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Girl Detective/ Lucky Day

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005
I should be cleaning or packing, but it is so dang hot I am sitting here in front of the computer with a glass of cold water and a popsicle. I like the heat, it just isn't that condusive to doing much more than I'm doing. Maybe that's why I like it.
In my hot-weather web-browsing I have found out some truly excellent news! When posting the Confessions of a Teen Sleuth review below, I was going to mention the excellent short story by Kelly Link called, strangely enough, The Girl Detective, from her wonderful first collection called Stranger Things Happen. The tone and mood of that piece are very different from the Chelsea Cain book, so I thought maybe it needed its own entry. The short story is a dreamy fantastical haze. Kelly Link is able to write in a way that articulates moods and feelings that words normally can't describe. She reaches down into the unconscious, deep down into the things a person knows in their bones, and makes what she finds into art. Somehow. I want to say it is like magic, but that feels like cheating, so I will just say that to me these stories are like the kind of music that makes me listen again and again, even though I'm not sure why. And maybe I don't want to know why.

The wonderful news is that she has made the whole of her book Stranger Things Happen available for free download under a Creative Commons license. Click on the Stranger Things Happen link above for more information (and some fantastic reading).

Now I want to read her new book Magic For Beginners even more than I did before.

Here's a blurb from the back of STH by Karen Joy Fowler: A set of stories that are by turns dazzling, funny, scary, and sexy, but only when they're not all of these at once. Kelly Link has strangeness, charm and spin to spare. Writers better than this don't happen.

Confessions of a Teen Sleuth

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005
A Parody by Chelsea Cain #23

I bought this book (and had it autographed) at Wordstock in April, and finally got to it on the TBR pile. I should probably give a little background on my childhood reading habits - that I was a HUGE Girl Detective fan when I was a kid. Not Nancy Drew, as much, but Trixie Belden (my personal favorite), Cherry Ames (Student Nurse, Dude Ranch Nurse, Jungle Nurse, Department Store Nurse, etc.), Judy Bolton, and so on. They were re-issuing the Trixie Belden books at the time and I would get them for birthdays or Christmas from my parents, or if I saved my money. They couldn't release them fast enough for me. I was completely unaware that Trixie was written by at least 5 different people, I just couldn't wait to see where she would be traveling with her best (rich) friend Honey Wheeler next. Would it be a dude ranch? A castle in England? The coast somewhere? Maybe they would find a pirate ship, solve the mystery of the bongos, or Sasquatch, etc. etc. The other Girl Detectives I checked out (10 at a time, the limit for kids) from the Punta Gorda library. So if I'm not the ideal consumer for this book (since I wasn't into Nancy Drew specifically) I am the next best thing: a former teen sleuth series reader with enough distance from my beloved to tolerate a parody, and enough disposable income to buy a copy.

This book was obviously written with a great deal of affection for the subjects, so that made me feel less guilty about laughing as the premiere Girl Detective's foibles are laid bare. It takes the premise that Carolyn Keene (the name given to the syndicate of writers responsible for the ND books), was actually a college roommate of Nancy's who was spreading lies and distortions of Nancy's adventures with her "chums" because she was jealous. Nancy's first person voice is spot on - it reads just like one of those books ( and I think I may have discovered where I acquired my love of exclamation points!), except it gives voice to a lot of the subtext. Ned is a drag, Nancy is completely self-absorbed a little too invested in solving mysteries, and...that's all I'll say for now. I don't want to give too much away. This book ages Nancy as she solves crimes throughout her life. There are familiar faces for fans of series mysteries - Cherry Ames (who serves some time here as an Internment Camp Nurse), Frank and Joe Hardy, Foxy Belden-Frayne (daughter of Trixie Belden and Jim Frayne), Kim Aldrich, and more. hee hee.

Here's the beginning of a reunion scene that gives a little taste of this book - from Chapter VIII - The Mystery of The Seven Sisters, 1975

"Actually," I announced to the auditorium, "I think that books about girl sleuths should be an integral component of the feminist canon."

There was a smattering of applause in the audience and nodding from my panel mates. It was the first annual Female Protagonists in Young Adult Series Literature Feminist Conference at Vassar College, and George Fayne, now a distinguished, tenured professor and author of the book
Clitoris! Clitoris! Clitoris! had invited me to participate. Others on the panel included Cherry Ames, who had recently been hired as a Teamsters nurse; Kim Aldrich, who was fighting the glass ceiling as a secretary for the international insurance firm WALCO, Inc.; and Judy Bolton, the attractive wife of an FBI agent, who had her own series of books, though they did not sell as well as mine."

