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Friday, December 29, 2006
by Dustin Long #34

Oh, Icelander! (I think I am going to start every blog post with "oh!"... okay, maybe not.) Some things about this book:

1) for reasons I do not fully understand, I have always wanted to stay in an ice hotel. And ICELAND, by dint of having ICE as part of its name, always comes to mind. I think this means I was subconsciously primed to be receptive to a book by this title, or possibly it means nothing at all beyond "I want to stay in an ice hotel."

2) I read a review of it in the Believer that made me say "I must read this book!" It is a McSweeney's Rectangular (and it is indeed rectangular!). Except now I can't find that review, so maybe I read it somewhere else. At any rate, this mysterious review that I read somewhere obviously did not spring fully formed into my head or the one I am writing right now would be much more coherent (one would assume), but it did make an impression.

3) once acquired from the library, the back flap further informed me that it was an "intricate giddy romp steeped equally in Nordic lore and pulpy intrigue." I found this Most Appealing. There are steam tunnels and skaldic karaoke and the main character is called Our Heroine, which also piqued my curiosity. Promises were made that "adventure ensues." And it does! (If anything should ensue, it should be hijinks or adventure. Misery, calamity and the like should never ensue (they can befall, if they must) -- okay, maybe calamity can ensue, but I draw the line at misery.)

4) The book is a physical pleasure to read and hold. It's a hard cloth(ish) cover with the picture embossed, and is a great size for carrying around. It also has THE NICEST paper and binding it has been my pleasure to read all year. (don't get me started on how the price of books has gone up, up, up, yet they often put crappy mass market paperback paper inside a hardcover. Uncool, publishing industry, uncool!) The paper is bright white and smooth, the book has a nice spine that I can hold open with one hand, unlike some books that seem more like bear traps.

5) I started out thinking that this story was too clever by half and it was reminding me of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series (of which I read the first one and half of the second). But as I got further along and acclimated to the world of the book, I enjoyed it more and more; any Fforde comparisons became "wow! I like this so much better." (The Fforde books are ones that I want to love but can't. I've been thinking about it, and for me it seems that he's so busy amusing himself with how clever he is, he forgets about his responsibilities to the story and to the reader. I know that lots of people love him, but that sense of self-indulgence (and how good they COULD be) is what I get hung up on.) I imagine there were many more tangents and side roads Dustin Long could have taken, but didn't because he was being more considerate of the story. I for one appreciate it!

6) I am not going to attempt to sum up the plot -- there is just TOO MUCH. It's a PoMo mystery. There are stories within stories, footnotes from an increasingly suspect source, trouble in academia, the nameless girl detective with a famous dead mother, a wolf, a witch, a festival, an actor, a Two-Story House... I ended up really enjoying it, even as I was sure I was missing about half of what was going on. I think it would not only hold up on re-read but have even more to offer, which is one of the things I like most about books.

I can change bandages faster than you

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Injury update: So, the swelling has gone down significantly. Now the first thing you notice is the bandage instead of my mutant lumpy jaw. This is good! the nurse at the wound clinic told me that everything was healing really well. I thought this meant I was almost done having to go down there, and she said "oh, no. you'll still have to come down for at least another week to ten days. it's really deep." And since the swelling's gone down, I can tell just how deep it is because I can feel the stuff they pack in there from the outside. The hole in my face (I believe that is the correct medical term) is right above my jaw line-- there is packing material right up to the corner of my mouth (!!!).
I was hoping when that the swelling subsided that The Hole would be right below my jaw, but it seems unlikely. But who knows? It's still somewhat swollen, so there's hope. Or even better, it'll be a cool-shaped scar -- then I can come up with some good scar stories that involve maybe... parachuting, fencing, cat burglary, time travel, piracy, cat fight, bar fight, or the time I was touring the chocolate factory and slipped on some fudge and fell backwards into a table and whew what a relief it was that nothing else happened and just then a giant knife (that I had sent into the air, unawares, when I knocked the cutting board with my elbow) fell from the sky and jabbed me in the face, or something...

