Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

From my most-kind buddy Adam Levin:

Dances With Wolves. Shakespeare In Love. My Fair Lady. Gladiator.

Oscar Night, Shmoscar Night.

On Sunday, March 5, at 7PM, Elizabeth Crane, one of seventeen human beings in Chicago who is impossible not to enjoy, will be reading at the Myopic Fiction Series (Myopic Books, 1564 N. Milwaukee Avenue) for the price of no more than a missed opportunity to watch a best supporting actress attempt humility in no-smear mascara.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Things That Don’t Occur To Me For A While

Today I was folding up my fabric scraps and sorting them by color and whatnot, which are currently stored in one of those clear plastic storage thingies in our attic. Said attic being typically atticy, it got rained on or something and so the lid of the storage thingie has been kind of mucked up and unsightly for a while. As I was bringing it downstairs, I thought something along the lines of, gee, it’s too bad the top of this storage thingie is so mucked up, which I have thought every time I looked at it, for many months, until I realized the thing that took a while to occur to me for a while, which is that... I could wipe it off.

Notably, something like this happened to me once before. I’ve lived, for the most part, in older apartments with various quirks, and one of the things I sometimes wrongly assume about these places is that the quirks are unfixable, conclusions I draw when I look at things like chrome bathroom fixtures that remain kind of dull in spite of being cleaned in what I like to think is a timely enough fashion. In this case, I once had a few extra bucks to spend on a housekeeper, and when I looked at the bathroom I was stunned to find my fixtures gleaming as though brand-new. Turns out she knew enough to just scrub them a little harder than I had.

Yes, I do realize that the two examples in this bit both relate to housecleaning. In spite of this our home is regularly cleaned although I swear new dust comes in about three minutes after its preceding dust has been removed.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Two Short Lists

Two Things That Really Irritate Me

Because there’s a commercial for a new mascara and Queen Latifah is all “This mascara won’t clump, dig the brush” and I think oh posh, that’s what they all say, and then I see the brush and I think oooh, that looks pretty good, I should get that. This in less than the time of the 30 second ad. Keep in mind that I have barely touched the last mascara I bought three years ago, as it is a pain in the ass and more than doubles my makeup time which I do not enjoy and which is currently down to about 4.3 minutes. But the fact remains that I have the weakest eyelashes ever, and the idea of the perfect mascara appeals to me. So I curse you, advertisers, for making me want things I can do perfectly well without.

Attack Ad Season

I hate the ads I hate the season when they’re on one after another and I simply have never understood why these ads persist because what ends up happening for me is that they cancel each other out and I do not want to vote for anyone. I don’t care if it’s what you do. I don’t care if you agree with me on every last political issue. They make you look like mean kids on the playground.

Two Things I Love

Arrested Development (RIP)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Wee-yotch, Or: Could The CW Possibly Be What the WB Is Now?, Or: Why I Love Ben, Part Ninety-Eight Bajillion

Last night there wasn’t much on TV I was committed to while I sewed a little dog out of felt, and I did some channel-hopping with a focus on “Final Destination 2”. Mind you I hadn’t seen Final Destinaton 1, but whatever. I’m fairly bright. I figured I’d catch on, and I was right – the characters explain the entire first movie in one scene in which I was almost sure they’d slip and actually say “In the first movie…” So anyway, it was predictably ridiculous, albeit with a few chuckles, not the least of which, for me, was the dubbing in of “wee-yotch” to replace “bee-yotch.” I realize that bee-yotch is slang for bitch, but aren’t they saying both bitch and beeyotch on TV these days? I’m sure the only reason I know the word beeyotch is because of TV. I know beeyotch is a slang word, but weeyotch isn’t a word at all.
Anyway, so Ben comes home and I confess I watched “a cheesy movie” and he asks which one and I tell him Final Destination 2 and he says, “Oh, I totally wanted to see that!” And I look at him and say, “Did you see Final Destination 1?” and he says, “No,” like, what’s your point, Betsy, and that is why I love him part sixty-five matrillion or whatever.

