29 September 2006

Catching up

Hit the state fair yesterday only to discover that it had been precisely one year since I'd last been. Got a nice dose of goats, cows, large produce, all manner of merchandise, and musical groups of questionable talent.

Found out my cousin was just served with divorce papers, and I'm not really surprised though I gather he was. Mostly I find myself thinking if she'd waited a month, they'd have made it five years and wouldn't be such a common statistic.

Also, today is Carnival of the Mundane over at Kapgar, so check it out.

One year ago at TTaT: Days when the brain's wired differently, Short people may cause skin cancer
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26 September 2006

Rick Sixty-Two

(Another slice from my time in SF.)

My friend B's ex-landlady's niece's boyfriend was telling us about his mom's boyfriend, possibly his stepfather, after the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival last Sunday. His name is Rick and he's from Norway or somewhere around there. His English is decent having been here 20 years though he inverts idioms oddly and still tries to use illegal compound words in Scrabble. He sounds like an honest fellow with no tact. At a big deal gallery opening for the mom's sculpture, Rick was somewhat scruffy and could be heard making comments most people would whisper: "That is a lovely jacket you're wearing...the pants are too tight."

Like many San Francisco residents, he is aggravated by the lack of parking and particularly those drivers who park leaving gaps not quite wide enough for another car. My friends call this "parking rape." For example, there could have been two parallel spaces, but someone parks in the middle taking up both. Just today on my street, if all the cars currently parked weren't several feet apart, there'd be room for 2 or 3 more cars, but instead I'm parked three blocks away.

Rick is a man of action. On his street, all such drivers would find notes on their cars suggesting they move up. If the note is removed and the car unmoved, they get another admonishing them for not having moved their car. Eventually they might receive something like this:
Please choose from the following: a) I am ignorant. b) I am a stupid moron. c) I am inconsiderate and mean. Since you will not to reply I will choose for you. B, You are moronically stupid driver. -Rick #62
You have to give him credit: he leaves his name and house number on every note. He does get notes in return but his loyalty to his mission remains true. One woman filed a "cease and desist" order on him and the Dept. of Parking and Transportation has received a number of complaints. Of course, the DPT supervisor took this to mean the meter-maid dude for that area wasn't giving out enough tickets. (Because, you know, it couldn't be that there's just not enough parking even if people don't park sloppy.) Feeling the heat of his superiors, the dude ticketed everyone on the block one day using every possible infraction.

The war continues, Rick's resolve still strong. He doesn't care what other people think.

Rick 62, you're my hero.

One year ago at TTaT: tip of the week, Delivery spread- does that come with crackers?
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25 September 2006

Keep Kevin busy

Kevin of Kapgar is hosting Carnival of the Mundane this Friday, so read the guidelines and submit something.

One year ago at TTaT: Supporting Slacker
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23 September 2006

Tyler plus one

Yes, friends, it's true: the wild turkeys are back. Two huge ones this time walking through the trees in my yard. Alas, no access to a digital camera this week (and I don't have a long enough lens on my film camera to make it worthwhile). If they return, I'll try to get a better shot than last year's.

One year ago at TTaT: Mental Snapshot
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22 September 2006

The Next 15

You can get 15 songs from the iTunes Store, what do you buy?

It took me three days to settle on which songs to get. I swear I can lose so much time browsing music. And then there was factoring in what I could listen to for free at The Hype Machine and YouTube (quite a lot as it turns out).

Here's what I got:
"Breathe" Michelle Branch
"Breathe (2AM)" Anna Nalick
"Shake Your Groove Thing" Peaches & Herb
"Love at First Sight" Kylie Minogue
"More, More, More (Part 1)" Andrea True
"Digital Love" Daft Punk
"Toxic" Britney Spears
"Just Can't Get Enough" Depeche Mode
"Walk Away" Kelly Clarkson
"I Melt With You" Modern English
"Everybody Got Their Something" Nikka Costa
"Lullaby" Dixie Chicks
"Ruby Blue" Roisin Murphy
'Bang! Bang!" Dizzy Gillespie
"Criminal" Fiona Apple

One year ago at TTaT: Is writer's block contagious?, Dork!
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20 September 2006

33 Things

Maybe I'll work up to a hundred eventually...

