Thursday, November 30, 2006

Vag of Honor

As you've all likely seen, our fav pop princess, Britney Spears, recently flashed her rather bare nether-region to one lucky paparazzi. She later did it again.

It seems the time has come to pay the piper. While Brit has been famous for a while now, we are finally starting to see the dividends of the contract that she signed with us all those years ago. That's right, as soon as you start to court the attention of the press--to become a celeb, really (especially such a sexualized one)--you sign on as a willing target of the media's basest impulses. And the degree to which you seek attention is proportional to what the hungry media wants from you. Brit only stoked the fire for all those years playing the virgin, making us lick our lips for some kind of public sacrifice of her ever-so-protected maidenhead. While admission of sex with Justin and knowledge that she's done it with her hubby are one thing, we've not, until now, got really explicit proof that the virgin's days are done. Ladies and germs, may I present the bloody sheet. And as an added wrinkle of titillation it seems that our Ms Spears is no stranger to her Lady Gillette.

But, perhaps this is a cunning, if unwitting, gambit for relevance. The most recent album didn't perform like the last several, the marriage is in shambles and she's become the national symbol for trashy consumption. Unlike celebs whose last gasp at fame comes in a Playboy spread (Tia Carrere and Tiffany come to mind as recent members of that illustrious club. So does Terri Polo, the wife from Meet the Parents. Really, if this is the only way you can manage to upstage Blythe Danner you'd better pack it in), maybe Brit is following old Madonna and giving the pubic public what they want before the slide to obsolescence. Maybe it will even stave it off for a while. It worked for Drew Barrymore too, though neither of them ever claimed to be pure and chaste.

In any case, a momentarily sated public thanks you Britney, for holding up your end of the deal. When we decide that we want some manner of Spears-Colin Farrell sex tape or pics of you picking up your dog's feces whilst flashing a thong we'll give you a call. In the mean time, let's see if we can't get a few pics of Jessica Simpson's rack. She's not playing along.

Farewell, November

Today marks the end of November 2006, a month Betty and Bimbo will remember for:

* Lazy trips to visit my cute little dog in Washington D.C.

* Several worthy novels, including one about shipwrecks and blogs and one about French-style kleptomania .

* A palpable - if still politically inconclusive - national thumping.

* Discovering two new outlaw heros: one a tortured troubadour, the other a hobo.

* Eye-opening - and mouth-opening - food-filled adventures in San Francisco, Anne Hathaway's Malibu, kid-friendly Manhattan, muffin-crazed suburban Illinois, and Brighton Beach, Russia, I mean, Brooklyn.

* Awkward run-ins with literary icons Orhan Pamuk and Salman Rushdie.

*Lots of movies: in fat red envelopes in our mailbox, and multiple views on the new James Bond and his really disappointing car.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Byrne, Baby, Byrne

Did anybody/everybody know that David Byrne has a supercool blog?

While I disagree with my cheekboned hero about Bush ever having believed in his own strategic lies, I love the connection Byrne draws between political collective consciousness and the storytelling impulse (italics mine):

Fiction and storytelling are stronger than fact — we “make” facts out of fiction. We use fictions to order and interpret evidence. The imagination runs the senses. Until the disconnect is overwhelming and we search for a new story.

We do this in our personal lives and in politics. Nations are people, a person even, and the storytellers guide us to realize our secret desires and wants. It feels better if we all tell the same story. The most gripping fiction feels inexorable, inevitable.

I’m obsessed with all this — with how we can do what, either in retrospect or in the cold light of day, is obviously wrong, counterproductive and harmful — both to ourselves, ultimately, and to others.

This crystallization from the man who wrote "The Girls Want to Be With the Girls"! I would really, really, love to meet David Byrne.

Further reading on this theory of storytelling as the dominant force in psychology can be found in the work of Dr. Robert Sternberg, whom Betty once had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing for a story, and then later interviewed his mother (a Holocaust survivor) for a different story! Both were totally wonderful, gracious, light-hearted and insightful people.

In his 1999 book "Love Is A Story," Sternberg posited:

When you talk to two people who have just split up, their breakup stories often sound like depictions of two completely different relationships. In a sense, they are. Each partner has his or her own story to tell.

Most important to a healthy, happy relationship is that both partners have compatible stories--that is, compatible expectations. Indeed, a 1998 study conducted with Mahzad Hojjat, Ph.D., and Michael Barnes, Ph.D., indicated that the more similar couples' stories were, the happier they were together.

Couples usually start out being physically attracted and having similar interests and values. But eventually, they may notice something missing in the relationship. That something is usually story compatibility. A couple whose stories don't match is like two characters on one stage acting out different plays--they may look right at first glance, but there is an underlying lack of coordination to their interaction.

Sternberg for beginners: on Love, Hate, and Stupidity.

Byrne for beginners: "More Songs About Building and Food" by Talking Heads, and "The New Sins", an intriguing little book.
[Readers, please suggest more Byrniana! Betty's an ecstatic newcomer, too.]

Pelosi a Hastings Hater

Has there been a greater political insult in the 21st Century than Rep. Alcee Hasting's riposte after he was denied chairship of the House Intelligence Committee by Nancy Pelosi? The quote, in case you didn't read it, was:
"Sorry, haters, God is not finished with me yet."

There was a big to-do over the potential that Hastings, a 14-year congressman from the Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach area, might be appointed chairman of the House Intelligence Committee - because Congress had actually removed him from a federal judgeship in the 1989 after he had been accused of soliciting bribes.

Significantly, Hastings was later acquitted - and apparently, voters in South Florida were convinced enough of his innocence to elect him to Congress just a few years later, and to return him 8 times since.

There was a waft of bigotry in much of the mainstream media coverage of this whole matter, with more than one news outlet suggesting that Speaker-to-be Pelosi was in a tight spot between either choosing a corrupt guy as the new Intel chairman or pissing off the (presumably, unreasonable) Congressional Black Caucus, which strongly supported his bid.

Here's the Miami Herald:

In a test of her leadership, House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi rejected once-impeached Rep. Alcee Hastings as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, a move that could blunt early criticism she is paying lip service to ethics reform.

At the same time, the California Democrat's decision not to promote Hastings could ruffle her relations with black lawmakers.

And the Chicago Sun-Times:

Hastings, currently the No. 2 Democrat on the panel, had been aggressively making a case for the top position, supported by members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

But critics pointed out he had been impeached when he was a federal judge and said naming him to such a sensitive post would be a mistake just as the Democrats take over House control pledging reforms.

The Wall Street Journal said Pelosi was "moving to end weeks of damaging speculation" by rejecting Hastings.

Ugh. Apparently, acquittal on charges almost two decades ago is not enough to remove an ethical "cloud." None dare call it racism?

[Rep. Alcee Hastings., Washington Post File Photo]

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Muffie Alert!!!

Just back from suburbia, I am happy to report that fancy fast food pioneer Panera now serves Muffies.

Muffies are the top— only the top part that spills over the pan edge — of the pumpkin, banana nut, or chocolate chip muffin. Something like a soft cookie or flat cake, or a toupee for other muffins.

To hell with bottom dregs of the muffin, that work-a-day part that’s such a chore to eat. These soft, tender “fillet of muffins” show how entitlement can be as much about acquiring as discarding. More than anything, however, Muffies are an edible homage to the more familiar “dough-over-low,” the muffin top.


