Monday, January 29, 2007

Today on NPR

Holy crap, this song makes me happy. Why has Canada been hiding Jon-Rae and the River from me for so long?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Film: A Simple Curve

A quiet little film about a father and son in the great big landscape of Canada. Um. It was okay, but I was much more interested in the short film by the same director, Lucky, about the unlikely friendship of a little Zulu boy and an old Indian woman. Also, bonus points for it being a free showing at the library. And extra bonus points for BSG's Colonel Tigh.

A Simple Curve
dir. by Aubrey Nealon, 2005

Book: Buddha

by Karen Armstrong (2001).

A terrific entry in the Penguin Lives series. Armstrong takes a man and spiritual leader whom we know little about, and uses this precious little information as a foundation to both explain his basic teachings and their place within historical context. I learned more about Buddhism from this book than from any other I've read.


Speaking of Faith has a great interview with Karen Armstrong, plus web extras.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Today on NPR

A few lovely discoveries from the archives:

Moments like this are why I want to study world religions. The last line really got me--the kind of recognition that feels like a physical blow.

Radio Expeditions takes listeners to the streets of Vrindavan, a holy Hindu city.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

From tonight's meditation

Om Kali Ma, Namo Namah.

Also, the sensation of hands cupping my head, right at either temple, gently yet firmly.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Book: Eat, Pray, Love

by Elizabeth Gilbert (2006).

I really just have to say thank you to the universe for conspiring to send such comforting books my way recently. And thank you to Elizabeth Gilbert for the four spirit brothers, and Wayan's cure for broken heart, and everything else inspiring about her and her book.

I'm going to go meditate now.

Today on ABC Radio National

Have I mentioned that I am totally in love with Australian public broadcasting? They have an amazing amount of content, and all of it is thought-provoking and just generally awesome.

Today I found the show The Rhythm Divine, which is "a musical journey through the world of belief." I'm listening to the episodes on chanting today while I work.

Also, For The God Who Sings. I'll probably give these a listen tonight at home.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Book: It's Kind of a Funny Story

by Ned Vizzini (2006).

My reactions to this book ranged a great deal as I (quickly) made my way through its almost 450 pages. First my reaction was eh. Then hmm. Then thank you, Ned, for writing this, it is very comforting to know. Then yeah okay. Then yes, yes. Then (big sigh). Then, at the very end, OH.

I very much appreciate the warmth, the humor, and the steady pace of the story once it gets going. It felt to me much like how Craig, the main character, describes being in the pysch hospital. The path is set out and you just keep walking along. No surprise forks or twists (well, except for the tranny). It isn't hard to read this book. And that felt really great.


Largehearted Boy features Ned's edition Book Notes, in which an author creates a soundtrack to his or her book.

Bookslut got him to guestblog while Jessa was on vacation.

Ned himself blogs here.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Film: Children of Men

I don't even have words for what this movie did to me. I let myself go so far into it, that by the last scene I was hugging myself, halfway to a panic attack in the theatre. And the quiet moment (you'll know what I mean) felt so much like grace, or divinity; I found myself wishing that reverance existed in our real lives, as much as I dread the possibility of the situation that created it.

This might have been the most valuable movie I've ever seen. And I'll probably never see it again--it was that visceral and horrible and real to me.


NPR talks to Cuarón about filming the extended scene towards the end of the film. Be aware that this is kind of spoiler-ish.

At Google Video you can watch Alfonso Cuarón, along with Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, on The Charlie Rose Show. I'd recommend watching it after you've seen the film--to cheer yourself up.


Children of Men
dir. by Alfonso Cuarón, 2006

Graphic Novel: Loveless

by Brian Azzarello and Marcelo Frusin (2006).

A dangerously fun and filmic read. This was probably the first time I've read a graphic novel or comic book and really picked up on the visual tricks and transitions. Part of it had to do with confusion--many characters look similar enough to make it difficult to keep track. But I'm glad I had to pay such close attention; the art has a quality I can only describe as badass.

Azzarello throws a bunch of plots into the air and then proceeds to juggle them fairly well. There really is a lot going on here, considering. The present for Wes and Ruth; the past as they remember it, both together and apart; the present for the townspeople, Danny Boyd, the Feds, the newly-freed black people, Atticus. I have no clue where any of it will go, and it's a little frustrating to end a trade with so many loose ends, but I'm on board with Wes and Ruth. I'll come back to the story for the two of them.

I do have a complaint about the writing and art, but I wonder if it's too early in the story for me to make this judgement. All the black characters seem dangerously exaggerated--thick lips, slack mouths, bugged-out eyes--and none of them have come across in a particularly favorable light. I'm not exactly crying racism--and the book is, after all, from the perspective of a white Southerner who fought in the war--but I find it a little unsettling.

