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concrete silhouette

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Monday, January 31, 2005

concrete silhouette
Originally uploaded by k-girl.
so lovely. I really like the sharpness of the shadow.

Miscalculated Risk

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Monday, January 31, 2005
Miscalculated Risk: A Kim Aldrich Mystery by Jinny McDonnell

This is from a girl detective series I had never heard of - Kim Aldrich is a secretary at a big New York insurance agency. As you may guess from the nature of the book, Kim is a bit of a busybody and of course gets herself embroiled in a case of fraud, murder, and yes, adoption. Miscalculated Risk is apparently the first in the series. I'm not sure how many there were total, but I know there are at least three. I found the first two at Goodwill and found reference to the third on the internet. I have a lot more to say about the Girl Detective genre (Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Connie Blair, Cherry Ames, etc.) but that is more than I'm up to at the moment. So, more about Kim Aldrich - here's the blurb from the back of the book...

KIM, beautiful secretary for an international insurance for the day she can become a full-fledged investigator for the firm...action-loving, curious, and courageous. Is it any wonder that mystery, adventure--and romance--just naturally seek her out? This time, Kim finds the money-hungry murderer only after near fatal danger, when she is led into taking a MISCALCULATED RISK

Kim has a lot of the usual Girl Detective traits - curious, headstrong, doting family (with dead mother), etc. What separates her a little bit is some of her particulars - her father is an agent in the FBI, her brother is a war hero and airline pilot, her sister we don't hear anything about in the first book (because Kim didn't need her for anything), but I suspect she will turn out to have some valuable skill later in the series. Kim is probably about 19 or 20, and drives a triumph (yeah, I know Nancy Drew drove a sports car too). This series started in 1972, so it has *some* feminist advances on novels written back in the 40's - for example she has a pretty liberal social life, and has a real job that isn't just helping around the family business. She and a lawyer character in this novel have a romance, but she abruptly cuts it off ON THE LAST PAGE, no doubt to free her up for the ski instructor or whoever awaits her in the next novel. On the other hand, there seemed to be a lot of weird girly deference to her male boss - but maybe that's just because she's so young. I don't know. Reading these books (most of the girl detective books, really) is like stepping into a time machine. Cars are different, methods of detection are so different (for example, having to wait until Monday to go to the courthouse to get information that could be obtained in 30 seconds online now), the kind of 'dressing' for lunch or dinner that was obligatory, not optional -- I find it all very interesting, which is good because it's not like it is hard to figure out who the baddy is in most of these novels.

The covers are really great though - on Miscalculated Risk, Kim is in a wet-suit (sort of James Bondish), and despite the fact that she is in the water and has her mask pushed up on her head, her hair is fluffy dry. There is panic in her violet (yes, VIOLET) eyes as a menacing dark hand reaches out toward her. It's the natural heir of those old 60's gothic novel covers with the governess running away from the big scary masion in her nightie while looking over her shoulder at a menacing wolf on an outcropping of rock. Except Kim would no doubt know some sort of sleeper-hold for large animals that her FBI Dad had thoughtfully taught her just in case.

Perfect Drug

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Friday, January 28, 2005
On one of the forums I read a discussion of the NIN song The Perfect Drug came up. Mostly it boiled down to how the song was cool, but maybe it was really the video that was cool. I became obsessed. I had seen the video once or twice way back when and suddenly needed to see it again. All I could remember was that it was all indigo and chartreuse, hedge maze, absinth, freaky spooky house, freaky spooky kid, Trent Reznor engaging in dramatic moping, two mysterious veiled women... ok, I really just remembered that it was "cool and spooky." In the forum there was mention made of how the video was an homage to Edward Gorey, which I also vaguely remembered and made me even more obsessed. I love Edward Gorey (side note: he was a big Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan). Via AIM my sister and I finally found an online copy of the video on the director's website. Mark Romanek directed this one, and it turns out several other videos that I really liked (and he has them all on his site! yay!).

So, if indigo-chartreuse-spooky-Edward-Gorey-homage-look-Trent-Reznor-is upset-again-video sounds good to you, check it out right here.

pinky wall

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

pinky wall
Originally uploaded by thebaboon.
Love the off center placement of the clock!

floor cloth

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005
I'm making a floor cloth for my bedroom. It was on my list of things to get done, or at least mostly done, in January. So far all I have to show for it is three blisters on my right hand, and a giant pink piece of canvas. But it will get better, for I have bandaids and more paint.

Blondie showed me how to make a floor cloth out of painter's canvas drop cloth, and leftover latex paint. hooray! I have made two prior to this one, so I am hoping to coast by on just left-overs for this project. It is so easy, it isn't even funny. Basically, you just keep applying layer after layer of paint until the canvas resembles a piece of linoleum. You can use whatever weird/crappy colors of paint you may have laying around for the build up coats, and then use the paint you want to show for the last layer. Top with a water-based varnish/top coat, and you're done! The trick is that it takes a lot of paint, and if you want it to lay down reasonably well you really need to paint both sides. I ended up making the second (smaller) one that I did reversable.

I am trying using a dense foam roller instead of a brush. At first I thought it was brilliant since it gets the paint down in the fibers better than a plain old paintbrush would do - but now I am wondering if it is delivering enough paint. If maybe I wouldn't have quite so many blisters if i just used a paintbrush. Once this coat dries, I may switch and see. another exciting day in projectville.

browsing at the library

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005
This afternoon I went to the library to drop off some books and CDs pick up the one item I had on hold (A Mighty Wind). I left with A Mighty Wind, and eight other books (only one comic book!), all picked up while browsing. Why do I do this? I am never going to get them all read on top of what I already have in the to be read pile. Oh well. That's what I love about the library - I can over-shop and suffer no more than a sore arm carrying them home. And potential library fines. Here's what I got. Maybe when three weeks are up I can look back and see what I actually read.

A Time of Angels - Patricia Schonstein - Why did I pick it up? I think it was face out and had a catchy cover. I don't really feel any shame at that, since it's how I shop for books I buy sometimes too. But a catchy cover alone is not enough! The dust jacket had a blurb by Joanne Harris (who wrote Chocolat, which I have also never read) that said "A marvelous novel, written with style, gusto and immense charm. PS manages to capture the colors, sounds, scents, tastes and soul of Italy in this delightfully dark and witty fairy tale, peopled with lovers, Madonnas, angels, demons, epicurians, and ladies of the night." It was probably the words charm, colors, sounds, Italy, dark, witty, and fairy tale that caught my attention (in addition to the cover). We shall see. I paged through it at the library and there was a large section on clocks with eyes that move, so who knows?

Teen Idol - Meg Cabot. Meg Cabot writes about four hundred bajillion different series - including the Princess Diaries. This one is not from the Princess Diaries series (of which I have only read one - I'll get to them all eventually). It looks like it is a one-off about a girl writing an advice column in high school. Meg Cabot has a light touch and a great comic voice. I enjoy her books quite a bit, despite being well past the intended demographic. She also writes as Meggin Cabot, Jenny Carrol (the two series written under this name are really good - 1-800-Where-R-you, and The Mediator), and some other name I can't remember. Patricia Cabot, maybe? Now that the Princess Diaries have really taken off, I think they are re-publishing everything as "Meg Cabot writing as Jenny Carroll" or whatever the appropriate pseudonym would be. I also checked this out because I know my sister will want to read it.

Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career - Herminia Ibarra. Blah blah blah, more job stuff. I doubt it addresses how to go from severe slacking to fulfilling employment, but I keep checking them out anyway. As if he could read my mind, back-jacket blurb-writer Randy Komisar promises that "Working Identity affords us the courage of common sense." And someone else said, "The book's message of hope and possibility -- that it is possible to reinvent careers and lives -- should be embraced by everyone thinking of transitions in today's turbulent world." Maybe it will be good! Maybe it will be terrible, in which case it is no big deal since I checked it out for free from the library.

Amelia Peabody's Egypt: A Compendium - edited by Elizabeth Peters and Kristen Whitbread. I love Elizabeth Peters and have for a long time. Particularly for her Vicky Bliss series (art historian who has wacky mad-cap adventures in Europe), and her one-off mystery novels. I like Amelia Peabody too - the first one was hilarious and informative. BUT, I kind of resent Amelia; because she has become so popular, Peters' editors want her to write nothing else. And Peters is getting pretty old. Why did I get this, then? First, I was happy to see a familiar name in an unexpected spot (in the back with the poetry and essays. I think Mr. Dewey Decimal was high, but that's another topic). Secondly, I know that I will read all of the Peabody's eventually, plus Peters (under her real name - Barbara Mertz) has written several history books on ancient Egypt and knows her stuff. The history of Victorian women archaeologists is interesting.

What She Saw - Lucinda Rosenfeld. Another one I picked up because I liked the dust jacket. Actually, I liked the dust jacket for the OTHER one by Lucinda Rosenfeld that I also picked up. But it was number 2 in a series, and this is number one. Here's what ubiquitous book-jacket guy says "Check your romantic illusions at the door -- Lucinda Rosenfeld's acerbically funny and remarkably assured debut novel catalogs the myriad humiliations, compromises, and misconceptions that add up to the history of one woman's 'love life.' This is a book that will make you laugh and wince in solidarity with its sexy, beleaguered heroine."
We'll see if I laugh and wince. Lucinda Rosenfeld is six months younger than I am and has two novels under her belt. Go, Lucinda! (I went to grade school with a girl named Lucinda and I thought it was one of the best names ever, although grade school Lucinda was kind of a spoiled brat. I'm sure she's outgrown it by now.)

Why She Went Home - Lucinda Rosenfeld - this is the one that drew me in because of the dust jacket. Some librarian must have thought it was catchy too, because they had it set jacket out. This is a moddish silhouette (in sky blue) of a girl (boots, mini jacket dress - I'm not making the mod stuff up) against a map. This is the second in the series after the one above, and in this novel the protagonist from the first (one Phoebe Fine) leaves Manhattan and moves to her hometown in New Jersey. Best book jacket blurb on this one says, "Lucinda Rosenfeld writes about all the things everyone thinks about his or her family but is too polite or timid to say. In a voice that is bitingly funny, exacting, and full of astute asides, Rosenfeld considers the question of how much a person's beginning's actually matter in the end." hmmm. We'll see about that! It's like these blurbs are personal challenges! Actually, we'll see if I get around to reading either one of them. But they have potential.

Bet Me - Jennifer Crusie - this is Crusie's latest, and I already read it once from the library when it first came out. It's a quick, enjoyable read and I don't have the paperback yet, and it was just sitting there taunting me from the shelf behind the check out desk. Taunting me, I tell you! Plus, I knew my sister would want to read it again too, and I'm thoughtful like that. Crusie writes very funny contemporary romances - but they're not just funny - she has great character voice too. Even minor characters are done better than some authors manage with their main characters. Fantastic bathtub/beach/airplane/couch/bus/wherever reading.

Modesty Blaise: The Gabriel Set-Up Peter O'Donnel. this is the comic book I was talking about. Except this isn't strictly speaking a comic like I was talking about the other day - it is a collection of comic strip panels that appeared in the Evening Standard. Modesty Blaise is an ass-kicking name-taking super-spy who has been kicking asses, etc. since the early sixties. I was only familiar with her through the Modesty Blaise novels, and had no idea there was a comic strip. I expect I *will* manage to get this one read and will see if she's all that. I suspect she is. Here's a blurb from Neil Gaiman on the back " I fell in love with Peter O'Donnell's astonishing heroine, Modesty Blaise, when I was twelve. She was the smartest, wisest, most beautiful and most dangerous woman I had ever encountered."

Wheee! Now to hurry up and finish reading What's The Matter With Kansas because it is due tomorrow. It's really good.

Central Branch

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Central Branch
Originally uploaded by jensect.
this is not my regular branch of the Multnomah County Library, but it is awesome nonetheless.

Goldengrove unleaving

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Monday, January 24, 2005
I guess the mysterious sylvan whisperings must have brought Gerard Manley Hopkins to mind. (OK, maybe not). I remember this poem from one of Prof. Westbrook's classes at PSU - the phrase that stuck in my head and keeps coming back is "Goldengrove unleaving". I love the sound of it. Try saying it - it is very satisfying. Anyway, the name of this poem is

Spring and Fall: to a young child

MARGARET, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie.
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

random trivia: One of my great (great?) grandfather's first name was Manley.
More poem-y goodness: This site is a cool resource. It is from the Library of Congress and designed for high school teachers: A Poem A Day for American High School Students. I haven't read all of them, but it is a nice place to zip over and read something if you're in the mood. They are mostly short and really accessable.

mysterious sylvan whisperings

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Monday, January 24, 2005
Right now I'm reading What's The Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won The Heart Of America by Thomas Frank. It is fascinating so far, and I will say a little more about it once I'm further in. I didn't want to forget and miss out on the chance to quote this little excerpt, though. Frank's writing style is engaging, but packed. He combines an enthusiastic love of words to topics that could, quite honestly, be very dry. Here's a small example that I had to use because of the phrase "mysterious sylvan whisperings." This is in reference to a fancy-schmancy part of Kansas City.

When I discovered that Mission Hills had been laid out by the same landscape architects responsible for River Oaks in Houston, home of Ken Lay and other Enron execs, I began to suspect that tastefully wooded lawns were some how the culprit, turning good men bad with their mysterious sylvan whisperings.

The rest of the chapter talks about how Kansas's homestead laws make it possible for bankrupt and jailed execs (embezzlers, frauds, tax evaders, etc.) to maintain ownership of these mansions even after they've declared bankruptcy. It really is interesting, I promise.

Neskowin Beach, kelp/seaweed

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Sunday, January 23, 2005

Neskowin Beach, kelp/seaweed
Originally uploaded by hummanna.
This is gorgeous - I think it looks like a hunk of amber or glass. That it is kelp makes it even more beautiful since it is so unexpected.

comics dabbler 2

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Saturday, January 22, 2005
Here are a couple more collections that I have read and/or am currently reading. Tonight's selection is brought to us by the letters: Alan Moore.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Alan Moore - I liked the first collection better than the second, but I would have to read them again to remember why. These stories are told in a breathless serial fashion which suits them perfectly. The League is a super-crime-fighting group assembled by the British government. The defacto leader (and one with the most common sense) is Mina Murray (formerly Mina Harker - Jonathan Harker's wife from Dracula). The rest of the team includes Alan Quartermain (from the H. Rider Haggard stories), Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, and the inimitable Captain Nemo, They are headquartered in the British Museum and have many thrilling adventures involving Fu Manchu, creatures from Mars, and the other everyday problems faced when one is part of an elite victorian comics crime-stopping squad.

Promethea - Alan Moore - Promethea is the embodiment of stories. That is to say, she is a mythical embodiment of the imagination, who takes temporary residence within mortal women (only one at a time, and it has to be the right woman). It sounds weird, and it IS weird. But the comics are good. I am not all the way through this series yet. So far there are 4 collected volumes out, and I have read 1-3. Anyway, it started in the late 90's and parts of it are a little dated, but not in ways that keep me from the story. The artwork is GORGEOUS. Currently (where I left off in book 3) , Promethea is following a path in the Immateria (the land of imagination) which leads the reader through little primers on egyptian magic, kabbala, tarot, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and other occult favorites.

El Corazon

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Friday, January 21, 2005

El Corazon
Originally uploaded by jensect.
I love the images on loteria cards. Before I knew what they were, I assumed they were some form of fortune telling cards. Knowing that these groovy images are used for playing bingo makes them somehow even more charming.

comics dabbler

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Thursday, January 20, 2005
Comics rule! Well, some of them anyway. I am a dabbling dabbler, the Duchess of Dabbleton, etc etc. I don't know everything about comics, or even much about them. But still - comics are cool! ( I feel like a 12 year old stating this, but 12 year olds are right about a lot of things).

I started reading comics only relatively recently. Until I realized how wonderful my library is, I thought there was no way I would be able to dip into various stories and see which ones would be a good fit. So, since the library rocks and has tons of trade paper versions of comics, I was able to check out some of the ones that I thought looked interesting.

Mostly, I haven't read many of the iconic comics (say, X-Men, Spider-man, JLA, etc), but that's because there is SO MUCH I can never figure out where a good place to start would be and would go crazy(er) without that backstory. I might be willing to take the time to figure it out for Batman, though. The ones I have read are probably very predictable, but I don't mind as long as I'm getting a good story. I was going to do a whole list thing, but that is too freaking long. So, I'll just put up maybe one at a time (with a list of issues to help me later on when I can't remember what I've read).

Sandman - Neil Gaiman - I finally finished these after waiting to get them in the right order from the library. I thought these were great, although I suspect they had a much bigger splash as they were coming out. This was one of the first comics (graphic novels, whatever) that I set out to read, and the first of this series was very horror-like and freaked me out but good. Certain horror stuff bothers me not at all, but some of it gives me the heebie jeebies FOREVER. I had read somewhere that they got better, and to keep pushing on and I'm glad I did. By the time it came to an end, I was sad but satisfied. And, as much as I'd like to say just skip the first one, you really can't because so many characters appear again. Here's the order to read the collected versions in. (don't worry - it's not some crazy made-up-by-me order)

Preludes & Nocturnes
A Doll's House
Dream Country
Season Of Mists
A Game of You
Fables & Reflections
Brief Lives
World's End
The Kindly Ones
The Wake

Through one eye of the 3-D machine

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Go see the rest of these super-cool pictures here.
It is an awesome photoset! Surreal and lovely.

faux profundity, reconditeness, and other job search vocab

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005
In an effort to be a better prepared candidate in that thing we call "looking for work", I have been reading Competency-Based Resumes: how to bring your resume to the top of the pile. I figured it wouldn't hurt to get up to date with the latest job-search jargon. What I hate is that there IS so much jargon. To my untrained ear it just sounds like Dr. Phil and Oprah sloganeering crossed with management seminar dogma. I wish this were a world where saying that I am honest, hard-working, quick to learn, conscientious, and a good typist would be enough. I'm not naive enough to think this is possible, hence brushing up on the jargon. What I have learned today: Competency-based skill assessment is all the rage. It says so right here on every single page up to chapter 4. It also has The Sphinx-style (from The Mystery Men) profound statements like In order to aim the arrow, you must see the target. Which, granted, is not bad advice, but it followed too close to a whole segment about Alice receiving directions from the Cheshire cat.

That being said, so far it isn't a BAD book, for what it is.

My vocabulary word of the day (that I just learned when checking to make sure I was spelling profundity right):

recondite adj : difficult to penetrate; incomprehensible to one of ordinary understanding or knowledge; "the professor's lectures were so abstruse that students tended to avoid them"; "a deep metaphysical theory"; "some recondite problem in historiography"

first goal

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005
I have made strides toward one of my first GOYLA 2005 goals (Get Off Your Lazy Ass): I have made progress in my re-write of 2003 nano. I printed it out, was able to read all but the last 30 or so pages (oh, Lord! So bad!), and have outlined what sounds like a good idea for going forward. I am sure once I am in the midst of it, it will seem like a less good idea. That's just the way it goes, though - I'd rather go forward with a less-brilliant plan than sit around and wait for the perfect idea to drop out of the sky into my brain. That's the beauty of GOYLA. Just do it any old way you can, and worry about making it pretty/perfect later on.

Prince is singing The Beautiful Ones in my iPod. I have a feeling he never has to GOYLA, because he is lacking the LA factor. But we can't all be Prince!

eiffel tower illuminated

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Monday, January 17, 2005

eiffel tower illuminated
Originally uploaded by Nyx.
I really like the contrast of the almost-dark sky and the lights on the tower.

code name: Frenchie

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Sunday, January 16, 2005
Leslita reminded me of another mix I made that I really liked. It's official name was Ooh, La La. But it's before-it-was-finished-name (what is that word? I know there is one) was Frenchie. Leslita was going on a trip to Paris, and I realized I had a bunch of french-language songs, and... well, you know. I branched out and decided that anything that was a) in french, b) referred to France was fair game. It was fun to try to find things that I thought would work. I looked all over for Oxo's Whirly Girl She comes from Paris, France/and she can really dance/ooh whirly whirly I tried the iTunes music store, I tried obvious compilations. Finally I found it on an 80's compilation at the library, but it just didn't work. I remembered it being much more fun than it actually is. But that's ok - I found some other good ones to work in its stead.

1. I Love Paris - Les Negresses Vertes - From Red Hot and Blue (the first one, and the best one that I've heard). I had this version, and an Ella Fitzgerald version. I love Ella and wanted to put her first, but hers was much slower and worked better at the end. This gets the accordion theme working hard right off the bat. Hurrah for Cole Porter!

2. Complainte De La Butte - Rufus Wainwright - - From the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. I like how Rufus sings french - I think his voice lends itself to it. I actually think I like him singing french better than english.

3. The Night You Can't Remember - The Magnetic Fields - more accordion, and more importantly ukulele! You were an army officer/and I just a rockette/the night you can't remember/is the night I can't forget I love this song. It is so silly, and so bittersweet at the same time. That's not an easy combination, I think. You don't remember Paris, hon/But it remembers you. From the fantastic 69 Love Songs.

4. Lo Boob Oscillator - Stereolab - I think I got this from the High Fidelity soundtrack. This is great - all french singing, and it sounds like Snoopy and the gang could be dancing to it (wearing berets, but of course).

5. Flying - Chris Isaak - I was playing a club by the Eiffel tower/ taking a break for half an hour . No french, but obligitory Eiffel tower mention. This is a lightly swinging love song to a brief encounter, with Chris singing toward the higher end of his range (which I dig). Monday was the day we met/Tuesday I was flyin/flyyyyyyyyyyyyyiiiiiiiin. Yes, he rhymes it with cryin, that is just his way. I never met a girl like that before/ every day I miss her more. It sounds really good through headphones.

6. Rebel Prince - Rufus Wainwright - More Rufus! Is there a name I am more likely to mangle when speaking than Rufus Wainwright? Only time will tell. This one is mostly in english, but it has plenty of french in it. And my favorite sing-along flower moments, ever. Marigold, marigold, marigoooooooooold

7. Sympathique - Pink Martini - my most favorite sing along french song, ever! (I should have an awards ceremony). Jaunty. French. Swingin'. Just hearing this makes one feel like a cosmopolitan citizen of the world. Unless, of course, one grew over-tired of it when it was ubiquitous. If that is the case, I am sorry for you and hope you can regain the joy that this song is capable of bringing. My rudimentary french indicates that this is one of those songs where the lyric runs counter to the music. I think it is something about not wanting to work, to just sit at ones window and smoke ciggies and forget all the things that are making one miserable. That's sort of in the spirit of French songs, anyway. I recently read that the song Beyond The Sea is originally French, and much more melancholy than the Carnival Cruise lines would like you to believe. In related news, this reminds me of a story I heard on NPR: the summer Sympathique came out it was the number one downloaded ring-tone in all of France! In random news - this also makes me think of one of my favorite english words: Defenestrate. It means to throw out or through a window. WordNet gives the following example: "The rebels stormed the palace and defenestrated the President." Use it in a sentence today!

8. Michelle - The Beatles -This song always makes me think of my high school pal Michelle F and a frosty winter evening begging for canned beans. OK, it was in Florida, so it was more like a 50 degree evening, but still. One winter we were out Ingathering - collecting canned food and money for "the less fortunate." A lot of groups do it (Boyscouts, Pathfinders, etc.) and it is a good cause, but I have never really loved doing anything door to door. We were dropped off in a neighborhood we never went to (we both lived in a dorm, so we didn't go much of anywhere), and let loose. We came across a homeless gentleman who was ingathering on his own behalf. He asked us for our names, Michelle told him, and he proceeded to sing this song to us! Michelle, ma belle/ these are words that go together well/ my Michelle. It was a little strange, but sweet. Paul McCartney does not sing in French as well as Pink Martini, but it doesn't matter because he's a Beatle.

9. The Legionnaire's Lament - The Decemberists - The first time I heard the Decemberists, I was in the back seat of a friend's car, trying to make sense of what I was hearing. Is it Robyn Hitchcock? no. hrmmm. Is it that other guy whose name I don't remember? no. It was a lot to take in while in a moving vehicle, let me tell you. By the time I heard this song, I was a goner. What's not to love about the story of a Parisian Legionnaire longing for the city he will probably never see again? It's been a year or more, since they shipped me to this foreign shore/ fighting in a foreign war, so far away from my home...... the sweetly sleeping sweeping of the Seine/ Lord I don't know if I'll ever be back again. The Decemberists would probably have to actually run me down in their touring van for me to disavow them. And even then, maybe not. There is a camel in disrepair! There is self medicating in the sun/ pinch doses of lauuuuuudinuuuuuuum, for heaven's sake! (which is a lot of fun to sing out loud, let me assure you.) Like Jill Sobule below, the Decemberists make top-notch story songs.

10. Resistance Song - Jill Sobule - Love Jill Sobule - she is one of the masters of the story song. She is mainly known for her two novelty hits (I Kissed A Girl, and Supermodel). They are both great songs, but neither of them really hint at what a great songwriter she is. I mean, she writes these great little vignettes and has a whole story with characters and story arc, for god's sake - in THREE MINUTES. Amazing. This one had to go on this mix because of the heavy accordion, and of course the Resistance theme. It has a great resistance-style la la la la singalong chorus. I had this dream we were in the Resistance/ somewhere in France fighting traitors and fascists/ you were my mistress, yes you were a woman/ but I knew it was you by the shape of your mouth/ You called me Maurice and I had a small mustache, played clarinet in a decadent band/ until we hid in the bushes, we shot from the bushes, made love in the bushes like there was no tomorrow/ la la la la la la la la la la..... There is a heavy repitition of the word bushes (so much so that my sister calls it The Bushes Song).

11. Lady Marmalade - Christina Aguilera, L'il Kim, Mya, Pink - This song is so trashy, but it also has a certain diva-like charm. Listen, especially for L'il Kim's contributions. She knows how to update a classic: You come through with the money in the garter belts/ let them know we got their cake, straight out the gate/ we be independent women some mistake us for whores/ I'm sayin' why spend mine, when I can spend yours?/ disagree? well that's you and I'm sorry/ I'ma keep playing these cats out like atari/ wearin' high heeled shoes, getting love from the Jews[editors comment: WTF?]/ four bad ass chicks from the Moulin Rouge.

12. Voulez Vous - ABBA To go right in the middle of the rockin' french section of the CD. This is not my most favorite ABBA song ever, but a song can be a mediocre ABBA song, and still be better than most other songs! Voulez Vous!

13. Tour Heart Throb - All Girl Summer Fun Band - Unsurprisingly, I love this song: I hope some day you and I could go to France/ yeah yeah yeah yeah/ We'll hold hands/ and I'll get to see your underpants. The yeah yeah yeahs are reason enough alone to love this song, but you've got to really love a song that says 'underpants.' For real.

14. Canned Candies - Stereolab - More all-french. I don't like this one as much as Lo Boob Oscillator, but it is very pretty and has bells. I have no idea what it is about. Except I think she says un chien at the beginning, and I think that means dog. Or maybe Dogg. Maybe this is a clever Snoop Dogg cover (but I have my doubts).

15. Underwear - The Magnetic Fields - Another equal opportunity song from the Magnetic Fields. A pretty girl, in her underwear/ if there's anything better in this world who cares? and then the french bit - about love and death (what else?) La mort, c'est la mort /mais l'amour, c'est l'amour/ La mort, c'est seulement la mort/ mais l'amour, c'est l'amour And then back to underwear! A pretty boy, in his underwear/ if there's a better reason to jump for joy, who cares?

16. Les Poissons - Rene Auberjonois - Heh. Cheeeeezy (fromagey?) french accent from the chef in The Little Mermaid. Les Poissons, les poissons, how I love les poissons/love to chop and to serve little fish/ first I cut off their heads/ then I pull out their bones.... A children's classic! Sacre Bleu!

17. L'accordeoniste - Edith Piaf - I happened to have an Edith Piaf master series disc, but I it didn't have La Vie En Rose, which is her most famous song (I think). Anyway, that is all sweeping and epic and lovely, but this one really hits the accordion buttons pretty hard, and is fast and rollicking good old-time all-french fun. And has the record-scratchy song, which adds a certain old-french veracity. Plus, not the first thing one would expect to hear when noting there is an Edith Piaf song on a compilation.

18. I Love Paris - Ella Fitzgerald - Ella! the thing I love about Ella's voice is that it is so bright and clear, but also rich. She makes me happy when I hear her, even if it is a sad song. Ella Fitzgerald and Cole Porter are two great tastes that taste great together. I love Paris in the springtime/ I love Paris in the fall/ I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles/ I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles...... I love Paris, why oh why do I love Paris? Because my love is near.

That's a lot of paper

| On
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Today I am printing out my 2003 nano masterpiece* Finally, after many trials and tribulations (which included installing a whole new version of Word - which I despise, more on that later - troubleshooting my printer, and then picking up paper from across the room. Printer doesn't like troubleshooting, apparently), I am printing! Hooray!

How many pages it works out to blows my mind. I know it's short compared to, say, Stephen King, or Jennifer Crusie,or any other author at all, but it is the single longest piece of anything I have ever written. So far it is just under 60K words, I expect it will get longer by at least a third by the time I am finished. But, just to take stock of where I am at the moment, I decided to print the whole thing out so I could read it in one big stack instead of 40 different files. At first I was going to use standard manuscript formatting (details found here.) - but that was waaaaaay too much paper. I struck a compromise after running the following comparisons in Word.

Courier 12pt double spaced with 1" margins all around = 291 pages
Courier 12pt 1.5 spaced with 1" margins = 217 pgs
Courier 10pt double spaced with 1"' margins = 211 pgs
Courier 10pt 1.5 spaced with 1" margins = 157 pgs

I ended up going the 157 page route, which I think will be just fine for readabliity. I might even get it all printed out some time this century too, now that I have disciplined the printer. Yay!

* the words nano and masterpiece are usually said together with some irony. I do not claim that it is particularly brilliant, but I do claim that I did it - and I am proud of the accomplishment, no matter how humble. Even if you take away the thinking up the story part - that's a LOT of typing!!!

Snow ice and water

| On
Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Snow ice and water
Originally uploaded by stureyk.
I love the color - it looks so cold.

The Gap

| On
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
So, I am in major job-search mode again. Working - I have no problem with it! Have I enjoyed my time off? Absolutely. Am I ready to work hard, have some responsibilities outside my personal sphere, and make money once again? Absolutely. Am I really racking my brain to come up with good reasons for my 3 year employment gap? you know it!

Here are some contenders. I'm trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, and it's not as easy as it would seem:
Abducted by aliens: Pros: no real way to check and see if it is true. cons: crazy land
Babies: pro: nobody can really give you shit for taking time off to have babies. con: absolute falsehood. I could get pictures of babies from my cousin, but I really don't think this is maintainable over the long haul.
Time Spent in Nervous Hospital: pro: I can't think of one. con: putative employer will worry that I am headed back to N.H. Also, absolute falsehood.
Writing Novels: pro: true, if only by the most generous description of novel. con: someone may ask to read one.
Sabbatical: pros: sounds vaguely academic, is kind of true. cons: sounds vaguely pompous, and kind of a cop out.

I just don't think they are ready for the truth - that I was abducted by aliens, implanted with alien babies, had to spend time in the nervous hospital to recover, where I wrote my novel (but it is in the alien's language so nobody but my alien babies, and my alien baby daddies (Kang and Kodos) would be able to understand). The truth? They can't handle the truth!

disco ball

| On
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

disco ball
Originally uploaded by iv0.
So red, so happy, so round, so fun!


| On
Monday, January 10, 2005
I just watched Clueless again yesterday while I did some mending. I think I have probably seen it about 5 or 6 times now, and each time I notice more of the Emma parallels. It is still a good movie - sure, the fashions and music are out of date, but they only would have been contemporary for the summer it came out anyway.
Cher/Emma is a young woman of means with no mother and a doting yet somewhat absent father. She likes to arrange things to her precise specifications, and sees no reason to stop with herself or things directly related and branches out to arranging others lives with no compunction. Due to her status/wealth/charm, she is gets away with it most of the time. I always get the idea that while Emma/Cher is a meddling meddler who meddles that she is usually coming from a pretty decent place. It may benefit her personally, but it will also be good for others. A meddling do-gooder. Amy Heckerling did a great job of mapping the story on to a modern setting. Here are some of the character parallels:

Cher - Emma
Josh - Mr. Knightly - I know a lot of people are skeeved by the step-brother thing. It doesn't bother me for the following reasons: Josh only lived with them a very short time when they were both children, and Jane Austen had her heroines marrying thier cousins all of the time. It was fairly common then, so I just wave my hands and say 'whatever'.
Daddy - Daddy. Dan Hedaya kills me in this movie. I love when Christian comes over to pick up Cher and he says, "Be good to my little girl. I have a .45 and a shovel, and I don't think anyone would miss you." (aprox)
Dionne - ?(could be Mrs. Weston as a good friend who knows Cher/Emma and is happily in a relationship of her own..)
Elton - Mr. Elton - officious ass whom Cher/Emma (in her oblivious way) is trying to fix up with a friend when in fact Mr./Elton has the hots for Cher/Emma.
Amber - Mrs. Elton?? She is an obnoxious pain in the ass like Mrs. Elton, but not connected exclusively to Elton...unsure.
Tai - Harriet Smith - Tai is a transfer student, Harriet is an undistinguished student with uncertain parentage. In both cases Cher/Emma take a social risk to befriend and "help." Of course, her help turns out being a big mess which is sort of the point.
Travis (stoner/skateboarder) - George Martin (Farmer). Tai/Harriet is attracted to this character, but Cher/Emma thinks he isn't good enough for her, and that with Cher/Emma's help she will do "far better."
Christian - Frank Churchill - the too good to be true man that Cher/Emma is convinced she must be in love with. It turns out in both instances that this character is unavailable.
homosexuality - Jane Fairfax - the reasons why the above is not available to Cher/Emma.
Lucy (the maid) - Miss Bates - at first I thought there wasn't a Miss Bates parellel, but then I remember Cher gets into a pointless fight with Lucy when Cher's world is turning to shit, which is just about the same time that Emma issues a devastatingly cutting remark to Miss Bates. Everyone turns on Emma, and her bad time gets worse. In both instances it is in front of Josh/Mr. Knightly, and it is also the only instance I can think of where there is the same sort of upper/lower social dynamic.

There are some really obvious parallels to plot points too - the whole thing is not an exact copy of Emma, but the scenes are there, particualry where the Tai/Harriet character is concerned. I'm thinking mainly of

*the portrait Emma paints/picture Cher takes of Harriet/Tai that Elton asks for.
*The bandage that Tai/Harriet keeps because it was on Elton's finger (so gross!)
*When Christian/Frank Churchill rescues Tai/Harriet from the mall rats/gypsies
*When Josh/Mr. Knightly rescues Tai/Harriet from embarrassment at the dance. (and consequently how happy this makes Cher/Emma)
*Tai/Harriet falling for Josh/Mr. Knightly and Cher/Emma being devastated, since she only just realized how she felt about him. (in Looooove)
more later, I have to make dinner.

Mixing it up

| On
Saturday, January 08, 2005
I love making mix CDs. I loved making mix tapes too, but they were a lot more infrequent due to the hassle of pausing the tape, switching the CD, unpausing the tape, etc. Mix CDs and I became very good friends in 2001 when I first got my iBook. I began making them for road trips and it started going crazy from there. One of the more recent mixes I made was for my friend, who I will call Blondie. Blondie's birthday is right before Christmas, which sucks - who can compete with Jesus for a birthday? So we try to find little ways to make it better. Of course because I suck, she still doesn't have her Christmas presents, but really - that's a story for another post. I tried to pick songs that I thought she would like. She's a fan of harmonizing and generally prefers a more gentle sound. If you follow any music blogs you will no doubt recognize a lot of these. Anyway, here's the Blondie's B-Day Mix with commentary:

1. Here's To Love - Ewan McGregor and Renee Zelwegger - I know she loves Ewan (who doesn't?), and Down With Love in particular. Ewan plays Catcher Block - man's man, ladies man, and man about town. I still don't get the lyric about babysitters, but that can be the something new I learn on another day.

2. Strange Magic - Darrin Hayes. I have actual shame about loving this song. It is like the elevator music on the way to the easy listening hell, YET I LOVE IT. I have no shame about some other songs that might be considered mockable, including other songs by Savage Garden - I love their I Want You song - you know the one with the Cherry Cola. Fun, fast, poppy. This one is slow, syrupy, saccharine sweet - but I cannot get enough! It must be his voice, or more likely some sort of hypnotic suggestion. Easily sounding like it could be from a Disney movie in the 50's (the beginning part, anyway), it is actually from the Ella Enchanted soundtrack. The movie is cute, and this song is crack (to me - I realize I am probably alone. here's hoping Blondie liked it or at least doesn't want to jab her ears with a fork when she hears it)

3. Float On - Ben Lee I didn't realize that this was a Modest Mouse cover, because I am not always too bright. Anyway, I like this song - when I first heard it through my crappy computer speakers I thought it was a typewriter at the beginning. I love typewriter songs! (Dear mr. and mrs. troublemaker by the AGSFB comes immediately to mind). But I also like this song with its gentle insistance that things will be ok eventually, even if they are shitty right now. It is sort of from a detached but concerned POV. good news is on the way

4. The Mayor of Simpleton - XTC Love this song, so much. When all logic grows cold and all thinking gets done/you'll be warm in the arms of the Mayor of Simpleton. For the overthinkers among us.

5. Memory Lane - Elliott Smith - This one is like so many Elliott Smith songs - it sounds so beautiful, so bouncy, but is a complete heart-breaker/kick in the gut. Honestly, I was going from a 'sounds pretty' standpoint when I put it on this mix. But I think that knowing the Mayor's name is Fear/his force patrols the pier is something. Hey! Maybe I should collect songs that refer to city elected officials. This is part of the mayoral run of this mix cd.

6. Be My Baby - Travis I like Travis from the The Man Who era a lot. They've gone and gotten kind of hippy/jambandish which ruins it for me. shakes fist at hippies I'll never forget being up far too late one night working on a project and hearing Why Does It Always Rain on Me, and seeing the video with the dead fox, the water, the kilts, etc. It was surreal, and at 3am just the ticket. Its been downhill from there, if you ask me, which I realize nobody has. Anyway, this is a great cover of a girl group classic.

7.Every Little Bit Hurts - The Spencer Davis Group - with young Steve Winwood on vocals. I like this song, and it seemed like it would be in one of those British romantic comedies from the mid-late nineties, which Blondie is a big fan of. So from this point, I tried to think of this as my own british romantic comedy soundtrack. I largely failed since I am neither british, nor living in a romantic comedy, but it was fun to try.

8. Look For Me (I'll Be Around) - Neko Case See how fast I came off the british romcom rails? This one has the creepy western reverb/vibraphone sound found in David Lynch movies everywhere! And Neko Case - amazing! I put this on here because I think everyone should know about her. This song is slow, slinky, sexy, and sad. And reverbilicious.

9. Grace Cathedral Hill - The Decemberists I find myself practically incapable of making a mix without a Decemberists track on it these days, and this one is lovely, so I put it on. I have a theory that Colin Meloy has actually invented a new vowel sound, but it isn't very well thought out yet.

10. Polly - The Long Blondes - crazy catchy retro sounding tune, straight from the slow dance at the sockhop. One could also hear this while waiting for the waitress on rollerskates to bring hamburgers and milkshakes to the car, while ones date tries his luck getting hands inside the inevitable angora sweater.

11. The Dress Looks Nice On You- Sufjan Stevens Banjo, baby! OK, this is just a pretty, pretty song. I can see a lot of life in you. Not a bad thing to hear.

12.It's There - The All Girl Summer Fun Band One of the best crush songs, ever. At the part of the crush where you are trying to convince yourself that it's not all in your head, and that the object of your desire is secretly crushing on you too. For delusionals everywhere! plus, they sing about tying your shoelaces together, which is just adorable. oh, dear, you'd better stay away from me/ for fear I'll tell you how I feel/oh sure, it's something good, its something real/ oh yeah, it's there

13. Kyle's Mom is a Bitch - Eric Cartman - what can I say? Blondie loves Southpark!

14. I'm So Thankful - the Ikettes - I was still in my BritRomCom state of mind, despite all of my digressions and transgressions. This has great horns and motown sound.

15. Wildflowers - Tom Petty - my friend (not Blondie) insists that Tom Petty belongs in my hall of shame, the way Rod Stewart is in hers, or Billy Joel is in my sisters. She is wrongedy wrong wrong. I insist that Tom Petty is not NEARLY as shamefull as RS or BJ. This song is a favorite of his slower ones - it is so heartfelt and sincere. I also heard a busker singing it this summer while I stood in line for a sno-cone before the cops made him leave. He did a nice job with it. Way to go, anonymous busker at Art in the Pearl! Ummm, Blondie really loves Art in the Pearl, therefore this was an obvious choice.

16. Four Seasons In One Day - Crowded House - I don't care what anyone says - Neil Finn writes amazing pop songs! In addition to being an amazing pop song, this one has very nice harmonies, which as I mentioned above, Blondie really likes.

17. Jacques Derrida - Scritti Politti Oh, how I love this song! It showed up on fluxblog not that long ago. It brought back how much and how obsessively I listened to Cupid and Psyche back in the day (although this song was not from that album). Mr. Scritti Politti has one of the sweetest sounding pure pop voices I have ever heard. So, this song had very little to do with Blondie, and a great deal with how much I needed to put this on something I could listen to easily in the car. Plus - it is a great way to expand or reinforce your vocabulary ( rapacious, voracious, nation-state, assuage, living-wage ) and familiarity with French deconstructionists. For more than you ever wanted to know, check here.

18. mahnamahna - Muppet Show My friend PSC and I used to sing this for HOURS. I thought Blondie would like it, and it sort of bookends the Cartman song.

19. Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve - I know, I know. Overdramatic, used in a nike commercial, dated to the mid-late 90's. I Care Not. I love it. I have identified that I am pretty much a sucker for any symphonic pop songs, and this is the start of more than one on this mix. It is the kind of thing Blondie would like too, so it's not like I'm torturing her.

20. Flowers In The Windows - Travis Another Travis song, and not even from The Man Who. It is jolly, jaunty, and hopeful (and sounds that way, unlike that sneaky E. Smith) and therefore deemed appropriate for the mix. Not my favorite song ever or anything, but I like it and thought Blondie would like it too. It has disturbing seagull sounds, however.

21. The Shining - Badly Drawn Boy Everytime I type this out, I picture The Shinning from the Simpson's Tree House of Terror. Use the Shinning, boy! This song fulfills the BritRomCom AND symphonic themes. If only it were called The Mayor of the Shining it would be perfect. This is appropriate to the mix also because Blondie bought me a ticket to see Badly Drawn Boy once. She hated the opening act, and then the band proceeded to chainsmoke through the whole show despite it being a non-smoking venue. I think she was bummed that they did not sound just like they did throughout About A Boy. This song sounds like the sound she prefers, so hopefully this will help get the smoke out of her lungs and improve the memory.

22. Innocent When You Dream- Tom WaitsTom Waits is a werewolf, I am sure of it. Anyway, she really likes this song, but had no Tom Waits AT ALL. She remembered it from the soundtrack to the movie Smoke (excellent), and had asked me to help her figure out what song it was. I did, and put it on here for her. It was her birthday, after all.

kacey models

| On
Friday, January 07, 2005

kacey models
Originally uploaded by hundertwasser.
Love the colors, the dress, and the attitude.

Mid-week, New Year

| On
Thursday, January 06, 2005
So, I busted out the iCal after the new year in an effort to be more purposeful and productive in 2005. 2004, (I first typed 2--4, I should have left it because 2004 was like a dirty word)2004, you sucked. I am trying to keep expectations low for 2005, but I remain optimistic. Anyway, back to iCal I think it will be tremendously useful because when I get spinning my wheels the most, I usually just really need to focus. This program lets me do that without being TOO obsessive. I haven't quite figured out the correct amount of to do listing yet, though. Somewhere between having a check mark for every glass of water I drink, and "survive until 2006".

In shallow Alias news, they need to figure out a way for Rick Yune to be on every week. yowza.

I have some predictable thoughts on Veronica Mars, Alias, and Lost - but they will have to wait for another time. My To Do list is telling me I need to still answer some email and put away all of my CDs before I go to bed.

When worlds collide

| On
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Ok, that is definitely a little dramatic for the following, but I'm fine with that. First, I should probably explain that I am an observer by nature. Observer, rather than participant, to clarify. There are a few web forums that I have followed off and on for a few years (since Salon's Tabletalk days, actually). It's called lurking, and although I feel I am a benevolent lurker it is still a little strange to be in a position of knowing so much about people who know nothing at all about me. Maybe one day, but maybe not.

Flickr is the first website that I have actually worked up the nerve to participate in. I signed up for Flickr because I wanted free hosting for my garden pictures for a garden blog. Over (a very short) time, Flickr became far more important to me than the garden journal, although I imagine it will eventually level out. (It is a great site by the way, and very easy and friendly to use. You should try it, if you haven't already). The point of all of this is reading the blog of a poster in a forum I follow (see how convoluted!) she mentioned the blog of one of my flickr contacts. It is sort of strange and circular and makes me wonder if the internet is self-selecting in a way. That even if I hadn't lurked here or there that I would still end up in proximity to certian people because of shared interests, tastes, and inclinations.

2005, baybee

| On
Monday, January 03, 2005
The year of the rooster! My year! I hope so, anyway. For 2005 I am trying to shake off the mantle of inertia that has kept me within a 100 mile radius of my house for 365 days! OK, I did do a little bit of travel, but it was all in state. How sad is that? SAD!

So, that being said, I am trying to actually DO the things I keep thinking I will do. I have gone through my closets and jettisoned all the non-fitters, out-of-stylers, and otherwise repellant to me now clothing. I have even gone through my t-shirt drawer, which was quite an undertaking. So - my motto for 2005 is Get Off Your Lazy Ass.

We'll see how it goes! Today's tasks - clean off desk, update address book (so I can throw away all those scraps of paper with names and phone numbers), take the 4 garbage bags of rejected clothing to goodwill. That should be doable. I am also trying to squeeze in the CD project, but that's almost done so it shouldn't be a problem.

More on books, movies, television, comics and all the other things I love so much later.