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spring break!

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Friday, April 28, 2006
insanely green

I am taking a break from Wordstock posts to celebrate. Today was a fantastic day -- the weather was unbelievable (everything looks SO GREEN), and I got rid of some stealth junk I don't need! Best discard: old bridesmaid's dress from 1992. It was the least ugly dress of the three weddings I've been in, but least ugly does NOT equal attractive. I mean, it wasn't taffeta (unlike Aqua Dress #2), there was no royal blue lace overlay (unlike Blue Dress #1) and the butt-bow was detachable (unlike #2), however there are limits to how long a person needs to hold on to The Lesser Of Three Evils. (the two that I got rid of already would have fit in just fine on the Bridesmaid Dress Incinerator page.)

wordstock, pt.2

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

S A T U R D A Y, cont.

wordstock, pt. 1
wordstock, pt. 3

Noon Colson Whitehead: I was looking forward to this reading because I had enjoyed The Intuitionist quite a bit a couple of years ago. It was pretty well attended -- not full by any means, but I think there were more people than at the "Sassy Stories" panel. The important thing is I didn't have to move since both readings were at the Powell's stage. If you click on the Colson Whitehead link above, he's put the full text of the first piece he read, Proposal for an Alternative Use of the Empire State Building, on the Occasion of Its 75th Anniversary up on his website. It's pretty funny. After that, he read from his latest novel Apex Hides the Hurt. BB had to leave shortly into the Empire State piece, so he missed out on the 'nomenclature consultant,' from Apex and that consultant's obsessive love of the phrase "shuttle bus." I must be very suggestible, because now I love it too. (I'm serious -- try saying it. It is very satisfying.) The weirdest thing about this reading was that every time Whitehead would pause to take a drink of water, someone would start clapping like he was finished. So then he had to start saying, "there's more to this section..". Anyway... During the Q &A someone asked him if he always wrote about race. He answered that he was interested in history, technology, cities, and race, but that race was just one of the filters he writes through. (other filters include New York city and being someone that doesn't leave the house that often.) Shuttle bus aside, I will probably wait a while to read Apex, but I just picked up his collection of essays ( The Colossus of New York: a city in thirteen parts ) from the library today.

I skipped the 1PM readings and left the convention center to get lunch. I got back earlier than I thought I would, and since there wasn't anything I was planning to see until Jessica Abel at 3, I decided to just take a stab at something at 2PM. You know, maybe some wildly fantastic synchronistic Sign From Above would lead me to my new favorite author. (Stranger things have happened.) I decided to go to the Hawthorne Books Feature, which was described in the Wordstock Guide as "another panel of its most popular and inventive writers. Award-winning short-story writer Poe Ballantine will publish his third book this July, a novel entitled Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire. Kassten Alonso's Core: A Romance was a finalist for the 2005 Oregon Book Award for fiction."
It seemed like a good choice, so I went to the Portland Stage where this was being held (the Portland Stage was one of the smaller stages across the way from the main Wordstock area). My experiment in random choosing did not have an auspicious beginning. The reading had already begun and I became the jackass who bursts into the room late and is desperate to just sit down already. (not to be confused with the 13 other jackasses who followed, one of whom held an entire hushed but still audible cell phone conversation before leaving.) Once I sat down I noticed that the guy reading looked sort of like Matthew Broderick. (I had no idea at this point who was who because I missed any introductions. In fact, I didn't know who was who until after google image search. But since I know now, I can say with authority that it was Kassten Alonso) Maybe it was the boyish face, maybe it was the haircut, but as Alonso read (and acted things out like brrr, cold accompanied by dramatic shivers ), it felt like I was being goofed by Ferris Bueller as sociopath. (the character he was reading (and acting!) had some dead-bunny/barn-burning issues.) Despite my initial mishaps and misgivings, by the end I had fallen into the rhythm of his reading. Poe Ballantine read next, which was a change of pace and a lot of fun. He began by warning the parents of the kids in the audience that "there was some bad language," which turned out to be in reference to a drink called the Flaming Asshole. He read quickly and with conversational zinginess. No dead bunnies that I heard, but there was a 21st birthday being celebrated in the heyday of 70's fashion -- so it was scary in its own way.

3PM Jessica Abel: I didn't know what to expect from Jessica Abel -- I knew she had done both the writing and art for some graphic novels, that she was about my age, and that's about it. But weighing this (all of which is at least moderately interesting to me) against fighting people for a seat at the Joyce Carol Oates reading at the Borders stage... it seemed like a good idea. And I was right! She came out with someone from Powell's who asked her questions about her process and her work (somehow they knew that left to its own devices, the audience would ask 60% good questions, and 40% bullshit questions, although that ratio may be generous). The guy asking the questions seemed nervous, but did a fine job. She was there discussing her latest book, La Perdida. Go here for an overview from when the graphic novels came out in issues (before they were collected into the hardback), and here for an interview with her. I'm glad I decided to see her. She had a powerpoint slideshow thing, read some from her book, and talked about how she works both in coming up with the story and how she lays out the panels. Very interesting.

