The Rat
Saturday, July 31, 2010
      ( 8:32 PM ) The Rat  
WHAT THE AVERAGE AMERICAN CONSUMES IN A YEAR. When we're not stuffing it in the gas tank, I take it...

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      ( 8:27 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 10:30 AM ) The Rat  
WHO GETS THE DOG IN DIVORCE? My favorite part of this is the expression on the attorney's face.

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Friday, July 30, 2010
      ( 10:59 AM ) The Rat  
20 SECRETS YOUR WAITER WON'T TELL YOU. Some of these are common knowledge, but not all. (Nos. 18 and 19 are probably my favorites; I also like nos. 14, 29, and the "Surefire Stereotypes" on this list.)

Also via Consumerist, More people getting DVDs from library than from Netflix or Redbox.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:59 AM

      ( 7:59 AM ) The Rat  
There are always opposing forces, and so, unless one is inordinately fond of subordination, one is always at war.
The Dying Animal

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:59 AM

Thursday, July 29, 2010
      ( 8:01 PM ) The Rat  
I WROTE THE STORY OF O, an old Guardian pc. from 2004.

Literature was a shared passion. Dominique Aury once boasted that she had read all of Proust every year for five consecutive years. Novelist and cultural critic Regine Desforges, who became Aury's friend (and who interviewed 'Pauline Reage' in 1976, publishing the conversation as 'O m'a Dit, Confessions of O') remembers: 'Dominique Aury was fascinated by intelligence. The intelligence of Paulhan was obvious. And for her it became a kind of obsession.' Theirs was a relationship of minds as well as bodies, so it was fitting that, when she started to worry about losing him, she should try to win him back with sex in the head. [...]

The news broke on 1 August, when the French were on holiday; it was not until people returned to Paris on the 15th that it became a scandal. Then there were articles in the tabloids, photographs and requests for interviews. This was a book that had never been out of print, had been bought by millions, and during the 1960s was the most widely read contemporary French novel outside France.

Dominique Aury's life had, however, already changed in the only way she really cared about, in 1968 when Jean Paulhan died. 'I lived with him for 11 or 14 years, I can't remember,' she told Pola Rapaport when they met to film the last footage of her, shortly before her death. 'The last part of my being alive, of my life being alive. After that, I didn't. I stopped. Everything.'

Waiting in his hospital room, night after night, fresh from work on the other side of Paris, she wrote
A Girl in Love, the third-person account of the writing of Story of O, as he lay dying. It was published soon after, with the original last, rejected, chapter, as Return to the Chateau. Why she consented to publish this abandoned part after so long is a mystery, not least because she prefaced it with a disclaimer: 'The pages that follow are a sequel to Story of O. They deliberately suggest the degradation of that work, and cannot under any circumstances be integrated into it.'

Perhaps it was that she wanted
A Girl in Love published and felt she needed to bulk it out. Perhaps she needed money, as Pauvert may have done. 'I think she published the sequel to please Pauvert, to thank him for all he had done,' says d'Argila.

She may have been past caring. After Paulhan died, according to Jacqueline, Dominique put together a book of recollections of him. 'After that, she kind of gave up her interest in the world. She pulled back from the world and lost her short-term memory'...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:01 PM

      ( 1:26 PM ) The Rat  

"Rape" is a green, leafy vegetable, similar to lettuce. "Child molestation," however, is not.

Unsurprisingly, this one's had a mixed response on their Facebook page. Fwiw, the first time I ever saw "rape" in this context was in a version of "Rapunzel" that I read while still fairly small—rape was what the pregnant wife was craving "to the point of death" from the neighboring sorceress's garden, and that led to the ensuing hijinks. I definitely knew the other meaning first, so personally, I tend not to think children will be traumatized by this sort of linguistic doubling in the way adults tend to assume they will. (Don't know if this is at least partly an American thing?—I've definitely seen more e.g. rapeseed oil labeled as such, on European grocery shelves than on American ones.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:26 PM

      ( 11:23 AM ) The Rat  

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      ( 11:18 AM ) The Rat  
"ATLAS SHRUGGED," THE MOVIE: THE STRANGEST STORY IS BEHIND THE CAMERA. The slideshow is kind of fun, even (or perhaps especially?) to an apostate like me. Also: Anne Hathaway, seriously?—that actually strikes me as too hilarious not to pay to see.

Over the years, some of the biggest names in Hollywood have expressed interest in adapting Atlas Shrugged: at different times, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Anne Hathaway, Julia Roberts, Barbara Stanwyck, Faye Dunaway, Raquel Welch, Farrah Fawcett and Sharon Stone all vied for the choice role of Dagny Taggart, the book's protagonist. Meanwhile, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford all expressed interest in playing John Galt, the book's male lead. Some of Hollywood's most famous scriptwriters, including Russell Wallace, James V. Hart and Sterling Silliphant took their shot at the script, and Albert S. Ruddy, the legendary producer of The Godfather tried—twice!—to put together a version.

The forthcoming version is staffed with far lesser lights. Paul Johansson, who is directing the film and playing John Galt, is best known for his work on One Tree Hill, and most of his previous directing experience has been on the set of the teen-oriented soap opera. Taylor Schilling (Dagny Taggart) and Grant Bowler (Henry Rearden) also boast TV-heavy resumes, as do most of the supporting actors. As for the script, Brian Patrick O'Toole has been tasked with transforming Rand's 1,074-page brick into a two-hour movie. His previous scripts, Basement Jack, Evilution, and Cemetery Gates were all shlocky, low-budget horror films. As if that wasn't bad enough, Johansson has only five weeks for principal photography...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:18 AM

      ( 11:16 AM ) The Rat  
DUTCH BREWER CLAIMS STRONGEST BEER. Mainly posting this for the names.

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      ( 11:06 AM ) The Rat  
RATTY just woke to browser windows open to a page entitled "The Sweet Afterlife of Happy Yaks,"* two e-mails from a friend she'd asked at 4 AM for a translation of something into German**, and also a Facebook invitation to an event called "Workshop: Crafting Your Personal Narrative."*** Should this tell me anything about the day I'm about to have?

*I swear, the search (though not the finding) was dissertation-related.

**So was this.

***Wouldn't be nearly as funny if it hadn't been over Facebook of course.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:06 AM

Wednesday, July 28, 2010
      ( 8:06 PM ) The Rat  
"AFTER ACHIEVING HIS LIFE'S WORK OF BALANCING THE WICKER BALL ON THE RADIO, TERRENCE CAREFULLY REMOVED HIS HAT AND WENT FOR HIS FINAL SWIM." Just one of many of Ratty's favorites at Catalog Living, a site JF sent her today. (IKM: "Well, it's perfect for you bcs. it sort of combines sarcasm, advertising, and aesthetics.")

Runner-up favorites: "Gary, I just can't believe that after months of research that's the chair you chose" and "Elaine wasn't about to let some hot flashes get in the way of balancing the checkbook with the abacus." But also don't miss Light up the sky, or Time to come clean. And yeah, this site's totally going on the blogroll.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010
      ( 2:22 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 1:51 PM ) The Rat  
"SHE WAS SO DEEPLY IMBEDDED IN MY CONSCIOUSNESS THAT FOR THE FIRST YEAR OF SCHOOL I SEEM TO HAVE BELIEVED THAT EACH OF MY TEACHERS WAS MY MOTHER IN DISGUISE." Ask a stupid question, right? ...Okay, in fairness, this study is obviously flawed. But the joke was just too easy!

Babies whose mothers are attentive and caring tend to grow into happy, well-adjusted children. But the psychological benefits of having a doting mother may extend well beyond childhood, a new study suggests.

According to the study, which followed nearly 500 infants into their 30s, babies who receive above-average levels of affection and attention from their mothers are less likely than other babies to grow up to be emotionally distressed, anxious, or hostile adults...

For a much better-designed study on related matters, go e.g. here. The "See also" section under Prof. Suomi's Wiki entry is also kind of awesome... as is the guy himself (Ratty heard him give a fascinating presentation on some of this research at Dartmouth ca. '03).

When the monkeys were young adults (3 to 5 years of age), they were observed for differences in voluntary alcohol consumption. Each monkey had access to alcohol at a drinking station unit, a clear, enclosed perch that enabled the animal to drink without interference from other monkeys. Water was freely available during the periods that the alcohol solution was dispensed. Monkeys that responded to separation as infants with high cortisol levels drank significantly more alcohol as adults than did low-cortisol responders. On average, the adult peer-reared monkeys drank more alcohol than did the mother-reared monkeys...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:51 PM

      ( 12:14 PM ) The Rat  

U.S. tourist Jean Barnard, who embarked on her dream holiday to Australia and New Zealand in January last year, alleges the trip became a nightmare when she boarded a Darwin-bound Qantas plane in Alice Springs, walked to her assigned seat and came face-to-face with a three-year-old boy across the aisle.

The boy allegedly leaned back over his armrest toward Ms Barnard and let out a scream so severe that blood erupted from her ears...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:14 PM

      ( 9:07 AM ) The Rat  
CHOCO'LITE, MARATHON, AND OTHER SWEETS THAT ARE NO MORE. Don't miss Pillsbury's "Chinese Cherry" drink mix (last item)!

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:07 AM

      ( 9:06 AM ) The Rat  

Almost a quarter of China's surface water remains so polluted that it is unfit even for industrial use, while less than half of total supplies are drinkable, data from the environment watchdog showed on Monday...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:06 AM

Monday, July 26, 2010
      ( 10:27 PM ) The Rat  
DIRECTORY OF FOOD GLOSSARIES. Not sure whether I'm more impressed that Truffles alone get four pages, or that Butter gets seven.

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      ( 4:19 PM ) The Rat  
CAN WE CUT CRIME BY CHANGING CAFETERIA MENUS? This and the last link are both via Treehugger.

But we don't need a prison study to see that fact. Ask any parent or teacher who has to handle children after they have indulged in soda, candy and cake at a party. After you 'scrape them off the ceiling,' you are subjected to tantrums, tears and hyperactive behavior.

For me, this information is not new at all. Many years ago, I was asked to teach healthy cooking at Graterford Prison outside Philadelphia. They had an organic gardening program and were seeing incredible changes in the men with gardening and eating the vegetables they grew. Violence was substantially reduced in the men in the program. I loved teaching them. They were peaceful and engaged in the program. A change in state government brought on the demise of the garden and the prison descended once again into violent chaos...

For an earlier essay on this subject, see Theodore Dalrymple's excellent "The Starving Criminal," which ran in City Journal in 2002.

I asked the young man whether his mother had ever cooked for him.

"Not since my stepfather arrived. She would cook for him, like, but not for us children."

I asked him what they—he and his brothers and sisters—had eaten and how they had eaten it.

"We'd just eat whatever there was," he said. "We'd look for something whenever we was hungry."

"And what was there?"

"Bread, cereals, chocolate—that kind of thing."

"So you never sat round a table and ate a meal together?"


In fact, he told me that he had never once eaten at a table with others in the last 15 years. Eating was for him a solitary vice, something done almost furtively, with no pleasure attached to it and certainly not as a social event. The street was his principal dining room, as well as his trash can: and as far as food was concerned, he was more a hunter-gatherer than a man living in a highly evolved society...

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:19 PM

      ( 4:12 PM ) The Rat  
COW WASH. Footage of the cow wash in action here.

A spokesman said the cows enjoy the sensation of being brushed and it can boost milk production by 3.5 per cent.

He said: 'The swinging cow brush is a self-grooming device that keeps cows happier, healthier and more productive.

'The brush starts to rotate on contact at an animal-friendly speed. It swings freely in all directions, smoothly up, over and alongside the cow...'

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:12 PM

      ( 4:11 PM ) The Rat  
82-YEAR-OLD CLIMBS KILIMANJARO. Also see Japanese women extend life expectancy to new high.

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      ( 12:24 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 11:28 AM ) The Rat  
OUR FAVORITE CUPCAKES, a baked-good slideshow via IKM. I need a pinup calendar of these or something.

For more hard-core food porn (safe for work... barely), check out some of Smitten Kitchen's prints.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:28 AM

      ( 9:57 AM ) The Rat  
FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS presents "Business Time." Via JS, who seldom forwards links, so you know this will be good.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:57 AM

      ( 9:36 AM ) The Rat  

We assure you, there is no way to denote sarcasm in text.

"Tea spoon" and "table spoon" are nouns. "Teaspoon" and "tablespoon" measure volume. "Coffee spoon" measures life.

Use "exhaustion" as a polite euphemism for when celebrities are really, really tired.

Do not use the term "press conference." Call the event a "news conference," a "sham" or "slopping the hogs."

The difference between geek and nerd is three letters.

"Furiously masturbating" is redundant, as all masturbation is furious.

List sexual positions in alphabetical order. Remember, "alphabetical order" is itself a sexual position.

Use the word "cluster" like this: "Ricardo Montalban proffered a porcelain tray of delicious caramel nut clusters."

The proper term for fuck buddy is "gentleman caller of distinction."

Do not write that someone "sported a mad boner" unless you have sourced documentation of the madness of said boner.

When referring to someone with a Ph.D. as "doctor" immediately follow it with "but, you know, not a REAL doctor."

In a double entendre, write a figure of speech so it can be taken in two ways—from the front and from the rear.

Commas are probably the most misunderstood of all punctuation. They frequently dress in black, listen to sad music, and cut themselves.

Only use a full stop if a cop is watching.

Should you find yourself interviewing an infinite number of monkeys, relax. Eventually they'll write the article for you.

To "impeach" is to charge an elected official of a crime. To throw peaches at someone until they die is simply to "peach."

Actually, "bloviate" has no meaning at all. The word was just a prank on Aristotle that took on a life of its own.

Lap top: where Candi charges you $50 to do a dance. Laptop: where you can see the same thing for free.

It is not necessary to refer to the Mountain Time Zone. There will never be a story from there.

Having the right word is much more satisfying than just sleeping around with any old word that comes along.

IT'S—contraction of "it is." ITS—possessive form of "it." ITS'—the most horrible thing you could ever possibly do.

Passive voice is used when the receiver of an action is more important than the performer. Ex: Your mom was banged.

Ironically, nothing says "full-on asshole" like a semi-colon. Pause in conversations so people know where you're using one.

The plural of July is "Steves." I know that doesn't make sense, but that's our crazy English language for you.

Instead of either "multi-talented" or "multitalented" use "bisexual."

In place of "hour," we would go with "sixty minutes closer to the sweet release of death."

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:36 AM

      ( 9:25 AM ) The Rat  
I asked him if he could drive me home.

"Whenever you want."

"Let's do it, then."

"Great. We can hang out at my house after brunch."

"You aren't gonna read to me, are you?"

He laughed at that, but a little uncomfortably, so I told him I was just kidding.

"I thought you enjoyed that," he said.

"I did. I do. I said I was kidding."

Well, mostly kidding. The last time we hung out at his house he read to me at length from his autobiography. It was fairly interesting stuff, especially if you knew Jeff, but it went on about an hour too long. His sixth-grade seduction in the pea-sorting shed—or wherever it was—could have been trimmed by half.

Maybe the Moon

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:25 AM

Sunday, July 25, 2010
      ( 6:02 PM ) The Rat  

To explore the association between sitting time and mortality, researchers led by Alpa Patel, Ph.D. analyzed survey responses from 123,216 individuals (53,440 men and 69,776 women) who had no history of cancer, heart attack, stroke, or emphysema/other lung disease enrolled in the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention II study in 1992. They examined the amount of time spent sitting and physical activity in relation to mortality between 1993 and 2006. They found that more leisure time spent sitting was associated with higher risk of mortality, particularly in women. Women who reported more than six hours per day of sitting were 37 percent more likely to die during the time period studied than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day. Men who sat more than 6 hours a day were 18 percent more likely to die than those who sat fewer than 3 hours per day. The association remained virtually unchanged after adjusting for physical activity level. Associations were stronger for cardiovascular disease mortality than for cancer mortality.

When combined with a lack of physical activity, the association was even stronger. Women and men who both sat more and were less physically were 94% and 48% more likely, respectively, to die compared with those who reported sitting the least and being most active.

"Several factors could explain the positive association between time spent sitting and higher all-cause death rates," said Dr. Patel. "Prolonged time spent sitting, independent of physical activity, has been shown to have important metabolic consequences, and may influence things like triglycerides, high density lipoprotein, cholesterol, fasting plasma glucose, resting blood pressure, and leptin, which are biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular and other chronic diseases"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:02 PM

      ( 6:00 PM ) The Rat  

This self-imposed exercise in frugality was prompted by a Web challenge called Six Items or Less ( The premise was to go an entire month wearing only six items already found in your closet (not counting shoes, underwear or accessories). Nearly 100 people around the country, and in faraway places like Dubai and Bangalore, India, were also taking part in the regimen, with motives including a way to trim back on spending, an outright rejection of fashion, and a concern that the mass production and global transportation of increasingly cheap clothing was damaging the environment.

Meanwhile, an even stricter program, the Great American Apparel Diet, which began on Sept. 1, has attracted pledges by more than 150 women and two men to abstain from buying for an entire year. (Again, undies don't count.) And next month, Gallery Books will publish a self-help guide, called "The Shopping Diet," by the red-carpet stylist Phillip Bloch.

Though their numbers may be small, and their diets extreme, these self-deniers of fashion are representative, in perhaps a notable way, of a broader reckoning of consumers' spending habits. As the economy begins to improve, shoppers of every income appear to be wrestling with the same questions: Is it safe to go back to our old, pre-recession ways? Or should we? The authors of these diets—including some fashion marketing and advertising executives, interestingly enough—seem to think not...

Also see this interview with Cheapskate Next Door author Jeff Yeager.

I surveyed more than 300 self-described cheapskates for this new book—and interviewed many of them personally—and while there were many surprising things I learned along the way, overall it was that for the vast majority of them, like 90%+, their decision to live the frugal lifestyle wasn't about money at all. It was almost always grounded in a bigger belief. Sometimes it was a religious belief, sometimes environmentalism, sometimes something else. These aren't greedy, Scrooge-like, pensive penny-pinchers I write about. These are people who recognize that there's a lot more to life than money and stuff, and they've found creative ways to make money a less important part of their lives. [...] More than 9 out of 10 of the cheapskates in my survey said that they think about/stress out about money less than most non-cheapskates they know. They also get divorced at only about half the national rate, in part because they rarely have "money problems." I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention that of the cheapskates I polled, they donate nearly twice as much to charity as the average American. Again, that's because for most of them, their decision to live a frugal lifestyle isn't about the money at all...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:00 PM

      ( 11:22 AM ) The Rat  
TWO THINGS ABOUT THIS POSTSECRET CARD: 1) no, I didn't send it in, and 2) that claim is really only consistently valid with the da Pontes anyway.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:22 AM

      ( 9:24 AM ) The Rat  
"YES, 'DEFENESTRATE' IS AN EXCELLENT WORD, BUT ONLY USE IT IN BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS AND OBITUARIES IF IT'S ACCURATE." Fake AP Stylebook's tweets are uneven in quality (and probably funnier overall if, like Ratty, you've ever worked in journalism and/or publishing), but there are some good ones in there.

Do not use the phrase "Jungian archetype" outside of restaurant reviews.

When writing for a conservative publication, substitute "Arabic numerals" with "Islamofascist numerals."

Only use "extra virgin" to describe olive oil that doesn't even think about fucking.

There is no need to report on European news. It's already past their bedtime there, and nobody else cares.

hell—But capitalize Hades. Lowercase philadelphia.

It is unethical to get involved in a sexual relationship with a source, so after this next time it is seriously over.

Seriously, fuck ampersands.

loath, loathe, lathe—She is loath to stay with him. He loathes her. She used the lathe to cut up his corpse.

It is wrong to just copy and paste a press release to create a staff report. Add some extra "according tos" in there.

The word "axiomatic" is George Will's thing and he will straight up cut you if you try to use it.

Only print wedding announcements for traditional couples: preteen girls in arranged marriages to elderly men.

hopefully—Not a synonym for "we hope." Wrong: Hopefully, newspapers will make money again oh god everything is getting so very dark.

Avoid dangling participles unless referring to James Bond, in which case dangle them over shark tanks or fire pits.

In radio parlance, "wilco" means "will comply" and "roger" means a jolly good buggering.

Abbreviate the month in a full date, spell it out in one cut short by food poisoning.

Sexual dysfunction stories require sensitivity, so keep your tone soft and flaccid.


When writing stories about religious leaders or politicians, remember that they are innocent until proven guilty.

Children could be reading your mainstream publication, so keep your screeds about their smell and disease on your personal blog.

We are not going to sit by the phone all day waiting for the Chicago Manual of Style to call. We are better than that.


Just got a text that CMS is screwing the MLA. Need a drink again.

Articles on fashion should probably be outsourced to freelancers. Why? Because look around your office, that's why.

ice age—capitalize for the film, but not for the geological term or the last bitter years of a doomed marriage.

"Forbear" is something given to a bear. "Forebear" is the portion of the bear before the main bear. "Fourbear" is a party.

Avoid references to "gay," "homosexual" or "alternative lifestyle." Instead, just use the phrase "the damned."

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:24 AM

      ( 9:23 AM ) The Rat  

A trio of researchers surveyed the literature in the field of behavioral science, the umbrella of psychological studies that also inform other fields like anthropology, philosophy, economics and political science, basically the psychology-led study of what makes us tick. The problem is, the results tend to be skewed due to the very limited population that academics in the behavioral sciences draw from, namely students attending the schools where they teach. The authors point out that, based on the population samples in the studies they surveyed, an undergraduate college student in a Western university in North America, Europe, Israel or Australia is 4,000 times more likely to be a participant in a behavioral sciences study than any other person on the planet.

The authors created an acronym to describe this population: Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic (WEIRD). The authors didn't opt for that arrangement only to be jokey (although it works), weird actually does describe the population samples upon which most of the world's investigations into human behaviors are based. The average college student tends to be less than representative of other members of the human race in areas like ideas of what constitutes fairness, levels of self esteem and exactly where humanity sits in the natural order of things. The point of the article, essentially, is that the behavioral sciences have been drawing inferences about universal human behavior from a very narrow pool of largely white, privileged, unemployed, reckless 18- to 21-year-olds for decades now...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:23 AM

      ( 9:22 AM ) The Rat  
All is prepared for February 25th. The stomach pumps are polished and set out in rows, stale old enthusiasms are being burnished...
—Fitzgerald in a letter inviting Edmund Wilson to a party, ca. spring 1928

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:22 AM

Saturday, July 24, 2010
      ( 10:01 PM ) The Rat  

Human parents often pay more attention to a few favored children among all of their offspring. It has already been known that birds do it too, and it may result in some baby birds dying in the nests. According to the recent discoveries published in Journal of Avian Biology, one of our famous garden birds, magpies, also favor some of their nestlings, but in a fairly strange and unique manner..

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:01 PM

      ( 9:53 PM ) The Rat  

With a "No Men" sign at the door, the shop is designed to look like a typical Chinese home, separated into several zones including a TV and mobile phone-filled living room and a bedroom. A kitchen is planned, too. All the electronics are real, purchased second-hand and ready to be smashed with the provided baseball bats (and motorbike helmets for safety)...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:53 PM

      ( 9:51 PM ) The Rat  
IN A WORD: OUCH. From H.L. Mencken: A Portrait From Memory (imo this anecdote sounds way too pat to be accurate, so caveat emptor):

"I have an idea for a novel going through my head," Fitzgerald told Mencken. "Have a lot of it written up. It's about a woman who wants to destroy a man because she loves him too much and is afraid she'll lose him, but not to another woman—but because she'll stop loving him so much. Well, she decides to destroy him by marrying him. She marries him, and gets to love him even more than she did before. Then she gets jealous of him, because of his achievements in some line that she thinks she's also good in. Then, I guess, she commits suicide—first she does it step by step, the way all people, all women commit suicide, by drinking, by sleeping around, by being impolite to friends, and that way. I haven't got the rest of it clear in my head, but that's the heart of it. What do you think, Henry?"

"Well, it's your wife, Zelda, all over again," Mencken said.

Fitzgerald sat down, swallowed some of his drink, and then got up and paced back and forth. Without looking at Mencken, he said: "That's the dumbest piece of literary criticism I have ever heard or read."

Mencken said nothing. Fitzgerald continued: "You know, Henry, sometimes I think you're no literary critic at all. I don't know what the hell you are, but you're no critic, that's sure. I spill my insides to you and you answer with... Zelda. You don't know what a writer goes through, what he fumbles for, you don't know the grace he searches for. And, goddamn it, you have no compassion. Of all the times to mention Zelda to me! Of all the goddamn times to mention her!" He sank into his chair and burst into tears.

Mencken stood up, muttered, "I'll be seeing you," and he and I walked out.

"Scott will never amount to a hoot in hell till he gets rid of his wife," Mencken said as we returned to the office.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:51 PM

      ( 7:56 PM ) The Rat  
TWO AWESOME ADDENDA to that last post, from Dr. Weevil.

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:56 PM

      ( 12:44 PM ) The Rat  
SCHOOL NAME WIN. And an excellent wine name, from the same source.

This must have been staged, but I liked it anyway.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:44 PM

Friday, July 23, 2010
      ( 9:00 PM ) The Rat  

i yelled out "tuesday" during orgasim. he fucked me into 2 days from now.

It's when I'm in my pajamas and in need of a gin delivery that I miss NYC most of all.

hey dont come home for a while, moms drunk and is telling the story of 'how she met dad at that orgy' again

I just want a box on franzia all to myself. Just me, my wine, my tears, & my self loathing.

I drove to Chevron at noon and the Hatian lady goes "Oh, nothing to drink yet white boy?"

when i came out to my mom, it was over brunch. i was eating a banana. not exactly my smartest breakfast choice.

—Listen, this was just a tiny lapse of judgement.
—I'm pretty sure that's not a synonym for pregnancy.

You should have been there. We got drunk and threw a sword through his windshield.

Don't make me out to be the bad guy. You practically MADE me cum on your food.

I bruise way too easily for the kind of rough sex I want...

—she screamed"i told you already! counter clockwise spiral and the clockwise spiral!!" right in the middle of sex
—wow, i never thought dating a choreographer would be so harsh

Woke up to a bouquet of flowers in my toilet bowl. Drunk hubby loves me.

—its taking every last moral i have not to steal this bike
—you still have morals?
—Well actually itd just be too hard to ride the bike with this large rake i just stole

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:00 PM

      ( 8:39 PM ) The Rat  
TWO AWESOME LOLCATS, here and here.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:39 PM

      ( 7:52 AM ) The Rat  

I've been spending my summer vacation reading through the Savage Love archives on your new Savage Love iPhone app. I was wondering if you ever heard from any of those people again, telling you how things resolved? I would like to think that people were able to work through their mismatched-interest issues with partners, or that the poor guy with the botched circumcision whose penis no longer had a head was able to get some sexual satisfaction.
—Inquiring Mind

I'm taking a couple of weeks off later in August, and if anyone who's taken my advice and lived—lived to tell the tale, lived happily ever after, lived to regret it—would like to write in, please do. Your letters would provide welcome updates for curious readers like IM here and a nice couple of easy-to-compile, easy-to-file vacation columns for me. So your updates don't get lost in the swamp, please send 'em to

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:52 AM

Thursday, July 22, 2010
      ( 3:02 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:02 PM

      ( 9:56 AM ) The Rat  
CUPCAKES FOR MANLY MEN, via IKM of course. But surely a truly manly man would go for the larger portion size with Isaac Mizrahi's 8" Tartan Plaid Cheesecake? (Also available in leopard and, as I've noted before in this space, Madras print.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:56 AM

      ( 9:46 AM ) The Rat  

Also see this, from Failbook (and don't miss the reader comment by HappyNat).

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:46 AM

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
      ( 10:47 PM ) The Rat  

The papers, retrieved from bank vaults where they have sat untouched and unread for decades, could shed new light on one of literature's darkest figures.

In the past week, the pages have been pulled from safety deposit boxes in Tel Aviv and Zurich, Switzerland, on the order of an Israeli court over the objections of two elderly women who claim to have inherited them from their mother.

"Kafka could easily have written a story like this, where you try to do something and it all goes wrong and everything remains unresolved," said Sara Loeb, a Tel Aviv-based author of two books about the writer...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:47 PM

      ( 10:02 PM ) The Rat  
HMM. Which book of the Bible are you? is telling me my closest match is Galatians (83 percent), with 1 Corinthians and the Song of Solomon in a tie for second place (80 percent).

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:02 PM

      ( 1:36 PM ) The Rat  
IT'S OKAY TO BE SINGLE IN YOUR THIRTIES... UNLESS YOU'RE A GIRL. I don't agree with absolutely everything in this, but it makes some good points.

S and I are both unmarried, uncoupled and in our 30s. Now, this makes sense for me. I'm slightly unhinged and haven't been on a third date since there were only two "Shrek" movies. There are only a few things I know with utter certainty: Grape Nuts contain neither grapes nor nuts, unicorns are real, and I'm only good at strange, psycho-sexual affairs that end in mutually assured isolation. But my friend S? She's gorgeous, smart, successful and funny.

I found myself wondering, Wait a damn minute, why is she single?

Then it hit me. Why is the sheer fact that she's a beautiful charming woman who's alone worthy of questioning?

[W]hile in my case, the problem may lie with me, I firmly believe that S just hasn't met anybody who does it for her. She has a great job and she's well adjusted and doesn't "need" someone to complete her. Me? I'm a huge mess, but my friends and family regard my single status as proof of my intelligence, patience and independence. I'm a man, and I don't have elephantiasis or a soul patch, so clearly I'm single by choice.

But S? She can count on being perceived as being too picky, too difficult, too proud. She can count on people asking if she's considered and if not, why not? As a man I'm entitled to a certain idea in my head of the kind of woman I want to be with, and—poof!—I'm a romantic. As a woman in her 30s, S has a certain kind of idea in her head of the kind of man she wants, and—voila!—she's unreasonable.

In truth: S is the romantic. It's really the thing that turns people like her off from online dating. There is truly nothing wrong with it; it's a medium to meet people and as good a way to do so as any out there, probably better than most. But it's undeniably unromantic and increasingly specialized, involving algorithms and long questionnaires and has all the charm of being set up by that robot Jinx from "Space Camp." Where's the mystery? Where's the unimprovable feeling of something akin to fate having a hand? "If I hadn't stopped to tie my shoe, if I hadn't decided I needed to buy a cantaloupe, if I hadn't contracted acute paralysis of the liver in Ecuador and ended up hospitalized next to so-and-so"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:36 PM

      ( 11:44 AM ) The Rat  
TORONTO BURLESQUE FESTIVAL TO SHOWCASE 'NAKED GIRLS READING' (link is SFW). They really could have found a better list of books, though. (Go here for the show's homepage.)

The idea for the show came about when Chicago photographer/writer Franky Vivid commented that he liked the image of his naked wife, burlesque superstar Michelle L'amour, reading a book...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:44 AM

      ( 11:39 AM ) The Rat  

Whatever Langer's original inspiration, what she found in her research was a link between Alzheimer's and music that she was not expecting.

First there was the couple who, although unable to communicate any longer through speech, began to play instruments in time with each other during a music workshop in a care home.

"It was so touching because suddenly there was this dialogue through music and they were suddenly connected. They hadn't spoken at all."

Then there was the woman who as "a very angry case" would cling to a toy bunny and her handbag until she became irritated, began screaming expletives and threw her bag at the group.

"After a few music sessions she came down, she stopped swearing, she left her bag in the corner and she was conducting... Gradually, as we were digging deeper and deeper, I was finding that it was a very natural thing to do, to write an opera about Alzheimer's."

"People with Alzheimer's disease have a retention of memories from long ago and music is often a part of that," explains Simon Lovestone, professor of old-age studies at the IoP, who collaborated with Langer and the Opera Group on the project. "Music speaks to us in a very ingrained way from our childhood and that is definitely the last bit of your recognition of the world and your memory to go"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:39 AM

      ( 11:36 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:36 AM

      ( 11:30 AM ) The Rat  
TOP 10 MOST UNUSUAL PET NAMES FOR 2010. Mostly unremarkable, though I kinda like "Purr Diem."

When interviewed, many of the owners admitted to VPI that they had ruled out names they knew they'd be too embarrassed to shout in public. "When you think about the names they finally decided on—like 'Lord Chubby Pruneface' and 'Optimus Pants'—it really makes you wonder what didn't make the cut," said Curtis Steinhoff, director of corporate communications for VPI...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:30 AM

      ( 10:42 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:42 AM

      ( 10:01 AM ) The Rat  
UNITED REMOVES PASSENGER FROM FLIGHT AFTER HE ASKS WHETHER A MEAL WILL BE SERVED. I hate to think what would've happened if he'd said, "I'm a terrorist."

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:01 AM

      ( 8:13 AM ) The Rat  
FOR MANY PREGNANT CHINESE, A U.S. PASSPORT FOR BABY REMAINS A POWERFUL LURE, via JB. Nobody here but us chickens... (Incidentally, while I of course know exactly what he means, I still had to giggle at: "'The mainland [China] moms believe the U.S. has better educational resources [...] The competition is too fierce on the mainland,' Zhou said." See, over here your kids only have to compete with white classmates—over there, everybody's Chinese!)

About 40 percent of their clients come from Shanghai, 30 percent from Beijing and the rest from Guangzhou and elsewhere, including Taiwan. Some, the couple said, were giving birth to their second child to skirt China's one-child policy. Most say they do not intend to live in the United States themselves.

And all are affluent, Zhou and Chao said. Unlike the poor illegal immigrants from Central America who try to cross the border to have their babies in the United States, Zhou said, these Chinese parents fly in on first-class seats.

"They also do some shopping," he said, "so they are contributing to the economy"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:13 AM

      ( 8:11 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:11 AM

      ( 8:09 AM ) The Rat  

1960s-2000s: Two countries engaged in musical wars—U.S. retaliates for British Invasion of 1960s with Osmonds, disco. British punk movement spreads to U.S. in 1970s, U.S. counterattacks with waves of boy bands. Two countries agree to truce after England threatens doomsday Rick Astley weapon...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:09 AM

      ( 8:07 AM ) The Rat  
I-DOSING: HOW TEENAGERS ARE GETTING "DIGITALLY HIGH" FROM MUSIC THEY DOWNLOAD FROM THE INTERNET. No word on whether it also works if the songs are played backwards.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:07 AM

      ( 8:03 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:03 AM

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
      ( 11:53 PM ) The Rat  
STOP MOLESTING MY PLANT! via Passive-Aggressive Notes (don't miss the comments).

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:53 PM

      ( 9:58 PM ) The Rat  

Restaurants are fixated on returning to the simple days when we were children and we did not have Things To Do. But the restaurants are adding alcohol, because while our childhoods were grand, we are no longer children and can now legally drink as much as we want...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:58 PM

      ( 9:45 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:45 PM

      ( 2:56 PM ) The Rat  

Thanks to worms, scientists now understand hangovers.

It turns out that a brain-signaling molecule known as a neuropeptide causes our bodies to experience withdrawal symptoms as the brain attempts to adapt to a new, not-as-fun level of intoxication.

Neuroscientists at the University of Southampton in England used worms because their simple brains act quite similarly to human brains when intoxicated.

This raises a few good questions.

For instance, why didn't anyone tell me that a scientist's day job is to sit around snickering while getting worms trashed? Why the hell did I spend all that time taking literature classes and writing essays about the Byronic hero when I could have taken chemistry and fed a bunch of mescaline to some salamanders?...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:56 PM

      ( 2:46 PM ) The Rat  
FRESH WHOLE RABBIT. Click through and have a look at the customer images...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:46 PM

      ( 2:21 PM ) The Rat  
Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.
—Benjamin Disraeli

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:21 PM

      ( 9:55 AM ) The Rat  

On the site, the profile of Christy, a 35-year-old single businesswoman in Orlando, Florida, popped up. "Must love dogs, like to travel and be kind to in-laws (fabulous ones, of course). I want her to find a man who will love her as much as her father has loved me for almost 40 years. Would be willing to relocate for the right man," writes the parent.

Another mother submitted an entry for her son Brian, a 32-year-old accountant and security guard, who enjoys spending time with friends and grilling out. "He is a gentleman, opening doors for his dates. He is a good kid!" the mother added.

Meddling parents aren't always successful. Sometimes a first date is the last, says Terry Beck, a 58-year-old mother in California. She tried setting up her son Jordan Beck, a 27-year-old former pro-football player, with girls several times without any luck. Then she found his future wife, Hillary, through friends she met at a conference...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:55 AM

      ( 3:26 AM ) The Rat  

The entire field of epigenetics is fascinating, and we're bound to hear more about it in the coming decades. For a primer on the subject, you could do worse than to check out the episode SYSK released on June 10, "Can your grandfather's diet shorten your life?"

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:26 AM

      ( 2:05 AM ) The Rat  
CLOUD 9, via This Is Why You're Fat. They really kind of had me until "crab cakes."

Also see the Snackadium and the Meat Split.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:05 AM

      ( 1:40 AM ) The Rat  
WHY SOME MARRIAGES THRIVE ON CONFLICT. Most of this just makes sense intuitively, though parts (like the one below) do make you wince a bit...

The results, published in 2004, showed that having positive expectations about the relationship helped only if the couples met these expectations, McNulty said. Couples with more problems did better if they had expected to encounter obstacles.

"I like to think about this finding like I would think about a student," McNulty said. "Some students are capable of getting A's, some students have to settle for B's and C's. If a student just doesn't have the skills to get A's, they're probably going to be disappointed if they always expect to get A's. And so that student might do better to expect B's and C's"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:40 AM

      ( 1:37 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:37 AM

Monday, July 19, 2010
      ( 6:01 PM ) The Rat  
AFTER THAT, TO REFUSE THE FUTURE, via my favorite source for linguistic and other silliness, JB.

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:01 PM

      ( 12:29 PM ) The Rat  

August, 1942. Leningrad, besieged and filled with starving inhabitants, barely holds out against the force of the Nazi invasion. People are queuing up for soup made of boots and book bindings. Hitler has chosen the 9th of the month to celebrate the fall of the city, and a ball has been planned in advance.

But in a symbolic act of defiance, the Russians decide to hold an orchestral concert. To do so, they have to fly in extra musicians, because only 15 members of the Leningrad Radio Orchestra have survived the war. The piece of music they choose for the finale is Dimitri Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony.

At the Cheltenham Music Festival's The Sound of Melancholia last week, classical music composer Stephen Johnson repeated this story, describing Shostakovich's compositions as "some of the bleakest, darkest, saddest, most vile and sardonic music" he had ever heard.

He went on to recount the story of Viktor Kuslov, who had played in the 1942 performance, who was moved to tears by the recollection of the music's powerful effect on that night. Indeed, the final page of the ink-written score that was used at the world premiere is smudged and run with the tears of Yevgeny Mravinsky, the conductor.

It's counterintuitive, but Johnson's story suggests that the desolation in Shostakovich's music, resonating with the desolation in their hearts, served to bolster the spirits of the Russian populace at the time. The premise postulated by Johnson and neuroscientist Raymond Tallis, who co-hosted the event, is the oft-repeated idea that music, by conferring a narrative structure to emotion, brings emotion closer to thought. "There is something about seeing your own mood reflected that allows you to let go of that feeling," says Johnson.

But it is not so simple. As Tallis, who was standing in for an absent Robert Winston, pointed out at the start of the evening's conversation, there is a complex interplay between the emotion the composer attempts to write into the music, that conveyed by the music, the listener's interpretation, and the listener's mood. This was resoundingly reflected in the results of an experiment carried out on the evening's audience...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:29 PM

      ( 12:11 PM ) The Rat  
POLL: D.C. ELITES A WORLD APART. News flash, right?

Overall, the 1,011 people surveyed nationally have a very pessimistic take on the direction of the country.

Only 27 percent believe the country is headed in the right direction, compared with 61 percent who think the nation is on the wrong track. Likewise, when asked whether the national economy is heading down the right or wrong track, just 24 percent chose the right track, compared with 65 percent for the wrong track.

Yet among the 227 Washington elites polled, more think the country is on the right track, 49 percent, than the wrong track, 45 percent. On the economy, 44 percent of elites think the country is on the right track, compared with 46 percent who believe it is not.

To qualify as a Washington elite for the poll, respondents must live within the D.C. metro area, earn more than $75,000 per year, have at least a college degree and be involved in the political process or work on key political issues or policy decisions.

Washington elites seem conscious of the fact that they have a different point of view than the rest of the country, as 74 percent said they have felt the current economic downturn less than most Americans...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:11 PM

      ( 11:24 AM ) The Rat  
"AMERICANS THROW AWAY ENOUGH ALUMINUM EVERY THREE MONTHS TO REBUILD OUR ENTIRE COMMERCIAL AIR FLEET." Slideshow of the Waste Management Materials Recovery Facility in Pico Rivera, Calif.

Related: "[I]n 2020 energy efficiency could have almost twice the impact of renewable energy, nuclear power and clean coal combined."

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:24 AM

      ( 11:17 AM ) The Rat  

"At a paper, your only real stress point is in the evening when you're actually sitting there on deadline, trying to file," said Jim VandeHei, Politico's executive editor, in an interview from the publication's offices just across the Potomac River from downtown Washington.

"Now at any point in the day starting at 5 in the morning, there can be that same level of intensity and pressure to get something out." (Not all reporters are expected to be on their game by dawn, Mr. VandeHei added, noting that many work a traditional 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. newspaper day.)

At Gawker Media's offices in Manhattan, a flat-screen television mounted on the wall displays the 10 most-viewed articles across all Gawker's Web sites. The author's last name, along with the number of page views that hour and over all are prominently shown in real time on the screen, which Gawker has named the "big board."

"Sometimes one sees writers just standing before it, like early hominids in front of a monolith," said Nick Denton, Gawker Media's founder...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:17 AM

      ( 11:16 AM ) The Rat  
I probably shouldn't have slept with him. I feel like that may have given him the wrong idea.
Texts from Last Night

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:16 AM

Sunday, July 18, 2010
      ( 11:37 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:37 PM

      ( 7:39 PM ) The Rat  
THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN. "A public research into the implications of genetically downsizing the human species to better fit the earth."

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:39 PM

      ( 7:32 PM ) The Rat  
AMAZING HOTEL POOLS. Mostly infinity pools (which are nice, but ultimately rather alike), but nos. 3 and 5 are pretty epic.

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:32 PM

      ( 6:12 PM ) The Rat  
WELCOME! to the reader who got here searching for story about woman who took rat home thinking It was apuppy.

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:12 PM

      ( 5:05 PM ) The Rat  
"ZOMBIES" CRASH ON I-84 NEAR LLOYD EXIT, via this week's Wait Wait.

A car full of people dressed as zombies crashed on Interstate 84 near downtown Portland on Friday, causing initial confusion by people who witnessed the crash.

Portland Police said the car was swerving in the eastbound lanes of the freeway just east of the Lloyd District just after 9:30 p.m. when it rolled over and crashed onto its top.

Emergency crews took five victims from the crash to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

Police said that in their investigation they learned that the people inside the car were dressed as zombie costumes and they were headed to a party at the time of the crash...

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:05 PM

      ( 12:45 PM ) The Rat  
TURTLE IS NOT ANGRY, via I Can Has Cheezburger.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:45 PM

      ( 12:43 PM ) The Rat  

In recent weeks he has brought home about 70 items leading his owners to inform the police.

Mr Weismantel, 72, said Oscar first started bringing home gardening gloves but quickly moved on to ladies knickers, socks and children's underwear.

As the haul built up his owners became concerned that neighbours would think there was a thief operating in the area so Mr Weismantel contacted police to tell them about his pet's anti-social behaviour...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:43 PM

      ( 2:35 AM ) The Rat  
IT'S NOT JUST RATTY! Hunter S. Thompson on Chicago, a post that rightly made ET think of me...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:35 AM

      ( 2:30 AM ) The Rat  

Ms. Chin said Facebook was considering using software that would scan for repeated postings of phrases like "Rest in peace" or "I miss you" on a person's page and then dispatch a human to investigate that account.

"We are testing ways to implement software to address this," she said. "But we can’t get it wrong. We have to do it correctly."

The scanning approach could invite pranks—as the notification form already has. A friend of Simon Thulbourn, a software engineer living in Germany, found an obituary that mentioned someone with a similar name and submitted it to Facebook last October as evidence that Mr. Thulbourn was dead. He was soon locked out of his own page.

"When I first 'died,' I went looking around Facebook's help pages, but alas, they don't seem to have a 'I'm not really dead, could I have my account back please?' section, so I opted for filling in every form on their Web site," Mr. Thulbourn said by e-mail.

When that didn't work, Mr. Thulbourn created a Web page and posted about it on Twitter until news of the mix-up began to spread on technology blogs and the company took notice. He received an apology from Facebook and got his account back...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:30 AM

Saturday, July 17, 2010
      ( 6:57 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:57 PM

      ( 6:38 PM ) The Rat  
I WRITE LIKE. IKM fed a random para. from one of my e-mails to her and got Charles Dickens. But feeding a few random paras. from e-mails to JB yielded David Foster Wallace, Dan Brown, and James Joyce (!). I am large, I contain multitudes...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:38 PM

      ( 6:25 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:25 PM

Friday, July 16, 2010
      ( 10:01 AM ) The Rat  

The fact that these customers will now be able to travel to Taiwan solo will only help. "No one would join a group tour that lets everyone else know they are going for plastic surgery or other medical reasons," Yen says. "With individual travel, you can just tell your neighbor you are going to Taiwan for vacation."

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:01 AM

      ( 10:00 AM ) The Rat  
THE RECESSION AFFECTS US ALL, a terrific smackdown via Failbook.

I also wish I'd been clever enough to think of things like this when I was a kid.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:00 AM

      ( 12:32 AM ) The Rat  
SIR CHARLES MACKERRAS, R.I.P. Sir Charles conducted the Figaro I attended at Covent Garden, two years ago today... three of the most joyous hours I've ever experienced ever, and a night that—I can say without fear of exaggeration—genuinely changed my life. I did recognize his name when I saw it on the program, of course, but had no idea the production I was listening to was being conducted by a then-82-year-old!—a marvelously witty interpretation, and so riotously full of life, but taking the opera seriously and respecting its darknesses.

As always with Telegraph obituaries, there are some wonderful bits in this (e.g., "Although based in London for more than 60 years, Mackerras remained an Australian at heart, never losing his 'Aussie twang' or his direct, sometimes brusque, no-nonsense manner of speech. Superstitious by nature, he had a great belief in hypnotism, using it to cure his smoking. He believed, he said, that a conductor secured his best results by hypnotising the orchestra"... though my single favorite line has got to be "He also studied flute, but changed instruments after reading in a newspaper of a shortage of oboists"), so do at least skim the whole thing.

He was one of the great polymath conductors of the 20th century, with interests that ranged from the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan to the high opera of Wagner and Strauss, and was blessed with a rare ability to combine performance and musicology. His rigour and empathy with both music and musicians, as well as his ferocious intellectual curiosity, earned acclaim and respect from across the musical world. Any performance directed by Mackerras—particularly one featuring Janácek (1854-1928)—bore the imprimatur of unsurpassed authority.

[Sir Charles] was, according to the commentator Norman Lebrecht, outside the cliques and upper echelons of British music and, as a result, was disappointed to be passed over twice for the top job at Covent Garden—in 1971 in favour of Colin Davis and, in 1987, for Bernard Haitink.

Nevertheless, Sadler's Wells, English National Opera and Welsh National Opera came calling, as did the Met in New York and San Francisco Opera. For six decades rarely a year went by without an appearance at the Edinburgh Festival, of which he was appointed honorary president in 2008. Indeed, so busy was Mackerras that the title of a BBC television documentary in 1966 about his life,
Allegro Vivace, could not have been more apt. Detractors, however, dubbed him "Chuck 'em Up Charlie" for his freelancer's willingness to conduct anything, anywhere.

Mackerras, a self-effacing conductor in a world of egotistical maestros, cared little for image and marketing. Asked about the secret of the conductor's art, he replied that it was his role to "inspire the musicians to play in his way, with one style and one accord."

As Rupert Christiansen wrote in
The Daily Telegraph at the time of his 80th birthday: "A Mackerras performance invariably has energy, pace, bounce, clarity, shape. With his unique gift for getting music moving, he puts singers as well as orchestras on their toes—there's no slacking under his baton, no empty sentimentality or self-indulgence"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:32 AM

Thursday, July 15, 2010
      ( 8:05 PM ) The Rat  

[B]e sure to read the policy thoroughly to make sure it meets your needs. Naylor says she's seen some odd-duck kinds of coverage. "One policy covers you if the photographer is kidnapped," she says...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:05 PM

      ( 5:30 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:30 PM

      ( 5:23 PM ) The Rat  
LIST OF BRITISH WORDS FOR EATING AND DRINKING. This would have been more useful before I spent my childhood immersed in books set in 1930s London... still, some fun entries.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:23 PM

      ( 3:21 PM ) The Rat  

Expectations fall apart here. Characters are small, bumbling, and alienated...

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:21 PM

Wednesday, July 14, 2010
      ( 10:03 PM ) The Rat  
RAMIT SETHI on the psychology of passive barriers. I've blogged this before (it's my favorite thing Ramit's yet written, which is saying a lot), but reposting because it pretty much explains why I knew that, at least for me, just relying on willpower wasn't going to help with the Pacman thing...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:03 PM

      ( 9:26 PM ) The Rat  
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?! So I just installed K9 Web Protection, not because I have any innocent children that need protecting, but because it's the only $#@! way I'm ever going to stop playing Google Pacman. Anyway... if anybody reading this is similarly afflicted, I do recommend K9—very easy to install and configure, and it's free. Oh, and while the default setting blocks whole categories of websites (including some hilarious ones, e.g., "Alternative Sexuality/Lifestyles," "Intimate Apparel/Swimsuit," "Suspicious"... and my favorite, "Illegal/Questionable"), you can also set the category filter to "Monitor: Allows all categories—only logs traffic," and use the "Web Site Exceptions" tab to block (or allow) individual sites instead. I find K9 also beats several of the other blocking methods because it allows you to block sites, rather than whole domains (I wanted to block just, for instance—not I can thus go on looking at swimsuit ads, news stories from Japan, etc., to my heart's content—I just can't play Google Pacman anymore, thank $#@! God.

(I also find this program preferable to blocking via System Preferences, as the Parental Controls thingey requires that you create a new user account. That in itself isn't an issue, and only takes a few seconds—but all the materials, settings, etc., that I need are under my Administrator account, which is the one place you're not allowed to set Parental Controls.)

For those looking to lock themselves out of the Internet entirely for preset intervals, check out Freedom, which is now available for PCs as well as Macs. I use this too, but the Google Pacman thing really called for a more hard-core intervention.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:26 PM

      ( 5:29 PM ) The Rat  
"SHE'S TRYING TO FOOL THE GUILLOTINE WITH THAT HAT." The Wait Wait Fashion Police have a crack at the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:29 PM

      ( 5:26 PM ) The Rat  
BACON DESSERTS, an entire category over at Bacon Today.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:26 PM

      ( 4:55 PM ) The Rat  

[McCourt's] obituary, printed in Tuesday's Review-Journal, reads in part, "We believe that Mom would say she was mortified to have taken a large role in the election of Harry Reid to U.S. Congress. Let the record show Charlotte was displeased with his work. Please, in lieu of flowers, vote for another more worthy candidate"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:55 PM

      ( 4:41 PM ) The Rat  
GREAT PASTA SANDWICHES IN HISTORY. Need I say more? I need not. (Although N.B., Tesco sandwiches—though not any involving pasta—were my main food source during those two months in London.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:41 PM

      ( 3:59 PM ) The Rat  
4-TIME TEXAS LOTTO WINNER RICH WITH MONEY, MYSTERY. In fairness, if I won the lottery even one time, let alone four, I sure as hell would want my privacy too...

Gonzalez said when her elderly father would sit at the store's window booth and scrub through dollar scratch-offs, Ginther would surprise him with a $50 ream of tickets.

"Win, win, win," Ginther would chant, rooting him on.

After all, the only way to win is to keep playing. Ginther is smart enough to know that's how you beat the odds: she earned her doctorate from Stanford University in 1976, then spent a decade on faculty at several colleges in California.

Teaching math.

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:59 PM

      ( 3:15 PM ) The Rat  
PICK UP JUST ABOUT ANY NOVEL AND YOU'LL FIND THE PHRASE 'SOMEWHERE, A DOG BARKED.' I can think of plenty of counterexamples to this, but it's still kind of a fun article.

Having heard the dog's call, it seemed like I couldn't find a book without one. Not The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Not Shadow Country. Not Ulysses. Not Robert Penn Warren's All The King's Men, or Monica Ali's Alentejo Blue, or Stephen King's It or Christine. Not Jodi Picoult's House Rules. If novelists share anything, it's a distant-dog impulse. Picture an author at work: She's exhausted, gazing at her laptop and dreaming about lunch. "[Author typing.] Boyd slammed the car door shut. He stared at his new condominium, with the for-sale sign in the yard. He picked up a pistol and pointed it at his head. [Author thinking, Now what? Gotta buy time.] Somewhere a dog barked. [Author thinking, Hmm, that'll do.] Then Boyd remembered he did qualify for the tax rebate for first-time home buyers, and put down the gun...

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:15 PM

      ( 12:19 PM ) The Rat  

[C]reated using our Tweet-O-Meter, in association with DigitalUrban and coded by Steven Gray, this New City Landscape represents location based Twitter activity...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:19 PM

      ( 12:18 PM ) The Rat  
"THE JIGGLING IS HYPNOTIC." More interesting stuff I've learned recently, via my hero Josh Clark. (I'd already known about no. 3, but the others were news to me.)

In a paper in the journal Nature Methods, the researchers describe a mouse pain scale they devised the hard way, by subjecting mice to painful stimuli and videotaping the mice's reaction to the pain. As the researchers predicted, mice, like humans, have facial expressions that are generally uniform that the researchers used to code and grade the pain the mice endured. So cheek bulge falls into severe pain, while eye squeeze falls into moderate, adorable pain...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:18 PM

      ( 11:25 AM ) The Rat  
Like most of Renee's calamities, it happened on a date.
Maybe the Moon

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:25 AM

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
      ( 10:39 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:39 PM

      ( 6:28 PM ) The Rat  
MAGIC PLEASURE BED ONLY $300, via Consumerist. This wouldn't be nearly as funny if that bedspread weren't quite so dowdy. (Linking the Consumerist page, rather than Craigslist, as the original post has already been deleted.)

Due to a recent hip injury and lower back overextension involving 2 members of the Slovakian curling team, a dogsled, a malfunctioning Shop Vac and a hot glue gun, we are forced to finally remove this devilish tool of carnal exploration from our home...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:28 PM

      ( 6:15 PM ) The Rat  

Also via Treehugger, check out Half Real by Point Supreme Architects.

Greek firm Point Supreme Architects have completed an installation for a gallery in Athens that is a half-size replica of the room in which it sits...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:15 PM

      ( 6:12 PM ) The Rat  

For years, Bollywood's producers and directors have favored the pristine backdrop of Switzerland for their films. The greatest of the Bollywood filmmakers, Yash Chopra, is a self-professed romantic who has made a point of including in virtually all his films scenes shot on location in this country’s high Alpine meadows, around its serene lakes, and in its charming towns and cities to convey an ideal of sunshine, happiness and tranquillity.

In the process, they have created an enormous curiosity about things Swiss in generations of middle-class Indians, who are now earning enough to travel here in search of their dreams.

"The moment you cross the border it is something else," Mr. Purohit said, "where the scenario changes."

"No noise, no pollution, no crowds," said Kamalakar Tarkasband, 72, a retired army officer.

Swiss tourism officials and their Indian counterparts are capitalizing on this obsession. The number of nights spent by Indian tourists, who come mostly in summer (few ski), has doubled in the last decade to 325,000, and the numbers continue to grow...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:12 PM

      ( 5:59 PM ) The Rat  
GET AMAZON PRIME FREE FOR A YEAR by signing up with an .edu address.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:59 PM

      ( 4:08 AM ) The Rat  
BRIGHT FUTURE FAIL. But such a thoroughly American announcements board!

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:08 AM

      ( 4:07 AM ) The Rat  
TIMELINE OF A 45-YEAR MARRIAGE. This is really sweet (from back in March).

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:07 AM

      ( 4:06 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:06 AM

      ( 4:05 AM ) The Rat  
IKM SENDS THIS, noting that it's clearly good news for large-headed people like me...

Researchers administered cognitive tests and brain scans to 270 patients with symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. The patients' head circumference was measured (as a proxy for brain size, since big heads tend to house big brains) and compared the severity of the brain damage with the scores on cognitive tests.

The fascinating finding—if you were to compare to brains with the same level of nerve cell death, the same level of damage, the same amount of missing brain matter—the person with the big brain would win out in the cognitive testing...

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:05 AM

Monday, July 12, 2010
      ( 10:50 AM ) The Rat  

Boland, 61, is a former teacher, hot-air balloon designer and pilot who runs the Post Mills Airport, a 52-acre airfield.

Last month, he decided to turn a pile of broken wooden planks and other detritus on the edge of his property into something more. Boland says the idea was to build a sculpture that could be a community gathering place, with no admission and no commercial element.

Using a dinosaur model as his inspiration, he put out a call for volunteer helpers and went to work.

He cut a huge pine tree into four pieces and, using a back hoe, planted them as the bases of the four feet. Then, over nine days and using dozens of volunteers, the ersatz sculpture began taking shape.

A splintered two-by-four here, the rotted belly of a guitar there, half a ladder from a child's bunk bed here, Boland and his volunteers worked under basic ground rules: No saws, no rulers and no materials other than what was in the scrap pile. Also, anything nailed into place couldn't be removed. And nothing was to be level or plumb...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:50 AM

      ( 10:45 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:45 AM

      ( 10:44 AM ) The Rat  

Camelot historian Chris Gidlow said: "The first accounts of the Round Table show that it was nothing like a dining table but was a venue for upwards of 1,000 people at a time"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:44 AM

      ( 8:52 AM ) The Rat  
AN INDEX OF ALL COMPOSERS WHOSE WORKS ARE FEATURED IN THE 2010 PROMS. Did I mention that I really, really miss London? And the Proms are even way down my list of reasons for missing it... They run from July 16 to September 11 this year—that's 76 Proms at the Albert Hall and 13 chamber concerts at Cadogan Hall. Which pretty well epitomizes for me—just in the classical sphere, though this is true in just about every other—the vast cultural wealth of that place. True, Paris has a lot of museums and New York has... the stuff New York has. But of the major world cities I've seen, none comes anywhere near London in living culture—the performing arts are all just so much more fun there, in part because the British seem to have less of an inferiority complex about "high" culture (there's a wonderful article on this, which I've posted before, here). Yes, of course they have more than their share of social problems; yes, not all its recent changes have been good changes; yes, trying to survive there on my travel fellowship felt, in cost terms, like trying to get all my grocery shopping done at a movie concessions stand. (And yes, the English are nuts generally.) But it's still pretty much a city made for me—not only because I love music and theater and all that (and, say, the odd midnight showing of the entire Bourne trilogy back-to-back—yes, of course I was at that) but because it's a city made for anyone: In London, one in three residents are foreign-born; over 300 languages are spoken.

...Uh, as I was saying: Every Prom can be listened to live online via BBC 3. Here is a full events calendar; you can also look up Proms by artist, a super-cool feature.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:52 AM

Sunday, July 11, 2010
      ( 10:59 PM ) The Rat  
MIGHT OR MIGHT NOT get a chance to post something on this afternoon's performance (I give it a qualified thumbs up, largely on account of Laquita Mitchell, who as Donna Elvira wildly outclassed the rest of the company) (she could be uneven and, at least today, had a few problems with breath control—but she's definitely one to watch). For now, though, just noting fwiw that the one aria today that actually made me cry was "Vedrai, carino" (text and translation here). I first heard Zerlina sung at the Met by the astonishing Isabel Leonard, whom I don't expect to see surpassed in that role for some time; there don't appear to be clips online unfortunately, but here is Hei-Kyung Hong in the role.

"Vedrai, carino" isn't my favorite aria in this opera, btw (though it would definitely be in my top ten across all three da Pontes—if I had to make a shortlist to take with me to a desert island, or something); nor was it especially well-performed today. And Zerlina is obviously less complicated than either Anna or Elvira. But I invariably find both it (and also her other major aria, "Batti, batti, o bel Masetto") intensely moving, in part because she's the least-complicated of Giovanni's women... the least-complicated, and yet she experiences and articulates these very intense, and very specific, experiences that are so central to the experience of being a woman. (Zerlina's arias are a significant part of why I've long agreed with William Glock* that Mozart understood women even better than Shakespeare did.) When I hear "Batti, batti, o bel Masetto," I'm invariably reminded of those times and circumstances during which a woman finds herself in the position of having to win a man back, to soothe and/or seduce him out of his anger—even when the offense that set off that anger in the first place was something most people would probably find understandable (in Zerlina's case, her near-seduction away from her country-bumpkin fiancé by the handsome, urbane, and wealthy nobleman, Giovanni); I'm pretty sure most women with at least one long-term heterosexual relationship under their belts have been in something like that situation at least once, and it's always astounded me how uncannily well Mozart's aria seems to understand that place.

