Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Odds and Ends Pt. 6

"Real Life" by GameSpot--Just in case you need to get an idea of what real life is like before you participate.

"What's Lost Is Found, Very Cheaply"--If you're ever in Scottsboro, Alabama, be sure to stop by the Unclaimed Baggage Center. I'm not sure how people lose some of the stuff that ends up in the store. One shopper, called Allan, is quoted as saying, "When Jesse Jackson was running for president his suits came in here. And one year when M.C. Hammer was touring, his backdrop came in here from his concert stage." Jewelry, skis, works of art. Nothing's too priceless to lose. (Check out the interesting stuff section of the store's Web site for more gems. I won't spoil it for you.)

Driving Under the Influence--I've only ever seen a few minutes of Reno 911! And I will look back on those minutes fondly.

Ask MetaFilter--Have I ever mentioned that I love this site? All the discussions I've ever read on there have been surprisingly good (and spam- and flame-free). Get or share your answers to such timeless questions as "What exactly do people, especially young people (18-22) DO at the lake or beach all day?" I'm still trying to decide whether or not I want to pay the $5 one-time registration fee to be able to post comments.

Metropolitan Opera--This New York institution (see Moonstruck) is having its first-ever open house Sept. 22. For those with no obligations that Friday, you can attend the final dress rehearsal for Madama Butterfly, which will kick off the Met's 2006-07 season. Tickets to the rehearsal are free and will be distributed Wednesday, Sept. 20 on a first-come, first-served basis.

Survivor--The next season of this reality adventure show will premiere Sept. 14, with four teams of five members each based on race. Which means that the show will boost the total number of Asians on TV to 5. (OK, that might be a little harsh. More like, 6.)

Pluto's demotion--Did anyone stop to think about the astrologers??

"They exist to be used ..."

When did a sheep last die of old age? Sheep do not own themselves, do not own their lives. They exist to be used, every last ounce of them, their flesh to be eaten, their bones to be crushed and fed to poultry. Nothing escapes, except perhaps the gall bladder, which no one will eat. Descartes should have thought of that. The soul, suspended in the dark, bitter gall, hiding. -Disgrace, J. M. Coetzee

Finished the book today. It's the first Coetzee book I've ever read. Really amazing--unsympathetic characters one can actually empathize with.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006


My friend got her first published piece in the New York Times! Cause for celebration... The piece, "In Baghdad, a Beachhead for Black-and-Whites," is about black-and-white cookies, which I thought only existed on Seinfeld. I've learned from her article, however, that they are actually sold in a bakery in New York. (Use BugMeNot to bypass Times registration.)

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Odds and Ends Pt. 5

As it seems to happen to most people sooner or later, I've become slightly addicted to YouTube. Two recent favorites: MADtv's Gangsta Shop Quartet, which is exactly what it sounds like, and Dave Chappelle in Grand Theft Auto. I haven't seen much of Grand Theft Auto, but the clip is surreal, and hilarious.

Also, crazy story from my friend's blog about her boyfriend, who was sent to a convention last weekend. When he checked into his hotel, they gave him the key to a room that was already occupied. He saw a sleeping figure, panicked, and didn't even close the door all the way in his rush to get back to the elevators.

He told my friend, "How are they gonna send me, a black man, into someone else's room? I could've gotten killed!" Which, as my friend observed, is sad but true.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Zen of the Driving Range

"In so many ways, his family's life feels like a string of accidents, unforeseen, unintended, one incident begetting another. ... And yet these events have formed Gogol, shaped him, determined who he is. They were things for which it was impossible to prepare but which one spent a lifetime looking back at, trying to accept, interpret, comprehend. Things that should never have happened, that seemed out of place and wrong, these were what prevailed, what endured, in the end." -The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri

It's something I'm continually trying to learn, that disappointments are petty and that life goes on.

The day after the driving range, this spot on my thumb was sore and filled with fluid. But it's finally deflating, hardening. (I used to get blisters all the time as a kid playing on the monkey bars, but now that my days consist of sitting at a computer, there's no time for that.) Maybe if I ever get serious about this, I'll get some golf gloves.

I've been going to the Chelsea Piers driving range during summer hours, taking advantage of the weekday daytime specials. Last Friday I chose the "Ball Blitz," $20 an hour for unlimited balls and free club rental. The day was clear and hot. Only occasionally did a breeze lift off the Hudson, relieving everyone of us perched on the multistory driving range.

I love going to the driving range, though I've only been a few times. (Many thanks to Athena and Tomo for introducing me to it.) I have no interest in learning how to play golf, but I find the act of hitting the ball itself very calming and meditative. I don't worry about where the ball goes, though it is always satisfying when my club connects perfectly with the ball. It makes this certain sound--maybe there's a physical term for it, the same sound one hears when a bat hits a baseball dead-on or when one makes a desirable break in pool--a significant crack, not a superficial sound at all.

And then tracking the ball against a blue sky. After my hour was up, I watched two men practice their swings. They both looked like serious golfers, with appropriate attire, their own sets of clubs, concentration. My routine had been to swing every few seconds, almost as quickly as the balls came up out of the ground (one of the things I love about the Chelsea Piers driving range is the automation, no need to retrieve balls out of a machine, stooping over repeatedly to set the ball on top of the tee). But these two men would each focus on his ball, swing, observe the ball's flight, absorb the outcome, gather himself mentally for the next swing. Their golfballs would arc through the air, describing mathematical equations.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006


A few years ago, while I was still living in Chicago, I met up with a friend on the Lake Michigan waterfront. We sat on the edge of the cement walkway, a few feet above the water. It was bright and clear, hot but not too hot to sit out in the sun. Because I'm constantly coming up with crazy ideas, I told my friend that I had this urge to jump into the lake in order to cool off. I remember the water as being blue, not particularly clean looking but an invitingly short drop away. And because I never follow through on my crazy ideas, I watched instead as my friend leapt into Lake Michigan. He hauled himself out of the water, clothes completely drenched, sat down again beside me, and resumed our conversation.

It's brutally hot today in New York City. Heat that constricts one's chest like a vise. It's shorts and a T-shirt but sweat still pouring down one's face hot. The subway stations are worse than ovens--they're like broilers today, people crisping in their suits while they lean over the sides of the platforms, cursing at the trains that never show. Surely someone must have keeled over today in the middle of the street, somewhere in this blasted city.

I wish I'd jumped into the lake too.

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