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curtains: so practical, so versatile

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Enchanted (2007) Such fun! Here’s why (for me): I like musicals, I like romantic comedies, I like movies that can gently but thoroughly poke fun at themselves. I also have affection for Disney Princess animation in general, despite the dated payoff (she gets to marry an idiot she barely knows, but the clothes are nice) and the probably misguided fear that the older, darker stories they’re based on will be lost. This movie turns much of the traditional princess story upside down, yet still has the elements people love to see. Also, rats who wash dishes make me laugh (although I do not wish to dine from those dishes).

I heard about Enchanted a while back and thought it sounded interesting, but the minute I saw the commercial that asked “did you make a dress from my curtains?” -- the look on her face is so perfect, I knew I had to see it right away. I still laugh every time! [Sewing side note: After seeing the whole film I can tell you that those are indeed what the pieces of the dress she is wearing would look like, facings and all.] Something about how the curtains are hanging back in the window like maybe he wouldn’t notice makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.

And that’s not all! I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that they do a brilliant job of encapsulating the traditional Disney Princess movie in 10 animated minutes at the beginning -- vapid himbo prince, sidekick, helpful woodland creatures, evil step-mother and all. The musical numbers are FUN (esp. the Central Park one) and everyone seems so right for the part they are playing. Amy Adams is fantastic as Giselle (I love that she is very princess pretty but has not been botoxed expressionless -- she looks like a lovely human woman not a plastic doll), James Marsden is perfectly perfect “what’s not to like?” Susan Sarandon has a marvelous time chewing scenery as the sexy evil stepmother and Patrick Dempsey’s Robert is smart and kind yet rightfully incredulous. There’s a lot to be incredulous about, which is half the fun. The audience we saw it with Saturday night was about 40% adults with no kids and 60% families with children. Everyone seemed to have a good time. I know I did.

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) -- Speaking of Susan Sarandon in a musical, I rewatched The Rocky Horror Picture Show recently. The Madison gets a mention! (from dorky Brad Majors, but still!) I must confess that I think this is about 3/8ths too long. It’s so fun up to and shortly after going up to the lab to see what’s on the slab, but after Eddie is done, I kind of am too. I love the singing, the dancing, the gleeful campiness, but it gets draggy. Maybe I would feel differently if this were a movie that I went to see 1000 times in the theater, but it’s not so I don’t. (I definitely think it should win a lifetime achievement award for Best Entrance of a Sweet Transvestite Mad Scientist in a Descending Elevator, though!)

Heaven Can Wait (1943) -- I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed by this movie. I spied it at the library and snatched it up since it was a Lubitsch picture and I’m slowly working my way through those, but it didn’t really grab me. Don Ameche as the spirit of former horndog Henry Van Cleave pleads his case in the afterlife by telling the story of his life to His Excellency. (His Excellency has a pointy beard and a red complexion.) The whole thing is told in a “well Satan, I’m glad you asked. After I did that, I did this! Aren’t I a scoundrel?” manner that I never really warmed to. It is entirely possible that I wasn’t paying enough attention, so I'd be willing to watch it again.

Woman of the Year (1942) Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy have so much chemistry in this movie that it almost doesn’t matter what happens, as long as they’re on the screen together. I enjoyed it, although I was cringing through the whole Greek orphan storyline because it didn’t ring true for her character at all. She's smart and ambitious and I think they were trying to draw a thick line under her lack of maternal and other traditional "womanly instincts," but it just seemed pointlessly cruel to the child and not something she would do from even a diplomatic stance since she was an international reporter with lots of diplomatic ties. (Although maybe it’s more to do with the 65 year interim between then and now. Perhaps it was perfectly sensible shorthand in 1942.) ANYWAY, there was a moment somewhere early on where Hepburn did this “I’m thinking” thing with her mouth -- it seemed familiar, then I realized that Emily Deschanel (from Bones) often does the same thing with HER mouth, which reminded me of a snippet of an interview I saw with her on some entertainment show where she said that she plays the whole show (Bones), gory body bits and all, like it’s a romantic comedy. Then I realized that the basic relationship between her and Booth (David Boreanez) is styled on the typical Hepburn/Tracy mold (giant-brained independent sometimes oblivious woman paired with common-sense kind-hearted guy who is smarter than he seems). Anyway, my point is Tracy and Hepburn had chemistry to burn, and if Emily Deschanel hasn’t watched all their movies a million times I would be surprised.

