taking the passive out of passive-aggressive

Friday, May 23, 2003

Our household economy is run something like Enron--my husband and I have many off-the-book deals that allow us to live in financial marital harmony. For instance, he has this whole eBay business--the spare bedroom is filled with boxes and little styrofoam popcorns. From the proceeds he buys all the things I won't let him buy with "our" money (speakers, weird electronic gear). And I have my own little sub rosa economy. It works like this--I get reimbursed for mileage I put on my car, but I don't put the reimbursement in the joint account--I buy shoes with it.

It's so hard when your money becomes part of a collective--you've got to come up with a workaraound, some way to justify the days you spend toiling at your job, some reward. He knows I need shoes and little baskets from Target, and I know he needs speakers and CD racks, but neither of us really wants to acknowledge those desires with cold hard cash.

Some couples, early in their marriage, decide to keep everything separate from the beginning, but we went quite the other way--we had nothing, absolutely nothing when we got married, so separating money was a non-issue. Why separate two dollars? Nowadays it's different, but what... we should split the gas bill, the mortgage, half and half? It just doesn't make sense. But with a joint account, and two people working, how can you allow for selfish purchases?

The household-Enron model works well in these situations. The right hand doesn't always need to know what the left hand is doing, so long as everyone's happy and well-fed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

The most despicable network on cable, E!, just had a terrible documentary about 90210. Of course, I had to watch it. 90210 was an obsession of my youth. Here's what I learned: that show went on for TEN SEASONS--for god's sake, I gave up (grew up?) long before then.

I was sixteen when 90210 started. Of all things, my mom told me about it. She figured it was a show we could watch together, so we did, in the big sunroom at the back of our house. I don't think she was that interested, but it gave her an excuse to hang out with me, or maybe just parent-points for even trying. I was hooked immediately. Never mind that Shannen Doherty and Jason Priestley looked nothing like twins, or that Luke Perry was clearly 30 years old--I'm credulous, and I loved their unrealistic, queer little world.

At first, like me, they had some veneer of innocence, but soon enough they too went to college and became as annoying as I did, though they drank less. I got a Luke Perry doll for New Year's one year, and carried it around in the front of my dress all night. This was actually a relatively unironic gesture, I hate to admit.

The E! documentary, of course, like all cheap cable shows, failed to tell me anything at all. Here's what I want to know about 90210:

1. Did the makeup artist really hate Tiffani-Amber Thiessen? Because that girl looked like hell for at least 3 seasons.
2. And what is up with that name? Tiffani-Amber Thiessen? Did she orignally aspire to a career in low-rent porn?
3. Why did Jennie Garth purse her lips before every line? was that a nervous tic, or a Stanislavsky technique?
4. Was Shannen Doherty more homely in the first season, with those big eighties eyebrows, or later on, when it became clear she was too old? And what was up with that "studying in Paris" thing?
5. Why did the parents just leave the kids in their multi-million-dollar house? and how did the kids keep it so neat? Did the parents also leave them an Alice-like housekeeper? When I was growing up, I remember my parents told me about some family on our street that retired to Florida but left the kids in the house. There were lots of parties there, as I recall, and much neighborhood disapproval, but no one did anything. Maybe that's what happened in 90210.
6. Why was Luke Perry so hot? and why now that I'm nearly 30 years old, do I still think he's hot? Rotten, rotten actor, but hot.
7. What's with Hilary Swank's giant teeth?
8. Nat, from the Peach Pit; okay, I understand that being "Nat from the Peach Pit" is a paying job, and those are hard to come by, but still, he said nothing for nine years! It can't have been good for his self-esteem, being Nat from the Peach Pit. (On the documentary, he mentioned in passing that "We tried to open a chain of Peach Pit restaurants, but the powers that be put a stop to it." Clearly the long, creepy arm of Aaron Spelling!)
9. The most annoying character on the whole show, Andrea, did leave relatively quickly, but not nearly fast enough. That chick was easily thirty-five years old. To this day I don't look as old as she did in the first season, and I was in high school when the show started.
10. How much plastic surgery has Tori Spelling/Donna Martin had? And c'mon, we were really supposed to believe she was a virgin?

Thursday, May 08, 2003

My friend Marcie found these bones in her babydaddy's back yard. She claimed they were a radius and ulna, and they looked human, but demanded I come over for a look. So the other night I go over there and Sean's left the bones for me wrapped up in this big hefty bag on the porch. It was very serial-murder-esque. I go up on the porch and open the bag, and the bones are bumping around on this little metal table, and I suddenly realize I have no gloves and can you get diseases from bones?

