Saturday, December 30, 2006

The man who is tired of London is tired of life

Well, I would have updated sooner, but we were in the sketchiest hotel of all time and it didn’t have internet (or ensuite bathrooms. or window curtains that resembled curtains rather than huge ragged muumuus), so I could not. Now we are in London, the whole family, together again, making our way through the merrie olde capital of merrie olde England.

Which involves, in our case, lots and lots and lots of hauling luggage up and down flights and flights of stairs (especially on Daddy’s part). In the sketchy hotel, we were up three flights of stairs, and if we wanted to see each other, we had to go down three flights of stairs and up three flights of different stairs, because that’s just how the building was constructed. Cruelly. With cruelty in the hearts of the builders. Now we are in a flat that is up 78 steps; and my mother and father had to carry all the luggage up by themselves because my sisters and I were off seeing a play.

(We saw Wicked. It’s Idina Menzel’s last day on the West End, and it was great fun. I’m not going to say anything about my sisters’ gullibility because I don’t want to embarrass them.)

And my mum and I went to the British Library, where they had many fantastic things and I could read the letters in secretary hand but not very well because the light was dim. And there was this tremendous Waterstone’s near the sketchy hotel; its tremendousness was incredibly tremendous and extensive. I would have appreciated it more had I not been running up and down all the stairs there (London is not wheelchair friendly!) trying to locate my father and sister; however, I am not so dead to joy as to fail to appreciate it at all, and thus it gets a mention here.

And I have a nice new copy of The Ground Beneath Her Feet (thus far my favorite Rushdie book), and I am going to go and read it. Or else watch an episode of Friends. Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Resemblance between T.S. Eliot and Cilantro

(This came to me while I was eating yummy chicken tikka something for dinner. It had cilantro in.)

I know that I love T.S. Eliot and cilantro. I love them both, in my heart, with a deep and abiding love that looks on tempests and is never shaken. But every time I return to them after an absence, I am at first disappointed. I open up my T.S. Eliot book, or I put a little piece of cilantro into my mouth, and I’m like, Hey. This isn’t that great after all. This is so much less good than I remember it being.

But then T.S. Eliot says something totally brilliant and exactly right; and then the cilantro taste that I love appears once more, even more delicious and wonderful than I could possibly have remembered it, and the world makes sense again.

(I guess that by saying that I am disappointed in the initial return to these things that I love sort of undercuts the tempests never shaken thing. Shut up.)

(I thought of this because I was eating my chicken tikka and rather late on in the chewing process of each bite, I could taste a most amazing and delightful taste that made my tastebuds sing little songs of joy, and I said, Something in this food tastes fantastic and Steve said, Cilantro? and I took another bite and said, Oh. Yeah., and Steve said, You are so predictable. He’s just jealous because he doesn’t like cilantro, so he can never know the delicious perfection of finding cilantro in a dish that would otherwise have been just ordinary.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The birthday of darling Steve, and reflections on Christmas

It is today! Hooray! Today Steve is 23 years old (GOD that’s so old!), which means he is three years older than I again and all is right with the world. When we met he was three years older than I, and it always seems weird for him to be only two years older, even though he spends more of the year that way.

Steve has a new high-powered job in computers that I do not understand — he explained it to me but computer language just baffles me so I listen sweetly and take absolutely nothing away from the conversation except that it has something to do with PHP, which I also do not understand. But it’s a good job, so yay, darling, I’m glad that on your birthday you have a pleasant computer job that you enjoy.

Today we are celebrating by having calzones (I was going to take us to Nando’s, the Portuguese restaurant, but I’m buying him a proper present instead and making calzones) and watching Jesus Camp. And having a present for Steve, which I almost bought yesterday but then I was like, naaaah, he wouldn’t want that, and I bought some other stuff for his Christmas gifts, but conversations between yesterday and today have provided a few clues that he might actually want that, so I’m going back and getting it and it will be a nice birthday present. (Steve, if you’re reading this, it’s just a big pile of poop. Reindeer poop, in keeping with the season.)

I love buying presents. Christmas is bad for me because it indulges me and I just want to buy more, and more, and more, and more presents for everyone! Because I love it so much. Whenever I am feeling glum lately, I look at my Advent calendar which only has 21, 22, 23, and 24 left to open (well, actually, it has 14, 22, 23, and 24 left, because I don’t know what went wrong but I somehow opened 21 prematurely and failed to open 14, and then 21 wouldn’t close properly, so I just decided to make 14 the stand-in for 21, as they’re the same day, just a week apart), and then I look in my closet, which is where all the presents are, and it cheers me up greatly. We have stockings, and an exciting and mysterious present for me from Uncle Jim and Aunt Gina, and the presents I have gotten for Steve, and in just a few days I’m going to be getting up early and putting all the presents out underneath the little flat Christmas tree.

I would also like to take a moment here to thank Mumsy for being such a Christmas goddess all my life. I get all choked up when I think about the wrapping extravaganza that her room becomes in the days leading up to Christmas. Plus I am going crazy with curiosity about this present from Uncle Jim and Aunt Gina, and it’s taking all my willpower not to unwrap it now and just pretend I did it on Christmas Day. So thank you, Mumsy, for hiding our presents from us until Christmas morning. I plainly am not to be trusted.

It is freezing here, finally! Steve says it’s -3 C in Colchester and Ipswich, and I am all about the coldness at Christmas. I have long-sleeved Christmassy pajamas that are dying to be worn. I went shopping yesterday and I was as happy as a clam because I did not get hot once. I was nice and cool all the time.

I saw a starling! Like in Mary Poppins! It flew into my flat by the windows and I took a picture but as soon as I got close enough to take a good picture, it flew away.

Also, I was just thinking about 101 Dalmatians, and you know the part where they come back with all the puppies and Roger says, “Why Pongo, you old rascal!” ? You know that part? Is Roger implying that Pongo has fathered all of these puppies, and is he looking upon it with approval? I mean, I think that even a young virile Dalmatian like Pongo would have difficulty producing that many offspring along the road to finding his own original fifteen puppies; but if he could manage it, I really don’t think Roger should be encouraging that behavior. I think it shows a lack of sensitivity to Perdita.

Well, this post has been all over the place. I shall pull it all together by saying that 101 Dalmatians ends at Christmastime, which I love, and today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday, Steve!

Monday, December 18, 2006

I really have to say this (though it hurts me)

Jonathan Rhys Meyers has done something completely unacceptable, which is that he has grown cheeks. I don’t know why he felt this was a good career move. Look at this picture. Or this one. Or this one. His cheeks are all hollow and barely existent, which works really brilliantly, and there’s this sense of brooding and being above it all and you know you should tread carefully with this one, cause he’s dangerous. Right? Am I right?

Well, I just watched Match Point last night, and apart from the truly appalling dialogue (but Emily Watson was cute), what really horrified me was what has happened to Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Look at this. Do you see? That hollow cheeks thing, it’s all gone. And, here, this is even worse. God, in this one, he looks just normal and you could pass him on the street and be like, Whatever, I have just walked past a normal person with no brooding and no tragic past. And even when he’s trying his best to regain that brooding superiority thing, being all edgy-looking, and honestly, for someone who has ruined himself totally, he pulls it off pretty well, even then it doesn’t quite work. See?

I’m so disappointed. It’s just a terrible mistake. Some people should never have rounded cheeks, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, you are one of them.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

My favorite movie review of all time. Ever. Seriously. Even better than the Rent ones.

It is this review of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang over at Plugged In Online, which (and God knows I quote) “bring[s] to your doorstep penetrating editorials and cutting-edge analysis of entertainment and cultural trends, along with first-run music and television reviews.”

(Hang on; just then while I was over at the About Us section of Plugged In Online, I found the most excellent thing ever in their FAQ section. You know what one of the questions is? It’s “Do you have any articles or know of good Scripture passages that can help hone my family’s media discernment skills?” I swear. It says that. That is one of their frequently asked questions. Help hone my family’s media discernment skills. You can say it’s frequently asked, Plugged In Online, but I DOUBT IT. )

Okay, back to my main point, which is about Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (le very funny flim Steve and I just watched). Here is the link to the full review, but just to give you an idea, here’s an excerpt about the Dirty Homosexual Content:

To distract police from a corpse they’re loading in the trunk, Perry grabs Harry and gives him a lingering kiss. (Harry is disgusted, however, and there’s never any hint that he’s now interested in exploring his latent homosexual feelings.)

Awright. That was my favorite part. But the whole thing’s good, really. The flim exploits is R-rating, you know. It exploits it. If only there were a higher rating for families to shun even MORE. That’d really be better.

Yeah, so Steve and I just watched this flim, and we totally failed at figuring out what was going on in advance, except I did guess what was up with the panties only I thought it was too obvious and not clever enough so I didn’t say anything to Steve, and it turned out I was right, and then I told Steve I was right but there’s no reason for him to believe me because it’s soooo easy to say it after it’s been Revealed, and I should have said it in the first place and he would have known that I was a genius.

