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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The WeatherPixie

The WeatherPixie


 

I didn't see The Fellowship of the Ring in the theater; some friends of mine convinced me to see their extended version DVD before making up my mind about seeing The Two Towers. Not until I'd seen it (and enjoyed it greatly) could I appreciate how brilliant the Very Secret Diaries are. Excerpt from Legolas's diary: Am definitely prettiest member of the Fellowship. Go me!

Also, while it's late and I'm writing random pop-culture-related nuggets: The opening theme from Revolutionary Girl Utena kicks all kinds of J-pop butt. I figured if I was going to have a character who adored the series, I should actually watch it, and now -- put it this way: for sword-filled teenage angsty Japanese animated stories playing with sexual identities and the end of the world, it beats the pants off the opening sword fight between Squall and Seifer in Final Fantasy 8.

Yes, I am a geek. Back to the book. Or bed. Let go of me / Take my revolution. Hee!



  posted by Jessica @ 01:51 |


30.12.02  

 

Back from Dallas. Friday night I drove from Ruston, Louisiana, to Atlanta with two stops, one of them for Waffle House coffee. My parents used to take long driving trips with us in the back seat -- so somewhere in Alabama, sometime around 4 a.m., with the boy snoozing and the Waffle House coffee and almost no one on the road except us and a few truckers, I felt that I had crossed some threshhold into adulthood.

I've got the next couple days off from work. Can I finish the third draft? We'll see.



  posted by Jessica @ 14:20 |


29.12.02  

 

So now you all know the truth. I am actually Anna Beth's second head. ("WriterGirl" was the name I used to use at the old forum and elsewhere.) Oh, and AB? Was drunk. But still sexy. And she sings a mean "Folsom Prison Blues."

It was a lovely wedding, lovely enough to make us forget the rest of the day, which is impressive considering the day started with a speeding ticket for going 94 on I-285 at 8 a.m. (Not my speeding ticket. All my tickets so far have been for failure to yield.) And Pam and Anna Beth were every bit as cute bridesmaids as the pictures suggest, and The Queen of Winter and her groom, the Meat of Cheese (long story), were even cuter. And they seemed happy -- all the rest of it, the reception and the good food and the copious alcohol -- was just a big bonus for us; I think Rhodes Hall could've burned to the ground and Al and Chris wouldn't have noticed.

Anyway. I will probably not be blogging much next week; the boy and I will be driving to Dallas -- yes, driving, thank you, mainly to avoid the stress of the airport and to be able to control where we go and when. We don't know when we're leaving, we don't know where we're staying, Gus needs his oil changed, I haven't bought half the presents yet, Gus also needs gas, I need to get cash from First Small Aggravating Bank, and . . . and . . .

But hey. Two good people are happily married. Reason has the scoop on Woodrow Wilson, Racist President. I hope everyone has a happy and safe time until the new year.



  posted by Jessica @ 17:02 |


21.12.02  

 

Pretend you have relatives in Iraq -- your father's brother and his family, or your grandparents' relatives. Pretend you have this entire branch of the family in Iraq that you haven't been able to contact that often in the last thirty years or so, but you still care deeply about and worry about. You know they're probably not doing well; you regard the mad dictator who rules their lives with anger and fear; you wish there was something you could do; but you're afraid that if the United States marches into Iraq, you'll never see your family again.

Now pretend that of your various friends and acquaintances, at least half -- maybe more -- are in a similar situation. Every so often you talk about your relatives in Iraq. One of your friends managed to bring her long-lost uncle out of Iraq, and everyone celebrates. Another friend's mother, a woman you've known since you were a child, receives word that her sister has died in Iraq, and you weep for her.

So you think about Iraq. What happens if the United States invades Iraq? The military forces have no incentive to make the distinction between your family, good people all around, and Saddam's henchmen. In fact, they probably have a decent incentive not to try. So maybe Saddam goes or maybe he doesn't, or maybe al-Qaeda gets crippled or maybe it doesn't; the odds of your family suffering are a lot greater than the odds of Saddam getting hurt. So what's the point? Maybe there's another route.

Come to think of it, you're probably not happy with the oil blockade. Yeah, you know Saddam can't be allowed to trade freely, that he needs to be punished; but he's not the one being punished, is he? He has all the medical care he wants. It's your second cousin with asthma who suffers a hell of a lot more than Saddam does. Can't there be a way to deal with Saddam that allows your second cousin to, oh, breathe?

Meanwhile, there are all these people who talk so jovially about attacking Saddam, and you just want to shout at them that it's not that simple, that innocent lives that you care about are at stake, and all the logic in the world can't talk you out of caring for your family.

Now that you've finished rolling your eyes and telling me to get the hell off my high horse, let me explain: this isn't to debate the Iraq invasion, but to give you an idea of where the South Koreans are coming from. We look at North Korea and see a dangerous, all-powerful madman juggling nukes. They look at North Korea and see their families. It's a very different mindset, and anyone who tries to compare South Korea to France and Germany in its "ingratitude" to the US (as someone did commenting on Pej's blog, which is what inspired this post) is missing that.

Another exercise: suppose two blockbuster movies were to come out. In one movie, Harrison Ford plays an Iraqi-sponsored terrorist who, in the midst of trying to blow up Yankee Stadium, gets to make a speech about how the Iraqi people have been horribly mistreated, and how he'd rather kill Saddam and George Bush than let the situation go on. In the other, Tom Hanks plays an Iraqi soldier who asserts that he loves his country, he doesn't care how misguided the leader or the political system is, and he'd rather die than defect. In both cases, the characters draw your sympathy. Both movies are box-office smashes, far more than The Two Towers. Again, this isn't to make fun of Hollywood leftists; for Ford and Hanks, substitute Choi Min-sik in Shiri and Song Kang-ho in Joint Security Area, both of which are excellent movies. But North Korea isn't "the enemy" in either of them. The North-South divide is more a tragedy than a threat. And the South Korean movie-going populace apparently agrees with, or is willing to listen to in box-office-record-breaking numbers, that message. (Darcy Paquet's site has box-office numbers, for those of you raising an eyebrow.)

North Korea is not Iraq, not because Kim isn't dangerous or delusional, not because North Korea's Communism is any less repugnant than Iraq's Baathist blood-clad dictatorship, but because South Korea isn't buying what the United States is selling. (This article, which Pej linked to, gives a summary of the immediate problems between South Korea and the United States but doesn't provide what I think is the necessary background, i.e. South Korea's very ambivalent attitude towards North Korea.) And this isn't France or Germany making anti-American noise; these are the people at whom the nukes might well be aimed. You might call it cowardly and delusional; I call it a disagreement that needs to be taken seriously, not answered with more bullying, especially now that President Roh seems likely to continue a policy of engagement.

I could be wrong. But I suspect in the coming days there's going to be a lot of, "Oh, South Korea, they're ungrateful just like the French and the Kuwaitis." I don't think that's the case, and I think to proceed with that mindset only damages relations with South Korea (and possibly Japan -- I still think Junichiro Koizumi, ineffectual as he's been domestically, may actually be the straw stirring the drink here) and gives Kim Jong-il a lot more wiggle room to extort, cajole, and bribe.

Normally I'm just being vain when I think I deserve more hits than I get. But I do think this argument needs to be linked and heard before the meme of "cowardly South Korea" gets too far around the conservative portion of the blogosphere.



  posted by Jessica @ 14:05 |


19.12.02  

 

For those of you still trying to solve the mystery that is Kaus, today's column is chock full of information. We find out his car (a 1991 Nissan 300ZX); that he tried to pick up a "babe" "in town from New York" and failed (funny, I thought Scott just visited Brooke, not the other way around); that he still Likes Sex, much to the dismay of his editor; and, oh yes, he thinks cars should be built "in the shapes of beautiful women, or men." In the eminently respectable guise of test-driving red-blooded American cars, Kaus is letting us see his inner pansexual. I'd make a joke about "flame surfacing" here, but . . . no. Poor horny Kaus. No wonder he's upset that the new BMWs are ugly. Surely there's a beautiful woman or man out there eager to hear sweet nothings about the Feiler Faster Principle.

