23 July 2008

Not For J-Bro

because she is a hater of the Moonlighting. And this post is mostly about Moonlighting. Fair warning.

So last night, I went to the home of the Lady Rebecca, bottle of white wine and Moonlighting season 5 in hand. We have been trying to get through this final season since my birthday in February, but it is so awful that we've had a hard time. (The season begins with an episode devoted to Maddie's fetus--played by Bruce Willis--who she miscarries right after we find out that the baby is, indeed, Maddie and David's. Bruce Willis sucks his thump and bounces on a trampoline a lot in this episode. It is painful and upsetting.)

In order to finish, we had to get through the last 4 episodes. Well, really just 3, since one of them was a Burt/Agnes episode, and we just fast forwarded through it. Anyway, this was a poorly conceived idea on our parts. 1) We drank the whole bottle of wine, and we'd both been drinking earlier in the evening too. 2) We had no business intertwining the end of Moonlighting and my approaching departure from Austin. Frankly, both of those things are bleak enough as it is without piling one on top of the other.

The final episode is especially upsetting, because 10 minutes before the end, the show goes into the meta-television mode that it had done so well in the early seasons. It discusses the cancellation of the show, and the fans' disappointment with the way that the romance between David and Maddie devolved in the last 2 seasons. Then there is a clip montage, which serves only to remind us of how much we did, indeed, love watching these two fall in love, and how truly horrendous it was to watch the show unravel. In other words, the final episode pours salt into the psychic wounds left by the show, and doesn't provide ANY closure at all. Thanks for that, crappy Moonlighting writers.

Rebecca turned off the television and asked me if there were really ever any good series finales. We were hard pressed to think of one, save the end of Six Feet Under. (And that WAS so good that we both got a little teary-eyed just talking about Claire driving away and looking in her rear-view mirror. True story. When I finally saw the last episode I cried so hard that I made myself throw up.) Rebecca also liked the last episode of Sex and the City. I have no opinion about this, as I have never seen a full episode of that damn show. (Now that I think about it, I sort of liked the end of Deadwood too, although I was pissed that 1) it was ending at all and 2) that they killed off my most favorite character.)


In other news about my entertainment consumption--I have now watched the first 4 episodes of the first season of Hill Street Blues. Get ready for it, people, I have plenty to say about that. But I want to watch a little more first.


And I rented the Joy Division documentary. It's so good that I went out and immediately also got the biopic Control. You don't have to watch both. But you should watch one--preferably the documentary--unless you really like Samantha Morton. I don't dislike Samantha Morton, but I can't see her and not remember her in Minority Report and that just makes me think about the Dickmen (about whom I think I wrote about on the myspace blog, yes?) and that is just NO GOOD.

What I learned by watching the doc is that I love Peter Hook, and he looks like Alan Rickman. They could be brothers, actually. And although I would love to be a Joy Division fan, because it seems cool somehow, I frankly prefer the pop sensibility of New Order, and I probably always will.

Let's face it. I'm pretty mainstream.

18 July 2008

I Hate Bulls***

Before I begin this post in earnest, let me admit that I realize that my title is, in itself, bullshit. In several ways BS is my bread and butter. Consider: 1) I have been accused of possessing the Dorsey tendency toward hyperbole (thanks for that, Mikey J). 2) I like to tell stories. 3) I am in a PhD program in English Literature. Enough said.

But there is a specific brand of BS that I do hate. And I have a hard time characterizing it exactly, so I am going to provide you with a few very specific examples so that you get my general meaning.

* I hate encores. Encores are the kind of BS that I hate. Listen Mr./Ms Rockstar, I know that you have a specific set list that you are going to play on any given night. I know that you are going to save some of your best material (and maybe a kickass cover or two) for the end of the show. Why do you have to walk offstage and make me beg for it? Did I not already pay out the nose and then stand around for two hours (not to mention the hour for your crappy opening act) getting elbowed and groped and having to watch some obnoxious couple glue themselves together (woman's back to man's stomach) and sway in front of me, all for the pleasure of hearing the one or two songs that I really like at the end of the evening? C'mon. I hate clapping anyway. You have hard earned cash that should prove my appreciation. Just come out on stage and play a freaking set and then have the house turn up the lights to let me know to go home. I don't need to chap my palms just to have you run back up on stage to give a practiced Sally-Field-esque "they like me, they really like me" look to your audience. And don't even get me started on the multiple encore variety. That is just ridiculous.

