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happy halloween!

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Saturday, October 31, 2009
Happy Halloween! These jack o'lanterns are from last year.

I didn't make any this year and I missed it more than I thought I would. There's something about setting the candle in and watching the face flicker to life that is very satisfying - especially after dark when I can no longer see the sharpie marker lines I missed with the knife.

chalk pumpkin
This is also from last year - I found it on the sidewalk near where I get my hair cut. This pumpkin head was on the top of a crazy long snake monster body.

Next year, I want to go to this. I also want to think about what would be a good wear-all-day sort of costume. I've worn costumes to work before, but usually I'd regret it by lunch. One year it was a great ghostly gown made out of scrim fabric and cheesecloth. It was appropriately drapey and tattered with a belt made of chain, but it kept getting stuck on things or getting closed in doors after I'd gone through them, which was only hilarious the first 9 times it happened. By the end of the day my wig itched and I'd left parts of the gown all over the building. Another year I had trouble with the super tall witch hat I'd made out of paper, spray paint and netting. It's AWESOME and I still have it, but unfortunately the hat is so tall I couldn't go through regular doors without knocking it back. These costumes were both for an old, more office-type job. I'd have to really think about what would work for a day in the library. Hmmmm. (I didn't work today, so it wasn't an issue this year.)

Here are a couple of spooky-ish videos. One from the beginning of a movie, one from the end.

This is Halloween from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I am the Who in the call 'Who's there?'

End credits from the Lemony Snicket movie - I love this atmospheric and sinister paper animation!

around town

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Thursday, October 29, 2009
pearl pony
Monday was my sister's birthday. Due to procrastinating and my cold, I had to make a last minute run down to Powell's that morning to pick up one more thing. This pony was cabled to one of the metal horse rings which are still found on many portland curbsides. Location: across the street from the Pearl Bakery. (ALSO DELICIOUS. I used to eat lunch there often when I worked in the neighborhood.)

tiny hexagon tiles
Historic Crystal ballroom. Historic hexagon tiles by the ticket booth. (I don't really know if they're historic or not, but they look historic to me.)

under the canopy
looking over and out from under the canopy at the Crystal. I'm usually never there in the daytime! I love the yellow trees, the little patch of blue sky, the curve of the canopy. I take that freeway exit all the time.

interesting printing links:

Stumptown Printers video, via Carson Ellis. I love the sound of a letterpress, and I didn't even know it! I also love watching machinery like this in action; the combination of that clacking sound and watching the paper feed through is very soothing. I've seen many of their CD cases in person - they do good work!

Check out this making of the Pictorial Websters video at We Love You So. The printing at the beginning is interesting and awesome, but it's worth watching all the way through so you get to the sewing, binding, and finishing touches. They're right: it did blow my mind!

michael chabon: october 14

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Note: I intended to post this over the weekend, but I got sick (again! but it's just a cold this time) and then it was my sister's birthday, which meant hours were spent laughing at how poorly I frosted the cake. (in my defense, the cake was still warm and nobody told me to turn the bottom layer upside down so the flat side was up. It was destined to slide all over the place! I had to use 400 skewers to hold it together. It tasted really good, but I can't take any credit for that since my only job was to apply frosting.) In other extremely relevant news, as I was heading to the cupboard that holds things like tylenol, I was thinking, "oh, I feel lousy" and the song Oh Sheila got stuck in my head. You're welcome.

And now back to the previously scheduled program already in progress:


And so it came to pass that sister Bec and I met up with Anonymous T in the Pearl Room at Powell's, waiting for Michael Chabon to read from his new book: Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son. It was so crowded. It was crowded last time, but this time was even worse. I didn't even get to lean against my favorite shelves of architecture books and had to stand in the middle of the room off to the side, which is better described as in the middle of the mob. There were two tall bald guys standing in front of me (like twins, except one was sloppy sporty guy with wraparound skull stubble, and the other was a gleamingly bald pointily shod metrosexual) and 4 little hipster girls so weak from the burden of their lace tights and flapper pearl necklaces they had to SIT ON THE FLOOR behind me, which meant they were always in danger of being trampled by people who thought there was an empty spot, which meant I kept paying more attention to hoping no one trampled them than I would have if they had managed to prop themselves up somehow. (maybe they could have formed a little teepee with their backs together! I will draw up some diagrams and make a zine.)

