Sunday, December 13, 2009

Watched- Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Penelope Cruz at the 81st Academy AwardsImage via Wikipedia
Despite its irritating title, the very fact that "Barcelona" featured in it made me want to watch this movie. And of course, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem- come on! This is basically a neat, good-natured Woody Allen film about relationships and a kind of unpretentious slice-of-life story. The two girls, Vicky and Cristina, are spending a summer in Barcleona. The somewhat starchy Vicky is getting her Ph.D in "Catalan identity" (!) and Cristina is, well, just drifting.
No sooner do they settle down in the palatial home of Vicky's aunt, that they run into Juan Antonio, an artist, who promptly propositions them both as soon as they meet. Without getting into the details, the rest of the film tells the story of the many relationships between each of the characters. Then there is Maria Elena, Juan Antonio's ex-wife: moody, tempestuous, gorgeous, and utterly unforgettable. Penelope Cruz is stupendous. The scene where she speaks contemptuously about the new woman in her ex-husband's life is the best in the movie- it's full of electricity and intimacy.
But there is the fact that there is a rather distracting, fifties-style narration voice over which I didn't know what to make of. It's so over the top that you end up forgiving it as Woody Allen's indulgence, but I'm still not sure. Poor Scarlett Johansson as Cristina gets overshadowed by the earthy brilliance that drips from both Cruz and Bardem. Rebecca Hall who plays Vicky is also sidelined. The two Spaniards are so gifted. It's a crime, almost.
All in all, I would rate the movie as interesting and watchable. Not brilliant, but easy. Of course, it has brought to light my rapidly developing girl-crush on Cruz, but what can one do. There is the impossible Javier, too, to deal with. Sigh. Besides all the achingly familiar landmarks of Barcelona and the haunting strains of Spanish guitar (they seem to have a real guitarist problem in that country).
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

The travel monologue

The bus ride to and from work can be anything from a breeze to a soul-crushing odyssey, depending on traffic. Also, a lot of your mental health during the ride depends on the bus-driver's choice of radio station. Mostly, it's that station where the RJ insists on talking at a speed of 4000 words a minute, because, as she keeps saying, it's music for the 'fatafat' generation. Much worse is on some mornings when there is a particular lady who answers interview questions and then picks THE worst songs written in the history of Kannada films. These er....songs...are enough to make me want to hurl myself out of the thick glass windows, or failing that, at least bang my head against them several times until I fall, senseless, to the floor. Fortunately, owing to an attack of conscience, the newspaper boy now brings the paper really early and on most mornings I can hide in my copy of the Times.

Then there are the conductors. There is one lady, who with her sweetly bobbed hair and girlish smile, bowls you over. But, mind it, she's a terror. "Tickettsoo!!" she trumpets, galumphing like a matriach elephant charging down the Serengeti... she even hangs out of the door and yells at the traffic cop for doing a poor job of controlling the pedestrians! And then there is the one who charges me 25 instead of the usual 30 for my route. We have a secret understanding. Sometimes he won't make eye contact and says, deadpan, "30 rupees please." I, shattered at this fall from grace, hand him a 100. Then he hands me back 75 in change and gives me a quick, conspiratorial grin, seen by no-one else, and all is right in the world again.

But the worst scourge of all on this earth are the gropers. Fortunately, they don't exist on my regular bus. But once or twice when it gets really crowded, it does happen- or tries to, at least. There was this recent incident where I said, loudly, to the creep who was inching closer and closer, "Move BACK please. Don't TOUCH me." And, miraculously after that, he suddenly found room to stand in a manner where we weren't in intimate physical contact. It also helped that every other woman on board turned around and gave him a nasty look. Ha, Take that, fool. Next time, it'll be an elbow in your face!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Silent Steak

Finally, Tango has a new collar. And, quite a collar it is- the largest one I found in the store. It's a shiny blue and you can see it for miles. However, the father harrumphed about it being a 'girly' collar- excuse me, it's blue, not pink- the usual crotchety response; I'm sure he is secretly thrilled that his beloved dog finally got rid of his ratty old collar and now looks like a pet from a khaata- peeta- gharana.

But the real highlight of the gifts Tango got this time was the Steak. A cleverly crafted piece of rubber-plastic that looks exactly like a steak, it was the ideal toy for this usually toy-less dog, and what's more, it squeaked, rather loudly, every time he stepped on it. Well, who knows what happened the morning after he got it, because he got in a proper frenzy and started to gallop with it in his mouth, in circles around the dining table. The steak would squeak frantically every time Tango pushed it, and the more it squeaked, the more he pushed, all the while haring around the table like a thing possessed. We even heard a dull thud as he banged his head on the edge of the table, but he was undeterred. Finally, silence. Then a pathetic sighing- the squeaking mechanism had been broken.

After that, he is no longer as frenzied, but the steak still gets a good shaking every time he plays with it. Now it just sighs, resigned to its fate.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Gobble gobble

With Thanksgiving around the corner, J got into the spirit of things and decided to roast a turkey. Of course, this meant actually finding a turkey to roast; and as with the simplest things in Bengaluru, this task has taken on the mystic charm of an old-fashioned treasure hunt.

There is that mad vet who used to take care of my ex-roomate's dog, I remembered. He had a turkey farm on the side. But getting his number would be a challenge. We also tried the mundane option of asking at the supermarket. Not convinced by the wishy-washy answers, J made inquiries with a co-worker of his, known to be a resourceful type. This young fellow and J met at work one day to discuss this- they talked in low whispers and vague terms, all with the intrigue and drama of two drug dealers. Then a few days later, young fellow announces that he has managed to get a friend of his, who incidentally goes by the name of Tango, to recommend us to another friend who can get us a turkey.

So tomorrow I will have the task of calling this other friend- who knows what his name is? Charlie? Delta? ...anyway, I suppose all this hunting around will be worth it. J is a good roaster of birds and I've never co-hosted Thanksgiving before.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Readings

Vintage crime it is. From the moment J handed me Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep I knew I had found the genre I've always loved without knowing- Vintage Crime. I went through the Big Sleep on the rather tedious journey to and from the workplace, (thank god for Vajra buses) and as a result sometimes became mildly befuddled about who was chasing or shooting whom. However, it gave me the very satisfactory feeling of having bitten into something really juicy.
And now it is the classic Maltese Falcon.-what's not to love? 1940s San Fransisco (a city I'll always love in a special way since having its night-time fog and ocean mists described to me by J), Sam Spade, and lots of classic intrigue.
Even if I have to read it during a bus journey that takes an hour and a half to cover 14 kilometers. I suppose it's the only thing that's kept me sane.
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

We, as adults, understand neither the power nor the fragility of childhood. And putting pain in a child's eyes is our worst act.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It is in everyone


Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate but that we are powerful beyond measure.It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.Your playing small does not serve the world.There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.It is not just in some; it is in everyone.And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same.As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.- From 'A return to love' by Marianne Williamson

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Children in a field

Fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) flowers i...Image via Wikipedia

They don't wade in so much as they are taken.
Deep in the day, in the deep of the field,
every current in the grasses whispers hurry
hurry, every yellow spreads its perfume
like a rumor, impelling them further on.
It is the way of girls, it is the sway
of their dresses in the summer trance-
light, their bare calves already far-gone
in green. What songs will they follow?
Whatever the wood warbles, whatever storm
or harm the border promises, whatever
calm. Let them go. Let them go traceless
through the high grass and into the willow-
blur, traceless across the lean blue glint
of the river, to the long dark bodies
of the conifers, and over the welcoming
threshold of nightfall.
~Angela Shaw

This poem has a soft, lyrical quality that drew me in immediately. I love "willow-blur" and "summer trance-light."
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Friday, June 12, 2009

