Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Connie Willis's Remake [Frankly, My Dear...]

From page thirty-eight of Remake:
"Frankly, my dear - I love you, too," Clark Gable said, and crushed her in his arms. "I've always loved you!"
 There's a knee jerk reaction to this, that they're fucking with literature and they should just leave it the hell alone. The happy ending comes at the price of meaning. And in some cases, yeah, okay, I get it. The ending to the movie for I Am Legend had that feel, yeah.

But changing the parts you don't like is what fan fic is all about. And maybe sometimes parts need to be changed. Maybe I want to change the end to Lost, because I hated the end and I knew what I wanted to happen with it, and it didn't.

In case you've forgotten the ending to Gone With The Wind:

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Julian Assange And Rape: Or, Why I'm not sleeping tonight

I can't sleep because I'm thinking about the charges against Julian Assange. And the trolling. And Sady Doyle and her ladybusiness.Yeah, I know. Specifically, what I'm thinking about is what people say about this specific part:
 Later the same week, according to the police report, Ms. W got in touch with Ms. A to try to seek out Mr. Assange, after he had failed to keep a promise she said he had made to call her. In the conversation, the report said, the two women discovered that both had had sex with Mr. Assange without a condom. A friend of Ms. A’s said in an interview this summer that the two women then decided to insist that Mr. Assange have a test for sexually transmitted diseases.
Women be bitches, amiright? I mean, Jesus, all this guy wanted to do was have sex without a condom! These two ladies were just mad that he was sleeping with the both of them at the same time! Hell hath no fury like two bitches scorned, AMIRIGHT??

Hey, but don't believe me! Let's just look at the top rated comment from a news article on
If someone has wronged you the best way to get back at them is to convince everybody around you that the person that wronged you is a rapist or a pedophile. Then watch the world make him a villain and want his head on a stick.
Yeah. Because rape is such an easy charge when people are famous.

But there's another interpretation of the fact that those two met with each other.  And dude, since interpretation is all ANYONE has been doing about this, lets go ahead:

You meet this guy that you idolize. He's kind of a rock star hero, in a political sense. He's exposing corruption, which is something that you happen to really believe in. You love that he's making information free. Your knees get weak around him and, yeah, you are sexually interested in this hero of yours. And he's at your apartment!

Oh My God, you think, things are going so well! He's stroking your leg! He's interested! Only. He gets a little rough, and you say no. He gets rough and breaks your things. He won't wear a condom. You say no. He doesn't take no for an answer. You feel weird about this. Your hero, this guy that you freaking idolize, that you respect, isn't respecting you back. But most of all, you said no.

But maybe you caught him on a bad night? You're confused. This guy is supposed to be good. Good guys don't rape.

Then you meet someone else, someone else who had the same thing happen to them. She said no. It happened anyway. While she was asleep. ("In the report, she described waking up to find him having sex with her again, without a condom.") You can't consent if you're asleep.

You feel sick to your stomach. What happened to you was not an isolated event. This is a guy that didn't take no for an answer. This girl you just met has never had sex without a condom and is now scared that she might be HIV positive, because apparently the only way this guy will have sex is without a condom. This is a guy that will do this again. And again. And again. Unless he is stopped. So you and the other person band together, and it is your mission: not to let this happen to anyone else.

Is that what happened? I have no idea, but its certainly plausible from the police report that was leaked.

Now, I have no doubt that he's being targeted because of Wikileaks. Would he be extradited on this charge were he not the founder of Wikileaks? Probably not. But does this mean that he didn't rape those women? Is there some kind of natural law that I don't know about, that says that progressive guys don't commit rape?

Anyway. I've been kind of in awe of Sady Freakin' Doyle the last couple of days, with her twitter campaign calling out American "Progressives" who insist that Assange must be innocent at the hashtag #Mooreandme, so named because Michael Moore posted part of the bail money, and then went onto Keith Olberman to spew a bunch of nonsense:

I'm sorry, but its not just a broken condom according to the police report. Its the allegation of non-consensual sex while sleeping WITHOUT A CONDOM that gets me. And, honestly? If you say that you won't have sex without a condom, then the person you are having sex with does something to render the condom null and void without telling you...that's wrong. You consented to sex WITH A CONDOM for a reason. Not continuing to wear one is rape, because permission for unprotected sex was NOT GRANTED.

Anyway. Much love to the Sady Doyle, who has taken the world onto her shoulders. And just my two cents. I've been sitting with this all weekend.

[Edited to include this awesome picture:

I added Sady's twitter to my RSS and she has not disappointed!
What can I say, proof this woman has taken twitter by storm]

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Richard K Morgan's Altered Carbon [political is personal]

From the fictional writings of Quellcrist Falconer:

The personal, as everyone's so fucking fond of saying, is political. So if some idiot politician, some power player, tries to execute policies that harm you or those you care about, TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Get angry. The Machinery of Justice will not serve you here – it is slow and cold, and it is theirs, hardware and soft-. Only the little people suffer at the hands of Justice; the creatures of power slide from under it with a wink and a grin. If you want justice, you will have to claw it from them. Make it PERSONAL. Do as much damage as you can. GET YOUR MESSAGE ACROSS. That way, you stand a better chance of being taken seriously next time. Of being considered dangerous. And make no mistake about this: being taken seriously, being considered dangerous makes the difference, the ONLY difference in their eyes, between players and little people. Players they will make deals with. Little people they liquidate. And time and again they cream your liquidation, your displacement, your torture and brutal execution with the ultimate insult that it's just business, it's politics, it's the way of the world, it's a tough life and that IT'S NOTHING PERSONAL. Well, fuck them. Make it personal.
From page 184-185 of this copy of Altered Carbon.

When people tell me they aren't really "into" politics, that its boring... I've had to temper my own reaction. You don't vote because you don't care? That's what they [politicians, the establishment] want. So they can fuck you over as much as they want. Refuse to extend YOUR unemployment benefits, offer YOUR money to bail out Wall Street...

And then they dick around not repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It makes me sick to my stomach EVERY TIME I see this on the news. Like, this should be the easiest rights giving we've ever done! Ever! And its still not done. Health care got done, for God's sake!

Anyway. I've still got that page bookmarked, and I sort of want to put it on a card to hand to people when they tell me that they just don't follow politics.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Frak it Friday: Elsinore - "Wooden Houses"

First alerted to this by tinymixtapes who called Elsinore "orchestral pop wizards."

What a great video to go with such a great song!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Reading this book was like making a fast friend; you want to spend all your time with them, but you know that it can't last forever. I loved this book and story, but there was one issue: zero quotation marks. Makes it hard to lose yourself in the story, because you're constantly trying to figure out if they're saying it, if its action, or if they're thinking it. Example:
That's okay, she said, rubbing the underside of her eye bone. How'd it turn out?
Fine, I said, but my voice wavered.
See how annoying that could be?

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Kind Of, Sort Of, Maybe Love Letter To John Green

Its hard to measure how depressing it is that I didn't read John Green books when I was an actual, honest to goodness teenager. Part of this is totally not my fault; he didn't publish his first book until I was nineteen, so really, there was very window there.

But it took me a while to warm up to John Green. I distinctly remember going into the library in late 2008, seeing his books, and only thinking, "Hmm." Not, "I WANT TO READ THAT BECAUSE IT LOOKS AWESOME," but, "Hmmm." Mild interest. But not enough to even pick it up in the library! The shame.

Yeah, I'm embarrassed. But I was out of the habit of picking up new things to read. In 2009, I decided that I wasn't going to reread any books ALL YEAR LONG, so I was going to have to find new things to read. This was sort of like a rebirth in my reading style. Pretty much my entire life up until that point, I had reread almost every book I had read before at least once. I didn't venture out much away from my collection much before this. (The reasons: I didn't live within a library district, and books are expensive.)

So even though I was a huge reader, I hadn't read all that much until 2009. I remember interestedly googling John Green, because I had seen his books so often in the Young Adult section in the library (and yes, as an actual adult, I still venture in there). It was definitely in February, and I was definitely out of things to do at a receptionist temp jobs. I spent the rest of the day combing through a website that cataloged famous last words. The website he had linked to has now disappeared.

I was even more intrigued, and read The Abundance of Katherines, even though I thought that the premise was kind of silly. (I mean, how many Katherines do I even KNOW?) And I loved it.

I could spend all day linking to different videos John Green has done that I loved. I really, really could. One of my favorites is this one:

[If you enjoyed that video, his video about the penny is also pretty awesome.]

I wish that I had read these books when I was in the eleventh grade. But they didn't exist when I was in the eleventh grade.

I also have a copy of Will Grayson, Will Grayson that I just finished and loved to my right, and I could spend the next few hours combing it for awesomely hilarious things to quote here.

 This is pretty much it. I appreciate the John Green and everything he's been doing, and it only took two years for this to happen. And since I sort of kind of maybe should be writing in NaNoWriMo, I'm going to end it there.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Excerpts of the Media's Failings [According to World War Z]

Okay, so I get that World War Z is not real, but there are some pretty good points about the way the media works (especially in a crisis). I get it. Part of the problem in World War Z was that the United States didn't really have any cases of the dead coming back to life during the beginning of the outbreak. So it really, really seemed like someone else's problem. You know. Like certain earthquakes, floods, or genocides that are occurring right now.

Or even when certain things are occurring on our shores:

Yeah. Five months ago would have put that..... right around June. Great.

In World War Z,  fictional previous chief of staff defends the administration for not acting more decisively against the outbreak, saying (pg 59):

"Can you imagine what America would have been like if the federal government slammed on the brakes every time some paranoid crackpot cried 'wolf' or 'global warming' or 'living dead'? Please. What we did, what every president since Washington has done, was provide a measured, appropriate response, in direct relation to a realistic threat assessment."
 And really, don't expect the media to do...much of anything (pg 62):
"The 'media'? You mean those networks that are owned by some of the largest corporations in the world, corporations that would have taken a nosedive if another panic hit the stock market? That media?.....
[on alternative news sources] Oh sure, and you know who listens to them? Pansy, overeducated know-it-alls, and you know who listens to them? Nobody! Who's going to care about some PBS-NPR fringe minority that's out of touch with the mainstream? The more those elitist eggheads shouted, 'The Dead Are Walking,' the more most real Americans tuned them out."
This definitely would have been the attitude of the Bush administration. 

Later, a woman recounts what it was like when the outbreak reached America and the Panic started (pg 122):
"You couldn't find a channel with anything but zombie news, either live images or recorded footage from Yonkers. Looking back, I still can't believe how unprofessional the news media was. So much spin, so few hard facts. All those digestible sound bites from an army of 'experts' all contradicting one another, all trying to seem more 'shocking' and 'in depth' than the lats one. It was all so confusing, nobody seemed to know what to do."
  Does that sound like any news media you know? Maybe the one leading up to the Iraq War, maybe the one on September 11, 2001? Or maybe Hurricane Katrina in 2005?

Honestly, if there's one thing that unites all Americans, it that we all think that the news media sucks. We just disagree on why it sucks.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Frak It Friday: Sunset Rubdown - "Idiot Heart"

A song about having to "move around" and wander no matter what the cost, even though it makes no sense:
If I found you in this city called Paradise,

I'd say, "I love you, but I hate this city, and I'm no prize."
Even after finding the paradise, he's got to move on. He acknowledges that his heart is being an idiot ("You know your heart, but its an idiot heart"), but he's got to keep "moving around," until an embittered female singer sings:
I hope that you died in a decent pair of shoes,
You've got a lot of long walking to do,

Where you going to?
So even when he dies, he still can't be at rest. And he still doesn't know where he's going!

I had been saving Sunset Rubdown for a rainy day, and apparently "rainy day" means "eight hour stretch of time when I'm procrastinating on my NaNoWriMo Novel." 

And I'd spent even more time, procrastinating on said novel, planning out this post. Yeah, this song got under my skin. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Old 97's Live On Leno - Champaign, Illinois

I might be burying the lede a little here, but did the members of the Old 97's JUST SHAKE HANDS WITH CHRISTINE O'DONNELL?

Nice to see Champaign, IL getting some cred. After all, it wasn't really named-checked on Sufjan Steven's Illinois.

[Lyrics and explanation to the song, Champaign, Illinois]

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Unsettling thoughts on your Sunday Morning....[Daisy, In The Sun]

"They don't even know what memory is. They think maybe it isn't even in the brain cells. That its in the atoms somewhere, and even if we're blown apart, that memory stays. What if we do get burned by the sun and we still remember? What if we go on burning and burning and remembering and remembering forever?"
From Connie Willis' short story collection Fire Watch, the story "Daisy, in the Sun," page 200.

"Daisy, in the Sun" is probably one of the most enjoyable short stories I have ever read, combining an impending Armageddon with a coming of age story. 

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear

It took me three hours to get away from downtown yesterday, partially because there was no good strategy to leave.  But totally worth it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Old 97's - "Champaign, Illinois"

I mean, what did you expect from a band who had written a song called "Bloomington"? Apparently (according to the guy who ran the record store in downtown Champaign) their record label used to be based in the area and the used to Champaign concerts all the time. You know, before I went to college there and they stopped doing that.

This song is a sped up, rewritten version of Bob Dylan's song, "Desolation Row". Not so desolate. There's gotta be a place between heaven and hell for the people who really weren't bad, but weren't all that great either. I've gotta say the best line is, "There is an argument that there must be some heaven meant for hearts that are half true."

As a person who spent a time in this lesser heaven (purgatory without release to heaven?), Champaign, IL, I'm not sure its all that bad.

Below are lyrics:

The bottom line's been snorted
the bottom card's been dealt
No one knows like you know right now
How truly bad it felt

All your life you wasted, oh
Dreamin' about the day
When worker bees kill off their queen
and carry all her eggs away

Oh, and if you die fearin' God
And painfully employed
No, you will not go to heaven
You'll go to Champaign, Illinois

Up north is Chicago
Where booze makes no one blush
Memory comes back to you
In a double bourbon rush

The memories aren't all bad
and neither, my friend, are you
There is an argument that there must be some heaven meant
For hearts that are half true

And if you spend your whole life
rollin' horses into Troy
You will not go to heaven
You'll go to Champaign, Illinois
No, you will not go to heaven
You'll go to Champaign, Illinois

Roll on blacktop highway
Circles toward the sun
Springfield's in the distance
And that's the last big one

After that comes judgement
And judgement will be swift
You will be eliminated
But here's a parting gift

If you die fearing God
And painfully employed
You will not go to heaven
You'll go to Champaign, Illinois
No, you will not go to heaven,
You'll go to Champaign, Illinois

[Video note: while the video above is the most clear, there's another one that features Rhett Miller shaking his hips around like Elvis. As a person who's been five feature from Rhett Miller doing that in person, I totally recommend it. He really gets into it around the 1:50 mark. Or this one starting at the 0:42 mark. Really, all the videos on Youtube of this video are awesome. They sound great live.]

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall Limited Addition Woodchuck -- You Are Delicious

I love cider to begin with, but this stuff is just delicious. Like regular Woodchuck, but cinnamon-y. Every time I've drank one (we're on our second six pack), I am both happy because it is so delicious but sad, because it is merely seasonal.

That's right, after this month it will go away for the next 11 months. Is there a way to make this a year round thing? What would I have to do to have this all the time?  Do I have to buy another pack of it? Do I have to tell more people about it? Tweet about it? Write letters about it? As it is, the Giant down the street hasn't been regularly carrying it...and it hasn't been available at the Costco.

Seriously. Having this available year round would be awesome. Someone make that happen.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Men. On Couches.

I picked up The Lonely Polygamist from the library a week ago, and when I pulled it out of my bag, something about the cover seemed eerily familiar:

Don't see it? Don't get a flash of recognition?

What about now?

Still don't have it?

Its okay, I had to look at it for a while to figure out what I found familiar about it.

Of course, the obvious connection that anyone will make with Brady Udall's The Lonely Polygamist is Big Love, but the cover is strongly reminiscent of Don Draper.

After reading the book, I google image searched The Lonely Polygamist and found this cover:

To me, this is so much more about the book. While the couch (and dog!) are mentioned in the book, this above cover references just how much is going on, how crowded this person's life is. That's what a polygamist's life is like: constantly surrounded by people, constantly one of the crowd, and never an individual...unless you're the head of the family...who is the only person recognizable in the cover, in the doorway. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Book Snobs and Your Commute to Work

You Are What You Read only has part of the story. Natalie Southwick writes:

Clearly, other commuters indulge in this vaguely intellectual form of people-watching, or at least feel the need to employ appropriate defensive measures. I’m always conscious that other passengers may be judging my taste in books as much as I’m judging theirs, so I try my best to cultivate an ideal (although perhaps not entirely accurate) impression. That’s why Haruki Murakami accompanies me to work, while Malcolm Gladwell stays home.
I vaguely am aware that other people might be judging what I'm reading (and I've read Haruki Murakami and Malcolm Gladwell on my way to and from work) but it never really stops me. I read all the Twilight books on the metro, but would be a little pissed if someone wanted to engage me in a Team Edward vs Team Jacob debate. After all, I'm in the middle of reading. The purpose of the book is so that no one talks to me. And even when I engage other people reading, I wait until they've stopped reading to strike up conversation.

Do I judge other people on their selections? Maybe a little, but I almost never say anything, whether the selection is good or bad. And I certainly don't choose my own books on how I think it will look to other people. I choose them because I want to read them.

I've updated my New Years Resolution to not only keep track of all the books that I read for the year, but to read at least 100 books by December 31st. Part of this is possible because I'm reading books I really want to read, so it goes pretty quickly. The last few weeks look like this:

Should I be embarrassed that I'm reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels? Or that I didn't realize that Terry Goodkind was an objectivist piece of shit until I read Faith of the Fallen (well, read it in between throwing it across the room)? Or should I be feel all hoity toity because I read a collection of essays about fat prejudice? And Dave Eggers' nonfiction book about Hurricane Katrina?

Mostly I just don't care. After all, I'm busy reading. 

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Front Row Seats to the Latest Hostage Situation

Needless to say, its a stressful and a little surreal to watch police surround a building while wearing bullet proof vests.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Only I Can Talk About Media Studies That Way!

       He was glad, he supposed, that she had earned a degree. Yet he wondered whether the abundance of the information provided by a $200K Dartmouth BA in "media studies" might have been available through a free trial subscription to The Atlantic Monthly and a basic cable package including Turner Classics for fifty dollars a month. His daughter's dubious degree had alone decimated the savings he'd accrued previous to the sale of Knack.
So Much For That by Lionel Shriver, Page 117 of the Hardcover First Edition

You know how its okay if you make fun of your family, but when you hear other people do it, you feel completely and totally incensed? Actually, there are a lot of things like that. And its totally okay. And generally, people accept that as the way life is, unless of course your name is Dr. Laura. Its only okay when I make fun of my major (and the other people in it).

And I also know that the opinions of the characters do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the author, but does media studies need to go into quotation marks? Seriously? This is generally why when people ask what my degree is in, I just say "I got a degree in Communications," and leave it at least I didn't go to Dartmouth to get the degree.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Frak it Friday: Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You"


So this is less explicit that that "Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury" but no less awesome.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Huffington Post Truncates RSS Feed?

I was downright put out earlier this year when the Gawker RSS became truncated. With Huffington Post, it was just the final nail in the coffin.

I don't pay attention to at least 60 percent of what they post. (Even in the image above, I don't care about the three articles that you can kind of see.) Still, I was getting a general news and sometimes it would surprise me. I enjoyed the in depth episode coverage of True Blood, Mad Men, and Lost. Sometimes they would have interesting recipes.

And other times, it would be a stray piece of information that I would not have otherwise seen. Some book list posted on Huffington Post included Brady Udall, with a new book called The Lonely Polygamist. 

"Hey," I thought. "Is that the same Brady Udall who I saw speak at some point between 2004 and 2008 and who was a professor at Southern Illinois University? It is! I must immediately request this from the library!"

I browse bookstores now only occasionally. I halfway read a couple of different book websites. Its possible that it might have been years until I thought to look up Brady Udall or accidentally stumble across it, considering how long it had been since I read The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint (and enjoyed it).

There isn't really a point, except that even if I did keep subscribing to Huffington Post, I'd be less likely to read as much of it as I do now. Its possible if the feed had been truncated when Brady Udall showed up on it, I wouldn't have even seen it, unless he was in the first paragraph or the first on the list. 

And I know, clicking through isn't the worst thing in the world. But I don't do it. Because I'm in the flow of reading quickly, using keyboard shortcuts ('k' automatically opens the next article in the feed, since I read them in chronological order), and breezing by. So I unsubscribed for good, and now I know to keep better tabs on what Brady Udall is doing with his time.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What I Do Instead of Praying...[Save Me From The Giggle Loop]

I was on the bus today, thinking about all the times that I have bowed my head in pretended prayer in my life. I had assumed that pretending to pray/going through the motions is what is expected of me.

On the bus today, though, I had an epiphany: this could actually be offensive. I mean, everyone else assumes I am just like them, over here with my head bowed, solemn expression, having my own private talk with God. Except I'm not, because I don't believe there is even a God to listen to me, and even if He did exist, he would think that my thoughts were the worst, ever.

Mostly, during these moments of silence/contemplation/group prayer, I have one internal objective.

Do not think anything that could start a giggle loop:

[Warning: to know about the giggle loop is to become a part of the giggle loop]

So without further ado, this is what I'm doing while pretending to pray in different siutations
 1. The before meal prayer
This one is probably the most straightforward of them all. Basically, while something is talking about whatever, and yes, I did just call a prayer "whatever," I'm thinking something along the lines of this:
Hungry. Hungry.  Hungry. Hungry. Restrain yourself. Hungry. Hungry. Salivating. Hungry. Restraint. Restraint. Hungry. 
 You know. Until the prayer is done. Because I'm hungry, and the food is all on the table (we can't pre-pray for this? Like when its cooking? Get it out of the way?) and one of the reasons I don't argue with the prayer is that even though the prayer is taking up precious moments when I could be stuffing my face, the argument would take even longer.

The thing is, if I wasn't to hungry to restrain my thoughts, I would try to think about the gratefulness of having a meal in front of me. Generally, this is what I do after meals: be thankful that my life's circumstances have allowed me to eat so generously. 
2. Moment of silence for the recently departed
 This obviously isn't so much about praying as the one before. No one commands you to think about any Gods. I prefer to think of it as recreational sad time. I really, really try to think good thoughts about the person I knew who has now died.

This gets complicated when I don't know the person. Then I try to think good thoughts about the person that I know that is affected.

But there are moments of silence when I don't have any connection to anyone involved whatsoever, and these fill me with the greatest sadness. In my recreational sad time, I hear the sad story and all I am thinking about is how awful it is. Recreational sad time imagination exploits this for all the awfulness it can get out of it. Immediately confronted in my own head with an imaginary drama. Without the structure of prayer, my mind seizes onto the worst of the imagery. And then instead of the aforementioned giggle loop, I'm trying not to loudly sob at the loss. This could possibly be worse than a giggle loop, because I have no connection whatsoever to the people who are actually hurting.

[Edit: I thought more about this, and its mostly because I don't know anything about this person whatsoever except their tragedy. And social construct demands that I think about this person, so I'm left with their tragedy. It'd be nice if I got thrown a bone, like, "Mildred, who died this week at 67 after living a nice full life in Friendship Heights," so my mind could be like "Full life! Nice section of town!" But no, Mildred died, please pray for her immediate all I think about is people who loved this lovely Mildred person and no longer have her in their life.]
3. Random "Let Us Pray" moments
This is maybe the worst of them all, because these are the most susceptible to laughter. Thankfully, they don't come up accept in religious environments. But I do run into them.

Occasionally, I go to churches. My boyfriend is into Unitarian Universalism, and honestly, if I were to enter any house of worship, I'd prefer it be a UU church. The last wedding I went to had a "Let Us Pray" moment too.

There are generally stages to the madness that goes on in my brain during a "Let Us Pray" moment:

The Stage Where I Try To Think About Something Positive

Work hasn't been so bad lately. I had a really good hamburger last week. My commutes been going smoothly. I read a really awesome book yesterday

The Stage Where I Treat This Like A Shooting Star

I would like a raise, lose twenty pounds, win the lottery, be generally awesome, get new chapsticks, write in my blog more often....

The Stage Where I Begin To Wonder When The "Let Us Pray" Will end long are we going to sit here and do nothing but be quiet?

The Stage Where I Sneakily Look Around The Room

Yeah, everyone looks like they're still praying

Generally, this is the part when prayer gets ended. But who's timing it? Is the person in charge just waiting until they feel like they've got all their prayers in, or do they have a timer going? If its the former, is it one of those things where the more practice you have, the more efficient you are? Or is it more like endurance, like because you pray like, all the time, you can go for longer? And is it really fair to put me against that standard, the equivalent of a prayer couch potato?

Anyway. None of this is shocking. I'm not deliberately thinking of SINS AND HOW MUCH I LOVE SINNING during prayer, because it doesn't seem worthwhile; it would only be minimally rewarding, because I would be the only one to know. And, after all, if they are the type to care about that, they are certainly the type to be pissed that I'm mimicking prayer instead of doing the real thing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

This video might be offensive to you...

....if you dislike hearing the word "fuck" too much.

It was in my head all weekend. Maybe I should have had a catchiness warning as well as a Watch Out, Prudes! warning.

Ray Bradbury turned 90 recently.

[From io9]

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Elsinore Album Out!

...And Facebook thought that I wouldn't know, even though I'm a fan of Elsinore on Facebook, so they helpfully suggested it.


Good try, Facebook, I'm all over it!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We Landed On The Moon - "All The Little Lambs"

I've been subscribed to Hollaback DC on my Google Reader for a while now, and usually read with a strange fascination. It isn't just me that hates being gawked at, forced into awkward conversations, and asked for my hand in marriage.... all by perfect strangers.  I hate when men I don't know motion for me to take off my headphones to tell me that they think I'm beautiful, Do I have a boyfriend? Do I have a husband?

My headphones were on because I didn't want to be bothered. My nose was in a book because I didn't want you to talk to me. I didn't make eye contact because I want to be left alone. You need directions? I'll give them to you. You need help finding where the nearest Starbucks is? Fine. But you want to proposition me for sex, you want me to smile for you, you want to distract me from whatever I'm doing just because? You want a hug from me so you can grab my ass? No thank you.

I've had We Landed On The Moon's cd, This Will Be One For The Books on a flash drive at a concert of theirs in February.

[Side note: On the clip above and at the concert I was at, the lead singer's vocals were not mixed high enough. Her voice is great and I think highlighting it would be the best for everybody.]

I was listening to it this morning on the way to work when "All The Little Lambs" came on. And it was angsty about all the Hollaback problems that I'd both been experiencing and reading about lately (an example of such angst; trying to find a place where street harassment does not exist).

The song starts with these repeated words, over and over and over again:
He said, "Hey babydoll, won't you come sit across from me
so I can look at you more."
Well, what you looking at me for?
When I try to explain to people the situations, the fact that I don't like it, they don't get it. I don't see any reason for anybody to be gawking at me; he doesn't even want to talk; all he wants his her looks. Degrading, right? What if I don't want to cater to your need, your desire to look at me? To talk to me so you can flirt and hit on me? So you can use degrading nicknames like 'babydoll' to refer to a grown-ass woman?

The chorus is a little hard to understand. I think it goes something like, "And all the little lambs / we need to get a lock for the door." I guess I wouldn't compare myself to a lamb in this situation: I can do something. I can say no, I don't want to talk to you. I don't want to stay in the same vicinity as you. If it goes too far, I can call the police.

And a stranger saying this to a woman is seriously disturbing:

You got an old hand rag and a box full of magazines
Wipe the sheets where you say you keep score
Well, what you looking at me for?
 But the next verse makes me think she's a waitress:
You got some change in your pocket that you want to try to give to me
 Should I pick it up from the floor?
Well, what you looking at me for?
Dropping her change, her tip and livelihood so he can watch her bend down and pick up? Yeah, I've seen worse. Even the previous verse isn't out of the ordinary for someone working customer service. While being a cashier in a video rental store, I was handed six note pad pages. The first one and a half were about how the author of the pages (an older man, maybe in his 50s) was a good Christian man. The remaining pages were all the sex acts he wanted to perform on/with me.

I can't remember what I did, but I remember this part very clearly: I was angry at him for taking advantage of my status as a customer service worker. I was being friendly because I was being paid to be friendly, nothing more. And I wasn't asking for it in the way that I was dressed: I was wearing loose khaki pants and a polo three sizes too big. I treated him not differently before that than any other customer.

A waitress depends on her tips. Rocking the boat and calling someone out on their bullshit can hurt your livelihood. As a CSR, I was afraid that if I did anything that I would get in trouble for not being nice enough to the customer. That complicates things, and the harasser knows it, takes advantage.

The thing I like most about this song? It doesn't beg you to like it like most pop songs do. This is the song, this is the woman, this is the message; accept it. Most of the other songs on the album have a toe tapping beat and a nice melody; this features awesome, escalating, defiant vocals.

Yeah. I'm going to say this made my day.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

I had heard all the hype about Insatiable by Meg Cabot from her blog. She was featured in EW's Summer Beach Reads, which, honestly, I don't know how anyone can say "Beach Read" ironically with everything happening in the gulf.

Of course, the only thing I was thinking as a finished it was, "When's the next one coming out? There is going to be a next one, right?"

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I hope its not too much to say, but this video makes my boyfriend cry....

Fireworks don't make me feel patriotic. That letter makes me feel patriotic.

[And in the interest of full disclosure, it makes me cry too. Ken Burn's The Civil War, on Netflix Watch Instantly now!]

Sunday, June 27, 2010

TiMER the movie! Romantic Comedy with slight sci-fi twist!

After I finished Buffy the Vampire Slayer earlier this month (thanks, Netflix Watch Instantly!) I felt like I desperately needed more Anya (Emma Caulfield). I didn't remember seeing her in anything else (ever) but had heard from various websites that she was in a new movie.

Fast forward to yesterday when I was surfing around the Netflix Watch Instantly selection (I swear they don't pay me, I'm just extremely happy with the watch instantly service on my Wii) and I found the movie: TiMER.

With a slight sci-fi quirk, its possible to know when you meet your soul mate. The question is never, "Is the TiMER accurate?" during the movie, but, "Should you know and plan your life around this? Are you ready to make this the most important part of your life?"

It isn't the best movie ever, but it was pretty enjoyable. Emma Caulfield is about as delightful as can be. Desmond Harrington (Quinn from Dexter) as guy-who's-incredibly-sad-about-dead-wife is kind of boring, but he's not in it much. I especially liked the relationship between Oona (Caulfield) and her stepsister Steph (Michelle Borth). I wish I could find a clip of the two sisters interacting, because it is absolutely adorable.

All in all? A pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon when everyone else is watching the US lose in the World Cup. 

[Amazon Affiliate. If you follow one of the links on this website to Amazon and purchase something, I receive a portion of the purchase price.]

Friday, June 18, 2010

RE: Girl Crush on Christina Hendricks

A girl who makes time for Science fiction indie rock videos? Yeah, I like it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

OMG its the National Zoo!

My mom took the above picture with her awesome camera while she was visiting. (I have slight camera envy)

I've now seen the Pandas! (And they look oh-so cuddly)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wolf Parade - Little Golden Age [This Place Is The Machine That Put The Iron In Your Heart]

I've got to say, its starting to get weird when I listen to songs that aren't by someone in Wolf Parade. I've listened to "Yulia" about 200 times in the past week. A little obsessive, I know. (The only thing competing with Wolf Parade for brain space is how much of an asshole Rand Paul is.) Right now, the Wolf Parade part of my brain is completely focused on the song "Little Golden Age," seemingly about either a high school/college experience (partial lyrics follow):

"You lived in a place long, long ago

Where nothing moves, sometimes goes slow
And someone sang about a golden age"
 Sounds like high school or college to me. No one ever gets older, the students just get recycled every year.

"And you left town feeling pretty down
with your head phones and coat
and your dirty graduation gown
You were in the bedroom singing radio songs
 Sing loud, sing all night anyway
needed something to help you along "
The golden age comes to an end. The singer then says that:
"And I don't miss my little golden age
'cause the body takes the heart
takes the heart from place to place
But this place still stands
This place remains unchanged
And you can't go back
and who would want to anyway?"
So why miss the experiences when you carry them with you? And why long for a place that will never change, never grow into something new? There isn't much use in getting tied up in what was, because you can't go back to what you were.

Even though those times were awesome. Even if they were the best of your life. You just can't go back to it because while nothing else there changes, you have.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahan

I've got to say, the only reason I took this book home with me was the quote from another author on the front of the book. I've read two Kate Mosse novels (Labyrinth and Sepulchre) and thought, well, I'll know what to expect.

It was much, much better than that. I really looked forward to reading this book when I wasn't reading it, a must for finishing books when I also have an iPod to keep me busy on the train home.

It's about a woman named Evelyn in England right after World War I. The sense is that the war pretty much ruined an entire (male) generation; if it didn't kill them, then it certainly made them crazy. With the supply of men somewhat diminished, there's something of a slow panic among women; you might be a perfectly suitable and attractive woman, but it is very possible you will end up alone.

Evelyn is one of the first women lawyers, having to fight tooth and nail to be respected. One night, a woman shows up at her home (that she shares with her mother and grandmother) with a child in tow. Her late brother's child.

Its tricky because [spoilers!] I definitely called what happened to the woman (Meredith) with the child (called Edmund). It seemed so obvious to me that she had been raped by Evelyn's much worshiped dead brother (James). Meredith was so disinclined to talk about James that it felt like a red flashing warning. The confession comes out when they're both drunk at a party:
"Well, the truth is this. James fell in love with me, like so many of them did. We were ministering angels, after all, in our white veils and aprons. Those men emerged from the pain and the horror to find that we had created order and had quiet voices and gentle hands. We were women. But unlike the others your brother was greedy. It wasn't enough to look -- he had to touch, too. He grew hungrier and hungrier, pursued me, wouldn't leave me alone, refused to take no for an answer, found out my routine until, on the evening before he was due to go back, he came looking for me with one idea in his head."
Evelyn misunderstands this, She says that Meredith must have given James some sort of signal, she must have done something to cause it. Meredith says,
"He regarded my resistance as an obstacle, simply, to overcome."
For a novel set in the 1920s, I thought this was fairly well done. Meredith continually says that she cared for him as she cared for all the men that she nursed during the war, but that didn't mean that she wanted him to rape her, to terrorize her.

Overall, this book was much better than I expected. I appreciated the delicacy with which the author dealt with the emotions of every character.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wolf Parade - Yulia [Song about Space]


 So the new Wolf Parade album EXPO 86 leaked, and I'd been playing it off and on all weekend. I knew I liked the way "Yulia" sounded, but Wolf Parade can be hard to understand. (Case in point: rather than "Yulia" my boyfriend thought that were singing, "Too young! Too young!")

I didn't really hear the words until this morning on my commute, and I'm not so clear on all of them, but the ones I am clear on: wow.

Its a song about a astronaut (cosmonaut? Yulia is an Eastern European/Russian name, as for Julia. The Ukrainian PM is named Yulia) singing back to his love on earth. The song begins with the send off for the flight (apologies if lyrics are wrong, see above explanation of WP being hard to understand....and this isn't a full collection of the lyrics, but just the most pertinent/hearable to me):

"I was up there floating with them
and you know that I was gone
The radio sings a patriot song
as the devil gets you low

We were standing on the platform
The favorite sons in history"

This is a pretty big deal. They're already national heroes, just for advancing the space program. You know, until:

"The flip one switch at mission control
and I'm never coming home

Its unclear to me whether this was intentional on the space program's part (they fuck up and pull the plug to cover it up) or if it was just that nothing else could be done (no way to save them, so might as well cut your losses).

"I'm standing here
Drifting alone
and my heartbeats slow
and I hope they bring my body back

Doubly heartbreaking. I don't know if its just because I love being earthbound, but the idea of drifting in space, dying and all alone in all that space is terrible. And then knowing, as you are dying, that you'll be alone alone, drifting, for the rest of eternity.

The next is directly put to Yulia:

"So when they turn the camaras on you
Baby please don't speak of me
Point up to the dark above you
As they edit me from history

I'm ten million miles from my comfortable home
And space is very cold

So this guy goes from being the favorite son of his country to being written out of history because of the mission's failure. And gets to die alone for his trouble.

The next part just piles on the heartbreak"

"There's nothing out here
Nothing out here
nothing out
nothing out here
nothing out here"

This is the best song featuring space in a while. 

So, is it significant that her name is Yulia instead of Julia? Is this story more believable if its the Russians doing this? And maybe the failed manned missions from the US didn't get completely covered up, but we definitely don't remember them the way we remember Buzz Aldrin (of Dancing with the Stars fame, now!) or Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon. Who remembers the names of the astronauts who died in Apollo 1? Its not a cover up, its just the way recent history remembers.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jake Gyllenhaal/Yillin-hoolah-hey

Okay, so last time I featured him he was in that Vampire Weekend video and while I was pro-Jake cameo, I was meh on the rest of the video.

But this is just pure fun/adorableness!

[From Jezebel]

[P.S. How sad is it on a scale from 1 to pathetic that I spelled his name right on the first try? To be fair, I'm also a fan of his sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal.]

Friday, May 14, 2010

Frak it Friday: Banksy Grafitti spotted in Boston

Last time I talked about Banksy I was pretty harsh about his selling a book of his pieces called Wall and Piece. I've gone back to admiring his pieces of grafitti. Some was spotted in San Francisco and more recently, in Boston (above picture).

I haven't seen any in person, so now I'm hoping one or two will pop up in DC. Here's hoping.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

This blog does not have an existential crisis

I was walking to the metro after work today and thinking about the purpose of me keeping this blog. After all, when I started I was underemployed with a lot of time on my hands. Two, three posts a day!

Now, I'm lucky to get one in a week. But even with the tiny output, this blog still helps me think critically. Reading, I'm on constant lookout for a good quotation. I'm always listening or on the lookout for a good video. A good soundbite. Interesting advertisements. Or formulating general angst. Even if I don't post about it.

I'm also equipped for Adsense on this blog, and now am an Amazon Associate. Am I going to make money? No. Over the past two and a half years, I am a tenth of the way on Google Adsense to making enough to actually have a check. It doesn't hurt to try, no? Plus, its supposed to be super easy to use the Amazon Associates, which will be nice sense I almost have posted on several books and gave up when I couldn't find a decent picture of the book. (Also, I assume that Google is making money, however little, off of being able to put ads on my site. Especially if they don't have to pay me.)

So this blog continues to exist. I want to post more.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Anti Sarah Palin Advertisements at the Silver Spring Metro

I work in Silver Spring and commute there pretty much every day. I work across the street from the Discovery Communication building, so this is pretty much a dig at them as well as Sarah Palin.

They were put up by the Defenders of Wildlife. They're attempting to get people to sign an online petition to keep her show off the Discovery Network.

I definitely think that while its a great idea to make all these different, how many people are going to walk around to each one to see the different messages?

[I do realize that I've had a NO SARAH PALIN rule for a while but I haven't written about her since last December. Once every six months isn't bad, especially since I passed up an opportunity to comment on Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live a little while ago.]