Monday, July 27, 2009

A Little Blog Nap

I'm in one of those loops where I write blog posts and then, for one reason or another, can't hit "publish". It's a phase I go through. I'm sure you're all desperate for more from me (riiiiight). Maybe soon. I posted the photo above to my Facebook profile. I took it ouside Petsmart this weekend with my Blackberry--probably the best photo my Blackberry has ever taken. Good light. It's all about the light. Well, and that and the ultra-cuddly subject matter doesn't hurt anything either.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Sara Astruc Interview

First, a ridiculously long preface.

I'm beyond excited to post this interview with writer Sara Astruc (pictured above), an on and off-line writer whose print work entitled "Jailbait: A Love Story" will finally be available in a couple of months at Amazon.

If you're not familiar, Sara was one of the Original online journalers. Back in the time not too many years after Al Gore sponged the remnant afterbirth of the internet off his inner thighs (no control, sorry). Back then, there were no such things as web logs or blogs or widgets or sites like Blogger that made it possible for everyone and their dog to write online. There was only coding and uploading. (Or something.)

It was the "Information Super Highway" and it was a whole new frontier.

I merged on to the Highway in 1998 and was immediately turned on by a friend of mine to what were then called "online journals" even sometimes "online diaries". I was soon hooked on a few: "Ceej's Battered Black Book", "The Book of Rob", "Daily Dose of Deb, "Dear Jackie Robinson" aka "Bad Hair Days". It was a new sort of addiction that fed into my love of reading and my documentary bent. Suddenly, I was strangely connected, but then not connected, to a whole circle of people and their everyday lives. Or at least the part of their lives they shared (often a suprisingly large amount).

I knew I would one day join their ranks. I loved reading them all.

But none so much as Sara Astruc.

Sara's journal, "Perfect Way" was, and still is, the most compelling blog (online journal) I've ever read. Her vast archives kept me glued to my computer screen for one whole entire Saturday night, as I devoured her writing in one juicy satisfying gulp, in those now faraway days of the 1990's. I became a slavishly devoted fan of her all-to-infrequent posts. What did she write about? Herself. Her past loves--one past love in particular. I think Sara was unusual in this way: that she opened up and shared herself so completely when she told a story. To me, Sara is the Joni Mitchell of blogging. And, of course, that means she is an amazing writer.

Eventually, Sara would stop writing much, at least online. I followed her through a few website incarnations through the years, always hoping she'd write more or get published as I knew she should. She still has a blog and it's still called Perfect Way. It has been near the top of my link list, sort of a little prayer, since I wrote my first post nearly five years ago. The Perfect Way of today, however, does not hint at Sara's prolific online past (though you can get whet your whistle here). Through the years, Sara and I crossed paths online a few times and this connection would eventually lead to a bolt of lightening in my in-box...would I like to interview Sara in my blog?



And then I plotzed from excitement. Completely. And then I ran around like a headless chicken in my brain for a while (not that that's a particularly unusual occurance). And then I finally narrowed down the ridulous number of questions my brain began screaming at me to ten questions.

And then? Holy crap, she answered them.

Which is a really long way of saying: Here's my Sara Astruc interview. It's one of the awesomer things that ever happened to my blog. Enjoy.

ME: Why the long internet silences? Blog, already—I’m dyin’ ovah heeyuh!

SARA: Oh, lots of reasons. I started the page to tell some old stories. I didn't really want to write about the present. I am a private person. I do understand that it's hard to reconcile a private person with the sort of explicit and deeply personal writing I enjoyed putting out into the world, but I could hide behind my anonymity back then. Not so much, anymore.

A lot has happened since I slowed down... September 11th, Nan (my mother) being diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian-Peritoneal Cancer, some health scares of my own; job stress; my graduate research surfacing on Metafilter, of all places; a complicated relationship; some frightening and unpleasant truths about David (my father) finally coming to light.

The real story is unpleasant and not sparkly and not a fun read. My motto when I started this thing was "do no harm." I never wanted to use my web page as a weapon, never wanted to hurt people that are already wounded. So I started keeping my mouth shut.