En Espana



We walked into the bookstore opposite our hotel one day and felt like we'd come upon a cave of wonders. Only thing is, most books were in Spanish, so there was that little hurdle. Still, the smell of thousands of volumes, some dusty with age, was a delight in itself.
Also a delight was the textbook-perfect old gentleman, sitting there like he was born one day miraculously in the middle of these 10,000 books on a small street in Barcelona. We diffidently asked him the price of this marvelous old newspaper from 1942 and he barked the answer at us. Then we browsed for half an hour more and when we went back he was sitting there ready to wrap it up for us.
Two people have asked us why we have this framed at home. Why? Because it is INEXPLICABLY COOL, that's why. Also, it is our one and only souvenir from Spain. So it deserves a prominent place in our castle.
Price: 3 euros.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Barca and bocadillos


May 16


When you open the big, heavy door to our hotel (each guest has a key) you enter this grand marble hallway with some grand marble stairs up ahead. Oddly enough, there's also an elevator that looks incongrous- but it's for the residents of the other floors of this building, they live here and there's a row of mailboxes in a corner. This adds to the illusion that we're actually locals here.


We walked all the way down to the water after breakfast. A slighly uninspiring waterfront, this section at least, a bit industrial looking. And we found a lovely plaza that we later came to know as the Placa Reial- a beautiful big plaza with a fountain in the middle and a graceful ochre yellow building to one side. It's lined with rather touristy cafes and restaurants, but with this heavenly sunset, the palm trees and a 400 year old fountain, who really cares if there are tourists? Speaking of the sunset, it got dark only after 9pm. Having got used to the tropics of namma Bangalore, this is a nice change especially because the light at this time of year is so very pleasing.


There are several Indian boys walking around selling fat red roses for a Euro each. There are also Indian boys walking up and down the Rambla, which is the main avenue, selling beers that they swing in their hands and whispering "I get you anything you like." Er. We see one Indian restaurant by the waterfront, the inevitable "Shalimar" or something like that.


For dinner, we ended up back on our street at the tiny cafe where two people couldn't go down the stairs side by side. I virtuously ask for orange juice, (large), but because I'm a low talker and my Catalan is laughable, the barkeeper serves me a beer (large.) When he brings the beer, I understand why he looks so approving- J has asked for a small beer. Ha, ha. J tucks heartily into one of those sandwich things they call bocadillo; kind of like a six inch sub, stuffed to bursting with cured ham and cheese. Real paisa-vasool, these thingies.


Very very early the next morning, I heard a football riot- people running, glass smashing, police sirens, and finally an awful series of loud pops that I finally figured were rubber bullets. In the morning we talked to our hotel guy and he confirmed that these riots are common in these parts. Football is serious stuff. To end the discussion, he helpfully added, "Barca lost, you see!" We nodded, as though we knew full well not only who Barca lost to, but also the win-loss average, the star striker, and future prospects of blessed Barca.

Monday, June 01, 2009

These boots are made for walking

BarcelonaImage via Wikipedia

May 15
J and I are so dizzy with delight, I actually think one of us is going to fall down into the street from our hotel balcony. And it's not just some street- it's a little alley opposite an art gallery and an art bookstore, directly adjacent to Barcelona's famous La Rambla. We can spend all day and most of the night just hanging out in this balcony and watch people walk by. Until, that is, we realize that the entire city waits and we need to get going.
So we do. J is seriously impressed at how much I can walk. Huh! I snort, what you thought?
Give me little cobblestoned alleys, fountains, Placas, churches, gelaterias, blue skies and fantastic architecture, and I will outwalk the nearest camel. Suffice to say that Barcelona provides all the elements, in good quantities. Our first dinner in this city is at a busy little tapas place where we eat gorgeous grilled shrimp, salty sardines with basil pesto, and the famous chorizo sausage. And, let me add, they serve Sangria by the litre here. I knew there was a reason I feel so at home.
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Er...

To begin, let me say that I am going to be writing about my long-awaited trip to Spain because only words can create magic, one word is worth a thousand pictures, and taking pictures while you travel shows that you're a tourist and not a traveler, and it cheapens the whole experience of being in a foreign land.

Or, J and I lost the camera on our last night in Barcelona and I will just have to shut up and write.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Two copies, nine triplicates, matte not glossy, back to back!