Anyway! it was crowded. We had a nice time chatting while the room got hotter and louder and more and more full. I had a strange moment where I realized that at least half the crowd looked familiar, which I lay at the feet of general delirium, or to working all over for the library in a book nerd town.

The Powell's guy with the ponytail wended his way through the crowd to give an introduction from the podium. There were surprised people popping out of the elevator every few minutes. They would step out expecting to see the Pearl Room as they know it, and instead were met by hundreds of eyes. (Now I wish it were eyes in a jar which would be even more disturbing, but it was just plain old eyeballs in eyesockets attached to mostly regular, alive, non-zombie human beings.) Another surprised person, this one bearded, in good humor, and being Michael Chabon stepped out of the elevator or appeared from a trapdoor in the floor and made his way to the front.

He started with a couple of jokes about the temperature and the crowd. Someone shouted out a question right away. I don't remember and my notes don't say whether or not he did his whole F.A.Q. session before he read or after, but I'm going to pretend that it was at least partly before. So, YES, the Coen brothers are adapting the Yiddish Policeman's Union, although he doesn't know exactly where they are in the process since they keep coming out with new movies. (Josie and the Pussycats 2 joke here!) As for the F. of the A.Q., no kidding! So many of the questions were almost verbatim from the last time I saw him read two years ago. (Yes, he liked the Wonder Boys movie. No, he doesn't know what's going on with a Kavalier and Clay movie except that they were just on the verge of filming until suddenly they weren't. This was years ago. subtext: it would be nice but don't hold your breath.)

He read two pieces from his new collection. The first one was about escaping "the cruel code of the wallet" by adapting the Man Purse (aka: Murse). It was funny, sharp, and self-depricating. The second was about The Future as he experienced it in his childhood and how he regrets that his kids can't experience it in the same way. They were both good; I look forward to reading them in the context of the rest of the book.

After the reading, there were more questions. Do you still read comics? (yes.) He views novel writing as a "legal excuse" to do stuff he's interested in. (like reading comics.) Someone asked him for a murse critique by holding up a bag, which Chabon slagged with good humor: "what is that? an NPR tote? I don't think you're even trying.") There were questions about his recently ended column for Details Magazine (I didn't know it existed) and questions about Fountain City, which was the novel he abandoned before writing Wonder Boys. (I liked the essay in Maps and Legends about that particular process.)

Speaking of charity (he's done a lot of work for the 826 organization), he asked, "why no 826 pdx? it seems like a natural fit. All you have to do is call them up and tell them you want one, they'd do it!" Someone from the crowd shouted out something about Write Around Portland, to which Chabon replied "ahh, it's hostile territory!" (the true story, as Dave Eggers explained it in wordstock year 1, is that there's already a similar program in Community of Writers and they don't want to step on any toes.)

End of the In Person Chabon Experience for 2009. (final judgement: as always, he seems like a really decent guy. Smart, funny, confident, questioning, kind.) We didn't stay to get anything signed, but we weren't ready to leave yet either. Thus began the wandering. If you ever find yourself at Powells, I really recommend putting the map away and just having yourself a nice wander.

green books in latin
JOSEPHUS X has sold out!!!

yellow and blue
Oh teen detectives, how I love your cover art. Speaking of teen detectives, have you seen Kate Beaton's recurring Mystery Solving Teens? They crack me up! (Mystery Solving Teens and Mystery Solving Teens Mystery)

Nancy Drew solves mysteries, uncovers secrets, finds staircases
Nancy Drew solves mysteries, uncovers secrets, finds staircases.

so tell me, what happened?
WHAT HAPPENED, JOE HARDY???? Is the peg-legged sailor wielding that anchor trying to steal your Murse?

time delayed

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Friday, October 23, 2009
OLD BUSINESS: I want to be more timely when posting about books/movies. Sometimes I need to think about things for a while to get my head around them - that's how this habit of delay started. But then it morphed into taking forever with everything! It's because I'm either too lazy to sit down and do the work, or (embarrassingly) scared to be wrong. Me! Wrong! Like that would happen. However, it's not like no one has ever been wrong on the internet before and it's also not like I can't have one opinion now and have a different opinion later. So basically, I'm calling bullshit on my whole avoidance scheme.

