Wednesday, December 11, 2013


First, I should mention that I haven't seen any of the following yet, and my guess is some of them will throw this whole ordered list out of whack:

Inside Llewyn Davis
The Wolf of Wall Street
American Hustle
Computer Chess
Much Ado About Nothing
Before Midnight
Pain and Gain
Blue Is the Warmest Color
12 Years a Slave
The Motel Life
and practically anything foreign. :(

Not that I had a ton of credibility to start with.

OK. Moving on!

6. Sightseers
Ben Wheatley directed Kill List, which means I will watch any and every movie he makes from now on. Sightseers is crazy and hilarious and brutal and very disturbing -- like all love stories, I guess. It glorifies the small and shabby, and repays the mildest of insults with explosions of way-disproportionate violence. You will never again consider littering in a national park in Yorkshire, believe me. Great stuff.

7. Spring Breakers
I keep trying and failing to write something coherent about the way pop culture today packages its wealthy/greedy/money-focused characters, as opposed to the way it did in say the mid-'80s. Maybe something about the crappy economy makes wanting lots of nice things more forgivable. When I was a kid it was self-evident that a lust for wealth meant you were a villain - "greed is good" was clearly bad. (Ugh. Am I accidentally getting nostalgic for hardcore capitalism? Great.) Anyway. This is no longer taken for granted. In terms of storytelling, it's no longer the case that a naked desire to have lots of things signifies a lack of soul. Now greedy types are just empty, listless kids, taking things because it's easy and they're slightly bored. (I didn't see The Bling Ring, either. Oops.) All in all I find it depressing but that's probably just a personal bias.

Anyway -- I did not expect to like this movie and I doubt I've sold it to anyone based on the above nonsense. ("No seriously, it totally clarified how the shifting economic climate and our habitual abuse of credit for instant gratification has complicated basic narrative structure, morally speaking! You'll love it!") ("Plus guns! and bikinis!") But it really surprised me. It turned out to be hilarious and terrifying and multi-layered, not to mention just weird as all get-out, and it cast a gloomy, heartbreaking light on some of those awful, presumably soulless, grasping kids.

Also James Franco's teeth, I mean sweet jesus, how can you not love that. So shiny!

I'm not picking #s 8, 9 and 10 because I can't decide, and it doesn't matter. Ask me next week and my whole list will be different anyhow. Women are fickle. Here's a bunch of other stuff I saw:

The World's End - Fun and sad. Mostly fun. Makes a compelling argument that the losers will be winners after the apocalypse. Extra points for the Wild Angels reference. Disturbingly anti-beer, though. (As a corrective, every time you spot a Ben Wheatley crossover: drink.)

Enough Said - Really lovely. Can't decide if it made me slightly encouraged on the topic of dating or dead-certain that I never want to date again. ("Date" - who even does that?)

The Visitor - What do we say about this one...I'll just -- well, here:

THE VISITOR [Trailer] - Now In Theaters from Drafthouse Films on Vimeo.

I mean, Sam Peckinpah! Come on!

Side Effects
If we're dividing Soderbergh's work into Hot and Cold (Out of Sight = Hot; Haywire = Cold), this one is decidedly the latter. I admired it without really liking it. Does that make sense?

Behind the Candelabra - Soderbergh again. I saw this very late at night, and need to rewatch it, but I can tell you the ghoulish physical transformations alone are astounding. All the men look like Barbies. (This is by far the closest Matt Damon has come to resembling himself as he appeared in Team America: World Police.) But you can see everyone's ragged hearts right below the horrorshow surface. It might be campy in certain aspects but it's very far from silly.

The Great Gatsby
I guess nobody else liked this. It totally worked on me, though. Saw it with my mom. We swooned.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters - Got talked into this one by a guy after a couple of drinks. Good dumb fun. The diabetes thing was funny.

Welcome to the Punch - see above (but no diabetes).

To the Wonder
Yes yes, way too much twirling. But come on: who else is asking the kinds of questions Terrence Malick asks in movies? It's no Tree of Life, but what is?

