Christine Kane: Right Outta Nowhere

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Right Outta Nowhere disc coverIt's no secret that I'm a sucker for a girl with an acoustic guitar. Pretty much any woman wearing the singer/songwriter mantel gets at least a try from me. That being said, I'm a lot pickier about my songstresses than I used to be, and as my adult music taste has formed I've culled a lot of them from my collection. It's not enough that a girl can play the guitar now--she has to actually have something to say.

This being the case, I was tentatively excited to meet Christine Kane at BlogHer, and to listen to her CD, Right Outta Nowhere, which was included in the BlogHer swag bag. My excitement increased after meeting her and attending the BlogHer session during which she co-presented. She was very nice and approachable, and had a seriousness about her craft that I appreciated. I also attended her show at BlogHer, but it was more a party than a show atmosphere and I could barely hear her. Then I came home and proceeded to lose her CD for a month.

But then I found it, and now I am listening to it, and I think you should too.

Right Outta Nowhere is Christine's second most recent CD, released in 2004. (Her most recent release, A Friday Night in One Lifetime, just came out and can be ordered off her website.) The sound is pretty basic girl and guitar, and Christine's voice is very nice, though a bit more professional and less raw than I'd like (her live CDs may suit me more on that front). The brilliance, as is generally the case in this genre, is in the lyrics.

Right Outta Nowhere is an eleven song disc, with ten studio tracks and a live bonus track. It begins with the title piece, a song about jumping in and following your dreams that is at once pretty and anthemic ("She hit that highway/With every ounce of faith she could summon/When courage finally comes/You never see it coming"). The next song, "Made of Steel," reminds me a little bit of Ani lyrically, with a "fuck it, at the very least this is gonna be fun" feel that I just love ("You can round up all your reasons/Tell me that my plan's all wrong/Say you're on the path to Jesus/But I'll be he'd come along"). Most of the other songs on the disc have the same lyrical style, dealing with growing up, relationships, travel, and the ups and down of life with a slightly biting humor, and though some of the songs resonate with me more than others (I particularly like "Falling in Love with the Wind"), I don't see any weak points. The strengths, however, lie in the two tracks that are outside this mold.

The first of these tracks is "Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad," which I have to quote in its entirety as I love it beyond belief:

Jenny found Mariah back in 1999
When she was living in a town called Bend
The dog was in a dumpster and she went and got it neutered
And Mariah's had it made since then
Then a little while later at a truck stop in Decatur
She saved a skinny cat she calls Clyde
And then she found another and another and another
If you add it all together there's five

Oh to be a dog or cat
Who's living in a house like that
Where sofas become scratching pads
Four legs good two legs bad

Jenny met Bob a man not a dog
And her mother had a moment of peace
Jenny thought he was her soul mate and a year after their first date
He moved in and started sharing her lease
There was so much to get used to like the dog hair in his tofu
And tripping over all the cat toys
And each time they eliminated each one was congratulated
In a squeaky high-pitched voice

Obviously Bob is of the opinion
That something must be
Different if they live together
Four legs good two legs better

Bob had been there half a year when all the things he'd found endearing
Were beginning to get on his last nerve
Making love at dawn with all the vermin looking on
Made him think he would give up boycotting fur
So when Jenny brought a kitten home
She'd found outside a nursing home it finally reached the very last straw
At the risk that she would hate him he gave her his ultimatum
It was high time that he laid down the law

He said choose
You must choose
Between paws and this relationship
And please, it's dog-doo
Not a cause for celebration
If those beasts of yours are not gone before
I go out and then I come back again
You can be assured I will slam the door
It is them or me it is me or them

Cut to noon the next day she was waving from the driveway
As his pickup disappeared in the dust
It was a good thing while it lasted too bad he became a bastard
He was lucky to be living with us
So she took the brand new kitten and they went into the kitchen
And she made herself some corn-on-the-cob
The dogs and cats all showed and she took everybody's vote
And they decided they would name the kitten Bob

Once again the dogs and cats have taken their dominion back
Sofas should be scratching pads
Four legs good Two legs bad

On the strength of that song alone I'll gladly buy the rest of Christine's CDs. However, things just keep getting better with the disc's last track, the "channeled" song "Mary Catherine's Ash Wednesday Journal Entry," in which Christine takes on the persona of 14 year-old Mary Catherine, suffering through Lent in a typically teenage way ("Easter's just around the bend/Once again it is Lent/And my face is smeared with ashes/Either I will run away or I'll stay/And sit through/Another hundred million masses") and reminds me a lot of Dar Williams at her best.

All in all, Christine Kane represents most of what I really love about singer/songwriters. Reasonable to excellent musical abilities mixed with truly being a writer. I plan to buy her new CD and then make my way back through her past ones, and I'm very thankful to have met her at BlogHer and been given this disc, as it renews my hopes that there are wonderful musicians out there I just haven't discovered yet.

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Play list: Coffee songs

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I was sitting here this morning, sipping my coffee, thinking about what type of play list I'd like to make. So, I decided to go with the obvious and make one about coffee. You can give it a listen here. I know it barely scratches the surface of coffee songs--there are TONS--but it's a good start, I think.

1. "One More Cup of Coffee" by The White Stripes (originally Bob Dylan).
One more cup of coffee for the road,
One more cup of coffee 'fore I go
To the valley below.

2. "Dog Coffee" by Ani DiFranco. Ani actually has a bunch of songs that mention coffee, so I sort of picked one at random.
Would you like some dog coffee
It's all that we've got
You can have some
You can have not

3. "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega. An obvious choice.
I am waiting
At the counter
For the man
To pour the coffee

4. "Heartstopper" by Emiliana Torrini.
Coffee is pouring out my ears
It's the only thing they have in here
And my heart stops beating

5. "Cup of Coffee" by Garbage. This song is so sad. I had forgotten about it...just hearin it again was worth making this list.
You tell me you don't love me over a cup of coffee
And I just have to look away
A million miles between us
Planets crashing into dust
I just let it fade away

6. "Starfish and Coffee" by Prince. My mind must not be free enough, because this is just silly.
If u set your mind free, baby
Maybe you'd understand
Starfish and coffee
Maple syrup and jam

