Tuesday, August 31, 2010
It was all because of the Year of Yes. Suddenly there was a tweet about a "semi-secret" show at 11pm that Friday. I saw where it was going to be and concluded it was a small venue. I assumed the price would be way out of my range and the tickets would be sold out. But, thanks to the Year of Yes, I clicked. The tickets were $39 and I bought 2 right away, even though I didn't have anyone lined up to go with me. Turns out I could have bought 5 or 6 and I would easily have filled the seats.
This particular theatre at 45 Bleecker holds just over 300 people. A pretty big center section was reserved for friends of the talent. After picking up our tickets, having a coffee, getting back in line, waiting 30 minutes, shuffling in, we got seats just behind that friends section. So, he couldn't actually sweat on us but, if he'd turned just right and paid attention he could have returned my adoring glances (read: stalker stare).
About 15 minutes after we sat down he came on. There was no intro, no fanfare, he sort of snuck on stage and said hello. He wore what I'm getting used to as his uniform these days of jeans, tee shirt, blue blazer and fancy men's lace up leather shoes. He does wear the ever loving bejesus out of a blue blazer, I'll say that.
Understand first that I study stand up. I don't investigate it formally but I absolutely get off on watching a comedian and seeing the mechanics of what someone is doing as well as enjoying the pure entertainment value of it. Watching Ron White on TV was the first time I realized that, without an opening act, a comedian will do a series of short form jokes to get the audience rolling before launching in to any long form story telling. When I bought these tickets I'd already surmised that Izzard was doing this gig because his current job, Race, was closing the following night and he wanted to get in an American stand up gig (how could he not have had people begging for such a thing the entire time he'd been here) and was warming up for a 3 night charity event in the UK at the end of September.
Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story. I have a better idea, though. Go see the movie. It's better than any summary I've ever written. Let it suffice to say that, having seen the documentary, I was looking forward to seeing if I could identify approximately where in his development process Izzard was with this material.
Anyway, blazer, shoes, mic, IZZARD and he gets started. It's that sort of plain getting-to-know-you conversational style he has where he doesn't draw breath for minutes at a time. He spent about 5 minutes talking about how New York City fucking lies about being the City That Never Sleeps as his warm up. (Dude, your litmus test was going to Gristede's at midnight? Let's aim higher.) Then he sort of introduces himself like, "So, if you don't know me I usually talk about, you know, history and stuff but I know it's late and New York actually does sleep so I'll try to keep it to an hour."
This bit is unintentional hilarity for two reasons. First off it's a show populated by folks that, from what I can tell, had to be following him on Twitter to get a ticket. But secondly, and more importantly, is because he didn't know how Kath & I (and the 5 people in line around us) spent our 30 minutes waiting on the street to get in. The people of New York (when not sleeping) hate to miss out on stuff. They see a line and the get a twinge, needing to know if they ought to be in it. Fully half the passers by stopped and asked us what we were waiting for. (The other half asked where they should go to pick up their tickets.) Inevitably our reply of "Eddie Izzard" was met with "Who's that?" And, really, how do you explain Eddie Izzard? "British comedian." "Cross dresser.""The only transvestite for whom I regularly pee my pants." Eventually Kath started us making up better answers. "Elvis." "Wings. Without Paul McCartney." "Justin Bieber." The people in the room knew who he was. Boy did we know.
After that superfluous introduction he embarked on the highest speed 75 minutes of history via high comedy I think any of us had ever seen. There was religion, politics, dinosaurs, love, primordial ooze, a meteor, I mean, seriously, something for everyone. Kath said afterward that he doesn't, really, do the kind of jokes where you guffaw. It's a rare belly laugh at an Izzard show. (How does that feel when you're on stage? Is it disconcerting? How do you know when you're winning?) He's smart. And he assumes we are, too. Not as smart as him, of course, otherwise he wouldn't have to explain all this shit, but smart. And he moves at the speed of sound. Holy Mary, does he! If you love what he's saying you don't want to miss anything so you keep your laughter quiet and basically just grab hold and ride him bareback hoping you don't slip off in the middle and miss the best part.
Well, that took a turn for a totally different scenario I envision with Eddie Izzard. Sigh.
If my scrutiny yields correct results he's in the middle stages of developing this material. The transitions aren't perfect but you can see which bits really rock right now. The very simple toe stubbing physical comedy for his explanation of how the stone age came about has that perfect timing of his and leaves your mouth just gaping open. The Charlie Chaplinism of the bit is funny but the observational joke makes you think, "Well, shit, how did we not realize this earlier?"
Ryan Stiles, Josie Lawrence, Craig Ferguson) but it's hard to imagine anyone being quite so smart, so fast and so committed to the long term arc of a show than Eddie Izzard.
So, yeah, I saw Eddie Motherfucking Izzard a couple of weeks ago. I wish you could have been there. Maybe next time, though, 'cause I want more.
1. Jack Russell Terrier
2. Puggle (And by the way, thanks makers of puggles for those teeth. I suspect the unintentional hilarity will not make up for the required maintenance.)
