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messy, messy

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Thursday, May 31, 2007
I am having a messy brain phase. I've been trying to get it together and post something all week but nothing will coalesce, preferring instead to settle into messy stacks that rearrange themselves into even messier stacks when I'm not looking. This condition is unfortunately contagious. Everything within a 50 foot radius of me looks like it just rolled down the side of a mountain.

My Free Will Astrology Horoscope (cancer) advises "not to resent the confusion before you. And don't just mindlessly clean it up as fast as you can, either. Instead, dive into it. Celebrate it. Allow it to change you into a riper, wiser, more beautiful soul." To which I say... ooookay. If you say so, Mr. Horoscope.

Illustrated Mess:

the time to prune is soon

This is in the front yard and I'll admit that high noon and this angle do not really show it off to its best advantage, but DUDE it is MESSY. It smells good, though, so there is that. I will try to get some photos that are more flattering later in the evening (midday sun is not doing favors for anyone/anything and you can't see foxglove or peonies or iris or anything, really...), but this one does illustrate the overgrown out of control mess of it all. At least it's kind of a beautiful mess.

projects in progress

Current projects are, not surprisingly, also messy. I just stood on a chair to take this picture -- these things are pretty much exactly as I left them 2 days ago when I last worked with them. (I am in a dots and loteria phase -- fun but not tidy -- and this isn't even the table with the sewing machine. I'm a multi-table crafting disaster.) However, in the spirit of my horoscope, I'm looking forward to making an even bigger mess tonight when crafty pals come over and we "work on stuff" which usually translates into shuffling things around while drinking/talking/eating. (Which is very fun and I'm so glad we do it once a month!)

cryptic parking lot message

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Monday, May 28, 2007
cryptic message

I found this note on Friday in the parking lot of the Midland branch library. I'd never been to that branch and decided to check it out since I was in the neighborhood. (it was great except for the clerk trash talking my regular branch! [by trash talking I mean making a fairly neutral comment that was technically true, but not particularly effusive with praise so I was immediately and personally offended and ready to enter into a Sharks v. Jets fingersnapping library branch smackdown. I have since overcome this urge.]) ANYWAY -- I got out of my car and looked on the ground (as one does) and there was this note! I couldn't tell if it had been stuck under the wipers of someone's car and abandoned, if it fell out of a book bag, or if it was just some kids goofing around in the library (since this is on the note paper provided inside)... Was it left on purpose, or was it dropped? I'm not sure what it means. Since it doesn't say "The grass is always greener on the other side" like the saying usually goes, I wonder if the mysterious note-writer isn't saying what some of us fear is true: the grass really IS greener over there! Of course there was no map on the back with instructions on where to find "the other side," so I guess it will remain a mystery.

Holiday weekends are weird. Sometimes good, sometimes bad... this one was great fri-sat-sun, but today kind of came unglued. The itch returned. I may have been a little premature with the whole 'brain itch defeated!' victory dance in my last post. I am beginning to think it can never be entirely defeated, just staved off or temporarily soothed. Maybe there could be an infomercial on Living With Brain Itch, with some sort of numbered solution available in kit form.

Speaking of itching, my scar itches. Most of the time I don't even know it's there since the swelling is almost entirely gone, but every now and then I can FEEL IT from the inside which is just weird! I'm not used to being aware of my face in this way. I know it's just tissue repairing itself or some other miracle of biology, but I can't help but wonder when it gets itchy if it means my own personal Voldemort is near, or maybe the itchy scar means travel? a visit from a stranger? finding money? good luck? bad luck? It's hard to keep this stuff straight.

In news unrelated to choreographed library smackdowns, found notes OR itchy scars (but related to messages on pavement)... check out what happened near my local park this weekend:

beautiful intersection

They (the neighborhood association? I'm unclear who, exactly, is responsible) painted a lovely blue bullseye with goldfish in the middle of the intersection!

blue swirls in the intersection

I love the idea, but I'll be curious to see how long the paint lasts with cars driving over it all day.

pavement goldfish

Even if it only lasts a week or a month, I think it is wonderful. It's easy to get caught up in the idea that art is only valuable if it is permanent, has some Higher Purpose, or can be bought and sold... I like the idea of this intersection painting that seemingly has no purpose other than to make people smile or say "what is going on here?!?" or even "are my tax dollars paying for this??" It's fun, and I am of the opinion that more fun is not a bad thing at all.

brain itch defeated!

