Monday, July 13, 2015

Carsick Bonus

One of the serendipitous moments that John Waters wrote about in Carsick was when he was picked up by a really good indie band, Here We Go Magic, and given a great and decently long ride from somewhere in Ohio to Indianapolis, Indiana.  He was glad to be among show business people for those hours, wherein he didn't have to explain himself due to the similarity of their life experiences as artists on the road.  They had tentatively spotted him as John Waters from their tour van, and when they circled back around and asked him where he was coming from, "Baltimore" was all they needed to hear.

In the spirit of my previous post, here's a little something extra. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Carsick, Tsukuru, and Down, Down the Rabbit Hole

I wonder if you all find yourself doing this, too. 

So, I'm reading a book, and something is mentioned--for example, a song title.  Especially if it's pretty significant to what's going on, or is mentioned a second time, I'll immediately find the song, buy it, and download it.  I'll continue reading while listening.

This happened in January, when I was reading Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.  The author, Haruki Murakami, kept weaving a song in and out of the narrative, and the title character even had a favorite version by a particular pianist.  The piece is Le Mal du Pays by Franz Liszt, and the pianist is Lazar Berman.  It's a lonely turns tender, dark, unforgiving.  Maybe angry.  Ethereal in places. 

I figured there would be multiple uploads on YouTube, and I wasn't disappointed.  This person even shared it because of the Murakami book, and lo, and behold--the comment section is filled with kindred spirits who came looking for the song to deepen their engagement with it.

I had a similar experience recently while reading Carsick, a book by a man with whom I'm quite obsessed right now, and who I think will always be a great inspiration to me--John Waters.

The premise of Carsick is that Waters, a life-long hitchhiker, stepped out of his Baltimore home, hitched a ride, and didn't stop hitchhiking until he reached his apartment in San Francisco.  There are fictional parts, as well as his real adventures, and he even included a playlist in the book to go along with his journey.  I didn't seek out those songs, some of which I knew, but I did do a little bit of extracurricular engagement when he reached his destination.  I came to this passage toward the end of the book:

I feel incredibly safe as the breath-taking panorama of the San Francisco skyline that no one could ever get sick of comes into view.  I immediately visualize that great YouTube clip of Judy Garland singing San Francisco on her 1963 TV show, and once you've seen it, you'll understand how crazily focused, insanely optimistic, and spiritually privileged I feel at this exact moment in my life.
Of course, I immediately went to YouTube and found what he was talking about, and was so glad I did.  I felt his joy at returning home after days on the road, relying on strangers, getting rained on and ignored at times, much more than if I'd just read his sentiment. 

John Waters is a surprisingly old-fashioned guy in some ways, and his mind is an encyclopedia of culture and pop culture.  I can't help but think that his original writing might have just said that he thought of the moment in the old Judy Garland show when she sang this song.  It may have been the suggestion of his editor, or even his assistant who types out his handwritten (yes...handwritten) manuscripts, that he mention the YouTube video.  Either way, I feel like this was a definite suggestion drop within the narrative--if you want to experience this more, put the book aside and take to the internet.  Even before I ever got to the Garland song, while I was reading Carsick, I consumed a lot of interviews of Waters during my work days, especially those archived on NPR, some of which were about this particular book. 

I wonder what you all think of this, and whether you do it, too.  Is it a good thing that we can engage like this with books, and not only find media immediately at our fingertips to enhance the experience, but maybe even find, if only briefly, a sense of community with others who have done the same?  Or is this all too distracting, and are we fostering an inability to focus on one thing...turning reading into another multi-task?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Letters from People to Their Younger Selves...

...are all over the interwebbies, and are pretty cool.  I find some of them highly detailed to the point of going on ad nauseam, or on the other end of the spectrum, just kind of general and generic.  However, some are really nice, and it's a good idea no matter how they turn out.  Mine's short.

If you feel different from many of your peers, it's because you are.  Those differences will become assets rather than hindrances approximately two minutes after high school graduation.

There!  I think that's all.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Stuff and Things

I've been absent!  Not much is going on.  As a catch up, here are a few things and some stuff.
I painted my kitchen which also wraps around to this wall...
drumroll...gray.  "Stormy Day" to be specific.

The gent on the right is my bff for a million years (20).  He's Chris.
 The gent on the left is Chris's new friend, therefore a new acquaintance
of mine, who I hope will be a great friend in due course.  He is also Chris. 
He is an amazing chef--he made us all his own special recipe on this night,
 and it was better than sex.  I had so much fun with these guys. 

This is in an antique store in Louisville.  I sent this picture
to "Bookshelf Porn."

Piper Kerman has made me obsessed with prisons and how loads of
people don't belong there, so I send a box of books every month to
Books to Prisoners.  This one was just started here.  It got topped off
and sent with a donation for shipping costs.  They fit the "in demand"
list, and I hope they help in their small way.

Again with the books...there was a hashtag on Twitter--something like
#booksarentdangerous, and the deal was that you were supposed to
tweet that and a picture of yourself holding up a favorite book,
and somebody somewhere got a free book.  I dunno.  It was a
good thing, but I don't remember details.  This one ended up in
the prison box, but I have other copies.  It's my favorite, favorite

I went to a play at the local college.  I was amused by the "Lichfield" sign
(OITNB fans know what's up).  The girl with the pretty red hair sat back in
her seat when the play started, so her big head wasn't as distracting as
it is in this photo.

Come on.  How cute are these trophy tops repurposed into wine bottle stoppers?

