The Blog of Chloë and Pete  

Two characters (that would be Chloë and Pete) looking for love, safety, and Krispy Kremes. A book looking for readers and a publisher. An author (Jessica) looking for an agent, a life, and a region-free DVD player.

email: jessica_lynn -at- watchmail.com

About Me 23.07.02

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Many thanks to Dean, Jeff, and the Harvard guys for the permalinks! I didn't discover them until I installed my new site counter.



  posted by Jessica @ 17:23 |


31.7.02  

 

That Mitsubishi song. I kept seeing the commercial and thinking, "Damn! That Mitsubishi song." Not that I remember which Mitsubishi it advertises, or that I have any greater desire to buy a Mitsubishi when I embark on the Great Car Replacement Campaign of 2002 (if anyone has a particular type of car that runs well with 100,000 miles or more on it already, dating from the mid-'80s or early '90s, let me know). No, it was the song. The damn song. The rest of the world shrugged and said, "Oh, Dirty Vegas," long before Pamie clued me in. She hates the song. I wish I could hate the song.

After long discussion last night with friends about the ethics of downloading mp3s, I went and found it. (This is what the recording industry is up against: one Google search. No file-swapping software needed.) And now I know why Mitsubishi used the snippet it did: in isolation, the chorus sounds peppy, but the song as a whole is driven by fear. The singer's too much in love, and it frightens him; he hides beneath layers and layers of bass and music and distortion, but has to sing about this crazy love, about being cold and needing warmth; the fear drives the song. Which is not particularly common, as American pop songs go.

And now I'm going to hell for that damn song.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:15 |



 

Conversation last night:

Me: So I wrote this book . . .
Unnamed Friend in the Publishing Industry: I knew it! I knew you were asking me all these questions for a reason. I figured you had a friend writing a book.
Me: No, it's me.
Friend: You have a book, and you want me to look at it.
Me: No, I don't. You wouldn't want to. Besides, it's not in a lookable form yet.
Friend: What genre is it?
Me: Err . . . uh . . .
Friend: Is it coming of age?
Me: (sheepishly) Sort of.
Friend: (rolling eyes) And the main character is a white girl?
Me: No.
Friend: No?
Me: Chinese-American.
Friend: Hmm. Y'know, that's actually not a bad market. There aren't any Asian-American imprints yet, but the Latino and the Asian markets, they're heating up right now. (mulls it over) One thing I haven't seen is the Margaret-Cho-type thing, where it's funny. There's stuff like The Joy Luck Club, and there's stuff that's witty and intelligent, but not necessarily funny.
Me: When you say "coming of age," you mean . . .
Friend: Young woman, probably between 18 and 24, you know, she's probably just out of college so she's questioning her identity, and her parents just came over so there's tension there . . .
Me: Um, no.
Friend: No? Well, anyway, I haven't seen anything really humorous. But yeah, go around, check out Asian-American authors, see what's been published in the last year or so. You really have to put in about a year reading everything in a genre and then pitch something that fits, but is a little different. Because it's so hard to get published. Mostly because so many people think they write well, and they just don't.
Me: I'm having it beta read.
Friend: By friends?
Me: Some of them. Some are people I met over the Web.
Friend: (frowning) Most of the authors I know like to do it face-to-face, and by strangers. Maybe you want to join a writing group.
Me: Maybe.

Not particularly reassuring, that. I'm fairly certain I could write a lighter, funnier book; I'm also fairly certain that this book would not be it.



  posted by Jessica @ 18:47 |


30.7.02  

 

Big, huge, crazy congratulations to my co-worker David, who got engaged this past weekend. It was not exactly a surprise, which makes it all the better.

So I'm finally old enough that the number of people I know -- David, Mike, Al and the MOC, my high school boyfriend -- who are engaged is rising steadily with each passing day. Most of them are older than me, which explains why I stand around wide-eyed and say "Wow!" whenever I hear of another engagement. Right now it's hard for me to picture myself making that kind of commitment.

Which doesn't mean my boyfriend and I haven't talked about it. We have. He's 31, and when his younger brother got married last year it threw him for a loop: I'm the older one, he thought, why am I not married yet? And the short answer is: because there are things we both need to do first, such as live in the same city for an extended period of time. (We got together in July 2000, and I moved to New York that November.)

My mother, for years, has been terrified that I'll get married "too young" (she was 26 when she married my father, after a year's engagement). If my boyfriend and I are still together when he finishes school, which will be spring 2004 at the very earliest, then I'll be almost 26 and we'll be able to talk about Vegas properly.

For it will be Vegas. Hopefully we'll find an Elvis-impersonating rabbi.

I'm a little surprised that Stoli-Swilling Stephen Green isn't going to Vegas for his wedding, but apparently he and the lovely Melissa (that's not sarcasm. Did you see the photos he posted of her from the Colorado Blogger Bash? The VodkaSpawn are going to be models!) will be in Colorado for their wedding this Saturday. Best of luck to them, both for the wedding and after.



  posted by Jessica @ 12:48 |



 

Tartan is releasing a Special Edition of Battle Royale. No, this is different from the earlier NTSC all-region I was trying to get my hands on, and also different from the Japanese Special Edition. Tartan hates me. That's the only explanation. Just as I could go and order the NTSC edition from Poker, Tartan says, "Hey, Jessica! Psst! We've got a Special Edition coming out, in anamorphic widescreen, and it might have the Battle Royale Gaiden behind-the-scenes footage that has yet to appear on an English-language disc, and interviews with Beat Takeshi and Kinji Fukasaku! So you're going to wait again, right? There's a good girl."



  posted by Jessica @ 10:35 |



 

My co-workers apparently Googled me today. They found a bunch of things I'd prefer were not online, but not this blog.

I'm still debating, internally, whether that's a good thing or not. On the one hand, the co-workers in question wouldn't rat me out to my boss, or anything like that, and in all honesty I think there's some good writing here. One of them knows I'm writing a novel, so that's not big news. On the other . . .



  posted by Jessica @ 18:04 |


29.7.02  

 

Now here's a dilemma. Paul Frankenstein has, up for download on his site, an excellent mp3 of "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" -- the lovely Saint Etienne version, not the Neil Young original. Like Paul, I am of the opinion that as many people should be listening to Saint Etienne as possible. But this would be a case of lots of people listening to the work of Saint Etienne without the band seeing a penny for it.

Here's what I propose: hit his site, download it, take a listen. Then realize that while you may have "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," you don't have "She's the One," "People Get Real," or any of the other songs off the album Foxbase Alpha. Alternately, you can get Too Young to Die, their singles collection, which in addition to OLCBYH has "Avenue," "Who Do You Think You Are," "Hobart Paving," "Hug My Soul," and my personal favorite, "He's on the Phone" -- none of which is available chez Frankenstein. The only solution is to buy more Saint Etienne CDs.

Or buy me Saint Etienne CDs, as my copy of Too Young to Die ran away (with my copy of Angelique Kidjo's Fifa in tow) and I, hoping against hope that it will find its way back to me someday, have not yet replaced it.

I have "He's on the Phone" as a single, however, bought for 20FF in a random music store in one of the winding streets north of Place Grenette in Grenoble. Got the cash / and feeling flash / in Leicester Square. Bliss.



  posted by Jessica @ 12:41 |



 

A graphic novel, I gather, is a highfalutin comic book.

Stanley Kauffmann, I gather, is completely out of it.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:59 |



 

Jim of Objectionable Content wrote an excellent post about the desegregation of the University of Mississippi, and the armed riots that accompanied it, forty years ago. Go read it.

James Meredith is apparently alive and well; I had been under the impression that he was murdered a year or so after finally being allowed to enter Ole Miss. I'm glad to be wrong.

Forty years ago, folks: in both my parents' lifetimes. My father, born in 1948, grew up in the segregated South, though he doesn't talk about it much. Sometimes my mind can't wrap around the fact that when he was a kid he drank at drinking fountains labeled "White." And I would suspect that many of the students about to enter the Ole Miss class of '06 would blink, uncomprehendingly, at the idea that people rioted for fourteen hours to keep black people off their campus. Desegregation was not simply a legal or a social change, but a mental change so complete that those of us on the far side of it can barely see what was on the opposite side of the chasm. Which might explain why, for example, Ole Miss students don't see why it might be offensive to wave the St. Andrew's Conferate flag at games -- they simply don't get it.

Which is not to say the South -- Mississippi, Georgia, what have you -- is a perfect bastion of racial harmony now. But the difference between 1962 and 2002 is enormous, and I don't know if anyone has really explored what that enormity means for the "New South."



  posted by Jessica @ 10:58 |



 

Here's Grady's review of All About Lily Chou-Chou. For Grady it's subdued.

I managed to see it in between parties Thursday night, and was glad I did, even though at times the movie was excruciatingly painful to watch -- there's one scene where a group of junior high girls bully another girl for no other reason than that they can, and it was done fairly naturally, not with the camp you'd see in an American movie, and since I was not a particularly popular girl at that age, it dredged up some uncomfortable memories.

There are essentially three parts to Lily Chou-Chou. The first is about Lily herself, an ethereal (and I use that word deliberately, as there's a lot of talk about the "ether" Lily taps into for her songs) pop singer, and the fans who adore her -- the main character runs a Lily fan site. In parts of the film the director presents the entries of the fans on a message board, discussing their love for Lily with each other. It's a neat trick: it makes the characters' feelings immediately accessible: it's a straight shot to the mourning and longing the kids don't reveal publicly. In particular, it allows the viewer to appreciate what the main character, Yuichi, is feeling even when he has his head down and his expression carefully blank for most of the film.

