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Audience Haiku

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Friday, April 29, 2005

Audience Haiku
Originally uploaded by jensect.
livewire/wordstock post #124

OK - here's the truth of the matter. It has almost been a week, and I haven't gotten to my favorite parts of the event yet! Honestly, I didn't get a program and I have no idea in what order the following events occurred (except to know what came last) - so here's the rest of what happened, in no particular order (when it airs on tv/radio all of these questions will be resolved):

Marc Acito - author of How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater. He was hilarious in an agitated sort of way. I bet the book is very funny. M. pointed out that he looked like Starsky (Ben Stiller version) in his ruffly blue shirt (which, by the way, he was also wearing the next day at the book fair. Either he didn't change clothes, or he's got a closet full of them). He and the host bonded over high-school musicals, he talked dirty for a bit and it will be interesting to see how much of it makes it to broadcast.

Libretto - hip hop poet. I liked his songs quite a bit- he rhymes over some classic-style soul, which, much like ketchup, goes with everything. Lives in Portland, so he should know better than trying to get people to wave their hands in the air like they just don't care. He performed twice - I could tell right before he came on because he had a separate little mixing thing that his (cohort? assistant? DJ? right-hand man? number-one fan?) used, and the production people had to bring out and set up this little table, and run MORE cords, wires and sundry to stage right. [is that right? it was on the left from the audience, so I think that makes it stage right]. He spoke movingly about his daughter, but I ended up feeling just a wee bit manipulated by the time he was practically BEGGING people to put their hands in the air. Something about if you've ever done a bad thing to somebody, or if anything bad had ever happened to you. If I wanted to testify to a bunch of people about how shitty I've been, or how the world has treated me ill, I would go to church! But, not to end on a sour note - he was very gracious about the audience's lack of hip-hop manners.

Willamette Radio Workshop - they did something from The Island of Doctor Moreau. It was freaky and creepy (especially when I could only see the three guys on stage and not the other 4 on the ground in front of the stage - I thought they were the three best ventriloquists EVER). I thought this was cool because it was so Old Radio Show. Or my ideas (probably gleaned from television and movies) about what Old Radio Shows were like. There were monkey noises, and I got a little context for the phrase "Are we not men?" which I previously only knew from MST3K, or possibly a Devo song. It was fun.

....almost done, I swear!

poems are a series of words

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005
livewire/wordstock post #3
Right in front of the stage (in the area where people usually crowd the stage to dance or stare rapturously at a rock show) was a folding table with laptops and what turned out to be the producers. The stage itself was small and seemed tiny with lots of wires, stands, instruments, chairs, wires, stands, and lastly, people! The crowd filed in,finding seats, getting beer, standing around and chatting. One of the things I love is the time right before a show (any show) begins - it is all possibility. It could be the best show ever! Plus, people are usually pretty jazzed to be there so there is laughing and lots of "oh, hi!" kind of stuff. The crowd noise gets steadily louder and louder until suddenly it is really loud. I always mentally equate this with the old yarn about the frog in the pot of water that gets slowly hotter and hotter, but so gradually he doesn't notice until it is, tragically, Too Late. I think I need a better mental equation, but mathematics have never been my strong-suit. Anyway, the producers got up on stage and gave some direction to the audience. They showed the cue cards (like "clap" or "hold") but didn't really use them much. I guess this audience had preternatural clapping skills! I should point out that at this point the house band Klezmocracy, was already up on stage warming up the crowd. They are awesome, but I suppose it helps that klezmer music makes me happy in general due to liberal application of jaunty accordion.

The next section is a blur. The hostess came on stage in a fab. black dress and said a little bit, the Faces For Radio Theater people came out, dressed in costumes (they turn out to be literary references: the Playboy Advisor, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allan Poe, and Marilyn Monroe). They did a bit - and are generally v.v. funny. During pieces like this I sort of get a feeling for what performers mean when they say they feed off of the energy of the crowd. I went to some great shows last year, and the best ones were where the crowd was just so INTO IT. It was a shared experience between the audience and performer, not just some packaged entertainment like television. But I digress. This crowd was INTO IT. (yay!)

