Archive for the 'General' Category

Four Seasons

Monday, August 30th, 2010

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.

In Praise of Female Nerds

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

At The American Prospect, (link from The Morning News) a celebration of female nerds* on television:

*correctly classified as nerds, not geeks, according to this classification, since they’re socially inept

nerd venn

Things That Made Me Laugh

Friday, March 20th, 2009

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!

“The Blue Dahlia” (1946) and “The Glass Key” (1942)

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

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.

A Few Quick Links

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Because my children are ignoring me and refusing to get dressed, I’m going to ignore them right back. So much for the high road.

The bracket for the Morning News 2009 Tournament of Books is up! Adjust your reading list priorities accordingly. (I’m reading City of Refuge now, which seems bootless, since it’s up against Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth.)

At the WSJ, a bunch of financial experts on what to do with your financial stimulus money. Link from Morning News.

At New York Magazine, Nate Silver statistically predicts the Oscar winners.

A List of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago will be live-blogging the Oscars.

On last night’s Top Chef, Finnish Stefan wore a T-shirt and hat emblazoned with “Suomi”. According to Wikipedia, Suomi means Finnish or Finland. One of the finalists commented that Fabio’s mohawk meant there had been one in every finale. Season four was Richard. Season Three was Dale. I don’t know who it was for the first two seasons.

On Colicchio’s blog at Bravo, he gives more information to the decisions from last night’s New Orleans finale part 1. It’s brief and insightful, plus divulges the technical term pro chefs use for other chefs’ food they admire.

Alone, but Not Lonely

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

At the Chronicle of Higher Ed, William Deresiewicz’s “The End of Solitude” details how the internet, Facebook et al. eat away at privacy:

So we live exclusively in relation to others, and what disappears from our lives is solitude. Technology is taking away our privacy and our concentration, but it is also taking away our ability to be alone. Though I shouldn’t say taking away. We are doing this to ourselves; we are discarding these riches as fast as we can.

This is a more subtle, but no less concerning aspect of tech-induced privacy loss than that discussed in a recent Wired article, which I linked to in this entry.

I never knew how much I needed quiet and solitude until I had two children. So when I do have it, as I did this afternoon, I seize it gratefully, and don’t for one minute feel lonely.

Scary as Fiction

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

I recently read and enjoyed Little Brother, a near-future young-adult technothriller by Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing. It’s also recommended at Mental Multivitamin in the most recent On the Nightstand entry. The Little Brother of the title is Marcus, a hacker kid in San Francisco. After he’s arrested and held on suspicion of terrorism, he finds Homeland Security has used people’s fear as justification to invade privacy. He begins acts of electronic rebellion to circumvent electronic surveillance. He is later disappointed when those who held and tortured him are released with minimal punishment.

Two recent pieces show how timely and relevant are the issues raised in Little Brother. This piece in Wired (link from ALoTT5MA), “I Am Here: One Man’s Experiment With the Location-Aware Lifestyle” by Mathew Honan, details how the GPS application of the iPhone can be manipulated:

I ran a little experiment. On a sunny Saturday, I spotted a woman in Golden Gate Park taking a photo with a 3G iPhone. Because iPhones embed geodata into photos that users upload to Flickr or Picasa, iPhone shots can be automatically placed on a map. At home I searched the Flickr map, and score–a shot from today. I clicked through to the user’s photostream and determined it was the woman I had seen earlier. After adjusting the settings so that only her shots appeared on the map, I saw a cluster of images in one location. Clicking on them revealed photos of an apartment interior–a bedroom, a kitchen, a filthy living room. Now I know where she lives.

In “Forgive Not,” a New York Times Op-Ed, Dahlia Lithwick recently decried the tendency to exonerate torturers because it’s painful to acknowledge complicity:

Indeed, the almost universal response to the recent bipartisan report issued by the Senate Armed Services Committee – finding former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and other high-ranking officials directly responsible for detainee abuse that clearly rose to the level of torture – has been a collective agreement that no one need be punished so long as we solemnly vow that such atrocities never happen again.

She argues that the torturers shouldn’t be above the law, or forgiven in the wave of hope brought in by a new administration:

I believe that if it becomes clear that laws were broken, or that war crimes were committed, a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate further. The Bush administration made its worst errors in judgment when it determined that the laws simply don’t apply to certain people. If we declare presumptively that there can be no justice for high-level government officials who acted illegally then we exhibit the same contempt for the rule of law.

If you’re interested or concerned about issues like these, read Little Brother if you haven’t, already. And see how quickly fiction has become science and history.

Neil Gaiman Manages Not to Swear

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Neil Gaiman, author of umpteen things, won the Newbery Award last week for The Graveyard Book, and had an amusing reaction to the notification call. (Link from Bookslut)

Gaiman, originally from England, lives just over the Minnesota border in Wisconsin, though he’s considered local to the Twin Cities. Minnesota author Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery in 2003 for The Tale of Despereaux, and a Newbery Honor for Because of Winn-Dixie in 2001.

I’ve said it before: Minnesota is a very good place to be a reader and a writer.

“Really, do you think that?”

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

At Bookforum, Mary Gaitskill, author of Veronica and the new story collection Don’t Cry, doesn’t like it when people to label her, or her stories. (Link from Bookslut)

Remember, Remember The Fifth of November

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

It’s Guy Fawkes Day, when Fawkes and others tried to blow up Parliament.

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I can think of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

Recommended reading: Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ V for Vendetta, and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. The excellent final issue, collected in Absolute Sandman v. 4 and “The Wake” includes a scene speculating who the author(s) of the verse might have been.

On an almost unrelated tangent, do any other Project Runway fans think that Season 4 Blayne’s catchphrase, “Holla-atcha, boy” is surprisingly similar to “Holloa, boys”?

Possible Epitaph

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Me, to friends, as I scattered chunks of cheddar cheese over my vanilla ice cream and apple pie:

I’m not sure this is a good idea, but I’m going to do it anyway.

That sentence covers a lot of my life. Though the cheddar cheese idea turned out OK, most other things I’ve said this about have not.

Please Stand By…

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

This blog is experiencing some difficulties. High summer is in high gear and I’ve been cooking fresh veggies, doing insane amounts of laundry, and getting Drake ready for preschool. Please forgive the lack of new posts, and especially how behind I am on responding to comments. I read and appreciate every one (that’s not spam).

I have been reading and watching movies. I saw Eastern Promises. Good performances that carried a not-that-original story and characters. Very violent, but interesting. I saw Mamma Mia, which was not a great film but still a lot of fun. It sent me back to my Abba Gold cd, rather than out to buy the soundtrack. Pierce Brosnan isn’t as bad as I’d been led to believe, but I prefer the originals. I finally made it through all four hours of Branagh’s Hamlet. I’ll have more to say, but I HATED the music. And I finished Zot! 1987 to 1991. It’s a great collection of a great series. I was sad all over again when I got to the end of Zot, Jenny, and everyone else’s stories.

I’m hoping that after the equinox the universe will settle down again. This mad frenzy at end of summer is really exhausting. I hope to be posting, replying, and commenting again soon.

The Interplay of Reading and Writing

Monday, August 4th, 2008

At the Guardian, Hilary Mantel on “Real Books in Imaginary Houses” (link from Pages Turned)

But I am intrigued by the divide between those people If who say “I haven’t time to read”, and those for whom reading is like breathing and who, though they may be caught up with all sorts of texts, always have a novel on the go. For some people, the consumption of stories is a barely conscious function that runs parallel to eating, sleeping, having sex and earning a living. How do you live life without stories - live in just a single narrative, and that one your own?

One of the things I’ve learned about myself after having two children, now 2 and 4, is that I need to read and write. If I don’t, I become cranky, anxious and depressed. So I’ve had to remake my life to carve out time for these things. I have to say no to things. I have to remind myself that I don’t need any more hobbies, thank you, I have more than I can manage right now.

And I supposed that’s the only way I can understand someone who says “I don’t have time to read.” S/he must have some other passion, talent or hobby that comes first. Likely one that I’d say, “Oh, I don’t have time for that.”

