Sunday, December 30, 2007

Merry Christmas to Me!

Okay! So, except for Ben bonking his noggin in a freak snowboarding accident (or, not freak - he was actually standing on a sled) and us going to the emergency room, we had a pretty great week at my dad's house in Iowa. Here are some highlights taken with MY NEW CAMERA that Ben got me for Xmas plus a little post-concussion video that I also took with MY NEW CAMERA. (Note: Ben is recovering nicely and the ER, at least in Mt. Pleasant, is not anything like it is on NBC. Meaning, you fall off a sled and you walk in and there's no one there and they say come on in and then they fix you and it doesn't appear that any doctors are drunk or having sex with any other doctors. Also: while viewing, please ignore my fingers/horrible hangnails in front of the camera, I wasn't concentrating, but I don't claim to be Scorsese either.)

Snowman #1

Snowman #2

Tree with cardinals (there was a bright red one in the center just seconds before I took this photo, for reals)

My bro Reed, in fake smile

My dad in fake smile

Crane-Zangers in Santa hats.

Dog tired.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's The Little Things

I got my first pair of snowboots in about twenty years.
This is life-changing.
I'm sorry if you've been waiting for something better than this.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Monsters of Rock

There's a new obsession in the Brandt house.

Feelin' it.

All Nancy Wilson.


Because you know, what with school, teaching, writing, art, and Facebook - we really didn't have enough to occupy our time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Transcript of Yesterday's Support Group Meeting For Obsessive Dogs

Sunday at the dog park, Percy's best gal pal Piper swallowed one of his rubber balls whole. She's done this before. Thus, the transcript.

Percy: Why would they leave such a tasty pillow out if they didn't want me to eat it?
Piper: This is my feeling about the balls. Am I the only one who loves that rubbery feeling in my mouth?
Izzy: LOVE that feeling! LOVE IT!
Charlotte: Oh man, me too.
Santino: Nothing like it.
Percy: Have you guys even tried pillows? Slippers? LEATHER? Leather is the best!
Counselor: I think we're getting a little off-track here. Let's redirect. Last week we talked about treats, and we agreed that you all get plenty of treats.
Percy: A treat is completely different than a pillow. Not the same. Both have their place, don't get me wrong.
Piper: Does a treat have a squeak? I don't think so.
Percy: This is what I'm saying.

Friday, November 09, 2007

My Fambly

Okay, so Percy has been entering a new phase of life in which several changes have taken place, for the better or worse depending on how you look at it. After nearly a year with us, he seems, in his doggy way, to have become more certain that this is is permanent home, and that we are his permanent people, and although his personality is still not altogether typically doggy run to the door lick you all over the face, he is showing signs that he kinda digs us. One of the more obvious ways is that he just sits closer to us than he ever used to, whether it's on the sofa or on the bed, he'll just sidle up and lay his head on your lap or under your hand, as opposed to sitting down in his own little spot at the foot of the bed, or on the other end of the couch.

The more problematic behavior, of late, is that after TV/reading hour is over, Percy has become more and more reluctant to go to his own bed on the floor, and has repeatedly either whined to get back into bed with us, where, during sleeping hours, there is no room for Percy and our four legs. The repeated whining, however, is more or less intolerable, and so often one or the other of us will concede some space to Percy and contort our legs however we can so that we can go back to sleep. I suggested a king-sized bed, which Ben is not into. Then I had a genius idea. Ben could build a platform dog bed that will go at the foot of our bed, so that Percy would have the feeling that he's in our bed but really he isn't. I tested out this idea with a makeshift version where I put Percy's dog bed on top of the trunk already at the foot of the bed, which isn't really big enough (or stable enough, long-term), but amazingly, he went for it, and slept there for several nights before Ben brought home the new dog bed.

And I was thinking, hm, where am I going to move the antique trunk to when the dog bed comes home. My idea was that Ben would slap some two-by fours together with a piece of plywood.

I should have known my husband would never do such a thing.

What can I even say? My husband is the winner. The winner of the husbands. And my dog is about the luckiest dog ever. Paris Hilton's dogs wish they had beds like this.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Chocolate Louds

Ben went to Trader Joe's yesterday. Opening the bag looking for my chocolate cat cookies I saw what I thought was labeled "Chocolate Louds." I said, "Mmmm, chocolate louds...". Ben said, "Clouds. Chocolate clouds." I looked closely. Indeed, there was something resembling a cursive letter C in front of the all-cap serif font of LOUDS. I said, "Well, that's just bad design." Plus, while clouds of chocolate sound perfectly lovely, don't chocolate louds sound so much more exciting?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Bubblerama at the Midwest Film Festival

Hey, come see Bubblerama if you missed it! It's free! And it's opening for this movie!
Click below to RSVP!

George Saunders is Inside My Head And I Can Only Hope He Remains Blissfully Unaware of This Fact

From now on, in my classes, I think I’m just going to tell my students, ‘Please go get The Braindead Megaphone and read “Mr. Vonnegut in Sumatra” and “The Perfect Gerbil” (along with “The School” by Donald Barthelme), because these two pieces articulate, in a far more entertaining and intelligent manner than I ever could, exactly what I think about writing, and reading, and if you have any further questions, I’m sorry about that, because there isn’t anything at all that I can add to advance or illuminate the discussion, and your time would be just as well spent sitting here in silent contemplation for the next ten weeks.’

During the school year, I have little time to spend reading the ever-growing, nay, perilously Tower-of-Pisa-like pile of books on my nightstand, much as I am loving what little of it I have poked into lately (Roy Kesey – freaking fantastic! Deb Olin Unferth – totally want to be her in my next life! Tao Lin – whoa.) One could suggest that I cut back on my television viewing, to which I would say to one, ‘ For one thing, One, I have to have some entertainment while I’m in bed weaving our new living room rug (yes, One, you heard me right) also, most evenings, past the hour of say, eight, my brain begins to fuzz over and cannot properly absorb reading as well as it can earlier in the evening, and frankly, before you judge me, One, you should really check out Pushing Daisies, because it’s about the cutest show ever, I don’t care if anyone thinks it’s too precious, it is precious, but not in a Care Bears kind of way, just in a super fairy-tale bittersweet comic love story kind of way, with super cute 1950’s style clothes, and Anna Friel, if you’re a google-yourself kind of gal, and I hope you are, I would love for you to star in the movie version of my story of your choosing. Actually, I would write a story just for you to star in. (Although Pushing Daisies people, if I had any complaints, there’s maybe just a smidge more cleavage taking place on this show than seems necessary to move the plot. But maybe that’s just me.)

Getting back to Saunders, the piece about Vonnegut is so freaky to me, because the trajectory of my life as a writer bears some very similar, albeit completely different experiences. Unlike Saunders, I was introduced to Vonnegut in sixth grade – we also read a bunch of Pinter, and the following year, Salinger, and my pre-teen imagination ran completely wild. I had decided when I was eight that I was going to be a writer, and I had always loved reading, but it had never been more clear to me that this was what I wanted to do. Forget that I didn’t have much of an idea at the time about what any of it meant – it was odd and hilarious and gorgeous and it made me write stories about made up creatures that lived under the dining room table and babies born in empty rooms who aspired to be on Johnny Carson, but then I was assigned to read some people like Hemingway and some other perfectly fine writers like Austen and Fitzgerald (and with regard to Hemingway, heavy emphasis here on ‘assigned’, because I’m quite sure this assignment was in no way completed) and for reasons that escape me now, I completely forgot that the Vonneguts of the world existed and started thinking about themes and climaxes and denouements and trying to describe things, like I dunno, wildlife? bullfighting? women in petticoats named Eliza Jane? which weren’t things I was especially interested in, in our 11th floor apartment at 588 West End Avenue, I was interested in Wacky Packs,

and the Partridge Family,

and why my friend from fifth grade was showing up at school with belt marks on her back, and why my friend from sixth grade who used to be into old movies like me came back after the summer to seventh grade suddenly into sex and the marijuana.

Hm, this is so not where I thought I was going with this. Where was I going with this. Nowhere as usual, likely. The point, I think, is that it appears that Mr. Saunders had his own circuitous route to writing the way he writes, and I very much appreciate my unaloneness in that, and am reminded why I try to encourage my fellow writers and writing students to read all kinds of different stuff, not because they should be writing like Vonnegut or whoever floats their boat, and especially not to write in nice tidy upward sloping stories before coming back down at some mathematically predetermined end, but so that they go, ‘So, you’re saying that if Vonnegut writes like Vonnegut, maybe I can write like, er, me?’

To which I say yes, yes you can, and you don’t even have to wait until you’re thirty-five before you let anyone read it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Crazy Something, Anyway

Ben and I watched this documentary last night about this couple in NY, Burt and Linda Pugach. The story in a nutshell is this: they met when she was about 22, they broke up because he was married, he was obsessed with her, threw acid in her face, partially blinding and disfiguring her, he went to jail for fourteen years and then they got married and they’ve been together for thirty years but apparently ten or so years back he pulled a similar stunt with another mistress.

So, um, I’m clear on the ‘crazy’, but not so much on the love.

Still, it’s interesting to think about. The question of love aside, they have chosen each other. Me, lye in the face would be a deal-breaker. Equally as fascinating is that almost all of Linda’s friends seemed to support her choice to go back to him. One of them said something like, ‘She was thirty-five.’

Anyway, all I’m clear on is that Burt and Linda Pugach have something, but if that’s love in any universe, I’m frightened for all of us.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Bachelor of My Dreams

Voice over: Next, the most shocking rose ceremony ever…

Cut to clip of befuddled Bachelor.

Insert commercial.

Cut to: Twenty-five young women in cheap evening gowns.

Host: You have twenty-five lovely ladies here but only sixteen roses. Are you ready?

Bachelor: This is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do.
Host steps away. Tense music plays.
Bachelor (looking down): Alisha, will you please accept this rose?
Alisha walks over.
Alisha: Um, I don’t know how to say this… I just don’t see this going anywhere.
Bachelor looks blank, but moves on.
Bachelor: Oh, of course, I totally understand.
Alisha walks away.
Bachelor: Jenni, will you please accept this rose?
Jenni walks over.
Jenni: I’m sorry, I can’t. I see us more as friends.
Bachelor looks blank again. Bachelor: Sure, sure. Candis, will you please accept this rose?
Candis walks over.
Candis: I’m not really feeling this.
Candis walks away.
Bachelor: Oh, okay then. Arnelle, will you please accept this rose?
Arnelle walks over.
Arnelle: No.
Arnelle walks away.
Bachelor shakes his head in amazement.
Bachelor: Southern Arnelle will you please accept this rose?
Southern Arnelle walks over.
Southern Arnelle: No.
Southern Arnelle walks away. Host walks over.
Host: Well, this is a first in Bachelor history - you’re batting a thousand here slugger, but not in a good way. You want to keep going?
Bachelor: Yes, yes, I guess I should be surprised this hasn’t happened before.
Host: Alright, well then let’s move on.
Bachelor: Bettini, will you please accept this rose?
Bettini walks over. She shakes her head no and keeps walking.
Bachelor: Petunia, will you please accept this rose?
Petunia walks over. She gives him the hand and walks past.
Bachelor: Shamickney, will you please accept this rose?
Shamickney has already left.
Bachelor: Shamickney?
The other girls shake their heads.
Bachelor: Shmemumnum, will you please accept this rose?
Shmemumnum: Joker.
Shmemumnum walks away.
Bachelor: Shlmrmma, will you please accept this rose?
Shlmrmma: Sorry, man.
Shlmrmma walks away.
Bachelor: Blehblahblys, will you please accept this rose?
Blehblahblys: Not likely.
Blehblahblys walks away.
Host walks back over. Host: Do you even want to continue?
Bachelor (not convincing): No, I do, I do, it’s cool. Brlph, will you please accept this rose?
Brlph walks over and says No, whispers something in the bachelor’s ear, he brightens briefly.
Bachelor: Thanks, Brlph. Shondpoo, will you please accept this rose?
Shondpoo walks over.
Shondpoo (conflicted): Okay.
Bachelor hugs Shondpoo before she walks away.
Bachelor: Crmpgth, will you please accept this rose?
Crmpgth: No.
Crmpgth walks away.
Bachelor: Okay look, is there anyone else who actually wants a rose?
Plpnquich: I do.
Bachelor: Plpnquich will you please accept this rose?
Plpnquich: To be clear, I don’t really want to date you, I just like roses.
Bachelor: Here, I have some extras.
Bachelor picks up most of the rest of the roses.
Bachelor: Look, are any of you interested in dating me?
All remaining ladies shake their heads no.
Host walks over.
Alright, so at this point, any number of possible endings would satisfy me:
a) A truly awkward, terrible relationship week after week in the same format as the existing show.
b) This:
Bachelor: Shondpoo, I didn’t have time to go pick out rings from the fancy store they’re advertising this season, since there were supposed to be ten more episodes before the last bachelorette was left, but: Will you marry me?
And then here, again, I would be delighted with either of these possibilities:
a) Shondpoo: Oh my god, yes, yes! Yes, I’ll marry you!
b) Bachelor: (Pulling out a ring from his pocket) Shondpoo, will you wear this ring to signify that we are continuing to date and see what happens?
Shondpoo: Oh my god, yes, yes!
c) Shondpoo: Let’s just forget it.

Cut to: The Bachelor, in a limousine, sobbing uncontrollably.
Bachelor: God, I don’t understand! I felt intimate connections with at least twelve of those women! What’s wrong with me? I’m so embarrassed!
Bachelor grabs bottle of booze from minibar.
Bachelor: Whatever! I’m the bomb, if they can’t see that it’s their problem. Just friends. As if. Pssh.
Bachelor starts crying again, waves his hand in front of his face and hides his head, doesn’t want to be seen anymore.


Chicago Center for Literature and Photography has a podcast up that I did with them yesterday. Check it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Our Dog is Famous

Did a reading at Quimby's last night with Ken Foster, who is an important link in the chain that led Percy to find us, and you can read all about it in his new book.

No, Percy didn't make the cover. That's Ken's dog. I don't know what went into that decision. But in any case, check it out - Ben and I get special mention as well!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bunches of Readings

Hi Kids!
I've got readings all over the place in the next two weeks.

Friday, October 19, 7:00 at The Book Cellar: Come hear "Witty Women Writers" Stacey Ballis, Wendy McClure, Claire Zulkey, Jen Lancaster and me. 4736 N. Lincoln.

Saturday, October 20, 7:00 at Quimby's, 1854 W. North Ave: Ken Foster, Megan Stielstra, me, and maybe some dogs. Maybe my own dog Mr. P.

Thursday October 25, 7:30 The Fixx Coffee Bar, 3053 N Sheffield, with Roy Kesey (all the way from China!) and Jonathan Messinger.

And if you happen to have a limo, you could also go to the screening of Bubblerama at the River East AMC that same night at 6:30, details at It's only a half hour, so it could happen.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Green. Very green.

I do what little I can to go green, more and more, although unlike my husband I'm not ready to make the move from tissues to handkerchiefs. I use a lot of tissues, at times, and one hanky, well, it's just not gonna work for me.

Recently I've been using Trader Joe's pocket packs of tissues, and I didn't realize before I bought them that they were 100% recycled.

I don't know what to make of this.

My mind goes, well, it goes to a bad place. It takes the word green into a whole new dimension.

Let's not even speak about recycled toilet paper.

Friday, October 05, 2007


Dear My Students,
I know, my penmanship is terrible. I will work on that, although you should know it was the only subject in elementary school in which I got a 'poor' and it may not improve significantly now that I am long out of third grade. In the meantime, please be aware of the following: if you see a note next to a sentence that looks like it says "No!" in fact, what it most likely says is "Ha!"
I would never write something so brazenly shaming on your work.
Your Professor,
E. Crane

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Go To Premieres and Shit

Here is a still from Bubblerama, MY (first) MOVIE:

The premiere at the MCA last night was super glam and my friend Liz told me I looked so Hollywood which made me very happy since it was exactly what I was going for. I figure, you know, when in Rome... no one needed to know my Hollywood outfit was a top from Forever 21 and a very last minute belt that was actually a necklace and a pin, which looked very cute until I attempted, um, moving, at which time it kept falling off.

But enough about my outfit.

The movie is awesome. It's based on this crazy story I wrote, called Stealer. There are some amazing (and surreal) images in the film but I don't want to give too much away since I think it will be more widely available for your viewing pleasure soon (stay tuned). There were twizzlers in the theater and the party was fancy and fun and they served yummy small food like tiny burgers, tiny milk and cookies, and tiny soup with tiny grilled cheese. And there were gift bags! With bubbles and cookies and champagne - we donated ours to a very, very excited homeless lady on the street. (This could be a whole separate post...) Check out the website again, on the link above - there's some cool stuff there, including an interview with the adorable and sweet actors (watch closely for a clip from the film in there featuring ME) who were so so so great and perfect, and you can also send an email message to a friend from 'the doll' (although the voice is computer-generated and not the helium-goodness in the film).

Yep, this is how we roll. I'm just glad this is only how we roll sometimes, because if we rolled like this every day I would roll through life dazed and spaced out from all the excitement, which keeps me awake at night. I would be willing to roll like this slightly more often though, if it keeps paying the rent.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Lost Baldwin

This morning we met a French bulldog at the park.

He tried to bite Percy's ears.

His name is Daniel Baldwin.

What, you want more?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Kid Nation

Okay, I care about kids. I don't have any but I am pro-taking care of them.

And I think Kid Nation is my new favorite show. I almost cried like six times.

The clip here on Gawker, might or might not prove my point. But in fact, these two kids were really great, even though the shaggy haired little boy decided to go home, and I love that moment where the older girl comes to take care of Jimmy.

And that little girl ended up being really glad she stayed - she toughed it out and felt really proud of herself. There was also another girl, a fifteen year old named Sophia, who rocked it - totally stepped up.

Is the show contrived, is it sort of Survivor for little kids except no one gets booted off and they have food and roofs over their heads? Yes. Are these kids really great? I think they are. Check it.

Ben Moments

The other night Ben walked out of the bedroom in a very odd, squiggly fashion - I thought maybe he had tripped. I said, What was that?

He said, That was my straightening out the rug dance, and then he performed it again.

This morning, Ben said, This book is awesome! I thought he was still reading The Devil in White City. He said, No, The Theory of Mouldings!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Love Lift Us Up To A Higher Place

Not sure if I've mentioned our singing habits around here, but they include making up words to existing songs, making up entire songs around things like frozen foods ("Mini Beef Tacos"* is a classic) and other less romantic things. Also, Ben tends to sing falsetto pretty much always.

Yesterday he was singing the theme to Officer and a Gentelman in the aforementioned falsetto, thusly:

"Love lift us up where we belong
to a higher place
to the Asian race."

There were more lyrics after this that also rhymed with ace, and some of them were pretty funny, I'm pretty sure outer space was in there too, but I forgot the rest because I was still back on Asian race. Because - it seems like it almost means something... but it really doesn't.

*Mini beef tac-ohhhs
mini beef ta-cohs.

Year of the Dog is Not a Comedy

I have never been able to hack it when bad things happen to animals in the movies.

When I was ten and saw Gone With the Wind for the first time, the only time I cried during the movie is when a horse drops dead from exhaustion.

So, in spite of knowing the basic storyline of Year of the Dog in advance of seeing the movie, I completely lost it when the bad thing happens near the beginning. I don't mean I got verklempt. I mean that kind of sloppy wheezy sobbing.

We have a dog now, as you know.

And he was curled up at our feet as we were watching this sad, not a comedy movie, and I just, okay he's a puppy still he's not a year and a half old really, but this dog in the movie was a puppy and bad things happen but I would seriously just die if any bad thing happened to our dog so I don't really even know why we're talking about it.

It's a good movie, by the way. And there are one or two funny things in it. But it's just not a comedy.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

If I Could Get My Cash Back, I Would, But I'd Settle Instead For My Time

Ben and I watched this movie Cashback last night, which initially had a little promise, slowly became weird, and then became downright disturbing.

And let me say this about that: I am not easily disturbed. Not by movies, anyway. What disturbed me about this film was not what it was but what it pretended to be.

Briefly, this movie is supposed to be an arty/quirky indie film, a romantic - comedy? - of sorts that focuses on the an art student who had a bad breakup with his girlfriend. Early on it seems sort of gloomy, and as they're developing the breakup story there is some insanely heavy-handed orchestra music that seems like it got lost on it's way to the climax of an Oscar-nominated biopic. At this point, Ben and I are just in the "What the hell?" stage of watching. There was another sequence - I don't know what the film-techie word for it is, but it's that thing where one object (in this case, the art-kid) is moving in slow-motion and everything else is moving fast - and it's just - I'm sorry, but it was cool the first time I saw it but I just kept thinking - I LOVE movies that are creative and artful (I'm in the LOVED IT camp on The Science of Sleep) but I've seen this more than once before and at this point - you know - a great story doesn't require a lot of special effects, and all this so-called artiness was doing was just calling attention to the unoriginality of all of it.

It begins to take a turn for the more comedic when the sensitive art-student guy (who of course has a horny best friend) goes to work on the night shift at a supermarket, where we're introduced to a quirky cast of characters such as you might see on The Office - no, wait, such as you have already seen on The Office. And then the art student guy suddenly becomes taken with one of his co-workers, as indicated in the locker-room scene where he tries to help her get a bit of food off her face, which has only been done in about sixty other romantic comedies and/or sitcoms. Oh and there was one more bit that was dowright creepy - art kid finally wins supermarket girl with his debut gallery show - that's all portraits of her. Okay, in real-life, we call that stalking. My husband - my husband - has maybe drawn four or five pictures of me in as many years. This movie takes place over the course of a few weeks.

But mostly (can you believe I'm not even up to the mostly yet?), this movie got under my skin because of this: art guy talks a lot about how beauty has always meant a lot to him - beauty here being indicated by lots of lingering, slow-motion shots of perfect breasts and asses, and when I say lots, I mean - so many that it becomes offensive on multiple levels. One being that the point could have been made with, say, one or two pairs of breasts, but another being that the 'beauty' being discussed is pretty much a porn-magazine conception of beauty - round, pert boobies, flat bellies, round high, asses. I have the sense that the slow-motion was intended to make this 'artistic', but I'm not having it.

Tying this back to Showgirls, as much as I've heard that film was trying to be arty, it fails so spectacularly on that front, that the humor value is well worth it, and, more importantly, I am completely fine with a movie titled 'Showgirls' having a whole bunch of bare breasts in it. Cashback, not so much. Arty filmmaker, whoever you are, I'm sorry to harsh your mellow, I often save my negative reviews for my private life, but you lost me at beauty. Give me Russ Meyer any day.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blue, Black, Whatever

Apparently I cannot tell black from blue.

Yesterday I bought a pair of pants that I believed to be navy blue. When I modeled them for Ben he informed me that they were black. I stood next to our black dog to show him that the two colors were not the same.

He laughed very hard and told me I had a problem and that I might be colorblind. I went around the room naming colors to prove that I am not colorblind. I got them all right.

He retrieved several more black items to hold next to my blue pants to prove to me that I had this problem. I continued to maintain that they were all different. Finally I could not refute the truth when one last black item was held next to the pants.

Although the issue comes back into some debate because after I decided to return the pants and retrieved the tag from the trash, the color, in tin-iny print, was listed as 'New Black.' Which to me either means that navy blue is the new black or I do indeed have a problem.

Monday, August 27, 2007

My New Old Career

Last week I made an appearance as “Elizabeth Crane” in a film called “Bubblerama,” based on a short story I wrote called “Stealer.”

I was cast without an audition. They asked me if I thought I could play the part. I said I thought I might be able to bring something to the role. Layers.

This was not my acting debut, but I’m pretty sure it’s the first thing I’ve done that will ever be seen (unless you were watching As the World Turns back in 1986 and were inclined to use the pause button). I had lines. I sat in a trailer. I had makeup. (One more reason I love me some Ben: he said “They gave you a smoky eye.” I said “How do you even know what that means?” He said, “I’ve seen America’s Next Top Model.”)

I am very much planning my wardrobe for Sundance right now.

If you would like to come see the magic, you can!

Click it or ticket: BUBBLERAMA

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Every Now and Again My Faith in Humanity is Restored

Wonder Dog by Tony Fitzpatrick

I believe in artists supporting artists and when I find that other artists share this belief, I am happy.

That's all I have to say except look closely at this collage and read the poem. I think it might be the loveliest thing I've read in a while.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Messenger - The Play: See It

Hey Kids!
Okay, I should have posted a reminder about this a while back, but the theatrical adaptation of When The Messenger is Hot is up at Steppenwolf's Garage theater right now, and there are still four performances left and you should go see it. Call this number for tickets: 312-335-1650. It's only fifteen bucks - a bargain! And it's amazing. I can say this because all I did was show up. Okay, well I wrote the book. But they play was adapted by Laura Eason, who dreamed up something I couldn't have, and if it weren't for the genius vision of the director, Jessica Thebus, it would never have gotten to Laura or onto the stage, especially not in just exactly the captivating way that it is. I can't say enough about how great the cast is. I will save for another time what a surreal experience it is to see your work, and elements of your life, more or less, acted out in front of you, but in these capable hands, it's mostly relief that those parts of my life are over and that I am crazy lucky to have a theater like Steppenwolf include my work in any way.

Here is a crazy good review from the Tribune.

And here are some photos:

Behold the beaded sweatery goodness!

Look, mom comes back from the depot!

A sweet moment I won't spoil.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Different Places!*

Okay, please don’t ask me the obvious question – which would be along the lines of – Um, and, why did you watch this movie?

Even though I’ll answer anyway: Because Ben hadn’t seen it?

It can be argued that the humor value, intentional or -un, holds up, anyway. I would argue that the cost of renting this movie, especially on Netflix, is worth it for the swimming pool sex scene alone, between Elizabeth Berkeley and Kyle “I’m just trying to hang on for dear life here” McLachlan. If it doesn’t make you laugh uncontrollably, I’ll send you your 2.99.

*Showgirl Nomi Malone's angry answer to the seemingly innocuous question, "Where are you from?"

Thursday, August 02, 2007

All Buffalo Meat All The Time

Just got back from a week at this lovely place, Ft. Robinson, Nebraska. Here is a picture of the lodge we stayed in:

I noticed, in the weeks leading up to our family vacation, that when people ask you where you're going on vacation and you say 'Nebraska', the response is generally a puzzled look. In fact, Ft. Robinson, former military compound and the site of the demise of Crazy Horse, is quite a beautiful place, with well-preserved historic buildings, gorgeous western-like scenery (buttes and what have you) lots of stuff to do like swimming, horseback riding, hiking, tennis, kayaking, even a little Corky St. Clair-style summer theater (note for the next Broadway Revue: I'm not sure the song "I'm Just A Girl Who Cain't Say No" has held up so well). So it was the perfect place for my entire family, from 10 to 80, to convene.

Here is a picture of me on a horse, followed by my two nephews:

Here is a picture of the main ingredient in most meals at Ft. Robinson, Nebraska:

If buffalo meat isn't your thing, you might want to consider bringing along some food because non-meat oriented meals are hard to come by. They did have a 'salad bar', but there was a lot of mayonnaise involved in most of the 'salads'. Also, if you anticipate even a remote need for femininine hygiene products (perhaps this is in keeping with the 1900-military theme where there would have been few women around?) or Diet Coke, plan ahead. This is a strictly Pepsi-lovin' town. If you want a wooden gun that shoots rubber bands, then you're in luck.

Here is a picture of a kid from the rodeo:

Note: This kid was not the smallest one in the rodeo by a longshot. There was a little girl who could not have been two, who participated in an event called 'ride the hide', in which you jump stomach first onto a cowhide that's tied to the back of a horse, and get dragged. This little girl jumped onto the hide like she'd done it a hundred times, but watching her bounce up and down while being dragged behind a horse was more than a little disturbing.

Here is the sort of picture I like to take:

Here is the sort of picture Ben likes to take:

Finally and sadly, I do not have a photo of what was perhaps the most spectacular moment of the trip, so you'll just have to picture it: Ben diving, nay, flying, head first, Jackass-style, into a large hedge to retrieve a Frisbee. But let me just say this: if I had videotape, I would for sure win the big money on AFV.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

No again.

Please Never Say This Unless You Are Quoting Someone Who Is An Idiot:

"Game on!"

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Okay, please someone to explain why I need to be on more than one network such as myspace, friendster, linkedin and what have you. I'm confused. And I have only so much time to spend online looking for messages in six places.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem

Summer television sucks. I’m catching up on some reading, for sure, but sometimes, in the evening, I’m just tired and I need a little mindless entertainment. But I feel like what’s going on right now brings ‘mindless’, as the guy on Mad TV says, to a “ho, nubba lubba!” (translation for those of you who haven’t seen it – “a whole ‘nother level”).

So what I am known to do is watch several shows at once. I do not have picture in picture. And yet, my feeling is, watching shows like this, I am more than capturing the essence of all of them in this limited viewing style.

Last night, I watched Wife Swap and Posh Comes to America at seven, followed by Extreme Makeover and Age of Love at eight.

By nine, I was suicidal, but too tired to do anything about it. At this point, I actually picked up and finished a book, bleary as I was.

Read it. Eighty brilliant pages about Vietnam was far less torturous than the combined programming I had on earlier.

Okay, so but let me talk about these shows a bit. I was drawn into the Posh show by the commercials and by my utter wonder at the apparent obsession they have in Britain with Posh and Becks. Basically, she comes to America a few weeks ahead of her husband and kids to settle in, buy a house and find a manicurist. It was hard to tell what of this show was meant to be cheeky and what wasn’t. She had a certain charm, I’ll admit (she does a fine impression of a blowup doll), but the name Posh seemed to fit. She lounges by the pool in heels. Her two best friends are her hairstylist and her makeup artist. But the whole show was so contrived that it was hard to tell if there was any real glimpse of her at all. All I could really latch onto about the whole show was the utterly foreign lifestyle. Hideously garish twelve million dollar houses, paparazzi, and especially, a group of post-middle-aged and multiply reconstructed/hair-extended Beverly Hills ladies who invite her over with a welcome lunch. It was during this segment that I learned of Posh’s affection for the term ‘major’, as in (imagine Posh accent) “These ladies had ‘may-juh’ lipstick on!” (in fact, it was really their lips that were major, if you ask me). I really don’t know what to make of any of this. I don’t know what my life would be like if I had that kind of money. It just seems really hard to imagine that it would be anything like that.

So I flipped between that and Wife Swap. Okay, I actually like Wife Swap. One of the things I love about it, as with many reality shows, is imagining what it would be like if I were on that show, and in this case, trying to figure out what would be the sort of opposite of our life, who they’d swap us with. Which would maybe be: very rich and indulgent, very rigid and religious? We’re not super neat or sloppy, we’re certainly arty, but we’re not very extreme anything, which helps for the drama on the show. And yet, all of the families they choose seem so extreme that it’s not often I can root for one over the other because they’re usually both so stuck in their weirdnesses that I don’t like either of them. Last night they had a family whose son was super into motocross even though he had hideous burns on his back from an accident and they more or less ignored their daughter, matched up with a ‘pagan’ family who ‘worshipped’ their mother, the goddess. Ben and I are, it’s safe to say, the opposite of both of these families. Maybe we would need two whole families to swap with.

Okay, and then there’s Extreme Makeover, which is almost pointless to watch until the ‘reveal’ which comes in the last five minutes, and Age of Love, arguably the most shameful of all of last night’s programming, a dating show in which a 30 year old man chooses between a group of women, half in their twenties and half in their forties. I have my own reasons for tuning in to this show, and am obviously rooting for one of the forties (not that this guy is so great or so bad), but it should come as no surprise that there’s no real depth to the exploration of this issue, if there is one, it’s as if they’re pitted against each other, so that only the vaguest commonalities come through – your twenties can very frequently suck, and your forties can be a time when you really know who you are. All of the women, younger and older, are basically attractive, and they made a point to pick especially ‘hot’ older women, but. But. It’s edited to be a sort of younger vs. older, typically catfighty kind of thing whereas in real life, I have women friends of all ages, and certainly there are differences to the extent that I’m not the same person I was when I was twenty-five, thank god, but the kind of people I hang around with tend to assume that we’re all individuals on our own individual timelines. I know, I know. I know this kind of show would never be deep. And yet I retain the hope that I can glean some little glimpse of something real.

Don’t ask me to give up TV. There’s 30 Rock and The Office and what else, I’m sure there’s something. But I need to cut back even more. (Yes, I said, ‘even more’. I watch less than I once did, believe it or not.) I don't really want to quit. I just want to be a social viewer.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Two major developments in my life this week:
I now have an iPod. An iPod I actually loaded with my own stuff. What I'm saying to you is that I figured this out.
I have also, thanks to a friend, (yo what up CB!), discovered a new website to obsess over called Pandora. Probably I'm the last one to know about it, but in case you're behind me, it's a music site where you create your own radio station and it's awesome. You plug in stuff you like and they give you more stuff you might like and they get it right way more often than not.
My station is called Awesome and Great Radio.

But way more important:


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Falling Down Is Not My New Thing, Even Though I Do It Sometimes

Okay look. I have a weird thing about making things happen when I write them. A sort of superstition, if you will, even though I'm not superstitious, which I decided a while back was actually a choice I could make, as I continued doing things like stepping over cracks, walking around ladders, avoiding black cats, knocking on wood and throwing salt over my shoulder, one day I thought, wait, I actually don't believe this will prevent and/or remedy any ill effects caused by running into these things, and so far so good, as I no longer worry about spilled salt in particular, which I do a lot because I like salt, a lot.
So it occurs to me that I could also decide not to have this other selfmade superstition about making bad things happen by writing about them, like family members getting sick or what have you.
The point today is, recalling the previous post about falling down being my new thing, is that it doesn't have to be my new thing, and so, just because I fell down a third of our front stairs yesterday for no good reason and now have a hideous bruise on my thigh which might be a really lovely shade of violet for let's say an evening gown but which on my thigh is well past unsightly not to mention sore, does not mean I have to continue falling down just because I said it was my new thing and therefore that concept is out in the world.
Because it's not enjoyable, really. And quite frankly, that thing about seeing your life flash before your eyes? Let me tell you what I saw, in one instant: I saw myself, at the bottom of the stairs, bent into unnatural positions, possibly never bending back into the original one.
And by the way? I don't even know how it happened. I didn't trip, I didn't stumble, I wasn't hurrying, I was standing up and then I was falling down for no apparent reason.
So falling down and or superstitions, known or selfmade, are officially my old thing. My new things include standing up and logic.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ben Brandt, My Man

Come one come all to see Ben's show at Caro D'Offay Gallery, opening this Saturday July 14 @ 7:00, 2204 W. North Ave @ Leavitt! If you can't make it, come anytime before September 8!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

No, No, No. No.

Dear The Today Show,

Feet are not the new face.

Thank you,
Elizabeth Crane

Dear Everyone Else,

Someone actually said this. No lie. Just when you thought 'something is the new something' could not be used in a more idiotic way, along comes 'feet are the new

Nothing is the new anything ever again.

Yours truly,

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

This Is How The Cranes Roll

We now interrupt this blog for a moment of full-on boasting.

As we speak, this man is on his way to my dad’s house:

That’s right, peoples. My dad and especially my stepmom, as I may have mentioned once or twice before, are quite active in local democratic politics in Iowa, which gives me great pride. On this occasion, someone contacted them and said, “Would you like to host this event?” And my stepmom told them they hadn’t decided on a candidate just yet, and they said that’s fine.

My dad often forgets to tell me things like this, relatives falling ill and/or dying and/or major politicians coming around and we end up having who’s on first conversations and so he’s talking about excitement and people coming by and secret service and I say “What are you talking about?” and he says all casual-like, “Oh, did I forget to tell you that possibly THE FUTURE PRESIDENT WILL BE STOPPING BY?” Okay, maybe I’m inserting a couple extra words here, but the casual-like tone is the important part.

I feel I retain the right to boast since my own personal level of commitment to the cause, beyond voting, involves complaining and signing moveon petitions.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Ok, so I’ve been tagged to do this meme (which I think is pronounced Me!Me! but looking at it I always think ‘mehm’) which I will attempt to do but you’re gonna have to tag yourselves if you have your own blog because the concept, if I have it right, is a little too close to a chain letter for my comfort, minus the threats of horrible bad luck and pirates coming to take away your children or what have you. I can’t promise that won’t happen, of course, if you elect not to mehm, only that if it does, it’s a complete coincidence.

Note: I too, have already blogged about some odd facts about myself, so here goes.

8 Facts

1. I kind of like ironing. Not that I do it an awful lot, but when I do, there’s a genuine satisfaction for me in seeing wrinkles disappear.

2. Ben and I rescued a kitten a couple of weeks ago that turned up under the hood of his truck. We gave it to a cute couple that had two pugs. Today Ben saw a cat he was pretty sure was the baby daddy.

3. I really miss writing letters, and yet, with email, it’s not likely I’m going to start writing too many of them again unless you are the one person who is not hooked up to the internets.

4. I also really miss getting the New York Times delivered every day. Now we only get it on Sunday, and I can look at it online during the week but come on. It’s not the same. I can only take so much comfort in knowing I’m responsible for a few less trees being slaughtered.

5. Lately, I’m getting invitations to join Linkedin (again with the pronunciations – because there’s no space, I always hear this as ‘linka-din’) and Facebook and I am not at all understanding why I need to be on more than one of these networks because frankly, just the one (myspace) is enough to keep up with. I need to obsess about my friends on three websites?

6. Poop, pee, and especially gasses, are frequent sources of humor in our household.

7. I’ve lost 12 lbs on ‘weight watchers’ (term used loosely because I don’t go to meetings and I only keep track of points in my head) so far this summer, and I can now fit into some of my cute clothes I couldn’t wear last summer.

8. Our shared dream of having our fabulous (hee) apartment featured in a magazine has finally come true. You can look at it here: Apartment Therapy. Okay, okay, it’s online. It’s not Architectural Digest. But it’s very cute, and so is our stuff. (Note: when you get to the site, you have to click on the little picture that says 'house tours' - but it won't show up until 12:30 Chicago time I hear.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

Why Always So Deep, Edward Norton?

Okay, look. I’ll start by saying that we rented Down in the Valley and Ben really dug it and I daresay he got it (BTW: do not read on if you do not want this movie spoiled). I thought I was getting it, until the second half, where things changed rather dramatically and I began the slow descent into deep confusion. Initially, it seemed to be the story of this headstrong teenage girl in the valley – you know, the LA valley – who meets this age-inappropriate but kind of sweet cowboy guy, and their ensuing love affair that’s naturally disapproved of by her disapproving father. Except no one ever mentions the fact that Edward Norton is about forty and the girl, whose name is October (of course her name is October), is seventeen, only that Edward Norton is increasingly a little weird. About halfway through, when he begins to exhibit overt signs of weirdness, like playing cowboy games in the mirror and ‘borrowing’ horses that don’t belong to him, the story turns into more of a Western with guns and more horses and then, this is where I got really lost, first a bunch of Hasidic Jews and then an abandoned ghost town, except the next thing you know it isn’t abandoned at all, Edward Norton is suddenly talking to people who seem to exist in an alternate, 1800s universe, and then just as suddenly we discover it’s a scene on a movie set. Further adding to my confusion, at one point Edward Norton has a handlebar mustache, which led me to believe some time had passed, but then just as quickly the mustache is gone again but they’re wearing the same clothes. Meanwhile Ben is going This is awesome and I’m going But what about the mustache he had a mustache and then he didn’t what does that mean? And Ben says You’re still stuck on the mustache?

Look here, even the movie posters are confused:

No Mustache


So then I had to go look for some interviews about the movie, to see if I could find out about the mustache, and the Hasidim, and listening to Edward Norton talk about it, I see that it was completely his and the filmmaker’s intention to leave many questions unanswered, and so I’d like to say to them that they have succeeded in that, and that the question of the mysterious mustache will continue to haunt me.

But here’s the real thing. This has happened to me more than a few times with movies over the years, where I’m totally into it for a while and then it takes a turn and I’m really disappointed because what I was hoping for was a different story entirely. A couple of examples come to mind: 1) While You Were Sleeping. I totally related to Sandra Bullock’s lonely Chicago girl dragging her Christmas tree up the stairs by herself and falling for a guy she barely knew. But I never understood why they had to have the complete and utter contrivance of the guy being in a coma while she falls in love with the guy’s brother. Would it not be a complicated enough, and more importantly, a more believable story, if you had a woman interested in and/or involved with one brother and then she falls in love with another? But no. They had to go and make it all screwball or whatever the hell. A better example, and I know I’ll get some flack for this, but I’ll go ahead and mention it since in one of these interviews, Edward Norton actually mentions that he considers the two movies companion pieces, which, kudos, Edward, makes total sense, is, 2) Fight Club. I know, I know, y’all loved Fight Club. I had two problems with Fight Club: one, considering that a big part of this movie was about consumerism, I couldn’t get past the idea of Brad Pitt, who I’d seen promoting the movie and talking about all the heinous and terrible consumerism, while leaning myself toward the belief that it was unlikely that Brad Pitt, then married to Jennifer Aniston, slept on anything less than like, a billion thread-count sheets, and that was just a start. (Fine, he’s a humanitarian now, I dig it, but Brangie's not living on a kibbutz.) But the other problem I had, which was exactly no one else’s problem with this movie, was that the single most interesting concept in the movie was pretty much just a minor point, the part where Edward Norton is so psychically tortured that he starts checking out all these different support groups, none of which he really belongs in, just to try to get some help. That to me could have been a feature-length film. Anyhoo, back to the movie I wanted this one to be, here we start the film with the lovely, feisty, bored valley girl Evan Rachel Wood/October, who picks up the cowboy Edward Norton at a gas station and they fall believably in love, to me, and that is the story I wanted to see. It wouldn’t have to have had a happy ending. But what seemed notable, this point of their age difference, was never one time mentioned – and I just kept thinking, 99 times out of a hundred I’d be disapproving of a relationship like this, but what if this is the one that’s right? He was very childlike, and she was wise, and I thought, let’s see more of that. Isn’t that an interesting story? Also, if I must confess, referring back to my own peculiar fantasies, this is the sort of romance that I DREAMED of when I was sixteen or seventeen; sexy, mysterious stranger rides into town and he UNDERSTANDS ME. Back in the heyday of made-for-TV movies, there was one called Sweet Hostage, where Martin Sheen plays a sexy escaped mental patient who takes Linda Blair hostage and gives her some learnin’ and lovin’. Oh yeah. I remember being CRUSHED that that didn’t end well.

My point is, it’s fine to be deep and all, Edward Norton, but there’s deep and there’s confusing. In the end, all I really need cleared up is the mustache.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Read This Book And Get Back to Me, It’s Insane

Ken Kalfus is an old pal of mine now and a great guy and widely acclaimed, nominated for the National Book Award and the Pen/Faulkner Award and what all and yet it’s astonishing to me that more often than not when I mention Ken Kalfus to some very well-read people they say “Who?” I frankly don’t get it. Read this book and try to put it down and see how you do.

Friday, June 22, 2007

What Should I Do Today?

I may have mentioned that I'm off this summer, and it's pretty sweet, but I got kind of used to not having as much free time this winter, so now that I have lots of it I have all kinds of projects I want to get done, and I don't know what I'm in the mood for today.

My choices:
a) Put together my quilt.
b) Sew up a pillow for the little batch of circles I sewed together that my mom had made which she never made into anything which I found out are called yo-yos:

c) Sew up the pieces of the gingham top I cut out the other day.
d) Finish throwing a bunch of crap out from the attic.
e) Bitch-blog about the asshole who ruined a perfectly good time at the dog beach yesterday.
f) Go back to sleep.
g) Read one of the dozen books I planned to read this summer.
h) Wash my hair. (Longtime bert readers, you know this is letter h for a reason.)
i) Dick around on the internets for a while longer just to make sure I know where Rosie and Elisabeth stand today.
j) Write 200 more haikus so I can finally catch up on my myspace promise.
k) Um, start a new story?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

In Appreciation of Knobs

Okay, when you have all your knobs in place, you probably don't think about how great that is, but I'm here to say that when some of your knobs fall off, it's a total pain in the ass. Because your options for opening the cabinets become: try to get a grip on the teeny little nub of the screw that's poking out where the knob fell off, or open the other cabinet door, the one that has a knob, so that you can open the knobless door. Unfortunately, when the knob on the door adjacent to the knobless door also falls off, then you're back to trying to grip the nub, or reaching all the way down to the bottom of the cabinet door to pull the door open.

I can't even remember when the knobs started falling off, but it's been a while, long enough so that for several days now, since Ben went out and got new knobs, every time I reach for the knob with my two fingers ready to pinch the nub, to discover that there's a whole, actual, complete working knob right where I want it, well, it's joyful. You have no idea how substantial a knob feels in your hand when you've gotten used to pinching the nub of a screw. Especially since I like the feel and the look of these new knobs much better.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Fantasies Aren’t So Fantastic Anymore: The Clooney Edition

So the other night I couldn’t sleep even though I was really tired so I tried one of my old tricks to put me to sleep which I don’t do very often anymore because it feels weird since I got married which is: I fantasize myself to sleep. When I was single that’s what I used to do, every night almost; I’d think, who should be my boyfriend tonight? And I’d make up a story about that person in my head, and it could range from Benicio del Toro to someone, you know, who I actually knew, but the one thing that was consistent was that I had to set up the scenario so that I could actually believe it might happen. (The writer in me? I can only suspend my disbelief so far.) So let’s say if I were to meet Benicio del Toro I would contrive some situation where I get bumped into first class because there’s no room in – whatever it’s called where I usually sit - low class? – and of course he introduces himself but I don’t really understand him because of the mumbly thing, but he understands me, I can tell this by his nodding and also looking into my eyes in a sexy meaningful way, and I say I’m not really that kind of girl when he seems to be suggesting we join the mile-high club, but when I make it clear that I will be expecting a long-term relationship, then we do join the mile-high club, and then we land and become a couple. Yeah, I know, whatever.

So but I had to kind of train myself out of these fantasies after I met Ben, because it felt weird, and because there was actually someone I wanted in my bed and in locations outside of my bed, again and again, and eventually I started going to sleep without immediately going to fantasy. The other night, bored and sleepless, I tried to fantasize about George Clooney and to say that it went wrong would be past inadequate.

George Clooney used to be a staple. It was always easy for me to conjure up a scenario in which we’d meet – we have actually met, in a manner of speaking, I daresay he flirted with me. In my fantasies, this would always be the conversation starter, wherever it was that we’d meet, this night we met at a Sundance screening of the film of my story, and he’d say You look familiar and I’d say something like, You probably don’t remember me but I used to work on the same lot when you were on ER, and you used to play basketball with... and he’d say I couldn’t forget you, blue Doc Marten girl, you were Donny Ward’s assistant, the one who used to pretend she didn’t notice me, and I’d say, Damn, it was that obvious, and he’d say It’s okay, I thought it was cute. Then we start talking and he asks me out (and I should say, in keeping with the quasi-realism of my fantasies there now needs to be a reason why Ben is out of the picture, and because I don’t want him to be out of the picture, this is a difficult proposition – we absolutely cannot be divorced for any reason, but him being deceased isn’t an option either, it’s along the lines of a weird superstition even though I’ve decided I’m not superstitious, where I can’t write about a character based on a relative who’s sick or injured or something bad has happened unless it’s actually already happened just in case I make it happen with the superpower of my writing, so it’s here that the fantasy begins to fail) and I say I don’t think we’re really right for each other, George, and he says Don’t you think we should go out first before you decide that and I say It’s just that I have a hard time believing you’d ever be faithful, plus we’re like, the exact same age, I know you like the sexy young babes and I’m fine with my sexiness level, really, but this here is an all-natural, 100% real, 46-year-old babe who doesn’t even work out or anything, plus I’m pretty sure I would not at all be into having people take my picture every day, I am not very photogenic, sexy as I am, also I already don’t love driving and so I would seriously not be into being chased by paparazzi and possibly ending up dying a horrible death in a multi-car pileup and then my NY Times obituary would not say Elizabeth Crane, Acclaimed Short Story Writer, dies at 108, it would be a headline and it would say Six Paparazzi and Others Die in Fiery Crash, and here I would be ‘others’, or best case scenario, my Times obituary would say ‘Elizabeth Crane, Once Dated George Clooney, Dies, also, I just really like my privacy, and I shouldn’t admit this but I care what people think, and I don’t really want anyone thinking badly about me because I went out with George Clooney, and although most people would probably say Right on about both of us, a lot of people would say all kinds of things like Who does she think she is, what does he see in her, she’s a star-fucker, whatever, I don’t know and George Clooney says Um, I have a villa in Italy. And I think about that, because that’s good, I’ve seen pictures of it, and I say That I would like, can we go live there most of the time? And George Clooney says Sure, whatever you want, and still I say, I don’t know, George, you’re bright and funny and obviously handsome and everything, but you’re not Ben. Well except I don’t say that last part because I don’t want to hurt George Clooney’s feelings. In my fantasy.

So, to recap, basically the fantasy here is that George Clooney really wants me and I turn him down and if there is any sex at all, it’s incidental or not in the fantasy.

I tell this to Ben and he says Wow, men and women are actually different. Do you even understand what a fantasy is?

And I say, I guess not.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Guide to Recognizing Your Actual Life

So Ben and I watched this movie the other night, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, basically a coming of age story based on this real guy’s life coming of age in Queens in the mid-80s. Robert Downey Jr. plays the adult version of the guy and Shia LeBoeuf plays the kid. (BTW – ever since SNL I will never be able to think of him without thinking of Kristin Wiig’s Target Lady saying in her weird guttural voice, ‘Shia Le Boeuf – what kind of name is that?’) There’s not too much of a story but there’s a lot of drama with these guys and their neighborhood girlfriends and a bad situation with a tagger. I can’t say I really liked this movie, or didn’t like it, but it did give me a very strong ‘feeling’.