Monday, February 20, 2006


I have to say I’m fascinated by the story about Ray Power/Jay Tower, the gentleman who disappeared from New York six months ago and was recently discovered to have been in Chicago, desperately trying to find out who he was. I’ve been wanting to write a story for a long time about memory, because there are so many aspects of it that are interesting to me, and it’s stories like this that begin to get at why, for me anyway. I think about the difference between losing your memory suddenly, which is what seems to have happened here, and Alzheimer’s, which is a slow, awful descent. This man clearly remembered enough to get a name that rhymed with his own name, and lived in a shelter and went to the FBI to try to find out who he was to no avail. (I don’t know what it says that the FBI couldn’t find him but that in the end, America’s Most Wanted was what got him home.) And so now he’s back with his family, and they’re so happy, but he doesn’t know them, which has got to be painful for all of them on a “HNL” (anyone watch Mad TV this weekend? Ben and I have a new catchphrase…). My mind just goes in a hundred different directions: if I can’t remember anything, what is life? And what if I have my memory, and I love you, but you don’t remember me? Am I just loving the memory of you? I’m about to go down a very existential road here, come with me if you will, it’s the mood I seem to be in lately, but at a certain point, you have to start thinking about the body, and what difference does it make what we look like, because here they have this beloved man’s body back, but the him inside is at least temporarily missing. Clearly I’m rambling now and not getting at the essence of what’s in my head. Perhaps fiction is the way to go.
Or perhaps this is nothing more than me constructing an elaborate excuse not to go to the gym again.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

That Time Thing Again

Yesterday I watched this cooking show I’d heard about on PBS, simple recipes, five chefs, one of them this girl I went to grade school with, Margot Olshan. I suppose woman might be the correct term to use, since she’s a year older than me, if I recall correctly. Anyway, watching this show was interesting because she was a girl I barely knew except that she was super cute and wore “mod” minidresses – she had a really nice wardrobe, I remember thinking of her as one of those girls who has the perfect, popular life – in any case, all I could think, watching her make pancakes was, How could you not still be eight? It’s different when you stay in touch with people from your childhood – Nina and I for example are friends from age twelve, so we’ve been there to witness physical growth. But the people who remain in my childhood, it’s startling to me to see that they’re not actually still children in mod dresses. It makes me wonder all about every moment of her life from the time she graduated P.S. 166 on. I guess this is why we have things like high school reunions.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Courtesy of Go Fug Yourself, I think”Hubb 2.0: The Hubbening” might be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard, or at least the funniest name for the TomKitten.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Breaking Questionable Gossip!

This just in, courtesy of my informant DAM – according to Life & Style, Tom and Katie are on the verge of breaking up. However, sources over at Defamer report that TomKat’s people are denying it. Apparently Life & Style may not be the most reliable source (Shocking! That’s where you get all your hard news, you say?), but then again, look where Mr. and Mrs. Jessica Simpson are now after all the sixty-nine times everyone said they were split and they said they didn’t.

I Spaced

Writer's Block Party! Today! WBEZ! 91.5 on your fm dial! 9:00 Chicago time! Check it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's, Yo

I wish I could show you what I made for Ben cuz it's so cute but as you know I have uploading issues.

Why I Love The Women In My Book Group

Because they are a diverse bunch of extremely smart, funny women who could just as easily have picked Flowers in the Attic instead of American Pastoral and some of us who haven’t read it in twenty years can still quote lines from it. I had to vote for Roth though, because it's the perfect kind of book that I know I should read but probably wouldn't otherwise. (This in spite of the fact that I have read and enjoyed a few of his books.)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Meta Anything