The second part details how Yuichi becomes friends with Hoshino, the class nerd (played by Shugo Oshinari, whose name I mention because I want to remember it later -- he did a great job with the part, and I never would have guessed he's 21) and how they form a group that goes off on a beautiful jaunt to Okinawa. And in the third, which is most of the film's last hour and half, the group falls apart: Hoshino, after defeating the reigning class bully in hand-to-hand combat (really), becomes a power-drunk sadist, and Yuichi is unable to protect either of the two girls he cares about. And loving Lily Chou-Chou and her music, in the end, isn't enough.

It's not nearly that straightforward, by the way: it took me most of the film to figure out that the earlier part was a flashback, and I'm still trying to figure out which online screen names corresponded to which characters. The Salon review calls it "Japanese new wave," and I'm not sure I agree, but the narrative is certainly not straightforward. Minor characters -- Hoshino's mother, Yuichi's mother, their teachers -- take center stage for a scene and then drop out entirely. Eventually I got the feeling that for every scene I saw, there were three or four being left out; if that kind of movie irritates you, you're not going to like All About Lily Chou-Chou. And if you're tired of adolescence being portrayed as a dog-eat-dog world of the nastiest kind, go for Battle Royale, which, among its other virtues, shows teenagers helping each other out instead of jockeying for social position. But if you've ever stumbled on a singer or an author and said, "They understand," this movie, in its own digital-video, roundabout, tragic way, will make perfect sense.

Here's the Flash-intensive official website; the movie is finally playing outside New York, so if you get a chance to see it, I'd recommend it.

D.C. was great fun, by the way.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:25 |



 

Before I head off to party (one co-worker is leaving, and another had a birthday this week), I'll say it one more time:

Sammo Hung. Sammo Hung Sammo Hung Sammo Hung.

If y'all -- and by "y'all" I mean you, you, you, you, you, you, you, and you guys -- aren't at the Egyptian Ballroom on the 29th, I'm going to be mighty disappointed. (The 29th, not the 27th, as I may have reported.)



  posted by Jessica @ 17:10 |


25.7.02  

 

Muse is a magazine jointly published by Cricket Magazine Group and the Smithsonian Institution, aimed at kids ages 8-14. It's not the easiest magazine in the world to find, apparently, nor is the site all that well-designed.

But you'd best get your butt over there, because apparently Larry Gonick is hanging out there while working on The Cartoon History of the Universe, Volume III. And judging from the style of the cartoons on the site, he's gone back to the cleaner Volume I style, which I far preferred over the scratchier Volume II style.

You are a Larry Gonick fan, right?

Update: Volume III will be published October 21st. Check out the cover and W. W. Norton's page. Hooray!



  posted by Jessica @ 14:43 |



 

The good A. C. Douglas asked me why I, an otherwise reasonable and intelligent person, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The better question is why I, an otherwise reasonable and intelligent person, have played the game Suikoden through five times. Five, people. I know the location of every single one of the 108 Stars, the order in which you have to get them (yes, it matters. Hint: if Leon Silverburg doesn't ask you to deliver a letter, you're screwed), and which head of the final dragon you ought to kill first. There is absolutely no reason for me to play that game ever again -- and yet I know I will soon as I get my hands on my PlayStation. Suikoden has nothing to do with Buffy; I just wanted to make sure Mr. Douglas could appreciate the depth of my otaku potential.

Actually, now that I think of it, my love for Suikoden and my recent obsession with all things Buffy are connected. But it's going to take a longer explanation than I think Mr. Douglas expected.

The main reason the Playstation didn't come to New York with me is that when I play, I'm loud. And I don't mean I curse at the screen: I mean that I narrate as I go along, reading the dialogue out loud and throwing some more in, explaining relationships between characters that the game doesn't account for, and so on. I did it when I was a little kid playing The Legend of Zelda and haven't stopped. So my black mage and my white mage in Final Fantasy were husband and wife; my Phantasy Star II characters bitched constantly about the cold for the last third of the game (set on an ice planet); and the hero in my Suikoden is in love with Sarah, the washerwoman who packs a mean blade, but his servants/co-fighters/closest advisors don't think she's good enough for him.

Yeah. Freak? I am. I told you this blog would give you plenty of Schadenfreude.

(And Sarah is actually a very useful character if you sharpen her weapon enough -- a good balanced long-distance fighter, though fairly slow.)

(Okay. Freak.)

Now, if I set my narration in writing instead of just performing it out loud, that would be fan fiction, or "fanfic" for short. There's lots to be said about fanfic -- Kate Bolin and Henry Jenkins are the first two people you should talk to -- but the basic premise behind it is: the fan takes the existing narrative of the book, TV show, comic book, movie, video game, or even boy band, and makes up a new story along the same lines. In short, the show/video game/etc. stimulates the fan's imagination, and the fan responds, albeit in a restricted environment. Buffy, for a number of reasons, has inspired a near-avalanche of fanfic; and while Sturgeon's Law applies -- oh, boy, does it apply -- some of the writing out there is not only persuasive and interesting but better than the writing on the show itself.

Now typically I don't do showfic. In a video game you're supposed to be controlling the main character and making the action happen; the leap to creating a story is not a big one. I tend to see shows as more self-contained. One of my best friends in college introduced me to Buffy junior year, and while I liked the show and kept watching, I didn't feel moved (as she did) to write fanfic about the characters, or consider alternate scenarios, or spend that much time reading other people's fanfic . . . until this season, where, as I wrote earlier, the show's writing went to pot. Paradoxically, the more I disliked Buffy the show, the more interested I became in Buffy the story. I haven't actually written any alternate-Season-Six Buffy fanfic, but I've been tempted.

So the short answer is: it stimulates my imagination. It gives me a jumping-off point from which to tell a story, and I love telling stories. It's a weakness, maybe, as it's easier to imagine what S6 would have been like had, say, Buffy not been revived in the first episode or Tara and Willow stayed broken up, than it is to do the stories I've been assigned. But I like to think this way my imagination muscles stay slightly limber. I thought up a scenario last night that could best be described as Buffyfic meets Princess Blade with a little southern-trash-gothic thrown in. It's not Laurel K. Hamilton, admittedly, but it's something.

(Freak.)



  posted by Jessica @ 11:35 |



 

It looks like Blogger/Blogspot is having issues for the second time in 18 hours.

Anyone have a good hosting company to recommend?



  posted by Jessica @ 09:06 |



 

So I'm going to D.C. Friday to have lunch with a colleague (yay!) and then participate in some good old-fashioned trash trivia, hopefully with alcohol included (double yay!)

Here's the dilemma: All About Lily Chou-Chou is currently playing at Cinema Village. It is not playing anywhere else in the country. This is, apparently, a must-see, according to both L and Grady, and I intended to see it later this week. So do I see it tonight instead of running the errands I've been putting off for nearly a week? Try and fit in a screening tomorrow night before my co-worker's birthday party? Hope that it's still playing when I get back?

Incredibly boring to the rest of y'all, I know, but I just wanted something to publish in the hopes that my blog would resurface.



  posted by Jessica @ 17:49 |


24.7.02  

 

Readers apparently told Jonathan Yardley to plug A Fan's Notes, and so he has, not for the first time. Good for him: that's one of the best books I've read, well, ever.



  posted by Jessica @ 15:48 |



 

Feeling slightly sad today, and I don't know why.

Anyway, there's a Salon piece today about that Dale Peck review of Rick Moody's The Black Veil -- not a particularly substantial story, really, basically talking about how it's unusual for a writer like Peck to go after another writer so virulently. (And how in God's name does Stanley Crouch get away with calling Peck a "troubled queen"? He ought to be grateful that Andrew Sullivan has more important things to worry about.) The main flaw of the Salon piece is that it doesn't tell you what's actually going on. And hence I'm going to try to myself.

For several years now, ever since Don DeLillo rose to literary prominence, there's been a group of American novelists (and, occasionally, short-story writers) that I refer to as the "hyperstylists." They write big, sprawling books that cover all sorts of topics, sometimes fantastic, sometimes firmly grounded in reality. They write, or seem to write, primarily not to tell a story about a particular set of characters but to tell a story about America and its social mores. Their political outlook tends to the anticonsumerist and vaguely leftist. DeLillo (especially with White Noise and Underworld) is credited with influencing many of the other authors in this group, including Moody, Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections) and Colson Whitehead (John Henry Days). After those four you can start arguing about authors. David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest) is usually thrown in with them; so is Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius), even though his was a memoir rather than fiction. And then there are other authors -- Zadie Smith, for example; Jonathan Safran Foer, maybe -- that might get classified as hyperstylists depending on how their next books turn out.

The hyperstylists' opposites, in a sense, are the "minimalists": the short-story writers that rose to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s -- Raymond Carver especially, but also Ann Beattie, Lorrie Moore, and to some degree Richard Ford -- whose stories were much more centered on characters than on a broader social scene, and whose language was sparser. Whitehead's negative review of Ford's latest story collection this past March was a classic case of a hyperstylist disagreeing vehemently with a minimalist.

Tom Wolfe has played his part in this debate, for what it's worth, though he doesn't get much credit for it: he's been all about the "social novel" for years, to varying degrees of success (and I'll save my rant how A Man in Full fails not only as a book but as a Tom Wolfe book for another time) and I'll bet a lot of the current hyperstylists read "Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast" back in the day. But this is really an old debate in Anglo-American literature: do you prefer Dickens or Jane Austen? John Steinbeck or Willa Cather? Wolfe or John Updike? The idea of novel as tightly focused story about a particular set of characters, versus novel as examination of a society, with the characters as vehicles to that examination -- that debate will be going on long after the current crop of writers have stopped publishing.

