31 December 2006

The books of 2006

These are the books I read during 2006 in chronological order. The rating system has been changed from last year's -, /, + to a scale of 0 to 5. With all the possible books to read out there, I try to stick to things I'd rate 3+, but there are a few comics that I decided to read before I got rid of them that scored lower.

Ratings 0-5 (predominantly subjective)
<2.5 = Generally not worth reading or finishing
2.5 = Fair: didn't seem like a waste of time to read once
3 = Good: enjoyed reading it once
4 = Very Good: would read it more than once, found it objectively good, or might want to own a copy
5 = Excellent: as good as it gets

1. Setting Your Genius Free: How to Discover Your Spirit and Calling by Dick Richards (2.5/5)

2. My Life So Far by Jane Fonda (4/5)

3. Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs (The Story of Egyptology) by Barbara Mertz (3.5/5)

4. Twelfth Night, or What You Will by William Shakespeare (3/5)

5. Hieroglyphics: The Writings of Ancient Egypt by Maria C. Betr├│ (3.5/5)

6. Introducing Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Barbara Watterson (4/5)

7. The Vagina Monologues (The V-Day edition) by Eve Ensler (5/5)

8. Necessary Targets: A Story of Women and War by Eve Ensler (3.5/5)

9. Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters (4/5)

10. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (4/5)

11. Speak, Memory (An Autobiography Revisited) by Vladimir Nabokov (2.5/5)

12. The Blue Suit: A memoir of crime by Richard Rayner (3/5)

13. They Wanted a Louder Gun by Richard Portman (4/5) reread

14. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein (4/5)

15. Griffin & Sabine by Nick Bantock (4/5) reread

16. Sabine's Notebook by Nick Bantok (4/5) reread

17. The Golden Mean by Nick Bantok (4/5) reread

18. Rogue X-Men Limited Series Vol.1 #1 Jan. 1995 (1/5)

19. Tales of the Marvels-Blockbuster Vol.1 #1 April 1995 (2/5)

20. Rose by Li-Young Lee (4/5) reread

21. Slam the Door Gently: The Making and Unmaking of a Female Scientist by Ruth Ann Bobrov Glater, Ph. D. (3/5)

22. The Uncanny X-Men Vol.1 #300 May 1993 (2.5/5)

23. X-Men Unlimited Vol.1 #4 March 1994 (3.5/5)

24. The Uncanny X-Men Vol.1 #310 March 1994 (2.5/5)

25. Cable Vol.1 #1 May 1993 (2/5)

26. The Amazing Spider-man Vol.1 #375 March 1993 (3/5)

27. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (4/5)

28. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (4/5) reread

29. Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding & Correcting Common Dog Problems by Cesar Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier (3.5/5)

30. I, the Divine by Rabih Alameddine (3.5/5)

31. The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare (2.5/5)

32. Like the Red Panda by Andrea Seigel (3/5)

33. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy (3/5) reread

34. The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer (3.5/5)

35. Dry by Augusten Burroughs (4/5)

36. Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre and Elsewhere by Michael Kimmelman (4/5) reread

37. Don't Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff (4.5/5)

38. Life Interrupted: The Unfinished Monologue by Spalding Gray (4/5)

39. Evidence 1944-1994 by Richard Avedon (4.5/5)

40. Prisoner of Trebekistan: a decade in Jeopardy! by Bob Harris (4/5)

41. Brandt: The Photography of Bill Brandt by Bill Brandt (4/5)

42. Diane Arbus by Diane Arbus (2.5/5)

43. Brassaï: The Eye of Paris by Anne Wilkes Tucker with Richard Howard and Avis Berman (3/5)

44. Diane Arbus: Revelations by Diane Arbus (3/5)

45. Portraits by Richard Avedon (3/5)

46. East of the Sun and West of the Moon illus. by Kay Nielsen (4/5)

47. Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (4/5)

One year ago at TTaT: Books - 2005
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When I got out of bed- reluctantly- today, it felt and looked like the world was spinning. It is, of course.