3. Brussels Griffon
4. Paul's Uncle Phil from Mad About You (He enjoys a firm embrace. ["Firm embrace!"])
5. Tijuana Street Dog
6. Mexican Jumping Bean
7. Gold's Gym Enthusiast
10. The sound of the brakes on a 1979 Buick Skylark just before they fail completely
Monday, August 30, 2010
Today I texted the dog walker to let her know that I'd left the dog in his crate with two fans but no AC, would she please let me know if she thought he needed AC as the temps will continue to be high for a few days. I get texts instead of written notes with my dog walking because I can't wait until I get home to get my 2 sentence evaluation of Eddie's midday meetup. Did I mention that, while I have sprung for dog professional dog walking 5 days a week, I'm getting the cheapest/shortest walk there is. And yet I am THAT CLIENT, the high maintenance one. The one who adopts a dog while you're on your first vacation in two years and insists on getting him walked by your company.
Someone said to me this weekend, "Don't worry. Just focus on this time next month. It'll all be simpler and easier in a month." And I replied, quite honestly, "A month? Wow, I'm actually looking at this time next year. By then things will have evened out." He's a young dog, training is a slow process, why get my hopes up, you know? A month will be better but how much better? In a year we'll have a groove for sure and if we don't I'll have no one to blame but myself.
That being said he's a very good dog already. I really hope that someone isn't out there missing him and unable to find him, because I think they did put in a lot of time helping him to be a good citizen. He doesn't chew things he's not supposed to, he waits when told, he brings his leash when he wants to go for a walk, he doesn't jump up on people and, frankly, he's awfully good company.
The cats mileage may vary on that last one but even they seem to be softening toward the little ball of whine. Sure, they still hiss and swipe at him but their jabs seem perfunctory, they certainly aren't aimed to kill. I've gotten in the way of those before, they aren't pretty. His feelings aren't hurt. They can swipe and jab all they want, he'll still come back in a few minutes to see if they've changed their minds.
Waiting in line to get in to see Eddie Izzard a couple of weeks ago I had that pang you get. My brain whispered to me, "You should be ashamed of yourself leaving that poor new dog home alone. He gets lonely." I was in line to see Eddie Izzard, Eddie Motherfucking Izzard, and I still had that pang.
Which is why you'll never catch me making fun of someone who cries when they drop a kid off at school.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
A few little pieces of housekeeping.
You remember that I have another blog, right? It's called Kizz & Tell. There's a conversation starter on Mondays, a resource to share on Wednesdays and Fridays are for fiction! Not always safe for work but always a rollicking good time. Please spread the word!
Don't forget to remember the photo challenge. The prompt is SURPRISE so please surprise me by contributing a photo.
I have not forgotten the winners of the anniversary giveaway. I'm just slow as molasses. So, speaking of surprises, you winners should be pretty freaking surprised when your gift cards appear in the next week or so. Thank you so much for your patience.
And thanks for reading here, too, all of you. Every time a comment comes slipping into my inbox I'm grateful to hear what you have to say.
Video 1: The dog on approximately 2.5 hours of play and exercise per day. Not unbelievably strenuous, all outside exercise on leash, but focused on him for those hours.
Result: High strung, directed, quirky, happy companion animal. Kind of like your cousin who's super smart and nice but did re-enact Close Encounters of the Third Kind at Christmas dinner the year he was thirteen.
Video 2: The dog after 2 days of 4-5 10-20 minute walks per day, all on the short leash. No playing with other dogs, no stairs, no fetching.
Result: Chupacabra. Like the guy who sat behind you in Chemistry in High School and tried to cut your hair. With a blow torch.
Related pro-tip: When the chupacabra whirls into and out of your lap at the speed of panic that cone can nick your jugular. Apply pressure to the wound immediately.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
What's blowing your way these days?
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I have made it home with sad, pathetic, cone-of-shame dog. I can't keep from pouting as I type it. He's that sad and drugged out. His eyes are all glassy and he has a shallow hiccup-like cough that comes and goes. It's all normal but it sure does tug at the heart strings. As we crossed the courtyard to get to the apartment every pre-schooler playing after dinner asked, "What's on his HEAD?"
One of the good things about a blog is having a record that's easily searchable. So I'll let you know what went down for him today. The neutering went really well. The incision site looks just great, for an incision site. and it shouldn't need any attention. We go back for a wound check on the 4th. He needs to be kept quiet for seven days. Tonight that's easy. I have a feeling it's going to get less and less easy as the anesthesia leeches out of his body. He cannot work out how to adapt to the cone. As a rule he's an inveterate face rubber. This is really cramping his style. I spent a little time getting out of my work clothes and getting some food together before we sat down and every other step I got whacked in the leg with the cone because he couldn't get close enough to me. He's got anti-inflammatories he needs for 4 days starting tomorrow. He can have a little bit of food this evening but I honestly don't know if he'll take it.
They microchipped him while he was under, at my request. I have to register him so they know who to call if he ever gets scanned and, of course, there's a fee to register and an annual fee for the database but I'm thinking that $15 a year is a decent fee for peace of mind. With a dog this quick I think I need peace of mind.
I got a call just after noon from the vet tech. While he was under they discovered that he had two baby teeth that hadn't fallen out and needed to be pulled. It was only $10 each and they needed to come out so, really, at this point what's an extra $20. I'll write out a more comprehensive budget for rescuing a dog soon but for now I'll simplify it to: save your fucking pennies, it ain't cheap.
Apparently he was the uber cuddler at the vet, whining for attention when he got put away in the cage and sucking up to my favorite tech. When he was brought out to the lobby for me, though, he immediately began crying and shaking as though they'd been handing out hourly beatings. Must remember that this dog is a player, a sweet, cuddly player.
