Sunday, January 30, 2011

Good lord it's 4:18 am and I've been up for a good hour or so. I drank a cup of coffee too late in the evening and even with my sleepy pill I take I think it's disrupted things. Now I'm huddled over my computer with all the lights off. I figured the less lights on the better if I actually want to get some shut eye. It doesn't help that I'm huddled over a screen of light. I never get tired when I'm sitting in front of a computer shining light pretty much directly into my eyes. I think the first key would be to not get on the computer if I'm thinking about trying to sleep -- I definitely won't get tired now. I have noticed that I tend to get a detached experience of myself when I'm on a computer -- I might not even notice I have to go to the bathroom or that my legs are numb or something when I'm sitting in front of a computer. That can't be good.

Anyway, I don't have other lights on so I can't see the keyboard all that well, and one of the cats is sitting next to me and I can see its eyes. And I can hear his cute little tubby breathing, my little pigglesnort! Sidenote: lately I've been enjoying when I go to pet a cat they do this things where right before your hand touches them they squint a little a move their ears down, getting ready for you to pet them, sort of like it's preparing itself for getting some love. Anticipation of cuteness! The other one just jumped up and now I'm surrounded by cats! La! I never grow tired of them and I never ever ever take it for granted how amazing it is that there are such things as animals living with us. Like I can look at the cats and be like, "Oh my god! We have real animals here!" and kind of imagine our kitties as pumas -- I can see that non-domesticatedness in them, if that makes sense. It amazes me and I love it. I would like to get some other pets too, but that's a whole lot of extra work that I don't have the time for right now. But I would love to have a dog. Well, when the kitties move on to their next realm, Joe and I will get a pug. I will mourn the loss of the kitties, so I think I would have to wait a little.

Finally I'm getting to some of the e-mails that seem to pile up super quick, and the internet is slow and sluggish lately, so it takes forever for anything to load. I hear that that seems to be true for a lot of internet processing lately because apparently Netflix is responsible for a lot of the slow down because of all the live streaming. Like I heard (read?) that that's responsible for like 85% of internet traffic or some crazy statistic like that. People! You do NOT need to be watching "Babe 2 In the City" or whatever at 4am. That'll do, pig! So now I have to find something to do while each page takes 27 million hours to load. So that means continually coming back to writing on the blog. That probably slows my computer down.

In other news, I am signed up for I-Tunes alerts when certain recording artists have new things on I-Tunes but the alert reminders are sending me things I have no interest in. This time around the alert is for Olivia Newton-John's "A Celebration In Song" and "You Can't Touch This - Single" by DJ Party. That second one kind of makes sense because being an enjoyer of karaoke I think that one is a karaoke version, and I do remember signing up to get certain types of karaoke alerts, so I guess that sort of makes sense. But why Olivia?

Yesterday at work I was going through a frontlist catalog (as in the catalogs for the next season's releases which I preorder to sell at the store) for the comics/graphic novel publisher Fantagraphics. I saw a solicitation to preorder Tardi's The Arctic Marauder that was described as being an "icepunk adventure." I had to investigate because I assumed that was in some way related to steampunk, which indeed, it looks so. What I really wanted to see was a picture of Vanilla Ice wearing brass goggles but the only thing that Google pulled up when I put in "Vanilla Icepunk" were mashups that fused the aforementioned Mr. Ice with Daft Punk. So much for that.

Bah! It's 5:16am. I can't believe I'm still at this. In 7 hours I go for an art consultation with the tattoo artist who is doing my next tattoo! I am very excited. He's Patrick at Speakeasy Tattoo, and he's doing some botanical illustration stuff on me. He's so popular that I had to book him like a year in advance!

Ah! Joe's awake! Someone to keep me and the cats company.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Karaoke and Serial Murder

