Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Wendy Wasserstein: An American Woman

Gail Collins, the first female head of The New York Times editorial board wrote this to say goodbye to her friend. By GAIL COLLINS Published: January 31, 2006 Wendy Wasserstein and I had a running e-mail joke in which we took turns taking responsibility for everything bad that happened. "I'll bring the Iraqi constitution and we can work on it in the bar," she wrote last year before a theater date. I congratulated her for getting Michael Brown the FEMA job. We both claimed to be in charge of the Middle East peace process. We were making fun of Wendy's reputation for good-heartedness. Her outrageously premature death yesterday deprived the nation of a beloved playwright, but it also stripped the city of one of its best people. The first time I met her, she was rushing to a speaking engagement at a small library in a faraway section of Brooklyn. I assumed that either this was the historic spot where she had learned to read or that she was related to the librarian. But no, it was simply a place that had the moxie to ask a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright to come and do its event. "Last month I was voted Miss Colitis," Wendy once wrote. "I was honored at the Waldorf-Astoria and presented with a Steuben glass bowl — by Mary Ann Mobley Collins, a former Miss America. It's not that the treatment of colitis is an unworthy mission, but I have no connection to the cause except that I received a letter from the Colitis Committee asking me to show up. In other words, I became Miss Colitis because I am very nice." Sometimes it was almost impossible to resist taking advantage. Wendy and I once jointly agreed to give talks at a convention of women journalists being held in Montana, under the theory that it would be an excellent opportunity to see one another. (We had reached that circle of scheduling hell in which two people who live less than a mile apart have to traverse the continent in order to have coffee.) After I arrived, I got a call from Wendy, who had missed the plane. Her only alternatives were to cancel or fly in at midnight, give her address at breakfast and then immediately return to the airport. "You should do whatever you think best," I said cruelly. "The only thing I can tell you is that these women are really nice and they're looking forward to meeting you." I picked her up at midnight. "You were right," she said, as we drove back to the airport 10 hours later. "They were awfully nice women." Wendy was a charter member of the company of nice women, a river of accommodating humanity that flows through Manhattan just as it flows through Des Moines and Oneonta, N.Y., organizing library fund-raisers, running day care centers, ordering prescriptions for elderly parents, buying all the birthday presents and giving career counseling to the nephew of a very remote acquaintance who is trying to decide between making it big on Broadway and dentistry. In the essay that began with the Miss Colitis story, she noted that niceness had become unfashionable, and promised to be crankier in the future. It was just a literary device. Wendy understood that being considerate in a society of self-involved strivers was not for wimps. It required a steely inner toughness that was the hallmark of many of her heroines. She also knew her own nature. "Frankly, I never want to leave a room and be thought of as a horrible person," she admitted. But Wendy never explained what the rest of us were supposed to do when she left the room before us.

Alito and people who go postal

Knew it would happen-- but Jesus Christ. That this man is replacing Justice O'Connor. . . Every single day the United States is becomes more and more a place I won't be able to go back to. That I will be scared to go back to. If Congress doesn't snap Bush back on the illegal wiretapping. . . what's next? In other news an ex-postal employee killed four people before killing herself in Goleta, California. What clicks in someone's brain that they do this sort of thing?

Oscar Nominations

Oscar nominations came out a few hours ago. My secret lover George Clooney (it is so secret he doesn't know) got a nod for Best Picture, Supporting Actor, Directing, and original screenplay along with Grant Heslov. Best Actor is an interesting race. So pleased that I was right about David Strathairn getting a nomination. He is so respected by the acting community, he might be a dark horse. . . Of the best film nominations, I've seen them all except for Crash. Silly that I get excited about this stuff. I like to have or go to an Oscar party every year, so I don't know what I am going to do here in London Town. I may need to take Monday off and watch them into the wee hours.

Okay. This also sucks. . . Wendy Wasserstein

When August Wilson passed away in October 2005 I knew he was ill but it was still shocking. I had no idea that Wendy Wasserstein was even ill. She died today at 55 of lymphoma. The first time I head her name was in my sophomore year at University when my professor Kay Cook announced that The Heidi Chronicles had won the Pulitzer. It also won the Tony and New York Drama Critics Circle awards for best play. I never met Ms, Wasserstein. How I wish I had. She is one of the reasons that I wanted to be a playwright. A dream of mine that now feels unfamiliar like clothing I used to be able to fit into. Maybe one day I will again be able to squeeze into my skinny jeans. But enough about me and my solipsistic whinging. Today, we say goodbye to an important, beautiful, funny voice in American Theatre. The world is a bit emptier without her.

Monday, January 30, 2006

LOVE the Skype

When I was still in the USofA, Skype was a great way for S and I to talk- Is completly free if we are both at our computers. Since I've been on this here island, I've used it a few times to call my Mom. She hasn't yet figured out how to use on her computer, so I just call her land line. It only costs something ridiculous like $0.003 a minute so it is great. Today was a hallalulah moment. S told me that 800 callls to the US are free. I'm thinking- I can make 800 calls to the US? I would even pay for that! And on Skype they are free??? Over the spring to make my car payment, I had to depend upon the kindness of strangers (well not really strangers. Folks I worked with and trusted with my ss#) to call Volkswagon and make my payment over the phone for me since I couldn't call a 800 number from overseas. Now I can call! Not that I have a desparate need to call 800 numbers all the time but when credit cards and student loans only provide 800 numbers, what is a girl to do? As luck would have it, just this AM I e-mailed one of my student loans to see if I could get a deferment and they of course told me to call the 800 number so it is like kismit. Except different.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Munich

One of my favorite movie lines is from the wacky but no means good film, Dragnet: Joe Friday: Ah, sure, but just like every other foaming, rabid psycho in this city with a foolproof plan, you've forgotten you're facing the single finest fighting force ever assembled. Reverend Jonathan Whirley: The Israelis? I remember thinking, “good” when I first learned that Mossad had assassinated many of the Black September architects of the Munich Massacre. “They deserved it. Don’t mess with Israel.” In my early twenties I slowly started to reconsider my position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. By no means do I agree with terrorist tactics, but when Palestinians are murdered by Israeli settlers when they are simply trying to harvest olives, future suicide bombers are created. I slowly came out to my friends with this opinion. Not being Jewish, I was taking a risk. To accuse Israel of wrongdoing is to take the risk of being called an anti-Semite. If you are Jewish, you are accused of being a self-hating Jew. With the release of Munich, there have been a number of op-eds that of accused Steven Spielberg of as much, which is beyond ridiculous. Spielberg said, “I wanted to make a realistic film. I did not want to demonize the targets. To deal with the war on terror, you have to deal with the world as it is. And real people exist on both sides of these issues.” Munich is simply one of the best films Spielberg has ever made. The screenplay by Oscar winner Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) and Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner, Tony Kushner (Angeles in America) do not present a battle between good verses evil but all the grays in between. The toy maker turned bomb-maker, Robert (French actor Mathieu Kassovitz) exclaims, “"I don't know that we ever were that decent. Thousands of years of hatred doesn't make you decent. But we were supposed to be righteous. It's a beautiful thing. That's Jewish. That's what I knew. That's what I was taught. And now I'm losing that… and I lose that and… that's… that's everything. That's my soul." The German antiques dealer, document forger Hans (Hanns Zischler) disgusted with himself after a vengeance killing says, "In seven months, we've killed six of the eleven names. We've killed one replacement. One of our targets is in prison and four, including Ali Hassan Salameh, is at large. One of our own has fallen. Since we began, the other side has sent letter bombs to eleven embassies, hijacked three planes, killed 130 passengers in Athens, and wounded scores more… and killed out military attaché in Washington. Some of it was done by a Venezuelan called Carlos "The Jackal," who replaced Zaid Muchassi, who replaced Hussein Al-Chir. Black September's original leadership has been decimated. But new leaders are emerging for whom Black September wasn't violent enough. And to dispatch our six dispatched targets, we must have spent something close to $2 million. Mrs. Meir says to the Knesset, 'The World will see that killing Jews will from now on be an expensive proposition.' But killing Palestinians isn't exactly cheap.” Long time Spielberg editor Michael Kahn keeps the tension taunt and one scene in particular in Paris out Hitchcock’s Hitchcock in nail biting tension. You are able to tell each city you are in almost just by how cinematographer Janusz Kaminski has shot it. John Williams has created another gorgeous score. The film starts with the Black September terrorists taking Israeli athletes hostage then brilliantly intercutting between ABC archival footage of Jim McKay and the voice of the late ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, Israeli and Arab families as well as the terrorists watching the television. I was only two during the Munich Olympics so I had never seen the footage before. While I knew the facts of what had occurred, I had never heard McKay’s famous line, "In life our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized. Tonight, our worst fears have been realized. . . They're all gone.” Heartbreaking. Avner, (Eric Bana) head of the team created to avenge the athletes has flashbacks to Munich throughout the film, filling in the holes that the ABC footage doesn’t show, culminating in the terrible events at the airport. The film ends with Avner asking his Mossad contact Ephraim (Geoffrey Rush) to “break bread” with his family that evening in his Brooklyn home for Shabbat. Ephraim refuses. “I can’t.” And he walks away. In the distance, across the Hudson, the World Trade Center Twin towers are part of the lower Manhattan skyline.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Tapatío