1. I cross my sevens and z's.
2. It's a by-product of studying math in college.
3. The semester I didn't take math was fairly relaxing because of it.
4. But it meant I had to take 3 math classes my last semester to finish my double-major.
5. I have a strong sense of level.
6. I've driven across the US, coast to coast, 4 times.
7. 3 times by myself which I really enjoyed.
8. Fall is my favorite season.
9. I am a pre-school dropout.
10. My high school graduation speech was based on a quote from David Lynch's Dune.
11. I hate signing new credit cards.
12. Because I feel like in that moment, instead of making a definitive signature, I'll end up with an aberrant one that will cause me nothing but future trouble in stores.
13. I suck at folding fitted sheets. Seriously, who thought elastic all the way around was a good idea?
14. The first song I ever sang for karaoke was "Son of a Preacher Man" (Dusty Springfield).
15. It was kind of dreadful because I didn't know it well enough and parts of it were out of my range.
16. My preferred karaoke song at present is: "Spinning Wheel" by Blood, Sweat, & Tears.
17. Occasionally, I feel claustrophobic.
18. One of the worst places I experienced it was in a parking garage in downtown LA.
19. Hi-C wild berry was my favorite juice in high school and college.
20. I thought it tasted better from the can than from the plastic packaging they switched to.
21. I don't like the taste of most alcoholic drinks.
22. Sometimes I think my life would be better if I did.
23. Not for the buzz aspect but rather the social/networking one.
24. I don't like coffee either, so I'm batting zero in the realm of social beverages.
25. I had a Billie Jean King moment when I beat Sean for the title of middle school tennis champion when I was in the 7th grade.
26. It was sweet though I do recognize that it helped that that was the year most of us first learned to play.
27. I'm better at encouraging others and having complete faith in their talents, abilities, and potential to succeed rather than in my own; but I'm working on that.
28. I really missed rain and thunderstorms when I lived in CA.
29. Seeing a blue sky with puffy white clouds nearly always makes me feel better.
30. My touch typing isn't perfect, but I sure am glad I can do it.
31. If I had to answer to James Lipton, I'd tell him my least favorite word is inconsolable.
32. Some days though, it's estimate.
33. Seeing a bear in my backyard has to rate as my coolest animal sighting outside of a zoo.

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18 September 2006

There are limits to my Dad's knowledge

All three bays were empty, so I pulled into the closest one where two guys were standing around. They looked up eagerly, and one moved to the end of the pit in the floor to guide me in. I shut off my engine, grabbed my book and water, unlocked the door and stepped out.

"Here for an oil change?" the one who'd stood in front of my car asked. He was young, blonde, and rather good looking.

"Yes."

"Have you been here before?"

"Yeah," I nodded.

"So you know all about the services?"

With a knowing smile, I said, "Yup."

"Good," he smiled. "It'll take about 15 minutes. You can have a seat in there," he said, pointing to the office.

"OK, thanks." I'd noticed some chairs outside when I pulled in, so I walked out of the bay to those. It was windy, but the building provided a perfect strip of shade to sit in and it was so gorgeous out that I didn't mind. I took a swig of water and started reading On The Road.

I had just flipped the first page when the other young mechanic, a cute brunette, approached. "Excuse me, ma'am. You know, it's only been 1400 miles since your last oil change. Do you still want us to go ahead?"

I looked up at him for a moment. I had known it and it had been a topic of some debate with my father. Though I know there are limits to my Dad's knowledge, I still expect him to know stuff about cars, plumbing, and home repair, and I confess I'm sometimes disappointed when he can't answer my questions. My car manual hadn't been helpful either. Though I'm well aware that the 3 month/3000 miles bit is not necessary for my car (or most that I know of), I wasn't certain whether oil changes just came down to mileage or if after some period of time, you should also get one regardless of mileage. It had been a year since my last oil change which felt like a long time, and Dad said once a year sounded like a safe bet.

"Is it just a mileage thing?" I asked.

