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halloween hodgepodge

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006
I had vague but ambitious plans for my halloween post. Last year it was The Raven, but that was last year and I don't quite feel up to the tintinabulation of The Bells. (despite the gush of euphony that so voluminously wells, which is normally something I find irresistible.)

Then I thought I could do an Edward Gorey post, but that sort of fell apart when I couldn't get the scanner to do what I wanted it to do, nor could I find the specific images I wanted. (I did find this image online, which isn't particularly creepy or scary but I do think it captures the essence of his oddness. I looked up the word Armoracia, because it seems like it might somehow be related to amour which makes sense since the young lady seems discombobulated in a manner not unfitting to that condition, but it turns out that armoracia is HORSERADISH, which just makes me love this picture even more.) At any rate, even though this does not feature Basil being eaten by bears or similar, it has the moody sky and straight-faced sturdy weirdness that I appreciate so much about his work.

I'll be keeping the Gorey post in mind for the future, but it's not going to happen today. (although in my brief research, I did find links here and here for free Gorey fonts.)

After Gorey didn't pan out, I remembered this really cute picture I have of myself at age 4 in a witch costume, which would be an acceptable holiday post. However I can't find it, so we're all spared that little trip down memory lane (for now -- when I find it, look out).

But these few random bits aren't enough to qualify for a true hodgepodge, so let's consider Karen Elizabeth Gordon. She is the author of the most fun/halloween appropriate grammar book ever written. It is called The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager and the Doomed. It is entertaining in addition to helpful. Who can resist a reference book that states the following in its introduction? "This is a dangerous game I'm playing, smuggling the injunctions of grammar into your cognizance through a melange of revolving lunatics kidnapped into this book. Their stories are digressions toward understanding, a pantomime of raucous intentions in the linguistic labyrinth. By following them through this rough and twisting terrain you will be beguiled into compliance with the rules, however confounding those rules may appear to be. Learning is less a curse than a distraction."

Revolving lunatics!? I'm there!

She has also written Torn Wings and Faux Pas: A Flashbook of Style, a Beastly Guide Through the Writer's Labyrinth and The Disheveled Dictionary: A Curious Caper Through Our Sumptuous Lexicon among other helpful guides. I'm not going to lie -- if you want straight- ahead-devoid-of-whimsy advice, Strunk & White's The Elements of Style is probably the way to go. If you feel that your usage needs are better met by lovelorn robot or gargoyle examples, do please consider Karen Elizabeth Gordon. Or better yet, have both.

What kitchen sink halloween post would be complete without a picture of Jack Skellington?

The Givenchy Code

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Sunday, October 29, 2006
by Julie Kenner #30

This is a fun book, but I feel like I need to qualify the fun. This makes me wonder if the reader feels the need to qualify, is it really fun? The answer in this instance is yes. After all, there are many kinds of fun, and one of them is that dizzy feeling caused by frequent eye-rolling and rapid page turning.

Let's start with the cover -- for a chick lit book (and oh, how I loathe that term, but it is what it is) this is fantastic. No cartoons! No shopping bags! A cool torn-paper effect with just some made-up eyes to indicate the chapters spent on grooming within. Best of all is the acid green color with binary code superimposed over everything. It calls out to my childhood girl-spy fantasies, I suppose. Anyway, somebody in the marketing department did a really great job.

On the cover there is also the promise that "Cryptography is the new black." IF ONLY, is what I say. Here's where the eye-rolling begins. This story is a mess, but maybe "mess" is too strong. Hideously compressed is probably more fair. The gist, and I don't think I'm giving anything away here, is that our heroine, Mel Prescott, gets sucked into a real life version of an online game called PSW (for Play. Survive. Win.) in which (through some vague hand-waving) there is an assassin out to kill her, a dude sent to protect her, and a bunch of clues that she must solve in a timely manner... or DIE. (Do you suppose the guy sent to protect her is a tortured but handsome noble ex-marine of few words, but much sexy action? You suppose correctly.)

Anyway, Mel is a smarty pants with an interest in cryptography (which is cool -- I actually wish they'd spent more time on code stuff) who is also a brand-snob shopping addict who works a million jobs to support her 5th Avenue habit. This second aspect became tiresome. Not because I'm anti-shopping, or anti-girlie stuff at all, but because... well, because it seemed cribbed from the fall-fashion issue of Vogue and Sex and the City then stapled with the edges crooked to her smarts in order to approximate depth. It was "blah blah Brand Name, blah blah I LOVE SHOES, blah blah, enigma machine."

