27 February 2009

In Dreams

I know that it is awfully tedious when people try to tell you about their dreams, but I had a particularly strange experience this week.

I've been sick for almost 2 weeks now. Not just kinda sick either. Really sick. In fact, I am just getting my voice back, and I've been almost voiceless for 4 days. (As you can imagine, this has been hard on me.)

Anyhoo, I've been getting up to teach in the morning and then coming home by noon or so to go back to sleep. On Wednesday I was napping and had a dream in which the following topics were seamlessly woven together: 1) Running 2) My grandparents making pre-arranged funeral plans for themselves 3) Chaselweiss and 4) Gypsies.

I can account for the Chase part of this dream, as it has just recently been his birthday and I was thinking about it. I think that the running part of the dream, which was very, very vivid, had to do with the fact that I haven't been able to go to the gym, or for a run, since President's Day, which is when this whole sick thing hit me.

But I can't account for the part about my grandparents, and I certainly can't explain gypsies, since they are not a part of my everyday life. Although, my mother is rather unnaturally facsinated with gypsies, so I suppose it is sort of always there.

But c'mon. That's weird, right?

25 February 2009

HA! Pextrix

Qwanty is right--when one thinks about Peter, there are almost too many things to say. He's a strange, and complicated, guy. In that way (and probably in that way only) he is like my dad. To those of you who don't know (and who doesn't?), Peter is my favorite teacher I have ever had in my whole life. Ever. In my whole life. And I've had a lot of teachers and I've been really into a lot of them, but none come near to the almost mythical standing of Peter. (Not even Doc B)

Here are some interesting things about Peter:

1. He really likes the phrase "will-he-nil-he" which, for those of you who don't speak "peter", is willy-nilly. Even though he knows that people will be put off by this, he refuses to use the colloquial version of the saying, either in his writing or speaking. He's stubborn like that.

2. He referred me to his therapist. And I went. He also referred Qwanty to his wife's hairdresser. I don't think that she went. He believes that he can be that intrustive into certain student's lives. I guess maybe he can be.

3. Sometimes for Valentine's Day I make homemade fortune cookies and write out little haiku to stuff inside them. One year, I made one for Peter. The haiku was especially mushy. This should not surprise anyone. Several months later I was sitting in office (probably crying, because that is mostly what I did in his office), feeling uncomfortable because I realized that he had a weird naked woman fertility talisman statue on his desk. I kept trying not to stare at it, because it was such a weird thing to see there. At some point he mentioned the Valentine, and I sort of shrugged it off, but he reached FOR THE WEIRD NAKED WOMAN FERTILITY TALISMAN (at this point I wanted to run screaming from his office) and he showed me that it had a little box in the base and inside that box was the little slip of paper on which I'd written the hakiu. To this day I don't know if this is the sweetest memory I have of him, or the creepiest.

4. Peter, as of a few years ago, only considered me the 7th smartest student he'd ever had. Um. 7th? Talk about your faint praise.

5. I have seen Peter throw an eraser at a student. I also saw him throw chalk at the same student. I have also heard him ask another student, in complete seriousness, "who put you in charge of the obvious today?"

6. One of Peter's greatest friends in the world is a fairly well-known academic who writes like an angel. His prose is so conciliatory and has such a reasonable tone. Peter's writing is,well, cranky and scrappy. It is fun to read them back to back. One wonders what their friendship must be like.

7. Peter likes to eat. A lot. Let him take you out to lunch sometime. You only eat at nice resturants, and you can order whatever you like, and he forces wine on you. (And sometimes dessert as well.) He once told me that the only food he thinks that he doesn't like is cucumber. Cucumber?

I'm sure Qwanty has her own factoids about PC that she might like to share, but these are my favorites---

23 February 2009


Here are a few things that I am thinking about today:

Smart Kids: It seems like I am surrounded by pretty friggin' smart kids. My niece and nephew are hella smart. My cousin's kids are all smart. Qwanty's kids are smart. My best buddy in Tejas, Gus, (big shout out to you, by the way, sport!) is super smart too. Amazingly, they are all also beautiful. Anyhoo. I've always enjoyed being around all these smart whippersnappers, but maybe that is changing. I got an email from my cousin's youngest, Mitch. HE IS ONLY IN FIRST GRADE, and this is what he wrote to me: I noticed a mistake, on your email to me!When you said I love you to, the 2 (too, two, to) was really the too kind of 2 (to, too or two).Too as in very or also. And then his sister said, "Kristin, doesn't this really embarrass you, considering that you teach college and everything." Great. I officially declare Mitch and Michaela "too smart."

