Saturday, August 31, 2002

Two Jews, One Hundred and Three Opinions
So last night I went to dinner at some friends round the corner, and the conversation inevitably turned to - as I'm sure it did around many a North London Friday night dinner table - the Sacks-Freedland thing going on in the Guardian.

Someone asked if Jonny Freedland was a self-hating Jew, which surprised me as as a question. I said no, he's a committed Zionist, but left-wing. My friends' kid, who's eight and has just spent three weeks at sports camp and looks at the world exclsuively through football-tinted spectacles picked up the conversational thread and said "I play right wing".

Here's the original interview - non-contentiously sub-headed "Guardian interview will shock Jewish community", so perhaps something of a self fulfilling prophecy, here's the letters page correspondence, here's Michael Harris's response, which he discussed with us over dinner last night, and here's Friday's follow-up , detailing the much prophesied Jewish communal rift.

And here's what I think: I'm as committed a Zionist and a supporter of Israel - even among her imperfections - as I am a supporter of a Two State solution. The Israeli Government has made some serious mistakes, and by the same token, is often misreported, especially in the European press. But the days when all Jews felt they were up against the wall, don't show them we disagree, are over. The war is over. They may well be out to get us, but I don't think a united-we-stand approach gains anything now, if it ever did. There's a well-known saying "two Jews three opinions" and it's just as true about Israel as any other topic. So it's perfectly possible to be a supporter of Israel, while concurrently criticising her mistakes. It doesn't make you any less of a Jew, and it doesn't make you any less of a Chief Rabbi.

This is the first time in my life I've agreed with Jonathan Sacks (although I'm sure he's unaware of our previous philosophical differences) - up until this point, if asked about him, I've always said: "he's not the messiah, he's just a very naughty boy."
Current Theatrical Desires
I'd like to see Ryman & The Sheik at the Soho Theatre - allegedly "a witty satire examining the nature of celebrity and the globalisation of culture" and Play Without Words at the National which "finds inspiration in cinematic forms, in this case British new wave cinema of the early 60s". Not sure if there are any words at all.

Friday, August 30, 2002

I have always presumed, but never know for sure, that Mornington Crescent is some huge Radio 4 Guardian-reading chattering classes meta-joke and I'm the only person who doesn't get it. True?

[link via dug]
Yesterday, sixish, I was going out to meet a friend for a drink in the City, and although it was sunny, I was wearing black jeans and a little - or not so little - black top. What I was wearing is not important to this story, I just like to have a full record. Anyway, as I closed my front door to the street, a guy walked past, and smiled at me. I smiled back. I realised we were flirting. I was in a hurry to get to the station, and was walking along, thinking to myself I am attractive, nice looking men are smiling at me. A few minutes later, I looked behind, and he was looking over his shoulder too. Cool. Then, as I got nearer the station, I crossed the Kilburn High Road, and as I looked right, he was still looking at me, and waved. I waved back.

What's good about this story is that (a) I am better at flirting than I used to be, and (b) it's evidence that I have returned to my maximum visibility weight (as in the highest weight I can be and still be visible). What's bad is, if he's a nutter, he knows where I live.
Been trying to get the hang of that newsreader thang for a while, and now the esteemed Ben Hammersely's written a how-to. Thank god.
Here's a - not very serious - dilemma. I go to get my legs waxed in a salon in NWsomewhere yesterday afternoon. A very nice girl does them; we chat, talk about clubbing, shopping and dieting (so that's all my conversation gone, then), and we're in a little treatment room at the back. She asks me where I live, and when I tell her, she replies that she lives in Crickewood, round the corner. And that she's all set up at home, and cheaper and nearer and would I like her number? Which I took.

Part of me respects her for her entrepreneurial approach to customer acquisition, and part of me thought she was cheating on her employer.

I take supplier-style relationships seriously: I've had the same optician since I moved to London - brother of a friend - I frequent hairdressers for years, often following them around from salon to salon like a hair-deranged stalker. Basing my loyalty on a small-business-know-your-customers principle, I think these outmoded values count for something. Don't know what. Or maybe I'm just living in the past and it's a dog-eat-dog world and I should brush up my act.
I can't think of anywhere better to post this: my house is litered with notes left in sensible places I can never find when I need them. So Rimmel Hydrasense flawless hydrating make-up in 103 (soft beige) for normal to dry skin is my current foundation, and I've nearly run out. I can't decide if I should replace it, or use up the myriad half-tubes I have in my bathroom, but I really like this one. Now, I'll be able to check an internet cafe if I have a sudden purchasing urge and forget the name. Magic.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Stephen Pollard says good stuff about the current Chief Rabbi debacle. I mean debate.
Me and Tom talk, sometimes...

Sasha: just saw your comment.. had me laughing
Tom: excellent
Sasha: chicks are weird TOO, you mean, though
Tom: hahah - if only.
Tom: chicks complain about men coming onto them too much
Tom: don't know they're born...
Tom: sigh.
Sasha: well, it's not generally a problem for me
Sasha: anyway... part of me still thinks you should meet my friend X
Sasha: despite his blond locks
Tom: ew. blond.
Sasha: lol
Sasha: you’ll never meet someone with that strict criteria
Sasha: anyway... must get ready:-) going on like a DATE:-)
Tom: fucking hell....
Sasha: fhell what?
Tom: date.
Tom: so not fair.
Tom: go on then complaining woman!
Sasha: barbelite, even
Tom: OH NO!
Sasha: you have the pick of them, technically
Sasha: hey... calm down
Tom: I'm bored of no one in my cult shagging me.
Tom: I only built it so I could get sex.
Sasha: you make me laugh
Tom: Everyone else bones up like rabbits.
Sasha: can I post this conversation?
Tom: Yeah, if you want.
No Food Diet Update
Very brief word on this: I have been doing this religiously for about a month now... less religiously for the last week or so. I gradually introduced small amounts of wheat or dairy to see what would happen (ie I got bored: it's not really that scientific), and I discovered they both make me feel sluggish and half-baked.

The good news is, I've lost nearly a stone. Which sounds a lot, but probably doesn't show that much to people who see me regularly. What's interesting to me is, that I'm now about two pounds (a kilo) away from the weight where I become visible again. It's an exact weight - which I'm not telling you, so don't even think about asking - where men notice me. So for a while now, a good couple of years, I've been walking around watching, observing, but not really participating. This isn't necessarily a bad thing: I get my fair share of offers, but not on the daily/regular basis I think slimmer people get.

The last time I was this weight, I went to fill up with petrol in a petrol station on Cricklewood Broadway, and the guy in the next car asked me for my phone number. When I smiled and said no, he followed me four exits on the M1 till he eventually lost interest, which was the exact point where I was moving from flattered to scared of stalkers.

And now, when I go out, people smile at me, look appreciatively and "come on to me" - I have no idea if there is a more grown-up word for this - flirt, whatever. I feel like I've just returned to the human race, and what I've discovered is that (some) men can be very persistent. And not all of them have a sense that women might not find them attractive. I'm sure there are men out there who just think it's a numbers game: ask enough women, someone's bound to accept.
Just met... a friend who prefer's not even to be mentioned by initial in my blog for a hi-speed lunch at the bar formerly known as Dominique's in West Hampstead. They did something truly unpleasant to the grilled tuna salad: I really don't recommend it.

Ran into an old friend/former flatmate with whom I parted on bad terms, though I don't actually remember what they were, and we said hi, but I was a little embarassed.

