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Showing posts from September, 2007

Blogging

So, I've managed to get one in for everyday and I think pretty much without filler--all things I wanted to post about.

I realized I'm sort of writing letters to different readers and if someone other than the intended chimes in, then so much the better.

I do find I'm working through things on here--and sometimes I'm working through them just by thinking about posting them here.

Edit: I didn't realize it, but this was kind of momentous. 222 posts this year, 300 total.

One I Wish I Could...

So, I've thought about posting this here for sometime.

I feel it's unfinished but I don't know where it would go.

Extremis

You tied me to a sand dune, and left me baking in the sun
Still I crawled back to you
You sold me into bondage, to wolves and wastrels
I bought myself back for you.
I ran from you with hobbles on my legs.
You cut them off with the teeth of your tongue.
I carved totems from the length of your thigh bones.
You made them into oars.
I put you on a multitude of funeral pyres
And spit on them every time.

Everything I ever did for you
I did under duress.
Everything I ever did for you
Was a bouquet at your feet.
For years you kept my voice in your cigarette case.

This house, this life, this skin
Inside out for you.

All the pictures need rearranging in their frames.
They have fallen out of true.

Pets

So here are good pictures of my children. Which made me think of an old poem. I still like this poem--it's different from the kind of thing I usually write. The Dog Poem

Yes, you have shaped us. Bred us down, up
Dark, light, lean, round, sleek, full.
Like tools to a purpose we have been formed
As you form and shape and build with hands that flex and hold.
Were we somehow more malleable, more honeable?
Our DNA more willing?

But what you do not know is that under these customized hides,
We are the first dogs, slipping high through tall grass,
Short fur, the color of the Savannah,
Tails, curved as totems, upright ears that rotate 180 degrees,
Gleaming, unshadowed eyes, beneath smooth brows,
Pointed muzzles, slim as the prow of your ships
As an arrow, as a gun.
A machine of the senses.

We scent you and we are still in our contemplation.
The pleasure of wind running through our fur the only motion.
We scent you, dark and matted , tongues unsuited for grooming,
In stolen skins. They are not ours, and we a…

Decisions

So, I have a new camera. A Fuji FinePix S700. I've wanted a good digital for ages and periodically I would do some research. I didn't want to pay more than $200. I wanted at least 7 megapixels and some serious zoom. I also wanted it to feel better in my hand than the standard under $200 Canon which I dislike.

So, expect to see more pictures here.

The big thing about buying this is that I've researched cameras off and on for about a year and then put off the decision. What if the price went down? What if something better was released? And I couldn't find a perfect camera under $200.

And you know what, all of that is probably true, but I finally had to reach a point where I just DID it. I could debate it forever and not have a camera, or I could deal with the fact that everything I worried about is true, but doesn't matter, and have a camera.

Now, if I could just apply that to important things.

Why We Don't Have A House

We like our toys. This is the TardisUSB port on my desk at work. We have one at home that we got about 6 months ago from Britain. Now they're available here at Newbury Comics so my husband got one last week and I decided I needed one too. The little construction site pieces came from one of those box kits you can get at Border's or Barnes and Noble. I love those. We have a Zen Garden in a box, a Gong in a Box and Stonehenge in a Box.

This is a small collection of miniature things I keep at my desk (the fire extinguisher squirts water--my husband got it as a Christmas gift from his boss last year). So you're painting and keeping a fire extinguisher nearby for safety when you decide to kick off your Birkenstocks and eat some ice cream with Dr. Pepper. I should have put in something for scale. The little shoes are for massage and actually work really well in the late afternoons when I've been hunched over my desk. They say they fit on thumbs, but I have to put my…

In the Bleak Midwinter (A Midwinter's Tale)

This is one of those little Kenneth Branagh films that disappear into the aether. I'd always wanted to see it, but apparently it wasn't on DVD for sometime. So it came on TV last week and we made a point of watching it.

It has a great cast, many of the people he was making his "actual" Hamlet with around the same time, Richard Briers, Michael Maloney, Julia Sawalah, Celia Imrie and John Sessions (as the actor playing Gertrude no less). Also quite amusing cameos by Jennifer Saunders and Joan Collins (yes, Joan Collins).