Love this lady in season 3 of OITNB, and am
thrilled that she can now legally marry me in all
50 states.  (LOL).
West Lafayette, for a reason unknown to me, has these bears everywhere (Like Louisville does with horses), and they are painted in creative ways.  This one is by a movie theater that I frequent.  I love it!  You can see the two movies they mashed together.  Pardon the poor camera work.  It was really bright, so I couldn't see the screen of my phone well, and a bee got into the super cool age inappropriate rips in the knees of my jeans while I was filming, and stung the crap out of me.
Those are all of the stuff and things for now.
EDIT:  It looks like the video will play for me on Explorer, but not on Chrome.  Apologies!  If you can't see it, it's neat.  Picture in your mind a bear painted with The Wizard of Oz and Guardians of the Galaxy mixed up into one glorious...bear carcass?

Friday, May 15, 2015


About a month ago, my mom and we (local) sibs went to her 60th class reunion.  She had a tiny class and went to a tiny, little school.*  They make a big deal out of milestone class reunions, and family members are invited.  At one point in the program, she and her classmates introduced their guests and made little speeches.  Hers was super cute.  Of course, the evening was a little bittersweet, because the memorial portion of the program included my dad.  It was interesting to see my two eldest siblings (sisters) get really emotional and start to tear up.  My brother and I, who are usually more emotional, didn't cry.  We felt the moments deeply, but I realize during times like these that my older sisters knew my dad longer, and maybe have more to mourn about his being gone.  I don't know.  It's just something to think about. 
I really enjoyed that night, and the high school where it took place was really old-timey.  I honestly think it might have been in the movie Hoosiers. It had the same feel as some scenes in it.  I guess I should look it up.  My folks' actual high school is long gone, but a nearby one holds the reunions of its own classes and those of high schools that have lived and died.  It's a nice tradition. 
There were some funny things about that night, and here is just one of them.  My mom had told us that the high school had photos in the hallways, and that if we explored enough, we would see our dad playing basketball, and her parents in their class pictures, as well as an aunt and uncle or two.  Early in the evening, my brother and I told Mom that we were going off to look for the photos.  She said, "Okay.  Don't get lost!"  We smiled and said that we wouldn't, and that we'd be right back.  As we walked away, I turned to my big brother, and in my usual deadpan fashion remarked, "I went to London by myself."  He threw back his head and laughed.  I smiled.  My brother is moving to Florida, and I will miss him so much.  We're birds of a feather.  I'm so glad that we live in this era, when keeping in touch is so ridiculously easy.
Here are some pictures from that night.
Mom.  She will turn 78 in June.  The
theme of the night was western; hence, the
plaid.  The corsage was my brother's idea. :)

Mom and a salad. 

The gym floor.  Cute.  :)

Mom and my Aunt Judy looking
at relatives' photos.

My mother's mother.  She died when my
mom was very little.  When Mom was
in first grade, her father married her teacher
who I later knew as Grandma.  All of my
biological grandparents died before I was

My niece Ava, one of the little ones that night.  She loved
the little toy horses and wagons that made up the centerpieces.
She'll look at old pictures of me and my siblings on the internet
instead of in hallways, I guess!
*Her senior class went on a trip to Washington two cars.  There were ten of them.  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Quotes of the Week--Patton

I curse the humiliation and bless the annihilation, and even more valuable than the impulse toward art, I gained an inner radar for dark, hidden places where the strange ones go.

With zero malice on their part, the adults who organized the afternoon showed F. W. Murnau's 1922 film Nosferatu.  They closed the blinds on the windows and projected it against a bare wall.  Eight-millimeter film, clattering projector, that faint burning smell as the projector bulb ignited the microscopic dust particles.  Dust particles are mostly flakes of dead human skin.  So, when I was five, I watched Nosferatu with the atavistic, pagan odor of simmering flesh corkscrewing itself into my memory.  The optics are dream-logic, ratman vampire imagery.  The perfume is cannibal cookout.  That little square light took over that darkened room, and while I and the other kids around me screamed and cried, I wanted onto the other side of that screen. 

I walked away from you, Four Star, but not before seeing a print of Gone with the Wind so perfect it felt like a massive hallucination from another dimension, were humans more operatic than us found a way to make the South's defeat in the Civil War the sexiest calamity that ever crashed into history.

I wanted to be lunar, not solar.

--All from Silver Screen Fiend: Learning about Life from an Addiction to Film, by Patton Oswalt

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Quotes of the Week--Solitude and Sci-Fi

Back in the day, I used to do Quotes of the Week.  This was always meant to be a little joke, because they would turn up every few months or so, at best.  I think it's been over a year now, so I figure it's time for another few quotes.  Nothing monumental just because they're the first in a long time...just whatever I've dog-eared recently.  There's even a quote of the week WITHIN a quote of the week.  Oh, the layers. 

So here they are...

How have we arrived, in the relatively prosperous developed world, at least, at a cultural moment which values autonomy, personal freedom, fulfillment and human rights, and above all individualism, more highly than they have ever been valued before in human history, but at the same time these autonomous, free, self-fulfilling individuals are terrified of being alone with themselves?

--Sara Maitland

Underlying these attitudes, Maitland argues, is the central driver of fear — fear of those radically different from us, who make choices we don’t necessarily understand. This drives us, in turn, to project our fright onto others, often in the form of anger — a manifestation, at once sad, mad, and bad, of Anaïs Nin’s memorable observation that “it is a sign of great inner insecurity to be hostile to the unfamiliar.”

                            --Maria Popova, How to Be Alone: An Antidote to One of the Central Anxieties and Greatest Paradoxes of Our Time page covered "the."

--both by Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death