Friday, September 30, 2005

Listening to The Decemberists

Maggie says:
Heard this playing on Forrester Street and Mikaela burned me a copy. Have not stopped listening to it since.

Perfect music to listen to at work. Perfect to listen to while lounging around. Perfect to listen to while writing at Flying Star (now). Perfect.

Charming, nerdy boy-voice: check. Clever, creative songwriting: check. Tragedy and angst: check. Kick-ass drums: check.

My faves: "The Infanta," "We Both Go Down Together," "Eli, the Barrow Boy..." Oh wait, I'm just listing the songs in order. Yeah, it's one of those CDs. I do have to give a shout-out to "The Engine Driver," though.
And I am a writer, writer of fictions
I am the heart that you call home
And I've written pages upon pages
Trying to rid you from my bones
My bones
My bones
Just buy Picaresque. I'll fill you in on the older stuff when I get there. Oh yeah, did I mention that the Decemberists have been described as "folksy pirates?" Enough said.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Commander in Chief

Mikaela says:
Good thing I'm reading newspapers these days so I can know what's happening on t.v.

Today's L.A. Times has a very funny piece on a man's reaction to the new show with Geena Davis as President of the United States.

The "reporter" is dismayed at the sexism in the ad campaign for the show, but he ends up seeing it as parody of the inevitable reaction of critics. He also gets a nice wake-up call about the reality of sexism that women face every day.

Very funny read, actually.

An excerpt:

A LOT OF PEOPLE don't consider me a feminist. This may be because of the fact that I spend most of my time objectifying women.

But I think of myself as a feminist. As a kid I was forced to listen to an unhealthy amount of "Free to Be You and Me." I've read Betty Friedan and Simone de Beauvoir. I strongly believe that my wife should work outside of the home. Hopefully soon. So when I saw the ad campaign for ABC's new drama "Commander in Chief," I thought it was one of the more offensive things I've ever seen that didn't turn me on.
I watched the pilot and quickly saw that ... the show was scrutinizing freaking out about a female president, not adopting that attitude. The political-cartoon ads were meant to mimic reactionary comics that might run if a woman really were president. ... I had mistaken the characters' attitude for the author's. I had decided that just discussing a topic was sexist.

Looking back, I can see why I was eager to overreact with my nationwide boycott. It seemed so much easier than giving up porn.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

There is a God, and She works for the Gap

Maggie says:
Warning: Major feminine frivolity ahead!

Tonight I reached a milestone in my entire shopping history. Hell, I reached a milestone in dressing. In one night, a lifetime of memories that involve cringing in front of a large dressing room mirror with terrible lighting seem dimmer, kinder, farther away. And did I mention less likely to happen again?

Four words, ladies: the Gap Curvy Jean. For my fellow girls out there with curves (and we all know who we are), don't walk, RUN to the Gap and buy these jeans. I'm talking a revolution in fit. I'm talking pants that don't try to squash you into a mannequin imitation; these pants embrace curves. They accentuate curves. They fit!

Plus, they also come in all kinds of yummy corduroys. I walked out of there with one pair of jeans and two pairs of cords and visions of comfy sweaters and hot chocolate in my head. Can someone cue the roasting green chile and extra-blanket-needed nights? Because I'm ready.

And to prove the true miracle of the Gap Curvy Jean, I offer this story: at another store a few minutes later, a salesgirl saw my Gap bag. Immediately, she grabs onto my arm and asks me, "Did you get the Curvy Jean? I just bought a pair, too." Now this girl was tall, stick-thin, and had no hips, so I asked her why she chose the Curvy instead of the Gap's other new jean, the Straight. She looks me dead-on and says, "I've never had a butt before and have always wished I was curvy. These jeans make me look like I have something! They're the best things I've ever worn! I'm obsessed!" If you don't believe me, look for the blond, bubbly Macy's employee to verify this story.

Jeans for us (that tiny girls want to wear to be more like us). Butts and hips appreciated. Women happier everywhere. Next up: World Peace?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

This Moment Meme

Maggie says:
Feeling more m-pyrical than m-pyre today. Must be that 3 a.m. bedtime. Yawn. Here's some nonsense to share. M2? Everyone else?

