October 26, 2005

Mind Bender

“Hi pumpkin.”

How many times have I said this to Larry over the past 13 years? Don’t know why or how he became that … maybe subconsciously it’s because his birthday is Halloween, and pumpkin is a skosh more endearing than “Hi scary wart-faced witch.”

His now rote repsonse: “Hi squash.”

So I guess if we had a 3-way with a really beefy guy it would be “meat and 2 veg”?

:: :: ::

In her new collection of short stories called Willful Creatures, Aimee Bender writes of pumpkinheads. They give birth to lovely pumpkin-headed children, but with their third pregnancy, a recessive gene kicks in and their new baby is born with the head of an iron. “Ironhead” tells his pressing tale of trying to work out the wrinkles fate has dealt him.

In “Dearth,” a woman is plagued by potatoes, until they she realizes they can't be gotten rid of and they become her family.

Before he reaches the "End of the Line" a big man goes to a pet store, looking for a little man to keep him company.

The pet store was full of dogs with splotches and shy cats coy and the friendly people got dogs and the independent people got cats and this man looked around unitl in the back he found a cage insides of which was a miniature sofa and tiny TV and one small attractive brown-haired man, wearing a tweed suit.

He gets bored with his expensive (but worth it) pet and puts a few drops of cleaning agent into his water bottle, so he can watch the little man hallucinate. Later on he forces him to masturbate, just to make fun of the tiny man's tiny manhood.

Aimee Bender is not quite right. She takes the quirks of the everyday, lets her imagination run marathons, and gets it all down on the page in a way that’s so simple and disturbingly heartwarming. Her stories are almost fable-like, told cleanly and without flourish. Funny and sad and with a perspective all her own.

She makes the surreal so real.

:: :: ::

I think she should come to dinner one night, and become my writer girlfriend. Only problem I see is that she only has two names. I’ll make a big pot of stew and we’ll sit around the table with my actor girlfriend (Mary-Louise Parker) and my actor-singer girlfriend (Sherie Rene Scott). We’ll have a nice game of Scrabble, drink lots of wine, (maybe say a few bad things about him) and they can teach me how to make the outrageous seem human.

Until then, I’ll keep reading, watching, and listening to each of them … and stay in just a little bit of awe.

October 25, 2005

Heading West

"You're going to Newcastle?" my friend Clare asked a few weeks ago, when I told her about a long weekend we'd planned. "I've got the perfect thing for you to do as soon as you get there."

"What's that?"


Decided last night over dinner that it would behoove us to bag the trip up North. Too much going on at home, what with the impending move and all. And both our jobs are, well, how does one say ... nightmarish right now.

Good news is it looks like we might have a new place to put the litter box when we get booted out of here. We'll know for sure in the next couple days, but things looks promising. Trouble is it's a whole block away. Larry's concerned that it'll add 5 minutes to his commute (2.5 minutes each way). The horror.

Next step is to get inside to take some measurements ... need to know how big a turkey will fit into the oven. Looks like a proper Thanksgiving dinner for 12 or more.

The goal is to get settled in as quickly as possible ... could be as early as next weekend. As soon as we get the keys, I've got a shaman popping by with a big smudge stick for the cleansing ritual. Then comes the feng shui-ster to tell us where to put the tv.

I want this picture (or perhaps the model) blown up real big and framed for the new flat. It'd be a real smart housewarming gift, for those of you keeping score at home.

Good on you, Miss Blaise ... the photos are great.

October 24, 2005

As Nancy Kerrigan Said ...


Miss Midler sings "I Shall Be Released" while Harvey's stage wife gives us yet another reason why she should be committed.

And how on Earth did she land a spot on Inside the Actor's Studio?

October 23, 2005

Back in Blighty

Thanks to all those who harrassed me expressed concern about the sudden dearth of posts last week. Apparently the sad rumours are true and there is no bobzyeruncle access at the New York office of Brand This!. Something about productivity screens on web pages devoted to whatever it is I write about. You'd think they'd have better things to do.