Bless Janelle. She brought me back Tapatío frrom California. Had it on my eggs this morning. Yum. In my old office, my team had a huge vat of the stuff that we shared. Good stuff. Kicks Brown Sauces ass.

Friday, January 27, 2006

GOT THE JOB!!!!!!!!!!!

Guess I didn't mess up the interview as much as I thought. Deep sigh of relief. Doesn't start till March maybe mid March so money is still impossible, but at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

There you go Oprah

When I first heard about the wool that James Frey pulled over my eyes, I thought, what's the big deal. Then I read the Smoking Gun article and saw how much of the book was fabricated and I got pissed. Looks like Oprah had a similar arc. . . Oprah Tells Frey He 'Betrayed' Readers Thursday January 26 4:50 PM ET In a stunning switch from dismissive to disgusted, Oprah Winfrey took on one of her chosen authors, James Frey, accusing him on live television of lying about "A Million Little Pieces" and letting down the many fans of his memoir of addiction and recovery. "I feel duped," she said Thursday on her syndicated talk show. "But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers." Frey, who found himself booed in the same Chicago studio where he had been embraced not long ago, acknowledged that he had lied. A sometimes angry, sometimes tearful Winfrey asked Frey why he "felt the need to lie." Audience members often groaned and gasped at Frey's halting, stuttered admissions that certain facts and characters had been "altered" but that the essence of his memoir was real. "I don't think it is a novel," Frey said of his book, which had initially been offered to publishers, and rejected by many, as fiction. "I still think it's a memoir." Thursday's broadcast, rare proof that the contents of a book can lead to great tabloid TV, marked an abrupt reversal from the cozy chat two weeks ago on "Larry King Live," when Winfrey phoned in to support Frey and label alleged fabrications as "much ado about nothing." "I left the impression that the truth is not important," Winfrey said Thursday of last week's call, saying that "e-mail after e-mail" from supporters of the book had cast a "cloud" over her judgment. On a segment that also featured the book's publisher, Nan A. Talese of Doubleday, Frey was questioned about various parts of his book, from the three-month jail sentence he now says he never served to undergoing dental surgery without Novocain, a story he no longer clearly recalls. Winfrey, whose apparent indifference to the memoir's accuracy led to intense criticism, including angry e-mails on her Web site, subjected Frey to a virtual page-by-page interrogation. No longer, as she told King, was she saying that emotional truth mattered more than the facts. "Mr. Bravado Tough Guy," she mockingly called the author whose book she had enshrined last fall and whose reputation she had recently saved. Talese and Doubleday were not spared. Winfrey noted that her staff had been alerted to possible discrepancies in Frey's book, only to be assured by the publisher. She lectured Talese on her responsibilities: "I'm trusting you, the publisher, to categorize this book whether as fiction or autobiographical or memoir." Talese, an industry veteran whose many authors have included Ian McEwan, George Plimpton and Thomas Cahill, told Winfrey that editors who saw the book raised no questions and that "A Million Pieces" received a legal vetting. She acknowledged that the book had not been fact-checked, something many publishers say they have little time to do, but that future editions would include an author's note saying parts of the book "had been changed." Winfrey did not unleash publishing's version of the death penalty: revoking her endorsement, a devastating and unprecedented action. Only once before has she turned, relatively mildly, on a book club pick: In 2001, she withdrew her invitation for Jonathan Franzen, author of "The Corrections," to appear on her show after the novelist expressed ambivalence over her endorsement. Her current choice is Elie Wiesel's classic, "Night," a memoir with a concise, literary style that has led some to call it a novel. Three years ago, Frey stepped up as publishing's latest and baddest bad boy, with tattooed initials on his arm "FTBSITTTD" bearing a defiant and unprintable message. Winfrey's selection made his book a million seller and Frey a hero to many who believed his story was theirs. "In order to get through the experience of the addiction, I thought of myself as being tougher than I was and badder than I was, and it helped me cope," Frey said Thursday on Winfrey's show. "And when I was writing the book, instead of being as introspective as I should have been, I clung to that image." Frey's career will likely never recover, although so far he has not suffered for sales. His book, a million seller thanks to Winfrey, remained in the top 5 Thursday on Amazon.com. A second memoir, "My Friend Leonard," was in the top 20. He currently has a two-book deal with Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, with a novel about contemporary Los Angeles due in 2007. The publisher did not have an immediate comment Thursday. Beyond Frey, and his publishers, stories of suffering may themselves take a fall. Frey's saga comes at a time when the work, and even the identities, of such alleged hard-luck authors as J.T. Leroy and Nasdijj have been questioned. St. Martin's Press recently added a disclaimer to an upcoming book by Augusten Burroughs, another memoirist who has been challenged. "I think for a while, this will make people careful," said Ashbel Green, a senior editor at Alfred A. Knopf. "But this question of fact checking is a complicated one. At The New Yorker and Time and Newsweek, you have experienced people who know where to go and what's right and what's wrong. We don't. There's been a traditional dependency on the author." ___ Associated Press Writer Karen Hawkins contributed to this story in Chicago.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bleeping COLD!

