Day 86-- on cozy spaces (and other things)

My new place is modestly sized. I like that. My new room is actually sort of small. I also like that. I like little places where I can curl up, grab a book and feel like the walls are keeping me company. If I have too much space, I'm bound to fill it with junk; if I have very little space, I'm bound to keep it clean. I've made a few trips to my room, skipping out of BFC&T on my lunch break and lugging boxes of books from my car trunk, up the stairs, into my lair. I love it in there. I keep thinking of cleaning out the window sill, possibly hanging Christmas lights, framing Ansel Adams photos to dot the walls.

On the coffee shop front, today went from miserable (late getting there, massive sinus headache, bad mood) to joyous (had a blast with Russ/Bethany/Charlie/Megan/Tammy/Anne/baby Olivia, had the much-anticipated countertop installed, got all of our beans, got our blender, calibrated the espresso machine settings). I can't say enough at how happy I am with our employees; not only are they funny, hard-working and smart, but they're all showing signs of having servant's hearts. It was like everything clicked at once today, and it left me swooning.

Well, swooning until I worked at the mall afterward. I fell asleep standing up again.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/30/2006 10:52:00 PM, ,

Day 85-- on a particular hard-to-find movie that I want to watch, but can't

It's called Stars in My Crown. A few trustworthy sources said that this is a lovely, beautiful movie that must be watched by fans of cinema (raising hand!), especially Christian cinema fans (raising hand!).

It was filmed by Jacques Tourneur, a well-respect, humane, quiet and joyous director who basically used all of his money to get the film made, resulting in him making enemies in the Hollywood studios because the film LOST money in the box office. Tourneur is well-known for some of his subtle horror and noir films, like Out of the Past, Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie, and Night of the Demon (considered by many to be the best horror film made, period).
Enough backstory. Stars in My Crown was not a hit. The possibility of it being release on DVD in my lifetime is very, very slim. I mean, have you heard of it before now? It is available on VHS, but it's long out-of-print. And, judging from the current asking price on Amazon...I'll hold off on getting the cassette tape. (Check out those reviews, though! Wow!)

I've culled my spending on movies and books and CDs to almost nil; this is good! But it seems like when I do want to search for a movie or whatnot that I'd like to own, it's either rare or--like in this case--basically nonexistent. But I will remain patient--it took over ten years for one of my favorite movies to get the DVD treatment, so waiting a tad more won't hurt.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/29/2006 11:10:00 PM, ,

Day 84

Hey, I guess as of today I'm living on College Hill (though I'm not moved in yet). This is something I've been praying for years and it sort of sidled up, quiet-like.

Oh, and T.J. basically eliminated the worry I had built up today with two simple sentences. If you read this, know how thankful I am.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/28/2006 11:37:00 PM, ,

Day 83

Today was weird and wacky, much like a riotous birthday party held at Ground Round when you're seven. We did some training for the BFC&TCo. employees, which rocked. I drove to Butler to take the food safety course exam (we need that for the coffee shop), and that didn't rock. Especially since I was going 8 miles over the speedlimit, and people--everyone, I think--zipped by me at close to 30 miles over. Keep in mind that this is a two-lane state route with lots of traffic lights.

But in a way, the part of the day that sticks with me the most is what I did at the end. I drove to the Half-Price Books in Robinson Twp. to find some inexpensive books for Biffy, to provide reading material (and possibly buying material) for patrons. I found a nice stack of hardcovers in the clearance section, and got a great copy of one of my favorite books too. I was surprised at how shrewd I was in selecting books, too; I wanted several other books, but wouldn't settle for the askin' price. I thought about what was available, what I would like to see on a shelf, and so on. In a sense, I saw some of these questions drift away, to the future into distant, bright possibilities.