"Honestly, yeah," he began, "We already drained your oil, but what we can do is refill it free of charge."

"That'd be great."

He said, "OK," and walked back in.

I could scarcely believe my good luck. I'm no auto guru, but it sounded rather like a free oil change to me. Sweet!

About seven minutes later, the blonde rounded the corner of the building in my car and parked in front of me. He stepped out and said, "We cleaned the inside for you too."

I gave him my best smile and said, "Thanks." Yea for the cute boys at Jiffy Lube.

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The Right Track

You know how it is when you fixate on a song you heard on tv, so you try to track down the title and artist only to find several versions of it? Well, here's to finding the right track.


One year ago at TTaT: The day in-between
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17 September 2006

3 finales, a million of each free

The iTunes Store is offering a million free downloads each of last season's finales of Grey's Anatomy, Lost, and Desperate Housewives. It's called the Million Hit Lowdown at the store, so if any of these interest you, get downloadin'!

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The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 5

(Days: one, two, three, four)

21/viii/04: Torrey, UT to Moab, UT
164 miles/264 km

Hollow MountainAbout halfway between Torrey and Moab, I stopped to fill up my tank at Hollow Mountain. The pumps were out front, but the mini-mart really was inside of a small mountain of rock: a brightly lit, well-appointed cave that stocked bottles of the Arizona Health Tea of which I'd become so fond.

Next door was Blondie's Eatery & Gift. The name was accurate: Dagwood and Blondie adorned the outside, and inside, tables commingled with gift racks. I ordered lunch at the food counter, and the woman kindly gave me the kid's price ($3.20!) for a perfect grilled cheese, french fries, and a Dr Pepper. I left her a buck in the tip jar.

Back on the road, I noticed an air strip in the middle of the desert. I skidded to a stop on the gravelly dirt shoulder so I could take a picture. Off to the left was a very short tower and some planes parked in a row, piper cubs and similar.
Desert Runway

A couple hours later, I was photographing the formation known as Park Avenue in Arches National Park.
Park Avenue Balanced Rock
Then I walked the short hike to Balanced Rock.

At the North and South Windows, I started to curse Arches greater popularity. Capitol Reef had been mostly deserted when I was there. Getting shots without people in them at Arches took a great deal of patience.

Everyone and their brother had to get a shot of themselves sitting high up in the South Window. Several people passed me on the trail which ultimately meant more people to wait for. Red shirts, blue shirts, even fluorescent green, all eminently visible even a couple hundred feet away. Everyone should wear neutral colors! No white, no red, no blue. If they must mar your shot at least we can all be less intrusive about it. Since I had chosen to wear my khaki cargo shorts and a light grey t-shirt because of the heat and sun anyway, it didn't seem unreasonable. I even mentioned it to a couple of visitors, but I don't think I made any converts.

After much frustration, I finally got the shots I wanted and continued my hike.
North Window

view from North Window
("North Window" image available for sale as print, postage, cards, and other products at my shop.)

For my shot of both windows, I gave up on patience and resorted to creative framing, essentially lying on the ground to achieve an angle that would crop out any hikers. If I was going to enjoy my visit to this park, I would have to be more flexible.
North and South Windows
Back at my car, I ate some pretzels, drank some tea and decided to be less concerned with people-free photography, so I could be more present to enjoy the vistas.

I consulted my map and the park's newspaper with the tremendously useful guide of best times of day to shoot various arches. It was the wrong time of day to shoot the Double Arch, but it was nearby and I wanted to check it out anyway.

See? They were right. It was a terrible time of day to shoot the Double Arch, but I include it here for scale: note the tiny people at the bottom. (Click the picture to see a larger version.)
Double Arch and tiny people
A family was ahead of me as I climbed into the arch. I cradled my camera with my left hand while using the right for balance and leverage as the rock face got steeper. On a small ledge, I leaned back against the wall and watched as the daughter, about 10, casually climbed up and down to the base of the topmost arch. She stood above us all fearlessly.

view from Double ArchWhen the family was on their way down, I climbed up to where she'd been standing; I didn't. The other side of that narrow topmost base point was a sheer drop that cranked up my adrenaline. I was in awe of her. After some calming deep breaths, I took a few shots.

Then I found, as always seems to be the case, that getting down was going to be more difficult than climbing up. My right knee had been acting up again recently which meant I couldn't rely on it to hold my weight. I ended up keeping my back to the wall and sliding down a few feet until I hit a ledge I could walk on.

Back on level ground, I took some silhouette shots.
rock silhouette
("Desert Silhouette" image available as print, cards, postage, and other products at my shop.)

After seeing the famous Delicate Arch from afar, I drove into Moab to find some dinner and a place to stay.

(NEXT>>>)

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16 September 2006

Multiples of Eleven

I can't believe I'm going to be 33 on Tuesday which is odd since I've been thinking of myself as 33 for most of the summer. Tuesday it'll be true though. I'm probably the only person past 20 who mentally advances her age early just to get used to it. Strange that it seems to have had the opposite effect this year.

What is it about multiples of eleven? Third time out, something feels special about this one. Maybe it's because there's only two years left, and that feels like it just might be enough. Enough time to become the confident, together person I always thought I'd be by 35.

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15 September 2006

Out and about

this is an audio post - click to play
(run time 1:30)

The post I mention regarding donating my saxophone is here.

One year ago at TTaT: The screw could've been worse, The Selective Bookshelf
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14 September 2006

Coolness

Any diehard Buffy fan should recognize Jane Espenson's name from the writing credits of the series. Turns out she has a blog that she writes entirely herself and updates frequently.
My blog is intended to help new writers tackle the job of writing those all-important spec scripts -- from picking the right show to spec, to developing an idea, to getting that dialogue exactly right, to giving the script that professional look. Also, I discuss my lunch, just for the heck of it.
Entertaining and informative. Very cool.

One year ago at TTaT: It'd be nice...
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13 September 2006

Come, meet Augusten

35. Dry by Augusten Burroughs (4/5)

Young, talented, successful, and drunk: welcome to Augusten's world. That is, until his partner at the ad agency can't cope with covering for him anymore because his drinking is so out of control. When he agrees to go to rehab (it's that or be fired), he's ready to meet Robert Downey Jr. and amass some great stories for his drinking buddy, but he finds the reality quite different.

And then he's out, back in Manhattan with a stressful job surrounded by temptation.
Think of your head as an unsafe neighborhood; don't go there alone, Rae once said.
Initially, I wasn't sure how much interest I'd have in reading an alcoholic's struggle-to-get-sober story, but his writing, honesty, and sense of humor pulled me in right away.

His background, I think it's fair to say, is fairly bizarre: I'm looking forward to reading his other memoirs and I can't wait to see the film version of Running With Scissors in October.

My thanks to Voix for turning me onto this book.

One year ago at TTaT: Reading my mind
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12 September 2006

Recognition

I look like my mother. Sort of. That there's a noticeable resemblance I recognize is still a bit startling to me. I've heard it before some, but we're not one of those families that you look at and just know we're related. At my friend Splice's wedding, for example, it was a snap to pick out everyone from her father's side of the family.

Our resemblance is more subtle, much easier to discern perusing old photographs. When I was a teenager, I had my photo taken for a mock cover of Field & Stream for my grandfather. His friends often thought it was a shot of my mom, but then they often thought it was a real magazine cover too, so it was easy for me to dismiss. I still don't recognize it as much in that photo as I do now looking at photos of my mom as a young adult.

In some respects, I seem to have grown into her looks. Frankly, I find it a bit unnerving.

One year ago at TTaT: What was I just saying?, Robert Palmer Meets Bob Vila
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10 September 2006

Setting a body in motion

The number changes but the question of late is the same: what can I do in the next 9 days before my internal chronometer clicks over another year? It means starting right now, today, but somehow I'm not motivated to do much beyond the usual Sunday fare.

Shall I peruse the results of my checklist meme in the hopes of finding something I haven't done but want to that I can accomplish in 9 days? Does any of that matter enough to make a difference?