I wasn't up atypically late (at least not for me), hadn't been drinking or anything, but the day is still awash with low-level dizziness. Not the first time, undoubtedly not the last. Sensitive sinuses and weather changes: I chalk it up to that.

It makes me wonder if we all had consistent sensational awareness of our planetary motion, if we'd view ourselves and our place(s) in the universe differently, and whether that would be better or worse.

One year ago at TTaT: Page-a-day's end, Books - 2005

30 December 2006

I will

Regular readers of TTaT know that I began a tale of one of my cross country journeys this summer. I started it in July, and it's still not done. The story had a mass larger than my own, and it soon swallowed me. Every so often I would spit out another day's worth of travel, but I've been stuck at Day 11 since mid-November.

That's when the trip changed its character. That also begins the stretch that has far less photography to fall back on and includes a couple elements I'm reluctant to discuss for the sake of friendship and privacy. I haven't felt like writing that week, haven't much cared about finishing. I've pondered ways to condense it into one post, to skim over that which feels like a huge tone shift from the rest of the saga. I've wondered if I hadn't put finishing it on a massive to-do list of mine if I'd be bothered by its current state as much, if I could just leave it.

But it's on the list, and as something I've already invested so much time in, it feels close to done. I need to finish it even though in some respects I've ceased to care about it and don't think anyone else does. Slam out an end, cross it off the list: I could do that, but if I'm going to do it, I want more for it. I want it to be worth reading.

So it's coming. I don't know that it will be done before the end of the year, but soon, because I need it to be done.

Hmm. I feel like I've just raised expectations for the ending instead of amping up my motivation to write it.

Um, never mind.

One year ago at TTaT: Latest fortune
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29 December 2006

The tree is still standing...

...but DDR is really best played on a ground floor, by which I mean literally one in direct contact with earth. I'd had hopes I could set up shop upstairs, and I did try it, but the level of shake and shimmy occurring to every shelf-held item even with my lightest steps made me very leery. I have those folding shelves that you can stack to form one tall unit, and I envisioned the top half crashing into the large sideboard with the tv and my new PS2.

So... to the finished basement along with the exercise equipment it is. It tends to be chilly down there, but it doesn't take long to warm up. I've gotten more exercise this week than I probably have in the past couple months, and I definitely had much more fun doing so. Good times.

One year ago at TTaT: Sometimes it's not helpful to know what you want
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27 December 2006

The Returns

I stopped asking for clothes as gifts years ago (except for SmartWool socks) because it was generally fruitless for all involved: namely, mom and me. This doesn't stop her from trying though, and once every other blue moon, she finds something I love: the French cuff rayon shirt with light blue, black, and cream diamonds that remind me of Q-bert; the blue zip-up fleece hoodie I wear all the time; and the navy cotton sweater. On the other hand, there's the white and black rayon blouses that you have to unbutton at the back of the neck to put on that certainly make a fine building block for a mature wardrobe but are not me, and several years later still have the tags on.

This year, there was a baffling pair of sweat pants. She pointed out that they didn't have a drawstring with satisfaction, and I couldn't remember ever having minded drawstrings: I didn't like elastic waistbands. More baffling to me is the fact I haven't worn sweat pants in probably a decade. Don't get me wrong: I'm a casual dresser, just not sweat pants casual. These were nice with pockets, a zip front, and the flap with the button you have to do on the inside of the pants... just not me. I was in the process of convincing myself that I'd actually wear them sometimes, but Mom knew better and already returned them. She knows buying clothes for me is hit or miss, mostly miss, but I still feel badly about it; I want to like what she gets me.

And then there's the polartec fleece jacket which was mostly awesome except that the hood is uncomfortably short for me, and I already have a light-weight version in almost the same blue. Stupid short-necked people. L.L. Bean has tall size options for a bunch of stuff, but not this. The next size up might work, but there's no store near here, and I don't blame my mom for not wanting to deal with another potential return. Besides, I'd be tempted to get it in men's since they offer it in red, but I'd really need to try it on for the fit. It just bums me out when clothes I like don't quite work, particularly when they are gifts. No wonder I have such an aversion to clothes shopping.

