raybear: (tattoo)
I was feeling a bit lazy, but just convinced myself to cook a real breakfast this morning by telling myself it wasn't really cooking, I was just heating things in a pan, namely leftover brown rice and salsa (with two eggs in the middle). Then layer them together in a bowl. Bless that past self, because this is the most delicious breakfast ever.

So, a couple months ago my (great-)Aunt Margaret passed away, my father had e-mailed me about it. I didn't respond at the time, it was around the holidays and I'd made that decision. He e-mailed me a week and a half ago, a few line 'checking-in' e-mail. I wrote him back on Wednesday and told him about my layoff. It was partly to feel out whether I want to contact them about my impending visit. He wrote me yesterday to say Uncle Dub (Aunt Margaret's husband) has died that morning. That is last of my childhood elders. I've been grieving in small bits their loss for 8 years because of their absence from my life, and now its almost a relief, I feel reflective of their presence and the memories imprinted at a young age. Thinking about Uncle Dub specifically, and Aunt Margaret, I'm even realizing how their marital dynamic has similarities to my own. Also, I found it remarkable as a young child that they were the first male-female couple I knew where the woman drove the car all the time. I was never explicitly told that men have to drive or that women can't, but who needs to be told that is a rule when every example around you verifies this observation? I know it is generally the standard way that all children's brains work, studying closely the behavior of people around for clues on how everything works, but I always felt very aware of myself doing it, and doing it for longer and more intensely than others around me.

Last night was an unexpected friend sleepover involving tuna melts, peanut m&m's and the original Friday the 13th movie. J-Hud has never seen it, and I saw part of it at a slumber party when I was 10 or so and didn't recall much of anything about it. We screamed several times. I feel totally compelled to rent the sequel. This was "research" for going to see the remake next weekend -- I'm looking at a midnight showing on Thursday.
raybear: (Default)
My Y membership lapsed unintentionally this summer, when I went away to Ragdale, and when I came back, I started riding my bike to work most everyday, as well as everywhere else, so I just let it stay lapsed. Today I went and reactivated it, only at the Irving Park location, since I go there more often. And its $2 less a month. It made me so happy to be running on the machines and lifting weights amongst my favorite characters again. In the past month, I've still been somewhat active, at work practice every week, talking lots of long walks, etc. so I'm not totally out of shape, however, I am not in the shape I was when I left off doing my power superset workout I'd perfected this summer, courtesy of all my Men's Health reading. So now I'm at work and nothing hurts yet -- it just takes a lot of effort to do, oh, anything. I'm going again tomorrow, of course, because the physical pain/exhaustion is somewhat satisfying.

It is December already. I sort of hate when Thanksgiving falls so late in the month, it makes this time of year fly by even faster, the end of the year slipping off into the archives, but there's another part of me that is maybe okay with it whizzing past. This is the season of feeling feelings, and I'm trying to be better about the stuffing/swallowing/avoiding tactics, but still, there's always going to be an element of "hurry up and move on" in my nature. Thanksgiving itself was good, we had a great meal and good company and THREE homemade pies and a game of Apples to Apples and then nature porn. On Friday I saw Milk with good friends and hung out downtown afterwards, perusing the jazz record mart and getting a couple rounds of beers while talking about everything, then heading home in the cold, clutching my brown paper bag of records. It was just a good winter's night. Saturday, things started to catch up with me, I didn't want to be alone in the house with myself, so I was alone in the world with myself, which wasn't necessarily better, just easier. Though for two hours and 45 minutes, I was alone with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, and that was pretty great (I gush about it in more detail in my [livejournal.com profile] popnography review found HERE. Then I took a long walk down isolated industrial corridors, stumbling upon all sorts of finds, like giant scrap metal piles with crushed cars and washing machines. I met up with [livejournal.com profile] dommeyourass to see JARRED. Sunday was probably the most perfect day of the holiday weekend: sleeping in, reading in bed, wrote my movie review, turkey leftovers for brunch, catching up on 30 Rock, quality time on the futon with DYA, afternoon service at temple, quick visit with [livejournal.com profile] jethead and [livejournal.com profile] jessicaeve, sushi dinner with [livejournal.com profile] blondestallion, then phone conversation with [livejournal.com profile] vfc, which inspired me to take a bath before bed. I've talked to her on the phone 3 times since she's moved, which is practically a record for me.

I think my pre-new year's resolution (I tend to like to start in December to get a good test run in) is to be better about making phone calls, or rather, scratch that, that makes it sound completely unappealing -- instead let's put it as not being scared of phone calls. Its more fun to think of conquering a fear than avoiding an obligation, right? Really it boils down to not worrying about talking for shorter periods of time, with more frequency. I talk on the phone so infrequently, that when I do, its often a 1-2 hour deal, and so when I think about making phone calls, I think, geez, I don't know if I can commit to being on the phone for the next 2 hours. Oh wait, I don't have to. Just like I enjoy the great art of the 1 page typewritten letter, I'm going to pursue the great art of the 15 minute phone call. We'll see how this goes.
raybear: (tattoo)
Last night at 2:45 am I was woken up by a migraine-ish headache on the left side of my forehead. I stumbled around for awhile, trying to figure out if it felt better to stand, to sit, to lay down, to swallow tylenol, to eat. The last one was a bad decision, as a few moments later I puked all those raisins up (painful). But then I felt slightly better, enough to maybe fall asleep with the pain.