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Friday, May 25, 2007
mmmm... ketchup

Yesterday I had the Brain Itch, and not the fun 'ooh, that's a good idea, I cannot rest until I've done it' kind, either. Luckily, it turned out to be the 12 hour strain; by evening it had slunk back to the burlap cave where it lurks in wait to pounce on me unawares. (Me, unawares -- it knows what its doing.) Things that sent it packing this time? Thai take-out was a crucial component, as was finishing Walking the Black Cat by Charles Simic. (So good!) The best part, though, was when I had a Scales Fall From My Eyes Epiphany while reading the book and listening to some music. I love those so much, especially when the result is less agita and brain itch for me!

And now, some random things:

++ I LOVE this little 30 second clip -- it's freaky animation for some of that deeply weird writing found at the bottom of spam email. The little guy reminds me of Jeremy whatshisname from Yellow Submarine. There are two others in the series that are equally trippy and well worth checking out. (via boing boing)

++ It smells SO GOOD right now here in Portland I can't even tell you. This time of year is one of the most beautiful if you ask me -- the sun is starting to come out in reliable quantity, the roses are all blooming like mad, the foxglove are getting tall (I love them because they make me think of fairy tales and digitalis poisoning via Agatha Christie), the peonies are making a voluptuous mess. It's all very abundant right now. Oh, right, the smell! (The Smell makes it sound like some sort of unspeakable horror, doesn't it? Like "smell this milk and tell me if you think it's gone bad.") The Fragrance? The Aroma? The Stink? None of them are right... Anyway, the air smells very sweet once the sun warms everything up: lavender, cut grass, sweet alyssum, sweet woodruff, that thing I can never identify, peonies, roses, etc. The bees (and yes, I have seen some of the giant furry black and yellow bumblebees as well as honeybees) are going out of their wee little bee minds.

++ Meg Cabot cracks me up, re: a reading she gave at a middle school -- I bet Salman Rushdie and writers like that NEVER get to do events like the one I did at Gregory Middle School. Ha ha, suckas! You get fatwahs, I get cake!

++ I was talking with a friend recently about the importance of the Nutty Adventure (a term I first read by Robert Christgau in reference to seeing 30 concerts in 30 days). I think we'd all have a bit more fun if more people adapted the Nutty Adventure Model. This poem from Walking the Black Cat illustrates the concept brilliantly and with such style "Cutting a great dash"... it is all I can do to not go get a Marie Antoinette wig this very minute.

Theatrical Costumes

A present from neighborly burglars
For us to dress up
On a dull day
In a manner fantastic

Cutting a great dash
As we descend the stairs
In our powdered wigs and high-heeled shoes
Into the busy street,
Crossing it against the screeching
Traffic, and entering
The Burger Heaven with a swish
Of your long skirts
And not even a Say what?
From the astonished customers

You are dressed like Marie Antoinette
And I am all in black
Like her executioner
Or her father confessor.
It's New York City. It's hot.
The fire alarms are ringing everywhere.

The French Queen is putting
A lot of ketchup on her fries.
Her executioner is inserting
A lit ciggie in each ear
And blowing the smoke out his mouth.

Charles Simic

flowers not rants

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I had a whole host of rants ranging from THE SUN (which was very tardy today), to Tucker Carlson (excerpt: The kind of casual hey baby can't you take a joke asshole fratboy white dude misogyny exhibited by his witless repartee infuriates and exhausts me), to the state of the Industrial Craft and Hobby Complex (the only thing they want to be creative about is how to take your money). But these things made me tired and depressed -- not what I'm striving for!

So instead, here's some good stuff: the sun eventually did show up (better late than never), Tucker Carlson was out of eye-sporking range (no jail for me!) AND I made three collages that are different from what I've been doing -- they were such fun to make. Hooray!

And to pretty it up around here, some colorful flower pictures. The top one is a poppy on its way to having no petals, and the bottom one is from the center of an epiphyllum. (which sounds like it should be a Jules Verne novel: Voyage From the Center of the Epiphyllum, in which our intrepid heroes must avoid a giant BEE and the tentacle-like Stamens of Doom.)


brief weekend inventory

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Sunday, May 20, 2007
curly ferns

1. My library card has been found! It was in a bag that I had already thoroughly searched, so CLEARLY the villain who absconded with it (in my mind, he looks like the hamburgler) is trying to gaslight me with some replacement shenanigans.

2. Wildlife as good omen: Saturday I saw a bald eagle and last week a pair of hawks flew right over my head in the middle of the city. I don't know why, but these seemed like good things to me, especially the hawks. Oh, and the butterfly!

3. The Handler/Meloy reading was such fun! (despite the fact that parking is WORSE in suburban mall parking lot Beaverton than it is downtown.) more details soon. Here is a quote (re: Edward Gorey) to give you an idea of the tone of the discussion. "In my dreams, I killed him." (it was funny, I swear!)

