(Mini) Things of the Week 3/1/17

Question of the week: After a minor kitchen incident, how does one successfully cut a mango?

Answer: Get your husband to do it for you while you grab the band-aids.

READING

“The Rise of Roxane Gay” by Molly McArdle, February 22, 2017 on Brooklyn

“Against Readability” by Ben Roth, February 21, 2017 on The Millions

Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen 

WATCHING

The Indiana Jones Triology: I had only seen the third movie as a kid, so I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Temple of Doom for the first time this week. Gotta say, I don’t feel like I was missing much. Yes, these movies are supposed to be set in the 30s, but the gender and racial stereotyping was a bit much.

Happy Birthday, Page:

Advertisements

Things of the Week: Post Thanksgiving Edition

A greyhound won the National Dog Show:

//giphy.com/embed/YbybIuZaB60so

via GIPHY

Thanksgiving Miracle: Our greyhounds are cuddling.

Commercials: I’ve noticed that commercials this holiday season have a particularly tenderhearted quality about them. It’s nice.

I Got Gilmored: Yes, I’m a fan. Yes, I’ve been bingeing seasons 1-7 for the last several months. Yes, I bought a box of Pop-Tarts to toast Gilmore Girls: A year in the Life. Yes, I might have squealed when I heard the opening music and saw the beloved gazebo. No, I did not expect the #lastfourwords.

Swimming in uncertainty about whether or not we’ll return to Stars Hollow, I’ve been reading as many think pieces as I can to hold on to that Gilmore feeling. Here are a few I particularly liked or was amused by:

“Turns Out, Rory Gilmore Is Not a Good Journalist” by Megan Garber, November 28, 2016, on The Atlantic 

“Watched All of the ‘Gilmore Girls’ Revival? Let’s Talk About It” by Margaret Lyons, November 29, 2016, on The New York Times

“A Play-by-Play of the Only Thing That Matters in the New ‘Gilmore Girls’: Logan Huntzberger”  by Kara Brown, November 28, 2016, on The Muse/Jezebel 

Reading (too many things at once): With the semester coming to a close and lots of papers to grade, I find that I keep collecting books to read without finishing them, assuming the next one will satisfy something in me that the previous one didn’t:

You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thích Nhất Hạnh

 How to Train A Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness by Jan Chozen Bays

Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston

(These three books are all an attempt to remedy semester stress)

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

(Recommended to me by a friend because I had never read anything by Anne Carson. I’m reading this with the hope that it will make me feel smart. Instead, it makes me feel like endeavoring is pointless. So now I pull it out and read it when I feel like I’m trying too hard at something).

Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology Edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel

(Reading this one slowly, a story at a time. Have been pulling it out when I need something to put reality in perspective.)

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

(Picked this up because I wanted to get lost in beautiful sentences. So far so good.)

New Addition to the Brain Injury Glossary: gravel brain – when it feels like there are pebbles sitting on top of my frontal lobe, small but still heavy, with spaces between them that allow brief moments of lucidity to shine through.

Things of the Week 10/12/16

Tweeting the Season: 

Poet-ing: I competed in my first Slam Poetry Competition. An absolutely fabulous night. I think I’m more of a poet-for-the-page, but the experience was well worth it. The poem I recited for Round 1, “Modern Witchcraft: A Business Meeting” was published back in April by Easy Street. Check it out. 

2016-slam
I think they caught me on an “m” word.

MOMIX:  Had my mind blown by the dance-illusion experience “Opus Cactus.” Truly have never seen anything like it. Video doesn’t even do it justice, but:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJKIO93zBg4

High Plains Book Awards: Had the opportunity to attend the High Plains Books Awards and was delighted to discover that the centerpieces at the banquet tables were books–free books.

Reading the Season: The Witches: Salem,1692 by Stacy Schiff. I didn’t realize that the period of time surrounding the Salem witch trials was so short. I’m having the sneaking suspicion I fell asleep in American History on the day this was covered.

(Actual) Fun Brain Injury Side Effect: I’m taking up Tai Chi. I’ve started with YouTube and resources from my local library, but my next step will be to join a class locally. Discoveries so far:

  • practicing Tai Chi will be as much about developing patience for me as about anything else
  • moving slowly feels good (whaaaat)
  • the naming conventions for Tai Chi moves are a bit poetic, which I like
  • I’m sore (whaaaat)

Things of the Week 9/21/16

Small Pleasures: When you get more marshmallows in your cereal than you expected.

Awesome Thing I Saw on the Internet: Artist Adds Monsters Next To Strangers On The Subway

Watching: Happy Endings–this is a fave of Pop Culture Happy Hour host Linda Holmes and I like her taste in movies/tv so I thought I’d give it a try. It took me until episode 12 of season 2 to click with this show, but now it has me laughing out loud, particularly when I saw this scene where Brad goes to the dentist.