A difference in what is the real question. It feels sort of like trying to cram for a personality test, but I know it's real purpose: distraction. For the moment, it's working, keeping me from dwelling on my lack of direction and recent accomplishments which in the past couple years has triggered depressive slumps this month.

On the upside, I realize that the measurement of time is an artificial construct. Therefore, what I should really be asking myself is: what changes can I set in motion? and what do I want those changes to be? with less regard for arbitrary deadlines. After all as a deadline, age serves mainly as a way of ranking my life against those of others, and that really shouldn't matter.

One year ago at TTaT: Three Breaks: Part 5, Life in Piles
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07 September 2006

Five messages

When I turned on my cell today, I discovered I had 5 voice mail messages. I was a little concerned something bad had transpired to someone I know.

The female voice that tells me everything about my voice mail announced, "First message. Private and personal."

Private and personal? I'd never heard it say that before: I braced myself.

For... I'm not sure what. A pause, static, some sort of grunts made by a deep male voice, a female voice saying something in the background. I got the impression I was getting called by someone mentally challenged, but then there was a spate of Spanish from the male voice that I didn't understand and then click.

2nd message: shuffling, grunts, the female voice in the background encouraging the man holding the phone, "Go ahead." This time he spoke in measured English, "I need my clothes. Now!" There was more background noise; it seemed like he was waiting for her to tell him what to say or do next.

3rd message: Clearly, he's exasperated. He said something about having to be at a job, more shuffling and grunting, silence, then click.

4th message: several seconds of silence.

5th message: more silence.

Good grief, what is it with this cell phone number? And why is every wrong number some urgent message lately? I reckon the urgent-ness is why they ignore my voice and leave their messages anyway, but these persistent mumbling strangers are getting on my nerves.

Perhaps I'll change my outgoing message to: Hi, you've reached (---)--- ----. If you're not trying to reach Claire, kindly piss off.

One year ago at TTaT: Bonafide, Three Breaks: Part 1
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06 September 2006

The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 4

(Days: one, two, three)

20/viii/04: Torrey, UT and Capitol Reef National Park
another 25 miles/40 km or so exploring the park for another day

view of Capitol ReefIf the road is my favorite place, then spectacular national parks are a very close second. This was the view of Capitol Reef from outside my motel room. After tracking down the one room post office in Torrey to mail some postcards, I headed back to the park.

Capitol Reef is a park of diverse terrain. After the desert rock formations and wash trails of the previous day, I checked out some of the orchards where I met this deer. (Later, I encountered a mama and two baby deer crossing the street in front of me.)

Deer in orchardWhen the fruit's in season, you're welcome to eat as much as you like on site for free. For a small amount of money, you can pick boxes or crates of fruit to take with you. I was there slightly off-season, but I ate most of a slightly under-ripe pear anyway just to engage the experience of being there as fully as possible.

Rain showers were still passing through the region intermittently, but they didn't keep me from checking out the Anasazi petroglyphs.

After that I drove to the trail that lead to Hickman bridge. Since this would be a longer, more difficult hike than what I'd been doing, I waited in my car for the rain shower to pass. There were lots of black volcanic rocks on the hillside by the trail. The sky looked clearer above, but the winds kept shifting.
Trail to Hickman bridge Volcanic Rocks
The trail descended into a rocky ravine with gnarled dry trees and sandy sections along the lowest parts. Sometimes the ground level trail markers were far apart, but I could usually tell from other people's foot prints which way to go. Only the wide stretches of flat rock caused me trouble since they sometimes held no traces that I could discern; other times small cairns suggested the path.

On the underside of a large rock overhanging the once again ascending trail, I noticed lots of dried handprints made from red mud. I would've taken a shot of it because they made me smile, but it was overcast and too dark to get a decent shot. After blowing through four rolls of film the previous day, I was trying to be more selective about my shots.

After a while, the trail started to become significantly more difficult. The national park system has a rating guide for their trails; I'd been on a "moderate" trail which had quickly become a "strenuous" one. Since the guide had been accurate up until then, I was pretty sure I was off the trail. In addition, the Hickman bridge formation was nowhere in sight, and I'd been walking long enough that I should've reached it by then.

