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NOº 2263

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror: “30 Things I Love Right Now” Brought to You By the One-and-Only Angela Jane Fountas


1. The Call by Yannick Murphy, which hasn’t yet surpassed my love for Here They Come by Yannick Murphy…
2. The Census of Ireland 1901/1911. It’s online and searchable! And it has records of my maternal grandmother and family…
3. Ellis Island’s free search. And the record of my paternal great-grandfather when he got off the boat in 1910, forty-eight years before my father set foot in this country. Puzzle that out…
4. Kubota Garden in Seattle. It has been here a long time, long before I moved here long ago, and we have just discovered it and been twice (so far)…
5. University District Farmers Market and Grouse Mt. Farm in particular and the anticipation of their Belle de Boskopp, Spitzenburg, and King David apples especially…
6. The sun, the sun, the sun…
7. That the sun finally came to Seattle…
8. That the sun has shined in a cloudless sky for days in a row…
9. Summer in the Pacific Northwest because the mountains are out!
10. The Taygetos Mountains, always in my mind’s eye…
11. Ellinika Tora 1 + 1, my Greek textbook, which may one day have me dreaming in Greek…
12. The name Evdoksia, or Evdoxia, just because…
13. Also: Florentia, Pelagia, Stamatia, Ifigenia, Nektaria, Eugenia, Vasileia, Polikseni…
14. WordPress and Graph Paper Press, both of which helped me create this: www.fashion-tales.net
15. Rodarte, the line, and Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the sisters who design the line…
16. The blue lips on a model in Richard Chai Love’s spring 2012 ready-to-wear show. And the dress she’s wearing too…
17. What There Is to Say We Have Said: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell. Two great writers writing to each other…
18. “Defloration,” the word, as used in The Last Life by Claire Messud…
19. Hummingbirds…
20. The sounds that hummingbirds make…
21. “You know, life is the best thing that we have. We each have a life. We each have to negotiate it and navigate it, and I think it’s very important that we enjoy our life, that we get everything we can out of it.” – Patti Smith…
22. Patti Smith…
23. Bookworm on KCRW…
24. Michael Silverblatt, the host of Bookworm, and his enthusiasm for the books and their writers…
25. Paris Review interviews, always. Download some now…
26. Glossa Music cabinet series CD covers, for example: W. A. Mozart Gran Partita. The music is good too!
27. Beethoven: Piano Sonata #17 In D Minor, Op. 31/2, “Tempest,” as played by Wilhelm Kempff…
28.Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femmes, which has kept me company while writing a few scenes in my current manuscript…
29. The picture book Orani: My Father’s Village by Claire A. Nivola, because it reminds me of my experiences the first time I went to my father’s village when I was eleven…
30. Books! Real books. Books I can hold in my hands.

NOº 2035

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror: “30 Things I Love Right Now” Brought to You By the One-and-Only Jason Slatton


1. This gentleman, and the junkstore attic that is his mind. New music from him is a thing of rusty glory. Old music from him is, in fact, the same thing…
2. Arugula: Peppery, bitter, sort of tough, and sheer freaking bliss in a straight up salad mix…even better in an omelette, tempered with asiago, white onion and some pepper. The pissed-off little brother of greens, if I may…
3. ELO’s Eldorado: I was obsessed with it when I was 10. Recently found a copy on vinyl, and am spinning it while I compile this list. With the windows open, and the soft September air filtering through the room, I realize that very little of my collective sensibility regarding music has changed. This, by the way, is a good thing. You know what this sounds like, right? It’s ELO, fer chrissakes. A little grandiose, kinda claustrophobic and dense, hooky, and Bev Bevan’s drums sound like heaven. Or the way heaven might sound were it a drum track. Uh…yeah…
4. The Catcher In The Rye: What this really means is that I love navigating this book with my students — I’m now on my second year of this. They laugh, shudder, grow contemplative, nod, affirm, re-read sections, maybe grow a little angry or disturbed, i.e. what you should do when a good piece of writing knocks you around a little…
5. Alternate guitar tunings, particularly those found here. I’m sort of hung up on BEBEBE right now, which accounts for a bit of Nick Drake’s catalog. Meditative, restorative, and some kind of path, I think, meaning a path toward a greater truth. Bert Jansch, Richard Thompson and Martin Carthy  also traffic in these circles. Which leads me to…
6. Nick Drake: We (being my gal and I), spin a lot of Nick Drake ‘round our house, near constantly, but most certainly this time of year. His entire recorded output won’t even take up your whole morning (depending on what time you get up, I guess), but he’s more or less created the whole of a universe in his songs. The less hyperbole regarding Nick, the better. So…
7. Five Leaves Left (1969)
8. Bryter Later (1970)
9. Pink Moon (1972)
10. Jorge Luis Borges: I’m working my way through his collected short stories right now (some first reads, some re-reads), and am finding that I have to suspend (or perhaps throw out entirely) all the things I assume a short story (or, in totale, fiction) is supposed to be. I can thank Tim O’Brien, who read an excerpt of “The Aleph” to an audience of nerdy writer types I was a part of at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference a few years ago, for steering me toward this guy. I guess this leads me to…
11. Tim O’Brien: I don’t love him, er… “right now.” I sort of, well, continually love him, and the places that his writing directs me. A few writers have left me pretty wrung out of late when I finished one of their books: Kazuo Ishiguro, Virginia Woolf, and Mr. O’Brien. I’m re-reading “The Lives Of The Dead” tonight, so really this entry should be tweaked a little…
12. Antiseptic yet oddly wonderful Muzak versions of pretty okay Freedy Johnston songs from 1994 when heard transmitted through drug store sound systems in the mid- to late-afternoon, circa 2011. There are other artists that fall under this classification, but Mr. Johnston is the most recent, inadvertent offender. A good melody can shine through the most saccharine arrangement…
13. Fitful sleep: The dreams I had after taking Melatonin just last night for the first time. I rarely sleep fitfully, and can only gauge how well I slept by the width and breadth of my REM activity — upon digesting one chalky little pill, I soared across treetops, and lit midnight candles in cavern-like belfries that listed without foundation on top of dark oceans. Also, I swam with Scout, our recently deceased cat of well-deserved legend, in a nighttime lake. We would dive to the silty bottom together and chase fish. K. was there, too, wielding a flashlight to help us in our endeavors. She (K.) can corroborate this story…
14. Pepper. Lots of it. Freshly ground. Always. On every thing. And crushed red pepper. On pasta. Any kind of pasta. And this stuff
15. An odd documentary I just saw about one Winston Watson, onetime drummer for Bob Dylan, helmed by Mr. Watson, revealing loads of ephemera regarding rehearsals, touring life, and random, odd Bob-isms. All that to say: history is often found in the footnotes, and not in the headlines. So, a link. Really, it’s pretty great, and I’ve seen this guy play live. He’s a ferocious drummer…
16. Bass lines, any and all: McCartney, Jameson, Hood, Weymouth, Wilson, Squire, Stinson, Jones, and more. I always go in this direction when I’m driving and listening. Always. Can’t help it.
17. Battlestar Galactica: I don’t want to embarrass K. on this one, but we began streaming the new version of this show on Netflix Labor Day weekend, and we’re sort of hooked. We’re not nerds, really. It’s the requisite 2000’s dystopian vision of the future, but one that is nuanced in such a way that it also becomes a resolutely dark, troubled, disturbing vision of post-9/11 America. This is the kind of thing that Harlan Ellison would probably get behind, if only because he probably came up with most of these ideas LONG before 9/11, and maybe even the seed of the idea that is Battlestar Galactica (my evidence: The Starlost). Amazing writing, photography and character development in this one, though. So…
18. Harlan Ellison: …and, really, an early collection of his called Stalking The Nightmare. Oh, dear God, this book rearranges my DNA still. My mom bought me this when I was 15. I in turn become 15 again whenever I crack in to it…
19. Oof. This. I agree. Then I don’t. Also, Robert Smith is way older than you are, so respect is due…
20. Something I’m absolutely (1) waiting, and (2) socking away cash for...
21. The Guardian UK and all attendant editorial tangents therein, like this one. And Mr. Lydon’s book Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs. To my way of thinking, he’s sort of punk rock Alan Sillitoe. Or John Osborne
22. François Couperin: Discovered via Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life, Couperin is responsible for the rolling, tumbling piano piece that shows up, if memory serves, twice in the film. Though this was music composed for the harpsichord, I think the piano version we hear in the film is from this, so thank you to Angela Hewitt if it is indeed you. All the pieces on this album are like odd, miniature pop songs, almost, or as some folks have suggested, “tone poems.” They have some of those flowery, trill-y, Baroque conventions, but tend to push off in another direction entirely. He was also pre-disposed to give his compositions strange, evocative titles like “The Mysterious Barricades.” Dig it. Special thanks to D. Gilliland for the “oh, I think that might be Couperin, maybe…” moment…
23. Harry Nilsson, in particular, his 1971 album Nilsson Schmilsson: Part of this is born of a recent screening of the documentary Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? Producer Richard Perry relates in the aforementioned doc that he and Harry were trying to make an album that would be as good as any Beatles record. It’s no secret that they (John, Paul, etc.) were rabid fans of Nilsson’s work — his songwriting, his uncanny harmonic sensibilities, his almost schizophrenic ability to shift voices, sometimes within the same song. One thing to note here: Nilsson was fluent in Tin Pan Alley, power pop, soaring balladry, dark, paranoid R&B…and I mean to say that he knew few limits when it came to song composition. He was also a bastard, a misanthrope, a drunk, a genius, and a tornado of love, tempered with a lot of madness. Who aspires to this man’s catalog and talents these days?
24. Urban bike rides: By this, I mean bike rides that have me out for several hours, winding through the city. Weekend roadbiking in Birmingham is a thing to be cherished; there’s often very little traffic, and I’ve found as we move toward fall, more people are just out there, living, walking, riding, breathing. It actually feels like a real city, as opposed to a decaying semi-city left empty from a late-70’s spate of “white flight.” Today found me circling Legion Field, touring Norwood, hitting all major downtown avenues, and winding back through Five Points for a stop at Camp Taco. Birmingham drivers are still in-part resistant to something as simple as a two-wheeled, self-propelled vehicle, but they’re slowly coming around. I’ve ridden in a couple of major American cities, and every year we get a bit more navigable, hospitable, livable. Good on ya, Birmingham. If you want to really see a city, see it from two wheels. So, then, this:
25. Camp Taco
26. Most anything this guy does. However, if you want just one to start with, I recommend a book he edited with Greil Marcus called The Rose & The Briar. Or Bob Dylan In America
27. The lyric: “I know what I know / I’ll sing what I said / We come and we go / That’s the thing that I keep in the back of my head.” Look it up…
28. Blue Diamond Almonds: Every variation available (Wasabi, Sea Salt, etc.).  Unmitigated beauty, sublime, resilient.
29. Mbaqanga. Re-issued in anthology form. Thank you Strut Records
30. The odd feeling of “completion” I have upon wrapping up this list. Oh, and mid-Sunday afternoon naps while listening to Jonas Starker’s cello ring through the house.

NOº 1729

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror — “30 Things I Love Right Now” Brought to You By the One-and-Only John Barret


1. The Jerilderie letter…
2. Cilantro — finding new ways to incorporate it in every food possible…
3. Sapphire films and all things Edgar Wallace. There’s R. A. Lafferty and J. F. Powers and many others I make a quick study of from time to time, but right now it’s Wallace’s turn…
4. Andrea Wulf’s “Founding Gardeners” — these historical perspectives should be more widely known and discussed and this is the way to build true environmentalism along with projects like Chuck Leavell’s mnn.com unlike Al Gore’s  Chicken Little-Looney approach…
5. Robert Bresson’s “Lancelot” — all his films really. Both he and Tarkovsky(whose “mirror” I really love) are almost as interesting when they talk or write ABOUT film as their films themselves are interesting. Everyone has their list of go to directors, I do as well with the usual blah blah suspects: Hitchcock, Welles, Kubrick, Peckinpah, Bresson, Tarkovsky, Kieslowski, Ashby, the list is endless, but I never understood the snobbery that comes along with so much discussion of “cinema” (or music or writing for that matter). Bresson has strong feelings on that score. I always appreciate whenever anyone can recommend a movie I haven’t seen or heard of yet. My current guilty pleasures include: Alain Robbe-Grillet’s movie “La Belle Captive,” “Frankenstein: the true story” with James Mason and Jane Seymour in preparation for halloween, and Blatty’s “The Ninth Configuration,”(I like thinking over how Blatty said “ninth” is part of his “exorcist” trilogy and trying to figure out how this might be so. We’ll see if he and Freidkin actually do reunite and make a film of “Dimiter”). Kooky stuff like “The Norliss Tapes” and all things Dan Curtis are never far from reach. I wouldn’t mind at all if Depp and co. don’t get around to Dark Shadows. How is it that the 1970s went so off their occult rocker? Folks might not remember silly pilots like “Baffled” with Leonard Nimoy, but I prefer Dan Curtis Productions to today’s slick monster madness and don’t worry too much about plucking the highbrow lowbrow unibrow or no brow just for public consumption or appearance’s sake. Bresson’s Jansenism (if that’s true which I do not think it is) is just as spooky…
6. Somerset Maugham’s “Cakes and Ale”…
7. Pho — can’t get enough of a good bowl of this. Will travel the extra mile for a good hole in the wall mom and pop restaurant that specializes in it. Won’t travel for any other food I can think of outside of Alabama barbecue. Roll tide.
19th century American humor and satire — the so called “Phunny phellows” but mostly at the moment Charles Farrar Browne and David Ross Locke (Artemus Ward and Petroleum v Nasby and the like) — the folks Matthew Arnold complained about and Twain learned from. I’m also currently slooowly working my way through the collected works or Orestes Brownson, but he’s not humorous…
8. Mulling over a tenuous, ethereal unprovable hunch connection between Kingsley Amis’ “The Alteration” and Barry Hannah’s Airships”…
9. P. G. Wodehouse’s love of the soap opera “The Edge of Night”…
10. Chesterton, Chesterton, Chesterton. — Not a day goes by without reading something of his. It is impossible to read any page and not be rewarded, cheered up, or made less stupid. Within the next ten years I’m positive “Napoleon of Notting Hill” and “Man Who Was Thursday” will both be great feature films. Just watch, I’m right. I droned on and on years ago that GKC’s “Magic” and Barrie’s “Mary Rose”(I am surprised no one has taken Hitchcock’s script of that and tried to “complete” it) would surface more and it’s happened. I only wish I could work on them…
11. Debates and discussions about Copyright law, “intellectual property,” the “idea-expression divide,” etc. — I love reading supreme court decisions almost as much as papal encyclicals (“veritatis splendor” is an important one for artists as is JP II’s “letter to artists”). From Coleridge-like pantisocracy schemes and Brooke farm experiments to Native American understandings of “the land,” debate over property in all its forms is a thicket of fascinating ideas that is ever-increasingly relevant. Tangentially, I’m enjoying Richard Epstein lectures and talks on contracts, etc…
12. Tasso…
13. Taggart. I love mysteries, spy stuff and read or see everything in those veins I can get my hands on. All TV mysteries/espionage, too from MI-5 to Burn Notice. I like the little things, too. Like what Alec Guiness does with his glasses throughout the tv mini-series of John Le Carre’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “Smiley’s People.” I am not optimistic about the upcoming Tomas Alfredson remake with Gary Oldman. I won’t watch anything these days unless I can get a whole season all at once and watch it straight through all at once. Immersion + food and drink = happy…
14. The Verlaines lp “Bird-dog” is currently in rotation but I love lots of the bands on Flying Nun Records. I liked the Verlaines’ development in “Way out Where” though many fans didn’t and I enjoyed Graeme Downes’ solo effort on Matador Records a great deal.  Puzzled as to how they’re and he are not more spoken of more often…
15. Trying to prove to friends that “Rashomon” is a horror film and belongs more with movies like “House” and “Onibaba” than with “samurai” films. I know it’s based on Akutagawa’s stories, but I refer solely to what ended up on the screen and not merely to what the director or the stories intended. I like Natsume Soseki as did Akutagawa and more recently Shusaku Endo but “Japanese” or “Chinese” culture would be hopelessly broad as a “thing to love.” When someone asks me what movies scare me, I say “Jaws” and “Rashomon”…
16. “The Loved One” movie with Jonathan Winters. Along with Walker Percy’s “Moviegoer” and Toole’s “Confederacy of Dunces,” Evelyn Waugh’s book is the perfect “undergrad” assigned reading. This movie is its own cultural landmark. Of course the Andrews/Irons “Brideshead Revisited” is unsurpassed as the best tv ever broadcast. There’s always the 1975 series “Poldark” if all else fails…
17. A biography of Major John Andre…
18. Jiangnan sizhu— I love “folk music” of other countries hoever misnomered. I love “sitar music” as well but respect that it is a spiritual music for its practitioners and not background pop music. Its structure and rules fascinate me and I wish I knew more than I do.  Raganet, on the other hand, is a guilty pleasure of a different measure. I more love the idea of this than the actual music, though. I am NOT invested in the destiny of the word “fusion” cold or jazz or otherwise. Still, trying to figure out how we got from Ravi Shankar to Ashwin Batish via Cornershop maybe? I think “world music” is the most insipid genre title; it’s really a pathetic ideology not a description. There’s no such thing as world or global anything. Music is made by individual people gathered in specific countries or geographic locations with unique untranslatable cultural assumptions and can only be heard at most in unison with other individual people…
20. Cherry coca-cola…
21. “Yes, Minister” and “Yes, Prime Minister”…”Doctor in the House” is my favorite, but until that is readily available, this’ll do…
22. I don’t like drugs, and much of what came out of the sixties was retarded(in the sense of stunted, belated, delayed maturation) and I don’t hero-worship in any Carlylean sense. But figuring out Syd Barrett’s lyrical poetic principles via Hilaire Belloc, James Joyce and others, which I believe Roger Waters has explored in his own way as well, is a private passion. He was onto something poetically new…
23. Varied and sundry histories of the French Revolution — obliquely with an eye toward better understanding Edgar Allan Poe’s views on the writing of history. Along with Chesterton, Shakespeare, Coleridge and Tolkien, Poe is a daily read. Something every day. I often wish I knew what he and the Jesuits he played cards with at Fordham discussed.
“Nightmare Abbey” and Thomaslovepeacock.net—I appreciate any attempts like this one to get texts up free to read, even if they’re orthographically challenged. They’re not just for freaks like me who want to quickly read Scott’s “Quentin Durward” on the fly, or dip into Bulwer-Lytton (not as bad a writer as folks would have you believe any more than Twain said Cooper was) and the like, in the form in which they were printed. I really love databases like Early English Books Online (EEBO) which are essential reading and searchable. What’s not to love?  I hate that these databases aren’t widely available to everyone for free via public libraries. A sign of the elitist, fetishistic stink that still envelops academia “until the dynamiters come.” Teaching and materials based around the searcheable database will be the door through which “forgotten” (a ridiculous term) British and American writers will re-emerge into popular consciousness. Get me drunk and I’ll tell you how exactly…
25. Suspiria de Profundis — all de quincey is interesting. Not sure how Dario Argento got to his films from there but oh well. Hope a bar somewhere has a “giallo” shot and its red-colored…
26. Putting in custom years in Google books like “1839-1841” and then rooting around with keyword searches and reading everything that comes up…
27. Idle dreaming about my future comic “NecromNancy” (old Nancy comics with different words and vintage obects inserted into the panels) to hasten the breaking of the wave of vampirism and zombieworship that surrounds us at the moment. An oblique homage to Doctor Strange. If only the old Ron Ely Tarzan movies or his Doc Savage were more readily available, I could focus on loving that instead…
28. Debates about the “Verdi pitch”…
29. Supergrass’ “Low C” — I can never get tired of this song or their Weeki Wachee video for it. Evokes Florida and childhood for me all through the lens of British Melancholy. I love songwriting of all kinds, shapes and sizes…
30. Thebloghorn.org — and its lists of cartoonists following on Gerald Scarfe’s list in the Daily Mail. I’ve been following Martin Sharp’s career a bit more these days and his Tiny Tim obsession. Following Tolkien (my hero) I don’t like Disneyfication. Disney World is fun because it is a finite place, but Disney in general with its tyrannical imagination Empirism, well this is supposed to be 30 things I love at the moment and not hate so I guess I’ll say, “everything but Disney”?