Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Life in New Words

The year's almost come to an end so I'm reminiscing. Today's theme: words.

Over the past twenty years I've learned a lot of words. A lot of big old words, a lot of stupid new ones, even more foreign words. Here are some words I ought to have known but did not.

Midnight: In the second grade, Amanda Ward said she was up till midnight, which I assumed meant the middle of a typical second graders night. You know, like 8pm. I said, "what time did you go to bed?" and she kept repeating "midnight!" and looked at me like I was a F.O.B. (emphasis on "like").

Adoption: I watched a lot of "Punk Brewster" when I was in the fifth grade. In one particular episode Punky has been made fun of for being adopted, and Henry consoles her after school when she cries about it. He says, "adoption means I love you." Later that week in class, Miss Moss asked us all to talk about our families, and I said to the whole class, "I'm adopted."

From fifth grade till college, I knew everything. Then, freshman year at UCSC, I learned many words that I resent for taking up precious space in my brain now. Nag-champa, djembe rental, audit... However, one word whose use I can't shake is:

Dish-drainer: I thought a "dish-drainer" was the strainer in the drain that collects crap about to get washed down. One night I told my flatmates it was full of crud and people should really throw away the contents when they did dishes. All of them looked at the dish drainer and then at each other. It was no doubt empty.

Moving on.

D.I.Y.: Now, I know everyone learns "the new words" at some point, so learning Do-It-Yourself is not miraculous in and of itself but I learned it from a French man.

Twin Towers: I didn't know what the twin towers were till 9/11/2001, when at noon, I ambled out of bed and went to campus 150 blocks north of Wall St., having no idea why it was deserted. Andy, from Athens GA told me why everyone was in line at the pay phones or driving north. I didn't understand what he was talking about until I saw the footage.

Widget: It was 2003 and Silicon Valley was finally a bust. How appropriate that I would learn this word after the bubble.

Paying it forward:
Two days ago on a British Airways flight, I asked for "club soda" during the first beverage service. The stewardess (a twenty-something Brit) stared at me like I was a television screen and a Sex and the City marathon was running. She was incapacitated and fixed a dead smile on me like she understood but didn't hear. I repeated "club soda," then tried "seltzer water?" then "soda water?"
She finally turned around and whispered to another stewardess, "what's club soda?"

Sparkling water.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

You all know Tila Tequila. Here are some lesser known drink-based bisexuals:

Shania Shnapps likes sweet nothings whispered through dry heaves. Biggest rival: Jackie Jagermeister.

Vivica A. Vodka dances low to the ground. An entry level bisexual, she mixes well with everyone. Rival: Talula Tequila (Tila's MMRPG-pwning mastah).

Drew Daquiri's looks are deceiving. She has been known to deadlift professional football players.
Rival: Coochie Colada.

Monostat 7 & 7 is one cheesy mother. Rival: Paps Blue Ribbon

Friday, December 11, 2009

OK ok ok... here's a good one

I came up with a joke. I think it's good enough to go public so here goes.

What's the fastest way to the dark side?

A Darth Elevader

Ny idébog for born

Found a neat kids activity book in Norwegian pop-up art gallery/thrift store (but might actually be Danish).

Half the crafts require a handsaw and do not recommend adult supervision.

Also, a lot of accessories for horses, including a saddle hanger and harness.

How rad is that.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We're Lying to Ourselves

I just realized today that we have been lying. All of us. [Yes, I only JUST realized this...]

When people ask what you like to eat, read, watch, listen to, or do, most of us will say:


Stranger: What kind of music do you listen to?
You: I listen to everything. Even country/techno/top40!

Stranger: What's your favorite food?
You: I'll eat anything. I'm really not a picky eater.

These responses are both lies and I'll tell you why. Short of having the superpower to magically turn off your senses individually, you have no choice but to listen to or digest what you consume with your body. So of course technically you would listen to, watch, eat, read anything. But that's not really the question, is it? We answer in theoretical truth but tell de facto lies.

Just go to a restaurant or ask this person to pick some music to play and you'll see what I mean. I guarantee some form of, "I won't eat this," or "Jesus, Anne, how many Tori Amos albums do you have?!"

So I propose a challenge. Next time someone asks you about your taste in food, music, art, film, literature or lover, be really specific and answer with just one genre or type. Make it up, even. Can't think of something good? Just say the last thing you consumed. And don't even explain why you like it.

Stranger: So what are you into?
Me: Reindeer. Period.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Shout Out" Time

In lieu of making any lists of things I loved this year (and you know I love me my lists), I'm just gonna shed a little light on loved ones who ought to be on someone's list.

If you are looking for a Holiday Party, go to Chip Kidd's band's performance at Dixon Place on the 29th. I know you're thinking Chip doesn't need any more attention than he already gets, but this is different because it's a paid admission concert. But go. Just go.
You get to listen to ArtBreak, which is actually pretty good, and hear Chip's jokes, which are even better. You might even get to see Dash Shaw, and who doesn't want to do that? My "eyes" water every time I see him...

If you are looking for Gifts, I can think of nothing better than a subscription to Cabinet Magazine, which is something of a publishing mystery: people love it but not enough people know about it. If you want to give something a little less pretentious, you could also get Hanakuma's Tokyo Zombie: One of the funniest things I've ever been grossed out by. Translated by ill iterate's own boy-toy Ryan "Electric Ant" Sands.

Speaking of unpretentious trannies, you should also be buying volumes of Museyon Guides and Detroit Metal City and Missin. [It's not shameless self-promotion if I'm not ashamed.]

But if you are seeking a lifetime of gratitude and joy from someone, you will get them...

My working a bit with the Digital Harinezumi-maker, Powershovel, notwithstanding (but there's your full disclosure), in terms of gadgets, this little video-camera has brought me more joy, more whimsy, more happiness, than my first tape deck, CD player, digital camera and three iPhones did... combined. I've been doing my daily Tromso video journal with this thing and love everything it's produced. It would make genital herpes look good.

If you need better reasons to explore Brooklyn south of the BQE and east of the Gowanus, Light Industry has it. Some really interesting film curation going on in this Sunset Park-based venue/organization, and one of the only email newsletters I look forward to getting. For something less pretentious and closer to the G train: New Sound Karaoke. Gender-banging "not in a K-box" sort-of-completely-queer karaoke.

If you need a reason to leave the country, Couchsurfing might be it. I've just learned about this organization in Norway, but it's basically global hitchhiking in the digital age and actually works.

Keep going.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hella Norway

Went to Hella today.
I would have gone based solely on the name of the hamlet (big up Bay Area and Zach Hill!) but it was my Dutch housemate Maiten who proposed the day trip out there.

"There are supposed to be a lot of cool old Norwegian houses and stuff."

It was, in fact, breathtaking. And I have the pictures and video to prove it. Later...

But first, Hella is not a town, village, hamlet, or even a truck stop. It's a cove. There happen to be ten old houses adjacent to it. Nothing spectacular about the houses whatsoever, but they become camping lodges over the summer. In the middle of winter though? Nothing. Everything's locked shut, done. Nothing. At. All.

Again, the view was breathtaking. We spent a solid hour shooting the vanishing point of the Arctic Circle and ice formations in the tundra. We watched seals wade in the water. We listened to birds making unusual sounds.

But an hour of this was really all we could handle in our daywear without food, shelter, or bathroom. Had we known where exactly we were headed, we would have been better prepared. But Hella is not the heaven it was advertised as in the brochures.

So Maiten and I headed back toward the bus stop and figured that because the bus runs every hour out of Tromso in the morning, it must return every hour from Hella. Aaaaand no. The bus runs every (wait for it) 2 and a half hours from Hella back into Tromso. We were stranded in freezing tundra with an hour and a half to kill.