Paranoia: Having watched the documentary Citizen Four and listened to the Note to Self Podcast Episode “There is No ‘Off the Record'” in the same week, I’ve decided that I really appreciate the idea of first drafts–something that no one will read, and something that can be taken down on paper…

Reading: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler with art by Maira Kalman–I’m really getting into the novel-containing-visuals trend. Perhaps I’ll make my way into some graphic novels eventually.

Practicing: memorization, a skill I haven’t really employed since my days in grade school school plays.

Confounded by Technology: I fell victim to an instance of too good to be true. Having returned to academia I discovered our university provides Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions through our email accounts. Pleased with this discovery, I dowloaded the various Microsoft apps to my iPad and began using One Drive to back up my lectures. When, while in One Drive, it offered a free download of the latest Microsoft software I thought to myself, free upgrade? Why not! Only after having dowloaded updated versions of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint (which deleted the old versions from my computer in the process) did I discover that to use these programs on my computer I have to sign in (with my university email address) first. The catch–I’m an adjunct, and in semesters when I’m not teaching (like for example, over the summer) my email address is deactivated i.e. I won’t be able to use these programs come this summer. This has led to hypervigilant saving practices to make sure anything I need stays on my hard drive and won’t get trapped in the cloud if and when my access is turned off. Wish I could have stumbled upon some hashtag on Twitter for this one. 

Things of the Week 9/7/16

Nature: My weekend included a hike near the Woodbine Falls area of the Beartooth Mountains. I love that this trail winds along the river for the first half a mile or so. It’s beautiful and loud–the sound of the water definitely clears the mind.

img_0850

Watched: Street Fight–a documentary by Marshall Curry about Cory Booker’s 2002 campaign to become the mayor of Newark, NJ. I remember now why I don’t often watch documentaries–the more controversial the topic, the more I yell at my TV screen.

Reading: Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel. Was introduced to this in grad school by James Patrick Kelly, who was a faculty member in my program. Don’t know why it’s taken me this long to read it other than now feels like the right time.

Mental Health:Clinton just made a very important announcement — and hardly anyone is talking about it”The Post’s View, August 31, 2016, on The Washington Post

Possibly one of the more optimistic articles about government/the  election I’ve read in awhile (and possibly why it’s not getting much coverage). I particularly like everything that’s happening in this paragraph:

“The big-ticket item in Ms. Clinton’s plan is $5 billion for community health centers providing substance abuse and mental-health treatment as well as traditional medical care, which jibes with elements of reform initiatives emerging from Congress. To address a shortage of mental-health professionals, meanwhile, she would smartly encourage telemedicine, among other things. Ms. Clinton also proposed pumping up the budget for basic scientific research, some of which would be diverted into studying the brain. Aside and apart from the debate over mental health, Democrats and Republicans have often been able to agree on funding basic research such as this.”

Current Obsessions: eating dry cereal, candles, tea,

Thing Happening Today: First day of school.

Things Happening This Weekend: 

Pulitzer Out Loud Presents: Slam Poetry Workshops

I consider myself a poetry dabbler and I’ve never tried Slam, though I have great respect for it. Very much looking forward to attending these workshops.

Brew Ha Ha 2016 – Oktoberfest

Drink beer to support literacy? Don’t mind if I do.

 

Things of the Week 8/25/16

Thing I’m Sharing: Giving up alcohol opened my eyes to the infuriating truth about why women drink by Kristi Coulter, August, 21 2016 on Quartz

Watched: The Imitation Game–appreciated this film, especially the soundtrack. Found myself somewhat distracted by images that reminded me of some cast members in other movies with a WWII or pre WWII setting. (Keira Knightley in Atonement, Matthew Goode in Brideshead Revisited). 

Culinary Delights: burgers and milkshakes for my husband’s birthday, a fresh baguette courtesy of the baker at my new fave coffee shop, peaches, popcorn

View this post on Instagram

Happy Birthday weekend to this guy, love you!

A post shared by Ashley K Warren (@ajoybliss) on

Reading: The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore–I’m told by the praise on the front cover and reviews on Goodreads that I’ll like this because I liked The Night Circus.  Passing no judgements yet.

Prepping: materials for my return to teaching at the college level. Overwhelmed by my own millennial tendencies to hyper consume I now have collected more articles than I’ll likely have time to teach. Under consideration:

  1. The article shared above (Cause and Effect Essays)
  2. The Near Certainty of Anti-Police Violence by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Argumentative Essays)
  3. Why Women Still Can’t Have it All by Anne-Marie Slaughter (Cause and Effect Essays)
  4. How Michael Brown’s death, two years ago, pushed #BlackLivesMatter into a movement by Josh Hafner (Process Essays)

Fun Brain Injury and Whiplash Side Effects: cheek numbness, dropping everything always. (EVERYTHING. ALWAYS.)

