26 August 2008

Brideshead Revisited, Visited

At the chalet with my sister-in-law, mom and the kidlets. We have not been able to pry E away from the water. If we are at hanging at the chalet she wants to be in the hot tub, and if we go out, she just wants to be at one of the pools. That kid is a water baby. As it turns out, her little brother may be as well. Mom and Joy put him in the hot tub yesterday and I guess he was in heaven. He likes to do a little splashing. Good for him.

But that is not primarily why I'm here, because I know that most of you don't need the daily E & H report. I'm here to talk about the fact that, once Joy got the kids down for the night, we headed into Bend to see Brideshead Revisited. Joy is a big fan of the British costume drama, so she's the perfect date for a film like this. Add to that the fact that no one else in the Bend/Redmond area felt the need to see this film at 10 pm on a Monday night, and you have the set up for a good time. We were alone in the theatre and could talk all we wanted through it (also I was not horribly embarrassed when I knocked over a box of plain M & Ms and they scattered all over the floor during a particularly tense moment in the film. Although Joy did laugh at me for about 10 minutes.).

I'm going to confess that I have only ever read one Evelyn Waugh novel, and that is Handful of Dust. If you have read Handful of Dust (or seen the absolutely ridiculous 1988 film version with Kristin Scott Thomas, James Wilby and Rupert Graves), you may understand why I stopped there. It is, in my opinion, a profoundly stupid story.

But now I want to read Brideshead.

Let me back up. For those of you who do not know the story, Brideshead Revisted is about a young man--Charles (Matthew Goode)--with desires to become an artist, who gets sent up to Oxford to read History. He meets a rich, charismatic, gay (and Catholic, as it turns out) fellow student--Sebastian Flyte (Ben Wishaw)--who takes him to his huge country house, Brideshead. Charles falls in love with the house, it's vast collection of mostly Italian and Catholic-themed art, and the wine cellar. Oh, and he sort of develops a thing for Sebastian's sister Julia (Hayley Atwell, who is beautifully curvy. Side note--I think that it takes away from sex scenes when an actress is so tiny and fragile looking that you spend the whole time worrying about the fact that the other actor is going to crush her to death. And yes, I'm thinking specifically of Keira Knightley in Atonement. I mean, broken hips just aren't sexy.). Meanwhile, Sebastian clearly is falling in love with Charles. There is no sex, but lots and lots of British sexual tension. YAY! So far, this is all sort of conventional--even a little predictable.

Anyhoo. Sebastian and Julia's scary uber-Catholic mother (Emma Thompson) makes certain demands of Charles regarding his friendship with her son, and sends the whole love triangle to Italy. (Clearly she had never read Forester, or James, or any other English novels of the period. Or she would have known that this could only end badly . . . ) But in many ways, this is less of a conventional love triangle story, and more of a story about belief--religious beliefs, beliefs about oneself, beliefs about others. And, maybe even more than that, it is about the doubt that accompanies those beliefs. The most interesting relationship in the film is the one between Charles and Lady Flyte--because it functions both on the level of a personal relationship, and one in which both people involved stand for a particular set of beliefs and worldviews. There is tension between those two levels of interaction.

Here is why I feel like I have to read the novel now: the film suggests very complicated ideas about these issues, but doesn't explore them in a way that I found totally satisfying. The ending felt open-ended to me in a way that made me wonder if the book actually does a better job of philosophizing. I want to see if there is more, well, direct discussion of this tension, or if the book leaves most of that discussion to the plot itself. (As the film does.) I will let you know. It's on my reading list now.

Two other necessary, but slightly less weighty comments--I can't NOT mention the fact that Matthew Goode is extraordinarily good looking. He also is a pretty subtle actor. Or maybe he can't act. I'd like to see what else he is going to do before I decide. But he is a beautiful, beautiful man. As my sister-in-law pointed out, he really grows on you too. At first you just think, "that's a hot man," but as the film progresses, he becomes sort of unbelievably hot. Good for him!