I can safely say I have never been that cold before. I don't think Maiten had, either.
She started to go insane. She screamed "bus!!!" several times and looked like she might cry or start hitting me. I wandered away to take pictures so I was occupied with something else, but my fingers were so frozen I couldn't feel the shutter release. Maiten followed me at a distance and muttered, "why is there no bus" over and over. We were freezing. I started to worry about frost bite. (And as a matter of fact my toes still hurt several hours later.)

We started throwing our thumbs up at every passing car. Even the municipal truck. One old man waved at us. I started to worry hitchhiking didn't exist here.

After about an hour of this, our lips blue, our toes black, our souls crushed, a station-wagon pulled over.

Santa's handsome younger brother leaned across his passenger seat and asked us something in Norwegian. Presumably, "where are you guys headed?" Maiten asked if he was headed to Tromso and he grimaced. Then he said, "Ja ja. OK" and waved us in.

Once in the car Maiten started to explain that the bus we were waiting for was running slower than we'd thought, but Santa's handsome younger brother looked like a reindeer caught in headlights and said,
"I non't (sic) speak Engliss. Just a leetuh."

Maiten and I looked at each other. I whispered that we could probably ask him to drop us off at the first municipal bus stop we saw. Santa's bro asked if we were students. I said no. He asked, "how long you in Tromso?" and I did the dumbest thing I could have possibly done:

I tried to answer him in Norse-Swedish.

See, I studied Swedish for a year at grad school, but that's like saying you know how to play Metallica's "One" on acoustic guitar. It serves no purpose to anyone. Still.

Santa's bro: How long you in Tromso?
Anne: (Four weeks.)
Santa's bro: (Oh, you speak Norse?)
Anne: (I studied some Swedish in college.)
Santa's bro: (And you come from the USA?)
Anne: (Yes, I'm from New York.)
Santa's bro: (Do you like it here?)
Anne: (Yes, I like it here.)

OK. I'm the worst beginning language text book's wettest dream. Every first chapter of conversational foreign language puts you in the middle of nowhere with no recourse but to speak the local language. That was now happening to me, but only because I put myself there. So far, so good. Hooray for ice-breakers!! This stranger now knows how long I'm here and where I'm from. The next logical thing I can think to say is:

What is your name?

He smiled and said something like, "To-rhee-ar." I smiled and said, "Hi Toriar. My name is Anne. Her name is Maiten." I start to feel good. Feel OK about this Swedish conversation with the Norwegian. Figured I'd roll with it and asked the next question:

Do you live in Tromso?

This time he looked at me via the rear-view mirror like I'd just said:

Do you have an anus?

I repeated myself in English. Quickly.

Anyway, we got into Tromso island and I said something like, "you can just drop us off here. We can take the bus." But I'm sure Toriar heard:

I can stop cars with bus stops.

One very valuable sentence though, that every carpetbagging gnome ought to know is tusen takk (Norwegian), or tak så mycket (Swedish).

Thank you very much, Toria.

Toria shook my hand with his gigantic paw (he had some serious contractor hands), and gave me a sympathetic hug. Shit folks, older men here seriously look like Santa Claus, but like, if they were all handsome skiiers. I just gave him a dumb smile. He must have thought I was autistic. I need to learn more Norwegian.

Next time, I'm going straight to Sameland. [This site has already confused several people so I should spell it out: It's a farcical amusement park website. The whole thing is a joke. (One which fells the Saamis and Japanese tourists in one swift move.) And if you can navigate yourself to the "write your own joik" page, I promise it's almost as good as being high on moose knuckles...]

Hella Norway Dec. 8 2009 from Ill Iterate on Vimeo.

Monday, December 7, 2009

How Public Radio Saved My Life

Spend enough time alone in a foreign country (three weeks and counting), and you will start to go a little cuckoo. Stop drinking. Now, expose yourself to only two hours of sunlight.
You aren't religious and you don't meditate.
The closest thing to a spiritual experience you've had is breaking a sweat masturbating.

After three weeks of intense introspection, writing, editing, mountain climbing, hiking, and even a bout of influenza, I'd hit a wall.

Then, public radio saved me.

Don't get me wrong. There's only so much of Prairie Home Companion (one segment and half a ketchup commercial) one can hear before wanting to strangle yourself with the handles of that eco-friendly canvas tote bag you got with your $20 donation-over-12-months.

And last year when WNYC advertised a networking event hosted by Radiolab's Jad Abumrad, I had but one thought:

WNYC Singles Mixer have to be the three saddest words ever uttered in a row.

An angel dies every time Jonathan Schwartz plays music, and I'm waiting for Ira Glass to run his car into a fire hydrant being chased by a Swedish woman who looks like Michael Jackson circa 2000s, so that his closet will finally be emptied of its skeletons and people stop referring to the friggin' "This American Life" segment on the finance scandal that "made more sense than anything I read in the paper." Goddamned limey accents falsely advertise sex appeal to morons who think it makes British news more valid than American news, and I'd pay good money (Euros) to see Jonathan Schaffer and Nic Harcourt face a fire-breathing Jurassic lion in a Gladiator game to the death.

So no. I'm not pimping public radio.
I'm just sayin...

God Bless Public Radio. You have saved my life.

See, it's turned out to be a lot harder to quit media entertainment than I expected. Sure, I've been reading. A LOT. Listening to music too. But it's different when you're totally alone and in the dark. And despite my exile being completely self-imposed, I am no monk. Have no intention of becoming one. I've had five great revelations occur to me in the midst of nature-walks and the like and that's it. I am good.

Even television would suffice to give me a sense of interlocution. But the problem with wanting interlocution without socializing, is that Norway doesn't let you stream any television content online. Not even public television.

And here, enter Public Radio. It's still fair game, and all my favorite podcasts have been backlogging for the past few months waiting for a moment like this: the moment I feel clinical solitude. The moment I seek wholly inconsequential but entertaining information. The moment I cannot curate my own interests anymore. The moment the canvas tote bag actually advertises the radio station to my own self.

Radiolab, The World in Words, Savage Love, and even a little bit of That American Life... all make me feel less alone. (Gay nerd alert in 3, 2...) It's been like my Light of Elendil.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Not Everybody All At Once Now

This whole Tipping Point thing is starting to bother me only now. Probably because of Facebook and Twitter, where people don't seem to get that originality can still sort of matter. I know I'm presuming a lot of my own uniqueness in making such an accusation. And I guess that makes me a useless piece of shit, or whatever Gladwell calls us.

I'm hearing the same insults and same coinages from all sides lately. You know, like when three people tell you about the same obscure children's book in one day? Or when did everyone decide they were "waxing philosophical"? I haven't used the word "wax" since the Karate Kid and I'm pretty sure that, like anal sex, doesn't count. These are not Gladwellian tipping points, granted. It's just "we're all mindless sheep molded by the same laptop BTUs" to notice the same Facebook-status-sized snippets of wit. Does everybody know what I'm talking about? Are these observations watermarked into Starbucks Frappuccino rewards cards?

Here are some observations on observations I would tweet but for the fear of becoming just another observation. Figure a blogroll makes it more meta.

You do know that this won't make it the first shitty movie Hollywood ever made, right?
"Babies" is this year's "Snakes on a Plane"

Your hands look stupid on green felt
Poker fetish today is what Chess fetish was in the 90s, except a lot less deserving.

Who does he play for again? Oh right, I don't care.
Ironic fans of shitty sports teams: No need to tell us who won. That defeats your purpose.