Walking to the Tottenham Court Road Tube Station and there was a wind tunnel effect of wind between the buildings. S and I immediately started the "Holy Fuck! It's Cold!" Chorus. Everyone we walked by wasn't having conversations with the people they were walking with- they were also doing the Holy Fuck! It's Cold song and shuffle-ball-change dance. Slowly there is more light in the morning and it is taking longer for the sun to set. I am telling myself that in a few months there will be something resembling spring.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Modern Life

Tube this morning. Northern Line Charing Cross branch somewhere around Clapham Common. Packed in like lemmings being pushed to our death by Disney. Woman moved over to make room for people getting on the train and was looking for space on a pole near me to hold on to. Looking for space so she wouldn't go flying when we started moving again. Man next to me. Sounded like he was from Jamaica or somewhere in Africa, I don't know anymore. I hear so many accents in a given day my little language synapses are crispy. Man next to me says, "Why don't you stop moving around?" Woman says, "We're all jammed in here." Man says, "Stop moving around you bitch." I look up, shocked (why did this shock me? I've had worse happen in Los Angeles. I had a man bray at me like a donkey when I was heavier. I had an old man pinch my ass on the bus. Why was I surprised? Crazy people are everywhere.) I look up thinking, "Fuck You!" and the man read my eyes. He glared at me and said, "Shut up. Shutthefuckup! Just Shut Up!" But I didn't say a word. No one said a word. Safer that way to stay quiet. If we said something he would have gotten more agitated. Maybe hurt someone. He was a big guy. But I was the only one that even looked up when he started to wig. Everyone else kept their eyes down. Maybe the volume was too high on their iPod.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Phish Food Therapy

"Had my dream again where I'm making love, and the Olympic judges are watching. I'd nailed the compulsories, so this is it, the finals. I got a 9.8 from the Canadians, a perfect 10 from the Americans, and my mother, disguised as an East German judge, gave me a 5.6. Must have been the dismount." - Harry Burns in When Harry Met Sally Must have been the dismount. . . I had the third interview today. Was a phone call with someone in the States. The beginning part was good and then I guess it wasn't. The what areas of growth would your peers say about you question. I stammered something that didn't make sense that negated a positive I said a 30 seconds before. I hate interviewing. Plus, They are definitely afraid that I am a pushy American, which I had no idea how to defend without looking like a pushy American. Oh well. We will see in the next few days. Felt depressed so I ate pasta for dinner and am currently consuming Ben and Jerry's Phish Food. Been feeling glum the last few days. Stuart has been great about it. My friend Stephanie sent me an e-mail saying, "I bet it's super-fun living in London... all the sight-seeing, the shopping, the restaurants and things to do." And she is right. It is, except right now I'm not feeling the London Love. I know I'm just Grade A stressed about the job situation and that this ennui is fairly normal for expats. I know this. It still sucks. And it's not as if everything was coming up roses in Los Angeles. Everything will be fine. You're right. You're right. . . I know you're right.

Monday, January 23, 2006

You Gotta Love Nepotism

Got a temporary gig where S works! Their Office Manager has been out sick so I will be picking up the slack. Will just be for a few weeks but it will be good to have some cash coming in. Getting up in the morning is going to suck.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Truthiness 101: From Frey to Alito

By FRANK RICH IF James Frey hadn't made up his own life, Tom Wolfe would have had to invent it for him. The fraudulent memoirist is to the early 21st century what Mr. Wolfe's radical-chic revelers were to the late 1960's and his Wall Street "masters of the universe" were to the go-go 1980's: a perfect embodiment of the most fashionable American excess of an era. As Oprah Winfrey, the ultimate arbiter of our culture, has made clear, no one except pesky nitpickers much cares whether Mr. Frey's autobiography is true or not, or whether it sits on a fiction or nonfiction shelf at Barnes & Noble. Such distinctions have long since washed away in much of our public life. What matters most now is whether a story can be sold as truth, preferably on television. The mock Comedy Central pundit Stephen Colbert's slinging of the word "truthiness" caught on instantaneously last year precisely because we live in the age of truthiness. At its silliest level, this is manifest in show-biz phenomena like Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, juvenile pop stars who merchandised the joy of their new marriage as a lucrative MTV reality series before heading to divorce court to divvy up the booty. But if suckers want to buy fictional nonfiction like "Newlyweds" or "A Million Little Pieces" as if they were real, that's just harmless diversion. It's when truthiness moves beyond the realm of entertainment that it's a potential peril. As Seth Mnookin, a rehab alumnus, has written in Slate, the macho portrayal of drug abuse in "Pieces" could deter readers battling actual addictions from seeking help. Ms. Winfrey's blithe re-endorsement of the book is less laughable once you start to imagine some Holocaust denier using her imprimatur to discount Elie Wiesel's incarceration at Auschwitz in her next book club selection, "Night." This isn't just a slippery slope. It's a toboggan into chaos, or at least war. As everyone knows now - except for the 22 percent, according to a recent Harris poll, who still believe that Saddam helped plan 9/11 - it's the truthiness of all those imminent mushroom clouds that sold the invasion of Iraq. What's remarkable is how much fictionalization plays a role in almost every national debate. Even after a big humbug is exposed as blatantly as Professor Marvel in "The Wizard of Oz" - FEMA's heck of a job in New Orleans, for instance - we remain ready and eager to be duped by the next tall tale. It's as if the country is living in a permanent state of suspension of disbelief. Democrats who go berserk at their every political defeat still don't understand this. They fault the public for not listening to their facts and arguments, as though facts and arguments would make a difference, even if the Democrats were coherent. It's the power of the story that always counts first, and the selling of it that comes second. Accuracy is optional. The Frey-like genius of the right is its ability to dissemble with a straight face while simultaneously mustering the slick media machinery and expertise to push the goods. It not only has the White House propaganda operation at its disposal, but also an intricate network of P.R. outfits and fake-news outlets that are far more effective than their often hapless liberal counterparts. The selling of Samuel Alito is a perfect illustration of how our world works. From the moment Judge Alito emerged from Harriet Miers's penumbra, his supporters' story line was clear: he'd be presented as a humble exemplar of American values too mainstream to be labeled "out of the mainstream" by his opponents. In his first courtesy calls on Capitol Hill in November, we learned, Judge Alito often cited his father as a proud immigrant who instilled in him empathy for minorities and the poor - an empathy not remotely apparent in the judge's legal record. A particularly poignant anecdote had it that his father had once defended a black basketball player from discrimination in college. Yet David Kirkpatrick of The Times reported then that "some colleagues and friends of the elder Mr. Alito, who died in 1987, said they had never heard some of the stories his son has recounted, including the episode about his support for the black student and the fact that his father immigrated from Italy as a child." No matter. If such questions couldn't stop an Oprah Book Club selection, they certainly wouldn't stop a nominee to the Supreme Court. Once Judge Alito came before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Democrats decided to counter the Republicans' story by coming up with a fictional story of their own, or that's what they did once they stopped bloviating. Their fictional biography cast Judge Alito as an out-and-out bigot. The major evidence cited to support this characterization was his listing his membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP), a conservative group founded in reaction to the upheavals of the Vietnam era, on a job application for the Reagan Justice Department. Judge Alito testified that he had joined CAP because it supported the R.O.T.C. on campus, adding that he did not remember having "done anything substantial in relation to this group, including renewing my membership." The Democrats plunged on, betting the house (or the Supreme Court) on Teddy Kennedy's insistence that Judge Alito could be linked to what the senator described as CAP's "repulsive anti-woman, anti-black, anti-disability, anti-gay pronouncements." In one of only two dramatic moments in the whole soporific confirmation process - a "Sunshine Boys"-style spat with the committee chairman, Arlen Specter - Mr. Kennedy threatened to subpoena CAP "documents in the possession of the Library of Congress" to hunt down Judge Alito's bigotry. There was only one problem with the Democrats' fictional story line: it had been exposed as fake on the front page of The Times weeks before Mr. Kennedy presented it to the nation. Mr. Kirkpatrick reported that he had examined the same papers Mr. Kennedy was threatening to subpoena - as well as some others at Princeton's own library - and found no trace of Judge Alito's involvement with CAP as either an active participant or a major donor. When the Senate committee did Mr. Kennedy's bidding and looked at those documents yet again, it found exactly what The Times had in November, calling the senator's bluff and ending any remote chance the Democrats had for keeping Judge Alito off the court. It says everything about the Democrats' ineptitude that when they spin fiction, they are incapable of meeting even the low threshold of truthiness needed to make it fly in this lax cultural environment. THE Republicans would never have been so sloppy. Indeed, hardly had Mr. Kennedy's melodramatic stunt blown up in his face than they came up with a new story line prompted by the other dramatic incident in the hearings: the departure of Martha-Ann Alito from the committee room in tears. She fled while a Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, was mocking the Democrats, not when the eminently mockable Democrats were mounting their lame assault. Whatever. As Time magazine later reported, a P.R. outfit called Creative Response Concepts immediately pumped up the media volume of her supposed martyrdom, breathlessly producing a former Alito clerk to provide eyewitness testimony of her suffering at the hands of those Democratic brutes. Creative Response Concepts did similar work for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth during the 2004 campaign. Its roster of clients also includes the right-wing Media Research Center, itself the parent organization of something called the Cybercast News Service. For the new year, Cybercast News has an exciting fictional project of its own: just before John Murtha, the tough Congressional critic of the Iraq war, appeared on "60 Minutes" last Sunday, it started Swift Boating him by rewriting his Vietnam history to besmirch the legitimacy of his two Purple Hearts. If Karl Rove's White House propaganda factory is the NBC Universal or Time Warner of G.O.P. fictionalization, then the Miramax and Focus Features of the right are such nominally "independent" satellites as Cybercast News, the Lincoln Group (which places fake news stories in Iraqi newspapers), the Rendon Group (which helped manufacture the heroic image of Ahmad Chalabi) and the now-dormant Talon News (the fake Republican-staffed news site whose fake White House correspondent, Jeff Gannon, was unmasked last year). Fittingly enough against this backdrop, last week brought the re-emergence of Clifford Irving, the author of the fake 1972 autobiography of Howard Hughes that bamboozled the world long before fraudulent autobiographies and biographies were cool. He announced that he was removing his name from "The Hoax," a coming Hollywood movie recounting his exploits, because of what he judged its lack of fidelity to "the truth of what happened." That Mr. Irving can return like Rip van Winkle after all these years to take the moral high ground in defense of truthfulness is a sign of just how low into truthiness we have sunk. To my readers: Starting next week, I will be on a book leave, writing nonfiction about our post-9/11 fictions. See you in the spring.

