Monday, December 31, 2007

"At least it was in my district."

California State Senator Don Perata was carjacked yesterday in front of my old apartment building. Derrick and I were passing our old place on the way to the freeway, when we spotted a police car sitting in the middle of the lane with its lights on, an older man with an Oakland A's jacket leaning in the window and speaking to the driver. When we got home, news about the carjacking was on TV. Turns out Perata's car was targeted for its fancy 22-inch rims. Which begs the question: what was Don Perata doing with 22-inch rims? Then I Googled his car, a Dodge Charger, and was further amazed:

It was also revealed that Perata usually carries a (legally) concealed weapon because of past threats on his life, but on this occasion, he wasn't packing. Wow, this man really does live and breathe Oakland. But in a good way? A bad way? I'm not really sure.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I've never been less convinced to buy an overpriced designer good.

Today I was reading the December issue of Allure (yeah, I know) and there was an article about materialism by style writer Amy Larocca, in which the question was raised “Is materialism bad?” and then answered poorly. Where to begin. Here, Ms. Larocca describes a comment made to her by the disapproving mother of an ex-boyfriend:
“’I knew you were a writer,’ she told me on our first meeting. ‘but I didn’t know you wrote about hair clips.’ She said ‘hair clips’ in a tone that I usually reserve for words like ‘genocide.’”
Um, you say “genocide” with disdain? Your tone of voice conveys that you think “genocide” is frivolous? Confusing! She is not winning me over with her thinking so far, and we haven’t even gotten into WHY she thinks people call chicks with $5000 handbags materialists. First up: she gets all defensive! She says people who call other people materialists are just haters:
“It’s easier to insult what you covet than to confront covetous feelings.”
It's also easier to get defensive when people insult you for over-spending than it is to confront your over-spending.

Next up, shopping is in our chromosomes! “…one of the treats of being female is the enjoyment we get from a gorgeous dress, an elegant pair of shoes….” We should all just give in to genetics. Like the Nepalese women Larocca met abroad! They bond over sari-shopping! This kind of feels like a feeble attempt at saying, well the Buddhists shop a lot and they're all, like, enlightened, so I should just go ahead and buy those shoes.

But the kicker is when Ms. Larocca tries to convince you that shopping is good for you. Science proves it!
“Two leading brain researchers at Johns Hopkins have concluded that shopping requires a trifecta of healthy behaviors—physical activity, decision-making, and a positive self-image—it might actually help you live longer.”
You know what else requires physical activity and decision-making? Um, everything, basically. Like choosing between Cuervo and whiskey, then dancing on a bar table with your skirt over your head. Don't think anyone would confuse that with healthy behavior. And you know what doesn’t require a positive self-image? Shopping! I’ve totally bought “fat jeans” when I was feeling bloated and ugly.

And the crowning gem of Ms. Larocca’s argument: Without fashion, people might run your ass over!
“…psychologists at the University of Leicester, in England, claim that being well-dressed can protect you from being hit by a car. (Drivers, apparently, are more likely to stop for you in a crosswalk if you’re looking sharp.)”
“Is that Gucci?…no wait, it’s Forever 21! Gun it!” Seriously, if anything, this is an argument for not going around looking like crap, which you can do without spending a fortune.

Anyway, I’ve exhausted my indignation. I’m going to go drink beer and think festive thoughts.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Braff Wars

So the other day I was talking about The Office with my co-worker, Young. I happened to mention I thought John Krasinski was cute. Which led Young to mention something about how he's on those big posters the hang in the windows at the Gap. Which led me to say "What? I walk by those every day and never noticed!" Which led him to IM me the picture. Which led me to say "I thought that was Zach Braff!" Which led him to yell "Jocelyn likes Zach Braff! Jocelyn likes Zach Braff!" Which I DON'T. In fact, I find him kinda gross. But too late. Young started doing things like this:

Then he moved on to defacing my work:

And defacing my husband:

So far, I've only managed to do this because I've been WORKING:

Also, it bears mentioning that last week he did this:

Update: To get Young back, I offered him one of his favorite foods (cranberry trail mix) marinated in Zicam (he's been taking Zicam mouth spray all week and complaining about the taste). Unfortch, the boy will eat anything. And he ate the entire bowl, even choking down the bits at the bottom that had the highest Zicam concentration. Really took the wind out of my sails.

Update #2: Young has a stomachache. Yesssss, it was worth it after all. Also, he shows no signs of a cold.

Behold the awesome power of our holiday cheer.

This is how JPMorgan Chase decided to decorate their lobby this holiday season. Sorry the photo is so bad--I was forced to take it through the window because they wouldn't let me in the building. So I wasn't able truly capture the grand scale of this thing. Seriously, I don't think I've ever seen a Christmas display this devoid of warmth. Leave it to a bunch of i-bankers to suck the humanity out of the holidays. Do children cry when they see this? Oh wait, they don't let children in. I like how the ribbon quality of the sculpture makes you feel like it could come crashing down at any moment. In fact, maybe that's the point. Maybe it pinpoints bankers who haven't made their numbers with a hidden animatronic eye and then crushes them under two tons of jingle bell.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Tattoo: Phase One

Okay, Mom, don't freak out. At least not yet because it's not even that "shocking" yet. This is only the outline. Once it's filled in, it'll be mostly gray shading with some green and purple coloring as well.

