September 2002 Archives

Fortune Cookie

Yesterday's fortune cookie:

Elmer Fudd

Just got back from the dentist. Three fillings.

I sound like Elmer Fudd on a bender.

Guest Blogging at the Donk

Since I know that my loyal readers wouldn't want to miss a single word of my wit and wisdom, I should point out that I'm guest blogging over at the Donk. 367 words of the finest bad experimental sci-fi I could whip up in an hour. It's about bowling and it's about pie. Check it out.

Jedi Master

I feel a great sense of calm and relaxation; the Force is in balance once more.

Why?

The Great Jedi Master Tony Pierce is back from vacation and has resumed blogging again.

Now get over there and bow deeply, for We Are Not Worthy.

YAMPC

YAMPC*: Dodge.

*Yet Another Mirror Project Contribution

. . .

In other news, I've been having a great deal of fun playing with Movable Type on my test server. At some point it'll migrate over to the production server...

Special Guest Blogger: This Fish

Tonight's Special Guest Blogger: The Fish of This Fish Needs a Bicycle.

First, I'd like to say that guest starring on Paul's blog must feel something akin to being the Special Guest Star on The Muppet Show. I feel one with the likes of John Denver, Sandy Duncan and Don Knotts. Good company, I say.

Second, I promise to shock you all with the use of complete sentences, personal pronouns and a distinct shortage of confusing and colorful acronyms. "It won't be the Fish at all!" you say. Well, perhaps not. But let's not get sentimental. This departure from the norm is for a good cause: It's all in the name of cheese. Processed Cheese.

Paul did remind me that his theme for September was remembrance, but also said that I should feel free to write on the topic I had suggested for him at one point, "Processed Cheese: Why it's not really cheese."

And off I go.

I like cheese. I like it in most of its actual and metaphorical forms. I like cheesy pizzas, cheesy songs and tragically sometimes, cheesy men. But I do not support processed cheese. Processed cheese, or as the fake cheese industry has taken to referring to it, Cheese Foods (could you feel me shudder?) is not cheese. Examples and explanation follow.

In the form of Kraft Singles, it's something more like a ColorForm. Now, back in my ColorForm days, I chose Wonder Woman and the Cabbage Patch Kids. There are an alarming number of people, however, that select those blocks of floppy, orange-yellow sheets of synthetic material from the dairy aisle to take home as playthings. I picture these sad people flinging that nasty material onto their refrigerators, only to dress up and use simulated social situations for hours and hours of fun. Lesson number one? Kraft Singles are not cheese. They are barely food. They are playthings -- Like Silly Putty, only Silly Putty is kind enough to have an advisory against eating their product.

Next: Spray Cheese. Or, as I like to call it: Cancer in a Can. I believe that's enough of an explanation.

Finally: My ex-boyfriend, D. "Ha! I knew it had to get back to relationships somehow. But how is he processed cheese?" I hear you saying. Well, since you asked: The problem with processed cheese is that all the elements of real cheese have been removed from the product, making it squishy, weak and floppy, and in all other ways completely useless. Not to mention lacking in all nutritive value. The missing elements of actual cheese are things like, milk and/or whey. You know, all that growin'-strong-bones protein stuff? Well, the elements missing from metaphorical processed cheese are similar; compliments and/or unpredictable bouts of romantic gestures (i.e. flowers). You know, all those growin'-strong-emotional-ties romantic stuff? Completely absent. And well, what you end up with is weak, useless processed cheese devoid of any real value, and a messy break up (messy because when processed cheese melts, it's just slimy).

And there you have it. Stick with real cheese. Sure, there are caveats for the real thing, too. Like, some of the foreign kinds can smell a bit funny; some of the longer-aged varieties have very thick outer rinds; some, too many holes or a funky, bitter flavor (still following the metaphor here?), but overall, it's the real cheese that stands on its own. And makes a damn good pizza.

• • •

You may have noticed that The Fish had neglected Velveeta, America's favorite cheese substitute.

The Fish, in defense of her omission:

Ah! Velveeta! I'm sorry to have left that one out! But is it necessary to even touch that one? The name alone should tell you to stay away. I mean, it sounds like some chitnzy, 70s-era, leisure suit material. Wear it with gold chains to your high school reunion, but don't eat it.

