Monday, January 16, 2006

One of the questions I had to answer in my grad school admissions essay was what publications I read. My list was insanely, stupidly long, and it's only getting longer. The New Yorker is what really pushes me over the limit. I knew as soon as I got a subscription that it would bury me. I even probably knew it would happen so soon (I'm only on my forth issue). It's one of those things I feel like I should keep on top of, but every time I open my mailbox there's a new issue when I haven't even started the last one.

If you haven't picked up Kitchen Sink yet, you should. It's a quarterly magazine based out of San Francisco - with the tagline "for people who think too much" - and every issue is full of short-ish essays about art and music and politics, along with fiction and comix. What makes KS different is that the editors really make it a point to contextualize the things they're talking about: to never just review a book or movie or album, but to write more personally and in-depth about their own takes on those things. It makes for much more honest and interesting reading, and the result is a whole lot less masturbatory than a lot of the usual arts writing. KS is also blessedly short on interviews.

My weekend was pretty laid back, which is how I wanted it. Katie and I braved the sleet on Saturday night and had dinner at Pukk, this trendy (green flourescent lights, every surface including tables covered with round white tiles) but surprisingly cheap and delicious vegetarian Thai place. I did some laundry. I ate some cake. I did a bunch of reading. I read Manstealing for Fat Girls, by Michelle Embree, which looked promising because it was published by Soft Skull and had an awesome title. It was also blurbed by some writers I really like, including Michelle Tea and Poppy Z. Brite. But it was only (and barely, really) okay. The teenage narrator was pretty true to life, but there were enough over the top moments and characters to kind of kill things. Everything in the book was pretty bleak - as high school is - but eventually, I just couldn't care about the characters because I didn't believe in them. If you're going to have characters do a lot of drugs and beat up on themselves and form unrealistic friendships, it should at least feel like there's a reason behind it. There were points where I actually rolled my eyes. The best high school period piece I've read in a long time is still Joe Meno's Hairstyles of the Damned. That was such a solid, great book. I was hoping Manstealing might be a kind of girl driven version. Oh well. I also read Self-Made Man, by Norah Vincent (non-fiction). It was pretty much another disappointment, with Vincent (a lesbian) going undercover as a man in various social situations to try and get some insight into what men's motivations and actions. It didn't really reveal much that most of us don't already know or suspect, I think.

I did watch the FOUR! HOUR! PREMIER! EVENT! of 24 last night and tonight, though tonight I couldn't handle giving it my full attention. Man, that show is just so bad. I'm not sure I can stick around to see how terrible and cliched its going to get, but its also kind of amazing to see what new ridiculousness they manage to offer up with a straight face week after week.

And now, off to figure out what I can wear to work tomorrow that will make me feel capable and smart, but not too much like a grown up. This is a nearly impossible balance. A cup of coffee, always too full and dripping onto my hand as I rush into the office anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes late, is the one consistent thing about my appearance 5 days a week. There's something comforting about this though. If I think about it, I'm glad I haven't managed to really get it right.

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