Marry Me

So, it's that time of year again. Though the year isn't over yet, I don't think I'll have time to see anymore movies before January 1st. I have seen 20 films that opened in 2007. I don't really like ranking movies since some of the decisions are difficult and I always feel as though I'll regret where some of the films end up in my list. But, without further ado, here is my list of films for 2007:

1. The Simpsons Movie what else would be #1? Fantastic!
2. Paris, Je T'aime even better than I had hoped, a wonderful film--all of the segments are great
3. Lars and the Real Girl very touching and done perfectly, a wonderful example of when all the parts (directing, writing, acting) come together to create a marvelous whole
4. Bender's Big Score though not released in theater, it is a superb culmination of the series and I can't wait for the other three DVDs
5. No Country for Old Men this would be higher on my list, though this year saw a lot of great film competition
6. Hot Fuzz I really wan't expecting much because of ignorance (I haven't seen Shaun of the Dead), and it blew me away
7. Charlie Wilson's War while Tom Hanks is spectacular, as usual, I really enjoyed this film almost solely because of Philip Seymour Hoffman (the fact that his character, both in personality and appearance, reminded me of John Roderick didn't hurt)
8. Live Free or Die Hard I had faith in Bruce Willis and the Die Hard series, but let's face it, with a title like that, I thought maybe it wouldn't be so great. I would say it's the best in the series, except that they're all this great
9. Stardust a very fun film that doesn't take itself seriously, but also doesn't make too much fun of itself
10. Waitress a wonderful and bittersweet film that almost makes me want to eat pie
11. The Darjeeling Limited not the best Wes Anderson film, but still a good film that, though it might sound cliched, really does take you on a journey as an audience as the characters' layers peel
12. Shoot 'Em Up a very fun movie that features some of the most creative ways to kill people
13. Ocean's Thirteen I did really enjoy the film, but it seems to have faded away quite a bit after viewing
14. Dan in Real Life perhaps this movie would be lower on the list, but Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche are enormously charming
15. 1408 though I was disappointed that Samuel L. Jackson didn't have a bigger part, this movie had more to it than I was expecting, it's premise is very intriguing, more so than I thought it would be
16. The Number 23 also an intriguing premise, though less so that I thought it would be
17. 28 Weeks Later I found this movie a bit frustrating, none of the plot would've happened if people hadn't been incredibly stupid, which I suppose is true of almost all films, but shouldn't there be a good reason to make a sequel to a really good first film?
18. Starter for Ten I was disappointed by this film since I do really really enjoy trivia, but James McAvoy has a very nice accent
19. Blades of Glory should've been funnier
20. Knocked Up this could possibly be in the last position of the list of movies I have seen period, and it's such a shame to see Paul Rudd in such an awful movie

There you have it. There are a lot of films that should be on this list that aren't. Perhaps one of these years I'll actually have the time and financial resources to see all the movies I'd like in the theater. And perhaps someday, seeing a movie in the theater will be a much better experience. I've been noticing quite a few chains making steps in this direction, either having late shows for those who are over 17 or catering exclusively to adults (with lots of disposable income, mind you). Here's hoping...


When I Was A Young Girl

I was telling Chris a story from work, and he suggested that I should share it here. One of my duties is to make sure that the bulletin boards in the three break rooms are up to date and clear of any inappropriate material, as well as to keep the break rooms themselves tidy. So, I was carrying out this task today and had the opportunity to do something fun, satisfying, and a bit controversial. The downstairs break room is notorious for leaving newspapers and coupons strewn about one of the tables. There is much to be thrown away from this particular break room. Today was no exception, and today featured a special item. There was a Bible sitting on the table. I checked the inside covers and flipped through the pages to make sure there wasn't a name inscribed, that this book belonged to someone who had forgotten here. Seeing no name, and seeing a couple of "good news" pamphlets stuck in various pages, I surmised that this was someone's attempts to spread the good word. So, I did my best to help that endeavor. I walked over to the trash can and dropped the book in, its weight compacting the various paper towels and other trash below it.

In other news, I have written a children's book (if anyone knows a publisher, I'm all ears), and am currently writing a second one.

In sad news, I am all out of Double Stuf Mint Oreos. They are manna from heaven. I already miss them.


"I'm Back Baby!"

Last Tuesday, the first of the four Futurama feature-length films was relased, and man, it is fantastic! The revamped theme song is addictive and is quickly becoming my favorite song as of late. Bender's Big Score has a really fascinating plot, ties together characters, events, and themes from the whole series, and is very entertaining. Seeing old story lines completed or enhanced was very satisfying, and like the best episodes of Futurama, the movie is equally hilarious and bittersweet. The only problem is that now I'm growing very impatient for the remaining three films.
In other news, since I've started work at this office, I've had a picture of Colin Meloy as my wallpaper. For my birthday, my boss gave me a picture frame, so now I have a picture of me and Chris sitting on my desk. After the amazing events of October 29th, I have the picture of me and Colin Meloy on stage as my wallpaper. This has caused some of my co-workers to come to two conclusions. 1. Colin Meloy is my boyfriend and 2. I play guitar. I do not object to either of these, but, people are inevitably disappointed when I explain that neither of these things are true and wear an expression much like the one that occurs when I explain why I wear a flower behind my right ear everyday. Maybe I should start using a story about my Jewish grandmother using her last moments to plant roses at Auschwitz when people ask me why I wear a flower.
I finished reading both The Time Machine and A Family Daughter. Both were highly enjoyable, though Maile Meloy wins in this round. I did like H.G. Wells' dystopia, but I found the Time Traveller, like Robinson Crusoe, to be quite an idiot, and therefore frustrating. A Family Daughter has continued the recent tradition, for me, of enjoying a book despite not enjoying any of the characters. There was no one in Meloy's novel that I really found myself attached to. In her previous book that features most of the same people, Liars and Saints, I was on the border of not liking them, but this one tipped the scale. I realize that there's more to a novel than simply the characters, but it's still a little unnerving when you're not really devoted to any of the personalities and still think the work is great (I'm looking at you Mansfield Park). Part of me really feels that I should re-read Liars and Saints now, since the former book is the novel that the main character of A Family Daughter has written, but I also would really like to move on to another universe now. I think it shall be The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski, but I have so many books sitting on my shelves clamoring to be read. I'm hoping it won't take me too long to get through The Fifty Year Sword, since it will be a dense and confusing read, it isn't very lengthy. Suggestions for what to read after that? I recently bought The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which is a heavy contender. At work, though, I have just started George Eliot's Middlemarch, so I should be good for reading at work for quite some time now.



