Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Boys Welcome

Spotted in San Francisco. Shout out to the girls at the Girls.

Sent by "Jay," (not his fake name).

please also note apostrophe placement. perfect.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

hey, that's new!

Holy Mother of Obsession - I have a way to categorize my posts!

And I started working on that, but
1) this will be much simpler with a mouse and
2) the battery is dying

But dig the new site.

Blogger has been after me to upgrade for some time, and finally when I got tired of failed photo uploads, I thought, all right I'll switch.

Let me know what you think. Naturally, I am mostly excited about the categorizations, but I'll pretend they are there for you. So if you prefer the Rants, say, to the Tributes, you can go right to them. I am not finished yet (hundred or so to go, actually), but I did the most recent few months, just for the effect of it.

Enjoy. I encourage you to visit the other blogs I plug. They pass a lunch hour as well as mine.
And remember: comments build community.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Don't stand by. We could be here a while.

ICA Redux

(note to self: blog post on the word redux and how obnoxious it is)

Last time I visited our city's Institute of Contemporary Art, I walked away with this story, so I can place that in time as...a long time ago. It was a Yoko Ono exhibit which featured a piece which invited us (the viewers) to add a nail to a board -- thereby becoming part of the art, you see. Pete and I have laughed about this for "yeez," as we say.

In an attempt to revitalize the south waterfront, and give the art somewhere to breathe, the City has made the investment in a beautiful new ICA, full of the same ridiculous art.

SJL and I decided we had best make this pilgrimage together, since we both detest contemporary art, and we could view it openly and safely, then answer all future invitations with, "Oh, I already went. You should really go, though, it's beautiful."

I'll spare you how cold a day it was, how fiercely windy it always is on the water, and also the description of the new Courthouse subway stop, which is breathtakingly clean, and eerily empty on a Sunday. I spare you all that because we want to get right to heart of this story, and let it be a lesson to you new parents out there.

The museum used to be in a shotgun building wedged between the former police precinct turned restaurant, and a firehouse still firehouse on a busy Back Bay corner with no parking and less signage. There was barely room for the Mapplethorpe protesters! Oh, if they could see the old girl now.

In its excitement to welcome everyone to its new home, the ICA has a "Children Under 17 FREE" policy that I predict, based on what we witnessed, ends by Presidents' Day. In fact, I predict that instead of Free, they will make you leave a security deposit.

Let's pause (for dramatic effect) and wonder together why you would bring a child to view contemporary art
Exhibits A
and C

except it is free and a very cold day. And the Children's Museum is closed until April.

SLG and I enter the first gallery and begin to practice our useful phrases:
- well I could have done that.
- pffft.
- What? Oh. I get it.
- whatever

You must now study the image above, which is displayed on a platform on the floor just inside the "Permanent Collection"
Just as I am saying, "Now this is the kind of thing one can appreciate, even if you don't like it," we hear the elevator {{Ding}} and a 3 year-old boy comes tearing out, into the gallery, and right on top of the piece. This wool... sculpture (?) is 12 feet in diameter, and he is sitting right in the center square of it, proudly yelling "Mommy!"

Later, we thought, that should be a performance piece -- every half hour or so they should re-enact it, because it certainly drew a crowd. People audibly gasped, and the docent looked at S and me like it might be our child, but the pale, panic-stricken, about-to-be sick woman the child was beaming at was a dead giveaway.

She scooped him up and faded into another gallery while the docent tended to the wounded baby bird that was now Pom Pom City. (By the way, ICA, if you have not confessed this incident to the artist, she has just now googled herself and the jig is up.) He radioed the Security Guards ("we live for this!") and they quickly huddled to decide what to do.

Meanwhile, as another patron was quick to report, Boy Let Loose in Museum had already knocked this over and was running his toy car along the gallery wall.

This is what your teacher used to call "ruining it for the rest of us."

We did not actually witness the heave-ho. Not that I wish any ill will on a poor family who clearly was trying to introduce a little cultural field trip into little Nicky's repertoire . I do recommend that you try, "Nicky! Nicky, no! No-no!" in the grocery store before you expose him to an art museum.

But then, to be fair to Nicky, I might have moved this to the basement if it didn't have a gallery note.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Inside the stamp lobby

© 2006 USPS. All Rights Reserved.
(USPS says I have to put that there.)

