So, I have been slammed with spam and do not feel like wading through 423 comments right now, and have changed one setting, which means you have to sign in to comment. Sorry for the inconvenience, but 423 50-line spams has outdone me. If this works, great, if not, I may have to shut down comments.
Archive for the 'General' Category
Just waded through 223 entries of spam, all of which were huge and this took forever, and I didn’t find one actual comment from an actual person.
So this has me thinking. Heads up, dear readers. I think change is on its way…
I listen to the Current radio station, and my favorite of their DJs is Mary Lucia. Yesterday, she played Squeeze’s first hit single, Take Me I’m Yours, which I knew from their collection Squeeze Singles 45’s and Under. It jolted me back:
18 years old, I’m new to a stickshift, grinding the gears and riding the clutch of a cheap, noisy car. 7:45 in the morning, running late on the way to school, my best friend is in the passenger seat. Between my knees a cold Diet Coke. (This was in the days before cupholders.) In my left hand, a Marlboro Light. Squeeze Singles blaring from the tape player. We laughed. We stalled out. We cursed. And somehow we got to school.
It took me a little while to finally meet Nick Drake’s song “Pink Moon” properly. Our relationship started with a case of mistaken identity.
Many years ago, there was a Volkswagen commercial that had a song I really liked. The next time I was CD shopping (something my husband and I used to do, in those Double Income No Kid days) I saw a CD with a starry blue cover and a sticker that said it contained music featured in a Volkswagen commercial.
I listened to the CD on the ride home, but was disappointed. Nothing on this new Hooverphonic CD sounded as good as the song I remembered. Maybe I just need to listen to it more, I thought. Listening more made things worse. The discrepancy between the haunting melody in my memory and that album only grew. What a whiny, boring album, I thought. Alas, my husband really liked it, and played it often. To this day the opening moans of that album send me lunging for the off button.
Some months later, knocked up with my first child and browsing my comic shop, I heard the strains of THAT song. The original song. The song I wanted. The song I thought I’d found in Hooverphonic, but had not. I rushed to the counter.
“Who sings this song?” I demanded.
My friend the Big Brain looked at me as if he were sorry that I did not know the answer. He looked at me a lot like that back then because I didn’t know much about music or film. He had good recommendations for me in both areas that were the building blocks of some of my favorites today. Interestingly, though, he was less helpful with comics advice. Except for Hicksville. And Goodbye Chunky Rice.
“It’s Nick Drake. He’s dead.”
“Can I borrow it?”
Not only did he let me borrow it, he let me borrow the other CDs that came in the really cool limited set he had. I took them home and listened to them over and over. Unlike with Hooverphonic, repeat listening only endeared them to me more. Months later, as I was packing my pregnancy bag for the hospital, those CDs were one of the first things in the bag. I imagined giving birth listening to the calming strains of poor-dead Nick Drake’s voice. And then I put a whole bunch more stupid sh1t in the bag, like the video of Pride and Prejudice, about twenty other CDs, makeup, makeup remover that I’d made a special trip to the store to buy a travel size of, and a pretty nightgown.
Out of all that, the only useful item was the Pink Moon cd. Nothing went according to how I imagined it. The classes said that water breaking first was a dramatic fib perpetuated by Hollywood. My water broke first. At midnight. After I’d just fallen asleep after an exhausting day. I spent the next twelve hours having irregular contractions that made me throw up anything I put in my mouth. Even melted ice cubes came back up. Finally the hospital grudgingly agreed it was time for me to come in. I was still leaking a little, so we put a black trashbag over the back seat of the car. I got in, but had a hard time sitting upright. My husband knew that Pink Moon made me feel better, so he put that in. After the song finished he asked if I wanted to listen to something else.
“Pink Moon!” I called out, desperate, like it was a life raft I was hanging onto. “Pink Moon!”
The bat$hit crazy edge to my voice was in direct contrast to the soothing sound of the song. My husband wisely snatched his hand away from the controls, letting the CD play on.
