Tuesday’s Goal – Appreciation

I like many things. For me, life is terrific. Still, sometimes I get so caught up in monotony, negativity, cramps, anxiety, insomnia, self-loathing, gloom, grading papers, or bad TV (Oh Sixteen and Pregnant! Why are you so compelling?), that I fail to appreciate the many wonderful things, places and people that add quality to my every day. Today, I will think about what pleases me, so here, in no particular order, are some things that I am currently very happy about or grateful for:

1. The fact that grammar is evolving and it is becoming more and more accepted to end sentences with prepositions. This makes much more sense and does not compromise the flow of ideas with the convoluted acrobatics which one must undertake in order to make one’s point fit the rule. I am, however, against the aggressive campaign to do away with the adverb,  but this post is not about what I am opposed to. Let’s just say, I am for grammar, but in moderation, and as I see fit.

I am grateful for structure and rules, and for adaptation and progress.

2. I like this:


I am grateful for innovation and those who try new things.

2. Austin, why you so cool? In honor of you, here is a cool picture of a cool chick keeping cool in the Austin heat:

I am grateful for Austin, my friends in Austin who take me to cool places, and those who accessorize so well that their popsicles match their hair. That beats the carpet and the drapes any day.

4. I like these two topical covers from old New Yorker magazines:

The first is called “Dark Spring”, by Christoph Niemann. You can check out some of  his other work here: http://www.christophniemann.com/index.php/portfolio

The second is “Rubbed Out”, by Gurbuz Dogan Eksioglu. His name is spelled with umlauts and other accent marks I don’t know how to type or speak. He’s Turkish. You can see some of his work here:


I am thankful for art, designs, things that make me think, and those who create things that are beautiful, haunting, compelling or meaningful.

I’m also grateful that my parents subscribe to magazines and then give them to me when they are finished… even the Martha Stewart magazine. There. I admitted it. I’m grateful for the New Yorker, The Sun, and the A.V. Club section of The Onion.

4. Louis C.K.’s show, “Louie” is back! Yayyyyy! Catch it on Thursdays on FX. Here is a review of the season premiere: http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/whats-alan-watching/posts/review-fxs-louie-returns-for-season-2-darker-and-smarter-than-ever

5. I’m grateful for good music. If there was no good music, I might love that Todd Rundgren song, “We Gotta Get You a  Woman.” Or “Muskrat Love”, by the Captain and Tenille.

Right now I like this guy my friend KB turned me on to, Graham Reynolds. Not only is he a creative composer*, but a balls -to -wall banging piano player, AND a cool, give-back-to-the community-type person. Here is a video of him and this bad-ass teenage violinist, Ruby Jane Smith

Ruby Jane sings and writes songs, too. She’s so bad-ass!

* In an interesting and serendipitous coincidence, Graham Reynolds composed the score to the movie Through A Scanner Darkly, that my friend Kari did the costumes for!

I also like this:

So, I am thankful for great music and the many people who turn me on to it. You know who you are. Thanks!

5. I am hearting pistachio ice cream these days. So sweet and creamy, but wait! Is that a crunch and a hint of salt on my tongue? Yumbiliyah!

6. I am reading a new book and I love it so much! It’s called Super Sad True Love Story, and it’s by Gary Shteyngart. I first read a short story that featured the main characters of the novel in the New Yorker‘s 20 Under 40 fiction series (again, thanks for being you, wordy, sometimes way-over-my-head-magazine!) and was immediately intrigued, but the book has just blown me away. It’s funny and sad and scary. Shteyngart is a master of dialogue and a true wordsmith, and the story is an amazing commentary on so many topics: mortality, consumerism, media, marketing, love, loneliness, politics, the immigrant experience, government, youth, religion, priorities, class, consciousness, social worth …I could go on. It’s also dystopian, and you know I eat that shit up! Here is a trailer for the book, which was released last year and is now in paperback. By the way, Shteyngart was James Franco’s teacher.