Chris and I had perhaps one of the strangest concert-going experiences ever this past Saturday. We went to see My Brightest Diamond in Grand Rapids and were expecting to see a really great concert that would follow the basic concert-rules, namely, that we would arrive early to get a spot in the front of the line and perhaps meet some of the musicians, then stand in a General Admission floorspace in front of the stage and rock out with a bunch of other twenty-somethings. How wrong we were. First, we arrived in Grand Rapids (a place which we'd both only been once before to visit one of Chris' colleagues and eat meat). We went to see said colleague and his brand new baby. The baby was about 7 weeks old, which is the youngest baby I've ever seen/met, and I have to say, I prefer my babies a little older (so that there's at least a little bit of interaction between you and the infant). We arrived at the "theater" around 4pm for an 8pm show and were the first attendees there. The "theater" was the Ladies' Literary Club, which is a historic landmark that used to be a meeting place for literary ladies and is now a small auditorium. From the outside, though, it still looks like a house rather than a host for music acts. So we waited on the front steps. After waiting there a little while, a van pulls up and a man with pink pants comes bounding up the steps asking us if this is the place. Chris and I tell him it is and then wonder to ourselves if this guy is Tim Fite (the opening act that neither of us knew anything about). It turns out yes, it is. A couple of hours later, three other people show up to wait, though they are there to see Tim Fite (they were under the assumption that he was the headliner and had never heard of My Brightest Diamond, and they are most likely high). By this time, it's getting pretty close to the time when doors will be opening and there are five people in line for this show. Will this be the whole audience? It's beginning to seem mighty strange. A little while later, a group of college girls (the show is being sponsored by Calvin College) and ask us if they can go in. We tell them that the doors will open at 7:30pm. They tell us that they're ushers. I restrain from asking them why they asked us if they could go in if they're working there while at the same time thinking that if the crowd (which may or may not be comin) gets out of hand, what are these tiny little girls going to do? Then, a little later, a van shows up and out come a handful of Calvin College students. So now, there's a total of about ten people here to see the show. Finally, the doors open and we enter the Ladies' Literary Club. Chris and I go straight to the front row and find the middle two seats. The people behind us? They get as close as the third row. This trend continues as others file in the small auditorium. There are even several people who get as close as the second row, then decide that it's too close and move back! Why is the front row too close? We had no idea and will remain confused about this for a very long time.
Anyway, now the show starts with Tim Fite. It's a really interesting act, and while Chris and I were nervous about this guy, all our fears were put to rest. He is a great performer who incorporates video into his show and interacts with the audience very well. At one point, he came into the audience to grab one guy's hat, my scarf, and another guy's glasses to wear up onstage while he finished his song. He also played mine and Chris' heads like a turntable. He also has an interesting mixture of genres, including Southern Gothic bluegrass/folk, pop, and political hip hop. I recommend checking him out. Around 9pm, My Brightest Diamond took the stage and this is where the concert-going experience hits the apex of strangeness. Chris and I stood at the edge of the stage, as we would for any other show, only we were the only ones. There was My Brightest Diamond, then us standing there, then a good three to four feet of floor, then the front row of seats, then everyone else, who remained seated and silent. Chris and I sang along, but I had to mouth along to some songs since it was so quiet in the auditorium. And of course we rocked out, but we were dancing in front of a whole auditorium. It felt very weird and I much prefer being crammed into a tiny space in front of the stage, surrounded by pushy and sweaty teenagers to this experience of being the only ones up by the stage. The last song was "Freak Out" and here people came up to jump around, but it was only at this point that we were joined by any audience members at all. So, a really great show (including covers of Roy Orbison, Edith Piaf, and Nina Simone), but a really odd occurrence.
After the show, we went up to the merchandise table to buy one of Tim Fite's albums, and he gave us a poster he designed for the tour, as well as two postcards he also designed along with the CD. He was terribly shy and a bit awkward, which was interesting since his stage persona was quite the opposite. He signed our poster and then Shara Worden came out to sign it as well. We had met Shara outside of the theater in Champaign when she was opening for the Decemberists last April and she remembered us. We ended up talking to her for a good twenty minutes or so about an assortment of things, including the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who she is distantly related to (!). We then made the hour-long drive back, still confused about what just happened.


Rock A Little

Lars and the Real Girl, which we saw at a mainstream movie theater in Lansing (which is both great and very unfortunate, is in contention to be one of the best movies of 2007. While it was nice to not have to drive an hour away to see the film (which we had to do to see The Darjeeling Limited and then were kind of screwed out of seeing the short film Hotel Chevalier), seeing it with members of the Lansing community proved difficult. There were a couple of groups of people there (one consisting of pre-teen girls, who I'm guessing still have their copy of The Notebook in their DVD players) who did not understand what this movie was. Like the films of Wes Anderson, Lars and the Real Girl is hard to classify genre-wise and ends up being called a comedy. Some of our fellow audience members clung to that tag and laughed throughout the film, even after it became obvious that this movie isn't a gimmick and doesn't have a schtick. While thoughtful movie-goers were pulled into the story and humanity of this carefully-put together, delicate, deeply compassionate, and magnanimous movie, others were still caught on the one-line premise: a man dates a doll. Everything about this movie was wonderful--directing, writing, and acting (from the whole cast). What's even more wonderful is that it is a jumping-off point for a great post-movie conversation. One is left ruminating over many questions, which is not to say that the film doesn't leave one satisfied--it very much does. I would suggest running out to see this one, but maybe it's best left viewed without the kids who got lost on their way to go see The Game Plan.


The Chimbley Sweep

The Decemberists Long/Short of it Tour 2007
Originally uploaded by Nicolemc99

This is proof that it actually happened, though I'm still reeling. If anyone finds reviews of the two shows, pictures, video, etc., please let me know. I've been scouring the web but haven't found too much coverage so far.

In sadder news, it turns out we were really lucky, as all the dates of the tour after Chicago have been cancelled. Get well ill Decemberist!


I Was Meant For the Stage

Holy shit!!! I had quite the eventful weekend. On Friday, Chris and I went to a department Halloween party with a dress-up-like-a-game theme. I decided to go as the game Eat, Fuck, Or Kill, which consisted of three baby dolls--one tied around my waist, one on a platter with some parsley, and one hanging from a noose. It was pretty fantastic (if I do say so myself), only no one at the party had heard of the game. Before we even arrived, though, Chris and I accidentally locked ourselves out of our apartment and had to call a locksmith to let us in. This was bad thing #2 in the last couple of weeks, the first being that I dropped my ipod into a clean toilet bowl and will now have to send it in to hopefully be repaired or buy a new one. But, I thought that maybe these were actually good luck charms for the Decemberists' shows this past weekend. You see, the last time I saw the band, a very bad thing happened the night before when Chris and I were stuck in the city with my car that wouldn't start (and then it was a bit damaged from the towing). All was forgotten, though, when before the concert, while waiting in line, I talked to Colin Meloy and he recognized me!!! So I crossed my fingers that perhaps this too was some sort of karma.

Indeed it was. We arrived at the Vic Theatre at about 11:30am on Sunday. One girl was in line (who I had waited in line all day with last April when the band played at the Riviera Theatre). One of the guys working with the merchandise asked us about the deal where if you bought a two-day pass, you received a poster and needed to photocopy what the two-day pass tickets looked like. So, I volunteered (after he said I could accompany him on this task). Turns out, he photocopied the tickets in the Decemberists' dressing room, so I was standing in the hallway right outside of their door. Nate was talking on his phone right next to me, and when he was finished with his conversation, he introduced himself to me (meaning that I have now met all five Decemberists). And I could see Jenny and Colin on the couch talking and Colin eating a sandwich. Back outside, the band soon came out to walk around the area and I had my chance to ask Colin my questions--about Jane Eyre's influence on "The Island" and about how to pronounce his sister's name (turns out I'm an idiot and have been mispronouncing it all this time). He told me that Jane Eyre had nothing to do with his song (but said "good digging!"), that there was a bit of James Joyce (parallax). So I was pretty happy that I had a chance to complete what I had set out to do.

The show was fantastic!! It was really great to see the opening of the tour as they were still working out how they were going to do everything and seemed to be in a mood for spontaneity. Colin had his shirt sleeves rolled up and on his inner right forearm, just below the elbow, there was a tattoo of a ship. I called out that I liked his tattoo and he looked at me and said thank you, and then rolled up his sleeve a bit more. I can't be absolutely certain, but I'm pretty sure he made eye contact with me several times in the show, and he came out to the edge of the stage near us several times as well. The show was supposed to be over at 9:45pm, since there's a 10pm curfew (all ages show), and the band was warned that they were going over at one point, but they wouldn't cut the night short (it wouldn't be the Long Of It if it was cut short). They played until about ten after 10pm, including an almost ridiculously long cover of Pink Floyd's "Echoes". After the concert was over, John, Chris, and I decided to hang out by the stage door to see if the band would be frequenting any local bars. I also wanted to tell Colin that when he drums (during The Tain), he looks a bit like Mick Fleetwood with his expressions. We had to wait a bit (a firetruck and ambulance pulled up while we were waiting--it seems that Nate hit his head and was being checked to make sure he was alright), but eventually they all came out and signed autographs. I was last in the little semi-circle of people, and I was busy forumlating my comment, apparently too busy to hear him say to me, "Hello, it's good to see you again." (!!!!!) I told him my observation, and he was very happy about it (Fleetwood Mac is one of the biggest influences for the band, according to some interviews). He told me it was a "high compliment." Then they were whisked off by a van and I was left giddy and incredibly sore.