Everything me and my nameless friend talked about is like sub judice or whatever the blog equivalent is: Chatham House Rules? Blog House Rules? Blogger Boundaries. Dunno.
Almodovar - Talk to Her
Saw this at the Odeon Swiss Cottage with S - a police car conveniently stopped in traffic as I parked, so I could ask him if it was legal - and it was a true entertainment experience. We had a drink in Ye Olde Swiss Cottage beforehand: there's nowhere in that horrible roundabout to have a stylish yet inexpensive diet coke. Sadly. But it is like the country, I guess; sitting in the middle of a major intersection, with faux-Alpery all around you, talking above the noise and the fumes. It's like The Sound of Music with an industrial beat and a gas mask.

Although the bullfighting scene was a little disturbing, the movie's essentially a discourse on loneliness, although the meta-issue is belaboured slightly by a couple of superfluous conversations. What I like about Almodovar is that he's non-judgemental; he covers a range of slightly strange subject matter, and all with a you-decide perspective.

On balance: beautifully filmed, slightly cartoon-stylee relationships (why is the sucessful journalist intensely friendly with the recluse nurse, for example?) and is laden with coincidence. And wondrous dancing. And Benigno (the nurse) sounds like a car, doesn't he? The Fiat Benigno: it's boxy, buy it.

Why should I write a review? Here's what the Standard said, and the Independent.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

I can't find a pen, so this is just a list for me of what I want to say tomorrow:
1: Almodovar review
2: something about this: "a friend, asked at the gym about her training goals, responds: "I'm trying to stay at optimum dating weight"
3: no food diet update
4: other revenue generating options: writing CVs/copywriting. I mean, I can write, right?

and stuff I need to do:
1 apply for consumer direct mail job
2 chase those people I left messages for today (networking is my middle name) CL, RK, DS
3 follow-up freelance leads
4 call some new people
5 catch up with my roommate (it's been three days) and find out what she thought of Talking Cock in Edinburgh, as I recommended it
6 do my nails

OK, g'night. Sleep well.
Can't wait for White Teeth to get on TV. I mean, a book that starts "early in the morning, late in the century, Cricklewood Broadway" - how couldn't you love it? Especially if you live in the NW6/2 postal region. She was interviewed in the Observer at the weekend (which has only just caught up with me: I had a very late night Saturday, and went straight to Monday).

Other Zadie-isms: a piece she read aloud in Philly, and if you're in New York on 27th September, she's sharing a platform with Dave Eggers at the New Yorker Festival. And her new books out in October. And there's apparently an extract in a recent New Yorker magazine, but I can't find it anywhere...
Is there anyone still out there?
People used to comment; I liked it. I know the faded grandeur of my largely revenue-free lifestyle might pall, but I'd like to know you're still there. If you are.
So I'm number four for googling both on Brock Enright and on Victoria Coren. I guess that just proves John Hiler's point about how google loves weblogs: links, fresh content and high-speed meme-replication. Not that the Brock/Victoria thing is a meme, just that for some reason, there's no serious sites about either of them.

Hey: new freelance idea: I could be their agent.
It's not often you go to a gig and get a pre-gig knitting class with free wool and needles. I like the Union Chapel. If it wasn't a Friday, I'd definitely be there: off the wall stuff, that's what I like.
English slang. It's really, like, radio rental (mental).
I'm working on a new template. It could take some time. I know that the mouseover white links are tough on the eye. In the meantime: HTML colour names. Just what you always wanted, right?
Cool animation skeleton from vectorlounge.

[via anil dash]
Wanna laugh? Deloitte Consulting changed their name to Braxton a few months ago, but this ridiculous presentation just caught up with me now. Fearless? Grounded? No thanks, I just want a management consultant who can solve my problems, thanks.

This frankly riduclous trend of changing your name to something edifyingly stupid overwhelms me. What's wrong with good, old-fashioned just doing what it says on the tin?

Think I could make it as a branding consultant? I may have a fresh, new approach.
Teenage Kicks
You see this on Channel 4 last night? The witches - or wiccans, or pagans, it was all terribly confused and confusing - were almost without exception scarily middle class: Natasha and Leanne, the aliterative Woking Witches. Even the Essex grrls were the upmarket kind (Elaine, Debbie and Dawn). You can't help thinking that the production team asked around their chums to find the witches; I'm sure their must be witches of all colours and classes out there, but why reflect society in all its myriad complexity? And the bit where Sarah talks to her Mum while she does the ironing? It was soo set-up; "Sarah's Mum, could you just look old and boring for half an hour? There's a love." No-one I know has that much ironing (aside: especially younger people. I have one shirt than needs ironing that I rarely wear for that reason. Life's too short to iron.)

As far as I can tell, their "witchcraft" is a hotch-potch of pop-witchery (that stupid Titania spells book), Harry Potter and Buffy-style... hairstyles, at least. The underlying motivation seemed clearly be Heathers-like; almost without exception they talked about being loners, weirdos, on the edge of the crowd. Being in their coven (pronounced both to rhyme with covert and with a short O) gave them a sense of belonging. As one of the Woking witches so incisively commented: "this makes sense to us, I get it." Rather like you might get your trigonometry homework or a particuarly difficult passage of Latin.

And then vampires? Aren't they, like, completely different? That was Julian's plan: "I'm the only vampire in Peckam." I bet you are, sweetie, with that make-up. Anyway, it was such compelling TV I fell asleep before the end. Can't wait for next week's girl gangs one: "no, no, that's my lipstick, give it back." These programmes are giving girls a bad name: we're not all Sarah Michelle Gellar lookey-likeys with slightly vacant stares. Well, I am, of course.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

I just went to talk to my downstairs neighbour about a tree that fell down in our garden, and she gave me a sprig of rosemary, and a tied bunch of lavender. It's like the country here. A lot of people comment on the similarity between Kilburn and Provence, I tell you.
You know when you hear an advert and you're desperate to be reminded what the music is? Well now you can just check it out on Commercial Breaks and Beats. Which is deeply cool, but is another one of those love-not-money sites that proliferate online but eventually have to disappear. Like mine, I guess.
Rare insight into the workings of the male psyche: saw K at the weekend, and he told me he'd gone to a party, met a women he liked. They, like, got it on - whatever that means - and he asked her to go home with him. She was "holding out for something more" as he put it, and said no. He took her phone number, implying that he'd love to go out sometime, but as soon as she was out of eye-shot, he threw it away. As he said to me; she was right - he wasn't worth a one-night-stand anyway.
It's frivilous. It's girlie. It's kinda expensive. But somehow, talk of dressing up manicure-fu makes me feel better. And while I remember, I met a woman on the flight to Miami who had - slightly tacky, admitedly; all zebra print and gold - nails that really impressed me. She told me the secret's calgel. So now you know. She's said gel is kinder to your nail bed than acrylics, and she looked like she should know.
Those Jobs You Were Looking For
I'm kinda unsure what to do next. I didn't get the publishing job, even though I was in the last three. They apparently thought I was wonderful, would love to work with me, but I'm overqualified, and would I like to have lunch to give them some ideas. Oh, and they'd like me to do some freelance work for them one day in the future by which time I'll probably have no money at all.

And these people, who I met on August 1st, I followed up by phone, and was told someone would get back to me. This morning, I realised it was nearly a month ago, so I called again, and was told, sorry we hired someone else. Nothing personal. Poor of us not to get back to you.

So here's the plan: I'm going to redouble (or triple) my efforts to get freelance work. Here's what I can do:
+ business-to-business marketing - publishing, conferences, professional services (especially law), headhunting, recruitment
+ event management: everything from programme creation, marketing, sponorship sales and logistics
+ business writing: copywriting... anything, really

I've made a list of all the people I can contact, and I'm working my way through it. And if you have any ideas...
Tired and Emotional? Could be...
See, I have no idea what happened at Robyn's place, but I can't help wondering.

