Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Big In '05



Lance won Seven.

Katrina. The tsunami. Lyndie "Thumbs Up" England.

The Michael Jackson trial. Nick and Jessica. Brad and Jen. Brad and Angelina. Crazy-ass Tom Cruise.

March of the Penguins. Dave Chapelle goes AWOL. Satan Gets Behind the White Stripes. Gwen. Beck. Madonna.

Hunter S. Thompson goes gonzo one last time.

George Bush sworn in for a second term.

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." George Bush

"George Bush doesn't care about black people." Kanye West

BTK Killer. Tom Delay money launderer. Judith Miller.

Deep Throat revealed (by Vanity Fair, not the Washingtong Post) as former FBI man W. Mark Felt!!!!

But who had the best year ever?

My red boots!

Behold! The First... and Probably the Last

Susie Daugherty heats up Christmas Eve with the scarf I knitted especially for her.

I can confidently report that the scarf I knitted for her was my mom's favorite gift. (In part because the workout pants I got her were two inches too short.) When she opened it she was so excited you would have thought that I'd cured cancer rather than knitted some balls of yarn together.

She proudly wore it to church the next day bragging to her friends, "Gina knitted this herself."

I confessed as she opened it that I had thrown her scarf in frustration and nearly quit several times, but I pressed on. 

I got boots, a new bag, books, a CD alarm clock (which is awesome), workout pants, a watch, perfume (Style, by Ralph Lauren) and a hand drawn portrait of Johnny Cash, complete with a 22 shell casing. (He shot a man in Reno, remember?)

No one came through with the yak, crampons or ice-axe, however.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Partying Like It's 1993



Back in the day Lori and I used to knot embroidery floss around strands of our hair. We, like, totally added flair to our otherwise ordinary high school locks.

While Christmas shopping this year she found this Conair Quick Wrap Braider for $1.99 at Big Lots. It does the same thing we did in high school in a fraction of the time. Score!

We used Kaicey, her daughter, as a test subject. She's leaning into the frame with two awesome braids while my turquoise braid sticks out. (Click on the photo for an up close view of how awesome they truly were.)

Nolan, her son, is touching Jack's foot (her other son), who was asleep on the couch. And I'm singing the lyrics "This is no ordinary weave" to the tune of Sade's No Ordinary Love.

I've been BFF with Lori since 10th grade, yet she insisted on giving me step-by-step instructions (rather nervously, I might add) on how to work the machine.

Don't let her distraught face fool you, though. Her weave was lookin' goooood!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Year of Stalking Joan Didion

It's one of those instances where you first hear about something - a word or phrase or a person's name - and then suddenly you hear it everywhere.

Such is my relationship with Joan Didion.

A few months ago The New York Times Sunday magazine published a rather lengthy excerpt from her new book The Year of Magical Thinking. I was captivated by it, spending half the day learning about her and husband's writing careers, the books they published, where they ate, lived, their relationship with their daughter, Quintana Roo.

The book captures the year Joan spent alone after the 2003 death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne.

I had never heard of Joan Didion before, even though she (along with her husband) is a very successful American writer. But up until that Sunday Times article, her name had not crossed my path.

Then after reading the excerpt of her book, the New York Times Book Review reviewed the novel. A week or so later I saw her show up again in a 1996 Q and A with Dave Eggers (A Heart Breaking Work of Staggering Genius) for Salon.com.

And again, earlier this month was I looking through a copy of Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song and, low and behold, portions of a review Didion had written about the book were published inside.

Then Friday, it happened again. I was reading about Bob Woodward's involvement in the Valerie Plame debacle when a headline from Poynter.org caught my attention: "Best thing ever written about Woodward... Is Didion's Profile from '96."

Now, not only do I know her name, she is everywhere.

(Update: Didion appears again in last Sundays New York Times book review in a book by Marc Weingarten titled "The Gang That Wouldn't Write Straight." It's about "new journalism" writers from the 1960s - Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson and of course Joan Didion.)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Update! From the Laziest Girl on the Planet

Went to the gym for the first time in months!

Walked on the treadmill. Even ran a little. Did some leg presses. Ab work. Jumped a rope about seven times. Whew!

Looks like I'll have to relinquish my title as laziest girl on the planet.

Report From the Laziest Girl on the Planet



Woke up at noon both days this weekend. (Actually it was more like 1 p.m. Saturday.) But I did finally leave the apartment yesterday, even if it wasn't until 6.

Shrimpfest, Tom's shindig for The Enquirer, was last night, and while I thought I'd stay for an hour or so, I didn't end up leaving until about 2 a.m.