I'm being silly. Omar is frightened and angry, and if you read him regularly you know he's usually more likely to be funny and silly, so if he's admitting to being frightened and angry something must be terribly wrong:

And on a larger scale, I'm disgusted and sad with the things I'm reading, the way we act and are perceived as a people. We bribe other countries to go along with our absurd overtures of war against one country while cordially treating another country that seems to be a much bigger threat. North Korea is standing in the middle of the street saying, "Nuclear weapons? Hell, yeah we're working on them! You want some of this?" And the U.S. says, "Oh yeah, let's deal diplomatically with those guys. After all, there's no oil there we can target." Disgusting. How are other countries supposed to not hate us when we seem to create special rules for ourselves, when we bully and bribe, shuck and jibe, dance to the consciousless dollar? I believe a lot of the movement to bring down capitalism is pure bullshit, but when our own government acts with the foresight of Mr. Moneybags in a no-rules game of Speed Monopoly, you start to wonder if maybe those WTO protesters don't have a point.

As best I see it, the United States isn't taking the lead on dealing with North Korea because it doesn't have to. South Korea has the acknowledged right to set the tone, and its response to North Korea's "You want some of this!" has historically been not "Bring it!" but "Oh, fuck. Can we get someone to calm North Korea down? Because fighting? Not a good thing." That might change depending on how the presidential election on the 19th goes. If the new president takes a harder line, the US will probably (cautiously) back him up; if he wants to continue Kim Dae-jung's "sunshine policy," then he'll probably have Koizumi helping him out.

(Anyone else wonder if North Korea is suddenly baring all its secrets because Koizumi went down and offered some sweet deals? Hmmm.)

Besides, the US is particularly unpopular in South Korea right now; the current Far Eastern Economic Review has a (under its registration barrier) good pre-election-roundup article, explaining how, yet again, American servicemen misbehaving has made all of the US look bad. We're worse than the Catholic Church in not recognizing the damage done when Aerican soldiers get accused of taking advantage of their surroundings. So it does make some sense for Bush, "axis of evil" declarations notwithstanding, to stay a bit quieter and let Russia and China take the lead in telling Kim Jong-il to play nice.

Of course, that doesn't answer the reverse question: if we're willing to look at the big picture, and the neighbors' interests, in not matching North Korea bellicose statement for bellicose statement, why are we rushing headlong towards war with Iraq? And it seems to me to be a question that gets harder to answer with each passing week. Jeffrey Goldberg's New Yorker article did a lot to convince me of how dangerous Saddam can be, but Jeffrey Goldberg should not be the one convincing us all that removing Saddam will lessen the chances of another September 11th, that a second Gulf war will leave behind a tame Iraq, a poised-for-regime-change Iran, a chastened Syria, a disemboweled al-Qaeda, and if any of the other belligerent Middle East nations decide they'd rather be on our good side, that's icing. I'm not sure I see that happening. It's possible that all the talk about war with Iraq will turn out to be exactly that, just talk -- a distraction, while shadowy operatives make shadowy moves to destroy al-Qaeda. But I'm not sure I see an invasion of Iraq as the first democracy domino.

