Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I wish my parents had named me Darko.

Or Tiger. Or even Kitten.

The good of bad.

As part of the pregame fluff on TNT tonight, they showed a split screen of Pat Riley and Joe Dumars, then cut to footage of Dumars during the great "Bad Boy" years of the eighties championship Pistons. Boy howdy, were they good. It put me in mind of the years when my oldest sons were playing basketball--they were in grade school--and they'd say, "I'm Dennis Rodman" (this, of course, before the full-on freak show began, and Rodman was just a big-eared monster rebounder), or "I'm Isaiah." I loved them even back then, because they were the anti-Lakers--unpretty, except for Isaiah, hard physical play, etc.

That was when the Laker loathing began for me, even though those were some pretty great Lakers. (I actually met Magic Johnson in an airport, and he was pretty cute, shaking the chubby little hand of my baby daughter.) I think I loathed their fans most of all--all those Hollywood types. Come on. How much character did it take to be a fan of the Lakers, most of the time? Real fans have to go through horrible seasons, non-luxury-tax-inducing-salary-enhanced rosters, listening to national television announcers engage in Laker idolatry . . . the sufferings go on, the sufferings that make true fans. Laker fans, on the other hand, are pampered, spoiled, annoying brats.

Hence, the Bad Boys of Detroit seemed just the antidote. Still true. Though the Indiana incident early this season did seem a throwback to the Badness, in truth, only Rasheed Wallace seems to offer a true homage to it these days. (And may I say that I nurture a great fondness for this player, who once was given technical fouls for glaring?)

Lastly, let me say that I am loving the conference championships, in part because the national announcers have no team before which to engage in idolatry, and thus seem to be commenting on the game as it actually unfolds.


Posted by Hello

Looking at the Sun(s).

Confining my view to the game last night, I'm going to say that things are looking up for the Suns. If you talk to me about the historical precedent for teams down 3-0 in a seven game series, I'm going to put my hands over my ears and say "I'm not listening! I'm not listening!" until you stop.

My internal clock has reset itself for summer, which means the "stay up way too late, then sleep in and waste half the morning" mode. In case anyone wants to plan their telephone calls to me.

School, for my children at this point, seems to be a moot point, despite my remonstrations. I had to declare that a certain Pokemon Yellow Gameboy game had to go on moratorium until the end of the week, despite the fact that if my son achieved a certain level, his friend would pay him $5.

Roses are blooming like gangbusters in my yard.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Suns Blues.

Well, I go out to the movies, and what do I come back to find? The Suns lose again to the Spurs. I'm a big believer in lost causes, but I find myself a teensy bit doubtful that they'll rally.

Since I didn't see the game, anyone who'd like to can enlighten me as to how exactly the Spurs were entitled to twice as many free throws. Anyone?

From the box scores, it looks like the big guys pretty much fought to a draw, except Duncan got 15 free throws (and made every single one of 'em). Marion a no show. Why? Why?

On other fronts, lots of activity here in West Jordan. Purchased bags of compost, a few sundry plants, and 20 tomato cages, which will be used not for actual tomatoes but to keep the big lug of a dog from jumping into the garden boxes to root around in the tomatoes. Also purchased Elliot Smith's last recording for gratuitous dark thoughts. And new shoes (a bargain, but I won't bore you with any details.) Saw two movies, both of them very good--The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill and Walk on Water, the latter an Israeli film. Youngest son saw The Longest Yard, which was "pretty funny," according to him, thus giving the lie to the snotty national critics. Youngest daughter, who's on choir tour in San Francisco called to say she (a) was homesick, (b) was part of a gold medal winning choir!, and (c) had called her estranged best friend from some theme park to offer the olive branch, which the friend accepted.

Commerce, media consumption, prize-winning, reconciliation. Not a bad day at all.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Poetry is for suckers.

I've been organizing my study (still!) and ran across the sheaf of communications I've had with poetry contests and little magazine editors. To wit:

On one hand, rejection; on the other, slim encouragement. Posted by Hello

I felt this was a good illustration.

But hey, this can't mean what it seems to mean, can it?