One year ago at TTaT: Thank yew
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26 December 2006


Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (4/5)

I told you about his amazing book Dry. Running With Scissors is the autobiography of his childhood that precedes it. Extreme, funny, disturbing and riveting. For 99 of 100 people who say they had a fucked up childhood, I would feel comfortable saying that theirs was nothing compared to his. At the very least, few people's could be as bizarre. I mean, how many people end up living with their mother's psychiatrist and his eccentric family? Or are given complete freedom at 13?

The movie is a good adaptation of the book though some aspects are simplified, some tamed for an R rating, everyone's better looking, and it's given a neater film ending. If you want to see it, I'd watch it first and then read the book for more detail. Then read Dry.

One year ago at TTaT: Outdated help
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24 December 2006

A Charlie Brown Christmas

You can listen to most of the soundtrack here for free. Yea Hype Machine! "Linus and Lucy" is the quintessential Peanuts track.

Merry Xmas!

One year ago at TTaT: Santa tracker
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23 December 2006

It's that time of year again...

...for the 2006 World's Strongest Man competition.

Tonight on ESPN2

Bring it!


I'm dreaming of a...

I don't know about y'all, but here, it's warm. Not warm warm since it's only in the 40s or 50s, but warm in an I-believe-in-global-warming sort of way. All of which is to say: no snow. Even the grass is still green, which is a bit disturbing for this time of year.

I can't do anything about the weather like Holman Hardt, but I can at least share some snows past. Enjoy!

snowy stairs
snow covered branches
snow covered bush
Ice formation
ice creek
snow covered vines

One year ago at TTaT: Show more leg?, An actual fortune
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22 December 2006

I hate my printer

Really. It scans fine, but that's about it these days. Having recently replaced all the ink, it no refuses to print cyan or yellow, and today, no black. Trusty black just up and said, screw you!

All the more irritating because it was just after 4 and I was trying to print a letter I wanted to mail, time just ticking away. And darkness growing and rain becoming heavier. Cleaned the print heads, did the nozzle check (having done both several times last week) to no avail. After getting a faint black copy from the highest quality setting my printer has, I exported my file as a word doc so I could print it from my dad's computer.

Of course, for an unknown reason, the formatting was just a hair off making it 2 pages instead of one. I had to compromise even though the margins and font were the same. Just ticks me off.

Stupid blurry windshield full of light streaks from evening traffic. Took back roads on the way home which being darker, made it easier to see. People's xmas lights were more vibrant in the wetness.

Could've been worse. A couple degrees cooler and it would've been sleet.

One year ago at TTaT: Note to self
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21 December 2006

Solstice time

Happy Saturnalia
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I thought I only had 2 left

Dudes, it sucks when the finish line moves. For the past couple months, I've been steadily importing scanned rolls into iPhoto, relabeling them with my date/roll archive system, deleting duds or variants that aren't as good, sorting them into albums, and working on a digital portfolio of my best.

This has been rather time consuming since it involves all rolls for which I have scans dating back to July 1999. I've done 72 so far: rolls. What's 72x25? Ah, 1800. And it'd be more than that because some rolls were 36ers. You get the idea.

Newer rolls have files annoying labeled 1,2,3,4,...- essentially the same as many other rolls if taken from their folder context, so that's necessitated even more relabeling. I thought I only had 2 rolls left to import, but the closer I got to doing them, the more certain I was that something wasn't right.

I must've been overwhelmed at the beginning because I declined to save at least 8 rolls from 2005 to my computer. None of this even touches all the earlier photos which will also need to be scanned, as well as the photos from my portfolio-in-progress which will need to be rescanned at a higher resolution once I've narrowed them down to a reasonable number; I just thought I was going to be done with this part of it today, and it's really not going to happen.

Also, my old iPhoto 4 has been crashing. I think it's just not cut out for this photo volume. I guess I'll wait until iLife '07 comes out to upgrade since I can't just upgrade one program of the suite for less... Grrr.

Sometimes it really doesn't pay to be a perfectionist.

One year ago at TTaT: To the readers, lurkers (hey!), and passersby, Oddity
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20 December 2006

Looking for cheer?

