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all hallow's eve, eve

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Sunday, October 30, 2011
The greatest Halloween costume ever

Ha!  I love this idea.

I haven't even carved a jack o'lantern yet. I'm gonna before it gets dark tomorrow, I swear! It doesn't take a long time because I'm a jack o'lantern traditionalist: I like triangle eyes, a triangle nose, and a wide gappy smile. That's it! No fancy headless horseman/ Ron Swanson/ Yoda or whatever - straight up JACK O'LANTERN for me. I genuinely admire the fancy pumpkins of others, but it is not my way.

looks good to me

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Thursday, October 27, 2011
I saw this trailer for the movie The Artist this morning and I wish I could watch the whole thing right now. It looks to be mostly silent (w/music) and also French. But since there's no apparent dialogue, I won't have to read subtitles! Anyway - I love the look of it.

In other news, I just remembered that I'm working today! I'd better go get myself together.

starring Tommy

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011
local theater
I love this poster - I saw it on a telephone pole near the park sometime in August -  I'm assuming it's a homeschool theater department situation.  Was this play ever mounted? I don't know! But I really dig the red sharpie/pencil poster and that it was put up with heavy duty upholstery staples.


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Tuesday, October 18, 2011
daisy walk
I just uploaded some photos from July (!) -  I thought these two had a kind of fall color cast to them, so here they are. The top picture is of echinacea (coneflower) and the bottom is of echinacea and yarrow. So pretty! These aren't from my garden, but I just got an echinacea called 'harvest moon' this summer. Pretty, pretty.

daisy walk
It's sunny and windy here today. I'm trying to get some stuff planted (that should have been planted AGES ago) before we get our first freeze. Hopefully I'm enough weeks ahead (or even one week ahead!) so the plants can establish themselves a little.

Wordstock 2011: ring ring

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Sunday, October 16, 2011
This year I attended Wordstock on Saturday only - usually I go all day, both days but 2011 provided a combo of a stinking cold plus a visit from my California uncle. (Ha ha! That sounds like some kind of euphemism. “Oh, I’d love to go but I’ve got a visit from my California Uncle if you know what I mean.” I don’t know what it would mean, but in this instance it was truly my mother’s brother who lives in Fresno, visiting.) Anyway - it was a great day, but I spent most of it trying not to cough. Between cough drops and my water bottle, I think I did pretty well.

Everything was great. Every single thing! Oh, wait - there were some un-great things, but those were mostly noise related. It’s tough when you’ve got three stages going in the same hall, and one of those stages is singing, you know? Everything I attended was top quality, content-wise. On the shopping side, it seemed like there were fewer exhibitors, but that could be just how they had the thing laid out - I didn’t have as much time to peruse since I only had one free hour the whole day. The website and the booklet were FINALLY written so it was easy to cross-reference authors, so that’s another plus. 


11:00 - Peter Mountford and Steve Almond, Wordstock Community Stage: awesome. We were a little bit late since I was sure that they were reading at one of the big stages in the main area. They were across the way in one of the lecture rooms, but these are actually better because it’s not so crazy noisy. Peter Mountford had pneumonia, which certainly put my own cold into perspective. If he could sit there and read long passages from his novel without passing out, surely I could sit and pay attention for the whole time with minimal cough drop wrapper rustling. I like to think I succeeded. Mountford read first, from his recently published novel A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism - it’s his first, but the writing sounded very assured to my ears. I was intrigued by the premise (high finance and La Paz, Bolivia) and quite liked the section he read - will definitely read this book. You should read it too, then we can talk about it.

Steve Almond read from his new story collection (God Bless America: Stories) next - I’ve seen him read several times now and he was engaging as always. This time he was especially good - the new collection isn’t memoir-based essays(as his last one was), but short stores - the example I heard was strong all on its own, not bolstered by how likable Steve Almond is, if that makes any sense. The piece he read from was about poker, psychiatry, psychology, and the decor of suburban casinos. (Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched.) While he was reading, someone’s cell phone rang. Not just a little beep or blip, but a full on rumba. This understandably threw Almond off. As seems to always be the case with disruptive rings, it kept ringing - like the phone owner had accidentally put it behind a bunch of zippers or locks that had to be dealt with before it could be turned off. All eyes scanned the room, Almond said in the classes he teaches, he tells the person with the ringing phone that he will give them an F if they don’t take the call and pretend that nothing weird is going on. Ha ha! Awesome. He resumes reading. The phone rings again in a few minutes - obviously the same one due to the distinctive ring. The crowd is so totally against this phone person now - it sweeps through the room like unspoken mob intelligence. But Almond is classy and shows compassion, saying ‘hey, we don’t know. Maybe somebody is pregnant or sick.” (My sister and I discussed this afterward and agreed that this is what phones in your pocket set on vibrate are for.) He resumes reading. The phone owner slips out. 

I don’t have a lot of notes from the Q & A, which started with them asking each other questions. I did note that each seemed to genuinely enjoy the others’ work, which charmed me - a nicely supportive yet funny and self-depricating environment. Almond predicted that there would be an awkward silence before the Q&A started, but I think people only generated the awkward silence because we didn’t want to disappoint him. The questions from the crowd were mostly about writing process, as they always are at every reading I’ve ever attended. When asked about his process Almond said it’s a lot of humiliating badness, then figuring out his diurnal schedule (do you write better in the morning or the night? Write then.) and getting to work when he finally tires of the bullshit. Mountford talked about having a broad pool of trusted early readers - he said he does it this way because you can tap out a resource (“they don’t return my emails”) and it’s good to get a spectrum of opinion (but not too early). They said a lot of smart things that I didn’t write down.  (sorry! I was sick.)

