Friday, February 29, 2008

Resolved in February

  1. Done! (NB: some of this is going to be pretty repetitive).
  2. Hmm, not so great. 28.3% remains my total, but that's having been somewhat indulgent over the past month - SuperBowl, drinks, eating... it's all been a bit much. I wouldn't have thought of February as a decadent month, but pour moi... it really has been. But other than Spring Break (ulp!) no real issues in March, and hopefully will get back on track. I've been astonishingly lazy, too, which hasn't helped.
  3. Well, we went dancing at Bembe for a friend's birthday, which was multo fun. But that's about it... still not doing well on this front.
  4. Classic movies... well, I think In Bruges definitely counts. Ahem. No, actually, we did see several - Network, It Happened One Night, The Godfather, and all in one weekend. Sweet!
  5. Read: Bartleby the Scrivener; Billy Budd, Sailor; Oedipus Rex; currently on The Merchant of Venice.
  6. Nope, no flowers since. Should do something about that.
  7. Well, I made pie, twice, and I also made crumiri, which were yummy, but a tad sweet, and there was just too much mixture. But we've not been as experimental as we could be.
  8. We went to the Whitney, obviously, but also had a wondrous trip to the Met, which was one of my favourite visits in many years. We pottered, we looked, we studied... it was just lovely. And, as a consequence of my post, we have a fabulous book to read which I hope will work me through my fears and reservations about looking at art.
And with that... I'm off to the gym.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

No Surprises, Please

Bill O'Reilly is an arsehole and a liar. Shocking news, I know. What IS shocking is that after all the crap rightly thrown at Golf Magazine, and the fact that even Bush recognizes there is no correct use of the term "lynching," O'Reilly has not apologized (saying I'm sorry if YOU took offence, i.e. it's your fault if you did, you oversensitive prig) or been censured is another indication of why Fox is horrific.

Plus, interesting take of Jackson's about Clarence Thomas's use of the word...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tag Team

My lovely Xopo tagged me for this fabulous list - fabulous, because I get to talk about myself. Less fabulous, however, as I reveal just how much tv I watch to thems who I might want to protect from the knowledge (i.e, TOH).

Still, I have finished writing a statute on termination of at-will employment in NYS, and after that monumental achievement, I feel I can a) be a little self-indulgent and b) I should write it down to make myself face the facts.

Books I Have Been Reading: For once, I get to feel a little smug as I have actually done some reading of late, what with me doing Law & Lit. However, now I read them, it's a bit embarrassing I'd not read them before, but beggars can't be choosers and all that.
  1. The Stranger. Albert Camus.
  2. The Ladies of Grace Adieu. Susanna Clarke (the volume of short stories that is a quasi-follow up to Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell, which I utterly adored).
  3. The Poisonwood Bible. Barbara Kingsolver (every American I know seems to have read this, so thought I'd give it a go).
  4. The Trial. Franz Kafka.
  5. Bartleby, Scrivener and Billy Budd, Sailor. Herman Melville.
Music I Have Been Listening To Far Too Much: Fortunately, I have scrobbling to help me determine what I've been listening to a lot of, so here goes:
  1. Idealism. Digitalism. I wasn't sure about this at first, but am now a huge fan and extremely peeved I'm not going to the gig here in May.
  2. Cease to Begin. Band of Horses. Came late to it, not sure I'm overwhelmed by it, but it's interesting, at least.
  3. Old School Drum & Bass. Seriously, I've been listening to a lot of J-Majik, Photek, Roni Size, that sort of thing. I'm really back into it, and hoping to get my arse back out on a dancefloor or two for a bit of a dance to it in the very near future.
  4. Falling off the Lavender Bridge. Lightspeed Champion. Because it's just lovely.
  5. The Outsider. DJ Shadow. Endtroducing... remains one of my favourite albums of all time, and I do like the other ones, although less so; this is growing on me.
  6. Lupe Fiasco's The Cool. Lupe Fiasco. Because the first album was utterly lovely, and this is proving equally so.
  7. Love is Hell (pts 1 & 2). Ryan Adams. Again, late coming to this; most of it's pretty good, but his cover of Wonderwall is one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.
  8. General listening to plenty of LCD, MC Solaar, Jamie Lidell, and a recent downloading of the Cure and Pet Shop Boys, for old times' sake.
Movies I've Enjoyed Recently. This is where I really fail. I saw none of the films nominated for Best Picture,* the first time since I was about 14, I imagine. Ugh. But, if I have to, I have seen and enjoyed:
  1. Network.
  2. The Godfather.
  3. It Happened One Night.
TV I Love. This is where it gets nasty. Are we including dvds? I hope so.
  1. Veronica Mars. Someone thought I'd not seen the finale of Season 1, and so lent it to me. Unfortunately, she'd misunderstood that I'd seen very few of the first half of the Season. That, however, has changed, as I've now seen nine. Ulp. It's utterly addictive, brilliant, but something I'd forgotten was how great the music is on it. In the first episode alone we have a lot of Air, Weak Become Heroes by the Streets... all good.
  2. The Soup. I've now managed to get TOH into this. It's glorious - thanks L, always, for pushing me into obsession - I was frighteningly grumpy when it turned out they'd changed the time last week and so my flipping DVR had recorded a half hour E special on the "troubles" of Amy Wino. Not that I don't love her, but still...
  3. Weeds. Genius.
  4. Coupling. I'm watching re-runs on BBC America and absolutely loving them.
  5. The Wire. We've been holding off on Season 2, but hopefully tonight is where we re-start.
  6. For shows that are STILL not back, I am in mourning for Pushing Daisies - seeing Kristin Chenowith last night made me long for it.
  7. Boston Legal. Mostly because it's about lawyers, but a lot has to do with William Shatner and James Spader, and Candice Bergen (she ROCKS).
This has made me realise how no one I know blogs other than the person who tagged me and the people she tagged. But I'll try tagging DR ANDUS and BEAN and PORTAX and LIGHTTRIPPERS/BEAN GROWERS anyway... just to see if they're out there.

