Showing posts from 2006

christmas with family…

…means Christmas with Republicans.

solamente en los angeles

Last night AK and I took the Gold Line to Pershing Square (we’re so urban!) to see a free concert by Los Abandoned , a sort of punk-Spanglish- dancehall band that I’ve been somewhat into lately, and would be more so if the CD player in my car were working properly. It wasn’t the easiest venue—an outdoor stage beneath an arbor of bejeweled palm trees and styrofoam snowflakes, across from an ice skating rink—but Los Abandoned rocked it. Lead singer Lady P even wore a red and silver-sequined skating dress (which looked remarkably like my 10 th grade drill team uniform) over her black leggings to complement the scene. And leave it to your local LA punk-Spanglish-dancehall band to perform the best medley of “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah,” “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” and “Hava Nagilah” I’ve ever heard.

the healing power of pirouettes

Whoever invented that low-slung stationary bike I’m so fond of (you know, the one that’s more like sitting on a kitchen chair than an actual bike) is a little bit evil. For years it’s been a staple of my workout, or maybe I should say “workout,” making me forget the vast superiority of exercises that actually get your adrenaline going . Last night I went to Bally’s in hopes of taking the new hip-hop class. I brought a book with me—since about 50 percent of Bally’s classes are canceled (and the staff always acts surprised: “Really? The yoga teacher isn’t down there? That’s weird”), I figured there was a good chance I’d end up on the bike, slightly bored and barely sweating. But lo and behold, the hip-hop class was on! And the teacher was good! And he (unlike most Bally’s hip-hop teachers) did an actual warm-up and cool-down . And taught a good-looking routine that was not too hard and not too easy. And the class was full of kids like me—folks who’d picked up a little dance or c

getting to know velocity

Some observations upon beginning Dave Eggers’ You Shall Know Our Velocity! , in which two 20-something guys try to give away 30-something-thousand dollars in a one-week trip around a large chunk of the world: This is a ridiculous idea that only two privileged Americans could come up with. Traveling to countries you know nothing about and giving wads of cash to people who seem needy—but not too needy, or annoying, or ungrateful—is naïve at best, reckless and exploitative at worst. Sure, it makes a better story than, “We donated our money to a respected nonprofit organization, and the experts distributed it accordingly,” but it’s hard to get past the insane premise. Boys travel differently from girls. They are spontaneous, they don’t worry about getting raped (though they occasionally worry about getting killed) and they like to climb trees and jump from moving cars. Some observations upon getting to the middle section, in which the

blood, bling and two trips to the bathroom

Last night, AK and I decided to see a movie on a whim, and I found myself at the 11:20 p.m. showing of Blood Diamond , Diet Coke in hand to keep me awake. Even though I’ve fallen asleep during late showings of some pretty riveting movies, I think that even sans Diet Coke, I couldn’t have nodded off to this one. The movie tells the story of Sierra Leone’s warlord-ruled illegal diamond trade through the eyes of a cynical white smuggler (Leonardo DiCaprio), a muckraking journalist with a thing for bad boys (Jennifer Connelly) and a local fisherman (Djimon Hounsou) who hopes to use his discovery of an immense pink diamond to save his family, which has been split apart by the rebel army. It’s the sort of movie that follows all the rules of storytelling, some to very good effect, some not so much. It’s hard not to roll your eyes when the white couple’s sexual tension is given more screen time than the scenes in which Hounsou’s son is drugged and brainwashed by the rebels. Yet the movie ke

scrooge drives a chrysler 300

My first moments in Houston were very Texan: Rental guy: Let’s see, you reserved an economy car. Would you like a free upgrade to a Jeep Grand Cherokee? Me: I don’t think I’d even know how to drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Rental guy: What do you normally drive? Me: A Honda Civic. Rental guy: Okay, I’ll see what we have. [Twenty minutes later] Rental guy: I’m going to give you the smallest car we have, the Chrysler 300. It’s, uh, more like a Honda Accord. Friends, the Chrysler 300 is more like a boat. Your grandpa’s big-ass gold boat. But despite this introduction, Houston was a lot greener and more beautiful than the dusty land of strip malls I had pictured after talking to my friend Kristi, who lived there for several years. (Granted, I probably talked to her during the hellishly hot summer, not warmly misty December. Now that Kristi is back in NorCal, she speaks quite highly of Houston .) Anyway, all of this is to say I’ve been out of town and j

