24 January 2011

You're a good man, Jackie Brown

Listening to: Au Revoir Simone, "Hurricanes." Hailing from Williamsburg, meaning they are theoretically within a few blocks of me, Au Revoir Simone is a band composed of three ladies who all play the keyboard. Yes, an all keyboard band! Their name is a reference to Pee-Wee's Big Adventure but I so didn't get it. Probably because I've never seen P-WBA. That's probably an acronym that's never used right? My favorite part of the song kicks in at around 2:12 minutes. "This message is for all the people / The people who are always waiting."

A bonus song with the word "hurricane" in the title. "Hurricane Black," off the Mos Dub album, which remixes the lyrics of Dante Smith with reggae beats. This track with Common is smooooooth.

And this post is going to be about friendship, or more accurately, the lack thereof. For the past week or two I've been revisiting this article about Sinedu Tadesse, a Harvard undergrad who went into the infamy books for killing her roommate, and then herself, in May of 1995. Tadesse's story is haunting for what it reveals about a troubled young woman but also because her desperate attempts to reach out beyond a solitary existence is something many people can relate to on some level. The specific thing I've been going over and over is a letter Tadesse wrote after her freshman year. Read it if you're curious. She sent this letter to strangers, pleading with them for simple contact and I guess, an escape from alienation.

I tend to take friends for granted, or the simple fact of having friends. Or just a friend. When they say that having one true friend can make all the difference in the world, they ain't kidding. Not having people who care about you around, well, it sucks right? Especially in New York and other urban spaces, which can be full of people but all the lonelier for it. Or maybe urban loneliness is a myth?

It's rarely occured to me that I'd be friendless or ever alone in the world. Flippantly, but also semi-seriously, I always cite the fact that I have a twin as the reason why I've never encountered absolute loneliness. Even if George and I aren't two exact peas in a pod, at least we've shared the majority of our experiences together right?

Along these thought lines, a book that I'm looking forward to reading is Emily White's "Lonely: Learning to Live with Solitude," which is her memoir about being chronically lonely. I apologize to Emily White for putting her book in the same post with Tadesse, but they seemed related to me.

The other day, while digging around about White's book online, I came across this blog: MWF Seeking BFF. The blog's author, Rachel, moved to Chicago a couple of years ago but couldn't find anyone "to invite over to watch The Biggest Loser or to text 'pedicure in half an hour?' on a Saturday morning. To me [her], that’s what BFFs are. Not just people who know your innermost secrets, but the ones up for grabbing a bite on a whim because they love being with you just that much, and getting together feels easy and natural rather than a chore you need to pencil in."

Rachel's blog is great because she details her hunt for that elusive best friend, even if it's embarrassing or disappointing. Plus she consistently shares really interesting articles about friendship, such as this one from Ta-Nehisi Coates, about Gender and Support Systems. She's inspired me to write more about my personal exploration of friendships, and how they rise and fall, evolve, collapse, and sometimes reform. I mean, friendship is a subject I love thinking and talking about, and books like Joseph Epstein's "Friendship: An Expose," are must reads as far as I'm concerned.

19 January 2011

Sometimes the snow comes down in June

I know the weather outside is snowy, windy, and dreadful right now but... Oh wait, you mean you didn't decide to move from San Diego to New York in the middle of winter? Well then, lucky you. However, if it's true that there can be no light without dark, then I will suffer the next few months and wait patiently for Manhattan summer nights to appear. The good news is that this upcoming summer will be particularly exciting because I'm going on tour! (Okay, one stop on a tour, but close enough)

Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon, my fellow 2009 Debs and wonderful people both, just launched Diversity in YA Fiction, a website to celebrate the diverse stories in young adult fiction. They also organized an accompanying tour for May 2011 that will bring quite the lineup of authors to San Francisco, Austin, Boston, New York, and San Diego.

Anyone within a five hundred mile radius of these fine cities should come through, as America is best experienced through a luxurious car ride and what's better than YA authors at the end of your journey? Maybe the Diversity in YA crew will cross paths with the recently reunited O-Town, who will surely be hitting the road again after recording their mostlyy unanticipated comeback album. Seriously, can anyone name two members of O-Town? Impress me.
"DIYA is a positive, friendly gathering of readers and writers who want to see diversity in their fiction. We come from all walks of life and backgrounds, and we hope that you do, too. We encourage an attitude of openness and curiosity, and we welcome questions and discussion. Most of all, we can’t wait to have fun sharing some great books with you!"
-About Diversity in YA-
There's already lots going on over at the DIYA site as Malinda and Cindy have put up posts about the books they saw at ALA Midwinter and new January releases that fit under the diversity umbrella. Go check out the site and join the mailing list while you're at it. Personally, I can't get over how lovely the DIYA logo is; that tree is all sorts of mesmerizing.

Also, allow me share a recent interview that I was lucky enough to do with Teen Writers Bloc, a group blog by the New School Writing for Children MFA Class of 2012. In the intro they called me "a rooster in the hen house," and I think that's a good thing. Also, find out how I'm so attuned to female sensibilities and thought processes. Don't laugh. I'm attuned okay?

I'm super jealous of everyone in this program because I'd love to have some structured lessons for my writing and reading. And from what I hear, they get some drool worthy instructors and workshops. Maybe I can just crash some of classes because that would just be the coolest. Of course since it's an exclusive and intense program, they would probably notice if some random person just showed up, even if I lurked quietly in the back of the room.

Here is the TWB about page, where they have everyone's bio. See for yourself how accomplished everyone is already, and imagine how they're growing more accomplished by the day! I'm already prepping to attend the Teen Writers Bloc group tour in the near future. You should prepare too. Like buy confetti and reserve the extra-swanky red carpets. Currently on the blog they're going through some New Year's Writing Resolutions and have some great posts and interesting discussions going on. The bloc will become a must-read for you very quickly. Many thanks for interviewing me Sona and Dhonielle!

18 January 2011

You and I Both

"Despite the saying about opposites attracting, people usually fall in love with people like themselves. There's even some evidence that people tend to pick partners with noses of similar breadth to their own and eyes about the same distance apart. At lunch, Harold and Erica quickly discovered that they had a lot in common. They both affected connoisseurship regarding prosaic things such as muffins, hamburgers, and iced tea. They both exaggerated their popularity in high school, and had the same opinions about the characters in 'Mad Men.'

People generally overestimate how distinct their own lives are, so the commonalities seemed to them a series of miracles. The coincidences gave their relationship an aura of destiny."
-The New Yorker: Social Animal-

16 January 2011

Somebody to Love

Currently pushing: "Public Speaking," the recent Fran Lebowitz documentary by Martin Scorsese. We all need a person like Fran in our lives or we'll continue to feel empty inside. I will anyway. Lebowitz is so hilarious and quotable that I can't pick a favorite thing she's said. Check out the preview clip of the film and then get some HBO. Then invite me over.

In 2009, I watched a lot of movies in the theater but after cleaning out the recent holiday season, I finished 2010 with more than forty films experienced on the big screen. Possibly a personal record but who's counting. It's not like I'm a dork and keep a spreadsheet about this stuff. During 2010, I watched thirteen "A" rated movies, thirteen "B," eleven "C", and five "D's." Not bad right?

Those "A" movies were: Visual Acoustics, Iron Man 2, Toy Story 3, The Secret in Their Eyes, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, Step Up 3, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Catfish, The Town, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Love and Other Drugs, and Blue Valentine. I'm a sucker for end of the year lists -- who isn't -- and it seems like Toy Story 3 is the trendy "Best of 2010" answer but my favorite was Scott Pilgrim or Blue Valentine. Technically I watched Blue Valentine in 2011, just a few days ago, but I'm going to include it in the year end wrap up. I need to rewatch both to determine a winner. Actually whatever, Blue Valentine was my favorite film of 2010, easily.

At the other end of the spectrum, the list of terrible movies were: Percy Jackson, Clash of the Titans, Dinner for Schmucks, Expendables, and Secretariat. Oh and I had one of the worst movie experiences of my life this past year. It was so bad that I refused to mention its name or talk about the film afterward to anybody, out of fear they loved it and our friendship would have to be immediately tossed aside.

So imagine my surprise when I see the film on Quentin Tarantino's favorite movies of 2010 list. He says that it's got "the best credit scene of the year....maybe best credit scene of the decade. One of the greatest in cinema history." Watch the opening credits and see for yourself. If you can stick with it for longer than fifteen seconds, maybe you'll enjoy the film. I just know that by the time the end credits rolled I wanted to stab my eyes out and give myself a concussion to forget the preceding two hours. Seriously, the movie experience was that bad. Going through cinema hell was a bonding experience my friend and I will (tragically) never forget.

