Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I am considering moving this blog over to Wordpress. As it stands, I have the blog set up at this address: All my more tech-savvy pals swear that Wordpress is superior. However, I like the idea of coordinating everything through Google. We shall see...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Recent Events

I don't usually document events in this blog, but I figure an occasional 'this is what I've been up to lately' update would be appropriate.

I have emerged pleased and triumphant following the marvelous birthday trifecta of the pass two weeks. It began with Allen's 'Big Lebowski in Little China' themed birthday party. Lil' bit Levine was an excellent co-hostess to the event, also celebrating the birthday of James Galloway (responsible for half the faux-Norris sightings around the world). The evening was complete with old bathrobes, Chinese lanterns, White Russians, and many fabulous friends. Many thanks to Morgan Holleman and Tony Ledesma of Boheme for contributing to making the evening a

Shortly on the heels of Allen's birthday came my big brother's 40th. We enjoyed wine and cake at the Corkscrew in his honor... and both my father and great Uncle Charlie came out to celebrate. The only snafu was the cake- Robert had told mother he liked German chocolate cake. Unfortunately, he didn't quite know what German chocolate cake was. My outrageously selfless act of ordering a cake for my brother that I would not touch (due to my aversion to coconut) was completely in vain- since Robert can't stand coconut either. Alas, you win some and you lose some. Otherwise, a good time was had by all...

Lastly, my dear friend Cynthia had a birthday this last weekend. We started out the evening right with balloons, confetti, margaritas, and Mexican food at Las Alamedas... then swooped over to the Black Swan at the Omni Hotel for drinks and dancing. Adorned with a pink birthday crown and sunglasses, Cynthia was positively glowing all evening.

Aside from birthday party planning, I've been on the mend... the crud that's been going around finally got a hold of me. However, I am pleased to say I am on the up and up.

The last pertinent update is that I am in the home stretch of rehearsals for the upcoming Tamarie Cooper Show, care of Catastrophic Theatre, at Stages Theatre. The show features the hilarious and fabulous Tamarie Cooper and is a complete blast. I play everything from a screaming baby to a Busby Berkley girl. We added the band (which is wonderful) last night, and we open up next weekend. Definitely worth seeing!

(And while I'm on that note, I am inserting a shamless plug for my own theatre company's current escapade: The War of the Roses. Imagine the cycle of eight Shakespeare history plays presented at together, through the lens of 8 different directors. A daring experiment in theatre... come see. )

That has been the bulk of what has occupied my spare time recently. Onwards...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Pet Peeve #23

I don't oftentimes air the trivial, everyday annoyances that get under my skin. Time wasted on negativity is time wasted indeed. However, I will go ahead and air a few of my grievances on this blog, because...well, because I can.

I will start with the arbitrary number 23. Surely, there are at least 22 other things that have annoyed me up to this point. No need to dwell in the past... so, onwards to #23.

#23 Evite Followup

Evite is a convenient little website that allows one to create an invitation to be disseminated to numerous people at once, replacing the old-fashioned, time-consuming practice of writing or engraving individual invitations to be mailed. Not only do you not have to waste money on postage or rely on the postal service, but the recipient need not mail back a reply card or keep track of a tricky little off-sized invitation. Everything is handled with ease, with all pertinent information stored on a website that may be referenced countless times. Trees saved. Time saved. Everyone is happy.


I want to say, "Check the damn Evite, you numskull!"

*I make exceptions for a few people in extenuating circumstances. These are:

1. You don't own a computer or have email access. Ever. The fact that you nevertheless have an email address is purely inconsequential.
2. You have recently had a lobotomy and can't remember your Evite log in info.
3. You have a bad case of amnesia due to some terrible fall you suffered as a child and have found yourself stuck in a remote place (perhaps a desert island) where you are unable to check the evite the day of the event.
4. You are an avid disciple of Amy Vanderbilt or Emily Post and Evites are against your religion, as well as any other signs of social and technological progress or gender equality.

Corollary #1: Directions to Events

If you are already online, why not look it up? Why are you asking me 5 minutes beforehand? Why are you asking 5 minutes before, for instance, a play... a play that I am IN... a play in which, 5 minutes beforehand, I am probably in costume. BACKSTAGE! Does a text asking me for directions really seem appropriate at that point? And if you own any kind of portable online device, why are you asking ME? Isn't the point of those little contraptions that you won't have to bug your friends with questions like that? If you don't make full use of that handy little gadget, why don't you just be so kind as to give it to ME? :)

There. I have spoken.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Blog-eat-blog World

HappyKatie (local blog goddess, social media fly, and mom extraodinaire, among other things) posted a blog that caught my eye today:

I agree with the notion that blogs serve as a record of one's existence. It reminds me of a guilty pleasure of mine: the 'Shall We Dance' remake with J-Lo. (Yeah, so I know the original Japanese version is better- I don't care. A fake-tanned, wig-donning Stanley Tucci makes me a happy girl.) In the movie, Susan Sarandon says something that has always resonated with me:

"We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go
un-witnessed because I will be your witness.'"