Alas, no access from the office and my evenings were too full soaking up the vodka culture to wrangle interweb access amidst the trendsters in the Library (not that it wouldn't have been worth $80 a minute to blog). To the 3 of you who missed me ... thanks.

Anyway, I'm back and a little shattered. Spent the past two days wandering around the neighborhood looking at overpriced flats. We have chosen our top-three replacements for M2 and should know in the next few days whether our offers go through. One is just around the corner and the other two are a few blocks East, one on and one just off of the local High Street. All are cool and very livable, although I'm still a little perturbed about having to move. I really do like it here. Oh well, we will see what happens.

Clearly the universe has something to teach me about sense of permanance and learning to let go.

Random thoughts from the trip ...

New York was great fun. Didn't get to see everyone I'd hoped to, but that's par for the course. Did get to catch up with lots of friends, and learnt that Miss Didion has created a "fun" read about a bad year. It's on the list for next time I'm suicidal and need a pick-me-up.

So many garbage cans on almost every corner and yet the streets are filthy. In contrast, you come back to London, can't find a bin to save your life and yet the streets are clean. Take a lesson, Manahattan.

The Hudson is loud, pretentiously trendy and cramped ... three things that suit me as well as rehab suits Kate Moss.

Big question of the week: Why did the twinkie behind the counter at The Art of Shaving have a beard?

Saw Doubt, and the only thing it left me certain of is that Cherry Jones is the most amazing actress alive. If not ever.

Living-on-the-B-list Big Apple celebrity sightings ...

1. Sitting near a very skinny, yet very chic Christine Lahti (sent back her bacon and then blotted the second round dry with her napkin) and family at Eatery.

2. Sitting next to not-so-skinny, but handsomely aging Bryan Batt at Doubt.

Note to Broadway audiences ... enough already with the entrance applause.

Work's gonna be a drag for the next several weeks. Lots of change ... again ... and people are on edge (or have already been pushed off the cliff). Not quite sure what all the change has in store for me. Looks like I'm going to have a redefined role in the next couple months. If it all works out, I should be a fairly happy bunny. If not, well, think of all the time I'll have to redo the new digs.

Karen, Shaggy and the 3 kids arrive in 30 days. So.very.excited.

Now, if I only knew where they were sleeping ...

October 13, 2005

I Will Run .... Later

I've been registered for Saturday's Nike Run London 10k for a couple months now. I'm psyched to run it. PB was in the making. Alas, it looks like I'll be in the wrong city.

Heading to NY tomorrow morning for an impromptu week-long homecoming.

Maybe I'll pack my festive, official Run London t-shirt do a loop around Central Park ... that's 10k.

Back next weekend, just in time to begin running around London, but this time to look at flats. Seem we're definitely out of M2, just don't know when.

We get sweet handwritten notes from our landlady saying "I'll let you know as soon as I know anything" and then emails from the realtor saying she's "adamant" that we can't renew the lease. And, of course, she's not saying when she wants us out. But the lease is up on 14 November.

"Adamant!" All this time I thought our lovely land lady was a sweeet goodie two-shoes.

The story is she's selling the building ...

Hey! I didn't know our furniture/art was posted on the Internet, and did Gypsy sign a model release?? Isn't that an invastion of privacy?!?

... and her lead prospect doesn't want tenants, but so far there's no word on if the sale is going to happen. Her son-in-law is handling the whole thing (she's just a fragile artist, he's the big, strong money-handling person). Hmmm, dotty old woman or shrewd business lady trying to string us along and collect as much ex-pat rent until the sale goes through?

She best beware the boomerang* known as karma.

We could be out mid-November, or could be moving just in time for Christmas.

Nice. Very friggin' nice.

And we breathe .....

:: :: ::

Q. What do you call a boomerang that doesn't come back?

A. A stick.

October 11, 2005

My Memory Has Gone to Pot

Bonjour from Paris.

I'm gutted, and not because my Eurostar carriage was overflowing with really chatty North Americans discussing the ins and outs of their group tour to Paris and the south of France.

I totally forgot to set Sky+ for the Weeds debut tonight. Can somebody please burn it for me? 10pm, Sky One.

