Saturday, December 30, 2006
And now, the big announcement:
I am leaving tomorrow to visit and assist. I will spend six hours (more or less) on the beach and environs in L.A. because of my lengthy layover, but actually I'm looking forward to that, a little, before the hellish journey. Which will all be worthwhile, because I get to see everyone, including a brand-new tiny girl and her slightly larger big sister. Not to mention the mom and dad. Ta ra.
Happy New Year to all!
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Christmas cookie hangover.
Heretofore, the game has gone like this:
1. Gather all end-of-year lists, including the random ones from the New Yorker "Talk of the Town" section, the New York Times list, lists I get sent from various music subscription services, the list in Rolling Stone, the list in Spin.
2. Compile a list based on the above lists, recommendations I've been given, and intuitions I have.
3. Try to cadge music from others who have it, buy it used, download it from emusic, etc.
Here's my list so far. Let me add a rule: you may endorse selections, but mocking is highly discouraged. Feel free to tell me stuff I haven't thought of or heard of. Offers to lend music for a listen highly encouraged.
Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not
Justin Timberlake, Futuresex/Love Sounds
Decemberists, The Crane Wife
Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood [already downloaded]
Willie Nelson, You Don’t Know Me; The Complete Atlantic Sessions
John Lee Hooker, Hooker
Weather Report, Forecast: Tomorrow
John Coltrane, Fearless Leader
Susan Christie, Paint a Lady
Nellie McKay, Pretty Little Head
Tom Waits, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards
Yusuf, An Other Cup
TV On the Radio, Return to
Roseanne Cash, Black Cadillac
Ornette Coleman, Sound Grammar
Andrew Hill, Timelines
Billy Hart, Quartet
Nelly Furtado, Loose
Paul Motian Trio 2000 + One, On Broadway Vol. 4 or The Paradox of Continuity
Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Solo
John Legend, Once Again
A Hawk and a Hacksaw, The Way the Wind Blows
Norfolk & Western, The Unsung Colony
Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat
Jolie Holland, Springtime can Kill You
Sparklehorse, Dreamt for Lightyears in the Belly of a Mountain
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
The Megastore kitchen is closed.
Yesterday, though, I got up, and here was my plan:
make ice cream
shrimp cake mixture
Pear apple crumble
Prepare vegetables for roasting
Make orange pomegranate salad
grill chicken skewers
Big hits included pear-apple ginger crumble with ginger ice cream, a concept I shamelessly filched from the Trio dessert menu; tiny cupcakes with sprinkles on them; the shrimp cakes with homemade remoulade sauce (which always makes me feel like a genius); roasted brussels sprouts; and cheese straws as part of the pre-dinner nibble assortment. Everyone had a great time; the Jazz won; small children loved their toys. At the end of it all, the historian and I collapsed.
Actually, the collapse extended till today. I arose to schlep college daughter to her sandwich artistry job, then walked around Dillards like a ghost, bought a magazine at Target, and came home, made myself a little lunch, then slept for three hours. Historian did much the same, minus the post-holiday shopping. We woke up to recognize that there were still more dishes. So, actually, the Megastore kitchen is not closed. The dishwasher is going, and I'm making us a little dinner. Actually, the Megastore kitchen never closes.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Right now, me and Martha are tight.
I am not above picking up a lifestyle magazine from time to time. But I generally found Martha Stewart Living to be rather forbidding. Too many instructions and special requirements, fancy equipment and too many steps in all the projects. Likewise, when I am in the depths of my squalor (and that pretty much tops out about now in the Megastore year, with Christmas (the baking, the buying, the wrapping, the decorating) and the end of the semester (the grading, the portfolios, the torn-out hair) coinciding), I think wistfully of how I could keep a better house. You may have seen the new Martha Stewart book--Homekeeping Handbook? This sort of book is tailor-made for this type of annual (okay, maybe more frequent than that) crisis, and don't think I haven't thought about buying it. But ultimately, I know it wouldn't help. Martha is way too organized for the likes of me, and I would probably find I feel the same way about the book as I do about the magazine--too many instructions and special requirements, too much equipment and too many steps.
Anyway, I had a chance to peruse the Martha crafty gift mag and found several things I wanted to make--food things--so I bought my own copy. Between then and a couple of days ago, I re-perused it several times. I considered: should I scrap my own time-honored Christmas baking regimen in favor of Cigarettes Russes (a very labor-intensive cookie that yielded about 2 dozen fancy rolled cookies) and Sweet Cardamom Crackers (that last one still sounds kind of tempting)? Or should I add to the time-honored baking regimen? Replace one or two of the old faves with a new-fangled recipe or two (probably lifted from someone else with a tiny alteration--but who's counting)?
I know, these are trivial questions, but you have to remember--I was grading and dreaming of Christmas. I only put my tree up yesterday. I believe this beats the old record of the tardiest tree -raising date at the Store.
So, basically, the outcome of the perusing and considering was: I scrapped a couple of things in the old regimen and substituted new ones, and let me tell you, they are all good. I made pomegranate jelly (not baking, but I'm giving little jars away to people I would formerly have given baked goods, so somehow, it's part of the regimen). I made excellent caramels (each wrapped in a waxed paper square). I made Lemon Sandwich cookies. I made Chocolate Peppermint cookies, which were unbelievably good. I didn't scoop the dough with a 1" ice cream scoop, which apparently does a better job of apportioning out the dough--I don't have a 1" ice cream scoop, or silicone baking mats, or cooking spray, for that matter. I improvised. But it was all good, anyway.
