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June 01, 2003

Just a Geek

According to The Geek Test, I am 24.65483% geek, which is second-lowest on the scale. So I guess this means I can pass in the real world, though maybe not on The Real World.

[Link via Miss Zeebah]

Yours, &c., LC at 11:57 AM | | Comments (3)

My Evening with Suzanne

Lost sleep again on Wednesday when I went to see Suzanne Vega at the Bowery Ballroom, again with Mike. Whereas the night before the place was practically a honky tonk for the Lucinda Williams gig, it was like being at a giant coffee house for Suzanne's performance. A really diverse crowd, with hipster types young and old, geeks, people with rasta braids, a Salman Rushdie type in a tweedy coat. Goofs like me. Gawker was allegedly in attendance as well.

The opening act, Gerry Leonard, couldn't be there because of a death in the family. Suzanne came out to introduce a different opening act, a girl with a guitar whose name I can't remember, although she is playing Pete's Candy Store later this month. Dawn Landes, I think. She played a 45-minute set, with a great opening song, playing with her guitar along to a noisy, electronic track. Very cool. But the songs got progressively less interesting, culminating with the "Accordion Song" - I felt that maybe I might even be able to play accordion. Still, she has a nice voice, good stage presence, and I think she has potential. The crowd certainly was inclined to like her.

Great spot by stage left. We experienced the "halo effect," where there's literally an open circle around us because no one wants to block Mike in his wheelchair. So we short folks had a nice, unimpeded view. Suzanne came out with her band - a guitarist, bassist and drummer. Suzanne looked contained - hair pulled back, black suit, quirky shirt, black Chuck Taylors. The woman who was filming at the in-store a few weeks back was there again - I understand a documentary is in the works, she must have something to do with it.

Just a fantastic, tight show. Suzanne is great with her guitar, as well as with a full band. Lots of songs from her catalog, with stories here and there. She told of how she came to write "I'll Never Be Your Maggie May," a response of sorts to the Rod Stewart song, which she loved when she was twelve, because of the music and the mandolin solo, but then gave more thought to the lyrics as she got older. She explained how she was the folk-singing, disco-dancing camp counselor and that she wrote "Gypsy" for this fellow counselor that she dated, who gave her his bandana in return. She played that solo, bathed in a single golden light. It's such a lovely song, and it's hard to believe she wrote that when she was 17.

She read a funny excerpt from her current book, a collection of writings, and told the story of Millie, a childhood friend of sorts, and connected that to a recent circumstance where she was taking her daughter to school and ended up exchanging rude words with a man in a three-piece suit in a BMW who called her a "dumb ho." Some woman freaked out when Suzanne followed up the Maggie May song with "Calypso" from the album Solitude Standing. She started exclaiming ecstatically, something like "YES! YES! CALYPSO! YES! YES! YES! THANK YOU!" and throwing her arms up in the air. I think it was safe to say that everybody, maybe even Suzanne, was freaked out. Hello - the show is not about you. Whoop and clap, shout out a request even, but please don't act like you're about to have a personal climax in the middle of the crowd. Sheesh! She must really like that album, because she spazzed out to a lesser extent when Suzanne began playing the title track.

Other highlights - a funky, chilled arangement of "Left of Center" which she sang a cappella and was accompanied by the bassist. Another was "Solitaire," which she said was about those nights when you're vowing to play only one game, then go to bed, and you're still on the computer two hours later, trying to win your first game. Suzanne sang, the drummer and bassist sat nearby on stools with complicated handclaps for percussion (the bassist would count out for us when to clap), and the guitarist accompanied. I love how smooth and silky her voice gets when she performed "Caramel." Towards the end, more requests were entertained, including "The Queen and the Soldier" and "World Before Columbus." And the inevitable "Luka," done with the full band and "Tom's Diner" with the crowd doing the "do do dos." She's probably really, really tired of doing this, but she's obliging of her audience.

A fantastic evening. Can't wait to see what shows up in the documentary.