In any case, I think I'll burn the rejections, because who needs that kind of negative thing hanging around my study-of-power? (which will soon be spic and span and ready for a new bamboo [check out the renewable resource!] floor.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

TV Relapse.

Last week and this week, I've been watching episodes from Felicity, 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Mountain Time on We. I'm saying it this bluntly, because it's sort of like admitting I have an addiction. I went through this with Sex and the City, a TV bender I've previously acknowledged--I checked out whole seasons at a time from the public library and watched them, three, four, five a night. When I reached a season I couldn't get from the library, I had to go to the video store and rent them one disk at a time--v. expensive. When that was done, I had to go through a withdrawal. I missed the characters and found myself thinking about them, etc.--a whole sordid deal.

Then came Felicity, probably a year and a half ago, also then on We. They were showing episodes most nights, but at increasingly varying times and intervals. I got in at the very first, so I saw the curly haired girl (decoder ring: curly-haired girl = me) go to NYU (U of NY on the show), following a boy from her high school because he wrote something nice in her yearbook. Anyhow, same trajectory as S in the C, although I couldn't watch more than one episode in a night. As the network increasingly, and cavalierly, fooled around with the broadcast times and dates, I found myself in a state--v. annoyed, grouchy, snappish. And then, the coup de grace, they stopped the whole thing altogether, just six episodes short of the series finale. By the way, you can't rent the show, or check it out from my video store (although I hear you can get it on Netflix).

I happened upon the show the other day, and realized that, serendipitously (or even felicitously!), they were showing the second half of the last season's episodes, two a day. Imagine my joy. Two hits in a day.

I got started in the first place on the show because my daughter, who was living on the East Coast with a nouveau riche family as their nanny, watched it late at night. I have experienced quite an unbelievable amount of pop culture in this fashion--one of my kids is watching or listening to something. Here's a short list of shows I'm currently watching, courtesy of my kids: Sex and the City and Felicity, of course; Gilmore Girls; Family Guy and American Dad; Home Movies (on Cartoon Network--Adult Swim--definitely worth searching out); Without a Trace; and finally, The O.C. (I'm pretty embarrassed about this last one, but what can I say? Despite having gone to high school in SoCal with rich kids and having incurred a serious attitude about rich folks thereby, I find myself watching a show about . . . SoCal rich kids--in high school!)

Monday, May 23, 2005

But what if you can't sleep?

Last night, despite a perfectly lovely day without so much caffeine, I found myself at 2 a.m. unable to sleep. I think I passed the optimal sleep window about an hour beforehand. Walking and Talking was on IFC, and I totally got hooked into it.

But I think the real thing was, I spent a couple of hours earlier in the evening cleaning up and reorganizing my study. That room has a tendency to be the catch-all for when we, say, have a party and we've got to get all the stuff out of the front room and the kitchen. Where will it go? On the floor of my study, that's where. Add that to the fact that I'm an acquisitive fiend, an over-ambitious inventor of projects, and, in general, kind of a slob, and you have the wreck that was my study.

In particular, I decided to rearrange my books. Who knows why, for instance, I had two sets of fiction in two widely separated locations on my shelves? And how exactly did I acquire so much poetry? I weeded out a lot of stuff, rearranged so that the collections (pretentious word, but I'm sticking by it) are now each in a single spot, alphabetized . . . Anyhow, I only got through the poetry, the fiction, and the criticism/theory before other activities took over. So at 2 a.m., I got up and finished the job.

Now, I have to face the rest of the room. I'm hoping not to have to face another spate of insomnia to get through it--rather, that the force of my sterling character will spur me to marshal my resources, gird up my loins, fresh courage take (that's the Mormon in me talking), etc. Clean study, clean mind. Or something like that.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Gardening Officially Commences.

The flowers of my labors. Posted by Hello

This morning we took Bruiser to the dog park after dropping my daughter off at her highly rewarding employment at Subway. Driving in the car makes him anxious--he has a repertoire of whines and barks that either begin or end in yawns that are incredibly musical and so dang funny--but when we approach the dog park, he turns frantic. He acts like, having come to the dog park, we might not actually get out. Once he gets inside the fence, he runs without pause, the exception being for salutations to other dogs in the form of sniffing. It's a great way to begin the day. We generally end up chatting with other dog people about their splendid dogs. This morning, we met a lovely Siberian husky named Tank and a gigantic Great Dane, a black one, named Moose. Moose is female, a little disconnect for me, I don't know why.Similarly, after coming home from the dog park, I felt moved by the spirit (of gardening) to go to our local greenhouse where you can get flats and flats of all kinds of plants. I say similarly, because I always end up in little gardener chats with the folks at the greenhouse. I give friendly advice--"Brandywines are the best tomatoes!" "Just get that newspaper wet and you can wrap the roots in them"--as if I were the local gardening expert or something. So I planted tons of flowers in pots, which I'm interspersing in the actual flower beds in the front yard--this, because Bruiser, as debonair as he appears to be, is a bit of a digger, and I do love my flower pots. I planted stocks, cosmos, single-petaled marigolds, red and white zinnias in with lots of herbs--parsley, basil, a couple of kinds of mint, lemon verbena, rosemary. It's lovely. We'll be shoveling compost (homemade--from our very own garbage!) into the grow boxes for the tomatoes. Probably tomorrow, on the Sabbath of our Lord, before I go off to church.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Bruiser's nose Posted by Hello

The Machinery of Summer Grinds into Gear.

Not a very bucolic metaphor, I grant you. It's the one that comes to mind as I try to get myself into gear (I am the machinery of summer?).

I am giving my dusty dissertation one last hurrah (or is that hoo-hah?) this summer. I have rethought yet again my argument and the structure of the whole thing. I have made a plan. I went to the University on Tuesday to do a little looking, and found most of what I need.

However, the night before I went to the library, I found myself unable to sleep. The gerbils running my mental cage kicked into high gear. Am I prepared to do research? Have I thought my claims through? Is the argument, in all probability, pretentious?

So, on three hours of sleep, on Tuesday morning, off to the library I went. Yada yada yada, I xeroxed some stuff, took some notes, went home. By the end of the day, I had a stabbing pain in my lower back, an aching hip, and an incipient cold, which I woke up with the next day (Wednesday).

Moreover, after I pulled myself through Wednesday morning with OTC drugs, napping, and a little solitary moaning, I went to the closest campus of my own college to screen online applications for our English faculty positions (I'm looking to see if all applicants meet the minimum qualifications), a job which should have taken me two hours, tops, only to find out that I wasn't allowed to even look at the apps! And I'm the chair of the committee!

In the evening, after some low-tech sulking and DVD watching (Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her--a fine, subtle, heartbreaking film), I went with Scar to his church youth activity, which was a mom-son pizza eating, volleyball-playing two hours. Pretty fun, even though I confirmed yet again what an utter nerd I am at any sport whatsoever.

What I'm trying to do is balance efforts on my own writing projects, my duties to my job, and my pleasures in my family and the summer in general. Maybe "machinery" is really a bad metaphor after all. It's more like a carnival, or a traveling circus.

Guess how much actual writing I've done on my dissertation. But who's counting?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Electric Shed.

Since spring is in the air--or something like that, given all the recent rain--Scar has been renovating Da Club, aka the Shed. Last summer, he and his homies asked permission to take over the shed, which basically meant emptying it of all its shed-ly contents (rakes, boxes, spare hoses, etc.) so that it could contain an old TV, various gaming systems, beanbag chairs. He acquired a tiny mini-fridge, reassembled an old daybed, an oscillating fan, strings of patio lights, and a large Rubbermaid container to hold the massive amounts of junk food he and the aforementioned homeboys would consume. They paid a $5 per week dues (loosely tracked and collected) with which they would buy the junk food and vats of soda pop. It was a smashing success, the social hub of the teen-boy world, the site of several all-night caffeinated fests of Nintendo which occasionally had me stumbling, bleary and ornery, into the night at 2 a.m. to shush them into submission.

That was 2004. Now it's 2005, and I admit that I was hoping he had outgrown this set of cultural practices. Uh, no.

This year's renovation has included more patio lights, which now extend around the interior perimeter (very festive!), and the procurement of a couch from the local thrift store, purchased with dues money for a mere $35. (I was hit up for a couch loan a few weeks ago, but demurred with some mom-talk--"If you keep up with your chores, I might be more inclined to consider it, blah blah blah"--which kept me out of this particular deal. Good for me. It takes more character to put together the $35 on your own, doesn't it?) I have witnessed the redistribution of the space--it's a shed, after all!--and the couch, a fairly nondescript neutral thing. I asked one of the h-boys if it smelled like cat pee? like human hair? He said that if you got real close and breathed, it smelled kind of funky (his word), but that no smell "emanated" from the couch (also his word).

Clearly if they're capable of "emanate," these are good boys. Now I'm just hoping they'll all get jobs, so as to keep the savage sleeping-in-the-wild activity to a minimum.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Small Survey. Movie Update.

First, the survey: what are the coolest features on websites that you've ever seen?

This weekend, I saw three movies. Forthwith, my notes.

Crash. Dir. by Paul Haggis, writer of Million Dollar Baby. Can you guess? It has a dark world view. Set in L.A., focused on race. Some reviews I've read suggest that the race-saturated social world the movie describes is overstated, but to them, I say, you've never talked to many conservative white folks in L.A., then. I thought the movie was worth seeing, if flawed. Some very good performances, but nearly all of them felt a little too elliptical--truncated--as if someone was trying for spare, but did too much editing and ended up with scrawny. It had a Magnolia-like structure, but it didn't unfold the relationships with as much density as in that film.

Kicking and Screaming. Anyone who says I'm undiscriminating (a) may be right, and (b) so what? This movie addresses fills many categories that I tend to like: sports movie, Will Ferrell movie, kids sports movie, soccer movie. It made me laugh. For anyone who cares, Mike Ditka is hi-larious--all the scenes with him are worth seeing. Plus, I saw it with my sixteen-year-old son, so how bad could that be? We both agreed that it was a satisfactory movie-going experience.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. If you've already read the book, you probably don't need to go. But it helped me put the big picture together. Rather disturbing if you give it more than about two seconds' thought.

Beautiful weekend, no? Mowed the lawn for the first time (implying that I did it would be a lie, however). The purple iris are about to bloom, the Scottish broom is flowering like crazy. Time to scout out some tomato plants.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Death to the rhymed couplet

It's day two of the high school poetry slam at West Jordan High School. Today at 1:45 p.m. is the showdown.

The big event of today was when a girl, by all accounts a very good girl, who recited an inspirational ditty--that she didn't write! It's the one that starts, "if you think you're beaten, you are . . . " and goes on to affirm that the man who wins is the one who thinks he can. A small furor broke out among the girls wearing System of a Down teeshirts. I think they thought that the cheater would win. Oh how wrong they were! for the judges, never to be fooled, rated the poem low on the merits. Even if she had invented the alphabet in which the poem were written, we would have flunked it on Aesthetic Expression, Language, and Imagery.

Otherwise, if one could die from an overexposure to rhyming, I would be a moldering corpse.

However, one girl wrote a poem called "It's What's on the Inside that Counts." It went something like this:

"I slice and dice baby bunnies
I torture people in captivity
I [insert grotesque psychopathic behavior]

[several verses along the lines of the above]

You may think I'm cruel;
but I have the heart of a child.

[pregnant pause]

In a jar."

[eruption of joy in audience of adolescents]

Thursday, May 12, 2005

High School Poetry Slam

Today I'm posting from the library of West Jordan High School, where I'm on a break from my dayjob: Poetry Slam Judge. Huh.

The librarian worked this deal out--a bunch of English teachers had their students write poems, then the teachers (or the classes) judged the best four, and then there's a shout-off. Well, not really. While slams thrive on audience ebullience, hostility, and noise, the slam in the WJHS library is pretty polite. A teacher and I individually score the poets on oral presentation, enthusiasm, artistic expression, quality of language, preparation, and one other category, then we add up scores, compare notes, and pick two winners. (There are, like, seven rounds of this, with a final competition tomorrow afternoon.) There's applause between each poet, and one girl sitting behind me, after she heard a decently performed rant against poetry slams and poetry in general, said, "oooh, snap!" But in general it's a very civilized affair.

I think, actually, that the slam, um, scene here shows something about slams in general: the best performances--the ones with charisma, real delivery, presence, energy, verve--have been delivered by young men. The adolescent male, who I realize has no picnic during these mostly unlovely years, still has license to be large--take up room, make noise, knock some heads. The girls, on the other hand, have a much stronger prohibition against all of the above. Meaning that it would be asy to end up tomorrow with fourteen boys.

Plus, I have been confronted with the hegemony of the rhyming couplet. Three, maybe four, beats per line--like "da DA da DA da DA da DA" until . . . well, it's over by 1:30 today.

Slam? More like slump.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Music of My Youth

First, define youth: I was married at 19, had a child at 21. I’m defining youth as everything that came before I got married, though I could make the case that some great enthusiasms which happened after that date could fall into the category. Rickie Lee Jones, for instance.

First single: “Crimson and Clover,” by the . I also borrowed all kinds of stuff from friends and made a reel-to-reel tape. I believe it involved songs by Bobby Vinton, Soupy Sales (really!) and the Archies. It was 7th grade, okay?

First albums:

Glen Campbell. I stand behind Galveston and Wichita Lineman, which I listened to over and over on my little plastic phonograph with built in speakers.
Bridge over Troubled Waters. Ditto the phonograph. I wore this one out. Thereafter, I worked backward through the Simon and Garfunkel oeuvre, receiving them for birthdays and/or Christmas until I had them all, including Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m.

Albums I checked out of the library so much they should have been mine:

Modern Jazz Quartet, . Loved their cool sound.

Albums I have recently repurchased in CD format:

Beach Boys, Pet Sounds. This is sublime. It really is.
Beach Boys, Endless Summer. It’s surprising how many amazing songs the BBs recorded. There’s a garage version of “Barbara Ann” that is unfortunately not on this recording, but is nonetheless a classic. I remember hearing it when coming back from seminary (Mormon religious school, which I went to in the early early morning on school days)—it was the perfect antidote.
Leon Russell and the Shelter People
Led Zeppelin IV. Everything’s good on this album. This music reminds me of seeing my classmates smoking by the flag pole on my high school campus. Can I be wrong about this?
Neil Young, Tonight’s the Night. “Bruce Berry was a working man,/ He used to load that Econoline van./ A sparkle was in his eye / but his life was in his hands./ Late at night when the people were gone/ he used to pick up my guitar,/ and sing a song in a shaky voice/ that was real as the day was long…”
Cat Stevens, Teaser and the Firecat and Catch Bull at Four (what an utter babe Yusef Islam used to be—check out the photos on this recording.)

Albums given to me as gifts:

Leon Russell, Carney. I think people have forgotten about how awesome Leon Russell was. I got to see him with Edgar Winter at a sad bar in Murray—what an amazing show.
Rolling Stones, Hot Rocks. I only have Exile on Main Street and one other greatest hits recording of the Stones. But I did learn sympathy for the devil from this one.
Soundtrack to The Rocky Horror Picture Show (my friend believed I would need this to get through my first year at BYU, and he was right)
Spirit, Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus. My then-boyfriend was convinced of the greatness of this group—he was a wonderful musician, so I gave this a bunch of tries, but it didn’t really ever take.

Songs I couldn’t be bothered with at the time but which haunt me now:

“Betcha By Golly Wow,” Stylistics. Listen to Prince’s cover of this on Emancipation.

Great songs by any standard:

Paul McCartney, “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “High, High, High,” and “My Love (does it good)”
Aerosmith, “Dream On”
Staple Singers, “Respect Yourself”
John Lennon, “Imagine”

Fantastically cheesy music I’d love to hear again, anytime:

Moody Blues, Days of Future Passed. Spawned a zillion slow dances.
Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Trilogy. Excellent synth-y sound.
Procol Harum, “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” Saw these guys in concert at the Hollywood Bowl. I loved all these three bands because their sound was big, symphonic, and serious.

Eternal Music:

Joni Mitchell, Blue, For the Roses, and Court and Spark
James Taylor, Mud Slide Slim, One Man Dog, and Gorilla
Jackson Browne, Saturate Before Using, For Everyman, and Late for the Sky
Paul Simon, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon
Patti Smith, Horses. This is cheating, as I only heard this after I got married, but it’s from the era, and hey—it’s my post.
Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Déjà vu. Every song on this, except “Almost Cut My Hair,” is precious.
Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks.
Elton John, Your Song, Honky Chateau, and Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road. It only seemed like throwaway music when the songs came out.
Derek and the Dominos, Layla and other love songs. When I was writing the first version of my dissertation, I listened to this after I listened to three different requiems. It felt like a big arrival.
Stevie Wonder, Talking Book and Innervisions

Classic concerts from this era that I saw:

Eric Clapton (461 Ocean Blvd., clean and sober era) with Santana (the Forum)
Stevie Wonder with Rufus, starring Chaka Khan (the Forum)
Elton John (the Forum)
Joni Mitchell (Miles of Aisles sessions) (the L.A. Amphitheater)
James Taylor (the L.A. Amphitheater)
Dave Brubeck, actually, when he was at full strength (at a community college auditorium, if I’m not mistaken)

Classic concert I missed because I felt it would be a sin to break the Sabbath (gosh!):

Bob Dylan, Before the Flood sessions

Deconstructing Carrie

Tonight was the last episode of Sex and the City (on TBS, so minus nudity and the f-word). It reminded me of the experience I had last year of checking entire seasons out from the library so that I could watch episode after episode until I staggered out, bleary-eyed, into the kitchen to get more Diet Coke and go back for another. It was very much what I imagine an addiction to be like. Also sort of like falling in love.

Anyhow, the last season hadn’t yet come out on DVD when I was in the midst of this drunk (although we had free HBO, miraculously, just for the final episode). These last few weeks on TBS have therefore been on the one hand heavenly, and on the other hand, somewhat more distanced from, and therefore different than, my overwhelming infatuation. On the one hand, I kept this appointment with the girls religiously, itched with irritation if the phone rang, could fly into an impatient fit/rage at interruptions from my children (bad, bad mother!). On the other hand, since I wasn’t flinging myself headlong into a lost weekend kind of a deal, I took a sort of cooler view of the whole enterprise—these women, their lovers, their exhilarations and disappointments, their shoes.

My question—and, I think, a subtext of the last season—is, is Carrie a woman or a child? Woman: she begins to embrace her mortality, and think more carefully about her connections in that light. Child: she speaks in that breathy, girlish voice when in full flirtation mode. Woman: stands up for her decisions, vacillates less, is less vapid in general. Child: can’t understand how an artist opening a museum show might be preoccupied with that project—and thus can’t spend the days holding hands with her in Paris. I loved Carrie in her Paris dresses, but kept thinking, come on, grow up!

I ended up loving Miranda the most—the least fantasy-based character. But I confess that I was glad to see Big back in the picture, big worldly man who comes around just enough to confess love. Best happy ending. And I’m in a position to report that it’s a happy ending that stands up to re-viewing.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Big F***ing (Male) Rock Star

Robert Plant has a new recording out--I heard some bits of it on NPR, All Things Considered, today, and it sounds damn good. This, from the girl who traded LZ IV to her brother for a copy of Teaser and the Firecat (LPs both, Cat Stevens for anyone too young to know the latter recording).

I remember reading some excerpts from Hammer of the Gods, was it?--the profile of the Zep written sometime in the early 80s, I think. Like everyone else in the world, I have been drawn to the, whaddyacallit, daimonic, dark male thing about rock and roll. (By the way, there's a piece in the current Rolling Stone about Motley Crue [sorry about the missing umlauts], sort of a poor man's Zep--you could do a declension, couldn't you? from the Zep to Aerosmith to MC, with maybe a sordid detour into GnR, plus a bunch of other hair metallique bands. Anyway, with regard to the Crue, it's the same set of hotel/bus/groupie stories, except with less talent, as Zeppelin. Sickening, says feminist Yoda.)

So how did I find myself in the position of (a) reacquiring a copy of IV (there will be another post on this topic of reacquiring the music of my youth, coming soon), and (b) thinking about acquiring a copy of this new CD? Robert Plant has appeared in several publications recently, doing the requisite PR, and he sounds alternately idiotic (reliving the glory days, which seem at least a little pathetic, to me at least) and poetic (he talks about his early days in Zeppelin, when his voice was just one sound competing with others; he says he supposes that back then, when he sang, he "took the hammer to the pearl"). He also talks about the writing of songs as being a kind of theater.

Am I the only one who plays this push me/pull you game with new music? Who needs another raw-edged, whiskey-soaked, white man's blues band? And who can resist one? Faced with an at least semi-reconstructed Robert Plant, I found myself at least a little fascinated. Sue me.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Walking a 5K; Mother's Day; Movie

Above is a digested version of my weekend. My mother, two sisters, youngest daughter, and aunt all walked the "Race for the Cure" 5K event this morning at the Gateway--it's a benefit and awareness activity for breast cancer research. We all stayed overnight at a Courtyard Marriott downtown, which gave me new insight, by the way, into the dire straits of SLC downtown--the hotel restaurant was closed for dinner Friday through Sunday nights--and that included room service. But I digress. We had a motherly-sisterly-multi-generational blast, then got up a little bleary to do the walk. I was sort of unprepared for a certain emotional hit I got from it. Lots of people--sons, daughters, sisters, husbands--were wearing little pink paper squares titled "In Memory of . . ." and "Celebrating . . ." I often secretly fault myself for not being woman-identified enough. I can get really, really irritated with some versions of feminism, the construction of some so-called female-empowered identities, etc. Today, it's clear to me that part of my irritation is really about the specific vulnerabilities of the female body (before anyone jumps, I get it that the male body has its vulnerabilities, as well).

So: I'm celebrating the lives of my women: daughters Amelia, Sophia, Abigail; my granddaughter Miriam; the daughters of my husband, Anna and Amy; my best friends Mary Sue, Ann, Kim, Jennifer, Allison, Tiffany; my gutsy mother Cherie; my sisters Erin, Lori, and Faye; my nieces Diane, Megan, Madddie, Amy, and Elisabeth; my grandmother Maxine; and my darling auntie, Sally, who has survived breast cancer for seven years.

I celebrated an early mother's day by giving my grandmother a hydrangea in full, hallucinogenic blue, and my mother an Anne Tyler novel. Who knows what tomorrow holds?

Movie Notes: a one-movie weekend, but this was a good one. Very old school, character driven film--Winter Solstice. It has a workmanlike construction. Very quiet, reticent, without flourishes or fanfare. Beautiful, restrained acting. I highly recommend this film.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The one bad thing about the NBA Playoffs

Soon, there will be no basketball at all. Only baseball and football. The horror.

Basketball Philosophe (ette)

So we're nearing the end of the first round of the playoffs. I wouldn't have predicted the outcome of the Seattle-Sacramento series (I've decided to start calling teams by their place names rather than their ridiculous mascot names--thus the Seattles and the Sacramentos), despite the sublime Ray Allen. Remember (even if you hated the Sacramentos, and I know there were some of you) when Sacramento looked like it would take it all (by which I mean take the West, since the East was pretty much a joke, post-Jordan)? How the [putatively] mighty have fallen.

You could see the Detroits smashing the Philadelphias pretty much back in November; who even cares about that Chicago-Wizardry thing?; yeah, yeah, the Heat. The only sort of interesting one is the Indianas and the Bostons, and mainly because of Miller.

Tonight, I watched the last quarter of the San Antonio/Denver game. As I said in an early post, I have always liked SA for its hard work, no nonsense ethos. While watching, I listened to the pile of silliness they call game commentary, including a little feature about the "blueprint of success" of SA. Can you spell T-I-M-D-U-N-C-A-N? Come on. Even when Duncan's not all the way back on his game, he's huge, he's mobile, he shoots, he blocks, he rebounds. When he made that beautiful touch pass to whoever it was, whose shot didn't go, then D rebounds and shoots it out to G Robinson, whose beautiful three practically whistled when it went inthe basket--yeah, that's a blueprint.

Phoenix over Memphis--see Detroit v. Philly above.

Dallas or Houston? Despite what Van Gundy is calling the "serenity" of McGrady and Yao,
it's looking a little more Dallas-y today, wouldn't you say?

I'm hoping to see the Detroits play the Miamis in the East, and Phoenix (or Seattle or, I guess, San Antonio) play whoever wins the Eastern fracas.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

My European Tour.

My son, the tenor (not the same son as Broken Arm/Scar), just left this morning for his European tour. The European Tour of the University of Utah Singers, to be more precise. Oh, how I wish I were going on a tour of European cities to sing, with or without a group! They are starting in Nancy, France, then to the Netherlands, then back to France, including Paris, then to Germany and Italy.

Instead of going on a European tour, however, I have his car in my driveway (which I should feel free to wash and clean out, plus fill with gas, he tells me) and his itinerary.

I want to have a European tour like the ones people took in Victorian novels--the ones men took to gain experience, or the ones married couples took for their honeymoons. Six months, for instance. I want to disappear into those Sunday Times travel articles about the secret best cities in eastern Europe. I want to eat at the restaurant up in the Alps where the chef is an artisanal cheese artist. I want a villa in the south of France for a month. I want to live in that artist's colony in Italy, where you can live for six months. (I realize this is starting to add up to more than six months, especially with the Italian artist's colony factored in.)

And I want to end up in Scotland, where the mood is a bit dark and the weather a bit darker, but my shining, adorable daughter and granddaughter (and the husband/father, too) live. That would be a fitting conclusion to my European tour.

Monday, May 02, 2005

My own radio station.

Probably like some of you, I read an article in the NYTimes yesterday about a 14-year-old girl, Zoe, who has her own internet radio program, once a week for an hour on Saturdays (www.zoeradio.com). It's pretty cool. Since she's only 14, she knows the new stuff, but also stuff that her parents played, so she featured the Ramones, for instance--"Beat on the Brat."

So, if you were going to start your very own internet radio show, what would you call it? What would be the first five songs on your playlist?

Trying to come up with a title for the show at the moment seems too daunting. But I would play these songs to start:

  • Jane's Addiction, "Jane Says"
  • Bob Dylan, "Buckets of Rain"
  • Prince, "Let's Pretend We're Married
  • U2, "Love is Blindness"
  • Stevie Wonder, "He's Mistra Know-it-all"
  • Leon Russell, "Tightwire"
  • Suzanne Vega, "Widow's Walk"
  • Pretenders, "Show Me"
  • Pink Floyd, "Shine On, You Crazy Diamond"
  • Persuasions "I Could Never Love Another"
  • Shawn Colvin's cover of the Beatles' "I'll Be Back Again" (technically not possible, as I don't believe she's ever recorded it--I heard her do it in concert)
Not necessarily in that order.

Dejection: An Ode

Where's the love, o my readers?

Okay, enough of that. I thought I would give you a little peek at Movies to Watch this Summer: a List and Books to Read this Summer: A List.

from Movies to Watch this Summer: a List
  • Personal Velocity
  • the French nouvelle vague films (Agnes Varda, Truffaut, Godard, Chris Marker)
  • Donny Darko
  • Solaris (the Tarkovsky version)
  • Abre los Ojos!
  • The Thin Red Line
  • a Walter Hill retrospective

and, to round it out,

  • The Last Samurai

Believe me, there will be many more low-brow films on this list. Please submit additions to the list to hightouchmegastore, courtesy of the comment function of this blog.

from Books to Read this Summer: A List
  • The Displaced of Capital (Anne Winters)
  • The Collected Poems of Hart Crane
  • The Fortress of Solitude (Jonathan Lethem)
  • Gilead (Marilynne Robinson)
  • Dreamweaver for Dummies

Proposed additions to this list are welcome. (see above.)


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