Movies I missed in 2010 but will be Netflixing shortly: Please Give, The Ghost Writer, Machete, Fish Tank, Marwencol, Inside Job, Mother, Buried, Tangled. I was thinking about how much I'd pay for a monthly all you can watch pass. I think I'd pay $50. That's about how much I spend anyway, if not more, and when you throw in concessions, I drop most my entertainment budget at cineplexes near me. In related news, I haven't movie hopped in New York yet but I'm gonna try soon. The security here is like so much tighter. Boo on that.

To finish this post off, the best movie posters of 2010 via kottke.

12 January 2011

Blue Valentine (2010)

Ryan Gosling kills it in every movie. A friend recently said that he wasn't a Gosling fan but then revealed he'd only seen him in The Notebook. I haven't seen that movie -- and probably won't for awhile -- but Gosling's other performances are so off the charts good that I'm angry he's known as "the Notebook guy," even if it's just by one person out of billions. Well, hopefully after this movie, Gosling will be known as "the Blue Valentine guy" to everyone. I'm trying hard to think of an actor I like better than Gosling and I'm blanking. Alice Gregory explains it well in her Girl on Film article, "His Opposites Attract: Ryan Gosling's Twee-Man Allure."

Take all the love I have for Gosling and flip it one eighty for my take on Michelle Williams. I've always thought she was overrated. Seriously, Dawson, why did you even like her?! Well I'm here to say that Michelle Williams was really great in Blue Valentine. While I could see a few other actresses in her role, I think Williams did a superb job. Here's an interview with her where she talks about director Derek Cianfrance's unique working environment.

Cianfrance must have known that Michelle was his gal as he changed the setting of the film to New York -- from California -- in order to accomodate Williams' promise to always tuck her daughter into bed. Keep in mind this is the kid Williams has with Heath Ledger. Useless trivia: Little Matilda's godparents are Jake Gyllenhaal and Busy Philipps.
“When we started shooting last year it turned out to be a blessing because I had so many years to work with Ryan and Michelle, and they had so many years to work on their characters and they really became what I consider to be co-writers of the script.

I wrote 66 drafts in those 12 years and many of those drafts came because I would have a dinner with Ryan that would go on for 12 hours and then I would come home and re-write the scripts based on our conversations. They really had a lot to say about characters, about dialogue, about feelings, about scenes, about the story.
Ryan and Michelle are also children of divorce, like me, and we all wanted to make our generation’s love story. This film isn’t about our parents; it’s about us trying to deal with our own relationships basically.“
-Derek Cianfrance-
I've been warning people that if they're in a relationship -- especially a turbulent one -- maybe they should consider watching Blue Valentine without their significant other. The post-watching conversation might be awkward if you recognize bits of yourselves in it. Then again, if your relationship can't handle a little movie adversity, maybe you should reconsider things. Dana Stevens is definitely right though, this is not safe for first dates. Actually watching this after a recent breakup might be fraught with emotional danger too. Basically if you're happily single and afraid of commitment, this is the movie for you!
Seriously, Blue Valentine is one of the best films of 2010 and since I love/study relationship films, this was an incredible experience. (Nobody told me that it was funny too, which it totally is.) Watch, re-watch, then go home and hug your body pillow till it don't hurt no more.
I can not get enough of Gosling and Williams' song from the movie: Penny and the Quarters, "You and Me." It's a 2:40 minute track I've been putting on repeat and extending to like two hours. After you watch the film you'll understand.

09 January 2011

Fresh to death, dressed to impress

Listening to: Arp and Anthony Moore, "Spinette." Instrumental, sparse, and absolutely lovely. Be patient, the piano kicks in halfway through. I don't know what "modern classical" music is but if it's all like this, more please!

When I wrote the blog book a few years ago, I put a list together of 250 blogs, organized by categories such as food, gossip, photos, sports, politics, etc. Back then fashion blogging wouldn't have come close to making the cut because the only one I knew about was The Sartorialist. Now fashion blogging is such a huge, and influential, scene that it would demand its own sub-section.

If you don't know about The Sartorialist, check it out because it's fantastic. I used to have a lot of conversations about the site with my friend, as we both ogled over Scott Schuman's photos and website. As his Wikipedia puts it, "[Schuman] pioneered fashion photography in blog form." Truth. Another thing I really enjoyed about The Sartorialist was that it's always been hosted by blogspot, which was so not cool five years ago. Having "blogspot" appended to your web address is now perfectly professional and acceptable but I feel like that's been a very recent change -- and in my mind The Sartorialist helped that process along.

What I wanted to show you was this short documentary about The Sartorialist camera stalking the streets of New York and also talking about his influences and process. Over the years, the thing that has really set The Sartorialist apart from imitators is the quality of Schuman's photos and fashion aesthetic, which is a direct result of his impeccable eye. At the 2:16 min mark of the video he says [talking about how he got into photography]: "I just kind of started doing it. So for me, it's so instinctual the way I shoot. The way I do it is just the way I do it."

Immediately afterward we get to see his interaction with someone who's captured his attention in Chinatown. Schuman half-circles the girl and her friend as they cross the street. He takes just a few seconds to check out the background and scene, and then he approaches as they wait for the light to change.

"Excuse me, sorry," he says to the taller one that has caught his eye. "Do you mind if I just do a fast photograph of you standing just like that?"

"Um, what's it for?" the woman says, totally guarded and still texting into her smartphone.

"I do a site called..."

"...the Sartorialist," the girl's companion cuts in as she recognizes Scott.

"Oh!" the tall girl says as both girls then start half-laughing, half-giggling. After a few quick snaps, Schuman's done and as he thanks her, she says, "I love your site, sorry I didn't know who you [were]." She's just been street spotted by The Sartorialist! What an absolute thrill right?

I don't know how many photos Schuman managed to snap in that short time but the end result is stunning, as usual. I'm about the least fashionable guy ever -- my wardrobe comes from three stores -- so if you're typically well dressed, let's hang out and see if we can go stalk the Sartorialist and get him to turn the camera on you.

While I'm here, I might as well keep the fashion blog talk going. Check out some articles below if you're interested and these are my three favorite fashion blogs of the moment.
Street Etiquette: Most of the fashion blogosphere is dominated by females so Street Etiquette is a bit of a rarity. Joshua and Travis, both from the Bronx, have really great posts with detailed photos and I appreciate the little historical nuggets they sometimes throw in. SE also has some short videos about item etiquette too, like this one about the waistcoat. Oh and check out one of their newer projects, The Black Ivy (video).

Karla's Closet: There are a ton of fashion blogs featuring someone's every day style but Karla's Closet stands out to me because the posts are uniformly excellent and the fact that she lives in the Simi Valley but dresses like she lives in cities all over the world fascinates me. Plus Karla used to be in a girl band called the Slumber Party Girls. Here's a sample song, which has a 3LW kind of appeal. Karla shows up at 1:09 min.

a l'allure garconniere: I absolutely failed my high school French AP exam but thanks to Google, I can tell you that the translation for this blog's title is "has the boyish looks." Julia's blog is awesome because she explores the political and activism side of fashion and recent posts have featured her thoughts on the feminist blogosphere and a short documentary about two fat acceptance fashion bloggers.

Stylites.net: I don't regularly follow this but a friend's ex-boyfriend moved to China some years ago and inspired by The Sartorialist, he started Stylites, which then vaulted him into the Shanghai fashion scene. I believe his college major was Middle Eastern history or something like that. Wild.

08 January 2011

So Much Depends On the Weather

Listening to: The best cover of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros' "Home" ever. I already was in love with the original, having included it in my summer mix tape, but this version by Jorge Narvaez and his daughter is just off the charts loveable.

Usually I'm immune to the charms of children but after hearing Alexa's earnest singing and watching her killer facial expressions, I want one for myself! At the 1:47 minute mark she asks, "One day I'm gonna whistle?" Slays me every time. I've been listening to this thing on repeat and have it as a MP3 if you need to do the same. I better get cranking on the ukulele practice if I want this in my future. I'll have to borrow someone's kid though.

I've been trying to figure out what books I read last year. My memory fails me though and I can only remember a handful. Somewhere inside I'm scared that maybe I only read like seven and that's why I can't remember. That low number seems impossible but I really can't recall. Between moving around a lot and trying to pack light, I didn't have much room for books but I must have read something right?

Another relevant question is what did I actually start and finish? I know I read most of Atmospheric Disturbances (Rivka Galchen), The Russian Debutante's Handbook (Gary Shyteyngart), and A Fairly Honourable Defeat (Iris Murdoch) but I can't recall the endings so that probably means I stopped somewhere. I've found this past year that if I didn't get through something in a few shots, I tended to leave it behind unfinished. Mostly I only completed books that I was able to consume quickly -- such as auto-biographical graphic novels. I know, totally weak. Due to the absurd state of my reading affairs, I think I need to bring back my Stuff I've Been Reading posts, or at least keep a Google Docs reading diary. Still, some book related highlights of 2010.

While visiting my younger cousins in upstate New York, I dug through their bookshelves for reading material. One that caught my eye was Three Junes, by Julia Glass. After ripping through it in a few hours and feeling like I just had a profound experience -- I kept writing down quotes -- I went online to do some author research. Some reviews called Glass' writing overwrought, with a sappiness that rivaled Nicholas Sparks (although Three Junes did win the 2002 National Book Award). The Yale Review of Books mentioned that the cover looked "like a painting by Thomas Kinkade." Ew.

Aghast at how quickly I was pulled into the emotional journey of the McLeod family, I had a flash of embarassment and felt duped. But immediately afterward I wanted to rise to Three Junes' defense because it was damn good, even if it was sappier than Sparks. So this book was my 2010 version of Time Traveler's Wife. Read it for a weeping good time.
"Sometime in our acquaintance, I had forgotten that I was not a part of Mal's mainstream life, that he had chosen to keep me drifting along on my separate, obscure little tributary. I had forgotten that I was hardly his only source of help or companionship. I was a neighbor, a valet, a pet-sitter. I felt humbled and insulted."
-Three Junes-
Book recommendations from friends tend to be more fraught with danger than movie recommends -- if only due to time committment. You have to vet the person before you can trust their opinion, although I'll gladly take anyone's recommends for favorite books and such. That's fun because you can tell a lot about a person by their favorites.

This year I finally read City of Thieves (David Benioff), which Lilly had recommended a while back and literally for me as we stood in line. I should have listened to her then because City of Thieves is absolutely great and I'm a fool for not having read it sooner. Benioff also writes and adapts screenplays -- including his own book for The 25th Hour -- and is the son of a former head of Goldman Sachs, as well as married to a movie starlet. Here's an interview with him so you can see David in all his curly haired glory.

A San Francisco book club friend and fellow writer told me to read Patricia Wrede's young adult fantasy series, the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. She lent me the box set and I read all four in like two days because the writing was hilarious and the characters super charming. The type of fantasy books I read growing up weren't like this -- more swords and fighting -- so I missed out on these clever classics. If I could write like this I could well, totally be successful and retire.

Very recently, another friend lent me Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood (Michael Lewis). I'd read most of Lewis' other stuff before but hadn't even heard of Home Game, which is about his adventures in fatherhood. Apparently it's based off of a column he's been writing for Slate since 2002. Home Game is great and everyone should read it, not just prospective fathers. And guess who Lewis is married to? Ex-MTV VJ Tabitha Soren! What a surprising and delightful pairing right? Oh man, is 2011 the year of kids for me? I'm reading about them, gushing over them on Youtube, what is happening? Is my heart molting?

High up on my "to read" list was Super Sad Love Story, Shteyngart's latest. (Tangent: I'm trying to get my non-existent New York book club to read it but it's been impossibly hard to start one out here, like two months and still no first meeting.) But on a flight over winter break, I started reading Absurdistan and the way Shteyngart characterized the black girlfriend put me off so much that I needed to put him on time out. I know Shteyngart's writing is highly satirical but I can't stomach this one. It's a good thing he's semi-foreign otherwise this caricature might have me slinging a particular R-word at him.
"There are a lot of stereotypes here and plenty of intellectually incorrect exercises in racial and group determinism. Shteyngart, via Misha, thinks in peoples, not just individuals. He jokes in peoples, too, and not only about Jews and Russians, as his heritage entitles him to, but about Muslims, Germans, Brooklynites and every other in-group he can outrage. One envies his sense of entitlement to biases, and his frank understanding of the fact that such crude distinctions make the world go round. Especially these days, when they're not supposed to. When, ostensibly, we're all United Nations blue."
-NY Times review of Absurdistan (2006)-
So that's it. My pathetic year in reading. The books from 2010 that I need to read soon include the biggies, Freedom and A Visit From the Goon Squad, neither of which are avoidable because most book stores are plastered with them and they're both on every "best of" list. There's also some big talk among my friends of choosing one novel and then submitting book reports to each other, for grades no less, after we're done. I am enthusiastic about this plan.

04 January 2011

Always doing what you're told, can you help me

Currently pushing: Heytell. This is an app for smartphones that allows you to turn your iPhone or Android into a psuedo walkie-talkie. Reena told me (and everyone else she could get within virtual earshot) to get on this app and I was so against it. Haven't I been working to stay away from phone conversations? Why an app that requires me to talk and leave voice messages? Seemed incredibly backward.

Well, during holiday break, everyone came back to San Diego and as I watched how convenient leaving short bursts of information could be -- without having to type -- I realized that there was a space for Heytell in my life. So if "it's like text messaging but with your voice" sounds useless, I'm here to tell you it's kind of great and we should Heytell each other.

Earlier this evening George put one of those super growing toys into a bowl of water by the kitchen. The directions that came along with her magical cow say that it'll grow 600% in seventy two hours. Somehow I imagined it would expand much faster, like over five minutes. That's what I remember from childhood anyway.

It's weird that these things are even considered toys. There's really nothing toy-like about them. You can diligently watch it grow and call it fun if you want, but you can't play with it because it needs to bathe and when you take it out it's all slimy and gross. It's also useless as a show item. Hardly anyone would be impressed to know that three days ago this big foamy cow was then just a tiny plastic one. Despite all this, I'm imagining a lot of excitement when it's fully grown.

I'm pretty sure this useless story encapsulates my 2010. I mean, I do this life spreadsheet thing and last year was the most uneventful one yet! Here's my year broken up into three month segments: went to school, went snowboarding then Europe, wrecked a finger and some teeth, moved to New York (for now). There it is, my nineteen word 2010 auto-biography. With any luck, this year will be just as dull because really, I need to do less and make more. By "make" that means anything resulting in a tangible product/project that I can put my name to.

Nothing fades faster than memories so while I like new (and comfortably old) experiences, I think I'd like better being bored at times so I can focus on accomplishing things. By "things" I have no idea what yet but that'll reveal itself in time. I hope.

Sometimes people ask me why I document so much stuff and the short answer is that my memory blows and I like to be able to go back and see what I've done every once in awhile. Whether that be through words, photos, archived conversations, or journal entries. I find that if I don't step back to take everything in, I lose complete track of if I was happy or glad or sad or whatever.

I'm forgoing resolutions substituting declarations this year. "Declaration" is what I'll be doing, as opposed to "resolution," which is officially dictionary defined as a list of things nobody does. So far my list of declarations for 2011 include:
(1) "Hey, your relationship stinks."
If you ask me my thoughts on your relationship, I'll tell you straight up. And for an extra quarter I'll tell you what everyone else thinks too (just kidding). I'm through saying "as long as you're happy!" I've decided someone needs to say "I totally think you're settling and if you move forward you will totally be missing out or unhappy, imho." When the situation warrants it anyway. Then at least the person knows and can decide if this opinion is relevant to their lives.

I'm marketing this as an add-on service to my current friendship package for all of my (possibly soon to be ex-)friends. The program is definitely opt out though, so you can choose to continue to receive my relationship platitudes if you like. Those are still free.

To my single and still searching peer group, me included: If we wanted less than satisfactory relationships/marriages, we could have had them at twenty two so why compromise your ideals and wish list items now? We're a decade wiser and anything less than everything you ever wanted would be uncivilized.

(2) "Hey, I'm through talking to you."
I've touched on this a bit recently but this is definitely going on my declarations list. Lemme start by quoting myself, which seems weird but I'm gonna do it anyway. "Throughout it all [hanging out with my friend during an afternoon], I gave my best effort to engage her friend in conversation. Generally speaking, I can talk about anything, but I find that sometimes the guy I'd just met has no interest in responding."

Basically what happens is I feel bad that someone is left out of the conversation and then I spend minutes/hours trying to pull words out of them. In an effort to make sure they are feeling including and having a good time, I've found myself in situations where I'm talking to someone but they are giving monosyllabic answers. I find that disproportionately, guys do this to me more, although I'm not going to be gender deaf here. Anyone who can't field some questions and then expand on them is going to be conversationally excommunicated after ten minutes. I don't care if it stems from being an asshole, having an attitude, just came from a shitty day at work, bored by me, being shy, or whatever. I'm over monologues, I'm into discussions.

If you don't have anything to say, you're no good to me.

(3) "Hey, oops."
I thought I had more here. But so far the list is just these two things. I'm pretty sure I'll be declaring a lot more in upcoming weeks, so stay tuned brave reader and happy new year!
[Update: 1/11/2011] Oh another 2011 declaration: I'm over acoustic rap covers. I don't care if it's good, foreign, or terrible. This shoulda been a 2010 declaration actually so I'm late on this one. Musicians, just stop with this, please.