Seasonal Affective Disorder! As the days get shorter, I get crankier. But long early evenings are perfect for watching "The Fellowship of the Ring" extended edition DVD over and over again. First watch the movie, then watch the movie with director's commentary, then watch the movie with cast commentary, then watch the movie with designer's commentary, then watch the two disks of Appendices. By the time you're done the daffodils will be out. The Ghostbusters DVD is pretty good too. I had no idea that Dan Aykroyd is a crazy biker dude with a military checkpoint outside his Martha's Vineyard home and a camo-painted bunker in the basement.
My weblog has fallen into disrepair because I no longer work in front of a computer all day long. I do not mean to imply that when I did hold that particular job I actively sought interesting stuff to add to "Writer's Block." But looking up (or really, "googling") information on books and faculty and academic research always led to other neat-o websites that I could not help but note, and usually read.
These days I have no way to stumble happily upon great websites; instead I use the internet as a glorified dictionary. My browser bookmarks reflect the ephemera of various short-lived obsessions and hobbies, such as where Lali Puna are playing, info on Rug Hooking Magazine, and downloads of Indian Movie Music. My latest interest is "how to smoke a pipe." My kinesiologist tells me that my body doesn't mind tobacco, but hates the paper in cigarettes so I should use a pipe instead. A thoughtful friend gave me a new corncob pipe and some screens, but I have no idea what to do next. Can I use American Spirit looseleaf tobacco in a pipe, or do I have to get that stringy sweet-smelling pipe tobacco? Is it true that you're not supposed to inhale? (As if!) The What You Need to Smoke a Pipe page at www.pipes.org somewhat useful, but it doesn't say anything about screens or inhaling. I need a crotchety uncle or grandfather to show me the ropes and someday, when I'm showing promise, give me my very own pipe tool with a little miniature shovel and tamper and cleaning nail. Or maybe I should just order a hookah from Turkey.
So far the novel-writing thing isn't working out. Instead I seem to be heading directly into middle aged-ness. For example I am listening to an inordinate amount of Harry Connick, Jr. (he really sounds like Mel "The Velvet Fog" Torme!). And I finished Shirley Maclaine's Hollywood autobiography (Danny Kaye was such a romantic--I just KNEW it!) which was, like me, more introverted than racy. I have seriously considered buying things online like movie soundtracks (the soundtrack to Grease, for example), and bath salts (Batherapy comes in 20 pound buckets!). The metal-studded belt doesn't seem to be keeping me as young as micro-liposuction might (I read about this in Vogue--maybe I'll get a subscription in my downward spiral towards total mediocrity!).
Perhaps I am still getting used to my new lifestyle. I am only working three days a week now, leaving a healthy and mind-bogglingly long chunk of time to accomplish my goal, which is to make money by doing it myself. What is "it" in particular? If novel-writing doesn't pan out, I may go into the craft business--people from New York City seem to like New England themed items like hooked rugs and chunky mittens. I could make them at home while listening to audiobooks and sell the results for $20 per square inch. However this has been my first week of having four days off in a row; I have spent most of my new free time doing laundry.
I spent two weeks in October on a "detox diet," following a Gaia Herbs program that involves swallowing both a fiber mix and an herbal extract capsule twice a day, and also consuming only soy products, fresh vegetables, whole grains, and green tea. During the two weeks I did nothing but bitch and moan and find new ways to eat tofu, but by the end I really felt a terrific INNER ENERGY coursing through my being...I felt calm and resilient and in order. Then I started a two week retox founded on wine and cheese and beer and coffee and croissants, and now I am just as cranky and conflicted as always. Woohoo!
Pagan rituals seem complicated, perhaps just because they are less familiar than receiving the eucharist or hiding the afikomen. It is suggested that Hallowe'en be celebrated by leaving a door open so the friendly dead can come visit, then putting apples and hazelnuts in a cauldron, invoking the blessings of the Celtic New Year, prophesying the coming twelvemonth, and blessing the living, the dead, and the yet-to-be-born.
