1. I went into the archives of The Toast this week (to dig up this, because these things come up in conversation) and I found another gem:
2. (Very) long term readers will know that I was thinking about adopting a dog before I found Toby in 2008. When I bought the house and The Future seemed really terrifying, I told myself, “Toby and I can always get a dog when I turn 40.” Well, I’m going to be 39 in a few months and look at what I saw yesterday:
Greyhound racing was banned in Florida yesterday. Regardless of your views on racing, this means about 8000 hounds will be looking for homes in the coming months. They are wonderful, kind, sweet, and sleepy dogs, and in the wake of this please consider opening your home to one. pic.twitter.com/5ZwaAJRA1h
— Tracy 🦖 is @ Acadecon! (@tracysaur) November 7, 2018
Kottke featured this earlier in the week: a Random Koyaanisqaatsi Generator, which is “an internet version [of the film’s trailer] using random Giphy ‘gifs’ which have been tagged as slow motion or time-lapse, playing them along with the Philip Glass soundtrack.”
In other words, hours of dystopian arthouse fun!
Something’s happened this year and I’m back to getting 2-3 books from the library every week and blowing through them, a pace I kept up through my early twenties. Granted, most of them have been detective novels that are pretty easy to blow through, but it’s been really nice to be reading again.
At the library I saw that there was a third book out from Sara Gran in the Claire De Witt detective series, which is kind of like Raymond Chandler but with a punk lady and a lot more drugs. This quote about the LA hills hit me, because I had just driven through there a few weeks before reading it and thought, “What the hell, why is this city so mountainous?”
Why were the Los Angeles hills so arcane, so occulted to the world outside? People talked about Los Angeles as it it were New York, spread out and deformed, melted like hot cookie dough on a pan. I didn’t know until I got there that the city was a web of mountains and valleys and canyons, starting out wet and cool and drying itself out into desert as it headed east, unlike anyplace else on earth; a maze of dead-end streets that were never parallel and curved in and across themselves like snakes. There was an energy to Los Angeles that was sharp and would cut you if you didn’t recognize it. Every grain of sand in the beaches and the desert buried under the city was a little razor, ready and willing to wound.
But if you saw it for what it was, I was learning, you could maneuver in between the knives and glide through the city, like a needle in a record. You just had to keep your eyes open for synchronicity, and never expect kindness. Just shut up and be grateful when it appeared.
I wore black turtlenecks all through high school and college. Then I realized what a cliche that was, discovered colors and vintage patterns, and spent most of a decade suffering through pencil skirts and ballet flats.
But now, I’m back in black* and I love it. I bought this iteration of the classic turtleneck from Everlane last month and I have to stop myself from wearing it more than twice a week.
Why are black turtlenecks so great? I’d never been able to put into words why I feel so polished, so cool in one, but Rachel Syme summed it up last year, in “A Love Letter to Black Turtlenecks“:
Because let’s talk about what happens to you when you finally put one on: Your head becomes a sculpture. Once you emerge through that tube of fabric, you start to resemble a marble bust—your skull and all its features are on display, like the diamonds plopped on top of black velvet in the Van Cleef windows. […] It makes you realize how beautiful your face is, because it’s so out there, floating atop your shoulders for the world to appraise.
*You can’t say that phrase without linking to the song . It’s a rule.
Well, maybe not deep, but I had Mark Doty in my head again, right on schedule for fall.
Like trying to familiarize yourself,
exactly, with the side of a mountain:
this birch, this rock-pool, this square mosaic
yard of tesselated leaves, autumnal,
a jeweled reliquary.
1. I just found the Instagram of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and it is the BEST. (Really.) It’s like there’s one traditional employee posting tips about firework safety and then some weird intern with Photoshop going off and creating stuff like this:
2. The headline sums it up pretty well here: See how grotesque Jeff Bezos’ fortune is in this choose-your-own-adventure game
“Not everything is lost.” Sometimes I need to remember that.
Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal
by Naomi Shahib Nye
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost.
I’m not Wiccan but I find it endlessly fascinating to learn about the old, old traditions, how the early Christian church adapted/co-opted them, and how they’ve evolved into what we have today. (See also: Saturnalia, Eostre, etc.)
For Halloween, we can thank the Celtic pagans for the idea of spirits being close, the focus on death and blood and bones, and even trick-or-treating–and you can learn all about it in the Wikipedia article.
Turns out the originators of the holiday had some of the OG creepy costume ideas, too. I present the Láir Bhán (similar to the Mari Lywd, for any readers of The Dark is Rising series):
In parts of southern Ireland during the 19th century, the guisers included a hobby horse known as the Láir Bhán (white mare). A man covered in a white sheet and carrying a decorated horse skull (representing the Láir Bhán) would lead a group of youths, blowing on cow horns, from farm to farm. At each they recited verses, some of which “savoured strongly of paganism”, and the farmer was expected to donate food. If the farmer donated food he could expect good fortune from the ‘Muck Olla’; not doing so would bring misfortune.
(Image from here)
At the risk of sending my dad into cardiac arrest when he reads this, I tried to buy the Outdoor Voices CloudKnit Sweats for $85. Sure, I knew I could make them, but I’d convinced myself the fabric and the fit would be spectacular and totally worth it.
Well, two sizes and returns later, the fabric felt like a weird polyester microfiber, there was an unnecessary seam right at the bend of the knee, and the fit was less flattering than the Hudson Pants pattern we all know and love. I knew what I had to do.
I got two yards of a very soft poly/rayon/spandex French terry and for $20 and a half a day of sewing, I had some gym pants and $65 in the bank.
As you can see by the photo IN AN ACTUAL GYM, I’ve worn these to workouts and they do great–the spandex keeps them from bagging out at the knees and they’re trim but not frumpy, with a little more coverage than leggings. (Maybe next year I can be the person wearing shorts, knee socks, and a lifting belt, but I’m not there yet.)