So it was a fun day, capped off with something that filled me with hope. But the best part was still training; I'm quite excited to see our staff learn. They're all great people, and I'm thankful and grateful that they even considered applying.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/27/2006 10:21:00 PM, ,

Day 82-- on folk music

Folk music is quite interesting. If still-shots of scenes from A Mighty Wind are flooding your mind, good. The most broad definition of folk music is the sort of thing the common man plays, removed from the realm of popular music, highlighting the fears/dreams/thoughts of these people. It's hard to pin down an exact definition, as most folk historians make sure to note.

And I do like American folk music. But I've had a growing interest in some of the traditional music from other countries, especially European ones. I really don't know much, but I'm looking for a place to start learning about it. I guess Wikipedia'll be the place to go for now.

Here are some interesting articles:

-Sea shanty
-urban folk
-a list of European folk music traditions
and, within that
-polka (Czech--yes, not Polish)
-mazurka (Polish)
-bolero (Spanish)

Of course, there are countless folk music traditions from around the globe. Off the top of my head, there are several Asian and African stylings that I've heard and loved, but don't know what to call 'em.

So, celebrate folk music. I'm interested in learning to play button-box accordion (really!), and would like to start a small mazurka band some day. Anyone else want to join me?

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/26/2006 08:36:00 PM, ,

Day 81

Well, on to something more trivial, I guess. Can you hear those crickets? I can.

We had an author signing at the bookstore yesterday. I won't use a name. She's local, and her books sell a lot. She has quite a fanbase in the area. I'm very supportive of her in this aspect; she's even been mentioned as "someone to watch" for in literature publications. It's great to have a local author that sells like this, and has the support of the local populace.

Problem: her work is terrible. I'm not being cruel. Well, maybe. But it's pretty bad. Everyone has their own tastes, you say. Let them be! OK. But her writing is still $20 worth of vanity-printed cliche.

How do you draw the line? It's great to say, "I want to support good local writers." But we have a local author who is making an impact, but with poopy fiction. I want to support her, but I don't.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/25/2006 09:13:00 PM, ,

Day 80

Black Friday had been a snap. Then I got home. No one was around--my parents out of the house past 9 p.m. is something that does not happen.

I check the answering machine. Nothing. No notes. I called my folks' cell phone on a whim; they normally don't have it on. My dad answers. Turns out my grandmother fell down, and they were loading her onto an ambulance.

My grandfathers on both sides of the family died when I was young. My dad's mom died in the 1960s, when she was a young woman. In other words, the grandmother who fell--my mom's mom--is the only grandparent I have that's living.

My dad said she'd be OK, but she had to be bribed by volunteer firefighters to be placed on the stretcher. (Turns out that you have to go willingly; if not, it's legally kidnapping.) She's incredibly stubborn, my dad says, something I inherited (he couldn't resist tossing that in there, in reference to the whole Catholic/Protestant thing). It took them four hours to convince her to go.

So I'm sitting here, listening to sad Tom Waits songs and drinking Warsteiner. She's a fairly reclusive Polish-American. I speak to her rarely, and see her even less. She's always been brief with me, never really learned much about me. She cuts conversations short and keeps phone calls to 40 seconds. I feel like a stranger to her, despite efforts to make us closer. But I love her. She's beautiful, kind, loving. She loves to watch birds and garden, the latter having become something she loves to do in theory since she can't walk well. She's written thousands of poems. She's published some, and the sing-songy lines she sends every year for my birthday is far more valuable than any amount of money she puts with it. And I'll never forget how she calls to sing "Happy Birthday" to me every year, her pretty voice cracking slightly with age.

She'll probably be OK when she gets to the hospital, but I really worry and pray about her these days. She's in her mid-80s. It's her birthday today, even. Maybe we'll become closer with the time she has left.

I trying not to make this sound overly sentimental, but things like this can really shake up what you take for granted.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/24/2006 10:57:00 PM, ,

Day 79

Tomorrow is Black Friday. I'm working at Borders Express from 2 'til 10. I used to have fun in the past, but now I'm just dreading it. Maybe it's because customers have become increasingly hostile this past year, or because the blatant consumerism will make my head spin.