Early on, they brought out poet Scott Poole, who is the Wordstock director (which is a different position from the founder, Larry Colton. I kept getting confused and wondering why articles were all Larry this and Larry that. What about Scott? But it turns out to be apples and oranges, or directors and founders.) He talked a bit about the festival and how it was going (it had been underway since the 19th), and then he read two poems. SO GOOD. And funny, which I was not necessarily expecting. Both of them are available to read on his website (and of course to hear on the radio or watch on cable access). The first one was for the brother i never had. I thought that maybe I just liked it so much because of his delivery (which was superb), but the poems totally stand up without it. (although if you have the opportunity to hear him read them himself, you should). The second poem , My Suggestion I liked even more. I have been in a broken down car, and find myself prone to similar wrathful thinking, so it really struck me, I guess. Here's the text of that one (also available at the link above):


When the car broke down outside The Dalles, Oregon,
my suggestion was to get the spear from the anthropology conference
out of the trunk and stab the damn car several hundred times
in the tires, hood, lights, roof, trunk, windshields
and doors. I lamented that we didn't have a hundred spears
so we could leave them stuck in the car every time we stabbed it
thus giving it the look of a giant porcupine with wheels.
I thought we should get some hot oil from somewhere and pour it
over the top of the vehicle. Why not
beat on it with a shovel until it took the shape
of a giant metal head with wild spear hair?
Think of all the people that would pull over
imagining the giant melted head a "tourist event."
Consider the traffic, the police, the imitators
burning their cars in joy, the art critics, wine
& cheese events in the half-light of the canyon,
people in black milling about, talking about raw energy,
Renoir, Cézanne, Rodin, everyone French.
We could just hang out there
in the caves way up the canyon wall and watch,
eating popcorn and rabbits, making buffaloes our pets.
Oh would I love to ride a buffalo down the hill
with a six-pack hanging over its neck so I could huck
a can at a tourist and say "Gentle traveler. There's a special music
when you run your hand along the spine of a salmon."
Let's just attack every car that drives by with
spears, dynamite, and giant boulders like German deities,
and then run back to our ancient cave womb and
make love so beautiful it changes the shape of the planets.
She looked at me, then called a tow truck, thank God.

Scott Poole

... livewire posts to be continued, god help me


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Monday, April 25, 2005

Originally uploaded by jensect.

wordstock #2

We left town and I didn't think another thing about it until my sister called and asked if I was interested in hearing Wesley Stace (aka John Wesley Harding) read from his new book and also hear Colin Meloy from the Decemberists. My answer = YES! Then she told me it was part of a radio show called LiveWire!. That sounded a little shady to me (I don't know why. Maybe it was Fresno where everything interesting sounds shady.), but she said ten dollars so I said "hell yes!" I am so glad that she and M. found this because it kicked off a whole weekend of loveliness and blisters. I had emailed Leslita and told her we were going to LiveWire!, which turned out to be the very same radio show she had told me about MONTHS ago - we should sit together! excellent.

We got home from Fresno on Wednesday - the drive home seemed faster than the drive down, but it is still a long way for one day (750 miles). Here I avoid going into a long boring list of everything I did until it was time for the show. It involved laundry and whining, is all I will say.

We got to the Aladdin theater about ten minutes before the doors open. There were two long lines, one in front of the box office, and one in front of the door for those with tickets already. We took our tickets and headed out into the rain to wait in line. What had begun as a brilliantly sunny day had turned into freak thunder/lightning showers and then into the more familiar soft rain. The crowd was chatty and happy. Everything had a little extra frisson and giddy charge - maybe some left over electricity in the atmosphere. A guy with a video camera starts walking the line. Followed shortly by a guy with a sign saying, basically, that this taping of LiveWire! was being filmed in addition to being recorded, and if you didn't like that then perhaps you shouldn't go in. I am sure I will be immortalized looking entirely stupid, but I don't really care. Witness the tremendous power of Wordstock!

The LiveWire! Show was my favorite part of the whole event. It was buzzing with crazy fizzy energy from the time we got there till the very end. LiveWire! bills itself as being a little bit vaudeville, a little bit radio play, a whole lot of fun, and they live up to it. The signs and logos were all done in that old-timey vaudeville/circus font. There was a guy in a spangled cape and a t-shirt that read 'danger'. There was a girl in a quasi-equestrian red feathered headdress. There was another girl in a red wig and giant red-feather boa. These be-feathered and be-spangled souls were handing out 'haiku cards' which is something LiveWire! apparently does every show. The audience is encouraged to write poetry which may be chosen to be read on the air. Fun! That kind of low-pressure audience participation is just the right kind in my estimation. I did not write a poem, but maybe I will next time. to be continued...