How my personal site interacts with people I know is something I've given a lot of thought to.

When I started out, in January, it was me and a couple of mates who read it. Literally a couple. After a little while, other people - more friends, online/weblog-style people - started reading. That was cool, too. If I got forty people a day I thought it was fun, and lots of them were IP addresses that I recognsied when I looked at my stats, and it was a little like having an intimate evening round my house; personal invites, people I knew.

Then two things happened: google started crawling my site, and I got mentioned in the Guardian weblog piece. Both of these things are cool: while I don't want to say that my self-esteem is derived from my stats, there is a certain buzz from a few hundred people visiting your site. It's what every writer wants: an audience. Even if they are only looking for huge boobs latin funk or the latest on Brock Enright or all manner of other disturbing and bizarre search requests. Suddenly, it wasn't an intimate dinner party any more: it was like one of those parties where everyone brings a couple of friends and you look round the room and realise it's your house but you don't know a soul.

People I know but didn't know I have a weblog go in touch with me: I like your blog, it's funny. The first time, it was like someone had found out I have a terrible secret. It's not that it was a secret; it was just something I did. Kinda like a hobby, but slightly more time-consuming. So I never meet people and immediately say "hello, I collect thirties dripware", and I still don't meet people and say "hello, I've got a blog", or at least I hope I don't. I do sometimes find myself talking about it to writeresque people.

And from the second month, I was thoughtful about what I wrote. In January, when it was just me and one other person reading, I was more... honest (and don't bother going back to read that stuff, it's gone). But since then, while what I write is clearly personal I'm mindful of what I say. So I always ask people if I can mention them; either by initial or by what they said. And quite a few times, people have said no, which is cool, and I respect it. So the funniest, most insightful things I hear actually never make it to the blog. Obviously if I think something funny or insightful myself, then there's only me to talk to, so it's different. Except it's a lot harder to judge your own thinking/writing.

But I'm acutely aware that choosing to have a personal website means a few things. First; people think they know you. So there's a few comments about me online from people who don't know me that aren't very accurate. But I guess if I want to make it as any kind of opinion writer I should just get used to that. Second, readers who know me presume something is about them or someone they know; J was convinced I'd gone to lunch at a mutual friends' house, but they just shared an initial. But he read a whole lot into it that just wasn't there. Third, people think this is all I am: acerbic, to-the-point spade-calling truth-teller. Which I am, sometimes. But I'm also way more sensitive than you can tell from here, I'd imagine. And I do lots of things I don't write about. I have a sudden urge to say I help old people and children, but actually it's just not true. But I'm... inevitably more rounded than the snippets you get here.

This is all a roundabout way of saying this: riffing off whatever did or didn't go on in Robyn's life that required an apology - maybe there are things here people don't like, but I feel a strange balancing act of not wanting to apologise for who I am, and not wanting to hurt people. Go figure. And mail me if you have an answer. I need one.
Just found this blog - doubtless me and all the other kids - a live update from the World Summit at Jo'burg.
OK., so I was wrong about Six Feet Under a few weeks back: it's compelling, somewhere on the strange-bizarre continuum, but increasingly addictive. Though the surreal dead-characters talking freaked me out, but it was late.

Monday, August 26, 2002

The chances of me (a) working and (b) working anywhere cool enough to have an acutal weblog policy are remote, but I can dream.

[via Matt]
Just in case you/I/someone needs a list of legal-fu blogs.
Proxy stuff.
Good weekend: serious clubbing Saturday night, got home at 6am. Got a phone call at 8am - I mean, who phones anyone that early on a Sunday morning? Even if they are like four time zones away. Last night, went out for noodles in Shoreditch with J; Touzai is a cool place, good, healthy, reasonably priced food. The only downside is they are directly above plasticpeople, and the floor beneath you reverberates like it's a train station or an earthquake or something. Not exactly zen peace.

We wandered round Shoreditch/Hoxton for a while, trying to find somewhere not-too-loud we could go for a drink, but the guy on the door at the Spiral was unfriendly, Home was closed, and eventually we repaired to J's place for a peppermint tea and more gossip. Not, of course, that I could repeat any of it here, anyway.

When you don't have a job, every weekend is like Bank Holiday, so I gave Carnival a miss - had enough dancing and groping for one weekend - and just hung out at home today, popping over briefly to M's to retreive my trainers I left at her place when we were getting ready Saturday. I know, but there my favourite trainers.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Forgot to say: the other big news in the US is that "A Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. shareholder sued Ms. Stewart and other officers, alleging they sold company stock before the shares fell sharply on news federal investigators are probing the home-decorating guru for possible insider trading." And, apparently, she used to be a stockbroker. You couldn't make this stuff up, could you?
Tired yet? A blog about writing about blogs.
The Julie Burchill generator. Fantastic.

[via Barbelith, where else?]
Quick roundup of things I would have said more about while I was away: the google cookie (and that's yours, not mine, on your PC) - via Azeem Azhar, who also told me about the anonymous Google proxy.

Cal's citycreator: I like.

Haddock blogs: from those wonderful folk who brought you, er, I really like.

The Mr Men Generator; it's my childhood all over again. via Luke.
Oh, and in case you hadn't realised, I'm back. Blogging. It was just a short jetlag-related thing, not writing anything.
On - Stupid American - Language
Heard two phrases that bowled me over with anger at the damage being done to langauge.

On CNN, reporter talking about Jennifer Short's parents being buried:

"After her parents have been funeralized tomorrow..." Funeralized? Funeralized? I'm speechless.

Overheard in a restaurant:

"So we'll effectuate the change Monday." Effectuate? P-u-lease. Don't you mean "we'll do it Monday"?
Abductions in America
We've got our own Holly and Jessica. They've got theirs. Jennifer Short, Elizabeth Smart, Nicole Timons.

I'm not denying that this is a terrible, terrible tragedy for the families and parents. I hated seeing Jennifer Short's family ritually abused on TV; making statements, zoom-shots on crying grandparents. Way more intrusive than anything you'd see here, for sure. What's interesting though, is that the kids that get the coverage seem to be; girls, white, pretty (often blonde) and attractive. There's unfortunately a huge raft of missingkids in the States: why don't the black/Asian/Hispanic/male/less cute ones get on TV?

Frank Furedi has interesting views on how "our culture readily incites parents and the public to outburts of panic." But then, he does have his book, Paranoid Parenting, to promote, so he's bound to be in the Golden Rolodex on this one.
What's Going On
Obviously I could just watch CNN at home - if I had cable - but here's what I found out in three days: West Nile virus is sweeping the States, and there have even been offers from Cuba to help contain it. Seems like a cross between Legionnaires and CJD, the way it gets reported.

The States truly is a talkshow nation: Clinton has been offered a talkshow for $35m. Actually, on CNN they said $50m. I tell you, I'd do it for a lot less. The CNN reporter's main question was; "what does Jerry Springer say?" Little known fact: my Dad looks remarkably like Jerry Springer, so maybe he'd do it for less than $35m.

I saw The Terror Tapes played every morning on CNN, with reportage by Nic Robetrson, who found them. Apparently al-Quaida fighters are preparing for another big, urban attack, according to their carefully laid out cities in the mountains of Tora Borah. What I want to know is, why's it got like the Middle Ages: no-one knows what the King looks like, so we can't kill him. It's hard to believe that we have such fabulous technology and intelligence, yet Osama is probably wandering around somewhere with a fake beard or something. The hook was very much the coming 9/11 anniversary, and lots of coverage was given to Lisa Beamer's Let's Roll about her husband Todd Beamer and the guys on flight 93. It really feels like people in the States are looking for something good in this whole mess.
Miami Nice

And, really, Miami is very nice.