blog post to a young writer

I just finished sending acceptance and decline emails to all the good folks who submitted work for the spring issue of Blithe House Quarterly . Afterward I checked to see how many stories were in my “No” folder in my Yahoo account—93. Plus the six I accepted. That’s almost 100 stories. And now I am having one of those “so that’s where my time went” moments. Sometimes such epiphanies follow ten back-to-back episodes of My Super Sweet Sixteen , so it could be worse. Lately I’ve done a fair amount of reading for contests and lit mags. If you’re an “emerging writer” (as we call ourselves until we hit Oprah’s couch), I highly recommend finding such a gig. Besides being fun—the thrill of discovering good work, the amusement of discovering really, really bad work—it tells you a lot about what happens to your little manuscript after you send it off into the big wide world: You know how, when winners of just about anything are announced, the announcer says, “There were so many great entries.

shoppers rush home with their treasures

As AK’s roommate Alberto recently pointed out, “Even when I was a little kid, I was like, ‘What’s up with “Silver Bells”? That’s a song about shopping .’” One of my goals for the holiday season (well, pretty much my only goal, since “send cards early” is pretty much out of the question) is to not buy people a bunch of shit that they don’t need, that I can dubiously afford and that was probably made by a 15-year-old in Bangladesh. I’m happy to see that holiday fairs selling fair trade goods, local handmade products and donations to good-causes are popping up all over the place. On Sunday I went crazy getting tubes of caulk for Habitat for Humanity on behalf of my manly relatives at All Saints ’ Alte rn ative Christmas Market. I’m totally caught up in the whirlwind—it’s a slightly less glamorous whirlwind than the evil-but-sooo-shiny one that blows through the glittery corridors of the Grove, but it doesn’t leave me with that I-just-ate-a-whole-bag-of-greasy-potato-chips feeling

gentrification junction, what’s your function?

This morning I jogged up West Boulevard instead of up Vineyard and—this is the miracle of Los Angeles, and of jogging—a whole world opened up to me. From the small bridge over Venice Boulevard, I could see into the rundown-but-elegant gated community on my right and the gravel pit that was once a closed-down hardware store on my left. It was a clear, sunny morning, warm but with a bite, the light golden and almost dangerous-feeling, the way I’ve heard it is not in other parts of the country. When I turned onto Pico, I passed the Pico/Rimpau Transit Center, also known as the bus station. I admit I hadn’t been there on foot since my keys got locked in B’s car at the carwash two years ago and I unexpectedly found myself taking the bus home. But I’ve noticed public transportation is enjoying a renaissance (or maybe just a naissance) in LA, and Pico/Rimpau testified to this. Last I checked, the bus junction was dingy and haunted-looking, the way you want bus stations to be in movies, but

this post is not about penélope cruz’s ass

What is the world coming to when even Terry Gross spends most of her interview with Penélope Cruz asking about the actress’ now-famous ass-padding in Volver ? The NPR reviewer, too, was equally body-oriented, rhapsodizing about how Cruz’s sultry make-up spoke volumes about her character, and how she was the new Sophia Loren, etc., etc. The guy basically spent 10 minutes intellectualizing his crush on Ms. Cruz. I’ll get it out of the way more quickly: Penélope Cruz is hot. Now, moving on. Volver is a physical film, maybe even more so than most movies, but it’s also a tough and mature movie, which can get lost in the ass-padding excitement. Cruz plays Raimunda, a hardworking, newly single mom who seems too busy running a restaurant, dealing with her aunt’s death and covering up her daughter’s (quite justified) murder of her (Raimunda’s) husband to put on all that make-up, though we do see her doing so once. Her sister Sole (played by the actually-plenty-attractive-herself Lola

revise revise revise

That’s what David Wong Louie wrote when he signed a copy of his much-rewritten second book for me. I haven’t started revising my novel for real yet, but I am doing some line editing before sending chapter 10 to my writing group. A window into my so-called process: I took refuge in the aisles of gorgeous fruits and vegetables. I took refuge in the aisles of luxuriant fruits and vegetables. I took refuge in the aisles of garish fruits and vegetables. I took refuge in the aisles of ostentatiously gorgeous fruits and vegetables. I took refuge in the aisles of fruits and vegetables.