All my ineptitude at paperwork has re-surfaced, and how. Last week, it was during the application process for something called a PIO card for J. Now this PIO itself is a funny thing- it stands for Person of Indian Origin. But what is distinctly unfunny is the lack of clarity about the application process itself- coupled with the fact that we dragged our feet a bit and put things off. Now we don't know if we made it on time. We'll just have to wait and see.

And this week there's been more paperwork. Things have been so bad that I will break into hives if I hear the word 'Xerox' ever again. I tried to get some photocopies yesterday. What a fool I was! People, as usual, tried to cut in front of me in line (what line?) and I snapped at them.The Xerox boy kept mumbling something about back-to-back copies.  Three or four discussions later, he finally deigned to place my papers on the Xerox machine. Immediately, there was a power cut.

AND I tried to get visa photos that were matte not glossy- the audacity! I was prepared for some level of frustration but not this. God! Ultimately J kindly took me out to dinner where I ranted on and on about how I would kiss the tarmac when we landed at that foreign airport. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Crazy, sexy, uncool

There is a song from the film 13-B that has as its refrain- "oh sexy mama....." and the minute I heard it, I went, "uh oh!" Proving that my crazy-radar is spot-on, the next day I read about how the censors had edited the song to make it go, "crazy mama..."
Someone raised a hilarious but perfectly valid point- "how are they ok with saying, 'meri maa paagal hai' as opposed to 'meri maa sexy hai?'"
Incidentally what is up with the lyrics of 'ringa ringa' from Slumdog? As far as I can tell, they are rather risque. Or maybe I'm just crazy.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The gratitude diary

There is something to be said for the onset of warmer weather. (that line sounded incredibly pompous). But it is one of life's great joys when you sneak to the kitchen, take out a chilled watermelon, slice it open and then stick your face into it and take great, cold, crisp red mouthfuls.
This is further compounded by re-discovering how refreshing cola can actually be. And by taking cold showers in the evening. And the jacarandas blooming on the side of hot, dusty streets. Also by being presented with pink flowers...right, this last has nothing to do with summer; it simply gave me one more thing to appreciate.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Delhi 6

This movie is one of those that has its heart in the right place- it's well-intentioned, well-acted and has a host of likeable characters. However, the central theme of the movie is--er-- I don't quite know. It ends up being a bit of a forced mish-mash of themes and painfully obvious cliches.

Abhishek Bachchan (widely panned for his 'fake' accent) is an NRI who brings back his ailing Dadi to her old haveli in Delhi's Chandni Chowk. And that is all the plot there is. From there on, it's a melange of characters, observations, and situations. This is all fine- there are a number of really sweet and memorable performances by many actors who are under-rated. Then, there is Sonam Kapoor. Since I refused to see her debut-Saawariya- this is the first time I've seen her in a movie. And she is really pretty great. She's radiant and doesn’t try too hard. But what is she to do with a character that’s just one of so many? One ends up feeling unsatisfied at this treatment.

With a grand theme like communal harmony, which is what it’s ultimately about, the director could have chosen a more subtle metaphor than the ‘monkey-man menace’ one that he used. (There is a half-man half-monkey beast that is supposedly terrorising the streets of Delhi and people and news channels are all agog with this sensational occurrence.) Ok, but, I mean, come on. When Abhishek first lands in India and sees a news item about the ‘kala bandar’, it seems amusing and conveys a sense of the bizarre that is quite routine in India. But then, it goes on and on. And on. The whole film is taken over by this rather inane and irritating character/situation/device. And the climax? I am still utterly flummoxed about why Abhishek does what he does.

Overall, Delhi 6 could have been a much better film. It falls short. And the worst moment is Abhishek saying earnestly, “India works! The people make it work!”

Yes, my friend, thank you for telling us that.

Friday, February 27, 2009

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

There may be a simple reason for the bout of ill-temper I've experienced recently, as most clearly evidenced by the Oscars rant. They've taken Seinfeld off the air.
Somewhere in my mind I knew this was bound to happen; it was inevitable, as they say, like death and taxes. However, now that it has actually happened I find myself rather ill-equipped to face life. Television is now a vast tundra with no hope of respite.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nothing pleases me

What a strange and underwhelming experience it has been. Let me start with the truly bad: see exhibits A1 and A2 above. On the left we have one Miley Cyrus, wearing what looks like a clump of vaguely poisonous upside-down mushrooms. And on her left we have Jessica Biel, who, not to be outdone by a mere stripling such as Cyrus, steps into a piece from Prada's latest pillowcase-cum-handtowel collection.

Moving on from the horror: just about the only blasts of color were provided by the reliable Freida Pinto, and Natalie Portman. Although Freida's Galliano gown is:
  • reminiscent of Drew Barrymore's at the Golden Globes
  • missing a sleeve OR has a sleeve where no sleeve is needed, and
  • giving her an unflattering straight shape,
I am so grateful that it is an actual color as opposed to some shade of gray or white, I will forgive. Natalie too is quite pretty in her lilac Rodarte number-although that Alicia Keys had to go and steal her thunder by wearing a dress of the same shade. The reason Keys lost was because she wore a wig.
Marisa Tomei kind of stood out in a grand and dramatic pleated Versace creation that she wore with aplomb. And then, Cruz, who has vowed to displease me on every occasion by trying to make us forget that she is, in fact, freaking cute, by wearing something just plain dull. The skirt part of her dress reminds me of stage curtains. And let us not go into the ..er...color.
Finally, Anne Hathaway in Armani Prive. Note the relentless lack of color, but at least the gown has some sparkle. It's a flattering shape, Freida take note, and the hem falls about in a most fetching way. Here I will give an honorable mention to J. Aniston for not turning up in black, instead boldly opting for--gasp! off-white! Still, despite this radical departure, her Valentino frock was less pretty than Anne's, so she does lose out.
So, that about sums it up. I could include Heidi Klum in her orangeish and stiffly poky frock, Nicole Kidman in (what else) pale cream and feathers, Reese Witherspoon in a menacing-looking blue and black thing, Marillon Cotillard in a menacing-looking blue and black thing, and the Jolie in her joke jewelry and snoozy black billowy gown, but I will not. I'm too bored.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I have always been notoriously unimaginative about naming things. Take, for instance, the first pet I can remember having- a dog named, what else, Doggy. Although no one in the family has directly accused me, I am positive it can have been no one else who named that unfortunate creature. And now, the latest semi-pet in my life is a dog named Eyes. This is because he has the most striking and singularly amazing pair of peepers I've ever seen. Eyes is master of his own destiny and comes and goes into our lives as he pleases. He will leap and nuzzle if he is in a good mood, or hungry. He openly grimaces if you give him food that he doesn't approve of, like plain dog food. If it involves meat, he approves.
Then there is the black and white mutt who has a way of cocking his head and keenly observing the German Shephard in the neighbor's house. I tell you, it's almost human. So I've named him IQ. The other day I caught IQ deliberately aggravating the German Shephard and then running away to hide around the corner. I'm surprised I didn't see him snickering behind his paws. Oh, the poor German Shephard is called Rocky, by the way. (Maybe I should come up with something more fitting, no? Smirk.)
And the last canine of note is one shaggy thing I've seen lolling in the park under the flowering trees. He has a beautiful, luxuriant caramel-colored coat. And he has a big head. So he is now known as Bighead Todd.

Readings

PD James was someone I once read in my early youth, and the stark, dark tone of the novel left me a little scared. Or was that Ruth Rendell? It had an incident where a boy falls into a manhole and dies after long, slow days of misery. Shudder. Anyway, on a weekend, mid-morning, post-coffee wandering at Blossoms, when I saw a dark, fat volume with PD James across the front, my hand reached for it with inexorable force. The novel is called "Devices and Desires" and is proclaimed by the back page blurb as Ms. James at her finest.
Now the last book I read was Shantaram, and a more contrasting tome to that three-ring circus I could not have picked. After Shantaram's often wildly lyrical passages, PD James' austere style is something of a relief, almost. The only thing the two novels share is a strong sense of place. And can any place be more different from Bombay than Norfolk?
So in Devices and Desires, a serial killer nicknamed the Whistler is at large. But wait! Things cannot be quite so simple. In the prim little village of Lydsett, in the shadow of the nuclear power station, even more sinister events are afoot. Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh is not in charge of the case, interestingly.
I must commend PD James once again. A fine, restrained sense of observation, a very prim and English sense of humor, and a spare and precise style of narration. I am, once again, a fan of the murder mystery.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mood- appalled

It has happened again- that appalling thing called 'moral policing.' This time, a bunch of 30 goons entered a pub and dragged out the female customers, kicking and verbally abusing them. This was done because, according to the previously-unheard of group that is behind the attack, it goes against Indian culture for women to visit such establishments and to drink alcohol.
This is what it has come down to. So tomorrow, I might be dragged by the hair too, and thrown into a cell for all bad women like me simply because I am sitting in a pub, and horrors, am dressed in jeans and a 'skimpy' top. It nauseates me, this urgent need and desire to somehow control all women and lay down the law about women's choices.
All the blather about Indian culture excludes any mention of men. If 'women are our mothers' as the chief lout pointed out, then, logically, men are our fathers. I fail to understand why morality and cultural codes are to be applied exclusively to mothers and not fathers. And I would like very much to read the paragraph and page of this famed and much-quoted book of "Indian culture" that prescribes bashing up and abusing women to protect this culture.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I adore irony

Listening to the radio today and the RJ is asking us to tell her the thing we hate most about our roommate. Now, let me hasten to add that it is not J that I am going to talk about here- he is quite the model roommate and, besides, keeps the kitchen frighteningly clean. No, I have one particular horror-story about a roommate and food.

She was much older than I was, I being but a callow mid-twenties type in those days. So she disliked me already, and she objected to my very existence and the fact that I didn't spend my every waking hour studying or worrying, like her. One day, she put something on the stove and went off to visit a friend upstairs. Now bear in mind that we lived in a dorm, and it was January. The windows were closed and the apartment was, in keeping with the wildly fluctuating thermostats, overheated.

Presently, there started emanating an odor from my roommate's cooking-pot. When I say odor, I mean nauseating, suicide-inducing stink. I held my nose as long as I could, but not being a human whale, couldn't manage it for long. I finally sneaked over and lifted the lid, just to see what could be possibly be in that blessed pot. And what was it? It looked like a white, gluey honeycomb. I think I screamed and dropped the lid back on.

Later, when she was back and the food was gone, I casually asked her what she'd been cooking. She said, 'oh that was some tripe.' Which means, the stomach of some animal. Right. The next day, for breakfast I fried some eggs. She got out of bed, came to the kitchen and said, "can you open the windows? I can't stand this smell."

Golden Globes 2009

Blue was quite the color of the evening. This actress, whose name is apparently January Jones, stole the show in this pale, beautifully constructed gown- Versace, after all.
Then there were a lot of pale, skin toned gowns. Sandra Bullock also looked lovely in her delicately flounced number. Normally I am not a fan of flounces, but the Bullock proves they can be done classily. I particularly like her blue accessories.

Speaking of blue, this Mary-Louise Parker electric hued gown is quite a stunner. And despite the big hair, Drew's look also got my attention. Her dress looks like a misty morning or a pale cloud.


And lastly, what is up with Freida Pinto's choice? I cannot get on board with the bunching and the unattractive color. This is a pity because she's so pretty and self-assured; she would have won the red carpet battle with a better gown! Also disappointing was my girl Penelope Cruz in a boring, tube-like cream colored dress and poor Cameron Diaz in a hideous, wrinkled pink concoction.
all images from nytimes

Thursday, January 08, 2009

9th and Hennepin

Big Time (Tom Waits album)Image via Wikipedia
Besides Sudoku and longneck steamer clams, the significant discovery of the last year was Tom Waits. Listening to his music and his gravelly, late-night voice answered some deep-seated need for music that goes beyond the standard pop-chart fare that you normally listen to on a daily basis. I feel compelled to post this song. It's a whole story, a film, a night for an insomniac, a dream, the last course of a great meal..and maybe in a year or two I will outgrow it as being too gimmicky, too dissatisfied or too something else. But for now, I am happy to listen to this stuff.

Well it's Ninth and Hennepin
All the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes
And the moon's teeth marks are on the sky
Like a tarp thrown all over this
And the broken umbrellas like dead birds
And the steam comes out of the grill
Like the whole goddamn town's ready to blow...
And the bricks are all scarred with jailhouse tattoos
And everyone is behaving like dogs
And the horses are coming down Violin Road
And Dutch is dead on his feet
And all the rooms they smell like diesel
And you take on the dreams of the ones who have slept here
And I'm lost in the window, and I hide in the stairway
And I hang in the curtain, and I sleep in your hat...
And no one brings anything small into a bar around here
They all started out with bad directions
And the girl behind the counter has a tattooed tear
"One for every year he's away", she said
Such a crumbling beauty, ah
There's nothing wrong with her that a hundred dollars won't fix
She has that razor sadness that only gets worse
With the clang and the thunder of the Southern Pacific going by
And the clock ticks out like a dripping faucet
'til you're full of rag water and bitters and blue ruin
And you spill out over the side to anyone who will listen...
And I've seen it all, I've seen it all
Through the yellow windows of the evening train...
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The Morning After

It has been a somewhat trying morning. Two days ago I discovered that I have no Internet. Ack! After not attempting to log on at all a few days ago, what with suffering from Internet-fatigue and all, I was even more aghast. I felt like, to quote PG Wodehouse, a dog who has been refused cake. But what if I had offended the Internet Gods and now I would be Net-less, forsaken and out on the cold steppes of Local Access Only?
However, I stepped up to the plate. I did my duty. With trepidation sloshing in every pore, I did it- called Customer Service. What with my long and roaring history with Those People, this was nothing short of an act of flag-waving gallantry. First, I called the automated number. A human chap whom I procured through clever navigation of all the auto-menus then told me a new number I could call for Internet queries.
So I called this other number. Again, I cleverly subverted their auto-menus and got another human chap. This one, however, did not respond nicely when I told him my account number. "Account number?" he wailed. "What is this regarding?"
"Er," I said for the ninth time, "this is regarding the fact that my Internet service is not working." "Oh," the chap said, sighing with relief. "You are an existing customer. This number is for new customers only. Do one thing, call the automated number."
So I spent the next ten minutes whirling round and round their suggestions and numbers and existing menus. Finally, after keying in about 12 different choices, I hit gold. I got another chap! Except that she was a girl. She proceeded to walk me through the most complex set of troubleshooting steps I've ever undertaken, involving blinking cursors, IP addresses, Subnet Masks and who knows what else. Midway through step no. 25, what happens? I get disconnected! The blessed call terminates.
In a cold sweat, I called them back. I went through the whirligig. And I got another chap. I patiently explained the entire saga. And then we began hacking our way through the troubleshooting undergrowth again. Of course, at one point I had to ask him to slow down. He said, "oh sorry ma'am. We are supposed to finish the call in 10 minutes and it's already 15 minutes so I applo-gize for that."
Right. My IQ fell by several points after this brutal confession. Anyhoo, I successfully folllowed the ninety steps and lo! the Internet is restored! I am the dog who has won the cake back!

J now calls me Tech Support Queen. I smirked and said-'see, told you there are advantages to marrying an Indian!'

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The sweetest days



And Tuesday

disappeared into Wednesday

like the honey

on those strawberries...

*

Sometimes I feel guilt. These days are so sweet that I can hardly bear to give them up.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Sixth of January

The cat sits on the back of the sofa looking
out the window through the softly falling snow
at the last bit of gray light.

I can't say the sun is going down.
We haven't seen the sun for two months.
Who cares?

I am sitting in the blue chair listening to this stillness.
The only sound: the occasional gurgle of tea
coming out of the pot and into the cup.

How can this be?
Such calm, such peace, such solitude
in this world of woe.

~David Budbill
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