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caution, caution, caution, to prevent electric shock

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Thursday, September 29, 2005
I am going to replace my hard drive tomorrow. (later today, I guess if you want to get technical about it) Wish me luck! I am kind of nervous, but I think I can do it. I hope I don't electrocute myself or fry my computer. But, I have found excellent detailed directions here, I just bought a set of appropriate screwdrivers and a new hard drive, so I should be set. I just need more power under the keyboard so I am not always having to shift things off in order to keep things running smoothly.

Anyway - the title to this post comes from the "iPod reads minds" file and the wonderful song "Epitaph for my Heart" by the Magnetic Fields from the magnificent 69 Love Songs. If it has been a while since you listened to it, you should get it out today!

fizzy and funny and fine

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005
I don't know what it is - the sunny day, the indictments, the phase of the moon or WHAT - but I have that wonderful Anything Is Possible feeling, and I LIKE IT.
If I were in a car, I would be driving too fast, with the music too loud. Maybe playing Crash the Party from OK Go's Oh No. This chorus is fun to sing along with:

Oh, girl, let's crash a party
el dorado on the lawn
(hey! hey! hey!)
Let's burn holes in the carpets
take your shot at dancing on the tables all night long

I would go for a drive right now if I weren't waiting for FedEx. Maybe I will commandeer the FedEx truck. Maybe I will put on a disguise. Maybe I speak only in fractured Spanish the rest of the day. Maybe I will write anonymous letters. Maybe I won't, but maybe I will.

Lady Be Good

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips #33

I read this because Jennifer Cruise was recently talking about SEP in her blog, and I had random good feelings about the author. Plus, she has a reputation for being able to write comedy, and I like comedy. BUT...
When reading romance novels a person generally starts with a certain suspension of disbelief. If one is literal-minded and constantly calculating the odds of what is presented on the page actually happening, romance (along with lots of other genres) probably isn't on one's reading list anyway. This one crossed the improbability line so many times it even made me (and I swear except for the redolent thing I am really forgiving) say 'oh good lord' at least once.
Pros: funny; likable secondary characters; mostly likable primary characters; distinct sense of place.
Cons: convoluted plot to throw them together (even within the genre this was a humdinger involving Henry VIII lookalikes, English school marms, tattoos, television hosts, professional golfers who claim they are gigolos, the PGA, etc.); and GOLF. I find golf one of the most boring things in the world, and would have forgiven, nay, embraced, a clown-car full of Henry VII lookalikes if it meant less golf.
This book was good enough for me to search out for some of her others, but it wasn't the sexy funny romp I was expecting - it TOTALLY fell apart in the last third. Characters who must have had a book of their own about a decade ago swooped in and took over (despite attempts to weave them in throughout - I didn't know who they were, nor did I really care) I didn't mind when they were just background, but when they became necessary for the denouement I was not thrilled. Oh yeah! That's another reason why the last 1/3 sucked - the sudden switch from funny farce to "Let's resolve the hero's Secret Pain and feelings about being abandoned by his father." I'm thinking - let's not! Romance is big with trends, maybe this came out during the amateur psychology phase.
That sounds all negative, and I don't feel all negative about this book. Just too much golf and Dr. Phil-style psychology for me, is all.

it seems obvious: volcanos are dangerous

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Monday, September 26, 2005
mount st. helens
mountain of curses

long story short: went to Mount St. Helens with uncle, mom and sister on Saturday. Mom tripped in a hole in some pavement and dislocated her right shoulder and bruised the hell out of her left foot.

moral of the story: if one visits Mount St. Helens, one should keep (AT LEAST) one eye on the mountain all the times since it has obviously developed a taste for human flesh. But don't forget to look at the sidewalk too.

Magic For Beginners

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Monday, September 26, 2005
by Kelly Link #32

I can't say much about this collection that hasn't been said better elsewhere (like maybe this review), so I won't say much. I will say that I loves me some Kelly Link. She takes familiar things and turns them upside down and inside out, then sprinkles them with zombie sauce, folds them into origami and returns them to you - different from how you ever imagined, yet unmistakably familiar. My favorite stories in this collection were probably The Faery Handbag, The Hortlak, Magic For Beginners, and Some Zombie Contingency Plans - but I don't think there was a bad story in the whole book. The quote from Alice Sebold on the front really says it all, "These stories will come alive, put on zoot suits, and wrestle you to the ground."

wall-thumpers and nanos (both kinds)

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Friday, September 23, 2005
Wall thumpers: I think I got this phrase from either/both the Smart Bitches, or the Jennifer Crusie forum - basically, a book that for whatever reason makes you throw it against the wall. This week's nomination:

The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey - which promised on the front to be "Witty .... a perfectly realized murder mystery," and on the back the NYTBR promised me that it was a "bravura performance...slyly paced, marbled with surprise...". Sounds good, right? These blurbs piqued my interest since I used to read mysteries all the time, but have become less and less inclined to care about the procedural aspects (maybe because there are so many cop shows on TV?), and more interested in really great characters. I have found fewer of these than I would like - but I know I'll never find them if I don't start looking around. Anyway - this was moving along kind of slow, but I really wanted to give it a shot. It had a Jane Austen slant that I thought could be interesting so I was forgiving of huge expositional information dumps which generally bug the hell out of me - (the history of forensic medicine in Britain is somehwere in the first 50 pages). Besides, why would the NYTBR lie to me? The author inserted several chapters of first person "here's my side of the story" narration from the victim's husband into the rest, which is third person from the POV of the detective. Fine. It can work, but is tricky - at least in this reader's experience. HOWEVER, you lose me when you have this guy who is supposed to be rescuing a boy from drowning in the river - he is standing in the MIDDLE OF THE GODDAMNED RIVER, mind you - and the conversation goes like this:

I shouted at them, 'Can you see him?'
'He keeps going under,' one called out in an accent redolent of Latin primers and striped schoolcaps.

