Thursday, August 29, 2002


Well, about three weeks ago I stepped on my scale (something I don't do very often, and don't recommend), and the number it read did not please me.

So I joined Weight Watchers Online.

Being a Gemini, I will always be ambivalent about this. Part of me thinks that Diets Are a Tool of the Man.

And part of me really misses the way I looked when I was running 10Ks every month. And part of me doesn't like having my knees ache after I jog.

So far, success: 5.5 pounds lost in two weeks. When I get to reinvent the English language, I'm going to overhaul this whole "losing weight" paradigm, because frankly, along with supersizing and our primate physiology, I think the idea that you are losing a part of yourself is a big fat roadblock to...let us say "weight changing" success.

The additional cool thing is that Weight Watchers has a vibrant, lively, highly international online gaggle of gals, posting up a storm, sometimes about food, weight, exercise, but often about books, movies, life, dogs, and even farming, which for this urbanite is exotic and fascinating. And, because I am very intrigued by marketing, it's been fun to watch more and more women in a book topic, over the course of some days, get excited by "The Lovely Bones." Which I will read. Soon. I promise. I just love watching word of mouth happen online, because it gives me hope for so many things, from women's liberation to...well, human liberation.

Plus, I found an awesome red lentil soup recipe.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002


I went to the Hoboken Blimpie's off peak the other day, around 3 pm. There's a huge tv there, and unlike a lot of Blimpie's, lots for real plants. After I got my turkey sub, I realized that I was listening to Frank Sinatra. Singing. Talking. Lecturing, even. The owner of the story was playing a vintage early 1960s video tape of Frank, still Manchurian Candidate skinny, singing to a captive audience. The video was in color, that forced 1960s color that seemed to make everything feel shiny and safe. And Frank was explaining to the audience that the highest calling of a singer was to singer a well-written love ballad. He sounded less like a thug, and much, much more like a professor.

Saturday, August 24, 2002


There's a rambunctious New York Times interview today with psychotherapist Phyllis Chesler, longtime "radical feminist" (that's the New York Times' tag, not hers), where she discusses her latest book, "Woman's Inhumanity to Woman," where she basically says "difference" feminism doesn't work, doesn't reflect reality, and probably divided feminism. She thinks it's important to talk about aggression in women, and doesn't think that the recent discussion of Queen Bees and Wannabees (gasp! girls being mean to each other in high school! I'm shocked, shocked!) will permanently harm feminism. The same week this interview appears, Salon has an interesting interview with James Waller, a professor who's been studying the societal causes of genocide. And he basically says the same thing: that given the chance, given the power, women can and are as cruel as men, that the documentation is there. It's about power, baby. It's about affiliating with power. Interesting that no one calls Waller a "radical feminist."

It's depressing, and it's not. Stories about the other gender, whatever the other gender, are too often comforting camouflage. People writing pop psych books about handling your man, playing by the rules, or surrendering your whatever are really alluring...I've fallen for them more than once. They convince not to look at the structure of love, or dating, or marriage; they firm all three up quite nicely, thank you very much. And capitalism and patriarchy affecting our relationships? Ooh, how 20th century.

Phyllis Chesler says a great thing: "Women don't have to be better than anyone else to deserve human rights. "


Sometimes my dog has to rest from all her resting.


Is taping NewsRadio episodes. I was a huge Phil Hartman fan on Saturday Night Live--I have a real weakness for "utility player" performers, who just fill in and support and do great work almost invisibly sometime--though both Hartman's Frankenstein and Anal Retentive Chef were just beautiful, beautiful comedy. But NBC whipped News Radio from time slot to time slot, and my life was just too up and down to catch up. Now, working at home, cable-ready (thank you, A&E) I have time to catch up. This was the week where Paul Simms, the writer/creator, did just a genius job of dealing with Hartman's death by giving Hartman's character, the bombastic Bill McNeil, an offscreen heart attack. Sad, funny, cynical--just the way I like my death comedy. Jon Lovitz stepped in to replace Hartman, and you can feel the strain...but also the good will.

