Wednesday, October 24, 2007

From the mouths of freaks

Oh god! This is too good! I'm sitting in my work cubby trying my damndest to squelch the squeals welling up inside! Manna from heaven, I tell you!

Kucinich, MacLaine, alien encounters. People, you couldn't make this stuff up! Check out the Plain Dealer's "Shirley MacLaine claims Kucinich had UFO encounter" below.

Incidentally, I grew up in an era where my first taste of Shirley MacLaine came via Terms of Endearment (and other way worse late-career movies) and her bizarre-o memoirs, like Out on a Limb, that detail dalliances with aliens and (human) sexual partners. But then a few years ago, I watched The Apartment and was blown away. Hard to believe, but Shirl used to be extremely adorable, charming, and not at all scary. The Trouble with Harry and Irma La Douce are both fun too, but you must check out The Apartment. Jack Lemmon is fantastic too. I do not exaggerate when I say that it is one of the best American movies ever made and I'll fist fight anyone who disagrees.

Poor Den Den. People are having enough trouble accepting his short stature and vegan politics! This is simply more fodder for poking fun, I suppose.

Shirley MacLaine claims Kucinich had UFO encounter
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Mark Naymik
Plain Dealer Politics Writer

Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has claimed to have seen a UFO, according to Shirley MacLaine in her new book, "Sage-Ing While Age-Ing."

Kucinich "had a close sighting over my home in Graham, Washington, when I lived there," the actress, a close Kucinich friend, wrote. "Dennis found his encounter extremely moving. The smell of roses drew him out to my balcony where, when he looked up, he saw a gigantic triangular craft, silent, and observing him.

"It hovered, soundless, for 10 minutes or so, and sped away with a speed he couldn't comprehend. He said he felt a connection in his heart and heard directions in his mind."

Kucinich's campaign and congressional representatives did not return calls and e-mail asking whether the Cleveland Democrat, now in his sixth congressional term, in fact saw a UFO or if there was some other explanation for MacLaine's recollection.

MacLaine is a well-known believer of UFOs and reincarnation. And she has been close to Kucinich for decades. MacLaine is the godmother of Kucinich's daughter and attended Kucinich's 2005 Cleveland wedding to third wife, Elizabeth, who's often campaigning by his side.

MacLaine also recommended in the 1980s that Kucinich visit New Mexico spiritual adviser Chris Griscom, whom MacLaine featured in her then-best-selling book, "Dancing in the Light," describing how Griscom helped her communicate with trees. Kucinich has insisted that Griscom was not his spiritual adviser but a "teacher and a very good friend."

MacLaine, who shares Kucinich's opposition to using weapons in space, doesn't shed any more light in her book on Kucinich's close encounter, including when it happened. Her book goes on sale next month.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ghetto rumor mill

Actual quote I heard while walking home today, uttered by a girl who looked to be 14:

"I don't know why they said we sent Blender [?] over to knife that n*****. They're just making shit up."


Luv ya, Sweet Jesus!

Story in yesterday's New York Post

October 17, 2007 -- Chocolate Jesus is resurrected.

"My Sweet Lord," a nude anatomically correct milk chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ that infuriated Catholics before its April unveiling was canceled, returns Oct. 27 to a Chelsea art gallery, its creator said yesterday. This time, artist Cosimo Cavallaro said he expects no problems.

"There is nothing offensive about this," Cavallaro said of his 6-foot confection.

The Catholic League, which led the charge against the earlier exhibit, because of its timing -a day after Palm Sunday - and location - in a Manhattan gallery visible to passersby - won't protest this time.

"This is much less an in-your-face assault on Christians, and it's not happening during Holy Week," said Kiera McCaffrey, the league's director of communications.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What the Hell is That?