I didn’t even know they had trailers for books.

I am so grateful I can read!

7. I am truly, eternally, unfailingly grateful for my family, those who I am related to by blood, and those by bond. I love you so much, and my relationships are my very best thing. Thank you for caring, coming back, forgiving, tolerating, appreciating, coaxing, encouraging, sympathizing, taking care, picking up the bill, petting my dog, emailing, laughing, not laughing, listening, hoping for the best, not giving up, pretending you didn’t smell that, sending cards and letters, looking forward to my arrival, picking me up, dropping me off, making me dinner and telling me goodnight. All of you… I’m just so lucky. Thank you!

This appreciation thing could go on for days, but I type really slowly, and so I have been sitting on a wicker chair in my shorty-shorts for about 300 hours now, and I can no longer feel my tush. I am exhausted with gratitude, worn out with the felicities of fortune that have graced me, and wrapped in a feeling of goodness and deep appreciation. Really. This goal shit worked!

I am really grateful that my biggest problem today is that I have so many things that I appreciate that it put my ass to sleep. If you have read this far, I really appreciate you, too! Your stamina and fortitude are admirable, and you should be rewarded…so I’ll stop now. You’re welcome. And thank you.

Talkin’ Tube

At one point in my life, I had an ex-boyfriend sit down with a boyfriend-to-be to discuss the situation, which was, in this case, not an abs obsessed asshole, but me. They were layin’ it down, mano a mano, tellin’ it like it be. I wasn’t there, and they could say anything, anything at all, as part of a man ritual: the passing of a chick baton. “Yeah,” the old said to the new. “She’s cool with the tube.” Words to love by.

I am cool with the tube, though it’s taken me a long time to admit it. First of all, I had to overcome a prejudice, and that was that since tv takes away from reading, and only dumb people don’t read (I told you it was a prejudice), if I admitted how much I watch tv, then everyone will know how little I read, and hence what a dummy I actually am. Second, I have not always been the most discerning of viewers. I have watched some things, with great glee and gusto, that are, as they say in the UK, “pure shite.” Worse still, lots of crappy tv, made for the consumption of the sentimental, sappy, easily manipulated masses, has made me cry and cry, or smile maniacally, wrapping my arms tightly around myself as if I were straight jacketed, rocking back and forth after a long day’s work. I’ve been moved, more than once, by commercials. I do trust that little Geiko lizard. I’m Joe Viewer, and I’m a teleholic.
That being said, I have embraced my inner sappy dum-dum slug. I enjoy the disconnect that comes from sitting – or, who am I kidding, laying down – and saying, point blank, “You, over there! The one who is emanating rays! Entertain me!” I like to judge and feel real emotion about people and situations that have nothing to do with myself. I like stories. I feel more comfortable with some fictional characters than I do with some family members.
I have taken to watching a series on the BBCA that is shamelessly heartwarming reality show, which is almost the worse kind. It’s called The Choir. It’s about this guy, Choirmaster Gareth, who goes into different environments and starts choirs. It’s riveting, I tell you! Gareth shows diverse groups that they have something within them of which they can be proud. As a teacher, I get a vicarious thrill every time some kid, lonely old guy, or drained housewife looks at him/herself and says, “I’m not ‘alf bad, now am I?” As a human, I am reminded again and again that everyone needs to feel valid and valuable, and it doesn’t take much to be kind and create opportunities for others to be proud of themselves. There’s the extra bonus of having this show set in England; I like their accents and expressions, like “snarky” and “well, it’s a crap town, now, innit?” I listen to the BBC radio all night, on account of I have the insom-ni-yay (I’m trying to be positive about it), and I have grown to love and feel comforted by Brit-speak. I am also real sweet on Britney-speak, y’all, but that’s a whole different post. Anyway, The Choir rocks. You should watch it. Don’t hate! Try it!
I also think I like Louis CK’s new show on FX, Louie, which just finished up its first season. I am not sure if I truly like it, because sometimes it’s hard to take. Louis CK is a comic, and he’s funny, but sometimes the shows are more disturbing than they are amusing. Still and all, two of the episodes I thought were terrific. The first was from 8/26, which was all about religion. In the beginning of the ep, Louie is in the bathroom, washing his hands. An average guy, dark suit and nondescript face, walks in, does his business, and heads for the sink. He spies a hole in the wall that has the word ‘heaven’ written above it in shaky caps. You can almost see the light bulb go on over his head as he unzips and moves towards the hole. Glory be! Louie is alarmed.
“Hey! What are you doing?”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” the man says pleasantly. “Were you going to use it?”
“No!” Louie cries out. “You’re not really going to stick you’re penis in that hole are you?”
“Well, yes I am,” the man replies.
“Have you done that before?” Louie asks incredulously.
“Nope!” says the balding business man, smiling.
“Why would you do it?” asks Louie, still trying to understand.
“You gotta have faith.” That’s the answer. Faith. You just have to believe that despite all evidence and speculation, sticking your dick through an opening in a dirty bathroom because someone who went before you described it as ‘heaven’ is a good idea. That’s just the beginning of this show. I loved it, and thought about it for days. Hang on….I was just thinking about it again. That’s good stuff.
The other ep I really liked was the season finale, when Louie has a really shitty night in which he tries to combat his crushing loneliness. It’s bad, and it never gets better. It’s an entire evening of hope dashed. Who does a season finale about loneliness? That’s not uplifting! Loneliness isn’t zany! It lacks the wacktackular, but it’s real. I’m not sure every episode is so great, but if he doesn’t get cancelled, I’ll be back next season fo’ sho’.
I love The Daily Show. I love Jon Stewart. He’s smart, funny and hot. That’s right; I say GRRRR! I lovelovelove him. He had Jon Hamm of Mad Men on the other day. I love when guys named Jon without the ‘h’ who are on a show I love have other guys named Jon without the ‘h’ who are on a show I love..
Have I mentioned I love Mad Men? I so do.
I like some other popular shows also. Modern Family – funny, and that one lady from Colombia is my new lady crush. She’s smokin’ hot and completely non-threatening. Most of my lady-crushes could crush my head like a walnut; I can’t help it, I like the fierce ladies. This one is way out of my league, but a real nice person, too. Nice.
Parenthood – I am sucked in, and I like that the message at the end is so Sister Sledge. The Bravermans are now part of my tv family, and I’m not ashamed to say it loud, say it proud. Also, Dax Shepard, who is in the movie I’ll talk about later is in this show. How’s that for a coincidink.
I watch Project Runway, though I hardly ever like the clothes, and I watch Weeds, though I hate the main character.
Some shows I just don’t get. I tried to watch Jersey Shore, but I ended up feeling bad for those people and for the state of humanity. Don’t they know how they are? Watching it is like standing on the corner and making fun of the short bus. I tried to watch True Blood, but that Anna Paquin; she’s so, how can I put it, shitty as an actress. Insipid, I tell you. My friend Chi-Toh watches it, but he says he’s only in it for the sex. I like sex, but I don’t think I’d be into vampire sex. I’m Team Mammal. Vampires are all greedy and selfish, on account of they only want you for your blood, and I hear they are cold, freezing cold, including their vampenises and vampginas. Why get involved? Needy vampire, who will kill you but never really let you die, or frozen pudding pop, that will achieve basically the same effect if correctly and creatively applied, but that has the bonus of being delicious and providing the recommended daily allowance of calcium? It’s a no-brainer to me.
I saw one of the most resonant movies I have ever seen on TV, Idiocracy. I saw it late night one insomniac evening, when it came on after Pauly Shore’s classic Son-In-Law, which I watched solely because I am credited at the end of it. No, really. I am. I have had a long and interesting life, and that is just one tiny part of it. Even the thrill of dubious fame doesn’t make it worthwhile to watch Son-In-Law. I do, however, think of Idiocracy, an almost equally shitty movie, at least once a week when I am at school. Though truly bad, it is totally prophetic.


