Numerous Opportunities for Me to Reference Myself

You know, being ahead of the trend really requires a grace that few of you will ever have to  achieve. One must possess tact and feel a sense of noblesse obligé when others come, excited about news or hip new fads, and I, princess of politesse that I am, do not yawn, roll my eyes, or belch at them – sometimes it’s fun to burp when you are bored or annoyed – because their exciting little tidbit is, frankly, passé, to me.

Of course, I understand that there is a certain degree of natural synchronicity in the universe, but, to be honest, I do believe that much of the time, I come up with an original, never-before-imagined idea, and the rest of the world just copies me. I know, I know… it’s the most sincere form of flattery, blah, blah, blah. Still, all I ask is for the proper credit, perhaps a little praise for my prescience. And monetary compensation. That’s more than reasonable, non?

For example, NPR recently called me. I usually only answer when it’s that sassy, randy minx, my Marketplace manfriend, Kai Ryssdal, calling. (Sample conversation: “What’s the market doing now, Kai… do I see that little NASDAQ going up? My, how your portfolio is increasing! Who’d like to make an investment?!”)

I thought it was Kai-Kins, so I picked up. Quel horreur! It was that wretch, Nina Tottenberg, attempting yet again to best me. This rivalry has been going on ever since Garrison Keillor tried to lure me to his prairie home, while completely ignoring her awkward, pathetic advances.

“AVR, Darling, I believe we have finally scooped you! My Weekend Edition team found the most adorable little coffee shop, full of the most delightfully real people, in which to do an election piece! You’ll simply never guess where it is!”

I thought long, but not hard, which I think would be a great title for an older adult contemporary concept album.

“Did you go to Trudy’s Diner in Idaho City, Idaho, Nina?” I asked.

The initial shocked silence on the other end of the line was satisfying, but when Nina started shrieking hysterically and calling me names I simply can’t bring myself to mention here, my victory grew a bit tiresome. I ended the conversation the same way I end most of my dialogues with Ms.Tottenberg, or, for that matter, with that slutty Diane Rehm.

“Idaho, Nina? Let’s be real, shall we? You da ho! Everyone knows whoClick and Clack, The Tappit brothers, are really tapping! Good day!”

My faithful readers will recall this recent post http://smalleradventure.com/2012/09/what-up-idaho-city in which not only did I bring Idaho City to you, but I also had a special shout out to my friends at Trudy’s. That’s because I am a real journalist and cutting edge trend-setter. Here’s the NPR piece.  Nina was so upset she had to get her lackey, Rachel Martin, to do it. http://www.npr.org/2012/10/21/163336898/election-2012-brunch-in-idaho.

Of course, you know that two of the books I reported on have been made into major motion pictures this year. Perks of Being a Wallflower, the young adult novel by Stephen Chbosky is currently in theaters. http://smalleradventure.com/2010/11/before-i-get-up/

Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, is coming out October 24th. It’s huge! I mentioned it way back in 2011 here: http://smalleradventure.com/2011/08/all-the-buzz/ Back then I hoped the movie didn’t suck. I still do.

Speaking of good books being turned into movies that hopefully don’t suck, Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann is in production now, with J.J. Abrams of Lost fame at the helm. Could go either way. One of the great things about that book was Mr. McCann’s gorgeous prose, and I don’t know that the big screen will be able to capture that. One of the great things about Lost was Desmond.  Damn. I just love me some Desmond, brutha. Even dirty, bloody and sweaty. Hell, who am I kidding? Especially dirty bloody and sweaty! Don’t judge me! At least I didn’t get his face tattooed on what appears to be my slightly hairy upper thigh. Yet.  Hey, Click on this: http://www.girlgonegeekblog.com/2012/04/tattoo-tuesday-lost/ No, seriously! Click on it!