I have to say, I love Diving Swallow. It's very mellow and it's pretty much all chicks. I especially loved that the other woman who was in there getting some work done on her leg was reading "Eat, Pray, Love" the whole time and occasionally dozing off. Yeah.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Gingered yams dominated my Thanksgiving experience. How 'bout you?

I am never eating yams without ginger ever again. They are amazing. My friend Shannon, who hosted dinner this year, says you simply prepare mashed yams as you otherwise would, but add carmelized onions and garlic, ginger POWDER (!!) and dried currants. Fucking delicious.

Other highlights:
_ Stephanie bought new brown boots. I happen to have a huge fixation on brown boots and am really, really jealous.
_ Steph and Andy would not tell me who wins Project Runway. Apparently, they won't know until like a week before the rest of us (you mean it's not fixed?!). Last year, Andy was nominated for an Emmy for his editing work on the show (Screw you, Amazing Race!). He said that two seasons ago, he also cut the final Runway episodes, but had to do it around the clock over a period of 3 days, and then he came down with rheumatic fever.
_ At one point after dinner, three people were on Mac laptops and one person was on an iPhone. The room was completely silent. That made me feel uncomfortable, sad and nostalgic for the days before social networking sites. It also made me wonder how many kids think Steve Jobs is president.
_ Friend Shannon is a theater professor at Cal and she's up for tenure this year. I'm thinking about starting a letter writing campaign to the department head. Something along the lines of "Shannon Steen is the only thing standing between your program and irrelevance." Wanna lend your voice? Please direct all letters here.
_ Andy pointed out that me and Stephanie always say "No, yeah" or "No, it's true" when we agree with someone. No, yeah, it's totally true. Is it a Midwestern thing? Are we retarded? (Incidentally, using the word "retarded" in casual conversation is something we also do frequently. Midwest thing, or just insensitive?) We finally decided that we just really like saying "no."
_ Um I should probably post photos or something. I forgot to take any.

I am getting a tattoo.

I've always had major tattoo lust but abstained for the usual reasons, like "What if I don't like it when I'm older" and "it just seems so permanent." I do have a tattoo on the small of my back that I got in college—what's now referred to as a "tramp stamp." I don't regret this tattoo one bit, but neither do I ever really get to look at it. A few months ago, I gave in and decided on a swirl of birds for my upper left arm.

There are several things that changed my mind about getting a major tattoo: 1.) Since so many things in life are frighteningly permanent, the permanence of a tattoo seems trivial, 2.) the body is ever changing, and it will eventually become something we don't even recognize, so what's so frigging sacred about the flesh? 3.) there will likely be many things I won't like about my body as I age that, again, worrying about not liking my tattoo seems trivial, and the most compelling argument of all, 5.) Eh, fuck it. You only live once. Also, my tattoo artist rocks the bird tattoo. I'm very, very excited.

I've even decided on a second, much more minor tattoo that I want next: The word "Contrary." I've been called this more times that I can count, and I figure maybe it's time to let strangers know what they're getting into with me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Creepy, beautifully done interactive Arcade Fire video.

Haven't posted anything in a while (sorry Mom). Funny how writing for a living sometimes saps your desire to write on your spare time! Anyhoo, take a look at this incredible vid for "Neon Bible."

UPDATE: Uh, actually, this video is also on the Neon Bible website. OOPS. It is entirely worth exploring and done by the same guy who did the video. In this site, as on the Neon Bible Album, Arcade Fire stays true to the theme of "Don't you miss being a kid?" (my answer is no, for the record) but also explores religion and evangelism in America. Wait, are nostalgia for childhood and our yearning for the paternalism of religion CONNECTED? TELL US, ARCADE FIRE! Also, I am drunk.

Love, Jocelyn

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ensmarten yourself, help others.

Just discovered a site where you can broaden your vocabulary AND do your part to end world hunger. It's in the same vein as the grow-a-mustache-and-help-support-gifted-youth nonsensical, yet somehow totally compelling and fun approach to money raising that seems to have taken hold in the world of worthy causes. At, for every word that you properly define, 10 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations World Food Program by advertisers. It's all multiple choice and the difficulty of the words adjusts as you go along. It can keep you occupied for HOURS when you should be doing other crap—yet, for once, you don't have to feel guilty.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Babies!Babies!Babies!—Notes on a Farmer's Market

Derrick and I try to avoid going to the Rockridge Farmer's Market on Claremont. We only go if we miss the one on Saturday morning in our own neighborhood. The reason is the babies, the many, many babies. It's not that I'm against babies, it's just that this particular market is so saturated with high-tech strollers and families 4 or 5 children deep that I sometimes start to hyperventilate, worrying about the overpopulation crisis. Derrick has had to unlatch my hand from his arm, prying my fingers off one by one. "It's Rockridge, honey. What were you expecting?" Yes, yes, I know this neighborhood is where the rich come to reproduce, and if you took away the double-wide strollers with the SUV suspension (and probably better safety ratings than my Corolla), there'd probably be a lot more room to move freely between stands. Maybe I'd be able to reach the zucchini without accidentally stepping on tiny Crocs. Maybe the market wouldn't seem so densely babied.

Today I managed to forget my anxiety for a few minutes while I checked out (from afar) the new arm sleeve tattoo of a woman I always see around my neighborhood. I see her at the gym, on the street, everywhere. She's maybe in her 30's like me, not particularly punk or hipster, but she has tattoos all over her body. Not unusual here at all, but there's always been something about the arrangement of her tattoos, the sort of strategic placement of them that has made me feel like they are more about covering up an unloved body than a passion for ink. There's nothing cohesive about them, they're more like tattoo islands. Then today, when I saw her at the Farmer's Market, she had this new opaque, black sleeve tattoo, sliced into segments by curving paths that revealed slivers of the old tattoos hidden underneath. It's like she's layering. Like the old tattoos weren't hiding her enough, and now she's covering herself in black. It made me feel sad for her. I got that same feeling you get when you see an anorexic, that "Oh, honey. Just looking at you hurts." It's entirely possible that I have this woman all wrong. But I doubt it. It kind of made me want to give her a hug.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Running out of things to buy?

I know! I hate it too! There simply aren't enough consumables on the market these days...which is why I am now selling my jewelry on Etsy. There are only three items up right now, but I'll be adding new pieces quite soon.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Bay Area 21% more screwed than national average.

This is last week's news kinda, but apparently the Bay Area sees 19% higher salaries than the national average...but also a 40% higher cost of living. This will go a long way in helping me explain to my parents in Milwaukee why I still live in a one-bedroom apartment with fixtures that haven't been replaced since the Truman administration.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What if Vogue stopped trying to hide all the stupid behind Gucci?

What if they just went with it? Well, graphic designer Scott King went with it for them in his Vogue cover reimagingings for PS1 in NY. If he had his way, King would give the magazine an anti-war theme, but stick with the general sense of frivolity and privileged-class ignorance Vogue currently exhibits when trying to feign interest in "world issues." I particularly like the headline "769 things that make Scarlett Johansson angry at injustice." (I also like that the Blogger spell check recognizes when I spell "Johansson" incorrectly. Is that bitch's name in the dictionary now or something?)

Anyway, I also like this:

You can almost hear the socialites crying.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Words of the Day: Weirdcore and Fuckchop

Weirdcore: Another term for "freak folk," pertaining primarily to Devendra Banhart. Characterized by lyrics that, taken piecemeal are actually brilliant and don't seem all that strange, but taken cumulatively, add up to some really weird shit.

Fuckchop: Who knows. I overheard this in a conversation on which I was eavesdropping today. Possible uses:

"Please pass the fuckchops."

"You think you're better than me, fuckchop?"

"Get over hear and give me a kiss, you adorable little fuckchop!"

"I gave him two swift kicks to the fuckchops."

"Don't fuckchop me, bro!"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"The autumn wind is a pirate."

This is a little belated, but I had the pleasure of attending my first ever Raiders game the other week. I say "pleasure," but actually I was scared shitless. I'm from Packers country, which is about as die-hard as you can get—but Raiders fans have always frightened me. All that black! All those huge trucks! All those mullets! We arrived early to tailgate and I got right down to drinking. If everyone around me was going to get scary and out of control, I was going to get there first, dammit.

Turns out, it's all hype. Raiders fans are gentle as kittens. In fact, by 10 A.M., I was far more obnoxious than the other tailgaters around us (I win!), such as Chains, with whom I am pictured here:

Seriously, I think he was a little bit freaked out by me. Me!

The game itself was maybe not quite as fun. We lost to the Lions, which I hear is the worst team in the NFL. And watching a game in the Oakland Coliseum is like watching a game in a blast furnace. I don't know how it gets so hot in there. But there was great people watching to be had. See below:

And then there's the stuff that just generally reminds you you're in Oakland:

Friday, September 7, 2007

Casual racism in the casual carpool.

The casual carpool is something I have a very hard time explaining to anyone who doesn't live in Oakland. The short version is: you get in strangers' cars and they drive you across the Bay Bridge and drop you off. But it's not what it sounds like! It's safe! A lot of people actually do it! It lets drivers use the carpool lane and avoid the toll, and it lets the carless hitch a free ride to work. But despite all that, there is one thing that is NOT good about the carpool. See, what makes it work is that no one talks. Riders traditionally say "Good Morning" when they get in the car and "Thanks" when they get out, and that's it. In my experience, any time this unspoken rule is broken, the conversation that follows is inevitably so uncomfortable that I have to fight the urge to jump out of the car at 65 mph. I don't know why this is.

