Tuesday, December 29, 2009

how I long for the olden days

"In a 2009 paper in the American Journal of Psychology, Revonsuo and a co-writer, Katja Valli, theorized that 'modern humans still posses this ancient defense mechanism [dreaming as a kind of threat simulation],' though it probably no longer fulfills its original biological function, since the modern environment is so different from the one in which the system evolved. (Fewer mastodons, more traffic.)"
             – Margaret Talbot, "Nightmare Scenario," The New Yorker, Nov. 16, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

spoiled for choice

I finally got my hands on a copy of the San Francisco Panorama but I'm not reading it.
I finally got Splendor in the Grass from my Netflix but I'm not watching it.
I finally got the last two Doris Lessing books in the Children of Violence quintet and I'm making a wild mushroom risotto.  And drinking white wine.  And practically purring with contentment.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saint Euell of Wild Foods

Of the Gifts of Saint Euell
Spoken by Adam One

...Today we meditate upon Saint Euell Gibbons, who flourished upon this Earth from 1911 to 1975, so long ago but so close to us in our hearts...He taught us the use of Your many Puffballs, and the other wholesome Fungi; he taught the dangers of the poisonous species, which however can also be of Spiritual value, if taken in judicious quantities.
He sang the virtues of the wild Onion, of the wild Asparagus, of the wild Garlic, that toil not, neither do they spin, nor do they have pesticides sprayed upon them, if they happily grow far enough away from agribusiness crops...He taught us to improvise; for if there is no Sorrel, there may be Cattails; and if there are no Blueberries, the wild Cranberry may perhaps abound.
Saint Euell, may we sit with you in Spirit at your table, that lowly tarpaulin spread upon the ground; and dine with you upon wild Strawberries, and upon spring Fiddleheads, and upon young Milkweed pods, lightly simmered, with a little butter substitute if it can be obtained...

– Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood

oh disney

Sure, it was the thirties.  On the other hand, that is a black doll yelling "Mammy!" and mooning the camera in Santa's workshop.   Yeesh. (start at 3:40)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

the Georgian invasion

My extremely awesome 19-year-old cousin is visiting from Atlanta, and we went to Cha-Ya last night.  He so thoroughly charmed our server with his sincere appreciation of the meal that we got free dessert: soy ice cream with a red bean paste and (I think) a seaweed sauce, topped with toasted rice.  Apparently I have not cornered the market on charm, which is probably all for the greater good.  He can come visit me anytime.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

save the doggie

These were parked across the street from my house today and the day before.  I don't know why.  I don't mind, of course; I am perfectly willing to admit having shared in the bizarre, fierce affection for the doggie ever since moving to the city in 2002.  I used to walk from campus to the ocean, and I would pass it in mystified amusement.   

why can't every day be like

Friday morning my boss took us all ice skating at Union Square.  I like this rather too immensely. 

Friday, December 18, 2009


the dream of my life is that someday someone or someones will throw me a party.  It will be a surprise.  It will be nice and fun and well organized.  There won't be anything for me to do, because it will all have been taken care of.  I can just enjoy myself.  Someone else will clean up, and then it will be over.

Needless to say.  This has never happened, and I am not holding my breath.

Monday, December 14, 2009


I am so shocked!  "It was for moments like this, I told myself, that tourism to British is alive and well." I've already written them.  I sincerely hope that by the time you attempt to read this article they will have already corrected the error.  Poor copyediting is such a buzzkill.

update, 7:55am, next day: fixed.  They wrote me a nice email, too.


what is so frustrating about winter is that despite the fact that the butter has been placed, appropriately, in a dish, so that it may achieve room temperature, it nonetheless refuses to spread elegantly on one's toast as desired.  The room temperature is too cold.  This is rank insubordination.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


At the recent Believer release party, Eames Demetrios gave a power point presentation and lecture on (the? I don't know if it takes the definite article) Kcymaerxthere, an "alternative universe largely consistent with our linear world but with different points of contact: different stories, peoples, creatures, laws of physics—just for starters."  In addition to his day job/s, he travels around the world installing plaques and making markers about various events from this other and somehow overlapping world.   I was enjoying myself too much to take proper notes (who else takes notes at art gallery openings and magazine release parties?  Send yourself my way), but I did manage to jot down an aside about "the god of directionality – some people say he's behind wikipedia, the euro, and Starbucks."  I especially love the sites he's commemorated in Germany and Poland.  At the end of his presentation, we all sang a song together.  He liked my singing and I told him to keep me in mind if he ever started a choir.  Then I bought a travel guide.

This is the kind of nonsense – delivered in utmost earnestness and beautiful seriousness – that I could really get behind.


in San Francisco is a strange make-believe season.  Still, in the rain and the cold I find myself longing for some wino grzane.  Sure, I can make it myself and I have, but it's just not the same as being able to stop into any bar and warm your freezing hands with a glass of hot mulled wine.  There's something missing in my recipe, and I fear it may be Poland; snow, isolation, ambiguity, unsettlement, yearning, wonder.  Medicine isn't the same when there's nothing for it to cure.

 (photo courtesy of the internet.  yay.)

Tata Jesus is bängala!

I liked the Poisonwood Bible in large part because it is so openly and thoroughly critical of USAmerica in a way that so few other American authors dare to be.  It's kind of an exposé in fictional form.  Also, this:
"All human odes are essentially one.  'My life: what I stole from history, and how I live with it.' "

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

recent acquisition

I bought it used for $25!

I think the game just changed.

so refined

incredibly buttery cookies.  I barely helped – all credit goes to Kristin and Natanya, the true bakers.  These cookies were fabulous; I continue to find their shape utterly nonsensical.

strawberry and olallieberry jam, raspberry jam, and marmelade

Why the long spoon?  Well may you ask.  It seems to have become our go-to piece of whimsy. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

let the seasons begin

the leaves have finally decided to change color.  Almost overnight, San Francisco has decided it's fall.  Never mind that it's December; the calendar's just a construct and it's not much use in this town, anyway.  I get ready for my first snowless winter in a few years.  I still have all the accessories, but really these hats, scarves, and mittens, they're decorative in this town.  A comforting reminder of how cold it isn't.  But to see my breath.  To blow air on my dry and reddened fingers, waiting for the light to change.  My cold ears unprotected by my bike helmet.  Singing down the street, dark and echoing.  It's it's own kind of winter.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

my goodness

Mister Foe is arguably the worst and creepiest bildungsroman film I've ever seen.  An extra sincere hats-off to Jamie Bell (once Billy Elliot), then, for extraordinary charisma.  I wouldn't have finished watching it, otherwise, as it was kind of unapologetically hideous.  Hope his projects get better.

Friday, December 4, 2009

things about which Zoë Heller and I disagree

At City Arts and Lectures Wednesday evening, Zoë Heller said she wasn't bothered by film adaptations of books which were quite different from the text upon which they were ostensibly based because the film was "a related but separate artifact and that's fine."  Well and good I suppose but I could never imagine having such an attitude towards my own work.  She later remarked that "It has never occurred to me to read books in search of potential pals."
She was funny and interesting.  Still.  Perhaps she has an easier time with people than I do.  Some of my best friends are books. 
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