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Dracula Gardens

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Sunday, May 29, 2005
I started writing this entry the other day, when it was still sunny. Since then the weather has turned cool and overcast and 60 minutes just did a story on Romania's tourist industry and how they are reluctantly embracing Dracula as a way to entice visitors. In other words, this is even more timely now than it was then!

But before we get to Dracula, here's another interesting tourist destination. The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland are turning the garden to their estate into a Poison Garden. It's all very thrilling. They are planning on "evil-looking flowers," a "perpetual miasma of deliberately spooky mist", and also terraced cascades and a labyrinth. I bet it is a cool labyrinth like the one in the NIN video for The Perfect Drug, and not a lame one like some of the ones printed on canvas. CANVAS? Anyway, interesting story. I hope they do get permission to plant all the plants they want. I haven't heard of any other poison gardens open to the public (or at all, actually) that are on this scale. And if there is deliberately spooky mist, I must see it!

This next link is for Martina. She has been trying to shed herself of copies of Dracula for some time now. It doesn't help that I personally have probably given her four copies (they look cool, I can't remember if I gave her one already, etc. etc..). Anyway - now someone has done a blog where you can read Dracula according to its own internal calendar. Since almost the whole novel is in diary or letter form, this is quite doable and looks fun. I bet it rachets up the suspense, too, since you can't read ahead.


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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Originally uploaded by Sabinche.
gummi-bear on a fork. what's not to love? This photo has great composition and color.


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Saturday, May 28, 2005
is Mercury in retrograde or something? I have this pit of crankitude sitting in the middle of my chest. I am cranky about things that normally don't bother me, or things that I know I am wrong about (which makes me crankier yet). I just want to grouch at everyone, throw a giant temper tantrum, or cry me a river. I don't know why. I hope it goes away soon, as I can't even stand myself when I am irrationally cranky, let alone watch other people thinking "what a goddamned cranky bitch." Grrrrr. Even my usual fool-proof crank-busters are not working! (sing along tunes, diet coke, read something funny.) Everything bugs me! Example: somebody within hearing distance of my open windows is playing some godawful noodly flute music. I want to find a flute and break their stereo into little tiny pieces with it! is that rational? NO. and oh yeah - open letter to the asshats who go behind the tavern to puke and/or chat loudly with other assholes on their cellphone: I hate you. thanks to physics or some other thing I am too boneheaded to understand, this noise travels - right to my window. You better hope I don't still have the flute I (hypothetically) used to break the neighbor's stereo, or you're in for an ass-whupping.
Internet Orchid Fanciers - you don't know who you are, but I do. If you could dial back the pretension to merely 11, I would be ever so grateful. And while I'm at it - white tank top - what the hell happened to you? When did you get all baggy and stretched out? WIP? What's the matter with you? Things were going so well, and then you had to start stinking up the joint with your inconsistent characterizations and lame transitions.

Bah! Mercury better get back where it belongs. I can't stand this much longer.

The Last Temptation

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Thursday, May 26, 2005
by Neil Gaiman #16

I picked this up browsing the comic/graphic novel section at the library. It had Neil Gaiman's name on it, I hadn't read it, and really - that's enough for me. I'll be honest - it's been sitting around for a long time. I've renewed it over and over because I never got around to reading it. Until now. I should have known something was up when I flipped through and thought "hey, that looks like Alice Cooper." I should have further known something was up when the whole introduction was basically Neil Gaiman saying (paraphrase)...."soooo, yeah. how did this get back in print? enjoy the art, but please don't hold the story against me as I had to co-write it with Alice Cooper." And he's right. The story is slight and predictable. Like Alice Cooper was watching some Twilight Zone and said, "hey, you know what would be fiendish and awesome? if I was a demonic theater guy and hassle this kid into joining my circus of the damned! yeah!" If you are an Alice Cooper completeist, you will probably need to read this book. If you are a Neil Gaiman completist - at least it is short. Anyway - I don't resent the time it took to read this (very little), but I won't be adding it to my list of things I must own.

Assassination Vacation

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Thursday, May 26, 2005
by Sarah Vowell (#15)

Sarah Vowell loves American history, and for this I love Sarah Vowell. A lot of people think that history is boring; that history is what you slept through before the bell rang and you could go to lunch. BUT NO! It can be so thrilling it inspires weirdos (I say that with fellow-weirdo affection) to run all over the eastern United States visiting places and objects related to presidential assassinations. She covers the Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley assassinations in this book and takes the reader to places that they maybe never thought they would go (from the utopian free-love Oneida Community to Sandy Cohen on the O.C. for one). What I especially enjoyed is that she is able to write with great humor, but never loses sight of the tragedy of these events. The Lincoln section is the longest, but honestly - Garfield and McKinley should be glad they got as much as they did.

There are too few writers who can get at what makes history zing and whip around like the best novel ever. Sarah Vowell is one of them.

six of one/ crumbs on my brain

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005
I have added a flickr badge to this blog. I think it is cool - they now have it set up so you can make one based on a particular keyword. Right now I have chosen "red", although "green", "happy" and "trees" are on my mind. I can't decide if the coolnes and fun of it is worth the extra load time, though. Maybe if I made it just one picture instead of three - although I suspect it isn't the quantity that makes it slow.

