Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How's the Weather?

Lately, the weather has been a bit bipolar. Last week it reached a whopping 103 degrees Fahrenheit, and today it is 75 degrees with scattered thunderstorms.  I was a sucker during both the days, and working in Midtown, NYC easily bought a personal fan and an umbrella on a whim, on each respective day.  Living in these uncertain times, filled with barometric discrepancies has me dressing in mini skirts with scarves, wool pants with sandals, and linen shirts with a poncho.  With weather straight out of the movie Jumanji, I keep expecting three-foot insects to land on my head, bats to fly in through windows, chattering monkeys to take over the office kitchen, and a stampede of giraffes to rush through the hallways.  Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a little, but it just so happens that I am not so great with such a wild climate.Prior_Thomas_Jump-500px.jpg

Certain artists, like mosses, enzymes, and lichens, are extremophiles. That is, an organism that lives and thrives in an extreme environment. The most famous of these artists is probably Georgia O’Keefe, who after her first summer in New Mexico, fell in love with the barren landscape and expansive skies of the desert. She relished the desolate and decaying bone graveyards.  She loved the burning, hot tones of reds and oranges. O’ Keefe wrote, " I have picked flowers where I have found them- have picked up sea shells and pieces of rock and wood that I liked... When I found the beautiful white bones on the desert I picked them up and took them home too... I have used these things to say to me the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it." The so-called “Painter of the Desert” chose to live alone and eventually die in the New Mexican sun.

20x200 (where I intern) has its very own extremophile, Tom Prior, who is working on several documentary projects that look at beautiful and dangerous recreation spots around the world. He's photographed in the Bonnevile Salt Flats, whose highest recorded temperature was 112°F in 1939 and whose lowest recorded temperature was -18°F in 1990. His photographs at the Blackrock Tower in Ireland are slippery, treacherous, and filled with nervous anticipation.  Prior says it best, “Its a mixture of the super dedicated people and beautiful open landscapes. I remembered the changing light and engine noise of Bonneville, Utah. Starting at about 4pm in summer the light changes by the minute all the way till dark after 10pm. Blackrock diving tower is such a cool structure, out there on that pier all by itself, and it’s so un-Americanly dangerous. The locations are simple yet not at all boring. They’re visually incredible but made more amazing by humans.”


But, maybe the most extreme is Steve Eiden’s account of Leonard Knight who for the past 24 years has been living alone in the desert of Niland, California, a few miles from the shores of the Salton Sea, working ceaselessly on a giant monument to God known as Salvation Mountain. During the five coldest months of the year, he sleeps in the back of an old broken down flatbed truck. The other seven months of the year, he sleeps in this bed.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Just a Thought.

I need an onomatopoeia for the sound my thighs make when they rub together. Not to be confused with the sound corduroy makes when it doubles back and touches itself.

Materials on same materials.

Girls, empathize. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why can't I get comfortable?!

I finally figured out how to describe how I've been feeling the past few days. Yes, I'm too hot, sweaty, and suffering from heat headaches like whoa, but that doesn't get at the heart of it. I think the best way to describe how I'm feeling is to describe how I am NOT feeling...

It's late October, and you're at home after a hard day's work. You're in comfy clothes, maybe your boyfriend's tee shirt and loose athletic shorts. The front room of the first floor of the house smells like warm leather and a lavender scented candle. Your legs are smooth and it feels nice when your calves touch the backs of the thighs as you relax on the sofa with a good book, maybe a Carol Shields novel or that new book everyone's talking about "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." You open to your bookmark, and, not for the first time, are lost within its pages as you comfortably sit in your house.

That is what most people call being "absorbed." I like to call this being settled. I want to be a settler, someone who comes home and is instantly relaxed by their own space.

When it's 103 freaking degrees out and the air conditioning unit may or may not really be working--there's air coming from it, but is it cold?--it's nearly impossible to be a settler.

After going through a mini freak out this afternoon when I failed to complete a house project and didn't get to finishing the other house project I started yesterday, I jumped into a cold shower...a much needed shower due to the brick dust stuck in my hair. I took a cold shower for a good five minutes. That's a long shower, when it's a cold one. Before hopping into that shower, I turned on the AC unit in the master bedroom. Dripping, I reentered the cooler room, put on underwear and then... that's it.

I finally began to feel better. Clothes off, AC on, bed made, chocolate-almond Hershey's bar ready to eat... and then the fear factor began.

I have an abnormal fear of strangers coming into my house. I'm not sure where this fear came from. This has never happened to me (knock on wood), and I grew up in a very safe neighborhood. Although now I live in Killadelphia, the fear began way before coming here.

The point is, I had to quickly put on clothes and leave the door open a crack so I could hear if anyone was breaking in. What I am going to do if that actually happens, I don't know. But there's a machete, a baseball bat, and a police baton at the ready here next to me.

That seems strange, but now that I'm thinking about all this, the first settlers in America (or anywhere for that matter) probably had more dangerous and many weapons just in case the natives weren't friendly.



P.S. As I wrote that last paragraph, I realize that so many things could be assumed from my choice of words. I didn't mean any of them really. It's just too hot and uncomfortable here. I don't wanna be a covered wagon traveler; I wanna be a settler.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mountain out of a Garage Hill

For the past few days I've been an anxious wreck in Philadelphia, an hour and a half from my family's house in Lancaster. I suppose a lot of things have added to everyone's stress in the past month, i.e. moving out of the house in which we grew up, and two of us (my brother and I) moving away from home. My sister is left to live with the parents during the summer, working as a server across the fairway (on which my parents live) at the golf course restaurant.

With all the stress and thinned attention, my sister accidentally tore the front bumper off my dad's car as she backed out of the driveway.

The consequences of this accident were magnified because my mother is volunteering as a nurse at a sleep away camp, so (with my brother and I gone) my sister incurred the wrath of my father, who has exactly two emotions: happy and angry. Sadness is possibly a third, but I've only heard of that once and it was extreme circumstances... still, I didn't witness this third.