The plot is basic--let's put on a show, only it's a slapshot version of Hamlet staged over Christmas to raise funds for a church, by an out of work actor. The only other actors he can get are also unemployed (read bad actors). Because in Britain most actors are working in pantos at Christmastime. The panto is a fairytale or other children's story done with as much innuendo and topical reference as possible. EVERYBODY does Christmas panto, fro…

Longford

We watched this HBO film last week. It was a difficult film and it was a film which delicately managed to give no answer.

Lord Longford was a member of the House of Lords several times over, a devout Christian and converted Catholic who devoted much of his life to prison visits and championing prisoner's rights. In the late 60's he started visiting Myra Hindley.

It's hard to describe for people who haven't studied British History how hated Myra Hindley was and actually still is. Her name is on a par with John Wayne Gasey or Jeffrey Dahmer in America. She and her lover Ian Brady murdered 5 children and buried the bodies on the moors. Three were under 10 and two were adolescents.

Hindley and Brady were considered monsters and it was only because of the abolition of the death penalty, a mere weeks before their trial, that they were not put to death. They were both given life sentences, but life was considered to be 21 years.

Longford was played by Jim Broadbent and…

What is Art, and Who is he?

http://mirroruptolife.blogspot.com/2007/09/lights-lights.html

There's an unintentional personal joke in there for Mirror, but it's an interesting discussion.

"Art is a man's name," as Warhol allegedly said.

As I said in my comments, "but I like Duchamp" and I don't like Rothko, and I'm not so fond of Pollack, but I'm way ahead of my mother who can only appreciate representational art. Is this artist, Martin Creed, laughing all the way to the bank (as my parents used to say), or is he on to something. He does seem to have an odd vision of all the canvases and statues stacked up and taking up space.

Theater art for instance is about both what is there and what isn't there. Negative space to use the general term, which can mean both the white or empty space on a canvas, or the literal empty space on stage where there are n actors or set. This is then the ultimate piece of negative space with no "positive space" to surround it or …

History

There is a new book called, "Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History," written by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. And yes, that is the bumper sticker and t-shirt slogan, but Ulrich is the actual author of the phrase in a 1976 essay. Her new book is not an exhortation to women, but rather an actual study of some less polite women of history such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and also Virginia Woolf.

I was reading the review (because the review is just as good, right? Kidding! Kidding.) and was struck by this phrase:
History is a conversation and sometimes a shouting match between present and past, though often the voices we most want to hear are barely audible.

Isn't that exquisite?

I wish I read more non-fiction, but I find it a slower read, like surfing the internet--things lead to other things, things to be checked, looked up, references followed, etc.

I have friends who claim to read only non-fiction (although I might argue that some non-fiction IS fiction). …

Intimate Details

Red Queen recently won a rather amazing prize from her job where she gets to go to a spa with a few of her friends and she has graciously chosen me as one of those friends.

I'm very excited. It's October 14th, so one week before I leave for Nashville and I'm sure I will need the facial, back cleansing and massage and that it will help me gear up for the trip.

Here's my dilemma:
Do I really want people to look at my skin that closely. I don't like my skin very much. I had bad acne and have lots of scars and gunk in the pores. I don't like to have bare skin in public.

Isn't that silly?

Musing has explored this question recently, here and here. Why do we worry about what total strangers think of us? As if we are somehow abnormal? As if they (the viewers) are not also plagued with body odor and excess hair and gunk in their pores. As if they are not worrying about how we view them.

I have felt obliged to use my skin lotion more religiously to try and reverse…

More on Band Names

That last post reminded me of a time, a long time ago, when I first picked up Games Magazine. On reflection it had to have been some of the earliest issues, because the magazine started in 1977. I got a stack of them at a garage sale. Yes, used Games Magazine is a rather sad purchase but the previous owner seemed to be interested in different puzzles than me (except for the crosswords which were pretty well shot.) The one I'm remembering had a cover puzzle to guess the bands from the pictures. What's funny is at the time (I was 9 or 10) I didn't listen to rock and roll and neither did my parents so these bands with their exotic names were impossible for me to guess--I didn't know what I was aiming at.

A few years later when I did start listening to rock and roll and started to hear band names regularly (if not the bands themselves) I suddenly realized what the bands must have been.
See if you can guess (these are 70's bands for the most part).

A picture of a black smi…

Books & Bands

A newsletter on webdesign had a contest to mash-up band names with book names--though it seems to have expanded to all literature.

My personal favorite is:
Horton Hears a Hoobastank

But there are many others bubbling under:
The Who Moved my Cheese (The Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf is nice too)
Courtney Love in the Time of Cholera
Wallflowers for Algernon
Bleak Housemartins

I like the ones that just merge, but this is good too:
One Fish, Two Fish, Hootie and the Blowfish (because the rhythm works)

For the 80's girl in me:
The Joy Division Luck Club
The Elements of Style Council
A Kraftwerk Orange (which is so great I'm surprised the band never used it for an album name)
The Jesus and Mary Chain of Command
Everything But the Girl, Interrupted
The Five People You Meet in Heaven 17
The Natalie Merchant of Venice
Romeo Void and Juliet
The Motels New Hampshire (that one's stretching it, but it's funny)
At Play in the Fields of the Lords of the New Church (and also At Play in the Magnetic F…

Musical Deja-Vu

During his encore, Thomas Dolby said he was going to sing a song that he said he'd been asked to sing at his uncle's wedding. It turned out to be the old standard, "Sway With Me." He sang it with great silliness, waving one of those little gourd/bead percussion things around and dancing. Now, the funny thing is that I had heard "Sway With Me" on Sunday afternoon. (Sidenote: Despite my knowledge of old standards, the first time I can remember hearing "Sway With Me" was in the movie Dark City when Jennifer Connolly sang it.)

Last week I heard Billy Joel's "Longest Time" twice in one day, once in a restaurant and once in my car. Now, I could understand hearing something current twice or even more times in one day, but "Longest Time"? From 1983? How many rock songs are there out there? What are the odds? (Sidenote: My secret Hyde fantasy number 14 involves him doing karaoke of Billy Joel since he says his first album…

Thomas Dolby

Oh, bliss.

I finally saw Thomas Dolby play, live and in person! My husband saw him for the first time since 1988. He (Dolby) said he would try not to be away for quite so long next time.

I've added his blog to the sidebar--absurdly it never occurred to me to go looking for a blog from him. Given his fondness for and skill in technology I should have guessed he would have a blog. Duh. He even mentions the Steampunk laptop referred to here: Steampunk Post.

It was in a tiny club so we were only one person back from the stage (my fault for not letting us get there earlier). My husband has a picture from his phone (I'll try and get it up here). We got there at 8:45. He took the stage at 9:15 and played until about 10:45. The first half was just Dolby on his keyboards. As you can see from his post about this tour he's been having some technological problems. Despite that it's fascinating to watch him set up a song--he would lay in the rhythm and the samples and start playing th…

Marcel Marceau

And now another luminary is gone.

I had the privilege of seeing him twice at the ART (I always enjoy the touring companies that come through there--for Mirror) in excellent seats where I could see every nuance. I saw him on his farewell tour two years ago.

Like so many once fine things, mime has been reduced by poor imitators, but there was only one Marcel Marceau. He showed what the art form was meant to be.

Trivia:
He was in Barbarella.
He says the only spoken word in Mel Brook's silent movie.

A moment of silence.

I'm it (eep!)

Patrick at Writing Life 3 has tagged me for a difficult meme.

http://writinglife3.blogspot.com/2007/09/new-meme-five-strengths.html

Name 5 of your strengths as a writer...
This is difficult because I don't feel like a writer, just a blogger.

1. Interest in a great number of things. I think about and do research on all sorts of things.

2. A good way with words--with the way they sound together

3. A randomness that allows me to connect disparate thoughts and ideas and see how they are connected

4. A good vocabulary from reading such a range of novels and non-fiction from different times and different genres.

5. A lot of ideas both fiction and non-fiction.

God, that was hard.


I tag Mirror, Musing and Matt (and not for the alliteration).




I recently got this in a newsletter.

