March 26, 2012

The Lover's Dictionary

Sometimes desire is air; sometimes desire is liquid. And every now and then, when everything else is air and liquid, desire solidifies, and the body is the magnet that draws its weight.

this was another short, quick read. The Lover's Dictionary tells the story of one couple's relationship through personalized entries in a dictionary. the dictionary is alphabetized, so the story is nonlinear, but it's easy to pick up the narrative arc through the entries. if you like books like The Perks of Being a Wallflower or anything by Nick Hornby, you would enjoy this. below are a couple of my favorite pages:

commonplace, adj.

it swings both ways, really.
i'll see your hat on the table and i'll feel such longing for you, even if you're only in the other room. if i know you aren't looking, i'll hold the green wool up to my face, inhale that echo of your shampoo and the cold air from outside.
but then i'll walk into the bathroom and find you've forgotten to put the cap back on the toothpaste again, and it will be this splinter that i just keep stepping on.

punctuate, adj.

cue the imaginary interviewer:
Q: so when all is said and done, what have you learned here?
A: the key to a successful relationship isn't just in the words, it's in the choice of punctuation. a well-placed question mark can be the difference between bliss and disaster, and i deeply respected period or a cleverly inserted ellipsis can prevent all kinds of exclamations.

March 23, 2012

American Dervish

another book that has been on my request list so long, i forgot where i first heard about it. i must have read something about Islam/Pakistan/immigration, because another library book in my stack is a biography of a NY Jewish woman who converts to Islam and moves to Pakistan.

the story takes place in Milwaukee in the 80's. Hayat is a Pakistani-American boy whose mother's best friend Mina escapes an abusive arranged marriage in Pakistan and comes with her toddler son to live with Hayat's family. Mina is the axis around which the entirety of the story spins. the whole narrative is comprised of the other characters reacting to her: her faith, her plight, her decisions. i began the book assuming, as the American cover leads one to think, that Hayat is the dervish. but it's Mina who ultimately sacrifices everything, although for what i am not entirely sure. (the UK cover seems a little more accurate to me, seen below)

Hayat's parents have long ago disaffiliated themselves from Islam, but Mina arrives with her own passionate interpretation of the Koran, which she teaches Hayat. He is entranced and immerses himself in the scriptures, only to become more and more disillusioned through the course of his adolescence and the events that unfold. it's an interesting religious coming-of-age story, made more fascinating by lifting the veil on a foreign religion & culture in the Western world. i really liked this one.

Hunger Games poster

i'm not a Hunger Games fanatic, but i do like this poster. seen here.

March 22, 2012

Petits chats

from Parisian design studio
Ma + Chr, seen here. i want the third one down to be Gordon's girlfriend.

March 17, 2012

underwater ink

underwater ink photographs by Alberto Seveso, seen here. they look best at their full size, click here to see the originals.

March 16, 2012

Humane Society

shamelessly stolen (and altered) from my favorite Hyperbole and a Half post

so, i am a little bit addicted to the Animal Humane Society website. i first came across it when we came across Gordon, and i was posting "Found Cat" info wherever i could. of course, that doesn't explain why i clicked on "Adoptable Animals", and why i continue to go back to the site and stare at all the little furry faces hoping to find a new home.

applicable tangent: a few years ago, i read
a fascinating article about an amusement park on the same stretch of Midtown Mpls that now houses Target/Cub/Rainbow/YWCA. at the park was one of the world's first fetal incubators (seriously). the hospitals didn't want it, so the french inventor set up shop at amusement parks, women would bring their preemies to him, and the public could pay like a nickel to walk through and look at the tiny babies incubating away. it was a raging financial success because housewives would get emotionally attached to one of the babies, so they would return daily- or multiple times a day- to make sure "their" baby was still alive. this is me and the Humane Society website. i get emotionally attached to some of the animals (there is a bunny named Steve Martin, i mean come on) and i check back to see if they were adopted. this one old lady dog named Sasha was just breaking my heart last week- she looked so sweet and awesome, and her picture was up forEVER.

right now, i'm really rooting for


and Davey (i ♥ all the obese cats)

if you prefer happy tears, they also post a multitude of Success Stories, written by the owners, about animals that were adopted and are now thriving in their new homes. click through if you dare, but if you're against crying in your cubicle i would consider this NSFW.

March 15, 2012

London fog

from the InFocus photo essay
A World Without People.

Floating paper sculptures

seen here

beautiful paper sculptures by Peter Gentenaar, installed in a French cathedral. what a perfect setting for these works of art. see the full set of photos here.

