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-

About Me 23.07.02

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Journey of a Girl
Hate Your Daddy
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The WeatherPixie

The WeatherPixie


This essay almost made me cry. (Joanne Jacobs, whose URL is about to change, linked to it.) Not least because this morning I had an email from the mailing list of Mr. Esperanca, a.k.a. Jared the Arsenal-Loving Marine, who will be posted to Camp Classified by the end of the year. He won't be heading overseas -- at least, not without some significant thought -- but he'll be taking care of the men and women who do.

[28/11/02: And there was more to this post yesterday -- a lot more -- about myself and my mother and things personal; and when I got up this morning I felt ashamed, and thought that putting my personal decisions out for anonymous approval is a bad habit, and has got to stop. There are more important things to worry about, sadly.]

  posted by Jessica @ 16:05 |



From today's Lileks offering:

It’s odd: the hate-mail I get from the far right always has the flavor of someone who is half in the bag and having fun hating my guts; the far-left hate mail sounds like it comes from people who are miserably sober and bitterly regretting the fact that they have to waste time flaying my boil-flecked bodkin, but if they don’t, the planet is DOOMED.

I would have said the same thing in the mid-1990s, only with the sides reversed: the left was hopeful and sunny, the right full of bitter gay-bashers. Maybe it's because the balance of power has shifted. Maybe it's the waning influence (for now, at least) of the fundamentalist portion of the right. Maybe it's just the change in my perspective over the years, or the peculiar grouping of People Who Write Nasty Letters to Lileks. I'm not sure.

Speaking of tone, les écrivains qui voient toujours la merde en France have officially objected to my earlier describing them as "pissy." Substitute "Menckenesque" for "pissy" as needed.

I plead illness. I am clearly not well. The DVD player on my computer finally works, which means I can play those Indian compilation DVDs I bought months ago; now "Pardesi Pardesi" is stuck in my head. This despite the fact that the clip of the song consists of eight minutes of the following three shots, repeated 600,000 times: (1) Dancer. (2) Aamir Khan lipsynching his heart out. (3) Karisma Kapoor looking up fearfully. That's it. There's another drunken, heavily-made-up dancer who livens things up by telling the lovers to get on with it already, but otherwise it's possibly one of the most boring Bollywood song scenes filmed in the last decade. I'm sure Karisma Kapoor isn't a bad actress -- she acquits herself passably in a different song from the same movie, where she actually gets to, you know, move -- but in "Pardesi Pardesi" she gets outacted by her own mascara. And still the song plays over and over in my head. (If you're suffering from the same cruel fate, translated lyrics are here, courtesy of BollyWHAT?. Bless 'em.)

Here's hoping I don't end up watching Lagaan just because it's a four-hour Aamir Khan extravaganza.

And finally, speaking of movies I haven't seen, the Subway Cinema guys get a great writeup from Time. One caveat: if you've been avoiding learning the identity of the Hong Kong actress of whom a photograph, taken while she was kidnapped, was recently published, don't read the column, or start it about halfway through.

  posted by Jessica @ 10:19 |



Two new additions to my links: Sofia Showdown -- that would be as in Bulgaria, land that produced the immortal Iordan Letchkov -- and Merde in France -- bilingual and pissy. Both came to my attention via InstaPundit. No wonder he's not linking to me any more -- he's found some much better blogs to link to.

I'm just really hoping the Merde in France guys don't say anything bad about Marc Lavoine. It was bad enough when Emmanuelle Richard confirmed that Beck was a Scientologist. Don't take away my love of "C'est ça la France." He rhymes la joie and Pierre Bérégovoy, people. Have a heart.

But speaking of interesting blogs -- my ex-girlfriend, as y'all might have guessed, is politically to the left of me, and I think she'd enjoy reading some left-of-me blogs. I know of George Kelly and Jim and Cheesedip, and Cris's LiveJournal almost counts, but beyond that I'm a little stumped -- which says something, and not something particularly flattering, about my reading habits.

But you, good readers, are much more qualified to answer this than I am. Suggest some good, thoughtful, well-written, left-wing blogs. Or journals. Or sites full of essays. Anti-war is good, in this case. If they originate in or around the Boston area (or B*st*n, as my dear Alastair would have it), all the better.

  posted by Jessica @ 19:08 |



Bookslut, which really deserves more attention than it's getting, linked to this piece on pop-culture references in new literature. In comics, specifically, but it applies just as well to novels. As I've said before, this is a particular problem for my novel, as I've got one character (Pete, to be precise) who loves current pop culture, or a subsection thereof, far too much.

