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good things (spring-related and otherwise)

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006
magnolia-ish flower

This week has been driving me crazy. (shifting deadlines, a million and one other being-nibbled-to-death-by-ducks issues, etc. -- and it is only WEDNESDAY!) Clearly, it is time for a list! I find them soothing.

Prettiest flower seen this week: The one in the picture at the top of this post. I spotted it when I was walking down to the library, and managed to catch it in a non-windy moment. Hooray! Although I have to say the daffodils are looking really nice right now and I saw some beautiful all red camellias today. Special best smelling award goes to daphne odora, which doesn't look like much, but smells divine.

Best Sunday thrifting find: 2 old-school 60's full-slips. For 2.99 each!

new favorite zone-out game: Thanks to Bec for tipping me off to... Mastercards! It is basically the Memory game (where you turn over cards to find matches) using art instead of pictures of apples or whatever.

most interesting character spotted at the park this week (SO FAR): I don't know his name, and I don't want to know his name.. but he looks like a second-tier (maybe third tier) baddie from a Roger Moore-era Bond movie. One of the ones who gets killed in the first pseudo martial-arts fight or thrown in a volcano or something. He wears a fedora, a trench coat, what looks like a fake mustache but probably isn't, large square glasses, and walks with one stiff leg. I know he's probably just some GUY out getting a little exercise.. but he is rather peculiar. He looks like someone wearing an obvious disguise so that's all you'd notice when it comes time to describe him to the cops. Alright, this isn't really a GOOD THING, but it's a thing.

current favorite Hard Day's Night -era Beatle: George. I think it's the whole scene with the trend-spotters. Actually, I lie. It's when he's explaining to the tech guy why he shouldn't touch Ringo's drums. "They loom large in his legend."

cool blog featuring old illustrations: BibliOdyssey (found via Boing Boing.)

song stuck in my head for most of the afternoon: Pistol Packin' Mama by Al Dexter and his Troopers. For what it's worth, I don't think it is really reflective of my state of mind so much as just STUCK IN MY HEAD. This counts as a good thing though, because it is amusing to wander around singing:
Lay that pistol down, babe - lay that pistol down
Pistol Packin' Mama, lay that pistol down.

She kicked out my windshield - she hit me over the head
She cussed and cried and said I'd lied and wished that I was dead.

Drinking beer in a cabaret and dancin' with a blond
Until one night she shot out the light - Bang! that blond was gone.

(although if you want to avoid LOOKS, it is really a better one to sing in private)

the marvelous mr. bird (the next part)

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Monday, March 27, 2006
(first part here)

When The Swimming Hour came out in 2001, it was a departure from Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire's previous 20's jazz-oriented sound and an enthusiastic two-footed splash into popular music from the entire 20th century. Thank god for splashers, is what I say. Don't get me wrong, I very much enjoyed the first two, but this one... this one is even more dear.

I understand that at the time it came out some fans felt alienated because they thought the new sound was such an about face from the earlier work. I disagree. (I know, I know -- how timely of me to come along 5 years later with the benefit of hindsight to disagree...) It's not so much an about face as an expansion. The band throws their arms wide to all the music they love, and you can tell. It's a much more generous album in a lot of ways. Hearing it in the context of 5 albums (instead of 2), it definitely serves as the breaking away point from the first two records, but it also is what launches him into the weird and wonderful realm he where he currently resides.
Because I can, and because it's on my ipod RIGHT NOW, here's the track listing (with commentary, of course)

1. Two Way Action -- The first 40 seconds are slow and a quiet... and then it just explodes. This whole song (and most on this album) owes a lot to Nora O'Conner's assisting vocals. Anyone who's driven cross country will recognize this part: I've been driving all night/ bathing in flourescent light/ of a western Tennesse gas station
(obviously, your state may vary)