But before I get to my new way of doing things, here are some Old Business matters I'd like to address:

OB1. My judgement on the US version of Life on Mars (What? it's been less than a year.): I really loved that show and would have liked to see it unspool over a couple of seasons. The ending was insane, but I did grudgingly admire the pure audacity of making it THAT INSANE. I mean, there was no way they could have convincingly tied anything up in the number of episodes they had left, so why not? I'm also somewhat forgiving because the finale aired on April 1, which gave it an air of "we know this shit is bananas!"

OB2. The funniest book I read this summer was called How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely. It made me laugh out loud (the kind where it's actually embarrassing, but rather than look away with shame I'd brazen it out and insist on reading the funny parts aloud to anyone foolish enough to make eye contact). It's a sendup of blockbuster best sellers, the writers who write them, the publishers who publish them, the people who read them -- the fact that no one is spared makes it less mean spirited than it sounds. Nobody gets it as bad as our narrator, Pete Tarslaw. I put this on hold at the library after John August wrote about it -- I didn't have to wait, there were available copies. When I took it back, there were 7 holds, last time I looked 17, and when I just checked now there were 33 holds. Word of mouth, people!

Here's a quote -- I had to grab this in a hurry as I was taking it back to the library (IN JULY!), so maybe it's not the most apt, but I flipped it open and there it was and it made me laugh so here it is. At this point in the book, Pete is trying to decide what sort of book he will write in order to become famous and make his ex-girlfriend sorry. (Tim Drew is the bestselling author of The Darwin Enigma):

Writing a thriller, a Hawaii beach-house personal-helicopter-level blockbuster, is damn near impossible. That's why Tim Drew can give away his secrets for free.

It's easy at first, describing your hero's monumental chin and iron-core integrity and so forth. But slowly you discover it's like a complicated math problem, or assembling a bookshelf. You have to keep track of dozens of tiny parts, which good guys turn out to be bad guys, and which cars will get blown up by which helicopters. And you know your readers will have no patience. They're demanding entertainment, so every page has to be interesting and full of guns and veiled threats and snappy retorts. It's exhausting.

With literary fiction, on the other hand, you can just cover everything up with a coat of wordy spackle. those readers are searching for wisdom, so they're easier to trick.

sons and daughters
OB3: here's a picture from the Andrew Bird/Decemberists concert at Edgefield (also from JULY!) The concert lawn at Edgefield has it all over the concert lawn at the Zoo, I have to say. Much roomier! We were sitting pretty far back, but it was lovely nevertheless. I loved that from where I was sitting the stage got an extra leafy frame, which just added to the Evil Forest Ambience, which played right into thier full performance of The Hazards of Love. This (blurry, zoomed in the dark) picture is from the very end (Sons & Daughters).

...and here are 20 random seconds of video from that song! (Maximum clapping, minimal singing, although you can hear the tail end of the excellent word 'dirigible.' I don't know why this is what I chose to record, other than random slaphappy button pushing.)

secret message (arboreal)

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I was working on writing up some of the book stuff of the last week (Chabon, Wordstock, etcetera), but I need to think/write on it a little longer, so I decided I would photo spam instead. Trust me, it's better this way.

I took these on Friday -- I was back at the park today and it's already very different.

red leaves
I started off taking one of these tree pictures for old times sake. I still want to take them ALL THE TIME, but since I have 100s already, I try to limit myself. I hadn't been to the park in a while, hadn't been taking these kinds of daily photos. It's a good way to ease back in -- especially since putting my head all the way back like this almost always makes me a little dizzy -- the dizziness makes me look at things slightly differently.

tree frame
Which is how I started seeing all these little shapes on the fringes of the leaves. (this one is a heart.)

tree frame
This is just a few steps down from the heart! I looked up and saw how it almost fit together like a puzzle. I'm pretty sure I got in the way of a couple of runners while I waltzed around with my camera in the air to find the spot I liked best. (too bad!)

tree frame
I like the big empty space in the middle here. Perfect for framing a cloud shaped like a dragon (absent), or a tiny airplane full of competitive bunko players (absent), or a giant flying bunny that bounds the earth in 5 hops (present but invisible).

tree frame
SSSS Maybe this is Slytherin street. Or sassafras, sarsaparilla, salmonella, sprigs of twigs, sibilance street. Something snakey is going on, is all I'm saying.

