Saturday, February 28, 2009

Songs of My Misspent Youth: Suburbia

This so-called misspent youth of mine seems to dwell in 1987 quite a bit. Is it because that was the year I misspent the most? Hell no, it's because the music kicked ass! In early 1987, I listened to two radio stations more than any others: WLIR and WQHT. Back then QHT hadn't insulted any dead people and was called Hot 103, which looks very awkward so long after the flip where QHT became Hot 97 and the country station of the day moved up the dial to take over that frequency, but before that bizzare day were the days when one song dominated both of my favorite stations. Suburbia by Pet Shop Boys.

Oh, how I love Pet Shop Boys. They had the coolest glasses and I loved the whole brooding straight-faced no dancing around thing. Aside from just enjoying the hell out of their music, listening to their songs inspired all sorts of stories that I'm not going to get into now, but everyone was some variation of ass-kicking spy and I miss those days when I didn't bother fact-checking my fiction, I just wrote and wrote and it didn't matter if all my characters were around the same age and everyone ended up related, because when the 12" single of this song (Or Opportunities, or--pfft, anything they ever did) came on, all was right in the land of chaos. I guess you had to be there.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bring The Pokémon!

A few movie nights ago Mum pulls out this bag of seemingly harmless popcorn. Yet halfway into the movie I began to get sleepy and hear music in my head. Never mind that I was wearing my radio and it was totally late.


I woke up with numbers scribbled on my face in a clockwise fashion with a magic marker. Judging by the way my nose threw a shadow on the four, I was facing entirely the wrong direction.

...I know, I totally would have expected pudding to do this, right?


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Bronx Diet

It's a well-known fact that The Bronx rose up out of the oceans of time as farmland. The ancient first Americans--Aquehung to the girls in the park--knew how to eat, as evidenced by their inability to die of cholesterol. Only the bullets of mad canoeists such as Jonas Bronck and cowboys were able to halt the immortality of early Bronxites.

So I was thinking, why hasn't the ancient knowledge of the fruits of the Earth been passed down to the humans milling about now? Why indeed. I must end this.

Food is all around: Due to its vast farming history, the soil of The Bronx is rife with the seeds of food. If it grows out of the ground it will make you feel good when you eat it. It is a fact. The magical mushrooms which sprout from the mercury-laden soil is rich in poisonous hallucinogens, perfect for those unable to buy both food AND drugs. Keeps the kids quiet and turns any long-time spouse into something fresh and interesting!

A river runs through it: There is no lack of interesting things to drink in The Bronx! The flavorful waters of the coincidentally-named Bronx River are just water to be drunk. But if water rats have bred in is not your thing, there are Snapple dispensers on every corner, full of tasty delights. Spicy Hobo Urine can be found bottled in the tall grasses on special days of the week. Check with your neighbor if they've found any, don't let them hoard it all!

Soup's on: Dandelions are just dandy! The entire entity known as the humble dandelion can be eaten, and you will not only lose forty pounds of fluids but you will be unwilling to taste anything but the fiery bitterness of the dandelion leaf. Waiting for the cottony phase of the dandelion yields delightful candy for junior!

Something On The Side: Drug stores are within crawling distance of every pavement for quick veggie side dishes known as chips. Here the humble potato has already cut itself into handy mouth-sized slices of crunchiness after mating with the local favorite onion and mineral sour cream.

Looks good on your face, too: Dollar stores are treasure troves of friendly garnish. Natural crystals formations known as lipstick are delicious when sliced over a salad of dandelion greens and raw morchella esculenta!

Not all things found in The Bronx are edible. Some things, such as automobiles, were dropped by wild birds and should not be ingested. If found, police should also be abstained from on account of their high doughnut and caffeine content. Rainbow water, commonly found in parking lots and along garages, will give you shiny hair but you will most likely be dead of indigestion before noticing.

I hope these handy eating tips make 2009 a healthier year and teach you self-reliance in case you ever get off the bus at the wrong stop and need to survive on wits alone until rescued. Soon even you will be giving a big cheer to the delectable cuisine of The Bronx!

