Wednesday, February 27, 2008

foodie me, foodie you

Nothing beats eating beautiful food. Except maybe traveling places and eating beautiful food. But we'll add that to the list--everyone needs goals.

In the meantime, it's all lux and sabor here at the Kennedy cabin. So take note: if you've wondered how to get on the lists of dreamy underground dinner parties, here they are for your enjoyment, among the best in the Bay Area.

Just read on, jot the names, and ask around! You'll find yourself being hand-fed homegrown microgreens by sprightly scenesters in no time.

all fun and games

I have been told throughout my life that I would make a great mom. Probably because I behave like a child. I may have children. I may not. I have no idea. But I do know that if my kids want to play with Barbies, fine. If my kids want a toy gun, fine. We will have enough talks around society and all its ills, me and the kids, to make me feel I've done my part to raise a fine couple of sprouts. I don't need to barricade them in the rumpus room with Lincoln Logs and Care Bears to feel I've ensured their safety.

That said, I sometimes wish they'd put Tom Hanks back in that position he played in Big—you know, when he was a kid in an adult's body and he played Chopsticks on that gigantic keyboard and had that superfun-looking date with that woman who just didn't get it? And he got to work as a Grand Toy Judge Poobah, testing toys for a living and intermittently ruling out a bunch of them because they were bad news?

Well this is one of those toys, not the charmingly lonesome misfit toys as in that Christmas movie with the big white Sasquatch. No, just something that never should have been made. Someone on the Playmobil staff was asleep at the wheel and barreling at high speed into "what were you thinking?" territory. No surprise the thing has been made unavailable; we can only hope it's been pulled, to be replaced with some actually interesting version of a Speak-n-Spell. Well if nothing else, go ahead and read the first two comments on the Amazon site re: this toy.

Peripheral afterthough: Playmobil, Playskool—why do kids' toys in particular have to include oh so much misspelling? No wonder we're all so unable to communicate.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

going on adrenaline, as usual

The marathon is in t-minus six days and aside from a random run here and there, I've been the definition of slack-a-lack since my eighteen-miler. I guess I should have been going to the gym these last few weeks. But I was much too busy eating doughnuts and pizza and finishing my article on pit bulls (it's so heartwarming, you'll want to go out and adopt one tomorrow—but you won't because you are responsible and thoughtful, of course, about such big life decisions).

Anyway, no problem! We will finish. It may take ten hysterical hours, but we'll finish. My comrades and I are planning a three-day stay in Napa, so I'm really hoping my imaginary admin Hillary will dispatch someone to please be there with a stretcher to scrape me up off the finish line. K, thanks!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

this guy is killing me

Please tell me no one will take Nader's bid for presidency seriously. Gore would have prevailed had Nader not entered the picture last time around. I could not finish my lunch when I read this. Uck. Cmon guy, haven't you done enough damage splitting voter allegiances?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

dear stealth diary .... i am so crushed out on ...

Yeah, like I said in the last post, I'm writing my article. I swear. But in order to finish a certain paragraph, I had to send an email query just to clarify something. And on my way, I saw this gem on the Yahoo! home page. I couldn't leave well enough alone. Here's the headline:

What caused stealth crash?
Investigators try to understand the failure of the secretive and futuristic craft.

So not only do our futuristic American airplanes go super fast and high, they also keep really good secrets. Dibs on the new pretty and aerodynamic diary!

there's too much that hasn't been done

Procrastination renders delights. Have a listen.

Love the Dan Band:

And love Liam Lynch:

Oh one more thing. Two brief Oscar comments: am I the only person who thought the movie Juno tried way too hard and failed abominably? In two years when no one even remembers half the jargon flung around in that film, it will just be a wicked tool for nuns looking to push their anti-choice agenda in sex-ed class. I wanted to box all the cleverness right out of my ears.

On the other hand, I believe we need to create more awards just so they all go to Daniel Day-Lewis for his performance in There Will Be Blood. He blew me away. I think I forgot to breathe for the entire two hours and thirty-whatever minutes because he had me so nerve-wracked and fascinated. He's extraordinary in everything he does on screen.

