Thursday, August 25, 2005

I may be back but probably not.

Take care, everyone.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

I woke up last night at 2:30 with an idea. Turning on the light, I fumbled for my ever-present notebook and pen, and I wrote.

This morning I re-read it and it suddenly occurred to me that I could send it in as my college essay. Okay: it has colloquialisms, contractions, first-, second-, and third-person; it's not structured; it's only 450 words; it doesn't have a story in it; and I reference obscure Slavic gods. But still, I sort of really like it.

It's called "The In-Between Places." Heh--after all that agonizing I did over what I'd write about, I never thought it'd be this. I guess there's something to that saying about finding what you need right when you're not looking for it.

College-searching, T.C.-style

I finally haul out the massive (massive!) bag of college propaganda that has been accumulating over the past year and a half. It is very daunting. I create five categories*, from !!! to eugh!, and proceed to sort sort sort, while—appropriately enough—Stephen Merritt assures me in the background that I’m “absolutely cuckoo”. Quite a while later I ceremoniously dispose of the eugh! pile and put the remaining piles in separate brown paper bags (I wonder if I will ever refer to them again?). Because I get the feeling that my dad was itching to throw away the 4th-tier bag behind my back, I decide to get creative with the bag labeling; they are now obliquely labeled Death, Dream, Desire, and Delirium—four of the Endless from oldest to youngest. Since I can quite confidently say that no one in my family knows the Endless family hierarchy besides myself, I think my 4th-tier bag (Delirium) is quite safe indeed.

So maybe I didn’t accomplish too much in terms of colleges. But I pretty much have a list worked out, and as much as I might deceive myself about how additional research will broaden my choices and whatnot, I bet I’ll end up applying to what I have now. Whether I get in or not is another matter.
*I also made a sixth semi-category just for the Claremont colleges, because I don’t know the difference between them and the sheer volume of literature—this of course being Ulysses-type literature, judging from page count at least—was skewing my other categories.
(NB: itwontfuckingkillyou; Scarlet’s Walk; grapefruit juice; ER; secret societies; Tristan Tzara; Big Country)

From itwontfuckingkillyou--why do I like this?

- - - - -

Oh, and in case you were wondering (you weren’t), here are some things I have eaten as a lame candy-subsitute when I needed to satiate my insane sweet-tooth but there was no ice cream or candy about:
  1. Chocolate-flavored calcium chew
  2. Flintstone vitamin
  3. Sugar cube
  4. Breath mints
  5. Cough drops
Today I employed numbers 1 and 4. Mmm-mm.

Good night; I can't wait till tomorrow because Sunday is my favorite day of the week, you know.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Insomniac Papers, vol. 1

I've gotten into the worst sleeping pattern: staying up till three or four (or, the other night, five--horror!) then sleeping in embarrassingly late. I'm out of sync with all my family and friends, and I end up whiling away the night hours on the internet listening to songs on repeat. Whenever I try cutting my night short and getting up after just a few hours, I'm irritable and sleepy all day.

So, Plan B. I'm staying up all night. I'll do some cleaning--bedroom cleaning, bathroom cleaning, kitchen vacuuming, notebook organizing. I like cleaning, when I'm in the right mood; I like getting things done and I like being useful...and despite what my sometimes catastrophic room would have you think, I love neat-and-clean-ness. Play some music, have some tea, read Good Omens for a while (Neil Gaiman. Terry Pratchett. A comic novel about the Apocalypse. How could I go wrong?).

Listen to my new iPod, which is really my brother's old iPod. It's 20GB (my old one is 10GB--my sister has happily inherited it), and he gave it to me. I love that kid. Anyway, I loaded all my music onto my new 'Pod today and christened him Slim. He's a little bit cocky but also quite affectionate, and he has a great ear. He likes cereal a lot. (But then, who doesn't?)

And since I, ironically, delight in all things cynical and pessimistic, here's a little more R. Crumb: Life and Times:
"Though I might be very fond of particular individuals, humanity in general fills me with contempt and despair. I hate most of what passes for civilization. I hate the modern world."
Heh. I just read this to my self-labeled-cynic little sister and she said, Yep.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Why I love R. Crumb:

"Your vigor for life appalls me."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Tombstone Blues

Finally read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, at my brother’s insistence. I agree with its zany philosophy on many counts; for instance, towels really are the most massively useful tool out there! I also got my senior pictures in the mail, which are okay but overall pretty lame looking. I mean, I look a bit vacant—ah well.

Loyal blog-readers probably know about my obsessive and slightly morbid fascination with graveyards—the older and more decrepit, the better. I’m always exploring spooky old cemeteries in the area, reading the epitaphs and memorizing the haunting angels’ faces and marveling at how often a husband and wife will die within weeks of one another. In an ironic way, graveyards are actually quite comforting places, and they’re populated by so many tales. Every one of those stones represents a person’s whole life—there’s really no other place on earth that ties up the loose ends of so many stories, and sparks memories of a thousand faces in a thousand different minds. The more wild and derelict the cemetery, the quicker my imagination starts exploring the lives, and creating impossible worlds for them to inhabit.

However, I don’t know if I’ve ever come across so many lovely old graveyards as these in London:

(This is perhaps the most disturbing one, no?)

As Death would say,

(P.S. The Audioscrobbler redesign looks fantastic! The list of my top-40 artists is a pretty good representation of my music tastes, as opposed to the pretty skewed weekly chart.)

Monday, August 08, 2005

A change of pace

I find that the more I write in this blog, the less I write creatively--which is really what I'd rather focus my efforts on. So, for the time being at least, I'll post little updates of what I'm up to, but the bulk of the text will be things I've found interesting in reading (online or otherwise). If that makes sense.

So, me: A few days ago I visited Mass MoCA (to see the Leipzig artists and Cai Guo-Qiang's work) and Dia:Beacon (the highlight being a big Warhol exhibit, among other things). I also stopped in briefly at Williams, Bard, and Vassar colleges--the first two of which I liked enormously, the last of which I didn't like at all. Yesterday evening we had another 826 meeting, this time led by 826 National's Nineve Calegari. I'm reading Hermann Hesse's Demian and listening to Tori Amos almost exclusively. I've been drinking less coffee and more milk. And I've been painting, writing letters, etc. etc.

