Thursday, July 30

Cyclops on the Bus

A lot of the monsters invented by the Ancient Greeks' mythology were later seen as predictions of the genetic deformities brought in by modernity. Dryads and Kraken and Hydra alike, all rearing their heads in the digital age in varying shades of unfortunate. At the Musée Fragonard d'Alfort, a taxidermied oddities museum attached to the main veterinary hospital in Paris, I learned that Cyclops, too, are amongst us. I saw myopic cows and bunnies and realized that any mammal can have an Eye of Providence hovering above and between where its two eyes ought to be. And then, two days ago on the 4 bus, I saw a live one! A lady cyclops was (appropriately) seated in the handicapped section in the front. Unfortunately she displayed some unfriendly behavior, as beasts so often do, so I didn't feel comfortable asking her where she'd bought her protective glasses.

Tuesday, July 28

Old Gift: ABBA Clock

I know I said [on Twtr] that I wasn't going to talk about ABBA anymore, but I just found this ABBA clock in the cabinet under the sink in the bathroom that I share with Atiya. I had given it to Mia for a birthday or Christmas in the early 2000's, which I had used as an excuse to FINALLY buy a clock from Mod World. The ABBA Clock is simple and glittery, garnished with children's beads, some of which help to spell out Dancing Queen. Despite this, the image of the group that encompasses the face of the clock is clearly of them lip-syncing, "When I Kissed the Teacher" in Poland in 1976. I like the clock more now than when I bought it [for Mia], having originally picked it because it was inexpensive. Another clock in Mod World was the reason I'd frequent the store - to make sure it was still there. It was a Pink Flamingos-inspired clock, the body of which was a pink lawn flamingo trimmed with AstroTurf and heart-warming pictures of Divine. It cost several hundred dollars so no one would buy it, and I don't think anyone ever did. RIP Mod World.

Sunday, July 26

Best of Maine

Saturday, July 25

New Necklace

This necklace is great for summer. It's a miniature ice cream scooper that used to be a freezer magnet but now has a suede ribbon strung through it. I bought it for $1 because why the hell not. I have time on my hands.

Biz's Karaoke

I definitely identify with Biz Markie. I hope that I'll eventually be the Biz Markie of my chosen field: not impressively or even technically skilled but so jokey and defiant that it passes as excellently-thought-out. His alias is a pun beyond what he seems capable of after hearing Toilet Stool Rap - goofy flow, daffy rhymes, Puffy AmiYumi scratching - but that's most of his charm! In his song, Chinese Food, wherein he names good dishes, Biz Markie sends a Rest In Peace to Aaliyah and then shouts out Bruce Lee and Jet Li. My other deep connection with Biz Markie is his love for Gilbert O'Sullivan [another GR8 moniker] which he professed with an unofficial and unauthorized cover of Alone Again (Naturally), for which he was later sued. The lawsuit burned when rubbed into the financial failure of his album, I Need A Haircut, but four years later Biz Markie was healed by his own classic rendition of Elton John's Benny and the Jets. He sustains an entertainment value throughout the whole song without proving a pinch of musical competence, which, for me, is awfully inspiring.

Friday, July 24

Being Frank

Yesterday I went to Walmart to accompany Tim while he bought a knife. Near the check-out aisle we saw a children's homework folder featuring a florescent peacock whose claws were locked into a big read heart. The heart donned a sash that read, "Ed Hardy.""Isn't that horrible?" I remarked to Tim. "What does this have to do with elementary education?"
"What is that?" He seemed to agree. "Is this the new Lisa Frank?"

What a good point! I'm pretty ashamed for not realizing it earlier.

Lisa Frank essentially raised the girls and lady boys of this generation, teaching us to love nature and music in terms of the neon hues and an unrelenting sunniness that don't exist in nature or music. She made a pass at designing clothes, but I have no memory of anyone showing up to a sleepover in a knee-length teddy bear sweatshirt. [Of course I'd torch a children's hospital to wear one now.]

