30 Mar 2012

You Really Missed Out, Now, Didn’t You.

Written by sally @ 3:45 pm — Section: sally

A couple of nights ago, I had the pleasure of sitting on a really uncomfortable chair in an auditorium at Millsaps and hearing a delightful reading/concert/something/whatever performed by the following three people:

–Wesley Stace/John Wesley Harding
–Rick Moody
–Joe Pernice

It is weird that these three folks were together, and also that they were in Jackson. Wesley Stace is the author of Misfortune, by George, Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer, and also he is John Wesley Harding, British indie pop singer/songwriter/hot guy. I loved Misfortune, I super loved by George, I started Charles Jessold but didn’t get into it and now I have misplaced it.

In high school, my now-gay non-boyfriend Jason asked if I liked John Wesley Harding. I said, “John Wesley Harding / he was a friend of mine.” Then he said “Great! He’s coming to RPM for an in-store.” I was confused, as I was talking about the Bob Dylan song. Then everyone blushed in the way that only now-gay non-boyfriends and their then-non-girlfriends can. Then when I lived in Starkville, I bought a couple of John Wesley Harding tapes (!) at Walls, the salvage store, and even though the cases were melted I really liked them! So then I felt bad about the whole in-store Bob Dylan debacle.

I have no history with Rick Moody other than I read The Ice Storm, I saw The Ice Storm, I enjoyed The Ice Storm, I bought several of his other books but didn’t read them.

And then there is my friend Joe Pernice. Frequent readers will know I love Joe Pernice. As a Pernice Brother, as a Scud Mountain Boy, as Joe Pernice, as backup harmonium player for Jimmy and the Whim-Whams, whatever. I was not so fond of his novel based on “Meat is Murder,” but that is a sacred musical document for me, and I think I expected too much. (I recently went to a book discussion about March, which I’ve already ranted about (code word: ENTRAILS), but some of the audience members were really torqued up about HOW DARE YOU PORTRAY MARMEE IN SUCH A WAY? Sacred documents are sacred documents.)

It felt special and magical that these folks were together on stage in essentially my backyard. I am at least 68% certain the power of my admiration brought them together.

Joe read from his second novel (which I’m not going to read in order to preserve our relationship!), which contained parts where the main character dried himself off from the shower with his dirty underwear, and then sang “Amazing Glow,” and the world was right for a moment. Then Rick Moody read from his essay collection On Celestial Music, and he was HILARIOUS AND AWESOME; he uses this fantastically faux serious reading voice, all boomy and trembly, and it was such fun to listen to. (The words “On Celestial Music” sound like it’s going to be boring and/or about classical music, but I promise it’s going to be something you like. He read a piece about “Try a Little Tenderness” and one about his hatred of drum machines.)

Then John Wesley Staceharding had his turn, and I was entranced. Pronounce “entranced” with a British accent and that more accurately describes things. Entronced. He was entroncing. He read from his new book, about a rock band that is repackaged as a kids’ band, and it sounds awesome and then he sang folk songs and Rick Moody sang harmonies. Then Joe Pernice sang “Goodbye Killer” and “Not the Loving Kind” and Wesley Johnstace sang more folk songs and then Johnley Westacing and Rick Moody did “In My Room” in German, which was like this (link SSFWINEF*).

Anyway! I think this is more of a diary entry than a blog post, but it was great, I had a good time, you should buy everyone’s books and records and everyone should just sit in the Millsaps auditorium and hope something else cool might happen again there some time in the future.

*so safe for work it’s not even funny

22 Mar 2012

Disjointed Blog Posts of the World, Unite and Take Over.

Written by sally @ 12:26 pm — Section: sally

I have heard the voice of evil, and it is the small town morning radio shows in central Mississippi. Yesterday, driving back from Hattiesburg, I heard a number of disturbingly bad radio people yukking it up, but two (separate!) ones back to back really got me: on one, the guy was making a joke about how lesbians don’t like to wear dresses (? I didn’t stay around to understand the joke) and on the other, someone was talking about Chinese food and the other guy said “ah so” and THEN THERE WAS A GONG SOUND EFFECT. I just — it made me want to be a total research emporiumist about the whole thing and find data on the demographics of the population, and then…well, there would be nothing TO do besides go “and see, 2.3% of that county is Asian!” or something. But anyway, if I live in Mississippi and I’M surprised at how dumb people are, geez, there is no hope for us.

I went to Garland last week for a whirlwind 15 hours in order to collect my child, who was hanging out with my mom for spring break, and I wasn’t there long enough to write an elegy for the town and its changes since I last lived there 20 (!) years ago, but I did see these two businesses near each other on Shiloh Road, and I thought YES, OF COURSE:
1. Decent Cleaners
2. Ok Food Mart

My mom took Spike to the library for story time while he was there, and I was strangely moved by the fact that my little boy was hanging out in the same library I used to go to. I remember so vividly spending time there, especially after my parents divorced; my dad would drop me off on his way to run errands and pick me up a couple of hours later. There were bean bags to read in and a couple of hamsters on top of a file cabinet. It’s probably a reflection of their poor weeding and selection policies that I read mostly crusty books from the 50s as a kid, but it’s also possible that I was just a weirdo and chose those books on purpose. When it was time for him to come back, I would sit on the steps outside and wait, and usually finish one of the books in my pile.