1. Open the book nearest you to page 23. What is the fifth sentence on that page?
"The larger world perceives few differences among us, so our efforts to distinguish ourselves from each other only split us - they do not convince other people that our way is the right way."
- Stir it Up: Lessons in Community Organizing and Advocacy, Rinku Sen

2. What lyrics are you hearing at this moment?
When I see you sky as a kite
As high as I might
I can't get that high
The how you move
The way you burst the clouds
it makes me want to try
- The Cure, "High"

3. In your browser's list of blog links, what's the first blog? The fifth?
M-pyre's first, of course. Fifth is Duke City Fix.

4. The last person I spoke to was...

5. Right now, I'd rather be...

6. Later on, I'll be...
Having drinks and dinner at Pearl's with Marjorie, Mikaela, and the hottest new mom around, Miss Joann

Monday, September 26, 2005

TONIGHT: Bob Dylan documentary by Martin Scorcese

Maggie says:
No, really. Tonight on PBS at 9:00 is Part 1 of No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, a Martin Scorcese "picture." (I love when directors still use the word "picture.") This should be great stuff for Dylan fans, Scorcese fans, or folks who don't know much about Dylan and have been hoping a for a PBS documentary to get them hooked. Part of the American Masters series. Tonight: 9:00. Tomorrow: 9:00. Be there.

Ahhh, this song

Maggie says:
I have songs that stay with me. This one has since high school. It means a little something different at different times, but it sticks. It resonates. Always. When I hear it (like I just did during a random shuffle of all my music), it makes me sit down and listen. Again. And I will again and again.

World Leader Pretend, REM

I sit at my table and wage war on myself
It seems like it's all... it's all for nothing
I know the barricades, and
I know the mortar in the wall breaks
I recognize the weapons, I used them well

This is my mistake. Let me make it good
I raised the wall, and I will be the one to knock it down

I've a rich understanding of my finest defenses
I proclaim that claims are left unstated,
I demand a rematch
I decree a stalemate
I divine my deeper motives
I recognize the weapons
I've practiced them well. I fitted them myself

It's amazing what devices you can sympathize... empathize
This is my mistake. Let me make it good
I raised the walls, and I will be the one to knock it down

Reach out for me and hold me tight. Hold that memory
Let my machine talk to me. Let me machine talk to me

This is my world
And I am the world leader pretend
This is my life
And this is my time
I have been given the freedom
To do as I see fit
It's high time I've razed the walls
That I've constructed

It's amazing what devices you can sympathize... empathize
This is my mistake. Let me make it good

I raised the walls, and I will be the one to knock it down

You fill in the mortar. You fill in the harmony
You fill in the mortar. I raised the walls
And I'm the only one
I will be the one to knock it down

Study Break

Mikaela says:
So after a weekend of writing, it was time for a little down-time. Marjorie picked the defining romance of my young life.

Say Anything
is nothing if not cute, fun, and full of the best campy lines:

"So if you guys know so much about women, why are you here at a Gas N Sip on a Saturday night with no women anywhere?"

"Choice, man. Conscious Choice."

"How hard is it to just decide to be in a good mood and get in a good mood?"

"Gee, it's easy."

"Don't be a guy, Lloyd. The world is full of guys. Be a man."

"So, like how'd you get Diane Cort to go out with you?"

"I called her up."

"Yeah, but I mean, why'd it work? Like what are you?"

"I'm Lloyd Dobbler."

"Wow. Thanks, man. That gives me hope."
"Hey world, check ME out."
"This is the new me, Ice Lloyd. My assault on the world begins NOW. The rain on my car is a baptism. I don't know, Cory. I think you have it all figured out. When you start out depressed, everything comes as a pleasant surprise."
And always and forever romance for me will be framed by and measured against the image of Lloyd Dobler holding the boom box (think about all the batteries in that thing! think of the weight. ahhh, so sweet!) over his head outside her window, Malibu a silent companion behind.

Does it get better than that?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Heading to Thesis Hole, Why-o-Me

Mikaela says:
So the M's are getting masters. Two Ms are less freaked out about this than the other. I'll let you speculate wildly on that one for yourselves.

I thought it would be fun to keep a running list of all those things I want to do but will deprive myself of while I write like the wind (a whiny, illiterate, confused wind, let it be known) over the next 6 weeks. (Ah!)

  1. Reading Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival
  2. Seeing movies -- any movies
  3. Running
  4. Shopping
  5. Cooking
  6. Cleaning
  7. Servicing the car
  8. Volunteering
Hmmm, now I'm thinking of this in a new light... I have a get-out-of-jail-free card for ANYTHING that comes up in the next 6 weeks! I don't have to say yes to ANYTHING... Wow, that's powerful. The freedom, the power, the ... oh yeah ... pain.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Oh how we love astrology...

