Monday, April 27, 2009

The Cottage: Ready For Summer

So, I live in a basement- but I call it 'The Cottage'. Why? Because
A) It's really more of a studio apartment- carpeted and demarcated into bedroom/office, living room and TV/DVD room, and
B) because I have my own entrance through the back. Our house is situated at the end of a cul de sac with an alley behind the house as well. So we have an uber-awesome backyard, which will soon be exploding with lilacs, roses and even green beans! So when I step out my 'front' door into the alley, I see this!It's kind of like the Secret Garden. We keep discovering new archeological items- landscaping from the original owners that was obscured by crazy overgrown bushes, etc. And since today is the closest thing I have to a real day off during this little intermission before classes start up again next Tuesday, I did what I've been wanting to do since I moved to the basement/Cottage last November: I cleared out all the scary junk that has been festering by our backdoor since before I moved in. I de-tarped, de-spidered and re-organized all our firewood (& stored it out of site), scooped out the scary piles of moldy ceiling insulation that fell into our garage two years ago, and well, I swept. Then Carrie helped me move our cute little dying bench from the deck, and we shuffled over another ancient decaying bench that used to be buried under ivy. Now I have two cute benches greeting my entrance, and it's only a matter of time till I can sit out here reading- and still kind of be in my bedroom. If this can't make me start loving spring and summer, I don't know what will.

School Break Haiku

So many Otter
Pop wrappers scattered about
the floor of my room

Saturday, April 25, 2009

And They Spelled My Name Right Too!

Okay, this post is going to be grossly self-aggrandizing (but isn't that what blogs are anyway?), but you see, I was bored and so I plugged my name into's book search and tada! found myself in two published books. Yes- me, actually me. This cracks me up! Admittedly, I knew about one of them and own a copy of it, but the other was quite a surprise.

While these books are basically just lists of programs, it's still fun to find oneself in print unexpectedly. Now if only I could find myself at the Kennedy Center Honors...unexpectedly. My aspirations are humble.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Reading what the Authors You Read Read: The Vicar of Wakefield

You can't get very far into Victorian literature without tripping over references to The Vicar of Wakefield. Either the novel's heroine is reading the book, making fun of the book or trying to teach her French pupils how to translate the book. Oliver Goldsmith's 1766 novel is sort of the Moby Dick of the 19th century, in that it was the book that everyone read, or was supposed to read, and thus, the default title to name drop. I'm not comparing the literary merit of Moby Dick and Vicar of Wakefield, just the fact that as for us 20/21st century folks who can't really read a magazine or watch a TV show without eventually getting a reference to the 100 year old Moby Dick, so the 19th centurty folk couldn't pass a garden gate without someone quoting the 100 year old Vicar of Wakefield. Which is why I decided to read it. After about the ninth reference, somewhere between Frankenstein and Middlemarch, I thought i might as well see what all the chatter is about.
I was amused to find that scholarship on Vicar of Wakefield is still in debate as to whether it's satire or sincere. The highly sentimental and ridiculous plot, matched with the idealistic and oblivious narrator, make it difficult to imagine anyone reading the novel seriously- but people did/do. I think that's the mark of genius satire; you've satirized something so well that those whom you are satirizing actually think it's great. Thus, most of my encounters with Vicar references are tongue in cheek, winking at the reader whenever introducing a character who loves it- you pretty much know they're either simple, shallow or stupid.Which isn't to say the book is stupid- it brilliantly challenges a world-view based on romantic concepts of providence and prudence that turns a blind eye to personal responsibility and social accountability. The very fact that horrendous things keep happening to the characters, only to be turned into blissfully wonderful endings with no effort at all, points to the absurdity of expecting one's life to follow the pattern of the moralistic tales of the period. Vicar of Wakefield, painted in its its pastoral colors of goodwill and virtue, actually serves as a foil to the real hardships encountered in daily life- causing the reader, almost bitterly, to wonder why real life isn't like this. Don't let the sweet stupidity of the characters fool you- this book is actually warning you not to be as sweet and stupid as its characters. I think that's why it makes for such good inside jokes by the likes of Jane Austen, George Eliot and Charlotte Bronte- women who could not abide vapidity or surface morality. Texts above are: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; The Professor by Charlotte Bronte; Frankenstein by Mary Shelley; Villette by Charlotte Bronte; Emma by Jane Austen

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Want To Help Produce a Movie?