This book also has great original-series style illustrations throughout, so you can see Nancy as she ages. I suspect Confessions of a Teen Sleuth will be the biggest hit with women who devoured these books as girls, but I definitely think that someone who has an interest in the phenomenon of series mysteries , or who enjoys a lovingly barbed parody would enjoy it as well.

Things I have learned from recent viewing

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Monday, July 25, 2005
Things I have learned from watching The Island , and season 1 of Carnivale:

1. Wincing will prevent you from being hit by bullets. Bullets that are raining from the sky and blowing the shit out of everything around you will whizz on by if you wince just so. And maybe yell "RUN!" Ewan is adorable, but I knew that already.

2. Don't dance the cootch in Babylon. It won't end well.

quick change sunset

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Sunday, July 24, 2005
From first picture to second picture in less than an hour. It was an impressive sunset.

crown point sunset

crown point sunset

deadlines, place-holders, and anniversaries

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Friday, July 22, 2005
Deadlines: This week has been one of deadlines. I have another one tomorrow (should probably be working toward that right now instead of typing), and another one on Monday. The company I'm doing these projects for is... interesting. Interesting is an ambiguous word, and I'll leave it at that. What I have learned: the hardest (but most important) thing in freelance-land is staying on top of the billing.

Place-holders: The Wire and The Wire in the Blood are both excellent (if very different) cop shows out on DVD. Therefore, all shows with the words "The Wire" in them are excellent. Or so my sample indicates.

Anniversaries: Thursday the 21st marked the one year anniversary of my garden blog! This doesn't sound like much of a big deal, but hey man, a YEAR. Woo! Go, plants! Before I started that blog, I had never typed one single solitary word that was in public view on the internet, despite a lot of reading. Now I am a blogging menace! (Ok, a kind of wimpy, gardening menace, but it's my anniversary - allow me a little hyperbole.)

birthday weekend, continued

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Saturday Bec and I headed to the beach in what was supposed to be a lovely day of just sitting and reading on the beach (one of my favorite things). Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. While it was over 90 in the city, it was fighting to be 60 degrees at the coast. overcast We came back early.
Sunday, we went to brunch at the Powellhurst Compund. What I did not know was that in addition to the deligtful M'tonia of P'hurst, Citizin R, and my sister, they invited two other good friends! It was a great day, even though I ended it in a food coma.

chia elephant takes a shower and other birthday stories

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

chia elephant takes a shower
Originally uploaded by jensect.
Birthday agenda: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Wheeeee! As soon as the chocolates were transported in the factory via mini-parachutes, I knew I would love this movie.), Lunch/dinner at Thanh Thao (so good), Chris Isaak concert at the zoo. It all went well until we got to the zoo. The lawn filled up sooner than we anticipated and we found ourselves in an island of loathsome yuppies. Of course not all Yuppies are loathsome, but these were. We tolerated it through the opening act, sitting on our sand chairs listening to the inane prattle (Mom actually took a transcription since she didn't bring anything to read while Bec and I were out taking pictures). They just Would Not Shut Up. So, we got up and left to find somewhere, anywhere to stand for the Chris Isaak portion of the show. We found a sweet spot back by the elephant enclosure. We could see better than our at the Yuppie Spot PLUS, it wasn't very crowded. But the best part was one of the elephants came out to enjoy the show. He would sway back and forth during the songs he really liked, and go stick his head in a hole in the wall for the ones he liked less. So, following is the playlist from the concert, with special notation for elephant faves.
(I have seen a lot of Chris Isaak shows, and after a while some of the stage banter is a little familiar. This show was different! not only was there a new-to-me suit (robin's egg blue cross between mariachi/vegas elvis/sky masterson), but there was a new order/rhythm to the show.)