And in Seattle, where everyone is so terribly wired, I had a harder time maintaining what was left of my privacy. My worlds finally collided when a guy I worked with and liked very much walked up to my desk and stuck a yellow Post-It to my monitor. It said "Damn Hell Ass Kings," and I thought Oh, shit.

I was going to tell him about the online stuff, of course, but Seattle turned out to be a scary small town and he'd found out all sorts of things about me over that weekend. And these people, who have information about me, well, they mostly got it over the Internet and don't really know me at all. So I had some explaining to do.

He thought it was hilarious, that I lead a double life, except it isn't. It's just all different parts of the same life. My life. And I am uncomfortable having to explain myself.

ME: How do you feel now about the fact that you chronicled, online during the stone age of the internet a) what at least seemed to me to be a very personal account of your first love, with high school BF Robin Artemus (a pseudonym, right?) and b) a list of your lovers otherwise known as "The List". These online writings caused a stir back in the day, did they not?

SARA: I started my web page on GeoCities in 1996 called, simply, The List. It consisted of a recitation of 35 or so names, men that I had all been involved with or dated or even kissed once in an elevator over the years. If you clicked on a name, it lead you to my diary entries from that time in my life. A couple of months after my site went up, it received Cool Site of the Day from Gannett Newspapers, and my traffic skyrocketed.

Having a list of men you've messed around with up on the Internet was a pretty revolutionary concept at the time, and it brought me a certain amount of coverage from the mainstream media. I was first interviewed by Condé Nast's Swoon, and then a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer emailed me. It was his ensuing front page article that brought me to Justin Hall, and my first understanding of online journals.

In an effort to have changing content to my site, I began writing little essays — about my high school reunion, about Bill Clinton, whatever struck my fancy. I called this section of my website "Random Sample", and it wasn't until months later that I finally conceded that I was keeping an online journal, in spite of my best efforts to claim otherwise.

I'm not entirely sure what I expected. The Internet seemed a lot smaller back then. I imagined most of my readers as sort of sweet and dorky IT guys and research scientists. And for a while, this is what it was. The readership was almost universally men. The email they sent was smart and friendly and polite. Sometimes the guys would ask me for advice about their love lives, cry on my shoulder about their broken hearts, and ask if I knew why I was still single.

There were some flirty emails, but nothing scary. So I got more confident, and more open. And then America Online was taking off, and I agreed to appear in a televised interview that showed up in 13 countries, and suddenly my inbox was full of come-ons and intense speculation about where I lived and worked.

The response was amazing and a tiny bit frightening for someone like me.

ME: Does the real Robin know you shared the story—has he read it?

SARA: I told Robin about all of this in 1999. I was long overdue to tell him about the site. How could I not? I'd written about him for years, and then I was going on the television to talk about what I'd written. I had to tell him. He took it pretty well, he knew this day of reckoning would some day come from the little girl who'd loved him so much.

"I have something to tell you," I began, twisting my linen napkin around my fingers. Watching his face was awful. He didn't know what was coming, and it was a terribly tense moment.

I explained that I had written about him, about us, in a public forum, and he cringed. "It isn't bad," I interjected hurriedly. "Well, I mean, we both look equally bad. But it's a love story," I finished lamely.

"What did you name me?"

"What?" Of all the questions I thought he might ask, I never considered this one. Shit. "Robin Altemus.

"He blanched. "Robin? You named me Robin?"

"Robin is my middle name."

I reminded him quietly.

His eyes shot up to mine. "I had forgotten that," he admitted. He picked up his empty glass. Signaled the waiter. "You've been trying to tell me this for a long time, haven't you? You tried to tell me in Florida." The waiter takes his empty glass away. "It's okay, Sara." He throws some bills into the little leather folder. "It doesn't matter."

In the end, that was pretty much all that was said.

ME: Why the move to Seattle? You seem such the NYC girl (sojourns to FL notwithstanding).

SARA: Oh lord, I so do not fit in in Seattle. I used to entertain myself wearing my mother's mink swing coat to the Safeway at the top of Queen Anne Hill. People would actually hiss at me. They do not approve of women cutting up odious little animals for the sake of vanity.

There are some lovely things about Seattle, but none of them seem to be enough to keep me here permanently. I want to go back to my people, even though that life really fucked me up. But maybe now I get that, and why I let it happen, and maybe it won't happen again.

Or maybe it will happen again, maybe I will make all the same mistakes and all I am now is all I will ever be.

Last night I did laundry and sat a long time in front of the Bosch front-loader washer, watching my sheets spin around and around. The washing machine and dryer came with the house and are the fanciest appliances I have ever owned. I wish I could take them with me when I go. Am I going? I doubt it. I don't know where to go.

I want the next time I move to be last time I move, so I am not making any decisions today.

ME: Are you now (or have you ever been) married?

SARA: I have never married. I was legitimately engaged once, very young, and there have been a couple of half-assed offers over the years. I believed I was supposed to get married, that if a man didn't want to marry me then he really didn't love me. I understand it better now. For someone who thought she wanted to get married, though, I managed to duck and run every time it really came up.

Turning 40 was kind of freeing in that regard. It was like some invisible line in my head was crossed, a deadline or something, and I didn't have to pretend I wanted it anymore. I'm relieved now I never married. I like being unfettered in that respect.I am a loner by nature, and suspect I am just not the marrying kind. The men I tend to be interested in are married to their careers. It would have been nice to find a compromise somewhere along the way, but in the end I pick the men over the marriage.

There's always that tiny part of me that resists convention.

ME: Your writing is AMAZING. I think this is partly because you so effectively convey the fact that you feel –how to say—an otherness, sort of separate from or different than everyone else. On the other hand, you seem a totally hip, everything-going-for-you kind of girl. What gives?

SARA: I think the former is more true than the latter. I grew up a little out of step with my peers, being Jewish in a very old school NY social sort of town. I'm still sort of surprised by any social success I had back then.

ME: If memory serves, you began “journaling on-line” (this was waaaay before blogs, kiddies) while convalescing from open-heart surgery at an uncommonly young age (right?). Heck, you’re still young. Are you okay now?

SARA: I am okay. I had a stroke and then open heart surgery to correct an atrial septal defect that caused blood to shunt in the wrong direction in my heart. I was sick for about six years before I had the stroke-- heart palpitations, dizziness, vertigo, fainting. I went to doctor after doctor looking for help. They all diagnosed me with anxiety.

My then-fiance was a doctor and was no help either. My constant illness caused problems at work, with my family, and screwed up a couple of relationships. It's hard to date when you're sick all the time.

When I had the stroke it was a huge relief to find out I had never been crazy, and finally had a diagnosis. I floated along on this little polly-annaish cloud for awhile, and then about five years ago I got really fucking angry. I am only just recently getting over that rage.> >

ME: Do you have a huge legion of internet fans clamoring to read more of your work (much like, for instance, oh I don’t know, ME)?

SARA: I feel fortunate to hear from folks who'd like to read a bit more from me, but I can only hope that they'll feel compelled to buy my book once it's out. I am not taking anything for granted.

ME: A BOOK!!! I’m so excited to hear you’re writing a book!!!! Tell me all about it?

SARA: I'm going to be releasing my diary archives in a self-published book on Amazon in a couple of months. It's primarily the Robin Altemus story from The List. Holding it up all these years have been issues of privacy and money. I'd found an agent in 2001, but after September 11, I crawled into a bottle of scotch and my agent ran away to Vermont. Now, looking at the numbers, I think the story would best be served by me self-publishing.

I am willing and able to do my own promotion, and the Internet has always been kind to me. So I'm not even looking for a publisher at this point. I'm just going to get it out there and hope for the best.

ME: WHY NOT ROBIN 4-EVER? [Can’t help myself.]

God bless Robin, I still love him so. But we are not fated to be together. I would be a terrible wife to him, easily distractible and lost in my own head. He is safely married and has a beautiful daughter and I wish him nothing but a lifetime of peace and happiness after the hurricane that was me blowing in and out of his life.

ME: Bonus Q: Still drive Camilla?

SARA: Camilla went to Jaguar heaven. But in her place is a lovely X-Type, that has served me well. I bought her with the money I was saving in case Skye and I moved in together, or got married, or ran off to to Africa. I've driven her back and forth from Seattle to Florida, and she is a most perfect replacement for my old XJ-6.

It's funny, it's just a dumb hunk of metal, but I felt more like myself again.