I had some things I thought I had to do tonight. However, the dog needs to be kept quiet and he's all glassy-eyed and out of it. He thinks he wants to chase cats and run around but he can't do any of that. So he's finally found a comfortable spot in my lap and his eyes only open to half mast every once in a while and I think we're going to stay right here. There's nothing so important we can't fit it in another time when he feels better.
This morning I went to a derm appointment to get a wound check on the biopsy that was done on my lip three weeks ago. The biopsy came back negative. It was a fibrous p_____ (sounded like pustule but wasn't, can't remember) and is perfectly fine. I'm healing fine, too. I pointed out a little rough spot on my forehead, right at the hair line, that I'd forgotten to ask about before. It was deemed an a____y something that, from what I understand is pre-pre-pre cancerous but might as well come off.
He froze it off.
It's official. I'm 85 years old and I simply don't think I'll be getting any younger. Someone bring me some juice. And make sure to dissolve the Metamucil completely in it.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Had she not taken that final turn, Auntie Blanche would have been 100 years old today. After she turned 90 I had my sights set on 100. My logic brain, of course, understood that eventually she would die. My heart brain, though, had to make some sort of plan for how to handle something I could barely even consider. Without consciously deciding it I began to envision her turning 100. If we could just celebrate that, I bargained, I could let her go. Turns out, if you strip away my choices, I can do pretty much anything.
It's also hard to argue that things didn't work out exactly the way they were supposed it. It was a terrible year. Joe the Barber took his bad last turn in April but if he hadn't I wouldn't have been up north to share one last peanut butter and jelly sandwich dinner with Auntie Blanche in The Home For Old Ladies and a first unshared salad dinner in the new, hated, generic place. To paraphrase Mare Winningham in St. Elmo's Fire, "It was the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich of my life."
Auntie Blanche would have loved Eddie. She would gladly have plied him with snausages to keep him in her lap. His crying and whining wouldn't have aggravated her, she would have talked him into comfortable silence. His ridiculous head cocking would have made her laugh and laugh. She had a great laugh.
The stories I've heard about Auntie Blanche's childhood haven't been wonderful. They don't compute because she had such a strong hand in creating the best of childhood memories for so many of us. I suppose there's no way to make up for feeling unappreciated by one's mother but if there was I hope the love of all those she left behind would have done so. We were lucky to have her until she was 98 and, I know logically, that even 100 wouldn't have been enough for me. Someone recently asked me if my parents were ok, health-wise. I had to ask her to repeat herself because I didn't understand the question. In my, admittedly freakishly lucky, experience being in one's early 70s is hardly old at all. I am continually brought up short to realize how sadly untrue that is for most people. So I don't know if you can understand how perfectly vital and "with it" Auntie Blanche was up to the abrupt drop off a few months before her death. If you can possibly understand that then you can understand what a shock it was bound to be for all of us to see her decline so quickly. She was 97, what did we expect? She was extraordinary, anything might have happened.
I told someone yesterday that I don't have any idea what, if anything, will happen to me when I die but I can't help thinking that when dogs die they go somewhere that offers all their favorite things. While I know the ChemE's Sienna and my Emily wouldn't create a favorite place without us, I like to think of them lying at Auntie Blanche's feet, getting up only briefly to take from the endless supply of treats in her hands.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
As the years have gone by the Yous have had a human child and continued to rescue ex-racing greyhounds. Despite not having visited them in person I am able to keep up with this information through the magic of Facebook.
In the midst of the saga of receiving Eddie here in Brooklyn Facebook told me that over in New Jersey the Yous had to let go of one member of their current pack, Bubba. Bubba (pictured) was 11 years old. From what I understand he'd broken a leg back in his racing days and there were complications with way it was set. Being a dog and therefore being pretty much impervious to pain he soldiered on but last week he lost all feeling in the back end. For any dog, but especially for one known for speed and agility, being immobile is no life at all so off he went.
My instinct was immediately to side with the mourning. I still miss my girl. It was confusing. But you can't ignore 13.2 lbs of terrier-adjacent mutt if you want to escape with your sanity, which is no excuse but that's why it's taken me a few days to catch up to formally wishing Bubba a safe journey.
I shouldn't need to say it but, as is the custom here, remember to lavish more treats and affection on your beings. "Good standing." "Good breathing." "Good....lying there like a lump." Today we reward it all.
It's my tendency, when a dog passes away, to wish him or her "godspeed." When it's a greyhound I think no other farewell is appropriate. Godspeed, Bubba, I hope the track is dry and the rabbits are plentiful.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
I had forgotten how free strangers are with their declarations and advice. I've been told how to treat him, what to teach him, what kind of dog he is, his age and (that perennial favorite) that neutering is a sign that one simply isn't being responsible with one's training techniques. On the up side I haven't given anyone a fat lip yet.
I think I'll start wearing a sandwich board. The front will have huge letters and it will say, "DISCLAIMER: I'm not really a small dog person, he just showed up." The back will be longer, "If I know you then I welcome and require your assistance and advice. If we're strangers you need to shut your fucking pie hole."
Friday, August 20, 2010
- He is not a fan of baths. Shivers, acts pathetic, tries to sneak out of the sink like you won't notice.
