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Mar. 23rd, 2009

Lesson is More

A unexpected side effect of my very first residency at the Experimental Television Center has been something of a lesson in humility. After five days spent in a warehouse filled with gadgets and possibly a bat, sharing a suite with no shower and an amazing view of the Susquehanna River with my collaborator and accomplice while we each worked around the clock manipulating images and sound, I'm left with this sense of sheer wonder and amazement at this great life of mine.

I'm aware that humility has not figured heavily into my daily practice for the last 30 years or so and the ten years I spent in Santa Cruz certainly taught me about the pitfalls of ironic self-perception. I'm sure to let all my humility temporarily fall the to floor the next time some once and future barback gives me stinkeye because I handed him the wrong Dane Cook movie. But until that Great American Tragedy presents itself to me again, I'm really and truly honored to have such great friends and collaborators, to be able to produce art and music, to finally have institutions begin to provide me support.

The fruits of my labors from this past week will begin to surface in short order. Most imminent are the finishing touches on Come On Let's Go: Let's Get Out Of Here Too and a totally new piece called Technicolor Yawn.

Feb. 25th, 2009

Jokebook

An oldie, but a goodie:

What do you get when you cross Ted Kaczynski, Monica Lewinsky and Igor Stravinsky?

A dynamite blowjob with strings!

This explains a lot.

It's just hit me: Stupidity is not natural.

Feb. 8th, 2009

Jonas Brothers? I Thought You Said Joyce Brothers!

For a little while there I was obsessing on the idea of getting a little monkey to help around the house. Just a little one, maybe one that isn't known for its vebosity. One that I could ask to go fetch my guitar strings or a copy of Ruth Gordon's memoir. It seemed like a good idea until I realized that if I were to have such a thing, I'd need it to wear a diaper and then I'd have to change that diaper.

If you've never seen Alison Anders' amazing film Grace of My Heart, consider bumping to the top of your queue soon. If you don't know who Alison Anders is, you need to get her amazing films on your radar right now. Gas, Food, Lodging and Mi Vida Loca are musts. Grace of My Heart is a sort of fantasia on Carole King's pre-Tapestry career, starring the incomparable Illeana Douglas. It's much more than a variation on a bio-pic, though, and it's more than a strong-woman-survives-the-boys-club cliche. I've always thought of this as among the best-crafted feminist fables, and I feel even more resolved in this reading of the film now that I've listened to Anders speak about the film on the commentary track. I already feel like I uncover new facets of the film every time I see it; Anders' commentary really made me fall back in love with her film. The music is amazing, and the cast is mind-blowing. Pick up the soundtrack, too; her films all have amazing soundtracks.

I just pulled a pie out of the oven, and now it is time to eat that pie.

Feb. 7th, 2009

Portrait Of the Artist As A Young Ham

When I moved into my current home, I re-registered to vote. I was sure I had done so, so sure that when I used the internet precinct-finder to find out where I needed to vote last November I was thinking something must be wrong. It was too late to re-register by that point, and it turns out that my old polling place was closer to my house than the new one anyway so why rock the boat? I could fix the error later.

Well, election day came and as I left the house to visit my trusty old polling place I picked up the mail to find a jury duty summons with my name on it. I have since served my duty as a juror in the most beautiful courtroom in Baltimore -- that's a story for another cocktail party -- and the inauguration reminded me that I needed to fix that voter registration issue, but this week I again popped open a surprise in my mailbox: my brand-new voter registration card.

Of course, I really have no idea how long ago I re-registered, but I'm pretty sure that I had filled out that form in 2007.

In other news of shit that doesn't work, my Zonealarm firewall turned into a sea sponge the other night, making me suddenly lose an entire evening of productivity. I can't wait to get back to using a Mac.

Do your ears ever itch? I don't know why my ears always itch, but they do. I wish they made q-tips out of sandpaper or maybe with little spikes. That would bring me a little closer to heaven.