And once our generation's guard was down, Christian Audiger came in and created a dangerous version of Lisa Frank. As Ed Hardy he employed dragons in the place of unicorns, skulls instead of rainbows, and used neon tigers to replace neon tiger pups with long eyelashes. Once he cornered the corny clothes market, he went back to where Lisa Frank had left off [when she was sued for $30,000 for asking little girls for their birthdates and addresses and then fell into obscurity] and rejuvenated the trend of blinding school supplies.

I was pretty down about this, having not heard from Lisa Frank for over a decade, thinking about the world my children will someday think was brightened by Christian Audiger. Today I went to two Dollar Tree retailers [I usually go to them in Illinois and Florida] because they were next-door to most of the guitar stores in Portland, ME. I weaved around the store, considered buying candy, and then found something even sweeter --

the Lisa Frank section! I only had two dollars so I didn't buy everything I wanted [stickers, mini notebooks, fold-out gift boxes printed with a beautiful Lisa Frank gumball machine] but I did get a set of four Lisa Frank keychains! The charms are too fragile [cardboard] to actually be thrown into my bag with my keys and loose coins and old food so they became single-use necklaces!

Wednesday, July 22

Matchy Matchy

Colby and I both have jean jackets here in Maine (I flew mine in from Los Angeles) but he refuses to wear his when I wear mine and then take a picture. He seems to think it's uncool when couples pose as fraternal twins that make out. Lotta wild freaks, man. Can you dig that? It's far out.

Tuesday, July 21

17 Saved Voice Messages

My cell phone's voicemail message includes a really tiring joke about how I'll return the call that I've just missed "in four days." It actually serves as a warning, excusing myself in advanced for a slackidaisical response time, due partially to an unwarranted reluctance to listen to my answering machine at all.

This behavior is made even less functional because my phone can only hold 3 unheard voicemails. If I listen to a message in full, which in reality is quite rare, and then immediately hang up without pressing any numbers, the voicemail is permanently saved. Over time I've had as many as 19 accidentally-saved voicemails, but in combing through them and choosing favorites, I've narrowed it down to 17. Everytime I have 3 New Voicemails and my Mailbox Is Full, I'm scolded by a severe voice actress and ordered to delete the Stored ones.

From time to time I'll go through the 17 voicemails to see if I've kept an accidental message that I don't really need or like or want in an attempt to delay the necessity to check them - 3 New Messages comes pretty quickly for me. Right now is one of those times, and after entering my password and pressing pound, I still love them like 17 audio children.

1. A thick accent from either a Ming Dynasty or David King employee, saying, "I guess, this is your Chinese food here, we're waiting for you."

2. Jared Chester with my high school friends in the background, saying, "In 3 hours you may be feeling this good. Happy New Year."

3. "Sam Jaffe calling from Purchase Television," with a faux-friendly-detailed-professional accent.

4. Toby calling me and yelling with Billy Hertz and then both of them coughing profusely.

5. Taub called me beccause, "tomorrow, Sunday, May 6th, and you're actually the first person I'm letting to know this, who I'm letting to, this sounds really bad, that I'm coming home. I'll be back early in the morning. We should get together, meet up, bring your friends, I could say Hi to Rocawear, and talk about how we don't really know him." Later in the voicemail he makes fun of Julia for being in Vietnam. I think it was from the start of the summer after Junior year.

6. When I was going out with Rocawear I had once made a plan to meet him on the LIRR. I got to the train late and we decided to meet at the Manhasset train station. During that ride, a drunk yuppie who was eating fried chicken started hitting on me. I thought I had only given him my email address, but I guess gave him my phone number because I wanted him to leave me alone. He apparently fostered a filthy Long Island accent since 2005. He called to say, "Hello, this is Dominic, and I've seen to have gotten your number in my cell phone. Um, [4 second pause] I don't know who you are. I don't know who Lena is. And I was just curious to see who it belongs to."