Isn't that true? To take it one step further, we are constantly grasping for significance in our multi-tasked, célèbre-obsessed, stimuli-overloaded lives. Why thumb through the recent issue of People in the grocery store line to read about the fairly predictable lives of Britney or Paris, when we know our own lives are just as, if not more fascinating? (...and our stories far more interesting.) A spouse is not necessarily enough for us- we want our COMMUNITY to witness our lives. We quietly and 'surreptitiously' seek electronic validation- but in plain view of the public. And every blog-reader does his or her part to acknowledge and validate our existence- the amusing, as well as the mundane. Thus, blogs are the great equalizer.

Besides, I'd rather read about a friend's insight on local happenings or thoughts on Lebanon because, with acquaintance, comes an appreciation for context. And with our increasingly pluralistic perspectives, everything is relative. So, whether it be a healthy catharsis or mere exhibitionism, I'm a convert.

Monday, April 21, 2008


I have an ongoing joke with a friend of mine in which, during our email banter, we challenge each other to come up with the most ridiculous terms of endearment for the other. I don't really know how this got started, but when he would address our emails to "sugar lips" or "love-muffin," I couldn't resist. Even though I know it's a silly joke, it never ceases to put a smile on my face. It reminds me of this article I once read by Garrison Keillor- which he referenced when he recently appeared with the Progressive Forum (where I met him).

I finally have the maturity to appreciate the charms of the good ol' South- it only took me the greater part of three decades to do so. People sometimes observe that I don't sound like I'm from Texas, but I used to receive that comment all the time. Less so now. Why? Because I no longer strain to neutralize my Southern accent- I've even grown to kind of like the drawl that occasionally slips into my speech. More than that, I like how I feel when I call someone "sweetie" or "darlin" or "sugar." And I like meaning it when I do.

PS: Even those voting for Obama or Hillary might call you "precious."

Terms of endearment

Why do Southern folks elect regressive, warmongering politicians but still call you "sunshine" when they serve your coffee?
By Garrison Keillor

Oct. 18, 2006 I was misunderstood growing up and have often been misunderstood since, but then so is everyone else. People are busy, and you can't expect them to drop everything and try to understand you. If you want to be understood, practice kindness and mercy. Kindness is seldom mistaken for anything else. Small kindnesses reverberate a long time in people's hearts.
A woman checking I.D.s at the airport saw me coming the other day and said, "Good morning, sunshine." She didn't know me from Adam. She glanced at my driver's license and said, "Have a good flight, darling." This was in the South, of course -- in Austin, Texas, to be exact. Northern women would no sooner address a strange man as "sunshine" than they would ask if you wanted to see their underwear. But that woman's "sunshine" shone on me for the rest of the day, and a week later I still remember it. Like I remember old waitresses in diners who addressed everyone as "love." "Care for more coffee, love?" Yes, dear. And you left a quarter tip instead of a dime. Fifteen cents for a little endearment.

On the flight from Austin, I sat next to a black woman my age from Alabama who was in a chatty mood. I said, "You've seen a lot of history in Alabama." She said, "And it isn't over yet." We got to talking about Dr. King and his family, and she blurted out, "I just cannot forgive those children of his for never giving their mother a grandbaby. Four healthy children. I don't know their sexual orientation, but you would think that one of them could've produced one baby for Mrs. King to hold. She died without ever getting those babies to hold in her arms. Do you have grandbabies?" I said I have two. "I've got two," she said, "and every time I look at them, that's me. They're the continuation of me." She patted my hand. "I am going to pray for your grandchildren. Tell me their names." So I did. When the plane pulled up to the gate in Chicago, she touched my knee and said, "It was good talking with you, darling."

Up here in the north, a man wouldn't touch a stranger on the knee or address her as "darling," lest he be reported to the Attitude Police, but once in Nashville, Tenn., a lady said to me, "Sweeten up to me now," meaning "Give me a squeeze," so I did, of course. She smelled of lavender and talcum and lemons. Everyone craves a little sweetening now and then, but in Minnesota we don't squeeze easily or address each other as "darling."
I went to a big dinner of diehard liberals in Texas and was darlinged left and right and sweetied and even occasionally precioused, but if you were among Democrats in Minnesota, you might think you were at a meeting of Mormon actuaries. We offer a cold handshake and a thin smile, and that's all you get from us. We are wary of the big grin and the shoulder squeeze, the trademarks of the con man, and we resist being drawn into friendly banter with strangers for fear we'll end up with a truckload of aluminum siding or a set of encyclopedias.
We're burdened by the need to be cool. When I was in college, I read Kafka and Camus and tried to write like them, in flat, non-American English, as if writing under the influence of a migraine, until it slowly dawned on me that I was missing the basic experiences that had formed them. Enduring high school is not the same as growing up Jewish in Prague or fighting in the French resistance. I had no solid basis for being cool in that existential motorcycle James Dean absurdist chain-smoking hero sort of way, so I gave up being cool and settled for being pleasant. And now I see teenagers locked up in iPods, looking sour and sleepy and hostile, and I hate to see them reliving that part of my life.

If we can't talk to strangers, if there is no public life in America, then it's no wonder politics is so out of whack. And yet in the South, which has produced the most regressive politicians this side of Sudan, who are proud of bad government and lousy wars, in which a disproportionate number of young Southern men die, you keep running into the friendliest people on earth. Explain that to me, sunshine. Sweeten up here and tell me why these good people keep electing those dreadful idiots.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --
(Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Houston Press Review: Loving 'Love Loves a Pornographer'

Thanks, DL!!!