4PM Dave Eggers: Between Jessica Abel and when Dave Eggers was scheduled to come on (also to the Powell's stage), the audience filled up. Filled up so much that they made everyone move to the center to fill in empty seats. There were still people spilling out all along the edges and at the back (I would guess there were probably 800-1000 people there). I was already in the middle of the middle, so I stayed put. (the adorable high-school emo boy and the non-smelly hippie boy who were each sitting about 3 seats away on either side had to move to me. A complete reversal from my usual 'sit by a stranger' luck, which often involves holding my breath.) It seemed like the reading got off to a very late start. When Eggers finally showed up, he was quickly forgiven by everybody because in addition to being famous and highly regarded, it turns out that Dave Eggers is extremely charming as well. Apparently the delay was something to do with changing his mind about what he was going to read, and then having to find it. Anyway, the first piece he read was something he wrote for the Guardian about the comic-book evil of Dick Cheney, and how it's funny, but not funny. At all. (well that link is for some short short stories he did for them, but not the one he read.) Following that, he read from a new work that isn't out yet (a novel based on the experiences of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan). The question and answer session for this reading was actually not too bad. He seemed very excited to be there, said that he thought Community of Writers (Wordstock host) was a great program (and very similar in mission to his program at 826 Valencia). What I think I liked best about him and this reading was his enthusiasm for the written word -- reading it, writing it, helping others to write it. He was generous while answering audience quesitons and seemed genuinely honored and glad to be there.
A lovely way to end the first day of Wordstock. (Until I whacked my head on the chair in front of me, but I can't really hold him responsible for that.)
Sunday at Wordstock coming up next

wordstock, pt.1

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Wordstock, pt. 2
Wordstock, pt. 3

Wordstock, you rock! This year was different, but every bit as enjoyable in its way as last year's inaugural event. If you want to read about my experience at Wordstock last year, just click over on april 2005 in the archives. Wordstock posts spill over into May, because I was, perhaps, a tad long-winded.

I met D. at 9:30 outside the convention center in front of the giant Korean bell that scares the bejezus out of me because it gongs without warning. (And I chose the spot! Why do I do these things to myself?). D. has chosen "Baby Boy" as his internet pseudonym, but honestly I can't be typing that out more than once without feeling like I am in the middle of some bizarro-world Brandy video that takes place in a book festival. So, I am shortening it to B.B. or maybe even BB.

10 AM: Peter Ames Carlin -- reading from his book Catch A Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of Brian Wilson, which unfortunately isn't out yet due to hold-ups in acquiring legal permission for publishing lyrics. (Here is a piece he wrote on Smile found on the Brian Wilson website. I think it gives a taste of what Carlin writing about Wilson is all about.) He was the first author I saw, and I did have to do a small amount of arm-twisting to get BB to agree to it. But as it turns out, it was all good. Carlin redeemed himself to BB by using the phrase "Johnny Law" early on. There was only a small crowd, but enough people that I didn't feel totally conspicuous. Because that's what this is all about, right?
Carlin is the television critic for the Oregonian, and I have always enjoyed his column. He's pretty snarky, but sneaky snarky which is even more fun. BB wrote in my notebook that "he has a great radio voice," which he DOES. My notes (why do I even bother? -- they are cryptic to me even five minutes later) say "Vibrations = DOGS," which I think was in reference to how BW got the idea for the song Good Vibrations (something about how dogs perceive vibrations from people and can tell if they like you or not immediately .. and how BW extrapolated that into human interactions, etc. etc. probably best to read the book when it finally comes out and get the real deal, not the half-assed scribbly note version). Also in my notes for this page was a spirited game of hangman where BB tried to guess my middle name, got all letters but ONE, and still doesn't know -- even with the added hint that my parents were not only hippies, but hippie nerds. The answer is so obvious. (only one letter missing!) But, I digress. The book sounded great, and should be out in June.

11 AM: Sassy Stories: Curtis Sittenfeld, Thisbe Nissen, Vendela Vida
This panel was called "sassy stories," and I just don't get it. Is it because they're all women? It didn't really strike me as a panel either, because it was just three authors reading within the hour allotted. It seems like panels should have tables, those name-plate things, glasses of water, and microphones. And a moderator. And a topic. But, perhaps I am splitting hairs and stuck in the past, or actually just thinking of a congressional hearing or Dr. Evil's roundtable of villains.

