Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Every day this week I have woken up and thought "There is a new Sleater-Kinney album," and it has just made me so fucking happy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"We're Back!"

You brought us back. Every tweet, every message, every photo of your tattoo, every show we did together and every time you sang along to the lyrics brought us back. You didn't forget us, and we didn't forget that we have the most incredible fans, ever. We decided to bring you something for our next get-together, and so we wrote No Cities To Love in our basements, living rooms, and practice spaces. We recorded it last winter with John Goodmanson, and we are really excited for you to hear it. 

Well, that is the first time a mailing list update has ever made me sob in front of my laptop like a little baby.

Monday, October 20, 2014


quick note on Sarah Connor Chronicles

Wow, "Goodbye to All That" was one of the most heartbreaking episodes of anything I've ever seen on television, and this is a show about fucking killer robots for Christ's sake. The acting, the writing, the directing -- everything. They also solved the Voiceover Problem, HEARTBREAKINGLY, by having Wee!Martin and Sarah read aloud from the Oz book. That was brilliant.

This ep also really confirms my feeling that the show is actually critiquing, if not downright deconstructing, a lot of the action-movie myths and cliches -- not just Derek's brutal detailing of Kyle carrying the wounded soldier for six hours (Brian Austin Green is shattering in this ep), but his story about the deer, Martin's future death, "We all die for you" -- and the counterpoint of Sarah reading the storybook to the child she's trying to protect. And the title from Robert Graves's memoir -- well, that's just perfect.

I wasn't as crazy about "The Tower is Tall but the Fall is Short," i.e. "Everybody Goes to Therapy," but Thomas Dekker is quite as heartbreaking as Green was in the previous ep. (And wait, is the show now saying that John did kill the guy in the finale, not Sarah? Because that actually does work.) But my girl Shirl totally redeemed herself from the uneasiness I was feeling about her rather stiff performance (I know, I know, she's supposed to be stiff, but at times it seemed to be tipping over from "deliberate" into "non-actor freezing up") with just two fucking words: "Cow's blood." Oh, we howled. People who think this show is grim and humourless just don't fucking get it.

(Come to think of it, I've seen Shirley Manson in taped interviews where she was bubbly and charming and very warm, so I think, rather like Lena Headey, she's playing stiff and stoic against type -- which interests me because I wonder how much I'm projecting my own cultural bias about women, especially mothers, here. The men are the ones emoting and falling down and barely keeping up, the women are the ones gritting their teeth and just keeping on fucking going.)

the enchanted world

Just scored three of these (Spells and Bindings, Ghosts, and Water Spirits) at Twice Sold Tales the other night for less than $20 total (Happy Hour!). I used to have more of them, from when I was a kid, but had to sell them in one of the two Great Book Purges when I had to sell about 1/3 of my library after grad school left me poverty-stricken and broken. NOT THAT I'M BITTER Anyway! It's nice to have even a couple of them again. They smell pleasantly musty.

no cities to love

so I wrote a thing = I lack the personal integrity to identify a piece of work as my own in public without resorting to a mewling, pathetic, false dissociation

this is everything = this is one thing, maybe two things at best

I feel betrayed = someone who normally agrees with me disagrees with me

my spirit animal = here’s something I like; I am not familiar with what a spirit animal is or does

MT = want to make sure I get involved in this conversation somehow

#truedetectiveseason2 = I too long for human companionship

my body is ready = my body is almost certainly not ready

Mallory Ortberg gives me the pip now most days (it's the Sady Doyle Phenomenon of not knowing how to handle sudden unrelenting internet fame) but this was pretty right on.

(but no, I'm not buying her damn book) (I am through buying books people have based on blogs) (because they ALWAYS FUCKING SUCK, that's fucking why)

we're wild and weary and we won't give in

I am NEVER getting over this



Friday, October 17, 2014

He narrowed his eyes. St. Aubyn’s movements have a bomb-disposal delicacy. He’ll brush the tips of two or three fingers against his lower lip for half a minute, or he’ll tilt his head slightly backward, as if in response to a tiny surprise. He is fifty-four and the father of two, and has the air of someone who is puzzled, and rather impressed, to find that he is not dead.