ION, I have words due today on my WIP and we have the nicest weather we've had all year! As complaints go, it is hardly worth mentioning since it is in the "my diamond shoes are too tight" category. But still.

I went crazy last night downloading cover songs. So far, I prefer the original El Scorcho to all pretenders, but the String Tribute to Weezer version is also pretty fun. I like covers. At first I was going to say particularly covers of songs I like but don't love, but then I remembered the crazy Pipilotti Rist version of Wicked Game - so I have decided instead to say that like any song, covers must be taken in on their own terms.

edit: I removed the flickr badge, but if they figure out a way to make it zippier I will be all over it. Maybe because it was pulling from such a huge pool? I don't know. It would be faster if it were just selecting from my own pictures, but I like the random element. Anyway. I'll just continue posting pictures in this section and pine away for speedy side-bar goodies.

PS: the Travis cover of Be My Baby is pretty dang good. I understand they've gone all hippie-jam-bandish now, which makes me sad.

up and coming- ->

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Monday, May 23, 2005
I think I may have entered the next phase of project pursuit. I am never sure what brings about these periods of accomplishment (or expected accomplishment, as I haven't accomplished anything YET) - but I know I had better jump on it with both feet or it will skitter away.

Up and coming projects for me: go through and cull books and junk. The junk shouldn't be so hard, and the books not so hard as I once would have thought. At one point in my life I would have said I could never get rid of a book - but I've decided that perhaps I don't need to keep a bunch of paperbacks I bought for a quarter each 13 years ago. Just maybe I can let some of those go - at least the ones I read once and will never read again. This is all in aid of Project Bookshelf. I think I am going to put up some brackets and standards on my wall to make shelves. I will get rid of the two bookcases I have sitting in that spot currently. It will be a lot more actual shelf-room, plus it will be less stuff on the floor, which is good. I will probably paint the shelves, which leads me to project two:

Sand and paint dresser. It is currently sponge-painted different shades of blue and has white ceramic knobs. There is nothing wrong with any of this, except I am sick of looking at it and there are some chips in the paint on the corners.

That really ought to cover it for current painting/building type projects. At least for now. I still have a floor cloth in mid-stages of finishing, but my heart's just not in it at the moment. My heart and my head both want to make this bookshelf thing work so that I have room to put all of my CDs away without having to have them in 13 places. (long, boring story - not that a long boring story would normally deter me from telling it, but I am tired and want to read the last couple chapters of Assassination Vacation.)


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Friday, May 20, 2005

Originally uploaded by sriber/ susanne.
I found this picture in the flickr group Urban Fairytales. I love the whole idea of this group and joined it in the hopes that it would remind me to look for pictures that would fit. Anyway - I love the red boots and green dress, and how it could be anything - is she setting out on an adventure? are they magic boots?

Maybe I need more caffeine. But it is still a great picture whether or not they are magic boots or whether or not I am caffeine-deprived.

things that are good

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005
1. Marching Band season. I live near a middle school with a marching band. Last year (before I realized where the music was coming from) I thought I had lost my mind and was having auditory hallucinations of a marching band version of "We've Got The Funk". It was no hallucination! (I actually got in the car and drove around with the windows down until I found the source) I looked for them in the Rose Festival parade, but they weren't there. Maybe this year I will go to the Junior RF Parade and see if I can spot them. Another thing that makes me laugh - AC/DC was a huge favorite of high school marching bands in last year's parade. I mean Sousa is great and all, but AC/DC!!!! come on! hee hee.

2. The sun is finally out after weeks of rain. And not just regular Oregon rain - hard-falling, flower-felling, giant Florida rain sized raindrops.

3. disocovery that a size 7 in women's shoes is about the same as a 4 1/2 - 5 in girl's shoes! I now have a really cute pair of blue gingham cork platform strappy sandals! For less than 11 dollars! Now I just need to make a cute dress or skirt to wear with them.

4. Rockabilly music. It may be one of my many summer obsessions (along with crazy circus music). I like summer obsessions!

5. I have decided that I am going to work at least an hour a day on my WIP. Doing that much every two weeks is just LAME, and the only way it is going to get done is if I work on it. So, I'm going to work on it. Yay for decisions! I realize this is a diccussion I will probably have with myself again, but I've got to start somewhere.

BONUS Good things: OK Go and the Old 97's. They both trigger glee in my heart.

To Sir Phillip, With Love

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Monday, May 16, 2005
by Julia Quinn (#14)

He's a noble botanist-widower with two wild children, she's a letter-writing spinster with 8 siblings... They fight crime!
OK, they don't fight crime. But they have sexy adventures! OK, they don't really have adventures. But there is a little botany.

I would read more titles by this author - as is often the case when a main character has many, many siblings who are named, there are many more matches to be made (or already made - I'm not sure where in the Bridgerton order this book comes)in this family by this author. She has fun with the titles An Offer From a Gentleman, The Vicount Who Loved Me, The Duke and I, How To Marry a Marquiss, To Catch an Heiress,etc. This was light, fast, and enjoyable reading. edit: although I was just reading something over at Smart Bitches and was reminded that this book did deal with depression and an abusive nanny (although she was dealt with pretty quickly) - so it's not all botany,crime fighting, sunshine and puppies.