I spent most of the evening convicing Jen she didn't have to be "invited" to read someone's blog, even if it does seem personal. Following the links from my blog, she stumbled upon Craig's blog and also Mike's blog, which she decided was too weird because they didn't know (or invite her) to read them. It was like she was spying on them, she said. Invading their privacy. Which I think is the whole fun of reading people's blogs.

Intermittently throughout this conversation I would yell for Tom's dog, Oscar: "Come here, dog. Hey dog! Heeeere doggy" in a feeble attempt to pat it on the head (ick, it stuck it's wet nose on me) and shed my image as a dog hater. It totally worked because I petted that dog at least four times.

Clearly Shrimpfest was a remarkable success!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Baby Love



Look! Some one trusted me to hold their baby!

Wendy and Beryl (my editor) had their baby boy Thursday evening.

Though it surprises even me, I get ecstatic at the possibility of holding a new baby. Beryl William was no exception.

I also learned a lot about reproductive health while I was visiting. Yikes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

If You Can Fill the Unforgiving Minute...



Aaron on running:

Work on the aesthetics.

Wear running clothes that make you feel like an accomplished runner...the classic torn/threadbare race t-shirt (I'll donate a few), hard core split shorts, black socks, shoes you've taken through the mud. Never wear technical apparel unless it's sporthill. Don't wear a watch.

Run like you mean it and like you look good doing it. Glide, don't trudge. Make a moderately quick pace look like it requires no effort. Charge up hills. Fly down hills.

Low five the kids.

Wheel around and menace anyone who says anything about Forrest Gump.

Jump over things unnecessarily (if someone's looking) but make it look necessary. Cross against the light. Don't run on the sidewalk. Take shortcuts through gas stations and parks and railyards.

Avoid the Observatory and Erie roadrunning corridors. Take back streets and alleys. Hop fences.

Change your route in midstream. Never, ever, go out and back...always a loop, at worst a lasso. Avoid Lunken like the plague, unless it's to run on the golf course. Stop only to check out the view from Eden Park or Mt. Adams.

If you see another runner, catch him/her and pass quickly. Head and knees up all the time, arms held casually, like a Kenyan.

Works for me.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Somebody's Got A Case of the Mondays

This morning as I was walking to my car there was a big patch of ice sliding down the hill.

Except I thought it was water.

So I didn't hesitate to step on it. I was all: "No problem! Look at me... just walking to my car in the morning as sure footed as anyone. Wearin' my pink pants and green coat and scarf. Yep, I'm lookin' gooooood. I even showered this morning!"

Next thing I know I'm sliding down the hill on my knee and my purse is sliding down the hill in front of me. And I made this odd, high pitched sort of groan as the ice peeled away a few layers of skin.

I was too lazy to go back inside and change out of my dirty pants, now with a black mark on the knee. The real bummer about the whole thing though is that my knee is barely skinned. As I was sliding I kinda hoped for a more severe injury, some blood and bruises, puntuated with a rip across my pants.

Alas...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Everyday Is Like Sunday




Blah. It's been cloudy and dreary all day. I hate it. I've left the apartment only to step out onto the balcony and shoot this gray photo.

Someone who lives in that white house practices playing the drums twice a day, once in the early afternoon and then again at about 10 at night. He/she has been practicing since I moved in and still they are no better. Practice, in some cases, does not make perfect.

The other photo I took a few nights ago. I was trying to capture the lights from downtown, which you can see in the distance from my balcony, but you can't much see them in the photo. You can see a very nice sunset, though.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Curious Incident of the Deviled Eggs and the Car Crash

Always enlightening, I talked to my mom on Sunday for about an hour, during which time she revealed these gems:

1. "Your dad's feet sweat a lot, so you could get him new slippers for Christmas."

2. The reason my brother Elgin hasn't spoken to my dad in three years is because dad would only "help" send him back to college (he's 45 years old, btw) rather than foot the entire bill.

3. She also casually mentioned she and my dad were in a traffic accident earlier in the day while driving to the RCA retirement carry-in. (She didn't mention the car crash until the END of the conversation.)

MOM: "Whew! We really had a busy day, Gina. We went to see the Man in Black... or whatever that Johnny Cash movie is called."

ME: "Oh, Walk The Line. Did you like it?"

MOM: "It was awful. That guy acted like an idiot. He just drank and took pills and stared and looked weird. He never said anything intelligent. Johnny Cash never acted like that. If I were that woman I would have never married him, him acting stupid all the time."

ME: "I was kinda ambivalent about myself. But it's gotten great reviews. Everyone says Joaquin Phoenix will get an Oscar for it."