Poor whale

After a day of frantic struggles, the London whale dies a lonely death Euan Ferguson joined the crowds on a poignant day by the Thames Sunday January 22, 2006 The Observer 'He's lost his pod,' I heard a mum tell her daughter as she lifted her for a better view above the crowd, back when the crowd was manageable. And then, seconds later, 'No, darling, not his iPod. He's lost his ... well, his friends. His family.' It was that kind of day. Londoners getting all friendly and funny with each other but under it all a strange, nagging confusion over how it would turn out. At 7pm on the dot we realised it had turned out pretty badly, when, despite a frantic £100,000 rescue mission, something like half of London's emergency services shivering all day in the Thames and messages of goodwill from around the world, London's new best friend perished on a barge, swathed in rubber and lifting gear, near the end of the journey back to salt water. The trauma of the rescue and too many hours out of the water had led to fatal spasms. Hopes had been high. But it seemed that the only proper reaction to yesterday, as so often with nature, should have been a careful mix of wonder and sadness. It had been one thing, for instance, to see London's whale blowing and arcing its way under Battersea Bridge. Perfectly equipped for cavorting 600 feet down in the Arctic Ocean and making life unhappy for squid; less so for the snorting riptides that bedevil the Thames and its bridges - but still, London's whale made it, coming up 200 yards west yesterday morning with a noisy gust and a welcoming cheer from the bank. It was quite another, 30 minutes later, one minute before noon, to watch it beached, so obviously distressed. To see its would-be rescuers, up to their necks at times in the Thames, attempting to pat, push, calm, to somehow convey the feeling that there was goodwill from man, while that great tail began to flap so frantically. Were we going to end up with happy children, perfect endings: were we going to free Willy? Or were we going to end up with - there's no great way to put this - two tons of dead blubber? There was something both awesome and other-worldly yesterday about walking along Sir Joseph Bazalgette's Chelsea Embankment, gazing at the forlorn and faded barges rendered somehow even more miserable by the gorgeous sunshine, and then seeing a whale blow. We walked, the growing crowds, at 11am, following the boats as they followed the whale. We walked at whale's pace until we darted, hundreds of us, from one side to the other of the Albert Bridge, causing the first traffic jam of the day. Later police closed Battersea Bridge Road leading to, one assumes, some apologetic shrugs from lunch dates - sorry, I was held up by a whale. We walked west of Battersea Bridge, crowds growing, the sound audible from the embankment of the crunch of hundreds of feet on shingle below as they raced back and forth. And then just before noon, at 11.53, I saw the dorsal fin burst out again, but facing east, towards the sea. Had London's whale sensed the sudden turn in the tide and started swimming against the (now incoming) tide, as whales do, and would it make it? The answer was very soon no. For the next five minutes the whale was in danger of beaching - Tannoy calls came from the coastguard warning crowds away from the shingle's edge - and just before noon it grounded and the worries began, the floats and the cranes and the manhandling. And the crowds began arriving, in true force - the banks of the Thames can never have been busier. Nobody could see much, but the mood was friendly, not jostling; rescue workers below called up, at 2pm, for some hot drinks and the shouts were relayed by the crowd to the nearest houses. And, hours later, partygoers in Battersea pressed their noses against pub windows to see the latest developments, the bad news and the end of a strangely gripping story. In a month or less we will have forgotten; but the day will surely serve as some kind of benchmark. In the last day or so lovers will have been taken, jobs will have been won and lost, novels begun, tears shed at funerals, new life conceived and, when asked can you remember when that happened, we can answer: I remember it well, because it was that day. The day a whale sailed through the middle of London; and the people of the city, rather than trying to hack it to death, came in their thousands and lifted it and tried their hardest to sail it back.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Whale spotted in central London

A seven-tonne whale has made its way up the Thames to central London, where it is being watched by riverside crowds. My favorite part of the article is. . ."at 0830 GMT on Friday, a man on a train called in to say he might have been hallucinating, but he had just seen a whale in the Thames." I hope they will be able to encourage it to swim out. . .