Thisbe Nissen: I think that I would have liked the piece she read better if I were reading it on the page rather than hearing it. It was STUFFED with details (like what's in the bottom of someone's purse, the contents and mishaps in the dressmakers shop, the relationships and driving history of every single person who ever lived in this town... ) all to get to the point where a bride is stuck in a bathroom stall in her unflattering ankle-showing wedding dress (see above re: mishaps) trying to deal with a bloody tampon and unspoken family issues during a tornado warning, etc. etc. It didn't work for me in the setting, and I felt like I was supposed to be appreciating how IMPORTANT the lump of mints in the bottom of the maid-of-honor's sister's niece's purse was. I won't say what the hangman word was during this reading, but the other note was "wouldn't it be awesome if a tornado came RIGHT NOW?" I know, I know. But BB came up with a really good hand gesture for a tornado, which cracked me up the rest of the weekend. I really do think that this was a case of venue and material not meshing particularly well.

Curtis Sittenfeld: So... I was already riled up from the mints and blood and tornados from the previous reading, so when Sittenfeld started reading about characters Fig,(slutty) Hannah (less slutty), and Henry (I'm guessing slutty) my eyeballs were ready to roll. Fig and Hannah both love Henry, blah blah, go to fancy schools "but neither of them is Harvard." Sigh. Again, something that I might enjoy reading on my own, but I was perversely irritated hearing it out loud. I am sure it is something to do with failings of my character and no reflection on the author. I haven't read any of her stuff, but Prep looks interesting and I will check it out.

Vendela Vida: Vida was more to my taste, but I was irrationally pissy after the first two "sassy" readings. Her piece was more... delicate? That's not the right word. I don't know -- it seemed less concerned with objects and really captured my interest in the brief time she had to read.

My notes for this panel are best not described, except for the ending note which was "not enough johnny law in this panel. too much hair shirt." (Thisbe Nissen mentioned "hair shirt" at LEAST twice. I can empathize since Hair Shirt, once invoked, is hard to get out of your head.) Despite the fact that it wasn't very panel-y, all three authors were very gracious about answering questions, even the terrifically stupid ones. If you've ever been to a reading you know the ratio of good to stupid questions -- they were VERY gracious.

more wordstock posts to follow!

farewell, my little plastic friend

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Friday, April 21, 2006
library sign

It's official. I LOST my library card! I know just how it happened. I walked down there earlier this week and on my way out I was putting stuff in my bag, arranging my earbuds, fixing my jacket, etc. I did not put the card back in my wallet, but just had it sitting on top of my books -- and I'm sure it landed somewhere on the floor of the library vestibule. I know someone turned it in (the librarian was squirrelly when I asked about it since I was so obviously hoping to just get my old one back), but I also know it was really ratty. It was the same card I have had forever. The plastic was cracked, I had to put tape over the numbers to keep them from peeling short, it was pretty disreputable looking. BUT I KNEW THE NUMBER! Farewell, 21168007316276! We had a lot of good times. I'm sorry that my carelessness has probably sent you to the card chipper.

five yay, five nay

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006
the yay's:

1. flip-flop weather (finally!!)
2. Getting Rid of Stuff (for real!)
3. The song Qué Onda Guero by Beck. I quite enjoy the way he says "mariachi band"
4. The library! (today I picked up the new Crusie/Mayer, the Circus of Dr. Lao, and some book on feng shui that I would never buy)
5. fixing things that were broken
BONUS: Erin's Weird and Wonderful Word of the Day Today's word was shamal

the nay's:

1. Guy in front of me at Home Depot: You are wearing a BELT and yet your pants are still below your ass. I am aware that this is an old-lady rant, but seriously dude -- do you not know what belts are FOR??? Hint: they are not for keeping your pants below your ass. I wish I could write tickets (like the police!) and make people attend Remedial Trouser Wearing classes. I would also give a ticket to the woman at the grocery store wearing NO PANTS. It's warm lady, but it's not that warm!
2. headaches
3. throwing out 3999 lipsticks from the mid 90's. throwing them away was great, but why the hell did I still have them?
4. washing dishes - why can't they just wash themselves??? whine
5. (since I gave myself two bonus yay's, I will deduct a nay since it was pretty much devolving into straight on whining, and who wants to read that?)