Apart from hanging out with family, and eating in just about every Spanish/Cuban restaurant there is - my family there is mostly Cuban - we had time to do a walking tourof South Beach, learn the difference between the mediterranean revival, tropical deco, nautical deco and depression moderne styles. The definitive book is by Barbara Capitman, who founded the MDPL with Leonard Horowitz.Oh, and I'd really like to go back for the Art Deco Weekend in January; I'm sure it'll be full of people like me. Omigod: I just found out there's even better decoin California.

We did a bus tour that took in Coconut Grove, Port of Miami, Key Biscayne, Coral Gables - home of the rich and famous, including Madonna and Shwarzenegger, Calle Ocho - Little Havana - Brickell Avenue - the downtown financial district - and South Beach, of course. We stopped off downtown, had a little play on the Metromover, the inner-circle subway system, that costs 25 cents flat fare, which bowled us over compared to UK mass transit prices. Did some shopping - I bought five t-shirts in the gap for $50, and that was about it. Not bad for three days, eh?

I read a great trash-book on the trip back, and saw two unmemorable movies: one about a black family trying to get healthcare on medicaid and resorting to hostage taking, and one about a Catholic boy trying to help Jews get to heaven. Both helped me sleep.

Though the jetlag is still getting to me.

Friday, August 23, 2002

Thought I might go into the novelty t-shirt business. Here's my first contribution:

Security Incident: That's all I need
So yesterday morning, I woke up in Miami-Dade County, switched on CNN and saw this: concourse B (the main American Airlines terminal) closed due to some kind of security incident which involved passengers coughing and spluttering and men in white suits sweeping the area. Just my luck, I thought; I'll be stuck here forever. And me with only one pair of jeans.
I'm back
Got back yesterday morning, but feeling definitely a little jet-lagged; like I took very, very good drugs but can't remember what they are.

Special thanks to Luke and Stuart for holding the fort and admininstering high-voltage electricity - I always get off on that - and I will tell all as soon as I find out what day it is.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Public Service Announcement

Sashinka is a little jetlagged, bear with us please. Captainfez is attaching the bulldog clips to her ears and I'm preparing to push the big 5,000V switch. We'll have her up and running for you as soon as possible.
I guess it's time for me to sign off too, then. My silence is blamed on work, and latterly on this cough that won't go away. Alas, I thought it best not to inflict Phibes-like tones on your ears, dear reader.

sashinka is going to be rather disappointed with my contributions when she returns

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Sashinka is possibly winging her way across the Atlantic even as I type (honestly, if the woman can't recall her own flight details how am I supposed to know?), so this is an appropriate time for me to love you and leave you. I wish I'd written much more, but at the same time I wish I'd written considerably less. Quite contrary or just indecisive? That's for me to be unsure about and for you to find out.

It's been a pleasure, feel free to pop in for tea and scones at my own site any time you're passing. Take care.

Sashinka is currently leaving on a jet plane, don't know when she'll be back again
Fantastic news - the Vietnamese army is aiming to become an Internet Service Provider. One question: how do you use the keyboard and mouse when you have your hands up?

Sashinka is currently checking her weblog from an internet café and resolving to book an earlier flight home
"In the game, players have to navigate Sammy Sperm through three levels, Arousal, Twin Planet Testes and finally Planet Prostate. As well as introducing players to the facts about the prostate gland, the game has plenty of more familiar aspects such as beer, telly and video games. Sammy must avoid these perennial male distractions to get to his destination."

Making sperm fun, huh? Was it ever otherwise?

Sashinka is currently having her calls directed to her suite
My life seems to be one tale of car woe after another at the moment. No sooner was the Hydramobile returned to me yesterday evening than it began to go wrong again. The poor man from the garage who came to collect it this lunchtime couldn't even make it start, which was a pain for him but at least made me feel less of a fraudulent moaner. However, the silver lining in this particular cloud is that I now have a different courtesy car and it's so much nicer.

The current state and mores of the British road system occupy more of my thoughts now I work outside of London than they ever did before. Yesterday evening I saw several examples of the summer phenomenon of motorway drivers holding one hand out of the window and flexing their fingers sensually in the velocity-induced wind.

I'm completely attuned to the need to air those awkward little nooks and crannies inbetween the digits - frankly we get so few opportunities - but I can't help thinking that while they're driving directly in front of my car at 70+mph, I'd like to see both hands on the steering wheel, please.

Sashinka is currently exploring the extreme limits of art deco therapy

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Hey! It's me! I'm here. Bandwidth thiefing in an internet cafe in downtown Miami that's charging me $1.49 just to connect. Briefly: family stuff; food, art deco nirvana. As yet, no manicure.

Later. Maybe.

Oh, and my Dad says hi. This is his first trip to an internet cafe.
Wouldn't it be awful if Sashinka had actually intended to cut down on diary products, but had mis-typed the word and is now doomed to a lifetime of blogging and brittle bones? Instead of junking her journal and coming off her calendar, she's cut out the calcium. Her daily debates have replaced her bovine beverage.

More importantly, where's all this alliteration coming from?

Sashinka is currently sipping cocktails with Will Smith
A handy household hint for you: when offering guests a glass of wine, do not under any circumstances try to wittily deconstruct the financial hierarchy of the bottles in the rack on top of the fridge.

It's all very well describing the bottle that you don't recognise as "cheap red plonk" because you assume it must be some £2.99 thing that you casually threw in the shopping trolley, but there could be an alternative explanation.

It could be the bottle that your guests just brought round.

Sashinka is currently in a Miami hotel nail bar

Monday, August 19, 2002

My fantasy voicemail message:

"Hi, this is Stuart. I'll be out of the office on holiday next week and this week I'm dealing with a variety of projects that you all consider to be jolly important. I'm already working ten hours a day and at the moment the only trend I can discern seems to be upwards.

"Therefore, please consider whether you really need to leave me a message. If it's about something that I'm supposed to be working on for you, I'm working on it. If it's about something else, I won't be working on it in the near future (at least not until human cloning has been perfected).

"If you do leave a message, please don't just say 'This is [X], please call me back' - give me some information and a little context. I don't have the time to play telephone tennis with you, but I might be able to leave a simple voicemail answer to your simple voicemail question. If I don't call you, respect my ability to prioritise appropriately and trust my judgement that the other stuff I'm working on is genuinely more important to the business.

"Please bear in mind the unalterable laws of physics. No matter how many messages you leave me, there will only ever be twenty-four hours in a day until we start to colonise the outer planets of our solar system. Spare a thought for the fact that every minute I spend listening to your messages is a minute that I'm not working on the thing that you want me to work on.

"If all else fails, please remember that I'm English and therefore I'm deeply, deeply sorry."

My actual voicemail message:

"Hi, this is Stuart. Please leave a message after the tone and I'll get back to you as soon as possible."

Sometimes real life can be so dull.

Sashinka is currently away with the fairies
*tap tap*

Is this thing on?


Uncharacteristically, I've been quiet of late. And so, it's at my most terse that I'm asked to guest-blog; kind of like hosting the Oscars. Stop me if I start doing that "Oprah... Uma!" thing. Hmm. Keeping in line with the feelin' quiet mode, though, I have an idea.

Think something quiet.

Lose the cooling fans and the static cling of the monitor. Devoid of Blondie, car noises, the exploding of bombs, the whizzing of food processors or the chirp of mobiles.

Just switch off.

sashinka is away

The Hydramobile is sick, so for the past week I've been driving a courtesy car. Call me a superficial, materialistic snob, but I don't feel that the replacement is quite up to scratch. Put it like this, I'm used to Tesco Finest and they've given me Tesco Value. It doesn't have a CD player, so I'm stuck with the radio. It doesn't have air conditioning, so I'm stuck to my shirt. And it doesn't have automatic transmission, so I'm stuck with a stick.

People don't take care of hire cars. The boot has been bashed (or, for our American readers: the trunk has been trashed), which makes me look like one of those spacially-challenged people for whom the word 'oops' is invariably preceded by the sound of crunching metal.

I'm used to a graceful Swan Lake dancer, but temporarily I'm driving a hippopotamus in a tutu. It accelerates like a sloth on valium, corners like an elephant with its feet tied together and provides the bone-shaking ride of a camel with delerium tremens. With all this and its distinctive just-valeted aroma of plastic lemon, if I spend any length of time in it I emerge feeling slightly nauseous.

The worst thing however is the seats, dahlinks, the seats. We don't condone the mindless slaughter of dumb animals purely for upholstery purposes either over at Hydragenic or here at Sashinka-dot-Blogspot. Nevertheless, we do enjoy the cosy minimalism of our regular grey (faux-)suede interior. Sadly the courtesy car's seats have been covered more with economy in mind than aesthetics. Nylon may have its place, but my ass requires more class.

Sashinka is currently up, up and away

Sunday, August 18, 2002

"The first 21st-century trend is eclecticism," says Habitat's head of design, Tom Dixon, in this month's UK edition of Elle Decoration. This is good, we like eclecticism (otherwise none of our eclectical appliances would work, right?).

On a tenuously related note, a friend of mine did a modelling assignment for Cosmo a few months ago, so I nipped out to the shops one lunchtime to buy my copy. As I wandered back into the office, a colleague pointed to the plastic bag in my hand and enquired if I'd bought anything interesting. "Oh, yeah, just a girly magazine - my friend's appearing in it this month," I replied absentmindedly. My colleague gave me a strange look, which I interpreted as meaning that they didn't expect me to have such glamorous friends.

Only when I'd climbed the second of three flights of stairs did I realise that the phrase 'girly magazine' (i.e. full of 'girly' things like how to find/keep/pleasure a man whilst applying stage-perfect make-up and wearing the ultimate next-season shoes) sounds exactly like the phrase 'girlie magazine', which means something entirely different.

Sashinka is currently in Miami
When Sashinka asked me to be her weblog guest for a few days, my main concern was how to find both the time and the material to contribute to her site as well as my own. I asked a friend who used to have two weblogs how she distinguished between them - what to publish where. "You just know," she replied helpfully. I puzzled and pondered and eventually came up with a methodology.

Anything interesting, profound or of long-term worth that I feel like writing over the next few days is going on my own site. Those entries will be dragged out of my soul in a tortured fit of existential agony. Here, on the other hand, I'll be dishing out a whole load of frothy, anecdotal journal-lite. Fair enough? We all know where we stand now.

Sashinka is currently away
Gone But Not Forgotten
There's every chance I'll addictively want to post something before I leave in the morning; but in case I don't: I'm leaving. It's not you, it's me. You know the stuff people say. Blah blah blah.

But seriously, folks, I'm just going to Miami (though I keep humming Going to Barbados), flying visit and all that, family business. Back Wednesday night or Thursday morning, I can't remember which.

And... I leave you in safe, capable hands - I have guest bloggers: Luke and Stuart. They are both witty and insightful, and I have no idea what they're going to say, as this whole thing is a bit of an experiment, and it'll be as much of a revelation to me as it is to you.

I will be without laptop and cellphone (just discovered my tri-band phone is buggered), though I will have my trusty Palm PDA. I will resort to checking messages from my calling card; I'm supposed to hear about The Job on Tuesday. So it'll be something of a tech holiday too. Which I guess is good for me.

You be good now.
Just got back from Kiki and Herb at the Soho Theatre with J, C, J and a bunch of other people we ran into. By the time I got there, they were all several sheets to the wind in the downstairs bar.

The show is amazing; it's old fashioned cabaret at its best, true performance with an outrageous, post-modern pop-culture twist. It's Woody Allen (the Early Nightclub Years era) meets Rocky Horror and Dame Edna. They're funny and loud and scary and wild all at the same time. It's a little bit stand-up, a little bit music hall and a little bit subversive. The Wu-Tang peice - tell me the last time you saw a faux-seventy year old woman in her nightclub best rapping, ferchrisakes - was magical. The guys were all on to see the second show at Duckies at the Vauxhall Tavern at midnight, but as I'm getting up at stupid o'clock to meet my Dad at Heathrow, I sadly had to give it a miss.

They've just been extended (and they're not a kitchen in North London) and they're on twice nightly for another six weeks, I think. So really go. Although I imagine that the theatre setting inhibits them some, and they may be different/looser in a club vibe, so if they do any other club nights, I'd go there first.

Seems like every time I go to the Soho Theatre I see someone famous. And tonight was no exception: J pointed out Pete Burns from Dead or Alive in the bar beforehand. He was wearing the kind of pantaloony-trousers that MC Hammer wore in the eighties, that I always figured he'd stolen from Arabian Nights. Pete was not himself - although we've not stayed in touch - he was looking a little Michael Jackson with collagen-style lip enhancements, plus some hair extensions and a rather fetching camoflage print headscarf. He had a look about him that was slightly cleaner-bought-her-clothes-in-thrift-shop, though he was in good shape, I grant you. His theatre companion looked like Bepe out of East Enders and had the whole facial topiary thing going on in a big way.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Rogues and Vagabonds: great site for all things theatre in the UK.

And R Cubed: the critic of theatre-critics. Ever decreasing circles?

And, I'd like to be a theatre reviewer, if anyone wants one.
Film Fun: Roundup
I don't usually like serious boy-action movies, and I'm not an Arnie fan, but I do have a 35% desire to see XXX, not least because Vin Deisel looks very cool. Hollywood has apparently dubbed him the action hero for the hip-hop generation. Which is strange, because that's what Hollywood calls me, too.

Other films I must remember to see when they come out: Blue Crush, Tadpole, Le Chateau. Oh, and Bamboozled, because I'm a huge Spike Lee fan.

And the ultimate in self-referrential meglomania? Adaptation, follows the story of Charlie Kaufman's attempt to adapt the novel "The Orchid Thief" into a screenplay. Cage's brother Donald (also played by Cage), turns him on to Robert McKee's book "Story" and associated seminar, and Cage actually attends the seminar in the movie. McKee is portrayed by Emmy-winning actor Brian Cox.

Does that mean there are no stories left, and we are reduced to writing stories about writing stories? Sheesh.
I have a desire to read Faust, but no German. Can anyone recommend a good translation?

Friday, August 16, 2002

Miami Advice
So I'm leaving early Sunday morning, and have arranged some guest bloggers for your delight and delectation.

But that's not what this is about: I'm in Miami for four days, and will be mostly doing family-type stuff, but hope to fit in some other things (especially dollar-style shopping, though all I really want is a t-shirt from the Gap). All I know so far is (a) there is great art deco stuff, and (b) it's a good place to get a manicure. But isn't that true of the whole of the States?

Any other guidance?
Whoever just surfed in here looking for a second hand MGF hardtop, I have one, and I might be prepared to sell it. It's racing green. Mail me.
Phone Fun
I just called my Mum's landline, and it was answered by her neighbour. I was a little confused, and asked if she was at my Mum's house. She told me a long story about how her line doesn't work, and she's waiting for the operator to call her back on my Mum's phone, which she's lent her.

"I don't understand all this new stuff. Have you called me or her?"

"But you phone doesn't work. I called Mum."

"Well, you must have called her mobile, it's very small."

However insistent I was that I had called the landline, and that my parents have the latest in miniscule DECT phone technology and it just looks like a mobile, she was equally insistent - possibly more so - that it was a mobile. Not that it matters. Though I did confuse her when I said I'd call Mum on her other phone.

I wonder if when I get old there will be some new thing that I just don't get and I will exasperate young people with my old-fashioned mores?
I very rarely laugh at loud at something I read online, but this takes the biscuit. The whole packet. I laughed till I stopped.

[via linkmachinego]
Thank Queue
Walking to Kilburn station this morning, I saw the strangest sight; three people queing to use a telephone box. How last century is that, then?

Apparently 68% of UK adults own a mobile phone (and it's 88% in the 18-24 age range), and that doesn't include people who have a spare pay-as-you-go for making untraceable no-strings calls to their lover.
I've realised I'm very nervous. I feel almost-shaky, and I'm not used to it. I mean, you need a certain amount of adrenaline - well, I do - to make you fly in an interview, but I have stomach cramps and can't eat anything. Not that that's such a big deal: since I've been on my no food diet, I've eaten a lot less, but I do like to have breakfast, sets you up for the day and all that. Wheat and dairy free, of course, which doesn't leave much. But I feel like I would throw up anything I eat.
I was talking to someone on the phone today - about work - and they actually said outwith. As in, "I'll be away from the office for two weeks, I'm going to work on a project outwith my current remit."

Lexipraxis or strange/strained vocabulary?

Thursday, August 15, 2002

s a s h z i l l a
Would change my blog name to sashzilla - see this quite ridiculous story - but can't edit my template. Blogger trouble. Better than man trouble, eh?

[via barbezilla and fridgzilla and dogzilla]
Based on the book of the same name, Morvern Callar just opened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, apparently to wondrous critical acclaim.

It's the next Trainspotting. Allegedly. Don't you hate it in these pomo times where everything is just a reduction of something else: the next X or Y meets Z? And I'm fairly sure I've come across that plot before (person A steals novel from dead person B passing it off as their own) but it was before I had a blog so I have no idea where that tiny piece of information is in this huge information-laden world of ours.
If I don't get this job tomorrow, I might retrain, as I am already number three on google for massage NW6. Marketing done; all I need now is the skill.
A friend who works in the Treasury, talked about the current Administration last night. Not the Government. Not the Labour Party. The Administration. She did not say this ironically.

One day soon I'm going to wake up and find that not only have all the accounting firms merged into one, and that there's one huge retailer for everything you need, but all the fucking governments will be American-stylee admininstrations, too. I'm sick of homogenized, generic blandness; I want quirky individuality back.

Oh, and it appears to be hailstoning. Again. We are clearly being punished, and not just by the administration.
So I'm kinda low-key today: I've got a big interview tomorrow morning, I'm down to the last three, and I've spend forty-eight hours immersing myself in financial gobbledegook in order to speak knowledgably about the sector at 10am tomorrow. Talk to me after about 3pm, I won't remember a word about it.

So if you believe in magick or karma, or vibes or whatever - I once had a friend who insisted I should mentally "cover him in white light" whenever he had a big thing coming up that he wanted luck for - then send them my way. I just looked in my bank account, and I really need a job. Even if it does mean I have to wear a suit everyday.

So leave me comments. It'll make me feel loved and adored, which can only improve my interview performance, methinks.
For some reason, the lyrics to Stormy Weather keep going through my mind.
Since I went to my neighbours' salsa party, I get a ton of searches for huge boobs latin funk. And now I'll get more. Hope I don't disappoint.
Coming up to the 9/11 anniversary, there's lots of discussion. Here's the Independent on what really happened on flight 93. And here's more stuff.
I've had a lot of feedback about my white links on a green background. I know it's hard to read. I'm sorry. I've tried to change it a few times, and I just kill my code. So, I'm working on a totally new design with a white background (and dark text, obvciously). And maybe even bigger text. Bear with me (which is quite a lot more comfortable than bearing down.)
My friend David Bader - he's the Haikus for Jews guy - emailed me about his new book; Zen Judaism.

He is truly, truly funny.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

I am the number two search for aware haircare homepage. Yay.

Do you think aware haircare is a brand? Or that I am the second most-aware of haircare issues personal site on the web?
Saw my friends M&A (who are not a city law firm or area of practice) tonight, who've just a beautiful new baby. Luckily, A used to live in Miami, and filled me on all there is to do there: including getting a good manicure. Thank the lord.

Later, had dinner with J, her two kids, and A. J's over from Israel, and we've not seen each other for about seven years, we calculated. Although with email and IM I feel like we know more about each other's lives than if we lived next door and ran into each other ocassionally. And even though she's a mother now, two glasses of cider, and she's fourteen again. But then, so am I. I like having old, old friends; we've known each other since we were eleven, and there is something extremely relaxing and honest about someone who's known you all that time and seen you do any number of stupid things. Including spending most of my teenage years mooning over a guy who never even knew my name.
Half-reading We've Got Blog, and been a little disappointed that I've already read nearly all the pieces online. Now Tom's conveniently linked them, too.

While it's an interesting collection of thinking and ideas about weblogging and its broader context, I think it's targeted at people who don't blog. Because, if you do, you'll most likely know all the arguments. And the arguments are only argued within individual articles, so there's no theme running through the collection, other than "blogging is generally a good thing". And how screenagers see the world through communications technology, and all that kind of thing. Which you already knew.

There is a difference between reading something online and off, though. Online, I tend to skim-read, pick up the main points, cut and paste things I want to think more about. Old media, I read and think, and turn back and re-read. I don't think books will ever go out of fashion, but I don't quite see the point of this collection apart from as a bandwaggon-jumping marketing activity to prove that weblogs are riding the crest of a meme or a wave or something.

Affluenza? Check your joy-to-stuff ratio.
Wishlist Envy

I've coined a new phrase. How do I know? Google on it.

So it's a fact: I have wishlist envy. See?

It's when you browse someone else's wishlist and realise they share lots of your interests and pecadilloes and have brought together pretty much the list of CDs/books/whatever that you would like to read and listen to if only you had time and were that cool.

Associated phrase: wishlist raiding. Where you surf someone else's list, adding all the interesting items to your own.

I'm a one-woman meme. Maybe.

And I must start writing more discursively and conversationally. One day.
When I was a headhunter - in those far-off distant times when I actually had a serious income - one of the senior consultants described a particularly unavailable candidate thus:

"He's gone to spend more time with his money."

I like.
The Lieutentant of Innishmore, The Garrick Theatre
It's definitely Irish-themed week at Sashinka towers; saw The Lieutentant of Innishmore at the Garrick last night with P. It's an RSC production, and it shows, as well as being a fantastic comedy script. A black satire on terrorism and gratuitous violence, it's Pulp Fiction meets Lock Stock... with an Irish twist and a peculiarly british (and I use that word in its non-political context, hence lower case) sense of understatement.

The action largely takes place inside an Innishmore home, and it looked remarkably like the inside of the Enniskillen home I saw Monday night. Perhaps they're related?

It's been critics' choice in practically every UK broadsheet paper, and I know why. Despite the bloodbath at the end, which really might not be to everyone's tastes - I looked away myself a couple of times - the combination of a perfect script, laden with mind-blowingly funny one-liners, the surreal observation of a psychotic terrorist distraught at the death of his cat, direction that milks every last comedy moment from the play, and the invention of a new genre - terrorism farce - make it a must see, as far as I'm concerned.
Theatreworld Internet magazine.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

I just called the Miami Dadeland Marriot, and the person answering my call said:

"It's a beautiful day at the Dadeland Marriot, this is Audrey speaking, how may I direct your call?"