1. American Boy - yay! if he had to sing songs from the last album, this is a good one to choose.
2. San Francisco Days - this was the elephant's favorite song!
3. Let me down easy
4. California Sun - (Kenney singing)
5. Goin' Nowhere
6. Somebody's Cryin'
7. Wicked Game
8. One Day
9. I want You To Want Me - great cover
organ interlude
10. Western Stars - switch to acoustic. Chris mentions the k.d. lang cover of this song, which I have heard and is amazing. I need to acquire a copy or find the one I already have.
11. Two Hearts - acoustic
12. Sweet Leilani - ("you guys sing, I'll sing higher") - acoustic
13. Can't Do a Thing - acoustic
14. Julie - acoustic
15. Dancin' - acoustic
children's happy coal mining song
16. Only the Lonely - elephant liked this one too!
17. Please - this one was half acoustic, and half electric. They worked it out.
18. Blue Hotel
19. Always Got Tonight (during this song a peacock took to the air and ended up in the giant fir tree behind the stage)
organ interlude that the elephant was really digging
20. beyond the sea/ bride of scotty medley - elephant approved
21. Notice the ring - the elephant really likes the fake rock flute.
a. Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing/hoochie dance/ bye bye baby - this got people dancing - but the elephant prefers something a little less rockin'.
b. new orleans whorehouse blues (did not get an actual song name - this is what he called it, though) - this the elephant LOVES.
c. Forever Blue

I love summer.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Help Wanted

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005
I am trying to make a Chris Isaak primer for my largely chris-less friend. She's not that familiar with his music, and his name to her evokes only the time he pawed Cameron Diaz at an awards show. This must change! I uploaded all of his CDs on iTunes and have been trying to craft a list that represents his early (and my favorite) Creepy Stalker period, early-mid Hauntingly Moody, middle-period Relatively Sunny, Soundtracks and Extras, and so on. I couldn't bring myself to include anything from the most recent (and craptastic) CD, but if someone can make a good argument from anything there, I'm game.

this list is probably too long by one long song, or two shorter ones. It's not final or in any particular order, it is just the first draft. Please help! Let me know if I've left off something vital, or have too many of the same type of songs. I've put album initials by each song to help sort it all out. (S = Silvertone, CI = Chris Isaak, HSW = Heart Shaped World, SFD = SanFrancisco Days, FB = Forever Blue, SotD= Speak of the Devil, BS= Baja Sessions, ToT= Think of Tomorrow (cd single), ST= Soundtrack)

wicked game - HSW
baby did a bad bad thing - FB
you owe me some kind of love - CI
Black Flowers - SotD
Two Hearts - SFD
Speak of the Devil - SoTD
Go Walking down there - FB
Somebody's Crying - FB
Goin' Nowhere - FB
Can't Do A Thing (to Stop Me) - SFD
I'm not sleepy - SoTD
Wrong To Love You - HSW
Walk Slow - SOTD
Round N' Round - SFD
Blue Hotel - CI
Cryin' - CI
You Took My Heart - CI
Voodoo - CI
Western Stars - S
Tears - S
So Lovely Is The Night - ToT
Sweet Leilani - BS
Return To Me - BS
Diddley Daddy - HSW

painted hills

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005
painted hills

I wanted to test and see if this bigger size picture will fit on the page.

Linky Links

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005
So, here's a collection of random links that I currently am digging. Some I have added to the sidebar, for some it is too soon to make that sort of commitment, and some are ephemeral pleasures:

1. The Will To Rock aka OK Go's blog - not to be confused with their Official Site. Now that they are not on tour, I am sure the blog will be updated less frequently - but it is totally worth it to go back and read the archives. I know it is all marketing blah blah blah, but they are funny and charming. Their 3 Song EP is available on the iTunes Music store, and is totally worth it for the two songs from the new album ( Oh No due in stores at the end of August) - PLUS a rockin' cover of the Cure's The Lovecats. It is not a slavish cover, but is definitely true to the spirit of the original, which I, personally, think is the best way to go.

2. mod's hair/hairstyles This is a japanese site with LOTS of pictures of haircuts! Since I have to get a new picture for my driver's license this week, I am motivated to find a good picture for a cut. This site had some great ones - the models look like real girls on the street with not-perfect shellacked Product Head, which is nice. Plus the pics were easy to download and print out for taking to the salon. Yay!

3. Sometimes you just need to look at something beautiful. I recommend these flickr-based photoblogs: Green Is Beautiful, from the flickr color-group of the same name, and the wonderfulCatchy Colors.

4. The Number One Songs In Heaven is an amazing Mp3 blog focusing on old soul, funk, and dance music. I have found so many new to me songs, and my special favorite - fantastic forgotten songs by familiar artists. Every Friday is Boogie Friday- well worth visiting often.