I don't know. The tide is turning, I think -- to borrow Omar's metaphor. The blogosphere, or what I see of it, remains firmly pro-war, and it's easy to get into a habit of reassuring and reinforcing each other; but I wonder if the rest of the country isn't feeling more like Omar. I do hope, if we do go into Iraq, that Bush gets on the air -- in the State of the Union speech, or any other time -- and makes the case.



  posted by Jessica @ 18:19 |


16.12.02  

 

I'm slightly amused, in L'affaire Lott, to see conservatives -- specifically, the National Review -- say things like, "We're not saying he's a racist; we're saying he's a bad party leader." The man hangs out with segregationists, supported Bob Jones University's prohibition of interracial dating, and says he's proud Mississippi voted for Strom Thurmond in 1948 -- it that doesn't make him a racist, what, exactly, does? If I got to pick who's a racist and who's not, I'd have a tough time deciding between him and, say, Mugabe, but I'd definitely pick him over my boyfriend's brother's various dope-smoking friends who tell far more n-word jokes than they should but don't give two thoughts to the high position of Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice.

I've been working on a completely unrelated story this week, and only halfheartedly following the Lott case. What's interesting to me is how it's largely been a debate between the conservatives who are genuinely angry (Andrew Sullivan) and those who, while annoyed at Lott for sticking his foot so grotesquely in his mouth, are madder at the liberals attacking him (William F. Buckley -- as best I can tell, at any rate -- and, apparently, many people who write to National Review Online).

(Speaking of that last one, anyone who would speak of "fake anger over racial profiling" is either living in a dream world or has never, not once in his or her life, been falsely accused of a crime. I don't think there's a faster way to get a person's dander up than to accuse him of something he didn't do, especially for reasons that don't seem to make sense to him; it shakes his faith in an orderly world. Anger over being a victim or potential victim of racial profiling, whatever the cause, almost certainly isn't "fake.")

Not being a Republican or a Mississippian, I don't really have a dog in this fight. I hope Lott is forced to resign, mainly because if he isn't, Bush will look like a complete hypocrite; and considering what might happen in the last year, I don't want to feel he's a hypocrite. I know a lot of people already do (and a thief, and a corporate hack, and a dangerous cowboy). But I don't, and I don't want to.



  posted by Jessica @ 19:19 |


13.12.02  

 

It seems lately Mr. Douglas has been corresponding wittily with Heather Havrilesky, proving once again that he is a stronger person than I am. Given the chance to talk, even via email, to Heather Havrilesky, I'd probably alternate between open-mouthed silence and "I'll make you coffee! I'll leave my boyfriend! I'll move to LA for you! I'll give you backrubs and cluck with sympathy when you feel moody, and then give you the chance to hurl pottery at my head!"

Seriously. Even if she isn't as crazy about the Powerpuff Girls as I am.

In other news, I'm having one of those weeks when I'm five years old again, wondering what I'll be when I grow up. "Writer" only cuts it so far. Have you ever been in a roomful of writers? One could argue that the Web is a roomful of writers. Which proves my point. I ought to be concerned with something other than the sound of my own voice.

Sometimes I want to get an MBA. Sometimes I think about a master's in urban studies. Sometimes I want to chuck it all and go back to writing about Chinese nationalism. Or quit and start jessicawritesanovel.com, in which you all make generous donations so that the front page can say, "The Adventures of Chloë and Pete was brought to you by . . . " Sometimes I want to be Henry Jenkins, who gets to study fandom and explain What It All Means. Maybe . . .

Oh my gosh! Tim Burke is blogging! Tim Burke is blogging! Oh, y'all have no idea how much that rocks. I wanted him to start a blog ages ago. Tim Burke co-taught my first history class at Swarthmore, my first semester, and is largely responsible (namely, a conversation on the steps of Parrish one night, when I was absolutely thrilled that a professor was listening to me and drawing out my ideas) for my becoming a history major. (Two of his colleagues, Pieter Judson and Lillian Li, are largely responsible for encouraging me once I got there -- Professor Li especially. But I digress.) Read his Last Collection speech, and you'll see. He rocks. He absolutely does. Go email him and tell him I sent you, and add him to your links list.

