Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

FREE Chinese Food!!!!

OK. Did I get everyone's attention?

Just a shout out to let you know that the delicious, nutritious, super enriched year-end edition of Carnival of the Vanities is out at Chicken Soup of the Damned. I love that title, don't you? If our blogs got married, our blogchild could be called Chicken Shithouse Rat Soup of the Damned. Yummy!

Anyway, lots of posts over there if you're interested. And visit Harshly Mellow for info on how to enter the next wacky, crazy, koo koo carnival yourself. (Harshly Mellow Shithouse Rat?)

Cleaning out the Shithouse

iPoop -Mock iPod Ad
Originally uploaded by kissthis.
Well, I guess there's a limit to how much you can really say about Chinese food, isn't there? So here's a few mental turds that have been floating and swirling around my May as well flush them out.

There's this new AOL commercial with a nerdy guy I think is really cool and (if I weren't taken) I'd even say is totally hot. Know the one I mean? He's an AOL pimp telling everyone about all the virus protection and features of the new AOL and a little guy speaks up for the whole skeptical group, firing questions off at him:

World domination?

On a similar note, I love those Geek Squad ads where the nerds descend from the sky and parachute down, rushing to a damsel in distress when her cry reverberates throughout the land after her computer crashes. (No, No. Nooooooooo!) I can only dream about what a wonderful world it would be if this really happened. At my office, our geek squad consisted of one disgruntled, bitter employee who played favorites. You had to kiss ass bigtime with this bitch if you wanted your e-mail account fixed or your hard drive replaced. That reminds me, I killed my hard drive once. It gave out a loud groan that lasted a few excruciating minutes and then...silence. I still have guilt about it to this day. Therapy hasn't helped.

There's this new Samsung commercial with a little goofy corporate newbie, fantasizing about how he's going to rise to the top with his little Samsung camcorder. First he shows his boss the pictures he took of the office Christmas party, where his boss was frolicking around with a lampshade on his head. He gets the corner office and a company Jaguar. Then he e-mails the Vice President and shows him pix of another party where the Vice President is grabbing someone's tits or something embarassing. He gets assigned to the Mediterranean account. Then he's on the company jet with the CEO who asks him to bring his camcorder to the next office party. Meanwhile, geek boy is trying to get a good crotch shot of the dishy flight attendant as she passes by.

This little wet behind the ears, young whippersnapper represents all that I think is wrong with our youth today. (Gets up on soapbox). Don't these young punks know that it takes years of backstabbing, lying, and cheating to rise to the top of your profession? You've got to pay your dues in this world. Sheesh.

You know when you go to your e-mail and see like 10 new messages and get all excited? Since I answer comments in batches, I hate it when I open up the mailbox and see they're all from me--since Blogger e-mails you back your own comments as well as everyone else's. Good morning, heartache!

You know when your boyfriend of seven years exhibits zero respect and sympathy for your blogging jones and constantly harangues you to to "turn off that stupid toy before I rip it out of the wall?"

Oh, sorry. That's just me and BG.

Bush has been doing a lot of damage control speeches, talking about how he will stay the course in Iraq. There was a shot of him at the podium during one of these apologias, and standing next to him was some weird lady in a bizarre hat. She looked like some crazy old woman who has 20 cats. Please, someone, tell me--who was that lady? Another misbegotten Supreme Court nominee?

You've head the hubbub about the pharmacists who are refusing to fill birth control prescriptions, right? All I can suggest is that when women have unwanted pregnancies because of this guy that they carry the baby to term and present the newborn to the pharmacist to raise. Let's see how long he squalks about the "sanctity of life" when he's involuntarily adopted all the squalling babies in the neighborhood.

Ahhh, that feels better.....

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

New York Story #3

fortune cookie
Originally uploaded by h.

Ever notice how many movies have the dramatic "pouring rain" scene? When the director really wants to give you the "climactic, emotionally charged moment," a good rainstorm is always in the offing.

To me, Chinese takeout/delivery has the same sort of semiotic significance, especially in New York films. When Woody Allen and the pubescent Mariel Hemingway snuggle apres sex watching old films on TV, they eat their Chinese in bed straight out of the carton. In the Godfather, as Michael Corleone prepares himself to dine with--and murder--police chief McCluskey and mob rival Solozzo over a plate of the best Italian veal in the city, the family waits for word of the location of the meeting while picking at the remnants of their meal from the Chinese food containers strewn all over the dining room table. To me, Chinese food delivery signals some level of informal yet significant intimacy. And with this city's world famous Chinatown and ubiquitious restaurants representing all the provinces and regions of China--from Szechuan to Hong Kong--Chinese food definitely spells New York to me.

In New York, one of the most reliable signposts of a prosperous neighborhood--meaning one with all the amenities you could ask for, and the prices to match--is the quality and variety of its restaurants, both eat-in and takeout. In my old ritzy Upper East Side neighborhood, you could step outside, walk down the block, and sample cuisines from all over the world. And as a matter of course, you could also get a vast variety of great food delivered straight to your door, In fact, there were so many takeout places slipping menus under the doors that some apartment vestibules posted signs that sternly admonished, "No menus."

When I moved to the Lower East Side from the Upper East Side of New York City about 15 years ago, I did so reluctantly. At the time the neighborhood was so under-the-radar unhip it didn't even seem to count as part of Manhattan. And the dearth of local restaurants was a culture shock as well. Some great places were within walking distance, but none of them delivered. If you wanted to get a pastrami on rye from Katz's--the famous deli on Houston Street where the "orgasm" scene from "When Harry Met Sally" was filmed--you had a 15 minute walk ahead of you. Chinatown was likewise a short stroll away, but it may as well have been a continent when you were jonesing for some good chow fun at 10 pm and wanted to stay in. So at the time, the only game in town were the really cheap storefront Chinese joints, where everything was gloppy and greasy.