Are you burdened by the copywriter’s curse?
Many a copywriter is hindered with a trait that damages productivity and constrains our ultimate earning potential. We here at Copyblogger may actually be guilty of agitating t…

Happily Ever After

Interestingly, in light of what I wrote below about the realities inside famous novels (and plays) I came across an essay by Doris Lessing about Jane Austen. In it she questioned whether there really could have been the happy ending:

"And now here comes my personal caveat, but I am not the only one to think Darcy would not marry Elizabeth. Aristocrats do not marry poor middle-class girls much encumbered with disagreeable relatives. Yes, you believe it for the space and time of the tale, and that is all that is needed...Very beautiful girls, from nowhere, marrying lords in their castles? It all appeals to our nursery memories."

It's a fascinating little essay in a book of her random essays on a huge variety of topics. I picked it up as a bargain book from B&N. Rather like reading a blog.

One thing that she pinpoints is the absurd way Austen is sometimes taught--by people who don't know the time period to people who cannot imagine it. I remember at one point in…

Madeleine L'Engle

And now Madeline L'Engle has died. She was 88. I never met her, but her books were very important to me.
One of my husband's newsletters, "The Wittenburg Door," said that J.R.R. and C.S will be pulling up a chair in heaven for her.
I hope so. I sincerely hope so.

My September 11th Poem

I suspect most poets have one. This is mine.


After September 11, 2001

Oh, God,
You end with a mighty sob
That should instead shake
Nations to the core.
What have we done?
What have we done?
If God was not dead before,
Surely he is now,
With a stake driven to the heart
That is not self-inflicted.
No one may call it that.
Humanity itself the suspect,
Victim, law and prisoner.
How many death sentences
For these crimes?
How many life times in these prisons?
How many lives
To erase, to balance, to ease,
The trenches, the ditches, the ovens,
The jungle, the desert, the city.
The heavenly fire (oh, do not give it such a name),
The death in golden jars and in the flesh,
Those willing to die, and those willing to let them.
Who knew that humans,
Could have so much pain in them.
I am nothing in this but witness.

New Guilty Pleasure

Ninja Warriors on G-4 (the station for gamers). Maybe it's my current fondness for Japanese things (and men), or the fact that since most of the play-by-play is in Japanese it's not as annoying as American play-by-play, or the fact that these guys are really in amazing physical condition, but I find myself totally drawn into it as I'm working (and yes, I didn't follow any sort of parallelism there). There's another show that was annoying because it was dubbed with stupid American commentary where ordinary Japanese men and women (Nihon-jin) would try to do things that cartoons normally do. I didn't enjoy it as much, but these guys are serious athletes--just doing things that are really bizarre--like clinging to rolling logs and tension walking through tubes. Scary.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJmCem8qbTE

And, of course, it's all over water.

Observations

Dorian Gray and Sybil Vane would not have had a happy marriage.

Tess should have killed Angel.

Romeo and Juliet would have grown to hate each other.

Doctor Bovary deserved better.

Feel free to add some.

200 Posts

This is my 200th post of the year.

My next post will be the 200th since I started trying to write (on average) every day.

I think it's helping me as a writer. Just as I think writing for work is helping me as a writer. Might get somewhere in a few years.

On Happiness

For work I was thumbing through a book about "Life Planning" within financial planning--that is, the idea that you need to define what you are saving money for--what are your dreams and desires, how can you achieve those dreams through financial planning. The book is the Kinder Method, and it's very ... granola, for want of a better term. Feels like Hippie-speak.

Which makes me gag a little. Sometimes I think I'm too cynical for my company.

I also recently read that people in the arts are generally less happy--because success is dependent on so many other factors, factors out of one's own control. Happiness is about accepting where one is every minute and thereby feeling in control of one's life.

I drink a tea called Honest Tea (ha ha) that puts little quotes in the cap. One that keeps coming up for me is along the lines of, "Optimists may sometimes sound silly, but cynics always sound cynical."

The Band Wagon

This is one of my least liked musicals of the 1950's and I'm going to sound like a crazy snob when I tell you why.

Oh, it's lovely to look at (Vincent Minelli directing), and watching Fred and Cyd dance is always worth it, but it sucks as a modern musical. There are a lot of musicals of the 1950's that always make me think that the composers and librettists/lyricists were cleaning out their unused songs. So it becomes a, "Hey, let's put on a musical," show. How would "Triplets," "Louisiana Hay Ride" and "Dancing in the Dark" be in the same show? I like the musical to be intrinsic--organic if you will. The lyrics continuing the story. This is why Camelot and My Fair Lady are two of my favorite musicals and Singin' in the Rain isn't. Of course, better standard torch songs come out of "review" type shows. I just feel like the whole point in the progression of the American Musical from Show Boat to Oklahoma to So…

Mad Men and life

I realize that in some ways as I'm watching Mad Men, I'm learning how to do my job.

Both to write adverting--find the benefit beyond the product, but also how to pitch. Don Draper walks like a God, talks like a God and sells like every idea is perfect--even when he doesn't entirely believe it himself. I don't know how to do that yet. I'm working on it.

Right now I'm trying to write some copy and I can't seem to do it because I don't actually think our company's special or groundbreaking--but I need to say that it is. I can't write--come to us, we're just like everyone else only smaller. Come to us-we're the lesser of many evils?

Of course I don't think my company is evil. I just don't think it works as well as it should.

I certainly don't want to be Don. There is much commentary at IMDB about how none of the characters are likable. Sometimes they're frighteningly creepy.

One thing that Don did in a recent episode w…

Hot Fuzz

Watched this dark British Comedy last night. ADORED IT! Liked it only marginally less than Shaun of the Dead. People criticized it for suddenly becoming zany in the second half, but I think it was the fact that the reality of the first part was so meticulously detailed--pointing out that policemen do not jump through the air firing their guns--was hat made the second part, where they do just that, funny. The commitment of the actors, particularly co-writer Simon Peg, was superb (and what makes me dislike most American comedies--Ben Stiller, checking out and pointing out how funny he's supposed to be). I've seen him be a variety of nebbishes over the years and it was fun to see him be a "hero."

And then the range of actors in cameos!!! Billie Whitelaw??? The woman Beckett described as the "perfect actress." (Although being perfect for Beckett is an odd definition. I like Whitelaw very much, but I've never seen her in Beckett.) Timothy Dalton ha…

Visceral Reading

I had an odd moment a few weeks ago. I was thumbing through an independent comic and I came across a couple of panels that disturbed me deeply. It's too complicated to go into what the comic was about--a short summary is that it was a satire on both the early studio system and it's abuse of actors (many actors were permanently maimed undergoing experimental cosmetic surgery) and the communist witch hunts (a Bugs Bunny type figure is shown embracing Ron and Nancy). I guess that didn't end up being that short. Anyway, the image was so disturbing that I went back a week later to read the whole thing, because it haunted me--I know that sounds contradictory, but I needed to lay it to rest.

But the strange thing is that reading it gave me a strange sensation, almost out of body--I could picture a desert city, with hot Santa Anna winds blowing across 1930's cars. I've gotten this same feeling from books by Tim Powers--but this is because Tim describes LA of the 30&#…

Grace Paley

Writer, Grace Paley died on August 22nd. I met her when I was in college. I have her autograph in the collection of her collections, The Collected Stories. I also have Begin Again, Collected Poems.

Revisiting the poems I understand them better over ten years later. I may grow to understand them even more as years go by:

Life
Some people set themselves tasks
other people say do anything only life
still others say
oh oh I will never forget you event of my first life


The Nature of This City
Children walking with their grandmothers
talk foreign languages
that is the nature of this city
and also this country

Talk is cheap but comes in variety
and witnessing dialect
there is a rule for all
and in each sentence a perfect grammar

The stories are like no one else's. The voice is New York and working class and Jewish. It is a mother's voice and a woman's voice. Nothing much happens in her stories, and that makes her books something to dip in and out of, because what they are is an examination of th…

Guinness is HOME

He's very dazed and confused. They kept him until 5 pm. He keeps making snuffly noises instead of barking. They've shaved a patch on his back and his right paw. He hasn't wanted me to look at his belly yet. I'm having trouble getting him to drink water which is worrying. My husband is out getting him pain meds right now.

Edit: Drank a saucer of water, took the pain med, and let me look at his tummy. Oh, he looks like Frankenweenie! Poor thing. It's a good thing dogs aren't vain.