Redolent?!?! Those are his thoughts in the middle of a rescue? My eyes rolled so hard they fell out of my head and rolled all around the room which was redolent of steamed brains as wisps of white smoke escaped my ears. (hey, maybe that's how I scratched my eye.) I'm 98 pages into it and I just don't think I can make myself go any further, unless someone can tell me that it gets a lot better. Enh. I know I am probably overreacting, but it seems like as good a reason as any to abandon this one. I will be narrowing my eyes at the NYTBR for a while.

I also had to stop reading From Hell by Alan Moore - it was due back at the library and I couldn't renew - but had all I could take for now about Masonic mysticism and Jack the Ripper gory murders. It is b/w line art (no color), but even so - really gruesome. It was good - I just couldn't take it all in one dose. I'll probably check it out again and finish it later. Someday.

Nanos - first the hard one - NaNoWriMo. I can't decide if I will participate this year or not. The first year it was really a test to see if I could do it. And I did! The second year I already knew that it was at least physically possible for me to do it, and I completed it, but when it was over I still hadn't finished re-writing my first story, and now a year later I haven't even opened the file on the second one. The thing I love about nano is that I am doing this insane thing with thousands of other people at the same time - there is a sense of camaraderie in what is generally a pretty solitary pursuit. PLUS, they have a little thing where you can input how many words you've done and make a little graph, although you can now get those without nano. I could take my first year's project and work on it really hard during the month of November and try to finish, but that's not what nano is really about - it's about making something new just because you can. I go back and forth. The deadline is what I need to kick my ass into gear - why can't I be one of those people who accomplishes things effortlessly instead of having to browbeat myself into it? whine, whine, whine. Blergh.

But then there is the easy nano: how cute is the new iPod Nano ? SO CUTE! But my essential thriftiness tells me that for 50 dollars more I could have one that had 20GB of HD space instead of 4. It's not like the full-sized iPod is this heavy, brick-like burden. However, if space was really at a premium (it is so tiny!), and I wasn't sure that I would burn through 4GB in no time at all, or if I had to have it in black I would jump on it. According to this stress test, I could jump on it a lot, maybe even from a trampoline and do no harm. It isn't often that something combines function and beauty so well. I received my iPod 3 years ago for my birthday, and it has brought me joy almost every single day.

Jude/ Brandi Carlile

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Thursday, September 22, 2005
Note to my future self: Jen - next time you decide to write up a show, don't wait so long. You forget things and then have to make shit up.

Friday September 9th, 2005 - Aladdin Theater.

Sometimes I am a jackass. As revelations go, it's not much of one, but I am reminded of it because not that long ago I was feeling all 'aww, poor Jude! his show will be cheap and only me, my sister, and 100 other KINK fm listeners will be there. I hope he doesn't get too despondent.' First of all - the show was priced right at my imaginary concert maginot line: 15 dollars. Secondly, it was PACKED. They even had seats filling up the area between the normal first row and right up at the edge of the stage. (to keep people from standing/ dancing? I don't know). At first (because, remember - I am a clueless jackass) I thought maybe it was to accommodate opening act Brandi Carlile's huge family. Does she have a huge family that happens to live in pdx even though she lives in Seattle? I don't know - but this was my first thought. Occam's razor was in my other purse, I guess. As the evening wore on, it became apparent that we were but visitors to Planet Jude. The natives (Judeites? Judeans? Judeitarians?) knew all the song titles and hooted their requests at the stage. I knew Jude could sing and write songs like nobody's business, but I didn't know that he could handle a genteelly unruly audience from the microphone without breaking a sweat. But he did! This is no mean feat when song titles being yelled at the stage include Black Superman and Gay Cowboy (he performed the latter which was hilariously wonderful) and constant loud requests from some drunk guy who sounded like he had his fist in his mouth. Jude was affable and interactive, taking the measure and mood of the room with scary accuracy. Jude can think on his feet. He's the guy that you would want to stand behind as he verbally whips the flesh off of some mouthy dumbass bully and point and yell, "Yeah, what he said!" until it turns out that the bully who you thought was standing up was sitting down and is actually 10 feet tall and has clubs for hands and now you're in trouble. Thanks a lot, Jude.

He played with just a drummer and a bass player, but they all worked together wonderfully. It was an interesting dynamic - his bass player was pretty young, his drummer was older, and there was Jude in the middle. It's hard to get a bead on him - even on his CDs. Folk? Pop? Rock? All Music calls him Pop Undergound, but what does that even mean? Is he the most sincere, sweet-hearted singer in the world (say, the fantastic cover of Everything I Own, or I Do)? Is he a jokey affable lover-man (Sit Ups)? Is he way creepy but strangely sexy (Indian Lover)? Is he an articulate angel-voiced jerk (The Asshole Song)? Is he pissed off, but sooo catchy (Rick James, Out of L.A.)? Is he a mind-reader (insert song of your choice here)? He's all that and huge in France! I only have two of his CDs (No One is Really Beautiful, and The King of Yesterday) - both of which I would wholeheartedly recommend. Although you might wait for KoY - it looks like he might be re-releasing it with some extra songs (including one called Cuba where he talks about what he would like to do to certain record label executives. As someone who often gets the urge to kick people in the head, it resonated). Anyway - after this show I knew that I would have to fill in the rest of the catalog that I was missing.