I climbed back down the way I'd come and paused at a flat plateau with a wide view of the horizon and took a couple shots. I could hear running water from the Fremont River, and I was able to pick out Route 24 which I'd driven to get here. It was a long way down.
terrain gets roughThen a lightning bolt struck in the distance amidst massive storm clouds, and I started counting my Mississippis, waiting for the thunder and trying to remember how many seconds equaled a mile. I felt so screwed.

I hoofed back the way I'd come and encountered a cairn blocking the trail I was on that hadn't been there before. A family of voices drew my attention the direction I should've gone initially. And there it was: Hickman bridge.
Hickman Bridge masked
I'd looked at it before, but I hadn't seen it in my own Indiana Jones leap of faith moment. (For scale, the two small white dots on the lower left are people.)

It wasn't raining yet, and I couldn't pass up hiking the short distance left now that I realized it was so close. A couple with three young children were taking pictures by the arch, and they were completely unconcerned by the booming thunder. The son wore a t-shirt that read: Peace, Love, Carbs. The mom was friendly, a real hiker, hippyish but only my age, mid-thirties at the oldest; she loved the idea of a cross-country trek. I was getting kind of freaked out by how loud the thunder was, so I took my shots and then started back at a quick clip.
Hickman Bridge
Hickman Bridge panoramic
I passed one of the girls on the trail, told her to "be careful," and then hauled ass so I could get through the ravine and back to higher ground before any downpour and possible flash flooding. Luckily for me and my cameras, it was only sprinkling by the time I made it back to my car.

(NEXT>>>)

One year ago at TTaT: The Wedge
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05 September 2006

Fun With Dead Trees debut

As some of you know, Kevin of Kapgar runs a book review site called Fun With Dead Trees. My reviews of Jane Fonda's My Life So Far and Geoff Dyer's The Ongoing Moment are my FWDT debut.

Since much of my book commentary focuses on my experience reading a particular book at a particular time, not every 'review' posted here will end up at FWDT, but the more traditional ones will. The site has a lot of different search options, so go check it out.

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34

The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer (3.5/5)

This one took me a while to read, but only because I needed intervals for all the details to sink in; I'm glad to own it. It's a history of photography arranged by photographic subjects. There are no chapters, just breaks, which facilitates a hypertext approach to reading the book which Dyer encourages. The next time I read it, I'll flip to a photo I like, read that section, and then flip to what that makes me think of next whether that's the next page or another section of the book.

He draws attention to the influence photographers have on one another (conscious or not), how certain subjects crop up in photos repeatedly over decades, and how some photographer's best shots look like they were actually shot by someone else. In this age of ubiquitous photography, the rapid-fire flashes of images, I find Dyer's ability to examine one photograph at a time, each in detail, refreshing. I'm accustomed to scanning photos quickly with simple like/dislike, good/bad judgments, but The Ongoing Moment made me slow down and really consider what I was looking at.

I'm looking forward to checking out more of the photographers' works from the bibliography.

One year ago at TTaT: Off-kilter, A year and some days
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03 September 2006

Keep your eye on the penguin

I came across this silly game* and am still amused enough by it that I felt compelled to share it here. My best score is currently 321. What's yours?

Also, if you're into sudoku, give this [adult swim] circular version a try.

*8/6/17: Hat tip to Melissa for noticing the game link was broken and sending me a link to it elsewhere on the interwebs!

One year ago at TTaT: After the flood came fire, Trivial in comparison
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01 September 2006

La Vida Lohan

I was taking a trip through Lohanland, and if I had to pen a travel article on my stay there, it would be one-word short, and in the diction of its indigenous people: "Whatever."
I came across the above link to this month's cover story for Elle at Bread and Bread where Cheryl aptly describes the interview as "showcas[ing] Lindsay Lohan's full, proud manic-ness." Go on, take a peek; you won't be able to look away.

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33

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy (3/5)
The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. This morning, for example, I felt as if I had come to myself on a strange island. And what does such a castaway do? Why, he pokes around the neighborhood and he doesn't miss a trick.

To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair. (p.13)
One year ago at TTaT: The fog is all internal
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