Keep up with Sara at Perfect Way as well as at The Simplest, a discussion community she runs. Look for "Jailbait: A Love Story" at Amazon as well as on my own personal Night Stand in a few months.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Isn't that...SPECIAL?

[Further edited to add: See video here of an annoyed Jon Gosselin denying the engagement rumor.
Edited to add: I don't really think a jeweler's statement can be considered "confirmation" of an engagement, however, the photo confirms yet another embarassing tee-shirt choice.]
In Touch is reporting Jon Gosselin proposed to his 22-year-old girlfriend, Hailey Glassman, during a recent holiday weekend in France. Gosselin reportedly presented Glassman with a $180,000 engagement ring featuring a skull surrounded by four black diamonds.

Because, you know, nothing says love like a skull.

The report of this engagement is being met with skepticism all over the interwebs. However, if Jon's recent arrested development fashion choices (above) are any indication, I suspect skull love isn't too far off the mark.

Read the whole story here.

(Interesting aside: I think Glassman resembles Kate Gosselin in the looks department. Just sayin'.)

A Wolf at the Table

I don't know about you? But when I read "Running With Scissors", I couldn't help but wonder what family situation lead up to poor Augusten getting abandoned at his crazy mother's crazy psychiatrist's house to be reared. What, I had to ask myself, in the world, had the poor boy been used to up to that point? Was it all Ozzie and Harriet?

"A Wolf at the Table" is the book that answers that question. Answers it thoroughly. Answers it emphatically. Answers it without pity. Answers it without blinking. (And I really, really wished he would have blinked a couple of times).

Poor Augusten Burroughs, ya'll. Unless you were actually sired by a rabid dog? You undoubtedly enjoyed a better childhood than Augusten. I am sorry to inform you that the years preceding his parental abandonment (chronicled in RWS) were absolutely no better than the ones that followed. And I don't give away any plot points by telling you this. "A Wolf at the Table" is not about plot. It's about survival and cruelty. Period.

The marriage of Augusten Burrough's mother and father was, to put it mildly, troubled. John Burroughs, Augusten's father, was a philosophy professor at Amherst cursed with unusually rotten teeth, a twisted mind, and the world's worse case of psoriasis. Oh, and did I mention the arthritis? He possessed, according to Augusten, the psychological make-up of a serial killer and may or may not have acted on those impulses. Augusten was a child either terrorized or completely ignored by his, at best distant, and at worst, mentally and physically abusive father. He grew up a neglected little boy in a small moldering house in the woods scrounging for everything from food to love to veterinary care for the family pets (he seldom succeeded on any of these counts). Eventually, Augusten would come perilously close to murdering the man he, ironically, called "Dead" (according to Augusten this pronounciation was the result of his New England accent mixing with the word "Dad". Creepy.)
With "A Wolf at the Table" Burroughs officially finishes chronicling his entire (exhausting) childhood; with "Dry" his struggle with alcoholism (Burrough's father was also alcoholic...surprise!). If you are wondering why anyone would bother to immerse themselves in such grim works, you need only to read the first couple of pages of any of these books to be sucked in to Augusten's spare, muscular writing style not to mention addicted to sticking around to see what fresh hell awaits the man. There's plenty to go around.

In "A Wolf at the Table" Augusten recalls the effects of his childhood after he has broken away, trading on his talents to get a job in advertising:

I was an associate creative director at an ad agency in Manhattan. At the office, I was funny and people seemed to like me. I'd worked with the same art director for many years and we traveled together from agency to agency as a creative team, so she assumed she knew me well. A few times a day I would go into the men's room, close myself inside a stall, sit on the toilet, and block my ears with my hands. I would stay that way for a few minutes, trying to calm myself. I had the feeling that my home life, my real life, my dirty life, was leaking out, showing through. I had the feeling that people at the office could see something rotten and disturbing and insane poking through me.

It's no wonder. What is a wonder is that Augusten survived it at all. With (seemingly at least) so many of his gifts intact.


Keep up with Augusten Burroughs here at his website. Read his blog otherwise known as a "blob" here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Great Gatsby Pre-Review

I stumbled across a reference on an internet back road today about a Martin Scorsese version of The Great Gatsby and my head almost fell off from shock. Turns out, what I read actually referred to this season's HBO show Entourage in which the Gatsby/Scorsese project is a fictitious production written into the plot of the show. Entourage, with its savvy finger-on-the-pulse of Tinseltown sensibility may or may not have contributed to the development of projects before. For instance, a movie about notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar that may or may not be directed by Joe Carnahan (Smokin' Aces) when his current film, White Jazz wraps. Read more about the Entourage phenom here.

But I digress.

My point is that this set me Googling Gatsby, one of my favorite novels ever. I have read this work countless times. It's one of those books I turn to like an old, impossibly soft pair of jeans or a warm blanket straight out of the dryer on a cold night. For me, when I'm down, there's no literary comfort like Gatsby:

"And as I sat there, brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out Daisy's light at the end of his dock. He had come such a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close he could hardly fail to grasp it. But what he did not know was that it was already behind him, somewhere in the vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night."

Wonderful. There's an undercurrent (overcurrent?) that runs through Fitzgerald's writing that is hopeless and haunting. Doomed. I love it. "Gatsby" is the grandaddy of them all. It is filled with hopeless nostalgic longing. Gatsby never fails to comfort me in that, if nothing else, it assures me this is the human condition.

It is the nostalgic quality, I think, that makes the Gatsby story so hard to pin down in a film. If it were music, it would be a heartbreaking single violin solo. The 1970s version of "The Great Gatsby" starring Mia Farrow as Daisy, Robert Redford as Gatsby, Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway, Bruce Dern as Tom Buchanan, and Karen Black as Myrtle Wilson, in my opinion, could not possibly have been more perfectly cast. (Not to mention scored: "What'll I do?") I see these actors in my mind in those roles when I read the book to this day. Still, the movie somehow didn't quite work (though I still watch it now and then) and I can never put my finger on precisely why. It is technically remarkably faithful to the book. Each scene is played as written. Unlike the book, however, the sum of the movie's parts do not add up to anything greater.

What I learned today is that Australian director Baz Luhrmann is taking a crack at it. The movie is in the impossibly early stages, is not yet even cast. This MTV blog post speculates that Luhrman might collaborate again with Leonardo Di Caprio who, in my opinion, would make an excellent Gatsby. He's the right age (maybe even plus a few years) with the right acting chops to do the job. (Let's hope!) The buzz, however, indicates Luhrmann may be favoring Di Caprio for the role of Nick Carraway (so wrong!)
Okay, I'll just go ahead and say it, what they may be very likely thinking is Brad Pitt as Gatsby and Di Caprio as Carraway. A choice so monumentally wrong, so utterly stupid, that it makes my stomach roll. Brad Pitt is a cute guy. He provides plentiful excellent sperm for skank-ho turned international goodwill ambassador, Angelina Jolie. He did an okay job in a few movies. He has never, ever done anything outstanding. He is absolutely one-hundred percent NOT. JAY. GATSBY. DO YOU HEAR ME BAZ LUHRMANN?
We must also note, Luhrmann's most recent work, "Australia"? Floptastic. On still other hands, Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet. Both innovative and successful. If "Gatsby" is going to work, it's going to take someone with some nerve. I'm going to go ahead and hope for the best.

But I suspect it's doomed. Utterly, impossibly, hopelessly.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Design Star Season 4 (And a Hint of Things to Come)

You won't want to miss the premiere of Design Star Season 4 on HGTV (tomorrow) Sunday, July 19 at 9 p.m. (CST). Sunday's show will feature 13 designers 3 of which are "semi-finalists". Two semi-finalists will be eliminated on tomorrow's episode. Check out all the contestants here. Not sure I'll have time for episode recap as I did during the Summer of Fun, but I'll definitely be along for the ride. I love this competition show; it's second only to Project Runway in my book.

The action takes place this year in Hollywood where the competing designers will share this fabulous Hollywood house:

Not many words these days, but I will tell you to watch out for a Very Special Post coming up right here next Tuesday.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dinner at Jasmine

Circumstances conspired to prevent me from attending opening night at Jasmine (Thursday), but I managed a visit tonight and, boy, was it worth the wait. I cannot, CANNOT recommend it highly enough. Especially if you can get Nikki May to go with you and stay until passed closing time like we did tonight. Here you see Nikki w/her "Saki-tini" staying in touch with The World through her iPhone. It was quite a relief to dine with someone you don't have to apologize to for obsessively checking your e-mail, updating your Facebook status, and grabbing your phone like Pavlov's dog every time it twitches. We are obsessed...OBSESSED I tell you!