Then I slipped into a dream where I had a terminal disease that was somewhat common in society and had progressed to the point of this pain which meant it would only get worse from hereon out. Some people with it at this point would decide to commit suicide, to put themselves to sleep in a way, as there were underground circles you could hire to come over and inject you with a giant syringe of morphine. I had made an appointment to do just that. But then I missed the appointment, trying to run around and take care of all my outstanding business before dying, and in the midst of it, I came into the kitchen where [livejournal.com profile] dommeyourass was sitting, and I was going to tell her my decision, but before I could, she said, "look" and the kitchen window was open and on the branch outside were all these amazing colorful birds, and some of them would flit inside our house and I raised up my hands and made a whistle signal that bluebirds liked, and the bluebirds answered back. And we just stood in the kitchen and marvelled at these tiny beautiful lovelies. [In real life, I'm not sure how fond I'd be of live birds in my kitchen, but these seemed pretty chill and not circling around and panicking.] And I realized, that if I had made my appointment with morphine Dr. Kevorkian dude, I would have missed this moment of this day. Consequentially, I decided to wait awhile longer, that maybe there were more things to see in life.

I don't usually have such made-for-television inspirational dreams. I blame the movie Life Support which I watched last night. On the DVD was a preview for El Cantante which I totally want to watch despite all critical and musical response as being negative, but because I'm fascinated by film vanity projects. Or at least that's my explanation for why I watched Loverboy some months back.

Birds have been fairly prominent lately in my life, starting at Ragdale when one of my spouses was a birder and she'd go for morning walking with her book and binoculars, and I went out a couple times with her. Lots of the info from my ornithology class in high school, I remembered perfectly intact. I came home from the residency and shortly after learned that [livejournal.com profile] jethead also love birds, even gave me a lovely guide book. I bought two pairs of binoculars, one of them a monocular binocular (which is funnily enough, not an oxymoron) for our future bird-watching expeditions. We watched part of David Attenborough's The Life of Bird series last week, the section from the dhammapada I chose for the week was about birds leaving the lake, and after [livejournal.com profile] robobebe posted pictures of the wall stencil, I've been considering ones for the bedroom or living room, most of them concerning tree branches and silhouettes of birds. But it wasn't until I had such an obvious dream that I noticed.

I really miss seeing my California people this year, but I'm extraordinarily pleased about what is happening here in Chicago too. I'm headed to the store(s) shortly for thanksgiving meal ingredients. But I should maybe decide on the dishes themselves before I go shopping.
raybear: (sunglasses)
Last night after work I went to hang out with [livejournal.com profile] jethead and K and eat some dumplings and noodles and watch a goofy movie. Here is my review.

If the EPCOT Center.....

came to life and went on a rampage and ate a bunch of the museum displays in the Smithsonian Natural History museum......

and then got sick and puked them all up onto film, you would have:

It was pretty bad. But kinda awesome in how bad it was. Did they mean to make a really expensive B-movie? I don't know. Probably not, because then Darryl Hannah and Raquel Welch would have had cameos. That would have been my version, I suppose.
raybear: (red)
This probably isn't a huge surprise, but I really love Kate Bush. Well, I love Kate Bush's music. There is a documentary dvd something about her that's been on my netflix queue for years and it sometimes works its way close to the top, but I always bump it down. I think I worry it will be boring or tedious or she will somehow be even more weird that I already know her to be and will completely turn me off from her music. I have this with lots of creative mediums, when I get to know the artist exclusively through their work and not at all through their biography, and then I sometimes get scared to learn about their real-life at all and decide that really, its best to only absorb the art/music/words for what they are themselves and not know anything about the creator at all. Which completely contradicts the fact that are certain artists who I'm very intrigued and interested in not only their creative process but also their personal life. (This also reminds me of when [livejournal.com profile] wearemany visited and told me Chuck Palahniuk was gay and I was floored, even though I've read 2/3 of the man's catalog.) I'm a hermeneutics-relativist. I am also a big nerd because I just made up that term to describe myself. But that's not a huge surprise either.

I got home last night and felt super anxious about being home alone and no longer around people to distract me, so I watched a movie. Specifically I watched 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days which is maybe an odd choice to watch while feeling raw, but sometimes I feel like rather than distract in a light fashion, I'd prefer to just go all the way there and watch something brutal. And that movie is brutal, but not in the way I thought. I'd sort of been dragging my heels on watching it, kinda like I do with most movies in that category of 'should watch' but seem so emotionally pornographic and possible problematic for those reasons (e.g. Hotel Rwanda, Schindler's List, etc.) but this movie was not what I was expecting. I mean, its still wrenching, but for these different reasons, and it was powerfully done in ways that are not usually conveyed in films -- its not in the least bit histrionic, but its actually more painful because its really just staying in the moment of these people experiencing or absorbing trauma(s). I recently watched Michael Haneke's Funny Games, the american remake, and fck, that guy is brutal as a director. Brilliant, too, but at what cost? I don't know. But I'm realizing, oh maybe I like those movies. I mean, 'like' is a relative term. How can I say I 'liked' Dogville and Manderlay? Unless you defined the word 'like' as: I wanted to vomit then take a hot shower and/or kill myself afterwards but I can't stop thinking about the performances and ideas and stories AT ALL and I'm dying to talk about it with someone else who's seen it but I could never in millions and millions of years every recommend someone watch them. Then hell yeah, I 'liked' them. But anyway, 4 Months, etc. is intense but not nearly as assaulting as the other movies I've mentioned, and I appreciated the themes more and that it focused on a woman, on women, and that it wasn't totally misogynistic, which is often the problem with most brutal movies, they always seem to brutalize women unequally, which, even politics aside (which I don't think HAVE to be pushed aside either), creatively seems kinda lazy to me.

