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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Some snaps from the last couple of weeks

File under: fashion police. There's too much going on in both of these - I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Empathy and resegregation

A couple of things I was thinking about last week.

First, this video about empathy is really interesting. Especially in light of this article, about how college students are lacking in empathy.

Also, over on United States of Jamerica, Jamelle says that school segregation is making a comeback, referring to this article about segregation in New Orleans public schools. I'm being a little nitpicky, but feel the need to point out that the article doesn't say it's making a comeback. It says it's still there, and getting worse. It's not like New Orleans schools weren't highly segregated BEFORE Katrina. And, in addition to the various things Jamelle points out, it seems relevant that New Orleans is by no means a normal school sampling at this point. Whatever resegregation trends were already afloat were, no doubt, exacerbated by the extreme measures taken in the wake of hurricane Katrina (unified school district, rapid proliferation of charter schools). I'd love to see good data that compares pre-Katrina numbers - taking into account whatever segregation was already there (and also the fact that all of new Orleans, not just its poorest schools, was majority-minority before the storm) - to post Katrina numbers, showing both how New Orleans might fit into larger societal trends of school resegregation, and how New Orleans' particular long-standing racial and economic demographics are or are not reflected in its new incarnation.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My thoughts exactly

I've had a sour taste in my mouth since watching the first True Blood mini-episode over at HBO. You might notice that, despite the presence of vampires, and a guy I find attractive, I haven't linked it, or gone on about it. That's because I wasn't really sure how to articulate what ruined my enjoyment of the clip without seeming overly sensitive. Today, over at Racialicious, Tami does the work for me.

Ya’ll know I love HBO’s True Blood series like I love my mom’s dressing on Thanksgiving. But the show’s writing team clearly doesn’t know what to do with black folks. For a fictional town in Louisiana, Bon Temps is awfully monochromatic. Though, I guess Alan Ball and co. deserve some “props” for doing better than than the books on which the show is based. Author Charlaine Harris rarely paints a black person that isn’t a stereotype or a cipher. Ball gives us Lafayette (a minor character who dies at the end of book one in Harris’ story ) and Tara (white in the book, new black Tara is essentially a sassy, black sidekick). But even for a less than racially conscious show, the mini-episode above is some hot buttered bullshit.
The rest of the article is also exactly right.

I don't have a lot to add, but I'll leave you with a list of the black characters on the show.

Tara - Sassy sidekick and occasional magical negro with zero self-esteem and anger issues. Also the locus of the show's winking nod to domestic violence.
Tara's mom - Raging alcoholic, Church Lady, believes she's had her demons exorcised by Miss Jeannette, out at her gris-gris trailer in the woods.
Miss Jeannette - Exorcist/charlatan/murder victim.
Lafayette - Sassy Gay Man with a dash of Mouthy Black Man thrown in.
Kenya - No nonsense mountain of a black woman (in the books, she's repeatedly described as big and scary; in the show, she's just mean-faced).
Eggs - Tragically evil, which I take from this excellent open letter to the creator of Supernatural (I do not watch the show, because the first few eps were too scary for me, so I only know secondhand what I would like or be bugged by)

I think this list pretty much speaks for itself.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

GWB incompetent, as opposed to competently objectionable?

...I’m not talking here about ideology, or even positions on issues of public policy. This is about basic competence in managing the government, and strong signs that it was sorely lacking for eight years. (Jonathan Bernstein @ A Plain Blog About Politics)

An interesting post on Bush's two terms, suggesting that the failures of our gov't during that time were due more to mismanagement through passivity than to active application of a destructive ideology (I came to it via the brief comment on it over at United States of Jamerica).


Well, my brain has finally decided to start spitting out some thoughts. More accurately, my brain has decided that, rather than simply spitting the thoughts out, forcing me to write them all down so they're not lost forever, it will actually retain a few, and roll them around a bit, and maybe try to see where they lead. It's the part of the thought process that I call percolating. The word appeals both for the sense of filtering and of excitation. Getting ready to write always reminds me of my old coffeemaker. My thoughts seem to require some time to heat up before I get those first few drops of something coherent, building eventually into a steady stream of something strong enough to get me going.