Yours, &c., LC at 12:49 PM | Music | Comments (1)

June 02, 2003

Dream Date

Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy

According to British women in their 20s and 50s, "Mr. Darcy, the dashing hero of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, has topped a survey of fictional characters women would most like to go on a date with." ["Mr. Darcy voted dream date" - BBCNews, world ed., 6/2/03]

Presumably this date would be with the Fitzwilliam Darcy we encounter later in the novel, not the one whose pride and prejudice prevent him from dancing or conversing with anyone who is beneath his station.

The list in its entirety:

Top 10 dinner party dates
1. Mr Darcy
2. James Bond
3. Superman
4. Hercule Poirot
5. Inspector Morse
6. Heathcliffe
7. Sherlock Holmes
8. Rhett Butler
9. Prince Charming
10. [Richard] Sharpe

Source: Books Marketing Limited

Yours, &c., LC at 02:17 PM | Writing & Language | Comments (4)

June 03, 2003

Kid 'n' Play are not invited

I know I'd heard of this, but Cordelia's post reminded me. It seems the reality television craze in the UK has taken the form of sticking modern day people in period situations. The latest installment: Regency House Party. "Visit the Real World of Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy!"

I know these miniseries have been a hit with people, but so far I've avoided getting sucked in (because I know that's exactly what would happen). I think I'd rather curl up with the novel, or gaze upon Colin Firth emerging all wet and dripping in his white shirt after diving into the lake.

In a similar vein, "To Live and Date in New York" is seeking applicants for its new season. [via Gawker]

Yours, &c., LC at 09:49 AM | Film/TV | Comments (3)

June 04, 2003

"We are the library of a free nation and must act accordingly."

Michael McGrorty, a regular on one of my librarian listservs, was published recently on the op-ed page of the Los Angeles Times. ("One Word From Librarians That Speaks Volumes", LA Times, 5/31/03)

One Word From Librarians That Speaks Volumes By Michael McGrorty

Michael McGrorty is a library intern-student at Cal State Fullerton.

May 31, 2003

An elderly woman approached the reference desk recently to ask for help in finding a novel. My impression was that neither her vision nor her legs were up to the task of the search, so I retrieved the book for her from the large-print section. While I was thus engaged, my patron was busy reading the placard that the library where I intern has placed at the reference desk. Its purpose is to inform patrons about the USA Patriot Act [the law passed after the Sept. 11 attacks to expand the government's surveillance powers in terrorist investigations]. It took her a while to absorb the meaning before she spoke.

She said: "What does this mean? This is like the Red Scare. You surely aren't going to participate in this, are you? I have lived a long time, and never thought I would see this happen again."

With that she departed.

I watched her go out the door and thought about an answer for her. Certainly I cannot speak for our library, and properly not even as a librarian, being only an intern.

But the woman's question was more than mere comment, and it was addressed not to me but to the library — to the institution, the staff and the history and meaning of the place she had known all her life. And it deserved a response. If the library could talk, it would speak with the voice of all those who had worked there and every patron who passed through the portals, in every town where there has been a place set aside for reading and a collection of books offered free for the taking since the practice began.

Regarding the current matter, this bit of legislative excess that has fallen upon us, I believe that the library would utter but a single word: No. Just that one word, but emphatically, and leaving no doubt as to intent or application. And that answer speaks not just to the elements of the current situation but to any such that have been and will doubtless present themselves in the future.

No. That is the answer, our answer to the Patriot Act. No to disclosure of patron information, no to violations of privacy; no to complicity with these activities in any form.

The reason for this answer is because of what we are and what we have been. To go along, even if only through our silence, would be to say to ourselves that what we have stood for was nothing; only a collection of fine words, erased by a collection of other words, orders from a distant source that had more meaning for us than the history and creed of our craft.

The library, which has asked thus far only that we perform our duties as well as possible, now asks that we live up to a standard that has previously existed for most of us only in the abstract. Our hour has arrived; now we will see what sort of stuff we are made of, and afterward all of us and the walls and the very books upon the shelves will know.

What this means is to disobey; the cost is what it has always cost. Silent opposition is as valueless as the unfulfilled intent to give alms; this fight needs no coat-holders. Now is the time to say the word, to live the word, to represent the word to our community. No.