MOM: "I don't see how. Your dad really didn't like him. He said they could have gotten anyone off the street to do a better job that than that guy. I didn't hate him that much but I didn't think he was any good. Reese Witheringspoon was all right. She was cute and that's just how June Carter acted."(She called her "Witheringspoon.")

ME: "Wow. You're harsh critics. What else did you do today? Did you go shopping?"

MOM: "Oh yes. I went to the mall and got that blazer I'd been looking at. It was on sale. I didn't want to pay $70 for it but I saw it had been marked down for Christmas for 25 percent off, so I went ahead and got it. I thought I'd wear it to the RCA retirement dinner."

ME: "That's fun. Did you show it off to all of your retirement friends?"

MOM: "Well, yeah I did. Eventually. On the way there we into a car wreck."

ME: "WHAT? Oh my gosh! Are you OK? Did anyone get hurt?"

MOM: "No. But Joann was pretty shook up. She didn't go to the dinner."

ME: "Who's Joann? Was she going with you?"

MOM: "No. Joann's the lady that pulled out in front of us. I used work with her. I talked to her while we were waiting on the police to show up. I felt like an idiot because I was standing there holding a big plate of deviled eggs."

ME: "Why were you holding deviled eggs?"

MOM: "I didn't want them to go bad and you know how your dad is. He had the heat cranked up so high I thought I was gonna die, and I had the deviled eggs for the carry-in on the floor-board of the truck and I knew they were getting hot down there."

ME: "Wait. You were in the truck?"

MOM: "Yeah, your dad won't ride in the car anymore because he says the heater doesn't heat up. So I kept worrying that the deviled eggs were getting too hot. Then Joann pulled out in front of us... Your dad tried to miss her. He turned all the way onto Washington Street to try to avoid her but he couldn't. So we ended up swiping her car as we went through the intersection. It did about $500 worth of damage."

ME: "That's scary. I'm glad everyone is OK..."

MOM: "Your dad didn't even want to get out of the truck because it was so cold. Is it cold there? It's really cold here. It's was only 20 degrees today. I wasn't sure how long it would take for the police to show up and I knew the deviled eggs were already hot, so I stood there holding them."

ME: "Outside in the cold?"

MOM: "Yeah. That's why I felt like an idiot, standing there with a big plate of deviled eggs talking to Joann. That's when she told me she was going to go to the retirement dinner but decided she wasn't going now because she was pretty shook up. We hit her pretty good. It scared me. She has a big dent in the side of her car."

ME: "Wow... I can't believe you didn't tell me this an hour ago."

MOM: "Well... We've had a really busy day."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Holy Knit!



My knitting hobby was spared oblivion this weekend by Sue, who taught me to English stitch. (Though now I am a crazy backwards knitter like Sue, who knits like a left-hander, or something like that.)

While the Bengals were pummeling the Stealers on Sunday, Sue and I knitted while Jen practiced her calligraphy. It was like a girl hobby bomb went off.

Here are the beginnings of my first (and very wide) scarf. And thanks to Cassius kneading on it, I can now blame him for the holes rather than the numerous stitches I've dropped.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Happy Holidays



Jealous much?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Another One Bites The Dust



Well on my way to quitting another hobby - this time knitting.

I tried to learn how to knit from a DVD I got at Target tonight (that was my first mistake) and failed miserably. I figured out how to "cast on," but once it came time to actually knit, I got frustrated and then quickly bored. My fingers don't have the needed dexterity, I've decided. They're designed strictly for typing.

It's not a complete waste of $20, though. I may take a beginners class sometime soon and the cats had fun with the yarn.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Wendy's Old Fashioned Dancing

I started taking dance classes about four months ago. Every time I mention it someone says: "You take a dance class? I didn't know that." And then they sort of look at me, like at any second I could leap to my feet and bust into a little jig.

I love the classes... It's tap and jazz with a little hip hop thrown it. What's funny about it though... actually, two things that are funny about it...  ok three things:
  1. First, the dance studio is in Northern Kentucky. If you don't live around here people think, "Kentucky? Is it square dancing?"
  2. Two, it's located in a renovated Wendy's. Yeah, that's right, as in the old fashioned hamburger place. You can't tell from the inside that it was once a mecca for square meat patties because it's all been refurbished, but when you roll up it slowly dawns on you, "Hmm... did this... used... to be... a Wendy's? (The big give away is the gold awning that's still there.)
  3. And three, if I didn't know better, I would swear that Mary Kay LeTourneau is in my jazz class. There's a lady in there who looks just like her... Mousy brown wispy hair, similar features. It's a bit distracting.