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Monday, April 25, 2005

Originally uploaded by jensect.
wordstock #1 I saw this sign on my way out of Portland to Fresno. I found it intriguing, and a little bit... not ominous, but portentious maybe? the dictionary tells me that's not quite right either. What's the word for a little bit scary,a little bit thrilling, but you look forward to it nonetheless? The Wordstock Festival was on its way, although the poster didn't say that. Only that takeover was imminent.

if it weren't attached to my neck...

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Friday, April 22, 2005
I need to become a little less absent-minded and more mind-like-a-steel-trap. Why is it I can remember who played a bit part on Buffy, but can't remember WHERE I PUT MY iPOD? Or where the cable to connect my camerea to the computer is? I will blame both of them on post-driving-lag/jag, but so help me, I had better find them tomorrow or I will be making everyone crazy, starting with me.

Reports on my trip to scenic Fresno once I find my iPod. In the meantime, please use this delightful Sesame Street encyclopedia to remind yourself of happier days, before the Cookie Monster had to start eating right.

Colors of an Electromagnetic Pulse

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Colors of an Electromagnetic Pulse
Originally uploaded by kodama.
I am pretty sure this is at the EMP. why haven't I gone there yet? this looks so cool - even if the inside doesn't match up to the outside, it would be worth it for the outside alone!

Harmonious Travel CD Mix

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Another entry from the CD mix annals - Harmonious Travel Mix - for MQ and M driving down to the beach to meet us all for my birthday beach-weekend! So fun! Usually, we take trips like this together, but they both had to work so they drove down later, without me (since I was already there!) There were some issues getting it all worked out - nothing major, but typical stuff. So, since I was making them have to do this by having a birthday in the middle of summer and having friends and family nice enough to arrange it, I thought the least I could do was make them a special Road Mix to listen to on the way. I chose a mix of songs I know we all like to sing along to in the car, and some songs that maybe they didn't know, but I knew they would have to love (ex: Kung Fu Fighting).

