Friday, June 27, 2008

Back, Jack.

I can't wait to share bits of my Alaska trip with you all soon, but I'm feeling less-than-perfect at the moment, and working my way through boxes of Kleenex (my Alaskan souvenirs were smoked salmon, and illness). So check out this blog post of the trip which, along with this bitch of a cold, are compliments of It's Come to This...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Northern Exposure

"moose in marsh" photo from jasonweaver's flickr page

I'm off to Alaska for a week, to see two
lovely friends get married during the summer solstice.

And, I've been promised, I'll get to ride a moose.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

When in Rome...

This weekend I rented DANS PARIS with the intention of doing something a little highbrow (it was an event, really, as even the wine I was drinking was French). As one of the video store professionals at Movie Madness handed over the DVD, he encouraged me to read the note on the inside cover of the disk before looking at the label on the front. Mildly alarmed, but amused, I did exactly as he suggested once I got home. (For non-PDXers, Movie Madness is arguably the greatest video store in the United States - officially, it's the largest independent one. The Who's Who (and aspiring Who's) of the Portland film scene can be found there any night (either checking out movies or working in a coveted job behind the counter), debating the finer points of obscure films in its narrow isles.) There's no shortage of opinions over what makes something a great movie at Movie Madness.
Anyway, the note on the inside...

Note to Movie Madness:

This film is entitled Dans Paris, which means "In Paris". There should be no apostrophe separating the "N" and the "S" on the cover of the clear case! Cheers!

Response from Movie Madness (Pink highlights, all caps):

Additional response evidenced on the cover:

Friday, June 6, 2008

Bitch'n in the Kitch'n

Does the manic embrace of women for the Sex and the City movie have any correlation to the downfall of the Clinton campaign? This is an interesting question that I've seen posed in a few spots, on Slate a few days ago, and then yesterday in Judith Warner's Domestic Disturbances column in the New York Times (which, for the record, I'm a giant fan of). I'm one of those fuzzy feminists whom hard-core Feminists think will be the downfall of our lot - I'm looking forward to watching the movie, as I've enjoyed watching Sex and the City on television for years now. I'm backed Obama the entire time, too - a lot of Feminists have suggests I am the problem here - unable to support my own, blind the the misogyny of a society that repackages traditional patriarchy by moving it to New York City, and putting the Stepford Wives in Manilo Blaniks. But living in 2008 is messy. My womens studies books and all the rest of it - life, popular culture - don't seem to be addressing the same situations sometimes. I refuse to cede one pleasure only to remain faithful to the other, or believe that women who enjoy Sex and the City are "what's wrong with the world" and are to blame for Hilary's unsuccessful bid for President. We need to take seriously the misogyny that Hillary Clinton faced in her campaign, as well as the undeniable appeal Sex and the City has for women of many demographics and look for the real world feminism (if not True Feminism) in that.

* Women's Media Center montage: Sexist media coverage of the Clinton Campaign.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Obama's Still a Rock Star!

This Tuesday is otherwise unremarkable, except that OBAMA HAS CLAIMED THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY NOMINATION!

To celebrate, I went back to the beginning of my love affair with Obama, when I saw him speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, and everyone was buzzing about his "rock star" speech the next day. Even though I was in the nose bleed section of the Fleet Center (Note my picture, where a sea of delegates is easily mistaken for an electric control panel, and I had to share my floor pass with four interns), I was spiritually moved (if you know me, that isn't to be taken lightly) and I just got chills a moment ago, watching his 2004 speech again on You Tube. Watch it below, or read the text here. If it doesn't make you hopeful for America, I don't know what will.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Six Books I'll Be Reading This Summer

The weatherman on Channel 12 has repeatedly promised that summer is coming soon. Ever the optimist, I'm trusting that he's right (meanwhile, while writing this I look out at a grey overcast Portland sky and 55 degree temperature) so I've pulled together a summer reading list for myself. The best part of summer will be spent sprawling out on our house's yellow, flowered porch-couch for hours, reading and drinking (depending on the time of day - lemonade, iced tea, chardonnay or gin & tonics). When the sun reveals itself, I'll be ready.

1) Marie Antoinette / Anthonia Fraser: I've seen the movie, now it's time to read the book. I suspect that M.A. was a bit deeper than Kristin Dunst portrayed her to be, or at least more interesting...

2) The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle / Haruki Murakami: "In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat." That's all Murakami has to plot to make this girl swoon.

3) M.F.K. Fisher: A Life in Letters: I've developed a lovely habit of getting up early on Saturday mornings, making a pot of french press coffee, and working my way through 25-50 pages of an author's giant collection of letters on our porch-couch. It's a crazy, unexpected habit - getting up before the cars and buses flood Belmont, to read someone's private letters from, say, 1919. I've found that I learn so much more from letters than I do biographies. Letters chronicle their struggles, growth, hypocrisies and blind spots in a way that even a finely finessed biography can't. And anyone who wrote a book titled "How to Cook a Wolf" must write damned interesting letters.

4) The Golden Notebook / Doris Lessing: I saw a woman online who had this book on her reading list because the book had been sitting on her shelf for 30 years, unread. I decided that was reason enough not to wait. The back of the book suggests it's "a work of high seriousness." I won't save this one for the beach.

5) I Was Told There'd Be Cake / Sloane Crosley: I'm insanely jealous of this girl's success (she's my age - MY AGE!), but she's supposed to be funny as hell, and I like funny.

6) Paris Stories / Marvis Gallant: I'm just finishing up a writing class on short story structure this month at The Attic, so I've currently got the nose of a bloodhound for great examples of story structure, and I suspect I'll find it in Gallant: "Read any one of Mavis Gallant's stories and you are at once swept away - captivated, amazed, moved - by the grace of her sentences, the ease of her wit, the suppleness of her narrative, the complexity and originality of her perfectly convincing characters. She is a fearless writer." (Deborah Eisenberg, Alice Munro and Joy Williams, Judges of the 2002 Rea Award for Short Story)

BONUS READS: The Princess Camassima (Henry James) and/or The Metamorphosis and other stories (Franz Kafka).

Six Books You Should Read This Summer

1) Sputnik Sweetheart / Haruki Murakami: "A love story, a missing-person story, a detective story - all enveloped in a philospophical mystery - and, finally, a profound meditation on human longing" (from cover). For me, summer reading needs to tak you somewhere. Sputnik takes you to Japan and Greece, and of course - given it's Murakami - other realities.

2) Beach Music / Pat Conroy: One of my favorite books. A pocket book that spans loves, continents (the deep American south and Italy), wars and generations. A classic story of a flawed protagonist trying to escape his history, only to realize that his past is all that matters.

3) Honored Guest / Joy Williams: Not for the faint of heart, Joy William's short stories describe stark situations in even starker settings beautifully. My personal favorite? "Congress", where a hunter's widow takes her deer hoof lamp on a road trip.

4) Dark Star Safari / Paul Theroux: Even if you never leave town this summer, you can follow Theroux's Africa trip overland from Cairo to Capetown. This is certainly a man's story - a woman taking this trip, I'm certain, would have an extremely different experience. That said, following Paul's journey is a wonderful escape.

5) Who Will Run the Frog Hospital / Lorrie Moore: Summers will never like they were when we were kids, but books that relive those lost summers are essential reading list material. In "Who will Run..." Berie recalls the summer in high school that changed her forever, in the shadow of her present-day faltering marriage.

6) And, for the guilty pleasure read that was written for the kids (but nostalgia makes the stories achingly resonate even today), try The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares. Not rocket-science, but when has that ever been a requirement - or even a desire - to round out an awesome summer reading list?