Friday, April 28, 2006

Bookin' It

Last weekend, Josh and I carried out the previously mentioned margaritas and book shopping plan at the Literacy Austin Bookfest (and incidentally, you can still cash in on this fest of books tomorrow from 8-3, with free admission). Josh was extremely restrained and picked out five quality books from the overwhelming mish-mash on the shelf.

I ended up with a relatively well-thought out nineteen books. At one point I even sat on the floor, looked through all the books in my arms, and put four or five of them back. That is restraint, people.

And so, in case you are keeping track, here is a list of the books I bought at the sale, along with some sort-of crappy pictures. [Note that the dates are publication dates, not necessarily the date of the original version].

Science Fiction (pictured above):
The Midwich Cuckoos, John Wyndham (1957)
New Tales of Space and Time (1958)
The War Against the Rull, A. E. Van Vogt (1959)
The Time Machine, H. G. Wells (1964)
The Second Atlantis, Robert Moore Williams (1965)
The Corridors of Time, Poul Anderson (1965)
The Coming of the Terrans, Leigh Brackett (1967)
The Jewels of Elsewhen, Ted White (1967)
The Eyes of Heisenberg, Frank Herbert (1970)
Pail of Air, Fritz Leiber (1979)
The Ultimate Alien, Byron Preiss (1995)

Mystery :
Evidence of Things Seen, Elizabeth Daly (1943)
Witness for the Prosecution and other stories, Agatha Christie (1948)
A Murder is Announced, Agatha Christie (1950)

Other stuff:
Beauty and the Beast : Diary of a Film, Jean Cocteau (1972)
Memoirs of a Survivor, Doris Lessing (1974)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt (1999)
The Orchid Thief : A True Story of Beauty and Obsession, Susan Orlean (2000)

And because I read every young adult Judy Blume book about a million times as a kid, I could not resist picking up her adult novel from the 1970s:

Wifey, Judy Blume (1979)

Let the reading begin!

Thursday, April 27, 2006


We christened my new sake set last night with a nice cheap bottle of sake from the HEB. I followed Nick's advice and heated up the sake in a bowl of warm water, which seemed to do the trick. After transferring the sake into my little decanter, I made Josh play by the sake drinking rules where you never pour your own drink, but you always pour for the other person. We neglected, however, to yell BANZAI! at each other every time we took a drink. More photographic evidence here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It's hard to write about short stories

Hey, guess what! My random book generator suggested a book of short stories from Josh's library. But this one isn't from the 1990s, oh no. Its from 1989. So we are really changing it up here, folks.

The non-randomness of my "random" book selection should not take away from the good read that is Mark Richard's The Ice at the Bottom of the World, however. And it is good. Really good. My problem is that I find it very hard to write anything about a book of short stories that I liked. So just take my word for it: good.

I can give you a little trivia, though: apparently the title story from the book is going to be made into a movie starring Charlize Theron and directed by Kimberly Peirce who directed Boys Don't Cry. That could potentially be interesting. The story is great, but also short, so a lot will need to be filled in. I like Charlize Theron (she is tall, and I automatically like the tall), but she is sometimes a little heavy-handed.

So the final verdict: book = good, movie = maybe good.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


A few weeks ago, a friend of a friend posted about some wonderful Smiths paintings he ordered from an artist named Steve Keene. I thought his painting style was really compelling, and I liked that he had a lot of music related paintings. The best thing of all, though, is that you can go to Steve Keene's site and order a random painting for a reasonable price. I did just such a thing, expecting to receive a single painting, but either I didn't read the fine print or whoever packs the paintings thought I sounded nice, because instead of one painting, I got six.

Besides his painting style and the affordability, the most appealing thing to me about the whole process is the randomness. For example, we happened to get a rendition of Neil Young's Rust Never Sleeps album. And Neil Young happens to be one of Josh's favorite musicians of all time.

So now, if you come over to our apartment, there is an artsplosion on the wall. Don't be scared, ya'll -- a little artsplosion never hurt anybody.

P.S. For slightly flashy, but still representative close-ups of the paintings, go here.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Galaxy Nachos are out of this world

Many good things and happy times went down this weekend, but the happiest of all was Josh's rendition of Galaxy Nachos. This recipe was invented by the cartoon cat, Roast Beef, from Achewood, and it is featured in The Achewood Cookbook: Recipes for a Lady or a Man. With those kinds of credentials, you just know these nachos will kick ass. And kick ass they did. The secret: bake the naked chips for ten minutes or so before you put anything on them so they stay extra crispy. This is a nacho revelation. Further photographic evidence here.

To add to the excitement, while Josh was out buying nacho ingredients, I braved the crowds at 1/2 off day at the estate sale down the street and scored six videos (including the first three Alien movies! Yay!), and an adorable sake set that I love. Now I just need to find out about drinking sake.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Going Wild(er)

My last ride on the random book generator brought up yet another book of short stories from the 1990s that Josh had bought. Really, my randomizer seems hell bent on me reading nothing but good short story collections from the 1990s. I've not nothing against these collections, but they are kind of hard to write about, and I needed a break, so I skipped to the next book on the list. This book was Cameron Crowe's Conversations with Wilder (1999), a series of interviews between Crowe and the director Billy Wilder in the late 1990s.

Even if you don't think you know who Billy Wilder is, I bet you have seen some of his movies. They include: Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, A Foreign Affair, Sunset Boulevard, Sabrina, The Seven Year Itch, Some Like It Hot, and The Apartment. Plus like twenty others. Crowe, of course, is the writer of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and the director of Say Anything, Singles, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, etc.

Crowe's background as a reporter makes him a good fit for this book. The elderly Wilder (who was in his early 90s during these sessions) also seems to respect Crowe as another director who writes his own movies. Occasionally Crowe will get carried away with giving us detailed descriptions of Wilder's office, the weather on the day of the interview, or what color suspenders Wilder is wearing. Most of the time, however, he is an insightful and persistent interviewer who succeeds in getting Wilder to discuss films, experiences, and relationships that go beyond the sound bytes he is used to giving to people who want to know about Sunset Boulevard or working with Marilyn Monroe. Of course, those kinds of anecdotes and stories are in here too, and they are almost as fascinating as hearing the stories behind Wilder's "flops" and regrets. My favorite part of these conversations, however, might be Wilder's discussion of his writing process, which was always done with a collaborator. Wilder came to the US in the 1930s from Berlin (after moving to Berlin from his birthplace in Austria-Hungary), and never felt comfortable enough with his English to write without a partner.

Besides all the great text, this book is filled with photographs: family photos of Wilder, stills from his films, candid shots from old-Hollywood parties, stills from films that influenced Wilder, movie posters, and shots of Wilder directing (like this shot of Wilder with Shirley MacLaine in Irma la Douce). The book is well designed and really enjoyable to read. Did I mention that Wilder is also hilarious? He is.

Here are two of my favorite anecdotes from the book:

Written on the bathroom wall at Paramount Studios, where Edith Head was the costume designer: "Edith Head gives good wardrobe"

Dean Martin (who was in Wilder's movie Kiss me Stupid) when chatting with visitors to the film set would stand very close to the visitors, put his hands in his pants pockets and feel around in them, and then suddenly say "Plums? Where did I get these plums?"

Friday, April 21, 2006

Mood update

For some reason I am in a great mood today. Just thought I'd let you know.

Reading is good

If you are cool (and live in Austin), you will be like me and head out to the Literacy Austin Bookfest this weekend (downtown at 3rd and San Antonio).

The schedule goes like this:

Fri,    April 21          3 PM - 9 PM     ($15 entry)         
Sat,   April 22          8 AM - 8 PM     ($3 entry)             
Sun,  April 23          Noon  - 6 PM    ($3 entry)             
Wed, April 26         11 AM - 2 PM   (Free entry)        
Sat,   April 29          8 AM - 3 PM    (Free entry) 
(No entry fee for children under 12).

