Friday, May 25, 2012

What the F!#& Should I Read Friday: The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington

What The F#!& Should I Read Friday: Books to Make Your Weekend Weird & Wonderful
The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington

Welcome back to What The F!#& Should I Read Friday! I totally missed last week because I was on a six-hour round trip to take my grandmother to the airport, and no I don't write my posts in advance you guys geez that would indicate an organized mind. I have not got an organized mind you guys. Don't get me wrong, there's lots of stuff floating around in here, and to the casual observer it might even look like it was all ordered according to some arcane and mystic system (right? oh god, I hope so), but really, don't ask me to plan ahead. I go all to pieces.

This week's book, anyway. It's really fantabulous in so many ways. This book is not hip, I don't think, so you won't have to shoot me for saying that you've probably never heard of it. The honest truth is that very, very few of the books I really love were written by women. You can go ahead and shoot me now; I'm a blasphemer; it's fine, you can take my feminist card away, I wasn't using it anyway; I can't lie about this. Of the books that really talk to me deep down in my bones, almost every one was written by a dude. But not this one. This one is special for many reasons, that being only one of them. It is also special because it was written by an extremely amazing painter. Please, let me tell you about her. Here are your five questions...
1. Who the f!#& wrote this book?
2. What the f!#& is it about?
3. Where the f!#& should I read this book?
4. When the f!#& is it set? 
5. Why the f!#& should I read it?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Museum of Gratitude: The Kreativ Blogger Award!

Here it is! Thank you, thank you. The little brackets around
the word "award" are kinda funny, though. Like it wasn't
clear it was an award and they had to add the word to clarify.
Gosh, guys, I got a blog award. Before I thank the lovely person who gave it to me, I gotta thank the folks who created the A-Z Blogging Challenge - because participating in that is what made me the wonderful blog-friend who presented me with said award, and if I hadn't been part of the challenge this blog would still be sorely lacking in readers. (I mean, it's not like I'm overwhelmed by the millions, here. But SOME people read it. Like, more than three.) Especially readers who give me shiny things! Although in all honesty this award is not shiny. It is gray. As The Deathwriter said when she presented it, "It looks a little shabby and should probably be redesigned, but it's my precious, so who cares?  Looks aren't everything."  My thoughts exactly. Somebody thinks my blog is cool! Or "Kreativ," anyway. That's certainly an, um, creative spelling. I'm not usually a big fan of words-that-should-properly-begin-with-c-being-cutely-misspelled-with-a-k, but I then I totally love Krazy Kat, so who am I kidding, here?

To accept the award, In order to accept this award, there are four steps. You could totally stop reading right now, because I'm just gonna talk about myself and stuff, except the fourth step is nominating seven other bloggers and maybe you are one of them! (Look, I won't blame you if you skim. I hate chain emails and all that crap, I'm just doing it because I WANT THE AWARD and it would be cheating not to follow the steps. Although I guess I could get "kreativ" with my acceptance and, um, not do it. No, no, that's not fair.)  So if you don't have a blog, listen, you can go check your facebook now, or go outside, or something. But if you do have a blog, you should be reading with bated breath!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Things In My Cabinet: A Distant Voice in the Darkness

How awesome is this? Via Favim.
The Museum of Joy might one day be a place, and when it is, it ought to be the kind of place where a man can lose one voice and find another and a dream can turn into a book you can pull down from a shelf. Until I can find enough bits of green paper to buy a piece of land and build that place, however, this blog will have to do. And today this blog, at least, will have that man and that dream in it.

The man who lost one voice and found another is Roger Ebert. Now, I used to be a big movie buff; I wanted to be a director from the age of twelve until sometime in my first year of college when I realized that making movies involved working with other people, at which point I decided to be something else instead. (The jury is still out on what, exactly.) So I read a lot of film books. I had some book of Ebert's that included his rating for practically every movie ever made, and I went through and carefully starred every one I'd seen. I read screenplays, and reviews, and everything William Goldman had ever written. (That includes Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Princess Bride, for those of you not in the know. And if you don't know about those, there's something terribly terribly wrong with you and you should go away right now and watch them.) I decided the only film critic I "respected" was Ebert and the rest were hacks. (Gimme a break, I was 17.) Then I started studying nineteenth-century art history and basically stopped watching movies in the theater because I was too broke and stopped renting DVDs because our lovely local video store shut down and have pretty much just wandered around on my streaming Netflix for the last two years. Which is to say I didn't follow with any particular closeness the doings of Mr. Ebert. Until today somebody I'm friends with on Facebook posted this lovely, lovely quote: 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guest Post: Simple Steps to Creativity with Terry Holliday, Part 3

I can always count on Calvin for a relevant
quote. Via Sustainable Revenue Formula
(neat article on creativity, go read it!)
Part 3 of Simple Steps to Creativity with Terry Holliday is here! Missed Part 1 & 2? You can read them here and here.