Let our models be the press and the advocates of free speech, who would instantly rise to this threat. We are no less important to the nation, and no less is expected of us by the people we serve.

What we need now is not a gush of words, but a single word, uttered and subscribed to by every librarian in the land: No to this and anything like it, regardless of personal consequence, an absolute refusal on the grounds of our heritage and our responsibility.

And when the supporters of this law react, when some person arrives to suppress and punish, let us rise as one to repeat our refusal and stand together. We are the library of a free nation and must act accordingly.

Yours, &c., LC at 12:18 PM | Librariana

Index-o-rama

One of the neat features in Movable Type is the ability to assign categories to your blog entries. (This is a cool feature, whether or not one is a librarian.) After some tinkering, I've created a template for my Category Archive, then added some extra coding so that each post will tell you which category(ies) it's been assigned to. There's also a listing of same over in the sidebar.

Now I need to finalize a comprehensive, logical list of categories, hopefully one that shouldn't be altered much, because I'll be darned if I have to keep reassigning posts over and over. But then one can always use the Search field, another great feature, to seek a particular post.

Thanks be to Paul for helping me with the coding within the post entries.

Yours, &c., LC at 02:45 PM | Admin , Blogos | Comments (5)

June 05, 2003

An ale for what cures you

SkinCola - I've seen the ads on the subway, and I'm still agog with disbelief. Anyone else creeped out by the packaging design on the bottles?

Yours, &c., LC at 01:10 PM | Sundries | Comments (6)

Dude! Sweet!

The East Coast Regionals for the 2003 US Air Guitar Championships take place this Friday at the Pussycat Lounge downtown. Grand prize is a trip to Oulu, Finland this August to compete in the World Championships. That would be the 8th annual Air Guitar World Championships.

I'm soooooooo not there. Especially if it's eight bucks just to get in!

Which reminds me - at the Suzanne Vega concert there was actually a guy at the show doing air drums. *cringe* But this was at least a more tolerable sight than the woman who went spastic over "Calypso."

Yours, &c., LC at 02:02 PM | Music , New York minutes , Sundries

June 06, 2003

"Let your dinner be a poem, like your dress."

The full quotation, as found at Food Reference:

"Enchant, stay beautiful and graceful, but do this, eat well. Bring the same consideration to the preparation of your food as you devote to your appearance. Let your dinner be a poem, like your dress." - Charles Pierre Monselet, French author (1825-1888) Letters to Emily

Convivium Artium is an electronic peer-reviewed journal devoted to food representation in world literature, film and the other arts. One of the current articles is "Samuel Pepys and his Cookbooks" by Roy Schreiber.

The Julie/Julia Project: Julie has given herself 365 days to cook the 536 recipes in Julia Child's seminal cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961). Go Julie!

Amanda Hesser recommends three tools for one's kitchen: the Microplane zester (Model 40001), the OXO vegetable peeler and the Silpat mat. ("The 3 That Make a Kitchen Complete", NYTimes, Dining, 6/4/03)

Tomorrow evening I am taking a long-awaited class at the Institute of Culinary Education, a fabulous birthday gift from Jen, who's gonna flour up with me. According to the class decription:

You'll start by learning to make doughs for both thick- and thin-crusted pizzas, and while the doughs are rising, prepare various toppings. You'll learn proper baking techniques, and work hands-on to make the following pizzas: Traditional Pizza Margherita (tomatoes, basil and mozzarella); Pizza Bianco (ricotta, mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano and Gorgonzola); Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Pizza with Spicy Garlic Oil; Portobello Pizza with Balsamico; Pancetta and Cheese Pizza Topped with Arugula and Tomato Salad; Prosciutto and Ricotta Calzone; Southern Italian Home-Style Pizza; Roman Potato Pizza; Sfinciuni (the original Sicilian pizza); Barese Pizza (caramelized onions, anchovies and olives); and Focaccia.

Mmmmm. After I have absorbed the details of Best Homemade Pizza, I shall give Mario Batali a run for his money. Ok, not really, but considering how much we like pizza, this would be a huge boon to my very tiny cooking repertoire. I hope I get to take home leftovers. I hope my leftovers will be edible!

