Sunday, March 30, 2008

one week

It's strange, and somewhat difficult, to have taken in a new cat, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it yet.

Llama is adorable, small and furry and nimble, jumping to places that Nova rarely, if ever, ventured. She is sweet, and will sometimes come dashing across the room for a little head rub. She is playful, chewing on her fishing-pole toy in the hopes of drawing my attention to it for a game of catch-the-cat.

Llama is much more talkative than Nova ever was, and seems to crave more vocal interaction with me than Nova ever wished for. It is entirely possible, though, that I am misinterpreting her yowls, her funny little chirps and squeaks that come across as queries and demands.

And I like her. I am already fond of her. I look forward to going home in the evening and seeing her newest favorite spot. Her first few days it was under the couch, collecting dust bunnies and unplugging the cable cord. Then it was on the desk, curled up into a little black ball behind my computer. And always there is the living room window sill, grooming herself in the sunshine or staring down to the little triangular plaza below.

It's impossible not to like her, b
ut I do not love her. I do not love her, and I feel almost guilty about this.

Here she is, this sweet little creature, purring and prowling and yowling around my little apartment, and I want Nova, with whom I had an understanding.

After eight years together, three apartments, seven roommates, and finally this last year of just the two of us, just us girls, with no outside forces to speak of, we knew each other well. And once Nova was gone, there was this empty space, both emotionally and, more practically, in my physical environment.

I spent these last two months going home at night to a home filled with silence. I sank into this silence a bit, went days at a time without speaking, would find myself taken aback when my cell phone rang, not always knowing how to slip back into the world again.

I am not writing of depression, or even of sadness exactly, but just an intensity of aloneness that I have not experienced before. And I didn't mind, for the most part, though I knew it couldn't continue forever.

And now there is Llama. Not Nova, but something new. Not yet adored, but beginning to be loved.

I guess I've figured out how I feel about it after all. And besides, as Ms. Maia pointed out, Llama and I, we have a certain affinity for black, and being the well-matched pair that we are, we can't possibly go wrong together.

Friday, March 28, 2008

oddly angular architecture

tv

I'm a little bit embarrassed to admit that I wish I had HBO right now. I couldn't have cared less about Tony Soprano, and though I hear The Wire's amazing I'm happy enough to just Netflix it (yes, Netflix is now a verb, just for the record). But what I'm really wanting to watch is HBO's In Treatment. Silly, I know, but there it is. I love Gabriel Byrne, am convinced he's one of the sexiest men alive. And I have a soft spot for Dianne Wiest, not only because of her stellar turn as the DA on Law & Order but also because I almost knocked her down on the corner of 79th & Broadway a couple years back, not watching where I was going (as is, alas, so often the case), and she didn't seem to mind.

And then there was this fascinating article in the Times not too long ago that just made me want to watch it all the more. For free, of course.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

quote of the day and other shenanigans

"We are just a normal family. We are non-denominational. We do not consider ourselves religious. When we are sick, we just lay our hands on the sick to heal them. We believe in the power of prayer."
-Wisconsin woman justifying watching her daughter die of entirely treatable diabetes

Have I mentioned how strange and beautiful and sometimes really, really scary I find the state of Idaho? Larry Craig has decided not to run for re-election, surprisingly enough, but the competition for his Senate seat is fierce, to the point where at least one candidate has legally changed his name.

I've been thinking about kids lately. Having them, I mean. Perhaps there's something to be said for the biological clock after all. But then I read this article and thought better of this whole hankering for kids thing.

Army Holds Annual "Bring Your Daughter To War" Day


Giant Sea Creatures Found In Antarctic Search

I went out for dinner yesterday with Marti, my Wisconsin friend, and so of course had to send her the article about the crazy mother (see quote of the day, above). She pointed out that Wisconsin is, after all, the location of the most infamous DWI of all time, or at least close to all time. She went on to point out that this particular article is incorrect. Half of the DWI team was in fact not legless, just paralyzed.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

a new familiar

Please welcome Llama, who arrived yesterday and, I imagine, will be making not infrequent appearances here on the Darker Mind.

At the moment she's safely ensconced behind the couch, collecting a thorough coating of dust. An hour ago she was wandering around the apartment yowling and refusing to come to bed. It was five thirty in the morning, too early even for me. We played for a little while, but apparently now she's done.

I, bleary eyed, am sipping coffee and wondering with just the slightest trepidation if this is how our mornings will go.