Take Joy: a book for writers

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Friday, May 13, 2005
by Jane Yolen (#13)

Hey! Lucky 13 on Friday the 13th! I really enjoyed this book. This is one of the few writing books (along with say, Bird by Bird and maybe the NaNoWriMo book) that I would actually like to have in my personal collection. Yolen's take on writing can pretty much be summed up by the quotation she has at the very beginning by Fra Giovanni: The gloom of the world is but a shadow, and yet within our reach is joy. Take joy! As I get to know myself better (aka get older), I have come to realize that I am essentially an optimist. It's not better or worse than being any other way, it just makes me happiest (and as an optimist, I like to be happy). So, this 'take joy' approach works for me.

Certainly she acknowledges the frustrations and difficulties of writing, but more often her focus is on how to enjoy, how to get the most out of what your brain and experience have to offer, how to take a fresh look at what you already have. But it's not all happy-feel-good stuff. She also includes the secret of writing: (BIC - for Butt In Chair), and that sometimes you have to quit fussing and just sit down and write the damn story. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a book on writing that is not concentrating on "12 easy steps to publication" or "how to have a punctuation aneurysm." It's more about telling a story, and less about the technical aspect. Lord knows there are plenty of books out there already focusing on the latter.

You can get a taste of her style if you go to her website here, and go to the For Writers section linked to from the bottom of the page.

shame index update

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Thursday, May 12, 2005
I am going to try to post an update every other week, which is how often I send something (theoretically) to my critique partner.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
15,353 / 60,000

Red Mailbox, Red Door

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Red Mailbox, Red Door
Originally uploaded by A is for Angie.
I am big into tone on tone color lately, so this makes me happy. Plus, I like the angles of it, and how the opening on the right makes it a little lopsided.

All Songs Considered

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005
FYI: NPR's All Songs Considered has a streaming Deceberists concert available here. This is the May 6 show at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC. I am about 1/2 way through listening to it now and it is a lot of fun!

What's The Matter With Kansas: how conservatives won the heart of America

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Monday, May 09, 2005
by Thomas Frank (#12)
I had to check this book out three times to get through it. I don't know if that says more about my attention span, or the density of the prose. It is a LOT of information to take in. This book deals with a subject that has long confused me - when did the conservative right become the voice of the common person? How did this happen? He describes the shift away from economic populism toward this cultural backlash. How populism is being driven by this cultural commodity of so-called "authenticity," which has little to nothing to do with actual authenticity, but more the claiming of being "just a regular guy." I heard more than one people use as a reason to support GWB. Bleh. He also brings up something that I don't think enough people are talking about - what the hell is happening to the Democratic party? It has left all of its power to the people positions and now is very pro-business in a sad attempt to win. It's not working. Do they learn nothing from sit-coms? The girl who changes to be more what she thinks her boyfriend wants will not be happy. Just be your messy old self, DNC. By all means get your shit together, but don't try to make yourself over into a half-assed imitation of the republican party. But, I digress.
Frank covers this ground using his home state of Kansas as the example. Kansas has been at the forefront of political/social trends for over a century. It surprised me, too. He differentiates between the two seemingly warring factions of the Kansas Republican Party - the Mods (basic fiscal conservatives who are relatively liberal on social issues); and the Cons (culture warriors who are pro-business, and radically culturally conservative). Honestly, I think I should probably read it again.
But here are a couple of great little paragraphs to give you a taste of his style and subject matter: (From the chapter titled Con Men and Mod Squad, pp109)
And as corporate types, these Mods are the primary beneficiaries of the class war that rages against them. Although the Cons vituperate against the high and mighty, the policies they help enact -- deregulating, privatizing -- only serve to make the Mods higher and mightier still. And while it amy hurt the Mods' feelings to overhear their secretaries referring to them as RINOs (republicans in name only), the many rounds of tax cuts the Cons have accomplished have surely made the sting subside. The Mods win even when they lose.
This situation may be paradoxical, but it is also universal. For decades Americans have experienced a populist uprising that only benefits the people it is supposed to be targeting. In Kansas we merely see an extreme version of this mysterious situation. The angry workers, mighty in their numbers, are marching irresistibly against the arrogant. They are shaking their fists at the sons of privilege. They are laughing at the dainty affectations of the Leawood toffs. They are massing at the gates of Mission HIlls, hoisting the black flag, and while the millionaires tremble in their mansions, they are bellowing out their terrifying demands. "We are here," they scream, "to cut your taxes."

Charlie All Night

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Monday, May 09, 2005
By Jennifer Crusie (#11)

I am so far behind, it isn't even funny. But, I will prevail! I read this one a long time ago, so it is probably a good test of the book to see how much I remember. I remember that this felt really short to me, which is probably because it is one of her old category romances being re-released. It seemed a little dated to me, but not too much so (mostly in descriptions of the heroine's tapestry vests, etc.). It was good, but the side-plot/mystery was a little lame. I can't complain, because I know that if she had the length to work with it probably wouldn't have seemed so flat. The two main characters had chemistry and character to burn (as is usually the Crusie case), although some of the side characters ran together for me. Anyway - really light, but recommended. Only if you have already read her other ones, though.

Wordstock: last post! (this year)

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Sunday, May 08, 2005

Wordstock: A&E
Originally uploaded by jensect.
conclusion of Wordstock 2005 meanderings that I thought I posted two days ago, but didn't.

Now that the events of Wordstock are almost two weeks past, I find myself wishing that I had just pushed through and written everything at once. On the other hand, Sunday was the least frenzied day that I attended, so maybe it will work out.