- Vet says he's 8-12 months old (based on teeth cleanliness and the fact that he has 2 canines on one side so his baby one hasn't fallen out yet).
- He might be part iguana (he has been known to refuse Scooter Snacks, no dog refuses Scooter Snacks).
- He is not motivated by food at all (not sure what he's motivated by).
- He won't eat. I've never dealt with a dog who isn't motivated by food. Seems that he can't handle eating when he's distracted and he's pretty much always distracted. Putting the food in his crate with him seems to give him the brain space he needs to eat something.
- He's super skinny.
- His shoulders ripple with muscles when he digs in to pull.
- Despite being super distracto he will pay attention when asked at a curb and wait for a go ahead to cross the street.
- He is probably a failed experiment in the creation of a puggle. The jaw is a little puggly, that's where the curly tail comes from, some of his coloring is from that, his ears have some pug to them.
- The aging seems correct because he's generally running around like a cyclone and then abruptly lapses into a coma.
- I am very much looking forward to having him neutered.
- He has a vet check up appointment tomorrow.
- After that I think it'll be time to purchase him a leash made for a dog his size. It's time to stop pretending.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
The good thing about having had a dog before when you find yourself suddenly with a new one is you don't really worry about buying a bunch of dog paraphernalia. People will come through with stuff to borrow (BOY will they come through!) and you know you can find something to feed that dog, I mean, it's a dog, it'll eat anything. Even if it turns out to be kind of a picky dog you can work it out. You find yourself making some rice and opening up a can of pumpkin from Thanksgiving and eventually tossing in some extremely expensive diet hot dogs. And the dog is perfectly happy.
The bad thing is that somewhere in the range of about half an hour past your bedtime (which is really going to have to be revised earlier now given how much energy this dog has) you realize that you have eaten nothing at all since a cookie you stole on the way out of the office. You drank some wine but not nearly enough.
The good thing is you know better than to mess around looking for something to eat. You know what time you'll have to be up and in the park in the morning and the sheer earliness of it will keep you from noticing the hunger at all. So you patiently ignore the attention-whore whining in the crate and drift off to sleep until....
Shit! I need to order some Scooter Snacks!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Here we are again with some photo challenge results. I love it when we get here. Please click through on the photog's name to see her Flickr stream. (We're equal opportunity with the challenges but so far we've only had women enter. Hint. Hint!) Information on the next challenge at the end of this post!
Next challenge, in honor of how I feel whenever you all participate in these, is going to be SURPRISE. Please submit your pertinent photos to the Flickr Pool by 9am Tuesday August 31st, tagged with "PhotoChallenge" and "SURPRISE" (and enable downloading of your photos for Tuesday and Wednesday) and the post will go up on Wednesday September 1st. Thank you!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
I knew when I bought my ticket to Blogher that I would worry about getting my money's worth out of it. Spending $200 on myself felt so decadent. Would I have to go to a lot of sessions to make it feel properly spent? Would those sessions be things I wanted to hear or things I felt I needed to hear? I went to a session in every available slot and I went to every keynote address. I was not disappointed by even one of them.
One I waffled about, though, was the humor writing session in the last slot of the conference. Lizz Winstead stand up comedienne, co-creator of The Daily Show and Tweeter extraordinaire was on the panel. I wanted to hear her. There was, perhaps, another session in that time slot that would have been "good for me" but to see Winstead live would be a true treat. Back when Comedy Central actually showed stand up comedy all day long - full-length shows, clip shows, theme shows - 24 hours a day I was a devoted viewer. I could recite Brian Regan's "You Too" riff and sing Kevin James' "Fatty Bumbalatty" song and fell in love with the smart, biting commentary of classic female stand ups like Joy Behar, Judy Gold, Elayne Boosler and, of course, Lizz Winstead. Yet, some Puritanical throwback in my DNA made me wonder if I needed to deny myself the thrill of seeing Winstead in person in order to have made a wise purchase.
My DNA is a fucking buzz kill.
Fortunately I didn't listen and I went to the discussion and for once my DNA could not have been more wrong. I needed to hear and to learn everything that went on in that room.
Jessica Bern was in from LA, fighting laryngitis and still funnier than most people are 100% healthy with a script in their hands. She is so familiar to me. I can't tell you why, though. I don't think it's that she's a type because she is the cream of whatever type people might file her under. I feel like I worked with her on something but I probably just watched her in something. I don't know what it was but I do know that I am in love.
Of course Lizz Winstead rounded out the panel and I've already told you how much I respect and adore her.
I spent the whole time laughing, tweeting and writing down quotes. I'm lucky my hands didn't fall off at the wrist. I'll hit you with a bunch of the quotes at the end but alone they won't convey the overall feel of the discussion.
Winstead and Bern have been friends for about 20 years. They have a shared language and experience that made their casual conversation into a well-oiled performance. Which was a good thing since they had to share a microphone. At one point Winstead was making merciless fun of Bern and refusing to give her the microphone to defend herself. So Bern and her croaky throat stood up, walked around Winstead and borrowed Luvvie's stationary mic to deliver a devastating one word punchline that had the assembled falling out of their seats.
The other clear result of their bond, though, was the theme that rose seemingly effortlessly out of the banter. As funny as these two women are, they are deadly serious in their support of women in their industry, in their lives and in the world. If you don't believe me ask San Diego Momma.