On what has turned out to be a thematic post, I have also just joined a Recipe Blog. What a great idea! Thanks to Dru and Zeebah for letting the novice chime in.

Yours, &c., LC at 01:12 PM | Food

June 09, 2003

Bloodied, Not Bowed

Ok, so my apron and dishcloth was actually stained with the juice of canned tomatoes, but I got through my pizza class with my pride barely intact. Even Jen, who's no novice in the kitchen, felt a bit of pressure during the five-hour class, so I don't feel so bad. I'm rarin' to try again, in the comfort and anonymity of home.

There were different levels of experience in the class. I was probably the only true newbie. While I was still working on my first dough (thin crust), it seemed that everybody else had finished both types of dough (thin and thick) and were happily working away on their toppings, sauteeing portabello mushrooms and onions, slicing and crumbling pancetta, bacon, or anchovies, roasting peppers, grating parmesan, mozzarella or smushing strategic bits of feta. It didn't exactly boost my morale to be at the same work station as Tom&Meghan, a super-nice couple who were these creative, über-gourmands. They must've used up all their dough, they made so many varieties of pizza.

I know I'm not a stupid person, but my cooking skills are extremely rudimentary. I hardly know how to prep ingredients, let alone knead dough. My evening was full of tiny mortifications. For instance, in hunting around for salt and pepper, I managed to knock down a cup full of coffee stirrers. Good going, Lady C. My lowest moment came as I struggled to peel my rolled-out dough off of the 12" cardboard round (for sizing purposes) so that I could then top the dough and then slide the pizza into the oven.

I hadn't floured the round enough. The dough wouldn't come off, and it was like a piece of gum messily stuck to one's shoe. Just as all seemed hopeless, Jen insisted we take a break. So down to the street in our dirty aprons, Jen for a much-needed smoke, and me to take some deep breaths and vigorously brush away some unexpected tears of embarrassment and frustration. Honestly, the class was really, really good, and I've learned a lot. It was simply the pressure of being surrounded by more accomplished cooks. It's one thing to make a jolly old mess in the privacy of one's kitchen; it's another to muck things up in front of others. As Darcy says to Elizabeth, and I said to Jen, "We neither of us perform to strangers." (Yes, Jane Austen comes in handy in life!)

The bit of air did wonders for my resolve. Plus, I'd completely forgotten the instruction that if one's dough is resisting handling, let it sit for a few minutes, after which it becomes much more cooperative. So I was able to rescue my mangled dough and forge ahead with my margherita pizza (tomatoes, salt, pepper, mozzarella, olive oil, then basil after baking). I gave Jen the other half of my dough, and she made a roasted pepper and feta pie. We saved the rest of our doughs for the freezer - the thick crust pizza actually seems much easier to make, because you don't have to roll it out, just press it around to fill your pan and then top it, etc.

By then, there were plenty of good smells wafting around the kitchen. We traded tips (receiving more than giving, of course), sampled other people's pizzas (Note to self: must remember to try making carmelized onion & crumbled bacon, maybe with feta, on thick crust) and drank scads of red and white wine, which had been uncorked in our absence. Yes, wine and music and the understanding company of good friends should do much to ease the pressure of cooking. Jen remarked that the best part of the evening was the elevator ride afterwards, where we shared an easy camaraderie with our classmates and ran into people who were getting out of theSouthern Cooking or Birthday Parties classes.

Ultimately, my evening was a good experience, and a fantastic birthday present. (Thanks again, Jen!) And a bruised ego is nothing next to making some really good pizza! Of course, Scott and I have yet to try my handiwork, but perhaps tonight.

Yours, &c., LC at 01:46 PM | Food | Comments (2)

That awful leaden feeling

You know what really sucks? Getting a call from your doctor telling you to come in for an exam so she can take tissue samples, then having to fret about it for 16 days until your actual appointment.

Please please please please please let it be nothing.

Yours, &c., LC at 02:56 PM | Slice o' Life | Comments (4)

June 10, 2003

Woo!

The day that two men or two women can kiss on national television and it doesn't make waves will be a good one. In the meantime, kudos to professional and life partners (of 25 years!) Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, who won the Tony for best score for Hairspray.

Yours, &c., LC at 12:16 PM | Film/TV | Comments (3)

*Yawn*

Stayed up late to work on my Thought Piece (short papers that I have to write for my current class). Just managed to mark up one of the articles I planned to cite. So I finished up today, during the train ride to work and lunch.

So I'm tired. But perhaps it's the right frame of mind for reading The dullest blog in the world.

Yours, &c., LC at 05:23 PM | Blogos , Linkage

June 12, 2003

Is it tea time yet?

Oh boy - NYT has a lovely article about clotted cream ("The Rich Source of Indulgence" - R.W. Apple Jr., Dining, 6/11/03). Apparently "scone" rhymes with "prawn," not "bone" according to author, and there are also differing approaches to topping one's scone - in Devon, it's cream first, then jam, as opposed to jam first, then the cream, which is how it's done in Cornwall.

Yours, &c., LC at 12:17 PM | Food

The Nature of Blogs

Dave Winer asks the question, What Makes a Weblog a Weblog? Winer is also responsible for working out an understanding with the New York Times - he's set up RSS feeds so that your links to articles remain intact and free of charge. This is just wonderful - so now, how do I retro-engineer my older posts that link to NYT articles? As a cautionary measure, I'm going to continue with my brief citations so that if this arrangement doesn't work out, articles can still be tracked down the old-fashioned way. Which would be, you know, going to the library.

Over at PC Magazine, John C. Dvorak makes some predictions about blogging.

Yours, &c., LC at 12:47 PM | Blogos | Comments (1)

June 13, 2003

Happy Birthday!

Today is Scott's birthday. He shares it with Yeats, David Gray, Dr. Hook, Malcolm McDowell, and MaryKateandAshley, among others. He was born the day the New York Times began publishing the Pentagon Papers, for which Scott's mother still admonishes him, since she didn't get to read them, being rather preoccupied with his arrival at the time.

Yours, &c., LC at 01:44 PM | Slice o' Life | Comments (4)

June 15, 2003

He Said, She Said

...Which brings to mind the legal fisticuffs between the beauty queen and the cad, involving the issues of free speech and privacy ("Internet Battle Raises Questions About Privacy and the First Amendment" - Adam Liptak, NYT, National, 6/2/03). According to the article, which has comments from several lawyers and legal scholars, "such orders prohibiting future publication or prior restraints are essentially unknown in American law." The judge's ruling seems problematic - the cad, Tucker Max, who at one point dated Katy Johnson (Miss Vermont, 1999, 2001), is forbidden to write about Johnson on his site. He can't use any part of her name, her full name, or the word "Vermont." He is prohibited from "disclosing any stories, facts or information, notwithstanding its truth, about any intimate or sexual acts engaged in by" Johnson, online or offline.

Also, he cannot link to her site - quite possibly one of the stupidest portions of the order. Again from the article:

"The prohibition on linking to Johnson's site is "kooky," said Susan Crawford, who teaches Internet law at Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University.

"To block the ability to link," Crawford said, "is in effect to say her site is her own private property."

Clinton Fein has a lengthy, fairly evenhanded article about the case, including a copy of the order and other links at the bottom of the page. Neither party comes off winningly. What a mess.

Yours, &c., LC at 01:18 PM | Blogos , Internet & Tech , Legal

June 16, 2003

Bloomsday

For those fans of Joyce's Ulysses, Happy Bloomsday! Diehards can attend a marathon reading tonight: Bloomsday on Broadway XXII.

However, yours truly shall spend this evening in the company of Our Dear Jane, courtesy of A.A. Milne. There's a benefit reading tonight of Miss Elizabeth Bennet, Milne's dramatization of Pride & Prejudice.

Yours, &c., LC at 12:41 PM | Jane , Writing & Language | Comments (1)

June 17, 2003

Four-Eyed, again!