I've also been reading more of Glenn McDonald's articles online, which brings me to a couple snippets from him--the first, I've posted here before; the second, for contrast:
Here are some good things in the world that humans are responsible for: the way tapioca pearls pop out of the big plastic bubble-tea straws into your mouth in little clusters of three or four; the red and blue lights on Volkswagen dashboards; Ryo's mother's oden bar in Princess Nine and the bridge in Love Hina; Emmitt Smith setting the rushing record; custom Scrabble boards; Thanksgiving; politeness; wood-burning stoves; down comforters and snooze buttons; frailty, courage and CAT scans; the way paper folds; mail rules; bow-ties you tie yourself and shoes you don't; the way all suitcases come with wheels and those telescoping handles now; all the health food you don't eat; Natural Capitalism and Midnight in the Garden of Evel Knievel; the Criterion Collection and the Viking Portable Library; "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight" and "The Ghost at Number One"; Google and eBay and the page at that tells you how much it costs to mail $17 in cash to Kyoto; the way people venture out of their homes to attempt something they would like to see done; the way somebody looks at you in between the moment in which they realize that you're no longer a stranger and the moment in which they decide whether that's an improvement or not. The kick pulse in Chitose Hajime's "Hummingbird" and the snare twang in Tori's "Taxi Ride".
And then, in a different article, a digression off a different record:
Here are some gratuitous examples of wearyingly banal minor evil: people who pull out quickly after an ambulance goes by and try to get past the cars that had pulled over ahead of them; advertisements that cite "your favorite" something, particularly with a classifier that's unrealistically generic or specific, like "now offering your favorite beverages", or "all your favorite hypoallergenic air-mattress cleansers"; the articles written at midday, every day, attempting to ascribe significance to the morning's stochastic stock-market fluctuations; bureaus or corporations that attempt to promulgate their own nicknames, like the Department of Public Works stenciling "The Works" on all their trucks, or Kentucky Fried Chicken trying to go by "KFC"; the fact that no airline has thought to mount the seats in their planes on tracks, so that in a quarter-full flight they could slide all the unused ones to the ends of the sections and give the remaining passengers humane legroom; cropped movies of any kind, but most especially cell animation, where the cropping is cutting out details at the edges of the frame that some person had to physically draw there; political parties; cable-television fees; talk radio; the insane American notion that people only need ten or fifteen days off from work in a whole year.
I couldn't agree more. (Not only are these very true, but they also appeal to my list-making sensibilities.) That's all. Back to Emil Sinclair!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Some of what I'll be seeing tomorrow:

Quick-segue-less-update day!

Today I was in the city and I saw a sign that said, "You MUST convert to born-again Christian or you WILL go to Hell." It was a neon sign. It made me laugh.

I also got another (ANOTHER!) notebook and I'm making pretty things in it. And then I painted some pictures, and maybe I will send some to my pen-pals. I read Martin Amis' The Rachel Papers, which despite its egotistical, sex-obsessed hero, was the funniest book I've read in as far as I can remember.

(I think I've perhaps read too much Brit Lit lately? Moore, McEwan, Rowling, Gaiman, Amis,, I need to branch out, definitely. Hermann Hesse maybe?

I watched Sid and Nancy, a movie about Sid Vicious (of the Sex Pistols) and girlfriend Nancy Spungen--about their violent relationship and tragic end. It was upsetting, but quite deeply moving.

Also, I have Lyme disease (as a result of having two dogs who like rangy hikes, and of course of living in New England), but I just need three weeks of antibiotics and then I'll be fine. Only problem is, I can't swallow pills (I have an inexplicable but vehement aversion to medicine), so I have to open the capsules and eat the medicine with apple sauce (yuck) or ice cream (yum!). My sister, who for her depression has to take multiple medicines every morning, counseled me in the ways of pill-popping. Many a joke was made about our drug-dependent statuses.

I bought tickets for the Sufjan Stevens concert in September!

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST: I'm going away tomorrow, but just for a couple days. Mass MoCA, Dia:Beacon, and probably (ugh) a couple colleges. I'll pack myriad CD's for those looong hours on the road,, I wonder how many times I'll oh-so-intelligently make oblique references to Kerouac over the course of the next two days? Eyes will roll, I will laugh. A good time will be had by all*.

*Footnote! For those certain stubborn English teachers who insist that the passive voice must never be used (hehe) under any circumstances whatsoever, cite "A good time was had by all" and "All was lost" (They lost everything?). Never fails.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Jarmusch and Joujouka

I love summer mornings. I woke up at 12:30, then I had coffee and chocolate-chip cookies while listening to these indie covers of bubblegum-pop songs and reading about Jim Jarmusch’s eccentric film-making style. I remember seeing Stranger than Paradise a while ago, and being completely baffled, because it was unlike anything. I understand why Jarmusch’s films have been described as sort of foreign films set in America.

This one part is the truest thing I’ve heard anyone say about how passions ought to be—how unreserved and encompassing and silly and obsessive:
“His [Jarmusch’s] passions, which reflect his resolute disinterest in the conventional, include the study of mushrooms ('I almost died after eating wild mushrooms'); bird-watching ('In 12 years, I've identified about 80 birds in my yard in my home in the Catskills'); the authorship of Shakespeare's plays (‘I think it was Christopher Marlowe'); the history of cinema ('Some mornings I'll wake up and say, 'There's an Ophuls film I haven't seen, and I need to see it today'); and, most of all, music. He wrote Broken Flowers while listening to recordings from the early 70's by Mulatu Astatke, an Ethiopian jazz-funk artist (whose music ended up in the film), and is currently enthralled by a duo called Coco Rosie, who, as he described them, ‘sound like two little Billie Holidays an octave higher if you were on acid in Tokyo in 1926.’”
And at one point in the article Jarmusch talks about the NYC of the ‘70s, when he went to Columbia there; it’s pretty much exactly the way I romanticize it, though I think it’s unfortunately become a great deal more gentrified since then…
“During the late 70's in New York, anything seemed possible. You could make a movie or a record and work part time, and you could find an apartment for 160 bucks a month. And the conversations were about ideas. No one was talking about money. It was pretty amazing. I don't like nostalgia…But, still, damn, it was fun. I'm glad I was there.''
- - - - -

So, when I get interested in something, the first thing I usually do is jump from page to page on Wikipedia. As a result, I learned yesterday about Dadaism, Jean Arp, Tristan Tzara, the Cabaret Voltaire, Georges Bataille, Fluxus, the Master Musicians of Joujouka*, Brion Gysin, the Dreamachine, and more. Good stuff.
*The Master Musicians of Joujouka: (or, as I keep on accidentally typing, “the Master Magicians of Joujouka”). This is a 4,000-year-old Moroccan rock band; while living in Tangiers, Brion Gysin created his 1001 Nights café solely to employ the Master Musicians so that he could hear them play every night. (Gysin was friends with William S. Burroughs, so I’m guessing that’s how the Beats were introduced to (and subsequently enamored of) the Master Musicians.) I’ve ordered their CD, and I’m looking forward to it enormously. Incidentally, the CD was commissioned by Brian Jones, so I guess even the Stones were fond of these lira-playing rascals.

Also, on an entirely unrelated note—I’ve been reading some Flannery O’Connor lately, and I just finished “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” Which was, well, shocking. At least, it was not at all what I expected. It was…quite a tumult of grotesque characters and banality and horrifying turns of event. But anyway. I finished Sandman a few days ago, and damn. I think I’ll write about it tomorrow.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Good art:

"Configuration," by Jean Arp:

"Three Candles," by Marc Chagall:

I'm going to see Leipzig art at Mass MoCA in a few days. More on that later, maybe. Also, I'm going through a Dadaist phase, hence the Arp. Forgive me.

Oh, and listen to "Wednesday," by Tori Amos. And, if you're curious, look into the Mornington Crescent game. G'night.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Ahhh…so many things to write about, sorry about the sparse updates. During the school year I always used to write up posts during French class*, and now…well, I’m writing this post in a notebook, in my bed, at three in the morning. What’s that, sleepyhead?! you cry, aghast. Yes yes, I know, quite late indeed. I’ve assumed the rather irritating habit (irritating to myself as well as to those around me) of staying up till two or three, sleeping till ten, and then complaining about how I’ve overslept, and Why didn’t anyone wake me up, dammit!—to which I’m assured that various family members did try to rouse me over the hours, but I either yelled hostile things at them, or muttered that I was “already up” (foul liar!), or simply lay silent as a corpse.

So anyway. Back to what I was saying. Which was…ah okay. Not much, gotcha. Oh! a footnote. I’ll address that here rather than at the end so I won’t forget. So, without further ado:
*French class: Yes, I will be continuing with French next year, in addition to Spanish. However, I am horrendous at French and had a terrible teacher last year, when I was in French 1 (not that I listened much…case in point being my rather extensive and freakishly (for me) regular posts.) Anyway, I wish someone would tutor me or at least speak French to me so I can work on pronunciation so I won’t completely embarrass myself at the start of next year. Maybe I should start watching more French films?…a bit of a risque way to get an education, but hey—could be fun, eh?
Speaking of the beginning of the school year (eck—I hate to even mention it!), I think I had better start exercising or something so that on August 31st I don’t look like I’ve just been sitting in the sun reading all summer because, um, that would be totally inaccurate. (Sometimes I sit in the shade.) But yeah, although I must admit that for the first time in uh, ever, I actually have a chest—which is nice—I feel a bit plump and uncomfortable. But I don’t really like exercise—the catch-22, you see. Maybe I’ll just take up jogging again—I used to jog every day. Hated it, though. Hated that I was running with no particular purpose or destination. Also, I rather dislike sweating… (I’m one of those kids who always signs up for “mixed games” in gym class.) Uh huh. But then, if I get in shape, I’ll hafta sacrifice the chest…oh well.

Hm, on a decidedly less awkward note, I’ve quite outdone myself (so modest!) with the latest thing I’ve created. It’s a robot. Well, it’s more like a stuffed doll that is a robot; I made it for my sister because she was feeling glum. In all honesty, it’s really not very attractive nor masterfully done, but I had to sew it by hand and I’m bollocks* at that kind of thing. That said, I’m quite proud of it and when I locate The Amazing Disappearing Digital Camera, I shall document its every facet for you guys. Because obviously you’re set on edge with the intrigue of it all.
*Bollocks: Hooray for British slang! I’m not sure where I picked that up, though—surely it couldn’t’ve been Harry Potter, as I’m fairly certain bollocks means—um, y’know. Gosh, I hope Harry wasn’t using language like that! Scandalous!
Oh, small side note: I got the score for my AP exam the other day, and I got a 5, which is exciting for two reasons. First, because I didn’t take the class (I oh-so-arrogantly decided that I could teach myself the material better than the teacher could, after the first couple weeks of school) and the teacher was so infuriatingly certain I wouldn’t pass unless I took his class—ha! Second, because that means that I’ve gotten perfect scores on the SAT I, SAT II, and AP I’ve taken within the past few months. And I don’t say this to gloat, but the obsessive-compulsive perfectionist in me (which is not so much a small aspect of me as it is an overwhelming characteristic of my being) rejoices at this. (I think I wrote some kind of frantic post while in the midst of studying for the AP exam back in May—complete with the panic-mode desk photo and prophesies of doom and yeah, you get the idea.) Okay, that was more than a “small side note,” wasn’t it? Eugh, sorry for being so self-absorbed. Then again, this is after all a blog; self-absorption is sort of their sole purpose.

All right, my handwriting has regressed to the point of near-illegibility. Which means it’s definitely past my bedtime. G’night, all (though in all likelihood I won’t post this till tomorrow). And the inane drivel must end. This is why you must never enter into conversation with me after midnight; I’m more verbose and incoherent than usual, which is really quite a feat. Good night then!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Bookworming, as usual

Anyone who’s read this blog for any extended length of time knows that I’m an incurable bookworm. Typically, perhaps, for a kid living in the creatively stifling, routine-oriented world of suburbian high school, books are the best way to escape into another world where heroes always vanquish the villains and true love vanquishes the heroes. I read pretty much whatever I can get my hands on, though the vast majority is made up of novels, with little nonfiction (besides magazine articles and the newspaper) and the rare short story or poem.

With that said, here’s what I’ve been burying my nose in the past few weeks:

Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami—The characters were all quite lovingly, intriguingly painted, but because I could sense such richness even in secondary characters, I felt a little gypped when the book ended, in my opinion, several hundred pages too soon. I was slightly irritated that Murakami kept dropping deep philosophical quotations (via Oshima), but I can forgive him that because I so loved the magical bits that seemed to sneak in to help me suspend disbelief for the rest of the fantastical, Oedipal, breakneck-paced story. Certainly unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and I want to read more by Murakami—probably The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle next, if only for the terrific title :)

Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides—I read a chapter from this in the New Yorker a few years ago, and at the time I was frankly too surprised by the fact that the protagonist is a hermaphrodite to read the rest of the book. I’m glad that I’m too curious to have abandoned it forever. Eugenides thankfully doesn’t expoit Callie hermaphroditism for shock-value or literary “eccentricity”—that would have repulsed and saddened me. Though the book starts out slow, it progresses from Smyrna to San Francisco, from Greek Orthodox to the Nation of Islam, from silkworms to crocuses, from Callie to Cal; this was without a doubt one of the vastest books ever to be packed into 500 pages. It was delightfully obvious how much Eugenides loves his characters, and I in turn was quite in love with them as well. Definitely worthwhile—and at the boring parts, at least you can always focus on the story’s lovely craftsmanship!

A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey—One of the strongest things I’ve ever read, in turn making me curl my toes in agony and also tear up a little at the few kindnesses extended to him. It’s a memoir, which begins with Frey entering rehab with the quite painful lack of four teeth, part of his cheek, drugs, alcohol, or a memory. His friends there are a mobster, a state supreme court justice, a prostitute, a steel worker, a rapist…I initially kept on for the painfully engrossing shock-value, but Frey’s story develops into quite a soul-baring tale of how he overcame his myriad addictions and terrible odds, and also about the relationships he builds and the equalizing nature of addiction. I might have been too upset to continue at times were it not for the fact that I knew Frey survived at least to write AMLP. Made me want to read Frey’s My Friend Leonard, which just came out. Highly, highly recommended.

