Friday, December 31, 2004

Listmaker, listmaker, make me a list.

I wouldn't be me if I didn't make lists.

Best book I've read this year: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (fiction); Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (non-fiction)

Strictly speaking, both of these books were published before 2004, but I read both of them this year. Fingersmith is a Victorian quasi-lesbian love story and Nickel and Dimed is Barbara Ehrenreich's narrative about going undercover and trying to earn a living in a series of minimum wage jobs. This year I've read fewer books overall than I have in most years past, but what I've read has by and large been really good. Biggest disappointment was July, July by Tim O'Brien, who I'm increasingly coming to think wrote one transcendant masterpiece (The Things They Carried) and nothing else but schlock.

Best movie I've seen this year: Garden State

It's really too early for a best movie list, since there are still several 2004 movies that I'm going to end up seeing in early 2005. But so far, Garden State takes the prize. I've never watched Scrubs and I didn't really know anything by Zach Braff before, but he did a hell of a job with this movie. Runners-up include The Incredibles, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Mean Girls, but stay tuned for more on this into the new year.

Best album: Underachievers, Please Try Harder by Camera Obscura

But I still need to buy The Arcade Fire album, and there are a whole bunch of runners-up here, so stay tuned for more on this into the new year as well. It's worth pointing out that Camera Obscura is also the best live band I've seen this year, even including Belle and Sebastian and U.S.E.

Best TV show of the year: Arrested Development.

No one else is making TV like this right now. Everything about this show works. Every casting choice is right on, the writing practically sings. And to think that the execs at FOX in their infinite wisdom almost cancelled it.

Of course there were also The Sopranos, The Daily Show, and The Amazing Race as runners-up, and I never thought I'd say this but Joe Shmoe 2 was damn clever.


I'm feeling pretty good about how this year has gone. Fortunately I still have nine and a half
more hours to mess stuff up.

Happy new year, everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Indie art houses with limited release, or The Life Aquatic

So the thing that makes Bill Murray great is really his ability to deadpan. Which makes his collaborations with Wes Anderson especially serendipitous, because the thing that makes Wes Anderson movies great, if you think they're great, is their deadpan take on the totally ridiculous universe in which they take place.

So last night we went to see The Life Aquatic. And the thing that was wrong about this movie is that everyone except maybe Cate Blanchett's character -- more on this later -- deadpans everything. The universe is flat despite all the wackiness that ensues within it. And the reason that's wrong -- the reason even Bill Murray deadpan doesn't entirely work -- is that there's just no relief. Bill Murray is great in Rushmore, even in Lost in Translation, because he's deadpanning reactions to characters and events around him that are anything but flat. In The Life Aquatic there's not a lot of character relief. Willem Dafoe's character makes a stab at it but he's not compelling in the way Jason Schwartzman or Olivia Williams or Scarlett Johansson manages to be. No, the closest thing we have to character relief is Cate Blanchett as a reporter, which is a nice inversion of the usual: journalist as least objective, most human.

Although I liked this movie a great deal I can't recommend it to most people. I appreciated the way in which it was highly stylized and I appreciate what he's trying to do with the flat universe and characters and all that. But this might be the film that sends Wes Anderson back to indie art houses with limited release. It's just not going to work for most audiences. It's not even going to work for most audiences of film snobs.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Aquapets to the rescue!

Noelle had a very particular Christmas list this year: all the usual, expected items, including Barbies (blech) and art supplies and books and stuffed animals, plus as many Aquapets as Santa could stuff into a stocking. Not familiar with Aquapets? They're these little characters who live in tubes of water and make vaguely alien-creature-like sounds, each character having its own sound. The more Aquapets you stuff into a small place, the crazier they go with their squeals and shrieks and giggles. They talk to each other.

Being the wonderful older sister that I am (after all, I got the 23-year-old a Kate Spade bag for Christmas), I procured a bunch of these water alien things for Noelle for the holiday. They come in pyramid-shaped boxes covered with instructions for the adoptive parent-child to stroke, caress, and otherwise lavish affection and attention upon her Aquapet.