I was going to say something else that was very funny indeed about this flim, and it would have made you all laugh, but now I’ve totally forgotten what it was. Sorry. I guess all this honing of my media discernment skills (thanks, Plugged In Online!) has distracted me to the point that I can no longer remember the (probably impious) comment I was going to make. That’s what happens when you hone your media discernment skills. (I have now written “skillers” for “skills” like six times. I have no idea what’s up with this.)

I’ll just leave you with this thought: Robert Downey Jr., presumably angry at the world for his drug issues, named his son INDIO FALCONER. Indio. Falconer. Downey. That really is the kid’s name. So if you ever think about calling your son Indio, please remember the following two things: 1) only druggies do that; and 2) Just add a G! And you’ll have the lovely, lovely, lovely name of Indigo! Indigo! Doesn’t it feel pleasing on your tongue? Innnnnnn-digo! DO NOT STEAL THAT NAME IT IS MINE.

A Spain-themed date (though not deliberately)

Yesterday Steve gave me part of my Christmas present early, which was that we would go out to dinner together at La Tasca and then go to see Pan’s Labyrinth, which was this Spanish film that was sort of a dark fairy tale and looked really nifty and I’ve been wanting to see it for ages. So it ended up being very Spanishy, but we did not think of that until afterwards.

It was one of those nights where everything just goes exactly perfectly. Like, I did something stupid when I bought my weekly bus pass, which was that I took the sheet in which you are meant to place the ticket, and I didn’t take the ticket itself because I didn’t realize there was one. I’m dumb. But then when we went into Colchester, the nice bus office people gave me another one for free! probably because they realized I was American and didn’t know any better.

The food at La Tasca was delicious, especially to two people who have been wasting away longing for spicy food or really any halfway decent restaurant food. We learned a new word, chorizo, which means sausage apparently. We each got paella (a rice dish; mine had chicken and seafood and Steve’s had chorizo), which was pretty nice, but it wasn’t spicy and we were all about the spice; so the objects of our devoted rejoicing were the patatas bravas and the pork on a skewer thing that we can’t remember the Spanish for. The patatas bravas were these potatoes cooked absolutely to total perfection and covered in a spicy tomato-based sauce that was amazingly fantastic; and the pork (although I do not eat pork usually) was equally perfect and equally sauce-covered. Every time we took a bite of one of those dishes we went Mmmmm! MMMMMMM! and were sort of like that scene in Chocolat where they’re having the feast and putting chocolate on everything. Remember that scene? That was me and Steve.

Then off to the movie, which was playing in Ipswich at six (yes, we ate dinner really early), so we had to hurry hurry to the Colchester train station, and do you know, there was a train leaving in four minutes from the time we got there? Which was perfect! And we got to the Ipswich cinema right at six, and we didn’t even miss the previews! We also didn’t miss a whole ton of ads. Loads. Thousands. Half an hour of ads, seriously. Well, almost.

Here was the thing about the flim, however. It was really good, and I liked it a lot, but it was a lot less joyous than I was somehow expecting. And I wasn’t expecting it to be that joyous, because it was one of those things where the little girl is caught up in warry events in real life and she has this rich fantasy stuff happening to her and it’s never really clear if it’s her imagination or the truth. In this case there were Fascists and guerrilla fighters. Being all scary. With lots of graphic violence. Like they cut this guy’s leg off! They just cut it right off, slice, in one swell foop (I closed my eyes for that part). And the Bad Fascist bashed this chap’s face in with a bottle (I closed my eyes for that part). And this women stuck in her knife into the Bad Fascist’s mouth and ripped it sideways so he had extra mouth (I closed my eyes for that part too). And then he took a big sip of whiskey or something, and it fell out into his ripped-up cheek and stained the bandage (I didn’t close my eyes for that part because I assumed that the guy was smart enough to tilt his head sideways when he drank the damn liquor! but he wasn’t, and it was icky).

Otherwise, very good. And the music was fantastic. But I wouldn’t take your kids to it. Alert everyone. It’s coming to the US on 29 December, I think, and if you know anyone who’s like, A pleasant children’s movie! I will take my children!, then tell them NO.

Oh, and our new Spanish word came in handy! because they used it in the flim! Chorizo! While the Bad Fascist was investigating the bag of stuff that the woman was taking away to the guerrillas, preparatory to torturing her brutally (he thought, but actually what happened was she had a knife folded up in her skirt and she folded it out and untied her hands while his back was turned and stabbed him twice and did the mouth-ripping thing), he was all, “Tobacco–Chorizo–” and I patted Steve’s arm helpfully to alert him to the use of our new vocabulary word. Sausage.

So if you’re somewhere and you see a La Tasca, hit up the patatas bravas and pork on a skewer. I liked it so much that I am yearning to return there and have pork and potatoes again. FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

If Steve and I had stayed home we’d both be dead now.

Because here’s how our dinner-planning conversations at home go.

Steve (or Jenny): I’m hungry.
Jenny (or Steve): Me too.
Steve: Are you still cheap?
Jenny: Yup. You?
Steve: Yup.
Jenny: Awright, Taco Hell it is!

And now Taco Hell is spreading e. coli through their green onions, which I don’t think occur in my cheesy bean and rice burrito or my steak quesadilla (wow, that makes me hungry to imagine), so I guess really I wouldn’t be dead, but I bet there are green onions in some of the stuff Steve gets. So even though I am craving Mexican food like a madwoman and would be totally content with even the fake fast food version of the fake American version, it’s probably best I’m here and not there, because I don’t want to die a death that could have been prevented by lower intake of green onions. That would just be silly.

I want Ninfa’s. Beans. I want Ninfa’s beans. And a burrito. Or a quesadilla and some salsa. I am making my stomach rumble with distress and dismay; I can actually make out the words “Take me home!” in its rumbly rumbling. I can. Seriously.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Jenny's Adventures in the Town of Colchester

Yesterday I bravely sallied forth into town all by myself in order to get a lot of Christmas shopping done (in fact all of it). This was very brave of me because I have only ever sallied forth into town once before, and then I was with Steve, and it was rainy and bleak and I was depressed with all the rainy bleakness so I wasn’t paying any attention whatsoever to where we were going. Colchester is a nice little town, and it was sunny and cool yesterday so I did not object to wandering around the town for a while. I only had three very serious missions to accomplish, which were my Secret Santa present and Jane Patton’s present and the library, because those have to be sorted out soonly because Jane is heading off home and Secret Santa will take place on either Wednesday or Thursday (I forget which) and my books were due at the library.

First I wandered in and out of charity shops (there are lots) and heroically didn’t buy any books although I wanted to very badly, but I knew that I had to save my money to buy presents for other people. I had no idea where anything was, but I wandered about very pleasantly anyway because I did not have anywhere specific that I really had to go to, and in this way I found lots of cool stores, including one called Traders of the East (or something like that) that was a proper headshop and made me miss Portland, and a Waterstone’s and a HMV and other nice things. And I found the library by wandering around until I saw something that looked familiar and discovering signs. Stalwartly.

This wandering business was fine for a while, because I didn’t have anything particular in mind, but ultimately it became problematic because I kept seeing things that I viewed as options for presents, and so I would go off somewhere else to look for other options, and by the time I had decided that the first option was the best one, I had no idea where that store was anymore. The box that contained the final Secret Santa gift was ripped at Woolworth’s, and I went to so many other places looking for a different one, and nobody had any. Not Debenham’s, not the electronics store, not Peanuts (well, they did, but very fancy shmancy ones), not the Co-Op Department Store, not Marks and Spencer’s–nowhere! And then I had to find my way back to Woolworth’s. And when I would go off to do price comparisons between, say, Virgin and HMV, I would find myself incapable of finding either one.

Plus on the rare occasions when I had a vague general idea of where I wanted to go (e.g., go straight down this road until it ends and then take a right), I would espy shops that looked promising and pop inside, thinking that I would just pop inside and then come back out and then continue on my way. But for one thing, all the big shops have doors on both ends, and I kept coming out the wrong side of the store and having no idea what was going on; and for another thing, when I came back out of the shop on the right side, everything looked different because I had turned around and I had been so focused on going straight that I hadn’t paid attention to which shops I was passing so I didn’t know which direction to go straight in.

However, I was wholly successful, and I bought:

1. Jane’s present
2. Secret Santa present
3. Several small things to stuff in Steve’s stocking (oo, how alliterative)
4. a tiny thing for Mum
5. a tiny thing for Bonnie
6. Eileen’s present
7. wrapping paper
8. three books for myself

In defense of the final purchase, can I just say that I was wandering around totally lost with no notion of how to get back to the bus station or find a bus stop that picked up the 78 or the 61, and I was tired and my feet hurt and I had a bunch of bags and there were all these alluring charity shops, and this one charity shop, it had books all 3 for 2, and I just wasn’t strong enough to resist. I bought Lorna Doone (which is not quiet and peaceful like Black Beauty, apparently, which is what I had always supposed, but actually swashbuckling and exciting!), The Moonstone (to be abandoned when I leave, as I already have a copy), and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (by Jeannette Winterson, about whom I have heard good things). And it was only £2 for the three of them.