not where I intended to go

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007
sickbed update: I’m not really in a sickbed. I’m sitting at my desk wishing I had more kleenex or that the kleenex were at least closer so I wouldn’t have to get up and shamble to their location. I don’t know why I typed sickbed -- maybe I have a strain of brain fever that causes one to resort to victorian euphemisms, although I think that particular victorian euphemism means either childbirth or tuberculosis (don’t they all). I’m pretty sure I’m clear of both of those at the moment. Kleenex! Why must you be so far away? (truth is, I have no brain fever. in fact, my brain is coated with thick layer of fever dampening mucus that somehow makes my ears pop when I swallow.) Kleenex! -- I love typing it now. I am going to replace all parts of kleenex with kleenex. My firstborn euphemistic victorian child shall be named Felix Quintin Kleenex of the dining room table Kleenexes. Those DRT Kleenexes lord it all over their crumpled cousins, the bathrobe pocket Kleenexes. You know what? the BP Kleenexes may not be pretty, but they’re dependable -- they're there when you need them! They don’t make you go tromping all over the house trying to remember where you left them. Good god Felix, I thought raised you better than this. Why can’t you be more like your cousin?

(I meant to write about something else but it’s going to have to wait until tomorrow so I can extricate myself from this kleenex family melodrama.)

I'm not there either (because they were out of tickets!)

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Monday, November 26, 2007
I got myself put together yesterday and dragged my carcass downtown to the ONE TINY THEATER (technically it is a cineplex with many theaters, but they are ALL TINY) that is showing I'm Not There and it sold out three people in front of me. Oh, the injustice! Oh, if only I hadn't tried to find street parking before giving up and going to the garage! (if I'd had my act together I would have taken the train, but there wasn't time.) As you might imagine, I have been whining about this for (now) 23 hours or so. It has been rightly pointed out to me that if I got the LAST ticket sold, I probably would have had to sit in some wretched hard to see from spot, or had to sit next to the smelly guy or whatever. I would have done it, though! My revised plan is to see it sometime this week. In all honesty, I should have left earlier considering it was Sunday and the Sunday of a holiday weekend on top of that. (BUT STILL.)

It's not all terrible news -- I was able to initiate my new Pay Artists Directly Whenever Possible Campaign by giving a busker by the train/garage a dollar. (he was really good and I always want to do it, but I am always too embarrassed because people LOOK AT YOU when you do. However, these sorts of things are part of my Grow Or Die aka It's Not Always About You, Jen campaign. I am running many campaigns right now. It's exhausting.) I'm not saying it was related, but after I made my contribution to the arts and retrieved my car, I didn't have to pay anything because I was parked for such a short period of time.

ricola herbes et meil

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Sunday, November 25, 2007
mermaid services, page 85

I am unwell, which is unfun. With any luck it will be one of those 24 hour things but I'm not confident that my luck runs in that direction. I'm sure it's just the time of the year -- people get sick! Plus I've been in closer contact with the public who have no doubt been licking their library books before returning them and therefore spreading cooties throughout the land. Blah. My throat hurts. Maybe it will be all better by tomorrow but that seems unlikely, even with the magical help of the ricola elves or goatherds or whoever those guys in lederhosen are. (besides people who wrap lozenges in paper and shout all over the alps about the cure for the common cold, of course.)

The good news is that I've been getting more library shifts and I'm still enjoying the work, hooray! I certainly enjoy getting paid. It's been a little tough to find jobs since it's all done through a staffing website and a bunch of new clerks with speedy trigger fingers were all hired at the same time, but I figure it will all shake out/settle down soon enough. I'm trying not to get too cranked up about it. (This is one of my mottos for a more harmonious life: Don't Get So Cranked Up About It. Maybe I should embroider it on a pillow or a hankie.) One of the most interesting parts has been the culture-shifts of the different branches. (There are 17 in the system, although as yet I've only worked in 9 of them.) They all have their own personalities and quirks, yet they are all alike in thinking that theirs is the most badass branch in the system. "If you can work XYZ, you can work anywhere!" I suspect many of the people saying this have never worked a shitty retail job because none of these "oh, it's awful" scenarios come close to a typical day of selling stuff. For example, on Friday I did have to talk to a lady who had almost 100.00 in fines (jail/rehab/had a baby) and was going to be sent to collections -- not fun, but if it got out of hand I could pass her along to the manager. But I also got to issue first library cards to a couple of five year olds, which was very satisfying.

