Saturday, January 31, 2004

No sooner said than done: my za'atar just arrived. Thank you to my herbs and spices fairy godmother (J).

Friday, January 30, 2004

Thought I just stumbled across: what does it mean to live in a post-scarcity culture?
Don't you hate it when you give someone your email address over the phone and they say "is that all lower case?"

Thursday, January 29, 2004

This coming Monday 2nd February at 8pm some parts of the Jonny Berliner Band will be playing some (free) music in a great new music venue called The Kilburn, 307 Kilburn High Road (nearest tube Kilburn) in Kilburn (nearest overground Brondesbury!)

And I'm busy. I might try and wriggle out of it...
There's a very fine line between manager and control freak.

Adverse weather? Shortage of trains? Leaves on the line? Wrong kind of snow? New competition: write your (made up or real, whatever. Who cares about the truth anymore?) public sector stupid aphorism in the comments, and I'll award a prize* to the one I think is the wittiest/sheitgeistiest**.

* Something off your Amazon wishlist (although not if it's a digital camera) (you can tell I have lawyers in the family, eh?)
** I am the sole judge, and my decision is final. No communication will be entered into. Your mileage my vary. Family members of the competition company may not enter (oh, OK, you twisted my arm). It'll close this Tuesday, so hurry up.
I'm melting, I'm melting...
I can't help wondering if the inclement weather is sponsored by the Sensible Footwear Association, Mayor Ken as part of his London road strategy (broadly summarised as cars off the road), or some kind of weather voodoo on the Inland Revenue.
When I got to Kilburn en route to Isleworth yesterday, the Jubilee line indicator said "next train 17 minutes". People were fuming. You can read it all over the web, so I won't go into it, but I don't get it. We knew the weather was coming. We said we had grit. Why's the country ground to a standstill? And instead of paying for enquiry after enquiry (I can tell you the outcome: "we were unprepared and must learn from our mistakes"), just get more gritting machines, OK?
Identity Crisis?
My passport office appointment was this morning, 8am, and I realised yesterday that the only suitable photos I had were "inappropriate" as I was wearing a hat, and you're not allowed to wear a headcovering in passport photos unless it's for religious reasons, and I figured I'd be hard pressed to persuade some government official that my black cloche/twenties hat was part of a long standing spiritual tradition. Although last Limmud, one of the presenters in a text session did say that he was pleased to see at least one black hat in the room.

Now a passport's for life, not just for Christmas, and my last photo was crap and I've had to live with it for ten years. So in a testament to my vanity, last night I braved a (usually five minute) fifteen minute walk to the station to visit the photo booth. Someone else might have grabbed a quick pic in Victoria this morning, but I'm risk-averse when it comes to my carefully controlled photographic image. So, armed with £7 in coins (£3.50 twice in case of unflattering photos), and with more make-up on than I'd ever wear in real life - but I know how to do photography makeup - I got a relatively OK pic.

I know I'm paying through the nose for premium service, but the passport office in Victoria is the slickest government department I've ever dealt with. You can tell that everyone who works there really enjoys it, so there's no jobsworth feeling, and it's a well-designed building, with great ergonomics and queue systems and everything. I was in and out in 30 minutes including security (although I did have to out myself as an underwired bra wearer).

But the best bit? When I handed over my new photo, and the woman compared my new photo to my old one (they have to do that, "for legal reasons" apparently), she said to me:
"wow, you've lost weight." Cool.

I did wonder, briefly, how they "recognise" people. I mean, who decides that someone looks like their previous photo? What if you dyed/cut your hair, lost/gained weight, got caught at an odd angle (like Joyti De-Laurey always seems to have between three and ten chins, depending)? Who decides?

So, doing some work in a cafe (all I need is a mobile and an internet connection, location flexible), before my 10am meeting. After which, hopefully, I can collect my passport and trudge home to icy Kilburn.
Book Binge

Just finished Once in A House On Fire (Andrea Ashworth), about a young woman growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in Manchester (Rusholme, to be precise). Andrea and I have had very different lives, but we're about the same age, and she was in the sixth form at Xaverian the same time I was at Manchester High. Maybe I saw her on the bus? She perfectly recreates the idioms and dialectes of a certain sort of Manchester, and it was un-put-downable in a slightly addictive, confessional way.