I just wanted to follow up with the Bond Review. I agree with Betty and Bimbo: so much potential, but the hour long poker back drop made me wonder if I watching ESPN "the ocho" and ruined the whole thing. They started it off in five different locations, very exciting and then we got stuck in a poker room the rest of the night. Further, the jillion dollar Aston Martin did not chase anyone or shoot anything or eject anything rather its sole purpose was to distribute a first aid kit at one point in the film.

I recommend Layercake, the movie that made Daniel Craig a star in Britain, to everyone on the blog. It has an awesome soundtrack and is a lot of fun, much like Brad Pitt's Snatch. There were some classic lines in this Bond film but was only barely worth seeing at 2 a.m. in some random Burbank theater (Never let a friend be responsible for a gameplan). They killed off my favorite Bond girl early on and I didnt recognize any other actors besides Bond.

I also find myself wondering here in UCC commercial code class, if perhaps one of the cruel and unsually long and slow methods of torture that Bond's villain conceives in the next film, and from which 007 inevitabley escapes from somehow, should be Bond having to sit in on a four hour lecture on lien creditors priorities in security interests. It would keep us all on the edge of our seat, whether he would pass out from total boredom or would somehow stave off the abundance of Article 9 exceptions and still have time to save the girl!

Notes on Cinema

Last night was a school night, but Betty and Bimbo and pal Animup just had to see "Casino Royale" - the late show! - in the spacious confines of Union Square. And what long and glorious confinement it was!

We all loved squealing and squirming (except for the stoic Bimbo) before Daniel
Cra(i)g(gy) and Eva Green and the coolest Bond bad guy in ages (who resembles Billy Corgan with allergies) for three speedy, gritty, explodey, thrilly hours! Judi Dench was also good, delivering the film's final punch-in-the-heart and not overly sassy.

"Casino Royale" is unevenly paced, but so is "Hamlet", folks! Betty and Bimbo came to enjoy the episodic unfolding of the non-plot, the somewhat unrelated thematic "Acts" in which the same characters seem a little different in each one, particularly the finale. James Bond is Huck Finn!

It's true! Craig and the script gave Bond a little more angst, a little more scar potential, a little more broody James Dean, than he's had before. Quick analysis: Connery was the coolest, Moore was the funniest, Brosnan was the plasticest, and Craig is the emotivest. Betty appreciated this 007's rough, untamed, yet uncertain, swagger and the film's slightly homoerotic appreciation of his ample musculature. Bimbo also liked Craig as an actor, but declared his characterization of Bond unfitting, an aberration from the protocals of the role. "He's good, but he's not James Bond. He's Jimmy Bond," Bimbo (a Bon(a fi)d(e) expert) quipped as we stumbled home on empty Village streets.

Why the makers of this film had to invent new plots around the central poker-in-Montenegro drama remains a mystery to us, as that was the best - and Bondest - part of "Casino Royale". The opening scene, however, featuring a talented action actor who pulls all his own stunts, was likewise magnificent. And classy credits that made flying hearts out of blood got us pumped for it.

Note for those keeping track: We deem this post-Iraq installation a little less sexist, but a little more racist than the average Bond flick. Do you agree? And how about this intriguing post-colonial take?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Betty and Bimbo Recommend: CELEBRITY

The notion of celebrity sits fine with us. Everyone knows mass cults of personality are as old as the heavens from which new heros tumble down and into the pages of our preferred weeklies. It's also really fun to follow the lives of the beautiful and the damned - the original "reality TV" you might say (if you've already said that about a billion other things, like your aquarium and Halloween).
Woody Allen also made a movie called "Celebrity" that we both like a lot.

Our recommendation today, however, is about neither of these phenomena, but rather regards the most riotous and rewarding of party games: Celebrity. Bimbo introduced Nancy D., Aaron Hun, and Betty to this game several years ago, and our friendly gatherings haven't been the same since!

The game has three rounds (or four, if you are hardcore and wish to include Bimbo's extra "psychic round"). You need at least four people to play, but more is better.

Split the gathered friends into two or more teams of two or three. Have everyone write down the names of 10 "celebrities" broadly defined; past submissions have included Idi Amin, Scooter Libby, Father Junipero Serra, and Henry James alongside more predictable icons like Sean Preston Spears Federline, Ashton Kutcher, and Heather Mills McCartney.

Your celebrities can be real or fictional people, dead or alive, and from any nationality and time period, as long as they are generally known. A good guideline to use is: "Would you guess this person in a game of 20 Questions?" Decide, then write the names on little scraps of paper. Next, put the scraps in somebody's trucker hat.

Now the fun begins. In the first round, you can shoot your mouth off in a million ways to get your teammates to guess the celebrated person whose scrap you've drawn. In one memorable game, our friend Jessica drew Bono and began by saying "OK, this guy is an asshole." While B&B would not recommend this type of description as the most efficient path to sure victory in Celebrity, it was nonetheless a highlight. Some people just get you to speak from the heart.

You only have one minute to give your teammates clues in round one. If you don't know who the person is, just get your teammates to sound out the person's name. Collect as many correctly guessed names as you can. Play until all the names are out of the hat, alternating teams and rotating guessers and clue-givers each time the hat comes to your team. When the hat is empty, tally up how many scraps each team got. Clear enough?

Now put all the name scraps back into the hat. In round two, you can only say one word per celebrity name you draw. You can play off of mistakes or sound-outs that other players made in round one (e.g. "asshole"), so always pay attention! Go around until the hat is empty, tally up the points.

Round three is charades round! If your team guesses wrong while you're acting out Louisa May Alcott or Muggsy Bogues, you have to pick a new name, so be patient, guessers! Play until all the names are taken. This round usually takes the longest, and is the most hysterical, especially when you play with Aaron Hun or Bimbo.

Round four, should you choose to accept it, is the psychic round. Stare into your teammate's eyes and drill Axl Rose or Ulysses S. Grant (or whomever) into their brain!! You may want to skip this round unless you're really good, or trying to keep your guests from going home. Then start again with new celebrities!

If you have any questions or amusing Celebrity/celebrity anecdotes, please do the right thing and e-mail Betty and Bimbo today.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Betty's Achievements Today

* Almost finished NYT Sunday Crossword (check back on Tuesday)

* Navigated home safely

* Experienced excited feelings about the future

* Talked to an old friend for the first time in months

* Heard new things in an old Talking Heads album

* Got woken up by cute dog

* Remained calm in the face of many changes

* Enjoyed "Spongebob" program very much

* Told Mom "I love you"

Friday, November 24, 2006

Letter From the Front Lines of Laziness

Betty is home for the holidays, and blissed out by doing the devil's work. As she presses pause in the middle of Scorsese's "My Voyage to Italy" and prepares to order pizza, she reflects that, the day after Thanksgiving, you've really got to want it if you plan to get anything done. To offer a short visual log of the day: pillows and rented movies are everywhere piled high, the leftover chocolate cheesecake can't get out of the fridge fast enough, and the dog, the cute Moo, and the Little Hun can't receive enough deep-tissue snuggles that precede naps.

This afternoon, Betty worked up some initiative and tried to go to a store not far from Idleness Central. But alas! Not far from home, she actually fell down off a non-moving curbside and ripped a new hole in the knee of her bluejeans. Scientific Conclusion: Moving is dangerous!

