Thursday, September 28, 2006


From, a website designed to help you plan your trip to the beach:

Q: Is it permissible to drink alcohol on the beach in Los Angeles County?
A: No. Alcoholic beverage consumption is not allowed on any beach in Los Angeles County. Remember: Swimmers who drink are sinkers.

Today's book/Today's plant

I have been leaving this extremely popular element out of my posts for a while! Today's book is "Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology," edited by David Ulin. It was a cool birthday gift from my brother, who is also named David, but was not involved in editing the book. I love the idea - I can finally quit compiling a mental list of authors to read in order to Understand L.A. (uh, James Ellroy?) and just dive into this collection. The excerpts are arranged chronologically, and while this is helpful, I'm still back in 1915 and it sort of feels like reading a textbook, as most of the selections from that era are essays of some type. I can certainly cope, but it's a bit dry after my last books, "Dune" and "Dune Messiah." Rereading them was a great way to fulfil my summer sci-fi quota (I still need a Greg Bear to top things off) and lay some groundwork for reading about a desert city. Would the rape of the Owens Valley have occurred if the Chandlers had thought to invent stillsuits? Probably not.

Today's plant: My adorable Pinguicula, which is blooming and looks like this. I'm not convinced it's the same type of plant - the one in the photo is probably temperate, while it seems reasonable to guess that a random Ping bought in L.A. would be a Mexican variety - but the flower is similar. Although mine is infinitely more beautiful, of course. The last time I got a Ping to flower, the whole plant immediately rolled over and died, so I'm trying not to get too attached. We have a well-meaning gardener who likes to shower my plant rack with the hose, dousing my fragile carnivores in toxic, mineral-loaded tap water. I have asked him not to.

Who is going to believe a talking head?

Art Boy and I ripped into a helpless flank steak earlier tonight and then sat down to watch "Re-Animator." He got to see it in high school, on account of he was a boy and got to do cool things. I had never seen it! Gosh, it was great. I could have done without the sequence involving that poor cat, but at least it was fake-looking, and the rest was just spectacular. (OK, the severed-head-oral-rape sequence was rather distressing as well, and it did not look fake enough.) It was gory, it was witty (I loved the Stop Making Sense poster) and it had some really inspiring special effects. I'm getting excited for Prombie*!

This afternoon we went to the Getty Center, which was very nice. I wore my Phnglui shirt, which I almost never wear. We split off so I could wander around the blindingly bright gardens and Art Boy could look at, you know, art. I sat down under a tree to figure out what some plants were. A young man in a baseball cap walked by and gave me a sidelong glance.

"Great shirt," he said as he passed.

"Thanks!" I said brightly.

And then he turned around. "Say," he began. "Did you see that Justice League episode where Solomon Grundy fights Cthulhu?"

I hove a mighty inward sigh. "No," I said pleasantly.

"Oh, it's so awesome. Of course, they don't say it's Cthulhu, but it totally is. And then later, Solomon Grundy comes back from the dead, and -"

His cell phone rang. "Hang on," he said. "Hey, Mom. Yeah. OK. I'll be right there. I'm down in the garden so it might be a few minutes."

He hung up. "So Solomon Grundy comes back as a zombie, and he's clearly possessed by Cthulhu. It's so awesome. Is that a real society?" peering intently at my chest. I told him it was and gave him the URL, and he went away. Something like this always happens when I wear that goddamn thing. I asked Art Boy if this happens to people who wear Old Navy T-shirts, and he said no.

*Prombie might happen again, but if it does, it will be in San Francisco around April and will involve probably these zombie flashmob people. Amazingly, though, it could actually happen. If it does, I will be sure all previous attendants get an invitation and adequate notice, and I'll do my best to find you a place to stay.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Prancing ahoy!

Just glanced over at the TV here at work -- which is right next to my desk, always turned on and always turned to a sporting-event -- and saw my first commercial for "The Prestige." Hugh is going to be prancy. Christian is going to be smoldering. Who knows what David Bowie and Andy Serkis will do... Emma is excited!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

your scribe, the slavering geek

After work last night I went to a fundraising party for this theater. It was quite nice; everyone was friendly even though I didn't really know anyone, and I spent most of the time talking to a Swedish ninja. I tried to tell Art Boy about it after getting home.

Me: ... Oh! And I met the makeup girl from Call of Cthulhu!
Art Boy: You are the biggest geek I have ever met.

In unrelated geeky news, my long-awaited copy of "The Complete Grower's Guide to Carnivorous Plants" arrived yesterday! I was eating a peach and reading Doonesbury on the front lawn (life is so good here) when the mailman came up. "Is this yours?" he said, holding out the Amazon box. I knew what it was and practically somersaulted over to him. Hooray! I've been waiting for this since April! The book is gorgeous - I've barely skimmed the surface so far, but it just has exquisite photos, many taken by author and Carnivorous Plant FAQ lord Barry Rice. (There's a nice photo of an Utricularia cultivar called Cthulhu. See how everything in this post ties together?) And the chapter on cultivation looks very practical - rule number one is to always assume your plants are under stress. Which is refreshingly realistic. I'm going to go out and snuggle my Nepenthes.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Isis' adventures in crawlspace

When I got home last night, one of our cats (not the new rocket cat) had somehow gone missing. Art Boy had opened no doors or windows since seeing her last, but she just wasn't in the house. Not under the bed, not in the closet ... we poked around checking her hiding places, and trying to think of what new ones she might have invented, and then we found the hole in the closet wall. It led straight down. We had noticed it upon moving in and plugged it up, but someone had managed to get it open again... Now, Isis loves nothing more than hiding in a nice basement, which was her favorite pastime at my last apartment. But here we do not have a basement, just a sort of giant crawlspace under the house. It has a couple of vents that are open to the outside, through which a cat could easily fit. We went out and shone flashlights through the vents, and called and opened her favorite food, but there was no sign of her.

So we'd just given her up for Gone Exploring, and were going to bed, when a hideous caterwaul shattered the night. It seemed to come from every direction. Art Boy, who was feeling awful about losing the cat while just being in the house, immediately identified it as coming from around back. I threw on a shirt over my jammies (it's cold here, dammit) and raced around with the flashlight. There she was, having evidently just reentered the crawlspace. What prompted the caterwaul? What adventures did she have out in the great wide world? We opened another can of food, she came right to it, and we wrangled her inside. Once in the kitchen I tried to give her a welcome-home snuggle. She buried her claws in my scalp and launched herself across the room. It was 5 a.m. Fracking cats.

Today we are all unharmed except that my scalp itches from where the claws dug in. Art Boy is very sensibly still asleep.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The latest from home

Our cats have turned into marauders. they have hardly touched their cat food, and a couple of days ago, Dad found the remains of a wood thrush in the garage, plus a goldfinch wing.

Has the article about the filming of "Thong Girl" in the Gallatin mayor's office been on the wire?? It's worse than Bill Boner playing the harmonica!

Gotta stop--looking at this computer screen is making me nausous.

Love, Mom

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Our new rocket cat is on his way to us as I write. We are somewhat nervous about adopting a special-needs kitty, but we're excited too. Art Boy in particular is looking forward to having another guy around the house. Hopefully he won't immediately blow himself up or run away or anything.

We've been rather taking it easy since we got back from Santa Fe. It just feels good to be back from vacation, and it feels like we're home. I need to find some new non-work activities; yoga really just isn't doing much for me anymore. I usually come out of class wanting to strangle the teacher. My ideal would be a dance class, but not having taken one since grade school, I am pretty nervous about the very idea. Also, many adult dance classes are partner-oriented, and you can bet that Art Boy is not going to learn to salsa, merengue or swing with me.

Anyway, here are some photos from Santa Fe:

Art Boy explores the caves at Bandelier National Monument.

Some very cute plants huddled in the rocks at Bandelier. Aww! I'll protect you, little plants!

Art Boy and Music Boy think about being Prehistoric Boys.

Plaza, Santa Fe, during Fiesta, in the rain! Have a wet Navajo Taco. It was fun.

Art Boy is trying to pry me from the computer by blasting all his snarkiest iTunes. I am currently enduring the "Land of the Lost" theme song, complete with T-rex roars... This is what I put up with in order to communicate with you readers.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The wedding

I think this about sums the week up.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sometimes They Come Back

....From Santa Fe. We are back and dehydrated from drinking so much. It was a great long weekend. Our house has been declared Termite-Free and the cats were safely recovered from the kennel, although they ate almost nothing while they were there, so we have to watch them closely over the next few days. Oh, and the gas was turned off for termite purposes and not turned back on, so there's no hot water and we can't use the stove. Also, the front window, which was removed for mysterious termite purposes ONE MONTH AGO, is now being noisily replaced. Also, I got invited this morning to a very nice-sounding fundraiser that I cannot attend because of work.