* As penance (and for enjoyment, obviously), TOH and I are at least going to the movies on Wednesday to see which of them we can catch.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Silver(ware) Lining

Today, the mighty Spurs (TM - me?) won the League Cup for the first trophy since 1999 (also the League Cup). We beat Arsenal and Chelsea to do so. I got up after five hours' sleep and a minging hangover* and trudged to the Official Home of the New York Spurs Supporters' Club in Brooklyn Heights** with a wary heart. I was (and still am) wearing my Spurs top from when I was mascot, aged eleven.*** And we won. Somehow, we won. This may mean nothing to you, but it was fabulous.

It was a wonderful, brutish reminder of watching sport in England. We did not cover ourselves in glory - the "imaginative" insults I remember fondly when at baseball matches ("Yankees suck; You suck" - not exactly inspiring) were, essentially, variations on "you adjective c-word" (fat and fucking being the favourite adjectives"), you wanker, etc. It was pretty revolting. Yet, it was home. It smelled like it - beer everywhere, and the smokers outside were in sufficient number that their stench filled the bar. Not something I'd want to do every week, but it was joyous, briefly.

* Bought a friend a frozen margarita maker - best present ever. Seriously. Look at it - it's BEAUTIFUL.

** I think. I find Brooklyn neighbourhoods so confusing.

*** Passed the ball around with Gazza and got dubbed Gary Lineker's "lucky mascot" - by the grinning eejit himself. We won 2-1.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

You say potato, I say bloody steak

I was intrigued by the article I Love You, but You Love Meat article today in the NYT. As someone who navigated a gradual change to meat-eating after years of vegetarianism, I'm interested in the compromise--or, rather, lack thereof--represented by these people, and aware that a rabid viewpoint on eating habits can change.

Further, as someone in a relationship with different eating habits-TOH still has been known to add ham to a vegetarian dish that is perfectly yummy-it was interesting that these people often just could not compromise. Those who had ethical reasons - the vegetarian and the kosher - seemed to be able to manage it a bit better simply because they understood the other's reason and knew that compromise had to be the key. Allergies, of course, are difficult to navigate, but the concerns for wellbeing probably override most irritation. But pickiness... that's the fundamental problem. One of my overwhelming fears about child-rearing is that the child will be a picky eater. I couldn't bear it.

It is interesting the symbolism that people place in food; how offended one gets if one's food has been rejected, particularly if, like me, that's about the sum of your creative impulses and output (my pathetic attempts at knitting notwithstanding). Fortunately, my first stab at shortcrust pastry and pie-making was extremely well-received--if a bit messy-looking--this weekend, plus of course crumble. There is no better way to get rid of pears; if only kiwi crumble sounded appetising.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Through a Lens*

This weekend was pretty culturally rich: Four movies, and a trip to the Met that was one of my most enjoyable in ages. TOH bought me a book of 1001 Paintings to See Before You Die, and we'd selected the Met's paintings featured** to guide our trip. It did add something, meaning that I didn't spend the whole time sitting in the Velázquez and El Greco rooms, Mark didn't just try to drag me around the armour, and we looked at things differently. We also got to look at the musical instruments, which was a surprisingly good and interesting room.