If anyone reading this is a middle child, then they know exactly what I mean by: sometimes, I have to "translate" among all my family members, because they all speak different languages. So everyone texted or called me during this car crisis, yelling or crying. Self-loathing and other-loathing and frustration. Anxiety and total lack of motivation to live were a few of the feelings flying at me through the phone.

I couldn't go back to Lancaster, however, because my boyfriend needed a ride to the airport this morning. But now, I'm in Lancaster. I parked next to the said wrecked car and checked out the garage door.

Okay, so there's no front bumper and the headlight is cracked.

But.... where this $3000 worth of damage to the garage door is, I have NO IDEA. I didn't see anything wrong with it. Not sure if it's "internal" damage, but I wouldn't even know where the "internal" part of a garage door is.

So why is everyone freaking out??

Because my mother is a calming force in these situations, and she's (thank goodness for her sake! haha) at camp.

I hereby declare, mothers are now required to be present during incidents of destruction, but are forbidden to be harmed or involved in that destruction.

The world would be a better place if mothers were there to make valleys out of these mountains out of garage hills.



Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Let's Color!

4448400978_9f07571dc0.jpgIt is amazing to see how color can enhance your day. Several ancient religions used to employ chromotherapy, or the healing effects of color. More recently, scientists have developed color mood theory and color psychology. The hues can affect our disposition, appetite, self-esteem, and spirituality. For example, blue represents peace, tranquility, stability and confidence. Black fills one with feelings of sophistication, mystery and depth. Green is soothing, youthful, and associated with fertility. But, in general, the human eye is (supposedly) most attracted to red.
What color brightens your mood? Why not try some yellow prints for optimism? Or an orange based print for an energy boost? Explore the complete visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, the rainbow, here.

Also in honor of Roy G. Biv’s mood influences, there is a new and exciting project going on worldwide called the “Let’s Colour Project”. Imagine the planet as a giant coloring book. Before we color in the pages with magic markers, crayons, or colored pencils, they are empty and grey…rather drab. Well, the Let’s Colour Project sees the world as a coloring book yet to be filled in! They say, “Grey is out. Gloom is gone. It’s time to live our lives in colour.” The project, started in March 2010, is working together with local communities, across the globe, and rolling up its sleeves to paint streets, hotels, houses, schools, villas, and squares. More than simply gentrification and renovation, the "Let’s Colour Project" aims to encourage local participation and collaboration. It wants denizens of a town to design and style their own communities! So far London, UK; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Jodhpur, India; and Marseille, Lyon, Paris have been colored in! The next stop is Istanbul, Turkey.

If you’re far and away from the aforementioned locales, do not fret, anyone can get involved! It doesn’t matter if it’s your bedroom wall or your local school. Everyone can be part of it. Read more about the "Let's Colour Project.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tutti Frutti

Upon observation of the natural fruit kingdom (in broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds and is edible in its raw state), there are certain fruits that are not good for on-the-go consumption. Some fruits look silly when eaten like an apple.

These include:

  1. A pineapple (Ananas comosus); it looks weird growing on the ground, in the center of a bush, and being eaten as a whole. Also, did you know the natural pollinator of the pineapple is a hummingbird? That's a bucket of wtf. Anyway, pineapple is probably best served warm with meat dishes and a Maraschino cherry....according to Wikipedia. 
  2. Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), this one looks normal at first because it's actually similarly shaped and colored to an apple, but then people do a double take and say...."hurm, now what's going on her missy?" They are also a little too juicy to eat in the hand, seriously, driptastic. Did you know that they were Thomas Jefferson's favorite fruit? Yes, I said fruit, it is technically a fruit. Same goes for tomatillos.
  3. Guavas, Pomelo, Honeydew, Watermelon, and any number of Melon related fruits (Cucurbitaceae family); listen're just huge. You should be shared in a fruit salad or over a red-checkered blanket during a picnic. You do however have large quantities of vitamins A and C, Omega 3 and 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and high levels of dietary fibers, so I guess it's pretty worth it for the awkward eater.
  4. Coconuts (Cocos nucifera); If I have to open you with a machete or a machine, I should not eat you in public. Likewise, if I can use you as a bowl or as a cup for my tropical drink, you are first a bowl, second a fruit. 'nuff said.
  5. Lemons, limes, grapefruits (genus Citrus) ; Go ahead, bite it. Enjoy the pulpy, pippy, waxy, protective rind. I actually suck lemon wedges whole often, much to the chagrin of my enamel. However, I have never once bitten into a lemon, but now I am tempted. At least so I could be the first of my friends...
Knowledge is Power,

Keren Rhymes w/ Heron

Sam L. Jackson and the U.S. Border Patrol

The U.S. Attorney's office in Yuma, Arizona is located only 7 miles from the Mexican border. The AUSA (Assist. U.S. Attorney) office is actually being hosted in the U.S. Border Patrol office in a small room made even smaller by four bulky cubicle style offices. However small it may seem, these guys see cases where men cross the border into the U.S. with 12,000 lbs of Marijuana... yeah, 12,000 lbs!

Last week, I spent a day inside this office, and one of the AUSAs was kind enough to give me a tour of the Border Patrol processing rooms. I got to see illegal aliens in holding cells, border patrol officers lifting weights in the on-site gym, and, my favorite part, the surveillance room.

Imagine a cross between NASA and Jurassic Park control rooms. Actually, the only part taken from Jurassic Park control room is Samuel L. Jackson... his face, his voice, his attitude. Take those traits and attribute them to a guy in Yuma named Gary and put him in NASA control room, but the video monitors along the wall are surveying the Mexican-Arizona border rather than SPACE.

