Saturday, February 23, 2008

My Dog Scout.

A Post in Pictures:

This is Scout.

Scout Likes Walks...

A Lot!

He also Likes Clothes. (No, really.)

Clothes are Great for Lots of Things...


Hiding In,

And Sleeping In.

Scout Loves Sleeping...

And Sleeping...

And Sleeping.

Scout Likes Lots of Things.


Chasing Squirrels.

Dressing Up for Halloween...
(He was a bat.)

and Just for Fun.

Also, He Loves His Window.

Which is Where He is Right Now.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Currently Fancying...

Okkervil River. I know I'm a little slow on the uptake (their album The Stage Names came out on August 7th [my birthday!] and it's their 4th one), but what can you do?

I love the song "Our Life is Not a Movie Or Maybe." I also enjoy the video quite a bit. Maybe it's because of my nerdy obsession with performance, and the ways in which we are all always performing, and the fact that most people think they're probably being filmed most of the time--like celebrity is always just a moment away. Anyway, give it a listen/view and tell me what you think:


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Heathcliff! Let Me In-a-Your Window...

So there's this fantastic group that I heard on NPR (yeah, yeah), and that Patrick then heard on the Anthropologie soundtrack and came home all in a tizzy about. They are The Puppini Sisters, and they are delightful.

The Puppini Sisters formed after Marcella Puppini watched Les Triplettes de Belleville, an animated film whose primary characters include, among others, a group of women that sing tight, 40s-style harmonies, à la The Andrews Sisters. So, in the spirit of cross-cultural collaboration, this nice Italian girl found herself a couple of cute Brits and they started singing terrific cover songs, taking hits from the 70s, 80s and 90s and redoing them in what they call "tight, crunchy harmonies." They also do some older standards such as "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," but their covers of songs from later eras are the best. Patrick's favorite is a Big Band "Heart of Glass," originally done by Blondie. You can find it here: Heart of Glass. They also do a wicked rendition of I Will Survive.

Although each of those songs has remarkable and undeniable merits, my favorite is their cover of Kate Bush's 1992 stunner, "Wuthering Heights." Bush's song is, of course, based on the gothic romance of the same name, and the music and vocals are apropos of such bizarrely spooky material. In fact, the video for the song leaves you wondering if you are witnessing a woman truly possessed by wily, windy demons or whether you, the listener, are on the receiving end of an elaborate hoax. Seriously, watch it. It's like nothing you've ever seen before.

I know, right? Can you believe it? What the eff is she doing, swirling around on those wily, windy moors, like a heather-hopping sprite beclothed in fire? It is just so strange. I mean, is she serious? Who knows, but I bet that's what Chris Clark looked like in his modern dance class, don't you?

Anyway, I would say that regardless of the absurdity of Kate Bush I love this song, but I think my undying devotion to the song is actually because of the havoc it plays with my sense of realism. I once did my best impression of the song (complete with wavering falsetto and unearthly, come-hither eyes) for Katie and Patrick, two of the best singers I know. For those of you who know how much it takes to get me to sing, this ought to explain just how much I adore this song.

So, back to the Puppini Sisters: they do a cover of this song wherein they pep it up and lose all the gothic eeriness, imbuing it instead with a shiny brightness. It's like the sisters went into Kate Bush's cobwebbed old mansion of a mind, opened all the curtains, dusted the furniture, mopped the floors, put some flowers out, and invited Cathy's ghost in for a nice cuppa tea and to dish about that nasty yet lovable Heathcliff from down the lane. I'm crazy about both versions, because they are each so distinctive, and each is somehow wonderfully archaic and contemporary at the same time. So without further ado, enjoy The Puppini Sisters singing Wuthering Heights. I so hope you like it as much as I do.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

je t'aime

'Tis Valentine's Day! So, c'mon, give us a kiss and celebrate!

On this lovely Valentine's holiday, the fifth I've spent with my one & only, my public declaration of love for him is delivered in an exquisite sonnet by Pablo Neruda:

Soneto XXV

Before I loved you, Love, nothing was my own;
I wavered through the streets, among objects:
nothing mattered or had a name:
the world was made of air, which waited.

