The Rat
Monday, August 29, 2005
      ( 11:35 PM ) The Rat  
"RUSSIA!", which looks nifty, opens at the Guggenheim on September 16.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:35 PM

      ( 6:39 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:39 PM

Sunday, August 28, 2005
      ( 8:31 PM ) The Rat  
Go away Death!
You have come too soon
To sunshine and song I but just awaken,
And the dew on my heart is undried and unshaken;
Come back at noon.
—Alfred Austin (1835-1913), quoted in Very Bad Poetry

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:31 PM

Saturday, August 27, 2005
      ( 12:23 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:23 PM

Friday, August 26, 2005
      ( 2:27 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:27 PM

      ( 2:24 AM ) The Rat  
RATTY had not noticed till today that the Oligarch had commented on her original posting of Nancy Hass's article on egg donors. I'm not about to get sucked into an argument about women and careers in this forum, but I would like to translate my somewhat cryptic remark in that post. (O.O. may also have misunderstood my point because he was not able to read Hass's article, which was not online at the time.) I was alluding to Maggie Gallagher's observation that the desire to eliminate or deny the reality of gender is connected to the desire to deny that we are embodied, and thus mortal, creatures—i.e., that it's connected to our fear of death. Even if we lived in a society where no women worked outside the home, there would still be a special premium placed on female youth/beauty/fertility. Men were taking concubines, marrying women a third their age, etc., long before women worked outside the home—and there's a reason for that. There are certain qualities unique to the tragedy of female aging. (Male aging is of a different character—and, IMO, ultimately more pitiable—because men can't have children the way women can have children. The play could not have been written about a "Queen Lear.") I used the language of women being "punished," not because I believe there's a concerted effort to penalize women for aging (O.O. should know me better than that!), but because it's an accurate metaphor for what in fact happens. If you are an attractive young woman, society praises and rewards you for it. If you are—or become—an unattractive, or old, woman, that praise is withdrawn. This effect is especially intense, of course, in a pornographic society such as our own. (I am not a fan of the new Dove ads, but for more examples of the kind of thing I'm talking about, click here and scroll to "Crude comments.")

A few years ago, a women's health magazine published some tips for women on "safeguarding your fertility." An OB-GYN wrote in to point out that the article had been incredibly irresponsible, because it ignored the single greatest risk factor for female infertility: age. The magazine's editors reprinted the letter, and explained that they had not wanted to mention the age-infertility connection, because that would not be empowering to women. (Likewise, a few years ago, feminists were outraged when a series of public-service ads was released broadcasting the age-infertility connection.) That kind of thing is obviously idiotic—and, yes, if women didn't work, fewer of them would be turning to donor eggs. I'll bet you anything, though, that plenty of those who did, would still be lying to their kids about how they'd been conceived. I don't care how many women are working or not working, those who are infertile—or simply not young or attractive—are going to be blamed for it at some level. Women are always going to depreciate in sexual value as they age, and all of us—women as well as men—will probably always harbor some resentment toward them for doing so: Because most of us resent being reminded (even indirectly or symbolically) of the fact that, someday, we're going to die. It was principally Hass's insight about the shame of being old/infertile that I was spotlighting, not the fact that women can't have babies forever—we already knew that, and it's not the most interesting thing about this article.

That was all I was getting at.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:24 AM

Thursday, August 25, 2005
      ( 9:30 PM ) The Rat  

The University changed its faculty rules so that assistant professors no longer have to request an extension of the standard six-year term before tenure review to accommodate the birth or adoption of a child.

Princeton previously joined many universities in offering extensions to eligible faculty who asked for them, but a survey of Princeton faculty revealed a common anxiety that making such a request would be stigmatizing.

"It was clear that assistant professors, and particularly women, were ambivalent about using this policy," said Joan Girgus, a Princeton psychology professor and special assistant to the dean of the faculty on gender issues. "On the one hand, they thought an extension would be helpful to their careers in terms of getting their research done and preparing for a tenure review," Girgus said, "but on the other hand, they thought asking for an extension would be seen as a sign of weakness and might harm them when being considered for tenure."

Under the new policy, assistant professors will automatically receive a one-year extension for every child born or adopted during their tenure pursuit. There is no limit to the number of extensions, and twins or triplets would add two or three years to the tenure term. Faculty who have received a tenure extension for childbirth or adoption can request an early tenure review if they wish, just as any other assistant professor can request an early review.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:30 PM

      ( 1:34 AM ) The Rat  
THAT EGG-DONOR ARTICLE is now available online, by the way.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:34 AM

Wednesday, August 24, 2005
      ( 6:43 PM ) The Rat  
HAS ABU MUSAB AL-ZARQAWI BEEN READING THOMAS MANN? Nifty WSJ piece just forwarded me by the Ubermensch. WARNING: This contains spoilers, so if you haven't read The Magic Mountain, go do that first.