Generally speaking, I’m pro-Meta. Okay, well, I’m all for what I think it is, frankly, I’m not 100% sure if there’s an agreed upon definition. Something about twisting “reality” around into a very obvious unreality so as to bring forth a kind of reality. Authors writing fiction about characters with their own real names remains fine by me for the time being.
I’ve decided, though, that actors should generally avoid any attempts at meta. In the last number of years it’s become more and more common for actors to “poke fun” at themselves in any venue they can – going on Saturday Night Live right after some scandal, playing “themselves” on some sitcom where they’re usually portrayed as an ass. This was funny for a little while, but now I’m just thinking it’s not much more than an attempt at reverse psychology, like, “Oooh, look at me, I’m a good sport, I’m willing to [insert ‘exaggerated’ ridiculous movie star behavior here], because I know that you know I’m not really like this wink wink” but you know, I think we all know they kind of really are like that, sometimes worse, and I think they know it and I think we know it, but I don’t think they think we really do know it, I think they think they’re pulling a fast one on us and I’m not really having it.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

How to Justify Watching Swimfan On the WB on a Friday Night Instead of the Six Books You Should Be Reading

1) Write a new story every week to ten days.
2) Make little felt thingies like these that are the cutest things you’ve ever seen during the watching of Swimfan, which you’ve secretly wanted to see since it came out but which is virtually inexcusable for any number of reasons not the least of which is that the original version, called Basic Instinct, was perfectly entertaining and didn’t need to be remade with sexy teenagers. (Note to filmmakers: you lost me as soon as you dressed the junkie girl from Traffic in a lavender trenchcoat. Not that I’m hanging around high schools or anything lately, but I know this is basically the opposite of whatever the kids are wearing these days.)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Award Shows

Starting around the time I was ten or eleven, probably, I loved award shows. I watched all of them. The Grammys, The Tonys, The Emmys, The Oscars, The People’s Choice Awards, The Soap Opera Digest Awards, whatever, if they were handing out an award to someone semi-famous I wanted to see it.
Now, if I were to guess, I would say that fully half of the people nominated for Grammys alone, if I’ve heard their names at all I could no way in hell identify a song of theirs. Plus, a good percentage of rock stars? Is it just me, or is there something silly about a certain type of rock star? Something about the pomp of it - maybe I'm missing some obvious irony, but sometimes the prancing and the self-importance just makes me want to go, Oh, cut that out, now, whoever you even are.
The only thing that really interests me anymore about the shows is the fashion. They show this about sixteen times on sixteen different shows the next day, or I can pick up a copy of In Style. And honestly, without Cher in a feathered headpiece, even that’s not that much fun anymore. I can check Go Fug Yourself for any egregious fashion errors.
Nevertheless, this transition happened for me only in the last couple of years, and the only conclusion I can draw, is, like everything else in my life, I am slow to get over what everyone else I know with a lick of sense in their heads has gotten over years ago.
However, if any of these people wants to hand me an award? Different story altogether. I will so be there in Prada and I will so cry like it’s the best thing that ever happened, not just to me, but in the history of the world.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I’m One

Join me in celebrating my blog-versary (blanniversary? anniblog? blorsary?) with a little tribute to the Federlines by checking out this awesome link sent in by a reader that I like to call:
The Actor’s Studio’s James Lipton Interprets Popozao

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Put Me On A Plate With a Side of Fries

Cuz I’m done!

If you don’t see me for a day or two, I think you’ll know why.

Mrs. Federline's Follies

Britney, Britney, I am so rooting for you and Kevin and that baby, but you can’t do this. Honeybun, I know the paparazzi are bad, bad, bad people, nevertheless, even if it’s true that you were parked there with the babyFed in your lap, you had a choice: put the baby in the car seat and drive away, or let them take the photos. The paparazzi cannot kill you with their cameras. I enjoy your follies just as much as the next guy, but I prefer them without child endangerment.
Unexpected side note: When I searched Google for “Britney Spears drives with baby in lap” – the listings came up, “Scholarly articles for Britney Spears drives with baby in lap.”

Google, are you mocking me?

Paper Fridge

Made this last night and only just now, looking at the picture, do I realize why I have a few parts left over. I wondered why the ice tray didn't have a freezer!

I Think I Can, I Think I Can

Three to go, including this one!

Wedding Singer, The Musical


That Bachelor

Better pick the teacher, is all I’m saying.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Super Bowl Commercials

I saw a couple of them, with the sound off. I almost always mute commercials these days. Plus, I'm not really sure why we were watching the Super Bowl at all, though, and I still can't tell you who was in it. Ben thinks he can.

