Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Girl Fight

I know I should say "woman fight" but really, it's not as interesting.
As Middlebrow mentioned, I happened to witness a girl fight in the waning moments of the Sun Volt show on Sunday night.
First, I just want to gush (gush, gush) about how amazing Alejandro was. I can't wait to listen to him all the time.
Well then. Sun Volt was on. I had noticed earlier that a young man was backstage taking pictures of Alejandro when he was on. I assumed it was one of the members of Sun Volt because he had that kind of mussy haired-hip look to him. Turns out he was the bass player. Anyway, we were in the second row, front and center. When the show got going, many people stood and danced in the area just in front of the stage, which meant just in front of the people in the front row. As the show progressed, two girls (yes, girls) came and stood right in front of the people just in front of us. Annoying, but not a buzz kill. One of the girls, the brunette, held a huge jug of what looked like Kool-Aid and vodka. The other girl, a blonde, wore a tiny white sundress. They were, to my mind, trying to get the attention of the mussy haired hip guy.
The woman in front of us asked the girls several times to quiet down, or take it down. Not sure. It was loud. But from her hand gestures, I could tell she was less than thrilled with the presence of the girls in front of her. Instead of quieting down, the girls screamed louder and waved their hands. They were being truly obnoxious. I watched this argument slowly simmering between glances at the stage and some booty shaking.
During the encore, I noticed the girls arguing more. The woman's body language said to me "upset, but controlled." The girls were laughing, clearly enjoying the irritating effect they were having on the woman. Her husband stood beside her, uncomfortable.
I was clapping when I saw the woman's arm shoot out, right into the side of the brunette's face. There was no blood. The brunette clutched her face as if she had just noticed its existence. She looked confused, as if she had blacked out for a moment and then come to in the middle of a situation she didn't understand.
The woman's husband started gathering their things, cooler, folding chairs, blanket. The brunette looked around, as if for a witness. I turned my attention to the stage. I heard the brunette say, "This isn't over." The woman walked off with the two girls, her husband following close behind.
I felt sorry for the husband and the woman. It was the best show of the season, and it was ruined by two underage drinkers. Sure, she shouldn't have hit the girl. But I understand the situation. I've been there. I yelled at some loud talkers at the Chick Corea and Bela Fleck concert. Middlebrow regrets that he didn't deck a guy who talked about real estate through their entire second set.
We've become a society of rude people. Sad. But true.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pie Update

On Wednesday (yes, the first day of school), I decided, oh, around 8 pm, to make a pie. I made this decision for several reasons: the blackberries were almost over ripe, I was awake anyway, watching "Rivers and Tides" trying to decide if I could use it in the Intro to Creative Nonfiction class, Son had just gone to bed, and we were having dinner the next night with Scorpion's Tail and company. A pie seems like a good thing to bring along.

Here's the pie. It was good, but not amazing. The crust was, overall, good, but tough in a few places. The filling was good, but, in my opinion, should have been sweeter. One friend disagreed. But.

This was my favorite part of the pie, the little lip where some filling was oozing out. I decided I like a pie that's not perfect, that has some imperfection. Otherwise, how would I know it was mine?

I have to say that the idea of "imperfection" has been greatly influenced by Andy Goldsworthy. I was watching, as I said, the documentary, "Rivers and Tides" as I waited for the crust to chill, then for the pie to bake, etc. He said (and I'm paraphrasing) that most art is so tightly controlled as to be airless. He likes to make art that incorporates surprise, chance, chaos. I think this is my theory of pies, and life, as well.
While making the pie I encountered the moment, as I do in most baking endeavors, where I ask myself, Why am I doing this? and simultaneously almost burst into tears. I don't want baking to be just another realm where I feel inadequate, and judged to be falling, well, just a bit short in the perfection category.
As I rolled out the crust, I couldn't help thinking of my many grandmothers, and the numerous pies they must have made in Iowa kitchens and Chicago apartments. They didn't worry about Martha Stewart or what the neighbors thought. Granted, they probably had much more experience, and guidance, in the pie making realm than me. But I don't want dessert preparation to be about doing it "right" and striving for "perfection." I want it to connect me to my grandmothers and to my son. I want it to taste delicious and look just a little bit out of control.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thinking About This

In response to ideas raised by Sleepy E and Signifying Nothing, I am now pondering how the cool, hip guy (Ira Glass?) becomes The Man, or the dominant paradigm that others work against/ respond to. In reference to Sleepy E, it's when the Hero rises to such power that he becomes the Villain.
Except, I don't want to hate him. I admire him for what he's done, but now I want something new. This also refers to McSweeney's et al: the cool hip publication/radio show publishes up and coming unknown who then become famous. Then the hip cool publication/radio show continues to publish only those now famous people, and we, the listeners/readers get sick of listening to the same five people over and over.
So what do we do? Do we start our own hip publication/radio show?