On the other hand, I got some sweet birthday presents, including a The Economist style guide from my brother and a lovely lavender plant. And some fabulous cards. And a friend of ours gave the Humane Society a donation in memory of Stella. And there's a chance we'll have hot water tonight. Things are pretty good.

This is an extremely self-absorbed post for the fifth anniversary of 9/11/01, but I just really haven't got much to say about it that I haven't been saying for five years. The president is a twat.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

It was in the dark of September 9th that the horror broke loose.

And truer words our dear H.P. Lovecraft never wrote. I was born in the dark of September 9, and this Saturday I will be 30. I'm going to somebody's wedding that I don't really know, and dear readers, I am going to get drunk.

If you haven't read "The Dunwich Horror," the full text is here.

Art Boy and I are off to Santa Fe for said wedding. Talk to you kids on the other side of 30.

I call her Red

I asked my mom about the red thing and here's what she said:

Now, about red at a wedding: I wore a red dress once, and looked around to see if I were the only one that did; I was, so I haven't since, although I have seen both white and black, which I thought were more taboo than red.
My advice is that in Santa Fe, anything goes; you are no longer in the Deep South, with "your mama and them" looking you over.

This only deepens my confusion and alarm. (There's nothing worse than feeling as though the disembodied spirits of your mama and them are looking you over; see diamond entry below.) Solution: Wear an old and respectable dress, and spend dress money on spa treatments to achieve Inner Glow.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Today's universal post title: Crikey

I was at work last night when someone sent out a group message with the news alert "Steve Irwin killed." You should've heard the gasps that went up. Everyone was distressed. When someone read aloud "Stingray barb?" I just thought it was a joke. You step on stingrays, they make your foot swell up; they don't kill you. There are so many deadly marine animals in Australia - such as the stonefish, which DOES kill you almost at once if you step on it. Stingray barb to the chest is a rare and bizarre way to die. (A "freakish death," as Australia's prime minister put it today.)

The Sydney Morning Herald has a harrowing description of Irwin's last animal encounter, which of course was caught on video:

Without warning, the ray, usually regarded as a placid creature towards humans, stops, turns and lashes out, spearing Irwin in the chest with one of the knife-like barbs at the end of its tail - an action like a paring knife creating "a terrific tearing of flesh", said Bryan Fry, of the University of Melbourne's Australian venom research unit.

I mean, good heavens.

We were all sad at the office, and I was unreasonably down after getting home. He was someone everyone knew and probably imitated at some point, and it was because he did something really cool: hung out with animals everyone was afraid of, and showed you what was nifty about them. Tavern Wench has a sweet tribute up. Cheers, Steve. I'm so sorry for Terri & the kids. The image of Terri sorting through a huge closet of pocketed khaki shirts is almost too sad to contemplate.

(If you followed the SMH link above, here's a definition of "larrikin.")

Saturday, September 02, 2006


I've been holding back from posting on this at Art Boy's request, but as he's now posted over at his previously word-free site, Stella here died last week. It was his loss more than mine; we've just moved in together, and I loved Stella, but she was indisputably his cat. I'm not sure I can overstate their bond. The news was a shock and my primary reaction has been overpowering rage. I would have killed anyone who got between him and that cat. Loving someone and seeing them suffer like this is hideous. At the vet's, when we went to see her afterward, I wanted to throw myself against the walls, pull them down, do SOMETHING. It wouldn't have helped, of course, and not having a direction for the anger makes it even worse. (Mostly turns it inward, actually.) It's the helpless fury of the failed protector that has motivated so many bad-action-movie heroes. Good thing I'm a Quaker.

We do think she's still around, though. The morning we got the news, someone jumped up on the bed and started to walk up between our legs. I assumed it was one of my cats, and we looked, and no one was there. We looked at each other. "Did you feel that too?" Art Boy said. The bedroom was really her territory - if my cat Anastasia came in, Stella would run her out. Anastasia still won't go near it. If I try to carry her in, she wriggles out of my arms and runs to the other end of the house.

I miss Stella. She was a good kitty and good to Mike, to say the very least. If you have cats, please keep an eye out for the symptoms of hepatic lipidosis. There are worse things than a trip to the vet.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Real is the new fake?

I sort of ignore YouTube, being a cranky old bitch, but apparently there's an interesting drama unfolding over whether a series of intriguing footage is real, a hoax or a brilliant ad campaign. Nick Spencer has a post on it and the New York Times runs down the possible scenarios.

Sci-fi cutie William Gibson saw it coming in his only novel set in the present.

On another note, my sister has informed me that you can't wear red to a wedding. What the hell?