Read Here for more info about how you can support the upcoming film adaptation of Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz, which I've mentioned previously. If you've got money, they'd love to talk. Frankly, I would love to talk to you if you've got money. Interested in producing my one-woman version of "Annie"? I've been developing it for over twenty years. I think it's ready!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How Stories Enchant Forests

Robert K. Johnston, referencing C.S. Lewis about the "something more" that happens in story.
-For Lewis this something more is not an escape from reality, though it is a reality baffling to the intellect. "It may not be 'like real life' in the superficial sense, but it sets before us an image of what reality may well be like at some more central region." When children, for example, read of enchanted woods, they do not begin to despise the real woods. Rather, "the reading makes all real woods a little enchanted." -
from Reframing Theology & Film

For the Spiro Ladies Who Enchant My Life

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Crime & Punishment Cocktails

It's a new season at Intiman, which means a new selection of show-themed cocktails. Wasn't hard to guess what we'd name the cocktails for the current production of Crime and Punnishment.

The Crime
Muddled lime and blood orange
Mandarin Orange Vodka
Triple Sec
Spalsh of Sour Mix
Shake and serve up
Drop 1 count of Sloe Gin
garnish with slice of blood orange

The Punishment
Dark Creme de Cacao
Shake and serve up
Drizzle chocaloate syrup into martini glass

Also- "interesting" new marketing tool. Here's a teaser trailer that's being shown in select local movie theatres.

Monday, April 13, 2009

"We Don't Develop Plays. WE DO THEM"

Just got Invivted to THIS. It's days like this that I miss New York.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Welcome Wagon Not Welcome Here

Fellow MHGSer Luke Abernathy posted a review of 'The Welcome Wagon" on The Other Journal's blog roll. Luke is a prolific and acutely discerning music reviewer- and I totally respect his take on the album- but totally disagree. Here's my response to the uber-annoying, soggy saltine of an album: Welcome to the Welcome Wagon.I wish I could agree with you Luke- I found the Sufjanesque-ness painfully pretentiously precious. It's hard to imagine this album having taken eight years. It's sounds mannered and unconvincing- the musical equivalent of frat guys wearing plaid and Buddy Holly glasses to look unkempt and indie. it just feels like it's aping a style. While the fact that hypothetically it isn't fake because of the relationship and collaboration with Sufjan- it's really my whole Mamm Mia dilemma- i love ABBA too much to have it musical theaterized. I love Sufjan Stevens too much to have him poorly duplicated- even if he's a part of the duplication. (Benny and Bjorn from ABBA were part of their own duplication too- doesn't make it okay).

Not Evelyn Cho

The short film my brother Matt wrote is now available for purchase online through the Global Short Film Network. It's $2. It was filmed last summer at Culver City Studios on the same lot as the original King Kong.
Congrats Matt.
Looking forward to seeing more of this title card.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Honesty as Challenge, Honesty as Gift

Undergoing God: Dispatches from the Scene of a Break-in Undergoing God: Dispatches from the Scene of a Break-in by James Alison

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars

You know it's a good sign when you find yourself recommending a book to five people in a week, and you haven't even finished reading it. This is what happened to me with James Alison's compelling, surprising and gallant theological study into issues of atonement and spiritual/relational honesty. In both parts I and II of the book, Alison explores the grace that occurs when someone willingly enters the place of shame so someone else does not have to. Alison defines as honesty as distinct from sincerity or “holding fast to the truth”, in that honesty should be “something of which we are so massively the recipients that we can’t really be its brandishers as if it were our own” (180). Coming from a gay Catholic priest, Alison's message of power-relinquishment and humility/openness in the face of disingenuousness and oppression by the larger Christian community, is astonishing, gut-wrenching and redeeming. This book is as much confession as it is plea, and as such, creates the very space for difference and diversity that Alison humbly and yearningly asks of from the Church. It is a beautiful plea, and daringly honest confession.

"...the search for reconciliation becomes something enflamed by other fires. Something rather like a deep unconcern about myself is born, and a desire to be reconciled with the other because I know that both he and I will be much more...if we are reconciled. That is to say, triumph for me passes through his being made whole and not his diminishment." 117-118.

View all my reviews.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Open Bar

Some blurry pictures of tonight's open bar event. I love tag-teaming with Ian. If it wasn't for these dishes, I'd be THIS much closer to finishing tonight's all nighter. Oh well, mama needs the cash.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Abigail Jean & Freya Kathryn

The youngest Swanson ladies.

Singing What You See

Here's another Jonathan Mann song- it might be my favorite. He's writing a song a day. The Description from his website for the song says "#81! “From My Front Door Vol. 1” Images seen while looking out from my front door set to music and lyrics."

It's pretty much how I feel these days- I'm running on half a battery- and all I can really do is sort of notice things- but can't really engage. Hoping to re-enter the world in two weeks or so. Hopefully. And I'll meet my new niece Freya Kathryn on Monday. It's hard having to see her on Facebook before I see her in person when she's only 15 minutes away. There's the understatement of the year.

Enjoy this simple song.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Edna & I Feel Similarly About Spring

Edna St. Vincent Millay

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of earth is good.
It is apparent there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots,
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.