According to Gary, five years ago Mexicans were scrambling across the border in droves. Now, it is a rare occurrence that illegals are crossing successfully (at least relative to five years ago). The reason for this? Perhaps it is due to the insane amount of security Arizona has put in place.

I'm not saying that AZ bill 1070 isn't wrong, but with everything the government has done, I can imagine the frustration.

Along the AZ-MX border is a primary fence yards tall, which is fairly climbable. Behind the primary fence is a canal about 10 yards wide and pretty deep... fairly unswimmable (at least for those of us who didn't pass the Guppy stage at YMCA swim lessons... gulp). Then, there is a secondary fence which is rendered unclimbable by special mesh fencing the government has developed specifically to prevent illegal border crossing. The mesh covers fence posts, and is so tightly woven that fingers, hooks, straps etc are unable to go through it.

Yet, there are break points where the canal and mesh fence cross each other, and this is where illegals cross. However, this is also where ground patrol officers are stationed (in addition to stations all along the border).

Not only do they have ground patrol, but the video surveillance room is full of people watching the border 24 hours a day and recording what they monitor.

In addition to all that, there are seismic sensors, infrared sensors, and motion detectors in place along the entire border.


All this Samuel L. Jackson told me in his "hold on to your butts" bad ass laid back, but serious style of conversing.

So how is it that people and drugs are still entering the country illegally?? Well, there are other states like NM and TX whose borders may not be as tightly controlled. As well as the ol' balloon across the border trick, where drug lords float substances atop the fences and patrolmen.

In conclusion, my trip to Arizona was very educational and almost movie-like in the behind the scenes stuff I got to see. These guys seem to have it under control despite all the hype in the media. Then again, I have heard that people aren't coming here with such alacrity as before given that the economy is in the dumps. Although I can't speak of the other states, Arizona definitely has the upper hand when it comes to state versus street.

One more noteworthy tid bit: I was told by a guy sitting next to me on the plane from Cincinnati to Phoenix that Yuma was quote "Shoot 'em up bang bang." And I should be careful. Perhaps I should have told him that I was coming from Philly... Yuma is hardly the shoot 'em up bang bang city I thought it may be. At least out there I can walk five blocks down the road without being offered crack rocks.



Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Live With Art

As the graduate intern for 20x200: A Jen Bekman Project, here's some of the stuff I do on my down time at work! 20x200 is affordable art for everyone! (limited editions × low prices) + the internet = art for everyone

Live with Art, It's Good for You.

It's lickable, clickable, art. Like a schnozberry.

Roy G. Biv

Taste the Rainbow
(from 700 nm to 400 nm)
Rocking your visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Street Vendors of the World, UNITE!

If I had to eat street vendor food, for the rest of my days, I would probably be incredibly corpulent. I would also be fearless in my food eating quests; monkey brains, scorpions, dog, etc. Considering most street vendor cuisine is both finger food and fast food, the need for utensils and thus dish washing would be moot. Amazing!

Maybe I should be concerned with the potential cultivation of disease due to lack of refrigeration and cleanliness. Vendor-man totally pees using the same hand with which his hot dogs get delivered. Oh well. Thus is the life of a woman relegated to local, regional street cuisine. Cheap, varied, delicious.

Here is my top five list of countries ( I have tried ) with the best side of the road bites:

5. Holland and The Netherlands - Little shanties selling raw fish. They can be smelled up to a mile away. This hasn't been tested by anyone but I'm pretty sure I'm right. The smoked and raw fish products are called a "viskraam" or "haringkar". Just in case your breath was not bad enough, the raw herring is served with chopped onions and pickles, on a hot-dog style bun. Also, Pannekokken! It's a Dutch pancake. It's larger than American style pancakes and MUCH thinner. People top them with pears, raisins, pineapples, apples, and stroop, A VERY, thick, tangy syrup.

4. Jamaica - Curried Goat, actually slaughtered in front of the customer. Bammy, a sweetened fried dough. Jerk Chicken or Pork in jerk pits or steel drums! The smell stays on your clothes for days, which can be a good or bad thing...Such an exotic blend of scotch bonnet peppers, onions, scallions, thyme and allspice.

3. England - Listen. English food is definitely not my favorite. Blood Pudding. Blegh. Sweet Breads. Boo. Haggis, crappit head, Scottish! no! no!But there's something about fried cod with chips, wrapped in newspaper that is just so freaking satisfying. Throw in a Cornish pasty with filled with beef, sliced potato, swede (also known as a rutabaga), and onion, and I am almost willing to forgive the British for the Boston Tea Party, The Shot Heard Round the World, taxes, and fighting a war with the Americans.

2. Israel - Sabikh! It's a warm pita stuffed with hardboiled eggs, eggplant, pickles, and sesame paste (tahini). Bourekas stuffed with potatoes and cheese. Shwarma and Falafel! And Kebabs, a relatively global street food favorite.

1. Malaysia -Fried rice. Crispy, fresh prawns. Satay mutton. Barbecued duck. Roti chicken. Fish filleted before your very eyes, sometimes still moving. Curries, peanut sauces, chili powders! Coconut Juices! Lime Juices! Clay pots, Coconuts used as bowls! Malaysia might just be the culinary equivalent to the Paris of street food.

Dig in kids. Good eats,

Keren, Rhymes w/ Heron

P.S. Did I totally forget America? We have hot dogs! Knishes! Fish Tacos. Cheesesteak. Soft Pretzels.....pretty much international street food due to our melting pot status.

Friday, June 18, 2010

YUMA, az.

For now, I'm just giving you these pictures. The one is me being a cactus. The other is on the road from Phoenix to Yuma.

Since I've been here I've learned a few things, i.e. physical perspective may lead to emotional perspective and America has experienced what I'm calling "The Loss of the Gardener."

