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3 good things for the last friday of the year

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Friday, December 30, 2005
1. Fluxblog has a great Stephen Malkmus song today. Really great.

2. MR. TRONA on flickr has some beautiful and strange collaborative double exposures, done in the spirit of the surrealists Exquisite Corpse . They are freaky, dreamy, and wonderful.

3. Pitchfork has their list of the Top 50 singles for 2005 up. Many I have heard, but many I have not. I sense a serious workout for my new iTunes gift card is in my future!

ipod, I love you

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Friday, December 30, 2005
Every person with an iPod that I have talked to or read about organizes their music and their playlists differently. It makes sense - I think it is related to how you remember things, how you listen to music, where and why you use your iPod, etc.

I have a friend who is all over Smart Playlists and keywords - a few thumb moves and she can access songs that have been keyword-tailored to specific moods. It is genius! I have experimented with a few smart playlists, but I still favor "shuffle songs" and manual playlists. Is it laziness on my part? Maybe. But I think it is because I like making mixes - shuffle lets me hear things in orders I would NEVER hear them otherwise (for example, just now the Cure was followed by the divinely named Zoot Sims - And it WORKS! for me, anyway) You never know when something will just sound wonderful out of it's original context. Some songs suffer, of course, and are miserable next to the Ween Cheese song or whatever else may be lying in wait. That's what the skip button is for! I confess that I used to feel guilty using the skip button, like I would hurt the song's feelings. It would not be a lie to say anthropomorphism has been a problem in the past. But now I know that just because you skip it now doesn't mean you won't be hitting the repeat button on it like crazy later.

I know someone who puts all new songs through a special playlist so they are listened to at least once before they hit the general song population. This is another one of those ideas that is so great, but just not for me. One of my favorite things is to have a new song spring out at me in the middle of old favorites. Especially if it is good - I get the cliched chills up my spine and tingly scalp and have to paw around and get the iPod out of my pocket so I can see what this miraculous thing is. Of course if it is really terrible I have to do the same thing (minus the chills and tingles, plus irritation). I do try to stack the new song deck with things that I have downloaded from mp3 blogs or artists websites that at least seem like I will like them, but it's not foolproof by any means.

Rating systems are another place where people can get very specific with their iPod. My system, I acknowledge, is in need of some fine tuning. Currently, songs I like get an instant 3 star rating. Evil songs (a song can be evil for many reasons, such as switching between left and right ear really fast and making me dizzy while I am sitting down, or annoying Blues Traveler- style harmonica solos which drive me to immediate, creative violence) get a 1 star rating which will get them booted off the iPod the next time I hook it up to the computer. 2's are pretty nebulous at the moment, but I think it is morphing into my "you get one more chance" rating. My ratings system needs work - currently the 5 is reserved for actual transcendence, I guess. Nothing has a 5 star rating - I think I have been waiting for something to physically lift me three feet off the ground, which is just silly. 4 stars mean I love it, but I am beginning to recognize that some 4's are more equal than others and they may get bumped to 5.

Shuffle All, are you sure? YES! this is perhaps my second favorite thing about the iPod (the first being that it exists at all). I do listen to albums in the order that the artist put them in, but usually only when it's new to me and I don't know it very well, or when I have become thoroughly obsessed with it and can't listen to anything else. Leslie calls this "the bonding period" and it is very important. But then there comes a point when my shuffle finger is itching and I just have to hit that button. Shuffle within the album, and then... I let it loose on the rest of the iPod. I know that my way is too sloppy for some, but that's ok. I like to let stuff slosh around and bump up against things it might not touch in normal circumstances. In fact, that's what I like about the entire internet! The beauty of the iPod is it will let you do whatever you want.

Synching, or manual updates - the technical element: When I first got my iPod (a 3rd generation with 10 GB) the iPod would hold more than my old hard drive, so I had to use manual updating. Now my computer will hold more than the iPod, so manual updating is still necessary. I like that there is different music in my iTunes library and on my iPod, but that may just be me being delusional and trying to shoehorn my preferences into my circumstances. I'm not so far gone that I really dig the drastically shortened battery life (hey - it's 3 years old!), so maybe there's hope for me yet. I see that there's a website that will sell you batteries to replace it yourself, so I might try that in the new year.

