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behind bars

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Friday, June 30, 2006

My good blog intentions fell by the wayside this week. I would like to have a great excuse, like maybe being trapped in a Man in the Iron Mask style jail cell with a view of the Columbia river...okay, on second thought that's not the kind of excuse I would like to have. Anyway, this picture is from a couple of weeks ago in Mosier, Oregon. (that's Washington state visible through the bars.) I went on a daytrip with my sister and a friend, and one of the stops was the Mosier Twin Tunnels, which were at one time part of the old Historic Columbia River Highway.

instructions for a non-manic monday

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Monday, June 26, 2006
What would Prince do? This is my new favorite question!

be funky (don't try, just be)

listen to the groove, y'all. let it unwind your mind

think purple. no, more purple than that. PURPLE!

embrace inner paisley enigma

talk so sexy

be more fluid in interpretations of the sacred and profane

Get that Ph.D in Advanced Body Movin'

put the (eye) in fine!

don't care what they say

speak your mind (either in a straightforward fashion, or in crazy cryptic style)

find reasons to say "to be around you is so all right, you're sheer perfection"

smoke them all with intellect and savoir-faire

walk in through the out door

of course this is just a SMALL selection of the greater collected wisdom of Prince, but it's a start for this Monday.

...but I'm telling you anyway

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

+I got up at 5:30 on a SUNDAY (5:30 on any day is early for me, to be honest) to go on an 8k walk with Blondie, who has been hassling me forever to do one of these events with her. I'm so glad I did, even though my ass is sore now! (it was all downhill) It started early, but it is fun to walk down the middle of city streets and stop in the intersection to take pictures. like this one from the vista bridge!

+the sugar skull skirt is almost finished -- all that remains to be done is hand stitching the waistband. It makes me laugh just looking at it, which is generally a good sign. Although laughing maniacally to myself while wearing this skirt is probably not going to further my sanity campaign. but it cracks me up!

+dude is a gender neutral term. Accept it, embrace it -- it just is. Oh, all right! I just looked at the Wikipedia Dude Entry, and it would appear that it is increasingly becoming gender neutral, but may not, in fact, be there yet. "dudette" is just so lame.

+Closer by Nine inch Nails and Help! by the Beatles are thematically similar. This makes me wonder about explicit vs. implicit lyrics and the effectiveness of both. (this deep thought brought to you by ipod randomosity, and my brain currently overheating due to the outside temperature of 100000 degrees. 101 degrees, whatever. the result is liquid brains either way.)

+Library Thing is a site that caught my eye recently. It's sort of like flickr for your home library. I haven't joined up yet (talk about another way to use up HOURS of time!), but it looks pretty interesting...

+sounds I always associate with summer (a selection):
air conditioner

+ saw a preview on Wednesday of the movie Wordplay, which was fun but not, I think, absolutely necessary to see on the big screen. My favorite part was probably Jon Stewart trash talkling Will Shortz, the editor of the NYT crossword puzzle. Smart and funny -- is there is a better combination? I learned that some of the best competitve crossword puzzle players (doers? people?) are musicians or mathematicians since they are adept at instantly translating information from one form to another, AND that the black spaces in a puzzle are the same right side up as upside down.

+ the neighbors are sitting out on their back patio with all the lights on and the radio playing. I don't mind at 11:30, but if they're still at it at 2AM, I will Not Be Pleased. Of course the light shines right in my bedroom window and the radio is audible throughout the house. Is it wrong that I miss the former owner of the house who was SO QUIET and sort of strange (I actually thought he had bond-villain tendancies for a while)? his DOG was even quiet. Unlike the cujo-style dog that this family has. Have I mentioned that the boys (aged EVIL) like to climb up on top of their shed thing and shoot tiny plastic balls over the fence at the cats? So, while I appreciate that it is hot and most certainly cooler outside than in, I do not appreciate the radio, the lights, and the tiny plastic balls. It is possible the heat is making me slightly cranky, or it is possible that they are kind of assholish. I'm going to go stand in some cold water in the bathtub and think about this and other important matters.

whirling into summer

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Thursday, June 22, 2006
I was going to write a hooray for summer type post, but I have become overwhelmed with thoughts of the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey and Egypt. I find whirling as a form of devotion fascinating and beautiful. Contemplating mystery and beauty -- there are worse ways to start summer.

Here's a piece about the Dervishes from the novel The Fiery Pantheon by Nancy Lemann. (to give some set up, the characters are Grace and Walter, and Grace has finally decided to let Walter take her out on a date. (they happen to be traveling around the world and are presently in Turkey.) The back story makes a lot more sense in context, but the Whirling, I think, stands fine on its own.)

