Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Guilty Pleasure

If I could figure out how to put links on the side, I’d have put this up a while ago. Kills me.


In many respects, I am all for it. The opposite is nothing in and of itself.
However. With regard to this blog, I have now implemented a change in the comment boxes whereby it will be necessary to identify yourself if you’re interested in commenting. Most of my blogging friends are already hip to this. I, in my innocence, thought that nothing I had to say would be so controversial as to invite anything like weirdly creepy responses or, in this case, criticisms such as “hypocrisy” and “pretentious” – (no need to defend my honor here, friends, I already know you have my back… and if you are my friend, anonymous, I’m gonna say we need to talk!), but one thing I do put forth is that if you’re going to criticize someone, jeez, you ought to at least give me that same chance, and I can’t do that if I don’t know who you are. Well, I guess I could, but I’d rather have more information.
I do want to say, in my own defense, having looked up pretentious and hypocrisy in the dictionary, just in case I missed some nuance of their definitions in my head, mmmm, I really don’t think so. Or – I’ll even give you this – I could almost see where someone could call me pretentious – in fact I’m somewhat obsessed with not being pretentious, which could be construed as a sort of pretense. As for hypocrisy, well, I just don’t know one single person who is so fully evolved that they follow through on all their best beliefs and intentions (I’m not hanging with the Dalai Lama), and I want to say right now that I have a lot of people in my life who I really admire nonetheless, and who indeed, have more integrity than I do. Also – what interests me in writing, and, um, life, are the contradictions in all of us, the inner conflict we all struggle with. So, in conclution, I am not looking to be perfect, which has caused me a tremendous amount of pain in the past, nor am I looking to be a wildly inconsistent brute. I am interested in being right-sized, and I’m working on it.
All that said, I’m still not sure how eating meat makes me either pretentious or a hypocrite.
And now we will return to our regular programming.

Dubya, Please!

Dang it, man, get off my TV! You made me miss Ellen's dance!

Monday, May 30, 2005

Ben Folds Forever

Dear Ben Folds,

Is it so great to be you? It must be so great to be you. If I were to interview you, that might be the only question I would ask. I would say, Ben Folds, is it so great to be you? And you, I imagine, would say, It is really really great and I would say Thank you very much, that was Ben Folds. I cannot imagine that when you’re at the keyboard, bangin’, that you don’t think, Wow, it is so totally fucking great to be me!

Listening to your music, what I think is so great about you, is that rather than wishing I were you (which is something I have been known to do, historically, having wished on occasion that I were, yes, Billy Joel, Fred Astaire, Shawn Colvin, Edward Gorey and David Foster Wallace, to name just a few who come to mind) I find myself, thinking, wow, it is totally fucking great to be me. Which is not at all mutually exclusive of thinking it must also be fucking great to be you. It’s just that for the first time, thinking along these lines, I also thought, you know, although it must be fucking great to be Ben Folds, since I am not Ben Folds, I am glad there is a Ben Folds to be Ben Folds, so that feel the indescribably full feelings I am made to feel when listening to Ben Folds.

I would like to say, however, Ben Folds, that if you ever need someone to sing Aaaah, or Bop-aah, that sort of thing, that I am qualified to do exactly that, in tune and in harmony, not just because I have sung along many times over to Carpenter and Partridge records in a similar fashion, but because I do have an actual musical resume, albeit a short one. Plus I would make a cute addition to your backup singers, and I am willing and available to travel starting immediately. I realize my current C.V. does not exactly qualify me for this position, but I think it would give you an extra cachet to have a short story writer in your backup band. I have been called both “literary darling” and “short story mastermind.” That could be cool, right? I only ask because although it is truly great to be me (my husband and I have a hammock), writing is a different kind of thrill than making music, not to get too esoteric, but although the process of writing can be immensely satisfying, as is the ability to connect with a reader, physically, well, it’s lacking. I don’t get to bang on my keyboard, and even if I did, kick-ass melodies wouldn’t come out. I’m just putting the offer out there.

Yours most sincerely with not even a little bit of irony in case that’s what you think because it is 100% for sure with all sincerity,

Elizabeth Crane

Restless Leg Syndrome

In an unrelated incident (I just felt like starting a sentence with that phrase), Ted, links to an article about the above, not at all, I am sure, intending for readers like me to read the link and go OH MY GOD, I HAVE THAT, I HAVE RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME! But I did, and I do.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Dear Tom

Tom Cruise, I think you are losing it. First, I saw you on Oprah jumping on and off her couches and then down onto one knee doing that thing people do with their fist when they win something. (Which is a move I don’t think is in style anymore, although I know you’re not about that.) It’s great that you’re in love, and really it’s great that you want to tell everyone about it. If I had the chance to go on Oprah and spend the whole show telling the world how much I love Ben while I plugged my new movie (I mean book), I would for sure do it. I might not jump on the furniture. But that’s just me.