Loving Love Loves a Pornographer
Nova Arts Project surprises with a wicked Victorian comedy-of-manners parody

By D.L. Groover
Published: April 17, 2008

Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex
2201 Preston, 713-623-4033

Through April 26. $15-$30.

It takes a few minutes to become acclimated to Nova Arts Project's immaculate staging of Love Loves a Pornographer, Jeff Goode's wicked parody of a late Victorian comedy of manners. This isn't because the satire is odd and edgy — it's downright classical, if truth be told — but because we don't expect something quite like this from the avant-garde troupe, certainly not after its surreal tempOdyssey, wacky, CSI: Denmark-inspired Hamlet or crazy-quilt Oedipus3. Goode's beguiling sex comedy begins with an obsequious butler, a fine old English country house and fine English landed gentry, who seem to have crash-landed from an unknown play by Pinero, Shaw and, most assuredly, Wilde. Epigrams, waistcoats, dueling pistols — this is not typical Nova territory. But once we shake our head clear of expectations, allow the radiant cast to work its definite magic and relax into Goode's extremely funny play, we're bathed in first-class entertainment all the way. Love is the cleverest play on either side of the bayou this month.

A prolific playwright, Goode has unbridled humor, an ink-blot view of the world and an absolute love of words — qualities that serve him perfectly in Love, his loving, anachronistic tribute to, and parody of, Oscar Wilde. It's difficult to spoof Wilde, since his arch style pricked his own society and class. Of course, Wilde's shallowness and pretense hid great depth, but he wasn't about to say so. Goode takes Wilde's basic tenets — superficial characters, witty dialogue, mistaken/misplaced identities, sublimated sex, tony language – and flicks them with his own brand of body English. Love never falters or loses momentum, it just moves faster and more furiously, making the plot funnier as it becomes more convoluted and improbable. This is a neat trick for any writer, and Goode pulls it off brilliantly. Wilde is definitely smiling.

Love is no slavish imitator, though, and pulls some neat tricks all its own. Fennimore, the Butler, sits offstage at a table loaded with props and reads a newspaper when not "on." Daughter Emily wears proper Victorian garb, yet sports sneakers and striped socks. Earl, Emily's American fiancé, wears 21st-century casual. A child's crayon drawing is talked about as if it were a Gainsborough, and Fennimore uses a TV clicker to announce the act titles. These delectable postmodern deconstructions cheekily add to the fun. The play almost pops in 3-D.

Any detailed description threatens to deflate this finely crafted confection by revealing its numerous twists and surprises, but here are some basics — believe it or not, they're interconnected. Lord Cyril Loveworthy (Seán Patrick Judge) supplements his income by writing pornography under a pseudonym. His nemesis, Reverend Miles Monger (Timothy Evers), the influential literary critic of the Times of London and a sanctimonious prig, might be on intimate terms with Lady Lillian, Cyril's wife (Jenni Rebecca Stephenson). Out of jealousy, might Cyril be dallying with Millicent, Monger's lovely but frustrated wife (Melissa Davis)? Daughter Emily (Katrina Ellsworth) has returned from travels in America not with a genuine earl, as was expected, but with Earl (Bobby Haworth), a questionable mountain man who sells unsavory literature in Flagstaff, Arizona. Mrs. Monger may have committed suicide in the garden, but the guests spend time arguing over who has the proper social standing to investigate. Fennimore (Wayne Barnhill) is chastised for swooning when he should leave that to his betters.

Of course, in plays like this, no one is ever who they seem, and reversals and surprises are a matter of course. Goode keeps us guessing — and listening. Timed to perfection, the words, barbed and dangerous, or flighty and shallow as the clueless characters spouting them, swirl like clouds. Love is intricately structured to allow the witty Wilde-like throwaways their deserved position front and center, such as Lady Lillian's wonderful "No married woman should be left alone with a firearm. The temptation is simply too great." Or Monger's: "Money should never be earned, when it can be inherited."

Under Rob Kimbro's faceted direction, the cast of seven is a dream. Judge is particularly effective in relaying Lord Loveworthy's commanding tone and haughty sense of entitlement. But it is Evers, as the smug Monger, who steals the show with his marvelously twitchy performance. Encased in costumer Kiza Moore's straitlaced greatcoat, with hair combed straight down, glasses nailed to the very tip of his nose, and those long bony fingers constantly on the prowl over his watch chain, he's a George Cruikshank illustration come to life. Self-righteous and proud of it, his dirty little secret drives the play, and Evers takes the wheel with glee.

Amazingly smart and very funny, Love Loves a Pornographer has class, style and wit. The comedy, whose world premiere was only five months ago, proves that new, fresh theater doesn't have to be dumbed down to work like gangbusters. It just has to be good — or better, Goode.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Houston Chronicle review for 'Love Loves a Pornographer'

Ingenious wordplay drives Pornographer

Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

Sometimes you can pinpoint the exact moment when a play irrevocably pulls you into its corner.