"Is that suit felt?"

"Uh, no... Velveeta actually. A synthetic blend of... HEY! Stop touching me there..."

"It is now."

"It is now, what, pervert?"

"FELT. Rarrrr..."

Just another example of how processed cheese will get you nowhere good.

Couldn't have said it any better myself.

Elektra

Note to all opera-goers in the tri-state area:

Go see the Met's production of Elektra. Just do it.

Wandering

Spent some time wandering around the city today with my new toy.

Click through the gamma-matching screen (you'll see a bunch of gray boxes; pick the one that looks the most gray) and then click on "New York City".

Now I'm off to the opera...

Making up for lost time

First off, I managed totally neglect Liz, Matt and Mike, the NYC Blogger Crew, who also represented at the NYC Blogger Bash 3 (sorry, no pictures -- they all left before the cameras were whipped out!).

Second, it' amazing how many things you can find to spend time on when you're unemployed.

Like, say, going to the dentist for the first time in years.

My teeth feel very, very clean.

Of course, my gums hurt, but what do you expect?

A Few Brief Things

Be there, be square, you know the rest.

. . .

Mike Whybark is doing a bang-up job of Rememberance month (certainly much better than I). Really great, moving stuff.

. . .

Sasha Castel has moved her web home! She can now be found (with a spiffy new layout, too) at http://sashacastel.com.

. . .

I predict that something very unfortunate will happen to my wallet here in the not too distant future.

See you on the flip side.

Join The Beer Liberation League!

If you're at the Big Apple Blogger Bash 3 and you're wearing a PFLI&M T-shirt (or at least wave a receipt in my face show me a receipt), you will get, yes you guessed it, a free beer.

Stay tuned folks; more ways to get free beer coming soon!

Dreams

I had an anxiety dream last night. I was back in college (an unspecified college: it looked a lot like my alma mater, but it wasn't) and I was walking down the sidewalk when I realized that I had signed up for a course that I hadn't actually bothered attending all semester.

It's funny: I've never had the "show up naked in class" dream or anything like that. I've generally avoided academic dreams. But this one (well, not this specific dream, but the theme of having registered for a course and then forgetting to actually go to class) is something that comes back to me. Not often, not all the time. I couldn't tell you the last time I dreamt of this (months, or more likely years). But it keeps coming back.

Dreams are funny like that. Sometimes you can have exactly the same dream (or at least you remember it being exactly the same dream) repeated periodically over years. And sometimes it's not exactly the same dream (like this one) but the themes repeat themselves over and over.

And, of course, sometimes they just make no sense whatsoever.

The Beer Liberation Front, not be confused with...

Please join Ken Goldstein, Caryn Solly, and I in marking the founding of the Beer Liberation Front (that's what he means when he says "Free Beer", right? Kind of like "Free Willy"?) at the Big Apple Blogger Bash 3.

You are going to be there, right?

Contest!

Added a question to the FAQ. First person to correctly identify which question and what it means wins a T-shirt.

And speaking of T-shirts, I've made some slight modifications (by reader request) to the Paul Frankenstein Light Industry and Manufacturing store. A few products added; a few taken down. So if you haven't visited recently, go now and buy something!

(Update: if you're feeling stumped, you can always go to google and check the cached version against the new one)

The Morning News

The Morning News has an absolutely fantastic piece about New York by Magdalen Powers up now. It's a beginner's guide to New York, and it's absolutely fantastic. Check it out.

Which reminds me: does The Morning News have a monopoly on writers with really cool names? Magdalen Powers. Claire Zulkey. Rosecrans Baldwin. Tobias Seamon. Yancy Strickler. Woodwyn Koons. I mean, those are just really cool names. That, and they can all write really well.

. . .

D'Lish Day At The Donk -- Double Entendres the Daily Delight -- Dat Dere Dem's Some Damn Good Dish

. . .

Bad news: Warren Zevon has been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.

She Said, He Said

He Said, She Said: a Paul Frankenstein Light Industry and Manufacturing co-production with Michelle Foster's Mindsketches.

Today's topic: Hope.