Still and all, there's nothing quite like Chinese takeout--even the worst variety--when you're in a certain mood--say, lazy and hungry. For me, Chinese will always be the ultimate comfort delivery food. Wonton Soup is like a Chinese version of Matzoh ball soup, aka Jewish penecillin--and most places can at least make that without mishap. And if you've been partying and have the munchies, Chinese is really a perfect way to end the evening sans cooking and a sinkful of dishes to face the morning after.

Moreover, Chinese in New York is the great equalizer. Even the poorest family can usually afford to spring for it now and then, because it's still relatively cheap. As you get into the tonier zip codes, the offerings are of much higher quality and price, but nevertheless Chinese is a kind of universal New York birthright, available to all who seek it.

In any case, a number of years after gentrification finally took hold on the Lower East Side, the variety of restaurants--and with it, the takeout/delivery optons--became much more varied. You can now order in pizza, Indian food, Japanese, burgers, Vietnamese, and some great stuff direct from Chinatown.

In BG's working class Bronx 'hood, the Chinese restaurants are still of the lower grade variety. The joint we ordered from for quite a bit was so-so at best, but in the past year the quality had slipped even more seriously downhill. So last night I looked through a few of the other menus that get left under BG's door--most of which he throws away--and decided to try a new place.

I didn't expect much, but I was pleasantly surprised--even shocked--at the difference in quality. For one thing, the fried noodles that went with the soup and chow mein we ordered were packed in 2 inch square ZIP LOCK bags--an absolute first for me. Instead of fighting over two packets of hot sauce, we got a bagful of condiments. We ordered lots of fried stuff--always a precarious move when it comes to cut rate cuisine. But all of it--the fried wontons, chicken, egg rolls--were totally non-greasy and terrific. It wasn't the best I'd had by any means, but it was a definite cut above the usual for these parts.

I realized what this meant. Along with the other gradual signs of a neighborhood on the rise, the fact that the delivery options were getting slightly more classy meant that BG's neighborhood was becoming a bit more classy as well. Could luxury coop living and a Starbucks on every corner be far behind?

Well, yes, they could. But as I tell BG constantly, that day will surely come in due time. He doesn't believe me, but I've seen it happen before, in other New York areas that everyone had long written off as perpetual slums. In short, my theory is thus: If you want to chart the upward mobility and economic growth of a New York neighborhood, look first to its Chinese restaruant takeout menus.

I'll save the other signs of gentrification for another post, but all I can say is that the Chinese we had last night made me feel like I was getting in on the ground floor of yet another Chinese cultural revolution in another New York neighborhood. And I have to tell you, it didn't suck.

NOTE:: This is the third in an occasional series on life in New York City. For New York Story #1, click here. New York Story #2 can be found here.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A very Jewish Christmas

Scots Pine in the Snow.jpg
Originally uploaded by OpenEye.
BG and I have been totally lacksadaisical about every holiday this year. My birthday is July 4th, but instead of going into the city to see the Macy's Fourth of July fireworks spectacular, I fell asleep on the couch before they even showed it on TV. For BG's Halloween birthday, I had all sorts of ghoulish plans, but they all fell through because BG decided to just stay home and party. For Thanksgiving, instead of at least going to BG's local diner for a nice turkey dinner, BG made some instant mashed potatoes, cannned gravy, and canned cranberry sauce. The cranberry sauce had the little berries in it, which was a disappointment to me since I prefer the jellied kind.

Likewise, this Christmas looks to be the most aesetic we've had yet. We didn't put up BG's small fake tree this year, but instead went Zen by turning on the fake bonsai with fiber optic lights that BG's brother gave him last spring when BG's whole famiily got together. Although at the time I thought it was way tacky, it is actually quite beautiful, with different colored fiber optic lights slowly changing colors and flowing into each other. I think of it as a Zen Christmas tree--simple and elegant. If my camera's batteries worked, I would have tried to capture the "real" fake tree, but here is a real one instead. Awesome, no?

In any case, for some reason, last night on Christmas Eve I started to think about the connection between Christianity and Judaism--maybe because our little Zen bonsai looks more like a Chanukkah bush (lol)--if there really is such a thing. Not to mention the fact that my mother was Jewish, which makes me automatically one of the tribe by Jewish law. One caveat: I'm writing this off the top of my crazy head, so if any details are innacurate, feel free to chastize me if you care to.

From what I understand, Jesus was a learned Jew, and was likely referred to as a Rabbi in his day. In Judea, the Romans allowed the Jews to practice their faith and in essence govern themselves. In matters of civil and criminal law, the elders of the Temple prevailed above all. The emergence of Jesus was a threat to this authority, as well as an affront to their religious traditions and rituals.

Jesus was far from the first or last man claiming to be the Messiah, and I'm sure the elders saw him as just another false prophet. Although it may not be politically correct to say this, I have no trouble with the notion that the Jews rather than the Romans were ultimately responsible for killing Christ. However, it was his destiny to be betrayed by his own people, for he was the ultimate sacrificial lamb.

In the Jewish tradition of old, as in other ancient religions, offerings were made to the Lord, including animal sacrifices. The story of Abraham and Issac demonstrates how crucial this ritual was for the Jews, and how seriously they took any edict from a demanding God--even if it meant (potentially) sacrificing their own son, as God did Jesus.

There is an old saying, profound in its simplicity: "It's hard to be a Jew." The Jews have been persecuted since time immemorial. They were slaves in Egypt, and perpetually wandered the world trying to find a hospitable home. In modern times, the Holocaust and the rabid anti-Semitism of many Muslims proves that the most virulent and unreaoning hatred of the Jews is very much alive and well. Just as the Elders of the temple viewed Jesus as a dangerous blasphemer, mocking their traditions, so some gentiles still see Jews as an affront and a threat.

For me, Jesus was the ultimate Jew--he was persecuted and martyred, but by his own bretheren. More ironic still is that rather than follow his simple teachings during the centuries that followed, some Christians made it their mission to convert the Jews or kill them if they failed to comply. It is indeed ironic that some Christians forget the simple fact that Jesus was Jewish, and the sacrifice he endured was the logical culmination of what it meant and means to be a persecuted minority.

Although Chanukkah is now associated with Christmas, it is a relatively minor Jewish holdiay. Passover, however, is both a major Jewish holiday--a celebration of the Jews' escape from the bondage of their Egyptian captors--and a holiday with a vital connection to Christianity. It is more than notable that the Last Supper was, indeed, a Passover seder, which traditionally included a Pascal lamb as part of the feast.

If the Jews were the "chosen people," they were, I believe, chosen to suffer as part of the price for being so, because their God, like a demanding father, expected obedience and sacrifice from his most favored children. Jesus, to me, was the ultimate chosen one of the chosen people--God's only begotten son--and those who adhere to their Jewish beliefs continue to be maligned and persecuted to this very day, much as Jesus was centuries ago.

One of the most moving films I've even seen is the Last Temptation of Christ, which explored the notion of Christ as half-human and half-divine. Because of his humanity, he suffered as any man would suffer; experienced pain and doubt and fear. This is one reason his sacrifice is so meaningful, and why to me Christ represents the essence of what it means to be Jewish as well as Christian.

I'm writing this in the wee hours of Christmas morning. I doubt that too many of you will be surfing the Web today, but nevertheless I wanted to wish-- to all who celebrate it--a very merry Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2005

How to succeed in blogging without really trying!

Originally uploaded by dmc500hats.
Shit if I know. I just thought this title and the "hot button" Technorati tags below might help me generate a few extra hits. Heh heh.

Silly, you say? Well, there was actually a blogger who got a huge amount of hits simply because he wrote a "how not to blog" post as his very first entry. What cheek! But hey, whatever works, right?

Incidentally, adding all those TECHNORATI tag codes is a real bitch!

When you publish for the "mainstream" print media, all the toil is up front. It can take many years of sweat and struggle to seduce an editor into finding your prose print worthy. But once you do, you're home free. The New York Times has millions of readers, so you can just sit back and bask in the glory of your byline--until it's time for your next hair-raising deadline.

But for the typical blogger, getting your name "out there" is easy. It takes about 15 minutes to set up a Blogger account, and viola! Your words are published for all the blogosphere to see. But now, the quest for readers has just begun, and you're the one who has to make that happen. Unless you truly don't give a shit, but who are we kidding here? Why blog if you don't want anyone to read you?

Samuel Johnson once said: "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." Though newspapers typically pay poorly, I did earn a modest pittance for my freelance work in addition to writing for the Man. But my main goal was to write about things I was passionate about and get my name and ideas out there. After all, writers want to be read, just as painters want to be shown and musicians want to be heard.

For me, as for many, blogging is a labor of love, not money. Print publication pays some, but it doesn't give you a lot of reader feedback. Your audience is essentially invisible, anonymous, and mute. That's why I'm such a BLOG SLUT. I love giving and getting comments. I love the links and the interaction and the feedback and the conversation.

Although some bloggers actually make money doing this, and businesses can use blogs to help promote their product, I'd say most people are not expecting to make a killing off their blogs. But since Americans in particular are so deeply steeped in the cutthroat culture of capitalism, blogging has become a dead serious competitive sport-- even if you don't intend on making a dime off of it. Nonsense, you say? Let s/he among you who hast never checked your site meter several times daily cast the first stone. And, um, I also covet my neighbor's site meter. I'll always scroll down to the bottom of a blog to see how many hits you have. And I'm usually very very jealous.

But for me, hits in and of themselves can be pretty meaningless. I was never into casual encounters--I always prefer long-term relationships. So when I check out my referral stats, it's always with the fervent hope that even those disturbed individuals who seek "Elvira naked" or "crack whore confessions" or "inertia powered cracker" and click on my site will stop and read my blog, see the error of their lascivious ways, visit and comment early and often, and sin no more. Oh hell, what do I care--just gimme a hit, baby!

What really gets me excited--my version of cyber-porn, if you will--is any "how-to" website or post with tips on generating more web traffic and linkns and/or building a better blog.

In any case, anyone who wants some great insights into blog tech and methodology might give a look. Likewise, I'm a sucker for sites like The Blog Herald,Problogger,and Bloggers blog.And thank you, Elisa C of Worker Bees Blog, for your (semi) tongue in cheek post on how to manipulate blog traffic, which inspired, in good part, this craven post.

If there's one thing that can drive a stat-obsessed blogger crazy, it's when the technology you rely on to let you know how you're doin' turns on you--kinda like when Hal the computer went crazy in the movie 2001. Sites like Technorati, for example, rank you according to the quanity and "quality" (read: popularity) of the inbound links you've accrued (I think). So of course, now that I've graduated to using tags so that people searching for "kvetch" or "psychotic" or "excessive alcohol consumption" can find me more easily, I've discovered that Technorati is not reading all of them. Plus, I think they're out of touch with my total number of links. That makes me cry. Is it any wonder so many bloggers up and quit after a few months?

