Sunday, 2 December 2007

Rocket Science

The other day, Karl and I were discussing million-dollar homes. Specifically, why in the name of all things good and proper would someone with a million dollars to spend on a home would choose a run-down, two-bedroom, terraced, rat-infested toilet just because it's in the middle of a large city. Specifically, London. London is a city that always seems like one discarded prophylactic away from Victorian times. Every time I go there, I feel as though I could have been wading knee-deep through feces and murdered prostitutes as recently as last Tuesday.

A few months ago, I was dispatched to the house of a well-known and beloved athiest to deliver a manuscript. Oxford is infinitely more pleasant than London, but it still blows my mind that people of means voluntarily sandwich themselves amongst the potholes and puke puddles of urban centers when they don't have to. When I think of million dollar homes, I think of space and green and circular driveways, not wobbling through gravel and cat shit to reach the door of a whatevery brick structure that stands approximately six inches from the next whatevery brick structure. Karl said, "His neighbors can probably hear him thinking." I mean, seriously.

For a rich genius, it seems awfully stupid.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Monday, 26 November 2007


I think tomorrow I'll go for the orange lipstick.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Waxing Nonsensically and Unwhimsically About Masks Because it's Halloween or Something

I've always maintained that I am sorely lacking in star-power. Nothing about me translates into "fabulous". I know a lot of people who have it in abundance, who get showered with bursts of rose-petaled adoration by everyone from their family members to total strangers on the street, and I always watch them like a newly-hatched baby hawk. Slack-jawed. It's beautiful to contemplate, but so mysterious and incomprehensible that it might as well be quantum physics. As someone who has never made it past the first round in anything, who has plodded uninterestingly through life amongst the throngs of the profoundly ho-hum, I often find myself wondering what it's like to be so dazzling. A commander of attention. A winner of hearts. An earner of admiration. A brusher of luxurious, flowing hair. A breather through an adorable, button nose. The people who have these things aren't talking. It is the first rule of the Fabulous Code to swath oneself in silky, translucent modesty. I learned that when I was five and my best friend, Sarah, told me that my hair was prettier than hers. It wasn't true, of course--my flyaway, albino fuzz was practically dust compared to her lustrous handfuls of chestnut curls--but it was the first time I became conscious of the phenomenon, and even more conscious of the fact that I wasn't a part of it.

Honestly, it's not an affliction tragic enough to earn much sympathy. I think the main component is some kind of superhuman mental energy that I'm not even sure I'd have the strength to summon, let alone maintain. One time I watched the movie and Barbra Streisand said to Lauren Bacall, "What was it like to walk into a room and KNOW that you were the most beautiful woman in it?" and Lauren Bacall said, "It was...really nice." and I clutched my chest and went *gasp* and my eyes brimmed with tears.

And then I felt tragically stupid for the whole rest of the evening.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Spider John Koerner makes me want to marry Minnesota.

For a sleepy, snowy, non-newsworthy state, my homeland sure has produced an impressive little collection of adorably-accented people who have made my life worth living.

I got to see Spider John at a festival a couple of years ago, tucked away from the main stage in a less auspicious tent where 50 or so people sat on fold-out chairs or in the dirt. For me, he was THE stand-out in a three-day marathon of stand-outs.


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Thursday, 18 October 2007

Blessed are the weak plot lines.

Last night, I caught the last fifteen minutes of My Science Project on TV and, I have to

For one thing, I hadn't seen it (or even thought about it or even remembered that fragments of it existed in the cobwebbed annals of my memory) since about 1986. Secondly, it was really interesting to find out what happened to John Stockwell, who was everywhere in the 80's, and with whom I was, therefore, in love with by default. (According to IMDB, John Stockwell always wanted to direct.) You remember My Science Project, don't you? John Stockwell needs an A on his science project or he flunks the 12th grade? His best friend is the Italian stereotype guy? Dennis Hopper, in a wildly uproarious lapse of judgement, is the science teacher? So they go to a military junk yard and find a laser ball, the kind they sell at Spencer's? And they don’t know what the fuck it is? And they play around with it in amazement? And they figure out that it’s a time machine? And the crossroads of the space-time continuum localizes in their high school? And Dennis Hopper uses the time machine to go to Woodstock? So then they have to save the town? And John Stockwell uses his really fast car to outrun an electrical current? And then he falls in love with the nerdy girl? And in the end, he gets the A? It’s like, Weird Science minus Kelly LeBrock plus Fisher Stevens taking itself way too seriously.