Promise more later.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Newspaper Blackout Poems

Two years ago a few friends of mine, (BenCo, Calder, and Sonja to be in the specific) had the idea of creating Newspaper Blackout Poems out of the same article. We did this to show the vast number of ways one conglomeration of words could be interpreted and reinterpreted, smashed and rehashed. We each did a few versions, and probably had about 12 different iterations of the same (approx.) 480 word article. Mine shall remain hidden away in the bowels of my "Pictures Folder" because of its lack of neatness and my OCD. Below are three favorites:

As per most tasks in the life, all you need is a Sharpie and a bit of creativity.

by Sonja Vitow

by Calder Stembel 

by Ben Cocchiaro

Thus concludes,

Now go on and try your own, ruin your dad's paper!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why Friends Shouldn't Buy Friends Books.

There and back again; a tale by Keren Veisblatt.

This all started because blogger buddy and all-around best friend, Leah, bought me the book Coraline last year, which I promptly read in 2 hours flat and then said, gimme more, like Cookie Monster,and devoured four other pieces by Gaiman within a week. Now I'm an official follower, not in the Twitter way, in the real life...I stalk this man way.

While standing in line, arriving one hour early to see Neil Gaiman, science-fiction/fantasy author of Coraline, Sandman, Good Omens, The Graveyard Book and other eerily complete novels, I found myself standing with the rejected souls of high school club, to be specific these types of people (in prose form, note a terrified Keren below, left):

....Plaid, neon stripes, weird wiccan hair ornaments, people that say things like, 'that's so derivative, man', pixie cuts and then really scraggly unkempt dark hair with split ends, nerd voice talking about statistics, girl with Indian braids, awkward man complimenting girls boobs and giggling, teen discussing the redeeming qualities of Iowa, 40 year old soccer mom with a fairy shirt on, man doing Rodney Dangerfield impressions badly, man in full blown suit giving out business cards about his bug preservation business, blue spiked hair, woman dressed as witch but wearing sneakers, non gendered person dressed in cosplay outfit, buttons on all purses, girl reading bad poetry out loud, Asian sketching herself as an anime cat, dragons on 4 shirts, ironic Hawaiian shirts, non-ironic Hawaiian shirts, man with purple painted toenails in Sikh attire, frames with no lenses, skirts over jeans, Lesbian dressed as Asian boy, lesbian dressed as princess from Sleeping Beauty, blue hair, green hair, yellow hair, rainbow hair, girl taking picture with flash to see if auditorium is haunted, girl touching pages on her book slowly and purring audibly, man playing with one hair on bald head, man with violin and guitar case forgetting to pick up either every time he walks, skirts worn over jeans. Weird goatees that remind me of the 1760's, man in full winter coat in 92 degree weather, serial killer lookalike count at 5...

Aha! The over sized Auditorium clock chimes 7 and we all shuffle into our seat.  The panel is meant to showcase contributions from Neil Gaiman's new book, STORIES. Those present included Kurt Andersen, Jeffrey Ford, Kat Howard, Joe Hill, Lawrence Block, Walter Mosley, and, of course, Neil Gaiman.

Lawrence terrified me by reading excerpts of a story entitled "Catch & Release"...which is essentially about the moments before a serial killer skins a woman.

"Polkadots and Moonbeams" by Jeffrey Ford has some of the most amazing metaphors and similes I have ever encountered, i.e.  the sun rising like a bubble in honey, and her dress' dots like the stars patterned in a perfect universe.

The book is filled with big-shot, big-name writers, Joyce Carol Oates, Jodi Picoult, Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahniuk...but there sat Kat. In a panel of all men peeped one very small woman, with a pair of very intense shoes, Kat.

This is her publishing debut and her story, "A Life in Fictions", was a grand reinterpretation of the fantasy genre. After she finished reading the story to the six hundred person audience, I went home and re-read it to myself, just as personal the second time...just as empathetically scary. Read it, buy the book, and read it. But buy the book anyway because it's brilliantly edited.

The overall theme of the night was,
"The joy of fiction is the joy of the imagination. . . ."

All words, put to paper are imagined worlds with imagined words. If they are describing New Jersey, or the imaginary planet Chuzoo, they are still fantasies and still creations of the authors vast and limitless imagination. Now, with the internet, there is a promiscuous availability of information but not imagination. A good book, whether about vampires, murder, extramarital campus romance, harlequin romance, or detectives, supersedes genre.  

As Neil says, "As I close my eyes, the world becomes no darker".

Side Note and After-Hours Edit: Head over to Kat Howard's blog where she actually responds to my comment, huzzah. --->Strange Ink.

Monday, June 14, 2010

She gives me fever.

Good reasons to be hot:

  • Recent vacation to St. Tropez left you very sunburned after sailing all day.
  • Psychosomatic feelings from reading Dante's Inferno or "Fire and Ice", you're a VERY intense reader.

    • (From Harper’s Magazine, December 1920.)

      SOME say the world will end in fire,
      Some say in ice.
      From what I’ve tasted of desire
      I hold with those who favor fire.
      But if it had to perish twice,
      I think I know enough of hate
      To know that for destruction ice
      Is also great
      And would suffice.
      -Robert Frost

  • Being incredibly turned on by your new boyfriend, Gael Garcia Bernal, sexy. Please Google Image Search immediately.
  • Rush of blood to the head from winning $10,000 million dollar lottery from a $5.00 dollar ticket. 
  • First day of summer vacation and your AC broke.
  • Finding an amazing sale on your favorite Winter Jacket, but having to try it on mid August, since the sale is off season.

Bad reasons to be hot:

  • Having a sinus infection that has not gone away in 7 days and with the use of 72 hours of antibiotics.(true life)
  • Menopause, period, hormones. (true life)

SOS. Splash some water on me,

Keren Rw/ H

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Enormous Bathroom Key, a short story by John Cheever (*)

Friday afternoon I decided to take the train into Center City and walk to a cafe in Old City to do some writing, reading, and blog layout editing. It took me about 23 and 1/2 minutes to walk from Market East/Gallery station to 2nd St and Chestnut, the location of an artsy coffee shop called Doubleshots Espresso Bar. By the time I got there, I was "glowing" (as my boyfriend would call it, because girls don't "sweat").