Warm Bodies - would've been 90 billion times better without that zombie-learns-to-drive scene. Very sweet, though.

Byzantium - Gemma Arterton's boobs are amazing! OMG. There's one hilarious scene in which, after having tried really hard to establish this as a feminist empowered-vampire thing, the filmmakers kick back and watch Gemma luxuriate in a shower of fake blood against a cliff, and suddenly it's an ad for Axe body spray. Loved it! Also featuring the kid who played Banshee in X-Men; Sickboy/Sherlock; and Saoirse Ronan.

Pacific Rim - Tried to get into it but could not, for some reason. Too big? Don't like robots? I dunno.

Also caught a couple of ... I guess we call them miniseries. I don't watch much TV because I lack self-control, so I'll start on something just to check it out and then sort of "come to" several days later, very hungry, my life in tatters around me -- but these are very short:

Top of the Lake - dark and ultra-creepy Jane Campion crime thriller. Faramir!

The Fall - if Gillian Anderson's face in the mirror in the first minute or so doesn't gut you, then you are probably not female and/or aging. The whole thing's really good, though; she plays a totally scary, unapologetic (most likely sociopathic) hard-ass, and it's great.

Sherlock - the BBC one, starring my boyfriend, Martin Freeman. I have one episode left to watch and really hope they're making more.

SO anyway. Go watch Upstream Color already.

Sunday, December 08, 2013


This year's top-10 list will be super-easy to do, because I've only seen about 17 movies that came out in 2013. (Hey, I've been busy.) Pretty sure I caught most of the good ones, though. So here we go, more or less in order: the Greatest Movies of 2013 According to Me, So Far.

I'm only putting the top five here for now, because it turns out I'm blabbing on and on about some of them, so we'll probably all need a break halfway through. Watch this space for movies 5 though 10, plus bonus items!

1. Upstream Color

I've never understood precisely how people get into relationships. I know they meet; I've seen it happen. And then later at some point they are a couple. But what goes on in between is completely obscure to me. The mechanism offered in Shane Carruth's second feature -- in which, to put it simply, two people are drawn together because they've both had a weird flower-eating-grub-based hypnotism/brainwashing experience that resulted in their animating spirits being relocated (via worm) into two pigs on a farm -- seems as likely as any other, really.

"I hate even the idea of a synopsis," Carruth told Dennis Lim in a NYT interview awhile back. He's right to, of course. The story operates on an emotional logic that squirms and blurs when examined closely but feels exactly right, entirely reasonable and lovely and poetic, if you just go with it. When Upstream Color came out everyone said it was "cerebral," but although it's very strange and often startling, and contains Big Ideas, it's not confusing or difficult. And on top of being supersmart it's also terrifying, gross, funny, and swooningly romantic.

It's partly about how people react to having their strings pulled by unseen hands with mysterious agendas. Also partly about identity: once together, the lovers are confused about the weird forces that move them (internal? external? we sort of know, but they don't), and they bicker about whose memories belong to whom, fighting for possession of bits and pieces of character, assigning ownership to certain traits, making distinctions and reserving little territories even as they merge their lives. How much of you is you? Who are you when you adjust yourself to someone else? (Does being inspired by another person add to and change you, or simply enhance what was already there?) None of this is even directly addressed in the movie, but a story like this tends to provoke a long, crooked line of questions afterward.

Really you just have to see it. But if you do, I command you to watch it with your full attention, not halfheartedly while thinking of something else or, like, doing the laundry. It demands and rewards total absorption.

(Did you guys see Primer? At the moment they are both available on Netflix. Recommended!)

It's so good. Here's the trailer:

2. The Grandmaster
The combination of Tony Leung and Wong Kar-Wai leads always to perfection. I've gone on and on about one or both of these guys in this glob enough already so I'll refrain for now, but I urge anybody interested in The Grandmaster or in WKW generally to read David Bordwell's essay. Thorough (long), but well worth the time. It walks you through the which-version-am-I-watching question nicely, too, if you're into that.

The US-market trailer is godawful, so here:

3. Frances Ha
Probably a movie that I shouldn't be quite so able to relate to at age 42, but whatever. It's great. I love Noah Baumbach. I love the soundtrack. I love Frances. She's a little lost puppy in a china shop, an utter disaster in every situation, but she's trying so hard to figure out what to do. I mean, it isn't easy, right? You imagine it'll get easier later but it never does. (Sidenote: this movie does what I think that Sheila Heti book wanted to do but with the advantages of craft and care and rigor.) And the whole thing just looks beautiful. Actually I think I'll watch it again right now.

4. Only God Forgives
Did you like Drive? This is weirder! How about Valhalla Rising? That is more like it.

Maybe I'll just go with a general "Um, not for everyone, but WHOA," and leave it at that.

5. All Is Lost
Never go yachting alone.

Stay tuned for deep thoughts on the other five movies I saw this year! : )

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Monday, October 07, 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

track day report

Been pondering the general shortage of time lately -- winter coming, birthdays, looming mortality etc. As we know, I probably won't die of mad cow disease, or bird flu, or even a motorcycle accident, but rather from sitting in chairs. The modern, slow-motion violence of just having a sedentary day job year after year -- odds are, that's what'll do me in.

You'd think this understanding, with all its accompanying despair and/or calmness of mind (depending on the day of the week), would allow me to throw myself headlong into dangerous pursuits. Occasionally it does. But usually, no. I am still a chicken, pretty often. Example: this weekend, I hitched a ride up to Shelton, Wash., to do a track day with a bunch of fellow SFRCers at the Ridge. (The Ridge is the track about which famed Isle of Man champ Dave Roper said: "maybe my favorite race track in the universe.") We left work early Friday and drove up that afternoon in Travis's new old truck.

Three bikes in back, with room for a mini or two!

I was stomach-ache nervous starting about Wednesday. Woke up Friday morning before the alarm went off, packed up, headed to the office, failed to concentrate at all on the job, and just basically performed deep breathing exercises until it was time to leave.

The drive was adventuresome enough to distract me from impending doom. After I got us lost a couple of times (no smartphone can help you if you can't tell left from right), we found our way to the track and set up camp in the parking lot. (Sounds grim but it was actually very comfortable - thank you, REI sleeping pad!) At this point I reverted back to panic because when you pull into the parking lot, what you see is this. Which looks terrifying from below, mainly because it is bloody terrifying.

But once we unloaded the bikes and set up camp, and the other guys arrived, I relaxed. Patrick's been racing and winning trophies practically every weekend all summer, and he mentioned how much he was looking forward to a fun, relaxing track day where you could hang out and ride with your friends and not get stressed out about trying to go full-blast, so I decided to aim for that stance. Also, I had some beer.

That worked until morning.

When I woke up the whole parking lot and surrounding area was socked in under a pea-soup fog. (But not green, though. Just thick like that. You could barely see!) After the rider's meeting, where they reminded us what the various flags meant (adding that it wouldn't matter because the flags would be invisible through the fog), those of us new to the track hopped into a trailer and were driven around for a one-lap tour, narrated by an ace rider with a charming Canadian accent. He kept saying stuff like "I sure wish we could see that cone there because that's where you'll want to tip in to this corner." From the back of the trailer, we could not see at all -- but we knew there were many hilly bits, because we kept all falling into each other. The narrating Canadian said, "If this fog doesn't burn off before your first session, I'd recommend skipping it, because this track with zero visibility is....ooof." So that was super comforting to hear.

Then it was time for our first classroom session. The only thing I remember from this is that the instructor advised us to take very deep breaths if nervous. I tried to focus on how attractive he was, and on my breathing, rather than all the trembling and various regrets about how little I'd had time to accomplish in my (soon to be) sadly abbreviated life. It kind of worked.

We left the classroom, got on our bikes, and lined up behind instructors for the first session. Within 30 seconds it was clear I would be totally blind the whole time. The fog congregated on my visor, and instead of just peering through it like a sensible person I tried to wipe it off with a glove, which made a big opaque smear across my field of vision. Visor up! OK. What was that he'd said about breathing? Oh right -- we should try to. Yes. OK. Wait, where did everyone go? Shit -- I'm holding up the entire operation. Zoom, catch up. Eeek, slow down! Repeat for 20 minutes. Breathe twice. End session 1.

After that the fog lifted and everything was much better.

A few illustrations:

Here's me looking basically just annoyed to be there. And another similar one.

Later in the day, one of PSSR's several awesome instructors followed me around to observe and coach. This was pretty fun and extremely helpful -- although the only time I actually felt comfortable on the track was when I followed one of them. The track has 16 turns, which is a lot to memorize in a day, and some of the lines are really weird -- but they make perfect sense when someone leads you through them. Here's a handy map:


Turns 13 and 14 are the ones that look scary from the parking lot, but in fact 15 and 16 worried me more, because passing (or, in my case, being passed) right there is super-hairball: you have to go pretty much all the way across the width of the track, far right to far left and back to far right, while trying to build speed for the front straight, all of which potentially cuts off anyone trying to get around you, so - kablammo, maybe? Luckily I couldn't see behind me ever. Who knows what went on back there.'s Patrick demonstrating how this sort of thing ought to be done.

Getting back to my pondering of mortality and whatnot, here is the complete list of injuries accumulated at the track day:

1. Stung by wasp, crook of elbow, left arm (the stinger is still in there and it really hurts!)
2. Pinkie finger pinched during pre-coffee tent-disassembly mishap (all better now)
3. Heart-attack diet, exclusively
4. Touch more sun than is probably healthy

That's it. (Now don't I feel silly.)

Anyway, I had a blast (as soon as I could see) and somehow my back tire got melty all the way to the edge, even though I'm pretty sure I was only going about 35mph the whole time. Look at it!

No chicken strips!

In perhaps the weekend's most humbling development, several people noticed (but politely did not mention, until I brought it up) that my bike is actually somehow dirtier than Patrick's. I don't know how this happened, and at first I wasn't sure whether to feel incredibly guilty about it or kind of proud. But the reactions of others led me to believe it was not something to be proud of, so today I washed the bike. It looks much better and might have dropped five or 10 pounds.

After the track day, Travis and Courtney and I continued on to the Isle of Vashon TT -- an enormous vintage-bike rally thing basically designed for strolling along gazing at cool and rare motorcycles, aka mantiquing, and a bit of riding around the beautiful island. We saw a lot of amazing bikes I won't even attempt to describe because I'll probably get them wrong. Travis competed in the field games and beat the old dudes in most categories (except the slow-bike race, which is fine because there's no glory in being slower than a dude on a harley anyway, even on purpose).

(Photo by Courtney)

All in all not a bad weekend.

Friday, July 05, 2013


Via DK Holm, from a book I am suddenly pretty excited to read:
"Just living," said Barbara as we lay in bed that night, "just rotten old living, I've always hated that, it makes me want to puke. Kids, school, smells, Dad working for the council, regular meals, telly in the evening—who needs it? Where's your time for living gone? Well, it's gone, but by the time you realize it you're nothing but a worn-out knitting and washing machine. Then when it's too late and you're fifty and you've got the menopause, you take off your woolly one night and see there's fuck-all left of you except a pair of flabby old tits that no one wants to know about and bulges all over. Even your kids don't want to know you by then; they're grown up, swinging, they've got their own thing going. As for Dad, he's ogling the teenage slag down at the boozer, drinking up, getting all ready to make a scene when he comes in because he feels cheated—of course he feels cheated, the silly old bastard."

--Derek Raymond, He Died with His Eyes Open

Thursday, July 04, 2013

the good, the bad, the weird

Last weekend was the annual SFRC Goldrush ride, in which 30-40-odd (very odd) souls ride the best roads in the state to cause drunken mischief in a demi-ghost town called Sumpter in eastern Oregon.

The roads really are the main draw, but once you get to town, things get weird. We set up camp this year in someone's field more or less behind the Elkhorn Saloon, which is in (well, is) the center of town. (No restrooms at the campsite, but there was an antique Tri-Met bus parked there for some reason, with a tarp over it and the windows taped over (not creepy at all) so I just peed behind that.) Typically, you roll into town hot and dirty anywhere between 5 and 7pm on Saturday night, and Alpha Mike hands you his flask to sip, and then you set up your tent and go to the Elkhorn for a cool beverage. Alpha Mike is always the first person I see on arrival, for some reason. Wouldn't have it any other way. 

The Elkhorn is an old-fashioned saloon in that it demands to be courted. Having your way with it is not easy. The Elkhorn will not simply serve you. Time moves at its own pace inside, and it may feel like days before you get that beer you ordered. (Did you order it, actually? Can you even remember? When was that?) There are 42 kinds of burgers on the menu, each more elusive than the last. There's even a Ghost Burger. (Invisible.) 

The Elkhorn is mad with power. Dinner ends at 6.45pm. What are you going to do about it? Nothing. Drink your beer. Shut your mouth. You're in Sumpter. Three people in a row just bought a round for the house.

Eventually you stagger up the hill to where the current SFRC president (shown above in magical power hat) has a cabin. This is the site of the Isle of Stan, in which the younger, harder-headed fellows take spins around a makeshift dirt track in total darkness on a minibike. It's pretty fun (to watch). On my way up there from the bar, Alpha Mike gave me his knife - or more precisely (I later learned), a knife he'd stolen earlier in the evening from some toothless local in order to cut the sleeves off his t-shirt - for protection (as I am a lady and all). I still have the knife and will treasure it always. 

I'd just arrived and been handed a beer when my buddy Hole had a sudden vision from a TV commercial, one of the ones where they smash a stack of styrofoam coolers via bodyslam, or something (?). Unable to communicate this vision in words, he picked me up and threw me at the coolers (we're pretty close to the same size). Light wrestling ensued. We were all holding giant glass bottles of beer this whole time, which in hindsight seems like a terrible idea, but I'm proud to say I did not spill any beer during the whole 20 minutes or so that I was being used as a tool to smash a pair of coolers into bits. (Eventually the heroic John Graeter swooped in and rescued my beer so I could use both hands, which was very helpful.) 

The minibike racing continued throughout. Around midnight it stopped running and there was a break for emergency carb repair, then more racing. At some point there were four people on the bike (briefly). Then it was back to the Elkhorn for a while, our path down the hill lit by styrofoam debris glowing in the moonlight. 

Next day, we had breakfast at the community center, thanks to the Sumpter Breakfast Club's charity community fundraising breakfast. (Really.) Civic duty done, we hauled ourselves to the lake for a swim (well, some of us went on a day ride, but it was about a hundred degrees that day, so I opted for swimming). 

That evening's activity: the Western Olympics. Sumpter was a frontier town, and settling here required many and varied skills. The boys (Zach and Patrick and Peter) had devised a way of reenacting those olden days, but with more tequila and a minibike. 

This was a competitive, timed event, with several stations. First you play cowboy: the time starts and you quickly don an Eastwood-style poncho and sombrero, head to the "bar," slug back some tequila, mount your steed (the minibike, with a stuffed-toy horse strapped to its back in a very undignified manner), and race a lap around the parking lot of the Depot Inn. Ten-second penalty for losing your hat; a man's hat is like his woman. 

Back at the bar, you tie up your steed (or just drop it - easier than finding the kickstand through your poncho) and race across town to the barbershop. Here you shave your customer, which is a balloon, with shaving cream and a straight razor. Ten-second penalty for killing the customer. (I slit mine's throat like Sweeney Todd. I had spent longer than strictly necessary at the tequila bar - ten seconds extra wouldn't hurt.) Racing back across town, you change allegiances, ditching your hat and poncho for a feathered headdress, and take a shot at the target with a bow and arrow. ("Kill whitey," the crowd chanted. Whitey was a stuffed shirt with a cantaloupe for a head.) And done. 

We are seldom bored. 

Other shenanigans followed; one guy got trapped inside the haunted Sumpter Dredge and had to swim to safety through probably radioactive slime or at least industrial ooze; he returned to the bar in his undies, perfectly happy. I got the hiccups and was cured by being held upside-down for like the eighth time that night. Everyone tried on a Joe Dirt mullet wig, even the bartenders. Every mosquito in the valley got hammered on our toxic blood. They must look forward to this all year, like Mardi Gras. 

Next morning I somehow woke up early and mostly free of hangover - my theory is that the Jager canceled out the tequila. Or the mosquitoes drank it all, I guess. Anyhow, the ride out of town is glorious: you go over the mountains on a narrow, winding road that cuts through "the burn," scene of a massive forest fire several years ago. At the summit is where, evidence suggests, every depressed chipmunk in America comes to end it all. Just dozens of the poor little things, flinging themselves at your tires in utter despair. It's sad but you can't focus on it. The scenery's gorgeous and the road takes a fair amount of concentration to ride. 

The rest of the route home was deathly hot but fantastic; I had two ice cream bars and a milkshake, plus one quick swim and a number of buckets of cold water dumped on my head (by request). Back in town, it was Club 21 for burgers and debriefing, then home to unload and take a shower I really, really needed. Good times, can't wait to do it again!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

in related news...

...or maybe not, but it struck me as somehow connected to the previous post - anyway, here's William Vollmann in the latest Bookforum, in a piece about the American ache to escape the grid:

"Were there such an animal as national character, then I might define an American as follows: longing for and half-expecting perfect freedom and happiness; disappointed by the authoritarian constraints of present necessity (which we'll call 'the grid'); unnerved by the conflict between aspiration and reality; uncertain whether to blame oneself or others for imperfection; ready to 'reinvent' oneself to achieve self-sufficiency, profit, or peace." 

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

where i've been

I haven't had a haircut since I got my current day job, back in June a year ago. My hair doesn't grow very fast, so this is not the Crystal Gayle nightmare one might think. But I do need a haircut: it's looking a little unkempt and shaggy. What's holding me back (besides laziness and a general failure to accurately measure the passage of time) is this vague idea that submitting to a haircut would mean accepting my current circumstances. Not in a hippie, CSNY sense exactly -- it's more that a haircut would mark my current life, the Office Life, as normal. Routine. It would represent settling in.

Which is absurd: I've been at this job for almost a year, I should be settled in by now. But I haven't bothered accumulating an office wardrobe, for example, or getting a proper lunchbox or shoes that meet the dress code. (There's a dress code!) I figure, if I keep my presentation haphazard, barely passing, it's easier to convince myself that this is all just pretend, a costume I'm wearing, a role, nothing real or god forbid permanent. I am working in an office but I don't really work in an office - that isn't my life.

Before this, the longest I'd held an office job in the past 10 years was for about eight months, and most of it was part-time. In retrospect, that's pretty dreamy. But at the time it felt like I was chained to a rock in a cave with poison being slowly dripped upon me from above. Gray carpet walls. Fluorescent lights! The horror.

I mean obviously I'm just spoiled. I've been able for years to get away with doing work that was (a) on a pretty flexible, self-determined schedule and (b) essentially the same stuff I do for fun. My dad pointed this out the other day: up until recently, my life pretty much was my work. They were integrated. Now the two pursuits are entirely separate: I have to carve out time and energy for my real life from whatever's left over after my job. (Which, usually, isn't much. Ten hours of sitting on one's ass repairing legal documents might sound relaxing, but for whatever reason, it wears me out.)

The day-to-day schedule is as big a factor as the nature of the work, I think. My jobs have typically been project-driven: various tiny emergencies you work on intensely until the deadline, followed by a reprieve before the next tiny emergency, which is different from the last one. The scary part is never knowing how many emergencies might come your way; each one could be the last. This job, though, feels like an emergency all the time, with no hint of change ahead. There's not, like, a point at which I'm finished with the work and can relax for a while. Next week looks about the same as this week. It's like driving across Kansas, very slowly. This is tiring at an existential level, and I don't know how you guys all manage it so well. If I were a regular person I'd have about 25 years of this ahead of me.

Here's a thought I like, from a magazine interview with the poet Frank Bidart; in this section he's talking about the word "making":

"It's one of the principles of the world. We live in this awkward culture that tells people that they have to have a job, have money to buy things, but that the job does not have to be connected to one's soul, one's inner life or spirit or sense of self-worth. On the contrary, the aim of work seems to be retirement where you can fish all day or go to Florida or someplace -- which seems to me grotesque, an absolute impoverishing of the idea of human life. Human beings are makers. It's the only thing that gives human beings something approaching satisfaction. It's completely central to what a human being is, to living in a complicated process where one must constantly accept givens that one can't control." 

...and later:

"Making is a way of knowing and trying to embody what you feel you do know."

Anyway, I realize I'm being a complete pansy about the job. It's a perfectly good job, and I'm lucky to have one at the moment. But so often it leaves me too worn out to make things, and that doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon, and I'm not sure what to do.

So then. Maybe just a trim?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

in between

An in-betweener post to tide you over while I finish tinkering around with a real post...

This song has been on permanent repeat in the Becky den lately --

(Not currently for topical reasons, oddly enough; I just think it's lovely.)

And this just came my way, via Mike Russell, source of all good things --

And speaking of Mike Russell, here's a hilarious drawing he made from an email my awesome brother (hi Karl!) sent me about telling Real Live Stories at bedtime to the kids (my little twin nephews). Their list of demands for the contents of the real-live stories (an egg, a big rock, a big chicken, a visitor) led to this composite illustration:

I've heard Karl and Natalie telling these stories before, and it's the greatest thing: the little dudes are rapt, suspense levels are extremely high, and the narrative shenanigans of the storytellers are impressive and humbling. Maybe I can get Karl to record some of them to send me, and then I can have real-live bedtime stories too.

What else? Hmmm......the two best movies I've seen this year are Frances Ha and Upstream Color. I'm not reviewing them or anything but I might come back here later and write a little more. For now, the trailers:

This one, though, might be too revealing-of-surprises....or maybe it's fine, I'm not sure. You should probably just go see the movie if you can, and then watch the trailer. Not everyone will love it, but I'll take the chance:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

walking portland - updated with schedule

So remember all those times this past fall and winter when you wanted to hang out but I said I couldn't because I was "working" on a "book," and you figured I was probably just making it up so I could stay at home with a box of wine and watch Buffy on Netflix?

Well, you may have been right about some of those times (except it was Alias -- Buffy was the previous winter). But most of the time I really was working on a book. And now it's all done! (Let's hang out!)

Here is the shiny, shiny cover:

Here's the scoop from the publisher.

Here's an interview with fellow Wilderness Press author, hiker and breakfast guy Paul Gerald.

And here's Terry Richard's very nice review in The Oregonian (although I'm not so sure about "hip" and "young"...).

Oh, and one in Portland Monthly. And one in WW.

This is the first non-Lonely Planet guidebook I've done, and the first I wrote from scratch (rather than updating an old edition, the typical LP deal). It's also the first time I've had a publicity department! So, it looks like I'll be holding court in a few places around town this spring, in case you discover any huge mistakes in the book and would like to point them out to me in person. (I encourage this.)

The first event is at Annie Bloom's Books on April 24, at 7pm. (Thanks to Rob Seamans for the author photo, by the way.)

The schedule so far: 

April 8-12: Guest-blogging for
7pm Wednesday, April 24: Annie Bloom's Books, 7834 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland
7.30pm Thursday, May 2: Powell's Books on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland
Noon Monday, May 13: Ristretto Roasters, 2181 NW Nicolai St, Portland  [had to cancel, alas]

More to come - stay alert!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

random kid pic

From a little while back...probably the closest I'll ever get to being in style: