Sunday, September 30, 2007

October 1st: Enter Football Weather

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too...
- Keats, "To Autumn"

Here in the Northeast, yesterday marked the beginning of (American) Football Weather atmospherically, and today marks the beginning of it symbolically.

October is one of Betty and Bimbo's most favorite months ever. Betty likes that the entire month has a clear trajectory, carrying us straight through to Halloween, with nothing boring to slow the fire-burnished trek. Like February and May, Betty and Bimbo consider October to be an "express month," connecting us to a new psychic place in the year, but still fun in its own right.

Betty also likes the pumpkin colors that the leaves and the early night sky announce like a preview of "Bimbo O'Lanterns" and the sugary candy that takes your senses temporarily away from the cold. Reese's peanut butter cups fulfill both of these duties simultaneously.

Bimbo likes the chill and the dark, the bustle, and the "sweet memory of autumn depression" that comes later.

Please submit your thoughts on the season. And break out those oversized sweaters. Ah, sweaters - like the aforementioned sugary candy - so comforting, so pleasurable, and yet sometimes just a little painful against the nerves!

Secret Languanges

Betty has been reading lots of Enlightenment thinkers who, anticipating Chomsky somewhat, dreamed of a universal language that would make manifest the equality of all men. Is it a sign, or a similie, for our sinfulness that we all speak different languages? Is esperanto the way to undo the folly of Babel?

Quite independent of this Betty's off-beat musing on the subject, this blog's Washington correspondant, Moo, weighed in:

As you well know, I like nothing better than to be surrounded by writers and people who read and care about books and recently I got to meet and talk with one of my favorite contemporary essayists, Richard Rodriguez. His first book, Hunger of Memory deals with the issue of private vs. public language. He is the son of Mexican immigrants, and writes that while his private life language was Spanish, the language of his public life in school, playground, and the streets was English. In a similar vein, Jorge Luis Borges also wrote that he thought that his family and his English nanny just spoke to him in different "ways" before he became aware that they were speaking different languages.

Since Betty and I speak different languages, and my other daughter, Little Hun, speaks even more, I am interested in this question both from a linguistic and private point of view. What is our private language? Our lingua-franca is English, but with some Spanish and Spanglish thrown in for good measure.

I am an interpreter, and interpreting for the Chinese Supreme Court Justice this morning was incredibly difficult into Spanish, but for some reason when I had to go into English it became much easier. Odd, isn't it?

This blog has many bilingual and multilingual contributors, and we encourage everyone to weigh in with their thoughts.

P.S. Just to set the record straight, No, Betty and Bimbo are NOT getting married! They do not WANT to get married. So let's just quash that rumor right here. They still live happily together and with their chi, with whom they share a sinful lifestyle and a private language.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

dealing with rude people

(From the annals of miss manners.)

Dear Miss Manners,

Lately, I have come under great stress at work. I extended an invitation to a speaker that most of my colleagues profoundly dislike. He has in the past shown a very authoritarian streak. He relishes in insulting our bosses. He is avowedly a thug, not that different from the people who run this country. The national media hates him, but isn't it precisely the greatest type of publicity a liberal institution like mine wants?
I've started getting all sorts of nasty emails and some of my bosses and friends got upset and started calling me up to find out why I did this. Now the whole world knows about this affair and I can't dis-invite him without making a fool of myself.
Ms Manners, what would you do in my position?

University President in Distress

Gentle Reader,

Just go ahead with the talk and introduce him as a petty dictator.


Friday, September 21, 2007

lost in translation

Walking through Shinjuku with some random date, talking about the weather and making plans.
Being far, far away, not here, not there.

And hearing over a sendensha's loudspeaker, in broken Japanese, someone screaming hello.

"My name is Alberto Fujimori. Thank you for your hospitality."

Feeling weak to the knees, not knowing what to do or say, feeling flustered.

Wanting to scream to the world: This man is a murderer, do not believe what he says. He does not deserve your hospitality nor understanding.

Feeling powerless, embarrassed by this sheer abuse, sensing my racing pulse and a stream of tears coming up.

Turning around, clearing my throat and saying "I'm sorry, I think I need a drink."

The Happiest Place on Earth

Today Betty had to go to City Hall to take care of some business. Expecting a blah and beaureaucratic affair, she lacked any idea what would actually reveal itself inside.

The South Side of City Hall, where the Clerk's office resides, is the Happiest Place on Earth, or at least in Manhattan. Inside, everyone is smiling and many of them are dressed up and hair-sculpted and clutching hands. Families gather around, friends hugs, kiss, squeal and slap backs, and over in a corner couples in jeans and t-shirts fill out applications for marriage licenses or domestic partnership certification. It's all so giddy, but also so simple, so civic, so communal and so public. It's basically a distillation of everything we love about strangers, spontenaeity, and New York City.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Why Facebook is Fun

Francois Truffaut once said that the Cinema was like a powerful train running through the night. It is always there and always chugging on, dynamic and yet reliable, in motion and yet always accessible when you need it.

Betty thinks that Facebook is also a great train! Checking it for - and finding! - friend updates is like receiving e-mail you didn't know you had. And your friends and frenemies are always there and ready to entertain you - even if they are sleeping a million miles away when you click on their links and wrinkle your nose at their choice of inspirational quotes.*

Facebook is just like the school yearbook, but it comes out everyday. And you don't have to zone out through many, or any, classes to get it. Does life really get any better? If only Facebook came shrink-wrapped in factory-smelling plastic that you had to peel away before entering. You ARE encouraged to sign your friends' pages, which adds another nice, start-of-summer touch.

Does it work for dating? Is it better than MySpace? Can you use it as a resume? Can Facebook groups make a real impact on anything? These questions I can't answer. It certainly LOOKS better than MySpace and has a less annoyingly Lockeian name.

*Lay off the Emerson, guys!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Now Blogging on all things PVD: The Daily Dose

A few friends of Koko's have started a new Providence, RI - centric blog, inspired by such local yokel blogs as the Gothamist in NYC, called the Providence Daily Dose. Because the contributors to the Dose are largely an unemployed and hip bunch, the site has a lot of good content on goings on in the art and political worlds.

A current sample of the offerings: Speculation on a movie deal between Robert Deniro and former mayor (and federal inmate) Buddy Cianci, commentary on the "Boobtube battle" between President Bush and Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed; and, in less local news, a notice on the upcoming Sex Pistols reunion.

Please read the Daily Dose and make my friends feel important.

Friday, September 14, 2007

In Praise of Bad Weather


It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

- Wallace Stevens, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"

A longtime bookworm, plopper, and purveyor of social awkwardness, Betty really loves bad weather. But with whom to celebrate the rain, the muck, the snow, the falling ice? It's a stigmatized inclination people think you need to be coached out of.

But Betty waits for the dark skywater and prepares for it like it were and old friend coming to visit. When it's foul outside, neglected inner terrain (the whole house, the bookshelf, the mind) deepens and expands with possibilities not imagined while you were out under the sun.

And Betty is not writing this only because the Yankees are losing in the sixth inning now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hugo is Boss

This is Hugo, the toothless 13-year old Life Muse of Betty and Bimbo's friends, Jackie and Sarah. Hugo is the Platonic ideal of Beauty made Manifest on Earth. He also used to be Cocoa's brother!

Despite their current status as "exes", Hugo and Cocoa still enjoy a good mutual sniff and trade looks of knowing regard when they get together. So what if someone might cross an invisible boundary and earn a swift headbutt to the snout? The two cuties are still soul twins, the yin and the yang of canine "person"ality.

Cocoa may be the prettiest little brown flower in town, but Hugo can take all manner of crazytime from his sister-from-another-mother and maintain that silly yet angelic composition whole hog. Above all, it is Hugo's inner peace that makes him Cocoa's perfect foil, a thing of beauty, a joy forever.

[Above: Hugo responds to Albert Einstein.]

Monday, September 10, 2007

Special Art Dispatch from Philadelphia, PA

by B&B Roving Correspondent, Moo

Betty's Moo drove to Philadelphia on a beautiful summertime Sunday with the very hansdome and charming Chilean Cultural Attache, Christian Campos.

The purpose of the pilgrimmage was to see Bimbo's Moo's play, "The Emperor Jones", starring Bimbo's Godmoo, the extraordinarily amazing Kate Valk.

Moo was stunned and awed, the production reminded Moo of the purified renderings plays directed by Peter Brooks. It was gorgeous in a very distilled way. Godmoo Valk was astonishing in her incarnation of a black man as imagined by a white man, and in more ways than one, the White Man's creation. The sheer evil that racism creates was scarily alive in Godmoo Valk's brilliant performance as directed/conceived by Bimbo's own Moo.

The character of Brutus Jones and the two person nature of the mise-en-scene reminded Betty's Moo of the Idi Amin movie.

Betty's Moo sat with Bimbo's Moo and they highmindedly discussed THE AMERICAN THEATER. No, they really didn't. They talked about the kiddies and the grandpup. :)

Then we all excitedly marched downstairs to hug and kiss and congratulate the astonishing and beautiful Godmoo Valk. Dad Valk was there and he recognized Betty's Moo as such when Godmoo introduced her as Bimbo's girlfriend's Moo and as "part of the family". That made Betty's Moo feel all warm and fuzzy, then she and Christian drove home chatting all the way about "life's rich pageant" until Moo got home to Po who always makes her feel warm and fuzzy and a good day was had by all.

