Sunday, September 30, 2007

What's new?

Apparently, life is far, far too interesting and absorbing for blogging these days. Either that or I haven't had anything to write about. Either that, or I've felt a tad on the exhausted side. Either that, or it must be time to blog right now.

Okay! First off and above all, the new blog over at twit. Yes, the activist "let's not sit around and whine about it" Dr. Write has begun a new blog all about the television. You can read my newest post there. It is already good, as several people have begun posting on this important and vital subject.

Second: poor Betty has had surgery this past week, extensive surgery. It's enough to break your heart. Her prognosis in the short term is good, but probably not so good in the long term. In fact, that's all I can say at the moment.

Third: I sent my manuscript out to several competitions and applied for a residency at a writer's colony. It's part of my assault on the world, which starts now, like Lloyd Dobler's.

Fourth: I spent the night up in Park City with my mom, sisters, nieces, aunt, and daughter. There were hardly any shenanigans and no highjinks to speak of. But it was a lot of fun. There was Mexican food at night, and in the morning, there were waffles. Driving down Emigration Canyon in the snow was a trip, but on the plus side, we listened to the great second side of Abbey Road (it will always be a side to me, because I first listened to this recording on vinyl), which made the ride sublime.

Fifth: there are drafts, some drafts, to catch up on. But that can happen tomorrow.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Unwillingness.

Question: is The Unwillingness

a. the name of my new band?
b. the name of Jorie Graham's new book of poems?

or is it

c. the state of mind that has gripped me, now that it appears to be fall, really fall?

Unwillingness to buckle down and do my work, read my drafts, respond to student posts. Unwillingness to concede that I am obligated to send certain e-mails, set up meetings, follow through on commitments, give people answers to questions.

I just want to do other things, like make applesauce and add voile edges to certain clothes that I am itching to cut up and make into other, more interesting clothes. Like learn, finally, to make podcasts. Like hang out with the kids when they're home and they're willing. Like finally, finally get caught up on certain television shows I haven't gotten around to watching, like season 2 and following of Six Feet Under and Weeds. Or think of ways to support myself with internet activities. Or store nuts for the winter.

In other news, a genius contraption I recently purchased for the fat price of $8 is a little sandwich grill. Nothing fancy, I got it at Target when they were selling cheap microwaves, coffeemakers, and tiny refrigerators for college kids to outfit their dorm rooms with. The historian's son made us grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches with his one day when we dropped by for lunch, and they were so delicious that I got my own. Sort of like a panini maker, but American?

Anyway, it turns out that running son and college daughter are mad for these sandwiches, and they'll stand around and talk to you while you make them one, and they are grateful. Mothers and fathers of America: making your kids completely self-reliant is a little bit over-rated. You want them to be able to do these things for themselves, but to be willing to let you do these things for them, because the kids, who otherwise dole out information about their lives in tiny, tiny useless molecules of information, will chat in an affable and one might say even voluble way while you perform this modest service. It's a better-than-even trade-off for the parents.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Q & A.

Q. Where were you when you heard the eighth grandchild had arrived?

A. What? Eight? That's a bunch of grandchildren, isn't it? Right--at the dog park.

David John, born 6:59 p.m. September 20. And his mother.

Historian and newest grandchild.

Sleepy. 8 lb., 21 in.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Manifesto #1, issued from the big chair.

Communique #1: It's time for you people to get cable.

First of all, I want you people to take my advice about what shows to watch, as in: "Mad Men is the best show of the summer." or "Damages is not to be missed." If you people don't have cable, your rejoinder is, "I'll watch it when it comes on dvd and I can get it on Netflix." Not good enough, you people. I want you to take my advice Right. Now.

Second of all, if you have cable, it's simply not true, as some of you have protested, that you'll watch more television and you can't afford to watch television. You people are all disciplined, far, far more disciplined than I am, for instance. All of you. No, really, you people: you are the people for whom TiVo or DVR were invented. If you don't have time to watch the shows I recommend to you, by all means, TiVo them or DVR them and watch them when you have time, between grading assignments the second after your students have turned them in. I know you. You can do it, you people.

