Archive for January, 2012

Fun-ish Fact!

January 23, 2012

My colleague HW sent me this interesting tidbit from a book with a most titillating title, the seventh edition of Deviant Behavior by Alex Thios:

“Country music can also exercise a significant influence on suicide. As research has shown, the greater the radio airtime given to a country music, the higher the white suicide rate is. Country music tends to promote suicide by reinforcing preexisting suicidal moods in suicidally inclined listeners. This is because country music conveys many suicide-related themes, such as marital strife and dissolution, alcohol abuse, financial strain, and exploitation at work. A content analysis of 1400 hit country songs reveals that nearly three-fourths deal with the travails of love. Hopelessness further pervades most country songs. while country music cannot by itself drive people to suicide, it can increase suicide risks among those suicidal tendencies (Stack and Gundalach, 1992).”

If the case against Ozzy weren’t already dead…

Sunday Blues

January 22, 2012

The facts the princess learned about Varenka’s past and her relations with Madame Stahl and about Madame Stahl herself were as follows:

Madame Stahl, about whom some people said that she had worried her husband to death and others that he had worried her to death by his immoral conduct, had always been an ailing and hysterical woman.  When, after having been divorced from her husband, she gave birth to her first baby, the baby had died almost immediately, and her relations, knowing how highly strung she was and afraid that the news might kill her, substituted for her dead child one that was born the same night in the same house in Petersburg, the daughter of a palace chef.  That child was Varenka.  Madame Stahl learned afterward that Varenka was not her daughter, but she continued to bring her up, particularly as Varenka soon lost all her relations.

Madame Stahl had been living continuously abroad in the south for more then ten years, never leaving her bed.  Some people said that she had made herself a name by pretending to be a virtuous and highly religious woman; others said that she really was the highly moral being, living only to do good, which she represented herself to be.  No one knew what her religion was, Roman Catholic, Protestant, or Greek Orthodox; one thing, though, was certain: she was on the most friendly terms with the highest dignitaries of all the churches and denominations.

Varenka lived with her all the time abroad and all who knew Madame Stahl knew and liked Varenka, as everybody called her.

Having learned all these facts, the princess found nothing to object to in her daughter’s friendship with Varenka, particularly as Varenka’s manners and education were excellent: she spoke admirable French and English and, what was most important, apologized for Madame Stahl, who regretted being deprived by her illness of the pleasure of making the princess’ acquaintance.

Having become acquainted with Varenka, Kitty became more and more attracted to her friend, finding new things to admire in her every day.

When the princess heard that Varenka was a fine singer, she invited her to sing to them one evening.

“Kitty plays and we have a piano, though not a good one, I’m afraid, but you would give us great pleasure,” said the princess with her affected smile, which was especially distasteful to Kitty now, because she noticed that Varenka had no desire to sing.

But Varenka did come in the evening adn brought some music with her.  The princess had also invited Maria Yevgenyevna with her daughter and the colonel.

Varenka did not seem to mind in the least that there were people there she did not know and went straight to the piano.  She could not accompany herself, but she could sight read excellently.  Kitty, who played well, accompanied her.

“You have an exceptional talent,” said the princess to her after Varenka had sung the first song admirably.

Maria Yevgenyevna and her daughter thanked her.

“Look,” said the colonel, glancing out the window, “what an audience has gathered to hear you.”

And, indeed, there was quite a big crowd under the windows.

“I am very glad it gives you pleasure,” said Varenka, simply.

Kitty looked at her friend with price.  She was entranced by her art, her voice, her face, but most of all by her manner, by the fact that Varenka evidently did not think much of her singing and was completely indifferent to their praises.  All she seemed anxious to know was whether they wanted her to sing again or whether they had had enough of it.

“If it were me,” thought Kitty, “how proud I should feel!  How delighted I should be to see that crowd under the windows!  But she is quite indifferent.  All she is anxious about is not to refuse and to give Mother pleasure.  What has she got that gives her this power to disregard everything and be so serenely independent?  How I should like to know and to learn it from her!” thought Kitty, gazing into that calm face.

The princess asked Varenka to sing another song, and Varenka sang it just as calmly, distinctly and well, standing straight at the piano and beating time on it with her thin, dark-skinned hand.

The next song in the book was an Italian one.  Kitty played the prelude, and looked round at Varenka.

“Let’s skip this one,” said Varenka, blushing.

Kitty fixed her eyes anxiously and inquiringly on Varenka’s face.

“All right, another one, then,” she said hurriedly, turning over the pages and realizing at once that there was something connected with that song.

“No,” said Varenka, putting her hand on the music and smiling, “no, let’s sing that one.”

And she sang it as calmly, coolly, and well as the other songs.

When she had finished, they again thanked her and went to have tea.  Kitty and Varenka walked out into the little garden beside the house.

“Am I right in thinking that you have some memory connected with that song?” asked Kitty.  “Don’t tell me about it,” she added hurriedly.  “Only say if I am right.”

“Why ever not?  I will tell you,” said Varenka simply and, without waiting for a reply, went on: “Yes, I have.  A rather painful memory, I’m afraid.  I was in love with a man and I used to sing that song to him.”

Kitty gazed at Varenka with wide-open eyes, deeply moved and in silence.

“I loved him and he loved me, but his mother objected to our marriage and he married another.  He is living not far from us now and I see him sometimes.  You didn’t think I had had a love affair, too, did you?” she said, and on her beautiful face there was a faint glimmer of that fire which, Kitty felt, had once lighted up her whole being.

“Indeed, I did!  If I were a man I could not have loved anyone else after knowing you.  I just can’t understand how, to please his mother, he could forget you and make you unhappy.  He was quite heartless.”

“Oh no, he’s a very good man and I’m not unhappy.  On the contrary, I am very happy.  Well,” she added, going back toward the house, “I don’t suppose we shall be singing any more today.”

“Oh, you’re so good, so good!” cried Kitty and, stopping Varenka, she kissed her.  “I wish I were even a little like you!”

“Why should you be like anyone?  You’re nice as you are,” Varenka said, smiling her gentle, tired smile.

“No, I’m not nice at all.  But tell me… please, wait, let’s sit down,” said Kitty, making her sit down again on the garden seat beside her.  “Tell me, don’t you really think one ought to feel humiliated at the thought that a man has scorned your love, that he didn’t want you?”

“But he did not scorn it.  I am sure he loved me, but he was an obedient son…”

“Yes, but what if –– if he did it not because his mother did not want it but because he himself wanted it?” said Kitty, feeling that she had given away her secret and that her face, burning with shame, had already betrayed her.

“Then he would have behaved badly and I should not regret him,” replied Varenka, evidently realizing that they were not talking of her but of Kitty.

“But the humiliation?” said Kitty.  “One can’t forget the humiliation,” she said, remember the look she gave Vronsky at the ball when the music stopped.

“Where is the humiliation?  You didn’t do anything wrong, did you?”

“Worse than wrong –– shameful.”

Varenka shook her head and put her hand on Kitty’s.

“What’s so shameful about it?” she said.  “You couldn’t tell a man who was indifferent to you that you loved him, could you?”

“Of course not.  I never said a word, but he knew.  No, no!  There are looks and ways of behaving.  If I live to be a hundred I shall never forget it.”

“But why not?  I don’t understand.  Surely, the point is whether you love him now or not,” said Varenka, calling everything by its name.

“I hate him.  I can’t forgive myself.”

“Why not?”

“The shame, the humiliation.”

“Dear me,” said Varenka.  “If everyone were as sensitive as you are!  There is no girl who has not been through the same thing.  And it’s all so unimportant.”

“What then is important?” asked Kitty, looking at her face with surprised curiosity.

“Oh, lots of things,” said Varenka, smiling.

“But what?”

“Oh, lots of things are more important,” replied Varenka, not knowing what to say.

But at that moment they heard the princess’ voice from the window:

“Kitty, it’s chilly!  Either get a shawl or come back.”

“Yes, I really must be going,” said Varenka, getting up.  “I’ve still to call on Madame Bertha.  She asked me to.”

Kitty held her hand and with passionate curiosity and entreaty questioned Varenka with her eyes: “What is it, what is it that is so important?  What is it that gives you such calm?  You know, tell me!”  But Varenka did not even understand what Kitty’s eyes were asking.  She only knew that she had to call on Madame Bertha and then be back in time for tea with her maman at midnight.  SHe went in, collected her music, and having said goodbye to everyone, was about to go.

“Allow me to see you home,” said the colonel.

“Yes, indeed, you can’t go home alone at night like that,” agreed the princess.  “Let me at least send my maid Parasha with you.”

Kitty saw that Varenka could hardly restrain a smile at the suggestion that she needed anyone to escort her home.

“No, thank you,” she said, taking up her hat.  “I always go about alone and nothing ever happens to me.”

She kissed Kitty again and, without telling her what was important, walked briskly away with the music under her arm, and disappeared in the twilight of the summer night, carrying away with her the secret of what was important and what gave her that enviable calm and dignity.

Fuck the Recession/Recovery/Whatever We’re Calling Our Dismal Economic State Now

January 20, 2012

I want this crocodile-print leather coffee cup holder from Jimmy Choo, and I DESERVE IT, DAMMIT!

List Thursday

January 20, 2012

Mythical Creatures I Think Are Frontrunners to Succeed Zombies and Vampires As Protagonists in YA-Novel/Spin-off-Movie-Long Allegories of Sexual Frustration

Satyrs

Sirens

Succubi

Incubi

Faeries (but only the kind with an “e”)

Leprechauns

Unicorns (not high on the list –– too obviously phallic)

Mermaids

Genies

Gremlins

Sasquatches

Centaurs

Changelings

Cyclops

Doppelgangers (evil twins)

gnomes (remember David?!)

Phoenixes

Griffins

Goblins

Abominable Snowmen

Pixies

Shades

Quetzalcoatl

Muses (a la Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu)

Callitrix (an ape that always gives birth to twins, one it loves and one it hates –– also called a Hodag)

Oompa Loompas

Pegaeae (spring nymphs)

Psychai (Psyche’s babies)

Shedim (“chicken-legged demons”)

Poltergeists (which are specifically mischievous ghosts who move things)

Titans

Trolls

Valkyries

Menehune (Twenty bucks if you can name a television sitcom from the 80s/90s that featured menehune in an episode)

Banshees

Changelings

The Montauk Monster

Cretan Bulls

 

*Sidenote –– if you are ever bored and want to do something amusing, read Wikipedia’s alphabetical list of “Legendary Creatures.”  It is clear from reading this list that Japanese people are the craziest motherfuckers because back in the day when there weren’t things like science and Christopher Hitchens and people had to make up mystical things for fun and explanation, the Japanese made up hands down the most bizarre beings.  My favorite is definitely “Uma-no-ashi: a horse’s leg that dangles from a tree and kicks passersby.”

Good Thing I Don’t Worry About Burning Bridges

January 18, 2012

I had a dream the other night that the below stunner, Jane Friedman, who is well known in the publishing world, was trying to eat me.

And I woke up screaming and covered in sweat.

What I Did At Work Today

January 17, 2012

Drew a graph of my brain.

This Chick Totally Gets Me

January 17, 2012

So I have an essay published in an e-forum somewhere (let the scavenger hunt begin) and I must admit I’ve been reading the comments and basing my self-worth heavily on the reactions of the readers, and there’s one comment that knocked the wind out of me:

Gabriella on January 4, 2012 at 1:18 am

I am quite speechless. This is just raw. Really looking into the abyss, I’ll be damned if I didn’t get a bit of vertigo.

GABRIELLA, WHERE ARE YOU?!  It’s so clear that you totally understand me, and we were meant to be together!  Let’s shut ourselves up in my attic lair and read dark Russian literature all day and switch to French surrealism at night.  You can be the Didi to my Gogo, and I the Raskolnikov to your Sonya.  Only to you can I reveal my still-alive love of Tori Amos, and only to me can you talk candidly about the abyss.  I been there, girl.

Deserted Islands

January 13, 2012

My beloved responded to my not-so-subtle hints about wanting the beautiful book Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky and bought it for me for Christmas.  At the end of today, one in a string of many during which I’ve acutely felt the world impeding on my inner life, I am blissfully alone with this text, reading about these far-flung, windy places and imagining what it is to be one of 384 people who live on an island in the middle of a vast ocean.  It is comforting for me to think of things so small and solitary.  Unlike Ms. Schalansky, though, who gives her book the subtitle Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will, I am not willing to rule out the possibility of traveling to these desolate places, if only just to here waves breaking on dead silence.  What better soundtrack to a slumber?

ST. KILDA ISLAND

Her little illustrations are so charming.

St. Kilda –– you don’t exist.  Your name is just a faint cry made by the birds that make their home on the high cliffs at the furthest edge of the United Kingdom, beyond the outermost of the Outer Hebrides.  Only when a north-east wind prevails can the voyage even be attempted.

There are sixteen cottages, three houses and one church  in the only village on St. Kilda.  The island’s future is written in its graveyard.  Its children are all born in good health, but most stop feeding during their fourth, fifth or sixth night.  On the seventh day, their palates tighten and their throats constrict, so it becomes impossible to get them to swallow anything.  Their muscles twitch and their jaws hang loose.  Their eyes grow staring and they yawn a great deal; their open mouths stretch in mocking grimaces.  Between the seventh and the ninth day, two-thirds of the newborn babies die, boys outnumbering girls.  Some die sooner, some later: one dies on the fourth day, another not till the twenty-first.

Some say it is the diet: the fatty meat of the fulmars and their eggs smelling of musk that make the skin silky smooth but the mothers’ milk bitter.  Or that it is a result of inbreeding.  Yet others say that the babies are suffocated by the smoke from the peat fires in the middle of the rooms, or that it is the zinc in the roofs or the pale pink oil that burns in the lamps.  The islanders whisper that it is the will of the Almighty.  But these are the words of pious men.  The women who endure so many pregnancies and bear so few children who survive the eight-day sickness remain silent.

On 22 June 1876, one woman stands on the deck of a ship that is bringing her home.  Like all the women of St. Kilda, she has soft skin, red cheeks, exceptionally clear eyes and teeth like young ivory.  She has just given birth to a child, but not at home.  The wind is blowing from the north-east.  Long before she can be seen from the shore, she lifts her newborn high in the air.*

Village Bay

A difficult climb.

*The writing in this book is so eerie, oftentimes the stories seem hard to believe, so if I were you, I wouldn’t take this as straight history until yours truly fact checks it and gets back to you.  Word to the wise…

Fat People

January 11, 2012

So I am decidedly apolitical, but this picture, beneath a Times headline “South Carolina Voters Weigh Priorities,” caught my attention for just a moment before I realized that sadly, the article wasn’t about fat people voting.

I mean, cmon now...

Do you think that the photo editor has a sense of humor?  I do hope so, because G-d knows, politics would be way more exciting if people in the arena were funnier.

Busy Busy Busy

January 10, 2012

I’ve been really busy procrastinating and eating food with my boyfriend and therefore have been terrible with my blog.  For me, this means no “substantial” posts in a week, whereas I know I am (*brushes dirt off shoulders*) slightly more diligent than most “hobby” bloggers.  (Hloggers?)

Any fuck, I’m working on some really big, original pitches to the Kardashians, Vice Magazine, and an in-depth piece about the life of Britney Spears (a hagiography of sorts) but in the meantime, here’s a little snippet of an interview with one of my favorite artists, Petah Coyne.  The whole piece is worth reading, but here’s the part that I think about probably seven or eight times a day:

LT In an early piece, when you’d first moved to New York, you hung dead fish from trees around the city. Looking at photographs of the dead fish, I think, Here’s a new girl in town, walking around a strange city, seeing dead fish in stores. It’s as if you identify with them. You begin saving them, collecting them. It’s odd, because you’re collecting corpses and trying to keep the corpses from decomposing. What did you put on them?

PC We put Rhoplex on them, which didn’t preserve them. Then we used polyurethane, but if there are any air bubbles in it, the maggots still get in.

LT You hung dead fish from a tree in front of a house in the suburbs. Such a weird thing.

PC Do you think so?

LT The idea that some suburbanites would like to awaken to dead fish hanging from trees in their front yard.

PC I never assumed they wouldn’t.

LT That’s what’s strange. But you had to get the fish out of your loft; they were a health hazard.

PC After five years of living with decomposing dead fish…. But perhaps first we could talk about the fact that I almost always work intuitively. My mother trained me to trust my instincts. As I get older, I trust them more. Women have this instinctual ability to know stuff we shouldn’t know. I don’t know how. When I arrived here in New York, I worked at Chanel during the day. I did their in-house advertising. It was the height of beauty—many of the women were having their legs operated on to make them thinner—and then at night I would go and buy dead fish. I was like an alcoholic. I’d say, I’m not going to spend another cent on dead fish, but I couldn’t resist. For me, I was saving the fish from being eaten by someone. I was going to give them a better send-off. And in addition to all that, I was also working with people who were terminally ill.

LT You were working at Chanel, and you were working in a hospice?

PC I was going to Boston every other weekend. I worked for a physician there. My job was to go in and talk to his patients and listen to them, because their families couldn’t, it was too painful. I was also looking for something that was more real than what I was seeing in the galleries. I couldn’t relate to it, and I couldn’t relate to Chanel.

LT What year was this?

PC This was 1978, 1979. The gallery situation was so intimidating. Susan Lubowsky Talbott, who’s now the director of the Des Moines Art Center, also lived in this building, and she kept saying to me, “Just keep working. I don’t understand what you’re doing. And don’t try to show this stuff, nobody’s going to want to see it.” So for five years, I worked by myself. Susan kept saying, “Just keep going.” In Boston, I was working with people who’d been given a month to live. They could opt for surgery, and I could often watch the surgery, which was fascinating. There was a mourning, and other rituals similar to both Catholicism and Japanese culture, both multilayered and complex. Just as you left one layer unscathed, what you were presented with wasn’t the insight you wanted to attain, but a dozen new thoughts and questions. I was so moved by what people confided to me. The dead fish would then be as close as I could get to their passing. Many of the patients died. A few didn’t. I tried to figure out why. What was their strength? Their power? I was trying to put those thoughts and energy into my work.