Round 1: In the foreground, my "Tom Kah" soup, a mixture of tomatoes, mushrooms and shrimp in creamy coconut milk, lime juice, red curry paste and Galangal root, garnished with cilantro (I'm a little misty now just thinking about it). In the background is Nikki's very pretty appetizer: chopped avocado, tomato, and spicy ahi tuna. It was delicious too.

Main course: Basil stir-fry: chicken, red pepper, green pepper, cucumber, onion in a hot spicy sweet basil-garlic sauce. Heavenly.

Jasmine in general, looking very un-Paducah-like toward the end of the night. Snapped from my seat at our table. Nikki and I noted how also un-Paducah-like the crowd looked. Oddly, the majority of those dining were wearing black and white strangely matching the Lowertown artwork hanging on the walls. It was all very reassuring.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The George-Wilson 20 Year Anniversary

The George-Wilson Literary Club is a family group that has been meeting, more or less, once a month for the past 20 years. The club is named for my Grandfather ("Wilson"), now deceased, and Grandmother (maiden name "George"). Members share original writings, photos, music, read from work they find interesting, or recently, even original video. Of course, there is also delicious food involved at every get together. The meetings rotate from member house to member house and are usually held on Saturdays. It was far from a full crew today, but we nevertheless still celebrated the milestone with our usual enthusiasm.

BubbleShare: Share photos - Play some Online Games.

(Lord knows, we hate to have our picture made.)

Click the photos for larger versions and captions at Bubbleshare.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Impressions of The Michael Jackson Funeral

[Updated to add: Also notably absent from the funeral: Lisa Marie Presley, wife #1, who, as I've belatedly learned, not enough of you realize wrote a blog post on her My Space (barf) page that is reproduced, in part, here by US magazine. Debbie Rowe, wife #2, and surrogate and/or biological mother to two of MJ's children.]

You've seen the clips and coverage by now.

The Jackson brothers all in matching black suits, white shirts, yellow ties, yellow boutonnières, and sunglasses seated front row in a dimmed Staples Center before a crowd of twenty thousand. Countless millions more in the viewing audience worldwide across most all major networks. The spotlit gold casket presumably holding the remains, sans brain (as relentlessly reported), of MJ. Magic Johnson talking about Kentucky Fried chicken. Kobe Bryant. Usher laying a hand on, and singing to, the casket. The Reverend Al Sharpton to Michael’s children, “Wuddn’t nuttin’ wrong with yo Daddy.” The children of Martin Luther King, Jr. (or the junior juniors as I’ve come to think of them). Jennifer Hudson, Brooke Shields, Lionel Richie, Queen Latifah, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, Mariah Carey. Texas Congresswoman Barbara Lee reminding the audience (lest they’d forgotten) one is “innocent until proven guilty”. Smokey Robinson as emcee, who looked freshly nip-tucked for the occasion.
Yet all this pales in comparison to the finale when the Jackson brothers and Janet and La Toya (both sisters clad entirely in black, sunglasses and black hats) took the stage en masse, along with Michael’s children: Prince Michael, Paris, and Blanket. Various Jackson brothers took the microphone and briefly dissolved into cringe-inducing, random remembrances. And then endless uncomfortable moments of silence and fumbling as the Jacksons struggle to lower the microphone to little Paris Jackson’s level so she could choke out a heartbroken,

"I just wanted to say ... ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father ... you could ever imagine. And I just wanted to say I love him…so much.”

(Scripted or spontaneous?)

While Paris’s remarks were a convenient and undeniably heart rending punctuation mark finale to the funeral fiasco, who can forget the lengths to which Michael Jackson went to shield these same children from the press? To protect them from the notoriety, from the freakish fame he himself could never escape? The veils, the masks.

If anyone. Was ever. Going to spin in their casket? This would have been the time. And Michael Jackson would have been the guy.

Notably absent: Liz Taylor who tweeted, “I said I wouldn't go to the Staples Center and I certainly don't want to become a part of it. I love him too much.” Also not in attendance, Diana Ross, who Michael named as a secondary guardian of his children should Kathryn Jackson be unable to fulfill the role. Legendary record producer Quincy Jones. Liza Minelli, presumably a close friend; MJ (along with buddy Liz Taylor) was famously part of the wedding party at what I consider to be (thus far) biggest freak show of the century: Minelli’s ill-fated and ridiculously extravagant NYC wedding to David Guest in 2002.

I am, in exactly equal parts, drawn to and repelled by this story/spectacle and others like it and fear this extravaganza has ushered in a new phenomenon:

The Variety Show Funeral!!!
[Cue up-tempo version of “Taps”]
The Body!….
The Mourners!...
And special guest star…Unexpected Latest Performance Competition Show Winner!!!!

(We’re so doomed.)

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Change your pulls...change your life.

I've spent the better part of the long weekend finishing up the majority of my Geography course work. I've procrastinated on taking my region tests unmercifully; Friday I had eight tests to go. As of now, I'm down to three. And these I'm determined to finish tonight. Even if it takes all night. Sociology begins Tuesday and, though I technically have until the end of the month, I do not want this work hanging over my head along with whatever homework torture Sociology will soon rain down upon me.

Otherwise, I also managed to address another task in the unending home improvement list. This one, however, was a major pleasure. You see above the old cabinet pull (left) juxtaposed with the new. I've always hated those old pulls, I mean hated them with a passion. For years. I'm not sure what color they are supposed to be...bronze? Brown metal? Gold? And the style...oxidized early American nightmare? The new Dark Granite paint color only served to reemphasize their already startling inadequacy and so, when, on an excursion to Tar-jhay, I happened upon some brushed nickel pulls (value packs!!) of the exact right size to fit the existing screw holes (no use reinventing the wheel here), I jumped at the chance to rid myself of the crappy pull plague once and for all.

As a bonus, it was but another happy opportunity to employ the smooth, brute power of the Bosch 10.8 Volt Litheon I-Driver. For approximately the cost of a can of good paint and 45 minutes (if that) of my time, I corrected a style wrong in my kitchen that's been driving me crazy for years. So good!

[An aside...I have the old pulls and screws bagged in a freezer bag. What does one do with these things? Have a use for them? E-mail me and they're yours.]

Friday, July 03, 2009

Who's Bad?

Pop icon, Michael Jackson, died June 25th, more than a week ago. His body has since been subjected to two autopsies; understandable when the cause of death is in doubt. What isn't understandable, and what's never quite understandable to me anyway, is how a family justifies such a prolonged period of time between death and laying that loved one to rest.

Granted, Jackson is a pop star and an icon. More importantly in this situation, he was also a son, brother, father, and friend. He could (and should) be shown a respect in death he was never quite able to achieve in life: a quick, dignified burial. Sadly, as the time between death and burial grows, the more the freak factor grows. The funeral has been reported to be public, private, and both. Held at Neverland, Forest Lawn, and the Staples Center in Los Angeles (capacity 20,000). There have been reports of a glass casket, a glass hearse, both and neither. Meanwhile Jackson's body reportedly languishes in cold storage at Forest Lawn.

This Newsweek story, seemingly a little more credible than the rest, and told from the perspective of an unidentified source close to the Jackson family, reports Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, is worried that "...leaving Michael unburied for more than a week would cause his soul to wander, and she feels his soul wandered enough on Earth." Amen, sister. The piece also has this to say about the question of a public viewing: Jackson's body currently isn't in shape for a public viewing, the friend says, though many in the family still think the public should see him one last time. But his mother, Katherine, who seems to be calling all the shots, is very strongly against a public viewing, as is his sister Janet.

Unfortunately, what the article doesn't report on is the finalized arrangements which are still apparently, incredibly, up in the air.


It seems to me that Katherine's wishes as Michael's closest living relative (Jackson's father Joe is a complete jackass by all accounts including Michael Jackson's) should simply be adhered to. A private service and burial period, the end. We can only hope. I fear the more ghoulish option, however, may be in offing. It would be a freakish end to an even more freakish life and perhaps it is inevitable.

But what a huge missed opportunity.