Don't forget to check out The 2006 Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert kindly hosted by Neil.

No singing from me, but I did send along a pic of Saturnalia greetings.

One year ago at TTaT: Non-binding estimate

19 December 2006

Previously un-freakin'-heard of

Barring any unforeseen gift needs, I'm done. I was actually done shopping over a week ago, and today I'm done wrapping. Packages that needed to be mailed have been, and I'm even under budget by like a dollar and a half. As long as I resist the urge to buy more stuff because there's still time, I'm good.

This is so very much unfamiliar territory.

Even my wrapping mojo seems to have returned, though I attribute that mostly to cutting the paper so there's not much excess (absolutely key) and working on a table instead of the floor.

One year ago at TTaT: the anticlimax (plus tips), $482.55, Detach
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17 December 2006

Level-headed and responsible

Season 6 is probably my least favorite season of Buffy because the main characters all screw up so badly. For characters I'm so fond of, it can be hard to watch. Nonetheless, back in the summer, I started rewatching the whole series in order from the beginning, and here I am in the middle of season 6.

There's an episode where they talk about perpetually level-headed and responsible people being the ones you have to be most concerned about, the ones most likely to blow up. Human nature.

I recognize myself in that comment, but I feel like it's been more of an implosion. Affecting others very little, making it easy to ignore and making it easy for me to wallow in this state predominantly unchallenged.

One year ago at TTaT: Mall venture: audioblog #16
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15 December 2006


East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North illustrated by Kay Nielsen (4/5)

Norwegian folk tales with spectacular illustrations (just scroll down). The tales are familiar: rooms that shouldn't be entered while someone is away that just can't be resisted followed by pleading for forgiveness and second and third chances. Things turn out all right in these, but it makes me wonder about their message- it's certainly not heeding someone's command under pain of death. Also quite a bit of torture, violence, people who are really trolls, treasure, and royal weddings.

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14 December 2006


Portraits by Richard Avedon (3/5)

If I pick up the pace in these last couple weeks, I could still make 50 this year. Hmm. Not so important really... if it happens, it happens. I've got a few books waiting for me at the library as I type.

What else? Have you seen the Dunkin Donuts ad about ordering things simply instead of in French or Italian, or the punchline Fra-talian? I feel like yelling every time I see it. "Latte" is an Italian word.

Also, has anyone switched to blogger beta yet without ill effect? I've seen some grumblings about comment posting post-switch but no raves. Blogspot is stepping up their efforts to get people to convert, and I'm wondering if there's any real boon to doing so.

One year ago at TTaT: Night disturbances
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12 December 2006

Bad equation

Up later => less sleep = nausea

Actually, that's more of a theorem than an equation, but you get the idea. My body responds to not enough sleep by acting hungover without having had any of the good drunk times (or any alcohol for that matter). Blah.

Watching a couple eps of Buffy made me feel better though. If you have any Buffy-obsessed buds, season 7 is only $16.99 this week at BestBuy. That's a great price, just shy of 50% off.

One year ago at TTaT: Some progress
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10 December 2006


i feel like breaking things

but there's nothing here i can break

that i won't have to clean up

writing usually helps but...
maybe some aggressive guitar playing... singing... NOISE

One year ago at TTaT: A bit of business from last year...
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06 December 2006

Wrapping faux-pas

At the moment I had one piece of tape left to finish affixing the wrapping paper, I realized I hadn't checked the box for a price tag. D'oh! It was too tightly wrapped to slide the box back out and took quite a bit of paper, so I didn't want to have to start over from scratch.

Is it terrible that I'm justifying leaving a possible tag with the fact that my niece can't read yet? I hope I don't end up on Santa's Naughty list for taking the easy route. It's possible there isn't even a tag on it. If I had x-ray vision, I wouldn't be having this problem.

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the other side of Santa

I was at the mall doing some shopping yesterday and as I walked through the center of the mall, I thought maybe they didn't have Santa. I almost missed him entirely because he was at the far end of the mall in front of Sears, an odd stretch that is perpetually darker than the rest of the mall. No line, no kids. Just Santa chillin' with his (or possibly hers to be honest) photographing helper, looking kind of bummed. Not exactly with the perky holiday cheer making.

