Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pretty Lady's Pumpkin Party

Pointers for carving pumpkins:

Cut a large enough hole in the top so that you can get your hand in.

Draw the face on first, rather than attempting free-form.

Scoop out both the seeds, and enough flesh to make a pie, in order to create a thin enough shell that when you remove the skin in places, the light shines through.
Roasting seeds:
Wash thoroughly.

Put in pan @350 with some olive oil and salt.

Stir frequently.

Remove when golden brown.
Making pie:
Be careful to avoid mistaking the stringy stuff around the seeds for edible pumpkin.

Steam the pumpkin, don't boil; press out as much moisture as possible, and put through a food processor.

Use in pumpkin pie recipe instead of canned.
Good pumpkin party music:
Stephan Grappelli

Miles Davis

Buena Vista Social Club

'Amelie' soundtrack
Ad hoc meal:
Thai curry

Red wine

Apple pie

Halloween candy
Thank you to all who came, all who RSVP'd, and even those who were completely AWOL. The universe can be a cozy place, and the evening was perfect.

Perfect Attire

Pretty Lady has been inspired by the Dandy to undertake the self-indulgent and seemingly trivial topic of Perfection in Dress.

I am completely happy in white tie and tails, I admit it. Now, before you nigglers in the audience get started, I will myself point out that I am not exhibiting regulation wear, here. I have fully taken liberties. Yes, I have the traditional pique vest, but I am wearing with it (horrors!) a pleated formal shirt, rather than matching pique. And as well, my tie is satin and is frankly a little large, a little flowery, a little...well, queer, of course! *w* (Polyester? Pre-tied? I think not...!) The white linen pocket square is not visible here. Bringing together the range of white textures and shades: a fragrant gardenia in the lapel.

I will not obsess that somehow in the photo, regrettably, no white shirt cuff is visible. I should be embarassed to take your time with petty protestions that, in fact, great care was taken to ensure the jacket sleeves were exactly the correct length to allow that traditional flash of white.
When there are so many weighty matters oppressing us on every side, it may seem downright narcissistic and empty-headed to exult in matters of sartorial detail. But Pretty Lady maintains that creating the proper outfit in which to attend a fraught occasion can occasionally boost the soul's satisfaction to such an extent, that corresponding resonance is achieved, with regard to deeper spiritual affairs.

For example--back in the Dark Ages of Pretty Lady's student days, she made plans to attend an Art World affair of more than usual personal duress to herself. For not only are Art World denizens more than unusually lacking in social skills and common courtesy, but this particular event starred a querulous young lady who had, quite recently, stolen the affections of Pretty Lady's First Love, right under her nose. Pretty Lady was proud, single, and smarting. She must needs go Armored.

So she assembled a costume which, although not overtly alluring, precisely captured the late-eighties haute aesthetic of Underground Grunge. From the bottom up:
Black, thrift-store-purchased men's wingtips, a few months shy of duct tape (applied when holes wear through soles.)

Black pleated hourglass pants.

Black sleeveless mock turtleneck.

Olive green men's suit jacket, also thrift-store-purchased.

Antique, ornate Guatemalan silver chandelier earrings, with stones that might possibly be uncut emeralds.

Black, pink and olive green hair scarf, from Denmark.

Black eyeliner.
This ensemble may appear somewhat hobo-esque and unflattering in the light of today's standards, of course, but in these Dark Ages, take Pretty Lady's word for it, it was Perfect. As she swept through the door of the Art Event, outwardly calm, inwardly quailing, she arrested the attention of both her former First Love, and her genius professor from Thailand. Her genius professor launched himself forward in spontaneous enthusiasm and joyfully bussed her on the cheek; the entire performance was witnessed by her First Love, who visibly flinched. She will be eternally, deeply grateful, both to the demi-gods of Sartorial Inspiration, and to her lovely professor, for that moment.

So, in the interests of shameless self-indulgence, and as an example of how one's personal style may evolve over the decades, Pretty Lady will now describe what she wore to go party-hopping last Saturday night. Simply because she liked it so much.

From the bottom up:
Black over-the-calf Sketchers boots, with high leather lacings and fake fur trim. Not only are these boots exceptionally comfortable, but due to some miraculous alchemy of design, they make Pretty Lady's feet appear roughly two sizes smaller than they actually are.

Pale lavender openwork textured tights.

Gypsy goth skirt; white lace over white satin over sage-patterned ruffles, hem which sweeps considerably lower in the back than the front.

Black knit form-fitting pullover top, with graceful horizontal pleating in front, square neckline extending daringly to the edge of the shoulder. (Donated by aging slutty friend.)

Charcoal grey cashmere shoulder cape. (Serious thrift-store find.)

Black leather hourglass jacket with fake fur trim.

Luxuriously flashy citrine and topaz earrings, extravagant gift from Best Friend.

Special-occasion use of curling iron, super-shine conditioner, eyeliner and glitter gel.
It is a great pity that the parties Pretty Lady attended did not turn out to be the kind which form spontaneous, enthusiastic dance floors, but she blasted Grupo Fantasma in the car to make up for it.

This is all, of course, sheer vanity, but in the grander scheme of things it is relatively harmless.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Lullaby spammie

Something about this particular spam strikes a chord of deep comfort within Pretty Lady. Perhaps it is the lateness of the hour, and the excellence of the wine, and the success of the party she just threw, but she really likes this one. It is rather like a lullaby.

From: Maurice Minor
Subject: worry nightie

We have done all the work for you, by checking their references, and making sure they are licensed and insured, all at No Cost to you. We Have Amazing Prices! New appliances and furniture. Under the supervision of the RCBC- Vaad Harobomin of Bergen County, NJ, we provide Cotton Candy, Popcorn, Pretzel, Hot Dog, and Sno-Cone machines for all events.

All from Israel, all for great prices! All from Israel, all for great prices! Foster and Smith - Great Prices on Fish Aquariums!

From art and books to computers and sporting goods, there is something for everyone.

Surtout pas, ce serait trop simple
. New Specials Each Week!

Gerszberg-Kipnis is the Master of Makeup Artistry, Color and Technology.
New appliances and furniture. Paintings of your Rebbe, or family members, or any custom artwork for your home. from Hair ,Makeup, and dressers for your special day serving the tri state and long Island.

All rentals come with a machine operator and delivery.

com - Products with Mail-In Rebates at Amazon. Walk to train, Worship and Shops. com CLASSIFIEDS Section. Minutes to the Kotel. Looking for a warm, patient individual with strong organizational skills and interpersonal skills. Impressive selection of Jewish and Israeli themed original oil paintings. Experience with infants and toddlers necessary.

You will not be disappointed. If you plan on traveling in the next year and a half, plan ahead and get your coupons now.

HURRY TO SEE SELECTION! Contact us for more information and to receive a copy of our e-portfolio.
com's monthy specials store!

Serious inquiries only. Near hotels, resturants and shuls for a most convienant location. Impressive selection of Jewish and Israeli themed original oil paintings. Great for flying from coast to coast. Toilet Train Your Cat Yes You Can!

Our FREE twice-weekly newsletter is filled with the latest and greatest coupons and deals to save you money!

Surtout pas, ce serait trop simple. Nobody likes having to look great be a financial burden, and neither do we. Surtout pas, ce serait trop simple.

The Angry Atheist

Of course you darlings were too polite to ask. But she can hear you wondering.

"Of all the colorful characters in Pretty Lady's shadowy past," you think, "why is it that the one we have not heard about is the Angry Atheist? Surely this one is the most colorful of all. Surely she could mine this character to the fullest extent, in her cautionary tales of Tolerance Gone Mad. Surely there is infinite fodder here for wry, picaresque and illustrative self-mockery, for Adventures on the Edge, for voyages into the absurd that one can only dream of. Why is Pretty Lady so uncharacteristically reticent on the subject?"

