Tuesday, April 25, 2006

You Are My Passion For Life

I'm home sick from work today after rapidly coming down with some kind of horrible virusy, fluish I don't know what. Maybe it's food poisoning? Maybe the same person who steals quarters off my desk hacked up some plague on my keyboard? I can't say for sure but I'm going with the latter, because the only food that could've been the culprit was from the great new delivery place near my house. I'm not willing to sacrifice a Chinese AND Mexican restaurant. You can order wonton soup and quesadillas and General Tso's chicken and a big honking burrito, at the same time. Fuck botulism!

But the point is, I stayed home today and thus got to watch a whole ton of daytime TV. Dr. Phil is doing interventions for out of control teens, which is like a sign from the Lord that I was supposed to be on the couch today at 3:00. I also caught today's installment of Passions, probably the worst soap opera network TV has ever pooped out. I manage to see an episode every few months, and the thing I love the most about it (besides the witches and the secret identities and the infidelity and the bastard children and the ghosts and the cults and the weird allegiance to Catholicism) is how almost every single character has been played by at least two different actors. Like Darren on Bewitched, if Samatha was also replaced two or three times, and Tabitha was played by a talking doll.

I think this is a good idea. I think we should adopt the soap-actor-replacement plan as regular practice. How much more exciting would work be if my boss was suddenly, say, Robert DeNiro? Or Dom DeLuise? Or Rip Torn? And I just got to pretend that nothing had happened? And what if, one day, I just traded places with, like, Oprah? Or a cabbie? Or Mario Batali? Or Shakira? And everyone just had to play along, that mine were the truthful hips they'd seen so many times in MTV?

Basically, I just don't want to every fill out a job application again. Can we just all agree to randomly shuffle careers until I end up a senior editor? So I don't have to ever write another cover letter?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Broken Axl: Lose Five Days

So, when Brad whispered in my ear on Saturday night "I'm 100% not lying when I say Axl Rose just walked in," the only thing I was sure of was that he was 100% lying to me. The idea that Axl "Once awesome, now bloated, but still kind of awesome" Rose was at MisShapes was not only too bizarre to believe, but precisely the kind of thing Brad would make up.

Turns out I should have more faith in people. The crowd parted and there, at a table behind a velvet rope, with two bodyguards and another girl who appeared to be in his entourage just to pour drinks, was Axl "Nananananananana-kneees! Knees!" Rose.

Now it was cool when I saw Madonna at MisShapes, but she had several strikes against her in terms of fabulous celebrity encounters. One, she looked great. Two, she's not a hermit. Three, I knew she was going to be there. Four, she didn't have multicolored white person cornrows. Axl "Seriously, that's fucking Axl Rose" Rose was a cornrowed, sweatshirt wearing, reclusive surprise. Waving his arms to "Freedom" by George Michael.

I believe the apex of the night, and also my life, was wearing a white denim jacket, dancing approximately three feet away from Axl "Hey, where's Chinese Democracy at?" Rose to my all time favorite monster ballad, Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." I mean, really. How does it get better than that? How? Until Slash serves me Kristal out of his top hat, this is going to go down as the most awesome moment of my short, trashy life.

The New York code of celebrity ethics dictates composure and disinterest in the presence of anyone with any kind of notoriety. To some extent I'm down with this; I feel a little dirty pointing or whispering someone's name while they can see me. I mean, I'm not really comfortable pointing and whispering about anyone when I'm sure they'll catch me doing it. I don't want to see people whispering about me, and I'm sure Elizabeth Berkeley doesn't either when she's standing outside Tasti D Lite.

However. There is the matter of jumping up and down and squealing when just slightly out of earshot. This will never go away, because I will never, ever stop being excited when I see people who I've watched for years on TV, or who wrote the second song I ever downloaded onto the family computer (cough, "Sweet Child o' Mine", cough). It may not be cool, but I never claimed to be anything but a twelve year old trapped in an entry-level grown-up's body. Goldie Hawn? Squeal. Kathy Bates? Squeal. Axl Rose? Squeal and text message. John Cusack? Squeal and please, for the love of God, do not lose bladder control.

