Image Slider

rodeo jail. what about you?

| On
Monday, April 30, 2007
Okay, okay! I wasn't really in rodeo jail! (but I didn't have a cowboy hat, so it was a near thing...) The past 48 hours have seen me in the forest, at the beach, in the high desert as well as the wild west. More soon. I am so tired from being in the car so long, AND I was forced to quit reading the book I am reading about 12 pages from THE END so I must finish it right now or go crazy. (let me tell you, the thought of this book was the only thing that kept me sane in the zero hours I spent cooling my heels (sans spurs) in the dusty confines of rodeo jail. DID THE BUTLER DO IT?? I kept asking myself as the sheriff tipped back in his chair and opined (not for the first time) that city girls could learn a thing or two if they'd quit being so uppity and just wear the goddamned hat as required by law.)

More soon. I don't really think the butler did it (I think it was the cook!) but I've been wrong before, god knows...


| On
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Guess what, guess what! I received a skinny letter from the hospital today. My skinny letter did not say that which I dreaded (where is our money??) but instead said "Legacy recognizes that medical bills are often unexpected and difficult to pay..." and went on to tell me my balance was ZERO! Woo!!!

I have already paid quite a bit toward various other doctors and services not covered under the "hospital bill" portion, but this was the big scary thing that has been hanging over my head for months. I've been thinking about it even when I'm not thinking about it. You know how it is.

Anyway, hooray! (and lest you worry that I am defrauding tax payers or taking vaccines from little babies -- which I HAVE ALREADY WORRIED ABOUT -- this is a private hospital which makes these assessments from on top of a big pile of foundation money. YAY!)

next on the agenda: INSURANCE! and lots of fun. The second part should be easy since friends are coming over in a few hours for craft night. Hooray!

edit: and in the spirit of WHY NOT? (and also because they made me laugh):
+If The Beatles Were Born Today
+Other Options Available On The New Poetry SUV
+Possible Titles for Future Sue Grafton Novels After She Runs Out of Letters.
+Horror Movie Titles on a Three-Letter Budget (and Subsequent Blurbs)

don't mess with mister in-between

| On
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Yesterday was a tragic waste of a beautiful day. I sowed the seeds of my own misery, which makes it WORSE because I can't blame it all on something else. My sister was very astute and diagnosed me with a case of Carb Overload -- I ate nothing all day but leftover pasta and rhubarb crisp. NOTHING. And I wondered why I had no attention span and why even things that normally bring me joy had me squinting my eyes at them suspiciously! If I had been thinking, a little protein would have cleared that right up. OH, WELL. Today is about trying to clear the carbohydrate fog and deal with stuff, not limited to the following:

Problem: Resumes! wouldn't it be nice to fill out a truthful resume? Not that mine is full of lies, but wouldn't it be refreshing for a hiring manager to select a person based on honest statements like: "I can get along with just about anybody for the purposes of work (unless they are a toxic asshole)" or "I do not mind working for someone -- I don't need to be the boss of everything. This does not mean I am lazy" which leads me to "I think the philosophy of "giving 110%" for most jobs is TROUBLED at best (it's like saying for you I will have 11 fingers!), but don't you think the whole work/life culture is skewed if you're asking that kind of commitment of an employee? why not concentrate on getting the most out of the 60% or so (already outrageous) that you're actually paying for?" or "I have a guilty conscience (with no real reason for it -- I'm not hiding any felony convictions from you or anything), big curiosity (I like to know how things work), and an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. I'm a bargain, I swear!" ???
Solution: work on that cover letter.

Problem: Busby keeps bringing slugs in on his fur. It's every bit as gross as it sounds.
Solution: There is no solution! I'm not going to shave the cat and I can't get rid of all the slugs in the world, as much as I'd like to.

Problem: I'm grounded from walking because I have a blister. Why do I have a blister? Because my sneakers died and I didn't notice in time! (they look fine on the outside, but I should know by now that sneakers only last 4 months for me before they are ugly on the inside.) This ugly sneaker phenomenon also explains my mysterious hip muscle pain. When sneakers die I usually start getting pain in my shins or lower leg, but this time (different brand) it was all weird and surprising.
Solution: I have new sneakers! once the blister goes away, I'll be golden.

Problem: my hair. OMG! It is making me crazy. Not poor Britney Spears crazy, but I feel myself becoming more and more understanding of the impulse to shave it all off in a strip mall. (I did try to make an appointment yesterday, but I got voice mail which made me crazier so I hung up.)
Solution: Call back today and make the appointment before I check myself into (and out of, then back into) crazy rehab.


I think The Secret as a commercial entity is cash-generating flim-flam pyramid-scheme bullshit, but I do believe that my thoughts have not inconsiderable power over my experience. Not that I can create things with my mind or anything, but I know that I can whip myself into a negative self-fulfilling prophecy loop when I concentrate on what's WRONG instead of what's RIGHT or even not so bad. With that in mind and since I've spent plenty of time whining, let's give equal time to wonderful things. Here's some current good stuff: Blatant cheer-up songs that I have on my iPod (sometimes I need to have it spelled out for me):

Keep On The Sunny Side -- The Whites: From the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack. This is old-timey and quasi-religious but sometimes it's just what I need. I skip it often, but if I'm in a really black mood I make myself listen. It helps. What I like about it is that it doesn't try to say that things aren't so bad, it just says that the wheel of fortune will turn eventually, and it will get better. "o the storm and its furies rage today/ crushing hope that we cherish so dear/ the cloud and storm will in time pass away/ and the sun will again shine bright and clear" I am far more likely to listen to this than to something that insists that everything is FINE and quit being so dramatic already.

Hang On Little Tomato -- Pink Martini: This one is a bit of a problem since it's about a tomato hanging on until it can be ripe enough to be made into KETCHUP, but aside from that it's really charming and cheering. It has a long old-fashioned summery sounding clarinet introduction, which I like. The message is very on the nose, but when I'm working my way into a black mood sometimes I need to have the obvious pointed out. "just hang on, hang on to the vine/ Stay on, soon you’ll be divine/ If you start to cry, look up to the sky/Something’s coming up ahead/To turn your tears to dew instead"

Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive -- Kelly Hogan/ Ella Fitzgerald: In a lovely bit of synchronicity I discovered that this song, which I've been enjoying by Kelly Hogan and Jon Rauhouse for many years, is on the Ella Sings the Harold Arlen Songbook CD that I am enjoying right now! I love both versions, but I think I have to give this one to Kelly, if only because it sounds way dirtier when she sings it. Especially during the gospel-like call to listen at the beginning of the song: "Gather Round me, everybody/ gather round me, while I preach some/ feel a sermon, comin' on me/ the topic will be sin, and that's what I'm again' "... when Kelly sings it, it sounds like it's not so much that she's against sin as RIGHT UP AGAINST IT which makes me laugh even when I'm in a bad mood. They're both great, though. "you've got to bring joy up to the maximum/ bring blues down to the minimum/ have faith, or pandemonium's liable to walk upon the scene" TRUE ENOUGH!

Here Comes The Sun -- the Beatles: In contrast to the brash and cheery advice of the previous song, this one offers gentle hope. "Here comes the sun, here comes the sun/ And I say it's all right /Little darlin' it's been a long cold lonely winter 
/Little darlin' it feels like years since it's been here /Here comes the sun, here comes the sun /And I say it's all right" George says it, and I (sometimes) believe it!

since that's 4 problems and 4 cheer-up songs, let's tip the scale to good things -- here are a couple of links that I have been enjoying:

In case you missed it (as I did) youtube has, at least for now, a link to the Colbert Report's Meta-Free-Phor-All in which Stephen Colbert competes against Sean Penn in a metaphor contest judged by former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinksky. (I about died when they had him plug his latest poem!) hee hee hee! edit: damn! that was fast -- youtube took it down, but you can watch the Meta-Free-Phor-All: Shall I Nail Thee to a Summer's Day match up between Penn and Colbert here in Comedy Central's much clunkier interface. (it's worth it for the Robert Frost trash-talking alone!)

Miranda July (I love her name!) is hit or miss for me (hit more often than miss, though) but I LOVE this website for her new book. You don't have to spend a quadrillion dollars to be effective: No One Belongs Here More Than You

wordstock, where are you?

| On
Saturday, April 21, 2007

(photo from 2005)

Wordstock is what I should be doing this weekend, but for some reason that has not been adequately explained, the third instance of this lovely book festival has been moved to November. Why have they moved it?!? (Who are THEY?) I should be making tough decisions between author readings right now! I should be sidling up to various Wordstock tables and availing myself of free bookmarks RIGHT NOW. I am trying to be generous and assume there are valid reasons, but I don't have enough information. (I know, I know, being generous shouldn't require information, but I am naturally curious.) Did they need time to raise more money? Maybe it was too hard to get authors to come out when it was just the week before the much bigger L.A. Times Festival of Books? Couldn't book space in the convention center because of the strong arm of the NALC: Letter Carriers Retiree Banquet? Some sort of anti-bookish cabal blocking the festivities? If there is a conspiracy, I need to know. Bah! Spring is the perfect time for this festival, not in an already crowded November.

Oh, well. They didn't ask me for my opinion, despite my absolute willingness to share it. At length. (shut up.) So, to commemorate Wordstock Past and in anticipation of Wordstock Future, here are some links and pictures:

My first post on the first-ever Wordstock book fair in 2005 is here. (I think I went on for about 18 posts prior JUST on the Wordstock-themed Livewire, which was not only full of wonderful booky goodness, but also the first live radio show I ever attended. It was very exciting.)

For my deep thoughts on Wordstock 2006, click here.

The result of some quick flickr searching brings me the following bookish pictures:

cherry ames

That Cherry Ames couldn't hold a job! Yes, I have two copies of Senior Nurse. Let's pretend that one is her senior year of nursing school, and one is her life as a senior citizen nurse.

Friends of the library swag

Check out my swag from last year's Friends of the Library sale! I went on the last day when everything is even more ridiculously cheap -- I think I got all of this for just over $3.00.

Ian Rankin

I dragged a friend to see Ian Rankin at Powell's on Monday. She loves him, but was unlikely to attend without my obnoxious insistence. I haven't read any of his books yet, but having a charming Scottish raconteur talk to me for an hour was no chore.


up to the minute

| On
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
So, because I like to keep on the razor sharp edge of what's happening RIGHT THIS MINUTE, I just finished watching season 1 of Entourage on DVD. (it is currently in its 3rd season on HBO.) I'll admit, it took me a couple of episodes to warm up to it, but once I had my a-ha moment and realized that the young-actor-in-Hollywood culture being explored was as foreign to me as the wild west of Deadwood*, I was able to settle in and watch it without thinking "those assholes!" every 12 seconds.

Some basic background: Vince Chase is a hot young actor who moved to Los Angeles with "his boys" from back home in New York. There's E, who acts as his de facto manager; Johnny Drama, his older half-brother who was in a show called Viking Quest 10 years ago (think Hercules); and Turtle, who as far as I can tell is there for purposes of procurement and excess consumption. The other main person (in season 1 at least) is Vince's agent Ari.

initial thoughts:

+ those assholes!

+ is there a more stupid, more ridiculous or reprehensible vehicle than a banana yellow Hummer? (answer: only a stretch banana yellow Hummer)

+ Is this what guys sound like when they're alone?

+ Perhaps I am judging too harshly.

+ Surely they will give Jeremy Piven a better toupe as the series goes on. (and they do! My prediction is that soon there will be less stigma for being bald or wearing a toupe. The population is aging, it seems like it has to happen sooner or later. They can call them cheveux chapeaus or something.)

+ Oh.My.God. are there any women on this show who do more than slither around on a pole or threaten to break up the band?!? (... a couple, but honestly women have a lot more agency on Deadwood -- which is set 150 years in the past and 80% of those women are whores. This (along with the recent Supreme Court decision) does not fill my heart with hope.) Maybe Entourage gets better in this regard during seasons 2-3. I do love Debi Mazar, and Mrs. Ari looks like she may play a bigger part.

+ I think Johnny Drama may be my favorite member of the entourage so far, which surprises me. He's never going to have the success of Vince and he knows it, but he has his dignity.

+ I haven't really warmed up to Vince yet -- he's the pretty-faced enigma at the center of it all, but he just sort of floats along. He's almost pathologically conflict averse, except I'm sure he wouldn't see it that way. (example: he never breaks up with anyone, he just stops calling -- in his mind, this is a kindness.) I find myself not liking him much (although I don't dislike him either), sort of like I didn't really like Bullock -- the purported hero of Deadwood -- at first either. (Evil Ari, like evil Al Swearengen is so much more charismatic.) But the whole thing pivots on Vince! I am forced to admit that by the last couple of episodes of the season (the ones with the crazy director) it seemed like they were diving a little below Vince's placid surface. I liked how that whole final transaction happened right in front of E, but it was incomprehensible to him because he wasn't picking up that artiste vibe.

+ Ari: the asshole you love to hate. I have enjoyed Jeremy Piven in other things (CUPID! I miss that show...), but he seems to have found the part he was born to play. He's got that high-strung needy energy thing going on that's so perfect for Ari.

+ I am hooked enough that I want to see what happens next, particularly with E taking on the part of official manager. I guess I'd better put season 2 on hold as soon as I have some room on my hold list.

* (I have only seen the first two seasons of Deadwood -- don't tell me how it ends!)

some things about sunday

| On
Sunday, April 15, 2007
tickler file

Kleenex used today: innumerable! I have a cold. Or allergies. Or something that makes me sneeze (which terrifies one of the cats -- it would be funny if he weren't so traumatized and betrayed by it EVERY TIME). Anyway, it's not too bad as yet and it sort of feels like (knock on wood) it might just fade away. Or maybe that's the Tylenol Severe Allergy medication talking. In the meantime I have kleenex shoved up my nose. It's quite fetching, let me assure you.

Hours spent running a repair disk on my computer: NINE!!! I need to upgrade to Tiger because nothing works anymore on Panther (it works, but just slow, slow, slow) but I can't do that until I fix ( aka run a program to fix) some broken thing. Of course since it took nine freaking hours to RUN this program, I haven't installed the new thing yet, so I don't even know if it works. I trust that it will. I'm trying some sincere blind optimism instead of my usual OH GOD let's try to look on the bright side disguised pessimism. We'll see how that goes. If it works here, maybe I'll branch out.

Word that contributers to The Believer need to lay off: Quotidian. It's lovely, I'll admit -- but like mongolian fire oil I think a couple of shakes are PLENTY. (of course my overused words tend to be "random" or "awesome", so maybe I don't get to vote.) For the first couple of computer fixing hours I thought "why don't I just read these back issues of The Believer while I wait?" Quotidian Quotidian Quotidian. It has lost all meaning!

Library Oddness: I was doing the paging list today and pulled one book called The Sun King, followed shortly by The Shadow King (different authors, different patrons requesting). It's not that weird, but I thought it was kind of fun.

... and now I am going to get some more kleenex and go to sleep. I hope people had a lovely weekend.

bounced: my life as juror #36

| On
Friday, April 13, 2007

I have been working on a jury post and it has been a struggle to not include every bleeping detail -- but I'd rather give the bleeping details of the Simic reading and I realize there is limited patience for bleeping details! (personally, I love bleeping details, for with them I could tell about the guy obsessed with 2001: A Space Odyssey and the mysterious jury room quote "well, you know Wagner -- they're all Ilsa!", but I can be brief, practice brevity. whatever.)

Friday: arrive at courthouse and realize I am one of about 150 potential jurors for a murder/conspiracy case from about 10 years ago. After people who have successfully petitioned the judge to leave have left, the computer draws a random sampling of 75 people who then get a 16 page questionnaire to fill out. I am one of those 75. Everyone else goes home. I wonder briefly if it is overkill to list both Dick Cheney AND GWB in the "3 people I admire the least" question. (I do leave a note that if they are considering people from all of history, please add Hitler.) Due to my randomly generated number -- 36 -- I am told to come back on Tuesday at 1:30. They take my picture and slap it onto my questionnaire. I have visions of lawyers arguing about it ("she looks shifty!") but what can you do?

Tuesday: I am back, and 1:30 is apparently a hilarious joke in court time. 3:30 comes and goes, then we are finally escorted into the courtroom where the voir dire (jury questioning) gets underway. The defense attorney goes first, and I am actually asked a fair number of questions, which surprises me since I don't consider myself to be controversial in any way. The District Attorney takes much less time with his questions, yet still asks me more than one. I am now regretting verbosity in my questionnaire. 5:00 rolls around, which unlike 1:30 is no joke in the courtroom and therefore the day is over. We're told to plan on coming back at 10:30 Wednesday, unless we get a call by 7pm telling us we don't have to. No phone call.

Wednesday: I take the train downtown and feel like a good citizen/commuter. Today I am stashed in a different jury room (the allegedly "more comfortable" one, which is maybe a foot wider, but smells like pee), but don't have to wait long -- we file into the courtroom, and I notice that between the two groups that are left there are only about 30 people. Someone made a lot of phone calls. The judge asks a couple of questions (did any of you see either the district attorney or defense counsel coming into the building?), and then says " this is how it's going to work -- I'm going to read off the 15 names that have been selected, and the rest of you can go home." Now, seriously -- why did they make 30 people come in when they already knew which 15 they wanted? I know they need some leeway, but come on! I was NOT selected -- there was a period of a few hours right after where I felt rejected and ridiculous until I started inventing outrageous reasons why I wasn't picked. (my favorite: "It's obvious that you are wise like Solomon, which makes the judge uncomfortable.") Then I went to the library to drop off a book and ran into one of the librarians who said that they will totally bounce you in this kind of case if it looks like you have any kind of social conscience at all. Whew! Then I found this quote (from the above site) " Trial lawyers with cases to win don't necessarily want conscientious juries, only ones favorable to their side. In weak cases, the best approach to be taken by lawyers may be to choose jurors who are easily swayed by their feelings or easily confused. This may lead to the removal of the most capable and impartial jurors from a panel," and felt even better. (For myself. I feel worse for justice.) I think it would have been very interesting to see how it all happens from the inside (instead of from television, which if the answers given by some of my fellow potential jurors is any indication, is a PROBLEM), but it didn't work out that way. I know I've done my civic duty, but I was willing to do more. (and I am compelled to add that I am totally fair!! )

in my plan, we are beltless

| On
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Weirdest Thing about Courthouse Security: It's not taking off my belt and putting it in the tray with my bag, it's the strangely disembodied sensation of putting my belt BACK ON alongside a host of unsavory types often found in courthouses -- people that I would never voluntarily be fastening or unfastening my belt around. It's weirdly intimate, even as I'm standing on the marble steps with 20 other people in the exact same situation. I know, I know! This is no doubt standard procedure in an airport, but it has been one hundred thousand years (aprox.) since I've been anywhere on a plane, so it's new to me. Tomorrow: a dress with no belt. mwahahaha!

I still don't know if I'm on the jury or not. The wheels of justice turn slowly.

vapo-vision (with photos)

| On
Monday, April 09, 2007
Tonight I got to see Charles Simic read. I have many thoughts about this which I will write up soon, but for now, know that if I could vaporize with my mind the following: people with ringing phones, persistent coughers who decide to tough it out, and chronic fidgeters, there would be several piles of dust on the pews of the First Congregational Church.

Tomorrow I go back down to the courthouse for my jury selection interview. I'm weirdly nervous about it, but honestly I get weirdly nervous about most things. I'm glad to get to see how this next phase works, but if I don't get selected I'm okay with that, too.

here are some pictures from my monday:
in front of the Portland Art Museum (across the street from the Simic reading). I found princess parking and therefore had time to snap some pictures.

I wasn't fooling around about the Dickinson bookmarks!

those are some short shorts
hee hee hee. This is vintage 30's fabric (not reproduction) on a 9 patch quilt top that Blondie made for me several years ago. It cracks me up! What's not to love? The mustache alone!!!

law and order: trial by poem

| On
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Tomorrow (Friday) I go and sit for what may be hours and hours or may be no time at all to see if I'll be selected for jury duty. I've made the call the summons told me to make -- I was informed to allow 45 minutes to clear security. This seems crazy, but this is the world we live in. I have 2 issues of The Believer that I haven't read yet and a large capacity for people watching, so it should be interesting no matter how long it takes. The summons informed me that this was for a special session of the blah blah circuit court, and due to the complexity of the case blah blah, I could expect to serve three weeks if selected-- maybe longer. (I always picture the judge arriving on horseback for circuit court, like in a western!) Anyway, we'll see.

In more exciting news, April is National Poetry Month! I wanted to make at least some acknowledgment before the first week was over. Honestly, I kind of forgot about it, but I must have known subconsciously because I have all of these poem-y things checked out of the library and am hopping around at the prospect of the Charles Simic reading Monday. My inner cheapskate (reactionary, boring) is APPALLED that this reading is 18.00, but my inner Simic-lover (possessed, determined) will prevail.

Ooh, right. Here's what I have going on poetry-wise from the library:

++ just finished Essential Dickinson: Selected with an introduction by Joyce Carol Oats. MY GOD! I'll have more on this later (quelle suprise!), but for now I'll say that I had no idea that she was so obsessed with The Brain and Madness, and I started ripping my bookmark (library hold slip) into ever smaller pieces to mark poems that made my mouth hang open. (This was in the bathtub, so it's trickier than it sounds.)

++ just picked up a Charles Simic volume that I have yet to read -- this was before I realized he'd be here on Monday! I should probably be more forgiving of that other library Simic-reader out there who always seems to be foiling my renewal and checking out plans, because he or she did return this before they had to.

++ have a volume by Stephen Dobyns IN TRANSIT to me! I'd never heard of him at all until a couple of days ago when I stumbled across one of his poems on some other Poetry Month celebrator's blog.

++ There's a Mary Oliver volume that has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of months now. I've liked what I've read of her previously (although what I've read tends to quietly powerful beauty rather than the bottom of my heart just fell out and was replaced by sparklers excitement I get from my very favorite poets), but I haven't started this book yet.. maybe because it's titled Winter Hours and I'm in spring mode? I should probably just open it up and see instead of making it into some sort of Schrödinger's poetry collection.

Okay, I should go to bed at a reasonable hour so I don't look so disreputable in the morning that I am forced into the EXTRA security security line. But first, here's a Dickinson poem on the topic of The Crazy, and How The Man Doesn't Get That My Crazy Is Actually Very Sane:


Much Madness is divinest Sense--
To a discerning Eye--
Much Sense--the starkest Madness--
'Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail--
Assent--and you are sane--
Demur--you're straightaway dangerous--
And handled with a Chain--

Any favorite poems or poets? I'm always looking for somebody new (or old) since I have very scattered/limited poetry exposure.

The Keep

| On
Thursday, April 05, 2007
by Jennifer Egan
This book is a layer cake, or maybe russian nesting dolls. I will spare you the tortured cake analogy I devised (there was fondant frosting of...dread!) and try to identify some of what made this book so enjoyable for me without giving away any of its twisty turns. (oh no! now I have revealed that there are twisty turns!)

The Keep has the hallmarks of a classic gothic novel: twins, ghosts, childhood trauma, shifting alliances, untrustworthy narrator(s), untrustworthy everyone else, spooky moonlight, crumbling castles, underground passageways, thwarted escape, claustrophobia, story within story -- yet there is a crackly modern energy that keeps it from being a pastiche. Being able to comment on a genre from within is tricky, but I think Egan pulls it off beautifully. I know Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters did a bit of this back in the day, but hers were generally intended to be FUNNY and were often set in the past, which, while presenting difficulties of their own does allow for a little "ho ho, isn't it ridiculous that I, Plucky McGoverness, am running across the moor in my nightie chased by a wolf who may or may not be the Master of Blacktower when the moon is not full" distance. The Keep doesn't allow that kind of comic separation because it takes the world of the novel (even as it turns inside out at various points) very seriously. It does have a different distancing mechanism which I cannot reveal without giving too much away! (note to self: this "mustn't give too much away" thing is very convenient when it's hard to think of what to write.)

I first read this novel in August/Septemberish of last year and a couple of things have really stuck with me. First, I love that Egan gave a name to The Worm, that little parasite of doubt that can unfold in the gut if one is not vigilant. "Fear was dangerous. It let in the worm: another word Danny and his friends had invented all those years ago, smoking pot or doing lines of coke and wondering what to call that thing that happened to people when they lost confidence and got phony, anxious, weird. Was it paranoia? Low self-esteem? Insecurity? Panic? Those words were all too flat. But the worm, which is the word they finally picked, the worm was three dimensional: it crawled inside a person and started to eat until everything collapsed..."

Other things (beyond The Worm and the darting loop de loops the plot took in the last third) have stayed with me. She makes some "technology is the new magic" arguments which are not new, but I found them particularly interesting in the context of the gothic; I've enjoyed turning them over in my head, anyway. The other thing, which was really only glanced upon (and by a somewhat unreliable character), was the notion that many of us modern day mortals have lost the ability to amuse ourselves. Imaginations have become flabby and lazy; the convenience and constant availability of modern entertainments have removed the need to create our own songs and stories. This raised the specter of one of my multi-part perennial rants (topic of "amateur isn't a dirty word"), but that's veering off a bit further than I intend right now. (Here's a tiny bit: Not only do we no longer believe we can do it -- or have the right to do it, since it has now entered the realm of the "professional" -- but we no longer even think to try. Obviously, I don't mean people who identify as writers or painters or musicians whether they get paid or not -- I'm talking about people who are so out of touch with their own innate creativity that they think it's not something they even have a right to explore. I get really wound up about this for some reason.)

Back to The Keep: It was a lot of fun! If you like gothic stories you'll probably like it too, unless you don't like someone mucking around with the form a bit -- if that's the case, it might just make you mad. Anyway, I found the ending to be surprising (usually you can see where these things will go) but very satisfying.

spring picture spam

| On
Sunday, April 01, 2007
springtime at the park

I promise I'll stop with the spring picture spam sometime soon. Maybe. I'll try, anyway. (photo note: The two dogs visible in this picture were just about wriggling out of their skins with springtime JOY.) I was looking for a winter picture from the same angle (which I could not find), but I did find this:

are you lookin' at me?

I'm telling you, that squirrel has it in for me!

Housekeeping: I have switched over to one of blogger's new Layouts. There are things I like (the archive) and things I don't (...change is scary), but I'm going to try it for a little while and see how it goes. I guess I can always switch back if I decide I don't like it. Spring seemed like a good time to freshen up. edit: good thing I copied my template before I made the switch -- blogger neglected to update any changes in my links for the past three months or so, but I was able to re-add them.

In random other news:
Commercials that make me laugh because they are funny or sweet:

"Roger, you tiger now." Poor stupid Roger. Tattoos are forever my friend!

The Gap ad with "Anything You Can Do" and CLAIRE DANES! I didn't realize it was her, but it totally is! She apparently has studied dance for years. I think it's so charming and true enough to the spirit of the song that Ethel Merman belting it out to sell khaki trousers doesn't bother me too much. (it's not like they reanimated her like Zombie Orville Redenbacher.)

Commercial that makes me laugh because it is ridonculous: BONIVA -- Poor Sally Field's friend!! She has to waste so much time taking a pill ONCE A WEEK instead of just once a month like lucky smart Sally. (they even have a hilarious shot of a hand sweeping off those FOUR pills from a calendar, and replacing it with just one.) Good thing these women never had to take daily pills like, oh, I don't know... multi-vitamins or birth control -- they'd never be able to leave the house!

Commercial that boggles my mind: AARP using the Buzzcocks' Everybody's Happy Nowadays. The day that they use Orgasm Addict for Levitra or Viagara will be a day I laugh a LOT. Unlike Iggy's Lust for Life (for Carnival Cruises, of all things), I don't think they can cut around the liquor and drugs, if you know what I mean and I think that you do. "he's always at it!" (Please consult your doctor if you experience blah blah blah.)