I'd say right now, I'm done listening to the hiss of convection, and am finally getting those first few sputtering ideas. Some are new; many are reasserting themselves, continuing the slow buildup from nagging recurrence to sustained reflection.

the formation and fragmentation of identity


gender and heroism


projection and misdirection
hidden selves
ethical selfhood and spiritual crises
singularity and heroism vs. something about The Group (Buffy and The Scoobies)

(drip, drip, drip, sputter...)

And I'm out of steam. Time to get in some reading, then.

As a side note, I often walk while I'm percolating. I tend to zone a little while walking, so can get lost in whatever thoughts are foremost at the time; it also helps that, while walking, I'm unable to participate in many of my typical means of distracting myself. As I double checked that I'd remembered the dual senses of percolation correctly, I found that it has a usage I didn't know about, or had forgotten (the OED says it's a now rare American slang): to walk, stroll, or wander. Percolating while percolating  :)

A Bacon Tour addendum

A few more pictures from last week's adventure, courtesy of T.

Me @ Voodoo Doughnuts. It sort of looks like the doughnut Ghede is tapping me with his cane (the top of which, hiding behind my hair, is a doughnut).

The bacon maple bar was very tasty.

Me at Columbia Gorge (on the steps of the Vista House)

Me and T. at Multnomah Falls

Me, a beer sampler tray, and some of T.'s friends at Deschutes.

BSG Season 2: eps 9-12

Flight of the Phoenix; Pegasus; Resurrection Ship 1 & 2

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Bacon Tour, cont.

After a tasty, tasty meal and a good night's sleep, T. and I had a full day on Friday. First up, Voodoo Doughnuts (where "The Magic is in the Hole"). I had a bacon maple bar and a buttermilk bar (both very tasty). They also perform weddings, but I just had coffee with my doughnuts. I was amused by the doughnut mobile.

After the doughnuts, we took a quick trip out to see the Columbia River Gorge and some waterfalls. Nature really is pretty.

After the nature, T. went off to work for a couple of hours and I wandered around downtown Portland, mostly Pioneer Square. I'd planned to sample the legendary food carts, but was still surprisingly full form the doughnuts. I did take advantage of one, the Spella Cafe, where the sorbetta del giorno was banana strawberry. I was skeptical (I often dislike banana flavored things), but the sample was delicious, so I had a scoop before making my way over to Mecca Powell's City of Books. I wandered happily through the nine rooms (68,000 sq. ft., according to their website), content to look around, as shopping was not in the budget (though I did place a research fund financed order on before the trip). I did come home with a souvenir, though: a book clip/stand that I'd seen years ago on one of my advisor's books and admired. He said he'd gotten it from Powell's. At the time, I looked for it online and didn't find it. I'd forgotten all about it until I wandered past a display in one of the aisles. It's a small thing, but great for my upcoming time of productivity, in which I will need books open to important pages while I type brilliant thoughts! Here it is now, holding open my copy of American Gods, which I'll get back to reading tomorrow.

From doughnuts to nature to books to...karaoke!

Total Eclipse of the Heart

T. belts one out

After the karaoke, we had dinner at Deschutes, one of Portland's many brew pubs. I had an elk burger (tasty) and T. and I shared a beer sample tray, which gave us a chance to try 6 beers for the price of one.
Loved - Sinfully Delicious DSA (a Belgian strong dark ale, sort of Chimay-like)
Really Liked - Miss Spelt Hefeweizen and Obsidian Stout
Liked - Fat Cap Cream Ale
Was unimpressed by -  Twilight APA
Did not like - Blackweiss (a dark wheat ale)

Many of T's friends came, and it was a fun night. After dinner, we headed to one of T's friends' new apartment (a swank downtown pad w/a nice view) for desserts and more conversation. It was a late night, lots of fun, a good taste of Portland!

After a busy Friday, T. got up early to do some last-minute moving errands, and then we headed to brunch at Screen Door. The line for the first seating was down the block, so it was good that we went early. I had a brisket hash, which was tasty, but too greasy (and came cold). And we shared an order of the praline bacon, which was really good. I thought I'd taken a picture of it, but must have been too busy eating to photo-document! If I find myself in Portland again, I'd go back to Screen Door and try the golden yeasted waffle (T. had one and it looked delicious) or the chicken and waffles, which just about everyone was ordering. Although I think it will be hard for any chicken and waffles to live up to the standard M. and I set when we made our own!

Full of brunch (and a wee bit sleepy from the night before), we packed up and headed out of town. On the way out, I stole a piece of a plant form T.'s yard - the leaves intrigued me (and made me think of Gremlins, Stripe in particular - weird, I know). I'm hoping it'll grow roots, and maybe, eventually, some of those strange, stripey leaves.

I managed to forget the one thing I was supposed to remember - an adapter to play my iPod in the car - but we made do with my computer. It was a pretty short drive, 4 hours, to Ashland. The unnaturally sunny weather I'd brought with me to Portland did not follow us, and we got rained on us as we arrived for our show at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We'd chosen a production of Pride and Prejudice. There were good things about the show (Elizabeth, Wickham, Mrs. Bennett, some of the staging choices), but Darcy was not one of them. It's hard for P&P to succeed if Darcy's not up to snuff; this one played Darcy with a smirk that became giddiness (and weird arm things that T. found very distracting), when he should obviously be a scowl that becomes dignified joy, both bubbling over and restrained. Mr. Collins was also too much, out of keeping with the production around him. I didn't care for Lydia's delivery, but liked Messrs. Bennett and Bingley fine.

A wonderful excuse, then, to rewatch the two versions I own.

After breakfast (at which I had a piece of bacon, just to make The Bacon Tour official), today was all driving, and we arrived back in SF in the afternoon.

A great trip overall - it was great to spend time just hanging out with T.! I also enjoyed my brief introduction to the Pacific Northwest, and a reminder that I really should find ways to see more live theater. And take more road trips, because how else can I see things like this:
Mt. Shasta
Nature for the win.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Portland trip, day 1

I've been looking forward to my trip to Portland for a while now. T, one of many good friends that I just don't see often enough, has been living in Portland (partially) and teaching there, and this is the first chance I've had to go and see her. She's driving south for the summer, so we thought it would be fun if I flew up, hung out in Portland for a couple of days, and then accompanied her on the drive down. In addition to the road trip excitement, we'll be stopping at Ashland to take in a show. Good times!

This morning got off to an iffy start: I woke up migrainey, so was dragging a little when I needed to be up and alert to get ready, have some breakfast, and get down to the bus stop. I managed the getting ready, had to skip a more substantial breakfast in favor of a banana and an Odwalla bar, and missed the bus I meant to be on. On the upside, the migraine was mostly tamed by the time I headed out, so that's a plus. And I made it to the airport in plenty of time, had a small snack and some coffee.

The plane to Portland was a tiny thing, so my carefully packed carry-on (I was good and packed just a carry-on bag) had to be gate-checked, which was really no problem. Was excited to meet up w/T. at the airport (she was also flying in from elsewhere today), and we went from there to her office (which has a real door and everything!) to a cute little cafe, where we had a small snack to tide us over until dinner. Dinner was a 6 course extravaganza at Beast, which included tasty things like this:

1) Foie-gras bon-bon, sauternes gelee; chicken liver mousse & pickled shallot; (A BEET (blech!!) and a carrot, pickled); steak tartare & quail egg toast; pork shoulder rillettes w/seville marmalade; (a gherkin and some tasty mustard); rabbit, rabbit liver, prune & peppercorn pate

2) NY steak, carrot & baby fennel gratin, spring herb salsa verde and veal demi-glace

3) lemon buttermilk souffle, sliced local strawberries, poached rhubarb coulis


Now I'm back at T's, up later than I should be. A full day planned for tomorrow - Voodoo Doughnuts, Columbia Gorge, a visit to some of Portland's famed food carts, Powell's City of Books, karaoke happy hour at Voicebox (private karaoke rooms), dinner and beer at Deschutes Brewery Portland Pub. Saturday, we'll be up early for brunch at Screen Door, where I will try something called "praline bacon." Let that sink in. Praline bacon. Not sure what to expect, but I love pralines, and I love bacon, so...

Now, sleepy time. Updates, and maybe more pictures to follow. I might even take pictures of something besides food  :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cultural sensitivity and public shaming

Over at Racialicious, there's a post today about a group of Palo Alto High School girls who got dressed up in their best Native American Stereotype gear and went to the Stanford Powwow. You should read the article here: When Non Native Participation in Powwows Goes Terribly Wrong by Adrienne K.

This is the picture that went with the article.

Maybe because I will possibly end up teaching one of these girls (Paly is, not surprisingly, a feeder school for Stanford), I had to comment. I'm reprinting here because I'd love to know what you think.
Wow. I am not at all shocked - I teach at Stanford, and spent several years living in Palo Alto among the Palo Alto High School students and, more problematically, their parents. I am not shocked, but it's still appalling.

While I know from experience how tiring it can be to educate people on why and how their gleeful ignorance (trying to err on the side of the most charitable interpretation) is offensive, I am really glad to see that the author and her friends gave these girls a gift by sending them to talk with the head of the Native Center. Adrienne, your mom is probably right that they didn't know any better. One can, sadly, assume that their educations - both on Native history and in cultural sensitivity - have been lacking. But you are absolutely right to say that they *should* know better, and maybe now they will. Maybe they'll actually learn from this. Maybe they'll even bring some of that new knowledge with them to share with their classmates and friends when 1/2 of them come to Stanford.

Because I know from experience how tiring it can be to educate people on how unacceptable their glib insensitivity (cultural, racial, socio-economic, religious) is.
I am glad that there is at least some element of public shaming going on (though I do think it was good to block out their faces at least a little). I think more people should have shame about the right things, and I think a photo like this is a great place to start. But the teacher in me is also glad that someone actually said something to these girls. Shame is no good if there's no understanding of why you should be ashamed.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Strange fruit and creepy conversations

Just done w/chapters 1-3 of American Gods. I had forgotten how creepy that book is.


At the top of the list of creepy things right now? Shadow's Bone Orchard dream, which is more disturbing to me than the nonchalant conversation he has with Laura, his recently-dead wife. The dream itself is not a happy one, and the sense of wrongness is compounded by what I'm pretty sure is a reference to Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit." (WARNING: the photograph of the lynching that inspired the poem that became the song is on the page linked.) Strange fruit is a hauntingly beautiful indictment of one of the ugliest pieces of US history. The last verse, in particular, in sticking with me as I read AG tonight: 
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck, 
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, 
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop, 
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

While the context is different, it is relevant to what's happened (and what's to come) in several ways.

In other news, I'm making an American Gods playlist of the music in the book. My list so far:
  • "Nottamun Town" by Fairport Convention
  • "Masters of War" by Bob Dylan (Why? See here for details.)
  • "Iko Iko" by The Dixie Cups
  • "Walking After Midnight" by The Cowboy Junkies (Patsy Cline version in the book)
  • "Who Loves the Sun" by The Velvet Underground
  • "The Fool on the Hill" by The Beatles
  • "Strange Fruit" by Billie Holiday
  • "The Midnight Special" by Creedence Clearwater Revival

A fellow 1b1t-er has made an American Gods music spreadsheet (he's also got sheets for people and places).

Urban fantasy, Sookie Stackhouse, and a gratuitous shot of Alexander Skarsgaard as Eric Northman

Over at Racialicious, something a few of my genre-loving friends might find interesting: "Analyzing Urban Fantasty: Sex, Violence, and the Supernatural" by Tami. An excerpt:
I’ve developed a fondness for the urban fantasy genre. The books make fast, fun reads. But for me, someone who is drawn to issues of race and gender, even trashy, literary confections represent an opportunity for social analysis. As you may have guessed by the descriptions of some of the more popular urban fantasy series, the genre is all about creating new worlds with new societal norms. In urban fantasy, werewolves walk among us, Elvis really is alive (or undead) and the American Vampire League fights for the rights of marginalized former people. What I find curious, is that though their chosen genre frees them from the replicating the hierarchies of the real world, most authors of urban fantasy still manage to re-create common biases surrounding race, gender and sexuality.
I haven't read most of what's mentioned in the article (though I've heard a lot about the Anita Blake books). I have read the Sookie Stackhouse books, and have complained about various issues, ranging from the repetitive plots to the clumsy handling of race to the downright vicious handling of the heroine. As Tami writes, "Sookie Stackhouse is always recovering from some beat down," but this isn't traumatic enough. Harris has also written much about Sookie having been molested as a child, and the sense of helplessness that left her with. Which makes it that much worse that Harris regularly uses the threat of rape as a plot device. Not to mention that Sookie is actually raped in one of the earlier books, by her boyfriend (soon-to-be-ex, but not because he raped her), Bill. With all of this, the full-on, literal torture that happens in book 9 seems almost redundant. Almost.

Racially, Harris fares little better. I'll skip the complaints about the fetishization of beautifully blond, ever-tanning Sookie. I'll also skip the complaints about how rare African American characters are in a series set in Louisiana, where about 1/3 of the population is black. I'll even skip the complaints about how problematic her descriptions of the black characters often are (usually some combination of "He/she was really big/mean-lookin'" and "He was a strappin' buck/obviously had some black blood in him"). Instead, I'll complain about something new. In the most recent installment, which I shouldn't have bothered to read after the disappointment and ick-factor of the last one (which I shouldn't have bothered to read after the bad plots and aforementioned protagonist abuse of the preceding ones), there is a werewolf named Basim al Saud. (Exotic brown person alert!) Harris makes a big deal out of Basim's threatening appearance (not uncommon with Weres) and his brown-ness, though never quite at the same time. (Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!) I think the fact that Sookie covets Basim's corkscrew curls is supposed to throw us off the scent of a problematic representation of otherness, but I know the "perpetuation of marginalization through seemingly complimentary exoticization" ploy when I see it.

Note: In a series set in San Francisco, some character would have walked up and touched Basim's curls (either without asking or while asking, which negates the asking), while exclaiming, "Ohmygod, your hair is SO pretty!" And then Basim, being a Were, would have eaten her face. I'm now going to consider growling the next time some stranger touches my hair.

Anyway, back to Harris. Let's just say that subtlety is not her style, so rather than just exoticising Basim by Sookie's description of him (which she does), she actually calls him exotic, after wondering how he got turned to a werewolf in "wolfless Arabia."

Arabia? What year is this?!

Now, if he were a vampire, it would make sense to have him be from ancient civilization and to refer to it by its ancient name. But, he's a werewolf, and they're just normal people-age (so far), so I think we have to assume that he has not joined Alcide's pack after making his way across Arabia Deserta with a band of nomadic shifters. And I'd say she must have meant Saudi Arabia, but we in the modern world spell that with a "Saudi." I presume that what she meant was "somewhere in the Middle East." Maybe she thought Arabia sounded more poetic, as opposed, at best, some combination of archaic and just plain wrong. Or maybe she meant the neighborhood in/tableware from Finland (who knew?). 

None of this really matters, since Basim came to Northern Louisiana from a pack in Houston.

As I said in my review, given that his allegedly Middle Eastern origins play absolutely no part in the plot, why were they such a heavy part of his description? Was Houston not "outsider" enough? And if his foreign-ness was important, why didn't Harris do anything with it? As it stands, it's both racially problematic and superfluous. Or perhaps it wasn't. She mentions that she watched Basim "because he needed watching" and, sure enough, he turns out to have been untrstworthy in a big way, and for very little reason. Perhaps I just missed the purpose of the profiling initial description.

As I also said in my review, I no longer read the books for Sookie. I read the books to see what will happen with Eric and Sookie. But, with that storyline quickly losing its hold on me due to Harris' mishandling of it, there is little to keep me slogging through a series that manages to offend and disturb as much as it entertains. HBO might, despite some missteps, tell me a better version of that story. Hell, there are probably fanfic writers telling better version of that story right now, but HBO's Eric looks like this:

Speaking of HBO's True Blood, this video makes me giggle a little. And the minisodes are amusing.

Paul Rademacher's oil spill/Google maps tool

The Engineering Manager for Google Maps has a tool that will let you gauge the size of the Gulf Coast oil spill by superimposing it onto various locations. So very depressing, but informative.

Question: am I the only one who thinks the larger blob of the spill is sort of like a big, scary, environment destroying bird? If I could draw, that would be my editorial cartoon about the spill.

Monday, May 10, 2010

RIP, Lena Horne

I haven't listened to a lot of Lena Horne's music. Mostly, I knew her version of Stormy Weather, which I looked up on YouTube a couple of years ago, hoping to find a video of her performing it. What I found was a clip of her performing it in the film "Stormy Weather," which I didn't even know existed. I also came across a couple of other songs that I really liked (gotta love the related videos section). Today seemed like a good day to post them.

Stormy Weather

You'd Better Love Me

Where Or When

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

Dead in the Family (Sookie Stackhouse, #10) Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 2 1/2 of 5 stars
Better than the last, but maybe just because Sookie didn't get tortured or raped or almost raped this time.  The action moved along at a decent clip, and I wanted to know what was up with the fairie. But, the mysteries have, for some time, been merely incidental to the plot, and I continue not to care about Bill (i hope this new story with him and what's-her-face is not going to become important). If things are going to come to a head between Eric and Victor, that needs to happen in the next book.  Harris' storytelling grew *really* repetitive, broken only by bouts of serious sadism. And, I no longer read the books for Sookie.  Sookie's interactions with certain characters (Claude, Jason, etc) remains amusing, but not enough to hang a story on without some actual plot.

And then there are the problems with what plot there was. First, there was absolutely no good reason for Eric's maker to show up except to keep him [Eric:] out of the plot, because that's the only thing it added. There was no reason for Eric's maker's "new" vampire to be Alexei Romanov - there are other ways to have made him crazy, and it added very little beyond that. It was like a bad guest cameo during sweeps.

And why did the random vamp who got killed need to be exotic? It wasn't enough for him to be an outsider from Houston, since that's all that was really important about him? Alternately, why wasn't his exoticism more important? The question of his being turned "in wolfless Arabia" was raised - despite the fact that he could very well have been born and raised in Houston - but nothing was done with it...

Finally, I love Eric, and I love Sookie and Eric, but Sookie/Eric has been in varying stages of a holding pattern for too many installments.  It's a terrible idea, and either that needs to blow up, or they need to have something to do besides moon over each other and transmit angst. You know what would be perfect? A plot to murder Eric's superiors! Emphasis on "plot."

Unless there's going to be some actual plot next time (a mystery that feels important, a battle between Eric and Victor, something about Sam in more than a sideline way...), or at least a decent romance-level plot between Eric and Sookie, it's not worth it. If I weren't so stubborn, I'd give up now.

View all my reviews >>

Chill, by Elizabeath Bear

Chill Chill by Elizabeth Bear

My rating: 3 1/2 of 5 stars
Chill moves, from the very beginning, at a faster clip than Dust. It is simultaneously more and less complicated than its predecessor. It is a chase story, but of course that chase turns out to be nearly inconsequential. And, there are a lot of moving parts in this one. New Conns, new Engineers, new inhabitants of old domaines, and a shadowy presence that seems to be taking over the ship. And then there are the familiar faces, some of whom we get to know a little better this time around, as family histories are revealed, bit by bit. The web of characters remains confusing, though I think, by the end of the novel, I'd settled into the family tree a bit more. The story kept me interested, but the resolution - such as it was - felt abrupt, rushed. This was true of Dust, as well, so I wonder if Bear simply struggles with endings. And, once again, the results of the big reversal (after several smaller reversals) are more clear than the actual details of it.

I'm told that Jacob's Ladder is a trilogy. I do hope that the third book, unlike the first two, answers at least as many questions as it raises, and in more satisfying ways.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, May 7, 2010

Queens, cons, and masters of war

Finally started rereading American Gods for One Book, One Twitter, and I'm enjoying the process of chasing down interesting research items I let slide the first time. Bilqis/Sheba, for example, I looked up and remembered. But, I had somehow forgotten the connection to The Candaces (aka the Kandakes of Kush), which interests me for obvious reasons  :) But I'm still annoyed by Bilqis' man-eating hoo-hah, perhaps even more so now that we're "related"  :(

Anyway, Only through ch. 1 so far - have been reading multiple things/spending too much time online/socializing a lot recently, all of which means consuming fewer pages at a time. Some other things I've noted this time:
  • Shadow's misgivings about electronic things as "fundamentally magic, and liable to disappear at any moment." Good instincts, Shadow.
  • Am curious about the "flashback" Shadow has in prison ("In his imagination, he was leaving another prison, long ago."), but will have to look it up later...
  • Looked up the town name "Nottamun." Came up with a strange and slightly disturbing (largely because of the final line) folk song called "Nottamun Town," which led me to Bob Dylan's "Masters of War." Wheels, turning...
You that never done nothin'
but build to destroy
You play with my world
like it's your little toy...
--From Masters of War by Bob Dylan
  • The population of Nottamun also set off my spidey sense this time. Looked into it and suspect that I was almost remembering is as the year that Dante's exile began. Exile definitely not unrelated to American Gods.
Off to do things that are neither reading nor tweeting. There's sun to be had!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Los Suns almost make me wish I paid attention to basketball. Good call, IMHO.

And, Jessica Yee asks, "Hey, where the (feminist) women at?" re: Arizona

Also? Stereotypes are bad for everyone.

In related news:
Come grading time, false parallels are one of many banes of my existence. Jehanzeb, over at Muslim Reverie, explains one that seems particularly relevant these days: "The Flying Carpet Fallacy."

On the less serious tip:
Jesus gets a TV show?

File under: WTF?!
Transformers 3 casting news.

Bonus - File under: "Oh, come on."
Raging homophobe hires a rentboyHilarity ensues.


10 song playlist

These are some songs I can't stop listening to this week. Most are not new, though a couple are new to me.

The Trapeze Swinger - Iron & Wine
Slow Life [with Victoria Legrand] - Grizzly Bear
This Tornado Loves You - Neko Case
10 Mile Stereo - Beach House
California On My Mind - Wild Light
Gobbledigook -  Sigur Rós
Howl - Florence and The Machine
Remember When (California) - Tim Myers ft. Schuyler Fisk
The Blower's Daughter - Damien Rice
I Need You Now - Lady Antebellum

On the nightstand

American Gods by Neil Gaiman - For One Book, One Twitter (The Guardian ran a decent blurb on it Tuesday)

Chill by Elizabeth Bear - The follow-up to Dust, which I read last week and reviewed here. It's off to a good start, though I'm still not clear on the technical details of some of what's happening.

The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived: How Characters of Fiction, Myth, Legends, Television, and Movies Have Shaped Our Society, Changed Our Behavior, and Set the Course of History

World's End by Neil Gaiman - Yes, I still haven't finished The Sandman. I got distracted by other things to read and watch, but will be getting back to it soon.

Dust (Jacob's Ladder, book 1)

Dust (Jacob's Ladder, Book 1) Dust by Elizabeth Bear

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Dust was intriguing from the start, but took a while to become engrossing. When it ended, it was not completely satisfying. But the middle was an enjoyable ride, enough to make me wish the end were better executed, but also for me to give the second book a chance.

View all my reviews >>

BART art?

Some excitement happening at the Powell St. Bart station.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

This post is brought to you by the letter "v."

First, someone on FB posted "Me and My Llama," which I sometimes find myself singing. Well, humming, mostly, because I only really remember the one part: "We're going to the dentist -- ooh weeeee! Yes, it's just my llama and me."
(For some reason, you have to click through to the full post to see the video.)

Then, over on Pajiba, Dustin posted a list of The Five Best Celebrity Songs on Sesame (contemporary edition). I've seen (and love) Ricky Gervais' lullaby, but the rest were new to me. I'm kind of partial to Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why," but that might just be because I like that song so much.

It snowballed from there. Between the comments on the Pajiba post and the related videos on YouTube, I soon found myself meandering around YouTube, watching Sesame Street clip. Here are some of my favorites from what I watched:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

a couple of random shots from this weekend

 Tasty (and pretty) lemon tart from Noe Valley Bakery

Orchestra member knitting at intermission at La Rondine

BSG eps. 7 & 8

Residual migraine ouch meant no full blog of the last two eps of BSG, but here are some highlights.
Home, part 2; Final Cut