His website has some samples and a few mp3's if you want to get a little taste of it. He also writes on there pretty often and gives glimpses of what it is like to be a musician at his level (and in the most recent entry talks about a PLATE SPINNER, which I love because nobody talks about plate spinners any more). There are also some video (I recommend the one in the upper left corner of the video section on the media page, which is long-ish, but it has a nice sort of medley/montage and proof of the huge in France thing).

Brandi Carlile was the opening act, and I thought she was OK, but she did not rock my world. I think she also opened up for Chris Isaak in July. Honestly, I found her songs to be very samey and the whole set-up/sound felt very mid-90's Sincere Girl With Guitar to me. I looked on AMG to see if I was crazy, and according to them, I am. They gave her album 4.5 stars out of 5 and thought it sounded fresh and fabulous. (they had no information at all on Jude beyond 2001, which just seems wrong) I think she might be just the sort of singer-songwriter that doesn't grab me right away if ever. There's nothing for me to grab on to - there were no hooks, no 'ooh, yeah! I like this part," or "did he just say obstreperous?" moments, which I sort of rely on the first few times I hear anything. To be fair - I definitely thought while I was listening to her and her band that these songs would be somebody's favorite song ever, but never mine. She seemed really nice, but I kept thinking that someone like Jill Sobule would be a better match with Jude.

I would definitely go to another show when he comes back to Portland! Maybe I can get my Judeitarian paperwork underway in the mean time.


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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I love trees. I particularly like this grouping of trees at Laurelhurst Park which looks like circus acrobats who might have double-crossed the wrong wizard. But I digress (as if I ever do anything else) - I just want to make a note that I am working on a concert review; I finished my freelance project; my headache is still gone (hooray!), but I scratched my right eye doing something and it hurts like a bitch, but is still better than the evil headache. Also, Andrew Bird is really good and more people should sing his praises and extol his virtues. (of his old stuff (which is very old-timey), I think Thrills is better than Oh, the Grandeur, but maybe that is just because I know it better.)

monday's all right (so far)

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Monday, September 19, 2005
Hooray! Monday inventory, thus far:
headache - GONE
the sun - HAS RETURNED
stationery stuff: ALMOST DONE (and I like it!)

time for the random:
In honor of International Talk Like A Pirate Day - I will list the names of women pirates as found in the classic history tome Booty: Girl Pirates on the High Seas by Sara Lorimer:
Sadie the Goat, Cheng I Sao, Alfhild, Rachel Wall, Mary Read, Anne Bonny, Charlotte de Berry, Lai Choi San, Lady Mary Killigrew, Grace O'Malley (Granuaile), Fanny Campbell, and the Anonymous Indian Pirate Queen.

...and then two 'ten in a row' iPod lists -the first one was from about a week ago (I think - I found it on my desktop), and the second was from this morning. Sometimes they come out in perfect progressions or tell a little story, sometimes (like these times) it is just random, random, random - but I love it.

1. no fun - The stooges
2. my evil twin - TMBG
3. Stuck on You - Elvis
4. Chung - Bunky
5. little lighthouse - dukes of stratosphear
6. just one of those things - bryan ferry
7. Shortly before the end - ok go
8. Winter at night - I am robot and proud
9. Sleeper Awake - John Wesley Harding
10. Miss teen wordpower - The New Pornographers

1. The Statue Got Me High - TMBG
2. Float On - Ben Lee
3. Bird on the Wire - Leonard Cohen
4. Trou Macacq - Squirrel Nut Zippers
5. Personality Crisis - Teenage Fanclub & Donna Matthews
6. My Iron Lung - Radiohead
7. Punch Drunk - Combustible Edison
8. Vote, Baby, Vote - Deee-Lite
9. Waiting for My Lucky Day - Chris Isaak
10. Mostly Untitled - Oliver Ignatius

Cape Foulweather

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Sunday, September 18, 2005
cape foulweather

Cape Foulweather is one of the best place names ever. It was named by Captain James Cook (he did get around) who was met by a horrible storm while exploring what is now the Oregon coast. Or so the story goes. I have a headache. I have had it for two days. I thought this picture was sort of soothing and restful, although I am sure it would cause CJC a little twitch if he knew where it was taken (and, you know, hadn't been dead for over 300 years).

So - I am calling headache exemption for anything stupid I've said in the last 48 hours, and that definitely counts the book survey below. I like thinking about books and reading and whatnot, but I managed to make myself feel foolish and vaguely illiterate by the time I was done with it - which I am really going to chalk up to the headache because I generally think people should be able to enjoy what they enjoy without feeling guilty or stupid about it. Wow! I must be almost well since I have clearly entered into the maudlin and self-pitying phase of headache recovery. I think a shower and several hours away from the computer are what's called for.

Powellhurst Book Survey

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Friday, September 16, 2005
Here are my answers to a book survey that Martina over at Powellhurst put up.

1. What are you reading now?
I just started The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey

2. What is the last book that you bought?
Funeral Music by Morag Joss. I haven't bought many new books lately (due to excellent library, cheapness, and not enough shelves) but this one looked good (cello player in Bath keeps tripping over bodies, as far as I can tell) and I had a vintage B&N gift card that needed to be used.

