Friday, June 26, 2009

Let's dig up the map and / let's leave while we're happy

1) I think we all know in advance that nothing I can possibly post will be as enjoyable as Rebecca's recap of her extended family reunion this weekend. So I won't even try to make this good.

2) It occurs to me that we've had triple-digit temperatures pretty much every day for the past two weeks (yesterday was 106, by the way) and I haven't ONCE used this blog as a forum to air my weather-related grievances. I'M GETTING SOFT!!!!!!!

3) Today I received an email from a local organization inviting me to join them at a benefit performance "for a hilarious night of comedy and caring." Just like that Simpsons where Principal Skinner welcomes everyone to a wonderful night of "theater and picking up after yourselves." I can't decide which event I'd rather go to.

4) Speaking of Simpsons, we just got a new flat-screen tv, which -- with our usual impeccable timing -- was almost instantly followed by the loss of every single one of our local stations except for Fox. EXCEPT FOR FOX. WHY DIGITAL CONVERSION WHY. However, this has resulted in an exponential increase in our Simpsons-watching, so I guess it's not entirely a bad thing. At least I never actually used to watch our old tv so I don't know what I'm missing. Poor Richard is still detoxing from the abrupt loss of "Ellen."

5) I'm taking an adult education intro to Spanish class at the community college, which is chock full of the usual random assortment of people who take adult education intro to Spanish classes (the old man with the crewcut who sits in the front row, the guy who works for Time Warner and wants to be able to understand his customers when they tell him to go away and come back next week, the girl whose parents are Colombian and Mexican but who doesn't know how to spell or conjugate anything, the insufferable hippie lady in the batik sundresses, the earnest white guy who wants to raise his daughter to speak Spanish, the confused lady who's taking this class for the second time because she didn't understand anything the first time, etc). I'm hoping some good stories will ensue... I'll keep you posted.

I'll close with a recently-unearthed shot of our heroes (that's right... R, me, and Rad) taken by Jim O. at South by Southwest in March. Happy weekend!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Speaking of John Prine...

By a fountain back in Rome I fell in love with you
In a small cafe in Athens you said you loved me too
And it was April in Paris when I first held you close to me
Rome, Georgia, Athens, Texas and Paris, Tennessee

3 impossible things before, well, not breakfast, but dinner!
1) I actually packed for my trip LAST NIGHT.
2) I finally made the first jam of the season (ginger loquat).
3) We managed to round up the whole household (for those of you keeping track we're up to three adults, 2 pooches, and one baby) for a short hike up on Skyline.

Now I'm off on a red eye to Rome!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On the subject of Rebecca's nightmares...

While Rebecca was busy being terrified by I, Robot and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I dreamed last night that I asked Princess Di to marry me, and she accepted. She had just found out she was somehow scandalously pregnant so I seized the opportunity to pop the question, having been in love with her for years and knowing that she would need someone to take care of her and legitimize the pregnancy (um, you can work the social and biological mechanics of that one out yourselves).

Disturbingly cute, or adorably creepy? You decide.

Because it's never too late for excessive book lists. Best of 2008.

Huh. So we're getting on to that time of year when I traditionally post my midterm review of books. (Traditional in that I've done it almost twice now.) I figured I better finish reviewing my favorites of 2008 first. (Not to be confused with the mere Compleat and Chronological Record of Books.) Imagine my surprise to discover that... I already wrote an elaborate review post? In February?? But never posted it???

Don't question it, Rebecca.


My favorite book of 2008? Still

" can say it's about fathers and sons and faith, but ultimately it's a meditation on a life well lived. And reading about John Ames' life is like looking at some marble sculpture or other fine work of art that seems to have sprung to life fully formed, totally independent of any writer's craft."
Only enhanced by the fact that MR came out with a sequel and Inder and I got to hear her speak.