OK, back to the highbrow lowdown you’ve come to expect from me. Here’s Colum McCann’s website: http://www.colummccann.com . His new book, Transatlantic, comes out next year. You can hear him reading from it here: http://www.newyorker.com/online/2012/04/23/120423on_audio_mccann

I’ve been reading a book of short stories by Etgar Keret, an Israeli writer, called Suddenly, A Knock at the Door. Mr. Keret’s imagination is truly inspiring, and the depth of the stories he manages to tell in just a couple of pages is amazing. I was going to tell you all about him, so you’d be the first on your block to know, but then Selected Shorts scooped me big time! Crap’s Ass! Anyway, listen to him speak about writing and hear one of his stories read here: http://ec.libsyn.com/p/5/a/9/5a92f4fbc0989752/Pcast_SS201204.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d01cd873fd5c158a089&c_id=5062094 When you are finished listening, scrape up all of your money and send me to NYC to hear him and Gary Shteyngart (http://smalleradventure.com/2011/06/tuesdays-goal-appreciation) speak on April 17th. I’ll make it worth your while!

Finally, you know how many times I have warned you about birds. They are dirty, full of mites, have flat, beady eyes, and sharp pecky beaks. They fly, which means they are capable of- and enjoy!- dive bombing missions, and they believe the world is their toilet. Their legs are made of dinosaur-snake skin (Evolution, my dear Watson!) and they have talons to claw at your eyes and rip out your vocal chords so that you can’t scream for help.

But here’s the worst thing: They are getting bigger and bolder. Think about it; there have always been big blackbirds, but when you were a kid do you remember grackels the size of a terrier? Do you remember them standing their ground in the street and staring into your car’s grille, just daring you to hit them? No sirree, Bob, those feathered footballs have grown huge bird balls, and they are coming for you! I took these pictures recently to illustrate my point.  Notice how the birds line the telephone wires. That’s pretty horrifying. They are listening to our conversations. They are watching. Watching and waiting. Preparing to wing off to their leader. Freaky. Weirder still is the way they are hanging out on the parking lot, pacing. Why are they there? I go in a little closer to investigate.

 I’m not gonna lie. I was spooked, and my camera got a little shaky. There was no food on the parking lot, no nest building materials, nothing sparkly. Why would they be hanging out on the ground?

I looked around. Nobody in the lot but me. The streetlights were about to come on, providing a glow to the dusk. I scanned the surrounding signage; one of them said “STOP!”, which seemed like a good idea, and another said “Park, Lock and Hide.” Then it hit me; those birds were just waiting for some sucker to forget to lock his Lexus and then they were going to jack that ride! Fuckers! They are afraid of nothing, and people, they will steal     your     car!! No lie, GI!

I know what you’re thinking. Has it come to this? I, too, thought perhaps I might be slightly paranoid. There was only one thing left to do. I needed to stare those beasts right in their flat, beady, red eyes and judge their true intentions for myself. I was terrified. But I’m a journalist, and that’s what we do.

I crept up to one of the beaked bastards carefullly, quietly. I steeled myself and tapped him on the shoulder. Slowly he turned….this is what I saw. Judge his intentions for yourself.

 

I know. Hideous. Birds are Beelzebub. You heard it here first. I hate to tell you I told you so, but…well, suffice it to say, being right all the time is a bit of a curse.

Of course, I am not the first to notice the increasingly hostile attitudes of the feathered fiends. Daphne Du Maurier brilliantly chronicled their homicidal natures in her famous short story, “The Birds”. If you haven’t read it, it’s really good; it’s a wonderful example of build and suspense. Here is how she describes the birds for the first time in the story:

In spring the birds flew inland, purposeful, intent; they knew where they were bound; the rhythm and ritual of their life brooked no delay. In autumn those that had not migrated overseas but remained to pass the winter were caught up in the same driving urge, but because migration was denied them, followed a pattern of their own. Great flocks of them came to the peninsula, restless, uneasy, spending themselves in motion; now wheeling, circling in the sky, now settling to feed on the rich, new-turned soil; but even when they fed, it was as though they did so without hunger, without desire. Restlessness drove them to the skies again. 