Staples of The Bronx Diet



Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscar, Oscar, Oscar

Must I chime in with my opinions on who should win an Oscar? No, but here goes anyway!

Of the supporting actress nominees, I've only seen Taraji P. Henson in Benjamin Button so I'm hoping she does well because I loved her and thought her character was one of the best in the whole movie.

If Heath Ledger does not win best supporting actor I will eat a selection of my hats.

Kate Winslet needs her Oscar. It's not fair they haven't given her one yet, and The Reader is frikkin' fantastic. Of course I love Angelina Jolie too, and Changeling was amazing, so that is the only substitute I will accept, but Angie's already got an Oscar, so I'm sticking with Winslet. I will blubber when she wins, because I've loved her since Sense And Sensibility and I think I've made my point.

I'm leaving best actor up to the fates because I get the feeling Mickey Rourke is going to win but I haven't seen The Wrestler so I don't know.

I haven't seen all the best picture nominees, but of the ones I've seen Slumdog Millionaire wins everything. Just because.

I'm torn on cinematography and editing because I thought all the nominees did well, and I'm not even touching best song this year because I ♥ Peter Gabriel but I also ♥ the songs from Slumdog Millionaire so...I guess I'm not picking too many of these, eh? Why wasn't the song from Australia nominated? Why wasn't the song from Bolt nominated, for that matter?

Bolt was the only animated film I saw of the nominees so therefore it must win and why wasn't Wanted up for visual effects or editing? It's up for sound, what was the sound doing all by itself? Whooshing through the air in an arc?

Oh no, I'm getting the Oscar headache already....


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Songs of My Misspent Youth: Lose Your Love

I first saw the video for Lose Your Love by Blancmange in early 1986 and it fascinated me. Okay, I was a kid, I giggled, aware that dudes throwing things and possessing twirling feet were maybe not fun to be around in real life but Blancmange made freaking out look so damn fun. The song stuck with me and of course I went on to find most Blancmange songs frikkin' rule, however it took some 15 years to meet up with another Blancmange fan and today is his my time zone anyway.

It's also my youngest cousin's birthday today, and although I doubt very much she'll be checking my blog out any time soon, this video was one her dad, her Zamma, and I watched over and over again way back before her name was even picked out. Mainly because I kept rewinding the tape and wouldn't let anyone leave my room until they'd fully appreciated the greatness of this video.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Have No Idea How I Feel About This

I know, I could have called my entire blog, "I have no idea how I feel about this," but today Adolfo Carrión Jr. was picked to be the director of Urban Policy for like, the entire country. He is currently President of the Bronx, which is why I'm even searching my feelings on this and finding that I'm totally unsure how I feel about this because I'm not sure what he's done for us.

Yankee Stadium 2.0 was a waste of money and the original one is still not a park, urban gays are still going to be as screwed as the teenagers who are only being taught abstinence, the water filtration plant we're being over billed for is already outdated and neighborhoods have no grocery stores but robberies are up. I had no idea cell phones were edible, BTW. I'm guessing the kids going around holding people up didn't really support the economy when they got those guns, either, because there aren't any jobs to pay them what a proper gun license costs. Seriously, there's only so far you can go on the good feeling of volunteering to help others for free, and then its gets cold and the heat has to be rationed and it's all just so stupid I have no idea how to fix any of it other than making everyone else leave and then I can run all the remaining two stores and get five damn cents to rub together so I don't die of crazy.

I guess it could have been worse, our governor could have been picked to have more power.

Or even worse, they could have picked me, and I'd be all, "Stop putting money into crap that can kill you, stop making new crap when there's perfectly good old crap, quit whining, and just fix what you already have because the human race somehow managed to survive this far, even through that whole time where they only had caves to live in and gazelles to eat, and even a hundred years ago you'd only be earning half a potato anyway," but with way more swear words. Wait, that's not my urban policy, that's what I tell myself before I get out bed.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

25 Things I Felt Like Sharing

I got tagged by Xodiaq, so here goes:

1 - I know there are things about me my friends don't know but I'll never put those things in a meme as I want to keep my friends.

2 - I have five separate circles of friends and wonder how they'd get along with each other if I introduced them.

3 - I have one hair on my cheek that keeps growing. It's the transparent sort of blonde of most facial hair so no one else notices it. I call it my beard.

4 - I have stood on the edge overlooking the oceans that sandwich this country I live in, but the water was completely untouched by me.

5 - I have found it's best not to stand on the roof in a windstorm or wear an antenna in a lightning storm.

6 - I made a usenet troll so angry by correcting his spelling he told me I was a worse person than Slobodan Milosevic and sentenced me to a mythical level of hell--in all caps.

7 - I have written scripts, novels, and short stories I'm not ashamed of.

8 - I carry mice to safety with my bare hands.

9 - I once rescued a butterfly from the jaws of death and for weeks after, I'd see it flying around my flowers with the two holes through its wing. New York butterflies are pretty tough.

10 - I've had dreams that warn me when someone I love is about to die, I've had dreams where my loved ones who have died come to see me to show me they're okay, since I was little I've had a recurring dream where I'm wandering in a ransacked shopping mall, but I also have chronic insomnia so a lot of the time I miss my dreams.

11 - I've seen every lunar and solar eclipse visible in my time zone since 1992 from my backyard with the exception of the April 1995 eclipse, which was completely clouded over all night. The first eclipse of 2000 started out clouded over on account of the snowstorm we were having but it was windy, so I sat there with my best friends at the time and waited. It was a pretty awesome eclipse.

12 - I save the WeatherPixie PNGs if she has a cat or dog with her. I started in 2002 and this year so far I've racked up over 1500 PNGs.

13 - I've been present at the deaths of three close friends, and never felt more like I needed to live on in their honor. I love to listen to stories about those who have gone before and have a tendency to ask spirits not to follow me into the bathroom.

14 - I enjoy weird YouTube videos so much I have to restrict myself to only watching them on the weekend or I'd get nothing done.

15 - I have wonky eyes and rarely appear to be looking at what I'm looking at. People on the Internet won't know this, but people in real life have mistaken me for blind, autistic, uninterested, rude, and stupid. It comes from having to live with metal in both eyes for 388 days as a child, and that experience also gave me the ability to not give a wet slap what people think of me and my wonky eyes.

16 - I love earrings. I had my ears pierced in a jewelry store that sold gold razor blade pendants by a woman who used the same pen to mark my ears and have customers sign things. 15 years ago I pierced my own ear to celebrate installing my first drive, giving me three places to stick earrings. I secretly enjoy confusing people who aren't sure if I've lost an earring.

17 - I relate everything to music. The radio/ folder are my tarot decks and everything can be explained in a song lyric. I don't know why I do this, I just do.

18 - I love figure skating so much I wanted to be a skater until I realized money and rinks were required. I stood next to Tai Babalonia and Randy Gardner for five minutes in 1980. They were really tall. I can name just about every Olympic figure skater for the past twenty-five years, to the point where I can explain the Gritshuk/Platov/Usova/Zhulin thing to people who have no idea what Ice Dancing even is, and I DON'T KNOW WHY.

19 - I have to keep my nails cut short. The feeling of having nails long enough that any white shows makes me want to punch things, and I don't know why.

20 - I am capable of playing five musical instruments yet I don't play them in public, and I don't know why.

21 - I've learned not to talk too much, write too much, eat too much, think too much or feel too much and I don't know why.

22 - I am allergic to everything, and I don't know why.

23 - I let people get away with saying the most ignorant, banal shite without so much as thinking of different ways I might like to punch them in the head, and I don't know why. But then I also say the most ignorant, banal shite when I'm tired, and I don't know why.

24 - I never pass up a chance to play with my cats and dog, I enjoy it more than anything because in that moment I know they want to be playing with me too.

25 - I have achieved such a state of inner peace I could leave right now and have no regrets, knowing I lived how I wanted and grateful to be with who I wanted. There's nothing I want that I don't already have.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Songs of My Misspent Youth: Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now

Who said my heart is a cold, hard lump of molten plastic? Oh right, me. But once, long ago (1987), I went to a Valentine's Day party. Oh, it was great, there was a strawberry soda spitting contest, and some kids snuck off to a closet--not me, mind you, no one knew me and I was taller than everyone anyway. Being taller than other kids didn't last long, but this was my favorite song back then, and it's one of those mushy '80s love songs so here's Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now by Starship, you know, the futuristic incarnation of Jefferson Airplane. I ♥ Grace Slick.

Happy Valentine's Day, you lucky people with a significant other!


Thursday, February 12, 2009


Life is strange.

Two weeks back, I was so frazzled that I decided to can the idea of making a weekly vlog and boom, just like that, I decided to put Groundhog Day to good use and give myself a break from that. Time gained.

Earlier in the week the weather was so lovely I finally got to put a load of those empty cardboard boxes I was lamenting throughout the vlogs in the recycling. Boom, just like that. Made me feel better and it looks better. Time well spent.

The Cat Who Made Me Love CatsToday marks 25 years since I found out we lost one of our cats. Not just any cat, mind you, wee Romeo pictured to the right was my childhood confidant and loverboy. He was born in 1968 to two rescued cats that my family originally thought were both girls, and in the '70s was rescued himself when there was a fire in our building and my Uncle Gene climbed the fire escape to sneak him and the other cats out, then in the '80s he became sort of a man about town when we moved here--but he always came home to me, even when there was a ball game going on up the street. He was a cat of quality, sweet and crazy, appreciative of flowers and moths, friendly to dogs and romancer of all other cats. He lived his nine lives to the fullest and I never thought I'd live twenty-five minutes without him much less a quarter of a century, but boom, just like that, I guess I did. Life is a bitch.

This coming weekend we're going to have a family get together/sleepover/movie night so tonight I was backing up files on my computer while I wasn't working. The weather's turned windy and disastrous but I was grateful nothing of ours was damaged. Every now and then I'd pop in to see how the backups were going, and boom, just like that, something was weird. Suddenly my computer gets hit with a downloader trojan from someplace, and I have no idea where, and no idea how it slipped past the anti-virus scanner. Was it always there and just picked Friday the 13th to go live? I'll never know. I know how to shut viruses down fast enough, but time suddenly got away from me. All my plans were being shot to hell. From the other room, Nan was telling me the news of a plane crash but my attention span had gone boom. People are dying in fires and without power and many things in the world are horrendous, but me...I'm just flipping out over m'stuff. It makes me feel narrow minded.

Looks like the as yet un-backed-up photos and writing are safe, but my post, as well as my computer and tomorrow's plans, done got hijacked. "Boom," was a running joke from back in the days of "Hey, let's see what happens if I delete this DLL," but it summed up the last minutes of this weird Thursday the 12th pretty well.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Am And Always Will Be His Spaghetti Head

My Uncle Gene took an order for Chinese food after the same person called the wrong number one too many times. He was cool that way.

You could ask him anything, and he'd tell you the answer, even if after about ten minutes you realized he was making it up as he went along. Like the time my mum called him to verify the weird old custom of burying a St. Joseph statue on the property of a house that has to be sold in a hurry. Bury it upside down in the north corner facing the house, Uncle Gene told first. There were about ninety steps to the process according to him, and I wish to god I had it on tape because it was hilarious.

He used to call our dog Josephine, he'd tell short guys they needed pedal blocks to drive, told me to warn him when I was out on the road so he could get indoors, used to hang out the window of his cab yelling, "SALAMI!" at Nan when he'd see her and would call Nan up to tell her if she was making chicken wings he'd take 48. He did, too.

We lost him a year and a day ago, and like my Poppy, you can't be sad talking about them because they had the greatest stories and you'd just see them and start to crack up because you knew that no matter what, they'd leave you happier than you ever knew you could be. I'm grateful to have had men like that in my life looking out for me, makes me feel like I ought to be doing great things in their honor, but then I couldn't do much better than being recognized as Gene's niece. Totally happened one time, I was in orbit for...just about twenty years so far. ^_^


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Songs of My Misspent Youth: Hard Habit To Break

To be honest--not only to myself but to all three of my readers--no time in my youth was more misspent that the time listening to breakup songs and dwelling on death. Seriously, this week's song by Chicago, Hard Habit To Break, was a contributing factor to the total and utter shutdown of my one and only feeling, because quite frankly no one could stand to be around me.

I'm not going to elaborate, because it's the weekend and I feel guilty bringing this one up, but I doubt death feels guilty about anything it does, so screw it, here's some more soul-bearing. Don't listen to this song, it'll only make you feel like a ten-year-old girl alone in her room listening to Top 40 radio at three in the morning. Or a sixteen-year-old alone in her room at seven in the morning. Or even a thirty-three-year old alone in her room some afternoon in 2008. It's all just too emo.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

What happens when a vlog sees its shadow.

We've had six weeks of vlogs, and now we'll have six weeks of no vlog! Yes, I have seen my shadow, and shall retreat into the snowy cave of er...clearing space off my drive so I can edit my epic Star Wars fan video I've been planning for years.

Seriously, it's a lot of me uploading and you downloading just to see me go, "Gosh, it's too cold to cut up my old boxes," and I've been busy in places I can't bring the camera and it's too noisy inside the house and I haven't got the balls to really go off in a vlog the way I do in writing anyway, plus my voice has been gone since Wednesday and this very morning The Puppy had candy! And we learned that The Puppy is one of those dogs that shouldn't have candy! EVER! She's fine now. I did not have to kill anyone over this, which is always good.

Vlog 7 will rise in March with the crocuses!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I Really Do Have A Sick Sense Of Humor. Just Like The Dude In That Depeche Mode Song.

A while back my buddy Wiggy brought what is now being called the atheist bus to my attention. I hate buses so much that I came up with a snarky comment and then very nearly forgot it as I went on my merry way.

But the Internet, b3ta in this case, being the glorious thing that it is, they've given me a way to make my silly comment a reality.

Made with the bus slogan generator
and a sick sense of humor.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Once More, With Feeling

Fire Piano by Little Baby ZorakThe other night Nan asked me if I could still play the piano. I said yes, although honestly I haven't been able to get near it since The Puppy's crate was erected in front of it three years ago. Of course I can still technically play the piano, anyone can. The difference is will it sound like Beethoven the composer or Beethoven the St. Bernard has been unleashed on it? I won't even lie, my furry children play more convincingly than I do.

Almost everyone in my family has played piano at one time or another, just not all at the same time. Nan is great at it, she'll improvise, she can pick out practically any song going, but for some reason she just doesn't go in there and play either. Life is weird that way.

Big surprise, I taught myself to play pop songs on my little Casio synth some 24 years ago. I got a few music books with stickers to remind you which key is which letter and what the note looks like. Because my memory was pathetic even then, I loved those stickers. I picked out Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2) one night and still have the paper with the notes scribbled on it tucked into a folder in the piano bench. It was fun, learning that way. I always had a thing for people you wouldn't think could play the piano sitting down and tearing into a sonata, like Jim in Taxi. Actually I think I just dug Jim from Taxi. Hell, who didn't?

The night before my first "real" piano lesson, I asked--quite innocently, I thought--if I would be learning any songs I knew. I didn't neccesarily mean pop songs, after all I was such a musical snob that I knew just about every classical piece Roger Williams had ever put to vinyl, and Fats Waller filled me in on the rest. I might as well have started spouting hate speech for all the good it did me. I never had much use for teachers and I know the fear that I was starting that shit again was arguing with the hope that I would be just a little bit stupider, and really just wanted to finish watching Daddy Long Legs, but the reply I got wasn't helpful in the least. On that note, I went to bed and the next hot July day learned all about the middle C. It was a good lesson, I aced it. My teacher said I'd be playing Carnegie Hall next week. I was a cynical child, having been slapped upside the head by the reality of living in my head for the past twelve years, and was filled with disdain at this little joke. Not only would I never play Carnegie Hall, I wouldn't even leave the house to go play a Janet Jackson song in Poe Park. Screw that.