Let me also say here, that I have enjoyed your work in several movies, including Magnolia and that sports movie where Renee Zellwegger completes you.

But when I saw you on Access Hollywood last night, I knew I had to say something to try to bring you back to your senses, because Tom, you are talking out of your butt with this whole medication/psychiatry thing. Listen, I have no real opinion on Scientology – if it floats your boat that is fan-friggin’-tastic. I’ve read here and there that some nice people have paid tens of thousands of dollars for what I’m not sure. My belief in god costs me nada, that’s all I’m saying. Anyway, I wouldn’t even mind your preaching Scientology – but when you get into an area that you just can’t back up with, let’s say, I dunno, a medical degree, or even, I dunno, an article? (by someone other than L. Ron), dude, it’s just not cool. I will go so far as to admit that in my personal layperson’s opinion (and perhaps if you’d just prefaced everything you’d said with a similar disclaimer, I might leave you alone altogether), I suspect prescription medications are often overprescribed for all kinds of physical and mental disorders. BUT. In millions of cases around the world these drugs are life-saving. People can not get out the door without them. Not to mention I also read that you said there is only one proven way to get off drugs? Period, you say? Oh really? Cuz I’m sure there are about eleventy-billion clean and sober people in 12-step programs who might disagree. And you, Tom Cruise, think you are the one to tell everyone that some vitamins and some sort of mind exercises are an alternative? On Access Hollywood? Tom, it’s so not cool, which brings me to my final point.

I think what you need, in my personal layperson’s opinion, is a simple reminder of your job description.
We are looking for: A great smile. The ability to radiate cool 24/7. The ability to solve impossible missions. The ability to dance in your underpants. The ability to mix drinks. Occasional need for willingness to modify hair to portray vampires, bad guys, or non-cool, unhandsome Oscar-winning-type real people. That’s it.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

One Type of Ambiguity

No, not depressed. I've been trying to finish this very long book, Seven Types of Ambiguity, by Elliot Perlman, and now I'm trying to figure out whether I liked it or not. I really liked the beginning, which is why I hung on for the whole book - I wanted to know what happened. It was well-written, smart, it had a very complex story, but I dunno, in the end, I didn't feel the way I have after reading my favorite books. And yet, I read the whole thing, and in addition to it being 623 pages, the print was small. I wore glasses for this book. So take that for whatever it means to you. But now that I'm done, mostly what I feel is ambiguous.

Now I gotta go cuz Mojo's coming back!

Monday, May 23, 2005

A Final Word About Mojo For Today As He Prepares To Go Home

He barks in his sleep.

I do not bark in my sleep, but sometimes I scream.

Mojo Takes Naps

Just like You! And, as it happens, me!

I, however, do not snore.

But the good news is, this seems to be his only flaw. And actually, it's kind of cute.

As of 3pm, my opinion of Mojo is still that he is a really awesome dog.

Mojo Part 2

Okay, I know he's not my dog, but as his official new best aunt, I feel compelled to document his cuteness in real time and when he put his head up on my shoulder just now and looked at me with his little puppy face, it was kind of good painful.
He is a really good dog, in my estimation, after our first three hours together. His parents have trained him well, I think.