Black and white, jackdaw and gull, mingled in strange partnership, seeking some sort of liberation, never satisfied, never still. Flocks of starlings, rustling like silk, flew to fresh pasture, driven by the same necessity of movement, and the smaller birds, the finches and the larks, scattered from tree to hedge as if compelled. 

It only gets worse from there.

HBO has obviously been reading this blog, and has realized that what interests me interests the world, and so they have just aired a made-for-tv movie called “The Girl”, which is about the single-minded, relentless obsession Alfred Hitchock had with his leading lady, Tippi Hedren. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ll bet it’s pretty good, so I give HBO my blessing – this time. But it was my idea. http://smalleradventure.com/2011/11/all-the-things-that-fall-in-the-cracks-of-the-couch/

One last thing: a quick review of a movie I have seen, Seven Psychopaths. It’s good, real good! I give it a solid “A”. It’s beautifully shot, interesting and oddly funny, and the cast is fantastic. Props to KW for picking it out and making me go see it. KW, I will never doubt you again! I can say that confidently knowing you won’t hold me to it, as you’ll never read this, since it’s not on Facebook.

One other last thing: Daphne Du Maurier also wrote a story called “The Doll” about a young woman’s obsession with a mechanical sex doll. I’ll investigate it immediately.

Goals are for A-Holes

I’m finished with having goals. I’m not really what you’d call an ambitious person. Goals kind of suck because you have to strive to attain them. The word “strive” sounds a little painful, doesn’t it? “Strive”, “strain”, “stress”… see what I mean? It is a little unsettling that  I was unable to go a full week with goals, but I have decided to remain content waiting for things to fall into my lap. “Lap.” Now there’s a peaceful word. Rhymes with “nap”.

So, what did I learn from this little experiment?

First and foremost, I don’t like to be told what to do. Even if I am the one doing the telling. When that happens, I get on my nerves. First I ignore myself, then I tell myself what I think I want to hear, then I get angry, and I become belligerent, and more than once, sneaky. Then I have to beat myself down, and eventually I do, because I am relentless. Finally I do what I am supposed to, but only at the last minute, and kind of half-assed.

In the end, it’s best that I just don’t ask myself to do anything. My new strategy is to wait until I have actually done something, and then praise myself profusely. If there is one thing I have learned in doggie obedience school, it is this: positive reinforcement for good behavior is key. And it’s working already! I didn’t want to write this post, because to write it I’d have to start it, but then I did it anyway, and look how far I am already! Yay me! Who’s a good girl? Who’s a pretty lady! It’s me! I am!

I also learned that when it’s 252 degrees outside, it is relatively easy to stay inside and nap. The more you lay around, the more exhausted you become. I now sleep about 18 hours a day. And I sweat a lot less.

The reading goal worked well for me. I finished another big best seller- I’m trying to be au courant and hip, so that when I am invited to fancy parties with hors d’oeurves on silver trays and fountains of sake running through ice sculptures of bears catching salmon in glittering sake streams, I will be able to say, “Oh, yes, I read that! As you can tell by my love of reading, and the fact that I have read many modern bestsellers, I am no dummy! I would be a welcome addition to future parties of this ilk! Now please, accompany me to the sake bear, and we will intelligently and animatedly discuss current works of stimulating literature, while I fill the perfume bottles in my purse with sake that tastes of mountain air and harmony!”

The novel I last read is A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan. It was good, especially at the end. I gotta say though, I’m still partial to the Shteyngart, though the title is a pain in the ass to type. If you want to read it again, look it up. You have the Google. Anyway, the two books had some things in common that I really like. They both jump around in time and person; neither are totally linear. The authors examine the characters’ inner monologues in interesting, new ways. Both do a great job with dialogue and making the characters distinct and sympathetic, while weaving complex plots that are compelling, though not fantastic or extraordinary. They make the every day, common stuff seem pretty darn riveting. Thematically, they explore missed opportunities and mistakes that can’t be undone, as well as those that are of the “shit happens” or “wrong place, wrong time” type, and other things that are eternally fascinating, like love, loss, and the passing of time. They both look at the future, and the future these authors imagine is dystopian and sad. They are indebted to 1984, which is still the greatest book ever. All three books point out that in the near future, a different language is spoken, and people are unable (and increasingly unwilling) to  attempt to express themselves openly and directly. Here is a passage from the end of A Visit from the Goon Squad:

