Thursday, December 29, 2005

john hodgman

so as of tomorrow, i'm dogsitting in durham for a few days. to prepare for several car trips back and forth, i put a bunch of this american life episodes on cd to listen to in the car (b/c i don't have car-playing capabilities for my ipod), and had the superpowers episode playing on the way home from dinner in durham tonight. dude, john hodgman is totally the guy who did the (in)famous flight vs. invisibility story! but of course now i know his name. :) (he also had a piece on the recent tal christmas spectacular.)

i always figured i'd choose flight--it just seems more useful! you wouldn't need to like sneak onto airplanes (something invisible people apparently would do) if you could just fly there yourself, after all. totally would take the hassle out of travel! and if you ever accidentally fell out of a window or something, you could fly instead of dying. i think invisibility would be depressing and not very helpful--i wouldn't really want to hear what people said about me when i'm not around, and i'm just not into shoplifting. i'd like to think i'd use flying for heroic things, but of course i'm not particularly strong, so that's not very realistic. efficient traveling, though! that would be sweet!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

year-end lists

jessa crispin (of bookslut) has an interesting take on year-end lists. despite being someone who reads a lotttttttttt of comics and graphic novels (and is officially writing a master's paper about them), i actually do not think any graphic novels will end up on my best-of-2005 list. SOR-RY, bookslut! i guess i'm just not AWARE enough to be as good as you! stunted reading, my fanny.

i mean, epileptic was pretty good, but not enough to beat some of the other 154 things i've read this year. ice haven wasn't new, and i haven't read black hole yet (dude, that thing is HEAVY, and i generally stop by the comic book store on my way home from campus, when i'm already lugging a bunch of books). i did really love spiral-bound but otherwise there weren't any books that really grabbed me this year. i have been very into some of the continuing series that i read, but they don't count. i think 2006 will be a good year for graphic novels, but 2005 was a little bland.

i haven't actually even begun thinking about my top ten books this year--narrowing it down is gonna be rough. i did read some pretty bad books this year, though, so at least that'll make it a little easier. :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

2005 book 155

mark helprin's freddy and fredericka
helprin's winter's tale was probably my favorite book throughout high school and college (though since i was 22, i haven't continued my practice of rereading it annually--i really should give it another go) and so i was sort of eager, sort of hesistant when his new novel came out, especially when it got so many mixed reviews. once the bull's head annual sale rolled around, however, i couldn't resist the urge to see how it was and promptly bought a copy. this slightly silly novel centers on the fictional prince of wales and his fictional wife, who, through a somewhat bizarre and labored set-up, are sent to america to reclaim the colonies. madcap adventures and wacky misunderstandings ensue, of course. there aren't really any surprises here, but helprin's penchance for the romantic and idealistic and scenic is evident throughout.


my usual thursday afternoon timeslot has been preempted this week by 24 hours of afrobeat (i have no idea when the 24 hours starts, but i'm sure georg will have more info), but do not fear! i am subbing the wednesday afternoon 4-6 show and thus you can still hear my dulcet tones on the airwaves as you close out 2005. listen at 88.7fm for triangle denizens, or for those in other regions.

Monday, December 26, 2005


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
i liked knitting this scarf so much that i made another one with some yarn my mom got me. i know this photo isn't as cute as the other one, but it does show the scarf's full wavy glory. best pattern ever (once christina deciphered it, that is)!

sorry for nothing but photo posts over the past few days--the book i'm reading is sort of longish, and i guess i've just been enjoying knitting and watching law and order marathons on tnt instead of reading. however, my arms are pretty sore from cranking out scarves and i should be getting back to the book soon.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
happy first night of hanukkah!


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
check out this scarf i made w/ some awesome self-striping yarn! it knitted up really quickly, thanks to a pattern using short rows--i only started it on christmas eve eve during my annual festivities with christina (hey, has anyone seen the brideshead revisited miniseries? we watched the first five episodes and still can't figure out if charles and sebastian are gay and/or have consummated their love, and i don't remember the book at all).