With Jeff Goode's Love Loves a Pornographer, getting a nifty Houston premiere courtesy of Nova Arts Project, it's this inspired bit of verbal lunacy:

"Your latest creation elicits illicit elations."

Goode's playful homage to drawing room comedy has already rhapsodized about "savage enravagements" and tossed off wry epigrams such as "A man should take pride in his livelihood, however shameful." Not to mention the priggish antagonist who, described as "rakish," defends himself with this choice retort: "In my entire life, I have never been rakish with so much as a leaf-strewn lawn."

Yet for me, it was that "illicit elations" line that put the play over the top. Despite a few lulls here and there and a sense of winding down near the close, Pornographer can be recommended for the sheer merriment of its ingenious wordplay and the fun this cast generates delivering it. It's the heightened language that's supposed to sound like stage talk, not everyday talk.

Premiered in December by Los Angeles' Circle X Theatre Company, Pornographer starts out as a tribute to, or spoof of, Victorian drawing room comedy as epitomized by Oscar Wilde. Yet midway, it acquires a more modernist bent — as if a play by John Guare or Christopher Durang or Paul Rudnick had wandered in and mingled with the earlier model.

Famed novelist Lord Cyril Loveworthy and his wife, Lady Lillian, entertain the Rev. Miles Monger, who also happens to be the Times of London's lead literary critic, and his wife, Millicent. Lord Loveworthy, whose writing is respected but not sufficiently lucrative, tries to blackmail Rev. Monger into a favorable review of his next book. Lord Loveworthy needs the boost so that he can finance the wedding of his daughter, Emily.

Emily arrives with the man she plans to marry — not "an earl" as her parents had misunderstood, but Earl, a scruffy bookseller Emily met in Flagstaff, Arizona. While the other characters are steadfastly British and Victorian in speech and attire, Earl is thoroughly contemporary and American. Before long, other anachronisms creep into the scene. One character leafs through an issue of Vanity Fair. Another sips not from a teacup but a can of soft drink.

The thunderbolt is the revelation that Earl's bookstore specializes in erotica. "Earl is a pornographer" Emily announces, the punchline just before intermission (at which the butler faints dead away.) The second half is (as the butler announces) "a series of shocking revelations." All pertain to which of the other characters are secret readers of the star author whose work Earl sells, or have secretly written those books, or even secretly inspired the whole series through real-life experiences recounted in a diary.

Was every Victorian a secret hedonist? As one character observes, "You make this licentiousness sound almost medicinal."

An exercise in theatrical style, Pornographer marks a change of pace for the young Nova Arts group. Director Rob Kimbro generally keeps things crisp, brisk and light of touch. Apart from a few hesitant moments (and remember, many of these lines are a mouthful), this team gives the play a capable rendition.

Sean Patrick Judge makes Lord Loveworthy sly, condescending and morally slippery. Given many of the script's most potentially tongue-tangling lines, he handles them with authority. Timothy Evers makes an amusing foil as the stuffy, stodgy Miles Monger — prim, prudish and sourly disapproving.s

Jenni Rebecca Stephenson brings haughty confidence to Lady Loveworthy. Melissa N. Davis' Millicent Monger is particularly appealing, indefatigably cheery with an unabashedly saucy streak.

Bobby Haworth's laid-back Earl Kant seems to have wandered in from another play, continent and century, which is exactly the point. Katrina Ellsworth shows daughter Emily's increasing iconclasm and rebelliousness.

As the butler, Wayne Barnhill, formerly of Infernal Bridegroom, has a droll way of being unflappably obliging to his "betters" yet at the same time mocking them.

You might say that while Love Loves a Pornographer is not quite Wilde, it's certainly very Goode.

• When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, through April 26
• Where: Nova Arts Project, at Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex, 2201 Preston

• Tickets: $15-$30; 713-623-4033

Friday, April 4, 2008

Must Love Library Cards

So, I posted a link on Facebook that started an amusing exchange...


Essay About Love and Literary Taste - New York Times
(Among the bookish, even casual literary references can turn into romantic deal breakers.)


Linda at 2:31pm Mar 30
i JUST read this article this morning and thought it was wonderful. yes yes, so true. :)

Jenni at 2:38pm Mar 30
when i meet attractive, funny men, i secretly cross my fingers, hoping they don't list dan brown and james patterson among their favorite authors... ;)

Linda at 2:42pm Mar 30
HA! i love it! i just usually hope not to get an empty stare when i mention Isabelle Allende or Pablo Neruda...

Jenni at 2:46pm Mar 30
neruda is fair... but i would be a little lenient with allende. unless, of course, said date is from peru.

Linda at 3:04pm Mar 30
true, however Allende does tend to get more of a response then Neruda... go figure! maybe i just don't date enough South Americans. hmmm...

Natalie at 5:55pm Mar 30
You were among the people I thought about when I stumbled upon this little gem. There are the obvious red flags--personally, I think Left Behind tops the Da Vinci Code on that front--and then there are high-brow red flags. Like Ulysses. The only reason to read that in public is to be seen.

Victoria at 2:28pm Mar 31
Absolutely true! Thank you for sharing :)I am just thankful when someone has hear of Pushkin. Forget about reading anything by him. Surprisingly enough, many people have never heard of the great poet.

Colby at 10:48pm Apr 1
I hate to be the contrarian here, but there is, in my opinion, a bit of hypocrisy in writing off someone as shallow, incompatible, or undeserving solely on the book they are carrying around or list as their favorite. So some guy reads Da Vinci Code, Ulysses, or any other book you deem to be pablum, does that truly identify him? Are you not engaging in a hasty generalization? Or even the obvious question: how does your taste become a red flag, why are you able to determine that Pushkin knowledge is a good thing, or more importantly good art? Basically, what I am saying is that some of us didn't have the opportunities to read what you, or the rest of the world, consider necessarily or important to have read. From a Rawlsian perspective I would have you consider what if I rated your appeal based on your philosophical readings or lack thereof--that would seem a bit unfair would it not? And don't worry if you don't know who Rawls was, I won't hold it against you. ; )

David at 11:16pm Apr 3
this guy wants to sleep with one of the three women above.

Colby at 12:34am Apr 4
C'mon Dave I have heard better ad hominem from the kids over at Digg. But seriously, I hate it when yet another qualification is prescribed for men, to which we must contort ourselves. I have no doubt that if Brad Pitt read only Choose Your Own Adventure books, swearing that they were the best literature since Cervantes--even though Alan Bloom himself would recoil--that Rachel Donadio wouldn't be turning him away. That is all I wanted to point out. But if you would care to retort with more of your engaging repartee then be my guest.

Jenni at 2:37am Apr 4
haha- play nice, boys.

ok- now, colby, be fair- dave's comment is funnny. AND a logical retort to your comment.

i also think it's fair that you point out the injustice in dismissing a date if he hasn't read the right book. as a girl who has dated the musician who liked the 'right' composer, the writer who liked the 'right' author, the actor who liked the 'right' playwright, i will agree that none of these things serve as a consistent and reliable indicator of compatibility. i will also posit that dating artists is perhaps the first step towards misguided... i digress.

i would never count it against someone, friend or date, if they didn't, for example, have an affinity for faulkner. i've recommended 'the sound and the fury' to many who haven't made it past the fourth page. however, there is some merit in a comparison of tastes. if a guy lists 'dumb and dumber' and 'van wilder' among his favorite movies of all time- and then, claims john grisham as the second coming- it's quite likely that we operate on different wavelengths. not a value judgement- just divergent sensibilities. (if, on the other hand, he likes 'harold and kumar' and anne rice- we might be workable.) hell- i love 'joe versus the volcano' and read the whole series of star trek TNG books... would you suggest for a second that it wouldn't be a deal-breaker to some?

and regarding all the notable fiction valued by us women- we KNOW that the average joe is recommended some of the best books (excepting machiavelli and vonnegut) by the women in his life. (i am exaggerating, but is this so wrong?) for instance, just the other day, i spotted 'snow falling on cedars' on the bookshelf of one of my favorite guy friends. did he pick that book up of his own volition? doubtful. was it recommended to him by some cute girl? probably. OR his sister. i am OK with this.

then, there are those guys who read the NYer for fun. they are a breed in and of themselves. the self-identified intelligentsia. (i know this, b/c i subscribed for a year so that i could feel smarter and impress at cocktail parties with my academic soundbytes- only to become frustrated that i could never make it through an issue before the next one arrived.) the ones who DO indeed make it through every issue either teach for a living, are wealthy hypochondriacs (thus spending an inordinate amount of time in high-brow doctors' offices), never get laid, or are the type to hitchhike across the country desperately posing for the freedom and seeming effortlessness of kerouac. and believe me, i ain't knocking- i raise my glass to you, mr. chain-smoking-beret-wearing-beat-cum-emo-man! (they make good fantasies, since they are generally passionate and at the mercy of any woman who can pay for their pearl beer.)

and you're right- rachel donadio and harold bloom deserve kudos. they are both exceedingly brilliant and well-read and have managed to function in real life. procreate even. yay for them! you already know my stance on this, colby- must i remind you? we need more supermodels and PHDs to spawn- let's even out this gene pool once and for all!

where am i going with this, you might ask? i don't even know.

all i know is that i think it's kinda hot when a guy wants to recite poetry to me...IF it's good. IF it's his- even better. (IF it's good, that is.) IF it's bad, it makes me want to slap him. and not in a good way. cliched? absolutely! but kind of like large-breasted blondes in bikinis...

if said guy looks like eric bana with glasses, he could be reciting dr. seuss or shel silverstein and it would STILL be kinda hot. (Horton Hears a Who's your daddy?!)

and are you trying to dismiss 'choose your own adventure' books?! they were the bedrock of my elementary literary escapades! i only started denouncing 'baysitter's club' and 'sweet valley high' as pedestrian when i reached middle school and got in trouble with miles for tossing those books out the 2nd floor classroom window. (100% true story. the teacher couldn't bring herself to give us detention, since i think she found the whole affair pretty amusing.)

i leave on this note: i do not consider myself well-read. i only know what i like. i do not judge on the basis of exposure or lack thereof- nor do i damn anyone for an appreciation of a little drivel now and again. open-mindedness and a willingness to expand one's literary horizons is, however, a plus. my bookshelf is respectable, but not impressive by any means. still, if given the choice, i take dave eggers over james patterson. (if he were a few inches taller and unmarried, it'd be even better.)

...and if anyone takes this seriously, they should review the literary genre of satire.

gute nacht!

-jenni "lady love" rebecca

(figured i'd throw in a little rawlsian of my own)

and a quote to grow on:

"Just because the f*cker's got a library card doesn't make him Yoda!"
-Brad Pitt in Se7en

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cold Mountain

I just recently caught the movie Cold Mountain again on television and was struck by the beauty and haunting quality of some of the music. I had bought the soundtrack a couple years ago, but as it has such a distinctive flavor, I don't listen to it very often.

The soundtrack is simply incredible- including a compilation of new compositions and old folk songs as recorded by popular artists like Jack White and Alison Krauss. One of the standout songs on the CD is "You will be my ain true love," as sung by Krauss. Upon listening to it, I heard Sting's voice faintly singing backup harmony... and as it turns out, Sting wrote it.

The added bonus is that Gabriel Yared (City of Angels, The English Patient) has written all the incidental scoring- which is gorgeous. I highly suggest you take a listen...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Fidel Fido Diet

I have recently considered the possibility that my dog, Fidel, is not in fact a dog, but rather, a pig. He eats everything- compulsively and without consideration. So, I have decided to create a list of things (of which I am aware) that Fidel has ingested. Instead of the well-known "Stuff on my Cat," I shall entitle it "Stuff IN my Dog."

Stuff IN my Dog:

1. Dog food- This is fairly obvious.
2. Dog treats- Another obvious one.
3. Whole pecans- No, not the actual nut- the whole damn shell and all.
4. The knobs off my cabinet- This is a fairly new development.
5. Trash- Yes, the compost my Depression-era neighbor throws out her kitchen window, much to my chagrin. (Steak bones and all.)
6. Toilet paper- Evidenced by paper shreds strewn around my apartment.
7. Frosty paws- I admit I'm a sucker. Why not have ice cream for dogs?
8. My Anthropologie shirt- Fidel did indeed eat part of my $115 mesh shirt from Anthropologie.
9. Grass- Not entirely abnormal.
10. Pantyhose- Fidel apparently has a thing for nylon.
11. Everything off my kitchen floor- Who needs a vacuum when you have Fidel?
12. My vitamins- I wasn't quick enough in picking up one I dropped.
13. Toy squirrel- And all its stuffing.
14. Rat poison- The reason I spent this last Christmas Eve in a vet emergency clinic.
15. A whole pack of Orbit gum- This is bad. Sugarless gum contains an ingredient that can kill dogs even in small doses. Fortunately, with his cast-iron stomach, Fidel was entirely unaffected.
16. Any food I leave on my coffee table for even a second- I once brought home one of my favorite sandwiches from Whole Foods (Turkey with brie and raspberry jam on Seeduction bread). I left it on my table for approximately one minute while I grabbed a drink in the kitchen. In one minute only, it disappeared. Completely.

To be continued...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Eulogy for my Poet

"We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan. "
-Irving Townsend

Faulkner came into my life four years ago and has been ripped out of it all too soon. In the spring of 2004, we travelled to Madisonville to collect Fidel, a five week old Manchester Terrier we had planned to adopt. While waiting for paperwork and vaccines to be completed, little Faulkner (3 months old at the time) courted me with the vigilance of a Shakespearean hero- a pleading look, a rub against my legs, a kiss on the hand. It took all of ten minutes for me to fall in love with him, and it became inevitable that we would be taking two dogs home with us that day- baby Fidel and my poet, Faulkner. He was so handsome and so sensitive- and though I realize it is in our nature to anthropomorphize our pets, I have never known a more empathic creature than my dear Faulkner.

The breeder intimated that Faulkner had been rescued from a potentially abusive situation. Quick to cower and nervous about new people, this was not difficult to believe. His innocent anxiety and eagerness to please tugged on my heartstrings, and I vowed to do absolutely everything I could to make him feel all the love I could manage. Doting on him day and night, I was oftentimes accused of favoritism- an unfair accusation, since my behavior was in response to a need I saw in him. And eventually, Faulkner grew more confident and comfortable in his world.

At the dog park, Faulkner would choose the biggest and boldest dogs as his playmates. Proud and newly confident, he equated himself with the likes of German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers- dogs two, three, and four times his size. He was mischievous. Not particularly interested in playing fetch, he did, however, love the game of taking balls and toys away from Fidel... and he was good at it, being faster and more lithe. Faulkner also taunted his companion by commanding the prime lap space- even when it meant displacing an already settled Fidel. It was standard practice for Fidel's growls to be met with a casual and disinterested glance from Faulkner. Knowing how to endear himself, it was most important to him that he be close to me.

Yet, Faulkner shined most when allowed to run free. I would take him to the wilderness trails at Memorial Park and with no present threat, would let him off the leash to enjoy the woods. He was like a graceful gazelle... sleek, elegant, and effortless. Watching him fly through the trees was perhaps one of the simple pleasures that brought me the most joy in my life. He was leaping with that same natural grace when he fatefully crossed the street in front of a car right before my eyes a few days ago. I suppose it is some comfort that his last moments were spent running free, as he loved so much- his final act of good-natured rebellion and mischief.