Bad Ass Cat



So much for Thanksgiving leftovers.

Cassady stuck his paw in the mashed potatoes. He is a very bad cat.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Breakfast of Champions



Last week I went to Andy's Mediterranean Grille for a short feature on his hookah. It was 11 a.m., so of course it was my first assignment/meal of the day.

To ensure that the photos were adequately smokey, David, our photographer, had me smoke what seemed to be a pound of apple shisha. Andy was in heaven, though, puffing away and billowing smoke from his pipe. And once I got it out of my head I shouldn't force it out like cigarette smoke, the water pipe and I became fast friends. (Ah, just like college.)

To wash it all down, he also gave us Lebanese coffee (no cream, no sugar - yikes) and different types of baklava. Delish.

A water pipe. Apple tobacco. Black coffee. Baklava.

Best breakfast I've had in years.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Man In Black

It's taken me a day or two to put my finger on it, but I think I've discovered why I left the movie Walk The Line feeling ambivalent about it. (Walking out of the theater I said: "I'm gonna need some time to absorb that one.")

I went in thinking it was about the man, Johnny Cash. I was looking for the Johnny Cash that wrote the lines "I shot man in Reno, just to watch him die." But as Peter Travers says in his Rolling Stone review this week, he ain't here, babe.

Walk The Line, much like Capote was a portrait of a piece of the artist, so too is the Cash movie. It's the piece of Johnny Cash that finds his two true loves - music and June Carter. And most of the movie centers around Johnny waiting for June to agree to marry him, while she waits for Johnny to walk the line. (Sober up, get divorced, propose properly.)

Know this going in and you'll love the movie. There were parts where I stared trance-like at Joaquin Phoenix's Cash-like sneers and Man In Black swagger. But I kept waiting for the movie to reveal the mystique of the man. And well, that never came. So I'm going to have to see it again, only next time with less "life of Johnny Cash" expectations.

So it's on to Cash by Johnny Cash.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Valuables



Some how, I guess in my excitement to write about how the survivors in Alive eat each other, I neglected to mention my favorite part of the book.

It comes late, not until page 312 of the paperback version and it's only a few sentences in a long graph, but it's what ultimately makes plodding through the narration worthwhile.

...They come home to realize how frivolous their lives had been before. Money is now meaningless. Fashionable clothes. Clubs. Petty advances. Idle living. All meaningless. The experiences of the crash, the avalanche, the having to survive on human flesh all culminates to strip off every superficial thing. In the end, all they care about is family, friends, girlfriends, God and country.

It's fascinating how so much means so little.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Oh Truman



Finally, I saw Capote tonight.

Though the movie is just minutes shy of being two hours, I never noticed the time. (And usually I sit in movies wondering when they will be over.)

It's very much just a sliver of the man, the time he spent researching and writing In Cold Blood. It focuses almost entirely on his writing process - finding the story, researching, interviewing, manipulating, waiting. It takes four years from the start of what he inititally thinks will be a good story in The New Yorker to the publication of In Cold Blood. There's even a great quote in the movie when he tells his editor: "When I think about how good this book could be, I can't breath."

Ah, yes... I think that all time, only about my blog.

Nevermind

I spoke too soon about there not being enough specifics about the survivors having to eat their dead friends in Alive.

It's a short graph, but the desciption is so gruesome that when I read it I had to cover my mouth to gag and put the book down. The survivors, desperate for "new tastes" and tired of their normal fare of human muscle, decide to go ahead and try the small intestines, brains and lungs of the dead. The brains, when putrid, are apparently far worse to eat then rotting muscle, say. Eventually they start to make something of a human/snow stew by cutting up each into small pieces, mixing it with melted snow and serving it in "bowls" made from the cracked skulls of the dead.

What really made me gag, though, was reading about the survivors cracking open the bones and then sucking out the bone marrow. You'd have to really be tired of lungs to do that, eh?

Another interesting point: The survivors also eat the hearts of their friends, including the blood clots that surrounded nearly all of their hearts. Now, most of the people on this trip were young, ages 20 to 40. A few were older, but most were around 20. So how did these young people, who end up getting killed in the crash and then eaten, end up with blood clots already surrounding their hearts at such a young age? Trauma from the crash? The milk/dairy/cow diet of Uruguay? Do people normally just have blood clots floating around their hearts like that?

Hmmm.