3. What are your favorite books?
I think this is a hard question, but I'll give it a shot - I was going to be a smartass and say 'ones with words in them' but I read a fantastic graphic novel last year called Blood Song that had NO WORDS AT ALL. So, there goes that. I like lots of books. This is like making someone pick their favorite child. I would say novels with compelling characters in interesting situations. (hee! I feel like I'm dodging questions like John Roberts in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee)

4. Who are your favorite authors?
Hmmm. Another hard one! I keep feeling like if I answer the question I am somehow slighting another book that I love, but have forgotten about in a fit of temporary insanity. So I will cop out. Some of my favorite authors include... Kelly Link, Michael Chabon, Elizabeth Peters, Jane Austen, Lindsey Davis, Haruki Murakami, Dodie Smith (although I've only read one - it is excellent), Neil Gaiman, Reginald Hill, Martha Grimes (for melrose plant and the hotel paradise books), Nancy Lemann, Meg Cabot in her many guises, Jennifer Crusie, and for the pretentiousness factor: Homer & Herodotus. The Odyssey kicks ass (road trip novel!), and Herodotus was the ancient world's version of The National Enquirer and E!

5. Which genres are your favorites?
This is so nebulous! a lot of my favorites fall under the general heading of "fiction", but I guess this is looking for more specific.. mystery, romance, YA, "fiction", short stories, fantasy (only some - I'm not big on epic Tolkien rip offs, and actually haven't gotten through the Tolkien trilogy all the way), comics (which is more of a format than a genre, but there you go), poetry (although I feel I have really limited exposure). Basically, I like anything with a weird little twist, but not one that I can see coming from a thousand miles away, unless I don't care if I see it coming.

6. What books did you think you would hate but loved?
Hmmmm. I can't really think of any that fall into that category - but I have something similar. A friend recommended the Jack Finney books to me - I am picky in a book-slutty kind of way and if people don't know what kinds of things I like to read it can lead to some awkward recommendations. (Nicholas Sparks needn't wait for any of my dollars to land in his bank account, for example). Anyway - these were recommended by my friend Garri, and I was initially dubious but I LOVED THEM! I could barely breathe while I was reading them. I will always be thankful that they crossed my path.

7. What book or books did you think you would love, but ended up not liking? _ I wouldn't say dislike is quite the right word, but I really love the whole idea and world of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books, but the execution falls a little flat for me. I want them to be better (for me) than they are. And speaking of Fforde's - Katie Fforde wrote a couple of really fun romances (yet they were shelved with straight fiction), but then her heroines got really dopey, drippy and helpless and I wanted to kick them all in the head, so I stopped reading her.

8. What kind of books do you dislike most?
self-help. (in the How To Quit Being So Stupid category - books on helping you figure out how to fix the dryer or build a better sandcastle or write a better novel are fine by me). I really hate the titles of the "X for Dummies" books but I've got to say the one for Excel saved my bacon. Hmmm. They should call them "X for the Curious Yet Uninformed." I think it's catchy! I haven't read a lot in certain areas, but it may just be that I have yet to meet the right book yet, rather than straight-out dislike.

9. Do you mostly read contemporary work, older works or both?
I like to read around, but I would say for the past year I have mostly been reading contemporary fiction. There are some definite eras I plan to visit soon.

10. What are some of the funniest books you've ever read?
Sarah Vowell - I like her dry, personal style; Sparkle Hayter's Robin Hudson mysteries - particularly the early ones; David Sedaris; The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams; Bill Bryson's travel books. I know there are more, but I can't think of them right now

11. What are the most suspenseful books you've ever read?
Oooh - I think Mary Stewart is not as recognized for suspense as she should be - she wrote some FANTASTIC romantic suspense. Seriously. Nine Coaches Waiting was the first of hers that I read. I was pretty young and couldn't stay awake long enough to finish reading it, but couldn't sleep because my heart was pounding. Barbara Michaels writes good suspense, or she did when she was still writing it - but strangely I think some of hers (post-feminist) come off as more dated than Mary Stewart who was writing back in the 50's. But I still love her. Hmmm. I know there are others.

11. Which books were so good that you read them in one sitting?
I don't know - lots. I don't know that it necessarily has to do with quality (for me) as with what mood I'm in when I sit down with it and how page turn-y it is. There are definitely some crappy page-turners out there, and good books that require effort.

12. Which books have impacted you most?
I suck at this quiz! I will just say some stuff and you just promise not to hold me to it if I think of something better, OK? - Johnny Tremain - I know a lot of people hate it, but I think it was one of the early books I read that got me thinking about history as a living thing instead of just dead words. Little Women - my Aunt Patty gave me a copy for our shared birthday after the 70's tv-movie came out. I loved that book and cried when Jo turned Laurie down. Girl Detective novels, the OZ books because my Dad used to let us read the copies that his grandmother had given him as a boy. Ivanhoe - which I initially chose to suck up to my favorite English teacher (Mrs. Hopkins) because everyone else in class was picking the shortest book they could find, but found myself totally immersed in the whole capital R Romance of it all. I don't think I could probably get through it today. The Lais of Marie de France - these blew me away and slot in with my love of off-kilter stories. the Anne of Green Gables stories. Looking back at that list I would say that I was fond of literary drama-queens. I can live with it. Ooh! Also Tom Holt's books about ancient Greece. They are hilarious and sad and just so good.

13. Which books/authors do you consider the most overrated?
Dr. Phil!!! hmmm. In my mind this sort of breaks down in to books that are highly rated by non-readers (I usually find these overrated, but I can't blame them because they have no basis for comparison - if it is the ONLY book you've read in 3 years and you kind of like it, it's almost the best book ever by definition), and books that are highly rated by readers (if there is a certain category of Book Club book that I just can't get into - but that's more of a taste issue I guess). I don't know - I am hopeless at this questionnaire.