I finished reading Ryu Murakami's Popular Hits of the Showa Era. It was published in the mid 90s, like around 1994, but now it is finally being released with an English translation in the states. So it's about these two groups seeking revenge on each other. One is a group of young men who get together to hang out and experience existential angst and start laughing for no reason, and then also sometimes they do karaoke together. One night one of the young men murders a woman who is kind of like a Japanese version of an "old maid" -- not really old, but unmarried and in her 30s, too young to be a "cougar" but too old to be considered appetizing in a traditional lame businessman-looking-for-a-wife, although sometimes they can be divorced and have joint custody of a kid. Bla bla bla. So the woman has this group of friends that avenge her death, and then the 2 groups become these waring factions. All of this sounds to me like "Meh. BUT, here's the part that pulled me in, and that is there's this whole karaoke connection. So both factions are really in to karaoke. Unfortunately, although I have done karaoke in Japan, I didn't know any of the songs they were really talking about. But I think the title of the book is taken from the Showa songs that the women do in the book -- showa being a genre of music that's kind of like a Japanese equivalent to what Americans think of as "oldies" (for the sake of simplicity). So of course, I had to read it. Any time I find any sort of reference to karaoke somewhere, my karaoke radar immediately goes off, and I have to go suss it out. In fact, I am really obnoxious about it. The only way I can explain my karaoke fetish is such that my husband's mom was wasting away in a private room in a nursing home and they made an announcement that they were doing karaoke in the main TV room and my husband had to virtually hold me down to stay in the room. There are 3 things that are like crack to me: pugs, Britney Spears and karaoke. If you had a pug wearing a pink wig and a shirt that says "I heart karaoke" my world would pretty much explode.

Anyway, I noticed that they have a movie that was made of the book. It is called Karaoke Terror, and there seems to be a general consensus that it blows. But I moved it to the top of my Netflix queue anyway. That will fit in just fine with the serial killer movie/documentary phase I'm going through right now. Well, to be more accurate, I was going through a true crime/serial killer reading phase a few years ago when I put it all in my queue, but since the queue is so long it took that long to get here. The other night I watched American Psycho and by and large it was pretty preposterous, like so over the top. I mean, I know it was supposed to be, but even that sort of tongue in cheek-ness was over the top. I enjoyed the monologues he did while he was preparing the grisly murders he would do (which reminded me very much of Dexter, which I have seen a few seasons of and read the first book -- although I want the whole show just to be Dexter's sister). Anyway, Christian Bale's character would talk about the critical aspects of the later work of Huey Lewis, or the merits of Whitney Houston's version of "Greatest Love of All," or even something equally ridiculous about Phil Collins. Those were like little nuggets of hilarity (or something) to me, that I think would be awesome to memorize. I could take or leave the rest of the movie or any of the grisly murder stuff, but those little nuggets of monologueyness about top 40, those were the parts I liked. If they could just distill it down to those moments, that would have been enough for me. For example, I will paste in some of the more preposterous things I enjoyed that Christian Bale's character said (I don't know if his character says them in the Brett Easton Ellis book since I never read it but I have to imagine they probably are there):

*"But I also think Phil Collins works best within the confines of the group, than as a solo artist, and I stress the word artist," I almost want to sample that. like if I was into making sound art collages or something."
*"When Sports came out in '83, I think they [Huey Lewis and the News] really came into their own, commercially and artistically."
*"It's hard to choose a favorite among so many great tracks, but "The Greatest Love of All" is one of the best, most powerful songs ever written about self-preservation, dignity. Its universal message crosses all boundaries and instills one with the hope that it's not too late to better ourselves."

I like the idea of doing "The Greatest Love of All" at karaoke and saying that at the beginning of the performance because I'm sure it would sound ridiculous -- and I'm sure it was supposed to sound ludicrous in the movie. Also! Sidenote: in the DVD extras there was discussion about how the movie studio originally wanted Leonardo DiCaprio to play the serial killer character! And it was right after Titanic came out! And Gloria Steinem told him not to do it. Interesting!

ANYWAY, so the Showa Era book -- perhaps I will check in about my thoughts after I see the movie. And then, if I am so inclined, I may go check out the movie they made based on another book by the same author, Audition. I think that might actually already be in my Netflix queue. In a strange twist of fate, I received Deepak Chopra: Seven Spiritual Laws (staring Olivia Newton John -- I swear to you now -- and there was part where she was supposed to be sort of illuminated from behind and it reminded me of her in Xanadu, where her and her fellow muse sisters are magically illuminated from a mural and then born into being in real life, all by the power of ELO magic) -- anyway, I received that DVD at the same time as some documentary about the cultural look at the archetype of the devil and how it manifests in different cultures. I guess I have a lot of interests or something. Also coming this week: Bollyrobics: Dance Workout. So you know, like I said, lots of interests.

Maybe the world needs more fiction books about karaoke. Are there any? I know there are stories about being getting lynched for doing "My Way." But I'm talking fiction. Which is funny, that the "My Way" thing is real and that it's happened in multiple countries! That is insanity.

A grant for a porpoise!

Excitement! I'm writing my first grant purposal. Proposal. Porpoisal. A grant for a porpoise! That's the best kind!

Ulch, it would help if I could spell it first.

