Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Poem for August: Mentor

Another modern one, so you must click on the link:

Poetry that rhymes is much easier to memorize, in my opinion. It's probably because I am walking or riding my bike while memorizing and the beat of the words meshes nicely with the beat of the poem. I'm not a poet, but sometimes I think the imposed structure of "must rhyme" would be an interesting guideline while writing. It seems that most modern poets aren't so interested in the whole rhyme scheme thing, which is cool, but the rhyme was what attracted me to this poem. I was interested to note that the poem was originally published in a poetry journal completely dedicated to metrical poetry and I thought I should check out this journal. Alas, it was last published in 2004 according to a wiki stub.

Oh well, I'll have to find my metered poems elsewhere. Like, say: the past. Stay tuned.

Books read in August

A variety of reading styles this month: several "read aloud" volumes were finished, a poem book, book group books, a play, and an excellent piece of thick juicy fiction. But wait, there's more! Read on to find out what other winners there were this month.

All Night Lingo Tango
Barbara Hamby
These were enjoyable poems by someone I would guess is either a night owl or has insomnia issues. Hence all the classic movie references. The middle section are sonnets and reading them, I was quite confused as they did not follow the sonnet format I had read about. However, at the end, Hamby explains they are what she calls abecedarian sonnets, which she explains as, "There's one poem for each letter of the alphabet, each poem except one opening with its title letter and then following the alphabet through the poem." When I looked back, I saw this was true and found this to be a rather amazing feat of writing.

Favorite poems:
  • Sonnets from the Psalms
  • Ode to Airheads, Hairdos, Trains to and from Paris
  • I find an Entrance to Hell
  • Ode to Cake, Catcalls, Eggs with a Minor Scary Reference to the End of the World
  • Ode to Little Boys

Anne of Avonlea
L. M. Mongomery
I found the incredibly underdeveloped character of Dora to be quite a distraction in this book. Davy, her mischievous twin was delightful in his badness, but she was a blank slate. Other than that, Anne's navigation through early adulthood (although that started sooner then as she is 17-18 in this book) was enjoyable. Some of the "teacher" chapters were particularly amusing.

Freddy and Fredericka
Mark Halprin
I got this book from a booklist at the library, one of those "if you like this, you might like this" sort of things. I can't find what the "this" was that led me to the book, but I quite indeed like this book and I'm thankful for the list for steering me to it.

In an alternate present, the Prince of Wales (Freddy, son of Phillipa, not Charles, son of Elizabeth) is sent by the mysterious Mr. Neil to travel incognito with his glamorous wife to conquer the United States of America. The book skewers everything: the British press, the American press, the monarchy, the parliamentary system, the constitutional form of government, political campaigns, etc. etc. etc.

It's also quite generous with its use of words. The "sending of Freddy to conquer the USA" is first breached on page 170, all that comes before is establishing background. Halprin is clearly not worried about electronic age readers attention spans as he often takes more than five pages to set up a hilarious scene, which results in the reader working for the laughter, but many funny moments. There are also several touching scenes, one of which brought tears to my eyes, which was unfortunate as I was riding the Max train at the time.

For a busy person who only has time now and again to dip into this book, I would say, don't bother. But if you have the time to put into it, this is a very rewarding read. Perhaps it will do for your next vacation, no?

My Antonia
Willa Cather
Read for Kenton Book Group.
Ah, there's nothing like settling in with a book that you know you enjoyed before. It was enjoyable this time too. I think Willa Cather is the landscape painter of early twentieth century fiction and not only that but she can spin a yarn, too. Both times I've read this book I've been on deadline (first for a "History of Westward Expansion" class in college, now for Kenton Book Club) and I probably wouldn't have made it through this book without the deadlines due to its early twentieth century "you have to pay attention" prose and it's meandering pace and my book ADD, but it is such a marvelous book I'm glad that I've twice had the incentive.

Pride & Prejudice
Jane Austin
Matt & I read aloud
I actually finished this earlier in the year by reading it in bits through Daily Lit. However, I forgot to mark that momentous occasion via Goodreads. I read for the second time this year, because it was my selection to bring along for "read aloud" on the Bike Trip. The book was chosen because Matt and his friend Jeff wandered through while I was watching the miniseries and they started making fun of the story, categorizing it as "Mr. Darcy needs fixing and once the lady does, he's so much better." This isn't the point of the story at all, but after making a few attempts at getting that point across that were resoundly booed by both Matt and Jeff, I figured it would be much better if Matt read it for himself. And so the book was chosen.