Along the same vein, the "quality" and quantity of sites that link back to you is one of the reasons Glenn Reynolds'Instapunditis currently the highest of the Higher Beings in the TTLB (The Truth Laid Bear) ecosystem. Just for...ahem..."fun," the other four top links in descending order of immortal fabulousness are: Michelle Malkin, Daily Kos, , Power Line, and Little Green Footballs.Incidentally, there has been much hair pulling and gnashing of teeth over the recent revamp of the TTLB ecosystem, which has devolved many bloggers to lower forms of life. I myself have fallen from roughly midpoint (an amphibian or something) to the equivalent of an obscure, extinct virus. Actually, last I checked, I wasn't even listed there at all. TTLB has killed me off, just like the buffalo!

Welp, I was gonna go on and insert some more links to hot sites, but my recent blog-paranoia is compelling me to cut this post mercifully short (which in my case, means roughly not as long as War and Peace).

Besides, all the experts say shorter is better.

PS: Two words: Boing Boing!

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Does the top post of the year have YOUR name on it?

While we're on the subject of hits, links, ranks, and all that rot:

Mr. Snitch! is doing a beautiful thing for the holiday season. He' s looking for the top 100 posts of the year, Mr. Snitch! style. So if you have a bitchin' post that is languishing in your archives, here's a chance to let it see the light of day once more-- with feeling.

As Mr. Snitch! so eloquently puts it:

"Now that the frenetic clamoring for blogosphere awards is about over, what were the year's best posts?

If your blog won an award this year, our sincere congratulations! But this post is not for you.

For everyone else: Even if most web awards weren't an exercise in driving traffic (compare traffic numbers with Wizbang's list of award winners, and you'll understand), they still don't direct us to the best posts of the year. Great posts happen independently of traffic stats. In fact, some bloggers are likely to create great (and unknown) posts precisely because they spend less time doing self-promotion and more time writing. Those are the posts we want to acknowledge."

The deadline for submissions is December 30th. See Mr. Snitch's post here for details and guidelines.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

It's nice to have a Guy in New York

Naked Cowboy in Times Square
Originally uploaded by Mister V.
Wouldn't you know it? What with all my fancy-schmancy talk about blog carnivals, I forgot to mention New York City's own Big Apple Blog Festival.This is, of course, a carnival primarily for New York City-related blogs.

This week, A Guy in New York, the founder (I think) of this fest, was the host. Since I was actually laying off my blog-whoring ways for a few days at least, imagine my surprise when I discovered that Guy had posted an unsolicited link to my latest "comment" rantwithout me having to shamelessly slut myself out with an e-mail alerting him to my post.

Anyway, this week's festival offers an embarassment of New York riches, including, of course, lots of kvetching, which is as automatic to New Yorkers as breathing. To get an idea of how New Yorkers deal with the space limitations of their apartments, check out this post by The Beliggerent Intellectual, who has to rearrange or even THROW OUT furniture in order to fit a Christmas tree into his closet-sized abode every year. Hey, who WOULDN'T want to subsist in an apartment smaller than a death-row cell--all for the privilege of living in the city? Yeah, people are lunatics here.

If you'd like to get a better idea of what a blog carnival is all about, or if you're a New York blogger looking for some shout-outs, you can find this week's fest here.

(Oh yeah-- this is the Naked Cowboy of Times Square, one of the city's most beloved folk heroes and tourist attractions.)

End of pimp-out. Please continue kvetching below.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Hit me with your best kvetch

Complaint Squircle
Originally uploaded by zizzybaloobah.
I'd like to invite you all to comment here on something that burns your ass. Bring me your whining, your complaining, your teeming resentments struggling to break free.

If enough of you bitch and moan long enough and loud enough, I may consider taking this to the next level and founding the first Carnival of the Kvetcherati.

For those not familiar with blog carnivals, these are (usually) weekly extravaganzas--generally hosted by different bloggers each time. Interested bloggers can sign up to host a particular carnival. Carnival of the Vanities is the oldest carnival, and can comprise any topic. The other blog carnivals have a specific theme. Bloggers e-mail their best post of the past week (or I suppose they can nominate someone else's--what the hell). The carnival host compiles these submissions, includes a brief description and a link for each one, and publishes the whole thing on the designated carnival day. Since the blog carnivals are publicized on various sites, one of the objectives is to (hopefully) generate more traffic for host and bloggers alike, and to give your best posts more exposure. And that's nothing to kvetch about!

A few of the existing blog carnivals are:
Carnival of Sexy Lingerie
Carnival of the Capitalists
Carnival of the Uncapitalists
Carnival of cats
Carnival of dogs
Carnival of the Clueless
Carnival of satire
Carnival of the mundane
Carnival of recipes
Carnival of Music

For a listing of all the blog carnivals, click here. For an example of a carnival post, click here.

So please feel free to unload here with shameless abandon. Thank you.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Insane in the brain???

To be filed under the "What was I thinking? Why wasn't I linking?" category:

The fabulous Mr Snitch! was nice enough to mention me recently in the same breath as two of the most DEPRESSED and NIHILISTIC bloggers known to mankind.

So what do I do? Do I mention this on my own site? Well, nooooo!

Bad blogslut! Bad, bad!

And heeeere's the link....

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Weirded out!

The Dark Side of the Spoon
Originally uploaded by viiny.
For some odd reason, Suzie of Assorted Babble fame has tagged me for a meme where you list five weird things about yourself. I have no idea why Suzie would think there is anything the least bit bizarre, peculiar, or off-kilter about me, but I'll give it a whirl.

Let me preface this by saying that if you REALLY want weird, check out Suzie's list, ok?

In addition to my bipolar disorder, I like to mix it up with a touch of the old obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)--just for a goof. This means that I waste a lot of precious time before leaving the house in a vain and pointless search for nonexistent smouldering cigarette butts. I also like to check the stove a dozen times in case I have somehow inadvertently turned the burners back on in some sort of spastic fugue state. And then there's the sinks, the sinks....check 'em for drips, and check 'em good, because when I'm at BG's he'd be pretty darn pissed if he came home to see the apartment floating away, post-tsunami style .

I don't think this has made it into the DSM yet, but I am developmentally challenged when it comes to cars. We didn't have one growing up, but when I went to college I fell in love with a creepy nogoodnik druggie whose parents had bought him a Datsun 280Z. Not that he ever took me for a ride in it (he just took me for a ride), but I had an idiotic fantasy of tooling around in a cool sports car to make him jealous.

On my summer break, I started taking lessons through the Automobile Club of America. I took a ton of them; spent lots of bucks; and got to know all about my driving instructor's thorny issues with his girlfriend. But city driving is probably not the best way to learn, and in any case, I just couldn't get the hang of it. Behind the wheel, I was simply dyslexic.

Ironically, the one thing I did well was that tricky parallel parking maneuver. But I was so nervous and lame during my road test that I totally missed a stop sign, which was an automatic failure--and so was I.

To this day, I'm so car-phobic that I can't even put on a seatbelt correctly. I wind up holding the loose buckle over my lap since I can't figure out how to sling the thing over my shoulder to get it closed. Good thing I'm a New Yorker--we get to tell ourselves that cars are more of a nuisance than they're worth anyway.

No blank piece of paper is safe with me around. I will defile it with my insane cryptic scrawl, which usually covers every square inch of white space. I have been filling up notebooks with the flotsam of my deranged mind since I was in college.

The contents of these notebooks are a combination of messy to do lists (see below), writing ideas, and inane musings on life. Even the CIA couldn't decipher them. Sometimes I can't make them out myself. But it makes me feel better to get the shit out of my head and down on paper.

Closely related to my general scribbling dysfunction is my list mania. In my office, I was one of those post-it addicts who somehow thought it would be efficient to attach sticky notes to every surface so I'd be able to tell what items on my mile-long to-do list were the most urgent. As a result, I had to peel off several layers of yellow notes from my computer screen every morning. This was in addition to the post-its stuck all over my desk, my calendar, my chair, and so on. It was mortifying to unwittingly walk into a meeting with reminders like "pork chops for dinner" or "prepare notes for meeting" stuck to my arms--or, occasionally, my ass.

This was a pathetic and futile attempt to counteract the fact that my regular to-do lists were out of control. It didn't matter what kind of datebook, day timer, or calendar I tried. If it was a one-page-per day planner, it would be crammed full of illegible scrawls. On my monthly calendar I tried to fit my daily list into a one inch square box and then prioritize the entries with highlighter. To this day, my most treasured possession is my pocket sized week at a glance book that looks like it belongs to Charles Manson. As if this isn't insane enough, I insert all sorts of dog-eared loose lists inside it, so it's bulging and falling apart. But writing lists lulls me into a false sense of accomplishment, even though two-thirds of the stuff never gets done.

I believe in astrology, and I think I really personify the sign of Cancer to a "t." Once Cancers grab hold of something in their little pincers, they just don't let go. For example, ahough I never bothered to get married and never had children, my first long term relationship lasted for twenty years. I worked at the same company for over two decades. I hate moving, and I don't understand people who constantly flee from apartment to apartment and city to city, causing me to sully my address book with big black X's every time they change their locale.

I have favorite shirts and shoes that I hang onto forever. When I wear them, I look like a Bowery bum, but the more worn-in they are, the more I love them. BG had an old flannel blanket that I nicknamed Quigley. It was worn thin and full of holes, but I loved to snuggle up on the couch with it. When he threw it away, I almost had to be taken to the rubber room.

OK--now I'm passing on the mantle of weirdness to five other blogpals. If you've already been there and done that, or just don't want to reveal your weirdness, or you're not weird enough for this exercise, let me know and I'll pick some other victims.

Here's my five tags:
Dan--Scenes from a Wasted Life
Martyn Clayton--The Shrine of Blind-Winger Jones/North Country Dispatches
Leslie--The Raw World
Jane--Jane Loves Tarzan

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Carnival of the Kvetcharati?

This week's Carnival of the Vanities is up at Multiple Mentality. In addition to my latest attempt to shamelessly pimp my blog by submitting my recent, I mean post...on John Lennon, this week you can also find a veritable shitload of links on a plethora of topics--all just a click away! Hoo-hah!

Procrastinator? Perhaps. Comment snob? Never!

Nothing like beating a dead horse here, but just wanted to let you know that I appreciate the comments left on Monday's post and will reply to them all, probably today. No, I doubt anyone is waiting breathlessly for this event. But I have to admit yet again that bloggers who never answer anyone's comments turn me off so much that I often never visit them again. Unless you're Boing Boing or another very heaviy visited blog, I feel insulted when bloggers assume that people's comments don't deserve to be acknoweged in some way, shape, or form--even if it's just a generic thank you or responding to a few comments just to let readers know you're alive. Comment whore, comment nazi--call me what you will. Just don't put me on your shit list!

Hey babe, take a walk on the paranoid side

you are under suveillance
Originally uploaded by found_drama.
In the past, I've suffered some horrifying bouts of depression with psychotic features, as they like to say in the psychiatric business. These involved, among other things, episodes of delusional paranoia. By delusional, of course, I mean they were unfounded; not supported by objective fact.

BG, likewise, sometimes suffers from this malady, and one of his various psychiatric labels over the years has been paranoid schizophrenia. In my opinion, some of these paranoid tendencies are ingrained in his personality, and passed down from a family traditon of seeing threats where none actually exist. For example, during the Nixon administration, BG's dad threw away any photos of BG with long hair. BG hadn't kept any as he moved from place to place, and now I'll never have the satisfaction of seeing what BG the hippie looked like back in the day.

The way I see it, one of the features of delusional paranoia is based on the erronious assumption that anyone gives enough of a shit about you to persecute you. Major mental illness can produce this effect, in part because in your psychosis you perceive things only from your own self-centered viewpont. I'm not talking here about garden-variety egotism, but a symptom that can bring untold distress to the sufferer.

However, as they say, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that someone isn't out to get you.

In my last post, I mentioned that I was having a bit of blogger's block. Though some of it was due to my habitual attempt to make my posts as coherent and succinct as possible, I think that finding out about Blogger's deletion of certain blogs without warning or explanation actually made me hesitate to post the piece at all. The fact that affected bloggers also found it difficult, if not impossible, to reach a real person at Blogger to try to get the situation straighened out distressed me even more. To make matters worse, on the evening in question I'd watched a TV program about the horrifyingly repressive North Korean regime that chilled me to the bone.

My potential post involved a tongue in cheek exploration of how bloggers try to generate more hits, or visits. I was going to discuss provocative technorati tags and linking to high traffic sites. But I put that aside in part because I realized that banned blogs may have been mistakenly labeled as splogs (spam blogs)--perhaps via some automated scanning software. I admit this is quite a stretch, but now I find that I am, for the first time, second guessing myself on my own blog.

In addition, I'd been coming across examples of internet censorship virtually from the moment I began blogging. The one characteristic that disturbed me the most was that websites could literally disappear overnight without a trace--much in the same way any individual seen as a threat to a repressive government can vanish in the night.

In conclusion, I don't know if I will post on blog censorship or not. I don't know if I will do my little sardonic post on tags and linkage or not.

Perhaps I am being ridiculous here, and you are free to mock me or tell me to up my meds. But the fact that I feel it necessary to think twice about posting on any topic is, perhaps, the most disturbing thing of all.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I'm pissed off, bummed out, and scared shitless--and I'm not gonna take this anymore!!!

desperate reworked
Originally uploaded by eir@si.
I'm having a bit of blogger's block. I've been struggling over my latest post, and I think it's time I put it aside for awhile and just rambled a bit about a few random things that are making me mad, sad, or just plain terrified.

I want to start some sort of mass movement protesting the abysmal state of cable in the world today. Even if you have the "gold package"--the one with every station known to man, including every movie channel in North America--there's still nothing on! How many times can you watch Dirty Dancing before you throw up?

On the rare occasions when there is a decent movie on, it's either:

a. Airing sometime between 3 and 5 am
b. Competing with several other good movies or shows at the same time.

So I say, let's band together and stop this travesty of a sham of a mockery.

There's quite a brouhaha this year over the political incorrectness of wishing someone Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays. In addition to all the play in the mainstream media, two juicy, heated examples of both sides of the debate can be found at Suzie'sand Mr. G'sblogs.

As a Jew/half Jew, I tend to think that at the very least, superstores such as Target and Walmart would do well to greet their customers with the generic Happy Holidays. Doing otherwise just seems like bad business to me. And I have been heavily leaning toward the position that although we are primarily a Christian country, we should not assume that everyone wants to celebrate Christmas or be bombarded with Christmas carols non stop. I don't think there's a left-wing conspiracy to abolish Christmas, and I do believe that the separation of church and state is very important.

However, it did occur to me today that it would be a sad state of affairs if Christmas was not celebrated in such a big way. We're not a Communist nation in which all religion is banned. And in many ways, Christmas is very secular and mainstream anyway. I'm fairly certain that many people celebrate all the bling of Christmas without necessarily setting foot in a church. Plus which, Santa has nothing to do with the birth of Christ. Speaking of which, stringing up Santa Claus on your lawn in protest of Christmas is just so wrong!

So now I'm all torn and confused. That's all I have to say.

I'm sure many of you have torn your hair out over blogger glitches and outages, but this post sent chills up my spine. It seems that Blogger has been deleting accounts without warning or explanation. As far as I can tell, the rationale seems to have something to do with link abuse and mistakenly deeming legitimate blogs as splogs (spam blogs). For a good scare--and I do mean a good one--read this post.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

John Lennon: New Yorker

John Lennon Memorial (2)
Originally uploaded by jamesfarnham.
I feel old today--well, older than usual. Why? Because this morning I realized that many of you are too young to remember the day John Lennon was assassinated, 25 years ago today--let alone the Beatlemania that, inadvertently, led up to it.

I won't try to be grandma Elvira here and attempt to describe the influence the Beatles had on modern music and culture. Suffice it to say that it was so profound that although Lennon, while still with the Beatles, made a controversial, albeit offhand remark about the group being bigger than Jesus, I happen to believe that this was, indeed, true. In other words, most teens and tweens were infinitely more galvanized by the Beatles in the 60s than by going to Sunday mass. The Beatles, in turn, were perpetually mobbed by rabid, screaming fans wherever they went. It was doubless impossible to live any kind of normal life this way, and the Beatles eventually stopped touring and retired to the studio to produce some of their greatest albums.

In 1971, after the Beatles had broken up, Lennon, with his wife Yoko Ono, moved to New York City, where he would live until his death in 1980. He adored it here, and told his biographer Ray Coleman that "New York is what Rome used to be."

New Yorkers pride themselves on not going all ga-ga when they spot a celebrity on the street. Most residents have seen their share, particularly since films and TV shows are constantly being produced here. One of the things Lennon loved about New York was that he felt free to roam the streets without being constantly hassled. He eagerly explored the city, and after his son Sean was born, he could be seen wheeling his stroller down the paths of Central Park.

BG often talks reverently about the time he met and "touched" John Lennon. In the seventies, BG worked at a hardware store on the Upper East Side, where he did encounter a number of celebs, including Andy Warhol, who used to purchase art supplies there.