Watchmen, by Alan Moore—Despite all the praise I’ve seen surrounding this book (a comic, or graphic novel, actually), I found it mediocre at best. The story line is interesting enough: a group of superhero-like vigilantes handle the city’s crime in their own lawless way, until the fictional Keene Act outlaws vigilanteism and they’re forced to abandon their crime-fighting identities (The Incredibles, anyone?). The main plot revolves around a mysterious “mask-killer” who is picking off the crime-busters one by one. Then there’s the threat of nuclear war, an alien invasion…y’know, just another day in New York City. But like Moore’s V for Vendetta, Watchmen introduced a lot of intriguing characters and ideas without ever fully fleshing them out, and the copious amounts of blood ‘n’ gore were almost never necessary, but always repulsive. The ending was marginally redeeming to the book, but overall I thought Watchmen was a waste of my time.

Atonement, by Ian McEwan—The story begins in a happy, wealthy English household in the early 1900’s—little Briony is a budding writer with an overactive imagination, while older sister Cecilia pursues a strange flirtation with their housekeepers’ son, Robbie. But Briony misconstrues Cecilia and Robbie’s relationship, setting into motion a destructive chain of events that continue to have repercussions during and after the war. Many people might be turned off by the large chunk of pages devoted to Robbie At War and Briony As A Nurse, but I liked them both immensely. Though the story functioned always under a shadow of regret and, ultimately, tragedy, it was a beautiful and impeccably drawn picture of a few intertwining lives.

Harry Potters 4, 5, and 6, by JK Rowling—If I need to tell you, you don’t deserve to know. (I ramble about Half-Blood Prince in the post below this one.)

Anyway, I’m currently in the middle of a Sandman marathon (my obsession with all things Neil Gaiman is another pervasive theme of this blog)—a huge, engrossing comic series from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s that should not even be in the same category as Watchmen. I’m currently in the middle of the fifth volume of ten. More on this later, but I’ll leave you with a picture of the totally badass Dream King:

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Beware of Half-Blood Prince spoilers!

I’ll assume that by now, most of you have finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, so I’m finally going to post my thoughts on it. If you don’t want spoilers, don’t read on.

All right…overall, I liked it a lot. I thought that the trio’s various romantic escapades were rather lame and out of character (Ron and Lavender? Hermione dating McLaggan to make Ron jealous? Come on!)…but I guess their love lives had been stagnant enough thus far, something was bound to happen. Regardless, I wish that those pages had been dedicated to plot instead.

Ah yes, plot. Although I certainly laughed aloud many times (Mollywobbles, Phlegm, Ron’s half an eyebrow…etc.) as I enjoyed the first several hundred pages, I did feel like very little was happening in comparison to previous books. (Although the first two chapters were excellent.) Then near the end, all of a sudden everything started happening and I didn’t know what to think. I actually gasped many times, which is good :) I was very upset when Harry had to make Dumbledore drink the poison (“That was no health drink, Harry!”—ha ha), and when Snape killed Dumbledore, and when the locket showed that it had all been for naught (though as we know with JKR, nothing is really for naught). That said, now that I’ve calmed down a little, I realize it was quite inevitable; the hero has to ultimately face the villain alone, be forced to act like a man, etc. Oh Harry!

I think the reason I’m not as enthusiastic as I might be is because the book revealed so many more questions than answers. Things that I thought would be answered or at least addressed/fleshed out in this book, but weren’t: (1) Sirius’s two-way mirror from the previous book (2) Lily’s importance—why was Voldemort willing to let her live? (3) The characters Luna, Neville, and Ginny. (P.S. Anyone else think that Wormtail's silver hand means that he's going to kill Lupin?—after all, silver kills werewolves.)

As for the questions introduced by HBP, oh my. Well, we know that JKR always introduces things for a reason, but what, for example, was her reason for introducing the muggle Prime Minister (in the first chapter no less!) and what was the plot importance of Harry’s oh-so-mysterious Half-Blood Prince spell-book?—he did better in Potions, and of course Snape is important, but the textbook itself seemed rather pointless.

Then there is Snape. How did Snape really convince Dumbledore of his innocence (there’s no way I believe Harry’s reason)…And remember how Hagrid overheard Snape and Dumbledore arguing earlier in the book:
"Well—I jus' heard Snape sayin' Dumbledore took too much fer granted an' maybe he—Snape- didn' wan' ter do it anymore—"

"Do what?"

"I dunno, Harry, it sounded like Snape was feelin' a bit overworked, tha's all—anyway, Dumbledore told him flat out he'd agreed ter do it an' that was all there was to it. Pretty firm with him."
As such, I'm inclined to think that Dumbledore sacrificed himself for the cause; his death cements Snape's rep as a cold heartless Death Eater—he's now the perfect spy. Dumbledore would never beg for his life to be spared. I think he was begging for Snape to have the courage to Avada Kedavra him. (But then why didn't Dumbledore tell McGonagall? To protect their secret from Occlumency? Hmm…)

I think that possibly the most important, most overlooked plot point of HBP was the repercussions of Sirius’s death. Specifically, Harry now owns Grimmauld Place and, more significantly, he is Kreacher’s master. Kreacher and Dobby’s tailing of Malfoy through much of the book had little effect, but we can assume that they’ll continue to follow Malfoy (and, presumably, Snape) after they flee Hogwarts. (Two side-notes: First, don’t house-elves have a special, strong brand of magic? And second, I think Malfoy is going to be redeemed somehow—after all, he didn’t end up killing Dumbledore.)

The other really important thing revealed at the end of the book—though this is much more obvious—is the fact that the locket horcrux was a fake. I’m assuming that R.A.B. (from the note) stands for Regulus Black, Sirius’s younger brother who joined Voldemort’s ranks then was killed when he tried to return to the good side. Right. And remember how when they were cleaning Grimmauld Place (Black residence) in the previous book, they came across a mysterious locket that wouldn’t open? Either that locket is still in the house, which Harry now owns (doubtful), Kreacher stole it, it was thrown away…or Mundungus sold it. Hmm!

(Oh, side note about the horcruxes. So maybe seven is a lucky number or whatever (after all, there are seven Harry Potter books! ha ha), but if I were an evil soulless murderer who wanted immortality, I’d horcrux everything in sight: enigmatic, boring, hidden, obvious, big, small…so I’m a little curious about that.)

Okay, that’s enough for now. The only other thing is that I was hoping for a great battle in Hogwarts, with all those moving staircases and hidden passages and ghosts and such…but I suppose we can still hold out for book 7! Heh.

Wow, I really italicized and analyzed the hell out of that book...I guess that now you can begin to understand why I'm such a literature nut! Feel free to comment with your own HBP reflections. Take care, I'm off to the doctor's office, what fun.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

No real spoilers, don't worry

Well, I just finished. Oh, I cried and I'm really upset now. And the bulk of the book was sort of--but I don't know, I'm still in shock from the end, I need to sleep on it at least before I can form a real opinion.

So many things don't make sense, don't fit. I don't...I don't know. My eyes are still wet. Why, JKR, why?!

P.S. Don't make fun of me, this is no laughing matter. I've spent thousands of pages with these people, this hurts!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Harry Potter and Howl's Moving Castle: O how I love my wizards!

So, fewer than 24 hours till Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is released! The first two chapters have leaked onto the internet and they...are...within...clicking...distance... BUT I'm using all the self-restraint I never knew I had to try to not read them until I've got the book solidly in my hands. But oh, it's so hard. It's very, very hard...

All other news is really secondary to that, but... Well, I finally turned my brother on to Bob Dylan, which is great for me, because I can listen without him drowning out my music, but better for him, because he gets to discover Dylan! I was listening to Blood on the Tracks today and it was just heaven.

Also, today a friend and I went into Boston to see Howl's Moving Castle, which (though based on a book by Diana Wynne Jones) was drawn and dreamed up and directed by the genius Hayao Miyazaki. It wasn't Spirited Away, but it was pretty amazing in its own right. (I mean, it's unfair really to compare anything with Spirited Away, which was just--well, beyond comparison. If you've seen it, you know what I mean.) Regardless, Howl was magical and the art was breathtaking--like photographs but a hundred times more vibrant, and unreal. And you know that I'm not much of a fan of reality :) Despite the string of bad movies I've had the misfortune of seeing recently, I loved Howl. I hope this is breaking the trend!

Okay, off to bed for me. I typed up a quick to-do list for tomorrow--I wonder how productive that's gonna be...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I don't think I clarified this in my previous post; I said that listening to Tori Amos made me miss Neil Gaiman. Well, specifically, "Tear in Your Hand" (part of it goes,"If you need me, me and Neil'll be hangin' out with the Dream King; Neil said hi by the way."). It's fitting that they should be friends; they're both so talented in their very different ways, their different areas, their different cult followings. She writes him into songs, he writes her into books (she's Delirium in Sandman, you know, and the tree in Stardust). He has also written more than one short story for various tour booklets of hers.

I was reading some of these online today. For Strange Little Girls, he wrote a very, very short story for each of the twelve songs. The songs are all covers, quite lovely, of songs sung by men; without changing the words, she seems to be singing about the women. Here's the story (and picture, of Tori of course) for "Raining Blood":

Here: an exercise in choice. Your choice. One of these tales is true.

She lived through the war. In 1959 she came to America. She now lives in a condo in Miami, a tiny French woman with white hair, with a daughter and a grand-daughter. She keeps herself to herself and smiles rarely, as if the weight of memory keeps her from finding joy.

Or that's a lie. Actually the Gestapo picked her up during a border crossing in 1943, and they left her in a meadow. First she dug her own grave, then a single bullet to the back of the skull.

Her last thought, before that bullet, was that she was four months' pregnant, and that if we do not fight to create a future there will be no future for any of us.

There is an old woman in Miami who wakes, confused, from a dream of the wind blowing the wildflowers in a meadow.

There are bones untouched beneath the warm French earth which dream of a daughter's wedding. Good wine is drunk. The only tears shed are happy ones.
Or for "Strange Little Girl":

There are a hundred things she has tried to chase away the things she won't remember and that she can't even let herself think about because that's when the birds scream and the worms crawl and somewhere in her mind it's always raining a slow and endless drizzle.

You will hear that she has left the country, that there was a gift she wanted you to have, but it is lost before it reaches you. Late one night the telephone will sing, and a voice that might be hers will say something that you cannot interpret before the connection crackles and is broken.

Several years later, from a taxi, you will see someone in a doorway who looks like her, but she will be gone by the time you persuade the driver to stop. You will never see her again.

Whenever it rains you think of her.
(You can read the rest of them here, as well as see Tori dressed up like the different strange little girls...) And here is the Memento-esque "Pages from a Journal found in a shoebox left in a Grayhound Bus somewhere between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Louisville, Kentucky" he wrote for Scarlet's Walk.

There's something about that really strong mutual friendship between two so the way Picasso and Matisse were friends, or Byron and Shelley, or Camus and Sartre, or Ginsberg and Kerouac. Inspiring and understanding each other.

- - - - -

This evening I went to a book reading by Mark Helprin in honor of his newest book, Freddy and Fredericka. I haven't read anything by him since A Winter's Tale, which made me fall in love with Peter Lake so hard I was afraid to read anything else by him. With its people who live on the ice and the disappearing lake-town covered in snow and gangsters on Peter's heels and consumption that just makes you look healthier and the newspaper battles and that great flying horse! And whenever I'm feeling sad, I think of the engraving that Hardesty carries around,
"For what can be imagined more beautiful than the sight of a perfectly just city rejoicing in justice alone."
But anyway, I digress. Helprin talked for a couple hours, and I liked it when he was talking about romanticism and books and deer but not when he talked about politics and the avian flu. (Of course, his books have famously been skewered by the ever-liberal literary critics because they resent his vocal support of conservative politics--but that doesn't bother me, he's still a brilliant story-teller.) Strangely, Helprin didn't read from his new book, but I did get him to sign my much-thumbed, very battered copy of A Winter's Tale and it was funny, very Brookline, to see a pierced, tattooed skater-type waiting in line to have Helprin sign his copies of A Soldier of the Great War and The Pacific.

I didn't buy Freddy and Fredericka but I did buy The Facts of Winter, by Paul Poissel. More on that later.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Camus, spinach, origami, and other loves

It's sad when you start feeling indifferent to something you used to love. But I think I probably start loving more things every day than I stop. I stopped: jimmies, the internet, Andy Warhol. I started: proverbs, glasses (or, as I prefer: spectacles! in more ways than one), Tori Amos, driving, Camus, spinach, short stories. I guess at this rate pretty soon I’ll love mostly everything. Which makes me happy.

Speaking of Tori Amos, those of you who know how prone I am to sudden and potent obsession will not be surprised to hear that I am quite enamored. Each song is like reading a really great book—but no, that’s not a fair comparison. Each song is like finding out something new about yourself—every time you hear it. And like making a friend. And a story unfolding…and then folding into a different shape. Origami.

“She sings like an angel and rocks like a red-haired banshee,” someone said of her. I think that’s about right, or as close as anyone’ll ever be.

- - - - -

As I was listening to Tori, I missed Neil so I’ve been reading his short stories all day. I wish I wouldn’t keep getting stuck in my writing, but I guess it would be no fun if it were easy. Right? This is what’s supposed to happen. Right?

- - - - -

Could David Byrne possibly be any greater than he already is? Well yes, he can: “Sometimes it’s a form of love just to talk to somebody that you have nothing in common with and still be fascinated by their presence.” I like that.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

What I am doing right now (11:53 p.m.)
  • Drinking warm Coca-Cola
  • Listening to a 12-minute mp3 of James Frey reading from his book A Million Little Pieces, which I am half-way through reading
  • Fueling the Harry-Potter-obsessed fire by reading Half-Blood Prince rumors and news over at MuggleNet
  • Peeling sunburned skin off my shoulder (damn Irish genes!)
  • Blogging
The jury is in, my friends: I am definitely a dork.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Fictionalizing reality

I have an odd habit of sometimes regarding the present in premature retrospect. Sometimes this is good: I can put events in perspective, try to make connections, be aware of the ways I change as I grow up. But I slip into this unconciously, and when I realize I’m doing it again I make myself stop, because it seems that that sort of detachment from Now can only harm me.