I immediately ordered a Medium Iced Chai Latte, and the super skinny Asian transgender behind the bar whipped it up in about 2 seconds. I kid you not. 2 Seconds! I've never had a latte come to me that quickly.

So I sat around for a while staring at a blank page in MS Word, chatting with various people, watching the group of high school boys who were having some sort of computer geek club meeting play chess while having the meeting. And I also witnessed a first date set up by eHarmony! Whoa, were the sparks flying awkwardly.

And then, I felt the need to pee. If Keren were here, she'd be making fun of me saying that I'm a pee machine. I pee more than most people, but exactly how many times is appropriate for someone who makes sure she gets all 8 glasses of H2O.

Not only did it require packing up all my belongings, because I didn't really feel comfortable asking anyone in there to watch my things, but it also required me to traverse a hallway in the back, then traverse back to the bookshelf in the main room to retrieve the BATHROOM KEY.

It was so embarrassing! I've never been more embarrassed by going to the bathroom publicly than I was in that moment. The thing attached to the key was a piece of railing! Like one of the posts holding up a banister along a flight of stairs, like a big decorative wooden post!

So I had to spend a few more moments in the bathroom to take pictures of this monstrous key to show you all how ridiculous this was.

(*) In case you don't get the title, it's a play on the John Cheever story "The Enormous Radio"... yes, I'm a dork.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Frito Bandito

My undergraduate thesis advisor is most likely right when he "supposes, because this image played such a large role in the televisual upbringing of the architects of Senate Bill 1070, it is the only one they can conjure."

Some context: Arizona recently passed a law (in effect on July 29th) making it a crime if a person is not carrying immigration documents and they are suspected to be an illegal immigrant. The NY Times sums it up better than I can do:

"The law, which proponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status."

Next week I'm on my way out to the state responsible for potentially setting a trend in border state laws. Zack de la Rocha started a boycott in AZ, discouraging other musicians from performing in the state until successful legal action against the bill takes place. So far, however, no legal attacks against it have been successful... both sides of the argument seem to believe the other side is acting unconstitutionally.

Anyway, I thought the video was interesting seeing, as my professor points out, that the commercial aired while the people who made the law were growing up....

Being Joblessly Successful

Magazines and newspapers often feature articles about How To Be Successful in Your Job or How To Get The Boss To Notice You.

I say... whatever. I want to know how to be joblessly successful.

So far, I think I've been extremely successful, and it's been about two years since I've had a job. Technically, it's been about two weeks, because I did get hired at a cafeteria in a nursing home, but then quit the next morning so I could see my childhood home one more day.*

I've spent some time today thinking about how I've been able to achieve this state of unemployment. I feel kind of like a real life Kramer; I do odd jobs every now and then for some cash, I don't live with my parents, and well... that's about as far as it goes.

My philosophy about being joblessly successful involves a few innate attributes, without which you may not be able to move on to the skills section of my philosophy. Those innate attributes are 1) being more intelligent than most Americans, and 2) being mildly attractive when it counts.

The first is not very difficult. I don't mean to be rude, and of course I love all sorts of dumb people. But most people are dumb. I don't consider this an insult, because "dumb" includes some very successful, very nice, very fun and charismatic people. However, being smart and mildly attractive when it counts can allow you to make the right decisions when it comes to being jobless.

For instance, I have been able to continue my education for 5 years after graduating from high school, and I will be continuing it for sure for another year at least. After next year, I may or may not have a job at a college or university. Those kinds of jobs only require you to work during class, office hours, and only in the fall, winter and spring. Hardly the winter either, because you get a whole month (or longer in some cases) off. Is that really having a job? Technically.

You can't achieve that many years of post H S school if you don't have some brains.

And if you aren't mildly attractive, it makes things like dating and flirting more difficult, and we all know the key to a free meal, free movie, free drink(s) or whatever (i.e. mini golf, vacations, gasoline) is making people want to purchase those things for you.

This also means you have to be a pleasant person. No one wants to buy things for bitches. This however, is not an innate attribute, but rather a skill. It's most definitely a skill, because I know some people who have consciously perfected both the art of bitchiness and the art of pleasantries.

When people want to spend time with you, they want to spend on you. Another for instance: This summer I have lined up a trip to Yuma, two weeks at the beach, a week on the Massachusetts coast, three days in Montreal, and three days on a lake in Maine. All for FREEEEEE.

Who has time for jobs when I have so many vacations planned? I consider my summer plans a complete and utter success... however none of this could happen if I buckled down and hit the streets with a folder full of resumes and a big PR smile on my face.

This brings me to one last element of my philosophy: That is, creating the illusion of job seeking. Phrases to be uttered in the creation of this deception: "I've put out like a million applications."

"No one's hiring."

"Obama's screwing everything up in this country; did you hear his jobs report last week?"

"People with MBA's are working as janitors now. How am I supposed to get a job as a server if everyone's got PhD's!?"

I pass on this information to you, and hopefully it isn't too late for you to be joblessly successful. Perhaps all of this advice is coming about 20 years too late... perhaps I'm only like this because since the age of 4 my dream in life was to be a college student. I think only a kid with that dream could grow up to be jobless and successful. That's what college is all about.

I gotta go... gotta continue my search for jobs in Philly.

Warm regards,


P.S. The guy in this photo is working waaaay too hard to find a job. That's what I call actually wanting a job, rather than wanting to give the impression of wanting a job.