Speaking of which -- witness and testify: Barack Obama, reading his own memoir and quoting his foulmouthed young buddy.

Ye Olde Website is coming close to ready to re-launch within the next week or so. It's actually not as drastic a revision as I thought it would need to be, and it's going to be a more versatile and ultimately simple site to manage. I should quit blogging and get back to putting it all together.

Did you hear about how Iceland is now run by a lesbian?

Jan. 30th, 2009

The My 25 No-Longer-Little-Known Facts About Me Meme

1. Kristen wrote the first draft of this "25 things" list, and this list is so much better for it.

2. One morning I walked to school carrying several cases of Ensure to win a canned food drive contest. This was years before Ensure made television commercials and the food drive contest "officials" refused to count Ensure as foodstuff. Now I think about those morons every time I see an Ensure commercial.

3. Despite the amount of macaroni & cheese I eat, I am a food snob. I am particularly picky about donuts and burritos.

4. After being put to the true-life test, it turns out that my "desert island books" are The Portable Nietzsche, The Portable Dorothy Parker, and Gore Vidal's Hollywood.

5. I moved to Baltimore on a whim and flew on a plane here with pot in my bra and a coke razor in my wallet. The razor was an accident. I also carried my cat with me on that flight; she peed on me twice and I didn't tell the flight attendant.

6. One night I discovered, after the power went out, that the 24-hour diner where I graveyard waitressed had no lock on the front door. So me and my favorite cook, Ramon, sent the dishwasher home and we sat in the dark drinking Heinekens and talking about music. He was really into Chris Deburgh for some reason; later on I made him copies of some old Chris Deburgh tapes. I really should have just given him the originals.

7. If I have a superpower, it's proofreading. Try me.

8. When I was a teenager, I recorded devil music like Prince, the Violent Femmes and Queen over Mormon motivational tapes; less because I wanted to disguise the music from the scrutiny of the parents and more because the tape quality was so much better than the shitty dollar-store cassettes I could afford to buy.

9. When I first started getting a little money of my own I started buying flavor extracts and food coloring so I could bake concoctions like green root-beer-flavored sugar cookies. I told Kristen about this and she won't let me cook.

10. My name is purportedly carved into a barrel in the Maker's Mark distillery.

11. I've basically been a vegetarian since the late 80's, with an occasional vacation into pastrami land.

12. There is video of me portraying JonBenet Ramsey, putting a dog collar on The Pope and then riding him like a pony while "Closer To God" plays.

13. My first album is available for download through WalMart. Also, for a little while some bootleggers were listed on Amazon as selling cds of my first album for over $100. If I'd had the money to burn I would have bought one just to see what they'd send.

14. I am pretty klutzy, and a lot of my falls have been hilarious. Once at work I dropped to the floor from a standing-still position. Another time I went sprawling in the middle of St. Paul St. as oncoming traffic approached. The only time I've come close to breaking a bone was when I cracked my rib(s?) in Mexico after demasiado tequila. Which is why it's no-mas-iado tequila for me now.

15. For a brief time I shared a 400-square-foot studio apartment with two other people. I'm still friends with both of them.

16. The first time I went out in public dressed as a girl was during high school, under the protective veneer of one of those school-spirit dress-up days. Surprisingly, my costume was met with indifference. The first teacher to see me didn't even register that I was wearing a skirt and makeup until the class was over.

17. One of my roommates played the evil elf in A Christmas Story. He was a small-potatoes con man who vanished owing me a couple thousand dollars. I can't watch A Christmas Story anymore, which is fine because I could do without Christmas.

18. The first internet name that stuck for me was "xantippe." At the time, I worried that I had overreached, and that I might never live up to that name.