I have work to do now, but -- yay! Tim Burke!



  posted by Jessica @ 10:48 |



 

In a filking mood -- to the tune of "Duke of Earl":

As the Party flunkies bow,
Nothing can stop me -- I'm Hu Jintao.
And you won't call me Mao
You'll know my name, or call me Chairman
'Cause I, I'm gonna rule China!
Zeng Qinghong can fuck himself!
For I am Hu Jintao!
Wow, wow, wow, wow . . .



  posted by Jessica @ 13:04 |


11.12.02  

 

Either RCW's human resources department, or my old gym, owes me $280. Probably each will blame the other. I spent half of last night alternating between feeling sick that I hadn't remembered to cancel it (and thus the lost $280 was my fault) and realizing that I was letting money have far too great an influence over my psyche. Granted, $280 (that I won't see back before 2003, if ever), but my peace of mind shouldn't be given away so cheaply.

(I had remembered to cancel it.)

Speaking of money, I just had the following phone conversation:

Young-Sounding Female Telephone Solicitor: Hi, I'm ___ and I wanted to let you know that MCI has a free month of long distance to offer you, a really good deal.
Me: Thank you, I'm not interested.
YSFTS: Do you know how much you're paying in long distance fees?
Me: Yes, and I'm not interested in anything MCI has to offer.
YSFTS: How much are you paying?
Me: (sighs) 2.9 cents a minute domestically, 3.9 cents internationally.
YSFTS: Oh my God. You use a calling card, don't you?
Me: No, I have an online carrier.
YSFTS: I've heard about those. Which one is it?
Me: Onesuite.com.
YSFTS: (after she asks me to spell it) Yeah, somebody at work told me about that and my computer didn't work that day and then I just forgot about it. Thanks for telling me! Have a good day!

I thought that was funny.

In other news, I got to meet Alton Brown on Saturday, having found out about his signing at the Buckhead Borders just in time. Of all the Borders stores I've been to since they converted from modest chain to megachain (anyone remember those old bookmarks with the voluptuous woman in the hoop skirt reading lazily on her porch? Ah, someone does!) the Buckhead one is my favorite after the cute wood-paneled one in Stamford, Connecticut. And Alton! Alton (1) wore a pocket watch, (2) looks hot in a black turtleneck (and pretty much exactly as you see him on Good Eats. Somehow his wife, who is also his producer, has found the one camera in America that doesn't add ten pounds), (3), said "Hi, I'm Alton," to every single person who introduced him- or herself. I name-dropped Really Cool Weekly. He scribbled "May the food be with you" in my copy of I'm Just Here for the Food. I was a happy, happy girl.

Did I mention Greg Greene sent me a nifty email? Even though I hope he forgives me in advance for the day I slip and call him "Graham." He gets one free pass at calling me "Jennifer."

Finally, on Anne Lamott: She's afraid people will call her a "phony." That's not the problem -- she oozes sincerity. She couldn't be more sincere if she tried. And I loved Bird by Bird partly for its sincerity, her confidence in her own words. The problem is she is also absolutely confident in her condescension, her sureness that all the correct-thinking (as opposed to right-thinking) people live in San Francisco and can't stand Bush, and everyone else has merely to be blessed by her New York Times-bestseller-list-sober-boomer presence. I'm still not entirely convinced that an attack on Iraq is going to decrease dictator-sponsored terrorism, or that it will actually make things better in Iraq but not worse. But I'm willing to consider the opposite view long enough to be rendered stupid, apparently, in Anne Lamott's eyes.

Maybe she was just afraid of being photographed badly. The New York Times's new motto: "All the Pictures of Christopher Hitchens Looking Like a Desperate Drunk in a Bar That Are Fit to Print." Oh, wait -- that's Paul Berman! Paul Berman emailed me once! In my old journal I reviewed his New Republic article on Joschka Fischer, which I still highly recommend, and he wrote me about it. I was so stunned I'm not even sure I remembered to reply. Email me again, Paul Berman! And the rest of you, go read his piece.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:18 |


10.12.02  

 

Well, isn't this a Bad News Day. Or I should say: a Bad News Day within the context of my personal world, since there have been, thank goodness, no terrorist attacks yet anywhere. So a very limited Bad News Day. But still.

