Sunday, September 30, 2007

Looky here what I bought at Berkeley Bowl yesterday:

They're called water caltrops, or more appropriately, Devil Pods or Batnuts:

Strangely enough, you can eat them, but you must cook them as they contain toxins in raw form, and the nutshells are hard like stones. I was told that if I boiled them, they would split open eventually and I could then easily get to the white nut inside. So, I commenced the boil:

And I boiled. And boiled some more. For over an hour and a half, until the water looked like this:

Guess what? Demonic looking little buggers they are, they were still hard as rocks, but I was able to crack one open and taste it. Like raw potato -- not really worth it. So I gave them out to friends at Trevor's reading last night as good luck charms. Great fun for Halloween!

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

In my childhood, I preferred the darkness

Odd Nerdrum

Just picked up the newest book of the collected works of Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum, Themes.

My god, his work is frightening. His paintings stir something visceral inside that is familiar but also uncomfortable in its menace. I haven't been this drawn to, yet freaked out by, painted images for some time. Woman with Child in particular is haunting me. Apologies, I can't find a pic, but trust me, go to the bookstore, find this book, and look at this painting and you will understand. And while you're at it, check out the final series, Void, in the conclusion of the book. I actually want to sleep with the lights on.

I think humans are trained to think of graphic violence or sexual depravity when they think of something visually threatening. I don't see many overt sexual overtones in most of Nerdrum's work, but yes, there is a subtle violence present, a promise of something that raises the hackles. There is the slight flicker of the foreboding, recognized by our primitive monkey brain -- a strangely curled set of fingers, the shadowy wisps that trail across a face, a filmy presence in an odd shadow, the unidentifiable expression on a person's face as they are embracing another -- that make these images sear themselves into your memory as not quite right.

I like too that in Nerdrum's work the body and its natural functions -- erections, defecation, even aging -- are used to jolt us out of our tidy complacency. His blighted landscapes also do much to increase the overall disquiet. This unease doesn't stop at episodic pieces; there are quite a few portraits in Themes, and truly, his portraits are some of the most difficult of his work for their raw and direct humanity.

But at the core, the essence, Nerdrum's paintings violate with one final, traumatic twinge: that of almost unbearable beauty.

Nerdrum is so very good -- I feel like his subjects have every dark taint on their souls painted on their flesh, and if they could speak you wouldn't want to hear what was being said. To accomplish this with mere paint and cloth, amazing.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bravo, Republican mayor of San Diego Jerry Sanders. Bravo.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The October 2007, 50th anniversary issue of Gentleman's Quarterly (US version) features 50 of the most stylish men of the past 50 years. There is a different man on each of ten covers -- men who, of the 50 listed, purportedly represent the ultimate in manly style. The cover I bought?

Wow! Now I know why my mother swooned.

Other notables on the covers include Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, and JFK. I daresay the effortless Sir Michael Caine should have replaced the media-hyped and stylist-created Tom Brady as a cover boy, but at least Caine's in the top 50.

And I must also note that this phenomenal shot of Paul Newman more than makes up for the inclusion of Pete Doherty *shudder* in the top 50.

Doherty always reminds me of white bread left out in the rain -- soggy, bloated, torn and disheveled from being thrown out on the cobblestone to be pock-marked then rejected by flying rats -- decidedly not stylish. Though I suppose he does own his look, which I maintain is the true measure of style.

Gah, sometimes I loathe paradox.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Celebrate the freedom to read during Banned Books Week.

Scanning the banned books table at my favorite local bookstore I came across this mini-review of one of my long-time favorite oft-contested books:

And right next to it, one of the greatest novels of the 20th Century:

Those silly Diesel boys.

Can you imagine being told what you can or cannot read and come to your own conclusions about? There is a nice little essay about the neverending Harry Potter ban brouhaha where the author sums up the why of the ban attempts quite nicely:

...[to] limit education and information to facts so incontestable that they arouse no controversy at any level, thereby leaving young people unequipped to think about and address larger questions about the nature of our society.

If you don't allow your child (or adult, for that matter) to ponder through imagination and possibility in books the vast world in which we live, how can they be expected to tackle it everyday, and try to move fluidly through it? It's just one less tool they have to succeed. I feel so lucky that my parents encouraged me to read everything I could get my hands on. While I'm no super-genius from reading everything from Playboy to Russian lit, at the very least reading assured me that the world is my oyster.