Peck, as you might have guessed, is not so much a minimalist -- I can't say whether he is or not, knowing next to nothing about Martin and John -- as an anti-hyperstylist, and he uses The Black Veil to attack hyperstylism in general, calling DeLillo's books "stupid." His charges are similar to the ones that have been leveled against the hyperstylists before: their sentences are unwieldy, ungrammatical, and sometimes just plain nonsensical (James Wood, also not a big fan of the hyperstylists, had great fun picking apart sentences from John Henry Days); their characters are unconvincing; after you get past all the detail about Ukrainian politics and types of mackerel and the workings of power plants in Pennsylvania, and the ironic tone that sometimes accompanies all that detail, there's no heart or soul to the novel. As Wood puts it, there are no human beings in Underworld. Dickens and Thackeray at least knew to draw Mr. Micawber and Becky Sharp among all their descriptions of 19th-century England.

My own bias is also against the hyperstylists. I really enjoyed White Teeth, while being able to see its flaws, but I gave up on White Noise a third of the way in and wasn't impressed by what I read of The Corrections. I'd rather just tell a story and let the social detail take care of itself -- which, frankly, is harder than it looks: I've had some beta readers complain that there are too many Atlanta references without explanations early on in the second draft of my book. But one of the privileges of being unpublished is I get to stand here on the sidelines and watch the clawing without being worried that my own poor book will get slammed in the process.

So, really, does any of this matter, beyond the amusement factor of Peck thinking up increasingly imaginative insults for Moody or Whitehead accusing Ford of "whining"? To some degree, no; but in the immediate, short-term environment, especially to would-be-published-novelists like me, it matters quite a bit. And that's where B. R. Myers comes in.

Myers is neither (as best I know) a novelist nor a professional critic (though he has to be something to have landed in The Atlantic). Last summer he published an essay, "A Reader's Manifesto," that was far more controversial than Peck's review has been: in it, he attacked five current successful authors -- DeLillo, E. Annie Proulx, Cormac McCarthy, Paul Auster, and David Guterson -- and the critics who lauded them despite what Myers saw as sloppy writing, implausible characterization, and shallow anti-consumerism passing itself off as smart and deep. I loved the essay when it came out, and will probably buy the book version, though it doesn't sound as if it's much more than the original essay and a few comments.

Myers got quite a bit of flak for his venting, but many of them didn't take on his major point, which was how the insularity of the book world could perpetuate mediocrity. He never quotes a bad passage without following it with some reviewer's praise for the same passage. His fear, he said, was that readers, guided by reviewers to these books, would put them down in disgust and stick with the best-sellers or, at worst, give up challenging reading altogether.

When you put that together with writers' worries over the publishing industries -- the chain stores controlling the distribution, editors who have no time to actually edit, fewer independent bookstores, fewer places to have books reviewed -- the narrow strip of publicity for "literary" fiction becomes a hotly-fought-over turf. The more often that publicity goes to bad books, the more the market for literary fiction could possibly shrink, and so on and so forth in a potential death spiral. Now, you can argue that the books being celebrated right now, hyperstylist or otherwise, aren't bad, and plenty of people did after Myers's essay was published (or took exception to other parts of his argument). But we need more screeds like his, or even more screeds like Peck's. The more transparency we have as to who dislikes whose book and why, the better for everyone concerned.

The State of Book Publishing is the larger issue hovering over all the snipping and insulting and bitching. It may be that those of us who blog, as we like to tell ourselves, are at the forefront of an entirely different approach to publishing: look at how Layne is moving his novel, for example. But really, the sale of books in bookstores is still the default model. I might distribute my novel to my beta readers over email, but I know self-publishing won't get me what I want. For that I have to go through traditional channels -- and then I'll be at the mercy of the market, or to editors' and agents' perceptions of the market. So it's in my own personal interest for the market to be as wide as possible, and thus I'm hoping that the arguments over what makes a good novel not only continue, in the most public, fur-flying ways, but that more people get into the argument and expand it beyond the hyperstylists and the minimalists.



  posted by Jessica @ 12:22 |



 

A Brief Biographical Sketch, While I Have the Time

Born 22.08.1978 in New York City (that makes me a Leo, and an Earth Horse, for those of you who keep track of such things) to parents who met in law school. Grew up in Atlanta, though my last two years of high school were spent living in Westport, Connecticut. Majored in history and minored in Asian studies at Swarthmore, with the exception of one semester at the Université Stendahl in Grenoble, France. Have spent my entire professional career so far in magazine journalism. Currently splitting time (long story) between Atlanta and NYC. I'm not telling you who I work for or what my last name is because I'm a paranoid freak.

Other things you should know: I write. A lot. I write here. I wrote a novel, called The Adventures of Chloë and Pete, currently in beta reading (and possible rewriting). I write for a living; I write in private journals; I write long emails to friends I haven't seen in a while; I once, in sixth grade, wrote free-verse poems about 1990 NCAA Tournament games. I speak and read French, though neither as well as I used to. I like oysters and clams, if you follow me. I've been with the same guy for two years now, but he regards online flirting as harmless.

Hobbies, pursuits, persuasions and obsessions: peach yogurt; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; the Squirrel Nut Zippers and the members' side projects; logic problems; knitting; video role-playing games (as opposed to the paper kind, which I've never really played); trivia competitions; and Asian films, and Asian films, and Asian films. Korean and Japanese, in particular, with the occasional work from China, India, Hong Kong, or Thailand thrown in.

Really I'm just a nice Jewish American girl with some oversized insecurities, a tendency to procrastinate, and a desire to see my fiction in print.



  posted by Jessica @ 18:16 |


23.7.02  

 

What the hell: more of the best Korean cinema has to offer, for all gender preferences. First, the men:

  • Cha Seung-won never, as best I can remember, removes his shirt in Libera Me or Kick the Moon. Or shaves. Fortunately some intrepid photographer caught him doing both. Now you see why I'm looking forward to Independence Day Amnesty.
  • Here's Lee Byung-heon wishing he still had those Dunkin' Donuts.
  • Lee Sung-jae, in his entry for the Hottest Korean Star in a Tweed Suit competition.
  • I told you Champion would be Eye Candy Central.
  • Then there's Yu Ji-tae, for those who like their boys pretty.

Now, the ladies' turn:

  • Huge, but very nice, picture of Lee Young-ae in her Joint Security Area bob.
  • When they're not plastering Kim Hye-soo with makeup, she looks awfully good.
  • She should not be confused with Kim Hee-sun, of Wanee & Junah (for which she's gotten great reviews) and Binchunmoo, neither of which I've seen yet.
  • Meet Jeon Ji-hyun, not looking quite so much like the Korean Katie Holmes as she does in, say, this photo.
  • Bae Doo-na is undoubtedly cute but sometimes looks as if she wants to be Bjork. Or maybe Faye Wong.
  • I didn't love Lee Mi-yeon in Last Witness, as I mentioned before, but the woman can clearly talk to a camera, even with an orange background.
  • And finally, Shim Eun-ha, in a very un-Art Museum by the Zoo look.

All of these photos from Popscast.com. Y'all all want to see more Korean movies now, right?



  posted by Jessica @ 16:53 |



 

For Paul Frankenstein, in honor of his filling in for Tony Pierce for the day:



  posted by Jessica @ 15:31 |



 

Given the responses to my last multiple-choice question, I just switched the comment system from Enetation to Haloscan. It'll be uglier, since Haloscan doesn't allow for customizing yet, but, hopefully, faster.

I should add that I don't know of a way to import my old comments into the new comment system. They're not lost, since I still have an Enetation account, but I'm not sure how to restore them. Any suggestions?

Also, to kick off the new comment system, and because it's fun, another multiple-choice question:

This blog needs more . . .
(a) About Jessica's book.
(b) No, no, less about Jessica's book. Sheesh. It's bad enough listening to published authors ramble on and on about their books.
(c) Links to pictures of hot Korean actors.
(d) Fisking.
(e) Flirting with other bloggers.
(f) Publicity.
(g) Of a clue.



  posted by Jessica @ 12:45 |



 

Multiple-choice question:

I am not posting comments on this blog because:
(a) Comments never work.
(b) Comments take too long to load.
(c) I liked it better when Jessica had an online journal with a guestbook.
(d) It's more fun to make fun of WarBloggerWatch.
(e) It's called "a life."
(f) I'm holding out for that promised B.R. Myers post.
(g) Blah blah blah Koreancinemacakes, and not one mention of Han Suk-kyu? What. Ever.
(h) All of the above.
(i) None of the above.

Silly, I know, but I'm trying to figure out if Enetation's recent problems are keeping people from commenting, or if it's something else. And if comments really are that bad, email me and let me know.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:13 |



 

A couple observations from last night:

1. KeySpan Park is a marvel. It is quite possibly the most beautiful structure in New York, certainly the most beautiful structure built in New York in my lifetime. When the latest version of the Civilization computer game comes out, KeySpan Park will be a modern wonder of the world, conferring a happiness bonus on all citizens.

2. "Party Marty," who leads the between-inning contests and dances at 'Clones games, is the hardest-working man in Brooklyn. Even after the Cyclones lost 9-2 (having committed three errors, and the scorekeeper was generous in ruling a couple infield bobbles as "hits") he was cheering and thanking the crowd.