She

what am i hopeful for?

so start at the beginning...
seems logical enough. it's no small pleasure for me to be able to say that i no longer wake up with a sense of dread. that brief interlude, twas a painful and recent enough experience that i would never wish it upon someone else. moving on and finding freedom from that was liberating, though not a visible path. it seems inherent to me that there is a sense of hope in my daily life, there is not an imminent fear upon waking.

i seem to look on hope as an ease.
a sense of relaxation within my self.
an inner warmth.
the feeling of late afternoon, autumnal sun on your bare skin.
while it's not an emotion and more a sense of being, it's easy to draw the line between these points.

what on earth am i hopeful for
i'll try to spare you the daydreamer list or the usual relationship garble. those seem to be given.

i hope...

  • for a knowledge of self
  • for someone to think I'm amazing (not necessarily in a romantic sense) more just as a person
  • for the ability to live life to the fullest
  • to not take things for granted
  • to have wild sex into my 60s (oh, you are reading this?)
  • to be the kind of friend that you just lean on without thinking about it
  • to walk the line
  • to watch more sunrises and sunsets
  • to give all that I can
  • to continue to try things that scare me
  • to be granted the gift of knowing souls across a lifetime
  • to leave a memory, to make an impact
  • to hope against hope
He wished, but not with hope. --Milton. How could he?
Me

Hope.

Well, there was this girl I knew named Hope, and...

Oh. You mean the other kind?

Well.

Roger Zelazny once wrote a short story that went something like this:

In a time long, long ago, when gods walked with mortals, two men waylaid a youth who carried a small box with him. The youth begged the men not to open the box, for it was Pandora's box, and it contained the most dangerous thing that ever had existed. The louts laughed at him, and opened it anyway (as louts tend to do). A bright light came forth, and a high clear voice said "I am Hope, and I will inspire men to believe that there can be a better world." The men, who were disappointed that the box was the only thing that the youth carried, were going to rough him up until they noticed that another traveller was coming down the road. "This stranger looks like he's loaded; we shall take him with the greatest of ease and retire on the proceeds!" they said, letting the youth go. The youth magically grew wings (literally) and flew up the road; as Hermes passed the strapping stranger, he said "Fair thee well, my friend Hercules."

That pretty much sums it up, I think.

So as a general rule, I try not to get my hopes up too much. 24 years of being a Red Sox fan will do that to you (some, perhaps more cynical than I, would say that growing up a Red Sox fan is a great way to prepare for life).

But still, we hope anyway. It's part of being human. Even Red Sox fans, who know even before the first pitch of the season is thrown that they're not going to win the World Series, hope. Every spring and summer the bars of Boston bustle with men and women, young and old, eagerly trading stories and speculation on how the beloved Sox will fare; though the names bandied about have changed over the years, from Teddy and Johnny and Dom through Yaz, Jim, and Pudge and on to Manny, Pedro and Nomar, the excitement and the, yes, hope stays the same. Maybe this will be the year that the hated Yankees self-destruct; maybe this will be the year that all the pieces come together and stay together.

Well, at least it does we hit the dog days of summer, when the Red Sox pull their traditional August swoon. It's funny: the Red Sox probably have the worst winning percentage in August of any professional sports franchise in any month. Great hitters suddenly turn cold; reliable ace pitchers abruptly pull up with odd, lingering injuries; balls take funny bounces; games are lost on freak plays that leave everyone in the stadium scratching their heads.

And as September draws to a close, the Red Sox fading to their traditional position five-to-ten games behind the Yankees (as of this writing they're 9.5 games out), the Red Sox Nation reluctantly switches off the television and settles back in their Barcaloungers. As eyes gently close in prelude to an early autumn nap, a million minds forget yet another lost season and instead wander forward to next spring, when the grass is verdant and lush and the Red Sox are, once again, back in first place.

That, my friend, is hope. And that, my friend, is why it's important.

One Year Ago

Remember

This month's theme is

Remembrance.

Yes, This Is Filler.

More new content coming soon (i.e. tonight, after I get home).

But until then:

A Few Notes...