7. "Coffee & Cigarettes" by Michelle Featherstone. (There are other songs with this title as well, including one by Otis Redding.)
I gave up coffee and cigarettes
I hate to say it hasn’t helped me yet
I thought my problems would just dissipate
And all my pain would be in yesterday

8. "Black Coffee" by Black Flag. (Again, there are other songs with this title as well, including a Tricky track and an Ella Fitzgerald song.)
Who are you with, where have you been
Imagination turns thoughts, reason can't change
Staring at the walls, think I know what I see
Anger and coffee, feeling mean

9. "The Opposite of Coffee" by The Lucksmiths.
She often speaks so softly
She sends me to sleep
She’s the opposite of coffee
She’s the last thing I need first thing in the morning

10. "You Were Meant for Me" by Jewel. Couldn't resist.
I called my momma, she was out for a walk
Consoled a cup of coffee but it didn't wanna talk

11. "Black Coffee in Bed" by Squeeze.
The stain on my notebook
Remain all that's left
Of the memory of late nights
And coffee in bed

12. "Smoking Cigarettes and Drinking Coffee Blues" by Lefty Frizzell
Smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee all night long
Wondering how a love so right could suddenly go wrong
I'd take the next bus out of town but I gotta be near you
I got those smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee blues

13. "Taylor the Latte Boy" by Kristen Chenoweth. This is just too damn funny.
Taylor the latte boy,
Bring me java, bring me joy!
Oh Taylor the latte boy,
I love him, I love him, I love him…

14. "Intergalactic" by The Beastie Boys. Not exactly a coffee song, but a line that is reminiscent of how I take my coffee.
When it comes to beats well I'm a fiend
I like my sugar with coffee and cream

15. "Wake Up and Smell the Coffee" by The Cranberries.
Come on now
Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up
Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up
It's time, smell the coffee, the coffee

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A tail of two kitties, or, last night at my house

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Once upon a time, there were two kitties. One was a big tabby named Atticus, the other a more petite tortie named Esme. It seemed that in their interactions, Atticus would have the advantage, as he outweighed Esme by a good six pounds.

However, Esme had many tricks up her sleeve, including seeming to be uninterested in Atticus' exposed belly.

atty and esme

Being a cat, however, Esme was unable to feign disinterest for long. Soon she was licking her kitty lips in anticipation of her attack.

atty and esme

At the sight of Esme's renewed interest, Atticus went on the defensive.

atty and esme

But alas, his defensive posture was too late, as Esme went in for the kill!

atty and esme

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Women blogging on music

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Yesterday, Maria over at BlogHer posted an answer to a question that has been rolling around in my head lately as well: are there any women blogging about music? Turns out there are a good handful, including one I'll definitely be watching, Collected Sounds. Big thanks to Maria for this round-up, and if you are interested in reading women's music writing, definitely check out the post and comments for more places to look.

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New hair

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I finally got it together and got my hair cut today, and I am big with the post-haircut happiness. It has been thinned by about half, as well as de-mulleted, and I feel so much better! I'm even beginning to have some love for my natural hair color. Which isn't to say I'll never dye again, but it's good to be au natural for a bit.

grace new hair front

grace new hair back

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Birthday list

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I have been asked to provide a list of things I would like for my birthday. And you know, I really don't hate presents. So I'm happy to comply. In no particular order, here is some stuff I wish someone would buy me.

1. Timbuk2 Cargo Tote
I'm partial to the olive and lavender combo.

2. Badass original woodcut print

3. Brilliant wrap dress from Alight (1X)

4. Alternatively, this other brilliant dress from Alight

5. Amazing hand painted pendant by Ruby

6. Sea glass pendant from Twigs & Heather

7. Recycled ad bag

8. Just about anything from the Broken Plate Pendant Company

9. Nikki McClure crow t-shirt (XL)

Big big thanks to my friend The Shoppista for pointing me towards everything on this list.

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Top Five Hottest Men in the Prem

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I don't know if any of my readers follow non-American football (i.e. soccer), but at my house, it's a big deal. The Premiere League has been up for a couple of weeks now, much to Mark's constant joy and my typical irritation and occassional amusement. And as excited as Mark has been about watching both games and (endless) highlight shows, I've realized something myself: there are some damn fine men in the Prem. In that spirit, I give you the Top Five Hottest Men in the Premiere League:

Robin Van Persie5. Michael Essien, Chelsea

4. Jonathan Spector, West Ham United

3. Kasper Schmeichel, Manchester City

2. Xabi Alonso, Liverpool

1. Robin Van Persie, Arsenal

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Kane

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Kane CD coverI mentioned a few days ago that I loved the song Christian Kane did for Angel, "L.A. Song." On the strength of that track, I visited the website for Christian's band, Kane and listened to the sample cuts, and I liked them as well, so I popped over to MxMerch and bought Kane's CD.

Not a bad series of moves by yours truly. I'm very much enjoying the record.

iTunes classifies Kane as country, but I'd put it more in the realm of rockabilly or southern rock--it's driven mostly by guitar and Christian's vocals, with welcome additions of fiddle, lap steel, mandolin, and dobro by Craig Eastman. Lyrically, the songs deal with love lost and found, southern geography (references to Carolina, Dallas, Mexico, I-35, and Oklahoma), drinking, Vietnam, God, dirt roads, neon signs, and many of the usual tropes of good old-fashioned country songs (with extra points for a reference to David Allen Coe that would make my mama proud). Which isn't to say it's all rote--there are moments of lyrical brilliance, and enough references and visuals to keep me interested.

To my ear, the best track on the album is the opener, "Sweet Carolina Rain," which is lyrically interesting ("Preacher man's daughter said I was goin' to hell/And I'm a little superstitious now/Driving down the road going a hundred and ten/Braggin' to your mama's little boy he's a man"), with a fantastic reference to Huck Finn, a sing-along chorus, and a fun fiddle line. I'm also a little bit enamored with the closing track, "Oklahoma State of Mind," which reminds me (in a positive way) of the fun and wild feel of Garth Brooks' "Ain't Goin' Down 'Til the Sun Comes Up." On a sadder and more serious note, the heartbreak and self-loathing that comes across in "Don't Come Home" ("I just called to tell you/That I was wrong and you were on my mind./If you want I'll leave you alone right now/'Cause I know why you're saying, why you're saying/Don't come home") is just about enough to break your heart, and Christian's vocal on it is just perfect.