(To move on to the more positive scenario:) While "Vedrai, carino" (go here to hear it sung by the incomparable Elisabeth Schwarzkopf!), like "Batti, batti, o bel Masetto," is structurally simple, it transports me every time—almost regardless of the singer—because, again, it so well inhabits the experience of what it is to be a woman loving a man (uh, I don't mean anything smutty there—though in many if not most productions, Zerlina not only gets pretty handsy with her Masetto but often goes so far as straddling him...); it understands, I mean, how artfully seduction and care** may be intertwined. I love, too, the stately, but delicate, curves of both the mezzo's line and the orchestral accompaniment below... Simple though it is, I can think of few greater testaments—in any art form—to the dignity of what a woman is, than this aria.

*"And when we have finished examining every inspired detail of this score we always come to the same conclusion; that in his generosity of outlook and in his insight into the behaviour of his characters in any given situation, Mozart is the equal of Shakespeare; indeed in his understanding of women, whom he reveres less romantically than Shakespeare but delineates with equal largeness of spirit, he is perhaps the superior of the two." That said, there are some counterparts in Shakespeare to the thing I'm trying to articulate here—I remember this guy drawing attention to the capaciousness of, e.g., Juliet, even at 14: "And all my fortunes at thy foot I'll lay / And follow thee my lord throughout the world.")

**"She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd, / And I loved her that she did pity them."

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:59 PM

      ( 10:38 PM ) The Rat  
RATTY HAS SPENT nine of the past 31 hours negotiating the Metro-North (including the fallout from this), MTA, and New Jersey Transit systems (in order to reach first H.'s 80th birthday supper—woot!—and then Opera New Jersey's new Don Giovanni). I don't want a shower—I want an autoclave.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:38 PM

      ( 11:30 AM ) The Rat  
MC LAST NIGHT, QUOTING A FRIEND: "I used to wonder how the Taiwanese spell 'dignity,' but now I know. They spell it with pink balloons."

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:30 AM

      ( 11:23 AM ) The Rat  
RATTY IS FEELING SO HAPPY THIS MORNING, you would never guess she was a grad student.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:23 AM

Saturday, July 10, 2010
      ( 1:31 PM ) The Rat  
HOW ABOUT A PORK FLOSS DONUT? Compilation of 11 odd Dunkin Donuts flavors from around the world... glocalization really has a lot to answer for.

Also check out the Anti-Ticket Donut!

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:31 PM

      ( 1:25 PM ) The Rat  
DAMN STRAIGHT. From this: "The main performance for the upcoming festival will be Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), which according to Peter is the Opera of Operas." I mean, who are you going to trust on this one—E.T.A. Hoffmann, or the awesomest Count Almaviva ever?

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:25 PM

      ( 9:26 AM ) The Rat  
GREEN TEA VODKA. Because isn't it simplest to send the oxidants and the anti-oxidants down the chute all at once, and just let them fight it out?

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:26 AM

      ( 12:00 AM ) The Rat  
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PROUST! Don't know about you, but Ratty can think of no better way to celebrate than with the All-England Summarize Proust Competition. (Script here.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:00 AM

Friday, July 09, 2010
      ( 11:45 PM ) The Rat  
THE AMERICAN WAY, via Failbook.

Also check out the Woodrow Wilson here. And this ought to make you feel better about your own life even on a bad day.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:45 PM

      ( 11:24 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:24 PM

      ( 11:00 PM ) The Rat  

The Ohio native and longtime Cleveland resident reels off the music scene, the restaurants, the street theater, certain neighborhoods. Sure, it's not New York, he says, but "how many things can you do at once? In New York, you get the choice of 500 things to do, and in Cleveland you get the choice of five, but you can only do one at a time anyway, so what difference does it make?"

He adds, "If you just come to town, you think, 'What's here?' Well, it's there, it's just like hidden under the rubble."

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:00 PM

      ( 6:24 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:24 PM

      ( 2:24 AM ) The Rat  
TO WEEP IS TO MAKE LESS THE DEPTH OF GRIEF... BITCH! via Failbook. I'm totally using "I thought it was Lil Wayne" as my excuse any time I fail to recognize a Shakespeare quotation ever again. (Have already tested this method once this week, when ET nailed me on "if you can mock a leek, you can eat a leek.")

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:24 AM

      ( 1:39 AM ) The Rat  
RATTY JUST CAVED and ordered her SYSK T-shirt (she opted for this one) from the Discovery Store. (By "caved," I mean that they announced the winners of the T-shirt design contest Wednesday morning, and I lasted almost 40 hours before buying one. Also, I don't actually wear T-shirts all that often.) Next step, clearly: groupie tattoo.

In my defense, the episode released Thursday ("How do butterfly wings get their color?") includes two of the funniest minutes I've ever heard in any medium (the "BEEP—BOOP! BEEP—BOOP!" sequence—from about 7m41s to about 9m46s—illustrating how constructive interference works). These guys really are like the best history or science teacher you ever had crossed with the best drinking buddy you ever had... and if you're at all like Ratty, the dynamic between them will remind you of the happiest moments you've ever shared with a best friend from childhood. (Of course, I may just think that because Chuck and Josh—like Ratty and her childhood best friend—are both Myers-Briggs NFs; that is, it's possible there are commonalities in how NF-NF pairs interact, and that that's what takes me back.)

The only downside of SYSK is that I'm now pretty much in withdrawal every week between Thursday and Tuesday. Well, and technically also between Tuesday and Thursday...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:39 AM

Thursday, July 08, 2010
      ( 7:23 PM ) The Rat  
SIBLING RIVALRY: THE RIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING, via Passive-Aggressive Notes. Just posted this as a comment to a related thread on one brother's Facebook Wall...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:23 PM

      ( 7:14 PM ) The Rat  
51 USES FOR COCA-COLA. I do admire Wise Bread for being thorough enough to at least nod to the contraception question. (My own favorite item on this list, needless to say, is no. 3.)

Also via Consumerist, Is It Okay To Get Married At Home Depot? How About T.J. Maxx?

A few months back, we wrote about a couple in Illinois who tried to combine cheap with hilarious by getting married at a Taco Bell. For better or for worse, it looks like that happy couple is not alone, with an increasing number of people walking down the aisles of retail stores and restaurants.

Take for example one couple in Michigan who will have the honor of being the first to say their "I do"s inside a T.J. Maxx this summer.

Explains the bride, "The one constant in my life, no matter what, has always been T.J. Maxx"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:14 PM

      ( 6:43 PM ) The Rat  
8 THEORIES ON WHY COLLEGE KIDS ARE STUDYING LESS; both this and the Globe thing I posted this morning are via Arts & Letters Daily.

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:43 PM

      ( 6:11 PM ) The Rat  
"WITH THAT STRANGE HERE-ARE-MY-GENITALS MINCE." Ratty loves fashion—as a spectator sport, anyway—but this Telegraph report on the Paris couture (which just ended) was still a lot of fun.

I am conscious that, as boiler-suit woman pointed out, I have not asked any customers why they wear couture. I am not expecting a political statement. Nevertheless, outside I approach Daphne Guinness, the heiress. I push past a young girl who is trying to take Daphne's photograph but cannot—because she is crying. Why are you crying, child? "I just love her," she says, tears splattering on to the lens. I understand; I feel like crying myself.

Daphne, may I ask you about the experience of wearing couture? (You have to phrase questions like this here. You have to go on your knees to the dress. This is a world of sycophancy and dresses that look like mouse cages.) She is wearing a white satin toga and a choker. She blinks and says: "They are comfortable. And you are buying clothes from your friends." You would go to Karl Lagerfeld with your problems? What would he say? Eat less? "And you are wearing history. They go on, forever and forever and forever!" She has a tiny child's voice. Cracked princess, I think.

Later, I go to the Elie Saab show. He dresses the Crown Princess of Sweden. I still have my notes from the show. They say: "Womb-lining. Fungus. Disney."

[At Gaultier] the show is dramatic and beautiful, even if the bride walks down the catwalk with a violin, looking as if she can’t love...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:11 PM

      ( 5:08 PM ) The Rat  
THIS ALMOST MAKES UP FOR my also having learned today that his favorite opera was Carmen, wtf. (Which in turn pretty much canceled out the points he'd won with me when I learned that his favorite dish was macaroni and cheese.) From a synopsis of an NYT report during Conrad's 1923 visit to America, in this book.

JC said, 'I don't remember everything about my books. I know much less about them than most people. You are asking me things about which I know nothing.' He denied discovering any new form, and, as for style, it was 'something about which I never bother; it is enough to get the story forward without bothering about these side subjects.' Asked about his ironical treatment of life, JC laughingly replied, 'What is an ironical?'

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:08 PM

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

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