In the last few weeks, I've gotten into a several cars where the driver and the other passenger besides myself struck up a conversation. Here is a sampling of what was said:

"Asians really don't know how to handle themselves on the road."

White driver to black passenger who is, mind you, a STRANGER: "Oh you lived in Houston. Did you encounter a lot of racism?"

Driver: "I don't know how this car will handle in the wind and rain."
Passenger: "I think it'll handle all right."
Driver: "Oh sure, I'll just believe you. Are you an engineer or something?"

"I was mugged near Lake I cross the street when I see black teenagers."

"I don't usually yell at other drivers this much."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Mendo, braaaa.

This weekend, Derrick and I visited our marvelous friends Matt and Steve in gorgeous Mendocino County. We love them. We kind of want them to adopt us as our surrogate parents (our real parents are in Milwaukee and Des Moines) or at least as our really cool uncles. The picture above is the cabin on their property we helped them build and it's where we sleep when we visit. Anyway, we went on some punishing yet glorious bike rides through the countryside and, man, did it smell like reefer out there! After Labor Day, we returned to Oakland, and all this week Derrick has noticed that the drug dogs have been very busy in the FedEx warehouse. Some searches, however, don't require dogs. Apparently, it's not uncommon for people to actually write "marijuana" under "contents" on the FedEx mailing labels. Because it's medical marijuana, man!

Lo, it is the beginning of harvest season, and the cycle of birth and DEA incineration commences.

Here's Steve tending to some perfectly legal roses:

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dear reader: You are poor. But there's always escapsim...with the NY Times Business Section!

I love unfortunate media placements like this. They are both hilarious and depressing (my favorite combination, by the way!). This kind of reminds me of the time they cut into a Mercedes commercial on KRON 4 to bring us news that a Mercedes had spontaneously caught on fire in the Caldecott Tunnel, shutting down morning traffic in both directions. Cha-ching, Mercedes, cha-fucking-ching. Anyway, it's good to know that as my middle-class income gradually bleeds away into abject poverty, I can still live it up vicariously through news coverage of Def Jam's quarterly profits.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lack of comma sends me into downward spiral of Google-searching for "biscuit" euphemisms

This is the bag they put our purchases in at the hardware store this weekend. In case you can't read it, it says: "For my buddy biscuit/Love, Ty"

First of all, how did this bag find its way back into the Ace Hardware bag lifecycle after it had already been used?

Second, what does this mean? Since there was no comma between "buddy" and "Biscuit," I thought they went together. Like a "buddy biscuit." And what the hell is a "buddy biscuit"? my According to Google, "biscuit" could be slang for:

date-rape drug
young desirable girl
women's genitals

Um, and then I realized "Biscuit" is probably someone's nickname. Actually, Derrick glanced at the bag and said "Biscuit's a nickname. There's just no comma." You know, after I'd been googling "biscuit" for a half hour like the obsessive-compulsive moron I am.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ohhh, identity theft awareness, mmmmm...

Possibly the funniest thing I've seen, well, since yesterday when Young came back from his eye appointment looking like this, is Moan My IP, a site where you paste in your IP address, and a hot girl moans it back to you. The point, like it really needs one, is to make people aware that their IP addresses provide a way for bad guys to steal everything from Social Security numbers to bank account numbers.

UPDATE: Derrick has informed me that 1) Identity theft does not commonly occur through IP addresses and that 2) This is really more about selling a product than raising awareness. I say: Um, whatever.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Does using other people's bathrooms sometimes make you uncomfortable?

Because if Derrick had his way, using the bathroom at our place would freak people the fuck out. He found this wheelchair at Urban Ore today and wanted to buy it to put over our toilet like a toilet seat. Because he is sick. And awesome.

Arts n' Crafts

Lately, I've been working on starting a line of jewelry. And when I say "line of jewelry," I really mean, like, 5 bracelets. But there will be more...I just went to Urban Ore in Berkeley today, and soon I will be incorporating drawer pulls and a black spray-painted Mary and Jesus into the yarn-y mix, most likely as necklace pendants. Here are some pieces I've done so far. It doesn't have the organized look of a real line and it's a bit random, but I'm working on it...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Have head shot. Will starve for $$$$$$$.

I don't understand why it's considered some big mystery how movie stars and celebrities stay so thin. "It must be genetic." "It must be Atkins." "They must have a good trainer." Jesus, it's just money. The reason those starlets manage to teeter on the brink of starvation without finally freaking out and gaining it all back like the rest of us is because when THEY get absurdly skinny, they have a better chance of landing a $15 million role in a movie. If I were to get absurdly skinny, on the other hand, the most I'd get out of the deal is a bunch of people at work whispering that I had an eating disorder and my husband saying, "Huh, you look different. Did you change your hair?" But no $15 million. So there it is. The stakes are higher. That's all. Oh, and also, probably cocaine.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Poem of the Week and a Half

The Great Submarine Race
by Matthew Rohrer

It’s mad, but it just might work,
he said, and floridly signed his name
to The Great Submarine Race.

