Friday, February 29, 2008
video friday: a monster a day
(UPDATE: Apparently the videos all fell apart yesterday, but I've since pieced them back together and they feel much better now. Sorry! Stoopid Interwebs...)

Sometimes, Very Short List is hit; other times, it's miss. Considering how I spent my entire bloody planning hour watching some guy turn a boatload of Rorschach-style ink blots into cartoony monsters at a rapid-fire pace, I'd say that - at least for me - yesterday's offering was a hit.

The following are my favorite three from the myriad monsters I watched Stefan G. Bucher create on his Daily Monster Site. The videos are a combination of Freudian-style psychoanalysis, Where the Wild Things Are and the fast-talking guy from those old Micro Machines commercials, and watching them is strangely addictive and absolutely absorbing...

Sigh...I wish I could draw...


(Which is how monsters say "have a good weekend!" in their monster talk. Or so I hear.)


Thursday, February 28, 2008
the price of caring
If you've spent any significant time shopping or talking shopping with me recently, then you've probably been bothered with one of my "please take means to reduce your plastic consumption if and when it's at all possible" speeches.   

(Which, for the record, I won't promise to stop making; however, I will apologize for how annoying I am for making them.  I know. I can't help it. It's just that, well, it's my planet too, buddy!)

Consequently, I've recently switched to an all-natural, no packaging whatsoever deodorant.  Of course, it's chemical and aluminum-free, so it essentially functions solely as a deodorant.  It contains talc, making it somewhat absorbent, but if you want to be truly sweat and odor-free you apparently need to play Russian roulette with whether or not aluminum causes breast cancer and/or Alzheimer's disease.  Certainly, I pondered these things before officially making the switch; however, the way I see it - precious few people seem concerned with my olfactory comfort, so I can afford to relax a bit about theirs.

Anyway, it's only been a few weeks riding the natural armpit train, and from what I can tell, the price of caring about both my long-term health and the environment is this:
  • $9
  • The stink of patchouli
  • Hence, being associated with a neo-hippie movement that stopped being fashionable at least ten years ago
  • Increased dampness
  • Heightened social paranoia
  • Slight burning
  • A matching set of scratched-up, very owie and occasionally even bloody armpits

Nonetheless, I'm stubbornly sticking with it.  In fact, I'm pushing forward and trying a solid, all-natural, no packaging whatsoever shampoo this very evening.  

What I'm saying is, I should be a bit easier to locate in a crowd now, what with my special, all-natural, burning and blood-spotted ... essence.  

So, in a weird sort of way, everyone wins!

I think.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008
extra for fat girls and redheads
Is it totally weird that I've always had a little crush on Vincent Gallo? But crush aside, even I wouldn't pay the $50,000 he's charging for a night of his "special company."

Because I'm a lady.

(Also, because I'm broke.)

oh no...
Le sigh!

Let's just say that I don't go to Chinatown for the food, exactly...

ugly? inbred? wanna be in a movie???
As a person who spent her formative years living in a “quaint” and “rustic” mountain area in Eastern Ohio, and who also has plenty of friends and relatives hailing from the great state of West Virginia, I found this story to be so ignorantly offensive that it’s almost humorous.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

A movie about to be filmed in Pittsburgh is casting Gothic characters -- including an albino-like girl and deformed people -- to depict West Virginia mountain people. That's the gist of an open casting call for paid extras for "Shelter," a horror film starring Julianne Moore that will begin shooting in Pittsburgh in March. The announcement -- which was sent out in a news release and posted on the casting company's Web site -- asked for people with the following attributes:

"Extraordinarily tall or short. Unusual body shapes, even physical abnormalities as long as there is normal mobility. Unusual facial features, especially eyes.” It also reported wanting “a 9-12-year-old Caucasian girl with an other-worldly look to her…Could be an albino or something along those lines..'Regular-looking' children should not attend this open call.'"

In an attempt to defend the casting call, the casting director said, "Some of these 'holler' people --because they are insular and clannish, and they don't leave their area -- there is literally inbreeding, and the people there often have a different kind of look. That's what we're trying to get."

Turns out the casting director was fired for being an ignorant ass. Imagine that.

