Friday, December 17, 2010

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through."
Ira Glass

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Helpful advice!

I am writing this because I care about you. Because you seem like a nice person, and I don't want you to get hurt.

You see, there's been talk. 

Talk about you.

Talk about you and your... announcements. 

Lloyd Christmas can't stand the sound of your voice.

Paging people over a loudspeaker is uncomfortable and kind of embarrassing, but it's part of your job. Throughout your day you may have to alert what seems like hundreds of people that there's a call for them on line one. That sucks. I know it sucks because I've had that job. But you know what else sucks? Is hearing someone make the same announcement what seems like hundreds of times a day with the same phrasing, at the same volume, with the same cadence every single time. It is, in fact, maddening, and will cause otherwise pleasant people to have homicidal ideations starring you and a hot rotisserie poker.

I know you're just doing your job. I know you don't really want to scold people about the patient customer with the salami question. But at a certain point no one actually hears what you're saying because it just sounds like this: 

All I'm saying is, spice it up a little bit. Maybe try some new inflections. Use a silly accent, or pretend you are wearing a hat. What would someone who wears a hat sound like? If you want to follow this Jim Carrey thread, maybe pretend it's your butthole making the announcement. Wouldn't that be fun? I'll bet you'd be less likely to get a baguette beat-down the next time you have to page the bakery six times in a row. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hey, Kentucky: There's already a Theme Park called Noah's Ark. It's in the Wisconsin Dells and I got stuck on a bumper boat there.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Donald Duck vs. Huey, Dewey & Louie in a Snowball War

I was always so disappointed when I couldn't sculpt the snow the way they do.

I don't "get" these panties.

But I am subjected to them every time I find an excuse to trot down to Union Square and stare at the puppies and kitties in the window of Macy's. 

Victoria's Secret, do the tushy embellishments indicate that, this holiday, you're going to let him putt it in your butt?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This will change your life

If you work in the service industry and expend every ounce of willpower not throttling idiot customers, you may find it difficult to clock out and concentrate on your creative side projects. It has been proven (with science) that when you are forced to be nice and accommodating to assholes all day, you are less likely to have patience with the people you actually love when you get home. I think I find myself in a similar situation when I am trying to write after work. I'm tired, and my willpower is depleted, and it is a lot easier to scroll through facebook or stare at the fat, slightly perturbed furry creatures on than push myself to do something that is uncomfortable and, well, more work.
FREEDOM isn't free. (It costs $10.)
Lucky for me and anyone else with procrastination issues, there's a program called FREEDOM! It will lock you out of the internet for a predetermined amount of time and you will be free to use your computer without the temptation of the internet! Some people don't need a little dodad to be productive, and I hate them. For those of us who need a little extra help: LET FREEDOM RING!!!!!*


Sunday, November 14, 2010


Harold and Maude

Shoot the Piano Player

Bed and Board
Dans Paris


From Carla

Saturday, November 13, 2010


A friend linked to this video for Ariel Pink's "Round and Round" and I am obsessed. It's perfect. No, I mean, it's Perfect, the movie about aerobics! I don't know if an "official" video exists, but this is the official video "in my heart." I'm trying to think of more "jokes" to write in this "post" but I think I'm going to go to the gym and try to achieve Jamie Lee Curts' mantis physique.

But I think we all know I'm gonna look like this: 


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Woah! The new RadioLab has a segment on Centralia, Pennsylvania, the real life Silent Hill. A fire has been burning in the mines beneath the city for forty years! This boy fell through the ground into a little slice of hell, prompting all but about a dozen residents to abandon the city.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mighty Good

The good thing about getting in on something late--like, say, a television program long after the final show has aired--is you get to borrow the DVD box-set and watch every single episode right away! No weekly wait for the next show, no months (or in the case of, say, The Sopranos, YEEEEEARS) between seasons. But then... it's over. Over forever. A weekend swollen with joy is deflated like a woman in stilettos stomping all around your bouncy castle. It is an outrage. 

I was recently introduced to The Mighty Boosh, a British comedy show that is really unlike anything else. I was excited when Mark brought it home, because I thought Matt Berry was in it, then I lost interest when I thought Matt Berry wasn't in it, and then discovered that Matt Berry is, in fact, in it! Whew! But what I found was Matt Berry is only a teeny tiny part of what makes this show so amazing. The two main blokes behind The Boosh, Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt, are SO funny their hilarity cannot be contained by their characters Vince Noir and Howard TJ Moon. No, it busts out all over the place as they appear as a menagerie* of minor characters, from a pink, octopus-like shaman to the Crack Fox, who lives in garbage and has syringes for fingers. I can't think of another show outside of sketch comedy that allows its actors to reappear in minor roles. It works brilliantly and demonstrates their talent without seeming too cocky. 

