Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Very First Salt Shakers

Christmas Gift From Niegel:

Most Amazing Salt Shakers Ever. I can't wait to have a kitchen table

For now, they'll hug on my bookshelf.

AWOL for Christmas

So the last ten days saw me rarely at a computer. Niegel visited, snow fell, the city shut down, I stayed downtown for four nights, snow fell, I got grossly ill, snow melted, Niegel got grossly ill, city got worse, we got better, we celebrated Christmas, we ate pancakes, went to Leavenworth, watched Star Trek marathons, tried to go to museums and failed, then went out for fois gras- stuffed quail.

A Very Merry Christmas it was.
Here comes 2009.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Break Activity

The To-Be-Shelved corner of my room

Monday, December 15, 2008

4 More Days

...until this fellow arrives for 10 whole days of Christmas wonderfulness!!

You can't spell "Christmas" without "Niegel"

When Friends Ask for Lists...

...I get too, too eager to fulfill the request.

Tucker asked me to recommend 5 starter books of 19th British fiction by women authors that he could listen to via I asked if it had to be women authors, and he conceded that I could include book's with female protagonists. (I can't write any book lists that don't include Thomas Hardy). I liked the list I emailed him, and decided to post it in case anyone else is hankering for Vic Fic. (Meaning Victorian Fiction. I think I just coined that, but so did probably 900 other people this week).

Books for listening to and growing as a human being in the 21st century written by those in the 19th century, by or about women

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A fierce voice speaking against hypocrisy in an age where "appropriateness" was a woman's highest virtue. This book is sexy, tragic, triumphant, emotionally & theologically intelligent and unflinching. One of my core-life texts.

Persuasion by Jane Austen
Austen's most mature, sophisticated and autobiographical novel

Tess of the D-Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
A pastoral novel about simple people, that turns the mirror back to society, questioning what purity and innocence really mean. This book is a great intertext with the book of Ruth.

Adam Bede by George Eliot
Eliot's narration beats with a warm and poetic heart on behalf of the unheroic nature of everyday people

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
I don't particularly like this book, but you have to read it. It's a dark and tortured story from the mind of a brilliant young woman who's passionate intellect was trapped in the life of a parson's daughter. It's psychologically disturbing and hugely un-romantic despite how people try to treat it, but if you're going to read Victorian literature by women, you cannot bypass this one. (and all the Brontes are brilliant- Charlotte, Emily and Anne, and the fact that all 3 were published in their lifetime, makes reading at least two of the Brontes another necessity when it comes to surveying victorian women's lit.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Song of the Month Club

In class the other day, we got to talking about the seasons: how differently we interact with and feel about each season of the year, memories they bring up, and also alternative seasons to mark our time by rather than just the nature cycle. I was browsing my ITunes and found myself instinctually reminding myself to watch Walk The Line after Christmas, and I started to realize how I have some pretty consistent music seasons. I'm pretty sure this is what they've sounded like the past few years.

Johnny Cash, Ralph Stanley, Dolly Parton
Glen Hansard/”Once"Soundtrack
Rameau, Handel, “Marie Antoinette” Soundtrack
Simon & Garfunkel
Death Cab for Cutie, Postal Service, Iron & Wine
Blind Melon, Counting Crows, REM
Eastern European Folk/Pop
William Byrd, Josquin Desprez, Arvo Part, Meredith Monk
Sufjan Stevens

Of course, I've got Christmas music playing from late October through mid January, but themes emerge even through that. And I was surprised (but not surprised) to notice that I really do kind of go into internal hibernation during summer. Hibernation or denial, not sure, but first day of Summer is apparently the day the music dies.

What are your music seasons?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Think Paper Titles are My True Medium

All my official school work of 2008 is done. I was trying to remember how many gigantic papers I'd written this year and had to look them up in order to remember. Here's the taster's choice version. I think my titles are longer than most people's thesis paragraphs.

The Princess and the Judge:
Rediscovering the Characters in the Book of Ruth Through Traditional Jewish Interpretation


The Heavens Declare:
Looking Closer at Creation
to Gain a Bigger Picture of the Creator

A movement towards theological and scientific inquiry
of our created context… for the glory of God


Impressions of an Either/Or Church Upbringing
(Church of Origin)


“Queen Bitch” Theology:
What Movie Soundtracks Offer That
The Church Does Not

(Church of Future)


The Woman Buried Under the Words:
The Story of the First Female Apostle and How She Was Erased From Scripture

‘Formed For Labour, Not For Love’:
19th and 20th Century Women Authors
Critique the Evangelical Dualism of
Punishing the Body to Save The Soul

Remembering Together, Not Reading Alone:
The Oral and Aural Gospel of Mark


I don't know which I enjoy more, coming up with titles, or making lists of them. I have no social life, by the way.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Weekend Study Space

I'll be saying goodbye to doing homework between shows (and during act 1) at Intiman as my homework for 2008 is pretty much done and Intiman won't reopen again until half way through Spring term 2009. Now I'll get to resort to my non homework activity at this location: eating a cheeseburger from Dick's Drive In and listening to "This American Life" while waiting for the coffee brewer to rev up before the matinee. I love my various Intiman routines.

Today's bartender special: engaging issues of orality in the gospel of Mark.

And I love my various Intiman people.
I enjoy provoking Chase! (Sorry Ian, no cute pictures of you on hand)

Intermission pre-orders. What a lovely spectrum of artificial coloring a la DeKuyper.

I Heart Werner Kelber

The Oral and the Written Gospel: The Hermeneutics of Speaking and Writing in the Synoptic Tradition, Mark, Paul, and Q (Voices in Performance and Text) The Oral and the Written Gospel: The Hermeneutics of Speaking and Writing in the Synoptic Tradition, Mark, Paul, and Q by Werner H. Kelber

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Published in 1983, this seminal work by Kelber marked a paradigm shift in biblical hermeneutics. "Oral and Written Gospel" is the culmination of Kelber's editorial and journal work of the previous years regarding the ancient near east textual transition from oral communication to written text. Kelber counters many of the assumptions made by 20th century scholars immersed in print-based culture regarding how texts (oral or written) were interacted with and maintained within their social context. Most of the reviews at the time of its publication said this book would start a wave of new hermeneutical approaches, and they were absolutely right. While being a classic, this work is still breaking new ground. A critical must-read for anyone trying to recover a sense of the vital oral tradition behind the gospel of Mark (and the New Testament) as well as the rhetorical implications of Greek oratorical culture. This was one of the first works to say that, as far as the New Testament goes, most of what has been relegated to black and white print, was and is meant to be heard aloud in community. Good job, Werner
View all my reviews.

One Small Step Toward Narrative Theology

Hearing Mark: A Listener's Guide Hearing Mark: A Listener's Guide by Elizabeth Struthers Malbon

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
A refreshing commentary that serves as a cue for how to hear, remember and follow the story in Mark. Unlike most commentaries (and Bible interaction in general) Malbon's book resists the urge to break things into tiny, applicable pieces, and instead, guides the reader through the complete world and narrative journey of the earliest gospel telling. Though most of my exposure to Malbon's writing is rich but DENSE, "Hearing Mark" is clearly meant to be readable for non-seminary folk- a definite plus.

I might buy this one to keep handy.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

On Reading a TV Show

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home (Season 8, Vol. 1) Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home by Joss Whedon

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
As what I believe is the first case of a television show continuing as comic book (this first batch of comics is called Season 8, just as if it were the next series of episodes), this breaks all kinds of creative ground, and of course has the potential to step into some pot holes as it forges its way to unknown territory. (Have I mixed my metaphors enough yet?)

It's hard to imagine what it must be like to be in Joss Whedon's shoes. With the transition from sound stages and scripts to paperback and text boxes, your long-loved characters are no longer bound by location shoots, film crew budgets, actor schedules, or frankly, reality of any kind. The stories are free to go wherever the imagination takes these people. Far more significant than those thousands of Star Wars books that supposedly carry on the story, the Buffy comics are crafted by the creator himself, and are meant to hold the same tenor, language and quirkiness of the TV series. This transition from one television media to comic book media is both a total a paradigm shift, and in another way, a totally logical next step: from one pop culture temple to another. And I'd say, it pretty much does it perfectly. Though I'm not a comic book reader (i have trouble tracking the different text styles- dialogue, narration, etc, and I sometimes forget to look at the pictures) I can hear the characters voices clearly in the dialogue, and the stories still abound with Whedon's obsessive love of underlining his genre while subverting it. It's a meta meta meta comic book- always reminding you it's a comic book while totally engulfing you in the plot.

Though I agree with other critiques I've seen of this volume, that instead of being normal people in supernatural circumstances, the comic books have these characters basically becoming straight up- mega-institutionalized super heroes, I trust Whedon to take us to new places safely, even if its awkward sometimes.

It's a one of a kind experience that I recommend. (though not so one of a kind anymore since Whedon is doing comics for his canceled show Firefly as well).

View all my reviews.

Monday, December 1, 2008

12/1/08 1:29am

Does your heart break in
December? Mine does. A cold,
little ache inside.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

When did Solar become a verb?

Having my longtime (longest) friend Mackenzie and her husband Matt visiting this past weekend from San Diego, meant ventures into the world I rarely see, ie: anywhere that isn't Mars Hill Graduate School, Intiman Theatre or my bedroom. One of these trips was a visit to Fred Meyer- a chain of stores that rides somewhere between K-Mart, Target, Ross and Pier 1 Imports. Matt had visited one in his youth and wanted to see if he'd still be impressed. Many things made an impression on us at Fred Meyer, not the least of which being a miniature water fountain made to look like glowing, melting candles. Is it just me, or should water not be flowing from one burning candle to another??
But most earth-shattering was the discovery of the word "solar" being used as a verb. Check it out. It's pretty amazing."You have purchased a solar product that is solared by the sun." Thank goodness its not one of those crappy Lunar solaring products! This is the real deal.

Thanks for the pictures Matt and Mackenzie. I haven't solared at all since you left.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Haiku for a Friend

Hope is believing
your desire isn't dumb
even when it hurts

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Fill Your Hearts With Christmas"

Yes, it's true. For me, Thanksgiving is the half-way mark of the Chrsitmas season, not it's prelude. But out here on the West Coast, there's a particular harbinger of the season that I quite actively miss, strange as it is. Kim, my Brooklyn kindred knew this fact, and pre-emptively sent a loving email with this image included.

I've never even seen the Radio City Christmas Show, but the TV adds for the production are so annoying that I began to love them and get excited every time they came on. I particularly like/hate the poor rhythm scansion when they sing "The Rock ETTES are all a-Dancing!". They place the syllabic emphasis on the second half of Rockettes as if its iambic, but the word should be spondaic, "stress- stress." And I sing along to it every year. But not anymore. And I can't seem to find the classic commercial on Youtube (anyone else?).

But nonetheless, for me, Christmas is officially here. More on that later.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"I'm Ready For the Big Time, Is It Ready For Me" - Kermit & Fozzie

It's official. In February I'll be headed to Albuquerque, NM with Ian to present our paper at the Southwest/Texas Popular and American Culture Association's annual conference. Their theme this year is "Reeling in the Years: 30 Years of Film, TV and Popular Culture".

Ian and I are presenting a paper that explores issues of faith as escapism and fundamentalist identity in Joss Whedon's Firefly. It still hasn't really hit me that I'm gonna be presenting a paper at an academic conference, much less that I'll have four days of attending lectures on these topics:

American Culture
Libraries, Archives, Museums, & Popular Culture
Computers, the Internet, & Technical Writing
Material Culture
Gender & Technology
Film, Television, & Radio
Science Fiction and Fantasy
Human Relations
Special Topics
Teaching and the Profession

I also can't quite believe that my first foray into the academic sphere will be in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category. But hey, we all know that's where all the real theological discourse in popular culture happens.

We'll be fine tuning, and well, writing the paper for the next two months, and I'll be finishing my crash course in Angel and Buffy, Whedon's epic TV contributions. I love this kind of homework.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Walking Back into Barnes & Noble

I have for years idetified myself as someone who avoids buying books at Barnes & Noble. I've probably forgotten most of the reasons why I don't "support" them, but its probably that general stuff about how they're ruining the publishing industry and killing local booksellers kind of thing. In true uninformed-hypocritical fashion, however, I purchase all my books and DVDs from Nonetheless, I try not to pour too much money into the B&N vacuum.

But I found myself the other day killing time at a Barnes & Noble that opened near my house. I have to admit, it was a surprisingly pleasant expereince. First, I perused 2009 calendars, and opted for a poster style calendar of vivd Japenese woodcuts. Runners up were the vintage postcards from Italy and Paris. I failed to buy a 2008 calendar, last year and as a result, have had not one but two 2007 calendars hanging in my room on the December page since, well, December 2007. I want to avoid that next year.

Then i went in search of Sarah Vowell's new release "The Wordy Shipmates," another of her whimsically ironic, rigourously researched examinations in American History, in this case, the Mayflower. On the way, a paperback on a new release display caught my eye. I recognized Edward Hopper's "Rooms By the Sea" wrapping around the front of a book and looked closer to find that it was actually the paperback release of a former professor of mine's memoir. I've had Allen Shawn's Wish I Could Be There: Notes on a Phobic Life on my wishlist for awhile, and was stoked to see the paperback sitting right there, looking engaging and well-marketed. I studied music composition with Allen, and also rank seeing the play he composed and co-wrote with his brother Wallace Shawn as one of my top ten most enjoyable nights in the theatre. Did I grab that book and purchase it? No, I updated my amazon wishlist to have the paperback instead of the hardcover.

What did I buy? Um, well, after six different people offered to let me borrow their copy of Twilight but never remembered to bring it, I caved an just bought a copy. I figure I might have lots of snarky or celebratory comments to write in the margins.

Then last of all, at the checkout counter, I was asked if I wanted to purchase a book for a charity book drive. They had three options. One was some generic looking juvenile fantasy novel, one was an Aztec-themed Choose Your Own Adventure, and the other was Oliver Button Is A Sissy by Tomie dePaola. This is one of the best children's books in existence, and I was happy to add $7 to my purchase so that a kid somewhere can have their own copy of it.
Overall, I didn't feel too awful about the money I spent at the Mega Bookstore.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Too Much Going On- Plus...

So my blog database (read: Brain) has been overloaded with things to write about to the extent that I just haven't written any of it. But here's a quick one: mystery gift appears in mail. An all-too precious yet bad-ass Johnny Cash pin, (which, if I hadn't lost it some years ago, would look great with my original, vintage Shirley Temple Fan Club pin), showed up in my pile of mail today.

But though it appeared enveloped and stamped- there is no postage meter marking or return address. Was this a drive-by gifting? And if so, was it a late B-day or quite early Christmas present?

Either way, I'm delighted, mildly disturbed and found this occurrence entirely blog-worthy.

I welcome any theories. The handwriting looks familiar, but not sure what to make of the missing postage info. Hmm...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Another School Movie

Blaine Hogan, former classmate, now MHGS alum, has collaborated on and produced another film piece profiling our school, this time with a focus on the faculty. Oh, it makes me happy. And not only do I get to see my beloved Jo-Ann Badley and Dwight Friesen underscored by music, but the music is written and performed by my dear, dear compatriot David Rice.

Enjoy, and please feel free to move to Seattle so you can say significant things in a film of your own one day. I am waiting for you!

mhgs what no. 2 from blaine hogan on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Another Friendly Haiku

The answer to your
question is "Yes, I'm burning
you in effigy."

Cussing After Happy Hour Haiku

You keep proving what
an asshole you are. Makes life
easier for me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

These Beautiful Ladies

Are Moving Into the White House





Monday, November 3, 2008

Film Club

The Film Club: A Memoir The Film Club: A Memoir by David Gilmour

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I may need to apologize to author David Gilmour for approaching this book as a hopeful manual on How To Educate Your Children By Watching Movies. Gilmour's memoir about his three year experiment of letting his son drop out of high school in exchange for watching three assigned films a week, is indeed a memoir, not a manifesto, but boy, I really wanted it to be a manifesto. Then I could hand this book to people and say "See? Watching 50 movies a month IS an education!" Nevertheless, it was interesting to read about other people's film obsessions (everyone's are different) and to read a true story of people taking risks on behalf of one another.

What I liked about Film Club, was both the boldness of a father noticing his son's growing frustration and rebellion at institutional education, and his ability to consider something out of the ordinary in hopes that it might give his son some space to figure things out for himself. Also, that the father provided discipline (3 movies a week, no drug use) but also invited his son, Jesse, into his (Gilmour's) most personal passions- both the actual movies, his own floundering career as a movie critic, and his stories of love and heartache. As dysfunctional as this father/son duo is, the leap off the beaten path opened up whole new vistas of trust, vulnerability and love between them.

What I wasn't as crazy about was simply that these guys are a mess. It's always hard to read memoirs about chaotic times and conflicted people, but at the same time, I have to take my hat off to Gilmour's gutsy move, both in the Film Experiment with Jesse, and in the candid, self-deprecating but also honoring way he wrote about it all.

Film Club may not be the clarion call to life transformation through movie watching I hoped it would be, but there's still a lot of transformation (and movie watching) worth reading about here.

View all my reviews.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Blogging with The Other Journal

We at Mars Hill Graduate School are fortunate to have in residence, The Other Journal, an an online academic journal about the intersection of theology and culture, often tag-lined as being more enteratinging than most academic journals, and more intellectually rigourous than mainstream magazines. Some fellow MHGS friends are interning there, and as part of that, are curating an "Other Journal" blog to showcase MHGS students' writing.
Shannon Presler was awesome enough to invite me to write about a favorite book- and I ate that assignment up like candy- like a box of Runts. Yum. He also was sweet enough to come up with my post's title and my bio as well (which, if I'd written it myself, would be ickily self-aggrandizing, but from him, makes me smile)


"Jane Behind Me, Jane Before Me, Jane Beside Me, Jane Within Me" by Kj Swanson

Thanks Shannon, and um, why aren't you blogging, fool?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hearing Mark's Endings: Listening to Ancient Popular Texts Through Speech Act Theory (Biblical Interpretation Series) (Biblical Interpretation Series) Hearing Mark's Endings: Listening to Ancient Popular Texts Through Speech Act Theory by Bridget Gilfillan Upton

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good academic treatment comparing/contrasting Mark's gospel with ancient Greek popular literature, focusing on the "aural type setting" of texts from oral/rhetorical culture: how written texts are shaped when they're meant to be heard, rather than read. It's a fine intro to approaching Mark's gospel as ancient popular text, and serves as a good entry place for wondering about how Mark's audience listened to and followed narrative, particularly in regards to the multiple possible endings to Mark's gospel.

View all my reviews.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Perfectly Timed for my BDay...

...the arrival of a check from these folks for whom I've had the honor to do some project help the last two years. Having left New York in 2006, I can't help feeling warm and fuzzy to still be depositing Off-Broadway paychecks. All my love to the Public crew! Say hello to the largest Starbucks in Manhattan for me.
Also in the mail, my voting ballot. Here's hoping third times the charm with presidential elections- the last two had address snafus that left my votes uncounted. I could have changed history...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More Music to Fall By

Most recent ITunes purchases: keeping me warm, cozy and studious:

Erik Friedlander's
Block Ice & Propane

An album of original cello compositions inspired by the great American Family tradition: driving cross country in a station wagon. Friedlander's sometime folk, sometimes avant garde pieces make amazing use of pizzicato that often sounds more like acoustic guitar travis picking than cello. Making great use of silence and quiet repetition, Block Ice & Propane can't help but make you feel you're in a scored documentary about the loneliness and also camaraderie that come with the open road.

Dog Daze
May I Kiss Your Hand

A good source of hammer dulcimer, fiddle, Hungarian folk tunes and some crazy Romanian vocals. I love these guys and can't help feeling happy every time a song comes up in my Playlist rotation. The lead vocalist often sounds like a mischievous child, or is he a mischievous old crazy man? I can't tell, but I fully enjoy him, his band and their wild gypsy music!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Another Friend Who Puts Up With My Nicknames For Him...

The "Existentialist's Essentials" Scarf for:

Name: Chase Williams

Occupation: Barista, Theatre Concessions

Locale: Seattle

My Favorite City is: Seattle

I Wish I Spent More Time: not regretting the things I haven't done.

Best After Dinner Treat: No food after dinner is a greater treat than a great dinner . . . but hot apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream comes pretty close.

Frisbees are Great Because: : ) they allow me to fly with them. to leave the ground and soar as they bend and turn and coast through the air, as my imagination becomes their reality.

Why Don't More People: get it?

You Know I'm Happy When: I can't stop myself from smiling.

Something I'd Like to Say is: ? . . . hard to tell

Kj and I: don't like people who need us to pretend that we're their friends while we sell them candy or coffee.

The Making of: This scarf has a complicated history- as complicated as the man himself. Back in March or so, Chase let me knit him a scarf. I was sort of stumped as to what colors to work with and what would best suit him while also expressing something about him. Chase is a complex, deep-thinking, ruminating sort who tends to have A LOT going on under the surface that will blow your mind once he gets talking. This guy can make poetry out of tossing frisbees (see above) and crack you up with his uncanny comic timing- like a frying pan suddenly hitting you over the head. Chase is always asking tough questions of himself and bristles under requirements to be anything that he is not (aka shallow). As such, I wanted his scarf to reflect that, and admittedly (to him and to myself) I kind of jumped overboard first time round. I tried, with a 5 color spectrum, to capture some of the Chase dynamic. But when it came to actually wearing it, Chase felt there was just too much going on.

(the rejected "Enigma" scarf)

So this time round, I met Chase at the yarn store and let him pick out the yarns (still a collaborative process) and what we ended up with were some nice wood, rust and steel colors. Once I knit it up, I realized that this made more sense. Don't give more complexity to a contemplative, give him the basics. So here's the Existentialist's Essentials, for my favorite Chasey-Pooh! I hope this one works out for you.

Also, the return of the "reject" scarf solved my own problem of being totally stumped as to what kind of scarf to knit for myself. Turns out its easier to just wear something you made for someone else than to figure what you'd like. Me and reject scarf are feeling pretty happy about each other so far.