Size 12 is Not Fat: A Heather Wells Mystery

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Monday, April 17, 2006
by Meg Cabot#11

Heather Wells is a former teen-pop queen. (Think Britney with a dash of Tiffany) But Heather's mom ran off with all her money, her former fiance and boyband member Jordan (think Justin) got caught in a compromising position with another pop-tart (think Xtina), and Heather got simultaneously dumped by her label (run by Jordan's dad) and her boyfriend. So, with no family, no money, and no prospects, Heather ends up working as an assistant residence hall director at New York College (free tuition), and living with Jordan's black-sheep brother, Cooper. (The black sheep brother is of course smoking hot, smart, above all that shallow bullshit, and of course... OF COURSE... independently wealthy.) She lives with Cooper, but not with Cooper (although she secretly pines for him... OF COURSE). She's got her own suite of rooms (see above, re: Cooper independently wealthy), in which he lets her stay in return for doing the accounting for his Detective Agency (of course).

As you may have guessed from the title, Heather's body resumed its native state once she wasn't shaking her ass in malls across america. There is much time devoted to Heather's love of snack food, and how she gets her recommended allotment of exercise in tiny incriments, usually walking to get more snacks. I've got no problem with this -- it's true on television, and in books (particulararly romance novels, for some reason) that women are all tall and skinny with enormous boobs, or they are tiny and petite (with enormous boobs). Anyway -- the thing that bugs me here is that the "fat" angle is what they're hooking the whole series on. I mean, either size 12 is fat or it isn't! I wouldn't have thought much about it until I read the little note at the end by Meg Cabot where she gives the publication dates of the next two in the series. The titles? Phat Girl and Big Boned. Marketing! Argh.

Despite my bitching, this was a mostly enjoyable light read. I figured out who the baddie was about half way through, but that doesn't bother me too much. Something that did bug a little (but it is dwarfed in comparison to my irritation at the Phat Girl series titles) -- Heather's story is first person, which totally works EXCEPT it is first person, present tense. The whole thing reads like a choose your own adventure story. (made up example since the book is now back at the library: "I'm walking down the hall and I notice that the vending machine needs to be restocked, but then my boss calls my name so I turn around and go back to my office." I found it to be hugely distracting, but maybe I'm just wimpy.

I liked, but did not love this book. I dig that she is reviving the Girl Detective series, and I love the whole former teen pop-star angle and the college dorm setting. I don't love what seems to me like a bunch of double talk about weight, and I really don't love the first person present tense. This is in some nebulous category -- it's not one of Meg Cabot's teen books (which I generally enjoy), it's not one of her adult romances, it is somewhere in-between. I will give Heather Wells another chance, though. It could be that as the series goes on it will settle-in, somehow.

spring day

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

This is what it looked like when I walked down to the library earlier today. Of course it was HAILING on me just a couple of minutes later, but it was small hail, so no harm done.

In other Sunday news -- went to a movie, took my taxes to the post office, and am making a top that will either be really cute or look like some Hee Haw wardrobe cast-off... there is gingham involved. So, not any kind of fancy day, but not bad either!

ninotchka v. silk stockings

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Sunday, April 16, 2006
the winner is, hands down ... Ninotchka! Silk Stockings was fine as long as nobody was talking. Ugh. I wanted to beat Fred Astaire's character with a shovel (which he would no doubt take as a sign of some repressed feminine desire, which it is, sort of. My desire for him to shut the hell up, which would no longer be repressed if someone would just hand me a shovel, a time machine, and a fiction to reality translator.) It's not that I don't like Fred Astaire -- he dances like a dream and has not incited my violent impulses until now. "Brash" is what the back of the DVD case called him. "Asshole" is more like it.

I know some of my disappointment in Silk Stockings is because I was so beguiled by the 1939 original. Ninotchka was sort of corny in parts, but it was also smart and sweet. It seemed like the characters actually had hearts and feelings (which will lead one to any number of things that do not hold up under scrutiny). Silk Stockings, on the other hand, suffers from removing all of the character building parts (like any reason at all that the S. Stockings Ninotchka would fall for that gold-plated asshat) to make room for song and dance numbers. Don't get me wrong -- I LIKE song and dance numbers! When they're good they totally progress the story as far or further than dialogue alone would. Let's just say that I did not find that to be the case in this movie. Cole Porter... this was not his best work. (although old F.A. was really pushing my irritation buttons, so maybe I'm not the most impartial reporter). What made it worse is that there would be a mention of some really sweet moment from the first movie, but it made NO SENSE in the context of the movie I was watching. (I am thinking particularly of the whole champagne/ goats milk bit, but there are many others.) It was bizarrely all talk and no show. they SAID she would fall in love with him, so she DID. Even though he was an egomaniacal asshole who wore brown shoes with a grey suit! Logic rebels!!

