This past Monday a friend of mine (and the whole Upper Valley's) died in a swimming accident. Tyler was a great guy and the world is worse off without him. He was a super-peaceful, helpful, gentle, friendly guy. He helped me put in an air conditioner at my place last summer. After we put it in, we went outside to look at the back of it only to see a big handprint laid into the delicate metal gills. We tried as best we could to straighten them out but there's still a Tyler-sized hand print there and there always will be. Which I'm quite happy about now. He was also a member of my book club and it's hard for me to delete his email address from the mailing list. It's hard to think I'll never see him around again. Tyler, where ever you are, I know you have your to-go coffee mug with you. Peace.
Book Club met at my place last night. I think only two people actually finished The Occult Conspiracy by Michael Howard. It's a DENSE little book for 200 pages- each chapter could have been a whole book! I think I would have preferred something like Inside Secret Societies by Michael Benson, which is more like an encyclopedia. I just want to know what the name of the group is and what their agenda is. Howard's book was too much like a soap opera on fast forward. But it's a good jumping off point to do more research on my own or to at least be more aware of these groups and their influence on everything.
Supper was a maple glazed pork roast, glazed carrots cut on a bias, garden salad, sliced apples and fresh baked ciabatta. The pork and carrot recipes came from a back issue of Cook's Illustrated. This ciabatta recipe is fast becoming my go-to bread recipe. This was the third time I made it and because I was strapped for counter space, I made the mistake of allowing the last rise ON the baking sheet I was going to use. The bread ended up baking onto the sheet. I was able to get most of it off but it looked like a pack of angry wolverines had attacked the bread before I handed it out to my dinner guests.
I'm going to be doing a lot of traveling in June. Bonnaroo is mid-June in Manchester, TN. Dollar and I are camping so I'm currently doing all the planning and gathering of the things we're going to need. In fact, there's a list here of what to Bringaroo. I'd say we're 30-40% set. Which makes me a little nervous. A tentative schedule has been put up (check under Artists), but it's acting kind of flakey.
It's going to be an awesome time. We both love, love, love music and can't wait. He's excited for Cypress Hill. I'm pumped for Atmosphere, Gomez and Sasha. We were talking about how much sleep we plan to get and I suggested, "Dude. We should totally, like, NOT sleep the whole time we're there." Dollar agreed with this plan.
Three days after returning from Bonnaroo, I'll have to turn around and head out to Portland, OR for work. Portland seems like a nice, chill place to work and come down off Bonnaroo. I was just talking to a co-worker who recently went and he said, "There's a big bookstore there. Huge. You should go check it out while you're there." Pssht. 'Big bookstore'? I snuck into Book Expo America one year, don't try to tell me about a lot of books in one place. I check online for bookstores in Portland and found the store he was referring to. I ran down to his office and said, "Dude! No way! Shut up! You're talking about Powell's!" Yeah that's the one, he says.
OMFG!11!!! The bookstore, called Powell's City of Books (not an exaggeration), is as big as a city block. Multi levels, multi sections and, holiest of holies, a RARE BOOKS ROOM (with GUARDS and everything!). I am going to find all the books I want that stupid Amazon doesn't carry and FIND them at Powell's. This is... I can't... I'm sorry, I'm crying. Just look at how big the place is. I'm going to be out there a week and the plan is to go through two sections per evening. I'm bringing an extra suitcase.
I watched A History of Violence last night. I thought it was incredibly sad. I knew there was going to be violence but I wasn't expecting so much drama. And crazy sex. I thought it was good but Dollar thought it was awesome. Probably because of the crazy sex. Although... Now it seems suspicious to me that he liked it so much. Take for instance this phone conversation I had last night-
MAN: [gruff voice] Ey. Lemme talk to Tony.
AMY: Tony? I'm sorry but you've got the wrong number.
MAN: No I don't.
AMY: Um... I don't know anyone named T-
MAN: Yes you do. He sleeps right next to you.
AMY: Listen, I'm sorry but-
MAN: He took my eye! I'm gonna kill 'em!
In other movies, of the corn variety, we got a superhero spoof that was way, way beyond terrible. One girl had the power of invisibility (but apparently had to become naked before turning invisible), another girl had the power to make men do whatever she wanted (that's not really a super-power, sweetie, that's just called 'being manipulative') and the other girl had the power of fire- which I didn't see her use to an impressive effect because the movie was such crap we had to stop watching.
Another movie featured a quite famous corn star- and her rock star husband. I didn't recognize him but Dollar did. I was like, "Are we going to have to watch this guy do his wife? Cuz, ah ha ha, that's kind of weird." Yeah, we did have to. And it was weird. We also had to see him casually slap her cheek when she wasn't paying attention to the task at hand. It was a light slap but Dollar and I turned to each other, like, "Did you just see that? Did he... Did he just slap her?" Apres the slap, a look came across her face that said What did you just slap me for? So apparently every was surprised by it.
I went knit-crazy this past weekend. In preparation for the second season of Deadwood (out tomorrow!), I've been re-watching all the first season episodes. And I've fallen in love with Doc Cochran all over again.
Friday night I cast on for Starsky and by close of business Sunday night, this is how far I had gotten:
It's moving along rapidly on size 10 needles. I decided to use my huge-ass hanks of Eco Wool since the gauge was correct and the yardage is so great. No weaving in billions of ends for me, thank you.
And just to show everything else I'm working on:
Dollar's sock. Need to make another one. And need to figure out how to knit both on two circulars.
Mother's Day socks destined to be a Christmas gift.
Hobocamp bag. I ran out of wool and have to rip it. AAGGHH!! I don't know what to do with this yarn now.
I had a very nice time gaming this weekend. All eight (eight!) people actually showed up. We started off with Apples to Apples to loosen people up and you know what I realized? It's hard with so many people to get even one green card! You kind of have to play up to the judge. For example, when it was Dollar's turn to judge, the word was "chewy". I throw down the world "amputation". Because it’s the most politically incorrect answer, he choses it. I've learned not to throw down words that make the most sense.
Then we played Bang! With eight people there is one Sheriff, two Deputies, three Outlaws and two Renegades. I was a Deputy and I was the first one out. It got down to one Renegade, one Deputy and the Sheriff. Basically, the Deputy was able to put the Renegade in jail. Then the Sheriff came along, slid his gun between the bars and... Bang! The good guys won.
Most everyone left and it was just Dollar, Terry, John and myself hanging about. We decided to play Bang! again with one Sheriff, one Deputy, one Outlaw and one Renegade. I killed Terry pretty quickly and pulled out the rules for ghosts to play. That’s the sucky part of Bang!- When you’re dead, you’re dead. You’ve got to sit there and wait for everyone else to be eliminated. Filler games are good for the odd people out but I like these special rules that allow your character’s ghost to still influence play. It worked out pretty well.
We played regular Bang! with the Dodge City expansion (to allow for eight people). All the new cards (Iron Plate, Sombrero, Tequila) are really cool.
Well, we did get a couple not-too-rainy days here this week. Yesterday was downright pleasant. The rain is back though and here to ruin the weekend.
Tomorrow I've got the uvGamingClub coming over the play Bang! and Apples to Apples. I think it's going to be a full house with 8 people.
I've been looking at sweater patterns non-stop. I want to dramatically reduce my stash but whenever I'm at home, I never feel like starting anything. I think I've got to actually put something ON the needles and go from there.
A couple movies came in the mail from Netflix yesterday. Dollar watched A History of Violence last night when he got home from work. I asked him this morning how it was; he sleepily smiled and slurred, "It was awesome." I want to read the comic first but I think I'm going to end up seeing the movie (tonight) before I get a chance to read it.
Anyway, I'm still slowly working my way through The Occult Conspiracy. Freemasons, the Knights Templar, Rosy-crustaceans. Paganism, Christianity, Caballa. Too much information, man. There's only so much room in my head. It's like a computer and there's only a couple Mbs of space available. I've got to delete a bunch of crap I might need (birthdays, song lyrics) to make room for all this secret history stuff. It better be worth it.
Check out this news article. "New federal guidelines ask all females capable of conceiving a baby to treat themselves -- and to be treated by the health care system -- as pre-pregnant, regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon."
So just because I menstruate I should start taking folic acid and quit binge drinking? I don't think so.
Here's the actual report, which I didn't read. Note all doctors from Dartmouth Hitchcock. That's just up the road here.
So it's been raining for like 4 or 5 days now and it looks like there's plenty more to come. There are flood watches and evacutations. I think I'm good, although there were a bunch of DPW folks outside my house this morning, doing something to the sewers. The fact that they were literally right outside my door had me a little worried for my basement.
All the rain didn't stop Dollar and I from going to the Sheep & Wool Fest. And guess what? It suuuuuuucked!! It sucked so hardcore. I was totally sopping wet by the time we were walking back to the car, after having only spent ONE HOUR there. I didn't even have a particularly good time due to the fact that I was all wet and didn't really want to handle the vendor's nice yarn. It was just a bad scene. If I was a two-year-old, I would have thrown myself down into the mud and started having a mega-tantrum. There's not much worse than walking around in soaked clothing, freezing. My rain slicker was a piece of crap that let 30% of the water through and slid the remaining 70% down onto my jeans.
But, Dollar was a trooper and we stayed long enough to see a sheepdog demo. He loved it. I must admit, the dogs were pretty smart. Back at the car, he told me that it's really bad to leave cold wet clothes on and that I should probably take my pants off. Somehow this made sense (I just wanted to get WARM) and we drove home in our underwear with the heat on max. I don't know what other drivers must have thought but I didn't care because I was toasty warm.
Dollar and I are heading down to the NH Sheep and Wool Festival tomorrow. Should be fun; I had a good time last year. The only way I could talk Dollar into coming was to say, "Sheep Dog herding demonstrations."
I've got a (mostly) new hour for the uvMix this week. Become a member to download.
I'm plodding along through The Occult Conspiracy. It's chock 'o block full of information but I keep on getting caught up on the smaller references. The tower of Babel and King Nimrod. I read that and had to go, "Huh huh. Nimrod. How much would it suck if you did sometime so stupid, they made your name synonymous with the word 'stupid'?"
I went to see Mission: Impossible III yesterday. It was awesome! I went mostly because J.J. Abrams was directing and I love, love, love LOST. I heard that because Abrams is from tv, he knows how to keep the pace up throughout the story and give the viewers multiple blocks of exciting mini-resolutions (instead of one huge disappointing pay-out at the end).
There were lots of characters, but they were only around for a short while and history was shown through flashbacks. Keri Russell did a great job. So did Billy Crudup and Laurence Fishburne. 90% of girls under the age of 18 are obsessed with Jonathan Rhys Meyers but I'd never seen him in anything before. Both he and Maggie Q did exceptional jobs as unemotional, get-the-job-done IMF agents. And Philip Seymour Hoffman? Chills. Chills, I tell you. I had had a dream with him in it about a week ago (he wanted me to help him build glass stairs, then proceeded to get a little handsy). I think I'm going to have nightmares now. Ving Rhames is always good.
And Tom Cruise, it goes without saying, is always perfection. Say what you want about couch jumping and snacking on placenta, he always gives 125%.
This movie has ZERO bathroom allowance. Make sure you empty your bladder beforehand because if you get up to go, you're going to miss something spectacular.
I was up at my mom's a couple nights ago. Now, I have a tv but I don't get cable or network programming. It's just something I don't think I need- I'd rather be doing other stuff. But when I DO get to watch tv, I go straight for Spike (Oh, Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, how I've missed you) or Food Network. I've lost all love for MTV and VH1.
I flip on Food Network. Sandra Lee. I detest this woman. Her food is always VILE because "semi-homemade" only means "home assembled" to her. The episode I happened to catch was her Low Fat suite of inedible treats. Vegetables with a broccoli lemon sauce? I'm sorry, you're sauce looked like a cross between hollandaise and whatever dressing Benihana's puts on their salads. Your drinks? Sweetie, I'm all for the mid-afternoon cocktail that turns into several and subsequently passing out by 7pm but that doesn't mean I want to drink gelatin. Your "Berry Amazing Cooler" starts with Jell-O. Jell-No. All the vodka you dumped in was okay (although the big plastic jug made me question the quality of said vodka) and I'm impressed you refrained from taking swings off the bottle (like I know you do when there aren't any cameras around, you little minx!) but I'm so not going to make that drink for any guests I have. They're either going to get Jell-O shots or a mixed drink- not a combination of the two.
Your teriyaki salmon skewers looked all right, though. I'll give you that.
Not being able to stomach any more crappy food, I started flipping through the channels and stopped on CMT to see "Trick my Truck"- the redneck version of "Pimp my Ride". Only Trick my Truck is a billion times better.
1. They work on Mack trucks instead of crappy little beaters. Bigger is always better.
2. The Chrome Shop Mafia guys are way more talented than the West Coast Custom guys. AND they have better names.
3. In particular, I'd like to point out Ryno. On Pimp My Ride, they'll paint the car a solid color and maybe add a stripe or two. Not on Trick My Truck, oh no. The Mack truck is a veritable canvas awaiting the artistic talent of Ryno. In the episode I saw, he painted a wavy American flag that wrapped around the cab and got all shredded toward the back. Then he hand painted an American eagle on the front. (Why so patriotic? The recipient was a former Marine.) He chalks designs on free-hand, then tapes them, then paints them. THEN, get this, in this episode after all the painting is done, the guys decide there needs to be another panel and Ryno's going to have to paint that section to fit in with the rest of the design. Trouble? Not even. He painted it, holds it up in place AND THE DESIGN FITS PERFECTLY.
4. I like that you can tell certain parts of the show are scripted. These guys aren't actors, so when one of them enters the shot and says, "Come on you guys we have a new truck to trick we got a call from so-and-so's wife and they have an 18-month-old daughter with cancer and-" It's like watching a train wreck. It's funny AND it's sad.
5. There is so much they do to these trucks that they can't even show you everything during the re-design. When the driver gets up at the end of the show and opens the door, you're watching it like, "WHOA! Look at that dash! And those petals! The bed! Wow! HOLY COW!" Like, as excited as the guy they did it for. They show you some of the work being done but I'd say they leave 50% until the very end. Which is a nice surprise.
6. I'd go out with any and all the guys on the show. They're funny, good at what they do and aren't too hard on the eyes either.
7. They give the driver a (really nice) loaner Mack truck (which says "My other truck is being tricked" in big letter on the side) so that they can still DO THEIR JOB. I highly doubt they do this on Pimp My Ride.
I could go on and on, suffice it to say that I now loved this show. One guy was retired and wanted to hit the road with his wife so the Mafia made the back of his cab in a home, with a queen size bed, flat panel tv and a fireplace. A fireplace.
Have you been hearing about the most recent "Ah-HA! Gotcha!" book scandal? Girl gets $500,000 two-book deal at the age of 17, writes first one, gets caught plagiarizing, life is ruined forever. I honestly didn't think it was as bad as all that at first but the news is just getting worse and worse. Now the publisher is pulling her book and she lost her book deal. Also, a newspaper she interned at is now going over all the pieces she wrote there, as a pre-emptive strike against any Stephen Glass/Jayson Blair scandal. I assume she won't be invited back to Harvard this fall. She'll probably become addicted to drugs and start pan-handling or prostituting her body. But hey, at least then she'd have something interesting to write about.
# # #
From page 213 of Megan McCafferty's first novel, 'Sloppy Firsts': "Marcus then leaned across me to open the passenger-side door. He was invading my personal space, as I had learned in Psych class, and I instinctively sank back into the seat. That just made him move in closer. I was practically one with the leather at this point, and unless I hopped into the backseat, there was nowhere else for me to go."
From page 175 of Viswanathan's novel: "Sean stood up and stepped toward me, ostensibly to show me the book. He was definitely invading my personal space, as I had learned in a Human Evolution class last summer, and I instinctively backed up till my legs hit the chair I had been sitting in. That just made him move in closer, until the grommets in the leather embossed the backs of my knees, and he finally tilted the book toward me."
# # #
In Meg Cabot's "The Princess Diaries," published by HarperCollins, the following passage appears on page 12: "There isn't a single inch of me that hasn't been pinched, cut, filed, painted, sloughed, blown dry, or moisturized. ... Because I don't look a thing like Mia Thermopolis. Mia Thermopolis never had fingernails. Mia Thermopolis never had blond highlights."
In Viswanathan's book, page 59 reads: "Every inch of me had been cut, filed, steamed, exfoliated, polished, painted, or moisturized. I didn't look a thing like Opal Mehta. Opal Mehta didn't own five pairs of shoes so expensive they could have been traded in for a small sailboat."
# # #
There are many other comparisons, with many other books (including Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie!). I don't have the energy to copy them all here, suffice it to say that I am disappointed. And Viswanathan's weak-ass claim, "I had no idea how much I internalized Cabot's writing", was totally lame.
But hey, I'm writing a book. I just got done writing the first paragraph. It's about the Bush administration:
Things are going really great, things are going really bad. It's a time of intelligence, it's a time of stupidity. Twenty score and ten years ago, our great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- grandfathers were talkin' bout a revolution. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. "Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids...
That's as far as I've gotten. It's going to be a coming-of-age story about a small town Vermont girl who gets bored, gets angry and gets even. It's going to be called, "True Confessions from the Secret Diary of Someone Who Read the Da Vinci Code to Become Healthier and Younger Overnight, or Harry Potter and the 30-Minute Meals".
The book discussion at the HOP on Friday went great- after everyone left. I was surprised how many people were showing up and by 6:30 there were twenty to twenty-five people waiting. The marketing director for the HOP said a few words about this experimental HOP-performance-related discussion and then suggested we break into smaller groups. Then an indignant woman sneered, "Where's Sarah Vowell?" Uh, she's not coming. It's a pre-performance discussion about her b- "Well, we thought she was going to be here! Ugh!" The bitch and her friend threw the discussion questions at the marketing director and stormed out, along with half of the people there. Apparently everyone thought Ms. Vowell was going to be there.
It didn't make any difference to me. To be honest, I had initially thought she was going to be there too but Val told me she wasn't and I let my book group know ahead of time. I was going to the book discussion to discuss the book, not gape at a radio celebrity (which is what the actual performance is for). In the end, the perfect amount of people remained for a nice discussion and I had a great time listening to the other readers. And I've got to give props to the old guy who showed up with his librarian wife, also thinking Sarah Vowell was going to be there, but who ended up staying and enjoying the discussion. He had never read any of Sarah's books but was thoroughly interested in what he was hearing about her most recent one. I guess being a librarian's husband just makes you that cool- hadn't read the book, stayed and listened to what we were all saying about it. I wish everyone who left in a huff had thought to be as open minded. You rock, old man.
The performance itself was meh. Sarah came out, slumped across the stage (she really is a gloomy guss) and started reading a passage I had only just read the night before- only I liked her reading it even less because the voice inside my head isn't nearly as nasally. Having said that, when you hear an author read his or her work, it is generally better than just reading it because they know their work so well and can place emphasis or inflect at just the right spots to make the story funnier. But blah blah, I was bored and seriously considered leaving 10 minutes into the performance. I'm glad I stuck it out though, because she read two New York Time op/ed pieces I hadn't heard before. Sarah is funny, in a self-deprecating yet self-righteous Eeyore kind of way. Prior to the performance I was thinking about what fast friends we could be. Afterwards I realized I wouldn't want to be in her circle of friends because I'd be the dumb one who was always asking, "So, like, what was the Iran-Contra thing about?"