Archive for January, 2007|Monthly archive page

the blame game

In lisa fitterman on 01/29/2007 at 3:28 pm

Recently my husband and I got up at the ungodly hour of 4am to catch an early flight to New York. We were preternaturally calm, perhaps because we were sleepwalking. But we were all ready when the taxi came to collect us 45minutes later.
It was an uneventful ride to the airport. We didn’t even chat, because he was watching an episode of 24 on his new iPod. “Men and their toys” he said apologetically. At the airport, the cabbie pulled in to let us off, at which point iPod guy turned to me, ashen faced, and said: “We don’t have our suit bag.” Silence.
“You’re joking, right?” I replied, for he always lies like that.
“No, I mean it. Did you bring down the suit bag? I didn’t.”
“What do you mean, you didn’t bring down the suit bag?” I hissed. “All our stuff is in that suit bag. Your suit. Your shoes. My skirt.”
You stupid jerk, I was thinking. you’re always supposed to do things like bring down luggage. This is your fault and now, we’re going to miss our flight, miss the fabulous event we’re supposed to be at tonight and miss NewYork altogether Our life is over.
I didn’t say that out loud, though. He already knew how I felt. Besides, I was travelling on his dime.
The entire episode showcased what I grudgingly admit is an unpleasant side to my personality, namedly, that I have a hard time accepting responsibility, partial or otherwise. I know this because other people have pointed it out- repeatedly. They say I can be unfair arrogant and selfish, even if I insist that blaming the other guy is really self preservation.
Then again, we all tend to lie to ourselves and other people about our failings, don’t we? Or, at least, gloss over them as if they don’t mean a thing. If I cheat on my taxes, for example, doesn’t everyone? Not- I repeat not- that I’d ever cheat on my taxes. But it’s hard to look in a mirror and see a cheater, a liar, gossip or worse, a martyr who thinks she’s always right, staring back at you. Unless, of course, she’s always right.
But enough about me, what do you think of me? Psychologists posit that the best way to assess ourselves- our true selves- is through the eyes of others. They say that flawed and inflated self-assessment is as rife as, well, faults, and that the least competent people systematically misjudge and overestimate their abilities, which , in turn, can adversely affect key things their lives such as health, relationship and finances.
As David Myers, a professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, who wrote the textbook Social Psychology, told the Seattle Times, “Most of us have agood reputation with ourselves.” True enough, if you consider the classic study from 1977, when 94 percent of American college professors rated themselves as above average, even though only 50 per cent could be in the top half in the first place. But that could also be characterized as willful ignorance.
On which count I plead guilty, your honour.
Oh, and that missing suit bag? We hightailed it home in the taxi, picked it up, returned to the airport and made it through with minutes to spare.
Later, while strolling along Broadway, I noted how proud I was I hadn’t said a thing about him forgetting our clothes at home. He just smiled and shook his head.

Lisa F.

Lisa Fitterman is a columnist on the edge for the Montreal Gazette. She writes about sex, relationships, housecleaning and anything else that is offbeat, off kilter or simply catches her eye. Vancouver born and bred, she began her career in 1983 at the Vancouver Sun as a general assignment reporter and quickly progressed to covering politics because no one else in the newsroom wanted to move to Victoria. Over the past 20 years or so, she has also lived in Edmonton, Boston and, of course, Montreal, where she has settled down with He Who Must Obey. Her stories have run the gamut, from grisly murder trials to provincial elections and sports coverage. She has won a National Newspaper Award for sports writing.

Stanford Suicide or…?

In Uncategorized on 01/27/2007 at 5:59 pm

Honor Student found in Trunk of Car

Academic stress exacts its toll on many, that we know. God knows high expectations unrealized even here at McGill arguably is responsible for countless damaged lives, but to the extent of taking one’s own life? No stats are easily available and generalizing about suicide rates amongst 20-25 yr old can be easily misleading… but when examining the record of suicides on campuses a number of interesting patterns emerge: In the hallowed halls of pressure ridden Ivy League MIT, only one student, Michael P. Manley ’02, committed suicide in his first year at MIT since at least 1964, and women are far less likely to commit suicide as compared to men.

National statistics for U.S show that women are more likely to attempt suicide and men are more likely to succeed. Out of the 47 MIT students who committed suicide, only four were females. These reports takes into account the gradually increasing female population on campus over time which reveals that females at MIT commit suicide at a rate of 6.3 per 100,000 female student years. This compares to a rate of male student suicides at MIT of 16.6 per 100,000 male student years.

It has been hypothesized that the overall suicide rate has decreased precisely because women are less likely to commit suicide and their population has grown on campus. However, another area of comparison is between graduate and undergraduate suicide rates. Studies show while it may seem likely that graduate students are more likely to take their own lives because of increased workload stress over time, this is not consistent with MIT statistics. The graduate student suicide rate is 8.4 per 100,000 graduate student years while the undergraduate rate is 21.2 per 100,000 undergraduate student years.

Stanford doctoral student May Zhou was updating her résumé and on track to a brilliant career. So her grief-stricken family and friends say they are floored by the idea that she would take her own life. But one day after the body of the missing electrical engineering student was discovered in the trunk of her car, authorities were not backing away from their suggestion that Zhou, 23, may have committed suicide. A two-hour autopsy conducted Friday identified “no outward signs of foul play,” according to police in Santa Rosa, where Zhou’s car was found Thursday in a junior college parking lot.

Authorities offered no further details, saying it could take a month to complete lab tests and make a final ruling on whether Zhou’s death was suicide. And there was no explanation of how Zhou’s car ended up 90 miles north of Stanford.

The news baffled the woman’s father and classmates.

“No, no, no. No issues. She was strong,” said her father, Yitong Zhou, who planned to help her revise her résumé the weekend she disappeared. “If you’re thinking about your résumé, why would you be thinking about suicide? I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it.” Complaining that police seemed too quick to reach a conclusion about his daughter’s death, Zhou said he had only recently learned that she conducted some online banking transactions shortly before she left her apartment Saturday. The transactions were “unusual,” he said, because of the amount. He declined to elaborate.

Mengyao “May” Zhou was last seen by her roommate at Stanford on Saturday, before she left their graduate-student housing complex to run errands. The roommate, who has not made any public statements this week, reported Zhou missing to police after she had not come home by Sunday. Police said it appeared Zhou’s car had been sitting in a parking lot at Santa Rosa Junior College for several days before it was found. Yitong Zhou said he had been busy with work when his daughter called last week about modifying her résumé to apply for a summer internship, but they agreed to work on it over the weekend.

Zhou had been recruited to Stanford from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; In high school, her SAT scores had been perfect. And she had already cleared one big hurdle: passing her qualifying exams. She did well and reportedly had been approached by several researchers interested in having her join their team. Having secured three patents during her three summer internships at Qualcomm, “she was the kind of student who could work independently — progressing and then taking off,” he said.

Not to second guess, but to us it just seems too convoluted a method to take your own life, by locking yourself into the trunk of your own car. She left no suicide note and had every reason to expect a successful career. No longer. :((

full story here


time for anti-bacterial wallets…

In Uncategorized on 01/25/2007 at 3:49 pm

Germs fester on Paper Money

Yea great. Unless you were born yesterday, you knew of course that pretty much all available paper currency at least those circulating in North America has a dusting of cocaine on its surface, but public health officials now say you should be more concerned about germs and viruses that might be passed along with your change.

Most paper money carries traces of cocaine, recent studies show, but that says more about the potential for cash to spread disease than it does about the prevalence of drug use, officials say. On Jan. 10, researchers at City University in Dublin, Ireland, revealed that 100 per cent of the banknotes in their study carried trace amounts of cocaine. Last month, a study suggested 94 per cent of banknotes in Spain carried traces of the fine white powder. And dozens of studies in the past decade have shown that a majority of bills in various U.S. cities tested positive for traces of cocaine.

While minute amounts of cocaine might be harmless, bacteria, viruses and spores clinging to banknotes passed from hand to hand might not be. “Cocaine is not a living organism, while germs are, although most become inoffensive after a certain amount of time” on an inanimate object like a bank-note, said Blaise Lefebvre, a spokesperson for Montreal’s public health department. “You would also have to pick up a significant quantity (of bacterium or virus) for it to cause illness, although with the Norwalk virus, you only need a little and this is why gastroenteritis is so easily transmitted.” While he said transmission could “theoretically” occur through money-handling, the virus is much more easily transmitted by swallowing food or water that has been contaminated with stool from an infected person. Peter Ender, an infectious diseases expert who has studied the prevalence of germs on paper money, said the contamination of banknotes is a reflection of what is commonly present on human skin, particularly on hands.

In 2001, Ender and his team at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Medical Centre, near Dayton, Ohio, obtained dollar bills from people waiting to buy food at a high school basketball game in Dayton. Seven per cent of the bills collected showed traces of harmful bacteria, like Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumoniae, that can cause serious illness. Eighty six per cent carried less harmful germs, like streptococcus, enterobacter, pseudomonas and other bugs that rarely cause illness among healthy individuals but can be very dangerous to people whose immune systems are compromised.

Only seven per cent of the bills in that study were found to be germ-free.

“For a healthy individual, contact with most of these bacterial organisms is no big deal because we all have all kinds of bacteria on our hands,” Ender said recently in a telephone interview from his home in Bethlehem, Pa. “We were interested in whether resistant strains of bacteria could make it to patients in hospitals through their friends and relatives who had handled (dirty) money,” he explained. Ender said he doesn’t worry about handling money with his bare hands, because he washes his hands “dozens of times a day.” He advised the public that frequent handwashing with soap and water is still the best way to prevent infections and disease. So could dirty money be a vehicle for the current epidemic of viral gastroenteritis sweeping Montreal health-care centres?
“It’s certainly possible,” Ender said.
“However the Norwalk-type virus is highly contagious via multiple modes, be that hand to hand, surface contact or vomitous particles suspended in air.”

Lefebvre agreed that money could theoretically act as a conduit for all kinds of germs and viruses. But he noted bills are usually handled less than things that are grabbed with the whole hand, like shopping-cart handles, metro car grab bars, doorknobs – or that water glass in the bathroom. Nevertheless cash is a big culprit in spreading infections. Anything that is passed from hand to hand is likely to be contaminated with the germs and viruses we typically have on our skin, so money is an obvious culprit when it comes to spreading illness.

Here are some of the bacteria typically found on paper bills:

Staphylococcus aureus: A bacterium commonly found in the nose of a healthy person that can cause a range of symptoms, from minor skin infections and abscesses to potentially fatal illnesses like pneumonia, meningitis, endocartitis, toxic shock syndrome and septicemia.
Klebsiella pneumoniae: A bacterium commonly found on skin and in the mouth and intestines that can cause bacterial pneumonia. The most common transmission mode is fecal-oral. The bacterium can cause flu-like symptoms, the coughing up of blood-tinged sputum, broncho-pneumonia, bronchitis and urinary tract infection.
Streptococcus: A bacterium commonly found on skin and in the mouth, intestine and upper respiratory tract that can cause strep throat, meningitis, bacterial pneumonia, endocarditis, erysipelas and necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating infection).
Enterobacter: A species of bacteria commonly found in the human intestinal tract that can cause opportunistic infections of the urinary tract as well as other parts of the body, and are sometimes associated with respiratory tract infections.
Pseudomonas: These bacteria can lead to urinary tract infections, sepsis, pneumonia, pharyngitis and other potentially fatal illnesses. They are rarely a cause of infection in healthy people, but can be very dangerous to those with compromised immune systems or individuals with catheters or on respirators.

What you can do: Health authorities stress the importance of washing hands thoroughly and often, especially before and after eating, after using the toilet, after handling paper money, before and after handling food, and before and after visiting hospitals.

Michelle Lalonde , The Gazette

speaking of balls… ;)

In penis stress on 01/21/2007 at 6:18 pm

Stressed-OUt Doctor to pay for Slicing off Penis
………………………………..”ok now you’re only just going to feel a little prick…”

A Romanian doctor who hacked off a patient’s penis during surgery before slicing it into pieces has claimed he was suffering from stress. Naum Ciomu, 58, was operating on the man to correct a testicular malformation when he lost his temper. Grabbing a scalpel, he sliced off the penis in front of amazed nursing staff, then cut it into three pieces before storming out of the operating theatre at the Panduri Urology Hospital in Bucharest.

A Romanian court has ordered Prof Ciomu to pay £100,000 damages and £20,000 costs to the victim, Nelu Radonescu, a 36-year-old builder. “The trauma has left a deep mark both physically and psychologically,” said Mr Radonescu. “It is hard for a man who wants to have sex, yet lacks the organ. My wife is the best thing I have.” (huh?)

The medical costs will be covered by the hospital’s insurer, but doctors’ unions have criticised the court’s decision to make Prof Ciomu pay the damages personally. The unions claim the case could set a dangerous precedent, and doctors may refuse to carry out operations for fear of making a mistake. They said Prof Ciomu, a urologist and lecturer in anatomy, had been punished enough by having his medical licence suspended. Dr Braticevici Bogdan, a former colleague of the disgraced doctor, said: “The amount of the damages is disproportionate compared with the doctors’ salaries and the living standards in Romania.” Senior hospital doctors may earn no more than £500 a month.

The surgeon told a court he lost his temper after he accidentally cut the patient’s urinary channel. He said it was a loss of judgement due to personal problems. Mr. Radonescu will use the compensation to pay for an operation to rebuild his penis, using tissue from his arm.”It will never be the same, but if I am even a quarter of the man I was, I will still be very content,” he said.

thanks nadia 🙂

hmm no transfat…But is it art?

In art, recipes on 01/15/2007 at 3:55 pm

“Bon appetit” said Chilean artist Marco Evaristti as he presented his friends with his newest creation: meatballs cooked with fat from his own body, extracted by liposuction. “Ladies and gentleman, bon appetit and may god bless,” said Evaristti, a glass in his hand, to his dining companions seated night around a table in Santiago’s Animal Gallery tonight.

On the plates in front of them was a serving of agnolotti pasta and in the middle a meatball made with oil Evaristti removed from his body in a liposuction procedure last year. “The question of whether or not to eat human flesh is more important than the result,” he said, explaining the point of his creation.

“You are not a cannibal if you eat art,” he added.

Evaristti produced 48 meatballs with his own fat, some of which would be canned and sold for $4,000us for 10. A veteran at shock-art, in an earlier work Evaristti invited people to kill fish by pressing the button on a blender the fish were held in. In April 2004 he dyed an enormous iceberg in Greenland with red paint.

All the delicious details right here

2046 Music Video – CastaDiva

In casta diva on 01/13/2007 at 5:46 pm

hot chefs on our wishlist….. #5

In chefs on 01/09/2007 at 10:11 pm

If Kristine Lefebvre finds herself falling out of favor with The Donald as the potential Apprentice this season, she can always try to get on his good side with food. Kristine just happens to be married to Ludovic Lefebvre, one of the hottest celebrity chefs in the world — and we don’t just mean his cuisine. Ludovic isn’t your typical Dom DeLuise-fat-and-jolly type chef. From the looks of it, he can hunt and kill his own beef before he cooks it. He was once named by Relais & Chateaux as one of the Top 50 Chefs in the world.

Looks like it’s bon appétit for Kristine, no matter what happens with Trump. The new season of “The Apprentice,” premiered this Monday night to less than stellar ratings in spite of public controversial feud with Rosie. But for the moment, Ludovic Lefebvre is hot, hot in more ways than one, making a marquee name for his physical appeal as much as for his carefree adventurous machismo culinary talent. He is also, umm.. easily scared as he admits in this interview with Laurie some months ago just before taking over as house chef of the renowned Brainwashca… oops tongue slip, we meant to say of course Bastide, of the esteemed Alain Giraud fame…
“I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m really scared. Every day I go into the kitchen, I’m scared. I want to be scared. I want to push myself.” He is scared because he has been named to replace Giraud at what is perhaps this city’s premiere restaurant, Bastide. The news shocked the food world, and just the mention of it sends Lefebvre right into the bedroom. He emerges with two crystals the size of baseballs, one purple and one clear. “I need the power of the stone,” he says. “They will be in my office.”

But there’s more. He pulls down the neck of his T-shirt to reveal two necklaces, made of citrine, beads, a Chinese coin (“for protection”) and a string of nuts from India called Rudraksha that look like tiny hairy macaroons. He unfolds a small piece of paper on which is written a few key phrases, such as “thank you for my blessing” and “calm, no stress.” One also can’t help noticing that he has had apparently helpful Asian characters tattooed on his right arm, along with what appears to be a dragon. A koi fish decorates his left arm, and, he tells me, his wife’s name is emblazoned on his chest.

A week before the big news broke, I had arranged to meet Lefebvre to see what one of the city’s top French chefs could tell us about what we like to think of as a great American summer tradition, the Fourth of July barbecue. We had planned to meet at the W Hotel, where Lefebvre had been installed for the last nine months, planning to open a new restaurant — Ludo — in late summer. Instead, we are on the patio of the Studio City house into which Lefebvre and Kristine, his American wife of five years and an entertainment attorney, recently moved.

And so, for the moment, we try to stay focused on the task at hand: barbecue. For charcoal, Lefebvre uses a Chinese wood called binchotan, ordered through Nishimoto Trading Co. in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. The sticks lie on the floor of the patio in an interestingly battered box with red Chinese letters. “The flavor is very smoky but subtle. You cannot smell it, but you can taste it,” Lefebvre says of the expensive wood from the Wakayama province. He says charcoal briquettes or a cheaper wood will do; “I just love this one.”

In preparation, Lefebvre coated the 5-pound lamb in coarse sea salt and let it rest for two hours. The leg was then rinsed, dried and rubbed with a paste made from olive oil and a dry herb blend. Or, as he says, “I give it a massage all over.” The herb blend was concocted by one of his favorite tradesmen, Perry Doty at All Spice in the Farmers Market on Fairfax. To this Lefebvre has impulsively added a teaspoon each of two more dried spices, Penja, which is a smooth and woody white pepper from the Penja Valley in Cameroon, and espelette, from a red Basque pepper that is not quite as hot as cayenne. “The blend was perhaps not aggressive; this gives the lamb more character,” he says, when I ask how he decided on the last-minute addition of the two spices. Then he adds, “I don’t know why I put this spice on! It’s about cooking! You take a risk! You mix things up!”

Lefebvre ignores the instructions that come with the grill; he leaves the dome-shaped cover off, modulating the heat by crouching down on the ground and opening and closing the bottom vent, which is, technically supposed to remain open. “What I love about barbecue is that it’s all about technique,” says Lefebvre. To see him hunched over the Weber blowing on the wood, his long hair streaming in his face, is to think about men and their relationship to fire. “I can’t have the cover on!” he says. “Then I don’t see what’s going on!

“It’s all about the sizzle,” he continues. “It’s all about how you work with the fire. It’s hot enough — you just feel it. You control it.” He’s an intuitive cook. He believes in using all the senses. He may even have elevated this belief to theory; we’ll find out when his first book, “Crave: See Touch Smell Hear Taste” (Regan Books) is published in the fall.

Lefebvre goes into his kitchen to prepare the sauce for the lobsters he will grill. He plunges two Maine lobsters in boiling water — merely to kill, not to cook. He then chops each one down the middle — using one violent, lightning fast movement. To do this, he uses the biggest knife from the set that Kristine is not allowed to use. She has her own set. “I would know if she used one of mine,” says Lefebvre. For the sauce, he melts imported Echirée butter: “I’m French, of course!” He grates the zest from a lime, a pink grapefruit and an orange and scrapes the aromatic fusion into the pot. Fresh tarragon will be added at the end.

The lobsters, which have been brushed with oil and salted and peppered, go on the grill, meat side down. When Lefebvre decides that side is done (about four minutes) he turns them over. He’s right; it is all about the sizzle. They already look delectable. When dressed with the sauce, the smoky flavor of the lobster meat is accented perfectly by the subtle variations of warm citrus and tarragon.

Also to be grilled are some vegetables that have been sitting in a little olive oil and salt. He places a sliced onion directly on the grill along with parboiled fingerling potatoes that he has ingenuously skewered together on a rosemary branch. He has also sliced zucchini and squash. He stares intently at the vegetables and sometimes uses tongs to turn them. Sometimes he uses his finger. “Chefs are used to getting burned,” he explains.

For dessert, Lefebvre will barbecue a pineapple. Having watched his wife grill corn wrapped in aluminum foil, he has decided to adopt the method. He adds more wood to the fire, blows lightly, waits. Then waits some more. When the fire is perfect, he places pineapple quarters directly on the grill, to get a good sear first. Then he places each quarter on a sheet of foil, tops it with a slab of butter, scrapes half a vanilla bean on top, then wraps it in the foil and pops it back on the grill.

“Trust me,” says Lefebvre, employing one of his very favorite phrases, “barbecue should be very simple. You don’t need to complicate it. Simple, and have fun.”

Still, after tasting it later, he’ll add a generous sprinkle of dried mint and dried rose petals combined with sugar, transforming the dish from merely delicious to truly memorable. With characteristic brio, Ludovic Lefebvre is explaining why he prefers grilling with wood, instead of the far more convenient gas method. “With gas, you press a button and it starts. Gas has no flavor! It’s not exciting! It’s not romantic! It’s not love! Why not just cook in a microwave? Cooking should be a pleasure. It’s a pleasure to buy your wood, to build your fire. It’s like they were doing a long time ago!”

When quoting Lefebvre, who has just been named executive chef at Bastide, one just wants to use exclamation points. The heavily accented, 33-year-old chef grew up in Burgundy but says he prefers the American attitude toward barbecue. “The French don’t do the pork rib; they don’t do the beef rib. People here are more passionate about the barbecue.” Yet today he is barbecuing neither the pork rib nor the beef rib but a leg of lamb with an exotic world-spice flavor, along with a couple of lobsters, some vegetables and a pineapple. He is using a brand-new classic black Weber grill, on which, he says, grinning impishly, he is grilling all these things in this way for the first time. “I know it’s going to work,” he says. “I’m a chef! This is what I do!”

The offer to take over from Giraud came after Lefebvre was deep into the planning of Ludo. But that deal had already begun to sour for him, he says, when he learned he would cook not only for the restaurant but for poolside dining and banquets as well. “I cannot do the thing I want to do by cooking for 200 people,” he explains.

The chef says he gets his ideas from travel (he loves Japan and India) and from going to museums. “I look at a painting. Why did he put this color here?” he asks rhetorically. “Sometimes I just think about the color. I want red and green, so I put the beets with peas. I think about sculpture too. How does the plate look? I hate an overcrowded plate. Then you don’t know what you eat and you get so lost!”

In preparation for his new job, he is also reading six cookbooks a week. “I was promoted too young,” says Lefebvre, who came to the U.S. in 1996 to work at L’Orangerie and was made head chef after only five months, at age 24. “I didn’t have time to finish all of my research. I didn’t understand why I was doing what I was doing. It takes a long time to be a chef.” He left L’Orangerie in 2002, hoping to open his own restaurant, but investors had dried up in the post-Sept. 11 economy. Now, he is itching to finally put his stamp on his own place.

“I’m still learning technique,” he continues. “I’m very open. I don’t know everything.” His criterion for success is succinct. “I want people to remember what they ate. I want them to say, ‘Ten years ago I had this amazing asparagus with this crispy bacon. I remember it.’ “

“It’s like all my life I was driving a Volkswagen. Now I’m driving a Rolls-Royce. I’m so exciting!” he says. He means excited, but either one works. Above all, he is focused on staying calm until his debut.

“I would like to be a Buddhist,” he says, fingering his Indian nut necklace, deadpan. “But I don’t have time.”

Laurie Winer, Los Angeles Times
thanks Laurie 🙂

not even a comma…

In Uncategorized on 01/09/2007 at 2:44 pm

Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2007 09:11:41 -0500
From: nessie
i like this one
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Giorgio Torrieri
Date: 09-Jan-2007 08:02
Subject: Perspectives .(click pic to see pale blue dot)

“We succeeded in taking that picture from deep space [Voyager 1, 4
billion Km from earth, GT] , and, if you look
at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it,
everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out
their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of
confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter
and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of
civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love,
every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and
explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every
superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history
of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the
rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in
glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a
fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the
inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable
inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their
misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent
their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the
delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are
challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in
the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this
vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save
us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astromy is a
humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind,
there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits
than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our
responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another
and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve
ever known.”

Carl Sagan

GT thanx giorgio;)
Theoretical Physics Group, Physics Department, Frankfurt University
But perhaps the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that
is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it
as though it had an underlying truth.
Umberto Eco

Magical memories of the past merely an illusion?…study shows

In lisapicks on 01/07/2007 at 2:40 am

Your brain may get a kick out of remembering the good old days, but it may be for the wrong reasons

If this season’s turkey seemed less succulent, the carollers not as cherubic and the family more irritating than in years past, don’t despair — it’s all in your head.

A new Canadian study shows that nostalgia is basically a trick of the mind: We mistake the satisfaction our brains derive from successfully calling up information for joy in the memories themselves.

“You might mistakenly think this Christmas is not anywhere near as magical and wonderful as the ones from your past, but that’s not because that’s true,” says Jason Leboe, an associate professor in the psychology department at the University of Manitoba and co-author of the study, published in the current issue of the journal Emotion.

“Remembering is playing that trick on you.”

The brain gets a small positive jolt whenever it does something right, he says, citing as an example the experience of shouting the correct Jeopardy! answer at the TV. When we’re able to recall vivid memories and images from the past, we get a rush of pleasure, a physiological response that leads to a perpetual — but often incorrect — feeling that the past was better than the present.

Researchers tested this effect by having volunteers look at a list of words — some they simply read and some they were told to imagine in detailed scenes. Then the volunteers looked at the same words paired either with positive words such as “candy” or negative ones like “murder.”

When the volunteers were again shown the original list of words and asked to identify which they’d seen in a positive light, they showed a bias toward those they’d crafted an image of — that is, those they remembered more clearly — regardless of whether they were seen in a positive context.

It may be no more than an illusion, but the warm-and-fuzzy tug of nostalgia is strong, especially around the holidays.

But if your Christmas didn’t turn out like a Little House on the Prairie episode this year, that doesn’t mean you won’t be waxing poetic about it someday, Mr. Leboe says.

Out-of-the-ordinary events, like the year the turkey goes up in flames or the tree goes down with a drunken uncle, tend to stick in our memories most clearly, he says. Those become the events that families talk about for years to come, and even the most disastrous festivities become idealized with time.

“If something really inconvenient or bad happens, the saying is, ‘We’ll laugh about it later,’ ” Mr. Leboe says.

“What you get later is just that vivid experience that you remember, which produces the positive emotion, so you don’t get all the irritation you’re getting at the time when you have to order out for KFC.”

Shannon Proudfoot, The Ottawa Citizen

Speaking of illusions, try this optical teaser:

which square is darker, A or B?

to confirm your correct response (are you sure?) click on this link and go to illusion 1

scent of Hollywood…

In movie review on 01/06/2007 at 1:31 am

Finally it’s out. Last year when we heard that Dustin Hoffman was starring in film adaptation of our personal favorite the incredible ‘Parfume’ by Patrick Suskind, we thought oh perfect, that NOSE, but alas Hoffman plays a secondary role, giving newcomer Ben Wishaw the difficult task of portraying JB Grenouille, the anti-hero protagonist… Before you read the wonderful review by Roger Ebert, take a little ‘diversion’ into a glimpse of this little tidbit. thanks Susan;)

You Smell Like a Million Butts

A book, a movie, now a set of perfumes. Based on the novel “Perfume,” this $700 collection from Thierry Mugler offers scents from melon to smelly feet. In the end, it was Human Existence that just about did me in. But it wasn’t a philosophical crisis — it was just a perfume smelling at the offices of IFF — International Flavors and Fragrances, Inc., in New York. The 15 scents I sampled are IFF’s “olfactory interpretation” of Patrick Suskind’s novel Perfume, which is the basis for the new movie. It is the story of Grenouille, an obsessed and gifted perfumer in 18th century France who discovers that he himself has no scent. In his effort to create an alluring perfume that he could wear, Grenouille becomes a murderer. One imagines the perfumers of IFF were more restrained in obtaining their ingredients.

The final products, created by Christophe Laudamiel and Christoph Hornetz, are a stunning and at times frightening example of perfume as art. They’re about smelling in its purest sense and about evoking a time or a place through fragrance. Thierry Mugler, famous for his sweet perfume, Angel, has released the set: 14 crystal bottles holding a quarter ounce each and one bottle of half an ounce. They nest in a red velveteen box.

I won’t attempt to summarize them all. Reading 15 descriptions would be as exhausting as smelling them! Let me also say that I smelled these perfumes on paper scent strips, not on skin. You’ll see why.

The perfumes include:

Baby — Creamy, milky, sweetly sour, a blend of 25 ingredients. Inspired by the smell of a freshly washed (thank goodness) infant.

Paris 1738 — Could also be called Times Square, January 1, 11 a.m. Smells of cheese and feet, and a general state of being unwashed. Ingredients include essence of seaweed and a modern synthetic molecule that smells like dirty hair. Paris 1738 lingers in the room like an unwanted, rather smelly guest. It certainly evokes a time and a place when perfume was used to rescue delicate noses from the stench of the streets. Handle with care.

Virgin No. 1 — Named for Grenouille’s first victim, a beautiful young Parisian plum seller. According to IFF, for this scent, scientists analyzed and chemically reconstructed the scent of a virgin’s belly button. At this time, I cannot comment on the realism of that element, but the other listed notes of yellow plums and milk (seems like goat’s milk) are evident.

Atelier Grimal — Named for the Tannery where anti-hero Grenouille works, it smells of old, creased leather with a dab of animal and a smidge of noxious chemicals.

Human Existence — Like Paris 1738 with a jaunty dash of incontinence. There’s an element of scared animal. It’s foul, it’s sad and it takes you places you don’t want to go.

There are more pleasant scents in the box, like Sea, a melony fresh take on an ocean breeze, and Noblesse, a blend of rare flower aromas that smells expensive because it is. But those aren’t the ones that will change your nose’s outlook on life. The fantasy scents are available in limited numbers from an online service in the U.S. The pricetag is $700. That may sound preposterous. Then again, they’re already sold out in Europe.

Susan Stone sniffs discerningly in Berlin, where she is a freelance correspondent.

Movie Review ; “Perfume”
Roger Ebert / Chicago Sun Times/January 5, 2007

Not only does “Perfume” seem impossible to film, it must have been almost impossible for Patrick Suskind to write. How do you describe the ineffable enigma of a scent in words? The audiobook, read by Sean Barrett, is the best audio performance I have ever heard; he snuffles and sniffles his way to greatness and you almost believe he is inhaling bliss, or the essence of a stone. I once almost destroyed a dinner party by putting it on for “five minutes,” after which nobody wanted to stop listening.

Patrick Suskind’s famous novel involves a twisted little foundling whose fishwife mother casually births him while chopping off cod heads. He falls neglected into the stinking charnel house that was Paris 300 years ago, and is nearly thrown out with the refuse. But Grenouille grows into a grim, taciturn survivor (Ben Whishaw), who possesses two extraordinary qualities: he has the most acute sense of smell in the world, and has absolutely no scent of his own.

This last attribute is ascribed by legend to the spawn of the devil, but the movie “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” makes no mention of this possibility, wisely limiting itself to vile if unnamed evil. Grenouille grows up as a tanner, voluptuously inhaling the world’s smells, and eventually talks himself into an apprenticeship with Baldini (Dustin Hoffman), a master perfumer, now past his prime, whose shop is on an overcrowded medieval bridge on the Seine.

Mention of the bridge evokes the genius with which director Tom Tykwer (“Run, Lola, Run”) evokes a medieval world of gross vices, all-pervading stinks and crude appetites. In this world, perfume is like the passage of an angel — some people think, literally. Grenouille effortlessly invents perfect perfumes, but his ambition runs deeper; he wants to distill the essence of copper, stone and beauty itself. In pursuit of this last ideal he becomes a gruesome murderer.

Baldini tells him the world center of the perfume art is in Grasse, in Southern France, and so he walks there. I was there once myself, during the Cannes festival, and at Sandra Schulberg’s villa met les nez de Grasse, “the noses of Grasse,” the men whose tastes enforce the standards of a global industry. They sat dressed in neat business suits around a table bearing a cheese, which they regarded with an interest I could only imagine. On the lawn, young folk frolicked on bed sheets strewn with rose petals. You really must try it sometime.

It is in the nature of creatures like Grenouille (I suppose) that they have no friends. Indeed he has few conversations, and they are rudimentary. His life, as it must be, is almost entirely interior, so Twyker provides a narrator (John Hurt) to establish certain events and facts. Even then, the film is essentially visual, not spoken, and does a remarkable job of establishing Grenouille and his world. We can never really understand him, but we and cannot tear our eyes away.

“Perfume” begins in the stink of the gutter and remains dark and brooding. To rob a person of his scent is cruel enough, but the way it is done in this story is truly macabre. Still it can be said that Grenouille is driven by the conditions of his life and the nature of his spirit. Also, of course, that he may indeed be the devil’s spawn.

This is a dark, dark, dark film, focused on an obsession so complete and lonely it shuts out all other human experience. You may not savor it, but you will not stop watching it, in horror and fascination. Whishaw succeeds in giving us no hint of his character save a deep savage need. And Dustin Hoffman produces a quirky old master whose life is also governed by perfume, if more positively. Hoffman reminds us here again, as in “Stranger than Fiction,” what a detailed and fascinating character actor he is, able to bring to the story of Grenouille precisely what humor and humanity it needs, and then tactfully leaving it at that. Even his exit is nicely timed.

Why I love this story, I do not know. Why I have read the book twice and given away a dozen copies of the audiobook, I cannot explain. There is nothing fun about the story, except the way it ventures so fearlessly down one limited, terrifying, seductive dead end, and finds there a solution both sublime and horrifying. It took imagination to tell it, courage to film it, thought to act it, and from the audience it requires a brave curiosity about the peculiarity of obsession.

rating: 4/4

Your Moment of Literary Zen #21

In Uncategorized on 01/05/2007 at 8:42 am

We were so poor I had to take the place of the bait in the mousetrap. All alone in the cellar, I could hear them pacing upstairs, tossing and turning in their beds. “These are dark and evil days,” the mouse told me as he nibbled my ear. Years passed. My mother wore a cat-fur collar which she stroked until its sparks lit up the cellar.

~Charles Simic, The World Doesn’t End

Photograph by Klavdij Sluban, Autour de la mer Noire-voyages d’hiver

a different kind of relativity theory…

In perspective on 01/04/2007 at 9:30 am

…to ponder next time you want to see your problems from another perspective.

Antares is about 700 times the diameter of our own Sun, 15 times more massive, and 10,000 times brighter. Antares is the brightest star in the constellation of Scorpius and one of the brighter stars in all the night sky. Antares is seen surrounded by a nebula of gas which it has itself expelled. Radiation from Antares’ blue stellar companion helps cause the nebular gas to glow bright visible to us even though Antares is located about 500 light years away from earth. As you well know, a light-year is a unit of distance. It is the distance that light can travel in one year. Light moves at a velocity of about 300,000 (km) each second. So in one year, it can travel about 10 trillion km. More precisely, one light-year is equal to 9,500,000,000,000 kilometers. :))

The Vagina Dialogues

In sex on 01/02/2007 at 4:05 pm

Six Sex columnists compare notes.
By Amy Sohn

On an unseasonably warm recent night, I gathered five prominent young sex columnists at EN Japanese Brasserie to discuss their careers, love lives, and boyfriends. But what started out as a roundtable quickly turned into The Jessica Cutler Show. Cutler, 27, the former Capitol Hill aide who detailed her many Beltway conquests on the now-defunct Washingtonienne blog (and in her subsequent Hyperion novel of the same name), regaled us with tales of cocaine use, the antidepressant she’s on, her reasons for posing nude for Playboy, the seven men she’s dating, and the man who’s suing her for invading his privacy. When it came time for a group photo, Cutler opened her flasher-style trench coat and bared her left breast.

Shameless? Absolutely. But who can blame Cutler for wanting attention? It’s a lot tougher to get than when I started out as a sex columnist nine years ago, writing in the New York Press about my attempts to find a sideburned, artistic guy south of 14th Street who’d stay for breakfast.
Six seasons of Sex and the City, one Paris Hilton sex tape, one Jenna Jameson autobiography, and one anal-sex memoir later, the boudoir diarist is now a staple of every publication save the supermarket circular. On college campuses, student newspapers are rife with the musings of (mostly female) authors who’ve only recently lost their virginity yet write about their limited exploits with the explicitness of Howard Stern and the delicacy of Jimmy Kimmel. One of the more intelligent essayists, the Columbia Spectator’s Miriam Datskovsky, isn’t even old enough to drink (although that didn’t stop her from stealing a few sips at our dinner).

Sex columns aren’t always about great sex or great writing, but the single-girl blog can be a brilliant career move for those willing to reveal absolutely everything. “I get diarrhea more than a normal person,” writes insanely popular Greek Tragedy blogger Stephanie Klein, 30, on a page called 100 Things About Me, where readers can also learn she wet her bed until the sixth grade (No. 1), can’t find Montana on a map (No. 12), lets her dog lick her privates (No. 88), climaxes from intercourse (No. 92), and so on. Klein blogged her way into a two-book deal with Judith Regan, a contract to write an NBC pilot, and a spot at our table.

So much has been said about sex that the surest way for a young writer to distinguish herself, it seems, is to divulge things no reasonable reader would want to know. But is the widespread availability of too much information changing sex itself? To help hash it out, we also invited Rachel Kramer Bussel, 30, author of the Village Voice’s “Lusty Lady” column, a regular contributor to Penthouse Variations, and editor of a recent spanking anthology; and Elise Nersesian, 26, whose “Sexier Sex” column for Redbook magazine was an attempt to lure younger gals to the gingerbread-scented glossy. (Since our roundtable, she’s defected to Penthouse magazine as well.) Over Japanese cocktails, we got progressively drunker (and cattier), but like nice girls, everyone exchanged phone numbers at the end.

Amy Sohn: So how did you get started?
Jessica Cutler:
I was writing e-mails to my friends from my Senate account when I was working as a staff assistant. I didn’t want to be writing from that address, so I just said, Why don’t I just keep a blog? That was in May of 2004. I only wrote thirteen entries, but someone sent the link to a gossip Website in D.C., Wonkette, and then I came back from lunch and everybody in my office was reading it. It was in the Washington Post and the New York Post, and then I got calls from literary agents.
Rachel Kramer Bussel: After college, I moved here to go to NYU Law School, and that’s when I started writing stories. I got asked to work at Penthouse Variations, which is my main job. I was writing a bit for the Village Voice, and they asked me to write a column there a year ago. I also write a column at Penthouse about what girls talk about when guys aren’t around.
Cutler: We laugh about your wieners all day long.
Stephanie Klein: Like all great things, it started with a breakup. I read through my journals, and I realized I was putting so much energy into guys. I said, You know what? I’m going to stop dating, take myself off, and write every day, so I started the blog in January 2004. I also decided to invest my energy in photography. One day, I went to a party and Ivana Trump was there along with a bunch of other celebrities. I got a lot of shots and put them up on my site. Some of the other blogs linked to me, and it caught the attention of the Independent in London. They called me and they were like, “We loved your blog. We’re pissing ourselves over here and we want to feature you, yeah?” And I’m like, “Yeah!” So they ran this story and then the CEO of this publishing house from London came over here and offered me a deal. I ended up refusing that deal, getting an agent here, and writing a book proposal for Straight Up & Dirty.
Miriam Datskovsky: I never, ever would have guessed I’d write a sex column. I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish household. I haven’t been observant for years, but it was quite the shock to my mom when I started doing it. During the spring of my freshman year, the Spectator had a contest for a sex columnist. My first column was about how all my guy friends were being really girly and all my girlfriends were being very nonchalant about sex and hooking up.

Sohn: Do people assume you’re easy because you’re a sex columnist?
Elise Nersesian: People are fascinated by you, and they also think you’re automatically sexy because of it. Like I’m sitting there surrounded by vibrators. They think you’re great at sex.
Cutler: That’s what you want, though.

Sohn: Do guys you date expect more of you because of what you do?
Cutler: If a guy wants to date me, he needs to Google me and read a lot of stuff and be cool with it. I get guys who are really intimidated, who think that I’m judging them every second, and believe me, I am. Every woman does that. In New York, I date a lot of attorneys or bankers, and they all want me to sign confidentiality agreements. I tell them, “I’m not going to sign anything!” And then I never hear the end of it, but they never produce a paper. We just keep having sex.
Cutler has been sued by one of her paramours, Robert Steinbuch, a lawyer for the Senate Judiciary Committee, for “disclosure of private facts.” She wrote about him under the pseudonym “RS,” referring to incidents of spanking and hair-pulling. His identity was revealed in the blogosphere after he filed suit a year later.

Sohn: Talk about the guy who’s suing you.
I can’t, for many reasons, but you know what I must think . . . If you want to set a precedent against anytime anyone mentions any sex act that they have with somebody, I don’t think that’s a good idea.

Sohn: So basically, if he wins, it could ruin the careers of everyone at this table.
Years ago, if you were caught on a sex tape, it would be the end of your career, and now it actually raises your status. There are these strippers who are coming out with memoirs, and it’s these women saying, “We can take off our clothes because we want to be with men, and we can take control of our sexuality like men,” but I think they’re thwarting feminism completely.
Datskovsky: I think a lot of people would think that we are thwarting feminism.

Sohn: Do you consider yourself feminists?
Cutler: I always do. I grew up reading Ms.

Sohn: Didn’t a lot of guys give you money after you had sex with them?
They paid my rent, yeah. It’s not unusual. It’s common practice for guys to give you money, pay your rent, and buy you gifts. They just thought, She makes crap money. Twenty-five K? I still have that going on. I will probably be dating dickholes anyway, so I might as well be letting them pay my rent for me. If they offer, why not say yes?

It becomes clear that there is a schism at the table. Nersesian, Klein and I roll our eyes at Cutler because she offends our p.c. instincts, but Datskovsky and Bussel, on the other hand, nod emphatically—as though her brazenness is an act of rebellion itself. Cutler embodies today’s feminism lite: As long as you’re honest about your desires, no matter how morally vacuous, you’re “kick-ass” and “revolutionary.”

Bussel: What I think is really interesting at this table is, where are the guys writing about sex, beyond [gay syndicated columnist] Dan Savage? I think it stems from straight guys not being as comfortable talking about sex in general.
Datskovsky: Men are not accustomed to being open about their emotions or fears and concerns and shames. Men can write and talk about sex and not feel like any less of a man—but really only at the joking level.

Sohn: Why are sex columnists so popular these days? It seems like they’re everywhere, like in college newspapers. Is it just because of Sex and the City?
On the one hand, the show was great because it opened the dialogue.
Nersesian: It made it normal to talk on your cell phone on the street about a blow job and to be open with your girlfriends.
Bussel: There’s so much more openness now, whether it’s about being gay or looking at porn, going to strip clubs, trying kinky sex, having a threesome.
Datskovsky: One of my high-school teachers reads my columns, and almost every time he tells me the same thing—it was just like this in the sixties, only then they didn’t talk about it.
Klein: Sex has become “no big deal” to a lot of people. That isn’t always a good thing. My father sat me down when I was a teenager and said, “I never want sex to become no big deal to you. Respect yourself enough to do it with someone who’s worthy.” That was a big lesson.
Cutler: To some people, sex is like a handshake.
Nersesian: That’s sad.
Cutler: Not necessarily. It’s different for everybody. I can have good sex with every fourth person. No biggie. But do I get along with them? That’s important.

Sohn: Do you have therapists?
Klein: No.
Datskovsky: I used to.
Bussel: I used to.
Cutler: This therapist told me, “You’re in your twenties. You’re promiscuous. Big deal. It’s symptomatic of ADD. You get bored easily. You’re thrill-seeking. The thrill-seeking behavior is what is disturbing to me. You just need to be on medication.”

Sohn: So are you?
Cutler: Of course: Strattera. It’s just an antidepressant medication. It helps me write faster. Actually, when I wrote my book, I got Adderall from my friends, and I was typing like a maniac. And that’s the thing, yeah, that and snorting coke helped me write the book really fast.

Sohn: Have you ever dated a fan?
Cutler: Some guy came to my reading and I went with him. I still see him. He’s a great guy . . .

Sohn: Did you sleep with him?
Cutler: Oh, yeah, of course. I’ve dated a couple of fans. Why not?

Sohn: Aren’t you afraid that someone is going to be totally psycho?
Cutler: I love the psycho ones! What’s he going to do, kill me?
Nersesian: Yeah.
Cutler: What a relief that would be.

Sohn: What is the most memorable response that you’ve ever gotten from a reader?
Bussel: The weirdest e-mail I got was this guy wanted to take me to Yankee Stadium and wanted to spank each other in the middle of the stands.
Cutler: I don’t get a lot of mail, but I see it on other blogs, and I don’t read other blogs, but friends will send it to me and say, “Oh, so funny, read this! This guy is totally making fun of you.” And it’s always about my Playboy pictorial and how I looked.

Sohn: How much did you show?
Cutler: Everything! I did nude.
Klein: Do you worry about having kids someday and what they will think?
Cutler: I don’t want kids.
Nersesian: Are you sure? You’re only 27.
Klein: I definitely want children, and I hope that I will be honest with them and say, “Look, this is what Mommy does.” Your sexuality is part of who you are.

I, for one, am already dreading the inevitable day when my daughter tells me my work has ruined her life. But by then, my writing will probably seem less revolutionary than quaint.

Sohn: Does a column improve or worsen your sex life? It made mine worse—a lot of guys were afraid of being written about.
It’s made for some awkward moments. Every guy on campus who doesn’t know me assumes that because I write the column, I want to sleep with them.
Klein: One guy said, “I like you, but I’m very private and I don’t feel comfortable.” And I got upset. A lot of guys would write in and say, “No guy is ever going to want to date you because you write so openly and honestly about this stuff,” and I’d say, “Then he’s not the guy for me.”
Cutler: I’ve only benefited from mine. The quality of guys has actually gone up, just moving to New York. They don’t care what people say.

Sohn: Do you have a boyfriend?
Cutler: I have, like, seven.

Sohn: Do they all know about each other?
Cutler: They will now.

Cutler goes downstairs, and the photographer gathers us for a few pictures. Elise wants to know if she’s the only one alarmed by Jessica’s opinions, and Stephanie assures her that she’s not. Twenty minutes later, a New York staffer is sent down to retrieve Jessica and finds her flirting with the bartender. She’s escorted back upstairs, where we pose, smiling, like the best of friends.

Kiss and Tell
Rachel Kramer Bussel, 30
“Lusty Lady” columnist for the Village Voice
Column excerpt: “Myth: People who have casual sex are selfish sluts.”
Turn-ons: adorable geeks
Turnoffs: bad grammar
Romantic status: very single
Sexual orientation: bisexual

Stephanie Klein, 30
author of the forthcoming memoir Straight Up & Dirty, based on her blog, Greek Tragedy
Column excerpt: “We’re in a cab headed north. He was headed south. My pants are pulled to my ankles. I assume he tipped the driver well.”
Turn-ons: big, long, hard vocabulary words
Turnoffs: “Guys who can’t multitask, because we’ll never achieve simultaneous orgasms.”
Romantic status: head over five-inch heels in love
Sexual orientation: horizontal

Jessica Cutler, 27
author of The Washingtonienne
Column excerpt: “I like this crazy hair-pulling, ass-smacking dude who wants to use handcuffs on me. Shit.”
Turn-ons: expensive gifts
Turnoffs: going Dutch, poor hygiene
Romantic status: “I’m dating around.”
Sexual orientation: “On a scale of one to ten, with one being hetero and ten being homosexual, I’m a three.”

Elise Nersesian, 26
former “Sexier Sex” columnist for Redbook, soon-to-be Penthouse writer
Column excerpt: “Uncut guys have more nerves down there, so when you stimulate him manually or orally, you can do half the work and still send him through the roof.”
Turn-ons: Woody Allen movies
Turnoffs: too much hair gel
Romantic status: has a boy toy
Sexual orientation: straight

Miriam Datskovsky, 20
“Sexplorations” columnist for the Columbia Spectator
Column excerpt: “I always expected sex in college would be easily and readily available. Suffice it to say that my hopes have since evaporated into thin air.”
Turn-ons: scruffy Jew-fros
Turnoffs: oral sex
Romantic status: “Single and enjoying it.”
Sexual orientation: straight

thanks Amy;)

Amy Sohn is a Brooklyn-based author, columnist and screenwriter. She wrote the novels Run Catch Kiss (1999) and My Old Man (2004), both published by Simon & Schuster, and the New York Times-bestselling Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell, the companion guide to the television series Sex and the City. She is a contributing editor at New York magazine, where she writes the weekly “Mating” column. From 1996 to 1999 she wrote a dating column, “Female Trouble”, for New York Press. Her articles and reviews have also appeared in The Nation, Playboy, Harper’s Bazaar, Men’s Journal and The New York Times Book Review

And CLICK HERE to read Washington Post’s Book Review of Jessica Cutler’s “Novel”

Good News for Grammar-Nazis Everywhere

In Uncategorized on 01/01/2007 at 8:37 pm

Lake Superior State University released its 32nd annual “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness.” A total of 16 words or phrases were selected by a university committee from more than 4,500 nominations. The list, which in previous years has included “show me the money,” “erectile dysfunction” and “holiday tree,” is closing in on its 1,000th banishment.

The list includes:

The media’s guilty pleasure of using combined celebrity names such as “TomKat” or “Brangelina.” One claims, “It’s so annoying, idiotic and so lame and pathetic that it’s “lamethetic.'”

Real estate listings were marked for overuse of “boast.” As in “master bedroom boasts his-and-her fireplaces – never ‘bathroom apologizes for cracked linoleum,'” wryly notes Morris Conklin of Portugal.

It wasn’t difficult to encounter the phrase “gone/went missing” in 2006. “It makes ‘missing’ sound like a place you can visit, such as the Poconos. Is the person missing, or not?” questioned Robin Dennis of Texas.

The hatred of the phrase “we’re pregnant” by women everywhere is perfectly echoed by Sharla Hulsey of Sac City, Iowa who said, “Were men feeling left out of the whole morning sickness/huge belly/labor experience? You may both be expecting, but only one of you is pregnant.”

“Undocumented alien.” Do we really need to be this polite? “If they haven’t followed the law to get here, they are by definition ‘illegal.’ It’s like saying a drug dealer is an ‘undocumented pharmacist.'” — John Varga, Westfield, New Jersey.

The university’s word watchers canned “truthiness,” the word popularized by Comedy Central satirist Stephen Colbert. It was selected in an online survey by dictionary publisher Merriam Webster as the word that best summed up 2006.

Whether you choose to join this cause or not is up to you. Just reflect on Oscar Wilde’s sagacious words when he said, “Popularity is the crown of laurel which the world puts on bad art. Whatever is popular is wrong.”