My New Glasses
In the course of three lunch breaks, I got my eyes examined, checked out frames at six different shops, and picked out new glasses. I placed the order last Thursday, got a call yesterday that they were ready and swooped in on my fourth lunch break to pick them up. They're totally sassy, and I like them even better than the ones I lost on New Year's Eve.

The last time I got this excited about new glasses was in the fourth grade, when I had to get my first pair. And they were brown and ugly! My new ones have a tiny, shiny crystal embedded on the side of each arm of the frames. Most of the time they'll be hidden under my hair, so no one will know. But I know.

Yours, &c., LC at 03:40 PM | Slice o' Life | Comments (1)

June 18, 2003

Made the Cut

"The Open Directory Project is the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web. It is constructed and maintained by a vast, global community of volunteer editors."

So I was checking my stats for the umpteenth time, when I noticed a certain referral link. Yes, that's right, the Armoire has been cataloged! You too, Zeebah, if you didn't know already.

Yours, &c., LC at 04:14 PM | Blogos , Librariana | Comments (4)

June 19, 2003

Intriguing Dilemma

Kottke posted his thoughts on The Matrix Reloaded. At his last count, people have left 700 comments, mostly as a dialogue amongst themselves. He wonders, "Who owns the conversation on my website?"The activity does amount to significant use of his resources. The bandwidth usage for this entry alone is staggering; it's become its own entity. If people want to keep up the conversation, maybe setting up a message board or even a listserv might be a better solution. It's also important to keep the information accessible somewhere online, so if someone really feels like it, they can read the 700+ comments at some point without draining Jason's bandwidth. Anyway, I doubt this will ever be my problem.

Yours, &c., LC at 11:55 AM | Blogos , Film/TV

How do I blog thee? Let me count the ways.

Sure, blogging frequently, writing well, and generous linking are essential to getting an audience and boosting one's stats ("A Blogger's Big-Fish Fantasy" - Catherine Greenman, NYT, Circuits, 6/19/03). But Paul Frankenstein aptly notes that getting mentioned in the New York Times just might help too. Again, not happening to me. Bah! I don't care. *sniff*

Yours, &c., LC at 02:26 PM | Blogos | Comments (2)

June 20, 2003

Harry Potter and the Gift to New York

At 11 a.m. today, a signed copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will be presented to the New York Public Library. According to the press release, the book's inscription reads “To the People of New York With Love and Admiration from J.K. Rowling.”

So who gets to read this before the rest of the world does? (Notwithstanding the recently stolen copies) While I'd love to be part of the mania when bookstores start selling the book at midnight, I have to deal with writing essays for a final exam. After next Thursday I will be DONE.

"Science got me laid!"

I've posted before about Google trying to protect its trademark and prevent the dilution of its name from falling into everyday usage as a verb. The BBC reports on this as well: "Google calls in the 'language police.'" Interestingly, Google's trademark is still pending in Europe, so it's not really a violation for the moment "to google" over there.

The choice remark comes courtesy of Robbie Williams, pop star. (Disclosure: Ok, ok, I have his first two albums. He's got smart, slick pop and he's luscious! Sorry.) The full quotation:

...singer Robbie Williams says US women who initially reject his amorous advances often have a change of heart when they run his name through a search engine.

"I've since been told: 'That girl googled you because she knows who you are now.' So hurrah for googling!" says Williams. "Science got me laid."

I find it hard to believe Robbie has trouble with the ladies. Even I know he's originally from Take That, the superstar British boy band. Oh well. Glad that technology can help out the poor guy.

Yours, &c., LC at 10:27 AM | Internet & Tech , Music

Blatant Self-Promotion

You may have noticed some tweaking around here. I've created some cute buttons, courtesy of this really cool Button Maker.

I've also submitted the Armoire to Popdex, BlogWise and Blogsnob, other blog indices and promotional tools.

Hopefully when school is done maybe I can play with the main look of the template. Although at that point I'm supposed to get the apartment packed up. When will it ever end?

Yours, &c., LC at 02:33 PM | Blogos | Comments (1)

June 22, 2003

A tad Un-Phair

lizphair.jpg
Liz Phair releases a new album on Tuesday. She's going for pop stardom, given the new sexpot image she's sporting and the hook-laden songs on her record. The critical response so far ranges from average to downright harsh. A sampling:

Rolling Stone puts the nicest spin on the album, giving it 3 stars: "Phair is a fine lyricist, and although she's lost some musical identity, she's gained potential Top Forty access."

NY Times: "Liz Phair has suggested that her new album is a bid for center stage. Instead, she has committed an embarrassing form of career suicide." ("Liz Phair's Exile in Avril-ville" - Meghan O'Rourke, NYT, Arts & Leisure, 6/22/03)

A reviewer at AllMusic isn't so keen either: "Throughout the album, these sparkly banalities come fast and furious, sometimes interrupted by something a little deeper, sometimes sounding catchy enough to sound pleasant in passing if you overlook both the lyrics and the fact that they're written by Phair, who used to be one of the sharpest writers in rock."

"Career suicide?" Ouch. Working with the Matrix doesn't mean she's punk posette Avril Lavigne. That said, this isn't a transcendental breakthrough album. There are catchy guitar-driven pop, radio-friendly hooks that would make this a good summer roadtrip album - so far I'm liking "Extraordinary" and "Why Can't I?" Phair continues her propensity for throwing the f-word around, and there are some awkward tracks, like the one comparing a relationship to her favorite underwear ("Favorite") and the cheerily raunchy "H.W.C." But I guess if you loved her first recording, Exile in Guyville, this is probably not for you.

UPDATE: Additional critical surveys are noted in ms.musings, a blog for Ms. magazine.

Yours, &c., LC at 08:38 PM | Music | Comments (1)

Our Patron Saint?

Ralph Waldo Emerson, A God for Bloggers - an argument that proposes that bloggers are Essential Emersonians, contributors to the Universal Oversoul. Perhaps others would say we're making lots of noise, signifying nothing.

I don't aim to be a BlogStar, much as I'm getting the site entered onto various indices and webrings. The Armoire is just my little postage stamp of a homestead in cyberspace, my little bit of ivory that I work over and over. Sometimes I'm superficial, sometimes I'm weeping as I type. Sometimes I'm just thinking aloud, and letting you in on my rambling, still-evolving ideas about the world. If this space says something to you, I'm glad of it. Thank you for making me part of your world.

Yours, &c., LC at 09:11 PM | Blogos | Comments (1)

June 23, 2003

Stoppard Revival

Tom Stoppard's Jumpers is currently on the boards in London, and I hope it will come here at some point. Simon Russell Beale is in it! If the production comes to New York (and why shouldn't it?), I will fly up to see it, most definitely.

Yours, &c., LC at 09:54 AM | Arts | Comments (1)

Decided: United States v. American Library Association, 02-361

The Supreme Court has ruled 6-3 in favor of internet filters in libraries as a condition for federal funding ("Effort to Equip Libraries With Internet Filters Is Allowed" - NYT/AP, 6/23/03). The opinion was written by Rehnquist and joined by O'Connor, Scalia and Thomas. Kennedy and Breyer wrote separate opinions that allow filters so long as library users have the option for the filters to be disabled. Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg dissented.

In his dissent, Stevens writes, "...a statutory blunderbuss that mandates this vast amount of overblocking abridges the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.'' The filtering software better make it much easier for librarians to disable and re-enable the software, since they'll be running from behind the reference desk every time someone new sits down to use the computer.

I wonder, does the law require that all computers have filtering installed in order for a library to get federal funding? Or can computers be set aside (filtered/unfiltered) so people can choose which to use? As if most libraries are flush enough with money that they can even set aside computers for separate users.

Yours, &c., LC at 12:47 PM | Legal , Librariana | Comments (1)

June 25, 2003

The Road to Oceania

William Gibson has an op-ed in today's NY Times: "Writing in the shadow of Orwell, it seemed very strange to be alive in 1984. In retrospect, it has seemed stranger even than living in the 21st century."

Yours, &c., LC at 12:33 PM | Politics , Writing & Language

June 30, 2003

Oh dear

Liz Phair was none too happy with the NY Times review of her album, which I commented on earlier. She's written a whacked-out letter to the editor (6/29). (This is even more bizarre than Michiko Kakutani's recent review of the new Candace Bushnell novel, written in the voice of Elle Woods, the character from Legally Blonde to Janey Wilcox, the anti-heroine of Bushnell's novel.) Given the general media response to her album, I wonder if Liz is writing many such letters. Here's the full text:

Chicken Little's Tale
To the Editor:

Re "Liz Phair's Exile in Avril-ville" by Meghan O'Rourke [June 22]:

Once upon a time there was a writer named Chicken Little. Chicken Little worked very hard and took her job very seriously. Often, she even wrote. One day, just as Chicken Little was about to have an idea, she heard something falling on her roof. "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" she shrieked, spilling green tea and vodka all over her work station. This commotion awoke her three readers, who lived with her in her hut, and all three rushed outside to see what had happened to the sky. After enduring several anxious minutes alone, Chicken Little was relieved to see her readers return. "Oh, Chicken Little, it was just the trees dropping their buds on a beautiful spring day," they said. Chicken Little tried not to show her disappointment.

Not long after, as Chicken Little was poring over some back issues of other writers' material, she felt another idea about to form in her mind. "Truth . . . no . . . Lies . . . no . . . ummm . . . ummm . . . Conspiracy!" She was just about to write this down, when a great clattering and scraping began above her head. Clutching her PC to her breast, she swung her head wildly to and fro. "The sky is falling! This time, the sky is falling! The sky is falling!" She meant to alert her readers. She felt very responsible for them. They played outdoors, mostly, and had very open minds. The three readers rushed back into the hut, very concerned, and when they saw the look of dread on Chicken Little's sweet face and her finger pointing skyward, trembling, they immediately turned around and rushed back out to see what was the matter. For a few breathless moments, they could neither confirm nor deny, then they all saw the same thing at once. "Chicken Little," said the readers, "it's only two squirrels chasing each other in amorous conquest, skittering over the eave of our house." "It's quite funny, actually," added one of the readers, "you should come and see." But Chicken Little was annoyed. "I have work to do!" she fumed. "Besides, I wasn't speaking to you. I was performing a haiku," she fibbed, faxing something.

Well, time passed, and the readers grew, and so did Chicken Little, but not very much. The light inside the hut was dim, and she worked in a huddled position for long hours. She grew paranoid. She began to think she wasn't sure anymore. She began to fear she didn't know. Then, just as her resolve was nearly wiped away clean, she heard a sound that was not very loud. She cocked her head from side to side, her little neck pouch jiggling, and pecked at a few pebbles lying around her desk. Yes, the sound was definitely there. In fact, it was coming from all sides now, the sound of a million tiny things dropping on her roof. She peeked out her window and saw a million tiny things dropping from the sky. All her chicken senses gathered in supreme vindication. She opened her throat as wide as it would go and crowed, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling! By God, any moron can see the sky is falling!"

The peacefully sleeping readers were aroused, but did not pay attention anymore, so used to her hysteria were they by now that her crowing became one more familiar noise in the chattering nighttime forest.

"The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" Chicken Little screeched, terrified they would not heed her and would be found the next morning, buried among the intellectual debris. She pecked and pecked at them with her sharp little beak until they finally agreed to be awakened. The three readers rose up and shuffled outside to be greeted by a warm, summer rain falling steady as a heartbeat, wondrous and quiet as unexpected relief from pain. "Why, Chicken Little," said one reader, "it's only a summer shower come to feed the land. It feels great!" Chicken Little cowered in the corner as a fork of lightning licked the trees. "It's dangerous!" she cried, "you could slip on the wetness! You could catch a nasty cold! You could get electrocuted!" The three readers laughed, and went back out to experience the mystery of the storm, without thinking, without deconstructing, without checking what the other would do first. "Listen to me! Listen to me!" cried Chicken Little, as she watched their backs turn. The three readers stopped at the door and called out before leaving: "C'mon, Chicken Little. Hurry up, you're gonna miss it!"
LIZ PHAIR
Manhattan Beach, Calif.

Yours, &c., LC at 01:53 PM | Music | Comments (3)