However, I was struck by the phenomenon of photo-taking as viewing yet again. One of the things that I utterly fail to understand is the taking of photos of the exhibits. If it's for a sketch, maybe that's fair, but why not just buy a print or a postcard? What particularly bothered me was the instrument room, where so many people just walked through and didn't stop, they just paused to take photos without actually looking at anything. It really is as if having seen the object is more important than the object itself.

This ties in with WUB's extremely thoughtful post about Cloverfield, in which she states that documenting is increasingly more important than responding. It extends to everything, but nothing quite brings it to mind like a museum. I really wish art at school had instructed us in ways of looking at things; just as useful, and more so for completely untalented hacks like me. In fact, that might have helped me with my own artistic attempts. Nonetheless, I do try to look, understand, and slowly I'm learning. It takes a discipline that you have to instil; most of us are so lazy, it's just easier to snap and not think.

* I almost entitled this "Life Through a Lens" and then remembered it was a Robbie Williams album title, so no go there. Although, of course, "thru" was the spelling he used, which is particularly repugnant to me.
** Dude, if you're going to write a book like this, then having an index by location might be pretty effing useful. Just a suggestion.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Random Generator: Feb 08

If my utter blogging and podcasting heroines at Pandagon insist, I'll oblige:

1) Gronlandic Edit - Of Montreal. The vocals remind me of Clor, in turn of things along the Buggles lines, but the bassline is much funkier and dancetastic (that's a word, isn't it?). The vocals could veer Hot Chip-ish, with which I would have real problems... I don't know quite why I loathe Hot Chip so, everyone tells me they're awesome, but I remain unconvinced. But it's one of those arch songs, with clever harmonies, that lots of people like and I can take in small doses - the bass definitely saves it. I could dance to this in the right mood. And there's no higher praise than me shaking my tail.

2) Newme - Jamie Lidell. Can I tell you just how overfricking excited I am about Jim, Jamie Lidell's new album? I may burst. A few days ago he announced the first single (which I will listen to as soon as my ten songs are up). He's playing in May & June over here - dates not yet finalised - and I may burst again. This is actually possibly one of my least favourite songs on the album, but live sounds awesome - his habits of looping and pissing around with the songs means that things like this, The City, they just make more sense.

3) Born in the U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen. I love the Boss. Not much else to say. A mate of mine had a seminar with Bruce Springsteen once, where Bruce had done the reading, and had to raise his hand to answer questions and put forward his viewpoint like the students. I was quite drunk when she told me this, and I thought it was appropriate to keep yelling "The Boss does not have to raise his hand when he wants to speak." Yep, I did. I also jumped on a booth and sang Roxanne to the bar. It was one of those nights.

4) Jacqueline - Franz Ferdinand. I've been listening to the second album a bit more, and I really like it; I'd forgotten it took me a while to like this one. But the second one is really clever, pretty and interesting. This song reminds me of driving through France to Spain when TOH and I had to collect all my stuff from Barcelona to move home. We borrowed a car from a family member, took the ferry to France (Dieppe? Le Havre? I can't remember!). Then we drove out, and once we were on the road with directions safely followed, we decided to put this cd on the radio, and it really was the start of the journey. We listened to the album going across this utterly beautiful, enormous suspension bridge in the middle of nowhere. This should go on those driving albums - along with Layla, Born to Be Wild, that sort of thing.

5) Chaos - U.N.K.L.E. Remember when James Lavelle could do no wrong? Now look at him! (click on artists, and he's the guy with the stringy long hair.) What happened? I hate it when my teenage crushes start to... well, have hair like that. This album wasn't that good, and this was not one of the best songs on it. I wonder why I even have it.

6) Demarre Le Chauve - Pepe Bradock. This comes from a wicked collection, Beats & Pieces, put together (I think) by L'il Louis Vega. I still haven't been to his sets at Cielo. I suck. Maybe later this semester...

7) Run - Air. I've not listened to Talkie Walkie much, but I think I should, and just try and approach it differently from Moon Safari. The comparisons are unfair, because they're just not trying to do the same thing here, so I think I've not been mentally with it to give it a fair go.

8) Diamonds and Pearls - Prince. I, like the rest of the US, went through a Prince renaissance after the Super Bowl performance last year. Because it was AWESOME and I had forgotten how much I loved him. This is such a ridiculous song - the middle 8 with the very late 80s / early 90s guitar solo. But it works, basically because it's Prince.

9) The Blast - Talib Kweli. I love this tune. The beat, the gentleness of it, the old school feel, the way it seems to shimmer. The Gil Scott-Heron bit at the end doesn't harm it, either. Kweli is consistently excellent. Love it.

10) I Wanna Grow up to Be a Politician - Utterly perfect timing what with the primaries... brilliant to end on!

