Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Daylight savings.

Hello, darkness at five.

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.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Saturday morning after the market's over, but not really.

This morning, we got up when it was light, which is about 8 a.m. Why isn't 8 a.m. the standard time to get up, by the way? It's a good time, especially for a night owl such as myself. Running son had to go to "Attendance School" this a.m. for a half an hour. He had three tardies in his volleyball class, which meant he missed the First Roll Call. He explained that for each tardy over two, you have to attend "Attendance School" to "make up the learning." We all savored the irony of this. (By "savoring irony" over Saturday morning breakfast, I am doing my bit for Running son's future literature teachers.)

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.

Sorry to post so quickly on the heels of the last post (what am I, Moby?), but Kurt Kragthorpe just e-mailed me with this:

"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!

lisa b."

Pop notes.

Movies about magic: I have now seen both The Illusionist and The Prestige. Both were enjoyable. Of the two, I found The Illusionist to be more magical, although The Prestige had moments that were pretty stunning, visually. If you want to see a real magician, I suggest you all get your hands on a copy of Ricky Jay and His Fifty-two Assistants. Now that's a wizard.

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.

In talking to a friend about The Departed, which I thought was just terrific, our conversation turned to the Scorsese oeuvre in general (he wanted to know if it was like GoodFellas--quite different, in my estimation, particularly in its tone and visual style). I realized that it was two Scorsese films that changed forever the way I looked at movies.

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.

I'm thinking of making my last year's misapprehension and trumped up rage over the 2005 Best American Poetry anthology being published in September, which in turn caused me to publish my Best Movies of 2005 list in October, an annual event. Thanks to those who cleared up my years-long misreading of the situation. Ahem. Here goes:

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:

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:

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.

1. Do I have enough dried cherries and pecans to freeze for the winter?
2. tomatoes from the savage boys (for roasting)
3. the last of the basil for pesto
4. pine-nuts?
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

Wyoming rhapsody.

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.

Well, actually, I do--I have all the time in the world, apparently, for just about any kind of nonsense--but I'm just saying I don't because it sounds commanding. I've tried to get the historian to practice saying this, because I feel he could use this expression in all sorts of meetings where I feel confident nonsense is going on routinely. No dice, though. He's not the kind of guy to reduce things to a snappy catchphrase. More's the pity--no one would be expecting it from him.

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.


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