Archive for September, 2008

or give ME the money and i’ll buy you all a pony

The first entries in my delicious stream under the keywords “subprime” and “crash” are dated 21 August 2007. I’m not bragging, believe me. I saved those bookmarks because I’m kind of dumb about this stuff. Most of the time I am thinking about my kids, horses, books or food. But the shape of the mortgage crisis was obvious thirteen months ago even to a self-absorbed idiot like me.

Which means that anyone on Wall Street or Washington who says they didn’t see this coming is lying to you. Specifically, John McCain is lying to you; he’s been through this twice already, with Enron/Worldcom and before that, the Keating 5.

This is par for the course; and indeed the $700bn bailout is just the latest (and the most egregious and appalling) step in this Republican administration’s campaign to nationalize risk and privatize profit.

Let’s be clear: the real cost of the toxic mortgages is probably between $100-200bn. The other HALF TRILLION dollars covers the bankers who made the wrong bet on those mortgages. These are the bankers that took home $120bn in BONUSES over the last five years. (All numbers are from Devilstower on Daily Kos except for the $700bn, which the Fed pulled out of its ass.)

The history of the last eight years in this country has been a deliberate process of robbing the poor to buy private jets for the hyperrich.

It is unconscionable.

My advice: don’t bail them out. Restructure the mortgages for the homeowners who are facing foreclosure; we know that many (most?) of them were lied to by predatory lenders. Oh, and vote the GOP out of office.

Children learn from their mistakes by accepting the consequences. Why shouldn’t grown men?

in queens

There are shirtless water polo players frolicking in the hallways of my cheap-ass airport hotel.

I sorta finished a not-quite-so-embarrassing draft of “Everywhere” on the plane. Anyone wanna beta read my big gay Suez Canal historical love story murder mystery? Skud? Spike? Francis? Bueller?

working mom

Julia and I are having a love affair. She will gaze deeply into my eyes before declaring, “I LOVE you mama,” and kissing me on the lips.

The other day Blanca left when we were in the bath. Jules was disconsolate upon finding her gone. She said:

“I am sad because Blanca went home and I miss her.”

Are two year olds supposed to construct perfect sentences with two conditional subclauses? Just wondering.

the storm tonight

Ike is the size of Texas. It is the Earth’s great white spot.

the weather report

I’m always a bit emo when I have to get on a plane and leave the tiny smalls behind. (Claire is the same. Jeremy reports that tonight she was looking broodingly at the bookshelves and saying “All these books make me think about how I miss mummy.”) I flew out of San Francisco in one of those sort of robotic moods imposed where you try to cope with the indignity and discomfort of commercial travel by completely dissociating. “The toothpaste is too big? Okay.”

So when we came over a mountain range into Phoenix just before sunset and I saw a huge perfect fluffy white storm cell, I caught my breath; and when it lit up with lightning I put down my book. I leaned into the porthole and watched the pink bolts firing up and down the column of cloud, blazing on the outside and lighting up the inside. As we began our descent I watched the sun setting behind the storm in a band of red fire, and the huge cell turn steel grey and then black against the night sky.

I get superstitious when I am emo. Much of my adult life has been an excruciating process of learning detachment, of trying to let go. I’ve deliberately and consciously wanted very few things very fiercely over the last few years: for the girls and my parents to be healthy and safe, for one or two friends who had stopped talking to me to start again, for Jeremy to be near.

And for Barack Obama to win this election. A few nights ago I dreamed I went on a blood-drenched Celtic-Wiccan passage through the underworld on his behalf, emerging like a muddy banshee from a church basement in Philadelphia. And as I watched this mighty electric storm over Arizona, I decided that if I saw another lightning flash out in the open, Obama would win.

I saw two.

I’m having a rather unexpectedly nice time here. I spent dinner chatting about haute cuisine, which I can do for days at a stretch, with Frank Artale who is part-owner of Lampreia in Seattle. He had me in stitches with scurrilous tales of Charles Simonyi’s engagement party and Melinda Gates’ aesthetician. Afterwards he introduced me to a woman who had three sugar gliders in her purse. I snuggled one of them and he purred! Who knew that sugar gliders purr?

All the while, lightning was firing the cloudy night above the golf course. So when I got back to my room I donated to Obama’s campaign.

a very borgesian date night

The boy and I went to see Tropic Thunder last night. Just before the trailers started he reminded me that there were fictional trailers. I promptly assumed that Role Models, Lakeview Terrace and Max Payne were parodies. I laughed my head off at how well they mimicked the pomposity of the trailer genre, and admired the artistry that had gone into their assembly. The Max Payne trailer starts “In a world…” which had me in stitches.

Everyone up to and including the boy looked at me oddly, at which point it finally dawned on me.

“Real, huh?”


“Okay then.”

The real fictional trailers were a bit of a letdown after that.

The film made me laugh. I do enjoy Ben Stiller as an actor. There’s a lovely generosity to his comedy, here and in Zoolander. He’s unafraid to make himself look like a gigantic twat in order to let the rest of the ensemble glow, and he’s always with the big ensemble, bless. Steve Coogan was great, he always is, as the pompous Brit director in a Union Jack t-shirt. Jack Black was wonderfully manic as a sweaty junkie. Matthew McConaughy was surprisingly sweet in his role as Ben Stiller’s asshole-agent-with-a-heart-of-TiVo. Everything looked and sounded fantastic – great rainy and sometimes explodey jungle and excellent choice of Vietnam-cliche 60s songs. The whole thing was a very affectionate sendup of the genre.

I liked a bunch of the cameos – Toby Maguire and Lance Bass especially – but the big one everyone’s talking about left me cold. To me the big-name actor in question is the opposite of Ben Stiller. He sucks the air out of the room. He thinks he’s in on the joke but it’s clear we muggles are the butt of his joke. His massive self-regard is palpable and repulsive. I can live without being sniggered at by gajillionaires.

So, race! Downey’s metamorphosis from Osiris to Lazarus was especially funny for me because Lazarus was supposed to be Australian, a thinly veiled caricature in fact of Russell Crowe. (And maybe poor old Heath.) So the rattling off of Aussie cliches – Crocodile Dundee, a dingo ate my baby – was tiresome to me in much the same way that the black cliches were to the black character, Brandon Jackson’s Alpa Chino. I gotta say, though, I fretted about the portrayal of the Burmese-or-Laotians. The film’s moral hierarchy of race goes: white Americans, black Americans, Australian butt-monkeys, Asian drug kingpins.

And surprise, the film utterly fails the Bechdel test. Of three speaking roles we counted for women, two were cameos and the third was a receptionist. Mustn’t distract from the flow of the story! Where “the story” is defined as “things of interest to the straight white male protagonist”. Hollywood, I hate you.

Of our last five movies, Jeremy chose this, The Dark Knight (which I walked out of in tears) and Get Smart (which we both promptly forgot). I chose the Herzog Antarctica film and Up the Yangtze. Our findings: Up the Yangtze is the only one that passes the Bechdel test. And Jeremy should always let me choose the film.

conversations with my daughters

Julia: Mummy’s mad at me!

Jeremy: D’you know why?

Julia: Yeah. I spat.

Jeremy: Should you go say sorry?

Julia: Yeah! I’ll be right back.

julia facts

  • Last night she fell asleep with a book open in front of her, again.
  • She can recognize her own name written down.
  • This morning as we were getting on the bus, she touched my hair. “Your hair is wet?” “Yeah, from the shower.” She grinned all over and stroked my face so gently. “You all clean!”
  • She’s an unbelievably tender kid, always stroking your arm or face or tracing flower patterns on your skin.
  • When we were in the emergency room for Claire’s cut head, she sat quietly next to me and kissed my belly. She knew it was a difficult situation, and wanted to help but not be in the way.
  • She has taught me that two-year-olds can be tactful.
  • I can never do enough good in my life to deserve this blessing.
  • It’s all about the possessives. “My mummy!” “My friend Claire!” “My prilly dress! Right? Okay!”
  • A recent song:

    “My friend Daddy, my friend Daddy, we’re going to Rainbow!
    “My friend Daddy, my friend Daddy, he’s mummy’s, I know.”

  • She gives the best kisses.
  • She likes soup. “Yay! Soup!”
  • Underestimate her at your peril. Her superpowers include mightiness, a will of iron and extreme volume.
  • Bebe the hellspawned cat genuinely likes her.
  • It’s as if the white lights of Burning Man and Mardi Gras had become a small girl, and walked among us.