Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Giving the Old One-Legged Salute

I can't believe this photo exists. If you need a little backstory, click here. But honestly, there's not much to explain: a dog peed on Natalie Portman, and that magical moment was captured with the witchcraft of digital imagery. Ahh, technology... the gift that keeps on giving.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


So yesterday, during an enjoyable shift at the pretzel stand, the trash-lunch craving hit me like a gale-force wind, and I found myself staring dumbly at the McDonald's menu. Surprisingly, my eyes lit on something I hadn't seen before... something new... yet, at the same time, something very, very familiar.

The Southern-Style Crispy Chicken Sandwich.

I was compelled to order it.

Now, folks, does this sandwich or does it not bear a STRIKING resemblance to the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich?? OK, let's not kid ourselves-- it's exactly the same (lightly-breaded, lightly-spiced chicken, topped with pickles and nested in a buttery, lightly-toasted bun). I felt like a traitor to my beloved Chick-fil-A eating it, but it was pretty delicious. I'll say this much-- it's not quite as delicious as the original (there was this weird thing happening where I kept forgetting I was eating a chicken sandwich due to the mushy, fish-like texture of the bird). I'm not sure exactly how McDonald's is getting away with this theft, but I can't promise I won't order it again. After all, the secret Chick-fil-A in NYC isn't exactly the most accessible place on earth (New Yorkers, ask me if you want to know the location of said restaurant... and I might tell you...). Chick-fil-A, go ahead and sue me-- oh, wait, you're probably way too busy suing McDonald's.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Modern Library's Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century Quest: #87

Title: The Old Wives' Tale
Author: Arnold Bennett
Judgin' the Book By Its Cover: Well... it reinforces the point that the book is about old broads...

Thoughts: I had quite a bit of difficulty getting into this book when I first began reading it, but warmed up to it more as I went along. The plot starts out feeling very familiar and cliched: two sisters living in the English countryside have markedly different personalities and, accordingly, live very different lives. The elder of the two, Constance, is steady, patient, and good, and she marries her father's industrious assistant and works alongside him in the family business until she has a child to spoil. The younger sister, beautiful, passionate, and proud Sophia, impetuously elopes with a (gasp!) travelling salesman and moves to (GASP!) Paris where she engages in frivolities until her husband (SERIOUSLY, I CAN'T BREATHE) leaves her. Blah blah blah, different people lead different lives...

Luckily, Bennett turns away from cliches somewhere in the middle of this 615-page book and really delves into what life is like for these two women. As their paths become more unpredictable, I became much more invested in their fates. I also thought that the observations he makes about growing older were very interesting to read as a person in my 20's.

Unfortunately, as I approached the end of the book, I started to dislike it again. Bennett seems to take the position that life is, in essence, meaningless, and regardless of how you live your life, you will gradually lose life until you die. Moreover, his observations about relationships are hardly heartwarming-- he seems to view humans as solitary creatures and all of the friendships/marriages/families he depicts are terribly flawed. He seems to view people as unable to experience happiness or to express themselves honestly in any relationship, which is a fairly depressing worldview.

In addition, this is another book to file into the category of "Wow, British People Look Down Their Noses At Everyone Else" books (previous example here). Today's special: French people! Here's a description of les parisiennes from the book: "[they had] violently red lips, powdered cheeks, cold, hard eyes, self-possessed arrogant faces, and insolent bosoms". I don't even know what that last thing means, but it doesn't sound good...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Kickin' Tunes

Friday night the Man Friend and I passed an enjoyable evening listening to John Carpenter (no, not that John Carpenter) perform with his new band at Spike Hill in Williamsburg (not my usual stomping grounds, but fun nevertheless). You can check out and download his music here-- it's great and he is a Cool Dude.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thoughts on No Country for Old Men

Last week I furiously subway-read No Country For Old Men, and it's lingered in my thoughts ever since I finished it. The book, narrated by an aging Texas sheriff who's tracking down a brutal killer, meditates on the drastic changes he's witnessed over the decades, in particular, the visible escalation of unspeakable violence that accompanied the rising prevalence of drug use and trafficking. There's a terrifying sense of inevitability in the book-- the murderer is so unhuman and so unstoppable that justice shouldn't even attempt to prevail.

As the San Diego Union-Tribune puts it, McCarthy's point is that modernity has "damaged beyond repair, warped beyond recognition, mutated so horrifically" the tradition of personal, familial, and communal responsibility to the point that " a new kind of man, a soulless, wrecking angel, may not only be loose among us but may be what we are destined to become". Scary!

But then Thursday morning this section from The Practice of the Presence of God really caught my eye:

Brother Lawrence wasn't surprised by the amount of sin and unhappiness in the world. Rather, he wondered why there wasn't more, considering the extremes to which the enemy is capable of going. He said he prayed about it, but because he knew God could rectify the situation in a moment if He willed it, he didn't allow himself to become greatly concerned.

That's such a fresh and unique point. So often you hear people remarking (including myself) that things are "getting so bad" ("when I was in middle school, kids didn't talk like that!"). But what the oh-so-wise Brother Lawrence tells us is right on-- we shouldn't be surprised by evil (it's not like it's new, folks)! We don't need to live in fear or dread because God is bigger than sin and evil and HE is the one in control of our destiny. It's only through His grace that we all aren't "soulless, wrecking angels". Good stuff.

Also... this lends more support for my doctoral thesis, "Texas Sucks".