Tuesday, December 22, 2009

from http://unsolvedmysteries.tumblr.com/

Monday, December 21, 2009

Things my friend Mike made

My friend Mike can do anything, like this kitchen. After a couple of inconclusive conversations in which Cath and I try to express our "vision" he just comes over and makes stuff and we end up thinking "damn, our vision was good."

This here is what he started with. Not the best "before" photo because it doesn't show the awful stuff Mike had to rip out before he could put in the new range hood and that cool white paneling, but you get the gist of it.
And then there's this, too, the kinds of shelves I've gone to sleep thinking about since I was twelve. Could a Kindle ever give you the feeling you get when you sit down and look at something like this--your books, some of your things, just there for you, if and when you need them?
Deciding what books to put where was not easy. Not all of them made the cut and got left in other corners. Those that did I decided to arrange by color, though it came out kind of random.
Goodbye, bricks and boards. Unfortunately, now I have no excuse not to finish the couch project that supplied me with those long plywood planks. I need a new biscuit joiner, though. Maybe that's my excuse.
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Prettiest Bay

Just uploaded some pictures from Thanksgiving finally. Here's Mom and me crossing the street in Petoskey on our way to some lazy shopping in the more "authentic" of the two bookstores in town. It is hard for me to imagine a bay prettier than Little Traverse, the one in the distance down there, all year long, too. If a bay can't show me four seasons then forget it.
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Friday, December 18, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Favorite Music, 2009, Part Two

5. Bibio--Ambivalence Avenue

Just something to play in the background and not think about too hard. Silence is good for that, too, but this record can take the edge off of silence when you need it to.

4. Washed Out--Life of Leisure
Just an ep, like 16 minutes long, but that just means you get to put it on repeat and hear your favorite songs more frequently. This is the 80s like you remember it, songs that sound like what was playing in the car when I was in high school, driving to a friend's house where I was hoping a girl I liked would be there or maybe driving home from dropping her off at her house later.

3. Animal Collective--MPP
I kind of think of this album as the death of Animal Collective now, and not because it made them kind of popular but because or yeah maybe that is the reason. I just know I play the live versions of these songs more than this record. But still, they're just all alone out there, doing the things they do. I wish that I went up to play soccer with them before the show in Detroit when I had the chance. I was concerned about getting a good spot near the stage, tho.

2. Dirty Projectors--Bitte Orca
This one is so cool and intense I have to set it down and walk away for a few weeks at a time, but it's one of the few from this year that I can see myself still really liking in the future, like in 2099.

1. Grizzly Bear--Veckatimest
Pretty bandwagonesque safe move here, but this is a no-brainer, as they say. At least for me it is. Didn't much care for it the first couple of times because it doesn't have any obvious "Knife"-like songs that stand out. They win "Band I'd most like to be in" for 2009.

0. Deer Hunter--Microcastles
Last year's #1 is still just so awesome and I play it so much that I have to put it on the list here, too.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Favorite Music, 2009, Part One

So, this is really for me, I guess, but in case you're interested. Really strange list this year for some reason. To end some of the suspense for them, here are the honorable mentions: Camera Obscura, Bill Callahan, Mountain Man, Washed Out, Atlas Sound, Yo La Tengo, Neon Indian.

10. Wavves

We were supposed to be bored of this dude months ago, but you can't deny the fun. If you had half an hour, you could have written most of these songs, but you don't have it.

9. Black Moth Super Rainbow, Dandelion Gum

This didn't come out in 2009, but I have played it 4,000 times this year and I still can't tell if it sucks or not, which says something. Not sure what. Makes me think of snow.

Sometimes sounds like Boards of Canada and sometimes sounds like this.

8. Au Revoir Simone--Still Night, Still Light

Three sylphs dancing behind their synthesizers like they are at a Belle & Sebastian show. David Lynch tweeted about them.This is the wussiest entry on the list this year.

7. The XX--XX

It is just so good--clean and simple and I love the way the dude's voice sounds along with the girl's voice. I think they're real young, this group, so I don't know how they learned about The Cure.

6. Real Estate

Most recent pick up, and I first tried it just because Pitchfork said it was decent. And they were right. It is either lo-fi or just poorly recorded or maybe that is the same thing. A little more "jangly" than most of my music usually. Or maybe that's not true. Maybe they fit in the Ola Podrida, Band of Horses kind of sound.

5. Avey Tare and Kria Brekken--the re-reversed version of Pullhair Rubeye.

So they recorded an amazing album and then reversed it, making it a bad one, and released it that way, and then people re-reversed it and it is good again. I strum the songs on guitar and it doesn't sound that good but it doesn't have to now does it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A great quote in last week's New Yorker, in an article about the painter Luc Tuymans, who describes how he creates his work: "It's like I don't know what I'm doing but I know how to do it."

Peter Schjeldahl, the article's author, notes that "uncertain ends, confident means is about as good a general definition of creativity as I know."