Also, Paula Poundstone is coming in October. Anyone? Anyone?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Back to What?

I know. We can't fight it. It's coming. At least it's not a Monday. We have that to be thankful for. I have finished my syllabi, I have found two new articles, I have selected a movie. I have received the obligatory before school emails from pre-panicked students, and one from the distant past who wants to come discuss his grade. What? They never cease to amaze me, those wily students.
I still have not made pie this summer, but I may do that tomorrow. I still have to find a recipe.
Oh, back to school. It sends me into a "what did I accomplish this summer?" panic. I didn't finish my novel, but on the plus side, MB and I took Gus on a hike yesterday. We went on a picnic with Son this week. I'm (pretty much) back on the running/swimming schedule. I picked up my dry cleaning. What more can I expect?

Monday, August 13, 2007

I'm Lost, I Said

By way of an apology to Signifying Nothing for incorrectly correcting him about the lyrics to "America," I will post here the (seemingly) correct lyrics for the song by Simon & Garfunkel. I got them off a website and I listened to the song, and they seem correct, so here it goes:

"Let us be lovers we'll marry our fortunes together."
"I've got some real estate here in my bag."
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner pies,
And walked off to look for America.

"Kathy," I said as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh,
"Michigan seems like a dream to me now."
It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw,
I've gone to look for America.

Laughing on the bus,
Playing games with the faces.
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy.
I said "Be careful his bowtie is really a camera."

"Toss me a cigarette, I think there's one in my raincoat."
"We smoked the last one an hour ago."
So I looked at the scenery, she read her magazine,
And the moon rose over an open field.

"Kathy, I'm lost," I said, though I knew she was sleeping
I'm empty and aching and I don't know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They've all gone to look for America
All gone to look for America
All gone to look for America

And I agree with SN that it's a beautiful (or accurate?) piece of Americana. We are all, in some way, looking for America. Or some of us have found it, our little corner, and we love it. Especially upon return.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Leaving CinCin

Parting Shots:
Met wonderful men, Joe, Amhet, Greg for night two at JeanRo. Had a Stella, a bourdeaux, and the Trout. Delicious.
Made all the more delicious by the fact that they expense accounted it. Then we went to a Martini club for two dirty maritinis.
All free, people, because many working professionals have expense accounts. And like to buy attractive women drinks. That's assuming, of course, that I'm attractive. Which, Joe, father of two, said I was, "naturally attractive."
And, hey,when that comes with free wine, food and drinks, it ain't for nothin.
So over and out, for now.
BTW, I saw "Becoming Jane." It's okay. I love James but am no big fan of Anne. My big problem with the film was the presumption that a man had to inspire her great works, had to teach her to feel passion. Anyway, the film didn't spend the time, as her novels did, developing the relationship. It was a good way to spend the afternoon, air-conditioned.
Am glad to return home in mere hours, as it is well into tomorrow already.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Greetings from CinCin

I'm here! It's BLEEPing hot. And by hot, I don't mean the sun shines and makes me hot. Walking out of the air-conditioned hotel into the Cincinnati air is like walking into a hot blanket that's been soaked in hot water and put in a hot dryer where hot air blows on you.
When I stepped out of the airport last night I immediately tried to think of metaphors for the humidity. "The air clenched the water in fists." No. "The air fisted the water." No. "The air held the water loosely, so that it might drench anyone who dared step from the manufactured environment into the cruel night air." Closer.

Today I went to the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, called the CAC. (Good thing they didn't add another "A".) It was designed by Zaha Hadid, and I came to see the building so I could write about it for the DFL.
My favorite aspect of the building was the curved cement where the wall met the floor. It looks like a place to skateboard.
I was most precoccupied with the stairs. They are low and unnaturally long, which forces one to walk more slowly. Form dictating function, in a way.
Through the window I spied this painting on a building across the street. Clearly done for the benefit of CAC patrons. But the man looks exasperated. Also, like he's melting.
The Reds were playing today. The street next to the stadium is Pete Rose Street or Way or something. It should be Alley, right? Apparently they still love him here.

Let me just tell you my tale of woe: I got in last night and the hotel had no record of my reservation. I must have bad hotel karma. I found myself thinking, for the second time in less than a week, "Anyone can take a reservation, but can you hold a reservation?" It was the fault of Travelocity. So kind Scott at the Cincinnatian found me a room (a parlor, actually, but who am I to complain about the thin fold out bed?) and I called David in Bombay to work out all the kinks. I was on hold for the greater part of an hour. Luckily I found a magazine! If I had to listen to that recording of a couple talking about how to change reservations one more time I was going to gouge my eyes out with some of the sharp artwork in the room! Anyway, I got a refund and made my own, new reservations at the Westin. All hail the Westin. They let me check in this morning AND I have free wireless. Hurrah! And for lunch I hade a Big Salad in the lobby. It was delicious.

Overall, the Hadid building was disappointing. I know it's a museum and as such its main function is to display art. But seriously, the most exciting thing about the building is the facade. And the stairs. The display spaces are cool, but nothing astounding.
So my question is, can public space be feminist? I don't mean can the space or building challenge dominant ideas about public space, because I know they can. But what makes a space, or a building, feminist? Many of Hadid's buildings are curvy, but does this make them femininist? Many architects are using more organic shapes/lines in their buildings. I'd hate to think that curves are strictly feminine. I got a book that I read some of on the plane. It was interesting, in that many of the essays investigate the public/private, masculine/feminine split. And one (which I have not read yet) attempts to get outside that binary.
But in today's political culture are we bound by it, because so much public architecture is masculine and supports (literally and metaphorically) patriarchial institutions? One need only look at the downtown library to see curves and open space. Designed by a man.
I'm left only with questions.
My goal for the afternoon: write, find a shopping center, and see a movie. In that order? Maybe. I have found a place (across the street!) for dinner. JeanRo. Mussells marinare and pomme frite, here I come!!
I will pause now so that you may reflect.

Monday, August 06, 2007

School Dread

I'm back from the jungles of Idaho where we braved storms and too many margaritas to enjoy family time and reminiscing with high school buddies, former teachers, parents' colleagues, and family friends and neighbors.
  1. Sitting in hot pool that belonged to hotel nestled in evergreens, as it got dark.
  2. Spending lots of time with parents and siblings.
  3. Hiking with siblings in Lava Hot Springs.
  4. Making the incredibly delicious pomegranate mojitos (not as sweet as you'd fear!).
  5. Walking Gus in Lava and meeting the locals.
  6. Talking to hip teenage niece about friends from Austin, myspace and emo-screamo.
  7. Shopping with sister for shorts and buying two shirts and new dress instead.
  8. Buying shorts at Ace Hardware.
  9. Swimming laps at Ross Park Pool with my new polarized goggles.
  10. Eating at Pocatello taco truck two times.
  11. Running into high school friend and jewelry making wife at Pocatello farmer's market.
  12. Hiking with grad school friend and dog on Boundary Trail.
  13. Riding my bike in Island Park and Inkom.
  14. Meeting sister's friend from State College. Mostly when he said things like "Yep, she's your sister" and "Don't you think 'Mike's Hard Berry' sounds dirty?"
  15. Talking to cool sociologist who studies vampire culture and prison gambling.
  16. Finally reading A Fan's Notes. What took me so long?
  17. Eating lots of eggs and bacon for breakfast.
  18. Eating lots.
  19. Drinking lots.
  20. Finally coming home and getting back to running. And sleeping in my own bed.
But, because I'm crazy!, I leave for Cincinnati on Wednesday to do research for what heretofore shall be referred to as the DFL. I'll spend two days at the Arts Center, also eating at whatever cool restaurants I can find, maybe having a martini, if I feel brave.
I hope I see many of you soon. Wish me luck.