I find this book quite funny, and enjoyed the characters. There was a point where I felt the narrative was a bit slow (it was post-Lizzie's visit to see Mr. & Mrs. Collins and pre-Lydia's scandalous behavior) but the story is so rewarding, I can overlook that. It was fun to read aloud and do the different characters. I especially enjoyed being Mr. Collins. Also, Matt saw the error of his ways, which is always nice.

AND the introduction of the edition we read (1994 Tom Doherty Associates, LLC,) was quite good. It seems to not have an author listed, but was called "The Life and Times of Jane Austin."

Much Ado About Nothing
William Shakespeare
Rumor mongering can kill a girl. And don't you forget it. My favorite part? "Yeah, that Hero girl is dead, but my brother has a daughter just like her. You want to marry her?"

Yep. Those women sure are valued.

On Beauty
Zadie Smith
I've had a great streak of big, thick books about families. First there was Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen, then Freddie and Fredericka by Mark Helprin. Now, another good entry comes from Ms. Smith, an author I've heard about, but never read.

I enjoyed wandering through the Beasley family's life, seeing the perspective from many different family members. I look forward to reading more of Zadie Smith.

The Order of the Stick Volume 2: No cure for the Paladin Blues
Rich Burlew
Matt & I read aloud.
The story continues with humor and more stick figures. The humor included a joke about a druid and a tree that had me laughing so hard we had to pause while I moved into silent laughter territory.

Order of the Stick, on the Origin of PC
Rich Berlew
Matt & I read aloud.
I'm a sucker for back stories, so I was happy with this slim volume in the OOTS canon.

A Single Man
Christopher Isherwood
I found this to be very spare writing that normally I would discard before I read too far in the book. Only the fact that I was constantly comparing it to the movie kept me reading. The characters in the movie were flavors of the characters in the book and the "one day" premise was the same, but many other things were very different. I did appreciate, as someone in one of the movie commentaries pointed out, that Isherwood was writing very matter of factly about the gay "lifestyle" in 1962.

A New Earth
Eckart Tolle
The insomnia I thought I had banished forever returned this summer and because I was not required to be at work at a certain time I was not proactive in getting rid of the insomnia by setting firm "go to bed/get up" times. What's a girl to do for and hour or two when she's awake in the middle of the night?

It turns out, listening to Mr. Tolle read this book was a highlight of my summer. His quiet, oddly accented voice was incredibly calming, and I took away a lot of his "live in the now" philosophy. I glanced at a printed copy of this book at Powell's and I think I can say that I would not have made it through this book if I had to read it. It seemed a little bit dry on the page, but was quite interesting to listen to. If you have chunks of time where you can do nothing but listen this might be an enjoyable book for you.

If you say so

While waiting for my haircut, I was amused by this ad for hair color:

Well, as long as it's the MOST masculine way to reduce grey...
And how do they quantify that, anyway? Were there studies?

6 Ranch pickup

The beef has arrived! Our shipment of beef from 6 Ranch came today and the Aunts and I picked up our orders.

Aunt Pat writing the final check.

Liza Jane and her daughter unloading the truck.

People waiting. In the background you can see two women dividing their order.
It's nice to have a full freezer of beef again. If you are interested in ordering grass fed beef from 6 Ranch, you can go to their web site:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Last day of Summer Reading Volunteering

Today was the last day of my summer reading volunteer stint. It was a great volunteer gig. I showed up for two hours every Monday afternoon and assisted children 0-18 participating in the program. This involved stamping their summer reading passport and letting them select a prize depending on what level they had achieved. This took about 15 minutes total of every two hour shift. The rest of the time I caught up on my own summer reading, watched the patrons in the library and absorbed the varying hubbub that is my popular neighborhood library branch. It was a good way to end my Monday workdays.
Have you thought about volunteering for Summer Reading? They will need you next summer, so I encourage you to sign up. Just like my friend Kelly encouraged me to sign up. You won't be sorry. And you get a t-shirt!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Certificate has arrived.

Eight classes completed. Approximately $8000.00 spent to earn my Graduate Certificate in Middle School Math. The certificate arrived today. It's not so much a certificate as an approved form.

For the amount of time and effort I put into this, I think it's not too much to ask for something a little more diploma like and less bureaucratic.
But that's Portland State for you.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Three sentence movie reviews: One Day

The thing I loved most about the book that this movie is based on is the numerous spot-on descriptions of life's passages between 22 and 42. There was no way the movie could depict these descriptions, leaving me to enjoy the passage of time through clothing, but little else. It wasn't a bad movie, it just paled in comparison to the book.

Also, I think there is an excessive amount of tongue in this movie poster. It makes me think "ew" every time I come across it in the paper. Even if it is two actors I find attractive.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pride and Prejudice: Worst. Cover. Ever.

When I go to Powells to purchase a classic, I'm always looking for the crappy paperback, of the $1.00 variety. Sadly, it seems that I need to employ a time machine to find that kind of book, as Powell's current prices bottom out at about $4.00. Or $3.95, which I paid for the copy of Pride and Prejudice (pictured below) to take on the bike tour. I might have paid a little more just because the cover to this book is so incredibly lame I still giggle with delight looking at it.

I initially judged this edition to be published in the early-to-mid-80s due to the Regency Romance type cover and was surprised to find the edition to be published in 1994. Note that it assures me right on the cover that this edition is "complete and unabridged." Um, yes, that is what I'm looking for.

It's a tossup which is my favorite part. The tagline "Mom's fishing for husbands--But the girls are hunting for love" is such a groaner and also not actually reflective of the story, as Matt exasperatedly pointed out before we were even halfway through our reading of the book.

Or perhaps I love most that Elizabeth Bennet, someone who in the novel does not yet have one and twenty years, is depicted as someone closer to my own current age cohort which is mid-to-late 30s. Quick, grab her Darcy, before middle age begins! Also, would Darcy have ever kissed her hand like that? I think not.
This edition, aside from meeting the high standard of delivering the complete and unabridged book, did contain an excellent introduction titled "The Life and Times of Jane Austin" which I found quite interesting and informative. So just one more reminder to never judge a book by its cover.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Three sentence movie reviews: Glee Season 1, Road to Regionals

The second half of season one had many delightful moments, perhaps my favorite being the Madonna episode and also the Safety Dance flash mob scene where both Matt and myself felt sad because Artie is such a good dancer and we normally never get to see him move his feet. I found the Bohemian Rhapsody/birth scene to be a bit of a stretch, but as usual enjoyed the singing and the dancing. Matt and I watched a dance tutorial in the DVD extras that told us how to do a tiny bit of the "Rehab" dance and I was somewhat discouraged to realize that they were teaching us the dance at about one-quarter speed.*

*I have to say that the DVD extras were very informative on the subject of dance. I've noticed that often the main cast mostly does the "circle around the piano singing" style choreography, which I understand as I don't see how they all have time to learn all the songs as well as do the acting part and then throw in the dancing on top of that. So I'm always thrilled when we get to see dancing from "other schools" which are clearly populated by professional dancers who always cause our jaws to drop. Zach Woodlee's choreography is amazing. Although of the main cast, Matt is a huge fan of Heather Morris' (Brittany) dancing.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Three sentence movie reviews: The Good German

This movie finally broke my streak of movies that contained good acting, good story, and were a little slow. I'm not sure how I missed this in the theater, as it has three actors I love to watch, and I appreciated their performances as well as the swelling 40s-style violins, the black and white film and the plot that kept me guessing. It was odd to see Toby Maguire as a morally compromised person, but that was just part of the fun.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Three sentence movie reviews: Word Play

I myself am not a crossword puzzle person, though I would like to be. I found the opening--where Will Shortz reads his mail--to be hilarious and the story surprisingly moving. There are "famous" people throughout this documentary, but I found the most interesting people to be the "only famous in the puzzle world" puzzle people.

Three sentence movie reviews: Where History Lives: A Tour of the White House

I've been a fan of Aaron Sorkin's TV series the West Wing for some time and I must confess that until I watched this DVD I didn't really understand what the actual West Wing was.* Luckily, I was hard up for movies and brought home this 30 minute DVD, hosted by Laura Bush, and it explained it to me. Thank goodness the library stocks such informative information.

No picture. Apparently informative DVDs don't have posters.

*This is much like me not really understanding that the US Capitol Building and the White House were not the same building. It was only when I visited Washington DC with my family as a 13 year old and saw they were two separate buildings that I realized that the White House was where the US President lived and the Capitol Building was where Congress did there work. Before the visit I could have drawn you pictures of both buildings, but they had joined in my mind as some hybrid where the president lived and the congress worked.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Three sentence movie reviews: The Chronicles of Riddick

This seemed to have higher production values than Pitch Black, though I found the story less compelling. The sets were awesome and I enjoyed seeing the arc of Riddick. In fact, I wouldn't mind some more Riddick movies, though I think this one makes it a little impossible.

At this point, I've seen all the Vin Diesel movies the library owns, though IMDB tells me that the library doesn't own all Vin Diesel movies. I guess I'll eventually have to search out the rest and actually (gasp) PAY to watch them.

Three sentence movie reviews: Dark Fury

We currently have at our house a borrowed copy of the DVD set of the Chronicles of Riddick Trilogy including this movie, Dark Fury. It's all packaged together and so I wasn't aware that this is a 30 minute animated "bridge" between two films. It was clearly drawn by people who think that Vin Diesel is one of the ugliest people on the planet, and thus was not really very fun to watch.

Three sentence movie reviews: The Thing Called Love

I knew going into this that it was a really awful movie, but had hope that the scuttlebutt was wrong, as Peter Bogdanovitch was the director, plus Sandra Bullock and Durmot Mulroney starred along side River Phoenix (his last movie) and Samantha Mathis (who?*). But yes, it was that bad. There were a few lovely moments, and the commentary features make me like it a bit better, but mostly this is a "only if you have the flu" movie.

*the commentary alerted me to the fact that the studio was pushing her as a new big thing. I didn't recognize her at all, but IMDB helpfully informed me she stared as the "older Amy" in Little Women. Oh yeah, her.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Three sentence movie reviews: Pitch Black

I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed this film, which I was only watching due to the Vin Diesel Film Fest. My liking had to do with two main things aside from the presence of Mr. Diesel: 1) there's actually a strong woman character in this movie, much to my surprise and enjoyment 2) when the monster part comes, it's pitch black and so we never really see the monsters eat the people. This is apparently an overlooked movie, so perhaps my recommendation will spur you to seek it out.

Three sentence movie reviews: Babies

Note: this great swath of eight movies watched in four days was because I was working on the Roman shades for the front room and there was a lot of hand stitching, which called for a lot of movie watching.

Documentaries for me are like my sometimes feelings about exercise, namely they tend to be something I have to force myself to partake in and then I usually quite enjoy them. This was no different. With hardly a word, we get to experience the first years of four children in widely different settings, which was informative (so that's what they do when there are no diapers!) funny and moving.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Building Gone

When we last checked in with the site of the former club Satyricon, it was in the process of being torn down. I'm midway through a three week vacation, so I haven't followed the daily progress, but I happened to be in the neighborhood today and so stopped by to update.

The building is completely gone, debris moved away and there begins to be a hole dug.

If you squint at the above picture you can barely see the little graffito in the middle of nowhere. Below is a closeup. My theory as to how it got painted in the middle of the wall? I think there was a window that was still operable when the building went up and someone opened it and muralized.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I have 8 pounds per year.

Matt and I have been reading Pride and Prejudice where one of the general items of gossip is how many pounds various gentlemen have per year. Mr. Bingley is a good catch with four of five thousand pounds per year. Then Mr. Darcy enters the scene and is said to have ten thousand pounds per year. This circa 1800, so four or five thousand pounds will take you pretty far, but ten thousand? Wow.

I'm assuming that "having X number of pounds per year" means that the interest payments on your total fortune give you that amount to live on, though I'm not one hundred percent sure of this. However, my bank statement arrived the other day and I noticed that the quarterly interest on my savings account was $3.26. I multiplied that by four to get the yearly total ($13.04) and used google to convert the currency to pounds sterling. It turns out I have a fortune of $8.01 pounds per year. This in 2011, not 1800.