2. Core and Rind -- therapy gone wrong? Write a song! Or listen to the one Andrew Bird has already written: Cause I tell you a story about what happened today/ it was nothing profound just something to say/ and you write a prescription on your notebook pad/ for 5 different ailments I didn't know I had/ Listen, you don't know my mind/ you don't know my mind/ when what you thought was the core/ turned out to be the rind

3. Why? -- the Pitchfork review mentioned that this song would have been fantastic for Billie Holiday, and man, are they right! It's got those crazy vibraphones (I think that's what they are) that I am so nuts about.. and then.. why? why'd you do that?/ you shouldn't have done that/ if I told you once, I told you three times/ that you get your punishment when you show me your crimes/ and it's not a spell or a curse you put on me/ either way you make me smile so tenderly/ how I wish it was a temper you were throwing/ damn you for being so easy going. Anyway, he's got the sexy (high-singer!) mumbler thing going on for sure in this song. and vibraphone!!

4. 11:11 -- This has swoopy violins and one of my favorite little lines -- don't make me chose between rhyme or reason -- something I feel like I am always struggling with.

5. Case in Point -- this song begins with a really lovely violin that sounds like a rainstorm coming, and then abruptly turns into a pop song (as rainstorms will). The lyrics that caught my ear first .. Oh yeah, of course/ you know you can't ride the concept of the horse/ but still I try

6. Too Long -- Allmusic tells me that this is a cover of a song by the Mississippi Sheiks. This would not have sounded out of place on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. (maybe it's the tuba or whatever at the back of it, but I can completely imagine John Turturro doing his crazy yodel dance along to this)

7. Way Out West - this song makes me wish I didn't already live on the west coast so I could jump out of an old hotel that happened to be on fire and skip this town onto a westbound train. Yes it does.

8. Waiting to Talk -- everybody's talking, nobody's listening/ everybody's sweating, nobody's glistening. this sounds sort of like the music that would be playing in the world's coolest carousel.

9. Fatal Flower Garden -- mumbler's paradise! this is apparently a reworking of a traditional Irish Ballad. As such, people die. (which I guess is no surprise considering it is a fatal flower garden.)

10. Satisfied -- this one has the fuzzy loud blues/soul guitars. James Brown would probably do a great job with this song. (I wouldn't expect him to do his own violin playing, though).

11. Headsoak -- this is the song from which the album gets its title, and also gives a glimpse of how he is able to combine sweet music with bizarre and slightly unsettling lyrics: ( I was swimming/ could hardly stand/ the swimming hour was at hand/and the fishes they were feeding/ the lambs they were bleeding) This also showcases some of Andrew Bird's crazy musical whistling (which is fairly limited on this album).

12. How Indiscreet -- Soul! There are horns and backup singers, electric guitar, and that organ. (you know the one)

13. Dear Old Greenland -- words cannot adequately describe how happy this crazy song makes me. It could be the big end production number in one of the cheesy Elvis movies -- I can (and do!) imagine the whole set-up. You know -- where girls in Greenlander costumes (whatever those may be) somehow end up dancing all around Elvis while he sings about the ice fields and tundra. The most fun is when the backup singers sing disparate fragments of my mind/ how fiiiiiine! ha! There is even a talking part! I have yet not to smile when he gets to the "well friends, I tell you what, I'm going there" part. I don't know why, but that's just the way it is.

The Pitchfork Review sums it up best: ...they're one of the only bands out there who have decided to treat the whole past as a single body of work to draw freely from, rather than restricting themselves to an era or a style. In the process, they've come up with a killer batch of songs that add up to a sublimely enjoyable whole. A trove of treasures like this comes by only so often, so snatch this one up while you can. You won't regret it.

I agree!

reason #52 aka, what's in the box?