For Those of You Just Tuning In

There has been an excess of posts in the last few days ever since I realized I might not reach my goal of 365 posts in 365 days. I apologize for any ensuing tedium, and promise more content when I return to my one-a-dayish average after the 8th, whether or not I meet my goal, which is looking less and less likely.

I’m Disturbed By Mariah Carey Again

It’s just that she doesn’t seem to know the difference between sexy and weird. Like, she just always looks in the mirror, and says, This looks good. Maybe it's an issue with her mirror... I was spending way too much time trying to find a link to the dress I’m thinking of but picture a silver bathing suit with some fringe around the waist, masquerading as a dress. I feel like someone needs to explain to her the difference between sexy out in public and maybe, possibly, in some universe sexy in the privacy of your own bedroom, depending on who’s with you.

Don’t Think About This For Too Long

But yesterday I was thinking that clapping is sort of a strange ritual.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Ben’s photo printer also works as just a plain old color printer. Hello, Betsy McCall!

March of the Penguins

Makes me sure there is a power greater than myself, but makes Ben wonder how nice the power is.

Two Records I Am Loving These Days

Low, The Great Destroyer
Sufjuan Stevens, Illinoise

Fourteen Posts To Go In Two More Days

And I feel like I should warn you I may not make it.

Paper Forest

This adorable website led me to poke around and find all kinds of other paper things, and last night while we watched Wedding Crashers I made this, and it is even cuter than it looks.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

My Best Experience As A Teacher

Will probably always be when I taught this one kid who was almost eight how to read. He had, it seemed clear, some undiagnosed learning disability + nobody trying to help, so I did the best I could and we just went over and over the same stuff day after day for almost six months until one day we walked past a sign and he casually pointed to it and said, “Bob.” I just about cried, he was like, “What’d I do?” I just heard that he’s in college now.

Artists I Have Discovered Because of My Relationship With Ben

Art art: Anselm Kiefer.
James Turrell.

Comic book/graphic novel art:
David Heatley.

My Favorite Curse Word, Lately


Prejudice # 2: Completely Rational

There is simply way too much mixing of foods and food products these days. I am especially wary of sweet and savory things mixed, like any sort of fruit bagel or pineapple on pizza. And nuts are all well and good, but they should only mix with themselves. They should not try to infiltrate anything sweet, not around me. Except for Reese’s peanut butter cups, a rare example of two great tastes in one.

Prejudice # 1: Semi-Irrational (Carolyn: see also, Peeves, Pet, subsections ‘all-purpose’, ‘dating’)

I’ll try to be brief, since my hatred for all things sandal is well-documented, but no matter how much I might like a sandal-wearer, and let me say there are many (and please do not write in, sandal-wearers, and even try to say anything rational to try to change my mind, it may make perfect sense but it will not happen) I will still have it in the back of my mind as a go-to in the event of conflict.

Soup (Carolyn: see also, Peeves, Pet)

I am a soup lover, and I think my favorite right now might be cold cucumber, but I love almost all soup as long as there’s little or no pepper in it. And when I say little I basically mean none. So to be clear, there should be no pepper or no pepper in it. Sometimes I become certain that there is a vast soup conspiracy going on among restauranteurs where they meet once a month and remind themselves to put too much pepper in the soup, hey, I made a wicked cream of mushroom this month, awesome, you know what would make that better? Pepper. Which is not true. It makes it more peppery and not tasting like the thing it is supposed to taste like, only pepper.

The Continuing Appeal of Paris Hilton, Age 48

“Okay, like, I totally know that last Botox injection probably wasn’t so hot, but I ask you to, you know, consider my overall hotness because seriously, I’m still a size zero, I like, totally did not lie in my last memoir, My First Six Fiancees, and oh yeah, I’m still hot and you have to admire me for forgiving Nicole Richie back in ’23, because not everyone would do that after what she did.”

