Thursday, June 30, 2005

even better than cabbage patch kids

Spammers have the best names. Just this morning, I received Viagra/mortgage/Îáíîâëåíèå offers from Chevalier Bowers, Gustavo Chavez, Durand Chia-Yu, Plums C. Buckley and Violet Esposito. So elegant. So international.

I heard once that Beverly Cleary scanned the phonebook when she needed names for her characters, but next time I’m struggling, I’m going to do the 21st century thing and check my junk mail folder.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

winkin' kitten

Sitting by my car when I left for work this morning was a small orange-and-white kitten. My first instinct was to blink and hope that, when I opened my eyes, it would be gone. Jamie and Lee-Roy just found homes for five stray kittens, and a couple of years ago I helped rescue a cocker spaniel that was nicked by an SUV, so I am familiar with the rewards and troubles of animal rescue. I knew what my second instinct would be—capture and snuggle—and I was hoping to avoid it.

This little guy/girl looked up at me with its one good eye. The other was swollen and pussy, and there was a long gash running along the side of its body. This kitten was clearly going to have a lot of tough childhood experiences to tell its therapist about someday.

The minute I made a move, it took off running—pretty damn fast for a creature with a gash and an oozy eye. First to the tool shed, then past the other parked cars in our parking area, then into the tangle of ivy that runs alongside the driveway. My neighbor’s girlfriend pulled up just about then. She said she saw the kitten dart past her, “but cats are hard,” she added. She was wearing pajamas and carrying coffee. “I hope it’s okay,” she said as she continued toward her man’s apartment. I felt like she wasn’t really hoping that hard.

I waited a little while, and poked at the ivy, but this cat already had too many street smarts to talk to strangers. I left some food and water out, and headed to work.

My neighborhood is full of strays: packs of big dogs, packs of miniature dogs, all sorts of skinny cats. It seems weird to single out one of them to save. (Have you seen Casa de los Babys? It’s a great movie about fate.) Am I hoping I can rescue this gatito because it’s little? Hurting? Long-haired? So I remind myself: It’s good to save animals, whatever the reason; turn off your too-loud brain and get out the cat carrier.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

new bhq

The summer issue of Blithe House Quarterly (http://www.blithe.com) is up online. (I edited the spring edition and am working on fall, but this issue was guest-edited by Ruthann Robson.) Check out the lovely bright yellow background and "Submit: a fantasy" by Sima Rabinowitz (http://www.blithe.com/bhq9.3/9.3.01.html), a glimpse into the often tedious and absurd world of literary submissions. If you too have ever had "a lump the size of a self-addressed stamped envelope" in your throat, you shall relate.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

the jesus shirt

Yesterday I wore a T-shirt that I purchased at Goodwill for 50 cents. It’s small and purple, with a faded logo that says, “Polar Expedition: Where kids discover Jesus’ love is cool!” The “t” in “expedition” is white, whereas the other letters are blue, so it looks like—you guessed it—a cross. There is also a small picture of a Wallace-and-Gromit-style penguin wearing a red scarf.

Now, I am not a Christian. But while I have all the predictable beefs with organized religion, I also cannot say that Jesus’ love isn’t cool. If you listen to the gospel of Thomas or my friend Alanna, he sounds very cool, in fact. I don’t want to be one of those people who dismisses all Christians as Amy Grant-listening, George W.-loving sheep. So while I bought the shirt with ironic intentions, I wear it hesitantly. I don’t want people to think I’m an Amy Grant-listening, George W.-loving Bible-thumper. But I also don’t want them to think I have anything against Jesus, because I don’t. So if asked, I’m prepared to say that I like bad puns. Polar Expedition/Jesus is cool. (You probably got that the first time.)


Of course, I’ve never been asked. I work in an office with one other person, and my only daytime outing yesterday was to Feast from the East for lunch, where the bored-looking guy at the cash register just wanted to keep the line moving as quickly as possible.

Friday, June 24, 2005

my savage love

A few years ago, Dan Savage did this great NPR piece slamming gay men who hate sissy guys. Sissy guys are great, Dan said, they kicked ass at Stonewall and offer a nice alternative to Abercrombie & Fitch hegemony. It cemented my opinion of him as someone who Gets It. Now he’s devoted a column to advice for queer teens from queer grownups (http://www.theonionavclub.com/savagelove/index.php?issue=4125). Because I was too much of a slacker to write in myself, here’s my own short list of Things I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then:

  • If you are a girl who spends most of her time pining for sissy guys, you might not just be a fag hag. You might be a lesbian. That slightly masculine, slightly feminine blurriness that’s so hot in your musical theater-lovin’ R.A. might be just as attractive in a chick.
  • Someday there will be a sitcom called Will & Grace. It will be funny for a couple of years, then it will suffocate in its own schtick for the next four or five seasons. But it will prove that that comforting sitcom shininess—that bigness, that confident coolness—are not off limits to gay folk. You may want to shun those qualities later, but it’s nice to have access first.
  • That girl on drill team who said she’d do Madonna was not hyperbolizing in order to make a point about her fandom. She’s bi, and she would do Madonna. That popular girl who wears funky hats and is really, really close to that other popular girl is a dyke. When you see her on the street in West Hollywood years later, she will still be more beautiful and popular than you.
  • Following the rules only gets you so far.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

more pros and cons of lionism

Another heartwarming lion tale (this one has a not-so-happy ending, just to warn you): http://www.awf.org/news/5225.