And you know what’s just cruel? It’s just so cruel. At Virgin they had all of Sex and the City, all of it ever, all six seasons, for £49.99, which is a hundred American dollars, which is like a third of what they’re charging in America for the big pink set of all the seasons, and it doesn’t do me any good at all! Because it’s the wrong region! Stupid region system. WHATEVER, you big stupid region system pooface.

(I handle disappointment with grace and maturity.)

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Oh my GOD I am such a slacker!

You know what happened? No, don’t bother guessing, I’ll just tell you. I finished watching all the episodes of Heroes that have aired so far, because Bad Jane Patton got me addicted to it. And then I was like, Woohoo, I’ve watched all the episodes of Heroes that have aired so far; now it need no longer distract me from my important work on my important essays for my courses. How industrious I will be now that there are no new episodes of Heroes to distract me until late January.

But then I was like, Hm. Kate Cronin (hereafter to be referred to as Bad Kate Cronin) raved to me about a show called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I’m going to take five minutes away from working on my important essays to look this show up on Wikipedia. (The moral of this story, by the way, is that procrastination just feeds upon itself and leads to more and more and more procrastination.) So I did, and I thought it looked interesting, and the hologram chick from Serenity (a much less cheerful character than that description might imply) was in it, so I thought I’d just watch one episode, just one little episode.

And THANKS A LOT, Bad Kate Cronin, because now I am totally addicted to it too, and every time I think I should be working on my essays my brain points out that it would suck a lot less to watch Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and then I just can’t resist. Plus do you know how many episodes of this show there are to catch up on? Because I don’t! It could be INFINITE like Friends! I just don’t know! The siren call of its entertainingness could just keep going on forever!

Bad Kate Cronin and Bad Jane Patton, stop introducing me to television shows. I am way susceptible and it’s not fair. And I have work to do.

Now let me return to the heightening sexual tension between that chick and that guy, and the only hinted at but certainly not far from the surface sexual tension between that other chick and that other guy. Don’t do drugs, other guy! It’s such a mistake! She’s not going to have your babies if you do drugs! All right. Just so we’re clear on that point. And snorting coke at Studio 54 is the same thing Roy Cohn did (according to Tony Kushner, whom I trust implicitly), and I know that Studio 54 and Studio 60 are not the same thing, but there are only five numbers in between them, and you don’t want to be five numbers away from being Roy Cohn, do you? Yeah. Didn’t think so.

Friday, December 8, 2006

My dad’s better than your dad

So wait. Here’s how totally good my father is. (You’re going to be so envious.)

He was teaching this graduate course, right? It was like program and practice evaluation (yeah, I totally don’t know what that means), and my father was the teacher of it. That’s my father because he is a Mighty Teacher of Graduate Courses in Social Work. And he taught the course with such incredible skill and talent, that not only did people come up to him afterwards and tell him it was the best and most useful course they’d taken that semester, but also in the final class everyone applauded for his excellent teaching abilities.

Which is very unusual indeed, especially (I expect) in a course called Programs and Practice Evaluation. And they did that before he told them they weren’t going to have a final exam. I wish I’d been there–it sounds like the most Dead Poets’ Society thing ever. They probably all saluted him as he walked out because of his excessive awesomeness.

You might think your father’s cool, but, as I believe I have amply demonstrated, my father is cooler.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

So perhaps I won’t ever make a theatre critic

Because here is what I took away from seeing Caroline, or Change at the National Theatre:

1. I love the National Theatre. I love it so. When I realized that was where we were headed, I was transported with glee because the National Theatre is on the South Bank, and I love the South Bank, it is my most favorite bit of London (that I have seen so far). It has the National Theatre and a Foyle’s bookshop and The Space which is a performance space and people do all kinds of things there, and a modern art museum, and the London Eye and the Globe if you walk down a bit and a grassy picnic place and when I was there in July there were all kinds of people out to earn money, like these people who were painted all gray and held perfectly still and when you put money in their bowls they bowed like little machine statues, and there was a big performance of dancing and singing by a Christian group, and there was a big clown on stilts with fake long arms that would grab little children and do funny tricks (which would have scared me, but whatever), and, and, and, and all kinds of things. (Okay, this is no longer even remotely about Caroline, or Change. Let’s move on.)

2. I knew it was written by Tony Kushner, whom I love because he wrote Angels in America, and I couldn’t remember where it was set. I told Steve Lafayette at first, and then I said Shreveport, but it was actually Lake Charles. But seriously, I was like 90% right, because I remembered it began with L-A, and I knew it wasn’t Lafayette because Lafayette is different to Shreveport, and Shreveport and Lake Charles are much more like each other than they are like Lafayette. Am I right? Is that not so? Because when I explained this to Steve he laughed at me.

3. You know what they said in the play? DO YOU KNOW? They said PEE-can trees. Whatever, PEE-can trees. The word is pə-CAHN. It does not rhyme with WE can! It rhymes with, um, the Don. So if they’re going to set a play in Louisiana they should say the words right. I’m going to call up their dialect coach and have a word with her. And it will be pə-CAHN. Be prepared, Ms. (checks program) Michaela Kennen. You and me have had this date with each other from the beginning.

(Did you catch that reference to Streetcar Named Desire? Not if you saw the movie, you didn’t, because it was edited out of the script! to eliminate the possibility that anybody might have thought that Blanche wanted to be raped. And you also didn’t know about her gay husband. I actually (as you might have surmised) only said that so that I could let you know about the censorship going on behind the scenes at Warner Brothers in the fifties.)

Well, so that’s it. My reflections on Caroline, or Change in their entirety. I think my brain is too disorganized to be a theatre critic; but of course Dorothy Parker’s was too, but she was funny so everybody forgave her.

Now on to the last bit of business. I don’t see enough cute babies. I know there were those pictures of my cousins from last week, and they are very cute and I look at them to cheer me up and whatnot, but there are only three or four of them, and that’s just not enough cute babies in my world. Whenever I pass by a mum with a baby, I walk really slowly to prolong the amount of time that I will have the cute baby in my view.

And you know what I heard? I heard that a certain person over at a certain organization has a baby that is a goddess of adorability. I heard that her cuteness is the stuff of legend, and that her mum has to try very hard to pretend that she just has a normal baby, when in fact she and everyone else knows that her baby is the most perfectly adorable specimen of babyhood that has ever existed on earth. That’s what I heard.

So, you know. Just putting that out there. Not hinting at anything.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

But why is the rum gone?

Last night my flatmates and I all turned ourselves into piratey piratey pirates because it was pirate night at the Underground (it is really called Sub-Zero but why bother with that?), and it was lots of fun. The boys of the flat were lazy and did not bother very much with decking themselves out in a proper pirate fashion; one picture will really suffice to illustrate this.

But that’s fine, you make the most of what you have, and my costume would have been similarly lame if I hadn’t borrowed most of it from Steve. The boots are mine, and the pants are mine, but the shirt and the thing on my head and the eyepatch and the sword are all Steve’s. As we will see in a moment, Steve was the one of us who really took the pirate thing and ran with it. But first a moment to admire Trish’s artistic skills, which I must admit are prodigious. Here she is cutting up a piece of cardboard that previously belonged to some sort of frozen food box, and please notice how serene she looks, in the manner of St. Therese patiently carrying out a tiring duty because she knows it will Glorify The Lord:

And here are the results, which she created totally without having any sort of pattern or anything but just by examining my sword as an example and then cutting up hers similarly:

See? That’s a pretty sword-like sword (dagger-like dagger, I suppose would be more accurate). I was very impressed, and so must you all be. Here are some more piratey pictures. Flick looks very rakish and vaguely French (why else do you think she has this outrageous accent, you silly king?)

Kieran would have been totally lost without Steve and me, because I lent him that eyepatch, Steve let him cut up a blanket to create that thing on his hand, and Steve also tied his bandanna. But the scar is Elliot’s work.

And Sarah got all of her accessories from a children’s pirate kit in which everything was made out of paper, but really I think she pulls it off pretty well. She also has a little paper treasure chest with little paper pieces of gold and silver inside.

But let’s face it, Steve went the extra mile and was the best of all, and the rest of us must just bow to his genius.

I like the hat so much. It is a proper pirate hat, and although the hair is attached, Steve is going to rip the hair out and use the hat In Life, which just goes to show that we really were meant for each other. Here we are, but Steve does not have his pirate-mustache because it fell off and he hadn’t taped it back on again yet:

And here is another one of us, although I am not wearing my eyepatch because I forgot to put it on. Steve and I are both looking piratey, and in between us you may espy Elliot looking like a total lunatic. This is only because he is one.

And one more, because Steve is wearing all his pirate regalia and his jacket as well:

Last but not least, a group shot. If you look at this picture and you think, Jenny looks drunk as a lord, then you are correct; but if you (very reasonably) think that Steve is high you are mistaken on that point. In back (from left) are Flick, Trish, Sarah, me, and Steve, and Elliot and Kieran are in front.

