Saturday, May 28, 2011

Yeah, that's pretty much how I feel about the Royal Wedding, too, Obamas

From The Globe and Mail: The Obamas react to the Queen's arrival in the UK

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The O

Awww, Go Fug Yourself, along with all the other things we have in common, we both hate cockroaches! See, I hate them, too! (You know, as opposed to all those folks that love them). Seriously though, that entry is kind of the best.

I also want to believe that the title is a reference to Misha Barton's role in this movie, which is an underrated gem (largely not to due to Misha Barton, however).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I write about Nick Hornby too much, I think

ETA: Ha! That totally read "I write about Nick Horny too much, I think." I fixed it now. Also: Nick Hornby is SO lucky he did not grow up in the US. He would have been tortured over that name.

Here's a review I wrote for The Minneapolis Star Tribune that went up ages ago: The World Beneath by Cate Kennedy (not to be confused with Kate Spindler nee Kennedy). Anyway, I compared Kennedy's writing to Nick Hornby's and I realized I did this, too, when I interviewed Peter Bognanni for the dislocate blog.
It's odd because I don't think of Nick Hornby as being particularly relevant to me as a writer. Like, if you asked me, "Who are your favorite/most influential/whatever/whatever writers?" I'd never think to say "Nick Hornby." But he seems to come up almost immediately as a reference point for me when trying to discuss/articulate something about the writing of others, particularly if they are at all: a) funny; b) contemporary and set in contemporary times; c) write in a more-or-less "realist" mode; d) streak in larger social issues/concerns with small-scale, contemporary, funny stories.

And, really, maybe I wouldn't say "Nick Hornby" when asked about my influences because -- I dunno. Because he's an older British dude, because he writes a lot about masculinity, and maybe because he's so popular and I want more street-cred or something. But really, Fever Pitch, High Fidelity, and About a Boy*, not to mention his series of essays on reading for The Believer and some of his other non-fiction, are a tremendous influence.

*But there you go -- all these books have become big Hollywood movies. And High Fidelity and About a Boy were pretty good movies (Fever Pitch, not so much). But when you mention them as favorite books, you feel a bit silly, like you're someone who only reads novelizations of popular TV shows or movies.

"But what is wrong with popular TV shows and movies, Easy O?" you might ask. "Do not you love these things? Are you not committed to the Fusion of High and Low--or, less problematically, Popular and Literary (this phrasing is still problematic, but let's move on) forms of art? Did you not write a novel fusing in the structure and themes of popular Romance Novels with a literary style and plot? Isn't that, in a phrase, Sort of Your Bag?"

Well, yes, I would reply. But--But--

....But I still want to sound smart at intellectual cocktail parties! And answering "Marilynne Robinson" when some impressive person dressed in hipster-chic peers at me over their plastic cup of cheap wine just makes me feel more impressive than saying "Nick Hornby." And it's not untrue! I DO like Marilynne Robinson!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Really Old Pictures of Food: How in the Who and the What Now?

Someone sent me this article about "how and why" photos of food are shared online. Probably because I eagerly snap photos of anything I come close to "making."

The upshot seems to be that most photos of food come from:

Keeping a Food Diary: 25% this lends itself to the self-tracking trend we have covered before.
Documenting the Process of Cooking: Driven by the motivation to show their creation, 22% of food photography is people self-documenting their proud foodie creation.
ETA: All this talk of food-documenting reminded me of Food Junta, which is currently under construction but a great source--in contrast to me--of professionally-presented foodie documentation. Although it is not food, I do need to make this when I get back to Arizona, because we have actual rattlesnakes there.

Self-Documenting My Proud Foodie Creation

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ha ha! Bonus Post! Signs of Life, Part III

In town:

We could all use more of this:

Want to wear a bear?
Yeah, I wear a bear:
That's a bear-skin rug, my friends. And relax: that bear has been dead for a very, very long time. And you know what? I'm with Stephen Colbert on this one: bears are vicious killers and it's us or them. I don't invite bears to THE COTTAGE.

And thanks to Jason, here are some search keywords that lead to my blog:

Signs of Life, Part II

It's funny to be up in Canada, the place the blog was born. This post is also sort of a sequel to this.

Sometimes it's hard to find things:

Here is an odd case of emphasis:

I would understand if it read:

Don't invite BEARS to the cottage.

Or: DON'T INVITE Bears to the cottage.