If you need cheering up afterward, here's a great place for banana pudding: http://www.ejsfamouspuddin.com/.

why I like lions better than humans

Humans do things like abuse prisoners, then get pissed off not at the abusers but at the senator who compared the abusers to Nazis. Humans are so reluctant to identify with the oppressor; it’s like we can do whatever we want right up to the Nazi line. We can be 99 percent Nazi, as long as we retain that one percent righteousness that allows us to proclaim how non-Nazi we are.

Humans (70 percent of ‘em in Ethiopia, apparently) do things like kidnap 12-year-old girls and force them into marriage. But there is hope, and it lies with lions. They do things like fight off kidnappers and protect 12-year-old girls until help arrives (
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8305836).

Yes, I know lions also do a lot of hunting and killing, but at least they own up to it. They’re like, “Hey, we’re lions. We gotta eat. But we’re not going to eat this 12-year-old human, because we’re not hungry, and she’s making this sad mewing noise that sounds like a lion cub, and we’re not into doing things just for the power trip of it.”

Sunday, June 19, 2005

just overheard

My neighbor to her children, "You are always making us late! That's why we never make it to goddamn church."

But I don't think it's good enough to replace the same family's number one overheard phrase: (from middle-school-aged boy to mom) "...and I hate your fat, ugly, ugly, fat boyfriend too!"

a pirate store like no other pirate store

I knew that 826 Valencia did good things for the kiddies. I knew that, in addition to running a writing center for middle and high school students, they ran a pirate supply store. But seeing an eye patch or two on 826’s website cannot compare to seeing the San Francisco store in person, which I did on Friday.

When I was a kid, I read this book about a family that lived in a creepy, leaky house beneath a huge waterfall. It was called something like The House Beneath the Waterfall. Their grandfather had been an inventor, and their basement was fully of automatons who did creepy things like hack off heads in their working automaton guillotine. The pirate supply store was more whimsical than creepy, but still, there was something about the weird/cool atmosphere—and the fact that it’s a kid-oriented store selling leather whips—that reminded me of that book.

While in SF, I also attended Intersection for the Arts’ 40th anniversary block party, just down the street from 826. The Mission District is, apparently, in the process of gentrifying, which means that for every taqueria selling cheap margaritas, there is also a trendy furniture store where I could maybe afford one decorative drawer pull. Intersection’s pretty-damn-cool block-long bash included lots of only-at-a-street-fair-in-the-Mission sights, such as a dude in tighty whiteys and a bright blue mask chalking “Dare to Bare for Peace” on the street, and people with real tattoos snaking up their arms getting fake ink at the temporary tattoo booth.

I have a complicated relationship with hipsterdom (not to mention gentrification, which would be a longer entry). I own a copy of The Hipster Handbook, which classifies and ridicules hipsters, yet sometimes I find myself scanning the handbook’s list of, say, movies that hipsters like, and thinking, “Uh-oh, didn’t see that one. Or that one. Oh—saw that one. Whew.” Let’s just say I spent much of Saturday being very conscious of my mostly-naturally-colored hair and tiny, lone tattoo.

I shared the aforementioned margaritas with my friend Mark (actually, I guess I don’t know if the margaritas were cheap, since Mark picked up the tab. If they were expensive, sorry Mark. But thanks!). He is also a convert to the blog universe, including a site called Pink Is The New Blog, a name that just about sums things up, I think. He is also so smart and sweet, one of those few people on whom I wish a life of winning lottery tickets and fresh-baked bread. Is it really un-hip to give shout-outs on one’s blog? Or should I just save such things for Friendster testimonies?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

two questions

1. To blog or not to blog?
Until about 20 minutes ago, the answer was "not," but I was inspired by my co-worker Jamie and the easiness of blogger.com. I cannot program a VCR, but I can now blog. I don't know if this will be an interesting blog or even one that I encourage people to read, but I do like the idea of being all-in-one-place in cyberspace. And most of what I've published as a fiction writer has been in online journals, so I'm going to be doing some self-promotional linking.

2. Bread and bread--huh?
People talk about "bread and roses" and "bread and circuses"--as in sustenance and art/fun, the things human beings need. I decided that if I was ever a movie star with my own production company, I would call it Bread and Bread, because bread itself can be art/fun, and 'cause it's all meta and stuff. Or something. (What can I say, I went to CalArts). Also, I am anti-Atkins. But since I'm not a movie star, Bread and Bread is my brand new baby blog.