Rebecca was an academic star. Her new book was on the phenomenon of word casings, a term she’d invented for words that no longer had meaning outside quotation marks. English was full of the empty words – “friend” and “real” and “story” and “change – words that had been shucked of their meaning and reduced to husks. Some, like “identity”, “search,” and “cloud,” had clearly been drained of life by their Web usage. With others, the reasons were more complex; how had “American” come to be an ironic term? How had “democracy” come to be used in an arch, mocking way? (p.324)

True that, right? In an age where we have Face Friends and Friends With Benefits (how many of those friends are you still friends with after the benefits stop?), and reality tv sets a new definition of real, when “natural” often has nothing to do with nature, and when “awesome”  or “epic” or “great” all basically mean “good”, etc., etc., we lose the precision of language, and with that the ability to say exactly what we mean. Perhaps we lose the ability to pinpoint exactly what we feel or think.

All three expect increased government and media control, and reliance on technology, and less individual creativity and will.

I love torturing myself thinking about that gloom and doom stuff.

The goals thing taught me that there is a lot to do that I don’t want left undone. Tick, tock, tick, right? So I hope that I get a bee up my butt and start to do something soon. I hope I don’t regret wasting my summer by laying on the couch admiring the red, yellow and green leaves of the Japanese Maple outside my window until my eyes grow heavy, or  crawling to the window sill to get a close-up view of a skinny, spring-grass green lizard, bobbing up and down and puffing out his rose-pink throat, maybe just for me. I love these moments, but I worry…

Of course, this is the ambivalence that started the whole goal thing in the first place. I am right back where I started. I have learned absolutely nothing.

Crap.

These ice sculptures were handcrafted by Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo. They were displayed in 2009 by the German branch of the World Wildlife Fund to highlight global warming. You can see more photos of them here: http://www.streetartutopia.com/?p=1089 This street art site is terrific! Go to their home page and check out the more modern stuff.

Stay cool, fools!

Friday’s Goal – Read!

One of the clever sayings I pass on to others frequently is: “People who don’t read are dummies.” Sadly, I find myself in the dummy category for at least six months out of the year. When I am teaching, all intelligence and intellectual curiosity gets squeezed out of me like an adolescent pizza-face’s tube of Clearasil. I become beaten down by stupidity, laziness, incompetence, and tedium, and then after I have dealt with all that from the BSISD administration, I still have to deal with my students. When I come home from work, I am forced to lay around on the couch not thinking in order to replenish the brain matter that has been lost during the day. Sometimes I have to have a medicinal merlot or malbec. Or Nyquil. Sadly, this doesn’t leave much time for reading.

When one doesn’t read often, one loses the ability to focus and concentrate for a sustained period of time. The best thing about a good book is the way the reader can lose herself in it, but if one can’t focus, this doesn’t happen, and reading gets to be a chore. Every year I have to retrain myself to read. I think I have a touch of the Attention Deficit, so sometimes it’s hard for me to sit still and do one thing, and I also feel like if I don’t have proof of productivity (the laundry is done, I printed these pictures, I wrote this), I fret that I have wasted the day. It’s hard for me to actually set aside time to pick up a book and get into it.

But the thing is, I love to read! I ain’t no dummy! So Friday’s goal (which I actually did on a Tuesday and started writing about on a Wednesday, and am actually going to put out thereon a Friday, but almost a week later – I look time in the face and I laugh! Ha ha time! You’re not the boss of me!) is to read all day long, which I pretty much did. Yay, me! Aren’t I the anything-worth-doing-is-worth-doing-well-quitters-never-win-keep-on-truckin’ -really-smart-reading-girl type?! Yes, I am!

I started out by reading some stuff on the interweb. The first thing that caught my eye was an article about this: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/07/world/europe/07britain.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&hp

WARNING! Rant Ahoy! Turn back now, because it’s going to get ugly!

It seems that the British tabloid, News of the World has long adhered to the practice of hacking into peoples’ voicemail in order to get ‘scoop’. They have been busted for this repeatedly; for example, actress Sienna Miller successfully sued the paper’s parent company, News Corporation, for 100,000 pounds, plus court fees, over hackings that took place in 2005. Businessweek says that she is one of more than 20 celebrities and politicians that are suing the paper, and several journalists have been arrested. The latest brouhaha (great word!) is that News of the World got caught hacking into a missing 13 year old girl’s phone. ( Later, when I watched the CBS News, they showed me exactly how to do this. Turns out it’s super easy. I don’t know if this information is on the nightly news because it’s the public’s right to know, but now there sure is a lot of the public that knows how to do it right!) When her mailbox became filled with the frantic and desperate messages of her friends and family, the paper just deleted earlier messages to make room for more. The parents found out that someone was deleting messages, and so they assumed their daughter was deleting the messages, but by then, she was already dead. That was in 2002. Today the New York Times reports that News of the World also broke into the cellphones of several victims of the 2005 London subway bombings. This is appalling to me. I am just disgusted by the lack of integrity, ethics and respect for people that this brings to light. Sure, we all suspect that things like this happen, but it’s just so dirty, and I don’t mean that in a good way! I don’t care what Sienna Miller and other celebrities say in private; often I don’t care what they say in public. Still, just because they feed on media attention doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to some privacy. And the victims of horrible crimes are victimized again, even in death, when their private messages and conversation are turned into tabloid fodder. Sometimes it’s just not worth it to get the story. It’s just not right. Of course, this leads to speculation about where we get our news and information, and how we can be sure that it is fair, accurate and unbiased. I don’t think we can be sure. It’s hard to know who to trust.

It’s easy to know who not to trust, though. Rupert Murdoch and his giant corpocracy, which includes The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and 20th Century Fox Studios, is repeatedly accused of ethical lapses, biased media, and sometimes criminal activities. He is launching an internal investigation into the hacking thing… almost a decade after allegations have arisen. Of course this is no solution; the company will just find a scapegoat, cut him loose from the flock, and tell everyone that all is peaceful and right in the meadow. The last time this happened in Britain, the guy who was fired went on to be the communications director for the prime minister. And that’s another thing. Murdoch & Co.’s serpentine fingers, like those of other huge, multi-faceted conglomorates like Halliburton, have snaked their way so deeply into the fabric of society that they are able to control the shots in their own best interests and act with impunity.  We are all bought and sold (or we buy and sell others) for the acquisition and retention of power and wealth, regardless of the consequences or recklessness of our actions.

Sigh. It’s all so Orwellian. Or Shteyngartian.

For Rupert Murdoch to deny any knowledge and culpability is ludicrous. What an a-hole. You can read a blog post by someone who says that Murdoch is Satan here: http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/05/former-editor-denies-knowing-that-missing-girls-phone-was-hacked/

Of course, News of the World or Fox News aren’t forced on people. Even when we know big business is overstepping, infringing  or deceiving, we don’t care. We just accept it and keep buying whatever is being sold, keep tuning in for more. Why? I don’t know. Because we are lazy? Apathetic? Used to it? More interested in satisfying our urges, no matter how base, than thinking in terms of right and wrong? All of us -J’ACCUSE!!!!