*Clarifying Endnote: My parents recently moved out of the home my siblings and I grew up in. They moved down the street on to the 18th green of a golf course.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Movie Theater Strategy

Cue Annie:

Popcorn is delicious; salty, buttery...but it is not discreet. Very crunchy, loud, stains the fingers. Also, since it is made on the spot, sometimes it's too hot, too cold, Goldilocks syndrome.

Raisinets are amazing because they feign being healthy and you do not feel so awful chowing down on them. They are a classic movie theater food, made with no articificial ingredients, and from homegrown California Raisins. Yay for classic Americana. Reminds me of childhood and warm, fuzzy feelings. Same goes for Goobers. Snocaps fall into this classic catergory and have the added benefit of being made from dark chocolate and lasting the whole movie (so many little small morsels!) However, they all melt much too easily.

My next snack of interest are Twizzlers. I mean, they double as a straw. Imagine drinking your $5.75 Medium coke through a STRAWBERRY SUGAR STICK. What a confectionery delight. These vertical snacks are also highly shareable. Alas, they are wrapped in some of the loudest packaging known to man.

My local cinema recently added Hot Dogs, Soft Pretzels, and Chicken Fingers to their menu. Listen, you me, that is carnival and festival cuisine. I understand that the movie theater/carnival crowd often overlaps on food but I do not want you eating an entire entree during my movie. This is not The Complete Unedited Digitally Enhanced Nine Hour Lord of the Rings Trilogy, wherein I will allow you to eat an entire dinner service. This is snack time. Leave your hotdogs out of my theater.

Believe it or not, some moviegoers use food as a distraction for tense, suspenseful, emotional, or scary plots. Munching on comfort food helps them get through the anxious, terrifying, desperate roller coaster. It also helps as an excuse not to make out with someone on a first date. "Bobby, can't you see I'm drinking Cherry Cola through a Twizzler straw?"

Lets look at caloric intake:

Large Buttered Popcorn (20 cups): 1500 calories, 116g fat, 90g carbs
Hot Dog (1 dog with bun): 305 calories, 4.5g fat, 23g carbs
Nachos with Cheese (large, 4 oz): 1101 calories, 59g fat, 131.5g carbs
Soft Pretzel (large): 483 calories, 4.5g fat, 99g carbs
Junior Mints (3 oz): 320 calories, 5g fat, 68g carbs

But wait, there's lots more,

Milk Duds (3 oz): 340 calories, 12g fat, 56g carbs
Sno-Caps (3.1 oz): 360 calories, 16g fat, 60g carbs
Raisinets (3.5 oz): 380 calories, 16g fat, 64g carbs
Gummi Bears (4 oz): 390 calories, 0g fat, 90g carbs
Goobers (3.5 oz): 525 calories, 35g fat, 55g carbs
Twizzlers (6 oz): 600 calories, 4g fat, 136g carbs
M&M's (5.3 oz): 735 calories, 31.5g fat, 105g carbs
Skittles (6.75 oz): 765 calories, 9g fat, 166.5g carbs
Reese's Pieces (8 oz): 1200 calories, 60g fat, 138g carbs
Starburst (24 pieces): 480 calories, 10.5g fat, 99g carbs
Coca-Cola with ice(ice having no calories but being necessary to include) (large, 3 pints, 18.9 fl oz): 353 calories, 0g fat, 88.4g carbs

So, in the end water is the way to go. Obviously.

Glug Glug (water drinking sound),

Keren rhymes w/ Heron

Monday, June 7, 2010

Carpentry? I must be a deity!

Today I made a table with 4 legs, 11 nails, 7 pieces of splintered wood (1 pre-painted), and sundry tools. Tomorrow, I conquer Carthage.

My day began this morning with fatigue and menstrual cramps, but will end with high energy and, well, probably more cramps. My secret? Involuntary manic behavior once begun can overcome any anti-productive lethargy. Even if that lethargy is the result of no sleep for 48 hours. Of course, you have to have some sort of mental disorder to achieve the results found in this blog post study.

In my refrigerator right now is a pineapple souffle I made this morning. I used a whole pineapple I bought at Reading Terminal on Friday and crushed it myself in order to make the souffle today. While letting it cool, I browsed the internet for Home Depot's weekly in store specials!

At this point, I realized how dumb I am. And how I'm like 90 years old at the age of 23, but that's fine. Being 90 is actually a good time. I rarely suffer from hangovers, and I have yet to acquire some incurable STD, let alone a curable one.

Then again, a few weeks ago I woke up the morning after a wedding and threw up the entire contents of my stomach, including such treasures I didn't know I had consumed such as a sticker from a piece of fruit. I'm guessing it was a piece of fruit, but I didn't remember eating fruit at all, so maybe it was a sticker from something else.

The point is that I was eating fruit. 90 year olds often eat fruit. It's just there thing.

This week at HD, you can buy good potting soil for about 6 dollars when it was originally about 8. You can also buy 4 perrenial plants (in 6 in containers) for $10.

Good deal. Good deal.

There are the downs to being ninety, such as: the coupling of stubbornness and general inability.

I experienced this nasty coupling today while building a table. Perhaps you are wondering: "why are you building a table?" My answer: 1) I haven't the money for buying a table; there are no specials at HD this week for those, and 2) I had the materials to build one.

As I stated first, my materials involved pieces of scrap wood from the garage-- NOTICIA: JUICE, do not worry! I did not use any scrap wood that would cause you to be unable to finish the molding in your house. I basically tried to nail a bunch of wood to the sides of a larger piece of wood before standing it up to see if it was capable of holding things.

The first time, it wasn't.

Because of the mania I was experiencing, I did end up finishing a table that works as a table, but I thought to myself: "Maybe Jesus felt like this... carpentry, outside, planting things." Good times. Good times.

That was basically all I was getting to with this post. In addition to making a table, I also planted a tomato plant, a hydrangea bush, emptied the cat litter, made cookies (because I ate the rest of the cookies that Juice usually eats for breakfast... Sorry, menstrual cravings...), and I am sure that the rest of my day will be filled with many little, braggable accomplishments.

Of course, my table can hardly stand. So perhaps I am less than a deity and more like just crazy and in need of a job.

Peace, Love, and Planting,

Leah, Wife of Jacob

Wrong Side of the Bed.

Well, it's only 11:09 in the a.m. so I can hardly say I am having a terrible day yet. A full 24 hours of terrible have yet to happen, however, this is what I can say:

1. I woke up to my air conditioner spewing some sort of toxic sludge onto me.
2. The coffee I had earned through customer loyalty, 15 stamps on a card, was destroyed
(see 3).
3. The elevator I take up to the fourth floor of my office building, prematurely closed on me, has no "door open button", and so hit my wrist swiftly causing me to drop, ney, fling my coffee cup.
4. Said coffee cup subsequently flew up my skirt and burned my thighs, and soaked my underwear.
5. I have my period.
6. Pad I was wearing absorbed coffee I am sitting in a hot, coffee, genital mattress.
7. Because I was running late for work I had to settle for a smoothie of pre-macerated, pre-chewed, once whole fruits. We are not allowed anything but drinks at the office desks.
8. While cleaning up said coffee spill in the bathroom, looking in the mirror and realizing I have a pimple smack-dab square in the middle of my forehead.

These are the 8 occurrences, in the three hours I have been awake, that lead me to believe this is going to be Keren and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

How do you get yourself out of a funk?

Le Sigh,

Another Introduction, Moving to AZ.

Y'all met Emilene. She is apparently funny, and hates small talk. I, on the other hand, love small talk. So much so that I decided to introduce a man named Juice. This picture is of him when he was in Guatemala, suffering from severe food poisoning. If I remember correctly from what the picture-taker said, this photo was taken minutes after Juice evacuated the rest of his digestive system by all pathways for the last time before he felt well enough to slaughter the cow in the background and get sick again from eating that.

From time to time I will be referring to Juice in personal anecdotes, both fictional and nonfictional, so I figured I better introduce him now. I give my readers license to assume whatever they will about Juice and me... perhaps we are bf-gf. Or maybe we're ltbf-ltgf. Or maybe he's just my sex pot who does whatever I tell him to. I shrug my shoulders and smile at you, reader.

Also... I almost did not put up the picture of him in guatemala, because it makes him seem really interesting and adventurous. On paper, he does appear this way. He's traveled all over the Middle East, including Afghanistan where he and the Picture-Taker narrowly escaped being kidnapped. I guess it wasn't that narrow. They witnessed a man on the street outside the hostel where they stayed being dragged into a van.

Again, this makes him seem cultured. He is not! Firstly, he is a miser. By miser I really mean misanthrope. He hates people. The motivations behind his adventures all relate to his enormous ego, the Picture-Taker's rusing, and Juice's inability to not take a bet.

I was going to go on in this post about yesterday's fiasco at Juice's dad's birthday party, but perhaps that is bordering on not small talk, and I opened the post saying that I would stick to an introduction.

Oh yeah... I'm moving to Arizona soon because Juice is moving there, and I'm the kind of girl who follows Juice anywhere. My biggest question: What are the latest fashions in AZ? I googled "what to wear in arizona" and 9 out of every 10 results dealt with wedding dresses in Arizona... I don't know what that's about!

Friday, June 4, 2010

The problem with small talk

The easiest problem to identify with small talk is quite simple: everyone hates it. I don't know a single person that would enjoy making endless remarks about "the weather," "how different you look," "how different the weather looks," "how long it's been since we saw each other," or any combination such as:

"how different we saw each other once"
"how long it's been since we've seen the weather"
"how different we looked when we last saw each other in this weather"
"what different weather we long ago saw each other in"

And countless others. And yet, we all do it. And we all do it in the same way; with a pleasant smile, a higher tone than we usually use, an air of absolute optimism, and a ticking clock barely moving in our brain-- assessing when we can get the fuck out of there.

So- why do we do it?

It seems that we do it out of respect to others- its a societal convention that's demanded of us if we don't want to appear rude or disrespectful to the neighbor you barely know and see three times a year when you're home in Macy's in the clearance department. And yet, if all of us really hate it- aren't we being cruel to inflict such mind-numbing suffering on others?

I think we are.

I think the world would be a shit-ton (a quantifiable and legitimate unit of measurement) better if we all stopped bullshitting each other. A simple hey, or head nod is good enough. You acknowledge that I exist and I do the same- why do we need anything more??

Now clearly, I 'm not talking about good friends or even regular friends or people you sorta like from a distance (I mean that in the least creepy way possible). I am talking about people you barely know- names you search for and figure out ways not to say because you're not sure if its right. Old neighbors, old but no longer connected friends, old people in general. The cashier, the bank teller, just fucking people. Because here's the thing, I don't care about:

1) your daughter's baby (ps, you look a little young to be having a daughter who's having a kid)
2) the weather
3) what Jeff is doing these days
4) That Ashley's in jail (ok, I do want to know about this- so small talk rules don't apply here)
5) What the fuck you're doing over the weekend
6) The weather.

Now, I realize I may seem rude, but it's really out of my utmost respect for the human race. I want you to be able to get your shit done and be with the people you really want to be with rather than spending valuable time talking to me about shit I'm not caring about or listening to.

So, hello Ducks and What They Do readers- I'm Emilene and it's nice to meet you.

Now go the fuck out and be with the people you care about. I hope we will never need further introductions.

Also, if you ever hear me talk about the weather- send me a stink bomb in the mail.

Lap Tops?! Pshht. Pulease. (Live)

Desktops are totally cool. AND portable. I currently am watching this guy (or kid? It's hard to tell.) surf the web on his desktop computer... IN BORDERS BOOKSTORE. He has the monitor, the keyboard, the mouse, and the tower all here.