Second. There is a small part, played by character actor Patrick Malahide, of Charles' father. I'm not going to characterize this part, because it is small, but delightful, and I don't want to give anything about it away. But Joy and I agreed that he was one of our favorite elements of the film.

20 August 2008

Real Time Report

I am currently sitting at a coffee shop staring at a man who is a dead ringer for a fitter version of Brando at 60. He doesn't talk like him though, which is good, because I'm tripped out enough already by the physical similarities.

Also, a weather report for those of you not in Portland right now. It's raining like crazy, and it is gray and cold. I think it is only about 66 degrees out right now. It looks like it could be anytime between late October and April. But not August.

But I'm not complaining. Just reporting.

16 August 2008

"I'm a lead farmer"

Although my goal when I left the house this afternoon was to find someplace where I could be productive and get some work done, I was undone by a phone call from Mikey J, who invited me to see an afternoon showing of Tropic Thunder with him and his new squeeze. My work was not fun. Tropic Thunder, on the other hand, sounded really fun.

And it was.

But maybe not for the reasons that I thought. Because, it is my opinion--and before I write this I just want to say that this is perhaps the most unlikely sentence to ever issue forth from my fingertips--that the performances by Matthew McConaughey and Tom Cruise are reasons enough to see this film.* Because these performances are very, very strange. And they would suggest that both actors have a sense of humor, something I don't tend to attribute to either of them. There is one moment in particular, when McConaughey deeply interrogates his conscience, that I think might be my favorite McConaughey moment of all time. (Of course, there aren't a lot of other moments in the running, but still.) Again, I can't believe that I'm actually writing this, but I'm ultimately very glad that Owen Wilson went all nutty and the McConaughey had to take his place. I think that it was smart of the studio to keep Cruise and the un-shirted one out of the previews. Too often the best jokes end up in the previews, ruining the few really good comedic moments in the film.

Um. Yeah. And that's all I really have to say about it. The thing that made me laugh the hardest I can't really write about, because it would give something worthwhile away. So, that's it.

Oh yeah, and did anyone else think that Downey looks strangely like Jude Law with the weird blue contacts and blonde hair? Cuz that is who he looked like to me . . .

*And, for the record, I am not primarily talking about the dancing, which is more disturbing than anything else.

13 August 2008


I just realized that I should have given that last entry the title, "Tag, You're It."

Well, there you go, J-to-the-bro. You're it.

Bottom of the Barrel

Sadly, my current status as unemployed, housebound loser presents me with a paradox. On the one hand, I have almost unlimited time to blog. On the other, I am having virtually no experiences, and therefore have nothing to blog about. I mean, do any of you really want to hear about the five episodes of Intervention (a show that I find totally reprehensible, yet can't get enough of) I watched on Monday? Or about my short shopping trip to New Seasons with Miss E last night that led to the purchase of many potatoes and two loaves of bread? I thought not. It is, all things considered, a sad state of affairs.

Yet some of you (no names) believe that I should be writing anyway--

So I'll say a little something about J-bro's recent challenge to me to watch A & E's inexplicable The Two Coreys. If you don't know about this show, a short introduction: it is a half hour "reality" (I mean the quotation marks here) show in which Corey Feldman (of Lost Boys, License to Drive and Dream a Little Dream fame) and Corey Haim (of Lost Boys, License to Drive and Dream a Little Dream fame) perform their on-again-off-again-but-mostly-off-again best friend routine while Feldman's wife fans the flames and poses nude for Playboy. There is also something about the Corey's making Lost Boys III--a terrible idea--and couple's therapy (for Corey and Corey).

I have watched this show. More specifically, I have watched about 5 episodes of the current season. I have seen no episodes from the first season. I have only done this at the request of J-bro, whose taste I usually respect.

It's not even that this show is terrible (and it is). The larger problem is that I just don't understand it. Not at all. There is so much more unknown than known, that every time I watch it I end up more confused than I was before. I'm pretty sure that isn't how it is supposed to work. I'm just going to provide a list of some of the vexing questions raised by this show:

1. The format: Why is the show only a half hour long when A & E just runs 2 episodes back-to-back every week to make what is, essentially, an hour long show?