Maybe something about the materialistic glut of this whole holidaze "season" makes Betty want to hide. Maybe it was something in last night's roasted veggies and mash. But between the snacking and the TV treatments that leave her eyes glazed, Betty now finds herself in a restless state. She'll report back after she finishes her next two "assignments" for the weekend - "The Fortune Cookie" and "The Apartment," and hopefully pools some inspiration from her jittery old pals, Jack Lemmon and Billy Wilder.
Now, the Friday crossword faintly calls.

Brad L. Graham: Blog History's Richard III

I have been part of this "blogging family" for a long time now, but I haven't yet posted an actual entry. As a matter of fact, I consider this my first post on a certified blog. My first (and maybe last) post is going to be on blogging, since the blog has always been a bit of a mystery--a mystery that I've finally decided to crack. Unlike most modern day mysteries, however, it can't be solved merely by typing "blog" into google; instead, I decided I needed to pull out the big guns. So I went to the online OED.

According to this good people at OED, the term "blog" was coined on May, 23 1999; fittingly, the word was officially coined on a blog (, during a discussion of another blog ( Interestingly, then, the sentence that makes Brad Graham at the coiner of "blog" is one in which Brad is giving credit to Peter Merholz for coining "blog." Check it out: "Cam points out and PeterMe decides the proper way to say ‘weblog’ is ‘wee'- blog’ (Tee-hee!)." I wonder if Peter finds this as funny as Brad does; perhaps "PeterMe" didn't tee-hee when he found himself documented as the second person to use the term "blog," even though the first person documented using it is quoting him! The second use is from Peter Merholz's website five days after the term was coined. Here it is: "For those keeping score on blog commentary from outside the blog community." As anyone can see, Peter uses the term familiarly, as if he has been using it for years. If you go to Peter's actual May 28, 1999 entry (, you will see that Peter uses "blog" four times in this post; he also uses the term "blogger" once (this word, I'm relieved to say, Peter does get credit for).

The good news is that, despite the attempt of the reactionary OED to cover up the true coiner of "blog," Wikipedia gets the story right; of course, if OED got their way, there would be no Wikipedia to tell us the truth about these things--but that is a whole different story. In any event, it's interesting to learn that, even at its linguistic conception, the blog was dogged by lies, cover-ups, and heated controversies. I am proud to be family member of this wonderful blog, which is carrying on Peter M.'s renegade tradition.

I'm Not Arrogant, I'm Just Better Than You

Introduction: The ego is the part of ourselves that desires to covet, it is about self-fulfillment and attainment. It clings to worldly possessions, vanity, money, power and praise. The ego declines criticism and welcomes confirmation, whether sincere or not. In this way it turns a blind eye to anything that detracts from it. If unrestricted the ego will lie to get its way, ignoring all logical warnings and truth. It is impatient and impulsive, unconcerned with the process of achieving a result.

Yet no matter how much you feed your ego, you cannot satisfy it, anymore then you can grab air out of the sky. I highly doubt there is anyone who is not concerned with how other people view them in varying degrees. It is human nature to desire and be desired, to have wants feel like needs, to obtain and prosper. For the ego is not all bad, it can be used as a tool to drive determination, pride, perseverance and ambition. These are qualities that most societies hold in high regard. Persons who consistently achieve are often rewarded with a bounty of praise, admiration, power, and financial compensation, and if not all these things, surely some of them.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be your very best. There is everything wrong with only wanting to be your very best as a means to a reward, and it is even more selfish and wrong to want a reward in exchange for nothing. We are often blinded by our egos, allowing external factors to determine our self worth. In this way the ego is no longer a tool of process, it is the process. When what we say and do comes directly from the ego it is at the detriment of ourselves and all those around us.

Ego-Tripping: When you are blessed with exceptional talent whether it be physical or mental, and your performance stands head and shoulders above all others who share your interest, it is easy to become very impressed with yourself. To boast and brag is to despise others, and consequentially you will be despised. It is the ego that tries to lower the self-esteem of others to raise itself up, and for this reason the pretentious are always hated.

Delusions of Ego: Do not let your ego cloud you from what you know to be the truth, lest you be taken advantage of or fall prey to your own refusal to recognize right from wrong.

When I was a young teenager, a group of friends and I were hanging outside the house of two brothers, whom we were all friends with. The two brothers were called by their mother to come in for dinner, and while waiting for them to return we noticed a barbell loaded with an extremely heavy amount of weight sitting in the car-port. We all stood in awe of the person who could lift such a heavy load, in this case it was the oldest of the two brothers. Unfortunately, the ego got the better of one my friends who thought he would impress us by lifting the barbell over his head. Now the rest of us all decided this was a bad idea and tried several times to discourage this rash decision. But his ego ignored what was perfectly good sense, considering he did not even weigh half as much as the load he was attempting to lift.

The story pretty much goes south from here. I would tell you not to look, but this is not a video. He preceded to snatch the barbell off the ground and flung it over his head. The momentum from the weight threw his balance off, so that he lost control of the bar and began to fall backwards with the hefty load following right behind him. Out of panic he maintained his grip on the bar which proved to be a big mistake. As the weight bore down on his wrists, they both broke. Next, both his elbows broke. His back then gave out, followed by both his knees, and finally his ankles. There he laid on the ground with his body folded up like an accordion. This little episode took all of three seconds, but it seemed like it happened in slow motion. Never had I seen an ego work so quickly in literally bringing a man down.

Conclusion: It is best to be humble, draw your strength from within. Pursue your goals without care of recognition, let others think and say what they will. Remember you can be both cheered and scorned in the same hour. Deeds well done speak for themselves without having to draw attention to them. A wise man keeps quiet, and people can only wonder. An idiot speaks, and everyone knows how ignorant he is. Act as though you were nobody and you can never be torn down.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Hobo in Paradise

It's no secret that Betty is an advocate for day laborers. Another group of worldly and flexible people who have been unfairly maligned, their contributions to American life forgotten, are hobos. Betty is grateful to have learned today about Steam Train Maury (born Maurice W. Graham), who - to use hobo terminology - "took the westbound" yesterday at the age of 89. With him, Maury takes his title Life King of the Hobos East of the Mississippi, and a legacy as vast as the "Iron Road" that splays over this country.

Maury hopped his first freight train at age 14, leaving a troubled Kansas home behind in 1931. He learned cement-masonry and set up a school for masons in Toledo, OH, not far from the small town of Napoleon, where he died. He served as an Army medical technician during World War II, and worked as a day laborer until the age of 54, when he began riding the rails again. He was a founding member of the Hobo Foundation, and helped establish the Hobo Museum in Britt, Iowa, where the National Hobo Convention in still held annually.

"A hobo is a man of the world, who travels to see and observe and then shares those views with others," he said. In his 1990 autobiography, "Tales of the Iron Road: My Life as King of the Hobos," Maury emphasized hobo chivalry and bonds, descried hobo convention attendees who were "show-bos, not hobos," and asserted that hobos are not bums, winos, or no-goodniks, but rather shadow builders of industry, particularly in the American West.

Admirers of the hobo lifestyle, while lamenting the poverty conditions that landed more than a million desperate people on freight trains in search of work during the Great Depression, still express appreciation for the hobo's creative lifestyle, self-determination, intense loyalty to friends and community, and resistance to American cultural norms like materialism. John Steinbeck called hobos "the last free men" in his wonderful road memoir Travels With Charley.

At you can learn more about Maury, the Foundation, the Museum, the Convention, Hobo music and art, the Hobo Union, Hobo dress, and the appeal of an ascetic way of life "so sweet, so addictive, so seductive, so intoxicating, that those of us who retire after 20, 30, even 40 years are never really free of it."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Nodine Recommends: Townes Van Zandt

I love to complain my little New England tail off about living in Texas - mainly because it's too hot, too humid, and just too damn HOT for too long. Also there are lots of big cars and Republicans. So here I am in Maine for Thanksgiving relishing the fact that I am refreshingly and even uncomfortably cold when I walk outside, but.....especially when I'm away, even for a few days, I start feeling the bond I've formed with quirky Austin and admit to myself that I'll miss it when I leave. (And there is no question that I WILL leave.)

My favorite things about Austin happen to be the interesting mix of people, beautiful hill country to run and bike in, drinking beer outside, and the music, probably in that order. But Austin does have some pretty cool music. The greatest type of music I've probably gained an appreciation for here has been Texas Country music. And the greatest artist I've discovered here is Townes Van Zandt.

Townes really falls somewhere between the folk and country genres, but he's as Texas as they come. His songs are moving without being sappy (well, most of them). His music is simple but catchy. And his lyrics are the most amazing part. Poetic and sad, but always with a good story to tell and always open to interpretation. Depending on my mood he can make me cry or open my eyes to what's beautiful around me. Or both.

There was also a great documentary about Townes that came out last winter called "Be Here to Love Me." My favorite Townes songs are "Fare thee Well Miss Carousel" and "Pancho and Lefty."


last friday, g called to announce that she had tickets to see john zorn that evening.
john zorn? could they be talking about the same person? the musician person?
oh yes, john zorn, the guy that made that fab heavy metal soundtrack for "funny games."
well, that's unlikely, said v., recalling the lusciously cerebral and freaky chamber music for that phenomenal bdsm dyke-porn flick "the elegant spanking" (probably the best porn film ever).
so, at least they both make soundtracks, don't they.
v. and g. donned their decadent best, as best as the low 20s outside allowed, and rode the g-mobile to the p auditorium--
indeed, it was john zorn, this time blowing his rusty sexyphone with the masada quartet, his jewish musicology meets free-jazz experiment-- and it was-- very sexy indeed, very much like the local rabbi on lsd!
as masada reached a climactic end the crowd swayed and trembled like in a shaker meeting. encore! encore!
throughout v. couldn't stop feeling marylin chambers in "insatiable."
"i want more, more, more...!"

and isn't marylin chambers very much the embodiment of the spirit of thanksgiving?
ever more more. more turkey, more tv, more shopping. thank you.

v. has carefully selected a happy turkey that has died for the cause of giving (more and more) thanks and that shall be shared communally. of course, not in our apartment. our apartment is meatless. more and more gains another connotation in these latitudes. we have plenty of wine in the pantry! v and g (and g's appendage s) will start the day with mimosas, do the gin thing after noon and move to the dinner parties later. full of happy turkeys. happy, unlike what the zealots at vegan outreach try to make you believe.
so happy thanksgiving everyone! and be smart! get carpooled!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Like lucky children on a Christmas morning, Betty and Bimbo were sitting on the floor in pajamas, digging through boxes of papers ("like a wind inside a letterbox") and listening to Justin Timberlake last Sunday afternoon. Needless to say, they had lots of fun. Among the smudgey postcards and science lab reports and teacher comment cards (including notes on Bimbo's substantial improvements in gym class), the pair uncovered a far-flung archeology of the self, including their "early work".

It is trendy to say an artist's early work is his best. While honestly this case cannot be made for Betty and Bimbo's first poems and literary efforts, it is still good that these inspired works came to light after all those years in boxes. Had they not surfaced, the world may never have known about Betty's song lyrics where she compares a boy to a "bear cub," or the dream she had about Bimbo long before they knew each other well (although the dream might have been about another guy named Bimbo, she can't remember).

Bimbo's juvenilia steals the show from Betty's young scribbling, however. First, there is the eighth grade personal essay where he sounds like a grizzled old gay man as he describes his red smoking jacket. Then there is the even earlier poem that ends with a resounding "Thou Must Know"! And who could forget one of Bimbo's first manuscripts to make the leap into hardcover (and into our hearts), Snakes: Fact or Fable??

The Betty and Bimbo manuscript archive in New York City is open to the public by appointment. Please contact us to make a reservation, or if you'd like to come over for some dinner, coffee, lively conversation, and TV-watching.

Letter from the Bay Area

According to this blog's sub-headline, there is someone who blogs from San Francisco. However, I do not know who they are, and so even though it may not be completely unique to the blog to discuss what's going on out here, my perspective - as a lifelong New Englander visiting the Bay Area for the first time - surely counts for something.

This is the first time in my life that "The Bay" has meant not Narragansett or Casco, but the Bay really deserving of the definite article - that of San Francisco. It is quite lovely here, and though I've only been here two days, I have already traversed quite a bit on foot.

Sunday, I went to the St. Francis Soda Fountain for brunch with my friend Poep Kwan (who I am staying with in the Mission) and a few other friends from college. All five of us got omelettes and enjoyed them thoroughly, and Bobby Bertolucci, who was about to get on a plane to Baltimore, calmed his nerves with a $3 Manzanita - champagne and apple juice. It's also nice to be able to order banana bread with your eggs rather than toast.

Sunday afternoon, Poep Kwan and I walked through the Mission towards downtown, took a trolley car to North Beach (where he might have been the only San Francisco resident on the car save for the two jokesters running the thing), and walked, huffing and puffing, up Telegraph Hill to the base of the Coit Tower. The view was beautiful, cloudy haze be damned.

We ended up going back to Mission via the Union Square area and strolled by all the museums. A stop in the ridiculous Sony store (part of an entire mall owned by Sony, I think) made me feel at home - San Francisco, for all its hipness, I realized, is no less in the belly of the beast that is American consumer capitalism than anywhere else. They had sold out of the new Playstation 3s, but PS3 paraphenelia was available.

Consumer capitalism or no, I was glad to see that the politics for which this place is known are alive and well. When I strolled through Berkeley yesterday, there were signs everywhere for a 12-2 rally to protest police brutality, perhaps relating to the recent incident at UCLA where police repeatedly used a taser gun on an Iranian-American student. Alas, it was about 2:30, and my previous dilly-dallying at the bookstores of Telegraph Avenue meant I had unwittingly missed the action.

Also interesting is the local response to own of the area's own politicos - Rep. Nancy Pelosi - making good. Editor Tim Redmond of the San Francisco Bay Guardian makes a convincing case in this week's issue that along the rise to power, Pelosi has lost touch with her leftward constituents - in his words, "Pelosi's not one of us". Redmond says the concerns or questions as to whether she will bring "Gay Marriage and Burning Man" to Washington are a bit misplaced:

Just look at her record. Pelosi was weak on the war and late in opposing it. She was the author of the bill that gave that well-known pauper George Lucas the lucrative contract to build a commercial office building in a national park. She worked with Republicans such as Don Fisher of the Gap on the Presidio privatization and set a precedent for the National Park System that the most rabid antigovernment conservatives can love.

Just this week Bloomberg News reported that Pelosi is working with Silicon Valley venture capital firms to weaken the post-Enron Sarbanes-Oxley law, which mandates strict accounting procedures for publicly held corporations.

And just a couple of weeks before the election, she told 60 Minutes that same-sex marriage is "not an issue that we're fighting about here."

I think it's pretty safe to say she's never been to Burning Man.