In Other NewsTM, I spent almost the entire weekend around people and I think it was sort of necessary because I was kinda freaking out after going to the doctor on Friday and he told me his assessment of my rash is that I have discoid lupus, which is essentially lupus of the skin, which is essentially my immune system is attacking my skin, which means I'm causing the rash myself. I'm mean, quasi-metaphorically speaking, as is my thinking on a bad day/hour. Its not confirmed, he took lots of blood to have myself tested (also for systemic lupus, which is generally what people mean when they say 'lupus'), and I still have a dermatologist appointment for next week (at a different place than the I-Don't-Know-What dermatologist of two weeks ago) and I suspect they will skin biopsy as well. But honestly, it kinda feels right. It explains the non-responsiveness to all antibacterial and antifungal type treatments. It explains why it receded when I got sick, then came back stronger after (because my immune system was too busy fighting the flu to fight my own skin, thanks). It explains the face rash on my nose and cheeks that looks completely different from the rash on the rest of my body. It explains the intense flares of it after being in the sun. It explains why it seems to be doing lots better after applying steroid cream once and doing lots and lots of moisturizing -- I had been letting it dry out last week because I thought the dampness was making it itchy, but drying turned out to make me feel more miserable. So now when you see me in person, I will conceivably smell like coconut, because I am in love with rubbing that isht all over myself to get rid of the dryness and smell delicious in the process. Its also nice to have found something that makes me feel more pleased about my body and not so dissociated, which is what has been happening the longer this rash has gone on. So, who knows maybe in two weeks I'll be writing on here again saying, wait, no, its not scarlet fever, nor fungal infection, nor discoid lupus, its _____. But I sure hope not. Because as scary and troubling as discoid lupus seems to me in certain moments (there is a small but not statistically insignificant risk that is could lead to systemic lupus), its certainly not as bad as other things. It will probably involve lots of topical steroids and maybe even oral ones for a short period to make this outbreak go away, and then just ongoing monitoring/prevention.

I am excited to someday soon have back that 35% of my brain and emotional energy that seems to currently be permanently devoted to this problem. I'm glad that at least I care enough about all of you to not turn this into a total rash blog.
raybear: (red)
I've stayed up late several times this week, not necessarily intentionally but just because I was going out and being social after work, but I did think, this will be good practice for my body on Thursday night when I'm going to see The Dark Knight! But I still wasn't sure this evening if I would make it, so I drank lots of yerba mate tea the hours before, and then I got a soda at the theater that I sipped slowly throughout the entire 2 1/2 hours, and then I biked home and I was all into it still, so I wrote the review, and now it seems I should go to bed, but I'm not actually sleepy. So my mission was accomplished a little too well. Plus, DYA is sleeping in the main bedroom tonight, because its the only room with a/c, and she's getting up at 4:45 for work, so now I'm like, hell, let's try and watch the last of An Affair to Remember and stay awake until she gets up, then I'll take her spot in the bed and begin my bedtime shift. No reason to drift off to sleep, only to be awakened 20 minutes later!

My review of the movie (which is pretty much sans spoilers) will probably get posted on Popnography sometime while I'm busy sleeping. Well, hopefully I'll be sleeping.
raybear: (sexy!)
I just bought a ticket for the Thursday night/Friday morning 12:02 am showing of The Dark Knight at City North 14 (the theater at Western, near Diversey), in case anyone else is up for the adventure and wants to join me and a theater full of other sexy nerds. I would advise buying a ticket, as the 12:01 am show sold out already.
raybear: (red)
My unofficial birthday weekend was quite lovely. On Friday, [livejournal.com profile] cocolola invited me to see a bad movie with her, which I jumped on. She treated me to candy, soda, and The Happening, which god help me, was really bad, but in that non-painful way where I totally enjoy myself the entire time. Its like Shyamalan has these good story ideas, and he has some technical prowess, but he lacks a good vision on the best way to implement it, they are so heavy-handed and obvious. I swear I'm probably going to end up seeing everything he makes though, they are entertaining failures to me.

After work, I met up with [livejournal.com profile] blondestallion and we headed up to Sidekicks for some karaoke-ing. It was a packed house already, with some birthday and work events, even before the singing started. I opened with Phil Collins "Don't Lose My Number" which I'd never done before and was feeling pretty good about it. So much so that when two songs later, someone from the birthday party was singing "On My Own" but they had not Michael Mcdonald on stage, so I went up to the front and when I started singing along, she waved me on stage. I can't even count the number of times (or people) I've sung "On My Own", but I'm not sure I'll ever get tired of it. We were instantly bff's. But then that bond was broken when my next song choice came on -- "Thong Song". I had a feeling that the crowd wouldn't be into it, they seemed way to sort of button-down and slightly conservative. Like, they went crazy for "I Will Survive", but they weren't so sure about my lascivious choice. Well, a couple people seemed excited, but they totally got shushed by their friends, so I kinda felt a bit like an ass up on stage singing a song that made people cranky. But I got over it and sang "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" with Chip's friend E, who has this aMAZing voice which was totally intimidating. Especially since she sang the Barbra part, which is normally what I do better anyway. But it was still fun. The wait between songs was long, I hung out with the darts players for awhile, I chatted with [livejournal.com profile] loosethread and [livejournal.com profile] femmepony, [livejournal.com profile] fuzzilla, other non-lj people, then finally I ended the night with Kenny Loggins "This Is It". [livejournal.com profile] blondestallion went out on "All Night Long" which was very well received by the crowd. We left, and it was way past our usual bedtime, but we ended up going to catch the end of Smoothtastic dance party, one of the parties to emerge from the yacht rock movement. I got home at 2:30 am and ate a slice of razzleberry pie (which I bought for myself on my birthday), along with chocolate ice cream before bed.

i suppose i should cut for neatness )
raybear: (scream)
The past couple weeks have been primarily about being kind of freaked out in my head when alone and sitting still, but okay when around people or in motion. So I've been fairly busy and social and moving at the gym or in the woods or on my bike, and all of those things have been amazing and fun. But one can only do those things for so long, other responsibilities come up, or just things like, night and being in bed and surrounding yourself with pillows to create a sort of soft nest to surround me and hope I fall asleep quickly, without too much time spent subject to my brain. But a couple things have made me happy while I'm alone, and they include:

1. Lars and the Real Girl. Well, first off, Richard Roeper hated it, so that says something in its favor. I've been mildly curious about this film, almost saw it when it was playing at the second run theater near my house but missed it. Then [livejournal.com profile] anjibobanji started talking about how much she loved it, that she's watched it multiple times, and so I bumped it up on the netflix queue. I watched it yesterday and I just loved it so much, it was unexpected. When the movie was over, I missed the characters. I'm also on season 2 of Big Love and feeling sort of similar, where I get really sad at the end of a disc, because I can't spend any more time with them.

2. Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches. Trader Joe's is not very convenient to me, and all of their parking lots are horrifically designed (every location in every city I've been to seems to have this problem), but I go specifically for their pear sauce, which is rare in other stores. I always buy two jars, sometimes three. They didn't have any yesterday. I was a pretty heartbroken. But then I got home and ate lunch and afterwards opened up a box of these ice cream sandwiches. When I was a kid, and I first saw the image of a "chipwich" on the ice cream truck, I was so excited. I loved chocolate chip cookies. I loved ice cream. I loved the idea of putting one between the other, and then adding EXTRA chocolate chips? Genius. Except then I had one, and the cookie didn't taste like cookie, the ice cream was that hard, dry cheap kind, and even the chocolate chips tasted fake. I've probably only had four chipwiches in my entire life, I was so disappointed. But these ice cream sandwiches from Trader Joe's are exactly how I dreamed those chipwiches would taste. The cookies are soft bakery style, the ice cream is perfect, the chocolate chips are real. It is perfect. There are only 4 in a box. I should have bought two.

3. I'm going to build my own house. Seriously. Ok, I'm eyeing the giant barn houses and loft houses, to create the super dreamhouse for our 5-10 acres in southwest michigan with [livejournal.com profile] dommeyourass, but the more realistic option is just build the one unit cabin on our property that comes with a house, so it will actually be more of a writer's studio, but I can't wait to sit on the porch out front in a rocking chair and be like, damn, I built this. Seriously. I'm building a fcking house. Ok, it'll be in a few years. But still.


I biked to work, because all this week its sunny and 70s, which is my ideal summer weather because its hot without sweltering. I didn't even bring a change of clothes, I figured I'd get a little sweaty but nothing unreasonable, so I was feeling pretty amused, biking to work in my dark dress pants and white checked button down shirt, then when this elderly woman smiled and waved at me along Milwaukee, I waved backed, but wondered what inspired the friendly outreach until it occured to me: I looked like a mormon guy on his mission.

The week before last, I went out for gelato with [livejournal.com profile] blondestallion and got a mix of two flavors: whiskey and salted peanuts. When I placed my order, when I was eating it, and also several times after when it came up in conversation (it was good gelato), I sang "salt peanuts! salt peanuts!" And every time, most people looked at me slightly startled/confused and then acted like I hadn't just done that. I mean, I know my brain is a sponge of random information. But still, sometimes I forget. Luckily I have a blog, so now everyone can know about Salt Peanuts and I will be less alone in the world.

raybear: (Default)
I arrived to work early for a meeting, only to discover that its tomorrow. This is not the end of the world, its only half an hour, but its an extra 30 minutes with my officemate who I'm still trying to negotiate a method for engaging with her that is the perfect intersection on the cost-benefit graph of least effort and least stress. The upside is that I'm finally prodded into to writing an entry. I don't usually go this long between substantial entries, until I'm on vacation, and maybe I sort of have been on vacation lately. Its summer here, I'm out of the house and in motion -- going to the gym 4x a week, doing lots of bike rides and walks inbetween. When I'm not, I'm absorbed in a movie or a book or writing in a paper journal or having long conversations with imaginary people and other weirdo stuff that other writers may or may not do, but let's talk about pop culture instead! I've seen a lot of movies in the past few weeks, including, but possibly not limited to:

Sex and the City, Nosferatu, Wild Strawberries, Everything is Illuminated, Zoo, Smiley Face, Death Becomes Her, Fido, Touching the Void, The Fall, Baby Mama, The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Movie**, Go, The Bucket List, Midnight Cowboy, The Day After**

[**: both of these movies were about revisiting specific images from childhood that I've been thinking about. It was very surreal watching Looney Tunes cartoons again.]

And right now I'm nearing the end of Bright Shiny Morning and while I don't love it quite as much as this woman, but I certainly don't hate it as much as this guy (who, incidentally, taught at my MFA program, though I never worked with him, only attended lectures). The latter review is interesting to me though, because I wanted to know what an Angelino writer would think of the novel, and Ulin certainly told me what he thought.

I'm also near the end of The Age of Innocence (a book about forbidden, furtive love and desire that goes completely unmentioned aloud until 2/3 in? Yes, please!! I am still so caught off guard by my taking to Edith Wharton) and I'm also reading Eckert Tolle's A New Earth, because, well, I'm intrigued by spiritual/self-help books in general, and ones that end up being read by millions of the general populace especially interest me. That dude sure uses the word "ego" a lot. I mean, that's the whole point of the book, I know, but still, sometimes when I'm reading, it feels more like an overused catchphrase by a member of Landmark or Scientologists or someone in a marketing department.

Coxy gave me a couple issues of the magazine Stop Smiling, and I've been reading the jazz issue, which made me pull out all my Ornette Coleman and want to go shopping for Eric Dophy records (which I can't do until Friday because I spent all my money this week on a spending spree at Bike Nashbar.com). I downloaded the new Martha Wainwright album and also the Dennis Wilson album which just got re-released, after reading an article in the airline magazine, actually. Both of them I started listening to on the bike ride (halfway) into work. I just now learned that Dennis Wilson and Christine McVie used to be together. The circle is complete!