First, I found out today that Tom Glavine, my secret boyfriend since I was first following baseball and the only wins the Braves could count on was him pitching against the Dodgers, has re-signed . . . with the Mets. All you old-timers who mourned when the baseball player of your choice failed to finish his career with one team can give me pats of sympathy now. I don't know what I'm going to do next spring: root for my hometown team, still in the grip of AOL Time Warner? Root for my secret boyfriend of such long standing . . . on the Mets? The Mets? Pack it all in and declare I don't care about any baseball team save the Cyclones? Goddamn.

Then the real bad news came: the deaths of Glenn Quinn, who played Doyle on Angel (and Becky's husband on Roseanne), and William Henson, who directed animation for The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, this week. Henson was 78, so your first reaction might be, "When it's time to go," but nobody should have to die hours after a nasty car crash. And Glenn Quinn was most specifically not 78. There were some of us who hoped against hope that Doyle would come back and Angel would recapture the oddly tasty film-noir flavor of its first season; and even if Quinn hadn't been a good actor . . . just damn.

I went to read Lileks for the first time in a while, hoping he'd have happy dog-and-baby stories. It's mostly about Iraq.

I think I'm going to stay offline today. There's very little potential for good news, and so much for bad news.



  posted by Jessica @ 09:27 |


6.12.02  

 

I meant it about the cards, people. Write me. Don't make the baby Gus cry. He's fewer than 1,800 miles from his 90,000 mile checkup and I fear for his shocks as it is. Plus there's a scheme afoot for him to accompany my boyfriend and me to Dallas for Christmas celebrations. You do want me to get to Dallas and back safely, right? Okay. We're good, then.

The New Criterion is getting into the catty book review business, apparently, with their review of You Shall Know Our Velocity. I think that book's ratio of catty reviews to copies sold is running at about 16:1 at this point -- and that's not a commentary on its sales.

And finally,

Guys with a fondness
For haikus? Quite sexy. See:
Easterbrook and Paul.



  posted by Jessica @ 19:25 |


3.12.02  

 

Damn. A girl goes away for a while (or should have) and she gets a permalink from Dr. Frank and a prominent permalink from the Sexy Scourgers. And me being so crappy with the posting lately. I'm flattered.

There's little new to report, other than the third draft -- which is officially a full-on project in its own right -- is 43 pages long. 43 pages of progress is something. No, 45. Single space. Go me.

And I got to see Dave over the weekend, which was good fun.

And "Pardesi Pardesi" is a beautiful song, if you listen to it as a song, rather than as part of a movie which tempts you to shout at the screen: "It's Aamir Khan! It's Aamir Khan! The man can melt glaciers! Go almost kiss him already!" (From what I've seen of Lagaan, it doesn't do him justice.)

And . . . and? I've been consciously trying not to surf too much, which means fewer things for me to react to. Even the latest catty New Republic review isn't all that and a bag of chips, as Jessa Crispin noted. It's James Wolcott reviewing Jonathan Franzen's latest essay collection, but in this particular case it's way, way, way too obvious that Wolcott's bitter that The Corrections did so well and The Catsitters, his own novel, sank like a tepidly-reviewed stone.

There is one thing I should add. The lovely Hannah Beth is exchanging cards with her notify list for the second year running. I'm making my holiday card (I haven't decided yet whether they're actually going to be Christmas cards or not -- obviously I'm a bit late for Hanukkah cards) list this week, but I realized after she made her announcement that I might have picked up some new readers in moving from Diaryland to this blog.

So: here's the deal. If you want a card from me, send me your address. International addresses are no big deal. If you prefer not to give out your snail mail address, give me an email address I can send an online card to. If you want my address in return, ask for it. If we exchanged cards last year and your address has changed, let me know that too.



  posted by Jessica @ 13:29 |


2.12.02  
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