I’m not sure what language the subtitles are in, but so what, right?

Oh! Double embed! Yes! I’m on fire!
I could probably write for hours about tv, and lately I’ve been really glad to have it. I think it’s part of getting back to school. I go to work, deal with all this stuff I never imagined I would have to think about, and come home, as the lovable Brits say, “positively knackered.” All I want is to let go, to relax, and not have to make decisions that are important. I don’t want anyone to depend on me, and I don’t want to have to be tactful or polite. I want to hang out in my boxers, eating fiery hot pickled green beans out of the jar. However, immersing myself in a world that has nothing to do with reality, and in which the relevant human contact is negligible, I am lonely, like Louie. Not season finale lonely, but lonely none the less. The more I watch, the more I realize I have nobody to watch with. Sometimes the only sound in my house is the sound of my fake friends fake laughing. It’s quite the paradox. I crave the solitude, and I when I get it, I’m saddened. Only one thing to do: wait until 10 when Jon Stewart comes on. He loves me and I love him, and we are oh-so-happy when we are together. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
P.S. This post goes out to Em, who invites me over to watch our stories, and who opens a bottle of wine and gives me a blanket and makes me feel like the guest of honor every Friday. We pause the shows and talk about the week , and we laugh, and sometimes we even dye our hair or do a little dance. Good times, Em! This Friday, I’ll bring the cheese and crackers!

Bathing is Overrated

Louis XIV, by Hyacinthe Rigaud

Guess what! I managed to work in one of the only three jokes I remember more than the punchline to into this post! Yay, me! See if you can find it!

Well, it’s officially summer. Regina Spektor* sings a song about it that starts out, “Summer in the city – it’s cleavage, cleavage, cleavage!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syqLReA_okU&feature=related That seems like a fine “summary” (Yay! A pun!), but it doesn’t quite address the other part of summer, which is MIZ-ER-A-BULL, if you live in, well, most of the continental United States.

I deliver this seasonal rant every year: Summer is so HOT! People die in this heat. It’s like living on Mars. Mars is the one that’s real hot, right? It’s hot when the sun comes up and it’s hot when it goes down, too. Birds walk with their beaks open in pathetic yellow v’s; it’s too hot to fly and they have to be ready, in case, inexplicably, a of drop moisture from unknown origin flings itself down their gullets. Fat chance of that, dummies. (What? Birds aren’t particularly known for their intelligence, are they?) There are bugs EVERYWHERE, in the sky, in the water, even in the grass…what are those little bugs in the grass called again…Chiggers? I think they prefer to be called Chegroes, but that’s not the point; the insects are crazy this year! (Did you see it? Get it? No matter how many times I tell it, it’s still funny, right?! By the way, before you berate, it’s not racist, it’s word play, you know, like Shakespeare did! Racism’s not funny, but Chegroes are hilarious!) The mosquitoes look at me as if I am their takeout order delivered. Just to go into the garden in the morning I have to cover myself in bug spray and slather on the sunscreen, which then makes the mud from the constant watering of the garden cake up all over me, especially between my toes, and, oddly, behind my left ear. When I ride my bike around the lake, even early, perspiration pours from me as if it was on tap. I’m dirty, sweaty and greasy all the time, and I’m sick of it.
I once had a boyfriend – no, really, I did!- who said that I was a closet dirty person. It’s true – my personal hygiene has always been a little questionable, but nobody can ever really tell. For example, is that a lovely golden tan I’m sporting, or just a thin patina of grime? Can’t tell, can ya? Well, I’m coming out of the closet. I’m not bathing for the rest of the summer. I mean really, what’s the point? I’m setting my funk free. Not only that, I’m not wearing anything tight, restrictive or uncomfortable, which pretty much leaves me in a sports bra and man-panties. Grrrr! That’s a whole different kind of hot, right?! It’s summer in the city man; nothing wrong with cleavage, cleavage, cleavage! I haven’t showered in two days, and I’m not going to start now! Join me, people! Let’s not let our actions be dictated by the undeniable forces of nature! Surrender to sweat! Dive into dirt! Grime is groovy! Revel in your own rank ripeness! Who’s with me?

* I believe I have already mentioned that in another of Ms. Spektor’s songs, “Apres Moi”**, she gives a piece of advice I find myself revisiting surprisingly often: “Be afraid of the lame – they’ll inherit your legs.” I don’t really know what she means, but since I’m afraid of so many, many things, I just added this to the list. Better safe than sorry, non?
**As you are probably aware, “Apres Moi”*** is an allusion to Louis XV’s famous qoute, “Apres moi, le deluge,” or “After me, the flood.” I have always quite liked this quote, and have declared it loudly, with a flourish, to the lucky patron’s of various adult beverage establishments, during festive, celebratory periods. Invariably, I get an identical response: I am stared at in an awed silence, then mocked, and subsequently cut off. I have always understood it to mean one of three things: EITHER, “after me, or my reign, there will be chaos and turmoil”, which seems a little harsh to put on a bunch of happy drunks; OR, “after I’m gone, I don’t give a crap if you folks are all swallowed by a flood” – again, kind of a buzzkilll; OR, “after me, everything will be different, like it was after the flood.” This last one suits me, for while I am completely self-aggrandizing and self-centered, I am in no way a mean or spiteful drunk. Louis the one-five, was, by most accounts, a real jerk, but he can kind of be forgiven because he was born into it; he was king by the time he was five years old, and his dad, Louis XIV, who declared himself “the Sun King”, was a real asshole. He ruled for something like 70 years and was an absolute monarch, and while he built France into a major seat of culture and power, he bankrupt the country and levied enormous, crushing taxes on the peasants while exempting the rich from payment. He adhered to the Divine Right of Kings, which says that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, and is granted the right to rule by God Himself. Louis XV’s big quote is “L’etat, c’est moi,” which means, basically, “Oh hells no! I AM the state, bitchez!” Rumor has it that when he gave a ball, nobody was allowed to leave the room as long as he was in it, not even to go to the bathroom. When I visited his castle at Versailles, I noticed that the Great Hall still smells like pee-pee. Still! It’s been 300 years! Louis himself sat on a big throne with a hole cut out at the bottom and a chamberpot underneath. Oh, snap! Clever crapper, right?! This British tour guide I know, Michael 1 (not to be confused with Michael 2, who was also a British tour guide, but so not the same) told me that Louis XIV had hemorrhoids-probably from spending so much time on the toilet, I’m thinking – and that his doctors developed these special needle-nosed poop-hole pincers to remove them. Because everyone at court was supposed to emulate Louis, it became fashionable to have the operation, regardless of whether or not you had the ‘rhoids. Gnarly!!!! (By the way, sometimes in this blog I just repeat what I’ve heard, without actually researching it. I just thought you should know.) Anyhow, neither of these guys was the king who hooked up with Marie Antoinette; that was the next Louis, the XVI. I don’t know anything about his bathroom habits or the state of his sphincter.
***Also in the song, Regina Spektor sings in Russian. I always thought she was just repeating a verse, but, according to the world wide web, she’s quoting a poem by Bruce Pasternak, author of Dr. Zhivago. Some people just make you feel damned uneducated, huh?
BONUS: No discussion of the Louis XIV, XV, or XVI, or of French History, or of monarchies, no matter how cursory, would be complete without the mention of Louis CK. Louis CK, I crown you a king of comedy. You are welcome. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u2ZsoYWwJA&feature=related

This image is from Joey Devilla, at joeydevilla.com, under the title, “From Sun Chips to Sun King.” I like this blog. The latest post has a teacher in Korea leading the class in American cursing. You should check it out.