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.