Although Silk Stockings (1957) comes 18 years after Ninotchka (1939), I found it to be hugely sexist in comparison to the earlier movie. (progress does not march in a straight line, unfortunately.) 1939 Ninotchka (the character) was presented as serious and very good at her work -- but not a complete robot OR a doll to be manipulated by the male lead. Ninotchka was completely believable (well, movie believable) falling for Leon, the charming social schemer. He was charming, he fell for her, and I BELIEVED IT! You could see her making the mental adjustment to go with it, even though he flew in the face of everything she believed to be correct. S. Stockings Ninotchka, on the other hand... not so much. Cyd Charisse, who dances like an angel with legs up to her eyeballs, was not helping things with her Natasha Fatale accent and ZERO motivation for falling in love with that (how many times have I said asshole already?) man. Is it just the difference of pre- and post-war entertainment? Some sort of "ladies, I'll tell you how you feel because I fought in the war" kind of thing? Is it some sort of statement about communism? Maybe I just watched it wrong.

So, my advice (if you haven't seen either) is to watch the infinitely superior Garbo version, and if you must watch Silk Stockings, make sure there is plenty of time in between viewing it and the original, and keep your finger very near the mute button.

The Areas of My Expertise

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Friday, April 14, 2006
by John Hodgman #10
What can I say about this unusual volume that isn't already stated on the cover? Probably nothing. (the italics are quotes directly from aforementioned cover)

What is it?
An almanac of complete world knowledge compiled with instructive annotation and arranged in useful order by me, JOHN HODGMAN a professional writer, in
THE AREAS OF MY EXPERTISE which include: Matters Historical, Matters Literary, Matters Cryptozoological, Hobo Matters, Food, Drink, Cheese (a Kind of Food), Squirrels & Lobsters & Eels, Haircuts, Utopia, What Will Happen in the Future, and Most other Subjects.

Why would you want to read it?
Finally, I may conclude that you are a curious person who thirsts for knowledge, for this is in fact a compendium of COMPLETE WORLD KNOWLEDGE. Here you shall find answers to all the questions you have been asking.

For example, you ask "What is the truth about the Loch Ness monster?"


You ask, "Who were the U.S. Presidents who had hooks for hands?"


"what was the menu at the first Thanksgiving," you ask, "and did it include eels?"

Technically, that is two questions, but do not apologize, for I shall answer them both... LATER.

Like all, you wonder, "What will happen in the future?"


If that isn't enough to convince you... here are some author testimonials:
" If Borges and Ben Franklin got drunk and decided to write a book together, the result might have been something a lot like this freaky 'almanac' -- an eccentric compendium of useless trivia, fabricated facts, outlandish speculation, and sublime nonsense. John Hodgman is witty, urbane, and completely out to lunch." -- Tom Perrotta.

"If you are a hobo and/or a con artist who aspires to hunt mythical creatures and/or raise utopian bunny rabbits, John Hodgman's The Areas of my Expertise will profoundly change your life. If you are neither of these things (or if you possess neither of those goals), thi will simply be the funniest book you have read in the past twenty-four to thirty-six months. Mr. Hodgman is an irascible force of nature, a riverboat gambler, and a comedic kick in the jowls; his thoughts intrigue me." -- Chuck Closterman

for further information, you can visit the Areas Of My Expertise blog.

notes from an updating FOOL

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Thursday, April 13, 2006
things accomplished thus far on thursday:

*had turbotax related heart failure, pounded on my chest until my heart started again, and then found the "reduce your taxes by half, fool" button. Yay! I am so glad they integrated Mr. T into the tax paying experience.

*updated blog 200 times.

*got rid of 10 pairs of shoes! I know, I know. shoes are our friends. but these were just collecting dust and cat hair and making me feel guilty about buying new shoes. Out they go!

*tamed the towering stacks of CDs (this is a bit of an exaggeration, taming is not complete -- but it is seriously underway)

*wondered why I don't spend a lot of time at Reading Frenzy

I had better get back to it -- I can feel my fingers itching to get rid of more stuff. (it doesn't really count as spring cleaning if it has been going on for 6 months, does it?)

(I am seriously behind on my little book posts, so there may be more forthcoming. I am in the Mood To Get Things Done. Fair warning)

All This Heavenly Glory

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Thursday, April 13, 2006
by Elizabeth Crane #9

I had a whole long thing about how I found this book (libraries, browsing, not this book first, blog coincidence -- it was riveting, let me tell you), but none of that really matters. What matters is that this is a wonderful book. It reads to me like a hybrid of short story and novel, a cross between fact and fiction, and between really good and great. You should read it!