7. Nini calling in her remarkably slow, breathy voice. "I'm comin, ya know, from Jersey and want to know how to, uh, drive in somewhere, park somewhere. I just wanted to find out, ya know, how to get to your apartment in Brooklyn. And if, ya know, I would be intruding." She's talking about the apartment I had with Jenny on Lorimer two summers ago. I was most-likely canceling plans to see her.

8. My cousin Lucas, probably six years old, who I see or want to see something of myself in. "I was in the Championship baseball game. We came in second place, we didn't win. Love you and miss you and love you. Bye."

9. A call from Julio. The call time was I think 4:35 a.m. "Yo Alaina it's Julio, I know it's like, really early in the morning. But I wanted to see what you're up to at this hour, this ungodly hour. But yeah I'm hanging out, just wanted to see what you're doing. Hit me up."

10. Rocawear crying to Beau about how I'd just been arrested because he hadn't hung up his phone.

11. "Alaina Hi, My name is Brian Sids, I'm calling from a law firm, I was given your number in that you had called in response to a commercial on TV offering to help people who had injured kidneys as a result of having heart surgery."

12. Colby alternating between high-pitched and long, hollow sound effects. I had missed his call because I was at the Parthenon replica in Nashville, TN with Jon and Taub.

13. Colby calling me while driving mail to a post office for an employer. He seemingly forgets that he's leaving a voicemail, slowly narrating what he's driving by, yawning through sentences. He tells me how much he'll be paid for working on the 4th of July, "so you know, you can be happy for me," and then admits to having smoked weed the night before, "but to compensate I've had 3 cups of tea already today, and I plan to have at least 2 more." He ends the voicemail by telling me what street he's turning onto and then says, "And that's what dreams are made of."

14. Colby calling from France via Skype the week before I fly to Paris.

15. Colby calling from France via Skype, incomprehensible.

16. Colby's five-year-old brother Finlay calling me, with Colby telling him half-sentence by half-sentence what to say and then Finlay reciting it.

17. Josh Brown singing, Nobody Knows It But Me by Babyface.

Thursday, July 16


Wednesday, July 15

A Nice Thing That Left Vegas

Las Vegas is really dissimilar to the way its advertised. It's not dangerous or seedy, and aside from the capacity to order prostitutes, there isn't very much sinning going on. I daresay its the least wild place I've ever been. Because while most cities have a Disney World-style strip - New York has Times Square, Los Angeles has Hollywood Boulevard, Paris has the Champs-Élysées, Chicago has the area surrounding the Rock N Roll McDonald's - the entirety of Las Vegas is a Disney World, and upon visiting you are trapped.

Nothing happens in Vegas and the only things that stay are your gambled amounts of money and your loose stools stemming from any of the many casino-hotel buffets. Upon returning to Los Angeles I began to notice billboards in favor of the "resorts" in Vegas, recognizing each themed monstrosity by name. An ad for the Monte Carlo pictures a man and woman and a bottle of vodka and reads, Unpretentiously Luxurious, which, if you think about it, sounds like the wrong kind of luxury. "Unpretentious" means Not Smart and Not Thought Out Well and Not Culturally Significant; so when partnered with a word that means Feels Good, one could say that settling in for a night of animal porn and Oil of Olay sounds unpretentiously luxurious.

I went to Old Vegas, or Downtown Las Vegas, where all the famous moving florescent statues are: the cowboy giving the thumbs up, the cowgirl lifting her leg, the boy holding a disproportionate donut or burger over his head. It's the Vegas of Swingers and Honey We Blew Up The Kids, rather than of CSI: Miami in Vegas and The Hangover. It's slightly dirtier and has more sad alcoholics, plus many more penny slot machines (which make it impossible to win anything and are mainly in place for recovering gambling addicts). The free drinks were weaker so I liked it less, but I did chance upon a Native American supplies store. I found a pair of moccasins [or makasin, mohkisson, mokussin, makizin, Mi'kmaq, m'kusun or maxkeseni] in sandy, smooth leather. They have 'W's stitched on the top to help grip the slippers to my feet. They were the rarest, prettiest things in Las Vegas, and they had stayed there long enough.

This Is What It Would Look Like If I Was A Model

Monday, July 13

Weather & Lace

In April I went to London with Colby and his cousin Brad. We didn't see Big Ben or have tea or harass any stationary guards but chose instead to spend the days sleeping in the city's massive public parks. We never bought a map, probably on my bad advice and irrational thriftiness, so wandering lost became our normal form of transportation.

Looking for Abney Park, which features an old, overgrown cemetery, we went to the wrong part of town and then a localized public park. The park was lined on one side with Hasidic establishments, so we were able to eat bagels - a foodstuff that receives 0 recognition in Paris - before napping in the grass. The weather was windy and I only wore a t-shirt or tank top so we stopped at a thrift store (which obviously sold the belongings of dead Hasids). The shirt I picked was 7€ but I bought it on sale for 3€50.

The shirt is thick cotton with something elastic blended in, and long sleeves, all of which is printed with the animated image of lace. Parts of the pattern are studded with a single teal sequin. Lace was really hot in the streets earlier this year, so at 3€50 the shirt was a v practical steal.

Sunday, July 12

Kitty Day

Right before Colby moved to Paris, when I still lived in New York, I would call him while he was at work to tell him Americans-learning-French jokes.
"Hon, I can only talk for 15 seconds," he'd say when he picked up. "What's up?"
"Honey, honey - why do French men only eat one egg at a time?"
"Uh, what?"
"Say why."
"Uh, why?"

Sometimes Colby would be in the midst of saying Goodbye and I'll See You Really Soon, and I'd squeeze in a quick, "So there were two cats that were racing along the Seine..."
"And one of them was named Misses and the other was named Un Deux Trois."
"O.K. Hon, I can call you in a--"
"And you wanna know what happened in the race? UN DEUX TROIS CAT [Quatre] SANK [Cinq]! IN THE SEINE!"

My favorite joke, which is decidedly the least clever and hardest to understand for both Americans and Frenchies, is:
Why is Easter a good idea?
Because it's a bon idée! [The answer, in some pronunciation, is supposed to sound like Bunny Day, somehow.]

I liked the joke so much that I tried to alter it to make sense.
Why is Halloween a good idea?
Why, Alaina, why?
Because it's a BONEY day! [This nabs the correct pronunciation but, as in the original joke, brings up an awkward and/or imaginary way of describing the fated holiday.]

But I didn't like my new version more. I liked the other one more because I liked talking about bunnies. Bunnies, kitties, puppies, duckies, even ratties, these things are common points of conversation for me. And I really liked saying, "Bunny day," even if it didn't form a sensible phrase. I began answering my phone calls from Colby as "Hello Bunny Day," much to his chagrin.

When I eventually moved to Paris, too, I didn't live with any pets. I would get extremely excited to see animals on the street, and from there began to call to French dogs passing by with, "Oh! Bon soir Puppy day!"

This habit has since spilled into my American life, often still with the parts of [poorly pronounced] French. I live with four adult cats and two extra-large dogs, but to me they're just a festival of puppy and kitty weeks. Prarie made a series of kitty day necklaces for a show we did at the house in New York, and when I returned from my Euro Trip one had come for me in the mail. The image of her black and white cat, Crybaby, appears in a purple teardrop gem with a hint of gold glimmering from the bottom. She has since made more necklaces in honor of her little honey. Yesterday, Mia asked if my necklace was of Socks: First Cat, of whom I had many t-shirts as a child. Prarie usually also mothers 2-5 fancy rats, so I'm hoping she comes out with thick rings or charm bracelets celebrating the ratty days sometime soon.