One day Lennon wandered in and asked BG for change of a dollar. BG handed him the four quarters (thus "touching" Lennon). Lennon then asked if he knew where the nearest health food store was, and BG's colleague told him there was one right across the street. As he left, BG put up his fingers in a peace sign and said, "Take care, John!" Lennon gave him a peculiar look and left.

Another time, BG was in a West Side bar in the afternoon. The place was nearly empty, but seated at a nearby booth were Lennon and Elton John. Elton John's famous cover of Lennon's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" had recently come out, and BG recalls that the two played the song over and over on the jukebox and drunkenly sang along. BG, mindful of his status as a real New Yorker, never approached the two.

Though I never saw Lennon in the flesh, I remember a colleague of mine whose friend ran into Lennon and asked him the eternal, moronic question: "When are you getting back together with the Beatles?" Lennon replied, "When are you getting back together with your grammar school mates?" People who think of fame and fortune as the ultimate dream come true fail to realize that most celebrities have to put up with slavish sycophants who cannot relate to their idols as human beings, and actually think a star will be impressed with the revelation that a stranger "loves" their music/films/art.

In the fall of 1980, after spending a number of years in the role of "househusband" while raising his son Sean, Lennon went back into the studio with Yoko to record the album "Double Fantasy." The day of Lennon's death, Mark David Chapman approached him as he left his apartment in the Dakota building, requesting that he autograph his copy of the newly released album. Lennon obliged. When Lennon returned to the Dakota that night, Chapman, who had been lying in wait for him all day, fatally shot him.

When the news of Lennon's death was announced, hordes of fans began to gather in front of the Dakota. As I recall, this vigil went on for days and days. Although it was a touching tribute, I had no desire to join the people chanting and singing Beatles songs and lighting candles there and talking about "John" as if they'd known him personally. Certainly, it was a testament to how deeply Lennon had touched his generation. But somehow, the sight of the fans gathered there also brought to mind the darkly rabid devotion that led some disturbed individuals to obsess over a star to an unhealthy degree. After all, Lennon is far from the only celebrity who has been stalked and even killed by an off-kilter fan.

When fans of a celebrity identify so strongly with their idol that they see them as a demi-god and this idyllic image is subsequently shattered by the fact that they are merely human, the results can indeed be tragic. Chapman had been an avid fan of the Beatles and particularly of Lennon, but his admiration later turned to obsession and, eventually, resentment. Apparently, Lennon's new visibility fueled Chapman's insanity enough to compel him to travel to New York and stalk him.

Today, the Strawberry Fields memorial was packed with fans paying tribute to Lennon. The memorial consists of a garden in Central Park, directly across the street from the Dakota on the corner of West 72nd Street and Central Park West. The central part of the memorial is a circular mosaic (shown here). In the center is the single word "imagine"--which is, of course, the title of one of the most famous of Lennon's songs.

Once again, people gathered in tribute. Once again, I felt a slight twinge of uneasiness at the sight of tearful fans and aging ex-hippies strumming Beatles tunes on their guitars. Yes, it was certainly touching and appropriate, but a little part of me said to myself: Don't these people have a life? What would Lennon think of all this?

It is of course impossible to say what Lennon would be doing today if he were still alive. I like to imagine that he would still be living in New York, perhaps still making music, and probably protesting the Iraqi war as vehemently and outspokenly as he had once protested the war in Vietnam.

As things stand, Mark David Chapman lives on. His identity will forevermore be merged with Lennon's--which, I suppose, is what Chapman ultimately dreamed of.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Blog pimp or comment ho? You make the call!

the pimp
Originally uploaded by ugglan.
I guess I've been a little of both this week. Oy, I feel! But f*ck that noize--it's time to give it up for Denali Flavors, the host of this week's Carnival of the Vanities--a roundup of cool blog posts for the past week.

Along with my very own Confessions of a Comment Whore,you can find links to posts on menstruation; the Arab Hitler; gripy, whiny, pissy people; freeze-dried bull penises; nuclear terror; manipulating your blog traffic (oooh!); and much more. So drop by and share the love!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

With a name like Shithouse rat, it has to be good!

Originally uploaded by ImNotGaryColeman.
IT'S BIG! IT'S BOLD! IT WHITENS! IT BRIGHTENS! IT SLICES! IT DICES! It's the cyber-sensation that's sweeping the nation! It's hours of fun for the whole family! It's the amazing:


FOLKS, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT this revolutionary little tool. It's so easy to operate, even a child can do it! Here's how it works:

All you do is enter a word or phrase (like your name, the name of your blog, your favorite politician, or anything you like), and the Advertising Slogan Generator will generate incredible ad slogans for you in big bold headlines. Just press the "sloganize" button for a brand new slogan, oven fresh from the generator. Comes out perfect every time!

Created through the wonders of cyberspace technology, the Advertising Slogan Generator has so many uses. In your camper or R.V., it'll keep the kids amused for hours as they sloganize every dirty word they can think of! At work, enter your boss's name or company logo to see how many embarassing slogans you can create and e-mail to co-workeers! Great at parties too.

HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU ENDURED THIS? You're on a road trip, and the kids are getting restless. They're screaming and fighting, and you're about to have a psychotic break and drive into the nearest tree. But wait--it's Advertising Slogan Generator to the rescue! Just log on and the kids can have fun and be creative too! (Laptop with cross-country wireless capability not included). Instead of crawling up your ass, they'll be busy coming up with gems like these:

When it absolutely, positively has to be farting overnight.

Break me off a piece of that poop.

Poppin fresh boogers.

Now, isn't that amazing? But wait--there's more!

WANT TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR OUR FINE ADMINISTRATION IN ITS TIME OF NEED? The Advertising Slogan Generator makes it easy to come up with great bumperstickers like these:

A day without Dubya is like a day without sunshine.

