no one theme

March 1, 2011

Rain in all it’s glorious self. Today has been a quintessential end of the winter rainy day – kind of cold, kind of windy and really wet. It doesn’t pour here. Or at least it doesn’t pour very often or for very long, but the way it streams down is relentless. I’m hoping my gear dries out enough overnight, so I can brave it all and get soaked again tomorrow.

I had a conversation with some friends not too long ago about rainy Junes out here in Portland, which are the bane of my existence. There was some disagreement in how wet the last 3 Junes were; we all remembered it a little differently. And I realized later when I was thinking about the conversation that some of us were talking about the factual aspect of rain – how many days and how many inches of rain we got and some of us, mostly me, were talking about the experiential aspect of the rain – what it feels like when it rains more than a couple days in a row in June. But at the time we all thought we were talking about the same thing.

James Franco sucked at hosting the Academy Awards last night. It was like it was beneath him to actually preform. I didn’t see hardly any of the movies that were nominated in most of the categories, but I still can’t help myself from watching the spectacle of the celebrity. It’s like a special televised addition of People Magazine.

I’m trying to read Anna Karenina. RU said it take about 60 pages to get into it. I’m at about page 50 or so and am having trouble tracking the characters, in large past, because I’ve read a little here and a little there. I think I need a 50 or 100 page day to successfully become immersed. Also, I’m finding I need to adjust something in my brain to better take in and enjoy Tolstoy’s writing, which seems so dense. And it seems to take it’s time.

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striking gold

January 6, 2011

While I’m not a voracious reader, I do read  a lot. And in the last 10 years there’s probably a handful of books that once I’ve finished the last page and closed the back cover, I’ve felt compelled to evangelize them: The Botany of Desire, Lonesome Dove, The Lost, The Sandman Series, Disgrace, Maus, The Cold Six Thousand & American Tabloid, Blade Runner, and His Dark Materials. Ok, that’s more like two handfuls over the course of 12 years. But anyway, in any given year, I’m much more likely to evangelize an essay or a short story or a poem. I read a lot of this kind of stuff and I think the possibility of greatness is maybe more achievable in these abbreviated forms. It’s the same way for me with music. I can usually come up with 20 really great singles at the end of the year, but I’m hard to pressed to list more than 2 or 3 whole records that are so great they compel me to say “you gotta listen to this.”

So I feel like I got away with something or got a great surprise when right here at the end of the year I read two books that I can’t say enough about, except go read them. They are that great. I already mentioned A Visit from the Goon Squad, but I want to add on to what I said before. Because it’s a very rare book that when it ends, I want it to go on for another 50 or 100 pages, and not because there was anything wrong with the ending, but because I want to keep reading about the characters. That’s what happened with Goon Squad. I got to that last page and I was like “please don’t make this end.” For a couple days,  I kept trying to explain all the characters and their interlocking stories to Rachel, because I wanted to keep them alive. Jennifer Egan pulled off this brilliant mix of heartbreaking humanity and dark satire. Read it; you’ll see.

The other book is Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. I raced to the end of that book. I had to find out hat was going to happen to the characters and to see how the story unfolded. I tore through over 500 pages in about 3 days. I was hooked like a junkie. I’d heard that it was an ambitious book and I was worried that it was going to be this heady, idea laden tome, where the characters and the story got sacrificed for exploring ideas about freedom, but Franzen struck the right balance between the aesthetic and the ideological approaches, a feat that has escaped many, if not most, of his contemporaries. It’s kind of an epic story and part of me wants to proclaim that Freedom will surely be one of the great American novels, but that sounds corny, so I’ll just say I wanted to to say it and leave it at that.

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December 16, 2008

Thanks to Susie Bright, MG gets on one of the most popular blogs around.

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catching up

March 14, 2008

Back from Austin. Whew. It kinda feels like I dreamed the whole thing up.

I’ve got a new song in rotation: Challengers from the last New Pornographer’s record.

In taking a stance for freedom of speech online, I’ve added some sex blogs to my blogroll. Enjoy or not.

And for Peggy, here’s one for the new book. Check her out for yourself.

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thinking about things

January 16, 2008

Last night I went with my friend, A., to a Colson Whitehead talk, sponsored by a really wonderful local non-profit, Literary Arts. This winter our book group read Whitehead’s latest, Apex Hides the Hurt. It was thin on plot, but there was some brilliant writing, just brilliant, and interesting commentary on race.

My thoughts in reflection of the evening:

  • After the talk, A. and I saw Whitehead in the restaurant next door. He was shorter than I thought he looked from where we sitting in the balcony.
  • Whitehead is a very entertaining speaker. His talk was accompanied by lots of laughter. He began with quoting the beginning of Steve martin’s ‘The Jerk’.
  • Looking around the audience I couldn’t help but be reminded I live in one of the whitest cities in the US (I hate this fact). Later I wondered if the ease of laughter in response to Whitehead’s race related jokes was because there were less than a handful of African American’s in the crowd and thus no reason for all us whities to feel self-conscious.
  • A. and I sat behind a group of about 7 women who’d I’d guess were in their mid to late 60’s, maybe 70’s. At least 3 of them were futzing around with their iPhones before the talk. I would love to make something a 70 year old could use without thinking about it.
  • I don’t much like riding my bike in this cold weather, but I’m rocking on my clipless shoes, even if I look like a complete dork when I’m at a restaurant, passing Colson Whitehead in the hallway and saying ‘wonderful talk’.
  • I really wish Portland were much more intellectually stimulating and/or I could meet more New York transplants who are bored by the sleepy and outdoorsy nature of the city’s populace.