Saturday, December 31, 2005

Fresh fuel for the sodium flares.

Our landlady's cleaning team (yeah, that's right) is flitting around upstairs. I'm still confused as to how much shit can crop up around a person who is never home, but it's beginning to crystallize as once a month the whole house trembles with the activity of three latina women and their cleaning appliances.

She's a sweet girl, but it's times like these that her strange priorities hit me squarely. The house is very literally falling to pieces, but won't she be damned if it doesn't sparkle on its way down? Her brand new upstairs washer/dryer combo has just flown off kilter and is sending showers of paint chips from the closet ceiling onto our clean towels. The loose panes of glass in the front door are dancing in time to her dishwasher. A vaccuum has been turned on and my computer screen is flickering accordingly, running on the fumes of our electrical system. Some industrious soul is cleaning the carpets and the whirring is competing with the efforts of our newly installed, eleven year old boiler (she discovered it moldering in another basement where it was apparently just waiting to shine in our's).

But her new rhododendrons look so nice encased in snow, and the chandelier is just lovely spinning on its last rotted nail.

Friday, December 30, 2005


From earlier this month, but right now I'm plumb out of ideas.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Is that you?

Still a little shaky from drinking with our betters last night.

We saw Chronicles of Narnia this evening. It was pretty and mild and dimensionless, and the perfect toast to my reeling stomach--until some kid threw up all over herself and her nachos and very nearly on my heels. I suppose that's what we get for insisting on driving the twenty minutes out to suburbia for our viewing pleasures (under the flimsy excuse that the sound is better at the Transit Regal, when really it's just that I can't stand the smell of weed). But it's a fair trade.

Oh, and I've a weenzy crush on Tilda Swinton. Her arms are like Hera's, though her makeup could've used some popping. I'm also going to suggest Orlando for the billionth time. It's got Billy Zane....

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


It was a harrowing end to the holiday. The Cousin Who Will Not Be Named decided that to drive home after a bottle and a half of wine would not be safe. Clearly not understanding the danger she put herself in by opting to stay.

At seven she scooped up my uncle's skittish dog and started to cuddle it and coo repeatedly, "She comes to no one else but me. She loves me best" as the poor things soul drained from its eyes.

At eight she smacked my dad in the back of his head and got a severe talking-to that shut her up until eight forty--

--when she bounded into the computer room where Alex and I were lurking, spilled her don Ramon, and leapt into Alex's lap for what I obligingly timed to be seventeen minutes. And he sat, good man, and comitted himself to one of his store of benign expressions, and played Mario Cart, and looked at her not at all, and endured the screaming and whisker-pulling and desperate pleas for attention--an unlikely Santa to her spoiled brat.

At ten thirty we had a reprieve when the accent she'd affected since her five day trip to Spain finally breathed its last.

And then there was this morning, when she yawned mightily from the back room and called into the quiet: "Guys? How do you spell lusive? As in lusive dreaming."

Friday, December 23, 2005


Spent the bulk of Christmas Eve apologizing to mortified babas for my language. It seems that I can't carry on any kind of conversation without swearing. There was the flurry of whoopses and half-finished sentences in the first half hour of mingling. By dinner I was reduced to pointing and sputtering. After gift-opening my stores of default profanity had been stretched thin and at the stroke of midnight all of my baloneys turned back into bullshits.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


I kick a fair amount of ass at holiday gatherings. Years ago I went toe to toe with my fearsome great-aunt and won for myself a place as second-in-command in her kitchen. It seems that my abrasive and unyeilding nature was the perfect fit for her culinary regime. That or she figured if I was going to be constantly poking about in her fridge, she might as well put me to work.

The position is a lofty one and I'm granted the ready fear and respect that all cooks enjoy in their own kitchens. It's a heady experience that has nothing to do with food or drink and everything to do with being Big Fat Kitchen Bully. All I need is a wide skirt, some yapping dogs, and an extra hundred and fifty pounds and I'll be ready to join the ranks of the terror-inspiring, spoon-weilding tyrants of yore.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Fuelus Nationalia that all of New York should pay terrible gas prices. And all had to pay, every one in his own city. And the man went up from Roswell, out of the Medical Corridor, into the Elmwood Village and unto his home to consume the precious heat with his espoused wife who was a great child. And so it was that while they were there, the days of winter were accomplished that she should go crazy and insist on keeping the heat at 60 degrees. And she brought forth her madness, and wrapped herself in a swaddling Red Blankee, and sat herself shivering with it at the dining room table because there was no room in her miserly soul to pay one damn cent more.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Oh, man. I just found out that Tolkien's Earendil was inspired by Anglo Saxon poetry, specifically Crist, where "earendel" is linked to the morning star. Blows my mind.

And also, Wikipedia is dominated by the geeks. There's an extensive breakdown of the Halfelven line there that makes me embarassed.

And now that no one at all is reading, I can come out and say that Thundercats Season One was released on dvd this past Tuesday. Good week.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Part Deux.

The front man's eyes are crooked. And the dude way in the back on the left is totally throwing up the horns.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Ever pass by a mirror and think "Whoa, crazy person"?

Today the yo-yo-ing temperatures decided to make an embarassment out of me. I will blame the weather, as my cloistered life demands no dress code and I should not be held accountable to walls and rugs for my appearance. If things go well or poorly for my state of affairs, credit is given to an outside force--an angry puck of the Tangled Hair Guild, or, in today's case, the fitful elements.