More soon! I'm going to take a nap, medicate and put lots of tissue and cough drops in my pocket so I can go see the Bob Dylan movie today. My pre-sickness goal for this weekend was to see the only two movies that have really grabbed my interest in this holiday movie release cycle. (Enchanted and I'm Not There. I saw Enchanted last night (more on that soon, I hope) and it was a lot of fun. But I need to see the other one or I will... well, I need to see it. Since I'm not coughing or sneezing (my misery is silent) I don't feel like too much of a public menace.)


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Thursday, November 22, 2007

I love cranberries. I fear they are unreasonably maligned by the cranberry-haters of the world but since I have no evidence of actual cranberry maligning at hand, all I can say is they are delicious. Delicious, I tell you!

Here’s a cranberry recipe that I made to bring to dinner over at the lovely Powellhurst abode. I recommend trying it if you want something cranberrylicious, but are feeling slightly (only slightly) more ambitious than opening a can of cranberry jelly. It’s easy but seems fancy and tastes GREAT, which are all the hallmarks of a keeper recipe if you ask me. (it’s from Cooking Light 2006)

Cranberry, Cherry, and Walnut Chutney
Aside from making a stellar accompaniment to roast turkey, this chutney is great for gift giving: pack into a ribbon-tied jelly jar. It also goes well with roast chicken, pork tenderloin, or ham. [note from Jen: it also goes really well with just a SPOON.]

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup port or other sweet red wine
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1 (12 oz) package fresh cranberries
2/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

combine first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Add cherries, and cook 1 minute. Stir in cranberries; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until cranberries pop. Remove from heat. Stir in walnuts, grated rind, and extract. Garnish with orange rind strips, if desired. Cover and chill. Yield: 16 servings (serving size 1/4 cup)

DELICIOUS! I also made a pie crust today which I’ve never done before. It looked hideous but tasted good, so that’s okay. Pie crust is interesting -- so few ingredients, but so many ways to screw it up! I am intrigued and will probably pie-crust my way into a larger pants size as I continue to experiment.

Long Shadows 2

It was cold and clear here today. This picture was from around 10AM -- the shadows seem all out of whack to me, but that’s probably just because when the days are short like this they are also usually overcast. What you can’t really see in this photo is that there was a full-on costumed soccer game (adults and kids) happening to the left which had not only Santa as a ref, but a guy in a grass skirt and a viking helmet. Everyone seemed to be having a good time which certainly radiated outward to other people in the park who were not playing soccer dressed as a taco. (I think it was a taco -- some of these costumes were difficult to suss out.)

I am currently thankful for so many things it would take me hours to try and list them all and I need to go to bed, so for now I'll say I’m thankful that there’s so much to be thankful for! I hope everyone had a lovely holiday/Thursday.

madison with grilled cheese

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Sunday, November 18, 2007
the cheese
I am being stalked by a grilled cheese cookbook from within the multnomah county library system. (the cookbook is calling from inside the house!) First it was on the paging list. I was derisive. "Grilled cheese cookbook? you have got to be kidding me!" Then, of course, I opened it to have a look to see what part of 'put cheese between bread and fry' was in need of further explanation and was immediately overwhelmed by the soft-focus grilled cheese porn within. It has shown up at almost every branch I've worked -- either as a hold I'm processing, as a book someone has returned or as a book someone brings to the desk. It is becoming the inexorable sandwich. I can now spot the cover from 50 yards and it instantly makes me hungry. I don't even particularly LIKE grilled cheese. Perhaps I've been cursed by a cheese pixie. (Are there cheese pixies? I feel like there should be.)

the middle of the day movie club
Usually I don't watch TV during the day. For the past few years my schedule has been elastic and erratic; I knew that if I started watching anything during the day my standards would start slipping and before I knew it I'd be screaming at Dr. Phil, sobbing about that poor woman (you know the one) on Oprah or watching 100 Shocking Moments in Heavy Metal (again) on VH1. Like any good rule, there are exceptions -- in this case I have three TV during the day allowances: 1) illness 2) disaster (natural or otherwise) 3) sewing.