All in all, this is a solid album for anyone who has a particular affection for Christian's voice, or for country/southern rock hybrid style music. Don't, however, buy the album thinking it's going to be like ten tracks of "L.A. Song"--the feel is much different. Be forewarned that you won't find L.A. lawyer Lindsey McDonald on the Kane album--these boys are southern and you can hear it. And that's just fine by me.

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More pre-birthday musings

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As I continue to feel vaguely uneasy about my upcoming birthday, I thought it might be therapeutic for me to make a list of things I am surprised/impressed about when it comes to my adult self. I may not be everything I want to be, but I'm a few things I never expected. To whit:

1. I can now tell the difference between a bad cup of coffee and a good one, and, to a lesser extent, between a bad glass of wine and a good one.

2. I am no longer paralyzed with nervousness when I have to drive somewhere I've never been before.

3. I've learned to keep plants (mostly) alive.

4. I no longer have doubts about my employability. I may not always be able to find a job I like, but I can always find a job.

5. I don't apologize for my music taste anymore.

6. I am completely at ease describing myself as a feminist.

7. I've been involved in the rescue of nearly two dozen dogs.

8. I can now appreciate where I'm from while still being honest about how much I hated it when I actually lived there.

9. When I look back at high school, I'm not angry anymore.

10. I have a passport. It may not have any stamps on it yet, but I do have a passport.

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Update on Michael Vick

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There is news today that Michael Vick is entering a plea bargain in his dog fighting case. It sounds as if he may well do some actual prison time for his crimes, though probably not much. His sponsors are pretty much all ending their relationships with him, and he's currently suspended from the NFL. I wouldn't be surprised if he never plays again.

It's not nearly enough.

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Promised swimsuit photo

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Sadly, I can't find the swimsuit photo of myself and Melinda I wanted to post, nor did I manage to get a new photo taken this weekend, so this old one will have to do. I don't look exactly like this anymore, but it's still fairly recognizable as me (check out those big ass feet!). Anyway, heres to The Swimsuit Brigade for Honest Photos!

swimsuit.jpg

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High School Play List

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Given my previous post mentioning my upcoming ten year high school reunion, I was inspired to make a play list today featuring songs I remember from high school. Please note that these are definitely not all songs I personally chose to listen to when I was in high school, just the stuff I remember being popular, playing at school dances, that kind of thing. Presented in roughly chronological order, you can hear the list here.

The List:

1. "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You" by UB40. This was huge my first year of high school, if I'm remembering correctly. Another UB40 cut, "Red Red Wine" was also big. For reasons I don't understand, I associate UB40 with my ill-fated first high school boyfriend.

2. "Runaway Train" by Soul Asylum. No words for how huge this song, and Soul Asylum's album "Grave Dancer's Union," were. It was actually the first CD I ever bought, when I was, I think, 14. I have special romantic girly associations with another track on that album, "The Sunmaid," but this was the one that everyone knew. It stands in for other stuff, too, coming, like I did, at the tail end of real grunge and the beginning of the faux-grunge sell-out movement.

3. "What's Up?" by 4 Non-Blondes. This song makes me think of my best friend Scand. She loved 4 Non-Blondes. I hadn't heard this in years until I put it on this list, and it actually holds up pretty well to my ear.

4. "Cryin'" by Aerosmith. The mid-90s were a big 70s flashback period, as you probably remember, and who better to celebrate that than Aerosmith? I think this song played at every dance I ever went to in high school. And the videos--for this and especially for "Crazy" a bit later? Huge stuff. Everybody wanted to either be Liv Tyler or do Liv Tyler (or, in my case, both).

5. "Hey Jealousy" by The Gin Blossoms. And so we begin to embrace corporate 90s rock...little did we know that in a few years, rock would be so dead we'd be nostalgic for the Gin Blossoms.

6. "Stay" by Lisa Loeb. Another song I associate with Scand, and also with the sexy/smart girl I was planning to be in college by the time this came out. Wonder what happened to her? Probably the same thing that happened to Lisa Loeb. Anyway, this song also brings up the movie "Reality Bites," which was not exactly a small deal at this point.

7. "Whatta Man" by Salt N Pepa. I'm not proud when I say that I grew up in an all-white community, I'm just stating a fact. And, looking back, a lot of the music we listened to was all-white too. There were things happening in rap and R&B when I was in high school that I had no idea about, and the rest of young America did. Not much I can do about that now, of course, but it's a strange thought. Anyway, white as we were, Salt N Pepa did penetrate, and I personally still have a soft spot there.

8. "Linger" by The Cranberries. Not much to say, except DAMN I still love this song.

9. "Don't Take the Girl" by Tim McGraw. Where I grew up, there was a good bit of country music. I'm sparing you most of it, though I do remember it vividly. However, I have to include one country song on this list, just to be fair, and this one was both huge and not that annoying. Damn contemporary country, anyway.

10. "Gangsta Paradise," by Coolio. See above re: whiteness of my community, but I don't think anybody anywhere missed this one.

11. "Carnival" by Natalie Merchant. By the time I started listening to Ani DiFranco, in around 1994, the chick singer was starting to make some headway on the regular radio airwaves as well. These women didn't do half what Ani did for me, but it was still nice to hear the odd girl voice on airwaves that were previously so testosterone soaked. Natalie Merchant is one of those.

12. "Always" by Bon Jovi. I think this song may have been the theme of my senior prom. Or some similar event.

13. "You Ought to Know" by Alanis Morisette. One of my best high school memories is connected to this song. It involves riding around with Scand in her car, screaming along to this CD. Well, I screamed--she sang. Anyway, it gives me the warm fuzzies even all these years later. Gotta love Alanis for that. I don't quite think it is what she was going for, but whatever.

14. "Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Deep Blue Something. And so we return to corporate music. As far as corporate music goes, I actually like this song, but man I hated it then. It was on all. the. damn. time.

15. "1979" by The Smashing Pumpkins. Ending on this note likely makes my generation seem a lot cooler than it actually is, but a little revisionist history never hurt anybody, did it? And this song was big, as was whole album. A last breathe into grunge. And poetically, the year I was born. Incidentally, if you've never thought about the lyrics to this song, you should. There's a lot going on there.

OK, here ends my trip down memory lane. I challenge all you out there to try to do this--I'd love to read/listen to your memories.

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You're aging well*

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Right on schedule, pre-birthday panic has hit.
Grace at high school graduationIn eight days, I will be 28. Seeing it written out, it seems like a perfectly reasonable age to be. 28. Going to my ten year high school reunion next month (just like Romy and Michelle...). 28. In my late 20s. 28. Homeowner, dedicated partner, holder of a reasonable job. 28. All grown up.

But I don't feel all grown up. I've been in some kind of weird second adolescence all summer, all the way down to the unusually bad skin. And y'all, my first adolescence was really nothing to write home about--I didn't need another one, particularly not one in which I have way more responsibilities and weigh 50 lbs more. Good God.

I'm told more and more often these days that really your 20s are not all they're cracked up to be and it is better to be in your 30's, and I more or less believe this and have been saying for a couple of years now that I am looking forward to 30. But if that's true, why is 28 filling me with such dread? Partially it's the usual "I haven't done as much as I should have by this advanced age" bullshit, which I know enough at this advanced age to know is bullshit, but partially it's something else. I feel like I'm crossing some sort of threshold that I only barely know is there, making some kind of decision I'm not totally cognizant of. And I'm not sure I want to cross, or sure it's the right decision. This responsible, adult life that my 28 year old self has created--is it really what I wanted? It's certainly not what I'd have expected of myself fifteen years ago, or even ten. Nobody ever thinks she's going to end up this much like everybody else, I guess, and it was likely just childish hubris for me to expect it, but I did expect it. Not so much that I was going to be more than this, but just that I was going to be different than this.

And as it turns out, I'm going to be 28 next week, and I'm doing pretty much what's expected of a middle-class white girl in her late 20s in the U.S. Why do I find that so very disappointing?

*apologies to Dar Williams, of course

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The Swimsuit Brigade for Honest Photos

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Suzanne has a post at BlogHer challenging women to post photos of themselves in their swimsuits, to remind all of us that we're the real women with the real bodies out here, and that's OK--more than OK, actually, fabulous. She posted hers and there are/will be others in the comments. I am 100% for it and wanted to share. Since the most recent one of myself I can find is from 1997, I'll be attempting to do one of me tonight, digital camera battery willing.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the skin we live in, y'all.

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Shilling for dog toys

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Leghorn toyChance (my former dog, for those who are newer to the blog) was hell on toys. He loved to chew and pull on things and was a big dog with a very powerful set of chompers, so things didn't last too long around him. Due to this predilection for destruction, and the ridiculous cost of dog toys, we learned fairly quickly that Goodwill stuffed animals were the best way to go. Since they were just going to be gutted in short order anyway, it didn't much matter how ugly or silly looking they were.

Leo and Ata (current dogs) aren't anywhere near as hard on toys, or as excited about toys, as Chance was. They'll sniff and lick and lightly chew on anything new that comes into the house, but once they've thoroughly explored whatever it is, it's likely to sit in the toy basket for a month before either one of them thinks to pick it up again. We have holiday-specific stuffies from at least a year ago, and when something does get thrown out, it's usually because it's just gotten too damn dirty, not because it's been eviscerated.

So, since dog toys now have a longer life span, we have to buy fewer of them and look at the ones we do buy for longer. Time, perhaps, to step up the quality a notch from Goodwill leftovers.

And I've found the perfect thing.

Cheeky Squeaky Pets are just your basic plushies with squeakers, nothing all that exceptional, except they are SO DAMN CUTE. They come with their own funny names and little stories, and they make me smile when I look at them. They sell for about $10 each at pet stores and on their website, but they're also available at dog.com (my favorite source for dog stuff online--check out their prices on Greenies) for about $5. I added a couple of them to my last order on a whim, and the boys are loving them (and continuing to not tear them up). I think they're going to be my new go-to toy for people with new dogs/rescue homes. I'll just buy a bunch of them and keep them in my gift tub.

C'mon, doesn't your canine baby (or feline baby--I think they do cat toys too) need a new toy?

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Today's Play List: Better than Dylan

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I can't stop. I am an iMeem addict.

Today's play list is a celebration of the songs of Bob Dylan. Which are, of course, so much better if Bob Dylan is not singing them. It is by no means a representative sample of Dylan covers--I definitely have preferences here (which is why there are two different versions of my favorite Dylan song included in my 15 choices, and there could easily have been at least one more). Still, a few unusual things on the list that are fun to listen to. If you want to check them out, go here.

The list:
1. "Just Like a Woman" covered by Nina Simone
2. "Hurricane" covered by Ani DiFranco
3. "Don't Think Twice (It's Alright)" covered by Social Distortion
4. "He Was a Friend of Mine" covered by Cat Power
5. "I Shall Be Released" covered by Jack Johnson
6. "It Ain't Me, Babe" covered by Lucy Kaplansky
7. "Like A Rolling Stone" covered by Bob Marley
8. "Tangled Up in Blue" covered by the Indigo Girls with Ani DiFranco
9. "Trouble in Mind" covered by Janis Joplin
10. "Death is Not the End" covered by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
11. "Maggie's Farm" covered by Rage Against the Machine
12. "When I Paint my Masterpiece" covered by Elliot Smith
13. "Isis" covered by The White Stripes
14. "Just Like a Woman" covered by Van Morrison
15. "Girl From the North Country" covered by The Rolling Stones

Anybody who can point me towards a full version of any of Nina Simone's Dylan covers gets a cyber-cookie.

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Tap the pack against your open hand. Once, twice, three times. Pull off the cellophane in one clear strip, flip the lid, and inhale. Remove one cylinder.

The smooth paper between your lips, cup your hands. Hiss, then spark, then flame. Lean forward into the tiny fire and drawn in.

Inhale. Hold. Exhale.

Feel something, a flicker, below your heart, deep in your chest. Not much, just a tiny light. Tend it gently.

Inhale. Hold. Exhale.

It's not enough. Nowhere near enough. But it's something.

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Today's play list: L.A. Songs

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I had such a good time playing with iMeem yesterday; I decided to do it again today. Today's subject: a play list of songs about Los Angeles. Obviously, there are A LOT of songs about L.A., and I kept it down to 15, so if I missed your favorite L.A. song, my apologies (I missed a couple of my own as well, due to them not being available on iMeem). If you want to hear the ones I did choose, go here. And if you just want to read about them...