Along with casting a circle, propitiating the elements, and speaking the prescribed (or spontaneous) words, this is a lot to remember. A little web research into this ancient festival (with the door open, sure) seems almost as dedicated, no? Here are a few things I've rooted up about Samhain (apparently pronounced "Sown," rhymes with "gown"), the Festival of the Dead, when the Lord of Misrule and the Crone Wisewoman dish out tricks and visions.
The Great Wheel "Samhain is the festival of the dead and is also known as Hallows, or AllHallow's Eve. It is the Witches New Year.The veil between the worlds of the living and of the dead are thin. It is a time to honor the ancestors and to honor the Lady of Death Herself. Samhain is the feast of The Dark Goddess, She who claims all living as her children. It is the death of the Year. There is a profound stillness that occurs between Samhain and Yule, when the Golden Solstice Child is born."
Hallow's Eve Musings by Karri Ann Allrich "As the year’s Wheel once again turns our harvest into winter, our spiritual focus shifts inward. Our journey moves us away from the territory of daylight into the realm of shadows. October can be cold and windy here on the New England shore. The Celtic New Year, known as Samhain, is a deliciously dark and witchy time, rich with seasonal delights that stir the soul. Autumn leaves have turned with the magic of the Crone's alchemy - gold, orange and scarlet. Fall rain has swept the beaches bare. Pitch black crows gather in murders and scour the fields of mowed sunflowers. The trees at dusk sway and beckon those who dare to enter the dark woods of childhood. Autumn's joys are bittersweet. The early dark floods many of us with an undertow of loss. Emotions feel intensified, fed by energies dark and unknown. This is Shadow territory. And we are in the thick of it."
Rae Beth, author of The Wiccan Path, writes:
"Try standing under a Yew tree and saying,
Part the veils
between the worlds.
Open doors in hollow hills.
Let the mounds be emptying.
Let the spirits dance and sing.
Let the wild communion bring
a freedom, wisdom,
A good time for this would be twilight on October 31st, or, for those with very strong nerves, midnight.”
Finally, there is the all important element of CANDY. After much thought in the "Hallowe'en Headquarters" aisle at the supermarket, we opted for mini Reese's peanut butter cups and a bag of "Fun Size" Three Musketeers. Some little kid dressed like a bee took most of my Three Musketeers. I called her honey in a sarcastic manner, as in "You took all my Three Musketeers HONEY." Fortunately I had stashed some around the kitchen first. This hearkens back to the ancient Hallowe'en ritual of feasting on the best of everything before the season of cold and want and the root cellar takes hold. "Eat the best, store the rest."
Not having a phone line for almost two months is very educational. I have been writing letters to people and even sending them gifts. I was a crappy email correspondent anyway. We also don't have a television so after dinner we play Parcheesi or Black Jack or read books out loud. It feels just like the olden days out here in the sticks, yep!
I've also joined the local food co-op and earn my member's discount by washing dishes for two hours a month. It is a very meditative job and is also good for the complexion--lots of steam. Here is a short list of great coops along or near Route 2 (the only road we've ever known).
The Harvest Coop in Cambridge, MA, is a well-meaning establishment that has a cool cafe in front, lots of produce, and also a good vitamin section. There are nice bocconcini sandwiches in the refrigerated case across from the fish, I like to load these up with the roasted Mediterranean vegetables sold bulk from the olive bar.
Green Fields Market in Greenfield, MA is another hoppin' store--their eat-in section is on a second-floor balcony and they have an amazing selection of lip balm. Whoa.
Brattleboro, VT, is very proud of their coop. Their cheese section seems to be the best in the country and is run by a former Hollywood film director (or maybe it was TV). There are always hot entrees available to eat at tables or takeout (good for lazy or tired people) and there is a monthly "shareholders day" when they give out free coffee and samples and musical coop members perform for the lucky shoppers.
Just up route 91 is the Putney Coop in charming wee Putney. This is a low-key place with a popular bulletin board (need a catsitter? have a spare cabin?), great prices, and a cool location right across from the rib shack and down the road from the crossroads that is downtown Putney.
The crunchy lifestyle is lovely. However I try to balance things out by wearing a studded belt and knee-high pleather boots.
Presently reading two books by Edmund W.... here are some excerpts:
I was struck by the enormous reverence that the Algonquinites felt for Ring Lardner. He never mingled with them. He lived at Great Neck, Long Island, and came into town only for business; I never saw him at the Algonquin. He was somehow aloof and inscrutable, by nature rather saturnine, but a master whom all admired, though he was never present in person. It may be that all any such circle demands is such a presiding but invisible deity, who is assumed to regard them with a certain scorn.
Edmund Wilson, The Twenties, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1975, 48-49.
In Jean-Paul Sartre's words, his work habits with Simone de Beauvoir:
We worked from 9 a.m. till noon, when we went out to lunch. At 2 we came back and talked with our friends till four, when we got down to work again till eight. And after dinner people came to see us by appointment. It may seem strange, all this, but the Flore was like home to us: even when the air-raid alarm went off we would merely feign to leave and then climb up to the first floor and go on working...
Edmund White, The Flaneur, New York & London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2001. 20-21.
I'm thinking of writing a book about a guy named Tom who teaches at a fictional SUNY school. I have a notebook of unhelpful ideas from my first attempt back in March. For example a tiresome description of a local diner that is astonishingly similar to every other description of a local diner: "The waitress has dyed hair and a leathery nicotined face and a croaky voice and a nasal local accent." God help me from including such a witless and sodden stereotype in anything.
I have become a jill-of-all-trades, including taking minutes at a meeting of the local biodiesel cooperative, designing a website for a local retailer, and dogsitting an elderly black lab for five days. This last was a life-changing experience--since the dog can't see I talked to him constantly so he'd know where I was. He is a large and happy and slow fellow whose blank eyes and furry girth gradually convinced me that he is a tranquil bodhisattva dog here on earth to teach the simultaneous value and futility of life. During our walks I told him my plans and my concerns. I wondered what he was thinking. Does he remember the green fields and dead ducks of puppyhood? Does blindness and slowness bother or frustrate him? Does he live simply in each moment, listening to HBO, lumbering downstairs for a walk, smelling clumps of grass and marking them with pee, standing in the brook to cool his belly, rolling in the grass growling, then back upstairs for more lying in the living room? I should spend time with elderly persons of my own species.
In fact I have been obsessed with human mortality and the trials of existence since leaving Boston. Fortunately I have a good store of Woody Allen movies to help me interpret my angst. For example, Alvy Singer's joke in Annie Hall:
Two elderly women are at a Catskill Mountain resort. And one of 'em says: 'Boy, the food in this place is really terrible.' The other one says: 'Yeah, I know. And such small portions.' Well, that's essentially how I feel about life. Full of loneliness and misery and suffering and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly.
And in Love and Death Sonja counsels:
Natasha, to love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But, then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer, to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love, to be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy, therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness. I hope you're getting this down.
Long pause due to leaving my job, packing up all of my stuff (where did it all COME FROM?), and moving to another state. I have been claiming that this plan will put me just where I need to be in order to write a kick-ass book, or a decent story, or even just a page of something. So far, the only thing that has come easily is not working. I have moved far from my friends to a place of dubious cultural value, given up my Massachusetts license plates (I now have to appear to drive with some sort of plan rather than the randomly aggressive driving style to which I've become accustomed), and I've weaned myself of the desire to earn any income. I am passing time by marking contests and awards in the back section of Poets & Writers magazine. I calculate that I just need to turn out two short stories per month and win 100 per cent of contests entered and I'll never have to work again!
Being a total geek I recently became addicted to Googlewhacking, a game in which you plug pairs of words into Google to find a single search result. I have spent a horrifying amount of time typing different pairs of words involving "camaraderie," "grosgrain," "lenticular," and "defenestrate" into Google to see what comes up. There is a googlewhack rule that if the single search result is a dictionary or list of obscure words, it doesn't count. If you find a single match, earn a brief moment of fame by entering it on the googlewhack website where it will perch at the top of the list for about three seconds until someone else posts something.