Then of course, there is Pelosi's failed candidate for Majority Leader, Jack Murtha - a longtime hawk who is pro-life and apparently against more stringent ethics rules for congress - not exactly a liberal, even when compared to Steny Hoyer.

But most disturbing to me in Redmond's whole litany is the notion that she might work to weaken Sarbanes-Oxley. Though the lords of capital may whine about it, the fact is that even that law will not eliminate much of the funny business that goes on on Wall Street. That this is an early piece of the Pelosi agenda - along with the more positive but safe pieces that she is pumping, like cheaper prescription drugs and a higher minimum wage - is an unnerving possibility.

As Pelosi has risen to power in the American political system, she will do some catering to the interests that rule over American politics. But given the Democratic majority that got her there, as well as her very left-leaning district, perhaps she is susceptible to some pressure from the left. Thus, it is a good sign that this pressure began as early as Nov. 9 in her district, when the new group Mandate for Peace rallied outside her San Francisco office.

As to whether the voters also gave Speaker Pelosi a mandate to weaken accounting rules for major corporations, we'll leave that for moneyman in chief Rahm Emanuel over at the DCCC to decide.

Monday, November 20, 2006

J.M. Coetzee Recommends: Blogging

Or so I glean from the following passage from the fabulous Foe:

"'For surely, with every day that passes, our memories grow less certain, as even a statue in marble is worn away by rain, till at last we can no longer tell what shape the sculptor's hand gave it...Is it not possible to manufacture paper and ink and set down what traces remain of these memories, so that they will outlive you; or, failing paper and ink, to burn the story upon wood, or engrave it upon rock? We may lack many things on this island, but certainly time is not one of them.'

I spoke fervently, I believe, but Cruso was unmoved. 'Nothing is forgotten,' said he; and then: 'Nothing I have forgotten is worth the remembering.'

'You are mistaken!' I cried. 'I do not wish to dispute, but you have forgotten much, and with every day that passes you forget more! There is no shame in forgetting: it is our nature to forget as it is our nature to grow old and pass away. But seen from too remote a vantage, life begins to lose its particularity. All shipwrecks become the same shipwreck, all castaways the same castaway, sunburnt, lonely, clad in the skins of the beasts he has slain. The truth that makes your story yours alone, that sets you apart from the old mariner by the fireside spinning yarns of sea-monsters and mermaids, resides in a thousand touches which today may seem of no importance, such as: When you made your needle (the needle you store in your belt), by what means did you pierce the eye? When you sewed your hat, what did you use for thread? Touches like these will one day persuade your countrymen that it is all true, every word, there was indeed once an island in the middle of the ocean where the wind blew and the gulls cried from the cliffs and a man named Cruso paced about in his apeskin clothes, scanning the horizon for a sail.'"

Betty Recommends: Russian Candy

According to textbooks, Native American tribes didn't like to waste any portian of the food they tracked down and killed. They used buffalo bones for tools, skin and fur for clothing, blood for ink, gallbladders and other unorthodox quantities for unorthodox purposes, maybe for art! More likely, out of strange animal organs, the kitchen commodity was born. Crate and Barrel, meet your maker.

Similarly, the Russians do not waste any part of the latter day candy wrapper. In Brighton Beach this Saturday, Betty and her friends spent one loving hour in a Russian supermarket, pawing and wowing at the individually wrapped candies that sold for just four dollars per pound.

This picture does not do justice to the care and detail inscribed in each candy wrapper, but it does give you a sense of how the wrapper is used to maximum effect, simply by not folding it over around the candy inside (the three pointy examples of this style pictured here are the horizontal squirrel, the girl in a yellow-green border, the bears, and the ox). This simple technique gives the wrapper an artistic identity of its own; it will not be shaped by chocolate, but chocolate will fit inside it! The wrapper material is also heavy, shiny but not glaring, and quite smooth between your fingers, a tactile delicacy in itself.

Betty's favorite candy wrappers included "Clumsy Bear" (pictured here, with turquoise triangles), "Beautiful Child" (not pictured, but the girl kind of looks like Suri Cruise in a bonnet), "Midnight Polar Bear" (the loping animal fits the wrapper lengthwise, very cool), and "A Night at the Ballet" (for you culture vultures).

Betty still has some candy left, so be sure to ask for a piece when you see her.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

selling french toast

this morning i ate my brunch next to a shaggy old man, who was studying the paper's week-ahead weather forecast, going over and over again the illustrations of suns and clouds, taking notes and commenting to himself. on my other side sat a couple with their daughter, almost four years old. my neighborhood diner services a clientele of nicely triangular character: the families intersect with the bums and the hipsters.

i tried to mind my own business, to read a hardcover copy of elizabeth costello by balancing the ketchup on one side and the sugar on another, but the pages kept slipping out from the hold of the condiments, returning to each other, resisting the split. choosing to focus on marmelading my toast rather than fight my book, i turned attention towards the trio near me.

the mother encouraged her daughter to order french toast. "eww mommy." "but have you ever tried it? it's just like a waffle, but only better." better for you? daughter refused. "so you want pancakey?" before their waitress returned, she tried again to persuade her daughter to select the french toast, but had no success. father ordered her multi-grain pancakes. the mother continued to speak of every food item with this kind of diminutive language: "want some eggy? can i have some toasty?" even to her husband: "how's your juicey?"
her daughter refused the offer of "eggy", but mother speared some on her fork, pointed it in daughter's direction, looked away, and said "i hope no one steals my eggy" and, playing into the reverse psychology, daughter took on role of egg thief, biting the food off the fork. "where'd my eggy go?!" daughter opens her mouth and shows mom the partially chewed remains. "oh there it is!" haha ha.

i thought of work, and my own silly tactics of tricking my students into doing things that they don't think they want to do. that is, any kind of work. is that all my teaching is? a sale by trickery, a lesson in the form of a game? it's a strange alternative to coercion, this means of getting folks to open up. needless to say, the same play would not work with my book.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Betty Recommends: Movies by Mail

We interrupt this viewing of the wonderful documentary Paris is Burning to appreciate a service that may change civilization. And while we don't want to shill for a company in this forum (which we also hope will change civilization) (I really am writing this in the bathroom), we must say that movies by mail is a palpable leap forward for humankind.

Just think of the education and the delight you can have at home with movies by mail, with no one else needing to know what's inside that rosy rectangular valentine you just got! Like the train station paperback, the film has been democratized by an affordable service (and huge group of people) you can tap into from a public library for just ten dollars a month.

This blog tends to be about culture and sports and politics and cities - we love civilization, we love innovation, we love compassionate progress that connects. We love, and hope to continue loving, the unconditionally conditional facts with which modernity surrounds us daily, only to sweep those facts away later for something, we hope, more just. Now back to the ball.

Another Brown U. Literary Moment

[Below: Rushdie, with certified MacArthur genius Colson Whitehead, at a literary gathering in 2004. Photo courtesy of Koko the Clown.]

Upon reading the post below about Orhan Pamuk, my friend Inwood Ingrid sent me the following email yesterday of her own amusing experience at Brown's "Strange Times, My Dear" literary festival - a gathering of proudly persecuted artistes at which Pamuk and the famously oppressed Salman Rushdie participated:

This is my Salman Rushdie moment of the day. It occurred half an hour ago at the Rushdie book signing.

I asked him, "So, when does your next movie come out?" Caught off guard by my question, he paused for a moment to recover. After briefly recuperating he told me he had just finished filming it and it will be released next March 2007. Then he mentioned the name of the movie. Of course, I don't remember it.