The truth is, friends, that the Angry Atheist was the one who sobered her up. It was no laughing matter, this relationship. The Angry Atheist is the reason that Pretty Lady leads the all but monastic life she leads today. And for that, she supposes she must thank him.

You see, darlings, Atheism, despite its pretense to strict rationalism, is anything but. It is a philosophy rife with superstition, fanaticism, evangelism and irrationality. In the hands of a person with formidable intellect (as indeed, intellect has always been one of Pretty Lady's primary requirements in a consort, however these gentlemen may be lacking in other respects), it can become a dangerous weapon. The shell-shock incurred by experiencing the side-effects of this destructive philosophy, up close and personal, for a period of years, veritably smelted Pretty Lady. It rent her to her foundations, and she has spent the subsequent years painstakingly constructing her soul anew.

Superstition? you say. How so?

One of the hallmarks of Atheism, as Pretty Lady experienced it, is a wholly irrational trust in the efficacy of Transference. That is, the belief that one can solve a perceived problem by focussing one's energies on something that is not the problem at all. This human intellectual failing can be summed up in that hoary old joke, "What are you doing?" "Looking for my car keys." "Are you sure this is where you dropped them?" "No, I lost them in the other block. But there's more light over here."

The doings of the Angry Atheist were almost wholly dictated by this unexamined philosophy. It manifested in the manner in which he dealt with his chronic, simmering, unappeasable rage; in order to avoid showering his nearest and dearest with such (this included Pretty Lady, up until the bitter end), he would habitually pick fights with persons he believed to be both peripheral and deserving targets. Such as cops.

Of course, the laws of Karma being what they are, not to mention the nature of cops, this habit had some not inconsiderable side effects. The Angry Atheist would frequently complain, "I'm always getting guns pointed at me. Even when I'm not doing anything. Especially when I'm not doing anything. Cops have it out for me."

"That is because you look like Bernhard Goetz, darling," Pretty Lady would reply. The A.A. did not find this amusing, but it was true. Cops, both good ones and bad ones, have a certain intuitive sense for sensing dangerous auras in random persons; the combination of high intellect and smouldering rage creates a particularly palpable field. Ergo the stories.

"All I was doing was riding my bicycle in the rain alongside the Billyburg Bridge," he stormed. "This cop car came up behind me and forced me onto the sidewalk. Then he gave me a ticket for reckless endangerment, because I was riding on the sidewalk. I gave that asshole a piece of my mind, all right; I went as far as humanly possible without getting arrested."

This story occurred very late in the relationship, so Pretty Lady was not quite as sympathetic as she might have been hitherto.

"I'm sensing two distinct elements in this story," Pretty Lady replied, tersely. "One is gross injustice, certainly; but the other one is YOU." The A.A. cut short the conversation.

Now, the Real Reason for the Atheist's chronic rage was, of course, a set of absolutely vile progenitors. There is no doubt in Pretty Lady's mind that this man was raised by abusive creepazolas. His anger was, then, completely understandable. It was also completely pointless, because 1) the abusive creepazolas were thoroughly, physically dead by the time she met the Atheist, and 2) he was committedly perpetuating the effects of their abuse upon himself, by choosing to remain in his state of impotent, humorless ire against them.

Of course, the Atheist's philosophy of choice made any other methodology of rage-management impossible, because the notion of healing and forgiveness was a ridiculous fairy tale, in his opinion. He subscribed entirely to a mechanistic vision of psychology, as well as every other science; if one generates Rage, the only thing to do is to Vent it. Like ammonia, or fluorocarbons, or ozone.

Pretty Lady, at the time she met the Atheist, was firmly entrenched in a state of undiagnosed co-dependency. Her idealistic notion was, that if she just loved the Atheist enough, if she understood that the root of his outbursts was his own deep woundedness, if she accepted him for himself, that this would Heal him. So she proceeded to do so. She tolerated all manner of egregious, offensive outbursts, in the name of Divine Love. She was a total idiot.

For tolerating the Atheist's chronic venting of spiritual poison did HIM no good at all, and very nearly killed Pretty Lady. Since the violent demise of this relationship, Pretty Lady has had no tolerance left over, whatsoever. She is a wee bit Hypersensitive, in fact. That is why, when any person at all vents his Spleen in her direction, she has developed a habit of intolerantly calling him on his toxicity, and in the event of failure to apologize, she cuts the connection. Any other practice is wantonly self-destructive.

The Title

The working title of Pretty Lady's monograph-in-progress is now 'Charm and Civilization.' It will focus upon the crucial role of Charm in promoting World Peace and Universal Popularity, which means that her Target Market will include pretty much all humans who are not terrorists.

This decision was arrived at after reading the first few chapters of 'How To Write A Book Proposal,' a document which presupposes that one wishes to sell one's monograph to a major New York publishing house for oodles and oodles of money. Which sounds good to Pretty Lady right now, although she is not counting on any such thing. She has always maintained that if work is not undertaken for the sheer joy of the process, one might as well be shoveling horse manure. Which is what a great deal of modern literary output entails, sadly enough.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Thrifty Girl's Spa

Please forgive Pretty Lady's blissed-out silence. She spent the whole of yesterday in Sinful Abandon. Lacking the resources to book a day at Bliss (although she hears tell that they have gift certificates, hint, hint), she emailed a number of similarly stressed-out and impoverished girlfriends, and we all descended upon the exotic Russian Turkish Baths on the Lower East Side. So Olde Worlde! So brusque, the fellow at the desk, with the lock-boxes! (They do not take payment in advance; they simply hold your wallet hostage while you are nude and defenseless, and charge you for all the scrubbings afterward.) So primitive, the facilities! They have been there, it seems, well over one hundred years. So Pretty Lady's Spa Day may take on historical significance.

Wednesdays, as well, are Women-Only days, which added to the party atmosphere. No wimpy, sensitive gentlemen were around to complain when we added peppermint oil to the steam jet, coated the sinks and floors with sea-salt, almond oil and deep-conditioners, and freely discussed bikini waxing, while doing sauna-yoga in the nude.

It has been Pretty Lady's frequent observation, during her years at women-only bathhouses, that females who appear most lumpy and awkward in clothing are the most glorious without it. Those little coat-hanger clothes-horses show to scrawny disadvantage while bathing; it is the odd, gnome-like women who appear as Earth Goddesses in their altogether. Or so she sees it, from a purely aesthetic perspective. Any other perspective is a closed book to her, despite the most strenuous urgings of her wannabe-sex-radical boyfriends.

Later, of course, it was Sushi. Sushi is the only acceptable post-sauna repast, in Pretty Lady's opinion. So clean, so nourishing, so free of extraneous sticky grease. After that, trolling the Lower East Side funky-clothing basement shops, winter-boot shopping, and chai tea on the couch at the Himalayan café. Pretty Lady scored an uneven-hemline, gypsy-Goth white lace skirt at bargain basement prices.

Now back to our regularly scheduled drudgery. Sigh.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bellicose Activities

My, my, my! Pretty Lady is feeling veritably Flushed. The thrill! She has been so daring as to get herself Banned. Banned by Bane! What a distinction! It is quite a milestone. She feels almost as chipper as she did the time she managed to overcome a lifetime of craven Good Girl behavior and get herself arrested.

On that momentous occasion, she was caught, literally red-handed, spray-painting her signature emblem upon an inner-city construction site. She was accompanied by her partner-in-crime, the Masochistic Socialist, who was plastering the selfsame construction site with posters demanding six-week vacations for all American wage slaves. The arresting officer took one look at her partner's informational material, complete with erudite research on civil structures in Germany, and let him go; Pretty Lady he handcuffed and escorted to the station.

This arresting officer was a patriotic subscriber to Establishment Mores. He shook his head and wondered where Pretty Lady had gone wrong. His pedestrian brain was unable to comprehend why anyone would want to Rock The Boat by decorating disposable private property with enigmatic calligraphy. Self-expression, introspection, reflectivity, and general puckishness meant nothing to this man; he regarded Pretty Lady's impulsive offer to paint a mural on his station wall with blank impassivity.

The other cop on duty was more amenable. After exchanging good-natured banter for a few minutes, he inquired, "I know this is not my prisoner, but can we take the cuffs off, now? I don't think she's dangerous."

Little did he know.

Boys, you may fight your little wars. You may go to War in Iraq; you may wage a War on Terror, on Drugs, Poverty, and Inner-City Vandalism. Pretty Lady will watch from the sidelines with respectful and disinterested curiosity. But when you infringe upon her cause, when you cross that line, be prepared to face her wrath. For Pretty Lady is a high-ranking officer in the timeless and international War On Kitsch.

For Kitsch, my darlings, is the most insidious evil of them all. It rots the soul from within. It maintains the superficial pretense, the vile and consuming Lie, that all that is not namby-pamby, cutesy and corny is rejected of God. It flattens the rough, the difficult, the quirky and mysterious; it obviates adventure, struggle, engagement and discipline. It is a totalitarian hand which steamrollers Truth in its gangrenous path of the Banal and the Bland.

But Pretty Lady! you cry, from the depths of the trenches. Pretty Lady! Why? Must we let go of every last scrap of Untrammelled Beauty in our lives? Must you rend this last, most precious fantasy? Must you muddy the small, clear puddle of the Sacred in our lives, which we have carved free of excrement with the most Herculean of labors? Must you tear from us our Thomas Kinkaid houses, our Jesus With The Little Children posters, our Kenny G albums and our Mary Janes with ribbons on top? Must you replace them with Francis Bacon-esque portraits of the very struggle we are trying so desperately to transcend, in the name of your degraded and abusive notions of Truth? How, Pretty Lady? How can you be so cruel?

Be not despairing, little ones. There is light on the other side.

Listen. When Pretty Lady sat down in her scribbling chair to share with you her thoughts on Kitsch, she went to the stereo and selected a piece of Sacred Music with which to fortify and inspire herself. This piece of Sacred Music is Tabula Rasa, by Arvo Pärt. Pretty Lady has been a major fan of Mr. Pärt's music since her thirtieth birthday, when a bassoonist friend of hers very kindly made her a tape of 'Miserere.'

It is, in fact, somewhat difficult to listen to Pärt in a recorded context, as the dynamic variations are so extreme that if you set the volume knob so that the music is audible at the start, it will presently escalate to such a pitch that the furniture begins trembling, and coherent thought becomes a challenge. Thus, Pretty Lady imagines that Pärt is best experienced in the context of either concert or Mass, when one's attention may be unwaveringly devoted to the experience of being wafted, tickled, seduced, plunged within, shaken, tossed, dismembered, reassembled, and finally elevated to an unimaginable transcendence, by the stark harmonies and pure dissonances of the Pärt phraseology.

No, friends, Pärt does not tweedle. He does not croon, tinkle or elide. His music speaks of the furnaces in the heart of the Sun, mirrored and echoed by molten upheavals in the core of the Earth and of the soul; it passes through earthquakes, through tsunamis, into the sparkle of sun on a wave, and all the forces which allowed this miracle to come to pass. It plumbs the depths of wisdom and of experience to achieve its sublime authority, and thus may not be challenged by anything less than the whole, but merely answered in kind.

This, loves, is Art. It does not live flatly and tamely upon a wall. It participates; it looks not merely upon your clean Sunday faces, your battened-down prudish lisping of platitudes, but equally upon your scars and the dirt under your nails. It looks with the unflinching eyes of God; it accepts, forgives, and reveals the holy perfection that underlay all of your bloody endeavors.

For do you truly prefer, my darlings, that God live in a little sanitized corner of your lives and houses, only smiling approvingly upon your most false and strained attempts at conformity? Or would you rather welcome Him everywhere, in every moment, into the most private and personal, into the very core that is You, where you have exiled him out of a false sense of unworthiness and shame?

Perhaps you do prefer. But until you love yourselves, all yourselves, Pretty Lady must do it for you. Even unto being exiled, jailed and Banned.

Pretty Lady's Preferred Form of Torture

Thanks to the ever-vigilant Dandy for this scrumptious tidbit:

MASON, Texas, Oct. 11, 2006 — Three county inmates in the jail here lay on their bunks, not saying much.

They wore pink jumpsuits and pink slippers, and one was wrapped in pink sheets. They were surrounded by pink bars and pink walls. They were not comfortable.

Despite the cramped condition of the tiny jail, the inmates said sitting there was better than working outside, where they might be seen by people they know. Using pink uniforms in a pink jail is a small step to deter inmates from ever wanting to spend more time in the Mason County Jail, which might be getting too old to operate, said Sheriff Clint Low.

Pretty Lady has ever been an advocate of Color Therapy. Judiciously selected tints may be used either to soothe or to assault; in this instance, a single brilliant hue appears to be doing both simultaneously. Such efficiency! Such thrift! Pretty Lady can merely applaud.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Brooklyn Folly

Pretty Lady and Jake once took a special field trip to visit this architectural monstrosity in one of the more labyrinthine and inaccessible areas of Brooklyn (the train journey required was truly Byzantine.) It was definitely and obviously the home of a madman--bizarre, tenuous, and pricelessly irreplaceable. She highly recommends viewing the slideshow, in all its psychotic splendor.

Now it seems that the New York Department of Buildings is attempting to eradicate both the Folly and the madman from the Brooklyn landscape. Pretty Lady finds this unconscionable. After all, what is Brooklyn for, if not fantastical structures made entirely out of junk?

Of course, she acknowledges that the neighbors might not like living next to an egregious fire hazard. Still, telling a 75-year-old impoverished madman that all he has to do is hire an architect, an engineer, and some contractors in order to keep his place of residence strikes her as a bit disingenuous. It strikes her as inexorably totalitarian, in fact. This sort of thing would never happen in Mexico. Peasants are allowed to keep building upward until they run out of brick or the building collapses, whichever happens first.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Most Polite Person Ever

Dear darling Ed Winkleman is in Bishkek, representing Art from America. Or, as one boorish individual would have it, the Corrupting Evils of Capitalism.

Muratbek said the panel discussion began at 10:00 am and that Sergey was scheduled to speak first. Sergey made it very clear to a surprised Muratbek that this simply would not do. No one would attend a lecture so early in Russia, Sergey said. Muratbek charmingly, but firmly, noted that Bishkek was not Russia (a statement that appears to takes on much greater significance in this context the more I think about it). They went a few rounds, with Sergey showing little sign of relenting, making me somewhat uncomfortable (and I assumed also making Eva, a curator from Armenia with us, who was also scheduled to lecture, uncomfortable), so I announced that I would be very happy to go first. This seemed to settle the matter and should have let the awkward moment whither, had Sergey not continued (as if to justify this new order of speakers), "People always expect the most interesting lecture to be last."
And it gets worse. Pretty Lady defiantly and vociferously awards dear Edward the First Annual Pretty Lady Award for Flawless Courtesy under Extreme Duress.

Come to think of it, this incident redoubles her suspicion of persons who go around spouting the motto, "Be the Change You Want To See In the World." The wisest of sayings may be distorted beyond recognition, by both context and interpretation.

Two hours wasted, and two posts toasted

Pretty Lady apologizes for the fact that Blogger has gone completely insane this morning. Here, again, she will attempt to post her little movie review, which really is not worth all this trouble.

Recently viewed: "The Lake House," starring Keanu, that cutie, and Sandra, also very cute.

Verdict: Don't bother.

Eviscerating rant: People. The First Rule In High-School Creative Writing: SHOW, DON'T TELL.

How in the world was Pretty Lady supposed to feel interest or affection for these people, cute as they are, if they persist in communicating in such utterly banal ideas and language? The idea of mutual enamoration by correspondence is not a new one; however, in the notable historical cases of such, the inamoratae were gifted writers. They did not convey their grand ambitions and secret troubles in such phrases as "I like to help people" and "I like to build things." These sorts of phrases are only compelling when a shy but charismatically hunky fellow is confessing them face-to-face, in a manner that suggests inarticulable volumes, or a shy but adorable female sighs them out in a way which hints at infinite, repressed passions.

Or perhaps the problem was that they were simply very boring people.

The undertones of Complex Psychological History were not undertones; they were explicitly stated by the Psychologically Complex themselves, in words right out of the textbook. The plot devices were so klunky and labored that Pretty Lady had to grit her teeth when each successive 'klunk' fell heavily and gracelessly into place. The final tense, tearful scene left her utterly unmoved, though the combined cuteness of Keanu and Sandra was aesthetically irresistable.

Pretty Lady feels badly for the actors in this travesty; well she knows the agony of having to infuse the flattest of dialogue with the maximum of feeling. She feels badly for the directors, having become enthralled with a compelling plot device, and being incapable of perceiving or transcending the vast gulf between inspired writing and the mere semiotic indication of such.

Perhaps, indeed, we are all literary victims of the IM and email culture.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Welcoming Ethnic Chic

A very lovely associate of Pretty Lady's has opened her mind and her kitchen to the teeming masses. She begins with a quite scrumptious-sounding recipe for Mussels Mouclade.

Pretty Lady must go clean her vegetable-stuffed kitchen, now. Sigh.

My goodness

It seems as though Bill Maher forgot to take his lithium today:

I don't care if Mark Foley had been asking boys to describe their penises because I have some sad news for you: Your kid is so larded out on Cheetos and Yoo-hoo, he can't even see his penis. We live in a country where the ultimate consumer is an obese 16-year-old hooked up at one end to a Big Gulp and at the other to a PlayStation. So many of our kids today are fat drug addicts, it's almost as if Rush Limbaugh had had puppies.

Unfortunately, he has a bit of a point, there.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dominance and Submission -or- How to Acquire a Good Submissive Little Lady as your Friend and Helpmeet

La-la-la. Pretty Lady is Communing with the Higher Vibrations today. Her Arvo Pärt CD arrived, along with the Buddhist chanting and Japanese flute music, and she has ingested nothing for three days but the most spiritual of substances--cranberry/apple salad, steamed greens, marinated vegetables, and Yogi Tea. She highly recommends the Yogi Tea, either Classic India Spice or Egyptian Licorice. Additionally, she has attended daily vinyasa class, and stood for extended periods of time on her head. She is Fortified with Light.

So, in her state of purity and heightened consciousness, Pretty Lady has bravely decided to tackle the problem of Rebelliousness in Woman. Yes, she has transcended gender-ego considerations enough so that she is willing, nay, eager, to give you poor trampled gentlemen some clues as to how to get your woman to toe the line, come to heel, yes! stop her troublesome habits of whining, bitching, nagging, spending the hunting-trip budget on pointless things like slipcovers, and running off with libertines, leaving no note--and Submit. Submit to your superior male wisdom, your grace, your masterful direction, your Father Knows Best.

(Whee! This tea is wondrous. Ginger, cardamom, and clove. Pretty Lady swears that's all.)

Without further ado, then, Pretty Lady submits her Rules for Achieving Total Domination Over the Female.

Rule # 1: Do not be a complete and total jackass.

When Pretty Lady was an idealistic young girl, she made an idealistic little rule for her very own self. This private rule was: give everyone a chance. Do not be hasty in judging a young man for apparent nerdiness, foolishness, pimpliness, odiferousness, boorishness, albinism, or any other superficial, cosmetic characteristic. One may be easily deceived by such things; one may, as the Bishop's wife warned her, pass up a Diamond in the Rough.

So Pretty Lady earnestly set about going upon at least one date, or half a date, with anyone who asked. No matter how much he made her skin crawl, and set off subterranean alarm bells which screamed 'Fire! Fire! Run away!'

(Note: it was not the Bad Boys which set off these alarms. It was the computer science majors with chiselled profiles and Icelandic coloring. But more of this anon.)

Yes, Pretty Lady was true to her ideals for, well, nearly a couple of months. The date that influenced her to re-consider her philosophy was one with an older Young Republican, encountered in figure-drawing class, who took her to see 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.' On the way to the film this strapping young man forthrightly announced, 'I don't care about other people. I just want to make a lot of money, and everybody else can go to hell.'

During the film he precipitately attempted to fondle her armpit, while she shifted progressively farther toward the edge of her seat, clenched up tighter than a nun's--well, let's just say her body language was not forthcoming. This did not prevent the man from parking in a deserted Sonic Happy Eating Drive-thru and regarding her expectantly. She asked to be taken back to her dorm, now. He complied; she ran into some comfortably bohemian friends outside the elevator, and went with them immediately to see another movie, the perfidious little bitch.

Ah well.

In the course of her brief stint with the Young Republicans, and the Young Conservatives, who were far to the right of the Young Republicans, Pretty Lady noticed one thing. Whenever a Young Conservative got the hots for her, he immediately started ordering her around. 'Go and get me a coffee, cream and four sugars, McDonald's only.' 'Wouldja' go and get me a Coke, love? Fanks very much.'

Her bohemian friend from the Village suggested that the proper reply to this should be, "Get your own effing Coke, and I'm not your love." Pretty Lady did not say this. She meekly fetched Cokes and coffee, and ignored the gentlemen forthwith.

Because, gentlemen, your potential lady friend is not a secretary. She is a potential Queen. If you would like to be considered for the position of King, you are going to have to impress her with your kingly qualities. Ordering coffee does not cut it.

Rule #2: Do not be a complete and total fool.

There were others. Oh, yes there were. Others who slid under her guard with the notion that they were 'just showing her around Chicago,' others who wooed her with months of romantic correspondence before blowing into town to sweep her off her feet. Others who fall under the blanket category of 'clueless, callow puppies.'

They meant well. Really, they did. They were simply incapable of 1) listening, comprehending, and acting upon pertinent information, and 2) backing up their own unrealistic expectations of self.

For example: say you wish to show a lady around Chicago. Say that this lady has confessed to an interest in art, and thus the great museums of Chicago. Do you:

1) take her to the Art Institute of Chicago posthaste; or

2) take her to the Museum of Science and Industry, an institution geared mainly to hordes of screaming children, because it is free and you are employed as a desk clerk at a youth hostel, where you met the lady, and are really not supposed to be hitting on her at all, let alone the fact that you are operating on a shoestring budget?

Say that you picked, unaccountably, option #2. Say that, after several hours of your company, the lady confesses to wanting lunch. Do you:

1) take her to the nearest decent sandwich shop posthaste; or

2) say, "but we were going to have stuffed pizza for dinner, in four hours or so. We can split some nachos now, I guess."

Let us leave alone the advisability of following this lady back to her room at the youth hostel, angling for an invitation to spend the night, after she has contemptuously picked up the check at the stuffed pizza joint, in order to spare herself any guilt feelings over having cleaned you out and waltzed off into the sunset. Let us furthermore close the curtain upon your hopeful statement, "So, I'll see you at 9 tomorrow morning?" which only forewarns the lady that she needs to be up, dressed, down the street and on the train by 8 AM.

You see, boys, there is more to leadership than merely consulting one's own convenience. One must also consult, not only the convenience, but the requirements, temperament, and preferences of others, before coming to a firm decision. Otherwise, one finds oneself leading an army of one.

Rule #3: Know your own limits.

It is a fine gesture, indeed, to walk into the toniest antique jewelry store in San Francisco and confidently discuss the relative merits and suitabilities of the 3-carat diamond engagement rings on sale. The gesture is slightly marred, however, when your desired fianceé is not only forced to buy you dinner on her birthday, because you are beyond broke and got fired from your job at the pizza joint for being an idiot, but when you also have to ask her for a dollar to give to the homeless person who is breaking your heart by his existence. Possibly because you may be him, in another few years.

The Cardinal Rule, Above All Others: Pay attention, pay attention, pay attention.

Did I mention that you should learn to pay attention? The word 'listen' is so overused, that Pretty Lady feels she should be a bit more explicit. 'Paying attention' means, not only attending to the sense of another person's words, and integrating this sense with your plan of action; it means attending to circumstantial and non-verbal cues as well. If the lady has repeatedly mentioned that she is currently adhering to a no-meat, no-dairy diet (whatever you may think of this madness) it is inadvisable to walk into a restaurant and order meatballs and cheese toast to share. If the lady is sitting on the edge of her chair, arms wrapped around herself and knees pulled up to chin, this is probably not the time to attempt a passionate necking. Just a wee suggestion.

The Ultimate Madness: Treating a lady as you would treat a downtrodden little wifey-poo, ON THE FIRST DATE.

Pretty Lady did ultimately overcome her nameless sense of aversion and dread, enough to agree to throw a little community dinner party with the Icelandic computer science major. She invited a friend of hers; he invited fifteen of his. She suggested going grocery shopping together; he said, "we've just been shopping," so Pretty Lady stopped by the store and picked up the ingredients for stir-fry, herself. When she arrived, Pretty Lady made stir-fry, while the Icelandic computer science major talked geek talk with his fifteen friends, and bragged about what a good cook Pretty Lady was. And smart and gifted, of course, but that stir-fry, mmmm-mmm.

Halfway through the dinner party, Pretty Lady and her friend sneaked off to an audition for "Noises Off," and didn't come back.

A shining example of True Dominance:

This one comes to Pretty Lady via her Canadian friend, who has always been more of a hard-ass with men than Pretty Lady. Her Canadian friend is tall and domineering herself, and thus requires someone yet more statuesque, commanding and decisive to squire her around the planet. And this friend does get around the planet.

"My dream man," said this friend. "We were driving through Midtown and the car got a flat in front of the Astor Hotel. He leapt out of the car, and ushered me into the hotel bar for drinks, conferring with the doorman on the way in. 'What about the car?' I asked. 'It's taken care of,' he replied. After a couple of martinis, the doorman let us know that the car was good as new; we had dinner, and danced till 2."

Of course, a few years later he came out of the closet.

There is a certain cosmic irony in the fact that the gender which is most empathic, considerate, and tuned-in to the needs of others, by and large, is also the submissive one. We ladies, most of us, do not wish to be dominating, nagging, controlling bitches. We only grab the wheel when we can see that it is definitely headed toward a cliff. It is a very great pity that so many gentlemen are incapable of seeing the gaping abysses that lie just past the ends of their own noses.

The New Standards

It is well-known that Pretty Lady requires a high standard of courtesy in her home at all times. However, if you must insult her, or one another, let the bar of wit, elegance and creativity be at least as high as these.

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."

-- Winston Churchill

"A modest little person, with much to be modest about."

-- Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."

-- Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."

-- William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"

-- Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it."

-- Moses Hadas

"He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know."

-- Abraham Lincoln

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."

-- Groucho Marx

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."

-- Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."

-- Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend.... if you have one."

-- George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one."

-- Winston Churchill, in response

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here."

-- Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator."

-- John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."

-- Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others."

-- Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up."

-- Paul Keating

"He had delusions of adequacy."

-- Walter Kerr

"There's nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won't cure."

-- Jack E. Leonard

"He has the attention span of a lightning bolt."

-- Robert Redford

"They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge."

-- Thomas Brackett Reed

"He inherited some good instincts from his Quaker forebears, but by diligent hard work, he overcame them."

-- James Reston (about Richard Nixon)

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily."

-- Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him."

-- Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?"

-- Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."

-- Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."

-- Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination."

-- Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music."

-- Billy Wilder

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Remission of Sins

Or not:

But real expungement is becoming significantly harder to accomplish in the electronic age. Records once held only in paper form by law enforcement agencies, courts and corrections departments are now routinely digitized and sold in bulk to the private sector. Some commercial databases now contain more than 100 million criminal records. They are updated only fitfully, and expunged records now often turn up in criminal background checks ordered by employers and landlords.

Thomas A. Wilder, the district clerk for Tarrant County in Fort Worth, said he had received harsh criticism for refusing, on principle, to sell criminal history records in bulk.

“How the hell do I expunge anything,” Mr. Wilder asked, “if I sell tapes and disks all over the country?”

Pretty Lady always thought there were some ethical issues with dashing cousin Charles' corporate schemata. Indeed, when she discovered how he'd earned the unconscionable fortune which allowed him to indulge his passion for car-racing on weekends, she seriously considered having all of her junk mail permanently forwarded to his address. Seeing as how he was personally responsible for her, and fifty million other people, having received it in the first place.

Now it seems as though dear Charles has branched out into Exposing People's Pasts, and Pretty Lady throws up her hands. She understands that in a society with near-total breakdown of community, the need arises for a competent system of Checking Up On People.

But if every minor infraction one commits, while in a state of youthful angst or confusion, is to dog one's steps forever and ever amen, why don't we simply execute all convicted criminals instantly? Misdemeanor, felony, what's the difference? It would be quicker, and possibly more humane.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Caffeine Withdrawal Headache


Pretty Lady is a Temple

Or at least her body is, this week. Pending a lack of nervous collapse. We shall see.

Day 1 Activities, for the Irritating New-Age Diet Plan:

Breakfast: 1 yoga class. (Pretty Lady didn't actually eat her yoga class this morning. This being Day 1, she let them live. She is making no promises for later in the week, however.)

Ingested: 1 bottle spring water, 1 bottle Pomegranite-Blueberry juice, 1 pot 'Chakra' tea, with honey.

Shopped: for 40 lbs. fruit and vegetables, flax oil, Bragg's Amino Acids.

Attempted: to read "The Battle For God." Strangely unable to concentrate, perhaps due to retro-new-wave dance music being played rather too loudly at the Tea Lounge. Whatever is it with the Monday morning baristas and the Smiths? Once every now and then is fine, for laughs, but every Monday since June?

Lunch: Spinach and chard, steamed and chopped. Broccoli and snap peas, steamed. Mushrooms, sauteed. Doused with flax oil, crushed garlic, amino acids. Diced jicama with lime and cayenne.

Verdict: Not so much garlic next time. Braggs is too salty, despite being salt-free. Jicama was saving grace.

Attempted: surfing regular Internet reading. Strangely unable to concentrate on anything vaguely intellectual-seeming for more than a minute or so, perhaps due to unbearably pretentious art prose contained in links forwarded for Special Attention.

Planned activities:
scrubbing floors with toothbrush; chitchatting with client over tea; brushing cat; writing disjointed, inconsequential prose.

Supper, proposed: Artichoke, steamed; bell pepper and mushrooms, roasted; eggplant, grilled. Herb tea.

Stay tuned for hallucinatory updates.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Most Horrendous Story Ever

Pretty Lady's dear friend PhantomMut has, at last, set down the story of the fertility adventure, which only the telling makes it worth the experience.

...and I had my left nut drilled looking for reluctant sperm.

They did that under a local anesthetic. But unfortunately, this was truly a PhantomAnesthetic, in that it didn't work.

At all.

The. Most. Painful. Thing. Ever.