Goldfinger - Shirley Bassey - I had to start off with something to get their attention from workaday driving issues. A good belting number, and MQ and M are both belters. Unfortunately, I heard that it was on random so they didn't hear this FIRST, but I'm sure it had the necessary effect when it did come on. Oh! Also, this song always reminds me of when M. helped me paint a bookcase. We were painting gold stars on. With gold paint, comes gold fingers. With gold fingers, come James Bond themes. It is a law of nature.
Musicology - Prince- Prince being funky (as if he could be anything else). I like this one because it simultaneously fresh and nostalgic. Plus, he has a PhD in advanced body moving. No arguing with Dr. Groove. In road trip terms, this would involve some serious butt-dancing in your seat.
Love Train - The O'Jays - impossible to stay grumpy during Love Train! Plus, it is like a mini-geography lesson. They name check at least 10 countries and or continents. Can't we all just get along?
Kung Fu Fighting- Carl Douglas - another secret weapon! This one is a) silly, and b) needed to be reclaimed from the numchuck wielding hamsters found at drugstores everywhere. oh oh ohohohhhhh
Wig in a Box - The Polyphonic Spree - from the excellent Wig In a Box, tribute to Hedwig CD.. I love the Spree, and I really love the Spree singing about wigs. This one sounds similar to the original, but takes full advantage of the big-choir/ weird instrument (harps!) set up that they have. Also, I think they have a guy whose job it is to sing nothing but zoom zoom zoom, which would be a pretty good gig, really. This was chosen because it is great and also because it has a specific sing-along section.
Surrender - Elvis Presley - ahahaha! This song cracks me UP! it is the background singers, the maracas (or whatever). I just picture it in a cheesy italian restaurant sung by a dude in a gondolier outfit. It thematically belongs with "It's Now Or Never," another of the Come On, You Know You Want To, songs. Anyway, as I suspected this was a sing-along favorite. (how could it not be?)
Two Hearts- Chris Isaak - The proper version off of San Francisco Days, and not the anemic sucky one from Baja Sessions. Actually the BS (see! even the initials agree with me) version isn't so bad, it just isn't as great as this one. This is one for singing along and thinking about how dreamy Chris Isaak is. We all agree on that score, plus it is a familiar favorite that I hadn't listened to in a while.
The Flyer - Nanci Griffith - this is from my first and favorite Nanci Griffith CD. What makes this song a must have for this particular mix is he was a flyer for the Air Force, on a plane to San Antoooooonio. Plus the lalalalalala's. All three of us can sing the whole song forwards and backwards, which is fun.
Washington DC - Magnetic Fields - from the least listened to by me volume 2 of 69 Love Songs - so it is like a forgotten favorite. It is a SPELLING SONG, and therefore love love love. Also, easy to sing along to.
Soul Bossa Nova - Quincy Jones and His Orchestra - this song is probably most famous now as being the Austin Powers theme. But it is more than just a theme - it is SO FUN, and swinging. Just hearing it makes me want to have mad mod adventures, and of course turns any car into a Shaguar. So important for a road mix.
Beautiful Stranger - Madonna - I got this off of the Austin Powers soundtrack, and it segues nicely from the previous, and upholds the James Bondness (but sillier) of Gold Finger. Plus (the real reason emerges) - I really, really love the dah dah dah dah dah dah dah dah dahdahdah Beautiful Stranger part.
James K. Polk - They Might Be Giants : More than most people will ever know about James K. Polk - right here in this song. Also, fun to sing along to austere, severe, he held few people deeeeeeaaar/ his oratory filled his foes with feeeeeeear .
Perhaps, Perhaps,Perhaps - Cake I first heard this song in Strictly Ballroom (that scene where Scott and Fran dance backstage at the Pan Pacific Grand Prix (or was it the waratah five dance latin finals?), before he leaves to break her heart with Tina Sparkle). That version was done by Doris Day and is EXCELLENT. But this cake version is a little rougher and has its own charms.
Take A Chance on Me - ABBA - I don't think I really have to explain why an ABBA song is the perfect choice for a road-mix. This has the great spoken bits, plus the fun fast takeachance take a chancechance parts.
Cry Me a River - Justin Timberlake - I was still under Mr. Timberlake's thrall at the time of the making of this mix. In fact, I'm not sure I'm over it yet. Anyway, this is a great song, thrall or no thrall. you don't have to say/ what you did/ I already know/ I found out from - hiiiim. The song, like the video, is a little creepy and a lot sexay. oops - guess I still have the thrall.
Get Over It - OKGo - hee hee. This one had two purposes. 1) it is awesome, 2) if either of them were being snarky or irritable (possible even under the best road-trip circumstances. it is the nature of the beast) it would be fun to sing "HEY! Get get get get over it !" at the top of your lungs and not be accused of stirring things up.
(Night Time Is) the Right time - Ray Charles - I downloaded this shortly after Ray Charles died. I remembered it and loved it from (shameful confession) The Cosby Show! Anyway, this is has a great saxaphone/Raylette background and is very excellent for both singing along to, and practicing rhythmic back-up singer dance-moves.
Kiss Me - Sixpence None The Richer - this is a terribly sappy song, but I am terribly sappy and love it for all of its Teen Prom-Movie glory. Also, a good way to get your breath back after all of the furious back-up singer dancing from the previous song.
Instant Photo - Louise Goffin - I first heard this song on Morning Becomes Eclectic. I was in the car, and it made me crazy because it was SO GREAT and I had no idea who it was. Fortunately, the webcast was available by the time I got home and my big question was answered. It is fun and slinky. It actually would be an awesome song for a circus to march into town with (if lyrics were no object and the circus was a really, really cool circus. but I might be circus-music obsessed lately). And she DOES mention cotton candy...which is frequently available at the CIRCUS. It all falls together...
Kyle's Mom is a Bitch - Eric Cartman - M. was lovin' this song (what's not to love?), plus, so fun to sing along with. have you ever met my friend Kyle's mom? she's the biggest bitch in the whole wide world. Plus it ends with jazz hands and a big chaaaaa
We used to be friends - The Dandy Warhols - handclaps!! And another fun sing-along-song. Not only do you get to clap along, but you get to sing come on sugar, bring it on bring it on, yeah
Turn Around - They Might Be Giants - this was one on the late, lamented Bovine Murder Train Session mix (which existed on cassette only, and was eaten by a vengeful car). Any song that involves the lyrics I was out by myself in the graveyard, I was doing an interpretive dance, and also imparts the important lesson of not behaving in an obsiqueous manner, or you may be murdered, is a good song in my book. Be safe, people.
Bust a Move - Young MC - hahahaha! This seemed an appropriate choice for the last song, especially since I had just found the cassingle of it. And now Old Navy is using it to shill ponchos or tunics or something. It is a deeply stupid, but fun song. I can see why it resonates with Old Navy. she's dressed in yellow/ she says hello/ come sit next to me you fine fellow - they don't do fancy rhymes like that any more! hee hee. Also, I want someone to explain to me what it means to "perpetrate a tan."

