics, and comedy. For CEO we have our eye on a promising candidate currently obtaining an MBA at Northwestern.

6) Based on a relationship quiz I recently took in Real Simple magazine, I concluded that the most embarrassing songs on my iPod are:
a. S Club Party – S Club 7
b. When The Lights Go Out – Five
c. Blue (Da Ba Dee) – Eiffel 65
d. Faded – Soul Decision

7) I spend a lot of mental resources reflecting on past experiences but not very much on the future. Recently, I realized this was the first New Year’s in 10 years I didn’t spend with two of my best friend. Subsequently, I spent the evening making sure I could account for each year’s festivities. In contrast, I despise those “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” questions because I don’t have an answer.

8) In relationships I am most often criticized for not taking things seriously. I will be having an argument with my boyfriend, and I will make a joke which (to me) should diffuse the situation but only makes him angrier. This is a common pattern. Holla if humor is a defense mechanism!

9) I don’t think I tell my family I love them enough. I really do.

10) Eating together was always a big deal with my family. My sisters and I might all be home for a weekend and not hang out except when eating together. I don’t know what else to say about this at the moment.

11) I have been tested for HIV four or five times. I bring this up only because it’s one of those topics it seems you’re not supposed to talk about, but we probably should talk more about how smart people do stupid things. I intend to write a story about the last experience, but only have some notes jotted down. See point #3 about execution.

12) Like most people, I love getting mail. I wish I got more. Be my pen pal.

13) Last year there was a Levi’s ad on TV where a guy in a white t-shirt dialed a number at a phone booth, and up out of the ground came his girlfriend. They smiled at each other in, turned their back to the camera, and walked away together into the cityscape, a happily denimed pair. EXCEPT when the ad was running on Bravo: then up out of the ground came his boyfriend. Same actor, different lover! I loved thinking about this ad. Was the guy in the white t-shirt bisexual? Did they make sure the couple did not hold hands as they walked away so they didn’t have to re-shoot, they could just cut and paste the appropriate significant other for the desired target audience? Genius.

14) In A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche says something to Stanley like, “Aries dote on noise.” I think I might be true to my sign in this respect.

15) I could spend days at the beach and be content. Reading , swimming, napping, eating, repeating.

16) The Stranger line: how did he picture life after the grave? “A life in which I can remember this life on earth. That’s all I want of it.” He lashes out at the priest: “None of his certainties was worth one strand of a woman’s hair.”

17) When I was young I thought traffic lights were operated by workers underneath the intersection who were monitoring the situation. I think someone also sent a note like this to PostSecret.

18) I had a crazy dream once where mobsters set our house on fire. I ran to Rockefeller Center in a flash to alert my parents, who were ice skating there. They were not disturbed by the news and did not give me any advice. When I returned, the house was still in flames, and my grandfather came to get my sisters and me. We fled the scene in his station wagon, and eventually we were flying through the air in the car. He turned to explain the flying car to me: “They do this to flatten out the trees.”

19) I was very happy doing plays and musicals in high school and college and think my adult life is a little less fulfilling for the lack of them. At the same time, I like running with races in mind. There is not the collaborative aspect of theatre, but there is all the preparation and then a big payoff on the actual race day. I think I would be happier with my professional life if you worked and then there was some big production, race, important event. There are final presentations but nothing is ever final. There is just more work.

20) I came out to my parents in August 2000. I typed them a letter, left it on the island in the kitchen, and got the hell out of town. I went to Long Beach Island, and had a blast for a few days, even got caught skinnydipping by Mrs. Hancock that very night. On the drive back up the Parkway to Whippany I got in an accident, rear-ending the car of an Orthodox Jewish couple. They had a baby, and I was deathly frightened that I had injured it. I think I read the letter once since then. The file was called “twopoints,” because I was into Guster at the time and was alluding to the song title, “Two Points for Honesty.” The file was password –protected and the password was “love.” When I hear the stories of people who came out to their families with jokes (“I have a history quiz tomorrow, and I’m gay”), I’m so damn envious and hate myself so much for being serious that once.

21) One compulsion is to sleep with the opening of the pillowcase on the right side of my head if I am lying on my back. Since 2004 I have been less of a stickler about this.

22) “You’re a fun, frolicking kind of guy, and I’m down with that.” Brian Saliter wrote this in my high school yearbook. There was frolicking for a while on the grassy knoll (there is no other way to put it) beside the Commons.

23) One day I want to write down what I feel about New York. Even in our little lonely existence there is always the sense of possibility.

24) I love the song “Family Affair” by Mary J. Blige. The single was released around the time I was studying abroad in Lyon, so I cherished whenever I heard it on the French pop radio stations.

25) I’m sorry if some of these are long. I’m going to try and figure out how to import a note into Facebook now.