Choosy mothers choose Cheney.

A "Scooter" Libby a day helps you work, rest, and play.

ATTENTION ALL BLOGGERS! Scraping the bottom of the idea barrel and need a quick and easy post? Then the Advertising Slogan Generator is for you. Or maybe you're just starting a blog and need a name that will really make the bloggerati sit up and take notice! Well, if you've got the time, we've got the Advertising Slogan Generator!

Let's say you're thinking of naming your new blog "Daily Musings." All fine and good, but how about putting a little spin on it? Well, make it an Advertising Slogan Generator night and come up with great blog titles or subtitles like these:

America's most trusted daily musings.

The incredible, edible daily musings.

Only the crumbliest, flakiest daily musings.

See? Instant bloggertizing!

HERE'S SOME OF THE SENSATIONAL SLOGANS I generated for my blog! No need to add anything--it's a whole post in itself!

It's not TV. It's Shithouse Rat.

Have Shithouse rat your way.

Ding dong! Shithouse rat calling!

Things go better with Shithouse rat.

Shithouse rat--Australian for beer.

All the Shithouse rat that's fit to print.

I can't believe it's not Shithouse rat!

It takes a tough man to make a tender Shithouse rat.

I liked the Shithouse rat so much, I bought the company!

Got Shithouse rat?

Reach out and touch Shithouse rat.

You've got questons, we've got Shithouse rat.

Snap! Crackle! Shithouse rat!

Shithouse rat, the other white meat.

Strong enough for a man, made for a Shithouse rat.

There's no wrong way to eat a Shithouse rat.

All you add is Shithouse rat.

Let your Shithouse rat do the walking.

NOW, PEOPLE COME UP TO ME EACH AND EVERY DAY and ask me: Elvira, how on earth did you discover this amazing little tool? Well, it's very simple. It's what I like to call the "six degrees of blog separation." Here's how it works:

The other day, I was visiting the SENSATIONAL Neil Kramer at Citizen of the Month. Neil had just begun a gig at the WORLD FAMOUS Blogebrity, where he was doing a post a day on personal storytelling bloggers--and his very first Blogebrity post featured the site Dealing in Subterfuges by the PHENOMENAL blogger Jordan Baker!

Whiile I was checking out Jordan via Neil via Blogebrity, I happened to scroll down and came across Jordan's post on the whole generator phenomenon.. Jordan in turn had found out about it from the SUPER-CALO-FRAGOLISTIC-EXPI-ALI-DOCIOUS Hughes for America site.. Just click on their sites to see the HILARIOUS slogans they came up with for their blogs!

Remember, the Advertising Slogan Generator is not available in any store! So act now! And remember: tell 'em Shithouse rat sent you!


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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Confessions of a comment whore

This is soooo awkward.

Today is Thursday (I think) and I'm just now answering comments from last Sunday's post. This happens a lot.

But really, does anyone remotely give a shit? (No, I'm not trolling for responses here.)

I hate to imply that anyone is going back and checking their comments here with bated breath for the "gems of wit and wisdom" (not) that are my replies. Even if this were remotely the case, I don't always check responses to my comments on other blogs anyway (or do I?) . Many times I forget I commented at all, I get so confused. But then I wind up going back to be sure.

Here's my general routine, BTW, which may begin to explain "my so-called life" and why I don't have a real one, as well as my commenting insecurities. (Neil: please see P.P. S. below).

Check my e-mail early and often throughout the day for comments to my latest post. (For some reason, I always log out and then have to do the password routine to get back in. I guess I like to work for it, and build up the suspense. Like a crack addict, I always want more and more, but don't feel like I've earned my reward without the password "ritual.")

Do miscellaneous blogging things, including trying to leave wise-ass, cynical comments on other people's blogs to prove I'm from New York.

Fall asleep on the couch around midnight watching "murder shows."

Wake up around 4 am with the TV blaring--courtesy of those late-night infomercials where they crank up the volume in the hopes of waking you up--or failing that, implanting a subliminal, irresistible urge to order a three-disc collection of the Sounds of the Seventies, or a set of 40 ginsu knives.

Turn the volume down, turn on Herman (my Mac). Make coffee and smoke endless cigs while I do bloggie things.

Inevitably discover that I am drained and exhausted by 7 am-ish.

Collapse on the couch.

Awake several hours later. If I'm at BG's, I am treated to the sweet melody of my beloved's voice--telling me to get the fuck up and keep my paws off that "stupid toy" (aka Herman).

Try to resist the urge to turn on Herman again.

Contemplate doing some "real-life" things, which would also involve leaving the apartment.

Feel guilty because I've gotten a late start again.

Feel depressed about my dilemma for twenty minutes; smoke five more cigarettes.

Turn on Herman again.

Rinse and repeat.

Anyway, I typically go back and answer older comments in the wee-ish hours when I'm in full possession of my "faculties" and do them all in one fell swoop. Isn't this fascinating? Oh yeah.

But anyway, I just wanted to note here that I am not a comment snob--I am a comment whore. On the other hand, some bloggers get so many comments that if they answered them all, they would never have time to blog or sleep or eat. I'm not in that category, but I do procrastinate. So anyway, thank you all for your feedback--I do appreciate it.

Well, would you look at the time. Seven am on the nose--time for my nappie. Later!

*PS--Yeah, I've used BG's "portrait" of me here before--so sue me. It was slim pickings over at Flickr.

**PPS--Adding to my general level of humiliation, I just realized that Neil (he of Citizen of the Month and Blogebrity fame, no less) did a list type thing just the other day on his blog. Ah well, if you're going to borrow, borrow from the master. And that voluminous comment section--don't get me started!

Technorati tags: blogging, comments, responses, Neil Kramer, Citizen of the Month, Blogebrity