so, go watch this

Every Frame a Painting is a very good youtube channel if you like movies — I really enjoyed the Spielberg one, to my surprise. This one, about Satoshi Kon, is very good in the way it explains how Kon achieved his dreamlike effects. It’s also very good if you aren’t familiar with Satoshi Kon, because you should be. You really should be. He died far too young, and left behind some amazing films. If you think you know what anime is, and don’t like it, then this is for you — he really did so much to push animation in new directions, creating serious and fun movies that stick in your brain and do strange things there.

Now I want to rewatch Millenium Actress, which I’ve only seen once and is terrible of me. I’ve seen Perfect Blue several times (very Hitchcockian) and Paprika — well, WAY too many times.

media, media, some more media *(just kidding, all books)

Current reads: 

MFK Fisher’s The Art of Eating. I can’t recommend it enough. She’s so good.

The Journal of best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to be a Better Husband, which I’ll totally admit I bought because it looked diverting and only $2.

Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time is good, but it actually…sort of stresses me out. Which is funny, since a lot of the book is about the negative effects of stress. So, I’m just reading it in pieces.

Recently finished books: 

I read, like everyone it seems, The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. There are some fantastic essays in there, although some of them left me cold. Oddly, the ones that probably required more empathy were the ones that interested me least — I think I prefer her more journalistic work, such as the essays on extreme runners. Still, good stuff.

Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian. Good, but perhaps not for me ultimately. I was far more interested in the friendship between the two men than I was the many many many ship battles.

Baby Meets World: Suck, Smile, Touch, Toddle: A Journey through Infancy: pretty fascinating — I really enjoyed seeing how various aspects of child rearing have been alternately praised or demonized through history (like pacifiers, for instance).

The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn. These are pretty fantastic, and I suppose I need to buy the last one not in this compilation. What impresses me the most is how each book shifts as the character ages. It also manages to channel the voice of a drug user without being incredibly dull — I wish The Gold Finch had managed that trick better.

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior. I’ve been wanting to read this ever since I read in excerpt in…The New York Times? I think. Really fantastic.

Annihilation and Authority, the first two books in the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. These are very fun, and the first is Lovecraftian and frightening.

The first two novels in the Split World series by Emma Newman. These aren’t..good…exactly, but I kept reading,so, that’s something.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Oh sigh. This is on so many top fantasy lists, and it’s so…only adequate. It’s very hard to find really good fantasy. Either the writing is poor or the plotting is poor or they read as if the author has never met a real life woman.

The Group by Mary McCarthy. This was a best seller in the 60s and for good reason. It follows a group of women in the 1930s as they go through marriage, divorce, lovers, childbirth, etc –all the big things. It will kill you to see how the concerns are the same we have today, and how little has changed for modern women.

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson. Genuinely laugh out loud funny, which is a rarity, and an enjoyable, affectionate, look at modern art.

 

Ok, that takes us back through March.

*I was going to talk about movies, too, but now I’m tired.

 

music time/ lorde/ tears for fears/ everybody wants to rule the world/tom petty/”don’t come around here no more”

This is an enjoyable cover of “everybody wants to rule the world.” I have some odd childhood memory that the original video to this song scared me as a kid, but I’ve looked at the video and I can’t see why that would have been. I have this memory of the lead singer dressed as a carnival barker of some sort? Is this a false memory? Some kind of dream? Very weird.

I can tell you that I was traumatized by Tom Petty’s “Don’t come around here no more” when I was young.

I wasn’t allowed to watch MTV and my parents had programmed it off the remote. But one day at a friend’s house I learned the channel number, and back home, discovered I could just plug it in and the channel would come up. Once I did so, I found myself in the middle of this video. I distinctly remember seeing them cut up the Alice cake and freaking out, thinking, “Oh god, my parents were right!”

I dated a guy in college who looked a lot like a young Tom Petty. Not sure what that says about me.

While we’re at it, let’s have an original Tears for Fear’s — “Mad World.” The Gary Jules cover is great and all, but we need respect the originals, too. 90% of this video is just a guy touching a window.

oh today today!

Today the lovely Sandra Simonds is coming to visit me for lunch. It’s not a small drive from Tallahassee to Valdosta, so I’m feeling very appreciative.

For the past few days I’ve been working on an article about the line in poetry. So far I’ve come to realize that the line is a difficult subject. Probably why an article is a good idea. One of the things I enjoy about writing such articles is that doing so helps me to articulate my thoughts on a subject. Unfortunately, there are so many subjects I have unclear thoughts on that to write enough articles to remedy the matter would mean I never wrote anything else. Ever.

I am really not a logical writer, so to write an article that in any way proceeds sensibly is actually an incredible amount of work for me. It’s strange how hard I find writing these articles, and how long they take me. I really envy the people who can just bang them out quickly — they exist, it seems, and I will never be one of them. I tell myself that if I write more and more articles, I will start to absorb the form and they will be easier, but so far, not so much. Ah well.

I’m also reading several poetry books for review, which is another form I find challenging. I really like writing reviews, although again, hard for me, even more so perhaps because I want to do right by the author whose work I’m reviewing. For me the best reviews point out what works and what doesn’t work, and give the reader a sense as to whether or not the book is for them. (I say this, and yet of course when I get a review of my own work that points out something that doesn’t work I’m horror-struck and go hide under my bedcovers but that’s another story). I find hyperbolic, overly glowing reviews to be insufferable, and on the other side, I hardly see the point of tearing a book apart when so few poetry books get reviewed as it is.

Other than that, we’ve been traveling a little. We went to Kalamazoo, Michigan, for a sad occasion — Mark’s grandmother’s memorial service — but since it was also an opportunity for family to gather, it was a very happy time as well, which I think is what Doris would have wanted. We got to spend a little time around Bass Lake, which was really pretty, and Mark helped install a dock for the summer. Any activity which requires waders is bound to be interesting.

We also took a little jaunt together up to Amicalola Falls State Park, where we stayed in a cabin and hiked around! It was lovely, and while we didn’t see any of the bears we were warned about, we did see deer, a snail, mating moths, some gnats and mosquitoes, aggressive squirrels, and poison ivy (identified and avoided).

And that’s all my exciting news!

a review of Vow!

Whoah! Vow got an amazing review over at Ohio State’s The Journal. Thank you, Paige Quiñones for this thoughtful look! 

I mean, who doesn’t want their work described like this? “Hazelton rips out the raw insides of domestic life and holds them out for us to find omens in, like animal entrails or tea leaves.” — dang!

 

Click here to read more.

 

No Girls, No Telephones

I’m pleased to announce that the chapbook I co-wrote with Brittany Cavallaro, No Girls No Telephones, has been released for pre-sale by Black Lawrence Press! If you order through the pre-sale, you save $2 off the list price, and they’ve told me at the press that if we sell 50, they will buy me a pony. A live pony. Named Sebastian. Don’t you want to see me feeding apples to the pony?

 

Click the cover and go visit the sale.

fancy ladies are fancy

eyeballs

Mark comes out on the porch.

“What’s wrong? Why do you look like that? Why are you making that face?” he asks.

“I just read this article. About a woman. Who got a parasite. In her EYE.”

“Why are you reading that?”

“It just showed up in my feed. And it was living in her cornea, and eating it, and she had these eye drops, but it wasn’t working, and then she got glaucoma, and then she BLEW OUT HER EYE somehow by sneezing too hard and half her face went slack but she got a prosthetic eye and now things are ok.”

“Uh huh.”

“And do you know how she got it? The parasite?”

“Um, poop or something?”

“No. WATER. She wears contacts and WATER got on her contacts and she got a parasite.”

“Ok.”

“I’m wearing contacts RIGHT NOW.”

“You need to stop reading things on the internet.”

 

I am a total dork who will now talk to you about time-sucks

Growing up, there wasn’t a lot of emphasis in my house on things like household management — there were other pressing medical issues to deal with . Even writing the word “household management” looks curiously old-fashioned, as if this is something a modern home has no need of. This might be why I am always curiously fascinated by blogs and books dedicated to the subject. What’s it like to be organized? I have no idea. But I really want to fake it. I look at before and afters of messy fridges and am in awe. These people know where the sandwich fixings are. They are in the bin labeled “sandwich fixings.” Clearly, these people have things figured out.

Of course, they don’t, not really, but I like to pretend that if I just implement their practices, I will. So far, this hasn’t happened, but whenever I fall down the household rabbithole, my living spaces do look remarkably better for a time (until I lapse into my natural, unstudied slovenliness). 

I tell myself it’s all about good habits, so here are some habits I’m trying to instill in myself.

  • make the bed.

My teenaged self found this deeply stupid, and in my twenties I didn’t see much use for it either. But it’s so much nicer to go to bed when the bed doesn’t look like a nest of filth.

  • Clean as you go.

This was something my father always said to me (although I’m not sure he really did it either.)  I have a bad habit of cooking an elaborate meal and leaving all the cleaning from it –every bowl, knife, and cutting board, + dishes eaten from — till the end of the night, by which point I am stuffed and sluggish and decide to let future Becky take care of it. Future Becky is always screwed by this. So I’ve been trying to really make a conscious effort to clean a mixing bowl once I’m done, clean my knives as I go, and surprise surprise, the kitchen isn’t totally wrecked afterwards. It’s like there’s logic behind the dictum.

  • Clean the kitchen every night.

This make morning go more smoothly.

  • Do a little every day.

My wont is to let my surroundings get worse and worse and then just do a massive clean one weekend. Which is ok, I guess, but exhausting, and means you are living in gross until you can’t take it anymore. That feels depressing. Whereas if I just do some surface cleaning now and then, no one has to call the health department.

  • If something isn’t working, fix it.

Again, this is dumb sounding, but has wide applications. I haven’t played Guild Wars 2 in over a year because I forgot my password. I could have gotten a new password, but didn’t. That’s ridiculous. So, I have a new password. A better example might be that I’ve known for years that my password security was terrible, and that I should do something to improve my security. I finally got a password manager (1Password) for both me and Mark, so now we are in the process of saving and updating our passwords. Or our dishwasher emits a terrible smell when we run it that makes us sad. So I finally looked up a tutorial on how to clean a dishwasher (clue: it involves vinegar), and we did it. I doubt the problem is fixed entirely (there’s bad plumbing in this apartment), but we do have a way to cut down on the sad smell. Mostly, if there’s an issue and it’s something I can address, I’m trying to do so rather than putting it off. This one is very hard, obviously.

That’s it really. Nothing amazing or groundbreaking. I’m sad that I’m in my mid thirties and cleanliness is only now a thing I’m putting effort into.

If you would like to join me in a rabbit hole of organizing/cleaning crazy, I recommend the following:

Unclutterer – much like it sounds. Very much focused on organization and minimalism.

A Bowl Full of Lemons – organizing and cleaning. Mostly I just wonder what it’s like to have a brain that works like this. On the other hand, I didn’t have any glass cleaner and find it annoying to buy a one-use product. I made her recipe for glass cleaner, and while it looks like it will be a total mess when you are first wiping it down, it does indeed dry crystal clear.

IHeartOrganizing — also organizing and cleaning, but with a really untouchable quality. I’m assuming her hair never tangles, either.

So, there you go. I usually post music or talk about writing here, but now you have insight into one of my weirder proclivities — that is, researching extensively something most people just know how to do naturally or were taught as a kid. Hooray!