1.24.2009

Advertising Roundup

Edge Gym is just around the corner from me, and for the past year, they have a great OOH campaign that features the gym's members and trainers. The posters are in subway stations, bus shelters, and payphone panels in my neighborhood. They give you a snippet of bio, the person's age, and all finish with "he/she trains at Edge." They have the address, website, and phone number of the gym. I love the localness. I get annoyed when I see TV commercials for national gym chains and everyone in the shot looks in great shape. I don't get annoyed at these pictures, even though everyone is just as fit. They are real people. They go there. Right around the corner! If you give it a few moments to load, you can check out a gallery from the 2008 campaign right on the gym's website.

This spot by CatholicVote, a project of the Fidelis Center for Law and Policy, uses the story of Barack Obama as a pro-life argument. On the one hand, it is interesting. On the other, can you just take someone's image and slap it onto your ad like that?

Durex rocks.


I CAN'T STAND TO
LOOK
at this stupid title
in the Barnes and Noble window
everyday.

1.23.2009

Smile

Hannah has been traveling around Southeast Asia with her brother, who currently lives (and blogs) in Vietnam. This post with pictures of them on elephants assures me that Hannah took her backpack full of whimsy with her to the Occident.

1.20.2009

Song In My Head

Is our favorite song the one we listen to most, the one we would most like to have on a desert island with us, the one that pops into our head for no reason most frequently? For me these are not the same song. A straw poll indicates that the song that bubbles up most often is The Cars' "Just What I Needed." Today I left my desk to fill up my water mug and suddenly, "I don't mind you coming here and wasting all my time."

Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States. We watched on a big TV in conference room 7027.

Showtune Tuesday: Chicago

The number is from Chicago, but for me it is about New York, Saturday nights on East 84th, between 2nd and 3rd.

1.18.2009

Little Boxes

I save shit. My bedroom closet back in the Whip is full of boxes of notes, ticket stubs, letters, Christmas cards, whatever. Part of the joy/dread in going home is not only living with the idea that this room, this house, this town is where much "went down" but also living with all the stuff that I collect.

This weekend I spied among my empire of dirt:

  • A note from Helen, attached to a bottle of Listerine she left me during my first year at Penn:

    Brian,
    Mon petit chouchou! This is for you...nothing implied...If you ne le veut pas, throw it away. I can't use the stuff.
    -Love,
    Helen

    I had arrived at college loaded with toiletries from Costco: 500 Band-Aids, a gallon of Listerine. Even though there was a CVS adjacent to campus, my parents were generous enough to make sure I had enough Q-tips to last ALL FOUR YEARS away from home. Raina dubbed this collection my Y2K stash. Helen knew I used Listerine and gave me some.

  • A guitar pick swiped from Ken


  • A crumpled up piece of paper, written by Dani's hand circa 1999, surely to take an order for a Wendy's run during musical rehearsal:

    Spicy Chicken Plain
    Biggy
    Coke
    ___________________
    Bob- frosty
    ___________________
    Jay - something w/a hamburger + coke -meal
    ___________________

  • The picture of Barney Bunny by Lindsay



  • A postcard from 1995, written by a friend who went to Disney World, but because the bottom of the card was torn in the mail, I never figured out who it was from.


Why do I do this? Sometimes it feels like a ritual bloodletting. Other days the things hold warmth, and I am glad to be holding them again. Maybe this is genetic--my grandmothers both have reputations for being pack rats, my parents are obsessed with photographs. On the flip side, I know I do this in part to fight genetics, seeing these scraps as talismans to ward off Alzheimer's, which my grandmother and her twin sister succumbed to. One day someone will pick through this and I will say, "Ah, yes, that is the yarmulke I wore to Jon Kohen's bar mitzvah. That is a piece of an art project Andrea made and I wanted to save it because that was the year I loved her."

1.15.2009

Linksalot

Something to remember: "politicians, by definition, respond to political pressure...Where political pressure comes only from one side, that is the side that wins -- period."

A world without the New York Times? The NY Times is definitely on the list of things I love about New York (remember that idea I had for regular entries on this topic?). Honestly, though, I read it online. I have been for 10 years; my love affair with it has lasted longer than those with any other website. Once in a blue moon pick up the Sunday paper. The Times responded here.

1.13.2009

3 Behaviors That Have Stuck With Me

1. I never have learned to tie my shoes any other way besides making bunny ears. I have been mocked. Most people, if they learned this way to begin with, graduate to the other method (I don't know the name for it because I DON'T DO IT). It takes me a long time to tie my shoes. Poking around Runner's World, I saw an article that asked if you were tying your shoes correctly. The video reminded me that the world has no love for bunny ears.

2. Back in the day (4th or 5th grade) Officer Kelly would visit the school once a week to D.A.R.E. to keep us kids off drugs. One day he taught us a technique for relaxing. I cannot recall the link between this and resisting drug abuse but what he advised was deep breathing by exhaling for longer than you inhale: if you inhale for a slow count of 3, then breathe out for a count of 6. I do this sometimes when I have trouble getting to sleep.

