Sunday, December 23, 2007


It's very cold here. I don't have a good pen to write with and it's pissing me off. I also don't have a map which means I can't make sense of all the places I've been. Complaints to be handled at some point, I guess. Right now I'm just trying to stay warm, stay awake because I'm supposed to go to some party thing. I really really don't want to. Don't want to leave the house again tonight, at least until I can nap.


Yesterday (Saturday):
- Broadway Market in Hackney
- dinner at home
- drinks at the pub
- chips in a pita on the walk home

Today (Sunday):
- Tate Britain -- Millais!
- Covent Garden for expensive lunch and browsing Forbidden Planet
- home in the freezing fog

Friday, December 21, 2007

LDN: End of first day

Planes, trains, and automobiles. I definitely lost a day, with all the travel I did. Exhausting. Cary picked me up from Gatwick with coffee at the ready, and we rode for hours to get to his flat. then on to Finsbury Park, where we ate lunch at an awesome little deli called Good For Food (parsnip soup with cumin and ginger, and bread). Then we walked around, killed time. Cary signed a lease and moved into his new house, 3 blocks from St. Andrew's Mansions, where he was.

House is very, very cute. Exactly what you'd picture. I'm in the closet-sized guest room at the end of the hall. Cold, but it is freezing here. It gets dark at 4pm, and then it gets foggy. Exactly what you'd picture, again. I'm thinking it's mostly like that here. I miss Jenny an insane amount. Wish she was here. Still. I love England and I'm daydreaming about America. Re-reading American Gods. Planning my great cross-country roadtrip. I'd plan what to do here in London, but damn am I lost and confused. So many streets. I need a good map. And a day to wander around in like, each area.

Things I love about London thus far:
- the bus
- the corner shop
- the old, solid buildings
- the brisk air when I'm bundled up and walking fast

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Signed, Mata Hari

Even if I wasn't completely fascinated by her story, I would want to read this book for its gorgeous cover art:

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Synchronicity always happens

This morning I read on Bookslut that Elizabeth Hardwick had died.

Then I opened up Twenty-Eight Artists and Two Saints, to the middle of an essay I was reading, and Joan Acocella mentioned her in the very next paragraph.

Monday, November 26, 2007

For the holiday season

Essential listening: Money and Moral Balance, from Speaking of Faith.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

First Sunday of (Pagan) Advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent for those of us who celebrate the winter solstice ( use the word "pagan" parenthetically above because I'm a little uncomfortable with it--I wish there was some better way to express it).

Advent means "to wait," as in waiting for the rebirth of the sun at the solstice. This is a time of waiting, of counting down days and weeks, and that is certainly what I'm feeling in my life right now. I'm waiting for my trip to London--I'll arrive on the day of the solstice--and, in some ways, waiting for things to get better. I've been sick for over two weeks now; I'm waiting for that to subside so I can do more than lie around at home. I'm also generally dissatisfied, and goodness knows I'm waiting for that to end.

So tonight my friends and I got together, like we do every Sunday, and had a fire, talked, ate cookies (a good Sunday-before-Advent tradition), and enjoyed being in from the cold and the rain.

Future Advent season activities for me include: watching The Nutcracker featuring Baryshnikov, ice skating in Centennial Olympic Park, and perhaps creating a handmade nativity scene showing the birth of the sun.

Film: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

The list of things I love about this movie could go on and on. Noir. Robert Downey Jr. being hilarious and poignantly sensitive re: sex and women. Shannyn Sossamon. Dash Mihok (who just hasn't shown up in enough random places lately). Val Kilmer as a gay private dick. On and on.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

dir. by Shane Black, 2005

Thursday, November 15, 2007

On the AMPTP's math

Well, no, I'm not really going to talk about the AMPTP and their misleading math. Statistics are easy to manipulate, as we all learned in high school.

But I do want to post this quote I found on Wikipedia, because it perfectly illustrates my main argument against the AMPTP's greed:

If they gave us everything we had on the table right now, if they gave us everything we wanted—everything—and they then made a deal with the DGA and matched it, which is what they'll do, and then they made a deal with the Screen Actors Guild and tripled it, which is typically what happens....if they did that—if they gave us everything—on a company-by-company basis they would be giving all of us less than each of their CEOs makes in a year. And in some cases, a lot less.
—WGA president Patric Verrone (1)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dirty little secret

It's true, I did spend tonight at Borders reading--but vehemently not buying--Gossip Girl. And I loved all like 6 chapters that I got through. I full intend to go back as many times as it takes to finish.

You know what else I want to read, now that I've given in to this dark desire? Francine Pascal's Fearless books. I remember loving them when I was in high school, which is essentially several years too old to be reading something like that. And, let's face it, I never read YA books when I was a so-called young adult, but have blissfully discovered them and rediscovered them at pretty much every important stage of my life since then.

So. Gossip Girl and Fearless. I am so hip.

You know you love me. XOXO.

WGA letter writing

I just spent my lunch break writing letters to the heads of the networks whose TV shows I watch, voicing my support for the WGA strike, and informing them that I'll be boycotting their networks and sponsors for the duration.

I feel a bit better now.

The next step is to compile a list of my favorite shows' sponsors, and write them letters explaining my boycott and asking them to pull their advertising from the networks until the strike is over.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ew, Big Media

So a quick look at some lists of companies owned by the media Big Six has led me down a path of endless research, checking and re-checking Wikipedia to find out just who owns what. Whose pockets am I really lining when I plunk down $10 for a movie in the theate?

I've decided to boycott all the struck companies listed by the WGA on their site. Except for possibly a few films that I've been dying to see since before the strike was even looming.

The saddest part about this is that I now have to boycott favorite things like Amazon (partially owned by Time Warner), HarperCollins (owned by News Corp), and yes, even my beloved Television Without Pity (recently bought by Bravo, which is in turned owned by General Electric). Actually, I'm sticking to the TV rule for TWoP, so my boycott starts when the networks run out of new episodes of my shows (as the site will stop having recaps for them).

In the meantime, I'm compiling this super-huge list of companies owned by the media Big Six, which I will eventually post here.

I'll also be posting links to things I find on the web, like film shorts, that are keeping me fulfilled while the storytellers I love take a break to fight for their rights.

Film: Blood Simple

This movie is totally weird, and I'm not even sure I mean that in a Coen Brothers way. Still, I made it through the whole thing. And I suppose there is something to be said for seeing where they started, considering that I've seen where they've gone.

Book: Looking for Alaska

by John Green (2005).

A seemingly simple story that is so much more powerful than the plot alone can describe. I adore John Green's characters, I love that he sets his books in the South, I love that he makes me cry while I'm reading. I can't say enough good things. The man is amazing.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Theatre: The Last Five Years

at Actor's Express.

God, what a sad show. I think this is the saddest musical ever written. I cried just a little the entire time.

The actors in this production were completely awesome, with strong voices and lots of presence. Kathy was especially amazing. The set was neat, but I wonder if it didn't cause the people sitting on opposite sides to have different reactions to the characters. Kathy faced our side the most, and I felt for Kathy the most. But maybe that also was because of the writing? I can't tell.

Anyway, awesome show. best thing I've seen in a while.

Film: Zodiac

Really compelling but really long. Also, I think this would have been better on the big screen--that is the scale it's meant for. Still, it was very enjoyable.

dir. by David Fincher, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Reasons I am sad about the WGA strike

Before I start listing these, let me first voice my utmost support for the WGA and their reasons for striking. They deserve those extra cents, and I mean that in all seriousness. If you don't know much about the reasons for the strike, NPR has a good Q&A about it (scroll down).

So, here is why I am sad about the possibility of a prolonged strike:

- I'm loving a lot of shows this season, and I don't want to lose them for the second half of the year.

- Aside from Heroes, my favorite shows are new this season, and I really don't want them to get canceled because the network can't give them enough time to find their audience.

- Speaking of Heroes, the mini-series Heroes: Origins has been abandoned because of the strike. (John August reported this on his blog.)

- If programming is interrupted, the assumption at the moment is that networks will replace most of their scripted programming with reality shows. I hate reality shows, and I refuse to watch them.

- I've realized, in talking about this with friends, that TV is a market in which a boycott means almost nothing. Because the networks rely mainly on Nielsen boxes to gather ratings data, they have no idea whether or not my TV is turned to their channel. So they'll have no idea when I stop watching. As a consumer, this upsets me.

So here's to a quick resolution and an end to the strike--with the WGA getting what they've asked for.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Theatre: Richard III

at Georgia Shakespeare.

Let me just say this straight out: no one compares to Ian McKellen, and no one ever will.

That said, there were aspects of this production that I liked. The set was amazing as always, utilizing fabric and reflective surfaces in cool ways. The coronation scene and the dream sequence stood out in that respect as visually quite stunning.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Book: Specials

by Scott Westerfeld (2006).

The totally awesome end to the Pretties trilogy, which I basically raced through. I love that conditions for our main character changed so radically from book to book; Westerfeld is certainly not afraid of mixing it up, or making drastic decisions in regards to his characters and worlds. I admire this immensely.

Ending a trilogy can be tricky, but I think this book pulled it off pretty well. The action was great, and nearly nonstop, and the end was a nice stopping place for a story that obviously goes on in its own world.

And, of course, there is the fourth book left to read.

Rodin: In His Own Words

exhibit at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art.

I don't know if you knew this, but Rodin was a total badass. Everything he pretty much ever said was totally on point.