"I will love you for an extended period of time"
There was a time (ten years ago in the Bay Area, five years ago in New York) when any white guy with any Asian girl was labeled "Asian fetish," but you can't by all rights call it an "Asian fetish" if said Asian owns John Mayer's entire catalog and buys all her clothes at Mervyn's, now can you? Calling that a "fetish" that is like saying Thousand Island dressing is an exotic Caribbean chutney, and frankly it's insulting to a lot of us Asian women who have been dying our skin white and dimpling our eyelids with surgical tools and buying John Mayer albums... Let's just not talk about "Asian fetishes" again until Donny Osmond marries a transvestite Gamelan dancer.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cured Meats

I love cured meats. Jerky, salami, prosciutto, salted fish, dried fish... I recently went to two different cured meat stands to buy some reindeer.

Scene 1: Vendor with a little truck and table in the plaza by the harbor. Vendor looks like Santa's venture capitalist Santa Cruz rock-climbing brother.

Anne: (Approaches the table and leans in.)
Vendor: (Says something in Norwegian. Offers me a sliver of salami on the tip of a knife.)
Anne: I don't speak Norse but is that for me to eat?
Vendor: Of course.
Anne: Thanks.
Vendor: Varsågod.
Anne: (Chews the sliver of salami methodically trying to pretend she knows how to distinguish between fine meats. Nods sagely, approvingly, thoughtfully... then, blurts out like an idiot) What is that?
Vendor: Reindeer.
Anne: I like it.
Vendor: Yes. Because it is good.
Anne: (Considers) Okay...
Vendor: You are Asian. This has ginger in it. I though you might like it.
Anne: ...

Scene 2: Vendor with a table under the escalator at the mall. He looks like Santa's other brother. The one who five years ago, asked his two brothers for seed capital to start an "awesome new franchise" he read about on the internet. They were skeptical. He was rubbing his knuckles nervously when he asked for the money. Still, they figured "what the hell," and gave him a hundred thousand kroners anyway because he needed to learn to fend for himself. After the business (seal blubber aromatherapeutic candles) failed, he went back to the family, and took over the holiday gift basket business of curing wild game. Bartered for a space in the mall with his hashish dealer, who still owed him money for a pallet of seal blubber candles he bought and burned through high on Black Pearl (this remains one of his only sales).

Anne: (Approaches table, examines the holiday baskets, moves over to the salami pyramid.)
Vendor: (Pushes up sleeves of his old Jacquard sweater. Says something in Norwegian.)
Anne: I don't speak Norse, but do you have anything special here?
Vendor: Try this. It's moose.
Anne: (Chews sliver of moose salami methodically. Pretending to appreciate the difference in fine meats. Nods sagely, approvingly, thoughtfully...) It's good.
Vendor: Thank you. (Goes on to describe almost all the different sticks of salami on table.)
Anne: (Tries another sliver)
Vendor: Where you come from?
Anne: New York.
Vendor: Woof! (Note: he's not barking like a dog. This is just more an approximation of a "whoa" or "wow" sound.) New York is big. Tromso is small.
Anne: That's why I'm here.
Vendor: Tromso not too small for you?
Anne: No way.
Vendor: (To himself) New York... woof. (Gasps) New York...
Anne: (Thinks about what "Empire State of Mind, Part 2" would sound like if he sang Alicia Keyes' part) Can I buy half of one? It's just for myself to eat.
Vendor: Of course.
Anne: What's this? (Points to a dark meat)
Vendor: That is, how do you say... deer with (gestures antlers with his fingers).
Anne: Reindeer?
Vendor: No... buck! It is buck jerky.
Anne: (Giggles) I'll take it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Compartmentalizing My Web Presence

I just wanted to let everyone know there is yet another web outlet for ill itericisms.

Kristy at Fantagraphics was nice enough to call out to me at San Diego Comic-Con this year. Told me I should do some writing for The Comics Journal, which is like telling someone who watches Nova they should contribute to The National Geographic.

Anyway, I'm taking this opportunity to announce my light blogging presence on the subject of Japanese media and manga in particular, chez TCJ. The site was still not up last time I went there but it'll be running within the week, I presume. Here's a little teaser of what I've got in store for you:

The dying wish of a 10 year old girl with vascular cancer was to see 'Up' before she died. Pixar made it happen.
No one was dying to see Astro-boy.

I'm also taking this opportunity to finally compartmentalize my web presences.

I still consider this blogger/Giant Robot platform the motherboard because I aggregate everything here and can shamelessly pimp my own work. For example, even though I'll be blogging about manga on TCJ, I can't by all rights pimp Detroit Metal City there, as it'd be shameless self-promotion.

Here, however, I can tell you to go fucking buy Detroit Metal City 3 or I will never talk to you again.

Race-related Asian-Americana is still at Status Quoted.
Self-related smorgasbord is still here.
Japanese media-related blogoyavich is now at The Comics Journal,
and anything more useless or personal is on any of the fifty thousand social networking sites I can't seem to pry myself away from. (Don't be offended if we can't be friends on those networks. Just. Don't. It's unbecoming of you.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Rites of Foreign Passage

Every major city in the world has its own initiation. You haven't really been in LA till you've sat in traffic, and what's a movie about New York without a surly cab driver honking at you?

Well, here are some initiation rites I've passed that I think can be described as pretty standard, if only a little traumatizing.

Paris: Stepping in dog shit.
Tokyo: Pressing the wrong button on a high-tech toilet and wetting yourself.
Osaka: Pressing the wrong button on a low-tech toilet and flooding the bathroom.
Los Angeles: Being stopped by a complete stranger who tells you smoking will kill you. That, or evangelists.
New York: Racial come-on. Even if you're white.
San Francisco: Lesbian come-on. Even if you're male.
Berkeley/East Bay: Arguing with self-important college students and homeless bums alike. Double-whammy: arguing with a homeless self-important college student.
Washington D.C.: Fuck D.C.
Boston: Being subject to a completely unsolicited rant about the Yankees.
Milan: Your decent pronunciation of a word is harshly corrected, and their pronunciation just sounds like an exaggerated mockery of the Italian language...but it's actually just the Italian language.
Toronto: This one's a little complicated. Thing is, when you arrive, everyone's going to tell you the price of things in "Canadian dollars." In other words they have to point out the fact that it's not American dollars, every time, like you're retarded and didn't know you were in Canada. The rite of passage is when people stop adding "Canadian dollars" to every fucking fiscal figure they cite you.
Beijing: The Great Wall. Seriously.
Seoul: Throwing up on a sidewalk. Seriously.
Singapore: Leaving the airport.
Bali: Realizing how crappy home is and that you want to move here, as soon as possible.
Vegas: Realizing how crappy Vegas is and that you want to go home, as soon as possible.
Oslo: Delayed currency-conversion-shock. The American dollar (fuck you Canada) is weak like a Jamie Foxx album.
Tromso: Slipping on and icy sidewalk and eating shit with the back of your head. No one helps you up. It's happened to me and I've seen it happen to at least three other people. I'm going to give Tromsons the benefit of the doubt and assume it's because they don't want you to feel embarrassed.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I took a tiny little wee portion of an "anti-insomnia" pill today (like a third of the tablet). I don't know why. Just thought it might help me feel more "day-like."

After a little breakfast muesli and coffee I was sure I hadn't taken enough to do anything meaningful...But then... I promptly wrote a couple thousand words of "my novel," did 12 sun salutations, ran to the park (2 miles), did thirty pushups, attempted a dozen handstands, pullups, ran back home, "got biblical," went to the public pool, sweat in a sauna for like thirty minutes while all the children and adolescents who came into same sauna (it's a big sauna) stood or sat in the exact opposite corner and stared at me looking scared.

I was doing yoga stretches. Can't blame them.

Got dressed afterward. Elicited same gaping looks from children and adolescents in locker room that I did in sauna. Looked down and realized on my shirt is an illustration of a monkey with a boner.

Nice one, Anne.

Had dinner with both housemates (slow-cooked reindeer. MMmmmMMMmm). Reindeer meat starts to slow down my momentum. We discuss our travels. I mention trips to Italy and Bali this year. Mention I'm going to Mongolia the next.