When I see movies like this, they feel so familiar that I always feel like they’re portraying my life, in spite of the fact that: I grew up in Manhattan, in the 70s, and my ‘gang’ was primarily a bunch of arty kids at an arty private high school. There was nothing rough around the edges about that part of it, although the Upper West Side neighborhood at that time was extremely un-gentrified, nothing like the place it is today. I think I get this feeling because I did go to public school through fifth grade, and it was a little more rough around the edges, and there was one ‘incident’ where I was involved in threatening to beat up some other fifth-grader because she ‘slammed’ a friend of mine, which didn’t happen not just because our teacher heard about it and talked to me, but because – in no universe was I the kind of kid who would actually beat someone up. In any case, although it was a possibility that I might attend a public junior high, I went to private school the next year because my parents felt that school was too dangerous. So sometimes I think maybe if the cards had landed that way I’d have become a tough little street-hanging NY girl, except when I really think it through, I suspect I’d have come out more or less the same. Nina, true one and only BFF, was also slated to go to IS 44, and ended up at CGPS instead, so really, I think if we both had gone to IS 44 we’d have found each other and hid from the tough kids. I think when your parents are arty types it’s pretty unlikely that you’re going to be anything other than an arty type, no matter where you go to school.

And yet, I see movies like this and I think ‘That could have been me.’ Which isn’t even a bad thing. It’s just a thing that isn’t really true.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Our Baby's All Grown Up

Percy went to the dog beach today for the first time and actually went in the water! He hates baths, so we weren't expecing much and to call what he did swimming would be generous... but he loved loping around in the water, running free up and down the beach with other dogs. We are going to be spending a lot of time up there this summer.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ah, Google

So usually when I Google myself, I type in Elizabeth, but this is what I discovered yesterday when I typed in Betsy:

Who knew?

Percival Fontaine Barksdale Brandt

The problem with most pictures of Percy is that much of him is black, and that sometimes it's hard to get a good picture where you can actually see his face and also all the other colors of his (techicolor dream dog) coat. But here he is in my office, and on Ben's chair, for your doggy enjoyment.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Crane's Top Ten Favorite Movies Ever: Now with more Apatow!

Knocked Out, people. Laughs from beginning to end. Funny, real, sweet. Martin Starr is in it. That's all you should really need to know.

Monday, May 21, 2007

I’m Not Sure I’m Reading This Right... In Fact, I Must Be Reading it Wrong, Right? Because if I’m Reading it Right, The Ramifications Are Frightening

Okay, I just read this on Gawker and because of the wording and the weird Hillary Clinton parallel I’m a little confused, well that and the fact that this can’t possibly be true, right? Ben just heard me saying Oh-my-god and he said What is it and I said I think Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafuoco are hanging out again and he said Who are Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafuoco (god bless that someone, anyone, my husband missed that chapter of embarrassment for all mankind) and I said she’s the Long Island Lolita who was sixteen and dating this gross older man who was married with a family and also he was pimping her out and then she went and shot his wife in the face but she lived and Drew Barrymore played Amy in the tv movie and Amy Fisher went to jail but then got married and had kids and learned something and wrote a book and Joey stayed married for a long time but finally got divorced and then so did Amy Fisher and it seems like now they’re canoodling and there might be a reality show about it and Ben said, Oh. I’m sorry.

Did I get that wrong? Someone, please, tell me I got it wrong. Because if I didn’t, forget Britney and Paris and Lindsay and the environment, I know now for sure that the world is at end.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Hi anyone still reading – I have a new story online if you’re interested in checking it out.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Falling Down is My New Thing

Twice in the last month, I have fallen down hard in my apartment, not on my pillowy behind but forward and with little help from my hands. The first time, I was napping when the doorbell rang, and I ran from the bedroom through the kitchen, which is often blocked now by a dog gate that keeps our dog from eating anything he can reach in the kitchen (ranging from tuna steaks to empty popcorn boxes) which I often simply step over rather than open and move out of the way, because, you know, that might take up to a full minute. On this occasion, with my left leg already over the gate, I knocked the gate down with my right, landing on it on my shin, with, as I mentioned, no hands involved.

It hurt like a bitch, and I got a bruise from my knee almost to my ankle that’s still there.

This weekend, Ben and I were watching The Wire in bed, and I took a pause to go brush my teeth, but came in from the bathroom while I was still brushing my teeth because, you know, that takes a full minute or two, and it gets boring, so I went back into the bedroom to watch a little more Wire and on the way back to the bathroom, my stretched out pajama bottoms caught on the edge of the heater and rrrrrip and down I went again, this time landing on my left knee, thankfully with a little bit of left hand involved, the right, unfortunately, tied up with my toothbrush. The injury wasn’t quite as severe this time, but it still hurt, so I started laughing and moaning with my mouthful of foamy toothpaste, Ben comes over cracking up, and I’m pointing to my mouth so he brings me a cup to spit into before I get up.

There’s nothing to be learned here.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Get Yer Tickets Now

What Up, Friends and Family

Tickets are on sale now at the esteemed Steppenwolf for the world premiere of the theatrical adaptation of my book,
When The Messenger is Hot by Laura Eason.

Needless to say, I am floored that this is happening, and having seen a reading already I can say that Laura did an amazing job, and that it’s worth seeing! You don’t have to be part of the First Look experience if you don’t have the bucks or the time - you can get a ticket for just fifteen bucks!

I am told that the First Look series sells out quickly, so I want to be sure y’all that want to get in on it.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hey, Kids, Come Have a Look at My...

Okay, there were too many bizarro possibilites for titles here and rather than explain I decided to just let you go directly to the link, if you dare.

But I will say, when I was invited to participate, I initially thought I was being punk'd.

Vonnegut’s Asshole

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More Stuff That’s Going On

My cold almost went away, and then it came back.
My dog is asleep on the sofa with his head on the arm. Cuteness level elevated.
I’m doing a reading on Thursday from John McNally’s Loser Anthology.
Barnes and Noble Webster Place, Chicago
7:30 pm.

Something Wonderful

Hey Kids, check this out.
My favorite is the toot-a-loop.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Some Stuff That’s Going On

I have a terrible, terrible cold.
It is snowing on April 11th.
My dog is asleep on the sofa with his head on a pillow with his paws up by his face and the cuteness level is high.
Larry Birkhead is the father of Danielynn.
People still say racist, sexist things.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Check Your Local NPR Listings For My Selected Shorts Debut – Immediately!

Yaugh! I would have posted this sooner, but it seems I had the dates wrong. The Symphony Space site has it listed for the week of March 31 – April 6, but I’m getting word from folks that they’ve already heard it. Apparently this week, NPR’s Selected Shorts is airing my story “Football.” Since this program airs at dozens of different times around the country, you’ll have to poke aroundtheir site to find out what time it airs in your town. Strangely, it does not seem like it’s going to be aired in Chicago anytime soon... but, if this is the case in your city as well, I’m pretty sure you can also stream it online! I wish I could be more helpful than this and provide one tidy link but right now it’s all I’ve got so please take some time to look at your local listings online cuz I really happen to like this story a lot and I think you will too. Sorry this bulletin is so long.

New Stuff Elsewhere

Hi Y'all: Check out The Nervous Breakdown today for more stuff from me - now with pictures! Plus read Noria Jablonski's post as well, it's super funny.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I Have Some Questions I'd Like Answered

Why does everyone say relationships are so hard? Do you think relationships are hard?

If so, why?

If not, why not?

And: if I don't think relationships are hard, am I in denial?

Or: Am I asking the wrong question?

On The Weirdness of Plans

Hey kids! I have a new piece up on Writer’s Block Party, check it out.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Look What I Can Do!

I can add a picture from the web!

Fine, so you've all been doing this all along. Nobody said I was a fast learner. Ever.
This is a photo by the artist Loretta Lux who I've been loving for a while.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Me on Litpark!

Hey again! Check out the interview with me on litpark today. It’s got pictures too!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

My Nervous Breakdown Debut

Hey kids, I’ve been invited to contribute to The Nervous Breakdown, and my first post is up today. It’s got pictures and everything!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Loser Contest at Maud Newton

Maud Newton has posted proof of the qualificactions of the contributors of the Loser anthology on her site, in the form of photographic evidence. Match the author/loser to their name/excerpt and the winner takes a signed copy of the book plus a Dr. Who iron-on, and frankly, I’m not sure who wouldn’t want a chance at that. My senior yearbook photo is there, and I’m tempted to give a hint, but I’ll leave it to y’all to even the odds.
I feel so totally People Magazine Before They Were Stars!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Welcome Litpark Refugees

Ok, so I figure if you’re here, I’m not alone in my litpark-missing unsteadiness, and I’ll move right on to the question:
How is everyone getting along without a little litpark in their morning coffee?
Personally, I feel like – I have to have a little something internet-related to obsess about in the morning that doesn’t leave me feeling sucked into a vacuum of nothingness, which means if I’m not obsessively checking the comments section of litpark, it’s an hour of looking at gawker and myspace pages when I should have been, oh, I dunno, reading the fifteen stories I need to read before Wednesday.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Attention Writers (and readers)

Another one of my many new BFFs courtesy of myspace (Nina! SBFFI! Supreme BFF Infinity! Not to ever worry!) is a writer named Susan Henderson, the only woman I can think of who's got over a thousand myspace friends that I suspect she is actually friends with. (Much as I'd like to think I'm actually friends with Bill Murray, well, I'm not sure Bill Murray thinks so.) Sue is a real champ for writers and started a website called litpark where she interviews writers and artists, but also really promotes interesting, thoughtful discussions so you should check it out. She's interviewed me for the week of March 12, but you should just jump in now and stick around for a while.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Cover Your Knees

Here’s something I had forgotten about until yesterday. About – eleven years ago or so, I went on a trip to London and Paris with my stepmom and her sister, and my sister. It was a great time, tons of laughs, and frankly I think we’re long overdue for another girl trip. Anyway, it was about our first day or so in London, I know I was very very tired from jet lag, and we were on a bus and I was wearing ripped jeans, which I was fond of at the time definitely for reasons, I’m sure I had them then, these reasons, they may have been style-related, although that seems dubious now, so really, I can’t say for sure what these reasons were anymore. Nevertheless, these jeans prevented me and my family from entering Harrod’s, apparently if my reasons were style-based, Harrod’s and I did not see eye to eye in this regard. So we’re on a bus, leaving Harrod’s to go somewhere else, and this strange old lady sits down next to me, as I recall her own style choices were a bit of a mystery, I seem to remember layers and shrouds and possibly bags or other accoutrements, and this lady, in an almost entirely unplaceable accent except that it was very clearly not anywhere in Great Britain, puts her finger through the hole in my jeans onto my knee and says, in a strong, belivable tone, “You should have shaaaame!” (Voice rising on second half of shaaaame.) Followed by an ominous prophecy, “No man will marry you!” I nearly burst into tears on the spot. It seemed less an opinion than a curse, and I was tired and already had a preexisting condition of fearing that no man would marry me. In following years, I became less concerned about getting married and more concerned that no good man would come into my life at all, but as I said I’d forgotten this until yesterday. At which time I also remembered that I’ve been married for two years. So either the spell has been lifted, or I was never cursed in the first place. Or, I started wearing newer jeans. Of course. I should have known all along why Ben picked me. Because my knees were covered.

Monday, February 26, 2007


I keep forgetting to mention that I have essays in two different anthologies that are out now:
One is called ”When I Was A Loser” which is pretty self-explanatory and most of you shouldn’t be surprised that I was invited to contribute. Tod Goldberg is included in this anthology as well, and his piece is so hilarious it’s worth the price for that alone.
The other one is called ”The Show I’ll Never Forget”, a collection of essays by writers on memorable rock concerts. In my case, Thisbe Nissen graciously bowed out to let me write about the same subject she would have, my first Billy Joel concert, which, arguably, could be placed in either anthology.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I Officially and Unashamedly Love Justin Timberake

For anyone who didn’t see it repeated on SNL last night... please enjoy the musical stylings of Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg singing the classic love song: Dick in a Box...

My favorite line: “Every single holiday!” Besides the list:

One... cut a hole in a box...
Two... nah, I can’t spoil it.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Restaurants Should Not Have A Big Lighted Sign.

I just find this inherently suspect. Chain restaurants are one thing, but those fancy ones? That’s not right.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Hey, I have a story on this week called What Happens When the Mipods Leave Their Milieu. If you haven’t already checked out the site, it’s got serialized stories each week from some a pretty awesome variety of authors, and I’m psyched to be included!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Yo, New York People

So my story “Ad” from ALL THIS HEAVENLY GLORY is going to be read at Symphony Space next Wednesday the 14th, Valentine’s Day, if you don’t have a date or if you do! I read this story at a reading exactly one time, because it has only one period, at the end, and it was not at all easy to read, even for the author, plus parts of it are embarrassingly autobiographical to read oneself, and so all the way around, bringing in a professional actor was a very good idea, I think, and I’m pretty stoked about it. Plus, you know, it’s NPR and shit. Come if you can!
Selected Shorts

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I'm Wearing Two Pairs of Long Johns Indoors Today and I'm Not Hot

And we have a dog who likes to go outside frequently with no pairs of long johns.
I don't think much more needs to be said.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Part Where I Drive Away Anyone Who’s Still Reading This Blog

Originally uploaded by MrsBrandt.
Nine Reasons Why My Dog Is Awesome

1. His muzzle is soft and spotted. You have to kiss it all the time.
2. His eyes when he’s asleep are squinty and so cute like he has to work at sleeping.
3. He gives hugs.
4. His coat is like, six different colors. His top and spots are mostly black, his chest is white, other parts are gray, and several shades of brown show up in various places and various lights.
5. He has, as Ben says, a little bit of a hairdo. His head and ears are soft and downy, the rest of his coat is soft but a little more coarse, but along his backbone, it’s thick and wavy, and kind of looks like he styled it that way.
6. The tip of his black tail is white and fluffy like a very well used paintbrush.
7. When he sleeps, sometimes he curls up into a little ball with his tail under his chin.
8. Sometimes he sits up in Ben’s armchair and looks like a man.
9. He loves to play with other dogs, but sometimes in a group he gets cornered by the other dogs at the park – but he always breaks away and when he does he leaves them in the dust because he’s always the fastest dog in the park! He reminds me of this great story by Dave Eggers in the voice of a dog and the first line is like, Hooooooooo!!!! Hoooooooo!!!! I’m a fast dog!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Welcome to the Family!

Ben and I have a new housemate! We seem to finally have named him Percy, and he seems to be answering to it. Percy is a Catahoula Leopard Dog. Here are some photos of him on his Dogster (who knew, myspace for dogs) page from when he was named Rasputin. He’s a bit bigger now, but until we upload some new pix, this will give you a good idea of how pretty he is. He’s super sweet and chill. Originally, I told Ben I wanted a dog who would only make “this much” poop. (Picture me holding small imaginary handful of poop.) Percy’s poops are considerably larger. Ben’s not much into poop either, but now that he’s changed our nephew’s poopy diapers several times, he seems to have made the adjustment. After a walk the other day, I told Ben, “You know, with two bags and a glove, you can almost not feel the poop at all.” And he said, “It’s okay. I just left my hand.” I put that in there for the three of you who will think it’s as funny as I did.
And yes, I did just become that person.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dear Jessica Rhode From American Idol Season Six Who I Really Hope Will Google Herself So She Reads This Even Though Googling Yourself Isn’t Always a

I am so, so sorry about the way things went for you on your tryout in front of your former idol Jewel, who I hope is not your idol anymore. Listen, I am going to tell you what those people should have told you:
1) Whether or not Jewel thought you were good, she should have been flattered and told you so.
2) There are way better singer songwriters than Jewel, like Shawn Colvin and Patty Griffin and Jonatha Brooke and a million other people.
3) You have a fine voice. Ir probably wasn’t the best idea to sing Jewel’s song exactly like Jewel, in front of Jewel (you may not have known she’d be there?), nevertheless, you sang in tune and you’ve got a good enough ear to be able to imitate someone well, which is not easy to do.
4) So, with that in mind, what you need is lessons from someone who will teach you to sing like yourself and maybe even write songs.
5) Then go back and kick their asses in Season Seven and when they say “You’re going to Hollywood,” say to them, “Psych!” and get the hell out of there and go make your own music.

Monday, January 08, 2007

I Can’t Seem To Let Go

Yes, I am still alive and well. I am still aware of Britney and Kevin and Tom and Katie and who all else. I’d like to say I haven’t blogged because I have been so very, very, importantly busy, but there has been some obsessive holiday painting by numbers in among the important busyness. I just haven’t blogged much for a while, for this reason or that, but I haven’t been able to commit to not blogging, either.

What’s new is that we had a great holiday with every last member of our family in Iowa, we had a great (low-key, sushi-oriented) New Year’s with Hensley-type people here, and I got lots of awesome CDs for xmas among other things.

I have been wanting to mention this one thing, however, so as of today I am still a blogger.

There is a fucked-up game show that comes on channel 50 at noon that is so intolerable that I can’t stay tuned long enough to understand much of anything about it except that it is very bright and very shouty. I think it’s a game show. I’m not really sure. All I know is that I stop short of having seizures when I’m channel-surfing past it. If anyone out there has seen this program and cares to explain, have at it. Don’t try to defend it though. Shows of any kind that are too shouty lose me every time. Which includes all shows about lawyers. Turning down the volume doesn’t work. I know they’re shouting.