4. I have a library nemesis. Well, okay, maybe he's just a competent adult volunteer who has been working the same time as I have the past couple of Sundays... but I'm the competent adult who works for free on Sundays! I am spoiled and accustomed to doing my own thing and he's horning in on my projects... I'm getting some quality muttering in, let me tell you. (truthfully, the worst part is that I was thrown for such a loop at the interruption to my routine and assumed that they brought him in because somehow I wasn't good enough. LUNACY! I am apparently quite happy to be the imagined center of the universe, but only if I can put some sort of negative spin on it. I'm better now. Mostly.) In other news, my library nemesis was at the Handler/ Meloy reading, which was hilarious to my companions because I had been regaling them with tales of his villainy on the way over ("and then he PUT ALL THE BOOKS AWAY!").

7% class, baby

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Saturday, May 19, 2007
I don't usually post test things, but Classic Dames = fun! Although, as I do not find myself tripping over interesting men who have fallen at my feet and wonder at the implications of "others might be... more conventionally woman-like," it is possible that this here internet test is not 100% accurate. But you'll end up with a fun picture of Carole Lombard, Barbara Stanwyck, Katharine Hepburn, Myrna Loy or likewise, so what the hell.

Your Score: Katharine Hepburn

You scored 11% grit, 47% wit, 47% flair, and 7% class!

You are the fabulously quirky and independent woman of character. You go your own way, follow your own drummer, take your own lead. You stand head and shoulders next to your partner, but you are perfectly willing and able to stand alone. Others might be more classically beautiful or conventionally woman-like, but you possess a more fundamental common sense and off-kilter charm, making interesting men fall at your feet. You can pick them up or leave them there as you see fit. You share the screen with the likes of Spencer Tracy and Cary Grant, thinking men who like strong women.

Find out what kind of classic leading man you'd make by taking the
Classic Leading Man Test

Link: The Classic Dames Test written by gidgetgoes on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

no one ever suspects the butterfly

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

(note: this photo was from last July. that flower isn't blooming yet.)

I think I saw the first swallowtail of the season! Either it was a butterfly or a leaf or I am having The Hallucinations. For obvious reasons, I'm going with butterfly.

Thanks to Maggie at Bootstrap Productions for saying such sweet things! I know no one will ever believe me now, but I have been working on a 'Daily Blogs I Love' post, and BP is high on the list! (btw, I know of secret easy Powell's parking --if you're ever in a position where you need this information, let me know and I'll give you the coordinates.)

and now, because I love a list and haven't done a television one in a while, 5 shows I've been watching:

Gilmore Girls: I will miss this show! It was time for it to go, I know... but there aren't many shows with such well-rounded female characters. It was smart with a heart -- I know a lot of people found it sort of twee and precious, but I was not one of those people. (I am, however, one of those people who can't watch 24 because until I gave it up I had 1800 stress heart attacks a week.) GG was about family and relationships and community, which makes it sound like it could be a preachy bore, but it wasn't. The writing was (mostly) really sharp and zingy but underneath it all was a lot of love, generosity, great music and one of the best tv-fictional depictions of modern women who are smart and capable yet still have doubt and disappointments. That they lived in a Village of Quirky Characters didn't distract from those central facts for me. I'll miss it. Matthew Perpetua wrote a great farewell piece that goes into more specific detail about what made this show so good.

LOST: ha ha ha! there were unexpected bond girls in an underwater communications station/villain's lair! Does this happen on hospital shows or cop shows or lawyer shows? Not the ones I've seen. Too bad there won't be a Sydney Bristow cameo.

Grey's Anatomy spinoff: Addison is just about my favorite thing about GA, and now they're taking her away. I'm not convinced this is a great idea, but I'm willing to give it a chance. notes: does Tim Daly have a portrait aging in a closet somewhere? how can he look exactly the same for 20 years? It's disturbing, is what it is. I am amused that Piz told Veronica he'd be taking a Pitchfork internship, when the truth is he took a position as a fertility clinic shirtless surfing eyecandy himbo who answers the phone. I would also be embarrassed to tell her.

Grey's Anatomy: Meredith, you might as well start writing your blues song now. You drowned, your mothers are all recently dead, your father is grief-wracked, lashing-out, and emotionally unavailable like he's been your whole life and your man is about to do you wrong. Next thing you know, they'll kill your dog. Oh, wait, they already did! Poor Meredith. I wish I cared. The only thing I ever feel for her is pity or annoyance. In an effort to be more generous, I have decided that she has a lovely chin -- it's distinct, well-shaped and sweetly old-fashioned. Izzy/ George is where I'm really irritated with this show right now, though. I think it would have been interesting to explore some fidelity, jealousy and friendship grey areas, but as it stands Callie automatically gets the moral high ground since she's not having the adulterous affair. I think they could have gotten a lot of tension and traction from drawing that out a little bit.

Ugly Betty: This might be my favorite show right now. (apart from GG, which is GONE.) There's a lot of madcap and insanely over the top elements dressing it up, but ultimately it's about people with people problems. Now that I think of it, it sort of reminds me of old-fashioned screwball comedy -- outrageous chaotic events set in a rarified world that Our Heroine handles with quick-thinking aplomb and physical comedy. But she's not always aplombinable, which makes her more relatable and beloved. I think Marc is my favorite non-Betty character, although I really like Christina too (and not just because she was in that Extras bit with Ricky Gervais and David Bowie, although that helps). Even the villains have their reasons on this show. I'm excited to see what happens tonight!

fights like Anne Rice

| On
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Since I correctly predicted that I would have a fine and hi-larious time at the Michael Chabon reading, I can only assume this means that I'm now a powerful psychic since I did indeed have a fine and hilarious time! I'm just waiting for my spoon-bending powers to manifest -- once that happens, look out... spoons.

I am so glad that Anonymous T started hassling my sister and I about the Chabon reading two weeks before it happened -- I probably would have forgotten or missed it, and it was clearly meant to be! Evidence: two days before the reading, our local affiliate showed the Simpson's Wordloaf episode (featuring the one of the best cartoon literary fist fights of all time! Franzen v. Chabon -- see video above).

As I mentioned a couple of posts back, it was a gorgeous day on the 8th -- check out the shadows on this picture of the Powell's marquee. (this is above the 11th and Couch Street entrance.) We moseyed on over and got there about 45 minutes before the reading started. I knew this would be too late for seats, but honestly, anything less than two hours before was probably too late for seats.


Bec and I met Anonymous T and her husband Jim (I would call him Anonymous J, but it would just get confusing) upstairs in the Pearl Room. Powell's has a really nice setup for readings in a space that serves as an art gallery the rest of the time. (I didn't get a great look at what was on display due to the throngs of people, although it seemed to be a fun exhibit. They were kind of sweet pictures from far away, but up close everything had tentacles. Alright, probably not everything.) All of this is found on the top floor, (home to books on art, architecture, photography, film, music, television -- it's a good floor). Like I said, I knew that we would probably have to stand, but I don't think I had quite imagined how many would be standing with us. They could have moved the event to a bigger venue (there are a couple of churches nearby that Powell's will sometimes use when they need more space -- like the one I saw Simic in), but I have to say I kind of liked the cozy chaos of the crowd.

hello booklovers

This photo was shortly before the reading started. The chairs had long ago run out, but the atmosphere was one of cheerful bitching. It's hot/ there's nowhere to sit/ that seven foot giant is squatting now, but you know he's going to stand right in front of me as soon as it starts/ if I had a unicorn ring I would poke my eye out with it on accident and you'd be sorry you ever mentioned it. (that last one may have been specific to our little group.)

When Chabon arrived (right on time, although it seemed late because we'd all been standing around forever, and by forever I mean 30 minutes), the crowd burst into applause. It wasn't obnoxious though -- he's just a really affable, likable guy. He was very modest and gracious (the latter unfortunately proven immediately -- as soon as he got to the podium some old guy came and stood RIGHT IN FRONT of his face with a camera and took his sweet time taking a picture without so much as a by your leave. I'm sure his picture turned out better than my blurry ones, but whatever. ) Anyway, he said he'd read from his new book The Yiddish Policeman's Union: A Novel for about 20 minutes, then answer some questions. He said he especially liked answering dating and relationship questions, and to keep that in mind. (it was funny, honest.) He also said that Powell's was his favorite bookstore. Now, usually I take statements like these to be some kind of blatant suckup to the local crowd, but honestly -- Powell's is pretty amazing and I believed his statement to be True and Heartfelt.

He read a section from his book about a meeting between the main detective character and his ex-wife. As he described the marvelous wonders found within the confines of her handbag, (blankets, flashlights, handwipes, whatever you might need) the girl standing in front of us kept turning around to her mother making "Oh My God, that's just like MY purse" noises. She remained silent and front-facing, however, when he read about how they had sex on every flat or cushioned surface in their home, car, or workplace during the 17 years of their marriage.

The seven foot tall guy DID stand up in front of us the entire time, but I forgive him because while he is very tall, life is short. The question and answer session had some predictable questions about the Kavalier & Clay movie (according to him it's still on, although the details were not very ... detailed). Yes, he liked the movie of Wonder Boys, he just wished more people had seen it, and maybe the poster that made Michael Douglas look like Sally Jesse was not the best marketing tool. (I love that movie!) He gave some background on how he came to be thinking about the current book and situation. (in short, that Israel never really caught on and the Jews were settled in Sitka, Alaska. At the time of the novel, the settlement agreement is about to come to an end and the land will revert to the state of Alaska.)

The best moment (for me) of the whole reading came from something that could have gone so very wrong. There was a rather excited/nervous guy in the back who started his question by asking "I read this magazine article in Harpers, maybe. I think it was Harpers.. it was about 10 years ago... do you know it?" nervous, nervous. handwringing. I was cringing on the inside because it was clear he wasn't able to get out what he was meaning to ask. Or so I thought. Chabon knew better than me, though, because he was nodding his head along and said, "I wrote it!" and then went on to talk about how this article (spurred by seeing a booklet titled Say it in Yiddish: a Traveler's Guide) was the seed for the novel. Anyway, it was a lovely moment, and a good reminder for me that there is no shame in asking! He also answered the question "why Alaska?" One of the reasons (and I thought this was so cool) was because of the place names -- there are a lot of Russian place names in Alaska still from when they were part of the Russian Territory. These place names worked well with the invented Eastern European Jewish Yet Alaskan nomenclature he came up with. Once he said that, some of the other stuff clicked into place and it made perfect sense. We'll see if it still does when I read the book!

The line to get stuff signed formed right where we were standing, so it took us a few minutes to press against the surge of Signature Wanting humanity to leave. I took this picture before we headed downstairs -- the line snaked back far beyond where you can see here. I wonder if he got a hand cramp?

fiction new arrivals

After the reading we wandered downstairs and did a little browsing/shopping. Anonymous T. bought a pre-autographed copy of Chabon's book rather than wait in the hideous line. Since there was an Actual Disturbance in the Green Room (security was ejecting a man who did not wish to go, something I've never seen happen there before), I felt unusually free to snap photos since the attention was all on Recalcitrant Guy. This shelf of 100 New Arrivals is near the entrance to the Blue Room. (I love how all the rooms are named by color -- it makes me think of the game Clue or the Andrew Lang fairy books.) Anyway -- Chabon reading was a Good One. Next on the agenda is Daniel Handler in conversation with Colin Meloy. I'm sure there will be parts I love and parts so unbearably precious and arch my Rant Mechanism will be triggered for a week. I can hardly wait!

April 9 Simic

| On
Friday, May 11, 2007
poetry down
This is taking a long time to write. Not to type, but to compose. The truth is I've been putting it off because I hate revealing more than I intend, and Charles Simic provokes unpredictable behavior and much lurching around of my heart. He makes me tipsy, drunk, agreeable and liable to say things I'll regret. This is the trouble with poets.

So, with that caveat in place and keeping in mind that it was a month ago so I may have to augment my notes with what probably happened, let's go back in time to April 9, 2007. (::cue wavy time travel lines::) It was a dark and stormy night and the werewolves were howling in the south park blocks.

I was an hour early. The last time I went to a reading in this venue, it was to see Neil Gaiman in 2005 -- the line to get in wrapped around the block and was a cheerful but motley assortment of geeks and goths, readers and rubberneckers. This time as I approached the church I was afraid I had the wrong night -- there were two trench-coated professorial types standing out front looking pleased with themselves and NO LINE. Granted, I was early, but come on!

As I was paying for my ticket, the guy in line ahead of me sounded really familiar but I couldn't place him. I took a good look, but beyond the fact that he was wearing jaunty golfing clothes (a cap, some argyle and since my notes don't confirm or deny, let's say jodhpurs) he wasn't ringing any bells that had a name on them. Since I wasn't able to instantly solve The Case of the Mystery Golfer (and I would gnaw off my own hand rather than ask "don't I know you?"), I went outside and took some pictures. Mystery Golfer crossed my path a few more times and then the penny dropped -- it was (perhaps) local poet and Wordstock dude Scott Poole! I've seen him read a couple of times at Livewire. (Scott Poole, if you vanity google and see this, I didn't mean to stare. I like your hat and your poems.)

I decided to go in and watch the place fill up, assuming that it WOULD fill up because this is Charles Simic, rockstar of my personal poetry firmament and not some guy writing tweedy poems about his birkenstocks and bike chains. I took a seat on the interior aisle in the first row of non reserved seats. My neighbors included a group of giggling women who were having a fine old time (notable quote: "I have never seen a funnier movie than The English Patient!"); in front of me, three generations of women ranging from 12 - 200; beside me, I swear to god, a garden gnome. He put his backpack on top of my purse in a flagrant act of pew aggression and we both took furtive notes like cold war spies from feuding nations.

From previous events, I knew that The Talent gets stashed in a side room right off the stage. Sure enough, shortly after the garden gnome started making eyes at the two inches of bare pew to my left, the man himself was being hustled down the aisle by his minder. He looks just like his picture.

About five minutes after Simic and entourage entered the inner secret sanctum, the oldest of the women who had been sitting in front of me emerged from the room. Maybe she's always slightly rumpled, but I like to think that she was waiting naked in the closet to prove her Love of Poetry and was ejected by Poetry Roadies. As she settled into her seat and fixed her buttons and her hair, I looked around the sanctuary to assess the crowd: there was Mystery Golfer, the lady dressed like she just left the set of Dr. Zhivago, and what I presumed to be a posse of cowboy poets from Eastern Oregon. 80% of the audience was basically the same as at the Gaiman reading -- white, pale, polar fleece (this, not coincidentally, represents 80% of portland at any given time), likes to read. Replace some (but not all) of the goths and comic book aficionados with English department academics (also wan and prone to dramatics) and you get the picture.

After being introduced herself, a woman came out to deliver the Simic introduction. She said some interesting things about Simic being "a capital T Trickster of the first order" (which set me to wondering about second tier lower-case tricksters) and was generally interesting and flattering without being obsequious, but it was delivered in what I've come to think of as Academic Cadence: measured, tidy, lacking juice. It was good, but it didn't make my heart beat any faster. Have I become such a literary thrill junkie that I don't like it if it doesn't make me sweat? I don't think so. I hope not. Maybe it was the Simic Proximity Effect.

Finally, Simic reached the podium. He was charming, I was charmed. His speaking voice is relatively unaccented, just a hint of Eastern Europe here and there, but when he reads the accent is stronger. He read from several different volumes -- I got the impression that the books were snagged off of the table in the back. He started with some prose poems from The World Doesn't End and worked his way through the years -- it was a kind of chronological trip with brief explanations and introductions. He's a very conversational reader.

One of the things I love best about his work is that he is so playful, yet never shies away from the most serious human things. There's great empathy for the weaknesses of humanity, but he's not above having a laugh at how ridiculous we all are. (he does not exclude himself from the absurdity. He's not above anything, he's right down in the muck with the rest of us.) I also love that he walks the slightly sinister, dangerous edge of language-- he's willing to Go There -- refreshing in a time when the pointy parts in much art are being filed away to be more profitable or palatable or mediocre, to somehow pour syrup over ugliness and hope for the best. He's fearless but generous. Speaking of generous, let me get back to the reading! He read from many of his books. The woman in front of me (the mother, not the groupie grandmother) was reading along with every poem from a stack of books she had sitting beside her. The man himself is 20 feet away, but she's reading from a book! I found this very eccentric, but I'm sure she had her reasons.

I know this is silly, but the high point of the whole reading for me was when he pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and started to introduce the next poem -- he said (paraphrase) that this addressed a problem that has been around since the 3rd century BC -- if you're going to be using the poem as a tool of seduction, you can't be showing up with a bunch of cliches. (!!!) He went on to read one of my favorites (My Beloved). I almost cried I was so happily surprised. He said that this was a version slightly different than the one that was published (just a few words changed), and I don't know how to describe what it meant to me. It felt like a gift. The folded paper, the slightly different words, THAT poem -- he could have stopped talking right there and I would have been satisfied, but he went on to read several more poems. sigh.

Question and Answer periods can be painful. This one was not. Even questions that could have been a little iffy, Simic turned around into something interesting without breaking a sweat. (and to my delight he deftly shut down a stupid question from one of the giggling cell-phone ringers behind me, but was not cruel.) Someone asked about the poem that took him 20-30 years to finish (That Little Something). I loved the answer! he said it was all about intuition -- knowing that what he had would lead (eventually) to something more. He just had to live the time to get it. And he did! A kid about 10 years old asked why his poems were funny and serious, to which Simic replied "because the world is." There were other interesting questions, but my handwriting was even more hieroglyphic than usual by the end. Someone asked him about poetry aspiring to blasphemy and seduction, which he thought was a good question. He said that (paraphrase) my life is all I can really talk about that matters to me. it's an expression of human (some word that starts with s or maybe g).

At least that quote fragment gets to what I think is key to my appreciation of his work -- it's an expression of human: funny, tragic, silly, serious, sexy and sublime.


| On
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
I am in a really good mood! Here are some of the reasons why:

1. Tonight I'm going with my sister and Anonymous T. to hear Michael Chabon read at Powell's. Wheee! I know it will be a good reading because a) it's Michael Chabon and his reading will draw a big crowd with high energy b) the weather is FANTASTIC, so the whole city is in a good mood. c) We will tease Anonymous T. about her groupie-like behavior (tell her not to throw her bra at the BEGINNING of the reading, etc.) which will make me laugh and laugh even though she will undoubtedly be very well-behaved. She will most likely be very well-behaved. Okay, of the three of us, at least one will be well-behaved at any given time. I'm almost sure that will be true. Fun will be had in any case.

2. My resume is almost fixed! it turns out there really wasn't that much that needed changing, and in fact the biggest problem is that I am insane. (This according to two outside (my brain) consultants brought in to examine it.) What a relief! I'll just add that little insanity part under the Experience header, and I'll be good to go!

3. My hair has been cut! I no longer feel like I have wookie hair in need of a sad Britney Spears strip mall barbershop makeover.

4. someone just ordered 10 of my domino magnets off of etsy. So weird, but so nice!! I haven't listed anything new in over a month, so this was just out of the blue and lovely in that "hey, somebody wanted TEN of this thing you made" way.

5. this cover of Cold Comfort Farm (illustrated by Roz Chast, click on pic to see it bigger) makes me laugh every time I look at it. EVERY TIME!

6. This is more of a point of information than a Good Mood List Item, but tomorrow will mark a month since I saw Charles Simic read (sigh) and I hope to have it written up VERY SOON, or I will sanction myself with very STERN CONSEQUENCES. (which have been so obviously effective to date.)

7. Did I mention that the sun is shining and the birds are singing? Because both of those things are happening right this second.

8. have I filled up the space next to the book illustration yet? Yes! excellent. Report from the land of Chabon will follow soon. (but not before Simic, so help me god.)

choreographed delight

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

This video... it's a counting song with blue spangles and lo-fi Busby Berkeley choreography. It's like they made it for me!! (L O V E !!!)

(This link will take you to the video page on Feist's website which has a smaller but smoother quicktime version.)

delightful: I always enjoy reading Posie Gets Cosy, but I really love how she writes about Portland. Like in this post here.

undelightful: I think I have lost my library card... AGAIN. What's up with that? I have one for 15 years, and now I'm on track to lose one every year? I bet it fell out of my pocket in rodeo jail.

I predict I will want to hear that song again.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007
blue sign

It's time for the Mayday Spring Mix! Is it springy? Well, it's spring right now, isn't it? So YES. I was inventing some fake statistics (no math!) to justify the following songs together (and to disguise the real reason, which is "I need to hear them all one million times right now"), but it got too long and fussy. Highlights: several songs are done by artists I find easy to imagine dressed as dandies/ mods/ flappers/ emigres from Pepperland ( 6, 8, 13, 14, 17); I got 6 of the songs from fluxblog (1, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15); some of them I've written about already, so I tried to keep it short this time (1, 4, 6), (8), (3, 5); ETC. This isn't a perfect compilation by any means, but I've tested it on the iPod, on the computer, in the car, in a bubble bath, and in my head. I still like it!

1. My Moon, My Man -- Feist: The whole internet is talking about Feist and this song this since her album came out this week, so I'll just say I still love it A LOT. It's first so if I'm listening in the car and don't have far to go, I still get to hear it. (shut up! that extra button pushing is exhausting!)

2. Keep the Car Running -- Arcade Fire: !!! I don't even know where to start. The title? It sounds like a phrase falling from the lips of bank robbers or late-night convenience store shoppers in a bad part of town. Of course, in the context of this song it's more of a necessary precaution to outrun some nightmare from the Book of Revelation. But it's not scary -- it's THRILLING! Every time I hear the lyric "if some night I don't come home, please don't think I've left you alone" it presses at a tender spot in my heart, even while the music makes me want to drive 200 mph straight to Bruce Springsteen's house in an almost certainly futile attempt to escape the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

3. I'm No Lover -- Antarctica Takes It!: From the blast of instruments at the beginning it is clear that this is a Revenge War Cry -- negotiations are over and reconciliation is not an option. The singer says what he has to say only once, and if you're the object of the song maybe it's better you don't hear the details...

4. You Know I'm No Good -- Amy Winehouse: Ex-boy? Eggs boiled? Does it matter? (I am still in love with the horns.)

5. LDN -- Lily Allen: When was the last time you heard "a fellow looking dapper, and he's sitting with a snapper/ then I see it's a pimp and his crack whore" sung so sweetly? NEVER, is when. "Sun is in the sky, oh why oh why / would I want to be anywhere else?" indeed. Look twice, seems to be her advice. I eagerly await the day this is used in advertisements for a funship cruise that sails up the Thames and vomits visitors on the shore. She could be a tour guide! It would be a good match!

6. Chrissie Kiss the Corpse -- Of Montreal: This song really calls for go-go boots, false eyelashes and way too much eyeliner. ( I still looooove it.)

7. Hotel Song -- Regina Spektor: I suspect she gets a bratty charge from singing a little bag of coCAine over and over again, but I get a bratty charge listening to her do it, so it all works out. "Come in to my world/ I've got to show, show, show you..."

8. All Together Now -- Beatles: I almost 86'd this in favor of a different song, but I got 30 seconds into it and couldn't do it! Lists? Check. Counting? Affirmative. Alphabet and color refresher course? Yes, of course. Handclaps? And how! Out of tune horn from ancient motorcar? It hurts me that you even have to ask. All together now!

9. Sit Tight -- Field Music: Like a slinky traveling stairs that stop at the edge of a chasm -- it's all coiled up then expands to fall to the next step over and over until it drops away on a parachute to a destination so far away you can't hear it land. I love the piano, the horns, the vocal, the oblique lyrics and pretty much everything. "I'm sick of your talk, but I want you to talk"

10. Think That Thought -- Planningtorock: I love this whole album (she taps a potent streak of dark femininity that deserves more attention than a parenthetical aside), but I particularly like this song, especially in the "stringed up" EP version. It's all very mind bendy in that late-night philosophy through the looking glass way. "some thoughts should be drunk up and swallowed complete."

11. Wet And Rusting -- Menomena: Oh, song! It's so lovely and melancholy, hopeful but kinda fatalistic. "it's hard to take risks/ with a pessimist" -- but of course that's why they're called risks and not sure things. It seems (to me) to be about bravery and generosity even when you're dubious about the outcome. Maybe especially if you're dubious about the outcome. "I made you a present/ you never expected"

12. Before I Knew -- Basia Bulat: This is another super-short song -- she says it once, and that's enough. But it seems more like she keeps it brief because she's still working out the roller-coaster highs and lows of new love rather than because she's busy sharpening her machete, unlike some short song singers on this list. (I'm looking at you, #3!)

13. Get Lucky -- Dragonette: So jaunty! I want to sing it through a megaphone. Well, not really since I can't sing at all, but I like the idea of someone driving around in an ice cream truck singing this through a megaphone. "Hey handsome, we've got it covered/ hey mister, we've gone and done it, just because we could.... we both know the weather's getting better/ so let's get lucky, let's go all the way". It's so charming and it freaking ends with JAZZ HANDS! (they are implied, of course, but I know that they're there.)

14. Billy Brown -- Mika: I almost didn't add this because I was afraid it had a tragic ending that I miss every time because I get so involved with the crazy horns and the singalong "brown, oh bILLy brown/ don't let the stars get you down/ don't let the waves let you drown" demented psychedelic falsetto barbershop chorus that I forget to pay attention. (this happens to me a lot.) The setup is ripe for Brokeback TRAGEDY (married man falls in love with another man) but as far as I can tell there is no fatal tragedy, only the Love is Hard under the best of circumstances so imagine how hard it is for Billy Brown kind of tragedy.

15. Big Wheel -- Tori Amos: I'm so easy it's not even funny. There is COUNTING and SPELLING, therefore I am IN! She sounds like she's having a lot of fun, which in turn brings me joy -- it doesn't hurt that she's got a wicked sense of humor and nobody's going to mistake her for a shrinking violet. (which reminds me I have a funny shrinking violet story! but later.) "baby I don't need your cash/ mama's got it all in hand"

16. The Body's Only Rental -- Katie Dill: This is song is very simply presented (just ukulele and her voice), but it's so lovely -- I really like how she uses repetition and gentle reassurance , but along with a firm but friendly shove to get you started. "a smile ain't a smile if you fake it, if you fake it/ so pick your risk and take it, pick your risk and take it"

17. Shake It Out -- Tilly & The Wall: there is a hokey pokey shout out and tap dancing percussion -- how could I not like it??? Again, another song about pushing through, taking risks, and living your freaking life. "Every doubt in turn explodes/ we all could pass right through/ we all have nothing left to lose"