Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Ten Commandments of Grading.

1. Upon commencing thy grading, thou shalt obtain a warm beverage, else thine energy shall flag.

2. Thou shalt not commence by multiplying the number of students by the number of minutes per assignment, lest thy will to live plunge precipitously; indeed, thou shalt not estimate nor "guesstimate" how long, how long O Lord! it shall all take before thy labors are complete. Rather shalt thou tell thyself lies, for thou cannot handle the truth, verily thou cannot.

3. Thou shalt have on hand an abundance of snacks. Healthy, salty, whichever thou likest best. Both healthy and salty are good in the eyes of the Lord.

4. Thou shalt sit by a window so that thou mayest have light, but thou shalt face away from the window lest the commotion in the street, or the least sparrow on thy maple's branches, distract thee from thy labors.

5. Thou shalt grade at least five assignments before the next snack.

the Commandmentinator.
6. Thou shalt not "take a break" and search the internet for cat tumblrs, for lo, searching for cat tumblrs is light-minded and is not pleasing in the eyes of the Lord when thou art grading. 

7. Thou shalt lower the bar of thine expectations, for verily thou art only a human being, and thou canst not do everything, not in a day, yea not even in two days: the Lord knoweth thou art not a robot!

8. Thou shalt not pray for an algorithm to perform thy grading in thy behalf: for such prayers are vain and light-minded and the Lord desireth that thou get cracking on thy labors, for it is thy JOB and thou shalt not shirk it!

9. Thou shalt not despair, though the grading wilt always be with us.

10. On the morrow, thou shalt arise early: the hour arriveth quickly in which thou must take up the grading thou didst not finish today.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


le chat


correction: "cats' tails."
alternatively: "does a cat's tail..."

also: why is the cat smoking?


Answer: the cat is smoking
because she is bored.
Also, she has poor impulse control.
Is my guess, anyway.


the cat would watch
movies all day & night
if only she could.

but what about the grading?

Monday, February 27, 2012

The conditions.

The first time I saw Lawrence of Arabia was on a black and white television, on a Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1977. The movie came on the television.

My husband said, "This movie is so great." I settled in to watch, a famous long shot where the Omar Sharif character, Ali, comes riding from a great distance. In the script it reads like this:

[Find the script here]

This took, believe me, at least a minute. I was watching this black and white screen for a long minute, and maybe even longer, watching a guy, a Bedouin, coming from far away, except I couldn't see the guy. All those long shots meant that you could see that there was a guy, but you couldn't actually see the guy. I looked over at my husband. He was mesmerized. I looked back at the screen. Still no guy. I thought, what the hell.

It was years later--1989, in fact, because that's when a restored cut of the film was re-released--that I saw Lawrence of Arabia, this time in the old Regency Theater up on Parley's and Foothill. It was a great big theater with a great big tall screen. My husband and I were practically the only ones there on a weekday afternoon. I remember very well when the scene with the long, long shot came on the screen. That desert, expansive, shimmering with heat, broad and deep and brilliant, with a far-off stranger getting closer and closer--I felt the film reveal itself to me. It was truly one of the unforgettable cinematic experiences of my life.

Here are some other films where the circumstances of my viewing them made them indelible:

Seeing The Last Waltz in an old theater in downtown Provo, and falling in love so much with the music and the band that I stayed for a second showing, without paying (remember when you could do that? anyone?).

Seeing Young Frankenstein on New Years Day with some friends from high school, in a theater in a deserted downtown L.A.

Seeing Urban Cowboy with friends at a drive-in in Springville, UT when the summer was at its hottest.

Seeing There's Something About Mary when the historian had been diagnosed with cancer, and we were trying to see movies that would make us laugh--we saw it at Brewvies, where most of the audience had some beer in 'em, and the house was packed.

Seeing The Man With the Golden Gun on New Years Eve with my brother at a theater in Torrance. (He also endured my florid emotional reaction to a second viewing of Annie Hall at that same theater the following summer. He's a good brother.)