Thursday, August 22, 2002


The Hoboken Terminal--a Beaux Arts gem which houses both ferries and trains--is very movie set-able. Scorsese used the entrance in "The Age of Innocence," and now someone has reinvented the same place as New York bus station, teeming with old buses The buses were pretty funky looking, some at least 30 years old, maybe older--some looked like they'd come straight out of a "Honeymooners" episode. Couldn't figure out if if was a Film or a just a video...from the number of people waiting, eating, chatting, it looked like a big budget something. Good.


Jeff works on a corporate "campus" in the middle of New Jersey. Not far from Montclair, not far from Newark. It used to be a farm, and surroundings are still pretty bucolic. Meaning: geese, rabbits, ducks, deer. Jeff's company posted very small signs, but what they really needed were "Hey, buddy, slow down, you're not in the city!" billboards. Jeff saw a woman hit a mama goose and her goslings, completely by accident. The woman stopped, rushed out of the car, but it was too late. The woman was very distraught.

Jeff wrote up a moving memo detailing this, and other sad stories, and as a result, there are now large signs warning drivers of the wildlife around them. It's a small thing that is also a big thing. He rocks.


Is located on the Jersey City-ward side of the city. Four guys were exiting the club, all of 'em hearty and about 60+. I thought briefly about Marlon Brando, and how he made part of "On the Waterfront" in one of Hoboken's little parks, how much Terry, his character, loved his pigeons. Faith was with me. One of them called out: "That looks like a very loved dog!"

"She is!" I called out, leaned down, and got a big Faith lick.

This is one of the sides of Hoboken I love, the guys hanging out outside their social clubs, many of them named after saints or the Virgin Mary. This is one Hoboken.

Another Hoboken is this loss: that according to the New York Times,on 9/11, it suffered the highest death rate, 39, per capita--about one out of every thousand residents, per the medical examiner in New York. Hoboken's city toll is higher, because they claim that a lot of people, fresh out of school, hadn't switched their addresses from their parents' yet. Their number is 53.

"That's an unfortunate statistic," said Mayor Dave Roberts. "In this instance, I wish it was zero."

In Hoboken, you don't see the missing posters, or the grief, or the intense partying that immediately followed 9/11 anymore. It's been replaced by discreet Xeroxes offering therapy, free of charge, and announcements of commemorative services around the date--one at Stevens Institute of Technology, one at a bar. That sounds about right. It was an unhappy coincidence that a gorgeous pier park overlooking the Hudson, with a view of lower Manhattan, had opened not that long before the tragedy last year; but it turned out to be a blessing. It gave people a place to go and mourn. Now, all that's left is the wax stains from the vigil candles, and a little graffiti.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002


Terrific thunderstorm this morning, followed by this air that makes me think of Seattle and the ferry to Bainbridge Island. Everyone seems to be walking slowly, enjoying the fact that the air isn't pushing hard against them.

Saturday, August 17, 2002


Isn't a sex fantasy. There's this minitrend now of handing over comic book stories to Serious Filmmakers, or at least Hipster Filmmakers, from X-Men to Spidey to Daredevil.

And so far, they're all guy filmmakers. Surfing the Web tonight, I thought:

Time to give the girls a chance. Jane Campion. Or Kimberly Peirce. Or if that makes you too nervous, Kathryn Bigelow or Mimi Leder. They know how to blow things up real good.

Thursday, August 15, 2002


"Battling cancer." Really. Think about it. If you've ever gone through it with a loved one, it's not even a cliche, because it isn't accurate. It's more like...surfing, followed by a car crash, followed by a nice nap, followed by a horrible alarm clock.

There's a wild story in the latest O magazine about Elisabeth Targ, an MD who did original research in the area of healing with prayer and "distance healing." Her original study groups were with AIDS patients, but her most recent study was to be with people suffering from a rare form of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme. Virulent does not begin to describe this particular cancer; basically, if it's left untreated following diagnosis, you're dead in a month.

My father died of it, 17 years ago. After of year of...having it.

In a bizarre turn of events, Dr. Targ was diagnosed with a tumor that ended up being...glioblastoma multiforme. In the article, she faces it bravely, and feels that this will deepen her research. The end of the article gives the URL of her Web site, where you can learn about her research, and, well, pray for her.

I logged on, only to discover that she was already gone.

