Thursday, September 28, 2006

One Year (Roughly)

Wow - just realized, it's been just over one year since I started blogging. (Many happy returns, everyone!) And just think, I owe it all to Z., who freed up my time for this in his own inimitable way.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Whitewater Rafting!

This is probably the fifth time I've gone whitewater rafting. Went twice out west (once when we were returning to the U.S. after three years in Belgium & once when my parents lived in Colorado), once in Maine (the weekend following 9/11/2001, with friends from Boston), and once in West Virginia (with friends from D.C., during the sniper attacks).

But this was my first rafting trip in New York. As always, rafters are a photogenic bunch, a stunning cross between the Michelin Man and Evel Knievel (photo taken by fellow-rafter Laurie):

You will notice that the guides never get caught wearing these ridiculous outfits. Thus the rafters get crushes on the guides, but never vice versa. (Although our guide, Mike, told us that he once guided a raft of models. I imagine that the bulk of the life jackets helped them pass for a normal weight. So they may have remained attractive in the rafting garb - if so, they would be the big exception.)

But I digress. The fact is, on a rainy Saturday morning - during a torrential downpour - 8 of us from the greater New York metropolitan area packed up whatever camping gear we could find and trundled off by subway (NYC folk) and car (NJ folk) to a central meeting point (Manhattan). Despite a crummy forecast (rain, rain, and more rain, the whole weekend), we all got into a caravan of NJ drivers and drove 4 hours north to a camp site near Lake George. By the time we got there, fortunately, the rain had let up, and it was merely menacingly overcast (not to mention damp). In those surprisingly auspicious conditions, we set up two rented tents.

Yes, as city slickers, we naturally had to rent tents from EMS (one of the trip planners had to rent a sleeping bag as well!), and didn't necessarily have a lot of experience in putting them up. But we muddled through OK - the modern technology really makes it very easy to put together a tent that will stay dry during the rain.

Once we figured out how to put together a behemoth six-person tent, it was a piece of cake to put together a two-person pup tent:

We did a good job with the tents, if I do say so myself. It drizzled overnight (around the time that some of our camping neighbors got into a heated argument and decided to impress each other with pyrotechnics and unimaginative swear words), but we stayed perfectly dry.

On Sunday morning, we woke up shortly before the alarm went off, due to the loud cawing of a murder of crows. You may be wondering why a group of crows is a "murder" (rather than a "flock" or "herd" etc.) -- it is because once two or three are gathered together, they start with their CAW, CAW, CAW, and it is loud, obnoxious, and unending at ungodly hours of the morning. This makes you want to murder them. Oh, come on, you don't want the "real" etymology, do you??

Re-packing the tent bags at the end proved more difficult than putting up the tents. Luckily we were able to put more than one person on the job:

When we finally got out on the water, the weather actually got sunny (picture taken by fellow-rafter Laurie):
It was a lovely day on the river, complete with small rapids, big waves, lazy flat stretches, and a great big rock for all of us to climb up and jump into the water. Wheeeeeeee - brrrrrr!!!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Superman Returns (2006)

It's funny how doing exactly what you most desire (which also means declining inadequate substitutes) can lift your spirits.

That's how I ended up - immaculately coiffed, fresh from the hair salon - watching Superman Returns, IMAX & 3-D. I loved it. Let me count the ways....

First, the special effects were good, both with and without the 3-D glasses. (They only had about 20 minutes of 3-D footage total, provided in 4 separate segments. To deal with this, they tell you when to put on the glasses, and when to remove them. I found the concept totally hilarious, but I have to admit it was also a smart move. After all, the evidence suggests that it's a zero-sum game -- i.e., when resources are devoted to the 3-D technology, they are diverted away from character, script-writing, cinematography, direction, plot, etc. So you dramatically improve the quality of your film by reducing the percentage of screen time dedicated to 3-D sequences.)

Second, right toward the beginning of the movie, they show a Scrabble board. I will probably end up watching the DVD to see all the words on it. The only ones I caught on this first viewing, however, by an amazing coincidence, tie nicely in to yesterday's post: in the lower left corner of the board are the words "FOOT" and "FEET". Very cool.

Third, there is a delicious storyline involving a pampered pet dog. It becomes clear, in passing, that the dog has become a cannibal. This is a fun fact, because it goes by quickly, and the film-makers don't dwell on it -- even though the dog is around throughout the entire movie. But then toward the end of the movie, Lex Luthor threatens to eat the dog. Which also works.