Every session at Blogher was being recorded which meant that even audience members asking questions needed to speak into a mic for the quality of the end product. To make this easier there was a "mic wrangler" for every session whose job it was to identify people with questions and spread the mic equitably around the room all while being unobtrusive so as not to draw attention from the speakers. In all the other sessions I'd been to the panelists had deferred to the wrangler, letting her choose the direction of the Q&A according to the way she was navigating the room. The Mizzes Winstead and Bern aren't ones for giving over control of a performance. After a while Luvvie saw that moderating was going to be more about stepping back and letting this discussion go where it needed to go. The mic wrangler would be on one side of the room and suddenly Jessica would call on someone. Someone totally other and elsewhere. At first glance that might seem as though she wasn't paying attention when in fact the exact opposite was true. She'd been watching the room and she knew who had put her hand up first and wanted to make sure that they got to every question and served everyone in the order we'd arrived. It's a small detail perhaps but that level of attention to the audience is simply not something you see every day. Perhaps it's because Jessica and Lizz are women, perhaps it's because they are observational comediennes or perhaps, and this is what I'm banking on, it's because they are simply brilliant and good people.
All submissions to be considered for the writing staff of The Daily Show are wiped of their identifying details in order to eliminate prejudice of all kinds, not just those that are gender related. These submissions are evaluated for their qualifications as a media consumer, a humorist, a satirist and their ability to work with the tone of the show. To quote Winstead, "It's not a gender thing, it's a nerd thing." When they searched for people to fill the writers room they got 150 applicants. Once the selection process was concluded and tallies could be made it turned out that 3 of those applicants were women. So, you know, you can't win if you don't play.
This all prompted Bern to grab the mic back and say, quite sincerely and forcefully, "Please don't stop [writing]....The only way we can't be ignored is if we don't ignore each other." I told you I was in love before but now you're really starting to believe me, aren't you?
There was some dishing certainly. We were told in no uncertain terms that Dennis Miller has never written his own material. So that's kind of interesting, especially when he gets brought up as a shining example in political debates. We learned that Leno's writers room need only have a men's room. And, in the midst of it all Winstead commandeered the mic and a questioner and tried to give an impromptu stand up workshop. I was crushed the woman wouldn't take it.
The questioner laid out a scenario where she had told a joke, using humid female genital imagery, in the swag exchange room at the conference. It bombed. Crickets. We eventually learned that she was using it as an example to ask if either of the comediennes ever censored their material depending on the audience. However Winstead took the bull by the horns before she even got that far and said (I'm paraphrasing a little, I couldn't write fast enough), "Don't tell us the joke, you don't have to tell us the joke, but given the same situation, the exact same one, would you tell the joke again?" I think people pay hundreds of dollars and spend years of their lives studying comedy to get that kind of lesson. Was it the fault of the joke or your delivery or your timing or were you in the wrong place at the wrong time? Would you tell it again in the exact same circumstances because you believe the joke is funny and believe that it will get the laugh if you can just figure out how to sell it? Bern then chimed in that she had at least one joke she's told over and over despite being the only one who thinks it's funny. She then addressed the rest of the question by removing the word "censor" and telling an anecdote about realizing that, for everyone's enjoyment, it's wise to pull the drunk jokes from a set at a Mormon event.
Which all kind of boils down to something that Winstead repeated a number of times in several forms, that the writer must take responsibility for what she writes (do her homework, stand by her convictions, understand her own boundaries) and the reader or viewer must take responsibility for how she feels about it.
So there you have it. Keep writing. Do it well. Believe in yourself. Keep reading. Keep supporting. Keep telling others about what you read. Take responsibility for yourself. Laugh.
"I heap ridicule on those who have power and use it for evil." - Lizz Winstead
"Saw whatever you would like and realize there's a consequence to that." - Lizz Winstead
"You know what happens to a car when it drives down the middle of the road? It causes accidents. So stay on the left or stay on the right." - Lizz Winstead
"It's always going to be offensive to someone." - Lizz Winstead
"Always link to shit you think is important because you are important." Jessica Bern (I may have paraphrased a little there, my handwriting is atrocious, but I think I got her gist.)
"If you believe in God then God created scientists. So shut up!" - Lizz Winstead
"The one thing I do not do is write about things I do not know." - Lizz Winstead
I wish you had all been there with me.
*I could not find online images of Jessica Bern or of Luvvie that would copy correctly into this post. Please forgive me and enjoy a range of photos of Lizz Winstead in this post. Click through to Bern's and Luvvie's sites to feast on their beauty.
Monday, August 16, 2010
This morning I tweeted, "Managed to dress like an older, seedier version of the Morton Salt Girl today." Response was immediate and positive. I laughed it off but was flattered enough to promise I'd take a photo tonight when I got home. Before I wrangled the self timer into submission I did a little research on the internet. Turns out I didn't look like the Morton Salt Girl at all.
I really thought she had boots. That was the only important part to me, the boots. No surprise, really, I do love the shoes most of all, even now that I live in a place and time where comfort has to beat all. You never know when you're going to find yourself walking the 6 miles home. So I don't know who I really wound up dressing like but I took a picture all the same.
Could have been worse. It was raining and hot today. I could have gone to work recreating this vintage advertisement instead.
Surely it would cost all outdoors. Surely I would fail at The Year of Yes if I didn't at least see if it cost all outdoors.
$39 (plus taxes and fees).
So I bought two. Kath and I are going to disco nap on Friday evening and then head out to see Eddie Izzard live and in person on Friday night. I have never been more in love with Twitter, The Year of Yes or New York. Never.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Cindy arrived on a plane and Chrome got her to the Hilton and just as I was greeting them my phone rang and it was Suebob! She was standing across the lobby and I swept her over to meet my friends and Chrome went to class and the rest of us went upstairs to register. A lot of people had registered earlier or had everything they needed sent to them so it wasn't much of a line and then we were done. So Cindy and I decided to have a fortifying drink before the party. We might have met more bloggers if we'd opted for a pricier drink in the lobby but we went outside since we were going to be spending all weekend in the hotel. We drank our drinks and looked at our swag and talked to our very bored waitress. Bored with her job, not with us, we were predictable enchanting.
Back at the party it was still early but plenty of people were there. I saw NakedJen wearing crazy-tall heels with ribbons that wrapped around her ankles and didn't have the courage to speak up. We met someone named Sapphire. I saw San Diego Momma and met her friend (whose name I'm blanking on and the lack of a card is making me think there's a stash of cards somewhere that I have misplaced. Whoops!). The first person I ever told out loud about Kizz & Tell - the first person for whom it would be an introduction to me - was David. David sat down at our table and told us he was there at the last minute from Canada courtesy of his new job to find people who would blog about jewelry (the lack of his card confirms the lost stash). We wound up doing a a quick lap of the party, taking some photos of tutus in progress and heading out to meet Chrome. That was the night I needed to get home in time to see Teddy.
Very early the next day we met back in the hotel and we got some breakfast and I followed behind Cindy as we tried to determine where to sit, finally lighting on someplace right up close to the stage. Soon after a few women joined us, bit by bit, wondering what we'd done to get such a prime spot. We didn't do anything but decide to sit and think we were at the newbie breakfast and be wrong about that. Later we heard we hadn't missed anything and I knew I was in the right spot even if we had because I was sitting with Ananda Leeke. She's been to three Bloghers and vows to keep coming to them as long as she has a friend to stay with. She said to me, "I feel as if I was meant to sit right here, I'm in the right place doing the right thing." That, and our whole conversation, made me feel as though whatever I wanted to do with my weekend - sessions, no sessions, party all night, drinks with friends, swag, food, writing, photos - would be OK. So I decided to just keep saying hello to people and keep doing the things I wanted to do.
Not having been in business situations where the exchange of cards is required I don't know if this happens there, too, but there's a sort of unspoken rhythm of card exchange at the conference. You'll sit at a table or be walking in a hall and start a conversation with someone. For one reason or another you know the conversation will be short. Usually a speech or session is starting or a meal is ending or they have to head off to another party. So relatively early in that talk someone hauls out a card. If it's meal time and you're at a table cards are dealt around the ten-top like a scene out of Tombstone. You politely look at the card and try to fix the face with the font while continuing your conversation because, as we've established, it might end very soon, and you want to be able to continue it later. Luckily we have the internet for that. You get to be quite good at this dance, maybe you already are, but the first few times I felt like I had two left feet.
There was a keynote and sessions and meals and walks through the expo hall and exchanging of cards and conversations in bathrooms. Shortly after that first breakfast we quickly ducked into the ladies room for a pee before going to a session and I was still riding the wave from meeting Ananda so I introduced myself to the woman behind me. She kindly asked me what sort of blogging I did and I handed her a card and gave her a glossy thing about 117 Hudson and got to use the full pitch for Kizz & Tell. She was wildly accommodating and asked if I felt there was an audience for erotic fiction online and I was happy to talk about how I hoped so even though I wasn't sure where to find it. That it was my quest, as it were. Finally I got around to asking what she did. She's a literary agent. And because New York has taught me that, even when you want something very badly you don't overwhelm people about it, I nodded and inquired, as politely as she had about my adventure, did she have any authors in the Blogher bookstore? She did and I promised to look for them and then a stall opened up. Later, downstairs in the bookstore, I noticed not one but a slew of books of erotic fiction, leading into a group of books on sex and sexuality and sexual health. Despite the fact the agent hadn't given me a card I felt better knowing we'd both browse that little store and find out I was right, there is a market for it and there has to be a place for me in it. She has my card if it turns out she wants to be part of the quest.
Cheeseburgher Party was the product of a small, comfortable gathering of women who wanted to relax after being "on" at the conference so long and got together in someone's hotel room to eat cheeseburgers and fries and spike their milkshakes while wearing PJs. It's grown into something that required beds installed in a ballroom to accommodate the number of attendees. But the same amount of fun seems to be had. I liked the sessions and I loved the speeches and perhaps I should have spent more time in the hotel bar or in the ladies room just saying hello to anyone who crossed my path. Because in the end, no matter what you choose to do with your minutes while you're there the great gift is to be surrounded by people who value what you are doing and share your enthusiasm for it. I'm not the first person to say that, either. I don't know about you but, while many people in my real life support or enjoy my blogging there aren't very many who see it as more than a hobby or quirk. So the important direction-changing conversations at Blogher happen by virtue of being somewhere surrounded by people who see what you do as it is and as it can be and who enjoy it just as much, if not more, than you do.
Which is my big excuse for not being able to give you one, chronological, linkfest of an entry about how I spent my weekend at Blogher. I'm going to fill you in on details. I'm going to tell you about the sessions I went to. I'm going to get up on my soapbox about a couple of keynote addresses. I'm going to talk parties and I'm going to probably put up a big old list of links from the many stashes of business cards people were generous enough to give me (I will find the missing one. I will! Won't I?). And eventually I'll tell you about the post-Blogher conversations that are already happening for me and how head-explodingly cool they are, too.
The question, however, is will any of that be enough? If, as I've said, my task was to bring back as much of the experience as possible for those who wanted to but were unable to attend then the most important thing to bring back is this feeling of having your online self valued at Tiffany-diamond levels. Can I do that? I don't know. But I'm sure as hell going to try.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
This one preview came on and it was a mystery, thriller kind of a thing. A few people get into an elevator and there's this one guy who never really shows his face and you can't tell if he's showing up on the surveillance video. The young, pretty woman gets weird injuries and screams. The elevator begins to fall. It's really suspenseful and awesome and I'm not usually into anything where the elevator plummets I'm considering suggesting we bookmark this movie. From the tense silence in the theatre I deduce that I am not alone. Then...
Across the screen flashes...
"by director M. Knight Shyamalan"
Whole place breaks up laughing and can't stop.
Sorry buddy, I think you might be the only one left who thinks your movies aren't comedies.
Friday, August 13, 2010
By the way, that's the lovely and welcoming Sueb0b with me in that photo.
Remember our photo challenges? The prompt this time is OLD/NEW and all the info is here. Please, please, please contribute. Please?
Did I mention there was a Kizz & Tell post on Monday? And there's a new piece of fiction up today if that's the kind of thing that floats your boat.
I'm headed out to catch an early movie, see if going before noon really does mean you get a cheaper ticket. A regular, first run movie costs $12.50 here these days. How much does it cost where you are?
Thursday, August 12, 2010
It's near Mexico! It's relatively near Los Angeles. I know where Santa Barbara is so now I know where the people of Psych are pretending to be! I saw the little star for Santa Cruz and thought of Naked Jen. I spent a while today staring intently at the map and scrolling around on it and planning a tour of the entire state of California to visit everyone and everything I've ever wanted to see there. It's possible my heart thinks that if I see enough people while I'm there it will justify the fact that the impetus for my going is BlogHer '11. Why does my heart need me to justify it? I don't know and it won't tell me. My heart is one hell of a close-mouthed motherfucker.
But while I'm thinking about the whole exciting idea I wanted to share with you a short play inspired by JRH's comment on this post. (That's her in the photo.)
Scene: BlogHer '11, a party. Two bloggers, ME and SOME OTHER BLOGGER, meet over a tray of canapes.
ME: Hi, I'm Kizz!
SOME OTHER BLOGGER: Hi , I'm [insert catchy nickname coupled with swank real name].
ME: How's your weekend been so far?
SOB: Fun. Overwhelming. Really good. I can't believe it. You?
ME: Exactly the same. [THEY accost another passing tray of appetizers] So, what kind of blogging do you do?
SOB: I have a personal blog where I talk about my life in [insert exotic locale] and my husband who [insert intriguing profession] and what it was like growing up in a family of [insert quirky background statistics].
ME: That sounds so interesting. Do you have a card?
SOB: I've got one here somewhere. Can you hold this, please? [SOB hands ME her wine glass, begins digging in her purse] What kind of blogging do you do?
ME: Oh I do Dead Pet Blogging.
ME: [a little louder] Dead Pet Blogging.
SOB: I'm sorry, the acoustics in here are terrible. What kind of pets again?
ME: Dead ones. Dead pets. Pets who have died.
SOB: Well...isn't that....unique.
ME: It's important to me and no one else is doing it, that's for sure. Surprising as it sounds, though, there's a niche for it. Did you find that card?
SOB: [snatching at wine glass] You know, I seem to be all out.
ME: Let me give you one of mine and we can find each other that way!
SOB: Oh my, there's [insert name of superstar blogger] you don't mind if I just grab this chance to meet her, do you?
ME: [quietly] Absolutely not.
That poor SOB.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
On Thursday night or Friday morning someone (probably Cindy) asked me what I planned to do while at the conference. Part of my answer just rolled off the tongue unplanned, the truth laid right out before I had a chance to think about it. "I'm going to the Community Keynote for sure. That's the one thing that, if I miss it, I won't be able to count my Blogher a success."
Thanks for saying that, mouth, I hadn't realized but, totally true.
A few years ago at the conference, after hearing different kinds of keynotes, Eden Kennedy suggested to the Blogher Powers That Be that it would be good to hear from a bunch of bloggers, to honor their blogging in the form of a collaborative keynote speech. I remember reading post after post from the first year's presenters about how drunk or scared or vomity or star struck they were while standing back stage waiting to go on. The concept and the descriptions of its execution so thrilled me that I haven't even watched the videos of preceding years. If I couldn't see it live I didn't want to see it at all, I guess. Ridiculous but true.