Now, pop-culutre references really can say something about a character: if you were writing a novel set in the summer of 2000, and you had a character declare that he's never watched Survivor, you immediately know that he's not particularly keen on following trends, in fact even enjoys defying them. Granted, that's a piece of information in a fairly limited context -- i.e. you have to have been in America in the summer of 2000 to understand why that was such a big deal -- but it's nevertheless a potential part of that character. The classics don't have pop-culture references because pop culture wasn't there to be referenced. It's hard for me to believe that, given the chance, Emma Bovary and Kitty Levin wouldn't watch soap operas, or that Mr. Bingley and Jane Bennet wouldn't eagerly discuss the latest episode of Changing Rooms while Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy look on with raised eyebrows.

A few writers, I think, are much better at facing this dilemma than I am. Oscar Hijuelos's The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love is so beautifully constructed that even Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's cameo appearances work. F. Scott Fitzgerald had more pop culture than his readers now realize; he was writing at the dawn of modern pop culture, and his characters did the Charleston and admired Theda Bara and sang "If You Don't See Baby Every Night You Can't See Baby at All." (Or something like that.) Fitzgerald's solution -- and Hijuelos's, actually, now that I think of it -- was to assume his readers had no idea what he was talking about, and elaborate a bit:

The tune the piano was playing at that moment had been gay and new five years before when Dexter was a sophomore at college. They had played it at a prom once when he could not afford the luxury of proms, and he had stood outside the gymnasium and listened. The sound of the tune precipitated in him a sort of ecstasy and it was with that ecstasy he viewed what happened to him now. It was a mood of intense appreciation, a sense that, for once, he was magnificently attune to life and that everything about him was radiating a brightness and a glamour he might never know again.

(From "Winter Dreams," the full text of which is here.)

I'm very good at finding reasons to denigrate the book -- mine, not Fitzgerald's or Hijuelos's -- and the pop-culture presence is just one among many; but I don't think it's a hopeless cause. The hope in itself (blasted feathered thing) may be delusional, self-serving, and symptomatic of having grown up playing with My Little Ponies and watching MTV -- but that's what I'm working with right now; and, as my boyfriend likes to say, I'm too stubborn not to finish the book.

  posted by Jessica @ 15:32 |



Okay, no more silly personality tests after this. But I loved this result:

Congratulations, you're New Orleans, the wild city.
Take the quiz by Girlwithagun.

Not a complete surprise, since the three times I've visited Find Your Spot, my top three places have been Baltimore, New Orleans, and Little Rock. Granted, I get the impression that Find Your Spot doesn't offer that many cities to choose from, but hey. New Orleans. And if you're choosing cities based on the books they birth, then clearly A Confederacy of Dunces would beat Gone With the Wind by a mile.

  posted by Jessica @ 15:17 |



Darn it, an entire article about humor and fundamentalism and not a single mention of The Name of the Rose. A.C. Douglas, who knows his Jewish jokes, might be keen to read this.

The one flaw I find in the piece -- well, the one other flaw, after neglecting The Name of the Rose -- is that it tracks the changes in German culture while assuming Islamic culture is static. For example, the new movie Muhammad: The Last Prophet -- no, I'm not making that up -- promises to respectfully depict the famous warrior Hamza, Muhammad's uncle, from the back. Apparently no one told the great Mughal emperor Akbar of this rule when he commissioned the Hamzanama, which was on display at the Sackler Gallery in D.C. this summer. So, blasphemers, go ahead and look at Hamza's face (and his three-eyed horse, and his giant warrior friends) all you like.

Akbar is a really fascinating figure -- an illiterate who commissioned gorgeous works of art, a Muslim who ruled peacefully over Hindus and talked with Jesuits, an anti-tax authoritarian. Does anyone know of a good, juicy biography of him?

  posted by Jessica @ 09:45 |


One good reason for me to finally read The Federalist Papers:

(Link via Franklin Harris.)

  posted by Jessica @ 17:39 |



My boyfriend and I went to see The Residents last night -- the Residents otherwise known as Those Guys in Tuxedos With Eyeball Heads. For those of you who have waited years to see a Residents concert (my boyfriend practically danced when he saw them listed at the Variety, and he's not a dancing man), know now: the eyeballs are temporarily in absentia, though one tiny eyeball makes a cameo late in the show. Instead they put on what I would describe as a Halloween-themed show, with demons, flashing lights, and the singers dressed as mummies. I made the mistake afterwards of saying it reminded me of the only Concrete Blonde album I've heard -- the one with "Vampires" on it -- for which I very nearly got smacked down. Don't mess with Residents fans, y'all.