March 12, 2012

The Leftovers, Wonderstruck, and the Hunger Games

it was a busy weekend, reading-wise. i managed to finish The Leftovers, and read both Wonderstruck and finally, finally The Hunger Games.

i had never heard of Tom Perrotta, but he came recommended by a trusted literary friend. i decided to start with his latest, The Leftovers. it's an interesting premise- set in present day, it chronicles a small town's attempt to move past the sudden departure of millions of the world's population. it was a rapture, but for most it wasn't THE Rapture. for one, many Christians weren't taken, but there were plenty of Hindus, Muslims, atheists, alcoholics, etc who did disappear. the disappearances seem arbitrary and not based on any sort of merit or moral quality. in the wake of such a confusing event, people lose grip on reality, deadly cults spring up, Sponge Bob Square Pants becomes therapy. the story focuses on one family's unraveling- a father's hope to move on, a mother's detachment with reality, a son's abandonment of the family, and the scathed daughter who remains. i loved the idea of examining the post-rapture world from a completely non-Biblical perspective. it was a really interesting read; my only complaint being that in the last 30-40 pages there were a lot of unexplained changes/leaps in certain characters' mindsets and goals. i felt like i was missing a couple chapters. but overall, really enjoyable and makes me want to check out more of his work.

Ben thought about what it meant to curate your own life, as his dad had done here. what would it be like to pick and choose the objects and stories that would go into your own cabinet? how would Ben curate his own life? and then, thinking about his museum box, and his house, and his books, and the secret room, he realizes he'd already begun doing it. maybe, thought Ben, we are all cabinets of wonders.

Wonderstruck is by Brian Selznick, the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. This is his latest, and it's very similar- 2 stories woven together, one in words and the other in beautiful graphite illustrations. like Hugo, it includes a touch of "real life"- in this case, the huge model of New York City that was created for the 1964 World's Fair and the 1977 blackout.
it also includes the 4th book i've recently read to reference Minnesota- Freedom, State of Wonder, The Leftovers (briefly mentions relatives living in Minneapolis), and now Wonderstruck (one of the main characters is from Gunflint Lake, MN). Selznick himself went up to the Grand Marais & Gunflint Lake area for research.

it's very similar to Hugo- simple, enjoyable story, easily read in an afternoon.

and finally, i spent most of Sunday devouring The Hunger Games. everyone was right; it's great. the dystopia is vivid and the action is well written. it's a good thing i started early in the day, because i definitely would have stayed up too late finishing this one. the only benefit of me being this late to the craze is that i only have to wait a few weeks for the movie. it seems impossible to screw up, although i can't decide if Lenny Kravitz as Cinna will be a misstep or not. (i'm actually looking forward to Woody Harrelson as Haymitch.) we shall see!

March 9, 2012

Mr. Minneapolis

i've never been into politics. even having two college roommates who were politcal science majors did not sway my interest. i rarely vote. (but definitely planning on it this year.) i've only recently started paying attention to what politicians say and do, and i am much more interested in those who are closer to home than DC and beyond.

all this to say, i've never been able to say i actually like a politician, until now. i first became aware of Minneapolis mayor RT Rybak in 2007, at the May Day Parade. the parade is a crazy conglomeration of freaks marching down South Minneapolis to celebrate the coming of spring with a bizarre puppetry performance in Powderhorn Park. it is one of my favorite things. i used to march in the parade at my old job, and 5 years ago Mayor Rybak joined our ramshackle float-thing to drum on a djembe and dance with us down Bloomington Ave. it was a delightful surprise for me to see an elected official even present, let alone joining in on the madness. but had i known anything at all about Mayor Rybak, i would not have been surprised. this guy gets our city. he understands who lives here. what we value, what we need, and what we want. i really feel like he is "one of us."

Hanging out in North Mpls with Bike Cops for Kids, using a NiceRideMN bike (2 of my favorite local initiatives). love the rubber band.

this year celebrates his 10 year anniversary as mayor, and there are some great articles commemorating the milestone (with some healthy critique as well):
Rybak years redefine Minneapolis (Star Tribune)
How Minneapolis fares after 10 years with Mayor R.T. Rybak (MPR)
The Real R.T. Rybak (CityPages)
Shoring up the Foundation (Twin Cities Business)

talking with residents immediately after the 2011 North Mpls tornado

if you live in Minneapolis, i highly encourage you to follow him on Twitter, "like" him on Facebook, and put his blog in whatever RSS feed reader you use. he is a great example of an elected official successfully using social media to get his points and (what is increasingly more important) his personality across to his constituents.

riding with Dykes on Bikes at the 2011 Pride Festival (all photos swiped from his Facebook page)

March 7, 2012

Bicycle chain people.

beautiful sculptures made out of bicycle chains by Seo Young Deok. seen here.

March 6, 2012

State pans

seen here

cast irons pans in the shape of every state... a cute idea, but what on earth are you going to cook with a Rhode Island pan?

March 5, 2012

4 more reasons to love Justin Vernon.

as if you needed any, right?

1. those spots on his Grammy tie were tiny pink elephants. (click the photo for larger image)

seen here

2. he named his Wisconsin house/studio after an X-Files reference. (April Base)

3. this. it's 24 minutes but well worth your time. i recommend going full-screen with this one.