All the 5 star reads. In chronological order. Links to my overwritten reviews with selected teasers.
Bound For Glory by Woody Guthrie "There's not much music in here until the end, but his story itself reads as this jaw-dropping rambling epic earthy American folk ballad."
Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce "a sort of modern parable that's hilarious and quirky and honest and morally challenging."
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan "He may have written Omnivore's Dilemma with no agenda in mind, but in its aftermath he's gamely stepped up as the food prophet everyone wants him to be."
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon "I mean, comic books don't really do it for me, despite my best efforts, so I thought this homage might be wasted on me. But Chabon somehow captured that larger-than-life essence and channeled it into a plain old novel."
The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis "one of my favorite young adult books, but I hate the title. It screams A Very Special History Lesson. When in fact there's surprisingly little mention of the civil rights movement... it's just a funny and moving take on one loving family and how they deal with raising their boys..."
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss "It leaves me with a yearning to put words down on paper, to have the kind of love affair Krauss' characters have with their books-within-the-book."
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth "not because it was imperfect but because it's unlike anything else I've ever read, and it didn't hurt that it pushed all KINDS of buttons for me... alternate history, american identity politics, original explorations of holocaust material."
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick "Nail bitingly riveting deeply philosophical post-apocalyptic noir? More, please."
Roots by Alex Haley "Cultural memory is huge and mysterious and powerful."

Assorted Praise/Condemnation
Best audiobook: Millions "I've said it before and I'll say it again. Audiobooks with British accents. Accept no substitutes. And ooh - an audiobook within an audiobook! I've never come across that before."
Guiltiest Pleasure: Tie between Choose Your Own Adventure, The Boy I Loved Before, and Vulcan Academy Murders
Most unsettling but uncompromisingly stunning prose: Lolita
Best unpublished manuscript emailed to me by author: Music of the Spheres, the book that was supposed to be Probe.
Most irritating slang: tie between Define Normal ("cronk") and Bud, Not Buddy ("whoop zoop sloop")

2009 resolutions

•More! More! More!
•Stop getting taken in by every Tom, Dick, and Harry fantasy/ya/chick-lit with a hint of scifi and just read some classic scifi already.
•Read at least one book in Spanish.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Counting the days... til school starts again?

School's really out now. Extra week of training and all. The parents fed us so well, I don't think any of the teachers/staff could eat dinner the last few weeks. I of course spent way too much time picking out some special summer reading presents for the kids I work with most because that's what I do. But most of the kids ended up LOVING their books beyond anything I expected. One of them proclaimed "That's my favorite book!!!" (Nate the Great) and insisted on reading it while walking back to class. My two newcomer girls (they of the artwork) were so enamored of reading their new books and their first time playing bingo that we had an extra class by popular demand. Afterward one of them sighed wistfully, "This was the BEST day!"

GAH! The preciousness of these children! I haven't been this sad about the end of school in a LONG time. Seriously, I have the easiest and most rewarding job. ever. Have I mentioned how excited I am to start out next year in the new building in a real classroom with real training and materials from day one? And with kids that I get to keep for a whole year??

In other news.
I exposed myself to WAY too much creepy thinky scifi yesterday (read a chunk of I, Robot and saw Moon with Natalia.) So far no more nightmares.
I am kicking off the summer travel season with the Morrison family reunion in Rome, GA this weekend.
I have a date with the other Natalia to pick berries and make jam next week! Hopefully I'll get around to the loquat jam today/tomorrow so I'm not so rusty.

Note to self / questionable shoe math: The next time you accidentally order two pairs of the exact same tevas and then forget to return one pair for over a year, don't donate it to Goodwill. Because no sooner will you do that than Crouton will eat one of the identical shoes and you'll go from having 2 pairs to 1/2 pair, which is to say zero pairs. (Clearly it's also Crouton's fault that I immediately went online and bought not 1 but 3 new pairs of replacement shoes.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Jon Stewart, american hero

*Pops in just to be that obnoxious blogger who embeds pointless tv clips* But sometimes sacrifices must be made in the name of patriotism. If you watch carefully (starting at 3:12) you'll catch Jon defending our most hallowed government institution! (Hallowed by me, anyway...)

"By the way, why are you sh%#@ing on the post office? For 44 cents, someone comes to your house, picks up some piece of crap you wrote, and takes it to Wyoming on a plane."

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Heal or No Heal
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran

Friday, June 12, 2009

Happy Digital Conversion Day

rip old friend

But please disregard my previous advice and do not blow up your tv. It's still good, it's still good...

Monday, June 08, 2009

A hair-cuttin' kinda Sunday

The before shot, the hose-down, the audience, the barber, the apprentice, the results!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man

We blew up our T.V., threw away our paper
Went to the country, built us a home
Had a lot of children, fed 'em on peaches
They all found Jesus on their own

I didn't actually go to the country, but I did go down to Monterey where my mom had a conference. And I did listen to a lot of John Prine on the way. Touristy town but gorgeous landscape that made me nostalgic for my days in Santa Cruz. Took a short hike to the beach. Ate way too much good food, especially at La Bicyclette. (Organic produce provided by the local middle school garden! A tiny room, a fixed seasonal menu of salad, soup, and entree. The food was really simple but hands down the most perfectly prepared I've had in years. My mom and I even ate RAISINS and liked it!)

Also did not blow up my tv. Like Omie I curled up with the remote, because that's what you do in hotels. The only thing on was the Andy Griffith show marathon. (Opie got his first shiner!)

The housemates didn't know where I had run off to and thought I died. (I left a note! A nooooooote!)

4 more days of school. I'm helping run the book fair and attending lots of parties.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

I haven't done any "File Under..."s for a while

As the blog header promises, I'm a little punchy from excessive traveling and work craziness, so let's get to it and see what turns up. In alphabetical order, we have:

ADVICE, FREE: Never accidentally schedule your 5-day vacation to end 24 hours before you have to fly to Washington DC for a conference that is mostly a waste of your time. It will make you instantly forget about all the fun things you did on vacation and you will forced to treat yourself to even more expensive airport vanilla soft-serve than you would have otherwise in a vain attempt to console yourself for having to spend so much time on airplanes.

EATING HABITS, FREAKISH: Speaking of guilty food pleasures, am I the only one who eats frozen orange juice concentrate straight out of the can? Can I get a witness?

ENTERING THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, SIGNS THAT I MAY BE: I'm on Facebook, I own a flat-screen tv, and sometimes I remember to turn my cellphone on. But I also listen to cd's and have a landline, so I guess the jury's still out on that one.

I, TM: Now that I finally got what I entered this sham marriage for in the first place (health insurance), I went to see a dermatologist to get a routine examination of my moles. While I appreciate their taking pictures of me to document any future changes, I was a little psychologically unprepared for what that entailed. Which was maybe the unsexiest naked photo shoot, like, EVER.

PLANNING, POOR: The fact that I went on a Birthright trip in 2007, Jenna went last year, and Rebecca's about to go on one.

POSSIBLE, I NEVER THOUGHT IT WAS: Our exploding cucumber plants have produced so much fruit that, well, I might be getting a little sick of cucumbers. I'VE BECOME EVERYTHING I HATE!!!

Okay, clearly this post is going nowhere and I should have been asleep an hour and a half ago. So I'll bid you all adieu for the weekend and check in again next week, when I will surely have something equally pointless to write about.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

And, whatever happens, never forget to wipe your sword.

I started out Sunday pretty down, as per the last post.

Since then I've been floating through the days on an ether of great food, friends, family, singing, and an endless stream of parties and field trips. Starting with a jaunt over to the Jack London Square farmers market with my mom and Sue where I ran into a teacher from school, watched a great cooking demo (from which I stole a recipe for sweet pea crostini to make for the mixed-book singing potluck the next day), and bought unbelievably cheap, giant, rich strawberries from my berry guy.

Then this week - have I mentioned how much I REALLY like my job? It's unnatural. Let's just say that I spent half of today eating through another generous spread cooked by parents (my favorite are the glutinous rice balls with black sesame filling that keep showing up), curled up on the rug with some of my favorite girls watching the old school pbs live action version of The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe! (It was just as bad as I remember... I mean the PEOPLE IN ANIMAL COSTUMES! Aslan's incredibly lame roar! But I had totally forgotten about the flying animal cartoons mixed in. The teacher and I agreed that the girl who plays Lucy is insanely cute and is the only one of the kids who appears to be acting.)

A few pictures from the beach in Sausalito yesterday. (I let my chaperonees take the first two, with mixed results...) I wish I could share more of the cuteness but I don't think I'm supposed to be flashing the kids faces around the net without permission.