Sunday, November 25, 2007

Monsters of Rock

There's a new obsession in the Brandt house.

Feelin' it.

All Nancy Wilson.


Because you know, what with school, teaching, writing, art, and Facebook - we really didn't have enough to occupy our time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Transcript of Yesterday's Support Group Meeting For Obsessive Dogs

Sunday at the dog park, Percy's best gal pal Piper swallowed one of his rubber balls whole. She's done this before. Thus, the transcript.

Percy: Why would they leave such a tasty pillow out if they didn't want me to eat it?
Piper: This is my feeling about the balls. Am I the only one who loves that rubbery feeling in my mouth?
Izzy: LOVE that feeling! LOVE IT!
Charlotte: Oh man, me too.
Santino: Nothing like it.
Percy: Have you guys even tried pillows? Slippers? LEATHER? Leather is the best!
Counselor: I think we're getting a little off-track here. Let's redirect. Last week we talked about treats, and we agreed that you all get plenty of treats.
Percy: A treat is completely different than a pillow. Not the same. Both have their place, don't get me wrong.
Piper: Does a treat have a squeak? I don't think so.
Percy: This is what I'm saying.

Friday, November 09, 2007

My Fambly

Okay, so Percy has been entering a new phase of life in which several changes have taken place, for the better or worse depending on how you look at it. After nearly a year with us, he seems, in his doggy way, to have become more certain that this is is permanent home, and that we are his permanent people, and although his personality is still not altogether typically doggy run to the door lick you all over the face, he is showing signs that he kinda digs us. One of the more obvious ways is that he just sits closer to us than he ever used to, whether it's on the sofa or on the bed, he'll just sidle up and lay his head on your lap or under your hand, as opposed to sitting down in his own little spot at the foot of the bed, or on the other end of the couch.

The more problematic behavior, of late, is that after TV/reading hour is over, Percy has become more and more reluctant to go to his own bed on the floor, and has repeatedly either whined to get back into bed with us, where, during sleeping hours, there is no room for Percy and our four legs. The repeated whining, however, is more or less intolerable, and so often one or the other of us will concede some space to Percy and contort our legs however we can so that we can go back to sleep. I suggested a king-sized bed, which Ben is not into. Then I had a genius idea. Ben could build a platform dog bed that will go at the foot of our bed, so that Percy would have the feeling that he's in our bed but really he isn't. I tested out this idea with a makeshift version where I put Percy's dog bed on top of the trunk already at the foot of the bed, which isn't really big enough (or stable enough, long-term), but amazingly, he went for it, and slept there for several nights before Ben brought home the new dog bed.

And I was thinking, hm, where am I going to move the antique trunk to when the dog bed comes home. My idea was that Ben would slap some two-by fours together with a piece of plywood.

I should have known my husband would never do such a thing.

What can I even say? My husband is the winner. The winner of the husbands. And my dog is about the luckiest dog ever. Paris Hilton's dogs wish they had beds like this.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Chocolate Louds

Ben went to Trader Joe's yesterday. Opening the bag looking for my chocolate cat cookies I saw what I thought was labeled "Chocolate Louds." I said, "Mmmm, chocolate louds...". Ben said, "Clouds. Chocolate clouds." I looked closely. Indeed, there was something resembling a cursive letter C in front of the all-cap serif font of LOUDS. I said, "Well, that's just bad design." Plus, while clouds of chocolate sound perfectly lovely, don't chocolate louds sound so much more exciting?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Bubblerama at the Midwest Film Festival

Hey, come see Bubblerama if you missed it! It's free! And it's opening for this movie!
Click below to RSVP!

George Saunders is Inside My Head And I Can Only Hope He Remains Blissfully Unaware of This Fact

From now on, in my classes, I think I’m just going to tell my students, ‘Please go get The Braindead Megaphone and read “Mr. Vonnegut in Sumatra” and “The Perfect Gerbil” (along with “The School” by Donald Barthelme), because these two pieces articulate, in a far more entertaining and intelligent manner than I ever could, exactly what I think about writing, and reading, and if you have any further questions, I’m sorry about that, because there isn’t anything at all that I can add to advance or illuminate the discussion, and your time would be just as well spent sitting here in silent contemplation for the next ten weeks.’

During the school year, I have little time to spend reading the ever-growing, nay, perilously Tower-of-Pisa-like pile of books on my nightstand, much as I am loving what little of it I have poked into lately (Roy Kesey – freaking fantastic! Deb Olin Unferth – totally want to be her in my next life! Tao Lin – whoa.) One could suggest that I cut back on my television viewing, to which I would say to one, ‘ For one thing, One, I have to have some entertainment while I’m in bed weaving our new living room rug (yes, One, you heard me right) also, most evenings, past the hour of say, eight, my brain begins to fuzz over and cannot properly absorb reading as well as it can earlier in the evening, and frankly, before you judge me, One, you should really check out Pushing Daisies, because it’s about the cutest show ever, I don’t care if anyone thinks it’s too precious, it is precious, but not in a Care Bears kind of way, just in a super fairy-tale bittersweet comic love story kind of way, with super cute 1950’s style clothes, and Anna Friel, if you’re a google-yourself kind of gal, and I hope you are, I would love for you to star in the movie version of my story of your choosing. Actually, I would write a story just for you to star in. (Although Pushing Daisies people, if I had any complaints, there’s maybe just a smidge more cleavage taking place on this show than seems necessary to move the plot. But maybe that’s just me.)

Getting back to Saunders, the piece about Vonnegut is so freaky to me, because the trajectory of my life as a writer bears some very similar, albeit completely different experiences. Unlike Saunders, I was introduced to Vonnegut in sixth grade – we also read a bunch of Pinter, and the following year, Salinger, and my pre-teen imagination ran completely wild. I had decided when I was eight that I was going to be a writer, and I had always loved reading, but it had never been more clear to me that this was what I wanted to do. Forget that I didn’t have much of an idea at the time about what any of it meant – it was odd and hilarious and gorgeous and it made me write stories about made up creatures that lived under the dining room table and babies born in empty rooms who aspired to be on Johnny Carson, but then I was assigned to read some people like Hemingway and some other perfectly fine writers like Austen and Fitzgerald (and with regard to Hemingway, heavy emphasis here on ‘assigned’, because I’m quite sure this assignment was in no way completed) and for reasons that escape me now, I completely forgot that the Vonneguts of the world existed and started thinking about themes and climaxes and denouements and trying to describe things, like I dunno, wildlife? bullfighting? women in petticoats named Eliza Jane? which weren’t things I was especially interested in, in our 11th floor apartment at 588 West End Avenue, I was interested in Wacky Packs,

and the Partridge Family,

and why my friend from fifth grade was showing up at school with belt marks on her back, and why my friend from sixth grade who used to be into old movies like me came back after the summer to seventh grade suddenly into sex and the marijuana.

Hm, this is so not where I thought I was going with this. Where was I going with this. Nowhere as usual, likely. The point, I think, is that it appears that Mr. Saunders had his own circuitous route to writing the way he writes, and I very much appreciate my unaloneness in that, and am reminded why I try to encourage my fellow writers and writing students to read all kinds of different stuff, not because they should be writing like Vonnegut or whoever floats their boat, and especially not to write in nice tidy upward sloping stories before coming back down at some mathematically predetermined end, but so that they go, ‘So, you’re saying that if Vonnegut writes like Vonnegut, maybe I can write like, er, me?’

To which I say yes, yes you can, and you don’t even have to wait until you’re thirty-five before you let anyone read it.