This also reminds me that on Sunday, DYA and I walked to Wicker Park to get tequila cheeseburgers at Salud for dinner, and at one point she asked what I would do "when the apocalypse comes" as far as what vices would you allow yourself to indulge in without care or concern for well-being, and I really think I'd become a 24/7 stoner beach dude in southern california, but instead of surfing, I would just walk/bike along the beach, nap and drink tequila. I suppose this is a possible career choice now, but I'm not sure I could allow myself such luxury for a long period of time, only if I knew it was short-term. So maybe this is more my strategy for if I was diagnosed with a terminal illness, since I am the person who has books on "Peak Oil Survival" so that I'll know how to grow and store food when we're all living off the grid because the capitalist structure has collapsed and all fossil fuels have run out. I also acknowledge that to a certain extent, this is alarmist thinking. To me, its also almost wishful thinking. At least until I run out of electricity to play records or charge my ipod.

Oh, and I planted a few tomatoes again, in pots along the side of the building. This year, I only put one plant per pot, unlike previous crowding attempts last summer. I also need to learn the best way to prune, and perhaps between these two modifications, I'll end up with more than one fruit per plant per season. A slight exaggeration of last year's crop, but not by much.
raybear: (scream)
I've been thinking lately about my own rhythms and patterns and circadian cycles, and introversion, and how its sometimes hard for me to know, wait, where am I? Much like I had to learn to identify sadness and grief and anger, to differentiate from 'depression', I'm in a similar process with longer cycles. I began thinking about things in terms of tides, because I am woowoo, I am a Cancer and we are moonchild ruled by water, etc. etc. Also, I just like imagery. I'm drawing the lines of what is "low tide" and what is "taken out to sea" with the latter being a more pronounced period of depression and the former just being a mood for a week or two. Rather than try to change my high and low tides (which is probably impossible), I'm trying to look at what works best for each one, and working with those strengths, while also looking to stay anchored so I'm not completely drawn out into the sea (or beached, which I suppose if I'm staying with the metaphor, that is supposed to be a more manic period, which doesn't really fit, though sometimes AFTER a manic period I feel kinda beached. anyway....). Periods of low tide seem to be marked with higher consumption of movies and reading and music.

This current low tide is also marked with achey recovering body, first with my swollen knee of a couple weeks ago, now with strained back. They are active injuries, i'm still functioning, partly since the position that actually causes the most discomfort is sitting, but the injuries have also disrupted my habits, and another thing I keep re-learning is that ongoing minor pain wears down my defenses much more than I give it credit for doing, often until its too late. Today I went for a massage, which both helped and inflamed another region of my back. She also asked me questions that made me fear I actually had a much more serious injury than I initially thought last fall, perhaps it is a herniated disc of some sort. It is a frustrating process of healing, most everything I've read about backs says a large percentage of injuries self-heal within 2 weeks, but then again, the percentages are equally as large that once an injury has happened, it will be re-injured again and again. Ah, getting older. There are mental pleasures and physical drawbacks, but must the latter start so soon?

So here are some highlights so far from this recent (current) low tide.

Before the Devil Knows Your Dead: an intensely emotional character-driven family drama combined with a heist gone wrong? Yes, please! I can't believe this movie flew under the radar for me last year, I never heard anyone I know talk about it. Its on DVD now. In addition to the movie as a whole, I also keep thinking about the irish toast that the title is based on: may you be in heaven a full half hour, before the devil knows your dead.

Fun House (memoir by Alison Bechdel). This book has been well-reviewed by most every periodical as well as every person I know who's read it. That's a lot of hype. Guess what? It lived up to it.

New Amerykah, Part One (by Erykah Badu). When I went to Miami a couple months ago, I picked up Giant Magazine and there was an article with Erykah Badu. I loved her first album (and second live album) then she kinda lost me. I don't hate her, but I do roll my eyes at her a lot. This article made me intrigued again, so when her new album came out I downloaded it. I listened to it nearly a dozen times, usually while washing dishes or puttering around. I liked it, but nothing stood out. But sometime last week, late at night I was home and lying on the ground with my feet in a chair (see above, re: back pain) and I listened to it all the way through. Again. And again. Something clicked and now I think it might be kinda brilliant. Then at the same time I read Rich at FourFour's entries: http://fourfour.typepad.com/fourfour/2008/05/yes-siree.html

Note: there seems to be some controversy in the blogs about her line "so I salute you Farrakhan, yes, because you are me" in one song, and this annoyed me because 1) how come when a white guy says "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die" we don't denounce him and his album for being murderous, but also, 2) if you listen to that line in context, it doesn't really seem like to me she's holding him up as an example of perfection, but actually more of an example of imperfection, as we all are. But maybe I'm giving her too big of a pass, I will admit that's a possibility.

Last year I tried to get into Samuel Delaney, after reading a profile on him and having several people in my life who are big fans sing his praises. I found several of his books online, I tried to read Dhalgren, and I just couldn't get through it, I barely got into it at all. But yesterday I had this idea for a short story and the topic and structure seemed sort of...Delaneyesque, from the little I've been gleaning. So I decided to pick up Aye, and Gomorrah off my bookshelf and read a few short stories and maybe I could make it a sort of intentional writing exercise. I was wary at first, but I didn't need to be. I started the story "Star Pit" and I'm so engaged and compelled, I've been looking forward to my commutes this week.


I went camping last weekend and completed a 15 mile bike ride through big hills (I did not know south central Wisconsin has such ravines!) -- 7+ miles each way from the campsite to House on the Rock. That deserves its own entry, really. I also had a spiritual experience while sitting shirtless in the sun on a swingset, listening to Jeff Buckley's "Corpus Christi" and St. Vincent's "Landmines".
raybear: (Default)
I just realized that I'm drinking my favorite citrus power beverage (fresh juice of 1 grapefruit, 2 oranges, 1 lime, 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon of agave nectar), eating a piece of organic multigrain locally-produced wheatbread toast with avocado smeared on top, and listening to Shuggie Otis. All of these things happened individually and unconsciously, which sort of makes it more scary. I have been infected by California for real.

I watched The World According to Garp and that movie was weird. It was like a biopic of a fictional person. I know that sounds strange and could potentially describe the majority of movies, but I'm thinking specifically of the biopic formula which is the movie opening when the protagonist is born and then ends when they die as an adult. I found Robin Williams wildly inconsistent as an actor, sometimes really being great and other times being Robin Williams. And John Lithgow as Roberta wasn't horrible. I mean, she embodied some of the stereotypical ideas of transwomen (and feminine women), but on the other hand, she is shown playing football and there were no jokes about breaking nails, she interacts great with the kids and is treated as an aunt, no one in the movie ever called her by the wrong name or pronoun, and she didn't end up arrested, violated or dead. I'll take it.
raybear: (Default)
While living alone this week, I've been watching a lot of movies. I mean, I guess I watch a fair amount of DVDs on any given week, its just usually a large portion of these are whatever television show we're currently consuming. We finished up BSG right before she left and didn't start anything new, so I filled up the queue with random things only I would probably want to see. Then last Saturday, when hanging out with Liza, we watched the 1983 and 1983 Oscars (she found a vhs tape at a thrift store, and by the way, they were awesome) and I realized, wow, maybe not all movies made in the 1980s sucked.1 So then I promptly went home and filled up my house with movies that I either a) totally missed or b) I watched but I was so young I barely remember and/or I've forgotten most of them. I also went to the library this week and picked up more random movies. The result is a sort of mish-mash of titles. Here's what I've watched in the past week:

The Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Number 23
28 Weeks Later
Hysterical Blindess
It Happened One Night
Ordinary People

The weakest link in this chain was The Number 23, and it wasn't bad, it was just not that scary nor that twisty. It was about on par with an episode of Medium, really. 28 Weeks Later was not quite as good as the original, BUT, I appreciated that it tried to do something different and be its own movie.

It Happened One Night was filling in a gap of my film education, and its funny to watch old movies and suddenly realize, oooooh, THAT is what that reference is from. Its also sad to realize your brain is referencing an episode of "Who's the Boss?" This movie is sort of the original romantic comedy, the first one made after the institution of the Hayes code, and I must say, it still somewhat racy, all things considered. It made me go find a bunch of pre-Hayes Code movies and put them on my queue. I have several movie geek friends who have gone through their "watching a bunch of pre-code movies" phases and I wondered if I would have one. This might be it.

Hysterical Blindness is like a kinda fcked up short story that you don't necessarily love but can't stop thinking about the character afterwards. The Bourne movies endeared me, actually, though I couldn't tell if they were subverting gender psychological stereotypes or replicating them in a way that people think they are subversive when really they aren't. I'm probably overthinking it, because mostly I just enjoyed them and I must agree, Matt Damon does a good job creating and being that character. Because I don't really even notice Matt Damon in movies usually, but he carried the whole thing off well.

Pittsburgh was the sleeper of the bunch. If you find Jeff Goldblum remotely entertaining, and you like the Christopher Guest movies, you need to see this. This movie is what For Your Consideration should have been, as far as satirizing actors and hollywood. If Ocean's 11 et. al. is the pet project that all of the popular kids in Hollywood made while hanging out, this movie is the pet project of all the geeky art kids. Also, its about The Music Man, which I've never even seen, and I suspect if I had some past link to it, I would have loved the movie more.

Ordinary People. So Liza said to me, you HAVE seen Ordinary People, right? And I said, of course. And its true, I did, but I think I was maybe 10 and all I really remember about the movie is that my mom wasn't too fond of it. She preferred Terms of Endearment, which we probably watched both of them together at the same time, or maybe my brain just stored those memories in files next to each other. Maybe I'm even wrong about my mom disliking it, but in a way, it would make absolutely perfect sense that she did. Watching the movie now as an adult, I think it holds up pretty well, and its still pretty devastatingly awesome. I think I even had an epiphany or two. I definitely cried. Oh, the deep psychological trauma of middle class white people. It speaks to my upbringing, what can I say?

Tonight its either The Last King of Scotland or Stephanie Daley. I was really hoping The World According to Garp would have arrived, but it didn't come in the mail yet. I might need to up my horror fix too.

1: I don't totally think this, its mostly a reference that only [livejournal.com profile] thebrownhornet might remember, to a conversation/argument at a party YEARS AGO with his red-haired journalist friend where she tried to argue that "lots" of cinematic contributions were made in the 1980s and I argued that there wasn't more than 10. (I got an extra leg-up when I convinced her that movies released in 1980 didn't count, because they were made in the 70s.)
raybear: (sunglasses)
I just rewatched the movie Labyrinth, which I picked up on a lark at the public library. I've only seen it once before, back when it first came out, and I'm pleased to say that my response as a 30 year old is exactly the same as when I was 10:

What the hell was that?

Also, its possible I will spend tonight dreaming of fondling David's polyester package.
raybear: (red)
I just cried for 85 minutes straight -- a.k.a. watching the movie Once.

[I linked to the official site because you can download for free the oscar-winning song "Falling Slowly" which is also the song that kills me the most. You don't need the context of the movie at all to understand it, because there is no context in the movie, really -- the entire film is mostly about the act of songwriting and collaborating artistically and the connection that surrounds it.]
raybear: (Default)
I have this sort of complicated love/hate fixation with Rilo Kiley et al. and today on the bus ride home I had a realization -- listening to Jenny Lewis sing makes me want to be a woman. I texted this epiphany to the one person who I thought would understand this phenomenon best, and he wrote back "omg! me too!"

Yesterday I had a mostly zone out day, partly to practice for my vacation, I suppose. Partly the weather was crappy and I felt no inclination to leave the house at all. Except I needed quarters to do laundry. After a few hours, I managed to make myself walk to the currency exchange, and as a reward, rented two fluffy movies from the Redbox. I got The Invasion and Superbad, and I have to say, I actually enjoyed them both. I recommend low expectations and non-sobriety. I was really surprised by The Invasion, as it got horrid reviews, but I think if you are a fan of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers and movies of that time and genre, you can appreciate aspects of this new version. It was kind of a good bad movie. Like Transformers, which I watched last week. Because during all the really bad dialogue, I was cackling nonstop because they obviously took it DIRECTLY from the original cartoons.

I have a few things to finish up before vacation, but I have three days which is plenty of time to do it. Mostly I need to complete and send off this fellowship application. I've been working on tweaking the opening chapter of my novel, though I am feeling a bit torn about whether I send them 30 pages of this new work, which I'm more jonesed about but is much less polished, or 30 pages of my other novel which has some superb writing (um, if I do say so myself....I was meaning more in the revised, polished sense when I said it, but ok). Topically, I find it makes me skin crawl. I think I might do the latter only because they want to see what's representative of my work, there's no promise of what project I'm doing. But even the thought of opening up that document is making me queasy. I'll sleep on it. Maybe in the morning I will be kinder to it.

Four days! I leave Friday morning! I have new seersucker shorts to wear! And vacation boxers! I still need to buy suntan lotion.

Also, I know everybody's doing it, but I do like this Vampire Weekend record. I also like the new Cat Power too. There, I said it. Between this and the Jenny Lewis confession, I feel so much better.
raybear: (Default)
I spent all of last week exceedingly anxious. I thought it was cabin fever, SAD, lots of snow, etc. etc., but then finally on Friday I realized, wait, I started feeling depressed early in the week, so I took more SAMe in the morning and I think that was perhaps what was messing me up. So I was still immobile and paralyzed, but not out of lethargy or feeling down, but from jittery reeling mind and inability to concentrate or focus. I went back to regular dosage on Friday and I've been better since. Then again, it was also the weekend, which might have helped.

It has still been a high anxiety weekend in the house, because DYA is doing her first closing argument for a jury trial, but we are surviving. We vegged out on Friday, then on Saturday I went on another date with Cupcakes Malone while she stayed home to work. It was another frigid day here, so of course it is all over the news, during every conversation, and effects random planning because of abilities to get out of icy parking spot or whether the trip is long enough that the key will be able to come out of the ignition.

On Friday night we watched six, SIX, episodes in a row of Friday Night Lights. I normally can't do that many in a row, after 4 I start to get agitated or asleep. But this time I hardly noticed. And now I"m all sad that its over and I miss the characters. On Saturday morning we watched The Lives of Others and I know I'm in the minority for the most part, but I thought it wasn't very good. I mean, it was well made and well acted and well executed, but there were plotholes I could walk through plus I found that structurally the movie was really sexist, which I wasn't really expecting at all - especially since I heard so many good things and was looking forward to it. spoiler stuff in case you've seen it and want to know what I'm talking about )
I'm sure lots of people disagree or didn't see that or feel that way, but oh well, lucky me, I guess.

Was it just me or were the Grammys weirdly awesome this year? I turned them on at the very beginning, thinking they would occupy 10 minutes while eating dinner, and I stayed for the entire 3 1/2 hours.
raybear: (scream)
I had to go back and seen when I last posted, I couldn't remember. This is going to be one of those "and then I did this, and then I did this" entries, because I don't have any specific topic or anecdote to relay, but if I keep not writing, then more time will pass and the gap will get longer and actually the "And Then I Did This..." are mildly interesting for me to re-read years later because I forget about things I've done.

On Friday night I left work and went over to [livejournal.com profile] vfc's house to 'pre-party' before the show at Schuba's to which I had won tickets. I drank a lot. A lot. I mean, maybe not that much more than a regular evening that I have decided to Do Some Drinkin', but I did all of it in the span of 2 hours, instead of 4-5. I will say, being drunk did make being up front and the loud rock way more enjoyable. Because I am generally a crotchety old man, not hardcore, never have claimed to be. But I can have my moments, I suppose. After the opening band, Teenage FBI (GBV tribute band from Nashville), we went out to the front bar and pretty much decided then we weren't that concerned about making it back inside for the Pixies tribute band. We were chatting it up with a couple people and around the time this picture was taken, I realized, whoa, I am druuunk. Looking at it, you can see why I felt that -- the telltale red face and even droopier eyelids than usual. I was slightly alarmed by it so I must go home RIGHT NOW. I left about 3 minutes later. I sat on the bus stop and watched the smokers outside, realizing for the first time that the smoking ban will change the landscape a little, to match NYC and California.

I staggered home, literally -- I was kind of cracking myself up at my own weaving walk, in between whispering gratitude that I made it this far without self-injury, while also marvelling at the body and mind's ability to care of itself while so offkilter. I woke up the next morning and went to the gym. First, I put a ham in the oven, then I went to the gym with [livejournal.com profile] unscrambled and [livejournal.com profile] keetbabe and then I came home and ate the ham, which I was so concerned of it drying out, but instead, with the frozen pineapple in the pan and the tightly covered foil, it sort of exploded a little with moisture. But tasted good. We ate it and watched lots of CSI. Then we went to Links Hall for Method to Madness. Then to a bar afterwards where I put a dollar in the jukebox, but only got one song, but that's ok, I spent most of the time talking to Jyldo and Brad. I drank only soda, as the thought of alcoholic beverages made my stomach turn. We came home and watched more CSI.

I slept in yesterday and wished we had biscuits to eat with the ham. I thought about going to the store, but then realized, wait, I have flour and butter and milk and baking powder, I'm going to just make drop biscuits. They were most delicious right out of the oven, but I'm having a couple now for breakfast and they aren't too bad either. Then I spent an hour playing all my scrabulous games that I had been neglecting for two days. Then I watched the Simpsons movie. And I thought about [livejournal.com profile] thirdreel's assessment of it, which is that if you love Simpsons (the TV show), you will love the movie. If you kinda like Simpsons, you will kinda like the movie. If you hate Simpsons, you will hate the movie. I used to love Simpsons (the show), but now I just really like it, I guess, even though I haven't watched much of the past couple seasons. I ended up really liking the movie.