Speaking of the city... this novel takes place in New York and features the most superficial rendering of the city I've read in a while. There is no real sense of place, except for things that could be copied out of a not particularly inspired guide book. (Look, it's the Statue of Liberty, it's Grand Central Station, it's the Plaza Hotel, it's St. Patrick's Cathedral, it's... Madison Avenue.) Actually, this reminds me in some ways of a movie novelization! I think the story wouldn't seem so thin if there was more time spent on grounding the ridiculous plot in a real setting, which I think could be done visually. Anyway, this reads like an awful lot of bitching for something I did enjoy. It is just about the perfect bathtub book, and I mean that as a sincere compliment. (it's not too heavy, it stays open, the paper is the kind that dries really fast if your fingers are wet, the chapters are really short if you decide to take a nap, etc.)

obligatory nanowrimo post

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Friday, October 27, 2006
To nano or not to nano... After giving it some serious thought, I think this year is a not to nano year for me. One reason is that I really REALLY need to be working on my applications for school and studying for the GRE. (Although I have half-convinced myself that library school is a foolish pursuit as well. Maybe I just need to embrace my foolish pursuits instead of fighting them all the time.) Another reason is more directly related to writing. The first year I participated in nano I didn't know if 50,000 words in 30 days was something I could do. I'd never written 50,000 words on a single project before in my LIFE, but I wanted to try. And I did it! It was a complete shock and rush to me that I did it, but I did.

I never finished the story (I did sketch out the ending), but I met the word requirement and the deadline. There are great chunks of it that I cringe to remember, but there are parts that aren't so bad. The important thing to me was that I finished that year and also for the next two years. Now I have three of these mutant creatures sitting on my hard drive, which is fine... but I haven't given them a lot of thought or started anything else either. Where is my drive? Where is my ambition? In my (feeble) defense, I have been blogging consistently (I did say it was feeble!) and I also write in a journal almost every day, but that doesn't really count. (To me, for me -- I'm making no statements or judgments about anyone else's writing habits or motivations.)

The whole idea of writing is fraught for me. (I'm such a delicate flower...) I've been writing in one form or another my whole life, but always as a lark or with the caveat that I'm just fooling around, because if I really tried, it may become apparent that I suck. I know this is a familiar song to a lot of people: if I don't try very hard, I can conveniently avoid discovering whether or not I could be any good if I did. Of course this notion that trying is all it takes to find out one way or another doesn't hold up against something ELSE I truly believe, which is natural ability or affinity will only get you so far -- what gets you the rest of the way is a lot of hard work and dedication to improving your skills. This is but one of many contradictory thought processes constantly running here in the Brain of Jen.

One of the things that keeps echoing in my skull is Neil Gaiman's writing advice. He gets asked a lot about what to do if one wants to be a writer, and his advice is the most simple and of course the most difficult to follow that I've ever read: "You write. You finish what you write." It doesn't really get more direct than that, does it? So, I have these three nano creations which I have varying amounts of pride and fondness for, but I wouldn't say that any of them are finished, except in the sense that they are at least 50K words long and were written in 30 days. And that's yet another reason why I won't be participating this year. I've proven to myself that it is physically and mentally possible for me to churn out the required number of words in the required number of days, but I haven't proven to myself that I have the tenacity to stick with something and freaking FINISH IT to the point where I could let someone read it without getting the vapors and needing a fainting couch. Nano can't help me with that. Maybe nothing can and I should just start shopping for the couch...

I do love the feeling of manic camaraderie that Nano engenders. Being involved in this insane venture with thousands of other people at the same time is a lot of fun and I may return to it next year, but this year I think I'm going to sit it out. In the meantime, though, here (for the first time ever in public) is some information about my three languishing efforts:

With all three, I took the advice of nano founder Chris Baty and chose a genre which I not only enjoyed reading, but had read widely. My three projects all fall into the category I would call "romantic adventure." Early stand-alone Elizabeth Peters novels are old favorites of mine, and I thought that it would be a style suited to my interests and temperament. (I barely have the patience to READ a detailed police procedural, for example, let alone perpetrate one. On the other hand, hunting for some crazy treasure while being chased by some crazy people in the company of a mysteriously attractive yet also crazy person? That's more like it!)

2003: I had such fun with this, but also made so many classic beginner mistakes! It's first person, which isn't a mistake (it's common for the genre) but I was twisting myself into pretzel-like contortions to make it clear that the heroine was not me! I see now, of course, that you can give as many contrary descriptors as you like, but it doesn't matter. They're all me -- even the whackaloons. (first person to say "what do you mean, "even" the whackaloons?" will be the recipient of some jen-delivered physical violence.) I also gave my two main characters names that sound too similar. So confusing!

I think this story has my favorite characters by far, and I still find the adventure I devised for them to be very fun and full of promise -- but I could NOT work out what made the two main characters click with each other -- without that the rest doesn't really matter. This is the story I have spent the most time on, to date. I went through at least one major revision, but it seemed like every time I tried to take on the main problem I just made it worse. Maybe enough time has passed that I'd be able to take a fresh look at it, but it's also possible that I'll never be able to work it out.

2004: When I finished this, I was convinced it was THE WORST piece of writing I had ever done in my life. I thought it was lost when I replaced my hard drive (since it was so terrible, I had made no permanent backup or even a print out), and I wasn't even that fussed about it. I was able to recover it and made myself read it through my fingers -- I now think it is actually the BEST of the three nano stories I've done. I'm not sure why I think that, since I don't like the characters as much and the story itself has major problems... but there's something there that draws me back to it. I think part of it is the locale (I set it in portland's old town/china town section which sits on top of a series of underground passages) and... well, even with all of the problems (there are MANY), I think it could be a lot of fun. This would probably be the easiest one for me to go back and work on since I was much less emotionally invested than in the first one. (this was the nano year that I started this blog!)

2005: I really like the IDEA of this story, but ultimately I don't think it maps as well onto the stand-alone romantic adventure template. This poor girl would need a series! I introduced a really complicated element (why? WHY???), and 30 days wasn't long enough for me to work out the kinks. I think this one also has potential to be fixed and interesting, but I'm least invested in this story. (Of course, I also haven't looked at it once since I finished it, so maybe it's not as bad as I remember.)

Anyway, there you have it. My nano career in vague, non-disclosing terms. Just writing this up has helped to clarify some of my ambivalence, which is something, I suppose.

edit: I have edited this post so many times (to clarify and de-stupidify as much as possible) that I could probably spend all of November just tweaking this! Post in haste, repent in leisure!

happy birthday

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

how cute is she? Happy Birthday, Bec! The thing that makes me laugh about this picture, is that she ALWAYS looked sweet and angelic when we were kids, but was, in fact, almost always plotting EVIL. (not that some of it wasn't justified... )

oh, it's a list of stuff

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006
+ Thursday is my sister's birthday! Happy Birthday, Bec!

+I finished and mailed my halloween cards today. For some reason they were a lot more (evil) fun for me this year than last. Mwahahahaha! I had to put extra postage on them and I didn't even care! It was worth it!

+Perhaps they were more fun because I finally have conceded to the season and have painted my toes the seasonally appropriate color known as Vampire State Building. Mostly because I love the name Vampire State Building, but the color is nice too. (and to tie this together with another item on this list, my sister gave me this polish for christmas a couple years ago -- she had to hunt all over to find it, and put on the card that it was from spike and dru!)

+Myers-Briggs typing: powerful tool (excuse me, "instrument") of self-knowledge, or tarted up horoscope? I am unsure, although I am apparently still safe to pursue library school according to "the instrument." To compare -- my myers briggs type , (that's right -- I put the J in judging!) and this week's Free Will Astrology horoscope. I think I prefer the horoscope -- it features costumes!

+I seem to be over the worst of my insomnia, but the celebrity dream cameos continue. Monday night featured Russ Tamblyn in a suit made out of sod (he was with someone else in a sod suit, but I can't remember who it was), and the night before that it was Will Ferrell delivering pizzas wearing red and silver sneakers that he would not shut up about while I was barefoot and trying to walk across a sheet of ice that wasn't ice. My questions: where the hell is Johnny Depp? Why does my brain hate me? However, my overriding sentiment remains "sleep, hooray!"

+ I was going to put some random television thoughts, but they are too many, so instead I will share some wisdom from The Givenchy Code : 1) Marines can't fight cancer. Or they can't fight cancer in other people and win. I'm not exactly clear on the details, but that seemed to be the thrust of it. 2) if you are a dude and in this book, your name has a 'y' in it. Stryker and Lynx, I kid you not. But, I am not full of complaints! It is serving its entertainment purposes admirably. I just finished reading an A.S. "humans are complicated and not very nice" Byatt short story collection and have been reading a lot of non-fiction (not deliberately, it just happened that way...) and this is light, rompy, and ridiculous. Sometimes, that's just the right combination.

spooky but jaunty

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Sunday, October 22, 2006
jack o'lantern

It's the Spooky Mix time of year! I have been thinking about this one for a while -- I would alternate working on it and the Indian Summer mix depending on the weather (rain: spooky/ sun: summer). this is not the Ultimate Spooky Songs mix or anything as final as that. I decided to make it short (13 unlucky songs!), and not really go out of my way to find anything that wasn't already on my computer, although I did purchase the Shankill Butchers from iTunes -- I have been meaning to get a physical CD (because the art is always so great) but haven't got around to it yet and I had to have it. I could probably make a bonus mix with a few of the more quietly creepy songs that ultimately didn't make the cut here. (admission: because of the biting song. I had to have it, and it influenced the rest.)

1. I Wanna Bite Ya -- PlanningToRock: This song... this song gives me that giddy euphoria that starts in the center of my chest and radiates outward. You know the kind where it seems like your neural net has unknit itself from whatever it was attached to and has re-made itself into an internal trampoline so you're all WOO HOO and bouncy, so much so that you might accidentally drop a brick on your foot and not even feel it due to neurons on trampoline duty, but you don't even mind because... WOO HOO? Yeah, it's like that for me with this song, and I'm not really sure why. Perhaps because it sounds like the fey but carnal love child of Glam Rock and Screamin' Jay Hawkins? Perhaps because of the gleefully perverse nature of the lyrics "I'll take a bite outta ya/ take a bite outta ya/ take a bite outta ya (I wanna bite you!)"? Perhaps it's just some atavistic combination of sounds... I don't know. Furthermore, I DON'T CARE! Just play it again and keep the smart remarks to yourself.

2. Black Magic -- Jarvis Cocker: At first I thought this sounded sort of Elvis Costello-y, but then maybe I thought that because Jarvis is wearing big Attractions-era Elvis glasses on the album art. Then I thought it actually kinda sounded like ... Tom Petty. (seriously! there are moments! and I CAN enumerate them if pressed.) Ultimately, it doesn't matter who I think it sounds like because there are spooky chiming bells, there is someone pounding away on a keyboard, there's some fuzzy guitar, there's a vaguely 80's hearkening 60's girl-groups feeling, there is black magic, and that's enough. It's true. "nothin' can compare to/ black magic, yeah yeah yeah!"

3. Mr. Punch -- Future Bible Heroes: Manic and freaky. Not unlike being trapped inside of some horror movie puppet show, but only for a few minutes so the scare is an enjoyable increased heart-rate instead of madness, despair and trying to fling yourself out into the audience which turns out to be comprised of pinwheel-eyed harlequin dolls with razor-sharp teeth and therefore not a viable exit. Good times!

4. They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh! -- Sufjan Stevens: Aww, what halloween mix would be complete with out a good zombie tune? this has lovely sweeping violins, a rousing zombie chorus, some sensitive and thoughtful zombie lyrics as well as some nice non-verbal "please don't eat my brains" wailing.

5. Nosy Neighbor -- The Ditty Bops: More creepy bells and chimes and violin... and getting rid of those pesky neighbors. I guess better to take care of it before they become zombies... "you'll disappear, not a trace to be found." I think it's slightly more sinister because they sound so sunny; like hearing Pollyanna sing about how many bodies the trunk of her car will hold.

6. Beware -- Andrew Bird and his Bowl of Fire: I couldn't leave this off -- it has the spoooooky violin, and then the wailing of "so, bewaaaaaaaaare, oh beware!" Safety first, is what I always say!

7. Shankill Butchers -- The Decemberists: Oooh -- this is delightful and frightful! I first heard this song in JANUARY when I saw Colin Meloy's solo performance. It is interesting to hear the final version vs. that early iteration. Colin's solo version was a lot more ramshackle and rollicking like a peg-legged maniac with a knife chasing you down the street, but this one is creepier and coiled up like the boogeyman behind the door with a cleaver.

8. Evil and a Heathen -- Franz Ferdinand: Those Franz Ferdinand boys aren't doing anything to make me love them less. Although I suppose it is possible that various members of the band keep bees or fly kites or other seemingly harmless hobbies, in my mind they exist only at night in a world of sharp tailoring and debauchery. (although I do recall reading about a karaoke excursion after a pdx show which involved lots of Everly Brothers songs, which I find extremely charming for some reason. Probably because it IS charming. But it was also at night, so it doesn't really disprove my theory. Besides, I'm sure the Everly Brothers could tell some stories!)

9. Little Ghost -- The White Stripes: "Can you scare me up a little bit of love?" I know I've mentioned this song before... but come on! It's so fun, and has a ghost and a mystery and one of my favorite song sound repetitions in recent memory... "The first moment that I met her/ I did not expect a spectre/ when I shook her hand I really shook a glove" Expect a spectre? My heart beats faster just thinking about it! and that's before we get into his mysterious "condition." Okay, maybe I'm just really easy, but what's not to love here?

10. Things Are Too Good (They're Bound To Go Bad): Marykate O'Neil: Finally! An ode to that sneaking suspicion that when things are going well... you shouldn't get too comfortable. Included because a) it's a fun song, and b) there is a laundry list of superstitions to ward off bad luck!

11. The Devil Himself -- Viva Voce: I think this is actually about the vagaries of recording contracts, but it has handclaps (!!!) and the chorus " hey now/ you're gonna get your blood sucked out!" so it doesn't seem like too much of a stretch...

12. Do They Know It's Halloween (Cadence Weapon remix) -- North American Hallow'een Prevention, Inc.: Hee hee! Celebrity-filled (including Beck and David Cross) benefit record to "save" the children from Halloween. "it's a mistake to be out when the ghosts are about/ it's Halloween!"

13. Fake Palindromes -- Andrew Bird: Let us not obsess about how this is the second Andrew Bird song on such a short mix, let us instead think on the fact that the man knows his way around some creepy! Any song that starts "my dewey-eyed Disney bride" and ends with..."I'm going to tie your wrists with leather and drill a tiny hole into your head" before spinning off into some opium-haze violin swirl seems like it belongs here. I will brook no arguments!

neon siren song of the poodle dog

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Saturday, October 21, 2006
Good Food

I have so many things I have been meaning to write about, but [insert one of many excuses here]. ANYWAY, update very soon which may or may not include nanoyesno rationales, my new barely in time spooky fall mix, thrilling tales of grad school application self-sabotage, why it's not smart to read Iris Murdoch followed directly by A.S. Byatt, my deep thoughts on the solitary episode of Ugly Betty that I've seen, etc, and so on. I blame Andrew Bird. I've been trying to figure that one out and it's been blocking me up on the rest. [insert excuse explanation here].

In happier news, I am sitting at my new desk which barely wobbles at all anymore and has a view of a tree that is often full of birds and/or squirrels. Also, the sun is shining and may continue to do so for as many as three days!

photo note: if you're in Fife, Washington in search of a cheeseburger, might I recommend the Poodle Dog?

whatcha gonna do when you get out of jail?

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006
hos will be pro

I have been finally getting my pictures from the washington trip (pre-seattle) loaded onto flickr. I've still got the last day to go, but I should be able to get to those today. This particular one is from the ladies bathroom in the Port Townsend Safeway. I believe the original sentiment was "Shoplifters Will Be Prosecuted." I know it's stupid (and blurry!), but it cracks me up anyway (like so many things).

In other news, the weather today is... not bad. It's grey, but not raining. The sky makes the leaves that have turned yellow and orange really pop and glow. (not so much for the brown ones.) I like autumn, I really do -- but I spend most of it dreading the fact that it will turn into a wet and sun-miserly winter instead of enjoying it while it's here. There's a larger lesson in this, I'm sure.

The Dead Beat

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Sunday, October 15, 2006
by Marilyn Johnson #29
Full title: The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries

I saw Marilyn Johnson read at Wordstock, and I liked her very much, but her book is even better! Before I get to what's inside, let's address the size and shape of this book. I don't know why, but the fact that it is sort of tall and skinny (5.25" x 9.25") made for an even more enjoyable read. I'm undoubtedly making too much of the physical pleasure of just holding this book, but I tell you -- publishers today are cheaping out on bindings and paper (don't get me started on the state of the trade paperback!), so when one is distinct, it deserves mention. Plus it sort of looks like a headstone, which is appropriate to the subject matter.

Here is a fact: we're all gonna die. Here's an opinion: we have a profoundly unhealthy and unbalanced attitude toward death and dying in this country. (also aging, the poor, sex, and the importance of art in society -- but that's not what this book is about so I'll leave it alone for now.) This book helps redress the balance.

Johnson tackles the obituary from many angles -- the obits themselves, the culture of obituary hounds, and the people who write them. I particularly like the look she takes at the differences between US obituaries and those published in the UK. Here's an excerpt discussing "the code." She's talking of Hugh Massingberd, "the master of the euphemism," who wrote for the UK paper the Daily Telegraph

This coded understatement is an art, and part of the pleasure of reading and writing obits. Massingberd spent his career at the Daily Telegraph refining that art. "We all know 'he didn't suffer fools gladly' translates as ' a complete bastard,'" he told a gathering of obituarists in Bath, England. Massingberd is a great elegant bear of a man, and in a self-penned mock obit claimed to possess "an appetite of such magnitude that friends counted him as three men at their table." He smacked his lips over his list as if it were a tower of profiteroles, then read it with lusty pleasure:

Gave colorful accounts of his exploits -- Liar!
No discernible enthusiasm for civil rights -- Nazi!
Powerful negotiator -- Bully!
Tireless raconteur -- Crashing bore!
Relished the cadence of the English language -- Old windbag!
Affable and hospitable at every hour -- Chronic alcoholic!
He was attached to his theories and sometimes urged them too strongly -- Religious fanatic!
Fun-loving and flirtatious -- Nymphomaniac!
An uncompromisingly direct ladies' man-- Flasher and rapist!

(end quote)

There is poignancy in this book as well, but predominantly a joy for stories, an enthusiasm for the small details that distinguish us one from another, and the impression that you don't honor the dead by whitewashing or neutralizing their lives.

The thing that's really stuck with me all these months (this is another one of those posts that has been staring at me from a list of Things To Do) is how a great obituary is not about death, but about how one LIVED. One of the things I took away from reading this is that I would like to have something more meaningful (or colorful -- it doesn't have to be both) than "she really knew her way around some keyboard shortcuts" in my obituary! I guess it's never too late to start my career in international intrigues, roguish adventures, making things from lint, or at the very least giving colorful accounts of my exploits in fun-loving flirtatiousness.

skateboarding gorilla king

| On
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I slept for longer last night than I have in a week! yay! But sleep might not be the answer. Sleep brings weird dreams. (this dream has been shortened -- a secondary storyline has been excised for not making any sense. Not that the rest of this makes much sense...)

I was in the lobby of a hotel (it was very crowded) and saw Rick James holding a diorama of a courthouse made of paper (???). I recognized it and said "hey, I made that!" He said he really liked it and wanted to send me a cake in gratitude... only first he would need my credit card number and a reasonable facsimile of my signature. Ha! Sneaky dream Rick James. Fortunately, dream me didn't fall for this and gave him bogus info. I was sad about missing out on the cake, but that worked out okay because in convoluted dream fashion, I was suddenly in a cupcake bakery by a river. (it was in a sort of rehabbed barn or mill house, I think). I was part of a tour and had an assortment of cupcakes in a box which I was holding on upturned palms about chest high. My party (there were about 6 of us, all familiar, but I couldn't tell you who was there and who wasn't) took these cupcakes and headed out to the bridge over the river... which only went 3/4 of the way across! So we turned around and headed back. What happened next is sort of a blur, but I do remember that there were people in purple choir robes wearing gorilla masks and Burger King masks. Not surprisingly, I woke up shortly after they started skateboarding.

google leads me to the following dream information:

dream cake: the definitions were really all over the board for this one, but generally favorable. (good luck, ease -- "piece of cake", accepting rewards and recognition, "A fortunate dream signifying satisfaction in both social and business affairs." My favorite definition was "anything to do with cake is lucky"!)

dream bridge: Most dream dictionaries agree that bridges signify transitions and "critical junctions." There was actually another bridge in this dream (two cakes, two bridges!) and the other one was driven over with no difficulty. This second bridge wasn't derelict or falling apart -- it just didn't go all the way to the other side. Hmmmmm. I didn't attempt to look up skateboarding choir robe wearing gorillas. Even google has its limits.

Anyway, there was no anxiety with any of this -- it's not like I can even be surprised that dream Rick James might not be on the up and up, you know? Honestly, I was just delighted to be sleeping!

insomnia song

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I can't sleep. I have dark circles around dark circles around my eyes -- some sort of concentric sleepless rings of saturn pattern.

I need a new mattress, or a new mantra, or 7 glorious hours of uninterrupted slumber. Maybe it's the crazy (although it doesn't feel like crazy insomnia, which I have certainly had before -- I can GET to sleep, I just can't STAY asleep), maybe it's just one of those things. (not a trip to the moon on gossamer wings, but one of those other things.) One of those things that better go away soon, or else. (see how tired I am? I'm threatening INSOMNIA. Next thing you know, I'll declare a war on terror. Oh, wait.)

Please leave drugs in the comments.

Sigh. that probably doesn't work, although if I get much more tired I'll probably think it does.

Please leave insomnia song suggestions instead. I can only think of two right off the top of my head, but I know there are so many more! If I can't sleep, at least I can sing along.

I'm So Tired -- the Beatles
Four Hours in Washington -- M. Ward

day tripping: seattle

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Monday, October 09, 2006
I know, I know! Andrew Bird, escaping tribal jail, what I really think of Gilmore Girls this season -- these are all things I've been meaning to write about, and here it is a week later with NOTHING TO SHOW. And now I'm going to write about My Day in Seattle.

How I Came to be in Seattle on Thursday: Despite having spent four days of the previous week in the car (also in Washington), despite having no desire to see an exhibit made up of preserved skinless human bodies, despite being tired (and whiny), when Blondie called and asked if I wanted to go to Seattle for the day, I quickly decided it would be stupid not to accept. She had to run some errands, wanted to see the Bodies exhibit and thought I might like to join her. I had that big list of despites above, but realized those boiled down to not wanting to see the exhibition. I recognize that there is educational benefit and that the human body is an intricate and complex organism, however I am not in a place where flayed bodies (however tastefully presented) are something I want to look at. Fortunately, this is not the only thing to do in Seattle! (imagine what trouble their chamber of commerce would have if it was!)

I remembered that Seattle had a fairly new (2004) central library branch that there had been a lot of fuss about it... so I could go there since it was in roughly the same part of town. Hooray! Blondie was on board with the plan and she wanted to see it too. Books and libraries are not a big part of her life, but she loves design and had seen a lot about the library in magazines and had been meaning to check it out. Hooray again! Asserting myself managed to enrich the our visit rather than ruin it -- why does this so rarely occur to me?

The Trip: It takes about 3 hours to drive from Portland to Seattle. Our trip was largely uneventful, although Blondie did award me with the distinction of being "most neurotic and overthinking person that I know, no offense." Strangely, I did not take offense. I didn't even internally fuss about it for very long, which now that I consider it makes me feel like somewhat of an overthinking fraud... ANYWAY, back to the skinless human bodies and flying fish juice! (Seattle, please consider me for your next advertising campaign!)

Our Arrival: Once off the freeway we were immediately greeted by a panhandler with a sign reading "father killed by ninjas. need money for karate lessons." (points for use of the word "ninja," but I don't think that karate is going to be of much use against them.) We parked by Pike Place Market, since that is pretty central to downtown and one of Blondie's errands was Right There. I'll spare you the details of the first errand, except to say it involved climbing a Very Steep Hill, a chichi shop, and receiving explicit directions on how to go to a restaurant at which neither of us wanted to eat, even though it was "very civilized for lunch." Second errand involved walking the whole Market, which was very pleasant, especially since we had some of that bright indian summer sun that the PNW grants its citizens before turning to 6 months of unrelenting grey drizzle. Outside the market proper are more crafty type vendors, like we have at the Saturday Market in Portland. Inside there were a few of these (including a mood ring vendor! We tried a bunch on -- either my mood is extremely variable within seconds, or mood rings are not the accurate scientific indicators they advertise themselves to be), but mostly it's fresh seafood and produce. My favorite part of the market was all of the flower vendors. There were many, or at least it seemed like many. This time of year the flowers on offer were mostly dahlias and sunflowers with some zinnias and lilies here and there -- beautiful, and that's no lie. And yes, the flying fish guys were there. It's actually pretty gross and the fish juice goes flying everywhere. (Is it really necessary to throw the same fish back and forth across the counter for reasons other than tourist photography? Am I just bitter because I forgot my camera? Perhaps.)

Anyway, the market was a lot of fun and is a popular destination for a good reason.