Only the suppressed word is dangerous.

Karl Ludwig Börne



Thursday, September 20, 2007

A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence.

Takamura Yukiyoshi, founder of Takamura-ha Shindo Yoshin-ryu


Huckleberry ice cream and strawberry-ginger sorbet from Ici

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

So, I was carded today for booze. It's been a long time.

As I'd left my identification at home, I told the cashier that, as such, I had been hoping he wouldn't ask. He paused. Hopeful, I squinted and piped up, "do these eyes look like the eyes of someone under 21?"

Thankfully, he was silent and just told me he'd make an exception. When I went out to the car, I squinted at myself in the rearview. Huh, not as many crinklies as before.

Woo-hoo Neroli face cream from Well Within!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sigh. The Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2007 collection.

Oh heavenly squee...

This is all sorts of wrong for me (fur, a color near my face that makes me look jaundiced, fur, the fact it probably costs more than some new cars) but oh how I am consumed by desire to wear it. The golden embroidery, the luxurious fur (meep) skirt, the leather shrug/glove combo -- all fantastic.

I'm glad to see my long-time love, his leather leggings, are still going strong. Love them, want them, will only be able to afford them, well, never.

And I don't even have a teevee, so how am I addicted to Tim Gunn's Guide to Style? Because my gym installed cardio equipment with televisions. Good news is that if my addiction keeps up, I have to do an hour's worth of cardio to get my fix. I may just be able to wear those leather leggings without shame. Must win lotto first though.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

I've never been a Bob Dylan fan, and this doesn't change that. But it is brilliant fun!
Blue whale carcass washes up on SoCal beach.

Wow. Only 12,000 in all the ocean -- what are the odds?


Friday, September 14, 2007

Living in an urban area, most natural experiences tend to be orchestrated (drive to the hills), rodent-based (rats surprising you in the ivy), or surrounded by asphalt and people (go to the zoo, go to the park built at the junction of two expressways). We're lucky to have the Bay so close, but most folks still gotta pile into a car or crowd onto a bus to get to it.

Well, the asphalt was still there today, but I took a long walk with my sugarlump around our neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods and we witnessed:

1) two crows chase a peregrine falcon away from their nest
2) 16 honking geese flying really low (luckily not over our heads!)
3) a tiny, cobalt hummingbird with a scarlet throat take leisurely dips into every single flower on a bush in our apartment building's backyard, when we went outside to sip punch while the sun went down

I regularly see families of fat, impassive raccoons (squee! -- not impassive, me) and creepy possums lurking in the shadows when I ride my bike or walk in the evening, and both my hubby and I saw a baby skunk squeeze through the chain-link last night.

I'm lucky I walk and ride my bike most places and don't iPod or yak on a mobile when I'm out and about, because I think these animal activities are things you totally miss out on when you drive and/or zone. I really miss living in the backwoods sometimes, so it's these little bits that keep me going.

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My sweetie-pie will be joining our good friends Julie and Ellie to read some new poetry September 29th at McNally's Irish Pub in Oakland.

Back Room Live ! Proudly Presents ! Eleanor Bayne Johnson ! Hillary
Gravendyk ! David Larsen ! Julie Choffel ! Trevor Calvert ! Saturday
Night ! September 29 ! Mc Nally's Irish Pub ! 7pm !

McNally's Irish Pub
5352 College Ave
Oakland, CA 94618
(510) 654-9463
Minutes from the Rockridge BART Station
and on the 51 bus line

See you there!


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Q: What can turn an office full of strong, focused, professional, feminist women into a bunch of giggling schoolgirls?

A: A surprise facilities inspection by the Oakland Fire Department's Station 8 in Temescal.

Hot. Damn.

So here I am at blogger, getting ready to hate on the fact that when I went newborn girl clothes shopping yesterday for a baby shower I'm attending, I found the vast majority of "girl" clothing emblazoned with passive niceties ("smile!" -- gag me) or equally uninspired things like "pretty" or "born to shop," while the "boy" clothing was mostly dynamic -- imprinted with statements touting their ability.

Creepy and not-so-subtle programming, right? Right.

