Sunday, March 29, 2015


I would watch any movie of any length in which any or all of the following occur: 1) Matthew McConaughey walks across a room (2) Benicio del Toro says "creepy" (3) Joaquin Phoenix.

(Inherent Vice has two of the three. You guys should go see it - so much fun! And it is a Paul Thomas Anderson movie, so every single frame looks gorgeous, not just the close-ups of Joaquin.)

The other day I started reading a biography of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life, by Megan Marshall. Fantastic so far, really vividly detailed and lively. Fuller strikes me as someone who should be a lot more famous than she is. I don't think we even studied her in j-school (part 1). She hung out with the Transcendentalists, edited the Dial, worked as a foreign correspondent, etc etc etc. She was ultra-brilliant, outspoken, stubborn and wild in an era when women were encouraged not to be any of those things (1810-1850, specifically). She had a kid with an Italian lover ten years younger, and they all died in a shipwreck when she was 40.

(She also had a fraught, complicated thing with Ralph Waldo Emerson, my boyfriend, but I forgive her because I was not born yet.)

(Plus I think she was the great-aunt of Buckminster Fuller, which is pretty cool.)

Are there any decent movies about the Transcendentalists? I can't think of any. Let's pretend somebody's making one and fan-cast it!

Anyway. Margaret Fuller. Check her out.

Meanwhile, I've been plugging away at the eternal book project, about which I currently have nothing good to say, other than that it exists and has finally stopped shrinking. (For a while all I did was cross out the bad parts. That was discouraging.) Yesterday I cleaned the whole apartment just to avoid it. I would've done yardwork too but my weedeater blew up (again).

"I find the most difficult part of writing is to get it down initially because what you have written is usually so terrible that it’s disheartening, you don’t want to go on. That’s what I think is hard—the discouragement that comes from seeing what you have done. This is all you could manage?" 

-- James Salter, in this interview with the Paris Review

Yep. Heard that.

Even so. Sure beats working! : )

Monday, March 09, 2015

crossed wires

If I ever say the word "turnip" to you, please know that what I mean is "parsnip." I will never mean turnip. I don't know that I've ever even had a turnip; I think they're like big ugly radishes, but I'm not sure. Parsnips, though, I love, especially roasted. "Parsnip" is also a much cuter word. But somehow those wires are crossed in my head, and after years of trying to get them uncrossed, I've decided to just go ahead and accept this quirk.

I meant to post something here yesterday but I couldn't lift my arms. It was Day 1 of Week 5 of a re-do of P90X, which means things like one-arm pushups and weighted circles and not being able to lift your arms. (Today was plyometrics, aka "jump around until you barf or pee your pants.") I slacked off quite a bit last week, too, which made for an extra-pleasant couple of mornings. Fun!

(It is fun, actually, as long as I've remembered to eat real food and not just beer.)

Alert readers will recall that this glob started years ago as an ungainly blend of travel report and preoccupation with absurd yet mundane ways to die. I guess it's still both of those things, most of the time. Aging is the ultimate champion in that latter category, after all. And I'm still traveling. Just last week I went clear over to the other side of Portland, hanging out for several days in a neighborhood I like to call Sandwich Heaven. (I was cat-sitting.) Here, within a couple of blocks, you can get four or five of the greatest sandwiches in all of Portland. I thought Lardo made my favorite one (Korean pork shoulder, OMG), but then my friend Sean sent me to the People's Pig and now it's the winner. Smoked Fried Chicken. King of Sandwich Heaven. So you can see why I need to work out.

Anyway. I know I've been lame about updating this thing, although probably no more than usual. I've been working on revisions of a not-really-secret project. Also I had to fix my motorcycle, because the weather is insane right now -- definitely not a fake spring, after all. So that took some time. Among other improvements, I now have new throttle cables, and for the first time in history the throttle actually snaps closed like it's supposed to, plus it no longer makes that awful grinding sound, like my knees when I go down stairs.

Here's how the cables looked before: bad! All squinchy, and rusty to boot:

The whole deal is much cleaner now, and with any luck I've put everything back on in the right place and not upside-down or in such a way that it will later explode. Fingers crossed! So far it seems to be working just fine, but I'm no expert.

Until next time!