Monday, January 30

The Chairman

I've been reading Mao: The Unknown Story on the train since over the weekend. It's around 800 pages (more including the footnotes & appendix, which I do not plan to read), so expect me to be reading this book for quite awhile.

Funny things happen when you're reading about the Chairman on the trains of New York City. On the F train to the p-slope today, a Chinese man was visibly reading over my shoulder and looking at the cover. I shoved it under his face, and said, "it's the new biography of Mao! It's really great." When he pointed at the cover and said, "Mao Tse-Tong," I realized he might not really speak English. Also, I realized, he might think I was a communist.

Just to clarify: I would like to know more about Mao; I do not support him. And, contrary to what some truly lovely gentlemen said at the bar tonight, I am not a communist.

some stuff on Mao: the Unknown Story at wikipidia.

Saturday, January 28

Another Post for my Hypochondriac Friends

Man is Alive Because of Dummy Series:

"Amarillo accountant Bob Berger told the Panhandle Press Association Monday that he wouldn't be alive today were it not for having read every 'Dummies' book ever published. "
"Berger said he first became interested in job possibilities in the health industry when he read Dummies books and ruled out over 750 illnesses from which he once felt he had suffered."

Monday, January 23

New York to Boston, and Back Again

Last weekend I went to Boston to celebrate Jane's 25th birthday (Jane would be the strawberry blonde on the right). It was a fabulous time! There were lawyers on Friday; Dentists on Saturday.

Happy 25th Birthday JaneRebec!

Wednesday, January 11

Starving My Cold: Not Going Well

Apparently starving my cold is not the name of the game today. Here are MANY links, all food-related.

The New Yorker uses William Leith's new book, The Hungry Years, to launch a discussion of obesity, the Atkins diets, changing views of fat & skinny, and the way we eat now (in America, mostly). Here's a money 'graph for you:
Having told us that our attitudes toward obesity are irrational, Oliver thinks we should just give them up and move on. But that'’s like fat William Leith telling the girlfriend who doesn't want to have sex with him anymore that she'’s being irrational. Maybe it should work, but it never does. The soft” cultural, social, and moral facts of the matter about obesity turn out to be harder to shift than beliefs about the relevant scientific facts. Fat was once considered a sign of substance and now it isn't. It was once thought sexy and now it'’s the opposite.

And WaPo has an article on eating lunch at your desk. Taking an hour-long lunch without an errand seems downright immoral to me at this point.

The NYT has an article on the drunkest citizens of the world: the Brits. When I was living in Ireland, Dublin, where I stayed, was a popular destination for 'hen parties' (bachelorette parties in the states). I have never seen puking like I did from those bachelorettes, not even during freshman year frat parties.

And, just to complete the theme, here's a list of the top cooking books of 2005.

In Which Madeleine Has a Conversation That Sounds an Awful Lot Like Her Interior Monologue

Today I went to my dentist, Dr. T., to get my teeth cleaned--I have a nasty winter cold, and it's raining out. So, actually, I figured that the dentist would actually be nice. Then this happened:

Dr. T.: So did you have good holidays?

Mad.: For sure, and a great new year.

Dr. T.: And when are you getting married?

Mad.: Married? Dr. T., I'm *only* 24!!!

Dr. T.: Well, you know Madeleine, in some Persian communities you'd be considered an old-maid. A real over-the-hill spinster.


Dr. T.: Does your mother nag you like this too?

Mad.: No, she's pretty chill. And, you know, I have older siblings: they're in charge of getting nagged.

The conversation paused, but it was not over yet. Later, while we had the mandatory lecture about how teeth get worse as you get older, and how I needed to brush & floss better, the good dentist came out with this one:

Dr. T.: See! This is why you need to get married before you're all broken down.

Monday, January 9

Happy 2006!

Postal workers: they go postal, and then they steal Netflix DVDs. omg, they steal my Veronica Mars and there'll be hell to pay!

William Leith writes about New Year's resolutions, or, the reasons he doesn't really believe in them:
I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions. If you do bad stuff and you want to stop doing it, you really have to work out why you were doing it in the first place, which takes time. It might take years.
Link via Maud Newton.

At this point, I think we've all heard about James Frey and his not-quite-true memoir.

*The photo is obviously of me & the Joanna--and, obviously, from early in the soberer side of the evening. *

Tuesday, January 3

The NYT has intellectual things to say about cuteness, but all I've got is "awwwwww"

The New York Times writes about things that are cute:
New studies suggest that cute images stimulate the same pleasure centers of the brain aroused by sex, a good meal or psychoactive drugs like cocaine, which could explain why everybody in the panda house wore a big grin.
But really, read the article--there's cute pictures over there of pandas, and penguins, oh my!

Bike Adventure - I

One day, on a fine autumnal morning, I was biking to work. I was on Hudson Street, the sweet spot of the ride to work that comes after the chaos of Houston (trucks! diesel! fumes! wacky pedestrians) and before the major traffic hub that is 14th St (cars! bikes! wacky pedestrians! slow-moving buses!).

Life was good: both metaphorical and actual birds were a'singing. I was in my own lil small-town movie, cycling along perhaps the widest & most bucolic bike lane of New York City.

I felt a faint tugging on my left foot, but ignored it. And why not? Life was lovely.

Oh, but that tugging was not nothing, but a definite something. My shoelace, perpetually untied like a five-year-olds', was caught in my pedal.

The more I biked, the more my lace wrapped around my pedal. Finally, I realized that all the brilliant sunshine and tweeting birds were but dramatic irony, and finally, I realized that I was trapped in my bicycle.

Calmly, coolly, and you know, collectedly, I bicycled over to the side of the road. By the time I got there, I'd firmly laced myself around my pedal. There we go, I thought, and now, to put my foot down and untangle myself.

Turns out, though, that when Madeleines brake, they put their left foot down first. So, calmly, coolly, and you know, collectedly, I tipped over, still attached to my bicycle. And I was delighted, really, to give everyone a morning laugh to go with their latte.