Friday, March 31, 2006

2006 book 41

dara horn's the world to come
i devoured the majority of this book yesterday over lunch and between classes. it's a great novel, very informed by yiddish folklore and mythology. the plot centers on a young man who attends an exhibition of marc chagall paintings and ends up stealing one that had once belonged to his family. the story weaves back and forth in time as the young man's family's story--and the story of the painting--is told. cameos by chagall and yiddish author der nister are not to be missed. anyway, i really really liked this--i had some mixed feelings about the ending, but can recommend this book without hesitation.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

springtime mix

good driving weather calls for new mix cds! here is the latest product of my frenzied mind:

1. essex green--sin city
2. hotel lights--let me be the one
3. eric bachmann--every word means no
4. bertrand burgalat--gris metal
5. britta phillips & dean wareham--night nurse
6. ohio express--chewy, chewy
7. mates of state--like u crazy
8. bangkok impact--the pianist & the reporter
9. ryuichi sakamoto--desafinado
10. st. etienne--dream lover
11. travis biggs--tibetan serenity
12. delroy wilson--funky broadway
13. the showmen--action
14. belle & sebastian--song for sunshine
15. the temptations and diana ross & the supremes--the weight
16. bjorn olsson--juli
17. irving fields trio--mazeltov merengue
18. ursula 1000--got cha
19. herb alpert & the tijuana brass and ozomatli--whipped cream (anthony marinelli remix)
20. blockhead--you've got maelstrom

for a procrastinator, i'm pretty productive!

annual plea to the locals

passover is coming up soon--if you happen to spot the passover cake mix with the pudding in it (it's "extra moist"!) at your supermarket, please let me know! i am willing to drive far distances for the actually edible kind of cake. :)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

it's carrboro

local bloggers/orange politics readers have no doubt seen this already, but i have to put a link to billy sugarfix's and brian risk's awesome, hilarious, and truly accurate song it's carrboro (primarily b/c my own street gets a shoutout!).

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

comsumer lust

sarah dyer mentioned these on her blog several months ago, and i've been obsessed with them ever since. i can't quite justify spending 20-40 dollars on adorable tiny food minatures, but my inner nostalgic child really wishes i'd known about these when i was eight or ten and the best thing ever was my three-story dollhouse with working electricity. i could never find good food things to put on their tiny kitchen table. but those were its glory days, before our now-ancient cat discovered she could squeeze into the house through the window that was always coming off and made it one of her favorite hiding spots. it was like some crazy-ass horror movie, you know--just picture a giant kitten menacing all the little dollhouse people and their little china plates. it wasn't pretty.

sometimes i think about restoring that dollhouse--although the little bit of me that's at all realistic and common-sensical knows that it probably will live in my childhood bedroom forever, b/c how would you transport a behemoth dollhouse like that?

anyway, tiny food minatures are cool.

(confidential to my parents: i bet that awesome cute store in shadyside has the perfect little doodads to toss into a birthday package . . . haha, don't worry about it. i also accept kitchen gadgets. no, seriously, i'm just being silly, don't worry about it.)

Monday, March 27, 2006

2006 book 40

tahar ben jelloun's this blinding absence of light
based on a true story, this novel is narrated by salim, who survived 20 years in an underground prison. he is imprisoned along with several other soldiers after a failed attempt at a coup against king hassan II of morocco. the prisoners are barely given enough food to be kept alive and the appalling conditions lead to death and madness for most of them. obviously, this is an extremely dark story, but ben jelloun, winner of numerous literary prizes in france and north africa, tells it compassionately and powerfully.

pop culture round-up

hooray for mates of state! this was my 4th or 5th time seeing them and they always put on a fun show--they are awesome at busting out the old hits. they didn't play anything off their first album (to keith's and my disappointment) but i'm not sure the leggings-clad, pompadoured kids in the audience would have recognized those anyway.
openers were ben davis (we missed most of that set, such a shame) and maria taylor from azure ray (totally boring--kate a. and i said lots of hilariously bitchy things during the performance, but i am not ready to be quite such a bitch in this public forum).

