Saturday, September 26, 2009

Irish Spring, Indian Summer, Fortunate Fall

Death by PowerPoint this week, including a 12-hour stretch creating one Monday, probably payback for not atoning. Luckily, and I do have some half-Irish luck, the weekend was a lovely work-free zone, with a lazy visit from BA and a lot of rainy snoozing, aside from a sloppy 6-mile run on the not-restored part of the Crescent Trail. And even that was relaxing, because the usual Beltway traffic on the other side of the trail doesn't all venture past the Bethesda Barnes & Noble.

Because I'm running often when my daughter's in her extracurriculars now, I'm doing urban trail runs, dodging fractured sidewalks and Bethesda cafe sitters, trying not to give in to the urge to swoop in and run off with a coffee and donut. Other days I run on the strange streets around the old industrial park that has the big warehouse building where she has gymnastics, breathing auto paint fumes from the body shops. It is easy to think the earth might not recover when you see the kind of trash on the side of some roads. I just start to feel like, well, this is it. These are places no one ever cleans up, no one worries about making it look nice. A tangle of plastic and slime, all at my feet.

I'm scared to get the new Margaret Atwood from the library.

But at night it looks different, and for my birthday, BA took me to see Steve Wynn. I was worried that with all those songs about baseball it would be all fratty and overgrown cargo-short toddlers bobbing their heads in the white-boy dance, they're perfectly nice I'm sure, but they make me feel uncomfortable. It's true it was a bit of a sausage fest, manly, yes, but I liked it also! Some guitar trouble meant we got a quasi-unplugged version of When You Smile, quick repairs made for lots of Paisley Underground, lots of fast talking, and I can't get the new songs out of my head. They're fun and smart.

They played for THREE HOURS and the drummer kills.

Except there's another song I can't get out of my head, because BA and I were goofing around on the interwebs and she was showing me Real Housewives of Atlanta and now I can't stop singing (Don't Be) Tardy for the Party (Party-party-party-party)". At first I thought it was Tarty but of course I had that wrong. It is so tarty!

I can go back to not watching TV for 20 years again. I saw five minutes of Housewives, really scary! And that Cougartown show? Reader, I watched it. After all that, I had to. I can't believe all the outrage. It's a 30-minute sitcom y'all. One in which a character admits that she gets kind of lonely sometimes and enjoys having sex. One in which, at one point, the character yells at the guy across the street because he gets to cavort all he likes and nobody says anything, yet she's constantly judged and gossiped about and taken to task no matter what she does. Come to think of it, it's kind of refreshing. But that doesn't mean I'll take time to watch it again.

How come no one's writing NYT columns of outrage about all the shlubby guys on sitcoms? Don't men of a certain age feel misrepresented and insulted by 30-minute sitcoms, like it's an offense to their entire lives and gender? Get busy.

And I had to watch a little Eastwick, as part of my witches anti-defamation duties, and man, don't make me ever again. Plus, that noise last week was the sound of a giant Evel Knievel motorcycle revving up to jump the shark tank that was House. Cute cuddly mental patients? A catatonic revived by a music box? No, no, no, no, no, Bryan Singer, how could you? Never again.

C'est tout for the tube. Sorry to ramble on so long. Next time I babble this much, I'll make a PowerPoint out of it.

And that doesn't even get into the Nordstrom Steve Madden boots incident, in which I proved once and for all that I am not worthy of being called cougar. I just...don't really understand how to shop or how to behave in a mall. But they are great damn boots all the same. Thank you for the gift certificate, dear mother.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

John Deere vs. Courteney Cougar, Cage Match

So much cougar-hating coming across the doorstep, mostly engendered (get it) by the Courteney Cox TV premiere. Boffo.

Worst offender was the straining at a fun little piece in this morning's Post, in a voice that's this weird pastiche of blogger snarkery and Sex In the City-edited-for-Bravo-reruns voiceover. How'd that thing end up the display lede when they had good stuff like Hank Stuever, Lisa deMoraes, a new James Ellroy, Tom Shales, the new Taffety Punk show, MacArthur geniuses...oh well. I know the rules, no leading with reviews, but it's scary to think they probably didn't have the bandwidth to handle anything beyond an AP mashup on the MacArthurs. Just one more bad part about being old is you can remember a Style section that changed the industry instead of one that gave cute perky tips on lip plumpers, "dating dilemmas" and vegan dog food. (All respect to Robin Givahn on fashion, btw, who is a serious writer and reporter and knows her stuff. It's the Style Plus recycling that's so annoying.)

I watched a little Bored to Death last night too, not intentionally, and I was so afraid I'd pull a muscle from cringing from looking at this fucking hipster for 1/2 hour, but hey, not bad! Some decent writing! Ted Danson helped. I was getting a little nauseated from some of the twee needle-drop soundtrack, and then to top it off they played about .04 seconds of my favorite TV on the Radio song. Which will always be a great fucking song but was hip like two years ago or at least one year ago? Which is why I get so fed up with you youngsters. Your job is to show me something new, and you give me a one-hit in a pilfered Viagra bottle.

For someone who didn't watch TV for 20 years (I've still never seen that first show Ted Danson was on), I'm watching a lot of it. That's because the broadcast medias is so much better than the movies now, especially the writing. Exhibit A: You wake up and you're on top of the world, and then you get your foot run over by a lawnmower??!!??

I've decided I want my first ultra to be along the Delaware shore after running trails around Henlopen this weekend. They're flat. I found one nice piece that was about a mile and a half of everything ranging from gravel to soft sand. I know they say don't run on soft sand but up to a mile can't kill me. Maybe in Florida? Wild boar and alligators. That's another way to lose a foot. Or two. An ultra circling Okeechobee. Sign me up.

Photo: My blog won't let me push a little button and put up pirated photos anymore. Probably serves me right, bitch.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oh Dreamweaver, I Believe Etc.

Seven of Cups


If I had one breath
Left would I
Call to you

To come see
What I believe
Is in my reach?

The anger, the cries,
The counsel
To choose one,
To ground,
To test visions
Against reality --
Long since faded
To a ringing in my ears.

And here I am
Using that breath
To explain why
I do not call to you.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Little Green Teabag

Of course they were the topic all weekend. You can look at the pictures and the signs, or you can open up a can of the stuff on the right and get the same effect: Bland, slimy, and bad for you. People of bigger brain are pretty much clear now on two things:

1. Teabagger=Racist
2. Nothing else about what they do or say makes any sense. Aside from having a black president, they're mad about...what? Policy? That is so weird. For a longtime Washingtonian, it's almost kind of flattering, in a way. Here we go for so many years developing minutely detailed policy, and someone is actually paying attention! Even if they do get it wrong.

All I can say is it's one weird-ass world when I find myself working on poems about Rush Limbaugh and about Harriet Tubman at the same time. Course the Rush one is just an easy one-off, ought to be done in a day. It's about one time when I was in Miami in the car scanning stations and listening to his show for a while and thinking: That guy is SO HIGH.

(Remember that next time you think I'm just some happy housewife. I see all.)

Right now, I'm tuning in and getting this sense that the teabaggers, who after all are largely not powerful people, even in numbers, are actually super-bottoming masochists, hell-bent on testing the edge of human endurance of pain. Our President keeps trying to offer them a safe word, and they're all: no way. No rules. Take them away. Please, please, I must have Wall Street take my home, give CEOs my retirement, take my job away, make them beat me down to nothing, please, rich executives and limo preachers, take my money and kill our jobs and turn my town into a hull fit only for meth production, except that no one knows enough even to figure out how to cook it without blowing their asses to ash because we don't want education either, please, make me work for stockbrokers so they can buy ice sculptures and snort corks (that's not a typo, it's a shoutout to E) off naked nubile maidens. Please, no rules, no way to stop them, please do it until we bleed, and make sure there's no one there to bandage us up, no way. No government, no help, no health care, no options of any kind, no peace, no boundaries, no future, no change, no change, no change.

They couldn't get their rapture on with the war, so they're going for the End Times right here at home.

But you know what's worse? I'm also tuning in that all the protesting and talk radio bullshit is just a shiny-thing distraction. That as evil and real as the racism is, it's still all a way of saying, "hey, over here, keep looking over here!"

And I wonder what's going on where we're not looking. And who and why. And now I sound as paranoid as they do. And maybe that's actually how they get you.

I made the 13.1 miles in eight (slight correction) minutes less than I had two years ago. I feel a little achy, but fine. More than fine.

Friday, September 11, 2009

"I'm Tired. Tired of Playing the Game."

Rain, mud, horse poop, stupidly scheduled myself to babysit tonight, and I'm still going to do the race tomorrow. Now the girls are pulling out all the American Girl accoutrements, and the timer's going off.

Dinner break.

Pizza, baby carrots, apple slices. Conversation: Belgium, roller coasters, solar power. Eight-year-olds are all right. And it's actually easier to babysit than to have them hang out solo.

Happy to see Mel Brooks made the national honors list.

Worried about the right wingers. They are so anxious, so terrified all the time. They need treatment. But I don't think they can afford it. Here's what one of their leaders--they follow these leaders so blindly, poor things, out of their terrible, terrible fear--says:

"And so Americans are frustrated," Boehner told reporters. "They're angry. And most importantly, they're scared to death that the country that they grew up in is not going to be the country that their kids and grandkids grew up in."

I don't quite understand why that would be such a bad thing. But today might be a very good day to think about fear and what it does to people, and what it causes us to do.

I myself am terrified of Aetna. Terrified they'll drop me or worse, my child, at any minute. And I know damn well that's what you're afraid of, too, Mr. and Mrs. Bama. So I don't believe it for a minute that you're afraid of government health care, or socialism, or big government. You and I both know what you're afraid of. You can't fool me; I spent enough time in the same place you come from to know.

I'm off on the other screen searching for my favorite quote from the Washington Post this week, and I've just about given up.

--Holy shit. Speaking of health care, I just had to perform emergency surgery. My child just decapitated one of the Bitty Twins, trying to get one of those cute little shirts over her head. The doll's, I mean. I "saved her life!"--

Anyway, favorite quote from a parent who didn't want her child to see the "stay in school, listen to your parents, work hard" speech by our President the other day: "His charisma is frightening."