Being a wuss, I am having a difficult time getting up the pluck to take a photo of him, but I did get a picture of his work station when he got up to use the bathroom. Although the photo doesn't show this, on the chair next to him, he placed a small vase (most likely plastic) with fake flowers in it. At his feet, he has a gym bag full of clothes. From my angle it appears to be full of folded dress shirts.

Without telling you that I am pretty sure this guy is mentally challenged, I'd like to ask: what are the pros and cons of the lap top versus the desk top in a public wifi area???

1. No one steals a desk top. You could leave your post for hours, and come back to find your machine as you left it.

2. In a similar vein: "Excuse me? Um, do you think you could watch my stuff for a sec?" says the wary lap top owner to a big scary man who grunts a response you hope means yes. The web surfer who brings his desk top to Borders never has to engage is awkward human-human communication. And isn't that the point of being on your computer in Borders in the first place? You automatically look busy when you're on a computer, even if you're just looking up all the different hair cuts Jessica Simpson has ever had.

1. Desk tops may or may not be heavy.

2. People may or may not stare at you if you lug your desk top into a bookstore, especially if you're like this guy I'm looking at who has not purchased anything. In fact, it appears as if he is using books as if this were a library...

If my math is correct... +2 + -2 = 0 Then there really is no need to ogle at this man (for now I see he is no "kid") smartly googling images of Jay Z on his Dell.

Now I feel embarrassed for being seen with my 13" lap top.... oh. oh. no.



Photo Realism, Really.

Pictures from top to bottom: Diego Gravinese, Ralph Goings

It's a painting, based on a photo. The painting is realistic. So is the photo, naturally. And aren't all photos realistic? Or just the ones trying to do realism? Are all paintings realistic, or just the ones based on photographs?

It's a genre I do not quite understand and that's why I think it is enticing! Let's think about it:

Photorealism the style of painting that is primarily based on using cameras, and subsequent photographs, to procure highly detailed, visible information. From these snapshots, the artist creates a painting creates a painting that is so hyper realistic that the eye believes, at first, that is could only be a photograph. But alas, Aha! It's NOT a photograph. In fact, it is highly detailed, almost pixelated art work. Photorealist painting cannot exist without the camera. It could not have been invented without this technology. Photorealism, usually, captures VERY mundane situations, forcing the audience to reexamine the situation from a new vantage point. It is almost like the artist gave us, new glasses, with a prescription that had never existed before he invented it. I like the idea of using a new technology to enhance an old art form. How else could something old become new again? Let us ponder; perhaps:
  • Using the structure of a wooden horse-and-buggy to pimp your new ride?
  • Hooking up an Mp3 player to a Jukebox? Reviving the old sockhop?
  • Using weird, new, moon minerals and mars rocks for sculpting
  • Knitting a spaceship?
  • ....Starrpoint, an avid art blogger, says: "Photorealistic paintings are more real that a photo. Photos, as good as they are, have a certain flatness, a shallow depth of field, and lack of detail, that the photorealistic paintings do not have. ... In most cases, they are more 'real' than real."

    What the heck is more 'real' than 'real'? Why not just take a photograph? Isn't the artist essentially re-capturing what has already been captured? Whatever it is, it is so postmodern it's practically a meta commentary on a commentary. So many layers, like a fucking Vidalia onion, it's SWEET!

    Now you know.

    Keren Rhymes/w Heron
  • The Great Abilities of Strays

    This little number here is a dumpster kitty. HER name is Felix. My boyfriend, before he knew me, assumed most cats were male when he saved her from the dumpster across the alley in back of the house and named her that. But oh my goodness, isn't she cute?

    The other day my mom came to Philly all the way from Lancaster to drop off a few items for me, i.e. a rolling pin, an industrial sized stapler, and a tiffany style lamp. She knocks on the front door as Felix and I are sitting in the living room. Felix, like all cats, tenses and strains her ears in the direction of the front door. I get up and open the door. My mom walks in. Felix freaks out, and her claws slip all over the wood floors as she runs upstairs for her life!

    She does this every time someone comes into the house. The first month I was living here, she did this when I came in. But running away from my mother made me think about humans as cats...

    Get THIS: A guy in his late twenties/early thirties who exhibits house cat behavior.

    When his girlfriend's mother comes into the house, he scurries upstairs and hides under the bed.

    On nice days, he sits on the window sill and scratches himself.

    At night, he sleeps on top of his girlfriend's head and practically suffocates her with his hairy body. And when this doesn't wake her up, he starts shaking his legs... most likely not from trying to reach an itch on his back, but perhaps from Restless Leg Syndrome?

    He's afraid of the vacuum cleaner, but follows around the swiffer while his girlfriend traps dust, dirt, and hair in the microfiber disposable Swiffer pads everyone has come to love.

    When he wants to relax, he does not move from his spot, even if his girlfriend tries to shove him out of the way by sitting on his tail.

    When there is a fly buzzing around, he goes crazy trying to catch it, but when he does catch it, he lets it go so he can catch it again.

    When his girlfriend sprinkles catnip along the kitchen floor, he gets really excited and rolls around in it.

    When his cat, named Kitten, gets in his way, he claws at her and runs around the house knocking things over.

    Sometimes, his girlfriend thinks he wants to eat her the way that he looks at her and starts slowly sniffing her feet, legs, and arms.

    When his girlfriend opens the windows, he forgets about the screen, and runs, leaps, and tries to escape from the house through the window only to fail miserably and whine about it for half an hour.

    Anyway, maybe it's only funny to me.... Or maybe I'm like really lame for even thinking cats are funny in the first place.

    Oh my God... I am NOT turning into one of those lame lame people who are obsessed with cats. But maybe I am. Maybe this is a result of not yet securing a summer job. Perhaps this is what the consequence for being lazy is... lame lazy feline lovers lay lethargically all day long.