Does anybody know about this stuff? Here are my ridiculous questions because I have an inability to understand directions even after reading them a million times:

*For funding history: Is a past crowd-funding thing considered a grant? Does "previously funded project documentation" just mean for grants or crowd-funding?
*For cash income: Does "total anticipated cash income" not include credit cards? Without credit cards I wouldn't be able to do the things I do...I don't make any money really from my work but I fund the project with my own paychecks from work, sort of. Mostly it's me with a credit card.
* As supplemental documentation, it says I can use a manuscript. Can that just be a copy of my zine-book thing? It's what I'll be asking for in grant money to reprint.

Who knows the answers to these wonders of the world? Inquiring minds want to know.

Today I was trying to put together some of those boxes that hold file folders and they had these directions on it that were like, "A flap next to D" etc., and no kidding, it took me SEVEN minutes to put one together. And the fucked up thing is I have to do this annually so I must be doing this every year, when I move the previously ended year's finance files down to the basement to put in the file folder box. How is it that I cannot remember this from year to year? I have been working there for almost TEN YEARS. (And then the next time the basement floods I'll swear loudly that the boxes got all wet.) The hilarious thing was I couldn't help think of that expression, "So and so is so dumb they kind find their way out of a cardboard box." Well I'm so stupid I can't even find my way into a cardboard box.

I think I might have some kind of attention span OCD thing mixed with adult ADD or something. Hey let's go see a movie! Just tonight someone was telling me that there's some kind of research that says that adults with ADD tend to focus better with coffee, but that it also then makes them sleepy. The person that told me this said that she can't sleep without it, and that she drinks a thermos of it to relax. How interesting! I feel like for me coffee makes me feel really inspired and in love with the world.

Anyway, following directions. I think I have some issues in reading and understanding them. Although one thing I am getting pretty good at is getting questions answered on-line. Today I full on just typed into Google: "My HL-2140 printer won't print and the drum is blinking orange. What do I do?" And I got an answer.

The answer was that I needed a new drum.

I shared this with my co-workers and then declared that the regularly scheduled drum circle will be cancelled.

I got one (1) laugh.

In other news: today's idea: I plan to get more exercise by chasing the cats around the house. Tubby fat cutie Tamago will hate it but I think his sister Oshinko will go for it.

Also, a good way for getting more exercise is regularly scheduled podcast listening time on my ipod. I subscribe to more podcasts than I could possibly listen to but I have very much been enjoying listening to Gay Pimpin' with Jonny McGovern (you can subscribe to it on I-Tunes, but you can check out him and his friends at I have been a fan of the Gay Pimp ever since I heard his "Soccer Practice" song when electroclash was getting big in the early 2000's. (What are they calling those years now? The awghts or something?) -- Anyway, he was on some compilation with other hilarious awesome danceable songs, like some song about putting lotion on your elbows. Anyway, so I'll set aside some time to just go out with my ipod, and I'll actually spend more time walking if I have something engaging to listen to. But so anyway! I have a few podcasts, and this one of them, that I listen to it so often that I kind of feel like the people on the show I am in some way related to. Like the 2 guys on the Stuff You Should Know podcast, Chuck and Josh? I feel like they're my brothers. So that's kind of how I feel about the Gay Pimp podcast. Like he's got all his raunchy and charming friends on the show and I feel like I'm always curious what new adventures they'll be sharing this week. I'm pissed at myself that I did not go see Jonny when he was playing in Chicago. I think I was really exhausted or something that night. Anyway, he's been doing the podcast since like 2006 so I still have quite a backlog to listen to, since the podcast thing is relatively new for me, like the past year or so. I also enjoy a few music and book podcasts, as well as the ridiculous I-tunes Celebrity Playlist Podcast. They have bands on playing stuff they like, and rarely are they particularly articulate, but sometimes I enjoy that. Peoples lack of skill with words can sometimes be as amusing as people's skill with words.  I also like the Onion's AV podcast. Amelie Gillette from the Onion used to have one and I lament that she does not do one anymore. I was always excited when a new one would be awaiting a listen. One thing that I do with podcasts when I'm listening to them at home through the computer and not my  ipod is that I make a deal with myself that I will not get caught up in not making noise when I'm getting shit done so that I can hear the podcast better. This means that I may get in the shower or something while it's playing and I might miss part of it, but that I just have to be OK with that. I think of it this way: instead of seeing the world in such a way that I have to hear everything that I want to hear at the expense of getting other things done, I get other things done and it just so happens that I have some entertaining things going on in the background, and sometimes they'll bleed into my hearing while I'm doing stuff. Otherwise, I could totally get caught up in getting nothing done because I have to make sure I'm not crunching too loudly or something, and I would never get to some of the other podcasts.