ten things and feathered hats

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Sunday, April 10, 2005
I would like to note that I made a first ten random things list on iPod list last week or earlier! I noticed that it is sweeping across LJ. Of course, its not a particularly original idea so I don't know what I am fussing about. here's today's 10 random iPod-ness: (side note: the iPod was feeling very 80's today, I guess)

1. When Doves Cry - Prince
2. The Dark of the Matinee - Franz Ferdinand
3. Under Pressure - David Bowie w/Queen
4. Golden Years - David Bowie
5. Girl #3 - All Girl Summer Fun Band
6. Not Fade Away - Buddy Holly
7. See America - Grant Lee Phillips
8. I Would Die 4 U - Prince
9. Oh L'amour - Erasure
10. Number Two - The Pernice Brothers

And in other news, I did not watch the Charles/Camilla nuptuals, but here is a very funny take on it (play by play blogging) from The Guardian. Sample quote: "Apparently, Trudi Styler - wife of Sting - is wearing something that 'Looked like the sort of thing you could train hamsters to jump through.'" It is very hat-fixated, which is the right area of interest if you ask me.

TV- I love thee

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Friday, April 08, 2005
I miss Buffy. and Angel. And Firefly. And Wonderfalls. And Farscape. Most TV I only watch with one eye anymore while I do something else (usually read online) but here's what I look forward to watching lately, more or less.

Las Vegas - with Tad Hamilton! Or Josh Duhamel, if you must. I missed out on this show in its first season because I was watching Everwood. Now that Everwood has gotten SO BORING, I've been watching Las Vegas and not missing Everwood at all. Things to like about it: cute boys, fast cars, fun music, shiny lights, pretty cast, stories that wrap up in one episode. Oh yeah - everyone on on it is either ex Special Forces or some kind of genius, so clearly it is reality-based. Since CSI Las Vegas has gotten so completely sucktastic (talk about diluting a good thing with 101 copycats), this show is where it's at for LV TV. It is light, but that's OK.
Medium- I like this show a lot. The writing is sometimes cheesy for the psychic-action-of-the-week, but I absolutely love the portrayal of this woman (Alison Dubois) and her family. She and her husband bicker, but unlike on most shows they are also allowed to be sexy, supportive, and ordinary. The kids are great too. One of the things that let me know it wasn't TV as usual was that the MC's husband (Joe Dubois) often was left with the care of all 3 girls, and it wasn't treated like he was some kind of patron saint of fatherhood - he was just being a parent.
Gilmore Girls - I am so bummed that there has been so much downtime in this show recently. It is hard analyze how well the story is flowing when it is so often interrupted. I do like this show a lot - it manages to balance relationships and real drama in a very whimsical setting. This sort of blend is always a favorite of mine, and I thnk they do it really well. Plus they have kick-ass tunes! Once they show a new episode again, I will probably have to do a whole entry on it. They've been dealing a lot with class issues (Rory/Logan and Lorelei/Luke) and I always find that fascinating. Emily has also turned into this two-headed monster.. anyway. I like it.
Veronica Mars - Everyone says this is "the new Buffy." I disagree, but I like it for what it IS, which is highschool noir. I am glad to hear that they will be wrapping up the two main issues of the year by the end of this season. Hopefully they will be renewed and can start with something new next year. Looking back, I think that was one of the central problems with Twin Peaks - they let the main mystery spool out too long and it just got ridiculous. (although I still think that show was capital A Amazing, and one of the best/weirdest ensembles ever assembled)
House - this has been getting better and better as the series has progressed. At first, I was just watching it because I think Hugh Laurie is fantastic, and Hugh Laurie cranky is extra-super-fantastic. But now they've finally started stretching beyond the utterly predictable 3 wrong diagnose, a-ha the right one in the last 10 minutes formula. House has something to actually rebel against that doesn't just immediately cave against his wall of crankitude. I hope it comes back next year.
Alias - this show is completely ridiculous if you try to apply any sort of logic to it. My recommendation is to NOT apply any logic, and just go along for the ride. It is a fun ride with lots of wigs, costume changes, and Los Angeles tarted up to look like places from all around the world. It has a lot of energy, momentum, gadgets, and charm which more than off-set the lack of sense as far as I'm concerned.
Lost - see above. Except it is Hawaii instead of L.A., and there are no wigs but there is a polar bear. And Matthew Fox.
The OC - Seth was right, it was better last year. But I things are looking up with the arrival of Ryan's brother Trey (btw - SO not the same actor who played Trey last year). I think that was the missing dynamic - they need the fish out of water to make it all hold together. I guess the Cohen's will have to adopt one troubled youngster per season. Strangely, I'm OK with that.
Joan of Arcadia - this show is on the bubble with me. It has been suffering from hiatusitis, so maybe it will pick up now that it's back. But, it is starting to get signs of Everwooditis as well, and that's not good. Plus, what is up with Joan's hair going from dark brown to almost red?