Connie (ex-secret ops engineer for government, turned acupuncturist. No I'm not making this up) tells me that sounds exactly like Eat, Pray, Love, which, apparently, is about a woman who eats in Italy, prays in India, and loves in Bali.

My heart sinks.
I have abhorred this book, in principle, since the day the zeitgeist started handing them out to everyone in my Brooklyn demographic (mostly because everyone recommended it to me and I was just being a stuck-up publishing flack). By 2007, if someone said, "I LOVE this book," I'd roll my eyes. By 2009 I'd de-friend that person. But this whole time I had no idea what the damned book was about (except something about a woman's self-realization). I feel like a cliché. Connie says:

The book's the cliché, not you.

Adds that she hated the book because it was "egomaniacal." I thank her. Decide since Tromso isn't India, I'm not "Pray" but...


F++k my life

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What's the longest you've been in the dark?

Just reached the halfway point of my trip and wish I didn't have to go back. Does anyone want to take care of all my crap stateside so I don't ever have to leave?

People worried it'd be too cold or dark for me here but the reality is that Arctic Norway is probably warmer than a good portion of the northern U.S. and what light we do have is so other-wordly it's like watching the world's longest sunset.
(High Noon)

Still, I've been spending a lot of time in the comfort of a heated home. What would I know about cold and dark? (Cue vag joke)
Even in my discipline to spend as much time as possible outside, three hours of ambient haze without a car means I don't go very far. And yet I haven't felt The Need because I'm so comfortable with The Urge.

The Urge.
My Dutch housemate Maiten invited me to go with her to Sommarøy yesterday, because someone on the couchsurfing-dot-org forum she follows offered to carpool people to the remote island. The carpooler, Andrei, was a music teacher who had three lessons on the island (guitar, guitar, bass), and figured if anyone wanted to hitch a ride they may as well take the two other seats in his truck. That was Maiten and me.

The drive to Sommarøy was short but long.
Anyone who's driven up the windy roads to Big Bear or the Lick Observatory or anything similar will know what I mean. The distance isn't long but maaan is it windy. Of course we weren't driving up mountains, but along fjords. Imagine an ant traversing an a
ccordion's bellows. That was us.

When we finally got to the island, the view took my breath away.
Several times.
After my zillionth failed attempt to capture it on camera/film, I realized what made the scene breathtaking: the tenable sense of a beyond.

Before I took this trip I'd fantasized about ideas of going "north" for years. Dreams of sailing through glacial waters and looking straight up the façade of mineral deposits. Of course I've also fantasized about real estate and seven-figure book deals. I was doing nothing about any of my fantasies... That is, until I found myself prancing along the equator to Bali. Then, I had to. absolutely. without question. come up here. I couldn't put my finger on "why" until today.
When you look out from the edge of the edge of a place like Sommarøy, and see mountains, islands and waves leagues away, you get a tenable sense of the beyond. Something akin to looking up at stars and space, I'd imagine, but just close enough that you can fantasize being there.

I could fantasize being there, forever.

But that is the urge. To control that urge is key. When I went to Fløya the first time I was awestruck by the grandness of my surroundings, because I wasn't at the top of the mountain, but when I went the second time I was completely overwhelmed by having hit the summit. In Japan, you're supposed to watch the cherry blossoms fall, to appreciate the fleeting context of its splendor, whereas for most everyone else the point is to marvel at cotton candy trees.

And I guess what I'm describing is a mundane extension of Lacanian desire. I've been seduced by the North Pole!

(Anne heaves a starstruck sigh)
You sink with the heart, not with the mind.

[And I promise no more cheeseballs after this. For cheese please go to my vimeo daily video journal. I'm going back to dedicating this platform to funny.]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Borealis

a v
e l i
r s i n
o g

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Leave your baby at the door please.

So I'm walking through downtown Tromso and notice: people leave their big ass baby strollers outside of stores. I like it.

Coming from South Brooklyn, I look at this and think, "Gawd, why can't Brooklynites do this too?!"
You know what I'm talkin' about, all you Park Slopers. You're fighting your way to the bar past a heard of strollers that look more like Hummers, feeling bad for the parents who can't quite travel with anything a. smaller or b. more bar-appropriate than a baby. It's quite nice to see this honor system stroller parking outside of stores. You know, to keep wheel-traffic indoors to a cool minimum.

Then I walked past one of these strollers and noticed something inside:

A friggin' baby.

People here don't just leave there strollers outside of stores. They leave their friggin' children in them!!
Frightening. Frightening but also heartening.
Please no one steal those little things.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Really big hand job

Went to a "shoe maker" yesterday to buy some cleats/spikes for my boots so I could do more substantial mountain climbing.

The shoe maker gave me a set of rubber pull-on spikes to wrap around the sole of my boots. They were tight and I was having a hard time pulling the rubber hook over the heel, when he said in broken English:

It's tough rubber. It will be a really big hand job.

Did I mention I'm twelve?

Anyway, I really should have ponied up for bigger spikes. It could have made today's hike a lot less frightening.
All I have to say about today is, "thank God for Swedish nurses and Crossfit."

Tromso Nov. 24, 2009 from Ill Iterate on Vimeo.

Monday, November 23, 2009

10 Things I learned from Norwegian MTV

I have a house-mate as of yesterday. She's a Dutch film major doing a documentary on polar nights. After dinner last night she turned on the TV and the local MTV-like channel was the only thing that made sense to either of us. Though neither of us watches it, the TV is centrally located in the living room where we both do all our editing, so I've essentially caught up on ten years worth of commercial music in the last two days.

And this is what I've learned about pop music in the last 48 hours.

1. I finally understand why people are in such an uproar about autotune. It's pervasive as hell. But you know what? It looks like autotune is keeping a lot of talented hip-hop dancers out of prostitution, so let them have it. I love watching good coordinated pop music dance. Especially a guy rocking his own version of a pop-rock-roll. I'll watch it with autotune if that's what it takes.

If however, you do not know how to do a perfect neck jerk, snap, coordinated kick-step or rock nod, you do not deserve autotune.

2. Speaking of autotune... Lil' Jon autotuned? Really? That's like auto-tuning Gilbert Godfried. Come to think of it that could be pretty sweet. (Calling his agent)

3. The Black Eyed Peas suck my big black balls.

4. Dr. Dre is way hotter than Jay-Z, which settles the age old debate of West Coast versus east Coast for me.

5. Never watch Lady Gaga while eating food.

6. I finally understand why Time magazine named Kanye black Jesus (pre-Obama). His videos are facsimiles of every pop cultural phenomenon they've reported on in the last thirty years.

7. Kelis. Yes.

8. Music videos could be a great avenue for fashion marketing. Why isn't it happening?

9. Don't show off your tattoos in slow motion. It's really lame.

10. Someone please send Norway some better music. They're rolling in klondikes and won't blink if you charge them $60 for a CD.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

But it's like $241!

Yeah... This is the difference between us, in a nutshell.

We got Snuggies.
They got this.


Today, I wish I had ever been skiing or to some place like Aspen before, so I could say without any question that walking/hiking to Peak Fløya was so many many more times better. The hike itself was really mild (several children were out at least in the first half), and the peak not very high, but it was freeeeezing. And to be able to see the Norwegian Alps in the split-second of direct sunlight I had, from up here, was mind-altering.

Add the wind washing through every exposed inch of skin and... I think I'll go ahead and draw comparison to a baptism since it's Sunday after all.

I could have walked straight into another universe. It was nice.

Tromso Nov. 22, To Fløya Peak from Ill Iterate on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


This is what happens when you have the flu in Tromso and can't ingest food for four straight days.