Sean tried to go to the Hampden cops but the cop he finally found was profoundly unconcerned: "Oh, yeah," he says, when Sean tells him about the bones, "there's this guy back behind your house, he slaughters animals all the time." Slaughters animals? all the time?

So I open up the bag and actually, it's not arm bones, it's leg bones--a tibia and fibula, maybe 75% as big as an adult human, but who can tell? Is it a child's shinbone, or a pig or a dog? I don't know enough to tell. I go in and he says "so will you take them away?" and I said, "No. Can I wash my hands?" After a thorough scrubbing, he says he's going to the cops again. Great, with my fingerprints all over these things.

This afternoon, at this busy intersection in the city, stood this man. His back was to me as I drove west, and from behind he looked like a beautiful young man, in the sunlight, his back muscles gleaming. But I knew something was wrong; he just stood there, shirtless, unmoving. Passing him, watching him recede in my rearview mirror, I saw suddenly that he was old; that what I took for glints of sunlight in his hair was silver, and that he had a white beard. He still didn't move.

Always, someone stands at this intersection. It's dangerous and not friendly to pedestrians, but they're always there: the beggars, the insane, the rose-sellers with their giant fragrant baskets. I always wonder about the rose-sellers; what kind of ROI they're getting, selling flowers in the middle of the road. I wonder if it's better than they do in the bars down in Fells Point?

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

I got these two generators from gawker.com. I admit, I love generators, and actually think they're the best thing the web has accomplished. I've always liked found-object art and poetry, so maybe that's it. Anyway:

Poetry generator
William Burroughs generator

As an experiment, I ran my own blog through both (yes, I know, very self-centered and postmodern, in a dumb way). Here are the results:

from the Poetry Generator

When
I had to
face the endless amounts of
teeth, the place
than
talk about narrative is
getting enough to these who invented the latest in
used to see that this disembodied force
behind it
all,
I thought were hot enough
to get here? Why and
it be? tolerable. But
kind of
more, stupid than say,
I stopped buying chicken breasts altogether,
because I really afford
lack of sleep for I might be going to do
with selling
stuff to make
the same bar I
swear to make the
counter: Where this is
only cushion is more things, like pieces of teeth,
I love the voodoo igloo

from the William Burroughs generator:

Only back wrong with then they selling stuff had a to people sign on and using the counter: language to "Where the do it. meat is But DON'T fresh, and tell me the butchers you're bringing are fresher!" some great They should've thing to kept that consumers, that's sign up. it's world- It wasn't or life-changing, a joke--it or that was like things like reinventing myself "Mmmm, you're in the lookin' mighty form of fine today. a company! Oh yeah," cool! a before I few new could even words, a place my new typeface, order. It some "big got so ideas" (read: I stopped simpleminded platitudes) buying chicken and we're breasts altogether, reinvented! Please. because I This guy was too last night embarassed to was talking ask for about using them. What is honest language it with to speak butchers? Is for your it their company. It's constant exposure commercial language--it's to meat, not even that makes protected by women look the constitution--how like pieces honest can of steak? it be? The store the latest selling shit. in a In advertising, long line that's what of incidents we're doing. with butchers. The clients The one admit it, at the but the Safeway I agencies (even used to those few go to, that pay he always lip service touched my to the hand when idea) won't he gave admit it. me the It's got meat and to be winked.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Another night in a hotel ballroom! You can only eat so many hors d'ouevres, I've found, before they all start to look the same: over-oiled bruschetta, little triangles with something salmony, and endless amounts of cheap white wine.

We snuck out early and went down to the bar and drank beer. A few minutes after we got there, this couple walks in--The guy looks like a cross between every character in the Royal Tenenbaums (tennis sweatband, western shirt) and the chick is fat and blonde in a black dress, with one shoulder strap falling off. Soon enough they were met by several friends: a couple of blonde girls, much hotter than the first one (which made me feel bad for the original girl) and a few guys who were either gay or very well-dressed--who can tell? Anyway, they preceded to drink their faces off rather quickly and pose langorously on the bar.

I might add, btw, that this is one of those remnants-of-the-seventies kind of bars--not quite cool, but kind of nostalgic, in that my-parents-had-key-parties kind of way. So posing langorously on the bar, in your Western shirt, is not going to get you anywhere. No movie moguls around the corner, no one hot enough to take home.

I had been at the same bar a few nights before with some old friends from high school. We sat by the window and gossiped desultorily about other people--but really it came down to who's being an asshole at work and why, and how the fuck am I supposed to make a career in this economy? My one friend, she's lighting churches, and my other friend is creating government propaganda, while I'm making corporate propaganda. Selling out should reap greater rewards, shouldn't it?