It all comes down to this - I love my iPod. I love that the same little machine can bring as much joy to people who have a laissez-faire approach as to those who attack iTunes with military precision, and all of us in-between.

Matty Groves

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005
by Deborah Grabien #43

I don't think I am going to hit 50 books after all. I am behind on marking them down, but not 7 behind. Oh well - I didn't start until February, and 2006 is another year. Back to business - This book is the third in the Haunted Ballad Series. I enjoyed it very much - it raised the stakes of the first two books and gave enough of a twist on the existing premise so it wasn't getting into Murder, She Wrote territory (oh, look - here comes Jessica Fletcher and the trail of her dead) I mean, this still has Ringan (I picture Ewan McGregor, which is never a painful exercise), and Penny, still has the framework of the traditional folk song and a haunting...but it is different. Just read it and see. I am crying that I was able to renew this from the library more than once. There should be a long queue to check these out! I definitely think the series should come out in paperback, and maybe with a little guide to some good versions of the songs mentioned in the books. On the bizarro planet/alternate universe where I am the supreme benevolent dictator, you may assume that it is so.

christmas poker

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Christmas is over! I didn't play Clue, but I did learn how to play Texas hold 'em poker. Kind of. Weird Cousin B.* taught us. It was a more successful lesson than the time Martina, Bec, and I tried to teach ourselves. (upshot from that lesson: visors do not in themselves lend any poker know-how, and they will, in fact, give you worse hat hair than a regular hat).

I am still sick. Or almost sick, which is more irritating. I thought I was over it, but this morning has demonstrated otherwise. At least when you're sick you can lay on the couch and moan and dramatically throw tissues around and watch movies all day. If you're not quite sick, there's just the tiredness and the slow-brain which maybe makes you forget to take drugs so you feel even worse (but still not quite sick enough for the couch and Jane Austen or Gosford Park).

Here's a little something that should cheer up even the most hard-hearted or almost-sickly persons: This ~You Are Beautiful instillation is lovely. Just click on the pictures to bring up the next one.

* she's weird in only the best ways and is one of my favorite relatives.

merry christmas, baby

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! I hope these days are as nice as you could want. If you are frazzled (a common occurance when everybody is telling you to be happy) I recommend listening to the Sufjan Stevens Christmas songs. They are just about the perfect blend of traditional carols and new songs. The best part is none of them sound like they will ever be used in adverstisements or in-store music in Pottery Barn or the Gap, so there is no worry about retail burnout flashbacks. They are quiet but lively, fun but heartfelt, and the closest I've heard to my Ideal Christmas Songs. Plus, banjo! (in the more secular realm, I really think it is hard to go wrong with Elvis singing Merry Christmas,Baby, and Chris Isaak's Mele Kalikimaka) They both make me laugh like crazy, and laughing is supposed to be good for you, right?

This year, I miss my cousins. We don't really do anything when we get together at the holidays except play board games (Clue, usually) and watch movies. This year we are not together for a variety of reasons, one of them being that my cousin Deanna will be celebrating Christmas AND the first birthday of her twin boys tomorrow. In Fresno. I know we'll all see each other soon, and I swear, as soon as her kids are old enough to make indiscriminate and ill-considered accusations about who killed Mr. Body, it is ON. I like to think I will be able to out strategize a couple of 7 year olds (or whatever the beginning age is), but kids are wily so who knows.

For all that I lack in cousins this year, I am amply rewarded with really great friends and my immediate family. All of whom will play Clue with me if I agitate enough! I think there may be sightings of various other (non-cousin) family too, so that will be lovely. In a couple of hours Blondie will be stopping by, and tomorrow it is dinner at Martina's house. I had better get busy and do those things that need doing. All the best to you and yours.


no-name list

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005
1. funniest thing I've seen lately: the Chronic of Narnia video. call us Aaron Burr from the way we're dropping Hamiltons ha ha ha! Not to mention the whole cupcake thing. Double True!

2. Movies I've watched over the last week or so: A. The Corporation (long, but good for getting your outrage heart-rate up into the aerobic zone). B. Battlestar Galactica mini-series. I thought this was really good - I've seen a couple episodes here and there, and decided I needed to start from the beginning. It looks like it will ask some interesting questions and go to some interesting places. (no, I don't mean space, wiseass.) C. I Know Where I'm Going! - a great romantic movie. The DVD case said romantic comedy, but it doesn't really seem to fit into that category (mostly because it is not funny). But it was so good! I had never really heard much about this movie (or really know much about any Powell and Pressubrger films), but I read something about it recently, and that coupled with a cover of the theme song by John Wesley Harding - well, it must have been too much for my subconscious to resist. D. House of Flying Daggers I loved this movie! It was so beautiful, and it just kept moving all over the place. The colors!! The bamboo forest scenes reminded me of Amelie a little bit. Not because Amelie kicked 18 kinds of marital arts ass, or because Mei became suddenly a French gamine, but because of the GREEN. All the colors were super saturated, and made me very happy. (re-reading this it sounds like I would be equally happy watching the boohbah's, but it's just not true) I even liked the tragic but inevitable conclusion. (The Chinese film industry does love its doomed romances). But unlike many tragic endings (::cough:: madamebutterfly::cough::, I did not spend my time thinking that these were the most ridiculous non-thinkers-through of all time. Either I am developing a taste for tragic romance (v. v. doubtful) or this just made more sense in my tiny mind.

3. Current song playing on iPod: Sugar Water by Cibo Matto

4. I can't remember what 4 was going to be, so I guess I should just go to bed. ooh! book just finished: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. It was so good! But more about that later.

5. Item number one in this list reminds me: Hottest Founding Father? I'm going to have to go with Alexander Hamiltion. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comment section, but you are going to have to have a pretty convincing argument to get me to waver from Hamiltion. (although duels, while being all swashbuckly and romantic at first glance, are really pretty stupid. But that is just one minus against a whole ledger full of plusses.)

frozen falls

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

This is what Multnomah Falls looked like last weekend - so cold! The weather has been crazy here this past week - cold, clear, and so windy. Like hang on to that lamppost windy. This is all fine, because there is no moisture, so no ice. Well, obviously there is moisture at a waterfall, but there hasn't been any in town... see? This is why I am not a meteorologist. (The clear skies in combination with the full moon is about to do me in - it shines in right into my eyeballs at night. I may have to move the bed or start wearing one of those crazy satin masks, or possibly re-orient the house.)

does Santa have tattoos of reindeer?

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Friday, December 16, 2005
I will spare the internet from my PMS/full moon/holiday stress-bomb crackpot conspiracy theories. It was pretty ugly a couple of times today, but listening to Here Comes Fatty Claus from the John Waters Christmas album helped me reclaim some of my holiday spirit from Bill O'Asshole and the Retail Industrial Complex. The crisis seems to have passed, so many thanks to John Waters and to Blondie who brought me the CD.

Tonight I watched a show on the history of tattoos and it got me thinking about what they mean to people and why people get them. There is no one answer - I am sure there are as many reasons as there are people with tattoos. The program mentioned how they have long been used as a sort of social separator. Tattoos are a mark of otherness -they can be a form of self-separation from people who don't have them (and inclusion into groups that do have them). For example, in the early part of the last century, it was ok to gawk at the Tattooed Ladies in a freak show, but it would have been completely unacceptable for a so called respectable person to talk to (or look at) them outside of that context. How times have changed! I think in Portland there are more tattooed people than not.

I have never had the urge to mark something permanently on my body. I manage to do well enough with scars from my clumsiness, I guess. A friend recently mentioned wanting to get one (tattoo - not a scar from my clumsiness), and I gave serious thought for the first time in a long time to the question. If I got one, what would I want? Where would I put it? I really couldn't come up with much - it just isn't on my radar as a "hey, I want to do that!" thing. Plus - what a huge decision. I would dither forever. I do know what I wouldn't want, though. The program showed a typical suburban-looking girl getting a tattoo of the Tasmanian Devil on her hip. You could get anything you could think of tattooed on (FOREVER), and this is what you come up with?!? It just seems like a complete failure of imagination, especially with the preponderance of great tattoo artists.