K, back to my feature article that teeters at the brink of Mt. Overdue. Hoot toot and coffee shakes, w'ere acomin' round the mountain!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

stairway under the banner of heaven

If only I knew about this before I started giving all my books away! (Then again, neither my current place nor my new place has stairs. But I could make stairs. To nowhere. Right in the middle of the room. And in this hypothetical, if the stairs went nowhere, no harm in stacking the extra books on the stairs while we're at it.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

pretty digs

I am going to move into the Abbey Library in St. Gallen, Switzerland, and only allow people dressed in blue to visit.

(Also, do you remember the Sesame Street game "Which One of These Is Not Like the Other"? Well, wedged within all these pix of beautiful, prohibitively grand libraries is a medieval little shot of book spines and what appear to be rusted necklaces like you'd find selling for $80 a pop at Anthropologie or Buffalo Exchange. Do a find for: Hereford Cathedral Chained Library.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

bacon: a news flash

You don't understand. I have been given bacon lithographs. Bacon cards. Bacon band-aids. Plastic Montessori bacon. Real bacon in all its glorious smoked, aged, free-love, free-range, and generally absurd food-fuss variations (see an excerpt from David Rakoff's brilliant mockery of chic eaters here). Point is: I like bacon and am gifted accordingly, something like your friend who has the thing for ladybugs and now has ladybug slippers, shower curtain, toaster cozy, and so on. But get out the bugles and sound off because I have just been given the gift to end all gifts, a gift that could, in fact, change the course of human history. I see peace on the horizon and bliss in the tea leaves. Imagine this: small flecks—nay, crystals!—of applewood-smoked bacon and alderwood-smoked salt enrobed (as they say) in 41-percent-cacao chocolate.

I want nothing more from life. I have had it all. When I die, I will look back and say, "At least I ate that Vosges." People, get one. Get ten. Actually, don't get any because then there's more for me. This is better than Wonka. This is better than Sahagun, than Richard Donnelly, than John & Kira's. This is even better than that peanut butter bacon pizza they used to have over on Lakeshore. It's that good.

Monday, February 18, 2008

breaking through language barriers

I am, as is evident from my intermittent accent (you try saying Darryl without one!), from New Jersey. And I am, as is evident from my local tax rants, living in California. Here in Oakland, we revere the hip hop titans. We love us some R&B. It's no town without motown. And so on. So as a member of the white minority, I struggle like the rest to "do the uh oh" and other assorted gymnastic dance maneuvers.

Still, now and again, we find ourselves involved in the unforeseen no-harm-done cultural train wrecks of our otherness. Last night, I took a four-hour drive. The formula could cure anything: an engine with racing development widgets, an empty and open road (12am to 4am), and a fine soundtrack. It all made the passage of time celestial. Fog in the skies, doug firs and blue spruce blurring by me, I ricocheted around Sugarloaf Road and Idylwild, alongside the ice grass at Ocean Beach, and over the great Golden Gate. The world opened up, every sorrow fell to the wayside, and I decided, among other things, that human nature is inherently, by virtue of a biological need to survive, good.

But that's a post for the philosophy boards. Here, I want to talk Beyonce. Among the soundtrack items was a song meant to be sexy, redemptive, inspirational. It is written for many different circumstances, a simple solution for women in long-term relationships that have since gone cold, for wronged women on the prowl, or for women who are alone and just want to feel sexy (yes!). Now I really want to be Oaklandish. I really want to feel this song. But when Beyonce says, "put your freakin' dress on," I, being from Jersey, receive it less as instruction to put on a dress that will facilitate my success on the dance floor than an exasperated imperative. Read: put your damn dress on already. Put the stupid dress on already. Do you see what is happening here?

In Jersey, freakin', alas, is not about hip gyrations. It is about someone who has had enough of your shenanigans and just wants you to get the flipping dress on already. So, despite an ipod chock full of liberation playlists, I could not help but replay that one song like a toddler watching Telletubbies. Again, again, again, Beyonce made me laugh with unwitting Jersey impertinence. It is this goofiness that makes life good, that allows me to drive outside my life.

"Put your freekum dress on," she says.

Okay, fine! It's on. Now what's next?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

regarding tomorrow

[An update to this post is in order. I heard this at a concert last night and it made me laugh: Valentine's Day, otherwise known as Singles Awareness Day (SAD).]