I have such a terrible litcrush on this man, it's not even funny. HEY TEDDY FORGET JERRY HALL CALL MEEEEEEE

'A Genderswitched Scandal in Bohemia'

To Shirley Holmes he is always the man. I have seldom heard her mention him under any other name. In her eyes he eclipses and predominates the whole of his sex. It was not that she felt any emotion akin to love for Ira Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to her cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. She was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover she would have placed herself in a false position. She never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer – excellent for drawing the veil from women’s motives and actions. But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into her own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all her mental results. Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of her own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as hers. And yet there was but one man to her, and that man was the late Ira Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.
 ....okay, that actually messed with my head.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Then what is good? The obsessive interest in human affairs, plus a certain amount of compassion and moral conviction, that first made the experience of living something that must be translated into pigment or music or bodily movement or poetry or prose or anything that’s dynamic and expressive—that’s what’s good for you if you’re at all serious in your aims. William Saroyan wrote a great play on this theme, that purity of heart is the one success worth having. “In the time of your life—live!” That time is short and it doesn’t return again. It is slipping away while I write this and while you read it, and the monosyllable of the clock is Loss, Loss, Loss, unless you devote your heart to its opposition.

- Tennessee Williams

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

"Badly Chosen Lover," Rosemary Tonks

Criminal, you took a great piece of my life,
And you took it under false pretences,
That piece of time
– In the clear muscles of my brain
I have the lens and jug of it!
Books, thoughts, meals, days, and houses,
Half Europe, spent like a coarse banknote,
You took it — leaving mud and cabbage stumps.

And, Criminal, I damn you for it (very softly).
My spirit broke her fast on you. And, Turk,
You fed her with the breath of your neck
– In my brain’s clear retina
I have the stolen love-behaviour.
Your heart, greedy and tepid, brothel-meat,
Gulped it, like a flunkey with erotica.
And very softly, Criminal, I damn you for it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

books read in October 2014

Fiction is in red.

151. Notes from No Man's Land, Eula Biss (feel about this the way I did The Empathy Exams: good writer, wildly overhyped, needed an editor)
152. The 13th Boy: A Memoir of Education and Abuse, Stephen Fife
153. On Immunity: An Inoculation, Eula Biss (not great, but better than her first collection)
154. More Fool Me, Stephen Fry (endlessly witty and charming)
155. Paperweight, Stephen Fry
156. Stranger Here, Jen Larsen
157. Half-Assed, Jennette Fulda
158. Read My Hips, Kim Brittingham

all 2014 booklist posts

Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday morning music mix

(Husband: "Your music taste is more catholic than the Pope." Heh.)

Frank Wilson - Do I Love You
Gloria Jones, Tainted Love (1964)
Duke Browner - Crying Over You (some GREAT dance footage here, including the famous synchronized clap "like a pistol shot")
Amy Winehouse - Rehab (Live on Jools Holland)
The Corries - Twa Corbies
Covenant - Bullet
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - O Children (Live)

"For dancers only":  
Russ Winstanley had only missed one of the Saturday all-nighters in the club’s eight year run, but still he didn’t feel like turning up when the farewell night finally arrived.
“It was the only night I never wanted to go,” he says. As the end approached, he played the three records that traditionally closed every all-nighter at the Wigan Casino, the ‘three before eight’: Jimmy Radcliffe’s ‘Long After Tonight Is All Over’, Tobi Legend’s ‘Time Will Pass You By’ and Dean Parrish’s ‘I’m On My Way’. “I played them, and then I played them again, because people were just handclapping to the beat when the records had finished,” says Russ, “I don’t know why, but I then played what has since become recognised as the best and most valuable Northern track ever, Frank Wilson’s ‘Do I Love You’. After that, people just sat down and cried their eyes out. It was absolutely awful.
“It’s funny isn’t it,” he adds, “the Cavern Club was demolished, the Hacienda was demolished, and the Wigan Casino was demolished. It seems to be like the most famous places aren’t there any more – and they never even built the new Civic Centre.”
Williams’s suicide demonstrates that none of us is immune. If you could be Robin Williams and still want to kill yourself, then all of us are prone to the same terrifying vulnerability. Most people imagine that resolving particular problems will make them happy. If only one had more money, or love, or success, then life would feel manageable. It can be devastating to realize the falseness of such tempered optimism. A great hope gets crushed every time someone reminds us that happiness can be neither assumed nor earned; that we are all prisoners of our own flawed brains; that the ultimate aloneness in each of us is, finally, inviolable.