In other news, lest this become all about The Hole in my face, all the time, I watched Annie Get Your Gun again Christmas night. Betty Hutton! Howard Keel! (I think Hugh Jackman would be great in the Frank Butler role, but I can't think of an actress today that could be Annie... I'm probably not thinking hard enough because my brain stops at Hugh Jackman.) There are things I love about this movie (more on that in a minute) and things I do not love at all, even one little bit, even if I listen to the insidious voice that says "hey jen, it was 1950 for god's sake! you can't hold them to the politically correct standards of today." To expect any kind of non-cartoon like treatment of indians in this movie is a futile pursuit, but because I like so many other things about it, that this thing is wrong pains me more. True, Chief Sitting Bull is the only character who is consistently not an idiot, but that distinction rides pretty close to the Magical Negro/ Noble Savage trope. ANYWAY, if you are in search of a sensitive/sensible portrayal of indians in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, this is not the movie for you! If you want to see every indian cliche in dazzling MGM color... you are in luck! Fortunately in the age of DVD you can easily skip around. Which I would recommend, so you don't miss...

My favorite scene in the whole movie is the Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better number. Why? Because, that's why! Seriously, though, I like it because it's the closest this movie gets to the kind of screwball antagonism that cheers me so. It's completely irrational and lovely. When it was just Annie mooning around after Frank it was cute for a while and then it was sad. And Frank -- who knows what he's thinking, other than feeling a little professional competition and having his (already giant) ego inflated because she's mooning around after him? But in this scene they have reached the stage of Mutual Irritation and the gloves come off. When you are arguing about who can sing softer, talk faster, buy cheaper, or knit sweaters, reason has left the building! It was here that I knew Frank cared about her since he was Just As Irritated as she was. (lesson: the people you love WILL drive you crazy, either occasionally or often; to pretend otherwise is to stick your head in the sand.)

(I couldn't find the picture I wanted on the internet, so I had to take a screen capture myself. This program makes it so easy! it's cross platform and FREE!)

'twas the week before christmas

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Sunday, December 24, 2006
hospital entertainment

Leslie brought me some appropriate reading material

Week before christmas: great time for shopping, baking, holiday cheer, or for a surprise stay in the hospital to treat a facial abscess! Okay, it was not really a great time to be in the hospital, but we don't always get to choose. I should say right now that I am well on my way to recovery and that every single human I interacted with at Good Samaritan Hospital was unfailingly kind to me -- the one person who was kind of abrupt (the surgeon) has so far gone on to behave like the stereotypical crank with a heart of gold. (Thought I should have stayed longer, yet was the one to spring me out, grouch grouch, grouch/ nice, nice, nice.)

here's a brief timeline of what I've been up to this week. Believe me, I would have rather been standing in line at the post office!

Sunday the 17th (evening): I can't believe I am getting a huge stupid zit between my mouth and jaw.

Monday the 18th: in retrospect, making comparisons between yourself and the elephant man, quasimodo, phantom of the opera, the beast (of beauty and the) is probably a sign that medical attention is required.

Tuesday the 19th: The day of optimistic whimpering. Errands were run with scarf in dramatic bank robber style. Pain increasing to the point where sleep was only available with the aid of old Tylenol with codeine tablets left over from wisdom tooth extraction.

Wednesday the 20th: spent entire day in pajamas whimpering (less optimistically) and taking Tylenol 3 every 4 hours until Mom came and made me get dressed to go to the emergency room.

.... hospital time....

emergency room: jabby jabby needles (which barely registered because my face hurt so much), blood drawn, the doctor telling me things that sounded insane like "you'll need to see a plastic surgeon, if this gets into your airway it could be deadly, you'll have to be admitted, these infections develop very quickly, etc." What seemed like one million years and one CT scan later, I was finally admitted upstairs to a room with a view of the christmas lights on NW 23rd and the west hills. Not exactly how I had planned to spend the day, but the pain was considerably less (god bless narcotics).

Thursday the 21st: Feeling somewhat better because the abscess started to drain on its own. Moved to a private room (view of the fremont bridge!) and got lots of phone calls and visitors which was nice because the hospital is boring if you're conscious. Still really tired from the infection and loopy from the medicine, so I couldn't really do stuff or read anything too complicated. The plastic surgeon came by at around 2, poked at my face (he said "let me get a q-tip" and then proceeded to poke at me with the pointed wooden end), said he would do the surgery, which should be easy and quick at 7pm. No more food or liquid for me! Managed to catch a repeat of the Colbert Report's "Guitarmageddon" episode, which I took as a good sign (and also found hilarious).

surgery: they wheeled me down in the bed I was in! It was the end of the day, so they let my mom and sister come down with me, although I sent them home so they could see "Guitarmageddon" for themselves -- also because my mom was getting fretful and worried. I wasn't too worried -- I think because they weren't going in and poking around my innards, just doing something on the outside. Anyway, if the hospital is boring for a patient who is still loopy enough to fall asleep every 20 minutes, it is Double Plus Boring for the long term visitor.

When they finally wheeled me into the operating room I knew everything was going to be fine because The Cure was playing on the stereo! (Just Like Heaven, which is about a dead girl, but I love the song, so whatever.) I got about 20000 sticky monitor things stuck to various parts of my body. Once I realized that the beeping I was hearing (over The Cure) was my heartbeat, I thought "I'll see if I can make it go slower" (it sounded fast and very unmusical to me), but that only made it go faster so I gave up. I later found out that my heart rate was elevated because that's what happens with a big infection. Anyway, the anesthesiologist (who was so nice, even though I heard him making rude puns as I was coming out of it in the recovery room), told me that he was going to give me some oxygen and he was sorry it smelled like plastic and then that he would see me in a little while and then I was OUT. I have absolutely no recollection of anything that happened in the OR beyond that point, and it's just as well. I hear there was "a lot of pus," which is all I needed to know. My face was still swollen because they packed the abscess with medicated gauze, but not nearly as painful. I'm sure the morphine helped with that, too.

speaking of morphine, I am fairly certain that's what made me think it was a great idea less than an hour after surgery to take pictures of the fremont bridge from my window. Of course in order to do this, I had to crawl over my bed because the IV wouldn't reach otherwise.... can you see where this is headed? It ended with me in the dark frantically trying to put the drippy now detached IV thing in the sink while I failed to notice that I was bleeding profusely through the IV site. Then I tried to clean up the blood, and ended up getting it all over before I gave up and fell back onto the bed until the nurse finally came. Good times! (I did get my picture after she put me back together, though.)

Friday the 22nd: Feeling so much better, and therefore 10000x more bored. I tell every single person I see (not that many, actually) that I feel SO MUCH BETTER, and that I should probably go home so that some sick person could have my room. The doctor doing rounds tells me that she "thinks about knitting 24 hours a day," and that she was going to wait until she heard from the surgeon before making any decisions about me. So, I sat around and waited for the surgeon. Drank thick milk and thick apple juice (this is what they serve in hell), because someone charted that I needed a pureed diet. The whole day was largely waiting for the surgeon, the surgeon whom I think actually forgot about me because the nurse (who was no doubt sick of my piteous, beseeching looks), finally called him and he came in in his street clothes. ... there was some negotiating -- he thought I should stay at least one more day and I disagreed. In the end he relented. It all turned out okay because the culture came back on the infection and it is the kind that is treatable with oral antibiotics. (which was a relief since everyone kept telling me that they usually only give 3-4 courses of this particular IV antibiotic because it is so hard on the veins and I had already had FIVE.) I get to go to the Wound Clinic once a day for a few days until it has healed up enough for me to dress the wound myself.