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Jack White makes me happy:

I have a backyard
with nothing in it
except a stick, a dog
and a box with something in it

(from the Hardest Button to Button)

Welcome to Temptation

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006
by Jennifer Crusie #8

Temptation is the name of the town. It has a phallic water tower. I don't know why, but those two things are what strike me as being over the top in a novel that also has con-men, cold-blooded murder (fresh AND years old), outrageous sex scenes, pool matches, a conniving town council, a documentary turned soft-core, really ugly wallpaper, a black-mailing weather man, a bookstore-owning mayor, a body in a shower curtain (that also gets run over at least twice), and much, much more. Actually, when I list it all out like that it sounds like a Carl Hiaasen novel with a featured romantic plot. All that's missing is some sort of land scheme, which they almost but don't quite get to in this book. Anyway -- this is one of Crusie's most popular books, and I do like it, but there's so much going on that it feels a little crowded. It's kind of like someone is spinning 10 plates on tall sticks on EVERY PAGE. I'll have to think about which of hers is my favorite.

I like Crusie a lot -- she writes funny, sexy, and smart. Her characters are more three dimensional than are often found in romance, which is perversely part of my problem with this book -- she's got about 4 sets of great characters that could carry more of the story, only they're too busy acting suspicious or talking about the water tower. Unlike some authors, Crusie doesn't keep going back to the well -- once the story is done, it's done*. There's no "And now, we feature the hero of the last book's best friend, an ex special-forces lone wolf who just found out he is the heir to a gigantic Scottish estate. And he is a magician," which is a really common practice.

*except, of course, in this case -- one character DOES go on to a different book, but that was a one time thing... (and he did NOT inherit a Scottish castle)

happy birthday!

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Monday, March 20, 2006
birthday card

Happy birthday to Martina!!

Happy Vernal Equinox to people who are not Martina (and also to Martina).

pink wigs and squeaky parquet

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Monday, March 20, 2006
a considered analysis of the good parts of Thursday and Friday.
short version (thursday) Livewire!:

Balcony seats = NICE! we were in the first row of the balcony, and the view is fantastic. Bad news: balcony is near bathrooms and it smelled like the eau de public parking garage stairwell. Good news: once the balcony filled up I couldn't smell it anymore. Analysis: woohoo!

Haiku hotties: The job of the Haiku hottie is to pass out haiku cards for the audience to fill out, and then collect them. This time they were ambassadors from the Red Dress Party. Fun!

Sketches: FUNNY! (sometimes they're only okay, but this time everything was working). Blondie loves Jonpaul McLellan the best and I laughed as much at her laughing at him as I did at anything else. All he had to do was lean toward the microphone and she would start cracking up.

House Band: Ralph Huntley and the Mutton Chops -- I will admit, at first I missed the old house band, Klezmocracy (also with Ralph Huntley), but the Mutton Chops are growing on me. They sounded wonderful this night.

Michael Powell -- owner of Powell's books. He was funny. And the first thing he did was make reference to the fact that the Aladdin was a former porno theater (I think it achieved a Guinness book record for longest showing of Deep Throat), but he was all crafty about it, so they may not even have to cut it. In short -- books are great.

Whitney Otto: here is where I confess that although I have read none of her books, I have a strange affection for Whitney Otto. (thanks in part to her participation in last year's Wordstock.) However, even this affection couldn't silence my inner (shut up) pedantic nerd. She was doing this funny bit on marriage and the latest Star Wars movie (which I have not seen) and had this whole thing going about how Padme and Anakin were headed for trouble... but she kept saying "in the future." "In the future, marriage.." This is how you know for CERTAIN that your brain is in fact broken and no good will ever come of it -- every single time she said "in the future," my brain was screaming "but Star Wars was a LONG TIME AGO, in a galaxy far, far away!" She was funny, but I did manage to horrify myself. Thanks for that, Whitney Otto.

Sojourn Theater: they did a thought provoking piece about how people from either side of the issue talk about the war -- not really talking, but just reciting various catch-phrases and not about dialogue at all.

Saint Cupcake: Shocking Saint Cupcake fact: one of the co-owners does not like CAKE! Less shocking, but also notable: if the other half of the duo had a nickel for every time someone asked what's the deal with Red Velvet cake, he wouldn't have to run a bakery. Also, the hostess of the show got heckled during this part, but she was very funny dealing with it. Heckler wrangling: it's not for everyone.

