Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Visit from the Goon Squad

I just finished A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. The novel, which might more aptly be described as collection of short stories, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.
In many ways, it reminds me of The Imperfectionists: It follows a short story structure featuring interrelated characters; it highlights characters working within a single industry (newspapers and rock music, respectively); and, like The Imperfectionists, it came to my notice due to its high critical acclaim. Alas, like The Imperfectionists, I did not find myself just loving AVFTGS.
I wanted to! It’s very well written. The writer had some interesting ­­­insights into aging and relationships, and I found her projection of technology intriguing and not at all unlikely. There were even several characters I really enjoyed. But my overarching problem with the book (and what got me down about it) was the general tone of relentless and grinding erosion. As Egan says in this The Daily Beast article:
“And then I found myself writing ‘Time is a goon,’ and realized that of course that’s true—time is the stealth goon, the one you ignore because you are so busy worrying about the goons right in front of you.”
In the book, each character is dealing as best they can with the problems at hand, when all the while they are growing older, and before they know it, they are faced with a different array of problems: aging in a youth-based industry and culture, realizing the dreams they had are unfulfilled and are likely to stay that way, watching their values change until the person they were wouldn’t recognize the person they’ve become. *SIGH*
It’s a neat book, but not one I look forward to rereading any time soon.
Two days after her Pulitzer win, it was announced Egan had closed a deal with HBO to adapt the book into a television series. And I can see that. I deal with soul-crushing drama much better in weekly installments at 9 p.m. on Sunday nights.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

WOOEEOOO: I Sound Just Like Buddy Holly

So my friend Zach alerted me to a recent NPR First Listen installment featuring Rave On Buddy Holly, an album of Buddy Holly covers. AMAZING! I think my favorite is “Crying, Waiting, Hoping”, covered by  Karen Elson, who seems like a pretty neat lady in her own right. I posted the non-cover version below:

ALSO: The Truth is in the Dirt on the Ground by Karen Elson is pretty awesome.

p.s. Does anyone else think it’s hilarious that NPR is sponsored by PBR?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I’ve Got Questions; You’ve Got Answers

Yes, it’s that time again! Time to play let’s ask the audience because Elisabeth has no idea what she’s doing!
So, I went to a friend’s wedding this past weekend, and let’s just say it was beautiful. I mean, seriously, it was a really nice wedding and may be one of the nicest weddings I have ever attended. And not that my wedding will be as swanky-swank as this one (true life: it won’t), but it did put me back in the wedding mindset, which I have blissfully been attempting to ignore for the past few weeks.
Because of this, two questions have arisen:
1.       Where should we go on our honeymoon??? Seriously, I don’t even know, and since I am rarely put in the position of pondering where in the world I’d like to travel, I’m finding it kind of difficult to decide where to go. I keep checking out travel books from library, but the only conclusion I’ve come to is that I’d like to go to all the places. Maybe there’s time to trade JP in for a billionaire?? Seriously, any advice in this would be helpful.

2.       What is the deal with favors??? It seems like all the cutey-cute weddings I keep looking at online have them, but I’m sorry, gang, I just do not have the time to fill hundreds of tiny jars with my top-secret jam recipe (FACT: I do not have a top-secret jam recipe), nor do I have the time to cover their tiny lids with squares of burlap and affix said burlap with ribbon. While that sounds like a lot of fun (NOPE), it seems like a lot of work for something that people may or may not care about (e.g., I slave through my pre-wedding week covering hundreds of jam jar lids with hundreds of tiny burlap squares only to have people say: “Oh, strawberry jam? No thanks. I only eat raspberry.” What is your take on favors: totally worth it or total waste of time?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Let’s Pretend Like This is Real Life

Today is the last day of our SCUBA course that takes place in a pool. Don’t worry! We still have a few more instructor-guided dives in the water, but they are in an actual body of water, not the neighborhood Y where the swim team is practicing just a few lanes over and blasting Lady Gaga over the loudspeaker (I’ve got no beef with Gaga, but I am excited to see some fish).
I’m not going to lie, though. I’m not super good at this whole SCUBA thing. I’m actually relatively concerned that I might drown. You see, it’s just not intuitive for me to breathe only through my mouth like it is for some other people. ALSO, sometimes when I get stressed out (e.g., at the bottom of a pool strapped to a significant amount of weight) I forget to breathe at all, which apparently can lead to pulmonary tears. Yikes.
So this morning JP looks at me all serious and is like: “Elisabeth, since this is our last day in the pool, I need you to take this seriously.”
“Um, okay.”
“Because this is the last time [our instructor] Connie will be with us.”
“Yeah, I got it.”
“And I know she’s really nice, but in the real world, it’s not going to be like that, so when you go to the pool tonight, let’s pretend like this is real life, okay?”
And then I punched him in the nose. OMG. Like I’ve been goofing around this entire time because I think I’m so funny or something! I think the more likely explanation is that I’m just a spaz who’s just not good at SCUBA diving. Pretend like this is real life…ridiculous!

Monday, June 6, 2011

So Many Things...

So many things keep happening! I don’t know about you, but I went from having one planned social activity per week to what seems like one every night! I am running out of time AND money, and summer has just started.
Admittedly, having too many activities on your social calendar is a real white girl problem (fun girl problem?), but as someone who has moderate anxiety pretty much at all times, having too many things to do takes my personality from quirky to neurotic pretty darn quick. I need to relax!
On that sunny note, here’s a list of—
1.       Getting SCUBA certified. JP and I are taking classes so we can SCUBA dive while honeymooning. I am pumped! I hadn’t really thought much about getting certified, but when couple friends of ours said they were getting privately certified by an acquaintance, it seemed a good time to jump on board (ship pun intended?). I’m going to get my mask today, which my certification book emphasizes can be both functional AND fashionable…I think I’m fine as long as it’s functional.

Me. In the future.

2.       Seeing Avenue Q at The Horizon Theatre Company. Avenue Q is a really funny musical (I mentioned it the other day in connection with The Book of Mormon) that I saw both when I lived in New York for a summer and when the tour came to Atlanta last year. Horizon is one of the first groups in the country that has been allowed to put up a local production, and they seriously did a great job. The local talent was awesome, and it was neat to see it in such an intimate space. If you live in Atlanta, you should definitely check it out!
3.       Picnicking in Freedom Park. Some lady friends and I set out on a birthday-related picnic adventure over Memorial Day weekend. Initially we headed to Piedmont Park, but we soon realized (from the traffic and promotional banners) that the Atlanta Jazz Festival was being held that very weekend, thus our dreams of ever finding a parking space were dashed. I had remembered passing another park en route, however, so we turned around and headed back the way we had come. With plenty of parking and plenty of green space, our picnic was saved!  And your's could be too??? Just check out the ladder sculpture.
Is anyone else doing SO MANY THINGS?

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Sounds of Summer

For this week’s post, I decided to come up with a list of songs that reminded me of summer, as summer is definitely in full swing here in Atlanta. As I was compiling the list, however, my choices definitely started to give me pause. I mean, I associate summer with month-long holidays and days spent entirely outdoors, and that makes sense. I experienced summer that way for the first 20-some-odd years of my life. I definitely found it weird, though, that the songs which reminded me specifically of summer were all released between 1965 and 1971.
Dear self: You did not grow up in the mid-60s/early 70s. Don’t be weird.
Although, perhaps it makes a (shaky) case for reincarnation?
  • “In the Summertime,” Mungo Jerry
  • “Paint It Black,” The Rolling Stones
  • “I Want You Back,” The Jackson Five and “Knock Three Times” by Tony Orlando and Dawn
Probably because of this:
This trailer makes this look awful, but it’s great, I swear!
  • “Sister Golden Hair” by America
  • Anything by The Beach Boys. I may have never spent my summer on a California beach,    but anything from Pet Sounds makes me feel like I’m in a movie starring Annette Funicello.
 Annette accompanies The Beach Boys in the theme for The Monkey’s Uncle
Do these songs remind anyone else of summertime, or is it just me? Also, what songs say summer to you?