Shortly before Iraq's January election, an audiocassette apparently from arch-terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was released to the press, declaring "fierce war on the evil principle of democracy." On it, Zarqawi lays out what he sees as the tenets of democracy—and why they are contrary to the tenets of Islam. In a democracy, Zarqawi explains, "the one who is worshipped and obeyed and deified, from the point of view of legislating and prohibiting, is man, the created, and not Allah." This, he adds, "is the very essence of heresy and polytheism and error."

Reading Zarqawi's text, two thoughts occurred to me. First: Here was a philosophically sophisticated argument—detestable, for sure, but one that troubled to grapple seriously with the core democratic idea. And second: This was pure Naphta.

By Naphta, I mean Leo Naphta, one of the great characters in Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:43 PM

      ( 6:11 PM ) The Rat  
IVORY PURE? ER, HARDLY. And thus Ratty's childhood is explained...

In a recent phone conversation, 25-year-old Jonathan Biss expressed no surprise at the way filmmakers have taken to portraying his fellow pianists. "I know of even more pianist-deviants in real life than I do on film," he said, tongue only partly in cheek. "If you play the piano, you spend a ridiculous amount of time alone in a room doing something that encourages those voices in one's head to scream."

Pianists, after all, must extract from their scores numerous characters—lines, harmonies and rhythms among them—at once. And alone. Moreover, the percussive nature of playing the piano—the fact that you can bang the devil out of one and receive acclaim for doing so—makes it plausible that an emotionally contrapuntal keyboardist could easily veer between highbrow and lowbrow, sensitivity and violence, love and aggression more successfully than, say, a neurotic violinist, swaggering trumpeter or quirky bassoonist.

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:11 PM

      ( 6:06 PM ) The Rat  

Muslim chaplains say they preach a moderate brand of Islam that focuses on individual responsibility and redemption, but acknowledge that some prisoners sometimes take their faith to militant extremes. Chaplains also worry that groups outside the prison walls want to recruit inmates to extremist causes.

"Common sense tells us that there are people among us who have anti-American sentiments and who harbor dislike and frustration with America," said Imam Brynell Muhammad, a Muslim chaplain at Wasco State Prison. "I think the state needs to consult and utilize endorsing agencies and have some of us current chaplains help and assist to monitor the hiring of new chaplains. To my knowledge, they don't do this now," he said.

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:06 PM

      ( 6:05 PM ) The Rat  

"There's a cycle to a product," says Rachel Jacobs, the company's vice president of buying. "And we get a lot of products at the end of their cycle."

Visiting any of the 225 99 Cents Only Stores in California, Nevada, Arizona and Texas is a lesson in product cycles. When a trend, a product or a celebrity's time is long past, the terminus of its slide is often a 99 Cents Only shelf. Walking the aisles—as we did recently at the North Hollywood, Miracle Mile, West Hollywood and Hollywood locations—offers an undeniable glimpse of who and what is no longer hot. Jacobs calls it "the last stop."

And at that last stop, handlers, publicists and managers are as useless as screen doors on a submarine. The 99 Cents Only Store is honest. It's absolute. It's astounding in its simple and accurate measure of what, at the moment, is circling the pop-culture drain. Anna Kournikova, the Backstreet Boys, the Barbi Twins—no matter how high-flying they once were, today they're available for less than four quarters, plus tax.

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:05 PM

      ( 6:03 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:03 PM

      ( 5:47 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:47 PM

      ( 3:08 PM ) The Rat  
The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am pleased.
In vast quantities it has been remaindered.
Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized
And sits in piles in a police warehouse,
My enemy's much-praised effort sits in piles
In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.
Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aisles
One passes down reflecting on life's vanities,
Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviews
Lavished to no avail upon one's enemy's book—
For behold, here is that book
Among these ranks and banks of duds,
These ponderous and seemingly irreducible cairns
Of complete stiffs.

The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I rejoice.
It has gone with bowed head like a defeated legion
Beneath the yoke.
What avail him now his awards and prizes,
The praise expended upon his meticulous technique,
His individual new voice?
Knocked into the middle of next week
His brainchild now consorts with the bad buys,
The sinkers, clinkers, dogs and dregs,
The Edsels of the world of movable type,
The bummers that no amount of hype could shift,
The unbudgeable turkeys.

Yea, his slim volume with its understated wrapper
Bathes in the glare of the brightly jacketed Hitler's War Machine,
His unmistakably individual new voice
Shares the same scrapyard with a forlorn skyscraper
Of The Kung-Fu Cookbook,
His honesty, proclaimed by himself and believed in by others,
His renowned abhorrence of all posturing and pretence,
Is there with Pertwee's Promenades and Pierrots
One Hundred Years of Seaside Entertainment,
And (oh, this above all) his sensibility,
His sensibility and its hair-like filaments,
His delicate, quivering sensibility is now as one
With Barbara Windsor's Book of Boobs,
A volume graced by the descriptive rubric
'My boobs will give everyone hours of fun.’

Soon now a book of mine could be remaindered also,
Though not to the monumental extent
In which the chastisement of remaindering has been meted out
To the book of my enemy,
Since in the case of my own book it will be due
To a miscalculated print run, a marketing error—
Nothing to do with merit.
But just supposing that such an event should hold
Some slight element of sadness, it will be offset
By the memory of this sweet moment.
Chill the champagne and polish the crystal goblets!
The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am glad.

—Clive James

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:08 PM

Sunday, August 21, 2005
      ( 7:24 PM ) The Rat  
Bond said angrily, "Shut up, Marc-Ange. If you think I'll accept a million pounds from you or from anyone else you're mistaken. I don't want my life to be ruined. Too much money is the worst curse you can lay on anyone's head. I have enough. Tracy has enough. It will be fun saving up to buy something we want but can't quite afford. That is the only kind of money to have—not quite enough."
On Her Majesty's Secret Service

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:24 PM

Friday, August 19, 2005
      ( 9:27 PM ) The Rat  
SOME DIFFERENT pasta shapes.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:27 PM

      ( 4:49 PM ) The Rat  
A LOVE STORY BETWEEN MAN AND MACHINE. On the mp3 player as Proustian device.

In the upcoming book "iPod, Therefore I Am," part memoir, part valentine, the English journalist Dylan Jones writes: "The big thing about the iPod, I thought, was the way in which it forces you to listen to your life in a different way. When I started just monotonously, relentlessly downloading and uploading my record collection onto this machine, it was only after awhile that I began to realize why it was taking me so long. It wasn't supposed to take you that long. But I started going off on these weird tangents, going backward, to my youth, when I was 15 or 20 or 30," Jones, a 45-year-old father of two girls, says in a phone interview from his London home. His iPod has more than 6,000 songs. "That's when I began thinking there was something to this whole iPod thing. Every time I download a song to it, and every time I listened to that song, it forced me to go back somewhere where I haven't been to for awhile"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:49 PM

Thursday, August 18, 2005
      ( 3:56 PM ) The Rat  
KIDSBEER, via ET. "'Even kids cannot stand life unless they have a drink,' reads the product's advertising slogan."

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:56 PM

      ( 3:53 PM ) The Rat  
IN THIS BOOK, Ratty particularly recommends chapter 9 (on the industrial espionage conducted by minions of Louis XIV, to obtain the secrets of mirrormaking from the Venetians); and chapter 11 (the history of the umbrella).

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:53 PM

      ( 3:48 PM ) The Rat  
I'll write to Hemingway. Poor bloke, to have to marry three times to find out that marriage is a failure, and the only way to get any peace out of it is (if you are fool enough to marry at all) keep the first one and stay as far away from her as much as you can, with the hope of some day outliving her. At least you will be safe then from any other one marrying you—which is bound to happen if you ever divorce her. Apparently man can be cured of drugs, drink, gambling, biting his nails and picking his nose, but not of marrying.
—Faulkner in a letter to Malcolm Cowley, 20 September 1945, quoted in The Faber Book of Writers on Writers

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:48 PM

Monday, August 15, 2005
      ( 1:44 AM ) The Rat  

Visitors to the California State Fair may notice something peculiar about the map of Los Angeles County on display: It's no longer anatomically correct.

Embarrassed by suggestions that the 3-D map resembles male genitalia, county officials this week ordered a small section near Malibu lopped off. [...]

The change shrinks the district represented by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Joel Bellman, a spokesman for the supervisor, said he has never heard anyone complain about the area's shape. "I'll quote a saying that my father used to say," Bellman said, paraphrasing Mark Twain: "Let us now draw the curtain of charity over this scene."

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:44 AM

      ( 1:39 AM ) The Rat  

Edith Shain didn't think much about the kiss after it happened 60 years ago Monday. Oh, it was a long one all right—a doozy—but a moment that came and went.

And she didn't mind that she'd never met the guy before. The context was too glorious—Times Square, V-J Day, with thousands of people celebrating the Japanese surrender and the end of World War II.

What better place to kiss a stranger, especially a young sailor dressed in Navy blues who made his way through the throng, kissing any woman he could find, young or old.

In the crowd that day, Aug. 15, 1945, was a photographer for Life magazine. Alfred Eisenstaedt, one of the pioneers of the candid photo, was looking for the perfect shot to reflect the euphoria of the moment. "I saw a sailor grabbing every woman in sight," he recalled. "So I ran ahead of him. He was in dark blue, so I waited until he grabbed someone in white."

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:39 AM

      ( 1:31 AM ) The Rat  

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      ( 1:29 AM ) The Rat  
FORGOT TO NOTE that the 2005 L.A. Tofu Festival (!) happened this weekend.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:29 AM

Sunday, August 14, 2005
      ( 5:26 PM ) The Rat  
WEIGHT WATCHERS RECIPE CARDS, CIRCA 1974. Some of Ratty's favorites include this, this, this, and this.

Some of these are also featured in McClure's new book, which is a fun read. Her website is here.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:26 PM

      ( 5:11 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:11 PM

      ( 5:08 PM ) The Rat  
TODAY IS Navajo Code Talkers Day. Some background on the code talkers here.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:08 PM

Friday, August 12, 2005
      ( 4:20 PM ) The Rat  
ABSOLUT DECADENCE. And what, you ask, would be the perfect finishing touch for a bar with furniture, glasses, etc., all made entirely of ice? Why, an ice replica of the Last Supper, of course.

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:20 PM

Monday, August 08, 2005
      ( 5:38 PM ) The Rat  
NANCY HASS has a really good, eye-opening, and admirably non-sensationalist article in the September Elle ("Whose Life Is It, Anyway?" p. 430), about couples who conceive via egg donation, and who don't tell their children the truth about their genetic roots. It's not online as of this writing, but if (like the Rat) you're interested in the myriad ways our fear of death leads us to punish women for getting older, get it at the newsstand.

Virtually every specialist I spoke with at some point recited what Cheryl Tiegs told Larry King on July 14, 2000, when he asked if she'd used an egg donor to conceive the newborn twins she'd had with a surrogate. 'No,' the then-52-year-old former model said without missing a beat. 'I've been taking care of myself for so long, I know not just my reproductive organs but my heart are much younger than I am.' Perhaps you have to be infertile to appreciate the brilliance of her put-down; in a single sweeping gesture Tiegs suggested that if only we'd jogged an extra mile or shooed away that Twinkie, we too would be popping out kids in our fifth decade. 'Really, it's absurd,' says one Beverly Hills MD who has helped several middle-aged stars have kids with donor eggs. (The average age of recipients is 43.) 'Celebrities may be different from you and me, they may be better-looking, but one thing they're not is more fertile.' [...]

Perhaps the most poignant reason couples find it hard to be candid is that they get caught up in the love affair with their baby and want the child to be 'perfect,' Mendell says. Before the birth they may have planned to tell, but when the child actually arrives, 'like all mothers, they're in thrall. They want to be totally close. They want it to be 'normal.' So they want to rewrite that part of the story. They become convinced it's better for the child not to know the truth.

Mendell leaves it to me to bring up the most politically incorrect reason that women keep egg donation secret, one that doctors say is more common in cities like New York and L.A. than in the heartland: They can't bear to confront their age. Not admitting to using a donor is a way to keep up the illusion of fecundity, the ultimate proof that you're still in the game. Statistics show that a whopping 90 percent of New York women who use an egg donor are infertile because their own eggs are simply too old (male fertility, though somewhat affected by age, is not automatically linked in the public's mind to getting older). When I watch those fortyish actresses, breast implants poking through their Proenza Schouler camisoles, gushing to Regis about their newborns, what I hear is, 'Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up. I'm still young, I'm still nubile.'

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:38 PM

      ( 5:37 PM ) The Rat  
LITTLE TOWN ON THE PRAIRIE DRAWS TOURISTS. Kinda neat, especially if—like Ratty—you grew up on, and in, the Little House books. Link via IM.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:37 PM

      ( 5:34 PM ) The Rat  
The advantages of natural folly in a beautiful girl have been already set forth by the capital pen of a sister author;—and to her treatment of the subject I will only add in justice to men, that though to the larger and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility in females is a great enhancement of their personal charms, there is a portion of them too reasonable and too well informed themselves to desire anything more in woman than ignorance.
Northanger Abbey

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:34 PM

Sunday, August 07, 2005
      ( 1:05 AM ) The Rat  

Tourists' jaws dropped and community leaders fumed when the 18-foot sign screaming "Vagina's R' Us" was unveiled in front of a Century Boulevard strip club. [...]

Club owner Howard White—who for decades has titillated airport-bound passersby on Century Boulevard with a colorful "Nude Nude Nudes" sign—removed the banner Friday morning. By noon, he had replaced it with a more modest marquee-style sign reading "Vaginas Are Us."

Laurie Hughes, executive director of Gateway to L.A., a business-improvement district composed of 40 major business and property owners near the entrance to LAX, said her group contacted both White's landlord and Toys 'R' Us Inc. to protest the sign. Hughes said officials from the toy retailer raised the issue of trademark infringement with White.

Friday afternoon, Hughes notified the toy company of the new sign and its wording.

"Once he spells out the 'are' instead of using an 'R,' he's probably OK," Hughes said of White. "The property owner is a member of our business district association. He can't do anything because he has a lease that isn't up until August of 2009."

As for the sign's content, "about all we can do is get him on misuse of apostrophes," she said.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:05 AM

Friday, August 05, 2005
      ( 2:03 PM ) The Rat  
MEANT TO BLOG this Prickly City cartoon earlier.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:03 PM

      ( 1:53 PM ) The Rat  

The deaths of 19 Marine reservists from an Ohio unit in the past week highlight the risks to part-time military units, which earlier this year hit a peak of about 40% of U.S. troop strength in Iraq.

Since the Civil War, when entire towns shared in the grief of combat losses, the active-duty military has shifted away from using locally based units. The heavy use of Guard and Reserve units in Iraq has undercut a tradition that kept most of these troops out of combat since World War II and Korea...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:53 PM

      ( 1:31 PM ) The Rat  
"Now, Wilhelm, I'm trying to do you some good. I want to tell you, don't marry suffering. Some people do. They get married to it, and sleep and eat together, just as husband and wife. If they go with joy they think it's adultery."
Seize the Day

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:31 PM

Thursday, August 04, 2005
      ( 2:44 PM ) The Rat  
"It's amazing," said Wilhelm, but he said it in a rather distant way. He was always hearing such stories from Dr. Tamkin. If you were to believe Tamkin, most of the world was like this. Everybody in the hotel had a mental disorder, a secret history, a concealed disease. The wife of Rubin at the newsstand was supposed to be kept by Carl, the yelling, loud-mouthed gin-rummy player. The wife of Frank in the barbershop had disappeared with a GI while he was waiting for her to disembark at the French Lines pier. Everyone was like the faces on a playing card, upside down either way.
Seize the Day

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:44 PM

Wednesday, August 03, 2005
      ( 11:04 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:04 PM

      ( 9:57 PM ) The Rat  
"Well, how's Annie?" he said timidly from below, looking at Anna running down to him.

He was sitting in a chair, and the footman was pulling off one of his warm boots.

"All right, she's better."

"And you?" he said, giving himself a shake.

She took his hand in both of hers and drew it to her waist, not taking her eyes off him.

"Well, I'm very glad," he said, coldly looking at her, her hair, the dress he knew she had put on for him.

He liked it all, but he had already liked it so many times!...

Anna Karenina

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:57 PM

Tuesday, August 02, 2005
      ( 3:29 PM ) The Rat  
He felt that he could not maintain himself against the general pressure of contempt and callousness that he saw clearly in the face of this assistant, and of Kornei, and of everyone without exception that he had met in those two days. He felt that he could not divert people's hatred from himself, because the reason for that hatred was not that he was bad (then he could have tried to be better), but that he was shamefully and repulsively unhappy. For that, for the very fact that his heart was wounded, they would be merciless towards him; people would destroy him, as dogs kill a wounded dog howling with pain.
Anna Karenina

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:29 PM

Monday, August 01, 2005
      ( 12:47 PM ) The Rat  
THE BUDGET TRAVELLER'S GUIDE TO SLEEPING IN AIRPORTS. Because you knew there had to be one.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:47 PM

      ( 12:29 PM ) The Rat  
WORDCOUNT.ORG. Nifty site, but be forewarned that neither "chthonic," "callipygian," nor "autochthonous" (the first three words Ratty tried) are in the archive.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:29 PM

      ( 12:25 PM ) The Rat  
She felt herself so criminal and guilty that the only thing left for her was to humble herself and beg forgiveness; but as she had no one else in her life now except him, it was also to him that she addressed her plea for forgiveness...
Anna Karenina

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:25 PM

A page I'm starting to get the overlords at to stop $#@! bugging me

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