Friday, February 03, 2006

Dave Chappelle

Usually I don’t much pay too much nevermind to the celebrity interviews on Oprah, but today Dave Chappelle was on and I have to say his story was pretty interesting because he echoed a lot of my thoughts about Hollywood. If you haven’t heard, there’s been a lot of speculation about him in the media for a while because he walked away from a $50 million dollar contract on his successful show, and everyone was saying he was cracking up, he was on crack, you name it. And the way he told it, anyway, not that people don’t lie to Oprah, but he said that at that level, a lot of people want into your “pockets and your mind” and that what comes along with that recognition and success and money was just overwhelming. One of the ways he put it was a quote he heard somewhere, “Success takes you where character cannot sustain you,” which is essentially a very precise way of saying what I’ve been saying for years, that there is very often a point in the life of a celebrity where the normal rules of human behavior no longer apply. What’s fascinating to me about his story is that everyone thought he was crazy, when in my opinion, it was only that in this milieu, they’ve lost sight of what sane is. And he did not seem one bit more crazy than anyone else I know, he seemed pretty awesomely regular, in a comic genius kind of way.

Who I Want To Be President

I can’t think of even one person I’m aware of in actual existence who I want for president, but I think he should have these features:
He must be very very very smart, almost omniscient in how much he knows about what’s going on in every last corner of the world.
He must not have a comb-over. He can be bald.
He should believe what I believe.
No lying to me, ever.
He cannot have the power to be invisible, but he could have the ability to fly.
He should listen a lot.
He should not come on TV when Oprah’s kicking someone’s butt or if someone is jumping on her couch.

A Preview of My 2009 National Book Award Speech

Visual: I spin around, sexy-but-classy-like, tilt my head over my shoulder to flatter my best side, whichever that is I don’t know, and say, “Carolina Herrera.” Oh wait, that’s my 2011 Oscar red carpet walk.
National Book Award Speech: “Diddy, I could not have done this without you baby. Peace.” (Pound chest twice, peace sign to “Diddy” out there.)

Books and Writers: The Guilty Pleasure Edition

Y’know, I spent so many years reading full-on trashy novels that I’ve kind of used up my chip on that for the next two lifetimes. But: Give me a pile of trashy magazines (Us, People, In Touch, Star, I Don’t Care), and that’s a really good train ride to Iowa.

Where I Was Exactly Ten Years Ago Right Now

Exactly 8:42 am on 2/3 is hard to say, but basically I was in LA, working on a short-lived TV show as an assistant to an actor/writer/producer, “dating” a “screenwriter” and even more depressed than I had been when I got there, about to go back to NY to find out my mother had cancer. Not a real good time, except for the part about how it was so bad that I moved to Chicago a few months later, which was the beginning of everything being much, much better.

My First Winter In Chicago

Was pretty cold and long, but I was so happy not to be in NY or LA that it didn’t really matter.

Not Hockey

If I had to sum up my life in two words, it would be more than accurate to say:
Not hockey.

A Novel Idea

Today’s Times Op-Art.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Fortune Cookie I Would Like To See

You will live to be 125, and your wrinkles will slowly fade away to where there’s still a little life in your face but you’re not looking twenty-five, plus a menu of lobster and fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and whatever else suits your fancy will be delievered fresh to your door daily, and on this diet you will maintain a toned figure without ever having to go to the gym, plus also you will win the tax free Powerball lottery later today which even though you didn’t enter it is up to 87 million dollars, plus also war will end and everyone in the world will be more or less healthy and happy with only a little tiny bit of sadness just so you have something to measure it against.

A Side of Teo: My Favorite Flavor of Popsicle


One From Column M&C: Spit

Don’t do it.

One From Column Matt: An Irrational Fear I Have Outgrown

I no longer fear that I will go down the drain when the plug is pulled.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Reaching for the Stars

Okay kids, well, I hoped to have posted 365 times in 365 days, but as my blog-versary approaches next week, I fear I am not going to come up with 35 more without your help. So, if you have a minute, please post suggestions about topics you might like to see me post, um, a sentence or two on before February 8.