14. Which good, but little known book or author would you rescue from obscurity? Dodie Smith - I know the movie to "I Capture the Castle" came out a couple of years ago and should have done the trick - but I think it is a really, REALLY fantastic book and not enough people have read it. She also wrote 101 Dalmations (which I have not read, so I have no opinion on that). ICtC really captures the essence of being a 15 -17 y.o. girl. Her protagonist has a very distinctive (and pleasing to me) voice. Just read it, people!

15. How many books do you generally read at a time?
Usually just one, unless I have a really scary or gory one (generally a graphic novel) that I read in the daylight otherwise I would NEVER SLEEP, EVER. (yes, I am that lame), or if one is horrifically boring and I haven't quite given up on it yet.

16. What ration of fiction to non-fiction do you read?
Hmmm. This year it has been almost exclusively fiction, but I do read some historical biographies, history, travel, memoir, reporting, etc. Just not this year, yet. Oh, damn - that's a lie. I read "What's the Matter with Kansas", but that's all so far. It depressed me.

17. When (if) you read non-fiction, what are your favorite subjects?
Music, history, film (my favorite book to check out of the library when I was about 12 was a giant book on Hollywood Fashions. it must have weighed a million pounds), art, travel, the human brain, anything that sheds light on people and how they operate. You know. Stuff. hand waves

18. Which book that you haven't gotten around to yet do you want to read?
There are so many!! Currently I am feeling the urge to read some Mark Twain (don't ask me why), and I have always wanted to read Trollope, but can never figure out where to start. I have some massive holes in my reading history. Ooh- I've also been wanting to read Murakami's Wind Up Bird Chronicles forever. I've read (and loved) others of his, but this one keeps eluding me. I see it in the store and don't buy it. Maybe I am waiting for just the right copy to fall into my lap. If that's the case, I'm pretty stupid and should just put it on hold at the library (as soon as the hold funciton is operating again, which isn't until the 22nd).

19. What is your earliest memory involving books?
I think any of my earliest memories involve books. My parents were very booky, we didn't have a lot of stuff, but we always had a lot of books. I also have strong memories of going to the library and checking things out and geeking out in the bookstore - but I still do those.

20. What were your favorite books as a child?
I kind of covered this in the influential area - but Trixie Belden was my lord and master for a number of years. I read other mysteries, but she was my favorite. I also loved the Oz books, the Andrew Lang colored Fairy Books, The Little House books, Spotted Boy and the Comanchees (which I recently found out was an Adventist book and almost certainly wouldn't hold up - but it did inspire me to build a teepee out of a garbage bag and some poles in the back yard at a tender age), Anne of Green Gables, Boy of Dahomey, Little Women.

21. Which children's books do you like now?
I like a LOT of YA books - I think there is some fantastic storytelling going on that a lot of people are missing out on because they are 'kids books.' (rec's for contemporary: Meg Cabot's 1-800-Where-R-U series, and also her Mediator series. Rec's for fantasty: Sorcery and Cecilia (regency with magic!!), A College of Magics) I also like fairy tale picture books, Harry Potter, and Lemony Snicket, although I think some of the hype has overcome the books in the latter two. Dear Hollywood - please wait to make the movies until the series is over. Thank you, A Fan

22. What frequently recommended book have you been unable to finish?
My issue is that I am unable to START if it is recommended too much. It just turns me right off and I have to wait until the hype/pressure has gone down or I spend the whole time going 'OH YEAH???' and being very defensive with every freaking word which is not a very smart way to read. Also, Charles Dickens. I can deal with the shorter stuff, but the long stuff gives me the thousand yard stare. maybe I should try again.

23. If someone were to ask you for a book recommendation right now, what would it be?
Ooh! It depends on who it is. I try to tailor my recommendations to the person asking. But some general rec's - Stranger things Happen by Kelly Link, (which is available for FREE download on her website), Sujata Massey's Rei Shimura mysteries (I love stuff set in contemporary Japan and England - two places that usually get the romantic 'historical' treatment but are, in fact, thriving modern cultures), The Ritz of the Bayou by Nancy Lemann (it is about a trial for corruption in N.O.), Wonder Boys (I love that book - the movie's even good), Zorro by Isabel Allende (Zorro! need I say more?), In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson, the Ghost Ballad series by Deborah Grabien - I think you would really like these, Martina. There are ghosts, and english folk ballads and ... MURDER.

24.If you start a book do you have to finish it?
I used to, but now I have gotten to the point where if it just isn't working for me, I put it down and try something else. If I have great pangs of guilt I tell myself that it is 'just for now' and I can always go back to it later.

25. How do you find new authors?
Recommendations, browsing (at the library, bookstore - I just wander around and pick up whatever catches my eye), subscribing to the 'review a day' thing from Powell's (although there will be long periods where I don't read more than the title). I am hopeful that Wordstock will be a continuing source of finding cool books.

five things

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Thursday, September 15, 2005
1. I made jelly today! I think it will even set up, even though I was having Little Women Meg "Boo Hoo my jelly won't jell" March flashes the whole time. The hardest part was juicing the grapes. I know now why they just stomp on them in wine making regions. So much easier.

2. The song The Magic Piper (of Love) by Edwyn Collins is an Austin Powers Soundtrack GEM. bless you iPod

3. Rory, Rory, Rory... you are in for a world of hurt, girl. (aka: Gilmore Girls has started up again - hooray!)

4. Multnomah County library is torturing me. I am sure they don't mean to, but since they are updating their online catalog the whole library system (including all branches) has been closed for THREE DAYS. This may not seem like much, but I have been realizing how often I check online to see if they have stuff. Only 11 more hours to wait. Perhaps I should think of something else. ('s not working)

5.Dress to Empress by OPI is the perfect color for end-of-summer toes. I love the OPI collection names - it's like they go for a 15 martini lunch every time they have a meeting. (which reminds me of Bec telling me about how fabric company X decided to name a faux suede collection "Marquis de Suede." THAT was a hard one to sell with a straight face.)