But that's not all. We arrived at the theatre around 11:30am on Monday as well. There was no band-meeting before the show this time, but it was more than made up for. The set list for this show was highly discussed during the day of waiting--which short songs would they play? Would it be all upbeat, or would they mix it up? It turns out that they played a bit of everything and mostly things that aren't usually played. The set began with the first five of the six songs, in order, from the 5 Songs EP. The rest of the set was a mix of the peppier and the less so (i.e. "Eli, the Barrow Boy"). They ended the encore with "After the Bombs" and started the encore with "A Cautionary Song" which featured Chris and John reenacting the St. Valentine's Day Massacre (and the front row was able to sit on the stage at this point to make room for the reenacting). But, the two absolute highlights (of the night and of my life up til this point, really) came with the performances of "Culling of the Fold" and "The Chimbley Sweep." I was hoping that they would play "Culling of the Fold" and hoping that I would be one of the audience members who come face to face with Colin during this song. He did his usual round of audience interaction, and then kind of fell into the crowd a bit, right on top of Chris. Towards the end of the song, he came back, and touched my cheek as he finished singing!!! He then went to stand on an amp in front of the drum set and jump around a bit while the band was ending the song, and ended up falling into John and the drum set a bit. By this point, I was already on cloud nine, but it wasn't over yet. During the instrumental break on "The Chimbley Sweep," Colin and Chris had their guitar riff-off, but in the middle of it, Colin walked over towards me. I thought he was just going to play near the crowd as usual, but instead, he held his hand out to me and pulled me up onstage!!!!!!!! Then, he gave me his guitar and pick and then he went into the audience to play the role of a fan. It was an odd mixture of extreme excitement and a bit of terror as I can't play guitar, not even a little bit (and it was a bit difficult to try as the guitar was hanging pretty low on me, given that I'm smaller than Colin Meloy). I attempted to play at least a scale or strum a chord that I knew, but there was a capo about halfway down the neck which was a bit hindering for me and I could barely hear any sound that I was making. I tried my best to play the rock star, but I was shaking quite a bit. I tried walking around and high-fiving the audience, but I was a little afraid that I would trip over all the wires onstage and mostly stayed put. At some point (I didn't really notice that much of what was going on aorund me), Chris and pulled up another audience member to play his guitar. In the meantime, Colin was acting the groupie, shouting to John that he loved him and jumping around. Eventually, he came back onstage and I gave him his guitar back, shook hands, and then he hugged me and I joined the audience again. So, aside feeling like a bit of a schmuck for not actually knowing how to play, it was fucking phenomenal. I'm still not entirely sure that this actually happened to me, and everytime I picture Colin holding his hand out, I giggle like a school girl. This truly was the craziest thing that's ever happened to me.

We waited outside the stage door again, mostly so I could apologize for my lack of talent and promote myself by telling him I could play trumpet (maybe they could use me on this tour for "The Sporting Life"?), but Colin went right into the van and it drove off. Oh well. I think I can make due with only having the experience of playing onstage with the Decemberists. Holy fuck!!!!!!!!!


Wonder Boys

I have finished reading Jane Eyre. It seemed to me to end a bit abruptly, but it was a pretty good read, I'll say. Rochester is a bit of a douche bag, though not nearly as much as St. John. It tends to drag a bit, though I did really like the first part of the novel, before Jane grew up. I enjoyed Charlotte Bronte's writing--she has a very poetic style. I don't know that I really have that much to say (write) about it though. I've been reading a few academic articles about it, but after that I'm not sure what I want to read at work next. This is where you come in, dear readers. Please help me decide what to set upon next by voting. Here are some options.
Reading at work:

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

The Sea-Gull by Anton Chekhov

anything by Charles Dickens

Middlemarch by George Eliot

something by Henry James

Ulysses by James Joyce

something by Edgar Allan Poe

anything by Mark Twain

anything by Jules Verne

something by Edith Wharton

something by Virginia Woolf

Stay tuned to vote on what I should read next in the at-home category!


Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

Good news everyone (besides the Bible)! For the past week or so, I've noticed a contentedness blossoming in my life. I'm getting more organized and confident with my job, as well as my reading progress at said job. I bought a swim suit and will be swimming every other day, which helps the whole healthy-in-the-body bit. Most importantly, I've had better and better thoughts recently. What I'm really happy about is that I am content and not ecstatic. This is very important to me, as the former more or less equals healthfulness and the latter not as much. It feels almost as if I'm starting over, which is pretty nice. I am becoming better at relaxing and maintaining a laid-backness throughtout each day. While before I might imagine myself somewhere or doing something else if I didn't particularly like where I was or what I was doing, I am now just imagining a happy place/thought. The difference is that now, it's a more relaxed imagining--instead of thinking about being somewhere else physically, I find it works better if I picture the place mentally and leave it at that, without the extra work of making it tangible or realistic (if that makes sense). I'm trying to be more patient with people, especially when I'm driving (though I don't think that one will work so well until I get out of this state--no wonder they don't make cars here anymore, they don't know how to operate them). Also, I'm trying to be productive, but at the same time not worry about being productive so much. Basically, I'm trying and somewhat succeeding at worrying less overall--which is a great improvement for me. I think the only place I am less successful with this strategy is in the financial department. So, if you have a lot of extra cash that has been burdening you as of late, please feel free to send it my way.

Post to come: the TV season so far (idea stolen from John)


Everything In Its Right Place

Happy Belated Birthday John!!!

In other news, I have become greatly worried about the current and future state of House. Last night's episode (spoiler alert!!!! Oh No!!!!) featured House acting like a room full of writers have succumbed to fatigue/writer's block/absence of good ideas. I was afraid when I saw the preview for last night's episode last week. Surely they won't have their star character act completely out of character, surely a life long atheist and superb doctor won't act this naively , surely they won't throw all of the characterization they've provided the past few years in one fell swoop. I can accept him sticking a knife into an outlet in order to prove someone wrong (beyond a doubt, or at least as much as that is possible), to shut down the inevitable comment of "you've never been there," but now the preview for next week makes me worry again. Surely they're not going to bring the supernatural into this show. Why are the writer's obsessed with his atheism and continually provide him with inferior foils espousing Christianity? Can't there be an escape from the overabundance of the bad side of religion in our culture right now (I'm looking at you people who don't "believe" in evolution)? Hopefully this will just be a case of networks providing horribly inaccurate previews for their programs (I'm looking at you ER trailers). And another thing...I don't like what the writers are doing with this new blonde chick. Okay, so she's the "female House," only it doesn't work. I get the point that men get away with being sarcastic/arrogant/condescending/aggressive/etc. much more than women do, but that's not what's happening here. The reason House is likable is that he's exceptional and can back up all of his arrogance and everything else and then some. This woman is not exceptional and I'm tired of hating all the female team members (though I do like the woman who correctly diagnosed the patient this past week). So, hopefully I'll be able to continue watching House. If they fuck up next week, I won't be able to watch and then I'll be very sad and mourn my loss for quite some time. Sigh.



The Sporting Life

Happy Birthday Colin and Carson!!!!!