As any dog-owner would, I adored darling Faulkner. Yet, I may humor myself to think that I may have been more attached to him than usual. Having weathered a difficult time two years ago, my two dogs were my anchor. They were the family I saw everyday- a constant source of unconditional, unadulterated love and affection. Quick to console with kisses, they helped me through one of the most tumultuous periods of my life. No day meant defeat when I could finally lie in bed as Faulkner wriggled under the covers, sidling up next to me. Cunning and hyper-intelligent for a dog, I have no doubt this registered at least in some small way with him- he was special that way. Faulkner always seemed especially attuned to my emotions... and he stood faithfully at my side until the storm was over- lovingly repaying my initial kindness with kindness of his own.

On the very day I lost him, I spent the morning rejoicing him. With him curled up on my unmade bed, I held him tight and thanked God for bringing him into my life. At that moment, he was like a reluctant little boy, squirming in his mother's embrace- but I know he loved all the attention, for he would come begging for it in its absence. I will forever cherish the memory of that wonderful morning when I could show him, one last time, how much I loved him

Faulkner, you were an extraordinary animal and a dear friend to me- the best kind. Loyal, loving, and sensitive to a fault, I count myself so blessed to have had the great fortune of caring for you these past four years. Your life was a precious gift to me, and your death shall not be in vain. My darling puppy, you have taught me such an important lesson. Both with your sprightly gait and through your untimely death, you have taught me that life is magnificent, yet so fleeting and precious. I find myself surrounded by so many friends and loved ones, so many bountiful gifts, and so much beauty in my life- I promise you I will do my best to appreciate it all and to remind those loved ones of my gratitude with every breath. And with every breath, my dear Faulkner, I will carry a part of you with me.


February 4, 2004 - February 26, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

the cyndi/jenni chronicles

she and i amuse ourselves with email banter...

exchange 1:

From: Jenni
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2007
To: Cynthia
RE: Is Facebook the new

no, seriously. the good ones are all unavailable. i'm not kidding here. either emotionally...or physically (as in, they live in different time zones...or perhaps they hide in jungles)...or legally.

i'm wondering when other women will start to realize this. the answer? a total upheaval of our preconceived notions of love and relationships. we women should stop accepting advances and proposals and such...just long enough until there is an established population of easily identifiable single men. then, we herd them, corrall them, drug them, and subject them to tom hanks/meg ryan movies...just long enough until they understand what it is we want. then, we beat them into submission. and make them like it. then, we pick and choose as we please...maybe some sort of rental policy. except...not like an old blockbuster type rental...more of a netflix rental. as in, we can send them back when we're tired of them without penalty of late fees. but perhaps with the candy, popcorn, and cold drink option. :)

Her response:

A) Legally unavailable? Are you going after 12 year olds now? I suppose if you can't find a good man, raise one.

2) Interesting system you propose. Is there, at any time, an option to buy?

Banana) I wonder what kind of a comparable system guys would propose, if given the opportunity. I think it would be remarkably similar, only replace the tom hanks/meg ryan movies with adult films.

exchange 2:

From: Jenni
Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2007
To: Cynthia
Subject: who's tim

her response:

Ah, you clearly have better things to do with your life than watch reality shows on Bravo. Tim Gunn is the mentor on Project Runway (he's also the dean or something of Parson's school for design). He's the most fabulously well dressed older gay man ever. He says things like "carry on" and "sturm und drang."

my response:

i'm over older gay men. even of the fabulously dressed variety. in fact, i'm over gay men in general. you do realize that i work with one straight man in an office of approximately 40? one. and he's the CEO. i'd even question his orientation if he didn't wear big belt buckles and drink shiner out of the bottle. i work in musical theatre for godssake! (jazz hands!) it couldn't get any queenier around here if elizabeth I walked in the damn door.

on the other hand, i AM indeed impressed with anyone who can throw around terms referring to late 18th-century german expressionist movements. and thanks to my music schooling, i didn't even have to wiki that. ;)

her response:

Oh, Jenni Rebecca. You are so educated and clever. ;)

I (only kinda) feel your pain. I was looking around the cafeteria today thinking about what NASA engineers are (incredibly intelligent, generally nice) and what they are not (attractive, socially adept, well dressed). I am wasting my youth on men who actually want me for my mind. How depressing.

my response:

clever? oh pish. thou doth possesseth a keen wit thrice the magnitude of mine own.

to be wanted for one's mind is nothing to sneeze's a comfort when we start to sag in all the wrong places.

regarding NASA men, the fact that they are unattractive and can't dress should be secondary to the fact they can never be fired and probably have decent pension plans. find one with particularly thick bottle-cap glasses...perhaps one getting on in years...and who knows what you can get away with! you see, all of the above never stopped the NASA geeks from walking into the jewelry store at baybrook with astoundingly beautiful russian brides on their arms. i never once questioned the harmony of the universe when i could witness the sweet balancing forces of nature in action. and to take it one step further, these NASA men and their rusky counterparts are doing our dear world a favor. we mustn't get carried away with sharp intellect or a great pair of legs---no! we must do our part to even the playing field for the human race. no more is it necessary for the blind, pocket-protector-donning egg-head doomed to walk this lonely earth alone...or with the adult equivalent of the little girl in lil' miss sunshine. (mind you, i am not poking fun at that little girl---i looked just like her at 8 years old.) no! instead they have their pick of gorgeous, though intellectually confounded women to assist them in upping the ante for the gene pool. we owe them all our deepest gratitude. yay for mail order brides! if only we could manufacture the mail equivalent.