Yes, they're all just people, and sure, fame is not a character asset, but look: these are my celebrities, inflated in my brain by familiarity like one of those little figurines you submerge and watch expand. Seeing them in person is the whole TV-, movie-, music-junkie childhood realized. New York decorum be damned, I'm gonna gawk at Axl like he's the mayor of Paradise City.

"Like" he's the mayor of Paradise City. Psssht. He IS the mayor.

I, on the other hand, am merely Deputy Sheriff of The Remaining Large Binder Clips in the Supply Desk. However, today I get to be Her Royal Highness, Queen of The Burrito I Ate For Lunch Made Me Sick and Now I'm Gonna Puke.

(Oh won't you please take me home?)

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Visit from Brad

Let me begin with a few prompts. If you have that Haircut One Hundred song where he sings “iy yi yi yi yi ya / iy yi yi yi yi yi yi ya,” put it on now. I’m not actually listening to it, but it’s been on repeat in my head pretty much 24/7 since I played little league baseball. That, and “Electric Avenue.” And occasionally “Hot Child in the City,” which is probably the most revolting song ever performed when you listen to the words and look at Nick Gilder singing it. Eeesh.

Now go to wherever you keep your dirty laundry and put on the grossest, smelliest, wrinkliest t-shirt in there. Next, check your e-mail. Now check it again. Once more. Okay, now check your e-mail again. Check your e-mail now, too. Doesn’t hurt to refresh the page. Go on, check it again. Once more. Aaand, check your e-mail again. Now eat too much of whatever the nearest candy is and hiccup so hard your stomach hurts for half an hour. Take a picture of the floor.

There, so, you’re me.

Kathy invited me to guest blog today, which is stupid of her because she’s going to lose half her readers. I don’t have narratives like she does. In fact, I don’t ever really have anything interesting to say. I can make some lists, though. Let’s do two lists.

Things Shirley Has Said To Us:
“That’s wronger’n a horse eatin’ a hamburger.”
“This is harder than stretchin’ a gnat’s ass over a washboard.”
“I’m nervouser’n a long-tailed cat in a room fulla rockin’ chairs.”
And, my favorite, “Take the keys to Bubba [the old summer job golf cart], take a radio, and go ANYWHERE.” We were getting on her nerves.

What Was Alanis Down On in the Theater?

So, Dharma and Greg. Dharma, Dharma, Dharma. Really. Who heard the pitch for a show called “Dharma and Greg” and said YES. LET’S DO THIS. Who? Hey guess what? I don’t care about Will and Grace. TBS: Seinfeld reruns are okay (the best is when Kramer answers that his briefcase is full of crackers), but I still don’t really like the show. Everybody Loves Raymond was better, but I think they stopped showing it! Friends is just six idiots taking turns kissing each other, hiding the kissing from the others, and wearing the most dated outfits imaginable. If I wanted to watch that hullabaloo I’d go back to college.

Dear Kathy’s Readers,

I apologize for wasting your time.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My Name is Kathy, and I Can't Sleep.

I am so tired. This is the worst way to begin a conversation.

This is also the worst answer to "How are you?" a person can give, and the most overused phrase by people who are bored, lame, or seeking sympathy. But man, I mean it. I am tired, fatigued, exhausted, somnolent and sleepy, all adjectives I remembered without use of a thesaurus because I am too tired to move my hand to the mouse and open Merriam Webster.com. How many synonyms have I missed? I don't know. I'm just too tired.

I can't keep my eyes open for two reasons: Ikea and porn. Well, maybe it's the fault of my Ikea Fjelldall loft bed, my number one archenemy, with which I would so have a shoot out at high noon if being this tired wouldn't totally fuck with my razor-sharp trigger reflexes. There's also the possibility that the blame goes to my landlord who hasn't yet turned off the heat completely, or the kid who runs laps one floor above my head all night. Maybe it's some weird Circadian disruption. Maybe it's a voodoo hex from someone envious of my wealth, dazzling beauty, and enviable career. Whatever it is, I just can't sleep.