not just bitches

1. a good long life At this very moment, my real high school reunion is happening. Or I should say, my official high school reunion is happening, because the real thing, as far as I’m concerned, happened last night. Instead of paying $55 per person, we had a potluck at Bonnie ’s apartment. I arrived second, apologizing for my burnt brownies as I walked through the door. Amy said, “Yeah, I was supposed to make a vegetable dish, but I ran out of time and just ended up buying something.” Then Jenessa called, saying she was running late and did we still really want her to bring a salad? Our gathering reaffirmed what I observed at last year’s mini-reunion —that we’re very much still our high school selves: over-achievers with slacker tendencies (or maybe vice versa), self-deprecating, sarcastic, creative. And that we’re also not—the sarcasm that we honed making fun of people for ridiculous reasons (“Remember how we used to make fun of Shannon Christiansen?” Bonnie said. “Why?” Angie

conversations with my 28-year-old self

I just drove back from my dad’s house after a long day of extended family and tasty side dishes. It’s finally starting to get cold, and I kept having to turn the windshield wipers on, even with the defroster going full blast. The roads were wide open, and Chris Pureka ’s “Swann Song” was playing in my CD player. It’s upbeat and sad at the same time—smoky-voiced, nostalgic, sing-along-able. It embodies late autumn perfectly. Chris Pureka is a new discovery, brought to my attention by a mass email from B, who likes heartbreaking girl folk singers, and who broke up with me a year ago this weekend. A year ago this weekend I could not peel myself off the floor, and when I finally did, I ran five miles and hardly even felt it. I thought about that self tonight (maybe because earlier in the day I was listening to Pink ’s sweet but less spectacular “Conversations With My 13 Year Old Self”) and I felt so sad for that self, and loved her so much. She had no idea what was ahead of her—that a

a thanksgiving message

Courtesy of J.P. , Akbar craft captain and holiday philosopher: Thank you for the very weird experience of a holiday that suffers from gross historical distortion, but still has the gleanings of a message that endures (the concept of gratitude and celebration of the harvest). Despite all the starvation, disease, nasty catty fights about real-estate, back-stabbing, maize, muskets, hats with buckles, pretty head-dresses, small pox, the Narragansets and the Puritans...we’re essentially thankful for mostly everything. I guess. Whatever. Turkey . I would say “tofurky,” but other than that, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

it's official

As of a lovely ceremony Sunday morning, I’m officially a member of All Saints . It felt a little like graduation, where you’re sort of moved, but also sort of worried about when you’re supposed to sit and stand and walk off stage. Afterward, our Covenant I group practiced the ancient Episcopalian ritual of going out for Thai food.

the locals call it “san luis.” “slo” is like saying “frisco”

Speaking of art, we stopped in San Luis Obispo, where AK spent her college days, and saw the famous Bubblegum Alley, where people have been sticking chewed-up wads of gum for years. And they say public art is dead.


On Friday, AK and I visited the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, where one of the highlights was an exhibition of Ruth Asawa ’s modernist take on those wire baskets that hold potatoes and lemons and stuff. They were intricate, eerie and oddly warm and organic for sculptures made of twis ted metal.

this was partly a business trip, i swear

I’m at least 1,000 words behind in my blogging, so hopefully these pictures will tell the story of my past week. Three fun days of it were spent in San Francisco. Unfortunately I didn’t document lunch at Citizen Cake , where Erin (fresh from proving art and sports do mix at our work meeting) and AK bonded over their mutual love of Jenny Lewis, and Jamie and I devoured a dessert that literally looked like shit (think fudge logs sitting on top pumpkin skid marks) but tasted so good we were proud to claim our citizenry. I’ll start with karaoke at the Mint , where Jamie played air flute, Patricia channeled Dolly, AK rocked Axl Rose and I tried to do fan kicks to Fiona Apple. And a 70-something leather daddy sang a version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” that was so sweet I really could imagine all those things. All before 6 p.m., ladies and gentlemen.


On Friday I made two delightful discoveries. 1) The Pinkberry frozen yogurt that people are clogging the streets of West Hollywood for totally lives up to the hype. Isn’t it nice when something does that? Actually, I have to admit that I tried a knockoff version, the Big Chill’s Chillberry flavor, which has thus far only clogged a small strip mall parking lot. But it’s damn good stuff. A frozen yogurt version of plain yogurt, basically—tart with just a little sweetness. When I returned from lunch, I reported my findings to Jamie and Cait, our intern. “It’s so good,” I said. “It totally lives up to the hype. The only bad part was that I got a chocolate peanut butter cup topping—it was like putting a really ornate Victorian chair in the middle of a sleek, modern apartment.” Cait, being a 19-year-old USC student who is already over trends I’ve never even heard of, was familiar with Pinkberry, but Jamie hadn’t heard of it. When I described it to her, she said, “That’s like the orig

the good, the bad, the weird and the deep-fried

Since I had to work slightly harder than usual to vote yesterday, (meaning I had to print my sample ballot from the inte rn et rather than just pull it out of my mailbox—god, now I know what Iraqis go through to vote!), I got an extra special little buzz in pasting my “I Voted” sticker to my shirt. I voted at 7:30 a.m., so I had nearly 15 hours to walk around in ignorant bliss, hopeful that America would make good choices. The good news is that, unlike in the 2000 and 2004 elections, the results did not make me cry. The good news is that Democrats are no longer letting Republicans have the lock on morality rhetoric, and Nancy Pelosi is third in line for the presidency. The bad news is that I’m having double assassination fantasies (note to blog police: Did I say “double assassination fantasies”? I meant “double simultaneous naturally caused heart attack” fantasies), which doesn’t seem healthy. The bad news is that America still hates fags, except in Arizona , where they’re

not that anyone asked....

Sometimes, when the kids are having a fun game of meme tag—or whatever they call it—you just have to tag yourself. And when it comes to books, I can resist a little self-tagging. 1) One book that changed your life. When I was five, my mom started reading the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder to me. Soon I was narrating my own life in the third person: “Then Cheryl went into the bathroom. It was dark, and she hoped there were no kidnappers hiding behind the toilet.” In kindergarten, when we wrote little stories to explain what was happening in our finger-paintings, I raised my hand and asked, “How do you spell ‘replied’?” Before a thousand other books brought beauty and darkness and history and social consciousness into my life, a little girl in a bonnet brought words themselves. 2) One book that you’d read more than once. Would read again: anything funny that I can read out loud to people I like to hear laugh. Have read again: In the Heart

the tale of the shark, the tabby cat and the disappearing bus

One Halloween night, a shark and a cat named OC (who looked, to the un t rain ed eye, m uch like a generic tiger but was in fact OC—orange tabby, Mid-City resident, connoisseur of plastic bags and popsicles) set out to have some West Hollywood fun. They had plans to meet their friend the vampire at the KBIG stage, where Tiffany was performing. (This was what happened when gay men found corporate sponsorship—Tiffany got gigs again.) They drove to the house where OC was cat-sitting and fed Mao, Miso and Stripe, who were not especially worried about being care d for by a giant member of th eir species and a shark who had recently eaten a scuba diver. From there, OC and the shark walked to the bus stop, where they waited. And waited. And called the shark’s roommat e to confirm the bus schedule. And waited some more. Finally, the shark said, “Can we go back to Jamie and Lee-Roy ’s house for a little while? I’m freezing.” “Of course,” said OC. “I’m weari ng a wool sweater, but I fo

where's a duck bill when you need one?

Okay, so the scary clown has not yet begun to shoot blood from his eyeballs as I had hoped, but he is now tied—by the neck—to the lamppost with what looks like a periwinkle unitard. In the interest of better clown posture, I guess. I’ll probably stop by that store today to see if I can find a cheap, minimal, last-minute costume. The other day AK described the following conversation with her coworker, and I could relate: AK: I’m trying to come up with a cheap, minimal, last-minute Halloween costume. Coworker: Alright, let’s think about what we have to work with. What do you have in the costume section of your closet? AK: [Blank stare.] Coworker: You know, your old clothes and stuff. What do you do with your old clothes? AK: I give them away. Coworker: [Shaking head.] Before you give anything away, you should always ask yourself, “Could I use this as part of a costume?” This mo rn ing I checked the shelves above my closet to see if maybe I had a costume s

three movie reviews

Most of my week in New York was kind of…worky. Breaks included: 1) getting food poisoning and 2) seeing some good movies. I’ll spare you the details of the former. The Prestige : Nicole S. (of NYC, not to be confused with Nicole K. of LA—although, interestingly, they both have sisters named Vanessa) and Bram and I went to Nicole’s favorite theater on 33 rd St. , the one with the good chicken tenders. I was still a little nauseous—and still a vegetarian—so I ordered the so-much-more-stomach-settling nachos, and settled in to see Christian Bale play an obsessive magician competing against his fellow obsessive magician (Hugh Jackman) in tu rn -of-the-century London. Given that I love Christian Bale (especially in tu rn -of-the-century period pieces ) and anything that vaguely resembles the gritty, creepy, fun-house glamour of an old-fashioned traveling circus, this movie didn’t have to do much to win me over. In the nearly perfect opening sequence, we see Hugh Jackman’s c

there's no such thing as baby weight in manhattan beach

After 11 and a half years, people from my high school are finally planning our 10-year reunion . I had made up my mind to go: I was already in town, I was curious, I’d made a decent life for myself and I thought it would be nice to run into one of the four people I’d like to catch up with who aren’t on MySpace . Then I read the part of the Evite that said “Send $55 per person to….” Then again, I thought, they’ll have to join MySpace eventually , right? Around this time, I also stumbled across the MySpace page of a fellow Mira Costa Mustang who’d recently had a baby. She smiled up from her profile pic, looking blonde and radiant, sans an ounce of baby weight. Her gorgeous daughter was in one arm, and her designer leather diaper bag was in the other. I thought, Do I want to pay $55 to be reminded more viscerally than ever of what Manhattan Beach is like? I looked at the “No” section of the Evite. The people who had declined so far had included comments like, “Sorry to miss it, bu

what you dream after eating veggie sausage and onions for dinner

I was traveling for work (seemed like some sort of Central Valley town, somewhere with a lot of strip malls and open space) and, coming out of a meeting, I wandered across the street and into a warehousey-looking store. It tu rn ed out to be a giant thrift store that catered to drag queens, especially drag queens of the slightly tragic, less-than-fabulous variety. They type more likely to wear polyester than sequins. They had to live on the DL in this town, and it showed in their shoulders. I looked around for something to buy, and was repeatedly drawn to quiet, casual clothes. Cotton shirts. Jeans. I thought, Wow, I’m such a dyke. I befriended the owners, this cool drag-queen couple, and as I was drawn further into the store, it lost its Salvation Army vibe and became more and more magical. There were twinkly Christmas lights. Steamer trunks full of silk slips. Wine and music. One of the owners gave me an apple, and when I bit into it, it was full of chocolate.

the therapeutic powers of lagomorphs and carbohydrates

I’ve been in a bad mood for the past 36 hours or so because I’m at the stage of novel-writing where I hate my draft so much that I want to erase my name from the title page and replace it with my worst enemy’s. Family Genus Species , a novel by George W. Bush. But then I look at pictures of bunnies and bread and I feel better (thanks Jay Jao and Patricia).

by halloween, he’ll have started to shoot blood from his eyeballs

The balloons that were previously tied to the scary clown ’s mannequin wrist have all popped, leaving eight or ten dangling strings attached to shreds of rubber. Basically it looks like a bunch of giant spiders have repelled down from his Madonna-glove hand on fat webs.

augäpfel mit ihrem bier?

Perhaps almost as important and informative as fictional has-been movie stars are the current projects of my real live artist friends: 1) My friend Nicole just co-authored (with Mike Szymanski) The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe . I haven’t gotten my copy yet, but I did take one of its quizzes on . I learned that based on the foods I like (eggplant, pancakes, curly fries), I am apparently bisexual. 2) My friends-of-AK’s-friends J.P. and Jennifer Jordan Day collaborated on the online Halloween advent calendar-slash-art exhibit Gothtoberfest . I learned how to make pumpkin pizza and say “Do you want eyeballs with your beer?” in German.

why yes, i am a 60-year-old gay man

As I was driving back from the San Diego City Book Fair this weekend, listening to the Sunset Boulevard stage musical soundtrack (featuring the sexy-voiced Kevin Anderson ), I had an epiphany: Norma Desmond has called my office dozens of times. She’s also approached my organization’s booth at lots of book fairs, asking questions like, “Do you want to hear me recite my epic science fiction poem?” But for the grace of sometime-stardom, Norma would be one of the loony minions who show up at public events in search of fresh blood to inflict their egos and idiosyncrasies on. I’ve mostly come into contact with the literary loony minions—at the SD book fair, there was the guy with the tall walking stick who smelled like peanut butter, and the guy who told everyone who’d listen about how world peace could be achieved by holding hands (interestingly, his left hand was bandaged—workplace injury?). But I know they exist in every subculture. Sunset Boulevard is one of my favorite movies, and

