Free-Floating Hostility

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

All my Friends are Cowboys

I sent Isaac a belated birthday wish last week. This was (most of) his reply:
I am chewing on a German article about Charon of Lampsacus. Of all the early Ionian logographers, he was by far the biggest slut. Everyone says so, Hellanicus, Xanthus, Hecataeus, even Thucydides. The guy would write a local history for any city-state in Asia Minor; it was disgusting.

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  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at February 27, 2007 11:35 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
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  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at February 28, 2007 6:15 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • history for the people - what's wrong with that?

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at March 04, 2007 6:12 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • "Chewing on a German article"? How stupid. That kind of cliche reflects lazy thinking. If we take that expression literally, it's obvious how ridiculous it is. Instead, he should have said, "Frying a German article in olive oil and eating it with a baguette."
    -Charon of Lampsacus
    P.S. I am not a slut. Shut UP!

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Hostylefax: SoCal

I'm just back from spending parts of the last four days in Southern California. My only celebrity sighting, however, came in the Sacramento Airport where I saw Flava Flav sitting by himself two gates over. He had no entourage and was signing a magazine for some guy who had gone through just security ahead of me and had his bag searched because he was packing drumsticks. I was searched also, because the women at the security counter noticed the expiration date on my drivers' license. Incidentally, no one at LAX noticed that I intended to fly with an expired license, so you can take that for what it is. The thing is, though, if I were every going to spot a real movie star in SoCal it should have been this weekend. I mean, they were all in town for the Oscars. Maybe there weren't any staying in Culver City, but there might have been a few with places in O.C., and I spent nights in both areas.

Actually, staying with Detroit Joel is sort of an interesting experience. He knows a lot of people who are "industry people," which means they have some connection to the film companies, however minor. So while Anna and I sat at home (I complained about the totally insane stuff and Anna critqued the dresses), it's funny to think of all the people sitting in L.A. watching the show and trying to calculate if they have become more or less important as the envelopes are opened. Also, my sense is that many people who are "industry people," don't actually make any money in the industry. I have to imagine that job satisfaction in L.A., extremely low in United States anyway, is probably worst there.

The first half of the trip was spent in Irvine, visiting Marisa and Mary, learning about how graduate students live in Southern California. It's similar, from what I could tell, to how they live in Northern California. The campus at UC Irvine is pretty nice, as is the graduate student housing. I spent much of my time there in a huge shopping mall that was clearly designed to absorb disposable income from students. Parking seems to be most contentious issue everywhere. I also sat in on an informatics lecture, which is the program Marisa is in. I can't really explain what that is, so I'll wikipedia do it for me and you can take or leave it.

Then it was up to L.A. where Joel and I ate sloppy burgers and chicken wings in Santa Monica (although we avoided Hooters this time). Saturday I played poker with some industry people, going from short stack to big stack to last person out before the payout slots in the space of about six hands. I won't bore you with the details of my poker hands, though, only wankers do that. Then Sunday it was an early wakeup call and a quick flight home.


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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Women of the World, Commence your Mourning

My baby brother called tonight to tell me that he is getting married to his girlfriend Anna Rose in July of 2008. Despite my heartfelt happiness at the news I didn't manage a very big reaction because it was just thoroughly expected. Apparently, David proposed during the first week of their acquaintance. I had an inkling things were trending this way about a month into their relationship, the day David told me he was so in love he had spent the whole morning trying and failing to leave bed and fetch a banana. The two have been trading off weekends to fly back and forth from Michigan to New York in order to spend time together (despite all this, Anna Rose told me that my parents were surprised at the news, which can only be deemed puzzling). I have not yet met Anna Rose in person, but I look forward to the upcoming dowry negotiations.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Ken Auletta, Please Report to the White Courtesy Phone

We went out to dinner once with a former Spec colleague whose then-current job was to decide what news stories would go on the Yahoo! homepage. My memory of her explanation of the job (spotty, given that it was three years ago) was that she had an eight-hour shift in which she sifted the wire and changed the stories on the front. Actually, what I remember from that night is Anna leaving in a towering temper as the former colleague referred to herself as a "journalist" and expressed an opinion I no longer remember about the Jayson Blair scandal (How long ago does that seem? I actually had to look up the spelling of his name).

But it does seem strange that I've never seen a story about how news and features find their way onto those home pages. I mean there are probably a huge fraction of web users that are savvy enough to open a browser and maneuver around the Internet, but not savvy enough to figure out how to change their homepages. So loads of people are checking out the news offerings they've selected, but there's no real understanding on how those stories are getting up there. And these people are exerting a huge amount of influence over what news many people are seeing. I can't believe the conservatives aren't all over this.

Actually, though, this whole post was an excuse to link to this story, a piece about an elderly tourist in Costa Rica killing a would-be mugger with his bare hands. This was on the AOL homepage just now.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Take it Away, Dave and Sharon

My husband has baby fever. I do not have baby fever. This makes us, in the language of infectious disease epideimiology, Baby Fever Discordant. We are the sort of couple on whom benevolent non-profits will focus their ad campaigns. I can almost see giant posters on BART featuring a woman looking frankly at the camera while her ethnically ambiguous partner's head lolls resignedly on her shoulder under a caption that reads "I guess I thought if would be easier if we both had it. Now I know that's bullshit." I decided to confront this problem head on.

"You have baby fever," I informed Michael the other day, my tone making it clear that this was an intervention and I was exercising tough love.

"I do not."

"You obviously do."

"No I don't."

The conversation went on in this vein for some time. Finally Michael said, "Alright. I talk about babies a lot. But do you know why?"


"Because baybeezh are cuuu-uuu-uute."

The irony of all this is that Michael has spent almost no time with babies. Or, perhaps that's not so much an irony as a major explanation.

"You know," I broached this information as delicately as possible, "That babies do not smell good. I know they look like they smell good. But actually they spent most of their time drooling, crapping, and puking on your clothes." At this Michael did the imitation he has perfected of a drooling neonate. "Michael," I attempted to restore focus. "You do realize that we're not going to be raising lion cubs, right? They won't have fur and paws and adorable little manes? We can't carry them in our teeth?"

"We can try."

"And that then they'll grow up to be four-year-olds? And then nine-year-olds? And then homicidal, suicidal, crack-experimenting, rude, bulimic teenagers? And then Jehovah's witnesses? And there's nothing you can do to stop them?"

"Whatever, we'll teach them to tell good jokes."

I conjecture that Mike feels injured that I have not indulged his longing for a child when he's been so supportive of my longing for a dog. But apparently he does listen. He sent me this column by Bay Area sportswriter Michael Lewis on his kids' horribleness phase in response to my well-worn theme on how kids can't get to adulthood without going through the phase clinically termed "the asshole years."

I have refused to reenter the baby-having conversation until Mike has spent a serious amount of time around some children. I suggested he find a local children's group with which to volunteer, but he has so far refused on the grounds that people will think he's a pedophile. Queenie has put her oar in, stipulating that she wants no grandkids until we are thirty. And the circle of life spins on.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Adventures in Mystery Meat

That one summer I spent in Spain when I was twenty has provided me with a quanitity of fond memories disproportionate to the short time I spent there. Those fond memories do not, however, involve Spanish food. I've had lovely food in the home of Spaniards, but the public fare is awful--at least the fare I could afford, even in the innocent days of the peseta. Take Italy, deep fry it, hide shrimp in the pockets, and you've got Spain. That's why when I went out to eat, it was almost always to a Cuban restaurant in the tourist section of Seville. Habanita (Little Havana, if you're illiterate), served fresh vegetables and unblushing mojitos, and that was enough. I usually went there with the other foreign students, especially Sacha, a friend with whom I failed to keep in touch, but whom I remember most fondly.

Now, the trick was the menu. The whole point of our tenure in Seville was to learn Spanish, so we were not about to go asking the waiters to translate. That restricted our choices to dishes we could recognize. One night, Sacha was stuck on the question of whether or not to order something called juevas plus a lot of modifiers. Juevos would have been slightly more informative, but as most of Spanish food involves egg it was really no protection against ordering a haggis tortilla. "You know," I cautioned, "In the States, juevos can be slang for testicles. You might be ordering balls." But in the end, Sacha was non-vegetarian and Dutch, so she decided just to order the juevas and see what came.

What arrived on Sacha's plate was an unclassifiable hemisphere of white animal protein. We all stared at it for a few seconds, then Sacha picked up her fork ate a morsel with a great show of fortitude. "What is it?" we practically screamed. "It's okay," she said musingly. "But, you know, I think it's brains." She finished about a quarter of it.

When I got home that evening I consulted one of the large dictionaries which littered the apartment that the school rented for its foreign students, and discovered that the feminine juevas means fish eggs. I was a little disappointed.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Our New Line of Chipmunks come with Extra Hold and Moisturizers

I'm convinced that Karina Lombard from The L Word used to be on a pantene commercial. But my attempts to turn up evidence have not been fruitful. Seeing why requires clicking on this picture, Mom.

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  •   Posted by Blogger Alice at February 17, 2007 11:34 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • She's Brad Pitt's wife, Isabel, in Legends of the Fall. It was showing on AMC at 2:00 a.m. last night/this morning, and, yes, I did watch the first half of it. That movie is an inexplicable guilty pleasure.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

In Which Anna Relaxes her Ideology

I have made no secret of my antipathy toward Valentine's Day. This year I spent the holiday at the DMV and the gynecologist's. The DMV trip was nice because it meant Mike and I got to spend about three hours awake in each other's company for the first time in weeks. Mike discovered this morning that his driver's license had expired, contemporaneously with his attempt to rent a car and drive to L.A. to cover a game. We had to make the DMV trip thrice. The first time it was closed, the second time we got an unseasoned DMV employee. She let Mike renew his license but didn't include an interim license in the stack of papers she gave him, forcing the people of Enterprise Rent-a-Car to explain that they couldn't give Mike a car just because he'd given them a form detailing his plans for organ donation.

The gyno visit was fine, too. Being a patient in the Kaiser health system is a little like being a Yugoslavian in the era of Tito, which is a place and time better suited to the retention of dignity and individualism than America on Valentine's Day.

But my busy day still left me a little time for reflection. For instance, my first-year buddy left me SweeTart hearts in my mailbox, and I acknowledge that that was a thoughtful gesture. And Dara showed me the valentine Paola sent her: complimentary descriptions of Dara, turned into a word jumble, which is creative and cute. So basically, I'm prepared to say it's okay to send valentines to your friends. This is not wholly out of keeping with my original position, though I'd still prefer to play first-person shooter games.

More imporantly, I am hereby lifting my blanket condemnation of celebrating the holiday with current or prospective sexual partners. You now have my blessing to celebrate Valentine's Day with your lover if you are any of the following:

1) Gay
2) A Hutu dating a Tutsi
3) Trying to escape an arranged marriage
4) Quadriplegic

Why these exceptions? Because if you've answered yes to any of the four, then that means that the rest of your waking life will not necessarily be one long, hearty congratulation on your choice of sexual partner. So go ahead, take an extra day to celebrate, and good for you for being brave.

The rest of you? Just pull yourselves together and try to get through the day without forcing any single people to get involved with whatever perverts are currently posing as their soul mates. I have my eye on you.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Good Idea, Bad Idea

I'm a big fan of Canada, so, unlike most Americans, I'm not reflexively against trading in the dollar bill for the dollar coin. I don't remember when Canada scrapped its $1 bill, but for as long as I could remember there were Loonies (because of the Loon on the tails sid) Later they added the Two-nie. I always liked them. So really, I'm open to dollar coin. But don't you think the U.S. Mint could have found a slightly less Satanic looking picture of George Washington?

It's terrifying. Anna suggested he looks like the guy who played Cato on HBO's Rome, which isn't a bad point. But it's no a point in favor of this particular piece of currency. I want my money to look friendly.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Embarrass Yourself Less at Parties

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The Carman 11 Baby

Last weekend, like many of you, I got a call from Dave. "So, you know how Rich is engaged?" he said.

"No," I answered, bewildered. "I know Jeff is engaged." This is it, I thought to myself.

"Well, everyone knows that," Dave said dismissively, "But you know how Rich announced his engagement on his blog?"

"Um, no," I repeated, cause I am a bad friend. She's so pregos.

"Well, that's crazy, but we're about to blow that out of the water for craziness. Sharon's expecting."

Being an egomaniac in addition to a bad friend, I blurted out "I knew it!" before getting around to the congratulations.

"If you had looked around the table on a Monday night at the West End in 1999, would you have picked me as the first to have a baby?" Dave asked. Well, no, but that's one of the nice things about Sharon.

Later, when I had Sharon on the phone and congratulated her on her fertility, she informed me that was the second-best response, the best being her grandmother who asked, "Was it an accident?" (It's planned).

So, Baby Form is due some time around July, and this is very, very, very , very cool. We realize that, technically, Baby Form is not the Carman 11 baby due to its having been preceded by Baby Medina, but we also think that doesn't really count, and are prepared to exercise our discretion in this matter.

My deepest apologies for being a week late with the posting of this news, which is in no way reflective of my excitement about it.

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