Now that my schedule is slightly more rigid, I find myself willing to bend on my daytime TV stance. The latest allowance may be my favorite: watching movies that have subtitles or otherwise demand more attention than I might be able to give them sitting on the couch at the end of the day. I'll admit that time pressure is a factor as well -- almost all of my MotDMC movies have been ones that I had to wait a long time for from the library and could not renew, yet had been putting off because I never felt quite ready to watch them.

Last week was Band Of Outsiders which ... !!! (!!!) I really liked it, but need to see it again and think about it some more before I can articulate (even to myself) the reasons why. But one reason requires no further thought -- The Madison! The day I watched it the sun was shining, my lunch was delicious and then came along that Madison. It was a good afternoon, I tell you what.

I know it would dilute the impact to wish that EVERY movie had the Madison in it, but I don't think it's asking too much for at least one movie a year! Right?? Here's a youtube clip from Hairspray (1988) with "It's Madison Time."

making stuff: the paper wallet

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Saturday, November 17, 2007
wallet closed

Since the days are getting shorter and the gift-giving season is upon us, I thought I might post the occasional tutorial on handmade/crafty/diy projects. Or maybe I'll just do the one! Anyway -- the work on this set of instructions was mostly done in 2005 when I originally posted the tutorial photoset on flickr. This is mostly that, although there is some further HARD WON knowledge here for your paper wallet-making edification.

some things you should know about the paper wallet:

+++ paper wallets and the washing machine are HIGHLY INCOMPATIBLE.

+++ there is nowhere to put change. I use mine with a purse, mostly, so it isn't an issue.

+++ it's very handy for when you just want something to put some money and ID in when you don't want to carry a purse. (... and don't mind maybe having change in your pocket.)

+++ they're sturdier than you'd think. I used the one pictured in this post for over a year. They wear out a little faster if they're constantly in your pocket, but even so... pretty impressive for a paper wallet! Weaving is the key to making it stronger than the materials would suggest.

+++ however, not everything lasts forever so don't feel bad when it's time to make a new one -- especially if you're using something you've recycled! (I was just thinking tonight that magazine covers would probably be heavy enough to work...)

+++ in addition to paint chips (and possibly magazine covers) you can also use regular old cardstock. (My friend Leslie made a very cool wallet out of cardstock she decorated with rubber stamps.) OR, if you long for a more polished or coordinated look, heavier-weight scrapbook papers would also work. There are some really wonderful papers out there right now!

+++ this is easier than you think. You can do it!

materials needed:

+++ an assortment of paint chips or other medium to heavy-weight paper of your choosing.

+++ sewing machine. It is straight-stitching only, so you don't need anything fancy!

+++ ruler/scissors or some kind of paper cutting thing.

+++ a little bit of patience. You might want to give yourself permission to let the first one be a practice wallet. ( it will most likely be awesome, but don't feel bad if it's wonky and crooked. Mine certainly was.)

the tutorial:
step 1
paint chips - I had a big bag of them hanging around from various painting projects. Select some colors that you would like to work with. 

step 2
cut paint chips into 1/2" strips. I used longer paint chips (about 8-9") for the lengthwise strips so I wouldn't have to piece the wallet. 

step 3
assemble assorted paint chip strips. (or other papers. I will make one out of something else and post a picture, someday.)

step 4
lay 7 long strips side by side. I taped them down on one end to keep them stable. I worked on a phone book in my lap, but a table or piece of cardboard would also work. 

step 5
start weaving other paint chip strips crossways through the long chip strips. You can make a pattern, or just grab and go. (I am a grab and goer! You can do really interesting to look at yet uncomplicated to execute things with color selection. Not that I did in this example, but it IS possible.) You don't want to weave too tight or it will be difficult to close your wallet.

step 6
keep adding strips until you are to the end of the long strips. 