2. The believability factor: How does A & E expect audiences to continue to ride the roller coaster when one Corey or the other is constantly saying, "This is it. The end of my friendship with Corey. We're done. I'm done." (Both Coreys say this 2-3 times an episode--each.)

3. The therapist: Part One) Where did they find a therapist who would agree to conduct therapy sessions (individual, couple, family) on camera. Part Two) Why does this woman appear to still have a license to practice?

4. The drugs: Apparently Haim is on drugs. That makes sense given his behavior (unless he is actually acting. I don't put it past him.), and his puffy appearance and the fact that Feldman thought that he needed an intervention. But what drugs? And where is he getting them? And why is there no drug taking on film?

5. The mysterious brown liquid with ice cubes: Haim is constantly (and I do mean CONSTANTLY) drinking some mysterious brown liquid out of large plastic cups. It happens so often that it is distracting. To make matters worse, his assistant Nelle now also drinks the mysterious brown liquid. Out of slightly smaller cups.

6. The missing child: Um. Feldman and wife Susie have a kid (his name is--I looked this up on IMDB--Zen) but he is never seen on camera. Nor is there any indication that there is a child on the set. Nor do I think I have ever heard either Feldman or Susie mention their offspring. Apparently this child is 4. The only reason I even know anything about him is that J-bro mentioned him. That's messed up.

7. Art: Who told Haim that he could paint? Because he can't. What he does seem to do is buy a lot of painting equipment which he throws around a lot when he is upset. And sometimes paint does land on some canvases, but I'm pretty sure that it isn't painting. And then there is usually some cigarette smoking after the throwing around of the paint paraphernalia. Haim does the smoking, not KRD.

8. Hair: Am I supposed to want to see Susie Feldman straight-ironing her hair at least once an episode? If so, why?

These questions just begin to scratch the surface. This show is confusing. Worst of all, I have no idea why I'm supposed to care about these guys. I didn't like them when we were kids--Lucas notwithstanding, and let's be honest, I only like that flick because of Charlie-on-top-of-the-dryer-with-no-shirt-on-Sheen.

I'm sure that J-bro will be able to clear some of this up for us. I look forward to that. In the meantime I wish to add:

Listen, I bet that most of us secretly cared more about Cory Matthews than whiny Kevin Arnold. At least Cory had the stones to really have a relationship with Topanga. And we all know that Topanga was waaaay cuter than Winnie. She even had better hair (and that's no small feat). The only reason I ever really watched that show was in hopes that Karen (the fantabulous Olivia d'Abo) would show and have a meaty part.

09 August 2008

Young @ Heart

So, as many of you know, I am lucky to have marvelously fabulous parents. Tonight I went out on the town with them--to see a film (Young at Heart) and out for a bite to eat at the always satisfying Doug Fir. How many of you have ever gone to eat and drink somewhere with your parents where they were asked to present their inner right wrist for a stamp? I appreciate that I have parents who are up for that sort of thing.

Young at Heart is a documentary about a senior citizen's choir based in Northampton, MA. Their repertoire consists of punk, rock and r & b hits, with some gratuitous Talking Heads songs thrown in for good measure (apparently the choir's director, Bob Cilman, is a big David Byrne fan. Go figure). They give concerts in Noho, and tour Europe yearly, wearing jeans and white tuxedo shirts, reinterpreting popular music, and even performing a little choreography. The film follows the group for six weeks, as they prepare for a spring concert and learn new music that includes James Brown's "I Feel Good", Allen Toussaint's "Yes We Can", "Fix You" by Coldplay, and--inexplicably--Sonic Youth's "Schizophrenia". Filmmaker Stephen Walker profiles a half dozen of the members, letting his audience get close to them through interviews, home (and hospital) visits and long scenes in the rehearsal hall. There are also 3 or 4 music videos featuring the group peppered throughout the film.