Fourth, Superman himself is saved twice in this movie. It's good to see Lois and her family come to the rescue of the superhero.

There are also plenty of things that don't work in the movie, from a logical point of view (particularly Lois Lane's child), but even those sort of have their illogical emotional pull. In fact, if you can overlook the nonsensical elements (as I could), the points being made are rather sweet.

No, my only real complaint is that Lois Lane looks way too young for the role. It's the shape of her face - it's somehow too soft, almost like baby fat, and the nose is way too small, about the size of a child's nose. To me, her appearance undermines her credibility both as a journalist and as a mom.

Tomorrow, I'm off for some camping and whitewater rafting. Unfortunately, it is scheduled to be cold and rainy. Ugh!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Future Foot Fetishist?

So I'm on the way home from the subway this afternoon. I'm walking down the street, minding my own business, and staying to the right on the sidewalk as an ordinary courtesy to pedestrians who are going the opposite way.

A very small child with a pacifier comes along, toddling in front of his mom, and there's plenty of room for them. Then all of a sudden, I realize the child has veered sharply left and is lurching toward me. Stepping quickly in my elegant high heels, I get out of his way -- and he adjusts his course to continue heading for me.

Surprisingly, the toddler is intently staring and pointing at my feet (or possibly my shoes) as he draws closer. He seems mesmerized.

His mom apologizes and brings him back to their side of the sidewalk and they resume their journey, but I'm left wondering: are foot fetishists born or made? (The old nature vs. nurture debate.)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Why I Don't Own a Television

"Don't you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There's one marked 'Brightness,' but it doesn't work."

-- attributed to Leo Anthony Gallagher

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mini Tour of the Jay Homestead

Exposed beams:

Clock face:

The first seal of the newly-minted State of New York (co-designed by John Jay) features the sun rising over New York's three mountain ranges:

Commission for John Jay as first Chief Justice of New York State (signed October 17, 1777):

The Commission states, in the style and spelling of the period:
The People of the State of New York by the Grace of God free and independant to our trusty and well beloved John Jay Esquire Greeting. We reposing especial Trust and Confidence in your Loyalty Learning and Integrity Have appointed asssigned and constituted ... you the said John Jay to be our Chief Justice of the Supream Court of Judicature of our said State .... for and during such Time as you shall well behave yourself therein or until you shall attain the age of Sixty years. ...
Witness our trusty and well beloved George Clinton Esquire our Governor of our said State General and Commander in Chief of all the Militia and admiral of the Navy....
A number of cool things about this, of course, including the lack of punctuation and idiosyncratic spelling. Although military technology was obviously not what is is today, just think - a state governor had a militia and navy at his command! (Boy, those were the days, eh?)

Intriguingly, just 15 years later the "trusty and well beloved" Jay ran for governor against the "trusty and well beloved" Clinton (who had tenaciously remained in office all this time). Apparently, there were more total votes cast for Jay than for Clinton, but the ballots from Otsego County (a Jay stronghold) were disregarded because they were delivered by a sheriff whose commission had expired. The decision to disregard the Otsego ballots was made by the canvassers, who apparently split along party lines on the issue.... But don't worry, Jay won the next election fair and square while he was overseas on another diplomatic mission (negotiating Jay's Treaty).

It's all about the packaging.

Monday, September 18, 2006

New Chandelier

My upstairs neighbors have been talking about getting a new chandelier for the entrance hall. Let's just hope they don't go for this model:

(Yes, that is a floor-to-ceiling chandelier. No joke.)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Perils of a Life of Crime

A man who is hoping to break into a locked cupboard at an English country home and steal some diamonds needs an axe.

How to justify the borrowing of an axe? Easy - just tell the butler that you need an axe in order to build a rabbit hutch.

Well, it is easy, that is, unless the butler is a fancier of rabbits and an expert on hutches.

