Happy holidays

December 13th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

I’m off to England for a few weeks. Enjoy the holidays, everyone.


November 29th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

I think I overdosed on pie.

Cold weather returns

October 14th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

If anyone needs me, I’ll be curled up on my bed with a blanket, a book, and a hot cup of tea, listening to Kings of Convenience and smiling.

The D.C. whirlwind continues

September 29th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

After mentioning how beautiful Washington, D.C. is, I saw a chart in the Washington Post showing that 16.7 percent of families who live in D.C. are below the poverty line–by far the highest in the region. Alexandria came in second at 6.8 percent. So clearly there’s quite a few parts of D.C. that aren’t so nice, but we’re focusing on the pretty parts.

The International Spy Museum isn’t as exciting as all the subway ads would imply, but it’s reasonably fun, and there’s plenty of cool espionage paraphernalia.

The National Building Museum is worth visiting just to see the building, which is remarkable. My friend Brian theorized that it was the result of someone’s attempt to see how many bricks he could put in one place. Don’t miss the interior; the Great Hall is a marvel of late 19th-century excess.

Capitol Mall is enormous, as is the Washington Monument, whose size can’t be appreciated except by walking up to the thing and trying to look up and see the top.

Overheard outside the Department of the Treasury: “That’s not Jesus, that’s Alexander Hamilton!” (There’s a statue of him outside. The boy being corrected was about three years old.)

My legs are tired.

On the road

September 27th, 2002 § One comment § permalink

I’m on vacation for the next week and a half—Washington, D.C. this week and Boston next week—so don’t expect me to post much. (I’m not sure who I think would visit my site while I’m on vacation. Two-fifths of my readership is currently in the kitchen of the apartment I’m staying at, and another one-fifth is in the next room taking a nap.)

D.C. is flat-out gorgeous. There’s the classic old government buildings, of course, plus all the row houses on Capitol Hill. As my friends and I were leaving the Library of Congress, this is what popped into my head: “Brick, brick, colonnade / Around the corner law is made.” That made me giggle. I don’t think they noticed.

Redefining English

July 4th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

My landlord, Jack, and his boyfriend are playing Scrabble in the living room. Jack just tried to pass off “ashored” as a real word. “The past tense of the adverb ‘ashore’ is ‘ashored,’” he insisted.

Scrabble makes liars of the most honest of men.

Gimme a head with hair

June 26th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

In preparation for a potential new hairstyle, I bought a jar of something called “molding putty.” Can I just say how much that name frightens me? Putty is not for styling hair; it is for caulking, or silliness.

My plan is to try the deliberately messed-up look, as demonstrated by an extremely confused Ed Norton. Ideally, this hairstyle will turn me into an exemplar of geek chic and an all-around sexy bitch. But I’ll probably stick with it as long as it doesn’t make me look like an idiot. My hairstyle hasn’t changed much for at least six or seven years, and it’s long past time to try something different.

Produce versus knick-knacks

June 1st, 2002 § One comment § permalink

An open letter to Sunnyvale city officials:

Okay, so you felt it necessary to hold your Mediocre Art and Indifferent Wine Festival this weekend. Fine. Not my cup of tea, but it seems to be popular.

But was it really necessary to cancel the Saturday farmers’ market just so you could fill another street with worthless crap? I could really use some fresh cilantro and a loaf of olive bread; however, I have no need for neon-colored children’s clothes, soft-focus pictures of sea otters, or a ceramic jar with the words “Dad’s farts” etched into the side.

Thanks for your time.

Bangla Aloo Sem

May 22nd, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

There’s something weirdly gratifying about being the only Caucasian in an Indian grocery store. It feels like being let in on a secret.


May 13th, 2002 § Three comments § permalink

It was a beautiful weekend to be in San Francisco. I spent Saturday afternoon at SFMOMA, and although I was particularly excited about the Eva Hesse exhibition, my favorite work was Video Quartet, a video collage by Christian Marclay. It was shown in a long, rectangular room, with four video screens lined up side by side on one of the long walls; from dozens of movies1, Marclay extracted a 10-minute symphony. Besides being a remarkable work of art, it offered one of the best arguments for fair use that I can imagine. If the entertainment industry had its way, it would be technologically impossible to create a derived work like this one.

I expected to enjoy Perfect Acts of Architecture as well, but that exhibit was dominated by self-righteous modernists who don’t give a tinker’s damn about such petty concerns as whether a space meets its users’ needs. Perhaps it’s worth focusing purely on theoretical questions as a thought experiment; what bothers me is the extent to which some of those architects’ work is informed by the cold vacuum of theory. On the other hand, the exhibit succeeded in making me genuinely angry, which was a nice reminder of the power art can hold.

Before SFMOMA, my brother took me to Vik’s Chaat Corner, a hole-in-the-wall place in Berkeley that he described as “the BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT EVER.” I’m not inclined to disagree. When I told one of my Indian coworkers that I’d been there, he mentioned that he used to drive down to Berkeley occasionally just to go to Vik’s. Good sign.

  1. A sampling of the movies I remember picking out: My Fair LadyMr. Holland’s Opus;Woodstock; footage of Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Frank Sinatra; The Music Man; a Marx Brothers movie; and M. There were many others. []

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