After much cajoling, I'm having another go at Everything Is Illuminated, and I'm liking it. Maybe even loving it. He's so smart. He's got so much to say.

I like to read books by authors who look identical, and luckily I found out last week that Jonathan Lethem and Jonathan Safran Foer have probably never been seen in the same room. Check this: overeducated, slightly pallid, dead brainy, semi-thinning hair, glasses. Kinda a Jewish look, pre-Woody, New Yorkish. Sadly, I don't know either of them personally, but I've really into The Fortress of Solitude: it's identity, race, Hip Hop, I mean what more could you want from a book?

Of course, I'm too busy to read Getting Things Done (highly recommended by one of the most efficient people I know), or Change Your Life in Seven Days (Paul McKenna). But I should.

Oh, and I'm finally reading The Watchmen.

I know what you're thinking - how do I have time to do any work? Beats me. I think I'm just in super-adrenaline get everything done mode. And you need to switch off sometimes.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Stuff to do in New York (if the crap weather doesn't mean that either I can't get to the passport office tomorrow, or I get there and find everyone who works their snowbound as they commute from Stupidsville in Zone 94, meaning my trip would, kinda, technically, be orf.
The telephone bar. Anthropolgie. TeaNY (owned by Moby, dontcha know).
In the last twenty minutes it looks like about two inches of snow's fallen, and there's lightning and everything. Tonight's plans cancelled, then. Can't help thinking the weather prophets don't like the Inland Revenue: it's almost a year to the day that London ground to standstill when I was delivering last year's tax return.
H L Mencken. He even has his own society.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Daily-Mail-o-matic. Er, real headlines, right?
The (UK) Department of Health's view on transfats/partially hydrogenated fat.
Presumably something to do with Holocaust Memorial Day (which is today), but last night and Sunday night I crawled into bed 12ish, channel-surfed for something lightweight to watch, and both nights ended up glued to Broken Silence. It's on all week, 12ish or 1am on BBC2. I sorta feel contractually bound to watch/read all Holocaust related material, but last night's eyewitness accounts of Babi Yar had me truly in tears before bedtime.
Technology back-to-regular(ish). Thank the Lord. A thousand times. And special thanks to Darren for hosting my images in the meantime.
Great bolognese recipe.
How to get into advertising. Like you really wanted to know.
Last night, N got comps (he knows someone who knows someone, dontcha know) for the Comedy Store's King Gong Night - I'd not been for ages. Great night. It's like thirty acts, some of whom don't last more than "audience takes a look at them, tells them to p*** off". Sadly, one too many beers, so neither of us could remember the name of the bloke who won, but he was brilliant, honest.

Monday, January 26, 2004

You know that "Once Seen" column in Time Out? This is the Israeli version. Cute.
New From Cricklewood: a blogger and a strange hotel that appeared as if from nowhere.
And another thing - after an impromptu lunch with F & M (who I realise sound like a shop), I walked over to Hampstead to meet up with M, because I'd been up for a weekend of Jersey-style walking, and just wanted some outdoorsiness. We walked across to Kenwood, and M bought me a cup of tea (because obviously I won't spend money on Shabbat), and as we walk out to the garden to partake of our chamomile extraction, someone I vaguely know from another shul, exclaims rather loudly "nice to see another sinner!".
So Saturday, having a surpisingly-free-weekend after my Gatwick debacle, I woke up early and decided to go to shul. During the service, I'm daving with serious kavanah (of course), and an old friend comes in, looks at me, and she starts gesticulating, at my stomach (flatter), boobs (lighter), overall body (smaller). I was embarassed: I mean, I have lost weight, but when I last saw her (in Tescos, pre-Xmas), she was going on about how big I used to be, whereas I was clearly labouring under the misapprehension that I was curvy/zaftig/womanly, and I wouldn't want to mess with my own denial.

In the kiddush, I start telling an old friend this story, and we laugh, and then her aunt, who's in town for the weekend, looks at me, and says, "but you have a very bubbly figure, don't worry about your size."

