29 October 2003


Browsing through www.yourdictionary.com, I noticed that Hors d'oeuvre was there! I was just thinking of it yesterday; one of my favorite words.

When I was younger, I called them "whores day vour" and thought Hors d'oeuvre was different from "or-derbs." Two different words, two different spellings, but the same meaning. Like sick and ill.

My mother cleared things up one family party when she was serving the elegant pigs in a blanket and potato puffs we so cherished when we were younger.

And so, time to eat! Not tapas, but Hors d'oeuvres!

Today's Word:
Hors d'oeuvre (Noun)

Pronunciation: [or-'dêrv]
Definition 1: A small savory appetizer served before a meal or with cocktails.
Usage 1: The plural of today's word is straightforward (hors d'oeuvres); it is the singular that throws us the curve. The [h] isn't pronounced in the first word and there is a superabundance of vowels in the second. And why do we need that apostrophe in the middle? Still, we have to spell it correctly, so here is the opportunity to learn how for any who might not have done so already.
Suggested usage: Of course, the object in the creation of hors d'oeuvres is to incorporate the most exotic ingredients obtainable: "She served a rich assortment of hors d'oeuvres made from small ugly creatures on the periphery of the animal kingdom that we would ordinarily try to avoid." However, since hors d'oeuvres are tasty tidbits, they lend themselves deliciously to metaphor, "Stepping on Claudine's toe as he helped her into the car was but the hors d'oeuvre to the resplendent feast of faux pas (blunders) Humphrey regaled her with the first time they went out together."
Etymology: Today's word means "outside of work" in French. When it originally entered English at the beginning of the 18th century, it was used as an adverb and noun meaning "(something) outside the ordinary." Later, the meaning settled on what was at the time called a "whet," a savory morsel served outside the regular course of a meal. The word "oeuvre" has a rich artistic heritage. Not only does it refer to culinary art, but it is the natural descendant of Latin "opera," the plural of opus "work" which, in the phrase opus magnum "great work," refers to the most important work of any artist. (Speaking of which, we must recognize the great work of our old friend Dr. Richard R. Everson, who prompted us to write up today's word and as he has so many others.)
—Dr. Language, yourDictionary.com

Each day yourDictionary.com offers a description of a word prepared by a linguistic expert. Each Word of the Day is an authoritative guide to the pronunciation, definition, and etymology of the word with caveats about any pitfalls in its usage. We even give you some ideas for using it in innovative ways. And since it's from the world's most comprehensive language portal, you can be assured it will help you master the language and keep your vocabulary growing.


28 October 2003

please note:

also at my mother's prom, my father insisted upon bringing her to the coolest after-prom place. (i don't know, i went to a club afterwards, and then the beach. isn't that pretty much standard? except in boulder, colorado, the kids hang out in the pearl street mall.)

my father's idea was to go to the airport. i'm not sure what this involved, i guess watching the planes maybe. (a la wayne's world? i hope not!) apparently everyone in his high school did this.

my mom was not happy about this decision but went along with it anyway. (why mom?) no one was there and she was stuck with the guy with a dodge dart and brown shoes/black pants.

and she's still with him! must be something pretty special...

26 October 2003


the loving courtship of kathy russell and ken yanek

december 22, 1969
she met him at a bowling alley, where he was working. he said there weren’t any lanes available. she was with his friend lynn. after she left, he asked around about the mysterious blonde, but a mutual friend denied him access to her phone number, saying, “if you really want it, you can get it.” he called lynn to get the phone number of her blonde friend. lynn thought he was calling to ask her on a date, not kathy.

when he went to pick her up for their first date, which was a night at her parents’ house, he spent most of the night playing ping-pong with her father.

“he wore an old-man button-down sweater vest. i hate those,” she remembered. he felt it was “in vogue,” with leather trim on the pockets.

the first valentine he ever gave her said, “you’re one in a million, the wrong one.” he thought it was funny. she didn’t. he also gave her a stuffed rat so big she could use it as a pillow.

“i almost dumped him because he was sometimes annoying. but i figured i should stay with him because he wrote me really nice poems and i thought there must be something more than meets the eye.”

he said, “open the glove compartment. there’s something for you in there.” there was a necklace box from a jeweler’s. she opened it. inside was a rubber snake.

in the poems he wrote for her, with titles such as “true love was found” and “close your eyes and sleep,” he called her a “mystical woman” and thanked fate for placing them together.

for her prom, he wore black pants and brown shoes. she made everyone who took pictures of them not include his shoes in the pictures. also, he drove them to her prom in his brown dodge dart. her best friend’s boyfriend drove a camaro. she really wanted a man with a corvette. but she didn’t have a car so what could she say?

when he proposed, they were at bay park. a friend of his gave his fiancé “a rock so big she couldn’t even hold up her hand properly.” this inspired ken to say, “here’s a rock for you.” it was a rock from the beach. he wrote “i love you” on it. he said, “this is your rock until i can afford a ring.” he gave her the ring a year later. they were going to buy it from the diamond exchange where he wore a hawaiian shirt and baggy shorts and sandals with socks and nobody would help them at first because who would expect a man who wore socks with sandals to buy a ring? but they didn’t buy it there because everyone told them what a rip-off the diamond exchange is so they got it down on canal street.