The 2007 stamp catalog is out. The good news is that outside of this sad plug for good citizenship, there is not a stamp commemorating the Patriot Act, Strom Thurmond, or abstinence. The administration has not yet figured out how to break into the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee to win hearts and minds.

For a real measure of obscure public authority, look to 2 bodies: the CSAC and the MPAA. (More on them some other time. But rent this.)

The 2007 Commemorative Stamp catalog has been released by the US Postal Service, and it is riveting reading. On "Jury Duty," (summer release)
"By showing a diverse group of twelve representative jurors in silhouette, art director Carl T. Herrman and stamp designer Lance Hidy emphasize that under the U.S. Constitution, the American jury system guarantees citizens the right to a trial by a jury of their peers."
They are diverse - meaning some of them are fat. And one is clearly a woman, because she has long hair (smartly but recklessly pulled back, so as not to distract her from her "essential obligation.")

I suppose if you were going to illustrate "jury duty," this as sensible an approach as any. I wonder how long the committee debated 12-member vs. Grand Jury. Should we show the alternates? The stamp jury voting on the jury stamp.... delicious.

Who's on the committee?
1 former postmaster
1 congressional staffer
5 graphic designers
1 business magnate
1 professional athlete
2 writers
the director of the AFI (explains some recent output)
1 retired academic

and get this:
Joan Mondale
Karl Malden
and Skip Gates. who knew?

I get to call Dr Gates "Skip," because I am deeply in love with him, and if he would just meet me he would feel the same, and we would be married by Peter Gomes and Cornel West would rap at our reception.

What does the stamp committee do?
Only review about 50,000 annual reccommendations that actually qualify for discussion, and choose the roster 3 years in advance.

What's that mean?
There are a lot of rules, most of which answer "what" can be on a stamp and "when."
The USPS prefers to release commemoratives that truly commemorate something, so your nomination will likely have to wait for an anniversary.

Living people may not be commemorated. This keeps them from doing something dastardly in life after they have been commemorated. It does not prevent them from having done so beforehand. to wit.

Your nomination must be somehow "American," and national. Meaning, your town's state football championship won't merit, but "Pop" Warner does. (What's with that kid? He looks like an afterthought.)

The committee says they do not endorse religious institutions, except of course when they do -- with holiday stamps. You're aware that there are 2 sets of Christmas stamps, 1 set for people who like Christmas cards unsullied by divine infants. 2007's secular version looks a little creepy to me. I think because they make me picture the whole sweater.

still © 2006 USPS. All Rights Reserved.

From the catalog,

"The stamp images include a dignified stag, a snow-dappled evergreen tree, a perky snowman sporting a top hat, and a whimsical teddy bear."

And a healthy dose of creative adjectives!

I will leave you with these significant Postal advances in our very own lifetime.

1963 - ZIP codes. Yaaay, Zippy!

1971 - USPS gets off the government dole

1974 - self-adhesion

1983 - ZIP plus 4. But we don't know why

1997 - (not gov...not org)

Did You Know?

When the million-dollar Hope Diamond was donated to the Smithsonian Institution, it was mailed from New York City to Washington, D.C., in a brown paper parcel. (fragile, liquid, perishable, or potentially hazardous?)

Be nice to the post office. Because you wouldn't like them when they're angry.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

gam zeh ya’avor

You know what's funny about a blog?
The blogger goes through a few phases and I have entered a new one.

First we keep even the fact of our blogging a big secret. It's just a diary we store in a box we can't actually see. We invent personae and cleverly disguise whatever we are talking about, even though no one is reading it because we haven't told anyone about it.

After a time, we let a few people in, and discourse goes in one of a few directions (sometimes overlapping): family holiday letter-style, observational comedy, political rants, work-is-stupid. And we churn out posts, and we start to get excited about this outlet for the things that are on our minds.

Then we start to meet strangers, and their blogs, and that is cool, and also wierd, as the first realization that people we don't know are listening to what's on our minds.

Eventually, we start to think, "I should have another blog where I can write the things that I am thinking about that I don't want people to know I am thinking about."

Here's my new phase: I am thinking about a lot of things that I can't post about -- not because of my privacy but because of yours. Because you know the people who read this blog and I would be posting your recognizable business, not mine. But it is what is on my mind.

I have mostly been thinking about you.