The very MILI-SECOND I was back on my feet I speed-skated through town and purchased my way through a list of things I'd started to crave. Including:

+The biggest brick of national cheese I could get my hands around.
+Two pieces of cheesecake. One chocolate and covered in marshmallow, the other, chocolate and covered in lingonberry jam.
+2 inches of some kind of beef salami. (I seriously did a double-take walking past a butcher. Went in, asked the clerk to cut about "that much" off the thing I was pointing at)
+1 leg of chicken, prepared (because it just looked correct)
+5 pounds of Basmati rice
+1 pound of fresh shrimp caught on the water that morning (also because it just seemed right)
+Beef Bouillon cubes
+A bag of Anise stars
+Rice Noodles (If you guys are predicting Pho night, you are RIGHT)
+Cans of peas
+High fat milk
+Chili peppers
+Carrots, mushrooms, lemon
+More apple juice and seltzer

Once I got over my hunger high I remembered to buy postcards and stamps, then promptly ran into the woman who drove me to the ambulance when I was convinced my flu was actually Death.

Sitje: Hello! You are doing alright?
Anne: I'm doing great! I'm about to buy two pieces of cheesecake. Thanks again for taking me to the ambulance.
Sitje: Good good. OK.
Anne: Takk.

Friday, November 20, 2009

German Scientists Gone Innuendo

I'm staying at a boat house (not to be confused with a house-boat, or... a boat), where currently there is also a trio of German virologists and seal researcher in Tromso presumably doing, well... research on viruses and seals. I believe their last night here is tomorrow. They're doing dinner altogether in the communal living room, which makes me the apologetic mole in the corner.

But let me set the stage.

It's two German men, one Norwegian man (all robust, all Wintered and strong-looking), and one abnormally hot blond German woman at least ten years younger than all of them.

I'll give you a second to do the math.

Conversation here has been excellent. Hot Blond with her Dietrich eyes asks the Norwegian to teach her how to say numbers. Bigger German waxes arrogantly about everything from yogurt to who gave the best talk on small pox at last year's virology conference (not Bernie Moss, oh no...). Smaller German offers to go buy the cheese they need for the lasagna they're cooking together (which btw, is the most swinger-ish dish ever!).

Best snippet of conversation so far, between the two men most likely to get into Dietrich-eyes' pants:

Bigger German: If this whole virology thing doesn't work out I'm going to open a restaurant in Tromso and make a lot of money.
Norwegian: I don't mean to insult you but German food isn't very reputed around the world. It's just sauerkraut and sausages.
Bigger German: (Dead stare into Norwegian's eyes) I haven't had sauerkraut in a year.
(Long pause)

Update: OK, now all three of them are staring at her as she eats a piece of chocolate cake. Brilliant.

Count All Fifty-nine Failures in This Ad

Sorry the image is so tiny. Let me magnify it for you:
iTunes Essentials recommends (as I listen to Animal Collective) that I download "Indie Rock Love Songs." Incredulous, I follow the Genius Bar's link and read the description:

Not all indie rock songs are about anger and boredom. In fact love songs are what we think indie rock bands do best.

The very definition of "ecstasy"

I just had my very first bite of real food. After three days of nothing but apple juice and seltzer, my stomach has finally stopped convulsing long enough for me to brave the ten minute walk to the soup cafe.

Homemade cream of broccoli soup. Holy shit was it delicious. I felt as each molecule of chlorophyl in the broccoli and each cellulose gram of creamy fat digested and oh my god oh my god real food is so friggin' good.

The definition of a bad tourist: On my way back to the house, I came across an "internasjonalmathuset" (International Food House). Basically an Asian sundry grocer but with an entire aisle devoted to ramen!!! Have I died and gone to heaven? The good tourist is just entertained by this occurrence. A bad one (me) buys out their stock of Kimchi Ramyun.

The photo above, btw, was taken at 9:30am. I still haven't seen the actual Sun, but I presume it should happen any second now.

Tromso Nov. 20 2009 from Ill Iterate on Vimeo.

The very definition of "frustration"

I'm being told today that last night was the best night to see the Northern Lights because of the Leonid Meteor Shower that took place the day before.

What was I doing last night at the peak of this Northern Light show? Feverishly sleeping out this damned flu.

They (a group of German veterinary scientists staying on the lower floor) keep reiterating that last night was the night to catch the lights.

Gah. Well, I think I caught part of the meteor shower... I guess there's that...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tromso Day 1, Take 3

It's humbling to be in a place like Tromso, a place so far into the North of the Earth that the sun is out for only four hours of the "day." It is not humbling simply because of the change in environment, but because when something like the motherfucking flu hits you, you realize you can't really ever do anything totally alone. Without phones or friends, I ended up emailing the owner of this house, and they sent their daughter to fetch me. Sitje is basically my new best friend.

So my first three days into the four week sojourn to Arctic Norway have been addled by all the flu symptoms we know and love. Try them alone in the dark. You will seriously begin to wonder if you haven't just lost your mind. Fortunately, the respite has been worth the pain.

The sky here is beyond words.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Black Metal Which Sucks, Which Does Not Suck

I should have known that a Black Metal show at Union Pool would be problematic. Here's what I learned.

You should not have a black metal band if:

+One of your instruments is sleigh bells. [Seriously.]
+Your audience consists mostly of really hot chicks. [I'm sorry, but it's like when white people "know" a good Asian restaurant by how many "actual asian" patrons are in there. Black metal is for plain janes and dudes. Period. You don't go to Panda Express for quality Schezuan. Don't go to Contempo Casuals for quality noise.]
+You still think playing with the word "Christ" is clever.

You should have a black metal band if:

+Your drummer can do the tap dance from hell on a double-bass drum for an hour straight.
+You can gut your pharynx like a Tyrannosaurus Rex for five minutes. Then between songs, in borderline radio DJ voice you can say, "could you turn up the drums on my monitor?" Then go right back to jurassic war with your microphone.
+I say so.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

B'doun O'mr (Ageless)

If you like black metal you will love Nader Sadek, who joins art with Arabic elements and well, metal.

Go to this.
Just go.
It will blow your mind.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Paula Scher, on introducing ideas to clients:

"I used to always bring in three design options to a client, and deliberately have one bad option in there, thinking that would force them to choose one of the designs I actually like.

The client always chose the bad one."

Clients, get on your marks.


The first time I went to Tromso Norway it was with Kaori Ekuni, for Ördkalotten. Accompanied by a gay Oslowegian, we were like Three's Company-Version Linklater. I'd been five months out of an epic June filled with tragedy. Five days out of a much less meaningful milestone of ennui.

The trip was other-worldly and mundane all at once. I did not see northern lights or consume any exotic food or drink, but I spent a lot of time outdoors with Ekuni, talking about relationships. We had one memorable walk by a fjord that ended with dinner at a local family's home, replete with a lanky goth teenage son who shit on everything his dad said.

Now, I know that talking about relationships on a blog is sort of like...well it's stupid and no one should do it. Ever. However talking about talking about relationships is fine, I think. And trust me, with a gay Oslowegian, it's even better. And believe it or not, the following exchange between us as characters (heartbroken, heart beat, heartbreaker), about sums up everything you'll ever need to know about love.

Anne: I have a joke. What do you call pussy that tastes like shit? (Repeats joke in Japanese)
Ekuni: What?
Anne: An overbite.
Arild: That joke doesn't apply to me.
Anne: OK. What do you call dick that tastes like shit? (Repeats joke in Japanese)
Arild: Success.

I'd taken hundreds of pictures but they were all lost in one of my last three hard drive crashes/thefts, so I'm considering my next trip to the North Pole, recompense.

Thank you, Nick, for the extra cameras. I'm ecstatic to show the results of my Digital Ari. I have also started a Vimeo account for video updates. Hammertime.

Candelaborate from Ill Iterate on Vimeo.