5. Between desktop pictures for your computer? Take a gander at Veer. They are a design firm that have lots of free to use designs that are fun and interesting. I first heard about them because they were kind enough to host the fantastic animated video for Junior Senior's move your feet song. If you're not sure you want to go watch it (requires quicktime), let me assure you that there IS an evil squirrel featured.

Now May You Weep

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Monday, July 11, 2005
by Deborah Crombie #22

Another solid Gemma James/ Duncan Kincaid mystery. I found the Scotland setting and the characters interesting, but found the actual resolution of the crime to be a little thin. I usually don't read these for the resolution anyway, so that wasn't a huge disapointment. My favorite Crombie was one before she made Gemma and Duncan into a romantic pair. I see why she felt like she had to do it, but I liked the romantic tension in their working environment better than domestic tension. I missed a couple of novels though, so I am not operating with all the information. Perhaps if I had read the two I skipped, it would all be chocolates and kittens. (doubtful).
She also used the "flashback at the start of every chapter" device, which I HATE. Flashbacks are so often The DEVIL, and I was shaking my fist at these right up until the reveal at the end. And the reveal was a lame as well. I am probably being too hard on it - Crombie is really good at what she does - this particular one had a couple of my personal Don't Love qualities in it, however.


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Monday, July 11, 2005
When did I turn into such a photo-phobe? I just found a bunch of photo albums from the past, and while I would never say posing for pictures was my most favorite activity, I didn't run from every camera pointed in my direction like I have found myself doing recently. And, as everyone knows, when you try to AVOID photos... well, when you get caught, those are never very good and it just reinforces the whole photo avoidance deal. So stupid! Like most of my neuroses, it is just textbook lame. In fact, I bet in the Psychology 101 textbook next to LAME there is a really awkward picture of me where I look slightly bilious and a little crazy around the eyes.

I was discussing this with my sister the other day, and I realized that it is all part of some perverse negative self-image I have. Intellectually, I know that I do not cause humans to recoil with the hideousness of my visage, yet this is the message my lizard-brain sends to the rest of me. Likewise looking for a job (why would anyone hire such an obvious incompetent?), meeting new people (you are obviously insane, they are happier without you), etc. etc. Where is that switch? I need to find it and yank the wires from the wall. In an effort to re-wire my brain, I have been finding pictures of myself and posting them for friends and family on flickr. It's kind of soothing, in a way. Plus it is reminding me what awesome friends I have been lucky enough to make in my life thus far! Even when they made me wear really hideous bridesmaid dresses. (my family, it should go without saying, is awesome)

Lest anyone think I am getting all birthday "what could have been" maudlin, let me reassure you. I am having birthday State of Jen thoughts -this is normal. The good news is I don't think I'm entirely a lost cause - I just have a lot of stuff to do, (including getting a new driver's license photo! haircut-ahoy!) but it is doable. A challenge, but possible!

Mérida Bridge

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Mérida Bridge
Originally uploaded by laurenz.
So pretty, so purple.

Summer Shimmer 2

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Thursday, July 07, 2005
Part 2 of last summer's mix! Summer Shimmer 2 comes largely from movie soundtracks, excellent mp3 blogs, and my friend Blondie's Hit's of the 60's and 70's, that she ordered off of the television. Writing this up, I realized that this mix has a lot of British singers on it- I'm not sure what that means, except that it's possible I think everyone should dress like an extra in an Austin Powers movie.