Rock Show! (2 of 2)

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005
OK Go's big dance number

First a few words on why I like OK Go. I know I already discussed this back in June when I first saw them live, but you know - what's the point of a blog if I can't endlessly dissect what pleases me and what displeases me? I have this whole half-baked analogy about how they are like a friendly tiger. First - striped trousers; second - they are friendly and affable (like a friendly tiger might be), but then a tiger could take your head clean off your shoulders with one bite. You wouldn't expect it, because - hey- friendly tiger, right? OK Go are so likable, and I'll go ahead and say it - adorable - but they rock like a monster! This might be unexpected if you weren't paying attention. Moral of the story: be nice to friendly tigers, but don't forget that they are also powerful wild giant cats who play very loud guitars and have vast wells of rock-star brio.

Back to the show - once the Bobble Head Beatles (aka The Redwalls) finally vacated the stage, the set up for the headliners began. This was well after midnight - OK Go had been scheduled to go on at 11:30. This somewhat stretches my personal acceptable definition of a headliner, but I don't (I'm told) get to decide these things. The stage at Dante's is very small, so there was lots of lifting and shifting equipment from the previous set over the front of the stage, and then through the crowd and cabaret tables out the front door. It looked like there were probably a couple of people there from Dantes, plus the one band guitar guy, and the band themselves decked out in their rock-star dandy suits (I love these!), taping wires down and fiddling with knobs and whatnot. Bec said that she had seen the band wandering around during the previous acts, but I missed out because I was trying to suss out tiny Prince/Dylan Redwall's ensemble.

From the sound check (or whatever you call that thing they do where someone taps on the mic and says 'testing, testing, testing, one two, one two) there were problems with too much feedback in the microphones. As I said earlier - not much of a problem for The Colour, or even The Redwalls - they both employ a blusier, bar-bandier sound. feedback? no feedback? hard to tell. OK Go plays a crisper style of rock. I've read various definitions of their style - but I would have to say classic Power Pop comes the closest in my mind. I mean good old-school Power Pop - loud and melodic - like Cheap Trick, new-wave Pop Rock like The Cars, and a goodly portion of infectious giddy Power Pop like I don't know who. I do know I like it. (they should totally cover Material Issue's Goin' Through Your Purse)

OK Go finally bounded out on stage and started right up with one of their new songs. There was a little bit of band banter with an edge to it, bitching (rightfully) about the microphones. They blasted through songs pretty fast - not many breaks for chit-chat or audience banter like there usually is during a show. I thought at first that they played an abbreviated set list because they were on and off in 45 minutes or less- but maybe they just burned through them really fast. It's not like they have lots of noodly guitar solos (thank god!). It became increasingly apparent that the microphone thing was Not Going Well. They played a cover of the Violent Femmes' Prove My Love, which started off with a bang and then ratcheted up as Damian (lead singer) threw his mic back toward some equipment. He went over and tried everyone's mic, knocking them down or throwing them as they didn't work. He then jumped off of the stage, walked all the way to the back of the club (not that far, really) and then started stalking back toward the front. The rest of the band had their eye on him, but played on. He got to a table in the front jumped up on it, finishing the song by SHOUTING it from the top of the table. It was a great moment in hissy-fit bravado. Then he jumped into the crowd between the table and the stage, which was pretty sparse at this point because a lot of people had gone home (!!!), but they managed not to drop him and before you could spell out man-diva, he's back on the stage. They sang a few more songs and ended with their big choreographed dance routine (which is SO FUN as always). It was a fun and frantic set, but it lacked the chest-bursting exhiliration of what I imagine the Platonic Ideal OK Go concert would have. However, I had a great time and now it gives me a quest - the Perfect Concert (OK Go Division). They tour a lot, so I'll keep going!

McClellan followup

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Ha! McClellan at Home

read this, if you haven't already

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Thursday, September 08, 2005
I have been meaning to mention this piece on Salon by Cintra Wilson: I invaded the White House press corps. If you haven't already read it, do. I found it riveting and fascinating - it is exactly the kind of inside character stuff I love to read. This is a well-written glimpse into the press room, with observations and insight into the various personalities and how they interact on their own turf.

I will be rooting extra hard for NBC's David Gregory in every press conference since he seems most able to get through the implacable wall of deflection that is Scott McClellan. This particular piece dealt with the aftermath of the Plame scandal, but is certainly as relevant as ever in the wake of hurricane Katrina and the media finally getting some spine in the face of the administration's heartless, incompetent response.

Two side notes:

*there has got to be a special place in hell for Karl Rove and his whisper campaigns - this whole "blame game" nonsense has got his nefarious fingerprints all over it.

* I had a visceral dislike of Ari Fleischer (much like his boss whose voice alone makes me instantly aggro). Just the sight of Fleischer made me want to put his egg-shaped head in a giant egg-cup and beat on it with a heavy spoon. But Ari got mad, at least. I don't get McClellan. He is cool as a cucumber. Occasionally he gets ruffled, but mostly he is just able to engage in a giant game of "I know you are but what am I?" or some other juvenile word-torture without breaking a sweat. If it weren't in aid of an administration I find so heinous, I would kind of admire his zen-like detachment.