ANYWAY, the point of all of this is I have never even been in the hospital before, let alone had surgery and all that jazz. I'm glad I got it out of the way in 2006 so 2007 can be spent in more pleasurable pursuits.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! (and take it from me, if there is stuff you wanted to get done but didn't and are stressing out about it -- it's probably no big deal and the people who love you will love you still.)

d.i.y. jolly

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Monday, December 18, 2006
jolly mosaic

This weekend I found myself in yet another crappy mood. Friday I was feelin' fine, but saturday morning rolled around and I was just itchy and agitated for no good reason. None of my circumstances had changed, but I was pissy and irritable nonetheless. A disturbance in the force? Maybe. Bored? As much as I HATE to admit it (because I think there are very few good reasons for being bored) this was probably closer to the truth.

I decided to take matters in hand and find a way to jolly myself out of it. It had to be some new way, because the old ways just weren't cutting it! I started by wearing a sweater that makes me laugh. Then I decided that I would take pictures of things I found particularly cheering. This worked out pretty well: 1) paying attention to things that please me rather than those that do not is surprisingly satisfying. 2) I felt like I'd kind of hit the wall with picture taking --the fun was gone! But with this project I gave myself permission to do whatever, and the fun returned.

row 1, in which I dress for cheer and errands l-r: 1)jaunty crazy sweater 2) red (but sheer) lip stuff 3) had to take this back to the library, which was sad, but lego white stripes, so hooray! 4) these gloves are a little dr. seuss, but they make me happy 5) library 6) Death in Kashmir! I have several of the M.M. Kaye mysteries, but with the old 70's covers

row 2, around town l-r: 1) more library 2) cheerful red mini cooper with CD Baby vanity plates 3) if the packet of hot sauce says I'll be happy, who am I to argue? 4) what the neon commands, we must do. 5) Powell's (11th Couch street entrance) through the dirty windshield 6) my red sneakers

row 3, at home post-errands l-r:1) 8-ball queries must be carefully posed in order to get the response you desire. 2) excedrin and sudafed 3) that raccoon that broke in and climbed the stairs to my bedroom to rifle through my bookcases last spring has written a tell-all book based on his life of crime. 4) dial "M" for something 5-6) christmas lights

row 4, miscellany rules! l-r: 1. low light blurry 2. epiphyllum bloom from a cutting 3) collage I made a month ago and hated, but now I like it. 4) detail from same 5-6) blotter on my desk (upside down)

row 5, l-r: 1) same question asking rules apply to online 8-balls 2) in honor of one of my favorite cheerfully sleazy christmas songs, "Santa Claus is Back In Town." 3 -4) card supplies 5) just as the sun was rising Sunday morning and the crescent moon was still visible. 6) there was supposed to be a squirrel in this picture, but it chose not to be photographed.

row 6, in pursuit of hipster crafts l-r: went to the doug fir lounge for the monthly Crafty Wonderland event. I didn't find anything to buy (hipster crafts = very crowded, lots of wallets for sale), but I did see 1) this amazing Galaxie 500 in beautiful turquoise 2) wheel detail from same 3) chalkboard doors at the jupiter hotel 4) blue door 5) my black manicure (so impractical since I use my hands so much, but I can't keep away from it) 6) This poem print out is from home. I find it very cheering. yes, yes, yes.

rain, rain, go away

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Thursday, December 14, 2006
I love this lamp

It is raining. A lot. Not the gentle, almost ignorable rain that makes up much of the Oregon winter, but windy, driving, relentlessly spirit-crushing water falling out of the sky. I've been so crabby lately that if I give into it and start bitching, I fear I will never stop, so further consideration of the weather and a list of christmas songs/commercials (Ross! Kay Jewelers!) that trigger my robot rage are Right Out. (for today -- next sunny day those tennis bracelet peddlers get a piece of my mind!)

here are some of my recent bad weather/bad mood busters:

Fountain Pen: I have ink all over my fingers from addressing holiday cards. I have to say, I kind of dig it! I should start writing with a pen more often -- I hardly ever do, despite having a deep and abiding affection for office/school supplies. Maybe I can bring my handwriting back from the illegibility brink. (I said maybe!) I went to the PSU bookstore for the first time in forever and was reminded of what truly excellent and odd-ball supplies they have. (there was graph paper for... polar ice caps!! I almost fainted.)

Lunatic Quiz: Which historical lunatic are you? I am (apparently) Charles the Mad of France! Highlights include the following: Passing briefly into erratic genius, you believed yourself to be made of glass and demanded iron rods in your attire to prevent you breaking. It seems like a reasonable demand to me, if you truly believe yourself to be made of glass. History can be so unkind...

Christmas music: okay, this is sort of a trick category, because so many christmas songs have been the opposite of joyful spirit-lifting for me this season. For example, Heidi Klum singing a snippet of Santa Baby while dressed in some marabou santa thing for Victoria's Secret is one of the most joyless, dispiriting moments I've seen in a while -- despite having no inherent dislike for the song, marabou, sexy santa or Heidi Klum. I'm not going to make a huge long list all at once, but here are a couple of non-secular Christmas songs I like. These particular songs are ones that I had to sing in choir when I was a kid. I'm not a singer myself (choir was compulsory), but I love being in a room with lots of people singing.
O Holy Night -- I prefer softer, gentler versions of this song rather than the "see how long I can hold this note" versions. (sufjan vs. whitney) But what I like best is this line " a thrill of hope, the weary world (soul) rejoices." Hope is a delicate, ephemeral yet resilient mystery of the human psyche, but the pleasure I get here is from thinking of "a thrill" as a unit of measure. "I'll take a gallon of milk, a thrill of hope -- no, make that two thrills of hope and a pack of gum, please."
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear -- I know this is really old fashioned, but it has always been one of my favorites. I like the image of angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold (are they really stretchy or hovering or what?), but I particularly like the sentiment of "peace on the earth, good will toward men, all heaven and nature sing." It seems incredibly naive especially in the current global environment, but in these matters I'd rather be incredibly naive than the alternative. (I am clutching on to my thrill of hope with both hands.)

favorite Italian artist's name to say (today): Amadeo Modigliani. Come on! It's practically perfect in every way.

The Lost Room-- This mini-series ended last night, but Sci-Fi will be running a marathon of it this weekend. I liked it so much! It was not heavy on the mysterious atmospherics that I usually respond to in this kind of story (Twin Peaks, Carnivale Season 1, Lost (sometimes), Millennium), but its very premise is plenty mysterious and it has a refreshing zinginess. They established the world they were operating in pretty quickly, but still left room for surprises. Even more refreshingly, they did not assume everyone watching was an idiot. It was more puzzle oriented than I generally care about, but they made it work for me. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this ends up being a regular series.

A Dress A Day -- right now is a good time to be reading Dress a Day. (I think any time is a good time, but now is an especially good time.) Erin has been doing drabbles (100 word pieces) in the spirit of her Secret Lives of Dresses series. These are so fun! The reason she's doing it is fun too -- her readers have surpassed a charitable fundraising goal for Heifer International by more than 150%! But this post really made me smile today. Roller skating, digital camo, and the encouragement to do something that scares you a little bit, as it is often a "soul-enlarging activity."

I feel better already.

(but it is still raining.)

Sailing Alone Around the Room

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Monday, December 11, 2006
by Billy Collins #33

Oh, Billy Collins! Some authors are so potent I can't read more than one of their books in a short period of time -- I get burned out or bummed out. Everything I liked about the one book may be repeated in the second, retroactively sucking the joy out of the first one. So I wait a while, and it usually works out. I read my first Billy Collins collection not that long ago, but I thought maybe poetry would work differently than prose in my Not Too Close rule. I was right. If anything, I like him more now than I did then.

Why? He's conversational and witty without being obnoxious. He shares a lot of himself, but there's a lot held back, too, which makes me think he'd be really interesting conversational partner -- like he could surprise me with some crazy idea that I would then enjoy thinking about for days afterward. I like him. (I do not feel this way about every poet or author I admire.)

I've been trying to remember where I read my first Billy Collins poem, and I think the first may have been one someone linked to, in response to another poem on this blog. I know I was impressed enough with this dress poem, which showed up on Dressaday that I saved it into my journal. (it turns out he writes really well about clothes.)

Anyway, here is an excerpt that I had to include for it's Cherry Ames reference, since I read a lot of Cherry Ames (and even some Vicky Barr), back in the day. This bit is from the poem titled Canada

O Canada, as the anthem goes,
scene of my boyhood summers,
you are the pack of Sweet Caporals on the table,
you are the dove-soft train whistle in the night,
you are the empty chair at the end of an empty dock.
You are the shelves of books in a lakeside cottage:
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh,
A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson,
Ann of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery,
So You're Going to Paris! by Clara E. Laughlin
and Peril over the Airport, one
of the Vicky Barr Flight Stewardess series
by Helen Wills whom some will remember
as the author of the Cherry Ames Nurse stories.

What has become of the langorous girls
who would pass the long limp summer evenings reading
Cherry Ames, Student Nurse, Cherry Ames, Senior Nurse,
Cherry Ames, Chief Nurse,
and Cherry Ames, Flight Nurse?
Where are they now, the ones who shared her adventures
as a veterans' nurse, private duty nurse, visiting nurse,
cruise nurse, night supervisor, mountaineer nurse,
dude ranch nurse (there is little she has not done),
rest home nurse, department store nurse,
boarding school nurse, and country doctor's nurse?
(end excerpt)

And then there is this poem, which is the last one in the collection. One of the things I like about Collins is his ability to be kind of meta about poetry or the act of reading or writing without being annoying. (I also think there is a little resonance here with blogging.)

The Flight of the Reader

You'd think we would have had enough
of one another
after all the rain streaming down these windows,
the walks out to the garden when it clears,
the same yellow and white flowers,
all the sleepless nights ---
the toy car going in circles on the bed table.

But still, you stay perched on my shoulder,
cricket or bluebird,
wild parrot digging your claws into my loud shirt.

Is it because I do not pester you
with the invisible gnats of meaning,
never release the whippets of anxiety from their crates,
or hold up my monstrous mirror,
a thing the size of a playing field?

Whatever makes you stay,
I hate to think of that morning
when I will wake up and find you gone,
heading toward the open sea,
dragging the cables that bound us together,
leaving me with nothing more to say.

But don't get me wrong.
It's not that I can't live without you,
cannot sit under an ordinary green tree
with no desire to reach for the pen in my pocket,
or lie contented on the couch all day,
one hand over my mouth.

It's not like I have a crush on you
and instead of writing my five-paragraph essay
I am sailing paper airplanes across the room at you---
it's not that I can't wait for the lunch bell
to see your face again.

It's not like that. Not exactly.

(Billy Collins)

friday never hesitates

| On
Friday, December 08, 2006
still mean it
(television aside: Am I crazy, or was The O.C. actually funny last night? I have hopes for it in a way I haven't for about a season and a half! Although the Very Special Dickens O.C. next week looks like it could be painful... What if Ryan never came to Newport?)

I go walking just about every day in the park near my house. One of the side effects is that I see a lot of the same people daily. There are two Very Odd men who are there most days -- one of them I like and say good morning to, and one of them gives me the creepy wiggins at 100 yards. Likable Weirdo is probably in his 60's, with a style I would best describe as "bedroom floor." His hair is mostly white and mostly standing on end except for where it's flat in the back. He walks three little teacup dogs on long, long expandable leashes and they are always twined around his legs or blocking the path. He often has 12oz cans of soda stuffed in the pockets of his sweatpants. I suspect he sleeps in a recliner with the television on.

The other guy, Creepy Weirdo, is always pressed and polished with creased trousers, a hat, and in this weather a trench coat. He wears overlarge glasses and has a Groucho mustache. It looks like he's wearing a disguise. For all I know he's the expatriate Swiss chief of a brain trust, but he gives me the heebie jeebies. He never speaks to me (hallelujah!) and will often cut across in a weird jagged pattern if anyone is walking toward him. Today, though he was walking in the same direction as me (usually he's going the opposite way) and just stopped in his tracks and let me walk past. So creepy! Not that people can't walk whatever way they want to, but... it was just weird. I know that he probably has some sort of social anxiety or something, but he just radiates off-ness to me. I'm sure he's perfectly fine, and mr. soda in his pockets probably has a shower curtain made from the pinkie fingers of his victims, but still...

and now, here are some songs from my ipod today:

Friday I'm in Love -- The Cure: some days I skip this when it comes up because I love the song and don't want to overplay, but I figure if you get a day of the week song on the right day of the week, you should listen.

Do You Want To -- Franz Ferdinand: I discovered this past week that I have an actual physical reaction to certain of franz ferdinand's songs. I stand up straigher, walk faster (if I am indeed walking), and narrow my eyes, but not in a mean way. There's something about it that makes me feel more confident and a little more aggressive. It's weird, but I'm sure explained by some science of sound. (I also realized that I look at my hands when I'm embarrassed or remember something that embarrasses me. I could understand it if I were trying to break eye contact, but why do I do it when I'm alone??)

Take Off Your Clothes -- Morningwood: okay, this song is RIDICULOUSLY raunchy and completely infectious. (but not in ways that require ointment or medication of any kind.) I think it's the handclaps that do me in.

Spring Released -- Grant Lee Philips: I have been skipping this song lately. I put it on so many mix cds a few years ago I think I got burned out on it. But today (because I was wearing gloves and it is a pain in the ass to take off my glove to skip a song -- my ipod rejects gloved commands!), I listened to it. I still like it very much, but think I may have to take it off this playlist for a while so when I do hear it again I am 100% hooray about it. Actually, I should probably take about 40 songs off of this playlist and freshen it up.

Sinking Game -- Marit Larsen: I'm still liking this song! Spoons and singing saw and banjo and all.

spoon full of sugar

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Thursday, December 07, 2006
Here are some lovely things that I've found here and there.

quote: (the quotes are in here, I promise.) I had to return the Mark Romanek Director's Series DVD to the library yesterday. I didn't get through the whole DVD (I watched Devil's Haircut and Perfect Drug more than once, I'll admit), but I had a quick read through the booklet before I took it back. The book is comprised of photos by Romanek and an interview between him and Spike Jonze. (note to self: see if the library has the Jonze video collection.) ANYWAY, there were a couple of quotes that really stood out for me. This first quote is not a new concept, but it's a good reminder: "Perfect is not always the set thing. Perfect isn't always good."

But what really jumped out at me -- I mean jumped out of the bushes and knocked me over -- was this: "And that phrase, 'More daring and more sincere,' hit me like a ton of bricks. It really struck me as the best definition of what makes something good that I'd ever heard."

Me too, Mark Romanek! (The context of this quote was his response to a Stanley Kubrick interview where Kubrick gave suggestions on how to improve the film industry. Kubrick's quote was "And I feel like these are some of the ways that filmmakers can make films that are both more daring and more sincere." )

Daring and Sincere! Sincere doesn't have to mean mawkish. Daring doesn't have to mean shocking. These words make me think more in terms of dangerously or fearlessly truthful. That's something I always respond to in any kind of art, even if it is about a subject that would seem to be of no relevance to me. If it is truly daring and sincere, it strikes that skin-tingling chord of recognition, no matter what the topic.

goodwill finds: Last week I was browsing the book department of the main Portland Goodwill, and found that someone had recently donated a several books on Hollywood musicals! For less than 10 dollars I got one HUGE hard-bound photo book on musicals and one soft-bound book of the same. They each had a few pictures cut out (from the small one, pictures from A Hard Day's Night, from the large one pictures from Hair), but even so there are SO MANY amazing photographs it was certainly worth it. Plus, since they are already a little beat up, I will feel less guilty abusing them for scanning purposes. (photos are of Busby the musical director and Busby the cat. One of them lives at my house.) You can finish making the bed when I finish what I'm doing

early xmas gift: Keri Smith has some fun pdf's to print out and make your very own Artist's Survival Kit. Make one for yourself, and one for a friend!

blog posts on writing: This one is a list (!!!) of "10 Things I Know About Writing" from Powell's blog guest blogger Janice Cooke Newman. (The Powell's blog in general is great fun if you like books at all, I promise.) This Writing Time post resonates with the "more daring and more sincere" philosophy. (the Writing Time blog in general is encouraging and compassionate without being boring or condescending. I know this sounds like what every writing blog should be like, but trust me, they're not!) Here's an Atlantic article from this summer on writing, featuring Francine Prose "and others," that is also worth checking out.

best name in my spam folder today: epic him. It makes me laugh.

movie trailer remix: Okay, I know this has been a lot of places, but I had to put it here since I was just talking about musicals. It's a Mary Poppins trailer remixed as a horror film. It made me laugh AND gave me the genuine creeps.

joy, or else

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006
the joy machine

This is the week on the internet when people post about what a bummer the holidays are, right? I don't want to miss out!! I am not feeling particularly joyous, but I figure I will reach some sort of peace with the season sooner or later. Television commercials make it difficult, but I suppose I could solve this by watching less tv. This joy machine picture DOES make me smile, so that's a start. In better news, the design for my christmas cards is finally coming together. Hooray!! Of course it was a rocky start...

I was working on cards Sunday with Leslie and Bec, and I began having Major Creative Issues. Usually, I work out what I want to do pretty quickly. I start with a simple idea, and then find ways to needlessly complicate* before I settle back down to something workable. This time, it was All Complications, All the Time. Actually, it wasn't complications, I just wasn't happy with anything, even if it was exactly what I had in mind. No matter what I did, it Was Not Right.

My sister started chanting (in her best Goldmember voice) that "there is just no pleasing you." which made me laugh in that "ha ha ha, oh god, what if she's right? What if I am never satisfied? Is this what it sounds like when doves cry?" way. (I should mention that we were listening to Prince, since it was too soon for christmas music.) Fortunately, Leslie stepped in with a color suggestion that turned everything around and I could abandon the rapidly growing fantasty of me living the rest of my life in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction. Phew!

In other news, I have moved some things around on the sidebar and added some new and excellent links. Martina tipped me off to, which I think will be a very handy way for me to keep track of when I finish reading things since it often takes me months to get them written up.

*(in fact my sister coined a new term for this state: to jennify. Which means "to complicate needlessly." example: "I have totally jennified this process by adding 15 unnecessarily tedious and/or difficult steps.")

And Now You Can Go

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Monday, December 04, 2006
by Vendela Vida #32

This book is one of those that has so much to offer it could be 100 things to 100 people. A book about surviving a violent crime? Okay. A book about the pleasures and dangers of living in New York, San Francisco, or (briefly) the Philippines? Uh huh. A book about families, friends, lovers and how they can love you and want to help, but still not get it and make things worse? Yeah, alright. A reminder that some things you have to do yourself? Indeed. A mystery? Yes. A delight to read, despite dealing with violent crime and missionary work? Definitely.

What spoke the most to me was how gracefully Vida handles the complex nature of forgiveness -- that it is at once a selfish and generous act. (whenever the topic of forgiveness comes up, it makes me think of the excellent Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode I Only Have Eyes For You, where Buffy is feeling understandably betrayed by Evil Angel and taking it out on the MoTW ghost by saying he doesn't deserve the forgiveness he seeks. Giles tells her "To forgive is an act of compassion, Buffy. It's not done because people deserve it. It's done because they need it," which always struck me as being one of those lessons that once learned makes life so much better.)

Anyway... Vendela Vida was the one participant of the Sassy Stories panel I saw at Wordstock who did not trip my irritation mechanism, so I was most pleased to see that it was no fluke. My mechanism is calibrated correctly! The book is really good, but if that weren't reason enough, how about because her name is so delightful to say? Vendela Vida, Vendela Vida... try it a few times and you'll see what I mean! (is that creepy? I don't mean to be creepy. Maybe you should just get the book and say the name quietly to yourself...)