The date was still not over. Finally he took her to see the whirling dervishes, her dream.

For it may be that the Lord will raise thee to a praised estate. It was Grace's aim to attend the Whirling Dervish Convention in Konya on July 17. It was actually a festival but she called it a convention. On that day the dervishes dance in the Sports Palace. But she was unable to negotiate the trip to the remote and obscure W.D. Convention and had to acquiesce to the level of just going to the W.D. museum in Istanbul. There they arrived to be stunned by the information that the dervishes were dancing then. Stunned because they are elusive, for only the graced to see.

They wore black robes over starched white tunics and long wide skirts tied at the vest with one thin sash, and tall tan hats or turbans. They shuffled slowly round and round a circle bowing to the master. It was boring. Then suddenly just as her eyes were about to glaze over there was a loud clap and one by one they started whirling, first with their arms wrapped around their chests, then faster in a graceful motion they released their arms and flew them up toward God, whirling madly, using one foot as a pivot. It went on for an hour or so and the feat was that they didn't fall from vertigo. They whirled around so fast that each became almost invisible.

While whirling they are in a praised estate, conducting a form of prayer, literally trying to be closer to God.

The date was over, but the ecstasy was not.

from The Fiery Pantheon by Nancy Lemann

ultimate bathtub

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006
So, I was thinking about mix CDs recently (as one does) and realized that most of mine have been made for The Car. Meaning, they are mostly filled with songs that are usually fast, (no sleeping!), and loud (to counteract road noise). These mixes are super fun to make, but I now have a new challenge. The Ultimate Bathtub Challenge, to be precise. Bathtub music is tricky and has to serve so many purposes -- I have to be able to read while it's playing, but it can't just be wallpaper music because sometimes I don't read and just THINK. So it has to be good for reading and thinking, and it shouldn't be too fast or too loud because that sort of defeats the relaxing purposes of a bath. I don't want it to be like those "Ultra Chill" collections either -- some of that stuff is alright, but I don't want to fall asleep and drown. (drowning in the bathtub -- not really how I want to go.) British Hippies fit the bill (Donovan, Nick Drake, Damien Rice), but American Hippies or jam bands are RIGHT OUT because they annoy the hell out of me (which seems antithetical to the soothing purposes of a bath). Hmmm, I think some Andrew Bird might work -- (maybe from Weather Systems). Some of the non-emo stuff from The OC soundtracks might work...

Anyway, if anyone has any Ultimate Bathtub suggestions please feel free to make them! If only I had Ultimate Bathtub vol. 1 done already -- I could think about what goes on vol.2 while in the tub!

how to groove on life

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

This cartoon really captured my attention when I first saw it a million years ago. I think the advice is as good now as it was then! The last panel (click on the image to bring up a bigger, readable version) is SO TRUE.

(Thanks to Leslie who provided me with a copy when I couldn't find the one I cut out of the paper FIFTEEN YEARS AGO.)

When the Messenger is Hot

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Friday, June 16, 2006
by Elizabeth Crane #16

I love short stories. They are compact little worlds of words that often seem to take more risks than longer fiction. If one's not working out, just read a little further and it will either redeem itself or be over! Unfortunately, there is a downside: that bittersweet moment while reading one you really love and thinking "I only have 3 more pages!" There are worse reading problems to have.

Read these stories. Not all of them worked for me (I found certain specific traits of the various main characters to be distractingly similar), but many of them did. One acted as a giant magnifying glass on an aspect of myself that I thought I had safely secured under a rock and was thereby free to ignore. That's no small feat (it was a heavy rock)! I'm not saying that everyone will get the magnifying glass, and I'm certainly not saying it would be for the same story... but I think you should read them for yourself and find out. Remember -- they're SHORT! Read one, read ten, read them all.

insulting to women, chickens, and sandwiches

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Thursday, June 15, 2006
What the hell is wrong with Carl's Jr.? Their newest ad features a clucking chicken (only shown below the neck) walking around with a black bar over its chest (to censor giant breasts) while stripper music plays. WHAT THE HELL?!? The ad with the chicken going in to get a boob job is bad enough, but this is beyond bad. (if I were Carl's Jr, I don't know that I would want to hang a light on the fact that chickens are fed so many hormones in order to get breasts the size of TURKEYS, but I guess the world has come to the place where big boobs = good no matter what).