Why? The very first chapter is but one reason. It is the longest, most detailed, most list-oriented (I love a good list), most -gratuitous-mentions-of-Owen-Wilson-would-cost-you-10,000,000-dollars-to-publish-if-you-were-paying-by-the-word-single-sentence personal ad in the history of the world. And it's fantastic!

The chapters at the beginning cut back and forth between Charlotte Anne as an adult, and Charlotte Anne growing up. So much of this rang true -- even (especially) the stuff from Charlotte Anne's 12 y.o. point of view. I think a lot of people sort of romanticize what a 12 year old knows and feels, but this seemed right to me. For every thing that really resonated there were things that didn't, but that seems reasonable seeing as how this is a work of fiction and not someone transcribing my exact experience directly from my brain. I assume it would be the same for any other reader (although what that other reader relates to or doesn't would undoubtedly vary). She has a very delicate touch about losing a parent to cancer, for example. I know it's different for everybody, but in so many ways it is exactly the same.

Lest I leave this sounding like the downer-cancer-personal-ad-book-of-the-year, let me say that it's so much more! It's about the struggle and choice to be a decent human being and live your life. But now I've said "struggle" in addition to "cancer" so it is sounding double-plus unfun, which is the OPPOSITE of what I intend. So remember "owen wilson," "lists," and "fizzy, zig-zaggy, shot-to-the-heart writing." And go read it!

super nerd

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006
This is a somewhat sad admission, but I am super-stoked now that I am holding in my hands Willamette Week's guide to Wordstock!!! (okay, it is sitting on my desk since I can't type and hold it in my hands at the same time) Colson Whitehead is going to be there!! (I have only read his Intuitionist, but I had a book crush on him after that. It was so...well, there was just a lot going on in that book and I think I probably only got a tiny fraction of it, but that's kind of what I dug about it. There is more for me there if I ever go back!) Dave Eggers will also be there (confession: I have never read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. There was just so much hype and buzz all over it that it made me mad just looking at it -- not rational, but it is what it is). I could probably go back and read it now, but I've got a bunch of other stuff ahead of it... But I do enjoy reading McSweeney's occasionally, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency more often than that. Christopher Moore, Jessica Abel AND MANY,MANY MORE will also be there.. (this was all just cribbing off of the Powell's Stage page!)

More updates as the date grows closer.

here's an update five minutes closer than when I originally posted -- the Wordstock Livewire will have Chuck Barris (why not?), Jessica Abel, Art Alexakis (I wasn't so jazzed about this initially, because how could he even come close to John Wesley Harding and Colin Meloy, which is who we got last year? I like some of his songs, but can he even read? But now I see The Minus 5 will also be there, so I am appeased. And maybe AA will change my mind.)

park pixies

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Someone took the time and trouble to arrange all of these camellia blossoms at the base of this (non-camellia) tree in the park I walk in almost every day. Little things like this charm me for reasons I'm not entirely sure of. Maybe I'm charmed because someone took the time to make something beautiful even though there is no promise that anyone would even notice. (is it just me, or does it seem like nobody does anything anymore unless they can 'get something' for it?) Maybe I like it because it is just fun and beautiful for its own sake, as corny as that sounds.

The flowers in the picture are from Tuesday, but at the same park on Monday I met a potential public-spaces flower-arranger named Cecile. She's probably four. I noticed her stomping around with puddle-splashing glee on the path up ahead of me, but she would have been hard to miss even if she had been walking demurely. She was wearing bright yellow rain boots, turquoise leggings, and fuchsia coat with purple flower buttons. Clearly, a kindred spirit! (her ensemble was bold enough that one either responds with HOORAY or HORROR. I was full of HOORAY for it.) So, Ms. Yellow Boots was walking up ahead of me with her mom (I assume) and their dog (definitely a dog). As I caught up, I had time to observe her pattern: stomp, stomp, stomp (puddles on the left); looking for fallen spring blossoms on the path (center); and then running these poor orphans back to the base of the trees on the right.

On one of her returns to the puddle side of the path, I caught up with Cecile who instantly struck up a conversation with me (chatty four year olds and crazy people love to talk to me for some reason). Since it was pretty clear she wasn't going to be satisfied with a smile and a wave, I said hello and took one of my earbuds out so I could hear what she was saying. She launched immediately into a story about how she had just gotten a spanish language CD (singing, not talking -- I asked), and that her friend Phoebe's grandmother spoke spanish and they were going to sing spanish songs in school. There wasn't really much opportunity for me to quiz her about her flower placement (or anything) because she was talking non-stop until we caught up to her mom, who gently told her to say goodbye because I had to "continue my walk." (no doubt code for "DO NOT TALK TO STRANGERS YOUNG LADY") Cecile and I said our goodbyes and that was that. I doubt she was the one who arranged all of those camellias at the base of the tree (I can't imagine the dog waiting around that long, for one), but I like to think that one day she might be.

sunday, SUNDAY, sunday

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Sunday, April 09, 2006
soon I will be forced to stop using weekdays in blog titles. but not yet!