Food: For lunch I had a thai fried chicken salad, which maybe sounds gross, but I can assure you it was DELICIOUS and had little bits of plum and a really great vinegary dressing. We had a table by the window, which is so nice for people watching. Every third person had flowers from the market, and it was my pleasure to observe a lincoln continental try to parallel park on a slightly curved street. Once the land yacht was safely docked in only two parking places (down from three!), the entertainment switched to watching the driver try to figure out the parking meters. (in fairness, they are the stupid new kind which are completely counter-intuitive.)

For the meal known as "I am still really full from lunch but we need to kill an hour before trying to get back on the freeway so let's just get one little thing that will actually blossom into two medium sized things but that's okay because I was hungrier than I thought and we're sharing them anyway so shut up" we ate on the outdoor patio of a little place called The Pink Door. Blondie graciously gave me the view of the water (those commuter ferries go surprisingly fast) and she took the view of the room and the alley the restaurant was on. We had a fennel and orange salad and bruscceta that had three kinds of mushrooms, delicious white cheese I forget the name of, and FIGS. (so tasty, I can't even tell you) We also made up outrageous stories about our fellow diners. Good times!

The Library: Blondie and I split up after running the second errand so she could go look at her dead bodies and I could go investigate this library. I didn't read a lot about it before I went, because I figured "hey, I'll just figure it out when I get there!" which worked out pretty well. If you want to know what it looks like, click on the library link above. (the picture at the top of this post is one that Blondie mailed me since she remembered HER camera... it's taken from the 10th floor looking down to the 3rd.)

Now, I love the good old-fashioned dark wood, leather club chair, low-light, cozy library as much as the next nerd. This library is the opposite of that, but I love it too. It's very well lit -- taking maximum advantage of natural light which is important this far north. Many of the interior spaces appear to have been designed by Willy Wonka and Dr. Seuss's love child... but it WORKS. It's playful, modern, thoughtful, colorful, and fully wired. I mean, fully, fully wired. There's wireless internet available throughout (I stumbled across more than one patron sitting in the middle of an aisle with laptop open and books all around), there are also countless work areas set up for use with laptops -- including power sources and a hard-wired ethernet port if you're not set up for wireless. It's very nice. I wandered all through the library, including taking the yellow escalators all the way up to the 10th floor and walking down the "book spiral." The book spiral is pretty cool -- all of their collections are on a slightly downward .. spiral. You can walk from floors 10-5 without ever taking any stairs. The dewey decimal numbers are printed right on the floor, so you can easily find what you're looking for. Anyway, there are many more things I could say about this wonderful building, but I think I'll just say (for now) that if you're in Seattle and have exhausted the flayed dead body and fish juice opportunities, I can heartily recommend visiting the library.

The Way Home: Even more uneventful, except the moon was beautiful and not-quite full and the back seat was full of flowers. As I type this I realize it sounds sort of romantic and "ah, what a lovely day!" It WAS a lovely day, but I'd be remiss not to mention that I fell asleep twice on the way home (such bad manners I'm ashamed to admit it), and that we got into an argument about whether the moon was waxing or waning. (WAXING! like I said...)

In short (I know! way too late for that now) if Blondie calls up and says "do you want to go to Seattle with me?" the answer should be yes.

dashing around

| On
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I cannot believe it is SUNDAY already!!! and it's been almost a week since my last post. sigh. Anyway, I'll have something more substantive later tonight, but in the meantime, here are a couple of very enjoyable things found via boing boing:

1. Hilarious Iggy and the Stooges concert rider
2. An origami mashup movie -- on youtube. Someone printed out stills from hundreds of movie scenes onto paper, folded the paper into shapes, and filmed the paper... seriously, just go look at it!

more soon. I am off to take pictures of county courthouses. (don't ask)

the purloined poem

| On
Monday, October 02, 2006
I am back from the rain forest, and while I am sad to report there were no monkeys or parrots, I am happy to say we didn't end up in tribal jail. More on all of this (and Andrew Bird) soon -- but first here's a poem that I spotted (and STOLE --okay, copied down) at the Tacoma Borders. It's from the Cummings collection 95 poems. I like it.


dive for dreams
or a slogan may topple you
(trees are their roots
and wind is wind)

trust your heart
if the seas catch fire
(and live by love
though the stars walk backwards)

honour the past
but welcome the future
(and dance your death
away at this wedding)

never mind a world
with its villains and heroes
(for god likes girls
and tomorrow and the earth)

E.E. Cummings