3. You can, indeed, see the Cyclone roller coaster from over left field. And smell the ocean. And have a clear, lovely view of the field from just about anywhere in the park, so you can get up and wander around and get pretzels without missing much.

4. But don't get the pretzels. They are not deserving of the moniker "New York pretzels." Stick to the Nathan's hot dogs. If you really get hungry, Nathan's is down the street on Surf Avenue.

5. You do get what you pay for, in terms of baseball quality. The Cyclones experience is great fun because of KeySpan Park, and because it's Coney Island and it's summer and the audience is having a fun time watching baseball; it is not because of the baseball itself. Anyone who tells you that minor league players hustle more than major leaguers? Is being selective, because I saw a couple 'Clones dogging it. I'm generally forgiving of the dogging -- you would be too, if Andruw Jones, Legendary Babydaddy, was on your home team -- but on an A team that was four runs down until the ninth inning, it was not a pretty sight. So keep that in mind, the next time you have to pay a godawful amount to watch your favorite major league team lose to the Mets and you start dreaming about a "purer" game.

Meanwhile, I realized this morning that I've been rude and not said hello to Dave Tepper, Evil Princetonian, whom I met last week. (Was it only last week? Yes, because the day we stood in line was the same day I found out my car is dead.) And now that he's revealed the purpose of his secret mission to New York, I can tell you: I passed the written test, too.



  posted by Jessica @ 09:59 |



 

My co-worker just handed me four Cyclones tickets.

My. Co-worker. Just. Handed. Me. Four. Cyclones. Tickets.

For tonight.

AUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGHHHHHH!

I am now forced to choose between (a) passing up Jim Lauderdale, and losing the respect of the Bottom Line forever, because you can only cancel an email reservation until noon the day of the show; or (b) missing a Cyclones game, when I've been hoping to go to a Cyclones game since the team started playing last year.

And it seems like instant bad baseball karma to pass up Cyclones tickets offered in good faith.

And Jim Lauderdale will probably play Atlanta soon.

And Bottom Line shows are historically short. I mean, if one show starts at 7:30, and the next show starts at 10, it goes without saying that neither show will last much more than two hours.

And . . . and . . . and . . .

I am so blessed, and yet I am so cursed.



  posted by Jessica @ 16:33 |


22.7.02  

 

It's a good Monday when there's a Korean film report from Darcy Paquet in my inbox. Mr Paquet (since I've never met him in real life) is one of the people doing the most to get Korean films known outside Korea. If you get a chance to see Last Witness, he helped director Bae Chang-ho with the subtitles, which are excellent -- and if you have any experience with Asian films, you know not to take good subtitling for granted.

I wasn't particularly planning on seeing Last Witness, but it was playing yesterday as part of the Asian-American International Film Festival, and L was going, so I went with her. It's really two movies in one: a murder mystery being investigated by a bad-ass detective in a leather coat (played by Lee Jung-jae of An Affair and Il Mare, and let me tell you, if they ever make a series titled "Lee Jung-jae, Bad-Ass Detective in a Leather Coat," I will so be there), and a melodrama set during the Korean War. My own opinion was that the murder mystery part was much more fun than the melodrama. Partly this was because I didn't particularly like the female character in the melodrama: she came across as somewhat self-centered, and the people she was trying to help didn't win my sympathy either. L liked both parts of the movie, for what it's worth.

Taking a minor part in Last Witness is Kang Sung-jin, or as L and I refer to him, "Psycho Music Guy" (he's the long-haired one pictured in my links column). His small role mainly features him being pissed off. This is a big stretch from Attack the Gas Station!, where he is music-obsessed and pissed off, and Humanist, where he is artistic, castrated, and pissed off. I personally suspect that he can play emotions other than pissed off, but that is apparently not a belief shared by Korean casting directors.

Anyway, Darcy Paquet's newsletters always contain information on movies to look out for, and I've just put Over the Rainbow (more Lee jung-jae!), YMCA Baseball Team (historical drama with Song Kang-ho -- can't go wrong there), and Independence Day Amnesty (the Attack! / Kick the Moon director/producer and Cha Seung-won -- woo-hoo!) on my must-see list. Granted, seeing all these films will be a bit harder once I'm in Atlanta, but there is a growing Korean population there, and I can always hop on a plane or online. God bless the Web.

Posting will be light for the rest of the day: work today, and Jim Lauderdale tonight.



  posted by Jessica @ 09:49 |



 

Pejman pointed me to Tim Blair's list of "Songs that Make the Whole World Sick." One of Blair's targets, not surprisingly, is well-known British pro-union solo artist Billy Bragg. And here I'm going to surprise Pej by arguing that Bragg helped record one of the most pro-American, patriotic songs I've ever heard.

The song is "I Guess I Planted," off of Mermaid Avenue, the first of two albums in which Bragg got together with the American band Wilco to write music and record leftover Woody Guthrie lyrics. Given the combination of Bragg, Woody Guthrie, and Wilco, you would think the results would send Blair to bed with a high fever -- and some of them just might show up in a future list of sickening songs ("The Unwelcome Guest," for example). And at first glance, "I Guess I Planted" seems rather blatantly unionist:

I can't even start to look around me here
Without hearing this song
And seeing all of us first separated,
Hurt, apart, and afraid
And hungry for the union
So we kept on
Singing and working, fighting till we got it
And this is the great union song I guess I hear

Union song, union battle,
All added up, won us all what we got now

Now, consider the song in a slightly different light: what if the "union" referred to is not a workers' union but the union of the thirteen American colonies against the British? What you have is a fairly rollicking salute to the Revolutionary War, and cheerful gratitude that America won its independence. The third verse's We fought there at your place / We fought there on your ships is a reference to the French and Indian War, and the all of us first separated refers not to poor downtrodden workers but to Ben Franklin's famous segmented snake.

The way Bragg and Wilco chose to play the song only backs my theory up. It's not angry or sullen, but bouncy, with the backup singers joining Bragg in a hand-clapping chorus. It doesn't have any intro: it launches right into Bragg's voice. I like the album as a whole, but it was "I Guess I Planted" that led me to hit four different used CD stores looking for it. Play it loud at your next Fourth of July party, while waving a big American flag. And thank Billy Bragg.



  posted by Jessica @ 16:30 |


19.7.02  

 

Apparently TNR's copy editors are on strike, or never got to Stanley Kauffman's most recent column:

Charlotte Gainsborough, who plays and is his actress-wife, is the daughter of a producer and the Paris-based English actress Jane Birkin.

Never mind that he got the name wrong: that's the first time I've seen the late, great Serge Gainsbourg referred to as a "producer." Requiem pour un con, indeed.



  posted by Jessica @ 11:58 |



 

They say that Edward Gorey draws
Most ev'ry brand of death,
With myriad depictions
Of taking your last breath;
Born into old Chicago,
Mistaken for a Brit,
He had everything a Goth could want:
Style, macabre wit.

But I, I draw incompetently,
And I curse my clichéd angst, my lack
Of creativity.
And I wish that I could be
Oh, I wish that I could be
Yes, I wish that I could be
Edward Gorey!

(Apologies to Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, and Edwin Arlington Robinson.)



  posted by Jessica @ 09:05 |


18.7.02  

 

Emily Jones has yet to comment on the IRA's apology, though she has assured her readers she will soon. The statement's full text is here.

I'm personally unimpressed. My feelings as to the IRA are rather ambivalent: reading Those Are Real Bullets, a rather horrifying book about Bloody Sunday that came out as a result of the recent inquiries, will do that to you. (In the "no hierarchy of victims" part of the text I thought I heard the IRA saying, "Okay, we've apologized for the people we killed in Belfast, now how about Her Majesty's Government doing the same?") But it's the old chestnut of actions speaking louder than words. I'd be more impressed if the IRA issued a statement saying that they hereby disavow any operations in, say, Colombia.

And to say "we didn't mean to kill civilians" is a ridiculous statement prima facie by any terrorist group, and even more ridiculous when applied to Omagh. Even if the IRA is being sincere, which I doubt, It's about high time we got rid of our sentimental attachment to groups who put bombs down just for show and then react with horror when someone gets killed. It's a trick meant to distance the audience from the potential immorality of the bombers' actions; you can see it in What to Do in Case of Fire, an upcoming German film (and I'll admit I'm judging it based on the trailer, but from what I can tell, you're supposed to be rooting for the bombers, not against them) and even in Philip Roth's American Pastoral, where the protagonist tries to comfort himself with the fact that his daughter didn't mean to kill anyone. At least Roth has the wisdom to emphasize it's cold comfort.

I wonder if the IRA isn't trying to appeal to a broader audience -- namely, the Irish-American (or just plain American) constituency that has been much less inclined to sympathize with it since September 11th. That, or they're hoping Tony Blair will tell David Trimble, "It's okay, they've apologized, they're good folks." Which he might well do.



  posted by Jessica @ 17:26 |


16.7.02  

 

Note to all the cool kids in L.A. (especially Miss Naked Hannah and you, sir): Sammo Hung (yes, that Sammo Hung) will be appearing July 29th at the Egyptian Ballroom to attend a screening of Pedicab Driver, which is said to be one of his best films. The screening is hosted by the good people at Asian Film Foundation, who are rapidly becoming to L.A. what Subway is to New York; in addition to hosting Sammo Hung, the AFF is in the process of hosting their Midnight@Sunset series of weekend screenings in West Hollywood. They're promising a screening of my beloved Attack the Gas Station! later on.

If you go, say hi to Susie, the woman with the kick-ass curls, and tell her I sent you.



  posted by Jessica @ 15:05 |



 

I didn't find Andrew Sullivan's piece on the Barcelona conference until this morning. It's more about the psychology of the survivor than about the current HIV epidemic -- he admits he's frankly baffled by the problems posed -- but it's still very well done.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:33 |



 

Note to Webmasters everywhere: if your site is down, and your goal is to provide services to other sites, do not claim that your going offline leaves user sites unaffected, when said users can clearly see otherwise.

In other words, bite me, Enetation.

Update: Both comments and Blogspot are back to full strength -- I think. But really, this is getting annoying.



  posted by Jessica @ 16:27 |


15.7.02  

 

. . . and comments are down again. Isn't this fun?

Meanwhile, does anyone know of any good sites that do overviews of American politics? Specifically governors' races. I have Stateline.org, and I had a good one out of D.C. that was fairly selective about the races it handicapped, but I have since lost the URL.

Actually, if we want to get really specific, if anyone can point me to a recent poll on the Tennessee gubernatorial race, I'd appreciate it.



  posted by Jessica @ 14:32 |



 

Comments are back up. Don't be shy.



  posted by Jessica @ 13:30 |



 

Here's the page for this year's Asian American International Film Festival, which starts this Friday and goes on for a week. It's a little difficult to navigate, but they have screenings of Musa: The Warrior, The Last Witness, Shaolin Soccer and Princess Blade buried in there. And I'm curious about the "Gaysian X-travaganza" party listed. No Map of Sex and Love, sadly. If L and I hadn't lucked into finding copies while DVD-shopping this weekend we would've been very upset.

The schedule for this year's Korean film festival is also up. I'll probably have moved by the time most of these get screened; more's the pity. Actually, you can't access the schedule from the site yet, but my friend Kwang-woo has posted it here. I've heard good things about Bungee Jumping of Their Own, My Beautiful Girl, Mari, and Take Care of My Cat, which I've missed before. I wish they'd managed to get Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, but that should make its way across the ocean eventually.

Finally, the guys at Subway are helping promote Takashi Miike films at the Anthology in August; if they get enough response to City of Lost Souls and Happiness of the Katakuris, they might be able to bring in more, including Ichi the Killer, which L loves and which apparently has been "cut to ribbons" on the available Hong Kong DVD. Grady has all the info.



  posted by Jessica @ 11:45 |



 

Comments are down, and I'm having trouble getting my current posts onto the main page. You get what you pay for, y'know.

Friday night I saw Me Without You with a friend. In some respects I liked it thoroughly, especially the movie's first half, which concentrated on the two women growing up in the late '70s and early '80s; it offered a relaxed view of period detail -- "mundane glam," I wanted to call it. (I think Alastair will like it.) And both the lead actresses (Anna Friel and Michelle Williams) are great. (Michelle Williams. Ah, Michelle Williams. I might start suffering through Dawson's Creek just for her.) But in the movie's second half it started to lose me with a more soap-opera-y plot than I would have liked. To keep from spewing the spoilers, if two people who get together by the end of the film had gotten together earlier, it would have been a better movie. Not bad, but not quite as glowingly smart as some of the reviews make it out to be.

The party Saturday night was awkward but not as awkward as I feared: enough of my high school friends whom I genuinely missed made appearances. One is married and just bought a house; one is about to become a teacher; one is heading down to Miami in the fall for law school. Et cetera. My high school boyfriend seemed pleased to see me; his fiancée didn't say much -- she was in an even more awkward position, as her future father-in-law stood up after lobster and made a speech about welcoming her into the family -- but seemed sweet. It surprised me how well I got along with everyone after seven years of separation; we had enough catching up to do to fill in the long silences.

And then last night I sat at my favorite local café -- lots of options, where I live -- and wrote a couple pages, the first time I'd done that in a while. Nothing big; possibly a new opening to the book, possibly just an exercise. We'll see.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:45 |



 

Hmm. A New Republic book review in which the target is not the Writer of the Month but Dubya himself. The typical charges come out early -- he didn't win the presidency fair and square, he caves to pro-business special interests far too often and too openly, he makes fun of journalists, etc. etc. -- and you might be persuaded to drop it quickly; to be fair, by the end Wolfe has started smacking down Michael Moore, though that's been done, and better.

But what started me reading the whole thing was this:

. . . . in the half-century after [1888], Americans elected to the presidency such undistinguished men as William McKinley, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. An era that included two wars, the assumption of an empire, a stock market crash, and the beginning of our greatest economic crisis was also marked by as mediocre a political leadership as we have had in our history.

Two features stand out in this roll call of incompetence: the presidents with the lowest reputations over the past hundred or so years were all Republicans, and they were all guided by the conviction that their job was to side with the powerful in any potential conflict with the poor.

Five presidents are missing from that list: the two Roosevelts, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, and Woodrow Wilson. Let's leave the Roosevelts aside. Cleveland's reputation isn't great, but it isn't poor; he's best known for vetoing a lot and having a candy bar named after his daughter. Harrison is known for even less. (Let's face it -- I can name all 43 presidents in order, and the toughest stretches are from William Henry Harrison to Lincoln and from Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt. The presidents of the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s, with the possible exception of Ulysses Grant, really haven't gotten that much attention, and Grant has for his pre- and post-presidential record more than for his scandal-ridden presidency.)

That leaves Woodrow Wilson. Now there's a revisionist controversy I want to hear. Wilson was a Southern gentleman of his time, which is to say, a racist; the effects, good and bad, on the Fourteen Points on post-WWI Europe can be debated for hours; his championing of the League of Nations paved the way for the current UN; and, apparently, in public speeches he sounded much like Mojo Jojo:

The whole incident is full of signifiances. It is also full of perplexity. With whom are the Russian representatives dealing? For whom are the representatives of the Central Empires speaking? Are they speaking for the majorities of their respective parliaments or for the minority parties, that military and imperialistic minority which has so far dominated their whole policy and controlled the affairs of Turkey and of the Balkan states which have felt obliged to become their associates in this war?

Whether Wilson the idealist, who may or may not, depending on your argument, have caused immense harm by pursuing his idealism, was a better president than the do-nothing Calvin Coolidge -- I wish I knew enough to really enter the argument. Can anyone recommend a good Wilson biography to me? (Or get President Mojo Jojo's voice out of my head?)



  posted by Jessica @ 14:59 |


12.7.02  

 

I hope you crash your mama's car
I hope you pass out in some bar
I hope you catch some kind of flu
Let's say I don't wish the worst for you.

Since my high school boyfriend now lives in Austin, home of the Old 97s, it would not surprise me to hear he'd been listening to that song this week. Spook me, but not surprise me. Then again, when I knew him he was more into Bela Fleck and Billy Joel.

I mention this because I'm going to his engagement party tomorrow. Everyone to whom I've mentioned this reacts as if I had casually said, "I'm going to take a bath tomorrow and drop my hairdryer in midway through." But he seemed to want me there -- he emailed me to make sure I'd gotten the invitation -- and I'm curious about his fiancée. And it'll be my first visit back to Westport, and possibly my first time seeing a bunch of high school friends, since my family moved from there back to Atlanta in the summer of '95.

The forum is ambivalent about being friends with the ex; I've managed to at least come to speaking terms with all of mine, though great doses of time and apologies were usually necessary. My high school boyfriend and I had a particularly nasty breakup -- he once emailed me with the list of times I'd fingered his Unix account (no, really) and a quotation, "Woman was God's second mistake," attributed to Nietzsche; and I was even brattier to him -- but at this point we've gotten into a routine: we acknowledge each other's birthdays, and talk then or soon after. Usually we just catch up: he's applying to business school, I'm moving back to Atlanta, he's engaged, I'm still with the guy from Dallas, et cetera. It's our way of keeping an acknowledged connection intact but not too strong.

I've found I'm not a sentimental woman in one respect: if a particular chapter of my life has closed I usually don't feel like re-opening it, even to browse and reminisce. I haven't been back to Swarthmore since one visit less than a year after graduation. I could have gone up to Westport long before this and didn't. And I can have my exes as friends without being tempted to bring it back to something further. So I'm going.

The crowning detail, though: it's a seafood barbecue. If meeting my high school boyfriend's fiancée and seeing his parents (who liked me back then, though I doubt they do now) won't be awkward enough, I'll get to do it with a lobster bib on and butter-covered fingers. Pray for me.



  posted by Jessica @ 12:29 |



 

Sidney Dorsey has been convicted of murder, much to my surprise. For those of y'all not about to move to DeKalb County, Dorsey was the former sheriff, defeated in 2000 in an election by Derwin Brown, who immediately started firing people who had apparently helped Dorsey move a whole bunch of money around. A little more than a month later, Brown was gunned down in his driveway. Two of the co-conspirators who actually pulled the trigger did not get convicted of murder, so pretty much everyone expected Dorsey to get off. He was also convicted on 11 of 14 other charges of corruption and racketeering. Great guy, that. Couldn't have picked a more appropriate fate for him.

This may -- and I say this carefully -- end up as a very important moment in local political history. For the first time Atlanta can remember, this was a trial where all the major players were black -- Dorsey, his accomplices, Brown, his widow Phyllis (who had been saying "Sidney did it" from the beginning), Dorsey's ex-city-councilwoman wife Sherry, the bail bond company owner who apparently traded sex for jail contracts with Dorsey, and the sheriff who got sworn in to replace Derwin Brown -- and while the majority of the lawyers on both sides were white, this large, sensational, politically loaded trial was conducted with a near-absence of racial fingerpointing. A couple people cried early on that Dorsey had been singled out by The Man, but it wasn't nearly as loaded as, say, the rhetoric Bill Campbell was throwing around while he was mayor.

