Home is So Much Better

I’m in Los Angeles this week and won’t be returning to the U.S. until this Saturday. My days are taken up with work (which I why I’m here) but my nights are spent watching bad t.v. in my hotel room. Jesus, The Swan? Have you heard the premise for this reality show/pageant? How fucked up is that?

Why am I not going out? Well, the only thing to do in and around my hotel is eat (since I don’t have a car). There are 45 different restaurants inside the hotel and 400 within a 4 block radius. Is there a comic book store within walking distance? No. A board game store? No. Anything cool? No. All that shit is in Hollywood.

I suppose I could go out and club it but I’m here alone this week and I think the whole eating-out-in-nice-places-all-by-myself thing is humiliation enough. This whole city is a joke, though. The local morning news programs are the least-informative shows I’ve seen. The “anchors” want to talk about Madonna new tour and not what the weather’s going to be like today. The compare the current flooding in the mid-west to the soon-to-be-released film The Day After Tomorrow.

At least the people I’m working with out here are really nice. That’s something. And the office is only a five-minute walk away (in which I pass, no joke, four Starbucks).

I think I’ll take half of Friday off to go to Universal Studios or do something touristy…

The hotel I'm staying in is famous.


Hell no, we won't grow

It comes as a wonderful surprise to find out that the State of Vermont is one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places 2003. That's right, the whole state.

With historic villages and downtowns, working farms, winding back roads, forest-wrapped lakes, spectacular mountain vistas and a strong sense of community, Vermont has a special magic that led National Geographic Traveler magazine to name the state one of "the World's Greatest Destinations."

Take that and rewind it back, Wal-Mart.

As to what this all means, though, I'm not entirely sure. Does this mean Wal-Mart can't build any new places?


Out of it, but not color blind

I had my weekly Stitch ‘n Bitch last night. This is only our second meeting and initially I thought it was a get-together to knit and (literally) bitch about something. In reality, we knit and talk and maybe learn a new pattern/technique. Last night we were over at Chris’ place because her husband (Matt) had just had orthoscopic surgery on his right shoulder. He sat on the couch in a percocet haze, saying things that didn’t make sense.

Inexplicably, Chris let him answer the phone all evening. I told her that it’s probably telemarketers calling and they’d end up with 400 different magazine subscriptions, but she wasn’t worried. When Jeremy and Katie showed up, both Matt and Chris said, “What are you guys doing here? I didn’t know you were coming…” Katie said, “Uh… We told Matt on the phone that we were coming over…” Matt, still delighted to see them, says, “You did? Wow…” Yeah, it was that kind of evening.

It wasn’t an all-girl evening, by any means. Jason came over to keep Matt company (even though a lamp could have kept Matt entertained for hours) but Jason ended up making fun of him. Example: “Hey Matt, can you open up this bag of Tootsie Pops for me?” Matt’s arm is bound to his side for the next month. He can barely lift a pencil in his right hand. Jason asks what color Tootsie Pop Matt wants and Matt says, “I think I saw a green one in there.” I laugh to myself and shake my head as I keep knitting. Poor Matt. He’s so out of it. There’s no such thing as a green Tootsie Pop. Miraculously, Jason pulls out a green one, unwraps it and passes it to Matt. Oh. Uh… Must be a new favor…


Drawn and Quarterly

The Onion A.V. Club reviews a new graphic novel entitled Bannock, Beans and Black Tea. I'd like to check out more of Seth's work, especially It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken.


Local Blogs

If you live in the Upper Valley, you should know about uvScene (originally "partyweb," so you can imagine what it is these people get up to). I might be contributing in the future.

