Saturday, December 23, 2006

Reading now

Reading is possibly the best way to fill open time, next to listening to This American Life and baking (in conjunction). In the past two days I have made a pizza, chili, and oatmeal-coconut-raisin-chocolate chip cookies, listened to two holiday spectaculars from TAL, and learned one amazing fact: The true birthplace of Santa Claus is the same as Uncle Sam's - the oft-ridiculed, yet symbolically historically significant city of Troy, New York! Yes, what is now considered the crappiest third of the Tri-Cities (the others being Albany and Schenectady, no gems themselves, though also historically significant) was home to the meatpacking plant that stamped meat sent to troops in World War 2 with the emblem of Uncle Sam. Troy now has an Uncle Sam parade every summer. But lesser know is that Troy originally published "The Night Before Christmas" in its newspaper, birthing the myth of Santa Claus that Naomi worked so hard to combat as a precocious and moral Jewish preschooler in Utah.

But anyhow, reading. I've been reading a few books all at the same time, making it hard to finish any single one, and thus all my judgements are "in progress."

Reporting, by David Remnick

This is a collection of writings from The New Yorker, of which Remnick is the editor. He's amazing. His access to important people is really unsurpassed. The last piece I read had him chatting with the leader of Hamas right after Hamas came to power. Then he's chilling with Al Gore. Seeing Vaclav Havel leaving the palace in the Czech Republic. Talking to Solzhenitsyn, author of The Gulag Archipelago, in exile and then in Moscow. The thing about Remnick is that he manages to underscore how incredibly important everyone is in a way that doesn't emphasize the journalist himself. He's there, but he's not. It's awesome.

The force of the past, by Sandro Veronesi

It's generally hard to find interesting new books at some of the smaller libraries - most of the shelf space is devoted to chick-lit, the mystery/thriller/suspense/popular fiction genre, and large-print. But every so often, a book that was probably popular enough in its own country to make it into the Pikes Peak Library District appears on the shelves under a mask of intrigue and manages to stay distinct and aloof from Jackie Collins and Danielle Steel. The last one I read was Budapest by Chico Buarque, a Brazilian lyricist, which was nice yet confusing and at times tumultuous in style and plot. The force of the past is the same ways, in that the male narrator writes and acts in ways I cannot explain, which is something that goes for most European men (I generalize). For example, an unknown man offers him a ride in a stolen car, and the narrator goes through a long explanation of why he knows you can never trust a man who wears short sleeves under his jacket. Nonetheless, he gets into the car. At the beginning of the next chapter: "And as for the reason, let's put it like this: because I'm full of shit." He has just given away his entire prize money from winning an award for children's books to a woman who was sitting in the first row and said her son had cancer. These unpredictable and irrational plot twists make for beautiful reflection, but are frustrating as a reader. I feel like I'm being punished when someone I sympathize with does such stupid things. It reminds me of some writerly advice I was given: Stick your character in a tree, and then throw rocks at him. Ouch.

Oh The Glory of It All, by Sean Wilsey

I recognized the cover of this book as winning a design award from Print magazine. It's leaves exploding from the type of the title, very beautiful. But not one to judge a book exclusively by its cover, I read the introduction and was enraptured. It's Wilsey's memoir, and he was born into San Francisco society, but when his parents divorce his life is one long sob story, because his parents don't love him anymore. Something like that. Interesting things happen, but right now I'm kind of trudging through, because right now I'm in the stoner period, which tends to drag. I feel like he must have rewritten the intro over and over again and then pooped out on the third edit of the rest.

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Had I read these when I was a child, I don't know if I would have liked them. They're scary and full of bad endings, and premonitions about these bad endings that amount to beating a child over the head with foreshadowing. I don't think I would have been ready for literary bruisings at a tender age. But now, I love them. They are smart, and funny, and I like that kids less delicate than me love them. Also, they are the perfect length to read if you are bored of Self-destructive magazines at the gym. Unlike those overblown Harry Potter books. I recommend you wait for the movie on those. You can also see a movie version of this, which the back of the book recommends. "And even children know that books are more depressing than movies."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Snow is made by tiny white demons who only want to bring you down

I was supposed to fly home today. Unfortunately today God decided to ruin Christmas, which is ironic.

I had planned to be brave and truck it up to Denver, because I have a healthy car and a good amount of sense about driving in the snow. But first I had to drive to the office out east of Academy to drop off some papers and some keys I accidentally stole. Everyone for the day program was stranded, and the guy with austism was going crazy. "Hello, Lindsay, how are you, Lindsay?" "I'm good," I say, yelling "fuck you" in my head to the copier who has some type of obnoxious misfeed I can't wait for. "Hello, Lindsay, how are you, Lindsay?" he says again. "You already asked me that," I say. Usually after this pattern is repeated he says, "Okay, I'll stop" and saunters quickly away to ask someone else, but today he just kept going. "Does Jamie like it when I talk to her? Does Jamie like it when I touch her?" Jamie can't stand him and he knows it. "Did you see the whale on my sweater? Did you see the sea turtle on my sweater?" Yes. I like his sweater that says, "Gotta Regatta."

I rushed out of there but as I was hurriedly brushing off my car I hit my nail on the scraper, breaking it halfway down and making my finger bleed. It sucked. I got it wrapped up and continued determinedly on. I was a little Subby that could.