Thirdly, it is not too expensive. Give me a break, you people. I know you can figure out a way to pay for cable without the premium stations. You people, this is all I ask of you. Just get the cable that has Mad Men (AMC) and Damages (FX). So I can talk to you about the shows I watch.

And another thing, you people: what is it with the sorry state of television criticism and commentary in this great but possibly failing nation of ours? Why is it that when a person who loves a television show wants to read about it, because none of her friends are watching it--they're all waiting for it to come out on dvd, so they can watch it on Netflix--she can find virtually nothing, not even on the internet? Or a review based on watching the first two episodes when, come on, you people--anyone knows that it takes more than two episodes to get most shows rolling. (Although not Mad Men or Damages--both of these shows were awesome from the get-go.) Can we do anything about this, you people? Can we make television criticism better in this great but possibly failing nation of ours? Not if we're waiting for shows to come out on Netflix, we can't. But I digress.

If you won't get cable--and the good Lord knows I've tried my best to convince you that you should--I will have little recourse. I think you know what I'll be forced to do. That's right--I'll have to keep on talking to myself about these shows, that's what. You people: it will be upon your heads.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My life is now complete.

My new (to me) comfortable chair, ensconced in my office.

My untidy bookshelves (view from new to me comfy chair).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lost and found.

Found: my earring, dark purple teardrop with fishhook back. On colleague's backyard deck by firebowl, near where I was sitting.

Overheard (in Scotland):

Mother: Miriam, we need to turn the lights off when we leave a room. Electricity costs mommy and daddy money!

(sometime later) Mother, taking clothing off the line, singing to herself.

Miriam (possibly with clenched teeth): Stop singing! It costs us money!

[I'm thinking that anything even remotely irritating could be said to cost us money: dog hair (stop shedding! it costs us money!), fruitflies (stop swarming! it costs us money!), insomnia (stop keeping me up at night! it costs us money!) . . .]

New: inky, self-applied manicure in a color called "Moscow at Midnight." I am a big fan of these very dark fingernails. I am, in fact, enamored of my nail enamel. This, despite the fact that, while shopping for this polish, I dropped a bottle of it in the store and it shattered and splattered, dear readers, everywhere, including on my own ankles and knees.

Me: I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry! (meaning: I am utterly and completely humiliated by my shameful lack of coordination and propensity for shattering inky nailpolish everywhere).

Salesperson: It's no problem. Really. Bottles of polish get dropped all the time. You'd be surprised.

Me: I will pay for it, really. I'm so sorry.

Salesperson: No, you're fine. Really. It happens all the time. You'd be surprised. One time a customer dropped a bottle of polish and then got mad at me about it. Like it was my fault. You're being nice. That really helps.

[The customer got mad? As in, how dare you have nail polish that might drop and shatter? In glass bottles, I ask you! I should sue you for having breakable nail polish bottles that might splatter all over my ankles. And knees! My knees have inky polish on them! I should sue!]

Me: I'm so sorry, I really apologize.

Her: You're fine, really. Don't worry. It happens all the time.

And I walk away with splatters of dark dark dark nail polish. On my ankles and on my knees.

(stop splattering nail polish! It costs us money!)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

You're what? Already?

Last night at the English dept. party, it became clear (through casually dropped references made by a number of my blogging posse) that they are already grading.

What are they thinking? Can it be true? or is it a conspiracy to make me feel bad about myself (I'm pretty sure such conspiracies are being plotted on a daily basis--otherwise, how can I explain all my self-loathing?)?

I had to reassure myself that I wasn't a slacker by reminding myself that I, too, am "grading" online discussions and posts. But are we talking about full-on, "they handed in their assignments and now I must grade them," kind of grading? I really like to get a full head of steam which easily takes three or four weeks into the semester, and which usually involves parking my car facing downhill, before I go there.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday night at the movies.

We saw 3:10 to Yuma tonight, and may I say that a Western can sometimes be just the thing. In fact, I said to the historian as we departed into the night that they should make more Westerns, if they're good ones like 3:10 to Yuma.

What was so good about it, you ask? Well, let me tell you: it starts with the acting, which was dang good pretty much throughout. You might say that the kid who plays Charlie Prince, Ben Foster, hammed it up pretty good, and I wouldn't disagree, but maybe a good Western needs a preening, preternaturally wide-eyed psychopath, and if that's true, then Ben Foster filled that bill. But Christian Bale and Russell Crowe were stellar. Who delivers the Burt Lancaster-ish big guy charisma better than Russell Crowe these days? I submit to you that the answer is: no one.

The story is good, good enough that the two hours it takes to watch the movie didn't seem one bit long. Is it a guy movie? you ask. Well, probably, but my women: who among us hasn't been thoroughly colonized by patriarchy and its mythos? So you might as well enjoy yourself! Pretend you're an outlaw (Russell Crowe) on the one hand, and a good, principled person (Christian Bale) on the other. You probably wouldn't want to be any of the women in this story, unless you want to be a saloon gal who gets all luvved up by Russell Crowe.

As a bonus, there was a preview for the new Paul Thomas Anderson movie (yes, he is "Paul Thomas" in this movie, and not "P.T."), There Will Be Blood. Oh my goodness, it looks great. A. Daniel Day-Lewis. B. Paul Dano, the silent kid from Little Miss Sunshine. C. A story about Oklahoma oil, a period piece. Don't you just want to find out when it opens and mark it on your calendar? Me, too.

p.s. There was also a preview for a new movie starring Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, and Robert Redford, where T.C. plays a U.S. Senator trying to hector M.S.'s journalist, sort of, into telling the true story of the war on terror. I am hoping for a rip-snorting piece of propagander out of that one, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

On pasta.

Running son: I think I'm just opposed to spaghetti because everyone in this family just loves it so much.

Singing son: I love spaghetti!

New mom daughter: Spaghetti is, like, the perfect meal.

Running son: Maybe it's just the noodle. I like thicker noodles.

Me: I like linguini most--it's just a little thicker.

Son-in-law: Yes. I agree, linguini.

The historian: I love angel hair pasta.

Daughter-in-law and new mom daughter: Penne.

Running son: I can think of about 50 better things to eat than spaghetti.

Singing son: No way! I love spaghetti! Like what?

Running son: Like fettucine alfredo.

New mom daughter: Fettucine alfredo is what fat people eat.

Son-in-law: I guarantee you, if fettucine alfredo were as easy to make as spaghetti is, you'd make it all the time and you would love it.

Singing son: Spaghetti is still the best.

Son-in-law: What about butternut squash ravioli? Ever had that? Cause I have, and butternut squash ravioli kicks spaghetti's ass.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Idaho is a state of mind.

When in doubt, I just ask myself what would Middlebrow do? We're up here hanging out for Labor Day.

idaho is less than you think
idaho is a state of mind
idaho is seismically active
idaho is also home to many herds of wild horses
idaho is an amateur event
idaho is like this
idaho is told to keep out of foreign policy
idaho is our is our is our classroom classroom classroom
idaho is booked on the red
idaho is smallmouth territory
idaho is less than you think writer
idaho is a state of mind you woke up in the hospital this morning
idaho is seismically active too boise
idaho is climatically well suited for a variety of fruit production
idaho is a study in
idaho is a baseless myth
idaho is the answer to all of these problems
idaho is home to many transplanted troublemaker bears
idaho is bordered by canada to the north
idaho is the way to go
idaho is too good to be true
idaho is losing y2k programmers to private industry
idaho is nicknamed the gem state
idaho is a state rich in railroad history
idaho is known for vast expanses of volcanic plains and the river of no return
idaho is grown right here in the local area
idaho is small state postal history wise
idaho is also expected to
idaho is a very diverse state with desert areas in the south east and west
idaho is in foal
idaho is known for producing ski champs
idaho is the number one state in the country in the percentage of public school 8th graders attending schools without a tardiness problem
idaho is protected on all sides by mountains
idaho is in many ways three states
idaho is a state rich in geographical extremes from high desert to towering peaks
idaho is a non
idaho is het stiefkindje van de staten in het noordwesten
idaho is famous
idaho is interested in hiring experienced stitchers for the 2002 summer
idaho is a large state with a total land area of 63


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