Monday, March 31, 2008

So Much More Than Just Auto-Fun of the Day :: 3-31-2008

While writing yesterday's Top Ten, I often got stuck spending valuable time going through the multitude of posts I'd already written about my relationship w/this city, and consequently re-working the new post to avoid repeating myself. It took forever and I wasn't happy with the result. Also: every time I trek back into the archives, I'm truly stunned by my capacity for repetition. I wish I had a "Mark as Written" tag on my brain, so I could easily recall what's already been covered.

How consistently I say the same things like they were new things. I've got a common nightmare: I'm relating an anecdote as though it's fresh and exciting while my audience, eyes rolling to skull-backs, suffers through the stale & eager repeat, seething with resentment. Like: on the cruise last summer, Rosie accidentally told the same joke twice in one set, and the experience was to be honest --- jarring. She caught herself, took a drink and apologized, turned it into a new joke, but witnessing the same delivery, made me think -- I do that.

In Ariel Levy's John Waters article, she says any Waters fans would see "his conversation is peppered with reruns and standards ... but it's fine. John Waters's recycling is more interesting than most people's virgin material." Which's something to aspire to.

As a kid, I'd interrupt my Mom if I'd already heard her story: she told me this was rude, as were my corrections. Stephen Dunn, in "The Answers," responds to the question, "why did you leave me?" with "You began to correct my embellishments in public. / You wouldn't let me tell my stories."

Possibly, I've even written about repeating myself before.

There's stories/experiences I already know I tell too often (Olive Garden, life of housewivery/frat rathood, being raised w/o television and artificial coloring, in public high school i wore boxers & skater pants and stared at the ceiling fan a lot, when Matty went to the park to look for osaama and never came back, my ex the cop [what's unfortunate is that I've only got a few exes who I'm certain will never read this, and therefore they're often spoken of/for]), but there's some I don't mean to. Stories about my father I may've told before are the riskiest to re-tell, 'cause no-one wants to interrupt a ghost story. But maybe I don't talk about him as much as I think I do. Which is the problem: I write down so much of what I think, it's nearly impossible to remember what I kept in my head, and what I put into words (therefore changing it immediately).

So, a reader survey! I know, I totally ask so much from you, it's actually semi-obnoxious. But ok -- no need to identify yourself (but you sure can!), and though your comments will be addressed in a larger sense (and possibly specifically, who knows), I don't plan to run down the line in response as I traditionally do. Also; I realize 95% of you won't answer, and that's fine, clearly I took Statistics 350 for a reason, know all about sample size, etc., and also, you don't have to, I appreciate your mysterious eyes. Also if you're my 3-D friend you still have to answer. Feel free to skip one, some or almost all the questions, like if you don't know who Lozo is. Just answer whatever you want.

It's almost time for Auto-Win's SECOND BIRTHDAY! Aren't you excited? Tinkerbell is1

1. How long have you been reading this weirdo's blog? [this weirdo = me]
1/a. Have you read archives?
2. Fill in the blank: "When you're here, you're ______."
3. What's your favorite thing to read on the internet besides me obvs.
4. What's Lozo's favorite position?
5. Have you seen The L Word and if so where is Papi.
6. Name of a blog post title (and, by implication, subject) that'd make your head explode with excitement to read it 'cause it just sounded so good!
7. omg, thanks!
8. Do you think I repeat myself on this blog a lot? Like, in a bad way?
18. anything else? okay.

quote: "I could say that telling her our story, / was a way of bringing you back to life, / and for a while it was, a memorial / made of memory and its words. / But here's what I knew: /Watching her react, I was sure I'd tell our story again, to others. I understood / how it could be taken to the bank, / and I feared I might not ever again / feel enough to know when to stop." (from Stephen Dunn, "The Stories")

links:
1) RKB is on Martha Stewart today, Monday March 31st! (@lusty lady)
2) The 10 Most Insane, Child-Warping Moments of '80s Cartoons (for you who watched teevee as a child) (@topless robot)
3) Insightful thoughts on blogging, privacy, sex writing from Sex and The Ivy, as a response to Randall Patterson's NY Times Magazine Article "Chastity Clubs: Virginity" (@sex and the ivy, the ny times)
4) "The deaths of a number of celebrities may well be warnings about the dangers of chronic sleeplessness" : "Can Insomnia Kill?" (@the latimes)
5) "How to Fix Starbucks: "A few helpful suggestions from our panel of coffee geeks and empire builders."
6) A comprehensive list of movies in which poetry takes "center stage": Poetry in Movies (@the michigan quarterly review)
7) Where the "real housewives of NYC" actually really hang out! (@gridskipper)
8) The 101 Most Useful Websites (@telegraph uk)
9) A fantastic 2005 essay from Rick Moody about teaching and learning to write: "Writers and Mentors" (@the atlantic)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Top Ten: You Pack Your Bags You Say I Love You But I Cannot Stay [City Girl: The Sequel]

So! Here we are in the clear -- that promised no-L Word land where Sunday Top Tens drop on Sundays ('cause of the Lord, obvs) and other blog posts appear more frequently. Yet I've spent four days attempting to write a fantastic mind-blowing blog post to initiate this new era, and now it's Sunday, and this is what I've accomplished: about two solid hours of staring at the wall, ten separate and equally unfruitful attempts to begin cleaning my room, twenty re-applications of eyeliner and/or blush (v. important when sitting alone at one's desk all day), approximately 300 check-ups on the youtube uhhatsxsw group boards, twentysomething sitemeter checks and subsequent track-downs of referring forum message posts, about two solid hours of staring at the floor, maybe 20 emails max, serious analysis of my hamstring/glute/cellulite development (and subsequent thoughts about my possible insanity), 60 changes from sweatpants to jeans and back again, massive french fry/cheeseburger/chicken fingers/eggs consumption, the installation of my new printer software and! This sentence! -- written (I believe) almost entirely in the passive voice (big no-no).

'Cause I think I've gotten to that point ... the point where when you take "all potential material" and then subtract "material I've already blogged about," "material I'm using in my book" and "material I can't talk about" ... you get ... um. Not a whole lot left to say. Let's say this is a sequel to this.

I keep ditching blogs after a few hours of work on them, which's exhausting. So I'm gonna go ahead with this one, despite urges to delete it and start over. This blog has no cohesive thought pattern. It's mostly a memoir, and it goes from nowhere to nowhere by claiming to be about somewhere. Next week I'm gonna use one of your topics.
*
Here's the idea; I'm doing a reading on April 17th at Happy Endings -- I'll be reading, with Stephanie Whited, "Fucking Around" (the original -- I did a "Fucking Around 2: Local Edition" for the reading in September), which appears in the new book Dirty Girls: Erotica for Women. Are you COMING TO THE READING? Buying the book?!!! If you don't, I'm never talking to you again. Put it on your calender STAT.

So when I re-visited the story -- which personifies cities -- before sending it to Stephanie, and also when I was doing the interview, I was thinking about Place. Travel. And so on ... 'cause I've been a little jetsetter in '08 ... and, I'm looking for good travel essays to read, do you know of any good travel writers? Gimme some leads ... I'm trying to figure out a good angle for a piece about an upcoming trip and I don't know where to begin.

Usually too much traveling stresses me out (see; last year in which I didn't even board an airplane). But during my Agoraphobic Zen Meditation Gestation Period last fall, I became a monk with no attachment to this home and therefore I'm freewheelin'.

At the same time ... Haviland's gonna stay in L.A. for a few more months; she loves it. When I met Carly she was aiming to relocate to L.A. within a year -- instead, she's moving into her first Manhattan apartment this week. A;ex and Natalie are both looking for more permanent Manhattan residences. After many months away, Heather's back in the city, stage managing on Broadway.

And for the first time since moving here four years ago; I'm taking a serious break -- I'll be out of the city for most of the next two months. I will return like The Shining.
*
"New York fucks me. New York fucks me so hard that I cry."