I see that there's no doubt about it. Of the characters in Pride and Prejudice, I would have been one of the maids. Or maybe in a few years I could be Hill, the housekeeper.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The new house on Omaha

Matt and I were walking back from some good BBQ at Seven Rivers BBQ and we stopped to check in with the lot where the tiny house was. As you can see, it is being replaced by a gargantuan house with very little yard. Alas.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Three sentence movie reviews: Invictus

The theme for August movies seems to be "a bit slow" and this one was no different. The other theme is, "quite good acting, with enjoyable actors" and this movie fit that theme too. I was amused at all the lines of dialogue that clearly served only to inform the non-rugby understanding public of what the heck was going on, but overall, I was mostly bored.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Three sentence movie reviews: A Single Man

This was a gorgeous movie to look at and the acting was very good. It was clearly carefully composed, but somehow, it came off as a bit cold. I was drawn to the story and many elements were quite good, so I recommend it anyway.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Subject headings

Sometimes, I amuse myself by searching the library catalogs subject headings. The minutia of these fascinate me. I first discovered their delight when reserving a season of the television show the Office, Season Two. Are you aware that one of the subject headings for the show is "Clerks--Pennsylvania--Scranton--Drama"? Another is "Office Politics--Pennsylvania--Scranton--Drama" But here's where the electronic catalog is much more fun than the card catalog. By a single click, I can find out how many other titles have the same detailed subject matter. In the case of the above subject matters, there are five other titles--all seasons of the Office.

But let us follow a trail of subject headings and see where they lead us. I've just put on reserve Eleanor Roosevelt's 1960 book You Learn by Living, which has the intriguing subject of "Conduct of life." There are 797 other titles following in the subject heading from Las 3 preguntes: Quien soy? Adonde voy? Con quien? to Zig Zigler's Life Lifters: Moments of Inspiration for Living Life Better. But going back to the subject heading, I see there are some other intriguing subjects nearby. First off, the catalog helpfully tells me there are 37 related subjects from "Benevolence" through "Folly" "Self-Interest" and "Reliability." But there are also a host of different categories of "Conduct of Life" from 15 separate categories for African Americans (boys, children, teenagers, men, Mississippi, women, quotations, etc.) to "Conduct of Life, Celebrities United States" which is at the bottom of the page. Clicking to the next page would undoubtedly open up a whole world of "Conduct of Life" but we'll continue our journey with "Conduct of Life Anecdotes" with 19 entries.

The entries in this contain a few Chicken Soup for the Soul books and two different titles about how John O'Hurley has learned about life from dogs. But we will click on the title: Artistic License: Three Centuries of Good Writing and Bad Behavior. This gives us three other subject headings, we'll go with "Authors--American, Anecdotes." This gives us three other titles, two of which have to do with animals: dogs and horses. Apparently a lot of American Authors write about animals. By clicking on Cold Noses, Warm Hearts: Beloved Dog Stories by Great Authors we will then find ourselves with new subject headings. I'm going to take a more general one, to try and get us out of this dog trail and so I will choose "Authors--Anecdotes" which gives me three more books.

This time I'll follow the trail of It Takes a Certain Type to be a Writer which only gives me one new heading, which I must follow: "Authorship--Miscellenea" which sends me only one new book, Lucky Break: How I Became a Writer. From there I can follow "Creation (Literary, artistic, etc.)" which seems to be a broader category and it is, with 137 entries.

From there I can scroll and click until I find a book that interests me enough to put it on hold. The Multnomah County Library system has many small branches and one big library. Growing up, I usually found books to read at the Boise Public Library by wandering the stacks and grabbing what looked good to me. Now that the stacks at my local branch are much smaller and our library's hold system is so awesome, I tend to take recommendations from friends, newspapers and magazine and put them on hold. Scrolling through the subject headings is a new way for me to wander the stacks, at least virtually.

Three sentence movie reviews: Becoming Jane

Enough of making movie adaptations about Jane Austin's works. Instead, why don't we see something about the author herself? This movie was a bit slow, but packed with very good actors and so was fun to watch.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Transparents are here

The Transparent apples on my Aunt's tree are ripe which means it's time to make applesauce. Last year, Matt and I peeled and cored all the apples, but this year I'm just steaming them and putting them through the Squeezio Strainer.

I took home about 30 pounds and that was just a small fraction of the total number on the tree, even though this was a bad year for apples.