After I'd asked for reservations, she said:

"It's been a pleasure serving you. Have a nice day."

I guess for Americans this is a perfectly regular occurence, but for an old-fashioned English girlie like me, it sounds like a customer-service bot. I am conflicted about my feelings around faux-service statements; I mean, how can it possibly have been a pleasure to serve me? She doesn't even know me. She's working a script. At least she didn't try to get me into Amway or something. - for women who love words. It says here.
Promnight; eighties clubbing heaven. Apparently.
Conversation I had with a (different) friend about a guy I just met:
him: mentally stable?
me: fairly
him: always a bonus
Conversation I had with a friend last night:
him: this'll all pass
me: sounds like a twelve step programme
him: yeah, or a great dump
Dan Bricklin on small business blogging. It's just a photocopied newsletter for the un-hard of wired. Or the hard-wired to blog. Core thought; blogs are about communication, not necessarily large-scale, whatever the topic. Agreed. It's like a shared network drive without people forgetting all the file-naming conventions.
Blogging for dollars? Hardly - in my case - but Meg says it might be the way of the future. I wonder. Would I like, pay, to read the kind of tosh I enjoy? I don't know. I mean, I'd buy a paper or a magazine. I guess I'm still stuck in that olde-worlde the internet-is-all-free space. A problem, methinks.
And today's word is: entry-lux.

I guess that means all those cute sportif style cars: MGF, MX5, Z3 (they all sound like extras in Star Wars Return of the Cheap Sports Car). And then there's the one-rung up cars: SLK, Elise, Boxster, TT... the S2000, and some others I can't remember.

My (figurative) money's on the Suzuki Cappucino or the Suzuki C2. Or maybe a Fiat Barchetta.

But enough of all this excitement: it's only web-window shopping, after all.
I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls
This closes at the Tricycle Saturday before going on a six week tour. If you get a chance, then see it. A three person, two act play, based on a true story, that looks at relationships, love and independent women (well, one independent woman) against the backdrop of Enniskillen in the thirties. It's slightly slow paced, especially at the beginning, and R, my theatre companion felt less drawn in than I was. I wonder if it's more of a girl-play? I was crying at the overwhelming sense of lost opportunity, and was probably not very good company in the bar afterwards.

With a fast-paced Irish-humour script, and beautifully atmospheric lighting, the play weaves back and forth through time, piecing together Madelyn's life and love-life (and reminded me of a less complex version of After You'd Gone). And Ann Marcuson is spellbinding as Madelyn; it's really her play. And I'm not just saying that because she's my friend. Definitely one to watch for bigger things.

Geek aside: when you google on the play's name, you get sponsored links for granite kitchen work tops. That works, then.
Talk about Blogtree. Now even Dave Gorman has (theoretical) children.

Monday, August 12, 2002

So I was talking to Fraser about the blogging community, and he said, "what is this about community? Just because people have a personal website, why should they have anything else in common? It's like saying everyone who drives a Volkswagon Golf is going to be best friends."
You know you're hanging out with geek types (as I was yesterday) when someone talks about their main blog. Inference being...
New whois search. This is good, as I have hit my limit on Samspade - I keep looking up the same IP addresses because I have such a shit memory.

[via cal]
Was talking about Sapphire and Steel yesterday. And, hey presto, I found it in stuart's interests.
A friend of a friend - let's call him Guy - a city lawyer, knows a lot of prostitutes, for some reason. I didn't ask why. Anyway, the thing about being a prostitute is that your happy punters regularly want to shower you with gifts, and more often than not, it's fur coats.

Now, you know as well as I do, that you rarely see anyone under fifty-ish or even with vaguely liberal views wearing a fur coat nowadays. I have no idea how prostitutes would rate themselves on the animal welfare front, but apparently, whilst you can't be too rich or too thin, you can have too many fur coats. But what does one do with a surfeit of fur coats in today's world?

So Guy hit upon the ideal business venture; he has cornered the market in the second-hand never-worn fur coat vertical. Nearly all the prostitutes in London, allegedly, come to him with their unwanted wares, and he sells them on and takes a significant cut. He doesn't have any competitors; there are serious barriers to entry to this, albeit niche, market, like you have to know a lot of prostitutes and where do you start?

Apparently, he doubles his salary. But I'm guessing that this bit is strictly cash.
That's the problem with journalism; there's got to be a hook. It's got to be about the latest, greatest, just-discovered whatever. So this New York Times article entitled The Ancient Art of Haranguing Has Moved to the Internet uses weblogs as a "hook" saying there is a "flourishing new breed of pamphleteer: the blogger". Which may or may not be true; for every Instanpundit and Andrew Sullivan there's a hundred well-written well-observed wry takes on life. Or knitting. Or working out. Or whatever. Seems to be that the whole point of weblogs is that personal publishing - a phrase I'm loathe to use - is about denying categorisation and just writing whatever the hell you want.

And, more to the point, the New York Times uses "the internet" (whatever the hell that is) as a hook in the headline, and then it turns out that it really is an article about pamphleteers (how is a pamphlet different from a zine?) at Prickly Paradigm Press. Why can't journalism do what it says on the tin?
Feeling a bit brain-blown: but here's my day. Went to the gym. Speed-shopped baby gifts. Went to a barbemeet (otherwise known as hanging out in a Soho pub for most of the afternoon), and yet again was overwhelmed by the coolness and warmth (if that's not an oxymoron) of all and sundry. Talked manicures with men and codestuff with women. The world is truly topsy turvy.

Nineish, I got to O's farewell do at a pub in Kentish Town that was not the Jorene Celeste. Music by DJ Sangam and San Transisto, who D described as "jazzed-up XTC with a sense of humour" but I thought were just amazing in an old-fashioned rock with balls way. I was impressed.

And tonight I made O a blog, so she can record her Japan trip for all and sundry. When I say made a blog, I mean that I did my usual cut-and-paste job, but it looks good. I'll let you know as soon as she says something.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

I'm feeling slightly ambivalent about my referrers script from Stephen's Web. I mean, obviously it's way better than any script I could write myself, because I don't know my java from my coffee when it comes to code, but it doesn't seem to work, and I can't email him. Like this morning, it says I've had 176 referrers from the Guardian in the last 24 hours, but for two weeks, the Guardian hasn't showed up at all. Or even the GBlogs site. Which is strange. So, while I'm generally untrusting, I'm specifically untrusting about the referrer data. Just doesn't feel right, y'know?

But I like seeing the aggregate information, it's interesting. And I like clicking on the extra links. But I think it might make the page slow to load. Dunno. Thoughts? Solutions?

Oh, and now I'm really going to the gym, otherwise I'll spend all morning pissing around. Later.
Plasticbag Nirvana
I had an obsessional desire to keep all plastic bags, because they might come in useful.

I remember when my grandma died, and we had to clear out her flat. There was drawer after drawer of neatly folded plastic bags. And cupboard after cupboard of washed jam jars. Because of The War, apparently.

Because I live in a flat and thus have limited storage space, now I have a personal rule; once my bags start overflowing from my bag-of-bags receptacle under the sink I throw them away. Terrible, I know. Perhaps now is not a great time to admit I have a cleaner (middle class, I know) but I used to have a cleaner who also cleaned for most of my friends locally, and she regularly said things like "what is it with all you Jewish people and the plastic bags?" She also said "you Jewish people, you're all very young and all very sucessful, aren't you?" (of course this was in those heady days when I had a job). I told her no, she was just seeing a very small percentage of the Jewish population. But probably a very high proportion of the plastic bags.