When did it become a great idea to sexualize a CHICKEN that is about to be killed and EATEN to sell a SANDWICH? Is it working? I'm afraid to find out. I thought the Paris Hilton eating a hamburger in a bikini commercial was pretty ridiculous, but I could understand how it might appeal to their target demographic (which is the same as everyone's apparently -- men age 16-34). What demographic thinks stripper chickens taste better? Ugh! It just grosses me out. They're exploiting these disturbing sex-violence-fast-food messages in a really egregious way. I know it's probably supposed to be Dude Humor, but it's just not funny. (I'm not a dude, but I'm saying it's not funny as someone who has watched and enjoyed JACKASS on more than one occasion. I don't think I'm being missish!)

at the park

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Thursday, June 15, 2006
When I first started walking every day, I wandered hither and yon trudging across busy streets and into new neighborhoods. For the last few months I have settled into a routine where I walk up to the local park, then walk around inside the park. It's nice because there are trees (now with leaves!) so when it rains I don't get that wet and if it's sunny I don't get that hot, I don't have to worry about traffic, and I can watch the many dogs that are there every day freak out with joy as they chase disgustingly slobbery tennis balls and the most skilled dog-evading squirrels around. There are also other people there. Just like anyplace, there is a whole park subculture and hierarchy of customs, some of which I am still figuring out. (some runners are v. smiley/wavey, other ones are... not.)

After a while I began to recognize the regulars (well, the clockwise regulars). Since I always have my ipod on, I am more of a nod and smile person than a stop and chat person. This is helpful when I feel like making up histories for people -- no pesky FACTS to ruin my fun. (I realize that this is probably pathological in some way. Whatever, is what I say to that.) Mainly, Park People come in two categories -- runners or with dog. There is some overlap, but not that much. Here are some that I have come to recognize.

The Philosopher -- (with dog). The philosopher is tall and thin and wears his grey hair in a long ponytail. In the winter, he wears a cape and a deerstalker cap. Okay, okay, he wears a nylon jacket and a deerstalker cap. In the spring/summer he wears... a straw boater! But his natty headgear is not where he gets his name. That would be from the ever present PIPE. He also seems to stand around and talk A LOT.

Garden Gnome -- (runner) I worried that I wouldn't recognize the Garden Gnome when he shed the red hooded sweatshirt he ran in for all of March and April. No worries! The long pointy beard seems to be enough of a clue. (I feel compelled to point out that the Garden Gnome has always been very nice to me, unlike...)

Goldilocks -- (with dog/walker) I know they say that people look like their dogs. I find this to generally be UNTRUE, but there are instances... I'm not saying Goldilocks is unattractive or dog-like, I'm just saying that she and her golden retriever have exactly the same hairstyle and color.

Derek Zoolander -- (runner) the park version of DZ has a leather man of the Village People mustache, but if this guy doesn't practice "Blue Steel" in front of the mirror at least 200 times a day, I will eat my sneakers.

the Running Man -- (with dog -- kidding! runner). I would guess that the Running Man is in his late 50's early 60's. He wears a black sweat suit and runs, flat-out, the whole time he is in the park. He doesn't look like a runner, but he is. The only time I ever saw the Running Man stop running was when he went to give the Dog Catcher (literal, I'm afraid) a piece of his mind. This was two minutes after the Running Man said his first and only words to me: "Can you believe our tax dollars are paying for this?"

OCD Spaniel --(actual dog) Poor dog. At first I just thought he was chasing squirrels, but it turns out he was running to, and then around every tree in the park. He was very specific about the order. I guess I shouldn't pity him since he was clearly having a good, if sort of manic, time.

The Stage Parents -- (dog people) this retired couple has the cutest sheltie ever. The dog likes squirrels, but not nearly as much as they like pointing them out to her and giving her a nudge in the right direction. I am starting to think that they're the ones who really want to chase squirrels, but they haven't quite worked out how to do it themselves without raising eyebrows.

HRH the Duchess of Perambulator -- imagine the queen mother. Now imagine the queen mother in a mismatched sweat suit, birkenstocks, and a crocheted pink bowler hat. Now imagine her pushing around a stroller with the world's fattest dachshund in it. no, really!

There are Many More, but I will save The Patrician and my theory about his furniture being built from bricks of $100 dollar bills for another day.

I love a parade (and other notes from a good weekend)

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Monday, June 12, 2006

I know it's cheesy and kind of dorky but I do love a parade. Saturday was the Grand Floral Parade -- the showpiece of Portland's annual Rose Festival. (speaking of dorky, I personally have nothing on the city itself which 1) is home to creatures known as Royal Rosarians who wear straw boaters, white gloves, summer weight cream wool suits, half CAPES, and are "ambassadors to the city" 2) claims to turn into the mythical realm of ROSARIA which is then ruled over by a girl from a local high school (and has been since the late 1800's). I don't think she can enact any legislation, though. she's more of a ribbon cutter and parade waver.)

It didn't even rain! Bec, Leslie and I have been meeting up to watch the parade for the past few years (which also corresponds to how many years we've been volunteering to help decorate floats.) We meet at the Slacker End of the parade, which is the best parade plan of all time! That sleeping on the sidewalk for a good spot nonsense is for SUCKERS. If you go to the end of the parade route you can sleep in, find easier parking, and traffic is better when it's time to go because everyone else has already gone! (caveat: if you go to the Slacker End, don't go to the VERY END. If it is a hot day, all of the marching bands will be So Finished and sometimes the floats jump the curb on that last corner which causes a lot of distracting screaming.)

I have to say, my favorite thing about the parade is probably marching bands. As a new generation of band directors comes of age, I'm finding there is a lot more AC/DC and KISS than one might expect, which is kind of fun in that "is that? Yeah, I think so!" way. I also have a soft spot for the equestrian entries -- not so much the rodeo princesses but the draft horses, the dancing horses, etc. The parade has a certain timeless quality that I enjoy. People have been parading around for thousands of years, and I take a little comfort that we are doing it still. For some reason the flag corps (or whatever you call the girls in generally unfortunate uniforms who twirl flags in front of or behind the marching band) really put me in mind of medieval tournaments. It's spectacle, it's cheeseball, it's local and universal all at once. It's wonderful.

The rest of the weekend was also great for many reasons, not least of which was finding this sober, subtle and discreet fabric which I am going to turn into a skirt. The sun was shining (alas, it is raining today), there were popsicles in the freezer, good music on the stereo, a good book in my hand, I got to spend time with friends, and even got just a tiny bit of color from the sun. (I was wearing sunscreen!) All in all a thoroughly pleasant way to pass a weekend in June.

ten from the happy list

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006
I'm the first to admit that lately it's been all wah wah obsess obsess worry worry obsess/worry STRESS cakes here at law of sympathy. (In my head, anyway -- I'm sure it's spilling out all over) HOWEVER, I am happy to report that things seem to be (agonizingly, slowly, but still) turning themselves around. I decided that I could help this process along by making myself a huge long playlist for my ipod of songs that make me happy. BRILLIANT. Possibly my best idea ever!! (certainly better than most.) Everyone should do it -- even if you don't have an ipod -- make a tape or a CD or whatever you have to do! This is about my third day with it, and it seems to be WORKING (although I can't discount the fact that the sun has been shining. that helps too). Since I love lists and blabbing about songs, here's a random sampling of 10 (out of almost 200):

1) Malediction -- Stephen Malkmus. Okay, okay -- malediction means CURSE. Way to kick off the happy fun times! But this has some fat and jolly wah wah's at the front. AND!! The first line is "So long, good bye to the nervous apprehension/ I certainly won't miss ya/ my heart is unable to stay so unstable, no more."
Reason #2 this is a great song on a happy list when you're considering major life changes -- "The road to rejection is better than no road at all". Of course there are some strings toward the end of the song which is just like frosting on a cupcake to me. (hint: DELICIOUS)

2) Golden Years -- David Bowie. I have shameless love for this song. Is it the finger snaps/hand claps? the wopwopwops? I don't know, but it gives me a little happy thrill every time I hear it. "Don't let me hear you say that life's taking you nowhere, aaaaangel"

3) Alright -- Supergrass. So jaunty and brit-poppy (and happy). They describe any number of disasters, but it all ends with "but we're alright!

4) Little Ghost -- The White Stripes. Okay, any song that says "the first moment that I met her/ I did not expect a specter" is going to be loved by me by virtue of those lines alone. But when you add in the whole loopy story of this ghost/human love connection... well, it's irresistible. Plus it has one of those great Jack White enigmatic pronouncements "no one else could see this apparition/ but because of my condition..." WHAT CONDITION???

5) Keep Fishin' -- Weezer. This one had the video with MUPPETS. And this isn't why I put it on the list, but I find it's interesting that these lyrics are here: "You'll never do/ The things you want/ If you don't move/ and get a job" HA!!

6) Oh! -- Sleater- Kinney. ooh, this one is so fun to sing along with! "the way I feel when you call my name (oh oh oh, oh oh oh)/ makes me go crazy to sane (oh oh oh, oh oh oh)"

7) Genius of Love -- Tom Tom Club. I just talked about this one not that long ago, so I'll only say IT STILL WORKS!