19. The only thing of value I did in college was the complete bibliography of Dorothy Parker, which I later turned into a website. Several academic libraries link directly to that site still today. In the early days of that site I would frequently receive homework-help email requests, and there were an unsettling number of lazy students who seemed to think that they were mailing Dottie herself. I finally responded to one such student, imitating her voice as best I could. I revealed to this innovative young scholar a number of fantastic inaccuracies in Dorothy's published biography, including the fact that she was not legitimately born in West End, NJ but out-of-wedlock in the bathroom of Obrycki's Restaurant in Baltimore.

20. My Roland Barthes tattoo bears an unintentional similarity to one of Bjork's tattoos.

21. I was the president of the board of directors of the Santa Cruz Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgendered Community Center for two years. I was completely unqualified for the job; you might think that experience would have given me a moment of compassion for George Bush but you'd be wrong. I can still say "SCLGBTCC" very quickly and sometimes I wonder, who was the first transgender gay community center board president in the USA?

22. I was forced to keep a diary at school during first and second grade. It's readily apparent from those entries that I already had a good handle on both irony and sarcasm as well as a healthy disrespect for authority and busywork.

23. I lost respect for the Red Hot Chili Peppers when they sued the television show "Californication." The Chili Peppers' album "Californication" came out in 1999, but in 1987 my facebook friend Sammy Buck and I would go to football rallies and sing the USC fight song backwards. Then, when the crowd would chant "S-o-u-t-h-e-r-n C-a-l-i-f-o-r-n-i-a" and we'd yell "S-o-u-t-h-e-r-n C-a-l-i-f-o-r-n-i-c-a-t-i-o-n," and although we thought we were pretty inventive surely we couldn't have been the first. Anyway, I double-dog-challenge Anthony Kiedis to a spell-off right now.

24. I once smoked out with the mayor in a hot tub. Not Baltimore's mayor, unfortunately.

25. I am hooked on Kristen Anchor. I am one lucky lucky lucky lady.

Jan. 28th, 2009

Passports of the Christ

So the Livejournal Migration Made Easy is a little more difficult than I would have thought; still trying to get my ducks in a row as regards the new blog. More development on those areas later this week.

I've booked a whole bunch of gigs for February --- Kristen and I reprise Facts About Cats at the Shattered Wig Feb. 20th. On the 21st I'm at the 510 at Minas early in evening, and later in the night the Degenerettes are playing at the Transmodern Fundraiser at the H&H. The following week, my movie "Let's Get Out Of Here" is screening at a two-day-long conference in LA; it's gonna be on a loop (along with several other films) in the lobby of the hotel which is hosting the convention! And finally, I'm going to participate in a fundraiser on Feb 27 at Frazier's -- another literary sort of event. Quite a February for the City That Reads!

Did you hear the one about the guy who finally got all his ducts in a row? His roof caved in!

Jan. 26th, 2009

Cat On My Lap

It's nice to have a cat who likes to sit in your lap, but only occasionally. I don't have a lot of time for a cat to sit in my lap and Mary is absolutey self-determined in her lap sitting, which means that she will never sit in my lap when I feel like she should. There are rare times when I can make the time for her to sit when she wants to. So these times are nice. I have to get my notebook shortly, which means standing and thus the end of this cozy moment.

It seems odd not to address the events as they pass, but I also don't really like recapping when I've got another thing to move on to. The Kitty Club this past weekend was phenomenal -- another sell-out crowd, another amazing cavalcade of talent; and I've got a hunch the next show is going to be a real return to form.

And now, a movie review.

Lakeview Terrace is a truly harrowing spectacle that could only have been properly done in a collaboration between Neil LaBute and Samuel L.Jackson. It's a good-neighbors, good-fences thriller saturated in waters poisoned by despicable men behaving despicably. Being that this is a LaBute suspense thriller with roots in the all-too-real world, it's obvious from the beginning that it's not going to end well; it's merely a question of how badly things will end. Jackson is ferocious in this role; he's Pulp Fiction's Jules without the search for conscience. It's a hand-grenade sort of film, and regardless of what you make of the ending (or the all-too-obvious biblical connections), there is a lot to look gawk at here -- particularly when it comes to the myriad tragedies brought about by violent conflict resolution.