I don't tend to reduce things to dualisms. But when it comes to love, whatever kind of love it is, we can live one way. Or we can live another. Observe:

1. Option One: Me dedo, I surrender

2. Option Two: Carpe noctem, Seize the night

The Irishman said it, not I: "You have a choice. You make it now." It is in any event a matter of living without regrets.

the inevitable breakup: goodbye, shakespeare

I have books in my bedroom. Books on my bookshelves. Books in the built-ins. The bathroom, the kitchen, the hallway, the closets, the stairwell. I've got poems in my fridge, poems under my pillow, in the cabinets, under the cushions. I fearnay, I knowI've become one of those living, breathing fire hazards whose stacks teeter high enough to imperil guests at all those cocktail parties that I'm not having because, well, it was the guests or the books.

But friends, it is cocktail hour. Things are about to change. I have steeled myself, done the bloodless deed, and pulled what appear to be somewhere around 150 titles from the shelves. It's only the first sweep. I know I can do better. I really don't need that old Plato book. Underworld demands too much space on the shelves. And all the old Poe volumes are just a sentimental attachment. So I'll go through again.

In the meantime (and this is earnest), I've pulled some good books and am happy to give it all away if you'll read them. Hell, even if you won't. You want em, they're yours. It's mostly fiction, a strange mix of contemporary and the intermittent Chaucer, Milton, Mallory. A good bit of poetry from all ages: Petrarch, Rilke, Snyder, Olds, on and on and on. Big stuff like Bahktin and Foucault, if you are a masochist. And then the light stuff too: Fitch, Lahiri, Hosseini, Gold, Rowling, you name it.

Lots of random books I've never read that were sent to me either when I was teaching (lit surveys, books on writing, critical thinking, philosophy, psychology) or reviewing (chess, feminism, other social sciences, travel, and then the weird and uneven efforts that I torched in reviews).

I've got issues of Agni, at least one Paris Review, Crazyhorse, Post Road, N+1, Believer, an Iowa Review, Columbia, Prairie Schooner, and plenty of the classic fiction you'd know by name (Orwell, James, Wilde, etc.). A fair share of WWII books, some one-act plays and stuff on stagecraft, plenty of anthologies, a dictionary and thesaurus set, Japanese language books, Italian language books, and then all the little oneswhat I consider take-on-an-airplane books: Vonnegut, Percy, Swofford, Eggers, my god.

I can't list it all. Please feel free to take this stuff. Read it and love it. I really just think the books and I, we need some time apart. Like forever.

Monday, February 11, 2008

you have 3,405,693,284,531 unread messages

Dear friends,

I can no longer keep up with email. I'm deleting them all. Let's start over.


did you know?

Abandoned blogs are called ishikoro (pebbles). Soo desu ka!

Friday, February 08, 2008

sounds nice.

"Hours Hours"

Mornings we wrote, in separate domains.
Midday we napped and loved, and rose from bed
Back to the desk or garden. Then we read
Aloud from James or Keats, my turn or Jane's.

Some days were rankled by the unforeseen.
I quarreled with a friend. Another died.
When things went wrong, I sighed, I paced and sighed,
Until we found our way back to routine.

In June the black flies stung as Eagle Pond did
When the sharp smarting light assailed our eyes
On afternoons of our old enterprise
When the twin solitudes still corresponded.

Don Hall

Thursday, February 07, 2008

shower curtain diaries

By the way, what do you do with your I Voted stickers? Every voting extravaganza since I can remember, I put the sticker on my dog's collar. But I've been dogless for many months. So I just gave mine to Che. Che fills one of the slots in my shower curtain. He looks mad, no? Lighten up, bro. Rock the Vote and all!

If you like that HGTV-type craftiness, just wait till you see the wicked collaging I do with my grocery receipts. Oh and when I get my glue gun, heavens, watch for towel elephants. It is nonstop rad behavior here at the too-much-free-time depot. You think I'm kidding. I'm not. ("What a cute decoration for your bathroom!!" Yes. And even better, a nice friend to cheer up Che.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

local politics, correct spelling of pomegranate, and what witches know

I want kids to have safe places for getting healthy as much as you do. Really. And the idea of seismically retrofitting a hospital, well, it's tough to argue that's a bad idea. Especially when it's a hospital for little ones, for God's sake. Still, when (privately held) Children's Hospital Oakland does an end run around county supervisors, their capital-crusaders gathering signatures like money-hungry worker ants, what that means is the hospital administration is trying to shift an estimated $300 million+ in renovation costs from their spreadsheets and foist it instead onto the public citizenry of Alameda County.

That it's even come this far is strange. It's a story of massive institutions taking the counsel of big-time, slimy consultants. As is to be expected with such a coupling, by the time government officials got wind of the scenario, the hospital had already been out there circulating petitions for eons. Their agenda item was assured to makes its way onto the ballot from the get-go. Amazing what Safeway shoppers will sign just to get inside, get their Totino's, and get out.

I'm just saying. I pay an effity eff lot of money for my health care even with decent health insurance. So I'd like a little quid pro quo. That health services are even an enterprise is ethically uncomfortable (at what price wellness?), so the least a profitable institution can do is pony up to keep the doorway up around my head while I'm stuck wearing a backless paper smock.

Or so I reason as I vote an emphatic "no" on the measure. Good call, Kennedy. Make them accountable, says I. And I fall asleep pleased as punch that I've protected the old pocketbook there. Then comes morning. I'm anxious. Why? Because I've doomed little hypothetical Bobby to wander down unsafe, quaking corridors en route to his already daunting vaccinations. I get to work. I sit at my desk. I try to edit. Somehow, the live-food cookbook does not keep my attention.

I read: Tropical Trade Wind Smoothie
Think: My god, what if the roof caves in?
Read: Romaine Pomegranate Salad
Think: Oh, I am for sure going to hell if anything happens to cute, hypothetical Bobby and his friends Jessica and Edgar.
Read: Un-Chicken Noodle Soup
Think: Is the building really that run down?

I grab the keys and bail on the cookbook. I know my authors would approve. Fresh can wait. Think of the children! Yes, that's what I'm doing. Looking out for the children!

As I make my way there, I come to appreciate the stupidity of going on a drive-by to estimate the risk to Bobby and Suzy and little Leticia in the event of this hypothetical earthquake. I am not sure if I was expecting massive cracks or leaning storeys or what. Well at the least, I resign myself, it would be a memory lane expedition. Because I know this hood. I once lived about five houses from this building.

I pass my old homestead. Looks exactly the same, only the crazy cactus out front is even bigger and pricklier. But turn the corner, and I find dazzling change. A mural has sprung up. It's on the block that would have been razed if the measure went through. Wouldja look at that! Witches, giant dogs, and tiny houses—they're all against hospital sprawl. No surprise. Witches have strong ethics. Bobby can ask his doctor daddy to throw down some cash, suggest the witches on their brooms.

p.s. I did attend to the cookbook enough to know that pomegranates apparently increase red blood cell count. Who knew? Probably the doctors in the perfectly sufficient Children's Hospital. Maybe I'll give them a gratis copy of Fresh. But that would mean going into that building. And no one but the witches knows when the big one's coming. I head back to the office and just plan to mail it from there.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

admit it

This is why you voted for Obama.

obaton '08?

I was until yesterday settled on my candidate. But in the event I've not made it clear, I'm a noncommittal kind of gal these days. And I have been seized by a late frost in the air—I have cold feet. Clinton? Obama? My god, I don't know. This is a peculiar position for me, as I've always had a relatively easy time deciding on my candidate in the past. Ultimately this time around, my priority is in voting for whoever can assure me that neither McCain nor (OMG) Romney makes it into office.

Truth is, though their histories each have their own disconcerting inconsistencies, C & O stand quite close to the same line on a number of issues that matter to me: withdrawal from Iraq, tax reform, gay marriage, education. Though I'm as enthusiastic as the next joe about a candidate who can spell AND speak sensibly, and I'm momentarily charmed by all the young bucks standing on all our overpasses and waving "Babes for Obama" signs, I am not necessarily going to vote for someone because he's been positioned as the next charismatic Kennedy. I simply want to vote for the Democrat who will win. Maybe that's crass, but Bush has been a cheese grater against my soul.


One Berkeley comrade says this of Clinton: I've been watching Fox news a bit to see what those pundits are saying. They can't wait to skewer Hillary in the actual race. They are so keyed up to destroy her with past dirt, it is terrifying. We're talking absolute hatred that reminds me of anti-semitic language and rationale. She seems to have become a symbol for them of everything they cannot stand.

A dear and wise Jersey thinker offers me this disturbing reminder of the red-state take on Obama: I just think that by the time they got done with Barack, he'd not only be a Muslim who won't salute the flag, but a devil worshipper and a cannibal.

Oy! I gotsta remember the rest of the country doesn't exactly vote Berzerkeley-style. That said, I know all too well the risks involved in internalizing and working around the anticipated bigotry of the opposition. Am I giving too much credit to the GOP smear-machine by worrying over these defamations? A novel concept: maybe I should truly just vote for whoever I believe will be the best leader. How lovely would it be if we got both! Maybe the stars will align that way. Indeed. So who would take the other on as VP? Hmm. Perhaps I should just use the force to decide. (Click it! You'll be so glad you did.)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

a super bowl of eli and tom

To quote my mother, who called nanoseconds after the game ended, "New York rules!"

vélo liberté!

I so look forward to the day when we catch up with Paris, New York, Chicago, Barcelona, and the rest of the cities whose administration have already implemented GPS-chipped bike-share.

Friday, February 01, 2008

lost in good old days

I wish I loved LOST's fourth season premiere more than I did. What about you, island enthusiasts? What did you think? Did you love the show as much as our friends at The Chronicle? Would you be mad if I said I found it to be a snore? Don't get me wrong. Liked—no, loved—the clever bit with the Mustang and papayas at the start. Very Dukes of Hazzard. (If that doesn't make you curious, I just don't know what to make of you.) But ultimately, I have so little to say about the premiere because so little actually happened in said premiere: some Hurley backstory, some Hurley flash forward (not quite as far forward as Jack's flashes), a quick division of ranks between Captain Jack and Mister Locke, and more flickers of concern lighting up Ben's otherwise catatonic eyes.

Okay. One imagines premieres have considerable cubic pressure on them; they are, after all, the mechanism to set the whole damn contraption moving again. No problem, it was a grand set-up for the next one. Got it. We'll just look forward to the next episode, what we'll call the Premiere Revista. And about this one, the Premiere Prima (you'd think that was redundant, but you'd be wrong), we can really offer only two items of interest, a comment and a question:

1. We at Casa dell'Otto always knew Hurley was the real hero. So in that spirit, let's celebrate the cannonball scene for taking schmaltz to an operatic pitch. Oh the aquatic humanity of it all! Furry Hurley, bubbling away underwater with his dolphin-like grin, unwittingly christens himself—one dip being all he needs to resurface in a rite of passage into Hugo "the Tiger" Reyes. Roar, Hurley, Roar! Charge 'em, big man!

2. Did anyone else observe two strange moments of unmistakable accent intrusion? First time it happens is when everyone's choosing sides and Sawyer decides on Team Locke.

Kate (pretty as always in a shiny jungle sheen kind of way): What are you doing?
Sawyer: Same thing I've always done, Kate. Surviving.

Why did Sawyer suddenly become Scottish when he said that last word? You can't miss it. Have a listen. Then yet again just a minute or two later, we are treated to another continental dislocation. Moody Jack is moping around some fuselage when Kate, still delightfully shiny, approaches:

Kate: Are you thinkin' of Charlie?
Jack: It feels like a hundred years ago that we came out here together.

"OMG," I think to myself. "Kate is one of my people!" Inexplicably Irish. Now I have heard of globe-trotting performers (Britney, Madonna) slipping into foreign accents, but not usually in the midst of playing a character. Wouldn't it be fun to think it was a clue. This show seems to have fans obsessing like I've never seen about piecing together the program's past, present, and future. Reminds me of when I used to play Clue by flashlight as a kid. Kate in London with the gigantic satellite phone! No, no, wait! Sawyer in Glasgow with a fire torch (you know, the torches that never seem to catch the leaves on fire, even when Hurley drops them in dry brush—did you catch that?).

Ah sure, well we're awfully fond of the old LOST, lads. It reminds us of the days gone by. We'll watch it on our telly till the end, we will. Slante and may God bless ya with a pretty jungle sheen all yer own.