3. In high school, Ms. Guzo, a New-Age-y ex-nun that wore a lot of purple, taught sophomore year Language Arts. One day she led us in a meditation exercise. Like the D.A.R.E. class, this involved a lot of breathing, and when we exhaled, we were supposed to imagine all the impurities leaving our bodies. Then we were left with this clean white light. We had to visualize "sending it out" into the universe. I pictured the light coming from my chest area, like a misplaced Care Bear Stare, and flowing out of the roof and up into the world beyond. Yes, completely cheesy, but sometimes when I'm sending well wishes to someone, I can't help that in my head I see the white light and direct it towards that person.

Thoughts of the Day (Yesterday, Really)

Stephen King, Lisey's Story:

She sang along, low. She knew every word. This did not surprise her, either. Some things you never forgot. She had come to believe that the very things the practical world dismissed as ephemera--things like songs and moonlight and kisses--were sometimes the things that lasted the longest. They might be foolish, but they defied forgetting. And that was good.



Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones:
Our lives are at once ordinary and mythical. We live and die, age beautifully or full of wrinkles. We wake in the morning, buy yellow cheese, and hope we have enough money to pay for it. At the same instant we have these magnificent hearts that pump through all sorrow and all winters we are alive on the earth. We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded. This is how writers must think, this is how we must sit down with pen in hand. We were here; we are human beings; this is how we lived. Let it be known, the earth passed before us. Our details are important. Otherwise, if they are not, we can drop a bomb and it doesn't matter.

Showtune Tuesday: The Mikado

"The sun, whose rays are all ablaze" is a perfect song. Alas, it is unable to be embedded. The song stops around 2:50.

1.12.2009

Week in Review

  • True Life: I’m a Jersey Shore Girl
  • Booked my flight to Florida so I can vacation with the fam come April.
  • Compliant with New Year's Resolution #3, I purchased only one cup of coffee. The rest of the week I made my own damn coffee or drank the fabulous Flavia.
  • Transatlantic mom joke at work! Be careful with word choice when using one of those keyboard dust removers. “Your MOM sounds like she’s not blowing hard enough.”
  • Looked up nineties hits on YouTube in preparation for a Saturday night dance party, which didn’t happen due to inclement weather.
  • Lisey's Story; perhaps more on that later
  • Strapped it on and ran in the cold. Central Park iced over and dressed in snow was something to see.
  • Diary of a Self-Help Dropout: Flirting With the 4-Hour Workweek

1.06.2009

Showtune Tuesday/Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Happy New Year, kiddos. Back to reality, n'est-ce pas? All the Christmas trees are dead in the street in New York, and that's always depressing. So is the way my room looks shabby when you switch on the light because the energy-saver light bulb takes time to "warm up." But other than that, we are all brimming with high hopes for 2009 and trying to go to the gym in the morning before work.

Before we get too far into the new year, I must say farewell to Harry. In the end, I had fun. The books were entertaining. In #7, I liked that the "school year" structure of the previous 6 books was abandoned, because it had run its course. The last book was deliciously suspenseful, too: the villains are hot on the trail from the beginning, meaning there are lots of chases and mini-showdowns before the main event. In my dislike column, like #5, there is a careless disposal of some characters that we have grown to love. It comes across as if the writer is not concerned about them or was pressed for time. And speaking of pressed for time, the epilogue seems tacked on and is pointless.

In other reviews, readers were critical of holes in the plot, but I guess I am not too clever or see what I want to see. The book is about magic; I try not to think too hard. People were also doubtful that banal old unrequited love could be reason enough to motivate Snape. Is that so hard to believe? We must not run in the same circles. Maybe the case of dear old Sev is over the top, but one of the points of the books was always how the power of love (cue Celine) trumps the rest of the magic out there. I think that's a fine message to believe in and to impart to kids.

At the same time, the odds are always stacked against the good guys, in this book more than in the others. Spoiler: the body count is very uneven at the end of the day. The notion is continuously brought up that to be good/to do right is a constant, potentially losing battle. I love it. (One more minor minus, though: Rowling shows no emotional implications to good guys using Unforgivable Curses. That doesn't make sense. If you're going to go there, go there and don't gloss over it.)

I liked that even though this is fantasy and there is a prophecy involved, Dumbledore points out in #6 that Harry still has control over his actions. One of the most memorable lines to me is when Dumbledore chastises Harry, "You are setting too much store by the prophecy!" Harry is going to confront Voldemort, yes, but he is not fortune's fool entirely. He chooses how he will confront him.

Lastly, it was heartwarming to see in a children's tale a healthy mistrust of authority/government(Ministry of Magic thugs!) and media (Daily Prophet punks!) Well played, Rowling. And further props for the brilliant business move of referencing Beedle the Bardin #7. Guess what's on my Amazon wish list?

So long, Potter. It's been swell. While this is not a showtune, I thought it only fitting (thanks to John TGI for posting on Facebook and me for Facebook stalking him):