Saturday, November 27, 2010

How I Got This Way - pt. 2

When I was quite young, they showed silent cartoons early in the morning.  That was maybe a 6 AM cartoon.  I remembered them all these years, cartoons with music but no speaking, but never really knew what they were.  I'd read something about the silent Farmer Al Falfa/Farmer Grey cartoons, so I checked one out on YouTube, and -- bingo!  This one has whiplash-inducing changes of plot, from the cat employing an unusual mode of fishing with his mouse pal, to playing golf with mouse acting as both caddie and tee...and then the mouse disappears, the cat grabs something that looks a little like a lute or mandolin, and starts playing.  Cupid shows up and shoots him in the ass, and the cat starts serenading a cute girl cat.  I'm still trying to figure out why that ended badly.  The cat suddenly sees a group of mice in aerobics class, and all of a sudden he's a mouse-chasing cat, not a cat with a mouse pal.  Then there is a fairly typical cat-and-mouse chase (although it gives one pause that this 1920s specimen was probably an extremely early cat-and-mouse cartoon, and that the genre is still going strong 90 years later).  At the end, there's an I-thought-Warner-Brothers-invented-that busted cliff-edge bit.  The only thing that sucks is that when the cat sails down on the broken piece of cliff, he and the cliff naturally drill through the earth and end up in China -- and are greeted by a Chinese band, racist depiction.  This sort of thing has markedly improved over the past 90 years.

Paul Terry and Terrytoons are just not a such a big name in cartoon history, not Warner Brothers or Disney or MGM or Max Fleischer, but they did some interesting stuff from time to time.  I guess they didn't quite have the consistent look of some of the other studios.

Speaking of Max Fleischer (and really, who can get enough silent black-and-silent cartoons), we come to Koko the Clown.  Many silent cartoons are a little slow-paced -- like early silent films, they're not sure how quickly the audience will catch on, so they will repeat an idea or move through it very slowly.  But Koko goes pretty fast -- no filler.  The interaction between animation and live-action is stunning -- not to mention the whole idea of the cartoon character knowing that he was drawn and interacting with the guy who drew him (who of course is played by the guy who drew him).  Plus there are just a lot of funny gags.  Much like the cat in the first cartoon, Koko looks better at a distance.  The close-ups of both are kind of ugly.  I just rewatched this and did not catch any racist content.

That one was from 1924.

Now, if you thought the "laughing gas" portions of the last cartoon were trippy, you gotta watch this next one from 1927.  I think this may be the best known of the Koko the Clown cartoons:  a tiny clown and a spiteful puppy cause the apocalypse.  Oopsie.  (I believe this was the puppy who went on to have his own Fleischer cartoon, under the name Bimbo.  Bimbo had a little puppy girlfriend who kind of morphed into a human and became Betty Boop.  You go, Max Fleischer!)

I promise to try to dig up one of the old Max Fleischer Popeyes. 

How I Got This Way - pt. 1

Welcome to the first installment of How I Got This Way, a selection of cartoons I used to watch as a small child.  Geez, I watched a lot of cartoons!  But I watched a lot of TV, period.  Looking around YouTube tonight, I saw things I'd forgotten about, and things I hadn't seen since I was 7. So I'll let you in on some of my formative influences.  Note:  I still love cartoons, I know a little something about them, and I have very particular tastes and standards in animation (as in boo, Hanna-Barbara).  The cartoons I will be posting are not all "good" cartoons, but they're the ones I watched when I was little and not so discriminating.

I wasn't watching more than one of a particular cartoon series at YouTube, so I could cover more ground, but when I randomly selected this Little Lulu to watch, I hit the jackpot.  Because this was *the* Little Lulu episode.  This was a cartoon that was made to be shown in the theater.

Attention all you younger-uns:  back in the day, though really in my parents' time, going to the movies would be a long-term commitment.  There would be the main ("A") picture and the cheapie B-movie and a newsreel and a serial and a short and a cartoon.  Things like the newsreel and the serial were really biggest pre-TV.  The old Three Stooges episodes you see on TV were originally shorts made to show in the theater.  And the cartoons were generally pretty good, and were later recycled for kids' TV.

OK, this Little Lulu cartoon was most definitely the first time I ever heard the song "Swing on a Star."  It is the most magnificent of songs.  This is a pretty excellent cartoon all-round.