I left the house a little later than I would have liked, and had to park further away than I REALLY would have liked. Special thanks to the asshole who jumped two lanes of traffic from the opposite direction to jam into the parking space I was headed for. I think that this is actually karmic retribution from the one time I stole a spot in a downtown parking lot from a monster truck. To be fair, I didn't know that he was trying to park there, but he was such a jerk when he was yelling at me about it I was disinclined to move. However, I felt bad and really should have moved anyway. Two wrongs don't make a right. Universe - I now consider us square on the parking-space thing.

12:00 - Sarah Vowell - it was packed. Standing room only. Since I wasn't there an hour ahead, I was standing pretty far back. I saw SV as she was ushered from the back up to the stage (side note: the crowd minder tried to tell them they couldn't block the fire lane, but then she let them pass. Close call!). She is tiny. I mean, teeny tiny. Short and slight with a great big head. I guess it has to be big to hold all of her massive brains. I didn't mind standing in the back so much because I am used to just hearing her on the radio anyway. It's not like she has a really fantastic stage presence. She was barely visible behind the lectern (well, from outer Uzbekistan where I was standing, anyway), and she had a microphone. Her presence is in her voice. She and Ursula LeGuin were duking it out, vocally speaking, at one point due to the crappy acoustics of the venue. Anyway, she read from her latest book Assassination Vacation, everybody clapped and laughed, even when she wasn't trying to be funny. That's the thing with SV - I think a lot of people have her down as being some kind of super-ironic comedian. She certainly employs irony like a master, but she is so serious in her love of American history, and what being an American means. She writes with humor, obviously, but I think a lot of people miss her absolute sincerity waiting for the next zinger. Of course, it could be that I just enjoy fancying myself as being so much more perceptive than the 30000 million people standing in front of me. I enjoyed her reading a lot, and understand the audio-book version of her book is great with special guest voices like Jon Stewart and Conan O'Brien (among others).

1:00 - I can say with absolute certainty, that people waiting to get a book signed by Sarah Vowell are a lot more polite than the people waiting to get a book signed by Phil Lesh. I basically stayed at the Powell's stage for the rest of the day, with little sorties out to the rest of the book fair. I bought Chelsea Cain's book while waiting for Glen David Gold to come on stage. He is the author of Carter Beats The Devil, which I have not read, but looks fascinating. Apparently it has something to do with Warren G. Harding, which ties it in with the previous reading. It was also about magicians and an alternate timeline. It looks really juicy, and I plan on reading it this year. But, of course he didn't read from that book since it is a couple of years old. He read from a new work in progress, which has no title. He read the first 20 pages or so, and it definitely sounds intriguing. He seems to be working in the vernacular of another age. Everything that would maybe sound a little larded up to my ears was probably just my modern ear saying "why are there all these extra words." If I disconnected that little part of my brain and just listened - it was fantastic. So, based on the first 20 pages I would say that his next book should be quite interesting as well. He read well and was very friendly with the crowd (which was not huge, but was appreciative).

2:00 - after GDG, I wandered out to where the information booths were to see if I could score some more temporary tattoos. Not only could I do that - but they had stacks of books from the Title Wave with little signs saying "FREE BOOKS - if these aren't taken, they will be SHREDDED!" Which was of course the perfect threat at this venue. Book addicts will drag home just about anything to save it from the shredder. I found an indoor gardening guide, and an Amy Vanderbilt etiquette guide from the early 90's. I limited myself to that - it seemed like there were plenty of other people swarming around the FREE BOOKS, that most of them were probably saved from the shredder. I went back in and found a seat to prepare for Nancy Pearl. She is a Seattle Librarian who is featured on Morning Edition. Her superpower is recommending the perfect book. I could have listened to her for 4 hours! She was great. Her enthusiasm for books and reading just came bursting out of her and washed all over the audience. It wasn't as gross as it sounds. She was here promoting her two books of recommendations, Book Lust, and More Book Lust. I guess the second was to make up for the fact that she forgot Anthony Trollope in the first volume. I've not read Trollope, but I want to. He wrote so much I never know where to start. I should check out her book and see what she recommends. Anyway - Nancy Pearl is great and everyone should buy or check out her book, and be sure to listen for her on Morning Edition.

3:00 Chelsea Cain - CC writes the Calendar Girl column for The Oregonian. I've always liked the voice of the column - it is sassy and a little snarky but never mean. When I read that she was writing a book based on "what if Nancy Drew were a real character?" I knew I would have to read it. Confessions of a Teen Sleuth is the resulting volume - it is pink with a great 40's style semi-cheesecake painting on the front of a strawberry blonde on the phone. Nancy Drew, but not Nancy Drew. I was a HUGE Trixie Belden fiend back in the day (for the record, "the day" was the late 70's- mid 80's). What I didn't know is that they were actually being republished with new covers, and that the originals had been written back starting in the 40's! I just thought kids in upstate New York were big with the "jeepers!", and that the regionalism never trickled down to Florida where I was living at the time. I was addicted to these books - I wanted them for Christmas, I wanted them for birthdays, I wanted them for weekends! I didn't always get them, but I often did. It is thanks to these books that I am sure I have all sorts of really dated mis-information about cities and countries all around the world! What do you mean, they don't still have Automats in NYC? (I believe that was covered in The Mystery of the Blinking Eye - I could be mistaken, though.) One of my all-time favorites was The Mystery of the Ghostly Galleon, because it combined detecting with PIRATES. Good Lord. Obviously, Trixie should get her own post at some date in the future. To get back to Chelsea Cain, let's just say that I didn't read Nancy Drew, but that was just a fluke of which long series book I picked up first. The girl detective was no stranger to my reading habits. (See also: Beverly Grey, Connie Blair, Judy Bolton, and of course Cherry Ames, Student Nurse (and Dude Ranch Nurse, and Department Store Nurse - Cherry had a hard time holding a job). So, I knew I had to hear CC read. I also wanted to support her because she is local, about my age, and she seems like a good egg.