Whatever else I may have thought about Martha, I'm pretty darn happy about my cookies. Also the jelly and the caramels. Maybe I will hang up my clothes tomorrow, or fold the dishtowels, cloth napkins, table cloths and place mats I had to wash because we had a mouse incident (don't ask). Even though Christmas is just around the corner, it's not too late to be a little tidier. That's would be good thing. I'm pretty confident that's the way Martha would see it, anyway.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
New 18-year old powers.
Let's pause for just a moment to say: damn.
That's right, my son is eighteen. The matter of his powers came up because I called him from the Fanzz store (yes, all the double-z merchandise in the world, in the basement of the EnergySolutions Arena) to figure out which of the zillion pairs of official NBA b-ball shorts were the ones he wanted. "You're gonna have to ask the guy, Mom," he said (oh, how I hate to ask the guy!), "because I can't see the shorts from here. Not even with my new 18-year old powers."
Well, damn. I asked the guy, and he pointed me to the shorts that most closely resembled the away game shorts, which I purchased. By the way, NBA merchandise is the biggest crazy scam in the universe, but that's another story for another day. The over-priced shorts plus a Nintendo DS game (Mario 3 on 3, in case you want to know) were the birthday gifts.
I also had explicit cake-making instructions: "Store-bought cake mix, chocolate, NOT organic, NOT Wild Oats, just normal chocolate cake, with in-a-can frosting, white, NOT organic, nothing crazy, just normal, store-bought frosting. In a can." My own awesome cake-making powers were held in check, though I exercised them just a little by hand-beating the batter for 300 strokes. Everyone agreed it was delicious, though, which just goes to show you--sometimes the normal, non-organic, store-bought option isn't so bad. We had a forest of candles to emphasize the point of how freakishly old the baby of the family now is.
The Jazz redeemed the price of the shorts by beating the Clippers handily tonight, a good gift for the birthday boy. I'm not particularly interested in him growing all the way up, moving out, making a life for himself. But these, as I understand it, are part of the repertoire of the 18-year old powers. So I suppose I'd better get used to the idea.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Now it's grading, which hasn't officially started for me yet. That's because I gave my students till tomorrow to turn stuff in. Which is just fine with me. I've been easing into all of it. Today I have been collecting student work from the Introduction to Imaginative Writing course to turn it into an e-zine. A one-off, of course, since the course is over. Once I'm sure there aren't brilliant little pieces straggling in late, I'll publish it on my website and the students will be able to send the URL around to their loved ones and they'll be able to download it, and all will be well.
It's been kind of fun. And I'm actually feeling quite a bit less frantic than I did, say, last week. And last week was actually quite a bit less frantic than the week before.
1. College daughter has been working her college butt off, finishing an e-portfolio, a "tangible" portfolio, a website, and all kinds of stuff. She's doing a great job--you can see the learning happening. I have read and commented on many of these documents. I feel her instructors should be paying me a small fee for this.
2. Running son finished the arduous Eagle Scout preparation and paperwork last night. I feel that the paperwork is basically a preparation for the workers of tomorrow to suck it up and jump through the hoops. However, let me say how proud I am of running son for this, as
he had a great project (a field day for third-graders, which he designed and managed like a pro). He is the latest in a long line of Eagle Scouts, including his dad, my dad, and my grandfather. Huzzah!
All the married and otherwise independent children are carrying on with their lives, including two expected babies, a bachelor's degree expected in the spring, a master's degree expected in the spring, and lots of holiday visiting about to occur. The historian's son is about to get married, too, a marriage that will bring two adorable twin girls into our lives. I'm not sure I'm going to relax much over the holidays, but for now, before the portfolios arrive full-force, I'm calm and kicking it.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
These things are an abomination before the Lord.
2. convenience stores without self-service soda fountains.
3. bad convenience store bathrooms.
Otherwise, our little road trip to CA was a smashing success, and here's why:
Running son did a bang up job running a very difficult course at the Footlocker Regional cross country event, Western Region sector. Here he is:
I'm sorry to say that he's the shadowy one in the foreground. It's a damn miracle that he's in the picture at all--I did a lot of prep work setting up my shot and when he came into view, I forgot that I wanted to take a picture, because I was yelling, "Go, Running Son, Go, Running Son, Go!" etc.
The course was extremely hilly at Mt. San Antonio College, or Mt. SAC, as they like to refer to it. My youngest sister actually ran this course when she was a high school runner. I was grown and gone, so this was news to me. Anyway, even though R.S. should have had the advantage of "training at altitude," as they say, lots of the runners from CA who "train at sea level" were damn fine runners. All in all, it was quite an interesting deal, to see how freakin' fast these young people are. When the seeded female runners lined up, the announcer pointed out that there would be "130 flying girls," and he was right. The fastest female high school runner from Utah, Kim Quinn, who is dang fast, came in 13th, not qualifying for the national finals--and she's fast! Really fast!
The historian and I left town on Thursday evening and drove to Cedar City. We got up in the morning and drove to Walnut, CA, near the San Bernardino mountains. We got in at about 2 and checked into our hotel where there were about a billion high school runners and their chaperones. Apparently, however, high school runners are a fairly serious bunch when they've got a race the next day--there were little to no shenanigans. We had Mexican food in a strip mall (the best kind) and marveled at all the signs written in Korean in Walnut. Kind of a trip.
The next morning was the race (see above). Then we drove to the Claremont Colleges to check them out. That was interesting and cool. Scotland daughter considered going to Scripps. Here is a gateway into the courtyard of academe at Scripps:
Seems pretty good to me. The historian ran across a job announcement for an academic vice president at Scripps. I say he applies, gets the job, and we get to hang out in this type of swanky yet serious educational environment. Or we could stay at the community college. Probably it's sixes.
