Friday, December 30, 2005

Friday Beefcake - and a Happy New Year to you, too! Posted by Picasa

Elevations, Plans...Whatever - there are 4 of them.... Posted by Picasa

The Foursomes

Okey-dokey.....I'm playing this meme before it plays me.

Four jobs you've had in your life: academic research editor, medical data cruncher, financial database manager (and yeah, I wrote code), mortgage loan QA/QC

Four movies you could watch over and over: The Palm Beach Story; McCabe & Mrs. Miller; The Band Wagon; Mulholland Drive

Four places you've lived: Portland, OR, Chicago, IL, Cambridge, MA; Venice, CA

Four TV shows you love to watch: [Proviso: I hardly can ever watch anything uninterrupted right now - had to watch the first 3 seasons of Alias on DVD, for example. With that in mind, these are skewed to stuff that is broadcast repeatedly] - The Daily Show/Colbert Report; [adult swim] - ATHF, Venture Bros.; Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann; The Buffy/Angel universe (almost disappeared, but I am trying to catch Bones and Veronica Mars).

Four places you've been on vacation: Boston, MA, San Francisco, CA, Paris (the one in France); Victoria, BC

Four websites you visit daily: Eschaton, Digby, Steve Clemons (TWN), TBogg - merely scratching the surface...

Four of your favorite foods: pasta w/ white clam sauce; chopped liver; goat cheese; roasted potatoes

Four places you'd rather be: Paris (see above), Venice Beach, Bed (not necessarily alone), A Movie

Out of the Frying Pan.... Posted by Picasa

That 2005 Show

I just couldn't take it anymore, so just short of two weeks ago I signed up for a TimesSelect trial - over the holidays, mind you - and Paul Krugman just gave me a nice end-of-year gift with his column this morning. No revelations to anyone who reads this blog, just a marvel of compression that, within his column-inch allowance, he hits:

  • Social Security reform
  • Permanent Tax Cuts
  • Public Safety/Hurricane Katrina
  • "Brownie" and agency cronyism
  • Jack Abramoff
  • Dick Cheney's "gravitas"
  • Howard Dean - "flaky and unsound" or prescient?
  • After Downing Street
  • Where Are They Now? - Allawi & Chalabi....
  • Staying the Course - what Course?
  • L'Affaire Plame

And he concludes with these points:

"A year ago, we didn't know that Mr. Bush was lying, or at least being deceptive, when he said at an April 2004 event promoting the Patriot Act that "a wiretap requires a court order. ...When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

A year ago, most Americans thought Mr. Bush was honest.

A year ago, we didn't know for sure that almost all the politicians and pundits who thundered, during the Lewinsky affair, that even the president isn't above the law have changed their minds. But now we know when it comes to presidents who break the law, it's O.K. if you're a Republican. "

I said to my Dad about a year ago that this one was going to be ugly, but I had no idea how that was going to play out - far beyond my expectations, anyway. If you want to see a much richer chronicle, go to digby (and, hey, fork out, too - it's deserved). As the stakes increase - as we approach the mid-term elections next November, as the various scandals (the ones we already know about...) come to trial, as the whole Bushie fata morgana falls apart - there's going to be some awful and vicious denial, and that's not going to be pretty, either. 2005 is Dead, long live 2006! Whoa!

However, in the Dept. of Silver Linings, this was the year I started this rag, and found readers beyond any expectation. That any of them keep coming back (especially when I promise, with all good will, posts that don't materialize) is an open-handed gift and miracle and I am grateful beyond the known limits of grateful. I expect to machete my way into a new gig in 2006, and to be much more entertaining, so I hope they will stick around for the fun, the thrills.

Happy New Year to all of you!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Light for a Dark World Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 23, 2005

Promises, Promises

I know, I know - RatBoy seems to be stuck in the world of cakes (of one sort or the other), but this is only because of the extra work pressure holiday anxieties can create in the very old. I've been wiped. There will be more substantive entries this weekend; I have been paying attention to the NSA story (and who knows - they may have been paying attention to me...) and much else. We are not so shallow around here...Cheers!