So much for my new slim-body and self-perception, then. Lettuce eaters.
Remind me - when I have a moment - to write a blow by blow account of my customer experience with Not for you, of course, but for me, my sanity.
Is it a model? A spokesperson? No. It's a spokesmodel. P-u-leese.
Bad Day At Sashinka Towers. Sympathy required.
Can you believe this? Jamjar were supposed to deliver my car on Wednesday, but now they've sold it, they can't get me a replacement till next week, Monday at the earliest. And they won't cover car hire in the meantime. "Sorry, there's nothing we can do." How outrageous is that?
Short Rants For A Monday Morning
  • I sold my car, which is great, because (a) it was starting to annoy me, (b) I don't really believe in cars, and (c) I only do 2,500 miles a year. She's coming at 3pm, and I have a 0.01% reservation about accepting a building society counter cheque, but I've spoken to her Building Society manager, ferchrissakes, and checked it out with a bunch of people, so I guess it should be alright.

  • Which is good, because I've theoretically bought a new car from I paid ?150 deposit on 5th January, and have been chasing them for a week about delivery. Last Wednesday Paul told me they thought they'd "lost" my car for a minute, but they've "found" it now. When I chased again today as I'd not heard anything about delivery since Wednesday, turns out they've sold it to someone else. They are very sorry. We are in discussions.

  • So I thought maybe I'd just join the car club and be done with it, but they can't process my registration for at least a week, during which time I will have disappeared in a puff of stress up my own arse, probably. So, gah.

  • And to cap it all, my colocation provider has gone belly-up in a serious way, so I can't send or receive mail from any of my accounts, and won't be able to till tomorrow morning earliest. And even though I've got them to forward mail to my hastily reconstitued blueyonder account, for some reason - maybe a problem with the mail exchange doodar? - nothing's getting through. Or Friday's mail is turning up today. Gah. Again.

  • I need a new - commercial, I fear - hosting doodar. Any suggestions?

  • And I'm thinking of just going to hide in a nice warm coffee shop somewhere and ignoring the world. I mean, I would have been in Jersey anyway, right?
  • My Yiddish teacher has emailed to say:
    that's "ich brauch es..." not "ich darf es".. sorry for being school mistress first thing monday morning...

    Serves me right for relying on Google. Thanks, I.
    My site-hosting mail-hosting set up has gone awry (aka sh*t creek). So if you want to mail me, for now, use my hotmail address on this page. And sorry about the un-loaded/lost graphics, I'll sort it as soon as I find somewhere to put them.

    And no, I'm not happy about it. I've got five live projects to finish before I go to New York, and Ich darf es vi a loch in kop, as they say. Commiserations accepted.
    Word of the day: yurt. It's not, as I initially suspected, anything to do with yoghourt.

    Sunday, January 25, 2004

    So a word about women's deodorants. Tacky, I know.

    You couldn't move the last week for news stories about how deodorants are bad for you/potentially increase the risk of cancer.

    I've been aware-ish of this for a while. Three of my friends have had breast cancer, sadly. But this weeks news made me think about it more. On checking my current stock of deodorants (because I have one in my gym bag, and one at home, and one in my handbag), I discovered that the green-tree-huggy-looking ("Japanese spa minerals! aluminium free!) Bionsen roll-on contains both methylparaben and propylparaben. And it cost £3.99, which implies that it's not your usual £1.39 chock-full-of-shit product. Decide to ditch it.

    Amplex Caring 24-hour roll-on, has "soothing Aloe Vera", is non-sting, blah blah blah, but has aluminium chlorohydrate listed as its second constituent product. And we all know products are listed in volume order (water is the first. great). Ditch that one, too, then.

    I've finished the Natually Fresh Deodorant Crystal that I bought in Fenwicks. When I go to buy a new one today, despite all crystal-based products being sold out, they tell me that they won't do a stock-take for another three weeks, and then it'll take a while to arrive after that. So much for just-in-time warehousing, then. And responding to customer demands.

    Boots are also fresh-out of anything vaguely environmental/healthy in the underarm department.

    So I setted for The Original Crystal Deodorant (£4.99 from John Lewis). But I'm still confused. Parebens - bad. Aluminium - bad. Lots of them have zinc, though. Don't we mind about that?
    I can sleep nights, now. I have received electronic word that some proper Israeli za'atar is winging its way to me. Thank the lords.

    Friday, January 23, 2004

    The good news is that I did manage to buy some rather nice Ted Baker underwear tax free at Gatwick.

    Update: this is what I bought. I know what you want to say: Iwishyouwelltowearit. Thank you.
    So, trip aborted, a surfeit of Jersey fog, and I'm back home. That's a bus, the Gatwick Express, quite a lot of hanging about, Gatwick Express again and another bus. And I haven't even gone anywhere. I'll get a refund and everything, but what a right royal waste of time.
    I just saw a really skinny woman buy a big mac and a filet-o-fish, open the boxes, ditch the buns, and just eat the meat and fish. Atkinsers, eh?
    So I'm in Gatwick, in a NWP Inter@active (yep, they spell it like that, and not ironically, I suspect) kiosk, as there's no wifi in the south terminal.

    Bad weather in Jersey, my 12.15 flight is looking 80% likely to be cancelled, and I am shlepping round the hugest box of earl gry tea you can imagine. It's in short supply in Jersey, apparently.

    So, if I'm home by 3, rather than in Jersey, do you want to hang out this weekend?
    Maybe I'm a flexitarian.
    I can't bear journalists who pronounce Sharon (as in Ariel), like he's dancing round his handbag in an Essex nightclub. It's Sha-RON, OK?
    Sometimes, I just need fresh air. Ok, thought: why don't I go to Jersey today to visit my friend who doesn't like me even mentioning their name on my blog? Good idea. I'll leave in a few hours, spend a long weekend, be back Monday morning. (Don't worry, they've got broadband).
    Cinematic happenings under development - otherwise known as CHUD. Of course. Looks a little emo, but hey.
    Linked all over the web, I know, but this is great: you see, the trouble is, I'm not actually American...
    I think I may have read the (quite mediocre) book But had no idea that the real owner of was a victim of some kind of alleged domain name/identity theft.
    I'm running out of za'atar. I'm not sure it's worth paying $26 to ship some, though. Oh, hangon, this one's only $4.80. Maybe I can get the SupHerbs people to send me some?

    And here's a cool Middle-Eastern restaurant I must go to when I'm next in Boston. That's not Boston, Lincs, of course.

    Thursday, January 22, 2004

    I've been thinking about the Sopranos (just watched the first half of series one again, last night, you know the one with the "Hasidim, but I don't believe 'em" gag?), and was wondering. I'm sure-ish, that I read somewhere that the writer/s were Jewish-ish, and just transfered all their Brooklyn experience to the Italian-American mafia thang. True? Tony's mother sure is all my grandma's rolled into one, and they sure weren't Italian.

    I'm thinking of writing something about The Sopranos/Jewish thing... if you have any thoughts/leads, I'd love to hear them.
    Things magazine. I don't know a thing about it. Looks nice, though, in that twenty-first century, retro-minimalist typography kinda way.
    Born to be fat (from the Guardian, where else) is Zadie Smith meets investigative journalism.
    While I've never had a desire to visit club 194 on Cricklewood Broadway, I doubt whether I'll want to go now.
    How much does your car cost to run? Liftshare. Car clubs. The one in West Hampstead.
    Fiddler on the Roof. In Japanese. Talk about Lost In Translation.

    Wednesday, January 21, 2004

    Camber Sands holiday camp is the venue for All Tomorrow's Parties. Could be a LimmudFest venue?
    It's the John Hughes box set. I want, I want.
    Who da mensch? It's the oracular smoked fish lunchbox. From the people who brought you banking. (And my cousin, J, who emailed me. Thanks).
    I get pretty damn sick of the whole damn diary/personal/blog conversation. Now the NY Times rehashes it all over again.
    Can you imagine this? The last victim of the King's Cross fire, which was in 1987, has just been identified.
    Why not join the International Jewish Conspiracy?

    They go a little heavy on the Yiddish-accented English (Your member name is what? What for a password do you want? Don't worry we know from secrets), but they do a great-but-pointless sign-up questionnaire:

    What aspect of the world are you most interested in controlling and/or subverting?
    The Media
    International Banking and Finance
    The rag trade
    A little of this, a little of that

    How often do you call your mother?
    Several times a day
    Often enough
    She calls me
    Don’t be so nosy

    Who's The Mensh?
    You. You The Mensch.
    I the Mensch.
    The Elders of Zion the Mensch.
    My Uncle Morty the Mensch.

    Tuesday, January 20, 2004

    Turns out I met Scott Lash at a party and didn't even know.
    Thanks to Yoz for pointing me to this great news story about the brocha for internet porn. No, really.
    I notice that the Friday Five - unbelievably, in my view - got nominated for a Bloggie. In evidence, I submit my thoughts on the topic, m'lud.
    Procrastination central: I mean, why am I doing a backup now?
    OK, I have a lot of work to do. I'm not going to post anything here for... at least three hours.
    This is way cool. If I cross the Passport Office's palm with silver to the tune of £89, they can turn it around in four hours. No queueing; you get a timed appointment half an hour before a four hour meeting you have in Victoria anyway, and then go get it on the way back. Hey presto. Sometimes, the system does work.
    I think I might take Douglas Rushkoff's online course on interactivity. If I can get all my homework (both real and virtual) done.
    Why Freud Was Wrong
    Forgot -
    On Friday, I (OK, the blog) was two years old.

    Monday, January 19, 2004

    It's apparently Martin Luther King day, so the US Embassy aren't answering the phone. Does anyone know if there's any truth in the rumour that if you're traveling to the States you need six clear weeks on your passport?
    Everyone needs a friend who doesn't get out much, but knows how to compare mobile phone and other telecoms tarrifs. I present: callforless.

    Sunday, January 18, 2004

    Call me self-obsessed/beauty product enabled if you will: that Origins skincare thingy; Transformula's eye lifting gel; Caudalie foaming cleanser.

    See, this is what happens; I read something in a magazine, or hear someone talk about a product, or I'm in Boots/A N Other pharmacy and start reading the back of bottles, and I think "this is it". This is the magic potion/formula that will make everything all right/my skin smoother/my bags less defined. It will change me. Only thirty quid? Nem sfei.
    Manchester Reborn

    Of course my entire family are always telling me that Manchester has some kind of geographical nirvana, but, well, now the Times says it.

    It's like the whole city got all Pollyanna after the IRA bomb - let's look on the positive side, the Arndale centre's almost over - but it is way cooller than it ever used to be. It's Madchester, all over again.

    Friday, January 16, 2004

    Recent movies/happenings:

    American Splendour - at the Swiss Cottage Odeon (I was a little surprised that my cinema companion B left fifteen minutes before the end of the movie, and I've not hear from him since). I think he didn't like that it was about comics. I loved it. It was a little worthy, but interesting in that you get animation and real film together, and it works. And you get Harvey as an animation, and an actor, and the real him. The mediated life, eh? It put me in mind of the current discussion on weblogs: here's a guy in the 70s making comics about his everyday life as a filing clerk, and what it means for his friends and coworkers to be in his "art"... kinda like the blog thing, no?

    Fab night with N at the Highgate where we covered all manner of stuff - intellectual, current affairs - but my most fascinating new piece of information is a solution to the firm-calves-tight-boots conundrum. The secret? Do them up before you pull them on. You read it here first.

    Missed Amira Hass because I had a cold. An un-happening, then.

    Last night, Jonathan Lethem's book reading at the LRB bookstore. Nice guy. He had good stuff to say about Philip K Dick, too.

    Last and not least: Lost in Translation. What a great movie. I'm still thinking about it. It's about dislocation, outsiderness, and being western in Tokyo is a metaphor for that. More, when I've thought of more.
    I think I want to see Dreamers; or is it just one of those movies where the trailer is just so much better than the film?

    Thursday, January 15, 2004

    Note To Self:
    With the exchange rate at 1.85 and climbing, here's a list of stuff I might buy in NY next month:
  • iPod mini
  • digital camera
  • handheld scanner
  • other gadgets that call me
  • Shazia Mirza - Britain's only female Muslim stand-up comedienne. But then, in the venn diagram of life, that's quite a small overlap.
    Of Fiction and Fictional Pursuits

    You know how there are some books everyone raves about and you just can't get into them? Mine is definitely Captain Corelli's Mandolin, which I tried to read twice, and then realised that life is too short to make yourself do something you really can't hack.

    Another book I think I still feel a little like that about is Everything Is Illuminated - I haven't got past page five three times, even if Safran Foer is some kind of Yiddish-literary wunderkind.

    Someone told me that their boss sent a copy of Captain Corelli's Mandolin to everyone in the team, with a note that said "if you don't love this book, I can't work with you." New management style, or what?
    The Gruffalo in New York (my friend O's opening show on Broadway, noch).
    Anyone out there know the easiest way to get a pay-as-you-go cell phone in New York, ideally at the airport?
    Juice for... that stuff left in the fridge
    Started the day with a fabulous breakfast juice: banana, pear, kiwi fruit and ginger. With some crushed linseed to make up for all that omega 3 that I won't be having in salmon, at least not more than three times a year.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

    What do you have?

    Wednesday, January 14, 2004

    Bailey's recipes.
    The full list of Shipman victims.
    Google zeitgeist/sheitgeist for 2003.
    Suzie Gold - coming to a (North London) cinema near you sometime soon. Turns out, it's directed by fellow-Cheadle-ite Ric Cantor. It was filmed in 2002, so I don't know what's keeping it...

    Get's three out of five from Rich Cline, whoever he is.
    Since this year's surprise publishing hit, Eats, Shoots and Leaves, you can't move for people talking about grammar.
    Dookiewear - for ye punk/alternative babies.

    Tuesday, January 13, 2004

    Just got emailed an advert for a copywriter job, that ends "No primadonnas. No show offs. No cast offs."

    Surely, in the job-market, everyone is a cast-off in that they've all had a previous job. And that's kinda what you want, experience, right? It may be wittier-than-thou, but it doesn't mean anything.
    Barmitzvah Disco - I either get it or don't get it, but it's as retro as they come. Wehey to the big hair/jewfro look. Sweet.
    I'll have to wait till next summer to make Cherry Tomato Cinnamon jam. Shame.
    I can't bear how annoying some people are. So I'm doing a piece of work that requires me to deal with estate agents, and I ask a guy to send me some details via email. They can do that. I painstakingly, twice, spell out my email address, Sasha AT mydomain DOT COM. Fair enough. As he said, get one letter wrong, and it's a nightmare.

    I chase him three hours later, it's gone, it's gone, he tells me. "Let me check your name, how do I spell your surname?" I spell it. "That's right," he says - wanker - "sasha AT sashalastname DOT COM."

    Tell him that's not what I said, and he gets angry with me. "All the phones are ringing, we can't get it right all the time."

    Seems like they don't get it right at all. I spend a lot of time chasing people for information, and it hurts, I tell you.
    Dr Seuss in Yiddish. How fab is that?
    See, I can't even concentrate in my SoHo: I don't get interrupted by minions or colleagues, but I get a constant stream of fun emails which are so much more compelling than the care home industry I'm currently researching.

    Right now: old school friend who's a journo wants me to go to a school reunion type thing and get photographed. Mmm, of course. I control my image more carefully than a member of the Hilton family (like, much more carefully), so, er, I don't think so.
    Comfort Food Central

    Gourmet it's not, but I realised during my recent extended cold/crapness, that my comfort food of choice is Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup.

    What's yours?

    Monday, January 12, 2004

    See, what I said about too-much-information is true: Nicholas Watt's was tipped off the next day.
    I Believe We Should Be Told (AKA Spot The Difference)

    In the words of an old friend of my father's, Nicholas Watt's never been more wrong. So he thinks the Howard Credo is creatively cutting edge? Er, I don't think so.

    And the letters page on the Guardian - I mean, I'm sure there's other newspapers, but why should I read them? They probably only say the same thing, differently packaged - may be controversially raging on the Stephen Gately-Savage Garden-R Kelly-Tom Jones continuum, but I know the truth.

    So Michael Howard's gone all positive spin/New Labour/Old Conservative/you choose - and he'd have to after all that something-of-the-night-encoded-antisemitism we heard about on his elevation. He needs to rebrand. Don't we all, in these brand-aware times? And that crap about his Mother? Little yidl, big hair, gold slippers? P-u-lease.

    Back to the plot. So Nick thinks Michael Howard's new credo is Martin Luther meets R Kelly? Thinks Maurice Saatchi, advertising guru to the chattering classes is a creative genius?

    And the whole thing was apparently the brainchild of the Tory advertising guru Maurice Saatchi? That icon of advertising? So Saatchi and his minions laboured away for hours coming up with something original, something contemporary, something that cleverly communicates the core values of Howardism? Er, I don't think so.

    I have news. Fresh in from New York. Maurice Saatchi - this time around, anyhow - doesn't have an original idea in his head. I have a framed card on my wall (hence bad quality scan) from my first visit to that temple of Art Deconess in midtown Manahttan, in the late eighties, which is itself a facsimile of an inscription in the wall of the Rockefeller Center. It's a card with the "I believe in the supreme worth of the individual" credo that was John D Rockefeller Junior's thang.

    So from the heartland of Tory fontery: check out the partial scan of the Howard Credo (above). And then check out the scan of Our Family Creed, also known as The Things That Make Life Most Worth Living (below), by John D. Rockefeller, Jr:


    And check this out: it's the same down to the font and the layout. The font is Fritz Quadrata, which my typographical consultant tells me is "quite seventies", which might mean that Howard is harking back to the power(less) years of seventies strikedom, or it might mean that someone just grabbed it, liked the look of it, rewrote some verbiage, passed it off as an original piece of work, and billed the client (Michael) doubtless a substantial sum of money.

    If they'd have come down to Kilburn, I could have knocked it up on Photoshop. I've heard that there's nothing new under the sun, and there may not be, but people should at least try.
    No news from Toba. You'd think they'd cease and desist by now.
    Hotel 41, the Roger Williams.
    Anyone have any leads on cute-ish (but not chintzy) New York boutique hotels?
    So I think I read too many blogs. Not that I do, anymore. I think I have blog inertia: I've got a spare ten minutes, I want to find out what's happening in the world and the internal world of people I know and I don't, and I surf because I'm hungry, and I just get an overload of "yays" and "cool" and kvetvhing and I realise I don't care about these people, and the little minutiae of their days any more than you probably care about mine.

    Ennui. That's it. Blog ennui. Blogennui.

    There really is too much information out there, and I can't remember what my friends said to me on Saturday night that I wanted to write here, because it's all mixed up with crap I read about some girl in San Francisco's argument with her boyfriend, and stuff about heebz and zeeks and modern day come-hither yiddishists and I don't even know what I think anymore.

    Discerning, that's my word for 2004. I will blog-read discerningly. Frankly, the only blog I ever read with any excitement (OK, I exaggerate for effect but you get the drift) was Mike at Troubled Diva and he's gone. Perhaps sensibly, but I want to know what's happening in his life. Maybe I'll call him. See, you can get beyond the virtual.
    Zeek magazine.
    Culture wars in Brooklyn. Who knew?

    I imagine a proto-(Jewish)science fictionesque future where the world is divided into Black Hatters and the CST. Turns out it's The Chasidim and The Artists. You couldn't make it up.
    British campaign furniture and colonial nostalgia. I mean, who knew? That there even was such a thing?

    Friday, January 09, 2004

    Here's a word about Oyster cards: I've used mine three times on a bus, and it doesn't charge your card. So, it's like, free. Yay.
    Wild salmon is safer than farmed salmon?

    He points out that salmon in US farms are also fed recycled fat from slaughtered agricultural animals such as cows. By feeding the salmon material from the top of the food chain - which may already have high PCB levels - the problem can be exacerbated.

    And me, a fish-eating vegetarian.

    And what's the difference between PCB and dioxins?
    That's the second post that Blogger's eaten in as many days...
    So the new iPod is overpriced. At least I can get something from the ironic iPod t-shirt store.

    Thursday, January 08, 2004

    Well, hello Toba. Whoever you are. And thanks for completely ripping off my design, without (a) asking or (b) crediting me. And twice; once for your English blog, once for your arabic one. Naughty, naughty, naughty. Not the way of the web.

    Not least because, you've even had the gall to nick my painstakingly-drawn/scanned handscript images. It's my handwriting, OK. And you've nicked my code, which I borrowed, with agreement and credit, from Dan and Tom. Just stop.

    Of course there's a multicultural irony in quite how popular I've become among arabic blogs. But I still don't like it.
    Americans run the interwebnethang. Imagine, if you will, that thing of which we get too many every day being called epost. Exactly.
    The Sheitgeist Index

    Capturing the Sheitgeist: a beat-the-bullshit no-holds-barred deconstruction of stupid twenty-first century habits. Described in that stupid third-millennia language-is-our-prisoner, buzzword-bingo way.

    1. Arrangement fatigue
    Everyone’s so damn busy, and you spend so long trying to meet up with four old friends that at least half the potential group lose interest anyway.

    2. Choice inertia
    You can’t decide between tea-tree washing-up liquid with added air quality enhancer or hand-soothing lemon freshness, so you do nothing.

    3. Party arbitrage
    Sounds like a great party, but you might get a better offer, and you’d like to decide at the very last moment. Later, even. Goes hand-in-hand with late-onset arrogance.

    4. Trophy husbandry
    Female high-fliers seeking out a buff/bright/ballsy stay-at-home guy as their trailing spouse.

    5. Subscription addiction
    Convinced your life would be immeasurably improved if you could speed-read the Economist, Elle Deco and the Spectator, you take out multiple-subscriptions but are, of course, far too busy to read them.

    6. Wish-list envy
    Too time-poor to develop your own wishlist on, you surf someone else’s and nick their obscure interests in, say, the work of Kilburn artist Robert Lenkiewicz.

    7. Life-force sappery
    Those friends who suck your energy and want to meet up all the time but you don’t have any oomph left to tell them the friendship’s over.

    8. Furry fandom
    Your neighbour has a kitten. Your Mum has a kitten. Everyone in your office has a kitten. It’s like it’s gonna make them feel better, or something.

    9. Post-penetration generation
    Everyone you know is so kinky that they don’t even have old-fashioned sex anymore.

    Wednesday, January 07, 2004

    Here's what I hate about Christmas - no-one at work returns your call after 10th December because they're out stuffing their face with a client they hate anyway. YOu get cards from people you don't eve know, and there's a faux seasonal spirit for about a fortnight (let me open that door? can I help you?) which just proves how crap people in the city are to each other the rest of the year. If your boiler breaks down chol-ha-moed Christmas, you won't see an engineer till well past the twelfth day, no matter how many stars on your maintenance contract. And the queues in Waitrose, the panic, the planning, you'd think people can't even cook.
    Who does Vanessa Feltz think she is? She's moving so low down the celebrity foodchain that she's practically desert - although she shouldn't be eating any of that. With her "more is more" philosophy, in-your-face pink Batmitzva-ot, loud divorce and still basking in her failed £2m TV deal, she does my head in.

    Out and loud Jews? Fine. Professional dieters with big hair, bad taste and truth-economics on the dress size? Pass me the chocolate fudge cake.
    So this is where we all went wrong - on the weight loss front, anyhow - we didn't have weekly therapy sessions. Of course. I'm reading Therapy Culture (Frank Furedi) right now, and my mind has been melded into a temporary hatred of the vulnerable self. On yer bike, right.
    If I didn't have such a cold, I'd be at the Spitz tonight, to see Charming Hostess. Hung out with them, some, at Limmud, they are funky cool types, as is their music. And, like, they were commissioned by John Zorn.

    Tuesday, January 06, 2004

    Sunday, walked across the Heath with G and A, to Highgate, and had a wonderful Hungarian-stylee lunch (although we were trying hard to low-carb) at Cafe Mozart. I discovered my new hot-drink of choice: cinamon stick in hot water. I have added honey for seasonal cold-diffusing properties.

    On the way back, we played intergalactic Jewish Geography with some people who just looked familiar. Turned out G had been at Sunday School with one of them in a past life, but they just looked like we knew them. Two points and a joker on the JG, though.
    I have a stinking cold - I could do with all the tea and sympathy I can get.

    Monday, January 05, 2004

    Fashion News From the Shores of Brooklyn (or thereabouts)
    N tipped me off to these great t-shirt sites: Rabbi's Daughters and I have my Yo Semite t-shirt on order, although I have no idea at all who Derek Jeter is, and frankly, no desire even to google. Sometimes, there's stuff you just know you don't need to know, especially if it's to do with an overseas sport you probably don't even get the rules of.

    And there's more... Jew Lo, JewishJeans and the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix even has an article on Jewish t-shirts. Only in Amerikey, as they say.
    And I heard it from the horse's cousin's mouth that we'll hear about the new mini-iPod tomorrow, 6pm GMT. £65? If it's true, I'm there. If it's not, there's a bunch of people up against the firing squad, I'm guessing.
    I'm back
    Just like Arnie, I'm back, only with less of a germanic accent, and a lot less of a vengeance. In fact, with something of a head cold. There's a lot to cover; formalities first: Happy (goyishe) New Year (and a word about the word goyim:it has something of the connotation of "that other 99.5% of the world that's not Jewish", to it. So I tend to say non-Jews, which may be worse. Or I could just say "the world", because, let's face it, that's the way it is).

    Next; Limmud. Urban Kvetch. Jewish Hair. My tax return. New Year. New T-Shirts. New Conservatives and a word about their typography. And some other stuff. I'll paragraphise/postise, it'll be easier on the eye. Want to let you back in gently, right?