We gassed up and drove all the way to St. George. I would like to tell you that we were edified by the sudden magical oasis in the desert that is Las Vegas. But we were not. I continue to loathe that town, and there were traffic issues and road work to underscore this point. Nonetheless, we passed through these trials (note to self: add "Las Vegas" to "These things are an abomination before the Lord" list), and we made it to St. George where we considered our dining options and ate at JB's, site of the cold french fries debacle. However, the Jazz did pull off a thrilling win against Seattle, so all was well.
We had a wonderful time. A road trip is a chance to reconnect with the person you're driving with. It had been years since we'd driven to the L.A. area, a trip I used to make a lot when my folks still lived there, and I still love all the landscapes you pass through to get there.
When we got back, the dogs were ecstatic to see us, and the house was none the worse for wear, or only barely the worse for wear. Let it be noted that Bruiser and Betty have both developed a hunger for knowledge, or at least so it appears, as while we were gone, they started to eat some books.
Monday, November 27, 2006
May I have a doctor's note, please?
Sunday we had a large-ish family gathering chez megastore, and it was lovely. It was one of those days on which I had entertained the fantasy that I would not only cook a lovely meal and the historian would magically transform the slightly farmyard conditions in which we allow ourselves to live, you know, day-to-day, into a welcoming and tidy-ish domicile--not only this, which would be a miracle on the higher end of the miracle magnitude spectrum, but also that I would (a) read the paper, (b) talk to the Scotland daughter and granddaughter, (c) run to the store and pick up some supplies for the lovely meal, and (d) get a little work done. Was I high?
Everything turned out great, and that's partly because, in the cooking, I deleted a couple of menu items. One, soup, I deleted as I was talking to Scotland daughter, who always manages to inject a note of good sense into things. Thank you, Scotland daughter! The other, a greens and herbs frittata, I deleted as I was starting to feel the panic a-risin', the time getting shorter and the guests on the porch, as it were. All to the good. I still managed to have way more food than we needed. That's partly because the farmer's market potatoes we bought for storage were about the size of footballs. Well, nerf footballs. Who can really know how much mashed potato yield there'll be from a football-sized potato? I ask you.
After this feat of hospitality, there was a significant amount of laying around that had to be done (not on the list). Today, I woke up to a very grey day. I took Betty in to get her stitches out (on the list), finished said school milestone (ditto), miraculously (there are many miracles around here about now) found some papers that my son had been looking for (yes, the loss of them was due to my general slatternly way of organizing--the miracle wasn't on the list, but I'll take it in lieu of the alternative, which was to reconstruct the papers out of thin air), took the dogs to the dog park in the dead of night where it started to sleet (okay, it was about 5:30 p.m, but very, very dark! and sleety! sleet definitely NOT on the list), and came home to a sports event that I cannot bring myself to discuss (not, not, not on the list, not ever).
There will be no discussion of Christmas trees around here until I at least finish all the items on the first list (the one that's merely ridiculous).
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Robert Altman, 1925-2006.
Here's a list of my personal favorites:
1. McCabe and Mrs. Miller. To my mind, one of the loveliest films ever made.
2. Nashville, of course, and also M*A*S*H.
3. Three Women. Very weird and completely unforgettable.
4. Cookie's Fortune.
5. Gosford Park. To my mind, one of the finest films of the last 10 years. Endlessly rewatchable.
6. The Player.
7. Popeye. Also very weird, but like nothing else you've ever seen.
What a great thing, to have made so many great films, and to have made some of the greatest at the very end of things. Today, all art aspires to the condition of Robert Altman, making great artifacts to the very end, but more importantly, just making.
Monday, November 20, 2006
This is important news, because one of the low-level grouses of my life has been that for the last several years, my dishes have appeared to acquire a film. A film? Nay, a grungy sheen that could only be expunged by serious hand-washing before you put them in the dishwasher. The Luddites among us may be saying, "So what? hand-wash, then." Except there it was, the dishwasher, claiming by its very existence that I could put dishes inside it, load it up with soap, shut it, turn it on, and later have clean dishes. You can't just hand-wash, not when your dishwasher makes a daily claim like that.
You can tell how serious it was by the fact that it bothered me, not exactly your paragon of tidiness. I was seriously considering scrapping the old dishwasher and getting a new one. I had been seriously considering this for years (it's still me we're talking about, not some get-it-done clean freak!).
Anyway, the historian's daughter had mentioned, in a conversation with her brother about the very same problem, that if he wasn't using Cascade, he really had no idea whether it was his dishwasher. So yesterday, I bought me some Cascade in a big old green bottle. And lo! all manner of dishes, vases, pans, and other dishwasher-safe receptacles got clean. Sparkling clean, even.
Other news: the Jazz were riveting in their overtime win over Phoenix. "We had this game won," whined Shawn Marion, "then we just gave it to the Utah Jazz." No, Mr. Marion. The Utah Jazz took the game. From you.
Betty the dog had surgery last week. She has a big rectangular shaved patch, a Frankensteinian scar and stitches, and no more mass on her back. We'll get the pathology report in a couple of days. In the meantime, she seems to feel like her old self--peppier, even.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Anyway, in the seeking out of the cheap (well, cheapest, anyway) tickets, I ended up with a nine hour layover in LAX. This seems excessive for just waiting it out in an airport. My bff says I should come up with some sort of wacky survey and administer it to all sorts of people at the airport, documenting this activity with a camera. "(W)hat (W)ould R(obert) A(ltman) D(o)?" she says, which is a damn good question.
I am considering the aforementioned proposal, but would in the meanwhile like to hear the suggestions of my readers. If you had nine hours in L.A. (or realistically, about five hours, with the getting off the plane and the getting checked in for an international flight), what would YOU do?
Monday, November 13, 2006
Exterior View, the Watergate Complex
Here's an interior view. I believe that you can feel the spirit of G. Gordon Liddy in this photo:
Watergate Hotel, Lobby Interior: Exit
We had an excellent view of the Potomac River from our window:
The Potomac in the morning
However, there were moments when things looked darker along the Potomac:
Gloomy, rainy-day Sunday (along the Potomac)
We took that to mean that there were some dark feelings about the election and its outcomes, somewhere in our Nation's Capitol. Here, we paused to contemplate Frederick Douglass's words: "Power concedes nothing without a demand."
Tree with autumn leaves, falling (universal symbol of the cyclical nature of change)
On our seemingly interminable flight home, we discussed these matters, concluding that the future of democracy is always uncertain.
Daughter contemplating the uncertain future of democracy.
Gratuitous Washington Monument shot.
Note: we also shopped quite a bit in Georgetown and hung out various places, including with my cousin, who was good enough to pick us up in Baltimore and schlep us out there again, fine young man that he is.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Sad news at the megastore--the dad of my kids, who ran for a Utah House seat, lost by about 400 votes. 400 out of about 6000! It seems so small. His competitor, the incumbent, ran a slacker campaign, had a crappy website, didn't even respond to the candidate questionnaire, didn't walk the neighborhoods . . . and still won.
All the kids did a lot of work for their dad--walking with him, distributing literature, standing on corners to honk and wave. Scotland daughter sent balloons and a boutonniere for the candidate. The historian and I contributed some money to the campaign. Last night, as the evening wore on, there was much checking of the online election results. The two candidates were even for awhile, but by 11 p.m. the die appeared to be cast, and this morning's paper confirmed it.
I would just like to say that an election in which some seats change hands but the overall ridiculous (im)balance of power in this state stays the same seems insufferable at the moment. Let us pause to contemplate it, and to wonder what might ever disturb this very bad status quo.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Megastore: behind the music.
Rocky Mountain Invitational 5K in Pocatello.
On the road to Logan, the next day to Pocatello.
On any given day, the dogs take the back seat on the way to the dog park.
These ninja turtles have no business going trick-or-treating, but there you are. They went, anyway.
More dog parkery.
Brilliant fall weather.
More brilliant fall weather.
My auntie celebrates her sixtieth birthday with a tiara.
Running son wins a medal at the BYU Seniors invitational 5K.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
My migration was Jazzarific!
But when I went to pick up my laptop this morning, all was sunny, even when they said to each other, "That one had some problems with the data" and even "the data failed." My heart beat a little faster, but an IT guy did the data transfer manually (whatever that might mean), and now my computer is migrated. And all is good. Ave, IT guys!
In the meanwhile, the Jazz looked amazing last night--powerful and together and actually a little deep. (Don't tell me they're not, I don't want to hear it from you skeptics, and you know who you are.) Whoo hoo, Jazz!
As a last word, it's time for all you television watchers to give 30 Rock a shot. NBC, Wednesdays at 7 (MST). It is hilarious. It's a sitcom, so it only demands a little of your time. It is very, very, very good.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Daylight savings (fall back) is the moment in the liturgical year* when we celebrate the world's sinking into the dark. I find there's something poetic about it--I'm grateful for the little measure of extra early light when I'm trying to get up in the morning, but soon that last little bit of light will dissipate and then both morning and evening will be aswim in dusk.
We took Bruiser and Betty to the dog park as the sun left rosy streaks as it fell. The late hours of the afternoon are now set as rarin'-to-go time for the dogs. Betty comes to the door with a ball in her mouth to greet the historian, and Bruiser doesn't have enough body to contain all his energy. Yesterday we met at the park, as I was coming from school. On the way, I was listening to Illinoise, which, by the way, is full evidence that Sufjan Stevens is the true Whitmanian inheritor. The music, and particularly "Casimir Pulaski Day," is suffused in melancholy and beauty. Beautiful song, beautiful dogs, beautiful sunset, beautiful historian.
So why do I feel just a little sad?
*As of this moment, I have decided to become my own religion.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Saturday morning after the market's over, but not really.
He should be back any minute now. After that, we're headed off to the Avenues to buy local produce from Chad, a hilarious combo of entrepreneur and small-scale farmer. (Actually, I think this descriptor is apt for all small-scale farmers--my CSA farmer is definitely more crunchy than Chad, but at heart, he's just trying to get everyone to accede to the superior quality of his garlic.) At the regular farmer's market, Chad sets out coolers and laundry baskets full of various types of produce, with hand-lettered paper signs that say things like "Chad's No Smoosh Heirloom Tomatoes, $3/lb." or (also regarding the tomatoes, "Delicate! Handle like Glass!") or "Exotic! New Salad Green, Sorrel, $2/bag." He's a young guy, and apparently he keeps going during the winter because he has a greenhouse or something like that.
I paid $10 (an offer only available to the first 25 sign-ups) to get an advance e-mail that would allow me to put in an order, which Chad will set aside. I replied immediatement--did I ever want some of the last of the basil and tomatoes. Also, I ordered a bag of broccolini ("LIMITED one bag per customer per order!") and several types of greens, including Italian Red Dandelion greens, which I will try ("a very spicy green, for salads or light cooking LIMITED, so order fast $2.25/bag").
It's a new adventure, and I'm looking forward to it. Chad is a local treasure.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
The SLTrib Wants to Know What I Think About Basketball.