1. All For Swinging You Around - New Pornographers- This song sounds so happy! The video, which I think may still be available on the matador site, featured a jumping on the bed pillow-fight, which then turned into a big synchronized dance in a school gymnasium. It makes me feel like I am having a jumping on the bed pillow fight just by listening to it, and you can't really ask more from a song. all for swinging you around/ and off your feet, all the love you found/ spinning 'round
2. Finally Woken - Jem - Jem is the Dido of the aughties. I don't even mean that as a bad thing. This song is kind of the thematic answer to "Lull" on the first disc. You see I've finally woken/ from a long sleep, I'm ready to jump/ to make that blind leap/ coz I now believe, I have the power in me/ I've got the faith baby, I can truly be free. Cheesy? maybe, but I like it anyway. Plus there are ocean sounds which are very summery.
3. My Beloved Monsters - Eels - this is from, yes, the Shreck soundtrack. I love the dissonance in the middle, but my favorite thing about this song is warbling along with my beloved monster and me/ we go everywhere together...she will always be the only thing/ that comes between me and the awful sting/ that comes from living in a world that's so damn.... mean Plus it has what I am now coming to realize = summer guitars in my head. and some nice lalala's at the very end.
4. The Tide Is High - Blondie Steel drum. Blondie. Horns. It reminds me of Florida, but I'm sure that is just because that's where I heard it first. The tide is high, but I'm holding on/ I'm gonna be your number one. There's not much else to say since I'm sure everyone knows what it sounds like and also knows it should absolutely be here.
5. London Is The Place For Me - Lord Kitchener - This has an amazing clarinet. You read it right - CLARINET! This would be a good one for dancing in an abandoned ballroom in a seaside resort town that is in decline. If you must know. London is the place for me/ London, this lovely city/ You can go to France or America/ India, Asia or Australia/ But you must come to London City I suspect there is some kind of larger meaning going on here (possibly about caribbean diaspora) but the song is so jaunty and clarinetific, that even without knowing, it is FANTASTIC. A little googling has revealed that Lord Kitchener was one of the premier Trinidadian calypso singers of his time.
6. Sunflower -The Springfields - This was one from an MP3 blog. I think this song was from the 80's - but it sounds very 60's to me. It is all very psychedelic guitar and jingle jangle sunshine chorus, so of course I dig it. In the summer/the sun shines on me all day. It looks a little simplistic reading the lyrics, but it sounds like walking on warm sand in bare feet feels. (hint: GOOD)
7. Crimson and Clover - Tommy James & The Shondells- This song sounds like the heat rising off the pavement to me - that whatever it is they do in this song, they do like nobody else. Everything is held in check and just builds and builds so when it's time to do the go-go cage dance at the the guitar break, everyone should be ready.
8. I Touch Myself - Divinyls cover by The Scala Choir - you really haven't heard this song until you've heard a girl's choir sing it. If you thought it was embarrassing to sing along with before, just you wait!
9. Closet Romantic - Damon Albarn - aaaaah! this song sounds like what I imagine a really cheesy game show theme in Britain in say, the early 70's would sound like. lots of organ, a programmed drum, and some laaaaaaaaaaa, laa laa's thrown in after the 1:30 mark. And then - my favorite part - he starts listing off James Bond movies! it's brilliant, really. Dr. No, From Russia with Love, You Only Live Twice, Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever, Thunderball, Never Say Never Again
10. Humble Bee - John Wesley Harding This is the bee counterpart to Wild Honey on the first disc! As established there - bees = summer. I really like this song - it highlights the things I like best about JWH - clever, lovelorn (but not bitter - although JWH does bitter well too) lyrics with a singalongable chorus and a jaunty tune. This is the sting, I still want everything/ here is the twist, you're on my list/ and here's what I mean, you're still the queen/ and I want you, honey. I want you. sigh.
11. Norwegian Wood (this Bird Has Flown) - Cornershop - Norwegian Wood in Hindi! it had to be done, and they've done it marvelously. The exact same guitar and sitar as the original (which I love,riddle lyrics and all) and then out comes something that sounds right, but is not what I was expecting - the best kind of surprise.
12. River, Sea, Ocean - Badly Drawn Boy - this is a really pretty shimmery summery sounding pop song. I think it is kind of funny that the Damon Gough looks/acts like such a badboy/jackass, but writes these beautiful symphonic pop songs. It's true! ogres have layers, just like Shreck said.
