Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Nice to Meet Who?

Hi. Nice to meet you, too. Except that we've met before. Remember?

They never do.

There's something about me. I have a special quality, a certain je ne sais quois, that makes people say je ne sais who the hell you are, even after having extended conversations with me. Today, two people from my D.C.-based employer visited our office for a meeting, and were introduced to me on their way in.

These two people politely shook my hand and said, "Nice to meet you." They smiled the fresh smiles of people who were encountering someone new. Except that I had met them. Not only had I met them, I had been with them in meetings, several times a week, for several months. I had even spoken at these meetings, in front of them, and spoken with each person directly, once or twice.

I long ago figured out that the sight of my face obviously triggers some sort of memory-erase in people I meet once or twice. It's sort of like living in a version of the movie 50 First Dates, where I am the Adam Sandler character and Drew Barrymore's character is played by almost everyone else. Maybe that's why I get so excited when I can finally get acknowledgment from any business where I am a regular patron.

This severe instance of recognition failure was a new demonstration of my powers. "Nice to see you," I said. "We've been in meetings together. I used to work in D.C." I waited for some sign of recognition, but none materialized. "Oh!" they nodded vacantly, still clearly not having any idea that they had laid eyes on me before.

The group began to pull chairs around a central table. Making the moment perfect, another coworker, someone I see every day, said, "Christine, do you mind if we use this chair?"

Looking at the upside of my invisibility, it represents a chance to reinvent myself on a regular basis. Next time I walk into work, or another situation involving familiar faces, I could just pretend to be someone else. As long as I remain my impression-free self at the core, the possibilities are endless.

Hello, my name is Cornelia, and I work in fashion. I'm Melissa, and I work at San Francisco's Circus Center. Hi, it's Sharon, I'm a Cylon -- or Shira will work, just signal in my direction. Hope to see you again soon.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Dancing with Myself.

Which is worse: the crushing loneliness of having no one to love, or loving someone and having it not work out? The question occurred to me while viewing this story on breakup songs.

Breakups can be traumatic, but true masters of self-pity know that parting with a lover only offers temporary satisfaction. Wallowing in one's own continuing unlovability and solitude, on the other hand, is for those sad-sacks who are in it to win it.

The latter category is where I have spent roughly 80 percent of my adult Valentine's Days up to now. Still, when it comes to musical accompaniment, most of what's out there is geared toward the rage or sadness of breakups. It's harder to come up with songs for the people who don't bother with relationships and instead go straight to the depression.

When it comes to over-the-top R&B songs about heartache, though, I am a font of knowledge. Here, just for fun, are some songs that I love for their all-out, high-drama poutiness.

10 Crybaby R&B/Soul Songs

"How Can I Ease the Pain," Lisa Fischer
"This Woman's Work," Maxwell (covering Kate Bush)
"All Cried Out," Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
"So Sick," Ne-Yo
"Halfcrazy," Musiq
"I Hate You," Prince
"Wish I Didn't Miss You," Angie Stone
"I'm the Only Woman," Mary J. Blige
"Green Eyes," Erykah Badu
"Emotional Rollercoaster," Vivian Green

The only loneliness songs I can think of are pretty bad ("All by Myself," Eric Carmen; "One," Three Dog Night) or little known ("One Is the Magic Number," Jill Scott). What am I missing?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Prince Graces the Gridiron.

Letting it be known that you really, really like someone is a double-edged sword, which is why I never admitted to liking any boy in school, ever. Open and unabashed admiration is a vulnerability that can be exploited and made fun of. In the worst cases, it can become the thing you are known for: basking in the shadow of another's personality, rather than expressing your own. At the very least, it can make you look kind of silly. (When it comes to boys at school, it can also help secure you a date, which is why I never had any.)

Kind of silly is how I felt when the Prince halftime show came on and everyone who had come over to watch it knew that we had to pay attention because of me and my special feelings for Prince. At the beginning of the show, I was in the kitchen. "Do you really want to miss this?" someone asked. I dutifully took my spot in front of the TV. If you are going to claim to love Prince, you don't screw around when his performance is starting on TV, even if it's a show that you could take or leave, if you're really honest with yourself.

By necessity, the Super Bowl halftime show is the main performer boiled down to his or her essence, and thrown in with a bunch of other ingredients. To ensure a broad appeal, the show has to telegraph the most popular things about its star -- plus a few things that have nothing to do with that star, just in case. So last night, we got not only a selection of hits from Purple Rain, but also covers of Foo Fighters, CCR and Bob Dylan/Jimi Hendrix. We also got a marching band, wildly seizuring dancers and a big symbol-shaped stage.

As Prince himself sang, "I ain't no fool." He knows what the show is. He knows from what position of artistic privilege he plays. In fact, despite Kelefa Sanneh's comment in The New York Times that Prince "does not carry himself as a pop-star emeritus," the exact opposite is true. Prince carries himself precisely like a pop-star emeritus, because in this context, he is one. Unlike his infamous halftime-show predecessor and contemporary Janet Jackson, he has retired from the effort and pressure of appealing to a mass audience, winning awards, scoring magazine covers when he releases an album and topping charts with new singles. He has managed to thrive outside of that industry and in spite of it, and he wears that independence as a mark of transcendence rather than of decline. He should.

The halftime show was enjoyable to watch, and I'm not mad at Prince for doing it. But sitting in a group of people to watch him play a show like that was less enjoyable for me than it was to sit alone in front of a computer and watch this "press conference" before the game. [Update: The tools at Universal have put the kibosh on said press conference video. Sad...] I like this footage because, at least in the beginning, he's being a little bit of a prima donna and a jerk. It harks back to the days when he was new and mysterious and inaccessible. It's clear here that he just doesn't give a fuck. So he gets up there and he plays a song from 1986's Parade, a song you're not going to know or care about unless you're a pretty solid fan (and a song I happen to love). It's a performance that has more attitude, and maybe even more musicality, than the Super Bowl show did.

Some observers have commented about how strange it is to see Prince, who once represented the lascivious edge of music and was known for only appearing and performing on his own terms, become the Super Bowl's "safe" crowd-pleaser this year. It may be strange, but it's not to be lamented. I would have loved it if Prince stayed the same lip-licking, open-shirted, leering, dirty scamp that he is here forever. I also would have loved it if I never had to contemplate bills, my cholesterol, and the appearance of certain veins on my person. But adolescence can't last forever, at least in any form that resists ridicule -- and what now exists is a happy evolution.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Of Apathy and Ardency.

Things I'm Supposed to Care About, But In Fact Do Not
  • SFist
  • American Idol
  • Top Chef
  • Who's playing in the Super Bowl
  • What my hair looks like every day
  • Eating a real dinner

    Things I'm Not Supposed to Care About Anymore, But Still Do
  • Sex and the City
  • Having bubble gum
  • Prince
  • Keeping a diary
  • Bill Clinton
  • Being in a band someday

    Please share yours...