A quick recap of her intro:

Creativity is everywhere.

Because we live in such a creative world I find it humorous when I meet someone that says they are not creative at all. I believe creativity is inherently a part of the human psyche. I believe creativity not only surrounds us but dwells within us. I believe it is a God given trait and that we are all creative beings.

Whether you are an artist, teacher, mechanic, or banker; you can enhance your life with creativity. Enhancing your creativity does not have to be difficult. You can become inspired in the strangest places and ways.

This week, we finish up with fifteen more wonderful suggestions and some words of encouragement from Terry. Let me just take a moment here to thank Terry so much for writing this absolutely lovely piece for the Museum of Joy - it's been a delight and an inspiration to me, and I hope to you as well!

26. Don’t give up.
Jericha says: I can't elaborate on this. Don't forget it, either. It may be the most important one of all.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Guest Post: Simple Steps to Creativity with Terry Holliday, Part 2

I googled "creativity is everywhere" and this
is what I found. Um, I want one. Via
For The Love of Ink and Paper (from a
great post about creativity! Go look!)
Part 2 of Simple Steps to Creativity with Terry Holliday is here!
Missed Part 1? You can read it here!

A quick recap of her intro:

Creativity is everywhere.

Because we live in such a creative world I find it humorous when I meet someone that says they are not creative at all. I believe creativity is inherently a part of the human psyche. I
believe creativity not only surrounds us but dwells within us. I believe it is a God given trait and that we are all creative beings.

Whether you are an artist, teacher, mechanic, or banker; you can enhance your life with creativity. Enhancing your creativity does not have to be difficult. You can become inspired in the strangest places and ways.

This week, fifteen more fabulous suggestions!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Guest Post: Simple Steps to Creativity with Terry Holliday

Tell me you can take this guy seriously.
I am on vacation! After a long plane ride spent trying not to kill the five-year-old girl kicking the back of my seat, I stopped in Amsterdam's Schipol Airport, which impressed me mightily because the coffeeshop guy spelled my name correctly without being told (which is possibly the first time that's EVER happened to me) AND the airport cops were riding Segways but still managed to look both sexy and competent. If you've ever seen a cop on a Segway, you may realize just what an accomplishment that is. Segways are possibly the silliest vehicles in existence.

Anyway, now I am in my mother's house in Wales. She lives in a stone cottage. It's 250 years old and glorious, with a doorway I have to duck into (I'm 5'2") and three-foot-thick walls (best window seats ever). I get to do nothing but sit in the garden. It's especially special because my grandmother is here too, and I haven't seen her in 14 years because she lives in Australia and I am much too broke to go to Australia. It's the first time three generations have been in one house since I was ten. It's pretty much excellent. There is a lot of gardening and drinking of tea going on. I just wish my sister was here; it doesn't seem quite fair to be here seeing Grandma without her. It does mean more strawberries and double cream for me, though, so I can't complain too much. (Also, why is double cream only a British thing? It is so wonderful and cannot be had for love or money anywhere I seem to look back home. Also, the cheese here is superlative.)

Because I am on vacation and imagine that this is what people on vacation are supposed to do, I have a guest blogger! Terry Holliday runs an awesome website called My Creativity Blog. She is an artist, art teacher and blogger and I stumbled across her while looking for really excellent blogs about the creative process. Hers is super inspirational and I liked it so much I asked her to guest post and she said yes! She put together a wonderful post on 40 Simple Ways to Enhance Creativity in Everyday Life. I got really excited about her suggestions and so I'm actually going to post them in three parts: her intro and the first ten, then two chunks of fifteen each. (I don't know about you, dear reader, but my eyes tend to start glazing over if I read too many things in a list at once, and her Simple Ways are so good I want to make sure they get the attention they deserve.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

What the F#!& Should I Read Friday: Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

What The F#!& Should I Read Friday: Books to Make Your Weekend Weird & Wonderful
Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey

Whoa! A new thing! I'm doing a new thing! It's called (hopefully you have already gathered this) What the F#!& Should I Read Friday, and it's a weekly book review & recommendation wherein I will introduce an awesome piece of writing that will bring joy, wonder, delight, weirdness, and other good feelings to your weekend. I will do my best to choose books that are a wee bit outside the mainstream and haven't been reviewed in a million places already, books that are not exactly rare gems but at least groovy hey-look-at-that-awesome-piece-of-driftwood kinds of finds. They're chosen for a certain sparkle or scintillation in the writing, a quality of zest or beauty or yearning, rather than for their stories - books that make me feel something at least a little bit profound, without being ponderous, weighty or overly thinky. Books that you get up from feeling glad you read the damn thing, so that next time you see someone moping around groaning aw, dude, what the f#!& should I read? you'll have an epically good answer. 