It wasn't bad, but my boyfriend had given me so much detail about the Residents' past weirdnesses -- the album composed entirely with toys bought from a local toy store, the other album of one-minute songs, the possibility that none of the people onstage were actually singing -- that the show didn't seem weird enough by contrast. They played actual songs. The stage show made a tiny bit of sense. Put it this way -- if the show had made no sense at all, I would have respected it more; and if the songs had been more distinctive, as opposed to parts of an apparent whole, I would have liked them more; but on the whole I felt like I only got about 50% of potential Residents weirdness as opposed to 100% of potential self-righteous congratulation on producing said weirdness.

  posted by Jessica @ 09:34 |


Feeling much, much better. I was going to ask, concerning Christopher Hitchens wrote for Slate on certain phrases, such as "armchair general" and "chickenhawk", whether I was the only person who had heard a fairly different definition for the latter word; but Hitchens does actually bring it up. (My understanding of "chickenhawk" was "older guy who prefers younger boys," which is somewhere in the gray area between, say, Alexander and Bagoas in The Persian Boy, and the definition Hitchens had heard, which was "pederast or child-molester.")

Hitchens implies that the two definitions of the word are related, but doesn't really get into how. I'm curious. Does anyone know which definition came first? I would disagree with Htichens that "chickenhawk" in either sense of the word means "sissy" -- "sissy" is closer to the Spanish term maricón, in other words, somewhat passive, whereas the chickenhawk is aggressive -- wrongly, destructively aggressive.

Anyone else have any thoughts?

  posted by Jessica @ 18:48 |



Perhaps my subconscious decided to celebrate Veterans' Day in its own perverse way: last night I dreamed my grandfather was still alive. Paunchy, even. (The last time I saw him alive, in October 2000, chemo treatments had left him quite thin.) We went for a walk on the golf course outside my grandparents' condo in Florida. He wasn't entirely thrilled to be alive -- he had pretty much accepted that his time was up -- but I was so happy to see him, and furious when I started coming out of the dream. I had to remind myself that I saw his body in its coffin.

I've been told (by my boyfriend, mostly) that I still haven't even begun to deal with the loss. On the one hand, it seems almost ridiculous: the man was a month away from 81, after all. He wasn't going to live forever; I had no right to expect any more time than I got. If I spent some of it in adolescent irritation and boredom, that was my own damn fault.

But it's true -- I miss him terribly. He encouraged me to write. He took me on long walks when I was little. My little brother and I teased him about his habit of using a quarter word where a nickel one would do; we nicknamed his car the "Verbosity Vehicle." He would sit and have long political arguments with my dad -- the Southern ex-Marine ex-champion debater conservative's voice getting louder and louder, the older Jewish ex-Air Force quasi-Marxist City College alumnus's remaining measured. When I was younger I always thought they were actually fighting; it took me years to realize they enjoyed the sparring.

I miss him, and I can't have him back. The dream left me angry and cheated -- that strange dream universe being the only universe in which my grandfather wouldn't be happy to see me.

Y'all will have to forgive a definite lack of blogging enthusiasm on my part today. It's one of those days where checking news and reading screeds just drag me down further. You'd think waking up bitter and mourning and paranoid, I wouldn't have much further down to go, but you'd be surprised how low I can get.

In a lot of ways I'm still a child: I want to throw a tantrum and scream it isn't fair. I know, I know: he could have been killed all those years ago in the Pacific, and I never would have even known him. It's a lot more fair than all those men -- fifty years ago, thirty years ago -- who never got a chance to become fathers or grandfathers. In some cases mourning is ennobling, even admirable: right now I just feel whiny and useless, because all the mourning in the world isn't going to bring my grandfather back.

  posted by Jessica @ 09:53 |


For once, I check and my hit counts have quadrupled. Thanks much, My Secret Agent Lawyer Man. But can you pay my bills? Can you pay my telephone bills? Can you pay my automo-bills? 'Cause they all showed up while I was traveling and demand to be paid right now, right this very second.

I am not poor, mind you. I have been remarkably blessed. I am not poor by any standard of living in human history. I am simply trying to figure out how the heck I'm going to get my car insurance bill paid without the insurance company grabbing me by my lapels and blowing cigar smoke in my face. I love Gus dearly, I do, but he's a heck of a lot more expensive (and pleasant, to be sure) than a MetroCard.

By the way, the Sexy Scourgers of Spanish Socialism have a new URL. Go say hi.

  posted by Jessica @ 15:29 |



It's 8 a.m., I've been up for 90 minutes, London hasn't given me any work to do yet, and, wait, how much coffee did I put in that coffee-chocolate milk-regular milk combination? Whoopee!

Currently I am putting off looking at my bills. Normally I am fairly restrained, but moving blew my budget right out of the water, and then a day trip to Windsor last Saturday did it in altogether. I had no idea that Windsor Castle stands right next to Windsor Shopping Mall That Preys on Heretofore Restrained American Tourists.

And I have to buy a wedding present. Correction: I get to buy a wedding present. As far as I'm concerned buying the present for this particular wedding is a rare privilege. Hence the sorting of bills, so I can buy the wedding present in relative mental peace.

  posted by Jessica @ 08:00 |


From an interview with Eddie Vedder published by The Onion A.V. Club:

At this point, we've got the power to destroy human life, and we're kind of cavalier about it, and it's gotten to the point where we've trivialized it into "Showdown Against Iraq" or "Showdown In Iraq," as if it's the O.K. Corral and George W.'s got the below-the-waist belt buckled on, and he's gonna quick-draw somebody . . . I've found it helpful to follow the money, and it starts becoming clearer . . . like General Electric owns this company, and they make bombs, and they're pro-war. Okay, that seems to make sense.

Sigh. I don't think Eddie Vedder is a stupid man, but it's bizarre to hear someone talk about the current potential actions against Iraq without mentioning September 11th at all. Plenty of people (Tom Tomorrow and Will Saletan, for instance) have made the case that stopping Saddam has nothing to do with stopping al-Qaeda, but that's a much more respectable line of argument than accusing Bush et al. of making this conflict up out of whole cloth.

I'm sure somebody has Fisked Vedder by now, and I hope they had a good time of it. At this point I've come to believe that contempt only gets you so far; after a while it becomes wearying, predictable, and most of all unhelpful. Color me thoroughly unimpressed, still, by Chambliss, but I did what I could (as opposed to the governor's race, where I'm kicking myself for voting Libertarian, despite being not all that fond of King Roy) and the people have spoken and now he's my senator and I'll cope. I'm not particularly upset about the Republicans taking control, because one of two things will happen: they'll do well, and we'll all benefit, or they'll do poorly, and Bush will pay the price in 2004. After a while it becomes, well, we have to work together somehow, don't we?

Again, maybe this is why I toil in blogscurity.

But back to my point -- I don't know how to respond to a conviction that Jeff Immelt wants this war to boost fourth-quarter numbers, any more than I do to the people who swear that the Confederate flag is a memorial to states' rights issues. (Roy Barnes thought he knew how to respond, and look how much longer he's going to be governor.) But some sort of response -- that's not automatic dismissal -- is necessary. Dismissal is easy. Fisking Eddie Vedder is easier than to examine why a man who's been a part of an extremely successful business operation, and dealt with legal and political aspects of current business practices, has come to the conclusion that our main enemy is not Saddam or al-Qaeda but General Electric.

  posted by Jessica @ 13:39 |



I am very, very, very tired. The crown on my head is heavy, for earlier tonight I was officially named Worst Election Predictor Ever. Because never in 3,000 years would I have predicted that Roy Barnes would concede before Don Siegelman. Siegelman doesn't even have enough evidence to concede yet. Oh, and the person who said "I think Hodges is going to pull it out. I don't know why, I just do"? That was me. Yeah. I'll do y'all a favor: next spring I'll post my projected Oscar winners and my Final Four picks, and then you can know which actors and teams to avoid.

I still don't see anything compelling about Chambliss.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go to work. Despite being very, very tired, and very, very wrong.

  posted by Jessica @ 01:03 |


So I'm back at home, after two weeks traveling (hence the strange posting schedule).

Since I hope to be doing election-related work for my actual employer today, I probably won't be posting much. The Daily Pundit has a list of blogs covering elections in the bloggers' respective states; not on the list, but still deserving your attention, are this Georgia blog and, of course, Wyeth the South Carolina Blogger.

For what it's worth, Georgia's new electronic voting machines were pretty easy to use, and I didn't see anyone having trouble where I voted. And it's been raining all day, which does not bode well for Max Cleland. He got my vote, though -- I haven't seen anything compelling in Chambliss, and that a vote-for-Cleland-is-a-vote-for-Osama ad? Too tacky.

  posted by Jessica @ 13:37 |

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