We enter Wodehouse's novel, Money for Nothing, in Chapter 10, when our criminal mastermind has fallen into this very trap with a gullible and garrulous butler who has not only brought the axe but also settled in to tell endless, rambling tales of rabbits.
A dull despair settled upon Soapy. ... Words had begun to flutter out of this butler like bats out of a barn. He had become a sort of human Topical Talk on rabbits. He was speaking of rabbits he had known in his hot youth - their manners, customs and the amount of lettuce they had consumed per diem. To a man interested in rabbits but too lazy to look the subject up in the Encyclopaedia the narrative would have been enthralling. It induced in Soapy a feverishness that touched the skirts of homicidal mania. The thought came into his mind that there are other uses to which a hatchet may be put besides the making of rabbit-hutches. England trembled on the verge of being short one butler.

[The butler] had now become involved in a long story of his early manhood, and even had Soapy been less distrait he might have found it difficult to enjoy to the full. It was about an acquaintance of his who had kept rabbits, and it suffered in lucidity from his unfortunate habit of pronouncing rabbits "roberts", combined with the fact that by a singular coincidence the acquaintance had been a Mr Roberts. Roberts, it seemed, had been deeply attached to roberts. In fact, his practice of keeping roberts in the bedroom had led to trouble with Mrs Roberts, and in the end Mrs Roberts had drowned the roberts in the pond and Roberts, who thought the world of his roberts and not quite so highly of Mrs Roberts, had never forgiven her.

Here [the butler] paused, apparently for comment.

"Is that so?" said Soapy, breathing heavily.

-- P.G. Wodehouse

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Black Dahlia (aka "The Blahlia")

Walking into this movie, I had somewhat positive feelings about the lead actresses, Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation, not Match Point) and Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby). I expected The Black Dahlia to be a film noir, which meant the women would all be double-crossing types, and vaguely thought it might be a remake or reinterpretation of a famous classic film noir which was recommended to me about 10 years ago, The Blue Dahlia.

It seems safe to say there is no connection whatsoever between the two films.

The Black Dahlia had a few moments of genuine horror/suspense, and made a valiant (but totally unsuccessful) attempt at a meaningful love triangle or two. But it was unintentionally hilarious -- I can't even begin to summarize the plot, because it doesn't really make any sense.

Here are a few random reactions to the love triangles.

Kay Lake is Lee Blanchard's girl - and has been for years, since he paid for her Master's degree - but she says she won't marry him because she doesn't want to sleep with him. She is clearly attracted to Bucky Bleichert, Lee's new partner. (They are cops, natch.) So, naturally, the three of them become best buddies and hang out incessantly. Smart, eh?

Bucky thinks Kay is off-limits because she's his partner's girl. So, naturally, he hooks up with a rich, bisexual nyphomaniac named Madeleine Linscott. After a truly cursory and unilluminating interview with Madeleine in the course of his murder investigation, he agrees to keep Madeleine's name out of the papers in return for the opportunity to have sex with her. They are getting along just fine in the post-coital glow, until Madeleine suddenly admits that she had sex with the murdered woman once. Bucky calls her a stupid slut, puts on his clothes, and leaves. But who is the stupid slut here? Bucky knew Madeleine for approximately 5 minutes before he agreed to suppress information about her so he could get laid. And he knew she frequented lesbian bars, since that's where he met her. So why he suddenly thinks he has the moral high ground here is beyond me.

Then Bucky's partner is killed, and Kay is fair game. So Bucky hooks up with Kay ... only to abandon her viciously when he finds money that Lee hid under the tiles in the bathroom. Bucky exorciates Kay for having failed to tell him (in the short time since they've hooked up) that Lee was a "dirty cop". Never mind that Bucky has failed to tell Kay about his own sordid past, his tryst with Madeleine, etc.

And don't even get me started on the plot line that involves the menace of Kay's ex-pimp who is about to be released from prison. Supposedly Kay is terrified and Bucky and Lee both want to protect her. But nobody even bothers to lock the doors of Kay's home - Bucky just walks in whenever he wishes. I mean, come on! You could at least slow the bad guy down, if he has to jimmy the lock or break down the door!

I suppose the movie has one redeeming feature -- it goes on and on and on, past several perfectly reasonable stopping-points. Although this makes the movie rather tedious, one gets the sense that one's money has at least been amortized over a long period of time. In other words, you feel like you are maximizing hours per dollar spent on the movie ticket. (Just think -- if you spend $10 for your movie ticket and the film feels like it is 10 hours long, you are only spending one dollar per hour -- what a bargain!)

Fortunately, the rest of my day was quite good. It was sunny and warm, so I walked one loop around the park, then skated up from Battery Park to 79th St. riverside cafe for a drink overlooking the water. The wind was blowing against me the whole time, so it was more work than last week, but I felt great.

Julian Beever - Optical Illusionist

My grandfather recently sent around some amazing pictures, 3-D realistic pavement art attributed to Julian Beever. (In the picture above, he is interacting with a seal who has come up from the arctic underground.)

I thought at first that this was an urban legend, but the guy is not on - apparently, he is for real.

Here is the artist, awaiting rescue by Batman & Robin:

Some very cool pictures. You should definitely check out his web site, where he takes some pictures of his pavement art from the "wrong" perspective, so you can see his technique. I love the repeated illusion of stripping away the pavement surface to "reveal" an underground world.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

"Stay East, Gray Lady, Stay East!"

The New York Times is never really at its best when it tries to cover areas west of the Mississippi River, or maybe even the Hudson. (Case in point: a September 2, 2006 article entitled "Youthful Binge Drinking Fueled by Boredom of the Open West." Nuff said, although this article took up dozens of inches of column space.)

Now the Gray Lady reports, in an article by Kirk Johnson on Sept. 13, 2006, that "[l]abor-starved Wyoming, with its energy boom in coal, oil and natural gas, is vigorously courting the workers of the Rust Belt -- in particular, those in Michigan's struggling auto industry. And the workers are responding, and adjusting to a very different life in the West."

Is this a significant new economic trend? Not according to the article:
"By the standards of the nation's past great labor migrations - the
industrial revolution in the late 1800's that filled urban factories with
former farmers, the Dust Bowl diaspora to California in the 1930's, the
tide of blacks from the South in World War II seeking work in northern
factories - what is happening here is an aberration, historians and
geographers say."
So, basically, they admit that by NYT standards this is a fluff piece. Oh well.

Wyoming officials apparently are pushing hard to recruit folks from Michigan, with multiple recruiting trips and even a prominently located billboard near Flint that will be seen by 65,000 people a day. Previous efforts to siphon off Hurricane Katrina refugees were less successful, a fact the Wyoming recruiters attribute in part to the fact that Michiganders are "akin to Wyomingites in the ways and wiles of work" and "also have an inner toughness, ... that can only come from surviving harsh northern winters."

The Wyoming jobs apparently include driving trucks and working on the local police force. After all, who better than Detroit-trained cops to keep all of the new immigrants in line?
"Michigan is attractive, [Police] Chief Adriaens said, because the police
training is excellent, but the job market is not. 'We've tried some other
areas that had depressed economies, but they weren't the same,' he said."
Apparently the new immigrants are encouraging their friends and relations to move with them.
The article quotes one 19-year-old who has landed a lucrative job driving a dump truck in Wyoming (and is trying to get his parents to move there too) as stating that "nothing is going to happen in Michigan in the next 10 years at least, and there's money out here to be made."

But don't worry - it should be easy for the Michiganders to reach critical mass and seize political power, given the low population density of Wyoming. Perhaps the immigrants might be able to rename the state "New Michigan" to ease any homesickness they may feel?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


There was one matter at my old job that I thought might suck me back in to some extent, under the rubric of "tying up loose ends," but it looks like I am free, free, free at last! And - amazingly - without burning any bridges in the process. I am very grateful for this good fortune.

I have so much to be grateful for, including the new job which gives me peace of mind, a chance to face new challenges and develop new skills, and a real opportunity for the pursuit of happiness.

People who have been on my mind recently: a recent mom, a mom-to-be, an unfortunate flying pedestrian, a marriage that may be ending, and a cancer-fighter who has been caught unexpectedly in some non-cancer fronts as well. My thoughts and prayers for them tonight.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tales from the Script

Item 1. We were running through a script today, which meant basically that Y was posing scripted hypotheticals for Z to provide the scripted responses.

After a while, Z completely zoned out and started reading her responses without really paying attention to the questions.

We didn't realize that Z was on autopilot until maybe the 10th hypothetical situation -- when Y asked about some activities that are expressly and unequivocally forbidden under the rules and Z immediately and unequivocally replied: Yes, that is perfectly fine! Go for it!

It still took everyone a few minutes to figure out what, exactly, had gone wrong....

Item 2. Law Firm A (in London) and Law Firm B (in New York) are opposing each other in a New York litigation.

The associates of Law Firm B receive a call yesterday from someone who claims to be from Eliot Spitzer's office and accuses Firm B of practicing law without a license. The B associates are a little suspicious of this and demand the caller identify himself and what database he is using. The caller seems oddly baffled by these questions, which is not all that surprising ... since he is calling from a pub at 8 p.m. London time.

Must have seemed like a great practical joke after 4 or 5 pints of Guiness, but -alas!- you really need to be sober to pull this kind of thing off succesfully, and -double alas!- you really need to be drunk to think it's a good idea to try it at all. Talk about your basic Catch-22!

Come to think of it, what tipped the B associates off? Perhaps the British accents? The lack of formal written charges? The sound of muffled laughter and clinking glasses in the background?

* * * *
After a few pints, the A associates may also have thought they were very clever to know that Eliott Spitzer is the New York State Attorney General. (Although I think the Financial Times mentions him fairly regularly. And perhaps Spitzer has been mentioned in the London papers in connection with his current gubernatorial campaign?)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Court O' Claims

To put things into perspective, Judge Ingram states that "Brooklyn and Queens together are larger than Ireland." See Alyssa Misner, "Appointed to the Bench Alongside the Elected: A Conversation with Judge John G. Ingram," Brooklyn Daily Bulletin p. 10 (July 3, 2006).

Judge Ingram was apparently appointed to the New York Court of Claims (a specialized court which hears claims against the State of New York), but has been pressed into service -- along with 9 of his fellow jurists on the Court of Claims -- as a regular trial court judge in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn courthouse is presumably more convenient for him than the Manhattan-based courthouse of the Court of Claims, since he resides in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Sunny Saturday

When I awoke this morning, I had an agenda. That's not typical for me on a weekend. I usually know what I need to do, but do not organize my thoughts into an agenda. In recent weeks, especially when the weather is iffy, I also have sometimes ended up procrastinating to the point that I get no chores done AND don't even leave the house until it is time to meet up with friends.

The nice thing about having an agenda today is that it motivated me to get out of the house promptly to start my day. Thank goodness, since today was easily the most spectacular day we've had since I returned to NYC. I suppose that, technically, I accomplished only one or two things on my initial agenda, but that's not important right now. As a practical matter, my agenda kept changing throughout the day to provide maximum pleasure rather than chores.

First, I headed for the north end of Prospect Park and walked the 3.35 mile loop clockwise. Everyone else goes counter-clockwise, but it is so much more fun to see and be seen....

Afterward, I checked out the Farmers' Market, and immediately fell in love with a spider plant. Once I bought that, there was only room to carry one or two food items... so I didn't get all the groceries I was thinking about for my so-called agenda.

Brunch was at a local diner and featured steak and eggs ... something I never make at home.

After brunch, it was time for the day's main event: skating. (Also not on the agenda, but a worthy replacement for the shopping and cleaning I'd planned to do. An upgrade, if you will.) I took the subway in to Manhattan. After not skating for many months, it was thrilling to speed along under the glorious sunshine, in a summery skirt, for 11 miles -- some of it uphill on rough surfaces.

Skating route: I went up the Hudson River Bike Path from the southern tip of Manhattan all the way to 120th Street, where the path ends. (For the first time, I figured how to reconnect with the bike path after the 89th St. detour, which gets a bit messy. In all honesty, the path is much nicer in the southern half, because the traffic is much further away.) After reaching the end, I turned around and skated back down (against the wind) to 104th Street and kept cutting south and east (W. 97th turns out to have a somewhat gentler slope than some of the others) until I got to Central Park. I skated around the loop counterclockwise (i.e., with everyone else, this time) until I got to the Delacorte Theatre. I was going to skate down to the southern edge of the park, another 30+ blocks, but I realized I was getting tired and my ankles were getting wobbly. Not smart to keep skating. So I got some water, found a nice comfy rock, and settled down to read a book on Constitutional interpretation.

When I was done with that, I walked down to 59th Street to check out some wine glasses at Crate & Barrel. (One of my inspirations this morning was the thought that I would get a really fancy set of crystal stemware - but as it happens, C&B wasn't quite fancy enough for what I had in mind.) On the way to the subway, I checked out the 24-hour, 365-day Apple store at the southeast corner of the park, then went home feeling pretty darn pleased with myself.

On the way home, I bought three videos. (Also not on the agenda.) I just watched one: Mad Hot Ballroom. It was brilliant.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Saw Hamlet at the Atlantic Theatre Lab (16th St.). It was a student production, I suppose, but quite good overall. (The director was there, and most of the audience -- largely NYU acting students -- knew her and/or the actors.)

It was cool to see Polonius played as a pompous ass but not a doddering old man (the actor was young and tall, and very, very funny). Gertrude and Claudius were quite good, and Horatio was well done (he is much more present than usual, so it becomes more believable that he is the last man standing at the end). Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were hysterical -- and especially the one of them that also played the grave digger. He was perfect.

Hamlet himself was pretty good, although it's tough to do the 2B or not 2B speech -- it's just too well known, and very hard to do it in a way that is fresh, meaningful and un-self-conscious. It wasn't well done here. Hamlet's chemistry with his fellow actors seemed a bit off, which may or may not have been a purposeful part of the direction. Are we supposed to believe that he is a lot more comfortable with men (other than his uncle, natch) than with women? This is what I gather from his hearty welcomes of Horatio and the players, and his strained, cold/distant interaction with Gertrude and Ophelia. But that doesn't quite make sense. We are also supposed to believe that he genuinely cared for Ophelia, I think, so that her "betrayal" is a real blow to him. Or maybe not. It's not quite clear. But he's reasonably upset that The Powers That Be are using his old chums R&G and his old flame O to monitor him.

Ophelia was a real disappointment to me. I think she may have been chosen for her ability to seem mad, rather than her acting. But it is a tough role, especially for a modern woman. Her motivations are not fully fleshed out in the text, and the societal norms that may once have justified a descent into madness are no longer part of our culture. Tis strange, tis wonderous strange.

Hamlet certainly isn't my favorite Shakespeare play, but it is very familiar. (Naturally, as a Shakespeare addict, I have seen the play multiple times, both live and on film -- including the Glenn Close/Mel Gibson movie, the "Denmark Inc." take on it (with Ethan Hawke), and the surreal Kenneth Branaugh version. But I also took a class on it in college -- yes, an entire semester devoted to Hamlet).

So it was a lot of fun to hear the familiar phrases and speeches, including some famous sayings that people do not necessarily associate with the play, taking new life in the breath of these young actors and actresses.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Do I Look Like Laura Bush?

For reasons that are entirely beyond my comprehension, someone asked me today if I were Laura Bush. I replied, "No, she's the brunette."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Machiavella: The Princess

Historical portrait of Niccola Machiavella in an unguarded moment, scheming:

New historical documents -- discovered in situ in a dust bunny's nest over Labor Day weekend -- reveal the diabolical machinations of Niccolo's twin sister, Niccola. Although she is little known to modern scholars and historians, she held court in two continents and demanded complete loyalty from her subjects. While her writing style may not be as elegant or timeless as her brother's, it in fact appears to have been well ahead of its time in anticipating modern self-help literature. Here is an excerpt from Chapter One, "On Being the Center of Attention".
There is no reason why you cannot constantly be the center of attention, if you put your mind to it. A few simple rules make it easier than ever.
  • First, you should simply expect the unwavering attention of your subjects. Attitude is everything. This technique is incredibly powerful, and seldom fails - particularly when your subjects are two to three times your own height.
  • Second, demand services from your subjects. They will be grateful for the opportunity to show their devotion and attempt to win your favor. The sky is the limit, but tried-and-true methods include impressing one's subjects into service as one's personal steed, or demanding to be chased around the house. (Be careful not to run too far away, however, or your subjects may tire of chasing you - the key is to stay in sight at all times.)
  • Third, bask everyone in a warm smile when they comply with your wishes. Despite rumors to the contrary, this is far more effective than sulking or whining when you do not get your way. You will quickly wrap all present around your finger, and they will vie ever more eagerly to please you.
  • Fourth, if - by some ill chance - someone else momentarily takes the limelight, be patient and remain alert for an opportunity to seize it back. If you are single-mindedly focused on your own need for attention, you will soon spot a way to turn things back to your advantage. Your motto, like Maugrey's, is "CONSTANT VIGILANCE!" Persist! Never give up, never give in, never surrender! You will prevail![*]
[* Editorial footnote: These stirring words are notable not only for their raw power, but also because they constitute exciting new historical evidence of the ancient origins of Harry Potter and Galaxy Quest.]

Fig. 1: The Princess honors her most humble and obedient servant: