Monday, November 26, 2007

The Post For Which No Title Comes To Mind

Vida is coming up with some doozies (is that how you spell that? is that even an official word?) lately. When I reminded her that she has a dentist appointment coming up on Friday, she said, "Oh, good. I'm looking forward to conquering my fears."


I spent the morning paginating and proofing two manuscripts, which I will (I will, I will, I will) send out before the end of the week. I thank ms. bj for this because she is constantly and thoughtfully posting calls for submissions on the Flips list, and they serve as a daily reminder that I really should open the doors and let my stories wander around more often. Who cares if they come home with black eyes and bloodied lips? At least they will have had a little adventure.


Now, about Lapham's Quarterly, the new endeavor of Harper's famed Lewis Lapham. This first themed issue—"States of War"—is formidable. Crazy. Capable of inducing vertigo. Almost all the 80 or so contributors are dead, and they're all popping out of the grave saying, "Remember when I told you this was how it would play out?" It's the past informing the present in all kinds of interesting ways. Amazing art and photography—not to mention the index-type sidebars reminiscent of Harper's—are also included in the hefty purchase price. My favorite so far is "Eight Wounds Sustained by Alexander the Great." The first two are the best: "Cleaver slash to the head" (aray!) and "Catapult missile to the chest" (putangina!)...


On Thursday I am scheduled to talk to the second graders about writing in general. Vida's teacher asked me to discuss where ideas come from, how to organize, how to transition, how to end. That last one struck me as odd, but Mrs. T. said, "I don't know. They just seem to peter out..." Hahahahaha! I've been there. In fact, I'm there right now...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Calm Before Holiday Storm

Just getting into the rhythm of being back home again, which means that everything is buzzing: washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, Sonicare toothbrush, iPod, laptops. The SU has just built a fire, I've just ordered our holiday cards and baked some cornbread to snack on, and the girls are working on a puzzle. It's all very exaggeratedly cozy.

And that's fine by me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I Prefer Silence, Plus The Very Loud Bookstore Warlock

I have escaped to my bedroom for some peace.

Do not tell my children where I am.

They are in the dining room playing round after round of "Connect 4," and the noise level is alarming.

I repeat: do not tell my children where I am.

I don't know how to explain this recent oversensitivity to noise; it's not like my home SUDDENLY became noisy, after all. Last night I couldn't bear the surround sound in the den and chose to express my dismay by saying, "Oh. My. GOD," every few minutes. Lately, I am constantly turning down music, constantly glaring at people who project their voices unnecessarily in hushed places like the library or even certain cafes.

This seems as good a time as any to introduce you to one of the banes of my existence: the very loud warlock who works at one of my local bookstores.

I have nothing against warlocks in general (at least I don't THINK I do), but I do have something against warlocks who are forever shouting about how they are warlocks and explaining their warlock jewelry and special warlock powers and the significance of their tiny little warlock finger tattoos so that the entire store can hear. And also, this warlock is forever directing unsuspecting customers to his personal areas of interest rather than catering to them. Here is a 99.7% true example:

UNSUSPECTING CUSTOMER: Can you tell me where to find the THE KAMA SUTRA?

VERY LOUD WARLOCK: THE KAMA SUTRA? Well, that's okay, I guess, but have you ever heard of THE SECRETS OF TOTALLY AWESOME WARLOCK SEX? I only ask because I have it on my own shelf at home, and it's a terrific reference.

UNSUSPECTING CUSTOMER: Oh? Well, no. I was really looking for...

VERY LOUD WARLOCK: Are you familiar with the double trilogy boxed set of WARLOCK WISDOM/WARLOCK WONDER? NO? You've never heard of it? I find that hard to believe. I'm a little disappointed, to tell the truth. It was a phenomenon in the book publishing industry. Absolutely a phenomenon. I see you're looking at my ring!


VERY LOUD WARLOCK (conspiratorially): Everybody looks at my ring! They're attracted to its power. I'm a warlock...

I can be standing 200 feet away from the guy, and I can hear him. Sometimes I just crouch near the magazines, cover my ears, and scream silently. And then the spousal unit laughs at me. "You better watch it," he says, while spinning his arms around. "He might gather the dark forces." And then I say, "Foolish! Hasn't he said a million times that he uses his power only for good, never for evil?"

The same cannot be said of me.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Clumsy Post That Happens When You Haven't Blogged For Days

NEW EXPERIENCE: Teaching the 30 girls in R & V's Brownie Troop to play the ancient game of Cat's Cradle.
COMMENTS: Um, my head almost imploded. No, seriously. I felt my brain splintering into several pieces. Also, I felt a deep and abiding gratitude towards my friend, M., who gamely leads this large and fantastically loud group of seven-year-olds. Another thing: I'm sure I had already mastered Cat's Cradle by their age. How can it be that NONE of them really knew how to play?

VIDA UTTERANCE #1: "I can't tell what's corny and what's not corny."
COMMENTS: This is yet another failing of mine. Filipinos have a special relationship with the word and concept of "corny," which I have apparently failed to nurture.

VIDA UTTERANCE #2 (while looking into the frying pan and espying corned beef hash): "Oh. I was wondering what the unfamiliar smell was."
COMMENTS: See previous comment, replace "corny" with "corned beef hash."