1. "L.A. Song" by Christian Kane
I started off with this one because it's the song that got me started thinking about L.A. It's from Angel.
Pretty girl on every corner
Sunshine turns the sky to gold
Warm, warm it's always warm here
And I can’t take the cold

2. "Screenwriter's Blues" by Soul Coughing
Probably my favorite L.A. song ever. Puts my in a semi-hypnotic state.
It is 5 am
and you are listening
to Los Angeles

3. "Los Angeles is Burning" by Bad Religion
A classic.
A placard reads "the end of days"
Jacaranda boughs are bending in the haze
More a question than a curse
How could hell be any worse
The flames are stunning
The cameras running
So take warning!

4. "A Long December" by The Counting Crows
I can't help it, I have a soft spot for the Counting Crows. Plus this song is just so damn sad and lonely, I am using it as a stand-in for Dan Bern's "Wasteland," which isn't available on iMeem.
And its one more day up in the canyons
And it’s one more night in Hollywood
If you think you might come to California...I think you should

5. All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow
Not the most original choice, I know, but I had to include something that implies L.A. might be fun...
All I wanna do is have some fun
I got a feeling I'm not the only one
All I wanna do is have some fun
I got a feeling I'm not the only one
All I wanna do is have some fun
Until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard

6. "California Dreamin'" by The Mamas and the Papas
Another classic.
All the leaves are brown
And the sky is grey
I’ve been for a walk
On a winters day
I'd be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.
California dreamin
On such a winters day

7. "California" by Joni Mitchell
For a Canadian, Joni Mitchell really makes you believe she's homesick for California. Regardless of the Sunset reference, though, this song always makes me think more of Northern California than L.A. Regardless, it's another classic that had to make the list.
California I'm coming home
Oh will you take me as I am
Strung out on another man
California I'm coming home

8. "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses
I'm not going to bother commenting on what currently passes for Guns N' Roses, but the original GNR line-up was, to my mind, the ultimate in L.A. bands, and this is their ultimate L.A. song.
Welcome to the jungle
It gets worse here everyday
Ya learn ta live like an animal
In the jungle where we play
If you got a hunger for what you see
You'll take it eventually
You can have anything you want
But you better not take it from me

9. "Lullaby" by Shawn Mullins
Since it's both a great L.A. song (again with the loneliness theme) and one of my favorite songs ever, this one had to make the list. Plus I just love this line:
I told her I ain't so sure
about this place
it's hard to play a gig in this town
and keep a straight face
seems like everyone here's got a plan
it's kind of like Nashville with a tan

10. "Why You'd Want to Live Here" by Death Cab for Cutie
I'm not a huge fan of DCFC, or their whole genre, but this is a good song, and I'm a sucker for outside criticism of L.A.
And I can't see why you'd want to live here.
Billboards reach past the tallest buildings,
"We are not perfect - but we sure try."
As UV rays degrade our youth with time.

11. "Celluloid Heroes" by The Kinks
I unabashedly love this song.
And those who are successful,
Be always on your guard,
Success walks hand in hand with failure
Along Hollywood Boulevard.

12. "California" by Rufus Wainwright
The really fabulous thing about this song is the feeling of exhaustion and fed-up boredom. Nobody does boredom like Rufus Wainwright.
California, California
You're such a wonder that I think Ill stay in bed
Big time rollers, part time models
So much to plunder
That I think I'll sleep instead

13. "Los Angeles, I'm Yours" by The Decemberists
Nothing like a little L.A. love from a Portland band...
There is a city by the sea
A gentle company
I don't suppose you want to
And as it tells its sorry tale
In harrowing detail
Its hollowness will haunt you
Its streets and boulevards
Orphans and oligarchs it hears
A plaintive melody
Truncated symphony
An ocean's garbled vomit on the shore,
Los Angeles, I'm yours

14. "City of Angels" by The Distillers
The Distillers add a much-needed dose of California punk to the list. Plus, extra points for bitterness.
It’s a ghost town rabid underworld
Dionysian night vitriolic twilight
A mirage comes up it never ends
Once you get burnt you’re never the same
Left behind erased from time
Ain’t no decency in being boxed up alive
Look around ain't no R.I.P. signs here
We don’t rest in peace
We just disappear

15. "Under the Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gotta end on a sad note, with a song that brings my adolescence to mind in the first three chords. This is a band that has a lot of L.A. songs, and this is the only one that does a damn thing for me. I'm such a sucker.
It's hard to believe that there's nobody out there
It's hard to believe that I'm all alone
At least I have her love, the city she loves me
Lonely as I am, together we cry

So hit me--what L.A. song should I have included that I missed?

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Libby Dibby

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Thanks to a post on BlogHer, I now know about Libby Dibby skirts.

And I really, really want one.

You know, in case anybody out there is desperately searching for a (kind of expensive) gift for my birthday (which is in two weeks!).

Edited to add: I'm not 100% sure which size of Libby Dibby I'd wear--either L or XL. I'm a 14/16 in skirts usually, so if they don't run small, a large would probably work. As for patterns, I'm partial to espresso bean, fall springs, in the tropics, and keeping it cool.

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A thought on not-so baby Jane

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One of the things I am trying to do with the blog these days is highlight good posts I'm reading elsewhere on the blogosphere, and today that means recommending you head over to Hathor Legacy and read Scarlett's post from yesterday about roles for older women in Hollywood. And I'm not just suggesting you read it because Whatever Happened to Baby Jane is one of my favorite movies ever, I swear.

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Hallelujah reviews

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In a melancholy mood today, I decided to use my new best friend iMeem to make myself up a play list of all of the covers of "Hallelujah" I could find. Because really, what better way to wallow in it, and also to follow up my Patti Smith-related covers theme from yesterday? And after finding them all, what better than to review them, right?

Bon Jovi: The full version of Bon Jovi's "Hallelujah" isn't available on iMeen, just a 30 second clip, but I've heard it before. It's not a bad version, and I salute them for picking this song to cover, but it's pretty standard and a bit too choir-y in the chorus for my taste. A solo version of just Jon and a guitar doing it would likely be better. I think they use all of the regular verses.

John Cale: John Cale is a Welsh musician who does a fairly standard take on the song, accompanied by a piano and with a slightly speedier tempo than many others. He includes all of the typical verses.

Leonard Cohen: Unlike Bob Dylan, I often really like Leonard Cohen's versions of his own songs. I think his "Chelsea Hotel" is fabulous. But honestly, I prefer other people doing this one. Cohen's version is so sedate compared to some others, I don't get as much pain from it. Clearly it's his song, and he can do it however he wants, but I think adding a singer with bigger vocal range improves the song. The great thing about the Cohen version, however, is the inclusion of the verses nobody else uses in place of the final two verses:

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Sheryl Crow: This song is out of Sheryl Crow's league, no doubt, but given that, she does an OK job with it. Her's is a spare, guitar-accompanied version, a bit too fast for my taste, but not terrible. And one thing I will say for Crowe is that she includes that fourth verse that most of the women who cover this song take out, and I appreciate that.

Allison Crowe: Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Crowe brings a nice piano and fantastic pipes to the song, and this is a good, solid version, with enough loss of control in the later verses to make me believe it. She includes the all of the standard verses. Makes me want to give a listen to Crowe's original work.

Dresden Dolls: The Boston-based Dresden Dolls call themselves "brechtian punk cabaret," and that's as good a name for what they do as anything else. The wringing pain in the vocal on their piano-driven live version of "Hallelujah" is the most excruciating take on the song I've heard. Their version is slow and drawn out, clocking in at two minutes or so longer than most cuts of it, and it leaves my breath baited for the whole time. By the end, it sounds as if the band's singer is being ritually tortured while singing. Yeah, it's that good.

Gavin Degraw: Poppy Gavin Degraw's version of the song does almost nothing for me. It's a basic vocal+piano, with not much real emotion I can find in it. It sounds almost as if he's trying to make the song sexy, and it's so just not supposed to be that way. Making matters worse, he skips the final verse ("well, maybe there's a god above/but all I’ve ever learned from love/was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you/it's not a cry that you hear at night/it's not somebody who's seen the light/it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah") and does a weird high-note thing at the end. Bah.

Imogen Heap: I'm not generally a huge fan of English singer-songwriter Imogen Heap--I think she's melodramatic. But this is a melodramatic song, and her a capella version does not disappoint. She skips the first two verses and just sings the last three, giving a whole lot more romantic imagery and a whole lot less religious imagery, which is an unusual take.

Jeff Buckley: Jeff Buckley's version (from the album "Grace") tends to be the gold standard of "Hallelujah," and that's the case for a reason. He breaks my heart every time. His full version isn't available on iMeen either (stupid record companies!), but it's worth buying from iTunes if you've not heard it. He includes all of the regular verses and it's mostly a boy+guitar type of a take. It's not my favorite version ever, but it's probably the most accessible, while still sounding emotionally honest. Plus Buckley's story is such a sad one that it gives the song an extra poignant feel when you listen to him sing it.

Jake Falana Band: This is an alternative-indie band out of New Jersey, and their version is mellow and haunting, with soft vocals and slightly twangy guitar. Not my favorite version--the vocal is too low and the guitar to high for me, and the singer doesn't have the vocal range I'd really like to hear for this song, but it's not a bad try at it, either. All of the regular verses.

k.d. lang: It was k.d. lang who brought me the love for this song in the first place, on the day that I listened to her version, from "Hymns of the 49th Parallel," over and over again, bawling like a small child. I have since found covers of it I actually prefer, but this one is certainly easy on the ears, with lang giving it a sultry treatment that I never would have expected to suit it so well. I wish she didn't skip the fourth verse.

Espin Lind, Kurt Nilsen, Alejandro Fuentes, and Askil Holm: This version of "Hallelujah," done with each man taking a verse and four-part harmony on the chorus, is probably the single best one of I've ever heard. The singers are (I think) all Norwegian, with solo careers, but seem to have made one album together, featuring this song. It's just beautiful, though not as emotionally gripping as some of the other versions. In order to have the right number of verses to go around, though, they skip the fourth one, which is just too bad.

Jack Lukeman: Irish singer-songwriter Jack Lukeman (also known as Jack L) has a much deeper voice than most of the people who take this song on, and it doesn't quite work for me. The lowest parts of the song seem almost farcical when he does them, with none of the voice shaking and tremble that makes the song seem prayerful when other people do it. Like so many others, Jack L skips the fourth verse.

Regina Spektor: Tori-esque singer/pianist Spektor's version of "Hallelujah" is only barely musical, with a soft drum and organ type background, mostly just vocal. It's very slow and very raw, with almost breaking vocals in a couple of places and a chorus that veers off the original melody. It's painful to listen to, and, I think, fabulous. Spektor skips the fourth verse ("well there was a time when you let me know/what's really going on below/but now you never show that to me do you/but remember when I moved in you/and the holy dove was moving too/and every breath we drew was hallelujah"), which is disappointing to me, but overall, she hits it out of the park.

Rufus Wainwright: I love me some Rufus Wainwright--I think he was fabulous on the soundtrack to "Brokeback Mountain," and I love his cover of Cohen's "Everybody Knows," but his "Hallelujah" doesn't give me the big love. The tempo is too fast, making it seem almost upbeat, and he doesn't use as much of his range as he could. He includes all of the typical verses.

Any versions I missed?

Editing later to add that if you want to check out the playlist and hear most of these versions (though not the entirety of the Bon Jovi or the Jeff Buckley), go here.

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Twelve

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Twelve CD CoverIt's been a good long time since I've fallen in love with a new CD. But I am, for the moment, crushing fairly hard on Patti Smith's new(ish) cover CD, Twelve. Covers are nothing new for Patti, and she's gotten a lot of criticism for the more mellow and less drastic versions she offers on this album, but to my ear, this is some of her best work ever. It has a mature, almost tired, sound that makes sense to me, given Patti's age and everything she's seen, and also fits well with the songs themselves, most of which are decades old and some of which haven't aged all that gracefully.

The twelve song collection begins with fairly low-key version of Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced?" and culminates with Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise" (which brings Coolio's "Gangster's Paradise" to my mind much more readily than Wonder's original, but that may just be due to my age). In between, Patti brings the house down with the best versions I've ever heard of both Tears for Fears "Everybody Wants To Rule the World" and Neil Young's "Helpless," my favorite track on the album, and a song I didn't even know I liked until I heard her do it.

Other surprisingly strong points are Patti's version of The Doors' "Soul Kitchen" and her Stones-true take on "Gimme Shelter" (a song that takes on a whole other thing when sung by a woman). The places where the album lacked for me were the songs I was most looking forward to hearing--the nonsensical ramblings of both Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (which, much as I love the original, probably didn't ever need to have its lyrics enunciated so clearly) and Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit." The anthemic and hallucinatory nature of both of these pieces seems out of place on this subtle and melancholy album.

The collection is rounded out with the Beatles "With You Without You," Bob Dylan's "Changing of the Guard," Paul Simon's "The Boy in the Bubble," and the Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider," with "White Rabbit" the only track where Patti takes on lyrics originally sung by another woman. Normally, ignoring songs originally done by women would bother me, but with the way Patti takes these guys' songs and makes them hers (reminding me a wee bit of the better parts of Tori Amos' Strange Little Girls), it works out pretty well.

This album brings up the question, though, if you are a musician or wish you were--which twelve songs would you choose to cover? I'll think about it and post my list later.

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FlexPetz

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I've been meaning, for a bit of time, to write about FlexPetz (no link from me, fuck them) and how much I hate the whole concept and how it makes me want to vomit. However, Laurie at BlogHer wrote a post this morning that made all of my major points without extraneous cursing, so go her.

One thing I will add is this: if you want an animal in your life, but don't feel ready to foster in your home, then you should really look into volunteering with an animal shelter or rescue. You can help homeless pets without putting them or yourself in a situation that is destined to fail. Pets should not be consumables, to be bought, or, in the case of FlexPetz, rented. While I can think of nothing in my life that has been as singularly rewarding as working in animal rescue, the rewards it brings to me are absolutely the wrong reason to do it. It has to be for them, first, last, and always.

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Despair, Inc.

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I'm having a less-than-stellar day. If you are too, go here.

My personal favorite has to be the dysfunction lithograph, followed closely by the meetings one. You?

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8 Random Things Meme

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A bit back, Frog tagged me for the 8 Random Things Meme. I've been meaning to do it but forgetting, and now I think everybody I would have tagged has been tagged, so I'm just going to post the 8 random things.

Except that I can barely think of 8 things that anybody reading here doesn't already know about me...but I'll try.

1. My grandmother is having a sort of serious surgery on Tuesday (tomorrow), and I am really freaked out about it.

2. I've been drinking hot chocolate instead of coffee in the mornings recently, and it seems like a positive switch.

3. I want to get my hair cut like Charisma Carpenter's (Cordelia's) at the end of Angel season three, but I can't find a picture of it anywhere. Whenever I Google her I end up with a lot of pictures of her with long hair and very few clothes on.

4. I just read an essay about fan fiction and I am now obsessed with the whole idea of writing fan fiction as a creative writing exercise (obsessed with it in theory, not with actually doing it).

5. My second toe is longer than my big toe. This is supposed to be a sign of something, but I can't remember what.

6. I'm cheap about really strange things. Currently, I'm aghast at how expensive rugs are. At Ikea!

7. My tenth high school reunion is next month. I'm trying to figure out whether it is feasible to attend. I actually feel like I've been out of high school for far longer than ten years.

8. When I was a wee one, I spoke pathologically early (full paragraphs and memorizing stories at a year) and walked pathologically late (past two, I think). This has pretty much been my lifelong modus operandi.

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Online friends

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Laurie wrote a fantastic post over at BlogHer this morning on the topic of online friends. Laurie was specifically talking mostly about blogging friends, as is the relevant post-BlogHer subject, but I think most of what she's got to say is germane to other types of online friends as well.

And it inspires a proclamation:

Hello, my name is Grace, and I have online friends, some of whom I have met in person and some of whom I have not. I am truly blessed to have these friends, just as I am to have the friends I met in more "traditional" ways. Having online friends is not a sign of my "dorkiness" or social antagonism, it's a sign of my willingness (as well as their willingness) to reach across physical distance and bond with people. My online community is, in its way, just as important a part of my community as the people who surround me physically. I communicate with many of them on a near-daily basis, and they provide one of my most persistent and important support networks. I appreciate them more than I could ever say.

I've thought a lot about this, and I don't think it's cowardly to have "online friends." I don't think it's fake, or really, in any essential way, different than having "real life" friends. I'm at a place in my life now where a large number of the friends I have who were originally "real life" friends have become mostly online friends by virtue of our having moved to different parts of the continent, and there is really very little difference between those relationships and the ones that have flourished mostly online from the start.

It's just not in me to think that communication, whether it's in written or verbal form, is bad. Often, when I'm posting here or writing a mammoth email, I think of the days of extensive letter writing, a la Dangerous Liaisons, and I have to wonder how much has really changed. People have been communicating writing for centuries, and whether that writing gets encrypted as 1s and 0s and send over wireless lines or takes the pen and paper approach, it's the same thing. We're able to do it in what amounts to more-or-less real time now, but the driving force behind it, the need to connect and communicate, is the same, and I embrace that.

So I wanted to say thanks to my Internet friends, particularly the ones who do me the great honor of reading my rambles here at WINOW. I really do appreciate you, and I hope I can come somewhere close to doing for you what you've done for me.

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Financial update--August

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Last month:
Total credit card debt: $6,677.41
Total student loan debt: $33,022.93
Total savings: $500.00
Checking account balance: $403.36

Today:
Total credit card debt: $6,078.91
Total student loan debt: $33,022.93
Total savings: $600.00
Checking account balance: $203.74

So everything is moving in the right direction. I now need to contribute several hundred dollars a month more than I was previously to our joint budget, so my debt repayment is going to be slowed a bit, but I'm also going to start seeing bigger paychecks starting October 1, so I think it will all work itself out OK.

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In which I hate on Michael Vick and the SCLC

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So I have been refraining from posting anything about Michael Vick, mostly because I didn't think my blog readers needed to have their eyes assaulted by the inevitable onslaught of profanity that would ensue. I also didn't think my repeated wishes of great pain and suffering to Vick would put me in the best light. However, today it was brought to my attention that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is planning to honor Vick at their 50th anniversary celebration this weekend.

Honestly, there are no words for the pure rage that fills me with.