Dahoo Chorus: the choir like no other! Most of them were wearing pink wigs (I would really love to know where the Marie-Antionette pink wig came from) and crazy costumes. The first song they sang was "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child," which was great and all, but they really brought the house down with their second number, "Somebody to Love," by Queen! They also participated in the end-of-show sketch. I am in favor of chaos choirs, for the record. And pink wigs.

M. Ward with Mike Coykendall -- I really wish I had not been so honest and responsible and had KEPT the pen kindly offered by the haiku hottie in our section so I could have written down some of the lyrics to these songs. I don't know M.Ward's catalog well enough to know what's what, I just know that I LOVED THEM. But apparently the love burned up all of my memory brain cells. There was whistling by Mike Coykendall, (I feel like I have taken the red pill and entered the musical whistling Matrix -- it is EVERYWHERE), and there was excellent guitar playing, and the brain cell melting songs. (maybe I would have remembered if Whitney Otto had not broken my brain already! Thanks again, Whitney.) M. Ward sang three songs total (they were all tragically short), and endured a brief interview. It was obvious that he would prefer to just play and sing, but he did try to cooperate with the interview, but I get the feeling that interviews are not his favorite. Although he did say "Aw, shucks." Come on! how is that not adorable?

When it was all over I only had to walk 2 blocks to my completely fantastic and not up a hideously steep hill like usual parking place. Sweet!

Short version (friday) Museum:

I met Martina and Citizen R. in front of the Portland Art Museum. Walking from the parking garage I heard but did not see a bagpipe band. Bagpipes really carry, god bless them. St. Patrick's day! Good thing I took that extra time to change all of my clothes so I could wear something green. (although when is the purple wearing holiday? Prince should have a holiday in which we all wear purple and high-heeled boots and say things like "(drawing of an eye) would d(drawing of an eye) 4 U" and it would all make perfect sense. Why are the children of today not learning Prince hieroglyphics in school?!? I am writing angry letters to someone, immediately.)
Meanwhile, back at the museum... we got our tickets to see the Hesse exhibit before it got packed back up in crates and was shipped back to Germany.

Floors: SQUEAKY! the main exhibit hall of the Portland Art Museum has the squeakiest parquet floors I have ever walked on. Add in a few hundred other people, and the squeaking get so loud I had to really concentrate to hear the Docent-in-a-can tell me (via headset) in her hilariously modulated voice about So and So Hesse's crafty ex-wife featured in a painting or a tapestry or a rococo water pitcher and all I can really hear is squeak squeak "and wasn't THAT a surprise" squeak squeak squeak. The security guards must go through some desensitizing training where they have to stay awake to the constant sound of squeaky parquet for 72 hours or something.

"D'oh!" Moment: When I realized that the Hesse family is where the term "Hessian" came from. ("Hessian" itself a term which I will admit sticks in my head mainly from a Blackadder sketch featuring the Archbishop of Canterbury and "fine hessian underthings" which caused another headslapping moment when I discovered that "hessian cloth" is burlap, at least in Britain.) There were a lot of paintings and artifacts from the late 18th century when the Hessian army was a going concern. How the fashion for upside down mustaches ever thrived, I may never know. But the striped military trousers made me happy. (not just striped on the sides -- striped all over!)

Favorite things: The real stunner at this show was the Holbein Madonna, which is supposed to be the last Old Master painting in private hands. I'm very glad I got to see it. I also enjoyed the Winterhalter portraits, the Art Nouveau room which included the Franz von Stuck portrait of Ernst something something Hesse something, (who was the first great Hesse patron of the arts), some really fine jewelry, and lots of other things.

After we finished looking at the exhibit, Martina, Citizen R. and I took the underground passage (okay -- it's a really wide exhibit space that happens to be under the ground, but underground passage sounds WAY COOLER), to the newly opened Mark building, where PAM houses their modern art collection. We just looked around a little on the ground floor because we did not have the time to do it justice. I've only been there one other time, and it was wonderful but exhausting.
Big thanks to Blondie, Martina, and Citizen R. who are, as always, delightful "let's do something!" companions.