Meeting with Rushdie by no way beats [Betty and Bimbo]'s blog entry. I guess it could have if [my friend] would have had the courage to follow up my question with his own: "So, how did you get to go inside the Playboy mansion?"Unfortunately, he was standing next to an elderly Indian woman. It would have been much too inappropriate.

Indeed. When I met Rushdie (see photo above), at a reading he participated in to benefit the anti-Bush political action committee Downtown for Democracy in 2004, he was with the most beautiful woman ever. I don't know who she was.

Betty Recommends: Free Motion

My mom's wonderful personal trainer, Brett, is moving to Malaysia, and she's so bummed! Since she started working out with him about a year ago, Brett has made my mom so happy with his sane fitness advice, sense of humor, and encouragement.

Luckily for us, we can keep up with Brett, even in his jet-setting ways, through his blog, Free Motion. I particularly enjoyed his most recent post on the unforseen perils of yoga, particularly some of the "edgy pathological euphoria seeking yuppies" you might run into on the path to bliss.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Orhan Pamuk Does Not Read This Blog

Betty and Bimbo's ace duo of correspondents in Providence, L. & B. Hun, saw Orhan Pamuk speak yesterday, then filed this report:

"Orhan Pamuk only writes by hand. Once he tried to write on a computer, but said he had to stop because looking at the computer screen was so boring, 'like looking into an aquarium with only one big, boring fish inside.'"

There are some things Pamuk won't write by hand, however. When B. Hun asked him to autograph a page in the middle of "The New Life" with the inscription "I hope you are enjoying this book so far!," the author declined.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Gift And a Curse

[First in a series on The History and Philosophy of Adult Contemporary Music]

Because the 10-year-olds of the early 1990's had neither taste nor the attention span to see through marketing trends, they purchased some of the most sonically objectionable, yet culturally fascinating, music ever sold to mass audiences. Looking back, we feel lucky to have been briefly waylaid by our limited horizons at the birthplace of a musical genre that will outlive us all.

Casually calculating and sometimes fun, Adult Contemporary Music was born in our backyard. Our first tape was white rapper Snow's "12 Inches of Snow," but by 1992 we also owned some Bobby McFerrin. Facts like these should be embarassing, but frankly we're more embarassed for our elders and wisers. At the time, it sure seemed like everyone was listening to the same cassettes we were. The radio played "Don't Worry Be Happy" and our grown-up uncles and babysitters knew all the words and whistling solos, too.

Thus, our wayward, infantile tastes, coupled with a couple bucks from our parents, led us to the tail end of a genre we shouldn't have tripped over, but did: it was the flamingo-hued slow motion of the ocean in Christopher Cross's "Sailing"; last night's half-remembered, breezy dreamscape of Madonna's "La Isla Bonita"; island-hopping with the Beach Boys in "Kokomo" (someone recently told us that there's no such island: Kokomo is a small town in Indiana); Tom Cruise brooding us down on the cover of the Cocktail soundtrack. These songs sold visions of Caribbean paradises to audiences all over the rugged United States, and for a while there, implanted in us a desire for upper-crust luxury that would usurp sex as the key to all happiness promised by popular music. Let's call this music Tropicaluxurism.

Tropicaluxurism is a unique vision of desire in pop music that could only have sprung from the 1980s, when yuppies were born and leisure became a staple of the responsible breadwinner's profile. Because in the 1980s sex was not longer taboo and drugs were only exciting if they were expensive, new and pathbreaking yuppie audiences required pop fantasies that differed from earlier staple subjects like dancing, hallucinating, twisting, discoing, protesting, and chasing spirituality. What aura would fill the fantasy void?

Or, What to get a world that has it all? In the 1980s people were having children later and making more money than ever. For their money and their eyes, VH1 was being born, but Tropicaluxurism wasn't hatched overnight.

A careful reckoning with the zeitgeist by a stable of starpushers and acts, hungry for a comeback (like the Beach Boys) or just catching fire (like Madonna, Snow, and UB40) had to boil before the bongos broke out. Adult contemporary music is nothing if not pre-calculated on the shallowest level of social subconscious desire.

So we all knew money was the sexiest girl in the world in the 1980s. But what symptom of money would hook the yuppies and the yup-struck masses?, adult contemporary spinsters asked their oracles, as pop music threatened to splinter into a million niche markets.

Then, like Columbus after months on the unforgiving Atlantic, they finally hit on something nice and green: What 1980s audiences needed was a music that sang about luxury vacations in the Caribbean the way Chuck Berry had sung about cars and everybody else had sung about girls. Like the American continent before it, the matter was settled.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Tuesday after the Thumping

Well, I've had a week to decompress since the election, and I'm definitely coming down from the high. Granted, that high was induced by a combination of 14 straight hours of work, more Election Day conversations with octogenarian voters than I can count, and a bottle of Andre, but it was also the result of the 6 Democratic seat pickups (and no losses) in the Senate, and 28-seat gains by Dems in the House.

The high now subsides as I watch the battle between two fairly conservative Democrats, John Murtha and Steny Hoyer, for Majority Leader; as Joe Lieberman, seeking attention or apologies, threatens to caucus with the GOP and thus tip control in the Senate from the Dems; and as it sinks in that my favored candidate for President in '08, Senator Russ Feingold, has decided not to run.

At least Murtha has made a name for himself of late not for the hawkish foreign policy views he's held in Congress for 30 years, but on his belief that we cannot continue to "stay the course" in Iraq. I heard him on the radio this morning explaining that the US spends $11 Million per hour on the Iraq war, every single day, which is just a terrifying number. And apparently, Speaker-to-be Pelosi is putting her weight pretty heavily behind Murtha - which is a good sign.

But with this Democratic sweep last week, what we're getting is sort of the best we could hope for - two years of gridlock. Perhaps the Dems will be able to push some legislation onto Bush's desk that he'll have to let by - Stem Cell research, minimum wage, and the like - but remember, even some of the seeming no-brainers can be filibustered in the Senate.

The biggest upsides are: 1) Assuming Lieberman shuts his fucking mouth and stays put, Bush will have to seriously moderate his nominations for judges and the like, as they will have to face Democratic-controlled committees. and 2) Even though many of the new Dems elected to the House and Senate are fairly conservative (like North Carolina's Heath Shuler, the onetime college football star and NFL dropout; and Brad Ellsworth, a longtime sherriff in Indiana), a lot of even the conservative ones were essentially running against the Iraq war. So, although I don't expect major changes on Iraq right away, I think Bush will be forced to make some changes.

So, we'll see where things go. But in any case, there's not really any time to rest - those of us on the left have to keep building our movement to hold these crazy politicians accountable.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Photo of the Day

Maturity Pangs

I got a my college alumni in the mail yesterday. Usually, this publication does not take me to emotions beyond mild curiosity - and even then I'm more interested in the writers, the design, and the attitude than what the articles or the lives of unmemorable or unknown classmates might be like.

But this time something was different. For many little reasons impossible to untangle from each other or to put in sequence, I felt something deeper when I saw this issue on my kitchen table. It wasn't nostalgia, but it was related. It was fondness and appreciation, and cosmic gratitute. I felt so happy to have made the friends I did at college, to have had the experiences I had, and to have learned the life and other lessons - ecstatic, trying, and painful - that I have tried not to forget entirely.