Anyway, I finished Alive. The writing, piss poor. But the story is pretty good. I think I'm moving on to Cash by Johnny Cash next. (Rob Gordon's favorite book.) The movie is out and I'm ready to take a break from snow-disaster survivor books for a while. Although... Aron Ralston's Between A Rock and a Hard Place has been eyeing me from the bookshelf. Poor Aron, he's forced to cut off his own arm and still I make him wait.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Riveting. Gripping. An Instant Classic.



And other words reviewers use.

Sure, it was published in 1997. Sure, I've had it on my bookshelf probably since then.

No matter, I just finished reading it last month and loved it. In fact, I appreciate it so much that it kept me up at night. I'd start reading before I went to bed (around midnight) then I'd stay up reading until 2 and 3 in the morning. I'd wake up the next morning thinking about Rob on top of that mountain, unable to come down. I'd walk to my car thinking of the Hillary Step and wondering how big it is (40 feet of snow at 28,750 feet) and if Edmund Hillary knew that it would forever be known for him. (If there were a Daugherty Step it would be the three stair drop covering the turn in the stairway that led to my bedroom in Marion. I used the floor-to-ceiling pole next to the stairs to aid my rapid descent.)

For Christmas I want a yak, an ice axe and crampons.

In keeping with the survival theme, I started reading Alive, by Piers Paul Read this week. (The copy, given to me by a friend who I'm sure did not read it, is yellowed and horribly typeset.) The story itself is far more harrowing than the Everest disaster of 1996, which is was Into Thin Air is about. But the writing isn't as good, so the book isn't quite the page turner that Into Thin Air is.

Mostly, I find myself reading the first few sentences of each graph and then skipping the rest. The writing doesn't have enough momentum to carry its readers, so I'm just looking forward to the end and finding out who survives, how they're found, how many of their dead friends they have to eat.

It's interesting: Both books start out essentially the same way - you know what ultimately happens (who dies) well before the end of the book, so neither are "what happens at the end" type of books. But Krakauer in Into Thin Air propels the story through his writing, building characters, creating suspense, etc., while Read approaches it more textbook-like, i.e. Here's what happens first, then this happens, and after that this happens. So far (nearly halfway), it's not that great of a read. But the story is pretty awesome.

An interesting complaint here: Aside from the fact there is virtually no character development (meaning that when they do die, I don't really care too much), is that there isn't enough detail as to them eating their friends. I'd like more specifics, such as how they cracked through the bones, if the others who didn't cut the meat knew who they were eating, if there was any method to who was eaten first and if different parts of the body tasted better than others. (Leg meat vs. back meat. Hearts vs. liver.) Because if you haven't read the book (and I don't think I'm giving anything away here), they eat everything except for the head, skin, lungs and genitals. (So that's a-go on the heart, kidneys and intestines.)

In a less death-defying note, I bought Cash by Johnny Cash this weekend at the new Borders in Crestview Hills. It'll probably be only five or ten years before I read it.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

How To Peel A Pomegranate



I took a cooking class last week at Jungle Jim's taught by David Warda, who created some of the vegetarian dishes at Slim's in Northside. In the class I learned to make parsnip and carrot soup with pesto toast triangles, three-cheese chili polenta (aka grits), vegetable frittata in filo and balsamic roasted root vegetables.

Probably the only thing I'll ever actually try to make is the parsnip and carrot soup. (It was hearty and sweet and one of simpler recipes.) But what I really took from the class was the randon question I asked David, "How to you peel a pomegranate?"

"The best way," he said, and then corrected himself, "The only way, is under water. Otherwise, it's a blood bath."

Indeed. Today I tried it under water for the first time and it's genius. Fill up a pot of water and split the pomegranate open under the water. As you push the seeds out, they'll fall to the bottom while most of the fibers will float to the top. Strain and eat.

All that, for just $45.

All The Cool Kids Have It



Everytime I see this dead little bird, I laugh. Is it because it died with its legs up? It's little plus sign eye? The font? The fact that the graphic looks happy and fun (the blue and orange and the cloud in the background) but really it's of a dead bird?

Whatever it is, it cracks me up. You can see this graphic and more like it on my coworker Mike's Blog.Last week he did a "limited edition run" (there were four) stickers of the bird flu. Demand was so high he's considering a second run.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Tribute to Rob Gordon



As Rob says: "What matters is what you like, not what you are like."

This is good. I'm not all that great, but what I like is really great, like Bob Dylan, black cats, good books, Polaroids and iPods.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Remember Videos?

 Massive Attack. U2. The Cure. Duran Duran.

Channel 920 is "The Tube," and unlike other "music" channels, The Tube actually shows videos 24-7.

It's bliss.