She is awfully cute, though, and a bit of a flirt.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

cover of the day

One of my favorite Tori songs, as channeled by Evans Blue.

This album, Amos' Boys for Pele, came out during the fall of my sophomore year at Barnard. My best friend and I, being pretty typical overly melodramatic 19 year old girls, loved each other passionately, fought constantly, wrote long convoluted letters of reconciliation, and so on and so forth. Independently of each other, we both dashed off to our nearest music stores the day this album came out and coincidentally the same quote made it's way into each of our letters in the next letter exchange.

building
tumbling down
didn't know our love was so small
couldn't stand at all

As I said, melodramatic. But I stumbled across this cover not too long ago and was amused beyond words by the thought of these scruffy, semi bad ass boys singing, "Boys in their dresses, and you're not here...."

Friday, March 21, 2008

crass behavior at MSG?

Shocking, I tell you. Just shocking.

The NY Times reports today that some fans at NY Rangers games here at our own inimitable Madison Square Garden behave badly every now and then. Who would've thought that hockey fans, on occasion, might be prone to spontaneous, or not so spontaneous, homophobic outbursts?

The Garden, as it's affectionately known, has a history of bad behavior. Most recently there was the scandalous sexual harassment trial of Isiah Thomas, head coach for the rather abysmally performing Knicks. Then there was the sordid tale of a poor Rangers cheerleader, fired soon after complaining of being sexually solicited by a Rangers executive and culminating in an undisclosed settlement soon after Thomas was found guilty.

Maybe the good old boys down there at the Garden will figure out the world's moved on, and such miscreant behavior is no longer the status quo.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

boys will be boys

If I have to hear the words "governor" and "sex" within close proximity in ANY form, whether it be call girl, hooker, prostitute, hustler, extramarital, gay, straight, three-way, whatever, I think I might be sick. I mean seriously, folks, just for a little while, if you can't keep it in your pants, at least keep it out of the media. Please. Please.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

mid-week round-up

Sally Kern of Oklahoma was bad enough, but now we've also got Gary George of Oregon. I'm showing my Pacific Northwest bias here, but I have to admit I expected better of Oregon. Maybe this is only because I've got family there, and my brother and his gyrl will be moving to Portland this summer, and I want them to be moving to a place of tolerance, not to a place that welcomes people like George.

SCOTUS had a big day yesterday, hearing arguments on the Washington, D.C.'s right to ban handguns within city limits. Justice Kennedy, our swing vote these days, "insisted that the amendment’s framers wanted to assure the ability of 'the remote settler to defend himself and his family against hostile Indian tribes and outlaws, wolves and bears and grizzlies and things like that,' as he phrased his concern with self-defense at one point."

I'm still trying to figure out how fear of hostile Indian tribes, wolves, bears, and grizzlies (and here I always thought grizzlies are bears) plays out in the 21st Century, but that's just me. I mean, does DC really have a wolf problem? An Indian problem? (Which Republican was it who went down over his macaw comment, anyway? Could this be Kennedy's reference? Indian problems for the new century?) A bear and grizzly problem?

On a somewhat happier note, Saudi Arabian women may soon be given the groundbreaking, earth-shattering, right to drive! With, of course, certain restrictions. The family of Laura Bush's first boyfriend might have appreciated these types of restrictions, so I suppose there's a certain elegance in her husband's family being in bed with the people enforcing them, but still, these are our allies in the Middle East? God help us.

And on a much more pleasing note, I just discovered this morning that Karen Green, fellow Columbian and librarian extraordinaire, has taken on the formidable task of crashing the world of comics and graphic novels into the world of ivory tower academia. And not only that, but she's writing about it! Check out Comic Adventures in Academia at comiXology.

Last, my friend Chris Mark has been somewhat obsessed recently with the video of George W. Bush doing a little dance for the press corps while waiting for John McCain to arrive. I've had to watch said video a couple times in the last week or so, and mention of said video resulted in one of my all-time favorite letters-to-the-editor, from the wife of the late Gene Kelly, dancer extraordinaire:

To the Editor:
(March 16, 2008)
Re “Soft Shoe in Hard Times” (column, March 16):

Surely it must have been a slip for Maureen Dowd to align the artistry of my late husband, Gene Kelly, with the president’s clumsy performances. To suggest that “George Bush has turned into Gene Kelly” represents not only an implausible transformation but a considerable slight. If Gene were in a grave, he would have turned over in it.

When Gene was compared to the grace and agility of Jack Dempsey, Wayne Gretzky and Willie Mays, he was delighted. But to be linked with a clunker — particularly one he would consider inept and demoralizing — would have sent him reeling.

Graduated with a degree in economics from Pitt, Gene was not only a gifted dancer, director and choreographer, he was also a most civilized man. He spoke multiple languages; wrote poetry; studied history; understood the projections of Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes. He did the Sunday Times crossword in ink. Exceedingly articulate, Gene often conveyed more through movement than others manage with words.

Sadly, President Bush fails to communicate meaningfully with either. For George Bush to become Gene Kelly would require impossible leaps in creativity, erudition and humility.

Patricia Ward Kelly
Los Angeles, March 16, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

quote of the day & other miscellanies

"I must say, I'm a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed. It must be exciting for you … in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks."
-our illustrious leader, addressing troops currently stationed in Afghanistan

I must say, Georgie darling, that you won't be employed here much longer, that the war will certainly continue beyond your termination date, and that some might argue you have the mental capacity of an adolescent (or, alternatively, a psychopath -- I hear the military's hard up for recruits these days). So go. Act out your romantic fantasies of combat duty since you missed out during Vietnam. Confront danger. Spread democracy. Make history. And, you know, thanks.

On a more domestic note, my beloved alma mater, Barnard, figured prominently in an article recently about the ever expanding horizons of gender. Specifically the place of transmale students at women's colleges. Just don't ask me about my take on this, because I haven't quite figured it out yet myself.

In yet another addition to the chronicles of Texas, a woman threw her children off a bridge the other day, and then jumped. Somehow they all survived.

Last, and I'm not sure which rock I've clearly been living under, but I just recently saw that there's a Broadway musical about my beloved neighborhood! Huh.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

hair apparent

Manic Panic, my favorite hair dye ever, got a mention in the Times recently.

In 9th grade I started dyeing my hair with food coloring. This worked just fine until I got caught in the rain, or a water balloon fight, or went for an impromptu midnight swim in the lake.

So then I started using henna. It reeked of alfalfa, or so I imagined alfalfa to reek, but it came in all sorts of lovely shades of copper and orange and red. And wouldn't cause cancer, or so my father argued.

Then 12th grade rolled around, and I was done with lovely shades of copper and orange and red. I was looking for black, and that required chemicals.


I finally got to Barnard in 1994 and discovered the joys of Manic Panic and the monthly trip to Trash and Vaudeville to procure it.

Fuschia and green streaks were my style of choice. I remember getting off the plane at SeaTac airport that December, meeting Mom's boyfriend Bill, and failing utterly to come up with a polite yet scathing response to, "Huh. Nice to meet you. When did you say you'll be going back to NY?" Luckily he wasn't around very long.

To this day I have a soft spot for Manic Panic.

alife

Friday, March 14, 2008

yarn lust

I've sworn off buying any more yarn for awhile (other than, of course, using the gift cards that Mom and Patti were kind enough to give me over the holidays...), but if I were still buying yarn, I might buy these:


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

bridge, 2.25.08

next nys governor?

It looks like David Paterson's rise to the governorship of New York State is inevitable, if not yet official.

I'm kind of ashamed to say that I didn't know much about the man, or his role as Lieutenant Governor this past year, until today, and I still don't know much. There's the obvious. He's black. He's blind. He would be the first black governor of New York (and only the fourth in the country). He would also be the first blind governor anywhere in the country. These are both pretty wonderful things, and major break-throughs in the ever ongoing fight for equality in all walks of life.

But beyond the historical aspect of his potential governorship, he would probably be a better governor than Spitzer. It seems that, despite being really, really smart, he actually gets along with people. He's got that big liberal heart, in that he apparently advocates gay marriage, stem cell research, and environmental awareness. And he's not only a Columbia College grad, but also an adjunct professor at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (Paterson - I handle library reserves - come talk to me!).

I'm taking this from the following sites, which are, of course, limited in scope and biased in content. Please let me know of any specific pieces you found informative, as I'd like to know more of the man who might be king, of this state at least.

New York State lieutenant governor page
Governing.com

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

politics as usual & other miscellaneous happenings

More on the Spitzer debacle:
A Fall From White Knight to Client 9
Eliot Spitzer's Monumental Fall From Grace

Here's to hoping Salon's Robert Shapiro and the New York Times' Ron Klain are correct in their primary season analyses.

In a shout out to Kayley, my bestest friend way back in Oakland in the late '70s -- I knew California rocked but I didn't necessarily know the California Supreme Court rocked. Apparently it does.

If you find yourself wondering, sometimes, why we need to continue to fight for gay rights, take a minute to listen to Sally Kern, an Oklahoma state legislator, waxing poetic about the absolute evil of the homosexual agenda, about how gays are worse than terrorists, and about how gays are now, apparently, going after 2-year olds -- off the record, of course, or so she thought.

William Kristol, part of the conservative bloc on the NYTimes Opinion pages, thinks that McCain would do well by asking Clarence Thomas to be his running mate. Given that he accused a black woman of instigating a "high-tech lynching" against him when she dared accuse him of sexual harassment (after all, what's a little pubic hair on a soda can between friends?), can you imagine his response to a negative presidential campaign ad?

On a more humorous note, the Worst Publishing Week Ever.

Monday, March 10, 2008

oh my broken heart

I've been reading headlines on and off since Arielle called me at work a few hours ago shrieking, "Thank God I reached you! Find a TV! There's something going on with Spitzer and a prostitution ring!" My ever eloquent response? "Huh?"

And that's kind of the thing. There's not really any other first reaction to have.

God, I was so excited when Spitzer first declared that he was going to run for governor. I mean, here was this guy, this Spitzer, this brilliant, liberal guy who was gonna take Albany back from all the corruption that had been plaguing New York State politics forever. Here was this guy who was gonna herald in a new age of progressivism, of equality, of standing up to the religious right and the political right and the hardcore blowhards who would do anything to subjugate large portions of society to their so-called moral high-ground. Here was this guy who wasn't gonna take shit from ANYONE, and who was more than willing to knock a few heads together, and who won the governorship with 70% of the vote.


And he had a rough time of it, a rough time acclimating to the world of politics as opposed to the more clear-cut world of the attorney general job, prosecuting the bad guys with an iron hand. As I mentioned last summer, Spitzer clearly had a lot to learn about this political thing, about playing the political game. But it seemed he was learning, albeit more slowly than his supporters might have wanted.

And now this. To go down over a prostitute just seems so sad, so pathetic, so unseemly, so, dare I say it, Republican. So very Larry Craig, so very David Vitter. On the other hand, both Craig and Vitter remain in Congress, so perhaps Eliot'll be alright.

Except it's an election year. An incredibly fucking important election year. Oh Eliot, my Eliot, what in the hell were you thinking??

Sunday, March 09, 2008

gulliver

Gulliver was the sole reason I ended up with Nova. When Elizabeth and I went to the ASPCA back in March of 2000, it was Gulliver we both fell in love with and wanted to bring home. The people there convinced us to take Nova as well, Gulliver's smaller, quieter, more reticent sibling. When Elizabeth and I parted ways the following year, Gulliver headed west with her and Nova stayed here with me. Given my adoration of Nova, I of course continue to believe that I got the best end of the deal, especially given the ASPCA's duplicity, in that these two cats weren't even related. But it's nice to know that Gulliver had a good life, and it's nice, too, to finally have a picture of him, sent by Elizabeth after our recent catch-up coffee after not seeing each other for seven years.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

song of the day

"let's pretend we never lie and tell our truths
and then let's cry real tears this time"

-Brand New Love, Serena Ryder

quote of the day

"You honor your reservations; you go to your meetings so we can clean the rooms; you're relatively quiet; and you drink more than the American Legion."
-hotel official, on hosting the ALA's annual conference

And in the same vein, you may already be familiar with my superhero, but did you know she now comes in a deluxe version? Oh yes.

Friday, March 07, 2008

dowd continues unabated

And the rest of us continue hating her.

On a more frustrating note, Samantha Power resigned from policy adviser status on the Obama campaign after calling Hillary a monster during a newspaper interview earlier this week. Yeah, yeah, she pretty much shot herself in the foot with that one, honestly, but that's what happens when you bring on actual academics instead of political players, and it will be to Obama's credit if he continues to do so.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

posole

I've been making posole lately, or some self-invented variation thereof, after coming across a bag of dried Giant White Corn in amidst the piles of Goya beans at my local grocery store.