Which reminds me -- while watching Look Back In Anger these terribly quotable lines startled me:

Jimmy Porter: Nigel and Alison, they're what they sound like, sycophantic, phlegmatic and pusillanimous.
Cliff Lewis: Big words.
Jimmy Porter: Shall I tell you what they mean?
Jimmy Porter: No not interested, don't want to know.
Jimmy Porter: Soapy, stodgy and dim.

What struck me about this is that it seems these days, if one desires to insult someone in the popular vernacular, it's not typically done with adjectives. Instead, insults tend to be delivered via nouns, and it seems to me that noun insults seem intended to be permanent demarcations, while adjectival insults seem (at least potentially) temporary. I am beginning to desire some sort of Geneva convention for the slander set, an international insult pact to return to the use of adjectives. I'm thinking that if I dismiss someone as an asshole or a douchebag or a tool, he's doomed. He should take a long walk off a short pier. He should dive into the old bomb shelter and bite the cyanide caplet. If I don't qualify the dismissal, he may never know what it is that makes him such a tool. I, for that matter, may never know what it is that makes him a tool. He'll never change, and I'll always be angry about it; this is permanance, and if there's one thing more boring than eternity, it's permanence.

Most tools may have doomed themselves to said failures, perhaps because they are insufferable, over-opinionated, violent, greedy, vapid, arrogant, envious, deceitful and/or desperate. It seems to me that if I were a tool, I'd at least like to be certain of the kind of tool I was, as a point of pride if not one of concern. These are not good times to inscriminately throw curses around -- have you read Medea lately? There is still a lot of poison in the atmosphere and it might yet be found that vitriolic opinion is an unexamined greenhouse gas.

And with the arrival of the gas, there goes that darn cat off my lap.

Jan. 21st, 2009

In The Mean Time

While we await for the new blog to assume its rightful position, I'll keep notioning here. But look at this, posted just in time for me, me, me: Wordpress says LiveJournal Migration Made Easy. It's like they really get me. Like they're psychic, maybe, or they're totally in love with me. Which they should be.

I've been getting some nice press lately: first there was Defekto's great profile which ran in Out Loud, and then today I got a note from postcard biographer Michael Kimball that he'd completed his postcard biography of me. He's a great writer, both in the sense of being a skilled wordsmith and in the sense of being able to carefully write all those words onto one tiny postcard without so much as a dab of Liquid Paper. I'm still trying to figure out how to frame the postcard.

Sooo many songwriters deserve a website like Joni Mitchell's. Few are so lucky; this is one of the best employments of web technologies I've ever seen -- artful & deeply informative.

I've started recording demos for my next solo record; I'm trying to figure out how I want the record to sound. It certainly needs to have more coherence than Blonde On A Bum Trip, but fortunately I set that bar pretty darn low.

I've been saturating myself with music lately, particularly live performances obtained from the internet. It feels good; I'm coming to some very old and familiar music with an entirely new understanding. It's odd to be able to hear old sets by Linda Ronstadt and U2, for instance, with what feel to be new ears. This is but one great example of the burdens I'm currently in the midst of unloading; who knows -- this could lead to me not paying attention to the news for a couple of days. How nice would that be?

Out With The Old; Out In The Cold

This blog's gonna morph shortly. After wallowing in something of a blog identity crisis, I've decided to launch a successor. I'm heading to Wordpress to get familiar with their interface; I'm particularly attracted to its versatility.

I'll be working on this switchover for at least another couple of weeks, and I'm expecting to cross-post between the blogs. I'll probably keep this account going for the foreseeable future, but I think my posting directly to LiveJournal will necessarily grind to a halt in short order.

I'm very excited about this decision. Today, http://privatelazinesses.wordpress.com/ is born!

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