Today on NPR

I am so fucking in love with The Dresden Dolls.

Also, Portastatic. Mac McCaughan has my favorite boy singer voice, hands down.

And speaking of voices, Peter O'Toole makes me weak in the knees. I wasn't sure I'd make it out to see Venus in the theatres, and that voice reciting Shakespeare sonnets is tempting--but after hearing the NPR review of the film, I'm at least going to wait until it's out on DVD.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Book: Adverbs

by Daniel Handler (2006).

"Grant me this, this brief murdered moment, and then I will bury it sadly and go on with my game."

I feel incredibly fortunate that in a very delicate post-breakup state, even though I'm reading a book where the word "love" appears on almost every page, it is not the kind of book that induces crying fits. Daniel Handler's novel (novel?) resonates, touches even, but with a distance that makes me feel safe. (I'm imagining now a novel version of The Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs, and am amazed with myself that I don't own the whole thing.)

There's a lovely quality to the interwoven bits of this book, which are not the kind a reader has to catalogue or even pay attention to. The most freeing moment while reading was the moment I realized that I didn't have to try to wring sense out of the recurring images, names, and phrases. I could just let them wash over me. It's comforting.

Comforting also are the story about Handler and his wife, the fight they had in the subway, which ends with the two of them laughing and the fight forgotten; and the chapter "Barely," which is totally my fucking indie pop dream life, pretty but sad, and that much more possible now that I'm boyfriend-less.

Also the book design is beautiful, with jacket art by Daniel Clowes, which is another thing like comfort. Thank you, Daniel Handler, I needed this.


The Bat Segundo Show makes Daniel Handler sound friendly and fun.

On NPR he sounds a little less friendly, but still quite fun, talking about and performing songs from A Tragic Treasury, with Stephin Merritt.

Powell's has an original essay by Handler entitled "What's Love?"


Khepri Comics has a couple exciting things on sale this month:

Channel Zero: Jennie One by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan
Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham and Lan Medina

are both only $4.98 until January 31.

Upcoming Events: 1.18.2007 - 1.24.2007

1.18.2007: Atlanta Thrashers vs. Montreal Canadiens. This is an OU Young Alumni thing. Cheap tickets are great, but I don't really care about seeing fellow alumni. I just want to watch some hockey. (Speaking of, I caught our victory against the L.A. Kings last night on TV. Awesome.)

1.19.2007: Adam's Apples at the High Museum of Art. Part of the High's Danish Film Festival. Skipped this to go see Children of Men.

1.20.2007: Puppet Slam at Dad's Garage. Featuring my friend Beau Brown, and probably a bunch of other totally hot puppeteers.

1.21.2007: Battlestar Galactica returns from hiatus. This means Jacob's recaps return as well, and that's the part that really excites me.

1.22.2007: Heroes returns from hiatus. Hiro hopefully finds that sword. Plus Chris Eccleston! Eventually!

1.23.2007: Veronica Mars returns from hiatus. I'm likely to pee on myself in the excitement. I might not even be able to stand after the 3-day TV trifecta of awesomeness.

1.24.2007: DMZ #15 hits the shelves. I'll probably try to score a copy of Local #7 at the same time, if it still exists. It'll be Brian Wood Day!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Graphic Novel: DMZ Vol. 1: On the Ground

by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli (2006).

I make no attempt to conceal the fact that I am a HUGE Brian Wood fan. He is pretty much the only person making comics today that I feel are worth keeping up with monthly.

Unfortunately, I missed the boat on DMZ when it first started. I've since hopped on board (assuming my landlord doesn't stop picking up new issues for me, as I am the worst at getting to the comic book shop regularly). I know a lot about the series, but all without being spoiled, and so it's a lot of fun to go back and start from the beginning. To really see what's happening the pages.

The story is intensely compelling in all these ways that I geek out about: urban warfare, anarchy, radical communities, living off the grid. But it's also dark in a way that makes all those things more realistic. The kids at CrimethInc should pay attention...

The art is also worth mentioning. Burchielli has a drawing style I really enjoy, and that's rare for me to find in comics. Also, Wood's pages stand out awesomely--he has a very distinct way of interpreting tableaux.

I'm anxious for the next trade to be published, so I'll be caught up to where I'm reading monthly.


Check out preview art on Brian's Flickr page.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Book: The Collected Stories

by Amy Hempel (2006).

I feel privileged to be someone who can say, I've been a fan of Amy Hempel since way back.

By "way back," I of course do not mean way back in 1985 when she published her first book. I mean way back in 2001, when I was a senior in high school taking a short fiction class I'll never forget. We read "In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried." I didn't even know who Al Jolson was. It didn't matter. Amy Hempel made that class memorable.

Reading her, for the first time I had one of those moments, in which I fancied that I had suddenly and completely learned everything I needed to know about writing short fiction. And, because I love to brag, I'm going to say that it kind of worked: the Hempel-ish story I wrote for class was the piece I chose to workshop at our annual writers' festival, when Amy Hempel turned us down and the head of our department secured Bobbie Louise Hawkins instead. She loved my story. She demanded I go to Naropa, where she taught, after graduation. Months later she saw my teacher out in Colorado and mentioned me. "I hope she's doing something meaningful with her life," is what she said.

Well, I am and I'm not. I'm not writing fiction anymore. I'm still reading Hempel, though, and loving every moment of it.

Some favorites in this book: "Tumble Home," which felt like another revelation when I read it the first time, way back when; "Jesus is Waiting;" "Offertory."


Chuck Palahniuk has a great essay on what makes Hempel's writing so damn good.

Wired For Books has audio of Hempel reading two stories at Ohio University.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ian McEwan on The Charlie Rose Show

I'm endlessly thrilled that Google Video has made all these Charlie Rose episodes available--especially his interview with Ian McEwan (about 25:00) focusing on the book Atonement, a book whose last fifty pages I nearly couldn't read because I really was crying that hard.

But I'm afraid my youthful illusions about the awesomeness of Charlie Rose have been permanently shattered. Why have I never noticed these weaknesses in his interviews? I feel guilty in the general direction of my former roommate, who got me watching Rose when I should have been doing classwork.

Anyway, watch McEwan. He responds like he can't believe the dumbness issuing out of Rose's mouth. It's great. I love you, Ian, and I forgive you for all the tepid reviews Saturday got. I'm not going to read it now, or anything, but you have redeemed yourself a bit.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Graphic Novel: Fun Home

by Alison Bechdel (2006).

I think this book appeals because of its tiny recurring details: maps, dictionary pages, diaries, scripts and plays, letters, books with notes scrawled in, photos, type, matching narrative to life, anxiety and compulsion.

Those last two struck me the most. My favorite chapter was by far "In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower." But, I don't know, something held me back, away from this story. I appreciate the project, its importance, and the skill with which Bechdel mapped her story onto several classic books, themselves an intergral part of her life. It just didn't spark anything particularly epiphanic in me.

(The title link takes you to The Bat Segundo Show podcast with Bechdel.)

Friday, January 05, 2007

"Radio is sexy"

I just found out that an old friend from undergrad, Erin, now has her own radio show at her new school. I'm v. excited to listen in.


Listen Here :

Call 660-785-KTRM or IM djktrm to make a request.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Book: King Dork

by Frank Portman (2006).

I don't even remember where I read that this book was awesome, or how I decided that I needed to read it right this second. But I did, and I requested it from the library, and I was more than halfway through before I flipped to Portman's bio in the back and discovered he was the guy from The Mr. T Experience. And suddenly it all made a lot more sense.

I loved the book for the first half as well; my love is in no way contingent on the identity of its author. But I loved MTX first, though briefly--my boyfriend played me The Mr. T Experience... And the Women Who Love Them during a roadtrip across southern Mississippi. We were driving to Natchez, if I remember correctly. And he was especially excited to for me to hear the song "King Dork," with its reference to Doctor Who. (Side note: Jon's mom loves to hear him play "Even Hitler had a Girlfriend." I just think that's funny.)

So putting two and two together, as it were, was really satisfying for me. Kind of like in this book, how the narrator has to put a bunch of disparate details together and comes up with a pretty strange story by the end. I loved all the 70s rock-geek stuff, and the mystery stuff, though I did wish there was a bit more of that (I'm in Veronica Mars winter hiatus withdrawl at the moment). I also wished for a bit less interior monologue rambling, only because it became hard to follow after a while.

But overall, I really really really enjoyed this book, and I definitely recommend it. (The title of this post is a link to the book trailer. It is fun.)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Book: Ghostwritten

by David Mitchell (1999).

I love Mitchell's writing, and I loved this book. There is so much complexity, so many references and hints and themes and recurring images, how could I not love that. It suffers a bit from being his first novel--it diesn't really compare to Cloud Atlas, but how could it?--though I love seeing a writer start at A and end up at B with some things intact and some things so good it seems unthinkable. Which is very much what Mitchell's novels have been like. But I have to say, so many things went poorly for so many characters, it really did a number on me. I found myself longing for the sweet, fairytale-esque ending of number9dream.

Also, The Bat Segundo Show. I love it.