8) Foxy Lady -- Jimi Hendrix. This one makes me LAUGH because I snuck it on a mix for my sister once. I told her I put a "special" song on there for her and she'd know it when she heard it. And she did! I know it has a long and storied history outside of movies made from SNL sketches, but what makes me particularly happy to hear this is imagining Garth doing his Foxy Lady dance before he asked the donut girl out. (from the cinematic masterpiece Wayne's World)

9) Evil and a Heathen -- Franz Ferdinand. hee hee! Another seemingly inappropriate song for a happy list -- but today IS 6/6/6 AND this song has such a strong drum beat that it will pound out any bad moodiness. Plus, who doesn't like gleefully singing "I'm evil like you!"?

10) Friday I'm In Love -- The Cure. this song is a happy maker on so many levels! First of all, there is a LIST (days of the week), secondly, it's just great and that's that. "I can never get enough/ enough of this stuff!"

hmmm. those are all pretty rocking. Next ten I'll try to pick some that don't make the rear-view mirror shake.

The Circus of Dr. Lao

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Monday, June 05, 2006
by Charles Finney #15

Hmmm. I read this AGES ago now, and had to take it back to the library. This review is a pretty good one that seems to hit the highlights. For me, the hardest thing to overcome while reading was the casual racism. I know it was written in 1935, but some things will stop me dead on the page no matter when they were written.

What's stuck with me in the 6 weeks or so since I've read it is the blase reaction of the townsfolk of Abalone to the truly bizarre and/or wonderful things they encounter at this circus. Just a little scratching reminder at the back of my brain to not take delightful things for granted. Also, the illustrations are totally trippy.

I understand there was a movie made from this book. Has anyone seen it? Was it any good?

stolen sweets, so tasty!

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Sunday, June 04, 2006
Live music, I LOVE YOU!!! Last night Bec, Martina and I went to the CD release party for The Stolen Sweets. Let me begin by saying that it was terrifically fun. Once we got to the theater, we noticed that there were some women in really fantastic dresses. These turned out to be mostly the Yowzas who carried around cigarette boxes full of CDs and other merchandise during the show so if you had to have your CD right then, you could do so. It was a really happy, high energy crowd, in no small part because a lot of the audience members seemed to be friends or family of the band. In any case, it was not a bad crowd to be in. (although the EXTREMELY TALL man in front of me did not engender any tender feelings)

The Stolen Sweets play hot vocal jazz from the 30's and I've always liked this era and type of music. It just sounds so warm and round and human. Maybe it's the guitar, or the stand up bass, or the harmonies, or some other inexplicable thing that just makes me happy. Whatever it is, The Stolen Sweets have it! Unlike some groups doing music from the past, this doesn't sound gimmicky or an attempt to jump on some trend. This band clearly loves the music they are playing. They're a six-piece group, with three female singers, two guitar players (one of whom also sings the guy songs), and a bass player. For this performance they were joined for certain songs by a drummer, a violinist, and a cello player. The album (Shuffle Off To Buffalo) sounds great, but I think they sounded even better live. They performed all of the songs on the album, in order. With added patter, which you just don't get on a CD! Once they got going, some people started dancing in the front. Poor hippie girl dancer. She was all by herself for a while, doing her unique hybrid of the hula and the robot dance (right in front of the video camera, I might add). Soon she was joined by the hippie boy dancer, who was more of a stand in place groover. But shortly after that several couples came up and started swing dancing. (the hippie dancers attempted dancing together briefly, but it was clearly not where their respective dancing muses resided.) My favorite couple was the woman in the striped shirt and the man with a baby strapped to his chest. Way to get the kid involved with music early on! (the baby seemed perfectly content, by the way.)

You may be familiar with characters like Minnie the Moocher and Smokey Joe, but do you know The Sentimental Gentleman from Georgia? What about Charlie Two-Step? These and other characters (like Sweet Lorraine) all appear. The Stolen Sweets are working with songs that had been performed by The Boswell Sisters (who I have since learned recorded songs intended for men to sing. Saucy!) Some of them were familiar to me (Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea), and some of them I'd never even heard of (When I Take My Sugar to Tea, etc.). In any case, if you like that sound, do check out their CD and make it to the next show if you can! You won't be sorry.

The opening act was 3 Leg Torso, and they were also fun! (5 piece -- violin, accordion, bass, and TWO very busy percussionists) I'm hoping Martina writes them up, because she plays the violin AND bought one of their CD's, so I'm sure she can put it all together better than I can.