Almond & Mountford, Mountford & Almond - the names together sound like a 70s songwriting team or maybe a specialized detective agency. As far as I know they don’t do these things, but they DO write very well. If you get the chance to see them read together or apart, you should take it.

More Wordstock to follow! 

caption technology v. the forest

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Friday, October 14, 2011
These pictures have been fighting with me for 20 minutes. I can't manage to write anything BESIDE them, so I'm going to have an epic caption instead. Take that, pictures! I wonder if there's a limit on caption length? Anyway - this is THE WOODS right off of a lovely paved path at the Starvation Creek park.  I was sick as a dog (a dog with a head cold), but my uncle was visiting and since I'd spent the day before at Wordstock, I felt like I should go along with the rest of the gang. It worked out! As far as I know, no one else has the dog's head cold and I got to take these (and many other) pictures.

you have got to be kidding me! Now the picture wants to be on the side. I swear ... oh wait. it's moving over as I type. This is bizarre, but I realize not exactly interesting. As I was saying - Starvation Creek. Here's the waterfall -  I think it's lovely as waterfalls generally are. (can you think of an ugly one? I can't.)  I could have hopped over the creek itself to take a picture without these trees, but that was not going to happen because I was sick and didn't want to be riding around in a car for hours with wet shoes.

It's very peaceful in these woods even though they're just off the freeway, even though the water is rushing relentlessly  over rocks and fallen trees.  Maybe that's why - the cars sound like water, but the water doesn't sound like cars. The train just sounds like the train, though. 

Oh, hey! Check it out - I escaped from the captions. They keep changing things on blogger which is great because a lot of them needed changing, but it sometimes takes a little while to figure out what's going on.  Anyway - this was a tiny portion of the lovely things I saw on Sunday. I hope I'll have some Wordstock stuff up this afternoon. 

what I think will happen

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Saturday, October 08, 2011

Today is Wordstock day! Normally, I like to go for all day, both days but I'm not sure if that's going to work this time or not. I have ANOTHER stupid cold and my uncle is visiting from California, both of which curb my natural Wordstock inclinations. We'll see how it shakes out by the end of today.

Speaking of which, here's my tentative schedule:

11:00 Steve Almond
12:00 Julia Glass & Diana Abu-Jaber
1:00 Jennifer Egan (!!!!!!!!! one thousand !!!!!!!!!s)
2:00 lunch OR Michael Ondaatje OR Vera Brosgol & Jonathan Hill (you should read VB's Anya's Ghost if you haven't already - it's fantastic.)
3:00 Craig Thompson, probably
4:00 panel: Pushing the Limits of Form in Fiction (feat. Jennifer Egan)
5:00 Carson Ellis & Colin Meloy

Looks good, right? A few of those things happen at the same time as other things I'm interested, so it's open to change.

this makes me happy

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Friday, October 07, 2011
Is there nothing Beyoncé can't do? Not that I want her to not do it - I love that she seemingly accomplishes anything she sets her mind to and that her mind is always pushing and moving forward. Beyond that, I just love this video - love the song, love the Funny Face/ Flashdance/ Supremes/ Everything Else references, love the color, love that I know she worked hard on it (because she works hard on everything) yet it looks so effortlessly FUN.

(via the entire internet, but I saw it first here, where you should go and read, then you should go here and click the link. For real -  CLICK THE LINK.)

mystery of the day

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Tuesday, October 04, 2011
The month's barely begun, but already I have lost things. NAMELY:

1) External paper for CD I checked out of the library. I had the case sitting on my desk and a cough drop MELTED ON IT. (it like, melted from within -  I'm casting a dubious eye at ricola these days.)  Anyway, the library CD case has a plastic cover protecting the outer artwork - I fished it out so I could rinse melted cough drop lava off without ruining the paper. I put it in a safe place - so safe I can't find it. And it's due in two days! And I can't renew! AGONY!  I know it's got to be here somewhere. (Looks under computer for the 300th time...)

2) Dang, I know there was at least one other thing gone missing, but I can't remember what. I know, let's make a list of where this paper might be instead.  Oooh, blogger has a number button. I think that's new. I am pushing the number button!

  1. the most obvious place that the paper is, is under other papers. Hiding in plain sight. The good news is that I have lots of papers and it could be right here on my desk. The bad news is that I have lots of papers and it could be right here on my desk and I may never find it even after looking for a year.
  2. spirited away in the dead of night by someone who is gaslighting me with library materials. This seems less likely, but YOU NEVER KNOW.
  3. I have tested, and the blogger number button won't let me make numbers under numbers. 
  4. I should be reading the Henrietta Lacks book since the non-fiction bookgroup is reading it this weekend, but Wordstock is this weekend! Once I realized they overlapped, I didn't read even one page, although though I really do want to read it. Several members of the bookgroup have read it before and were fighting* about it before we discussed The Big Burn. I want to read it so that I might fight about it, too! 
  5. *for library non-fiction bookgroup definitions of "fighting." There were no fists and only a little shouting. It seems (from my very informal observations) that the hard-science people are of the "cells are just cells" camp and other people are "I see your point, but !!!!!!" and then the science people say "stem cells, etc. etc." and other people are like "hmmmm. Yes, but" and then everyone started talking about wildfires instead since it was 2 o'clock and it was time to talk about wildfires. I wanted to talk about the bromance between Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot, but there was so much to talk about we didn't cover it as thoroughly as I would have liked. (WHITE HOUSE UNDERWEAR WRESTLING/BOXING!) 
  6. I am trapped in the blogger numbered list forever. 
OR AM I? Okay. Now I'm going to bed.