two updates

1) The scary clown outside my office is now wearing a single fluorescent yellow lace glove on its creepy mannequin hand. 2) Well, this one only qualifies as an update to those who’ve heard me tell the following story (and they are many): About a month ago, I started noticing a strange noise outside my apartment building: “Waah!” It sounded sort of like a bird—but not quite. It was a short, loud, simple sound, performed at random intervals. Not anguished, just squawky. One day I came home and saw a guy standing on the co rn er of my street, shouting “Waah!” Mystery solved. Then, last night, I heard the familiar “Waah!” but this time it was answered by a different voice, also saying “Waah!” The inflection was the same, but the vocal cords clearly belonged to someone else. It carried on for a couple of minutes. An entire conversation composed of one non-word. I welcome any theories you might have.

a three-day weekend in postcolonial socal

Last week my boss sent out a company-wide email saying, “Just a reminder that, while Columbus did not discover America, we will have Monday off. Enjoy the long weekend.” I did. I finished Middlesex , which I will not bother to review here because what brilliant conclusions am I going to make about its brilliance that the Pulitzer committee didn’t already make? (Suffice it to say, they were right.) I finished draft one of the novel I’ve been working on—the one about the nuclear family vs. the global family , featuring bicycle rentals in Malaysia . I’m hoping that its brilliance emer ges—like the late and surprisingly blooming Calliope Stephanides—in draft two. I also discovered that Jamie , whom I’ve known a year and a half now, is not only an excellent poet but a bold, riveting performer. I discovered that Brendan Constantine , whom I’d never encountered until Saturday night at Beyond Baroque , is both of those things too. And on Sunday, AK and friends and I gave two British boys a f

stephanie just called to tell me two great things

1) “There’s a review of your book in the Sacramento News & Review .” 2) “I just had an audition for two parts on Two and a Half Men . I don’t know how I did with ‘Cashier,’ but I nailed ‘Snack Bar Cashier.’”

a good pace

Sometimes I forget how much I love running. That’s because I don’t love starting to run—getting off my ass, finding a semi-clean sports bra, taking those first awkward steps when I haven’t figured out my pace and my bandana feels crooked on my head. But last night AK and I finally went jogging together after months of anxious deflecting (“I’m sure you’ll be faster.” “No, you’ll be faster.”), and I quickly remembered why I stuck out a whole season of cross country in high school, even though the coach was an ass. It tu rn s out we’re pretty evenly matched. We’re both medium-slow, better at distance than sprinting. Which reminds me how much I love running-as-metaphor. I glowed: See! We’re perfect for each other! I may have glowed out loud a tad too much, because AK politely indicated that she prefers a slightly less chatty run. It’s cool, it’s cool. Soon I was too tired to talk anyway. There was only breath and pavement and the scary-thrilling rush of cars whizzing by the jog

not ready for my close-up

You know how, in interviews, actors always say they can’t stand to watch their own movies? And how you think, Oh shut up and stop being modest. I know you have a big home theater where you watch all of them over and over again, Norma Desmond -style . Well, I maybe get it just a little bit now. Not too long ago I encountered my first nasty reader review of The Commuters on Amazon (which is weirdly missing now, but I swear I did not report it to the Amazon authorities). Luckily the late Jake Dante posted a very thoughtful rebuttal. (Jake was AK’s shy, cuddly, scholarly cat, whose fate was sealed by a careless driver on a foggy night last week. He is very much missed, and deserves more than a parenthetical. But, um, for the record, many people and cats who’ve read my book are doing just fine, so I don’t think there’s a curse or anything.) But on the heels of the negative review, I was nervous about reading the two links to real live jou rn alistic reviews that my editor sent me

it's beginning to look a lot like halloween

Specifically, the dancewear and costume shop next door to my office has put out its life-size clown mannequin, which it does toward the end of every September. But each year the clown—which stands on a busy street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day for a month—gets a little shabbier. Its yellow wig has had sooty black tips for awhile now, but today I noticed that one of its cartoony, white-gloved hands has been replaced by what appears to be the hand of a small female mannequin. So what used to be a sentinel of Happy Fun Kiddy Halloween is now an unintentional harbinger of Scary Ghoulish Horror Movie Halloween. If one of the little tap dancer mannequins in the window display turns out to be missing a hand, all the better.