So you get these Aquapets, which are apparently all the rage with teenagers in Japan*, and you give them to the seven-year-olds you know, and they're all really excited, and then you open the box, and out of each box you pull an alien-creature that lives in what can only be described as a giant penis. The Aquapet lives in a long tube filled with water, with two testicular bumps at its base that the child needs to manipulate and caress in order to excite the Aquapet in the tube. And so the seven-year-old you know is delighted and sets right to work on all four of her new Aquapets, and meanwhile you're looking on in horror as you realize that you've just given your little sister four squealing dildos for Christmas.

*"which are apparently all the rage with teenagers in Japan" == how you can tell that I'm getting old

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

If you like Jitterbug Perfume, you'll love Infinite Jest!

Now that Erin's actually posting to her blog again, I've added it to my links in the sidebar. Go crazy.

My ling server is down. Again. It's going on 48 hours now. Am I allowed to be mad if I no longer have an official departmental affiliation? No matter. Who knows how much spam I'm missing?

I started reading Jitterbug Perfume, the book Jake loaned me, on the flight back yesterday. I'm only about a hundred pages in but I have to say that it's not at all what I was expecting, in a mostly good way. Furthermore, Jake, have I got a book for you to read, although I'll wait until I finish this one before making a formal recommendation. So far, though, it's been a worthwhile recommendation, so thanks.

Picked up a bunch of other books over Christmas, including Longitude, which I bought for myself just prior to the holiday; a Dava-Sobel-edited collection of science writing (it's a very Dava Sobel holiday); and The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World, by A.J. Jacobs. Plus a few pretty good-looking cookbooks. It's looking like a non-fiction start to the new year, once I finish Jitterbug Perfume. I was looking at the list of books I've read in 2004, and I've actually maintained a pretty good balance of fiction and non-fiction.

We saw Meet the Fockers just before leaving NJ. Sad, sad little sequel. All the reviews are right that anything that's good about the movie is Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand, with occasional fun riffs of Ben Stiller doing his Ben Stiller thing. I'm still antsy to see The Life Aquatic, which I'm going to get to sometime this week, and I also still have plans to see Ocean's Twelve, The Aviator, and a smattering of others. I'd be grateful to hear reviews of any of these.

Monday, December 27, 2004

This house goes up to 11.

I'm going back to Seattle today. For all you burglars tuning in regularly to my blog, you've missed your big chance to rummage through my apartment. Or maybe you haven't! It figures that I wouldn't escape the east coast without some snow; last night we got an inch or two, into which I'm about to head out the door for a run. Snow and sunshine: two things I don't usually see a lot of in the winter.

My sister heads to London today. Chris goes to Japan in a couple of weeks. Most everyone I know got to go somewhere warm / far /interesting in conjunction with break. Me, I got NJ. I guess you take what you can get.

The volume in this house is killing me. Everything happens at maximum decibels, all the time. This house goes up to 11.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Airport ramblings, or take this, A&E!

This is pretty fun so far. My flight is delayed. I'm using the airport's handy wireless network. No one is online to IM me and keep me company. I did get to talk to a crazy lady from Juneau at the sandwich place/bar where I had a sandwich and no drink. I should have had a drink. All things considered she was only a little crazy. Mainly she was Alaskan. She's scared of Seattle. She's never been to New York. One thing she is not scared of is a stiff bloody mary.

People, where are you? I need diversion. Apparently I need diversion separate from the two books and most recent issue of Harper's that I brought with me for the trip. I'm addicted. I'm a junkie. I'm okay with that, most of the time. I was thinking I shouldn't have brought my laptop. Now I'm glad that I brought my laptop. One other thing I realized this morning is that we forgot to get our building managers a Christmas present. Last year we gave them chocolate. The precedent has been set, and it's too late to turn back. We're a present-exchanging pair of households. Except for our household, this year. I also didn't send any Christmas cards. I got the basic presents for the basic people and a few oddball things for non-basic people because I happened to see them and because it felt like the right thing to do. It was about 50% the right thing to do.

What if instead of flying to my dad's house I caught a plane to Honolulu?
What if instead of flying to my dad's house I caught a cab home?

I'm totally fatigued. Last weekend wasn't restful. This week I got greedy with time to myself at night and stayed up way too late. Every night. And got up early. Every morning. And drove miles and miles. Every day. I wasn't drinking, gallavanting, or otherwise meaningfully engaged. My sleep has suffered. I need it to be the night of December 30, which I estimate to my the next night on which I will get a really good night's sleep. That's a week away. I need a vacation. I've been overusing the word drama lately.

I need reinforcements. Or reinforcement. Or both. I need my plane to take off.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Tegan and Sara II

So I couldn't wait and I stopped at Sonic Boom on the way to work this morning and bought So Jealous and If It Was You. I have all the patience of a four-year-old on Christmas Eve. I listened to one album on the way to work this morning and the other one driving Anna to the airport. I am delighted. I mean let's face it, it's hard to go wrong with a band containing New Pornographers and fronted by identical twin lesbians. I feel as though I need to fortify myself before heading to the land that radio forgot tomorrow, by which I mean the greater NYC-Philadelphia area, which you might think had something decent to listen to on the radio, given that both places have thriving music scenes with a variety of cool bands, but it turns out that no, no they do not.

Tegan and Sara

Have you checked out the new Tegan and Sara album? Or the older ones, for that matter. Some crossover from The New Pornographers. The sound is very Pacific NW -- or I guess very Pacific SW, since they're from Vancouver BC. I've been hearing stuff on KEXP lately, enough to convince me to cash out for pretty much the whole back catalogue. The new album is creeping up on a lot of Best of 2004 lists. Highly recommended. I can't wait to pick up full copies of these albums. They've gotta play here with some frequency, right? I have the sense that these girls + New Pornographer band would rock out live.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Fashion update

I ended up feeling okay about the t-shirt but I didn't have the guts for the skirt. It ends up not mattering since I'm pretty much the only person at work today, and I'm leaving early to do an airport run and go to a cocktail party. The fifteen-year-old brunettes wrapping presents at the bookstore liked my shirt a lot. I can so work it. I'm thinking of dying my hair blond.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Blondes have more fun, but brunettes can read.

After work tonight Ritchie and Rich and I went Christmas shopping. I finished most of that up a while ago, so I bought a few little things for other people and a pile of stuff for myself. (Right on, Christmas spirit!) I ended up with a skirt that is definitely inappropriate for work and a t-shirt that might or might not be. I think I'll wear both tomorrow.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Bloggable Me

I talked to Vince this morning and he pointed out that he was able to finish my sentences for me even more than usual, because from reading my blog he's been able to magically piece together all the stuff that's really been happening that I don't blog about but that I'll happily yap about on the phone for an hour. Ah, neurotic and mildly self-important yentas and the people who love them.

I just had a great idea for a morphology exercise involving the root word blog! I'm serious. It's really, really good.

Kara and Jake are in Hawai'i. I know it's true because I read it on their blogs, which have both daily summaries of their wacky adventures* and pointers to each other's daily summaries of their wacky adventures.

Chris saw Ron Jeremy in the bathroom at the Philadelphia airport this morning. He (R. Jeremy, not Chris) was on his way to L.A. Maybe it's time for a The Surreal Life nostalgia show about the already nostalgic The Surreal Life. They reportedly did not check each other out, which is frankly a little disappointing in a troubling sort of way.

This has been a weird weekend. Chris is gone and most of our neighbors are gone and the building is really, really quiet. So quiet that I went to Kirkland last night to find fun and adventure. Anna and the folks at Cheaters rarely let you down.

*Apparently in Hawai'i there are very few wacky adventures.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

In an intertextual sense, everything is clear.

Yesterday I spent what is strictly speaking perhaps an unreasonable amount of time talking with tvdetective about boys: boys we're dating; boys we're not dating but would like to date; boys we're not dating and don't want to date; boys who make TV shows, whether or not we know them; boys who introduce us to boys who make TV shows; and so on. It is our way of connecting. In short, she and I rule. In an intertextual sense. On a day that was otherwise very weird. Also in an intertextual sense.

I think I'm going to take Italian classes starting in January. Taking classes is what all the cool kids are doing these days: Italian, Japanese, jewelry-making. Ciao, bella.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

America's Next Top Tyra Banks Wannabe

Heathalouise's comment below meshes nicely with the post I was planning on making this morning anyway. If you haven't seen yet the finale of America's Next Top Model and don't want it spoiled, stop reading now.

I don't think any of the final three deserved to be the final three, so it's hard for me to be happy with the winner. Of the three there I guess I think Eva was the best, so I'm glad she won. But looking at the final three in the panel room with the judges? Pretty girls, but not one of them is Tyra Banks. The thing about Tyra Banks, at least in this show, is that except when she's doing her melodramatic acting crap ("Three beautiful girls stand before me... "), she totally owns any scene she's in, in a good way. None of these girls can do that.

I liked Ann and Nicole and Toccara the best this season. Nicole or Toccara would have rocked the Cover Girl shoot.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

TV pseudo-editorials

What is it with you people? This blog is getting clicked on more than ever, and yet no one's giving me a single book suggestion. Although Jake did loan me a Tom Robbins book this morning, which is not technically non-fiction and which I've long thought I'd hate but I'll give it a shot anyway. The rest of you people can't read. (I guess you're looking at this blog for the pictures.)

If you watch The Amazing Race but didn't watch last night's episode yet and don't want it spoiled (Chris, this means you), you probably want to stop reading now.

I'm wondering how many TV pseudo-editorials are going to be written about the domestic abuse that's going on this season, and in particular about its escalation last night. I haven't seen much on it thus far, but last night's episode was pretty stomach-turning. It's a different kind of view into someone's private life than reality TV typically offers, and I'm not sure I like it. I'm interested in other reactions -- not to the incident itself, which everyone's likely to roundly agree upon -- but to CBS's portrayal of it and to the fact that they're still in the game. I was pretty surprised they weren't automatically eliminated. I'm sure there are rules about violent behavior towards other teams and locals encountered along the way, but the producers probably wouldn't have suspected that they'd need to mandate behavior between teammates.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I'm looking for my next fix/Craving a little science.

I'm in work limbo right now. In moving from contract to full-time I'm changing my email alias and my ID; right now I have an ID that lets me into the building but no access to the corporate network or my work email. I'm a girl in-between.

I'm thinking about going to see Asahi/The Catch/Some By Sea/Wesafari on Saturday night if I can find someone to drag with me and maybe even if I can't since practically everyone is going to be out of town. The show is at Vera, this non-profit arts center kind of place downtown. I've never been there but they often have smallish shows that look pretty good and are reportedly swamped. I've been meaning to check some of these shows out for a while now.

I'm almost done with these William Trevor stories and I'm looking for my next fix. This time I think it's going to have to be non-fiction. Read anything good lately? I'm thinking of picking up Longitude by Dava Sobel, since I enjoyed Galileo's Daughter so much. Craving a little science I guess.

Show me some love, people.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Talk about snazzy!

So yesterday afternoon Chris and Carlton went out to get ties for the party last night and stockings for me, armed with color and size information. Somehow they decided that what I'd meant was that I needed not stockings but THIGH-HIGHS, because apparently they thought I was going to the holiday party dressed as a hooker with a heart of gold.

At the party itself I had two Long Island iced teas with glow-stick stirrers. Talk about snazzy.

We have tons of pictures, and so does everyone else, so at some point I'll post an assortment.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Girly girl

Tomorrow night is Chris's group's Christmas party. (Tonight is my group's. I don't think I'm going.) I seem to have spearheaded a plan whereby all the women we know who are going will meet at my place beforehand to do hair and make-up kinds of things. It's so girly I can hardly stand it. Also, I don't know how to do hair and make-up kinds of things. Hopefully someone else in attendance will.

Snow Patrol, Keane, The Shins, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, Modest Mouse

So last night Chris and Ritchie and I went to see this big arenafest. I haven't been to a show like that, in that kind of venue, in who knows how long. I'm thinking the last time was in high school. There were lots of fourteen-year-olds. No one told me that Nintendo was a sponsor.

We missed the first half or so of Snow Patrol due to traffic and crappy weather, which is too bad, since I've wanted to see them for a while and since the part of their set that we did catch was pretty good.

I thought Keane's pianist was going to knock himself out with his epileptic-type knees-almost-hitting-head seizures while he was playing. That man is a peril to himself.

The Shins, The Killers, and Franz Ferdinand all had very tight sets, especially Franz Ferdinand. I wanted the sets to be longer, and I left wanting to listen to those albums. If I'd been by myself, I probably would have left the seats we had and head to the floor to dance around more. How else to frighten the teenagers?

Modest Mouse headlined, if you can call it that. Seriously? I've probably seen over a thousand bands in the last ten years. They might have been the worst. If you have the chance to see them live, skip it and listen to the first third of their album instead. After the first couple of tracks, people started pouring out of the venue in droves. Maybe they got tired of the minute-long pauses for tuning up between tracks, or maybe it was the way every musician picked his own key to pretend to stick to, or maybe it was the way this totally lackluster crapfest followed the truly splendid Franz Ferdinand. All I know is that after about 3/4 of the set, we gave up too. It was cruel to put us through that at an alcohol-free event. Last time I sit through that without a flask!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

slowertwitch rationale

A bunch of people have asked me lately: whence slowertwitch, Kieran? Loosely paraphrasing. Isn't that morbid? they ask.

I'd enjoy hearing your competing theories more than you'd enjoy hearing the actual explanation.

Tonight we're going to see the six band clearchannelfest at the Key Arena: Modest Mouse, Keane, Snow Patrol, The Killers, The Shins, and Franz Ferdinand. It starts at 6pm. It's going to be us and a bunch of sixteen-year-olds. If only Mario were here.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Open letter to Don McKellar and Bruce McDonald

Don McKellar and Bruce McDonald, I adore you. Why have you forsaken me? Why is it still impossible to get the truly delightful, transcendant show Twitch City on DVD? I love you guys. I saw eXistenZ even though it was a David Cronenberg movie. I saw it in the theater. My god, what awful shlock that was. But I digress. I curse myself daily, or at least monthly, that I didn't record it while I had the chance. Naively, I hoped for better. I have waited patiently, hopefully, thinking ahead to better times, yearning to see Callum Keith Rennie as Newbie once more, remembering fondly the catfood killer. Bonding with Canadians -- Canadians! -- in hopes of finding a partner in mourning, someone to share the memories of better times gone by. And yet as the years have passed no DVDs, no reairings, not even a solitary crappy quality VHS tape, have been forthcoming. I am at the end of my tether. Decimated, dashed, as crumpled as a used Kleenex at the bottom of the deepest compartment of my mom's faux-leather purse.

Please, Don McKellar and Bruce McDonald, tell me that my long torment is almost over. Tell me that this DVD is in the works. Tell me that I'll be able to smile again.

Kieran Margaret

Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling satsuma

Damn, these things are good.

I think I've blogged before about my love of seasonal produce. It's true: I'm a whore for in-season fruit and vegetables. In the end, though, most of the time I still prefer summer stuff: peaches, basil, tomatoes, corn, berries -- man, the berries alone are enough to make a girl cry! But there's one thing winter has that the rest of the year doesn't that turns me into something like a coke-addled rat: these sweet little clementine oranges, or satsumas, or whatever you call them where you are. Is there anything wrong with a clementine? If there is, I can't think of it.

It's sunny out today! And I took the day off and I've been spending it running in the sun and eating gloppy cheese quesadillas and clementines. In a little while I'm going to head out to finish up some Christmas shopping and get myself a haircut. I'm loving life right now.

You're awake and I'm asleep.

I need sleep. There's no good reason why I should still be awake. This was going to be my night of quiet time, downtime, alone time. It hasn't been.

I'm feeling like I need a day off. I'm not sick, but I'm weary and worn out. This past weekend was fun, but it wasn't physically restorative in the way that proper weekends are. Lately I've noticed that I'm using the word proper the way Ritchie does. Likewise for Chris and the word beanie. That Ritchie is contageous. Estuary English is, evidently, contageous.

I'm trying to remember how I dealt with living in a dorm in college. I think I dealt with it by having my own room and, while I had a roommate, by having a roommate who had her own room. I go through wildly social periods and intensely private and introverted periods, the latter of which often coming as a surprise to anyone who only sees me when I'm feeling more sociable. I'm feeling quieter these days, but I haven't had a lot of opportunity to be quieter.

No good reason for me to be awake right now.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Know what they have in Boston these days?

You know what they have in Boston these days? Sun!

I'm not one who's usually bothered by the Seattle winter gray. And yet this weekend, when it was sunny not just one but both days that I was in Boston, I could hardly contain myself. Sun! Perfect blue skies! 50 degrees! If only I didn't know it to be just a big weekend-long lie.

Still, Boston is a great town, and it was a great, if somewhat frenzied, trip. I finally finished Oblivion, the David Foster Wallace short story collection that I've picked up and put down several times now, on the plane ride yesterday. I still like his essays better. In his essays his prose really shines. Some of these stories were good, but not the gimmicky ones...

... and then I moved on to A Bit on the Side, the most recent short story collection by William Trevor, which I was promising myself as a reward for slogging through the DFW. If you're not reading William Trevor, you should be. If there's a better short story writer alive, I don't know who it might be. These things are exquisite.

Friday, December 03, 2004

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

I am not running today. I am not running today. I am letting the muscle twingey thing in my butt rest so I can go running in Boston. I am being a good girl. Although I hate not exercising on days when I'm going to fly. I need to get ready for my whirlwind trip this weekend and I'm still sitting in bed with my laptop. I'm telling myself that I'm doing work because I'm answering work email, and that's why I still haven't packed.

The low in Boston is supposed to be 28 degrees tonight. That's ridiculous. People aren't supposed to live in places like that. People such as me aren't supposed to, anyway.

I love the way blogger formats numbers: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0. Someone else needed to revel in it with me.

Yesterday was Meri's birthday! If my sister is 23, how old does that make me?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Snow showers, grow flowers, superpowers.

Interview loop tomorrow.

Boston Friday.
There are supposed to be snow showers. I hate snow. I am irrationally excited about the snow showers. A conundrum.

It's December, people. The people in the world most overlapping my DNA all add another year to their ages.

It turns out that I have a disappointing lack of superpowers.

Fairy tale

Once upon a time, I had a webpage. My webpage was sort of like a blog, in that I posted all kinds of ramblings about all kinds of things, and it was a lot like most blogs, in that most of those ramblings were of fair-to-middling coherence. I also had pages of links to people and places, and lists of music, and lists of books, and lists of other things. Then I went to graduate school and I made another webpage. It was less like a blog, in that it was all about linguistics and copies of linguistics articles I had written/was writing and courses I was teaching. Then I moved to Seattle and I started an actual blog. And then another blog. So now I have two webpages and two blogs and one newsgroup.

The first webpage is a museum. It claims I am three years younger than I actually am, not because I'm unscrupulously dishonest but because I last updated that part of it three years ago. Likewise it lists as friends people that I am no longer really in touch with in addition to actual friends, it lists as music I like things that were cutting edge in my collection in 2000, and it uses lots of bad .jpgs as decoration. But it's still there.

The second webpage I make half-hearted attempts to update. It mentions my current whereabouts and professional comings and goings. It also cites academic interests that I no longer really have but once had. It also uses a design that wasn't great at the time and seems even crappier now. On the other hand, it has links to my dissertation and other papers, so for now I need to leave it up.

Pretty much everything that is not The OC now goes into this, the primordial blog.

Newsgroups and Philly = old skool; classic me; pumpernickel bagel
Blogs and Seattle = nouveaugeek; avant garde; multigrain loaf

Not that I excessively taxonify or anything.