And they raged. My hands puffed and shrivelled accordingly. My hair alternated between clinging to my scalp for warmth and springing away from my head at right angles towards any spare heat. All very amusing until I emerged into public for food. As I walked to my table and unwound myself from Midgardian lengths of scarf and drifts of snow, I got the look/look away/snicker from a table of glossy ladies and decided that "hats on" was the way to go. And that from now on I would keep the dining to inside with my uncomplaining tea cups and broken kitchen chairs.

Rocking faces.

I've spent more time being driven home in snowstorms to Bon Jovi's Dead or Alive than I care to discuss.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


This is the best time of the year for study. When the bones of the earth are just poking through.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Keeping the receipt.

A copy of N.Y. Salad arrived yesterday. Much sooner than expected. I went mano a mano for my Amano with our wretched mailman who took his sweet time finding a pen and who had the temerity to touch my hand and rest his boot inside our lobby. I swallowed the bile and smiled like a darling and quelled the impulse to do something evil and inspired with his Bic. Then ran whooping into the house--all loathsome contact forgotten.

It's a lovely book and will look even better after I slice it open and harvest its pictures for the kitchen. I'm feeling some guilt, but it seems I'll do anything to add to the horde of obscure hangings that runs rampant over our walls. It's actually starting to get a little ridiculous in here. Things are walking a faint line between dark nursery rhyme and geek chic. I think I'm going to have to start roping sections off before things get violent and the iron frogs start suing for territory and Shakespeare's Britain starts developing fleets of its own.

Monday, December 12, 2005

"She ate me up for breakfast. She put me in a vice."

Wanna see the slow decay of the creative mind? Illustrator Louis Wain fell victim to schizoprhenia in 1917 but kept drawing well into his illness, fixated on cats. By degrees, his style changed in some startling ways.

It's fascinating to witness the documented disintegration of an artist through his work. Thing is, the pieces made during the late stages of his affliction are arguably better than anything done previous.

I was given a tart "Don't even think about it," after humming appreciatively over those last paintings. But I can't help but feel that Wain may have stumbled upon something in his insanity--or was cursed to madness for an unlucky discovery. Nor can I shake the image of what I suspect he eventually became--a figure sitting over a fire, clasping his creation between two fingers and burning away all traces of mortality from the canvas. Until all that was left was the divine essence of Feline. A thing of fire and mathematical beauty, with only a faint telltale thumbprint sealed into the paint to hint at what was once body and blood. Or whiskers and fur.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


In order to keep up appearances, we are headed off to my parents'. I would have liked to surprise them, but that would have given my mom no time to make potato salad for our arrival.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


From the mind of a crazysmart local. An experiment.

I'm not sure if I like it. I'm also not sure if I should be 'experimenting' with people's Christmas gifts. Another version is in the works, along more traditional lines. I like giving people a lesser-of-two-evils option.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Score one for the grandkids.

My grandmother-in-law has her quirks. She looks disturbingly like Larry King. She refers to herself almost exclusively in the third person and she never shuts up. But she's got an engaging gap-toothed smile, she's quick as a whip, and she yarns on about life in 1930's NYC. We get along famously. It's been a while since she's had someone who doesn't quit the room at the first hint of a story, and it's a novelty for me to have a grandparent who doesn't give me old cereal box toys on my birthday.

That being said, she is hell to buy for at Christmas. She's naturally picky and, as a matter of principle, has decided to be nervy in her old age. Every year we agonize over her gift and wait in a state of terror/delight to hear those words: "Well, I'm not sure exactly where a single-serving tea pot is going to go in my packed cupboards. But it certainly is interesting."

So, this year, I threw my hands up, uttered a gusty "fuck it" and bought the fallback of all presents. One bitsy tantrum, two free gifts, and an obnoxious amount of money later, and we were headed out of Godiva in shame. But apparently thoughtlessness and snazzy gold wrapping are the perfect combination, because three days later she called us crowing:
"Guess what arrived today! You sure do know what Grandma likes!"

Monday, December 05, 2005


Is it too late to take back all of the nasty shit I said about Fiona Apple's latest?

I've been listening to her on the sly. And while I still maintain that Extraordinary Machine is full of show tunes masquerading as adult contemporary pop, it seems that cutting back to a cigarette a week has restored my vocals, and I'm beginning to take a sick pride in being able to hit those annoying high notes.

I really just use it for my morning musical exercises. Gets me prepped for my lunchtime System of a Down.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Short "O", not long.

The heat is working, though one wouldn't know it by the temperature I've been keeping things at lately--but I miss my plumbers. I miss the clanging and whistling beneath my feet. The trembling floors and jets of steam and the sounds of industry, however misplaced. It was all very Hephaestian around here for a couple of days.

And (clumsy segue) speaking of the classics, I got a pleasant surprise when I found that our apprentice plumber had majored in Latin and math . It's not often that a girl in overalls and soot stands tinkering at your thermostat and says, "I'm checking for bleeders in your radiators--I'll be out of your hair in a second, if I could just steal some paper towels. Oh, and if you like Ovid, you should probably check out Catullus."


Friday, December 02, 2005

"Maybe you should offer them a fireflower?"

Sittin' in a blankee. In the freezing cold.

Doot dee doot.

Our heat's not working. The plumbers came yesterday morning and wrestled with the boiler until eight. It was a grand effort with much banging and swearing and a few scattered conversations about thug life that I could just barely make out beneath the floorboards. But some thingy still won't ignite. They promised to return with the broad daylight, but I've heard nothing as of yet and the temp just dropped to 57.

No matter. I like a good challenge. There are two hundred fifty million Chinese people who are only recently getting heat in their homes, so who am I to complain? Besides, I have faith in our handymen. Not only because the head plumber is kindof cute (and I only say kindof for decency's sake), but also because his apprentice has a cell phone that rings to the tune from Mario Brothers.