This past Saturday, the entire Russ clan went to commune with various fleabitten farm animals at the Smith Plantation's Fall Farm Day. This momentous occasion occurs once a year, when Roswell's premiere antebellum tourist attraction, The Archibald Smith Plantation Home, flings open the doors to its old-timey toolsheds and meticulously replicated slave quarters and invites Roswellians of all ages to spend some much-needed quality time with goats, chickens, sheep, mules and llamas. Well, the llamas may have been alpacas or vicunas - I really couldn't tell you the difference. They also have old-timey activities, like panning gold, and old-timey demonstrations, like a 1,000 year old blacksmith making lawn decorations.

I will avoid the obvious question of why a family ranging in age from 32-82, with nary a small child in sight, would make a special trip to an event otherwise patronized almost entirely by people under 3 feet in height and their chaperones. I will avoid pointing out that not a single parent had Purelle or wet wipes or whatever with them, which would be unheard of at the Propsect Park Zoo's annual farm day, Brooklyn's equivalent event. I will avoid going into detail about how I'm no germ freak, but my heart is squarely with paranoid Brooklyn parents on this issue. To paraphrase Bob Geldof, that place was tick with mixamatosis and anthrax, not to mention fleas, ticks and god knows what else (oh, the Bob Geldof thing is this: Russ Sr and Mrs. Russ Sr. were at a party in Bermuda once upon a time, and Bob Geldof was there, and some fellow reveller suggested he get in the hot tub, and he said, "Are you kidding me? That things tick with AIDS.").

No, I will not be going into any further detail on any of the above because I have a far, far greater vignette from our visit to the Smith Plantation. Let's just say my llama vs. vicuna vs. alpaca confusion was not the only zoological mystery of the day. My story involves this fellow:

I saw this thing from far away and thought it was a Maltese crossed with a chicken and then killed and made into the type of bedroom slipper sold at Frederick's of Hollywood. Shockingly, it wasn't. I was also reminded of the old SNL sketch where Steve Martin and Bill Murray are bumpkin tourists and all you see is them scrutinizing something from the something's perspective and they keep saying "What the hell is that?" over and over again. At some point one of them says "Kids, get your lips off that thing." It well could have been the above-pictured creature (or "critter", as we saw in these parts). Who knows. However, no one in the Russ clan is dumb enough to not figure out that this thing was some kind of fancy chicken. It was chicken-sized, chicken-shaped, and pecked like a chicken.

Not so for the redneck who appraoched my mother and asked her - wait for it - "What the hell is that?" My mother answered that she thought it was some kind of chicken. The redneck paused, sucked his teeth dismissively, and said "No ma'am, I reckon that there is a baby ostich."

I know I make a lot of typos but please note that he really did say ostich.

For the record, it's called a silkie bantam, it is indeed a fancy chicken, and for anyone who is interested, there is an alarming amount of litertaure out there by and for fancy chicken fanciers.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Some Cool Arubuian Shit

Here are some of the more random and unusal photos we took in Aruba. First of all, I have always really liked those hand-drawn baber shop signs that you really don't see much in America. I love them because they tell you even less about the haircutting skills of the barbers within than the incredibly out of date 80's-style photos that cover the exterior of most American hair places. There were a lot of these drawn or painted haircuts in Aruba.

We really liked the Dutch bar food. On the left, bitterballen, which are croquetes filled with a meat ragu. On the right, pork sate. And, of course, fries. I have been known to slam Holland for it's shitty munchy food, but obviously, in my stoned haze, I was looking in the wrong places. I think I was scarred by an early Amsterdam experience in which my best buddy Floris and I got really baked (duh) and bought a big carton of chocolate milk at Schipol airport, only to dicoever, as we shook the open container over our open mouths to no avail that we had ourchased a carton of CHOCOLATE PUDDING. Dutch people were laughing at us. It sucked!

We went into some really old and cool caves in which I saw more bats - and bigger bats - than I have ever seen in my life. They were amazing. We shone our light up into the top of the cave and literally hundreds, maybe even thousands, of bats came out in every direction and never even brished against us, which would have been kind of cool, actually.

Finally, this was my favorite random thing in Aruba. We were driving around literally in the middle of fucking nowhere, and we saw this thing:

A Pink-Letter Day!!!

Today is a good day. A fine day. A wonderful day! Not only is the weather beautiful, not only did I have a Dunkin' Donuts Croissant Sandwich for breakfast (does Burger King have exclusive usage rights for the wonderful word "croissanwich"?), not only is it Sunday and hence there is no work and, in my heathenish case, no church - no, there is more. Ariel Pink is coming to Atlanta!!! November 20!!! I EXCITE!! There are about 10 bands/musicians whom I regularly google to see if they are coming here (they include Of Montreal - WHO ARE ALSO PLAYING HERE THIS NOVEMBER - and the Black Lips - WHO ARE ALSO PLAYING HERE THIS NOVEMBER!! - and Welsh rappers Goldie Lookin' Chain, who I doubt I will ever see again, which sucks, even though some chav in head to toe pink burberry plaid slipped me a mickey the last time I saw them, and also The Upper Crust, who dress like they are in the court at Versailles but sound like Bon Scott-era AC/DC - okay, I have to do a photo of them due to their extreme awesomeness)

(and you lucky fuckers in NYC can see them on October 23, apparently. i hate you all.)
ANYWAY! Yes so Ariel Pink will be here at The Earl on November 20 and I can't recall the last time I was this excited for a show. He will be at the Bowery Ballroom on November 12 if you in NYC feel like seeing him. He's playing with Cass McCombs, whom I know little about but like so far. He sounds way more conventional than Areil from what I can tell.
And ha ha The Earl is about 1/8 the size of Bowery Ballroom, so thumbs up for Atlanta on this one.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Has R2B2 Submitted to the Rolling Stones??

Well??? R2, I am dying here. It's been almost two months since I sent you The Greatest CD Ever Burned By Mankind. So???? Still hate the Stones? Please bear in mind that answering that question in the affirmative will result in me programming my Caller Tunes so that you hear Honky-Tonk Woman instead of a ring whenever you call me. And in me doing a Mick Jagger chicken dance right next to you on the sidewalk when I next come to NYC. And recruiting someone (Sparky?) to throw in a couple of the Bowie/Jagger moves from their Dancing in the Streets video.


The most odious part of my job (well, one of the most odious) is entering in attorneys' time. It depresses the shit out of me because they have terrible handwriting, the task is neverending - there is a new timesheet to enter every fucking day, and the whole exercise is a constant reminder of my meagre salary and social status as a lowly, lowly worm.

Having just returned from vacation, I have a giant pile of these annoying things to take care of, and the only thing worse than one day's worth of timesheets is more than one day's worth of timesheets (in this case I have a total of 16). Fortunately, I have discovered a way to make this horrible, mindless task slightly more palatable - Timesheet Music. I have found the perfect music for time entry - serious metal, thrash, and hardcore punk - and burned a couple of appropriate CDs for myself.

Which brings me to my point. Sabbath! Black Sabbath are so fucking awesome that it is actually quite ridiculous. I think Geezer Butler may be my favorite bassist of all time. One of them anyway (Russ Sr. is angrily saying something to his computer screen about Geddy Lee as he's reading this, I guarantee it). Plus, look how cool Geezer Butler is. I love this look. The whole Furry Freak movement is kind of bringing this look back, but only kind of. Devendra Banhart and Co. are hairy, sure, but in a much more 60's mountian man kind of way, not a 70s working class English proto-methhead kind of way. I can't put my finger on it, but somehow Lemmy and Geezer and all those guys just look cooler, harder, and way more like the kind of fuzzy Muppets you would want to get really drunk with. There is a reason why the only people in entertainment who had long hair and beards in the period from 1980 until now were all speed metal guys. Because of Sabbath!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

We were not killed by Dutch frat boys!

That's right, we're back! Despite the hysterical overreactions and attempts at negative buzz marketing on behalf of team Holloway, Aruba is a wonderful, beautiful, safe and friendly place. We had a fantastic time, and the trip had many highlights. I have a lot of photos to go through and will post some highlights with accompnaying illustrations once I get my act together. As of now, I am back at work and hating it. Hating it!