Monday, November 9, 2009

dickchicken and the french

This week I host a pair of French friends visiting New York: Oz and Julien. Both are hard-core kids turned social workers, which makes sense in exactly the same way that mean kids turn into cops in the U.S. Last night we walked from Giant Robot NY in the East Village (which you allllll know), to Williamsburg and had The Convergence Crazies.

Part I: The three of us stopped at Village Yokocho for some Calpico--a sublime beverage that hasn't made its way to France yet. The last time Oz was in NY he came with his mother, and we three did the same exact thing at Go on 8th St.

Unbelievably, the table seated next to us at Yokocho...was the same exact group that sat next to us at Go last time. The. Same. Exact. Three. People. (We remember them perfectly because they all had very distinguishing characteristics, not the least of which was a tie-dyed afro.)

Part II: After we downed some Calpico and onigiri we headed out for the walk of hipster champions. Julien started talking about a show in France called "New York: Unité Investigative Speciale." I told him I had no clue what he was talking about. Julien was making the point that being in New York walking around at night he couldn't help but sing the theme song to himself.

Duhn-DUHN ba ba ba-da daaaa

Anne: Oh my god you're talking about LAW&ORDER.

We cross the Williamsburg Bridge, singing every single note of the theme song. With two singers you can capture every single note. We're annoying everyone on fixed-gear bikes or wearing Girlfriend Jeans on the way. Oz keeps telling us we're stupid. By the apex of the bridge, we are actually belting out the song top volume.

When we land on the other side of the bridge we are exhausted. We head to the waterfront for picture ops, have a few cigarettes, talk about our friends. On our way from the waterfront to the bars, we come across a "dickchicken" tag. Julien stops dead in his tracks.

Julien: It's Dick Wolf's son!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Carrying the Coke Zero

Just got a reference to "fluorescent beige" ("Precious") from a Charlie I thought I knew, but turned out to be a different Charlie who I don't know at all. Made the same mistake with two different dudes named Shane, a couple weeks ago, sending one of them a very confusing and obscene email. A frenchman just told me through a pay phone to meet at Grand Central but I thought he said Parc Central and now I'm supposed to find a statue of an eagle or wings. I have no idea what I'm hearing anymore.

I need a flux capacitor and a coke.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Crapsical Musicians

I was just being apprised of a string quartet famous for performing with rappers (Osso), and it made me think...
Where are the bastard children of rap and classical music?

Ice Cubist
Chuck D Minor
Eazy E Major
Beastie Boys Choir sings "No Sleep Till Harlem"
Lil' Kim (the Korean violin prodigy)
Tupac: Piano for Four Hands, performing "Tupachabelle's Canon"
Dr. Doremi
The Suzuki Method Man

Steve RZAich
Busta Brahms
Red Schumann
Scarlatti Face
Da Bussy
Run-DMC performs "U Bee Thoven"
Stravinskee-Lo performs "I wish (I was a little bit Mahler)"

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Best Story Ever I Will Have Ever Told About Children.

Preface: My friend Matt is a private school teacher of general music and jazz at a private school. Said school, The Little Red Schoolhouse, is a very progressive institution with none of the rules you and I engaged in at public schools. Run in a horizontal hierarchy, all the adults--from janitor to director (principal)--are on a first-name basis and get equal credence. They have a board of directors composed of professional saints. Though the Little Red credo benefits from this in the strange celebrity student body it attracts, stories like this could take place anywhere.

Recently, Matt was co-teaching a third grade class of about 20 eight year olds. They were standing on choir risers learning Pete Seger. Matt was at his laptop preparing the next class and Lidell (the other co-teacher) was conducting a melody. All of a sudden, Cameron Glass (son of Philip) starts sobbing quietly.

Lidell: What's wrong, Cameron? (Gives Matt a bewildered look)
Cameron: (sniffling) I'm sad that Michael Jackson is dead.

Lidell looks at Matt, unsure of what to do or say here. The kids standing next to Cameron gently stroke his back and say, "it'll be OK." I like to think the neighboring children were Bowies and De Koonings.

Cameron: My dad bought tickets to his concert but he died two weeks before! (Sobbing louder)
Lidell: Well, we can still listen to his music. Matt, do you have any Michael Jackson in your computer?
Matt: Yes. (Laughs) Yes I do.

Matt starts foraging his library for Michael Jackson tunes and starts with "A,B,C" at maximum volume.

The kids go nuts.

Lidell: (Looks at Matt) Let's have a Michael Jackson dance party.

All the kids start dancing. The teachers start dancing. Matt plays "Thriller," "Billie Jean," "Beat it," "I Want you Back." The whole room is now bursting with Michael Jackson and a room of children and adults are pointing in the air, waving their arms, jumping up and down. Cameron slowly gets into it, swaying side to side and then eventually wipes the snot off his face and smiles. By "Beat It," all his cares are gone. As they are dancing, the kids start requesting "Bad."

Now, "Bad," for those who don't already know, was released in 1987, at least ten years before any of these children were born. The opening lyrics are:

Your butt is mine,
Gonna take you right,
Just show your face.
In Broad Daylight
I'm Telling You
On How I Feel
Gonna Hurt Your Mind
Don't Shoot To Kill
Come On, Come On,
Lay It On Me All Right...

According to Wikipedia, in his 1988 memoir, Moonwalk, MJ said of "Bad":

"Bad" is a song about the street. It's about this kid from a bad neighborhood who gets to go away to a private school. He comes back to the old neighborhood when he's on a break from school and the kids from the neighborhood start giving him trouble. He sings, "I'm bad, you're bad, who's bad, who's the best?" He's saying when you're strong and good, then you're bad.

"Bad" comes on the speakers and the kids are now all over the room, doing their Michael Jackson impersonations, replete with castrati-style "hooo!"s, "shamow!", and of course, moonwalking.

I wonder when they learned these things but mostly I marvel at the irony of rich 8-year olds (Mike's favorite kind of person) celebrating his music and begging for "Bad."
This story makes me really happy.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Good morning, Long Beach

The beach made for the one-hour experience: speed walkers, joggers, waiting out the morning on a bench.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Virgin America

If I wanted to be inside a dating website apholstered by CaseLogic in a color-scheme of iPod white and vagina pink (if this vagina were shot on the set of Tron), and populated with nothing but smug flirts, I'd just move to San Francisco.

Instead I took a Virgin America flight to Los Angeles.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Carsick Cars Guests at Museyon Launch Party

Museyon Guides is having a launch party on Nov.4 (6-8pm) at Von (3 Bleecker, off Bowery) for the upcoming release of Museyon:Music+Travel.

12 Cities, 12 Scenes:

Addis Ababa, Ethiopop
Chicago, Jazz
Los Angeles county/Laurel Canyon, Country
Beijing, Experimental
Istanbul, Classical
Mumbai, Pop
Berlin, Electronica
Dublin, Punk
Buenos Aires, Cumbia
Paris, Hip-Hop
Melbourne, Art Rock
Moscow, Chanson

I'm gonna say it, but I'm more excited about the Music book than the Film trilogy, only because it's been curated down to 12 really choice experiences. The Film books are more like a history lesson. You can actually take Museyon: Music to your damned bucket list and come out blown away. This is not a diss on all the wonderful writing and photography and design in Film+Travel. Just that Music+Travel is more compact and episodic.

And as far as the launch party is concerned, you would be completely, absolutely, horribly remiss to ignore the opportunity to see members of Carsick Cars (Xiao He and Jeffray Zhang Shouwang) do a special performance before they go full out on their first North American tour.

If you haven't heard or heard of the Carsick Cars, you haven't been pretending to keep up with back issues of The Wire. And that's fine.

But let's put it this way: Carsick Cars will be for Beijing-NY relations what the Boredoms were for Japanese "noise" and the rest of us still pretending we've kept up reading The Wire. And you don't want to say you missed that chance.