I have a lot to say about healing and prayer and cancer, but here's what my father's cancer taught me: however evolved you may be, you are always going to pray for the person you love not to die, not to suffer, to be returned to the state he or she was before. Whatever lip service is given to the idea that healing and getting well are not the same thing, it's bullshit to someone who's suffering. You will always make deals with God, even if you didn't believe in him before, you will always see mystical signs where before you saw randomness, because, I believe, the human race is simply not hardwired to wrap its collective mind around death.


Harlem Little League, that is. What a great story!


If you win an Academy Award for Best Actress, you get to play...James Bond's latest conquest, and have three of your four Vanity Fair photos feature your breasts.

If you win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, you get to play...the Hulk's girlfriend, and have your Vanity Fair interviewer discuss whether you've had a breast reduction.


From a e-mail:

"But then we started getting a bunch of defective ones returned. And it wasn't just any defect -- the things were actually smoking when people turned them on.Obviously, we weren't going to sell a product that could potentially set our customers on fire. We like our customers, and we don't want them to be on fire. "

Monday, August 12, 2002


because it is the only drug I have left. But I am nothing compared to this man.

Friday, August 09, 2002


"But capitalism in this country is focused, first, on the idea that life can and should be absolutely beautiful; second, that beauty can be defined in an iron-clad objective standard; third, that beauty can be held onto forever if only you do the right things perfectly enough; and fourth, that it can be purchased....
Light and dark become so polarized that it is terrifying, and something like sadness can come to seem grotesque-and in fact become grotesque, like you see in somebody like Elizabeth Wurtzel, who I believe is desperately unhappy in part because she has absolutely bought into the idea that she should not be unhappy."

Mary Gaitskill

From an exchange between writers Mary Gaitskill and Rick Moody on autodafe, an amazing site of disenfranchised literature.

I love this quote, and part of me agrees with it. Then the part of me that is the grandchild of three people who were salespeople--and who loved it---wants to buy a new t-shirt. Right now.

Thursday, August 08, 2002


Well, Faith and I are in the September issue of Jane, p. 66. I got picked to answer one of editor Jane Pratt's pressing questions--an engagement ring issue, which is actually a specialty of mine. The surprise was they used the JPEG of Faith and me smooching, which I sent as a goof. If this is my fifteen minutes of fame, and dogs live seven years for each one of ours, is this Faith's hour and three quarters?


Nathan Lane is going to be in the final episode of "Sex and the City." Playing a sort of piano-tinkling gay blade who marries a socialite. I can't wait.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002


That's a quote from Molly Kiely, a wonderful illustrator/painter/graphic novelista, who has cooked up such nifty numbers as "Saucy Little Tart" and "Diary of a Dominatrix." Yodeling, bodacious women, twins, light S/M, and homemade sex toys prominently featured. And even a mobile you can make!


This is Jeff's horoscope this week, from Free Will Astrology. And isn't it the most insanely beautiful day?

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Here are further signs that the
apocalypse may have already occurred. 1. An environmental
organization sent me five free Jennifer Lopez-themed
refrigerator magnets as a promotion for their new ecological
initiative. 2. A blind German psychic has announced that he can
divine the future by fondling people's naked butts. 3. Recent
polls report that for a majority of Americans, vacations are
exhausting and debilitating. 4. My mother just got her first toe
ring and my dad casually announced he believes that
"*everyone* is a performance artist." 5. The Piscean tribe is
finally ready to discover why there is a rowdy, regenerative
power in proclaiming to the world, "I am empty of all hope and I
don’t know anything!"


That's what one of the "Today Show" bookers bought one of the two girls who survived that rape/kidnapping in California, one of the two girls who gave Katie Couric her exclusive. I have not watched the interview, exactly. I saw a piece of it on the gym t.v., closed captioned. Then I read the Times article yesterday that dealt with how the girls' interview came to be, and the knotty problem that those darned news organizations found themselves in because they had named the girls when they were kidnapped, then, when they found out they were raped, (mostly) began blanking out their faces, and removed their names. Then the girls, urged by a police minister, decided to go on TV to "out of a conviction that their story could help other young women facing a similar traumatic experience." (from the Times article)

Well, yes and no.