Cross-posted to Last.Fm.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


This week I've struggled through The Trial. I think it is no coincidence, with my Law & Lit hat on, that ordeal can be synonymous with trial. I'm still not sure what I think about the book. It didn't go where I thought it would, but I'm not sure if I thought the ending was a cop out. I'll think on.

Anyway, part of the struggle was eased by challenging myself to find music as a suitable companion for my reading. The first vivid memory of finding music to suit a book was when I was about fifteen and reading La Bête Humaine. I'd also just started listening to The Smiths, and can clearly remember sitting on my father's sofa, with How Soon Is Now? blaring through the system. What a bloody typical, pretentious teenager I was. Rats, and I thought I was so clever. And yet, and yet; the music really did suit the twisting tale of dark human nature and trying to suppress it, for some reason.

Therefore, this week I have tried to find something that suits Kafka. I needed something dark, oppressive, and overwhelmingly able to conjure dank, claustrophobic cities, with their swarming humanity and utter disregard for your being. For that reason, I found a few things in my collection. First, Untrue by Burial was absolutely perfect. Second, Timeless by Goldie - a serious blast from the past but suited magnificently to the task. TOH also suggested Tricky - and I agree. Almost anything basically, except the first album - too tuneful. Nearly God, Pre-Millennium Tension, Angels with Dirty Faces, all of those would have gone down a storm.

But now I'm onto Camus, so of course I've gone for MC Solaar. Any excuse. Plus it's the only French music I have other than Edith Piaf, which seems altogether a bit too... wrong. But I may be vastly underestimating the effect - I'll have a go tonight. Particularly as they're just about to get into the fight with the Arabs. I think Ma Vie En Rose would surely be perfect. Ahem.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


A couple of things have quite severely upset me over the past few days - the crap Lewis Hamilton has had to endure, plus me reading the comments on Marca which seem to indicate that the people posting really do not understand that calling someone a "fucking black" or a "black shit" is a problem, not that using the word "black" is a problem; also apparently he's "not really black" so it doesn't count. Also, I keep stumbling upon this ad - when reading sports pages, reading about dining, whatever - in the nytimesonline for, which simply reads "Roe v. Wade allows termination of a pregnancy throughout the nine months. Isn't it time we rethought?"


And then, someone you love goes through something awful and you realise that all this anger really is something for another day.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


SPOILER ALERT: Of my very few readers, I know one hasn't read To Kill a Mockingbird and I also know he plans to read it soon. So, sweetheart, maybe you should skip this first paragraph. Other SPOILER: this is self-righteousness incarnate, so mum, please ignore the tone!

I've just finished re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird. There, the vague moral victory in the court case is that Atticus makes them doubt that a guilty plea is right. This is Alabama, in the 1930s, all too believable.

Therefore, this makes a Mississippi Supreme Court's decision in 1922 seem even more remarkable, particularly in light of Attorney General Mukasey's all too predictable sanction of waterboarding techniques. Why on earth anyone thought he'd be different from Gonzales, I really don't know. Oh, yes he is different - he doesn't come across as quite so slimy.

A (nerdy, clearly) law type has uncovered White v. State, which was a case whereby a young black man confessed to the murder of a white shopowner. Only problem - he was tortured. Well, not if you're Michael Mukasey, but yes if you're the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Just think about it - 1922, a Mississippi court orders a retrial because the confession of a black man was obtained under torture by white men. Having just seen the Kara Walker exhibition at the Whitney, I understand a little more deeply (although confusedly, it must be said) the swirling, depthless hatred and misunderstanding and misery of relationships between white and black throughout American history. Nonetheless, despite that, the Court was able to distinguish between what was right and wrong in this instance. I'll give you a few excerpts (emphases are all mine):
the hands of appellant were tied behind him, he was laid upon the floor upon his back, and, while some of the men stood upon his feet, Gilbert, a very heavy man, stood with one foot entirely upon appellant's breast, and the other foot entirely upon his neck. While in that position what is described as the “water cure” was administered to him in an effort to extort a confession as to where the money was hidden which was supposed to have been taken from the dead man. The “water cure” appears to have consisted of pouring water from a dipper into the nose of appellant, so as to strangle him, thus causing pain and horror, for the purpose of forcing a confession. Under these barbarous circumstances the appellant readily confessed that he knew where the money was, and told them that it was out at the “dredge ditch.” They then took the appellant to the dredge ditch to find the money, but there was no money found there or anywhere else so far as this record shows.
So in a nutshell: they tortured him AND it failed to provide the required information.
And I'll leave you with my favourite sentence from the judgment:
Confessions induced by fear, though not aroused by spoken threats, are nevertheless involuntary, because the fear which takes away, the freedom may arise solely from the conditions and circumstances surrounding the confessor.