Showing posts from June, 2008

wall-e world

If you are like me and use up 38 percent of your brain space thinking about How To Be Good (not to be confused with using 38 percent or more of your time actually being good), then perhaps you will understand the dilemma I faced Sunday. AK and I wanted to go to church at 11:15 a.m. We also wanted to volunteer for Equality for All at 4:30 p.m., at an event that would conveniently be taking place at our church in Pasadena . Rather than drive home in between and spew extra carbons into the atmosphere, we decided to see WALL-E and grab a late lunch at the mall a block from All Saints. WALL-E is quite possibly one of the most perfect movies I’ve ever seen. It’s funny, emotional, cute-but-not-cutesy, political—and every detail of the other-worldly world it creates is drawn with care and ingenuity. It also happens to be about a time in the “future” when Earthlings have trashed the planet so badly that they must perpetually orbit it in a cruise spaceship while robots make tiny dents

not applicable to all situations

AK was nervous about giving a presentation for a committee of “smart, quick, design-y types” at work today, so I paraphrased the quote in my last post . “Your inner critic thinks it’s the coolest guy in the room, but it’s a cynic and a savage,” I pep talked. She paused. “Yeah...that’s not really what I’m afraid of. This guy named Jose is actually the coolest guy in the room.” So until someone writes a magazine article about dealing with your outer Jose….

first fiction, eternal envy

Every year I read Poets & Writers Magazine ’s “First Fiction” article (a profile of a half dozen debut writers) and writhe with envy and inspiration the whole way through. This advice from debut novelist Salvatore Scibona , one of this year’s featured writers, helped to put things in perspective: School the inte rn al critic in all the dark arts of editorial sadism, but ignore it when it attacks you personally. It likes to pretend that it’s the coolest, most professional guy in the room. In fact, it is a cynic and a savage. I was also glad to see that fellow writer and blogger Jesi has been thinking similarly .

the night of (possibly) magical thinking

1. i’d just love a tuna sandwich For Father’s Day I gave my dad a modified birthday card with a photo of a cat lounging in a very human-like position on a couch. On the outside it said, “You think, ‘I’d just love a tuna sandwich’ and someone brings you a tuna sandwich.” Inside it said, “Have that kind of birthday Father’s Day.” The card was a hit because it was sort of dryly funny (thank you, Fresh Ink, for somewhat redeeming the greeting card industry) and because we used to have a cat who really liked tuna sandwiches. Specifically, on toast. The card was also not a hit because it’s an unspoken rule that we give handmade cards in my family. But my point is the cat’s sentiment: Is that what they call magical thinking? I keep hearing about magical thinking, sometimes as a good thing, sometimes as a bad thing, but I don’t really know what it is. Is it like The Secret or is it like Gabriel García M á rquez ? 2. love in the time of apocalypse Friday night brought ex

pet peeve #403

Books/movies/TV shows that are written in the present day but take place in Olden Times and feature heroines who magically have 21 st century brains. I call it the Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman Phenomenon: Despite being bo rn in, oh, the 1830s, Dr. Quinn is somehow an anti-slavery, pro-Native-American-rights, free-speech-advocating, anti-drug feminist. I just started listening to a new book on CD, which AK had laying around, called The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell . The cover implied it would be fluffy chick lit, which is a genre that I am technically against but can enjoy quite gleefully. (On a side note, I loved the Sex and the City movie—not as a guilty pleasure but unabashedly, as one of the most realistic, mature and touching movies about relationships I’ve ever seen.) But Belle Cantrell takes place in the Prohibition-era South, where old rules of propriety are dying slow deaths, and it takes a spunky, anti-racist feminist with an ahead-of-her-time haircut to shake thi

fame, fortune and freshmen

1. that’s tight Yesterday I visited three freshman creative writing classes at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale , where my sister Cathy teaches math (“Don’t tell fifth period you’re my sister,” she wa rn ed me. “Most of those kids have me for fourth period math and they hate me”). I decided I would read a little bit of The Commuters , lead them in a writing exercise, then answer questions about being a writer. The excerpt I chose was from a story about a 16-year-old gay kid who lives in South L.A., works as a dishwasher in West Hollywood and gets called a fag at school. “Is it okay if I read a story where a kid gets called a fag?” I asked Jen, their incredibly nice teacher, in our 30-second pre-class conference. “Definitely—but I’ll wa rn you, you will get a reaction. Nothing overt, but a lot of snickers and stuff. I hate to say it, but they’re pretty homophobic,” said Jen. I wanted to read the piece to challenge them, and to challenge myself—I’m way too used

noel's finger project

My friend Noel wants to give you the finger, and he's asked me to help. His new blog, My Finger Project , welcomes "images and thoughts dedicated to that in/famous digit." I had fun writing about my goody-two-shoes past and working out a little ex-girlfriend angst for today's installment: . Check it out and, if you're so inclined, give Noel your own finger.

fashionable watches are a bright side of my life

My name is cklein and I am a spammer, apparently. According to my organization’s IT guy, it’s not uncommon for spammers to select an arbitrary email address to use in the “reply-to” line of their emails. That way, when some of the spam they send bounces, it gets retu rn ed to, say, , instead of to the spammer. When I started receiving change-of-address auto-replies from France (“Mon adresse mail a change”) I knew I was a spammer proxy. Judging by the subject headlines of my retu rn ed emails, I’m in the designer jewelry/handbag replica business: “A diamond should be affordable” “My watch arrived today” “Elegance, reliability, prestige” “Replica watches, bags, pens” “Jacob & Co. good replicas” “Precious jewellery from TIFFANI” “Fashionable watches are a bright side of your life…” “Your love ones deserve the best” But sometimes I branch out to personal editorializing: “You look really stupid mpickell” I felt bad for insu

i love the flobots and i don’t care who knows it

The only problem with the Flobots is that I first heard them on KROQ . For those of you who don’t live in L.A. , KROQ is basically the official radio station of every kegger party you wished you didn’t go to. They have sexist, racist, homophobic, mostly unfunny mo rn ing DJs (whom I listen to regularly for nostalgic reasons and for Ralph, the guy who does the showbiz reports). They only play rap by white guys. The latest white-guy rap song in heavy rotation is “Handlebars,” a clever, toxically catchy song from the point of view of a Bush-like character: “I can take apart the remote control/ And I can almost put it back together…. I can hand out a million vaccinations/ Or let ‘em all die in exasperation.” (It’s no coincidence that the Flobots like to rap that they spell their name “F-L-O-No W!”) KROQ DJs have already labeled them a one-hit wonder, but AK was curious enough to go to their MySpace page , where we quickly discovered that they have more to say in one song than Kevin and

questions for the master of dance

“I’m going to ask you something, and I don’t want you to think I’m making fun of you.” Tiffaney was addressing the entire Beverly Hills 24 Hour Fitness hip-hop class. “If you walked up to a bunch of guys in South Central, what do you think they’d think when you started doing this ?” She proceeded to perform the first four counts of our routine like a cheerleader. Instead of thrusting her arms and legs forward in the slouchy, angry postures of hip-hop, she jabbed at perfect angles, kept her back straight and marched like the Rose Parade was following closely behind. I could see her point, but I also had some questions I did not pose to Tiffaney-with-an-E-Y, competitor on TLC’s new reality show Master of Dance : 1) Okay, Tiffaney, we know you can do it right. You have enough formal dance training that you know that different types of dance live in different parts of your body, the way that different languages center themselves in different parts of your mouth. You have a pe

it’s the culture, stupid

Usually panels about publishing make me cringe a little. They’re either depressing because they’re all about marketing (“You have to have a platform! It’s not enough to be a good writer—you have to be Oprah’s niece and a good writer!”), or they’re depressing because they’re depressing (“Books are dying. The publishing industry is bleeding money. People only read text messages and photo captions on Facebook”). So imagine my relief when one of my favorite novelists, Sara h Schulman , set the tone at Sunday’s lively and inspiring PEN salon on queer literature: “Look, let’s not pretend publishers’ reluctance to put out books by queer writers is about money. That’s an excuse. The truth is that they publish all kinds of books by straight writers that don’t sell well at all. It’s about culture. People in power don’t like reading stories from the points of view of the disenfranchised because it threatens their power.” It’s so easy to be a willing victim—to take the tone of, I know