She read the Haight Ashbury chapter of her book. It was hilarious, with the titian-haired detective (now in her 40's) going out to SF to visit Ned Jr, who has joined the counter culture. Imagine my delight when none other than Foxie Belden-Frayne (daughter of Trixie Belden and Jim Frayne) shows up! Anyway, I haven't read it yet, but it looks fun. And I stood in line to have her autograph it, and even managed to tell her that I enjoyed her column and loved Trixie. I always *want* to tell people whose work I admire that, hey, I admire their work - but it is always hard for me. I get tongue tied and idiotic. She seemed to think I was no more stupid than anyone else, and was very gracious.

After that I walked the 3000 miles back to my car, and went home. Wordstock Is Dead, Long Live Wordstock!

So Says I

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Sunday, May 08, 2005
Yeah - I have got to get busy on my nano project! A while back I was blithely saying, "I want to have it done enough to show *somebody* besides my critique partner by July." Well - guess what? I have been just noodling around and not getting busy AT ALL. Because I suck. I've done a little, but not as much as I should. I am going to try the age-old technique of shaming myself into action by posting this word count doodad I found on these here internets. I had to pick a word count GOAL - I picked 60,000, even though I suspect that I may ultimately need to be closer to 75k. I will change it if I need to. I have already written 50K for nano - but this is the "re-writing everything because it is all so very sucky" phase. I don't think all hope is lost, I just need to put some time in. Wish me luck.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
12,424 / 60,000


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Saturday, May 07, 2005

Originally uploaded by jensect.

My friend Blondie is a Film Fanatic. She saw umpty million movies during the Portland Film Festival, belongs to the Silver Screen club or whatever they call the Northwest Film Center's dealie, and thinks I am a giant loser for only going to two movies a month if I am lucky. Anyway, she knew my sister and I were busy with Wordstock stuff, but she had some extra tickets to the Peripheral Produce Fourth Annual Invitational, and did we want to go? Answer - sure, why not! This was the big event ending the PDX Film Festival. Portland has a lot of film festivals.

We met her after Saturday's full day at Wordstock at the Guild Theater downtown. She led us to the seats she had saved toward the back of the theater, but first we were each given a ballot, a viewmaster viewer, and a perforated bingo card. This invitational is made up of short films made by mostly local filmmakers. Part of the conditions of the competition are that they have to be there in order for their film to be shown, so that adds to the fun. The audience quickly filled up. People were sitting in the aisles. People watching was EXCELLENT - film makers, film fans, scenesters and hangers-on, and garden-variety voyeurs like yours truly.

A really, really tall guy steps up to the podium and gets things going - does everyone have their ballot? their viewmaster? their bingo card? The viewmaster is for one of the films, the ballot is for voting, and the bingo card is for BINGO! He had a whole bingo set-up for lulls when the projector was being changed or whatever. I was one number away from winning, but that's ok. It would have been a long way to walk to claim a prize.

The movies run the gamut - I think the longest was about 20 minutes, and most were much shorter than that. Ones I remember particularly were the Dick Cheney/Scarface movie (like on Conan - Cheney's mouth was replaced with Al Pacino from Scarface. Ha!); Where is My Boyfriend; one with a personal ad set-up; a VCR getting the hell beat out of it from the VCR's POV; a movie made from exposing film on the sidewalk in front of the theater after it had been covered with lunchmeat and fruit (great texture!) - that one was accompanied by live music as musicians who were stationed all over the theater and played their pan flutes (or whatever) moving all over the theater so the sound moved arround. It was a great way to end the invitational, which is good since it was last.

My favorite was the VladMaster movie by Vladimir. It was the most theatrical, the most interactive, and the most freak-ass weird. It appealed to me so much - I have been trying to figure out why. Is it just because I am a Viewmaster junkie? Is it because the format is simultaneously fresh and dorky? Is it because it is just objectively awesome? I voted for this one, obviously. Go here to see a slideshow from the event. You, too, can see the band performing the soundtrack in their dark suits, antlers, tubas, toy pianos, train whistles, and did I mention ANTLERS? The presentation was gorgeous - everyone was passed a beautifully decorated paper package which contained 4 vladmaster reels. These are AMAZING (she has pictures on her site). There was an introduction in which we were all trained like Pavlov's dogs so we would know when to click to the next frame, and when to change reels. There is definitely something about being in a room with 399 other people all clicking on a viewmaster in unison. Really. I recommend the experience.
I felt bad for whoever had to follow this film. I can't feel bad for them individually though, because I don't remember who it was.