The best thing about Aruba was the birds. I am a huge bird geek and I was in heaven. My favorite was the brown pelican, pictured above. I have seen these before but never really appreictaed just how cool they are. They are huge, and their feathers look like muppet fur when they are wet, and they dive all around you in the water for fish, and they are really, really good at it.

I also liked this guy - the bananaquit. There was one who came to the bar where we stayed every afternoon and drank the residue of the liquor that had gathered on the lips of the pour-tops on the bottles. The bartender said the bird never gets drunk, and his story checked out.

Finally, the bare-eyed pigeon is hilarious looking. Hilarious!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Kick me! (but please not with a bootie)

Sorry to Russ and sorry to readers for my sporadic appearances as of late. Things have been hectic, especially at work (and I don't need to remind you, work is the single best place from which to blog).

Of the many many things that have been burning me up, here are the ones foremost in my mind.

To all of you Wes Anderson fans, a hearty R2 thumbs down for the Darjeeling Limited. I don't mind a movie that's generally plotless but I dislike one that relies on one quirky episodic bit after another to add substance. And Adrian Brody! Can someone please snuff him out? I was sorely disappointed, and I count myself among the few who really liked the generally sucky Life Aquatic.

In your fucking face, Isiah Thomas!

Fall has begun, which in NYC which means having to acclimate ourselves to a whole new season's worth of unbearable fashion trends. The booties are killing me already and it hasn't even dipped below 70 degrees.

In the continuing story of the weirdness of my life in the 'hood, I found out that my neighbor in Apartment 4B is being sued. By Sears, if you can believe that. And how did I discover this? Because someone Scotch-taped the full subpoena, including damages being sought, to her mailbox. It's been there for the last 48 hours which means that I have to gently maneuver the pages aside when checking my mail lest I crush them. The best part of the story is that that Ms. Apartment 4B is no longer, replaced by a pair of no good skinny little hipsters (actually the boy is skinny and his fag hag roomie is chunky—my favorite hipster combo) who are apparently too scared to move the pages or don't check their mail very often. Another choice tidbit about Ms. 4B. When I first moved in and had to borrow a can opener, we had a five minute conversation during which time she was wearing nothing but a bath towel (though I think she might have had a second one on her head). I bet that towel was from Sears!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Aruba, Jamaica, Ooh I Wanna Take Ya...

I'm going to Aruba! Tomorrow! I will be gone until next Wednesday!! If I can post from there, I will, but needless to say it is not my first priority. My first priorty involves cream of coconut and a blender. My second priority is avoiding the clothing-optional beach, since in my experience, the people who opt to take their clothes off are the people who should not opt in such a manner. My third priority is bird watching, and in true nerd fashion I have printed out color photos of the birds I most hope to see (the troupial! the bananaquit!the ruby-topaz hummingbird!). Bunches, in true mick fashion, has printed out the address of a mick bar.

In honor of this momentous occasion, my first real vacation in years and years and years, plus my first family vacation with my (incredibly generous and awesome) parents and (incredibly excited and soon to be tipsy and sunburned) husband, above is a picture of my all-time favorite Aruban, the tantalizingly scandalous Euro-frat boy Joran Van der Sloot, with slightly less tantalizingly scandalous Arubans Satish and Deepak Kalpoe.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Cottaging Confusion

I heard this commentary opinion piece by Scott Simon on Weeekend Edition this past Saturday. Scott talks about the Larry Craig scandal and how he does not care for the schadenfreude that episodes such as this elicit from those who like to see right wing, gay bashing hypocrites exposed. In Scott's opinion, the exposure of these guys comes at a great cost in that it condones police setting out to entrap "deviants" who are engaging in legal sexual behavior, albeit behind closed doors, leading to the ruining of lives, marriages and reputations. To him, this is a great waste of police resources, not to mention prurient and anachronistic.