step 7
sew around the edges to keep everything in place. Once done sewing, trim off excess edges. You actually need two of these pieces in order to complete a wallet - one for the outside, and one for the inside. This will make good use of the one that turns out (inevitably) crooked or otherwise undelightful. You can stick that one on the inside, and the better looking one on the outside. 

step 8
cut additional paint chips to correct size to hold credit cards. (about 3 3/4", but be sure to measure for yourself!) Sew around three edges, starting with the top pocket, working down. after you get the pockets sewn on, sew the two sides of the wallet together, making sure to leave the top open. 

finished inside of wallet
ta-da! (I would like to note that that is paint and not dirt under my 2005 thumbnail.)

money goes here
inside the paint chip wallet. (money and atm receipts go here!)

paint chip wallet
Voila -- Paper wallet! They are very fun and inexpensive to give as gifts, or you could just make and stockpile them for yourself.


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Wednesday, November 14, 2007
red leaves

you know that blur song Parklife? It often pops up in my head (or on my ipod) when I am walking around the park. It's mostly about being unemployed and hanging around the park/dogtrack all day, but there is a sense of true enjoyment and appreciation for the small pleasures of this lifestyle: "I sometimes feed the sparrows too, it gives me an enormous sense of well being/ then I'm happy for the rest of the day," which I take as a kind of reminder to try and really see the things you look at every day. My parklife is not exactly the same -- no offtrack dog betting for one. (although now that I think of it, maybe I should set it up! it could be a lucrative sideline if I can figure out how to get anyone to give me money when the squirrels ALWAYS win. But I am enjoying the notion of arcane hand signals, stubby pencils and the sneakiness required to conduct my imaginary bookmaking empire right under the nose of the dogcatcher. I'll have to check my yearbook, but I believe I was voted Least Likely To Conduct an Imaginary Bookmaking Empire Right Under the Nose of the Dogcatcher, so there would be a bit of personal vindication as well.)

+toddlers in outerwear look like tiny drunken old men with a sartorial preference for dinosaurs and hello kitty.

+yesterday I heard a crow flying right over my head. He wasn't squawking at me (for once -- crows give me the business all the time), just the sound of wings against air.

+whoever it was that was leaving chestnuts on the dog-area boundary markers hasn't been to the park in a while. (or I suppose it is equally likely that they have been there, but are just not in a chestnut-leaving mood.) I really missed it at first, but then I started constructing my own surprises. At first I would collect feathers and acorns and tuck them into this spot in a tree right by the path -- not obtrusive, but obviously not accidental. I've escalated recently with collected leaves (they are so beautiful right now!) and since they were still looking good in the original spot, I had to branch out to a second location on the other side of the park. It satisfies my need to pick up interesting things and solves the problem of what to do with them after I've picked them up. (I always feel bad just throwing something back onto the ground.) Anyway, it brings me joy and it might make someone else smile so it's all good. It isn't hurting anything, anyway.

links! links! links! (strike edition)

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Monday, November 12, 2007
I believe in art.

I believe in fairness.

I believe in the value of the written word.

I've been thinking a lot about this strike and wanted to have a lovely rah rah post about why it is important (even for non-writers) and why it is not, as you may have heard, simply a matter of privileged artistic types having a hollywood hissy fit, but I keep getting angry. Not just because the situation is unfair, but because it brings up a lot of other related issues (the lofty status of The Corporation in our national mindset, how art is habitually undervalued and derided, how people who engage in creative work are treated as if it's not "real" work and therefore should be content with whatever they get, the grotesque reign of George W. Bush and the wave of anti-intellectualism he rode in on). I get so mad I can't think straight (rage blackout!) and find myself waking up pages later in the middle of a rant on Why Don't We Have Universal Healthcare!? which is not particularly helpful.

So I will say this: I hope for a speedy and fair resolution to the dispute and hope that the writers (and the scores of others affected by the strike) can get back to work making the shows and movies I love, the shows and movies I love to hate, and yes, even the shows and movies to which I am fairly indifferent.

Some links:

this youtube clip (The Office Is Closed) is a funny and pointed explanation of the "we're not paying you for promotions" issue.

Jane Espenson -- I heart Jane! She is as kind, smart, generous and funny as always, now with added strike news and strike-lunch updates.

John August makes sense of the underlying issues and language (why residuals and not royalties, etc.) in a smart yet easy to understand way.

Doris Egan -- on Living By The Pen, the human appetite for stories and some historical perspective. (among many other interesting things.)

Billy Mernit with tips for keeping your writing sharp during the strike (or, you know, any old time) and a recommendation for a book that sounds so good I have already ordered it! (novels in three lines! I can barely stand it.)

if you haven't already, I encourage you to read Joss Whedon's pointed, angry yet hilarious summation of early NYT coverage and overall issues. It's good and jossy which is a very good thing indeed.

...and another video. This time the Heartbreaking Voices of Uncertanty. (Screens will be fed.)

wordstock at last

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Saturday, November 10, 2007
Wordstock: Mercury
(this photo is from 2005)

Wordstock weekend has finally arrived! I have lots of cranky questions about why they changed so many things, but I'm going to put those aside for now since they are cranky and I am not (at present). I'm excited. The schedule does not seem as robust as years past to my eyes, but even so my plans today include Douglas Wolk, Wesley Stace, Lauren Weedman, Harry Shearer, Steve Almond & Poe Ballantine. Woo hoo!

and now I better get in the shower or I will be late!

(details to follow.)

The Yiddish Policemen's Union

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007
by Michael Chabon
If you know anything at all about this book, you probably know that it's a detective novel. (The title, after all, has Policeman right in it.) You might not know that it takes place in an alternate history. In this timeline, Jewish refugees settled in the Federal District of Sitka in 1948 after the collapse of the state of Israel. This settlement came with a ticking clock; as the novel starts, the process of Reversion to the state of Alaska has already begun. Everything is in flux, everything is about to change and has been changing. The earth is slipping beneath Meyer Landsman's feet, although Reversion is the least of his problems (he has many).

This book includes but is not limited to the following: family, community, faith (and lack of), despair, loneliness, guilt, longing, unexpected humor, language, politics, sex, grief, dirty deals, fleabag hotels, eruvs, bodyguards, acts of surprising kindness, acts of surprising violence, religious law, chess, continuity of spirit if not of location, hot tempers, miracles, string, love, alcoholism, endurance, loss, secrets, lies, end of times, bush pilots, rehab, pickles, the wild, the wooly, the wholly unexpected, fathers and sons, husbands and wives, blended culture, afraid of the dark and police work. handbags and hair. drunk and disorderly. heroin. hope. messianic fervor.

I really liked it. I was a little trepidatious after I went to hear Chabon read. The reading was so fun -- he had a great store of personal charm and charisma that he spent freely on his audience. Would the book measure up? It does! I know there has been some hubbub over so-called literary writers working in so-called genre. I haven't read much about it because the conversation gets so heated and touchy I end up mad at everyone. As long as the author in question is respectful of the work (which I think Chabon is), I don't care. I get that it must be very irritating for someone who has been writing genre their whole career to hear someone say "well, MY dragons and wizards novel isn't fantasy," like fantasy is some dirty word, but ultimately what I care about is this: is it good? I think this is good.

There are many memorable characters in this novel. I love how Chabon is able to paint these people in just a few words. Some of them we'll never meet again, but I appreciate the care that went into creating them for their brief moment. A few days after I finished this, various characters kept popping back into my head. I wish someone would make an HBO series based this novel -- there are so many corners of this world that remain unexplored. They just hang there being all intriguing and mysterious yet believably real. I want to know more! He's a very visual writer. Here's a little bit from when Landsman and his partner Berko are in a 3rd tier dive bar (trying to avoid other police and reporters): "Landsman pretends to spit three times over his shoulder. Then, right as he's wondering if this custom has anything to do with the habit of chewing tobacco, Mrs. Kalushiner comes back, dragging the great iron leg of her life." The great iron leg of her life! Of Mrs. Kalushiner it is later said "it takes a sour woman to make a good pickle," which just fills me with questions of what constitutes a good pickle (I have my own opinions) and what exactly made Mrs. Kalushiner so sour. (There are tantalizing hints of this, but I would love to know more.)

"Landsman gets paid--and lives--to notice what normal people miss, but it seems to him that until he walked into Zimbalist the boundary maven's shop, he hasn't given enough attention to string...... But the boundary maven lives and dies by the quality of his string.

Don't you want to know more about someone who lives and dies by the quality of his string? I do. (and there is more -- I edited out a lovely long list of types of string --something to look forward to!) I thought the mystery was pretty compelling too, which surprised me since lately the puzzle parts of mysteries have been the least interesting to me. So, if you like string, mysteries and/or compassionate and humane but not doughy and lifeless writing, I would recommend this novel.

wonderful, how are you

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

I am having the strangest sort of day -- I'm in suspiciously fine spirits. This feels good, but at the same time I'm kind of holding my breath. There's a weirdly reckless quality to this mood, like I'm braced for something bad but I'll quit believing in it right before it gets here and it'll bounce right off of me. I'm playing chicken with a bad mood! It's not quite as jolly as a regular good mood, but the fear that I won't jump out of the way in time lends an interesting air of imaginary danger to the proceedings. ANYWAY. Here are some things that have either given me a lift or made me cackle with glee lately:

Conversation overheard in the park today:

Man: Do you like egg salad?
Little Boy: (full-body yet noiseless disapproval of the very concept of egg salad, and a silent curse on whoever invented it for good measure.)
Man: what about sour cream and onion?
Little Boy: that's good.
Man (to other little boy): do you like egg salad?
Other Little Boy: RAAAAAAAAAAAR!!!!! (accompanied by fearsome dinosaur face and arms.)

I have no idea if dinos are pro or con egg salad, but it seemed to settle the issue.

the iTunes visualizer: I was all over this feature when I first got my laptop, but then I kind of forgot about it. For some reason I put it on yesterday to test out a new mix cd while I was puttering around the room. It's so hypnotic and fun! I was pleased to see that the random visualizer corresponded with how I thought some songs should look.

nano thought: ideally I would have had this thought a month ago, but I had it yesterday. It's still early enough in the month that I'm not freaked out. I decided freakouts are not what nano is about for me this year, anyway. (woohoo!) To cement my reputation as some sort of insane Oracle of iPod follower, just as I was debating a certain location for my story, iPod played a song about that very place. (ooooh)

it's really fall: Every time I go to the park lately I feel like I'm in a seasonal montage. The leaves are falling, flailing, fluttering. Prime montage weather was really about two weeks ago, but it's still lovely. The lesson I have FINALLY learned is to just let them fall. I had this crazy notion that I needed to catch one (for luck or something), which was ridiculous since falling leaves are not noted for their predictable landing patterns. I looked like an insane woman having seizures and I NEVER managed to get one before it hit the ground -- this made me feel unlucky which was sillier yet. I quit trying. I just enjoy them as they fall and it's so much better. Sometimes they fall right on me, which I can't help but think is nicer than one I managed to catch while terrorizing squirrels, running into joggers and providing pathetic amusement for forty 8 year olds playing soccer.

"The only place you will be singing is in jail" : said to Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker during his court hearing before he's sent to juvie. I saw part of Cry-Baby today, and I always forget how much fun it is! It's so gleefully trashy and silly, I love it. In addition to Johnny Depp and a host of John Waters regulars, Iggy Pop is featured as Uncle Belvedere Rickettes. Hee hee hee.

this poem! My sister gave me The McSweeney's Book of Poets Picking Poets for my birthday in July. I just found it again while straightening the precarious stack of books by my bed. (I was afraid they would fall over in the night and give me a heart attack.) Anyway, I actually yelped out loud when I read the first poem by David Berman. This is a summer poem rather than a fall poem, but even though it is not currently seasonal, it resonated with me and my oddly good mood. It's a great collection, you should read it.

The Charm of 5:30 
by David Berman

It's too nice a day to read a novel set in England.

We're within inches of the perfect distance from the sun,
the sky is blueberries and cream,
and the wind is as warm as air from a tire.
Even the headstones in the graveyard
seem to stand up and say "Hello! My name is..."

It's enough to be sitting here on my porch,
thinking about Kermit Roosevelt,
following the course of an ant,
or walking out into the yard with a cordless phone
to find out she is going to be there tonight.

On a day like today, what looks like bad news in the distance
turns out to be something on my contact, carports and white
courtesy phones are spontaneously reappreciated
and random "okay"s ring through the backyards.

This morning I discovered the red tints in cola
when I held a glass of it up to the light
and found an expensive flashlight in the pocket of a winter coat
I was packing away for the summer.

It all reminds me of that moment when you take off your sunglasses
after a long drive and realize it's earlier
and lighter out than you had accounted for.

You know what I'm talking about,

and that's the kind of fellowship that's taking place in town, out in
the public spaces. You won't overhear anyone using the words
"dramaturgy" or "state inspection" today. We're too busy
getting along.

It occurs to me that the laws are in the regions and the regions are
in the laws, and it feels good to say this, something that I'm almost
sure is true, outside in the sun.

Then to say it again, around friends, in the resonant voices of a
nineteenth-century senator, just for a lark.

There's a shy looking fellow on the courthouse steps, holding up a
placard that says "But, I kinda liked Reagan." His head turns slowly
as a beautiful girl walks by, holding a refrigerated bottle up against
her flushed cheek.

She smiles at me and I allow myself to imagine her walking into
town to buy lotion at a brick pharmacy.
When she gets home she'll apply it with great lingering care before
moving into her parlor to play 78 records and drink gin-and-tonics
beside her homemade altar to James Madison.

In a town of this size, it's certainly possible that I'll be invited over
one night.

In fact I'll bet you something.

Somewhere in the future I am remembering today. I'll bet you
I'm remembering how I walked into the park at five thirty,
my favorite time of day, and how I found two cold pitchers
of just poured beer, sitting there on the bench.

I am remembering how my friend Chip showed up
with a catcher's mask hanging from his belt and how I said

great to see you, sit down, have a beer, how are you,
and he turned to me with the sunset reflecting off his contacts
and said, wonderful, how are you.

purple november rain

| On
Thursday, November 01, 2007
batman available for parties
I cannot believe it is november already! I've been trying to think of songs with November in the title and all I come up with is November Rain by those guys, but when I try to think of how it goes I always end up back at Purple Rain by Prince. My brain is trying to protect me, I think, except it is stuck in some weird Axl/Purple Rain hybrid place right now which is ... not entirely unpleasant, but I don't want to live there.

exciting things about november:

It is not last november! (whiny details redacted)

nanowrimo! I was on the fence, but when I ran my carefully constructed reasons for not doing it this year by my finely tuned bullshit detector, they all failed. Sometimes external pressure is necessary. This is extremely gentle external pressure and I still really don't know what I'll do, but I'm doing it anyway. I'm selecting from the Fly By The Seat of Your Pants menu, mostly because it is TOO LATE to select from the Execute PreArranged Plan menu. The worst thing that happens is that I write a bunch of crap that nobody else has to read. The best thing that happens -- who knows?! It's wide open. If I get even one good idea, that would be worth it.

I worked at a new to me branch today, which I loved! I now have another location on my list of "hooray!" which brings that list to 3.5. There are 1.5 on the "okay, sure" list and just one (so far) on the "only if a supervillain is threatening adorable babies and kittens and the only way to save them is to endure X hours there" list.

Russian Ark! I processed two copies of this movie today, which was funny because it had come up in conversation recently (by conversation here I mean me in an unstoppable harangue of have you seen it yet?? Why Not?!, which I would feel kind of bad about, except the person I was talking to would LOVE IT if only they would listen to my sensible advice). I was thinking that I would check one of them out and watch it again, but they were snatched out from under my greedy fingers by library patrons. I'll have to put it on hold. I've just seen it once, and that was in the theater several years ago. I know it's probably not to everyone's taste, but I found the combination of the Hermitage, History, Russia and the dizzying non-stop motion to be exciting in the way that many of my favorite things are -- I'm not sure what's going on, but I look forward to finding out, even though I'll never know it all! I like that there's so much to take in, I like that the full meaning isn't instantly available. Three word review by a friend: "It's fucking poetry."

I get my hair cut tomorrow! It's so long it is making me nutty. Nuttier. It is driving me crazy in ways I do not enjoy. I still don't know how I'll have it cut (nano is not the only thing for which I am unprepared), but I'm in winging it mode. (although I must note that I do not want any hairstyle that involves "feathers" or "wings.")