1 lb. bag Giant White Corn
water
chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 heads of garlic
4 chicken thighs, skin removed
1 tablespoon butter
cayenne pepper
black pepper to taste
2/3 cup white wine
a couple tomatoes
1 avocado
1/4 red onion
limes

I never think far enough ahead to soak beans or, in this case, strange-looking giant dried out kernels of corn, overnight, so instead, here's what I do. I empty my 1-lb. bag of whatever into a pot, cover by an inch or so with hot water, bring to a boil for a couple minutes, remove from heat, and let soak for an hour or two. Then I can get started with the recipe.

Drain and rinse the corn, put back in pot, cover with a mixture of water and broth, put on stove over medium/low heat, let simmer for a long time, probably an hour or two, adding water as needed to keep the corn covered. Peel a head of garlic, lightly smash the cloves, and toss those in as well. The kernels never get soft, per se, but rather seem to maintain a rather odd texture no matter how long you cook them. I like this texture, slightly chewy, slightly crunchy, as do the people I've served this to. (I'm pretty sure they weren't just saying this since they both had seconds.) I added more chicken broth as well as a bouillon cube. The first time I added a packet of Goya seasoning, but not the second. It was good both ways.

Peel and chop the remaining half of a head of garlic. Heat the butter in a saute pan and brown the chicken thighs over high, then turn down heat and transfer the thighs to the corn pot. Add the garlic and maybe a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the saute pan with the butter, cook until the garlic is golden, then add white wine and cook till reduced by half, scraping up the chicken bits. Add all of this to the corn pot, also. Let simmer until chicken is thoroughly cooked, then remove thighs with slotted spoon, remove the chicken meat from the bones and return to pot, season with black & cayenne pepper.

Dice the tomatoes, the avocado, and the red onion, mix in a bowl with juice of half a lime, a pinch of coarse salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Serve over posole, with a Negra Modelo and extra lime wedges.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

henry the hexapus & other animalistic oddities

Marine biologists were astonished recently when they found an octopus that failed utterly to live up to its name. Isn't he just the cutest thing you ever saw?

Okay, maybe not. Actually, I think this video that Dave sent me awhile back is probably the cutest thing I have ever seen. Take a gander, if you will, at the swimming sloth. Dave claimed he saw this and it brought me to mind. I'm still not sure how to react to this.

And then there was Gail Collins' piece that mentioned a mallard, though it wasn't actually about a particular mallard, rather about presidential hunting season, so to speak. Definitely worth a look.

Last, in this catch-all critter post, dear family friend Jeff Rundell sent an email a month or so ago that I've been meaning to share: "I am reading about Noah's Ark in Wikipedia. Just after they say that about 2/3 of Americans believe in the ark, they say that 12% think Noah was married to Joan of Arc!" I can't help but wonder if that's the same 12% who think they've seen alien space ships.

Well, almost last. I've come to the unavoidable conclusion, after being cooped up in this apartment for days on end, miserable with the flu, that what I really need in my life is a cat. So after work tomorrow, it's on to the pet store for litter box, food bowl, food, etc. And then on Saturday it's on to the ASPCA to see if there isn't a little fluffball just waiting to come home with me.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

fever

I've been down for the count these past few days, sporting a fever of, at its peak, 101.8, alternating between the chills and the sweats, overcome with head aches and body aches and painfully tingly skin and scalp and eyes. I was trying to explain the skin thing to my mom this afternoon and it sounded like she thought I was being weird, but this skin thing is something that's always gone hand in hand with a fever, at least for me, and I guess I'd assumed everyone else shared this experience too. Do you?

This is the first time I've had a fever in years, I think. Colds, yes. Hangovers, yes. Aches and pains, yes. But no fever, and no tingly skin. It's been a weird couple of days, holed up in my little apartment, shades drawn so as to avoid direct sunlight in my southwest facing living room.

One nice thing about the last couple days is that I rediscovered how nice a hot bath can be, especially one involving Burt's Bees Apricot Baby Oil or alternatively, an odd fizzy lavender thing that my mom gave me awhile back, in the form of a lion's face and hiding a toy deer at its center. The lavender fizziness made for a lovely bath, but I'm not sure what to do with the toy deer, other than leave it where it is, on the windowsill in the bathroom.

Still, it was a relief to wake up this morning to a normal temperature, and to feel the inclination to eat something, and to, you know, maybe start joining the outside world again. I went for a walk around the block, and I went to the grocery store, and I came home. That was enough of the outside world for today.