*I hate haggling. Haggling is the kind of BS that I hate. Just tell me what you want for an item, and then I'll decide if I think that it is worth it. Seriously. This is why I avoid 1) car dealerships, 2) garage sales, 3) conversations with my brother. (You all know which one I mean, too.) I also avoid late-night television infomercials. How 'bout you only take up two minutes of airtime and leave the other 58 for for rerunning The Scarecrow and Mrs. King (which, let's face it, is what I really want to be watching at 3 am) by just telling me everything that my $19.99 plus shipping and handling (also BS, by the way) will buy? I don't need the illusion of getting anything free. I just need to know everything that will come in the box, should I order your product, and then I need some Bruce Boxleitner.

*I hate threats from people in authority that something is going to go on my "permanent record." "Permanent records" are the kind of BS that I hate. What crap. No one has a "permanent record", except maybe with the FBI or with Homeland Security, and, let's face it, if you have that kind of file, no one is there reminding you that they are keeping records. They want to make you forget that you have that kind of permanent record.

*But more than any of that, I hate athletes who claim that they are going to retire and then keep coming back to their sport, often running their otherwise admirable sporting legacy into the ground. Retirement fake-outs are the kind of BS that I hate.

And now maybe you know what this post is really about--that giant tool Brett Favre. Seriously. I don't care how good a QB he is, or how loyal he has been perceived as being to the Packers, if I were a Packer fan (hell, if I cared about professional football at all), I'd be pissed. Either play the game or don't, I don't really care, but STOP claiming that you are retiring.

Did his mother never read Brett "The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf"? That kid was EATEN because he played fast and loose with the truth. Don't test people's devotion, Brett, because eventually they will start to feel burned. (And I understand that Favre is not the first athlete to pull this sort of thing. I mean, this is part of the reason that I can't freaking stand Michael Jordan, and why, as much as I like the idea of sweaty men in shorts trying to hit each other as hard as they can, I can't get too into boxing.)

True story: in the early to mid-1980s, the members of Duran Duran constantly leaked rumors that the band was breaking up. Every time this intelligence reached me, I'd cry hot, sad and angry tears of frustration. How could life continue if Nick, John, Simon, Andy and Roger could not (WOULD NOT!) continue on together? But after several years of these rumors (1982-1985), I finally wised up. At the tender age of ten I came to realize that I had been played. These threats of disbanding were just a way to drum up interest, which would lead to record sales. The final betrayal--a "temporary" hiatus in which Duran Duran became Power Station and Arcadia (both bands that sounded like DD, but somehow much less cool)--only reaffirmed what I already knew. That these men were not artists. They were opportunists. And, what's more, they were lying opportunists. (Note that they toured the U.S. earlier this year.)

Packers fans, take a page from my book. Heartache and disillusionment lie this way. Recognize Favre for the whiny, aging, egomaniac that he is. Let him go. Make it clear that you don't need him anymore. Don't give him what he wants.

I hate Brett Favre. Brett Favre is the kind of BS that I hate.

16 July 2008

What I Consume

My mother and I are having a good-natured competition to see which one of us will read the greatest number of books in this calendar year. So far we are neck and neck. She reads more consistently than I do, but I read faster. I am also keeping track of my total number of pages, but I don't think that she does. Right now I'm trying to read through things that I've been half done with for a long time. I figure that I can't really transport the next-to-my-bed stack of books. As a result, my reading list has been particularly schizophrenic recently. Here are the things that I've read in the past two weeks:

1. A best seller that mixes the Dracula legend and academic mystery/thriller.

2. A popular history of GIN.

3. A book of negative reviews of "classic" albums.

4. A collection of short stories about psychotherapy, based on actual cases from the therapy career of the author.

5. A "comic" novel about a British royal couple who try to reclaim the U.S. for the Crown.

6. A parenting book. (Don't ask.)

7. A terrible book of short stories about a 20-something chick who moves to Austin with her cousin. Most of the stories are about trying to get into Tom Waits shows. I hated it.