No air space here, I just thought it was pretty. I literally (for reals) stopped in my tracks! (I am the stop start bane of joggers.) Now that I look at it again, I think I was maybe chasing a frame of branches here, but mostly it's the color.

bright spot

wienermobile five

| On
Friday, October 16, 2009

So many things! But I find myself once again at the very tired end of a long day and I should go to bed RIGHT NOW, but... I saw the Wienermobile today!

so here are five things:

1. I saw the Wienermobile today. license plate reads: WEENR

2. Am reading The Magicians and it is off to a rollicking start.

3. I should write a book post soon (beyond the wordstock post and the Chabon reading post that I have queued up in my mind), but for now I'll say that I had confused The Egyptologist with The Historian in terms of length and thought there's no way in hell I am going to read The Egyptologist, which is too bad because it sounded interesting, but now there IS a way in hell (and on earth!) that I may read it because it's only 400 pgs., not 400lbs.

4. I failed to get into the Read the Classics class for Swann's Way, but I'm on the wait list. But I think I may drop that too, because I'd pretty much need to abandon every other thing I'm reading and devote myself to that for the next little bit and I'm reading too many good things right now. Sorry, Marcel.

4a. while checking the mighty google to make sure I was spelling Marcel correctly, I came across one of those quotation sites that plucks greeting-card gems from literary brainiacs. This one was at the top of the page and I like it: A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves. I'd love to see the Mary Engelbreit illustration for the following: Everything great in the world comes from neurotics. They alone have founded our religions and composed our masterpieces.

5. Today I discovered a new thing to take pictures of and this new thing is everywhere if you squint your eyes just so. Hooray! Details (and photos) to follow. It may not turn out to be very interesting, but it gladdened my heart while I was out with my camera today.

parking lot quandaries

| On
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tonight, after hearing Michael Chabon at Powells (more on that soon - it was lovely, as usual), I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some diet coke. (I know, I know.) As I was going in, I saw a lady pushing a wire basket heading to the front vestibule. She stopped in an awkward to get around spot and tried to get the attention of people going in and out. She buttonholed someone else and I, feeling like I'd just skated away from something unpleasant, walked right on by. She was still there on the way out, talking to yet another someone else -- I had my keys in one hand and a case of diet coke in the other. It was pretty clear at this point she was asking for money, but I was all set for the dash to my car. I got 3/4 of the way there when I heard "excuse me. EXCUSE ME" louder and louder and knew she was talking to me. I turned around, thinking for one fraction of one second that maybe I'd dropped something, or maybe she was talking to someone else. Of course not.

She quickly caught up to me. "Can you help me out? I need to buy diapers for my baby and I don't get my money until Friday." This seemed fishy as there was no baby, but I held my keys in my mouth and started digging around my bag with the hand that wasn't holding a very heavy case of diet coke. I didn't say a word. She said, "my name is Pamela, it's nice to meet you." I said nothing and handed her a few dollars that I'd fished out of my wallet. She said thanks and god bless and beat it out of the parking lot.

I handled this so poorly! My instinct is that this was a brazen shakedown; once she got me to stop there was no graceful way to get out. I knew I'd have to give her money since I knew I had cash in my wallet. On the other hand, maybe her story was true! Just because aggressive panhandling in front of Albertson's isn't the first thing I'd think of if my baby needed diapers doesn't mean she wasn't in a crisis of some sort.

To be completely honest, I do wish I'd managed to get to my car without turning around (I'm having some Orpheus empathy -- it's hard not to turn around!), but I also wish that I'd acted with more kindness and true generosity instead of fear and irritation. I gave her a few dollars I won't miss, not out of the kindness of my heart but to be left alone. It was stingy and I'm sorry I didn't know the right way to navigate that interaction.

scouring wind

| On
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
wind wind wind! this wind is the cold sharp kind that scrubs away the last remnants of summer. Mother Nature sent out enforcers -- the season must turn! If summer won't go of its own volition she'll make it go, by force if necessary. Tender plants desiccate in front of my eyes like a sad sesame street timelapse; it's ridiculous how this upsets me, even though I know it's the way of things. They must die to be reborn, but I'm bummed out nevertheless -- I even feel bad for the spiders. (You can imagine a soundtrack of sad folk music if you like, but I've been listening to Jens Lekman and other Swedes as a buttress against the weather. They can be melancholy and sunny at the same time. I'm not sure how they do it.)

Thankfully, the worst of the wind seems to be over. Last night was so loud I hardly slept at all. My bedroom is upstairs, my bed partially under a window -- this is lovely when I can see the stars or the sunrise, but not so soothing when all I can see is tree tops whipping around in the hazy orange gas station/volcano light produced by street lamps combined with heavy, rain-bearing clouds. BUT, the wind (which is still around) seems to be transitioning to the old familiar RAIN, which is actually wonderful for sleeping. Hooray!

The wind isn't all bad -- I went for a nice long walk (wind at my back) and since it was cold I wore my coat, which means I have pockets again! Walking with minimal pockets is a drag.

Anyway. Here are some pictures from today's walk:

It's been a while since I've been out to the usual places -- partly due to laziness, partly because I was trying to complete some stuff at home, partly because of my ankle, which is still tender from my fall in AUGUST. All of this is bad and I could easily feel guilty about it, but instead I will say that being absent for a couple of weeks made differences that much easier to spot! This tree was green and now it's yellow!

tree arch
I love the tree drama -- the wind usually comes after the leaves have mostly turned and it sweeps them all away. Right now, I'd say that they're only about 30% turned. Maybe coming early means we'll have colored leaves for longer. (I said maybe!) It did blow many acorns right out of their caps, though. (probably part of some squirrel conspiracy.)

orange green red
the bundle of leaves that this leaf was part of was INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL. Pictures aren't even close. It was almost neon.

red already
These were all taken today within an hour of each other. The wind was blowing clouds in and out. This was an out moment. I do like the jaunty blue/red/orange thing going on here.

stop don't stop
I like the the light.

Now that fall is really truly I can deny it no longer here, I should take the time to make a couple of autumn resolutions: 1) stay hydrated 2) get enough sleep. There are many more, but I figure those make an excellent starting point.

micro wordstock update

| On
Sunday, October 11, 2009
don't miss! (color)

wordstock weekend is over! It was fun and fine, but my butt is tired from all those hours on convention center chairs. (Convention center chairs are deceptively evil. They look like regular, benign, inert chairs, but after two hours they reveal themselves as pure upholstered malevolence from some furniture showroom IN HELL.)

Michael Chabon is reading at Powell's on Wednesday so it feels like book week just keeps on going, which is fine by me. (The chairs for readings at Powell's are EVEN WORSE, but I solve that little problem by standing up.)

ANYWAY - more to come shortly! For now know that WWI came up more than once, and that despite all his entertaining foulmouthed braggadocio, James Ellroy is a bit of a delicate flower.

island afternoon

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Friday, October 09, 2009
Gratuitous photo post ahead!! These pictures are from last saturday on Sauvie Island.

island afternoon
I think this looks fake - like tilt shift or made on a little photo set with cotton balls for clouds. Okay, maybe not tilt shift. I went here to tilt-shiftize it the lazy way to compare, and it just looked blurry on the bottom. But tilt shift is fun to play with! I could tilt shift something then send it through the poladroid. Hmmm.

These strawflowers are crazy. They really do feel dry like straw. If you were to pick this flower (well, travel back in time one week and pick this flower), it would look more or less the same in six months! Dustier, probably. At least at my house. Maybe a little faded, but otherwise unchanged. FREAKY. Honestly, nature is the freakiest.

corn! High as an elephant's eye, for sure. A really tall elephant. Although I think the actual ears of corn had already been harvested.

these are not giant sunflowers, but they sure are pretty.

some kind of barn/silo/rust situation. I like it.

moon pumpkin
white, aka moon pumpkin! MOON PUMPKIN. The world is full of wonders.

out the window
Here's a still photo of what it looked like to be driving on the beachy side of the island. (corn on one side, river on the other side.) The clouds were out of control.

...and here's a five second video! The sun was shining and my sister was driving like there was a bomb in the trunk that would explode if we took a sharp corner at less than 50 miles per hour. The flickr conversion degraded the video, but even the original's color flashed negative. I think the color issue is partly because the sun was SO BRIGHT and shining right into the camera's digital business.

sauvie island in october
I think this is the same barn I posted earlier this summer - the barn dance barn/death by inconsiderate snake barn. It is totally overgrown ON THE INSIDE, which is just insane. Maybe I didn't see it right. Maybe I should go back and look.

I spent more time on Sauvie Island this summer than I have in years. I think it was a good plan and I hope to do it again next year.

try reading out of order

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Thursday, October 08, 2009
doorway giraffe

Work has been busy this week, which is great because I like work and I like getting paid, but it means that my BIG PLANS to get a lot of stuff done in the garden before it starts raining will have to be accomplished tomorrow! I'm looking forward to it, though. It's supposed to be raining by Saturday. Deadlines are good.

Today was fun. I had lots of sweet/funny/charming patrons and only one entitled asshole, but I got to politely school him so that was fun too.

I think my favorite patrons today were j/ya-reading ladies of a certain age. (j stands for "juvenile", which straddles a pretty wide range of reading levels. ya is "young adult" which, as a category, varies wildly in terms of sophistication.) Anyway! Lady #1 plunked down the second Twilight book on the counter and announced: "you want to try something wild? try reading these out of order! I started with the last one, if you can imagine that." She was having a good time with it. Maybe she read all the flap about the last book and wanted to vet it for her grandkid/ward/whatever and got hooked in. Whatever the case, she is going to get to the bottom of this vampire romance business one way or another.

The other lady was KILLING ME with her insistence that she did not want to get drawn into another series that was not finished already! Her grandkids got her "sucked into this stuff" which was mostly j fantasy. She had about 5 books from one author and wanted to make sure that if they were part of a series, that the series was complete. She was not interested in waiting for some writer to bang out the ending - she wants to know NOW. (there was then a hysterical sidebar about how she understands on one level why J.K. Rowling might have needed to take time off to have her baby, but it really pissed her off because she was WAITING for that book.) Anyway, we figured out what we could figure out, and I told her that when she burned through this series, she should check at the reference desk and have them help her find more completed series.

In other book news, Wordstock is this weekend! I can't believe it. The dates keep moving around - first two years it was in April, then in November and now in October. Whatevs, Wordstock! I will be attending despite your best attempts to keep information from me. I have yet to figure out my schedule, but it doesn't matter; I always have a good time. This year I vow to write it up in a timely manner.

In a cruel twist of fate, the Friends of the Library annual book sale is also this weekend! Maybe it's not a cruel twist of fate. Maybe it's actually really convenient since the place where they're having the sale isn't that far from where Wordstock will be. Hmmm.

are you cussing with me?

| On
Monday, October 05, 2009
We're supposed to have a hard frost sometime soon, but I didn't pay enough attention to know if it's tonight -- I sure hope not because a lot of my houseplants are still outside. (Please let it not be tonight.)

I still have everything everywhere as the result of painting a dresser and trying to move furniture and getting sick all at once. (aka: the most wrongheaded mutli-tasking I've attempted in a long while.) I'm s-l-o-w-l-y getting things back together, but work has picked up so everything's pell-mell what the hell around here. But that's okay because it rhymes.

More soon including: fascinating library trivia, my deep thoughts on America's obsession with police procedurals, recipe for happiness (chief ingredient: greek yogurt), explanation of my deep abiding hatred of tiny urls and much, much more!

I saw this preveiw for Fantastic Mr. Fox at the movies this weekend and it cracks me up, even as I wonder if Wes Anderson only ever listens to the same five records.

here's a link to another one featuring pure wild animal craziness.

news as it happens

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Saturday, October 03, 2009
green leaves!

There are about a million little swifts flying past my window right now. (I could be wrong about the species, but they are small and fast with swift-pointy wings.) They sound so cheerful but I think they actually might be having an argument. Birds! and their worms! Okay, I just looked up swifts and these birds are more swallow than swift, although I don't really think they're swallows either. I guess I'll put off writing my massive and definitive encyclopedia of birds for a while.

HERE ARE THE FACTS: There are attractive singing birds flying by my window. They may or may not be cheerful themselves but they make me happy.

Next up on the eleven o'clock news: squirrels climbing giant sunflowers.