And there's another local website called The Circuit.
Another cool (but not as cool as me) Vermonter

In Burlington, VT there is a movie production company called Candleboy Films. The producer came across my blog and told me it was nice. Thanks to that, he’ll be the one I send my script to. I just, you know, have to write the script first- but I have a great idea!! I’d tell what it’s about but it might come off sounding weird and lame. [manically rubbing hands together] Excellent


War: Then and Now

I saw Troy this past weekend and I thought it was really good. People complain about how long it is (2 hrs, 43 mins) but I thought the time went by fast. I read the Cliffs Notes for Homer’s The Iliad before I saw it (because I’ve never read the text and there wasn’t going to be time to). All the characters were great: Achilles was petulant, Hector was honorable, Paris was a scrawny jerk-off (played by the scrawny jerk-off Orlando Bloom). Menelaus wants his bother, Agamemnon, to go to war with Troy to get his wife back. Later in the movie, Agamemnon tells his brother that he doesn’t care about his brother’s wife and only wants to take over Troy.

Now let’s called Troy “Iraq” and Agamemnon can be“Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/etc.” It’s kind of like what’s going on now, no? The American people wanted to go after Osama but the Bush administration said, “Hey, let’s use this opportunity [read: 9/11] to take care of Iraq. Hussein’s been doing his own thing for a while now and you know how much we fucking hate it when people are doing their own thing and not our thing.” This is what makes the story of Troy timeless.

I saw a DVD this weekend that Jason got for ten bucks. The general theme of the cover was anti-Bush and that’s enough reason to buy it. I thought it was just going to be some anti-Bush music videos or something. It ended up being one of the most informative pieces of multi-media I’ve seen on what’s going on in the Middle East and how we (Americans) were all lied to. Its news clips, interviews, music, commercials and comedians. One expert says (not exact quote): Tying the American feelings of 9/11 to Iraq, which is something completely different, was highly effective and completely immoral. It felt like someone punched me in the stomach.

And this is something I’ve never understood and no one can give me a clear answer: Why did we invade Iraq instead of going after and catching Osama? In the end, we dragged him out of a hole in the ground and people were like, “Ha ha! We got him!” Great. That’s great but he’s not the one responsible for 9/11. Can we please just get those fuckers first?

Okay, the "DVD" is actually a music album: Rock Against Bush. I haven't listened to any of the music, so I can't comment on that, but there are lots of informative extras that make it worth the $7.99.


The Dreaming

I had a dream, early this morning: I was driving home from Boston. That’s it. Driving along the interstate. Seriously, how boring it that? I can’t wait until I start dreaming about watching paint dry or turtles crossing roads. Sheesh. But then I was rudely awoken by one of my cat making the oddest noises. It was like a “Rruh! Rrrrrruh!” I got up and ran to see what the matter was but he was just angrily chewing on a stuffed-mouse toy. Weird. I get back into bed and have a better dream. Brad Pitt has taken one of my furry blankets and cut it into a caveman shirt, which he’s wearing. (In retrospect, I think the Troy advertisements are finally doing their job: infiltrating my subconscious). We’re in a horse-drawn buggy in central park. I keep shaking my head in disbelief that he has cut up and is wearing one of my favorite blankets as a shirt. He tells me he wants to do it. I say, “Wait! Paris Hilton wants to do it with you. But I think she’s a little… you know… skanky.” He says, “No duh.” I say, “No. We can’t. You’re married.” Then I think: For real, how many opportunities to have sex with Brad Pitt am I going to have? I say, “Oh, okay.”


Look out! He's swimming straight for us!

I didn't even know you can shoot fish in Vermont. My great state never fails to amaze me. Here's a "sport" for all those hill-billy Vermonters that can't wait until Fall to shoot something. I have to say, I don't see how shooting fish is a sport. There's the risk it might blow up, you have to wade into the water to get it, etc etc. Hey, I have an idea: why not use a fishing pole? Huh? I mean, you can bring the fish right to you that way.