Normally I'm a fucking sleep champion. I used to be the gold medalist of sleeping. I slept through classes in college. I slept in classes in high school. I slept on the train next to snoring, drooling businessmen. I've slept on the the subway and nearly missed my stop, which is awesome when it's way past midnight and you're the only girl on a train filled with greasy old guys. But now I can't sleep at all, even when I'm in bed in my best pajama pants and I'm so freaking tired I'm even willing to ignore the tiny marathoner living upstairs. Nothing. Except for like half an hour at a time, followed by long periods of using TV static to illuminate the book I'm reading.

This makes me pretty tired during the day.

The other issue here is porn. I went out with Brad and new friend Jason last night for what was supposed to be a quick stop at Happy Valley to wish a disco astronaut happy birthday. Except, oops, it was a Burning Angel party. You know, that website. With the tattooed girls. Doing it.

Porn has this way of sneaking up on me. I'm not a porn watcher; I think it's too funny to find it at all sexy. Still, somehow I've ended up at far more than my fair share of strip nights and gay porn star appearances, around more flopping go-go dancers in loincloths than even the biggest Fabio fan could wish for, and with German dungeon magazine photos hidden in all of my belongings (thanks, Brad). So accidentally ending up at a party full of confused regulars, ecstatic straight college guys, and the world's least sexy (but most inked) sort-of-nudie girls was about par for my porn course.

While there were undoubtedly people stoked to see lifesize, non-digital boobs, I can't say I was real titillated by yet another porncident. Oh boy, they're making out. Oh boy, they've all got black hair and bangs. Oh boy, they're sort of shimmying on the bar. Oh boy, it's one o'clock in the morning and I'm an old lady who needs her sleep, and in lieu of being able to actually do that I'm willing to accept a few hours in the wooden embrace of my Fjelldall, punching my pillow.

So now I'm at work, and I'm tired. Brad has more than once lamented the loss of "put your head down" time, a last resort for overworked public school teachers to calm a class of screeching kids with endless post-Fruit Rollup energy. I just want to put my head down. I want it to be time for the VP to switch off the lights and insist that I put my forehead down on the cool, wonderful plastic of my desk for, like, twenty minutes. Or the next six hours.

Instead, I'm ingesting caffeine at a rate sure to do permanent damage to my kidneys and fighting the coffee vultures in the kitchen for my rightful cup of prison-grade mud. They're my least favorite people in the office--worse than whoever keeps clogging the toilet in the bathroom with disturbing amounts of toilet paper, and worse even than the pen stealer who fucks with the very specific arrangement of tea, hand lotion, and empty animal cracker boxes on my desk. The coffee vultures will try to squeeze a cup out of the three drops left in a pot someone else brewed, lurk around until some sap makes another one, and then descend like captive pirhanas on a curious toddler's pointer finger. It's not hard, you lazy pieces of crap. Coffee in filter, filter in machine, coffee emerges.

I could do it in my sleep.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Who me? In the news?

Sometimes blogging about how mind-numbing Take Your Spawn to Work Day would be at your company gets you an interview in the newspaper. Or a bunch, I think, because it's the Newhouse News Molecule of Journalism Conglomerate Association. I don't know, whatever it is, the reporter was really nice and my quote's in the middle.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Debt

There's this article in the Times today, on the front page of the online edition, about how Michael Jackson is putting together some huge financial deal to rescue him from bankruptcy. He's got to pay off $270,000,000 dollars in loans that the Bank of America just sold to some other company who "specializes in distressed debt."

This makes me feel better about still paying off Christmas presents in April.

Anyway, part of the whole arrangement involves the Gloved One selling off 25% of the Beatles catalog. He owns 50%. His portion is worth $500,000,000. The entire Beatles catalog is worth roughly $1,000,000,000.

A billion freaking dollars.

I'm not saying that the Beatles weren't visionary, and that they didn't change the face of music, and that they weren't a cultural zeitgeist yet unparalleled in talent or popularity. But a billion freaking dollars is a lot of money. I mean, a lot. I think there are countries whose gross national product is less than a billion dollars. Though I'd be hard pressed to put an actual dollar value on the entire Beatles catalog, I have decided I am qualified to put a price on the line "I am the egg man."