Here's the reality: if you live and breathe and are not a monk, you know someone--or are someone--who's a rape survivor. That's just statistics. But t.v. isn't actually all that interested in the average outcome of a story like this, which is: 1) the rapist is somone the victim knows and 2) the rapist never does jail time. When the rapist is convicted, the jail time is usually scant. Most rape survivors will never, ever see their rapist caught--let alone shot dead in front of them. Most rape survivors will not have someone buy an 80 dollar pair of pants for them, or get comforted by Katie Couric. Similar traumatic experience? No, this is the exception to the rule. This was a terrible thing, but this is a happy ending with a neat punchline--at least in the t.v. movie/instabook version.

But. But. I am all for lifting the veil of shame from rape, and I think those girls were kick ass brave: both to survive as they did, and to talk. But the lessons t.v. teaches aren't necessarily the ones it thinks it's teaching. Katie Couric is not going to be around when one or both of those girls deals with posttraumatic stress disorder, which is likely simply from seeing somebody shot dead in front of you. I hope they have wonderful families, and terrific therapists. Maybe what they did will help others; I know when I was working in TV Movieland, we'd get word that something we made had helped somebody--leave a marriage, report a crime, get involved. I hope these girls do help change the public conversation about rape. It couldn't happen fast enough.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002


Jeff and I have been keeping a collection of these. Some are too cutesie-poo/private to mention, even in an exhibitionistic medium like a blog. But here's one I discovered the other day:

"When our dog rolls around in a pile of dead fish, will you cheerfully volunteer to give her a bath?"

In Jeff's case, the answer is yes. Which would not be at the top of the list of "reasons why I married him," but it would be there, somewhere.

When she's not massaging herself with Jersey City's finest fillets, Faith likes to meditate.

Monday, August 05, 2002


That would be me.

Just finished my morning working on a book proposal, which several agents have expressed an interest in, ranging from scrawled on the corner of my own query letter to a pretty personal letter. There seems to be some audience for this thing I want to write about, but as passionately as I feel about it, I also feel anxious. I know where it comes from, I've certainly paid enough money to a terrific enough therapist, but it remains. The anxiety. The procrastination. It's the part of the Julia Cameron book I always felt the most hostile know, personalizing your demons, writing your bad self talk down and ripping it up--but there they are again. My friend, Sister Mary Anxiety. Father Who Do You Think You Are. I need an exorcism.

That's of course when one of my better angels comes in--my friends, my coach, my husband, my various self-help books, even the little voice inside--and tells me, you know, it's not that big a deal. Write the next word. That's all you have to keep doing. Forget about the bigger stuff, and what it means, which is just the ego nattering away anyway. My most pleasant writing/publishing experiences have all had this "one word at a time" quality, the "digression after digression" that Alice Sebold talks about. That's it. I'm not Writing A Book Proposal. I'm digressing, pleasantly.

Thanks for letting me babble.

Sunday, August 04, 2002


I haven't read "The Lovely Bones," by Alice Sebold, yet, but I will. I remember hearing about the novel from one of my movie scout friends more than two years ago, the Guy With the Amazing Bullshit Detector, and he spoke breathlessly about it, so I never forgot the title, which seemed so odd, so right. Then I read "Lucky," Sebold's memoir about surviving a brutal rape when she was a college freshman, and it was one of those books I didn't want to put down, but had to--the writing was so good--but so hard to bear. So for some reason, I feel vicariously thrilled to see this book do so well, to be "news that stays news," as Ezra Pound called poetry. The other cool thing about Alice Sebold is that she says something wonderful in every interview--about writing, about teaching, about being inspired. This is about all three. This is from the interview.

Your characters are so complete, so real. It's hard to imagine that writing about them would feel like invention. How did these characters develop?

AS: I think having taught freshman composition for a decade in New York was a key ingredient in my education as a writer. Empathy and compassion is central to teaching, or should be, and for me it is also central to writing. I pitched myself into the lives of my students, who came from every background and represented every age. You must first understand, as best as you are able, the true being of your student before you can expect them to trust and to learn. The same thing is true of working with fictional characters. What are they saying to you? Who do they truly want to be? Nothing should ever come easily in answer to these questions because humans aren't easy. I distrust the "Aha!" moment both in life and in writing. As soon as you think you know someone, there is something you haven't seen. My characters guide me to the right way of telling their story just as my students have guided me in the right way of trying to teach. Each student, each character, is handled individually, and when they come together as a group that is another dynamic.