After the festival we split out the front and headed to the garage where we were parked. There is a ballroom in the same building as the Guild Theater, and some school was having their prom there. I think. It is the only explanation I could come up with for all the tulle and tuxedos. It was interesting to watch all of the indie-film hipsters spill out of the theater and run smack into a bunch of drunk high-school students in formal-wear. Actually, it would make a good movie.

Live Wire on TV

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Saturday, May 07, 2005
Just an update - here's the info from Live Wire!'s site about the televised version of their Wordstock program:

Comcast and OPB teamed up to record a stellar 2 hour special Live Wire! on April 22 at the Aladdin Theater.
Tune into CNW 14 to see a one-hour action packed version of that show.

Show Schedule :

Sunday May 8 @ 9pm
Wednesday May 11 @ 9pm
Sunday May 15 @ 9pm
Wednesday May 18 @ 9pm
Sunday May 22 @ 9pm
Wednesday May 25 @ 9pm
Sunday May 29 @ 9pm

Will also be shown on OPB Video ON DEMAND channel.


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Thursday, May 05, 2005
Has anyone used eMusic before? I was just looking at their site, and they have some oddball but intriguing things in their catalog (Decemberists, for one - although I already have them), and they distribute their music as unencumbered mp3's (so you aren't limited to how many times you burn them, what devices you put them on, etc.). I may check out their free trial. The regular price is 9.99 for a month, and you get 40 downloads. So, only .25 per song! They have a limited (but interesting) catalog, and you can cancel at any time. I may sign up for their free trial, in which you get 50 songs, and if you cancel within 2 weeks you pay nothing. hmmmmm... rubs hands in contemplative manner.

Norman Mailer, I'm Pregnant!

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Wordstock: Mercury
Originally uploaded by jensect.

Wordstock Book Fair - Day One, Sat. 4/23

Seriously, I'm almost done with these Wordstock posts. For real.

Ha ha! OK, I didn't even see Norman Mailer, nor am I pregnant. But this was an episode title of Gilmore Girls this season and seemed too good to leave alone.

9:30AM: M. comes and picks me up - helps me to solve wardrobe malfunction. Problem: my ass hangs out of my pants whenever I sit down. Solution: longer shirt.

9:45 - arrive at convention center, having circumvented the Sucker Parking (10 dollars! outrageous!) by finding street parking and having enough change. Walk short distance to Convention Center and are greeted by Wordstock Volunteers at almost every entrance and intersection. They give out programs and tell us which way to go. We were perversely pleased that that all Wordstock Goons (M. came up with this name which amused us to no end) could tell we were there for Wordstock and didn't mistake us for Pottery show people, or the Mind/Body expo people - even though I *have* been to and enjoyed the Pottery shows many years previous. Like calls to like, I guess. We must have had that Book Nerd gleam in our eyes.

10AM: We split up - I go in to the Borders Stage to see Anne Perry, M. goes to a smaller room to see Sharan Newman give a lecture on a concordance she has written to the da Vinci Code. I find a seat and test my ass-covering shirt. It works, but it could have been a bit longer (or my ass a bit smaller, but I guess we know which of these is more likely). As I am sitting and fidgeting with my shirt/ass ratio, I take a look around. There's not too many people here yet. I am always a horrible guesstimator when it comes to crowds, but I would say the number was hovering somewhere between 50-75, perhaps eventually getting to 100. Mostly women, although there are certainly some men there too. Some guy gets on stage and introduces Willamette Week's Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Nigel Jaquiss, who will then introduce Anne Perry. I really admire NJ's writing, and think it is a testament to how good he is that he won this big-deal award after only being a journalist for 7 years. It is kind of a shame he is having to turn his investigative skills to finding out author tidbits. For example, Anne Perry's cat is 27.
Anne Perry takes the stage and is very nice, but weary. It is clear that she has been doing readings (although probably not at the same time as 4 other people also with microphones in the other corners of the room) for a long time. She's phoning it in a little, but I forgive her because it is only about 4:30 am her time, and this is almost her last stop on tour. She reads a bit from her novel Long Spoon Alley (she told us it comes from the phrase "when you eat with the devil, use a long spoon"). I only read her Monk novels, and this wasn't one of them so I just sort of listen to the rhythm of her reading (very good). She answers questions from the crowd. Some were good, some were heartbreakingly stupid, like at all readings. She also had material ready to talk about when the questions were lagging. She writes two novels a year, does prodigious research, and clearly knows her stuff. It was a good reading, but afterwards when I met up with M., I wished I had gone to listen to Sharan Newman instead. She had slides.

11AM: I shanghai M. into listening to Diana Abu-Jaber with me. I have never read any of her stuff, but I heard her be interviewed by Terri Gross on Fresh Air, and also used to read her column in the Oregonian. She now splits her time between here and Miami. Diana Abu-Jaber also gets a Nigel Jaquiss introduction, but there were no cat factoids that I recall. This reading was packed - she also taught at PSU, and I think she had former students there, friends, and people like me who were just interested. She read from her memoir The Language of Baklava. She's a great reader, interacted with the crowd really well and seemed pretty real. She suggested someone hop over to the next stage over and kill whoever it was that was talking so loud she couldn't hear herself think. That's when I decided she was a-ok with me. Instead of politely asking, "can you hear me?" she's all "DEATH!" Although she could have taken a page from her own book and offered the loud-talker some baklava. She had a good Q&A session, although the real pisser for this event (besides the noise competition from every other corner) was that it was almost impossible to hear audience questions. The Wordstock Goon Minder for that stage offered to hear the questions and run them up to the author, but that wasn't particularly efficient.