8. A thriller by Eric Ambler--the "father" of the modern political thriller. He's awesome.

I'm halfway through (and will finish tonight) a novel about an Indian (from India) myth about a princess with five husbands. It's actually pretty good. Normally I have a rule against reading anything that takes place in India (long story) but this one is making me rethink the rule a little. (Have I mentioned before that I also have rules against a) books that begin on a boat b) leisure activities that require renting shoes and c) films that star Angelina Jolie--except for Hackers, but that is because the presence of the fabulous Johnnie Lee Miller trumps all other rules. I'd also bowl or ice skate with him.)

I've also been watching a lot of rented movies while I pack. They include:

1. Cleaner.

2. Shopgirl.

3. Charlie Bartlett. (Liked it a lot. It felt like an old-fashioned teen flick. AND I couldn't love Robert Downey Jr. more. More on this film later.)

4. The Hammer. (Adorable, actually.)

5. Sleuth. (Not as good as the original, but Harold Pinter wrote the screenplay, and gets interviewed in the extras. I love Harold Pinter.)

I have the first season of Hill Street Blues to keep me company for the rest of my packing. More on that coming.

15 July 2008

After the Party

Tonight I had Laura, my cousin and his very wonderful boyfriend over for dinner. It has been a long time since I've cooked for anyone. I forgot how it is one of my very, very favorite things to do.

And not to be a "self-tooter" (that is, according to ZAD, a person who toots his/her own horn), but I was super pleased with dinner. It consisted of: risotto with a bunch of different cheeses and cherry tomatoes and basil; grilled swordfish (for the vegetarian ladies) and grilled pork steaks (for the meat-eating carnivorous menfolk) over a bed of field greens and green beans dressed with a lemon/olive oil dressing. For dessert, polenta cake (oh how I love the gritty & sweet polenta cake!) with mixed berries and whipped cream. The guys said that the pork was well cooked. I hope that was true--I couldn't verify it. But the risotto was really, really good.

Here's the thing--I used Jamie Oliver's basic recipe which calls for celery (I don't know why this makes it taste better, but it does. And it adds a little extra texture) and vermouth. You must use the vermouth. It is better for risotto than plain white wine. Trust me. Or don't. Trust Jamie Oliver. He's rarely wrong about these things.

Dinner seemed like a success, and it helped to get rid of stuff in my cabinets that has to disappear shortly--a box of arborio rice, half a bottle of Bombay Sapphire, a bottle of wine, flour and corn meal, the end of a bottle of Mexican vanilla.

AND, since I made ZAD promise not to bring a bottle of wine, Sean made me a new mix as a hostess gift. He almost called it Kristin-nacht, which is in horribly bad taste, but is kind of funny nevertheless. Instead it is just labeled "Kristin's Dinner Party Mix." And I'm going to listen to it tomorrow as I'm packing. YAY!


Perhaps some of you have heard me tell the story that my mother always tells--when my parents started going out after I was born, my mom would come home at night, no matter how late, and tell me about their night--where they ate, what they ate, what kind of wine they had. This is when I was a baby. I remember being very little--maybe five or six--and her waking me up smelling like perfume and lipstick and wine. I think that this is one of the most endearing things about my mother--that even though I couldn't understand what she was talking about, she had missed me enough over just the course of the evening that she wanted to make that contact with me, and to share what she had been doing while we had been separated.

So, dear readers, imagine that I have come to check on you and tuck you in. And I smell of Aveda lotion and Bonnie Bell lemonade lip balm and white wine and I'm whispering in the dark: risotto, chardonnay, swordfish, raspberries, Naked Chef, mixed CD . . .

Now go back to sleep. Tomorrow it will seem like a dream--

10 July 2008

Real Time Report

OK, shhhh. Don't look. But there is a guy frantically scratching his belly, standing in line at the coffee shop. I'm sure that it looks weird from the front, but from the back, it looks downright dirty. Also, I could swear that he is wearing one white shoe and one black shoe.

Even though there have been about 100 customers in here since I got here at noon, this is the first decent piece of people watching material that has walked through the door. And, to be honest, he is freaking me out more than intriguing me.

09 July 2008

Call Him Broseph

So, this will make the most sense to J-Bro, Mikey J and my under-30-but-just-barely youngest brother.

But the other day I was hanging out with little G, who is a month away from his first day of Kindergarten (!) and a little over two months away from his sixth birthday (!!). We were playing some mini golf (which, by the way, we are not going to do any more. He tied me. That is, as Karen would say, PA-THE-TIC and I'm not going to put myself in a position to get my ass kicked by a munchkin, if for no other reason than the fact that I can't do what I usually do when I'm losing at putt-putt, which is to stomp around swearing and throwing a club and almost taking out the head of the person I'm playing with. But I digress.) So we were playing some mini-golf and I hit this one ok shot and G says to me, "that was a pretty good shot, Bro."

In my head I asked, "Did the little man just call me bro? I mean, really?" but I didn't say anything to him.

Later on I took him to Red Robin. He was a little hesitant, since he has apparently not ever been to Red Robin before. But I tried to assure him by explaining that Red Robin actually exists for 6 year-olds like him. A milkshake later, he was singing the praises of the Robin, just like I knew he would. Then he hits me with it again. "This milkshake is excellent, Bro."

I couldn't let it pass this time. I said, "What did you just say?" and he answered, "Bro, this milkshake is awesome."

"Hey, um, G? Who says 'bro'?" And he replied, I shit you not,

"Everyone says 'bro'. Everyone at school. We all say it all the time. Like, 'come outside and play in the sandbox, bro'. And, 'I know bro, Darth Vader is my favorite Star Wars guy too.' You know, we all say it. But you know Ellie? She's the one who started it."

ARG. It is everything that is terrible about peer pressure. Forget just saying no to drugs. What is the worst that can happen? You alienate people in your life, start stealing from your parents or girlfriend, maybe end up dead or in rehab? There are worse things! Like ending up serving coffee from a hut in the middle of a parking lot on Foster, wearing a puka shell necklace and flip flops, not understanding the irony of the phrase, "thanks a latte."

I want more for G than that. A lot more. So I am trying to convince him to "just say no to bro." I'll let you know how the campaign goes. If it is successful, perhaps I can convince First Lady Michelle Obama or First Lady Cindy McCain to take it national. Maybe we could really turn things around for G's generation.

Damn that Ellie.

08 July 2008

Time and the Secular Sacred

In my early 20s I went through a period of time when I thought very seriously about converting to Catholicism. (Well, not really converting, since that suggests moving from one religion to another, and since I was raised basically agnostic, I was really just thinking about joining the Catholic Church. "Converting" is a better and more interesting word than "joining"though.) My reasons for pursuing this were complicated, but also sort of strange, so I'm not going to go into that here. And that isn't the point anyway.

What is useful to know is that, for at least one year, I attended church regularly--first on Sunday mornings, and then on Sunday nights--and for several years I went for the major holidays, and one year I actually did "Inquiry", which, for the uninitiated, is sort of confirmation class for adults. Somewhere in there I heard a very, very good sermon on the liturgical calendar. The priest talked about how the Church calendar is split up into three kinds of time: feast time, fast time and ordinary time. He explained that the purpose of the fasting time is to give us a structured opportunity to meditate on our lives--to slow down and think about the blessings in our lives, but also to consider the nature of suffering, to remember (history, those who have died), to look within ourselves and evaluate our relationship with God, with others and with ourselves, and to identify space for improvement. The function of feast time is to celebrate, to give thanks, to bless one another. To live in joy. Then he argued that the important thing about both feast and fast times is the way in which they can (and are meant to) impact our lives within ordinary time, which constitutes the bulk of the liturgical year. Feasting and fasting provide perspective through which to see the rest of our days--the not-so-special days--imbuing them with more meaning and more intention.

This is one of the things that I find beautiful and profound about the Church; something I can recognize and incorporate in my life, even though I have ultimately decided that Catholicism is not something that I can really do.


For the past week my friend Nikki has been staying with me. She is moving out of Texas, to take a great job and to be closer to her family, and to be in a place that she loves, and doesn't just have to tolerate. She had to be out of her place by the 1st, but wanted to stick around another week, so she came here. And it has been great to have her. Not just because she is fun and we have a good time together, but because we are at similar points in our lives--both ending one chapter of our lives and opening another. We are both very much in transition.

Major moments of transition are a secular version of feast and fast time. When you have one foot in one world and one foot in another, life suddenly becomes so much more than it is in ordinary time. Time moves more quickly. There are more opportunities for celebrating and for socializing, but also for becoming introspective and for noticing the profound. It is a time for intense feeling and also for intense experiencing.

I feel lucky to have been able to have my transition overlap with Nikki's, because it has meant that I have been able to spend this non-ordinary time in a kind of communion with her. And over the course of the past week we have squeezed in a lot of living by:

Drinking (a lot) at all our favorite establishments.

Spending an hour in Best Buy trying to buy a radar detector from a nice (but rather clueless) guy named Daniel L.

Returning the radar detector when we realized that well-meaning Dan didn't sell us the right equipment.

Watching the whole third season of Weeds and the whole first season of 30 Rock on DVD.

Running into "the monster" three nights in a row.

Arguing over yoga (her for, me against).

Eating at suburban chain restaurants and hanging out at the mall.

Getting lost on the way to AAA and then ordering Trip Ticks that will take us to opposite coasts.

Staying up until 4 am every night.

Hanging out on my rarely-used patio furniture so that she could smoke and we could talk. Mostly about "moys" (Nikki's word for guys who are chronologically men, but still behave like boys.)


When she left this morning I walked back into the house and felt how empty it was and it was that much easier to put things in boxes. Tonight I had dinner at Rebecca's with Laura and Amanda and Tim and Brooke and we talked about our ultimate deal-breakers with men and then about religion. After the group broke up I went to Laura's to pick up the things that she has been collecting from my house over the past two or three years. CDs (how have I lived without my copy of Standing by the Sea for well over a year?!), my boxed set of the My-So-Called-Life DVDs and lots of books--most of them about bibliography. Rebecca left us there, and when the door closed I started crying, because I thought she was mad at me. She came running back in the door 15 minutes later, worried that I was mad and her and telling me that she'd gone back to her place and cried while she did the dishes.

We sat at Cafe Laura and they smoked and we talked about marriage pacts and how my lack of boundaries sometimes causes me to be rude. And Rebecca said, "When people know you are leaving, they feel urgency to show you how they really feel about you."

Feasting and fasting. Living that is more vibrant on the one hand, and deeper on the other. Within two months I'll be living in ordinary time again and it will be different, infused with more meaning and wisdom (I hope) because of this time.

03 July 2008

Thanks A Lot. No, I Mean It. Thanks.

No Qwanty. Other people don't know about my weird Hogan's Heroes fetish. But thank you for mentioning it in front of my vast readership. Because that is so something that I wanted everyone to know about.

For clarification, I had a crush on that guy when I was about 6, and it was LONG before I knew about his whole porn connection. Now I feel appropriately grossed out by him.

But it is true that I have a thing about the film Pi and, really, any film where there is footage of a man shaving his head (as heartbreaking as the scene is, I also think that Luke Wilson's suicide attempt scene in The Royal Tenenbaums is hot).

I don't know where this comes from. I realize that it is disturbing. I also am not sure how this fits in with/conflicts with the problem with men's grooming. Maybe head-shaving seems uber-masculine to me. That's got to be it. You have to be a real man to take a razor to your head.

The John Malkovich thing I can neither confirm nor deny.