There are obviously other shows that I watch - Desparate Housewives, some new ones (Eyes, Grey's Anatomy), and some hoary old ones (CSI), but they aren't ones I would get upset about missing. I don't know how long they will be able to continue DH. It sounds like it may explode from the inside - plus, it's not really that compelling. I enjoy it well enough when I am watching it, but I don't think about it one second beyond when it is on of my TV.

Radish Skirts lead to happines

| On
Friday, April 08, 2005
I will probably never understand brain chemistry. What makes some days great, and some days horrible when all of the contributing factors are more or less the same? Since I have bitched here plenty on horrible days, I will take the time to explicate a good one.
Except, once I started typing I thought "this is really boring," so I will spare the other mundane details and talk about my radish skirt. It is fabric we already had, it is sky blue with red radishes (with green tops) and it just cracks me up to look at it! And now it is a skirt! It is from one of the easiest skirt patterns, ever, which is also nice. I think I would probably like it better with darts and a zipper than elastic, but that moves it away from Easiest Ever so I will live. I think that the elastic makes it a little poochy around my stomach, but honestly - that's probably just my stomach!
I am now on a quest to make a ridiculous skirt with ruffles on it. I am certainly not the most girlie-girl dresser out there, but sometimes it appeals. Plus, if it is ridiculous enough, it will be a laugh to wear with sneakers or flip-flops (my two favorite forms of footwear).
So, Dr. Jen's advice for the ennui-ridden is to make yourself a garment with a radish on it.


| On
Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Originally uploaded by John Baird.
This is just too good.

here is the deepest secret

| On
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Disclaimer: This is an awesome poem! This is the poem I tried to talk my cousin into having on the program for her wedding. I think she might have gone for it, but my aunt in full mamaofbride-zilla control freaksomeness instead pulled some random bullshit poem she'd never read before out of a book because she thought it would "look better." To which I say - WhatEV. Here is the poem that would have been infintely better (by e.e. cummings):

i carry your heart with me
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

chrysler windsor deluxe

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

chrysler windsor deluxe
Originally uploaded by atanas.
Car logos and writing don't look this good any more! I love the blue, and the whole thing puts me in a road trip frame of mind.

King Suckerman

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Monday, April 04, 2005
King Suckerman- George Pelecanos (#10)

I've been meaning to read Pelecanos for a long time - people keep talking about how he's one of the new vanguard of hard-boiled crime fiction, plus he writes a lot about music, blah blah blah. So, when I see King Suckerman waiting for me on the shelves of my local Goodwill (in perfect condition for 1.99), I have to buy it! The lime green/hot pink cover signals it is no use resisting- time to finally read Pelecanos. Hmmmm. Overall, I would say that I liked it. It has been a long time since I've read straight-ahead hard-boiled fiction, and I had forgotten how graphically violent it can be. I was just looking at the cover, and saw mention of Pulp Fiction, which isn't too far off as far as the violence goes. I thought the main characters were interesting (this sounds just like the kind of book report that marlys advises against in how to groove on life), and the Washington DC setting was fairly exotic in time (1976) and space from where I sit right now. I guess this is the second of three novels featuring the same main characters - if I had known that ahead of time I probably would have been a little less stressed reading it. Long story short - very violent and had a really draggy section (about 75 pages long) in the beginning/middle. Once the action started picking up and the story started moving under its inevitable momentum, I enjoyed it much more. I sort of felt like the characters in that lost 75 pages were looking at their watches and listening to music wondering when the plot would roll around and sweep them up again. This is a really weird reaction for me to have because normally the plot is the last of my worries if I am invested enough in the characters. You could extrapolate that to mean that I wasn't invested in the characters, but by the end I really was. So, hmmm. I will read more of his, but it might be a little while.

Of Interest

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Saturday, April 02, 2005
I have generally avoided offering up a million and one links, but every now and then my heart is full of the giving spirit and I must share.

Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels, is an excellent source of romance novel reviews in honest, unvarnished (sweary) language. I only found this site today, but I love it already.

All Music Guide - I use this site all the time. I found it a little easier to navigate before their redesign, but it is still fantastic. I can get overviews and information on bands I know, and bands I don't know. I really like how they offer up information on what artists may be similar, and what sounds influenced what, etc. I also really dig the song reviews (only offered on select songs). It is a great resource for making myself feel less stupid when reading mp3 blogs where everyone is talking about some seminal band that I've never heard of before. As I said, I use it a lot.

Buffyology "Every Buffy character, episode, cast member, writer and director and every word of every show, in a searchable database." Is there more to say? Only that it is a thing of beauty! If you think it is too obsessive, I click my tongue and shake my head in your general direction. It is WONDERFUL. I haven't made much use of it yet, but I rest easier at night just knowing that it is there.

Advice For Writers by Will Shetterly. Nothing that I haven't read in bits and pieces in other writing books, blogs, and articles, but nowhere have I read it presented so clearly and so simply.

Quarterly Review

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Saturday, April 02, 2005
In the great tradition of internet navel-gazing, it is now is aprox 1/4 into 2005 - what better time to take a couple of moments to review how things are going? Plus, as always, I love a list. Things that were of great concern to me at the start of the year were a) pulling myself together after years of indifference; b) writing; c) job. Not necessarily in that order, of course.

A) The Swamp of Indifference - my own. After a couple of years of not having to get dressed to go to a job (and the last job I had I certainly didn't need to dress up for), I have fallen into some very lazy habits. Almost everything I wear on a regular basis I bought from the Old Navy Outlet, which looks just as exciting as it sounds. A great place for jeans and basics, but it should not be the entirety of my wardrobe! Especially with a room full of fabric (no lie) and garbage sacks full of patterns (or the .99 cent pattern sales). I made strides at the beginning of the year by getting rid of HUGE amounts of clothes that didn't fit or were woefully out of style. Unfortunately, that left me with all my jeans and most of my t-shirts, hoodies and not a whole lot else. This is fixable, and with summer coming on something that should be easy to work on. I need to do this not just for summer, but for the Job Hunt as well. In that same vein, I need a haircut. You know - none of that really gets at the real reason. I never feel like I look on the outside like I feel on the inside. I'll probably never get that completely reconciled (who does?), but surely I can get closer! Awareness of one's sucky habits and style is half the battle, if What Not To Wear is to be believed. Now I just need to do something about it.

B) Writing - I really fell off on this around the holidays. I had taken a small break right after Nanowrimo, and then went back to work editing/rewriting my 2003 nano piece... for a while. Then, well, it just fell off. I think this is coming along nicely, but not nearly fast enough. Part of the problem is that I allow myself to skip too easily. No more. I want to have this piece in readable (by more than just me and my critique partner) by my birthday in July. It is a doable goal, I just need to really focus on writing at least a little bit every day. Even if I have other stuff going on - Especially if I have other stuff going on!
Something I tried to set up in this latest round of rewrites was that I would not rely on my critique partner being ready with her stuff at the same time (we used to swap sections on X day) - that I needed to press on whether or not she had her writing done at the same time. There is nothing that makes me more likely to skip a deadline than finding out someone else is skipping it too. I recognize that this is not the most reasonable or results oriented policy, so I am really trying to do the work regardless of what CP is doing. It is difficult, but I just have to keep pushing at it until it becomes more natural! So sad!

C) job stuff - I need to find one! In contrast to where I was 3 months ago, I have picked up some freelance work. Freelance design work - which is luckier than I deserve. It's great, fantastic, even - but no substitute for a regular paycheck. I would love to continue doing this kind of work, but realistically it is not a full-time job. It would be a great augment to a full or part-time job, though! The great thing about the freelance work coming when it did is that I got a much-needed ego boost. I get in these stupid self-defeating loops where by the end of it I've got myself convinced it's a miracle I can even dress myself (even in jeans and a t-shirt!), let alone use my brain or any skills.

D) read more. I've been keeping track in this very blog - if I want to make 50 by the end of the year, I'll need to step up the pace. I think I'll go to bed right now and work on that.