12NOON: I had a hankering to hear the screenwriting panel, God only knows why. M. humors me and we wander over and the line is snaking out of the little room they've scheduled it in. We turn away, only to scurry back 5 minutes later and get an even worse spot than if I'd just stayed put to begin with (story of my life!). So, Standing Room Only means they better be more than just a little amusing and instructive. It wasn't all bad - by standing I didn't have to worry about the shirt/ass ratio even a little. The panel was Mike Rich (former KINK fm news dude, now screenwriter extraordinaire of treacly feel-good movies); Whitney Otto (not a screenwriter, but had her novel How to Make an American Quilt made into a movie; Ron Shelton - director and screenwriter - wrote Tin Cup, Bull Durham, etc.; John Norville - I'd never heard of him before - I think he does a lot of clean-up work on other people's scripts; and finally, Shawn Levy, the Oregonian's film critic. If I were the Queen of the Universe, Whitney Otto would have either had her own panel on works adapted from your novel, or had at least one other person up there in the same boat. She was great - interesting and funny - but not really what they were talking about. Also if I were Queen - Mike Rich wouldn't have been there. I'm sure he's a nice man, but he didn't really have much to offer - other than "oh yeah! me too! Although when I did it, it was more boring, except for that one time when Disney really screwed me hard.", Ron Shelton could have done the panel all by himself - he was great and clearly had seen more Rise and Fall of the Screenplay than the rest of them put together. John Norville was interesting too, but he tended to wander off the topic a bit. Shawn Levy was fine, although I think he left Whitney Otto out to hang which he should have been able to avoid as moderator. Two more acts as Queen of the Universe in the context of this panel: the woman who kept letting her cell phone ring and then giggled about it would have had it explode in her purse, and the asskissing questions would have been reduced by at least 30%.
side note: I kept seeing Shawn Levy all over the book fair. Everywhere I turned, there he was!

1PM - LUNCH TIME. M & I leave the convention center to go to lunch. We ended up at Red Robin, because there is less standing (hey- we just stood for an HOUR, man). It was the right choice. "Is a booth OK?" " More diet coke?" "Can I bring you more fries?" The service was so good it was suspicious. Thank you, M., for lunch! It was delish and I owe you SEVERAL.

2PM ISH- we head back over and call my sister and harass her into coming down to hear Wesley Stace read. Then we wander the floor of the book fair. Look - there's Shawn Levy again. There are lots of bookstores and book accessory-type vendors here. It's quite nice. Food and drink, on the other hand is highway robbery. Reading this over, I see the recurring theme of my cheapness, and it isn't shaming me at all. After M. and I had wandered a while, we went outside of starbucks to call and see if Bec had made it yet. While doing that, I notice WS wander in and head toward the main room. He has avoided the check-in table with Wordstock Goons! Will he be allowed to read, or will they kneecap him before he steps on stage? We meet up with Bec, do a little shopping, and then head over to the Powell's stage where WS will be reading. Problem - there are a million deadheads swarming all over. Poor Elizabeth Gaffney - by the time we got there it was about Q&A time for her - there were only a few people left in her audience, but hundreds of loudly talking people waiting in line for Phil Lesh to sign their book. It was really obnoxious. And, it continued. The Wesley Stace reading was delayed about 10 minutes, and the Powell's stage minder had to come up and chide the line several times. Once the hippies were under control, the reading began. It was good. He read from a different section than the night before, he sang a couple of songs that one of the characters in his book sings. At one point it was an inadvertant duet with Marc Acito, who was belting out something on the Borders Stage. When it was all said and done, Phil Lesh was STILL signing books, so WS kind of had to hang around the autograph table until he was given an adjoining table. M. had bought his book earlier in the day, and decided to get it autographed since the line wasn't that long. Hooray! I would have liked to do the same, but I really only had $$ for one book and decided to buy Chelsea Cain's book since she is a) local, b) I am pretty sure she doesn't have as big of a publicity machine behind her as Singer turned Author Wesley Stace. (although I am sure his book is fantastic, and I do fully intend to read it.)

Bibliothèque de l'UQAM

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Bibliothèque de l'UQAM
Originally uploaded by -Ant-.
Books, beautiful books! OK, I just really liked the perspective and the color (and the books)

Happy May Day!

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Sunday, May 01, 2005

I interrupt my tardy posts about Wordstock to wish everyone a happy May Day! Here is a description of May from the Ecyclopaedia Brittanica 11th edition (from 1911):

May, the fifth month of our modern year, the third of the old Roman calendar. The origin of the name is disputed; the derivation from Maia, the mother of Mercury, to whom the Romans were accustomed to sacrifice on the first day of the Month is usually accepted. The ancient Romans used on May Day to go in procession to the grotto of Egeria. From the 28th of April to the 2nd of May was kept the festival of Flora, in honor of the goddess of flowers. By Romans the month was considered unlucky for marriages, owing to the celebration on the 9th, 11th, and 13th of the Lemuria, the festival of the unhappy dead. This superstition has survived to the present day.