This is a more exciting variation of my Books-in-Print game, which involved typing random ISBNs into a BIP database to see if I could come up with a legitimate one. I have done this for hours, and even cheated by using real publisher prefixes, but I have never been able to come up with a bona fide ISBN just by guessing.
Another exciting Google game I've invented: type a random phrase, in quotation marks, into Google and marvel at the galaxy of mad crap that's freely available on the web. I tried "I hired a detective," and Google offered the following intriguing matches:
*I don't want Mark to know that I hired a detective to find him as I have already been accused of stalking by the previous detective.
*I hired a detective, but there are so many Colemans, and Jim is a pretty common name. We narrowed it down to about a thousand," the drummer said.
*He never knew him, so I figured I'd find out more. I hired a detective to look into it for me. Selena (nervous): Oh that's great. Isn't it great, Buzz?
*You can’t stop me. Nothing can stop me. **** I hired a detective, the kind who thought his badge represented a job rather than any moral obligation.
*in vane. The goats were the next to help. The goats were selling well. And I hired a detective to come to the house. Told him the
*I hired a detective and he discovered that she had been stung by a bee while camping and had died of anaphylactic shock on the way to the hospital.
*I asked your friends to tell me if they knew where you were, they said they thought that you were ill. I hired a detective to try and find out where you are.
*WELL YOU NEVER REALLY LOVED ME AND YOU KNOW THAT THAT'S THE TRUTH I HIRED A DETECTIVE AND BABY HERE'S THE PROOF I PHOTO OF YOU DANCING WITH THE GUY DOWN AT THE
I spent last weekend in Calgary, Alberta, and my dear relatives correctly assumed that I would most enjoy seeing the "weird" side of Alberta. And so we did. We took two day trips with packed sandwiches. The first day we went north--the featured stop was the Torrington Prairie Gopher Hole Museum. The town of Torrington has put itself on the map by mounting an exhibit of stuffed, dressed-up gophers taking part in little scenes, like hitting a baseball, going to church, camping in bikinis, driving chuck wagons, and working at the forge. Some of the gophers had little speech balloons: I especially like the gopher dressed as a clown standing in the middle of an empty street and pulling a little red wagon. The diorama was called "Parade," and the gopher wonders, "Am I in the right town?"
After we took pictures of the 12-foot gopher statue at the outskirts of town, we went on to GuZoo, a disturbing outdoor zoo where the eccentric owners keep all manner of animals that do not belong in provincial Alberta. Lions, lynx, camels, tigers, yaks, a sullen muskox, a trio of kittens (one disemboweled), rabbits and dead rabbits, some Chilean rodents, monkeys, very very sad looking raccoons--all are kept in cages for anyone to pelt with buns (perhaps their only sustenance) and ogle. We were amazed that a) you can actually get in the cage with most animals and pick them up if you like, and that b) the place was still in operation since it seemed rather...sketchy.
Spirits still high, though, we pushed on to badlands country. The Red Deer River has spent a lot of time carving coulees and hoodoos and buttes out of the multi-coloured sedimentary rock around Drumheller, Alberta. The result is a beautiful canyon with black coal layers, red layers, white and green clay layers, and a pleasant smell of sagebrush everywhere. We stopped in Drumheller so my niece and two nephews could climb Dino 2000, which is a hollow dinosaur installation EVEN BIGGER than the dinosaur in "Pee Wee's Big Adventure." Afterwards we dined at the All You Can Eat Western/Chinese buffet at a restaurant called Fred & Barney's, next to the Reptile Museum.
On the way home we passed a large statue in Beiseker, Alberta--their town mascot is "Squirt the Skunk." Many many Canadian towns sport Large Roadside Attractions. Someday I would like to make a pilgrimage to some of the more bizarre ones, like the giant perogie or the world's largest ball of string.
The next day, Sunday, we traveled in the opposite direction for a SURPRISE. It turned out to be the small but fascinating town of Vulcan, Alberta, which has recently been done up in a Star Trek theme. The tourist information kiosk, in particular, is built to resemble an alien craft, and inside you can take your picture with any assortment of three different Star Trek crews. (I chose Spock, Kirk, Bones, and Picard, of course.) Sadly it was raining quite heavily, so after a hasty picnic in a wet abandoned playground, we progressed to Nanton. Here we stopped at the Lancaster Museum, mainly because my father had insisted on visiting the same place a few years before he died. Our family has a soft spot for the Avro Lancaster bomber because our dad worked in the Lancaster factory in Ontario during WWII. He did not do anything particularly difficult there--I think he drilled holes in something. Still, it is interesting to think of our pa taking part in the great war effort. We paid extra to tour the Lancaster at the Nanton museum and saw where the poor cold rear gunner has to sit for ten hours at a time, and also we noted the huge bomb bays and the rotating midships gun-bay thingy. (It's like the part of the Millennium Falcon where you sit and shoot in all directions, except it's in the middle of a huge four-propellor plane and you have to do everything standing up.)
Because it was a rainy day we next went bowling. From living in Massachusetts for some time I have taken quite a fancy to candle-pin bowling, which most people think is some messed up mutant form of the sport. But in High River, Alberta, I met an even stranger bowling variant: Five Pin Bowling. The ball is the size of a candle-pin ball, but the pins are the shape of ten-pin pins. The result is PRETTY FRICKIN' FUN, and I managed to pull into the lead during my last two rolls by bowling two strikes in a row. yessir.
Last we stopped near Okotoks to look at a rock. Sounds strange, but it is a glacial erratic of great geological significance, or something. Basically we climbed on the rocks, hallooed at each other, and threw a ball for the dog over and over and over and over and over again. The short version: some glacier dropped the rocks after carrying them all the way from Jasper.
I have been in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, for four days, and am due to stay here for another SIX days before going to visit family in another part of the province. I am here for work, which means that I can order room service now and then. But it also means that I am forced to amuse myself alone in a foreign city. So far I have hit the famous West Edmonton Mall, where I saw "About a Boy" in one of the three movie theaters (I thought Hugh Grant looked alluringly haggard). I also viewed the wave pool and water slide complex before jumping on a bus back to downtown. Someone told me that Whyte Avenue was cool, sort of like Toronto's Bloor street near the Annex, but after I hiked for forty-five minutes to get there (including negotiating a troublesome wooded ravine), I discovered Whyte Ave is more like downtown Hyannis. The highlight of the afternoon was seeing the Peter the Positive Panda bus. It's some program for making children feel good about themselves and others, and the bus was covered with adorably crayoned posters of Peter the Positive Panda, with legends like "Saying Thank You is Important." Next I plan to check out the Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art at the Edmonton Art Gallery. And then, ummmmmmm, I'm looking forward to getting back to work next week.
I'm almost done with "Crazy From the Heat," the autobiography of David Lee Roth. It's possible there's something wrong with me, but I LOVE David Lee Roth and I always have. Recently I went with a friend of mine to meet her new boyfriend's friends. They had been drinking at a smoky bar for at least an hour before we got there, and their definitive test question for her was: "David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar?" What a brilliant way of separating wheat from whatever. The right answer is so obvious.
In fact I think that a picture of David Lee Roth played a key role in my developing sexuality because I suddenly realized that boys were not "icky," but instead were "aaaaah cool." I kept the picture in the top drawer of my pink desk along with my Hello Kitty wallet and worried that my mother might find it...it was a photo of Diamond Dave standing in a thigh-high blue ocean with his shorts rolled down so you could see his six-pack. I think it was 1985--a heady time. I've learned from the autobiography that he's 6 feet tall, has read "Huckleberry Finn" 200 times, likes to wander around the Himalayas, and washes floors daily as some sort of zen karate discipline. David Lee you are a god. I have been unable to find any good David Lee Roth websites: the best/sickest would be if I could find that picture from when I was 13. There is something called The Diamond David Lee Roth Army, but it's not very helpful. Drop me a line at logomachia at hotmail dot com if you find details, man.
I love it when celebrities do stuff other than the thing they're famous for. I am an avid collector of albums by singing movie stars--my favourite so far is "Pull Marine" by Isabelle Adjani. It was produced by Serge Gainsbourg and is exquisitely bad in a magical eighties way. Best song title: "Beau oui comme Bowie." Now I've also discovered celebrity e-commerce. We all know, for example, that Monica Lewinsky is a handbag-maker. (See her wares at
http://www.therealmonica.com.) And Kelley Deal makes handbags too. Her explanation for turning to crafts is hway better than anything Monica could come up with:
http://www.kelleydeal.net/handbags.htm. Also, two celebrity Tonys sell their work (or reproductions of it) through websites, Tony Curtis and Tony Bennett. I don't know if the phenomenon is sad (why would I buy a Tony Bennett painting except for the freakish fact that it's by Tony Bennett?) or cool (what better gift than "'The Nadia,' a Russian spy purse" straight from the hands of Kelley Deal?). Perhaps now I'll go listen to Marlene Dietrich sing "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top" in German ("Schlittenfahrt").
Posted on the walls of Paris, April 1871:
"Workers, do not be deceived. This is the great struggle. It is parasitism and labor, exploitation and production that are at stake. If you are tired of vegetating in ignorance and coughing in misery, if you want your sons to be men and not types of animals reared for the factory and the battlefield, if you no longer want your daughters--whom you cannot raise and protect as you would like--to be the instruments of pleasure in the hands of the aristocracy of wealth, if you would like to see the reign of Justice--workers, arise!"
I just finished Paris Babylon: The Story of the Paris Commune by Rupert Christiansen, and now I'm full of history. I'm not a communist or an anarchist or much of anything besides a mutinous product of the American education system. The book is an anecdotal chronology of the decadence of the Second Empire followed by the Franco-Prussian war followed by the Siege of Paris followed by the Paris Commune followed by the murder of thousands of Parisians associated with the Commune: in other words, the history of Paris from 1870-1871. What I appreciated most were the newspaper stories, the first person accounts, the gossip, the diary entries, the caricatures, and the photographs that the book includes. 1871 seems a muckle long time ago, but you could see the same pictures of ruined buildings and piled corpses in the newspaper today.
I became interested in the Commune when I visited the Cimitiere de la Pere Lachaise (sic) in 1994 and noticed a particular wall where hundreds of Communards were summarily executed when the interim government at Versailles decided to take back the city by force. I'd also read, maybe in a John Irving book or in Frederick Simoons' Eat Not This Flesh: Food Avoidances from Prehistory to the Present, that during the Siege of Paris, when the Prussians surrounded the city and cut off all supplies and communications, the Parisians slaughtered and ate horses, rats, mice, cats, dogs, and the rich folks dined on special cuts from zoo animals. Because there was no regular post, they used hot air balloons (which couldn't be steered very well) and carrier pigeons (to which they attached an early version of microfilm) to carry letters and messages. Once the siege was lifted after a sketchy agreement with Bismarck, the working class basically went crazy and took over the city, while the post-Louis Napoleon government moved to Versailles to let the Reds (as they are called in the book) hash it out amongst themselves. The Communards were pretty disorganized and devoted a lot of energy to speeches, posters, and elections, and seem to have been considered "scum" by the majority of the city. This is a very primitive encapsulation of what happened. For more information, try:
Northwestern University Library collections have some photos, caricatures, and other on-line images for browsing.
The University of New South Wales has a very informative site that includes a city map, brief history, other links, biographies, and images--including a photo of the cemetery wall mentioned above.
A brief life of Louise Michel, the outspoken female revolutionary who was exiled to New Caledonia after the Commune and lived until 1905.
A very brief (and therefore helpful) description of the other events leading up to the Paris Commune is at http://www.theotherside.co.uk/tm-heritage/background/prussian-war.htm.
The Marxists have a more detailed timeline of events from January 1870 to May 1871.
More on the pigeon post at http://www.cix.co.uk/~mhayhurst/jdhayhurst/pigeon/pigeon.html.
I think if there's ONE THING we learn from this it's the importance of having trained carrier pigeons ready at a moment's notice. While I'm building my solar-powered home and making fuel for my car from vegetable oil, you can bet I will be training birds to take messages to and from the compound just in case there's a revolution.
I went to a baseball game this weekend--the Red Sox WON 8-0. I haven't been to the church of baseball since the Blue Jays were kicking ass in the World Series. It was wicked fun and also a semi-religious experience what with the standing up and sitting down and screaming and singing at prescribed times. I realize that all of my baseball knowledge comes from multiple viewings of Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, A League of Their Own, and Naked Gun. Not all of these movies are reliable depictions of the sport. (I really hate most of A League of Their Own, for the record.) For baseball idiots like me (I actually asked, "Why is he called the 'designated hitter'?"), there is a handy interactive map of the field thingy at http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/bos/baseball_basics/bos_basics_on_the_field.jsp. Now I'm afraid I'll become obsessed with the Boston Red Sox just as I'm moving out of town. It seems a very comfortable thing to watch a game on a Saturday afternoon with the air conditioning on and a big pitcher of sangria. Final note: it was hard to watch the game without an overpowering urge to chew gum.
Next time: the locust theory of popular music, is food poisonous?, tiny record labels, the discreet charm of the local food co-op.
I swore I wasn't going to write an entry while at work, but before I go back out into the heat and lose my powers of thought, I want to mention yesterday's Palio race in Siena, Italy. It's an insane horse race that takes place twice a year (July 2 and August 16) between ten of the seventeen contrade that make up the town of Siena. A contrada can be defined geographically as a part of town, but contrada loyalty is an essential part of being Sienese. As a former resident of Geneseo, New York, which seems to be Siena's unofficial sister city in the US, I've found that http://www.comune.siena.it/ has good information about Siena in general and the race in particular (Istrice won yesterday--that would be the red, white, blue & black porcupine contrada). For further reading find a copy of La Terra in Piazza (it's in English) by Dundes and Falassi...a trove of Palio information for the obsessive, including songs, glossary, schedule of events, and index of contrada rivalries.
Today there's a wicked fierce thunder storm pounding Boston, and my mother told me not to use any appliances or a phone while there's lightning in the neighbourhood. I always imagined that if I did pick up the phone during a storm, a huge ball of fire would leap out of it and bounce around the room, like in Tintin and the Seven Crystal Balls. As I write this on an index card for later, safer transcription, I am using the "5-seconds-per-mile" formula to count how close the lightning is striking. According to my calculation, it is now...ZERO MILES AWAY.
I know in advance I'm not going to get anything "useful" done tonight because my pal KG is coming over for dinner. It's so hot out my lip balm has melted. KG has promised to buy me ice cream. Here's an easy recipe, bachelors:
Pesto Pasta with Shrimp
-boil 1 pound of pasta--the kinky kind is better than the straight kind.
-thaw a little baggie of tiny (i.e. cheap) frozen shrimp, or open & drain a can of those weird little salad shrimp.
-get one of those 6 ounce containers of pesto. Trader Joe's sells cheap ones, and so does Bread & Circus sometimes. (Additional note: As of 2002 I would not pay more than $2.99 for 6 ounces of pesto. When you find it at this price stock up--it freezes well and is nice in sandwiches.)
Combine these three ingredients.
If you like add some sundried tomatoes (soak in the hot pasta water), a little cream, chopped-up artichoke hearts, bits of sauteed chicken, extra parmesan, steamed broccoli, whatnot.
I hope to post some of the already-published Bachelor's Kitchen episodes on the discontent site soon. Just as soon as I have several weeks to spare.
P.S. A great mp3 to get you cooking: http://www.craphound.com/peVdmr.mp3
I'm about to run off to the country for the weekend but I have to mention my latest distraction: Henry Jenkins (MIT Prof) has written an article called "Quentin Tarantino's Star Wars?: Digital Cinema, Media Convergence, and Participatory Culture." It's an interesting article, but the best part is the list at the bottom of the page...links to insane Star Wars fan cinema like "Kung-Fu Kenobi" and "Trooper Clerks." I have had to stop viewing these at work because I kept suspiciously laughing while looking at my monitor.
So I'm moving to the country in the fall. My two main goals are to find a sweet place to live where I can have a garden and to get myself a dog. I have always fantasized about having a dachshund, and am continually trolling listings of dachshunds for adoption at the Dachshund Rescue Web Page, Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue, and Dachshund Rescue of North America. Of course this is all entirely premature because if I found the perfect beast, I wouldn't have anywhere to put it until September. But I can spend this intervening time getting to know the breed, investing in chew toys, and having my clan's tartan made into a wee dog coat...
Saturday? Great! A whole day to write. It's a cold, rainy Saturday--the best kind. But first, I must clean my room. I must do some laundry. I must make a list of errands:
*Staples: get new ink cartridge, plastic file-box, cardboard magazine holders.
*Bread & Circus: organic vegetables, fancy cheddar, hummus, olive oil.
*Mall Discount Liquor: retsina so I can offer a glass of w in the evening.
*library: return Marie Antoinette book and get out five other books about French history (fortunately my phases are short-lived, otherwise I'd be reading The Garden of Eden again and despising adjectives.)
I sit down in front of the iMac. I open a Word document. I look out at the street. I look at the screen. I look at the street. I look at my sewing machine, which I have cleverly set up next to the iMac so I can switch from one machine to the other by moving my chair two feet. While I haven't been working on discontent I have found time to sew three shirts, two dresses, and four pairs of boxers. One of the dresses was a 1954 "Vintage Vogue" dress & bolero set that really impressed me with features like a pleated lining, encased buttonholes, and POCKETS. It made the McCall's and Simplicity patterns that I'd been using look wicked cheap.
A big part of sewing addiction is finding the right place to buy fabric. In downtown Boston, I highly recommend Winmil Fabrics on Chauncy street. It is by far the least scary and gross store in the fabric district, and they sell cotton for $3.99 a yard. They also have nice 60" bolts of dupioni silk in cool colors like flame and fuchsia and cornflower. For even cheaper cotton--like for making boxers or easy blouses--there's a Jo-Ann's near the Burlington mall that totally rocks. Also a good place to buy clusters of fake grapes or a glue gun or large quantities of vinyl if you're feeling super crafty. Finally, the Fabric Corner in Arlington has more cool cottons from about $8.99 up. They specialize in insane prints like desert hares among the cacti or knights posing before castles or southwestern vegetables. As a result the place is popular with the equally insane quilting & slipcover sets--hardy opinionated sisterhoods that can verge on carnivorous when closing time draws near. Overhead while standing in line: "...it was covered with cats playing in a jazz band. They were wearing shades and one was sitting on a stool so it could reach the bull fiddle. It was so funny! Totally adorable!" Yeah.
I like failure because it's easy. Also it can be disguised as other things, like procrastination, mysterious illnesses, or even industry ("I didn't do it yet because I've been REALLY BUSY.") Trying something is hard, and if you fail after trying, that's even worse. Think of all the work you've done, only to fail. Compared to that, going ahead and accepting failure right away is a cinch.
I'm always heartened by that part in Whit Stillman's "Metropolitan" where Charlie calls Fourier's utopia a "failure" because it ceased to exist, and Tom immediately replies that everyone ceases to exist, but not everyone is a failure. Of course Nick is my favourite character in that movie, and his take is even better: "I've always planned to be a failure anyway, that's why I plan to marry an extremely wealthy woman."
Really, in geologic time, is it that bad that a tiny 20-page zine is two months late? I should just stop berating myself and get to work. Except I really feel like pouring myself a Genny Cream Ale, aptly described on BeerAdvocate.com as a "good beer for a buck."