Thursday, December 22, 2005

2005 book 154

james meek's the people's act of love
here is my customary "dang, this book was good" entry opening: wow. wow, wow, wow. dang, this book was good. it's the story of a small town in siberia in 1920, where various characters face upheaval due to various revolutions. some of these characters include a widowed photographer and her young son, a jewish lieutenant with the czech army, his insane cokehead commander, an escaped prisoner, and a community of castrates. this book is jsut so well-written, though; lots of hints appear as gradually layers of the story are peeled away and secrets are revealed. i think this was on the booker longlist, proving yet again that booker nominees are way awesomer than national book award nominees (or maybe proving that british(/affiliated) authors had a way better year than american ones). :)

unrelated: i stayed up late last night to watch dirty dancing on cable tv (damn commercial breaks always come at the good parts). it's weird, b/c i loved that movie when i was a little kid (it took me a few years to figure out what was wrong w/ penny), but by college i thought it was pretty boring and stupid. and yet last night i was totally into it! it was filled with dramatic tension and sexy dancin' and jerry orbach! i found the class warfare very compelling, and the portrayal of that small chunk of time when jewish resorts in the poconos were total hot spots to be pretty fascinating. for a moment i had the urge to reread marjorie morningstar but i'd rather keep making my way through my immense to-read pile for the time being.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


thursday, 2-4 pm, fm. you know your brain is already on vacation, you might as well listen as you while away your last workday before break! or as you do whatever it is you're doing tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

2005 book 153

john hodgman's the areas of my expertise
seeing this dude on the daily show cemented my resolve to get this book, and i wasn't disappointed--it's really funny, and covers a wide range of topics (the 50 states, hoboes, how to write a book, etc). however, it's a little hard to read straight through at times--of course, maybe i'm the sort of person who can only handle thirty-eight states' worth of humor in one sitting. with 50, it can get a bit repetitive. still, it's awesome in small doses--apparently this guy contributes to this american life sometimes, so i may try and track down some of his pieces, b/c he has just the sort of bizarre wit i find so entertaining.

another milestone: according to blogger, this is my 600th post! i have no idea if that's accurate or not, but i am pretty verbose, so it certainly seems realistic. thank you, my four or five readers, for sticking with me even this long. :)

Monday, December 19, 2005

2005 book 152

sarah shun-lien bynum's madeleine is sleeping
a finalist for the national book award in 2004 (it lost to lily tuck's the news from paraguay, whcih i also didn't think was anything special), this is the story of a girl who falls into a deep sleep and has weird dreams where she joins up with a sort of freak show. these dreams are interspersed with brief looks at her family, although the line between the dreams and the reality is often blurry. i suppose this was meant to be all fairy-tale-like, but i didn't really like it much. there's no real sense of the characters and it just feels like bynum was trying a little too hard. now i remember why i think the national book award is a crock.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

king kong

two thumbs up! adrian brody, surprisingly good as a writer-cum-action-hero. jack black, excellent as an asshole, which is perhaps less surprising. naomi watts, awesome at evoking various emotions without saying anything, and gosh she's pretty! big monkey, aw, he's jsut a widdle fuzzy monkey cutiekins! andy serkis, great as a one-eyed sailor and as the basis for the monkey's movements.

there were also plenty of action sequences, gross moments (people with serious bug phobias should not see this movie), sad moments, etc etc. i mean, it's a peter jackson movie.

but as a side note to movie theaters: it's just mean to have 22 minutes of commercials and previews before a three-hour movie--especially when i'd already seen two of those commercials on tv earlier today. ok, ok, you want me to buy coke. i get it!

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
today i spent the afternoon baking--keith and kate are having folks over tongiht, which was the perfect chance to test two new recipes. the hummingbird cupcakes are courtesy chockylit, and the gingerbread cakes (waaaay in the background) are an adaptation of tis recipe over at 101cookbooks (i didn't have the correctly sized cake pan, hence the teeny cakes, which will be perfect for single servings with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream!).

have i mentioned lately that i love my kitchenaid stand mixer?

2005 book 151

david foster wallace's infinite jest
hey, i did read it in a week! although it took me a little while to get into it (it shifts perspectives frequently, often abruptly), i was sorry to see it end as i've been nearly addicted to it this week--the lovable and sympathetic characters made up for the vile and abusive ones, and the portrayals of (generally dysfunctional) family dynamics were really intriguing. i have some questions about things, but i won't bring them up here as david and robert are still reading (as far as i know). now i am extra-eager for them to finish b/c i really want to talk about it with someone!

and to bring up another pet peeve of mine, whoever wrote the book jacket copy totally DID NOT read the book. it's so misleading.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

crappy holiday movies!

what happens when you cram every cliche into a holiday movie with an ensemble cast? the family stone. be forewarned: there's a cancer subplot so it's not all idiotic predictable comedy stylings. ps: cancer plots and predictable comedy stylings don't mesh well, at least with this sort of cast. surprise, the high point was coach! no, really.

free movies are always awesome, thoguh, so points for that.

book update: i'm plowing along on infinite jest--i'm past page 650!

fun update: looks like i'll be dogsitting one of my favorite dogs over new year's! this should not at all hamper my plans to go see the wusses at local 506, however. yay for doggies! (speaking of doggies--there was this preview for some live-action disney movie about 8 adorable huskies trapped in the south pole! me and the girls were all, "oh no!!!! the puppies!!!" i hope it has a happy ending.)

i swear the book updates will start up again soon.


oh, i almost forgot! i'm on the air this afternoon from 2-4pm. listen online at or in person at 88.7 fm if you live in the triangle area and can get reception.

hopefully last night's nyquil will wear off by 2!

humor transcends the decades

i never knew a.a. milne was so freakin' funny. seriously, that could have been written yesterday, and anyway i'm giggling no matter when it was written. i may have to employ some of those tricks next time i'm at a gathering for the festive season . . .

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

the horror

Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
what makes a better blog post than a monty python reference? why, embarrassing photos of oneself! (and one's family. hey, if you guys want me to black our your faces or something, i'm happy to oblige.)

christina alerted me to this story on npr, and i really think that's a book i need to read. i mean, just LOOK at what i'm wearing (i'm the awkward-looking one in the middle, bedecked in fake flowers, with heels dyed-to-match). frankly, 1992 wasn't a good year for anyone, which is just one of the reasons i don't look at my bat mitzvah album much. but i do have my pretty pretty portraits from the day, along with this hilarious wallet-sized family shot. i wanted to make sure you could all fully comprehend my terrible dress, which is why i didn't put up one of the pictures with the pretty/hazy filter on it. c'mon, you guys know what filter i mean, right? where everything is all soft-focus and flattering to a poor little thirteen year old girl bedecked in bright pink fake flowers? the top of that dress is stretchy white iridescent sequins, by the way.

latent geekery

as much as i claim to be a word nerd through and through, there are still some vestiges of out-and-out geekiness in my system. for instance, i just heard chopin's polonaise no. 6 as the background music on some tv show (i was doing my physical therapy exercises--by the way, i am getting some impressive guns! guns are arm muscles, right?) . . . anyway, i heard the piece and immediately starting singing (in my head) "oliver cromwell, lord protector of england . . . "

of course, i'll always be grateful to the monty python boys--that song really got me through the european history AP exam! more historical figures should be memorialized in catchy songs.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


i'm too lazy to type up my thoughts about the movie, so here is the conversation i just had w/ erin over aim:

basilessa: what did you think of the movie?
leesharama: i liked it a lot, actually
basilessa: oh hooray! that's a good endorsement
leesharama: yeah, it was a teeny bit battle heavy, a la lord of the rings, but i thought they did a good job of it
leesharama: it was mostly very true to the book
basilessa: yaaaaay
leesharama: yes, i nod my head in appreciation of the movie
leesharama: also little lucy was adooooorable
leesharama: with her little-girl tummy and her little crooked smile!
basilessa: awesommmmme
basilessa: i am excited
leesharama: there was a little kid behind us who'd obviously read the book and made some really funny comments
leesharama: i definitely recommend it

other thoughts: the dude playing tumnus was pretty cute! i swear i'm not into kinky stuff, at least not in a public forum like this one that my parents read, but he was younger and hotter than i remember him being in the book. tilda swinton was a very icy ice queen, and i thought they did a good job w/ aslan (at first i was all, he should be bigger, but i forgot that pretty quickly).

and obviously i'm not up on all that newfangled christian theology, but i didn't catch too much overt stuff in the movie. now, if they make the seventh one into a book, the christians will have cause to see it in droves, but not so much with this one. do christians like the idea of talking animals? (ooh, i loved mr and mrs beaver most of all!)

it's serendipity

that on the very morning i am going to start reading infinite jest, an article on david foster wallace appeared in the guardian (calling IJ a "cult bestseller"--who knew? well, i guess if i'm going to join a cult, it's got to be book-related).

Saturday, December 10, 2005


i am officially DONE for the semester!!!! the fun will start tomorrow, when i go see chronicles of narnia with the girls, and maybe bake cookies. the possibilities are endless! also, i have mondays off for the month starting this week, which means i still get two days of weekend to do what i want to do: reading and crafting and baking and hanging out and smiling.

here's something i was thinking about last night: astronomy. the night sky is pretty amazing right now--mars is pretty bright and located fairly near the moon; if you're out and about and see a yellow dot in the sky that isn't flickering, now you know that it's mars. also, venus (the evening star) is seriously bright right around 6:30--if you have bad eyesight like i do, you will understnad why people draw stars with five points. venus totally has five points, until you squint really hard. they look almost like little arms and legs, and suddenly it's easy to understand why faraway dots were anthropomorphized as gods and goddesses.

i wanted to try and get a picture of mars and the moon, but sadly my apartment building gets in the way. if i happen to be carrying my camera around at night in the next few days, i'll definitely give it a go. when i was out w/ k and k last night, keith claimed he had read that you could get a good picture right now, since the moon is so bright. here's hoping for more clear nights.

speaking of being out last night: k and k and i went to go see walk the line. my bosses both scoffed at this, but i was curious about the movie and happen to be a joaquin phoenix fan. actually, though, i thought reese witherspoon did a better job with the whole thing. ok, here's how it went--i really liked the first half, with all its music and stuff, and then it really started dragging! all these montages of joaquin phoenix all sweaty and jonesin' for drugs, with superimposed images of reese, or of johnny cash playbills in a puddle. total lack of subtlety! kate and i agreed the second half needed to be dialed down a few notches, and even keith (who loved the movie) thought it could have benefited from some editing. ok, johnny is on drugs and pining for june. WE GET IT.

i do wonder how many albums they've sold with the release of this movie--i was certainly in the mood for some johnny and june tunes afterward (but managed to fight the urge to go shopping on the ituns store--so convenient and easy! so much trouble!).


can you tell my brain has melted a little over the past week?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

top 10 albums of 2005

by popular demand . . . or, y'know, christina's. it looks like 9/10 of these are local bands, on merge, or both, so take this list as you will. presented alphabetically, b/c hey, i like the alphabet (who doesn't?). a list of my top books will appear in january, b/c i could read something totally amazing in the next few weeks, but i feel pretty good about these album selections. i am pretty sure they all came out in 2005:

1. audubon park--the bunny is not as popular as julius
2. lou barlow--emoh
3. blockhead--downtown science
4. crooked fingers--dignity and shame
5. erie choir--bad tsars is a drag
6. kingsbury manx--the fast rise and fall of the south
7. portastatic--bright ideas
8. the rosebuds--birds make good neighbors
9. tenement halls--knitting needles and bicycle bells
10. work clothes--these are the shoes we wear

there you have it--the ten albums/EPs i listened to most in 2005, and put on the most mix cds so i could sing along in my car.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
a-ha! look what i finally laid hands on!

this is my reward for spending the next three days sequestered in my apartment doing schoolwork (except for the times i'm at my actual job). as of friday evening, i will be done for the semester, and thus will be putting in a brief appearance of celebration at the sils holiday party (unless the exhaustion catches up with me first).

but as of saturday, this baby is mine!

it's slightly less intimidating in hardback, and much easier to hold. i'm looking forward to getting buried in a book again--i haven't read for fun since thanksgiving weekend.

saturday night: minutemen tribute at local 506! another way to celebrate being DONE FOR THE SEMESTER! december is suddenly going to become my favorite month--i think i'll love the 20 hour workweek and all the books i can tackle in those other 20 hours. :)

radio! and, an informal poll

alas, i will not be doing my usual thursday shift this week (thanks to alex for subbing!) due to having a big paper due on friday. however! i WILL be on the air on wednesday from 4-6, with the lovely christina as my co-host (and those who know christina also know that at this time of year she is practically transformed into a christmas elf, so infused is she with holiday spirit--so undoubtedly there will be some holiday tunes on the airwaves at that time).

now, a poll!

yesterday i received some new contact lenses to replace the ones i haven't worn since september (which were causing me all sorts of problems). since it has been several months of glasses-wearing, however, i have grown used to a contacts-less life. plus i have such cute glasses these days!

pros of contacts: don't fog up, more peripheral vision, better eyesight i guess, conform to some weird ideal of beauty i learned in middle school
cons of contacts: don't always stay where they're supposed to, which is both terrifying and painful.

pros of glasses: cute, can actually see with new prescription, my mom thinks glasses look better with my short hair
cons of glasses: less peripheral vision, sometimes they hurt my nose, "men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses" (is that even true? who cares, i like rhymes)

so, an informal poll: should i try out the new contacts and wear them on a daily basis, save them for special occasions, stick to glasses, what?

Monday, December 05, 2005

norton anthology

ooh, i want this new anthology of children's literature. however, i'm really posting this link to point out that its editor, jack zipes, is one of those horrible literature snobs who feels the need to get in a dig at harry potter (which was too expensive to include). i'm not sure he's really read the books closely--his depiction of hermione as a cheerleader seems to come straight from the movies. in the books, hermione is frequently called "the cleverest witch of her age" and although harry is the chosen-type one, he wouldn't really get anywhere without her intelligence and common sense. particularly in books five and six, she's presented as the only smart one around--not just in the book smart sense, but in the clued-in sense--as harry and ron bumble around full of teenage crapola.

obviously i'm a big hermione fan, and so zipes' comments raised my hackles just a little. :) the anthology does sound really cool though--it's going straight to my amazon wish list. hint hint, relatives, my wishlist is ready to go and there's even a handy link on the sidebar on the left. :)

Sunday, December 04, 2005


i swear i saw this guy in an advil commercial last night . . . man, he was totally a star in the 80s! he played the android kid that alan thicke invented in not quite human, and if that's not fame i don't know what is. poor ol' 80s stars. can't someone get them on a vh1 reality show or something? maybe the advil commercial was more dignified.

speaking of last night: great recess show at nightlight. i was very into the first performance, which featured an animal parade, an accordion, and gas canisters (which make great percussion thingies--who knew?), and i really liked matt kalb's song inspired by his son's imaginary friend, but it was the tennis academy kids who really put on an amazing performance. i demand more extended instrumentals! (i reward with cookies, you know.)

i will be so happy when monday ngiht rolls around and i can rest my typing arm and make some cookies and relax a little.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

great cover-up, night 2!

brief comments b/c i am sleepy! (so sleepy that i drovepast my exit--oops!)

thigns started off w/ an atrocious freddie mercury--now, i would love to see someone do justice to queen at the great cover-up (hey, i like queen--family lore claims that i listened to queen as a baby and loved it. and my status as a hopeless nerd was cemented in fifth grade when i impugned the honor of one vanilla ice by pointing out his robbery of queen and david bowie--i am pretty sure the other ten year olds tried to say that vanilla ice had the beat first) but this dude was even worse than the ramones from last night.

2nd: elvis costello and the attractions. they were pretty good, actually, though i sort of preferred finn's rendition last year (it's more fun when you know the people playing).

3rd: THE WUSSES!!!! doing three dog night!! with dave bjorkback, jeffy herrick, and bob wall sharing vocals! ooohhh, so fun. absolutely made my night.

4th: cy et al doing the birthday party (i'm not really a birthday party fan).

last: some band called pious, or something? *shrug*

anyway, the best part of the great cover-up is schmoozin' with other music fans (and charity fans): my favorite raleigh denizens (jason, laurie, margaret, sean, becky, dawn [who is coming with me to see the wusses on new year's eve!], taj and the other rollergirls, crystal, and so on!), the lovely pinky (with mr pinky), the awesome susie cupcakes (w/ mr cupcakes), and the irrepressible bean3 (w/ mr bean3). it was especially nice to see matt tomich, the world's best hugger, who i hadn't seen in months and who is moving to switzerland for good in april. matt always reminds me of those mountaintop gurus who have achieved inner peace and now spread it to everyone around them. also it's nice to practically be tackled by hugs whenever i see the guy!

tomorrow: serious buckling down. now: sleep.

ETA: here are jason's more lucid and informed comments! here are pinky's!

Friday, December 02, 2005

music library book of the week

it's been a while since we had a book this awesome come into the music library, hence the long awaited return of the music library book of the week!

it's 50 cent's from pieces to weight!

i think it might be a movie/cd tie-in, as the header on the inside flap reads "get rich or die tryin'"--oh, 50 cent, you rascal!* but he's ready for anyone who might front:

i wrote this book to explain the world i come from. to a lot of people, i may be too young to reflect on life. and they may be right. but i'd be wasting my blessings if i didn't use the attention i'm getting to shed light on the experiences that have caused me to say the things i say and make the kind of music i make. i want to explain my environment to those who don't come any closer to it than the records they buy or the images they see on television. people want the truth. even if they can't handle it, they want it. i let you know that i survived nine bullets not to sell records, but because it's the truth. every time i sit down for an interview, i'm asked, "well, 50, how did it feel to get shot nine times? . . . "

pretty crappy, that's how! what lame interviewers.

*tribute to veronica mars

great cover-up, ngiht 1!

things started off w/ some silly kids playing tv theme songs and singing off-key. highlights for me were law and order and the muppet babies (the kermit and miss piggy voices were especially spot-on). it was entertaining and all, but wtf, it's the great cover-up! pick a band and play their songs! is it that hard?

next were the ramones--or as one member of my party described them, "rammstein covering the ramones." horrible, just horrible. most of the audience went to the bar while they played.

then came the smoking popes, who seemed ok, but i don't know any smoking popes songs and couldn't really judge.

kind of an underwhelming ngiht--UNTIL!!! stingy, cy, tim ross (former sils dude, or maybe current, i don't actually know), and some other dude came out full-force as cypress hill!! [did i listen to a cypress hill tape repeatedly the summer after 8th grade? yes. did i understand the drug references? no.] the audience went nuts! tehre was a dude in a bong costume! and they were actually really good! and occasionally some of us would turn to others and go, "oh my god, that's stingy!" which somehow made things even better and definitely much funnier.

definitely turn out tomorrow ngiht, music fans, b/c the awesomest bands always seem to be on friday. and the wusses are playing, and you know we've all been talking about the wusses sicne last year, so are you really gonna miss them again?

ETA: here are jason's comments!