Regardless, I'm going to do everything in my power to get people to buy all of the Flannery O'Conner, Tim O'Brien, and Graham Greene books I ordered in for the store. Here goes nothin'.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/23/2006 11:35:00 PM, ,

Day 78-- on the joys of coffee

Russ summed it up well. It's wonderful to finally see the Warren's dream (a dream they've invited me to join in, for which I am endlessly thankful) take this step. So much work has been done to get us where we are, and several hours worth of work can change things so drastically.

With the help of LaPrima wiz David, we got our espresso machine, drip brewer and grinders up and running. It might seem like a small step, but we went from being a house with nice lighting and woodwork to a double-fisted coffee-making hub. (Right, clunky sentence.) I was shaking with joy to watch Russ and Bethany pull their first shots of espresso (and after a few tries, I would've paid money to drink the results--hopefully others will too). It was wonderful to watch Anne and Charlie take in what they could out of pure interest. And it was great to froth milk and pour it into a nice, wide-mouthed mug, espresso waiting with open arms inside. For the record, T.J.'s beans blow me away.

Thank You, Lord God, for friends. Thank You for Beaver Falls. And thank You for coffee.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/22/2006 11:06:00 PM, ,

Day 77-- Blood Meridian

Cormac McCarthy rarely gives interviews to begin with; he's never done any for this book. From what I hear, he wants readers to draw conclusions on their own. I applaud that. I also wish, however, that I wasn't so frustrated by that.

But that might make this book one I'll pick up in a few years and see what I can pull from it. Blood Meridian (or, the Evening Redness in the West) is definitely a book that I CANNOT recommend with ease. I think this is the first book that I've read that I can say that about with seriousness. I used to think that way about many of James Ellroy's novels, but his debauched scenarios play out like an after-school TV special compared to this. As disturbing at the book was, though, I liked it. Well, nix that--I didn't like it, because it's a book that one can't really enjoy. I appreciated it, perhaps, and it left a photorealistic image etched in the back of my mind that I won't shake for decades.

The book follows a nameless protagonist, referred to as "the kid" throughout the book, as he leaves home and eventually joins a band of scalphunters on the Mexico-American border during the 1850s. This isn't a revisionist western, really--it's more of a "dark history," using a few real characters and painting a harsh, unforgiving view of a band of mercenaries that slowly lose control. The book is brutal, make no mistake. I had to set it aside on more than one occasion. Interesting, McCarthy's knack with language never lays it out entirely, and much of the violence is covered with a veil of words.

The main antagonist is an enigmatic member of the scalphunters named Judge Holden, a towering renaissance man that dances and fiddles with aplomb, talks astrology and alchemy, and...murders women and children, friend and foe. One of the most unnerving aspects is how he is constantly sketching things he finds--leaves, vistas, animals--because he can't stand them existing without his knowing. He seems not quite human in the book, which I think is intentional. He's the most vile character I've seen in literature, and because of him alone many folks consider this book a "horror" novel.

McCarthy is probably the best living American writer (I'm not saying that as hyperbole), a fusion of Faulknerian wording with Melville's stylism. He loaded Blood Meridian with allusions and metaphor, so much that I missed much of the thematic qualities out of sheer ignorance. There are many Gnostic references--the judge and his thirst for knowledge especially--as there is a constant, looming suggestion that mankind doesn't just sometimes fall headfirst into despicable violence, but lurches for it and thirsts for it.

The book's ending is non-traditional and horrifying, a dance of prose that is as frightening as it is beautiful, but the epilogue suggests--ever so slightly--hope. Hope and change. Maybe McCarthy could've been more obvious with it. And in knowing that, I can't tell my friends "you should read this." But as depressing and harrowing as it was, I got something out of it.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/21/2006 11:37:00 PM, ,

Day 76-- local eateries

Audience participation time--

Tell us about a local restaurant that you really enjoy. It CAN'T be part of a chain (local chains are allowed though). Preferably, it's a place that you can either walk to or drive a short distance. What's it like? Why do you like it? Does the community support it? What could they do better?

I'll weigh in with my choice after I get a few answers. Oh, feel free to pick a place "back home" if you want.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/20/2006 11:16:00 PM, ,

Day 75

New name. You like?

I'll see how concise and to-the-point I can make this. Since I became I Protestant six years ago, I've gotten a lot of grief from my parents. They're Roman Catholic, see; fairly "Augustinian Catholic," too, as a wise friend would say. They've been upset, acting like they failed in raising me. The upsetness has probably been consistent since 2000, but it leaks through in varying amounts from time to time. This weekend, my dad had a really bad run-in with a fellow Scout leader, a Reformed guy who--no bones about it--was a complete jerk to my dad in regards to his beliefs.

So, being the closest Protestant around, he took it out on me with snide and hostile comments all weekend, with an extra topping of meaningful silence. I don't think I've ever seen him like this. It really hurts. And my mom made a point to tell me how, "they love me, but [I've] never really given Catholicism a chance." And how they'll always "feel like they did something wrong, and failed as parents." And my mom said that any theological decisions I've made are only because I have friends that attend my church, or choices were made out of total ignorance.

I just pray that the divide opened between us can be mended, healed, scabbed and smoothed over with grace. It's hard thinking that no matter what I do or where I am, my family considers me the black sheep.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/19/2006 11:29:00 PM, ,

Day 74- Elevator to the Gallows

The re-release trailer for Ascenseur pour l'├ęchafaud (Elevator to the Gallows). I saw it this afternoon. It's a great little film noir: short, suspenseful, moody. It was the first-time effort for Louis Malle, now most associated with the French New Wave.

It was a very good film, both structurally and on the artistic level. But what I really liked about it, though, was the photography. The black and white was almost pure. I felt as if I could touch it, rest my head upon it, wrap myself in it. The light/dark contrast was startling, and the natural lighting throughout the film--which takes place in the frame of a single night--is beyond cool. If you like visuals and appreciate classic film, the movie is a definite recommendation. The photography in "Elevator..." was heads (and tails) above almost any modern film I've seen in a while. It just looked amazing.

Miles Davis's score is worth mentioning. Improvised entirely in one take, it foreshadows the direction he (and late Coltrane) would go with the music. It's classy jazz, and fits snuggly into the film's atmosphere.

If you can deal with YouTube's grainy transfer, someone posted the entire movie over there in 10 segments.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/18/2006 03:41:00 PM, ,

Day 73-- on translations

I had a complain-y post that I was working on, but Greg's comment on Day 72 made me rethink my motivations. So on to one of the other weird things on my mind....

Translations. I've always been interested in translations. Definitely in regards to Scripture, though I'm a novice in that area. But I get really antsy when I look for books--novels, essays, whatever--originally written in a language that isn't English. I wonder if the translator did his job well, what was cut, what delicate words were altered. And so on. Language matters, as Russ excellently explained, and it's really hard translating the nuance from one language to the other.

The first time this train of thought hit me was when I purchased the recently-revised version of "the Count of Monte Cristo." As translator Robin Buss explained in the beginning, the English version most have read over the years is flawed; not only did most of the copies made in the Victorian era cut out close to 1/4 of the book, they also changed the language significantly. Dumas's text wasn't as awkward as most of the in-print versions suggest, so Buss did a fairly literal translation of the original French that managed to keep both the meaning and phrasing intact.

I try to do research before I look for copies of translated texts. I want to read many of the Russian classics, but I want to avoid Constance Garnett's translations. In particular, I want to read the short stories of Anton Chekhov and Alexander Pushkin. So, over the next few days, I think I'm going to dig around and find out what I can about all of the translations available. If only they pulled a Vlad Nabikov and translated their own work to English! Oh, those Russians.

Does all of this make me a nerd? Perhaps--no, wait--definitely. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/17/2006 11:24:00 PM, ,

Day 72

In all of my interest in "third places," it never occurred to me that there can be a negative aspect to gathering as such. I've always focused on the good aspects of gathering spots: friendship, warmth, happiness, community, and so on. But what about gossip, hatemongering, widescale complaining, and sheer jerkishness? Maybe I never thought about them because I'd never encountered those things in third places.