In other news, I've decided that East Lansing law enforcement is wretched. On the first day of my job up here, more than a month ago, I noticed a yellow light and went through the intersection because I wasn't far enough way when the light changed to stop. I was then pulled over by a motorcycle cop who gave me a $175 ticket. Feeling that this was utter bullshit, I contested the ticket this past Wednesday. To no avail. The judge deemed that I was responsible and I was relieved of quite a chunk of my not-so-ample finances. I figured I would lose if the cop showed up (which he did), but I thought I might have a bit of a chance. I didn't realize that the court and the police headuquarters are in the SAME FUCKING BUILDING! Fuckers. So I'm stuck driving every day in a town where the police have nothing better to do than ticket drivers who commit a perceived offense. My only consolation is that I added to the number of tickets issued by this particular police officer that are contested (I'm thinking that list is quite long), and that maybe someone will take him aside and tell him not to be such a douchebag. Other than the ridiculous police, the roads and drivers in this city/state are starting to wear on my nerves. This is how they drive around here:
1. 5-10 miles below the posted speed limit
2. 30-40mph on the on-ramp for the highway (when the ramp is a straighaway)
3. cluster in one lane (there is often two cars in the left lane and fifteen in the right, even though none of those fifteen plan on making a right turn)
4. stop with a car space or two distance between them and the car in front of them at a stoplight
5. block an intersection when there's a back-up in the lane instead of stopping at the light
6. stop (or slow to a crawl) while on a road for no apparent reason
7. wait a minimum of 5 seconds before proceeding when they get a green light (the same goes for making a left turn)
8. other things that annoy me and impede my passage

Though it's not all bad up here. Last weekend, a friend of Chris accompanied us to Ann Arbor and on the way back, we drove through a suburb called Chelsea that seemed very nice. The other day I learned that Chelsea is home to none other than Jeff Daniels! Perhaps I will meet him someday.

One last thing--Chris and I watched the Office last night and are both hoping that it does not continue to dwell in over-the-top land for any other episode this season.


Paris Is Burning

So, having free time at work means that I have been catching up on my news, and when I say news, I mean headlines on MSN's site (which is the homepage that is set on the computers here). Most of the things I read, then, are strange items of news or celebrity gossip (I have become intimately familiar with all of Britney's travails as of late). Some interesting things I learned today: a pet bunny was stolen from a preschool room in protest of a circus that was in town. A paraphrase from one of the preschool's attendees, "Our bunny was stoled. I'm sad." More bizarre than that, a man in North Carolina bought a smoker at an auction. The items at the auction were culled from abandoned items at a storage silo. He got home, opened up the smoker, and found, wrapped in paper, a human leg, severed a couple of inches above the knee. Did a loan shark leave it there after collecting it from a client? Perhaps the Russian mob was involved (though from what Without A Trace tells me, they're more likely to go after fingers)? A serial killer? Nope, something less exciting, but way more fun--police called the woman who the smoker had belonged to and she told them that her son had been in a plane crash, had his leg amputated, and kept it for "religious reasons." So now, the son is going to drive to North Carolina to pick up his leg. You'd think he'd be a little more careful about hanging on to that limb. In other leg-related news, a man smuggled a couple of exotic iguanas into the country via a compartment he had hollowed out of his prosthetic leg. I like the idea of hiding things in a prosthetic limb, though I think I would use it for less illegal and less alive things.

Soon, I will e-mail Oliver Sacks. I'm pretty excited. I am almost finished with his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and found that in one of his cases, a woman who is "simple" is quite a poet and described her grandmother's death as the woman going to her "long home." Sacks was impressed by this and wondered if that was an original phrase. While reading Jane Eyre, I came across that phrase (uttered by Helen). Apparently, the simple lady liked to have books read to her, so maybe that is where she picked it up. Anyway, I think it's worth a shot to e-mail Sacks about it. So, it seems I'm getting quite some mileage out of this Jane Eyre book, though it's dragging a bit for me now. Hopefully some fun things will start happening. I read some analyses of her drawings online last week which contained some spoilers--so I know I have some strange things to look forward to.

Chris and I have moved about twenty feet or so from where we lived. It seems to have worked out really well. We have a lot more space now (so there's plenty of room for anyone who wants to visit...hint hint) and I think overall, this apartment is better. In other Chris related news, we will be seeing My Brightest Diamond in Grand Rapids, MI on November 10th (it's a Saturday). Tickets are only $10 and My Brightest Diamond is really really good, especially live. She/They will also be in Chicago the next night (at the Lakeshore Theater), but if you go to that show, you won't have the pleasure of our company.


The Island

I have been employed in Michigan now for about five weeks now. I'm pretty sure that I like my job, although I don't think I'll ever really grow accustomed to this whole 9 to 5 real world deal. The good thing about the job I have is that while I am somtimes busy with easy office tasks, I have quite a bit of time where I don't have to do anything and have relative freedom to do what I want. My time is divided between my cubicle and covering at the front desk for the receptionist. When I'm in the front, I can openly read, which is very nice and allows me to progress through my Idiot's Guide to Music Theory quite nicely. When I'm at my desk, I think that I have to pretend that I'm occupied with work-related tasks, which means I make abundant use of the internet and all its glorious offerings. I have been making use of one of those offerings in particular: readprint.com--a website containing free texts. So far, I have read 1984 and Animal Farm. Currently, I am reading Jane Eyre. I enjoy it so far, though I'm only on chapter 13 and have only just been introduced to Rochester (who seems like a douche). This chapter has made me excited and impatient for the end of October when I will hopefully have the chance to converse with a certain Mr. Colin Meloy. Jane has just brought her drawings to Rochester for examination and has described the first of said drawings. This is an image of a sinking ship with a cormorant atop the mast holding a bracelet in its beak, which belonged to the drowned woman whose arm is visible as she sinks into the sea. I am excited because I plan on asking Colin Meloy whether or not Jane Eyre (like The Tempest) influenced the lyrics to The Island. I'm very excited about this for two reasons: 1) I find connections between media terribly interesting and b) perhaps this question will impress Mister Meloy and will lead to a great friendship which will span the ages--yes, your children will hear all the wonderous details of the solidarity between Colin and Jill. Here's hoping...

Also, Chris and I will be moving...details to come after this weekend.


Song for Jedi

So I exercised a bit today at the new gym I joined. Hopefully this is the beginning of a regular happening. And as I was driving home, I was thinking about something. Therefore, I am blogging about it. My question to you, dear readers, concerns habits of thinking. How long will it take until the thoughts that I want to have become the thoughts that I actually have. Case in point, because I am a female cliche, I have body image issues. Recently, I have noticed that my boobs have become smaller. And of course there are always fluctuations in breast size, but it seems to me that there's been a pretty significant, well okay, not really significant, but....noticeable reduction. And I know I shouldn't let that bother me. And I know that size isn't as important as quality, i.e. it's better to have smaller nice, firm boobs than sloppy sagging pieces of crap, but it still does bother me. And it's the same with any part of my body that I dislike or am disappointed in. I've often had this question and it has been my number one skepticism of therapy, self-help, etc. Do these issues and/or problems ever really get fixed. And of course, this is a question that concerns many more issues than body image, but because I am a stereotype surrounded by banality wrapped inside triteness, this is the main problem I have. Will I ever naturally and completely organically be okay with my appearance? Can one really derail or even detour trains of thought?


Hyacinth Girl

The job I have doesn't involve much work, from what I can tell. They pretty much leave me alone and I have maybe 8 tasks to do each day. My day is broken up by covering the front desk several times for the receptionist's breaks. So, to fill my days (and to look like I'm doing work so I won't be disturbed), I have been reading books online (one so far, so more like a book online). I have just completed 1984. I've told myself that I'll spend my time away from academia catching up on things I should have read a long time ago, or at least trying to do that. I did enjoy reading 1984, though I didn't know how much of a downer the end is going in. I enjoyed it and got caught up in it, etc., but I think my anxiousness to continue reading was almost as much because I didn't have anything else to do as much as it was to get back to the story. One very strange thing did happned, though...