Submarines slumbered in his bloodstream
and submarines burbled in shallow slips.
The Flying Electrons bore the news
around the world on cold white drafts
and the news pierced the blue clouds.

A man in the square nudged his wife
and told her they were Mammary clouds.
Everyone’s transmitter cackled.
Everyone’s bloodstreams burbled

The wife loved the lumpy clouds.
The man’s submarine slipped its mooring
and nosed her coral arches.
Simultaneously, all the world’s submarines exhaled
and plunged deep into the shifting water
with their little engines racing,
and when they met each other they battered one another’s hearts.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


So Erik was not maybe so pleased by the fact that I posted some less-than-flattering photos of him. As punishment, I am posting these:

"Dominion everywhere of patient dung beetles! Dominion everywhere of patient dung beetles! Boo-yah!"

Daily Candy is usually only empty calories. Daily Candy is usually so devoid of substance and so rich in sickly-sweet prose that I think you could actually get diabetes from reading it every day. But today they finally sent out a link for something completely awesome.

Quickmuse is a site where poets and songwriters are given 15 minutes to write on a subject of the editors' choosing. You can either just read each writer's finished piece or you can actually watch the poem being composed in real time. This means you get to see where writers stalled, where they second-guessed themselves. Or where they wrote the word "POEM" at the top of the page and then sat there for two solid minutes before beginning, like Matthew Rohrer, whose poem I loved.

But what's really fantastic is what happens when you read the finished poem before you watch it being composed. Because since you know how it's going to end, you find yourself silently rooting for poet. Like when Rohrer wrote "POEM" at the top of the page and then sat there for a while, I was all "For king and country! For king and country! POEM for king and country, dumbass!" It's like watching someone decide what letter they need on Wheel of Fortune when you already know what the phrase is. I highly recommend trying it, if only for the opportunity to yell "Countryside watered with tears! Countryside watered with tears! Yesssssss...." at your screen, preferably at work.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Why is Erik so unphotogenic?

The Art Director I work with is not an unattractive person. And yet:

In related news, I also look ridiculous:

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Notes From Underground, revisited.

It's come to my attention that the link to the Wikipedia entry for Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground (at the right) is extremely unhelpful. Also, when asked what Notes From Underground is, I'm always telling people, "Well, there's this guy, and he's in hell..." which is actually the premise of No Exit. Sartre, Dostoevsky, pish posh. Dad probably read No Exit at the dinner table as well, hellbent as he was on instilling us with a healthy sense of futility, so it's probably not that strange that I tend to conflate the two. Anyhoo, I've decided to offer an updated summary of NoFUn (ha!) using more contemporary, uh, vocabulary. The novel is divided into three sections but it goes pretty much like this:
"I am a douche. I am not a douche. Yes I am. No I'm not. I'm sick of thinking about what a douche I am. Everyone else is a douche. There is no escape from douchery. Wait, scratch all that. Being a douche is ok. GOD I WISH I WASN'T SUCH A DOUCHE! Haha, just kidding. I love it. When I was young I kicked someone's ass to prove I wasn't a douche, but this just made me more douchey. My friends hate me. It's all my fault. No it's not. Yes it is. Then I slept with a prostitute, who I loved/hated/loved/hated/etc. I'm a douche." The end.

Make sense? Great.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

I'm not myself these days.

Updated: I took Ross' picture down, but you can still see the comparison below.

A beloved co-worker is moving on this week and I am wrecked. WRECKED! Also, that's him where I used to be. His pose is meant to be an accurate representation of this:

Uh, yeah right. He looks far more Herbal Essences hairgasm commercial than I do. Anyway, bye Ross! Hope you and your wife move to Oakland! C'mon it's far less unsafe than people make it out to be. It's only a little questionable in parts of East Oakland. And obviously, parts of West Oakland. And North Oakland. And, well, there really isn't a South Oakland. But there is a Central Oakland! We'll hang out! Hugs!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I will not be controlled.

In a concession to my advancing age, and, more specifically, my back, I finally broke down recently and bought a backpack. I do a lot of walking to and from various forms of public transportation for my epic daily commute (East Bay represent! Sigh...)and carrying my gym bag, laptop and handbag was actually causing me medical issues. I didn't need anything fancy, just "big."

Maybe it's a testament to how impatient I get with Amazon, and how little attention I really pay to anything that isn't a picture, but the bag I ended up with is so beyond a "backpack" and so overdesigned, that I'm not really sure what I was thinking. The fucking thing is trying to micromanage the contents of my entire fucking life! There are 23 pockets and they are LABELED—you know, so I don't put the cell phone where the PDA is supposed to go, God forbid. It kind of reminds me of Derrick when we're packing the car: "Hm, are you sure you want to put that there?"

Here are the compartments on my bag:
Front mesh pocket for bike helmet (presumptuous much, backpack? I don't HAVE one.)
iPod pocket
iPod cord pocket
PDA pocket (um, how about you hold my meds instead!)
PDA charger pocket
cell phone pocket
cell phone charger pocket
mouse pocket
5 pen holders
key holder
cd case
ANOTHER cd case
headphones pouch
laptop adapter airport pouch
USB port cord holder
phone port cord holder
spare battery holder
laptop pouch

And those are just the ones that have the helpful icons. The rest are presumably meant to just be ritualistically opened and closed however many times a day your OCD calls for.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Poem of the Week

I wanted to post a happy poem today. I failed, but it was worth it. Usually, any story or poem about 9/11 just makes be feel a vague, abstract numbness, but not this. It's one of my favorite poems.

Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100
by Martin Espada

Alabanza. Praise the cook with a shaven head
and a tattoo on this shoulder that said Oye,
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
the harbor of pirates centuries ago.
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.
Alabanza. Praise the cook's yellow Pirates cap
worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane
that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,
for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked
even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish
rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up,
like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium.
Praise the great windows where immigrants from the kitchen
could squint and almost see their world, hear the chant of nations:
Ecuador, Mexico, Republica Dominicana,
Haiti, Yemen, Ghana, Bangladesh.
Praise the kitchen in the morning,
where the gas burned blue on every stove
and exhaust fans fired their diminutive propellers,
hands cracked eggs with quick thumbs
or sliced open cartons to build an altar of cans.
Alabanza. Praise the busboy's music, the chime-chime
of his dishes and silverware in the tub.

Alabanza. Praise the dish-dog, the dishwasher
who worked that morning because another dishwasher
could not stop coughing, or because he needed overtime
to pile the sacks of rice and beans for a family
floating away on some Caribbean island plagued by frogs.
Alabanza. Praise the waitress who heard the radio in the kitchen
and sang to herself about a man gone. Alabanza.

After the thunder wilder than thunder,
and the shudder deep in the glass of the great windows,
after the radio stopped singing like a tree full of terrified frogs,
after night burst the dam of day and flooded the kitchen,
for a time the stoves glowed in darkness like the lighthouses in Fajardo,
like a cook's soul. Soul, I say, even if the dead cannot tell us
about the bristles of God's beard because God has no face,
soul I say, to name the smoke-beings flung in constellations
across the night sky of this city and cities to come.
Alabanza, I say, even if God has no face.

Alabanza. When the war began, from Manhattan to Kabul
two constellations of smoke rose and drifted to each other,
mingling in icy air, and one said with an Afghan tongue:
Teach me to dance. We have no music here.
And the other said with a Spanish tongue:
I will teach you. Music is all we have.

From Alabanza: New and Selected Poems 1982-2002

Friday, July 27, 2007

I hurt you because I care.

The Family Wainwright, minus Loudon

Coming from a family of slightly unhinged writer-types (and one entrepreneur who, strangely, makes more money than all of us combined) can be tough. Reading each other's work and learning, whether we want to or not, about each other's innermost thoughts/insecurities/demons can create, uh, an interesting dynamic. Like when you read a sex scene in a novel your dad wrote! It's interesting! Or when you write a poem that describes your uneasy relationship with your dad and you show it to him so he can critique your form! Also really interesting!

I say this because I'm currently working on a short story that is based on an extremely sensitive event in my family history. Actually, it started as a short story, and now it's more like a short novel, which probably means it has become overwrought, full of confusing tangents and, well, bad, but I digress. I've been feeling a little weird about the whole thing, like, "Am I appropriating a story that doesn't really just belong to me?" or "Is it wrong to write a sex scene with a character based on my brother?" or "Will anyone in my family talk to me ever again after they read this?"

Then I read this awesome article about the Wainwright family in Vanity Fair. Holy crap! They completely embrace the "interesting dynamic" and write about each other all the time. Then they perform shows together and sing songs about how much they hate each other! Check it out:
Loudon turned 50 on Sept. 5, 1996. The next day, his friends and far-flung family members joined him onstage for a celebratory show at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, New York. Kate was there. So were Suzzy, Rufus, and Martha; their half-sister Lucy Wainwright Roche showed up, too.

Early on, Loudon dove right into the soup, playing that good-time ballad about nearly losing fetal Martha, "That Hospital." If Lucy felt left out, she no longer did when he sang the heart-wrenching "Your Mother and I." Rufus got zinged with "A Father and a Son." Kate took the stage and scored one for the women's side with "Go Leave." Loudon counterpunched with "Unhappy Anniversary."

Maybe it's weird to view the Wainwrights as role models for using creativity to enable more functional family dysfunction, but whatever! I love them now.

Also: in Martha Wainwright's awesome song "Factory," I'm not really sure, but I think the person she refers to as "the chick with the dick and the gift for the gab" is her brother.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I'd like to take this moment to heart Copyranter.

OMFG, people might actually be reading this blog now. Big thanks to ad biz blogebrity (did I just use that word? puke.) Copyranter, who linked to my post on corporate anthems today. If you want to die laughing, read his blog.

Um, I guess this would be a good time to finally decide whether this blog is going to be about bad advertising, good poetry or gynecological exams. For the time being, it will remain a stupefying mix of all three!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Earthy, spiritual, psycho.

There's a thin line between the rustic, earth-goddess look that many yoga studios/every store in Berkeley try to go for with their signage, and the somewhat scary, cultish look my local Bikram yoga studio has actually achieved. I pass this sign almost every day on the way to my local Gold's Gym (whose logo uses bulging, steroidal yellow type—they know their audience!) and it always unnerves me a bit. It kinda seems like it was carved by students at the end of a class when they were completely dehydrated, on the verge of heatstroke and pretty much crazy. Of course, if you've ever taken a Bikram class, you already know that it is in fact a cult, and it should seem perfectly natural that their sign bears a resemblance to this:

Postcard from Charles Manson

But in terms of creepiness, this studio can't hold a candle to the Funky Door Bikram studio on 2nd Street in SF, where massive windows provide passersby with an intimate view of limber, half-naked sweat-o-philes grabbing their ankles. I can't even count the number of times I've passed by that place at lunch and seen several middle-aged men just guilelessly standing there, watching and eating Subway. I admit I sometimes watch too, but only to see people faceplant when their hands fly out from underneath them as they try to execute a downward-facing dog on their sweat-slicked mats.

Monday, July 23, 2007

"We have a dream of youthful love and power."

God bless corporate anthems. The best are just sorta bad, the worst are so deeply horrific that they send the listener into a hypnotic state. Some, like Ahhhhh Fujitsu and The Symantec Revolution, are just unabashedly, spectacularly, transcendently bad. Just look at how many adjectives they force me to use.

The Fujitsu anthem starts out like a Mexican wedding song. Then the Japanese jazz singer starts in and you've got some kind of 1960's James Bond theme song on your hands. But there's also these Flower Power undertones, with lines about holding hands and "smiling at each new hour". It's this kind of genre bending that makes me smile in the deepest, darkest, coldest corners of my jaded little soul.

The Symantec Revolution is clearly based on "Good Vibrations" by Marky-Mark and the Funky Bunch. I just. Can't. Even. I mean, you try to explain this.

Oh, and then there's the glorious Ode to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002. This law was passed after the Enron scandal and the song is a warning to would-be white collar criminals who find badly-rhymed rap with soaring synthesizers appealing. Who the hell even produced this? The SEC? God, what I wouldn't have done to be in on those meetings.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Poem of the Week

I've decided to post a favorite poem roughly once a week,!

This is a long one.

There May Be More Of This World Than Can Possibly Exist

by Olena Kalytiak Davis

Not just the cosmos you have thickly sown into the small field
just east of your heart, but all that is held
in disbelief, in unfaith. Not only the barbed paragraphs of scrub
willows or the thoughts as thin as telephone wires,
but what's left of the salt lick of your soul,
or of the woman you married.

And what isn't: that half-built house, laid bare and open,
forsaken by the suicidal bricklayer, the carpenter's deconstructing
hands. The winged mail carrier, just now
rounding the corner, feeling depressed again,
praying for deliverance or rain. No, not just that.
Not only the Dostoyevsky reeling
in his walkman: but everything the brothers did, thought about
doing, said...

And all that is held so high.
And everything that is swimming, way underneath it.

Not just the trajectory, not only the first stone
or the second, but what's left in your wrist, that which is
ancient, the african village that dances inside you, the medicine
you are feeding and the whole sky. The sky that's no longer refusing

the ground and the heretics, the martyrs; the skeptics now willing
to take certain things under consideration:
the god that exists and the one that doesn't.

Not just the determination of the stars, but the stars
newly determined to understanding the clear
clear night. The blind appetite
of the senses, so well fed, it's dreaming of vinegar
and malt. And everything else
you can't, as luck will have it, bring yourself
to consider: the white-tailed deer stepping gently
out of the scratchy thicket,
her soft warm tongue, sweet and fresh as milk.

And all those quiet hours when you thought you knew
what you were talking about,
but were only scrubbing your soul with salt,
saying: let what is grain turn to grain,

just not meaning it.

And Her Soul Out Of Nothing, 1997

Friday, July 20, 2007

SFO, black turtlenecks and cocktails.

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the opening of an exhibit called "From Prototype to Product" at SFO. Actually I had the pleasure of drinking for free in the reception area while Derrick escorted members of the Industrial Designers Society of America through the actual exhibit in the United Terminal. I got there too late for the tour, and for some reason airport security wouldn't let me through with a glass of wine and no ticket. Jerks. I mean, it's great that SFO is big on hosting cool exhibits, but it's a shame when they're only available to those flying into or out of the country on United. And are international flyers really the best audience? I, for one, cannot focus on anything meaningful when I'm traveling. Even my brainiac friends admit that their compromised attention spans limit them Us Magazine when flying.

Anyway, the exhibit consists of somewhere around 75 prototypes of well-known products from design firms like IDEO, FuseProject and Apple. Um, I hear it was cool? I did manage to get a look at the soon-to-be-released $100 XO Computer from FuseProject. The idea behind this kid's laptop is to make it economically feasible for any school to expose their students to computer technology and help them build the skills that are becoming ever-more-critical in the information-driven world. According to the lead designer on the project, schools in Nigeria have already placed their orders. I'm thinking it would be a hell of a lot easier and lighter to transport to and from work than my Mac. Read more about it at the One Laptop Per Child website.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Just take a deep breath, relax and think of pop drivel from 1994.

This morning I had my annual Ladies Exam at Kaiser, and this was the poster that was plastered on the ceiling directly over the examination table. It's hard to make out in this photo, but basically it's a concert poster for Better Than Ezra with Hootie and the Blowfish. WTF, you may ask. WTF, indeed. Is this what the Ob/Gyn staff thinks helps us relax our vaginal muscles? Or are they insinuating that listening to these bands is about as pleasant as being probed with a cold metal speculum? Wait, I think I just answered my own question.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Batshirt crazy.

Yes, that is a shirt she is wearing. With bat wings. With holes. So?

An inflated sense of youthful resilience.

This past weekend, a co-worker threw her birthday party at Pump It Up Inflatable Party Zone, a favored venue of the under-12 set. It goes without saying that hurling yourself through giant plastic obstacle courses when you're 30+ is a wholly different experience. As you plummet headfirst down the giant inflatable slide, your body reveals its many complex parts with anatomical precision: "Here is your mylohyoid muscle, which is immediately above the digastric muscle which holds the mandible in place--oops! That popping noise is your mandible unhinging." You can literally feel every muscle you never knew existed as one by one, they pop off your skeleton like banjo strings. Not that this stopped anyone from attacking every slide and trampoline boxing ring like second graders on crack. But god, two days later and we're all still paying for it.

Here's the slide where I threw out my back:

Here's my husband, Derrick after compressing his spine:

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Monday of my self-destruction.

So far this morning, I've dropped one of those heavy plastic floor mats with the teeth on one side on my (bare) foot, scalded my hand on an espresso steamer that decided to disassemble itself/explode mid-steam, tripped over aforementioned floor mat and spilled coffee everywhere, and dropped a glass of water. Also, it is "Staff iPod Day" at work, and someone's playing rap rock and pop metal over the office sound system. I keep scanning the office for the 18-year-old angry, white frat boy who's clearly responsible, but I can't seem to locate such a person. So, I've cocooned myself in the "Brainstorming Room" where no one can see me grind my teeth and mumble to myself. Lo, it is Monday and not quite 10 A.M.

Friday, July 6, 2007

"The ironic clinical universe"

That's how super-designer (sorry, I mean "The Prince of Design") Ora-ito refers to the Smiley brand line of antidepressant-infused beauty and skincare products. If you too receive the Daily (Reminder that You're Poor) Candy e-newsletter, you may already know what I'm talking about. I don't know, I like to keep my irony and my antidepressants separate. Especially where an actual transaction of actual money is involved.

Anyway, I see no point in taking a chance on happy pills Quisinart-ed into shampoo and face cleanser when exfoliating my liver with vodka tonics has long proven effective.

Also: given the sexual side effects of most SSRIs, antidepressants in lube seems a particularly hard sell.

The site offers an extensive explanation about what's in their concoctions, but after watching this video I am convinced the active ingredient is Ecstasy.


There's a certain amount of pressure copywriters feel to be well-spoken and articulate in front of our co-workers and peers. I'm not exactly sure why I decided to added this blog as yet another venue in which I need to watch what I say and how I say it. It's probably an illness of some sort. But the fact is, I'm not always on the ball. I frequently use four-letter words when I simply can't be bothered to say shit good. This morning, another copywriter I work with coined the word "kilomometer." Last month, she invented "strategery." Clearly, her weakness is adding extra syllables to words, which really makes her an overachiever if you think about it. I, on the other hand, am reductive, otherwise known as lazy.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Welcome to your hangover.

It’s the 5th of July and the weather is not cooperating with my headache. It’s supposed to be the hottest day on record for San Francisco, not that this city sets the bar all that high. Oakland is practically viscous sludge with the heat, but enough about the weather.

Last night, as I was trying to fall asleep to the soothing rumble of explosion after explosion after explosion right outside my window, I was reminded of this time my brother Chris, a sound engineer, worked the Milwaukee Big Bang fireworks show back in the late 80s. The show was supposed to be set to rock music, but his boss screwed up and supplied him with a blank tape, which he didn’t discover until, like, 10 minutes before the fireworks started. So rather than not playing any music at all, Chris substituted a Bruce Springsteen bootleg he dug out of his glove compartment. Sitting out on the hill above Lake Michigan, all I could hear was the white noise of a cheering crowd laced with the muffled chords of "Born to Run." It felt strange because none of us were actually cheering. We all just kept looking around at each other, thinking everyone else must be clapping. It was almost like performance art: playing applause for the non-applauding crowd.

The whole event got panned on the local news stations.