29 years later, they’re still married.

the bowling alley is now a toilet factory.

23 October 2003


I know it's not a real review, but everyone keeps asking how my job is. Well, it's good. So I figured I'd review it.

What I do...I'm a library assistant. I do stuff including photocopy articles to be put in the archives, file stuff, sort the mail and log it into our magazine database, catalog books, work on projects and update the magazine archives. It's good; not the super-perfect library job I was seeking but that probably doesn't exist and this is a great job that's a good learning experience for library school. And it pays well.


It sucks. I work at the bottom of Manhattan; I take the 6 to Bowling Green or the E to WTC or the A to Fulton; either way, it requires two or three trains. It takes about 40 minutes. Yes, I really hate the G train. But it's not so bad. I'm thinking of that studio in the East Village that could've been mine, how nice it would be....ah, but even with a 15 minute commute, I'd still have roaches. Yuck!


They're all nice. Very VERY NICE. They're good to me, especially my boss; the idea that if I'm good to you, you're good to me. Etc. I really love librarians. They're always the coolest, you know that. Just think of Mary in Party Girl.

Different from the commute; it's right down by Wall Street. I pass the Stock Exchange on my lunch hour and can see the ferry from my job. It's a very corporate-y environment, a much different vibe from Midtown or Chelsea, where I've usually worked. But it doesn't seem as stressed or cranky as Midtown; I almost like it better. But yeah, Chelsea's much better. Food is $$, as anywhere else, but it's not bad.

Ultra-modern with super-$$ architecture that may not be function, but attractive. VERY different from Naropa (not to mention that it's corporate...hahah, who'd've think? Cheryl is corporate! But the setting is stylish and durable and comfortable. The ergonomics!
Another plus: I can see the water from my window! Yay! And if you walk down the hall, you can see the Statue of Liberty. By my desk, there are huge windows--I get lots and lots of sunlight and like to stare out the window.

Casual corporate.

The company I work for uses laptops---barely any desktops. You lock your laptop in a drawer at night. Makes easy for meetings..."well, let me just find that file here, I have it on my computer."


21 October 2003


I've always been a fan of old Quentin since the old days, so I thought for sure I would adore this movie like all his others. Let's just say I left the movie before it was over, and I've never done that. (I barely watch movies as it is, but hey...)

Back in my MFA program at Naropa, one of my writing teachers had us watch reservoir Dogs to study the dialogue--it was that good, according to Keith Abbott and others. Yes it is. A friend of mine when I was younger was obsessed with Pulp Fiction so I've only seen that about four times...

My sister called me and told me she just saw the worst movie.
"What movie?" I asked her.
KILL BILL, she told me. "It's SO violent."
I laughed, "That's Quentin." Melissa did not like a bit of gore, but I guess it's standard in movies, like it or not. (And I don't.) Just look away when they're slicing the ear off and then you're good to go.

Later, my neighbor told me that supposedly, Kill Bill has been labeled the most violent movie ever, and has used the most blood in a movie. That's not a fact though.

The movie opens with a closeup of Uma spattered in blood. Then you hear (maybe see? I closed my eyes) her get shot. Then credits.

Next Uma and this other woman kick ass martial arts style--good effects but a bit too bloody for me. Apparently, this woman was one of the few who tried to kill Uma and company at her wedding. In the end, Uma (the bride, I can't remember her name in the movie, but the bride is what we all see on the subway platforms, so you know what I mean) ends up killing this other woman--in front of her own daughter.

Artistically, great. The writing, director, cameras, wonderful. I'm not a bona fide film critic but it was wonderful techniques. I know film school students who idolize Tarrantino. The story is NOT in chronological order, which makes it more interesting, Quentin-style.

So then you go onto the wedding. Basically, the groom, bride, and others at the wedding are all shot. The bride is the only one who lives. And yes, she was preggers. :( Covered in blood. Disgusting. Too much blood.

There's a story of one violated character whose horribly violent childhood is told in the form of animation--very creative. However, these cartoons were sick--too much blood. Yuck.

Eventually, I had to leave. The amount of blood was too much for me to stomach. Instead, I went across the street to Sephora and bought eye makeup remover. Better than the movie.

When Trevor came out, he met me on the corner and told me it got bloodier. He liked it. I don't want to spoil the ending and tell you what he already told me, but I'm supposed to be reviewing this anyway. But I can't review it because it made me too upset. However, Mr. T, I love your movies except this one was too violent for me (and others). You're still great.

Rating Scale:
Creativity: A+
Violence: beyond the extremes
Overall: 10 if you like violence, 1 if you don't, 5 if you are neutral

17 October 2003


Douglas Coupland is clearly my absolute favorite author. He’s been witty and clever throughout his works. Instead of offering in-depth reviews of all his works, here’s a brief description of all of his titles. If you want further suggestions, email me at cheriecat@aol.com

Generation X (1991)

Featuring photographs, quotes in the like of Barbara Kruger, this is the book that made Coupland known. Fabulous. Sometimes, however, the columns make you wonder where to put the bookmark.

Shampoo Planet (1992)

Coupland’s second published novel is story of an image-obsessed young man ready to profit from our consumerist country—born to a hippie mom. Hilarious!

Life After God (1994)
A novel in several short sections. Complete with mini-drawings here in there. With characters named Pup-tent, this shows you life in all its forms, gritty and not. Let’s try to stop time, the characters insist, only to learn, no, it’s truly impossible. Most importantly, like all of Coupland’s works, but especially LAG, he makes you think.

Microserfs (1995)
A young “Micro-nerd” who works at a computer company, who ends up wooing a coworker, another microserf. Incidents involving a coworker who barricades himself in his office (Hilarious—he sustains himself by the flat food—including Kraft individually-wrapped sliced cheese—his coworkers slip under the door.), as well as lists, emails, and other formats make this read entertaining!

Polaroids from the Dead (1996)
Beautiful photographs. Includes true stories (oooh! Nonfiction!) with some short stories about 90’s deadheads and others.

Lara’s Book: Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider Phenomenon (with Kip Ward; 1998)
This book is actually mostly a comic book that Coupland does the words for. It’s not a true comic book; it has beautiful graphics and Coupland’s writing makes it take off.

Girlfriend in a Coma (1998)

**My favorite of Coupland’s novels!**
In senior year of high school, one mysterious night, Karen slips into a coma for seemingly unexplainable reasons. Seventeen years later, having had a baby with Richard via caesarean (the conception occurred hours before she fell into a coma), Karen wakes up and is introduced to a completely different world with no more Communism, the Berlin Wall down, microwaves, and airbags. You read it, because if I go into any more, I’ll spoil it for you!

Miss Wyoming (1999)

Former beauty queen/actor survives a plane crash but hides to avoid her overbearing mother while a major movie director hallucinates about Susan, and is convinced she’s the one. Wild adventures lead them apart, and together, and apart.

City of Glass (2000)
A book with gorgeous full-color photos by various photographers. Coupland takes us on the tour of his hometown, Vancouver, and convinces us why we should love it. I’m ready to move there myself!

All Families are Psychotic (2001)

Hilarious! A family reunion when overachiever and astronaut Sarah is taking off. Her divorced parents, stepmother, and two brothers all come to witness, with girlfriends, wives, and an insane adventure involving illegal money, diseases, and sneaking around.

School Spirit (the Encounters Series) with Pierre Huyghe (2003)

Pierre Huyghe is creating a series, Encounters, where he works with one individual on a chosen theme. Coupland picked “school spirit,” and it’s interesting the way Huyghe’s photographs complement Coupland’s words. Wow.

Hey Nostradamus! (2003)

His newest work tells the tale of Jason, who never has gotten over his first love, Cheryl, murdered in an incident highly resonating of the 1998 massacre in Columbine High School, Littleton, CO. Told in voices of different characters, it really helps to fill out the story in a rounder way, even though sometimes I don’t believe Reg. And of course I don’t like Heather, Jason’s girlfriend in a later time. (Long lives the murdered heroine, Cheryl—not to mention that we share the same name.)

13 October 2003

Music for Torching by A.M. Homes

A.M. Homes is slowly but surely becoming my favorite author. I began with Things You Should Know, then The Safety of Objects, followed by In a Country of Mothers. But none captivated me as Music for Torching did.

When a book makes me cry, it's powerful. When I can't put it down, it's a classic (in my mind). This novel is the story of one family: Elaine, the tired and unthanked housewife; Paul, the philandering and sleazy husband; and two sons, one the angel and one the brat. While it seems like it's a story that's been told dozens of times, it hasn't.

Too tired to cook dinner one night, Elaine asks Paul to barbecue. After some joking around with lighter fluid, Paul begins seducing Elaine by their barbecue. What happens next results in a fire that Elaine and Paul hope to purify her and start her anew: but which ends with both hilarious and devastating results. (Lingers on the theme that you can't run away from your troubles; they just follow you.)

I won't spoil anything, but the characters encountered include: a very, very sexy cop; the perfect housewife who puts Elaine to shame until Elaine really gets to know her; a "date" who manages to convince Paul to alter even his private area, among other humorous characters.

A.M. Homes brings these characters to life--and you can relate to them. Humorous, delightful. Even the end, when a tragic incident occurs involving a school hostage situation, when I was crying, still, I was thanking A.M. Homes for delivering such a powerful and beautiful novel.