Then I took the dog for a walk and got her muddy. Then I came home and bathed her, which she was overdue for anyway. Then we watched more CSI. Then I read a bunch. Then we watched the movie Waitress which was quite charming, though I thought just a tad overlong in certain sections, which I only mention because in my opinion it would have possibly been absolutely perfect at 89 minutes, instead of 112. But still, it was quite good and I got a little teary-eyed watching the memorial for Adrienne Shelly afterwards. Then I finished my book This Breathing World and maybe didn't really like it that much, though was compelled by it during it. It was weird and dark and sexual and horrifying in ways I often like my books, but I wasn't terribly satisfied with interconnection of the stories, it got too sci-fi in its quasi-explanation, even though I think it was instead trying to tap into some idea of universal consciousness/muse. I don't know. It felt good to be reading a novel again, mostly. I've been out of the habit, outside of short stories, essays, small things.

And now here I am, finishing my coffee, slightly wonky from fumes of the cleaner used in the bathroom, going to the dentist shortly to have my permanent crown put on, then the gym, maybe a million other errands too. Also, its 60 degrees today. And it was yesterday too. Its weirding me out.
raybear: (Default)
Now is the time of movies. I have seen a lot lately, even more than planned because of the ice storm yesterday which kept us housebound with a box of fried chicken.

In the past eight days, I watched the following:

1. No Country for Old Men. Very, very good, though I wasn't crazy about the ending. Nothing happened that bothered me narratively speaking, it just didn't all feel entirely necessarily. At one point I was like, jeezus, why haven't the credits rolled? We're still here?? Then it finally ended. But for the most part, I feel like it was a perfect companion piece to Blood Simple, which is better executed, but this one is more ambitious and compelling.

2. Across the Universe. Yes, the Beatles musical one. But c'mon, it was playing for $3 at the theater 3 blocks from my house, I needed to get out of said house, and DYA and I were both kinda curious about it. We like musicals. The funniest part for me was during some scene with naked women in body paint doing choreographed moves on water, immediately following some scene with puppets, I thought, damn, why are you trying to be Julie Taymor?? Except then the movie ended and I realized, oh, duh, Julie Taymor directed this. Nice to have a recognizable style, I suppose. This movie is....um, kind of the Golden Book Series version of the 60s, with every single associated trope stitched together. But the song choices were good and it was never painful for me. I just was never moved or wowed. I place it below Moulin Rouge for sure....and possible below the Bee Gees version of Sgt. Pepper's - the problem with this comparison is that I LIKED this latter movie, except the last time I saw it I was 9 or 10, so I don't necessarily trust my critic from back then.

3. Dogville. I can't stop thinking about this movie. And its a movie that if you don't know what it is, I can't say I recommend it, but if you already had an inkling of an interest in it, then do it. I'm watching Manderlay soon.

4. The Namesake. Despite the preview, this movie isn't just about the son Gogol, its just as much about the mother, and I was glad actually. I mean, he did a great job at capturing the character, but that character isn't necessarily an appealing person I wanted to be around for a lot of this movie of him trying to figure things out. This movie is on par with lots of Mira Nair's movies -- sweet, thoughtful, artfully done in traditional ways. Hints of complexity, but nothing terribly challenging, so they are solid, good, entertaining, moving, and easily palatable movies, but then I usually forget them all after time passes. Also, this maybe isn't the best time of year for me to watch touching, hopeful movies about how amazing parents are. Which is why it was good for me to follow this with.....

5. Mildred Pierce. DB gave me a copy of this months ago, as its her favorite noir movie, maybe one of her favorite all time movies, and I popped it in last night on a whim. Joan Crawford was great, there were some hilarious moments and lines, it was totally compelling and fun and kept me guessing until the end. Some surprising conversations about class and marriage, from what I expected. Eve Arden is awesome. And the daughter is so evil, but in a way that its fun to hate her so much.

6. Margot at the Wedding. This movie is more brutal than The Squid and the Whale. If you like movies with smart, fcked up, complicated monstrous characters doing honest and heartbreaking and mean things to each other, then having a mini-catharsis, then going right back to doing horrible things, then this is a movie for you! I decided that Noah Baumbach is like Nicole Holofcener squared, with a filter through Wes Anderson (not in a bad way, mostly just aesthetically).

I thought it was more than 6 movies, but I guess this is right. Plus, the 4 episodes of CSI. We are watching the beginning of season 7, and the opening two parter was sort of grueling and at one point I got a exasperated and said, "you know if I never see [recurring side character who's related to a main CSI] ever again on this show, I would be just fine" and then 20 minutes later he GOT SHOT AND KILLED AND THE EPISODE ENDED. I should talk to the TV more often.
raybear: (Default)
I woke up this morning to a grayed out window and strange plinking noises -- hail striking the glass, I realized after fully becoming cognizant. It's snowy and slushy and has been all morning. I called and cancelled my dentist appointment, choosing instead to stay inside and do my reading for the weekend workshop. But first I ate breakfast of leftover chinese takeout and watched The Illusionist. I had watched The Prestige a couple weeks ago. My friend Steve has a theory that whichever movie people see first, they like better, and so far, he seems to be right. DYA saw Illusionist first and preferred it, I saw Prestige first and preferred it. It makes sense, because seeing one means you can guess the ending of the other one sooner, not because they are really the same, but you're just in the mindset (kinda like watching lots of episodes of CSI). There are other reasons too, though.

cut for significant spoilers of both )
I'd be curious to know if others saw both movies, and in which order, and which they liked better.

Now I'm thinking about why sometimes I like stories/art that are perhaps less 'original' but are extremely well executed, but othertimes I prefer things that are new and mind-twisting to me, even if they are messier and less complete.

May 2010

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