I almost think that if I ever went to the trouble of getting one, I would just want a gigantic one of something. It is the kind of decision I could see myself making at some point in the future that would seem completely spontaneous (so unlike me) yet I would be perfectly satisfied with forever. So who knows. Maybe I WILL be one of the future generations of old ladies with saggy pictures of the Taj Mahal, ninjas or the cover art from Duran Duran's Rio on their back.


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Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Fluxblog has posted about the NYC Fiona concert experience (go read it!), so I thought since the NYC show was the last one of this mini-tour, and the Portland show was the first I had better get to it.

I should start by saying it was a GREAT show. She hasn't been on tour in 5 years, but other than some endearing nervousness (which it sounds like she still has) you couldn't tell. Her opening act was David Garza, who only played about 5 songs. He was interesting - a very good guitar player and sang with a lot of vibrato. I think there are some mp3's on his website.

It was such a good show - it still feels good three weeks later! And not the kind of good where you're loving it at the venue and you get home and go "enh." I mean, she was obviously really nervous - but it seemed honest. My favorite example of this was at the end when she sketched out a little wave before any encores, and then came back right away saying "that was so bullshit. I knew I was coming right back out!" Another thing I loved about the show (besides that she played NINETEEN amazing songs!) was that the crowd was so glad to see her. There was lots of "We Love You, Fiona!" and "Welcome back!" and "You're doing a Good Job!" What I loved less were the people who had to sing along to Every Damn Song. I know, I know - you love Fiona, you missed Fiona, but this is not your car OR karaoke.

Even though I bitched about how much it cost, it was totally worth it. Especially since it looks like she'll be opening for Coldplay in 2006, which means at least 3 things: 1) more expensive tix, 2) she won't be able to play 19 songs, 3) Coldplay. (I'm not an extreme hater, but that "I will fix you" song makes me want to fix someone upside the head with a lead pipe. I'll fix you, alright.)

Here is the PDX setlist (it would make a great Fiona-sampler playlist or mix CD), which I copied from someone on the Fiona message board. According to the list on Fluxblog, she did the same set in NYC:

Get Him Back (Fiona at piano)
Better Version of Me (piano)
Shadowboxer (piano)
To Your Love (piano)
I Know (standing at microphone)
Sleep to Dream (standing)
Limp (standing)
Paper Bag (standing)
Tymps (standing)
Oh Well (piano)
On The Bound (piano)
Red, Red, Red (standing)
Not About Love (piano)
O'Sailor (piano)
Get Gone (piano)
Fast As You Can (standing)
Extraordinary Machine
Criminal (standing)
Parting Gift (at piano, alone on stage)


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Monday, December 12, 2005

Originally uploaded by okano.
I think this looks so amazing - it's even better in the bigger size. If you click through and look at the rest of his pictures from this grouping, you will see some more beautiful and seemingly un-vegasy lights from Kobe, Japan.

The Rabbi's Cat

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

by Joann Sofar #42
This is such a lovely book! It is set in the 30's or so in a Jewish town in Algeria (with a side-trip to Paris). The cat of the story belongs to a widowed Rabbi and lives with the rabbi and his daughter. The Rabbi's Cat, well - he causes some problems and solves some problems- although on balance he probably causes more problems. But he is a very charming and aware problem-causer (like most cats).

There are many philosophical rambles in the book too, but I found them interesting and not tedious at all. The story is all pretty well contained in this one collection, although I would certainly be glad to read more of this cat's adventures. I am sure he had many.