What this might mean -- again, might -- is that the black political power structure in Atlanta is starting to get a little more mature and less self-conscious. It's been around since Reconstruction, started flowering in the 1920s, made the rest of the world sit up and take notice when Maynard Jackson was elected mayor in 1971, and by now is pretty firmly entrenched -- and possibly secure enough to tackle its own excesses. Campbell made a hash of running the city, and everyone knows it, not least Sister Shirley, who may or may not clean up the mess left behind.

I like Shirley Franklin, actually. My boyfriend, who lives closer to the city than I do, doesn't: "All she's done is run her mouth and take a pay cut," is his verdict so far. I'm choosing to be optimistic right now. From what I've seen, the woman is very politically acute; you have to be, to have had your finger in as many pies as she has (she served in both Jackson's and Andy Young's administrations and was part of ACOG). She knows Campbell was playing a self-destructive game, and she can't keep playing it even if her ex-husband is milking his airport contracts for all they're worth. She might actually do some real cleaning up, and not a moment too soon.

Sherry Dorsey, I suspect, is another politically astute woman, even though she completely alienated her (no longer 100% black) council district and lost the seat (to another black woman). If you flip through these photos, you'll see her talking to two different people identified as "close friends" of the late Derwin Brown. This means that either (a) Derwin Brown's friends are very forgiving people or (b) the Dorseys will be divorced within a year. Maybe two.

I also wouldn't be surprised if Phyllis Brown got into politics. Only if she wants to, though. The woman's been through enough already.



  posted by Jessica @ 16:32 |


11.7.02  

 

I'd been looking for ages for a free image hosting site -- because I am Little Miss Cheap when it comes to this blog -- and I finally found one in PictureHosting.net. If you see images on the left-hand side being tinkered with in the next few hours, that's why.



  posted by Jessica @ 12:31 |



 

Here are some of the things I've done since last we met:

  • Flew to Atlanta, and back. Which was a good thing.

  • Saw my boyfriend. An even better thing.

  • Saw The Powerpuff Girls Movie with said boyfriend. We were the oldest people there without kids. We were also both fans of the show long before the movie, so we liked it a lot -- it's mostly backstory about how the Powerpuff Girls came to be the heroes of Townsville. There's tons of Mojo Jojo, and in a nice touch, he starts out with fairly normal speech patterns, and only after he becomes a megalomaniacal villain does he start talking, well, like Mojo Jojo ("These are the plans that I have formulated, and now I will follow the specially designed plans by me in order to take over the world, which I will do once I have accomplished all the steps in these plans that were created by me!" Etc.). Very fast-paced, nice animation, and the soundtrack is great. Plus Buttercup sulks a lot. I highly recommend it.

  • Found an apartment. It's a little pricey, but a mile from my brother (yay) and centrally located (yay) and across the street from an Indian DVD store. I predict that within three days of moving in I will own the collected works of Shahrukh Khan, or at the very least Dil Se.

  • Wrecked my car. Yeah. Third wreck in five years. It was my fault. The woman that I hit had been laid off that morning. Everyone is fine, with the exception of the couple months in Hell added to my future, and the cars themselves. There was progress, though: for the first time in my wrecking history, the cars both started afterwards.

  • Called myself an idiot a few hundred times after wrecking the damn car.

  • Realized that since I'm still on my parents' insurance, their rates will go up for a wreck which was in no way their fault. Cursed myself a few hundred more times.

  • Learned that my boyfriend retreived the grill that had previously been attached to my car, and that he plans to mount it over a sign that says "Pay Attention."

  • Learned, the same day, that the #7 runs express from Manhattan, but not to Manhattan, in the evenings, which can make getting back from LaGuardia somewhat frustrating.

  • Was introduced to Trillian by a co-worker.

  • Listened to the Prefab Sprout album Swoon. It's not nearly as Britpoppy as the songs my college roommate put on mix tapes for me, and so I found it a little off-putting at first; I have a feeling it'll need a couple more listens before I know if I can warm up to it or not. If you like clever mid-80s Britpop, though, and you can find a copy of Protest Songs, that's the album my former roommate had. I especially like "Tiffanys" and "Life of Surprises."

  • Tried to write a long post in relation to this article (found on Kausfiles), and gave up; I wasn't in a blogging mood yesterday. The gist of my aborted commentary was that young French Arabs don't really see an incentive right now to become French: they don't get any economic benefits (because jobs for the young of any background are few and far between); they don't get any social benefits (basically, they don't stand to gain from joining a more relaxed French culture; and I could do a long digression on gang rape and ideas of masculinity, but it wouldn't be very intelligent); they don't get any religious benefits (since traditionally "Frenchness" has meant Catholicism, not Islam); so no wonder they retreat further into a fundamentalist Islam and/or hooliganism. It's a good article -- the first page especially -- but I wish he'd focused a little less on the social context and more on the economic one. Maybe my longtime secret boyfriend Mickey "Welfare Causes Terrorism!" Kaus will say more on the subject.

  • Read the dead fish story, in which an innocent man with a guilty conscience is framed for mass murder by his conniving wife and her friend, the brains behind the operation. And cracked up laughing, even though I'm in a cubicle and I've been at work since 8 a.m. and all my co-workers started staring at me.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:49 |



 

So I'm going to let you down on the B. R. Myers post. Apologies; Fisking is addictive.

Tonight is dinner with Beta Reader D, because he's going to London soon and I'll be gone by the time he gets back; then tomorrow I'm off to Atlanta, to meet my parents' new puppies, let my boyfriend cook sumptuous dinners for me (no, really!), and look at apartments. Lots and lots of apartments. Posting will be light, if not altogether nonexistent.

Y'all will live. Especially if you're reading John & Antonio, blogging about life in Barcelona. They're definitely worth a read.

If you've been wondering, "Who the *&#$##@ is B. R. Myers?", here is your answer.



  posted by Jessica @ 17:43 |


3.7.02  

 

While I'm on an Atlanta-media kick: I can't listen to Neal Boortz. I have been known to start shrieking and clawing frantically for the dial when I hear his voice on the air. People I love listen to Boortz -- my mother and my boyfriend, for two -- but I simply cannot take that much bile with my cereal, and if one of my loved ones insists on keeping the channel on Boortz I will immediately start trying to drown him out with my own voice, and if you've ever listened to Boortz you know that's not a cacophony you want to hear.

That said, I give the man credit for surprising me, and I was indeed surprised to read that he thinks that the Ninth Circuit was right in ruling the "under God" part of the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional.

I wonder why he doesn't get more public rallies going the way Steve Gill does in Nashville. I think Boortz probably could, if he got incensed enough about a state (as opposed to a city) issue.



  posted by Jessica @ 16:17 |



 

I give. Time to Fisk John Sugg.

Full disclosure: I have never written anything for Atlanta's Creative Loafing. I did write in the past for Atlanta Press, a now-defunct rival to the Loaf, and I have worked for publications that have employed people who have written for the Loaf. Like I've said, Atlanta is a tiny media town, and everyone ends up snarking at everyone else, and most likely six months from now I am going to run into John Sugg at a party and stand there with a frozen smile on my face when a mutual acquaintance says, "Jessica's also writing a novel, and promoting it online." (I even can guess which mutual acquaintance it will be.)

But this manifesto, titled "The Declaration of Independence . . . from Dubya," is so Fiskable that any attempts on my part to resist crumble. I'm sure Mr. Sugg is a very intelligent man, and he can certainly get his point across, but I have disagreed with his work many many times, and no work more so than this one.

First, for contextual purposes:

Although the repeated mendacities of your administration are beyond comprehension -- far greater by many powers than your predecessor's peccadilloes with Whitewater, White House travel agents or even Monica's semen-stained dress -- you earn credit for telling one chilling truth.

If nothing else, Bush is apparently efficient, able to cram more mendacities into a year and a half than Clinton got in in eight. And Laura Bush (as best we know) isn't helping her husband out. But let's take that statement into the more substantive part of Sugg's argument, still addressing Dubya:

Your affinity for the word "evil" raises questions of how in touch you are with reality -- you embrace horribly repressive regimes, from China to Uzbekistan to Malaysia; you seek to ignite a new Vietnam in Colombia; yet you cheer the attempted overthrow of democracy in Venezuela. You side with Libya in opposing an international court that would bring war criminals to justice -- your Alice-in-Wonderland congressional allies have passed a law that would allow us to invade the Netherlands to "rescue" Americans on trial by the court. That invasion may happen -- in Europe, news agencies (studiously ignored by mainstream U.S. media) report with substantial documentation that our military was complicit in the torture and slaughter of hundreds, possibly as many 2,500, Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners, many of them roasted to death in sealed cargo containers.

1) Somehow Bush, who has made buddy-buddy with Vladimir Putin, gotten pissy with Jiang Zemin over spy planes, campaigned for a missile-defense shield that China openly disliked, and uttered pro-Taiwanese statements that made his advisors cringe, has "embraced" China more than his predecessor. Meanwhile, in terms of repressive regimes, Malaysia is not even in the same league as China -- or Burma, which maybe should have been on the Axis of Evil list. But Malaysia? Not a free and open country, granted, but not the PRC, either.

2) Den Beste has already made a long argument against the ICC; I'm still not sure where I stand on that issue, so I'll leave it aside. It ought to go without saying, however, that we have different reasons than Libya for opposing the ICC.