Rock Show! (1 of 2)

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Thursday, September 08, 2005
the redwalls

First, some statistics
When: September 1st
Where: Dantes
Number in Our Party: Four(Bec, David, Garri, moi)
Time Arrived: 9:30ish
Hand Stamp: spider
Cost: 5 dollars at the door or 6.50 if you bought a ticket

I have been an OK Go fan for a couple of years, but had never seen them in concert before June of this year. Their live show is A LOT OF FUN. Now that the show is over, I wonder how I ever thought I might not go - the hour was late, but once some other people were on board (for the record, David and Garri), it was a no-brainer. Although I did buy tickets ahead of time because it was easier not to weasel out since I'd already spent the money, and also because it made it harder for others to weasel out.

SHOW: We didn't manage the lucky princess parking, but we did get parking that is good enough to be deemed 16th in line for the throne and only have to walk about a block. (and we weren't even in mega-sketchy town, which is around every corner in Old Town). Things were looking good!

First Act: We were on the right hand side of the stage, near where the club has recently punched a hole through the wall to join the lounge and Dante's proper. We are standing by a bunch of equipment, including the redwalls drum kit. Bec took this picture:
drum kit

This group, who I think is called Climber (warning - annoying flash-heavy site) is playing a pleasing piano-pop coldplay/radiohead-style. It is nice, but doesn't really get my heart pumping. Maybe if we had heard the whole set it would be different - they were definitely in the last half when we got there, though. Climber is another band that could be put on an OC soundtrack without raising any eyebrows. 2 things I notice before giving my attention to the club at large: the guitar player is very tall (he later came and stood sort of in front of me, so I can verify this), the singer/keyboard player was wearing a trucker hat and a t-shirt. I can only see his back. Fashions will soon escalate dramatically with successive bands. I ask Bec if she thinks that Dante's has access to the Shanghai Tunnels. I totally think they must because of the brick interior and the location of the club (third and Burnside, right near the river for your kidnapping pleasure and convenience). She agrees, I am vindicated. Everything's coming up Milhouse!

Second Act: The Colour: OK - these guys are working the rock-star cliche. Ladies, if you wonder why you can never find slim-fit women's (or girls) jeans at the thrift store, this is why - soon to be rock stars are buying them all up because men's jeans just aren't tight enough. This band starts what David calls the "boys with bangs" phenomenon. I think on the street it might look a little silly, but on stage it totally works. Vest with no shirt? check. Striped oxford shirt with upturned color with jeans so tight one couldn't sit down? check. Lead singer watching himself in the Lounge monitor like he was dancing in the mirror? check (that was sort of adorable, really).

The Colour have a 5 man line up: 2 guitars, bass player, drummer, and the unencumbered (except by his ego) lead-singer. Lead singer swings microphone by the cord, shimmies around like he is channelling Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison, god help us all. (He also has a strange affinity for a modified Chicken Dance - maybe he is one of those guys under the mask in Burger King's Coq Rock ads) They play a pretty fun set - the sound at Dantes was not great, but they are working an old-school bluesy rock sound, so the distortion isn't bad and helps muddy the words to songs "for the ladies", which as far as I could tell was "you're a treasure" over and over again. Wordsmithing is not their strong-suit. Prancing around the stage like 160lbs of testosterone in size 6 ladies slim-fit jeans is their strong suit - and they make it work! Just goes to prove that everybody has their niche. (although I found the singer's habit of searching out and making creepy long eye-contact with all the women in the audience to be, well, creepy, I am sure that it is a hit with some.) I have read that they are all really nice guys and work hard. I wish them well on their quest to bring about the Age of Tight Pants. (PS: they are not English, just Pretentious, which is almost as good)

Third Act: The Redwalls: I was kindly disposed to The Redwalls because someone at their merch table gave me stickers when we first wandered in. There, I've said it. I can be bought! I can be bought with adhesive paper!! There are four Redwalls, and I have lately learned that two of them are brothers. I don't know which two, though. The newspaper had said that they played a sort of 'thrashy beatles' style, which was OK with me because I like both of those things. What I wasn't quite prepared for was how Beatle-y they were, at least to start with. It made me think Cavern Club at least a couple of times. These guys are really young, but you know the Beatles were young way back when too. David observed that they were teeny tiny pocket people (they were!) with big giant bobble heads. I decide they should be called The Bobble-Head Beatles and ditch this Redwalls business. Actually, their drummer might be tall, and that's why they make him sit down all the time. The three guys in front (let's call them John, Paul, and George - although I couldn't tell you who was who) all took turns singing, Ringo pounded away on the drums like a monster machine! I was impressed - he was ferocious. Clothes were as follows: Ringo - normal clothes - he could have wandered out into the crowd and nobody would have said boo. thing one: dressed and had the haircut of Peter Tork, which is fine with me because I (shockingly) also heart the Monkees, although am less fond of leather vests over tunics. Thing two: rock star thrift store - tight tight tiiiiiiiight pants, button down shirt and a corduroy jacket that was so small it was split at the arm. Maybe he was in a tug-of-war thrift store fight with The Colour. I don't know how he didn't pass out from the heat. All I can tell you is that he did NOT have any sort of cooling device in his pants. Thing Three: This was my favorite ensemble, really. This would be George or John, aka one of the guitar-playing Bobble-Head Beatles. Except he was Prince tiny (maybe even tinier!) and wearing his Bob Dylan costume. This was appropriate, because he is also the harmonica player. I wonder if this was decided the same way they decided who would get to be Sporty or Ginger Spice? "no, YOU have to be the Monkee Redwall, I am Dylan Redwall because I have the hat, I mean play harmonica."
Other related notes - opening patter, not a hit. I'm not proud of it, but it is inevitable - someone from out of town says Portland OreGONE, and some sincere, well-meaning Oregonian always has to point out that that's not how you say it. Peter Tork handled it pretty well saying "well, you say it your way, I'll say it mine." There was a lot of "How the FUCK are you? I said HOW THE FUCK ARE YOU?" With the extra 'hey, I'm swearing here' emphasis - which made more sense when I later found out they are all about 12 years old. (hee! I am such a fogey)
Their set turned way bluesy toward the end, which was fine except the time between each song got a little bit longer, and a little bit longer, and they were still on stage at MIDNIGHT, when OK Go should have been on stage for a half an hour at that point. So, hooray for the B-HB, or the Redwalls if you must, but I got kind of resentful that while they were nominally an OPENING act, they got a sweet headliner's spot. be continuted

this and that (really random)

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005
* I may change blogger templates because as much as I love this one, I would like to be able to use the search feature in the blogger bar to make it easy on me when I can't remember when I wrote something (aka -ALL THE TIME)

* spray paint is the devil. It makes you think it will be less work, but it rarely is. My lungs are probably burgundy now. My hands certainly are.

* Leslita is blogging directly from her China vacation! Read it!

*Martina has compiled an interesting book survey-thingy over at Powellhurst. I'm going to do it as soon as I finish my epic Rock Show post (I have to edit it down to merely saga-sized. Does anyone need to know that I thought I was stepping on somebody when I had actually just stepped on the carpet? No, they do not.)

*I can't do that until I finish this bookshelf project. I am so close to being done, but so tired of doing it. This is a familiar place for me, as I am sure everyone will be shocked to read.

maybe it will look piratical...

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Monday, September 05, 2005
...when I end up having to get hooks for hands! In the past three days I have:
1) cut my right hand on a cheese grater
2) cut my left hand with a hacksaw
3) sliced my right hand while washing dishes
4) jammed something under my right thumb nail

I hope that 4 is the magic hand injury number and I can safely complete my bookshelf project without further incident.

I didn't even know it

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Monday, September 05, 2005
I was in Barnes and Noble yesterday with my sister, and I found there is a category of books that just makes me bat-shit crazy and I am not even rational about it at all. Crazy in the actually angry way, and not just in the "oh, how amusing, I love it" way. Are you ready for this? Mysteries solved by cats or dogs or recipes or chocolate. I CANNOT STAND THEM. They make me angry in ways I am not prepared to articulate. One that almost got me thrown out (Ok, ok, it almost got the guy from behind the info counter to see if there was going to be a 'disturbance' in the mystery aisle) was a novel that combined all three. I think a chocolate cat who writes cookbooks was the detective. To quote Homer Simpson, my Urge to Kill was rising. I will have to think on it to see why it bothers me so much. I mean, I obviously read lots of books that are light reading - why would I begrudge someone their crime solving cupcake book? I am going to have to think on it more, because right now all I can think is "BECAUSE it is freaking stupid, is why!!" That's no way to win an argument.


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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Originally uploaded by jensect.
This is just a placeholder - I am working on writing up a concert report. I practiced my low light/no flash, low light/ some flash photography with decidedly mixed results. But you have to practice to figure it out, damn it all. This picture turned out OK. As you can see we were on the right hand side of the stage - we were pretty close, but not right there - this was a zoom. To finish this out, let me include my favorite part of the AMG review of the new CD, Oh No: OK Go has written an album that coats its incredibly accessible nuts and bolts with an effervescent rocket sauce, and that's just the way it is.

I LOVE effervescent rocket sauce!!!

katrina links

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Friday, September 02, 2005
For anyone looking alternative ways to help or donate or do something to help victims of hurricane Katrina, take a look at Mercy Corps and Northwest Medical Teams. For both charities more than 90% of all donations goes directly to programs and relief, with less than 10% going to administrative costs. Another organization (NOAH) that just started is dedicated to helping New Orleans musicians find employment and to assist them and their families in relocation. I love music, and I love that musicians (and neighbors - this is based in Houston) are stepping up and helping each other out.

Another way to help and buy art at the same time is the Flickr Katrina Relief Auction. Photographers are offering up prints of some of their best work to go to the highest bidder. Proceeds go to the American Red Cross. There are some amazing images available.

It is a disgrace and a disaster in its own right how slowly the federal government has been acting to assist people desperately in need of help. Who knows how many lives have been lost due to the ineptitude of the official response? I am heartened that people are looking for creative ways they can help in a tangible form. (although money's great too!)

should I stay or should I go?

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Thursday, September 01, 2005
Here's the situation - OK Go, on whose fabulousness I have rambled on at length to anyone who will listen - will be in my fair city tomorrow. For Five Dollars. FIVE DOLLARS. On the negative side, they don't even hit the stage until 11:30. This is late for the likes of me. While I do stay up way too late reading on the internet and whatnot, that is largely done in my pajamas! Party animal, I am not.

Yesterday (prior to hearing their just released CD Oh No I was leaning toward the "well, they'll probably be back in town sometime at a more reasonable hour." But today I am being more and more swayed by the FIVE DOLLARS (six with service charge) and also the fabulousness issue. What if the next time they come to town they are megalithic giants of rock and play a big arena? Those shows are no fun. This show will be at a very tiny club. I am obviously leaning towards going right now. I think I have convinced some friends to go (which makes it more fun and less scary since it is a club I have never been to). Now I just have to work on my sister, who rightly points out that it is LATE and she has to work EARLY the next day. My argument will largely consist of FIVE DOLLARS, and then making her read funny blog posts like this one.