I knew rooms full of ashes,
tunnels where the moon lived,
rough warehouses that growled Get lost,
questions that insisted in the sand.

Everything was empty, dead, mute,
fallen, abandoned, and decayed:
inconceivably alien, it all

belonged to someone else-to no one:
till your beauty and your poverty
filled the autumn plentiful with gifts.

~ cien sonetos de amor

I love this poem, and though before him I didn't feel that my life was incomplete without Patrick, reflection has made me wiser and highlighted the rooms that were full of ashes and that he has since filled with brightness and joy. He also makes me nicer.

Incidentally, I don't think Valentine's love is limited to just significant others. So, to you, gentle readers, I offer cupid-laced wishes as well. Here's hoping that all your Valentine's fantasies are made realities, and all your Valentine's advances are met in kind.


Monday, February 11, 2008

I miss cars.

Let me tell you why we are better then you. We don't have a car. No Car. Nothing. We do not have a car payment. We do not pay for gas. (Not even the 'good ol' days gas' that cost
$1.12 a gallon.) We do not pay for insurace, and the two accidents my wife got in the year we lived in Lindon are moving their way off her record without any hope of new ones. Life without a car is sweet, if you can get it. Most of you can't. (Save Justin and Sarah, you know.)

Most of the time we are real proud of the fact. Sure, it puts you tramping through the most unforgiving winters the heavens can muster, and sure, you have to develop deep and meaningful relationships based purely on the other couple's ability to take you to Ikea (sorry Balsers, but you knew). But for all that we loose, we gain, and then some. Except...

This is probably my favorite car I've ever had, and I have loved the cars I've had. (Incidentally this is not the actual car but mine looked just like it... I don't know who is in this car.) This beast got, like, 4 miles to the gallon and cost 35 bucks to fill up and I was filling up in the year 2000, so that was a lot. But I loved it and it was mine.

My Father also loves cars. In my adolescence he was driving this...

He was up at 6:30 in the morning washing this car in the garage in the dead of winter. I loved this car. In this car was the first (and only) accident I ever got in...with another car. (I've hit curbs and garbage cans causing major damage to my vehicles but only once had an accident with another car.) Some very very old man coming out of Sears on Freedom Blvd. ran in to me and Jenny Lloyd and Allison Lowery (whom we had illegally stuffed into the back where there was no seat). That was a bad day. My father (who is perfect) said that it could have happened to anyone, I just happened to be the one driving at the time. (He was right, by the way; that very very old man was nothing less then a hazard on the roads at night.)

And so, for my 17th Birthday, despite monumental financial stress, my Dad got me this car...

only mine had a black bra, and so because it looked like a space shuttle I name him Rocket, my first car. It was not a fancy car; point of fact, it had zero interior upholstery, so when you rolled down the windows you could see the glass moving into the frame of the door. Also, the driver's seat would unexpectedly recline on its own, so we stuck a broom that reached from the back of the car and stuck pointedly into the drivers back making it feel like the driver was a spoiled princess sleeping on a mattress covered pea (and by pea I mean sharp stick. It never occurred to us at the time, but had I been rear ended I most certainly would have been kabobbed by this broom). This was aided in the fact that the car had no back seat, which aided the fact that the battery, located where the back seat should be, often came unattached or, in some extreme cases, caught fire. Either way, I had to pull over and operate. Despite its heavy smell of petrol, I loved this car. I remember driving to school that January 9th, 1996 and Joanie Pead was disgusted that I got anything I wanted--which we all know, just under true and everlasting love, envy is the most desired emotion by the high school student. Thanks, Dad.

I have had other less cool cars... Lindsay once wrecked this...
(My most boring but dependable car (after the Wagoneer I wanted a car that would start every time you turned the key).) And so we went across the street and traded the wrecked car in for these two cars...

How do you get two cars for one busted up car? You just can alright, don't judge us. And I did love those cars too. (Except I made Lindsay drive the Hyundai cause, come on! I feakin' loved that Cruiser. And don't worry, it's still in the family.)

And so, when you're filling up your Civics for what it used to cost to fill up my Wagoneer, and your thoughts remain steeped in envy for those of us who pay $2 to ride the subway to anywhere we need to get, remember that four-wheeled friend is part of your family and he's all yours, and no homeless man has ever relieved himself in the back corner of your car (to your knowledge). You never have to wait for you car to show up just to take you to six wrong places on the way to the one right one. He keeps your kids safe when you have to run in for a quick second on that hot summer day. And mostly, the hole in your heart is filled, even if disappointedly, whereas the holes in my heart remain on E.

And that is why You are better then Us.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

What I Learned on the Radio; Or, Did Jules Verne Dream of the Computer?

**Nerd Alert**
I listen to NPR. All the time. The "Most Emailed Stories" podcast is my favorite, but I have also been known to listen to "All Songs Considered," and the book review and pop culture podcasts. But "Most Emailed Stories" is definitely the best. What I enjoy the most about it is the complete randomness of the stories -- since it's the most popular items of the day as determined by NPR listeners, it's pretty much a nerderific grab bag. For example, yesterday's podcast included the following:

*A 40 year-old woman and her humorous essay about how she romanticized marriage (she's single), but ultimately decided that marriage is really just a business;

*A report detailing how Americans are less in touch with nature, visit fewer national parks, and do less camping and fishing; this report ended with a claim that we are moving into a "mediated relationship with nature";

*The summary of a study which has just come out and says that diabetics can actually die from moderating their blood sugar too well;

*An interview with a new author who just wrote a novel about a 12-1/2 year-old runaway lost in Las Vegas;

*A conversation about whether diesel engines have progressed to the point that they are more environmentally conscious than regular gasoline engines;


*An explanation of the SteamPunk movement.

SteamPunk is both a type of speculative fiction and a collection of crazy people (PuppetGuy would have fit right in) who are fully in love with technology, but are decidedly not seduced by the sleek, shiny, mass-produced appeal of most technology, i.e.:

Instead of giving into the mass appeal of the new, SteamPunkers revere the clunky handmade nature of products from the steam age, and so "downdate" their goodies to make them look like they could have emerged from some Jules Vernian imagining of the technologized future, i.e.:

Well, that's all. Just...I think that's remarkable. Don't you?* It's like reverse science fiction made real.

* Don't get me wrong. I still desperately desire a MacBook Air. Just in case you were going to get me one.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Moral Dilemma.

We we have an issue, that instead of talking it through and studying it out in our minds to come to a rational and moral conclusion, we are making you decide.

Here's the deal: (and we really need you moralists to come out of the woodwork, 'cause there are not a lot of moral people who read this blog.)
For Lindsay's family's Christmas present we ordered them a book (hardcover) of our pictures from all our travels in the past few years. (It was a big hit and turned out great.) After ordering, Lindsay got a conformation e-mail to let her know that they would be sending the book in a few weeks. Well, we had known that it would take that long and so we had specified that we needed it shipped to Utah (Connie's house). After reading the e-mail, Lindsay noticed that they were shipping it to our Billing Address (in Hoboken), so she emailed and called and a very nice man told her that he could change the address and would ship the book to Utah (Connie's house). And he did. We got the book, we gave the book, they loved the book. It was all good.

Our dilemma: We came home from Utah (Connie's house), and there on our doorstep was another copy of the book (the first one ordered and sent to the wrong address). So... to send it back would be a waste, as it is printed pictures of us, but to keep it would be wrong? Yes? No? After they fixed the order, they refunded the cost of the first book (now in our possession). So, now what? Just tell us what to do and then we'll do that. If you want to post anonymously so we don't know that you don't have any morals, then do; or, if you're Chris Clark and it's well known--well, you can just post next to your picture.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Poem.


by: David Berman

Walking through a field with my little brother Seth

I pointed to a place where kids had made angels in the snow.
For some reason, I told him that a troop of angels
had been shot and dissolved when they hit the ground.

He asked who had shot them and I said a farmer.

Then we were on the roof of the lake.
The ice looked like a photograph of water.

Why he asked. Why did he shoot them.

I didn't know where I was going with this.

They were on his property, I said.

When it's snowing, the outdoors seem like a room.

Today I traded hellos with my neighbor.
Our voices hung close in the new acoustics.
A room with the walls blasted to shreds and falling.

We returned to our shoveling, working side by side in silence.

But why were they on his property, he asked.