My favorite piece at the exhibit was the Sphinx on a Column, but I'd be hard pressed to tell you why. I loved it all, really. The Spirit of War is terrifying. Those slick, shiny nudes made me appreciate bronze more than I ever have.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Book: The Turn of the Screw

by Henry James (1898).

This is really more of a novella, I suppose, but we'll call it a book just for fun. I read it based on a reference by Jessa on the Bookslut blog, about reading something scary for Halloween.

Scary is definitely a word you could use to describe this book. But not scary in a horror movie way. Scary in a quiet, foreboding way. Very gothic. The last line is worth the entire 120-odd pages that comes before it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I've decided last minute to participate, and write a 50,000-word novel by November 30. I am scared beyond belief. But maybe it'll be fun?

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Halloween in Harlem"

In honor of the season and my recent trip to NYC, here's a link that everyone should check out: Halloween in Harlem, photography by Amy Stein.

(via Endicott Redux)

Book: Pretties

by Scott Westerfeld (2005).

I am thoroughly addicted to this series. I'm liking it more and more as I read. This book might have felt very much the middle bit of a trilogy, but it was still awesomely fun. We learn more about the world outside the cities--that big wide world is hiding a lot--and about who are our lead characters are as people. The slang was used a little too repetitively, but all that annoyance got lost once the action scenes would kick up again.

I'm making myself wait for the third, but I'm very excited to get there.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Book: Uglies

by Scott Westerfeld (2005).

Once again, Westerfeld comes through for me when I'm stuck in comic book limbo.

I don't think I'll end up loving this trilogy as fiercely as I love the Midnighters. But it's really good in its own way, and definitely worth taking the time. In fact, this book was pretty addictive. Everyone is likable, and everyone is flawed in ways that make them seem very real. The scifi stuff isn't bothersome (I'm not a huge fan of scifi in book form), and the dystopian society is really neat. Mostly, I just think it's awesome to teach kids about radical democracy and anarchism in the guise of a nail-biting thrill ride of a book.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Film: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Definitely in my top five for the year. A beautiful, strange, sad, slow meditation on what it means to meet your hero, and what it means to kill your hero. Possibly even better than Unforgiven in its demythologizing of the West. Except this movie is also about the South, and Southern men, and how they relate to one another, without any of those Hollywood bullshit codes of honor. And yet, for all its realism, it takes place in a world of heightened images and language.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
dir. by Andrew Dominik, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Book: Zeroville

by Steve Erickson (2007).

I broke my book-buying ban for the new Erickson novel, because he is truly one of my favorites. This book was good, definitely worth buying, but not quite as powerful and relevatory as The Sea Came in at Midnight. Erickson deals with a lot of the same set pieces here: LA, punk music and the punk scene in NYC, the historical era of the 70s and 80s. But the plot is a little confusing, possibly because it tricks you into thinking it's realistic when it's actually surrealistic.

Still, this was an immensely enjoyable read, and I'll keep following Erickson's work.

Theatre: The Wolves in the Walls

based on the children's book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean.

The trip up to New York to see this play was my birthday present from my mom, and it was totally and completely worth it. What a terrific production. The songs were fun, the technical aspects were amazing (Dave McKean's drawings done in light on the walls), and the puppets were so much fun to watch. There were even a few truly scary moments. And Pig Puppet was the cutest thing ever. I just can't say enough good things about this show.

TPB: New Avengers vol. 1

Breakout by Brian Michael Bendis et al (2005).

Read this quickly at a bookstore on a rainy night in NYC. It was really good, but I need to reread and take some time with it. I also need to start with Avengers Disassembled. Still, Bendis' New Avengers are becoming my favorite superhero team in comics. Well, second to the Runaways.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Comics: Thunderbolts

Faith in Monsters story arc by Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato (2007).

Hmmm, what a weird book. Not weird in a bad way, just... Well, we're following a team of supervillians, organized to capture unregistered superheroes. Right off the bat, I'm not sympathetic to our protagonists. I mean, I don't think we're supposed to be, necessarily--though Ellis does a good job of giving them some human moments. It just feels so strange to get the story from this perspective.

TPB: Watchmen

by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1985).

Dense and sad and amazingly good. Yes, this is a classic for a reason. I love the repetition of imagery, the juxtaposition of various conversations/storylines, the bits of prose writing that follow each issue.

I wish there were books like this being put out monthly right now.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Book: If on a winter's night a traveler

by Italo Calvino (1979).

I adore Calvino, ever since I read Invisible Cities in a writing class at Pratt.

This book is wonderful metafiction, writing about reading, ten unfinished novels, and the story of the Reader and the Other Reader, whose lives intersect as they keep chasing down books which have no endings. Calvino is a master--each novel is written in a different style, flawlessly, and at the same time, intertwined with larger hints and reflections of the big picture he's painting. I'll bet it's a favorite among grad students, one of those novels you could analyze and chart endlessly. For my part, I'm happy to note the stylistic sophistications as they pass underneath my eyes, and just keep reading.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

On the To Be Read list

Another entry on my totally unwieldy To Be Read list:

The published but unanthologized stories of J. D. Salinger. Particularly "The Inverted Forest."

(No, I have never read Catcher in the Rye, but I only just remembered that in my very first college class ever taken, I read "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" and loved it. So there.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Obsession of the day: Featherproof Books' mini-books, downloadable pdfs that you can print, fold, bind, and read. Completely addictive.

TPB: Fray

by Joss Whedon et al (2003).

How I missed this when it first came out, I have no idea. I love pretty much everything this comic has to do with, so it's a no-brainer that I loved it. I do think it's particularly interesting to read this story after seeing the end of season 7, and the beginning of season 8 in comics. I really wonder if Joss will actually connect the stories told between 2004(ish) and Fray's time, hundreds of years in the future. (In my head, there's a gap that can be bridged between Fray and Firefly, also, but I'll keep that rabid fangirl ranting to a minimum.)

Anyway, comics are awesome because you can do so much cool stuff that you can't with live actors, and comics are less awesome because I read really fast, and they tend to feel rushed. But that's okay. This comic was still totally cool.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

TPB: Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways

by Zeb Wells et al (2007).

Finally, the crossover I've been working to get to. It didn't disappoint. The whole Civil war thing is endlessly interesting to me, dealing as it does with civil liberties and taking a stand against the government. Every character and team has a different take on the issue, all stemming from their personal experiences and desires.

So the Young Avengers get all riled up when the see violence being aimed at the Runaways, a group of kids their same age. They disobey Captain America's orders and head out to LA to help. But the Runaways don't know who can be trusted--and they certainly don't want to get involved in the war of the adults.

Witty banter is exchanged, interactions occur, fights are fought, and it's all pretty awesome. The art looks really good in this book, true to the feel of both series' early issues.

TPB: Young Avengers vol. 2

Family Matters, by Allan Heinberg et al (2006).

Hmm... This one was a little bit less good than the first, but I still enjoyed it. The team is struggling with telling their families, the issues of identity are still being resolved (confusion over codenames), and a few big secrets are working their way out. Certain plot points feel contrived (like the introduction of a new member), and the final conflict is reminiscent of the showdown at the end of the last volume. But still, asses are kicked and fun is had. That's all I really came to this book asking for.

I will say, however, that I hated the art style for most of the Young Avengers Special, which is included here.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Film: Hollywoodland

Really good. Kind of distubring (Superman having sex, etc). And then really fucking sad at the end.

dir. by Allan Coulter, 2006

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Book: White Walls

by Tatyana Tolstaya (2007).

Brilliant, beautiful short stories. Tolstaya transforms normal situations and motivations into the bizarre, the fairytale, the sublime--she's very nearly the Russian Kelly Link. Favorites include: "Okkervil River," "Sleepwalker in a Fog," "Seraphim," "Limpopo," and the masterful "See the Other Side." (Actually I have even more favorites, but I don't have the table of contents in front of me.)

Unfortunately, in a volume with two translators, one is clearly the better at conveying both the feeling and the sense of a story.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Theatre: dark play or stories for boys

Jenny and I went to see this show at Actor's Express because a friend was in it, and because the Express has never let us down. It was quite good, in a way that surprised me. The premise is rather simple, even possibly silly: the twisted danger of the internet and the way this effects boys. But the lead actor carried the show (it's mostly told in monologue), our friend Brent was surprisingly amazing, and the whole setup was almost always interesting to watch.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Book: Lady Chatterley's Lover

by D. H. Lawrence (1928).

I loved the beginning of this book, with those little author asides (grand statements about the nature of women and freedom and all that). The middle bit was good as well, but a little less fun in that way. The British class and rank stuff is all foreign to me, but interesting. The sexy passages are indeed sexy. And, surprisingly, it ends on a hopeful note. I wasn't expecting that.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Taking stock

My birthday just passed, and like at New Year, I find myself taking stock of where I've been and where I'm going.

Twenty-two was far from spectacular, but a whole lot of crap happened. I spent my birthday canoing with the boy I thought I'd marry; he left me before I'd even made it to my half-birthday. I was unemployed, but ended up working for a wonderful small business. I traveled the Southeast a lot. I organized the prop room at USM. I experienced folk art and beer in Louisiana. I drove the Natchez Trace. I hiked Stone Mountain, and stopped at a watermelon park in middle Georgia on Thanksgiving Day. I spent Christmas in rural Arkansas with Mormons (not recommended). I got my heart broken. My best friend moved in with me. I learned of the greatness of Athens, GA, and AthFest, and The Grit. I got a bunch of new traditions, from the pub where the bartenders love us, to a standing Sunday night at the Mountain Stronghold. I got a way better apartment. I started a self-portrait project. I celebrated best friend's birthday on the beach in Flori-bama. I reconnected with my college sweetheart. I made lots and lots of plans.

I'm utterly convinced that twenty-three can only get better. Look out for: more traditions, like mid-week movie nights; hanging the Division Champs banner at the opening Thrashers game; birthday trip to NYC for some Neil Gaiman-related goodness; holiday trip to London and various other European locales; flight-booking for Rome; other long and winding roads; plus good times galore with all these wonderful people.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Book: Magic for Beginners

by Kelly Link (2005).

This one has been on my radar since before it was even published. Then I actually read a Kelly Link story ("The Faery Handbag," in The Faery Reel), and I cried and knew that I had to read more. I read a bunch of other stuff, then finally bought the book earlier this year, started it, put it down, came back and finished it in one night.

These stories are absolutely amazing. Heartbreaking. Simple, spare, intense. Weird. I don't know that I can describe them in more than single word sentences. They pull you along, you can't make sense of them but it doesn't matter--the images and ideas are so beautiful, so resonant, that you never really stop to question.

My favorite was the title story, which deals with a group of friends and their love of an underground TV show called The Library (which is like Buffy on crack), a boy who inherits a phone booth and Vegas wedding chapel, and his father who writes books about giant spiders.


Small Beer Press has made Link's first story collection, Stranger Things Happen, available as a free download.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Book: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

by Susanna Clarke (2004).

A delightful and long (really long) novel about the Restoration of English Magic. It's been described as Tolkien meets Jane Austen, and that's pretty accurate, except Clarke is vastly more interesting than Tolkien. Indeed, few other authors could make 1000-plus pages of story consistently compelling. I didn't want to finish this book and leave this world, in the end.

(I'll just have to reread The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories for my English Magic fix.)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Theatre: Doing Good Things

at 7 Stages.

A German fairy tale of sorts, about two girls in the woods, trying to do good things. It's harder than they imagine. This performance was crazy--very interesting but very dark and, well, German.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Film: 3:10 to Yuma

Even more amazing than the trailer led me to believe. Christian Bale is just as awesome as always; the story has all these interesting nooks and crannies for the thinking mind; Westerns are hot; Ben Foster deserves an Oscar for his performance. And Confederate soldier gear has never looked so sexy.

3:10 to Yuma
dir. by James Mangold, 2007

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Film: The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse

The League is weird, and this movie was weirded because it wasn't like the show very much at all. Tamer, with strange interruptions and divergent storylines. But still made of awesome, if only because of the talent of these actors.

The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse

Friday, August 31, 2007

Film: To Have and Have Not

Apparently this movie has little in common with Hemingway's novel. What it does have is a whole lot of awesome. Bogey plays it somewhat differently than his hard-boiled detective (Spade or Marlowe)--here he's kind, caring, performs emergency surgery with confidence, and smiles a whole lot.

But who wouldn't smile at Lauren Bacall? She's only 19 here, in her first film role ever, but she has all the grace and worldliness of an actress who's been working for years. She tosses off the best lines of the film with a smoldering look, like she knows she destined for stardom and romance.

"You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and -- blow."

To Have and Have Not
dir. by Howard Hawks, 1944

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Film: The Night of the Hunter

A visually iconic film: even if most people couldn't name it, they'd recognize the idea of a man with LOVE and HATE tattooed on his knuckles. Robert Mitchum is that man, here, a traveling preacher who murders widows for money and believes that God tells him to.

This film is in the noir tradition, though instead of presenting the foggy or rain-slicked urban streets of a city, it deals entirely with rural West Virginia and the Ohio River. Shots of various animals are interspersed (rather than shots of city lights and lonely diners)--the whole effect is kind of strange.

The story is strange too. I wonder if the original plot didn't suffer under the strict rules of the Production Code. We're presented with many dualities: love/hate, good/evil, male/female. The children at the center of the film are saved by a woman who raises orphans and teaches them Bible stories, but who unfortunately talks to herself in much the same way the preacher does. This convention, particularly at the very end, lends a creepiness that I don't think was intended.

Still, I'm amazed that in 1955 a movie with such strong themes of female empowerment, female love and protection, and anti-religiosity was made at all. I love those bits, of course--how religion is really just an excuse for people to enact their bullshit personal politics all over you, and how children inevitably get caught in the middle. And how shit like that will kill you, because you really have to be a terrible person to manipulate people based on how fucked-up you are in the head and then have nerve to call that God.

The Night of the Hunter
dir. by Charles Laughton, 1955

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Film: Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

This movie wasn't really about its plot (notice the incredible lack of exposition) but about its characters. Or really, about its actors. Kris Kristofferson and James Coburn show everybody how it's done, and look like they're having the easiest time in the world doing it. Bob Dylan stands and squints a lot, and you love it because he's fucking Bob Dylan. Peckinpah throws in some of his beloved children (creepily hanging around the gallows and various dead bodies, but not really being put in danger the way they were in The Wild Bunch), naked breasts, somber landscapes--the whole thing has this tone to it that's very odd, very solemn, but it works.

And the soundtrack fucking owns. Cause it's Bob Dylan.

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

dir. by Sam Peckinpah, 1973

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Film: Cracker Crazy: Invisible Histories of the Sunshine State

A weird documentary--totally one-sided, I'm sure, but interesting nonetheless. Deals with the hidden, ultra-violent history of Florida. I learned some things I never knew, heard stories about places I've lived, and generally laughed a lot at the archival footage and its eerie (sometimes entirely racist) narration. Worth seeing, for sure.

Cracker Crazy: Invisible Histories of the Sunshine State
dir. by Georg Kozulinski
presented by the Atlanta Underground Film Festival

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Some movies I have seen recently

Young Guns II was really strange. Oddly paced and not as fun as the first, but still pretty cool.

Me and You and Everyone We Know was cute and way weirder than I expected.

Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus was the most amazing thing I've seen in a long time. Top five, for sure. I can't even really write about it, since it felt so close to me.

Stranger than Fiction was much, much better than I thought it would be. Maggie Gyllenhaal is my dream girl.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Film: Dead and Breakfast

How did I not hear about this movie sooner? It has a million and one things I love: Bianca Lawson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Texas, country songs, zombies, Buddhists, Jeremy Sisto, line dancing, badass chicks, lots of cussing in Southern accents. On and on and on.

Totally hilarious, totally worth seeing unedited. And I want the soundtrack.

Dead and Breakfast
dir. by Matthew Leutwyler, 2004

Monday, August 13, 2007

Film: Stardust

The second Neil Gaiman novel I ever read finally becomes a movie--and does the book justice in a big way. Things have changed, it's true, but I really think all the changes were for the better (well, except for that perplexing opening scene with the scientists).

The humor is subtle, the landscapes are gorgeous, the fantasy is imaginative. The cast is splendid, especially Charlie Cox as Tristran. That boy needs to be a star. I really don't think I could heap enough praise on the film.

This was absolutely the most fun I've had at a movie in a long, long time. Possibly ever.

dir. by Matthew Vaughan, 2007

Film: Young Guns

"Regulators. We regulate any stealing off this property. And we're damn good too. But you can't be any geek off the street. Gotta be handy with the steel if you know what I mean, earn your keep."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Book: The Historian

by Elizabeth Kostova (2005).

Bargain bin buy so I'd have a beach read when I went on vacation. Turns out I loved this book. I'm a big geek for historical research, monasteries, and really old books, so it's no wonder, really. This book reminded me of A.S. Byatt's Possession, and that's a big compliment. The story drags a bit in the middle, but picks back up again pretty quickly. The end in awesome, in that it subverts what you think the climax will be, and turns everything from a monster-hunting story into a family drama about people who are really lovely and worth being invested in.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Travel dreams: Villa Lante

Giardini #1
Originally uploaded by Roby Ferrari
I am now officially saving up to travel to Rome, Viterbo, and Bagnaia. My goal is to have enough money to go by September of next year.

I have wanted to see the Villa Lante, in Bagnaia, since I was 17. Time to make it happen.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Virtual monastery tours

I just found this absolutely fascinating page of virtual tours of monasteries, by a professor at Georgia College.

The Atlanta Water Gardens

Visiting the Atlanta Water Gardens is one of those extreme pleasures that soothes me for the rest of the day. I think it is entirely possibly that all my favorite places in the world relate directly to water.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Graphic novel: Young Avengers vol. 1

Sidekicks, by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung (2006).

I picked this book up solely because I wanted to catch myself up on the Young Avengers storyline, so I could read the Civil War Young Avengers/Runaways crossover.

And now, I kind of have a thing for teenage superheroes. This is no Runaways, by any means, but it's pretty enjoyable. Witty dialogue, awesomely huge fight scenes, appearances by Iron Man and Captain America, subtle but unmistakable references to a couple of the characters being gay--all of these things are positives as far as I'm concerned. The art in this book is fantastic as well. Wiccan is really hot.

I'm such a fangirl.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Book: Firebirds Rising

edited by Sharyn November (2006).

Not a terrific anthology, but it had a few moments. The Kelly Link story, "The Wizards of Perfil," was probably my favorite. "I'll Give You My Word" by Diana Wynne Jones and "In the House of the Seven Librarians" by Ellen Klages were my other favorites. Some of the stories I skipped outright. The Francesca Lia Block story was nothing special. "The House on the Planet" by Tanith Lee surprised me, in a good way. Emma Bull's "What Used to be Good Still Is" not only has a really cool title, but it got me excited for her new novel, Territory.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Film: 300

I love the story of the Battle of Thermopylae, and this movie does it big, stylized, and beautiful. I loved it. I loved that it was epic and still under 2 hours. I loved that Azazeal from Hex was in it. I loved that David Wenham not only has a wicked hot voice, but he also looks like he could be Nathan Fillion's older brother. And I loved the oracle scene the most, as if you had to guess.

dir. by Zack Snyder, 2007

Monday, July 30, 2007

Film: Sunshine

Danny Boyle never makes the same film twice. Not even the same genre. Not even the same universe. That's part of the reason I love his movies so much.

This one started off a bit too scifi for me--I get a little bored with pretty shots of spaceships and stars. But it was visually interesting enough (read: it had Cillian Murphy) to keep me involved until things started going nuts.

After that scary, this-is-where-everything-changes point, it was so intense I pulled me hoodie up over my head and nearly hid from the screen. Hands to mouth, gasping, jumping, loving every second of it.

dir. by Danny Boyle, 2007

Book: The Spiderwick Chronicles vol. 1: The Field Guide

by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi (2003).

Super-fast but fun little read. The illustrations really made this book for me--reminded me of old Nancy Drew volumes (where the pictures have a quote from the text and then you read the chapter, wondering when you'll get to that sentence).

I wonder how many of the five books the movie will cover. The first book could be done very quickly onscreen, but who knows how it'll actually play out. Anyway, I'm excited to read more.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Film: Angel-A

Luc Besson is one of my faves. And Rie Rassmussen is an absolute goddess. How could I not love this movie?

Well. I was almost bothered by the Rohmer-style hyper-talkative bent of the film. I think things like that are easier to deal with when you aren't reading subtitles, when you can look into the actors' faces and hear their inflections (Before Sunrise, for instance, was all talk but I loved it).

But by the end of the movie, as I realized what it was really about, I felt completely swept away by it. I owe it to Jacob from TWoP that I have the words and phrases to think about this movie: the ramp up to God, which is terrible, but not so terrible that you wouldn't fight like hell to avoid the ramp back down.

dir. by Luc Besson, 2005

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Film: The Illusionist

One of the more beautiful pieces of cinema I've seen recently. The pace was a little bit slow, but the visuals were such a delight, I couldn't even begin to be bored.

I enjoyed the blurred line between "magic" and "illusion," which was primarily the function of the gorgeous camera work. Eisenheim's tricks really do seem to be impossible, because the film effects allow them to be seamless.

I really want to read the short story this was based on, to see how this effect is achieved with words.

The Illusionist
dir. by Neil Burger, 2006

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Graphic Novel: Runaways vol. 3

by Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona, et al (2007).

And thus ends the creators' run on one of the best comics I've ever read. Seriously, Runaways just keeps getting more and more awesome as the issues tick by. The kids keep growing up, which both sucks and is a lot of fun, at alternating moments.

The dialogue packed the hardest punch in this volume--always funny, witty, and a bit more Joss-y than I remember. Which fits, since Whedon has taken over writing duties for the 6 issues that come directly after this. As Jenny said, "They're easing you into it." There are a lot of parallels between the structure and specifics of this story and your garden-variety Whedon tale: chosen family, teenagers with super powers, the growing-up-is-hell theme, mistrust of adults. I point these out not as a negative, but because they're the kinds of things that make a story resonate with me.

If these next 6 issues are going to be the last (they haven't announced anyone else taking on writing duties afterwards), then I'm hoping for an epic superhero battle on par with Joss Whedon's tv and movie work.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

by J. K. Rowling (2007).

Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl, and they were in many, many stories. They were in love, like really totally in love, but one or the other (or both) were charged with a Quest. And at the conclusion of this Quest, circumstances were such that they just couldn't be together, no matter how much love there had been.

The final book in the Harry Potter series is, thankfully, not that kind of story. It's a big story, and I could say a lot of things here about it. But the only really important thing, for me at this moment, is that it ends with love, with friendship and hope and life going on.

Of course, as another Hero once said, "The hardest thing about this world is having to live in it."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Book: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

by J.K. Rowling (2005).

I come really late to the Harry Potter fandom, mostly due to the fact that the books and movies became wildly popular while I was in college, and I didn't allow myself time to get hooked. But between the new movie, the last book of the series, and all my friends who adore HP, I wanted to jump on the bandwagon, for once, so as not to miss out.

12:01 am Saturday morning saw the release of the 7th book, but I had to read the 6th (the only story I knew nothing about), while waiting for Jenny to finish with her copy of the 7th. I plowed through book 6's 650-odd pages in less than a day.

I had been spoiled on one major thing back in 2005, but it didn't ruin any of my enjoyment--and that's a testament to how good these books are. Also compulsively readable, which I had forgotten in the 6 or so years since I read 1 through 3.

The story of the Half-Blood Prince works, in some ways, like part one of a two-part tv episode. Thinking back on it, there's not a huge amount of separate plot (as opposed to the first book, for instance). But it didn't read like that at the time. I guess it is also the story of the old guard imparting vital knowledge to the younger set, then stepping back and leaving them to the do the real work on their own. It's also about deception, double-crossing, and how maybe everyone is just as terrible as you had hoped they weren't (and I mean that all across the board, from Malfoy to Snape to Hermione and Ron)--much in the same way the story of book 5 is about how everyone is an orphan.

I said in my entry about the 5th movie that it had to be the loneliest sustained place in the plot; that prediction definitely bore out here. Everyone gets to have someone, even if they don't know it yet, even if they have to end it before taking the next step on the journey. Thank goodness for Rowling and her believable 16-year-olds. Thank goodness, also, for the quiet maturity and determination of Harry himself. I think he's earned that hero title a million times more than Frodo ever did.

And now I'm resuming my complete media lockdown, so I can finish book 7 without being spoiled.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Book: The Ruby in the Smoke

by Philip Pullman (1985).

Quick-reading Victorian mystery story from the author of my favorite series of fantasy books ever. This book in no way held up to the amazing-ness of His Dark Materials, but it was thoroughly enjoyable in its own right.

Sally Lockhart is a Victorian heroine after my own heart: smart, tough, capable, afraid but almost never paralyzed by her fear. She gets thrown into the middle of a double mystery, and rather than turn away from it, she plunges herself in with determination. A little bit of a Victorian-era Veronica Mars, you might say.

(This quality comes up in a lot of my favorite stories, and the best response, I think, is always to dive in straightaway. Your life is probably going to get fucked up anyway, if that mystery is knocking on your door, so there's no point in playing ostrich and thinking you'll stay safe. Just turn around and face it head on, and you save yourself the time, the crying/denying/hiding/etc. Plus your dignity.)

And now I get to watch the BBC filmed version of the story, starring Billie Piper, my all-time favorite companion.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Graphic Novel: Serenity: Those Left Behind

by Joss Whedon et al (2006).

Reread because the first time around, last summer, I hadn't seen the series in too long, and missed out on a bunch of the things that give impact to the story.

Much better this time around, since I actually know what's going on. The story is good, but very short. I guess it was just meant to be a little piece of filler, fitting between the show and the movie. The art is amazing. Well, the action doesn't always come across perfectly. But let's be honest--I'd rather see live action than read a comic, but I'd rather read a comic than not have more of the Firefly/Serenity 'verse at all.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Book: A Natural History of the Senses

by Diane Ackerman (1994).

One of my new favorite works of non-fiction. Ackerman plumbs the depth and expands the breadth of each of our five senses. She uses poetry, science, art, analysis, and many wonderful anecdotes to tease out truths (as opposed to mere facts) about human sense and sensation.

She clearly embraces her own senses, and emerges in the book as lovingly devoted to creating and capturing moments of sensual delight. When she writes about seeing, or smelling, or tasting, something particularly wonderful, she enhances the reader's own sense of sensing.

This book left me feeling very inspired, and that's something I both appreciate, and desperately want more of.

Film: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Remember how I said the movies take a dark turn at the end of Goblet of Fire? I loved it, and I thought it was the perfect move for the story. This film continues that darkness, carries it all the way through, and broke my heart with it. I'm intensely impressed.

I thought (having only recently caught up with the story) it was possible that the story remained in the arena of entertainment, light and fun for the majority, not daring to jump into the dark places of real storytelling. I was totally wrong. And I love that.

This movie was slower, less thrilling, more depressing than its predecessors. But everything was so intensely felt, the experience was completely satisfying. It felt like a slow burn. It felt like the middle of something epic. It was also sophisticated, looking both to the outside world and to personal mythologies. The consolidated authority held power over all of our outcast heroes. It treated them unfairly. But so did the world. Everyone in this movie was an orphan. But they've learned to work together, and there's nowhere to go but up. (Which doesn't mean it isn't going to suck, and be really hard to deal with, and kill people and make you cry. It is. But I think this was the loneliest sustained point of the story.)

I don't know what happens next, so I don't know if the story will deliver on all its promises. But I'm holding out hope that it will.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
dir. by David Yates, 2007

Monday, July 09, 2007

Book: Strapless

John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X by Deborah Davis (2003).

Madame X is one of my favorite paintings, but until I heard about this book a few years ago, I never knew there was the story of a scandal behind it.

Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau, called Amélie by her friends, originally appeared in the portrait with one strap of her luscious black dress hanging off her shoulder. When exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1884, it shocked and offended the fickle French. Both painter and model were disparaged in major news sources.

Davis tells the story of Amélie and Sargent, the history of the painting, and what happened at the end of it all. She evokes late 19th century Paris with style and grace, making the book a compelling read. And yet, little actually happened. No lives were ruined, only hampered briefly.

Still, it's refreshing to read this story, which was lost to history until rather recently. Sargent repainted the strap to sit demurely on her shoulder, and only a photograph and an engraving of the painting as originally displayed survive today. Davis does well to leave out any feminist implications, instead letting her work of uncovering Amélie's history speak for itself.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Film: Bright Young Things

Like the history of the English frame of mind from 1931 - 1945ish. Which means it was fun, and then awful, and totally inexplicable. I don't know that I enjoyed all the plot twists toward the end. But I did enjoy David Tennant, and to be honest, that's the only real reason I watched it.

Bright Young Things
dir. by Stephen Fry, 2003

Film: Tranformers

Michael Bay: "My helicopters. Let me show you them."

No really, I enjoyed the movie immensely. I cared about the Autobots, I liked the humans, I got the story, and the action was awesome. Perfect summer entertainment.

And now I'm going to pretend that my car can transform into an ass-kicking robot.

dir. by Michael Bay, 2007

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Film: The Great Harry Potter (Re)Watch

All four movies in just a few days. I had only previously seen the first two, and read the first three books. Still like the first two films, but my goodness am I glad they started getting new directors.

Alfonso Cuaron is, of course, a genius in my book and has turned in the best complete package so far. The kids are all super-attractive, messy like real people, fun and funny like the kids you actually want to hang out with, and the colors are gorgeous.

The fourth film was a spectacle, all about the giant tableau (Quidditch World Cup) and Ralph Fiennes. These things are perfectly alright with me. Ron and the twins just keep getting cuter. But then there is that terribly sad ending, and it becomes so awfully real. Real hurt. The only turn things should have taken.

Mainly I am excited for the fifth movie--I don't know what happens, and I like that. I am up for being surprised.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Film: Casanova

I doubt that there could be more things I love in one place than there are in this Masterpiece Theatre miniseries. Peter O'Toole, David Tennant, Russel T Davies, period costumes, period dance, lots of sex, blasphemy, literature, doomed love, all the capitals of Europe.

But more than just my personal button-pushing geeky things, the story tracked emotionally. I was engaged the whole way through. I cried really hard at the end.

After seeing this, Casanova takes a place next to Cyrano de Bergerac as one of my favorite famous lovers.

(Masterpiece Theatre miniseries)
dir. by Sheree Folkson, 2005

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Film: The Producers

Like we didn't know I'd love this.

Plus: John Barrowman as a blonde!

The Producers
dir. by Susan Stroman, 2005

Monday, July 02, 2007

Louvre Atlanta, second visit

Splendid and beautiful, and so very comforting. I stood for a long time in front of The Arcadian Shepherds.

And I got to visit with Mme de Pompadour, who really is like an old friend to me now.

On the Annie Leibowitz exhibition at the High

I wish I could find a copy of the Cash family portrait on display. Johnny, his grandson, Roseanne, and June, all on the porch together, in maybe 2001. I wish I could find a copy of it so I could always remember how it looks. But what I will remember is how I stood in front of it, in a gallery teeming with people, and was still, and cried.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Theatre: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

Thursday preview night at GA Shakespeare means Jenny and I get in the door without needing tickets. I didn't know anything about Pericles prior to sitting down to this.

What a weird show. Interesting story, but almost completely lacking in dramatic tension. Pericles is good from the start (in a fairy tale way--he's generous), and then bad things happen to him, and then all is restored. Hero's quest without any real work done on his part. Without any work ever needing to be done. His daughter saves herself (and this is interesting, but wasn't incredibly well-acted in this production). His wife serves the Goddess after she is brought back from death, and when Pericles honors the Goddess as he is told, she is returned to him.

I can understand why this one isn't wildly popular. In a way, ambiguity makes a story. Will he or won't he--the entire question behind Hamlet, behind Macbeth, behind Othello.

Still, the production had some really solid elements, the set being chief among them. Neat tricks: the storm at sea done with fabric, the hand-held light symbolizing resurrection, the pieces added to change settings. Very very pretty to look at. Worth seeing for that stuff, but I'm glad I didn't pay.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pilot: Moonlight

CBS's new show only caught my eye because of Sophia Myles (the astonishingly beautiful and badass Madame de Pompadour in Doctor Who's "Girl in the Fireplace"). She's replacing the female lead, so while I didn't get to watch her in the pilot, I'm definitely anticipating some greatness. Or at least hotness.

Moonlight seems to pretty much be a straight up ripoff of Forever Knight, except with a PI-vampire-with-a-heart instead of a cop. Leaving aside any comparisons (and really, don't you have to when dealing with vampire stories?), there are a lot of elements here that push my geek-girl buttons: private investigation, noir, vampires with super strength, forbidden love, etc. Plus David Greenwalt is executive producing, which basically solidifies how this show will be Veronica Mars meets Buffy, but with a male hottie for the lead.

The pilot was really promising, even without Sophia Myles extreme gorgeousness. The story tracked, had lots of interesting background drama, and was sufficiently silly (in just the right moments) that I didn't have to take it all that seriously.

I'm definitely going to give this show a try when it debuts in September.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Film: Love Me If You Dare

I saw this movie at Lefont Garden Hills way back, loved it, and then somehow forgot all about it. I was reminded for no reason whatsoever, bought it, and rewatched it.

The arc is a bit uneven, but the story and visuals are so great, I'm willing to let all that nitpicking go. Emotionally, it all still tracks. It's beautiful and heartbreaking and joyous, all at the same time.

Love Me If You Dare
(Jeux d'Enfants)
dir. by Yann Samuell, 2003

Monday, June 25, 2007

AthFest: the rest

Whew. Terrible hotness (of the weather variety, not the other one) made the rest of the weekend a bit hard to deal with. Saturday, Jenny and I checked out the artist market (I bought a purse), watched the petting zoo camel for a while, saw David Dondero play, saw but did not enjoy The Whigs, drank beer at a diner, and then headed back to the 40 Watt to try to catch some bands.

We did see Mouser, which is a band made of up a drummer, a guitarist/singer, and like 10 people who play horns. Some of it was really good, and some of it was really tedious.

We Versus the Shark was up next, and despite all the good I'd heard about them, they just couldn't keep my attention. We called it an early night and slept like babies. Babies with heat exhaustion.

Sunday we missed everything, on account of needing to meet Kristy for lunch. We did get to explore UGA's campus a bit, so it wasn't a total bust.

Overall, I'd say AthFest was a total success, considering how miserably hot it was out. I'm already planning on going back next year.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

AthFest: Friday night

Jenny and I left after rush hour, sweat through the entire air conditioner-less drive, dropped our stuff at Kristy's, and then walked downtown. The streets were full of people, the vibe was pretty exciting, and the music was good (but I have no clue who was playing the outdoor stages). We picked up our wristbands, grabbed dinner at The Grit, and then walked back to the 40 Watt for our first show of the weekend, Madeline.

I discovered Madeline through a music blog, I think, but I can't really remember. All I know is I love her, and she was the one show I absolutely had to see. We missed the first few minutes, but the rest of the set was amazing. She's pretty small, and her stuff is not loud by any means, but she commanded the crowd's attention. It was really easy to listen and get lost in her music.

After that, we headed over to Little Kings to see Venice is Sinking. Unfortunately, the patio was packed, so they weren't letting anyone in. We ended up watching the show from the grass strip between the sidewalk and the street, behind the band. Music sounded great, but the vocals were muffled to hell. We cut out about ten minutes into the show, deciding we were too tired to handle anymore. I'm sad we missed Modern Skirts, but I imagine I could see them whenever.

AthFest Friday night
At the end of the night.

High hopes for being less tired today--we've got David Dondero this afternoon, The Whigs tonight, and maybe even some drinking with friends.

Friday, June 22, 2007



Monday, June 18, 2007

Pilot: Bionic Woman

Eh. This was an unfinished cut--meaning it'll be better when it airs, but I don't know if it'll be enough. Bad hairstyles, unclear plotlines, cheesy B-movie feeling all around. I'm not terribly impressed.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Book: 13 Little Blue Envelopes

by Maureen Johnson (2005).

Really terrific concept. Writing is awkward at first, but gets into a good flow after about 20 pages. All the scavenger hunt-ish stuff is awesomely fun.

And I totally blame Maureen Johnson for my current travel cravings.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Pilot: Reaper

It's pilot season around our house, thanks to my landlord's friend out in LA. Luckily, I started out with one I liked--the CW's Reaper, about a boy whose parents sold his soul to the devil, and what happens when the devil comes to work out the arrangements. I had half a mind to boycott the CW, thanks to their ungracious cancellation of Veronica Mars. But now we know that might come back in comic book form, and besides, this new show seems like it could be pretty good.

Silly, but good, as one might expect from pilot director Kevin Smith. The plot is funny, the characters are funny, the dialogue is occasionally funny (mostly when the devil is talking), and that Tyler Labine kid is funny but could probably stand to lose the Jack Black-ish-ness and replace it with something more his own.

And the devil loves hockey, which is like the easiest way to bait my fangirl side.

I'll definitely try this series out in the fall.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Theatre: The Servant of Two Masters

by Carlo Goldoni, directed by Dan McCleary.

Last night was the final dress rehearsal, and a bunch of us were asked to come so the actors could have an audience, see when/where people laughed, etc. The premise of this play is a little convoluted-sounding, so I was worried that, when it officially opens, the patrons aren't going to get it.

I pretty much forgot all about the logistics by the time the actors started doing their thing. This play is funny. Like, pee-in-your-pants funny. There's a ton of improv, topical humor, penis jokes (and indecent-looking pants), physical comedy, running gags, and other hilarious stuff. Oh, and a splash zone.

Definitely the best comedy I've seen in a while.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Film: Paris, Je T'Aime

I really like the idea of linking film shorts together--kind of like a movie mixtape. It reminds me of Coffee and Cigarettes by Jim Jarmusch, only I'm sure he's not the first one to have had the idea.

I didn't recognize the names of many of the directors included here, but I enjoyed each segment. There wasn't a dud in the bunch. I did, of course, have a favorite: the short early in the film featuring the French boy and Muslim girl. But I loved all the others almost just as much. And at the end, when some of the stories link up, I actually let out a few audible "aw" sounds in the theatre.

Paris, Je T'Aime
various directors, 2007

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Film: The Science of Sleep

Nobody told me this film was mostly in French. Jeez.

Kidding. I liked it, though not as much as I liked Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind--mostly because the plot here confused me. Still, it was definitely neat, and fun, and sad, and Gael Garcia Bernal is both hot and a great actor.

The Science of Sleep
dir. by Michel Gondry, 2006

The streets of Athens ran foamy with beer

Jenny and me
Drunk girls.

Okay, not so much beer for me this past weekend, but don't be fooled--it was indeed a crazy drinking-fest in honor of Kristy's birthday. Also a crazy-good-food-fest; The Grit is my new favorite, like to the extent that I would seriously consider the 2+ hour round trip just to eat their breakfast burrito. Or, you know, moving to Athens.

Anyway, photo highlights are at my Flickr page.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Graphic Novel: Y: The Last Man, vol. 7

by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, et al. (2006)

Less page-turner story than the last volume, but great nonetheless. Some things are starting to come together, which is awesome, but I think I need to go back and reread the first few volumes.

The last issue collected here, "1,000 Typewriters," was my favorite--I'm a sucker for cute animals in comic books.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Book: BitchFest

ed. by Lisa Jervis & Andi Zeisler, 2006.

300-plus pages of inspiration, critique, hope, and, of course, some bitching. I accidentally lost my back issues of Bitch, which I started reading in college, but thanks to this anthology, I can reread some of the best pieces any time I want. I can also dip into the list of resources at the end of the book for further feminist-y goodness.

Special favorite story status goes to "Full Frontal Offense: Bringing Abortion Rights to the Ts" by my college advisor and favorite professor, Dr. Rebecca Hyman.

Film: Slither

Gross out! This movie was totally disgusting and really funny. I could pretty much watch Nathan Fillion all day long. Plus it was full of trashy people cussing in Southern accents.

Me: "Where do you think this movie is set?"
Jenny: "West fucking Virginia."

dir. by James Gunn, 2006

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Happy 100th Post!

In honor of reaching triple digits, this post is devoted to a few of the Heroines and Female Role Models in my personal pop culture lexicon.

The entire Bitch Magazine crew: I never feel smarter or more inspired than I do after reading an issue of Bitch.

Neko Case: Her voice is enough to buoy me up when I'm feeling small or weak.

Martha Gellhorn: Fearless.

Veronica Mars: I have this love letter in my head to Veronica, which might appear here someday soon. She's the barometer against which I measure most decisions.

Rose Tyler: She breaks my heart every time. A world-saver.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Film: Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End

This was definitely the weirdest movie I've seen in the past six months (and I think that's saying a lot considering the things I'm likely to watch). But it was also huge and fun and hot, with sexy thigh-kissing and dirty pirate sweet-talking. And hottie Naomie Harris on top of all that. Not a bad way to kick off the summer movie season, I'd say. And way, way better than the previous Pirates movie.

Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End
dir. by Gore Verbinski, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

On Heroes

The city is smothered in smoke today, and even inside my eyes are watering. Perfect time, I think, to write a little bit about this season of Heroes, which ended last night.

I saw a version of the pilot months in advance--it generated enough buzz around our house to turn heads. I waited, in anticipation, for the season to start, hoping against hope that what seemed like a fairly complicated show, with a definite geek bias, could survive on network TV.

The premiere aired on NBC differed slightly from the pilot, mostly dropping difficult or unwieldy plot threads (Isaac cutting off his hand), and it was for the best. Even so, the story was slow to start--hanging on in those first few weeks was a bit difficult, but the premise pretty much guaranteed that things would kick into gear eventualy.

And when it did, boy, was it crazy. No other show made us shriek with excitment in quite the same way. Frequently, the only thing to be said at the end of an episode was, "WTF?!?" (Hiro and the dinosaur painting, remember?) Heroes plowed through enough plot to keep most writers churning out scripts for seasons. The show tossed about a thousand balls in the air, and out of that thousand, managed to only drop one or two (Hana "Wireless" Gitelman). The plotlines were all distinct, easy to remember from one week to the next, and the insane numbers of characters never got confusing. How do you have a show with 20 main characters and not confuse the average TV viewer? It's a feat, to be sure.

Maybe in retrospect (or in a marathon DVD viewing), the various plot twists and turns won't make as much sense. I know the constant bitching about saving the world and destiny and responsibility have the potential to be redundant and annoying--they were to a certain extent even when watching weekly.

But I can only speak for myself, and I know that the first season of Heroes is going to be forever burned into my brain as one of the TV events of a lifetime. I'll be referencing the show in conversation years from now, I'm sure, the same way we reference the Avengers and old issues of X-Men while watching it now.

That geek bias gives a story deep roots to pull from, and Heroes made the most of it, without doubt.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

From the Pitchfork archives

I just discovered a short but neat Pitchfork column on Cloak & Dagger, my favorite cameo-making superheroes in the Marvel universe.

This totally renews my desire to go to DragonCon as Dagger this year. Anybody got a tap on a cheap source of white spandex?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Today's reading

I feel bad for my library copy of The Thin Place, because I just haven't been able to get into it. This is not the book's fault. Undoubtedly it is the fault of my schedule, which has been bordering on criminally insane in recent weeks.

I'll get to it eventually.

But today I'm too busy sneaking pages of Alan DeNiro while I'm supposed to be working. Thanks to the Litblog Co-Op, I now have a fun-sized version of 5 stories from Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead, plus a few extras.

Plus storySouth has posted their Million Writers Awards Notable Stories of 2006. I'm thinking my best bet would be to print a bunch out and take them with me on vacation this weekend. Because, you know, I do have to do some actual work in this workday.

Comics: Buffy season 8

"The Long Way Home" by Joss Whedon et al (2007).

Read as monthly single issues. Some story stuff in this arc didn't track for me, didn't quite make sense, but I trust and I'm willing to go with it to see where it leads. The rest of it, the stuff that did make sense, I loved.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

From the OA archives

I just got my copy of Oxford American's 2007 Southern Movie Issue in the mail, and I am in love already. Super-smart film writing, an entire article devoted to Dick Powell, a DVD mixtape, plus tons and tons of movies mentioned that I've never seen.

And speaking of, they've posted an article they ran in the first Southern Movie Issue they did, back in 2002, listing
13 Essential Southern Documentaries.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A (small) compendium of beautiful things

Davis, Kathryn. The Thin Place. "The world was strange from day one. Let there be light, God said, and there was light. There is probably nothing more beautiful and implausible than the world, nothing that makes less sense, the gray bud of the willow, silky and soft, the silk-white throat of the cobra, the wish of nature or humans to subsume all living matter in fire and flood. I will hurt you, hurt you, hurt you, says the world, and then a meadow arches its back and golden pollen sprays forth."

Landakotskirkja, Reykjavik. Catholic cathedral.

Pedalturista. London to Paris by bike.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Book: The End of Mr. Y

by Scarlett Thomas (2006).

Intense mystery story with lots of really good bits, lots of awkwardly written bits, and enough Heidegger to make me want to recommend it to all my friends with philosophy degrees. The end more than made up for any sagging in the middle.


Bookslut has a review of the book, and an interview with mild spoilers.

Friday, April 27, 2007

In case you wondered

Yes, my life currently is a song by The Hold Steady. Nights at the bar now involve nicknames and practical jokes about STDs, twin sister strippers who make out with each other and everyone else, beers poured without asking, boys who fawn over my tattoos, and still no one I'd want to wake up to in the morning finally a boy who calls when he says he will.

He likes the warm feeling but he's tired of all the dehydration.
Most nights were crystal clear but tonite it's like we're stuck between stations

--The Hold Steady

Book: Blue Noon

Midnighters vol. 3--by Scott Westerfeld (2006).

Sometimes I get stuck in a comic book rut. You know, when you read too many comic books all in a row, and then your brain can only think in those picture panels and snippets of dialogue. Happens to me all the time.

I usually start to ache for a novel pretty badly, once I've run through my comic book supply. The problem is, most novels are too long, too stodgy-sounding, too dull for my brain at this point. It also doesn't help if I've been gorging on good tv...

Enter the Midnighters series. These books always come to my rescue in moments like this. I wandered around the library aimlessly a few days ago, until I spotted book number three of this trilogy, and knew it would be perfect for digging my way out of the comic book rut.

This book was just as amazing as the rest of the series, plus bonus points for the ending. These characters absolutely live inside me now. I wish there were more books on the way. I don't want this world to end.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Graphic Novel: Runaways Vol. 2

by Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona, et al. (2006)

Would you be surprised if I said I breezed through this volume in one morning? I was never a tights and cape kind of girl, but now I'm finding myself strangely addicted to superhero fights and battle cries ("Try not to die"). And this volume left me wanting to know what happens next pretty badly.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Graphic Novel: Pride of Baghdad

by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon (2006).

Gorgeous, stunning art. The story is little, I don't know, heavy-handed in its allusions. But it still broke my heart at the end.

Prayers tonight to the hockey gods


Friday, April 13, 2007

Book: New Orleans, Mon Amour

by Andrei Codrescu (2006).

This book collects twenty years of Codrescu's writings on New Orleans, starting in 1985 and taking us all the way up to the present. Only four short pieces focus on the city after Katrina (and they are, I think, the weakest of the bunch).

Codrescu, who contributes every once in a while to NPR, turns a poetic eye on his adopted city, and it suits the myth of NOLA well. Those of us who never saw the city before the big storm will never really know if things were the way he presents them. But it's fun to imagine that they were.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hottie of the Day

As a joke, at the Thrashers' last regular season game against Tampa Bay, I started yelling at the ice, "Shut up, Lacavalier! Don't be such a hottie!" It might be one of those you-had-to-be-there things, but the phrase has become a common refrain now. Frequent targets include: all the boys on Smallville, Sydney Crosby, our favorite bartender at the pub, and absolutely NO ONE playing for the Rangers.

Tonight's the Thrashers first playoff game. Like first ever. I've got great tickets, friends who are being honored (or laughed at) on the Jumbotron, posters to make, and lots of celebrating to do.

And the target of today's "Don't be such a hottie!" refrain? Kari Lehtonen, of course. Word is he had blue hair at yesterday's practice, but it's gone tonight for the game. Wouldn't want to give Sean Avery anything to make fun of our boys about.

Jenny says I'm fully allowed to start a fight with a Rangers fan after the game. I almost got kicked out of the pub last night for talking trash to the owner, who grew up with the Rangers. Apparently the amount of serious that people think I am is directly proportional to the amount of F-words I use. Got to watch out for that in the future.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Book: Tapping the Dream Tree

by Charles de Lint (2003).

This collection was nowhere near as consistent as Dreams Underfoot, the first book of Newford stories that I read (and loved). Still, de Lint hits a lot of notes that resonate with me. I'd already read the last story presented here, "Seven Wild Sisters" (my library had a copy of the version illustrated by Charles Vess); it's a fun romp through Appalachian storytelling. Plus I love any mention of fiddlers. That's probably why my favorite story out of this book was "Ten for the Devil," which also got bonus points for featuring Robert Johnson.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Really? Hockey again?

Yeah. It's just about the only thing I can concentrate on at the moment. Jenny and I watched the Sabres pretty much help themselves to the Eastern conference title last night--but really we were only tuned in for Sydney Crosby. Well, and Jordan Staal.

Actually we were watching with one eye on the other score listings. Last night could have been great for the Thrashers, but unfortunately Tampa Bay beat Carolina. This means Atlanta can't clinch the division title tonight against Washington.

My guess? It's going to be down to the wire for the Southeast division title. I'd love to see us clinch it before Saturday, but really, I'd also like to see us battle it out with Tampa Bay for that third slot in the playoffs. Those are the kinds of games that go down in history. Those are the kinds of games that cause fights on Marta on the way home.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Unleash the f-ing fury

The big news today is that the Thrashers have clinched the playoffs, thanks to Toronto's loss to the Rangers yesterday.

I've already got tickets to one of the first-round games. I couldn't be more excited.

These last three regular season games are going to be a big deal--the division title is still up in the air, with Tampa Bay only three points behind us at the moment.

What a freaking awesome first season to be a fan.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Book: This Is Not Chick Lit

edited by Elizabeth Merrick (2006).

Pretty good on the whole, though I outright skipped some stories in the second half.

"Documents of Passion Love" by Carolyn Ferrell
"Joan, Jeanne, La Pucelle, Maid of Orleans" by Judy Budnitz
"An Open Letter to Doctor X" by Francine Prose
"Selling the General" by Jennifer Egan
"The Epiphany Branch" by Mary Gordon
"The Seventy-two Ounce Steak Challenge" by Dika Lam

Book: Special Topics in Calamity Physics

by Marisha Pessl (2006).

This might go on record as my favorite book read in 2007. I plowed through its 500+ pages in three days, sneaking in time to read during lunch, when I should have been asleep, even while I was at work.

There are few things I love more than a good mystery, with a wise-beyond-her-years girl detective ferreting out clues and piecing together theories (see Veronica Mars, seasons 1 and 2). Add to that copious literary and film references, a sometimes hysterical send-up of academia, and tiny mentions of towns I've been to (or been near), and you have a book I'm practically guaranteed to love.

It's funny to me that I keep finding books with these elements, reading and loving them (see King Dork, Frank Portman; Him Her Him Again The End of Him, Patricia Marx). Is there something in the water right now?

Anyway, I fully recommend this book, and I can't wait to see what Pessl comes out with next.


Number of books I've read from Blue's "Required Reading" list: 8 (out of 36)

Percentage of references I understood: 85 (rough estimate)

Date of Bookslut interview with Marisha Pessl, which contains a few spoilers, so be careful: September 2006

Official book website's coolness points: 10 (out of 10)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Poem of the day

Barbara Hamby's "Ode to My Wasted Youth" (4th one down). The others on the page are good too.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Book: A Curtain of Green and Other Stories

by Eudora Welty (1941).

A truly great collection of short stories by one of my new favorite writers. I'm on this whole Southern lit kick right now, and Miss Eudora is the queen of my world. I honestly can't believe she wasn't taught in any of the writing classes I've taken.

Her stories are intensely Southern in this great tway--a tonal quality that made my whole body slow down while reading them. They're funny and sad, usually at the same time, and obsessed with ruin, despair, the slow rot that happens here in the land of infernal heatwaves. "Why I Live at the P.O." is a classic, of course. Other favorites of mine included "The Petrified Man," "Death of Traveling Salesman" (her first published story), "A Piece of News," and "A Worn Path," along with a bunch of others whose titles I can't remember off the top of my head. Every story in this collection, really.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Hiking at Sweetwater Creek

Record hot day yesterday, and of course I had already decided to go hiking out at Sweetwater Creek. What I thought was a sunburn by the time I got home turned out to be nothing more than a flush from the extreme heat.

But everything about the day and the place was beautiful. The creek is more like a river, with rocky shoals that cause the water to rush and divert into pools and side streams. I assume it's granite under the water--there's a very large vein that runs through Atlanta--but I'm not entirely sure.

The highlight of the hike, of course, was the Civil War era ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company. During the war, this mill was one of the two largest suppliers of textiles to the Confederate forces in the area (the other mill was on Vickery Creek, and its ruins still stand as well). When Union troops marched on Atlanta, they arrested the workers at both mills and imprisoned them, then burned the mills. Of course, since most men of working age were fighting in the war, this meant the women and children were working the mills. The prisoners were taken north, made to pledge allegiance to the United States and promise not to return to the South until the war was over. If they refused, they remained imprisoned for the rest of the war. Amazingly enough, historical sources report that most of the workers made it back to Georgia after the war.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Book: Best of the Oxford American

edited by Marc Smirnoff (2002).

I love OA so much it's unreal. When I was in Arkansas, I visited the campus of UA in Conway, where it's published, and I had to physically restrain myself from storming the offices and professing my love for everyone there. Sometimes I actually wish I lived closer to Arkansas, so I could go to the events they put on and whatnot.

This book did not disappoint. It includes a few selections of the best writing from a broad range of sections: fiction, poetry, music, religion, eats, book views, first person, etc. All of the articles were interesting, even if I had no idea who or what they were about. I especially loved Barry Hannah piece from the religion section, and Rosanne Cash's first person article. Seriously, who knew Rosanne Cash could write so well?

Also completely awesome are the three previously unpublished stories by more famous Southern authors: William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, and Walker Percy.

I think the only piece in the whole book I didn't like, and we all knew I wouldn't no matter what, was the stupid poem by John Updike. I won't even type what it's about. It's disgraceful.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Flowering trees everywhere

Did I mention it's spring in the South? Seriously, I never remembering loving Florida springs like I am loving this one. Today on the way home from lunch, my boss and I identified all the flowering trees that we could. Atlanta is thick with them!

The cherry trees are probably my favorites of the moment, but only because the Bradford pear trees are a few days past the all white stage, heading into the green stage. It happens so fast. I barely had time to get a picture before the leafs started unfurling. The tulip magnolias are also a few days past their spring prime--the flower petals are starting to drop off in earnest--but I love them because blossoms always sit upright, like teacups. The dogwoods have only just started to flower. I'm sure in the next month they'll look even more beautiful as they fill out, while the cherry trees snow all over the place.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The last cold snap

This past week has been the last cold snap we'll likely have before spring begins in earnest. March always teases us in Georgia with a handful of 72 degree days in a row, before dropping back down into what we here consider "cold." From here on out, it should be 75 degrees right up until the day it jumps to 90 with no warning.

Yesterday I couldn't stand to stay inside when the sun was shining so brightly, but the air had too much bite for me to want to walk. So I split the difference and went for a long drive instead. All the way up to Dahlonega, to where the Chestatee River follows the roads, rushing over rocks and looking so tempting. I couldn't help a big grin from breaking out when I saw those first Appalachian mountains rise in the distance. From certain points on the road, they spread out all around, all the way out to my periphery.

And then I turned right around in the Dahlonega town square, stereo turned up, singing my way back down the foothills and into the north edge of the city. Back into my basement apartment, with the back deck I can sit on and read, provided I have on a thick enough sweater, with the dozens of books to read, taxes to do, journal entries to write.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Miss Eudora

Friday, March 16, 2007

Exploring Southern Literary Journals

Like Hattiesburg, Mississippi hasn't surprised me enough, today I discovered that they publish The Mississippi Review, which has some pretty good online content.

Black Warrior Review has less stuff online, but I'm partial to anything artistic coming out of Alabama. I'd like to see if someplace like Borders or the library carries this, so I could sit and read through it.

Also, storySouth has a bunch of stuff posted that I'd like to read.

And, in the most exciting news of the day, I finally treated myself to a subscription of The Oxford American.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

How much do I fucking love Southern girls?

Maria Taylor: Lost Time

Rising Appalachia: Nobody's Fault

Book: Love is a Mix Tape

by Rob Sheffield (2007).

Normally I wouldn't get all excited for hipster navel-gazing. But the elements of this book--love, marriage, and a big-hipped Appalachian rocker girl--sounded good enough to give it a try. And let me tell you, it was worth it.

Rob Sheffield broke my heart with this book. The story of his wild Southern bride, and how she died, got right to the core of me. Of course it helped that Rob is a great writer. And that he and Renee weren't cooler-than-thou rock writers, but rather fun and pop culture-obsessed lovers of country music, indie circa 1991, and top 40 radio. The kind of people I'd love to drink with. The kind of people I thought Jonathon and I would be. See why it broke my heart?

Anyway, now this book has me listening to Pavement, going back through my old mixes, cursing the fact that I know longer own a tape deck, and creating new ones for myself on my iPod. Oh, and dreaming that I can maybe still have this kind of crazy Southern life and love.

Thank you, Mr. Sheffield.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Film: Pan's Labyrinth

I think perhaps I waited to long to see this movie, and learned to much about it beforehand. I loved it, but nothing in it truly surprised me. Of course, it was a fairy tale, so maybe that's part of the point--this story is kind of timeless, kind of the same as all the other stories we know so well. The visuals were beautiful, totally mesmerizing, and then also sometimes so gross I covered my eyes.

I have no doubt that this movie will stay with me for a long time. Still, I enjoyed The Devil's Backbone more.

Pan's Labyrinth
dir. by Guillermo del Toro, 2006

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Book: Prayer: A History

by Carol Zaleski and Philip Zaleski (2006).

One of the most interesting and readable non-fiction books I've tackled in a long time. I don't even know if I can express what about this book was so wonderful to me. I loved the attitude they took in discussing prayer--never sarcastic, always considerate.

I most enjoyed the sections on types of prayers and people who pray, though of course I learned a lot from the whole book, even the sections I was less interested in. I even learned some new prayers, and learned about some new writers, mystics, and saints.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Theatre: Karibu

created and performed by Teatro del Milenio

I don't usually see shows at 7 Stages, because I'm too busy working, or because I've been burned in the past. But Karibu was one of those shows I just couldn't pass up. An Afro-Peruvian piece of dance theatre, comparable to Stomp but performed in Spanish--how do you say no to that?

The first fifteen minutes or so had me worried that I was about to get burned again. But the cheesy, showboating quality of a show-within-a-show put on in a Peruvian restaurant (think Telemundo, really) only served to make the rest of the performance that much more transcendent. The waitstaff/performers became still, stared off into the distance behind the audience, and the real heart of the piece began.

This heart consisted of traditional dancing, something like what I imagine Peruvian ritual dance to have been like, before the Spaniards arrived. The dancers pounded out the rhythm with bamboo poles, whirling dangerously close to the front row. They shook palm fronds, which shed dust and dry leaf bits all over the stage.

Watching all this from the second row, close enough to smell the plant material, to breathe in the dust kicked up, I couldn't help but think about the movements in relation to the book I'm currently reading, Prayer: A History. This dance had a ritual quality to it; but more than than, it served to move me in a way other spectator events have not. The smell, the taste of the dust, the dangerous and messy quality to the whole thing--it all served to reinforce not only the idea of the dance as a demonstration of prayer, but as a very real form of praying going on at that moment. It's hard to write about, and I'm feeling tripped up in my sentences, but I'll lay it out as simply as I can: those dancers were praying for all of us in the audience, and I prayed right there with them.

My concentration was drawn mostly to the principal female dancer, who had the kind of radiant beauty that makes me think of divinity. She shone like the goddesses. And then she left the stage, reemerging in a traditional shaman outfit with a goat (?) mask. I've never seen a shamanistic dance like that in person--it absolutely blew me away. Tears, joy, the whole range of emotions, all with my heart straining towards something bigger, something beyond.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

St. David's Day

Waverly Fitzgerald has a great post over at the Living in Season blog about the daffodil and St. David's Day, which is today.

The mention of daffodils reminded me (as I commented on Waverly's post) of spring on campus. Daffodils bloom all along the hills--I have several memories of walking to and from class, just astounded by how beautiful they make everything look. This is the first spring in four years that I'm not walking to class and getting to revel in that beauty. I miss school sometimes more than I like to admit. I miss having a sense of community firmly rooted in a physical location (and an enchantingly beautiful one at that).

For now, I'm lucky that I can go back and blend in fairly easily, or run into friends and chat. Maybe when it stops raining here, I'll go spend a few peaceful hours in my favorite spots on campus.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Book: Mariana

by Katherine Vaz (2004).

I love you. I love you still. I love you always. I esteem every joy and every sorrow that your love bestows upon me.

Katherine Vaz is a favorite, and her writing never fails to make me cry. The depth of my love for her work is such that I can't even write about why I feel it. She weaves together grand ideas and tiny everyday details, creates ritual out of every movement, and always touches something unnameable inside me.

This was the first novel of hers I've read. Her short stories are so well-crafted they open out like full-length works in my mind. Here, Vaz has much more going on, and for the most part she manages it well. The book lagged a bit in the middle, but picked back up and packed quite a punch at the end.

I also loved the authors note at the end, about Vaz's research and her belief that Mariana herself wrote the famous letters. I had never heard of Mariana Alcoforado before, but if time allows in the future, I would love to learn more about her and monastic life in Portugal.

Spark has an interesting interview with Vaz.

Margin profiles Vaz (including links to excerpts from her writing).

Google Books presents a full copy of The Letters of a Portuguese Nun, translated by Edgar Prestage.

Myriam Cyr has written a non-fiction book arguing that Mariana did indeed write the famous letters.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Book: Transcreation of the Bhagavad Gita

by Ashok Kumar Malhorta (1999).

Read as part of my current inquiries into spirituality. This is the version I read freshman year of college--I really didn't understand it then, but I did take some pretty good notes. It's better now that I read it as scripture, and not as literature as our professor had us do. I appreciate that there are clear directions here, and not all of the vagueness that leads to conflicting interpretation. It would be hard to imagine a fundamentalism springing forth from the Gita. I'm not saying it's impossible, but I do think it would be less likely to occur.

And I'm glad this little paperback is sturdy, as I suspect it's going to get quite the workout in the next few weeks, as I continue to study it using Ram Dass's book Paths to God: Living the Bhagavad Gita.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Graphic Novel: Runaways vol. 3: The Good Die Young

by Brian K. Vaughan et al (2004).

My landlord bought me both fullsize hardback volumes of Runaways, which is the coolest thing ever, because they are not cheap and I never would have gotten them myself.

So I read the last third of the first series, and it was awesome. I always feel like the completion of a story is never as exciting as the beginning of one, so you have to judge them by different standards (unless we're talking about the movie Serenity--it's the only exception to the rule I can think of). That's the case here--the final third wasn't quite as exciting as the opening, but there were some fantastic moments. I am totally in love with Chase, like I want one of my own. I didn't the twist coming, until I did, but even then it was still fun.

Also, the art looks way better on a full page, with room to breathe. I can't wait to break into my other hardback volume.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Book: New Seeds of Contemplation

by Thomas Merton

Didn't get to finish this before I had to return it to the library. But I love Merton. Someday when I have the time, I'll devote myself to reading more of his work.

The Spirit of Things and Speaking of Faith both have terrific podcasts that deal, in part, with Merton.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Book: Him Her Him Again The End of Him

by Patricia Marx (2007).

Read my review over at

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Film: Smokin' Aces

This honestly might go down in history as one of my favorite action movies. I love pulp, I love over-the-top violence, I love irony, I love mohawked rednecks in skinny jeans and wifebeaters. I especially love tenderly and oddly sexy murder scenes between two men.

And yet, the best thing about this movie was how it took all that and blended it together with a whole shitload of other totally weird and random stuff, and then still managed to have moments that were completely fucking heartbreaking. Ryan Reynolds broke my heart. Jeremy Piven broke my heart and grossed me out all at the same time. Alicia Keyes and Common and Taraji P. Henson broke my heart.

Smokin' Aces
dir. by Joe Carnahan, 2007