However, as a young kid (maybe as young as 6), I misunderstood part of the lyrics.  "Carry moonbeams home in a jar" never quite registered.  I somehow knew the name "Cary Grant," and I thought that Cary Moonbeam was a person, and he was home in a jar -- which I suppose meant that it was OK to swing on a star. I still loved the song, and still do.  Dave van Ronk recorded it, and on the album notes, he wrote a little note about each song.  His note on this one was something along the lines of "I have nothing to say about this song.  This song is perfect."

Remind me to tell you my Dave van Ronk story sometime.

Since I plan to post more cartoons here over time, I should mention that some of the ones I watched tonight did have minor racist content.  I'm not sure I can remember what was where, but I'll try to re-view before I post, so I can warn about that.  Unfortunately, there are some really great cartoons that reflected their time and were racist, a lot or a little (though it's stupid to make that distinction -- racist is racist).  My feeling is that they belong to their time, as I said, and I don't have a problem watching and enjoying them in the context of period pieces.  I don't really believe in any kind of censorship anyway, and don't believe in pretending certain things didn't happen.  If this stupid Amazon app was working, I'd recommend Black Like You by John Strausbaugh.

Anyway, I hope you liked Little Lulu.  And perhaps what I watched 45+ years ago will tell you (or me) something about how I got this way,

I don't mean to dis Amazon, even though the Amazon Associates thingie here hasn't worked in a month.  I am insanely in love with my Kindle.

Friday, November 26, 2010


I subscribe to a music blog (actually, quite a few).  One of them describes the genre of each new release, and here's one I haven't heard before:  "shoegaze."  This makes me feel quite the old fart.  I do a reasonably good job of skimming current music and even finding some artists I like a lot.  I pretty much don't do dance, house, trance or any sort of metal, and light on the hip-hop.  But I do know what those types of music are.  "Shoegaze" is not familiar to me, and I am tempted to say something very old-fart like "lotsa that music makes me gaze at my shoes!"  Like, "I guess they call it Trance because it puts ya in one!"  (I picture myself as something like an old crusty farmer when say shit like that.)

Of course, I'll Google it and read about it on Wikipedia or whatever.  But it's somehow disturbing to hear a music term that rings nary a bell.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

my Chicago friend Matt (aka Vernon)

So after I found out that my Chicago friend Vern had split up with his wife, I wrote him a long letter, which was returned today.I knew he had lived there for a very long time, so I called out the troops: messaged a mutual friend on Facebook, then just posted on Facebook, then did a web search.  Landed on a little documentary about Vern moving out of the apartment he'd had for, now I don't remember, 25 or 28 years.  I still want his address -- looks like he's still in Chicago.  But I'll share the video.  I can't say it's a thorough look at him, although one of the things that's most breathtaking is the way he writes, which has absolutely nothing to do with the way he speaks.  I put my couple of boxes of letters into storage, where they were lost, but kept Vern's letters here, in a big boot box.  He's maybe a hundred times more brilliant than he comes across.  But perhaps this is a nice introduction to someone who is both odd and wonderful:

Watch Vern Moves in Music  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Thursday, November 18, 2010

i haz a Kindle/more beads

Too bad my Amazon Associates app has crapped out just when I'm singing the praises not only of a book or album they sell, but of a product you can only get from them.  The Kindle might be my favorite high-tech gizmo ever.  Honestly, it was easier to start using it than it was with my mp3 player.  And it's insanely cute.  Beats out my beloved mp3 player as far as what it does compared to its size.  Best.  Present.  Ever.  Best. Husband. Ever.

So I have a really interesting task for Monday.  There is a sample necklace with ten different beads, and they need to be sourced locally, to facilitate quick reordering.  The thing is, they're pretty unusual beads, ten different ones, and I only know what three of them are.  I think most of them are weird jaspers and agates.  It seems like the sellers of beads and stones are always finding some variant of jasper and making up a name for it.  When I started beading, there weren't quite so many jaspers running around.  There was picture/landscape jasper (tan with dark brown stripes), poppy jasper (brown with some reddish and whitish markings), red jasper, dalmatian jasper (white with black spots, natch), ocean jasper (mostly green with distinctive markings), fancy jasper (I now see this labeled "Indian agate"), and not too many more I can think of.  Leopardskin jasper.  But now there are more and more; I see some of them at work.  And I'll be seeing a lot more on Monday, when I have to go to vendors in the city and see if they can match my samples.  Kind of a bead treasure hunt.  I get to bead-hunt a lot, with our vendors and sometimes online, and it would be a little more fun if I didn't dread not being able to find a particular bead.  But it's sorta fun anyway.

So it's my birthday, and there was a cake at work, and a Kindle and some very fine cheesecake at home.  Lots of nice wishes on Face-itty Book-itty.  Not a bad day at all.

rocks and cell phones

I was given some, well, clerical work yesterday afternoon that also consumed a lot of today and will probably take a chunk of tomorrow.  (I don't in any way resent it -- most of us have to do some form of paperwork and/or record-keeping.  This job involved a huge stack of papers concerning OAKs (one of a kind pieces), and the job was basically to unstaple it, write the OAK number from the work order on the photo, and restaple it with the photo on top.  (Then I get to put them in numerical order, punch them and file them in looseleafs.)

Of course, the OAKs are made with unbelievably beautiful stones, and looking at them all day was mesmerizing.  More stones than beads, but I love stones, even if I don't use them.  I don't think I mentioned that I stopped into Bergdorf Goodman on Saturday (I had been in Manhattan to see Herb), to see Stephen's jewelry there.  It's actually the first place I ever saw his work.  His space has moved since I was last there, maybe 1996 or 97.  But his new space is beautiful, the OAKs were jaw-dropping, and everything was well-lit and beautifully displayed.

Barry and I are real knuckleheads when it comes to cell phones.  We've always kind of dragged our feet on them.  We've had them a few times, for very short times, but truthfully, neither of us found the need to use them very much.  I can be in a store and call Barry to see if he needs anything.  I can call him from the city -- or vice-versa -- to tell him when I expect to be home.  He can call a car service and go downstairs, and call if the car is late.  But that's about it.  We recently got a pay-as-you-go phone which we share.  It can do all kinds of fancy shit, but I haven't taken the time to read the teeny little booklet, and can't even program in phone numbers.

So Barry e-mailed me at work today, and that said I'd gotten two texts, one that said "Hi" and one that said "Hi Jennifer."  They were not signed.  Not many people have our cell number.  So I took a look at the originating phone number, and sure enough, it was Herb.  So I kinda figured out how to reply, and texted "Hi harold, i'm not very good at texting but it was nice to hear from you jen."  People, this is the very first text message I ever sent in my life.  That phone is a little more intuitive than I'd realized, and I'm fairly good with computers...but that thing is so tiny.  And the instructions are tiny.  It's not that I can't read the small instructions and keypad, it's just that I'm somewhat intimidated or put off.  I'm not yet ready for this:

It took me a couple of viewings to realized that this isn't really a phone for cell phone dummies -- it's a phone for older folk.  Maybe older and cellphone dummies.  But hey, young folk are not going to get excited about the "jitterbug" music, even though jitterbugging was hip for about twenty-five minutes in, I think it was the late 90s.  Anyway, I'll probably need one in about 30 eyars.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

earworm and Books Lite and blogs (not just mine)

This was the weekend earworm.  I'm not familiar with a lot of Beck's music, but I had a copy of Midnite Vultures and enjoyed it a lot.  I wasn't too sure I got what he was doing early on, but I always thought he was a cool guy.  I never saw this video before.

I cannot quite figure out why I can embed videos in this blog, but not music.  I'm really not a video person, never really watched many on TV.  I don't need pictures with my music.  I wish I could just post songs, but I guess I should be grateful that at least I can post videos with songs in them.  Is this maybe a rights thing?  Maybe whoever owns Blogger would rather leave the rights issues to YouTube.  (Who does own Blogger?  I've been under the impression somehow that it's a Google thing, maybe because I can sign in with my Google sign-in.  Then again, I can sign in a trillion places with my Facebook info, and they're not all owned by Facebook. Tho I don't really need to know any of this.

I have this Amazon thing where I can list a link to some book or album I've been talking about, and if someone actually clicks and buys the thing, I think I get .00008% of a cent or something.  I've had this for a long time on this blog and the one before it, and I don't think I've ever steered anyone to look at or buy something I've written about and linked to.  (And that's the way it works -- if I happen to be talking about a particularly album or book, I'll link to it on Amazon.  I would never link to something on Amazon and then carry on about it so I could get that sweet Amazon loot.

But this is a justified shout-out to Amazon, because Barry's getting me a Kindle for my birthday, and I'm totally psyched.  I asked for it, because I knew the price had become fairly gentle.  For me, it's something like an MP3 player:  I can totally customize it and have what I really want to have in a very convenient size.  And you can get 3500 books on it.  As someone who's been drowned in books most of my life, the idea of having 3500 books in that little doo-hickey is pretty attractive.  I mean, yes, I love physical books, and there are some I will surely keep.  But I don't like cartons of books, dusty shelves of books, piles of books...I think I'm going to be happy to move over to this technology.  I particularly like the fact that there are a bazillion free public domain books, 'cause I like a good oldie.  Interestingly enough, Robin's husband got her a Kindle too (not a request but a surprise).  The Times ran a story yesterday about how they're predicting huge eBook reader sales for this holiday season, and then a huge wave of eBook buying.  Book publishing is undergoing a sea change now, which started for newspapers and magazines quite some time ago.

Now, when I saw "the Times," I am talking about the New York Times, often called "the paper of record."  It's still a great paper and my hometown paper to boot.  However, despite my repetition of the word "paper," I've been reading it electronically for maybe 5 or 6 years.  No paper.  I do subscribe to a few magazines on paper, mostly because I was offered obscenely low rates:  The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Real Simple and Vanity Fair.  I also get this horrible gossip magazine called OK for free.  They just started sending it to me.  It's way worse than something like People, which is still kind of lame.  At least People has some content that isn't about celebrities.  OK is like Perez Hilton's stupid older brother.

But mostly what I read are blogs.  I've been using a blog compiler for about four years (it was about the only thing I learned in a little class at Penguin called "Web 2.0").  I used Bloglines until a few months ago, when it was announced they were closing down, and moved to Google Reader.  Now Bloglines is not closing down, but I'm already pretty used to Google Reader. 

I subscribe to about 90-odd blogs.  Most of them are not news and political, because I read the Times and, plus what other views slip in here and there.  I read maybe half a dozen food blogs (the ones from the Village Voice and from New York Magazine and Serious Eats and (Mark) Bittman, variously restaurant reviews, recipe and cooking, and pretty much everything else about food.

I subscribe to maybe ten music blogs, from which one can unlawfully download music albums -- I mean, which provide links to out-of-print vinyl and live concert recordings that would otherwise be difficult to obtain.

I subscribe to a few New York City history blogs and a Coney Island blog called "Amusing the Zillion."  I subscribe to Perez Hilton and a couple others of his ilk, plus Michael Musto.

I subscribe to more cute animal and kitten foster blogs than I'd care to admit to.  I actually adore the blogs from the people who foster kittens; hands-down favorite is The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee.  Not only does the blogmaster take really great photos, I'm convinced she fosters the most adorable kittens on the planet.

I subscribe to Dooce; I discovered the blog after her initial postings on post-partum depression that I think got her fired from her job.  Mostly these days it's about her kids and her husband and her's very ordinary content, even though she has a nice sense of humor, but the whole thing is somehow spellbinding.  Maybe it's baby Marlo's huge blue eyes.

I subscribe to Cake Wrecks (ugly cakes, misspellings, etc) and People of Walmart (really funny photos of actual customers, very bizarre).  And of course I subscribe to Regretsy, the blog that skewers really ugly and dreadful things posted on Etsy (the arts/crafts sale site).  She just posts some actual item from Etsy and then comments.  One of her favorites lately is when an Etsy poster refers to something as "steampunk" when it absolutely isn't.  There are more people doing it than you'd think.  She also features things like horrible paintings of celebrities, and of course most things involving unicorns.  Sometimes you find a painting of a celebrity with a unicorn.

And I subscribe to two comic blogs; I am particularly fond of Natalie Dee.  I have a tee shirt of one of her comics.

This is my own little media patch, a customized magazine rack in small installments. 

And Facebook is excellent for reconnecting with old friends.  Don't care for much else about it, but that much is cool.

Friday, November 12, 2010

a mite less postal

I was in quite a lousy mood today.  Rather, I was spoiling for a fight.  I called VitalChek, which is the rip-off service that processes document requests for many states.  I couldn't find my birth certificate and wanted another copy.  This used to be a matter of sending four bucks to the state of Pennsylvania (I was born in Philadelphia, don't hate me for it).  But now, you have to go through these idiots at VitalChek, which costs something like $30.  I requested my birth certificate from them online, and somehow, they couldn't seem to connect me to my maiden/birth name, and asked for more documentation -- one option was a scan or photocopy of a driver's license or state-issued non-driver's ID.  It said they would let you know if your documentation was insufficient.  So I scanned and e-mailed my non-driver's ID.  This was about two months ago.  (In the interim, I Googled VitalChek, and saw a raft of complaints against them, mostly that it was impossible to get in touch with them and that people waited eons to get documents that were promised within a couple of weeks.)

I had a computer crash since I made my request a couple of months ago, and it recently dawned on me that I hadn't heard from them or received my birth certificate.  So I went to their website a few days ago, and put in a customer service request, saying that I didn't have my order number but giving sufficient info for them to identify me.  I got an e-mail yesterday saying that my order was "on hold pending verification," and giving a customer service number.

I was pretty hot under the collar when I called the 800 number today, especially when a series of recordings tried desperately to get me off the phone.  First it was something like, "You can check this online -- please press one if you want to wait for a customer service representative," and then several variations of this, culminating with "due to a high call volume, your wait may be as long as thirty minutes -- please press one if you want to continue to hold."  I held, and got a rep within three minutes.

I gave that poor woman holy hell.  She couldn't seem to grasp the concept of a birth certificate under my maiden name and my current married name -- I actually said, "Surely you've dealt with married people before?"  I said if I did not get my documents or a refund in two weeks, I would call the Better Business Bureau, my congressman, my senator -- you get the picture.  She finally got it all straightened out -- my documentation was all in order -- and said that processing would take 4-5 business days, and then they would overnight it.

It took and manicure and pedicure to calm me down, although I was a little annoyed that the manicurist said that my toes were dry enough to put my shoes and socks back on, and my big toes were fucked up by the time I got home.  But it's not sandal season -- I mostly just wanted my toenails properly trimmed.  The manicure is outstanding.  I have three nail parlors near me, within two blocks of each other, and I still haven't settled on a favorite.  The woman who did my nails today is the one I've gone to most regularly, and she's very nice and gives a good manicure, but her hand and foot massages are not too terrific. (Another plus is that the nail parlor where she works has a big HDTV and always seems to be showing Anthony Bourdain, which is fine with me.)  One of the other parlors offers an extended foot massage with a pedicure for an additional fee.  I'm definitely going to try that one for my next pedicure.  The third has the advantage of being open on Sundays, but they have only one pedicure chair, and the pedicure area looks a mite funky.  The manicure prices are all six or seven bucks, not much difference.  I paid $13 plus tip for a mani-pedi today, which is a good cheap price.  I usually end up paying, with tip, around 10 bucks for hands only or 20 for both.  (I tip well.  Makes me feel better about women washing my feet and such.)

I'm having dinner with Robin tonight for our birthdays, which ought to be fun.  I don't get out enough.

I've been forgetting to say hi to my readers in far-off places.  I was convinced that only one or two people (two subscribers) were reading this blog, because I only ever got comments from one of them.  But I finally clicked on the "stats" tab, and found that quite a few people are showing up here.  But what really blew me away is that quite a few are from places like China and Slovania and Poland and Bolivia.  Slovania!  Hi there, readers from all over the world!  I think I know who at least one of the Danish readers is -- I do know one person who lives in Denmark -- but the other folks, pretty much everyone except the two subscribers, are a mystery to me.  I kind of like it that way.  And I truly, truly appreciate you all.

Back in the day, before the days of blogs, I used to keep a real-live written-on-paper journal.  I started at age eight and did it for well over thirty years.  I guess I sort of imagined it would somehow be read after I was gone, that Anais Nin kind of thing.  (How it would be discovered and published, and why anyone would be interested, was something I never quite figured out, but I was very sure it would happen.)  Of course, a blog lets that happen in real time, way before death, and is much easier to discover.

Of course, there are two ways to do a blog:  either you spill your guts and remain entirely anonymous, or you stay identifiable and censor yourself like crazy.  My first blog was the former, crammed with sex (a preoccupation at the time), and I had a ton of readers, mostly from the site that hosted me.  Somehow I grew out of a lot of that, all of the sex content and the anonymous reader-friends.  I decided to try the more-traveled path.  Sometimes I have to be cleaner and more guarded than I like, especially with things like work, and people I'd just love to bad-mouth.  It's kind of like Face-itty Book-itty:  you have to assume that everyone reads what you're writing.  It's a rotten compromise in some ways, because I can't be my whole self, but I guess I can be enough of myself to enjoy the process.  At least I can be read and identified within my lifetime, though sometimes I wish I could be as candid as...well, as Anais Nin.

Lily sent me a link to this video, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.  It's certainly one of Elvis' prettiest compositions, and I wish he did at least some singing on it.  I like Fiona Apple's passion, but not her gargle-y vibrato.  But the performance certainly benefits by the presence of Elvis' partner in crime, the mad scientist of the keyboard: Steve Nieve.  I can never say enough about Steve Nieve.  Elvis did a bunch of duo shows, just Elvis and Steve, back in 1996, and I saw both New York shows.  Wow.  As I recall, Steve also played in Elvis' collaboration with Burt Bachrach (saw that one at Radio City, one of the best shows I've ever seen, period).  I think he's been with Elvis since This Year's Model, and he never fails to amaze me.

Another thing about this video, which is from 2007:  it certainly explains why Elvis always wears a hat these days.  Hair today, gone tomorrow. 

butt out

It takes an anal personality type to write a song called "Stick Your Ass in the Air."  Just sayin'.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

earworms and other things that come to mind

The worst earworms are of course, songs one doesn't like.  There is music in my office; one woman plays an internet station that mixes late 70s to current, with a decidedly whitish cast (read: no hip-hop or R&B), and I pretty much like it.  But she's been out for a couple of days, and the other woman has been playing Z-100, which is mostly pretty awful.  It's all pretty current stuff, and they play the same stuff over and over.  Which is not bad if it's Grenade by Bruno Mars or Teenage Dream by Katy Perry.  But that friggin' Neon Trees song (Animal) is making me insane.  I actually had to look up the band & name from the lyrics, which refuse to go out of my head.

I'm not sure what to say about work, after a month on the job.  Some days are very stressful and overwhelming, and some are more pleasant.  I have a couple of no-brainer tasks that tend to be a soothing break, sort of what labeling and stuffing mailers was in publishing.  Some people find that kind of thing dull, but sometimes I just need a break from talking and thinking tasks.  I'm getting to know my vendors, who are mostly very nice (except when they're looking for overdue payments), and the women who work in the factory.  The women in the factory and the design and OAK (one of a kind) design room are almost entirely Hispanic, and mostly Mexican, I think.  It helps to speak Spanish, which I don't, but I understand it a lot and they tend to understand more English than they speak, so we manage and we get along.  My officemates and staff co-workers are nice enough.  Management is fairly hands-off and not really warm & fuzzy.  It's a workplace for me, not a passion, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.  I had a bad experience some years back working in manufacturing, partially because the boss (whose assistant I was) was flat-out crazy and nasty.  But it wasn't my favorite atmosphere.  Maybe it's just a little too stratified for my both jobs, there was a distance between the administration and the factory workers that I haven't seen at other types of workplaces.  The workers have to punch in and out, and they actually have bells (like in school) for start and stop times, breaks, lunch time, etc. 

Then again, I have a three-day weekend to frolic and be myself, even if I don't have much frolicking money.

I found a woman on Facebook who is the younger sister of my best friend from around age eight to twelve, and I got an e-mail address for her.  I listened to the Monkees with Carla, tried on her mother's makeup, drew "dirty pictures" (mostly just naked men and women, though we only had a very vague idea of what males looked like unclothed), and shared a crush on a boy at school.  She transferred to a different school, and we lost touch.  But she was a great, great friend.  Her sister turned out to be neat, too -- she sets up big equipment towers at stadium rock shows.

It's birthday season, Barry's today, Robin's on Saturday, mine on the 18th.  (I just found out that I share my birthday with James Wormworth, a drummer from the New York blues scene who is now the regular drummer on Conan -- he used to fill in for Max Weinberg, but now the gig is all James'!)  I got Barry a new wallet, which he needed, and a Swiss Army Knife, which I knew he'd love.  We were at Jannah's this summer, and he showed his knife, which John pronounced an imitation.  Barry knew that it wasn't a real one, but I think he may have felt bad, since John is such a mister fix-it and master of all tools.  So I decided right then that I'd get Barry a really nice and genuine Swiss Army Knife.  This one has 17 gizmos!

Robin (don't read this!) is getting a cashmere scarf, since she's perpetually chilly. 

I did get myself an early gift yesterday.  This horrible, tacky Russian-owned gift shop opened on Avenue U a couple of years ago:  ugly vases and ugly decorative items and ugly jewelry.  Except that there was one, exactly one, really nice pair of earrings in the window, silver and marcasite with three long drops.  I didn't want to spend the $85, of course.  Then there was a For Rent sign in the window, indicated some price drops, and I thought I might go in and make a cash offer.  But after a couple of months For Rent, just a few days ago, they posted a Going Out of Business -- 50 to 70% Off sign.  I went in yesterday and the earrings were $40 and I bought them, since I had been hoping to get them at some point for $40-50.  Happy birthday to me.

I generally don't judge people by race or ethnic group, but I make an exception for Russians.  We lived in Brighton Beach for about seven months, maybe five years ago.  The Russians there were very insular, not at all interested in assimilating or even learning English, and were extremely rude to us.  No exceptions.  We would go into a store, and have to wait until every Russian-speaking person was served, even those who came in after us.  And the stores, decor and dress were uniformly ugly, tacky and over the top.  Very nouveau riche, fur coats in 60-degree weather and the like.  That awful, rude, mean woman who cut my hair this summer was Russian.  This doesn't mean that I dislike every Russian person right away -- in fact, the GYN I just saw (she's in the same practice as my regular GYN, who doesn't have Friday hours) is Russian, and I liked her very much.  I guess I do judge people as individuals, except I tend to have an expectation that Russian people will be unpleasant. which I guess is why I mentioned that the ugly gift shop was was a very particular kind of Russian ugly/tacky.

In icky news, I went to the GYN the other day for an uncomfortable external problem.  (Squeamish folk can stop reading now.)  I found out that I have something called Lichen Sclerosis, which is a condition where your skin (often in the genital area) gets whitish and thin and itchy and sore.  She prescribed two creams, leaned on me to get some overdue tests (mammogram, bone density, etc.), and recommended a procedure (they don't even call these things "outpatient surgery" any more -- it's an "ambulatory procedure") for my slight stress incontinence (which used to be a lot worse before I started doing kegels, but hasn't vanished).  And a colonoscopy.  So I'll be having a bunch of fun in my spare time.  In fact, I'm having three tests done on Sunday (the mammogram, bone density, and I've forgotten the third, maybe a breast sonogram).  (The doctor did a vaginal sonogram at my appointment.)  My regular doctor is trying to arrange to do the colonoscopy on a Friday -- like many of my doctors, he's religious, and doesn't usually work on Fridays at all.  And Barry's trying to schedule the other thing for me.  Barry's been a huge help in scheduling all this stuff, since I can't make the calls at work.

Robin and I are having our annual birthday dinner tomorrow; Leslie (also a November birthday) was part of it when she lived in NYC.  We're going for Indian food in the East Village, also a longstanding tradition.  We haven't done it much since she got all South Beach on me, but before that we ate cheap Indian food there for years and years.  We used to eat Indian food and browse in a few favorite shops, including the late lamented vintage-goods store Love Saves the Day, and the late lamented craftsy Back From Guatemala.  Fun fact:  BFG was the first store to ever carry and sell any of my jewelry.  They bought an ocean jasper Y-necklace for $20 as a try-out, sold it, and went out of business soon after.

Speaking of which, I'm in the middle of a fairly ambitious jewelry project.  I rarely make anything that I can't finish in one sitting, maybe two.  (Same way I used to write short poems rather than short stories or a novel.)  But I decided to make a six-strand necklace for myself, mostly focused on green: ruby zoisite, fancy jasper, green kyanite (!!), some bits and pieces of moss agate and malachite, and some small green-gold pearls.  Some of the strands will be knotted, but not all.  I was actually somewhat inspired by a Chan Luu necklace that I won in a drawing at Fragments, and which I've never worn because it's too short for me (16 inches).  I don't do chokers -- they're not comfortable or flattering on me.  But the necklace is lovely, five strands of coral in different shapes, some knotted and some not, with a big carnelian pendant.  I'm still not sure what to do with that necklace -- I don't want to give it away, don't want to take it apart, and it seems a little sacrilegious to make an extender.  The thing sold for $395 at the time I won it, and I do love it.  But I'm going to make the green necklace just for me, and at a length I like.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ann Miller

Word is that she was dumber than a sack of hammers.  But she sure could dance: