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psychic frequency

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Monday, February 28, 2005
This has been the strangest month for out of the blue contacts:
1) Old friend I've known since 4th grade who lives on the opposite side of country emails me
2) run into former co-worker at the opera. She just happened to be the very usher in my very row.
3) different former co-worker calls out of blue and says "why don't you come over for lunch?"
4) friend from Texas calls up and says "am in your state tomorrow - let's have dinner" (this is actually code for "can I hang out at your house until I have to catch my flight home," but whatever.)
5) whole freelance thing
6) This one is convoluted - Blondie attended PIFF - she ran into a former customer from the place we both used to work at. Former customer is in knitting circle with a former co-worker of mine. Former customer passed this on to former co-worker, who then requested my email. Very convoluted, very strange.

So, if for some reason I am broadcasting at a louder than normal psychic frequency, I would like to point some psychic rays at a giant pile of money. We need to meet, and soon. I swear, there were more crazy coincidences, but I can't remember what they are right now.

henge shadow

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Sunday, February 27, 2005

henge shadow

We went to Stonehenge yesterday. No, really. No, not that one, the one in Washington!

It was a great day for a drive and was mucho fun. One day I would like to visit The Other Stonehenge, but in the meantime I will drive to Washington state intoning the Stonehenge song from This Is Spinal Tap.

(edited in 2015 to fix busted formatting.)

The Devil In Love

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Sunday, February 27, 2005
The Devil In Love by Jacques Cazotte

(#6) - I've had this book for a long time and never read it, until now! I dug around in my bookshelves to find it because my sister had just gotten The Master and Marguerite from the library which I vaguely recalled was something to do with the Devil and his love life, so I searched around until I found this title. I couldn't remember the name and it was driving me crazy. Once I found it, I thought maybe now is the time to read it. I originally bought it because it was mentioned repeatedly in The Ninth Gate by Arturo Perez-Reverte. (the book is really REALLY much better than the movie, even though the movie has Johnny Depp).

The Devil In Love reinforces some basic rules of the universe. The first is that any time you think you are going to play a trick on the Devil and win, think twice. The second rule is read the first again, and let it really sink in. I am sure this book reads a little more smoothly in the original French (if I could read French easily), but the translation might not have been my issue with some of the speech patterns and cadences (although if it had been a little longer I probably would have sunk right into it) - it may have more to do with the fact that it was first published in 1772. I am sure there are all sorts of political allegories that I missed going on within this novel since it came about in such a tumultuous time in French history. Anyway, this book is considered one of the first published works of "fantastic fiction," which is pretty cool.

cast of characters:
The Devil - as himself
Alvaro - the hapless, lovesick yet arrogant hero
Biondetta - The Devil in disguise! It's a prelude to an Elvis song!!

The book ends rather abruptly with someone advising Alvaro that he had better get married to someone who is not the Devil, and SOON. I understand from the forward that Cazotte had plannd for this to be just the first half of the story, which explains the anti-climactic ending.

red skirt

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Friday, February 25, 2005

red skirt
Originally uploaded by lomokev.
I love how the color really pops in this photo. I found it in a great flickr group called A Pair or Two. It is one of the things I love about flickr - so many different ways to look at things!

better now

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Thursday, February 24, 2005
I am no longer crazy like I was the other day - sleep has been had! Vitamin D from the sun (the very best kind as long as you have appropriate sunscreen) has been had!

Perhaps best of all (although it is hard to top sleep) is good news on the project front. I guess the work I did was acceptable to the ultimate client. Hooray! Will find out more details tomorrow.

Ooh - almost forgot - downloaded the latest iPod updater, and now I have the shuffle songs feature available from the main menu!! Yay! It was never a huge hassle to make it shuffle songs, but now it is even easier. Right now Prince is singing Kiss and things are right in my corner of the world once more.

In Television news, VH1 has been running a great series on hip hop. I hope they replay the whole thing - what I caught tonight was very interesting. The thing that stuck out in my head was all of these guys saying that Rap made it acceptable to talk about what was going on in your neighborhood - to document life as you live it. It just reminded me of something I read Jennifer Crusie say about writing - about how only you can write the book of your heart. I know! Hip Hop and J. Crusie are not two topics that seem to naturally belong together, but it is all about creativity and being true to your own creative voice. The Crusie quote came about because someone was sad that she would never write as well as her literary heroes. Crusie said she was glad she didn't write just like her heroes -because she wanted to be true to her own voice. I am not doing either the quote or the tv show justice - it just struck a chord with me. You have to be true to your own ideas. They interviewed Outkast, who are HUGE right now but were considered crazy outsiders from the sticks when they first came along. Everything was all about NY and LA, but here they came from Atlanta and they just made a space that was their own and continued to do their own thing. They had conviction of the validity of their own experience. There will always be copy cats - but they are not the ones pushing the boundries of what people think is possible. God bless the weirdos and people doing their own thing because they can, or because they must. The world is a better place because of them.

treeline [i need spring]

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

treeline [i need spring]
Originally uploaded by ronky.
I really like the title of this pic, and the forced perspective.

full moon late night weirdness

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Was it the claritin in too close conjunction to the excederin, too close to bedtime? Maybe it was the full (or almost full) moon. Maybe it was trying to do something using my brain (adding my own links in the side bar. check it out -->) after my brain was trying to get some rest. Whatever the reason, I had the worst night of sleep I've had in months. I can't really complain because generally sleep is something I'm good at - but man. After I finally dozed off around 2 - 2:30 am, I was awakened by horrific screeching and falling noises by the cats. I should point out that when I finally drug my sorry behind to bed, Louie (the cat) was perched on the end of my bed staring at NOTHING like it was going to attack when he wasn't looking. That's a little off putting right there. It wasn't just the paranoid stares of the cat that got me tense -they were building on an already established paranoid foundation.

Earlier in the night there was a call - I couldn't get to the phone because I was programming the VCR and other people had stuff in their laps so we let the machine get it - no message. We don't have caller ID. (I know! How 20th centrury of us.) Normally I would think "no big deal - if it was important, they would have left a message." But someone on our street had their house broken into a couple of weeks ago and there was a front page news story about the rise of break-ins in our part of town. AND, one of the women in the story said that she thought the burglers (who had broken in before) were calling to see if they were home or not. So when the cats got into a full-on WWE smackdown on the stairs, I of course thought they were reacting to some sort of home invasion. Blergh. If I wasn't in fight or flight mode (I believe I did some yelling and flipped on all of the lights - I'm glad I didn't wake anybody else up) I would have realized that if the cats were scared they would be hiding under something rather than dashing headlong to danger. They are sensible like that.

I did finally get to sleep, but the cat kept walking over my head all night. And this morning I was awakened by many police sirens and helicopters. (to the best that my sister and I can figure out, it was either due to an enromous drug bust or someone getting hit by a car. I'm voting drug bust because it fits my paranoid theories the best.)

In short - I want a nap, and an immediate cessation to all crime so I can start worrying about something else.

perfect park perfect bench

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Monday, February 21, 2005

perfect park perfect bench
Originally uploaded by byrdiegyrl.
Isn't this lovely? It looks like a park bench in OZ or somewhere other than right here on prosaic old planet earth.

project movies

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Sunday, February 20, 2005
So, today I was working working working on my project. I thought I would surely get it all done today and not have to worry at all tomorrow with the 4pm deadline. ha ha ha. One day you would think I'd learn. So, while I was painting and gluing and cutting things out, I decided to watch movies. Movies during projects have to be a particular kind for me - something I've seen many times before is a good type, because then I can just sort of listen along and I don't lose a lot of time watching and not working. I don't know why I like doing projects to movies more than music, but I do. I like writing to music, though. Anyway:
1. Ever After - I finally got this on DVD for Christmas - we had it in VHS, but DVD is just so much better. I hadn't seen this Cinderlla retelling for a while, PLUS there was a certain design on the jacket that I am supposed to incorporate into my project, so I chose it. In addition, I like Drew Barrymore (even with her crazy accent in this), and Dougray Scott is just too cute and charming (as he should be, as the prince). And Angelica Houston is PERFECT.

2. The Wedding Singer - This is when my overall theme started to develop - Drew Barrymore movies? Just wait and see. I love this movie - it is Adam Sandler at his sweetest, but with a little of his trademark rage in appropriate places. My sister and I still say things you could have told me YESTERDAY, as Sandler's character says to the girl who jilted him at the alter by saying "I don't ever want to marry you." PLUS, lots of great 80's tunes and a reminder that not every garment constructed in that decade was completely horrible. It really is one of the better "set in the 80's" movies that I've seen. Although now that I think of it, I'm not sure there are others. Are there? Billy Idol cracks me up in this movie every time.

3. Cinderella - The Disney Animated version - this ties together with the others because it is Cinderella, which Ever After also was, which had Drew Barrymore. It all makes sense in my head, anyway. There are parts of this movie that are really stupid and dated, and there are parts that are just lovely and charming. I have a memory that may be false (although I don't think it is) of being sick at school (at a young age) and my Dad coming to pick me up and taking me to see this movie instead of going home. Good things about this movie: The Fairy Godmother scene - classic, really; the little animals making a dress for Cinderella (and the whole Cinderelly song. I know I should probably hate it, but I can't! They sound like the chipmunks!); the ball. Things that are bad: why WHY why does she feel the need to make clothes for mice? That's just crazy. Cats are typecast as being represented by the evil Lucifer. I mean, with a name like that does he stand a chance? Things I noticed this watching: The two stupid step-sisters (it is really a stretch to call them wicked - they are venal and mean and stupid, but that does't make wicked in my book. Their mother, on the other hand - totally wicked.) remind me of Miss Bingly and the other one from the A & E adapatation of Pride and Prejudice. Prince Charming - totally a himbo. He gets about 5 lines of dialogue (that's being generous), and manages to look completely vacuous for a CARTOON. That's some himbosity! And the final thing I'll note here is that Lucifer the cat totally has opposing thumbs! This is disturbing - moreso than shirts but no pants on all the mice! Lucifer uses his thumb and gripping abilities to keep poor Gus trapped under the bowl. Oh! I lied - one more thing I noticed - the beginning says it is from the Perrault version, which apparently differs from the Grimm version by having the pumpkin and fairy godmother (or so the opening of Ever After would have me believe - I guess I could do a little research on my own). ANYWAY, this reminds me of the Cinderella Pumpkins (also known as french pumpkins) that I see at the farmer's market in the fall. They are beautiful bright orange, and look just the trick for making a carriage (opposed to making a jack-o-lantern). If you scroll down on this page you'll see a picture.

4. The Big Lebowski - this ties in because of Steve Buscemi! He was also in the Wedding Singer (and brilliant, of course). I love this movie. It is so freaking weird and just rambles all over Los Angeles, sort of like the shaggy dog of the shaggy dog story, but with slightly more purpose. It gets better every time I watch it. Everyone in it is perfect for the part they play.

Comics dabbler 3

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Saturday, February 19, 2005
The Invisibles - Grant Morrison - It has been a number of months since I read any of these comics. I probably shouldn't try to write about this series since it has been so long since I read any of it, but I can't help myself. At one point I was interspersing them with Sandman, but then Sandman came in all at once at the library so I finished it first. Also there are more Sandman books. Back to The Invisibles... Holy Hell. This is some freaky stuff! This comic is all drugs, sex, violence, and conspiracy theory (and time travel, etc). It's basically the Matrix, but in print before the Matrix ever began. There is a chosen one, he is reluctant (aren't they all), and there is an organization in place to help him to his destiny. Kind of. The Invisibles that we meet in the comic are but one cell of a larger group. It is a super-secret organization, and identities and motivations are not always clear. But here's a list anyway - King Mob (bald, pierced, leather-wearing, bad-ass leader), Lord Fanny (Brazilian transvestite sorceress), Ragged Robin (mysterious time traveller from the future), Jack Frost (foul mouthed reluctant member of the Invisibles, savior figure), Boy (African American woman, expert martial artist). caveat: although I was somewhat used to the violence from earlier comics (see here re: Sandman) - it gets pretty gross, so I can see that it might not be for everyone. But, if you can deal with some frankly freaky stuff you do get rewarded with an intricate storyline, visits from august (or notorious) personages in history such as Mary and Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and the Marquis de Sade. I am not all the way through the series yet, but intend to finish once I can figure out what the last one I read was. Looking at this list, I think I only have the last one left to read:
Say You Want A Revolution
Bloody Hell in America
Counting To None
Kissing Mr. Quimper

Here's a much more pithy summation from the modern world:
Morrison's latest excursion into the surreal, this series lasted some 64 issues and formed a self-contained universe. It tells the story of warring secret societies, UFO infiltration, metaphysical excursions, sex and drugs as doors of perception, government conspiracies, a sentient and multidimensional London, and just about everything else he could think of, all brewed up into the tale of the Invisibles, a cabal of seditious revolutionaries trying to rewire reality. It's like the Illuminatus!trilogy mixed with Foucault's Pendulum with a shot of methedrine, gunpowder, and poetry. Influenced by J. L. Borges, H. P. Lovecraft, Michael Moorcock, Terrence McKenna, Timothy Leary, and others, The Invisibles is essentially an anarchist work that paints the Marquis de Sade as a hero and John Lennon as a god. This comic is not for anybody -- but is certainly one of the most rewarding on the market.

Bet Me

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Friday, February 18, 2005
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

(#5) I know, I know - so far from my library list a few weeks ago, the only books I've read were ones I got for my "sister." Well, I do have a sister, really. And she read them both also.

This is the second time I've read Bet Me, the first being right after it came out last year. I liked it, but I like Crusie so that's no surprise. If you wonder how this is any different from any other comedy/romance I will say that it has a heroine who starts off heavy (by romance book standards) and stays heavy. A heroine (and hero) who like kids, but don't want to have them themselves. It sounds pretty prosaic, but believe me - those are not common themes at all in women's fiction, especially the not wanting babies thing. But that's another topic for another day.

It's a quick read - fun and funny with plenty of built in drama (of course) but not the contrived idiotic "if only she'd told him" kind that makes me want to pound the author into the ground with a hardcover copy of their own book.

Some other random tidbits: Min and Cal both like Elvis, except one prefers Presley, while the other favors Costello. Min loves shoes. There is a great secondary cast of characters, which I am coming to see by typing out these mini-reviews is something I really enjoy.

No Plot? No Problem!

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Thursday, February 17, 2005
No Plot? No Problem!: A Low Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty

(#4 - I actually read it in January, but just got it back from the library)

I have participated in nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) for the past two Novembers. The concept is simple - 50,000 words in 30 days. Chris Baty is the founder of NaNoWriMo (henceforth nanowrimo or just nano in deference to my shift finger), which just completed its fifth year in 2004.

It's really a genius concept for those who had always wanted to try their hand at writing a novel - because of the time constrictions, you don't have time to make it pretty. You just have time to dash out your 1667 words per day and hope for the best. One gets what Anne Lammott refers to as "The Shitty First Draft" which is necessary in order to get to later, better drafts. You end up with something to work with, at least.

The inner editor is kicked to the curb for 30 days while you feverishly peck away at the computer in search of the finish line. I have to say that 2003 (my first year) was much more thrilling to me than 2004. The first year, I didn't know if I could do it or not. By the second year I knew that it was at least physically possible for me to complete, so I tried something a little trickier and had much less fun. I found out in this book that is a classic second year mistake.I didn't get this book from the library until nano 2004 was completed, but I still learned some things. (and reinforced some things that I had either figured out, or found out the hard way).

The first half of the book is on why any sane person would embark on such a venture. He has some compelling theories, but I am already sold on it anyway, so perhaps I am not the best judge. I found the Two Magna Cartas exercise really helpful. It instructs you to make two lists - Magna Carta I is a list of things you generally like to read in fiction, Magna Carta II is in Baty's words "the Evil Twin of Magna Carta I" - a list of things you do NOT like to read. This is to keep you reminded of things not to put in your story. As demented as it sounds, I think this would really help (it was too late for me by the time I read it). Baty points out that we often include things we don't like because we think they are good for us. If it is unpleasant, it must be healthy. It's messed up, but I think true. The second half of the book is devoted to a week by week "this is what should be happening" break down for nanowrimo. Also helpful, but not so much when you're not in the midst of it. There is also a chapter (or so) on post-nano editing, which is the phase I am in now. After Nano 2004, I chose to give my 04 story a rest and go back to 03, which I had been working on already for about 6 months. I am still in fairly early re-writes, but I think his tips will really help. Most helpful so far for this poor plotter, is to figure out where you want your story to go first. You can always go back and do the fancy writing with the bones of your story in place. I know this advice wouldn't work for everyone, but for me I think it will be good. I know, I know - it sounds so basic. But sometimes a person just needs it spelled out before they believe it. I am that person. (I do know more or less what my story will do, but I still get hung up on certain plot elements. Now I know I need to get them ironed out STAT)

I really like Baty's easygoing writing style. He manages to get across that the main point of this nano exercise is not that one will write 50K words of deathless prose, but that one will gain from the experience of being creative and carving out time for the pursuit of creativity. It is an excuse to let your imagination off the leash for 30 days and let it do what it will without worrying about it being "good" or even making sense. If you have done nano in the past, or plan on doing it in the future, I would recommend reading this!


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Monday, February 14, 2005

Originally uploaded by FFgoatee.
Happy Valentine's Day!

This picture is so fun - I love the light through the balloons.
Back when I was doing a newsletter for the place I worked, I went crazy on the Valentine Issue. I put the complete text of the Cupid and Psyche story (hot wax and chasing people off cliffs - what's more romantic than that?), some background on Lupercalia which traditionally fell on Feb. 15 (the pagan roman fertility holiday that was co-opted by the church), and some info on the Valentine's Day Massacre (for the romantics).
I know a lot of people have much hatred in their heart for Valentine's Day because of the efforts of A.Hole Hallmark, La Rog jewellers, and the Florist Cabal to make anyone unencoupled feel bad. That may be what Hallmark intended, but I prefer to think of it as a day to enjoy candy hearts with silly sayings on them, give and receive valentine cards to friends, and to mark the midway point of February. Feel the love, people! (or, if you prefer throw hot wax and chase people over a cliff in a barrage of machine gun fire and Whitman's samplers)


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Sunday, February 13, 2005

Originally uploaded by sickler.
Love the color!

Teen Idol

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Sunday, February 13, 2005
Teen Idol by Meg Cabot (#3)

I love reading Meg Cabot teen novels, and here is one of the reasons why - she is just a couple of years older than me. So, even though she does research on what is going on with teens today, a lot of her culture references are the same of mine. Its fun to try to pick them out. Plus, she's funny. Teen Idol features a teenage movie heartthrob going undercover in a small Illinois high school. His name is Luke Striker, but I think he's probably an amalgam that features Chad Michael Murray somewhere in there. The first person narrator is Jenny Greenley, the nicest girl in school and also the author of the Dear Annie advice column for the school newspaper. Cabot does a great job integrating the letters to Dear Annie in with her plot (not as easy as it would seem!) Jenny is a likeable main character - she's really nice but also has some blind spots that render her not perfect (and therefore even more likeable for this reader). She struggles with her jazz hands for show choir, for example. How can you not have sympathy for someone with jazz-hand inadequecies? I like how Cabot draws her side characters and she really has a lot of insight into the ways people interrelate - which is also rarer than you would expect in the world of novels.

As for the numbering - I have read more than three books so far this year, but I am trying to remember what they were! As I remember them and/or read more, I'll just put the number off to the side in parenthases. One would hope that I will be able to manage that much.

Madame Butterfly

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Thursday, February 10, 2005
Thursday night I saw the Portland Opera production of Madame Butterfly. It was beautiful; lovely sets, lovely singing, tragic story. The orchestra was fantastic - I love the sound of an orchestra warming up before a performance. The problem (and it's not really a problem) comes from what I am starting to see as my own Tragic Flaw. Tragedies make me irritated. I don't mean real-life tragedies, which make me cry like any other human with feelings, but the Tragedy of the stage - irritated. Romeo and Juliet? I think they are both idiotic. Or were idiotic until they had their little misunderstanding, then they ceased to be much at all except lauded examples of romantic love. To which I say come ON! I love the language, I really do. But the ending... it's Well, maybe I'm too practical, but honestly.

In this story, if it were up to me - B.F. Pinkerton would be drop kicked into the Sea of Japan and possibly eaten by a Sea Monster. If for some reason he was able to swim his sorry ass back to Nagasaki, Cio-Cio San (Madame Butterfly) would come up with a better solution to her problem than killing herself so that her son wouldn't feel guilty for leaving with his jackhole father and his new wife. That's a solution, Cio-Cio San???? I know, I know - the culture of honor. Obviously, I have none.

Aaaand, in perfect fairness if everyone behaved reasonably, there would be no Opera at all. Or drama, or anything. So, I retract the part about how Pinkerton should fall off the boat in the first act. I just don't connect with it on a real level of understanding, I guess. It seems so pointless, which is what makes it tragic. So they say.

I had an odd moment of cognative dissonance while at the Opera. I had finally put it together (shut up!) that Weezer's album Pinkerton was referencing Madame Butterfly (or possibly the play the opera is based on, I guess). So, to prepare for the opera I listened to one of my favorite songs ever, El Scorcho. And then once at the opera I had more dissonance! Because I hadn't realized that Madame Butterfly's name was Cio-Cio San, who is mentioned by name in El Scorcho. Duh. I have even SEEN Madame Butterfly before (way back in the the olden days when Bec and I had a freind who worked in the opera shop and we would get free tickets to the last dress rehearsal)!! I even have the CD single of El Scorcho that Bec found for me - but it had no cover art, which I see now (on this site) has a picture of Cio-Cio San on the cover. The lyrics are also there, if you are curious at all.

To sum up - Portland Opera has a lovely production of Madame Butterfly (and a lovely version of the famous aria heard in pasta and butter-substitute commercials the world over), but it does not have a sensible ending. But perhaps if your heart is not dead to the capital R romance of capital T tragedy, the lack of sensible ending will not be an impediment but instead a catharsis.

can't touch this

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Thursday, February 10, 2005
Today I was driving around in my car listening to Radio Disney. It's not as crazy as it sounds - my CD player is becoming erratic in its old age and NPR was all pledge drive, all the time. Besides, I like Radio Disney! Kids call up and give birthday shout outs to their friends, their moms, and their dogs! What I thought was interesting is since I listened last they've started doing this Moving Song (or something). Anyway, they have a Moving Song of the day, and when you hear it you are supposed to get up off your ass and jump around. The little girl who called in said she was going to do jumping jacks! (Today's song was U Can't Touch This by MC Hammer). It's simultaneously charming and sad to me. Charming that there are 7 year olds all over the country practicing the hammer dance, but sad that obesity in children is such a problem that radio stations are trying to help stomp it out. I think they're right though - more moving is good. Is there a song you hear where you pretty much can't help moving, even if you tried?

In project news, I am now in the phase where everything fills me with panic and dread and I am sure this is the biggest mistake ever. I'm old enough now to recognize this as one of the inevitable steps in my creative process. Unfortunately.

AND in OPERA news - Tonight is Madame Butterfly. I had big plans for making a new skirt and being all fabulous, but I will have to edeavor the latter without the former.


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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Originally uploaded by tabhastal.
I had to put this picture here - this is the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen (since Hans Christian Andersen is from there) - and it is mentioned in the Copenhagen Caper. I had read about it, but never seen it!


| On
Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Originally uploaded by john curley.
This picture is amazing. I love how you can only see the tippy top of the bridge, yet it is immediately recognizable.

GOYLA happenings

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Monday, February 07, 2005
My 2005 Get Off Your Lazy Ass resolution has taken an interesting turn. I managed to get my first section of Nano re-re-writes done, and have a sort of plan for the next section. (although there was a bunch of stuff I had to get sorted out with the person I am exchanging with. What's the word I'm looking for? It was all house-keeping type stuff - our little mini-deadlines and plans of action. For two relatively non drama-prone people, we still manage to have to do this every 4 months or so.) I think I am getting closer to needing a second pair of eyes to look at it. That's nerve-wracking in its own unique way, of course. Bleh.

In other news, I seem to have a small freelance project that I wasn't expecting. I think it will be good. The feeling that I get from it is "I can totally do this" instead of "Oh, God. What have I agreed to? I choose to take that as a good sign. Plus, maybe this will spur me to get more done on my nano project. What's the saying? If you want something done, ask a busy person? I don't know that I agree with it 100%, but it does make a certain amount of sense.

The Copenhagen Connection

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Monday, February 07, 2005
The Copenhangen Connection by Elizabeth Peters - this is one of her standalone mysteries/capers. When I first saw it, I assumed that it was one of the Vicky Bliss novels (my favorite of E.Peters many series) because there is one also set in Copehnagen (Silhouette in Scarlet, it turns out), but NO. Even better, it was a Peters I had never read. My sister found it for me for Christmas - she wisely deduced that it was one that we had somehow managed not to read.

It follows the fairly typical formula of the E. Peters caper - smart, capable young woman thrown into adventure - actually, it's better than that. The SCYW throws herself into the adventure. What I like best about these books is that E.Peters has a sense of humor, writes delightfully about exotic locations (just enough to give you an idea without sounding like a travel brochure), manages romantic tension without being really overt about it, has colorful secondary characters, and writes from a decidedly feminist POV. All this PLUS chloroform, kidnapping, Danish royalty (historical division), humorous misunderstandings, and a master of disguises? Delightful! Not to say that Peters doesn't have her moments of predictability, particularly if you've read many of her other books. This one also has the quiet and therefore more scary and evil villain with his loudmouthed ineffectual minion, the over the top eccentric, the spunky heroine, the misdirect, and the thrilling conclusion. But I don't mind. I would miss them if they weren't there.


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Friday, February 04, 2005
I made this mix before I went on a road trip with my Mom to Idaho last March. The version I made for myself and my sister has two differences from the one I forced on everyone - It has an extra song (Go To Sleep from O Brother) and the Ideeho! spelling. It has turned into one of my favorite mixes, but I guess I say that about them all -

1. Mr. Blue Sky - Electric Light Orchestra - I admit I first heard this in a commercial. It was just the insanely glad-hearted Mr. Blue Skyyyyy please tell us why/ you had to hide away for so long (so long), where did we go wrong/ hey there Mr. Blue, we're so pleased to be with you/ look around see what you do, everybody smiles at you part, and I was lost and obsessed until I ascertained that it WAS in fact ELO and not some cool new band, and that for .99 it could be mine immediately. This falls into that category of song where people either love it (me) or hate it (haters!). It makes me happy, so I cannot deny it even though its creators had permed white man afros. Yes, there is a vocoder robot talking part, but come ON. In Portland who hasn't had that burst of intense joy from seeing a blue sky after months of grey?

2. Know Your Onion! - The Shins This was the first Shins song I ever heard! It was on the Gilmore Girls soundtrack (which is excellent, by the way). I like how the title makes no sense at all (sort of like Know Your Chicken! by Cibo Matto, except they at least sing about chicken in their song). 'what kind of life you dream of? you're allergic to love.' /yes i know but i must say in my own defense , it's been undeniable dear to me, i don't know why. This song isn't my favorite Shins song, but it has the sparkly swooping shimmery sound that I like so well about them.

3. You and Your Friend - Snake River Conspiracy - First of all, I had to put this song on this mix because a) Snake River Conspiracy - we drove along the Snake river for the whole dang trip! and b) because it is awesome, fun and sexy.

4. It's Gonna Be A Long Night - Ween - This song is insane. It is a drugged up crazy anthem to a pre-determined night of HORROR, yet is strangely compelling. In a thousand years this doesn't sound like fun to me, yet the song has a weird pull (and a driving, flailing, joie de vivre) don't call your mother, don't call your priest / don't call your doctor, call the police. / You bring the razor blades, I'll bring the speed / take off your coat, it's gonna be a long night. / You're gonna suffer, you're gonna bleed/ I heard it all before, you will concede/ It's gonna be a long night. Plus, the giant nerd that I am loves that in the midst of all this shouting about the police and bleeding he says 'you will concede,' like they are having some sort of rhetorical debate.

5. 36-24-36 - Violent Femmes - sooooomething special about her personality/ sooomething special about her physiology!. I love Gordon Gano when he sounds crazy (when doesn't he sound crazy?)

6. The Look Of Love - ABC - What can I say? I love this song and can sing along to the lone goodbye that follows when your girl has left you out on the pavement without failure. I like the drama, the huge Yippie- i- yippie- iaaaayeah , the spoken part at the end, the big sigh. The 80's keyboard. Love. Pure cheese, but love.

7. I Wonder Why the Wonderfalls - Andy Partridge - Theme song to the late lamented (but recently available on DVD) series Wonderfalls. As a fan of XTC and the creators of the show, I was almost certain to love this song, but I find that it has earned my affection all on its own. We're bobbing along in our barrel /Some of us tip right over the edge /But there's one thing really mystifying / It's got me laughing, and it's got me crying All my life it would be death-defying /Until I know /I wonder, wonder why the wonder falls /I wonder why the wonder falls on me. It is bouncy, jaunty, and full of the questions of life.

8. July, July! - The Decemberists - My birthday is in July, so I sort of feel proprietary about the entire month. In the first 30 seconds of this song there is mention of my uncle who was a crooked French Canadian, who was gut shot running gin/ and how his guts were all suspended in his fingers, and how he held 'em, how he held 'em in. A whole story and history in two lines of a song - even if you have no interest in gin-running french canadian uncles (is it possible to be uninterested?), it is compelling. My next favorite part would have to be the chickens who are rattling chicken chains. You have to hear it to believe it. There is also sprightly light magenta, and a chorus repeating July in the good old fashioned cowboy pronunciation of Joo-lye.

9. I'm The Man Who Loves You - Wilco - If I could you know I would just hold your hand and you'd understand I'm the man who loves you. Internal rhyme PLUS a chorus of wooo hooo's? I'm there!

10. Never Far Away - Jack White - ooooh. this is really good on headphones. It is a little too quiet on the car stereo, but I know what it sounds like when Jack White sings right in my ears (thank you iPod), so it works for me. This is one of the songs from the Cold Mountain soundtrack and is from the POV of the Jude Law character getting back home to his girl in the midst of the Civil War. There are cellos. I'm walkin' home to you, walkin' home to you/ I'm talkin' through my wounds that are bleeding out for you/ talking through my wounds, walking home to you. To recap: Jack White, Jude Law, and the cello.

11. Walkin' on the Sun - Smash Mouth - Sue me! I still like this song, probably better than any of their subsequent hits. I think it might be about smoking pot with aliens and other cures to society's problems, but I'm not sure. It just makes me think of summer and the beach with it's retro organ and guitar.

12. C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips - OK Go - Handclaps (many!), organ, and the power-pop stutter! Wheeee! I don't know why OK Go is not a huge national act. They make insanely catchy, bright pop with clever lyrics. By all rights they should be rolling in dough and fighting off groupies.

13. Friday I'm In Love - The Cure - Wheeee! It sure is getting redundant with me loving all these songs, but that's why I put them on a mix! This one has so many factors that make it a favorite: it has a list, a lovely jangly tune, Robert Smith, and handclaps for Pete's sake. Handclaps! I cannot resist the handclap, or lovely lyrics like these. I read that he wrote it for his wife (childhood sweetheart) and that just makes it even better, if that is possible. Dressed up to the eyes/ It’s a wonderful surprise / To see your shoes and your spirits rise / Throwing out your frown / And just smiling at the sound / And as sleek as a shriek /Spinning round and round / Always take a big bite / It’s such a gorgeous sight/ To see you eat in the middle of the night / You can never get enough/ Enough of this stuff / It’s friday /I’m in love. If you cannot succumb to the joy in this song then give it up! You clearly have a small stone or possibly gravel where your heart should be.

14. Got To Give It Up (Part 1) - Marvin Gaye - This song is so fantastic. Really. It is the story of the wallflower who could resist the groove no longer and was compelled to dance No more standing on the side of the wall/ Well, I've got myself together baby, and I'm having a ball/ As long as you're grooving, there's always a chance/ Somebody watching will want to make romance . Marvin is the coolest. Keep on dancin'.

15. Clear Spot - The Pernice Brothers- this is one of those tricky songs that sounds all joyful and soaring, but is really about darker subject material. The part that I kept glomming on to is the lovely There's something about you , but repeated listenings indicate that it isn't necessarily something good. I feel better now you're gone

16. No Sleep - Huggy Bear - this song is less than 40 seconds, and is only british angry/ sarcastic girl yelling and drumming. I love it.

17. Fiesta - The Pogues Mexican horns and accordion plus the Pogues. What's not to love?

18. The Laws Have Changed- The New Pornographers - So sing-alongable! (one of the great tests of a road trip song is singalongablility). This one passes with flying colors - great nanana chorus to go along with, Neko Case and those other guys making me glad that the laws have changed, and that singing is the way to do it. It was crime at the time but the laws, we changed 'em,/ though the hero for hire's forever the same one./ Introducing for the first time, Pharaoh on the microphone./ Sing all hail, what'll be revealed today when we peer into the great unknown, from the line to the throne? I had to look these lyrics up. Despite singing along with great gusto, I really only knew the first line. It's a good song.

19. Change Clothes - DJ Danger Mouse (Jay-Z) Jay-Z's Black Album remixed to music from The Beatles White Album = The Grey Album. All the rage one year ago when I first made this mix! This one is one of my favorites - Jay-Z whooping it up (for real!) over the fussy harpsichord loop from Piggies on the White Album. My sister and I say Is that necessary? from this song all the time.

20. Pineapple Head - Crowded House Nerd Alert! I started a spreadsheet to keep track of songs used on mix CDs. It's a good thing - this song is probably due to be retired because I use it so much. It is in 3/4 time ( waltz time - the only one I am reliably able to identify). and if you choose to take that path / I will play you like a shark / and I'll clutch at your heart / I'll come flying like a spark to inflaaame yooooouuuuu . The lyrics are like a riddle, but one I don't mind thinking about as they swoop around one more time.

21. Utopia Parkway - Fountains Of Wayne - they make ordinary things sound extraordinary, and this song is no exception. Well I've been saving for a custom van, and I've been playing in a cover band/ But my baby doesn't understand, why I've never turned from boy to man/ I got it made, I got it down/ I am the king of this island town, I'm on my own, I'm on my way/ down Utopia Parkway

22. Dry The Rain - The Beta Band - This is a great last song song, because it is about 6 minutes long and it sort of resets you for the beginning again, or for something new. This one has a fantastic bass-line (this is the song playing in High Fidelity the movie when John Cusak says "I am going to sell six of these records." I like the repetition of It will be all right.


| On
Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Originally uploaded by rbanks.
one of my favorite shapes! I like the blue and the motion. It looks like one of those hypno-swirl things.

Reasonable Number?

| On
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
I read far fewer books than I used to. This makes me sad. It's not that I'm not reading, but a lot of my reading has shifted to online. I miss books. I read somewhere (online, no doubt) about people setting a goal of 50 books for the year. That's not unreasonable, is it? it works out to a little over 4 per month... I think I'm going to try it, although maybe 30 is more realistic. As for keeping track of what I've read - I usually start off really well marking them down, and then...I don't. So, 50 books (at least) and marking them down! It's only Feb. 1 - that's not too far in the hole to begin. (Although I fully plan on counting every book I read for January, if I can remember.)