Just a few things before the weekend (I'll be down in DC, so no blogging for a few days):

  • Go visit The Ken Goldstein Project.
  • Speaking of Ken Goldstein, I should point out that he's an excellent poker player.
  • As is Caryn Solly, who is quite fetching as a redhead.
  • Sorry, no pictures.
  • But if you come to The Big Apple Blogger Bash III, you'll get to see her in all her flame-haired glory for yourself.
  • You are coming, aren't you?
  • The latest (and last, unless you (and yes, I'm talking to you, not the next fellow) send some nominations in) nomination for a September theme (which I guess won't get unveiled until next week, since I won't be blogging (or anywhere near a computer, for that matter) over the weekend) is monkeys!
  • This space intentionally left blank.
  • Note to self: next time, don't use sweet onions.
  • Good news: I'm no longer #1 on Google for Klingon G--- R---. Bad News: I'm still ranked above Wil Wheaton.

Leah McLaren & Monthly Themes

| 1 Comment

Ok, this really is the last time I write about this.

The whole Leah McLaren/Gwyneth Paltrow vs. English Men thing has gotten totally out of hand (and for the blokes out there who are looking for pictures of the pulchritudinous Ms. McLaren, I dug one up for you, so be happy (yes, that's her there in the corner)). Now both the New York Times and MSNBC have weighed in. The Times rebuts any and all charges of Anglophilia with the headline What Is It About British Men? Cheap, Drunk and Stiff Lipped (they said it, not me). And MSNBC (it's actually an AP story, but whatever) stands up for British manhood and takes some pokes at St. Gwynnie in the process in the oddly titled Gwyneth Paltrow vs. British press.

Moving on (finally, I hope), I'm still trying to work out what exactly this month's theme is going to be.

I've lots of nominations (thank you all), including but not limited to:

  • Processed Cheese: Why it's not REAL cheese. I know it seems a limited subject, but there are SO many kinds (velveeta, kraft singles, cancer in a can spray cheese) and SO many reasons to despise it.
  • I vote for POWER! (what's the line - the blow job is the new hand shake? You can start with that one)
  • Ambition at the edge: the fringiest things people will do to get ahead.
  • Singles, as a contrast to August's Relationships, in honor of those of us who are happily single and don't need a man or woman to make us happy, but enjoy dating and all the rest.
  • You've done relationships, now do what follows -- Sex! We want Sex! Lots and lots of Sex! [rest of suggestion deleted]
  • Gastronomy Month. All food, all the time.

So, I'm still making up my mind (so many choices, so little time...), but if you (you, yes you there reading this on company time, I'm talkin' to you) have another suggestion, mail me!

In other news, I hope to be moving this site to paulfrankenstein.org soon (don't go there, there's nothing there right now); coincident with the site move will be a switch to MovableType (I was gonna try to write my own, but after I drew up my initial spec, I said "screw it"). The move to MT means that I'll actually have permalinks! And comments! And other nifty goodies!

A Relationship Month Coda

My friend Dirk asked me once why the eternal lament of the American single man/woman was that it was so hard to find anyone.

My flip answer was that it's because dating sucks.

That's also my non-flip answer.

It's a totally artificial way to find a mate (or at the least, someone to have sex with). There's nothing natural about it. Between the strained conversation (gee, that's, uh, fascinating), the flailing, futile attempts to find common ground (so, do you prefer oysters or snails?), the gnawing personal insecurities (is she looking at my bald spot?), the inevitable awkward pauses (umm.... ahhh... err...), and the impossibility of reading a total stranger's body language (is he leaning forward for a kiss or does he always lean forward slightly?), it's a wonder that anyone ever makes it to a second date, let alone procreate.

Dating is a system predicated on the utterly implausible notion that a chance meeting with a stranger will successfully result in a happy relationship; and then there's the even more absurd notion that the unavoidable rejection that is the result of the first premise (s/he is gay/straight/married/not looking/finds you unattractive/repulsive/would rather mate with a half-blind tuberculosis-ridden bacterian camel with psoriasis/all of the above) won't emotionally scar you to the point where contact with the rest of humanity is so painful that you are forced to retreat into Kaczynskiesque hermithood.

Maybe it's just me, but that's just plain stupid. I'm not even going to go into (OK, just a little) the rules (not The Rules) and regulations that cover these sorts of things. The Three-Day-Call rule in particular I always have trouble with. I can never remember if you aren't supposed to call until three days are up or if you have to call before three days are up. In any event, who decided that three days was the threshold? Is there a committee for these sorts of things? An ANSI/ISO standard? Are you going get into trouble if the date isn't ISO-9000-compliant?

Personal ads seem to offer a way around the problem of trying to hook up with a total stranger. The logic is simple and irrefutable: describe who you are and what you want, and let the market do the rest. This is simple and irrefutable, save one simple fact: the person that you read about in the ad is not who you're going to meet. The person described in the ad is the writer's own idea of who they are, which is inevitably wildly inaccurate (at best). Even seemingly immutable properties are subject to stretching (4'11" stretches to 5'2"; 230 pounds magically melts into 205 pounds; "intelligent" means they can find the spell-check button; almost bald turns into "sandy blond hair"; "well-read" refers to either comic books or Vogue; and so on). And even if you can survive the fun-house mirror self-portraits, expectations are so high that they're laughable (geek ISO 98 lbs, 5'10" blonde with comic-book boobies or bubblehead ISO billionaire sugar daddy, must be 24-27, 6'4", 120 lbs, lotsa muscles).

Each personals provider has their own house style. Everyone who advertises on nerve.com (or its affiliate sites, like Salon, The Onion, and so on) is a humorous hipster (and they often fail totally in their attempts to be irritatingly highbrow; "My most embarrassing moment? I'm not telling, but it involved a This American Life transcript, 3 quarts of tequila, and a Wesley Crusher action figure"), while posters on craigslist are unusually specific and often just plain nuts ("I'm looking for a petite South Asian woman. NO TRANNIES PLEASE!"). Match.com (which is owned by Ticketmaster, which leads one to wonder if they levy a 15% "service charge" on dates, but that's another story) petitioners are whitebread (regardless of their actual ethnicity) and painfully earnest ("I'm a 32-year-old SWM who likes sailing and white wine. Looking for SWF with similar interests. I have a wild side, though; I've got a small tattoo on my ankle!"). The New York Review of Books has personals populated almost entirely with academic/professional women of a certain age (and up) who are inevitably "slim, active, and funny", with the occasional plea for an adulterous affair; and loveisadogfromhell.com seems to draw depressed last-resorters.

The only sure thing about personal ads are the hours of entertainment they provide.

Another problem with dating is the "over-the-shoulder" phenomenon (I suspect that this is primarily a big city thing, but I could be wrong). Let's say that you meet someone who's fairly interesting. And, miracle of miracles, they seem to find you interesting as well (at least they tolerate your presence, or they don't actively object to you). But there's something about them that bugs you. Just a little. Maybe it's their laugh. Maybe it's a gap in their teeth that reminds you of your sophomore English teacher, the one who was fired for sleeping with a 16-year-old student. Maybe it's the fact that they're stoned 24/7 (that would explain the don't actively object thing, wouldn't it?). Whatever it is, it's something. And then you start looking over your shoulder. Maybe there's something better out there. Someone who doesn't have that annoying little something. Maybe there's someone who's nice who doesn't have SuperFund-strength BO all the time. So poof, there goes another promising relationship down the drain.

And then there are the Checklist Corps. I know them, you know them, we've all seem them. These are those people who draw up every possible feature that they're looking for in a mate. You name it, they've got it on their list. Didn't go to the right school? Too bad. Hair the wrong color? You're outta luck, buddy. Don't hold your fork the right way? The exit's thataway, pal. Buy your chinos at an inappropriate store? Those boots were made for walkin', and you'll be walkin' out that door. I think that the nicest thing I can say about the Checklist Corps is that they lack imagination and daring. I certainly won't be dating them anytime soon. Not that I would want to. Unless she was really hot (I would, of course, have to lie like Nixon facing a microphone to fit the checklist, but that's another story).

Is there a better system? I think that the fact that there's a system at all is not a good sign. Maybe we should just let the eagle fly with the dove and love the one we're with. Of course, eagles have a bad habit of eating doves, so maybe that's not such a good idea.

Is it all worth it? I can't answer that question. It's different for different people. I don't think that there's a better feeling than being loved by someone you love. But maybe that's just me.

For more on Relationship Month, visit the August 2002 archive, available at all the links in the paragraph or over there on the right.

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