13. Staying Alive - Wyclef Jean - this is pretty much what you might expect from Wyclef doing a Bee Gee's song. It keeps most of the good parts of the original (the crazy bass line, some high-singing aliiiiiiiiive's), and adds a fresh touch with the rap over the top of it. The thing that mystifies me is why eating mangos in Trinidad with attorneys is something to be especially envied? I mean, mangos and Trinidad I get, but with lawyers? Why, Wyclef? Why? But mangos are one of the summer's superfoods (along with watermelon, popsicles, fresh tomatoes, basil, mint iced tea, and some other things I am forgetting)
14. Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys - I don't really need to say anything about this because it is the Ultimate Summer Song. Overuse in advertising aside, this is still AMAZING! Actually, this is the reason I needed Vol. 2 of the Summer Mix - the friend who had this on CD (I did not, how sad is that?), didn't get it to me until vol. 1 was already done. And I had to have it. gotta keep those love good vibrations happenin' with her
15. Terrible Vision - Rhett Miller Rhett Miller - sigh. You've got terrible vision, if you don't see/ that I'm in love with you, how that means everything. To read it - it looks stupid. But to hear it is to swoon! This is from his solo record (without the Old 97's), and I would say he is one of the best songwriters of male heartache/vulnerability that I've heard. I really like the production on this song/album too. It sounds different than the Old 97's stuff (which I love), but different in a way I also like.
16. Four Seasons In One Day - Crowded House There are great harmonies and slightly disturbing lyrics, as is often the case with Crowded House. And then there is the brush (?) on the drums which sounds like summer rain. Four seasons in one day/ lying in the depths of your imagination/ worlds above and worlds below/ the sun shines on the black clouds hanging over the domain
17. You Showed Me - The Lightning Seeds - this is a remake of a 60's song from the Austin Powers soundtrack. I love this version - there are lots of bloops and beeps in the background and more slinky sliding around than the original. Actually, I just heard the original while shopping the other day, and I can now say that I definitely prefer this version. There's a la la la verse and lots of layered psychedelic-summer of love sounds. You, showed me how you do, exactly what you do/ how I fell in love with you/ oh, it's true/ oh, I love you.
18. September Gurls - Big Star - September counts as summer, at least usually it does in these parts. Plus, it is a great song - it has that jangley guitar that sounds uniquely summer to me. December boys got it bad
19. Red Right Ankle - The Decemberists - this song is beautiful, and one of my favorite Decemberist tracks despite the lack of gin-running uncles, whales, legionnaires, dead babies and whatnot. (ok, it does have a gypsy uncle, but he is sort of beside the point.) This sounds like a song written for a particular person, which by virtue of its specificity somehow becomes more universal. I don't know - I just really like it. this is the story of the boys who loved you/ who loved you now and loved you then/ some were sweet and some were cold and snubbed you/ and some just laid around in bed/ some had crumbled you straight to your knees/ did it cruel, did it tenderly/ some crawled into your heart/ to rend your ventricles apart/ this is the story of the boys who loved you/ this is the story of your red right ankle.
20. Teenager - Camera Obscura - this is so great! I think this came from the artist's website - I need to know if the rest of their stuff sounds like this or not. Girl singer, with a great background sound that is probably a singer, but COULD BE a singing saw. Singing saw!!! Lots of texture in a nice simple song. you're not a teenager/ so don't act like one/ sure she's a heartbreaker/ does she have one?
21. Wanderlust - the Delays - Steel drum and one of the highest-singing men in the history of pop music. I am constantly having an argument with my sister where she says "it's not even a dude!" and I fall for it every time saying "YES IT IS, SHUT UP!" This whole album (Faded Seaside Glamour) is a very summer-friendly, lovely pop confection. I would have never even heard of them if it weren't for mp3 blogs.
22. The Wheel And The Maypole - XTC - XTC do love their barely double entendres, don't they? I've got the plow if you've got the furrow/ I've got the rabbit if you've his burrow home/ I've got the pen if you've got the paper/ time is but play and I'll see you and the wheel turn This album (Wasp Star: apple venus vol.2) and Skylarking in particular show a real sense of the cycle of life/seasons. Earthy, but knocking the world off of its axis at the same time. I don't know of any other pop group singing songs about maypoles or bonfires - but that's OK since XTC do such a great job of it. Maypole, maypole, maypole/ you spun me round and knocked me off my axis mundi/ maypole, maypole, maypole/ the ties that bind you will unwind to free me one day. Anyway, this is a bit longer, and jaunty and full of life, so it seemed like a good ender.