I like Scott and tend to agree with him, but I don't know how I feel about this one. I agree that the police have no business in people's consensual sex lives and that they have far greater fish to fry, but I am also absolutely one of those who rejoices in the outing of assholes like Larry Craig, Ted Haggard, and the scores of upper crusty British Lords who have been caught with their fishnets down on Clapham Common throughout the years. Despite recent "advances" - the shift from "do ask, do tell" to "don't ask, don't tell", the fact that Carson Kressley is one of America's most trusted celebrity endorsers, the now-proven lack of total career destruction that results from coming out - homophopia is still incredibly rife. I certainly encounter more casual homophobia than racism. Whether this is because homophobia is truly more prevalent or because people tend to think it's acceptable to be homophobic more than they think it is to be racist is beside the point - in fact, the fact that so many people think it is okay to express homophobic views kind of underscores my point, which is that gays and lesbians have a responsibility to come out, and the more people who are out - voluntarily or not - the better. If people knew that even half of those who are LGBT are LGBT, people's ideas about what gay is and what it means would soon start to shift - for the better. Being in the closet is no different than passing, and we all know how people feel about passing nowadays - just look at the posthumous attention Anatole Broyard is getting.

When the film Brokeback Mountain came out, Daniel Mendelsohn wrote a truly remarkable piece in The New York Review of Books that I feel says a lot about the status of homosexuality and contemporary American society's comfort level with it. Mendelsohn was appalled at what he saw as a serious rift between everything the original novella and the film adaptation stood for and the way that the film was being marketed. The novella is very specifically about gay themes, as is the film (duh), but the marketing of the film focused heavily on the "universal" nature of a story of true love unrealized and the sorrow that results when one is not true to one's self - or more exactly, when society does not allow one to be true to one's self. Mendelsohn's point was that the torment that results from living in the closet is very different from that experienced by other star-crossed lovers - sure, biracial couples face abuse, little rich girls daddies squash their daughters dalliances with the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and religion gets in the way of true love on a regular basis. But all of these situations, horrible as they are, Mendelsohn says, result in the sufferer hating society and the people around them. It is only those in the closet who hate themselves. I wish the article was still live so I could link to it.

My point is, the closet sucks, and only contributes to the warped view of homosexuality in our society. It is precisely because of people's shame that cottaging and other anonymous sexual encounters remain so prevalent in the gay community, yet I guarantee you that most Americans think that this prevalence is because gay men are oversexed deviants who will fuck anyone with neither discernment nor concern for public health. This plays into the notion that gay men are an active threat to the heterosexuality of all straight men and children. (Please note that you rarely hear this type of language applied to the millions of straight men who patronize prostitutes anonymously and secretly without the knowledge of their familes, friends, and co-workers, and without taking health precautions).

Don't even get me started on lesbians. The dueling stereotypes of hairless bisexual porn vixen and butch bull dyke trucker persist as strongly as ever - in fact, the former only gets stronger as it is fueled by the increasingly exponential explosion of pornography. Lesbian sex exists primarily as a gimmick for men's entertainmnet and stimulation.

So yes, Scott Simon, you have a point. Outing should not be the duty of the police. But it should be the duty of someone. The media shoulders a lot of the burden, but increasingly, LGBT activists, sick of bearing the brunt of the public's hatred while their would-be comrades cower in the closet, are speaking out. Out gay men played a role in the outing of both Craig and Haggard. As far as I'm concerned, these guys are right on. People in the public eye who are financially secure and can buy their own independence, privacy, and safety owe it to the legions who have to live their lives Brokeback-styl for fear of serious reprisal. As for people in the public eye who go so far as to rail against homosexuality while engaging in it themselves - well, they deserve everything they get. It's not like they can't just sign up for GayBeGone camp and be cured, after all.

PS The painting is by Paul Cadmus, who was gay and is creditd with being among the first in American culture to really try to bring gay sex practices out of the shadows. He exposed the hypocrisy of locker room and rest room gays as early as the 1930s.