a weekend of reading

July 24, 2006

I have been feverishly consuming text all weekend.

First it began with Yannick Murphy’s Here They Come, which I selected from the new books shelf at Chapel Hill Public Library because the cover was pretty and it was a McSweeney’s book. I enjoyed reading it but it is the kind of book that, when you only have twenty pages remaining you realize that indeed, nothing is going to happen. I prefer my novels with neat and clever plots.

Then I spent all day Sunday devouring Mark Z. Danielewski’s House Of Leaves, taking breaks for assorted weekened activities, like attempting to track down some curing salt for Sean’s new I-want-to-cure-my-own-bacon project, coloring with Matilda, and brushing Tallulah’s doll’s hair. This book has been recommended to me by a number of people, and I’m so glad I took those recommendations to heart, because it was such a joy to read a book like this. I completed reading everything in the book but the Johnny Truant narrative, which I will read later this week. All afternoon I flipped through the pages quickly, wide-eyed, being truly taken in to the story. I was so chuffed by the way the book was designed, that the very act of reading was so important to the story. I first realized how cool this was (I’d thought it might be kind of gimmicky so was pleasantly surprised by how it wasn’t) when I couldn’t find a footnote – the number was there next to a passage, and I looked on the bottom of the page, in other footnotes, on other pages, in other bits of text all over the place and I couldn’t find it. I was lost, just as the characters in the book realized the truly horrifying labyrinthine nature of the house. It was incredible. I keep having to restrain myself this morning from Googling commentary on the book; I need to wait to finish the Johnny Truant narrative first. But I am so curious! What is Redwood? What’s with the Ash Tree Lane/Yggdrasil thing? Why is Chad such a creepy little kid? etc.

Finally, I slipped a book that Roman sent me for my birthday, Joan Didion’s collection of essays, The White Album, into my bag this morning and read the first ten pages on the bus. Her writing is perfectly exactly clear yet clever, I was reading it and thinking, “OH yes! This is exactly what I want from a writer!” I had to force myself to put the book away when I got off the bus, as walking through campus with my nose in a book can be dangerous. But this! This is what I mean: By way of comment I offer only that an attack of vertigo and nausea does not now seem to me an inappropriate response to the summer of 1968.

It makes me happy to know that I have wonderful things to read waiting for me – Johnny Truant at home, Joan Didion in my bag.

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For Sunny and whoever else had trouble getting those songs from my spring mix number 3 to play in iTunes, here’s those six songs – they should play just fine now.

another yousendit link

It is dark and drippy looking outside today. Out my window it looks curiously like a temperate, rainy spring day, though I just know if I actually left this cocoon of air conditioned air in my house I would find myself in a sticky-hot steaming swamp. It’s gotta be better than the last week of sun beating down, mid 90-degree days though. It’s at least somewhat cooler. I guess there will be storms today, and the kids will be disappointed we won’t be able to go to the lake.

Both Thursday and Friday nights this past week I ended the night sitting outside, clutching my knees, talking with friends. Thursday night I was gazing out to a lonely mowed lawn bordered by trees covered in twisting, viney foliage. It was misty and green and lamplight blue. Friday I was sitting underneath pink-blooming crepe myrtles, cemetery at my back, on the embankment overlooking the bike path. It was a surprisingly social-looking night out there in Carrboro that Friday. There’s a particular something special about sitting outside on nights like these. The air retains its steaminess, but the temperature is in the low 70s and things regain a little bit of the activity or sense of forward motion that was lost in the heat of the day. The bugs continue making their creaky racket, which oddly enough after a few drinks is kind of a charming background noise, rather than the annoying reminder that it usually is that an insect could land in my hair at any moment.

shake it, shake it

July 21, 2006

From left to right: Cathleen, me, Amanda, Karen

Last night, we met up for first band meeting. Oh this is going to be so much fun. I’m a little scared, as I haven’t picked up an instrument since I was a kid and never thought I’d actually be making music rather than just listening to it. But it was a blast hearing Amanda’s awesome songs, shaking the tambourine around, call and response, clapping hands. Yeah.

(more pictures)

song o’ the day

July 21, 2006

Spiral Beach – “Voodoo”

This song came up in the iTunes shuffle while I was resting in bed for a few minutes before getting the kids into bed, and I sat up in bed, and said, “Who IS this? What is this song?” It’s a little bit of swinging, bouncy rock-pop, with girl vocals that remind me a little bit of Emily Haines at times and that woman from Magneta Lane at other times. The chorus is great, makes me want to bounce on my hip and shake my head from side to side.
The band has this song on their website.

(This song came to me from Pinky. Thanks Pinky!)

Also, The Onion does it again – U.S. Trendsetters Go On Strike: Nation’s ‘Hip’ Seek Recognition, Royalties Too, too funny.

song o’ the day

July 20, 2006

Camera Obscura – “Come Back Margaret”

In dreams I try to take you far away,
but you never stay.
No you never stay.
No you never stay.

Strings, plus Tracyanne’s liquid vocals, a 1-2-4 drumbeat, and a handclapping breakdown midway through the song make for another satisfying, atmospheric effort from Camera Obscura.

(I just learned how we’ve all been misspelling Tracyanne’s name these past years, with an extra “e”)

song o’ the day

July 19, 2006

Henry’s Dress – “Definitely Nothing”

Because I care
and you could be anywhere but here,
If I knew where, well I
could always be there

Henry’s Dress were around in the early-mid 90s East Bay music scene and made a curious noise, throwing excessive guitar feedback onto standard pop songs. I usually am not at all fond of high-pitched guitar squeaks, but the first few seconds of this song, just before the fuzzed guitars come out, do me in. I love it! It gets me right in the heart. The muddy vocals and dirge of a pace are actually assets, I think, making a song for people who want to rock but maybe only a little bit, in their bedroom or discreetly behind a wall made by headphones on a public bus.

killing Nazis

July 19, 2006

The children are quite fond of The Sound Of Music. We watch the DVD on the computer in my bedroom, and the girls sit primly on the edge of the bed and become engrossed in the film. Sometimes I sprawl in bed behind them with a book, or just lay down with my eyes closed and rest. I was resting the other day while the girls were watching this film, when I heard Lula say to her sister, “OK, the Nazis are coming, get the (unintelligible).” So Matilda ran out to the living room and got Sean’s bicycle hand-pump and brought it to Lula. And during the whole time the Nazis were a feature of the movie, the two of them took turns opening the pump up and then pushing the plunger down. They weren’t pointing the pump at the screen or anything, it was more like they were pushing down a detonator for dynamite, like in a cartoon (which cartoons I don’t think they’ve ever seen.) They were “killing Nazis.” I can’t tell you how startled I was.

Of course, I’m very anti-violence, particularly in regards to violence as entertainment. On the other hand, I think children work through issues they have, like a sense of lack of control in the world, through pretend violence. And while I do not at all let them even come near real-looking toy guns, I’ve let up a bit in allowing them to pretend kill things with very ad hoc guns, swords, etc. I used to be much more concerned about it, and I’m still obviously a little concerned, but as with all things parenting, things change as they get older, as I get older, and as we see how things go.

And another thing, I think it’s very interesting that they’ve picked up on Nazis = bad guys. In the movie they are set up as bad guys, but there is absolutely no description of the true horrors the Nazi regime perpetrated on the world. For now, it’s probably best that Nazis are just “bad guys” in their world, when they get older we can talk about what happened and why it happened, hopefully when they are old enough to see things with more shades of grey.

Seeing them react this way made me remember one time when I was young, perhaps 9 or so, sitting on the top bunk of my bunk bed with my best friend. I had a very large map of the world pinned to the wall next to my bed, and I would look at it constantly and think about other places. I pointed to the U.S.S.R. and told my friend, “That’s the U.S.S.R. It’s where the communists are, and they’re very bad.” I don’t think it’s anything my mother ever told me, but as an American child in the 80s it would have been pretty impossible not to get that message from the popular media. I suppose now for American children, the “bad guys” they pick up on from the media are the Islamofascists? (and oh how that word bothers me.)

In other streams of thought – it’s becoming more and more apparent that I could totally handle summer if it was just a question of dealing with the heat and humidity. But it’s the bugs that make it hellish! I’ve been wearing skirts a lot and have been getting mosquito bites on my thighs (not to mention the rest of my legs, my arms, etc.) I sprayed myself down with bugspray this morning, and now I’m going to smell like bugspray all day. Whenever I’m sitting and feel something tickling my leg, I get paranoid and assume it is a bug come to suck my blood, when it’s almost always just one of those things, a passing breeze, a tremor in the air, or whatever. It’s very annoying. How many more months left of this? I can’t wait until late fall when all the bugs are DEAD DEAD DEAD.