I have a tendency to get lost in media sometimes--in books, films, and music mostly. This doesn't happen all the time, but frequently enough so that I'm a bit used to it, even though it's a very surreal sensation. Most of the time, I disconnect from reality and the thoughts in my head seem more real than the everyday normalcy that's going on around me. This usually lasts for a couple of hours or so, and I usually spend some time alone and then it dissipates. Today, as I was reading the final chapters of Orwell's dystopia, this occurrence happened and took on a new level. I suddenly thought about something that I may or may not have been dreaming about the past couple of days. It may have been a thought that ran through my head while I've been reading for the past week or it may have been purely from a dream. I became dizzy and nauseous and had to hold the edge of the desk in front of me to steady myself. My thoughts moved slowly and I kept glimpsing the edges of them, trying to remember what they were and where they were from. It was a very odd feeling and I don't think I'm describing it very accurately. I felt some physical pain along with the dizziness and nausea. And now, two and a half hours away from the incident, I can remember it and not remember it at the same time. It was very odd.

But, now I have to go cover a break and decide what I want to read next.


Happiness with less of the obsession bits

I've been spending a lot of my time the past two days watching three music videos for Feist songs. They are really really fantastic.

So, the various theories about music and how the right note, chord, etc. can produce magic, yadda, yadda, yadda...the "oh-wo-oh" part of the song (that usually involves hand clapping) automatically makes me happy--very, very happy. This video produces contentment, which is better than euphoria. Anything involving musicals or musical sensibilites (which means all three of these videos)? I'm in! The choreography is wonderful, the colors are vibrant and perfect. And it suits the song wonderfully.

This version was directed by Patrick Daughters, and while I'm usually not one to throw around certain words, the man is a fucking genius. This is the guy who brought you such spectacular videos as "Maps," "Title and Registration," "Gold Lion," and the third Feist video featured here. Wonderful, wonderful work. There's a lot in this video to remind me of Spike Jonze, "It's Oh So Quiet" and his Adidas commercial.

My Moon My Man
Another one by Patrick Daughters that is absolutely amazing. I really like her style of dance, and the way she moves in this video reminds me of Christopher Walken's style. The mood, lighting, and choreography are utterly fantastic, especially with the cutting of the shots in the music interlude timed to the cymbals. The movement in this video is captured perfectly.



The Plan:
Drive to Chicago after work on Tuesday with Chris, go to the Logan Square Auditorium and stand in line to see Laura Veirs open for Mirah. Maybe Colin Meloy will be there. Maybe Laura Veirs will go to the Decemberists show the next day. Maybe I can do something to navigate my way around the reserved-for-friends-of-the-park seats and sit in front. After the show, spend the night at a friend's pad and then arrive at Millenium Park at 7am on Wednesday to see the stage being set-up and soundcheck, possibly chat/hang around a Decemberist or two, or five.

The Outcome:
Chris and I arrived at the Auditorium around 7pm or so, and the only people in line in front of us was a group of about four or five people. Laura Veirs came out of the building briefly to return an iron she borrowed from someone in this group. We were right in the front for the show, which was really good except that a lot of the audience was talking throughout her set and the acoustics in the place made the chatter especially noisy and bothersome. Chris got the setlist, we both got an autograph (she signed the collection of sestinas, Jim and Dave Defeat the Masked Man, I brought with me, thus continuing my tradition of having musicians sign books), and we got to talk with her a little bit, but she seems pretty shy so that we asked her a question, she'd answer, but there was never an opportunity for any kind of conversation. Mirah's set began, and while I have recently downloaded some of her music and like it, I wasn't completely interested in her show, both because I'd already seen what I'd come to see and because by that point I was feeling a bit blue. After the show, we go out to my car and are about to give the friend and his girlfriend a ride, when my car doesn't start. It's not that it struggles to start, it's that it never gets to the point of turning the engine at all. Nothing. So, the friend and girlfriend left to take public transportation and Chris and I prepared for a fun evening. By this point the feeling blue had reached its head and it's a good thing Chris was there, otherwise I may have destroyed a bit of self and/or property before doing anything productive about the situation. Because of AAA, we were able to get a free tow back to Dekalb, but, because of AAA, we had to wait almost two hours for this to happen. The tow truck driver pulled up, hooked my car up to the truck, got back in his cab, and stared at us through his sideview mirror. We got in and prepared for a long drive. The tow truck driver, let's call him Patty McShitty, got a little better on the highway when he started talking and being somewhat congenial. We learned that he'd been working for the past 36 or so hours, meaning he had to periodically roll down the window to keep himself awake. We finally get to Dekalb and to the parking lot behind my apartment building around 3:30am, and all is seemingly going well, or as well as it could be going. But, of course, things can always get worse. Patty McShitty released my car in the row of parking spots that neighbors the parking lot of the apartment building in back of mine. There is a small bit of grass that slopes down into that lot, and on this bit of grass are some electrical boxes. Having not been towed that often and having no instructions given from Patty McShitty when he picked us up, I had left my car in neutral. So, the car was released, it proceeded to roll down the small hill, scrape by a couple of the boxes, and nearly miss the Audi that was parked in the other apartment building's lot. Patty McShitty got my car back up and into the lot it was supposed to be in and I saw that while there was some damage cause, luckily, it was minimal. Then, Patty McShitty left. We did not tip him a fucking penny. He was a shitty tow truck driver.

It was not looking good for the Wednesday plan. However, Wednesday did turn out better than I could've ever reasonably expected (before or after the shenanigans of Tuesday night). We went as a group of four, had a fun ride, parked in the most confusing parking garage I've ever been in, got a good spot in line, and didn't have to wait that long before getting seats. We ended up sitting in what I think was the best place we had access to in the venue, and while there were some annoyances (old people who hold up their umbrellas at almost arm's length for some unknown reason, idiots behind us who didn't know they were at a rock concert), it was a spectacular show. Everything sounded great, the set list was awesome, and it didn't ever rain beyond drizzling. There was also a really great security guy who made sure that everything was awesome. The highlight, though, and a highlight that may not have happened had it not been for the change of plan: talking to Colin Meloy!!!! Shortly before the line was let in to the seating area, I spotted Mr. Meloy walking about ten feet away toward the park. I was torn between not wanting to harass him and wanting to talk to him, and I followed him a bit. There was someone else who saw him and followed to talk and get a picture. I took the picture for him, though when I was holding the camera up, I noticed how much I was shaking. Colin recognized me (!!!!!) and I told him how I was reading The Mysterious Benedict Society and how much I enjoyed the book and its illustrations (done by Carson Ellis, his girlfriend). And then he walked around the park, and I clicked my heels while walking back to the line. It was a wonderful day. Though the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, sometimes it's really for the best.


I've been thinking about it for a while now, and I've decided to edit my harem (the inappropriately-titled group of male celebrities I have huge crushes on). I think I should whittle it down a bit since it has grown rather large (and I always manage to forget one person when I'm rattling off the list to anyone who happens to be interested). I've thought about adding a few people, but I think I'll only add one. And I'll try to order them, since heretofore, it has simply been an only slightly-ranked list.

Harem prior to today:
1. Colin Meloy
2. Ben Gibbard
3. Sam Rockwell
4. Will Forte
5. Jonathan Rhys Meyers
6. Jonny Lee Miller
7. Trey Parker
8. Zach Braff
9. Jason Schwartzman
10. Jon Stewart
11. Steve Carell
12. Hugh Laurie
13. Clive Owen
14. Stuart Murdoch

Harem today and onward:
1. Colin Meloy
2. John Roderick
3. Ben Gibbard
4. Sam Rockwell
5. Will Forte
6. Jonny Lee Miller
7. Hugh Laurie

This was a hard decision and many people have been taken out simply because it is difficult to give a lot of attention to so many people. I have tried to make this new harem full of people that I actively enjoy and read about/follow their career. Sigh.


You shook Sinatra's hand. You should know better.

I haven't seen as many films as I would like as of late, but I have seen several great ones.

Waitress is a delightful film that unfortunately has a horribly tragic backstory. Its writer/director/co-star, Adrienne Shelly, did a wonderful job with this story, keeping it balanced when it could have so easily succumbed to sentimentality or banality. Sadly, Shelly was senselessly killed before even finding out the film had been accepted to the Sundance Film Festival, but if there's any bright side at all, at least she's left behind a remarkable movie to be remembered by--truly a high note to go out on. The plot and characters of Waitress are charming and believable because of superb performances and a script that allows characters to be people and not caricatures. Great, but I can't help thinking: if only I liked pie...

Going only on a vague desciption of the movie in Entertainment Weekly's Summer Movie Preview, I wanted to see Paris Je T'aime. After seeing a preview for it, I really wanted to see it. It looked like one of those films that would instantly be a favorite, a film with a "gimmick" that would actually work splendidly. And that's exactly what it is. The movie has eighteen short segments, and while some have a better sense of beginning-middle-end than others, I can't think of one that I didn't enjoy. There are some that are adorable, some that are heartbreaking, and some that are laugh-out-loud funny, and all are a good time. I would list a couple as especially splendid, but I would end up listing almost all of them.

I meant to see The Queen last year both when it was released and especially when it was nominated for all of the Oscars. I was pretty certain I'd like it after what I had heard, but I was a little wary after some critics had said it felt more like a TV movie than a film. I suppose I can understand why they would feel that way, but I did not have that experience. I am fairly familiar with the royal family. I remember the day that Diana died, but I wasn't completely aware of the controversy immediately after. Like everyone else, I thought The Queen did an excellent job of portraying the situation and those in the middle of it fairly. I fell in love with Queen Elizabeth because of her grace and her politeness. Man, she is one polite lady (I wish that I could be a tenth of how polite she is). And man, Philip is a douchebag. And Charles is a sadsack pussy (well, I already knew that pretty well). And Tony Blair's wife is quite the snatchbasket. I really enjoyed the film, but I think it was at its best in the quiet moments when Helen Mirren really shines.

I was really looking forward to Ocean's Thirteen because, c'mon, I'm pretty sure you're crazy if you weren't looking forward to it. And it did not disappoint. I mean, it's not quite an Ocean's Eleven, but it is the one they should've done last time (if only that was allowed to be part of the title). Once again, we have a film that's incredibly visually interesting and a rollicking good time. The Godfather reference was fantastic (you could learn something Knocked Up), the heist was awesome, Julia Roberts wasn't around to remind us of how little acting ability she actually has...This is an incredibly fun movie filled with eye and ear candy (both in the dialogue and the music). And the last two lines of dialogue are hilarious.



What It Feels Like For A Girl

So I wrote this poem and I think I want to put more in it (i.e. make it longer), but I'm not sure. I really like the idea of taking one piece of art and making another inspired by it. Notice all the allusions. I'm such a modernist! Thoughts?

Williams' Ophelia
is full of grief and
a son with unknown
motives holds her hand.
It was during the
cruellest month, with
the hyacinths in bloom,
and no one knew
if she would return
from the marsh.


Land of Confusion

I saw Knocked Up last night. I didn't like it. I am very confused by the lavish praise, the adoration of the critics for this one. It's an "instant classic" apparently (Really?! Really?!) I suppose I should refrain from too much judgment, as the terrible viewing experience may have had some negative influence. I really like seeing movies in the theater, but almost every time I've been to the theater for the past couple of years, I have been frustrated and have now come close to the point of never going to the theater again. If it's not issues with the sound or lines showing up on the film, it is the utter stupidity and lack of consideration by the other people in the theater, who do not merit the term "fellow moviegoers." Last night, the onslaught of irritants began early. There was a preview for I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, which, whether offensive or not, simply looks stupid and not at all funny. One moment in the preview, Adam Sandler's character feels Jessica Biel's character boobs, then quickly removes his hands and tries to cover his I'm-supposed-to-be-gay-I-can't-like-boobs (there's already a problem, everybody, men, women, gay, straight, children, wolves like boobs. They're pretty awesome) with "Yucky!" This elicited a guffaw from the guy behind me. Now the couple behind me did like to talk a bit during the film, and the girl apparently missed the title of the movie since she kept gasping when Alison (Katherine Heigl) found out she was pregnant, but they at least tried to whisper and the guy could be heard shushing a bit so as not to bother other people. I still don't like you, couple behind me, after all, you would laugh at a joke that wasn't really funny and then cement my notion that you weren't very bright by repeating that line, a sign that you have mastered the ability to regurgitate words that you have just heard, but at least you're making an effort. This was not the case for the I'm guessing fifteen year old girl two seats down from me, who was actually partially sitting right next to me, since one of her legs was propped on that seat. Not only would she laugh in a kind of high-pitched girl-who-screams-in-public-when-she-sees-her-friends-five-feet-away laugh and also repeat the joke that was just said, she provided a running commentary, and not just whispering, but talking aloud, which consisted of: "Those boots are so cute!" "That's that one guy, I can't think of his name now" (when a Stephen Hawking reference was made) etc.

So, perhaps I would've liked the film a bit more had I not been seated in the we-ate-paint-chips-when-we-were-young section, but I'm not so sure. Upon originally seeing previews for the movie, I was underwhelmed. But then, the critics were saying good things, and I do like the people involved, so I thought it would be a worthwhile movie. Turns out, my first instinct was right. What was wrong with it? Well, let's start with the characters. Alison works at E! but has no idea who Doc Brown is. At the beginning of the film, I didn't think she had any actual personality, but then it gets worse as she becomes the hormone-driven pregnant woman stereotype. At one point, she goes into full-hose beast mode, gets upset at Ben (Seth Rogen) while driving, stops in the middle of the street (strangely no one began honking, which I would've done immediately had I been in the car behind her) and kicks him out of the car. I take it we're supposed to smile knowingly and think "Oh those pregnant woman, always crazy and acting like fucking cunts!" Except I find it hard to laugh at/care about a character who I would like to see bit a curb (sidenote: I grow very weary of the idea that pregnant women can act out and be excused. Yeah, it sucks to be pregnant, and yes, your hormones are wild and you feel differently than you normally do, but that is not an excuse to be a terrible person or to make those around you miserable. You want to have a baby? Fucking suck it up and deal with the process). Then there's her sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) who is also a pretty huge hose beast. I was pleasantly surprised to find that towards the end of the movie she becomes slightly less of a huge hose beast, but how many times are movies and tv shows (I'm looking at you Everybody Loves Raymond) going to present us with women who want to manipulate the person they're supposed to love, have no interest in sex, criticize everything around them, and have irrational fears about their children that are supposed to come off as maternal love and justified when they're actually more akin to paranoid witch-hunting? Debbie and Pete's (Paul Rudd) marriage, according to the critics, is supposed to be a realistic depiction of marriage and its troubles. Except that what it actually is is two people who are entirely wrong for each other who got married because of a pregnancy and would now probably be better off divorcing. Then there's the praise the film gets for all of its cultural references. Yes, there are quite a few. How many of said references are actually good and humorous? Maybe ten percent (including one that actually was really good about Meg Ryan). The rest were more along the lines of "Hey, I've seen movies. Like Total Recall. Remember that movie? Wasn't it good?" When a cultural reference is in a comedy, I would like that reference to be used in service of a joke or clever and creative, not just there, only for the sake of a cultural reference.

All this being said, the movie wasn't that interesting and wasn't that funny. Although, it did promote Munich at one point, which, unlike Knocked Up, is filmmaking at its finest.


International Harvester

In April of 2006, there was a van carrying students from Taylor University in Indiana that was hit by a tractor-trailer on I-69. Five people were dead at the scene, including a girl named Whitney, and one girl, named Laura, was taken to the hospital, remained in a coma for five weeks, and then regained consciousness and entered a rehab facility. Only this isn't really what happened. Turns out, Laura died (and was buried in Whitney's grave) and Whitney was in the hospital (being cared for by Laura's boyfriend and family). This is very tragic and horrible, but it's also pretty fucking funny. It gets better. Laura's boyfriend, after finding out that he had been by the bedside of Whitney and that his girlfriend was six feet under had this to say, "There's been times these last couple of days that I've been mad at God...I feel like it's the biggest trick he's ever played on me." Absolutely. Naysay if you will, that ole trickster God is at it again! How did he manage to pull this one over on that boyfriend? Well, at the crash site, emergency workers rallied up dead and severely injured and sent them on their way. At the hospital, officials from the University were asked to identify the five bodies. Actually, they were asked to match a list of fives names to the deceased. Now, this was not the official identification of the body, the official one occurred, well, over a month later after Whitney had been awake and in rehabilitation. Officials "decided not to push" family members in order to ascertain who was lying on the slab in the morgue. That God! Pulling tricks on some Christian zealot by making people incompetent!! Ooh, one of my favorite parts: while in rehabilitation the girl was asked to write her name. What did she write? "Whitney Cerak" What was Laura's family's response? "Hmm...maybe we're idiots who can't recognize our own child, even after swelling in her face has gone down, the tube in her throat and mask over her mouth has been removed, she has spoken, and has written a name that belongs to someone else who was in the van during the crash." Though at least they're aren't as self-important and fucking arrogant as God-boy boyfriend who's mad at his Lord because apparently the world revolves around him.




I have wanted to have the ability to write songs for some time now, but the recent disappearance of realistic career plans and life goals has made me think the pipe dream of fame and riches in several aspects of the entertainment industry should be considered a bit more seriously and that I should at least make a worthy attempt to move toward this horizon. So, I've been earnestly trying to swith from pure poetry to at least being in the vein of songwriting. That being said, the most recent song addiction has been Modest Mouse's latest single "Dashboard," and I've written something with that playing through my head. Basically, new words with a very similar rhythym and rhyme structure. One tiny step at a time.

Now that I'm clean-cropped
and wearing jeans,
they all look my way,
ask me questions, they seek me out.
And the last rite I can't fight,
trying to shove it back another year.
And the first jeer I couldn't hear
too busy with the sea in my sights.
When I walk down the streets
with my headphones on
the world becomes a story
and the location's looking good.
I frame the shot the best I can,
with the soundtrack selected
and my mind in a TV show,
everytime a TV show.
With the trumpet blaring, I'm just staring
transfixed on the girl in the shop window.
She'll be a star, I'll take her far
And I can only hope the fame won't wear thin.
But my time here is limited,
the shadows are nipping at my heels.
I'll set sail for the islands
in the distance, in the far-off West.
The existence here is fleeting
and I really should be heeding
the siren song way out West.


Blanket Hog

I read the course evaluations my students wrote just now. I was expecting them to be filled with "You're such a cunt," and other similar epithets, since one girl just before writing her evaluation of me as a teacher and the Research Paper Class in general asked, "What happens if a teacher gets a bad evaluation from everyone in class." To which I replied something along the lines of "Jackshit." They were all pretty upset since I had just minutes before handed back their graded research papers, most of which received pretty low grades. So, much to my surprise, the evaluations were all pretty positive, and one claimed that my class was that student's favorite of the semester. This is very confusing to me since most students stared at me slack-jawed-like the whole semester.

Yesterday, my mom and I got back in town from Wisconsin and called in an order to a local restaurant for some deep dish pizza. My mom was going to pay in cash, so she asked me what the price was a little while after I called. I didn't think to remember the exact total, so I said "I think he said $16 something." We were in my apartment and she was fixing my lamp when the delivery guy knocked on my door. My mom told me she had put left a $20 bill on the table. The pizza guy quoted $13 something as a price. So I looked over at my mom to see what kind of tip she wanted to leave and she told him to keep the change. So I thought something along the lines of, "That's a pretty big tip, perhaps she's feeling generous," and then thought nothing more of it as my mind was consumed by the sight/smell/taste of the best kind of pizza mankind has ever seen/smelt/tasted. This morning, she left a message for me complaining of how she was ripped off. Apparently, she heard the delivery guy say that it was $16 something. And, she even thought, I don't know if I want to give him a tip of $3 and change. I told her that the delivery guy told her the right price but she is convinced that he scammed her. So, she would rather believe that she was malevolently swindled than that she willingly spent more money that she intended. Now, there have been occasions when I have tipped someone and then later realized that I had given more than I had anticipated, but I usually shrug it off and think "Well, that person is happy because of the big tip." Perhaps having been on the receiving end of tips encourages me to have a more laid-back attitude about such things. I'm just amused by my mom's outraged conviction.


Hide and Seek

While I'm still putting off my posts about The Decemberists, Ben Gibbard, and Laura Veirs, I'll post about my name. Oftentimes, people have tried calling me Jillian, to which I reply "That's not my name." These people then accuse me of lying, claiming that I just don't like my full name. Let me assure everyone...Jill is as full as my name gets. But what if it were short for something (that's not Jillian)? So, Chris and I have come up with some ideas, and I'll put it to you, dear readers, to vote on which you think should be my official pseudo-real name.

1. Jillingsworth
2. Jillabelle
3. Jillerton
4. Jilltopher
5. Jillathan
6. Jillevieve
7. Jillberto
8. Jillifer
9. Jillt



To take a page from the book of John, and to put off my long-awaited Decemberists post a little while longer, I have compiled my Top Ten TV Shows I Currently Watch, Excluding Late Night TV:

10. Law and Order
9. Law and Order: SVU
8. CSI
7. Law and Order: CI
6. Numbers
5. Scrubs
4. Criminal Minds
3. The Office
2. House
1. The Simpsons



I'm not sure what I think of this. What do you think?

Joliet's under the rain
but you're stuck there
approaching Division.
two lanes of intermittant
traffic and you're stopped
on the side.
You exit, lie face down on
the pavement, swearing
you won't budge,
and you mean it this time.

he brings the bow back
toward his chest, pointed
toward the organ inside him
and behind him.
he repeats the notes,
underscoring the mood of
the crowd and thinks of
the organ inside him
and behind him,
the organ,
and the organist,
the organ player.

Good afternoon
Washington Island,
I'm returning your daughter,
she couldn't even
get off the bus.



Fantastic things to blog about! First, Chris and I saw The Long Winters at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor last Sunday. They were playing in Chicago on Saturday, but I decided to go up to Michigan instead, since the Blind Pig's website proclaims that John Lennon once played there! Having gone to relatively few live shows, I've never seen a non-local band play at such a small club. The place wasn't all that much bigger than my apartment. Having gone to shows of bands that I'm obsessed with that play bigger places, we arrived in Ann Arbor around 4:30pm (doors opened at 9pm, according to the tickets). It turns out that Ann Arbor isn't a bad town six days out of the week. Sunday, however, is the day when people sacrifice sandwiches to the gods, though, and I advise not going there on this holy day, unless you want to pay too much money for a frilly sandwich and latte at a cafe. So, we spent a lot of our time waiting in a bar underneath the bar/club where the band would be playing. Except, after playing darts we went back outside to get some fresh air and to make sure that a line wasn't forming. It was pretty windy outside, though, and I wanted to go in, but Chris said we should stay and finish going through the down clues (we were working on a GLBT crossword puzzle). I knew having Chris around would pay off at some point--a van with Washington license plates pulled up and started unloading Long Winters. So we shook hands and introduced ourselves to two of the members, John Roderick and Eric Corson. Later on, when we started waiting outside permanently at around 8pm, we had a chat with Eric as he was smoking, and he told us about the drunken antics witnessed post-show in Chicago.
So, the show. The opening band, Stars of Track and Field, were pretty good, though they seemed to rush through their set and didn't really interact with the audience. Then, a very awesome, two hour show by John Roderick and company. Some highlights: being not much more than a foot away from the band, the ensuing song when someone in the audience requested Rush (Eric broke into I don't know, some Rush song (I make a point of not knowing their oeuvre) and John improvised his "best Neal Peart impression": "dungeons and dragons, wizards....Ayn Rand, determinism, secular humanism"), all of the stage banter, all of the songs, the non-encore which consisted of playing more songs, though without the superfluous five minutes of the audience cheering to an empty stage waiting for the band to return, and the aftershow chatting with the band. Chris bought one of their albums, When I Pretend To Fall, which was signed by everyone (prior to this show, I had seen John Roderick play at the 826 Benefit in Chicago--where he played "Porcupine Pie" with Ben Gibbard, and had afterward downloaded some Long Winters songs, but hadn't really given a good listen to more than about three songs. I went to this show mostly to once again see the excellent stage presence and voice of John Roderick). I had a good conversation with Roderick, during which he wished me luck with my Master's degree (!), and I hope I came off as an interesting, funny, and suave person who he was charmed by. All around excellent day which I hope to repeat sometime in the future.

In other blog-worthy news, The Decmeberists DVD, The Decemberists: A Practical Handbook, became mine on Tuesday!! It is fantastic. Consisting of a recording of their performance at the Roseland Theater in Portland from November 4, 2005, a documentary (excellent, though it should be longer!) called Paris Before the War, and the music videos for "The Tain," "The Bachelor and the Bride," "16 Military Wives," "The Soldiering Life," and "Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect," it will not leave my DVD player for a good amount of time. The video for "The Tain" is tremendously spectacular. I have a feeling it will prevent me from getting much work done. It presents the story of The Tain and is done in silhouette animation by Andy Smetanka, who used the same medium to produce a truly excellent video for "The Bachelor and the Bride" as well. Really, it must be seen, it can hardly be adequately described and praised through me writing a blog entry. So, that's all in blog land for today. I have a Decemberists concert to listen to from World Cafe.


"Wait a minute, wait a minute, give a minute..."

when you're driving home
you'll take a tour of
the hole in the ground,
it runs at about 80 cents/hr.
and your car will
travel over those
hundreds of miles,
the headlights doing
their best to cut a
swath out of the
pitch black of a
highway without streetlights
on its sides.
and when you're on your
way home, out to the East,
I'll look out in the night
and wait for the sun to rise.


What Is Life

Happy Birthday George!!!!!

Standing Still

things very pleasant,
the dinner made in
the kitchen,
the music playing
that falls on a line
between 'soft rock'
and what the kids
are listening to these days
the definitions aren't
so distinct, not mandated
things very relaxed
no one here's worried,
not overly concerned
no one is left lonely
in their thoughts
the present's the thing,
the presence the thing.


No Dice!

Trains from Chicago
And I think of how
I can't use "darling"
like they can,
it just doesn't sound right
and when I think of
wanting to be someone else,
I remember that they
don't call you darling,
and they don't have a
love for the Chef's Kitchen.
It's ten o'clock on a
Wednesday evening
and I'm sitting here
remembering what
Washington looked like
eleven years back, in
the white shadow of Maryhill,
O Klickitat, you have
remembered too.
It's a cold winter evening
and I think about
reading on the front lawn
and remember that I
never finished that tale.
And I think of how
I like watching the audience
that doesn't react,
it just makes me feel better
and when I think of
wanting to be something else,
I remember that
the Thinker used to be the Poet,
and it has never
been to Bronson.


Some scribblings

A few things I wrote tonight, which aren't very good, but I haven't written anything in a while.

the darkest night,
all of the stars have gone.
the sun remains,
but only to focus
our eyes in the day,
to look at what we have left.

he's a creature who
feasts on eyes.
he's a righty,
his brother a Southpaw.
obsessed with revenge,
he's endlessly filling
the hole in his skull,
swallowing the orbs
now blind in his stomach.

The seventh point
in your steps toward
tells me that I must
pick a color for my spirit.
green is my favorite, is
favored by such distinguished
persons as Ralph Nader
and Joe Peta.
but it's the color of the
eyes of a monster,
and I don't want to be a monster.
yellow is sunshine, yet
also cowardly and the
hue of urine (when
one isn't all that hydrated).
red is brave and dangerous,
the bad boy of the spectrum,
terribly exciting, but
red seeps from fatal wounds.
blue is the wide open sky,
and the shade of the
bird of happiness,
but it's also melancholy,
downtrodden, not much fun
to be around.
I wonder how this color
can exemplify both ends.
and I think that blue
is the color of
your steps are shit.


More Today Than Yesterday

So, I haven't seen nearly as many movies as I should have from 2006. I hope to remedy this a bit in the coming days, especially after the Oscar nominations are announced. But, I have seen some good ones, and I will rank those that I've seen so far. It always surprises me when I go through the list of movies released in the past year since it seems I've seen some of them so long ago. There were many difficult decisions in ranking these (especially the top five or so, especially especially the top three), but I've come up with an order I'm reasonably satisfied with. So, without further ado...

Films of 2006
1. V for Vendetta
2. The Prestige
3. Lucky Number Slevin
4. Children of Men
5. Little Miss Sunshine
6. Wordplay
7. Borat...
8. Inside Man
9. Thank You For Smoking
10. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
11. Notes on a Scandal
12. Casino Royale
13. Night at the Museum
14. Strangers With Candy
15. A Prairie Home Companion
16. Mission: Impossible III
17. The Devil Wears Prada
18. The Da Vinci Code
19. United 93
20. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
21. Superman Returns


Melt With You

So I've seen some kind of unusual things in porns lately, but one I watched today takes the cake. This past week, I saw double vaginal and double anal (though not at the same time) and two women anally fisting each other. Today, I was watching a threesome between two women and one man. The odd thing: one of the women had a cast on her left arm! Why is she doing porn with a cast covering her whole left arm?! Maybe I've happened upon a fetish for injuries, or for pink casts. I had to laugh to myself (and then masturbate, though not to that particular clip).
Anyway, I start off my last semester of grad school tomorrow. I'm nervous about teaching again after the month of Winter break. But, I have a shirt from Victoria's Secret (it's not racy, though it does make my tits look pretty damn good, if I do say so myself) which I will wear to help me get a chili pepper on rateyourprofessor.com. Here's hoping! I'm also going to make a really large effort to not procrastinate this semester and stay on top of reading for classes and for my comprehensive exams. I'll need a lot of good luck for that endeavor.
I read Heart of Darkness over break (and now I can go to Pimmsfest '07!). I have to say...meh. It took me some time to get into it and read more than a few pages a sitting, and when the narrator arrives and interacts with Kurtz, it became more interesting, but I still didn't care for it very much. I thought it was heartbreaking when Marlowe tells Kurtz's Intended about the man's last words, but it never really gripped me at all. I didn't like Marlowe as a narrator and felt no connection to anyone or anything going on. I realize its importance and significance (because people have told me this, rather than me knowing much about literature having to do with Imperialism), but I don't feel like I've gained anything in particular from having read this work, other than being able to discuss it and how blah I feel about it when it comes up at cocktail parties (those crazy English student cocktail parties!).


"That's Not the Way She Tells It"

Two recent developments which I have thought hilarious: first, an occurence which I said would work as a good stand-up joke, a thought Chris disagrees with (therefore I leave you, dear reader, as the judge)--I was pulling out of a slanted parking space at the same time as a car two spaces over, and the car stops to let me back out first. I think "What an idiot," and then I notice her bumper sticker "Euclid sucks!" Okay, it works better telling it than writing it, but still, I think it's damn funny. Chris thinks that it is too esoteric.
Another funny thing happened on the way to the forum that has beome a bit of a running joke between the two of us. I was getting in bed last night and Chris' elbow was in the way. So, I lie down in discomfort and in retaliation I'm going to put my cold hand on him, so I reach over, not aiming for anything in particular, but I happen to hit the jackpot and grab his wang. Chris said something that wasn't positive about this happening, called my hand the "icy hand of death", and his junk remained hidden away, safely tucked for most of the night. This is the moment that I discovered that he can tuck and untuck with no manual manipulation, which impressed me greatly. Anyway, two things that really amused me. I hope they amused you as well.