I'm going to have to ask all my male cousins if they've heard of this. I'm fairly sure they don't actually do this themselves. Although if I bring it up, a lightbulb might go off in their heads...
Gonna make my brown eyes new

I brought my mom down to Manchester, NH for her LASIK eye surgery. At one o’clock they were going to start prepping her and a two o’clock she’d go under the knife, er, laser beam. Ever the caring daughter, I tell her I’m going down the street to Macy’s and might pick her up later.

I was kind of freaked out that they allowed, nay encouraged waiting family members/friends watch the actual surgery on a closed circuit television screen. I’m sure it wouldn’t be as gross as the major surgery I sometimes come across when flipping through the channels at home but come on, why would I want to watch that?

I end up hurrying back to the office at two. I want to watch to make sure everything goes all right. My mom is already in the surgery room when I get there. The nurse tells me that she has had numbing drops in her eyes so she won’t feel anything. She has also been given a valium and I’m grateful that the ride home will be that much easier; if there’s a woman that needs to chill out, it’s her.

On the t.v. screen is a close-up of her eye, with the lids taped open and a metal clamp keeping her eye open. I’m glad that it’s just her eye on the screen and not her whole face; it made the surgery and what they were doing somewhat removed. The doctor made ink dots all around here eye, put some chemicals in, tested the eye with a special pen and sliced the cornea open. This is when I started crying. The nurse assured me she wasn’t feeling any pain by asking, “Do you hear her screaming? She’s fine.”

The doctor dried off the black part of her eye and got the laser tracking it. Frankly, I was expecting something from Star Trek: the doctor aims a taser gun at her eye and I see a fuzzy purple line shoot into here eye (and hear the tyew tyew sound effect). The laser in this case is so fast I can’t see it. It shoots something like 4,000 or 40,000 times a second for 45 seconds and then the eye is all done. Then the doctor folds the cornea back over her eye, smoothes it for a few minutes to make sure there are no air bubbles, puts in some milky looking anti-inflammatory drops and moves over to the other eye.

Both eyes only took 15 minutes each. The doctor checks her eyes out in another room and we get all the medicine we need in a complementary fanny-pack. A nurse tapes plastic shields over my mom’s eyes and says that she must wear these while sleeping so she doesn’t rub her eyes in her sleep. I asked the nurse when my mom should take her eye drops and the nurse firmly telling me that she should sleep for a good four hours when she gets home, as though I asked if it were all right for my mom to mow the lawn right away.

So my mom slept and I brought her supper later on in the evening. She seems all right and is going to drive herself back down there for her post-op today but I’m not so sure she should be driving herself around just yet…


Conversation I had with my mom when I called to check in on her this morning:

AMY: Hey. How are you?
MOM: I'm okay.
AMY: Are you sure? Is your vision blurry at all? You shouldn't drive if-
MOM: I can see a lot better without my glass.
AMY: What? Already?
MOM: Maybe I need my glass to read the newspaper... I have to ask the doctor...
AMY: You can see better, like, right now? Can you see far away things clearly?
MOM: ... Yeah.
AMY: ... Well... I don't believe you.
MOM: ...
AMY: You're saying you can see everything clearly. You don't need your glasses to drive down, your depth perception is fine, you're... fine.
MOM: Yeah.
AMY: ... O-kay. If you say so.
MOM: Okay, bye.
AMY: Bye.

I don't know. It all seems a little too miraculous for me, but we'll see.


Worst Covers

From bad album covers to bad (very bad) book covers. I totally agree with "Flavor of the Month" coming in first, which I found to be shudder-inducing.

And I have to say that the lame-ass, chick-lit covers are growing more and more worse every year. Apparently, it's all about legs and feet:

Why? I don't understand. I hate feet. And books with cartoon drawings of stick-figure women, pastel colors, curly-q writing won't make me want to buy your book either. You know why? Because I'll look stupid reading it.

