29 April 2007

honour among thieves?

every few months, i subject myself to a partial episode of 60 minutes. last time i watched, i saw mike wallace getting his ass handed to him by mahmoud ahmadinejad.

tonight, i got to see george tenet fight to regain some of his dignity.

the funny thing is, i didn't believe a single thing he said, except for his description of how the rest of the bush administration suddenly developed a case of collective amnesia when it came time to appoint a recipient of blame for the invisible weapons of mass destruction.

tenet says that he hopes that history will judge him more kindly, but if i were a betting person, i'd say that his entire career is likely to be remembered for only two words. in fact, i'd say it's a slam dunk.

22 April 2007

reality never was my thing

You Are Surrealism


Dreamy and idealistic, you've created a world that is all your own.
It's very likely that you've either dabbled in drugs or are naturally trippy.
You are always trying to push beyond the boundaries of your culture and society.
You believe that art, love, and freedom can change the world.

one disorder to another


insomnia. it afflicts most people from time to time. although i haven't suffered from an intense bout for a while, i did once go for about three and a half months without getting a good night's sleep. i remember one person saying that they'd love to have that problem because they'd get so much done. i think i killed them for that. (i'm joking, as far as you know.)

insomnia is often misunderstood as simply not wanting to sleep, i.e., not getting tired. the fact is that insomniacs are frequently tired and with good reason- they aren't getting enough sleep. so rather than bouncing around at all hours, capable of anything, one becomes a bit lethargic, run-down and, what's worse, dull-witted from lack of sleep. your body ultimately doesn't care that your mind isn't getting tired and it's revenge is a sort of work-to-rule campaign.

it's also a common misconception that insomniacs don't sleep at all. the disorder is characterised by the inability to get the rest that your body actually needs. even during bad stretches, it's been infrequent that i've gone for days without any sleep at all. but the problem is, i'm only catching cat naps, which is not what i need. (what's worse is that the acute desire for such naps does not recognise when they may be inappropriate, such as in the office, at dinner with friends, or in the bath.)

a third thing that most people don't realise is that not being able to sleep can be really boring. sure, i'd love to be spending these hours writing, but see my description of the first misunderstanding above. my brain isn't up to any heavy lifting at the moment.

eventually, no matter where you are or how assiduously you cultivate acquaintances in every time zone, there will come a time when the people you know have gone to bed, have other plans, have gone to work, or simply found something more rewarding to do with their time than keep their sleepless friends entertained. so (un)rest assured, you will eventually find yourself alone and wide-eyed in the middle of the night, writing semi-coherently for your little internet nook, trying to think of anything that would get your mind and your body thinking along the same track.

19 April 2007

the eating disorder incubator

a friend of mine in the design field invited me to an event the other night, a benefit for the toronto fashion incubator. aside from the fact that these sorts of things appeal to that part of me which has managed to stuff two closets so full of clothing that there is imminent danger of an explosion, this particular event offered as many free samples of wine as you could stuff in your face. hmmm... clothing and free alcohol... i'm in.

now, i'm not normally intimate with "fashion" circles, although i'm aware of their existence, so this was pretty much the first time i got to observe the machinations of this world up close. and guess what? it's exactly what you'd expect. while not petite, i'm not what you'd call a heavyweight. in that room, i was something straight out of moby dick- the great white whale. everyone, men and women, looked remarkably like ambulatory clothes-hangers. most of them, including those well taller than me, were likely under a hundred pounds, their elbows and knees the widest parts of their arms and legs, respectively.

this is hardly shocking stuff, of course. it's already been months since spain decided to ban underweight models from its runways and it seems like the debate resurfaces on a regular basis. but it does seem all the more bizarre when you see these people en masse, walking with baleful eyes around a room filled with appetizers.

thing is, this grand idea of "beauty" that is passed down seems to have become utterly divorced from what is considered "attractive". it's not universal, but most people i know find at least a bit of flesh (without going to extremes...) desirable. in point of fact, the most attractive person i saw during the evening was a dita look-alike in an emerald green corset and hobble skirt, curvy lines everywhere. most of the people there seemed so exquisitely starved that, while perfectly groomed, you felt like to touch them would be to harm them somehow. i guess that that sort of remote poise might be beauty, but it isn't sexy. sexy, after all, is based entirely on the desire and the ability to touch. it couldn't be any other way.

so, i knocked back the wine samples (the viognier was the only really nice one), made a point of eating only when really hungry-looking people were about and called it an evening. some things you just aren't going to figure out, so you might as well enjoy yourself.

16 April 2007

a terrible beauty

as you might have discerned, i like writing. not merely the activity of writing, but the end product. and as someone who likes to write herself, i like to imagine that an can appreciate the good writings of others. reading faulkner or doestoevsky thrills me to my core. but i'm also a fan of the opposite end of the spectrum. truly horrific, tortured prose is as difficult to accomplish as greatness and, let's face it, we all need the occasional laugh.

i'm not generally a fan of fantasy writing, but i think even those who enjoy it would have to admit that it's plagued with more than it's fair share of the memorably awful. (i think that this is a general problem for defined genres, which have too many conditions that must be fulfilled.)

anyway, this is all a long preamble to a very quick point. here's what maybe the best, worst piece of writing in human history. if you can find worse (that's not intentionally worse), please forward it on...

(thanks to james for sending me this.)

15 April 2007

travelogia


ah, so i have just returned from one of those wild excursions called business trips. for me, these normally involve locations that i would normally find frightening and several days of seclusion in a second rate hotel room, eating food that somehow manages to be both fattening and unsatisfying. and part of this trip was spent in such a location. fortunately, it also involved two other stops that were considerably less suck.

first up was a stop in washington. now, i'll just say this straight up: i like washington. i like the sheer intimidation factor created by the national mall. (albert speer used its design concepts in his plans for berlin, which is completely obvious if once you know it. don't believe me? there are giant fasces flanking the lincoln memorial. go look.) in addition, i like a city where men wear suits like they mean it, where people will meet and hold even eye contact and respond with a confident nod and where it is considered perfectly normal to eat alone.

for me, that last one is an important one. there is little that irritates me more than a pity-laden "it's just you?" when i tell the host/ess that i'm eating alone. but in washington, so many people seem to go out for dinner on the way home from work that it seems to be expected. couples and small groups still coagulate at tables, but the diffidently single sit their solitary butts by the bar and enjoy the best of all worlds: speedy service (you're sitting right in front of them, so you're not likely to be forgotten) and a full menu. my eatery of choice (i remembered it from a previous trip), was an asian-influenced place called ten penh, shockingly located on the corner of tenth and pennsylvania. i ended up eating there both nights, a complete departure from my usual "try everything" procedure because i love creative asian food, i have a soft spot for a bar that can mix a good cocktail and especially because the staff are awesome. sure, i could ahve gone to another restaurant, but it isn't really as special as walking in to a place and having them call you by name on the basis of having met you the night before. for the business traveler, bounced from place to faceless place, forced to act in an unnaturally cheery way during the days, nothing, not even the allure of new and interesting food, is going to compete with the sensation that you can belong somewhere. (one note: for those of you who were put off by the fact that washington was not only the national capital, but the murder capital as well for many years, there have been remarkable improvements. the head bartender at ten penh, politically informed and city-proud as washingtonians tend to be, explained to me how things changed. i just know that i felt safe taking their astoundingly efficient metro system back to my shithole hotel (days inn, 4400 conneticut ave. nw) even late at night.)

following that, i was off to new york. now, saying you love new york is like saying that you love thoroughbred race horses. it would be harder to explain if you didn't. although one of my days there was a work day, new york's compact geography did allow me to squeeze in a tremendous amount of exploration in just a couple of days. there's no point to me making recommendations on what to do, because there are already enough new york travel guides. i'll limit myself to a few fleeting "only in new york" impressions: shimmying down the ladder-like stairs at the hospital productions record store in a fitted skirt that was really not designed for the task; scoring a window table for breakfast in soho at an all-organic eatery; record shopping in the hipster haven of williamsburg while an album of lounge versions of velvet underground covers done by the former lead singer of bettie serveert blared in the background; scarfing a black sesame/ honey lavender ice cream from the laboratorio de gelato in the lower east side just after finding a dress marked down to $62 from $495 in one of the myriad little shops there; the sobering view from my hotel window (see image).

two words

kryptogen rundfunk

07 April 2007

eostre


greetings of the season from the holiday's completely non-pagan emissary.

05 April 2007

what's that racket?

things i'm listening to with remarkable frequency in the last couple of weeks:

pimentola/ misantropolis/ cold meat industry :: to quote stephen colbert "i called it!!!" i said the new album sounded cool (see earlier post) and it is. a bit like a more eccentric, mid-eighties era laibach, but overall, a really difficult release to describe with any accuracy. check out the sound bites on their brilliant web site.

hentai/ toy factory/ vital :: yeah, ok, i know what hentai "really" is, haha. but the album is excellent, creepy... well, check out my full review of the album a couple of posts back.

ait!/ romanticismo oltranzista/ punch records :: i have no idea what's in the water in italy and spain, but i'd like to find out. all of a sudden, there seems to be a an entire extended family of bands whose music is either the soundtrack to a bizarre cabaret or the music you hear on the elevators in hell. central to the scene is the gentleman who records as ait! (who also runs punch records, the italian label behind the bulk of releases in the "scene"), who has his own new album out. and it embodies everything that i just love about the sound... more, more, more.

subliminal/ coping/ galakthorroe :: loving this kind of thing seems kind of liking watching the really violent scenes in a movie over and over and over again. even when you enjoy it, you can't help thinking that it's a sign that there's something seriously wrong with you. the overdriven, throat-slashing, skin-shredding harshness of galakthorroe at a high water mark.

so what are you listening to? inquiring minds want to know...

02 April 2007

the biggest loser

one of the reasons i love being in a larger city is because of the diversity of cultures around me. being the offspring of virtually every celtic tribe imaginable doesn't give me the widest variety in my own family. but there are times when i am decidedly so far across the cultural divide that i can't see the other side.

for instance, the united jewish appeal has recently launched a media campaign featuring images of dog tags belonging to three israeli soldiers who were kidnapped, one into gaza, two into lebanon, last year. the line they are using as a catch phrase for this campaign is "we don't leave our sons behind". yeah, we noticed that.

suddenly, toronto is polluted with images of dog tags, exhorting people to support the campaign to free the soldiers. this might have been a laudable goal in itself, if it had been voiced when the soldiers were first kidnapped. hell, it's a laudable goal now to remind people that those young men are still missing. but it completely ignores the intervening actions of the israeli government in the wake of those kidnappings- specifically their choice to level much of a country still emerging from the ravages of a lengthy civil war. in the "know the facts" sidebar to the uja site, they conveniently leave out the fact that israel did bomb lebanon, repeatedly. they also leave out the fact that, despite the damage inflicted by bombing on both sides, no progress was made in freeing the soldiers.

the problem is, it's very difficult to say those kinds of things without being called an anti-semite or being told that you support terrorists. everything that happens in political discourse on the middle east is predicated on the belief that one has chosen a side and that one's opinions are shaped by a need to adhere to that side. the fact is, i generally try to avoid picking sides, because i don't see a lot of good in the conflict. it's difficult to choose sides when every group involved seems more concerned about advancing their own political interests than in doing good for the people they purport to govern.

what is truly offensive about campaigns that pit the heroes of one side of the conflict against the monsters of the other is that they only serve to strengthen the polarities already in place. those who suffer are those who would seek to find a common ground. the biggest casualty is the hope for some kind of lasting detente.

the uja can wrap inflammatory rhetoric in seemingly noble causes all they want, but the fact is, they aren't helping anybody in the long run and they are contributing to a situation that will result in a lot of sons being left behind.
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