END OF RANT (pretty much)

I also read that in Atlanta there was a widespread case of cheating on the state’s educational standardized tests by 178 teachers and principals at 80% of the schools in the district. This does not surprise me at all. Just like I blame Murdoch for creating an atmosphere of non-negotiable ‘do whatever it takes, or else’ mentality, I blame No Child Left Behind for the actions of educators that are told that the schools will be shut down if they fail to make certain goals, regardless of extenuating factors or the feasibility of the objective. I’m not saying that anyone was right to cheat or that people aren’t accountable for their own actions, but I understand why people try to conform to set standard and expectations, even if they know that what they are doing is wrong. http://www.prisonexp.org

I had to look at some pretty pictures to cheer myself up. I do love me some real fine photojournalism, y’all. http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/a-fathers-voice-through-kodachrome/

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/01/father-son-husband-war-photographer/

I decided perhaps it was best that I left the Internet for awhile and read books instead. Not that books don’t possess the power to piss me off – what doesn’t? – but I still like to turn pages and smell paper. It’s soothing. Since I just finished a great novel (Shteyngart? Super Sad True Love Story? Have I mentioned it? Here’s a review not by me: http://www.slate.com/id/2262500/pagenum/2 ),  I thought maybe I’d peruse a little nonfiction. I have a huge stack of books by my bed, and I picked out three of them and read the first chapter. The lovely and attractive David Eagleman has a new book out, Incognito.It’s about how our subconscious controls most of our cognitive reality. This book explores “the vastness of inner space.” Chapter One just kind of nutshelled the study of the subconscious from St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century to Freud and Darwin. I’ll let you know when this gets interesting.

Next I looked at Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test – A Journey Through the Madness Industry. I am familiar with his work from This American Life, and I like him a lot. His voice is honest and unassuming, and I like his dry wit. So far the book reads like a novel and I’m looking forward to reading more. And finding out if I am a psychopath.

The last book I first-chaptered is the most dense and academic, but I think I may end up liking it the most.  It’s about how the rise of alphabetic literacy- read “reading”- replaced the image as a method of communication, which led to all kinds of major changes in perception, and in fact, fundamentally rewired the human brain. This, of course, caused major cultural, historical and religious changes, including a colossal shift from societies that worshiped the feminine to those that revere the masculine. It’s a book that talks less about what we read than how we read, and the effect of modes of communication. Here’s a little teaser from page 7:

“Goddess worship, feminine values, and women’s power depend on the ubiquity of  the image. God worship, masculine values and men’s domination of women are bound to the written word. Word and image, like masculine and feminine, are complementary opposites. Whenever a culture elevates the written word at the expense of the image, patriarchy dominates. When the importance of the image supersedes the written word, feminine values and egalitarianism flourish.”

I don’t know if I agree with this, but it’s an interesting premise. If Shlain ends up making me a believer, I won’t have to read anymore; I’ll just look at the pictures.

I read some more stuff that day, but by now I’m sure you are bored of reading what I read and I am bored writing it. Saturday’s goal is going to be a lot less wordy, I assure you.

Here is a video of hoola hoops, from the perspective of the hoop. Enjoy.

Tuesday’s Goal – Appreciation

I like many things. For me, life is terrific. Still, sometimes I get so caught up in monotony, negativity, cramps, anxiety, insomnia, self-loathing, gloom, grading papers, or bad TV (Oh Sixteen and Pregnant! Why are you so compelling?), that I fail to appreciate the many wonderful things, places and people that add quality to my every day. Today, I will think about what pleases me, so here, in no particular order, are some things that I am currently very happy about or grateful for:

1. The fact that grammar is evolving and it is becoming more and more accepted to end sentences with prepositions. This makes much more sense and does not compromise the flow of ideas with the convoluted acrobatics which one must undertake in order to make one’s point fit the rule. I am, however, against the aggressive campaign to do away with the adverb,  but this post is not about what I am opposed to. Let’s just say, I am for grammar, but in moderation, and as I see fit.

I am grateful for structure and rules, and for adaptation and progress.

2. I like this:

I am grateful for innovation and those who try new things.

2. Austin, why you so cool? In honor of you, here is a cool picture of a cool chick keeping cool in the Austin heat:

I am grateful for Austin, my friends in Austin who take me to cool places, and those who accessorize so well that their popsicles match their hair. That beats the carpet and the drapes any day.