Later on, Mom pointed out that Santa was set up by the toy store which makes sense. It's just in this particular mall, that's the quietest and least frequented part of it. The food court, movies, and the still fairly new Target are all on the opposite end.

When I walked by Santa later, someone was getting set up for a photo and the energy seemed more upbeat which seemed good.

I was never much into sitting on Santa's lap when I was little. However, England Brothers (when it still existed, a department store from our pre-mall days) had an animatronic reindeer you could talk to which I loved. Maybe Rudolph or Prancer, I'm not sure. Much less stressful than interacting with some strange hairy guy. And at the time it made more sense to me; Santa had toys to make and lists to check after all, while the reindeer just had time to kill before the big night.

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Owls really are nocturnal

It was after 2:30 last night. I'd shut off the light, climbed into bed, closed my eyes. And then I heard an owl. So as not to be mistaken for something else, it hooted again. And again, and again. Eventually, it got what I think was a reply. There was an exchange and then the hooting receded as they flew somewhere else. Just as well, I hadn't really wanted to be up that late in the first place.

One year ago at TTaT: Beauty Parlor Nostalgia (part 2)
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04 December 2006

Cheapest coffee in LA and other [mis]adventures

So... lately I've been moody and preoccupied; the inspiration to write has been lagging. However, that just means it's time to dust off some pre-TTaT writing. Here's a couple days from my West coast life surrounding a moment of detour.

From May 3, 2003:

9 cents a cup. No joke. And it's good. Get it with cream. Corner of Ord and Alameda downtown. Philippe, the original French dip Sandwich. It's a converted boarding school, been open as a cafeteria style restaurant since 1908. Awesome. Split a ham and bleu cheese dip sandwich with O. Great lemonade too. Sawdust on the ground floor. Long tables like school and small halls and study-like rooms upstairs. Hooks on the wall to hang coats. Very mellow, cool place. Brick walls with names written all over them, dates, etc. Yeah, graffiti, but the names are pretty much self-contained to each brick, so there's a cool uniformity.

Also walked through Chinatown exploring with O which was cool. Even played some DDR, he'd never seen it. Only fifty cents too. Well, I played anyway and passed all 3 songs [even a 5 foot]. Woohoo.

Went to a great restaurant with O last night, Cha Cha Cha on Virgil. Cuban-Caribbean. The Salmon Negro was awesome. Loved the plantains too.

So yeah, still in LA. I had planned to head North today towards SF but got into an accident last night that crunched my car. I'm fine as are the other drivers. Wasn't my fault but will skip details till insurance stuff is sorted out. So anyway, will be here a bit to deal with this and get it fixed. Driveable but not pretty. And figure other drivers have insurance local to here so should be easier to get fixed here. Chillin' at O's tonight and heading to Rob, Paul, and John's tomorrow as Paulie's in Ireland now.

Went to a great Ansel Adams exhibit with Misho at LACMA yesterday. Awesome. And we got to see the tar pits! The tar bubbling up on the sidewalk with sandbags around it was almost more cool than the lake with the fake woolly mammoths. Figures they'd make it the mom stuck in the pit with dad and baby looking on. Misho poked around in it a bit with a stick. (Gotta love boys.) A random trumpet player on the other side really set the mood.

One year ago at TTaT: Sitting on my desk for months
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02 December 2006

Note to self

When a Frito is dark brown as though it's been burnt, don't be surprised when it tastes burnt.

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Diane Arbus by Diane Arbus, edited and designed by Doon Arbus and Marvin Israel (2.5/5)

Her photography mostly didn't grab me, though I found her people interesting, but it's a nicely designed book comprised of full-page photos. A few shots did make me stop: A flower girl at a wedding, Conn. 1964; A Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx, N.Y. 1970; Triplets in their bedroom, N.J. 1963; The King and Queen of a Senior Citizens Dance, N.Y.C. 1970; and Muscle man contestant, N.Y.C. 1968.

One year ago at TTaT: Shameless plug? Um, yeah...
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