4. and this, oh this. a song by Anais Mitchell, who wrote an entire folk opera based on the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Vernon is Orpheus and sings on several tracks, but this is hands-down my favorite, and the only successful "call & response" song i've ever heard (i mean, except for this, obviously)

March 3, 2012

the Monkees.

i have a confession to make. my first crush was a drummer.

well, not a "natural" drummer, anyway. one manufactured for television. but a real singer, songwriter, and comedian.... Mr. Micky Dolenz.

i have no idea where i got this photo. it's uh, been saved on my desktop for a while now.

yes, i am an unabashed Monkees fan, and have very much enjoyed watching others coming out of their Monkee closet in the wake of Davy's death. they were a huge part of my childhood and i will always have deep fondness for them.

it started with the re-runs of their tv show on Nick at Nite. i was in grade school and totally captivated. i watched it as often as i could, and when friends came over i would make them play "Monkees", meaning we would choose which Monkee we wanted to be and then re-enact scenes from the episodes. i always chose Micky- he was my favorite from the beginning. the comedic acting chops, the curly hair, and the best voice. (sorry Davy. even Peter and Michael thought so.) one of my friends' uncle made us cassette tapes with "The Monkees" on the A side and "Meet the Beatles" on the B side. he assured us that, while we may ♥ the Monkees now, when we get older we will learn to love the Beatles just as much... probably more. it was true for my friend; within time her wall was plastered with a giant Abbey Road poster. (i don't blame her, they basically wrote a song for her) but i never saw the appeal in the Fab Four. still don't, really. i've never crossed over to the B side. i know i know, they were the originals, they changed the course of pop music, etc. it doesn't matter. the heart wants what the heart wants.

as it happened, the members of the band still talking to each other in the late 80's decided to cash in on the popularity resurgence by launching a reunion tour. our concert promoter neighbor (he of the magic R.E.M. tickets) was working the Southeastern shows, and he brought me swag from the Atlanta show: a t-shirt, his backstage pass, and the absolute best of all- a giant concert program autographed personally for me. he told my mom he had to call his wife to make sure Davy Jones spelled my name correctly. i'm mini-swooning just thinking about it. although, the program was slightly traumatizing because that when i learned just how much older Micky really was (35 years, eep).

over time, i learned that the Monkees were actually a "fake" band, the original boy band. during my adolescent bout of self-righteous integrity, i thought that was lame and that they were sell-outs... but anytime "i'm a Believer" came on the radio or in the grocery store, i would involuntarily hum along. eventually i learned the whole story, which their Wikipedia page does a great job of laying out. the basic gist is that while yes, they were hired to sing & act in a made-up band, those that didn't play eventually learned their instruments, began to write their own songs, and fought their producers for more control of their musical destiny. so, they deserve a little more respect that what is usually offered to them.

photo from here

aaaaaaaaaaanyway, at some point last spring i learned that the Monkees were back on tour again, and would be making a stop in Minneapolis. tickets were expensive, and Matt wasn't really excited about going. but i knew this was one of those opportunities that i would regret passing up. so i ponied up the dough and headed out to the zoo (yes, the zoo) for the outdoor concert. i went by myself but ending up sitting next to an enthusiastic fan who knew all the songwriter/production details, so he and i had a great time chatting. i was jokingly told by 3 different people, "hey, you're too young to be here!" it was a total cheeseball fest interrupted by an hour long thunderstorm, but it was so worth it. there's something about seeing your idols, even as aging has-beens, that is magical. to hear those songs sung live, see the canned and adlibbed stage banter... i'm so glad i went, especially knowing now that it was my absolute only chance. those songs are more of my "comfort music"... songs that remind me of my childhood, that will stay with me the rest of my life.

has anyone else had the chance to see a current/former idol in person?

March 1, 2012

Superior surfer

seen here

Midwesterners are their own brand of crazy. while Minneapolis only got a couple slushy inches from the most recent snowstorm, Duluth had blizzard conditions. this guy decided to take advantage of an unusually wild Lake Superior and polish up his surfing skills.

a lovely surprise

the nicest thing happened to me back in December, amidst the hulabaloo of holiday parties, house guests, and illnesses. i got an unexpected package in the mail from a far-away friend, with this amazing, beautiful mini-quilt:

photo (and trapezoid effect) courtesy of my crappy cell phone

isn't it so pretty? it's about 12"x20". she also sent a little note, which said, when you blogged about not having any art to adorn your office @ work, i thought that was such a tragedy! so when you pinned this quilt on pinterest, i knew it had to be!

sometimes the internet can make one feel isolated and anonymous, but sometimes it actually works for the greater good, as long as those who use it are as sweet and thoughtful as Kait. and this is a girl who quilts professionally, by the way. she is continually working on commissions, so it meant the world that she took the time to make this for me.

it's hanging on the wall directly to the right of my computer and is the first thing i see when i get to my cubicle every morning.... a very welcome sight, indeed.