Ten dollars.

"I am the egg man" is stupid. Even if you love the Beatles, take those five words out of context and concede that that is a stupid sentence. Clause. Whatever. If that line was written by an up-and-comer right now, "I am the egg man" would earn maybe ten dollars in tips playing in a coffee shop, or maybe sell one self-recorded CD.

Ten bucks for "I am the egg man."

Now, ready for some fabulous math?

The Beatles catalog has been valued at $1,000,000,000. According to their discography on Wikipedia, they released twelve albums as The Beatles in the United Kingdom. (I'm going to use the UK discography instead of the one for the United States because the UK list included song titles.) Those twelve records had 181 songs on them.

181 songs. Now, let's assume that each of those songs has about 20 original lines in it (that's an average I came up with sort of out of my ass...but consider repeated lines, and short songs versus long songs, and I think it's a pretty solid number). Twenty lines in each of those 181 songs means that the Beatles wrote 3,620 lines of music.

Now, let's assume that the monetary value of each of those lines is equal. Yeah, maybe people in general will remember stuff like "She's got a ticket to rii-hiiiide" better than some boring line in the midle of "Act Naturally," but given the number of Absolute Beatles Fanatics in the world I think there's enough love for their entire catalog to say that every line is equally cherished by a whole lot of people. So. By some simple division, one can see that the financial value of one line in a Beatles song is:

$276, 243. And nine cents.

"I am the egg man" is worth roughly $276,243.09.

And MJ's worried about bankruptcy. All he's got to do to keep all the carnival ride operators at Neverland employed is sell the rights to a winner of a line like "I am the egg man." You wanna get a new monkey? Just sell "egg man." Ship the Elephant Man's bones to Bhutan or wherever it is you're skirting the law? Just sell "egg."

I, on the other hand, would have to sell "all of my actual eggs, by which I mean my ova," if I wanted rent an apartment overlooking Central Park.

I want a raise.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sixteen Candles Down the Drain

Last week I went to the first anniversary of Cringe, the monthly reading series where drunk people with a whopping masochistic streak read from their adolescent diaries, notes, and letters from camp. I signed up to read next month because I recently found a stash of stuff from the sixth and seventh grade, which, I discovered upon inspecting it this week, included a number of mix tapes I made before I had a portable CD player.

The six or so tapes I found are artifacts from a really peculiar age in my life, and I speculate in the lives of all humans who live to see the awkwardness of their twelfth year and don't have better things to think about than how they should modify their handwriting to look cooler on a mix tape track listing. Like, I'm sure Masai twelve-year-olds are more concerned about being eaten whole by lions as they sleep, or something. I had little more to think about than myself, and I did, and it occupied the vast majority of my time.

(...and probably planted the tiny, self-absorbed seeds of bloggerdom.)

Talking on and on about how self-absorbed I once was reaches meta-levels of self-absorption, so let me get to my point, which is: my mix tapes are weird, and funny, and possibly indicative of way my twelve or thirteen year old brain worked, and how it might still work. There's my thesis statement. Now back to me.

All of the tapes I found were made during the summer between seventh and eighth grade, I think. Which makes me twelve, but aaaaaalmost thirteen. Technologically I was in a weird spot because the stereo in my room was such a hand me down it played only tapes and eight tracks, and I couldn’t play (my very few) CDs anywhere besides living room of my house. So I made tapes for my walkman. It never occurred to me to make tapes that included tracks off my CDs, so my tapes are from the radio only. The living room got three stations I deemed worthy to tape from: one top 40, one alternative rock, and one dance, which I totally pretended I hated even though I put that cover of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" on every tape.

My mixes (all of which were numbered and labeled, though only one track list and case seems to have survived several room purges) are ridiculous because not only are they filled with crap (La Bouche, anyone?), they recycle the same crap over and over. I’m not just talking from tape to tape. I mean you’ll hear “She” by Greenday more than once on the same side of the same tape. I also must’ve had a deep love for that song “Roll to Me” by Del Amitri, or else a Pavlovian impulse to hit record every time I heard it, because it’s on these tapes like, seriously, eight-hundred and fifty times. I even put stuff on here that I know I didn’t like at the time—Dave Matthews, for example. Never liked him. Still don’t like him. It would follow that “Ants Marching" isn’t on my mix tapes. Wrong-o, buddy. It shows up a bunch of times, and sometimes I only got the second half of the song.

Seal, “Kiss from a Rose?” Check. “Rhythm of the Night?” Check. Spelled it “rythem” on the insert in the tape case? Check. U2’s forgotten “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me,” included only because it was on the Batman soundtrack and I was trying to get more into Chris O’Donnell so I would have something to talk about with my friend Melissa? Gold freakin’ star!

My hypothesis is that these tapes had almost nothing to do with music. It wasn’t until eighth grade that I really started to get into what I listened to. When that happened, it was all about the baby-barrette wearing kind of grunge--even though that whole scene was so almost over it was exhaling its last death-rattley breath. But tell that to a thirteen-year-old growing up as the oldest child, which is a really unfortunate circumstance when your parents listen to Rod Stewart, and there’s no cool older sibling to shuttle you into similar coolness. You’re blazing musical territory on your own. Sometimes it works out (Juliana Hatfield!). Sometimes it doesn’t (Blues Traveler!).

These mix tapes are more like study guides before a big final exam, except this exam was to take place in the dim cafeteria of Mildred E. Strang Middle School once a month while the DJ spun Boyz II Men (“Water Runs Dry”) and I psychically tried to will a guy off of the opposite wall to ask me to dance. I needed to know the opening strains of “Waterfalls.” How else would I recognize my cue to adjust my kerchief, tie-dyed shirt and Doc Martens to make myself attractive enough for the fellas to slow dance with?

If only I had known then that tie-dye is never the answer. Ever.

It wasn’t about enjoying a song (though I’m glad now I get to do the dishes listening to The Real McCoy). My mix tapes were all about archiving little steps toward coolness, and were born completely out of an obsession to catalog and study whatever made me feel like I was finally getting my life underway. If Technotronic was the soundtrack to the big seventh grade dance, then Technotronic was recorded and replayed in my headphones until I fell asleep, counting stomach butterflies and thinking about how better to ingratiate myself to the object of my enduring, painfully long middle-school love.

(Seriously, I liked the same guy for four years. I’d say that’s a pretty big commitment for someone still occasionally watching Nickelodeon.)

It was a fundamentally nerdy way to approach life, and I don't think I've entirely outgrown it because I'm a dweeb to the core. I still plan important outfits on paper like I’m solving a quadratic equation. It’s not entirely the same thing, though, because my trigger-happy record button finger that couldn’t help but add Sponge one more time to Mix #3 wasn’t just acting out of geekiness. Being twelvish is being totally subservient to misplaced intensity. Unless you had someone to make out with (which some of you did, I’m sure, but I think the majority of our twelve year old selves were gawky and just figuring out the whole crush thing) you had to channel a stream of brand new passion into something else, whether it be soccer, or hating your brother, or your best best best, WORST, I HATE HER, BITCH, best friend, or dying your hair.

Or making mix tapes of songs you will, much later in life, remember the lyrics to even though you can’t remember your goddamn extension at work.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Raisin Fennel Soup

Sometimes my job throws me a bone. And sometimes that bone is wrapped in elegantly prepared pork, served on a bed of red onions and fava beans.

The other day I got to eat at a ridiculous restaurant, a restaurant with a famous chef, and a complimentary coat check, and so many stars to its credit you can identify new constellations. I mean, a really big deal restaurant. With bread attendants. And sixteen forks. And Nicole Kidman eating in the corner. And soup service that involves giving you a plate with the stuff that floats arfully arranged in the middle and a soup dude who pours the broth out of a silver broth holder. Who knew that there were broth vessels in the world? The only things in my house that would qualify as a broth vessel come in three pedestrian varities: aluminum can, spoon, and mouth.

My meal included the kind of ingredients that I've heard of, but wasn't entirely sure they weren't just things invented for children's songs. Purple potatoes? Kumquats? Isn't that the kind of stuff you find down by the baaaaay, where the watermelons grooooow?