(In my defense, I had a fever of 102 when I wrote the email and I think that it was just that the ring finger on my right hand was just toooooo weak to hit the "o" that second time.)

Why you gotta do me like that, Eddie Vedder? So I don't normally notice things like this, but apparently Pearl Jam has a new song called "Brother." Um. Seriously? Does this mean that if the band stays together for long enough we have "Great-niece" and "Gramps" and "Stepsister" to look forward to? (Actually, now that I ask, doesn't "Sexy Stepsister" sound like a DLRoth-era Van Halen tune?) But seriously. Maybe it is time to hang up the mechanic's jacket, Eddie. Are we also going to be subjected to an outpouring of songs named after color? (By the way, if you ever meet my youngest brother, try to get him to do his impression of Pearl Jam's drummer trying to play "Daughter". This is one of my favorite of his bits. He also does a really funny Charlie Watts impression, but he has to be in the right mood for it.)

If you can't beat them: Felisa, inspired by your comment on the last post, I made myself a birthday manicure appointment. I figure I can have pretty nails and whip some cream like I mean it.

Good feelin': Hey, you know what makes you feel good? When you hear from someone you haven't heard from in a long time, and they tell you that a conversation that you had with them has stuck with them in some way. Case in point, yesterday I got a message from Chung (those of you in Tejas will know of whom I speak, those of you who don't, he's a guy from the program there). He was at my going away party in July, and I had recommended Bill Buford's sensational book Heat to him. I had forgotten that we'd even talked about it. Anyway, he let me know that he'd read it and really enjoyed it. What a nice thing to do for someone else. I need to remember to be more thoughtful like that. Good on ya, Chung.

List: I am trying to make a list of some of the nicknames that I (or others in my life) have had for boys/men that I have either had relationships with, or crushes on. I am quite sure that I am leaving lots off the list, but this is what I have so far (it is more or less chronological). Slashes indicate a guy with multiple nicknames:

Little Jason Brown (5th grade boyfriend--he was pretty little)
Beaner (in my defense, I didn't give this one--he gave it to himself)
"All the colors of the rainbow"
Fon Jarrell
The Weasel
Prof. Detroit
Butt Karl and Smoking Karl (I had crushes on two guys named Karl in college, at the same time. I actually had hand motions that I used when referring to them, but they don't translate to blog)
Nature Man/Dr. Frankenstein
Coffee Boy
Bus-y Boy
Slim Shady
Hot & Bald
Byronatron/Byronasauraus Rex/Byrone/"The Old Man" (By the way, he would not be happy to know that he has such a long list of nicknames, ALL of them given to him by people other than myself)
Firken (I mistakenly thought that this was a guy's last name. It was not, in fact)
Chaselweiss/Monster (there are many more too, but I didn't come up with them, and I don't want them getting back to him)

Qwanty? I'm sure I'm leaving some important ones out.

In case you're counting: Rome had on his 8th Rex in a row today.

Piece of Cake

Tonight, while I was making cupcakes to take to class tomorrow morning (for my birthday), I started thinking about something that has been bothering me for a long time, but which I have not spoken about to anyone. See, I watch a lot of Food Network programing. I like watching people cook a lot. I'm not sure why I find it entertaining, but I do. And, for the most part, I find almost anyone entertaining to watch. But there are two groups of people I don't enjoying watching:

1. Emeril. I guess that he is not really a "group" of chefs. But I don't like the guy.

2. (And this is what I really wanted to discuss in this post.) The dilettante cooks. This group includes Ellie Krieger (from Healthy Appetites), Sandra Lee (Semi-Homemade), Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) and--the absolute worst--Giada deLarentiis. There are multiple reasons to dislike all of these women, but the thing that really bothers me, and what all of them have in common, is the super delicate way that they all handle food. All four of them have well-manicured nails (one of the ways you can tell that they are dilettantes) and everything that they do with food, whether it is chopping (which, by definition, is a sort of violent act, right?) to zesting, to stirring, is really gentle and ladylike. Who cooks like that? Seriously? A lot of cooking is sort of vigorous. If you are all concerned about not chipping a nail how can you appropriately mix, grate, mince, knead? Often you need to get in there and work your food. These women don't do that, and that makes all their food suspect. Lesser complaints about these women include: Ellie Kreiger puts lo-fat cheese into everything. That is gross and unnecessary. Sandra Lee 1) uses cans and mixes all the time and 2) ends every show with a themed "tablescape"--which is a word that no one should ever use. My biggest beef with Ina Garten (besides the fact that she is too dainty when she stirs things) is that she has somehow managed to marry a man rich enough to keep her in a nice house and to not have to work so that she can just cook food for all her fabulous gay friends. I am sort of jealous. I want a gay gardener friend, a gay foodie friend, a gay shopping friend, a gay florist friend, just to throw fabulous luncheons for. (I mean, I've got Dr. Awesome, but he doesn't have a whole lot of time for me now that he is busy saving children from disease.) But Giada. Don't even get me started. Who can't boil pasta and make 4-ingredient sauces and salads? There's no talent needed for that. It's ridiculous. I agree with Jeffrey Steingarten that the only reason that she has a cooking show is that she is sort of pretty.