The SCLC has done fantastic work, from the Montgomery Bus Boycott through the March on Washington, voter registration drives, etc. I am fully in support of their history, even if my loyalties tend to lie with more radical organizations. Choosing to honor a man who is currently facing charges of horrendous, sadistic animal abuse, however, is beyond the pale (hit Google if you want info on Vick's case, I really don't have it in me to go through those stories again). How can the SCLC choose to honor Vick for his outstanding humanity? The message they send by doing so it terrible in two ways. First, it implies that Vick's alleged crimes against animals make no difference is his great humanity; and secondly, it implies that they couldn't find any other great black people to honor who actually are outstanding humans. This choice is offends me not only as a dog advocate, but as a human being. It's not just completely without regards to the animals abused and destroyed by Vick and others like him, it's also really racist.

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On the BlogHer07 Unconference

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As promised, I wanted to write about the Day 3 "unconference," which was the best part of BlogHer07 for me.

Basically, an unconference is a conference in which the content and format are driven by the participants, rather than pre-planned. There's some pretty decent information about the concept over at Wikipedia. For the one at BlogHer, everyone met in the morning in a big hotel meeting room. There were far fewer people there than at the larger BlogHer conference--maybe about 100. Everyone sat in chairs that were already put into a circle, and the moderator explained what would happen. There was a big sheet of paper at the front of the room that had time slots listed down one side and places in the room (i.e. tables 1-10) listed across the top. All participants were invited to write topics they would like to discuss in the time/place slot they'd like to discuss them, creating a schedule for the day. The commitment each of us made by posting a topic was not that we'd necessarily "lead" that group, but just that we'd be in that space at that time ready to discuss it.

We were presented with four guidelines and one cardinal rule for unconferences. They were something like the following (this is from memory, since I haven't unearthed my notes yet, so bear with me):

Guidelines:
1. Whomever is here is/are the right people/person.
2. Wherever it happens is the right place.
3. Whenever it happens is the right time.
4. Whatever happens is the right thing.

Cardinal rule:
If you are not participating or learning anything, it is your responsibility to move to somewhere where you are.

Basically, then, we were encouraged to join whichever groups suited us, stay for as long or as short a time as we wished, and move on if the discussion wasn't working for us.

Since I was only able to stay for the morning half of the unconference, I actually only attended two sessions. The first was a session suggested by someone else, which was about privacy and self-censorship in the blogsphere. The second was the session I suggested, entitled, "Is Blogging about Writing?" My intention was to vent my frustration at not having been involved in any sessions at the regular BlogHer conference that focused on actual blog content and writing, but what happened organically was a much broader discussion about how bloggers see themselves as writers, which was a better thing anyway. Each of the sessions had maybe 10 people involved, sitting around a table, talking. It was truly inspirational and I came home with a head full of new ideas, many of which were on subjects I thought I had already "figured out," which is really wonderful.

I've always been a person who gets more out of a conversation with a handful of people than I do out of a lecture for hundreds, or even a breakout session for 50. I loved that everyone got to speak at the unconference, and that everyone got the opportunity to suggest topics for discussion and have them taken up immediately. Although the event was structured enough to keep things flowing, it felt more like casual conversation than didactic learning. That was fantastic. I would highly recommend this type of arrangement for any number of types of gatherings, and more than any other aspect of BlogHer, it was the unconference that has me thinking I might want to go back.

There is a Wiki page on the BlogHer unconference, but I can't find it via search and (once again) can't find my notes, so if anybody reading this was there and has it, can you post a link in the comments? Thanks.

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Blogs I Met at BlogHer07

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One of the things I decided I wanted to do while I was at BlogHer was write a post when I returned highlighting all of the new blogs I was introduced to (through their people!) while I was there. I want a list of them for my own reference, of course, but I also thought it would be fun to share them with whomever reads here. Please realize, however, that this list is by no means comprehensive--I am working from notes and collected business cards here, and I know I didn't make it home with all of the cards people gave me. So if I met you and your blog isn't on this list, I do apologize, and trust me, the oversight is not intentional.

So, the blogs!

The Astrologer: the name says it all--an astrology blog by KT

Body Impolitic: a blog about body image done by photographer Laurie Toby Edison (with whom I was lucky enough to talk during day one of the conference over lunch) and writer Debbie Notkin

Confessions of a Cardamom Addict: a beautiful food blog by Jasmine, who I met at the un-conference

Don't Gel Too Soon: a writing-focused personal blog by Cynthia, with whom I spoke at the Day 3 BlogHer un-conference (which was, incidentally, my favorite part of the conference)

A Drivel Runs Through It: personal blog by Patia, who I also met talking about writing at the un-conference

Ellinetha: a personal blog by Melina, who I met at the un-conference

I, Asshole: an old favorite blog, by SJ, who I chatted with about feminism on the first day of the conference

The I'mperfect Mom: a mommy blog by Jenn, with whom I shared a session on writing at the un-conference

Jen Lemen: this is another one that I don't actually remember writing down, but it's an absolutely lovely blog with fantastic visual art as well as good writing

Keeping Track of the Insanity: a personal blog by Melissa, with whom I spoke at the un-conference about boundaries and self-censorship in blogging.

Kerflop: I have no idea when I wrote this down, but I just looked it up and it's a great looking personal blog

LaurieWrites: a personal blog by Laurie, with one of my favorite taglines ever, "Talking about my feelings since 1971." I met Laurie at the un-conference as well.

Notes to Self: a personal blog by Kyran, with whom I don't remember speaking, but of whom I have become a fan based solely on her Ivan Albright post.

Red Stapler: this blog belongs to the lovely photo-taking Suebob. It's a personal blog with a bit o this and a bit o that. Suebob was one of the first people I met at BlogHer and her friendliness really helped me feel comfortable there.

Thought by Thought
: a spirituality blog by Tree, whom I met several times over the course of the conference, and who said nice things about my tattoo

ThreeSeven: I don't remember where I met, or if I met, Shannon, but she writes this fun ("wholly disreputable") personal blog

The Word Cellar: a professional writing blog by Jennifer, with whom I chatted about writing at the un-conference

The Write Spot: another professional writing/editing blog, by Anne-Marie

Like I said, this list is by no means comprehensive, but it's at least a place to start. I'll probably be adding to it as I find more cards in the bottom of my many bags. In the meantime, I'm going to be reading!

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