Our improv class performed yesterday at UCB yesterday. We did lots of things, some revolving around Lance Armstrong, some revolving around Lamb Chop. People laughed, people clapped. Now it is over, and I am sad.

Saturday, August 03, 2002


Sometimes my husband accuses me of being too attached to my habits, and I do not contradict him. Nearly every Saturday I rise up, feed the dog, make my coffee, and strap myself into my walkman. I do not watch Headline News. I do not snuggle. This is probably not good for my marriage.

I cannot help myself. I am deeply fond of the public radio show "On the Media," which is, in my humble opinion, a terrible title for a wonderful show about...well, the innards of the media. But the blanketish title allows the show to cover all kinds of not-necessarily-the-news news, such as the fact that after 40 years of comic book life, Marvel's hero The Thing has been given a Jewish identity. Which makes all the smarty pants listening think of Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay," including me. Remember how Mr. Spock could sometimes make Captain Kirk erase parts of his past, by pressing some human nerve thingie and whispering "Forget, forget?" I wish Mr. Spock could show up at my door after I've read a wonderment like "The Amazing Adventures..." and do that to me, so I could read the book a second time in the same state of awe as I did when I read it the first time.

Anyhoo, along with all the theorizing about why make Ben Grimm-turned-Thing Jewish now, an interview with the current comic writer, comparisons to the Golem and to Moses, and a funny skit that imagines The Thing's Jewish Mom, they also interviewed the original co-creator, Stan Lee, who is proof that comics keep you forever young. He basically said, "Huh?" Stan Lee, a very smart guy, seemed absolutely...well, marveling at all the theories people had come up with. Nope, he'd never intended the Thing to be any religion, and no, he didn't change his Jewish name to fit in to the comics....he changed his name because comics weren't respectable. And that's when I realized that Mr. Spock had come to my door, and I was having Kavalier and Clay, Part II, read aloud to me.

Thursday, August 01, 2002


"I am the kind of homosexual sexual minoritarian who believes that sexual minoritarian liberation is inextricable from the grand project of advancing federally protected civil rights, and cannot be separated from the liberation struggles of other oppressed populations, cannot be achieved isolated from the global struggle for the abolition of the legacy of colonialism, cannot be achieved isolated from the global resistance movement against militarism and imperialism and racism and fundamentalisms of all sorts, the global movement for the furtherance of social and economic justice, the global multiculturalist, antitribalist, identity-based movement for pluralist democracy. I am the kind of homosexual who believes that all liberation has an inexpungeable aspect that is collective, communitarian and also millenarian, utopian, which is to say rooted in principle, theory, dream, imagination, in the absolute nonexistence of the Absolute and in the eternal existence of the Alternative, of the Other, in the insistently unceasingly mutable character of our character."

From Tony Kushner's commencement speech at Vassar, 2002.


Another pleasure of my vacation-ette: taking the bus up and the train down with my godfather, aka Uncle Bill, who also wears the following identities, in this order: my dad's roommate in college, his best friend, my mom's boyfriend, my mom's ex-boyfriend, my father's best man, my younger sister's godfather. The son of a Bronx cop, a Harvard graduate, a stockbroker, Bill is just one of those ineffably gracious people you move to New York to be around. I loved hearing his story about having a crush on Grace Paley, about visiting Montana (this is a man who is rarely, even now, out of a suit and tie). And especially, I loved that he seems to remember details about my dad that I have forgotten.


Improv class is over, long live improv class--except for our half hour show on Saturday, which I am trying not to think about. (That's actually one of the slogans of the Upright Citizens Brigade--"Don't think." My favorite is actually "Don't negate.") About half of us followed Liz, one of our classmates, who is a kayaking documentary filmmaker, across many avenues to have drinks on a floating bar: a pier right by Chelsea Piers. Big fun. We discuss, among other things, the mystery of Carrot Top, the standup comic who you just can't get away from in commercials, the playwright John Guare, writer Michael Chabon, and being homesick for Austin. The sun glittered, and, thanks to some kind of corporate party going on around one of the vintage pirate ships nearby, we were awash in canned music and grill smoke, and that feeling you get when something good is over.