That's it. I feel better now that this is off my chest. But don't take my word for it. See for yourself. It just seems wrong.

(By the way--I made devil's food cupcakes with orange cream cheese frosting, and polenta cupcakes with lime cream cheese frosting. I do not use boxed cake mixes. That's another rant all together.)

20 February 2009

Weird Sad

So, this morning I drove into work very early (left the house a few minutes to 6) and caught the very beginning of the last Adam Corolla Show broadcast, and then I caught the last 20 minutes as well.

And what I have to say about it is that I am weirdly, weirdly sad. I was sad when Corolla left Loveline to take this job in the first place. In my 20s I often would find a reason to drive across town after 10, just to listen to the show in the car. Then, this fall when I came back to Portland and began working very early in the morning (or, at least, very early in the morning for a girl like myself), I started listening to Ace every morning. On Fridays, recently, when I hang out with Mikey J, part of our hang out time has been devoted to talking about what happened on the show during the week. When the announcement came yesterday that the show was definitely ending today, Mike sent me an email expressing his regret for it.

I guess I hadn't realized how much this show has contributed to my well-being over the past few months. You may think it is trite, but it is a lot easier to get up and face a half hour commute (in the dark, and often on frosty roads) when you know that there is entertainment a push-button away. Not only that, but it's entertainment coming from a guy (and, heck, a whole crew of guys/gals) who is just kinda a good guy. A guy who deserves the success that he's had. A thoughtful and committed guy. It's going to feel like a real loss.

Sure, I still have Rome to get me home after work, but I'm going to miss my radio ice cream sandwich. (Corolla/sweet and creamy teaching/Rome) Hopefully it won't be long before he finds another media home.

18 February 2009

In honor of--

If you have been listening to Jim Rome for the past week, you know that he has become TOTALLY obsessed with guys by the name of Rex. For each of the last 5 broadcast days, he has had on someone named Rex. Today it wasn't even someone related to sports. It was Rex Lee, the actor from Entourage. In keeping with Rome's Rex week, I am reposting the following blog post from the old MySpace blog. I wrote it a couple of Valentine's Days ago. I am also considering resurrecting the "Bad Crushes and the Horrible Reasons I Had Them" series on The Make-Ready. God knows that I have about 300 crushes left from which to draw. Anyhoo. Enjoy this jog down memory lane.

In Honor of Valentine's Day's Approach
Bad Crush #2

Ok, I feel a little guilty calling this a "bad crush" because it was actually a fairly good one. But . . . well, it does have an element of the ridiculous to it. Wait. For. It.

SO, my parent's moved into their last home the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. It was a weird move, because they did it while I was at camp (busy being a CIT, or counselor-in-training for those of you who are not initiated into mysteries of summer camp). I left, and we were in the house I grew up in, and I came back, and we were in this new house. I HATED it. I won't get into all the reasons why, but one of them had to do with the fact that it was the middle of summer (bad to begin with) and the house didn't have any window coverings, and was A LOT brighter than the house I grew up in. All the light was making me cranky, and I missed MY house. On top of all of that, my best friend had moved to Norway about six months prior, and I missed her awfully, and she was miserable as well, which I knew because of the 2-3 letters PER DAY I received all that summer.

The move had one silver lining though, which I found out about a few days after I got back from camp. Our builder had hired a college-aged handyman, and he was over at our house several hours a day, working on finish work (a deck in the back, landscaping, adjusting doors. He was very handy.) On top of being handy he was HOT, and in his early twenties. And I was a bored sixteen-year-old. I was in heaven. He did a lot of working outside with his shirt off (and, I don't need to tell you, dear reader, that he had a great chest, and a great tan, and bleached out hair) and I did a lot of taking him glasses of lemonade. It was all very 90210 (you know, when Kelly had a thing with Jake, before they spun him off onto Melrose?!).