But why: Don't invite bears to THE COTTAGE?

It makes it sound as if THE COTTAGE is the ominous part of the sentence, when, really, isn't it BEARS or DON'T INVITE?

THE COTTAGE isn't, in and of itself, particularly scary. I mean, you wouldn't say, Hope you have a nice time without bears at THE COTTAGE! Or, Be safe from bears while you're up at THE COTTAGE! I hope your time at THE COTTAGE is very relaxing with no bears.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nature Taunts Me

Hey, I'm up at my family's cabin in Canada, so I'll probably be out of touch for a bit, as we really like to rough it when we're up here--ha ha, I'm just kidding, there's high-speed internet. It's actually nicer than any apartment I've ever lived in on my own.

My brain failed to process the fact that May in Canada does not = warm. I also didn't check the weather because I don't do things like "check" the "weather." I optimistically packed:

1) Two swimsuits
2) Two pairs of sandals and a nice pair of dress shoes (?).
3) A bunch of tank tops.
4) Several skirts and light dresses.

So I've been going around in sweatpants, a sweatshirt I found here, and old fuzzy slippers.

I also just wanted to share:

The night before I left for my trip, I dreamed that my bedroom had a swimming pool in it. Cockroaches started coming into my room and took over, draining the swimming pool and filling it up with their gross little bodies. Cockroaches were everywhere: flying through the air, wriggling on the ground, writhing in a huge mass in the pool. Then the King of the Cockroaches (which manifested as some sort of voice emanating from all the roaches in the pool), taunted me and said I had lost to the cockroaches because I had not given them sufficient respect.

Yes, a pool full of cockroaches. Taunting cockroaches. Why, brain, why? Why would you think such a thought?

A pool full of cockroaches. That image was in my head. Now it's in yours, too! You're welcome.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I try to draw. I put icing inside things.

I told you I'd give you some advice on how to put icing inside of cupcakes! I even made helpful drawings.

I'd like to say upfront this is totally ripped off from, er, inspired by, Hyperbole and a Half, the Old Skewl posts. But she says right here in her FAQs:

If I draw picture with MS Paint on my blog, will you think I'm copying you?

Probably not. Unless you steal my work directly or redraw/rewrite my stuff, you are good to go. I love that more people are getting interested in adding artwork to their blogs!
I even used Paintbrush (JUST LIKE HER CREEPY STARS IN EYES).

Here are some NFAQs (Not Frequently Asked Questions):

How did you get your handwriting to be so ironically and hilariously bad?

I didn't. That's just what my handwriting looks like.

But it looks like a mentally deficient five-year-old chicken wrote that stuff.

I know.

How do you function in the real world with handwriting as profoundly terribly as that?

By avoiding writing by hand whenever possible. Occasionally, I have to fill in a form by hand and people laugh at me.

Will you make me cupcakes?

No. No after you just insulted my handwriting.

First things first: I want to share what inspired my to put icing inside of cupcakes in the first place.
In the magazine section of Barnes and Noble, I saw this:
Leaving aside the sheer awesome of a magazine devoted to breakfast, let's look closely on all the various awesomeness going on in this picture:

French Toast Chocolate Sandwiches! With Bacon! And a random berry! (to keep it healthy)! For dinner!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger eats things! And they are not as delicious as my cupcakes.

So, my last post (a biting analysis of Cee-Lo vs. Fifty Cent) wasn't here when I checked my blog this morning. I was told that the page "didn't exist." Now it is back. I don't understand this at all, but I'm happy to go with it. Well, not "happy to go with it." "Too lazy to investigate and/or fix and happy that for once strategy of doing nothing worked out."

Since a fairly continuous stream of people seem to find my blog through googling the phrase, "How to put icing inside of cupcakes" or "how to frost big cupcakes" (because of this post), I'd like to say that 1) I made cupcakes and put icing inside of them today! 2) Too busy to post a how-to post right now, but I will; 3) This picture probably reveals how the procedure was done but, don't worry, I'll walk you through it later, anyway:

I have icing inside of me!

Oh, and the ads on the side of my blog are now pimping for a Cabbage Soup Diet. Which was apparently popular back in the day and is eerily similar to the Magical Leek Soup. Further proof that the Magical Leek Soup is a freaking crash diet.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Celebrity Endorses Leek-y Cauldron Diet

My heart can't take this, you guys.

Pamie (Pamela Ribon) commented on my blog. She tweeted the fug girls about me, who tweeted her back. She's following Yogurt on Tumblr (I said I'd get that link in every time).

Because everyone knows that the best way to express love is through money, I'm buying this right away. And then this.

So, to recap, not only has all this happened, but: Jennifer Egan is friends with me on facebook. I also know someone who knows someone who is her cousin.

I know someone who knows someone in The Decemberists.

I know someone who knows someone who knows Richard Siken.

Please don't act like you're not impressed. You're just embarrassing yourself.

Oh, and if that weren't enough, you know that roller derby I went to? I went with her and him. Yeah, that's right. ROLLER DERBY.

So now that I'm a celebrity, you're going to have start treating me accordingly.

But being a celebrity comes with certain responsibilities, such as looking your best. So I thought I'd share some tips.

First of all, no one goes on diets anymore. Diets are bad; we're supposed to enjoy and savor food. Like the Europeans do. I'm technically half-European, but I'm half-British and, for complicated historical reasons, people don't treat you as a gastronomical expert if you're British. When you try to serve them delicious things like marmite on toast, they get all squirrel-ly with you. (Sigh -- you Yanks. Marmite is delicious, y'all).

But if you're French, people listen to what you have to say about food, which is where this comes in. It's not a "diet" you see -- it's a commitment to wellness and savoring food and making things that taste good and are good for you. I made this in the past from her website, and I liked it. And in the process, I discovered this: the leek soup kick-off weekend.

So, you make this soup out of leeks (called "the magical leek soup") and you live on it for a weekend:

Leeks are a mild diuretic, and 48 hours or so of leek soup would provide immediate results to jump-start the recasting. For me, it was the start of a lifelong commitment to wellness as well as the beginning of my appreciation, my love, of leeks, about which there is much more to say. It is a trick I still use from time to time; do try it the first weekend.

But it's not a diet, y'all! Because it tastes delicious:

Both versions are so good, and an adventure for most palates, that you will have a very hard time seeing them as prison rations. Especially if these tastes are new to you, jot your impressions of flavor and fragrance in your journal. In time, this exercise will intensify your pleasures, and you may want to keep a regular diary of your experiences gastronomiques

Monday, May 9, 2011

Things I Like Collide

My "blog list" is entirely blogs-by-friends-that-I-like; I've thought occasionally of putting up blogs and sites that are not written by friends (but rather by people who convince me through their blogging that if we were ever to meet in real life, we would inevitably be best friends).

Recently, there have been some stirrings in the world-of-blogs-I-read. There's hyperbole and a half: I introduced a friend to it and then took the opportunity to catch up. I laughed so hard that my abs actually hurt; I can thus recommend it not only as a blog but as an ab work out (it's so popular at this point, tho', it really doesn't need my wee little recommendation). My laughter at this blog has also been so intense that ON TWO SEPARATE OCCASIONS while I was reading it, someone came in from the other room, genuinely concerned that I was hysterically crying.

Anyway, friend-I-introduced-to-it was a fan and I was like "I know! She's so great! Why she doesn't have a book is beyond me!" Then the next morning, hyperbole and a half announced that she was, indeed, coming out with a book.

[Insert joke here about how now is the appropriate time to ask the universe for a million dollars, etc.]

I've also read pamie (comedy writer Pamela Ribon) for many years. I've even bought two of her books, as a thank-you what-not for all the free content she's provided me.

Anyway, I went to the Tucson Roller Derby championships the other day (bear with me, THIS IS ACTUALLY AN EXCELLENT SEGUE JUST WAIT). Anyway, Roller Derby has recently come into popular consciousness because of Whip It, which I have not seen (but plan to!) and round about the same time, Pamela Ribon came out with a book, Going in Circles, which is a fictionalized account of her experiences with roller derby and divorce (which I have not read, but plan to!)

So I went to roller derby, which reminded me of pamie, so I checked it, and she has a really excellent piece about being a female writer in comedy, sparked by pilot/tv staffing season and Tina Fey's Bossypants (which I have read parts of).

Then today, I checked jezebel, a site I frequently read, and the first post is all about female writers in TV, and it quotes Pamie's post.

So. Do I:

(1) Have my finger right on the beating heart of popular feminist consciousness;
(2) Have clairvoyant abilities;
(3) Way too much time on my hands to surf the Internet.

Next, I expect Go Fug Yourself to write a piece on Supernatural that references Marcel Proust and romance novels and all of my obsessions will come together in an explosion of sparkles and rainbows (Go Fug Yourself is also pretty good at addressing my obsessions, from their eerily-similar-to-mine preoccupation with Brenda on the original 90210 [edited to add: I cannot find this on their new, advertisement-heavy layout! Boo!] to their Britney Spears Monologues.)
So, I guess I'll put these blogs on my blog list, seeing as how there's clearly a psychic link there. I should put a permanent link to Bossypants up there, too, seeing as how I've mentioned it so much, despite only having read sections. Oh! Oh! I can also link to Yogurt for the billionth time! [Note: Billion = four]. Because her latest is about a female-written comedy! Ha ha! (Let's see if I can figure out a way to link to her in every post).

Finally, have some pictures of roller derby:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Reviews, Literary; Failings, Personal

I've written this and this for The Review Review, a website that reviews, well, reviews. Literary reviews, that is. And lately they've gotten some pretty sweet media attention, from the LA Times, and The motherfucking New Yorker: mostly for this piece by Lynne Barrett, which is succinct advice to aspiring submitters to the literary journals.

The Review Review editor/creator, Becky Tuch, sent all reviewers and interviewers (which included me) a "thank you" email for their contributions after the website received this attention. This of course sent me into a guilt spiral, as the last assignment they gave me was one at which I failed parlously (dude, Blogger, PARLOUSLY is so a word! Go Away, squiggly red lines!). I was sent this issue of Ploughshares to review and failed utterly (oh, so THAT word is okay with you, Blogger?) to do so.

I failed utterly because the stories included in this fiction issue included a story by Charles Baxter, my onetime professor and thesis adviser, and a story by Ethan Rutherford, my onetime MFA cohort. It was edited by Jim Shepard, who wrote a really good introduction to this particular Ploughshares issue about "weirdness" and fiction writing and once said cool things about weirdness and Yogurt's writing when he visited the University of Minnesota and gave a talk, which I meant to go to but forgot what day it was.

Anyway, I was overcome with anxiety about reviewing an issue to which I had several--admittedly, some of them somewhat tenuous--connections. So I employed the tactic easily recognized by all Passive-Aggressives everywhere: I emailed Charlie, Ethan, and Becky and told them about the connection and asked them if they had a problem with it? To which they all sensibly replied that no, of course not, as long as I put a FULL DISCLOSURE: I KNOW SOME OF THESE FOLKS thing on the review.

What I was hoping for, in true Passive-Aggressive fashion, was for someone else to read my mind and say: "No, no, I have a problem with it," thus absolving me of all responsibility.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Just About to Lose My Mind, Honey, Honey

Really? Really? First this and now this? :

Of course, I discovered these on a shopping expedition during which I bought (and only bought):

1) Diet coke with Splenda
2) Diet coke with Lime
3) Red Vines

Ze judgments, I should not be making zem!

ETA: The above is not entirely true. I also bought a bottle of wine.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Accidentally Racist Cupcake Arrangement?

The disadvantage to boasting about your fabu skillz/love for baking things is that sometimes you can get asked to bake things. Cupcakes were requested of me, meaning that there was a push-pull between narcissism and laziness:

Narcissism: I love praise and attention! It feels like love!

Laziness: But I'm so laaaaaazzzzzzy.

But desire to please won out, so I made cupcakes! And put them on my awesome stand. I realized afterwards that the way I had arranged them was inadvertently a little racist:

Why are the minority white cupcakes at the TOP of the stand, towering over the majority chocolate cupcakes? Am I trying to visually illustrate apartheid through baked goods?

In truth, I just had some leftover vanilla frosting to use up and made a new batch of chocolate.

Because I'm determined to become a complete cliche/caricature of myself, I made the cupcakes while listening to Lady Gaga. After complete indifference/annoyance when it came to "Born This Way" and general irritation at the Catholic guilt/spirituality/whatever-whatever she is going through right now, I am completely in love with "Judas." I'm gonna have to buy the album when it comes out, aren't I? Damnit, Gaga, I cannot afford this! I caved and bought Britney's Femme Fatale (which is awesome) but her dead eyes and catatonic dancing make me feel weird about it! I don't want another pop diva album that I have ambivalent feelings about right now, please.

Excuse me while I go listen to "Judas" one more time.