In addition, this Friday and Saturday they won't charge any sales tax on the books. I am not gung ho enough to go the first day and pay fifteen bucks, but I think I will go this weekend and pay the three dollars instead of waiting for free entry. Because I like Literacy, and I want to give it three more dollars.

The past two years I have gone out and had a big mexican dinner with multiple margaritas, and then gone book shopping while all tipsy. That is pretty fun, although a person ends up with some odd selections. Most of the books are only one or two dollars, which (together with the margaritas) is an excellent excuse to pick up something that you might ordinarily just put down.

Complete report later, suckas.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I am super cranky and over-sensitive today. I know this for a fact because a squirrel just walked by my office window with a gigantic french fry in his mouth, and how he is sitting out there looking at me and all eating the french fry that is almost as big as him and it has only made me feel slightly less glum. Maybe if the squirrel would do a back flip or something I would cheer up...

Come on squirrelly!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Van Hammersly would be proud

The other day at work, a legitimate work-related Google search brought me to this list of the 1941 World Champions of the National Celebration in Shelbyville, TN. Horses, that is. Just look at how great the names of these 1941 champions are. Strolling Jim. The G-Man. Country Charlie. Plus a whole host of "Wilson Allen" names (I wonder if he was the owner, or the horse-daddy...): Wilson Allen's Boss Man, Wilson Allen's Lady, Wilson Allen's Gay Girl, Wilson Allen Jr., Hill's Wilson Allen. If you jump over to the 1942 list, you even have Wilson's Allen's Dictator.

A gal can spend a lot of time browsing through these champion lists. But what if you find yourself with a thoroughbred racing horse that doesn't have a name? How could you possibly compete with the great names of the past? First, there are a lot of rules. Then you have to make sure no one else is using it [note: this site is awesome - type in any funny word you can think of and it will show you all the named horses that start with that word. Or just type in a letter and browse from there.] Does this all seem like too much work? Then all you have to do is send $30-$50 over to Select-a-Name, a professional naming service for race horses. This is either the best or the worst idea for a home business ever. I'm going to put my money on best.

Let us now giggle at all the names that start with beer:

Beer and Bananas (1983)
Beer and Donuts (1999)
Beer At the Bit (2000)
Beer Baroness (2003)
Beer Belly (2000)
Beerbelly Queen (2002)
Beerbellys Sister (1999)
Beer Chaser (2004)
Beer Cloud (2001)
Beer for Breakfast (2000)
Beer for Ed (1993)
Beerformyhorses (2004)
Beer Goggles (1998)
The Beer Hunter (2004)
Beer in Malta (2002)
Beerman (1996)
Beer Me (1999)
Beermeathebit (1999)
The Beer Miser (2002)
Beer Money (2001)
Beer N Bones (2002)
Beer On Tap (2002)
Beer Or Champagne (1997)
Beer Run (2000)
Beers (1997)
Beer Stien (2002)

Lucky for me, Space Beer is not yet taken, so the hard job of picking a name is done. Now I just have to buy me a race horse.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hunt it

Josh and I Easter it up at my aunt's house in San Antonio. This was fun and all, but I was sorry to miss the jello shots and naughty easter egg hunt at the annual Easter Eggs and Alcohol party. Maybe next year...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Nostalgic Reads

A few days ago, I finished re-reading my latest random-book selection, Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie (1935). I read all of the Little House books when I was a kid, and would read the first of the series, Little House in the Big Woods over and over again. That one was always my favorite because it went into such detail about their everyday life: how they smoked meat, how they stored food, how they did laundry, built the house, and traveled in the snow. Little House on the Prairie has that same level of detailed description, and I liked it just as much this time around as I did the last time I read it, which was at least 15 years ago.

Interestingly enough, I could never stand the TV series. As a kid, I'd watch almost everything, but not Little House, not Hogan's Heroes and not MASH. The Little House show was b-o-r-i-n-g, and everything I liked about the books was sacrificed for episodic drama and lame character development. This book has almost no dialogue, and most of the pages are spent in describing the day-to-day life of making a homestead on the Oklahoma prairie, just south of the Kansas border.

The second best thing about these books are the detailed illustrations done by Garth Williams in the 1950s. Williams is the same guy who illustrated Charlotte's Web and the other E. B. White books, which are some of my other childhood favorites. Williams actually traveled the route that Wilder and her family took and his illustrations show the level of research that he undertook to create an accurate description of their life.

When I was a kid, I also liked the Little House books because they were just like grown-up books with chapters, and most of them were relatively thick. As an adult, the fast-reader in me likes to be able to say that I finished a 335 page book in less than two days.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Library Lists

If you are a gigantic library geek like me, you will be excited to read the list of fifty recordings that the Librarian of Congress named to the National Recording Registry. The recordings on the registry have been flagged for extra-special preservation efforts so that they will be accessible forever and ever and ever. The most recently recorded entry on this year's list is “Daydream Nation” by Sonic Youth (1988).

Thursday, April 13, 2006

When I remember my camera, we take lots of pictures

The only thing better than having a lovely fajita night with some good friends, is being a drunken passenger with a camera on the ride home who takes tons of swirly neon night photos out the car window.

I am so easily amused...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Because I can't resist that Beth...

And because I feel like it, jerks.

I'm blowing a big hole through cyberspace by answering this MySpace "tag" in a non-MySpace forum. But I don't want to start a MySpace blog, because I have this one. So MySpace can cram it with walnuts.

The game goes like this:
"So the rules are, once you've been tagged, you have to write a blog with 6 weird things/habits about yourself. In the end you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says 'you are tagged' in their comments and tell them to read your blog."

Here are my things/habits:

1. It takes me exactly 25 minutes from the time the alarm goes off (5:44 A.M., ya'll) to heading out the door to catch my bus in the morning.

2. I go googly over guys with red hair. Luckily for him, my hub has red hair, but unluckily so do a bunch of other guys.

3. Every once in awhile I decide my abs should be firmer. Then I exercise along to my "8 Minute Abs" video every day. Eventually I stop. I think the longest I ever did it was almost every day for 6 weeks. My abs were smokin'.

4. I just finished day 2 of my current bout with my abs. Check back later to see if they are smokin'.

5. I'm scared of driving. I'll do it, but it makes me very nervous, particularly if there is someone else in the car with me or I'm driving somewhere I've never been before. The worst are unprotected left turns. I'll go around the block before doing those things.

6. I don't know how to use chopsticks.

If you feel like sharing some weird things about yourself, please do so. I'm not going to tag anyone because I've never been a fan of contact sports. I am, however, a fan of numbered lists about me. And about you.

Monday, April 10, 2006

My stay-at-home weekend in pictures

This weekend I wasted time with my camera. Part of this time wasting included taking pictures of our bedroom doorknob, my foot, which I hurt last week and my hand which I hurt this weekend. They both still hurt.

It should also be noted that Josh has a new invention that will soon make us rich beyond our wildest dreams: the beer phone.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Wolfin' Out

Once again, the random-read selector has pointed me to a collection of short stories from the 1990s that Josh bought. Not really so random-seeming, is it? This time around, I partook of Werewolves in Their Youth by Michael Chabon (1999). Chabon was also the author of Wonder Boys, upon which the movie with Michael Douglas was based. I saw that movie and thought it was pretty good, although I have not read the book. I would read it, though, because I thought Werewolves was an engaging read.

Most of these stories are about relationships that are falling apart, have recently fallen apart, or are on the brink of falling apart. Everyone is getting divorced, splitting away, and growing apart. But then, somehow, they end up clinging to something or someone new, or falling back into the same relationship that went so bad at the beginning. Rather than being depressing, the stories are more dark and weirdly hopeful, even when nothing works out by the end.

The thematic exception is the last story of the book, which is written in the guise of a genre horror story by August van Zorn, the author character from Wonder Boys. This selection, titled "In the Black Mill," is a nicely written story of a creepy mill town built on the site of an ancient Indian burial ground, where most of the men are missing body parts from the mill work. The only thing is, no one can really tell our interloping narrator what it is the mill produces. And then there is the strangely addictive locally brewed beer...

Friday, April 07, 2006

I gotta know right now!

We recently got the The Old Grey Whistle Test, Volume 2 -- a collection of musical performances from the British TV show in the 1970s and 1980s. The first volume had many fine performances on it, the best of which was Bruce Springsteen doing "Rosalita" live with girls jumping up on the stage to kiss him and him running all around the stage and looking so excited to be up there. A close second to that Springsteen performance can be found on volume two: Meatloaf performing "Paradise by the Dashboard Light." Even if you don't like Meatloaf, I think you would like this performance. I found a live version from a similar era on You Tube. It is almost as good, but doesn't include the bits where Meatloaf screams "Fuck You!" and "You Bitch!" into the microphone as loud as his big-ole Meatloaf-lungs will let him. It does, however, include the onstage makeout and attempt to bash the lady's head in with the mike stand. Plus lots of red hanky waving and mugging for the camera. If you can't get your hands on the Whistle Test version, watch this one: I swear it will not be a wasted eight minutes of your life.

Calculate the probability

Dr. Mystery announces once-in-a-lifetime magical mix CD caption contest! You know you want him to make you one, as he has excellent taste and a crazy collection of music. Plus your caption doesn't even have to be the best, it just has to be randomly selected. I like those odds.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

My alter ego?

I have no idea what this is about, but I find it very fascinating. Can anyone tell me what the text at the bottom says? I'm going to say it's in German.

I will occasionally look at my stats and lately there has been a marked increase in domains from Hungary doing google searches for "spacebeer" and coming to my site (like maybe 10 in the past few days, which would be a 1000% increase from the number of Hungarian domains that generally end up at my site). Maybe they are looking for this dude?

I love all the tubes in the background. And the drunk bubbles. If there are bubbles floating around you, then man, you know you are drunk.


[Its also worth looking at this "spacebeer" on myspace, who is from Finland and apparently likes the metal. Yes.]

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Lingua Franca

Most of these International Safe-Handling Labels make sense: everyone knows that an arrow pointing up means "this end up" and a cracked wine glass means "fragile." But is a penguin with a tiny bow-tie really the international symbol for "Keep Frozen?" I certainly hope so.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Cold Snap

This weekend I finished up my latest randomly-generated book-choice (another one of Josh's books), Cold Snap by Thom Jones (1995). This collection of short stories was wonderful. It is Jones' second book, the first one, The Pugilist at Rest, has been loaned out to some mysterious person (do you have it, Nick?) and the third one is in Josh's to-be-read pile. None of the stories in this collection are directly connected, but many of them pick up on themes and situations from the others, including: being a doctor in Africa, just being in Africa, diabetes, boxing, manic depressives (mostly the mania part), and drugs. One also features a sometimes-drunken orangutan as a crucial character. Not a bad combination, eh?

It's hard for me to describe what it is I like about good fiction, particularly good short stories, so I'll just say: read this, it is great.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Why just look at this slightly blurry and attractive couple. We watched them get married this weekend, and a good time was had by all. Not only did I get weepy at the ceremony, I also got about 2000 free beers, 50 free glasses of wine, a big candle, and five or six commemerative tins of lip balm made by the bride's mother. Plus, I felt the love.

Photographic evidence available here.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

What is awesome:

Waking up expecting to be really hungover, but not being hungover at all. Then drinking a pot of coffee, a margarita, and eating a burrito. Now I'm going to take a nap.