3) "Roasted to death in sealed cargo containers"? I don't even know what the source is for that one. Apparently I've been reading too much mainstream media. I know I've got at least one reader who's part of Warblogger Watch; you want to come down and source the "sealed cargo containers" rumor?

In the one area of the world where U.S. authority needs to be applied -- the Middle East -- you have totally capitulated to the awful Ariel Sharon, a man committed to only one tactic, endless war. Yes, Yassir Arafat is awful, too (he was elected by majority of his people, however, a claim you can't make). And, yes, Israel absolutely should have peace and secure borders. But your non-solution of placing the entire burden for re-engaging a peace process on a people who have suffered under 35 years of military occupation is just, well, loopy to a degree that's almost criminal.

Put another way: Have you no morals, Mr. Bush?

Because it is apparently far too much to ask of these poor oppressed people that they, oh, stop blowing up civilians. Such a demand is amoral, almost criminal. I think Sugg's definition of "moral" and mine differ a bit.

And whether Arafat's election was more legitimate than Bush's is certainly up for debate.

Your constituency is obvious to those who look -- the band of lawless corporate marauders who seek to loot the world's wealth, squander the planet's resources and gamble with American workers' salaries and savings. It is not too extreme to say that you run a quisling puppet government for the pinstriped corporate warlords.

Of course they gamble. Capitalism is about gambling. It is about being able to take risks -- hopefully, risks which you have researched and gauged carefully beforehand -- in order to increase profits and increase your workers' salaries and bonuses. Do I really need to point out that both working for a company and investing in its 401(k) are both voluntary activities?

And it ought to go without saying that if Bush really were a "quisling puppet," then Sugg wouldn't even have an opportunity to work up a froth, because Enron, Global Crossing, et al. would have been quietly bailed out without their troubles becoming public.

Yet, when last week a federal appellate court in California sensibly ruled that the phrase "under God" in the official Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional -- it equates patriotism with acceptance of the monotheistic deity -- you slimed our nation's founders by declaring the decision was "out of step with the traditions and history of America."

The cowed and servile Congress anxiously echoed your silliness. A true leader might, instead, have observed that our nation's founders would not have confused symbols and rituals with real patriotism, and that they would have tolerated -- indeed, encouraged -- differences in beliefs and customs.

More than one true patriot has observed that it is the scoundrel who is first to wrap himself in the flag -- just what you repeatedly do. Your vice president and your attorney general have declared that criticism borders on treason. At Ohio State University last month, those who would exercise their most American right, peaceful dissent, at a graduation ceremony where you spoke were told they would be ejected, denied their diploma and arrested.

Here's what I could find on that Ohio State protest, for what it's worth.

The nation will be 226 years old on Thursday. The words "under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, 48 years ago. That means that for a fifth of this nation's history, "under God" has been in the Pledge. And we can argue about whether it should be or not -- and we do, because we can, because contrary to what Sugg seems to believe, we do not live in a dictatorship -- but to say that to strike "under God" is to go "against the traditions and history of America" is not necessarily wrong.

Mr. Bush, you have used the Sept. 11 tragedy to expand the military budget to an unimaginable $400 billion -- knowing full well that all of our expensive toys were insufficient to stop madmen armed with $5 box cutters. You have reignited the nuclear arms race by changing policy from the elimination of weapons to the warehousing of old bombs and the creation of a new generation of hell-toys.

I'd be more sympathetic to Sugg's points here if he suggested an alternative -- any alternative. But to call the September 11th attackers merely "madmen," devoid of political context, is false. This is like refusing to kill the octopus because the tentacles, not the head, stung us.

Last month, you pronounced that you and you alone have the right to overturn the Constitution, and, relying on the most dubious interpretations of a 60-year-old Supreme Court decision, declare when a person is an enemy combatant (hell, Jose Padilla was a barely educated street gang banger).

I'm not sure why Sugg is getting on Bush's case about failure to act on reports when he himself can't take any of the terrorists seriously. Apparently, because Padilla was "barely educated," he actually wasn't a threat. Bush can't win here: fail to arrest anybody, and he's an incompetent slug in Saddam Hussein's pocket; arrest somebody, and he's a dangerous dictator picking on poor uneducated Latinos.

Trampling rights is horror enough. But the reason sold to the American public is pure sham. It wasn't for a lack of intelligence that Sept. 11 happened. You had plenty of information. Yet, you bungled, you failed to properly analyze and then act prudently. It's absurd to say that the FBI, with 27,000 employees and a $3 billion budget, is impotent before a gang of Third World madmen.

It is absurd, and sad; Sugg's screed isn't devoid of a few actual points lurking behind all the overheated Chomskyist rhetoric. But his larger point gets lost. By playing down al-Qaeda, is he trying to say that any idiot can blow up a plane, and therefore there's no point in overturning our freedoms to try and stop terrorism? Or is he saying that Bush should have been able to stop September 11th that much more quickly? But wouldn't that have required an extension of intelligence?

I don't know what Sugg is trying to accomplish, other than make noise and get noticed. (Considering how many people pick up Creative Loafing solely for the entertainment listings and the phone sex ads, that's a noble quest.) And he's not pretending to give anything other than his own opinion, though I wish he'd source some of his claims. (The one about Bush forcing women into abusive marriages, for example.) But he does himself, and his argument, no favors. I can sit here and pick his claims apart, and I'm sure other people may jump in and Fisk him even more thoroughly than I have here. But someone just glancing at the text on a hot street corner might get to the "roasted and sealed containers" line and say either, "Oh, how horrible!" or "This guy is full of shit," and walk away, either way, ill-informed. Which is not, presumably, what Sugg and Creative Loafing want.

I have to say: ten years ago, five years ago, I would have taken his words at face value -- and I wasn't a stupid girl, even then. Naïve, but not stupid. But I'm not in college anymore and I'm tired of all this squealing. It's been almost ten months since September 11th and left-wing commentators such as Sugg are still trying to sound the same points without perspective, making Bush into their enemy and crying "Dictator!" as if every morning he rubs his hands over a world map and cackles. It is possible to shade the world a bit gray. It is possible to deplore the accounting fraud of Enron, WorldCom, and Xerox without condemning the entire capitalist system. It is possible to raise a mighty eyebrow at the PATRIOT Act and Carnivore without deciding that our democracy is a sham. It is possible to worry about the plight of the Palestinians without excusing the murderers among them. It is possible to criticize this country and still love it and be grateful for the lucky accident that made you an American citizen from birth.

And until people like Sugg start realizing that, the left -- and the front half of Creative Loafing -- will continue to screech itself into irrelevance.



  posted by Jessica @ 11:22 |



 

Can I Fisk this column? Really, it's so blatantly One Man's Opinion (in this case, Will Hutton's, the author of The World We're In) that it's only barely worth it. But a couple points:

It is no accident that WorldCom, whose accounting fraud cost $3.8 billion, was based in Mississippi and was a generous contributor to its hard-line conservative senator, Trent Lott, minority leader in the Senate, as Ed Vulliamy reports today. Nor that Enron, whose profits were vastly overstated by accounting fiddles, was based in Texas and whose relationship with George Bush was so close.

Sigh. Okay. First thing: corporations cover all their bases. When InstaMan, a while back, looked up Cynthia McKinney's fundraising records and found a number of suspiciously Arab-sounding names, I checked the records as well and noted that she was also in the pocket of Delta, Coca-Cola, and Georgia-Pacific, to name three. If WorldCom didn't give money to Lott's opponent I'd be shocked. Second, it was no accident that Enron was in Texas because Texas was where the oil is (and once upon a time Enron did deal in actual commodities), and at least part of the reason WorldCom was in Mississippi because Mississippi, as anyone who has actually been there can tell you, is cheap. Rent is cheap. Food is cheap. Costs of living for your employees? Lower. Costs of doing business? Also lower. It's not necessarily some magical cultural element; it's called "nobody wanted to live there before air-conditioning became widespread, and shooting civil rights protesters wasn't exactly the greatest PR move, and thus the cost of land has lagged behind that of much of the rest of the country."

But let's see where Will Hutton takes this:

The states of the Confederacy remain the heartland of the distinct brand of American conservatism that combines Christian, market and America-first fundamentalism to a unique degree, reinforced in the South by a legacy of barely submerged racism.

And the guns, Will. Don't forget the guns.

1) Christian fundamentalist and America-first and market? The three do not go together. There's a reason why Eric Rudolph -- whom I'm guessing would meet Hutton's definition of a "Christian fundamentalist" -- chose to bomb the most commercial, privately-funded Olympics in modern history. More likely you will have a deeply fundamentalist Christian who chooses to home-school her children rather than support a system she views as corrupt, or a businessman who goes to church every week and says Grace at meals but regards the Tim LaHaye/Jerry Jenkins series as fast-paced entertainment rather than omens of the future. To be a Christian -- to be a practicing Protestant Christian in the American South, even to be a practicing Protestant Christian who listens to Christian music and puts a Bible verse on the business card -- is not necessarily to be a fundamentalist, because the word "fundamentalist" implies a certain set of political views, which are not necessarily pro-market. Fundamentalists (and here I'm treading carefully, because I haven't really studied fundamentalist politics) do not necessarily accept that Adam Smith's invisible hand is also God's hand, much less preach it as a gospel.

2) How does racism "reinforce" this triad of Christian-America-market yahooism that Hutton sees? What kind of racism? I might have been able to buy this as applied to the anti-Japanese feelings of the late 1980s, but that kind of racism clearly isn't "Southern." Hutton must be talking about white-on-black racism. But then how do you explain the number of blacks serving in the Army? Have they been brainwashed en masse? And what if they're Christians?

3) And how is racism in the South "barely submerged," anyway? Does that mean we don't talk about it? We do talk about it, but not enough? Does the racism come from those pro-market Christian fundamentalists? Is Hutton absolutely unaware that Atlanta, one of the most commercial cities in the ex-Confederacy, has had five straight black mayors since 1971, has a black woman mayor right now, and that the mayor before her brought up racism many a time?

Apparently aware of the complete idiocy of this line of thinking, he tries out the complete idiocy of other lines of thinking:

The majority of mergers and takeovers in this stock market-dominated economy have proved destructive: few add any value and most lower it. Between 1993 and 2000, Wall Street had brought 3,500 small hi-tech companies to the stock market; even before the dotcom bubble had burst, more than half were trading below their initial offer price or had gone bust.

Now, we can debate the value of mergers till the cows come home. But that's a complete non-sequitur. If anything, it might suggest that some of those 3,500 dotcoms should have merged with each other to combine resources, find a workable business plan, and stay afloat.

Productivity is higher in both [France and Germany] (the old East Germany excepted) and growing at least as rapidly. The consequence is America's intractable trade deficit. Great wealth and opportunity have been the privilege of the few.

As in, France and Germany have been getting richer with America, and they're the "few"? I'm not even sure what the logic is that connects those three sentences. Any left-of-me readers are welcome to explain it.

The structures that support ordinary peoples' lives - free health care, quality education, guarantees of reasonable living standards in old age, sickness or unemployment, housing for the disadvantaged - that Europeans take for granted are conspicuous by their absence.

So is extremely high unemployment among people my age, because there aren't as many barriers to hiring them. (See: France.)

. . . many in Europe have wilted before the propaganda offensive and begun to accept that Europe's economic and social model is irredeemably weak and that it should be Americanised.

That wilting sound? That's not Europeans bowing to the inevitable American pressure. That's European pension schemes bowing to the inevitable demographic pressure. There will be more money coming out than will come in. That's not propaganda, Mr. Hutton. That's cold, hard arithmetic.

The only thing I conclude is that Mr. Hutton believes that nobody around him can think for themselves. Not pro-market boosters (because they're just being swept up in a delusional tide), not Christian fundamentalists, not businesses in Mississippi, not blacks, not other Europeans who fall like a feather at the first puff of American hot air; nobody, that is, but him, and his contempt will save us all. And we will fall at his feet, so mesmerized we don't even notice he does not have a single damn clue as to what he's talking about.

(Link via Slate. My Jacky-Cheung-loving reader M, who likes the Guardian, is going to beat me soundly round the head and shoulders now.)



  posted by Jessica @ 13:57 |


2.7.02  

 

Hmm. A Cato employee who runs marathons and listens to Beck, Barenaked Ladies and "Man in Motion."

You single, Radley?

Oh, but he's an IU fan. I don't think he'd put up with my Dookieness.

(Link via VodkaYenta.)

(And for what it's worth, I did get an unexpected green light on the story I pitched to one of my many bosses, hence no B. R. Myers post yet. Time for research, which I always prefer to actual interviews. Much easier to interact with a computer, y'know. Especially if Stateline.org is up and running. All you political junkies should be feeding on Stateline.org as if it were hickory-smoked 'cue.)



  posted by Jessica @ 12:48 |



 

Jackie Collins -- not Jackie Collins the author of Hollywood Wives et al., but Jackie Collins, a nice Kiwi girl currently based in London and recovering from a bad 2001 -- has posted a bunch of entries all at once to her journal. Since said journal was one of the reasons why I got into online writing two years ago, and since she will soon be a Fellow Author of an Unpublished Novel, I'm happy to see her back again.



  posted by Jessica @ 11:50 |



 

You know, I was going to put up a list of my girlcrushes for Stephen Green's benefit, but really, how many "I like girls too!" posts should one blog have? There is no "bloggerette on starlet" action. There is no action. Only leering, and leering gets old.

Of course there is my Ambercrush, which really only came into being once I found out that she actually notices her fans, talks about their support for her, and lets them take pictures of her butt (that last from The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe). I love a girl with a sense of humor.

I'm not going to Toronto Trek, though. And what would I do if I did? Stand around like a big dork? I've done the big-dork routine in front of celebrities before -- babbling in front of Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls, once listening to Don Sutton's cell phone ring in a Turner Field elevator -- and thank you, I'm not fond of it, and I don't think the celebrities in question are either. And while it might be fun to party with other Amber/Tara fans, just like it was fun to party with Amazing Race fans and participants, I'd still feel like I had Big Dork tattooed on my forehead.



  posted by Jessica @ 11:31 |



 

All right, let's put this comment system to good use.

I'm moving (back) to Atlanta in about a month, and hoping to have my apartment choice settled before I move. (I love my parents dearly, but I've lived with them before, and I don't think any of us want to return to that. Besides, I need to have my home office up and running as quickly as possible.) I'm looking for a one-bedroom-and-office, or two-bedroom, setup in the Emory/Decatur area. The actual number of Emory students in a complex doesn't matter to me much as long as crime and noise are relatively low. DSL setup is a must, as is an office space where I can close my door. I'm hoping to stay under $1000 a month in rent.

So you have an idea of what I'm looking for, here are some of the places I want to check out: Jackson Square on DeKalb Industrial Way, Highland Lake and Highland Square, Westchester at Briarcliff, Jefferson on Peachtree, and Post Park, which I suspect I would love if it weren't stuck way the heck out in Chamblee. My little brother did OK living in a Gables-managed complex, and I've heard fair-to-good things about Summit St. Clair.

Aptratings.com is intriguing but, I suspect, not all that helpful (on the other hand, they did say nice things about Post Park. Post Park, please pick yourself up -- that includes the gazebo and the butterfly garden -- and move yourself just a bit closer to Decatur. Or even Virginia-Highland. Okay? Good). So if anyone has a complex to recommend or warn me away from, I would be very grateful.

Coming tomorrow, assuming one of my bosses doesn't take me up on my offer to write another story: why B. R. Myers rocks the plastic like a man from the Catskills.



  posted by Jessica @ 18:18 |


1.7.02  

 

I think I'm in love.

I won't get down to Atlanta in time to see him, but he's playing July 22nd at the Bottom Line here in the big city. Anyone interested in going with me?



  posted by Jessica @ 16:37 |



 

Sigh. We will now try comments. Comments courtesy of Enetation, if they work. Typically I've had good luck with Brit-hosted sites -- I've used Postmaster for my non-blog email since December '00 with almost no complaints.

Thank Reader R for persuading me that comments would mean more for my readers than for me.



  posted by Jessica @ 16:18 |



 

Apparently it has been a crappy day for everyone in my office. A big Dark Cloud o' Crap hangs over us. I'm listening to WDVX-FM to feel better. As Layne points out in a rather eloquent farewell address, you have to have awfully big problems to get an audience lately. And I've had it pretty lucky, relatively speaking. (With the exception of that little incident with the Transmeta IPO . . . )

Case in point: a bit after midnight on 1 July 2000, I walked into the smoking section of the con suite at DragonCon to meet a man in a black shirt, black shorts, and black Converse sneakers, who immediately began asking me questions strangers don't usually ask. And I started asking questions back. We went down to the entrance (so he could smoke) and kept talking. About four in the morning he said, "I'm going to kiss you now," and I said, "Okay."

Two years later, we're still talking, and kissing -- though he's quit smoking.



  posted by Jessica @ 14:36 |



 

Sad news from London: My newly returned co-worker tried and tried to get her hands on that Battle Royale DVD I want so much, and came up empty. Bad Jessica! No DVD for you!

I have emails in my in-box from another co-worker, on my move to Atlanta, which I'm reluctant to read, because I am a big coward, especially this early in the morning. Sorry, but we've decided we really need to keep you in New York. Or: What, did you think we were going to give any money towards a move that you suggested? This is a dotcom you're talking about.

I spent most of the weekend with family; we went to a cemetery on Long Island yesterday to unveil my grandfather's headstone. He died July 3rd of last year, after a very long and difficult fight with pancreatic cancer. The tradition at Jewish funerals is to bury the person first and wait to unveil the headstone until at least six months after the funeral; my grandmother waited a year because she didn't want to come up from Florida in the winter, and she wanted the same rabbi who performed the funeral to perform the unveiling. The headstone says, "Loving Husband, Devoted Father, Adored Grandfather"; I would have preferred to have added "Stubborn Leftist Bookworm Who Once Paid Full Price for a Hyundai," but there is a protocol for these things.

I hadn't been back to his grave since the funeral; I hadn't seen the point. He's not there. I saw his body in the coffin, and all those clichés about the spirit leaving the body behind came true for me in that instant. I don't know where he is, exactly -- I've heard his voice in my head a few times since he died, but I think that's a mental trick of my own, rather than any Voice from Beyond -- but I know he's not in that ground.

And yet it was important for us to put the headstone there and mark his burial, as impersonal as the headstone is. The rabbi's speech included a note about burying our dead with dignity, and I shivered . . . my grandfather came to this country as a baby in 1920 from Hungary, and I couldn't help thinking that if not for that lucky accident, the chances that he would have been buried with dignity, after a long life, would have been significantly lower.

I miss him. But after September 11th happened I thought, "At least he died before that; at least he didn't have to see it." Because watching those towers fall would have broken his heart.

So I am not Cheery Cheerfulton yet. Sorry, all. Go have Megan school you about stock options and airline economics.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:00 |


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