her response:

Ya know, I see your point regarding NASA men, but the truth is that I, too, am a NASA employee and therefore can never be fired and have awesome health insurance, pension plan, etc. I also come with the added bonus of being attractive and dressing well. I guess what I'm saying is - where's my russian bride?

my response:

well, seem to be forgetting the options before you. nowhere does it say you can't have a russian bride. you will just have to go to hawaii or montreal to marry her, that's all.

and PS, i am not a LUSH...luscious perhaps. :)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

mi familia loca

my brother and i are in the kitchen. we are laughing so hard we are crying. the rest of the party is still in the dining room...the children have wandered back upstairs. the water in the sink is running, masking the sound of our laughter. we are dumping a full bowl of something down the drain... on the DL. we don't want anyone to see- especially not our great aunt. this is because we are dumping the entire bowl of what she called 'copper pennies' down the drain. indeed, we are destroying the evidence that not a single person touched the copper pennies she made over dinner. (to describe these 'copper pennies,' think of baby carrots swimming in a vat of brownish, congealed cinnamon syrup.)

alas, this is not the first time the family has had to adjust... compensate... act like my aunt's cooking is tolerable. one of my fondest memories of my family is one thanksgiving day, many years ago- i must have been eight or nine years old. we were standing around my grandmother's dining room table- maybe 30 people or more. (my grandmother was probably the most laid-back person i have ever known. always embodying a more-the-merrier attitude, our family dinners would not only include the extended family, but also the friends, dates, and even ex-husbands and ex-wives of all involved. once a part of my family, you never quite escaped.) so, we're all standing around the table in anxious anticipation of the holiday meal. my great aunt had been put in charge of the turkey cooking- now was time for the turkey carving. the turkey is brought in- collective 'oohs' and 'ahs' from everyone. my dad approaches the bird, knives in hand. he starts to cut it and bleeds.

flash forward almost ten years. my grandmother is gone and with her, the big family dinners with the extended family. my parents are divorced. my brother has three children and is also now divorced. my great uncle is gone. my aunt is now married and spends many holidays with her new family. and in so many ways, my family is the picture of dysfunction. nonetheless, i still can't help but count myself lucky to have the family i do.

yesterday, my mother prepared a belated birthday brunch for my father. my god-father was in town, so it made for a nice celebration. neither my brother nor my father were taking up the old family tradition of initiating religious or political discussions over the meal. (the other tradition being discussion of all things inappropriate, to which my grandma would usually shout, "no potty-talk at the table!") seeing that the men were falling down on the job, i took up the mantle and mentioned my recent visit to the new monica pope restaurant: 'beaver's.' (at this point, we can only hope the conversation was going over my great aunt's head.)

after dinner, my godfather (from hamburg, germany) zealously pulls out some sheet music and announces that he should play while we sing happy birthday... which we did. but let it be known that, at the stephenson household, when any one person sits down at the piano, a can of worms has been opened. (my brother and i seriously studied piano, and my father and i have always sung together... that was always the way he and i communicated best.) so, upon insistence from my mother, the piano singalong continued. i scrounged our sheet music collection for anything worthwhile (that i hadn't stolen and left at my apartment) and seated myself at the piano. suddenly, the whole room was tied together in song... a little gershwyn (porgy and bess, then showtunes), some standards, etc. the grand finale being a resounding chorus of annie's 'tomorrow'....shouted at the top of my father's and godfather's lungs and making us all laugh. and i sat there at the piano thinking i could ask for nothing better than moments like that.

once the singalong had concluded, my great aunt insisted that we cut the cake she brought. she explained that it was a greek cake with a coin baked into it, in a similar fashion as a king's cake- the recipient of the coin winning good luck for the year. we were all so full that no one was particularly interested in eating this cake... one that more closely resembled a loaf of bread... AND that turned out to be something she received BEFORE christmas. so, once again, the family was obliged to humor her. and following suit, we all cut large slices of cake, pretended to take a tiny bite, and then claimed to be too full to finish... my godfather was the only one to eat the whole thing, being the exceedingly good sport that he is.

and while i watched the family try to discreetly dispose of their stale piece of greek bread-cake, it was reaffirmed: being a family is not about being picture-perfect... what binds us together is what we endure together.

Monday, February 4, 2008

misadventures in narrative

those that read this blog regularly are probably aware that i've gotten into a bit of fiction writing lately. most things are inspired by personal experiences, but i've used my own life as a point of launch more than as source material for my writing in its entirety. i've hesitated to post these compositions at a public URL, since many pieces have a very personal slant to them. i do not want them confused with my more typical blog entries, nor perceived as diary entries- they are fictional in nature.

however, if you happen to be interested in taking a gander, here they are: