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Writer's Block: Love Me Tender

What is your favorite Elvis Presley song?

These are a few of my favorite things...

Thank you, Deen, for being my partner in crazy these past weeks.

1.  The hat in my icon.  Every year I spend a week camping in Pennsylvania with more than 10,000 other crazy people who pretend to be medieval.  For a huge part of that week I walk a giant field, carrying gallon jugs of water and gatorade to the thousands of fighters so they hopefully won't pass out or worse.  And have never gotten sunburned, or even turned lightly pink, and I owe to that hat.

2. My bike.  It is a Giant hybrid, that Misterreal gave me for my 27th birthday.  I don't get to ride enough, but I love it.

3. A small sketch of a crow.  A friend of mine bought this for me at the Pitchfork festival from the artist Diana Sudyka.  The crow is in a tree, holding a book in its claw.  Here is an example of her work - http://www.dianasudyka.com/paintingPages/raventree.html

4. A bust of Shakespeare.  A gift from Deen!  He towers over my living room, nestled between two stacks of collections of his plays, so my cats cannot knock him from his perch.  Again.

5. The certificate of First Communion of Marthe Dequist.  I found this at an antique store in New Orleans on the trip I took there just as Katrina was bearing down on the city.  Written in French, it was issued in 1941 in Orleans Parish, and was printed in Chicago.

6. A ceramic, table-top Christmas tree.  It is white with clear glitter, and multi-colored plastic ornaments, many of which are missing, and the star on top will no longer fit, since the tip is chipped off.  It was made for me when I was twelve by a very sweet woman who worked with my father.  Every where I have lived (including my dorm) it has been the first thing I bring out every Christmas and the last thing I put away.

7. Green Le Creueset dutch oven.  Another gift from the Mister.  I love using this pot.  The thought of cooking with it gets me stupidly excited, and it is the perfect weight for making a perfect roux, and there for my admittedly fantastic gumbo.

8. A primitive art wooden, winged cat marrionette.  She is called Sky Pony (based on a ridiculous joke about my cat Falco), and hangs from my kitchen ceiling.  My friend Jane the Tall gave her too me for my birthday  two years ago and the sight of her makes me smile every morning.

9. Elvis in a bottle.  As a promotion for a small book on Southern, trash crafts, a woman made a set of 'scuptures' that involve a plastic, 2 litre pop bottle, a plastic Elvis figuring, and some gold glitter.  Because I was the book buyer at Barbara's at the time I received one of these gems.

10. Brown cashmere sweater.  A few years ago at Christmas I was shopping at Banana Republic with my beautiful (and generally invisible) friend Bob.  There was a shelf a gorgeous, dark brown men's sweaters made out of heavy, heavy cashmere.  They were regularly something like $400.  Below them was a shelf of plain cotton sweaters that had been marked down to $25.00.  Whoever was doing the markdown had not been paying attention and also maked down the $400 sweaters.  I wear that thing around the house all winter, every winter, and I am never cold.

Quick, into the lifeboat!

As I have said before, I love acting, and actors.  Well, I love the idea of actors, anyway, and I tend to get really obsessed over performance, and I was thinking of doing a list of my ten favorite performances in TV and film.  The list practically writes itself.  But then I thought, "Do I love those characters?"  In some cases, say Russell Crow as Jack Aubrey, yes, but in others, say Russell Crow as Jeffery Wigant, no.  The performance as Wigant is without a question his best performance, and for me maybe the best performance I have ever seen, but Wigant for all that he is real life hero, does not stir my heart the way that the following characters do.  These are the people I want in my lifeboat, for good or for ill.

Once again, in no particular order -

1.  Alan Shore (James Spader) Boston Legal - Spader is a great actor.  One of the underappreciated giants, as well as being brilliant and strange in real life, the two qualities I most admire in anyone.  I adore Alan Shore.  He is able to tell the difference between what should be treated seriously, and everything else.  And most of life qualifies as everything else.  He is good at his job, unafraid of anything, and perverted, and, most importantly a true, and ever-loyal friend.  He is everything a man should be.  And a little more, from what the show implies.

2. Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) The Night Stalker - Oh Carl, in your rumpled suit and pork-pie jazz hat, always chasing stories you can never print.   Carl is the orginal of all of those urban fantasy and horror novels that are clogging the publishing houses these days.  As a reporter for a Chicago wire-service paper in the early 70s, Carl was forever discovering that the real causes of our crimewaves are not gangs, the mob, or even drug dealers, but rather zombies, ancient Greek witches, and even Jack the Ripper.  Inspite of not being a particularly heroic or brave man, Carl, unable to ever persuade the police or his editor of the real threat, always did his research, gathered his holy water, stakes, camera, and tape recorder, and set out to slay the beast, keeping the Windy City safe for another week.

3. Whitney Ellsworth (Jim Beaver) Deadwood - I didn't even know that Ellsworth had a first name until I looked it up just now.  I have only ever shed a tear over the passing of a handful of characters in my entire life, and Ellsworth will probably end up being the last.  The tough, gentle-hearted, endlessly kind, and profanely poetic Ellsworth deserved a better fate, as do we all.

4. Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal) Secretary - It is wise woman who knows herself, and is unafraid of that knowledge.  Lee may be the bravest female character ever filled. 

5. Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni) Veronica Mars - I loved Enrico Colantoni on the very good, mostly forgotten sitcom, Just Shoot Me, so when I first saw him on VM I was deeply excited.  And never disappointed.  Who would think a show about bright, damaged teenagers would feature one of the most mature, loving, and funny father figures since...since somebody.... there has to be another awesome dad out there somewhere, right?  Anyway, I have written at length about Keith before, you can look it up.

6. Jack Aubrey (Russell Crow) & 7. Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) Master and Commander - You really cannot have one without the other.  Jack is the consumate 18th century man - a lover of the arts, drink, food, and pleasures, as well as a stirring figure, one who any man would follow into battle.  Stephen embodies the 19th century, reserved, scientific to a fault, somewhat humorless if not lacking in wit, deeply moral and loyal.  They are not only marvelous characters, but together are the best married couple ever on film.

8. Omar Little (Michael Kenneth Williams) The Wire - Omar is the embodiment of honor among thieves.  A concept that seem to elude most business people these days.  I think the world might be a better place with a few more Omars and a lot fewer bankers.

9. Daria (Tracy Grandstaff) Daria - As previously stated, Daria c'est moi.  And self-love is the first step to a happy life, right after a lot of money and physical beauty.

10. Randal Graves (Clerks & Clerks II) Jeff Anderson - as someone who has worked in the service industry most of my life Randal is my hero.  He speaks for us all when he says,
Randal Graves: You know who I can do without? I can do without the people in the video store.
Dante Hicks: Which ones?
Randal Graves: All of them.

Sorry about the cut again.

I hate you LJ

Like Deen, I just lost what I wrote.  Freaking hell.  And I don't have time to redo that now, so I am saving it.  So here is, um,

Ten Interesting Things I See Around My Desk -

1. A book on Victorian Criminals
2. A Smithsonian Collection of protest songs.
3. A blue, Robin Hood-style hat with "Goon Squad" embroidered on it.
4. An Elvis wall-clock with the hands broken off of it.
5. The soundtrack album to The Three Musketeers, signed by Michael York.
6. Three Nerf guns painted to look like they are made of brass and wood.
7. A Jane Austen Action Figure
8. A framed Sun-Times interview with me, with a photo of me looking like a failed housepainter.
9. Three swords.  No, make that four.
10. Three boxes of reproductions of English maps from the 16th - 19th century.


Apologies to the flist - I can get the freaking LJ cut to work!

I love cover songs.  To qualify for this list the new version of the song has be a genuinely new work that caused me to rethink the piece of music.

Top Ten Favorite Covers - in no particular order -

1. The Times They Are A'Changing - Vice Squad - I am not a big folk music fan, but Times is one of the seminal songs of the 20th century.  Considering how many times it has been remade since Dylan wrote it is amazing how powerful remains.  For me no version speaks better of how the times have changed than this version sung by Punk Rock queen Beki Bondage.

2. Hi-Ho (the Dwarves Song) - Tom Waits - Tom has done so many cool covers (Somewhere, Jackie is a Punk), but this one is amazing.  From the blog Covering the Mouse - "So it always seemed weird to me that the Seven Dwarfs were so chipper about going down to the mine. What's wrong with those guys, I wondered. Seems that Tom Waits was wondering the same thing. In this song woozy keyboards and trash-can percussion conjure up a harrowing world where the dwarfs are condemned to a lifetime of hazardous backbreaking manual labor. And they're not happy about it. They'd much rather be back home, getting freaky with the tall chick."

3. Baby I Love You - the Ramones - Joey Ramones' pained, desparate cry of need turns this song from a celebration of young love into a prayer for a second chance by the guy who could never bring himself to say those three words until it was too late.

4. Sake in the Jar - Akiko Yano and the Chieftans - the traditional Irish song Whiskey in the Jar translated in to Japanese, sung by one of the islands legends, backed by an equally legendary band playing Asian instruments.  Tell me that isn't cool.

5. Showbiz Kids - Rickie Lee Jones - Like her former boyfriend Waits, Jones is great songwriter who can also interpret the hell out of someone elses work.  Here she turns Steely Dan's jazzy song about spoiled youth into one of disparing dreamers.

6. That's Alright Mama - Elvis - This recording not only started Elvis's career, it took rock and roll from being just another short-lived musical fad, and made it and it's singer immortal.

7. Skylark - kd lang (the version played over the opening credits of Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil) - the soundtrack to the movie the kd sings with a full orchestrial, and it is very pretty.  In the movie her voice soars alone  It brought tears to my eyes and no movie could live up to that.  I have never found this version of the song, no matter how hard I have looked.

8. Hurt / In My Life - Johnny Cash - Both of these songs were written by young men.  And are good songs.  But Cash's age makes them both something powerful, a voice from coming from the most ancient parts of the human experience to tell about the worst and best of who we are and what we do.

9. Moody's Mood for Love - Elliot Yamin - His singing of this proved to me that genius can be found in the most surprising places, and made it possible for me to listen AI without irony.

10. Your Song - Ewan MacGregor (from Moulin Rouge) - I am not a particularly big Elton John fan, and I always thought Your Song was just kind of a sappy mess.  Ewan changed all of that, turning it into a declaration of how delightful his beloved is, and how joyous being in love can be.  Honorable mention to Tango de Roxanne, which is amazing, but needs the visual to really work.

Not the best day ever.

Ten Things That Cheer Me Up.

1.  Beer.  I know that this is probably not good, or healthy, but a perfect pint is a wonderful thing.  And I mean a good, beautifully poured pint of a fine ale, and not some crappy, mass-produced lager.  A lovely Black Sheep Ale, a gorgeously fresh Hoplicious, or even a simple Guiness will make me smile every time.

2. Wind.  I love it when it is windy.  I love the sound of the wind in the pine tree outside my bedroom, the rattle of the windows in their casements, the feel of my hair turning into a rats nest as it flies all over the damned place.

3. Caramel apples, with peanuts.  Needless to say I only get this cheer up one time of year.   Whole Foods apples are the best, but I have a nostalgic love of Andy's and Affy Tapples.

4. The Ramones, especially End Of The Century, played really damned loud.

5. Sex.  Cause if it doesn't clearly the Misterreal and I are doing something wrong.

6. Walking.  If I can take a walk I can think more clearly.

7. Cooking, especially big food, like a roast or a giant pot of stew.

8. Target.  When I am in a bad mood my Mr. will often ask if I want to go to Target, and if all I get is a new pair of socks, I am happier for having them.

9. Taking a bath.  Which is probably not so good for my dry and aging skin, but in my life the body knows that the brain always gets what it wants.  My body is the second class citizen of my life.
10. Daria.  Because nothing makes me feel better than knowing I am not in high school any damned more.

Oh, my turn again

Can't think of anything good today. 

Ten Imaginary People I Wish I Was Friends With -

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I don't usually consider myself a big fan of the sitcom, until I stop and think about it.  Sitcoms are great.  Drama maybe food for the soul, but comedy is the stuff that day dreams are made of.

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Top Ten of Ultimate Weakness

Suddenly my work day got busy, so I have come up with a very stupid list.  About two months ago my iTunes ended up sort of disappearing.  The songs were still in the computer, just not in the program.  16 days of music that I then had to reload.  Because of that I lost all of my playlists and history.  So here are the top ten songs I have listened to on iTunes since then, and why -

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Now With More Lists!

Semi-stealing an idea from aunt_deen .

Ten Celebrities I Would Like to Have a Drink With, and What That Drink Would Be :

1. Tom Waits.  He doesn't drink any more, so I would have a bottle of red wine, and he would tell me beautiful and weird lies about the world.
2. Timothy Olyphant.  Coffee, so I could stay alert while staring at him, probably freaking him out a bit.
3. Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier.  Scott and I would split a six-pack and Kevin would get baked.  It could be a podcast!
4. Kate Christainsen.  We would do tequila shots and fluster all the pretty boys at the bar.
5. Jon Stewart.  He looks like he drinks scotch, so I would too, hoping that he would think I was drunk rather than ignorant and uninformed.
6. Tony Bourdain.  Vodka.  And I would make him fall off of the smoking wagon for one night.
7. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.  Pints, of course.
8. PZ Brite.  I would choke down Wild Turkey and annoying him by begging for another Liquor story.
9. Tom Hodgkinson.  Homebrewed ale, hopefully in the pub he has in his basement.
10. Keifer Sutherland.  I would stick with water, and while he was shitfaced I would make him agree to help pitch my Kelly's Heroes remake.