"I'm writing to you as someone who has expressed opinions about the Jazz to the Tribune. I'm writing about Jerry Sloan, who's described by Sports Illustrated as "the finest coach in pro sports." That means one of two things: Either he's not appreciated enough around here or he's overrated by the rest of the world. What do you think? Thanks, Kurt Kragthorpe"
Here's what I had to say (yes, I was on it like a pig on slop [check out rural metaphor, in honor of Jerry S.]):
"I admire Sloan, in part because he seems like a throwback to another era. When I talk about basketball with friends who've played ball (not me, not ever, not at all--strictly a fan), they have two issues with him: one, he doesn't know how to nurture young talent, and two, he doesn't know how to coach "today's game," the more entrepreneurial, urban inventive style of ball. Basically, it's, like, Hoosiers versus [insert urban basketball-style movie title here]. And maybe there's some truth to both assertions. Still, I like that the ethos of the Jazz seems to be exemplified by Sloan, and with him, Karl Malone and John Stockton. It's hard for me to feel that Sloan's so limited, given the amazing success they had with his model not very long ago. I like his tough old bastard reputation, I love watching him on the sideline, I think he's great.
So my opinion is that people just want change for change's sake sometimes. I remember reading awhile ago on Slate.com (okay, years ago) that the Jazz were the only team that still ran plays (this was during the Karl/John NBA finals years). Even the so-called "triangle offense" isn't really a play--and anyone who's coached a kids' soccer team can tell you about triangulation as a way of moving a ball. The fact that the Jazz have a disciplined offense--or even the philosophy of a disciplined offense--means a lot to me as a basketball fan. The Pistons of the last few years seem to have that same philosophy. I love the dynamic of the old-school philosophy in the overall mix of the NBA. It creates a more interesting basketball epic.
Thanks for asking!
New Music: I strongly suggest that all 80s music afficionados get themselves a copy of White Bread Black Beer by Scritti Politti, or, more aptly, Green Gartside. It is quite beautiful.
I have also been listening to new-to-me disks by Lindsey Buckingham, who's kind of a genius. When I say the words "Fleetwood Mac," do not flee: LB is completely beautiful and utterly strange. In a good way. There's an actual new disk called Under the Skin, very lovely.
Finally, while I was traveling hither and yon for meetings, I listened to Rufus Wainwright's
Want 2. It's quite thrilling. Big voice and gorgeous songs.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Before and after.
Before, it was mostly story, theme, character. After seeing The Color of Money (minor Scorsese, I know, but one of my favorites) and Taxi Driver, I found myself mesmerized by the image. You know the way Scorsese will sometimes cut away from a shot of the main action to linger on a particular detail (in both these films, it happened to be shots of hands--Travis Bickle making an expansive gesture over the desk of the Cybill Shepherd character, or the title shots, I think it was, in The Color of Money)? These moments irrevocably changed the way I saw movies.
I had a similar experience in high school with literary reading--when my English teacher pointed out how the frame narration in Heart of Darkness worked. I would like to know from my readers if they have had similar moments, where a light went on and you suddenly had new tools for apprehending things.
Update: Runner's World. Running son ran in the State XC meet yesterday. Despite having had some bad garlic bread ("It was more bread-garlic, Mom," he told me; "I'm afraid to burp") at the team pasta dinner the night before, and therefore being afflicted with a dire digestive tract situation, he came in 34th in a large field, with a time of 17:01. (For the sake of comparison, last year he ran the same course at about 17:45, coming in about 60th.) He ran a terrific first mile again, though I don't have an exact time to report. We all feel he could have taken 20 seconds off that time had he been feeling better. I will report periodically on his winter running--he'll be training all year round now.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Time for the Best of 2006 Movies List.
The Best Movies I've Seen in 2006 So Far: The Megastore List.
Best 2005 films I saw in 2006: Nine Lives, Brokeback Mountain, Munich.
Best movie of only esoteric interest if you weren't raised in the religious tradition of my people: States of Grace
Best Movie with Murderous Male Posturing as the Main Source of Comedy: The Matador. It really was funny.
Best Historical Movie with a Romance as Its Main Analytic Device: The New World
Best film to help you see a current political situation more clearly: Paradise Now
Best Tommy Lee Jones vanity project that, for the most part, redeems itself: The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Best music movie of the year: Dave Chappelle's Block Party
Best Spike-Lee-as-a-hired-gun-movie: Inside Man
Best satire: Thank You for Smoking
Best re-release: The Conformist
Best female sensibility in charge of a movie: Friends With Money
Best re-invention of a genre picture: Brick
Best animated film, best drug film, best Robert Downey Jr. performance: A Scanner Darkly
Best documentary: The Heart of the Game
Best small-ish picture (also: Best Australian picture) Look Both Ways
Worst excuse for a documentary nonetheless redeemed by stellar music: Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
Best non-formula comedy: Little Miss Sunshine
Best sports movie: Invincible
Best French movie featuring a grey flannel horse: Science of Sleep
Best small picture: Half Nelson
Best epic picture: The Departed
A pretty respectable list so far. Not as good as the greatest year in memory, 1999, which featured American Beauty, Being John Malkovich, Election, The Iron Giant, Go, The Matrix, Magnolia, Fight Club, The Sixth Sense, Three Kings, Sleepy Hollow, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Topsy Turvy, Run, Lola, Run, The Insider, Princess Mononoke, The End of the Affair . . . but still a pretty good list.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Stuff to remember for the last farmer's market of the year: a(n ongoing) list.