I couldn't take a dump for a day and a half because the necessary muscle contractions sent hot daggers of pain through everything even remotely connected to my testicle.

It's amazing what is remotely attached to a testicle.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Lethal distractions

Pretty Lady is having so much fun with this online music thing that she's in danger of Complete Ossification. Fortunately folks have been calling, and so she will be forced to leave her musical chair presently for Real World Activities.

She keeps remembering songs she hasn't heard or thought of in years, and searching for them, and adding them to her playlist. She apologizes if a great many of them are too sappy, dorky, lugubrious or just plain irritating to endure. You will note that clicking on the 'play' button is completely optional, and that if something comes along that annoys you, you are free to hit 'next track.' You are free to hit it as many times as you like, in fact.

Our recent civilized discussion on the Nature of Evil reminded her of that Morcheeba song, which if you wait or click long enough, will eventually come around:

Fear can stop you loving
Love can stop your fear
Fear can stop you loving...
But it's not always that clear.
Sappy. Dorky. Sentimental. But pithy. That last line encompasses the nature of Tragedy better than anything else she's ever encountered; it may be the swell of sentimental, synthesized violins that make it seem so, but hey, cheap thrills.

Anon (but I know who you are ;-)) writes:
When people get obtuse and philosophical in response to a simple, rational proposal, they are often feeling threatened. (Defensiveness is also, often, why people lie.) Whether they "ought" to feel threatened is pretty much irrelevant; you have to work with them where they are.

Some dastardly people use "facts" to bludgeon others into "agreeing" with them. They say stuff like, "If you don't understand that these facts inevitably lead to this conclusion, then you are stupid. Clearly, we've reached a sound conclusion."

If a person has someone pull that stunt on them a few times, they deny the existence of "facts" out of self-defense. Even smart people can get freaked out by dirty debate tactics, and at the first sign of disagreement, they start defending themselves rather than trying to solve a problem.

Maybe a question to ask in such a situation is, "if we all agree that something is true, can we then (and only then) treat it as a fact? For the time being, for the purposes of this discussion? So we can solve (X problem)?"

If you help someone regain their sense of control within a process, sometimes they feel safe enough to open up & participate rather than throwing up irritating roadblocks like "facts are relative."

When you're trying to figure things out with other people, often you also have to work, in a sense, with every jerk who ever insulted them, scared them, or taught them how to fight dirty.

Well, of course, darlin'. But the question is, do we want to figure things out? When it's so much more fun to fight dirty?

This is where, it seems to Pretty Lady, most of us go Right Off the Rails. We forget that we are actually seeking functional solutions to actual problems, some of the time. We forget that those solutions, in order to be functional, need to take into account all the variables. Those variables necessarily include the thoughts, feelings, requirements and Issues of other persons. This makes things difficult, to say the very, very least.

It's so much easier just to Win.

Pretty Lady recalls, back in the dark ages of junior high school, putting herself through some extra labor to be a Very Good Student. It wasn't that hard, but she exerted a bit--just so that no grade of B+ or lower darkened her Permanent Record. At the end of the year she was publically presented with a piece of paper, declaring her the Valedictorian, or some such rot.

She remembers very clearly looking at this piece of paper, and thinking, 'It's a piece of paper. I worked for this?' So Not Worth It. From that day forward, she discarded all concerns of Valedictorianism from her consciousness, and was a marginally happier person.

Sometimes, dears, we have to Win merely in order to prove to ourselves the axiom that Winning Isn't Everything. Some of us have to prove this over and over again--in fact, this process can become quite addictive. Pretty Lady, laissez-faire though she generally is, cannot help wanting to put an oar in this cycle; she asserts that not only is winning not everything, it is, in fact, Nothing. Nothing at all.

Because it's not love. Some of us forget how much fun Love really is--it's nice and all, but sticky, and difficult, and hard to come by. We'd rather press the Win button and get us some instant gratification.

Pretty Lady would like to do a bit of sappy cheerleading for Love. It's so fuzzy! And sweet! It's Good Company, it keeps us warm and fizzy on the inside, it's interesting and exciting and adventurous! It's roaring fireplaces and good wine! It's introspectively picking things through! It's Amazing Insights! It is Revelation and Genesis all rolled into one!

Not many people would disagree with Pretty Lady about this, on the surface at least. It's simply that so many people have approached us with Fake Love, in order to propagate a hidden agenda, that we don't believe in the real stuff anymore. They come at us precipitately with phrases like 'I just want to help' or 'I just want you to be happy' or 'these are the Facts.' Which may all be true. The trouble is, they're not terribly helpful if they're not loaded with a great whopping dose of the kind of Love that is patient, and unconditional, and open to the idea that being wrong is a possibility. And that being wrong isn't the end of the world.

UPDATE: Speaking of being wrong--it does seem as though, if you want to hear a particular song and keep clicking until it comes up, it NEVER EVER comes up. The system appears to be tuned to one's desirous vibes in order to thwart them.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Now, this is more like it...

Fashion-wise, at least.

Pretty Lady owns three of CarolAnn Wachter's hats, acquired craftily by barter, but she could always use three more. She is thrilled to note that dear CarolAnn has branched out into clothing design as well.

This, in Pretty Lady's opinion, is what classic High Fashion should be. Timeless. Elegant. Organic. Not trashy, tawdry, flimsy, disposable, made of cheap artificial materials, and likely to be hideously Out Of Style in less than three months. Pretty Lady intends to keep wearing her hats for at least the next ten years or so; she is confident that they will still be both chic and in good condition for at least this long.


Hmph. It is the decided opinion of both Pretty Lady and her scruffy friend Danonymous that one should avoid Joe's Pub in Manhattan, unless one is the sort of dull yuppie type with 1) more money than time to burn and 2) no sense of personal discrimination or taste. Which does not describe either one of us.

In fact, the Pundit would probably chime in on this one, too, as Pretty Lady recalls that the last time she was at Joe's was when she and the Pundit, following a Village Voice starred review, made a special trip to hear a band called 'Chocolate Genius.' Fifteen dollar cover, friends, and a two-drink minimum; a draft beer (not even a pint) is seven dollars a pop. Absurd.

'Chocolate Genius' was not. Pretty Lady and the Pundit were veritably disgusted. In between underwhelming sets, 'Chocolate Genius' had the temerity and unwisdom to whine about a negative review that they had recently received in Time Out NY. The Pundit later declared, "Time Out is providing a Public Service. I shall subscribe immediately."

In fact, it was at Pretty Lady's suggestion that not only did we walk out, we walked out the Long Way Around, proudly and flamboyantly, accidentally bumping into as many bland yuppies as possible on the way.

So, Pretty Lady and Danonymous are sorry to report that Nomi was at her best, possibly her lifetime best, on that July evening with the sun streaming through the south windows, when Pretty Lady caught her serendipitously on Spinning on Air. It was one of those Moments which will never be repeated.

The dear girl has some talent, of course--she has quite a nice note, which she hammers assiduously. Her fashion sense is something utterly foreign to Pretty Lady's experience. It might be termed 'ghetto gypsy.' The bandanna round her ankle, like a tourniquet over a spike heel, baffled the both of us. Rising above the bandanna were a pair of black polyester semi-toreador pants, a flamboyant metallic belt, a polyester vest over visible bra, many ghetto-jewelry chains, and an embroidered shrug. Odd. Distinctly.

Also distinctly odd was her manner of performing while crouching. She did not entirely sit, she did not entirely stand; she hunkered over in a sort of W, threw back her head, peered through her bangs, and waved her hands around.

We were given free CDs, at least. Dano donated his to the care package for Pretty Lady's sister. After listening to hers, Pretty Lady suspects that they're giving them away because they can't sell them.

Danonymous had this to say, wisely, in the Starbucks where we were driven at the end of the forty-five-minute set, due to the fact that if we had wanted to stay at Joe's any longer, we would have had to pay another cover charge and buy two more drinks: "Do not lower your standards."

This could be seen as blanket advice for any situation. Friends, do not lower your standards.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pretty Lady's Internet Radio

This is Too Much Fun To Be Allowed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Request for Recommendations

If anyone can recommend some relaxation music which is NOT cheesy, sappy, banal, unutterably boring, strangely annoying, or vaguely and subtly disturbing, in the manner of the Blair Witch Project soundtrack, please Chime In (so to speak) immediately. Pretty Lady has already gone for some Tibetan Chant and some Zen Garden flute; she's about George Winston'd out.

It is a Fine Line between setting an Atmosphere and not channelling the dentist's office.

UPDATE: There was this woman. A woman singer with one name. I think it began with an M or an N. She was featured on WNYC sometime last spring or summer; she was sort of 'postmodern hip-hop,' only not, it was sort of poetry, and husky, and intense, and beautiful. I cannot find it on the WNYC website, I cannot remember the date, the history on my browser has vanished because of the hard drive meltdown. Help.

UPDATE 2: It's Nomi! And she's playing at Joe's Pub tomorrow evening! Who wants to go?

Monday, October 09, 2006


Pretty Lady just went on a Plant-Buying Binge. She knows this is completely irrational, winter being on its way and all. But on the other hand, winter being on its way and all, the trees in the park will be leafless, and thus producing almost no O2 with which to recharge her lungs and spirit. So perhaps it was not so irrational to bring home two African violets (to replace the ones that withered from old age and overwatering), a cyclamen, a bromeliad (the house-sitter DID succeed in killing the old one), an orchid, two ivies (every bit of the habanera helix died, and no other can be found! Tragedy!), a low-light purple-leafed thing, a miniature fern, and a miniature rose.

(Looking at the list, now, it DOES seem a bit excessive. Particularly as most of the windowsills were already jammed. The Cereus alone threatens to start swallowing cats.)

Hmph. Enough of that.


Lovely k poses a Deep Question:

Now I'll take some time to contemplate whether that pure soul is separable from the bad behavior committed by the self-same owner of that soul. Is it still a perfect one? Or is it true, sometimes, that the damage is incorporated within it? If so - irreparably?
Now you've gone and done it. Gotten Pretty Lady going on the Problem of Evil. We could be here all day.

Pretty Lady, from time to time, is suspected of Pollyanna tendencies. Worse, she is frequently perceived as being a wishy-washy pushover, uncertain of her values, possibly even Soft On Crime. Definitely, she has been accused of being Friends with Bane, which ought to be enough to get her committed. She is not sure, truthfully, whether Bane has any friends; Pretty Lady merely considers herself an occasional Bane Appreciator.

Nevertheless, in support of Bane and millions like him (Bane needs no defense; Bane is defense personified), Pretty Lady will point, vaguely, toward the classic Star Trek episode of the Two Captain Kirks.

(She points thus vaguely because she has not actually viewed this immortal episode, not being a geek, a nerd, a latchkey kid, or having had access to Channel 39 as a preteen.) HOWEVER, she is given to understand, by many nerds of her intimate acquaintance, that the essence of the episode is that Captain Kirk somehow gets himself split, into the Good Kirk and the Bad Kirk. The Good Kirk is all Good, except that he is completely passive and namby-pamby. He sits around dithering like Hamlet while the Bad Kirk charges around doing Bad Things.

Somehow, Pretty Lady assumes, he gets himself put back together again, and the moral of the story is that the Good and the Bad are inextricably intertwined to make a whole person capable of acting in the world, yah duh yah duh. Deep, but not infinitely so.


Friends, you may find this hard to believe, but at times in her youth, Pretty Lady could be an Arrogant Asshole. She referred to her compatriots on this mortal coil, frequently and casually, as 'stupid.' She went swanning into PHL 610Q class, flounced down in the front row, and engaged the professor in confidential conversation, while disdainfully ignoring pipings-up from lesser swine. She agreed without blinking when an intimate of hers declared, 'Our group is the Intellectual Core of the U.'

It honestly never occurred to her that other people might find this sort of thing a wee bit annoying. She got her comeuppances, of course. These were many and varied, and form no part of the current line of questioning.

The things Pretty Lady has noticed about herself, over time, however, are: 1) her flaws come from the same source as her strengths, and 2) that each comeuppance has taught her a greater measure of compassion for others. By extension and extrapolation, she tends to assume that this is true for most of us. Every time we 'misbehave,' every sin we commit, is another chance to learn, another way for God to get His hooks into us and draw out our latent potential.

Which is why, much of the time, Pretty Lady doesn't mind hanging with a sinner. And which is why, whimsically, she will often state that we are all perfect in our imperfections, and that paradoxically, we are becoming more perfect every day.


HOWEVER. Pretty Lady must bifurcate this discussion by encouraging each and every one of you to read Scotty Peck's bastard book, 'People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil'. It is most disturbing, and when you have read it, you will nevermore think that Pretty Lady denies the existence of evil.

Dear Scotty writes:
'...it is necessary that we first draw the distinction between evil and ordinary sin. It is not their sins per se that characterize evil people, rather it is the subtlety and persistence and consistency of their sins. This is because the central defect of the evil is not the sin but the refusal to acknowledge it.'
Well! Nobody can accuse dear Bane of THAT.
We come now to a sort of paradox. I have said that evil people feel themselves to be perfect. At the same time, however, I think they have an unacknowledged sense of their own evil nature....The essential component of evil is not the absence of a sense of sin or imperfection but the unwillingness to tolerate that sense. At one and the same time, the evil are aware of their evil and desperately trying to avoid the awareness...Evil originates not in the absence of guilt but in the effort to escape it.
Escape one's conscience, perhaps? The little voice that says, 'maybe it isn't such a good idea to do that?' The voice of God in one's ear?

So perhaps, then, the source of evil is not sin, but the denial of God. It is an active, wilful refusal to accept the nature of God in oneself. A desire to operate independently of Him, if you will.


All this is mere speculation. As Pretty Lady's wise, wise sister just asked her, 'Does it matter? Does it matter if you diagnose people as 'evil,' or merely 'sinners'?"

Pretty Lady doesn't know. All she knows is that when one gets caught up in questions of 'who sinned what sin when,' things get very ugly very quickly. And since we are all sinners anyway, it seems rather pointless.

But when one recognizes a pattern, in persons or in governments, of repeatedly performing negative actions and then not owning up to them, of lies, silly little lies, over and over and over, that is when Pretty Lady says: watch out. She doesn't know what to do about it. Just watch out.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Last of the Roses

It is Lovely October, friends, and the rose bush has produced a decent proliferation, despite setback by squirrel. Since it is now too chilly to keep the fire-escape window open, Pretty Lady brought her roses in.

Pretty Lady posts thus blandly and prettily today, as a sort of antidote to the fact that she is feeling sick at her stomach. Ordinarily, she brushes aside spiteful and malicious innuendoes from strangers; she knows, from long and weary experience, that the vast majority of this is merely Projection.

But Pretty Lady, despite her averseness to Conflict and Confrontation of any kind, feels compelled today to state that malicious gossip, lies, slander, passive-aggressive innuendo, distortion of purported motives, and violation of the sacred trust of friendship are vile. Vile, vile, vile, vile, vile.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Assault on the eardrums

Warning: do not click on this link if you have ever disliked any of the music Pretty Lady has previously extolled. You are pretty much guaranteed to be Very Upset.

As she explained to dear Crom just now, Pretty Lady doesn't know just what, exactly, it is about music that effectively immerses the listener in the mindset of a raving lunatic, that so floats her boat. There is some deep truth to the old Glass Eye song, "The crooked places may be made straight, but the heart longs for the crooked place."

Perhaps it is Emotional Tourism; perhaps it is an overdeveloped capacity for empathy, perhaps it is a surfeit of adventurous past lifetimes. Pretty Lady's college roommate certainly found it disturbing when she was found, all too frequently, generating mosh pits whenever the Shoulders launched into their classic, 'Trashman Shoes,' a romantic little song about a besotted garbage collector who goes Too Far.

An art school friend of hers, however, actually introduced her to American Music Club's 'Engine' with the song, 'At my Mercy,' the pure poetry of the first two lines, "I touch your dress; your dress is blue. / I am a coin that fell into the sea" offset by the more directly sinister, "Now, stumbling around, I'm lost from view. /Do you know what became of me?"

Maybe it is a fliration with the mythos of the Beautiful Loser; maybe it is a harmless letting-off of steam. Perhaps it is a ritual acting out of the remembrance, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

At any rate, Pretty Lady certainly can't get Kantian about it.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A clarification

Pretty Lady has, in recent days, been subject to a great number of helpful, well-intentioned, serious comments urging her to find a mate and reproduce. She understands that these friends of hers have the best of intentions. She knows that they not only have Pretty Lady's interests at heart, but the interests of Larger Civilization at heart as well. She is unutterably honored to know that they connect these two causes as having mutual relevance. She would only ask these dear friends of hers one question: what would you like her to say in response?

Would you like her to say, "Yes, I know that marriage and family is the most fulfilling thing a woman can aspire to. I have known this for decades. I have been searching assiduously for a proper mate during all that time."

"I have had my heart broken many times; nay, I have seen my heart shattered into smithereens by indifferent geniuses who then went on to take a wife within a year, and father a daughter named Mars Valentine, who loves to dance jazz improvisation?"

"I have renounced the Perfect Man with regretful, quiet integrity, knowing that he could offer me everything the material world could provide, only lacking the resonant assent of my unharnessable, wayward heart?"

"I have seen my love and livelihood casually wasted by the love of my life, who loved me the best he could, being only too irremediably damaged to love committedly or well? I have seen my carefully constructed and intimately nurtured dreams ground to dust under an impotent heel?"

"I have had to resign myself to the possibility that with all my utmost endeavors, all my virtues, wisdom, creativity and humor, yet there may be no way to control my own fate. That it may already be Too Late; that it was not in the stars that Pretty Lady would ever find True Love and settle down. I know my own nature too well to think that Settling would ever be a possibility; I would far, far rather remain eternally alone than to join my fortunes with a mate whom I could not sincerely respect, adore, rely upon, and engage in a lifelong conversation. I have had to Let Go and Trust God, since there seem to be precious few other things in this life which are worthy of my trust."

Would you like to hear Pretty Lady say these things? Or would you rather respect her reticence, her stoic demeanor, her privacy, her decision to face reality with faith, optimism and humor?

Really, Pretty Lady would like to know.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Guest Columnist

Pretty Lady has had a frantically busy day, and although she has many inchoate notions about scintillating things like Dominance and Submission floating round in her brain, she has decided to take the evening off, and lounge around downtown with her new mystery novel instead. Most fortunately, when she checked her comments, she discovered to her delight that Terrymum had written her day's column for her. Since Terrymum posted it halfway down the page, she is bringing it up here in case anybody missed it.


Many people who know me consider me to be a bit overly optimistic, even a Polly Anna at times. I have been accused of being naive and wearing "rose colored glasses." But no one has ever really thought I was stupid. So, it is my hope that the reader may accept that while I might have an unusually hopeful personality, they might give credence to my suggestions simply because the tests show my IQ number is above my hat size.

I read a lot of things in a day's time. News articles, blogs, letters, e-mail, etc. And I hear a lot of things. My job puts me in the center of politics on a daily basis. And has for close to 20 years. So I have a bird's eye view of what is going on in certain circles and at a fairly high level.

Over time, I have seen a trend that makes even my rose colored outlook dim. In fact, I have to fight being depressed about it some days. It is not the shift of power from one party to another. It is not the increase in technology that helps us be more efficient while it diminishes personal human contact. It is not even the embracing of immorality that seems to be approaching Roman Empire standards.

Rather, it is what I perceive as an increased lack of respect we have for one another. I think there is a growing tendency to treat other human beings, especially those whom we have never met in person, as objects (usually of scorn and often of hate), unworthy of dignity or common civil treatment.

I see this in all areas of my life. It is exhibited by the sarcasm used to diminish and dismiss not only the ideas of anyone with whom we disagree, but also their very right to breath air. The hate and venom regularly spewed is applauded and celebrated. People act mean, and they are honored and rewarded. Bullies have become our nation's heroes. Pundits and power brokers say hurtful things about others, and we admire and try to emulate them. We see enemies all around us, and while we object to the horrible treatment of those we pity or identify with, we cannot see how our own behavior contributes to an atmosphere of hate whenever we attack the person or personality of those we fear or with whom we disagree. We hate it when we are treated badly, but we can and do find ways to justify treating others badly.

The idea that all human beings are Children of God (by whatever name you call that deity) with a spark of divinity is laughed at and ridiculed as juvenile or outmoded. It is not hip or cool or wise to show a vulnerable caring side; you are seen as a chump, target, wimp. While people say they think Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a wonderful person, I see far fewer people trying to be more like her, and a lot more trying to be like Howard Dean or Ann Coulter.

Let me be clear. I am not exempting myself from this criticism. I too enjoy biting humor. I am related to several people whose sharp wit is a regular source of personal enjoyment. However, most of these dear friends spend just as much time making fun of themselves as they do pointing a bright light at the foibles of other people. That seems to even out the spite to a point where they seem open to the idea that they are just as flawed and fallible as the people they are teasing or testing. And when I am personally attacked (or my friends or family are) it is really tempting to strike back in kind, even if such a defense will not change anything or protect anyone.

I am afraid that in losing our ability to respect people with whom we do not agree, even while we poke holes in their logic or arguments or behavior, or even defend ourselves from their attacks on us, we are losing our souls.

We as a nation once held some claim to being a moral country. We had high ideals and we tried to set a good example. While we made lots of mistakes, and there have always been (and always will be) individuals who are not moral in anything they do or say, those high ideals could often best be seen in the way we as a nation and as individuals treated each other and those around us. Civility and kindness were celebrated and taught. Good manners were required in order to survive and no one was socially rewarded for being a bully or being mean. We were encouraged to build things up, not tear them down. And that included the lives and egos of other people.

Goodness and kindness are not just words. They are not character traits for the weak or the stupid. It takes strength of character and firm resolve to stand up to the crowds and do what is right. But in the end, the people who attempt that feat will not only be remembered as leaders and important. They will leave a legacy that lasts and grows.

The source of all that is evil revels in hate and hateful behaviors. I hope that the pit bull attack methods and attitude that seem to be growing stronger every day are soon seen for the dangers I believe them to be. Because otherwise I fear that the celebration and increase of hate, evidenced by the meanness now present in all facets of our life, will end in the destruction of not only America, but the whole world.

We do not treat others decently because they have earned it or deserve it. We treat them decently because "as you treat others, so shall you be treated."

Also, dear Thims chimed in with a comment that deserves attention:

I will simply note that this notion that the Holy Spirit is always available resonates deeply with me. The problem is that we are not always available, being distracted by our various toils.

Flaky or not, denial of the holy spirit is another level of damned, according to authorities you may not recognize...

In any case, I salute your attempt to bring compassion to this disourse. And to those that would scoff, it is more than simply obvious that some worthless jihadi would love to sever our heads. Thanks for your trivial input. We're talking about what we should do, not those clueless screwball Jihadi assholes.

How thrilled and deeply honored Pretty Lady feels, to have inspired such words.