Shiver I Feel So

Dear Lou Dobbs,

One of these days, because you don’t seem to be stupid, you may realize how much damage you have done to America. On that day, your racism and class issues, which you’ve been playing out in public for a very long time, may finally be clear to you. You’ve been biting the hand that feeds you. I mean that literally. You castigate the people who grow and raise and slaughter and transport and prepare everything you eat, and clean up after you. Are you aware of them? I suppose not. But you are violating a very important little rule: Don’t screw with the people who take care of you. That can’t end well.

It’s time you started looking up the economic ladder for the causes of our current economic armageddon. Only there will you actually see what’s happening, though I doubt you will ever look. If I were you, I’d start overtipping everyone in sight, because it’s completely impossible no one’s spitting in your dinner.

Bon appetit,
Princess Ta

Sway Through the Crowd To An Empty Space

Set your recording devices: our friend Minstrel Boy plays Jeopardy Wednesday night, which is tomorrow. I personally do not own a recording device, though I hear they’re the bee’s knees. Twenty three skidoo, you know! Anyhoo, MB – the fellow on the right – enjoys military history, making chocolates and lapsing into French. The fellow on the left, well, I don’t know. I think he was on The XFiles or something.

A few days ago, the woman who buys paper towels for our department bought a bale of ’em in a brand that wasn’t recycled. I growled. Then I growled some more.

Tata: Have we given up on buying recycled paper towels?
Joanne: They weren’t on sale.

Every so often I receive a gentle reminder that I am a space alien. Look! Here is one! Watch, as I do not switch to my native tongue:

Tata: W – what?
Joanne: We run out of paper towels at sometimes inconvenient moments and the brands we like are not on sale, so we go with a different brand. It’s just timing.
Tata: I’ll get coupons.

Yesterday, I left coupons for Marcal products on her desk. She’s a nice person but we share a cubicle wall and the sound of her voice makes me mildly homicidal. Every afternoon, she eats 10 baby carrots, which I know because everyone knows.

BITE. SNAP. CHEW. BITE. SNAP. CHEW. BITE. SNAP. CHEW. BITE –

By the fourth carrot, Lupe and I are emailing each other from ten feet apart.

Tata: Kill me.
Lupe: Got a carrot costume?

SNAP. CHEW. BITE. SNAP. CHEW. BITE. SNAP. CHEW. BITE. SNAP. CHEW.

Tata: Why haven’t you killed me yet?
Lupe: Oh no. We survive this together.

BITE. SNAP. CHEW. BITE. SNAP. CHEW. BITE. SNAP. CHEW.

In the silence that follows, we mourn the little carrots that fell victim to the day’s carnage. We know that if not for their sacrifice, untold suffering would visit our basement office. Or maybe she’d bring celery. In any case, yesterday, Joanne approached me, coupons in hand and a new plan in mind.

Joanne: Thanks for the coupons. Is this the only recycled brand?
Tata: No, there are quite a few now.
Joanne: Does Shop Rite carry them?
Tata: They should. If they don’t, you could make a fuss. I do.
Joanne: Does Wegman’s?
Tata: Wegman’s certainly does.
Joanne: What about the prices? Are they so expensive nobody buys them so the stores don’t carry them?
Tata: No, stores carry them. And if you buy them, the stores will carry more. It’s too late for us to say this doesn’t matter.
Joanne: Have you seen them in Shop Rite?
Tata: I don’t have a Shop Rite, but they must carry them.
Joanne: Thanks for the coupons. I’ll watch for the sales.
Tata: This for me is putting my money where my mouth is. If it’s a couple of dollars more, then fine. I’ll live with that. I’ll try to keep you supplied with coupons, okay?
Joanne: Okay.

This conversation boggled my tiny little mind until I realized: she’s a New Yorker, and not just any New Yorker. She’s from Queens. She knows where her grown children are at every moment. She knows which doctors practice which specialties. And nobody is going to beat her for a dollar. So not only will I keep her in coupons, I will find out which stores she shops in and scope their merchandise. She will appreciate my ability to eviscerate a grocery bill for the Common Good.

Before we bought the composter, I was uncomfortably aware of how much compostable material was going out in garbage. Yesterday, I tossed 12.5 oz. onto the pile. Yes, I weighed that. I’m easily amused. Though it’s winter, the temperature changes have been frequent and crazy; material inside the composter continues to degrade nicely. In addition to this, Pete set up a large square pen like this image except that it is small, round and I pinched it from answers.com. Our leaves are turning into mulch and they need lots of air to do so, giving us the opportunity to spend an hour playing with pitchforks. Our neighbors must enjoy this. I know that if I weren’t me but saw me flinging piles of decaying crap with a pitchfork two-thirds my size, I’d microwave some Orville Redenbacher and summon the kids. “Children,” I’d say, “some lessons must be learned through experience, but some – yes, a special few – can be learned by watching others make exciting mistakes. Please pass the popcorn.”

That Borders My Back

In the words of the great sages A Halo Called Fred, the finest band that ever let me play guitar without injuring myself on the strings, “Have you ever woken up in the morning, having had a little too much to drink the night before, and said to yourself these magic words?” I say, don’t limit yourself to hangovers. Sometimes, you just feel like –

The Blues, The Reds And the Pinks

Detail. Light Bulbs, 2008 72×96″ Depicts 320,000 light bulbs, equal to the number of kilowatt hours of electricity wasted in the United States every minute from inefficient residential electricity usage (inefficient wiring, computers in sleep mode, etc.).

Though I am a delighted homebody who weatherstrips windows and doors for fun, I can judge with the gimlet eye of an art critic. This exhibit is worth your time and consideration. Now please excuse me. I’ve got to help install something made of rubber, foam and recognition of the obvious.

You Might Be the Sweet Unspiteful

AFL-CIO NOW BLOG/Tula Connell, quoted in full:

For more proof that the Republican opposition to the auto bridge loan is ideologically based class war against workers and their unions, look no further than yesterday’s comments by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who wants to force the American auto industry—at the cost of 3 million to 5 million U.S. jobs—to its knees:

I’m not trying to get rid of the unions but I am saying that they appear to be an antiquated concept in today’s economy and if a company cannot be competitive with the union structure that they have then we need to recognize that.

…Most of this is being done to protect unions. It’s not to protect the workers. What I want to do is make sure we have jobs for these workers and we have first-class American auto companies and we’re not going to do that with the barnacles of unionism wrapped around their necks.

The media is abetting the corporate-instigated class war, by endlessly repeating the falsehood that UAW members make $70 an hour—when, in fact, their salaries are close to those of workers at foreign automakers—and by otherwise blaming workers and their unions. Media Matters has been relentless in tracking these lies and sums it up here:

Even though the crises facing the financial and automotive industries were born primarily of the actions (or inaction) of those in positions of power in private industry and in government, many conservative media figures have assigned blame to specific groups of less wealthy or less influential people—the poor, minorities, undocumented immigrants, and union members, among others—disregarding the facts that belie such assignments of blame.

The media also is abetting the reactionary spin that has renamed the Big Three the “Detroit Three.” By regionalizing the crisis, opponents of a unionized auto industry hope to divide and conquer workers from the primarily unionized North from the “right to work” for less South.

Fight back by urging your senators to vote for the auto bridge loan.

I was a Teamster in the eighties and I’m a member of the American Federation of Teachers. This bullshit about unions ruining the lives of working people is nothing more or less than your elected officials telling you to go fuck yourself. You don’t deserve a living wage, decent working conditions or retirement. These elected officials are in several cases from states where foreign automakers receive big tax breaks and workers have no ability to organize, so not only are you invited to go fuck yourself but you get to help fuck over lots of other people you’ll never meet. So what do you care? You have to care. Because these elected officials are about to send the country you live in into double-digit unemployment and a genuine depression in the name of union-busting and a failed ideology.

Fuck THEM. Write that letter, please.

Like Play Has People

Pete’s a bit of a chiachiarone, which is funny because most people wonder if he can talk at all. He doesn’t say much except after 8 p.m. It’s like a timer goes off somewhere, and when I’m watching TV he’s quiet during commercials, then talks through the shows. He’s talked through entire episodes of The Daily Show and into Colbert. Who was on? I don’t remember. Pete was talking. During the first part of this interview, I was losing hope – again – that Jon would open up with both barrels on someone he liked personally, but then Jon came through.

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Meanwhile, at my house, Pete was talking about widening a doorway in one of the apartments and I was shouting at the TV, “GET HIM, JON. GET HIM. FIVE THOUSAND YEARS IS A LIE AND HE KNOWS IT. NOT EVERYONE GETS MARRIED TO PROCREATE. GET HIM, JON!”

The Knitting the Book And the Broom

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

Please resign, Bush tells political appointees

Historically, you didn’t have to tell political appointees to resign when it was someone else’s turn to make political appointees. But these fuckers are special.

The White House has a message for its political appointees: Go home.

White House chief of Staff Joshua Bolten sent a memo Dec. 1 to all of President Bush’s political appointees asking them to tender their resignation effective Jan. 20 – the day President-Elect Barack Obama is sworn into office.

Just days ago, one of these valiant prayer warriors declared she would not, in fact, vacate her office, though she must’ve gotten Bolten’s memo.

Despite a new administration coming into power, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said she plans to stick around.

“It doesn’t serve justice for all the U.S. attorneys to submit their resignations all at one time,” she said yesterday.

U.S. attorneys serve at the discretion of the president and may be hired and fired at will, although their appointments must be confirmed by the Senate. When a new president is elected, U.S. attorneys of both parties generally tender their resignations.

Instead, the Republican said she plans to continue her work in the Western District of Pennsylvania. More than that, she said she would consider working in the Obama administration. She would not discuss what her future might hold beyond the U.S. attorney’s office.

“I am open to considering further service to the United States,” Ms. Buchanan said.

She’s a toughie. Not to worry, that memo may still come in handy.

Should they not be sure what to write, Bolten gives appointees a sample letter.

“Dear Mr. President,” it reads, “I hereby tender my resignation as (title). I anticipate that my last day of service will be January 20,2009, and I understand that you will act on this offer no later than noon, January 20, 2009.”

“Sincerely, Name and title.”

I see. We’ve found the only person in America who’s never written I QUIT across her boss’ windshield in ketchup. Well, lucky us.

Smiling Close Like They Are Monkeys

The wolves who raised me were tough, practical people. For instance, my grandmother Edith’s motto was Eat it or wear it. Don’t kid yourself, my impatience with wastefulness was learned at an early age. Where dinner was concerned: at least once or twice, I wore it. I wrote a performance piece about food, frustration and love called Eat It Or Wear It, which I adored doing but it was hard not to look especially menacing as I dismembered vegetables in libraries and museums.

Miss Sasha mentioned in comments the current tendency to hide vegetables from children inside palatable, common foods. I hate that, actually. Edith would have cut us out of the will if we’d picked at a plate of vegetables. I’ll make one dinner, and children can eat it or not, but they shouldn’t bother complaining. The rule: you must taste everything, and if it contains something you need, you should find a way to learn to love it. Thus, the iron-deficient women of my family make kickass chicken livers.

Chicken Liver Pate

Ingredients
1 lb. chicken livers
1 medium white onion, diced or 2 healthy shallots, diced
butter
some red wine, optional
salt, pepper
whole grain toast or really good crackers

Got herbs you like? Toss ’em in. Basil and parsley are great here, but don’t let that limit you, you mad thing!

Optional
2 hard boiled eggs
1 red onion, sliced

In a frying pan, dollop piles of butter. Melt. Calories are unimportant. Add onions and stir until caramelized. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add raw livers. They look gross and smell vile. Stir constantly. Chicken livers are small and cook through quickly. You should break them into smaller pieces as doneness permits. In other words, when the livers start looking like cooked meat, you will be able to break them into pieces with the edge of a spatula. Please do. Splash with wine because no one wants thirsty livers or you do, in which case don’t. When the livers are completely cooked and not a moment later, remove from heat. Place in a food processor. Add eggs or don’t. Puree CAREFULLY or you’re going to the hospital. Chill until cooled through. Taste again and add a bit more salt and pepper if desired.

Serve with toast or crackers, and red onion slices and a really long spoon so people on the outside of the crowd can reach without injury.

Further: a lot of people turn up their noses at liver but they’ll eat cheap bologna. They must be crazy. That shit’ll kill you. Anyway, it’s December. It’s easy to feel depressed and overwrought. Chicken livers are very, very inexpensive (a pint goes for about $2 near me) and a good source of iron, which is better absorbed by bodies through food than vitamin pills. Plus, I’ll eat it if you won’t. But you will, and you will feel exotic and interesting. Be sure to eat with the whole grain crackers because iron can bind up your intestines and that’s not glamorous.

Expecting To Grow Flowers In A Desert

Have you seen this commercial?

YouTuber impossiblefunky:

Early this year Creative Director Tom Koh teamed up with our NY office to launch a fresh new brand spot for Astra Zenecas pharmaceutical product, Symbicort. It being the products first broadcast ad campaign, the expectation was for these spots to not only establish a memorable image for the brand but to set them apart from the competition. Expanding on the existing brand element of the human silhouette, Blind created a world rich with color and dimension to bring the spot to life.

The talking silhouette freaked me out so completely the first time I saw this commercial it took months for me to watch it all the way through. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s not. The image is familiar, yes? I see people like this in dreams, so the ad caused me a kind of instinctive fear response.

Good job, ad men. I am breathless.