Well, two days later I can say this -- don't ask the lords of the internet for ANYTHING. I think success would involve even more complicated provisos and addenda than you have to use when wishing to a genie in a bottle. To update: I still can't read minds (just as well), my project is GONE (but I didn't get to the beach because I got a stomach virus instead), but my clothes are clean!

Today Bec and I went to the hillbilly movie theater (we were near it when the time was convenient... but NEVER AGAIN!) and saw Inside Man, which was so good! I mean, I love Clive Owen, and to quote Angel, "who doesn't love Denzel?" But both of them together? Does not make me unhappy.

And speaking of movies... last night we watched Ninotchka. So fun! I had recently seen something about Ernst Lubitsch on a list I read (it was a sideways reference, but got me curious)... so I went to the library and found this movie. So great! It is all charm, wit, and sweetness, plus really funny -- not a bad combination. And in a weird coincidence I had also put Silk Stockings on hold a couple of weeks before. Silk Stockings, it turns out, is the musical (Cole Porter!) version of Ninotchka. I was looking at the back of the DVD and saw that that it was ANOTHER movie about a Russian envoy in Paris and thought "what are the odds?" before I noticed the huge "MUSICAL VERSION OF NINOTCHKA" type right above it. I haven't watched it yet, but it will be fun to watch them both fairly close together.

friday request

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Friday, April 07, 2006
dear lords of the internet, please be so kind as grant me the following:

+the ability to read minds (not forever -- just for a couple of hours, I swear!)

+the ability to fold time so I can get this project done TODAY, instead of letting it flop over into tomorrow since I was given (an unasked for) extension. Tomorrow is for the beach!

+do my laundry.

a very reasonable person thinking unreasonable thoughts (which would be much more tolerable in CLEAN CLOTHES!)

four, five, six! (a spring mix)

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006
I've been working on this since my sister made a request last week. When I realized that today was 4/5/6, I knew that there was no better day to make myself finish it for the name alone! Spring mixes are fun to put together. I'm not sure why, except maybe I'm just so glad it's not winter that everything seems more fun. In other numerological news, this is my 300th post on this blog.