It's so easy to focus on the good side, maybe because it's so attractive; I mean, who wants to go to their local great, good place and say nasty things about people? I just hope that we (meaning everyone who embraces the third place ideal) will always strive to be a light to whatever darkness might crop up in third places, be it the ones we own or work in or visit.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/16/2006 09:58:00 PM, ,

Day 71

My big brother.

He and Heather were engaged to be married a few months ago, but it's still nice to see it in print.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/15/2006 11:06:00 PM, ,

Day 70

I've finally found it!

In the spring of 1999, I saw a performance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien that literally changed my life. It was the band Built to Spill playing one of their songs live; I remember I'd heard of the band before I saw them, but really knew nothing about them. So, in my quest to discover new music, I stayed up to watch it.

I don't think I'd ever imagined such music existed. I listened with my jaw open, eyes fixed to the screen. I was into a few obscure bands, but my favorite music at the time was definitely either emo-pop (like the Get Up Kids) or third-wave ska, like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. What I saw on Conan was a messy, tangled mesh of hot-wire guitars, stoic melodicism, and tip-toeing dynamics dancing around in the guise of a classic rock homage (listen to the lyrics, see if you can name all of the references). Hearing "You Were Right" live deconstructed what I knew about pop music and broke down the dams plugging my ears.

So, after searching for the video for seven years, I finally found it last night. Take a peek, if you wish. Of course, you may hate it, but that's for watching regardless. I'm so glad I found it, since all of my musical tastes and thoughts are essentially based around my experience witnessing this.

You can watch the video here.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/14/2006 10:43:00 PM, ,

Day 69

There is a secret language I know of. A secret retail shopper language, a code-speak that customers share almost virally. Many retail employees don't know the langauge, but some do. Like me. And I'm here to decode it, a 'blogging cure for the retail cipher. I'll also provide some example responses.

Let us investigate:

PHRASE: "I'm just looking."
TRANSLATION: "Leave me the hell alone."
RESPONSE: "Well, I can see that. But you didn't answer my question." (the question, "how are you?")

PHRASE: "I don't have time right now." OR "I'm kind of in a rush."
TRANSLATION: "I didn't listen to a word you said. Ring up my product, youngster."
RESPONSE: as they take their time leaving "Oh, you need to hurry! Shoo! Be gone!"

PHRASE: "Are you going to give me a senior citizen discount?"
TRANSLATION: "I'm hoarding money under my mattress."
RESPONSE: "I'm actually making this cost more because you're elderly."

PHRASE: "You know what, I'll just get it cheaper at Wal-Mart."
TRANSLATION: "I came in here solely to humor you."
RESPONSE: "Awesome!"

PHRASE: "I'll just get it cheaper online. Thanks anyway."
TRANSLATION: "I really don't know anything about the Internet."
RESPONSE: "Hey, you should buy your groceries online. It's cheaper too."

PHRASE: "No, I don't want to order the book. I need it now."
TRANSLATION: "I waited 'til the last minute to buy a gift!"
RESPONSE: "Waited 'til the last minute?"

PHRASE: "Why don't you have suchandsuch book on the shelf? It's a best-seller. Barnes & Nobels (sic) has so much more."
TRANSLATION: "I have no clue about books."
RESPONSE: "If you knew what you wanted, we could order it and it'll be here lickity-split with no extra charge. Oh, but you don't know what you like. I see."

PHRASE: "I really don't shop here that much."
TRANSLATION: "I really don't shop here that much."
RESPONSE: "Why not?"

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/13/2006 11:48:00 PM, ,

Day 68

I'm a list addict. I like making them, first of all, but I also like reading them. Especially lists that catalog the "best" films, albums, etc. I don't always agree, but I tend to use the lists as a resource to discover stuff I wouldn't run into on my own. For instance, the AFI's much-debated "100 years, 100 movies" has provided me an endless (well, or not) supply of movies to watch, regardless of my opinion of some of them (Dr. Zhivago and E.T. better than the Third Man? What?).