I'm Not Surprised Hitler Was A Taurus

By Trish Arnquist
September 21, 2005 | The Onion Issue 41•38

I'm Not Surprised Hitler Was A Taurus

While going through some old copies of Star Signs for my upcoming garage sale, I came across something pretty wild. Did you know that Carmen Electra and Joey Lawrence were born on the same day as Adolf Hitler? Isn't that insane? I had Carmen and Joey totally pegged as Leos. You know, artistic, spontaneous, generous... As for Hitler, though, no surprise that guy's a Taurus.

In fact, just a few days ago, I had the History Channel on, and there was this program about Nazis or something, and when Hitler came on, wearing his swastika uniform and looking all high and mighty, I was like, "Oh, yeah, that guy's definitely a Taurus. Just look at his outfit." My high-school friend Becca was a Taurus, and they're totally cut from the same cloth: They're earthy, but don't let that fool you.

My father's one, so I know: Taurus is crazy about his routines! Growing up, whatever my dad said was the law. Whether it was not letting me go out on a school night or forcing me to eat all my vegetables, there was no use trying to reason with him. In fact, I used to say, "Dad, you're such a Nazi." It's weird the things our psyches tell us.

I wonder if Hitler was an Aries rising. That would explain his temper. Taurus has a temper enough, but boy, when Aries starts seeing red, you better get as far away from him as you can! Flee to another country if possible. Just pack up your belongings, load your children into the car, and go, go, go! Last thing you want to do is stick around when you're on the outs with Taurus, Aries rising.

Earth signs tend to be ambitious and really concentrate on a single purpose. Taurus, in particular, is known for cracking the whip. Is that so Hitler, or what?

I mean, how did Hitler's friends even deal with him? When I'm even in the same room with a Taurus, I start to freak. Of course, I'm a Gemini, and air signs don't get along so well with earth signs. I bet most of Hitler's top brass were Pisces. Pisces and Tauruses make good matches. Eva Braun's sign was Aquarius. I imagine that was a rocky relationship! Aquarius rocks the boat, and Taurus doesn't like that one bit! Which I guess explains why her marriage to Hitler was so short.

Taurus can be arrogant, which can really get him into trouble. I saw on that show that Hitler invaded Russia in June. June is rarely a good time for Taurus to undertake any new projects. True, Mercury was ascendant, but Stalin, the leader of Russia at the time, was a Sagittarius, a fire sign. In that combination, earth's the one that's going down. As an air sign, I would have gotten along much better with Stalin.

It may have been obvious to me all along, but not everyone is so perceptive. For instance, my friend Sarah, on a couple of occasions, has mentioned that she will never understand why Hitler did the things he did. I wonder if she knows he was a Taurus.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Thanks for the m-pyrical party, ladies!

Random entertainment blurbs

Maggie says:
Damn - I haven't been on m-pyrical in a month! Let me make amends with a few random entertainment items that are on my mind:
  • Emmy's Shmemmy's. The Emmy's last night were horrendous. I'm sorry, but "Everybody Loves Raymond" represents all that is wrong with American television. And finally - finally! - the stupid show is over and I tune in to see some props go to "Arrested Development" and "Scrubs" and instead see Emmy voters give the same annoying family a big send-off. If I see damn Doris Roberts accept another award I am going to freak out. I know, respect for elders and all, but Jessica Walters (Arrested Development) and Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men) both kick ass on their shows and should've been rewarded for it. Doris Roberts bugs the hell out of me. I did agree with the Emmy going to Felicity Huffman, whom I adore, for her Desperate Housewives character, whom I also adore and who's the only real character on that show, in my opinion. So there.

  • "The 40-year-old Virgin" is still in theaters. Saw this last week and laughed so hard I was crying! But interestingly, my friend and I definitely laughed harder than anyone else there, and I was definitely the only woman laughing. Hmmm.... But seriously - a perfectly cast movie with hilarious, gentle humor about things you wouldn't think could be portrayed gently. The foursome in this photo are cast so perfectly - their dynamics are what make this movie work. And Paul Rudd is officially my imaginary funny movie boyfriend. The final scene - a song and dance number to "The Age of Aquarius" - is the most hilarious thing I've seen on film since the fight scene in "Anchorman." It's not as funny (because I maintain the "Anchorman" scene to be the funniest thing ever filmed), but it definitely approaches the same levels of ridiculousness that I enjoy seeing in comedies so much.