Fabulous prizes and eternal gratitude involved.

October 10, 2005

Comfort (Food) and Joy

I was in the mood for some comfort food tonight after working late and missing my squash class. Didn't feel like cooking buying groceries so I decided to treat myself to some Mexican.

Sadly Juan wasn't en casa, so I wandered down to The Texas Embassy instead.

It was basura, but it hit the spot. A long-neck Dos Equis, greasy chips (tortilla chips, not papas fritas) and an all-meat, no-soy enchillada combo plate with rice and beans. Replete with country-western music in the background.

Disney coudn't have created finer verisimilitude.

As I was waiting for the bill, a strangely familiar, but totally out-of-context tune came on. Hark the what?!? Noel Noel? Comfort and joy?

Is that some Kenny Chestnut wannabe warbling Christmas carols? In October? Before the flan?


Now I'm no Scrooge (and neither is Tommy Steele if the posters are any evidence), but can't we have just a little autumn before we toss a carol on the spinnet?

Comfort and joy, indeed. Sweet wounded Jesus, where's my Bat Boy CD?

:: :: ::

P.S. I now have the London OCR on, which makes me miss Kerry Butler.

October 6, 2005

The Prodigal Son Returns

Gypsy has taken to the closet.

"What's that about?" you may wonder. Maybe it's because this one was released from Meowshwitz today.

Unexpectedly arriving a day early (who the hell is buzzing at 7am?), he wandered about scolding me for about 2 hours and has since usurpred the magic quilt. Miss Gypsy is so not having it, but it's good for her to practice her hissing, I suppose.

Don't get to comfy Cab, seems that our building's been put up for sale and the potential buyers don't want tenants. Our lease is up November 15 and the landlady doesn't seem keen on renewing it. Now, what was it I was bemoaning about lacking a sense of permanance? Fortunately, my sister, brother-in-law and their three kids are coming over for Thanksgiving week. So if we have to move house, at least we've got workers. No such thing as a free lunch turkey dinner.

A month ago, this just might have sent me over the edge. But hey, what can you do? Shit happens. Ohm shanti ohm.

October 5, 2005

Talking to Strangers

I never talk to people on public transport. It’s something my mom or Larry’s Aunt Rose would do. And it’s clearly against Personal Space Rule 45-21b as outlined in the Strap Hangers Holistic Handbook (SHHH).

I guess I was a rebel yesterday. I sat down next to an elderly black woman on the Jublilee line. She was wearing a too-heavy coat for the mild day we were having had her handbag open intently digging around inside.

Sitting next to would-be crazy people is also warned against in the SHHH.

Turns out she wasn’t digging at all. She had a small Tupperware container of tiny beads and was picking them up with a needle, one at a time, stringing them along in an autumnal pattern of brown, orange, and yellow.

“What are you making,” I asked. “A bracelet?”

Oops, I just broke PSR 45-21b. I figured she’d snap at me and tell me to mind my own damn business, and kind of regretted opening the crazy window.

She looked up from her work and there such kindness in her eyes. “It’s gonna be a five-strand necklace,” she said to me, very softly, as if it were our little secret. Her voice had the lilt of the Caribbean. No wonder she had a heavy coat on, she’s used to island weather. I’ve probably bought an anklet or a bracelet (or ten) on the beach from one of her great nieces.

“Wow, how long’s that gonna take?”

It’d take 2 hours, including tying it off and putting the clasps on, if she was “indoors” (which I thought odd, ‘cause I’ve yet to find the ragtop underground carriage). But today she was on a long train ride and was just passing the time, which she found to be highly amusing.

I laughed along, pretending to be in on the joke. Crazy is contagious.

“How often do you stick yourself?”

No more laughter with question. “For some people, this is a hobby,” she told me. It used to be a hobby for her, and that’s when she’d accidentally jab her finger. But now she’s done it so much that she never sticks herself. She’s a professional. Professionals can't work with sore fingers.

We shared more knowing laughter and she went back to threading the first of the five strands.