It is tremendous.

It is late-night popsicle entertainment for the seasoned insomniac at it's fragrant best.

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Monday, 15 October 2007

Me and my magic man, kinda feelin' fine.

Uriah Heep and a particularly lucious week on Geekologie (the headline of this entry alone was enough to reduce me to a spasming pile of high-pitched, wheezy, inhaler-giggles) has made for the most pleasant Monday that I can remember in a while. It's all downhill from here, of course, but at least I can revel in my own, personal feel-good cache of opulent cheese for a few brief moments before succumbing to "Come on, your knees don't hurt that much, do they?" personal-trainer hell.

Whilst cleaning out the refrigerator this weekend, the OM and I were waxing lyrical about what makes the music of the not-born-yet(-or-just-too-little-to-care)bygone era so vastly superior to anything else in the history of the universe. We came up with a lot of things, but my favorite was the assertion that even the most cheesy, horrible, commercial, vulgar display of shallow musical trickery could still be rocked out to, and with minimal guilt.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Sick and tired. And bored.

I meant to work on The Screenplay today. I really did. I suppose taking an Alan Lomax book into the bathtub with me could qualify as research, but really, I could have accomplished so much more. Granted, it's only 4:30, but let's face it--there is laundry to be folded. Dinner to eat. The new episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm to watch. Nails to paint. Playlists to re-shuffle. All of that stuff takes time. Anal-retentive, painstaking time.

Every year, as soon as the temperature drops below 60F, every non-fatal malady on the British Isles makes a beeline for my immune system. While I appreciate the brief escape from the woes of every day life and the opportunity to pursue much more worthwhile projects (in theory), I can't stand being sick. I feel like it takes away too many options. No, I probably wouldn't have gone skydiving today anyway, but I'd like to think that, if the urge suddenly overtook me, I wouldn't be locked down by my body's steadfast commitment to overproducing phlegm. And, as much as every day life makes me crazy, it almost makes me crazier when I can't be a part of it. I'm just sure that the one day I miss will be the day something fabulous finally happens.

I have only this to say about daytime TV: I think public marriage proposals may have taken over from men spitting on the street as my number-one pet peeve. Who honestly believes that is a good idea? Who looks forwared to telling their children and grandchildren that one of their most personally significant moments took place on a JumboTron? Or in front of a hooting studio audience? And why do major television networks think it's a good idea to "surprise" people with a wedding ceremony? That really confuses me, because if ANYONE had come up to me and said, "You're getting married tomorrow! And here's the dress you'll be wearing! And here are your rings! And there will be a cake or something, don't worry! Just pretend the cameras aren't there!", I'd have had a brain hemorrhage. Yet, these women all wax glowingly rhapsodic about how they felt like princesses and couldn't have asked for a more perfect day and it was like a fairy tale and bleat bleat bleat. They're not even a little irritated about it? They're not experiencing even the tiniest shred of famewhore panic? I find that hard to believe.

Maybe the problem is that I don't really get weddings in general. I mean, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed mine. Once we got to the restaurant and I was able to take the heels off and have a shot of whiskey, of course.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Ya sure you betcha.

I've been flat on my back all day with a fever, totally entranced by a season 2 marathon of Who Do You Think You Are?. Who Do You Think You Are? is one of those shows that reinforces the BBC's reputation of creating television viewing experiences that are, truly, high-end kickass. Celebrities (most of whom, with the exceptions of Stephen Fry and my "distinguished gray" fantasy-crush Jeremy Paxman, I've never heard of) trace their genealogies back through several generations and find out who sympathized with the Nazi party or worked as a prostitute in Victorian London or what have you. It's absolutely riveting, and it has fed my already healthy genealogy fetish sufficiently enough to justify forking over for a membership on Bless techology.

Genealogy fetishes run in my family. There is a stunningly extensive photograph collection of stern-faced, pale, Scandinavian people scattered throughout my mother's house, including a beautiful portrait of Great Grandma Hilde as a teenager, before she immigrated to America from Norway. She's swathed in black petticoats, a Mona Lisa grin touching the corners of her mouth, her thin, light hair spilling over her shoulders. People always think that it's a picture of me dressed up for one of those goofy, old-timey joke photos. I've always loved the fact that I look freakishly like her. And I've always wondered if, had she been clairvoyant enough to know that her great-grandkid would come out looking freakishly like her, she would have loved it a little bit also.

On the 1910 federal census, Great Uncle Rolf is listed as being 5 years old and named "Ralph". Maybe he told the census-taker that his cat's breath smells like cat food.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Dizzy Nerdorama

I love going to class. I love saying “I’m going to class.” I’ve loved it ever since University, when I used to tear into the new course listings every quarter in a manner not dissimilar to the way I salivate over the menu at Greenwood’s whenever I visit my brother in Atlanta. I’ve always had a strong penchant for situations where people in positions of authority are legally obligated to be nice to me, but even my raging case of Teacher’s Pet Syndrome is but a pebble on the vast, pebble-strewn beach of reasons why I love going to class.

I love all of the trappings. The syllabi. The lists. The notes. The new pen that glides across the pages of a dazzlingly empty notebook, which have both been purchased mere hours before during a giddy stationery-shop spree. I love the stationery shop, but I don’t often buy anything in it because I’m self-flagellating about (pretty much everything, including) spending money on items that do not directly contribute to my survival. But if there’s a class…a shiny, new, desk-and-eraserboard class…the shelves of notebooks are laid out before me like tantalizing, necessary candy, dripping vibrant colors and patterns all over my solar plexus and drawing me into the world of infinite, borderless possibility. It doesn’t matter that, within three months’ time, the notebook will join its psychedelically-painted brethren in the graveyard of unfinished business at the bottom of my bookshelf while I work through another bout of self-loathing. No. That isn’t even a thought right now. All that matters are the college-ruled stars in my eyes and the brilliant, beautiful words that I haven’t yet written, but just know that this time I will. Possibility never looks tarnished.

I love knowing things I didn't know a half an hour ago. I love going back over what I've written and figuring out how I can apply it and revelling in its sense of promise. It's pure raw potential, a new horizon, momentarily breaking free from a self-imposed prison of boredom and doubt. I love listening when somebody knows something that I want to know. I love feeling like I'm being told something useful, a phenomenon that occurs increasingly rarely in my everyday life. I love a new book, the weight of it in my hands, the way I just want to consume it all at once like a mouthful of steak and mashed potatoes.

I hate homework, though.

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Thursday, 27 September 2007

Eight is the dorkiest number that I ever did.

1. All right, here are the rules.
2. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
3. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
4. People who are tagged write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
5. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Second, of the magnificent bloggers to the left, a whole two of them know and/or care that I exist. One of them is the steaming-hot mass of awesomeness who tagged me. The other one is the steaming-hot mass of awesomeness named Mary. So I will tag her. And her alone. This meme dies with me.

As you can see,

1. I am a rule-breaker. As you can also see, however, this is not because I'm a minxy rebel who drips charming irreverence in my freshly-cut path; it's just that I am too lazy and/or ambivalent and/or unsavvy to adhere to very many rules.

2. I have a passion for raw fish that truly pushes the limits of culinary decency. The displays at the fish counter in Sainsburys make me drool. And, as I press my nose longingly against the iced glass, all I can hear is John Bender's nostril-flaringly indignant, "You won't accept a guy's tongue in your mouth and you're gonna eat that?"

3. The single greatest thing anyone has ever said to me is:Being with you is like being in a bad Fellini movie.

4. I sincerely believe that, with the exception of John Mayall's albums from the late sixties and early seventies, saxophone solos lame up just about every rock and roll song they touch. "Sweet Virginia" by the Rolling Stones is a perfect example. Just as it's approaching its hair-swinging, foot-stomping crescendo, the sax blows in and sends the whole thing spiraling down into the cheddar-scented bowels of Lamesville, like that one overbearing, talentless guy who always ruins open-mike night.

5. The second greatest thing anyone has ever said to me is: Of course I remember you!

6. I don't think Woody Allen did anything wrong and I love him and Mia Farrow is a psycho bitch and he's a genius and he's handsome and shut up and I love him and no, he has NOT sucked for the last fifteen years and his glasses are sexy and I love him and will he marry me?

7. I'm a retard. I got the tiny scar under my chin when I fainted after holding my breath for too long whilst trying to fight a particularly stubborn case of the hiccups. True story.

8. Brigitte Bardot deserves a little respect. Hear me out. She's gotten a lot of flak for being a homophobic, xenophobic, racist harpy mainly because she is a homophobic, xenophobic, racist harpy. But I saw an interview the other night in which she addressed her infamous comments by simply shrugging her aged shoulders and saying, "Look, I just hate people in general. I've been used, hurt, manipulated, taken advantage of and disappointed by people my whole life. And I hate them." Now THAT is what I call self-awareness. It doesn't make her any less sad, but I can't help but feel a pang of respect for someone who really knows where their shit comes from.

Mary, I tag you out of love. The love I have for your writing. And for you. Won't you please come back.

There, I did it!

And I've got to say, I feel a little dirty.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Avoid Boring People (elementary, my dear Watson)

You never stop outgrowing shit. Sometimes it matters and sometimes it just fades out like a radio signal. There’s no heady, explosive epiphany that gets burnt into the pages of your encyclopaedia, no birth, no death, no sirens, no Hallelujah chorus. I couldn’t tell you the precise moment I stopped rapturously sprinting down the Barbie aisle at Toys ‘r’ Us, or thinking that Top 40 radio was worth listening to. Those things were there, and then they weren’t. When you’re a kid, though, you can zip through a rapid-fire succession of dizzy phases and nobody so much as blinks an eye. It’s a lot harder to let go of something that has long outlived its usefulness to you when you’re in your thirties. Eyebrows are raised. You feel obligated to explain yourself. You don’t want to confuse or inconvenience anyone.

I miss the old days. I miss announcing that I now wished to marry Ralph Macchio instead of John Schneider, taping a new Tiger Beat centerfold to my bedroom ceiling, and just assuming that everyone around me would figure out a way to deal with it. I long for that kind of freedom again.

Good manners can feel like a prison sentence.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Lovely Luciano

Goodbye, Luciano Pavarotti. To a life beautifully spent.

You will remain forever etched in our cultural history not only as a voice but also as the only famous living Italian never to appear on The Sopranos.


Monday, 3 September 2007

Post Vacation

And feeling every penny.

My first run in six days was apocalyptic. By the 25-minute mark, I felt like I was going to hurl any second, and I was gasping and moaning and sweating except in a very, very bad way. I had to walk for two minutes before my heart stopped feeling like it was going to leap out of my chest and splat against the mirrors. Then I blew out my knees. Thanks, genetics!

So now is the post-vacation sag. I mean. One day off of work so that I can spend 72 hours with my in-laws in North Wales ain't exactly two weeks in the Bahamas, right, but I think the key idea is extricating yourself from the sinkhole of the every day and changing scenery. And North Wales is nothing if not a drastic change of scenery. It really took the edge off.

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To capture what I fear to be a most fleeting yet exquisite case of mellow, please join me in marvelling at the hazy, drug-fuelled landscape of stoned madness that was children’s programming in the 1970s. You'll never be able to take the Oscars seriously again (in the highly unlikely event that you did in the first place.)

Friday, 17 August 2007

Sam's Creek Blues

I never used to drink beer. I preferred the far more efficient (if less sociable) gin approach. I kept bottles of Fosters in the fridge anyway, though, because my co-workers tended to drop by a lot, and they were beer guys, back-slappin' Southerners in flip flops, and we'd sit out on my balcony in plastic chairs and I'd chain smoke and they'd take long, cold draws and make me laugh about whatever was upsetting me, if there happened to be something upsetting me, which there usually was. I never drank it myself, though. Then, one time, totally out of the blue, and for no reason apart from Jerry Douglas's dobro, the inkling took hold of me and I sat out in the plastic chairs alone, taking long, cold draws and watching the sun go down over the Atlanta Highway.

I remember flying down Vaughn Road with the windows down and Bruno’s bags full of Healthy Choice turkey dinners defrosting in the back seat with this blasting, blasting, blasting so loudly that I could feel it in the backs of my thighs. And it’s acoustic.

Little pockets of happiness filled with fairy dust and zing. Frozen forever in suspended, rose-colored animation, just how I like it.

I can't help missing the days when I didn't really have a mindset.

Now, I’m overtaken with homicidal rage the second I set foot inside a grocery store. Screaming hellions ripping things from the shelves while their corpulent mothers jiggle ineffectually after them. Overpriced slop, rotting vegetables. Mushy, brown apples.

Lettuce used to taste as luxuriously symphonic as raw honeycomb and cream cheese.

This must be one of the crappiest places in the western world.

Ah, songs.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007


Back when spell-check was a thrilling new concept with virtually endless entertainment possibilities, my friend and I entered the name of every family member, musician, band, celebrity, lowlife, acquaintence, historical figure, city name and dead politician we could think of into auto-correct. Something, and I can’t remember what, was auto-corrected to "Ripping Sensual Funghi." Those three words moved me so much that I vowed right then and there that I would find a way to incorporate them into as much as possible as often as possible as long as I remained on this good Earth.

Today, one more teenage dream came true.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Lookit Muy (for what else can the title be?)

I should peer out from under life’s gray straightjacket a little more often, because I almost always end up getting clocked across the jaw by a gun butt of pure, uncut sunshine.

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That’s right! New series! Woot woot! *mixing it up*

To the other, non-Australian reader of this blog, I implore you…familiarize yourself with the bottomless well of asthma-attack gasp-laughter that is Kath & Kim . Post-haste. I haven't been so delighted from down under since I was eleven and Paul Hogan corrected my fellow countrymen’s typically-inferior knife-identification skills.

Plus, this little tidbit of information

…the fourth season will introduce characters played by…Little Britain's Matt Lucas

made me emit the involuntary, ecstatic moan of a rapture frenzy which is not always advisable in an open-plan office situation but I am JUST! THAT!! EXCITED!!!

Happy legal viewing, Australia! And to the rest of us…by any means necessary, okay?*


*I do not officially condone the viewing of ill-gotten torrents hint hint wink wink call me I'll love you forever.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Mike Gordon Meandering

I like Mike Gordon's hotline.

I like Mike Gordon's hotline in the same way that I like Mike Gordon's music. Quietly, and with shame. And then more shame about the original shame. And a couple minutes of wondering just how big a tool I actually am. And then a mini-exsitential crisis. Followed by a little more shame.

I mean, the man actually has a hotline. I think he just likes to record himself. But then, that's the basis of any musician's career. Why I am inclined to hold that against him remains a mystery so deeply buried within my psyche that it must be intertwined with some kind of womb issue. There's no other explanation. After all, music the one aspect of my personality that I've never felt the need to beg forgiveness for. I'm one of those people that would marry albums if they'd let me. Cosmic Slop. Head Hunters. Axis: Bold As Love. Forever Changes. A Space In Time. Can't Buy A Thrill. Joe's Garage. Houses of the Holy. Pearl. I'd have a dress and a cake and a priest and bridesmaids and black calla lilies and I'd be the worst polygamist on the planet and they'd do a documentary on me for the Discovery Channel. I'd load them all onto my iPod and take them to Costa Rica for our honeymoon. I love music with irrational intensity. I'm not even embarrassed about wanting to have seventeen babies with Alvin Lee based solely upon his guitar solo in "I'm Going Home." Genius has always been like a giant, phallic death ray.(Call me, Alvin!) And I don't just mean wirey, nubile Woodstock Alvin, either. Present-day, chubby, leather-vest, grandfather Alvin has only to say the word. (Seriously. Call me.)

I sincerely believe that the precedent I set when I was four years old and choreographed an interpretive dance routine to express my love for Chuck Mangione's Children of Sanchez should have negated any embarrassment that may have gotten in the way of flinging my soul at Mike Gordon's feet the first time I heard "Clone". Besides, he's never accepted a knighthood or married a Playmate or collaborated with anybody who used to be in a boy band. He hasn't been clubbing in L.A. without panties on. He hasn't allowed reality T.V. cameras to follow him around with a microphone pack poking out of his trousers. He's never asked me to accept public intoxication as an indicator of his artistic credibility. By all accounts, I should be offering up my ovaries to him by now. Why? Why can't I do it? What is standing in my way? Why is his hotline a covert morning ritual that makes my face turn hot with chagrin despite the fact that I'm religious about it because it always makes me giggle?

Like everything else Gordonesque, I have no idea. Part of me finds it extremely suspect that he would maintain a hotline for the specific purposes of recording his "like, duuuuude" verbal swaggering in the first place. Something in me snaps into the fetal position when I think about the hundreds of fans who call in and listen to it and leave him breathless messages, the contents of which I can't even bear to think about. It also bothers me that I am one of them, even though I NEVER HAVE AND WILL press nine to leave a message OR the pound sign for more options. Okay, maybe I did the pound sign thing once. Just to see what would happen. And then hung up in such a panic that I knocked over my paperclip holder. Maybe. But I keep doing it anyway, because I can't resist the pull of his relaxed timber and his sweet, conversational, it's-three-in-the-morning-and-I've-just-finished-off-a-bottle-of-gin musings. I still like hearing American accents as long as they're not yelling "OOOH! KICKASS! THEY HAVE KFC!" when I'm trying to walk downtown. Plus, he's funny. Plus, there are books I want to read now because he keeps recommending ones that sound interesting. I don't know if I'll ever get around to it since the mere notion of buying a book that I know I am buying specifically because it was recommended to me by Mike Gordon via his hotline fills me with so much dread that I'm sure I'd run screaming from the checkout line at Borders, if I even made it that far, but still, I like it. It's nice. And horrible. And nice.


Reason continues to elude me. Thanks, Mike Gordon. Am I being sarcastic? To quote Random Grunge Kid in the classic Simpsons Homerpalooza episode, I don't even know anymore.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

I think I need a honky-tonk vacation.

I am kind of wondering if I should lean more toward biker-chickdom in accordance with my 3rd-decade metamorphosis plan, even though I’ve only been on a motorcycle once in my life and it scared the bejeezus out of me. I really like tattoos and leather. Plus, I already talk like one, so it would be a bonus to have my appearance more accurately reflect my proclivity for effword usage.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Someone needs a nap.

I never cease to be amazed at how busy I am. I keep stepping back, trying to re-asses, economize, work out where corners can be cut and time can be saved. I’m a bare-minimum gal, after all. I always have been. I’ve never subscribed to the philosophy of overachievement. Even "achievement" is a bit of a stretch for me. I mean, sure, I complain about being a thirty-two year-old minion and blah blah blah no respect and blee blee blee waste of college degree and bloo bloo bloo no intellectual stimulation whatsoever but I suppose the flat truth of the matter is that if I really wanted to be the Senior Commissioning Editor and BFFs with all of the Lord Snotburies and Professor Sir Dookiepantses in this entire town, I could be. It would require a whole lot more effort at work, though, and a lot less watching of humorous talking-dog videos on YouTube when I’m supposed to be attending departmental briefings, so at the end of the day, I'm not sure how worth the effort it would be. Not that the Senior Commissioning Editors don’t do more jerking off under their desks than I could ever hope to dream about, but then of course I don’t have a misleadingly prestigious-sounding degree and practicable oral sex skills.

Why are so many people so anxious to entrust so many things to a person with this much apathy? I think that says more about them than it does about me.


Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Adventures of an Italanglimerican Asthmatic

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I do not, and may never, posses the superb, succinct verbal-dagger artistry of the most recent object of my swooning fandom, but I'll self-consciously throw myself into the murky depths of Michael Moore bandwagonism nonetheless.

It's very difficult to ascertain exactly what the arguments against Moore's new film, Sicko, are. The summation of the preceding "journalistic report" to the instantly classic, 10-minute Moore diatribe on CNN was essentially, "Michael Moore is right. Our health care system sucks. Here is some stuff that may or may not look kind of sort of sketchy if you squint your eyes really hard and spin around three times while holding your nose and downing a fifth of vodka. In sum: he's right." But I think--I think--the vapors that Big Pharmacy are desperately grasping at can be summarized in the jerkoff Hannity & Combs piece that my husband sent to me at work this afternoon:

1. Americans have the shortest waiting periods EVER!
2. Nations with socialized medicine pay so many taxes that working people have live in shacks and eat dirt and sing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" while drug addicts and gypsies eat caviar and take money baths!
3. The cases Michael Moore features in his movie are isolated and never actually happen in real life!

A personal-experience rebuttal might not be the most statistically effective, but dammit, I know I'm right, so here it is.

A signifiant chunk of the four and a half years I spent living as an adult in my home country are wacky, free-wheelin', students-with-no-health-insurance anecdotes. It was all very fun and Kerouacian until the end of my first semester at college, when I thought I was going to die because I have asthma and couldn't come up with the $250 I needed for that month's medication. My (goddess of a) doctor managed to amass a grocery bag full of drug company samples--tiny little inhalers worth about ten good squirts each--to hold me over until the next semester's worth of academic scholarship money came through. Had it not been for her generous resourcefulness, I would have been in serious trouble, and what followed were four long years of similarly touch-and-go, cloak-and-dagger rain dancing to keep me from suffocating in my sleep. And trust me--it was very, very far from isolated.

When I arrived in England, ignorant of just about every facet of English life and receiving little help from my similarly befuddled boyfriend (who was still a fairly recent arrival from Italy), I lost many, many hours of sleep panicking about what was going to happen to me when my medication ran out. I'd heard vague rumors about the NHS, but I wasn't married yet, and only in England on a temporary six-month visa that did not, as far as I knew, entitle me to any citizenship rights, whatever they might have been. I wasn't allowed to work. I had virtually nothing. All I knew was that everything seemed to be about a hundred times more expensive and, if that also applied to medication, I was well and truly fucked.

After putting off the inevitable until the last minute, I braced myself and registered at our local National Health Service clinic. Name. Nationality. Contact phone number. Known medical issues. "Asthma", I wrote shakily, feeling like I was filing for bankruptcy.

"Let's set up an assessment," the receptionist chirped. "Say, tomorrow at 11?" (Total waiting time--approximately 21 hours.)

I couldn't bring myself to ask her how much it was going to cost.

The next day, I submitted to the usual peak flow tests and symptom-trigger questions, the cash register in my mind chinging madly with every word that came out of the doctor's mouth. He handed me a prescription containing the Anglicanized versions of all the necessary preventative and rescue meds, and I made my way to reception with my credit card clutched in a sweaty palm, praying that they accepted credit cards that may or may not have been maxed out.

The receptionist looked surprised to see me standing there. "Do you need another appointment?"

"No, I need," I choked.

She looked utterly confounded. "Pay for what?"

"The doctor?"



And it went on like that for a couple of passes until she was able to identify my accent.

"Oh, you're American, aren't you?" Bless her. Trying so hard not to laugh.

And, I must say...five years on, and I'm a full-fledged legal immigrant with a big-girl job and an easy familiarity with the NHS system, and I still can't help but feel like a cat burglar every time I skip out of there without greasing any palms.

I learned about prescription costs in a similarly embarrassing fashion. I was moaning to a patron of the pub I worked in, and I said, "I have these prescriptions to get filled, but I'm broke! I'm going to die or something!"

"No, it's not so bad. They'll cost £6."

"What? Why? Do you have asthma too?"

"All prescriptions cost £6, no matter what it's for." Unspoken subtext: "Oh, you're American, aren't you?"

As I struggled maintain nonchalance while the Hallelujah Chorus resounded in my head, I went home and slept the first night of beautiful sleep I'd had in months. And I kissed the sky and did bell kicks all the way there. I mean seriously, you can't imagine. After four years of life/death constantly in the back of my mind,it was better than winning the lottery.

These days, my monthly NHS contribution is automatically deducted from my paycheck. If it was so astronomical that it actually affected me in some way, I'd be able to tell you exactly how much it is, but it doesn't, so I can't. If I'm drowning in taxes, I guess my nice life and I are just too busy enjoying unobstructed breathing to notice.

I'm aware that the system isn't perfect. I'm aware of the issues, and there certainly are issues. But when you're young and sick and frightened--terrified--and you don't know where your next breath is coming from, and then, for the first time in your life, you're told that everything is going to be okay, and then it IS okay, and you weep with relief...your punching fist tends to want to penetrate your computer screen and shove itself down Sean Hannity's knobby little throat.

And, today, an Australian puppy is spared.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Take a walk on the wild side.

I feel just terrible about not posting in this blog more often since I discovered that people actually look at it. O, flags-of-English-speaking-countries-round-the-world-and-also-Poland, how you do bring out the responsibility in me! What to say without being is indeed a slippery slope. But I'll get there. Soon. Very soon. Sooner than you can say "Embedding Youtube videos gives the illusion of worthiness."

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Will the cycle be unbroken?

And, what ho! Cycling season is upon me. It is time once again to walk the bike up the road to the Local Villiage Grumpy-Assed Bike Shoppe (Where Your Custom is Our Inconvenience) for a once-over before I jump into another summer of swallowing mosquitoes and getting flipped off by bus drivers. Woo! It doesn’t seem like it could have possibly been a year ago since I last did this, but it has. The first couple of rides of the cycling season are always so exhilarating. Look at me! I'm health conscious! Excercising at 7 in the morning! Whilst saving the environment! I deserve accolades! ACCOLADES! It gets old really quickly, though. Old, hot and uncomfortable. Old, hot, uncomfortable and worrying. I worry about the fact that I’ve had no major spills (excepting the time during my first cycling season when I was menaced by a man with a lawn mower). Everybody who cycles between towns has some kind of horror story about being chased down by crack-smokers or going head-over-handlebars into a pile of rocks or being side-swiped by traffic. I am shadowed, everywhere I huff and puff, by the overwhelming sense that I am due.

There is a gig tonight. It’s at the pub I don’t like, the boring one, but I feel as if I have to go, and it actually will be the first viable opportunity I’ve had to get a full evenings’ use out of the beautiful camera Bubba gave me for my birthday.

I’m all about positive negativity.

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Wednesday, 2 May 2007

It's called "Flying the Flag" and I found it on Ebay.

My internet radio station turns into hair metal after 1:30 PM because I'm pretty sure that's when the guy wakes up, goes down to his basement and starts making it all about his lost youth. Right now, I’m being subjected to “Bringing On The Heartbreak” by Def Leppard, but I'm tired and I just can’t be bothered to perform the complex operation of expansions and contractions that would be required to take my earphones out.

Sheesh…KROKUS? Were they even a band? I thought they were just a bad dream I had when I was twelve and fell asleep watching Headbanger’s Ball when it was hosted by Adam Curry. This is like The Scorpions meets Foreigner over at Tom Jones’ house and yet, YET, I still can’t seem to gather the strength to rip the offending appendages from my ear canals. This station is such a different animal in the morning. “Seasons” by Dave Mason followed by “Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton followed by “Never Been Any Reason” by Head East followed by “Ah Leah” by Donnie Iris followed by “Dreamweaver” by Gary Wright followed by “Home Tonight” by Boston followed by “I Love You” by Climax Blues Band and really, that’s about as close to perfect as a radio station can get. “I Love You” by the Climax Blues Band ALONE is worth every sullen moment I've ever had in life, and if you think I'm going to be embarrassed about loving it or owning the album on vinyl or slow-dancing with my pillow to it, then you obviously aren't familiar the ridicule-withstanding capacity I have when it comes to embarrassing music.

All right, that does it. I draw the line at Guns ‘n’ Roses “I Used To Love Her”. The earphones are coming out. So long, internet radio station out of Madison, Wisconsin. See your automated DJ, who has better taste in music than your human DJs, tomorrow morning, at which time I expect to be showered with heavy doses of semi-categorizable late-seventies weirdness that was probably forgotten for a very good reason…a reason that is clearly lost on me because I think it rules.

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These sort of afternoons make me feel so willfully twisted, like the universe trying to point me in the right direction but I keep on buying diet Cokes and having a desk job. And I always picture “The Universe” as a Daddy/God with a long white beard, but instead of robes, he’s got on a Hog Papa t-shirt and is holding a bottle of schlivovitz.

Monday, 23 April 2007


I shall dwarf the brilliance of every other blog ever written in the history of the Universe with my witty, perceptive, socially relevant observational banter! I'll only admit being a tool for pop culture if it makes me seem retro (my favorite Golden Girl is Rose!) and/or cool (my favorite type of music is obscure 1960's garage psyche!) I'll only post pictures of myself that are high-contrast and so flattering that you can barely tell it's a person!

Maybe I give up.

We'll see.

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