Monday, February 25, 2008
monday book review: sharp teeth by toby barlow

Toby Barlow's version of Los Angeles is one that teems with werewolves who run in rival gangs, challenge Mexican crystal meth kingpins, change form at will and regardless of the moon’s cycle, and manage to go largely unnoticed by the human population. They infiltrate the city’s animal shelters, play bridge, surf, battle one another for dominance, build and destroy crime empires, and fall in love. And inexplicably, Barlow chooses to tell their story entirely in blank verse.

If you're anything like me, this all sounds way too good to be true; however, it's fortunately not.

When I first heard about Sharp Teeth – a book being simultaneously likened to The Sopranos, The Iliad, and An American Werewolf in London – I knew I had to read it. However, being a realist I approached it with a certain amount of hesitation; after all, to actually pull off a werewolf book written in verse and set in East LA with any semblance of seriousness would be quite an achievement. Miraculously, Barlow managed to avoid any number of possible pitfalls, and instead wrote the most original, fun, and unexpectedly beautiful books I’ve read in some time. It rocked my sock off, but if you're still hesitant to believe that Homer and Lycanthropes can both comfortably provide points of inspiration for the same book, here's a taste that will hopefully allay those fears and whet your appetite:

Annie had never promised him anything more
than a change, which was honestly all he wanted,
a new skin.
He wanted to strip away the pain but not the sadness,
he wanted to breathe real life into every memory
but still somehow let go,
he wanted to become something else
while holding on to everything he had.
All he had, it turned out, was love.
She was gone, but her love was still alive inside him.
It was the only thing keeping him on this earth,
the only reason he could find to continue,
to protect that one part of her that
still remained, her love for him,
the small ray of light that lay
within the shadowed hollows of his heart.

But he couldn't live without her,
so he took on another kind of life.
It was that simple.
So now he is simply something more
and nothing less.
See? A werewolf book can be eloquent, understated and beautiful. Who knew?

Sharp Teeth
Toby Barlow
2008, 309 pages

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oscar overview: written by other people, but approved of by me
I'm far too tired today to develop my own ideas, so instead here's a collection of thoughts expressed on other blogs written by other people, people who appear way more capable of expressing their post-Oscar night opinions than I could ever hope to be. So maybe I didn't say these things, but I agree with them all the same.

On Enchanted's three nominated songs:
If I never hear another song from Enchanted, I'm fine with that. Honestly. In fact, if there's a way to go back and erase my having heard them in the first place, I'm game, even if it means losing a few other nonessential brain functions.
- John Williams (A Special Way of Being Afraid)

Regarding Marion Cotillard taking home the Best Actress award:
She’s French, she made a really moving biopic that no one saw about singer no one’s heard of, and she’s coincidentally beautiful. La Vie en Rose was a movie for grown-ups, and the Academy ultimately is composed of people who want to feel like they’re making the most professionally respectable choice available. Cotillard’s winning out over Page doesn’t have anything to do with their respective performances; Cotillard is the classy choice, which means Page was never even in it.
- Daniel Carlson (Pajiba)

On Costume Design:
Thank god Elizabeth won for Costume Design. I was starting to worry no one would ever recognize the brilliance in recreating old, giant dresses.
- (I Watch Stuff)

On Jon Stewart as host/Marketa Irglova's acceptance speech:
One of the three best moments of the evening was when he escorted that nice Czech Once girl back out to give her thank-you speech. It was like the kids standing on their desks at the end of Dead Poets Society.
- David Edelstein (The Projectionist)

Regarding Tilda Swindon's Best Supporting Actress win:
I was really surprised that Cate Blanchett didn’t win for her portrayal of Bob Dylan in I’m Not There considering the Oscars' love affair with the actress. I was even more surprised, though, that David Bowie instead won the award in full Ziggy Stardust attire, surprisingly without his Spiders from Mars.
- Taylor (Music for Kids Who Can't Read Good)

On being torn over whether to love or hate Marion Cotillard's weird quilt dress:

On one hand, it looks like what might happen if fish scales and lace mated. On the other, it's French and so is she, and she's so pretty and she was so, so lovely and adorable when she won, and you know what? I think I might sort it. She looks like a sexy fish-lady on her wedding day...
- Jessica (Go Fug Yourself)

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Friday, February 22, 2008
video friday: here's some old-time sexism to enjoy with your morning coffee
As I mentioned earlier, my American Lit kids have been discussing the media's depiction of women in the past three centuries - a subject that's opened the door for some pretty interesting conversations. Not wanting to cloud their thinking with my own opinions on the matter, I tried to keep things as objective and open as possible by beginning with a simple request for them to bring in some form of media from the last fifty years representing society's view of women. I didn't ask or even imply that it should be sexist, yet by and large the pieces they brought in (unsurprisingly) were, and often to the point of absurdity. And so, for your Friday viewing pleasure, the following is a small, hilarious sampling of their offerings.

I really feel for the woman in this Folger's ad, since my inability to make a decent cup of coffee has made me unworthy of love for much of my adult life:

If you ask me, this 1970s tire ad hits the nail on the head. Everyone knows that driving is a woman's kryptonite, rendering our tiny brains useless with all the overwhelming stimuli:

And this one's not a video, but...wowzers. Looks like men really, really value their daily caffeine fix:

I'd say that we've made considerable progress since all of this, but when I asked my kids to list the top five most influential women of today, the most common responses included Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan, so understand if my positivity is a bit...muted.

And on that feel-good note, happy Friday!


Thursday, February 21, 2008
she's gonna do it!
I know Friday is supposed to be video day, but this was the funniest thing I've seen all week. My sides are actually aching a bit. Poor Hillary. This is not how friends should show their appreciation...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008
because that's just how they do it up in canada
We've been discussing the portrayal of women in both art and the media, so naturally all this Juno hoopla carried over and into my classroom today.  While I was doing a little fact checking on the believability of some of Juno's pop culture references (none of my kids had heard of The Ramones, Patti Smith or The Thundercats), I asked them whether or not they thought Juno represented a true teenage girl.  Here's the best response:
"I mean, yeah, I buy her wit, but not the way she talked. I don't know anyone who talks that way. But, she was Canadian, so that probably explains it."


Tuesday, February 19, 2008
regarding juno
Hating Juno seems to be as popular right now as buzzing it up was last fall, so let me begin by saying that the objective of this post isn't to shred the film. Truth is, I liked Juno – at least, parts of it – so crucifying it would never have been my intent. It was what I expected it to be - a cute, feel-good piece that succeeded in making me smile, cringe and get all emotionally swollen. However, Juno also irritated the hell out of me, and before you get frustrated and roll your eyes, please allow me a minute to explain why.

I could go on for miles on all the nitpicky things that got under my skin, but even I admit that many of those irritants (like: Why all the cute indie rock music in a movie where the protagonist so clearly embraces the 1970s punk scene?, and "Honest to blog" this dialogue is annoying!) aren't particularly important to the overall product, and addressing a long list of grievances is annoyingly hypercritical. But here's my biggest issue, the one I couldn't shake, the one that prompted me to write this post rather than just leave well enough alone: Juno is a completely unrealistic sixteen-year-old girl.

Since we're only sixteen for one short year of our lives it's easy to forget what the experience was truly like, but having spent the better part of the past seven years with them, I know of sixteen-year-old girls. And not just in a classroom; I've logged plenty of hours with them in their natural state. I've wandered through myriad cities with them, stayed in hotels with them, endured day-long bus trips and airplane flights with them, played games, watched movies, gone shopping and gossiped with them, and counseled them on every imaginable aspect of their drama-filled lives. I know them. And not just for one year - I see sixteen-year-olds every year. They may forget what they were like, but on my end there's a revolving door of them to serve as a constant reminder.

From where I stand, rather than creating a truly believable protagonist, Diablo Cody created the sixteen-year-old girl we all wish we could have been - one who is sharp, composed, rational, witty, independent and in control. But you know what? That's not real. At least, not to be all these things at such a young, awkward age. In the character of Juno, Cody created the girl we all wished we could have been; however, this girl is, unfortunately, a fantasy, and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't get past that. Would it have been nice to have been or at least to have been friends with someone like Juno? Of course. But I see Juno like Ferris Bueller* - most of us would have liked to have been like that as a teen; however, it just wasn't so.

Now, you may protest that this film is fiction, and as such it can house any sort of character it likes. I won't argue that point with you; however, here's the thing: Juno isn't just any sweet little coming-of-age comedy. It's a Best Picture nominee, and as such it is now the target of more criticism than it ever would have received otherwise (mine included). Did I like Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Of course. Would I have balked if it were nominated for a Best Picture Oscar? Absolutely. And although Juno is a stronger, more serious, and far more complex piece than the aforementioned one, I just can't get behind it taking a spot as one of the five best films of 2007.

Overall, Juno is a good little film that probably doesn't deserve all this disdain, but I can't blame the critics. I blame the Academy (whose judgment I stopped trusting the moment Titanic took home a Best Picture trophy, by the way). Juno should have been left alone to be adored by its many fans, so shame on the Academy for putting such unfair pressure on such tiny little shoulders.

* Credit for the Ferris Bueller/Juno parallel should go to my husband, although I support the comparison.

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Monday, February 18, 2008
what remains of the teddy bears that displeased me:

so, naturally, i let their broken teddy carcasses serve as a warning to the other bears:

'Cuz that's just how Mrs. White bakes, punk. Be good, or be broken!

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monday book review: three novellas, three quickie reviews
Last Night at the Lobster, by Stewart O'Nan 
(2007, 146 pages)
Set in a Red Lobster on its final day of operation, Last Night at the Lobster makes unlikely heroes out of chain restaurant managers and argues that pride can be found from performing the most menial tasks. I picked this book up based on Stephen King's raving recommendation, but although it was an enjoyable enough way to spend a few hours, the characters never felt fully developed to me, and - probably due to its claustrophobic setting - I couldn't shake the nagging feeling it would have succeeded better as a play rather than a novel.

In Search of Mockingbird, by Loretta Ellsworth 
(2007, 181 pages)
Erin, a smart, bookish high school sophomore, takes a lone, cross-country trip on a greyhound bus in the hopes of meeting Harper Lee, gaining a better understanding of a mother she never knew, and discovering whether she truly has what it takes to be a writer. In Search of Mockingbird draws heavy thematic and character inspiration from its namesake while still managing to stand alone on its own merits, and while fans of To Kill a Mockingbird would certainly enjoy it, reading "Mockingbird" is not necessarily a prerequisite. It is a poignant and well-written piece, although it's the sort of young adult fiction I can see adults apt to reflect on their teenage years enjoying more than actual young adults.

Steps Through the Mist: A Mosaic Novel, by Zoran Zivkovic (Translated by Alice Copple-Tosie, 2007, 125 pages)
Fantasy and Science Fiction aren't generally my genres; nonetheless, I picked up this existential "mosaic novel" because I like trying to be a well-rounded reader. Zivkovic uses the motif of fate as a thread to weave together the stories of four diverse women. It was a weird little thing, but I enjoyed it; I can see how fans of Jean-Paul Sartre would too.

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Friday, February 15, 2008
your friday video: [beep!] until you drop
Most days my sense of humor is remniscent of a fourteen-year-old boy, in the sense that I'm drawn to innocent things that sound dirty like the moon draws water.  And although this one's been around the block and back a few times, I still can't help but crack up every time I see it. For the life of me I can't remember where I stumbled across this little sucker first (hence the pesky source omission), but Andrew Sullivan had it up recently so kudos to him, I guess:

...and happy [beeping] Friday! This gal's got a baby shower to throw, a baptism to attend and a four day weekend looming ahead, so yeeehaaaa! - I'm gonna throw a [beeping] party.

Wanna come?


Thursday, February 14, 2008
If I could ever manage to think of these things further than one day in advance, this would have been your valentine from me:

Hope your day is full of love and candy and twenty other sorts of awesome. As for me, Nate says he's got "something" planned. Man, I sure do hope it's a pony!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008
what little I know of magic
When I was six-years-old I received a magic kit for Christmas. Rather, it was a plastic black box with three compartments, a curtain, and a little red ball. It didn’t take my stubby little fingers too terribly long to learn the trick of making the ball start in one compartment, and then - by *magic* - leap! into another. My parents stood all amazed at my first kitchen table-side performance, and understandably so. It was amazing. Only six, and already I was tossing the laws of physics to the wind - a female Houdini but with considerable more freckles. On the strength of that one performance I signed up to audition for a spot in the St. Michael’s Elementary School talent show. On audition day I was excused from Mrs. Someone-or-other’s first grade classroom to head down, alone, to the gymnasium where auditions were being held – plastic black box under my arm, little red ball in my stubby little fist. Clearly, I remember pushing open the heavy gym doors to see a sea of kids mingling on the basketball court, awaiting their auditions. It was then - as I watched them walking through their dance routines, heard them tuning their instruments, and realized how very old they all were in comparison to me- that I looked down at my silly little black box and pathetic little red ball and realized what deep down I already knew: this isn’t magic, and I had absolutely no stage presence. And so I turned around - box still under arm, ball still in fist – and did what any little girl who values her dignity would do. I left.