  • Watched "Office Space" again. I think this movie is such a testament to the times. It's going to live on and on and be so '90s, so corporate America, forever. It means something to everyone who's ever worked in a cubicle (which I did for six months and promised myself I'd never do again, I hated it so much). This movie has some of the all-time classic movie lines, some of the all-time classic movie details. "I wouldn't say I've been missing it, Bob" and "PC Load Letter" make me giggle like crazy, and Michael Bolton and Bill Lumbergh are some one of the funniest characters ever. A perfectly funny movie.
That's all for me. Now that serious fall movie season is about to kick off, I think m-pyrical will start to pick up a little. For movie-lovers, fall is the best time of the year. I can't wait.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Yamboree is coming up

marjorie says...

I never miss the annual Yamboree in Gilmer Texas, held each October.
Love this time of year...

Yam Queen Dress

The Yam Queen and her court, along with the nearby Tyler Rose Festival Queen and her court, provide quite a bit of revenue to area seamstresses.

Fiddling Contest

He is an amazing fiddle player.

At the Yamboree Chicken Judging

Mom, Uncle, Aunt, Uncle, Dad, Uncle...and that's Camryn on Mom's lap.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Cynicism vs. Optimism -- where do you fall?

Mikaela says:
Watching Crash last night, I was disturbed -- not necessarily at the ugliness of racist attitudes but by how much they seemed unreal to me.

I am the first one to acknowledge the reality of racism, in all its blatantness and insidious subtlety, at all levels of our civilization. But I realized last night watching the movie that I balk at seeing it in individuals. I believe it of us as a species, but as individual human beings? How can we be so disconnected from the reality of our fellow companions? How can we move so quickly from trying in our everyday lives to be good people, to live good lives, to live in community to being selfish monsters that can only see our own realities and feel the surge of hot, visceral justification for any action we take in "self-preservation"?

I know that movies are powerful for this very reason. It is all too easy to understand the horror of the Holocaust and denounce it. It is another level of understanding to see the individual choices that people made that added to and perpetuated an ugliness that led to millions of deaths. I appreciate movies like Schindler's List when they slowly uncover the intricacy and twisted ethics of each person -- he saved all those people, but he couldn't be decent to his wife.

In Crash, I thought the movie did a good job raising issues and illustrating topics of conversation, but the move from good-guy to bad-guy was too fast, too black and white, too dramatic to be really useful.

I think the blatant aspects of racism are probably the easiest to tackle -- both in movies and as a society -- but it's the subtlety of prejudices that call for the most exploration and stretch us to the limit of our ability to understand and truly empathize with each other. This commitment to connection is the only way out of the binds of racism, prejudice, and selfishness that are the antithesis of community and the danger to a world that keeps getting smaller and smaller as the number of us keeps growing and growing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Waayyy inside joke at corporate America

Mikaela says:

I almost swallowed my own tongue trying not to laugh at this one out loud at work.

We just finished watching a movie during a staff meeting about accountability whose chorus refrain was replete with smiling black guys and women exclaiming to their managers, "I own it!" (about their tasks, of course, not the company, silly!) I'm sure this guy saw the same movie right before he decided to cash in (after a careful explanation of goals and lost personal productivity).

From the Onion:

Project Manager Leaves Suicide PowerPoint Presentation

PORTLAND, OR—Project manager Ron Butler left behind a 48-slide PowerPoint presentation explaining his tragic decision to commit suicide, coworkers reported Tuesday.

According to Williams+Kennedy president Bradford Williams, finalgoodbye.ppt was "clear, concise, and persuasive."

"After everyone left the room, I sat down and went through Ron's final presentation in slide-sorter view," Williams said. "Man, I gotta tell you, it blew me away. That presentation really utilized the full multimedia capabilities of Microsoft's PowerPoint application."

"To Ron's credit, it was one helluva way to go out," human resources manager Gail Everts said. "Ron clearly spent a lot of time on that presentation. If the subject matter weren't so heavy, we'd probably use it to train his replacement."

"I felt some of the later transitions were weak," copywriter Gita Pruriyaran said. "The point of a transition is to maintain audience interest and lighten the mood. To me, the door-closing sound effects in Will & Funeral were repetitive and heavy-handed. But Ron's choice to end with that Hamlet quote and then fade to black was really powerful. There wasn't a dry eye in the room when Hector flipped off the projector and brought up the lights."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

In the hood? Meet Us at Pearl's

Tonight's a tiny little drinky-poo at the ever m-pyrical Pearl's.

6 p.m.

Going fast.

See you there,


Very Exciting New Book

Mikaela says:
I got a fabulous birthday surprise today at m-pyre's favorite coffeeshop, RB Winning. A guy was reading a NEW BOOK BY BRIAN GREEN, author of the amazing Elegant Universe, which I've tried to get all my nerd friends to read. I admit it! I'm a quantum physics junky. But I don't really get it. I get flashes, and when I do, dear god, it's beautiful! That's how I feel about calculus, too, by the way.

Hot off the February 2005 presses (that's still pretty hot for mainstream science books, come on!) is his Fabric of the Cosmos.

I'm dying... Sniff sniff. Gulp.

Even more incentive to finish this &*!@%^$& thesis.

This author is clear, concise, and makes reading about physics as easy as Dan Brown makes reading about art history in the DaVinci Code. I can't wait! Except I have to ...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Horoscope Time Again

We need all the direction we can get lately.

This from the very m-pyrical Brian Francis at Planet Waves Astrology (hey, man, don't knock it till it knocks you over).

Aries (March 20-April 19)
What's yours is yours, but we don't really have what we cannot share. Before long, that will become obvious enough, though what may be more difficult to accomplish is getting over the feeling that others h
ave more to offer than you, thus, they should be offering it to you. The issue is not really a material question; rather, at its essence, it's one of loyalty. And at the heart of that is loyalty to yourself. I suggest you take a good look at everyone to whom you pledge your devotion, and those who give theirs to you. Can you see any patterns, or can you take any messages from these situations? Is there anything out of balance, for example, your taking for granted certain people to whom you could show much more appreciation? If so, this is an easy situation to remedy; appreciation is free, but both giving and receiving it are a truly precious gift.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
The next six or eight weeks arrive with a series of turning points and moments of truth regarding where you are, and how this relates to who you are. As usual, the crux of the issue of where you call home has something vital to do with your relationships, and maintaining a sense of balance within them. The truly surprising discovery may be that you don't have to do anyth
ing, or go anywhere, for certain long-overdue changes to occur. But then, Uranus in Pisces does offer a kind of worldwide lure to adventure, which you would be wise to allow a voice, and take for a long run in a big field. At its essence, the astrology of early autumn is a reminder to keep your ideas about life loose, not take the opinions of others too seriously, and to make your mark on the world where it matters most -- in your own heart and soul.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
It may seem a paradox that in times when you have the most, you have the most to risk and the most to lose. But it's not a paradox at all; change would be meaningless if it did not involve a form of exchange, and some degree of risk. Progress is not just a matter of accumulation. At a certain point, one must offer oneself entirely to the process, though it helps considerably if one has a sense of self to bring to the experience. At the moment you have that if you have nothing else, which is extremely unlikely. Your life right now is like a partnership with existence in which you arrive with a portion of the assets, and life brings the rest. But until you ante up, you're likely to be left with an idea of who you are rather than a tangible, physical sense of the real thing. And every encounter with anyone is an opportunity to do so.

Alibi's Haiku Contest

Mikaela says:
This week's Alibi just hit the stands (but not the website yet, dammit), and it's well worth the time it takes to open and flip.

Coupla reasons:
  1. A nice summary and great pic of our boys, ABQ Poetry Slam Champions
  2. Winners of the Annual Haiku Contest (chock fulla puns! -- Haiku-ka-choo)

Some faves:

ABQ Haiku
Saint Goat-Head christens
Your holey bicycle tires,
The soles of your shoes.
-- Anastasia Andersen

Fish stick Haiku:
A fish stick is like
A British man: pasty white
With a crusty shell.
--Erin Barringer

Iraq War Haiku:
Perennial lies
Spiral from the highest branch.
Deciduous Bush.
--Sue McGilpin

Haiku Haiku (all reflective and shit):
Damn thee, vile haiku:
Syllabic ineptitude,
Poetry's cheap whore.
--Jamie Larkin

I know two poems,
One is "the road not taken,"
the other isn't.
-- Tony Santiago

Miscellaneous but Brilliant Haiku:
The first insect bike
race, my kitchen's Tour de Ants
Leading ... Ants Armstrong.
--Jarett Stotts (6th grader, Sandia Prep -- damn, at least they're teaching something right!)

My favorite all-time haiku by ABQ native poet Kenn Rodriguez was NOT included, but I'll add it here for your reading pleasure:

When I told you I
loved you, what I really
meant was blah blah blah.