*And just as a footnote: I like electroclash. It's like if 80's music was good and each song wasn't like 87 minutes long.

Thank you goodnight!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Smoothie Operator

So today we went to Sultan's Market for lunch and as we were getting in the car I saw a sign that said, "Create your own smoothie" hanging in their window, and I thought I was extremely clever when I declared, "Create your own smoothie! Fabulous! A DIY smoothie." And then I started mooing, "Smoothie operator," and I was awarded the best-joke-of-the-day award by everybody in the car (which was three people).

And then I couldn't help but beguile my fellow car riders with the tale of the previous evening's perusal at work, going through the University of Chicago frontlist catalog (meaning the catalog of the upcoming season's new books that bookstores order to sell to shoppers) at work, and I noticed the announcement of the book Sade: Sex and Death, The Divine Marquis and the Surrealists, edited by Candice Black. I drew music notes and treble clefs and wrote "smooth operator" on it. My co-worker and I guffawed incessantly for three minutes and forty-seven seconds.

What has Sade been up to lately?

I don't really care. I just like making stupid jokes.

Also, I should mention that I was seated in my friend's Mini Cooper and I started rapping for the driver, but specifically the rap from from Madonna's "American Life" where she rhymes superduper with Mini Cooper. This was not as well received.

When I do things like this, I think in my heart of hearts I just want someone to go, "You're hilarious!" I have come to terms with this such that I have shared this point with my husband Joe. Now whenever we argue, even if it's totally inappropriate, just to end the argument he will say, "You're hilarious!"

I have not decided if this is better or worse than the advice Joe uses that my dad gave him at our wedding. My dad said, "You can always have the last word. That is, if the last word is Yes, dear."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Between a Heart and a Rock Place: A Memoir

So I finished reading Pat Benatar's Between a Heart and a Rock Place: A Memoir. It was pretty awesome. Not a lot of drugs or drinking or ego which make me love celebrity autobiographies (for example, right now I'm reading Belinda Carlisle's which is all sorts of -- you know what? I'll save it for later for when I finish it and write a blog post).

Notable things:

-Benatar was the last name of Pat's first husband, not the last name of her current husband (nor her maiden name)
-She makes money money selling her music through her own indie label even though she sells fewer albums
-She tours in the summer to support her family and not the whole year (because she doesn't need to)
-She would be OK with never making another recording ever again 
-her parents did not make a lot of money, and sometimes they didn't have enough money to buy toilet paper, and as a result as an adult, she has vowed to ALWAYS have lots of toilet paper in the house

I was very taken with her sense of self; growing up she was simultaneously really girly and had her friends that she did "girly" stuff with and loved that, and then also she was into doing "boyish" stuff with the males in her life, and this allowed her to really be her own person, and you can see how that plays out in the way her image is, especially as her career progresses. The record label early in her career was really playing up the sexy rocker chick thing even though she was ready to move on and do other looks too.

One thing that I thought was amusing was that growing up she was all about being the sexy catholic school girl and hiking up her skirt, long before Britney came along in the video for "...Baby One More Time." And she actually wrote something to that effect, actually mentioning Britney's name. That was a total aside in the book and not a major focus but because I am a Britney fan of course I have to point that out. (Speaking of which, new Britney song. She's paired up with producer Max Martin again, who -- bah! Another blog post for another time!)

Anyway, I was just thinking about how there's that line in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" where one of the character says something like, "Do guys really go for that Pat Benatar look?" I wonder what Pat Benatar thought about that line.

And oh! In other news! I just got a damaged copy of the new Patton Oswalt book Zombie Spaceship Wasteland at work and so I get to take it home and read it for free, which I am super excited about. Will it be as awesome as his stand-up? I hope so.

In other news, as part of 2011: The Revenge of Print my first printed thing that was technically printed in 2011 is a silly comic I made that was a response to the multitude of sad angsty animal comics (yes, there are tons, and in truth, I love them all really, I'm not complaining.) But I decided to do my own spin on it. So they're pictures of things like a fat seal with multiple chins, a sheep that's all sheep and a tiny head, a tubby walrus that says FATSO in big bubbly letters, a fat wiener dog, eand all sorts of silliness. And they're stapled all willy nilly. Contact me if you want one.. Or you can go to Quimby's where I left some in the free area. I know you're racing out to see my fatso animal drawings. Hippo hippo hooray!

Speaking of anthropormortization, Joe and I were watching the entire series of The Critic and agreed that the best episode was the one about Jay being a speech writer, and they show Bill Clinton as a one of the Hillbilly Bears. To view go here:

And then go to where the time is at the 8:15 point. HILARIOUS!