Pointless Peeve

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Friday, December 09, 2005
Decimate. It does not mean to destroy completely, it means to reduce by 1/10th. Those ever efficient (and practical) Romans would kill one in ten men in legions that had committed mutiny. As far as I know, hurricanes aren't quite that precise, nor are ex-girlfriends, ghosts, or other natural disasters. I'm not suggesting that decimate should only be used in reference to Roman discipline, I just wish that it hadn't strayed (so close but so far) from its original, precise meaning. I wouldn't even mention it, but I have had many jabbings right in the peeve lately. The two most recent examples: the ghosty book I just finished, and and OK Go song Invincible - (rock star word nerd Damian Kulash, how could you?)

What makes this peeve even more pointless: the english language is in a constant state of flux. I usually think this is cool (except when GW "nucular" B does it). I'm no prescriptivist - I get a little sad that some interesting, beautiful words have fallen out of use (hence my Decemberists love) - but I'm not pulling my hair out about the decline of the language. The real pointless pointlessness of my decimate peeve is that I never even thought about it ONCE until I read about it. What's up with that? I think this one bugs me because the ten-ness of it is built right in. Decimate. Decimal, decibel, decade and so on! It means some measure of TEN. TEN IS CLEARLY INVOLVED!! If we no longer used any deci-ten words, I think I could let it go, but man. We totally still do!

television television

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Friday, December 09, 2005
The OC: Woo Hoo! They seem to have fixed what was wrong, and I now look forward to each new episode. What was wrong with it? All of season 2.* Prime example: making Ryan into a sunny, anti-broody non-puncher. What was up with that? Lesson for season 3: he can be smart AND still get in pointless fist fights at least every third episode. And it looks like the return of the society party next week. Excellent opportunity for misunderstandings, AND Ryan is due to deliver a punching! He's not even my favorite character, but I think the whole thing hinges on him.

Seriously though (if you can say that about the OC), what I like about the show is that all of the main characters are essentially decent people - even Julie Cooper (in her way). I also like how they deal with all of these things that you expect, but then twist them up a little bit. I don't know that it will ever go back to the giddy heights of season 1 (that season had everything!), but I am enjoying it again which is more than I can say for season 2.

*except I must confess that I liked Zach. I liked that he was a huge comic book nerd AND a water polo player - it kept Seth off balance. And I liked that when Sandy went to bring Seth home from Portland the show made attempts to simulate a Portland environment even though sunburnt California mountains were visible beyond the potted shrubberies.

House: I like it despite the fact that there is a certain, shall we say... sameness to every episode. It's not nearly as formulaic as it was at the beginning. Hugh Laurie can be cranky like nobody's business, and I LOVE Robert Sean Leonard as Dr. Wilson. He's just as big a jackhole, but a more personable one. A stealth jackhole.

Bones: Angel's on TV! That's all I can really say. I also like the Angela character's clothes most of the time. Other than that, I like it because it is the cheeseball version of all of those forensic shows. It is totally CSI Relic Hunter-style transplanted to Washington DC and the "Jeffersonian." For people who want it more realistic, I ask you, are there not 300,000 program hours devoted to extremely detailed and gross forensic science already? I know at least one fan of the books who is not impressed, but since I didn't read the books and DID watch Angel, I'm OK with all of it.

Next time: Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls - Two great shows that are both dealing with a lot of really interesting class issues.

january's not all that

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I have decided that January is a stupid month for me to start anything new or make any resolutions beyond ones like "hey, I should have more fun!" With that in mind, I have been trying to do things I've been meaning to do when I think of them, rather than filing them away to do in The Future, or Starting On New Year's. One of these projects is The Perilous Pile of Books. I have had books and art supplies double stacked in front of one set of book cases for I don't know how long. As is the way of these things, clothes and shoes get mixed in. It was getting dangerous and I could never find anything except for the frayed ends of my temper. Once Nano was done, I decided that this was something that should be addressed sooner, rather than later. Today was day two. It's been going surprisingly well. Piles of books I bought from the Title Wave have finally been culled and sorted. Just because it was a only quarter and I found it diverting 13 years ago does not mean I have to keep it. It's not only been easier than I thought it would be, it has actually been fun. I am feeling an unfamiliar sense of liberation by getting rid of stuff! I will never be a minimalist, I will never only have decorator-approved books that are all the same size in graduated colors - but I'll be damned if I have to keep a bunch of lightweight mysteries that I never enjoyed that much to start with - or ponderous biographies of authors I've never read. By tomorrow I should have room for everything again AND a little room to grow on. Right On! And I'll take the books back to the Title Wave or Goodwill and some other reader/sucker can enjoy them.

In the spirit of things that are good and right with the world - you should (if you are so inclined) click on over to Said The Gramophone. Sean has posted his 22 favorite songs of 2005, and provided mp3's for all of them. I am listening to this playlist right now, and it is great! I have to say, some of his write ups make me as happy as the songs do - go now and celebrate 2005 Gramophone-style.

Also fun is, which has "free ebooks for your PDA or iPod." I haven't actually downloaded any from here but I like that they are available. Here's one for you, Martina. I know there are many other sites that do this, but I hadn't heard of this one before today and it looks pretty nice.

The Winds of Change

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

by Martha Grimes #41

Oh, Martha Grimes! How I have missed you. This book came out last year, but I was so out of the loop I totally blanked it. I'll be honest - I don't go to Martha Grimes for intricately plotted puzzle mysteries. The puzzle is never what grabs me. I go to Martha Grimes because I love Richard Jury and I am completely besotted with Melrose Plant. Sigh. Melrose. The complainers (every series has them) say that the stories are so similar, who even cares anymore? Well, me! I would not dream of denying that there are certain similarities - there is usually a child, an animal, and a beautiful woman (who, if she has the misfortune of falling for Jury, will probably be dead before the middle). Jury is depressed and melancholy (also kind - but not sickeningly goody goody about it), Melrose is at loose ends. Hijinks ensue. All right, maybe not hijinks, but you know, melancholy events transpire and then the bodies start dropping or the clues start stacking up. Heads will be scratched, crimes will be solved. But more important than any of that, I get to spend a few hundred pages with Jury and Melrose and the whole world that Grimes has created.

Every series has a certain sameness - that's why readers come back. They like spending time there. It must be the blessing and the curse of a series author. I imagine that they can't change too much in order to maintain the integrity of the series (and placate fans), but you have to change enough to keep the larger story moving forward (and also to keep from going crazy). At this point in the series Grimes seems to be gearing up for some changes. (Although I would argue that there have been subtle character changes throughout the series) It is acknowledged (out loud, even) that Jury is in a constant state of melancholic misery, and that every woman he loves winds up if not most truly and sincerely dead then at the very least depressed herself. But, like the title implies, I think there is change in the air. I'm OK with that. I had an email argument with a friend who thought it was ridiculous the way Jury ended up alone at the end of every novel. She is rooting hard for him to find a little happiness. My stance was that in a mystery series there is no guarantee or expectation of happily ever after. I can see where she's coming from, but I think it would feel really awkward and irritating if the series took a turn to Jury having to justify how much time the job takes away from his family life and suchlike. But I think if Grimes is going to go in that direction, she'll find some way to do it that will be both fresh and natural for the character. In the mean time - Melrose, Melrose, Melrose. You are cranky, smart, funny, loyal and rich with a well-developed sense of revenge (particularly when it comes to Aunt Agatha). What's not to love?

things I hate (short shallow list)

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Sunday, December 04, 2005
because it's not always sunshine and kittens - here are a few of my least favorite things:

1. The use of the name "Madonna" and the word "reinvention" in the same sentence, except for me right now. Come on people! Get a thesaurus.

2. Local News. Dear Northwest Newschannel 8, it is not local news to me, a resident of Portland, Oregon that Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Anniston got pulled over suspicion of DUI in ARIZONA. I don't even think it would be (local) news if they were arrested for it. If they had somehow driven into the grand canyon and parachuted to safety whilst singing Portland, Oregon by Loretta Lynn? - now that I would want to know about, but only because it would be so weird. The added salacious whisper that they are "rumored to be seeing each other" is so not news I don't even know where to start. So just stop it. Notice how I am not mentioning your "Storm Center?" that is because this is the short shallow list.

3. The word Slacks. How about trousers? How about pants? The word slacks is just evil and makes me recoil every time I hear it. SLACKS! ugh.

4. Jewelry that can be bought at the mall. Who buys this stuff? It is so ugly! It looks like it was crapped out by Santa's least imaginative elf. Under normal circumstances it can be avoided, but the holiday gift giving season means it is in my face every time I watch TV and every time I get the mail. I want to strangle someone with a tennis bracelet.

5. Dark by 4:30. It's just not fair. blah blah seasons, blah blah earth on its axis, blah blah blah. I know that the Winter Solstice is right around the corner, and with it will come longer days - but it can be so overcast here it doesn't really make any kind of immediate difference.

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

by Aimee Bender #40
I got curious about Aimee Bender after reading a Powell's Review-A-Day on her latest book. The review made comparative mention of Kelly Link , and I am crazy about Kelly Link. I did what anyone would do - surfed on over to the library's website and put this collection (her first, and with the fewest people waiting for it) on hold. I really liked a number of her stories, but as a whole the collection didn't knock me dead like Kelly Link's work has done (to be fair, not much does). Aimee Bender does have a sort of similar feel to Kelly Link - they both deal with imagery and archetypes that are the currency of the collective unconscious. They're more alike than either one of them is like Tom Clancy, for example, but I don't think the comparison is really fair to either one of them. I think Link is a master of metaphor in ways few are. But Bender has great talent in describing visceral emotions like hunger, fear, and desire. Kelly Link's work reminds me of Fairy Tales (in the OMG- the witch ate those babies sense, not necessarily the happily ever after sense) and Aimee Bender reminds me more of Fables (minus the moralizing, which some would say is the point... they're just different, OK?) All right, I will stop this rampant wikipedia abuse and conclude by saying that I really DID enjoy this collection. Particularly the story of the wacked out socialite who... well, just read it. And the one with the mermaid and the imp in highschool, the librarian story, the story about the healer (hand of ice, hand of fire - it reminded me a little bit of the AS Byatt short story about the ice girl), and so on. I know she's got at least one other short story collection, and a full-length novel, both of which I will be searching out.

post nano thoughts: (aka: where are my zombies?)

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Well, I finished! By finish, I of course mean I reached my 50K word goal. Chris Baty really encourages people to try and tie things up within those 50K words, but so far I have been unable to do so all three years I've participated. I've made it to 50K, but not to The End.

I learned several things during this year's event. First, I can come up with 2K words in an hour if I make myself sit there and not go check ten million websites, not get up and change the CD, not get up and get something to drink, etc, etc. Basically, Jane Yolen's secret of writing is true (Butt In Chair). If only I had figured this out from the beginning! Second: coming up with a groovy (to me) scenario, characters I like and endless dialogue is not my problem. Plot is my problem. Chris Baty may say No Plot, No Problem! but after a while, it does become a bit of a sticking point. I thought I had a nano buster! An idea that was word-count proof. ( I should have known, then.) I wanted to do something cheesy fun and adventurish along the lines of Indiana Jones/ Romancing the Stone / Relic Hunter/ The Librarian. You know - fake archaeology, made up treasure, bad guys, bull whips/ irrational costume changes. (OK, I didn't think of the bull whips until right this second) I was attracted to this idea because it was different from my previous attempts, and it seemed like there would be plenty of opportunity to jump to something new ("run! zombies!") when things got sticky. Only problem - my zombies never showed up! Damn their shambling, decomposing hides! Did the arm with the watch fall off? It feels like all I have is endless preamble and no breakneck chases through the jungle. I know part of that is just me figuring out who these people are, but jeez! It is tedious. I think I will put it away for a while and take it out later and see what's what. I didn't look at last year's effort until October of this year. It wasn't nearly as horrible as I remembered it. Sure, it needs a lot of work, but at least there's something to work with - which brings me back to the whole point of nano! Just write it. Sure, it will almost certainly suck - that's kind of the point of the accelerated deadline - you have to write it fast, so there's not as much time to torture yourself. That's what December - October is for!