1. Monkey Song -- Bunky -- What's not to love?? There is a SAXOPHONE and MONKEYS. One of which you never hear in pop music much anymore (I am sure I am just blithely unaware of a huge saxophone pop underground. Monkeys? They're everywhere.)
2. The Chimbley Sweep -- The Decemberists -- Spring cleaning/ chimbley sweeping. Makes sense, right?
3. Killer Queen -- Travis I am all amped up on the Queen covers because of Livewire the other day. IT IS FUN! The lyrics don't make much sense, but that's never been a deal breaker for me. Geisha Minor indeed.
4. Do You Want To -- Franz Ferdinand -- this was the one specific request that Bec made, because she likes to listen to it in the car and drive too fast. I like it because it is so outrageously arrogant, snotty, and 17 year-old dirty. (perfect ingredients for driving too fast!) "lucky, lucky, you're so lucky"
5. Just Can't Get Enough -- Depeche Mode -- it's true. this song is like crack! "When I'm with you baby/ I go out of my head/ I just can't get enough (just can't get enough)/ we slip and slide as we fall in love/ and I just can't seem to get enough of you"
6. When My Boy Walks Down the Street-- Magnetic Fields -- it just seems springy. Maybe it's the whole new kinds of weather, or butterflies turning into people, or something. "grand pianos crash together/ when my boy walks down the street/ there are whole new kinds of weather/when he walks with his new beat"
7. Springtime in New York -- Jonathan Richman For some reason this didn't work on last year's spring mix, but it was too good to leave off this year. One of my favorite bits is "Springtime in New York /when it's May and the leaves are on the trees/ when demolishing a building brings the smell of 1890 to the breeze" because it it so evocative and specific.
8. Be Gentle with Me -- The Boy Least Likely To (coincidental side note: they just played here last night with James Blunt!) This is a chimey bell-ringing, banjo-riffic indie bit of loveliness. (more death talk, though. but cheerful!) " so just be gentle with me (I'm not as young as I was)/ and I'll be gentle with you (I'm not as brave as I thought)/ cause my heart gets broken so easily/ so just be gentle (be gentle) with me"
9. Dear Old Greenland -- Andrew Bird -- I have recently gone on at length about how much this song pleases me, so I will keep it brief: I love it, and needed to hear it again RIGHT NOW.
10. Skullcrusher Mountain -- Jonathan Coulton I defy you not to like a song that starts out "welcome to my secret lair on skullcrusher mountain." I think you would've already had your heart removed by a mad scientist not to... Jonathan Coulton has an awesome website with this song and others available. This is from "Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow")
11. You Owe Me One -- ABBA sounds like classic ABBA, except I had never heard it before! It showed up on an mp3 blog a couple of months ago and is FUN. "uh huh, um hmm/ look at what you've done/ I'm missing all the fun/ baby, you owe me one"
12. Penelope -- Of Montreal -- this song just makes me giddy. It has its own sort of psychedelic Alice in Wonderland/ dream-logic /word-salad sense, but if a person came up to me on the street and said any of it I would assume someone forgot their meds and I would reach for my taser, if only I had a taser. (there is a sloth balloon! I could never taser someone singing about a sloth balloon) You can read the lyrics here, but trust me when I say it is best to hear it. (I cannot stop whispering the word "calendar," which no doubt has people on the street wondering if I forgot MY meds and reaching for their tasers. Clearly, we are too taser happy in this country. I am just under the Penelope influence!)
13. Loopy Loopy Love -- The Brunettes -- this was a last minute adjustment to the playlist, but it totally belongs. Go here to read all about them (and you can listen to all their albums streaming... this song is from Mars loves Venus) How can you not love a song that says "I'm goin' loopy loopy over love (loopy loopy love)/ I'm acting stupid stupid over love (stupid stupid love)/gonna kill me a cupid (cause a cupid causes love)"?
14. Fille Atomique -- Nous Non Plus -- this song is completely irresistible, and completely in French. I only understand a handful of words, but it doesn't matter! Singing along knows no language barrier if you are me and alone in the room.
15. Between The Lines -- Sambassadeur some indie pop tambourine jangle to recover from all the jumping around and singing French words I don't understand. "wish I was able to see what you see/ you turn all the words into poetry..... so I close my eyes and focus on whatever's been in my mind/ and I try to find a sign, but I never learned to read between the lines."
16. Chariot -- Page France -- I am pretty sure this is one of those stealth death songs, but it is just so jaunty... (lots of ringing bells, tambourines, and of course end of the world imagery). ... let our ribs return to dust...
17. Singular Girl -- Old 97's -- version WITH the teeth of the hydra, of course. "talkin' to you girl, is like long division, yeah" YEAH!
18. Popular Mechanics For Lovers -- Beulah I like this song lots, not least of all because the main character (it is a sort of mini-novel/movie) offers to rewrite parts of the relationship that didn't work. " Did you forget to read the script? /There was never a role for him/ It was always you and me, just me" and then a great Magnetic fields shout out! "I heard he wrote you a song/ But so what?/ Some guy wrote 69/And one just ain’t enough"
19. I Melt With You -- Modern English -- it was between this and the excellent Nouvelle Vague cover, but I decided the original was best for spring! There's nothing you and I won't do/ I'll stop the world and melt with you... this song is SO 80's, but also SO GREAT!
20. All These Things That I've Done -- The Killers I admit that I may still be under the influence of the video where the band is striding around a Las Vegas trailer park in cowboy outfits (it has a certain loopy charm). But it also has an 80's vibe which fits with a few other things on this mix and is fun to sing along to.

time change!

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Monday, April 03, 2006
My problem (# 234a) -- I mean to do a thing (it could be almost anything), and I really do have every intention of following through and things go well for a while.. but then maybe it starts to fall off due to some emergency (imagined or otherwise), or boredom, or a new project, or laziness, or the relative position of Venus to Neptune AND SO ON. It is tiresome, I tell you what.

If you don't know this feeling, I envy you. It seems like most of my time is spent getting BACK ON TRACK because I have wandered off YET AGAIN. The thing that I've finally figured out is that you can't beat yourself up too much for the wandering off. All you can do is try not to wander so far, and get back on track as soon as you can. Which is all the lengthy preamble (I love the word preamble) to....

Things I've said (and meant) before, but it is time to say them again:
I am going to be more timely with updates! Maybe it's spring, maybe it's the time change, maybe it's coded messages in the newspaper -- but I feel like I've got my legs back under me again. Things that seemed like they would be a mess forever just a week ago are sorting themselves out. HOORAY! Anyway -- it is my hope and plan to be a more consistent blog updater. Good thing I figured this out early in the month, because as we all know, April is the month of Wordstock. And, as it turns out, the 10th anniversary of National Poetry Month! If you go here, they are doing a poem/postcard for every day in the month of April.