In medieval and Tudor England, May Day was a great public holiday. All classes of the people, young and old alike, were up with the dawn and went "a-Maying" in the woods. Branches of trees and flowers were borne back in triumph to the towns and villages, the centre of the procession being occupied by those who shouldered the maypole, glorious with ribbons and wreaths. The maypole was usually of birch, and set up for the day only; but in London and the larger towns the poles were of durable wood and permanently erected. They were special eyesores to the Puritans. John Stubbes in his Anatomy of Abuses (1583) speaks of them as those "stinckying idols," about which the people "leape and daunce, as the heathen did." Maypoles were forbidden by the parliament in 1644, but came once more into favor at the Restoration, the last to be erected in London being that set up in 1661. This pole, which was of cedar, 134 ft. high, was set up by twelve British sailors under the personal supervision of James II., then duke of York and lord high admiral, in the Strand on or about the site of the present church of St Mary's-in-the-Strand. Takend down in 1717, it was conveyed to Wansted Park in Essex, where it was fixed by Sir Isaac Newton as part of the support of a large telescope, presented to the Royal Society by a French astronomer.
For an acccount of the May Day survivals in rural England see P.H. Ditchfield, Old English Customs extant at Present Times (1897)

So ends the britannica article. I will edit in some links shortly (hopefully before the end of May 1) to other May 1/early May celebrations including the International Workers of the World day, and the Gaelic Beltane.
edit: Here's a link to a site with more links on Beltane - by just browsing I already learned that the Hawthorne is also referred to as the Mayflower! Caveat - be sure to go to the botttom of the page right away to turn off the obnoxious computer bagpipes!
Here's an article on the history of the worker's struggle and how it ties in to May Day.

Do you know of any early summer/ May specific songs? the only one I can think of off the top of my head is XTC's The Wheel & the Maypole.

Oh My God, Is She Still Talking About That?

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Sunday, May 01, 2005
FINAL, so help me god, Livewire post

I am still going to talk about the rest of wordstock, though. Tonight I heard it on the radio! So now I have, a couple of corrections and addenda to the previous posts:
1. Marc Acito was funnier than I remembered, and also did a very funny musical bit at the end about Inspriation. I don't know if they'll be playing this on the radio again, but it was filmed for television and you should check it out if you can.
2. Libretto - from where I was sitting in the audience (which was very much in the center) I could barely hear his backing track or whatever the hell you call the sounds coming from that thing the other guy was standing behind and waving his hands over. It was much clearer on the radio, and I liked the songs THAT much more. Even though I liked them already. Anyway.
3. The Michael Allan Harrison/ Courtenay Hameister thing was really fricking funny.

NOW for the parts that have yet to write about. Colin Meloy of the Decemberists was there, as wasJohn Wesley Harding/Wesley Stace.

Now that I've saved it for last, I feel kind of stupid because I don't know what to say. I'll start with the fact that I thought they both were brilliant, and they both wore green shirts. Wesley Stace was there because he's written a book Misfortune, and I think Colin Meloy was there because each of his songs is like a novel. Everyone says it, but for once what everyone says is true. CM sang two songs - the first being The Engine Driver, and the second (after they did some other stuff) some song about Constantinople. Possibly about a marriage gone wrong plus an illicit affair in Constantinople, or a walled garden, or all of the above. It wasn't a song I knew. From skulking around the internet I have discovered that it is one that may be released on a Picaresque EP, perhaps in May. So that will be great - all Constantinople/Decemberists-related mysteries may be solved soon. I have never seen the Decemberists or Colin Meloy perform before, although I am very familiar with their three released albums- (Castaways and Cutouts; Her Magesty, the Decemberists; Picaresque) - all excellent. The performance was fantastic. I am always amazed when one person with just a guitar and a microphone can do that much. Anyway, he was excellent, and I will certainly be making a more concerted effort to see the band if they ever make it back home to pdx from their Advance of the Picaroons tour.

Wesley Stace was accompanied to the stage by Oregonian music critic Marty Hughley. I would guess they are pals from body language, the fact that I saw MH waiting for WS after his reading on Sat. and that I think the hostess of the show said they were. MH is a really good interviewer. They talked about his music, his novel, and if he plans to continue making pop records now that he is a big-deal novel dude (paraphrase). (the answer, thankfully, is yes). WS sang the first couple of verses from the song Misfortune that was the inspiration from the novel, read a bit from the novel, and then sang Goth Girl. (so fun!). Wesley Stace was charming, funny, self-depricating yet self-promoting (try that one without being a complete asshole! not easy!), and of course he sings and reads really well. sigh.

The best and most unexpected part of the show was at the very end when one of the producers came out and said that there were technical difficulties during Colin Meloy's songs, and he was going to come out and sing them again - if we wanted to stay, we were more than welcome. And that after that, he and JWH had cooked up a number for us! Hooray! I should say it was the best part for me. I imagine it was rather tiresome to have to re-do the songs. But, because he is thoughtful and awesome, CM did two *different* songs than he performed earlier in the show. He did Leslie Ann Levine, and Of Angels and Angles. Then JWH came out and they performed a song I later learned (thanks again to skulking and the internet) was called Wild Mountain Thyme. M. pointed me to an awesome recap by JWH about the show - you can find it here. All and all, it was a great show. I enjoyed it tremendously and I am so glad that Bec just went down and got the damn tickets and I got off my lazy ass and went!