My idea of current music was never the mainstream idea of current music. Like when I was in love with Jools Holland (check out Last Time Forever if you need an explanation) and Billy Joel, I was given Lionel Richie music sheets to learn. I couldn't stand Lionel Richie, man! I'm sorry, how can I "feel" anything when all I feel is hate?

And that's when it happened. See, there's this part of me I never talk about, the cold dead unfeeling part of me that feels nothing, ever, like EVER. No one else acknowledges it, why should I? 1986 was not the beginning of it, but it sure got noticed one Thanksgiving when the whole family was in town and I got sat down to give a little recital. I have no memory span as it is, and everyone was staring at me, and I couldn't even get through a two-note easy piano rendition of Hello without being asked what happened, like why did I suddenly suck out of the blue. It was like that movie Shine except I had no real talent beforehand. I spent a lot of the rest of the eighties in the bathroom.

Over the years that followed, I just went ahead and taught myself songs I actually gave a damn about. Chariots Of Fire was the one I was the most smug about, because it was in some freaky key the piano teacher never went over with me--actually he never went over interesting things like key signatures or theory with me, I had to get a book and teach that to myself--and I could pull the entire thing off, sometimes without making it sound like the runners were dying on the beach or being devoured by sharks that washed up in high tide. I stopped the lessons a few months before my Poppy died because there was some insane sarcasm going on whenever I would have to cancel a lesson because of his health or my own. "Something in your eye? Again? Oh, sure."

The optometrist who told me I had the focusing ability of an 80-year-old when I was 14 but didn't bother to, you know, use any dye or anything to check if something was in my eye told me I should never ever give up the piano, because apparently that's what people do, they give up and never go back, the fools. They couldn't possibly have a reason for not playing anymore. Like sudden explosive rage overtaking them when they know they should be able to read the music in front of them but the crap collecting around the things lodged in their cornea kinda blurs things out a little.

I learned more on my own using the books we'd gotten than I did having to prepare to go back every week and perform for someone who was really concerned with my total inability to count properly. My dog Pookie was my greatest audience, he'd hear me playing and bust through the door, jumping on the bed and nodding along like a beatnik while I repeated the same bars over and over again for hours just to be passable. I didn't play much after he died. Not the piano, anyway. I fool with the synth, because it has a headphone jack, and listening to Echoes gave me ideas for songs I might be able to pull off. I can play a Sting song called St. Agnes and The Burning Train and the theme to Amelié, for instance. Not many people I know recognize those songs. It shouldn't matter, but I just love hearing how my pathetic renditions of songs just don't sound as good as the original recordings by people who won't hang around long enough to jam with me. Never gets old, really.

I can't say I regret taking official piano lessons, they gave me some crazy stories, I met a good friend through them, Nan always made something great the night of my lesson, and the time driving to and from the lessons with my Poppy as he sang along with WNEW gave me some of the greatest memories in my head. I wish I had some way to record those trips, because his version of Ella Fitgerald's A-Tisket, A-Tasket was priceless. Pa could play the piano, I found out one day. He heard me doing not at all well with Chariots of Fire and sat down next to me and started picking songs out. It was a turning point, really. Even though I sucked, I saw that it was possible to still play even after years away from it. Of course my Poppy had music in him, and it was happy music. Me? I have dirges that make people feel uncomfortable.

Years later, or years ago, take your pick at this point, I was watching the episode of Battlestar Galactica where Starbuck goes home and we learn that her father was apparently Philip Glass. I nearly flipped my frakkin' lid. Metamorphosis?! I know that! I always dug Philip Glass because, you know, slow and minimal is what I'm best at. Now there was geekdom involved, other people would know the song! Well...other BSG fans. Maybe. Except that I never do play for anyone but myself these days.