Oh hey, I finally read Lolita! It’s been on my list for awhile and I’ve never made it past page 40-ish or so. But this time I remained strong, and I’m glad I did; getting to the end lets you realize that Humbert is a lying nutbag and that all the gross stuff you’ve just read about how Dolly was a willing participant (yeah, at 12, but seriously, Humbert is so smooth you believe him for awhile!) was hooey, and then you feel much better. This is not a spoiler, as this book was published in 1955. In related news, today in a chat, gorjus referred to the book as “Lo-Town Rockers” and when I didn’t immediately pick up on the fact that that was supposed to be Lolita, he called me a goon. But anyway: Lolita is gross, yet perhaps the most gorgeously written book I’ve ever read. (I would have to reread One Hundred Years of Solitude to say for sure.)

I’ve just started Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. I didn’t expect to like it but WHOA right away it’s very compelling. Oh, and last night I read the Alice Munro story “Dimensions” from her Too Much Happiness collection, and it was just so painful and lovely I wanted you to know about it.

In related news, Spike’s favorite book right now is The Gruffalo.

8 Mar 2012

Recently Read.

Written by sally @ 11:13 am — Section: sally

I read Geraldine Brooks’s March last week for a program at work. (Poor me! Having to read novels for my job!) My mother-in-law has been encouraging me to read this for several years, starting first with “You should read this book” and then switching to sighing and saying, “Well, I know you’re probably never going to read this book…” and trailing off sadly. I can be a snob, but seriously, Civil War historical fiction. No thank you. So when I finally read it, I found it better than I thought, but it was still excrutiating. Not excrutiatingly bad or anything, but if you read it, please be prepared for:
–cruelty
–violence
–awfulness
–rinse
–repeat

And not to spoil anything for you, but at one point someone is hiding and the bad guys are all “hey come out or I’m going to chop this dude’s head off” and the guy whose head is on the line says “don’t come out I’m ready to meet Jesus!” and so the hider doesn’t move and then BOOM no head. And when the hider comes out later, THERE IS THE HEAD. Also, there are some children’s entrails lying about.

And yes: while I am aware that awful things happened, I just don’t want to read about them. (See also: children’s entrails written about in loving, gorgeous detail.) This is my argument against The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo AND Law and Order: SVU. I understand that rape and abuse happen, but in my limited amount of free time, I don’t want to fill my brain with those images! Murder is an exception. Run of the mill murder stories are a-ok, as long as women and children aren’t the targeted audience. Murder equality across the land! (PS: Rick Santorum probably wants take away women’s right not to get murdered.)

So anyway, if you don’t mind a little historically accurate gore, you might like this book. Geraldine Brooks is married to Tony Horwitz, who wrote the excellent (and gore-free!) Confederates in the Attic, which is much more my speed, Civil War-wise.

This week I’ve been reading Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot, which I love. Love love. I love his other books, but reading this one, I feel like he wrote it for me. (See last post re: the reason I was an English major.) I only have 50 pages until the end, and unless everyone gets eaten by zombies, I feel certain I am going to continue loving it. (My only complaint is that at one point, he describes someone wearing a Cosby sweater, only the book is set in 1982 and those sweaters are really a Heathcliff Huxtable thing, which didn’t start until 1984. I kind of hate myself for focusing on this unimportant detail, but seriously, use the Wikipedia.)

7 Mar 2012

Speak It.

Written by sally @ 9:09 am — Section: sally

“And yet sometimes she worried about what those musty old books were doing to her. Some people majored in English to prepare for law school. Others became journalists. The smartest guy in the honors program, Adam Vogel, a child of academics, was planning on getting a Ph.D. and becoming an academic himself. That left a large contingent of people majoring in English by default. Because they weren’t left-brained enough for science, because history was too dry, philosophy too difficult, geology too petroleum-oriented, and math too mathematical — because they weren’t musical, artistic, financially motivated, or really all that smart, these people were pursuing university degrees doing something no different from what they’d done in first grade: reading stories. English was what people who didn’t know what to major in majored in.”

–Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot, page 21

6 Mar 2012

Give Me a Break; I Haven’t Posted in Weeks.

Written by sally @ 2:37 pm — Section: sally

If you are a fan of confusing yourself on purpose to the extent that you can no longer remember the way things were supposed to be before you told yourself the wrong thing just to see if you could make yourself think that way, this exercise is for you.

A few months ago I was in the elevator at work and to amuse myself (on that 30 second ride — you know Generation X-ers gotta be entertained, yo) I was looking at the arrow buttons. I read somewhere that the DOOR CLOSE and DOOR OPEN buttons are actually a sham, that they exist to make us feel better about standing in a mechanical box. So I was looking at the buttons, and it occurred to me that while they look like this:

it is also possible to pretend that the straight up and down parts of the triangles represent the doors themselves, and so the traditional CLOSE button actually means OPEN and the OPEN button means CLOSE. Just look at for a moment. See how the up and down parts are far away from each other on CLOSE? Why, that means OPEN, obviously. And see how the up and down parts are close together on OPEN? Yep. CLOSE.

So while I understand this is not, in fact, how elevators work, I have gotten into the habit of looking at these in every elevator I get into, and having a little “Oh ho ho, that CLOSE is really an OPEN ho ho” moment, only now, when I get into an elevator, I CAN’T REMEMBER WHICH IS WHICH, which also reminds me of how I periodically get into the habit of amusing myself by reading words backwards, and once in college I accidentally said something about Sivle, and my boyfriend was all “do what now” and that was so entertaining I refused to tell him who Sivle was, and then finally I confessed that it was Elvis.

PS: I just went into the elevator to make sure I had it right, and not only are the buttons round and not square (what kind of janky square-button elevator exists in my dreams?), but they also do not say CLOSE or OPEN or HI THERE or SIVLE. So while this exercise was stupid, it was not, in fact, as stupid as I thought it was when I began this post. The Oh Really: Making Me 5% Less Stupid Since, Like, 2005 or Something.