Just as my stop was approaching, she looked back up at me and said “It’s funny you talked to me. Just earlier today, I was walking up the steps in another station and this guy in front of me, nicely dressed, he had his trousers up at his waist, you know?”

I didn’t but nodded yes anyway.

“His trousers up at his waist, nice trousers mind you, but his underpants was all bunched up and sticking out in the back.” The train was slowing down now and I needed to get off, but didn’t want to interrupt her and just bolt. Part of me wanted to stay, but I had a plane to catch, so station missing wasn’t in the cards. “And I tried to tell him, but he just sneered at me. But you, you’ve been real nice.”

I thanked her kindly, wished her luck on the necklace and popped off the train.

Later that evening, I found myself on a Band Geek Flight from Heathrow to Frankfurt. How did I know it was Band Geek Flight? Well, the tell-tale give away is when you walk into the cabin and it’s abuzz with the yammering squeals of overexcited teenagers, and you notice about a half-dozen seats are occupied by cello and bass cases, their fat bodies all strapped into window seats and their skinny heads poking up over the headrests.

And Willow was there doing unseemly things with her flute.

The cutest blonde boy sat across the aisle from me, reading a text on the history of the trumpet. He clearly didn’t fly much, as was evidenced when he turned around to the guy behind him and said, in a voice no less angelic or innocent than Oliver asking for more, “Excuse me sir, would you mind if I put my seat back?”

Totally kissable, and polite to a fault. *sigh* If it weren’t for the perfect English accent, he could have been Canadian.

Anyway, after fantasizing over Blowme McTrumpeter for most of the flight, I decided to go ahead and break Personal Space Rule 45-21b again. I’m pretty sure there’s a double jeopardy clause and they can’t cite you twice in one day.

“Are you guys performing in a concert or a contest or something?”

Turns out they are with the Royal Academy of Music and are off to Wiesbaten for a concert. Back to London on Thursday. Hmm, I’ll be back then too. Perhaps I’ll have to become a patron of RAM.

Also turns out that my backpack had been nestled in with Blondie’s trumpet case in the overhead. As he hoisted it over his shoulder, I noticed a small beaded flag pinned to the case. Couldn’t identify the flag, but the beads reminded me of my friend from the tube.

Wouldn’t it be cool if she made it for him?

October 2, 2005

No Arms, No Legs, Hanging on a Wall

So apparently Larry quit his job at McMann and Tate, moved to London with Louise and opened a big old bewitching art gallery. Who knew.

I tagged along with our houseguests yesterday to the Tate Modern. I'm rubbish at art but, as they say, I know what I like. Most of the time I felt like Patsy looking at Edina's father in his casket ... "but is it art?"

Saw all kinds of things, some cool, some just ridiculous. And some kinda humpable. I named those specimens "live art." They were abundant.

As far as the non-breathing works went, this in particular really moved me ...


I'm sure I've seen this before, in books or maybe playing Masterpiece, but never realized how big it was; or how standing in front of it would stir up emotions in me.

That would have been a good one if I was still in therapy ... "Um yeah, nothing really new. Felt like crying when I saw a Monet over the weekend. Oh, and I had a pretty vivid sex dream about my ex in Texas who I haven't seen or spoken to in over a decade. But all in all everything's grand."

and we digress

We walked into one of the galleries and I saw a glass of water, sitting on a shelf, which irritated me. That's just stupid, I thought, how can people get away with calling this crap art?

I soon discovered it was actually An Oak Tree. The accompanying Q&A made me laugh, and now it's stuck with me. In fact, it's turned out to be one of my favorite pieces. So all apologies to Mr. Craig-Martin for being too quick to judge. His Six Foot Balance ... is also really good.

This, however, is not.

Also impressive was Giuseppe Penone's Tree of 12 Meters. He took two huge wooden beams, then worked around the knots to sculpt what appear to be real trees coming out of the beams. Tree --> beam --> tree --> art turned inside out. Amazing.

By the way, this is no longer a blog. It is a Pulitzer Prize winning work of creative non-fiction, soon to be optioned by Dreamworks.