Jen Bingham

Writer

Month: January 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Year of the Horse!

Look everyone, the year of the horse is upon us once more. Happy Nu-NU!

My horse boyfriend bids you gently welcome and wishes you good cheer. And good luck.

hoars

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

duff

The DUFF’s narrator is the ugly duckling in her trio of friends (hence the title, which stands for designated ugly fat friend). She’s understandably pissed when a good looking boor shares the term with her and, interestingly, starts sleeping with him to blow off steam. It really does work although it sounds unlikely.

Unfortunately, the book is repetitive and lacks depth. We’re told that people are special, sweet, sarcastic, and many other adjectives, but we never really connect. Interesting emotional nuances are handled poorly and remain in the realm of teen cliché. Sweet Valley High with a soupçon of grit.

Verdict: Spare yourself
Genre: YA
Representative quote: “The storm hadn’t been as big as the weatherman predicted, but flurries were still falling outside. The sun was bright, though, so the moderate dusting would be melted by that evening.”

Turn Left at the Strip Mall

One of the great wonders of our widespread, interwebby world is the fact that people from far away can be hired to write articles about the city you live in! Why pay a local when someone with web access can scour a few websites and come up with awkward tips for those seeking vegan chow in Indianapolis, Indiana who also have no means of asking a real person who lives there and also have never heard of Yelp.
An artist's representation of Indianapolis's famed Marott Park

An artist’s representation of Indianapolis’s famed Marott Park

What makes this list so awesome is the clarity with which one can see the pale faced writer, deadline approaching, only a small amount of information and some restaurant websites in hand to cobble things together. “Okay, cool, the place offers a dish with no meat, cheese, or milk — that counts as a vegan restaurant. I don’t want to just copy everything off the website so I’ll search google maps and throw in a landmark and I’m done. Time to drink.” *hits send to submit article*
Thus we find directions based on landmarks no one in Indianapolis has ever discussed:
  • “Situated in the Eastwood neighborhood, WB Pizza (wbpizza.com) sits five minutes from Lake Kesslerwood.”Few who live in Indianapolis have heard of Lake Kesslerwood. I suspect it of being a retention pond as it appears to be associated with a neighborhood of the same name.
  • “Broad Ripple Brewpub (broadripplebrewpub.com) sits approximately half a mile from sprawling Marott Park.”Oh, Marott Park. Known mainly by folks who say “Wow, I never realized there was a park back here.” My friend Evan was trying to think of a better adjective than “sprawling” and could not, but I say that’s mainly because it’s hard to continue to think about Marott Park for more than six seconds at a time.
  • “Tulip Noir (tulipnoircafe.com) sits just half a block from the Northbrook Shopping Center. “I worked at a bookstore within or extremely near to this Northbrook Shopping Center for around five years, and yet I was not able to identify it as an actual place. It is not a point of reference.

Also enjoyable are the many references to a restaurant’s appearance including this gem: “The dining hall features fabric-draped ceilings, white tablecloths and hanging plants.” Way to up the ol’ word count!

Can You Chase the Cat for Me?

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I’m sick again. So sick that I am phoning it in and posting a photo of a pug from something called “funny wall photos.com.”

Much as I like to be a snob, I have to admit that this is a photo of a pug and the pug is sick, the two things I was looking for when I did that Google search a couple minutes ago. I was hoping for a pug with an old fashioned ice cap such as worn in hangover jokes of yore, but beggars can’t be choosers. (And to those of you who ask why I be a snob about Cute Animal Photos, I say Damn Your Eyes, for I have built mine empire on just such frolicsome images of beasts.)

sick

So there it is! For the last couple days, I have been lying around the house in the polar vortex with a fever and general malaise. Sunday I woke up with a nasty fever. Lots of sweating and shivering and audible whining ensued. And to make it all worse, there were no pugs, sick or well. Several cats were about, but they refused to chase themselves.

In Flight

797px-Bosch,_Hieronymus_-_The_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights,_central_panel_-_Detail-_Raven

It’s the Sunday before Christmas and I’m on my way to visit the western branch of my family. The only flight available leaves at 4:30 in the afternoon. Travel time is 8 hours because there is no easy way to get from Indianapolis, Indiana to Boise, Idaho. There’s always a layover.

I’m feeling melancholy, not ready for a trip, having flashbacks to this time last year when I was deep in the midst of personal demon wrestling and spent a good portion of the flight in tears. Crying in public is one of my things. I’m DTC (down to cry) over any heroic animal,  bad day at work, or, as last year, when I’m opening up and then cauterizing some old, nasty emotional wounds. The end results have included greater stability, forgiveness, ambition. The work in progress was a hot mess.

Anyway, this is now and I’m doing better, but currently tired of the cold that’s been dogging me for weeks and overwhelmed by all the things I need to do before I die.

I get the aisle seat I want. This is an open seating flight and there’s a slightly alarming guy in a watch cap and plaid fleece sitting next to the window. Short light brown beard, pale face turned away. I figure him a hipster rather than a Unabomber and snag the seat others have avoided. A space between us and I inwardly scoff at society’s judgment. I got a seat close to the front, suckas. It will shave at least one minute off my time in the plane. He looks like he’s not going to talk to me, also a plus.  It’s a full flight so another guy snags the middle. Everyone in this little three seat area seems to be down with avoiding eye contact, treasured qualities in airplane companions.

I can hear the people behind me jabbering even over This American Life and then a Will Oldham album, neither of which, let’s be honest, are probably zesty enough for flying. A baby starts to cry. An acceptable, if slightly annoying, airplane behavior. I do note that both babies and middle aged people (of which I am one, but let’s just gloss over that fact!) are all a lot quieter when you fly out at 6 a.m. I open Crime and Punishment. It’s the only book I brought so I’m hoping to make a big dent on the flight.

A couple hours in, window seat guy starts to talk. “This is bullshit. Fucking bullshit.” He’s moving around in agitation drumming his hands turning to look behind him. Chatting away. I’m both sorry and glad the plane noise prevents me from hearing more of what he says, which is sprinkled liberally with cursing (not that I have a fucking problem with that). Maybe he secretly has a phone or is recording himself? I sneak looks at him but don’t want to catch his eye.

The guy sitting next to him remains stoically on his Kindle, headphones firmly in place. I’m glad for the buffer.

I get up and go to the bathroom entirely so I can double check Mr. Crazy Talker isn’t on the phone. When I come out a 60ish man points silently at my foot. A paper towel is stuck to it. I thank him enthusiastically and pluck if off, not sure what to do with it. The flight attendant is standing next to me. She silently holds out a trash bag and I cry “Thank you, too. ” I feel momentarily blessed.  Almost to my seat, I make eye contact with Mr. Crazy Talker who is still talking. He’s not on a phone. He’s taken off his hat, hair short, his eyes amber. He’s quiet for a minute after we look at each other. I consider leaning across my buffer asking Mr. Crazy Talker if he’s okay and decide I don’t want to open that topic for conversation.

The captain comes on to say we’re passing near Grand Junction, Colorado. The flight is going to take a bit longer as Las Vegas airport isn’t ready for us to arrive. Which sets the guy off again. I hear something about the plane being “So fucking slow.” I start thinking about Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment, wondering how many criminals are sitting on the plane with me. And how many murderers I run across in the course of my life without ever suspecting. Also? Planes are not slow.

Then the guy quiets down, leaning his head against the seat in front of him. The baby starts to cry again. I think that Mr Crazy Talker probably just having a panic attack, just needs to talk. If I were sitting beside him perhaps he’d be talking to me and I’d be at his mercy, and he’d seem either more or less crazy. The captain comes on to say we’ll begin our descent in ten minutes. Mr Crazy Talker spits to himself like a cat, thrashes once, relaxes back toward the seat. I remember the trip last year, where tears coursed down my face and no one seemed to notice. Maybe they noticed.

Hijinks!

In place of  your regularly scheduled complaints about the Indianapolis weather (seriously though, it is going to be minus 3 again and I have barely left the house), we interrupt to bring you a cat pushing a clearly nervous dog aboard a  toy horse.

Sound of radio station changing, weird high pitched radio noise, then soothing, smooth tunes. Ahhhh. Hijinks make everything better.

cat pushing dog

 

Your Sunday Comic

This one made me laugh for a really long time. Because I laugh harder when something is also sad. And when it contains the phrase in the caption of this comic.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is a pretty great webcomic. Themes include: human behavior viewed in a scientific manner, the future of mankind, religion, science, jokes. There are no ongoing characters. Lots of diversity, which I like.

that is what she said

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

next best thingOur physically scarred, emotionally sheltered heroine lives in LA with her zesty, protective grandma. She’s worked her ass off to create a TV pilot — and it’s picked up. But her sitcom is a bore. Her outrage at its dumbing down by studio execs rings false when her product is already second rate.

The obligatory romance seems genuine but the also-obligatory misunderstandings are painfully, boringly, numbingly dragged out. Insider views into Hollywood life, some funny scenes, and snappy characters don’t make up for the book’s basic dullness.

I’ve enjoyed essays, tweets, and anti-Jonathan Franzen attitude from Weiner and was expecting better.

Verdict: Don’t bother, but it won’t kill you either
Genre: Chick Lit

Dear Gubment

I have wrote to my  governor, who is backing an  amendment to add antigay-marriage bullshit and bigotry to our STATE CONSTITUTION. That’s gonna look great in fifty (make that five) years. Hey there, Alabama!

pence

My friend Jenny, who also wrote to him, has received an eloquent reply, which includes a college-freshman-level -from-time-immemorial-style quote. “For thousands of years, societies around the world have held that marriage, as the foundation of the family, is the union between a man and a woman. I share this view.”

Anywho(sier), here is my letter. Is this cool? It feels a little humble-braggy, but I guess that’s what blogging is all about?

Governor Pence

I want you to know that I am strongly opposed to HJR-3. I am an educated adult (straight since that seems to matter to you) female who has a job and pays taxes in Indiana. I live in an urban neighborhood where I improve the community.

I am opposed to this law for moral reasons and because I have been a straight ally of my LGBT friends for many years. But also because it is bad for the state from an economic standpoint and makes us look backwards.

I am liberal but have great respect for Republican ideals of lower spending and freedom from big government. How is this law adhering to either? It will tie the state up in expensive litigation for years. You must know that is a fact. It is also intrusive, imposing religious ideals onto a state constitution.

I have been dedicated to staying in Indianapolis because I have many friends and family here and because I love this city. The fact that my state government is considering damaging our state by proposing to amend our constitution to entrench bigotry makes me question that dedication.

Thanks for your time

Jen Fu

Buck up!

This French bulldog, who lives in Seattle and is named Sir Charles Barkley (um!), is lecturing me because I have been moping around, feeling stressed out and anxious on account of a few really-not-that-bad-but-not-that-great curveballs thrown my way over the last few months. It was all stuff I could handle, Sir Charles says.

And also? I live in a world where a French bulldog hanging in a baby swing exists.

However, I’m still pissed I had to buy a new furnace. Sorry, Sir Charles, we can’t all be perfect. I’m ready to be as happy as you are, though. Sign me up.

Just stop overthinking everything, Sir Charles tells me.

And I’m like fine, okay. I’m gonna have a French bulldog in a swing kinda day today.

Picture: Caters

Picture: Caters

From telegraph.co.uk via  allcreatures.tumblr.com.

Older posts

© 2017 Jen Bingham

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