Mary Kay Le Tourneau Fualauuuu

Okay, so Mary Kay Le Tourneau, the teacher who went to prison for having sexual relations with her student when he was twelve or thirteen and she was married, has just married him (he's now twenty-two or three and they have two children together), and I don't know if it's just me, but I have a few questions. Maybe some of you have no questions, maybe it's obvious to most of you that this is just all kinds of wrong, but I'm only sure that it's some kinds of wrong. To be clear, let me just say that if I knew that my twelve-year-old (or any age) child's teacher was romantically interested in my kid, I would think violent thoughts and then call the police. This is a situation in which there is no doubt in my mind that the so-called adult in question is deeply troubled, and that regardless of whether or not the child thought he was a willing participant in the liaison, in my opinion, he was not. A kid of this age might have sexual feelings, but just does not have the ability to monitor what's appropriate in that regard.
But what to think now, ten years later, after MKLeTuFu has served her time in prison (seven years I think), when this pair is still a couple, with two children? Even if they'd just met, I'd think the age difference was an awfully big one (twenty years), and this is coming from a person in a relationship where there's a significant age difference in the same direction. (Yes, I'm older. Sigh.) It wouldn't be nearly as disturbing, of course. But I just wonder, has he been brainwashed for ten years, and is still under this woman's spell? Is it possible, just a question, but is it possible that there's actually something real between them? That he's especially mature and she's especially not? I don't really think so, what I really think is that this is a messed-up situation at best. MKLeTuFu is actually a very attractive woman, but it doesn't take a Freud to look into her eyes and see that she is at best, one very sad lady.
And I have to say, as much as anything, I wonder how in the name of anyone's god this comes under the heading of "entertainment." I say this because I was made aware of these nuptials not because of the news but because they have been featured on Entertainment Tonight for several nights in a row, each report prefaced by "Whatever you think of this union, they are getting married..." and then you see the reporter who gave this warning looking on at the wedding like any other weepy guest.
Tell me what to think and I'll think it.

Mojo Snoozing

Megan and Christopher's dog Mojo is visiting me today and after a little breakfast and investigation of the premises he is currently sleeping very cutely on the couch next to me. I super need a dog.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Reasons Why Songs For Silverman Rules My World This Week

Instrumental in my recovery from the blahs of Thursday last is this new record by Ben Folds, which is rocking my world!
1. Piano
2. Kick-ass rockin' piano
3. I love piano
4. I'm not sure you understand, so let me put it this way: head-banging piano
5. vaguely Carpenters-meets-Cowsills-meets-Partridges "aaaaah-aaaaaah" style choruses

Friday, May 20, 2005


I am feeling much better today, but I am all that much more sure it's because I have at least mild, undiagnosed SAD, and this morning the sun is peeking out just enough for me to remember what an awesome life I have. It wasn't so much that I forgot, it was more that I just didn't remember. Anyway, eight comments may be a record for this blog, and I'm glad to know that eight of you care!

Ben is not Afghani, but it's nice to lie under him too. When he came home I moved from the sofa into the bed (you know, just to mix it up, plus we can't both lie on the couch and I wasn't ready to be vertical yet) where we ate frozen pizza and watched a painfully bad movie. No lie, in one scene this couple is fighting and one of the lines was, "You - writer!" I have no idea what that means, but it obviously wasn't good. I'll refrain from naming the film, but: pretentious + arty always = painful if you ask me.
Ted, I did enjoy your new writing style, it's a little bit Cranesque, and that can never be wrong either.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Federline, yo

Just to remind you who I still am, PBS or no, I was compelled to watch the debut of Britney and Kevin's show, Chaotic! last night. (I'm sorry, Bob, I really will watch House someday... for sure I won't be watching Chaotic next week.) For weeks, UPN has been running commercials featuring a weirdly bluish close-up of Britney saying to the camera, "Can you handle my truth?" When Ben left for the evening I reminded him that he was going to be missing this show, and he said, "Aww, damn! I SO wanted to see if I could handle her truth!"

Not nearly as fascinating as the monkeys and elephants on PBS, the only interesting thing to me being that Britney seemed to think, hm, I need a boyfriend for this tour, and so she went to a club and picked out Kevin and the rest was history.

Anyway, I told Ben it was disappointingly boring, not even juicy or fun in an embarrassing way, and he said, "Are you sure you just couldn't handle her truth?"

I suppose I can't.

Friday, May 13, 2005

My New Favorite Thing This Week

PBS. No lie.

One night I watched a program on the Carter Family and their influence on music. Another night I watched American Masters on James Dean. The Carter Family, who were brilliant country musicians due in no small part to their painful private life (would it even be country music otherwise?) even inspired a new song destined to be a classic in the Brandt Family oeuvre (too off-color to print here). The James Dean program was equally riveting – I’m not one of these people who has a fascination with dead celebrities like Dean/Marilyn/Elvis, but it made me want to see his movies again because it struck me that there’s not one actor out there now who has the particular kind of soul he had. (There are plenty of fine actors out there, I know, I’m just saying that Dean very obviously had that “thing” you can’t name but which made him uniquely compelling.)

But the most fascinating show to me was a program last night that was basically about whether or not there’s a sort of humanity in the animal world, and all signs point to yes. (I realize that anyone who’s ever owned a dog – or a cat, fine – wouldn’t dispute this, but the evidence here was mind-blowing.) First they’ve got this elephant family (the fact that they have footage of all this stuff is fascinating in and of itself – do they just wait for days and weeks to get stuff this exciting, or is it this exciting every day?) living in a semi-drought ridden area, and this little baby elephant can’t reach his trunk far enough into this shallow pool of muddy water and falls in and quickly sinks into the mud, about to drown. So first the baby’s mom tries to scoop him up with her trunk, which doesn’t work, then she gets down on her knees and tries to scoop him up with her trunk and her legs, and it looks unbelievably human, and then somehow all the elephants work together to get the baby out which they finally do. The obvious intelligence going on in the group and in the individuals is, well, freaky. Jaw-dropping freaky.
Then there’s more footage of this monkey genus (with super bad-toupee looking hair) where there’s like a king monkey who’s very well-liked by the rest of the genus, but there’s this other like, jealous wannabe king monkey who’s been watching the original king and eventually gets into a big monkey fight with him and takes over as king after the original king dies. The lot of the monkey genus goes to pay their respects to the dead monkey king, seriously, and the new monkey king takes over and he’s not well-liked at all, he mistreats the baby monkeys and has an all-around bad attitude. So after a couple of months, the mom monkeys get together and decide to overthrow the bad monkey king because they don’t like their babies being treated this way and they kick the bad monkey king’s ass and they win, and they choose a new nice monkey king again. It’s totally Shakespearean.
There are several other stories like these, but the one that kills me is about this shaggy farm dog. (This one is shown as a reenactment because as you will see there’s obviously no footage.) This guy is talking about the farm he grew up on and this awesome shaggy dog they had and how the dog would go out with them while they were working and then run alongside the truck down the dirt road on the way home. This one day it’s super windy and the dust from the dirt road is blowing all around so the farm guy can’t see out the front window at all really, and the shaggy dog is running alongside the truck and he starts barking like crazy, which he’s never done before. It turns out that the dog can see the farm guy’s brother up ahead, who got stuck in a ditch in the middle of the road riding his bike home. The farm guy realizes the dog is acting kind of weird, but he keeps going and then suddenly a few yards before the farm guy is about to run over the brother, the dog throws himself in front of the truck and the farm guy stops, not in time to save the dog, but in time to save the brother. How I didn’t see this part of the story coming I don’t know, but I completely lost it. You know how sometimes you watch something sad and you get a little misty? Yeah, this was nothing like that. I’m trying to tell you I threw my hand up to my face and burst into convulsing sobs. And actually I started laughing at the same time, because I felt like such a dope, but it totally killed me.
PBS. Sometimes it’s not just talking heads.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Ok, but

I have learned from an unnamed source that the Barkers are a dude from Blink 182 and his sexy wife.
I am still not sure why I need to meet them.

I will be out of commission for a day or two as I am a dope who left my power cord in Iowa.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Barkers

And while I'm talking about cable, who the hell are The Barkers, and why exactly do I want to meet them?


I am not a teenage drama queen, and I know I have no business watching a movie about one, or any movie starring Lindsay Lohan for that matter. But my dad has a new flat-screen TV plus digital cable, and when there are 758 channels to choose from, this is what you do.
So we watched a good chunk of this movie which was very obviously all kinds of dreadful, and I wouldn't mention it at all except for when it became apparent that Lindsay was going to sing, Dad said, "Oh no, she's not one of those actresses who thinks she has to be a singer, too?" I said, "I'm afraid she is."
But the best part of the whole movie was when Lindsay meets her idol, this rock star dude. She's disappointed that he's too drunk to discuss his meaningful lyrics with her, and tells him, "You're drunk." Then at the end of the movie, he shows up at a party and says he had to see her now. "I'm sober and in recovery," he says, "because of you."
So what have we learned here? Lindsay Lohan can cure alcoholism?

Angry Cow Chases Dog On Mushroom Hunt

No lie, this was a headline from yesterday's Mt. Pleasant News.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Mapping Manhattan

The back page of the Times Book Review has an essay by Randy Cohen (aka The Ethicist, always fun to read) in which he invites everyone and anyone to cite books and passages from them that take place in specific locations around Manhattan. I submitted myself, naturally, as more than half of my stories in both books take place there - feel free to write to him at bookmap@nytimes.com with your own suggestions, or you know, if you're compelled to reiterate that your favorite bit by Crane ought to be on the map (it's not a lock, I don't think - he will undoubtedly get MANY submissions), that'd be cool - and add your own!
I'm so psyched to know that Harriet the Spy and From The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler are already a given.