Seeing a zombie movie--I think now it must have been Night of the Living Dead--at the on-base theater (15 cents admission, 10 cents for popcorn, or was it the other way round?) at Yokota AFB, Japan--I was staying the night with my friend, whose parents apparently thought it was cool to take, like, 10 year olds to zombie movies. It scared the bejesus out of me.

Where, how, who with--for me, these are part of the story of seeing the movie, part of why you fall in love with some and not with others, part of why the residue of some movies will never, ever leave you.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


The Oscars were a bust this year, and I protest.

About what, I'm not sure, but I am not happy about it, whatever it is.

America, Midnight in Paris is no better than average work for Woody Allen in his late period, no more and no less

America, when will you get over your infatuation with a European funny man?

America, Meryl Streep is a joy forever, but Viola Davis is an equal treasure.

America, do not be afraid of Rooney Mara and her goth demeanor.

America, why only two nominated songs? And why only one good one? And why not perform it?

America, where are your great movies? Why hide them under a bushel? Why not let them shine forth?

America, the movies are embossed by silvery images,* which are our great fortune: moreover, the movie's not always the sick man of the arts: our motion picture is still life unchanging, not nature dead,**

and therefore, America, the Oscars must not ever, ever again be this lame.

That is all.

*Frank O'Hara, "Ave Maria"
**Robert Lowell, "Harpo Marx"

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The same old thing at the same old place.

Tonight, I was a part of a reading for the rolling launch of Fire in the Pasture: 21st Century Mormon Poets. (Yeah!) It was really fun--a dozen poets, almost none of whom I knew either by face or by their work. The spirit was lively and convivial, a bunch of terrific poems, everyone seemed to enjoy him or herself immensely. This meant, of course, that at the end of it, the historian and I wanted to go get a celebratory bite to eat.

The historian: Where do you want to go?

Me: I don't know--where do you want to go?

The historian: Vinto?

Me: (happy dance on the inside) YES.

Of late, I've begun to feel we need to expand our restaurant repertoire. Of late, we have settled into

  • Our one Thai place (curry curry curry; papaya salad; sometimes noodles)
  • Our one Vietnamese place (mostly always bun. sometimes salt-baked shrimp.)
  • One of two possible Indian places (saag and sometimes coconut korma)
  • One of three possible Mexican places (see below)
  • Red Rock
  • Trio 
  • Vinto
dramatic reenactment
of a chile relleno
with ancillary and occasional other places. But mostly the above, and the reason we keep going to these places is that we have things we like to eat there, and when we are tired, worn out, cranky, knowing you can go to your one Mexican place and have a chile relleno or a shrimp enchilada, without really thinking about it very hard, is comforting.

On the other hand, you can feel unimaginative when you're all, "We could go to Mexican Place 1...?" and you can see that your companion is going "chile relleno" and basically salivating, and you are doing the same, but thinking "shrimp enchilada." That's possibly just a little tragic.

I remember awhile ago, when I was going through a Kung Pao Shrimp phase. Oh how I loved that dish. As a friend once said, the power-weight ratio of Kung Pao Shrimp is pretty impressive--it's the peanuts, which make even the non-shrimp part of KPS feel rawther hefty. I ate KPS at pretty much every possible Chinese restaurant there was for several years and thought I would never, ever tire of it.

I ate this dish three
times a week for about
three years, no joke.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Is it, in effect, scientific research? To test variation in instances of KPS across geographical regions? 

Or is it just that one cannot come up with something more imaginative to eat?

We drove past Vinto and it looked crowded. Crowded-ish. There were people standing at the end of the bar, signifying that there would be a wait or something equally as unacceptable when a reading needed to be celebrated. So we glided past and began frantically brainstorming:

The historian: We could go to the one Indian restaurant. Or the one Mexican restaurant.

Me: [in a silent, bewildered turmoil of emotions: but why is Vinto so crowded? It's 9 p.m., for heaven's sake!]

The historian: ...or we could go to Bambara?

Me: ...yes, we could--but why is Vinto so crowded? Let's drive past it again.

tiramisu, but with
two spoons. we're
dessert sharers like that.
And lo, in the five minutes it took us to get back there, it looked much less crowded. So we could have the usual margherita pizza (delicious!) and the familiar roasted artichoke hearts (fantastic!) and white bean salad (not the same old thing, because it was a special), and tiramisu: perfect.

Sometimes the same old place, with its beloved pizza and artichokes, is the best.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Megastore recommends.

1. A chocolate croissant. My friend and I had a chat today after my morning class. We sat out on the Student Center patio, because the sun was brilliant and, although it was a little chilly, the sun was brilliant, if you catch my drift. Believe me when I say a pain au chocolat was about the best possible accompaniment to that kind of sun/cold/sun scenario.

2. Hydrangeas. I find this flower to be approximately the perfection of flowers, along with roses. I am pretty sure that science has proven it to be so, and if not, what is the point of science? I bought them because I am having brunch for some of my children tomorrow. I think brunch calls for flowers, don't you?

3. And speaking of brunch, isn't it the best? I love having people over for brunch because there are practically no foods that you make for brunch that are overly complicated, and I am much less likely to plan aspirational menus for this meal. Also, pancakes, to wit: cottage cheese pancakes, Deborah Madison's recipe. They are unbelievably good. Fruit compote, sausage, frittata, juice. It will be superb.

4. A comedy on Friday night. Tonight, there were worthy movies at the Broadway, and I'll probably regret not having seen them at some point. But sometimes, more than anything, something to make me laugh is what's called for. Actually, laughing is called for pretty much all the time, yet more times than we like to admit, there are no comedies in the offing. This is, I think we can all agree, unacceptable. What is this, a dictatorship? When did America become a realm of humorless tyranny? In a democracy, a comedy should always be available on a Friday night. (And why does this topic never come up in the debates? I ask you! Candidates: get on this!) 

Now, some of you have higher standards than I have, comedy-wise--I require that comedies make me laugh, is all, and will allow for high, low, and in-between levels of dignified. Choose for your own standards, but above all, choose to laugh.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Academy of the Underrated.

Anyone remember Manhattan? Anyone? Anyone?

Let me refresh your memory. (embedding disabled. The HUMANITY.)

Anyway, that whole idea of "people like it, therefore it is crap," or the corollary of that, "it was lovely until people started liking it, then it became crap--" I hate that. Seriously. I am, or try to be, loyal to the things I love and even to the things I like. Or at least, I don't start to trash them because I get a little tired of them: if I liked it once, I feel like I owe the thing the loyalty of acknowledging that I liked it, and of not making fun of myself, or the thing itself, because it's no longer cool.

Whoa, that was a lot of placeholder/abstract nouns. Sorry about that. I believe an example is in order.

Did I once love fancy old school dishes like Fruits de Mer en Casserole (true story--I have this recipe on a card in my recipe notebook--a lovely woman made it for me at a baby shower)? Yes I did. Was that dish full of fat and Gruyere, and shrimp and scallops? And did I believe that serving this dish made me sophisticated? But of course.

Nowadays, this dish is like the culinary equivalent of an old lady wearing a fancy hat to go to the store, and it would be the cool thing to deconstruct it, except you'd have to find a way to transform the cheese into some other dish entirely, because honestly, fish and cheese? Trop sauvage! And you'd no doubt ceviche it all up, except ceviche is also probably passe now.

But honestly, if someone made this dish, en casserole, for me right now, I would eat it gladly, and I would keep the leftovers secret so I could dole it out to myself for days. I know it's not cool, but it was so good.

Parenthetically, I am engaged in what is apparently a lifelong dilemma about what to keep and what to give away, clotheswise, and am seriously regretting having given away (a) my Doc Martens, which now every supermodel wears all the time, and (b) a bunch of other stuff that I can't be bothered to name, mainly a bunch of shirts and shoes and dresses and pretty much everything I ever gave away EVER. Because I should have stayed loyal to all that crap. I think I might need it now, and I am sorry I underrated it and thus gave it away like it wouldn't be important to me one day, like now, when I really really really wish I still had those Dr. Martens.

But Dr. Martens are not the story. The story is: what is no longer cool, and is therefore underrated.  Here is a short list of stuff that may not be cool anymore, but I still love:

1. Quiche
2. You've Got Mail
3. Fritos and pretty much all unreconstructed salty snacks from BigPotatoChipInc.
4. The music I used to listen to when I was a teenager and full of longing for stupid stuff. Like a boyfriend or whatnot.
5. Carbs, complex or no.
6. An iPod that carries around serious gigs of actual songs.
7. Glee
8. curly hair (actually I am too lazy to do anything about this)
9. bread (see #5 above)
10. Titanic. It truly was kind of the king of the world.
11. blogging.

UNCOOL4EVER! (c'est moi, and never underrate it.).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The weather: an FAQ.

Q: What was it like when you walked the dog?
A: Blustery, a little rain acting like it wanted to turn icy, the wind tossing everything around.

Q: In comparison, what will it be like tomorrow?
A: Tonight it was not cold, but tomorrow it will be ten degrees colder.

Q: What are the signs?
A: In the paper, the capsule prediction had little snowflakes.

Q: Is such turbulence usual for this time of year?
A: The snow, if there is any, will be late, late, and won't stick around, I can't imagine that it will. But in the spring, we may expect anything at all.

Q: What hope?
A: Today at noon I sat with my friends outside in the sun. Hazy and bright. Absurd weather, but friendly. I saw a woman with bare legs. I took off my jacket.

Q: And now that you're indoors, how do you find the weather there?
A: I didn't sleep well last night, but I hope to dream up a little storm.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Brief letters.

Dear quiet night at home,

I know that you occured in part because the historian has a cold and needs his rest, and also because there is an irresistible trifle of a novel that basically demanded to be finished, and also because there was leftover shrimp Vindaloo as well as leftover tortilla soup. And also because I have a powerful ability to procrastinate necessary tasks, such as grading. Even so, quiet night at home, how delightful, how restorative you have been. You have been the very fulfillment of a Tuesday, distilled to its quintessence. I cherish you.




Dear trifle of a novel,

How I adore you. You have, by virtue of your occasionally tart wit but also your surprisingly open-hearted address to the need of the reader to believe, at least sometimes, in happiness, entirely satisfied me. I know you are not brilliant, but you are good, for a trifle. In fact, dear trifle of a novel, you have caused me to brighten the aura surrounding the word "trifle." That's how entirely satisfactory you were.




Dear grading,

Ugh, are you still there?

I am sorry, but we will never be friends.

I said good day,



Dear tomorrow,

You are when I will grade.

I promise,


Monday, February 20, 2012

Soup (episode I don't know which one--I've lost track).

Tonight, for dinner, tortilla soup, vegetarian style. This soup would have occurred last night except for the fact that I had elided, like, four critical ingredients when I was at the store. But that's okay. I scrounged another dinner out of stuff we had/I had recently bought. So I won the kitchen derby on Sunday night, and went on to hit it out of the park on Monday night, tonight: score!

Tortilla Soup.

Take your corn tortillas, about eight of them. Lay them neatly upon one another on the counter or cutting board, if you're tidy like that. Slice them into thin little ribbons, or "matchsticks," as the fancy cooking wizards say. Toss them with olive oil and salt them. Put them on a baking sheet into a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or so, until they are crispy but not scorched. Remove them from the oven and try not to eat them all, because they are delicious but you will need them later.

At the same time, especially if you are a multi-tasking genius, take about 20 (why 20? I don't know. It's a good number. A lot of good things ring in at 20: 20 years old; 20 dollar bill; 20th century had some good things in it, like rockets, robots, the internet and the Beatles; etc. I'm sure you can think of other instances of the goodness of the number twenty--) cherry tomatoes and slice them in half, toss in a little olive oil and salt, and roast them till they shrivel up a little. This might take 40 minutes, so it's probably a good idea to be roasting the tomatoes and toasting the tortillas at the same time. You don't have to take my advice here, but I think you might as well, because, you know, time is money, time's a-wastin', [insert other homey advice/adages about time here].

[NOTE: The above are accoutrements. They are garnishes that are essential to the character of the soup. There are a couple of other garnishes (see below), also essential, but they don't take any preparation. They take purchasing. Which I did, today, but not yesterday. But: sufficient unto the day itself is the garnishing of the soup! Check it, it's in the Bible.]

Now we're at the actual soup. Luckily, it is easy as pie. Easier, way easier. Pie is difficult. But this soup: easy.

Dice up an onion and mince three garlic cloves. Saute in some olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add one can of crushed or diced tomatoes, along with 1 t. cumin, 2 t. ground coriander, and 1 t. cayenne--yes, cayenne!--pepper. Let this cook for five minutes. Then add one cup of broth--I'm going to recommend, yet again, the vegetarian bouillon cube as an essential pantry item--and blend all of this in your blender. Return this to the pan, add 5 more cups of broth, and simmer for a bit.

To serve:

Put some cherry tomatoes in the bottom of the bowl, along with a few julienned sun-dried tomatoes, and a slice of goat cheese, crumbled. Ladle the soup over. Strew a fantastic amount of the crispy tortilla ribbons on top, and eat it right away.

A salad, either green or fruit, would not go amiss.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My new lens, or a bunch of my stuff.

dinosaur, with batteries 

a tidy selection of gloves
vacation photo

little painting cards
wedding photo, glass warthog (treasures)

green wall, lamp, painting

pensive dog

a little snow on the branch

lower branch of the mobile

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday WIN.

1. Wake up when I wake up (at 8:18 a.m., and technically Bruiser woke me up, but there was sunshine in my window).
2. Oatmeal for breakfast, because I found where I "kept" the oatmeal (or where I lost it, whichever).
3. Conversation with grandson (he called me--"I got McQueen shoes. I want a Spiderman 'brella. It was three bucks! It's for the rain.").
3. Downloaded OS Lion to both my Macs. Score.
4. Read my novel.
5. Returned library books: no late fees. Score.
6. Movie with my friend at Brewvies. Veggie burger/fries. Score.
7. Meet the historian downtown for dinner at Red Rock, the Oscar live action shorts at the Tower.

read for awhile, late night dogwalk action/stormwatch. Life is plain old good.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Megastore recommends.

1. Taking a vow of not buying clothes. Because then it becomes clear that the category of "clothes" does not include:

  • a camera lens
  • valentine's stuff
  • Burt's Bees serum that you can't find in any stores! because I've tried!

Also, the vow cannot include not buying the clothes you ordered before you took the vow. What am I? a time traveler?

2. My new 50mm Canon camera lens. It was a bargain. I hear it will transform my life as if I had joined a new religion. I'm recommending it in advance of my translation into immortality because other people told me it was just that good.

 3. Indian food for dinner. Two words: Shrimp Vindaloo. 

4. Awesome day at work. Seriously, this is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend that you acquire one.

5. The Secret World of Arrietty. It's not quite Spirited Away, but it was so delicate and beautiful and moving, I just loved it.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I have Game of Thrones, and I've read about 60 pages of it, but it's due tomorrow, and it can't be renewed, because there are others waiting for it. I have two Nesbos, which I have set aside because I was reading Game of Thrones. I think I'll wait till summer to read it and its brethren, because I think I'll enjoy it more if I can get a run at it and then keep going. So I should start one of the Nesbos, or read some poetry or something dignified. Also, there's a pile of magazines. Sometimes there's too much to choose from. It's an absurd predicament. This is the kind of predicament that makes me feel tired of myself. Who complains about this? Me, that's who.

Anyway, tonight, we went out to fulfill the promise of my own New Year's resolution, to go to at least one reading a month. January was a wash, but there was also a lot of sickness in that month. I have written myself my own doctor's note for January. February, I've gone to two, but one of them was my own. I really enjoyed tonight's reading--I got to see the people, I fulfilled my own promise to myself, and the reading was good, some parts especially good. It made me want to write. Why did I forget this about readings? I don't know. But I'm looking forward to more of them now, if for this reason alone.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


you guys all know I love you, right?
even if I'm a day late, and even if
the cookies, which I did bake,
are only, at this point, virtual.
thanks for stopping by and reading.
I mean it.

(and thanks, Jason McF., for the awesome pic.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

One song: 'I Will Always Love You.'

Tonight, at a very late hour, just before we took Bruiser for his final constitutional of the day, the Historian called me in--A Room With a View was on. Oh, how I loved that movie when I first saw it, and then oh, how I loved the book. I walked in while Simon Callow was remarking that the Emersons had taken the cottage slash villa down the road a bit, and darling Helena Bonham Carter was fuming that she had spent so much time cultivating the Miss Allens, to no avail.

I said, "Look at him!" about Simon Callow, who was--believe it--so very young in this film. And then, "And Julian Sands--he was so beautiful in this movie!" He was indeed so beautiful--in the very next scene, with the (also so young, so lovely) Daniel Day Lewis as the effete and poncey Cecil. Such a rapture, to see them all in the flush of their youth, or at least of their younger years. We took Bruiser out and upon our return, resumed the film--our admiration of this forgotten and rediscovered beauty which inheres in youth and which always surprises me.

Earlier, I was watching Glee, a Valentine's Day episode. The Glee-sters were charged to find the best love songs, whilst love-drama swirled all about. When Mercedes began to sing her envoi to Sam, I thought from the very first piano chord, "It's going to be 'I Will Always Love You'," and then, when it was, I thought, "and it will be the Whitney Houston version," as it turned out to be.

Now, when that Whitney Houston version first came out, on the soundtrack of The Bodyguard, I loathed it (and secretly admired it, too, as is so often the way). I first came upon the song in my own youth, in the seventies, when Linda Ronstadt covered it:

Because those were the days when we all read liner notes on the back of LPs, I knew that the song was originally written by Dolly Parton, though it was probably years before I ever heard that version:

I always found the Whitney Houston version to be excessive, florid, self-regarding, too in love with the capacities of the voice to do justice to the modesty and perfection of the song:

But tonight, when I heard this young woman, Amber Riley, with her gorgeous, beautiful voice, sing the song just as--practically phrase for phrase--Whitney Houston had sung it, I heard it afresh, an homage to the greatness of the singer now just gone, who was herself so young, so beautiful, when she first sang it:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Alternative career paths.

The historian is reading At Home, by Bill Bryson:

The Historian: This book is just filled with interesting stuff.

Me: [looks up. Attentive. Am eating potato chips like it is my job.]

The Historian: "Until almost the middle of the century [nineteenth], instructions in cookbooks were always wonderful imprecise, calling merely for 'some flour' or 'enough milk.' What changed all that was a revolutionary book by a shy, sweet-natured poet in Kent named Eliza Acton. Because Miss Acton's poems weren't selling, her publisher gently suggested she might try something more commercial, and in 1845 she produced Modern Cookery for Private Families. It was the first book to give exact measurements and cooking times, and it became the work on which all cookbooks since have been, almost always unwittingly, modeled."

Me: [having just baked about a zillion tiny heart-shaped sugar cookies: considering it. Perhaps am not sweet-natured enough?] You said 'shy'?

The Historian: [chuckles like a madman.]

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Megastore recommends.

1. Watch kids play sports.  It will make you happy, because sometimes they run down the court (this is basketball) with their arms all a-wavin' because the more effort the more fast, obviously; and usually they've got their arms all up in the air on the defensive end, because the more arms, it's like a thicket of  briars and the ball will obviously not make it through; and sometimes they'll dribble the ball more or less continuously, and if there's a double dribble, who's counting?; and sometimes, they'll shoot the ball and score. And that, the people, is a pure shot of happy.

these are internet children playing b-ball.
who knows if they're even real?

2.  Take down your Christmas tree. The tree is crispy, it's February, the tree is leaning precipitously forward. Go ahead and compliment yourself on your great taste in ornaments while you take them off the branches, needles flying. Or don't. You can check the lights to see if they still work after you've yanked/untangled them. Or don't. Either way, it's time. Feel free to wrap things up in tissue paper or put them lovingly into their boxes, or throw them into a big mess. Christmas is over. We opened all the presents. Time to make some other kind of cookies.

not my tree. at all.

3.  Buy more of the same old thing. Maybe it's true that you have more black and gray skirts than you can shake a stick at. Maybe, upon occasion, you've told yourself that you don't need any more gray/black skirts. This may be the reason you recently bought a red and a blue skirt, and that was good. Fine. Excellent, even. Still, when you happen upon another gray skirt and it is, while still a gray skirt, not like any of the other two dozen gray skirts you own, you might be right--you might need that skirt. So go ahead. Categories exist so we can name what we do and do not like. Gray skirts, speaking categorically, are a pretty great thing. You like them. So buy it already.

I wish I could say I would never buy this skirt.
But what I can say is: I did not buy this skirt.
This is an internet skirt, obviously.

4.  Walk downtown at night. Let's say that the distances between your movie, your restaurant, and your hotel are only a handful of blocks. Why not walk? It makes you feel, at least a little bit, like you live downtown. You know you've always thought that living downtown could be fun. Good thing you wore shoes you can walk in. Tuck your hand in the arm of your beloved and walk while you talk about the good things, like how happy you are to be with him. You're walking in the city that's (more or less) your home on your anniversary, so look up, be on the streets, enjoy them.

Salt Lake City itself.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The chapbook, etc. commences.

Last week in Publication Studies, the students began planning for the publication of the second annual chapbook competition winner's manuscript. I have to say, it was kind of exciting to begin that conversation. This time, though, there was a difference, because it had been done before. That is, I had done it before.

So many hard parts will, I think, be easier. We have a basic template in InDesign. We won't be printing each and every copy (!) on the hardest working duplex printer in show biz--we'll outsource that business to Print Services. And I have a stronger sense of what it will take to move through the process--from layout and design to production, from press releases to publicizing to documenting, to the debut.

It was nice to be able to show this year's students last year's documentary. If it was just a little bit daunting, it was also inspiring. So tomorrow, we'll be looking at historical and contemporary literary chapbooks. We'll be bringing in some public information professionals to talk to the publicizing/marketing/documentary team. And we'll be interviewing the author, getting her feedback on cover concepts. It is on. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012


Today, I just bought, on sale, a walnut-colored corduroy jacket, and I am pretty stoked about it. That said, corduroy is a fall-ish, winter-ish fabric. Ditto walnut as a color. When the jacket gets here in, like, a week, there will be even less of winter left than there is now. Today, after having spent roughly from 8 a.m to 4 p.m. in my window-less office, talking (and not-talking--curse you, you no-shows!) to students, I walked out and it was raining. The sidewalks were wet. Winter rain, or early spring rain? or pre-spring rain? I tell you, I think I could feel the thin, raw edge of spring, even though it kind of started to snow on the way home. But just a little. Maybe a spring snow? That's a thing, right?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


I am reading tomorrow night at City Art. I am also sick. I have been revising a small batch of recent poems for this reading. I am also sick. Did I just say that twice?

Me, to the historian:  I maybe don't have faith in these poems.

Historian: (waits, as he has, perhaps, heard me convey this sentiment before.)

Me: ...but maybe that's because I'm sick.

Historian: (radiates total compassion and understanding. Also understands that he's possibly better off waiting this particular conversation out.)

Me:  ...but then I often feel that way about my poems?

Historian: (through ESP communicates that these poems are, and will be, just fine.) I hate to see you feeling so bad--do you need me to get you anything?

Me: (sigh.) No.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Megastore Infirmary.

Unfair, is what it is when you had the sick just a couple of weeks ago and then, after a fine Saturday of grandchild basketball and writing, and Mexican food and reading and chatting away with the historian, you find yourself in the evening with the sniffles and then the sneezes and then, when you wake up of a Sunday morning, a full-on reprise of The Head Cold of Yesterweek. This is total bullshit, I say, pardon my swear.

Here are a few things I would like to reprise, for the record:

  • the culinary triumph of last weekend's roast chicken for a Sunday dinner
  • the aesthetic satisfaction of knocking out a poem draft
  • the joy of watching kids run up and down a basketball court, or, for that matter, a soccer field, if the weather's nicer
  • a good day in class
  • having a salad with my friend
  • finishing one Scandinavian detective novel and starting another
  • a cup of tea in the morning
  • a chat with the Scotlands
Please note: on the list above, there is no "The Head Cold of Yesterweek." Because a reprise of that is not good. 

I will now resume my nose-blowing and whining offline. Megastore out.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

The megastore recommends.

[Actually, the megastore cannot believe it has never come up with this obvious post-generating concept! look for it weekly forthwith.]

1. Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns.  It is better than I thought it would be, and I say this as a person who read Kaling's late lamented Things I Bought That I Love blog (tragically, the archives of this blog seem no longer to be available. WOE.), and loved it madly. Like Tina Fey's Bossypants, the book purports to be a funny, showbizzy puffery, and instead is a sly yet warm engagement with a smart and funny person. You kind of want to be friends with Ms. Mindy when you've finished the book. I lingered over it, because I didn't want to run out of book, or Kaling. Do not hesitate.

2. A cookie in the afternoon. Are you writing? Grading? Lolling about in the doldrums of the hours between lunch and evening? Contemplating your smallness in the overall scheme of things, and how lame that is, since you always assumed you'd be making international economic policy or writing important books or acting in entertaining yet artful movies? My recommendation to you is to have a cookie. Have two, in fact. A cookie or two will put things into perspective. If you have a cookie on hand, well, good for you. That makes you a person who knows how to provide for a rainy day (speaking metaphorically), and such a person may in fact have big things ahead for her/him. If you don't have a cookie on hand, don't despair. You can go to a place where they make cookies, and sell them, such as a bakery. Knowing where to get a cookie when you need one, then going to get that cookie decisively, speaks well of your character: you do not dilly dally when there are needs to be met, you go and meet them, and head off a plummet into the Slough of Despond. Either way, your cookie in hand, you will feel better, and that's better for you and for all mankind, really, because who needs more despairing people in the afternoon? No one, that's who. Now get yourself a cookie in case you need a little energy. That economic crisis is not going to solve itself.

smashbox electric pink

3. Pink lipstick. Maybe this is more for women, but who can say, men? I don't know your life. In any case: you may think that pink isn't the color for you. For you, if it's lipstick, it's either red, because red is the very quintessence of lipstick, or it's one of those sheer non-colors that are all about sheen and texture, because you're subtle like that. But consider this: pink is refreshing. It's bold but not aggressive. It's friendly. And the people, pink will cheer you like nobody's business. In fact, while you're at it, why don't you get a pink sweater? and scarf?

4. A family-friendly movie, even if you aren't going en famille, as it were. Last night, the historian and I saw Big Miracle because we were in the mood for a movie that would not (a) trouble us with its flaws, (b) make us mad at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, or whatever it's actually called, because the movie in question was (1) nominated, and (2) undeserving, or (c) make us feel sad or depressed or downtrodden. I think we can all agree, there are times when the offerings in the theaters all exhibit one or more of these negative traits (Shame, Albert Nobbs, and War Horse, I am looking at you). So we saw the whales in jeopardy movie, and surprise, it was quite a bit better than we thought it would be without beating us over the head by being a Major Work of Art. It had a fair amount to recommend it, though: a good cast, all doing swell work in small roles; a more complex-than-you'd-think take on the whole (mostly true) story; interesting observations about politics and conflicting/coinciding interests; and whales. Entirely satisfying, and that was without popcorn. Just think if I had had popcorn!


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