Honestly, the women who read these books want a man (usually of the princely, happily-ever-after, sensitive, rich, unapologetically handsome variety). You think some man is going to want to talk you when you're reading one of these empty calorie books? You'd be better off with a guy who approached you whist reading Marquis de Sade.
Post Mother’s Day

I am typing this with gnarled, hooked fingers. In a fury to finish the blanket I was crocheting as a Mother’s Day gift, I spent 80% of the weekend going wrap-through-hook-pull-hook-pull-hook-pull about 40,000 times. Is it bad news when you point at something and all the joints in your hand crack? Is this is the onset of premature arthritis at the tender age of 25? Either way, my mother was stoked about the blanket. Maybe a heavy wool blanket isn’t what she needs at the beginning of summer but…

Last night was spent taking down the tent caterpillars that have invaded the crab-apple trees in the front and back yards. Apparently spraying noxious chemicals at the cobwebs doesn’t do anything (because their homes are waterproof) so I shoved a stick into the middle and twirled it as though I were wrapping cotton candy at a carnival and not disgusting black caterpillars. I ran with the stick to a fire I had built in backyard and shoved the end into the flames. I thought I heard thousands of tiny screams but my sister later said it was probably just air rushing out of their bodies. In retrospect this doesn’t seem any better but at the time placated me somewhat.


New Graphic Novels

Because Book Page is monthly, I usually don't remember to check out the new issue on the 1st. I also don't think it's been too good recently but this more than makes up for it. The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist is sure to rock. I've heard lots of good things about Lovecraft. Dante's Inferno is news to me and I'm very interested in checking it out. I could go on about the rest, but what's the point? I'm going to read them all...


Utopia V. Dystopia

I've been seeing/reading a lot about dystopian books so I think it's time to post something about it here. Guardian Unlimited has an author, Toby Green, post a list of the top 10 utopias and dystopias. I haven't read any (well, there was Plato's Republic in college but as if I can remember any of it now...).

Gerald Jonas reviews a few dystopian titles at The New York Times.

And there's a thread over at I Love Books. I stand by my suggestions of The Sparrow and The Savage Girl.
You've done something different... again.

Y.P.R. just can't stop with the facelifts. Soon, they're going to look surprised all the time and won't be able to smile without ripping open a seam.
A couple new (foreign) books

From Finland, we have Troll: A Love Story. It sounds like nothing else out there right now (in the Fantasy genre). And the super-good news is that it's being released in paperback.

And in the other corner, from England, we have A Question of Attraction. I love, love, love books about angsty-adolescent boys who too smart for their own good, so this one is sure to please me.
More. Special. Comics.

McSweeney's #13 sounds like a block-rockin' issue:

"This issue is all comics. It is edited by Chris Ware (author of Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth), and features so many artists to know and love: R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Daniel Clowes, Lynda Barry, Los Bros Hernandez, Adrian Tomine, Julie Doucet, and on and on. The issue also includes essays from Michael Chabon, Ira Glass, John Updike, Chip Kidd, and others."



Julie's Sixteenth Birthday

These are amazingly bad. Yeah, these too. I can't even image how deluded (or wasted) you'd have to be to think up these cover ideas.


Maybe I should have planned this better...

Yesterday, I went to the Eshqua Bog Natural Area out toward Woodstock. I didn't take into account how early in the season it is, but assumed there would be some flowers to see. I only saw one: the marsh marigold (and only a few of those, at that). The whole walk (and there was NO ONE else there) was basically just looking at green shoots and stagnant water. It totally sucked. I can't even image going there in the midst of summer, though. It's a bog and I think you'd get eaten alive by mosquitoes.
A trip to Longacres

I went to my local nursery this past weekend, looking for a spray to kill the tiny caterpillars that have been eating all the new buds on my crab-apple trees. In the bug-killer area, I see a can of Japanese Beetle spray called Hari Kari. I didn't look at the can closely, so I don't know if it sprays chemicals or actual tiny swords for the beetles to pick up and perform hari kari on themselves. I'd be interested to find out. (And I find it vaguely racist that the writing is in an Asian calligraphy style, like on Chinese menus.)