on an unrelated note: out of curiosity, are there any movies that you awlays get sucked into and have to watch when you encounter them on cable? for me, these movies are the princess bride and the sandlot, both have which have been on tv a fair amount lately. (i always cry at the end of the sandlot, don't ask me why.)

also, why did they make a sequel to the sandlot? i saw one scene of this cinematic masterpiece and it was almost line-for-line a scene from the original. good job, abc family. your sequels suck!! (don't even get me started on "the cutting edge 2".)

also, why does adult swim change their schedule every three weeks? i liked being able to watch venture brothers at 11 pm instead of falling asleep before it airs at 12:30. venture brothers is totally the best cartoon they have, so they should keep it in the cushy early slots.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
slightly rainy saturdays are the perfect time to bake bread (freshly-aked bread makes being stuck at home writing more bearable too!).

this is sephardic pumpkin challah--it's not like pumpkin bread, it's challah with a hint of pumpkiny goodness. and i can vouch for the pumpkiny goodness--as you can see, i had a little slice from the loaf on the right (this came out of the oven a couple hours ago, but my camera battery was dead and i had to wait for it to recharge). i'm looking forward to a dinner of fresh challah, apples, and yummy farmer's market cheese. brain food!!

now, back to six feet under on dvd! i mean, writing more of my master's paper. *looks around guiltily*

Friday, March 24, 2006


oh my gosh, no new content in three days? i apologize profusely, my three readers, for forsaking you. however, i've been busy master's-papering and working and trying to figure out where to live in florida, whcih hasn't left much time for reading or baking or pondering how soon i turn 27 or whatever it is i usually post about. i was going to make the 33 1/3 book on abba gold the music library book of the week, but i discovered two stupid grammatical errors in one paragraph of the introduction, and didn't think i could wholly endorse it.

so, here, read all about michael berube's experiences in the triangle while he does a stint at the national humanities center. his blog is definitely something i can wholly endorse, and it may even be more entertaining than abba.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

2006 book 39

savyon liebrecht's a good place for the night
liebrecht is one of my favorite israeli authors, so i was quite pleased to discover a new book of her short stories in translation. i actually hesitate a little about calling them short stories--most of them are around 50 pages, which is just the perfect length. each story is named for a location and each takes place in a different city, except for the final, titular story, which is a post-apocalyptic nightmare of sorts. for me, the last two stories in the collection--also the most experimental--were the weakest, but the first five had me enthralled. they deal mainly with love and loss and home and place and are all quite lovely.


i love when lush goes seasonal!

i am glad to know that i will probably never grow out of my love of bunnies.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
i got another haircut (and color) recently, so in the interests of posterity and narcissism, here is a picture. excuse the attire--it was yoga day!

tongiht i'm heading to 506 to see schooner and camera obscura (and to see if the merge kids have recovered from sxsw!)--should be an awesome time.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

2006 book 38

james morrow's the last witchfinder
i was challenged by my college friend and fellow morrow fan andy to make this last a whole day, but c'mon! it's morrow's first book in SEVEN YEARS. i had to read it all in one go! (and considering how vividly i remember going with andy's college roommate joe to get morrow's last book at svoboda's [which closed down in 2000, when i was studying abroad] the day he was doing a signing--well, i feel old now.) anyway, for those of you who are unfamiliar with morrow (he has a large fan base at penn state, since he lives in state college, but no one i've met here has heard of him), he's probably best known for his towing jehovah trilogy, which centers on what happens when god dies and his 5-mile-long body falls to earth. my favorite book of his, though, was only begotten daughter, which is about god having a daughter. so obviously morrow has a bent toward religious themes which i have always found fascinating.

his most recent work takes place in the good ol' witchhunting days and spans the globe from england to massachusetts to various other places. now, i will warn prospective readers that there are a few conceits you have to be willing to swallow, not least the fact that the narrator of the novel is a book. also, there's some loose characterizations of historical figures (ben franklin and abigail williams figure most prominently, but there are actual historical personages throughout). still, this story, which revolves around a girl, the daughter of a witchhunter, who witnesses her beloved aunt burned at the stake and vows to get the witchcraft act repealed, is an engrossing one. she has a very eventful life along the way--which sometimes required more than a little suspension of disbelief--but the story itself is a great one and well worth reading. i'm not the only one who thinks so; the book received starred reviews from both publishers' weekly and booklist.

in other news: i DON'T recommend the french movie cache.

Friday, March 17, 2006

2006 book 37

yuyun li's a thousand years of good prayers
this book of short stories was excellent. it leads off with one that appeared in the new yorker a few years ago, which was a pleasure to reread, and ends with the title story, whcih was probably my favorite, and the stories in between take place in china and/or america and feature vivid characters and poignant narratives. i definitely recommend this.


sometimes there are hazards to being a wordnerd. in this case, it was fielding a late-night phone call (it was not "like 11, you should be awake!" it was midnight) from an inebriated relative wanting to know the author of dr jekyll and mr hyde. in my groggy, still asleep state, i mumbled "robert louis stevenson? who is this?" thinking maybe it was some sort of insane prank call (it wasn't, it was just my brother). after the being-woken-up-by-the-phone adrenaline wore off, i lay in bed wondering if i was right about the author, and maybe i should just get up to check on amazon . . . so it took a little while to fall back to sleep.

i am pleased to note that, upon a first-thing-in-the-morning glance, i was right! i don't know how i pulled that one out of my sleep-soaked brain, but there you go. phil, i hope it helped with whatever you were doing--and at midnight, shouldn't you have been in bed? :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


sorry, folks, it turns out i just don't have time to make/distribute hamentashen/mashloach manot this year . . . i hope you all have a happy purim anyway! have a drink for me, please. :)

japanese junk food taste test!

Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
those of you have have been in chapel hill comics lately (or who read their blog) already know that they now stock japanese snack food treat things. i was thrilled at the wide selection when i went to pick up some comics and decided to try these three things.

the ice cream things seriously taste just like ice cream, if ice cream was dry. it's like magic. i'm not really into the strawberry flavor (i don't like strawberry ice cream either), but the vanilla and chocolate are awesome. weird, but awesome.

the pucca goldfishy things are YUMMMMMY. they're pretezely and chocolatey and basically my ideal snack food.

the koala things are similar to the goldfish, but instead of having a pretzely exterior, they have a somewhat bland cookie. however, those cookies are decorated with a variety of cute koala pictures (just like on the box) which does award them bonus points. my favorite is the koala dressed like a pharoah. i love cute food! these also come with a strawberry filling, but i just got the chocolate b/c i'm sort of a purist.

verdict: the fishies win, but all are edible!

Monday, March 13, 2006

2006 book 36

kate dicamillo's the miraculous journey of edward tulane
i debated whether or not to count this as a book--it's a kid's book, with illustrations and all--but since it hits page 195 (tecnhically), i figure it's long enough to count. i would have written about it even if it was shorter though, b/c i loooved it! not just b/c the main character is a toy rabbit (made out of fancy china) and i was a kid who was surrounded by toy rabbits (the titular edward reminded me of my own beloved colonel buttons), but b/c it seriously made me bawl. more than once. i am going to venture to say that it's the best kid's book i've read since sharon creech's love that dog, which also makes me bawl. anyway, the story isn't wholly spectacular--it's about this snotty toy rabbit who ends up going overboard and has lots of life experiences (or whatever) and learns to love, and the ending is inevitable--but still, there i was bawling. the illustrations are really nice too, by the way, if you care about that sort of thing.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
check it out, i made actual challah!

obviously my braiding technique still needs work, but it smells AMAZING so i won't complain too much about appearances. :)

(this was made from a recipe i adapted from this book, which has lots of other recipes i'm psyched to try!)


i'm on the air tomorrow from 3-5 pm! 88.7fm/!