It's like The Blob, a miasma clouding civilization, threatening the nation, it's the dreaded Charisma of the Black President, coming your way! Run, Loudoun matron! Scamper!

Oh, I suck, truly, I can put the head back on a doll, but I can't do this justice. I wish Dave Chappelle would get back to work. He'd know just what to do.

PS: This week's library book is Mario Vargas Llosa's The Bad Girl. And it's good.

Photo: Late great Madeleine Kahn rides again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You Say You Don't

--How's about a little Buzzcocks.

--I have to write all I can in 15 minutes.

--Because I'm trying to get to bed at a decent hour all week because I have a race this weekend that I'm not too confident about. Women's trail half-marathon.

--All the way home just now WPFW was blasting Don Cherry.

--I had a dismal, charitably speaking 7-mile run Sunday and I almost hit a deer. A very slow deer. Standing still in the middle of the trail under the old trolley line. DH says it was a bad run because I was up the night before drinking wine and smoking cigarettes with BA, but that had nothing to do with it. Besides, we ate peaches too. They're good for you.

--I'm covered with mosquito bites from two outside parties, but the rain didn't start til the end of each.

--Catch the Douglas Sirk reference in Mad Men?

--Late night channel surfing surfaced the first half of 24 Hour Party People. "It's George Martin and Brian Epstein! Brian Epstein! Not George Epstein!" And the scene with Howard Devoto in the men's room. I love that movie.

--I'm going to take some of my time to find a good picture or something to link to now.

--Got it.

--I was feeling my grandmother for a moment there, very strongly, Saturday. The year she got her first seal-a-meal, she gave up canning for freezing. I lived on her turnips and kale for one winter. When she married my Irish, saxophone-playing grandfather, her family disowned her to the point that none even came to her funeral, 68 years later. He always had a victory garden, even when victories became not so clear. So Saturday, the berries and peaches and pesto were all in the freezer, and the peach cake was cooling, and the dark pink gazpacho was in a lighter pink bowl in the refrigerator, and my friend had just come to take her babysitting shift and take the kids to the pool. And I sat down and ate an ear of corn.

--And so this is all dedicated to Backstretch. You may not believe it, but in my experience, that which is remembered, lives.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Other C Word

My sister-in-law took the Outside magazine with Aaron Eckhart on the cover home with her. She said she wanted it to show her son the story about the skateboarder. Uhh-huh. OK.

The pictures inside are even better. But my real crush is from the month before.

But anyway. She is forgiven for taking Aaron away, because she lent me "The Widows of Eastwick," the Updike sequel. Only halfway through, but I get the feeling he gets it, better than a lot of women writers do. I had a lot of problems with the first one, but this one is just about age and time and change and death. The descriptions of nature, and of men's bodies, are poems in themselves. These women are in their 70s and they're still powerful and sexy, and they're losing their power every second. Voila, they're human; guess it takes a supernatural character to be just that.

We have cut back our cable to save money and now get "only" HBO and a dozen channels that show British football. So, TV report: I don't know how to deal with the last "Mad Men." It was just so sick and shocking. I know the show is all Stuff White People Like anyhow, and you know, somebody had to make the point that there was a lot more shit going on than those dresses and cool furniture. But I'd like to hear from some different voices about What It All Means.

I've watched a couple of "Hung"'s, which I like for the doofy guy and the economic collapse, but most of all Jane Adams as the poet/pimp, with her baked goods and bohemian pillows and noisy "reactions." No, not seeing anyone I know there, not at all.

And I read they're going to try to revive L Word as a reality show. Well, if it doesn't have Jennifer Beals and Pam Grier, it's not part of my reality.

Here's one I probably won't have time to catch, Cougar Town, which premieres on the day I turn 48!--not that I listen to bad reviews or anything. There was a wavelet of various cougar news and commentary recently that I was too busy to respond to in any way, despite somehow having become a default expert.

One more time: Reclaim the language and make it your own and claim its power (as this entry about the Other Other C Word elucidates). I chose Cougar for a name of this blog as half parody, half homage. There are women around DC I'm in awe of--perfect hair, perfect nails, perfect makeup, heels, handbags. I'll never be that. But I admire the way they refuse to give up, that they're warriors of a kind, refusing to accept the devaluation the market they've chosen might force on them. I don't like the market or the makeup or the money, but I like their balls. So to speak.

So, some protest that the Cougar word and the descriptions and the photos make older women's sexuality look scary or predatory or ridiculous? You know, depictions of just about any adult's sexuality look ridiculous, hilarious, disgusting, scary, weird, icky, choose your pejorative. Unless you're an adult who happens to be into what's being pictured. And then it looks sexy. Adults are funny that way. There aren't too many universals, as hard as advertising and men's magazines would like to try to make there be, so they could sell more shit more easily. All this fuss about older women, you'd think people had never seen a Hogarth or a Mozart opera.

And using that Cougar term? Doesn't mean I'm into young men in particular. The people I'm into are all of age and then some. And they're so diverse that all any of them have in common are brains.

Ummmm, brainzzzzz, yummmm....