And then I remembered, as if in a pleasant dream you wish not to wake from: six handsome, friendly guys with the kind of muscled arms and backs used to carrying heavy equipment -- most with those sexy firepant suspenders on, pulled down to hang loose around tight thermal tops that stretched across lightly rippled abs (oh, you better believe I looked!). Authoratative, but respectful, friendly, and chatty, they opened our office door and were confronted with an office made up entirely of women.

We were at their mercy. The office went from, "oh shit, pull the boxes out of the furnace room and find the fire extinguishers" to "why yes, big boy, I'll come by your open house this weekend and you can show me your fire hose."

I am slightly ashamed. I have nothing to say for myself. But I suppose the moral is that I guess I'm okay with a little selective programming!


Monday, September 10, 2007

Check out this very recent talk with Joy Division/New Order bassist Peter Hook at the current Urbis exhibition on The Hacienda.

(First of four parts -- the rest are available in the menu on the linked page at the lower right.)

Peter Hook is fucking hilarious, and so salt of the earth. Frank talk about JD and NO, the Factory scene, his bass playing (love it!), his past drug use, even "Berr-nerrd." I want to buy this man a drink. Dinner even! Okay, I suppose I'll settle for seeing him DJ next time he comes through San Francisco.

I love Joy Division...I know it seems uncool to revel in it, it's like me me me...but the music is fantastic. I'll sit there at home and play them now, play '24 Hours.' Fucking hell, I'm proud of myself, I suppose.

-- Peter Hook, Part Three

Fookin' cunt!

-- ibid, Part Three


Joy Division is legendary, and continue to be so timeless and influential because the music is just that -- fantastic (thank you Martin Hannett!). Also playing into this: people are really blessed that Hooky still loves Joy Division, as there are some members of influential bands who publicly deride old material while continuing to ride the fame it brings *cough*Bauhaus*cough* and that's not only a joykiller and totally lame, but a real disservice to fans.

Lucky too that Hooky is so mellow about peeps picking his brain about as it is when it was; for this reason he, too, will be legendary long after he's gone.

Just awesome.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Hee! Here's a little passive-aggressive fun. I recommend God Almighty and Chainsaw.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Short, but recommended article in the Japan Times about tattooing in Japan, with a bit on tebori. I hope I have it together enough someday to get a piece done this way.

Speaking of, may have some pics up next month of the hubby's soon to be finished sleeve. Prepare to see some Mignola and semi-Japanese-style kaze, via Dave Moore at True Love Tattoo.

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Just musing: I was driving back from the grocery store and I couldn't help but notice how many 50-something women I encountered today who look like the current incarnation of David Bowie. It was eerie. I know it sounds like I'm joking, but as much as it pains me to say it, Andrea, it's true.

Something I will not miss when this incarnation of indie/emo is gone: boys in girl jeans. Enough already!

Why I still don't have a mobile: I don't want to be associated at all, even remotely, with the lady sitting behind me at Asmara last night, who was ignoring her dining companions while she conducted banking business on her cell at dinner. Trying to whisper her bank/credit card account numbers to the poor customer service representative, she repeatedly said, "I can't speak louder, I'm in public. In a restaurant" while rudely waving off the waitress like she was royalty. When did this become acceptable? Get off your phone!

Gah, it's bad enough we were dining at the same establishment and I grudgingly have to include her as not only a member of my species, but my gender -- no way I want one more thing that, to the untrained eye, binds us.

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I think I may begin to document my neighborhood's high incidence of discarded and abandoned hair weaves. Watch this space!


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Mmmmmm, jibachi osenbei.

I would actually like to try this rice cracker. The fingernails, however -- in such close proximity to food about to be eaten -- make me want to heave.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

In order to marry my interests in, 1) ranting about everything I like or dislike to anyone who will listen, and 2) glorious eating, I've broken down and begun Yelping. Check it, here.

But saudade, you cry, isn't teh rant what you do here? Yes, but at Yelp you get those little star-thingys and it is oh so satisfying.

NR: Abundance: a Novel of Marie Antoinette

NP: KALX, 90.7 FM Berkeley

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Hee hee hee, Larry Craig's "Shamhunt" ad.

For non-US readers who (rightfully) don't pay attention to our righteous leaders' fear and hate of "the gay" and their subsequent and inevitable hypocritical downfalls -- get your tidy dose of the Larry Craig spectacle here.

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