If all this was not enough to send me into hormonal overload, he did the cutest thing ever, and it sealed the crush deal. See, we had moved into a new housing development, and we were in one of the first houses finished and occupied. So the area around us was leveled, but not really developed. A stray dog showed up one day. My mom got worried about it and started making sure that he had food and water. He was a mutt, but very sweet. My parents, of course, were not going to take it in (we have a family aversion to pets), but my mom was somewhat worried about what was going to happen to him. The handyman was VERY sweet to the dog, and it began to follow him around all day. In the afternoons, the handyman would take a break for lunch, and the dog would curl up next to him. Before long it became pretty obvious that he was going to have to take the dog. OK, so I'll admit that I'm not a huge animal lover, but I did think that it was adorable that the handyman felt responsible and nurturing toward this dog. I remember the day that he finally decided to take it home with him. I have this image of the handyman's truck driving away, the dog happily riding in the bed. He looked like he couldn't believe his luck.

The handyman finished the work on my house, which was sad. Then summer ended, and he finished working for our builder, and that was sadder. (Yes, I did just say "sadder"--get off my back, grammar police!) He went back to college, I went back to finish my senior year of high school.


So I know what you are thinking. Nothing THAT ridiculous about the story. But I have been keeping for you, reader, the detail that does make this crush silly and embarrassing in retrospect. The handyman's name?


I kid you not.

Stuff I Dig

Everything is very doomy and gloomy recently, ain't it? Strangely, I've been in a remarkably upbeat mood. This might be because times like this are sort of good for contrarians like myself. Today I feel like spreading the love. Here are five things that I really like a lot.

One: Craft root beer. I am not a big soda drinker. And I grew up on diet sodas (literally--my mom drank Tab when I was very little, Pepsi Lite when I was in elementary school and the weirdly addicting Diet Coke since). So I just generally do not drink regular sugared sodas. HOWEVER. I make a special occasion exception for craft root beer. Henry's, on tap, is my favorite (although I know it is a little too sweet and too smooth--if in fact root beer can be too smooth!--for some). But I also like Mt. Angel. Those monks make some very tasty root beer. I do not, however, love craft root beer as much as this dude.

Two: Pilot G-2 Extra Fine Gel Pens. It isn't so much that these are my favorite pens ever (far from it), but they are ideal for grading. They come in a variety of colors beyond black, blue and red (none of which I like to use to grade with). I particularly like the purple and burgundy ones because I find them easy to read against the black and white. They are nice and fine, but don't clump. I think I went through about 5 of them last term alone. (And if any of you feel like bitchin' about how little I blog, think about all the writing I'm doing on student papers.)

Three: North. Since I have now been there the last 4 weekends (or so) in a row, I think I can call this "my new bar." North is unpretentious and small and neighborhood-y. You can put music on the jukebox for free, and they have Kenny Rogers. There is also a lot of Bruce Springsteen. The clientele is somewhat eclectic. Mikey J. likes to sit at the bar. This is ok by me. The one drawback is this older guy we've seen a couple of times who drinks wine and tries to listen in on our conversations and smirks at everything I say. I could do without that dude. However, last week I told Mike that I was ready to rumble with the guy if he gives me any more attitude. Mike said, "You are not prepared to rumble with that old guy." I said "seriously, I'm ready to take him down." Then Mike told me that this might be the most ridiculous thing I've ever said.

Four: Iced Lattes from Peet's. Here's the thing: I know that Peet's is a chain and all, but I had just given up ordering lattes anywhere. Everywhere I went it seemed like I was getting coffee-flavored milk. When actually what I wanted was coffee with a lot of milk in it. (See the important distinction?) Peet's lattes taste like milky coffee. That is delicious, and just what I want sometimes (when I'm not in the mood for an Americano or cafe au lait, which are much more my "everyday" coffee drinks). Peet's used to really be marvy because they kept soy milk (for my Americanos) out with the cream, but they have ceased to do that, so I'm back to having to ask for it at the bar. I don't like that as much. It makes me feel high maintenance to have to ask.

Note: I do realize that 3 of the 5 things so far have to do with beverages. I like beverages. I think--and do not freak out about this--that I would rather stop eating solid food than stop drinking fluids.

Five: Chelsea Handler. OK. I realize that she is actually a person that I like, and not so much a thing. I resisted for a long time. But I think she's really funny. I can't help it. And--this is weird--she and I are exactly the same age. Check this out: Drew Barrymore was born on February 22nd, 1975. I was born the next day. Chelsea Handler was born on the 25th. I find this totally bizarre. CH clearly seems older than me. They dress her real old and adult-like on that show, and she dates the president of E!, who is sort of old. Drew Barrymore--I don't know. I guess she seems older too. But it is hard to say when you are talking about someone who is crazy and went through rehab at 13. I was just barely getting through Drama I my freshman year of high school. (Ask Qwanty. She will confirm that I spent a lot of time in the "little theatre" staring off into space and crying.) My point is this, don't compare yourself to famous people who were born the same week you were. It starts to make you feel sort of weird and bad, but also glad that you are NOT famous and so, thus, no one cares if you wear your kitty jama bottoms and beat up Chucks to the grocery store at night.

Oh wait. Except that was not my point. My point was, Chelsea Handler is funny.

And my larger point is this: you may not have a job past March 18th, and you may have a condo in Austin that just refuses to sell, and you may be turning the UNGODLY age of 34 in less than a week, and the American economy may be a disaster, but you can still take pleasure in the small stuff.

14 February 2009

Protest Songs

Hey Kids--By my watch, it is now officially February 14th. For those of you who are happily coupled, I suggest that you stop reading now and go and do something cute and disgusting with your significant other.

For the rest of you--the bitter, the heartbroken, the lonely--the Make-ready would like to offer you a very special Valentine. Had a dry year? Got dumped unceremoniously right before New Year's? Been cheated on? Grab a Reece's peanut butter heart, or a handful of Hershey's Kisses, and check out some songs that might help you uncelebrate this g--awful, Hallmark-fueled florist fest.

9. "Not the One" The Donnas. Our first date was our last date/You're the kind of guy I love to hate

8. "On the Fire" Holly Golightly Your love is a lie

7. "The Things You Said" Depeche Mode I get so carried away/You brought me down to earth/I thought we had something special/Now I know what it's worth

6. "If Looks Could Kill" Heart Love is on the line--I ain't about to be kind/That's a promise and a threat

5. "For Reasons Unknown" The Killers Well my heart, it don't beat, it don't beat the way it used to/And my eyes they don't see you no more

4. "Love to Hate You" Erasure Love and hate, what a beautiful combination/Sending shivers up and down my spine

3. "All My Little Words" The Magnetic Fields Now that you've made me want to die/You tell me that you're unboyfriendable/And I could make you pay and pay/But I could never make you stay

2. "You Look Through Me" Book of Love You looked right through me/As though I wasn't there/In love with your own image/Completely unaware/'Cuz boys who look right through me/And only like me for what I do/Next time I'll be more careful/Next time, I'll look through you

And for the truly, truly angry:

1. "Ruin" The Pierces I do not want/For you to be happy/I do not want/For you to be happy/All that I want/Is for you to come crawling back

11 February 2009

January Book Report

OK, so I'm not big on New Year's Resolutions, but I do like the idea of periodic reassessment and goal setting. This year, I am focusing on moderation. I am a big fan of moderation (along with many Enlightenment ideas. I am sort of an Enlightenment kind of girl.), but I'm not particularly good at it. Rather, I am a binge/fast type--with regard to most things in my life. Perhaps nowhere is this more true than in my reading patterns. So--this year I have set myself a goal to read, as consistently as possible, 3 books a week. I figure that this is both a moderate (and attainable) goal, and will foster a kind of moderation in me.

As a kind of accountability to this endeavor, I've decided to blog about it. You can keep updated on how I am doing (if you care), see what I am reading (if you care), and I can feel that I have people to answer to (whether they care or not). Win, win, win.

So, in the month of January I read:

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. This is a total book club book, and not the kind of thing that I would ordinarily pick up. But my mom read it, and she wasn't sure that she understood the way that it ended and wanted me to read it so that we could confer. I did this, as the accommodating daughter that I aspire to be. It's a story about a time traveler. At the heart of it is a potentially awkward sexual relationship. I don't really suggest it, but it's fine for plane reading or whatever.

Medicus by Ruth Downie. Historical mystery/thriller about Roman Britain. I'm a sucker for this kind of thing. It was fair to middling.

When She was Bad by Patricia Pearson. A non-fiction book about female killers. I don't know why.

The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez. This seemed like something I would like, but the idea is not fully realized or developed. I found myself not really caring.

My Life in Heavy Metal by Steve Almond. I am a big fan of Almond's NF (thanks, Mikey J, for the recommendation), but I didn't have high expectations for his fiction. This book of short stories is actually pretty tight. The stories are loosely connected through theme (love, loss, commitment), but the delight comes from the variety of characters and narrative perspectives. It almost feels like an anthology of short stories--which might seem like damning praise--but I enjoyed the virtuosity. "How to Love a Republican" and the poetic "The Pass" are particular standouts, in my opinion. (Plus, Steve Almond is a babe.)

Father of Frankenstein by Christopher Bram. This is the first Bram novel I've ever read, and it is the book on which the film Gods and Monsters (you know, the film that proves that Brendan Frazer can actually act if given a decent script) was based. I liked the book every bit as much as I remember liking the film. It's a book about lonely people and the ways in which they may attach in order not to feel so lonely. Predictably, it is sad, and ultimately really messy. But Bram is a good writer--sensitive and manly at the same time. That isn't an easy balance to strike.

Whit by Iain Banks. OK, confession. Iain Banks is one of my favorite authors. I haven't ever read any of his science fiction (published under the name "Iain M. Banks"), but his straight fiction, which admittedly often deals with popular sci fi themes like surveillance/loss of privacy
is really good. The Wasp Factory is one of my top 20 favorite books and Complicity is in my top 5 list for light pleasure reading. (It's a damn exciting book. And I think that it was made into a film with super-hottie Jonny Lee Miller, but I've never actually seen it.)

Anyway, Whit is the story of a young woman who has been brought up in a religious cult in Northern Scotland and who has been tapped by the cult's leader (her grandfather) to become his heir apparent. One of the younger members of the cult, the girl's cousin, becomes "lost" in London, and the girl is sent to find her. What is interesting about the novel is the sort of Alice-in-Wonderland experiences and perspective of a young adult who has lived in the world, but not really engaged in the world. The plot itself is less impressive than the perspective of, and ultimately the decisions made by, this character.

Book of Evidence by John Banville. It seems like Camus already wrote this book. And IT was better.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. Yes, it is true, I've never read this before. And now that I have, I don't really see the big deal. Because, here's the thing, I don't really care about Bertha. Is that wrong of me? (Just another example of how I'm not a very good feminist.)

Watership Down by Richard Adams. I know what you are thinking. "That book about rabbits?" I've been putting reading this for years. It's actually a totally fascinating book. In the introduction, Adams writes that he means the book to be a children's story, and he denies that it is a satire or allegory (clearly he is trying to say that this is not his Animal Farm). But the book chronicles the story of a group of rabbits who leave their warren after one of them has a premonition about the destruction of the warren at the hands of men. The motley group (of all male rabbits--this becomes a problem later in the novel) travels over the English countryside looking for a suitable new home. Along the way they encounter natural enemies, make unusual alliances, and encounter other rabbit cultures, which certainly beg to be read as political allegories. The group finally settles and builds its own ideal society, only to realize that mates are necessary in order for the society to continue and flourish. This is a book about survival, mating and parenting, and death. It's tone and subject are very serious. The rabbits are not cute, and most of them begin the journey the bunny equivalent of young adults. In no way does this seem like a children's story.

On the other hand, it's about bunny rabbits.

I actually recommend the book highly. It's interesting and a quick read. There are real moments of pathos, of excitement (there's lots of rabbit battles--those guys are scrappy too!), of danger. It doesn't feel like a typical children's "animal fantasy".


That's the whole list, kids. Stay tuned for February's picks. So far the list is pretty short (damn student papers!) but I'll try to make some headway before the end of the month.

January pages=3,189

10 February 2009

A Valentine, Part One

I find myself with a little extra time today, thanks to the fact that my second class confessed that only ONE of them had done their homework--which was to read one of Chuck Klosterman's Esquire pieces (2 pages). Since my whole lecture today was based on their having read this, I told them to go home and to come back when they had done the assigned work. 2 pages! I can't even imagine what it would have been like to have had anyone only assign me 2 pages to read in college. I had terms in which I was reading 30 pages of poetry, 2 plays, 2 novels, and a book of art history/philosophy/history in a given week. (Not to mention writing for all of those classes.) What a bunch of weenies.

Anyhoo. I'm taking this time to send out a little Valentine to my good buddy, Qwanty, who has been wanting me to write on the following topic for some time now. I will probably get some of the story wrong. She will, without a doubt, correct me if I misremember.

This is the story of Patrick Lunch. (Which is not his real name, but I'll get to that part of the story eventually.)

Back in the day when Qwanty and I were hanging out at the 1201, drinking sourballs, splitting fondue, not paying cover due to the fact that we'd made friends with the bouncer (thanks, Devin--even though you turned out to be a real tool), and flirting with a bus-y-looking bus boy in vinyl pants over our glasses (ok. so "we" didn't really do that. It was more "me"), we became fans of a couple of different local bands. One of them was the ridiculous Rollerball, a band that featured a tall drink of water in a Mr. Roger's cardigan who played the clarinet like he was having crazy sex with it. The other was a band called the Dolomites, which might sound like some sort of R & B band, but was really a band that played "pirate rock", which, as far as I can tell, meant some stuff that sounded like Pogues rip-offs and some Tom Waits covers. Clearly, we followed Rollerball because of the clarinet player. We followed The Dolomites because Qwanty knew the "brains" behind the band from PSU. His name was Steve, but this is hard for me to remember most of the time because we referred to him exclusively as "Strictly" due to the fact that Qwanty thought that he looked like he could have been a character in Strictly Ballroom.

Anyway, we saw the Dolomites all over town. Memorable performances include 1) the Kells Irish festival. It was so cold that I remember sitting at a table in the tent LITERALLY shivering for several hours. I also remember that this set off one of the worst bouts of tonsillitis I've ever had. 2) the Green Room. Mostly what I remember about this one is that Strictly dedicated a song to us, and had us STAND UP so everyone could clap for us (ugh) and then the song was a Tom Waits cover and I HATE TOM WAITS. (I wasn't that crazy about Strictly either). 3) Ash Street Salon. It was here that the story at hand began--

As I remember it, the Dolomites were opening for a band called The Moops. Strictly talked us into staying at Ash Street to watch The Moops by telling us that they were "great guys." He might have also bought us a round. I believe he also warned us that the frontman was "kind of a character." As it turns out, the front man was no other than DJ Gregarious T. Cline. Some of you know Greg as the guy who spins for "Shut Up and Dance"--a weekly, mostly 80s themed dance party. (And--story for another occasion--the DJ for the New Year's event I attended this year with Mikey J. and my sister-in-law.) Here are some things that you should know about Greg: 1) He will try to score with almost any woman who walks by him. 2) He has an astounding collection of velvet (and velveteen?) pants and frilly ascots. 3) He sometimes dances to certain 80s songs as if he is performing a sacred ritual (ask my sister-in-law, Joy, she's observed it). 4) His REAL first name is Gregarious. Like, his mom named him that on purpose. 5) He seems to actually be aging backwards, like Benjamin Buttons, or Mork. 6) He is ridiculous.

*At this moment I have to interrupt this story to report to you all that I am currently sitting in a coffeeshop and, hand to G--, "Afternoon Delight" just started playing overhead. Oh Paul Rudd--I love you looking like a 1970's on-location TV news reporter!

Back to Ash Street--So, this band with this completely ridiculous frontman, playing a guitar painted with scenes that seemed to be ripped from "Octopus's Garden"--steps on stage and starts playing. I don't remember a lot about the performance, other than the fact that I couldn't stop laughing, and that maybe the last song they did was a rock cover of Paula Abdul's "Cold-Hearted Snake." (I vaguely remember this being brilliant.) Anyway. I was entertained. It turns out Qwanty had paid more attention to the whole thing that I had though . . .

The next day Qwanty was at Palio (this is when I was going there pretty much every day to see the narrow-hipped Coffee Boy and she was going to see a cute little diabetic). This tall, thin blonde guy kept looking at her, and finally approached. Turns out that he had recognized her from the show the night before. He was the drummer for the Moops. Qwanty recognized him. She chatted with him for awhile and found out that he was living in a big house in Ladd's Addition and that Palio was also HIS coffeeshop. This is where my memory sort of falters. Qwanty either made plans to have a drink at BOG (the other bar where we spent time in those days. Also owned by Phil Ragamuffin), or he mentioned to her that he sometimes drank at BOG. Either way, we ended up sharing Black Butte Porters with him at BOG one night soon thereafter. We found out that he hung out there because he (along with too many other Portland jackasses) had a huge crush on a bartender there (she will remain nameless. But I can say that he sometimes played drums for her, and she is an Irish chanteuse).

Anyway, we spent the whole evening with him. We found out about his crush, and that he worked at OMSI making models out of wiggly board, but only part time because he also manufactured and sold some weird nut used in drum kits. The most clear memory I have of that night is, at one point, Patrick leaning over the table and saying, "Ladies. Before we progress in this friendship any more, there is something about me that I think you should know. I am a convicted felon." Turns out that he had done some time for manufacture with the intent to sell. He was growing a lot of pot.

Then he asked us to have breakfast with him the next morning.


09 February 2009

Naked Conversation

For Christmas my parents got me a gym membership, which, in an unexpected turn of events, I absolutely love. Someone should have explained to me a long time ago that the gym is a lot like the coffeeshop. You go at more or less the same times. You see more or less the same people. You have your routine. You can be somewhat friendly, or somewhat standoffish, basically by employing (or not employing) your earphones.

There are two things that differentiate the gym from the coffeeshop. One of them is no big deal. Sweat. Sweat is gross, but ultimately sort of negligible. The other is hard to get around. Nudity. Here's the thing. It seems like common sense to me that you should avoid other people while nude in semi-public. You should avoid really looking at them, and definitely avoid touching them in any way, and under NO circumstances should you speak to them. This, however, turns out not to be as obvious to other people as I would like it to be. Seriously. What can you need to say to me (a stranger) that cannot wait until you are appropriately covered?

08 February 2009

Oh yeah--

I think that my family now has a group favorite song to sing along to. That song would be "Everyday" by Buddy Holly.

Last night, we actually did sit around singing it together. It might be Ella's current favorite song (and she breaks out it in often. In public.).

After we listened to it I heard her say, to no one in particular, "I just really love his voice."

She's a very discerning almost-4-year-old.

Heavy Rotation, Revisited

OK. Here's another one: Hall and Oates, The Cars and Duran Duran.

Also, I would like a station that only played Depeche Mode, The Cure, The Smiths, New Order (have I mentioned the fact that I love Peter Hook?), Erasure, Yaz, and maybe an occasional Book of Love song. I know what you are thinking, long time PDXers. That sounds a lot like 970 the Beat. YES. YES IT DOES. And if this station could be AM and all dirty and rumbley sounding, that would be terrific. I would listen to it ALL THE TIME.

It might have occurred to you readers that maybe an IPod could create the illusion of these heavy rotation stations. But you would be wrong. Because the IPod, for all the wonderful things it can do for me, cannot recreate the joy of hearing something really great (that I haven't heard in a long time) on the radio (or even in a mix made for me by someone else). The problem with the IPod is that there is no real surprise. I've put everything on there. There is no connection to someone else who thought it might be nice to hear "Institutionalized" or "Gypsy" or "Mr. Brightside". It's like getting a really good present when I'm not expecting it.

In honor of the spontaneity and unexpectedness that sometimes comes from radio, here is my list of best songs to sing along to in the car:

Runners Up: anything by the mamas and the papas (good harmonies), "The Gambler", "More than a Feeling", "Open Arms", "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love", "Livin' on a Prayer", "Don't Talk to Strangers"

10. "Just Can't Get Enough" Depeche Mode (I suggesting singing "Just Can't Get it Up" to the chorus. It is funny.)

9. "Euro-trash Girl" Cracker

8. "Crucify" Tori Amos (actually, it's hard to pick just one--she's just fun to sing along to period.)

7. "Song 2" Blur

6. "Sabotage" The Beastie Boys

5. "Black Dog" Led Zeppelin

4. "Mother" Danzig (Qwanty, I know you know what I mean!)

3. "Good" Better than Ezra (the happiest break up song pretty much ever)

2. "Sweet Child of Mine" Guns n Roses

1. "Self-Esteem" Offspring

02 February 2009

Crazy und Crazier

Saturday night I accompanied Mikey J to view the Werner Herzog film My Best Fiend, about Herzog's relationship with Klaus Kinski. I should say, first off, that I have only seen a couple of Herzog films, and Nosferatu was the only thing that I'd ever seen Kinski in. (Although, for the record, Kinski's vampire is, by far, the greatest portrayal of a bloodsucker ever. He is so sad, so lonely, so awkward. Edward Cullen should have skipped all the LONG explanations to Bella about the sacrifices of eternal life and should have just rented Nosferatu. Then maybe the 2000 pages of the Twilight series could have been slimmed down to more like 500.)

But here's the thing--you don't have to know ANYTHING about Kinski, or about Herzog, to watch this film. You just have to love crazy people. And watching crazy people tell stories. And seeing crazy people freak out and yell "lick my ass" when they are not happy with the offerings of craft services. And it helps if you find any of the following entertaining: 1) German understatement 2) nihilistic descriptions of nature 3) possible animal abuse 4) extreme examples of egomania. It turns out, by the way, that I find all of these things amusing.

Herzog is a confounding fellow. I'm not sure that I believe ANY of the stories he tells in the course of the film. And yet, I'm not sure that I believe that HE doesn't believe those stories. He is a man who always seems completely un-ironic, while also appearing completely insincere. How can that be? I am tempted to chalk it up to German-ness, but I'm not sure that my sense of German-ness is not based (almost entirely) on a ridiculously exaggerated caricature. And by that, of course, I mean Mike Meyers's Dieter. So I'm not sure what to think about Herzog. Nor about Kinski.

The greatest mystery of all is WHY IN THE WORLD Herzog made this film. Mikey suggested that he made it because he was tired of answering the question, "what was it like to work with Klaus Kinski?" Maybe. But I'm not convinced that I really understand what it was like to work with Kinski after seeing the film. Herzog does interview a couple of other people who knew and worked with Kinski, but since these interviews are conducted and edited by Herzog, they serve mostly to support Herzog's own interpretation of events, rather than to flesh out the man.

But this isn't really a criticism. And the confusion inherent in the film should not be a deterrent to seeing it. You all should see it. You'll like it. If nothing else, the film offers a surprising suggestion about how to quickly silence a raving maniac. The technique involves chocolate. Go figure.