To most people my magazine revelations must seem like old hat, but I had honestly never felt this way before. I can be immature when it comes to things that are hard for me, and college was one of the hardest things for me that there was. I liked to dismiss the whole experience as a wash-out, when in fact all evidence points to the contrary! I'm only seeing this now.

What caused this pang of sense? Was it the glacial settling in of big life changes, or having a meaningful job, or all the moving around I've done that's now stopped for some time?

When I was mulling this over this morning, the symbol that kept coming to mind was my 2004 classmate, Willie Mays (he got an honorary degree). When I walked right by him after the big ceremony, I wanted to go shake his hand and tell him how much I admired him, but I didn't. I used to think of this moment as a symbol of opportunities lost, but I don't look at it so tragically anymore. In fact, I just feel happy I got to walk by him, and that I got to see him throw his graduation cap to the cheering crowd after he got his diploma and then walked back to his seat next to the artists and economists and scientists. I am happy that my family got to see him, and that everybody there got to see him. Seeing Willie Mays, like seeing Bill Clinton and Tobias Wolf and Samantha Power and Wilco and Lucinda Williams and Peter Davis, all in a warm crowd, was one of the best parts of college for me, and that I could ever think college was a total disaster before just goes to show how depressed I was. I will always feel differently - and a little better, whenever I get my magazine, or when I think of my past.

Say hey!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Daffy Duck Recommends: The French

Greetings from Chicago everyone. I hope everyone is having a good time.

I don't know how many French people read our blog, but I hope they can agree when I say that French men are sleazebags--and to wonderful effect! As evidence I present you with two works that prove this to be entertainingly true: The Thief's Journal by Jean Genet, and Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless. I recently read the former and watched the latter, and I was awed by the similarity of their respective anti-heroes' brands of sleaze--so much so that I hastily decided it was a matter of national character.

The Thief's Journal
is about a dandy thief thieving his way around Europe, describing his exploits in the most flowery, cranial prose that side of the pond. It's awesome. In Breathless an incompetent thief and slacker-about-town falls in love with a New York girl with an awesome haircut and a bad accent and they have a cool adventure. Cool, adventure! Did you know that you can just come into a hotel and snag the keys to a perfect stranger's room from right underneath the concierge's nose? Or that, if you are in need of a Ford convertible in Paris all you have to do is follow the driver to the bathroom, bat him in the neck while he's at the urinal, and swipe the keys? Life in Paris must revolve around whether or not you have keys, but I think you also have to be incredibly handsome to pull off this kind of stuff. Here's where my endorsement for the beautiful Jean-Paul Belmondo comes in. What a hunk! There's hardly an American stud in movies today who can compete with this flip, vain, inconsiderate, lousy, mouthy wonder of a man. I think Salt-n-Pepa wrote a song about him a few years ago or so.

The fellow in The Thief's Journal pulls off the same kind of stunts--albeit less focused on absconding with keys (though there's some of that too)--with the same breezy, sleazy ease. Both the movie and the book have a lot going on that you'll just have to find out for yourself, but I recommend them together. You'll be shocked at what a French thief can do--and how sexily he can do it--when he's set his mind to it.

I would like to know if there are any stories about French women who are thieves. I recently saw Marie Antoinette, and she's flip enough to be French, but she's not actually French. Though I recommend you see that movie--it's fun to watch dress-up movies--I reckon I don't think it was very good.

That's my recommendation for now. I promise, in the words of Michael Jackson, you'll be struck by some smooth criminals.

Mrs. Y, You've Got a Lovely Daughter

Betty had a wonderful experience at the Duane Reade on Delancey and Essex today, all thanks to an employee named Jenny Y.

First, Jenny directed a still sick and snotty (and pale as a ghost - scary!) Betty to the water section. Next, she did not even chuckle when Betty dropped two of her five waters on the counter. She had such a friendly, soothing voice as she scanned the waters and asked Betty how her day was going. Then, when Betty couldn't find her Duane Reade card and was frantically tearing through all the useless plastic in her overstuffed (but not with money - we're talking discount cards from the Vitamin Shoppe here) wallet, Jenny Y. said "Don't worry, there's no rush, there's no line behind you." What grace! What helpfulness! What a wonderful employee, and probably woman!

Girls as nice as her are something rare. Thank you, Jenny Y., for making the world a little nicer.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Work, Romance and Relating

Betty found this column by Stephanie Coontz (from Tuesday's New York Times) refreshing in its old wisdom: building all kinds of relationships with people is great! Don't bowl alone! Shower affection, secrets and snuggles on your friends like nobody's business! And for goodness' sakes, get out more. Coontz's thesis:

It has only been in the last century that Americans have put all their emotional eggs in the basket of coupled love. Because of this change, many of us have found joys in marriage our great-great-grandparents never did. But we have also neglected our other relationships, placing too many burdens on a fragile institution and making social life poorer in the process.

Love thy neighbor! This is a difficult, but extremely worthy goal, in Betty's estimation. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Betty Recommends: Health

Being cooped up this past few days has really made Betty appreciate life and work and family and friends and Bimbo and comfy beds! She is on her way up and out, but it's going to be another day or two before all is back, or better.

She missed a trip to Seattle and to San Francisco to see Nancy D. and Aaron the Hun, which would be the worst part, if the worst part wasn't already feeling like crap.

Here's to our health!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Betty and Bimbo Recommend: The Price is Right

We have the same horrible, tedious, headachey virus this week, so we've been laying low and hitting the couch with force. Is it surprising that one of the only shows to perk us up was "The Price is Right"?!

B&B agree: It's such a relentlessly positive program. Even when people lose, they still get to bounce and down for ten minutes on television as their friends cheer them on, and they never seem nervous, just psyched. And even when they can't guess the price of the dog comb or the toaster that also cooks eggs, Bob Barker always pats them on the back and says "Well, I hope you had fun." PLUS they get to spin the wheel and maybe appear in the showcase showdown (again this is even if you lose)!

There isn't much to "report" back about a show that neither of us had seen in years. The colors and costumes haven't changed, though some of the prizes (a portable DVD player, a trailer?!) have. And some of the people still need help spinning that big wheel. But when it comes to fun, this show doesn't discriminate. Other shows may try to doll themselves up as news or knowledge-building or whatever, but on "The Price is Right" the only message is "Have your pet spayed or neutered" and anyone really can win it all. One of the most transparent, and best, shows on those airwaves.

P.S. Watching from home is a blast. Kind of like watching football, but you can see the people's faces at the same time as you absorb the colors and the noise and the sheen. Bimbo's convinced he would have won the car, or at least spun the big wheel, had his name been called; many of his guesses were remarkably close.