For fun, here are a couple of Queen covers. Or a cover and a quasi cover. Neither of them are the Dahoo Chorus, but you get the idea... (good for one week) :Killer Queen by Travis, and Somebody to Love by George Michael and Queen

it all falls together eventually

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Thursday, March 16, 2006
I was wondering if I would be able to come up with a blog topic today. I have a deadline, an appointment (for fun!), and another appointment (for fun and art!) tomorrow. I should be doing stuff. But, you know how it is -- you have to check email, take a break, blah blah blah. But then I was checking Powell's blog, and then everything clicked together into a blog-worthy excuse for procrastination.

First of all -- the Powell's Books blog post today is excellent, including as it does a great poem by Tom Clark, and a poem by one of my favorites Charles Simic. This ties together with Appointment (for fun!) #1 Livewire featuring Michael Powell (owner of Powell's books -- see how this all just clicks together?), and.... M. Ward!!* Woo hoo! I am meeting Blondie there.

Then, tomorrow, I am meeting Martina and Citizen R. at the Portland Art Museum to see the Hesse exhibit before it leaves (and to celebrate b-day week with M.) Okay, so this doesn't really tie in with the above, but I wanted to mention it publicly so Martina can't pretend she didn't invite me.

and that's all the time we have today on "it all falls together eventually" theater. I have to feed the cats, change out of paint-and-ink-and-gross deadline clothes and get out of here.

* I think his first name is Matthew, but it would be really funny if it were Montgomery, since Montgomery Ward's is what you get if you just type into your browser. Alright, maybe only funny to me.

the marvelous mr. bird (first part)

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006
One day not that long ago, I had the sudden realization that almost all of the solo male singers in my music collection fall into three rough categories: High Singers, Werewolves, and Mumblers (examples available upon request). There is of course the occasional crossover and outlier, but the general divisions remain. (For some reason these categories don't hold true for bands. And why can't I have sudden realizations about the meaning of life or something? but I digress...) Andrew Bird has dipped into all of these categories, but I think he's probably a natural Mumbler. A wonderful, dear to my heart Mumbler.

As much as I would like to declare my taste in all things to be the objective "best," I can't do it. Well, I won't do it right now. While I try to be respectful when others disagree with me (that multitude of wrongheaded others) , there are certain performers that I don't understand why EVERYONE doesn't love. Andrew Bird is one of these. A violin playing, otherworldly-whistling master of the obtuse lyric, Andrew Bird should be HUGE! He should be singing and whistling his bizarre old-fashioned but new-fangled songs-that-mean-one -thing-the-first-time -you-hear-them-but-by-the -12th-time-have-taken-on-a -whole-new-shape songs to the world, and the world should be listening!! People would be happier, I swear, even if many of his songs are melancholy and one (at least) involves trepanning. But first, a little background.

I first became aware of Andrew Bird when he was playing violin with the Squirrel Nut Zippers. He was never a regular member of the band but played on their early records and added the zingy touch of gypsy-hot-jazz violin seasoning that made everything sound better. I was addicted to the Zipper's release Hot when it came out. There was just something about it that mentally transported me if not through time at least to a different place -- in no small part due to Andrew Bird (and Tom Maxwell, but that's a post for another day).

When I found out Andrew Bird had a solo album Thrills, with his own band the Bowl of Fire, I was all over it... and it was different, even though many of the Zippers were involved. It was more theatrical, if that even seems possible. Bird's singing style is very mannered on this record, but the project still appealed although for different reasons than what had drawn me to him in the Zippers. It reminds me of a cross between the hot jazz end of the swing revival, weird old-timey american appalachian music, and cabaret music. This CD was released on Ryko. They were so committed to the roots of their style it came with a little piece of paper that fit over the side of the CD with suggestions for further listening -- including Blind Lemon Jefferson (who I mention mostly for the pleasure of typing "Blind Lemon Jefferson" -- one of the best names ever!)