So, perhaps that wasn’t magic. But, maybe this was:

It was a few years later when I seriously began doubting the existence of Santa Claus. Hesitant to believe that the entire world – every relative, friend, teacher, filmmaker, song writer…everyone – could be collaborating on such an elaborate hoax, I decided to perform by own test. While drifting off to sleep that Christmas Eve, I said a prayer. Aware that secret agents just might be listening in, it was a prayer spoken silently in my head. I, rather politely, asked Santa Claus to prove himself. If I woke up on Christmas Day with that book I wanted on the foot of my bed, then I’d go on believing. If I woke up to nothing more there than my dog, I’d stop. And you know what? That book was there when I woke up - right at the foot of my bed, per my request. To this day I don’t know how my parents knew to do that, and - not wanting to taint that moment’s awe – I’ve never been tempted to ask.

According to Christopher McCandless: “If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed.” On one hand, McCandless died starved and alone in a broken down bus in the Alaskan wilderness. On the other hand, it is an awfully pretty thing to say.

As for me, I may no longer be able to transfer little red balls through space, nor do I still believe in Santa Claus; however, I do know this: I would much prefer to live in a world where magic is possible than in one where it is not.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008
mccain '08: like hope, but different.
In the interest of equal time, this is quite funny.

And no, this one didn't get me misty. ;)

file under: proofreading's stoopid
Well, it finally happened. I found the perfect storm of student errors while grading quizzes. Behold:

"Walter Cunningham is defiantly to poop to pay Atticu's back since he can barley feed his own family."

Amazing, huh? I suppose I should be frustrated, but I'm really just...awed. Seems as if it should be commemorated in some way - embroidered on a pillow or framed in calligraphy or some such thing...


Monday, February 11, 2008
monday book review: an arsonist's guide to writers' homes in new england, by brock clarke
Sam Pulsifer begins his faux-memoir with an explanation: he’s a convicted murderer, arsonist, and not much of a literature fan. Sam is also a “bumbler,” and I suppose that accidentally burning down the Emily Dickinson House and killing the two people still inside was his ultimate bumble. For his crime, Pulsifer serves ten years in a white-collar prison, and upon release discovers he is widely reviled by the denizens of his hometown of Amherst, MA, explaining " the Massachusetts Mt. Rushmore of big, gruesome tragedy, there are the Kennedys, and Lizzie Borden and her ax, and the burning witches of Salem, and then there's me." However, it appears that he is only mostly reviled. During his prison tenure, Sam's father had been inundated with a strange form of fan mail - folks offering him money in exchange for burning down other authors' homes: Hawthorne's, Twain's, Alcott's, and the like. Although surprised, Pulsifer refuses to see himself as an arsonist and chooses to ignore the letters, focusing instead on trying to build some semblance of a normal life by going off to college, getting married, buying a house, having a few kids, and staying the hell away from Amherst. But his reasonably happy existence is eventually shattered when, twenty years after his crime, the son of his accidental victims shows up on his doorstep seeking vengeance. His arrival sets off Pulsifer's downward spiral and sparks the mystery of who has resumed his work of burning down famous authors' homes, leaving Sam to assume the blame.

An Arsonist's Guide..., although fiction, reads like a memoir, and takes satirical jabs at memoirs, book clubs, English professors, and literary fads such as Harry Potter. It received gushing reviews from a wide variety of critics, and while it aims to be humorous, I felt it occasionally fell flat. Sam's (or, rather Clarke's) tone is strangely detached while telling his life story, and although this takes some getting used to, it does allow for certain passages to be funnier than they may have otherwise been. Take, for example, Sam's description of life in prison:
I learned something from everyone, is the point, even while I was fending off the requisite cell-block buggerer, a gentle but crooked corporate accountant at Arthur Anderson who was just finding his true sexual self and who told me in a cracked, aching voice that he wanted me - wanted me, that is, until I told him I was a virgin, which I was, and which, for some reason, made him not want me anymore, which meant that people did not want to sleep with twenty-eight-year-old male virgins, which I thought was useful to know.
See? It's that special brand of straight-faced humor that sometimes works for some people.

I could say more, but since these little reviews seem to get longer by the week, I'll just say that, overall, An Arsonist's Guide... is something that many English majors and book geeks just might love; however, although I am both those things, there was something about it - be it the tone, the wimpiness of the narrator, or the combination of the two - that kept me from feeling such depth of affection.

An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England
Brock Clarke
2007, 303 pages

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Sunday, February 10, 2008
non sequiturs
The sun came out today! If the wind hadn't been so strong, the temps so low, and little snow tornados all a-swirl I might have actually stood outside to soak in it.

I, with my artful eye, can discern with 83% accuracy the difference between the work of a legitimate modern artist and the work of an ape. How about you? (via Andrew Sullivan)

Although I typically like to leave television recommendations to those more qualified to make them, might I quickly suggest Breaking Bad? I had a chance to catch up on a few episodes this weekend, and it was definitely worth the time. Featuring a dying high school chemistry teacher turned crystal meth cooker, the show is smart, intense, darkly funny, engrossing, and features the dad from Malcolm in the Middle spending a significant amount of time in his tighty-whities. AMC is re-running the first three episodes on Wednesday for those who need to catch up, and I'd recommend you consider it.

Assuming these pictures are as authentic as they claim to be, heavens to Betsy if these people don't look just like their dogs! It's rather creepy, actually.

Um, pardon me, but...the hell?

Friday, February 08, 2008
your friday video: huck me
God, I’m tired of winter.

I’m tired of digging out under it, tired of trudging around in it, tired of not being able to wear cute shoes because of it, tired of tortoise-slow, white knuckled commuting through it, and so very tired of never seeing the sun because of it. But most of all, I’m tired of this big black cloud hanging over my head thanks to it. Blah. Stupid clouds, stupid snow, stupid ice, stupid, stupid winter.

But since complaining won’t make spring come any sooner, I suppose it’s best I just stop whining about it and find other ways to amuse myself, and laughing at everyone’s favorite anti-Darwinian presidential candidate is a start. I can’t imagine that anyone seriously thinks he has a chance even with Romney pulling himself from the running, but I suppose someone’s gotta *heart* Huckabee, right?:

Maybe it’s just me, but even from under this black cloud I can’t help but find hysterical the line, “Riding on a dinosaur you and me, every day is like Christmas with Mike Huckabee!” Oh, Huckabee…

And happy Friday. Here’s to hoping we can all find our cheer.


Thursday, February 07, 2008
five things
In anticipation of our study of To Kill a Mockingbird, I'm currently making my students write an essay about who they really are vs. the person their friends and family perceive them to be.  I thought my idea was brilliant, however wasn't too terribly surprised when my "clients" protested on the grounds that it was a tortuous waste of time.  But such is life, I guess. Deep down we're all angsty little critics with poor punctuation skills.

I only mention it because Mary tagged me ages ago for a "five things about me" meme, and since I posted something similar waaaay "back in the day" (which happens to be my students' favorite time period, btw) I thought I'd play with the rules a bit, mix it up and tailor it to fit with the aforementioned concept. And so, here's five things that you'd know if you really knew me:

1.  I am far more sensitive than I suspect most people realize.  I'm much better than I was in my moodiest teenage years, but I still manage to get my feelings hurt at least once every day. And although I'm logical enough to understand that I shouldn't let innocent little comments and actions creep under my skin, I guess I'm still not self-actualized enough to not take most everything to heart.

2.  I'm a much more nervous person than I think most people realize.  Not to say that nervousness is entirely bad - around poisonous snakes, charging rhinos and drooling, shifty-eyed strangers it's probably a pretty good thing indeed - but when it stops one from exploring passions and talents than it's quite a little burden.  My nerves caused me to drop track (and I was fast), stop performing music (and I was good), and I've never had the guts to take even one, single creative writing class despite always loving to write (because sharing is scary).

3.  Most of the time, and especially in groups of four or more, I would truly rather listen than talk.  It's this preference that often makes new acquaintances mistake me for aloof, when I really don't see this as being the case.  Furthermore, I can't think of anything more rude than interrupting a person while he or she is talking.  I absolutely hate feeling as if I have to fight to speak, and the minute someone starts talking over me is the minute I have mentally ejected from that particular conversation. 

4.  Aside from general nervousness, there is only one thing I can think of that I truly fear - the ocean.  I can look down from atop the highest building, talk in front of the biggest crowd, and share a space with the ugliest ferret, but if you want me to get more than ankle-deep in a sea of saltwater you're going to have to throw me in.  I absolutely hate that there's something I'm too afraid to do, and damn the jellyfish that stung me my second time swimming in the Atlantic Ocean for making me this way.

5. Finally, I am constantly composing conversations, creating stories, and playing little songs in my head, and you'll know when I'm at my happiest because I won't be able to keep from singing.  (Sorry.)

And that's that.  I'm going to break the rules again by not "tagging" any one specific person, but if you've never shared your own "five things" than yes, please do.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008
what's so wrong with happy?
Two of my favorite ladies in all of blogerdom, Mrs. Miskadventures and Ms. Carrie, weighed in recently on the disconnect between levity and art - one in regard to the often painful to read The Kite Runner the other on a Best Picture dark horse, Juno. Since both ladies make excellent points, I find their timing to be rather serendipitous, and find serendipity most pleasing, I figured I might point you in their respective directions.


yes we can.
I don't know what's becoming of my steely facade, but damn it if I didn't get misty watching a music video today. Yes, it's based off an Obama campaign speech, and yes I've made no mystery of the fact that Obama's my man, but even still - I don't really care who you vote for this Super Tuesday, just please do.

(And may it be a more satisfying and "committed" experience than my primary here in the Great Lakes State.)

Monday, February 04, 2008
monday book review: out stealing horses, by per petterson
Melancholily beautiful, Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses was widely hailed as one of the best books of 2007, and for very good reason - It was. In simple, unpretentious prose Petterson tells the story of Trond Sander, a elderly man who has purchased an old house in a secluded Norwegian village in the hopes of living out the remainder of his days in quiet solitude. But this isn't to be when Trond makes an unlikely discovery, one that "if this had been something in a novel it would have been irritating;" his nearest neighbor, Lars, happens to be the sibling of his closest childhood friend, a friend who disappeared from Trond's life after a terrible tragedy. Lars's presence sets off a torrent of memories reaching back as far as fifty years, and the novel is revealed through the ebb and flow of these often painful remembrances mixing with Trond's reclusive present.

Admittedly, if you're anything like me none of this sounds particularly exciting; however, Trond's story is inarguably compelling and moving. Out Stealing Horses is a quietly beautiful book written in a masterful manner - carefully, deliberately, without wasting a single word. And since this is one of those things that really must be experienced to be appreciated, here's my favorite passage (although Petterson certainly provided me with plenty to choose from):
People like it when you tell them things, in suitable portions, in a modest, intimate tone, and they think they know you, but they do not, they know about you, for what they are let in on are facts, not feelings, not what your opinion is about anything at all, not how what has happened to you and how all the decisions you have made have turned you into who you are. What they do is they fill in with their own feelings and opinions and assumptions, and they compose a new life which has precious little to do with yours, and that lets you off the hook. No-one can touch you unless you yourself want them to. You only have to be polite and smile and keep paranoid thoughts at bay, because they will talk about you no matter how much you squirm, it is inevitable, and you would do the same thing yourself.

Per Petterson, Translated by Ann Born
2007, 258 pages

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Friday, February 01, 2008
friday video: because it's thriller. thriller night...
Apparently public transportation is yet another thing Brits do better:

And you know, just once I'd like a bunch of people to jump up and spontaneously perform the thriller dance during my morning commute. I'm sure it would get a bit tight trying to zombie dance in my Saturn, but for every problem there's always a solution, I say!

Video via dlisted, and happy Friday.