testing (photo)

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Monday, July 04, 2005
OK, I am going to test the photo thing. I have to say this is attempt no. 2, as the first one crashed my browser. But that browser is oldish, so I am trying again on firefox. What I wish blogger would add is a way of tagging entries so I could find all of my book posts, music posts, navel-gazing whine-fest posts, etc. at the touch of a button. Maybe it is in the works. Livejournal has it (for free), and I want it (for free)!

edit: and obviously the picture thing didn't work for me! I guess it is just flickr for me for now. It's ok - flickr is great.

Time Off For Good Behavior

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Sunday, July 03, 2005
by Lani Diane Rich (#21)

First, some background: I saw Lani Diane Rich at a book reading with Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo. They were both charming and funny - so I was predisposed to like them both. I've already talked about Baty's book somewhere on this blog. (here.).

Rich was at the reading because she had used Nano as a springboard to publication - she wrote the first draft in 25 days and spent the following year lengthening and polishing her work. Then she found an agent and got it published! Good for her, and I mean that sincerely. She was on my mind during one of my library rambles and I found her book on the shelf. A Sign!

I read it, and I've got to say I wasn't crazy about it, which surprised me. I didn't like the heroine for the first 100 pages of the book (and for a first-person narrator, that's a LONG TIME),

Why didn't I like this book very much? I didn't hate it by any means, but when the heroine entered a coma on page 6, I was thinking oh, thank god. Maybe her cousin/friend/whoever will be less of a pain in the ass. Not that heroines should be sweet and good and seeking to be loved by all - I like a snarky, wiseass, screwup first-person narrator as much as the next person. For example - Sparkle Hayter's Robin Hudson is just such a creature, and she is fantastic.

Something about Wanda Lane just did not click with me - I could empathize that she had screwed up her life AND been screwed over by life, but was trying to work her way out of it. I respect that - I just didn't like Wanda. I liked most of the other characters (although one of my major quibbles about how her insta-best friend is introduced. That newspaper ad thing was LAME). I don't think that the romantic climax was earned at all - she spent 7/8ths of the book running away from the romantic interest - again, that's fine, but don't ask me to buy the quick resolve at the end. bleh. I'm not explaining this at all well. One of my other problems was what seemed like the constant invocation of Walmart. Why? Why? Why Walmart? I mean, I get it - lots of people shop there, but why mention it so many times? Isn't "the store" sufficient? I think I may be making Walmart my scapegoat here.

Despite not really liking the main character, by the last 1/3 - 1/4 of the book, the story really started chugging along and I was turning pages like nobody's business. I understand she has a new book out and I will give it a read. Maybe Wanda and I were just incompatible.


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Saturday, July 02, 2005
by Meg Cabot #20

This is number six in Meg Cabot's Mediator series. I love Meg Cabot's YA books - particularly this series and the 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU books. (pay no attention to the terrible Lifetime Television series made out of the latter - it is just the sort of thing that one of Cabot's characters would make fun of.) Both of these series were originally written under the pseudonym Jenny Carroll that the very (VERY!) prolific Cabot used for her supernatural novels. Now that she has lots of recognition from her Princess Diaries books, I am guessing her publishers decided they could make even MORE money by using her real name. Whatever- that is not really important. This book has been a couple years coming. I keep being afraid that she will quit these entirely to write Princess Diaries XXVI: Princess Gets a Haircut, but fortunately for me that hasn't happened yet.

The Mediator books focus on Suze Simon, a 16 year old transplanted New Yorker who now lives in Carmel, CA with her mother and step-family. Suze is a mediator - someone who can communicate with the dead and help them to "the other side." This, as one might imagine, causes any amount of trouble for a teenager. Of all of Cabot's books, the Mediator ones remind me the most of Buffy The Vampire Slayer (in a good way). We have the super-powered teen who can't tell her family (Suze/Buffy), the mentor who knows her secret (Father Dom, Giles), her Scooby pals (CeeCee and Adam/ Willow and Xander), and her otherworldly boyfriend (Jesse/ Angel). It all maps pretty well in my opinion. BUT, since Buffy is no longer on the air, and maybe because it is good to move on and stay fresh, there was a new wrinkle introduced in the last Mediator book (#5) - another mediator who may or may not be working on the same side as Suze. And in Twilight, Cabot changes it up even more, making this either a transition book (my hope) or a good place to leave it (NOOOOOOO!). I don't want to give too much away. At first I was sorry that there wasn't more of Cee Cee, Adam, and Suze's step-brothers. They were present but not as involved in the action as usual. But that gave me time to learn about some new characters that I am sure will be featured in the future. She certainly kept me going and actually tied it up in a way that felt both surprising and inevitable. I love it when that happens, and I hope she continues on with these characters.

another day, another template

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Friday, July 01, 2005
I was not particularly happy with the last template, and almost went running back to the pink one. But I thought to myself, surely there is something out there that will be just right? I'm not sure that this is it, but I think it might be. For now, anyway. I kind of miss the listing on the side of the 10 most recent posts, so I may see if I can get that in there somehow.
Template comes courtesy of There are only a few, but I think they are choice. It took a lot of willpower not to choose the purple and orange one. Maybe in August when I can reasonably say I have given the simple but stylish look a chance.