Friday Beefcake - Holiday Edition Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 19, 2005

Heroic Babka! Pre-Glazing! Posted by Picasa

Snow, Ice & Babka

Just seasonal luck that we get snow and ice here to fuck up my babka-shipping plans. The baking went fine (see pic above) and early taste tests are highly positive; now I have to confront UPS Tuesday morning with samples and try to figure out the best way to ship them to the RoD Blogger Bake-Off jury (there are so many posts there on the subject, I can't choose just one). Poor thing has already been through trials that would test the strongest pastry - not least the hair-raising trip back home Sunday evening on snow-slick roads (they don't know from salt here...), my sis driving, and the need to navigate, cajole and placate her in order to arrive in one piece. Babka and I succeeded, and that's a real holiday miracle.

At this point, even if I miss the shipping deadline, I'll be content - treat will arrive, eventually, and I hope it gives pleasure to these people who have become friends over the last months.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Muffin Attack - by Tristan Bronkhorst Posted by Picasa

The Muffin Man

Now that I am really committed to this Bake-Off in Bedlam, a PayPal button has been added to the sidebar. As the judging panel has expanded, my purse has shrunk, so yeah, head hanging, I could probably use some help with shipping costs....
But if you just like the ink-stained wretch content, or the graphics, or the porn, don't let that stop you - pony on up! Keeping old people alive doesn't pay that well, let me assure you.

Friday Beef Blogging - LATE EDITION Posted by Picasa

"I'm in the Milk and the Milk's in Me!" Posted by Picasa

Dough Boys (and Girls)

Please take time, for those of you unfamiliar with the splendid Republic of Dogs, to run over and check out the Blogger Bake-Off the Whole Sick Crew there (and I count myself proudly in their number) have devised for the Holidays. I will be making babka for the occasion (and will share pics of product Sunday evening), so be ready to feast your eyes, and to envy the judges!

Even if I don't make top dog (or top gun, or whatever...) in this one, if the reviews are good I will post my recipe. I and former roomies can testify to the comforts and virtues of good stuff baking inside when the world is frozen outside. Anticipation, friends!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Friday Beef Blogging - Early Edition Posted by Picasa

Susan in NOLA - with a Foundling Posted by Picasa

Gyppy Tummy

That's what they call a lethal GI infection in Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time. Evasive and maybe charming, until the victim dies, not long after. That's when it hits you - people you come to like wiped out, people you don't much care for surviving and thriving; so like Life! Powell takes 40-50 years to chronicle his society, its survivors and its corruptions, aesthetic and political. I am thinking we are at the point of vomiting up some bad tuck from the last 25 years, right now.

Take New Orleans, fallen off the radar now by offical pronouncement. My friend Susan is back there again (see pic above), part of an animal rescue mission. This is not sentimentality; men and women overcome by the hurricane and floods have died, but their pets may have survived, or at best been separated from their families who escaped and survived elsewhere. Regardless of the state of these animals prior to this disaster - well or ill-cared for - it strikes me that there is a conservative expectation that their owners and masters will - and should - go feral long before their dogs and cats will. That is, every man for himself, and God will sort it out, if He does not cut you down first, and if that happens you will have deserved it, just as your lost city did.

That's a Declaration of Anarchy - Free Market, of course - and if you think you are safe from that policy in Missouri (New Madrid fault), Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles (major earthquake or volcanic zones, all) - well, you're dreamers under this government. Talk to Oklahoma City about homegrown bombers - not al-Qaeda, but our own native nutcases who hate the gummint, the captains of industry and business (Jews, or, now, possibly Arabs - certainly George Soros), the hordes of Beaners on our southern border (without whom Lou Dobbs would not be able to enjoy his salad), or the stealthy Canucks up North - look just like us, talk just like us, but they are NOT us....fuck, we've got enemies on all fucking sides! Greatest country in the world, in History, and we are hoping attitude will save us.

Is it so hard to recall where we were 5 years ago? Federal budget surplus, anyone? Dodged some Y2K terrorist attacks, anyone? Panels warning more, but, what the fuck, they were Wets, at best (to borrow a Thatcherite term); tax cuts and deficits are now "our due" in The Cheney's immortal words. Fuck fiscal responsibility. The apparatus of government is being - and should be - eviscerated - what are you talking about "Common Good" for, you godless, un-Christian, income-redistributive traitor! C'mon, Atlas, Shrug!

I have a buddy who married a very bright and attractive woman. She had a lot of issues - passionately hated her family, self-esteem problems in spite of high achievement - but the thing that bugged me the most about her (as I met her at the same time as my buddy) was her romance with Ayn Rand. I couldn't figure out why she didn't see through that simple didactic gimme agenda, but I guess she did, at the end, because after my buddy built her up for 7 years, she left him. He'd made her strong enough to do what she had wanted to do all along. Nothng like empowerment, I guess, but beware of the therapeutic relationship.

There's a sense in which the Dem leadership - and far too many consultants, and journalists, and ordinary independent voters for that matter - still talk about the radical (e.g., dominant) wing of the Repubs as if they were people to be reasoned with. They are not. Like my buddy, they will marry you and suck you dry and leave you. Selfishness is a Virtue, and you are a Loser, my friend.
Winners, after all, don't have friends - only clients, only suckers.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Friday Beef Blogging - for my RoD cohort... Posted by Picasa

The Fantod - courtesy of Edward G Posted by Picasa

So, What's the Story Jerry, Part Deux

The Next Day (10/29) -
[There really is a point to this saga, I promise, so please bear with.]

Readers familiar with RatBoy - alolm will know that I don't get much time off, and I had made special arrangements for October 29th to have a free overnight to attend a semi-annual party thrown by a lawyer buddy. Last one was in the Cinco de Mayo spring bash, and for that I hadn't been able to negotiate sofa-flopping time, so this one was a real treat. And we were getting returned that hour we lost for Daylight Time (which I always accept as a birthday gift, anyway). Wee hours would be our due, and I had partied with these people, and they are eaters, drinkers, most of all talkers.

Also smart and funny. Bunch of labor lawyers (evenly split between employer/employee business), radio media, bohos, and the likes of me. Costumes were optional (best I could come up with was a bowling shirt with discrete howling/flaming skulls) - our host was in elegant black tattered robes and leather-patched wings (and a matching tail), his wife in spectacular spider-web hose and evil-french-maid's get-up. There was a harlequin with a mane of red hair (touting Green Day's American Idiot, which she had been listening to all the way up from Eugene) The most frightening couple came as Lyndie Englund and her Man-on-a-Leash, complete with loincloth (over a thong) and a keffiya - which would have been truly disturbing if he hadn't been having such fun showing off his good body. There were also Joey Ramone wigs, and two splendidly over-fed and over-loved doggies. And an electric bat suspended and flapping over the cooktop.

But there was nothing particularly madcap about the conversation. Everyone was trying to get their bearings around the Fitz/Libby indictments, what kind of response Dems would make (especially their temperament to make any concerted response at all). Old shit in Left Blogistan, but being able to spend an evening with it, with real warm bodies and hot minds, just reinforced the wonder and confusion from the day before, talking to my old friends.

What none of us knew that Saturday night was that Harry Reid was going to throw the Senate into closed session on the following Tuesday (11/1) to force the issues of distorted intelligence and blocked investigation of those distortions, nor how powerful that can-opener would be. Here was a house well-populated by pretty prosperous, well-connected and serious minded men and women, and (heads up, Sen. Wyden, Rep Wu, etc.!) feeling adrift. My friends Jeff and Susan went out of their way to tell me how much they admire Gavin Newsome, and they only live close to SF - he still bears their standard.

They act on it, too - but that's the Next Part.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

DLG - from Jeff & Susan country... Posted by Picasa

So, What's the Story, Jerry - Part 1

Now it's, like, what? 4-5 weeks? OK, buddy....

The birthday I acknowledged this year, below, has kept dishing out presents beyond my capacity to open them fast enough and appreciate them (for good or ill) at leisure. But here's a stab at it.

10/28, I have lunch with one of my oldest friends - the kind you can miss being face-to-face with for 10 years and it's still like you saw one another just last week. An illusion, of course, but enormously satisfying. So, he says over lunch, "I don't know what your politics are [he could make a good guess, so he's being polite..], but I can't figure out why anyone voted for this dumb fuck [meaning W]." Understand, the speaker here has made a fortune in financial management and has certainly benefitted from current tax policies, at the very least, and he's still appalled. We have a lot more to run over, so I shrug and say, "Beats the shit outta me," which is quite true, and we move on to his parents (who are like my second family) and his wife (who we will meet later in the afternoon), and his kids.

It's a fine lunch - Jeff taunts the waiter to feed me big (it was always his contention that I could outeat anyone in a sitting - god, I'm glad I haven't made that a habit!). I am, even now, thinking about how I want to attempt the polenta with mascarpone and roasted fennel and red peppers - yum. And it was a beautiful fall day here to walk a fair amount of that off. We did, with a lot of quizzing about how our various aging parents were doing, and pointing out Portland sights, and what it was like to lose my gay pussy. My own family would never ask such a question (not that there's anything wrong with it...), but that's why I needed a second.

We stroll on to a rendezvous with Susan, an art dealer (and she'll have other roles to play, just wait) and Jeff's wife. Last time I saw her was in LA after Thanksgiving at her brother's house, saying goodnight as I took my bike for a walk down the boardwalk, totally shitfaced from her brother's weed-laced stuffing. A very elegant dinner that was, and I think she was wise enough to stay a qualified designated driver, or else I wouldn't be writing this.

They had a dinner engagement with a Nike exec friend, so we had to say goodbye, but I was buoyed by the continuities, on the same day the Libby indictments came down.

Big stuff the Next Day - and next installment, or I'll never get anything posted.

[Just an aside, but my readership should be ashamed to flee from ballet posts - philistines! :-)]

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Too Much Is Never Enough Posted by Picasa

A Muse of Blue Flame

Sometimes a dancer is more than a dancer - think Pavlova, think Nijinsky, or Astaire, or Baryshnikov, and then think Farrell. I was hardly more than a baby when I saw my first dancing - probably at the movies, but I'm not sure. I am absolutely sure, though, that once knowing that you could move your body to music, that knowledge transformed both the music and the body; the body was made to move, and the music you then heard from head to toe and from the inside out.

Of the five dancers I name above, only two did I see in live performance - Baryshnikov and Farrell. Both I saw with the NYCB, in their Chicago seasons in my late youth, when George Balanchine was still alive and that company was in its late prime. The company was full of tremendous dancers (and Baryshnikov was with them to add to his already prodigious vocabulary), but it was seeing Farrell that was life-changing. The ballet was Agon, Stravinsky from the '50's and written for (and with) Balanchine. It was not made on her, originally, but I had never seen anything like it. Her partner (as in the picture above) was Peter Martins, and for all the music's and the choreography's spikiness - listen to a recording, if you can fucking find one anymore - it is a reiteration of very old courtly dances. Arlene Croce once wrote something to the effect that ballet exalts manners and civilization, but it also contains the unspeakable; Agon is like that. What I saw Farrell do was combine them, in the same moment, in the great pas-de-deux - conquest and submission, and mercy, too.

I saw her in other things - dances that had been made on her, notably two performances of Vienna Waltzes in which she carries the final act (to Richard Strauss's suite from Der Rosenkavalier), for much of it almost alone on stage, from isolation, though fleeting partnerships, to a kind of self-immolation exit the like of which I have never seen. The exit ushers in the final luscious tableau of swirling partners, but it's a renunciation (not unlike the opera's Marschallin) that you remember - and the suggestion of much darker things. To do all that is being more than a dancer. I don't even know what the word for it is.

In Venice, California, I used to sit house for some friends - looked after their cats, get a respite - and I got to know their neighbors (e.g., look down from above on the hair-transplant plugs of the guy who lived beneath them). As it happened, the woman next door started talking about a dance program and she was from Cincinnati and had known Suzy as a kid - girlfriends. Knocked me off my feet, and I told about what I had seen (with more gush), and not too long after that she brought me back, from a trip East, an autograph and a photo of her and Suzanne. A treasure, and lost now, but, whoa, while I had it, it was gold - it still is, and it was a kindness of Suzanne Farrell (who is famously shy about that sort of thing) to acknowledge a fan.

I suppose that's what has set Farrell apart in the line of great dancers I listed - all-out commitment, all-out performance, combined with a personal reticence that doesn't take to the runway, that shuns stardom. Muses don't bestow their gifts lightly - which is why poets were always appealing to them, praying to them, to show up this time. She's got a part-time company out of DC, she's coaching and staging with companies all over the world, but that unity of personal performance and the works she inspired and made new - those are gone. Yeats nailed the eternal transience of the art with:

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Where does it hurt, now? Posted by Picasa

Tristes Tropiques

Too many days of this last week have been like the pic above - for me, for my patient. Nightmares for her, broken sleep for me (plus some personal puffy-face torture on account of a tooth). We shall both be OK, but go read Joyce Maynard's piece on rescuing animals in NOLA - there will be more to come, and her published reporting is just a vestige of the full story she has to tell. I'll have more on that later this weekend.

Does make one long for a Brazil of the mind, however.