Looking at the liner notes, I notice that the artwork (which I love), was done by none other than Audrey Niffenegger! It's a small world out there. My favorite songs from this CD are probably Glass Figurine (I'm like a mail order product from a housekeeping magazine/how utterly embarrassing) and the Nuthinduin Waltz, although I like the whole album. Pathetique is an example of one of the more cabaret/dramatic songs. (song links only good for one week).

Oh! The Grandeur came out a year later and was along the same lines, except it tips more to the cabaret/ jazz end of the spectrum and less to the weird/old timey end. In a lot of ways it seems more mannered to me, particularly the liner notes. Here's the first bit from the booklet: The popular musical organization known as "Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire" has, of late, enjoyed increased noteriety amongst the youth of to-day's active set, providing a perfunctory accompaniment for a variety of many public events -- including picnic meetings, church sales, and field trips -- as well as the many cotillions at which the nightly society of one another's company is sought.
Although it is clear that there is genuine love for the music -- just listening would disabuse anyone of thinking otherwise -- it seems like they were distancing themselves from that affection because in 1999 you weren't allowed to sincerely love something and still be cool. Here's a little sample from this album: Tea & Thorazine

Stay tuned for the next installment when we enter the New Bird Era (now with whistling) ... everything gets turned upside down when Andrew Bird shakes things up.

it's irrational, so celebrate!

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Math has never been my strong suit, but how can you not love &pi ? First of all, the obvious -- it makes me think of PIE, which I enjoy. Secondly, it's irrational , which causes me to feel a certain &pi simpatico. I acknowledge that people with more understanding of the subject love it for all of its mathy goodness, but even the non-mathy among us can celebrate international &pi day! (3.14.... get it?) Celebrate as you see fit. It's also the full moon, so maybe some sort of &pi signal (like the bat signal, but mathier!). Ooh! and today is also Einstein's birthday. The party plans pretty much make themselves.

oh, monday.

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Monday, March 13, 2006
I am sick. I know this because:
a) I feel gross
b) everything takes 5 times longer than it should.
I am hopeful that it is just the light version of the plague that everyone else had, and that I will be feeling fine by tomorrow. (Is wishful thinking a symptom? because if it is I may have been sick for longer than I thought.) Anyway, the point is that I am not coherent enough to finish the epic post I have been working on (although the Nyquill writing added a certain something to it), so instead I am going to share some linky love. I have checked with the CDC, and there is no risk of contracting anything (except possible enjoyment!) by clicking on these links:

He Wrote, She Wrote -- they are prepping for the big publicity push for their upcoming book Don't Look Down. I find their collaboration so interesting --mostly I am just fascinated by how they are taking their two very different styles and beating them into cooperation. Plus bickering. But it seems like honest bickering and I am very interested by their process. (process is one of those annoying jargony words, but I can't think of a better one. Blame the drugs) If it seems like you are coming in on the middle of something, go back to the beginning -- there aren't that many posts.

Leslita is in Puerto Rico! Read here for updates on spanish keyboards, spam, and driving on sand! I want to go on vacation. Of course I have been saying that since before Leslita went to China, which was like 4 vacations ago for her. note to self: stop thinking, start doing.

Horreur Vacui -- another friend finally browbeat into blogging. Perhaps I should feel guilty? I don't. I wonder if browbeating is some sort of eldest-child syndrome?

Meg's Diary -- Meg Cabot's blog. I just like Meg so much -- I can't help it. Her Good News post a while back was just what the doctor ordered. Maybe if I read it again now I will be miraculously cured.

Whip Up: handcrafts in a hectic world -- this blog is awesome if you have any interest in craft-type stuff at all.

it's all one thing -- the blog of Will Shetterly. I haven't read any of his books, but I have been enjoying the blog so I will probably check them out some time or another.

hat or elephant?

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Friday, March 10, 2006
busby helps make the bed Here's Busby, helping me make the bed. He's thoughtful like that, taking time out of his nap and squirrel-chasing schedule to inspect my work and make sure the sheets are smooth enough for pillows. This picture reminds me of The Little Prince with Drawing Number One and Drawing Number Two.

teeth of the hydra

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006
I have been listening to Rhett Miller's new release The Believer. I am liking it, but not loving it. I think I just need to give it some more time. The thing I am fighting is that it has two Old 97's songs and uses a lot of phrasing he's used previously... so I am reminded of those songs which I know and mostly love, and these are not those! Fortunately, this is not a problem without a solution. A few more listens and the new stuff will start popping out with its own merit or lack of same.

The problem that will not be solved by even a million listenings is the newly recorded version of Singular Girl. The Old 97's version (which is of one of my favorite "hey, I like you crazy girl" songs ) has the charmingly inexplicable line "you've got the teeth of the hydra upon you," -- it's just so random, bizarre, and slightly confounding, which makes me love it all the more. This line has been removed from the new Rhett solo version. Why? Why the T. Rex or mythical monster hateration?

The universe agrees with me, and here's how I know: earlier today, while getting the last snips of one of the best haircuts I have ever received, the salon stereo started playing T. Rex's Bang a Gong, which is where they got the lyric! So, to restore order to the universe (and also to celebrate my awesome haircut) I offer a yousendit link (good for one week only) to the superior Singular Girl.

check it out:

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Monday, March 06, 2006
I made the MAKE: Blog. I would just like to note for posterity that the black under my fingernail is paint from a project earlier that day, and not the result of chronic poor hygiene. I make no excuses for the chipped nail polish.

Three Incestuous Sisters: An Illustrated Novel

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Monday, March 06, 2006
by Audrey Niffenegger #7

This is a story of sisters (Bettine, Clothilde, Ophile), love, jealousy, revenge, death, long shiny hair, a lighthouse, madness, longing, reconciliation, reunion, a greenish baby who can fly, giant beautiful pictures, and small concise words. If words are coal, Niffenegger has pressed them down, down, down until they have become perfectly sized industrial diamonds to accompany her truly outstanding artwork. Form and function -- two great tastes that taste great together!

The artwork really grabbed me -- it's so expressive and does the bulk of the storytelling. It reminds me a lot of Japanese art/ Japonism from the turn of the 19th/20th century, a little of Gorey (some of the details, really), and even a little of Toulouse-Lautrec (although the Toulouse-Lautrec it reminds me of was when he was working in the Japanese style, so that's totally circular but I'm leaving it in). Here's a site that features some of Audrey Niffenegger's prints, including some from this book.

I don't want to give the whole story away, so I will just say that if beautiful art and foreknowledge of a greenish baby who can fly aren't enough reasons to go check this out, there's just no hope for you!

spring fever, forgetfulness linked in study

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Saturday, March 04, 2006
camellia with lurking bee

The old saying goes you learn something new every day. I am less than thrilled with today's lesson, which seems to be that I may choose what I think is a safe place for vital items like iTunes gift cards, but it's not such a great place if I then lose all memory of where it is. I am sure it will turn up, but ARGH! Damn those abducting aliens and their memory wiping technology. Or you know, my innate forgetfulness. I can remember all sorts of completely unnecessary minutia, but cannot remember this one thing! I am sure it's right in front of my face. I know I didn't just lose it, because I distinctly remember thinking "well, I won't lose it here!" The real lesson: don't save iTunes gift cards! Scratch that little thing off the back and load it onto your computer immediately!

In happier, less insane-making news -- it is a beautiful day, and here is a picture of a lovely pink camellia. Spring is springing!

edit: found it!! For future reference, "safe place" is tucked inside the copy of McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales that I received as a Christmas gift. Not even in an envelope, but I'm not going to go nuts about how stupid that is because the disaster has been averted. Hooray!