Long story short: long labor with healthy baby boy. Gave up playing music after the first couple Nick Drake ones. Figured out it was ridiculous to think that I’d be in labor and up for a video, as if I were home, sick in bed. Never wore the nightgown. If I was going to gush messily all over the place, I was happy to do it in hospital supply. Touched neither the makeup or the remover and was suitably embarrassed for having thought I might.
Those Nick Drake cds, especially Pink Moon, were about the only useful thing I took to the hospital. Every time I hear Pink Moon on the radio, I hear my own voice in my head, screech-moaning, “Pink Moon! Pink Moon!” in a violent tone that does not match the song at all. It’s not a bad memory, though, in fact it makes me laugh.
Overwhelmption: noun. The state of being overwhelmed, inundated or otherwise paralyzed by a situation (e.g. approaching holidays) or mess that’s “so big. And so deep and so tall, we cannot pick it up. There is no way at all!” (The Cat in the Hat)
See also: Tharn:
Describes the act of a person or animal being frozen in terror, e.g. a deer caught in the headlights.
Perhaps originally found in Richard Adams’s novel ‘Watership Down,’ the term was also adopted by Stephen King for use in his novel ‘The Stand.’
Michael stood tharn while the grizzly bear bore down on him.
Really, dear readers, I’m not sure why you put up with me. When I went to check how many photos I haven’t posted and DVDs I haven’t talked about, I was abashed. And what about all those clever vignettes and stories I meant to write about regularly? Yeah, not so much. Sigh.
On an upside, I’ve been on some nice bike rides lately, with and without the boys. In my recent post on milestones, I forgot to mention my bike milestones.
In June, I celebrated five years as a bicyclist! I got my first bicycle as an adult when my younger son was about one year old, and have been gradually riding more ever since.
In April, I’d been riding my current bike, Pepper, for a year. I traded in my adorable but unwieldy cruiser for a sleeker, simpler single speed, which I have now pimped out to my satisfaction (this photo isn’t even current; I got a tan saddle to match the handlebar tape). I feel like it was after I got Pepper, once Guppy started full-day kindergarten, that I got serious as a cyclist, and worked up from five miles each way to round trips in the 20- and 30-mile range. Also, this past winter was so mild that whenever G. Grod put the bikes away in the basement, I found myself hauling Pepper back upstairs, in January, February, and March.
For upcoming posts, I’ve got a few more book stacks (went a little nuts over the holiday weekend at Half Price Books 20% off sales), and a slew of DVDs to catch up on. Good thing I’ve been reading a long book, Main Street by Sinclair Lewis, so at least I’m not behind in book reviews. My goodness, there were a lot of those this summer.
Now that both boys are back in school, Guppy in 1st, Drake in 3rd, I have all sorts of grand ideas about what I’ll do with all my time: write more, bike more, volunteer, get a part-time job, etc. I’ll wait to see what the gap between idealism and reality looks like this year.
Greetings and Salutations, friends! I was in central Ohio visiting family last week, where there was no wifi because of power outages due to a series of v. bad storms.
Back home with connectivity, and will be returning to the Shelf Discovery writing/comment approving today!
But sometimes, it’s all I’ve got. Here’s what I would be blogging if I could be blogging.
(My book group is due tonight, so I have to clean bathrooms.)
A review of Party Down Season 1 (mini: awesome)
A review of The Best American Comics 2011 that we’ll be discussing at tonight’s book group (middling, of course, which is what all these silly collections are. some good, some ok, some hateful.)
a review of Julian Barnes Sense of an Ending (mini: impressive. mesmerizing.)
a review of Pawnee by Leslie Knope, but if you’re not watching Parks and Rec, you don’t know the glory that is the best character on tv right now, Ron Swanson. (mini: hilarious)
a picture of the giant pile of books I bought today.
Yes, I do have a problem. I LOVE BOOKS TOO MUCH. (and coffee. and pastries.) As you can see, I found many of the Tournament of Book titles I wasn’t able to get at the library or through other methods.
Level of anxiety: medium high and rising. Rising.
Also, does the photo look weird and compressed to you? Sigh.
All right; that’s all the non-blogging I can manage.
Good thing my mom and step-dad-in-law notified us the blog was messed up. The rest of you are slacking!
Anyway, I think the coffee chick with pink plaid and yellow roses may be beyond repair, so I’ll work with tech support (ahem, my husband) to come up with a new look. And maybe update the stuff on the side, which is at least a year old. Sigh.
In the meantime, enjoy this super-clean theme, and please let me know if you have any other blog-related snafus.
(The end of October marked 16 years from when I met the man who is my husband, G. We join the story, already in progress.)
So, there we were, G and me, picking out songs on the jukebox and hitting it off. We talked with my friend A, who’d encouraged me to introduce myself to G. Another friend of mine, C, joined the conversation for a bit*, then moved on. I found out G was: 23, living with his parents, had recently given up on grad school, was selling insurance for a company with a cult-ish sounding name. He found out I: recently started grad school, was 27, was leaving in the morning to visit my sister who lived in Nashville, had a tough week of papers coming up in school. The night wore on and he had a 45 minute drive ahead of him. He asked for my phone number; I gave it to him. He tried to say his goodbyes, but my friend A, fearing he’d leave without being suitably impressed by me, offered to buy him a beer. We reassured her he’d gotten my number, so she allowed him to leave. I returned to my apartment that night and stayed up for another hour emailing my sister about the cute guy I’d met that night even though I’d be seeing her in mere hours, and thus arrived in Nashville a few hours later, cross-eyed from lack of sleep.
*G told me later he’d been flirting with C and me. What I knew at the time that he didn’t was that C preferred tall African-American women. He had no chance with her, so it was good he thought I was cute, too.
Last Week was the 16 year anniversary of the day I met G Grod, who is now my husband. When I’m asked how we met, I usually respond, flippantly, that I picked him up in a bar. While this is technically true, and I fancy it amusing, it is not the whole picture, which I find makes for a pretty good origin story.
In the fall of 1995, I was recently single and unemployed, both of these by choice. After several years, I’d left a job in educational services to study religion. I’d also broken up with the man I’d been living with and engaged to. I was heartbroken, terribly lonely and overwhelmed by the rigors of grad school. Former co-workers invited me to a party at the 16th Street Bar and Grill in downtown Philadelphia. They promised to invite a good-looking pre-med student and set us up. I put on my favorite sweater and a slick of hopeful lip gloss.
At the bar, my friend had bad news. “He can’t make it,” she said, of the cute doctor-to-be. “He said he’d try to stop by later.” I’m sure my face fell. Then she gestured to the guy sitting next to her at the bar. “But this is G., and when you walked in he said ‘Who’s that?’ You should talk to him.”
I checked him out. Thick black hair. Big brown eyes. T-shirt, jeans and Chucks. Cute. I gathered up the shreds of my self-esteem, went up to him and asked if he had any quarters for the jukebox.
Who said “he who is not with me is against me”?
c. King Arthur in Excalibur
d. Hillary Clinton
e. Patrick Swayze in Road House
Over at this year’s Morning News Tournament of Books, there was much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands when Jennifer Egan’s Visit from the Goon Squad (one of my favorite books of last year) defeated Skippy Dies in the first round. In the comments of the previous day’s bout, a reader noted something called “silver medal syndrome,” in which the gold medal winner was a compromise that people could agree upon, where the silver winner was one that some loved passionately and others argued against. Thus the passion-inspiring runner-up is usually a better bet for greatness. I thought this made a lot of sense, and reminded me of the descriptions from this article on the history of choosing the Booker prize winner. I was reminded again when I read Chris Nashawatny’s piece in Entertainment Weekly on “The Most Overrated Best Picture Winners Ever,” which is not available online.
Here were some of the upsets: High Noon was edged out by The Greatest Show on Earth. (I recently watched High Noon, and can attest to its quality.) Giant was passed by for Around the World in 80 Days. Oliver! won in a year that 2001 and Rosemary’s Baby weren’t even nominated. Ordinary People trumped Raging Bull and Scorcese got burned again when Dances with Wolves won against Goodfellas. Forrest Gump beat Pulp Fiction. English Patient trounced Fargo. American Beauty won in 1999, a year packed with great films like Being John Malkovich, The Matrix, Magnolia, Boys Don’t Cry and Election. Crash beat Brokeback. I’d add that Hurt Locker beat Inglourious Basterds and this year The King’s Speech won out over Inception and The Social Network.
I’m sure Nashawatny’s critiques rubbed some people the wrong way, but there’s not an example here of a winner I’d rather see than any of the “losers”. In several cases, I think the loser has showed its merit by becoming a classic (e.g., High Noon) while the winner has faded into (deserved?) obscurity. What this means, though? So many more books and movies to check out, like Skippy Dies. I’d groan, but it’s a lovely problem to have.
Winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize, Howard Jacobson’s The Finkler Question is also one of the selections for this year’s Morning News Tournament of Books. What I remember most about the announcement of it’s winning the MB prize was that both the author and many others seemed surprised that it won. After reading this expose, “Tears, Tiffs and Triumphs“, about the judging process of the Booker over the years, I figure the judging is just slightly more than random, but usually a MB prize winner doesn’t suck. And The Finkler Question doesn’t.
The back of the book describes it as “a funny, furious, unflinching story of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and of the wisdom and humanity of maturity. The first adjective is “funny” and many of the blurbs praised its humor, wit and satire, yet the book is much more concerned with the endless complications of anti-Semitism and Israeli/Palestinian violence. There really is nothing funny about the latter, but Jacobson often does find humor in the former, as in the main character Julian Treslove’s weird fixation on the Judaism of his friends:
Before he met Finkler, Treslove had never met a Jew. Not knowingly at least. He supposed a Jew would be like the word Jew–small and dark and beetling. A secret person. But Finkler was almost orange in colour and spilled out of his clothes. He had extravagant features, a prominent jaw, long arms and big feet for which he had trouble finding wide enough shoes, even at fifteen. (Treslove noticed feet; his were dainty like a dancer’s.) What is more–and everything was more on Finkler–he had a towering manner that made him look taller than he actually was, and delivered verdicts on people and events with such assurance that he almost spat them out of his mouth. “Say it, don’t spray it,” other boys sometimes said to him, though they took their lives in their hands when they did. If this was what all Jews looked like, Treslove thought, then Finkler, which sounded like Sprinkler, was a better name for them than Jew. So that was what he called them privately–Finklers.(17)
A subtitle for the book might well have been: “Jewish Identity: It’s Complicated.” Jacobson does an exemplary job of showing, not just telling, how absurdly complicated it is, as well as reminding the reader that racism should never be tolerated, even as it’s so prevalent and ingrained that many wish to dismiss it as benign. This book might have been helpful for me 17 years ago, as I considered converting to Judaism, based largely on the simplistic portrait painted by the rabbi I was studying with. Once I learned that Judaism could be just as silly, awful, complicated and misguided as the religion I was raised in, converting didn’t have nearly the allure it once did. It’s a good book, in that it provoked me to think about the continuing insidious influence of racism. But enjoyable it wasn’t. I have a hard time thinking of anyone I’d recommend this book to.
Next: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
October is National Co-op Month. In this month’s Eastside Food Coop newsletter (which you can pick up for free when you visit!) I wrote about feeding a family of four for a week on a budget of $150. For those not in the area, I’m reprinting the menu below, and here are links to a meal plan, shopping list, recipes, and the receipt for the shopping trip to show I did keep it under $150.
This menu has three nights of cooking, two nights of takeout, one leftover night, and one breakfast-for-dinner night.
Every day has at least one gluten-free meal; the others can be adapted.
Except for the roast chicken, it’s a meatless menu. Vegetarians can substitute another takeout meal, and omnivores can substitute salmon or trout for the tofu in the sushi bowl, add leftover chicken to the pad thai, or supplement breakfasts with bacon. Keep in mind a little meat provides a lot of flavor. Treat the dish as the main item, and the meat or fish as a side with a protein punch.
Disclaimer: I’m a writer, not a nutritionist. For a scientifically balanced meal plan, or for special-diet restrictions, consult a professional or check out reputable sites like that of The Mayo Clinic.