The High Anxiety of High Summer

Friday, August 1st, 2008

A friend of a friend once theorized that people’s lives get busy at the height of summer because we’re creatures of the earth. Whether we’re aware of it, we’re attuned to the passage of time from the summer solstice to the autumn equinox, when our ancestors would have been busy tending and harvesting summer crops, fighting off pests and weeds, and storing things away for winter. We no longer live a hunter/gatherer lifestyle, but I know very few people who have lazy grasshopper summers. Most people, myself included, are busy with real or metaphorical crops and weeds.

American Bombs in Vietnam, 30 Years Later

Friday, June 6th, 2008

Foreign Policy has a photo essay on the continued presence of American bombs in Laos. (Link from The Morning News.)

Mmm, Bacon

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

From the Foo Fighter’s tour rider at the Smoking Gun, via ALoTT5MA. It is, not surprisingly, very funny and worth a look:

Bacon. I call it “god’s currency.” Hell, if it could be breathed, I would.
Bacon in any form is great. Not as an entree, but just in general.

Have other Top Chef viewers noted that bacon is like a secret power? Include it (well) in a dish, and you will win. And be thanked, more than once, for using bacon.

No Surprise

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Your Personality is Very Rare (INFP)

Your personality type is dreamy, romantic, elegant, and expressive.

Only about 5% of all people have your personality, including 6% of all women and 4% of all men
You are Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving.

How Rare Is Your Personality?

Link from Pages Turned. SFP is the vile temptress who lured me to this quiz.

Be Smart; Feed People

Friday, December 7th, 2007

Think you’ve got a well-developed vocabulary? Check out Free Rice. Link from Bookslut. (I got a 42).

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

I am avalanched with many mundanities of life: sick kids, cold weather, household mishaps, etc. My entries and my replies are delayed, and I will get back to the blog as I can. I read all, and appreciate all your comments, even if I’m slow to reply!

Forgive Me For a Meme

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

My friend Thalia posted this meme. I normally avoid these, but the list was so bizarre and since she’s one of my favorite bookish friends, I wanted to post about it as conversation.

Bold means I’ve read it. Italics means I started it but didn’t finish. Crossed out means I hated it. TBR means I want to read, or re-read it.

Why I find this list bizarre and stupid: who picked the classics–Austen and Bronte but not Hemingway or Fitzgerald? And why multiples from Neil Gaiman and Neal Stephenson, but only two more recent ones by Atwood? There’s a smattering of “it” books up to a few years ago, but without rhyme or reason. Some I won’t bother reading. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is supposed to be boring and superficial. I very much enjoyed Zen and the Art of Archery instead.

What I’m proudest of having read: the completed novels of Austen, Don Quixote, Gulliver’s Travels, all just because I wanted to.

The Aeneid
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
American Gods
Anansi Boys-TBR
Angela’s Ashes : A Memoir
Angels & Demons
Anna Karenina-TBR
Atlas Shrugged
The Blind Assassin-TBR
Brave New World
The Brothers Karamazov
The Canterbury Tales
The Catcher in the Rye
A Clockwork Orange
Cloud Atlas
Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
A Confederacy of Dunces
The Confusion-TBR
The Corrections
The Count of Monte Cristo
Crime and Punishment
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
David Copperfield
Don Quixote
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Fountainhead
Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
The God of Small Things
The Grapes of Wrath
Gravity’s Rainbow
Great Expectations
Gulliver’s Travels
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
The Historian : A Novel
The Hobbit
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Iliad
In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences
The Inferno
Jane Eyre
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
The Kite Runner
Les Misérables
Life of Pi : A Novel
Love in the Time of Cholera-TBR
Madame Bovary-TBR
Mansfield Park
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Mists of Avalon
Moby Dick
Mrs. Dalloway
The Name of the Rose
Northanger Abbey
The Odyssey
Oliver Twist
On the Road
The Once and Future King
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Oryx and Crake : A Novel
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Poisonwood Bible : A Novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Pride and Prejudice
The Prince
Reading Lolita in Tehran : A Memoir in Books
The Satanic Verses
The Scarlet Letter
Sense and Sensibility
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Silmarillion
The Sound and the Fury
The Tale of Two Cities
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
The Three Musketeers
The Time Traveler’s Wife
To the Lighthouse
Treasure Island
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Vanity Fair
War and Peace-TBR
Watership Down
White Teeth

Wicked : The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
Wuthering Heights
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : An Inquiry Into Values