Tuesday, May 30, 2006

to NO ONE'S suprise ...

Which Classic Female Literary Character Are you?

You're Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen!
Take this quiz!

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I mean, duh. We even have the same initials!

Friday, May 26, 2006

a world of porches

This picture makes me want to be back in Louisville. I've uploaded a bunch to my flickr page from my trip to Kentucky and Indiana. Isn't the scenery the lushest thing you've ever seen? Houses are so cheap there, too! Really! You couldn't buy an apartment here for what they cost.

I'm also watching Mildred Pierce currently, trying to get my head back in the right place. You know, feeling lucky that I don't have a spoiled monster for a daughter or a psycho for a mother, rather than anxious about this whole Getting Married business.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Reading/Read List

* denotes currently reading, bold denotes especially good

(after a certain length of time, * also denotes Unfinished)

Have His Carcase* (Sayers, reread)

World War Z* (Brooks)

Mansfield Park (Austen, reread)

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Apex Hides the Hurt* (Whitehead)

The Devil in the White City (Larson)

The Omnivore's Dilemma (Pollan)

The Real Thing (Stoppard)

Enemies, a Love Story* (Singer)

Heat (Buford)

Garlic and Sapphires (reread, Reichl)

Haroun and the Sea of Stories (reread, Rushdie)

Night and Day* (Woolf)

How to Be Alone (Franzen)

The Emperor's Children* (Messud)

England, England* (Barnes)

Shiksa Goddess (Wasserstein)

I Feel Bad About My Neck (Ephron)

Letters from the Earth (Twain)

Remains of the Day (Ishiguru)

Here's to Hindsight (Cobble)

Children of the Alley* (Mahfouz)

Fortress of Solitude* (Lethem)

Special Topics in Calamity Physics* (Pessl)

The End (Snicket)

Two Flappers in Paris (anonymous vintage French erotica. really!)

Heartburn (Ephron)

The Fermata (Baker) Another reread.

The Colossus of Maroussi* (Miller)

Bee Season (Goldberg) -- a reread, but a worthwhile one.

Freakonomics (Levitt & Dubner)

The Tipping Point (Gladwell)

The Amber Spyglass (Pullman)

The Subtle Knife (Pullman)

Water for Elephants* (Gruen)

I Do, But I Don't: Walking Down the Aisle Without Losing Your Mind (Wicoff)

The Golden Compass (Pullman)

Fun Home (Bechdel)

Snow (Pamuk)

The Awakening (Chopin)

The Alchemist (Coelho) 60 million people worldwide have read this book -- and every single one of them probably liked it more than I did.

Veronica (Gaitskill)

Main Street (Lewis)

Housekeeping (Robinson)

The Pursuit of Love & Love in a Cold Climate (Mitford)

Middlemarch (Eliot)

The Eustace Diamonds (Trollope)

These books have a theme, which I am only realizing in retrospect: unhappy women. Young women, too! Brides! Who make bad choices! Which are often the only choices available. Hum.

None of these, unfortunately, appear on Human Events' Top 10 List of Books Liberals Would Like to Burn. What I love about this list is it's compiled by conservatives admittedly speculating about what THEY THINK I'd like to use to char my anti-war tofu pups. What I also love? The number one book is (get ready):
1. Bible by God

The central work of Western Civilization, defines the relationship between God and man and is the foundation of faith in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Liberal groups, like the American Civil Liberties Union and People for the American Way, have sued to keep it out of government buildings, schools and public discourse.
Boo yeah! I know I personally want to burn the Bible ("by God" -- it really should say that on the cover) on a pile of my bras and, by the light of the heathenish conflagration, perform abortions via witchcraft.

Conservatives are too funny. Most of their books I haven't even heard of, or I would totally choose to keep around for kicks. Like the "articulate" Ann Coulter: a day just isn't complete without her hate misting its edges. Plus, I like to keep in mind what's worth fighting for.
The inimitable Sharon Jones!

None of you has heard of Sharon Jones. I know because I grilled everyone about this mystery lady, to whose 50th birthday extravaganza I was being dragged, and no one could do anything but shrug at me. I knew the following: she's black; she's a musician; she's turning 50; and maybe she's like Etta James?

As it turned out, the concert/birthday party/musical orgy stretched from 9:00 to midnight without a break. One band rolled right into another. Ms. Jones performed, came back and performed some more, performed to the very rafters, until you expected her to drop dead of exhaustion, like she was aiming for that bittersweet headline, "Died Doing What She Loved." Twice, though, she brought Mr. Ben on stage to do it with her, and while I watched I begged fortune that she would continue to live at least until he got back into the audience. "Died Doing What She Loved in Arms of Young, Cute Law Student" is a way weirder obit.

Boy was giddy to have been singled out; he was the only fellow, in fact, she chose to grace the stage TWICE. All our friends gave me half-mocking looks like, Uh-oh! You're gonna have to fight Sharon Jones for your fiancee! Sadly that would have been no fight at all. Ms. Jones and I may be the same height -- the height of genius -- but anyone who, at 50, can outdance James Brown while belting song after song in three-inch silver heels, could take me easy. No contest.

The rumor is that I danced, too. This may have happened; I can confirm or deny nothing. I will say that it was my second concert of the weekend, and both did help to get my mind off my two interviews from the previous week. Three if you count the fact that I went to the one in South Orange, NJ 24 hrs early and had to make the hour-long trek again the following day. My mind is not functioning at its peak these days, as evidenced by the fact that I also seem to have agreed to an August in DC wedding.

Two more interviews this week, too, and both for jobs I'd really like. I'd really like to get this occupation thing settled so I can have something to put on forms besides, "Leave me alone. I'm working on it."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

joy upon joy

The Editorial Director of a Washington Agency has read the first three chapters of my novel in progress, and we finally had a chance to discuss them this evening. She gave me valuable and intelligent feedback, lots of things to keep in mind, and most importantly she said: "This is dynamite."

She wouldn't even let me tell her the plot overview because she wanted to read it for herself. Read all of it, in fact, help me edit it, and then help me try to get it published. "Do you have time?" I asked her. "No!" she said. "But this is so much fun!"

Hopefully this will motivate me to get back on a cranking-it-out writing schedule. What with travelling and graduations and accepting everyone's incredibly sweet congratulations (thanks, by the way!) and letting myself get all nervous thinking about Weddings and then subsequently talking myself off the ledge, I've let the creative process move to the back burner lately. Bad ester! Lazy ester!

Well, I'm out of college-age cousins, and having been to Kentucky, Indiana, Boston and back, I think I can be forgiven for staying put for a while; and having been proposed to once, I think I can safely assume it won't happen again (soon). Once I get a job, in fact, I'll have almost nothing left to distract me except passing bluebirds and really cute shoes. Get ready, world! By my birthday, I'd like to have the first draft of this monster finished. You think I can't do it? You just wait.

Friday, May 12, 2006

total eclipse of the heart

So I had this great trip to Bloomington, Indiana -- well, at least it was great once I got off the plane; my journey was delayed at every possible junction and ended with hysterical toddlers kicking me in the back of the head at 1:00 AM as we finally began our very late descent -- followed by a great time in Kentuckiana, which is what the pleasant folks down near Louisville call their lush, Ohio River Valley home. I had stories about my cousin's graduation from IU, what it made me think about becoming a college professor after all, playing cards, drinking mint juleps, and planting tomatoes.

I had a story about the most ironic couple I've ever met: a woman who's been married three times, with a child and child support payments to show for each marriage; and a man who spent the first 15 years of his life in a religious cult. And what do they do? The woman teaches Marriage and Family classes, and the man is a therapist!

I had stories! I meant to tell them as I stumbled upstairs at 2:30 in the morning from my 13 hour car ride home, covered in dog hair, bespectacled and frizzy, not to mention exhausted. Instead, my charmingest of boyfriends, who had cleaned the apartment from top to bottom and bought beautiful, abundant purple flowers, knocked all other stories out of my head, although not the lyrics to that Nellie McKay song. He said, "I was sure when you were here, but I was even more sure when you were gone."

No real talk of the wedding yet or any of those weighty issues. He said he doesn't want to have kids for a long time, and I said I'm keeping my name, and we shook on it. Aside from soliciting congratulations (and in some cases, free food!) that's all we've done so far.

Friday, May 05, 2006

all about art

Man, I was gonna write a long post about all the art I've been consuming recently: an exquisite Sweeney Todd, currently on Broadway, where the small ensemble of actors remain onstage the entire time, doubling as the orchestra, and a coffin in the center doubles as half the set; and Middlemarch, which, along with The Eustace Diamonds, features a male character whose lineage is suspected of being tainted with JEWISH BLOOD! and yet, despite the shame, marries the heroine. Is this a 19th century trope, or a 19th century coincidence?

(Does one need to yell "spoiler!" when discussing books that have been around longer than my family has been in America ...? If so, I apologize.)

Also Inside Man, Friends With Money, The Mistakes Madeline Made, and Happy Endings. No time to comment on any of it! I've gotta go catch a plane and hang out in the heartland for next five days. If you've seen/read any of the above, feel free to post your own opinions in the meantime.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"... and reality has a well-known liberal bias"

If you have yet to see this clip, run, don't walk. Stephen Colbert does not speak Truthiness to Power so much as take Power to dinner, order the restaurant's most expensive bottle of wine, and then DUMP Power, LEAVING Power at the table WITH THE CHECK and spitting on power on the way out to pick up Power's hotter younger sister.

Mr. Colbert perserveres in the face of uncomfortable laughter from the audience and palpable tension in the room. You'll notice, after a while, C-SPAN even stops shuttling over to the President for the reaction shots. This is a performance of such bravura fearlessness (some might say, inappropriate fearlessness, in the face of the leader of the free world) it makes me nervous just watching it, but I imagine you have a stronger contstitution than I have. Try a glass of brandy to bolster yourself, just in case, or a like-minded website or two.

I don't know whose idea it was to tempt Mr. Colbert to do his thing in the presence of his favorite targets, but someone buy that idea-boy a hat and put it on my tab.