4. I like these two topical covers from old New Yorker magazines:

The first is called “Dark Spring”, by Christoph Niemann. You can check out some of  his other work here: http://www.christophniemann.com/index.php/portfolio

The second is “Rubbed Out”, by Gurbuz Dogan Eksioglu. His name is spelled with umlauts and other accent marks I don’t know how to type or speak. He’s Turkish. You can see some of his work here:

http://www.wallgraphy.com/wallpapermurals/gurbuz_dogan_eksioglu.aspx

I am thankful for art, designs, things that make me think, and those who create things that are beautiful, haunting, compelling or meaningful.

I’m also grateful that my parents subscribe to magazines and then give them to me when they are finished… even the Martha Stewart magazine. There. I admitted it. I’m grateful for the New Yorker, The Sun, and the A.V. Club section of The Onion.

4. Louis C.K.’s show, “Louie” is back! Yayyyyy! Catch it on Thursdays on FX. Here is a review of the season premiere: http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/whats-alan-watching/posts/review-fxs-louie-returns-for-season-2-darker-and-smarter-than-ever

5. I’m grateful for good music. If there was no good music, I might love that Todd Rundgren song, “We Gotta Get You a  Woman.” Or “Muskrat Love”, by the Captain and Tenille.

Right now I like this guy my friend KB turned me on to, Graham Reynolds. Not only is he a creative composer*, but a balls -to -wall banging piano player, AND a cool, give-back-to-the community-type person. Here is a video of him and this bad-ass teenage violinist, Ruby Jane Smith

Ruby Jane sings and writes songs, too. She’s so bad-ass!

* In an interesting and serendipitous coincidence, Graham Reynolds composed the score to the movie Through A Scanner Darkly, that my friend Kari did the costumes for!

I also like this:

So, I am thankful for great music and the many people who turn me on to it. You know who you are. Thanks!

5. I am hearting pistachio ice cream these days. So sweet and creamy, but wait! Is that a crunch and a hint of salt on my tongue? Yumbiliyah!

6. I am reading a new book and I love it so much! It’s called Super Sad True Love Story, and it’s by Gary Shteyngart. I first read a short story that featured the main characters of the novel in the New Yorker‘s 20 Under 40 fiction series (again, thanks for being you, wordy, sometimes way-over-my-head-magazine!) and was immediately intrigued, but the book has just blown me away. It’s funny and sad and scary. Shteyngart is a master of dialogue and a true wordsmith, and the story is an amazing commentary on so many topics: mortality, consumerism, media, marketing, love, loneliness, politics, the immigrant experience, government, youth, religion, priorities, class, consciousness, social worth …I could go on. It’s also dystopian, and you know I eat that shit up! Here is a trailer for the book, which was released last year and is now in paperback. By the way, Shteyngart was James Franco’s teacher.

I didn’t even know they had trailers for books.

I am so grateful I can read!

7. I am truly, eternally, unfailingly grateful for my family, those who I am related to by blood, and those by bond. I love you so much, and my relationships are my very best thing. Thank you for caring, coming back, forgiving, tolerating, appreciating, coaxing, encouraging, sympathizing, taking care, picking up the bill, petting my dog, emailing, laughing, not laughing, listening, hoping for the best, not giving up, pretending you didn’t smell that, sending cards and letters, looking forward to my arrival, picking me up, dropping me off, making me dinner and telling me goodnight. All of you… I’m just so lucky. Thank you!

This appreciation thing could go on for days, but I type really slowly, and so I have been sitting on a wicker chair in my shorty-shorts for about 300 hours now, and I can no longer feel my tush. I am exhausted with gratitude, worn out with the felicities of fortune that have graced me, and wrapped in a feeling of goodness and deep appreciation. Really. This goal shit worked!

I am really grateful that my biggest problem today is that I have so many things that I appreciate that it put my ass to sleep. If you have read this far, I really appreciate you, too! Your stamina and fortitude are admirable, and you should be rewarded…so I’ll stop now. You’re welcome. And thank you.