*
I'm thinking about why I'm still here, and where else I've been. I'm thinking if I could be anywhere else, and if so when and how. I'm thinking about my friends settling in here or moving, and about every landscape I've resided in besides New York -- places I know not by choice but by circumstance -- and how different it feels to be where we want to be instead of where we've been born, or schooled. I'm wondering when my number one attachment to the city stopped being the city itself and started being the people living here.
*
"Here I arrive there."
(Galway Kinnel, "The Road Between Here and There.")
*
Me
: I told New York I was going to start seeing other places.
New York: You'll come back.
*
SUNDAY TOP TEN: WHERE I'M CALLING FROM
*
10. Presently: New York
As a girl; I believed everyone -- literally, everyone -- wanted to live in New York.

It seemed inherently better; brighter lights, bolder songs, deeper & more dramatic love affairs, loftier careers, sharper children, more dramatic art. I didn't think everyone would move there -- or even try to -- only that it was, like a tropical beach w/palm tree or Prince(ss) Charming -- something most everyone enjoyed dreaming of.

I grew up and realized that wasn't true ... but still I cannot, to this day, recall how I even got the idea that I wanted to live here, it's just always been that way. Was it someone else's idea, related to wanting to be an actress, or to the Muppets or YA novels? Does anyone remember? Do you?

I envy those with roots and inertia, those who've been someplace and stayed, or stayed close, who haven't needed to get away and reinvent and leave leave leave leave all the time, or move someplace where you can initiate a do-over without switching cities.

December 2003, Michigan, out for drinks with MacGrill friends & talking about the city to a coworker who told me she'd always wanted to visit NYC, that she envied my plans to move there ... She'd been living in the same small town in Michigan all her life, she said, and hadn't ever given much thought to leaving. I asked why, she said, "Well, I just can't imagine going anywhere else, this is where my family is," and then I thought, maybe that's the thing that separates people who move to cities from those that don't. We, for whatever reason, don't feel tethered to our family or community. There's nothing keeping us where we started from, or there's something even stronger than that (I'm thinking now of specific dreams) pulling us away.

9. Recently

Los Angeles
Over the past few months I've spent time in Miami, Orlando, Los Angeles and Austin, and though I found the weather more pleasant everywhere else, and Austin's scored vibe is probs healthier than NYC's chaotic reverb ... still, this city's made me a masochist to feel worthy of its streets, trains, secrets ... and I don't know if I could ever find a relationship this intense anywhere else. Nevertheless, I didn't want to come home when I was gone, but I think that's 'cause vaycay's always more fun than actual life, even if you live in New York.

Specifically, Miami and Los Angeles -- while super-fun to visit -- felt like skating a shiny expensive surface, flexibility relative to muscle, and everyone smiling about it, like obeying a different kind of ethos, like a sports car or a smile from a cashier or like songs about music. The sky/landscape is beautiful in those places but ... I prefer regions beneath surface: things you've burned and why, when and how you let go of pride, who you wish had never seen you cry, but did, what makes you wet, what's the first thing you do after leaving your office that you can't do while you're inside it.

Miami was one of the highlights of my year, but I knew I could never live there after that terrible season of The Real World.

Orlando
If you're a non-native New York resident who's involved in the arts, you have an implicated relationship to Los Angeles because we choose to live here, not there. But also; I know its representations better than it's actuality. The cycle of beach-going, expensive clothes shopping, and romantic drama typified in Beverly Hills 90210, The O.C. and South of Nowhere. Six Feet Under is set in L.A., but I always forgot that it was -- sometimes it felt like it could be any reasonably large city. The L Word, obvs, in West Hollywood.

Austin:
will do in a pinch. Is flat and hot and relentlessly wide-open and soothing like a third drink. Reminds me of other places I could imagine raising a family: Berkley, Madison, Boulder, Ann Arbor, Burlington, Athens, Brooklyn. Seems it would be pleasant but it's in Texas, I'm not a Southern girl, I hate the heat. Also ... Austin doesn't humble me and make me want to give up every day -- like New York does -- which is how I check myself to see how bad I still want it.
8. Ann Arbor, MI (81-90) (92-97)/(00-01)(01-04)
"Beware of saying to them that sometimes different cities follow one another on the same site and under the same name, born and dying without knowing one another, without communication amongst themselves. At times even the names of the inhabitants remain the same, and their voice's accent, and also the features of the faces; but the gods who live beneath names and above places have gone off without a word and outsiders have settled in their place."
-Italo Calvino, "Cities & Memory 5," Invisible Cities
*

The house I grew up in 'til 1994
I've lived so many lives there (divided neatly by unexpected tragedy), the town's almost amorphous to me. Most just know the University of Michigan. I'm always qualifying when I speak of my roots -- not that Midwest, you know, it's Ann Arbor. It's a college town. Not a suburb, really, no ... but no gun racks either. And going to University there; that was another town, too. I watched Sex and The City DVDs and waited to return. Ann Arbor wants you to like it, just the way it is, and however it may become.
*
7. Ypsilanti, MI ('02)

Never had a chance with me. Is sprawl, is grey, feels sad or disappointed sometimes. In middle school, we'd played East and West, Ypsilanti's public schools, in basketball -- all black girls, infinitely better than us, and one girl named Star who habitually fouled out even sooner than me, and once elbowed me in the eye.

A decade later, when I started working at the MacGrill (while at U of M) out by the US-23 exit, I started hanging out with kids who lived there, mostly Eastern Michigan students, and eventually ended up living there w/my annoying boyfriend.

A few blocks down from our wall-to-wall cream-carpeted home (in its mind-numbing housing development) was a strip mall featuring Wal-Mart AND Big Lots, and this is what I did when feeling empty: bargain hunt. Such satisfaction. Driving, picking up Subway sandwiches, taking Oscar outside, grocery shopping, commuting, getting the mail, getting yelled at. People in Ypsilanti were always saying they'd get a raise soon, were never paid what they needed, or already need.

Ypsi's not sure who it wants to be -- a hip downtown but also rows and rows of sprawling strip malls on all sides with stores like Honeybaked Ham, Ace Hardware, Burlington Coat Factory. Then there's campus and the world-famous Penis Tower, historic Depot Town. There's where I was elbowed in the eye.
It's hard to have an affair in Ypsilanti, but I did, so maybe it wasn't. There's an abandoned paper mill and a body of water, we could sit there and kiss. We told each other all our secrets while the sun set. Then I could drive him home, and then go home to my mean boyfriend, make dinner, clean, stand wistfully on the tiny balcony littered with Oscar's abandoned stuffed paramours he'd humped to death, look at the tiny yard we'd selected. That little yard, and the trees behind it ... felt pathetic. My co-hab wouldn't leave me, so I left him. I felt he'd almost fooled me into giving up New York for the suburbs, I felt like I'd been hypnotized.

Leaving him felt a lot like being elbowed in the eye. But no: that was just his knuckles, our cheap white walls.
*
6. Bronxville, NY (Sarah Lawrence College) (Fall '99)
It's all hills, and then the wind like a long flat slap in the face. I was acutely sad there and so I remember the village like that too (but moreso: like the pamphlets sent by SLC) ... tired, hungry (for many things including food) -- but neatly dressed, well organized, by all appearances functional ... the scent of chlorine upon my skin. Bronxville is aggressively quaint. I wished I was in the city, hated the past for being past, hated myself and my shin splints, my overpriced education, coming back on weekends. Many of my friends stayed in their dorms 24-7, eating Rice-a-Roni in bed & watching Radiohead videos, but I explored -- running in the mornings, studying in town at night, and all the walks from the Metro-North. It was beautiful, Bronxville, but while I was there I wasn't in the habit of paying attention to beauty.
*
5. Interlochen, MI (97-99)

"My present world was always, in its mildness, a little disappointing. I've never since Ault been in a place where everyone wants the same things; minus a universal currency, it's not always clear to me what I myself want. And anyway, no one's watching to see whether or not you get what you're after -- if at Ault I'd felt mostly unnoticed, I'd also, at certain moments, felt scrutinized. After Ault, I was unaccounted for."
(Curtis Sittenfeld, Prep)
Is love. Or what I knew of it: The Academy. We paid attention to poetry and our desperately important selves. Isolation breeds delusions of grandeur, which is a good thing when applied to insecure & depressive teenagers. It was cold & wooded, but we never had to walk far and besides -- we were kids dreaming of NYC and L.A. But the secure fleeting woods are magical, like Hogwarts. It was by definition temporary. My New York dreams grew specific: I only applied to schools in NYC or the surrounding area. Everyone I knew would be there, or close. It was the only place to go.
*
4. Concord, MA (1990)
The Old North Bridge! The Alcott House! Walden Pond! Concord has enough past, it's not worried about the future. This town is America. People should visit Concord instead of NYC, they'd find America on the whole much more pleasant. I can't go back there. I think the first time I saw NY was passing through on our way here, the first time.
*
3. Champaign, IL (1981)
September, 1981, the father & mother bring their daughter home from the hospital. Because the mother & father are opposites, their daughter will grow up as opposites (but both sides firmly within her). Outside, the leaves are crispy red & gold and in the daytime, college students in bright orange sweatshirts walk past dutifully with books and at night, they stumble past, drunk and happy. The father reads out loud to his daughter from accounting text books, employing a exciting rise and lilt of the voice. And the daughter listens and believes it. Yes, stock analysis is a fairy tale! There'll be treasure at the end! The parents are in love first with the baby and by default (also from history's account), one another. They have routines by this point, yes? Familiar kisses, the familiar motions of everything. Like everything, if you say it right (and smiling), is that kind of fairy tale.
*
2. Chicago, IL
Mom grew up here and describes an adolescence spent on street corners; all red hair, all attitude and teenage rebel scoff, cigarette dangling from unimpressed hand. We'd go see family there, sometimes, it was a default location for vacations or runaway fantasies. Now, Chicago is the home of Ingrid, my ex-boyfriend, Oprah and NPR. When I visited my ex in Chicago in the summer of '05 while passing through, I emerged from the Amtrak station onto familiar streets and realized I've been here a million gazillion times, but I've never given it much thought.
*
1. East Clinton, Ohio
I romanticize the farm. I've set too many short stories in Wilmington or Sabina, exploited its heartland and the wholesome American lifestyle I imagined my family lived there (and my father had lived) until we grew up and everything fell apart. I know this place better than anywhere, have returned at least annually since birth, and write about it so much that people often get confused and think I'm from Ohio. I'm not I would've been entirely different. There were pictures like these, of my father's childhood, which he made mythical, just like I do to my own.

*

*

*

*
New York: I haven't slept in like, three days.
Me: Do you want to do this later, then?
New York: Why? No, of course not. What are we waiting for?
*

Friday night Carly was DJ'ing a party in the East Village at Beauty Bar so Alex and I pre-partied at Lucky Cheng's, "drag queen capital of the world," one of many New York attractions that neatly straddles terrible/AMAZING, which's the best way to be, because you're not too full of either. You can't hear yourself talk there 'cause the drag queens are yelling about giving fake blow jobs to bachelors and bridesmaids who're all drinking from gigantic tubs of fruity liquor. Our server reminded Alex of her alter ego, Chi Chi Rodriguez. It's like Disneyworld with drag queens instead of cartoon characters.
We even stayed at Beauty Bar after Carly left 'cause the next DJ was playing hot music too. That's right: I actually danced. "Danced." Surrounded by weirdos -- a sausage fest, some bitches, a few other homos -- but wtf, who cares, it's New York, a new layer on top of the old -- --

a birthday party there in 2000, with Sarah Lawrence friends, who I'd expected to hate now that I was living in the city but no -- out of context, I realized they were all quite lovely. It wasn't them after all, it was just Bronxville, and how I felt in Bronxville. The hulking, well-lipsticked drag queens petted and solicited and harassed, it was so gaudy, so disgusting, so tourist-oriented, so fucking beautiful.

The reason I'd gone to Manhattan in the first place in 2000 was because I needed to get over it so that I could handle going home for a more affordable education. I'd been dreaming of it since East Clinton, since before my Mom met my Dad, since before Chicago and Champaign, Concord, Ann Arbor, Ypsi, Bronxville, and before during and after those cities ... my twentysomething change-of-address forms.

But lately I've felt like claiming an allegiance for this city is like telling someone about a perverse sexual fetish, like it's fallen out of fashion (though it's always been popular to hate on).

But when I venture out of my hostile neighborhood and into the parts of the city that feel like the place I signed up for, I do still have moments of feeling like Belle in Beauty and the Beast ... like I might start hurling loaves of bread into the air ... like I've gone batshit on everyone and now I'm singing to birds landing on my fingertips.

"I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel ... and really didn't know who I was for ten strange seconds."
-Jack Kerouac
*
When I left New York after my first residency here, I was tired of the city and so I spent the summer on the West Coast -- Seattle, Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Berkley. I returned to the city the next summer, then back to Michigan.

Over the next two months, I'll be spending more time away from here than I've done since moving here in 2004. I wonder how that's gonna feel.

My roots will stay here, and I don't know why really, maybe it's perverted or masochistic. But though I've spoken out against sunshine, I've never argued against perversion or masochism.

Never argued for anywhere else.
*
"Here I must turn around and go back and on the way back look carefully to left and to right. For here, the moment all the spaces along the road between here and there -- which the young know are infinite and all others know are not -- get used up, that's it."
-Galway Kinnell
*
"New York is three hours late to meet me, like she didn't even miss me. Her eyes are green rimmed with red. She looks sick and devastating and gorgeous. Her nails are perfect and glossy. Later, she will use them to trace the entire length of my spine with a spotted trail of blood, like I did to Los Angeles, but this time I will like it and it will remind me of hearts and love."
*


*

downtown nyc, nov.'05
*

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Weekend Auto-Fun :: 3-29-2008

quote: ""That had been in Agnes's mishmash decade, after college. She had lived improvisationally then, getting this job or that, in restaurants or offices, taking a class or two, not thinking too far ahead, negotiating the precariousness and subway flus and scrimping for an occasional manicure or a play. Such a life required much exaggerated self-esteem. It engaged gross quantities of hope and despair and set them wildly side by side, like a Third World country of the heart. Her days grew messy with contradictions." (Lorrie Moore, "Agnes of Iowa")

links:
1) "When a missed -- or misguided -- literary reference makes it chillingly clear that a romance is going nowhere fast.": "It's Not You, It's Your Books" (@nytimes)
2) Major League Baseball's first "plus-sized" all-male cheer team: "Florida Marlins bring on a heavy-hitting cheerleading squad" (@la times)
3) Students for a Free Tibet (the country): "How Three Canadians Upstaged Bejing" (@globe and mail)
4) Goosebumps is back: "R.L Stine Rides Again" (@the walrus)
5) Very appropriate for me today: "A History of the Hangover" (@slate.com)
6) Agenda based video games tested -- Faith Fighter ("I like to play as Buddha: because he's blue and I don't think it will offend anyone"), Bible Fight, Ethnic Cleansing ("racist, anti-semitic, Neo-Nazi blasting away 'blacks, spics and Jews'), The Zoo Race Game, Night of Bush Rapturing, Left Behind: "What Would Jesus (or Hitler) Play?" (@jewcy)
7) Margaret Atwood salutes a childhood classic, Anne of Green Gables (@the guardian uk)
8) Brooklyn/San Francisco is the new Manhattan/L.A. "Sisters in Idiosyncrasy (@ny times)
9) "The Beggars" by Rainer Maria Rilke, Translated from the German by Michael Hofmann (@poetry magazine)
10) Chuck Klosterman asks, "What's the difference between a Road Movie and a movie that just happens to have roads in it?": "On the Road" (@the believer)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Auto-Fun of the Day :: 3-28-2008

quote: "The invitation to leave your depression behind, whether through medication or therapy or effort of will, seems like an invitation to turn your back on all your dark insights into the corruption and infantilism and self-delusion of the brave new McWorld. And these insights are the sole legacy of the social novelist who desires to represent the world not simply in its detail but in its essence, to shine light on the morally blind eye of the virtual whirlwind, and who believes that human beings deserve better than the future of attractively priced electronic panderings that is even now being conspired for them. Instead of saying, I am depressed, you want to say I am right!" (Jonathan Franzen, "Why Bother?")

links:
0) Lozo has given up sports for a life of lesbianism. Comments? (@wdwgdab)
1) Tinkerbell recommends "Do Stuffed Animals Have Souls?" (!!!!) (@slate.com)
2) Slogreenx Blogging on "Uh Huh ... Her?"! (@slogreenx)
3) Sadness as literary strategy: "Magic Feelism" (@n+1)
4) On Viagra's 10th birthday, Women still left wanting a drug of their own: Viagra for Women (@us news)
5) David Samuels interviews X17 paparazzi legends about recent celebrity photographs: The Celebrity Hunters (@the atlantic)
6) "First Nights are ghastly ordeals for actors. A recent study indicates that the stress endured is equivalent to being involved in a minor car crash ..." (@times online uk)
7) "Celebrity scandal and Anne Frank: the reading diary of British teenagers "(@guardian uk)
8) "Anti-Emo Riots Break Out Across Mexico" (@wired.com)
9) "Memoirs by high-class hookers may be cartoonish, but no less than accounts that cast prostitutes as victims of rapacious male sexuality. There are many types of prostitutes just as there are many reasons for men to visit them. A grown-up debate": Prada Prostitutes (@The Prospect)
10) @NYMag: "Sweet Valley High Updates Bury the Wakefield Twins in Cavalli," "Vogue Shape Issue is Anything But," "Penn Station to Remain Hideous Indefinitely."

most recent auto-win: Semicolon Vlog
auto-straddle: Season Finale L Word recap

Thursday, March 27, 2008

We've Got Trees We've Yet to VLOG In With Semicolon: Half-Blog, Half-Vlog ... Are You Ready For Spring?

3/25: So Natalie got me this Lenny Kravitz t-shirt -- it was free. I don't care one way or the other about Lenny Kravitz, his music, or going his way ... but the shirt's delightful. I should make friends and then invite people over to look. I just turned on this magical box in our living room, it's fantastic. I was having trouble writing, then reading, then email and so here I am! This happened Monday night too: the deaf girl from The L Word was good in the dance show. I think I need to see Nim's Island, there seems to be a treehouse involved. The Office is funny.

3/26: Sometimes when I can't sleep I just look at photographs. Like Alex just told me about typeish.com, and I like the nerve photo galleries or photo blogs 'cause they get really ace photographers there, and mostly I can link out to good photographer websites and then follow links all through the night. Or I like her famed good looks and rion.nu and achtung baby.
So I was going to do a Top Ten called "Who DOES That"? You know that expression? Some questions I might typically include have, over time, answered themselves: Who reads Reader's Digest? My grandmother. Who listens to Michael Bolton? My grandfather. Who does crack? The people in my neighborhood. Who watches World's Wildest Police Chases? Matty, it was his favorite show, he LOL'ed: "Look how stupid those motherfuckers are! Isn't it funny?"

Like -- Who eats at Long John Silver's? I've seen advertisements. I've seen the yellow-and-blue shacks peddling fried seafood -- buttered lobster bites, jumbo fried shrimp, fried fish with hush-puppies, fries, you name the artery, it's got a product designed to clog it right up. According to its website, there's 12,000 LJS ... yet in the informal survey I've been conducting for the last few years, I don't know anyone who will admit to eating there. I'd also ask about White Castle, but my Mom used to wax nostalgic about her childhood and teenaged trips to the joint and former love for its burgers. But that was like a hundred years ago.

3/27: So, since I couldn't seem to pull together the actual blog I've been trying to write for today, I've decided to keep the good parts of it (about one paragraph total) as a springboard towards an even better blog later this week. So instead, for today, I made a vloggity vlog with Alex/Semicolon/A;ex!! Once upon a time, Alex Vega won the comment contest ... and now she's all grown up. It just goes to show you kids that if you dream it you can do it!

This vlog includes a discussion of many spicy topics, includin: Alex's suspiciously frequent visits to the dentist, a Katlitter tribute, drumsticks/cucumbers, RuPaul, alcohol, balls, flying lesbians, the meaning of life and Semicolon's famous comment which won her the comment contest back in October 2007. Special appearances via vintage clips of Haviland and Lozo.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Auto-Fun of the Day :: 3-26-2008

quote: "To protect ourselves, we spun cocoons out of TV, books, video games, early stolen alcohol, and dreams. And then one day we realize we're grown up yet still all muffled inside what we've built around us. We don't feel real. 'There were often times when he would feel as if he were lifting out of his body and observing himself from above," Dan Chaon writes in just about every one of his short stories. All the writers my age write about blackouts and floating. We try to get out of these cocoons and make our way down to where our bodies are. We try shoplifting and racist/sexist/ageist humor (trying to offend our way out); we get naked on stage. We try sleep deprevation and razors on our skin. We date creepy, scary sleazes who we half-hope, half-fear might do the cutting for us. But we're so used to living inside a dream, even cutting feels dreamy. We can't get out. We can't wake up." (Lisa Crystal Carver, "Drugs are Nice")

links:
1) I love this man, and how he thinks, and makes art: "How John Waters Maintains his Obsessions." (@nymag)
2) America's Next Top Model Recap: "Giddy Up!" (@fourfour)
3) How to Grocery shop at 99-Cent Stores (@nytimes)
4) A Unified Theory of The Hills: "Pretending to Be Yourself Isn't Easy" (@slate.com)
5) List: "Text Messages That Would Have Been Helpful" (@mcsweeny's)
6) "Dropping the Torch": Dave Eggers on the Olympic Torch Relay, genocide, Frisco (@nytimes)
7) Queer Kids have a lot of feelings, oppression, therefore need drugs: "Gay Youth Report Higher Rates Of Drug And Alcohol Use" (@medical news today)
8) "Why the fuss over Obama's pastor when Bible-based damnations of bad behavior are a staple in American religion?": "War of the Word" (@the nation)
9) "The Sushisexuals" --on stuffwhitepeoplelike.com, dating (@nerve.com)
10) "How Kids Too Cool for Exercise Keep The Winter Pounds Off": Hips of Steel (@the village voice)

(I tried to write an actual blog post today, but it's not working. It'll come soon. In the meantime, drop in on the Uh Huh Her contest message boards. We're trying to auto-win, which might not happen, but anyhow ... fun for the whole family!)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Auto-Fun of the Day :: 3-25-2008

quote: "How do we not go crazy, / we who have found ourselves compelled / to live with the circle, the ellipsis, the word / not yet written." (From "The Reverse Side," Stephen Dunn)

links: 1) Nissen wrote one of my favorite short story books of all time, Out of the Girl's Room And Into The Night: Thisbe Nissen on Thisbe Nissen (@Konundrum Engine Literary Review)
2) Sam Anderson! Reviews "Human Smoke" by Nicholson Baker (@nymag)
3) You Look Scrabulous: How a stuffy board game became a sleazy internet pickup joint (@nerve.com)
4) Life as a Tall Girl: "My entire life has been influenced by the fact that I stand way above the average height for both men and women." (@nytimes)
5) I've been thinking about this post a lot lately: HATERRR!!1!!11 (@fourfour)
6) Is Brett Easton Ellis (American Psycho, Less Than Zero) underrated? (@the la times)
7) The GIGANTIC NUMBERS on magazine covers investigated: "Dubious Digits" (@ny observer)
8) Why's it so hard to launch a Broadway revival of West Side Story? (@bloomberg)
9) Review of The Book of Other People (Zadie Smith) which I just finished reading: (@boldtype)
10) Prostitute Pictures: "I believed that in the action or drawing a prostitute, hidden parts of people may become revealed" (@project prostitute)

most recent auto-win: Broken Down and Hungry For Lozo VLOG
most recent auto-straddle: Episode 512: Loyal & True Recap

Monday, March 24, 2008

Broken Down and Hungry for your VLOG

Today there's three L Words -- 1. Lozo Vlog, 2. Episode 512 (Finale!) Recap: Loyal & True -- [in which I'm less funny than I've ever been -- but at last, finally, at last, at last: done.] Speaking of "last": 3. Seven Last Sayings of Jesus on the Cross. I'd never heard of them before, but it came up today 'cause today was a big Jesus day for all you Christians (I'm a Jew, p.s.), and today was also a day with many implied associations to rebirth all over the place, though I spent most of it in my room writing the recap. I think some of the seven are appropriate for the top feelings I have after finishing-an-L Word recap: "I thirst," "forgive them for they know not what they do," "it is finished." Apparently mid-recap feelings include actually taking a break for a few hours on Saturday night to color with Chase, Semicolon and Angelica. I love Bunnies, there's chocolates in the living room on the table.

Lozo Thong

Not only is it time for a fresh new Lozo vlog, but I'd also like to announce that if you want to comment to Lozo, who no longer takes comments on his own blog, about college basketball, beer, girls, college basketball, movies Lozo hates, that HBO show Lozo hates, and I think also baseball, please share your feelings here. Who will win the big game? Who is going to bat a thousand homers? Say so, he'll get back to you, like Dear Abby.
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Today we thought about how long it's been since last Easter Weekend. A million years, it'd seem, have shot star-like since then, since last Easter weekend when the photographer from [redacted] magazine spent most of my hours shooting me & my then-girlfriend & my friends for The Little Article That Couldn't. We've still not seen these photos, but Chase has some Lainy took from the afternoon she came over to get shot. The L Word had already ended by then, though, Easter's early this year ... the photographer had an old school camera and set up every shot like a painting. You can see the camera a little bit on the side here:

Riese & Chase, Easter Weekend '07
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My love
Semiprecious & stoned
In the shoulder season we hold on
Though I am dismal & have no dope
Siphoned off behind pink Easter
I fake an optimism
Just to breathe—Just thinking of him for once &
The Wandering Jew that ate my sunshine
But I know flowers like Zorro was my dad
Those garlands of thin hissing lasers
So with the “sexy isotherms
Of semiotics” we meet again at the Kiev
To check chemistry. They bring the lights
Down on those cherry pies & like cryogenics
It sorta works. This time my love
The salt doll of night egging us on
Straight to the zeppelin mooring
With she-has-a-bit-of-the-neardamned-in-her-
Like-when-a-cloud-dies construed as
Well, all right, I’ve seen worse.
-
from "A Good Year Down" by Jeni Ollin
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Okay, turn up the sound, kids, 'cause Lozo's not a big enunciator. This is sort of a quickie, in honor of Lozo's favorite way to do it. JK. In honor of Speed Itself. Also watch for special appearances by Semicolon and her jazz hands. We discuss topics like Lozo's bachelorhood, all the ways he's deceived me, and how nice his shoulder is. Also if you haven't read my the interview with me on the dirty girls blog, you better do it now, 'cause it's awesome!

THE VLOG:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Weekend Auto-Fun :: 3-22 & 3-23

quote:
"I wanted to teach myself how to hate what I loved, and love what I hated, but each bite of my hamburger overwhelmed me with its goodtastingness. I tried to put it down, but I couldn’t. The flat pickle discs that had long ago, in some faraway jar given up, were returned to their zenith. The earth with its grains and its sunshine and its animals and its ketchup. I ate hot-faced with two hands, head bowed. There was just enough in the soft purse for the week. On hamburger day, I always bartered with my appetite, which howled like a wolf protecting a forestful of cubs. From the chagrin of the line. I would defend my cubs by eating them."
(Kristen Iskandarin, "Lunch")
links:
1) New! RKB interviews memememee!: "Dirty Girls author interview with Marie Lyn Bernard" (@Dirty Girls Book Blog)
2) All Bookish Social Networking Websites Considered (@NPR)
3) "The New York woman's answer to the metrosexual" is women who prefer to dress "like boys" ... 'cause hoodies & jeans are apparently "boy" clothes. Gender neutral anyone? Mom?: "The Urbane Tomboy" (@The New York Observer)
4) New research reveals that "money can buy happiness, but only if we spend it on others": Give Your Money Away and Be Happy (@The New Scientist)
5) "I’ve had famous clients—maybe not governors, but well-known business guys. People you read about in the Wall Street Journal, and let me tell you, if Michael Jackson or, like, the Dalai Lama came through the door, I might get surprised. But Eliot Spitzer? No way. What I’m selling, you never get surprised who’s standing at the counter.”: "Secrets of the Megapimps" (@NY Mag)
6) All about collegiate acapella: "Perfect Tone, in a Key That's Mostly Minor." (@NY Times)
7) National Magazine Awards Finalists Announced (@ASME)
9) Tales of a QVC Home Shopping Employee (@The Smart Set)
9) In honor of Spitzer; ten recommended books about hookers: The Hooker Prize (@abebooks)
10) How Apple got everything right by doing everything wrong. (@wired)
most recent auto-win: crystal guest blogs the friday top ten - she comes from a land down under
most recent auto-straddle: the l word episode 511: lunar cycle recap

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Top Ten: So She Comes From the Land Down Under

Hi! As you know, when I get so so busy with my super-important life, I often outsource my Top Ten -- former guest-bloggers include Natalie, Tara, Lozo and my brother Lewis. Just like Natalie, Crystal from Australia was subjected to guest-blogging while visiting yours truly in NYC. It's one of many activities offered to guests here at Chez Planet Harlem, along with flying, dogsledding and watching Katlitter's vlog twelve times. ("I've got ADD real real Bad ...") Crystal has her own blog actually, it's called Disappear Here, but if I link to it I imagine she'll delete the whole thing, which she does about every 3-4 posts, and I'd like to discourage that behavior. Without any further ado, I bring you CRYSTAL. Also, as usual -- my notes are in italics/brackets.
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Hi guys. I'm Crystal from Australia, guest-blogging from Riese's couch in NYC. I feel like over the last few weeks I've sucked up a lot of Riese's time that she would've otherwise spent dedicated to her blog, and so I'm making amends by helping to deliver a Sunday Top Ten.

SUNDAY TOP TEN: AUTOMATIC AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

10) Planet Harlem

The cab driver entrusted with transporting me from my midtown hotel to Harlem two weeks ago totally unnerved me with a 20 minute lecture on why I shouldn't be staying in Harlem. You guys, what I didn't realise was that Riese lives in the ghetto. I'm a suburbs girl, I don't even know what “ghetto” means, you know, except that Kelly Rowland has a song called “Ghetto” in which she essentially repeats the phrase “So Ghetto” over and over. [sidenote:I'd assumed, based on Crystal's rough-and-tumble past, including several citations of sleeping on rocks/streets, that Harlem would be ... um ... easy street! I underestimate the power of my own neighborhood.] But what I do know is that on my first night here, I was up on the roof with Riese and all of a sudden there was banging and crashing and sirens, like some serious shit was going down. We ran over to the ledge to see every cop in Manhattan apprehending these dudes who they'd just rammed off the street with their car. The thing is, I'm an uncomplicated and sheltered girl who doesn't like putting herself in risky situations, and so I just don't really see this kind of action in Sydney - serious, we Aussies are all too busy hugging koala bears to get into too much trouble.

Actually, Harlem has been a very comfortable and problem-free place to stay. Riese has a beautiful apartment, lovely flatmates, a wicked rooftop, a Starbucks within walking distance and one of the most comfortable couches I've ever slept on. When I told Riese that I was coming to NYC, she kindly offered: "we have a couch [available]. It pulls out. It's gotten really good reviews, four stars." Now I don't want to the kill-joy that points out false advertising, but the couch doesn't actually pull out into a bed. To Riese's credit, I'm sure the couch did once pull out before Carly and Alex broke it (allegedly). [They did.]

9) South by Southwest

Crystal at SXSW on Sixth Street
I'm really on this side of the world for my annual pilgrimage to Austin, Texas's annual South by Southwest (SxSW) music festival. I always have a great time there but it was super special this year 'cause Riese, Cait and Tara joined me.

Initially, the SxSW journey was all about 2008's hype bands, sex, drugs and rock n' roll - but that changed after Cait & Riese discovered that Uh Huh Her was holding a SXSW fan documentary competition. Clever, right? 'Cause Uh Huh Her's new album is called Common Reaction, and this video is all about recording the reactions of the fans ... anyway so moving right along... [SIDENOTE OMG IT'S OUR VIDEO! WANNA SEE IT? HERE IT IS!]



Riese: I hope you guys know we're only going [to sxsw] to see Uh Huh Her.
Me: Then I hope we'll be able able to get into the [Uh Huh Her] showcase.
Cait: I'm going to SXSW at 8am tomorrow. I'll scope us out a good spot.


We agreed that this video competition was a basically personal invitation from Uh Huh Her to Riese to create/win a contest, and so we were 100% focussed on attending all three Uh Huh Her shows and capturing stellar footage. Tara and I did manage to get out and see some real bands, specifically The LK (from Sweden) and The Breeders, both of who rocked our socks off. Oh, and - I bought a cowboy hat, and it's the best cowboy hat ever.

PHOTO: Natalie models Crystal's cowboy hat.

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8) Meeting Uh Huh Her / Leisha Hailey
The highlight of SxSW was hands down Uh Huh Her's 9:15 guest DJ spot at this random nightclub. We arrived at 9:15pm, but the band was nowhere to be seen. About 9:45, they saunter/stumble in, and Tara (designated camera-person) proceeds to march right up to Leisha Hailey and starts in all: When are you playing? You were meant to be on stage 30 minutes ago, so wtf?! We've got a video to shoot and some real bands to see.

Actually, Tara was totally polite about it, but the message remained crystal clear [sidenote: this is a good example for me as my friends are attempting to teach me the nuances of "crystal clear communication.] Alice responded by mumbling something and looking to her iPhone as if it'd rapidly SMS her an excuse for her tardiness. They shared a few more words, shook hands, and Tara made her exit. Alice was left looking at me expectantly but I had nothing to bring to the table, so I gave her the two thumbs up and ran away.

When they finally started their DJ set, we convinced Cait to go ask Leisha to play some BETTY. The jury is still out on whether Leisha Hailey understood the joke, but hilarity ensued regardless. Stef, a SxSW warrior, got kicked out of the venue prematurely for being drunk and disorderly, and we followed shortly after.
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7) Hotels / community living

I feel like I've stayed in a lot of hotels this trip, and I'm fairly certain that if Cait was to never share a bed with me again then it would be too soon.

Times Square's Paramount Hotel -- where I stayed sans-Riese for three days prior to relocating to Planet Harlem -- was the most interesting experience. I booked this hotel 'cause I read a review where some disgruntled guest rated the Paramount 0 stars out of 5 'cause "the staff was flirtatious." 'Cause I've got no standards, this review SOLD me and I picked a room called "The Petite Suite." The whole hotel had some crazy decor and the room would've been more fairly represented as the "Don't Bother If You're Over 5'1 or 90 Pounds Suite."
See Photo:
The review was true however, they earned 5 out of 5 stars from me and many generous tips.

A stuff up with our hotel reservation in Austin lead us to spend our first few nights in a room about ten minutes away from downtown. The room wasn't really equipped for four adults, meaning we had to sacrifice all available floor space to achieve adequate sleeping arrangements. It was close living quarters, but as long as you didn't want to open the mini bar at the same time someone wanted to open their suitcase, it was all sweet.

Cait: Can we just stop and talk about how our room is one big bed?
Riese: It's like summer camp!

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6) Public Transportation

I've been to NYC many times but I've never taken the subway before because, as Law & Order is the only TV show we get in Australia, I've born witness to a plethora of plots relaying the message that I'm likely to get killed or harmed on the New York subway. Now -- I don't necessarily count on Dick Wolf to determine my personal barometer of what's safe and realistic in this world, however my suspicions were confirmed when Tara took me on the subway for the first (and possibly last) time and I was nearly killed and/or harmed. Tara was so enthralled in some witty/intelligent tale I was telling that she didn't realise we'd arrived at our stop, and when she did, she ran off the train suddenly and I followed a little too late, getting stuck between the doors. My life flashed before my eyes, along with a number of other scenarios where I'd get separated from Tara indefinitely and find myself selling coke in Chelsea until I could afford cab fare back to Harlem.

It's probably a well known fact that the cab drivers in this town are kinda crazy, but the past few weeks I've experienced madness to an extent I hadn't anticipated. Tonight, my cabbie jumped out mid-drive to engage in a lengthy screaming match with a policeman telling him not to drive down a particular street -- with the meter running. I tipped him anyhow 'cause I was a little scared he might yell at me too.

I also learned about these modes of transportation that Riese (and no-one else I have yet to meet [sidenote: everyone]) calls "Gypsy cabs". I was amazed when Riese told me that if I was to stand on her street corner, random cars would just pull up beside me and offer me a ride... [sidenote: this's cause they seem to think any white person in my neighborhood is clearly looking to get out asap] and that it's completely normal and safe to get into the vehicle. In Australia, we call this kind of thing Stranger Danger.
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5.) The L Word/Parties
Ever read Auto-Straddle and wondered what really goes on at an L Word party? I did -- and now I have the answers. Sadly, I didn't witness any Hollywood TV style behavior worth reporting, like sorority-sister pillow fights, but still I attended two and they were a lot of fun!

As soon as I got here, Riese sat me down in front of the TV and forced me to start watching from Season One. [sidenote: "Guess what I'll be able to do when I get to the states, tiger? I'll finally get to see this L Word show you're always talking about!" - Crystal, email, a long time ago] I made it through S1 and part of S2, but needed to take a break when Jenny started writing a short story about a woman who's born mute who one day discovers that she can understand and speak the secret language of the manatees. Also, did anyone else find it incredibly disturbing when Tina set a place a the dinner table for her positive pregnancy test stick? OMG.
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4) Some of my Non-L Word/SxSW social activities

On my first night in NYC, Tara picked me up and took me to this bar called Karma where we smoked Hookah (flavoured tobacco out of a giant bong-like device). You can't smoke indoors in Sydney, so I felt like I was living a little on the wild side. [sidenote: Karma's actually one of the only places in the city where you an smoke indoors.] We met many aspiring writers who came and sat down with us, leaving us with cigarette lighters and memorable quotes to coin, such as "if you want to fuck me, buy some art". Later on in the week, Cait became mildly disgusted at the state of my footwear [sidenote: one of her shoes was missing a sole] and took me shoe shopping in the West Village. Stef took me to a cafe that served vegan food. I hung out at St Mark's a lot and got embarrassingly excited when I realised a dude in Trash and Vaudeville was on the phone to Slash. Riese, Tara and I went to the Mercury Lounge because Yuko Honda and Sean Lennon were performing, and we saw a lot of short guys with tight jeans and sports coats.
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3) Learning

I've always had a tough time commenting on Riese's blog because I've never really understood all her references, like about Duane Reade and its incompetent employees (it's true!), or why anyone would combine peanut butter with chocolate (ace!). I know all about these things now. Cait & Riese also taught me a lot about serious community/social issues that I'd been completely unaware of, namely the poor education and health system in this country. I always knew that I was lucky to be raised in a country whose government (in comparison) invests greatly in the well-being of its community, but to discover that most kids in America don't have their own text books was a real eye-opener for me. Riese lent me this book called Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol that explores the poor education system - I recommend it to everyone who has not experienced the inequities of the US education system first hand. [sidenote: and everyone who has]
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2)Language
I've experienced (and overcome) a few language barriers since being here. I've found that my common phrases like "I'm not fussed", "peak hour traffic", "how're you going?" and "cheers" are not terms that Americans easily understand. Store employees give me an impatient sigh if I take the time to construct a polite sentence instead of just barking out my order. In Austin, the owner of the hot sauce shop told me I 'must be Australian' because I said thank you when he gave me my change. I thought the accent probably would have given my nationality away, but it was interesting nonetheless. Afterwards, I walked into a bar that had a sign saying 'Cheers Mate' Is NOT An Acceptable Tip In Texas. It was funny, but maybe you had to be there. I also learned that in America, you guys don't only type in acronyms - you also speak in them, and it's kind of hilarious. I had no idea until I met Riese and Cait, who literally do lace their spoken out-loud sentences with OMG, WTF and LOL.
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1) Meeting Riese and Co.

L to R: Crystal, Natalie, Alex
A long time ago I posed this thought to Riese via email: I've been to NYC so often that I've probably walked past you in the street, [and so it's interesting that] we're here now, talking, on the opposite sides of the world. If had run into each other at some stage, in person, pre-emails, would we have stuck around to hear each other out? And based on all of this, how much do we really have in common with those we think we know, but have never met?

It's impossible to realistically answer the question of whether two internet friends would've become friends if they'd met in person first -- and thanks to the internet itself, we really don't have to answer this question anymore. Many of my friends back home couldn't understand why I'd go stay with someone I'd only ever communicated with via email [sidenote: and skype! 'cause I freelance for Crystal's company and she had to train me, I haven't open that application since.]

They definitely couldn't comprehend how this person had become someone I'd consider to be one of my closest friends. Walking into Riese's apartment and meeting her for the first time is one of the most comfortable first encounters I've had -- I didn't feel like I needed to impress her or show her who I am, 'cause I knew I'd already done so virtually. On the surface, we're not that similar as people or personality types, but underneath it all we share the same basic human qualities, the ones that really matter: e.g., compassion, love, kindness. And for those of you who wonder about such things, in 3-D Riese is similar to as advertised on this blog: outrageously funny, intelligent, warm-hearted, and not at all keen on leaving her house (for real). I also had the pleasure of meeting most of her friends, such as Cait, Alex, Natalie, Stef, Tara and Carly - and they were all awesome people, because like attracts like.

Okay, that's all from me, it's my last day in the USA and I've got a plane to catch. later.

Hi guys it's me again, Riese. Unfortunately Crystal whipped this baby out prior to last night's journey to The Red Lobster in Times Square (trivia! Red Lobster's owned by Darden, which also owns The Olive Garden, where I used to work). I felt The RL would offer a pure American Experience, and, had we gone earlier, she would've been able to discuss her very first bite of a Cheddar Bay Biscuit.

Last week Crystal had drinks with Diana, who she'd met through my blog, and last night Diana joined us for Red Lobster. Natalie was telling Diana our (Nat & I's) legendary love story -- how we'd met (English 125), the first time we'd really hung out (we ran into each other outside of the bookstore during the first week of our second year at Michigan), the standard lies Natalie infuses this story with (Natalie: "Marie! Hi!" Me, In Natalie's Creative Re-Telling of the Sory: "Let's go get dinner, I think I have AIDS."), how Natalie'd pursued our friendship. And it was funny, really, that Nat had to emphasize that unlike most of my VIPs, we hadn't met online.

I never thought I'd be the kind of person to make so many cyber-friends, you know? ... though I was likely destined for that fate the moment I picked up my first pack of Magic the Gathering cards. I met Haviland through a friend (a friend we'd both met on the internet) pretty much the same week I started Auto-Win, but aside from Natalie, most of the people I talk to regularly are people I've met through blogging.

Maybe it's easier this way 'cause blog-friends, unlike real-friends, will say: "it's okay, we don't have to hang out, I want you to finish the recap so I can read it." But mostly I think my plethora of cyber-originated friendships can be attributed to the fact that these people, by reading and talking to me, are at least kinda drawn to my sensibility and sense of humor ... and consequently, I'm drawn to theirs ... during the Dark Fall of '07, I probs talked to Crystal more than I did to any living breathing friend -- maybe around 10 emails a night. It helped that I was writing for her company and she was sorta my boss (instant legitimacy beyond any instinctual certainty). I worked out a lot of issues talking to Crystal that I couldn't discuss with anyone in my "real life" -- blogfriends or not. Before Crystal even landed stateside, we already had at least 10 facebook friends in common, and Tara even met her before I did (I was still in L.A.), which was funny, and awesome.

I think in a few years, when the internet's been around long enough for us to step back and think about it really -- it'll probs seem quite marvelous. For loners, who don't believe in the inherent value of live socialization, this is a pretty legitimate space to communicate. Most cyber-connections never translate into real life, but it's quite affirming that they so often do. That someone who knows the ugliest rawest weirdest parts of me would actually want to sleep on my couch, which doesn't pull out, 'cause Carly and Alex broke it.
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"The internet is, for loners, an absolute and total miracle. It is, for us, the best invention of the last millennium. It educates. It entertains. It transforms. It facilitates a kind of dialogue in which we need not be seen, so it suits us perfectly. It validates. It makes being alone seem normal. It makes being alone fun for everyone."
(Anneli Rufus, "Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto")
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"No one, wise Kublai, knows better than you that the city must never be confused with the words that describe it.
And yet between the one and the other there is a connection ... on the outskirts where men and women land every evening like lines of sleepwalkers, there is always someone who bursts out laughing in the darkness, releasing the flow of jokes and sarcasm."
(Italo Calvino, "Invisible Cities.")
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Also okay everyone watch the video and go to the Uh Huh her contest youtube page and vote for us to win this Uh Huh Her contest, if we lose we're gonna be really pissed. Like this:

(SXSW Photo)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Auto-Fundaliciousness :: 3-20-1993

Oh, you. People. Who read this. In all of its ... its everything/nothing. I know I've been phoning it in a lot lately, but good news: The L Word ends this Sunday. I'm fantasizing that next year I'll have a book deal and a real live dog (as opposed to my current dog Tinkerbell, who's stuffed with cotton but still very sweet) and an intern who likes it rough ... and I won't punish you 'cause Ilene's punishing me.

Real question: is the Auto-Fun better than nothing, or would you prefer I reserve my everything for cranking out blog posts? It doesn't take long to put out (ha! get it? "put out"?) the Auto-Fun but when it's been a while since I've posted a "real" blog, I start to feel guilty every time I put out an Auto-Fun instead. But there's a few actual posts in the works, clearly. Flying lesbians, contests to win dates with beautiful women for under $4,100, etc.

Also, FYI, it's not 1993. I'm testing you. Check your hair & your pegged jeans, get back to me.
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quote: "dream sweetly. steal something for me, something random and worthless. stay drunk, have fun, and use that 4 letter word more 'cause as much as it probably shouldn't be true? and I could not sit down and outline the parameters for how it's true, or anything is, I love you." [anonymous, 7.07]
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links: autostraddle recap of season five, episode 511: lifecycle (@autostraddle), my book! dirty girls! (@rkb), dealbreaker: the manorexic (@frisky.com), obama's speech (@cnn.com), the "urbane tomboys" (@NY Observer -- and Jaimie calls bullshit @surplus), the consistently stunning cass bird photographs the trans-everythings of NYC: "Secret New York" (@out magazine), hollywood loves the heartland but only to a point (@nytimes), q&a with the author of Cover Girls, a book made entirely from women's magazine text-blurbs (@nerve.com)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Auto-Fun of the Day:: 3-19-2008

quote: "I am astounded / by the various kisses we're capable of. / Each from different heights / diminished, which is simply the law. / And the big bruise / from the longer fall looked perfectly white / in a few years. / That astounded me most of all." ("Each from Different Heights," Stephen Dunn)
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links: 27 reasons why your story was rejected (@the willisden herald), the gruesome origins of popular fairy tales (e.g., "coma sex") (@cracked.com), five years of lies about iraq (@salon), we tell stories (@penguin uk), are you happy? (@ny review of books)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Auto-Fun of the Day:: 3-18-2008

quote: "The lemon tree could break off into real magic." (Jack Spicer)
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links: Junot Diaz Q&A (@metromix la), Politics and the English Language (@george orwell 1946), Great Poets of the 20th Century (@guardian uk books), Amis You Much/ANTM recap (@fourfour), Tibet Official Denies Shootings (@truthdig), A Night in the Streets with the City's Homeless (@nymag)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Auto-Fun of the Day:: 3-17-2008

quote: "When Sartre talks about responsibility, he's not talking about something abstract. He's not talking about the kind of self or souls that theologians would talk about. He's talking about you and me talking, making decisions, doing things, and taking the consequences. It might be true that there are six billion people in this world, and counting, but nevertheless --what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference, first of all, in material terms, to other people, and it sets an example. In short, I think the message here is that we should never write ourselves off or see each other as a victim of various forces. It's always our decision who we are." (Waking Life)
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links: Magical Thinking (@Psychology Today), The L Word Season So Far (@Autostraddle), America is Anti-Intellectual? (@Philadelphia Inquirer), A Tale of Two SXSWs (@Boston Globe), How Photos Support Our Own Concepts of "Reality" (@Salon.com), The Only Western Journalist in Lhasa Reports From a City Gripped in Fear (@The Times) (do something).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Auto-Fun of the Day :: 3-15-2008

***HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Semicolon/A;ex!***
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quote: "He who speaks in a written text is absent; you can’t interrupt him, propose questions, observations, comments. It’s a peculiar dialogue of two solitary people, but how much more alive sometimes than many of our conversations." (Rafael Cadenas)
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links: "hallelujah" is the most popular song ever as of right now (@boston globe), when girls will be boys (@ny times), does airborne work? (@slate.com), politicians and prostitutes (@feministing), "sylvia plath's poetry is "appalling" but it is also exhilarating. she embodied a seismic shift in consciousness which enabled us to think and feel as we do today": the mother of so much (@guardian uk), tao lin says promote my career for me (@reader of depressing books), did elliot spitzer get caught 'cause he didn't spend enough on prostitutes? (@slate.com), the official vulture statute of limitations on spoilers (@nymag)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sunday Top Ten: Let's Get Ready to Rumble!

Hi, we're in Texas! I've never been to Texas before, but obvs Tinkerbell will go anywhere for Uh Huh Her. Anyhow! Enough about me, stuffed animals and fan contests ... let's move on to the succulent red meat of this five-course blog: The Sport. That's right, sports! Sweaty athletes, flying balls, home runs, Dana Fairbanks, Anna Kournikova and those nimble determined gymnasts who sacrifice puberty for balance beams. Lozo, The Voice of Dissent, doesn't like my blog anymore 'cause he thinks I write too much about reading -- odd: post-vlog, the blog's basically become Lozo's Emperor's Club. But you know, that's fine. I'll post on his favorite (some might say only) topic, The Sport. You may think I do not like the sport 'cause I prefer speaking about my no.1 feeling: reading, and my no.2-100 feelings: also not sports. But obviously I DO like the sport, every day I go to gym and do sport for 30-60 minutes -- I get a sweaty forebrow, pump the iron with hot bodies, I'm heart-healthy, drink eight glasses of water a day and so forth.

Also I'm often dodging cars like Frogger. Like her. Uh Huh ... her. You've gotta be quick on your feet in this city. Sporty Spice is my fashion icon.

It's dark in here in our hotel; we've accidentally unplugged all the lights in favor of plugging in laptops. Mood lighting.

Are you in Austin for SXSW? Say so! There's a lot of bloggers blogging about SXSW this week, so I'll have to pick and choose what I choose to speak of. In the meantime, onto America's National Obsession, Much to my Bewilderment: The Sport.
Thursday Top Ten: The Sport
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10. Biking
I listed "Biking" as one of my top eight activities on college applications, my friends made fun of me, but I spent more time biking than I did at Student Council. I abandoned the bike when I moved to the city; couldn't show up sweaty everywhere. One summer though I couldn't take it anymore, sharing an office with Cameron who's obsessed with bikes, and M needed money for his manic island-crossing activities and was begging me to buy his and so I did and pedaled right back into the magic. The riding home in early evening was best -- I could sweat all I wanted. Starting along the Upper West's complacent refinery, across Central Park, breaking out onto Park Avenue, tearing through East Harlem -- rickety against abundant construction sites' gravel & surprising slopes, nearly skating on uptown's water-slick streets where kids play with hoses & sprinklers in the summertime. I wore M's rollerblading helmet. I listened to my iPod though everyone advises against it. If I crash, I will crash listening to Madonna. At home, walking back upstairs and lugging the bike, my legs felt like firecrackers. Maybe Noah was making dinner. The hallways in my building smelled like vegetables cooking, and dirt.
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9. Basketball

I wholeheartedly love the game of basketball, as I've said before. It's fast, you can see faces, and a college basketball stadium during the Final Four is an invigorating room. I believe I've written several times on my love of the Fab Five and so forth. Chris Weber, etc. Number one favorite sport to watch. I once played, we were defeated every season. That's the opposite of undefeated.
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8. Synchronized Swimming:
I'm a sucker for a good synchronized event (e.g., large musical numbers in children's films, Newsies), and an even bigger fan of old movie scenes with the ladies and the glitter and the legs kicking in the pool. Why don't they make movies like that anymore? I might actually go to movies if Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johanasen were splashing about and kicking legs in the air like mermaids. Good movie, The Little Mermaid.
7. Sledding
My favorite part of sledding is when it's over and then you can go home and drink hot chocolate. I like things that are both simple and fun.

6. Wrestling:

I'm a somewhat physically playfully aggressive person, just ask Carly, who I almost killed at the Tegan & Sara concert. I think that humans are a lot like monkeys, if we just let ourselves be free. I've never been an actual fight and I'm not an abusive person clearly, I like to wrestle out of joy, wrestling out of anger is demented and sad (sorry but it is). What was I talking about? Oh yes, men in tights like in The Breakfast Club, great film. Actual wrestling, especially World Wide Whatevers, is not fun or interesting. Actually I think it's the first horseman/knight/whatever of the apocalypse. Nevertheless, I've been known to challenge people to arm wrestling and lose. I have arms like little birds.

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5. Baseball

Still my favorite team is the Brooklyn Dodgers. Something robust and romantic, American, the sandlot. I think there was a national dream I once believed in, I think it had something to do with the number 42, dirt-and-grass-stained white pants, the word "home run," hot dogs, the excruciating possibility of extra innings, and how green everything seemed [or black and white, in photos] when the night-lights snapped on. Also, A League of Their Own -- raise your hand if you know the song by heart about the All American Girls 'cause I do! Now I just see beefy muscles. Baseball player biceps remind me of my ex-boyfriend who never cried except almost once, when the Yankees lost the series. I think I prefer movies about baseball to actual baseball, 9 times out of 10.


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4. Love
There was this YA Novel called M.V. Sexton Speaking that I read during The Summer I Decided to Read Every YA Novel in the Library (I believe I was 11 and clearly super-cool) and in it -- and again, I could be wrong here, 'cause I was wrong about the Pam Houston essay, clearly I have groundhog memory -- she signed a letter with "love and other indoor sports," which I thought was really clever. I use it all the time now and pretend like I'm the clever one when it wasn't me. All I know fo'sho is that I got the idea from a YA novel. Maybe that one. Maybe another. I'm old.

We did a lot of this before we were old enough to drink. I was never good at it, I just enjoy themed attractions. Like Pirate's Cove. Mostly the game was a sport of silent hockey between the part of my mind that was putt-putting away and the part that wanted to smash the fake windmill with my tiny club, drop my ball w/deceptive calmness into the fucking hole, throw everyone else's balls into the SARS-infested turquoise "river" and say '"I won!" even though I never won. At Putt-Putt you could win crazy prizes my Mom called "dust collectors." Also in Ypsilanti my friends got arrested at Putt-Putt for staying out past "curfew."
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2. Soccer:

I played soccer for a long time so I feel obligated to include it on this list. It was fun, except when we had to run around in circles for no apparent reason and practice heading or chest-butting the ball. I liked chocolate chip pancakes after school before practice; cramps ensued. The girls were cute.
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1. Exercise
All humans should exercise their bodies, I recommend the local gymnasium. I enjoy reading magazines on the Stairmaster and doing about 10-20 crunches, but many athletes enjoy more vigorous activities that could even be called "sports," like kickboxing and spinning. The Heart association says exercising is good for your hearts. I typed "heat" first instead of "heart." That's fine, it's likely the heat people think so too, except they've also got opinions about hydration. The obesity people say healthy exercise is good for your girth. Run, Forrest, Run! Tinkerbell enjoys frolicking, in Second Life Dwight is like Dwight except he can fly (I just read that in "bitch" magazine). My Mom used to mall walk. I'd cut corners, you can't cut corners, you may as well cut your life in half, let alone your girth.
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This Week in Corrections:
29 days in February guys. 29.
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This Week's Question:
What's your favorite sport? Figure skating, tennis club, ice hockey? Polo? Foosball? Guitar Hero?
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I always wanted to play rugby because it seemed to be a big hit amongst lesbos, and I liked the shirts. Also it seemed to involve wrestling.

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Sports I am bad at : volleyball.
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Sports that make best movies: basketball, baseball.
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I liked Rock 'n Jock, whatever happened to that?
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There's supposed to be a softball tournament and a Rock 'n Rollerderby here at SXSW, both of those things sound delicious!!
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