Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Today we are in Antwerp. The Belgian computer keyboard is all disorganised; you have to press shift to type a period for example, or a number, and it took me forever to find the "z". Now I'm typing with two fingers.

Last night, Bob took us to an Indonesian restaurant (there are many in Amsterdam and we were curious). The food comes in lots of tiny bowls, and is served on rice. In Holland, you can choose which dishes they bring you, but apparently in Indonesia they just bring out little dishes of everything they've got and bill you for whichever ones you eat. I don't know what happens to the ones you don't eat--maybe they are passed on to the next person?

Bob made us eat a bite of something that was full of chilis, and it made me cry and drink an entire large bottle of water. While I was recovering, he made me answer lots of questions about our trip. Bob is a sadist and a flirt.

Monday, April 28, 2003

S. and I are in Amsterdam. This morning we ate pancakes (lovely lovely dutch pancakes with bacon and mushrooms in them, and then another one with apples and cinnamon and ice cream, yum) and went to the Rijksmuseum. This afternoon we had a fight over whether or not we are imposing too much on our host, Bob, and now we are at an internet cafe looking for a hotel to stay in for a couple of days later this week. But we are pals again, and that is what matters.

The most interesting things at the Rijksmuseum were the paintings of flowers. I have always been a big fan of Dutch food still-lifes with all those dead rabbits and birds and oysters, fruit and silverware, but I never really cared for the flowers, because they look like boring stupid wallpaper designs. Little did I know that if you look real close, those pretty fruits and flowers are covered with ants. And beetles and wasps and worms. And spiders. And sometimes snails! Oh yeah. How much do I wish I had wallpaper like that?

Mainly, the still lives are mementi mori.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

My friend Doc is very funny today.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

So why do movies use that third world filter? I assume that it is supposed to provide some sense of exoticism and grit that might be lacking in real life. You could be charitable and say that visual accuracy doesn't necessarily capture the mood of a place, and that an overexposed and brownish filter gives you the sense of anxiety that you might feel if you were in Iraq or Tijuana, especially if you were in trouble in Iraq or Tijuana. Or you could be uncharitable and say that it distances the people and places of the third world so that first world audiences don't have to feel uncomfortably sympathetic with them and their predicaments. I happen to think that the use of the third world filter in Traffic was kind a little much, but in Three Kings I liked it. It made me feel all headachy, as though I'd been driving in a jeep for hours in the sun, and that was perfect for that movie.

(I should say that I don't actually think Mexico is a third world country, but when Soderbergh filmed it through that brown filter, it sure looked like one.)

This reminds me of an article I really liked in Salon a couple of years ago. It was about the way people write about Africa.

Friday, April 18, 2003

News Alert: The pop-Asian cutsie-fication of poop has just gone one step further.
I'm more and more fascinated by the looting saga. Well, now it sounds more like an organized crime saga, which just makes Tommy Franks sound like even more of an asshole for blaming it on "the Iraqi people". I can't figure out if the administration just don't understand about art and culture and history, or if they deliberately let this happen to demoralize the population. Either way, they are such c*nts. If you'll pardon my language.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Things I would do if I had a whole lot of money and time:

I would rent a big warehouse space and fill it with old cars. All of the car windows would be replaced with high-res plasma screens facing in, so that when you would get into each car and shut the door, you would have the illusion that the car is moving along a road. It wouldn't be terribly convincing--just about as convincing as those car scenes in old movies that were filmed against a projected backdrop. Some would be in black and white and some would be in hyper-saturated technicolor. Some might use that third-world-overexposed filter from Traffic and Three Kings There would definitely be one black and white scene of a winding mountain road in the fog with eerie animal noises; one super saturated desert scene with no soundtrack; and one Las Vegas neon with fake reflections in the windows and the sound of people shouting.

I don't know if the cars would be motorized to bounce you around a bit. They could be, I guess. They would use basically the same technology as those universal-studios-type rides, only they'd be using it for Art.

Another thing I would do with my inexhaustable funds: Hire someone to invent a piece of software that would tell you how many trees worth of paper each thing you print out is equivalent to. It would also keep track of how many trees worth of paper you've printed on since the software was installed, and perhaps allow you to assuage your guilt by making an online donation to a reforesting project. It would also help save trees by telling you if there are only a couple of lines of text on the last page of your document, and letting you add those lines to the previous page by just clicking on one button. It would automatically stop your printer from printing blank pages. And if you were printing more than one copy of a document that is less than half a page long, it would ask you if you'd like to print two copies per page. I think most people would be environmentally aware if they could, they just need it to be super easy.
I love Fred.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Okay, I take it back. SOME looting is healthy and fun. This is not fun. Stripping the hospitals and pillaging the museums is just stupid. What are they thinking?

[edited 4/14/2003 11:41 AM]

Thursday, April 10, 2003

I think all of the looting and destruction in Baghdad is really good, not because stealing and breaking things is okay, but because ordinary people will go on in their lives with the memory of doing something exciting and dramatic during the last days of the regime. It will feel like they were involved in something big; they'll remember it as something thrilling. I saw a picture in the Times of small children dancing on a portrait of Saddam's face...they'll tell their grandkids about that.

Now we need to get them some food and water and fix their houses, and not leave them in the shit, like we seem to be doing with the Afghans.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

I realized that in addition to not knowing the word "mushrooms", I also have a block against "Nebraska"

Friday, April 04, 2003

The first two in a list of 100 things to do with a colossal squid:

One: Prop it up in your boss's desk chair, with the rubbery head scraping the ceiling and tentacles posed humorously as though typing, answering the phone etc. Best to place it on a Friday night with the door closed.

Two: Toss it over a utility line, like a pair of old sneakers.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

I met my cousin tonight, for the first time ever. She's a poet, and she has written a book and she teaches at a college. We didn't get much of a chance to talk this evening, but I think she is lovely and her poetry is excellent. When we were kids, we were pen pals. She was a big fan of Moonlighting, and I was a big fan of Strawberry Shortcake and Star Wars. We both liked pretty dresses and we both liked unicorns. When I was 13, she moved to Israel and a little while after that we lost touch.
I have a block against the word mushroom. I will look right at a box of mushrooms, and I will open my mouth and I will call them tomatoes. Or failing that, potatoes. On Saturday, for the first time, I called them olives. The word mushroom never comes out of my mouth. Unless I am concentrating on it really hard, and even then it's touch and go.