Saturday, February 28, 2009

Simply gorgeous

Another stunner of a short story on Selected Shorts - "Football" by Elizabeth Crane. Listen here. (Its the first story. The second one is good; the first is art.)


Maisie Dobbs is one I picked up after realizing that everyone in the world had read it except me. Its about a lady detective in Britain who was a nurse in the war.

I admit that the history of how Maisie came up through the ranks bored me a bit. It was so slooooow. However, the investigation was very intriguing and the romance part so sweet. The book often put me in mind of the BBC series Foyle's War which I adore. I've already reserved book number two and can't wait to see what happens next. Six stars from me.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Tale of an amazing pub

Another amazing podcast - but this one is hysterical. Joe Jackson's tale about the Admiral Drake on The Moth. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The complexity of mothers

I listened to Hell-Heaven on Selected Shorts. At the end, my mouth was hanging open.

Jhumpa Lahiri is an amazing writer. Hear it here. If you aren't into listening, read it here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


"I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night." - Milton


After doing a search for "Goodreads for movies" on google (cause lord knows how much I lurve Goodreads), I discovered Criticker. It's good. Find me here if you get hooked as well.


I watched Kiki's Delivery Service last night. I've decided that I must watch all of Miyazaki's films after being so delighted with My Neighbor Totoro.

Kiki's Delivery Service is the tale of a witch who has to leave her home at 13 and spend a year away in training. But this is no Hogwart's knock-off. Instead, a thirteen-year old witch is expected to just find some new city and direct her own training. And in this world, witches are known but rare so Kiki's arrival at the city by the sea meets with a mix of amazement and misunderstandings with the locals.

Its rather adorable. Particularly her cat Jiji. I give it a 6.5.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Now Long Ago

"Now Long Ago" by Maya Angelou

One innocent spring
your voice meant to me
less than tires turning
on a distant street.

Your name, perhaps spoken,
led no chorus of batons
to crush against my
empty chest.

That cool spring was shortened by
your summer, bold impatient
and all forgotten
except when silence
turns the key
into my midnight bedroom
and comes to sleep upon your

Monday, February 23, 2009


"Sometimes what you need is the company of strangers." - Amy Ray


Instead of the Oscars (cause really I generally just watch those for the clothes and those pictures can be found via the internet), the hubs and I watched Religulous last night. Now I'll admit to some fear cause Bill Maher is a smart guy but he can come off like an ass at times. Religulous was a nice surprise though.

In this documentary, Maher goes around interviewing folks about religion - all kinds of religion. For the most part, he manages to straddle a line and keeps it respectful if skeptical. I did cringe at a few too easy potshots though.

I did like his point about how atheists are a silent party and we need to speak up. I often times will allow people to assume I'm Christian in order to avoid either a philosophical argument or a crusade to save my soul. Those situations can really suck, and I've gotten a bit gunshy over them. Instead, I just smile and uncommittedly change the subject. That seems to be the cowards way out. I'm going to be better about stating my beliefs when someone unthinkingly makes some wrong assumption about my religious views. I won't be argumentative cause that's just obnoxious. Instead of uncommittedly changing the subject, I think from now on I'll just politely and gentley correct any wrong assumptions and THEN change the subject.

Then possibly that person will think twice about assuming anything about anyone the next time. Was that rambly enough for you? 7 stars.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Snippets of dreams

After reading The Girl in the Flammable Skirt I keep wondering why Aimee Bender is so successful. I get that her stories are wildly imaginative and I highly appreciate that. However, there's no real substance to her work. Its like snippets of dreams that really could be turned into something great if someone worked on them. I find them all very dissatisfying - mostly cause they do have promise that is never fulfilled.
There is one amazingly good story in there though called "Quiet Please." Its about a librarian who reacts to her father's death by having sex with every man in the library that day. A bit racy I know, but there's a scene towards the end of it that is so vivid and wonderful. It really is something.

Recent etsy purchases

I've had a spate of etsy purchases lately and thought I'd share.

This print was perfect for my sister's 36th birthday. She frequently can use some cheering up, and this can't hurt. Pls its as pretty as can be! Its called Dot to Dot Blossoms with Bird by HadleyHutton.

Another friend of mine had me and the husband over for dinner not to long ago. This lady has the prettiest coziest house ever. Throughout she has grogeous little trinkets inspired by the natural world. I couldn't resist sending her these darling felted acorns by truLuxe.

I'm co-hosting a baby shower in April for a friend of mine. We've decided on a sweet lil tea party and these invites by Cheerupcherup were perfect.

Notice I haven't indulged in a darn thing for myself. Hmmmm....maybe next time.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Laid poor jesse in his grave

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a breathtaking film. I expected it to be full of gun slinging and train robbing and horses, and it has a bit of that. But even more so, it is so thoughtful and gorgeous. Casey Affleck is so talented. Brad Pitt does a good job portraying a character who is both charismatic and paranoid. I was shocked to see Mary Louise Parker playing such a minor role, but the pieces she is in leave you aching.
The characters are richly thought out, the filmmaking is beautiful, and the whole thing is utterly wonderful. I give this a 9.5.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Goodmorning Amsterdam
Originally uploaded by Bеn
"Most people think of life as a puzzle to which pieces are constantly being added. My life started as a completes puzzle, but I've lost too many pieces along the way for it ever to be that way again." - Carolin Yawn

Bearded ladies and imps

Castle Waiting is a marvelous fairy tale that begins with a very familiar fairy tale and then goes way off track. Even if graphic novels aren't your cup of tea, give this a try and I think you'll change your mind. The stories of this pack of misfits living in an old abandoned castle are so imaginative. It's full of bearded ladies and caged hearts and imps and demons. The whole thing is a merry yarn. I give it a 9.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

old favorite

it's a long long road
it's a big big world
we are wise wise women
we are giggling girls
we both carry a smile
to show when we're pleased
both carry a switchblade
in our sleeves.
- Ani Difranco

Who knew!

Chicken Cheeks is pretty darn cute and has fueled my irrational longing for a guinea pig. More on that later. I give this a 7. Also, its by Michael Ian Black. Who knew!

Monday, February 16, 2009


Devil's Dyke Crows
Originally uploaded by tommy martin
"If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows." - Rev. Henry Ward Beecher

Daydream fuel?

Generally i hot the library with my stack of books already reserved and waiting for me. Sometimes, I peak at the new book shelf. However, I do not ramble the library enough, and rambles are essential for adding soem unpredicatability into my to read list.

A ramble resulted in Gardening at Ginger by James Raimes. Its ugly ol' February in Ohio, and I'm pooring over seed catalogs and dreaming of crocus buds and more sunshine and all the glories of spring. A gardening book seemed like the perfect sort of escape.

What I found out was that a well-written gardening book would have been the perfect escape. This fell short.

Raimes is passionate for his subject and I'm betting he's a pretty fair gardener. However, this book finds him repeating himself a lot and rambling on quite a bit. His descriptions of flower beds are pretty un-picturable - and in a fluffy gardening book, its all about the mental picture. What else could fuel those day dreams. I did like a description of a line of iris he saw at a neighboring garden and the vision of a sleepy bat bedding down in their patio umbrella. However, too much of this just wasn't that entertaining at all. Only 2 stars - it did have a gorgeous cover.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


100! Demons! is a graphic novel by Lynda Barry. I liked it even better than What It Is. In this book she names her demons - things like "Common Scents" and "Dogs." She doesn't go into all 100, but the one's she explores are always a mixture of humorous and touching and heartbreaking.

She makes me want to draw more which is something I always appreciate. I give this an 8.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I am an ass

I watched Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring tonight. I should have known better. It's a Buddhist fairytale about a monk in the middle of a drop dead gorgeous lake raising a boy. When a teenage girl is dropped off by her mother to be cured of her illness, boy and girl get together and badness ensues.

Here's why I should know better - my favorite magazine - The Sun - posts all sorts of short stories and interviews and poetry. I consistently do not see eye to eye with the pieces with a Buddhist slant. This movie's story annoyed me.

However, it took place in a seriously gorgeous place, and I did love the quietness of the tale. That bumps this up to a 4 on my scale.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Tired of bitching about the idiotness of Twilight and looking for a teen read that doesn't make teen girls look like stupid, actionless dummies? Then you must pick up the Bloody Jack series!

I just read the second book in the series - Curse of the Blue Tattoo and it was a whole lotta fun! You see, Jacky isn't the type to let some dumb dude control her life. Jacky is more the type to go have a great time and deal with the trouble she got into later.

In this second installment of Bloody Jacky's story, she's been forced to enroll in a boarding school for ladies and learn about etiquette and embroidery and the like. However, her harsh past on the streets isn't likely to just disappear. She gets in loads of scrapes.

I will admit to hating one stupid story line about a horse race. I could see the end of that coming from a fricking mile away. (Authors - please start assuming your readers have watched some movies or read some books before reading your novel. That way you can avoid the asinine cliche's).

Other than that one (major!) annoyance, I loved this book. And I can't wait to see what adventures await in the next! Jacky's story so far is a solid 8.


"But each day brings its petty dust our soon-choked souls to fill, and we forget because we must, and not because we will." Matthew Arnold

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I am

I watched Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolf? while home sick the other day. The story of a party gone all sorts of wrong. It involves two couples - an older couple always at eachother throats and a younger more bright-eyed couple. No one comes out of this unscathed.

What impressed me?

- Elizabeth Taylor's performance. She put on 30 pounds to play this role, and her portrayal of a bitterly angry woman is spot on. It gave me chills at times.

- The amount of booze. These people really put it away. The drinking that goes on in this film is insane. It's a marathon of drunkenness.

This film is a harsh look at relationships gone bad. It's so awfully and beautifully well done that you can't look away. I give it an 8.5.

Poor disillusioned, Vincent

"Parrots, tortoises and redwoods live a longer life than men do; Men a longer life than dogs do; Dogs a longer life than love does." - Edna St. Vincent Millay
A while back, I read and reviewed her biography - Savage Beauty. Her tale is quite remarkable.

Advice for your inner writer

"Here, write it, or it will be erased by the wind." - Isabel Allende

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I read The City of Ember in one evening. Its the tale of a city in the dark that lives in fear of the lights going out. The protagonists are two 12-year old kids Lina & Doon. (Can I just say that I love the name Doon?)
What I liked? My absolute terror of absolute dark that I shared with the residents. On a tour of Mammoth Caves when I was 18, the tour guide shut the lights. I've had a life long issue with claustrophobia (likely resulting from my oldest brother's love of locking me in small dark spaces). The kind of blackness you get in a cave makes you feel like the most trapped creature ever. Even thinking about it makes my skin crawl. So whenever those lights flickered in Ember. I was petrified.
What I didn't like? The story is oh-so predictable. Maybe not all the details, but from the very beginning you know where everything is leading. I have so little patience with predictability anymore. Surprise me, dammit!
This story reminded me a lot of Lois Lowry's The Giver. I wouldn't rank it above or below that story. I'm giving this a 5. I'll likely read the next book in this series, but I won't be in a hurry to do so.

Hold on

A Pueblo Indian Prayer

Hold on to what is good,
even if it's a handful of earth.

Hold on to what you believe,
even if it's a tree that stands by itself.

Hold on to what you must do,
even if it's a long way from here.

Hold on to your life,
even if it's easier to let go.

Hold on to my hand,
even if I've gone away from you.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

the only meaning

"And we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten, but the love will have been enough, all those impulses of love return to the love that made them, even memory is not necessary for love, there is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning." - Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey

Living in the dark

Dark Days is a documentary about people living in the subway tunnels of NYC. Filmed entirely in black and white, the movie has an otherworldly feel to it. I can't imagine living in darkness among the rats as these folks do. Sunlight is so essential to my mental health; the idea of 24 hour darkness sends shivers down my spine. I give this a 6.5.

Monday, February 9, 2009

each hurt swallowed

"Promises" by Rita Dove

"Each hurt swallowed
is a stone." Last words
whispered to his daughter
as he placed her fingertips
lightly into the palm
of her groom.

She smiled upwards
to Jesus, then Thomas,
turning her back as
politely as possible.
If that were the case
he was a mountain of shame.

Poised on the stone
steps of the church,
she tried to forget
his hulk on the vestibule,
clumsy in blue serge,
his fingers worrying the
lucky bead in his pocket.

Beneath the airborne bouquet
was a meadow of virgins
urging "Be water, be light."
A deep breath, and she plunged
through the sunbeams and kisses,
rice drumming
the both of them blind.

Zack & Miri

We watched Zack & Miri Make a Porno last night. Kevin Smith is so clever! The dialogue in this had me howling. Craig Robinson (Darryl from The Office) is awesome. Jason Mewes is hysterical. There were only two not-so-great bits for me. The minor one is a serious gross-out bit that my husband loved, but I thought was just too disgusting to take. The second is that as funny as the movie is, the romantic part of this made me yawn. I just didn't find them that interesting as a couple. Maybe I'm heartless.

Anyway, this gets a 7 in my book.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I don't owe them anything

"Thank-you Note" - Wislawa Szymborska

There is much I owe
to those I do not love.

The relief in accepting
they are closer to another.
Joy that I am not
the wolf to their sheep.

My peace be with them
for with them I am free,
and this, love can neither give,
nor know how to take.

I don't wait for them
from window to door.
Almost as patient
as a sun dial,

I understand
what love does not understand.
I forgive
what love would never have forgiven.

Between rendezvous and letter
no eternity passes,
only a few days or weeks.

My trips with them always turn out well.
Concerts are heard.
Cathedrals are toured.
Landscapes are distinct.

And when seven rivers and mountains
come between us,
they are rivers and mountains
well known from any map.

It is thanks to them
that I live in three dimensions,
in a non-lyrical and non-rhetorical space,
with a shifting, thus real, horizon.

They don't even know
how much they carry in their empty hands.

"I don't owe them anything",
love would have said
on this open topic.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A beer brewed from anger

Why so quiet lately? My nose has been buried in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, on of my own damn books. Can you believe it?!

This tome of a book has sat on my bookshelf for years, passed by again and again by shiny library books. I like to tote my books around with me and read them everywhere. At 781 pages, this book is hefty and special provisions needed to be made to take it to work or read it in bed.

I'll admit that the first bit was a slog. There is a long beginning before you meet Jonathan Strange. Then the story becomes engaging. Its the story of the only two magicians in England right around the Battle of Waterloo. The story is deliberate and well-paced. I didn't race through this novel; I savored it.

Particularly wonderful is the interesting little bits of tales you get when a few people under an enchantment try to speak of their enchantment. Instead of saying what they mean, they open their mouths and stories come out - about bird herders or beer brewed from anger. I would love a book of nothing but these oddities.

I also loved the many footnotes throughout the story, and the complicated relationship between the two magicians. They are rather at odds with eachother in temperment, but, being the only practising magicians, there's also an interesting comradeship.

This really is a treat of a book, and I give it an 8.5.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


We watched The Lucky Ones last night. Its a movie about 3 soldiers home from Iraq - 2 on 30 day leaves and one done for good. They end up sharing a rental car to get to their destinations.

I spent the whole movie veering between delight in expected soldier cliches that were avoided and absolute eye-rolling at the immense number of movie cliches. Only giving this one a 4.5, and that's mainly 'cause Colee was pretty adorable at times (although super annoying at others). Sigh...
I'd love to see a good movie done about both sides - the soldier away from family and his family struggling to get along with him or her away. If done well, that would be a good story.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything. From the Interstate, America is all steel guardrails and plastic signs, and every place looks and feels and sounds and smells like every other place. We stick to the back roads, where Kansas still looks like Kansas and Georgia still looks like Georgia, where there is room for diversity and for the occurrence of small miracles." - Charles Kuralt, On the Road

Monday, February 2, 2009

it won't last

"There is Only One of Everything" by Margaret Atwood

Not a tree but the tree
we saw, it will never exist, split by the wind and bending down
like that again. What will push out of the earth

later, making it summer, will not be
grass, leaves, repetition, there will
have to be other words. When my

eyes close language vanishes. The cat
with the divided face, half black half orange
nests in my scruffy fur coat, I drink tea,

fingers curved around the cup, impossible
to duplicate these flavours. The table
and freak plates glow softly, consuming themselves,

I look out at you and you occur
in this winter kitchen, random as trees or sentences,
entering me, fading like them, in time you will disappear

but the way you dance by yourself
on the tile floor to a worn song, flat and mournful,
so delighted, spoon waved in one hand, wisps of roughened hair

sticking up from your head, it's your surprised
body, pleasure I like. I can even say it,
though only once and it won't

last: I want this. I want

(This poem makes me ache. Don't you love poems like that?)

God I love them

More than I can ever explain

This one is my very fave.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Haven't we all felt like this at some point?

Luckily its been a few years for me.


We watched the documentary Man on Wire this afternoon. The film is beautifully done. Its a bout a man who dreams of walking a tightwire between the World Trade Towers in 1974. Philippe Petit tells a great story and the footage and pictures are breathtaking. The picture is so well done. The recreated bits (of which there are few) blend in to the feel of the film.
I was taken with how so many people caught on to his dream and helped it happen. But at the end we learn of how some friendships ended, and it broke my heart. I think it'll take me a few days to get over my glumness.
Giving this one an 8.

A narrow room, and tall,

"Interior" by Dorothy Parker

Her mind lives in a quiet room,
A narrow room, and tall,
With pretty lamps to quench the gloom
And mottoes on the wall.

There all the things are waxen neat
And set in decorous lines;
And there are posies, round and sweet,
And little, straightened vines.

Her mind lives tidily, apart
From cold and noise and pain,
And bolts the door against her heart,
Out wailing in the rain.