mimi smartypants
Seriously, though: what's with the penguins?

urge overspill

I have a hard enough time noticing what clothes are put on my body in the morning, much less underwear. I own all kinds of underwear, spanning the spectrum from the much-washed and much-stretched to the occasional thongs to the goofy patterned stuff. But even if you have a lot of underwear, you are pretty familiar with all your underwear, right? You might not be able to eidetically describe each pair of knickers in the drawer, but you would recognize a pair of your underwear if you ran into it at a cocktail party.*

(*I can imagine all sorts of scenarios for this:

1. The first one I thought of, because I am odd like that, was literally running into your underwear at a cocktail party. Hey underwear how's it going oh not too bad. (What does your underwear drink? Is your underwear into fine single-malt scotch? Fizzy girl drinks?)

2. Or there could be some sort of hanky-panky at the cocktail party, some groping in the guest bathroom maybe, and to your surprise the groping recipient is wearing a pair of your underwear. “Hey!” you exclaim, stopping the action. “That's my underwear!”

3. If you are the host, how about this creepy decorating idea? Select a victim off your guest list, break into his or her house, and steal all the underwear. Then decorate your house with it in prominent places and invite him/her to the party.)

This normal, baseline feeling of underwear familiarity was why I was quite shocked when I went to the bathroom at work for the first time today and noticed I was wearing underwear with pictures of fruit all over it. Carmen Miranda underwear! Fruit salad all over my area! It took me a long, unsettling minute to place this underwear. It seemed foreign to me. Then I remembered a slight manic-episode-slash-blackout MONTHS AGO, wherein I had impulsively bought some goofy patterned underwear, washed it, stuck it in the back of the drawer, and forgot all about the incident. I guess the new underwear has finally worked its way to the front. Mystery solved.

If you missed all the Jayson Blair flack, this is the most succinct wrap-up of it I have read yet. Although I suppose I am sympathetic, in an abstract way, to his “personal problems,” which may or may not include mental illness and substance abuse, he sounds like a real piece of work. The sort of person who lies about EVERYTHING. Check this out:


The paper was putting out a spring-break guide, and Blair disappeared without handing in a story he was working on. “We kept paging him and paging him,” Newman says. Blair didn't show up until the next day. “He said he almost died from gas poisoning when his roommate left the burner on. At the end of the meeting … he told me his doctor said he needed to rest. I told him to go home. After he left, someone leaned over and asked, 'Do you believe him?' I said no. She said, 'Good, neither do I'.” That night, Newman and others realized the Maryland campus doesn't even have gas stoves. Later, when Newman confronted Blair, he offered to take her to his apartment. “But when I said, 'Let's go now,' he said we had more important things to talk about,” she says. Soon after, Blair resigned from the paper for “personal reasons.”

Sheesh.

I wish there were little soundproof booths on the street, one every other city block or so, where you could just pop in, close the door, and SCREAM SCREAM SCREAM. Because there is a lengthy, buckets-of-e-mail-generating debate going on in my office about the proper typographical way to present degrees of freedom, and if I knew needlepoint I would embroider HELLO PEOPLE LET'S PRIORITIZE on one hundred little pillows and deliver one to each debate participant.

Last night I went out to the movies, yes I did. I saw Spellbound, a documentary about the National Spelling Bee. That is me in a salty nutshell, the kind of girl who opts out of movies where hot chicks in vinyl catsuits manipulate reality to do some nifty kung fu fighting, and instead sits enraptured watching footage of spelling bees. It is great, and you should see it if you can. The eighth-grade documentary subjects are mostly allowed to tell their own stories, and the footage of kids almost wiping out on difficult words is nerve-wracking in its intensity. The spelling bee is an odd phenomenon—it really boils down to pure competition for its own sake, since no one really derives any particular joy from memorizing word lists, the way they might from sports or music. On the other hand, except for the kids who have tutors and computer programs and yes, spelling coaches (can you imagine?), it is a fairly egalitarian thing. With a dictionary, a lot of spare time, some natural aptitude, and some luck (because you can't predict what words you will get), any one of the kids in the movie could have won the whole thing. After the movie S. and I went out for tea (which turned out to be a mistake because with the caffeine plus the racing thoughts about linguistics I barely slept all night). I spelled words to myself all the way home.

There are lots of reasons not to eat gorillas and apes. The “too close to home” or “they're too smart to eat” arguments seem kind of specious to me: so it's okay to eat the dumb animals? The conservation argument is better. Gorillas reproduce very slowly, like humans, so obviously any widespread hunting of them will rapidly result in species loss. If you are still bound and determined to BBQ a gorilla on your new gas grill, however, maybe this will persuade you: many, perhaps most, monkeys, are infected with simian immunodeficiency virus, and there is some evidence that this virus could transfer to humans. Even scarier, if a human with one of the two strains of HIV is exposed (through butchering or cooking) to monkey meat containing SIV, the viruses could combine to create something completely new, completely scary, and completely fucked up. Here's more.

Also, monkeyphonecall.

The other thing keeping me awake is my recent exposure to a language (not a monkey) virus, by somewhere reading this sentence in a book of essays about how postmodern language “plays with itself.” Ever since then my brain has been undulating and flapping like bedsheets on the line, thinking about how postmodern language plays with itself until it goes blind, or until it is sticky and exhausted, or until it can no longer be satisfied by anything other than itself, and then language wipes itself off with some old t-shirt lying on the floor, and then language puts its pants back on. Coming soon to either your inbox or your tenure review committee: “I'm A Horny Semiotics Slut: Cum Watch Me Deconstruct The Signifying System On My Webcam.”

—mimi smartypants is for novelty purposes only.