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Love in the Time of Cholera.
RAMBLING COMMENTS: Well, it was okay. I was worried about two things. One, John Leguizamo. In this case, I was right to fret. He was horrible in that he went for caricature rather than attempting to lend some humanity to his character. Also, he couldn't settle on an accent. At one point he was speaking through clenched teeth and channeling a manic Tony Soprano. Annoying. I was also worried about Shakira's music, but it was actually quite beautiful and inobtrusive. Benjamin Bratt is, as the spousal unit pointed out, "aIways Benjamin Bratt." Which is not to say he wasn't successful; it's just to say he was...Benjamin Bratt. As for the the performances by Javier Bardem and Giovanna Mezzogiorno in the lead roles, I will proclaim customer satisfaction. I was so moved by the shuffling walk of Florentino Ariza, which Javier (that's what I call him. I call him "Javier," or sometimes "Javi" if he's being silly with me) affected when the character was still relatively young. At one point, Fermina Daza says about Florentino: "He is not a person. He's a shadow." And this is true. A shadow who gets laid every time he turns around, but a shadow nonetheless.

FORGOTTEN JEWEL FOUND ON MY BOOKSHELF: Critical Fictions: The Politics of Imaginative Writing, with essays or conference presentations by Jessica Hagedorn, Educardo Galeano, Nawal El Saadawi, Angela Carter, Leslie Marmon Silko, Jamaica Kincaid, Salman Rushdie, Ana Castillo and many others.
COMMENTS:This book was published in 1991, not long after the demonstrations condemning THE SATANIC VERSES, so you can kinda imagine the energy of the work included. Jessica Hagedorn's conference presentation begins (and maybe this is a much-anthologized piece?), "Now I will discuss Virgin Mary Power." I've had this book for fifteen years or so, and I read it before I could truly understand it, so I'm excited to re-visit.

And now I have to go make lemon bars. *tap dances away while raising and lowering black silk tophat*

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why DO Cupcakes Shrink?

I don't think search engine inventors realized how much amusement bloggers (well, THIS blogger, at least) would glean from referral stats. The following searches have led people to my blog in the last two days. I am like a beacon, shining in the world wide web of darkness, guiding the lost home:

"neurotic nesting behavior in bitches"

"why do my cupcakes shrink?"

"cow of renown"

"hot dog cutter"

"fine phillepenas ass"

That last one kills me. And there's something else that has kept me wondering for at least two years. Every once in awhile, loads and loads of people throughout Europe (or at least people whose SERVERS exist throughout Europe) will google the word "rafiki" at the same time. And they all end up here (only to be disappointed). This puzzles me greatly. In fact, it's a sudoku tucked into a word jumble and then wrapped in the Sunday NY Times crossword.

In other news:

It's November. How did this happen?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

My Thursday Gift to You

Today will be forever remembered as the day I discovered Artemis Bell.

If I've failed to embed the video correctly (it's not showing up when I preview my post), then click here. Um, immediately.

Oh, sure it's easy to laugh at Artemis Bell. But have you ever expressed your unfettered joy to the world in this way? Neither have I! She has ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FOUR of these videos, people. She dances to Yaz, Animotion, KC and the Sunshine Band, Santa Esmeralda (omg, how much do I love Santa Esmeralda?), Parliament and, well, a hundred others.

I am in awe of Artemis Bell.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pot Roast & The Good Filipino Girls

It's clearly time for cold-weather food: stews, roasts, soups, all that good stuff. The other night, for example, I made pot roast. Now, listen carefully because this is where the genius-ness comes in. I didn't have any beef stock, nor did I have any desire to throw the kids into the car and head to the market because, as you all know by now, any 15-minute errand instantly turns into (at least!) a 40-minute errand whenever children are added to the equation (the only exception I know of is filling up with gas, and that's because nobody gets out of the car except for me). And since the pot roast was going to take 3.5 hours to cook, I didn't have 40 minutes to squander.

Are you with me?

So instead of beef stock, I used 2 cups of water and a liberal sprinkling of Maggi (don't even LOOK at the sodium content; just don't do it). The result was astounding, truly. Stop laughing at me.

Okay, now despite the fact that my pot roast included big, soft, and velvety potato cubes, I still made rice. Why? Because I'm Filipino. Go ahead, turn to the closest Filipino and ask if I'm making this up. I am not.

I served the kids a nice scoop of rice with their pot roast, but soon noticed that they weren't eating it. "Why aren't you eating your rice?"

"We're eating potatoes."

"But I don't care if there are potatoes; Filipinos EAT RICE."


"No 'but, but!' What kind of Filipino girls are you? I've made rice for you since you were babies with the express intention of making sure that you'd eat it for the rest of your lives."

"Who made that rule?"

"What rule?"

"About Filipino girls and rice?"

"It's not a rule, it just IS."

At this point, I went outside to great the SU, who was arriving home late from a meeting. I was wearing a flowing green caftan, silver heels, liquid eyeliner, and my hair piled up on top of my head just like Elizabeth Taylor in...just kidding! When we came inside, the girls were seated nicely and grinning.

"Look! We ate our rice!"

Good Filipino girls.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Coming Soon

Javier Bardem as Florentino Ariza? Yes!

I will be one of those first-in-line dorks who arrives filled with hope and leaves—most likely—with popcorn stuck to her sweater and loudly bemoaning all the blasphemous ways the film deviated from the book. I would like to apologize in advance to the SU.

Love in the Time of Cholera, November 16th.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


For your viewing enjoyment, I humbly present a few choice pictures from yesterday. First of all, let's give it up for old school:

A nod to the Summer of Love:

Be still my heart! A different kind of superhero:

Be still my heart redux! My own "spider witch," cowgirl, and princess ("but not a Disney princess," she points out):

The SU carved a bunch of pumpkins, but this was my favorite. Look at that nose:

And I just found this! It's from last year (Lea, on the left, is soooo tiny), which was our family's final one at preschool. For four years, I had staunchly refused to stick my finger in the infamous decomposing pumpkin. Determined to overcome my ewwwww-i-ness, I finally took the plunge. One of the teachers documented the momentous event:

You know what? It was FREEZING in the decomposing pumpkin.

In closing, I would like to beg someone to please get this bag of leftover Kit-Kat bars away from me...