Friday, July 25, 2008

We can't all save the world.

Several items, in no particular order:

  • Pluots are delicious.

  • Age of Conan needs too many improvements to be worthy of my time.

  • Given that the new UMKC residence hall, Oak Place, has about 18 different paint colors on the inside, I've officially dubbed it "The Amazing Technicolor Dream Dorm."

  • Ben Folds at the Uptown in October? Maybe? Please? I'd like to not have to travel for show # 10.

  • Note to potential job applicants: if you list "conflict management" on your resume, it should not refer to hardware device conflicts. Mmmmkay?

  • Getting new carpet in the house on Monday... I hate moving furniture... this weekend could potentially suck, but hoping for the best.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Getting Through Sundays by Sonia Gernes




Getting Through Sundays by Sonia Gernes
The ghosts of Sunday are small.
Even as a child you felt the gap
in the afternoon, the restlessness
you could not exorcise, tipping dominos
in your grandmother's house, the men
snoring in their chairs, the women smiling
like sisters-in-law. It was a space
too pale to be labeled grief, a concave fret
of something missed, as though
you knew in advance the lovers
you'd lose, the clocks that would tick
long past their last winding. Once

in a high coastal town, the future
beckoning across the bright water,
you waited through Sunday anesthetized,
while up in the turret, a window dropped,
trapped a hundred butterflies
who died there in the sun.
the next day was dark.
You swept frail and folded corpses in a dustpan,
threw splinters of flight to the wind.

Now you listen to the radio,
to rain that falls on all of Indiana.
You pick dead leaves from your plants,
think of all the letters you owe,
and how strange you feel—as though
some hollow behind your eyes
were suddenly enclosed—as though
under your skin, vaporous wings
stirred, stuttered awake, and rose.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Which is the Way To Normal?

I've been seriously geeking out on Ben Folds recently. He's got a new album coming out at the end of September (Way To Normal), but last week, a leaked version of the album showed up on line.

The weird part is that while he's been performing versions of his new material in concert all year, the versions of those songs on this leak are totally different. Some of the tracks are almost certainly real, especially the Regina Spektor-backed track, You Don't Know Me. Others have the same titles as ones he's been performing (The Bitch Went Nuts, Free Coffee) but aren't the same songs that we’ve heard live. Still others are way out in left field and, while hilarious, are not necessarily album-worthy.

So what’s the deal with Way To Normal? My personal theory is that this is a glorious hoax designed to keep us guessing. I think we’ll see some of these on the real release, but the others are just happy little gems. I don’t think it’s out of character for a guy with a wicked sense of humor and a recording studio to put out “fake” tracks.

I’d link to the download, but cease and desist notices are flying, so it’s up to you to track it down if you’re interested.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bali Hai Calls Mama by Marilyn Nelson



As I was putting away the groceries
I'd spent the morning buying
for the week's meals I'd planned
around things the baby could eat,
things my husband would eat,
and things I should eat
because they aren't too fattening,
late on a Saturday afternoon
after flinging my coat on a chair
and wiping the baby's nose
while asking my husband
what he'd fed it for lunch
and whether
the medicine I'd brought for him
had made his cough improve,
wiping the baby's nose again,
checking its diaper,
stepping over the baby
who was reeling to and from
the bottom kitchen drawer
with pots, pans, and plastic cups,
occasionally clutching the hem of my skirt
and whining to be held,
I was half listening for the phone
which never rings for me
to ring for me
and someone's voice to say that
I could forget about handing back
my students' exams which I'd had for a week,
that I was right about The Waste Land,
that I'd been given a raise,
all the time wondering
how my sister was doing,
whatever happened to my old lover(s),
and why my husband wanted
a certain brand of toilet paper;
and wished I hadn't, but I'd bought
another fashion magazine that promised
to make me beautiful by Christmas,
and there wasn't room for the creamed corn
and every time I opened the refrigerator door
the baby rushed to grab whatever was on the bottom shelf
which meant I constantly had to wrestle
jars of its mushy food out of its sticky hands
and I stepped on the baby's hand and the baby was screaming
and I dropped the bag of cake flour I'd bought to make cookies with
and my husband rushed in to find out what was wrong because the baby
was drowning out the sound of the touchdown although I had scooped
it up and was holding it in my arms so its crying was inside
my head like an echo in a barrel and I was running cold water
on its hand while somewhere in the back of my mind wondering what
to say about The Waste Land and whether I could get away with putting
broccoli in a meatloaf when

suddenly through the window
came the wild cry of geese.

I feel like I should write something...

... but I don't know what. How’s about I post a bulleted list instead? Why a bulleted list? Why NOT a bulleted list – that’s the question.
  • I'm tired of summer already. To quote the fabulously fey Cole Porter, it's too darn hot. Not only that, but now that I've finally figured out how to drive my car to get over 50mpg, the fracking air conditioner jacks with everything and lowers my mileage by a significant amount. Okay, so 49.1mpg may not seem that significant, but anything below 50 irks me sumpthin’ fierce anymore. I sound like a Clampet. Go rustle me up some grub, Jethro!

  • It looks like Wordpress is in need of another upgrade. Oh, the joys of that. I’ll break the bad news to Mr. Awesome later this week.

  • Finn gets to start puppy classes this Saturday. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the class starts at 8:30 in the morning. Me and my sleep schedule have got to make peace up in here, or there’s gonna be some trouble.

  • I’m closer to perfecting my pineapple orange chicken recipe. One day, I’ll post it. 

  • If you haven’t already, go check out Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Joss Whedon of Buffy and Firefly fame has created an on-line sci-fi musical about a wannabe super-villain who's trying hard to get into the Evil League of Evil. Oh, and the most talented actor in the universe stars as Dr. Horrible. YOU GO NOW!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Friday Feast - the lazy man's blog post.



Appetizer
When was the last time you had your hair cut/trimmed?

I think around the beginning of May. I really need get it done again soon.

Soup
Name one thing you miss about being a child.

I miss not having to be responsible for anything. Stuff just magically got done when I was a kid.

Salad
Pick one: butter, margarine, olive oil.

Margarine - it's the only one that doesn't belong in my kitchen.

Main Course
If you could learn another language, which one would you pick, and why?

I would love to learn Japanese. One day, we hope to visit there, so knowing the language would be a bonus. I love the look and sound of the language.

Dessert
Finish this sentence: In 5 years I expect to be…

I don't know. I wish this one replaced "expect" with "want" or "would like" because "expect" almost has a conceit to it that I don't feel comfortable with. If "expect" were replaced with "want" my response would be "breathing and happy."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My dog is famous on teh internets.

Finn, our fabulously adorable puppy, is the Puppy of the Day over at The Daily Puppy.

She's very excited about it. I hope the fame doesn't go to her head. We'll probably get home from work to find her demanding raw stew meat instead of dry dog food.



Damn, she's cute.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Alone in the universe.

I sort of feel like Elaine Benes after she saw The English Patient.

We saw WALL-E on Saturday. Spoiler Alert, btw. I had really high hopes after David Edelstein's glowing review ("I envy you the first time through: 93 minutes of wonder to come" is about as high a recommendation a film can receive, imho), but I'm sorry to say that I was not blown away by WALL-E. I thought the animation of the robot WALL-E was incredible, and the visual effects, particularly reflections, were stunning, but I thought the story left much to be desired.

I'll give it to them - the opening sequence, where strains of Hello, Dolly! took on an entirely new meaning, were just spectacular and set the scene for great things to come. For a while, great things did happen, but then not so much.

I had momentary flashbacks to the first third of I Am Legend, which had Will Smith's character alone in Manhattan, and recalled Kottke's thoughts on that film: "I would have been satisfied with three straight hours of how Neville spends his time in Manhattan wilderness, alone, procuring supplies, checking buildings off of his scavenging list, visiting the MoMA to get new art for his walls, collecting iPods for "new" music, etc." That's how I felt about WALL-E. The scenes where he is on Earth, alone or with EVE, were my favorite parts. I would have loved more exploration on that. However, once WALL-E gets to the space ship, the story sort of fell apart for me.

If the autopilot had already been given the directive that they weren't to return to Earth, why continue to send probes? Why keep all the mechanisms that could test for viable life signs in tact? Story points aside, the animation of the humans seemed like an afterthought - they all looked the same. I know that there are only so many ways to depict fat, lazy humans, but I really felt like that was an animation cop-out - the Earth scenes were so brilliant and detailed that they made the space ship scenes feel cheap.

I loved Ratatouille, and had similar love-hopes for WALL-E that just didn't pan out. Now, before you go an say that I didn't "get it," I did. (Quick interjection - when I was in high school, I saw Will Rogers Follies, and didn't really like it. A guy who saw it at the same time said that I didn't like it because I didn't "get it." That pissed me off something fierce - I "got it," I just didn't like it. Music was good, acting was good, story was good, dancing was good, but all together, it just didn't mesh for me and while I was glad to have seen it for the sheer pleasure of seeing a musical, I wouldn't pay to see it again unless Will Rogers himself was slapping on a hat and dragging his carcass across the stage. But I digress.) I understand and even applaud the message in WALL-E. But as a story goes, the love story part worked for me, but the"villian" part didn't. Was it still better than most movies I've seen in a theater? Yes. I didn't leave, or feel like I wasted my money. But Ratatouille had big (if small) shoes to fill, and WALL-E doesn't have big (or small) enough feet.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Things I learned on my 4th of July vacation.

Presumably, roving bands of gypsies travel the streets of Kansas City, picking up just about everything left out for heavy pick-up prior to the designated pick-up date. The gypsies garnered the following haul from our pile of (to us) junk:

  • A rusty Simpsons Weber grill complete with cover

  • A broken hose winder thing and pain-in-the-ass hose

  • A banged-up bird cage complete with some shabby toys

  • An entertainment center that we took apart in order to get it to the curb, and were kind enough to painstakingly put back together in order to appeal to said gypsies
There are some things that even gypsies won't take, like the two old litter boxes, and a broken plastic table. Picky, picky.

Oak Grove Park had a really nice fireworks show. I've heard some complaints that the fireworks weren't shot high enough, but we had an absolutely perfect view. Mr. Awesome took some really good pictures:








It's almost like being there, only not as loud, and without the bug bites.

I've lived in Kansas City all my life and have dined at the 75th Street Brewery many times. However, I had not experienced the pleasure of their Royal Raspberry Wheat beer until this past weekend. While I love the darker varieties, this was refreshing and wheaty with enough of a raspberry hint to keep it interesting. Delicious.

Pigeons by Lisel Mueller



Like every kingdom,
the kingdom of birds
has its multitude of the poor,
the urban, public poor
whose droppings whiten
shingles and sidewalks,

who pick and pick
(but rarely choose)
whatever meets their beaks:
the daily litter
in priceless Italian cities,
and here, around City Hall—
always underfoot,
offending fastidious people
with places to go.

No one remembers how it happened,
their decline, the near-
abandonment of flight,
the querulous murmurs,
the garbage-filled crops.
Once they were elegant, carefree;
they called to each other in rich, deep voices,
and we called them doves
and welcomed them to our gardens.