Things of the Week 8/10/16

Funny: The Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day I Woke Up as a Debut Author: Jade Sharma Tries to be Happy About the Publication of PROBLEMS August 4, 2016 on Literary Hub 

Alfred Hitchcock’s, The BirdsWas awoken by a flock of sparrows battling in a tree directly outside my bedroom window. Went to the bathroom and discovered one had managed to maneuver itself under the screen and between the storm window and the actual window. It looked like a living shadowbox. Only days before while practicing yoga I watched a sparrow try to enter our house in a similar manner.

Looking Forward to: roadtrip to Missoula with greyhounds in tow, stopping in Bozeman to eat at Roost, and listening to episodes of RadioLab on the way.

Reading: Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink by Jeff Johnson. This book has a brilliantly colorful quote that demonstrates the use of tattoo industry slang. Terms indicated in italics:

“Dude, it was a Dee Dee on speed dial unholy bloodbath. No pork chops, a mid-shift seismic California bumper sticker taco valve explosion, a fucking parade of drunks brimming with Chud potential and I ran out of boy butter after the second fight in the lobby. Bonus hole city to boot.”

Also reading: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Found: that mouse we were “over” last week...by way of our olfactory senses 😦

Mystery: there seems to be evidence of something large bedding down by our fence. Could be animal or human due to our location.

IMG_0825.JPG 

Listening to: 

Things of the Week 7/20/16

Watched: The Big Short–In 2007 I was a new college grad, and when the housing bubble started to burst I was too focused on getting a job to really understand what was going on. I appreciated the ersatz education I got watching this movie because I admit I wanted a dumbed down version of the financial crisis. The most obvious pedagogical technique the movie used was explanations of financial jargon provided by random celebrity personas conveyed directly to the audience (i.e. breaking the fourth wall). The technique was a bit polarizing, as was the movie. I liked the film, but I also appreciate the criticism the film received so I’ll leave these two articles for further explanation/consideration:

“Why Does the Big Short Break the Fourth Wall” by Tom Bond, One Room With a View

The Big Shot Review-Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale can’t save this overvalued stock” by Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Listened to: Switched on Popa podcast on the making and meaning of popular music I heard about this podcast on another podcast (Pop Culture Happy Hour) and have been really enjoying the depth with which hosts Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding discuss music. There most recent episode “Around the World with Drake” addresses music appropriation.

Downloaded: Prisma-Art Photo Editor – having way too much fun with this one. I feel like this app is the fix for anything/anyone who isn’t photogenic (though selfishly I think my dog is very photogenic.)

IMG_0773.JPG

Reading: Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker–an epistolary memoir written in the second person point of view. Basically, this book is two of my favorite literary techniques mashed together. And I have to agree with the celebrity praise on the back cover, it is truly poetic (Mary Karr) and tender (Colum McCann).

Street Art:

IMG_0776.JPG
I suspect the text and the stencil were created by separate artists but what a thought provoking combination.

 

IMG_0779.JPG
I think we have a street artist in the making with this one.

New Skill: key wording. I’ve started working for my husband, who owns a film production company, and one of the most help things I do (read–task I’m qualified to perform) is enter relevant search terms into the databases that host his stock video footage. This is turning into a great word-association exercise. EXAMPLE: make a list of all of the relevant adjectives or nouns associated with the word sun.

Brain Glossary: new term: “Brain Push.” Similar to “Brain Squeeze” except the direction of discomfort is vertical instead of horizontal. Like stacking books on your head instead of tightening a belt.

Fun Brain Injury Side Effect: When writing by hand, inadvertently replacing or adding letters to common words so as to create something like a foreign language. EXAMPLES: withing (within), yar (you), warnt (want).

The Last Word

"The End” by  Bob Marzewski via Flickr used under a creative commons license.
“The End” by Bob Marzewski via Flickr used under a creative commons license.

On a recent episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour the crew discussed first impressions in movies, books, films and TV. Panelist Glen Weldon gave some of his favorite opening lines in books then went on to create this comprehensive list of opening lines.

Coming to the end of the rewrite on my own novel, I find myself contemplating endings rather than beginnings, and I have another writerly confession to make: I judge a book by its last word, which I read first.

Before you lay judgement, things that I know:

A) This is a ludicrous habit.

B) The likelihood that an entire book could be encapsulated by only the last word, when considering the numerous books in existence, is outrageously and implausibly small.

And you might wonder how I can peek at the last word without spoiling the ending.  My ability to flip to the last page and peek, only taking in that last word, maybe two, has been fostered by years of looking at scary movies through fingers, ready to close the gap in a nanosecond lest I see a wayward severed head. Continue reading “The Last Word”

So, I just read “Gone Girl” (no spoilers, I promise)

This may be the shortest book review I write. I’m afraid that the more I type, the greater the danger that I will give all the good stuff away.

The Night Circus was a book I fell in love with, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is a book I admire.

cover image courtesy of Goodreads

Continue reading “So, I just read “Gone Girl” (no spoilers, I promise)”