April 28, 2004

Along the Shit-Stuff Continuum

So my current quandary involves my stuff.

Supply lines are getting longer and harder to maintain, as George Carlin would have it.

It’s not like I’ve accumulated worthwhile furniture, grand pianos, objets d’art, ect. But even a simmering reduction of my assorted trifles leaves me with a small pool of necessary tchotchkes. It’s a question of comfort rather than necessity; strange boughs and thous I am prepared to seek, but my own familiar wine jugs, verse books, and bread-making implements I am determined to drag with me into this grand venture. Some of this is pure consumer avidity: I’ve a few pots and pans and shiny chrome kitchen gadgets received as gifts or hand-me-downs which I am unlikely to be able to afford to replace on my own. But more so it’s pure nostalgia and wistfulness. I am awfully sentimental about books, in particular: a groaning bookshelf’s like a stamp-choked passport, and merely turning over a fly-leaf is sufficient transport for a return visit.

Obstinate as I am in my desire to cling to my stuff, you’d think my requirements would not be so very arduous: a few boxes of books, some kitchen junk, clothes and the odd photo album. And there’s where you’d be wrong. Because between the per passenger luggage allotment on an international flight and a packed shipping container ready to be craned onto a tanker, there is, in the international moving industry, a yawning gulf. After much googling, and a few, gasp, phone calls, I managed to find a few international shippers who’d take allotments of less than a semi-load, for what seemed to me to be reasonable prices. (I’ve noticed that people my age, and I am one of the worst examples, are somehow offended when they can’t find something online ---- What do you mean you don’t have a website? You’re a gas station, for god’s sake! How else am I to find out whether you have double-a batteries in stock? In part it’s our mollycoddling-born, woollyheaded understanding of the internet as the repository of all worthwhile human knowledge --- sorry, Unca Cecil --- but I think it’s also a matter of trust, of feeling that seeing a place of business’ website gives you a solid piece of evidence by which to evaluate them. And it does, I think; at the very least it shows you whether they have enough cash to hire professional and competent designers, and the kind of image they want to project.)

But then, I found this site, movingscam.com. I think their motto is “Founded by the Bitter,” and they’re just a leetle paranoid about the moving industry. Specifically, they advise letting stringent preparations, vigorous research, and bone-deep suspicion be your guides in selecting a mover. They don’t go quite so far as to recommend the you bring a wreath of garlic and a vial of holy water when you introduce yourself to the van lines representative, but it’s possible I wasn’t sufficiently thorough in reading the F.A.Q. The site is quite useful, but it’s also scared me shitless --- as horror stories about having your stuff held hostage in a foreign port on pain of thousands of dollars ransom probably ought to do.

This leaves FedEx or U.P.S., neither of which, as best I can ascertain, offer ground (i.e., cheap) transport cross the pond. Unfortunately, airmail presents a serious problem for me, namely that I probably won’t have an apartment to put my stuff in if arrives in country only a couple of days after I do. I could leave it here, I suppose, and depend on friends to ship it off to me after I give them the all-clear. My roommates have kindly offered to perform this feat, and while I have perfect faith in them, I retain a nagging fear of something going wrong in the handoff --- misunderstood directions, mysterious surcharges --- and being an ocean away and unable to fix the problem.

A friend-of-a-friend I’ve heard tell of tossed her stuff into a couple of footlockers and shipped it off parcel post; this is the option to which I am, in my despair, currently inclined. Despite a vivid memory I retain of being stuck in traffic next to a parked mail truck, watching its denizen heave packages off its shelves and, literally, kick them to the curb. Heave. Thump. Smash. Heave. Thump. Smash.

Hmmm. Y’know, there’s something to be said for that final refinement, the absolute distillation, as dahling George puts it, “Only the stuff you know you're gonna need”:

“Money, keys, comb, wallet, lighter, hanky, pen, smokes, rubber and change.”

Maybe I should just add lipstick and a passport and call it a day.

Posted by Diablevert at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2004

I'm restless.

Naw, really? I know. A chick who notes boredom as one of the main motivators in moving to another country gets an occasional case of the stir-crazies. But I'm more intellectually bored, I think; I keep bouncing around from site to site, needlessly, hoping to read something somewhere that satisfies some need in me. A need of spark, perhaps; I think I'm procrastinating, and the only thing I have to procrastinate about is you, dear blog.