Farmers Market

Since New Year I have been trying to eat healthier. The stress of planning an International move and wedding has resulted in expediential ass widening and it was already giving J-Lo a run for her money. Been thinking about going to Borough Market (where Bridget Jones buys her groceries for her blue soup dinner party). I’ve never shopped there, just wandered through a few times when I’ve walked along the South Bank. I did a quick bit of research and I discovered a few London Farmer Markets where everything is local within 100 miles of the M25. Borough Market while really nifty is not strictly a farmers market. “Hey, There’s a farmers market, the largest one in London around the corner from where they had my flat in the spring in Mary. . . Mary. . . Marybone?” S didn’t look up. “Marylebone”. (Pronounced Marlbone) “Marylebone. There’s a Farmers Market. I was thinking. . .” S looked up. I continued, “I was thinking, I want to try to start buying things more in season and it would be nice to support local farmers.” S blinked. “Local farmers? We live in London..” “Very funny. They are within 100 miles of the M25.” “I moved away from those people for a reason.” “Wanna go Saturday?” “To a Farmers Market in Marylebone?” “Yes.” S giggles. “You want to go to a Farmers Market in the most expensive neighborhood in London. This is just too much.” “It’s not going to be—“ “Little girl from Reno—“ “I’m NOT from Reno!” “Little girl from Cleveland—“ “I’m NOT from—“ “Wants to spend five quid on a tomato.” (Pronounced toe-moat-toe) “I’m not going to spend five quid on a tomato! (Pronounced toe-may-toe) Besides. They aren’t even in season." S laughs harder. “You don’t have a job. And you want to go to a Farmers Market. In Marylebone??? Why don’t you just go to Harrods? It will be cheaper.” By this point I was laughing. It was silly of me to mention it to him. S believes fruits and vegetables to be toxic substances and does not consider it a full meal without extra helpings of partially hydrated oil and Monosodium Glutamate. S was still smirking. “How has your diet been going?” “Okay. I don’t like the scale. It gives you different numbers each time.” “You broke the—“ “I didn’t BREAK the scale.” “There’s a place over in Battersea that weighs trucks. We can go there.” I blink. I know he is kidding. He's kidding. He doesn't really think I am such a big fat thing that I need to be weighed by a truck scale. I know he doesn't think that. I'm not a big fat thing that needs to be weighed by a truck scale. I know he doesn't think that but I start to cry. “Oh, come on. You don’t need to get upset.” I keep crying. “Come on. Stop crying. You know I think you have a beautiful body.” He hugs me. I wipe my nose on his shirt. “I’m sorry. Tell you what. You can blog about it and then I’ll get flamed in the comments by your readers." I sniffle. Deep down I know he was just teasing, but you don't get opprotunities like this every day to lay on the guilt. Plus it did hit one of my buttons. The only time I haven't been 20 to 80 pounds overweight was for nine minutes in 1986. “And we can go to the market Saturday and spend twenty quid on turnips.” “I would never spend twenty quid on turnips.” “Okay.” “I don’t like turnips.”

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Hungry, Hungry Hippos

Listening to BBC World Service on the radio this morning and they had Paul Templer on the air talking about his experiences he had a few years ago when as a safari guide he was attacked by a Hippopotamuses resulting in his needing to have an arm and leg amputated. A documentary reenacting the attack,Dark Side of Hippos is playing on the National Geographic Channel. Who knew Hippos were so grumpy? According to Templer they kill more people every year in Africa than any other animal. So you can add Hippos to your list of animals to be scared of. A few weeks ago I was exhausted but I started watching one of those "when animals attack and eat people who go in the water" shows. Your usual suspects, sharks and crocodiles as well as octopus and barracuda. Of course I watched the whole thing. There is something in me that loves those shows. The part of me that is like my nephew Mason when he starts talking about the ancient shark, Megalodon. His voice gets deep, he opens his eyes wide and he says the word slowly, with reverence and a hint of delicious fear, "MEG-A-LO-DON!" When I was his age I was like that with crocodiles. On the show I watched last week, they went down a river in Australia at night that is teeming with saltwater crocodiles. If you wanted to die all you would have to do is go for a swim and they would get you. They shined a flashlight along the bank and there were all these eyes gleaming back through the dark. Brrrrrrrrrgh. . . Not sure if we have the National Geographic Channel but if we do I am going to try to watch the Hippo show. I know I am a sick puppy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Athens Pictures

Acropolis
Acropolis,
originally uploaded by treefrog girl.
Click to see the flickr photo set of old shit, ouzo drinking and stray dogs.

Strong Personality?

I got my feedback from the job interview so I can be prepared going into the third one and it was a ton of positives. The one potential negative he said that they would probe on is that, "You have a strong personality." Basically strong personality is good but do I know how to tone it down when necessary? The funny part is I don't think of myself as having a strong personality given some people that I have dealt with in my life. I rather like the thought that someone thinks I have a strong personality.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Maureen? Is that you?

A few days ago, I posted Maureen Dowd's column from the New York Times where she eulogized her colleague and friend David Rosenbaum and skewered James Frey for his "memoir". Rosenbaum was murdered in one of those random crazy moments that we think happen to other people, not to people that we love. If you are not familiar with Maureen Dowd, Push yourself out from under the rock you have been living and get thee to a copy of the New York Times. I mention all of this because there is an anonymous comment on my posting saying "Thank You." I opened the post saying I wanted to be Maureen Dowd when I grew up and oh, how I do! The closest was a column I wrote in my University paper called "8:00AM - No Coffee" which given my liberal tendencies was rather subversive for a Utah University in 1992. So was it Maureen that said "Thank You"? I doubt it. I'm from Vegas after all. The odds don't support it. It would be fantastic if it was her however. . .

Brokeback Mountain

Please go see this movie. God, I love Ang Lee. I haven't seen "Ride With The Devil" or "Pushing Hands", but I have long considered him to be one of my favorite film directors (along with Billy Wilder). For those of you that aren't big geeks like me, Lee's films are "Pushing Hands", "The Wedding Banquet", "Eat Drink Man Woman", "Sense and Sensibility", "The Ice Storm", "Ride with the Devil", "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", "Hulk" and "Brokeback Mountain." I have a list of films in my head that have last moments that blow me away. Endings really are one of the hardest things to do well. Lee's "Eat Drink Man Woman" is on that list. "Brokeback Mountain" now is as well. And what a gorgeous surprise is Mr. Ledger's performance! I remember he blew me away in Monsters Ball, but I had no interest in the other films that he has been in, so I assumed (wrongly) he was just a pretty boy. He may be pretty, but the man's performance kicks ass. I wanna know how this kid from Perth Australia managed to channel a repressed Wyoming cowboy. Jake Gyllenhaal is fantastic. Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway are both wonderful. Williams has bit more to chew on but Hathaway shines in every scene -- her last one in particular. There is a marvelous bit where Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are a bar sitting at a table with another couple they have just met. The woman is yammering away and starts to rib the men about how husbands don't dance with their wives. The men have been sizing each other up in half glances while she babbles. Gyllenhaal asks the woman to dance- or does he? The camera angle makes it look like he is asking the man to dance but the woman assumes that he is asking her. Maybe I'm nuts, but I read the scene as Gyllenhaal flirting. If I were writing a review, there is only one misstep that feels more like an editing problem than anything else. In the beginning of the third act, Ledger receives a postcard and then shortly after we see him call and speak to Gyllenhaal's wife (Anne Hathaway). It feels like there is a missing moment between the two scenes. Saying more would be a spoiler. Those that know me could say that as a girl with many gay friends, I do have a bit more interest in the subject matter than your average breeder, but please trust me that this film is more than just a "gay movie". Not that there is anything wrong with that. . .

Warm House

Oh the joy to wake up in a warm flat, to not have to talk yourself into climbing out of bed. The last few weeks have scored rather high on the "this sucks" scale. The last of my boxes that I shipped over from America have arrived. Now if I can get some of my pictures to be hung on the wall, it will all come together. S wants someone else to hang up the pictures because he is afraid that bad things will happen. I almost want to just stick my pictures into the loft and just hang them when we get our own place.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Third Interview

I am moving on to the next level for the job that I want! This is the longest I haven't had a job (except when I was at school). It will be so nice to be able to get my hair cut, eat sushi and go to the movies when I want.

Five Things About Your Charming Hostess

Vol Abroad tagged me. . . Yes this was hard because five isn't enough. FIVE JOBS YOU HAVE HAD IN YOUR LIFE: House Manager at the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Telemarketing, Starbucks Barista, Theatre 101 University Instructor (part of graduate work), Customer Service/Sales Hybrid Account Manager at a Internet Search Engine. FIVE MOVIES YOU COULD WATCH OVER AND OVER: There are really much more but five are-- Annie Hall, When Harry Met Sally, Groundhog Day, Babe and The Iron Giant. FIVE PLACES YOU'VE LIVED: Los Angeles, CA, Seattle WA, Las Vegas, NV, Cedar City, Utah and London, UK FIVE TV SHOWS YOU LOVE TO WATCH: I am cheating and including some shows that I love but aren't being made now-- Lost, Gilmore Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Six Feet Under and Northern Exposure. FIVE PLACES YOU'VE BEEN ON VACATION: Budapest, Paris, Maui, Ketchum Idaho and New York City. FIVE WEBSITES YOU VISIT DAILY: All the Friends and expats on my blog, Various Job Sites, The New York Times, The Guardian and Yahoo News FIVE OF YOUR FAVORITE FOODS: Sushi, corndogs, steamed clams, Baked stuffed shells from Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens in Las Vegas and a dish my mom makes that we call "Popeye Chicken" which is red pepper spicy chicken and spinach with linguine. Orange slices squeezed on top cut the spiciness and add flavor. FIVE PLACES YOU WOULD RATHER BE: Here in London in a flat with heating and a job to go to next week, Maui, Big Sur, Seattle, San Francisco. FIVE ALBUMS YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT: Another impossible question. Willie Nelson- Stardust, Duke Ellington and Coleman Hawkins- Ellington Meets Hawkins, Tony Bennett and Bill Evans- Together Again, Louis Prima- Capitol Collectors Series Greatest Hits, Sam Cooke- The Man and His Music FIVE FOLKS I"M TAGGING: Scott at Agent XXX, Jolie at Prncsaj, Neil H at Dogwood Tales, Lala at The World of Oz and Gina at The Gina Blog.

I'm a sloth

Greed:Medium
 
Gluttony:Medium
 
Wrath:Very Low
 
Sloth:High
 
Envy:Very Low
 
Lust:Medium
 
Pride:Medium
 

Take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Back Home

Back in the freezing flat. They are supposed to come Monday and fix it finally, which is why I couldn't stay in Greece longer. It all worked out badly for me. I couldn't fly in sooner because of my interview last Thursday and I couldn't stay longer because of boiler man. Had a lovely time in Athens other than an evil taxi driver stiffing me on the ride in, but it was a good lesson for me to not take shit from a cabbie. He refused to drive me to the door of the hotel. I found out later that he didn't do that because then the concierge would have given him shit of fleecing me. It was one of those situations that I knew the moment I got into the cab that he has going to play games. Frustrating when you don't know an area. Now I know a bit so that ain't going to happen again when I go back there again. Will post pictures later. Lots of old stuff and stray dogs.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Gore to Address "Constitutional Crisis"

I Can't wait. 01/13/2006 @ 12:01am Gore to Address "Constitutional Crisis" by John Nichols It sounds as if Al Gore is about to deliver what could be not just one of the more significant speeches of his political career but an essential challenge to the embattled presidency of George W. Bush. In a major address slated for delivery Monday in Washington, the former Vice President is expected to argue that the Bush administration has created a "Constitutional crisis" by acting without the authorization of the Congress and the courts to spy on Americans and otherwise abuse basic liberties. Aides who are familiar with the preparations for the address say that Gore will frame his remarks in Constitutional language. The Democrat who beat Bush by more than 500,000 votes in the 2000 presidential election has agreed to deliver his remarks in a symbolically powerful location: the historic Constitution Hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution. But this will not be the sort of cautious, bureacratic speech for which Gore was frequently criticized during his years in the Senate and the White House. Indeed, his aides and allies are framing it as a "call to arms" in defense of the Bill of Rights and the rule of law in a time of executive excess. The vice president will, according to the groups that have arranged for his appearance -- the bipartisan Liberty Coalition and the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy -- address "the threat posed by policies of the Bush Administration to the Constitution and the checks and balances it created. The speech will specifically point to domestic wiretapping and torture as examples of the administration's efforts to extend executive power beyond Congressional direction and judicial review." Coming only a few weeks after U.S. Representative John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, introduced resolutions to censure President Bush and Vice President Cheney, and to explore the issue of impeachment, Gore in expected to "make the case that the country -- including the legislative and judicial branches and all Americans -- must act now to defend the systems put into place by the country's founders to curb executive power or risk permanent and irreversible damage to the Constitution." Don't expect a direct call for impeachment from the former vice president. But do expect Gore to make reference to Richard Nixon, whose abuses of executive authority led to calls for his impeachment-- a fate the 37th president avoided by resigning in 1974. Gore's speech will add fuel to the fire that was ignited when it was revealed that Bush had secretly authorized National Security Agency to monitor communications in the United States without warrants. Gore will argue that the domestic wiretapping policy is only the latest example of the administration exceeding its authority under the Constitution. With a Congressional inquiry into Bush's repeated violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act scheduled to begin in February-- and with Bush already preparing to pitch an Nixon-style defense that suggests it is appropriate for the executive branch to violate the law when national security matters are involved -- Gore will articulate the more traditional view that reasonable checks and balances are required even in a time of war. And he will do so in a bipartisan context that will make it tougher for Republican critics to dismiss the former vice president's assertion that the Constitution is still the law of the land. Former U.S. Representative Bob Barr, the Georgia Republican who served as one of the most conservative members of the House, plans to introduce Gore. Barr, an outspoken critic of the abuses of civil liberties contained in the USA Patriot Act critic who has devoted his post-Congressional years to defending the Bill of Rights, refers to the president's secret authorization of domestic wiretapping as "an egregious violation of the electronic surveillance laws." Count on Gore, who has pulled few punches in the speeches he has delivered in recent months, to be at least as caustic.

My Great Big Fat Greek Hangover

Flew to Athens to meet up with S for the weekend. I normally don't get hangovers, but last night we did Ouzo, red wine and vodka on the rocks. In the middle somewhere there was Greek dancing. To quote Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, "I'm too old for this shit." (We had a lot of fun though.)

Oprah! How Could Ya?

Another person I wanna be when I grow up is Maureen Dowd. January 14, 2006 Op-Ed Columnist Oprah! How Could Ya? By MAUREEN DOWD WASHINGTON The day we mourned a man whose life was devoted to clarity, this city was hidden in fog. You couldn't see the Potomac, even on its bank. There were many things to love about David Rosenbaum. He had a grin that always improved the weather. He was uncommonly generous to reporters he worked with and competed against. He was an exemplary husband, father, brother, uncle and grandfather. But the truly astonishing thing about David, the Times reporter who was killed in a random robbery a week ago, was his unglamorous, unsanctimonious, unvain sort of goodness. He had a black-and-white sense of honor that was oddly old-fashioned in a capital slimed by lies, bribery, greed, corruption and ends-justify-the-means malarkey. The skells, as Detective Sipowicz would say, saw David walking in his neighborhood after dinner and whacked him in the head with a pipe. One low-life bought laundry detergent, gas and tires with David's credit card while he lay dying. Our friend David Shribman, the executive editor of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, wrote in The St. Petersburg Times, where David Rosenbaum started: "A thoughtful man struck down by the ultimate act of thoughtlessness. A man who taught others when to use 'that' and when to use 'which' only to be felled by that over which he had no control." Despite George Washington and the cherry tree, we no longer have a society especially consecrated to truth. The culture produces an infinity of TV shows and movies depicting the importance of honesty. But they're really talking only about the importance of being honest about your feelings. Sharing feelings is not the same thing as telling the truth. We've become a country of situationalists. Journalism, politics and publishing have been tarred by scandals that have revealed a disturbing insensitivity to right and wrong. Random House isn't concerned that an author makes up stuff in a book labeled nonfiction; it just kept counting the money after The Smoking Gun exposed James Frey's lies about his own life. When Mr. Frey went on "Larry King Live" with his mom to defend his book's "essential truths," Oprah Winfrey called in to back him up. She sounded disturbingly like Scott McClellan. Despite doubts about facts in the book, she said, "the underlying message of redemption" still "resonates" with her. She should have said: "Had I known that many parts were fake, I wouldn't have recommended the book to millions of loyal viewers. I wouldn't have made this liar a lot of money." She should take a page from Stephen Colbert and put the slippery Frey on her "Dead to me" list. For David Rosenbaum, just retired at 63 but still full of enthusiasms, there was a right way and a wrong way, and he possessed a natural knowledge of which was which. "My father taught me the importance of always doing the right thing, always, even when it didn't really matter," his daughter, Dottie, said at the memorial service yesterday in a committee room in the Senate, David's old beat. "At my 12th birthday party, my parents took me and a bunch of friends to see a movie, and they counted up how many of us were already 12 so that they could pay the adult fare. ... even though none of us carried ID, and we all looked like total pipsqueaks." As his pal Robin Toner put it, David thought that behind every arcane tax provision and appropriations bill, "there were real people, getting something or having something taken away by their government." You had to keep digging and arguing to find the truth in the fog. Even when he was smothered by conventional wisdom, Robin recalled, "David's voice would break out: 'I disagree!' " He was practicing a lost art. Tough questioning now have no place in polite society. Martha-Ann Alito cries, and the Democrats back off from examining why Samuel Alito was so opportunistic about his bigoted alumni club and whether he will curb women's rights for generations. It's the wimpification of debate. W. mau-maus the Democrats and the press on his administration's Freyish blurring of fact and fiction on Iraq, trying to stifle any debate over the phony genesis of the war as bad for morale. What's truly bad for morale is when the president suggests it's dishonest to have an honest debate about the Bush cabal's dishonesty. If only someone had said, "I disagree!" in W.'s presence long ago, on pre-emptive war, on kidnapping and torture, on illegal eavesdropping. David's tortoise-shell reading glasses are still hanging on his computer. That scrupulous gaze will be missed. Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Major Little Scandal

I read 's memoir last spring. As I often do, I picked up a book on a table in a bookstore that looked interesting, read the back and ended up taking it home. The story blew me away. A kid that is a drug addict, alcoholic and major fuck-up, goes to rehab and makes good. It had a dental scene that may be one of the most harrowing things I have ever read. Short, staccato sentences. Stuff you just can't put down. I read his follow up. "My Friend Leonard" before Christmas- didn't like it as much, but it was still effective. There were things in the story that just seemed too much, how is it possible that one person is going through so much but it is a true story, right? So there you go. It's a true story. This happened. Except not so much. The Smoking Gun has published an article calling into question a number of the events that Frey details in "A Million Little Pieces". It has a become a bit of a scandal and Frey went onto to discuss it. (Why is that man still on TV? Is there a bigger sycophantic fuck than Larry King? Ok, yes there is- James Lipton.) Didn't see Frey and ole Larry, but the articles I have read have detailed that Oprah called defending Frey (It was one of her book club books. I want it on the record that I read it months before she suggested it. Not that I have anything against Oprah's book club. I think it's great. I just want credit for reading the thing before Oprah made it the best selling book by any American author last year.) Frey has now admitted to changing and making up details in the book. He gets around this in "My Friend Leonard" with a disclaimer at the beginning of the book. There is no disclaimer for "Pieces". Frey claims that it is only a small part of the book that was changed but I disagree. The events that he created push much of the action of the book and color who you think the protagonist is. I say protagonist rather than James Frey because I can't think of the book as a memoir any longer. I agree with Frey and his publisher’s assertions that "Memoirs are by nature imperfect and subjective". Conversations are going to be distilled down to make them more interesting, events crafted. . .This is the nature of the beast. However there is a huge difference with that and creating entire events that never took place. Like going to jail. Like the manipulating the time line, events and involvement in the death of a female friend. I don't think changing your age from 17 to 12 when two girls die in a car/train wreck and then claiming that the town turns on you and blames you for the accident is a small thing. It really is a shame. It's a great read, but the only thing that lifts it out of being melodrama is the thought that the events are true. I respect Mr. Frey for recovering from his drug and alcohol abuse and for his writing style. It sucked me in. His story was one that I found very compelling and I thought would make a fantastic film. But I have no interest reading anything else this man writes. He has lost my trust. Can you imagine how Tobias Wolff would be crucified if it was suddenly discovered that major events in his memoir This Boy's Life weren't true? Hey! Maybe his stepfather was a swell guy? Maybe the terrible events in Lucky by Alice Sebold never happened. Maybe Dave Eggers exaggerated things in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Maybe he didn't help raise his younger brother when his parents died. Heck! Maybe, his parents didn't die. That's okay! After all, "Memoirs are by nature imperfect and subjective." Yeah right. Wolff, Sebold and Eggers are wonderful writers and I am very comfortable making the assertion that they did not make up events in their memoirs. Why did Frey feel the need? Simple rule. If you are writing a memoir. . . you don't make shit up! (Can you tell that I am upset about this?)

God, I hope I get it. . . I hope I get it!

The interview went really well. I think. Not so sure about how I did in the role-play, but we will see. If they like me, the next interview will be on the phone or a videoconference with people back in the States. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My inner sexy cartoon chick

You're Betty Boop!
Bettie Boop

Who 's Your Inner Sexy Cartoon Chick ?
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The OC

Bless me father for I have sinned. I have become addicted to The OC. I never watched it in the states but I here I am watching it every single night. I need help.

Extra Chili Sauce

We are approaching the point in the story where our intrepid heroine gets the feared job in a kebab shop. Not really. I'm just sick with a cold and it is easy to feel sorry for yourself when your movement is restricted to bed to couch and you are huddled around space heaters wrapped in a flannel robe, wearing the same clothes for the last two days. Have a huge three-hour 2nd interview assessment torture enema on Thursday. I want the job, so wish me luck that they like the shape of my colon because they will be looking up it. First hour is a group exercise. Second hour is an interview. Third hour is a role play. Fourth hour they will be harvesting my eggs and I will need to write some snappy copy so they can advertise my DNA on the Internet. (That's a joke mom.) So we shall see. Keeping my fingers crossed. My first recruiter has proved herself to again be beyond useless. Her sins thus far? Sending me to two interviews where the job was much to senior for my current skill set. Sending me to an interview on the wrong day. Not confirming with me that an interview was scheduled. (On the day of the interview I remembered an e-mail saying that she was going to try and set something up and asked about it and. . . guess what. . . it was scheduled. Best part was it was one of the jobs I am too Junior for.) She never gives me the addresses of where I am going. I go to the company Web site and pull it from there where other recruiters I have dealt with have given it to me. Her e-mails are notoriously unprofessional and she keeps asking me for my mobile even though I have given it to her a million times. My recent annoyance comes because she sent me an e-mail the end of last week again asking for my "new moby". I don't have a new moby. It is the same flippen MOBY that she has had for two flippen months. When I speak to her, it is as if she has forgotten everything about what we have been working on. ” Nicola! How you doin' darling? You alright? Right, right. So we are back on the case, yeah? We are going to find you a nice job, yeah? How much were you looking for then?" In my first meeting with her, I had told her the pay scale that I had hoped to get. I hope that she has some neurological disease or does too much coke so that her brain is fried. I hate to think that she is naturally this disorganized. In positive news, S raised hell with our evil estate agents and the boiler people will be coming tomorrow so hopefully soon it will we warm inside.

Thirty Questions for Alito

Scott Turow kicks ass. Saw him speak a few years ago and he really impressed me. How I would love if these questions were posed to Alito. Op-Ed Contributor Thirty Questions for Alito: Back to Bush v. Gore By SCOTT TUROW 1. Without regard to how you will rule, tell us what you foresee today as the five most important legal issues that the Supreme Court will be asked to review in the next decade. Take "important" to mean that the issues raised hold the greatest potential consequence for the daily life of the nation and the development of our laws. 2. Since law school, you have worked almost exclusively for the government of the United States, which you have served in either the Department of Justice, or the judicial branch, where you worked first as a law clerk, and now as a judge. Do you regard this as an ideal pedigree for an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court? Why have you never chosen to work in the private or nonprofit sectors or to represent individual clients, an experience shared by the majority of the lawyers who will come before you? And point to five decisions you have made that should allay the concerns of those who believe that because of your monochromatic legal experience, you will be predisposed to favor the government in legal disputes with individuals, especially in criminal cases or cases concerning individual rights. 3. Name the five most difficult decisions you have had to make as a judge, where the correct answer to the issues posed seemed most elusive to you and the stakes to the parties or the nation were the highest. 4. Assume for the sake of this question that the Supreme Court concludes in the future that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, and that the Constitution does not protect a woman's right to have an abortion. Without stating how you would ultimately rule, but speaking simply as a constitutional expert, is there any constitutional provision that might reasonably be thought to reserve the right to regulate abortion to the states, as some Roe opponents contend? Put another way, if Roe was reversed, what constitutional provision might prevent federal efforts to impede or outlaw abortion, like statutes making it a crime to either cross state lines to seek an abortion or place in the stream of interstate commerce any medical device or implement knowing it is likely to be used for an abortion? 5. It is anticipated that you will decline to comment on cases and questions that you could be called upon to decide as a justice. But that scruple should not apply to cases that history teaches us are in all likelihood unique. Therefore, state how you would have ruled in the case of Bush v. Gore in December 2000. Beyond the principal decision, would you have joined the court's majority on Dec. 9, 2000, in voting to issue a stay, freezing the recount that had begun in response to the order of the Florida Supreme Court? If so, explain, with citation to supporting authorities, what "irreparable harm" part of the traditional legal formula for granting a stay, might have been done if the recount had continued while the United States Supreme Court was reviewing the lower court's order? Scott Turow, a former federal prosecutor, is the author, most recently, of "Ordinary Heroes."

Monday, January 09, 2006

it continues.

The boiler man is now not going to be here until Thursday. And they can't give me a time yet as to when they will be here. I think British customer service is truly remarkable for how crap it is. Oh well. During the day it is just cold. At night it is unbearable. You have to psych yourself up to leave the warm bed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It's sort of like going outside to go to an outhouse only colder. I'm whinging.

Friday, January 06, 2006

coldcoldcoldcoldcoldcoldcold

Our boiler that decided to give us a Christmas Present is still not fixed. Boiler Man came by on Tuesday and decided that the problem was the heat exchanger and that it was a two-person job. The part needed to be ordered. A new appointment was scheduled. Today. Sometime after 11:00. My apartment didn't have heat in Los Angeles and there were some snaps where I would be walking around with artic gear inside but it was a little different than this. Today it is going to range from 40-30 Fahrenheit (I will never master comprehending Celsius) meanwhile Los Angeles is having what looks like a heat wave ranging from 82 to 55. Normally it would be 68 to 48 this time of year but that is still a good deal warmer than what it is here. No, it isn't Chicago cold but when you don't have heating in your flat, you start to feel grumpy. We've been sitting in front of space heaters in the living room, surfing the Internet because the warmth from the laptop keeps you warm, clutching cups of tea for the heat as much as to drink. At night we go to bed with our clothes on and clutch each other in a futile attempt to stay warm. S had a business trip yesterday so I ran a space heater while I slept, which yes I know isn't the smartest thing in the world but it made the room cold lifting it up from fucking freezing. This morning the heating company called and said the Boiler Guys aren't coming today because neither of them can lift the part. Gits. I have a feeling neither of them will have a problem lifting a pint this evening. So now they are scheduled to come by on Wednesday sometime between 8:00 and 11:00. What are the odds that even if they do show the problem isn't solved? Agh, I'll live. I could always ride around on the tube all day. It's warm down there.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Holy Land Theme Park

This is wrong on so many levels. I have visions of a Walk On Water Like Jesus wadding pool, live action stations of the cross and kids walking around with crown of thorns hats. What will they name the food courts?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Love your accent

I needed a calling card so I ran out to get one from the Internet Cafe down the street that sells them. On the way, I popped into the Newsagent that was closer in case they sold them. They are always really nice in there. They didn't sell them but as I went to leave he asked, "May I ask where are you from?" "America." "Where in America?" "California." "Oh! Been to Florida but that is on the other side isn't it? And I have friends in New York and Boston. I love your accent." It is so funny how in America we love the British accent and I've gotten a few times that people like mine here which I just don't get, because it sounds so flat to me compared to the British lilt. Although it does depend. The east end accent isn't my favorite and the Margaret Thatcher stick up her bum annoys me too, but for the most part I love British accents. I also think it is cute that often when someone hears that you are from America they tell you the places there that they have been or they tell you that they want to visit. My boss in California was British and I used to joke that he really wasn't from London, that he put the accent on to get ahead in business since Americans love that shit. Maybe it will work for me on this side of the pond. If I ever get a bloody job. Here is an interesting article from the BBC about how some regional UK accents may be bad for business.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Budapest Pics

Parliament
Parliament,
Click the picture to see all the photos in this set.
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I love the views of London along the Thames. Maybe I'm nuts but I prefer it to the Seine. At night the Danube in Budapest gives London a run for her money. There isn't a lot of light in winter making everything look grey/blue. We didn't make it to the baths or the Jewish section and museum so I want to come back in the spring or summer. Will be interesting to see how the light is different. There were a lot of American tourists there. Was bizarre. It is easy to forget the sordid recent past of the city from the Soviet occupation and World War II. Easy until you are in a junk shop and you come across desktop busts of Stalin and Lenin and toy soldiers with Nazi armbands. We have a thing that every city we go to we need to eat Chinese food at least once. A funny quirk of fate placed one next door to our hotel.

Happy New Year!

We went to Matt's last night and he made raclette and chocolate mousse. (Diet starts today. Really. It is necessary.) We had booked a mini cab to go watch the fireworks on the river and then take the tube home since it was working even though there was a strike. We ended up nixing that which I'm happy about. Bleeding heart liberal that I am, I don't believe in crossing a picket line. I also felt kind of tired. I was thinking that midnight would chime and I could skulk home. The night of the 30th we went through four bottles of red wine and two bottles of champagne so I was feeling knackered. At midnight we stood out on Matt's back stairs and watched the fireworks that neighbors were setting off (probably horded from Guy Fawkes day). There was a little girl, eleven or so that was looking out her window trying to look up at the sky and when she saw us she waved and we waved back. After we sat down at the table and we all sort of looked at each other. Okay. . .what now? We decided to take a chance and try and get into a pub. Drinking laws are so backward here I didn't think we would get in anywhere but we managed to sneak into The Bedford and we drank and danced until 5:00 AM. How I don't have a hangover I don't know. I love being able to walk home from the pub. Hope you all have a wonderful New Year!