I love how great definitions of this kind of head-space, or whatever you call it, can both "nail it" and still feel great distances away from handing it to us.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Wing Haven

What an insanely nice fall weekend. Leaf raking is only fun for about 15 minutes, so after an hour of it we tried out a new nature preserve we'd never visited. It had a pretty lake with one of those docks that sits just barely above the water and has a rotten plank you have to step over. Those are the best.
Smokey, balking at the top of the stairs. She sat there for a long dog-minute, thinking "no way can my old bones handle that," but she did okay.

This is the side of my face that does not have a scary growth attached to it. The other side has this weird eye-lid thing going on, even though I have given it plenty of time to fix itself. That strategy has not worked very well for me this past year. It occurs to me that "scary growths" are things you are supposed to have "checked out" by "doctors." Maybe that should happen soon.
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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Haunted birthday

The skeletons threw a haunted birthday party this year.
There were games.
And some music.
And then they started burning stuff and dancing weird. We had to cast some "go back to the grave" spells and stuff to make them leave. Same thing happens every year.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The last leaves left at Chain O' Lakes State Park! Time for a hike!

But the kids, they want to go home. They forget they want to go home, and they want to go home again.
"See, we're right . . about . . lost. Yes, we're lost." Bad Eagle Scout.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What a picture. Just won the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009 award, according to the Beeb.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Up north last weekend the kids came across this: crawdadicide. Not often you see this many crawdads killed at once. The seagulls might be organizing, hunting in packs. Keep your eyes up.
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Scarecrow on Fire

We all think about suddenly disappearing.
The train tracks lead there, into the woods.
Even in the financial district: wooden doors
in alleyways. First I want to put something small
into your hand, a button or river stone or
key to I don’t know what. I don’t
have that house anymore across from the graveyard
and its black angel. What counts as a proper
goodbye? My last winter in Iowa there was always
a ladybug or two in the kitchen for cheer
even when it was ten below. We all feel
suspended over a drop into nothingness.
Once you get close enough, you see what
one is stitching is a human heart. Another
is vomiting wings. Hell, even now I love life.
Whenever you put your feet on the floor
in the morning, whatever the nightmare,
it’s a miracle or fantastic illusion:
the solidity of the boards, the steadiness
coming into the legs. Where did we get
the idea when we were kids to rub dirt
into the wound or was that just Pennsylvania?
Maybe poems are made of breath, the way water,
cajoled to boil, says, This is my soul, freed.

Dean Young
from American Poetry Review
June/July 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

show tell

Show and Tell club, the opening act. I don't remember for sure now but I think this is a painting of a cake or a pie or a pancake. To me, it says all of those things, and makes connections for me that I had never made before. Very cute. My kids brought (a) a paper basket and (b) rocks.

My best in show was probably these . . . neat things David and Marie made. "Diorama" doesn't do them justice.

We only saw two of the twelve or so they have in their collection, part of a "museum" they set up to amuse nieces and nephews recently. Photos don't do them justice. To see them is to have to want to make them, saving cardboard boxes and wondering how tiny objects in your house would look inside them, like what cool poems make you do with words.
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Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Couldn't miss the Mississenwa 1812 reenactment this year, where folks drive from three states away to dress up in either wool or grease paint and sleep outside for three nights to celebrate the massacre of some Indians a long time ago. I think that's it, anyway--I didn't read the whole brochure.
Cute little Indians reacting to the noise of the "thundersticks" that went off during the big fake battle.
This guy's funny. His fire eating routine has been pretty much the same for the last three years and he seems tired of it, maybe, and some of the little kids who had seen it before were yelling out spoilers and stuff. He was a good sport about it, though, and I still laugh. He makes fire-eating look temptingly easy, I must say.
Not-real Indian getting a real Indian tattoo, the Indian way, and telling us all about it.
I really love this event. The costumes are amazing and the people are so thorough in their attention to detail. For something so fake, it is very authentic and I believe every minute of it. And plus the weather is always the perfect kind autumn weather, the first weekend of it, it seems like, for a drive down an interstate and then state highways and then of course the rolling two tracks down to the slow river. All the way there you've got yellowing fields and the clouds and they are pretty and then the sun comes out and it is pretty, too.
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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Eric et Clare

There are no bad weddings, but this one was especially special. Clare's brother is with the parks dept. so he had them make an entire beautiful park for them and then ordered up my favorite weather: nice.
It was the wedding brought to you by . . the past! At least according to the predominant photographic processes. This stash here was turned into, by reception time, just the greatest photo album. It made me a little sad to see how nice the B&W turned out, because it's not anything like the tones I get with my digital rig and I know I'm never going back down to my darkroom so I just have to live with it.
Tiffany, the Wyfe, and Marie. We picnicked afterwards and what a great idea that was to have that kind of wedding, where you picnic. Even picnicking without a wedding would be nice, I have decided.
The first walk. Eric and Clare have just the highest nice & cool factor of anyone I know, and you can't hope to match them because that would require trying and trying is not cool. You just go to their wedding and be glad they are your friends.
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