I've been thinking about these challenges you are going through, and the recent talk we had about them. I am always touched by your confidence, and I try to protect it. I am not always sure when this is a thing we talk about, and when I need to be the someone you can be with without having to talk about it . I want to ask how it's going, without making you feel I have labeled you a person who is struggling through something.

God knows we are all struggling through something.

I do pray about your struggle, and I hope that doesn't freak you out to know. I ask for wisdom for me, to carry the responsibility you have given me, and for strength and special care for you.

I don't say much when you talk, and I worry that you think I'm not listening. I don't offer back, "that's like the time I..." and I worry that you think I don't empathize. I don't give advice, and I worry that you think I am not invested in solving your dilemma.

So here's the truth. The truth is I figure it is hard enough to spill your guts without being interrupted; I believe we are talking about you, not me; and advice is not mine to give. You and I don't move through the world in the same way. What I would do, or what I have done, is probably not what you would do. And I have no idea what you should do.

But I am listening. I do empathize. And I am invested in your happiness.
And when I say "this too shall pass," it does not, in fact, mean "good luck with that," or "sucks to be you." It is meant to remind us both that we have been here before and we will be here again. By the grace of God, we'll both be stronger the next time.

Much love to you. Call me.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Dear Lost,

I am sorry to have to tell you this this way, but I am tired of you. I have only watched the first season, and I am already tired of you.

Oh, you were fresh for a while. I enjoyed the "mystery," even forgave you for stealing my idea. That opening pilot was a bang-up start, and the production values of those flashbacks! All the obvious Abraham/Isaac father/son sacrifices, Jack entombed only to rise again (!). What a thoughtfully conceived narrative thread, I thought, but I have given you a full first season -- 7 discs, 22 episodes, including commentary tracks and other nonsense, but I am really finished.

Finished with unexplained monsters -- it's a polar bear! no, some kind of raptor! OOh! a smoke creature... You can just hear the writers pulling their over-caffeinated all nighter.

Finished with Kate saying, "I'm coming with you! I'm carrying the dynamite!" Has there been a bigger Me-Too since Anybody's in West Side Story?

Finished with Sawyer and his Bennett Cerf's Book of Nicknames and Comebacks.

Finished with hair that doesn't grow, even though that baby appears to be 6 months old.

Finished with the dire absolutes that tend to permeate fantasy/science-fiction and bore me to tears: "It's the only way! If we want to avoid the storm, we have to leave right now! Don't you see I have no choice?! You're the only one who can do it!"
All of which I translate as, "we couldn't think of another idea."

Finished with an island no one has ever heard of, despite people wrecking onto it every 20 miles or so.

Finished with the Gilligan's Island-caliber building of a baby cradle -- with filigree! -- and an entire ship out of aged bamboo. Green bamboo... I might have bought, except there is no reason why Michael the urban cartoonist knows how to build a boat.

Although.... blowing up the science teacher did cause me to say "oh s**t," out loud in my home like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction.
And all of the flashbacks have been attention-getters.
And the acting is much better than the lines they are given to say.
And if you don't watch them all at once, it does have a way of pulling you back in.

But if you do watch a bunch in a string, you will want to shoot Claire yourself, just to make her stop shouting "My BIGH-bee!"
And when the fishing trawler pulled alongside the raft on the high seas, I just threw it in.

I have been warned, you see, by fans much greater than I, that the current season has gone completely haywire ("sleestak," one friend calls it, which is our jump-the-shark phrase for cheap non-scary scary things that act without motivation and disappear as quickly as they appear. You'd be surprised how handy this term can be for you on a regular basis -- even in daily life) and I could stay through Season Two, but to bail after that.

I'll pass. Because here's the thing.
Isn't surviving a plane crash on an unknown island hard enough?
Isn't sorting through the human struggle for power in makeshift society conflict enough?

I'd say keep the derelict Black Rock, maybe even Rousseau -- she could still be insane and paranoid, only there is nothing there but her own isolation. Maybe she even thinks she has fabricated the plane survivors.
The 6 degrees aspect of the flashbacks is interesting; we can keep that, within reason. You've over killed the numbers already.
Secret skills of contemporary people are also fresh and surprising. (Sun knows herbal pharmacology! Jin can fish! Kate can kill a man with a dollar bill! but not Michael and the raft - I still don't buy that.)

But you lost me. I'm going back to Carnivale.