April 2008


News update from the slacking front. An interesting opportunity presented itself, and I’ve accepted a short-term contract that begins this week and runs into July. It dovetailed really neatly into my pre-existing slacker schedule, and amazingly can accommodate all the time I’m about to spend out of town:

  • long weekend on the Oregon coast, May 2-6
  • Sasquatch festival, May 25-26
  • family cruise to Alaska, including brother-in-law’s wedding, May 31-June 7
  • reception for brother-in-law’s wedding and visit to husband’s parents, June 12-16

Stay tuned for updates on whether the return to the ranks of the economically productive causes me to perish, darlings.

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“What are you doing in here? This is my masturbatorium!”

Maybe it’s not cool to spoil one of the funniest lines in this movie, but I just couldn’t help it. I hope it’s evidence that this rather bleak memoir has enough moments of levity and absurdity to give it balance.

Utterly non-formulaic and chock full of excellent performances, Running With Scissors is the story of Augustan Burroughs, an oddball child whose unbalanced poet mother semi-abandons him at age ~13 or 14 to be raised by her psychiatrist. Which might be OK, except he is totally unethical old coot with whacked-out daughters and wife. I will admit that the story does strain the viewer’s credulity.¬†The details feel¬†wildly embellished, but I was in a mood to accept and enjoy them.

The movie could have faltered by becoming too maudlin and self-pitying, or too zany. It does shift tones, and sometimes events turn briefly alarming. But the action doesn’t dwell overlong in these moments and it doesn’t panic and try to depart from them too quickly. I’m pretty sure this movie isn’t for everyone, but I was impressed. I might be easily impressed though :-)

Last week I was glad to have several posts more or less queued up, because Tuesday night I came down with a low fever and a hideous hacking cough that beat the crap out of me all week long. Before getting sick, I did whip up some new stuff in the kitchen…

Steamed squash and scallops. I came across a recipe in a magazine in a doctor’s waiting room and decided to try it while theCultFigure was out of town. Good thing too, because it sucked. No need to dwell on this dish.

Minestrone. This just caught my eye when I was flipping through my Soups and Stews cookbook. It called for a parmesan cheese rind to flavor the soup, and I actually had a spent rind I was about to throw out, so the timing was perfect. This was exactly what I was in the mood for – a vegetable-heavy soup. Leeks, carrots, celery, potato, zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, cannellini beans, finished with pesto… what’s not to love? I added some whole wheat orzo to make it just a bit heartier. Awesome.

I notice I have really been on a soup kick, which feels great. Last year I hardly made much soup at all. Since Christmas time, I’ve made:

  • Butternut squash
  • Ham and yellow split pea
  • Roasted red pepper
  • Mushroom barley
  • Potato and garlic
  • Spring vegetable stew
  • Thai cucumber
  • Tortilla
  • and Minestrone

I’ve still got 2 cups of vegetable stock at least 8 cups of chicken stock in the freezer, so there will be more to come :-) Soup makes me happy.

We have a weakness for Will Ferrell in our household (theCultFigure in particular). He’s such a national treasure. This was a cute movie that allowed him to play a straight man, which I really enjoyed. On a shallow note, with a conservative haircut and wearing suits, he was oddly handsome, which is not how I usually think of him. 

But the real star of the movie, for me, was Emma Thompson. Her jittery, twitchy, chain-smoking writers-blocked novelist was seriously delightful. I was excited to see Queen Latifah in her role as Thompson’s assistant, but her character never really went anywhere and didn’t seem necessary, which was a bummer.

The story brushed up against themes of free will and fate and stuff, but without being heavy or making A Statement. That was just fine with me. What’s a bit tiresome is the hoary cliche of a female free spirit (in this case, Maggie Gyllenhaal) who encourages an uptight professional guy to see that there’s more to life than blah blah blah zzzzzz.

All in all, a pretty OK movie.

I’m shocked and appalled that I was never assigned this book in an English class, of which I have taken plenty at both the high school and college level (and in fact, I think I even took one as an elective during grad school). In my opinion, The Grass is Singing definitely holds up against any other post-war modern novels I could name. And it’s even more impressive for being a first novel.

It begins at the story’s end; the first chapter reveals the tragic end to which the characters come. The second chapter is the true beginning, and things progress linearly from there. Beginning at the end is a great technique used to full advantage here; it gives the reader distance, and enhances a feeling of inexorable decline as events unfold.

It takes place mostly on a farm in southern Rhodesia (what’s now Zimbabwe) in the first half of the 20th century. The book subtly charts the crackup of the marriage between Mary and Dick Turner, including Mary’s slow psychological breakdown. It explores Mary’s and Dick’s seldom-voiced and near-completely incompatible concepts of marriage and gender roles, and their expectations for each other that seemingly can never be met.

It’s also a meditation on the fragility of the master-slave bond and by extension, on the fragility of an socioeconomic system that is so heavily dependent on exploitation and dehumanization of the many by a few. Lessing deftly illustrates and critiques the mindset that the colonialists had to adopt and rigidly enforce in one another in order to create and maintain the system.

Bottom line: highly recommended, and I’m going to be adding more Lessing books to my ever-growing reading list.

Next up: for the bookclub, it’s The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu. I’m going to have a busy month, so I’m not confident that I’ll get around to it.

I love hockey goalies and their quirks. I love trying to see what’s painted on their masks. I love watching what different goalies do before the first period begins – and I don’t just mean the stretching. I love watching how they scuff up their creases, what little mini-drills they do, and so on. So I NEED to see this (bold emphasis is mine):

The [Calgary Hitmen] freshman [goaltender Juha Metsola], who dances in his crease prior to every game, kicked out the right pad twice to rob T.J. Galiardi and then Brandon Kozun on the rebound.

If/when the Thunderbirds host the Hitmen next season, I am so. there.

Practicing Bow pose, among others, has definitely strengthened my back.

bow

In the picture, it looks like the figurine is only lifting her wee chest, leaving her belly and pelvis in contact with the floor. It also looks like her enormous feet are nearly touching her head. Neither of those details is a strictly accurate representation of what my own Bow looks like, at least I don’t think so. Her limbs aren’t really in proper proportion, so I may take artistic liberties when I pose her :-)

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