Monday, November 06, 2006

the sound and the furry

hello darlings.
so many postings from so very many distant places! venus infers betty & bimbo are not only extremely popular but have wisely cultivated poetically sensible relations.

autumn is mild down south, and v. insists in wearing light jackets in the daytime (night-time, marylinwisdom has taught us, is chanel no. 5). though it is our humble opinion that it would rather befit v. to do the zebra coat instead.

which reminds v. of a violent protest encountered a month or so ago at a vernissage in the local art museum.
v, donning roommate g's fourteen-headed (and evidently faux) raccoon stole was interpellated by an underagëdly drunk, morbidly obese and (judging both by the tone of her voice and size of the pearls) quite obviously northeasternly privileged female, who threatened to share her dinner's contents with us. "you disgust me" said she. v, dignified as usual, pointedly responded thus: "oh no, sweetheart, it is you who disgust me. do you know anything, you person?"
what a complete hypocrite! we couldn't help but think that the proto-cetacean had singlehandedly salvaged the meat industry from the irrationally high concentration of vegans in the research triangle area, many of them present at the event, and who invariably had offered ravishing praise for my accoutrement. thank god for vegans, always so open to the disgustingly sublime!
more disturbing was, of course, the type of rhetoric used, i totally perceived this as not too well-disguised queer bashing. these empty-headed peta types! save the chinchillas and dalmatians! skin the homos instead!

more on the furry side. v. has been feeling slightly monarchic of late. of course, v's not thinking of that awful kirstendunst facefuck flick. way to go sophia. it's all about lizzy's mink thing in that wonderful "the queen." i think of the opening titles--how corny the blue looks, but how utterly regal the mink is! delicious script and strong direction and acting. and i doubt anyone comes out of the movie feeling but utterly republican (in the good sense, this is), the film ended up playing as pellucid as a cultural studies textbook, but still allowed for some sympathy towards lizzy. stephen frears, he's so smart.

v. has officially opened applications from around the globe for the role of submissive, rich husband.
the position does not necessarily involve any physical contact whatsoever, just constant funnelling of currency to v's account.
interested parties should send in an application package by December 31. email betty & bimbo for more details.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Hope in Providence

Koko and Betty are talking to voters in Providence this weekend, where there are several close races, including an important U.S. Senate race and a controversial referendum question on a new Indian Casino.

At this morning's rally with Senate Candidate Sheldon Whitehouse and other Rhode Island Democratic Party leaders, we were happy to be, as Koko said "non-partisan and above the fray," especially when a few ill-fated cheerleading routines were attempted by awkward politicians ("VOTE for DEMocrats! clap. clap. clap-clap-clap" was the one we loved to hate). But we loved Barack Obama's compelling positivity and presence, and the sounds of democracy, autumn, coffee, and U2.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Betty Recommends: J.M. Coetzee

I am not sure what to say about J.M. Coetzee except that he writes better than just about anyone writing novels in English today. His novels are all so different from each other - I'm on to my fourth one now, the sort-of memoir "Boyhood" - and it's nothing at all like the others I've read ("Disgrace, "Elizabeth Costello", "Slow Man") which are also nothing like each other.

What's so crazy about his books is that the style is so masterful, unencumbered and clear, that it almost distracts you from how masterful the construction and the storytelling are, which in turn may distract you from how wonderful the stories are.

Lately he's turned to writing argumentatively in his novels, and it's fun to watch how the arguments he spells out mask other arguments he makes with style and story. For example, "Slow Man" is a novel about a man who by the end is determined to prove that not everyone's life, no matter its dramas and comedic elements, is fit to be the subject of a novel. I would recommend "Elizabeth Costello" as a first Coetzee if you've never read him before - not because it's simple, but because it's so full of experimentation. "Disgrace" could be a great movie, but one that would need to make up in visuals what it loses in Coetzee's tantalizing language.

p.s. He also kind of looks like a friend of many contributors to this site, Dr. Leonard Keilson!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Greetings From the 'Bu

Number of Coke Zeros drunk this year: 5,437
Number of pieces of cheesecake bought at Coffee Bean for the homeless: 4
Number of Anne Hathaway rejections: 1
Number of Evidence Midterms Failed: 1
Number of trips to Ralph's at 2 a.m. for frozen pizzas: 59

Going to Law School: Priceless

A Very Lower East Side Halloween

Our "Brokeback Zombies" costume didn't pan out, so instead Betty opted for some Halloween "bling-bling" from a curbside card table in Chelsea. "Light up New York! Light up the Night!", the friendly neon peddlers cried. For herself, Betty selected a pink and silver plastic mask. For Bimbo, some battery powered devil horns that "bewitched" people into giving us compliments.

As we crossed Union Square into the Village, one woman dressed as a sparkly (but not slutty) devil from red head to scarlet toe literally screamed with joy when she saw us. Then she asked us to direct her to the bling, please.

Near Astor Place, a grizzled hunchback pointed Bimbo out to his friends and screamed incomprehensibly.

Thus, while Betty and Bimbo hauled in more kudos than candy, they did not neglect the sugar whole hog, and got to Tastee D-Lite before the special (haunted) sprinkles ran out.

Betty was in line at the bank the next morning when the Halloween hangover arrived in the form of an overheard cell phone conversation. "Yes, hello officer? There is a bat on the sidewalk in front of 312 Delancey Street. A B-A-T. He's flapping his wings but he can't move. Please send somebody down here right away. One-zero-zero-zero-two."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Chicago Ramblings

You can add Chicago to the above list of blogging cities. Glad that you enjoyed the Windy City so much. The Bean rules, it's true. I work near it and some days I take my hot beef sandwich to Millenium Park and stare at its awesomeness.

Just wanted to point out that Chicago has quietly taken over the claim of America's most successful sports city (sans the Cubs and Blackhawks). Why anyone would hire Sweet Lou over a Northwestern grad in Girardi is beyond me. Joe was perfect for this gig.

I can tell you that there are roughly 100,000,000,000 Cubs fans living in Lincoln Park that would have doubled their Friday night intake of Miller Lite to celebrate such a hire. But, alas, the Cubs are dumb. Apparently the only thing that the Chicago Tribune does worse then printing newspapers is running baseball teams.

But, on the bright side, Chicago boasts the White Sox AND the Bears. The Bears are just such a loveable team with defense and running the ball and comeback kid in Grossman. Their only loss this season will be against the Patriots on the road!

As for the White Sox, I think they're another team it's tough not to respect. Except for the fact that they swept the Red Sox two years ago, and broke my heart when they beat us in 18 innings. I was sitting in the Upper Deck, Francona brought on Seanez and I had a feeling it was over... And cutting off beer sales in the 7th inning of what turns out to be an 18 inning game is not cool.

Alec Baldwin: A Belated Appreciation

Growing up as I did in the 1990s (a decade I hope we'll all touch on more in this forum), I inherited the knowledge that Alec Baldwin was a hack. He made ridiculous movies like "Malice" and "The Shadow". He wasn't a leading hunk somehow, but he sure acted like a star. He always seemed to be trying too hard. He hosted "Saturday Night Live" about a a bajillion times. He handed out Oscars and read from the telepromter. He sometimes inflected his words like a lamer Orson Welles. He went on Larry King Live to talk about the Democratic party. He got tangled up in nasty legal battles with Kim Basinger over cars and Beverly Hills homes and their daughter, Ireland. He had brothers.

Then something changed, although at first it didn't seem like anything at all was changing. Somewhere around the turn of the century - maybe 2001, when he narrated "The Royal Tennenbaums" - Alec Baldwin became quietly ubiquitous. He still did "SNL", but he also did primetime. He began showing up as a sideman in big movies like "The Aviator," but you couldn't call him a character actor, unless the character he was playing was "Alec Baldwin". He played silly people. He gained weight, but his performances became lighter, and better, too. It's comforting to see him in movies now - in many ways, Alec Baldwin IS the movies, now. His presence reassures us that we are being entertained, that we have come to the right place.

The lightening of the irreplaceable, unmistakable face and voice of Alec Baldwin is the opposite process to that undergone by Bill Murray, who must work less to boot. I haven't yet seen Alec Baldwin's new show with Tina Fey, "30 Rock", but I can't wait.