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Nov. 27th, 2014

reading tiger

Wednesday Reading Has Connectivity Issues (and Deadlines)

I spent all day yesterday working, except for the break I took to take the kids to the library. (Note to self: remember how early it gets dark nowadays.) Then, in the evening, I inexplicably lost the Internet for many hours. That's my excuse this week. I had to turn in my copy late, too.

So! I finished Phantasm Japan. Go read it. Tim Pratt's "Those Who Hunt Monster Hunters" is probably my favorite story of the volume because it intersects neatly with my own thematic concerns, plus it mocks online dating sites and their denizens.

I also liked Joseph Tomaras' "Thirty-Eight Observations on the Nature of the Self," both naughty and dark, and Project Itoh's "From the Nothing, With Love" is the perfect take on the James Bond stories. Nothing here left me cold and I feel a little bad not giving them all a little shout-out.

Now I am about halfway through "The History of Rock'n'Roll in Ten Songs" by Greil Marcus, which I picked up on a whim while the kids were out of town two weeks ago. I found his take on "All I Could Do Was Cry" a, a little tainted with reflexive disdain for pop music. Maybe this was always going to happen when you put Etta James and Beyonce next to each other within the confines of a single song; I mean, I wasn't happy with Beyonce's performance of James in "Cadillac Records" either, except for that one song. But I came out of that essay with a bit of side-eye going on.

On the other hand, he has turned in the best essay on Buddy Holly I have ever read.

The concept of the book, exactly as advertised on the label -- ten songs, not necessarily "the best" or the most famous or whatever, but ten songs that reach forward and back through the history of post-WW2 popular music -- is, so far, executed perfectly. As in, it makes all chronological discussions seem plodding and unimaginative. This sort of associational thinking and writing is what Marcus is best at, of course. And also the kind I enjoy most when reading about music, which I do a lot. (Probably, as a topic, it is second behind food.)

Next up will probably be "Who We Be" by Jeff Chang, which I have been eagerly anticipating for, oh, a couple years now. Unless I take a break between chunks of nonfiction. We'll see.

Nov. 25th, 2014

reading tiger


One of the things I like about Mills College Children's School: today was the school's annual "community celebration," in which the kids perform a song, the Parent-Family Association makes a little presentation, and then we all eat potluck-style. And, of course, the head of school gets up to make a little speech.

Today, Ms. Brown got up to make her speech and said (I paraphrase): "I thought a lot about what to say today because my heart is heavy since last night with things I won't talk about right now." No preamble. I kinda wanted to give her a hug, to be honest. I kind of wanted to give the whole school a hug. Which is kind of what a community celebration is, or can function as.

My heart is heavy since last night with things I don't want to talk about right now. And heavy with other things, too. I don't think I've made note of it here but Grandie passed over the weekend and we are in the midst of making arrangements to go back to Ohio for the funeral next month.

I lifted my heart by setting the table, by serving the food, by eating and enjoying it and the company of the people who brought it. In the bright California late-autumn sun.
reading tiger

Cabbage Salad With Bacon

Shred a head of cabbage. Put it in a bowl. Cover it with boiling water, let stand for 10 minutes, then drain. Wipe the bowl dry and return the cabbage.

Grate one fat carrot and one large apple. Add it to the bowl. Add salt and pepper and red wine vinegar and mix.

Cook about 4 pieces of bacon, chopped. When it's cooked, add it and any melted bacon fat to the vegetables. Mix it together and eat the heck out of it because it's fucking delicious.

I made this for the kids' "community celebration" at school today; it almost didn't make it that far.

Nov. 19th, 2014

reading tiger

Reading Wednesday Is Back On Track

I have read all of "Phantasm Japan" except the last long illustrated novelette. Positive comments forthcoming when I'm done.

I also read, as planned, the second and third volumes of Zita the Spacegirl, and now I have also read one and a half of those volumes to the kids as bedtime stories. Reading comics aloud can be odd; I do a lot of sound effects and pointing and querying as to whether they followed what happened from panel to panel. (The answer is almost always yes.) This is why I sometimes have a moratorium on comics as bedtime stories. This time I flipped it into "I bet you can probably read it yourself!" And so April snuck a peek at "Return of Zita" and keeps trying to tell Simone what happened as a way to show off. This is the genesis of anti-spoiler culture, right here. I have never, ever, ever in my life uttered the words "don't tell her what happens! Let her find out for herself!" before this week, but here we are.

Nov. 18th, 2014

reading tiger

The Big Click!

My essay "Crime in Oakland: A Personal History" went live at The Big Click today. Read it here. Many thanks to garnetlocks for excellent editorial feedback. And to black_pearl_10 for the same, only earlier.

Nov. 13th, 2014

reading tiger

Reading Wednesday Loses Track of Time

G. and the kids have been in Richmond since Saturday. This means I have been alone since early Saturday morning, with no day job or take-the-kids-to-school to structure my time or anything. (I do have work deadlines and appointments and such, but nonetheless.) I am prone to losing track of days at the best of times.

Thus, Reading Wednesday is coming to you a day late again.

You might think with so much free time on my hands I might have bashed through a lot of reading, but you'd be mistaken. Instead I've been writing and making collages for my kids. And playing online Scrabble.

So, I am nearing the end of Phantasm Japan. I think I am going to tackle the next two volumes of Zita the Spacegirl tonight, too.

Nov. 11th, 2014

reading tiger

(no subject)


"For much of its history, the United States claimed ownership of the ocean within three miles of its coasts. That changed in 1988, when the federal government declared that hereafter it would have sovereignty over the ocean as far as 12 miles from land. With that action, American territory increased dramatically. I invite you to consider a comparable expansion in the coming months, Leo. Seize more space. Seek further privileges. Ask for a bigger piece of everything."

Nov. 9th, 2014

reading tiger

Also, a QOTD

"...fulfilling the tiresome internet feminist requirement that I relax my critical standards in order to give an A for Effort..."

And this is why we all still have a soft spot in our hearts for I Blame the Patriarchy.
reading tiger

an actual newsy update

G. and the kids are in Richmond, Virginia, where G.'s mother was admitted to palliative care last week. (She has lung cancer and has chosen to discontinue chemotherapy.) She is comfortable and feisty and doing better every day, her prognosis lengthening probably as you read this.

They will be gone for about a week. I am on my own until they get back.

I have not had this much completely unstructured time...ever? I have one work deadline on Wednesday and one appointment on Monday and that's it.

And a lot of perishable vegetables to eat. I see soup on the horizon.

Nov. 8th, 2014

reading tiger

(no subject)

1. It is (pleasantly) strange to be walked to BART from a gathering in SF by one's host.

2. G., who is traveling to visit his mother in Virginia, called to let me know that he'd landed safely -- and to apologize for not reading my book earlier. "It's very you," he said, and that he's enjoying it very much. "How is it very me?" I asked. "The feminist screeds right next to the science."

3. Also something about the way I make masculinity (maleness, really, in the book's case) the deviation from the norm rather than vice-versa. "That's my life project," I said.

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