This year I was able to be there in person. And, hand to god, it's probably the moment I said to myself, "You need to go to San Diego next year." even if I just get a one day pass so I can see the Community Keynote and fly right the hell home. I didn't expect to be so undone at seeing the creator of not only the CK but the "Writing well is the best revenge" t-shirt and NaBloPoMo right up there on stage but the minute she walked out I wanted to commando crawl between the tables and up to the front of the stage like I used to do at high school productions when I was a little kid. I wanted to see it all with my chin resting on the lip of the platform and an inability to see or hear anything else while it happened.
It's OK, I didn't.
I sat in my chair at a table full of new found friends and I laughed and cried and gasped and listened and watched and yearned for the all-too-short duration of 15 fabulous speakers. I thought immediately of my friend Beebott when Liz Henry tackled the question of "What is Geek?" Karen Green told an almost surreal story of serendipitously bringing together Holocaust survivors. Faiqua thanked her husband in an immigration story that should be handed to every congressperson. The whole, huge ballroom was utterly silent for the entirety of Stephanie Roberts' presentation about her travels with Jen Lemen and their project, Picture Hope. I hearkened back to some of my own linguistic battles when Dr. Lissa Rankin, a gynecologist, was told not to use the word "vagina" when talking about her work. And I sang along (very quietly) as Amy Windsor morphed a familiar Broadway tune into "The Popular Blogger" to close the ceremonies.
The takeaway message of the weekend for me was, "No matter what you call it or how you do it, what you're here to celebrate is important." The Community Keynote, filled with single, brilliant posts mindfully plucked from among the masses of posts streaming into the ether every day exemplified that message. It's a brilliant plan executed beautifully even as the number of posts submitted has increased exponentially. You can read all 90 of the posts nominated and I'm sure that somewhere there is, or will be, a video I just haven't been able to find it yet. The same way that I practice my Oscar speech in the mirror for the entire month of March, I'll probably be practicing my Voices of the Year entry for the rest of August.
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Eden Kennedy on Friday night at a party to benefit the Gulf Coast clean up effort. I managed to convey to her exactly nothing of what I've just written here.
Go on. It's OK to be disappointed in me.
After I hit publish on this I think I need to compose an email. "Dear Eden, Maybe you remember me. I'm the girl who talked to you about your dead dog at the party?..."
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Monday, August 09, 2010
There was no pee on the seat at Blogher.
This is a big deal for me. I'm a sitter, you see. Unless it's a true horror show (Belmont Race Track, I'm looking at you) I don't hover. I wipe off the seat and I go quickly but I prefer to sit. If my legs are all tense I can't get completely empty, you know? I have to steady myself on the walls which, somehow, I find more disgusting than sitting on a wiped seat. The damn thing was designed with a seat so I am by God going to use it!
There is no earthly reason for a women's room to have pee on the seat. None. There's no excuse for it. If you're sitting then everything should be appropriately directed. If you prefer to stand or squat (and who am I to refuse your preferences) then you're clearly in good enough shape to turn around and make sure to clean up behind yourself before you depart. Is pee gross? Eh, probably a little. But you chose to spray yours all over a public bathroom so your standards can't be all that high. (If you've hovered high enough that you've sprayed the seat you know that means you've likely sprayed yourself and your own clothes, too, right?)
At Blogher, though, there was no pee on the seat. I heard people using seat covers (another fine option available to us all) and I stood in long lines while people were in a hurry but I never had to wipe a seat before I could sit (good thing, too, since I made an unfortunately button-heavy trouser choice on Friday). I suppose we could attribute this to the high quality service of the Hilton, but, while the Hilton folks did their best for us, there was no way they could have had someone polish each seat before we sat. Which means that every woman at that conference took responsibility for her own urine.
That might not sound like much to you but to me it's proof that I spent my weekend in the company of women of great quality and compassion. My thanks to all of you.
Sunday, August 08, 2010
Today, around noon, our beloved Teddy had his date with destiny.
I say our not to diminish in any way the singularity of devotion between him and his girl but because I have both read and participated in so many comments, posts, and conversations today surrounding the grieving process of our neighborhood dog community. His death alone is an immeasurable sadness. It also represents the end of an era. Ted was the last man standing of a core group of canine companions and as the unofficial mayor of Fort Greene Park he was deeply loved by many.
Even before we all lived over here Teddy and my Emily were friends. I still don't entirely understand their relationship. It was created using some unprintable recipe comprised largely of symbiosis and indifference. Perhaps they took each other for granted but that only seemed to prove how connected they were in a way we two legged hangers on could not comprehend.
I was fortunate to be able to say goodbye to Ted on Thursday night. We sat on the sidewalk and shot the shit and rubbed and scritched and sniffed. He smelled perfectly of dog, a scent so enormously comforting to me I can't believe no one has thought to bottle it and give it out as a gift with purchase when you buy any anti-depressant. I didn't actually speak the word goodbye to him but just before I went I turned back and whispered in his one eternally flopped over ear that I loved him.
I'm sure you can understand what a great loss this is for Teddy's Girl and that you know what I'm going to ask you to do. So, off you go, treats for everyone, please.
And Ted? I love you. Goodbye.
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Friday, August 06, 2010
You guys, I'm at Blogher and I'm looking for Megan from A Girl Must Shop and Melanie from Coupon Goddess. I'm leaving the Hilton now for the Mouthy Housewives party now but I'll be back tomorrow. If anyone can help me find them that would make me happy. And we all want me to be happy, right?
Ladies, Janet (fondofsnape) said I should find you and, as a good New England girl, I plan to follow her instructions!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry