Saturday, July 29, 2006

Where's Kristy?

In other news, I'm going to take off for about a week to Washington DC for a big archives conference. My access to the compubots will be severely limited, so you will have to make up your own Spacebeer posts until I get back.


Cock and Bull

I know you have all been wondering what on earth I've been doing with myself, reading-wise. It has been over a week since I posted about a book, and I had to be busy reading something right? Right indeed. What kept me so busy was the rambling comedic novel from the mid-1700s (originally published between 1759 and 1767 to be exact), The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne.

This book was recently made into an intriguing looking movie by Michael Winterbottom (who did 24 Hour Party People, which I really liked). I am interested in seeing the movie (the title of which is really the big punchline of the book, but you have to get through all 500 pages to feel its full effect), but I really wanted to have read the book first. Particularly since this book is famous for people not really being able to finish it. Well, folks: I was up for that challenge.

This book is awesome. Awesome. Really funny. And so totally modern seeming. In it, our narrator, Shandy, tells the story of his life. He doesn't get around to being born until halfway through the book, however. And he tells it with so many digressions and procrastinations and asides that most of the time the reader isn't even sure what exactly is going on.

If you'd like to read the whole thing online, you certainly can. Or you can borrow the nicely covered 1964 Dell Paperback Edition pictured above after Josh is done with it. Or go get your own, cheapskate.

Now humor me while I quote an entire chapter (chapter 14, in fact) from the first book:

"UPON looking into my mother's
marriage settlement, in order to
satisfy myself and reader in a point ne-
cessary to be clear'd up, before we could
proceed any further in this history ; -- I
had the good fortune to pop upon the
very thing I wanted before I had read a
day and a half straightforwards, -- it
might have taken me up a month ; -- which
shews plainly, that when a man sits down
to write a history, -- tho' it be but the hi-
story of Jack Hickathrift or Tom Thumb,
he knows no more than his heels what
lets and confounded hinderances he is to
meet with in his way, -- or what a dance
he may be led, by one excursion or an-
other, before all is over. Could a histo-
riographer drive on his history, as a
muleteer drives on his mule, -- straight
forward ; ---- for instance, from Rome all
the way to Loretto, without ever once
turning his head aside either to the right
hand or to the left, -- he might venture
to foretell you to an hour when he should
get to his journey's end ; ---- but the
thing is, morally speaking, impossible :
For, if he is a man of the least spirit, he
will have fifty deviations from a straight
line to make with this or that party as he
goes along, which he can no ways avoid.
He will have views and prospects to
himself perpetually solliciting his eye,
which he can no more help standing still
to look at than he can fly ; he will more-
over have various
Accounts to reconcile:
Anecdotes to pick up :
Inscriptions to make out :
Stories to weave in :
Traditions to sift :
Personages to call upon :
Panygericks to paste up at this door :
Pasquinades at that : ---- All which
both the man and his mule are quite ex-
empt from. To sum up all ; there are
archives at every stage to be look'd in-
to, and rolls, records, documents, and
endless genealogies, which justice ever
and anon calls him back to stay the
reading of : ---- In short, there is no end
of it ; ---- for my own part, I declare I
have been at it these six weeks, making
all the speed I possibly could, -- and am
not yet born : -- I have just been able,
and that's all, to tell you when it happen'd,
but not how ; -- so that you see the thing
is yet far from being accomplished.

These unforeseen stoppages, which I
own I had no conception of when I first
set out ; -- but which, I am convinced
now, will rather increase than diminish as
I advance, -- have struck out a hint which
I am resolved to follow ; -- and that is, --
not to be in a hurry ; -- but to go on lei-
surely, writing and publishing two vo-
lumes of my life every year ; ---- which,
if I am suffered to go on quietly, and can
make a tolerable bargain with my book-
seller, I shall continue to do as long as I

Now go read it!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

With Hold-Tite Backbone

1970s [?] Kleer-Vu Report Cover packaging, for your viewing enjoyment. It is hard to see on this scan, but the model's undereye circles are very strange when you see the sheet in person. It is almost like they were drawn in. As if to show that the power of the Kleer-Vue Report Cover ("No paper punching required!") is that you can procrastinate, go out every night, pull an all-nighter the day before the assignment is due, and your report will still look professional and neat in the morning.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Secret Boyfriends Keep Wednesday Alive

Work with me on this one, people: The Rock. I'm not generally into really muscley types, but I make an exception for this guy.

First of all, he has wrestling moves.

Secondly, a beautiful tattoo.

And last, but not least, doesn't he seem like he is a nice guy? I say: Yes!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Kid Dreams

Josh and I were having a discussion this weekend about recurring dreams we had when we were little kids. The only one I could remember was this kind of strange dream from when I was three or four where I was standing in a cul-de-sac in some strange neighborhood and this little boy was riding a tricycle around the circle. We wouldn't say anything, I'’d just watch him ride for awhile and then wake up. I remember having that dream a bunch of times in a row.

This discussion, however, brought back the memory of another dream I had as a kid that I always wanted to recur, but it never really did. In this dream I went into our backyard and found a tiny little house that looked kind of like a regular house, but was the size of a playhouse. I went into it and poked around and eventually found a secret passage that went into this huge underground apartment that only I knew about. I spent a bunch of time poking around in my secret apartment and then sat on the couch and read a book.

Man, I loved that dream. Josh pointed out that it was a little goofy to have a whole secret grown-up underground apartment and then just sit on the couch and read. Which is true, since its not like my parents didn't let me sit on their couch and read in the regular house. Still, it was the perfect thing to do and I stand by my childhood dream decision.

After I had that dream I would lay in bed thinking of my secret tiny house and underground apartment every night to try to get myself to dream it again. It hasn't worked yet, but I think I'm going to start trying again tonight.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Everyone is Open!

I'm trying to get my head around the seemingly-sudden onslaught of businesses using this poorly photographed Open sign (and I am way too lazy to walk down the street and take a non-out-the-car-window super-zoomed-moving picture of it, so just squint your eyes a bit and you'll get the idea). I noticed the sign one day at the convenience store by my house. A bit later, the same sign showed up at Toy Joy. Then the sign appeared on the slightly creepy Sno-Cone stand in the parking lot of a pawn shop on Guadalupe. It also graces the front of the new location of The Parlor on Guadalupe. Finally, it is on some new restaurant called something like Moe's Southwest Grill down by campus (sadly, not pictured -- oncoming traffic got in the way of my car window shot). Was there some kind of super discount on this sign? Did a door-to-door sign salesman hit up all the businesses in my area? Are these signs actually aliens that are going to take over the planet from store-front windows?

Oddly enough, I seriously just spent 20 minutes searching on the Internet for a site that sells this particular type of open sign and I could not find a single one. Tons of shops sell another popular Open Sign in my neighborhood (pictured at right). It is sometimes known as the "Disco Swirl" and sometimes as the "Economy Open Sign." So why can't I find the green oval beauty? Where are they all coming from? How many more of them are there?

Now that I have started to notice them, I can't stop looking for them everywhere I go. Please survey your neighborhoods and let me know how far this madness extends.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ice it down

[There were several great ones today, but this is my favorite. Note that this takes place at 9:14 AM.]

From the UT Campus Watch:

JESTER WEST DORMITORY, 201 East 21st Street

Criminal Trespass Warnings: A non-UT subject entered Jester City Limits and began shoving handfuls of ice down his pants and rubbing himself in a provocative manner. The subject then left the area and went to the closest men's restroom. Officers located the subject as he was about to exit the restroom. The subject informed officers that he had a medical condition and that putting ice down his pants eased the pain. During the investigation, the officer issued the subject a written criminal trespass warning and escorted him from campus. Occurred on: 7-20-06, at 9:14 AM.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wash it or Wax it

One chore I really really really hate doing is washing my car. The automatic car washes kind of freak me out, and I can never build up the energy to drive six blocks to the self-serve car wash in our neighborhood, find eight quarters, and wash it myself. I like to think that if I had a house and a driveway, I would be better about washing my car, but honestly, I don't think I would.

I probably washed my old car an average of once a year, if that. I never vacuumed it until the day before I traded it in (I was amazed how awesome it looked -- and vacuuming I don't mind as much as washing). I have never, ever, ever, never, nerver waxed my car. Do people really do that?

Now that I have a new car, I'm trying to be better about getting it washed. This is in fact one of the number one nags I get from Josh. He does have a point about all the bird crap and pollen stuff ruining the nice paint job, although I kind of hate to admit it. So today, I made the big sacrifice and washed the damn thing. Of course, it will just be dirty again tomorrow. Damn you nature and parking in the alley!

So here is my big question: in those self-serve wash things, what settings do you all generally use on your car? I just use "high pressure soap" and then "high pressure rinse," but there are like ten other choices on there. Maybe some of the other ones are more fun? Either way, I'm not washing my car for another year and that is that.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

It only comes but once a week: Secret Boyfriend Wednesday!

He is double cute when there are two of him....

Still very presentable when there is only one of him....

And even manages to make a monster coming out of his stomach look adorable.

Jeremy Irons: Wonderful Actor, Secret Boyfriend.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Muu-Muus in the archives

I found this part of an article (click to make it bigger) from the April 23, 1961 Durham Morning Herald in one of my math collections (on the other side was a "lifestyle" article about a female physicist that basically contained a series of exclamations along the lines of: "She is a theoretical physicist -- and she has four kids!" "She is just a regular housewife -- who does math all day!" and "She explores the secrets of the universe -- and the secrets of a perfect roast chicken!" It also included both a picture of her at a desk doing physics work and one of her getting a facial. Real hard-hitting stuff.)

It is hard to pick a favorite sentence from the muu-muu article, but I'm going to have to go with this one, primarily because of the use of "doff" and "don":

"And the career-girl who likes to slip into something comfortable but presentable after a hard day at the office can doff her shoes, don a muu-muu and settle back with a good book."

Second place: "It's a well known fact that teen-agers [note: did that really used to be hyphenated?] are live wires and a muu-muu is designed for 'wiggle and wear.'"

If only my mother had made me and her matching muu-muus to wear when we played in front of a cloth backdrop with our beach ball. Then my life would now be complete.

[And don't miss this ad from the same page.]

Monday, July 17, 2006

This just in: New TV makes life worth living

For Josh's birthday, I bought him half of the lovely new TV pictured here and he graciously threw in on the other half. Since our old TV was a present on his 19th birthday, and he turned 29 this weekend, this new one is much deserved. Not only are we moving from a 19 inch screen to a glorious 27 inches, but we also now receive more than just Fox on our TV. And since it somehow picks up digital signals through the antenna (I don't understand technology) we have inherited an additional PBS. Two PBS's! Awesome! Still no cable, but enlarging our selection from one channel to eight will really make a difference when NASCAR is on Fox and we want to watch TV while we eat.

Folks, bad movie nights will now be eight inches bigger!

Other birthday weekend events included Josh drinking half a carafe of wine at fancy Italian dinner, eating a hamburger carefully constructed out of marshmallow, bringing home a bowling trophy, and living both Dream A and Dream B.

I think it is safe to say that birthday weekend 2006 was a success...

[And does anyone in Austin want a free 10 year old 19" TV that only gets Fox? I swear that it is better than it sounds, and we would even throw in the modulator thingie that lets you hook it up to your DVD player. Everyone needs an extra TV for watching movies, right?]

Friday, July 14, 2006

Tasty Time

Follow these instructions and you will have yummy chicken breasts with garlic/lime sauce:

Take four chicken breasts, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and cook them in a tablespoon of canola oil for six or seven minutes on each side or until they are all done. Take them off the heat and keep them warm.

In the pan with the chicken drippings, toss in a tablespoon of butter and four thinly sliced garlic cloves. Cook those guys for about a minute until they are fragrant and nice, but not browned. Throw on about 3/4 a cup of chicken broth, bring it to a boil and then let it simmer for five or six minutes or until it boils down to about half a cup and looks thicker and more saucy.

Take it off the heat, stir in two teaspoons of lime juice and pour it over your chicken breasts. Sprinkle the top with some cilantro and serve with some lime wedges to squeeze on up in there.

Ta da!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Science is Culture: Seed Magazine

As we all know, I have a little bit of a problem when it comes to subscribing to magazines. Even when I try to cut down and not renew some of my subscriptions (recently I've given the axe to Gourmet, Martha Stewart Living, and National Geographic), I somehow find new magazines to subscribe to. Often my new finds aren't worth writing home about and pretty much cover the territory one might expect. In this case, though, I think I've found one that you really might want to check out: Seed Magazine.

Seed describes itself as "the magazine that connects science and society" and I think it does a pretty nice job of that. It has a mixture of wee sound bites and more in-depth articles on scientific topics that assume the reader is an interested and intelligent person that may not have a lot of detailed scientific knowledge. Complex topics aren't brushed over, instead they are explained in an understandable and relatable way. The magazine also has a neat layout, lovely color photography, and a sense of humor about its geekiness.

Even if you don't want to shell out the $20 bucks a year for a subscription, the magazine's website has a ton of full-length articles, as well as lots of interesting links and sciencey-type blogs to explore. My new favorite just-discovered navigation tool is the Phylotaxis. Go ahead and run your mouse through the wavering dots at the top of that page (it is also found on the main Seed page). Now click somewhere in there. You get more wavering dots and a sliding scale that can be moved between science and culture. Move the scale around a bit and click somewhere in the dots. Bam, an interesting article appears for your reading pleasure! I could spend hours playing with those quivering dots.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

SBW Version 2.0

One of my oldest and bestest Secret Boyfriends, through all his hard times, and into his currently animated state in our nation's theaters: Here's to you Robert Downey, Jr.

Good show.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

If you liked Plastkoid, you'll love this

As promised, the best coined term in New Tales of Space and Time comes in the final story, "The Quest for Saint Aquin" by Anthony Boucher. Let me just quote from the story's introduction:

"In this picture of the San Francisco area a thousand years hence where robots and robasses (mechanical beasts of burden) serve the society of the future, Boucher presents a somewhat revolutionary concept to science fiction writing in general. But specifically, in our opinion, he has written one of the three or four best robot stories ever published."

You read that correctly: robasses.

Want some more?

"It looked harmlessly like a woodpile sheltered against possible rain. Thomas pulled off the skins and contemplated the sleek functional lines of the robass. Smiling, he stowed his minimal gear into its panniers and climbed into the foam saddle."

If you can stop laughing every time the word "robass" is mentioned, you come to find that this is actually a pretty nice story. Plus the robass is a main character, it can talk, it plays the role of Satan, and it is mentioned about a million times.


Monday, July 10, 2006

I love this guy's hat.

My latest reading adventure from the pile of books that I bought at the Literacy Austin Booksale a few months back was New Tales of Space and Time: Brand-new Stories by the World's Best Science Fiction Authors Edited by Raymond J. Healy with an introduction by Anthony Boucher (1951).

This handy purse-sized volume contains ten stories that were commissioned just for this book and not previously published elsewhere, the most well-known of which would have to be Ray Bradbury's "Here There be Tygers." My knowledge of science fiction authors isn't as comprehensive as it could be, so the only other authors I recognized were Isaac Asimov and A. E. van Vogt. The stories range from really pretty awesome (Bradbury, Asimov, Neville, Cartmill, van Vogt), to rather boring and blah (Bretnor, Heard). And one story coined a term so hilarious that I think it deserves its own post, probably tomorrow (Boucher).

The most interesting thing about this anthology, aside from the fact that none of the stories had been published before, is that the editor commissioned the stories with the idea that they would all react against "two principal trends in fictional thinking about the future: an abject reliance on the coming superman... or a despairing belief that man is going to hell in a chromium-plated plastikoid handbasket, doomed to be the slave of his own machines -- if he doesn't blow himself up first." The authors tried to write their stories in "a major key" with a "fresher, more positive approach [to the] major themes in science fiction." Instead of being wishy-washy and utopian, this thematic limitation tended to stretch the authors' imaginations and lead to some really creative and engaging science fiction reading.

The only sad thing about this book is that the glue in the spine of my copy is all brittle and old and the book sustained some major structural damage as I was reading it. The second half of my reading extravaganza was therefore much more delicate than the first.

[quotes above taken from the book's introduction]

Friday, July 07, 2006

I got pricked and then stuck

Yesterday I donated blood for the first time in Austin. It is something I used to do regularly in Lincoln, but since I moved down here six years ago I've apparently been too lazy to drive the quarter mile from my house to the blood bank and get poked. Ridiculous.

So what motivated me? I heard a PSA about donating blood on KVRX the other morning, and somehow it clicked that it was something I wanted to do. I also remembered reading that UT would give you free time off work to donate blood (up to two hours at a time, four times a year). So I could leave work early, donate blood, and still get paid. Excellent.

Part of the reason I love to give blood (besides all those good "I'm saving lives" feelings) is that the blood bank is like a weird hospital where no one is sick and everyone is happy. The phlebotomists are all smiling and joking around with the donors. You also get to sit on those fun lounges and then watch as they do all those awesome laboratory moves with tubes and bags and iodine and needles. I just love that stuff [possibly because my mom has always worked in a hospital laboratory and I would sometimes come into work with her and look through the microscopes and play with the test tubes and such]. Then afterwards: All the juice and cookies that you can eat! Since I was a first time donor here, I also got a nice gift bag with heart-shaped red hots, a note pad, a clip, a silicone bracelet thingie, and a bunch of brochures.

The moral: if you can give blood, go do it. Especially if you work for the state -- if you can get paid while lounging back and then eating a bunch of cookies, and all you have to do is have a needle in your arm for ten minutes, then you would be a sucker not to do it as much as you possibly can.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Shoot 'em

Who needs to sit around and watch boring old fireworks when you can take crazy-drunken-neon-rain-nighttime-fourthofjuly-car-pictures? Only jerks. Okay, if you want to see one firework, there is one here. And it was honestly more fun to eat tasty grilled items and then drive back north during the fireworks show instead of stopping somewhere to watch it. We were rewarded with less traffic and more looking at all the people lined up along the streets downtown and looking up into the sky.

Excess july fourth pictures available here.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

SBW: Fly Guy Edition

Whether examining his Brundle hairs or warning us about dinosaurs, Jeff Goldblum is a solid member of the Secret Boyfriend Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Pee Party

Josh and I went to see Sergeant York (Howard Hawks, 1941) with Gary Cooper last night at the Paramount Theatre downtown, and I happened to have my camera in my purse. Lucky for me, this meant I could semi-document my favorite bathroom in all of Austin -- the ladies lounge in the balcony section of the Paramount.

The thing about me is, I have pee shyness. I hate public restrooms. I pretty much can't pee if someone else is in there making noise unless I have to pee really really bad. And please, for gods sake, don't try to talk to me while we are peeing. I hate that.

All my strange bathroom phobias disappear in the afternoon light of the Paramount ladies lounge. After walking through the spacious mirrored area, you come to a ample line of stalls faced by a set of windows. It is all nice and sunny on the tiles and sunshine floats into the stall by your feet. It is actually quite relaxing. The other bonus is that, at least during most of the movies, there is hardly ever anyone else in there. It is luxurious, quiet, sunny, and perfect.

I'll even go pee there when I don't really have to pee -- that is how great this bathroom is.

More Paramount photos here.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Love Invents Us

My latest random book read was Amy Bloom's Love Invents Us (1998). This one is one of Josh's books, and I had remembered in the back of my mind that he was kind of ambivalent about it. After reading the novel, I've got to say that I'm pretty ambivalent about it too.

The plot (for those of you who don't want to read the book): The novel follows the life of Elizabeth from elementary school through adulthood. She grows up on the East Coast with distant, wealthy parents. She is an outcast at school when she is young, takes care of an elderly woman three days a week, and has an ongoing love affair with one of her teachers from the time she is 14 until she is in high school (sometimes mental, sometimes physical). The affair stops when she begins seeing a hot young high school boy who she loves madly and who accidentally gets her pregnant. After she has an abortion and the boy's father finds out about her, he is sent away to live with relatives in the South. They don't see each other again until eight years later when Elizabeth comes back home to take care of the teacher whose heart she broke after he has major heart surgery. Boy is married but apparently the brief high school fling was so great that they can't keep apart from each other, so they have an affair. Teacher dies, boy decides to end affair. Fast forward another 15 years and Elizabeth is a single mother, boy finds her again, and they rekindle their relationship -- or do they?

The thing is, it sounds like a lot of things are happening in this book. And they are. But the characters are so lifeless and lame that one really doesn't care if they get together, split up, have sex, die, or seduce children. The whole thing is very unsatisfying, and the change of tense through the different parts of the book comes off as pretentious and distancing.

I give this book one giant "meh," two "blahs," and a "bleh."

I do kind of want to read her short story collection, though. Many of the problems with this novel seem like they could be resolved in short story form.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Dig that crazy sound

Last month I was the lucky winner of Dr. Mystery's monthly random caption contest. My prize: A lovely lounge compilation.

I have a strange lounge music relationship -- I really hate bad lounge compilations, crappy "Swingers" type affectations, and ridiculous ironic martini bars where the patrons are all dressed up idiots. However, I really love good lounge music. I religiously listen to Jay Robillard's Lounge Show on KOOP every Saturday morning. Actually I'm listening to it right now. And I do like martinis a lot.

The solution to my lounge dilemma?: A Dr. Mystery compiled lounge CD --

1. Todd Rundgren - International Feel
2. Croatian schoolkids -– Magical World
3. Caetano Veloso - Soy loco por ti America
4. Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot -– Comic Strip
5. Jon Brion & Greg Leisz -– Moana Chimes
6. Slim Gaillard & His Middle Europeans - Yip Roc Heresy
7. Rockin'’ Rebels -– Let'’s Play House
8. Esquivel! -– Tico Tico
9. Connie Francis -– Among My Souvenirs
10. Los Lobos - Sabor a mi
11. Henry Mancini - Lujon
12. Os Mutantes - Adeus Maria Fulo
13. The Langley Schools Music Project - Good Vibrations
14. Pavement -– 5 - 4 = Unity
15. Michel Polnareff -– Petite petite
16. Tom Ze -– Um "“oh"” e um "“ah!"”
17. The Revels -– Intoxica
18. Jackie DeShannon -– Needles and Pins
19. Virginia Rodrigues -– Raca Negra
20. Beastie Boys -– The Blue Nun
21. Lesley Gore - You DonĂ‚’t Own Me
22. Mukesh - Main pal do pal ka shair hoon
23. The Dixie Cups -– Iko Iko
24. Lee Hazlewood - Run Boy Run
25. Jorge Ben - Ponta de lanca Africano (Umbabarauma)
26. Elmer Bernstein -– Clark Street
27. Skeeter Davis -– The End of the World
28. Todd Rundgren - Le Feel Internacionale

Make sure to enter the next caption contest and such a lovely prize may randomly become yours! This is the easiest prize I have ever won.

[Note: The cover of my winning CD is above. I am only guessing that the Amelia Earhart Luggage campaign was launched before her mysterious disappearance. Also, why is Santa there? He appears to be up to something...]