It took about 20 minutes to even get down to I-25, and once I was on it, I thought, "This isn't too bad! I can do this!" That was, until I realized that every so often a giant cloud of white would enfold my car, obscuring everything but the few feet of road in front of me. My windshield wipers were icing up constantly.

I managed to get off at the exit for Academy, which would normally be about 20 minutes from home, and pulled into the first thing I saw, the Best Western. I called my dad and told him I couldn't make it. He told me my flight was canceled. I went into the hotel expecting a small lobby and was instead met with some kind of huge garden-like atrium with big green canvas umbrellas suspended from the high ceiling. Water features were abound, and an indoor pool right there, in the lobby. I realized the effect they were going for was "outside." Except, if outside looked like this, I wouldn't be here. There were also huge poinsettias perched on top of the fountain with gold angels hovering above them, also with poinsettias in their hands. Deer rested on some kind of cotton snow covered bridge on the other mini-pool. And, I just saw this, there is a Christmas tree made of stuffed animals above the front desk. Plus, unsettling Christmas songs have been playing all day. Christmas songs are making me unhappy. They are musically sneering at me.

Through many calls to Southwest, I am now scheduled to go to Albany on December 25. I have never had a Christmas where I haven't woken up in my childhood bed, and it's something I'm oddly sentimental about. It just doesn't feel right. If I'm not in New York, Christmas is leaving me behind.

You know who's orchestrating the War on Christmas? God, with the weather in his pocket. Maybe I'll go up to the emergency shelter up at New Life and declare my Truth. But they might have given me a room here because an eighteen-wheeler is stuck behind my car and a snowdrift is in front of me. I've been here for about 6 hours now, and the hotel is turning into an unexpectedly thriving economy. The line has been out the door for the last three hours and people are actually frequenting the wierd smelling restaraunt that is shingled to look like it's "outside."

And music, I do not agree that everything's okay if we just let it snow or whatever. Today I welcome global warming.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Just read it

Right here.

...Me, I prefer to think as little as possible and stay peppy! Peppy and active! If something is bothering me, I think of something else! If someone tells me some bad news? I ignore it! Like, I knew this one guy, very Optimistic, who was being eaten by a shark and did not even scream but just kept shouting, “It’s all for the best!” Now, that was an Optimist! In the end, he was just as dead, but he hadn’t brought everybody else down! What a great guy! I really miss him! No, I don’t! It’s all good!

It's all for the best! I love George Saunders. If he was here right now, he would have a nice beard and I would hug him.

The woman I work with today cried for about 20 minutes because I wouldn't give her a hug. She wants to change the "hug policy." I work at a company with a policy on hugs. I wonder if Saunders has a personal policy.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

An update

With all this new "blogger beta" stuff, it took me about twenty minutes to get into the blog. I feel like an old man walking into an old room, now converted into some hip faux-European gathering place - all these people talking about how great it is, some young man on a soapbox about developer relations, so much confusion, and in the meantime I've pissed myself three times. By pissing I mean accidentally created three new accounts so I wasn't able to find good ole Crap in a Bucket. And meanwhile I think I forgot basic HTML. Gotta clear out the cobwebs, I've been working with disabled people for too long.

Speaking of disabled people, my epic story about developmental disabilities finally aired on KRCC last night. It was 17 minutes long, which apparently is in second place for record length at Western Skies, and will probably retain the title forever as the format is switching over to delicious morning news bites. Like those little mini-muffins you can buy in bags, which make you feel like you are a giant, because you can fit so many muffins into your mouth at once. Look at you go. Anyhow, I've gotten some positive feedback from sources and others about it, and hopefully it will bring an end to the word "retard" once and for all. Kidding.

Anyhow, it will most likely be available for download tomorrow on the website. It's about the relative failure of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day in Colorado Springs and the story of a man who is surprisingly honest and articulate about his disabilities and his life.

While I'm at the self promotion I might as well point you here and here for some scripts I've written for Earth and Sky.

It's no secret that I'm no science whiz, barely filling my science requirements with two pass/fail geology classes and then making absolute sure at the registar's that I was not required to do a third after the requirements changed. But reporting on science is actually pretty awesome. I usually get an article on some interesting research or new development, take a few days to set up an interview via email, and then record about a ten minute talk off my home phone. I import the interview into GarageBand and write the script from there, editing the most interesting clips and then email them to Deborah Byrd. She's very nice. Her voice is like the hug of science.

It's through research for Earth and Sky I found out that biofuels may not be so awesome after all. This article says that the negative ecological effects of producing ethanol and biodiesel far outweigh the positive emissions. I haven't seen or heard this story hit the mainstream news yet, but it seems that the rainforest and other ecological treasures that green-minded people love to save (aside: is it just me, or did Save The Rainforest really hit its best stride when I was in second grade?) is being clear-cut to plant palm oils used for biofuels. Also, producing corn really sucks for the ground soil and biodiesel is not poised at this moment to make any significant dent in our dependency on gas. Seems like the green movement is really biting itself in the ass on this one. The question is, how long will it be before we deal with the fact that we have no adequate solution? Biofuel might be the next Iraq.

Again, kidding.