Why isn't this a thing? No, really, this is a genius idea.
Via Transition Culture.
Oddly enough, there seem to be no book blogs that pose this question. I find this truly bizarre, since I can't believe I am the only person in the world who goes into a bookstore or library and immediately forgets everything I was told I just absolutely had to read and therefore browses the isles in a state of high dudgeon, mumbling no, seriously, what the f#!& should I read under my breath until the phenomenon I will refer to as "bookstore gut" gets the better of me and I have to go home and content myself with the library on the back of the toilet. (Don't pretend you don't know what "bookstore gut" is.) I'm a big fan of What The F#!& Should I Make For Dinner, which is absolutely and totally where I got the idea, but I figured it had to have been done for books already. Nope. There's a Facebook thing, but it's for news snippets, not books. So, okay. I claim it now! Except only on Fridays. Someone else can have the domain name. I like mine.

So, today, the answer to your burning question: Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey is the book you should f#!&ing read. (Why the annoying symbol thing? Because I want high schoolers with stupid profanity filters on their school computers to be able to get here, that's why.)

1. Who the f#!& wrote this book?
 A guy named Edward Abbey.  He got called the "Thoreau of the American West," but that's not the best comparison because he makes Thoreau look bad. Don't get me wrong, I love Walden. But most of Walden is about Thoreau enjoying himself in the woods. Even when he's describing the scenery, it's as if it's all there for his own private pleasure. He is recommending it as a pleasantry, suggesting we all go for a nice walk. Not so Abbey: Abbey knows the desert doesn't give a f#!& about him. And the way he writes about it, if you ask me, is a hundred times more beautiful. He's a lot more Henry Miller than he is Henry D. Thoreau, and the book is better for it.

This place is f#!&ing glorious. From an article about
Desert Solitaire on Environmental Geography
2. What the f#!& is it about?
 It's about Edward Abbey becoming a ranger at Arches National Monument in Utah. Abbey used a lot of his journals from his time in the park for it, but it's not exactly a memoir. It's essentially a series of essays about his experience being almost completely alone in one of the most beautiful, wild, and empty places in the country. He goes on fabulous adventures exploring the local landscape, meets some fascinating people (and a f#!&ing crazy horse), and talks bluntly about the loss of wilderness in the American experience. He's kind of a wonderful character: self-sufficient without making a big screaming deal about it, humble, full of awe, straight-talking, contemptuous, deeply spiritual. He gets along just fine in his harsh and scouring new home, but he's also an educated man who will drop lines of poetry and quotes from German philosophers into his journals as they come to him - unpretentiously, just thinking about it. He and the vast spaces of the park go well together. But it's the landscape that's really the main character, not Edward Abbey. This is a book about the desert. It is a spectacularly beautiful and stunning book about the desert. It's got eloquent and often funny diatribes against industrialized tourism and the displacement of Native Americans and the evils of bureaucracy and growth for growth's sake; it's full of fire and fervor about the importance of true wilderness. Like Henry Miller, he loves humankind and hates society. But even though the book is full of his tough and lovely snarling, really it's the desert that sings out.

Cataract Canyon, south of Moab, Utah.
Via Western River Expeditions
3. Where the f#!& should I read this book?
Early in the morning, with a cup of coffee. Curled up in an armchair on a rainy night. Outside. Hard to read it on a bus, plane, or subway - too cramped. It will fill you with such spaciousness that not being able to stretch your legs will feel like an oppression. It's not a commuter book; it's too full of longing for immensity to digest anywhere claustrophobic, crowded, or overly dirty. I think a real train would be okay, though, if you're taking a longer sort of journey and packed some good snacks.

4. When the f#!& is it set?
Fifties? It was published in 1968, and he starts out by saying he's writing about what happened around ten years ago. It's post-war; there's some wild, weird, beautiful stuff in there about the atom bomb, because Moab, Utah, home of the Arches, is also home of a bunch of uranium mines.

5. Fine. Why the f#!& should I read it?
Because it's beautiful. Have you ever been to the desert? I have. It's an impossible, lonely, wonderful place. As Abbey says, completely passive, acted upon but never acting, the desert lies there like the bare skeleton of Being, spare, sparse, austere, utterly worthless, inviting not love but contemplation. Having been to the desert, having felt for myself its immensity and its strangeness, I've never come across anything like this book for putting me there. You're out in the nowhere lands with him. And there's a particular joy that permeates the book, that emanates like the smell of water from his stories: a fierce joy, burning and irrelevant and rough as sandstone. A kind of exuberance in existence. It's the kind of book that makes the world larger, that leaves you with a longing to see the sky and put your feet against the earth. It will expand the spaces within you. It will recall to you the spaciousness of being. So if you like the natural world even a little bit, you should f#!&ing read it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hot Soup Duet

Last night's show was amazing!! Over fifty bellydancers and an audience of well over a hundred turned out for Dancing Into The Light, our spring bellydance showcase cohosted by yours truly alongside the inimitable Chaya Leia and Sahina. Christina and I debuted the piece I choreographed, which we've been working on since early January: The Hot Soup Duet! What kind of a name is that? Well, it's set to a song called "Tchorba" by the ah-MAY-zing French fusion/klezmer/gypsy/jazz band Les Yeux Noirs. Tchorba means "soup" and is also the name of the album from which the song is taken - an album that mixes music from all over Eastern Europe and down through France to serve up a sound something like Django Reinhardt fed to a band of violin-wielding Yiddish maniacs. "Soup" seems appropriate not only given the marvelous mixture of stuff in their songs but also the heady broth of influences in our duet: from 1920s vaudeville style a la the Mira Betz/Elizabeth Strong piece "Joie de Vie" to the exuberance of dancers at a traditional wedding to contemporary fusion bellydance, this piece is a stylized, jazzy, joyful tribute to that fabulous and aromatic stew, the wonder of transnational fusion.

Oh, and it's hot. And here it is:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I realize this isn't a sculpture,
but I don't have pictures yet.
Monotype by the awesome
artist Lynn Peterfreund. She
makes pictures of crows!!!
So I totally failed to complete the A to Z blog challenge. I had ideas for X, Y and Z, honest- I pooped out because I spent the last four days of April getting paid to hang out without my pants on artist modeling for a renowned master sculptor & his class in the middle of nowhere on an idyllic farm in Ashfield, MA. I love artist modeling, and most of my best (and probably most ridiculous) ideas come to me while I am sitting very still in the nuddypants, being busily turned into art by very nice people who think I am a very good model except for all that pesky breathing stuff. (To be fair, they only voice the occasional wistful desire for me to cease being alive long enough for them to get the shadows on my ribcage right.) I thought up some swell themes for my final posts: Exhilarated and exultant for X (no, I don't consider it cheating - wouldn't you rather read a post about something I actually think about from time to time as opposed to some obvious and laborious excuse for an entry like Xanthippe or Xylophone? - although it should be noted here that my family does own a very fine xylophone, a large one, in a traveling case with stand, no less); yearning for Y; and zest for Z.

But to be totally honest, they're just variations on a theme. You want me to talk about zest? (No, I realize you didn't say you did. It's a rhetorical whatsit.) Okay, this thing here I said about vividness, it's basically about zest. Let me sum up my zest post for you: zest is a way of experiencing the world as being vivid and awesomely full of gifts. It's cool and stuff and it makes you excited and adventurous. Great, that's done. How 'bout yearning? BAM, this post is totally about yearning. Exultance? I pretty much got you right here. (Also, why is "exultance" not a word? One can be exultant; what one feels when one is exultant should be exultance. "Exultation" is a word, but it seems wrong to me, like a thing and not a state of being. I feel exactly the same way about the word evocative, although it is passive instead of active, which just makes things worse - one can find a thing evocative, a thing can evoke something in us, but what we feel when something is evoked in us is not evocation - a clunker of a word, without any hint of an essence contained in it - it ought to be evocativeness, or something. Also, eher I am tempted to make a slanderous remark about the idiotic use of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past and his stupid madeleine-induced memory as an example of an evocative experience. I always found it entirely too ham-handed and convenient a recollection to fit what I understand the word evocation to mean. The origin lies in the sense of calling up or calling forth, as in spirits or demons, and I have always thought it is an entirely more delicate and evanescent process than Marcel's "ah, dissolving cookie! Hmm, what's this I recall? Of course, tea with aunt Leonie on Sunday mornings!" But I digress.)
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