I guess a year and a half of Cup o' Soup lunches, photocopying, and recycling all of my office supplies from employees who quit equals one good meal. I'm not saying it wasn't nice. But I'm not rushing to put those on the scales of justice, either. When I'm writing to you from my gratis loft on my complimentary computer in my offical editorial department bathrobe, we'll talk again.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


GodDAMN, that Rod Stewart song, the one with the chorus that goes "young heaaaaarts be freeeeee tonight (dododo DOO...DOdodo dooo)," it's been stuck in my head all day and I don't know why. I haven't heard that song in ages, and it turns out that's kind of blessing you don't think to be thankful for until you can't get Rod or his gold leggings out of your head. Dododo DOO...DOdo do dooo.

"Young Turks?" That's the name of this song? I just googled it. That makes me hate it so much more.

Time is oooon your siiiiide!
Dododo DOO...DOdodo dooo.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Spelling Lesson

I spent most of yesterday organizing my mp3s in front of Tori Spelling. Between a Lifetime movie featuring Toto as a thwarted Olympic skier (who, while recuperating from a knee injury, engages in steamy phone calls with an anonymous caller who turns out to be a murderous computer company CEO who uses a top secret voice mimicking program to talk to her on the phone while he kills his wife so he’s got an alibi in court but she’s clever and plucky and figures it all out and, I swear to God, skis to safety at the last minute) and the premiere of So NoTORIous on VH1, I spent more time on Spelling yesterday than I did during the entire fourth grade, when it was a subject. I was strangely at the strange premiere party for her strange new show on Friday night, so I felt required to watch it.

FYI, Tori’s new boobs are enormous and weird-looking. She has a freakish and inexplicable bosom. Like, tranny drag queen, how did they get the skin to stretch like that? big. In a pizza place after her weird entrance on a weird, fake red carpet, I actually found myself saying “I would love to see what she looks like topless.” I don’t know if anyone has ever said those words about Tori Spelling before. I know I definitely haven’t. But do you remember when you were a kid and, like, you just had to take apart your GloWorm to see what made its head light up like that? Tori’s boobs make you feel just like that. How does it work? How?

I was never a 90210 watcher. Seeing Tori in person wasn’t so much exciting as it was fascinating in a “wait, seriously?” kind of way. I love watching paparazzi do their thing, especially when it’s not a real premiere and they’re snapping away for a half an hour on the only celebrity scheduled to show up. “Tori, over here!” “Tori, can I get an over the shoulder? Over the shoulder! Over the shoulder!” The weirdest was when the paparazzi demanded she and her fiancée make out for the cameras, which they did in slow motion for a good two minutes. Mr. Spelling-to-be has got a tattoo on his arm that says “truly, madly, deeply, Tori.”

Everything that was happening felt like the kind of dream I would have after eating Pop Tarts right before bed.

New Yorkers are never so friendly as when they can’t see to the middle of a paparazzi cluster. I was standing way back on the on the curb while all the hoopla was going on. After placing a phone call to the only person I know (and possibly the only person anyone knows) who can call herself a Tori Spelling fan, I was just sort of watching the freak show unfold. So many people walking by asked me who the celebrity was, and they were way more excited to hear it was Tori Spelling than I thought they would be. Earlier in the evening, Russell Simmons popped out of the expensive hotel next door to the bar where the “premiere” was happening and sure, the paparazzi went nuts (well, and one passerby yelled “Take it all, Kimora!”) but people weren’t clamoring to get a look at him. Tori Spelling? Everyone was all, “Oh shit, I’ve GOT to see what she looks like in person.”

The back of the celebrity crowd is all smiles and anecdotes, and a surprising amount of goodwill. The overwhelming opinion was that Tori looked better than people expected. Besides the boobs.

My point is this: Tori Spelling just had a cameo in my life. All signs point to me actually turning into a Lifetime movie heroine. In no time at all I’m going to be sleuthing against the advice of a curmudgeonly detective and discovering all kinds of unsavory things about my friends and acquaintances.

And finding occasion to wear a silk robe. Everyone on Lifetime is always wearing a silk robe. That’ll rule.
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