But here's a list that took me by surprise: TIME magazine's list of the 100 best English-langauge novels since the magazine's inception in 1923. And you know what, the list is packed with great stuff. I've read--as of now--13 of the books, and I own 8 more that I'll get to eventually (and I spy around 6 more that I've been meaning to pick up when I see them). I guess those aren't good odds. But here--in a list of sorts--are some reasons why I like this list:

-They had the guts to include Watchmen: Easily one of the best things I've ever read, though I have a hard time getting people to believe me--see, "Watchmen" is a graphic novel. It's better than most novels I've read, including the "good," canonical ones that get ballyhooed left and right. Not only is it complex, thoughtful, and very well-written, but it's also entertaining. I don't know who is afraid of Virginia Woolf, but she should be afraid of Alan Moore.

-They don't shirk away from genre authors: Aside from the above, there's also Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Graham Greene, John le Carre, Neil Stephenson, William Gibson, Tolkien, Lewis, et cetera. And the books they pick by these guys (that I've read) are great.

-They included Marilynne Robinson: Which makes me feel all funny inside, like the one time I tried to climb the rope in gym class. Speaking of, she wrote a scathing review of Richard Dawson's "the God Delusion" in Harper's; quite a feat, seeing as how the magazine normally doesn't showcase Reformed Christians taking shots at well-respect atheists. And in this sense...

-...the list has a great representation of best contemporary writers in Christendom: Robinson, Greene, Percy, Lewis, Tolkien, Waugh, and--depending on who you ask--Burgess, Updike, Nabakov, Cather and Wallace.

"Wise Blood" isn't on there, but hey--can't win 'em all.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/12/2006 10:38:00 PM, ,

Day 67

I get this e-mail, see, informing me that I got a private message on the Culture Is Not Optional message board. I haven't really read much on that board in a while, so I check the message, thinking it'd be from one of the cool people that run the site. The message is benignly titled (something like, "Hey!"), from someone I don't know. I open it.

Whoops! It's a spam account, and below the uncomfortable semi-nude photo attached is this amazing message. I highlighted several key phrases that'll I'll touch upon.

"More info about me:
I live in Russia in the capital
Moscow. I'm 26 years old. I'm elegant blond woman, tender and cheerful, tactful,
patient, with sense of humor, a little bit shy. I do body-flex and
tennis. I'm interested in the teaching of the jogs.
I want to create family with interesting man.
I imagine you to have middle or a little bit higher height, normal
shape, slender; I want you to be intelligent, have sincere attitude to
other's shortcomings and not want to rebuild the world; clever
optimist with the sense of the duty. I am waiting for the letter from
you. I shall answer evrybody! Clik here..."

Oh, those Russians. I have, like, zero tolerance for this kind of thing, but the letter tickled--scratched, even--my funny bone. (Tickled enough that I cut-and-pasted the wordage before deleting the message and alerting the forum moderation.)

Let's see:

"I'm interested in the teaching of the jogs."-- Who are these jogs? After the elegant, flowing sentence that preceded, this sentence sounds like some sort of SNL joke using Eastern Europeans as the punchline. Olga and I, have we many of the jogs and of the teachings.

"I want to create family with interesting man."-- Add one part interesting man, two parts cane sugar, mix with turpentine, and let sit for an hour. Tada! You've created a family!

"I want you to be intelligent"-- Me too.

"the sense of the duty."-- The lost book Faulkner never finished.

"I am waiting for the letter from you. I shall answer evrybody!"-- So her message wasn't just personal, but personal and widescale. SHE wants to HEAR from ME! And evrybody (sic) else!

And I actually fell for it and opened it. Blargh.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/11/2006 05:18:00 PM, ,

Day 66

I think I just beat Keith.

In other news, Mike Veon--the State Representative for this district--was surprisingly defeated this past Tuesday. Despite being involved in some scandals, he was basically a shoo-in for re-election; he's an extremely popular Democrat in a very, very Democratic region, and was an "old boy." He lost to, as the Beaver County Times slantedly called him, a "novice." Mind you, I'm very much a political oddball, so this isn't some Republican v. Democrat grudge I have; I just hate the Old Boys Club mentality.

Regardless, the language used in the Times after the election was hilariously hyberbolic, moreso than anything I can get away with. One quote from a local rah-rah man was "Beaver County just commited suicide." Uh huh. And in an article the following day, the paper basically stacked up a ton of quotes saying that Veon was the only thing that made Beaver County worthwhile, so now that he was voted out we'll have to wallow in dung and misery.

So, in honor of all of this, I'm going to make some other extreme and hyperbolic quotes that the Times could have used. I'm wishing they would.

"By voting out Mike Veon, Beaver County just let the terrorists win."
"Where's the beef? Not in Beaver County, because they voted Mike Veon out."
"The sun will never shine now that Mike Veon lost the election."
"By voting out Mike Veon, Beaver County just baked a cake with a key hidden in it and sent it to Saddam in prison."
"Beaver County got rid of the only man who could stop global warming: Mike Veon."
"By voting out Mike Veon, Beaver County just made us lose the War on Terror."
"Christmas won't happen this year because Beaver County voted out Mike Veon. And it may never happen again."
"Who let the Commies win? Beaver County, because they voted out Mike Veon."
"The Huns will invade, all because Beaver County voted Mike Veon out of office."
"Beaver County is unpatriotic for voting out Mike Veon."

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/10/2006 07:34:00 PM, ,

Day 65

I'm excited--after three weeks of tinkering, I've finally finished the tracklist of my "Dreary Autumn" (aka "Holding Hands w/ Summer and Winter") mix CD. Here's what I have:

(It's on a CD, sure, but I've divided it up into Side A & B for thematic purposes.)

Side A
1. "Rainy Streets," by Superchunk
2. "A New England," by Billy Bragg
3. "Ariel Ramirez," by Richard Buckner
4. "Crying in the Rain," by Rockpile
5. "So Fair," by Rachel Zylstra
6. "Powder," by Bedhead
7. "Jams Run Free," by Sonic Youth
8. "Hymn Beneath the Palisades," by Early Day Miners

Side B
1. "My Baby Blue," by John Hiatt (& the Goners)
2. "California Stars," by Wilco & Billy Bragg
3. "Friend of the Night," by Mogwai
4. "18," by the New Year
5. "Evie's Garden," by Freedy Johnston
6. "The Righteous Shall Destroy the Precious," by Dolorean
7. "In the Fall," by Dolorean

I'm excited. If you haven't heard of most of these folks, don't feel bad. Maybe you can give it a spin and then you'll know about them.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/09/2006 11:56:00 PM, ,

Day 64

Yeah yeah, late 'blog post because a Blogger server outage.

The NaNoWriMo challege is getting hard; not for any writing reason, honestly, but because some of these days I'm working 14 to 15 hours in a day. So when I get up, or when I come home, I can barely keep my eyes open. I was hoping to keep ahead a bit each day (like, write 1800 words instead of the 1667 a day I needed to make the goal). Now, I'm writing less than I need.

I think, on the days when I don't have to work, I'm going to just sit down and write a bunch. Still, I just passed the 10,000 word point; that's more than I've ever commited to paper. I really feel like I'm accomplishing something with this.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/09/2006 12:27:00 AM, ,

Day 63

I think I'm going to bed before 11 p.m. Next, I'll want to go to bingo events and then more to Florida. I thought I was part of the Pepsi generation.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/07/2006 10:54:00 PM, ,

Day 62

I'll write about "close reading" soon; it's something I'm very interested in, but want to devote more time to it and--hopefully--I can come up with a fun name that doesn't sound like "close talker."

But, as a lead-in to it, I'll say this: I plan on dedicating much of 2007 to reading James Joyce's "Ulysses." I'm going to dive in with as much supplementary material as I can, and only tackle small portions at a time so I can 1) enjoy it, and 2) actually--maybe, possibly, hopefully--understand it.

And when I say much of 2007, I mean spend 10 to 12 months on it.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/06/2006 11:54:00 PM, ,

Day 61

Why do I talk about myself so much? That's rhetorical; I know why, but I never want to admit it. I unconsciously barge into conversation with stories or non sequitors about me, even when I could make an equally valid contribution without resorting to injecting my name into the mix.

I saw someone doing something similar this morning. It was obnoxious; it was also like looking into a mirror. I've been shown so much over the past week to show me how unwisely I use words, how I speak without thinking, exaggerate, use hyperbole like it's going out of style, and how vanity dictates much of my speech. I pray that I can speak or write when it's called for, and to do so wisely. I'm sick of how often my mouth opens only to draw attention to me.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/05/2006 11:48:00 PM, ,

Day 60

Russ beat me to it, of course, but I feel the need to chime in.

The season finale of Dodge Intrepid and the Pages of Time was a blast. I echo all of the good points that Russ points out: fun, not crass, lovely pokes fun at the area. And I support the guys because they're my friends.

But Russ pointed something else out tonight, during one of the intermissions--the format of the show (radio serial) requires all of the humor to be dialogue-driven. That seems to be a rare thing these days, and the Dodge Intrepid gang does it quite well. I also noted during their last performance in September that the humor is woven more into the plot, something that was even more present this time around. Puns and witty dialogue are fun on their own, but when they're used to move the story along...that's even better.

So, here's a salute to Mike, James, Dan and Mike the Tall. And a salute to everyone that supports them; local comedy--especially good local comedy--is something that Beaver Countians (is that a word?) should cherish and encourage.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/04/2006 10:46:00 PM, ,

Day 59

I saw Geneva's production of "Arsenic and Old Lace" tonight. It was a lot of fun. After some conversation during the intermissions, though, I thought about how different generations relate to different types of humor. The "show, don't tell" idea isn't even an issue here, I don't think. Dialogue-based humor--or I guess even dialogue-driven anything--seems to appeal more to older crowds. Lots of folks in my generation are more drawn to slapstick, "in your face" laughs. Why is this?

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/03/2006 11:49:00 PM, ,

Day 58

Current NaNoWriMo tally: 3471 words

Out of the various reading preferences I run across, it seems like many people only stick with one type of reading. "I only read westerns," or "I'm a romance novel gal." Or even the dreaded, "I only like non-fiction; novels are a waste of time."

And I wonder, is there any type or catagory of book--fiction or non, philosophy or sci-fi, local authors or international--that you stick with over others? And, if you go far with it, are you someone that only reads a certain type of book, no exceptions? Gimme some answers, folks.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/02/2006 10:42:00 PM, ,

Day 57

Today was long, if anything, but wonderful at the same time. I got up earlier than normal (6:30) to start my National Novel Writing Month challenge: my goal for the day was 1667 words (or more). I only had around half that by the time I needed to leave for the Warrens/BFC&T.

I ordered tons of espresso gear for the shop (which was a surprising--almost ridiculous!--amount of fun), then spent the next 6 or so hours helping Bethany plant trees and bushes in front of the house. I tried to add a bit to my novel (I had e-mailed myself the second part), but didn't get far.

Then I had to work at the bookstore--er, calendar kiosk-- for the rest of the night. It was fairly dead, but I managed to keep myself busy by reading snippets of the hardboiled detective novel I brought along. I got home not too long ago, and--amazingly--finished up the rest of the NaNoWriMo goal for the day. And then some--I'm at 1765 for the night.

I'm going to watch "Lost" in a moment and eat dinner, then hit the sack and get up early again. The best part is that I feel better than I've felt in (physically and, interestingly enough, emotionally) well over a year.

Again, if you missed it, I have two chapters for my NaNoWriMo novel here.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/01/2006 11:13:00 PM, ,