I have a feeling that it’s the bookworm in me that’s doing it. Not just my previously professed love of being the observer—the reader, too, and the writer. I think I’ve spent too many hours of my life immersed in the lives of other people, through books. Those third-person, past-tensers—a nice 500-pager with a flawed protagonist—they’ve become such a part of me that I find myself accidentally fictionalizing real life.

Let me explain. Sometimes I narrate my actions in my head: what I’m doing, why; the requisite scene-setting descriptions; foreshadowing, metaphors; and of course: emotions, doubts, triumphs—honest in that brutal but forgiving narrator sort of way.

Sometimes it’s in first-person, as if from a memoir written twenty years later: (to be delightfully meta about this): I was forever trying to articulate—and come to grips with—my eccentricity; a public journal, it seemed, would be almost like writing an autobiography in real-time…

Sometimes I silently add colorful adverbs and adjectives to the dialogue of people who are talking too me, or around me, if I’m bored: …she said slyly…he confessed…she lied through her teeth…he added bitterly…

I'll realize suddenly what I'm doing and make myself stop. It seems too, I don't know, cowardly of me I guess, to be fictionalizing what's real. That kind of detachment seems like a dangerous thing. And I never want to be a coward.

Though now that I think about it, maybe this is just the Truman-Show vanity and self-consciousness that everyone has (does everyone have this?)—you’re the star in your life story, and your world revolves around you… But I’m inclined to say, arrogantly perhaps, that this shouldn’t be dismissed or stigmatized as those evils egotism and false self-importance. We have to realize the importance of ourselves, don’t we? And maybe all this Ayn Rand has rubbed off on me, but is egotism really so terrible?

And now, in the excessively tedious novelization of my life…she takes off her glasses to rub her eyes with the heels of her hands and, resigned for the time being to a life of writing about writing (too rarely actually buckling down to do the thing itself), she climbs the stairs to bed and to strange dreams about immigrants in styrofoam packaging…

Good-night. (No wait: Great-night!)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I apologize in advance for this post

I am looking at the sweetest scenario just now: my sister is scratching my dog’s belly and my dog is simultaneously scratching my sister’s leg (to be fair, I guess). When my sister stops, so does my dog. When she starts back up again, my dog does as well. Cutest. Thing. Ever.

Speaking of my sister…she’s doing better than before, but not great. She always seems to be very lethargic and unhappy in her depression, so I’m always on the go trying to cheer her up. I try to do activities with her every day to get her up and moving and smiling, but it can be tough… Last night I drove her out to Friendly’s in the middle of the night to get her one of those monster sundaes, and then we played Taboo. Today we went out for a drive to Kimball’s and she painted my shoes with me afterwards… I don’t know, I can usually get her giggling like normal, but it doesn’t last long. She just comes home and goes to sleep, and I try to rouse her with one thing or another. It’s tough having to be in charge of her all the time, especially since I’m sure she’d rather have me just leave her alone. She’s going to a private (um, “alternative”) school in Boston next year, which I hope will be better—it seems great, I’d love to go there, but she’s been attending summer school there a couple days a week and she always seems loath to go. I keep on thinking it will be one more push and then everything will be better, but more and more I get the sense that she will always have to deal with this—and consequently, so will we, because we love her so. Oh, but it’s tough.

Hey, at the risk of sounding too much like my mom: When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

Sorry to go all angsty on you guys—you know how desperately I try to avoid that (heh). Ah well, take care.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Egg-Off approaches!

I got new glasses a couple days ago—they’re tortoise-shell framed and pretty dorky, but I like ‘em. I usually wear contacts but there is something vaguely romantic (eh?) and fitting (to my personality at least, hah) about being curled up somewhere with a book or standing in front of my easle painting, pushing the glasses up on the bridge of my nose from time to time.

Tomorrow’s Independence Day, which is a super! fun! day! at my house at least. I’ll be wearing red-white-n-blue, natch (my shoulders and cheeks are sunburned so there’s my red!), and my best friend and her family will be coming over, along with my aunt and uncle. Traditionally, on the 4th of July, my family has an event that we call, um, the Egg-Off. You can probably guess what it entails…namely, various games that involve eggs. Y’know (or perhaps you don’t): Egg toss between teams of two people stepping farther and farther apart, to see who can get farthest without the egg breaking. Race around the house with an egg in a spoon. Make some sort of cushioning package for your egg using only natural outdoors materials, then toss it off the roof and see if it breaks. Um, yeah.

(What can I say, when you live in the suburbs with a family that makes its own fun, you learn to roll with the punches. And as long as you can ignore the complete ridiculousness of everything, it can be quite a hoot.)

So at dinner tonight, we were tossing back and forth various ideas for new things to do this year. My brother suggested just throwing eggs at each other, each person with a frying pan as a shield to deflect them. Then my sister suggested that we all just throw them at my mom, who would have to deflect from all angles—heh.

Then there’s lots of food, a must in the O’Brien household, and fireworks of course—across town—later on in the night. And the drunkard at the end of my street rarely fails to set off a few of his own homemade fireworks…though he doesn’t usually stick to the general rules of 4th of July, or, y’know, nighttime. Ah, the drunkard…

On an entirely different note, I’ve seen a couple interesting movies recently; I usually don’t have much time to watch films during the school year, but with summer comes our Netflix subscription and as many weird independent movies as I want—as long as I adjust the film queue online before my brother does, heh. (My movies aren’t manly enough for him.)

I saw The City of Lost Children, by Jean-Paul Jeunet (Mr. Amelie), which was terrific visually and…well, intriguing in plot, but not fantastic. Sort of like it was trying too hard to be endearingly eccentric. It was about children in a mythical city who were kidnapped by an evil scientist (assisted by six dumb clones), who tried to steal their dreams because he didn’t have any. (It was cooler than I’m making it sound, though, I’m just terrible with synopses.)

Maybe the real reason I didn’t like it is because of the kidnapping theme. When I was little I was terrified of being kidnapped; it was my biggest fear, and it was something that I would worry about quite often. Being kidnapped or, alternately, being abandoned by my parents. I don’t know why I would fear this; my parents were always endlessly caring, and they never threatened anything of the nature. Of course, my mom would warn me about not getting into cars with strangers (“And T.C., what if the man says, ‘I’ll give you candy if you get in my car…’?”—“Okay!…oh, um, I mean: Are you a bad guy?”), but it was never an actual threat. Yet whenever I’d wait for my mom or dad to pick me up, I’d be quite fearful of being left alone or “stolen” unless my big brother was with me. This fear persisted for an embarrassingly long time—until I was in about sixth grade, I think.

But oh how I digress. The other movie was In the Realms of the Unreal, about a janitor-artist…actually, I’ll talk about this later. I’m sleepy. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Some disjointed thoughts:

I think someday I would like to go to the Berlin Love Parade, if it ever gets started up again.

I didn't really like The Aviator but I did like Cate Blanchett's portrayal of Katherine Hepburn.

In fact, I like Cate Blanchett in general. (Ahem, Galadriel.)

I'm going to help teach ninth graders World History next year. I've never really felt like teaching is something I want to do as a career, but that said, I do seem to spend a lot of time teaching/tutoring/playing with kids. I don't know.

I think I'd like to lose my virginity to Radiohead. It disturbs me vaguely that I would think this.

I want to get my hands on The Whole Earth Catalog (after hearing Steve Jobs' Stanford commencement address--"Stay hungry. Stay foolish." Yes!)

My sister teases me because I actually become distraught when bad things happen to Harry Potter in the books ("Why is everyone so mean to him? They don't understand anything about him!")

I can't decide whether everyone is like me or nobody is like me. Probably nobody; I don't know if I'm happy about that or not. (Guess I'm an indecisive gal, eh?)

That said, there's probably nothing more exciting than finding like minds. I've found a few, not many, but a few.


Is it possible to feel nostalgic for times you weren't alive in, or miss someone you've never met?

I don't want to go to college, I just want to go out into the world. I'm not sure what this means for my future.

I painted again today, over an old painting. It's funny, I never need to buy new canvases, because I just paint over old paintings when I run out. It's cathartic.

People with catatonic schizophrenia sometimes freeze in a strange and impossible position, like a statue, for hours. It is a scary and beautiful thing--it seems magical.

I got Oki's zine today, and the best word to describe it is YES. It's hilarious and beautiful and completely bizarre and fun and fantastic. It's the best. She's the best.

The end.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Reading, looking, listening, watching, thinking…I’m like a sponge, absorbing everything around me until I feel about to burst. Today I’ve read far, far more words than I’ve spoken—which seems antisocial (and maybe it is) but it is peaceful and slow to me. I like being alone—not all the time, but—there’s something very poised and at once utterly careless about it. There is no self-consciousness, and at the same time a hyper consciousness of oneself.

I’m not trying to be enigmatic here…but it’s always hard to try to explain myself.

I read these two unbelievable articles today, one a profile of the "misfit" Comme des Garcons designer Rei Kawakubo and the other about Albania’s irreverent artist-mayor Edi Rama ("He spends his days repairing the body and soul of a shattered capital and his nights prowling its streets…"). (Both are highly individual, inscrutable, ambitious, creative people…which I guess says something about me, or about what I’d like to be.)

- - - - -

It feels like a storm is approaching, and the sky is bright white but the ground and trees are dark…the air is eerily still, like a vacuum or the silent moment right before the climax of a scary movie; heavy with humidity, everything seems somber.

I like being alone, but this utter silence around me is disconcerting. (Just the clickety-clack of my typing, with heavy pauses in between sentences.) I’m tired, but it’s probably just lethargy—I need to get up and move, do something, make something…

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Haircut today. A seemingly interminable time listening to the ditzy hairdresser talk about her boyfriend’s opinion of her most recent haircut and her own surprisingly fervent thoughts on the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes debacle. Now my hair is much shorter and so shiny from the blow-dry that I kept fingering the newly shorn ends as I drove home (be-bopping to the Rolling Stones, natch).

Library trip, during which I looked at impossibly structured but quite beautiful dresses in Vogue and checked out a few books with my war-scarred blue library card. I started reading Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex—I read his Virgin Suicides a while ago and it was disturbingly great—and so far it’s strange, but fantastic. It’s about a Greek-American hermaphrodite…yup. I vaguely recall reading an excerpt of it in the New Yorker a couple years ago, and it’s even better than I remembered.

Also: my sister and I decided that we need to re-read Harry Potters four and five before six comes out July 16th. We’re taking shifts (like Bloomsday!) of reading it aloud, so that one of us can eat/draw/paint toenails/loll while the other reads the book with the requisite over-dramatic dialogue and running commentary. Boy do I know how to have a good time!

- - - - -

I’ve recently become slightly obsessed with John Currin’s creepily vacant-eyed, exploitive, caricature-ish paintings. (Does that make me a bad person?) I don’t like the exaggeratedly busty ones, though... I like the portraits best--including this first one, which is called "Heartless," heh:

Happy Tuesday, gang!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Digressing about the un/reality of people in books

Oftentimes when I'm reading a book, I'll become rather obsessed with some trivial character--a walk-on, even. The person is usually quite two-dimensional, with only a sentence or two of introduction, if that. But I find myself wondering what kind of a person this is, for surely he has as complex a story as the protagonist--maybe more so. I wonder who his family is, and how he may have become an integral part of the story if only things had lined up a little differently.

In The Fountainhead, for once the answers were provided by the author instead of my own imagination, because characters like Dominique, Ellsworth Toohey, and Gail Wynand were just barely mentioned in passing, like a dozen others, until a few hundred pages into the book they suddenly became quite vital to the story.

In Murakami's Kafka on the Shore, which I re-read today, I wondered about the old man in the coffee-shop:
"Hoshino didn't know this, of course, but the man used to be an official in the Ministry of Education. After retirement, he came back to his hometown of Takamatsu and opened up this coffee shop, where he made fine coffee and played classical music."
As far as I can recall, this coffee-shop man didn't even have a name. But he could have had his own book, I bet, as could Oshima's brother or Kafka Tamura's father or the young teacher who testified at the beginning. On the other hand, now that I think about it, writers could fill the whole world with books about these different characters, but if I just spent all my time reading about them and sympathizing with figments of somebody else's imagination, I guess I wouldn't have any time to be with real people, the dullest of whom is intrinsically more interesting than any character in a book, because real people are dynamic--always changing and learning--and people stuck in ink and paper can't ever change from the day they're published (except in the minds of real-live people, of course).

No matter how real they may seem to me, sometimes.

Which brings me to my next thought: if reading about someone is bound to be less interesting than an actual tangible exchange--and on top of that, one-sided, because you can't converse with people in books--then why do I love it so? Maybe because I get to act as an observer, coming to my own conclusions as slow as I like, without being pressed for a response or analysis. I can accept big things that are wrong or confusing without bothering to delve into them, even if that's what's expected of me, and I can focus on little things that are wrong and confusing--or little things that are good and right.

Because I am shameless, I'll quote Pulp Fiction:
"That's when you know you've found somebody special. When you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and comfortably enjoy the silence."
What I'm trying to say is, I think that what I like about books so much--well, maybe just one aspect of why--is that I can be introspective by myself, at my own pace, thinking what I want or not thinking anything at all, without having to ruin my thoughts by the proprietary rules of reflecting out loud. Sometimes I like talking about books--in fact, a lot of times I do--but I don't like doing what's expected of me. I don't like having to answer the question, "What did you think of that?"

Is that just petulance? Eh.

So that's the trade-off of real people versus book characters: the luxury of being the undisturbed observer of a situation, or the excitement of the inability to flip ahead and find out what the character's thinking. I'm glad I have both.

P.S. What should I read next? I'm thinking maybe James Frey's A Million Little Pieces (nothing like a harrowing tale of drug addiction to read on a sunny beach!), but I'm open to suggestions.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Last night I finally watched Dig!, a documentary that Ondi Timoner filmed over the course of seven years, following the friendship, rivalry, rise, and fall of two bands in the '90s and the minds behind them: Anton Newcomb of the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Courtney Taylor of the Dandy Warhols.

Anton was the real tortured genius: he was terribly prolific, he played countless instruments ("he fuckin' broke my fuckin' sitar!"), each of his songs was breathtaking and unlike anything else...and he was so screwed up mentally and physically that commercial failure was almost an inevitability. It would have said something amazing about the music industry if he had been able to succeed.

Haruki Murakami wrote, "People are drawn deeper into tragedy not by their defects but by their virtues...So an inevitably irony results."

In fact, Dig! is so bursting with irony that it reaches at times the point of painful obviousness—Timoner's one failing, I think, was that the film should never have been obvious.

The greatest irony, of course, was that Anton—the more talented, the more visionary, the more idealistic—was bound for failure, while he simultaneously inspired the relative success of his close friend and sometimes-rival, Courtney. Courtney lacked perhaps the wild genius of Anton, but he could get through a show without kicking in the head of an audience member, a tour without firing half the band, a recording session without heroin. And the only person who can’t see this irony is Anton himself: “I don’t do anything wrong,” he says. “That’s why I don’t say I’m sorry.”

Again and again throughout the film, Anton declares, “I am not selling myself!” as if he’s trying to convince himself of it. His talent persuades one manager and industry official after another to put themselves on the line so Anton can get a record contract, and time after time he wreaks destruction on his chances of success.

"He is his own worst enemy, because he thinks success and credibility are mutually exclusive," said one friend in the film.

And yet, after seeing the film I went online immediately to buy a CD by the Brian Jonestown Massacre, and I downloaded some music by the more-accessible and also terrific Dandy Warhols. Sings Courtney,
“In a way, I can’t
help but feel responsible:
I always knew that you were insane
with your pain.
But I never thought you’d be a junkie
because heroin is so passe.”

Friday, June 24, 2005

New look

Not too radical, alas. I'm not sure what I think of it yet; ideas? opinions? criticism? Clearly, I'm not good at working with many colors/designs all on one page--I'm pretty much limited to altering it in Blogger's little template box, since I don't have Photoshop or other such fancy-shmancy programs. That said, I like that I'm forced to keep the page nice and simple.

I was deciding between dark red or dark blue for the main color, and I may change it. We'll see. I'm a bit sick so I probably won't be messing with it more for at least a few days. Take care.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I'm going to quote more Glenn McDonald--I've been reading him obsessively--and I don't care that I've already quoted him twice. So:
Here are some good things in the world that humans are responsible for: the way tapioca pearls pop out of the big plastic bubble-tea straws into your mouth in little clusters of three or four; the red and blue lights on Volkswagen dashboards; Ryo's mother's oden bar in Princess Nine and the bridge in Love Hina; Emmitt Smith setting the rushing record; custom Scrabble boards; Thanksgiving; politeness; wood-burning stoves; down comforters and snooze buttons; frailty, courage and CAT scans; the way paper folds; mail rules; bow-ties you tie yourself and shoes you don't; the way all suitcases come with wheels and those telescoping handles now; all the health food you don't eat; Natural Capitalism and Midnight in the Garden of Evel Knievel; the Criterion Collection and the Viking Portable Library; "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight" and "The Ghost at Number One"; Google and eBay and the page at that tells you how much it costs to mail $17 in cash to Kyoto; the way people venture out of their homes to attempt something they would like to see done; the way somebody looks at you in between the moment in which they realize that you're no longer a stranger and the moment in which they decide whether that's an improvement or not. The kick pulse in Chitose Hajime's "Hummingbird" and the snare twang in Tori's "Taxi Ride".
Also, today I was in Boston and I ran into a girl from 826. It was neat, and it made me feel warm. I also saw the movie Mad Hot Ballroom with a friend and it was too! cute! for! words! and heartwarming, etc. It made me wanna dance, too...or at least it made me wish I knew how to dance. I wish I could swing-dance and I wish I could do the t-w-i-s-t.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

(Ugo Rondinone
HELL,YES! 2001, Installation view, f a projects London
Neon and Acrylic Glass
copyright Ugo Rondinone)

Finally out of school!

Yesterday night was bowling at Lanes and Games with the 826 gang, good stuff. I wore sandals there so I had to buy socks before I could bowl. They say "Bowlers Rock!" on the ankle and they are splendid.

Wearing my Harry and the Potters t-shirt in wild! anticipation! of the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on July 16 (three weeks!). Boy am I excited...I think I'm going to start re-reading the books soon so that I can dive right into HBP.

There's no vocabulary
For love within a family, love that's lived in
But not looked at, love within the light of which
All else is seen, the love within which
All other love finds speech.
This love is silent.

--T.S. Eliot

Monday, June 20, 2005

A little wisdom from the inimitable Glenn McDonald, Cambridge's own unpublished music critic and crafter-of-prose extraordinaire. From the beginning of an old Sleater-Kinney review:
Here in the US, though, where most people (including many art students) think that art school is for learning how to use Photoshop and FrontPage, where all things are possible and so most of them never happen, where rebellion is an advertising style not a social imperative, and where independence is every bit as formal as government, we require rebel music to be made with guitars...
Reading his reviews are like reading a good book, and his passion and obsession are contagious.

- - - - -

I don't usually have the patience for biographies, but I love the allure of "real"--the things real people did; when, where, and how; who they met and who they married, why they went to jail, where they went in the wintertime, and who their favorite writers were. To satisfy this lust (ehh bad word-choice): WIKIPEDIA! Here's a good one on Jean Cocteau, knock yerself out.

In other news: French final done, a couple more tomorrow and then I'm off to go have a meeting/fun-fest at a bowling alley with the 826 folks. I'm listening to Regina Spektor and memorizing the political affiliations of various political leaders. A good time if I ever knew one :)
800 on the Literature SAT II, which I took earlier in the month. Ah, finally the fact that I go to a school that is obsessed with preparing us for standardized tests is paying off! But seriously. The morning of the test, when my mom was driving me to the testing center, I was quite anxiously reciting the definitions of conceit and zeugma and litotes under my breath but they didn't come in handy at all. Ah well. My English teacher's gonna be so proud, since I'm the only kid who ever reads the books or participates in English class.

I still have to take Math and possibly Spanish SAT II's (anyone know how the Spanish one is?) next fall. For COLLEGE. Argh.

Well, a nice note on which to end the year, at least. Now I must finish cramming for my French final that is in a couple hours, since I studied minimally for it. Goddamn irregular verbs!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Oh goodness, my summer reading list has swelled to epic proportions!

Argh, here it is. Feel free to tell me what to add, or what to bump up to the top. Good thing I read like a fiend when the sun is hot on my back...
"Children, wake up!
Hold your mistake up--
Before they turn the summer
Into dust."