It may be true that I am much more forgiving--nay--even welcoming--of schmaltz in non fiction films than in fictional ones. This film is poignant, sweet, funny and, ok, I'll admit it, inspiring. What becomes very clear over the course of the film is that these committed men and women live, often literally, for this music and for this group of people. It's a movie about the love of performance, about friendship, about growing old, and about people who find a way to live up until the last moments of their lives. It made me cry, my mother clap and exclaim out loud (often), and my father grin from ear to ear. It's a great doc.

07 August 2008

Lest you think I have just been sitting around pouting about the fact that I am a bad writer, let me tell you about the TV I watched yesterday.

1. The whole current season of Project Runway thusfar. Hey, you know what, that Suede guy needs to stop referring to himself in the third person. Seriously. I also have to admit that Blayne is growing on me. I mean, he's ridiculous and I hate all of his designs, but the guy does sort of make me laugh. And I get a kick out of his interactions with Tim.

2. Two episodes of Shear Genius. That show is AWFUL. But I saw the Charlie's Angels challenge, and I thought that Kate Jackson looked amazing. She has always been my favorite Angel. (And I've mentioned before my fondness of Mrs. King, as well.) I think maybe Bruce also likes her . . .

3. Half of Agnes of God. OK. I have a couple of questions suggested by this film. A) Why is it that certain films become late-night cable staples? I'm thinking of A of G, but also True Believer (a film that I cannot ever pass up if I come across it), A Few Good Men, An Officer and a Gentleman, The Accused. I've seen each of these films at least 5 times each. At least. But why do these films make good late-night fodder? I don't get it. B) What the hell is A of G about. In spite of the fact that I've seen it a number of times, I don't know what it is about at all. I just don't get it. I think I continue to watch it because I'm always sure that I've never finished it, and thus never got to the heart of the film. But last night I realized that I just don't understand it. C) Why do I like that scene between Anne Bancroft and Jane Fonda in the gazebo so much? I think that this scene is the other reason I can't not watch the film. D) Am I crazy to think that, if I could look like anyone in the world, I might choose Jane Fonda? The thing that is awesome about Jane Fonda is that she is very, very pretty, but in a perfectly normal kind of way. I mean, she could be just some woman that you could see in the grocery store or something. That appeals to me.

4) Three episodes of Dog the Bounty Hunter. I suppose I should be wicked ashamed of how much I love the Dog. But I've decided to embrace it. Also, I have a big crush on Duane Lee, his least-badass looking son.

That's about it. If it seems like this is a lot of TV for one girl to watch in one day, you are right. But I stayed up very late in order to accomplish it, and I was doing lots of other stuff while the TV was on--so it wasn't quite the waste of time it could have been . . .

I Don't Want to Get Pissy, But

OK. So first of all, I want to thank you if you are reading this. I think that most of you know how very, very pleasurable I find writing the blog, and how much I like the fact that you read. And comment. I especially like it when you comment because it means that this can continue to be a way for us to keep in touch.

But I am begging you--all of you--please don't criticize the grammar or the spelling in these posts. Part of the joy of writing in this format is that I don't have to worry so much about those internal editing voices. This is good for me. If I have to start worrying about you guys being the grammar and proofreading police, I'm not actually going to want to write any more. And I want to keep wanting to write. Also, please consider the following points:

1. You can bitch all you want about the content of my posts. That's great.

2. I wouldn't criticize your blog (if you have one, or if you were to have one), on the basis of your grammar, punctuation and spelling. I really wouldn't. That isn't my style.

3. I do try to proofread several times before I actually post. I don't always find my own mistakes. And sometimes I'm doing other things alongside the blogging, and I'm a little distracted. I am not trying to offend anyone's sensibilities. Not only that, but I DO think about you all a lot when I'm writing, and I try to produce content that most of you will like. And I try not to offend anyone either. So I am attentive to audience, whether you appreciate it or not.

4. You do not have to read the blog. Seriously. If it annoys you, or pisses you off, or bores you (Marcus), just don't read anymore. But please don't make me feel badly about writing. Reading is not a requirement of any of the relationships I have with any of you.

