iTu(n)esday

I’m trying to be In The Moment as I write this, but it’s challenging, because I’m sitting in the airport, getting ready to fly to NYC. My belly has been dreaming of pierogies and borscht at Veselka since my last trip there three years ago.

To try to distract myself from the thought of beet-y goodness, I went to a ’90s party on Saturday. I dressed up as Courtney Love, since the promise of incessant mockery in my hometown prevented me from doing so in 1994. (So did being 12, I guess.) There were Pop Rocks and Pixy Stix, but they were even better than they were in the ’90s because now they were dissolved in vodka. 

Besides missing the boat on riot grrl, I also missed the boat on Unrest. I never once heard this song, from 1993, until probably 2005, and maybe later. FAIL, 1990s. And now it is maybe my favorite song the decade produced, with the maybe exception of Weezer’s “El Scorcho.” Anyway:

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Shinin’ and swappin’

Yesterday was an introvert day for me. My summer has been filled to the BRIM with people, and it’s been awesome, but I needed one friggin’ day to lay on my couch with my cat and read books start-to-finish.

 

I made one of my summer resolutions happen Friday night, with a tiny dinner party with my boyfriend and two of our friends. We ate shrimp enchiladas, judged my cat for falling off things, swapped books, told rock & roll stories, and drank an entire jar of the peach moonshine (all the way from Mississippi!) that I’ve been holding onto since May. I’ve had this stuff several times, and I know precisely how dangerously drinkable it is.

 

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The rest of this jar was finished by the time I went to bed.

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This is the stack of books I got. There is glorious rock and roll reading ahead. There was glorious stout drinking from Michigan’s Brickside Brewing behind.

Hosting a kind of Southern/Mexican dinner featuring moonshine and book swapping with friends? Here are 5 songs for the playlist.

1. Alejandro Escovedo, “Always a Friend”

2. Peggy Lee, “A Doodlin’ Song”

3. the Be Good Tanyas, “The Littlest Birds”

4. the 4onthefloor, “Junkie”

5. Johnny Cash, “Aloha Oe” (double points if one of the books you swap is Sarah Vowell’s Unfamiliar Fishes)

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Shut up, I know. This time I have an excuse.

Rather spur of the moment I got the chance to spend the week at a literacy institute at a local college, which is exciting and inspiring and exhausting. My boyfriend also came back after a week out of town, and we had dinner and went to see a performance of the podcast “Welcome to Night Vale,” which I had listened to twice. I think I’m sold on it now.

Me: “I was trying to explain to my work friends what I was seeing, and I said, ‘Well, it’s based on an H.P. Lovecraft story,’ and then they asked who that was, and I said he was a horror writer…and then I just trailed off and said, ‘It’s really my boyfriend’s thing.'”

Ben: “You could have said, ‘It’s like if NPR produced “Eerie, Indiana.”‘

Me: That will mean nothing to any of us. It means nothing to me. I’ll just tell them to Google it.

Maybe it means something to you? If so, that’s what Welcome to Night Vale is like. If not, Google it.

Here’s the benefit of blogging late: there was a musical guest who walked out looking like a Victorian woman in an insane asylum. (In a good way.) And she made creepy-sounding music on glockenspiels, and toy pianos, and autoharps. And, like, a jack-in-the-box. But she had a Disney voice! She should be belting out “Let It Go” or “A Whole New World” or something. So now I’ve discovered Eliza Rickman, and I bought “Devil’s Flesh and Bone” this morning, because I woke up at 4 AM today and decided I might as well just go to Starbucks, because obviously I’ll need it. 

And thus a boring blog post that just said “I bought these songs just because I like them” was avoided.

iTu(n)esday

Well, guys, I’m a liberal, and we’re required to take a blood oath saying that we hate America, so the 4th of July isn’t really a big deal to me. It’s the day that scares my cat and makes him hide in the closet, and if I’m working summer school gives me a day off. So yeah, that’s all well and good, but it was never about boat rides or grilling or even getting drunk off PBR to me, although any of those things are a-ok with me.

Perhaps the least patriotic thing about me is: I do not love Beyonce. I don’t hate Beyonce, but I think she’s overrated, and I just don’t get why people are so bonkers over her.

That being said, last weekend I felt like I needed a good-time party jam, for no particular reason because I stayed home reading with the kitty all weekend and he doesn’t care much if I listen to good-time party jams or not. (He just doesn’t like music with computer-y sounds, which made my boyfriend say, “Your cat and I have very different taste in music,” and it made me laugh.) Anyway, I was thinking about how much I loved “Independent Women” when I was in high school, so that was my pick for the week. Brings me back to thinking that the world would be my oyster, when I thought, “Yeah! I’ll own my own house, and rock my own rock,” whereas now I’d never be able to throw up my hands; I’d just waggle a couple of fingers tentatively because that’s how many dollas I profit.

I gave money to Beyonce via iTunes but I refuse to give her any more YouTube hits. Here’s some awesome late ’90s/early aughts style instead.

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There’s more to life than books…

I’m getting caught up, guys. I’m not quite at 60 books yet, but I’m creeping up there. There are 6 weeks(ish) left until the new school year picks up, and one flight ahead with a long layover each way. I have good feelings about how July will pan out. Here’s what I read in June.

You wouldn’t think a book about garbage would be boring, would you? Oh, you would? I’ve read some really interesting books about garbage–no lie, they’re out there–but you would be right about Gone Tomorrow. SO boring.

I’ve been told it’s weird that I have a favorite economist. I assume it would be even weirder that I have a favorite branch of economics. It’s behavioral economics. Books like Predictably Irrational always make me think that I’m about to completely change the way I spend my money. Then I remember that the Dollar Spot exists at Target, and all is lost. It’s worth a read anyway: maybe you’re a stronger person than I.

The Sentimentalists won this big literary prize in Canada when it was published, and I guess Canadians did not love it, but I thought it was good. But then again I like books about Vietnam War vets, even when they’re ambiguous. ESPECIALLY when they’re ambiguous.

Nuclear bombs aside, I think Truman was a pretty decent president. The author of Citizen Soldier came right out and said that she wasn’t attempting to write a scholarly biography of Truman (and all but said, Why don’t you put this down and go read the biography that McCullough or Ambrose did, huh?), which, mission accomplished, but it was a decent overview. She did seem weirdly dismissive of Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Leslie Knope in me can’t get behind that.

Guys, I wanted to hate The Alchemist. Books that CHANGE PEOPLE’S LIVES make me wary, as a general rule. But I liked it. I really did.

Someone at school brought The Disappearing Spoon  to the book swap we held at our school picnic. I figured that since that swap was my idea (humblebrag: it was a smashing success and a lot of kids are gonna read this summer) I got first crack at the grown-up books. If you’ve got the kind of science mind that I have, meaning that I’m generally bad at it, a lot of this book will be confusing. But the parts about Marie Curie alone made it worthwhile. (Spoiler alert: apparently she had a rep for being a bit of a tart. Good for you, Marie!)

My boyfriend loooooves the Cracked website, so he essentially demanded that I read a book by one of its authors, How to Fight Presidents. It was pithy, and informed me that I probably couldn’t beat any of them. Especially Teddy Roosevelt, who, unlike the author, is the one I would probably most like to beat up. (The Ernest Hemingway of Presidents, says me.) Also, last time we did trivia Ben demanded that we change our team name to the Millard Fillmore Appreciation Society. It didn’t help.

As I’ve mentioned, I felt super-creepy reading Lolita on the bus. Even if no other passengers knew what the book was about, there is not a single edition that has a non-creepy cover. Lolita is my BFF Krista’s favorite book, and she pretty much never steers me wrong. Although the fact that she’s a fluent French speaker really helped her out. Did Nabokov put in so much French just to be like “Oh, just thought I’d show you that not only am I writing this entire novel in my second language, here’s some of my third, too?” Probably. (I would.)

I may or may not have sat down and read Love Life in a single afternoon at the library. It was not as good as the first, because I am so well-versed in Rob Lowe’s memoirs that I can rank them, and I was hoping for more Parks & Rec gossip, but that’s pretty much the prevailing theme of my life.

I find it misogynist that there’s no word for a guy version of chick lit. High Fidelity is male chick lit. So is The Understudy. Which, fine. Just, if there’s a book about the male version of Bridget Jones, could someone PLEASE think of a quippy, reductive name to describe it?

Burnt Offering is another one of my boyfriend’s books. It’s self-published, and by someone he knows. It made me a little nervous, because I’m an asshole, and one who studied Lit in college. But I woke up before him when I stayed at his place last weekend, and needed something to do, so per usual I went through his bookshelves. And I actually really liked it. Like, stayed-up-until-1 AM-reading-it liked it. If Stephanie Plum books have gotten too trite for you, it could be up your alley.

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Isn’t it funny how weird things can make you feel like an adult? Yesterday I bought sweet corn. I don’t think I’ve ever bought sweet corn and made it just because I felt like eating it. Turns out, it wasn’t that good. One of the few areas my hometown beats Minneapolis is in Number of Farmers Selling Local Sweet Corn Out of Pickups Next to City Hall. It’s the sweet corn I grew up with, and it’s hard to beat.

One thing that does not make you feel like an adult is when it’s summer vacation and you start forgetting what day of the week it is.

Luckily, my sins have been absolved by the Gods of Making Up Ridiculous Holidays, because today is I Forgot Day. So let’s pretend it’s Tuesday.

If I had gotten my shit together months ago, I would’ve bought tickets to see Courtney Barnett. Of course it sold out, BUT she did an in-store at the Electric Fetus. There would’ve been photographs, but Ignatius had spitefully fucked around with the stuff on my nightstand and my camera was nowhere to be seen at the moment. You’ll have to believe me when I say that Courtney Barnett has really good bangs. Or watch the video, I guess. She had the kind of awkward banter a musician has when they’re not used to making stage banter yet. It’s one of my top five favorite types of banter.

I should’ve downloaded this song looooong ago (I love when singers sing with accents, especially when they’re singing about gardening and improperly using asthma “puffers”), but this has been the month where I hang out with Aussies, so it’s appropriate now.