Orgy Porgy, Puddin’ and Pie

A few weeks ago, a discussion began on Brandon’s site about the cult of comments, and how as bloggers, we can become obsessed with getting this immediate feedback from our writing. We debated our fascination with, ambivalence toward, need for, love of, and internal conflict surrounding the instant gratification that can come from having this dynamic interaction with groups of relative strangers.
From this topic of dynamic interaction with groups of relative strangers, certain individuals drew the obvious connection, which of course, is the orgy. And on the seventh day, bloggers created the comment orgy. Because I love lists and appreciate structure, let me quickly explain the rules of engagement:

  1. Blogger is tagged to write an entry for comment orgy.
  2. Blogger writes an entry.
  3. Blogger strives to get as many comments as possible on said entry.
  4. Blogger passes the orgy baton (Eww.) to another blogger of his/her choosing.
  5. If blogger fails to get 100 comments, the orgy dies.
  6. If the orgy dies, shame will fall on that blogger’s house. Forever.

I was so excited to get tagged because I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I might actually enjoy leaving comments on other people’s blogs almost as much as I enjoy writing my own blog. Leaving comments on other sites is akin to running up and down a high-rise apartment building, kicking open random doors, yelling something funny or clever or poignant, and then running off to the next apartment.
I get to leave before anyone discovers that I’m telling the same story I tell at the Christmas party every year. Or that the joke they all laughed at was something I heard on late night television last week. Or that the top button of my pants is undone because they’re too tight for me now, and I’m hoping my long sweater covers that up.
My predecessors in this groundbreaking endeavor – Brandon, Romy, Pea, and Jen – each taught me the ways of the comment orgy. In the brief time we spent together playing the lute, feasting on wild boar, feeding each other peeled grapes, and eventually vomiting in a trough side by side, I learned so much about what it means to build a community through interaction via comments.
Having each successfully hosted a comment orgy at their respective sites, they pulled me aside to make sure I understood how these things worked.
“Talk about boobs,” said Brandon. He repeated this over, and over, and over.
“Yeah, that actually worked really well for me,” Romy added.
Pea shook her head, “I just talked about Salma Hayek’s boobs. Who can resist?”
“No, no,” Jen interjected, “The fastest way to 100 comments is to post a picture of your own boobs. That’s what I did.”
I tossed my throat-tickling feather in the trash, rinsed my hands in rose water, wiped my mouth on my toga, and said, “Guys, hey – it’s not that I don’t appreciate your advice, because I totally do. But when have you ever known me to talk about boobs? And post a picture of them? Come on, people! I wasn’t raised that way.”
So really, I’d like to think that we can start a lively and diverse discussion by talking about more intellectual endeavors, like politics or religion. I’d like to raise the level of discourse on this site to at least one notch above gutter. Frankly, I refuse to stoop to the level of showing pictures of boobs just to solicit more comments.
With that in mind, I thought we could start off this orgy with a different type of exhibition: one of art, rather than flesh. So below please find a series of still life photographs I was recently inspired to take as a tribute to my love of blogging. I trust that this will launch us into a more high-brow discussion of art, rather than a sinful display of lusty decadence.
Let the high-class orgy begin!

Mystery Photo Quiz #4

“Anyway, that’s seriously the last time I’m going out with them. It just always gets out of control. So, what are you up to tonight?”
“Uh, I don’t know. I think I’m going to work on a mystery photo quiz for tomorrow.”
“Cool. What’s this one about?”
“If I told you, it wouldn’t be a mystery now, would it? Don’t worry though, it’s gonna be a really easy one.”
“Yeah, you’ll figure them all out in no time.”
“See, Jen, I hate when you say that, because it’s like I can’t win. If I guess them all, it’s only because they’re easy. And if I don’t get them right, it’s like you think I’m dumb.”
“No, but… no. Of course I don’t. That’s not what I meant…”
“You just shouldn’t say anything about it. Now I don’t even want to guess.”
“But… no, I mean… it’s really not that easy. Some of them will be hard. I just… it always seems obvious when I take the pictures…”
“Yeah, well maybe I’ll start my own mystery photo quizzes and we’ll see how well you do.”
“Don’t be that way.”
“Yeah, not so fun being on the other side, is it?”
“No. It’s not fun at all. Mystery photo quizzes suck.”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”
So with that, I give you the most difficult mystery photo quiz in the entire universe. If you so much as get even one correct, you are smarter than 99.7% of the population. But really, I think I already knew that about you. Good luck!
If anyone guesses this one correctly, they can have my blog*
*By “have” my blog, I mean read it whenever they want, from the comfort of their own home.
OH WAIT! Just in case you guessed the Bonus Photo, you also have to get this one right. Then you can really have my blog**
**By “really have” my blog, I mean bookmark it as a favorite or add it to Bloglines.
SUPER DOUBLE BONUS QUESTION: What is the theme of these pictures? [Hint: it might not be as obvious as it initially seems. The eagle has landed. A red cow walks backwards in the moonlight. This blog will self destruct in thirty seconds.]

More love

One of the things I so enjoy about my friend Vivian is her keen ability to weave a quote from some famous writer into normal conversation. It makes me feel intelligent and arty, like I’m drinking wine with Picasso and Hemingway in Gertrude Stein’s Paris salon. Except when Viv quotes Tyra Banks from America’s Next Top Model, because then I just feel fierce.
It’s a skill I could never possess because I happen to have a keen ability to forget things shortly after reading them. I inherited this talent from my mother, I suspect, who has seen The Maltese Falcon no less than thirty times and still cannot remember how it ends.
So when I was chatting with Vivian this weekend, and she quoted the line, “More love now than last year,” I had to know more.
“More love now than last year? What a beautiful line! Who said that?”
“I know, isn’t it lovely? Muriel Rukeyser wrote that. She’s one of my favorite poets.”
I repeated the line softly to myself, and said, “I need that to be my new mantra. 2006 is going to be all about ‘More love now than last year.’ It’s perfect – and it can apply in so many different ways. Thanks, Viv!”
Last year, Natasha declared that 2005 would be the year of “Less talk, more action,” so I think this is the perfect progression.
As soon as I got off the phone, I started searching to find the source of this line that Viv had quoted, and discovered that the poem in its entirety is even more perfect than that one line. So although perhaps a bit early for a New Year’s resolution, this is my simple wish for all of us: more love now than last year.
This Place in the Ways
Having come to this place
I set out once again
on the dark and marvelous way
from where I began:
belief in the love of the world,
woman, spirit, and man.
Having failed in all things
I enter a new age
seeing the old ways as toys,
the houses of a stage
painted and long forgot;
and I find love and rage.
Rage for the world as it is
but for what it may be
more love now than last year
and always less self-pity
since I know in a clearer light
the strength of the mystery.
And at this place in the ways
I wait for song.
My poem-hand still, on the paper,
all night long.
Poems in throat and hand, asleep,
and my storm beating strong!
- Muriel Rukeyser

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

It had all the makings of an historic occasion. I was meeting up with fellow blogger Jessica from Daughter of Opinion for dinner and drinks. Jessica is a successful stockbroker and was in town for a big stockbroker convention. Her hotel was conveniently located within walking distance of my office, so we decided to meet after work on Tuesday.
I arrived at her hotel promptly at 6:00pm, saw Jessica lounging in front of a gigantic Christmas tree in the lobby, and walked up to greet her, “Jessica! So good to meet you! Hope you’re not too tired out from your stockbroker conference. I want you to know that tonight has all the makings of an historic occasion.”
She looked a bit confused, glanced to left and right, then stood up and said, “Jenny?”
“Yeah – of course it’s me! Okay, so about this historic evening. Are you aware of the fact that right here, in your very hotel is the famed Trader Vic’s Bar and Restaurant, the bar that invented the world-renowned Mai-Tai? And are you also aware of the fact that Trader Vic’s is closing at the end of this year, never to return to Chicago? You probably aren’t aware of this because you were on the trading floor all day, and the announcement was just published in the Sun-Times this morning. This could be our only opportunity to taste a Mai-Tai the way the Polynesian gods intended it to be made.”
Jessica was surprisingly easy-going for a stockbroker, and said, “Hey, whatever you have planned sounds great. I’m totally easy-going.”
“But that’s not all! Are you also aware of the fact that hometown hero Marshall Field’s department store was recently bought out by the evil Macy’s empire, and that this will be the very last official Marshall Field’s Christmas window display? We have to go admire their world-renowned window displays before they desecrate the stores with the Macy’s logo. It’s just up the street.”
“Sounds great. Like I said, I’m totally easy-going.”
Part One: Dinner
We went to an Italian restaurant near her hotel that is known for its phenomenal cannoli and exclusively Russian waitstaff. After a lively discussion about jobs and travel and blogs and family, I was ready to move on to this world-renowned cannoli. Sadly, I now suspect that they only have one world-renowned cannoli at this restaurant and simply pass it from table to table, knowing full well that nothing, short of a diamond bladed jigsaw, could crack the impenetrable exterior.
At one point, Jessica tried to use a pepper mill as a makeshift mallet to drive a fork into the cannoli shell for me, but to no avail. I eventually just had to scoop out the filling and leave the exoskeletal remains for the next unsuspecting diner. With her stockbroker’s keen foresight, Jessica wisely ordered the cheesecake.
When the bill arrived, Jessica whipped out her corporate American Express Platinum card, which I protested with a dramatic, “No! You’re not going to pay for dinner – it’s on me!”
She waved me off with a toss of her perfectly manicured hand and said, “Jen, relax. I’m expensing it. As long as we talk business, it’s not a problem.”
“Well then, let’s get down to business. What’s that you say? Porkbelly futures are down and we’re closing at margin? I can’t call that! I’m a bear in a bull market! I’ll lose my shirt! Buy! Sell! Buy! Sell!”
Jessica raised one eyebrow and said, “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I’m talking stockbroker lingo. We’re doing business. Wink. Wink.”
“Uh, Jen. I’m not a stockbroker.”
“Sure you are. You’re here for a stockbroker convention.”
“No. I’m in sales. I’m working a tradeshow. But even though I’m not a broker, I’m pretty sure that nothing you just said made any sense.”
“Can we still expense this?”
“Of course.”
“Makes sense to me.”
Part Two: Marshall Field’s
For many in the city of Chicago, the loss of the Marshall Field’s name is a big one. For over a century, families have gathered in front of the store windows to see their world-renowned Christmas displays. Mine was not was one of those families, however, so I had never seen the glorious displays with mine own eyes.
After finishing off our wine and coffees, Jessica and I ventured into the blustery night to witness first-hand the elaborate decorations at Field’s. I was certain that nothing would kick-start the holiday cheer like a good old-fashioned Christmas window display. As I pushed past the crowds to get near the first window, I looked in and saw this:
I glanced over at Jessica who smiled politely and said, “Oh, how pretty. I guess that’s… Cinderella? And… oh, is that a lizard by her feet? I guess I didn’t remember there being a lizard in Cinderella.”
I just stared at the display, my faced pressed so close to the window that a circle of fog appeared on the glass with each frustrated exhale. “Are you kidding me? This is hideous! What the hell kind of Christmas display is this? That doesn’t look like Cinderella, it looks like that one puppet… that ventriloquist puppet. What’s her name?”
“Yeah! These are horrific! What, is this Marshall Field’s final ‘F* You’ to the city of Chicago? And what does Cinderella even have to do with Christmas in the first place?”
“Yeah, good question!”
“I mean, where’s Santa? Where are the reindeer? No snowmen? No bags of gifts? Not even a lousy glittery snowflake? This is an outrage!”
As we continued on past the windows, hoping for some improvement, we realized that we had started at the wrong end. The way we were walking, the story of Cinderella was being told backwards, beginning with a handsome prince stealing sparkly glass slippers from his young bride, and ending in a depressing portrait of sister-on-sister abuse.
A fitting conclusion to this grotesque Theatre of the Macabre holiday display.
Ever the trooper, Jessica tried to control my rant by changing the subject, “Oh! That stepsister looks like the woman from Wicked! Have you seen that?”
Semi-oblivious to her question, I felt a tug at my sleeve, and turned around, “Huh? Wicked? Oh, yeah. A bunch of us saw it a while ago.”
“How did you like it?”
“Um, I thought it was really good. Great costumes and really cool set. But so many of my friends had seen it in New York and thought it was amazing that I think it was just built up too much. You know how sometimes someone keeps telling you how great something is going to be, that when you finally see it, it just falls flat?”
“Kind of like how I kept hearing about that world-renowned Marshall Field’s display?”
“You’re funny. Especially for a stockbroker.”
Part Three: Mai-Tai
Finally the moment had arrived for us to taste a piece of history and settle into a couple world-renowned Trader Vic’s Mai-Tais. I grabbed a table near the bar, ordered our drinks, then bee-lined for the ladies room. By the time I got back, the drinks were ready and waiting.
“Oh, Jen. You totally missed it! The bartender set the drinks down and said, ‘I give you hope Mai-Tai. I give you fortune Mai-Tai.’ Then he left without explaining anything.”
“I give you hope Mai-Tai? Fortune Mai-Tai? What does that even mean?”
“Don’t know. He was very mysterious.”
“Well… give me the fortune Mai-Tai, ‘cause I’ve got nothing but hope. And you’re a stockbroker, so you don’t need fortune.”
“Jenny, I’m not a stockbroker.”
“Ha. Yeah, right.”
After a few elaborately staged photo shoots, we toasted our good health, hope, and fortune, and took our first sip of history. We had no idea that history tasted quite so bitter.
I grimaced a bit, smacked my lips a little and asked, “Do you like it?”
“I don’t know. Maybe this is one of those drinks that you need to have a couple sips of before you really get the true taste. Let’s give it a minute.”
A minute and three more sips went by, and it still tasted like I was drinking a glass of bile on the rocks, with a lime twist.
“Jess – I don’t like it. Mai-Tais are nasty! Ugh. Sorry ‘bout that. Guess I’m starting to understand why Trader Vic’s is closing.”
I looked over and realized that Jessica had already drained her glass, and was busy stabbing a piece of pineapple with a clear plastic sword. “Yeah, I didn’t really like it all that much, either. I definitely wouldn’t get another one. Unless you did.”
After scanning the menu for a few more minutes to find an alternate drink, we realized that each of the 74 drinks on the menu was some slight variation on a Mai-Tai, so we took this as our sign to call it a night.
So that evening, I learned the cold, hard lesson that building things up too much in your head can be self-defeating. You only set yourself up for heartbreak and disappointment because the reality can never live up to the fantasy. The cannoli was stale and nothing like my mother’s. The scenes from the Marshall Field’s window display are certain to pop up in some recurring nightmares I will discuss with my therapist over the next decade. The Trader Vic’s world-renowned Mai-Tai gave me sour belly.
But through all these shattered dreams, one bright ray of hope emerged: I discovered that stockbrokers are some of the most charming, funny, and genuinely sweet people you’ll ever meet. And that makes a month of Cinderellamares all worth it.