Bravo, New York Times Interactive Feature!

If anyone here is NOT confused about what is going on in Iraq, I applaud you. But for most of us, it is hard to understand what daily life can be like in this tumultuous country, never mind the ever-shifting political, cultural, religious, and geographic alliances. In a wonderful example of multimedia reporting, the NYT has compiled a portrait of life in Baghdad, neighborhood by neighborhood, complete with maps, neighborhood profiles, ethnic makeups, videos, and photos. Check it out, and let us know your impressions, if you like.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Having a Wild Weekend

Cocoa and Betty had a grand day out today! From 9 to 5 they were on the go, navigating, searching, heads turning and bobbing with wonder and relaxation. Now they wish that filling the days with faces and walks and sights and parks was their job. They are good at it!

In the morning the duo explored Brooklyn's Prospect Park, which was full of babies and sunbathers and barbeques. They lay on Cocoa's red blanket and Betty read books while Cocoa pretended to be the New York Public Library lion, or perhaps the Sphinx with a full snout. We bumped into Holly on her bike, which was a happy surprise! Then Jackie and Sarah, Cocoa's wonderful first parents, came by with delcious mini-plumbs and Hugo, their beautiful 13-year-old chihuahua, and Cocoa's stepbrother. Hugo is a truly special dog, with Hollywood good looks and the body of a sleek yet furry seal. Cocoa and Hugo reunited cordially with sniffs and trots, but then the jealous and sensitive Cocoa tried to head-butt Hugo (who is a gentleman) and they went their separate ways...for now...

Then Meg and Betty and Co went for huge burritos in Park Slope, which is such a strange neighborhood, feeling as far away from Manhattan as Cleveland or suburban California or Portland, Maine, is. The feeling we get there is pleasant but stifling.

Then Betty and Cocoa came home to plop down and watch the Yankees in Kansas City, which also kind of looks like Park Slope from here! Perhaps there are fewer people wearing glasses and summer dresses in Kansas City. But as weirded out as we can be by the Slope, there's no denying that today was pretty much the definition of a happy and fulfilling Saturday in September.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Yankee Squirrel, the Year of the White Guy Pitcher, etc.

Hey Sports Fans!

The Yankee squirrel was back last night, and boy did he bring an attitude, although he could be a she. How do you tell with squirrels?

One can only assume that the little brown and grey cutie who scurried up and down Yankee Stadium's bright yellow right field foul pole like Spiderman last night was the same creature who chilled atop the pole last week - for an entire game - and in so doing spurred the Yankees on to victory over the detested Red Sox.

As Larry David and Brad Pitt and the Magic Squirrel looked on, and Maddox played distractedly with Spike Lee's little one, the Yankees played unstoppabley against wild card rival Seattle last night. A-Rod hit one into the upper deck that took all of four seconds to clear the air, Posada hit two that were a little less spectacular, and Cano went 4 for 4. Wang, as usual, was workmanlike and excellent. He has the most wins in the league, and usually doesn't get this kind of run support.

Bimbo has christened this season "The Year of the White Guy Pitcher" because of outstanding showings by Brad Penney, Josh Beckett, et al. Betty begs to differ, and thinks that Wang and that Latino guy on the Angels both have a real shot at the AL Cy Young. Even if the Red Sox do end up dousing themselves in champagne this October.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

This Kind of Hypocrisy: Not Just Cause for Resignation

Apparently, there is no worse crime a US Senator can commit than solicit sex in an airport bathroom -- and the reason is because airport bathrooms are not unisex. Soliciting sex in an airport bathroom means that you actually want to have sex with someone who has the same sexual organs (gasp) as yourself. And that is unforgivable.

The resignation of Senator Larry Craig today is not just comeuppance for a man with anti-gay politics -- it is a sad commentary on the anti-gay politics of our country and of Sen. Craig's Republican Party.

It is sad that so many people continue to repress or hide their sexuality, and that someone like Craig would have to do so for political reasons. It is sad that his party threw him to the wolves for no more than tapping feet with an undercover police officer in an airport stall. And it is sad that Sen. Craig will likely go to his grave vehemently denying to the world what is plain for everyone to see - that he is interested in sex with men.

Those who are gleeful at this turn of events may only miss the larger picture --that using homosexual behavior as a cause for torpedoing a political career will inevitably do more harm than good to gay rights in America.

So now, Idaho's conservative Republican Governor will appoint another most likely anti-gay politician to replace Sen. Craig. And if that one is straight rather than closeted, will he be less of a "hypocrite" and less deserving of our scorn? I say no.

The whole point of what we want is for people NOT to be judged for their personal sexual behavior, right? Larry Craig may not have gotten that - he did, after all, once call Bill Clinton a "naughty boy" -- but whether or not he understood it doesn't matter.