Friday, March 10, 2006

2006 book 35

samantha hunt's the seas
this book has a fairly melancholy air--it's about a young girl in a tiny northern town by the ocean whose father disappeared when she was eight, and she believes she's a mermaid, and she is crazy in love with an older man who may or may not reciprocate her feelings. it's pretty bleak for the first part but the second delves into a little bit of magic and fairy tale, which balances out the bleakness nicely. i really liked this book and will recommend it with the caveat that if you are feeling lonely, you should save this book for another day b/c much of it will make you feel lonelier.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

2006 book 34

jeffrey moore's the memory artists
this extremely engaging novel tells the story of noel, a synaesthete who is struggling to care for his alzheimer's-stricken mother. also involved in the story is a medley of lovingly drawn characters noel encounters through a neurologist's office. i found the (somewhat bittersweet) ending to be a little pat, but i liked it despite that, b/c i was so drawn to these characters. really, i read this entire book today, between classes and over lunch--that's how sucked into it i was! i definitely recommend it.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

a public space

issue one of a public space came in the mail yesterday, and let me tell you all about how awesome it is. it has some great essays from literary luminaries like marilynne robinson (on the importance of fiction), less-great essays from literary luminaries like rick moody (on the whole james frey/jt leroy thing--it never ends!--but from the POV of someone who's written a memoir, which is actually annoying b/c he's all "when i exaggerated one thing for effect i felt guilty and took it out"), lots of great fiction (the kelly link story about superheroes was a highlight, but they were all excellent), and a "focus on japan" featuring some newly-translated short stories as well as interviews with japanese translators of american fiction (including haruku murakami, whose new book of short stories is finally coming out this year, apparently). there's also some art essay about mining and some poems, but i mostly skipped over that stuff.

so anyway, you all should subscribe or at least borrow my copy.

Monday, March 06, 2006


although i've known for a few days--and several of you have known as well--i figured i'd announce it here, since it will be official in less than an hour:

i'm moving to florida!!! b/c i got a job!!!

i am superexcited about this and am busy thinking of all the things i need to do (like buying furniture--i need a new dresser, since mine broke again and i don't want it to try and kill me anymore) and all the fun things in my future (like puppies! and an income!), and i am trying not to think of all the amazing people and place and everything i will be leaving behind.

i mean, i'm not moving for a couple months or anything, but i thought i'd share.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

2006 book 33

camilla gibb's mouthing the words
i'm going to start by noting that i thought this book was really good--it was really well-written and the characters were quite realistically drawn. however, i think it's weird that none of the reviews i read or the book jacket mentions that the narrator's problems are all caused by sexual abuse. i mean, that's not giving anything away--it's mentioned pretty early on in the book--and it can be hard to read. i just found it odd that no one seemed to be able to say anything about that. certainly it's not described at length, but it is the emotional lynchpin of the story.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
i know, i know--none of you care about my bread-baking. but i like having fresh bread around the apartment (and in my lunchbox!) and i also like having a place to keep track of my baking. this is some great-smelling herb-garlic bread--i finally got to use some of the basil i've been growing on my windowsill. look how shiny and golden it is! yum!

2006 book 32

lois lowry's the messenger
this is the third book in lowry's post-apocalyptic fantasy world set of books (after the giver and gathering blue), and it's also the weakest. it resolves the ambiguous ending of the giver, which i didn't really see as a good thing, and it's also less fleshed out than the other two. its characters don't feel as solid and its plot is pretty transparent. i mean, i know it's a YA book, but i expect a lot from lowry. her book autumn street gave me terrible nightmares when i was a kid, and yet i kept rereading it anyway. this book doesn't have anywhere near that kind of power.