Breakfast: Steel-cut oats and raisins
Lunch: Greek salad in pita, apple slices, cookies
Snack: Salsa and corn chips
Dinner: Tofu sushi bowl, edamame
Breakfast: whole-grain pancakes, apple slices
Lunch: cottage cheese, sunflower seeds and pear slices
Snack: Guacamole and corn chips
Dinner: Roast chicken, cous cous, frozen peas, brownie
Breakfast: Eggs, toasted multi-grain bread with butter and jam
Lunch: ALT: Avocado, lettuce and tomato sandwich in a whole-grain tortilla, apple slices
Snack: Trail mix
Dinner: Chickpea, Potato and Tomato stew, pita bread, brownie
Breakfast: Cereal with milk and raisins
Lunch: PBB & H: Peanut butter, banana and honey on whole-grain bread, pear slices, cookies
Snack: Cheese quesadilla
Dinner: Pad Thai, mango smoothie
Breakfast: Yogurt, granola, grated apple and sunflower seeds
Lunch: Hummos, grated carrot, sliced cucumber and olive in a tortilla
Snack: Sliced apples, honey-graham sticks and peanut-butter yogurt dip
Dinner: Take-and-Bake pizza, salad, brownie
Breakfast: Cereal with milk and raisins
Lunch: Peanut butter and jam on whole grain bread, sliced pear
Snack: Dried apricots and cheddar slices
Dinner: Leftovers, brownie
Breakfast: Whole-grain toast with peanut butter, milk
Lunch: Leftovers, apple slices, cookies
Snack: Kefir, popcorn with butter
Dinner: Whole-grain pancakes, peanut butter and banana smoothie
I don’t know about the rest of you, but my version of seasonal affective disorder happens four times a year, not just between fall and winter. Each shift in weather and schedule brings its own need for realignment and re-equilibration.
7yo Drake started 1st grade today, and I’ve got four (4!) different articles I’m working on. 4yo Guppy doesn’t start preschool till next week. I’m trying to calm things down myself. Today rather than having more coffee I made iced Evening in Missoula tea. The heat and humidity are certainly not helping. The switch from summer to fall is off to racing start; I hope things settle down soon.
Kenley Collins of Project Runway Season 5 arrested for assault. Cat, laptop, apples and water? It sounds like a Bravo TV challenge: attack your sleeping fiance with only the items at hand.
Bob Dylan annoys neighbors. Media retaliates with slew of headlines. My favorite: Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man! Fix your toilet!
Last night we had the good fortune to find a sitter who could stay late, so my husband G. Grod and I were able to take in Take-Up Productions noir double feature at The Heights of The Blue Dahlia and The Glass Key. Both star Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, with William Bendix in a scene-stealing supporting role.
The Blue Dahlia, from a screenplay by Raymond Chandler, has an excellent tagline: “Tamed by a brunette–framed by a blond–wanted by the police!” Ladd is a navy veteran who returns to an unfaithful wife. When she turns up dead, the police have many suspects, Ladd, Bendix and Lake among them. See the film’s trivia at imdb for the entertaining legend of Chandler’s writing process, and the connection between this film and the “Black Dahlia” scandal, later made into a book by James Ellroy and a film by Brian De Palma.
The Glass Key is based on a Dashiell Hammett novel of the same name. Ladd is the childhood friend of a powerful character with political aspirations. It wavers interestingly between their “bromance” and the triangle they have with Lake. Bendix plays an eager goon and an extended fight scene that’s simultaneously disturbing and entertaining. The film pulls its punch at the end with an incongruous happy ending, though one with some funny lines.
The Coen Brothers used Hammett’s Glass Key and Red Harvest as the basis for their excellent 1990 film Miller’s Crossing. Earlier, Red Harvest was the basis for Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, which was later remade as For a Fistful of Dollars, the first famous spaghetti western.
There’s one more film in this noir series, The Phantom Lady, on Monday 16 March 2009 at 7:30 p.m. at the Heights Theater. A Hitchcock series starts in April, and will be shown both at the Heights and The Riverview.