5. I am sorry that I don't have a sense of humor about this. But I really don't.

OK, that's it for now. My apologies for how un-fun and un-entertaining this post is--but sometimes a little editorial moment is necessary.

Thanks again for being my audience. I do appreciate it more than you can know.

06 August 2008

Series Finales, Revisited

The comments* on my recent post about Moonlighting have made me think that the subject of series finales is something that deserves a little more discussion. Thank you, in particular to OMD and J-Bro for their thoughtful lists.

Here is where we stand. Everyone seems to agree that Six Feet Under wins the prize for the best ending. This is interesting (and I guess that this COULD be a spoiler if you haven't seen the whole series), given the fact that so much of what happened in the final season of the show is actually amazingly irritating. Maybe the writers tried to piss us off so that our expectations were relatively low for the end. I don't know. I'm glad to hear that we are all on the same page about this.

As to the other suggestions:

The Office (UK): I haven't seen the end of the series. But I do wonder about this--I'm not a "fan" of either version of this show, but I've watched a lot of both. Why the weird animosity amongst fans of either show? I mean, they share a general concept, but little else. I think that they both have perfectly enjoyable aspects. I don't see how liking one is mutually exclusive of liking the other. (This said, I would probably HATE it if they tried to make an "American" version of MI-5--although how do you DO that? or of Hustle.) I will finish the series and let you know what I think.

90210: I watched a lot of that g--damn show, but I DIDN'T watch until the end. It just got seriously painful. What even happened in the end? As for SBTB--are you talking about the end of the show proper, J-Bro? Or the end of The College Years? And, seriously, how long is it going to take TV writers to figure out that shows always suck when they follow characters from high school to college?

Buffy/Angel: Not a fan. Although I've seen more total episodes of Angel and I find it, in general, easier to watch.

The West Wing: Again, not a fan. I have a personal bias against this show. I defer to OMD and J-Bro.

Kids in the Hall: Good call, J-Bro, but Roswell? Seriously?

I thought about mentioning the Cheers finale in my original post. But I'm not sure if it was actually good/satisfying. It was the most "important" (whatever that means) finale of our young lives. In my own home, it was likened to the series finale of MASH, which was an almost sacred event. (At least, that is the way that I remember it.)

I thought about The Wonder Years too, but the truth is, I was mightily irritated by the end of that show. Predictably, they tried to wrap things up a little too cleanly. That didn't work for me. Of course, Kevin Arnold (both the kid and the narrative voice) never really worked for me either.

The Arrested Development finale was good, in the sense that it was consistent with the show generally.

Alright. Now, Carnivale. I don't know if I have dealt with my complicated feelings about his show in the blog before. I don't think that I've written about it. And if I did, it was in the old blog. So, here goes: I don't think that it counts in this discussion. In order to be considered as having a "good" series finale (and maybe what we should be talking about here is what criteria for evaluation of the category of "series finale"), I think that the "finale" has to be self-conscious. That is to say, the writers need to know that they are writing the end to a series. My understanding is that this was not the case for Carnivale--that the creators, cast, crew, all thought that they might be making a third season. I believe that I even heard or read somewhere that they knew which character they were going to focus on in the third season. (And I also remember thinking that I surely would have hated the direction in which they meant to take the show.) The open-endedness of the finale, which, OMD, if I am reading you correctly, is part of the reason that you thought it worked, was actually a product of the fact that no one knew that it was the end of the series. Since it was unintentional, I don't think that it can be praised as a satisfying series finale. (This, of course, is sort of a different conversation than whether, given the material conditions under which this series was produced, it "works" as a completed piece of art. It may very well--despite the intentions of its creators/producers.)

By the time Freaks and Geeks ended, did they know they weren't coming back? I liked the end of that show, as well. But I can't remember if it was an intentional finale or not.

One last thought. FSK, I understand your hesitation to get involved with shows, knowing that you may fall in love with them and then be disappointed when they end. But our relationship with TV on DVD isn't that different, at least with regard to this point, as with our relationships writ large in the world. And don't we all (or at least don't you and I?) do too much focusing on the inevitability of the decay of relationships already? Isn't this what keeps us tentative, even self-defeating, about the possibility of meeting new people and incorporating them into our lives? Maybe the lesson here is MORE TV. Maybe the relationship building that happens as we watch, and having to go through the difficult and painful (and lest any of you bitches laugh at me, think back to the end of SFU and tell me that THAT wasn't painful) separation with those shows at the end of the series, and the fact that we then go on to love another show, that all of this actually helps prepare us for real relationships in the world. When the Deadwood film comes out, I may very well avoid seeing it, or reading anything about it, for a long time. But eventually I will see it. And it will not be as painful as I think that it will be. It will not remind me of what I do not have, anymore, but rather of what Deadwood has added to my life.

Book series, by the way, serve this same function. It was very hard to convince myself to read the last Lemony Snicket book, but when I look back, I can't say that I'm not better off for having A Series of Unfortunate Events in my life. Or Gormenghast, TLOTR, Ramona, Kristin Lavransdatter, etcetera.

*With the exclusion of smart ass comments from Qwanty and Marcus about my misspelling of the word "thumb". Thanks, guys.

03 August 2008

Cruising the American West

OK, so I feel like I should sort of apologize to you, readers, for the Yucca post. I have toyed with the idea of removing it, but Qwanty convinced me that, at the very least, it is a good reminder to us of our big night out in Tempe.

Sadly, that night kicked both of our asses, so the next day we took her lovely daughter out school clothes shopping in the afternoon, and then school supply shopping in the evening. And then we came back and lounged around while Qwanty's Brain Scientist made (and served) us a wonderful dinner. At some point, while we were in the car, Qwanty's daughter said, very somberly from the back of the minivan, "Mom. Can I ask you a question?" Qwanty said, "Of course, what's on your mind?" And then, in all seriousness, the daughter asked, "Why would anyone name their child Gaylord?" Qwanty almost drove off the road, and it took us about 5 minutes to calm down enough to even BEGIN to deal with the question.

Saturday Qwanty, the BS and the three kids went to a cabin in northern Arizona that belongs to the BS's father. I sort of followed slowly. It was great. Quiet, in the middle of the forest, and much, much cooler than it was in Phoenix. I sat on the porch with Qwanty and the BS and we talked and drank lots of wine (I did an unusually good job picking a couple of bottles) and enjoyed the cool air and a short lightening storm.

When I found out that I was only about 2 hours from the Grand Canyon, I figured that I should go. After all, it might be a while until I will have the chance again. It is not particularly fun to go to something like that on one's own, particularly on a Sunday in the middle of the summer. There are so many groups, and families, and I was uncomfortably aware of how weird it was to be there by myself. On the other hand, it was sort of nice to get to have the experience on my my terms--

Which, as it turned out, were standing on the edge and getting amazingly dizzy and thinking obsessively about falling. And then moving really fast to get away from the edge.

The drive around to the north rim is long, and not very attractive, so I didn't make great time getting out of there. It took about 4 hours to drive through the Navajo reservation, which was utterly desolate, and depressing. I was relieved to get to the Utah border (! Yes, I did, really, just say relieved.) The first town in Utah on 89 is a place called Kanab, which is one of the cutest towns I've ever seen. The kind of town that makes you want to fall in love with small-town life. The movie theatre is only open a couple of nights a week. I wanted to stay there, but it wasn't nearly far enough north, or late enough, for me to stop. Plus, I think it would have turned into my equivalent of Calypso's island. (OK, for a second I need to stop and enjoy the pleasure that comes from this analogy, which, taken to its logical conclusion, suggests that the Chalet is Circe's island, and Portland is Ithaca. Oh, and I am "cunning". That's lovely.)

OK, so anyway, I drove through many small towns (nothing more than a collection of 3 or 4 buildings and a couple of houses. For example, in one of these towns there was only a gas station--not open--a store selling "Utah rocks" and another that advertised "tools and CHAINSAWS" (emphasis in the original). I didn't dawdle.

That night I slept in a place called Beaver, Utah. Take my word. You never need go there. And then then next day I drove 1100 miles. This was folly. I stopped in Provo, to see where Larry and Dave went to college. And I wanted to see the Temple in Salt Lake, but the drivers on 15 were so scary, and the Temple so far away, and all the streets numbered (no street names!) and I decided to stay on the road instead.

I went by a town called Sulfurdale, which seems like a particularly badly-named town. I didn't stop there--the name didn't recommend it.

I did stop in Boise. Now, in general Idaho gets a pretty bad rap. And it mostly deserves it. It's a pretty ugly state. But Boise is surprisingly delightful. Although surrounded by really arid land, they seem to have done admirable irrigation in the city itself. It is really green and pretty, and the downtown area is surrounded by cute neighborhoods that look like what you would picture mid-American small town residential areas to look like--wide streets and tree-lined sidewalks. Small houses with beautifully manicured lawns and front porches. I was very taken with it.

I got food and a new book on CD there--I had finished both that I brought along (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, which I mostly hated. I kept thinking "I can write better than this jackass. I just haven't ever met Bruce Weber or Alan Ginsberg." And then Susanna Clarke's The Ladies of Grace Adieu. This one I liked a lot, particularly since I was listening to it. It may have been a more irritating read.). For the rest of the trip I bought Twilight, the first book in the series by Stephenie Meyer. I know a couple of people (I will leave your identities obscured, because I'm not sure you want this public knowledge) who are very into this series, and with the excitement surrounding the release of the most recent book, I wanted to know what all the buzz was about. It's not good literature. But I understand the appeal.

Leaving Boise, I experienced one of the most harrowing drives I can remember ever taking--from Ontario, OR to Burns. It was dark, twisty, showering bugs, and remote. About 30 miles outside of Burns, we (my fellow westward travelers and myself) were stopped, and then escorted by pilot car over 20 miles of gravel and construction at 35 miles an hour. By this time, my nerves were shot, and I kept thinking that I just wanted to pull over and cry for awhile.

And, although I was only 2 (!) hours from the comfort of the chalet, I decided to sleep in Burns instead. This was, I believe, the safest decision I could have made.

And now I'm at the chalet, soaking up the quiet and getting rested before returning to Portland. And that is lovely. Lovely. Lovely. It's been raining here this morning, but it is starting to clear up nicely, and soon I'll go for a run and I'll be able to smell wet ground and pine.

The American West is vast. The topography is varied. It is an amazing place. Nikki was recently telling me that someone she knows has never been farther west than Austin, and we were talking about what a strange thing that is. And I was saying that no one can really understand America, or being an American, without having experienced the West. For those of you who have traveled through it, you know what I mean. For those of you who have not, you can't, really, until you do it yourselves.

01 August 2008

For Those About to Rock

Or for those of you who have been rocking this Thursday night:

Tonight I went out with Qwanty. To Rock 'n' Roll karaoke at the Yucca in Tempe.

In all of my, well, let's face it, my zany years of friendship with Qwanty, we have always made it home on our own. Safely.

Tonight we had to call a cab.

I fell down on the job. It was my fault, really. I had a reasonable number of drinks. And then we met a band. Yes, a whole band. Top Knot, Francis and Dreads (also known as "Nick"). These "gentlemen" offered us 2 rounds of "Irish Car Bombs" (Jameson, Baileys, dropped into a glass of Guinness). Um. We tried to be polite, and so we accepted.

That was a mistake.

For the record, Qwanty was on exceptional behavior.

I, however, made multiple physical contacts with Dreads, and spent about 20 minutes outside with Top Knot while he smoked. I think that we talked about the fact that he wrote "prose". (And works at a nursing home.)

Qwanty asked our cab driver (who I think could accurately describe as a "wigger") about his experiences driving late night cab. He told us about some girl who got him to "take off [his] hat and shirt and roll around with her" for a total cab fare of 250 bones. Wow.

Now we are going to bed. Rest assured, fans, Double Trouble is alive and well. Our thirties, graduate school, children and everything. Some things never change.