Tuesday, May 30, 2006

All I ever wanted

After two delayed flights and a bunch of hours in airports with crabby Memorial Day travellers, I am now officially in Lincoln and enjoying my lovely one week solo thrill ride of family visits and friend time. Actually, this morning my plans are to sit by myself on the deck and drink some coffee. Yeah, that sounds about right. If exciting things happen, perhaps I will write about them. If boring things happen, perhaps I will write about anything. Or perhaps I won't write at all, as the world is my vacation oyster and I can do whatever I want. Woo.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Criticize This

My most recent adventure on the random book reading trek was another one of Josh's books, Robert Warshow's The Immediate Experience: Movies, Comics, Theatre and Other Aspects of Popular Culture (Originally published in 1962, enlarged edition in 2001). It has been awhile since I've gotten so excited about a book of critical essays. This edition of Warshow's collected writings, published in journals in the late 1940s and early 1950s before his death in 1955 at the age of 37, has a focus on film, but also explores literature, theatre, communism, intellectualism, and Americanism. And regardless of the subject of each individual essay, he manages to discuss almost all of these things to some extent in each one.

His writing is so sharp and well-thought-out that you will have to indulge me as I do some extensive quoting. Believe me, you'll like it:

"“A critic may extend his frame of reference as far as it will bear extension, but it seems to me almost self-evident that he should start with the simple acknowledgment of his own relation to the object he criticizes; at the center of all truly successful criticism there is always a man reading a book, a man looking at a picture, a man watching a movie."

"“And the question to be asked is not: What is my opinion of all this? That question is easily answered, but those who ask only that have fallen into the trap, for it is precisely the greatest error of our intellectual life to assume that the most effective way of dealing with any phenomenon is to have an opinion about it. The real question is: What is my relation to all this?"

[This might be my favorite one - written in response to "The Crucible"]
"“Mr. Miller'’s steadfast, one might almost say selfless, refusal of complexity, the assured simplicity of his view of human behavior, may be the chief source of his ability to captivate the educated audience... He is the playwright of an audience that believes the frightening complexities of history and experience are to be met with a few ideas, and yet does not even possess these ideas any longer but can only point significantly at the place where they were last seen and where it is hoped they might still be found to exist. What this audience demands of its artists above all is an intelligent narrowness of mind and vision and a generalized tone of affirmation, offering not any particular insights or any particular truths, but simply the assurance that insight and truth as qualities, the things in themselves, reside somehow in the various signals by which the artist and the audience have learned to recognize each other."

[This one is a great example of Warshow's ability to seemingly praise a work while simultaneously cutting it down.]
"Hemingway's supreme virtue --– I think it might almost be said, his only virtue --– has been the clarity and immediacy of his relation to language... To be sure, this near-perfection is the product of certain gross simplifications, but in general the simplifications belong to the writer'’s personality rather than his ideas -- –Hemmingway has always tried to protect himself from ideas -- and are in that sense 'natural' and therefore convincing; he has often (though not always) had the good fortune to see only as much as his prose is designed to express, and because of this he could make it appear that he had seen all that was relevant."”

And I haven't even mentioned my favorite essay in the book in which Warshow explores his own dislike of the comic books that his young son loves to read and compares his feelings to the over-reactions and simplified arguments of a psychologist who has published extensively on the dangers of comics on young minds. Warshow delicately works through his own arguments, concedes some of the psychologist's points, and then proceeds to discredit the man's entire premise while still holding on to his own dislike of the comics. And yet, in the end, he has enough respect for his son to let him keep reading the comics that he likes.

So, yes: This book is great. I keep thinking about his arguments and going back to his wonderfully written sentences. If you feel like you need an injection of criticism into your life, by all means, pick up these collected works of Robert Warshow.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Beware my power, Green Lantern's light!

I totally ordered these checks. Superheroes! Now I can't wait for my boring old regular checks to run out. If you ask, I will write you a check for one cent to help me in my quest to use up my old checks. Warning: boring old checks do not have superhero powers.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Sure could use a smoke

Have you seen John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)? If not, I think you should run out and rent it right now. Don't go rent the Ethan Hawke version (which, honestly, I haven't seen. So maybe its good, but my money is on "probably it's not good"). I love that this movie is a suspense, shoot-em-up kind of non-supernatural thriller, and yet for most of the film it plays exactly like a zombie movie.

It is also a pretty clever re-working of Howard Hawk's Rio Bravo (1959). And doesn't everyone love clever re-workings? I certainly do.

Beyond all that, the movie has a great lady with a gun, an insanely awesome foreign poster (why is he holding a meathook?!), and a whole series of awesome lines. The best one in the movie is Kathy's "I wanted vanilla twist. (thwap)", but if you haven't seen it yet, I'm not going to tell you why.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Curl Girl

Apparently if you give me some gel, a diffuser, and some hairspray, I can make my hair go all curly in about ten minutes. Who knew? Only my hairdresser.

Of course I don't like the way gel smells, don't have a diffuser, and only take about two minutes to fix my hair. Hence the photographic documentation -- I may never be this wavy again.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Idoloholic, plus addendums

I am totally watching American Idol and getting drunk tonight and no one can stop me. Also I might clean the kitchen at the same time, because I think what we are going to have is fifteen minutes of show that I want to watch, and an hour and three quarters of filler. Plus, I'm a good multitasker like that. Also I hate the new singles for both Taylor and Katharine. Why do they write the Idol finalists such lame ballads?

And I want Taylor to win (even though Katharine has been another one of my favorites). Because, honestly, can anyone even figure out how he made it to this spot?



Meatloaf just sang. I am in ecstasy.


Second Addendum:

Prince just sang. My mind is officially blown.


Final drunken American Idol thoughts:

1. Man, I love dirty martinis.

2. Isn't Taylor great? I really like his hair.

3. Prince rocks.

4. Also Meatloaf. He sang the shit out of that song. I also like that he seems to shake his microphone and/or his shoulder when he holds a note instead of singing a vibrato. That is some kind of Meat Technique.

5. Mary J. Blige sounded very nice, but she was a jerk in terms of sharing the song with Elliott. The guy just couldn't get a note in edgewise without sounding all off-key because she was soloing the whole thing. That isn't nice. Even Live was better than that, and Live is not better than Mary J.

6. Was Toni Braxton drunk or was her microphone not working? Or was she singing too low? It seemed like they cut her song off early, so something was going on. The jury is still out.

7. Apparently they had that choir from last night on retainer to come out and dance around for either Taylor or Katharine, whichever one won. But why didn't they sing? Or maybe they did but I missed it because I was caught up in the moment.

8. I wish they would have shown Katharine's father's tears of rage when she didn't win since they kept doing close-ups of him crying before she lost.

9. My favorite line: "Stand up America! I'm living the American Dream!"

10. I didn't really clean the kitchen. Cleaning and drinking don't mix, people. I did do the dishes and wipe down the counters though, so don't worry: we aren't living in flith.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Just Boat It

My Moviebot already wrote about Jacques Rivette's Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974), but I'm not going to let that stop me from gushing a bit about how completely wonderful this movie is.

Celine is a cabaret magician. Julie is a librarian. [And to you librarians out there, the library scenes are awesome. Books get slammed, tarot cards get read, and in one scene Julie (who is smoking at the front desk) asks a patron if he would please smoke discretely.] They meet in a park. They become roommates. They pretend to be each other. They somehow find a haunted house and become involved in the repeating story of its inhabitants. They eat a lot of candies. They go boating.

None of this conveys the awesomeness of this film: So go rent it. It is, for some reason, not yet available on DVD, but you know you can find it at the video store. Go do it.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Mac Maniac

I kept reading all these Flickr-types talking about using their macro setting and how cool it was. I was envious of their macro photos, but figured it would be hard to figure that setting out. I messed around with all the menus and functions and settings on my camera and couldn't get it to work. Finally I dig out my manual. Ah. Just hit the little flower button right on the back of the camera. The one button I didn't try.

No matter, I am now the macro queen. The next time I see you I will not take a picture of your face, instead I will take a picture of your earlobe. Watch out!

Friday, May 19, 2006

You should really be reading Achewood

I once again skipped over the random book generator to buzz through two new Achewood books I got in the mail the other day. Yes, its none other than Peter H. "Nice Pete" Cropes' long-awaited A Wonderful Tale (excerpts of which are available on his blog here, and if you need an introduction to Nice Pete (everyone needs one) you can look here and scroll forward through time. The published version was totally worth my six bucks, particularly because its ending is the best on earth. So top that.

Secondly, I'm in the middle of reading Achewood Volume VI: The Dude is From Circumstances, a collection of the Achewood strips published from November 2004 through July 2005. Right now I'm in the section where Ray has a party in his bathroom because the 2,000 Flushes made the toilet water such a great shade of blue.

Obviously you should be reading this strip every day. Galaxy Nachos and toilet parties? It is the perfect combination.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

We'll give it a shot!

This morning on my way to work, the radio blessed me with what I now consider to be the number one morning song of all time: Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer". The electro "whu-oh-uh-oh-uh-oh" voice, the heart-felt message, Tommy and Gina, it is all there. I think it made the rest of my day much better than it otherwise would have been.

And thank you, YouTube, for making the video available to all:

In addition to being an awesome song, this video exhibits some of my favorite video qualities: The band goofing around getting ready for a big concert, long poofy boy hair, lots of guitar shenanigans, harnesses, and then a big finish at the real concert. Plus, if I had been there in real life, it would be pretty fucking awesome when Jon Bon Jovi flies out over the audience at the end.

Ten-year-old Kristy was totally rocking out to this while playing Barbies. Why on earth don't I own Slippery When Wet?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Chiggers Bite

I haven't gotten chigger bites since I was a kid, and didn't even think they would be a possibility when I spent most of Saturday afternoon, all of Saturday night, and a bit of Sunday morning outside in our friends' backyard for a barbecue. Mosquitoes usually leave me alone, so I didn't put on any of the bug spray that was being passed around. Now I wish I had put some on my ankles, as that apparently would stop the chigger larvae from crawling up my legs.

Now I have a dozen or more bites in irritating and somewhat delicate parts of my body. They don't itch as much today as they did yesterday, but I'm still dousing them with hydrocortisone cream and trying not to rub against them. This is hard when the chiggers have bitten you underneath your bra strap and right where your panties lay.

Damn you chiggers!

I may be going crazy, but I keep thinking there are new bites that weren't there before, even though I've showered and lathered several times since the bites showed up. Last night in bed I became convinced that there were chigger larvae in my sheets (which kept me up for awhile as I imagined tiny bugs crawling all over me). This is actually quite possible since in my tequilaed Saturday night state, I did still have some of my outdoor clothes on when I went to bed. Outdoor clothes that were possibly contaminated by chiggers.

So now I'm washing my sheets, our clothes from Saturday night, and anything that may have come in contact with them in some super hot water. Only time will tell if I have won the chigger war, but I'm guessing I might be smarter than a mite. I mite.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Storm Time

I made a brief move away from the random book list generator and began to attack the big pile of science fiction and mystery paperbacks I got at the Literacy Austin Bookfest last month. Rather than randomly reading them, I've decided to go alphabetically by author, which puts Poul Anderson's The Corridors of Time (1965) at the top of this list.

Poul Anderson was a very prolific science fiction writer, and I've always been interested in reading one of his books. He appears as a character in this Philip K. Dick story that I love where future Earthlings take science fiction books to be prophecies and science fiction writers to be gods that can predict the future. Some of these future-folk get a time machine and go back in time to a sci-fi convention to kidnap one of the "prophets" so that he can explain some of the technology in one of his novels to them and give them the edge against another planet.

The Corridors of Time also has a lot to do with time travel (as you might have guessed from the title). Strangely enough, very little of the book takes place in the future, even less takes place in the far-far-future, a teeny bit takes place in the "present" (well, 1963), and most of it takes place in 1800 BC in Denmark.

It seems that the future folk have discovered a way to make these time tunnels (or corridors) that stretch from one point in time and place on Earth to another. These future people are divided into two camps, the Wardens (who are in charge in the future and represent a more matriarchal and feudal society) and the Rangers (who have been in charge for much of human history and tend to represent the patriarchy, industrialization, and slavery). The Wardens and the Rangers are waging a time war by going back in time and influencing history in subtle sort of ways that they hope will eventually allow their group to hold ultimate power.

The head of the Wardens, who goes by the awesome name of Storm Darroway, finds our hero Malcolm Lockridge (a 1960s Kentucky boy) in jail for a murder he committed in self-defense. She pays for a good lawyer to set him free and then entangles him as an ally in her war against the Rangers. After traveling to Denmark, they find the entrance to a time corridor that takes them back to 1800 BC where Storm has established herself as a Goddess among a group of sea-faring villagers on the Jutland coast. It is easy to establish oneself as a goddess when one has energy guns, gravity belts, and little things that you put in your ear so you can speak the language and understand the customs of whatever time you happen to be in.

All, however, is not what it seems and Malcolm is forced to constantly question his allegiance to Storm. The ending of the book has a satisfying series of twists and the entire text is and engaging and unique science fiction story.

Man, I can't wait to read more sci-fi. But next time: Another random read!

Sunday, May 14, 2006


What Kryptonite is to Superman, tequila shots are to me. Except only if Superman really liked Kryptonite at parties and couldn't resist having some whenever it was offered. Superman is probably much more responsible than me when tempted in a social situation. Plus, do you get to lick your hand or suck on a lime after having some Kryptonite? Doubtful. Stupid Superman has completely messed up my analogy.

[This page has a lot of information on Kryptonite, but don't look at it if you are hungover. I think I need to go back to bed.]

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Caged kiddies

I walk by one of the UT daycare centers most days for my work. This morning when I walked by, these five little boys (maybe three or four years old) were all grabbing on to the chain link fence that surrounds the play area, shaking it, and screaming. Not like they were having a tantrum, but like they were pretending they really wanted to get out.

If only one or two had been doing it, it would have been a little sad. With all five of them doing it with gusto, the results were hilarious.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Do it.

You would be a damn fool not to enter Dr. Mystery's Caption Contest. Part of the marriage contract guarantees me access to his music collection, but I still want him to make me a CD. Dude's got taste.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


For the past two days, when I get to work there is a massively loud cricket either in my wall, near my wall, or hidden under a box along my wall. I can't see him, but he is all echoey and won't shut up. My solution? I kick the wall really hard until he shuts up. He starts up again a few times, but then I kick the boxes by the wall and he calms down. The hidden enemy is the hardest one to fight.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Pink Pills for Pale People

We caught the one-night-only screening of Samuel Fuller's rarely shown and unavailable-on-video Park Row, put on by the Union Cinematheque this past Friday night. The movie takes place in the 1880s in New York at the center of a battle between two rival newspapers, and the publishers who run them. The movie is pretty idealistic, and occasionally a little hokey, but you can tell that Fuller really believed in the power of the press and the importance of keeping it free. It is also very engaging, moving, and occassionally hilarious. I think anyone who has studied or practiced journalism should try to see this movie -- and if you are a printing geek like me, you will love it for the detailed look at setting type, running the press, and the fact that Ottmar Mergenthaler, the inventor of the Linotype machine, is actually a character in this film.

But beyond all that, there is a scene early in the movie where all the newspaper men are in this bar having a drink. A guy walks in wearing a sandwich board advertising "Pink Pills for Pale People." Something about this sign really made me giggle. I figured it was a slogan made up by Fuller, or the set designer, or some prop guy. Today the internet told me that, no, Dr. Williams Pink Pills for Pale People was a totally real tonic "proven" to cure "St. Vitus' Dance, locomotor ataxia, partial paralyxia, seistica, neuralgia rheumatism, nervous headache, the after-effects of la grippe, palpitation of the heart, pale and sallow complexions, [and] all forms of weakness in male or female."

And if the second picture here is any sign, apparently the slogan nicely translated into French (I think that's French, anyway, although the text below it looks possibly Swedish or Dutch...).

Pale people, pink it up!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

No Future

As mentioned below, the latest random book read for me was Josh's copy of Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs by John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, with Keith and Kent Zimmerman (1995). This autobiography reads like an oral history of Lydon's life growing up in an Irish family in London, pre-Pistols hanging out, Sex Pistols extravaganza, the US Tour and subsequent break-up of the Pistols, and a brief bit of post-Pistol Public Image Limited talk. The majority of the book comes from Lydon, but it is peppered throughout with comments from Steve Jones and Paul Cook (the other members of the Pistols, besides Sid Vicious and Glen Matlock); his wife, Nora (who is also the mother of Ari Up of the Slits); Chrissie Hynde; Lydon's dad (he is my favorite); Billy Idol; Don Letts; and a whole host of other folk.

Lydon is very smart and witty, and this book is fun and interesting to read. He reminisces on his past without, generally, looking at everything through airbrushed nostalgia glasses. He has a lot of good and bad things to say about music then and music now, and doesn't fall into the trap of complaining that everything good and interesting happened thirty years ago. The book also includes a bunch of engaging photos from the albums of Lydon and his friends, as well as sections from depositions given in Lydon's eight-year legal battle against Malcolm McLaren and his management company for his share of the Sex Pistols profits.

Speaking of Lydon and legal battles, and (again) of the joys of YouTube, shouldn't you all be watching: John Lydon on Judge Judy? Yes, I think you should.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Looking out the window is part of my job

I just looked up from my computer, and there are four U-hauls out in the parking lot behind my work. You'd think if there were four U-hauls in one parking lot at seven in the morning during a rainstorm they would all be together, but they are all parked in different corners of the parking lot. Its like some kind of art movement. There are also two busses, but no one is getting off of them. It is my duty to continue to monitor the situation.

An Update:

Apparently there were a bunch of one-act play and academic UIL contests for high-school kids on campus yesterday. So the U-hauls had sets in them, and the busses dropped the kids off somewhere else before parking outside of my window. During the course of the day about 25 more busses and exciting groups of theatre kids also rolled past my desk. Naturally, I didn't get much work done.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I'm in love with the Internet.

And YouTube.

I'm reading this autobiography of John Lydon, which is mostly about his time as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols (more on that later, when I finish the book). In it, they keep talking about this Bill Grundy TV interview that the Pistols were on where they cussed on air, bringing them sudden super-notoriety. I thought: "gee, it would be neat to see that interview." And with the power of the Internet, it was mine

I love Lydon's expression when he says "shit" after Grundy totally eggs him on to do it. And then Grundy goes "good heavens" in the best possible British way.

And that is Siouxsie in the back whom Grundy inappropriately propositions.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Oh, you wad

I was filing some things at work, and the helpful alphabetization label on the outside of the drawer noted that the files inside went from U to Wad. U-Wad. I think this is hilarious.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Time hole

I had an idea that I was going to write up a nice post today, but instead I found the newly updated collection of World War I Posters from the Prints and Photographs Collection at the Library of Congress. Feel free to search around in there, or just click on "Preview: All the Images" to start looking. Every single poster is wonderful. I'm only a quarter of the way through them and I've used up almost all my after-work Kristy-time.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Spacebeer tells you what to drink

I've got nothing, people. It would seem that, after a nice weekend, I would have something to say. And yet, here we are.

Instead of saying something intriguing, I give you a picture from my favorite cocktail book on earth: A to Z of Cocktails published by Chartwell Books in 1980. This was a Literacy Austin Bookfest find a few years ago, and has provided countless hours of entertainment ever since. Pictured here is the "Barfly's Dream." What do imagine most barflies would dream about? In this case, a mix of gin, white rum, pineapple juice and pineapple chunks. Maybe most barflies have scurvy, so they need the fruit? I'm not entirely sure...

P.S. I want this glass.