The thing is, I can't quite figure out who is watching it. It's been described as a cult favorite, it's won awards in the UK and they've gone on tours in Europe and in the US. It seems very well-known in England, what with the accolades and Fielding appearing in the tabloids and whatnot, but it's the US I can't figure out. If they can support a tour over here, and there's enough of a market for a box set release, they must be popular. So, why haven't I heard of it until now? Have I not been paying attention? Why, if people here are familiar with The Mighty Boosh, are they not forcing it upon every single person they meet? Don't you want to share the laughter? The brilliance? Don't you want to crimp with your friends? WELL, DON'T YOU? 

If you are not already a fan, get your hands on the DVDs. I get at least one big laugh out of every episode, usually a lot more. And once you've gorged yourself on all three seasons, and you're crying big, glittery tears because you want more but you can't have anymore, take heart! There is a movie in the works! And, to keep you from getting the shakes until then, you can download the original radio show on iTunes! 

*This is a good joke because they are zoo keepers. 

(Note: I realize I skimped on actual plot information and the like, but I just want you to be surprised by everything!)

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Well, it's Halloween time, and maybe you are looking for something scary to watch, something you haven't seen on AMC 6 thousand times with the bloody bits cut out and the foul words dubbed with phrases that sound similar but don't make any sense. Yes, we all love Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street  and Leprechaun 4: Lep In Space. But how about something new? Something a little more cerebral? A slow burn that is more disturbing than Warwick Davis popping out of that spaceman's wiener? 

"The Vanishing," George Sluzer. 1988.

Obviously, I'm recommending an European film. (I'm going to pretend it was never remade into a flick starring Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock with an idiotic American happy ending tacked on.) I don't think I'm spoiling anything by telling you Sluzer's movie is not nice. Rex and Saskia are in love, even though Rex is kind of a dick. They're on holiday in the countryside and stop at a gas station for a pee and a snack. Rex waits in the car for Saskia to come back. And he waits and he waits and he waits. But she doesn't come back. She's gone. 

What makes this film so interesting is the time it spends with the bad guy. It's never a question of "Who did it?"--we see the abductor early on. We watch his failed attempts to lure other young women into his car, watch him calculate how long his drugged victim will stay unconscious, watch him dote on his young daughters. This isn't the sort of pornographic, peering over the shoulder of a maniac as he fillets school girls and burns animals sort of examination of a killer. It is quiet and methodical, just like our bad guy, Mr. Lemorne. 

So you know something terrible happened to Saskia. Rex does, too. But what? Rex's obsession with finding out the truth eventually leads to a meeting with Mr. Lemorne, who promises to reveal Saskia's fate... But only by enacting it on Rex himself. 

This is a movie that sticks with you, folks. I felt weird and frightened and upset for about a week after watching it. Every time I tried to fall asleep, I would think "Holy shit. What would I do? Maybe I should stop being nice to strangers. Maybe I should carry a switchblade." 

Anyway, rent it if you want to feel that desperate tightening in your chest that won't go away for at least three days. That's all we ask for from movies, yes? 

As I haven't written a review in a very long time and I am tired, I am going to end with this picture, which is what comes up when you search for images of the film's Dutch title, "Spoorloos." 

Goodnight, and don't talk to strangers! 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I was dreaming of the approach of a sound ghost. When I heard it I knew I would be dead.
A gunshot shocked us both from sleep and sent the dog up the pillow, whining and licking my face. When I was fully awake I realized Mark and I were holding hands; our fingers had laced in the dark almost simultaneous to the shot.

I thought that was nice.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Why I can't watch Mad Men

I can't watch Mad Men. I'll admire the clothes and I'll Mad Men myself, but that's as far as it goes. If you want to make some sort of bases analogy, it won't work. I won't make eye contact with Don Draper, let alone allow him to... do whatever it is he does. I hear he gets fresh with the ladies.

Look, I'm curious. Of course I am. I was even ready to watch an episode a few years ago! I was gonna do it and then I saw an AMC special that was all pumped about its return and they were making a HUGE deal over the witty, unparalleled writing and I almost went for it. But they didn't want me to just take their word for it. No, they had to prove it to me. Following a soundbite from the very smug creator, they hit me with this:

"Oh yeah, Billy. And maybe one day there will be a magic machine that makes exact copies of things. HAW HAW HAW!"

I've gotten behind a lot of shitty TV and I was as crazy about the Sopranos and Freaks and Geeks as anybody. And if I'd encountered that line mid-episode, I probably would have groaned and rolled my eyes and forgotten about it. But when you are highlighting the resplendent writing of your fabulous television show, and you choose a line that follows a formula found in any idiotic throw-back comedy... well, you've lost me.

Hey, Mad Men: YA BLEW IT!*

*I am aware I am the only person in America not watching Mad Men. They could give a shit about my vow to avoid the show.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I sure like this girl

Meredith: You are so funny (love your book!)– and your writing is edgy. But being human, what’s the biggest, not-good-for-you lie you tell yourself about your skill, craft and talent? How do you set yourself straight, un-believe the lie?
RACHEL: Well first of all, thank you!  This is a hard question to answer.  I’m not sure.  I don’t know if this is a lie, per se, but one thing I do that really isn’t good for me is obsess way too much about my career and where I am in the relative spectrum of literary success, especially as compared to other people that I know and worrying whether I measure up.  It takes way too much energy and is at least as destructive as it is motivating.  I try just to focus on what I can actually affect–i.e., trying to do the best work I can, but that can be pretty boring compared to torturing myself over press and sales and whether or not I’m ever going to be successful–whatever my definition of that is, and it’s constantly changing. It’s like how they say that old is whatever is 15 years older than what you are; that’s what “success” is for me.  Success is whatever I’m not.  And I know that isn’t a thought that’s very good for me or my work.
Rachel Shukert, From Writers Inner Journey

I guess I should stop comparing myself to her, then? 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

2 things

1. I am annoyed that I like this song. 

It's so manipulative! It feels like a computer wrote a Rolling Stones song. It's right but... it's not quite right. Still, I paid $1.25 on iTunes and listened to it as I walked my dog through the Tenderloin at night. I punched my foot through the fog with that first kick of the drums, completely helpless.

2. After looking over that last post which, granted, is half in jest, I think I need a vacation from the internet. Man, do I.

Idiot Face

It is unbelievable how poorly I photograph. Every once in a while I get a really good one but that is out of 3 million awful shots. Literally 3 million shots of me with no chin, with big black eyes, ravaged. I'm not writing this because I want someone to disagree. I just got a new dress and I took some pictures in it and there were 2 okay photos. TWO!  And it made me so angry.

Who are these photogenic people? I torture myself looking at pictures of girls I don't know, girls I have a mean and secret compulsion to measure myself against, and sometimes think "Whatever. She's not that pretty."

Brooke. Brooke! BROOKE! Yes, she is that pretty. And she takes amazing pictures because she is pretty. She's likely even prettier in real life. And when you find one semi-unflattering image (which is actually not bad at all) among rolls and rolls of evidence to the contrary, this is not proof that you might, in fact, compare.

Anyway, what are you doing, looking at pictures of strangers, sizing them up? How would you feel if someone browsed through every picture you're tagged in on facebook? Can you imagine? There are LOADS of terrible pictures of you there! A stranger might see one and think you are ugly! Yes! Someone could take this nano-second of your life, when you had a bad haircut and your posture was a mess and your chin looks like a little stump, AND THEY WILL DECIDE EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU! Karma!

It is unfair to the unphotogenic that pictures have become so important. Fucking facebook. You could show up in a picture anywhere, on anyone's internet! Your ex could see it and be glad you broke up. Your current flame could see it and be embarrassed to be listed "in a relationship" with you. Your ex's new sweetheart could see it and laugh at how much prettier/skinnier/awesomer they are than you. That person you were kind of mean to in 9th grade can look you up and bash the shit out of you.


When I was cashiering I saw two women within the span of an hour wearing fake lashes. The fakest fake lashes I have ever seen. They looked like pieces of electrical tape stuck on their lids. I was really confused, because there's no way they could have thought they looked good in real life. The only justification I could think of was facebook.

Do you realize that how we look in pictures is now more important than how we appear in real life? 

For someone almost completely unphotographable, this is bad news.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


It is a mystery I have never solved. After first period on my first day of high school I found bathroom graffiti about myself. In the second stall in the second floor bathroom, someone neatly penned BROOKE F IS A WHORE on the toilet paper dispenser. I hadn't even been in high school for a full hour! Surely there was a Brooke F in a higher grade with a nasty reputation. How awkward for this freshman, to share a name with the school slut.

I searched for this hussy in the school directory. She was not there. Just me. I was the whore! How could this be? Who hated me enough to slander me during the first 50 minutes of school?

There was only one real suspect: Heather from summer school basketball. That bitch would have knifed me if she could have gotten me alone. 

I don't know why she wanted to smash my face with a basketball. It was instantaneous. I think it had to do with my shorts, which were cutoffs. I missed the first two weeks of training because I was on a school trip, and I missed the day they told us no jean shorts. My Umbros were long gone; I cast them off in seventh grade, when I figured out girls hate girls who wear Umbros after elementary school. The cutoffs were all I had and, since NO ONE told me they were forbidden, I wore them every day. 
Layups in my jorts. 
Suicide runs in my jorts. 
Scrimmages in my jorts. 
Trouble with girls AGAIN because of my shorts. 

I later heard from a few girls that they thought I was giving the finger to our coaches and everyone by wearing the cutoffs and I was probably an asshole. These girls eventually learned that I'm not an asshole, but Heather never caught on. She ran laps behind me, whispering "bitch" with each pound of our feet. 

So I guess it was her. I don't know why calling me a whore would be anyone's priority on the first freaking day of school, unless maybe it was my ex traveling back in time? He was pretty fond of that word, too. 

The moral of the story, my friend, is to be very careful about your shorts. You don't know who you're gonna piss off. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

You mean... they ate each other up?

I just finished The Man Who Ate His Boots, by Anthony Brandt. I think you should get this now. Right now.  Even if you're not usually into history/nonfiction stuff, this book is the opposite of trying to sail a wooden boat through pack ice. Meaning it is FAST and EASY, even at almost 400 pages.
The man who ate his boots is Sir John Franklin, one of the "Arctic Knights" searching for the Northwest Passage in the 1800's. It's the obsession of one idiot, John Barrow, that sends these men into the ice again and again and again, never learning a fucking thing. They freeze to death because they want to wear their wool clothes, because they don't learn how to build igloos for shelter, because they don't think for one second savage people who have lived in sub-zero temperatures for hundreds of years could possibly teach them, ENGLISHMEN, anything about survival.
And so they die. Horribly.

I first heard about the final expedition, the Franklin Expedition, while watching a NOVA special on mummies. 30 parties went in search of Franklin and his men after they disappeared in 1846, and the first graves they found were of three sailors on Beechy Island. The bodies were preserved by the ice and in the 1980's anthropologist Owen Beattie exhumed (and defrosted--the guys were ice cubes) the remains to figure out why they died. Lead poisoning, from their canned food, had something to do with it. Lead poisoning will kill you, but it will make you crazy first. Beattie's discovery enlightens the terrifying behavior of the other 120-some men. 
They had two ships: The Terror and The Erebus. And they sat, entrenched in ice, for two years. One of the ships was crushed and sank. Franklin died (possibly of a heart attack). The remaining officers and crew abandoned the ships and went in search of food. What did they bring with them, you ask? Oh, not much. Just a fourteen-hundred pound life boat full of arctic necessities, like silk scarves and scented soaps and slippers and, oh yes, a writing desk.
That's what stuck with me. These men were dying, weak with scurvy and hunger and fear, and they decided it would be a good idea to drag a giant desk across the arctic? I remember watching the tape in the dark, my legs shrinking up to my chest as I imagined them saying "Oh yes, well we must bring the writing desk!" like that was normal and smart and not crazy at all. That kind of crazy, when everyone has caught it, when the most idiotic decision seems like a fantastic idea and how logical! that scares the bejezus out of me. That's probably not how that scene played out in real life, but it's how it played out in my head, and I couldn't stop thinking about it.
The men on Beechy Island were the only ones to be buried. Some were found face-down in the snow, fully clothed (why oh why weren't they wearing fur?) and still carrying their papers. The remains of others told a gruesome tale. The men, starving and probably mad, turned to cannibalism. As if this story wasn't scary enough. It's something you don't want to think about for too long, but maybe you can't help it.

It is a fearful thing to imagine what must go through the mind of a man reduced to eating the body of another,  someone he has known personally, has broken ship's biscuit  with... How is it even possible to saw hands off arms, or to  break into a skull for the brains inside? Very few of us have ever been hungry enough to know. (Brandt)

The Franklin Expedition (his third, by the way. He was 59 when he left England forever) makes up only a small part of The Man Who Ate His Boots. It is all fascinating. Brandt is a great writer. You will also never want to make a joke about scurvy again. That shit is nasty. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


It was a horrible shock to be reminded that John C. Rielly is not actually Dr. Steve Brule. It made me a little sad. I want him to be real! Maybe if we clap he will be real. Maybe if we send the bones.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

So it was a new cake recipe and it didn't really rise, and I discovered our stove is slanted, but I made this tasty cake to celebrate the 4th.

(That blog is amazing. I can't wait to try more of her recipes!)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Way Harsh, Facebook

So I sent a friend request to an old pal and former co-worker, kind of against my better judgement. I'd just caught up with a mutual friend and this guy's name came up. I thought: "Hey, I kind of miss that guy. He was really cool and very nice to me." I knew he was tight with some people I don't get along with, but I figured I'd give it a shot.
He didn't reject me, but he hasn't approved, either. Which is actually just fine. I knew I was taking a chance when I sent the request and, after perusing his wall, it became apparent it might be awkward for us to be facebook friends.
Like I said, that's fine.
But facebook keeps giving me the news flash that he's adding all these other people as friends! What the hell! Why is facebook rubbing this in my face? The dude didn't accept my friendship, so why should I be getting updates on his activity in the first place? And for it to be like "Hey, dude accepted like 5 more friends today. Hmm, funny, you're not on the list!" is uncalled for.
It's a cruel game, Facebook, and it's not appreciated.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I've been accused of having a musical taste based in irony. That my iTunes is the equivalent of a hipster's bushy handle-bar moustache.
"You don't understand," I say, clutching my Hall and Oates record. "I actually like them. I really, really like them. They make me feel happy and like I--"
"JUST AS I THOUGHT!" screams the Arbiter of Whatever, snapping the record over his knee.
The fact that I once cried listening to "What a Fool Believes" doesn't implicate your taste. It suggests that you are mature enough to have friends that are not exactly like you.
Sometimes I like songs because they make me feel good, and because they make me want to dance, and because I get this exhilarating build-up in my chest and only a fist-pump can save me from asphyxiation.

Below is one such song. Its goodness cannot be denied. You're gonna listen to it and then you're gonna listen to it again and then maybe rethink your feelings about Phil Collins. Or maybe not.

Monday, May 17, 2010


You know how there are couples who swear to be faithful except in the presence of a single agreed-upon celebrity? Like, should Johnny Depp show up at the door, desperate for a shag, your husband would sigh, turn up the TV, and pretend he couldn't hear you two bumping uglies? 

Well, Mark and I have come to such agreement.

My man? Is Celery Man. 


Thanks, honey. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I am afraid to think about things too much. I am afraid of people knowing my mind. I am afraid I will die without anyone having seen my Mick Jagger impression because I only do it in private, that no one will ever even know I do a Mick Jagger impression.

Who cares?

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I'm a little miffed. I was promised trauma. I was expecting psychological damage. I don't ask for those things from every movie I see. But look at that poster! That cat is horrifying! And the Emcee at the Castro told me I would be traumatized! I was thinking I wouldn't sleep tonight!  But even a scene with murderous blankets and mattresses will not keep me from my Z's.

I've never seen anything like House. It was funny and campy and mostly just weird. It featured my favorite special effect: the old animated lightening/electricity.

See it cause it's strange and has flying body parts. Don't bother if you're looking to be frightened.

I am very tired now.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010



I carry my bruises like badges. Though awarded for clumsiness—the careless, uncontrolled movement of my limbs—or the obliteration of my equilibrium, as they bloom on my body they grow in my mind.
It usually begins with an invisible pain. There is a deep ache when pressure is applied. Hours or days later they appear like the heads of jellyfish, pushing up to the surface of my skin in dreamy greens and purples. I forget their origin by the time they form, unless there is some clue in the injury itself. Brown, finger-shaped bruises once appeared on my biceps, a result of falling backwards in a pub in Ireland. People are going to laugh at me, I thought, sprawled on the floor which was sticky with spilt liquor. I should probably just stay down here. The guy I’d been talking to tried to haul me back on my feet but I resisted, letting my head loll back like an infant’s. When I finally consented, the fellow pinned me between the bar and himself. I held onto his pockets so I wouldn’t slide back down.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

and you will know me by the trail of bobby pins

Months from now, when you've almost forgotten me, you're going to find one of my bobby pins buried in the carpet. And you're going to say, "Goddamn that girl and her fucking bobby pins!"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why didn't anyone tell me Honey Nut Cheerios were so good?