- Anthony Lane

Time is like a bullet from behind / I run for cover just like you

Sunday, September 28, 2014

best place on earth

We didn’t have as much time as I wanted while we were in Powell’s (we never do), but I had a bit of a revelation while I was walking the aisles there. I love bookstores and libraries the way some people love the beach, or the mountains, or a museum. When I’m in a bookstore or library, I feel like the rest of the world doesn’t exist, that the only world that matters — well, worlds that matter — are contained within its walls, between the covers of the books that line the shelves. When I’m in a place like Powell’s, that has tons of used books that go back decades, I can find and hold and look at and lose myself in the covers and stories that remind me of my youth, and pretty much any time in my life that I care to touch again.

Stephen King says that writing is a form of time travel, and I’ll take that a step further: a bookstore or library is a portal to anywhere in the multiverse; it’s Sigil* made real.

I told Twitter that, while it’s convenient to order books online, going to a bookstore and finding a book is an experience. I love that experience, and I don’t want to live in a world without bookstores and libraries.

- Wil Wheaton

*I don't know wtf this is, but the kid can write, so I'm letting him have that one.

Monday, September 22, 2014

things that fuck me up

1982 was not 10 years ago

it was not 20 years ago

it was over 30 years ago

.....I'm going back to bed. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

notes on Watchmen (2009) (yes I am always this behind on _all_ pop culture)

- Rorscharch is my favourite and he is perfect
- the Comedian is perfect and I hate him so we had to watch the part where he gets flung through the window several times
- that is still one of the best opening credit sequences ever, we also had to watch that part several times
- at first I thought Billy Crudup was a disaster as Dr Manhattan but he really won me over with his extended flashback....flashforward....flashthing, which is my favourite part in the book
- Is Matthew Goode attempting an Austrian accent? That is....unfortunate. Why does it keep flickering on and off, like a badly connected lightbulb?
- boy, women really have no agency in this, do they, other than fucking guys
- as usual, I adore Silhouette and want HER story. No dice, she's not driven by male agency. BYE, SILHOUETTE
- "this IS the American Dream!!!", this isn't heavy-handed at all
- first I thought Jeffrey Dean Morgan was Robert Downey Jr., then I thought he was Nicolas Cage. Whoops
- Nite Owl II looks to be about thirty
- I don't know the actors well enough to watch that sex scene
- I don't think the poor actors know themselves well enough to watch that sex scene
- Malin Åkerman could not give an impression of a block of wood if she were a tree. And why are the blondies getting bad dye jobs and all the brunette parts?
- Carla Gugino (who is a year YOUNGER than me) being required to say "I'm sixty-seven" really is one of the more striking examples of sexist ageism in modern film
- all the historical figures are completely unconvincing
- they kept all my favourite Rorscharch scenes so I honestly don't give a shit about much of anything else
- kept thinking Patrick Wilson was Eric Bana, then I thought he was Nicholas Hoult. Whoops no. Again.
- all you people bitching about how it was "too faithful and confined by the source" can go watch some OTHER FUCKING MOVIE, like The Dark Knight Begins His Past Future or another goddamn "reboot"
- I did actually sort of miss the giant mutant alien squid, but without the comic book interweaving through the story, it makes no sense. BUT the 9/11 references when Manhattan blows up were actually kind of really fucking upsetting.
- true to my perverse fannish nature, this was the faithful adaptation with changes everyone else hated (that second-week box office dropoff, ouch) which I adored because --
- Rorscharch is my favourite and he is perfect. The end.

No, really. See, everyone who always rags on me for being a perfectionist bitch? I'm just that easy to please.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Carson took Latin in high school because it was the alternative to typing. Her Latin teacher was also conversant in ancient Greek, so Carson took Greek lessons in her lunch hour. "Greek is one of those things that, when you do it, you realise it's the best experience in the world, there's no reason ever to stop. It's just some amazing combination of the kind of puzzle-solving that goes into crosswords and amazing literature. You think, well, they're nerds, they were born that way. But they're not just nerds, they're all kinds of people who stumble into this happy field of endeavour and stay there." To her parents' alarm, she announced that she was going to pursue these two, entirely impractical dead languages at university. "My father kept telling me to get a marketable skill on the side. He suggested typing. He was worried for some time. And then I got a job at Princeton and he sort of calmed down."

If her study of Greek and Latin has affected her own writing style, Carson suspects it is to be found in the way she makes patterns between things. "There is something about the way that Greek poets, say Aeschylus, use metaphor that really attracts me. I don't think I can imitate it, but there's a density to it that I think I'm always trying to push towards in English. It's a kind of compacting of metaphor, without a concern for making sense ... it's just on the edge of sense and on the edge of the way language should operate."

The danger with this, and with Carson's writing, is that it drifts into whimsy or nonsense. "It does fall apart a lot. It gets just too weird for anyone to care about reading, or else it gets diluted into a sort of parody of itself. Intuition is the only way to keep on the line between them. And also focusing back on to the first time the idea came into your head has some kind of pristine conviction that it gradually loses." Carson returns to the actual piece of paper on which she wrote down the beginning of the idea, usually a coffee-stained back of an envelope. "Because there's something almost magically convincing about that piece of paper. The same words typed on a nice clean piece of paper wouldn't have whatever it is - fidelity, to your original thought."

- Grauniad profile, 2006
A wound gives off its own light
surgeons say
If all the lamps in this house
were turned out
you could dress this wound
by what shines from it.

- Anne Carson


Iris Murdoch once suggested that to understand any philosopher's work we must ask what he or she is frightened of. To understand any psychoanalyst's work--both as a clinician and as a writer--we should ask what he or she loves, because psychoanalysis is about the unacceptable and about love, two things that we may prefer to keep apart, but that Freud found to be inextricable. If it is possible to talk about psychoanalysis as a scandal, without spuriously glamorizing it, then one way of doing it is simply to say that Freud discovered that love was compatible, though often furtively, with all that it was meant to exclude. There are, in other words--and most of literature is made up of these words--no experts on love. And love, whatever else it is, is terror.

In a manner characteristically engaging and challenging, charming and maddening, Adam Phillips teases out the complicity between desire and the forbidden, longing and dread. His book is a chronicle of that all-too-human terror, and of how expertise, in the form of psychoanalysis, addresses our fears--in essence, turns our terror into meaning.

It is terror, of course, that traditionally drives us into the arms of the experts. Phillips takes up those topics about which psychoanalysis claims expertise--childhood, sexuality, love, development, dreams, art, the unconscious, unhappiness--and explores what Freud's description of the unconscious does to the idea of expertise, in life and in psychoanalysis itself. If we are not, as Freud's ideas tell us, masters of our own houses, then what kind of claims can we make for ourselves? In what senses can we know what we are doing? These questions, so central to the human condition and to the state of psychoanalysis, resonate through this book as Phillips considers our notions of competence, of a professional self, of expertise in every realm of life from parenting to psychoanalysis. Terrors and Experts testifies to what makes psychoanalysis interesting, to that interest in psychoanalysis--which teaches us the meaning of our ignorance--that makes the terrors of life more bearable, even valuable.

- review of Terrors and Experts, Adam Phillips

if you don't think Radio 1 Live Lounge is a factory of pure awesome and alchemy you are so wrong it is a fucking tragedy

Friday, September 19, 2014

no really, _this_ sums up that damn movie

MOI, as completely inappropriate "La Mer" song goes on and on and on: God, did we ever see him clean his glasses in this movie once?

T, grimly: No.