2. tomatoes from the savage boys (for roasting)
3. the last of the basil for pesto
5. a box of potatoes to store?
6. couple or so of winter squashes (storage)
7. possibly grapes?
8. some cheese(s)
9. more garlic (assess how much I actually still have)
10. peaches, if there are any left
Monday, October 09, 2006
Over fall break, the historian and I went to the beautiful part of Wyoming--up near Cody. At the BBR--that's the Bad Beaver Ranch--there are five acres with a stream, the Beartooth mountains right up the road, the Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone River running through it all, and Red Lodge, Montana just a half hour away. That's Red Lodge, with excellent restaurants and so forth. We drove through Yellowstone Park to get there on the way--as last year, the park all but empty except for the pile-up of bison we ran into (not literally--but they were definitely crossing the road without looking both ways.)
Our friends moved to WY from the coast of Oregon, where it was way rainy too much of the time. They're definitely at the opposite extreme now, though. Oregon's all soy milk and salmon and health food stores and sushi. Wyoming, on the other hand, greets you with a sign that says, "Wyoming is Beef Country! X County Cattlewomen!" It's cows and ranching and hunting and fishing, plus talking about all of that. Also, pretty darn conservative.
I used to always say (if you're a friend of mine, you may already have heard me say it) that, beside the coast, everything in the West is Idaho. But Wyoming is more Idaho than Idaho, if you catch my drift. Still, wow. Let me just say that the country is spectacularly beautiful. I always kind of liked the whole I-80 stretch, all of it, but I realize now that that upper western corner of Wyoming is just--you just can't imagine it till you've seen it. There must have been some amazing seismic action when whoever made those mountains made 'em.
We came home to find running son reading for his psychology class, covered with a blanket. He hasn't felt great for a week or so now, so his race time wasn't his best. However, and even so, he came in 8th, and both the boys and the girls of West Jordan High will be running in State next week. So now, we're going to try to get the skinny kid feeling better, so he can kick some ass at state. Maybe he needs a little Wyoming beef?
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I don't have time for this nonsense.
Ah, well. A few updates for ya:
1. The poem-a-day-for-a-month project seems to be finished. I have three more poems in the works, which I will write and post, but as of now I have 23 poems, which I think is pretty darn good for 30-ish days. I'll be working on them for a long time to come, I bet--or maybe working off them is a better way to put it. Next time you see Dr. Write, congratulate her on her batch of poems, among which are some stellar sonnets and other assorted excellents.
2. The historian harvested our grapes and we have made juice of them.
The below is a photo of the historian in a tree, which is where our grapes actually grow, since we've never quite pruned them, actually. We always say we're gonna, and then we never do. Even worse, however, is the fact that we had many, many more grapes up in the tree, but we let them stay on the vine too long and the birds got 'em. I'd like to say that we're philosophical about the birds eating the grapes, but we're not. We curse the birds for eating our grapes. Damn birds! (This is not to mention the satanic yellow-jackets that decimate our precious little table grapes. I vow to hunt down their nest and figure out a way to make them go away without getting stung to death. Surely there's an internet site about that?)
3. Last weekend at the Juan Diego Invitational cross country meet, running son came in fourth, ran a very fast first mile (4:38), and overall had his best time for a 5K ever. Region is next Monday, State the week after that. All of you keep running son in your hearts and hope that he will have two surpassingly great races.
My sister and brother-in-law will be running the St. George Marathon this weekend as well. Cheers to them, and great luck in qualifying for the Boston.
4. The historian and I will be seizing fall break by the horns and taking a little trip to Wyoming, where we will visit our friends George and Maureen. G & M, Inc., have some property, The Bad Beaver Ranch, where there's a stream and some llamas and a couple of dogs and lots of cats. Probably also some cougars--I'm definitely hoping for cougars. We'll be driving through Idaho and into Yellowstone, then off to Cody and beyond. I'll have a full report for you when we get back.
Monday, October 02, 2006
'kay, this is funny.
Married to the sea
Friday, September 29, 2006
Things to eat before you die.
1. Sourdough pancakes made with your own sourdough starter. I had a sourdough starter that I started myself for a couple of years, and we had these pancakes every Saturday morning. They were so good, we used to invite people over to eat them with us. With jam.
2. Super thin garlic frites. I have not eaten these in France, but I think almost everyone's fries suck, except these that I ate in San Francisco at a restaurant called Les Joulin's. I would seriously, almost, go to SF just to eat these fries. Perfectly salty, with fresh minced garlic and finely minced parsley.
3. Chile verde burritos, smothered, with cheese and onions. I don't care if this is authentic or what. I also don't care if I'm a vegetarian when I order and demolish this dish. This dish is heaven on earth, and if you order two with rice and beans (as opposed to the order of three) at La Frontera in SLC, you have a hefty lunch the next day.
4. Your own homemade chai. Use black tea, cardamom seeds, star anise, cloves, and black peppercorns. You can also throw in a cinnamon stick if you just want more spiciness. Let it steep as long as you want, since you're going to use hot milk, too. A teensy bit of sugar, too. I like to make this by the couplea quarts and drink it in the morning all winter long.
5. Bread pudding made with your own bread, plus dried blueberries, plus superfine grated lemon rind. Let me know if you need a recipe.
Now, I tag francesca eliot, my bgf since forever (since we were fifteen, if you can believe it), and a world-class cook and eater, whose gorgeous photoblog appears to be down at the moment.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Monday, September 25, 2006
I accomplished a little editorial work in my closet this weekend. My new goal is to have a French wardrobe, i.e., fewer but more beautiful clothes that I will wear to death. Thought you'd like to know this. When I told the historian, he raised his eyebrows, but only slightly. To his everlasting credit.
I'm still behind in my work. I'm trying to think in two hour blocks of work, but as you can see, I'm blogging. Some things have to come before the two hour block starts.
Last week was the first episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. I have exhausted, or nearly exhausted, all the syndicated episodes, so I had to resort to watching the new season. It was very good, I must tell you. Eric Bogosian appears to be replacing both Jamie Sheridan and Courtney Vance, and doing a bang-up job of it. I know, no one cares but me, but it was excellent. Vincent D'Onofrio is meatier and greyer, but also more soulful and mournful than any other TV detective.
This week, aside from a horrible major's meeting on Friday, in which all the college English departments get together to talk about transfer issues, will be a good week, because it's autumn, because I will be caught up (don't laugh!), because my closet is for the moment organized, because for the moment, there are clean sheets, and because the season premiere of The Gilmore Girls is Tuesday (also a new episode of L&O: CI). These are my pleasures, and I'm sticking to 'em.
Special note for everyone who hasn't already heard this story: Jesus appeared in my dreams Sunday morning. He was running a poetry workshop, and I was in it. This made it into my poem of the day yesterday, in case you're interested.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Bad teacher or terrible teacher?
On the other hand, the learning module is first rate. Also, after a horrific day of sniffing and sneezing yesterday, I feel better today. Also, Bruiser went to the dog park in heroics of cold-suffering on the part of myself and the historian. Only two other dogsters were at the park, just to show you. It was raining! And we saw running son do another 5K today. And I did, after all, finish the learning module. And it's posted! Already!
Fine. Terrible teacher. I will redeem myself. By getting up early to read the drafts.
Monday, September 18, 2006
My theme song, which I may be a little embarrassed to admit.
|Your Theme Song is Beautiful Day by U2|
"Sky falls, you feel like
It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away"
You see the beauty in life, especially in ordinary everyday moments.
And if you're feeling down, even that seems a little beautiful too.
Otterbutt's is "Back in Black." Much hipper in a retro way. I actually feel my true theme song is more melancholy than this. I will get back to you on this.
To hector or not to hector.
But that's all right, that's okay, I'll get back to blogging someday. In the meantime, here's what else is on my mind:
Also tomatoes to roast, flowers to plant, dogs and winter to consider, a jazz concert tonight (Ramsay Lewis, very spry at 71, along with his drummer and bassist), and autumn to enjoy.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Running son deconstructs a salad.
Son: Mom, is a potato a carb?
Son: Okay, that's what I'm going to eat. [click]
Tonight, a protein night, we ran up to Wendy's (where else?) for a number 6 (spicy chicken sandwich) combo, but with a potato in the french fry slot and a lemonade in the soda slot. Lettuce only on the sandwich. No chives (I swear he said "hives," but he was adamant that he didn't), no sour cream, cheese but not cheese sauce on the potato. But alas! they had no baked potatoes left.
"What's the side salad like?" he asked me, the all-knowing of salads, I guess.
"I don't know, it's good, I guess, just plain," said I, fount of salad wisdom.
So that's what he ordered. When we got it home, he was pleased to see that all the extras--shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices--were "all laid out," the better to remove them. "Who wants the tomatoes and cucumbers?" he hollered. Both the historian and I demurred, he from another room; then, almost simultaneously, we both said, "but don't throw them away." Waste not, want not, particularly when it comes to your salad vegetables.
"Who knew this salad was so huge," he said, choking it down. It goes down a little easier if you lube it up with some ranch.
"That salad is tiny," I said.
"But it's deep," he said. With only a little of the lettuce debris left in the shallow, shallow black plastic dish, he said, "My coaches are going to be so proud of me for eating a salad. I'm gonna tell Coach White in second period."
Friday, September 08, 2006
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Coming back from a holiday makes work much workier, if you catch my drift. Teachers in my corridor, in an unscientific poll, agreed that the students were not into it after the Labor Day holiday. Plus everything just seems grouchier. Fetching an LCD projector? What a pain in the ass. Walking over to the relocatable classroom? Nightmare! Sweating through a presentation that students seem only marginally excited about? The horror.
I've finished teaching for the week, so that's good. Yesterday I taught at home all day, including building a new presentation for my online composition course, and that was good. Even working all day, however, still left me behind. Sweaty, and also pissy.
A redeeming feature of the week has been that I am still caught up on the Poem a Day for a Month project. I'm loving writing new poems. It's like a contraption that's getting in gear. I took a walk yesterday and came up with four new ideas for poems, and wrote two them. Then, at the City Art Meltdown, I read one of them, along with another poem from the project, as well as an older poem. Dr. Write also read one of her witty and also heartbreaking pieces, beautifully, and the evening was a smashing success. Props to my writing group, a braintrust of poets if ever there was one.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
I cannot collect my thoughts.
In a completely rude gesture, the POTUS and his entourage
came to SLC on or about my birthday, necessitating a visit
to the protest. Mainly, I was protesting the fact that GWB
had wrecked my birthday.
Running son ran the pre-region race, his first of the
season. Despite a strained calf muscle, he came in
third at 17:10, which is seventeen seconds faster
than his best time on that course last year. This picture
is only a generic one, as running son was already way
up the hill at this point (or so). He argues that he
could run the course in 16:45 without the calf strain, and
time will tell.
Labor Day = the last time we can stay in the cabin
before my dad closes it down for the winter. Henry's
Fork of the Snake gleaming down below the path here.
Duke the Dachshund refuses to give me a good look.
The roof of the meadhall. Or, the ceiling of the log
cabin, which I find exceedingly beautiful.
As you have now all heard, Dr. Write and I are engaged
in a battle to the death. No, wait: we're exchanging poems!
I keep getting those two things mixed up! She's writing at
genius level, may I report. This is the poet equivalent of
National Novel Writing Month. Wish us luck.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Running son goes back to school. Also, college daughter.
School gets more and more prescriptive, I note. A few years ago, they started sending out "Mandatory Attendance" notices as part of the registration packet. The gist of this is to let you know, as the slacker parent you no doubt are, that your kids are required, by God, to go to school, and that by signing the notice, you acknowledge that if you let your kid stay home because he's exhausted or only sort of sick, or whatever, that you are thereby evidenced to be a slacker parent who doesn't understand that kids are REQUIRED to be in school! This year, they've started a new punitive attendance policy, whereby kids who miss school have to pay for the privilege of making up the classes they missed. I should protest this ridiculous practice, but I am mainly hoping to outlast it, as running son is a senior.
He went early to talk to a counselor this morning. New rules: you can't just show up early to talk to your counselor! No! you must take your chances with the first-come, first-served after school policy for talking to the counselor. Now, I'm the last person to criticize public school employees, seriously, but come on, what are the counselors doing before school? Organizing files? investigating criminals? curing cancer?
Running son has issues with credit to work out. He spent some time in the public schools of Georgia, the upshot of which is that the Utah schools feel he should make up a semester of 9th grade English. We all swear we had this worked out once, but a counselor who was apparently having a really, really bad day (serious obstacles in the curing cancer before school endeavor, probably) said that our previous solution would not work. This means that we have to go over the heads of the counselors. Luckily, running son's dad knows all the principals in the whole state of Utah, basically, so he'll broker the deal.
Whatever. It will all work out, but I'm struck over and over how many ways school gets in the way. Even a kid who feels the summer has flown by and he's done nothing but run, sleep, and work at the movie theater gets a little excited at the beginning of school. He'll manage to jump through these hoops, and probably pretty gracefully. There are probably plenty of kids who won't. [note the previous citation of a civic dimension to a personal issue--does this improve my ethos?]
College daughter's first day of classes up in Logan was today. She's been working up there for a week and a half, clearly glad to be on her own again after a summer at home. The thing is, we all miss her around here. Cheers to the sophomore year.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Requiem for a meadow.
West Jordan City Municipal Code, Chapter 42, "Environment," Section 3, "Nuisances," Part 2, "Weeds, Refuse, and Other Deleterious Objects":
"Injurious weeds and noxious weeds mean those plants growing in an uncultivated state, not used for food, fiber or ornamentation, extending in height greater than 12 inches above ground. The term "injurious or noxious weeds" shall also include those plants listed as noxious weeds by the state commissioner of agriculture pursuant to Utah Code Ann. § 4-17-3, together with such plants later added to such list.
"Nuisance means any injurious or noxious weeds, garbage, refuse, or unsightly or deleterious objects."
Monday, August 21, 2006
Was it a bad day, or a terrible day?
I was awakened by a knock at the door. On my porch stood a young man in a blue uniform. Postal worker with a package? or police officer? Dear reader, it was a police officer, come to deliver this news: the meadow (aka our front lawn) is illegal. "That wouldn't be considered xeriscaping," he said, not unkindly, when I ventured a tentative not-even-a-real-argument that we might be, sort of, xeriscaping. He gave me the phone number of the city office that could tell me what counts as xeriscaping in West Jordan, and we have fourteen days to get things taken care of. If we do, the case will be closed.
We're a case. An open case of illegal lawn activity.
Plus, my computer screen just informed me that I had made a "bad request." Bad request! Also, I'm trying not to contemplate which of our neighbors ratted us out to the cops.
Monday, August 14, 2006
I will not tell you everything, and thus deprive you of the enjoyment of surprise. I will, however, tell you that on the "What Would Jesus Do?" generator, one answer the generator came up with was this: "Jesus would transform 500 llamas into a set of encyclopedias with nothing but a nail!"
You may not need amusements like this, but I do, especially in the middle of slogging away at my online class, which should have been finished and up for review two weeks ago.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
My own private Idaho.
Even though I'm taking my laptop and will have some work to do, the thought of doing it up there, of taking walks and maybe seeing a western tanager or an eagle or a moose, of making a fire, maybe, of sleeping easily the way I do up there--all this seems heavenly.
So, there's late water soaking into the ground so nothing dies while we're gone; plum jam finishing cooking before I put it into jars; teenagers downstairs arguing pleasantly; the historian in his study, doing something at his desk; and my head buzzing about what to take, what last tasks to do, and what to forget till we get home.
And when I get home--or at least the night before we come home--I will feel like this:
Friday, August 04, 2006
Readers of the megastore will be fascinated to hear this bit of info: people in my family are all getting older. All the children have grown. It was nice, even so and despite this reminder of the ineluctable progress of mortality, to see everyone, to see the new babies and the growing kids. To wit:
Boyz of all ages prefer to play GameBoy, their form of klatsching.
These two people were born mere days apart!
(beautiful daughter on right; excellent nephew on left)
Dad, as eldest son, delivers obligatory pre-luncheon remarks.
Mom takes a slow train (to Provo)
The Historian rides the historic train.
More gameboy action on the train, with running son.
International singing star son and his lovely wife.
College daughter making the rounds on the train.
A passel of cousins in a tree.
More cousins in the river.
Meet my cousin, a new spook for the Company. I'll say no more.
The Jordanelle reservoir.
There's so much more--nieces, aunts and uncles, more scenery. It was a good day.