Anyway, once they tax us, perhaps we'll be bit more moderate about our plastic bag habit. After all, it's just a security blanket for second/third generation refugee types; my Turkish friend's parents' kitchen has more plastic bags than you can knit a tea-cosy with.
Stand-up? Sit-down!
A very strange thing happens to me when I do stand-up - the desire for love and attention from an audience overcame when I eventually got there. Blackheath is a very long way from North London - I can't ever remember what I said. What I like about A's evening, is that the sound guy tapes it, so afterwards I can always listen to myself, which is quite useful. And I'm much, much better when I just take a risk and say whatever comes into my head; when I'm totally prepared and planned and it's joke 129 followed by off-the-cuff comment 76 it's funny, sure, because I know the gags work, but it doesn't have that same energy and edginess.

Unfortunately, the sound guy's car broke down, but I asked a friend to write down a couple of key words from each story, and this morning I looked at her list of fortyish words, and I'm thinking "that worked" or "that wasn't so good." It's better than a tape, because I don't have to wait a couple of weeks to get my edited bit.

Want to know what I said? A mix of this, this and this, and some stories about going through Israeli security when I was a kid, telecoms habits of the urban middle-classes, the similarity between gaydars and jewdars, strip-tease artists.... OK, I'll stop now.

In the interval, I overhead two guys talking. One said to the other: "oh, they're very middle class. Went straight to central heating." Did not pass go? Did not collect one hundred pounds? Where is central heating, anyway? On the northern line?

OK, I really will stop now.

Saturday, August 10, 2002

OK, had a lazy day. But then, many of my days are lazy. Went to synagogue last night, as some friends of mine run a trad-egal service, and Friday night is the shortest prayers with the best singing. It was spiritually uplifiting, and I don't say that too often. Ended up going back to M's for supper with a whole crowd and it was cool. Except I never recognise M's mother (who happened to be there) because she looks too young to be someone's mother, so she probably thinks I'm very rude.

Off to a soiree; A (not that A, another one) runs an intermittent gathering of creative types - it's in Blackheath tonight. People do all sorts of stuff; music, drumming, dance, jamming, performance poetry. Often, I use it as a place to test out new gags, but I'm not feeling very entertaining tonight. I think A thinks I'm going to do something (something funny, I guess) but I'm really not in the mood. I feel like skulking in the back row and being cold and unfriendly. I have, however, put on a lot of make-up, so no-one will recognise me anyhow.
Do you think Men In Black knew about the MIB?
Thinking about smart mobs. Will get back to you.

Update: What I've learned is: I may be in a thumb tribe, but it's a manicured thumb tribe.
I hardly have two science o'levels to rub together (and I'm showing my petticoat, whoops, age), but the Museum of Unworkable Devices looks good. I guess. Ambivalence is my middle name.
And I had a desire to find out more about Robert Rankin. So I did.
I may be more miserable than sin - and I have sinned plenty, so I'm more than qualified to judge - but at least I have painted my toenails silver with pink glitter as a second coat. Pretend. That's the way forward.
A friend told me that her mother phoned, and was talking to her for like an hour. Small town stuff; who'd died, who'd gone bust, the price of fish. My friend just said "uhuh" and "really" about every seven minutes, and was multi-tasking; picking up her email and folding her washing whilst she didn't listen. She told me later she had absolutely no idea what her mother was talking about. And what's great is, that because of her mother's early-onset Alzheimers, her mother won't remember she's told her the story before when she tells it again.

That's what you call a win-win situation. Except the only person who benefited was the phone company.

Friday, August 09, 2002

Pain-free dentistry? Give it to me, now, I say.
Microsoft has settled its privacy "issue" with the FTC, but faces an £11,000 fine per violation if it makes any more claims about its security and privacy. So, maybe Bill doesn't run the world. Yet.
Bloggers getting dooced all over the shop.

update: he talks to The Register.
Six Feet Under might be great TV, but they seem to have some legal problems. Like allegedly breaching copyright from Gwen O'Donnell's film Funk Parlour which went into production July 2000, and is now in post-production. Should be a good fight.
The memory hole: rescuing knowledge, freeing information. It's kinda like the wayback machine, but way more subversive.

[via barbelith underground]
I had a sudden desire to find out about stuckism; I met a woman at a party a few months back who was going on about it, and I found myself just nodding in agreement rather than admitting I had no fucking idea what she was talking about.

Now I've looked at the word STUCK more than a few times in the last few minutes, it's started to look strange. Unnatural.
Our mayoral leader may have paid thousands for name development and rebranding, but everything I can find about Transport for London sucks. For one, their journey planner is broken. All their pages load real slow. Traffic in London is apparently slower than it was at the turn of the century. And I just got a £40 ticket - masquerading as a friendly missive from TfL - for going in a bus lane two Friday's ago.

Now, I know I shouldn't drive in bus lanes. It's dangerous. But I feel slightly disturbed living in a City where my every move is on camera. Am I supposed to never do anything naughty because someone might be watching?
Hang 'em, I say. And flog 'em, too
OK, so I don't usually watch daytime TV, honest. But I was compelled to watch Trisha this morning. Generally any eponymous show on during daylight hours is to be avoided: Trisha, Esther, Oprah, Ricky, the late-TV-lamented Vanessa, et al. Oh, and Kilroy. But I'll save that rant for another time.

This morning it was Trisha's Challenge; three concerned partner/friends of fat women said how their wife/friend was really fat, ruining her life, their sex life, the universe. One guy, humiliatingly, held up the jogging pants his wife now wears in bed (I think, slightly stretching them at the waistband to make them look bigger), and then held up a black lacey thong and said he'd rather she wore that. Maybe he would, but they're not exactly comfortable, are they? I can just imagine a wet-behind-the-ears TV researcher saying to him; "OK, bring the biggest thing you have of hers, and, yeah, I see it now, something reallysmall." "But she never wore those thongs, even when she was thin." "That's OK, we'll get them for you."

All three showed before and after pictures. One guy held up his wife's size 8 skirt, and said she'd doubled in size. So she's a size 16 now; the average size of a UK women. I'm not saying this because I'm a size sixteen; she really didn't look well in the before pictures.

Daytime TV is bad enough without public humiliation rituals. When it got to the bit where the husbands gently berated their womanly wives; "it's for your own good, you know," I started feeling sick. I don't think that being fat "happens" to you (if, indeed these women were fat; I think if you can still go into a regular shop and buy clothes, you may be a little heavy, but ridicule is not required); I don't think fat people are victims.

I know how hard it is to lose weight, however well-intentioned friends and bystanders are. I don't think you have to pussyfoot around fat people, pretending they're thin to make them feel better, and telling them it's not their fault. I mean, clearly, I've eaten more than I should and exercised less than I ought; it's a simple input-output equation with some emotional stuff thrown in.

But undertaking a public flogging on national TV? Is this the modern day equivalent of a witch-hunt? Are not-so-fat people to be so demonised as to be hauled up before a jury of their peers? Hung in the market-square for all to see?

There's a delicate balance between a supportive, loving partner non-judgmentally helping you do something you want to do yourself, and him selling your relationship for his fifteen minutes of fame. Of course, I'm not qualified to judge, as I used the ultimate voting-with-my-hands tool (the OFF button) so never found out what the women really thought.
I don't really understand how libertarians are different from old fashioned liberals.
Hung out in Waterloo with X last night; writerly - ocassionally witty - conversation and limited food. Good combination, huh? He told me that things aren't going well with his girlfriend. Why?

"I think she's gone off me. I told her that I wasn't a great bet, not making a living and all. She's a real City high-flyer. And I think she believed me."

You know how that is? You pitch a self-depreceating line to someone in the vain hope they proclaim: "no, no, I love you really. Money/looks/height/size/humour don't matter to me, really." Only they never do say that, do they? I think she's losing out, anyhow.