Sunday, March 28, 2010


Just when we'd built up some steam here at Smoking Z, I had to go and break schedule. I'm not angry at myself so much as disappointed. And posting's only going to get more erratic for the foreseeable future. I got a job with the Census (yesssssss) and have learned that, besides confidentiality and data stewardship, one of their main tenants of belief is apparently limited Internet access. My office employs more than 30 people but I only counted 9 computers when I came for training last Friday. Don't worry. I have a plan. I'll keep compulsively saving links and articles for your perusing pleasure and will try to disgorge them at least once a week. Smoking Zora: now available in concentrate!

On Monday the health care reform bill had me super jazzed. The anti-choice executive order attached to it? Not so much.

Also impressed by Google finally taking a stand against government censorship in China.

Didn't know anything about Margaret Moth, the CNN camerawoman who died recently, but she sure does sound like a bad-ass lady.

What I wouldn't give to be a lector for a living. Typesetter could be cool too: a list of now-obsolete jobs.

"What one rarely sees is a reconfiguration of liberal premises to put women’s rights, interests, needs, and priorities at the center. Indeed, the rise of conservative Christianity has caused far too many liberals to dream that benign neglect of women’s rights (reproductive rights especially), gay rights, and church/state separation would make possible some grand economic-progressive alliance for a new New Deal." How liberalism has failed women.

Here's a neat trick: tell this guy the last five books you read and he'll suggest your next.

Thirteen ways of looking at Liz Lemon.

This guy reviewing The Carter claims he used to hang out with Lil Wayne and, like all of us, is saddened by what he sees in Wayne's future.

Image: Part of a collection celebrating World Water Day, March 22.

Friday, March 19, 2010


New Shel Silverstein poetry collection coming in 2011!

Watchdog website tracks design plagiarism. And here you thought we wouldn't notice.

Cuddliest graffiti in the world: urban knitting.

This article not only reaffirms my love for gently-used reading material, it also makes me feel like a champ for having been to so many of the bookstores mentioned.

Yep, badass.

Image: If Teddy had ever let us cuddle him like this maybe we wouldn't have given him back. Real talk.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

3/18, 1:32pm

Currently listening/watching: Hot Chip - I Feel Better

A prohibition-era TV show starring Donny from the Big Lebowski as a mob boss? Yes please.

Famous writers' day jobs.

'He was the first novelist to make me say, "Hot dog! Some writer, I'll say."' John O'Hara remembers F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Image: March of the penguins

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I haven't brought myself to watch the new Gaga/Beyonce 'Telephone' video because 10 minutes is more time than I want to spend catching up on pop music. This cover by Pomplamoose, however, is a short, sweet, and totally charming alternative.

Prepare yourself for tomorrow's occasionally-sloppy holiday by downloading one of these elegant wallpapers.

Excited for SXSW 2010? Yeah, me too. Only I can't afford to actually go. Until then, I'll be listening to this free festival mixtape instead. Currently loving: that Freelance Whales song.

Image: About to go all batshit on the US Census qualifying test!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Happy!

"Anybody who writes a book is an optimist. First of all, they think they’re going to finish it. Second, they think somebody’s going to publish it. Third, they think somebody’s going to read it. Fourth, they think somebody’s going to like it. How optimistic is that?" - Margaret Atwood 

Just got my copy of the census the very same day I applied to work for them.

Despite a mild aversion to Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart (I always think she's related to John Stewart. She's not, but wouldn't that make her so much cooler?), The Runaways looks really good.

To Do: Listen to more Joan Jett

Image: Friday's post marked my 100th entry in this little iJournal. Happy belated eBirthday to me!

Friday, March 12, 2010

mixed bag

Happy Friday!  Recycling is bullshit.

Oh yeah, and all the environmental advocacy groups you send money to are complicit with the planet's worst polluters.

Meanwhile, whales are still getting screwed.

But not everything sucks! For example, this hot lady bass player who's out to revolutionize jazz.

Or this gallery of science-inspired tattoos.

Or Johnny Cash. Specifically that song Cocaine Blues.

Image: This wild Birdgirl certainly doesn't suck.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Clear Night

Clear night, thumb-top of a moon, a back-lit sky.
Moon-fingers lay down their same routine
On the side deck and the threshold, the white keys and the black keys.
Bird hush and bird song.  A cassia flower falls.

I want to be bruised by God.
I want to be strung up in a strong light and singled out.
I want to be stretched, like music wrung from a dropped seed.
I want to be entered and picked clean.

And the wind says, “What?” to me.
And the castor beans, with their little earrings of death, say, “What?” to me.
And the stars start out on their cold slide through the dark.
And the gears notch and the engines wheel.

-Charles Wright

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

3/10/10, 2:12pm

Across the street from yoga is The Boring Store. It's not a secret agent store. Nope. Definitely not. Nothing to see here.

If it were a secret agent store though, I'd expect to find all kinds of neat spy gear in there. I mean, just hypothetically...

Don't know why, but this same-sex remake of a cheesy tween-pop video is making me feel melty inside.

As are adorbs pictures of endangered animals.

And in a shocking turn of events: Scientology is terrible. Actually shocking: Scientology abuses members who attempt to break ties with the church.

Image: Dream room.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Dear friends, what am I thinking? I let someone convince me to go to a Bikram yoga class tonight. You know, that school of yogic discipline where they shove you into a steam-filled box for 90 minutes and wait to see if you survive? As if that's supposed to be good for you? And not pants-pissingly terrifying? Yeah, that Bikram yoga. If I don't survive to post again tomorrow, know that I love you and that you can find my jellified remains in a puddle on the floor of this studio.

However, if I do make it through, their website promises many health benefits will be mine, including 'sleep more soundly' and 'set your skin aglow'. I hope they mean 'aglow-in-the-dark'. I've always wanted that benefit.

Image: A real Bikram pose.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Locks of Love

Stay long enough in one of the neighborhood bars and you're sure to meet the Tamale Man. Dressed only in a red hoodie despite near-blizzard conditions, the Tamale Man makes his rounds every night plying hot, fresh tamales and salsa verde out of red lunch coolers. The transaction is simple - $5 buys six, your choice chicken or pork. Six is a brilliant quantity of tamale, too many for one person to eat alone but absolutely perfect for two. At the right time of night, even a Ziploc bag full of tamales can be an aphrodisiac as couples lean drunkenly, giddily, over their new-found treasure troves.

If you hate robot unicorns, Lisa Frank, dolphins or flash games, do not click this link.

I for one welcome our microbial overlords. singing Phoenix...too...cute....

Soothing Japanese website will teach ironing skill, drip coffee skill, party magic skill & more.

Image:  Lovers' locks chained to a bridge in China.

Friday, March 5, 2010

food-heavy friday

Walking into Selfreliance Ukranian Credit Union is like entering a cafe in a foreign country. The room is thick with conversation but none of the words make sense. The seats in the lobby are all taken; you find the nearest pillar and lean against it in a way you hope looks nonchalant. You count heads, try to figure out your place in line, until you realize that none of the elderly Ukranian men and women are there to do banking. This is their gathering place, these hard-backed chairs their soapboxes. Everything here is being fiercely debated, bony wrists flying in wild gesticulation, veined hands flapping like birds about to take off.

“All told, farmed animals in the United States produce . . . roughly 87,000 pounds of shit per second.” A review of Jonathan Safran Foer's latest book.

Twenty-four secret restaurant menus. Ordering fast food will never be the same.

What makes a good teacher? Getting kids to pay attention to you, mostly.

So far, Chicago's finest craft beer establishment ain't got nothin' on Monk's.

Image: Yesterday Ben and I got a new mattress! It was like sleeping on a raft made of sky. I'm pretty sure this bed will change my life.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

' “So I cannot come to your musicale…, Mildred.” This cryptic note, from Edward Gorey to Frank O’Hara, typifies their exchanges in the late ’40s when they shared rooms at Harvard in Eliot House. Although O’Hara’s musical, artistic, and literary talents were already manifest, Gorey’s mother was suspicious about her gifted only child’s friend, writing “I know nothing about this boy except what you tell me." ' Gorey and O'Hara were roommates? Mind=blown.

Writers are the only people I know who need to trick themselves into doing what they love. Either way: this trick works.

And I thought I was the only one who feared carnival accidents.

Image: Women astronauts, animated.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Miss Thinkinboutit: The Wild One

Johnny: It begins here for me on this road. How the whole mess happened I don't know, but I know it couldn't happen again in a million years. Maybe I could of stopped it early, but once the trouble was on its way, I was just goin' with it. Mostly I remember the girl. I can't explain it - a sad chick like that, but somethin' changed in me. She got to me, but that's later anyway. This is where it begins for me right on this road.

Charlie Thomas: I've seen hoodlums like this before. If you don't get tough with them the minute they get out of line you're sunk. You're the cop, aren't you? If you can't boot these jerks out there's plenty of us can, even if we have to bust a few heads.
Mildred: What are you rebelling against, Johnny? 
Johnny: What've ya got? 

Monday, March 1, 2010


I feared for the fate of this little Internet Thing today. Started my new job (!!!) and didn't know if I'd get around to it. Luckily the gig's only part-time, even if it took the better part of the day getting myself across town.

A delightful, insightful, thoroughly maddening article by Francine Prose on women and religion.

My challenge to you this month: take at least one photo for this project. I'll do it too and we'll all meet up back here to share.

This outfit makes me wish I had a gorgeous navy trenchcoat for spring.

A delicious vegetarian quiche recipe for your Meatless Monday.

Image: Happy Baba Marta Day to all our Bulgarian readers!