Things I will never do:

1. Run my hands through a mohawk
2. Buy Uggs, Gladiator Sandals or a Coldplay CD
3. Dress up as a sexy maid or a fart for Halloween

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Decoding Hangovers

I am occasionally shocked with myself for having only gotten drunk for the first time freshman year of college in a dorm suite (pictured above). Everyone seems to have partied well through high school, and I swore beer was about the grossest thing created by man. Since this inaugural night at the vomitorium I've considered what it means to be a heavy drinker. Usually over prayers and promises never to drink again because I'm so friggin' hungover.

The last time I swore off drinking was after a bunch of birthday revelers and I hit up Dino's Bikini Bar for an ostensible "night cap." We really just wanted to make fun of the sorry people who patronize bars like that, completely unaware that we were a bunch of sorry people about to patronize a bar like that.

After Dino's I tried twice, unsuccessfully, to take a cab home to Brooklyn from Chelsea. After the second cab defeated me in my quest to make the world stop spinning, I decided I had to take more serious measures. Slumped against the wall of an unmarked warehouse I meted my superpower--vomiting--to make the Earth stop moving.

With headlights scratching at my face like sandpaper, I turned my face away and saw in my carryall bag an open bottle of vodka. "That damned Canadian..." I though. Some canuck left it in my bag, and now I smell like the entirety of Manhattan. (Always blame the Canadians.) Somehow I got home and kept meting my superpower, again, swearing off booze... or at least vodka and Canadians.

The next day, I discovered The Hangover Cure:

+Hot and Sour soup
+Fried kimchi
+Water (and this is going to sound weird, but a little bit of salt helps it taste less like aluminum)
+Singing out loud
+A lot of self-reflection
+A short but fast jog

I'm halfway through fried kimchi and coffee today, trying to recall that Ginsberg poem about vomiting through the years (yeah, which one, right?). I wonder if God likes vodka.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I know next to nothing about DJs but I love me my Powershovel/Superheadz.

This Friday, power up for Halloween with some toy camera love at Powerhouse Books in DUMBO where Powershovel celebrates their "raibei" (coming to America). Eddie Murphy won't be there but everyone else will be.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

So much depends on a read email.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chinatown Sticks

I somehow downed two pints while eating a hamburger with an old friend and got drunk. Realized I was in no shape to go on to the cmj show I planned on which would require drinking the rest of the day.

On my walk back home from the restaurant, a man approached me and this is the dialogue that proceeded:

Man: excuse me, could you hold this bag open? (Gives me a Dunkin Donuts bag) I need to take my donut out and put my coffee back in.
Anne: (confused but a little drunk) Sure.
(We keep walking, in the same direction)
Man: I like your shirt. Chinatown. It looks like you got it in Chinatown.
Anne: Thanks.
Man: Your hair too. You like you're from chinatown.
Anne: (silence)
Man: You eat with sticks?
Anne: Pardon?
Man: You know... (does scissor gesture with fingers)
Anne: Oh, sure.
Man: There's a chinese restaurant on Columbia with booths. You sit on one side, I sit on the other, we order food and talk. unless you like buffets.
Anne: (a little confused) That's nice.
Man: I want to learn how to eat with sticks.
Anne: It's really not hard.
Man: Yeah? My cousin eats with them like he was born that way. How long have you been eating with sticks?
Anne: I have no idea.
Man: I'm a construction worker. My name's Al. I work with a lot of chinese people. I'm in Chinatown all the time. What do you do?
Anne: I'm in publishing.
Man: You mean computers and stuff?
Anne: ... Yes.
Man: Are you married?
Anne: ... Yes.
Man: Well, this is where I turn. Into the projects. I bet you don't live in the projects. You're going past the park.
Anne: Yes.
Man: It was nice meeting you, Anne.
Anne: It was nice meeting you, Al.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Japan's first lady voted "best looking in jeans" by the Japan Jeans Association.

In other news, the Minister of Finance was voted "Most Likely to Become a Schoolteacher" and the Internal Security Deputy was voted "Best Hairdo."

(via AP)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Before. After.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thanks to Alexis for bringing this gem of yellow fever to light.

"A Self-Guided Study of Japanese Food: (Setting) out to understand Japanese food traditions but finding out how modern and trendsetting it really is." (From Food & Wine magazine)

A. What year is it? 1985? Because if "discovering" trendy Japanese cuisine is novel, then I must still be wearing an acid-washed jean jacket with a pink L.A. Gear varsity patch glued onto the back.

B. This line:
I didn't have to try hard to appreciate the flavor of the grilled sanma. It was obviously delicious.
I feel sorry for whoever has to sleep with her.

C. This dialogue:
Harris ordered the sanma becaise ot was shun. In response to my blank look, he explained: He’d ordered a mackerel pike (sanma) that was at the peak of seasonality (shun). Shun is a critical concept in Japanese cuisine. Said Harris, “Japanese culture is so food-obsessed, even the mailman knows when an ingredient is at the height of its seasonality.
I want to know the mailman that describes his lunchtime bento box as "shun."

Thanks, Alexis.


It turns out life-changing vacations are nothing new.
There's even a book out there specifically about how women can "get their groove back" in Bali. I'm annoyed that my transformation is a cliché. Enough of a cliché to have warranted a best-selling book I'm going to refuse to look up.

A catalog of lessons and promises.

a. The rate at which I smoke cigarettes now would give Joe Camel a non-metaphorical boner. As a counter-vice I'm going to try never to throw out a cigarette butt on the sidewalk or road again.

b. I've momentarily lost my appetite. I've replaced it with wanderlust, and before my passport expires, I plan on filling the last eight squares of blank immigration papers with stamps from Norway, Mongolia, France and South Africa.

c. Most music sucks. I'm going to see more live music.

d. There will always be elephants in a room. Ride them.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Changi Airport


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Good, Bad, Ugly

Situations which start out good and end up ugly, none of which (thank god) have actually happened to me.

Good: You run into an ex. You're seeing someone new so you have leverage.
Bad: He's with a new girl, and she's prettier than you.
Ugly: She starts talking and it becomes obvious she doesn't speak a sentence's worth of English.

Good: You just made an awesome new friend.
Bad: They invite you to go with them to a rave.
Ugly: You laugh thinking they're joking and they're not.

Good: You get into work early. You're amped about getting business done.
Bad: Your boss is sitting at your desk.
Ugly: He has a boner.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Great moments in translation

Some great things I've had to decipher of late:

Literal translation: "The temperature and the temperature were a degree off."
Ishii-ese: "The temperature missed the atmosphere by mere degrees."
Potpourri: "I got a masters degree. It's a bunch of hot air."

Literal translation:
"Those are the hills we see from the city? They're the wrong shape."
"That's because we're inside the hills."
"We're inside the hills?"
"Yes, inside."
"These are the same hills?"
Ishii-ese: (Calling David Mamet. BRB)
Potpourri: "My bumps, my bumps. My itty bitty bumps."

Literal translation: "It was like he'd been beaten by the stick of life."
Ishii-ese: "He looked really beat up."
Potpourri: "I'll show you a stick of life."

Literal translation: "I'm making whipped cream of love."
Ishii-ese: "I'm making whipped cream of love."
Potpourri: "I'm making whipped cream of love."


Rodney King won in his Celebrity Boxing match against a Simon Auoud, an ex-bad cop (not one that beat him up in 1993, however).

For all of Celebrity Boxing's dick cheese, I gotta hand it to them. This was a great versus. I mean who cares about Uwe Bolle or Danny Bonnaducci (sp is wrong. I know, I know.). Here are some more suggested versuses (sp is wrong. Dude, who cares.)

Don King v. Al Sharpton
Odds on: Sharpton
Advantage: Jowel-slap

Terry Gilliam v. Tim Burton
Odds on: Gilliam
Advantage: Not having to cast himself with Johnny Depp

Nancy Pelosi v. Hillary Clinton, pantsuit competition.
Odds on: Pelosi
Advantage: Bill Clinton

Spitzer v. Sanford in a Jack-off-Off
Odds on: Hmmm... This is hard (badum dum). Sanford would probably pull some below the belt moves (badum dum dum... "thanks, I'm here all week"), but Spitzer's hand will probably let him have unprotected anal sex (crickets).
Advantage: vaseline.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More Speaker goodness

The importance of eating earnestly... Isn't that the real message of 2009?
You ever have one of those wholesome meals whereupon at first bite a single 9-year old boy soprano materializes in your head and sings one long "amen"?

Imagine making that your living.
Brian Halweil publishes Edible in the NYC-area (you've no doubt seen your local Edible magazine affiliate at local whole food markets), and was cuisining local produce before localvore was even listed in

He also rocks panama hats.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Speaker Spotlight: Paula Scher

The name Pentagram might not mean anything to you, but the word evokes a sort of fear, doesn't it? Maybe it's just my Christian upbringing. Yet Pentagram is sort of a feel-good Fearmonger. It can be scary without implications of Satanic ritual, because as one of the world's most prestigious design firms, they've designed the face of more corporations than they haven't. You heard me right. They have worked on more logos and corporate identities than they haven't. As jeff pointed out once, the question is not "what brands have they worked on?" but, "what brands haven't they worked on?" This is not exaggeration.

Citibank, U.S. Postal Service, Saks Fifth, Bloomberg, Pepsi, The Met, The Atlantic... to name a few more readily identifiable looks.

Now, Paula Scher is the doyenne of Pentagram, and she's conversing with Chip Kidd about what makes them celebrity designers (among other things), at the Imprint Culture Lab conference.

Once again, if any of you are interested in attending, drop me a line.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Imprint Culture Lab Profiles

Alright, so check it. I'm part of this thing that throws an annual marketing conference/workshop called Imprint Culture Lab, if you didn't already know. Our next conference is on September 22, a Tuesday, and if I do say so myself, is pretty sick.

Brassy people talking directly with registrants. Ridonculiciously good AsiaDogs (hot dogs with Asian trimmings) for lunch, five-diamond reception at the penthouse of the Soho Grand afterward. And yours truly.

I'm going to tantalize you over the next few days with spotlights on our featured speakers.

Ridonculicious, folks.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Vacation, Part II: Why I Love Maine

(Sign off Route 1 near Wiscasset)

Actually, I'm going to start with an analogy.

Back in college, my friend Paige made an observation to myself and a couple other Santa Cruzers (all women), about how San Francisco lesbians weren't fun because they lacked irony. Now, this was 1999, before a "post-ironic post-9/11 America," before "gay" became a ubiquitous pejorative for anything remotely embarrassing.

This was circa dyed blonde fringe crew cuts and homemade yogurt. Circa the induction of a lesbian chancellor to the UCSC; circa a lesbian attacked and killed by dobermans bred to do exactly that; circa a San Francisco without a WNBA team (which sadly still persists). It was no wonder SF lezes were ostensibly un-ironic.

Anyway, Paige's point was that these Bay Area lesbians were no fun. All seriousness. No sense of humor. Her gang of lady-lovers, by dint of proximity, was having a positive riot making fun of those oh so serious womyn-izers just north on PCH. By the end of that night's conversation, I was rolling on the floor laughing about shit I did not understand at all.

And that's exactly what Maine is like for me, as a proximate observer. Maine is un-ironic to the point where I am just gonna have to pull some easy punches here and make fun of them like so many poor San Francisco dykes. I hope you will understand these jokes better than I had those "Berkeley is an anagram for 'bad klitoris'" zingers. [Still not sure I get this one, but it's always fun to make fun of Berkeley.]

Let me start with the hair salons of Maine.

Coastal Maine, for some reason, is rich with hair salons. Not barber shops... Hair salons. But if I had a penny for every "A Cut Above" or "Maine-ly Cuts" or any other hackneyed play on tried and true tried expression, I could afford to get a bleached fringe crew cut once a week for the rest of my life.

This "play on words" pathology is a resonant theme throughout Maine downtowns. I guess it's hard to avoid. "Maine" is about as self-confident a state name as you can have, and the easiest to to dress up. Mainely Bagels. Mainely Yarn. Maine Manes. Et cetera, et ceterBAARF.

This brings me to advertising.

Now, if you've driven through New England, you know that 80% of advertising on billboards is for some kind of cancer treating hospital. I'm not trying to make light of cancer, but I swear to god that after 6 hours on Route 95 you will wish you had it.

Driving through Massachussets (I know I'm mis-spelling it. Leave me alone.) is a real test on your fortitude. Pictures of hairless children with gap-toothed smiles... advertising hospitals. Handsome older women, hands proudly planted into their hips, wearing shirts that say things like, "Fuck you, Breast Cancer. Suck on this!"

In Southern California the billboards advertise strip clubs and the Yellow Pages.

Well, in Maine, there is a "no billboard" law. That's right. No billboards. No obnoxious signage. That's why you get miniature blue traffic signs for places with names like "A Cut Above," "Maineiac Psychiatrics" and "God Damariscotta Methodist Church." The biggest "billboard" you'll see is a hand-painted sheet of plywood leaned up against an electric pole advertising heavy-duty tarp or firewood for sale, and the occasional birthday party down a dirt road.

I'm fairly convinced this is why graphic design in Maine categorically sucks. There's no native advertising tradition!

[Just so I'm not making Mainemies though, let me state that Maine has several things going for it that excel beyond the rest of THE WORLD. And in terms of design, that includes landscaping and interior architecture. I will need a whole other blog posting on just praising the garden and home designs.]

Lastly, there is the whole issue of Mainers being verbose.

Those who know me, know that my penchant for plays on words and verbosity are actually two of my greatest virtues/vices. This is where I invoke the Paige-amendment. My loquacity is more clever. Trust me. (I mean, you have to trust me unless you have the guts to drive through the hall of cancer-mirrors to Maine yourself.)

I'd mentioned advertising in New England, but in a billboard-less Maine, instead of pictures of post-leukemic children, you get radio advertising. Horrendously emotionally gut-wrenching advertising of children (always children. Exploitative!) saying how glad they are to see another Christmas or Red Sox game. It's really the only time I've thought radio advertising really works. I have no idea what St. Jerome's wants from me, but if I am ever an 8-year old with leukemia, goddammit I'm going there.

One of my favorite ads though, went something like this:

Not all superheroes wear costumes. Some of them wear T-shirts. Some of them wear jeans and sweaters. They wear sneakers and dresses and sometimes jackets. They will even wear duck shoes if they have to wade through mud. Sometimes they'll wear underwear more than two days in a row, but usually they freeball...

I'm exaggerating but you get the point. The ad finally continues after listing L.L. Bean's entire wardrobe.

The superheroes I'm talking about are the boys and girls who've survived leukemia. Their courage and tenacity beats leukemia with the help of (Insert name of saint) Hospital.

Then there's this gem. It's a free boating weekly. "The Boating Magazine for Coastal New England"... Free! And it's about the best thing I read during my whole trip.

I don't know what I was expecting when I picked this thing up, but each article is written like it was meant to stay in a catalog of congress. But again, Mainers are sometimes verbose to the point of missing the whole point of modern, CONCISE rhetoric:

I was not naive enough to believe that I could just show up at the border in a 32-foot recreational sailboat loaded with water-sample bottles, strange-looking instruments lashed in the cockpit, racks of chemicals on a small lab bench over the quarter-berth and not expect some problems.

Verbatim, folks. I love this. I love that I have no clue what the hell he's talking about but the way he uses "I wasn't naive enough to believe..." followed by a bevy of clear experts-only-information, just about made me laugh all my fried clams to a chowder.