I want to write something highly entertaining and witty and informative. Unfortunately, I've been doing nothing but working and fretting. Work, fret, work, fret, check my calendar and see that it's 46 days until I quit, another handful until I leave. Fret about that. I have a few ideas for future posts. So that's cool. Tonight, however, nothing strikes. And so I search, clickety-clickety, for something that will entice and involve and enrage me enough to strike spark from the dull, dull grey flint of my brain.

As you can see from the above, ess no working so good.

Sigh. I seem to be finding it difficult to write entertainingly about having no inspiration.

Maybe I'll just go home and watch Barton Fink. Then curl up in a fetal position and stare numbly at the wall.

(John Goodman is scary.)

Posted by Diablevert at 11:08 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2004

The Post Recumbent

So the case I was on --- billing 70 or 80 hours a week --- settled last minute. We went out drinking on the company dime --- always the best way, I find. Then we decided to keep on drinking on our own dimes. This entailed a transition from a softly-lit, mahogany-accented, gartered-bartender restaurant/grill to a place on 9th Avenue called the Electric Banana.

I really ought to just leave it there, lest in describing it further you get an accurate impression of its mild skeeziness instead of fervidly picturing the fabulously depraved slum-hole the name implies. Suffice it to say that there was nary a spangled pasty in sight, although there was a jukebox chock-a-bloc with classic rock and some month-old shamrock balloons gently deflating over the bar.

I spent yesterday nursing a vicious hangover. In fact, frankly, I still kind of feel shitty. So I must leave until tomorrow my joyful rededication to your amusement.

Today is my wan rededication to your amusement.

Posted by Diablevert at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2004

Spittin' Cross the Pond

I watch a lot of BBC America.

I'm not proud. Certainly not as proud as those smug bastards they have on the BBC America commercials: "Hi, my name is Lauren, and unlike the glassy-eyed mouth-breathers who've spent 10 years stretched on tenterhooks over whether Ross will, finally, really, no, I swear to god, this time, get together with Rachel; unlike the Bob-Sagat-employing cretins who can't recognize a joke that doesn't kick them in the nuts with a foot covered in banana cream; unlike, that is, those half-a-chromosome-away-from-the-monkey-house mullet-lovin' slack-jaws that populate the vast wasteland they dare call my country, I am a BBC American."

(Yeah, marketing department? I enjoy The Office. My choices in basic cable viewing do not imply a droit de seigneur to sneer at my countrymen, nor a desire to do so.)

But I rather like my makeover pap in the original; the British versions of TLC's schedule seem to leaven their shrill enthusiasm with a fair bit of dry understatement and bashfulness, and the addition of these crucial ingredients is like unto dropping jigger of gin and a spot of brandy into a Shirley Temple, thereby transforming it into a Singapore Sling.

Particularly Trinny and Susannah, the original What Not to Wear chicks, who seem to grasp that there exists a whole "…which is a shame, because in reality you're very attractive and deserve to look great," codicil to "That hideous rag makes you look fat, old, short, wrinkled, and none too bright." The American hosts don’t seem to grasp that bit, and come off as harsh, even cruel, rather than frank. Not to mention that, given straw and a spinning wheel, their output seems mostly to consist of slightly glossier straw.

But, mind-numbing pap though they be, BBC America's rotation of home & garden numbers has managed to provoke a couple of questions on my part:

1. What the fuck is up with your fireplaces? I was under the impression that this was Europe, incubator of antiques. Y'alls shit is supposed to be old. So what the hell is up with those little rectangles y'all mark out on the living room wall, as if to suggest, "This is where a fireplace would have been, at one point in time. If you sit and stare at the wall for a while, imagining very very veddy hard, you may begin to think you feel a slight warmth." Is there a fireplace there? Is this just supposed to act as some sort of frame for your radiators? There's often an electric radiator plugged into the wall inside the frame. Why do you want to attract attention to your ugly-ass electric radiators, if I may ask? If the frame is there to mark out an actual fireplace hidden behind the wall, I'm even more befuddled. If you think fireplaces are neat --- we do, here, they cost a shitload extra in an apartment or a house, even more if you can actually burn wood in 'em ---- why not knock out the hole so you can see it? Surely the radiator can be moved elsewhere --- it has a plug. If you think fireplaces are primitive relics of another age or whatnot, and put up walls to hide them --- why frame the goddamn things? It's like filling in the pit and leaving the outhouse box standing.

2. Why do you hire Americans to yell at you? You're perfectly comfortable with having your fellow Britons sneer at you (*cough*Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen*cough*) but for yelling, you turn to us? Actually, yelling is a poor choice of words on my part; admonish is closer. But a peculiar kind of hand-holding admonishment. See, there's these two new shows, "The House Doctor," and "The Life Laundry." (Neither are really very good.) Each centers on the idea of bringing in an outside expert to evaluate your lifestyle and force you to accept change --- the former in order to help people trying to sell their homes keep prospective buyers from running screaming out the door, the latter intended to prevent junior Collyer brothers from suffocating in a landslide of their own junk. You might say, well, What Not to Wear has the same outside expert admonishment thing going on, and that's British. True. But What Not to Wear is marked by combativeness, bluntness --- the hosts no-nonsense, the subjects feisty. Whereas with these two shoes, the approach is far more, "There, there. We know what's best. Now, just settle down and help me put the stuffed bird collection away, Mrs. Perkins, and maybe we can introduce you into general pop." The desired effect on the subject is less, "Damn, I look good," and more, "I have been healed." Let me quote from some of the hosts' own websites:

"[House Doctor Ann Maurice's] most recent interior design project is a studio garden flat conversion in San Francisco. It is quite modern with a "Pacific Rim" influence…a hint of Zen-like features and ecological consciousness, reflecting her growing interest in Feng Shui and the 'Healthy Home'….She has earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan, studied Interior Design at the University of California and is a graduate of the Colour Research Institute of America."


"[The Life Laundry's] Dawna Walter On Why People Hoard…'We have so many failed dreams that we don't let go of that prevent us from moving forward. There's the man that has assembled bits and pieces of computers thinking he is going to build a super computer. Trust me, it's never going to happen. The old appliances that you are going to get around to fixing – it never happens. Clutter holds you back from actually releasing you from things you really don't want to do anymore. We change in our lives and it's important to acknowledge that we can change…'"

Do you hear this shit? Do you see? You, whose home-grown advice experts are famous for their stern astringence ---- You secretly long to be swept up in the whole therapeutic California crunchy granola healing crystal Feng Shui Scientology plastic fantastic self-help Dr. Phil permanent self improvement is an airport paperback away (so choose carefully) zeitgeist, doncha? You pack of stiff-upper-lip eccentrics! You, who have infested our theaters for years now with your purportedly charming quirks! So much so that Naked Ugly English People has become a recognized subgenre of film!

Bloody hell.

Posted by Diablevert at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2004

Fresno Famous, Baby

I have made such sport of Fresno over the years of our friendship that it is but very slight repayment to offer up this link to my friend Bea Dodong: www.fresnofamous.com. Of course, as an attempt a repentence it only looks worse the more you pursue it, since the site clearly quite cool and I'd be linking to it in any case. Fresno Famous, baby. It's the only way to be.

(Put the bags up Bea, so I can tell people to buy the bags. People: The bags are swank! They are made of cool old textboks like The Officer's Handbook and Anatomy of Man! They have ample cell phone room and well-pinked interiors!)

Posted by Diablevert at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2004

It's nice to know that someone out there's still bitter

Just saw my first 90s nostalgia piece. Of the morning, anyway.

It's true that saying the words "Jordan Catalano" will produce a wistful smile in women of a certain age, myself included, but ...it was cancelled. It was ten years ago. We need to let it go.

Oh, fine, just go read the recaps and quit bothering me. Crazy kids.

Posted by Diablevert at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2004

This Is Just to Say That I Suck

My job had been rather busy the past few days. Busy as in I left my house at 9 in the morning and returned to it at 2 in the morning. It looks likely to continue at about the same pace for the next, say, month. So my postings may be a little sporadic. Which I'm sure will be a big disappointment to all three of you.

But, you must know by now how I long to murmer sweet blather in your cybernetic ears. So there will be some postings! And I shall return! Don't cry for me, Argentina!

Posted by Diablevert at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)