Yes, a good time was had by all. I was going to get a rum and coke so that I could bellow WHY IS THE RUM GONE but the thing is that I do not think I like rum, whereas I am quite certain that I like vodka lemonades (which taste exactly like delicious Sprite), so I went that route instead. And I yelled WHY IS THE RUM GONE anyway. And I answered myself because I have that entire movie memorized and it is all in my head even when I am a trifle tipsy. That was how I entertained myself in my senior year English class before the nice teacher came, when we still had the crazy dumb lady who threw Jane Patton’s test paper on the ground because Jane was protesting her total failure to grade the tests with anything resembling accuracy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

An interesting thing to note about my shower room faucet

I was just in the shower room cleaning my contact lenses, and I noticed that the cold tap was a funny color, so I bent to examine it, and the ring around it is not a regular blue color, but is more of a pleasant indigo color. And I’m not sure what is meant by this. Is it meant to convey that the water that comes out of this tap is deeply, deeply cold? That the water has moved beyond mere regular coldness into a transcendent manner of being cold that is only improved upon by the taps that have violet rings around them? Maybe the British have classes of cold water taps, and the darker your ring-around-the-faucet is, the better your water is. Or, or the colder the cold-water-delivery-elves can guarantee that your water will be.

OR - why should we blame it on the Brits anyway? - maybe this is God’s way of telling me, Go ahead, Jenny, just go right ahead and give your baby the lovely name that you want to give it.

Yeah. That’s probably what it is. So there, naysayers! GOD agrees with me!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Another thing I tooootally don’t get

Steve sent me a link to a YouTube video of these women who are pitching a conservative political satire TV show (I’m not linking to it here because I watched two videos of it and it made me want to die because it was totally not even remotely funny, and seriously, it’s way easy to make me laugh), and these were the comments that were on the page:

no2hillaryc (4 days ago)
I think I’m in love. These women are brilliant, beautiful and have brains in their heads
tessgoesblonde (4 days ago)
Love this
colourin (4 days ago)
What I’m really saying is, for this to be funny, you have to make it cleverer. Give the audience some credit, let them work rather than just throwing obvious stuff at them, they can handle it. It’s a sign of respect for them and they will respect you for it, no matter what the message behind your humour is.
racecardrivez (4 days ago)
Great looking redhead. Yum.
TraditionalAmerican (1 day ago)
Keep up the good work.
tvengr4047 (1 day ago)
Looking forward to the next episode! All of you, keep up the great work!
newadam (1 day ago)
I’d fuk ‘um
jackdboston (22 hours ago)
This is hilarious! What do we have to do to get this on TV? When will conservatives have a program we can finally watch?

Okay. Right. Plainly moderating their comments, because I promise you it’s not hilarious. Also I checked it out on metafilter, and yes, they are moderating comments and letting only nice stuff in. Okay, but here’s the thing. They don’t let in, You are really not funny at all but actually pretty lame, but they let in, I’d fuk ‘um? Seriously? Is this the message they reeeeeally want to put across?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Okay, here’s what I don’t get about The Wizard of Oz

So Dorothy drops a house on the Wicked Witch, and everyone has a big celebration, and Glinda’s all, Dee dee dee dee dee, isn’t everything merry, and then comes the other Wicked Witch, and Glinda’s like, Oh, yeah, forgot to tell you, there’s another wicked witch and now she hates you forever. Why doesn’t Glinda grab Dorothy the minute she gets there with the bubble and say, “Run away! Do the yellow brick road see the Wizard thing and we will handle the inevitable fallout that has resulted from this twister business!” and then just blame the Munchkins because (as she says) the Wicked Witch has no power in Munchkinland. Why doesn’t she do that?

And then the other thing, right? There’s these shoes that the Wicked Witch really extra super wants, and Glinda gives them straight to Dorothy right in front of the Wicked Witch so there won’t be any confusion about what happened to them? And then the Wicked Witch leaves in a big puff of smoke and Glinda says to Dorothy, I’m afraid you’ve made rather a bad enemy of the Wicked Witch.

If that had been me, I’d've been like, Look, BITCH. I’d've been like, I made a bad enemy of the Wicked Witch, I made a bad enemy? It wasn’t the one of us who has ever been here before and has any notion about the Wicked Witch whatsoever? It wasn’t the one who STOLE HER SISTER’S SHOES and put them on MY feet without, can I just say, even ASKING me about it? I’d've probably teamed up with the Wicked Witch and destroyed all of Oz with a mighty red smoky terror, just to get back at Glinda for being such a twittery twit.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

They have magical libraries here

No, they seriously do. I’m so not even kidding. Steve took me to the Colchester library yesterday and I got a library card so that I could check out a child’s book to cheer me up, and you know how they check out books there, DO YOU KNOW? It’s magic. You do it all yourself. You press a button and swipe your card and then you put your books in a pile on the wooden scale thing, and the machine magically knows what books you have! It’s true! Because it’s magic! It pulls it up on the little computer screen, and it’s all like, Blah blah blah, these two books are now checked out to you, or whatever it says. AND it prints out a little receipt telling you what you’ve taken out and when it’s due, which seems like a tiny bit of a waste of paper but who cares? It’s magic! Magical magic! The Colchester library is magical!

*sings a little magic ditty*

I can't handle anything this complicated

BAH. I went into the bathroom today, and the light was turned on. Instead of off! It’s always turned off! And then when I enter the bathroom I turn the light ON! That is the pattern! DEVIANCE WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

It’s very confusing because my brain says: Here we are in a particular room. It is customary to change the light situation when we enter this room. Why don’t you reach up your hand and turn on the light so that we can see what is going on here? Here is the little pull-string. Pull it. AAAAAAAAA WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WHY IS IT DARK AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA FIX IT FIX IT FIX IT FIX IT

Stupid brain. Telling me all the wrong things. Hmph.

(I am procrastinating on another paper. Can you tell?)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hmph. Why am I in England when there are cousins at home?

So I missed Thanksgiving with my family. Whatever. Here are the babies I did not see, in age order:

1. Joseph
2. Ryleigh
3. Emma (born on my birthday!)
4. Catherine
5. Kaitlyn

About these latter two babies I am not sure of spelling because nobody has informed me. (My family is nice but not very good at communicating; for instance, I did not know that Robyn had gotten a job at Semolina’s, and most of my extended family did not know that I was in England. And really, it’s just a coincidence that anybody let me know that my cousin Stacey was pregnant, because usually my sisters and I find out weeks later when Aunt Becky comes over and mentions it and we’re all like WHAT? SOMEBODY IS PREGNANT? YOU MEAN MORE BABIES? WOO-HOO! and my parents are like, Oh, we told you that! but actually they never did.)

Can I just repeat that? Stacey is pregnant! I mean, you can’t tell really, but I promise, she’s pregnant. Babies! Babies! Babies! How I love ‘em!

At Stacey’s wedding she was very beautiful and the fountain overflowed before she came down and we mopped it up with a lot of towels, and we were promised pictures of this phenomenon but have never beheld any.

I have lots of cousins and I did not see any of them. Robyn took some pictures, which is why this picture of Becca Lee with a mustache is captured on film:

I was going to crop that one more, but I couldn’t bear to because out the window you can see Uncle Don taking a picture of someone else, and Uncle Don is funny. He is also very relieved because the new babies (at least Ryleigh and Kaitlyn) like to have their pictures taken, and Ryleigh poses cutely for the camera. He looks forward to a new generation of camera-loving children, because me and my cousins were absolutely dreadful about having our pictures taken. We would shriek MR CAMERA MAN and run away very fast and hide. I will do my level best to teach my new baby cousins that cameras are joyous friendly things and having one’s picture taken is the best possible good they can hope for in their young lives.

Here is Emma with her mum (my cousin Nichole). She is cute and she was born on my birthday, and I like the name Emma.

And here is my Uncle Wayne with one of his three grandchildren. When his first grandchild was born, Uncle Wayne became the most besotted grandfather ever, which was funny because Uncle Wayne is hardcore, he doesn’t mess around, he cleans rifles when his daughters bring round boyfriends and offers to come break kneecaps of people who haven’t been behaving right towards his nieces. Now there are three grandchildren, and it is my suspicion that Uncle Wayne’s whole brain might just explode with glee.

That is baby Kaitlyn. Uncle Wayne is tickling her, and when Robyn sent me this picture it was so cute I didn’t know what to say.

Robyn got fewer pictures of baby Catherine, I think because baby Catherine stayed inside and hung out with Mom Reiners, so this one is not as clear, but here is baby Catherine, and she is a dear little chubby thing.

And here is my mum with baby Kaitlyn. From what I have heard, my mother was an enormous baby hog. Apparently she would seize babies from everybody who had a baby and then run away outside like a greedy, greedy woman and keep the babies all to herself. Here she is outside with a baby whom–let’s face it–she has probably snatched from a weeping Mom Reiners.

And these two pictures I have saved for last because they are my most favorites of the ones Robyn took, and I think I’m just going to use them as my desktop wallpaper on alternate months for the rest of my life.

Aunt Becky is as happy as a clam because she has not one, not two, but THREEEEEEE babies to cuddle! (Okay, Joseph is not a baby, as you can tell from his extremely cute–er, I mean grown-up–belt. He did, however, just recently notice that baby Catherine is missing something, and he was totally horrified apparently: WHERE IS HER PENIS?)

Okay. Are you ready for this much cuteness? I’m really not sure that you are. Because this is mighty cute. Here is my uncle Karl with baby Kaitlyn, and it is the cutest picture of a baby ever.

I told you! Didn't I tell you? Did I say I had the cutest baby picture ever? Wasn't I TOTALLY RIGHT?

Edit: I have the names all sorted now, unless my Mumsy is mistaken. I’m glad baby Catherine is not Kathryn because then she would be very much like Kaitlyn. I commend my cousin Stephanie for choosing the best spelling of a very pretty name for her dear little baby. I should never have trusted Robyn’s spelling of Kathryn; she also spelt Kaitlyn Katelynn because she has a friend called Katelynn. I don’t know why that didn’t clue me in that Robyn is not to be trusted.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Registration, and the Sims

I went round to the Health Centre to register today, and I waited for ages and ages and finally it was my turn and I started to go into the room of the next available doctor, but he gave me a very discouraging look and said, Let me finish a few things first! because I must have known that one was to wait before entering although every single person who had gone before me had not waited and I had no reason to suppose that waiting was in any way necessary, bother them. He looked proper fussy, too. But while I was waiting a very nice lady asked me to come into her office because it was now available, and so I did not have to go chat with the fussy bearded gentleman who–for all we know!–could actually have been Satan in disguise.

But the nurse was very sweet and she was delighted by my accurate knowledge of my vaccination dates. She said, “You are the first–very first–person who has come in with all of their proper vaccination dates.” I explained that it was not I but my mother, and she looked at me with great contentment and said, “Well, you must tell her that I love her!”

(Quite rightly.)

Last night I discovered that Lovely Flatmate Trish is a Sims addict! Like I once was! We had a merry chat about the fun games we used to play with our Sims, like the one where Mortimer would hit on his daughter Cassandra in my truly and inexplicably bizarre Goth family, and the one where we would talk to our real-life siblings in Simlish BECAUSE WE COULD (”Deesh vrow is vrenijay! An een robitushnash ana eestoffagan–jeetow nani!”), and the one where we would make a whole family of mean people who were so tidy that they clapped their wee Sim hands every time they flushed the toilet and then eventually we got sick of everyone fighting all the time and walled them up in individual brick enclosures with no toilet and no shower (and did that ever piss them off, those evil tidy Sim bastards!) and no food and no bed so they cried all the time and wet themselves and had no place to sleep and nothing to eat and nobody to talk to and then eventually they just died. (Yeah, that was a good one.)

Apparently Trish’s mum was always fussing at Trish and her sister for wasting all their time with a stupid game, but then one evening they told her to try it and the next morning she was still at it. Apparently she loves making more and more and more babies (she must be mad; I hated having the stupid babies–it was grand when it was all clapping siblings and daffodils, but NOBODY SLEPT and then everyone died and then the social worker came and took that poor baby away from us). Apparently she gets very cross if, and I quote, the mum and dad make woo-woo and don’t have a baby.

So I’ll just leave you with that thought.

…and helping old ladies across the street / Even if they didn’t wanna go

In Tesco I did a Good Deed, which was to retrieve a shopping list that had fallen on the floor and give it back to the old lady who had dropped it. She said, “Oh! Oh my! Thank you! That’s my shopping list. How very kind. You’re a good gel.”

Old people in England love me. I suspect it is because English people don’t like the elderly (but I do!).

Ha, ha, ha. I’m a good gel.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

To be in England now that Thanksgiving's here

I went into the kitchen this morning and said Happy Thanksgiving to my flatmates, and after a while Sarah said that she and Trish had been talking about Thanksgiving and me, and Trish had said, “Should we give her a card that says ‘Thanks’? Is that what they do?”

What I am thankful for

Bourbon creams, because they are
a) chocolate
b) tasty
c) cheap
d) not to Steve’s taste so I have them all to myself

the fact that my flatmates are nice and relatively sane

the fact that my family are coming to see me in a little over a month

libraries, which prevent me from buying books all the time every day in vast quantities

calzones, which make enough food for two meals

cheese (yum!)

being able to eat peanuts (although of course I would rather be with you and be peanut-deprived, Robyn, my angel)

the existence of Pirates of the Caribbean. Thank you, Gore Verbinski (I always want to write Gore Vidal).

my upcoming Mental Health Day

the Democrats’ gaining control of Congress

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ben Jonson is a big pile of poop

I can’t decide whether or not this is reasonable crankiness. I think it’s unreasonable, because it is not Ben Jonson’s fault, and he probably never intended to inflict his elaborate compliment upon innocent schoolchildren. But my paper is not going very swimmingly. On the contrary, it is going so badly that I am constantly making up new reasons to hold off on writing it. For instance, writing a Very Important post in my blog. And finishing the chapter of my book to see if the married-but-unhappy Catholic girl would succumb to the advances of the non-husband artist bloke. And updating my away message every two minutes, so that the scads of people who were following the progress of my paper with interest would not be in any doubt as to exactly where I had got to:

Paper update: I was trying to use “bounty” as the noun form of “bounteous”, but it just kept on meaning “reward”, so I changed it to “plenty” and did a thesaurus search that brought up (among other things) “abundance”, “copiousness”, and “profusion”, and it seems perfectly okay to take out my original word “bounty” and substitute “copious profusion of abundance”. Don’t you think?

Word count: 1683.

(It looks much more like a copious profusion of abundance of words if I put in a comma, so 1,683.)

Paper update: I just wrote “posterior” for “prosperity”. I may be losing my mind.

Word count: 1,690

I didn’t keep that up for very long because it felt too much like actually doing my paper, so instead I did the following other useful things: thought of songs that I could put on a mix CD in case I decided to make a mix CD for someone I liked; checked the news to see what the scoop was on OJ Simpson and his vile confession–er, I mean book; made a very thorough mental rebuttal to Kieran’s argument that innocent people with nothing to hide need not have any objection to compulsory carrying of ID cards issued by the British government; checked to see whether my music was audible in the hallway (it was); investigated the seating chart of the theatre where Caroline, or Change is playing so I would know what kind of seats Steve and I were going to have; stared at my room hopelessly willing it to get clean without my having to do anything about it; and worried for five minutes that I was becoming a slattern like the Catholic girl in my book (I read the first book in the series, in which the heroine is in a convent school being scrupulous, and then the library hadn’t got the second one so I got the third one and the heroine’s name had changed! and she had become an actress! so I have no idea what happened in the thrilling second installment).

Word count: 2,468.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Reflections upon my Early Modern Culture class

In the first place, it is way too far away. If we pretend that my dorm is Maine, then my Early Modern Culture class is, like, New Zealand. It’s so far away, and now that it’s cold and windy and nasty, it’s no fun to go toddling all the way out to the Constable building (that’s what it’s called) every Friday afternoon. I will agree that the lakes I walk past to get there are very pretty, and there are coots and crows and ducks with green heads and gooses, and they are scenic and whatnot, but you know what they do?

They poop. Everywhere. All over the sidewalk upon which I must walk to get to my Early Modern Culture class. I am kind of inclined to blame the geese, because at home I live near a lake, and there are coots and ducks there (but not really any geese) and I am not constantly dodging poop when I go walking around the lake. Whereas this sidewalk is covered with goose shit. It is so covered in goose shit that the administration has acknowledged it by putting up a little thing with brushes that you can scrape your shoes off on. This contraption is, unfortunately, located at the start of the walk out to the Constable building and not the end, and it does not prevent me from having shit on my shoes all during class.

And that’s the other thing. The Constable building must be home to the Asian Studies department or something because it is always full of East Asian people, and they are always chattering away to each other, and every time I hear someone say “Hao-bu-hao?” or something that I understand (like numbers. Or “kitten”. Or “swimming pool”), I get way excited and I want to dash over to them shrieking, I KNOW WHAT YOU JUST SAID! YOU SAID SOMETHING SOMETHING SOMETHING KITTEN SOMETHING SOMETHING! I TOTALLY SPEAK CHINESE! and I never can. Because that would be weird.

I always try to harden my heart before I go to Early Modern Culture, so that I will not be swayed by how sad my professor looks when no one will answer his questions, but I just can’t do it. If he didn’t say things like, “These last few weeks we will be studying gender, um, starting with the Queen herself of course, and then the aristocratic ladies, all the way down to the–the more common women, and indeed we will be reading a play about a–well, you know, a p-prostitute” and “Here on the map you see the salters and the goldsmiths. (Pause.) Goldsmith! This relates to our play! Touchstone in our play was a goldsmith! Eh? Yeah? Remember?” then I might be capable of it; the thing is, he does say things like that. And he bounces up and down. So by the one-hour mark he has always broken me down and I am answering every second question with not-very-smart-at-all answers so that he will cease to gaze hopelessly at my class saying, “Anybody? Please?”

And now I must write le paper.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

If you have QuickTime and you want to see Jon Stewart in an army helmet and mocking Rumsfeld

then I have good news for you.

Because here he is.

As usual, the best bits of this clip are at the end, but it’s really very well worth it. I love Jon Stewart. I love him. Love, love, love.

My flatmates and I are not that subtle

It was Holly’s birthday last night (she is the fifth one down) — first birthday in our flat! — and Kieran and Elliot bought her a chocolate sponge cake, which you may see in all its glory, and at first we were going to take her out on the town or something, but she already had plans, so we just had the cake and we had to make the most of it.

The plan was this: We would lure her out into the kitchen, where all the lights would be out except for the flickering candles on the birthday cake, and then she would come in and we would all burst into a merry chorus of “Happy Birthday to You”, and she would be very surprised indeed because she would not have suspected a thing.

So we lit the candles, thus:

And we came up with an ingenious plan (I just wrote “ingenius”, which frankly is a better description of it) to lure her into the kitchen, which is that Sarah would trot round to her room and tell her there was someone at the door for her, and Holly would come out and you remember the rest about the merry chorus and the surprise. We were even clever enough to have Ed ring the doorbell of the flat, in case Holly was listening closely and suspiciously. So off Sarah went, and we lit all the candles and turned out the light and waited, shivering in aaaaaaaantici………

But then Sarah came back out alone and said that Holly said she’d be out in five minutes.

Which we should have expected because Holly takes ages to get ready for anything.

And the candles burned down with surprising rapidity and made little puddles of wax upon the cake, which I still maintain is not a problem because wax is totally edible. Anyway I think it is. I am sure nobody ever took harm from eating wax on a birthday cake, unless the wax or the cake was laced with arsenic or some similarly unpleasant substance. But of course the candles were burning down, and we only had the ones that were on the cake plus four spare ones, and Holly was going to be longer than five minutes, but if we blew out the candles we’d have to relight them when Holly came out, and we would not have enough notice and she’d come out in the middle of us frantically lighting candles, although Kieran was sure he could light them fast enough using this method:

So I said I’d go and wait in the hall and scream loudly when Holly emerged (as if she had frightened me) and distract her by talking to her in the hall for a really long time, and that would give them ample opportunity to prepare everything. I even had the clever idea of standing in my doorway (my room is next to Holly’s) and, when I heard her door opening, pretending that I was just closing my door to go out into the hall and being very surprised indeed to find that she was coming out into the hall at the same moment. Which you must admit is absolute genius.

But the best-laid plans of mice and men, etc, etc, and Holly opened her door and I quickly began to shut mine so that I might turn round to face the hall at just the right moment, but then she did not come out of her door and I foolishly leaned over to see whether it was actually open (it was), and then she came out and I looked dumb and I could not scream and pretend I was frightened but just had to shriek, “Holly!” in accents of joy and then talk to her for a very long time about her friend who was waiting for her but might have left by now and he was tall (”Tall?” said Holly, looking bewildered) and had brown hair (”Asian?” proposed Holly, and I did not agree with her like a good phone psychic but said, Nooooo and caused her even more bewilderment and it was totally unsmooth), and at last I said, “Well, you can just go see if he’s still in there” and fled in embarrassment.

Despite all of these dreadful setbacks, I think the whole thing went off rather well.

And the cake was very tasty. I had it right before my delicious dinner calzone, which spilled a lot all over the oven because we put two calzones on one tray and the tray was definitely not big enough, but it cooked much better than on previous attempts.

Steve looks very cute in his suit, but I did not take a very good picture of him; this one doesn’t include his legs and he looks a bit oddly-shaped and he is making a silly face.

That really has nothing to do with anything. He wasn’t even wearing it the same day as Holly’s birthday. I just wanted to let all of you know that Steve has it in him to be a young urban professional with a briefcase and a yearly subway pass, and you might not have known this about Steve.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I wanted to create a whole new category to put this post in, and I would call it, Very Reasonable Crankiness Indeed! because I think I am thoroughly justified in overthrowing God and all the saints after what has happened. And now I will relate it to you.

Last night I did a thing that wasn’t terribly smart, which was to give my best shot at opening the door and walking through it simultaneously. If this had worked, it would have been an absolutely prodigious display of smoothness and grace; but actually what happened was I walked straight into the door with my face, and all around my eye puffed up a lot (but there was no one around to see), and I thought: Oh well, I will have a really magnificent bruise in the morning. That’s what I thought.

But did I? No. I do not have a bruise this morning. Not even vague discoloration, so I can’t even corner people and force them to stare really hard at my eye until they notice the slightly purple tinge to it. It is totally normal looking. It makes me angry because MY FACE HURTS, and people should know about it. Damn it.

On a cheerier topic, Steve and I had a nice dinner last night at the home of a nice Irish girl he carried groceries for and her friends. (That sentence did not work out as well as I think it might have.) She said “youze” and other Irish things, and her Irish friend, upon hearing that I was interested in Oscar Wilde, said, “Bit of a batty boy, wasn’t he?” and although I did not know what that meant, it is usually pretty safe to assume, when you mention Oscar Wilde to people and they say he was a something you do not catch or do not understand, that the something means Gay Gay Gay Gay Gay. And I was quite right.

Also, here is an Interesting Fact for you: Lithuanians have a very bad reputation in Ireland. They are supposed to be shiftless and lazy, in sharp contrast to the Poles, who are hard-working upright citizens whom Ireland is glad to have immigrate to them. It’s true. All three of the Irish people present confirmed this.

Also, do not tell Irish people that you are Irish (I didn’t because I knew better). They do not like it. People in Britain do not want people in America to have European ancestors, even though that is in many cases inevitable.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The reason I would like to be a theatre reviewer

Dorothy Parker.

It appears that his boyhood sweetheart, Sally - called, by Mr. Louis Calhern, who has gone British or something, “Selly,” just as he says, and as yearningly, “heppy” - had used to occupy the adjoining room, and he had had a nasty habit of tapping on the wall between, to communicate with her. The code was not essentially difficult. There was one tap for “a”, two for “b”, and so on. I ask you, kind reader, but to bear this in mind for rougher times…

The cabinet minister talks softly and embarrassingly to Sally - ”Ah, Selly, Selly, Selly” - but this is not enough. He must tap out to her, on the garden wall, his message, though she is right beside him. First he taps, and at the length it would take, the letter “I”. Then he goes on to “l”, and, though surely everyone in the audience has caught the idea, he carries through to “o”. “Oh, he’s not going on into ‘v’,” I told myself. “Even Milne wouldn’t do that to you.” But he did. He tapped on through “v”, and then did an “e”. “If he does ‘y’,” I thought, “I’m through.” And he did. So I shot myself.

It was, unhappily, a nothing - oh, a mere scratch - and I was able to sit up and watch that dream go on through all the expected stages.

Etc, etc. Dorothy Parker is so cool.

Update: Dorothy Parker continues to be cool and I love reading her reviews. She says this in her review of a novel by Mussolini:

If only I had a private income, I would drop everything right now, and devote the scant remainder of my days to teasing the Dictator of All Italy…Indeed, my dream-life is largely made up of scenes in which I say to him, "Oh, Il Duce yourself, you big stiff," and thus leave him crushed to a pulp…

Weak though the ordeal has left me, I shall never be the one to grudge the time and effort I put into my attempts at reading The Cardinal’s Mistress. The book has considerably enlarged that dream-life I was telling you about a few minutes ago. It has broadened now to admit that scene in which I tell Mussolini, "And what’s more, you can’t even write a book that anyone could read. You old Duce, you." You can see for yourself how flat that would leave him.

False religion tolerates immoral sex.

Just wanted to let you know.

My official celebration post

Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

Rumsfeld resigned! Hurrah!

The Democrats won back the House! Hurrah!

The Democrats won back the Senate! Hurrah!

I am very, very, very, very, very happy. When I discovered that we had got back both houses of Congress (at that point we hadn’t but I am dumb and misunderstood a headline), I made a very loud FUCK YEAH noise in the middle of a crowded London Tube Station and then continued to be a spectacle of hugging-Steve bouncing squealing joy all the way through London. Yay!

My official favorite headline from Wednesday: Democrats “have a little list” of investigations. Hahahahahahah.

Downer: They banned gay marriage in eleven states. Nor will it be doing the country any good for the Democrats to try to push through gay marriage now that they have a majority (which they wouldn’t do anyway because a bunch of them don’t like the gays either), which means we have to wait until later to do that.

Anyway: Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

A series of unrelated and very useless thoughts for the day

1. Presents. It is so uncool when people say “I have something for you!” in that coy secretive tone of voice; because I always get super-excited and my brain explodes with joy, like, Woohoo, it’s that amazing thing I’ve been wanting for years and years and years! and then the other person is like, It’s a LOLLIPOP! With GUM inside! and it’s a total letdown. Yesterday I was heading back to my room and my flatmates said that Steve had been by and left something for me, and I was way excited, and actually he had just returned my reuseable Tesco bags and a hanger he had borrowed and hung them on my door. That is why when I have something for someone, I try to lower their expectations early so that they will be pleasantly surprised rather than let down.

2. Gooses poop a lot. All over the grass. So that we cannot walk across the pretty grounds at the university but must confine ourselves to the paved paths. They poop so much that there are little poop-scraper things hanging out at the edges of the lake in a couple of places. Stupid gooses.
2a. I have entirely stopped saying “geese”. Gooses is a better plural. Join me, comrades.

3. General Woundwort gives the guy who checks to make sure you are not stealing books from the library the willies. If you do not know what I am talking about, then you have clearly disregarded my instructions about what books to read.

4. When I was trying, on Wednesday, to ascertain the election results by turning my head sideways to read the headlines on other people’s papers, I much more easily discovered that Britney Spears had broken up with her husband by text message. This does not speak well of you, world.

5. I thought I knew what “lame duck” meant but I did not. I am dumb. Don’t speak to the dumb girl, she is dumb.

Me = Salieri

I am totally not cool with Idina Menzel anymore. She’s on notice. You know why? Because she makes me feel bad about myself. Because Steve and I, we went to London, and we got day seats to Wicked, which meant that we got to sit in the very front row of the whole theatre and see the show from there. And I don’t know how you feel about sitting in the very front row at shows, but I think it is fantastic, because I am all about seeing people’s faces, and in case you were wondering, Wicked is way much better from very close up even though you do have to tilt your head way back in order to see parts of what’s going on. Idina Menzel is also much better from very close up. She is. It’s true. And that is why I have categorized this as “Hurrah” even though it is a cranky post.

Anyway, returning to the reason Idina Menzel is on notice, she had a cold. I know this because she kept sniffling and coughing, and because during “Defying Gravity” she had to cut off one of the notes she usually holds out for a very long time because her voice broke (but she totally played it off really well and Steve didn’t even notice), and because now she is being understudied, and actually Steve and I saw the last show that she was in straight through before the understudy had to come on for her. The woman had a cold. But could you tell when she was singing? No, you could not. Because did she still have the most tremendous voice ever? Yes, she did.

I’m going to pretend (and it’s partly true) that I am cross because Idina Menzel has this amazing voice and she smokes and ultimately will ruin it. Actually I am just jealous because when I have a cold, I cannot produce music with my voice and in fact I just make a horrendous noise, and I cannot sing nearly as well as Idina Menzel with a cold when I do not have a cold. And that’s why Idina Menzel and I are not friends anymore.


Also: There was a guy in the play who had on a skirt during “Dancing Through Life”. And he kept coming back on stage in different costumes, like he wanted us all to forget that he had been wearing a skirt before, but let’s face it, you skirt-wearing degenerate, MY MEMORY IS NOT THAT SHORT. I gave him a significant look to let him know that he may have fooled the people sitting far away by coming on in a new costume, but I remembered that black and white skirt affair, and I was not going to let it slide so easily.

Monday, November 6, 2006

My day so far

Steve has a flat, a lovely flat now, and today we went to see it and get him moved in. His room is very tiny, but his flatmates seem nice, and there is a spacious sitting area in the downstairs part, and also he has a nice window overlooking the garden and a shelf in the refrigerator all to himself.

Liz his flatmate took us round to see the landlady (actually not the landlady but only the landlord’s agent), and she, the landlord’s agent, she is fantastic. She chuckled when Steve spelled and pronounced his last name for her and told us that she had some French relatives but didn’t speak a word although her middle name was someone’s maiden name and it was French and she always had cringed when asked to spell it in primary school because she wanted a nice normal middle name like everyone else. When she went away to let Steve read over his tenant agreement, I investigated her bookshelves, because I am that kind of person, and I discovered that she had:

1) Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
2) all of James Herriot’s books
3) an old edition of I Capture the Castle, which means she liked it before it was In to like it because of JK Rowling (unlike me)
4) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
5) Watership Down
6) Joan Baez records
7) some other books I like but now can’t remember

And furthermore she had a dulcimer, a banjo, and a mandolin hanging upon her wall; and furthermore she apparently teaches art classes and guitar classes.

So Steve and I both wanted to be her best friend, but Liz had somewhere to be so we could not engage in a nice long conversation with her but had to hurry along and get things signed and settled. However, Steve and I are going to make her cookies so that she will know that we love her and want to be her best friend.

I also want to be this town’s best friend, because it is the best place ever. While we were in it today, we espied a little dog wandering along the road eating nasty things and being very cute but stray, and it even had a collar with a number to call (but nobody was home). A nice old man came and helped us by telling us that we should take it round to the Playing Fields, where at least it would not get hit by a car, and then he went with us to show us, and he asked had we heard about the earthquake?

No, we hadn’t.

He was very surprised that we hadn’t heard about the earthquake. It was a very famous earthquake, and it had happened right here in Wivenhoe, not so very long ago. 1884. He once knew a woman (now deceased) who had experienced this Very Famous Wivenhoe Earthquake. He had spoken to her about it. He supposed we had not been in Wivenhoe very long or we should have heard about the earthquake that was there. Wikipedia (the Way, the Truth, and the Light, verily I say unto ye) knows about it: see?

And we took little Digger (for that was the dog’s name) to the Playing Fields–Steve carried him very gingerly because he was afraid that he would pee on him–and I rang up the owner again to let them know, and we waited around for a moment to see if someone would come and claim him, for we had done all we could do, and do you know what? Someone did!

Digger was frisking near a baby carriage, and suddenly there was a tremendous whistle, and a bloke came running up and seized Digger with a joyful seizing and rejoiced that he had been recovered, and the nice old man who knew about the big earthquake explained to him that he should be very very grateful to this young couple here, without whom Digger would certainly have been roadkill (exaggeration), and the man was grateful, and the old man was grateful, and we were grateful, and it was a joyous fest of gratitude.

Hooray! We were dog-savers!

After which we wandered around some more and saw the following exciting things:

1) a little bookshop with handmade hats that did not look good on me and a red couch for sitting and reading on
2) a wharf with rowboats, which Steve wanted one of
3) two swans that were very beautiful and I knew that they were the property of the Crown
4) several nice pubs
5) a weatherbeaten sort of man with a hat and a beard riding upon a motor-and-pedalling-powered tricycle thing. I said, My dad would offer that guy fifty thousand pounds for that vehicle, and while I was saying this Steve was going, Did you see that guy? Did you see that guy? Did you see that guy? and I said that I had (obviously), and Steve said, Did you see his hat? Did you see his beard? He’s a sailor! That’s what sailors look like! and he was very excited.
6) a Co-Op grocery store with tasty samosas and spring rolls (but not as good as the ones from that place and Diwen’s mother’s, respectively)

And when I got home my mum had sent me my comfy blue pajama pants! And a letter! And I had Oreos! And soon Steve will come back over here and I will make calzones! And we saved a dog! What a marvellous day! Clever Steve for living in lovely Wivenhoe! (You can read what he thinks about it here.)

Sunday, November 5, 2006

This goes a long way towards inspiring forgiveness

My wonderful mum sent me a wonderful parcel of cereal and cookies and mac and cheese for darling Jane, and I’ve just noticed that the box she sent it in used to be my nemesis box when I worked at Book Boulevard, because it is box K10, Krentz - Krentz, which means that Jayne Ann Krentz has brought me joy.

This is a circumstance I never expected because when I was working at Book Boulevard, I had the job of unpacking all the boxes of books and putting them into alphabetical order. They were already roughly ordered, but I had to do it properly, and then I had to move the books from the party barn where I was alphabetizing them into the house where they were stored on shelves. And because we were not clever enough to remember all the pseudonyms that the various authors used, the general policy was to shelve the books under the author name that was written on the book.

Before Jayne Ann Krentz, this wasn’t much of a problem. I came across a few books that were out of place, but I just gently went into the house and moved the books a little bit, and shelved them properly. But Jayne Ann Krentz, Jayne Ann Krentz, she was a horse of a different color, because we had so many books by Jayne Ann Krentz. Several entire boxes that were just full of Jayne Ann Krentz books, except that a good half of them were actually written by Stephanie James.

And do you know what that meant? It meant I had to go all the way back to J (and yes, it could have been worse, but there were a lot of books in between James and Krentz) and take all the books and move them forward enough spaces that I could fit in all these stupid Stephanie James books. I even wrote an angry doggeral pome about it as follows:

Jayne Ann Krentz, you prolific something bitch,
Your Krentz-authored books sold with nary a hitch.
Why then do you write under Stephanie James?
God spare me from novelists using false names!

(I can’t remember what the other adjective was, but if I do I’ll keep you posted. It had four syllables, so it scanned. Don’t think I can’t scan things, because I totally can.)

Well, anyway, now Jayne Ann Krentz’s existence has made it possible for me to have Oreos and Life Cereal, and that causeth me to rejoice in my soul.

Why Steve has the makings of a master chef and I do not

We made pancakes yesterday, and of course when I say “we” I mean Steve totally by himself. I mean, I helped mix the ingredients, which I am simply fantastic at as long as you supervise me closely and do helpful things occasionally, such as taking the baking soda out of my hand and replacing it with baking powder, or telling me gently that we cannot use regular milk when it calls for buttermilk, nope, because they are not the same thing and it will make our pancakes taste funny. I also like to crack eggs. I just do not like the part where you have to take all the pretty batter you’ve concocted and pour it onto a pan. (I don’t like this with cakes and cookies, either, which is why I do not bake.)

So the actual Creation of the Pancakes was left wholly up to Steve, although I did run to check things out on the internet when we found out that we were messing up our pancakes horrendously. The first few burned on the outsides and did not cook straight through and moreover they were scrawny and strange-looking, and although they did not taste totally vile, I was a little leery of consuming them lest we get salmonella from the egg (but I did anyway).

Furthermore, some of my British flatmates were around, and I had been hoping to inspire them with amazement and awe for the yumminess of American pancakes, causing them to forsake their own pancakes (which, let’s just face it, are actually crepes) forever. Instead of this they searched around for something tactful to say and eventually they said, “American pancakes are fatter, right?”

With more desperation than conviction, I said, “These ones are not fat at all compared to the way they’re meant to be! They are so fat usually! Fat and delicious! They are plump and fluffy, and you pour maple syrup atop them! They are not usually burned like this! They are pleasantly browned and fluffy and plump!” My flatmates did not stick around hoping to be fortunate enough to get one of our pancakes, and they probably (as they fled to their rooms) shook their heads sadly over the tragic delusions harbored by their mad American flatmate.

Steve, however, was very stalwart, and he ultimately discovered that by keeping the burner at medium heat and putting in not very much oil at all, he could produce nice normal plump fluffy yummy American pancakes. By this time we had filled ourselves up eating charred salmonella-filled ones, so we had to put them in the refrigerator for another day, but it was a pleasant triumphant moment for dear Steve in his capacity as master chef. It is also one that I would never have experienced, because as soon as the first two pancakes came out charred, I would have been cast into despair and thrown the whole lot of batter away with hatred and bitterness in my heart for the accursed waste of money and time, and I would have eaten cornflakes instead, which are much less tasty even than charred salmonella-filled pancakes.

Anyway, the moral of this story is that pancakes are not as easy as you might think, and I regret very deeply every time that my dear sister Robyn made pancakes while I still lived at home and I failed to avail myself of their freely offered deliciousness.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006


The Jehovah’s Witnesses came to Steve’s house (in Baton Rouge) bearing tracts a few weeks ago, and Steve went chasing them down the road to get an extra one for me, and the whole thing of the tract is that THE END OF FALSE RELIGION IS NEAR so you’d better watch out and mend your Wicked Ways ™. It’s all like, “False religion is a harlot! Get out of her, my people!” saith the Lord (Pun intended, God?). And at the end it says, Now is the time to act. Do not delay! The end of false religion is near! –Zephaniah 2:2-3

Well, I figured that if Zephaniah said it, it must be true. Zephaniah, man. Do not doubt the authority of Zephaniah. Only I didn’t know who Zephaniah was, so I looked it up on Wikipedia (the way, the truth, and the light, verily I say unto ye), and do you know who Zephaniah is, do you know?

He’s from the Bible! I was all thinking that he was a Jehovah’s Witness who knew about things and was just letting us know that we had hit the year 2006 and this whole false religion thing was winding to a close and we had just better get our act together and do it fast, but actually? Actually he’s a Bible book, and it was composed in like 630 BC.

I guess that when they said “near” they were defining it as any amount of time from another week to another TWO AND A HALF MILLENNIA.

Whatever, Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was already on the phone with your local branch to see what I could do about converting from my wicked politics-meddling Christmas-celebrating gay-condoning ways, but you know what I did when I found out that your source for all this was Zephaniah from the Bible 2600 years ago? I hung up. That’s right. Don’t think that you can just get away with your fear-mongering. I will publish your infamy to the world!

(And by “world” I mean the six people who read my blog. FEAR ME.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Serious as a heart attack

Steve, doing something silly with my keys: It’s an alligator!
Sarah-my-flatmate: Oh, we call them crocodiles here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

It grieves me to say this

But England practices a bastard form of Catholicism. It’s true. I went to Mass again today, and today there was a script, so I have proof positive.

Now, I wasn’t going to quibble over the fact that, like insane people, the English stand up before saying the “our good and the good of all his church” line. I mean, I was actually, but now it’s not an isolated instance of English Catholic insanity. They stand up before the priest says the sacrifice acceptable part, when any sensible person knows that they’re supposed to wait until AFTER “good of all his church”, and then stand up. Get it right, people!

And here’s another thing that you’ve totally screwed up: The Nicene creed. For some reason the English think that they’re supposed to say that Jesus “became incarnate from the Virgin Mary and was made man”. What’s that about? Is something wrong with the True Version (”he was born of the Virgin Mary and became man”)? Is this some bizarre leftover thing about how the Virgin Mary’s hymen stayed literally intact her whole life and Jesus just sort of wafted through it, in which case he wasn’t so much “born” as “made incarnate”? That teaching is over, folks. Move on with your lives. And try to remember that it’s not “in accordance with the Scriptures” but “in fulfilment of the Scriptures”. It didn’t just happen to coincide with what the Scriptures said; it proved the prophets right! This matters!

Oh, yeah, and don’t try to say that Jesus “suffered death and was buried”. He suffered, died, and was buried. Do not diminish the suffering! There were thorns and blood and a cat o’ nine tails! You try having that done to you and then try to act like you just “suffered death”! Jack the Ripper “suffered death”! Jesus SUFFERED. His suffering deserves its VERY OWN CLAUSE, and it is NOT a transitive verb. Not the way Jesus did it!

Because, as one of my great idols said, If there’s one thing Jesus Christ cared about, it’s semantics.

(I’m joking, obviously. But for real, when I was saying the Nicene Creed and everybody else was saying it WRONG, I got really cranky and if that chaplaincy had been any bigger (i.e., if there had been any chance my actions would have gone more or less unnoticed), I would have taken out a pen and corrected it on Steve’s little script.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Don’t even try to tell me I can’t get in touch with Merlin Holland if I feel like it

Because I CAN. I have his fax number. That’s RIGHT. I have Merlin Holland’s fax number. Don’t mess with me because I can just fax Merlin Holland whenever I want to.

Although I acquired it on a public website, I feel empowered now that I’ve got it, like now that I have this public-access fax number I totally have an in with Merlin Holland and I can just fax him whenever and be all, Hey, dude, what’s going on? Not much here, just doing some research on your grandfather’s reputation and whatnot. Hope the book’s going well!

But seriously. Don’t let me near a fax machine. I am not confident in my ability to refrain from faxing Merlin Holland like a big Oscar Wilde groupie and telling him I wanna be friends.

Friday, October 27, 2006

One of my quiet obsessions

I love movie reviews. But most especially I love movie reviews written by Religious People. I would wash dishes on a night that wasn’t my night to wash dishes if someone promised me an endless supply of movie reviews written by Religious People. But now I have discovered Plugged In Online, and my dear dear father has sent me a link to the Catholic movie reviews page, so I will not have to wash dishes on a night that wasn’t my night.

Okay. So being also Rent-obsessed, I very sensibly looked up reviews of it, and in this case the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is cooler than Focus on Family because the Catholics say this:

Director Chris Columbus has remained largely faithful to the original — and many of the original cast members reprise their roles here — while the dissolute lifestyles of some of the characters take second place to the overriding themes of love, connection and fellowship.

Yeah, that’s right. You heard them. Fel-low-ship. (I hate that word actually.) I’ve left out the part that comes after it because really why bother? I will just say that it mentions that there is “suggestive dancing and movement”. Suggestive movement. Watch out for the movement! It’s suggestive!

Focus on Family, however, does not beat around the bush. (Teehee.) They say:

Mimi performs an extremely suggestive dance in a skimpy leather bikini. She rubs her crotch [are they allowed to say crotch?] when a patron offers her a tip. (Similarly dressed women dance in the background.) During the musical number “Light My Candle” she makes a sexual come-on to Roger. (The song is full of sexual double entendres.)

(I like their parenthetical asides the best.)

Actually I like their sum-up the best. Ready for it?

There's no doubt that Larson (who died unexpectedly shortly before Rent premiered Off Broadway in 1996) was a skilled writer, and the music of Rent is particularly good. The lyrics, on the other hand, are often questionable, and Larson sneaks a degenerate worldview past undiscerning viewers by means of that great songwriting. Whether moviegoers are aware of it or not, they're being preached at. And this sermon contains a romanticized glorification of a lifestyle -- be if homosexuality or what should now be called neobohemianism -- that despite the movie's upbeat conclusions ends ultimately in hopelessness.

Ultimately in hopelessness. Focus on Family does not love the gays. You can read the review in full (and many more!) at Plugged In Online (here) or the Catholic one (here). Hurrah! Movie reviews are glorious!