:::this is the way the world ends:::

Month: June 2007

Sucking It Up: Harry Potter

I thought I should mention here that, at last, I have sucked it up and read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I’m glad I did, if for no other reason than to enter into the conversation about the series, both with those on this site and with the larger culture of which the series is a part.

I do have to say that the book didn’t provide me with a significantly better experience than the movie version, which I recalled seeing with many of you in Saint Louis during a Thanksgiving weekend. But I did appreciate the book, its humor, its adventure, and even some of its broader thoughts on death and sacrifice and friendship–which was more deeply felt in the book, certainly, than the movie. It is a book and style almost entirely at the level of plot, however, and I know some of you have seemed to suggest that there are additional layers in later books. I hope that is the case–which is to say that I am planning on moving on to book two of the series.

With all the fervor earlier on this site about Harry Potter, I hope some of you can see that my finally picking up the books is a conciliatory kind of act. I truly respect everyone’s taste and critical thought about art and literature, and with almost all of you involved in the Harry Potter books, it was time I gave it a try.


Good afternoon everyone in Hollow Land…I’m back this week with some music selections I have enjoyed in the time away and, in turn, thought you might like.

I apologize about the lack of posts lately, time seems to be more chaotic of late.  I struggle with the right balance of life, leisure, and discipline.  Honestly, I’ve had time to respond on these electronic pages of mirth but have chosen to do other things instead.  Lately, I’ve just been feeling in the mood to get back to the blog so hopefully I’ll keep up the desire to add to our great and ongoing conversation.

On to the music!  Hope the absence hasn’t let anybody down!

Surprisingly, I’ve been listening to the latest Rush album and really have enjoyed it.  


Rush | Snakes & Arrows

01 The Larger Bowl
02 The Main Monkey Business
03 The Way the Wind Blows
04 Hope

Been listening to this artist for a while, I wonder how many of you out there know of him.  I’m fond of his recent efforts.  His early records (and Bowl of Fire) are more Squirrel Nut Zippers than Arcade Fire.


Andrew Bird | & The Mysterious Production of Eggs

05 (untitled)
06 Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left
07 Fake Palindromes
08 The Naming of Things


Andrew Bird | Armchair Apocrypha

09 Fiery Crash
10 Plasticities
11 Scythian Empires
12 Dark Matter



I declare this the king of Goldberg machines:  http://baynhamtyers.com/contraptionII.html

Cocaine + Corn=

Our childhood dreams are a reality: http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/transportation/4217989.html

The little red spot: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/technology/technology.html?in_article_id=452130&in_page_id=1965

J.E.’s next clock: http://technabob.com/blog/2007/06/18/modern-flip-clock-updates-an-old-standard/

The new Transformers movie is already obsolete: http://slog.thestranger.com/2007/06/more_than_meets_the_eye

Nature already had it figured out: http://www.sycamorefan.com/fan/feature/features.html

Mountains Beyond Mountains

I just finished a book called Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. It was one of the best books I have read, mostly because of its amazing subject, Dr. Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health.

Sometimes I feel that comments and recommendations on what I’ve read are of little consequence, but I have to say that the book and the life it is a testament to are some of the most challenging affronts I have faced recently. I am tempted to quote some passages that I feel might be challenging, but I resist that urge due to how I feel quotes have been misinterpretted in the past, which I supposed is an inevitable problem with taking something out of context.

I imagine some of you have heard of Paul Farmer, but for those of you who have not, he is a leading expert of infectious diseases (particularly AIDS, TB, and Malaria), has written extensively on the relation of epidemics and pandemics to social and economical conditions in countries with extreme poverty. He has started and still maintains a clinic in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The book is inspiring and flabbergasting at the same time.

I also read the Language of God, by Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project. I am still awaitng an ordering mess-up with the Moral Animal; so I think I am moving on to The Brief History of the Dead.

Hot Damn We’re Moving to Austin!

Liz and I closed on our new house over the noon hour today. We’re pretty pleased to be 15 minutes from work in living in Austin again. We’ll be moving in in a couple of weeks.

Now if we can just sell our house in Elgin….

Here is a photo of the front.


That’s right — I can skip stones in my back yard.


If you are looking for ways to waste more time…

I would recommend two things: Youtube: “Angry Kid”. Look for the clips with the wierd red-headed youth. And secondly, go to CBS.com and look at the Creature Comforts full episodes (20 minutes, approximately). Not quite as good as the British version, but nevertheless an interesting social commentary. There is a funny little bit about art in the last third. Enjoy.

For What It’s Worth

I finished Nonviolent Communication by Rosenburg about a week ago, and I just finished yesterday, Out Stealing Horses. I’ll be happy to talk with you guys about it at the lake house. There was some mess up with the Amazon vendor I ordered The Moral Animal from, but it’s now on its way. I doubt I will have it read by the time we go to the lake house, however.

Here We Go to the Lake: June 15-17

Our gathering at the lake is nearly upon us, and as promised, I am checking in ahead of time–hopefully to incite excitement and to offer some vital information.

I have confirmation from the Beckers and Gannons for attending. From some of J.E.’s recent postings, I assume the Johns(t)ons are unable to join us–understandably, but please know we still hold on to hope and would like you very much with us. We’ll be thinking of you, regardless. I haven’t heard from the Peters, but hope that means there might be the possibility of you both coming up. If all of you could confirm your attendance or declare your intended absence, that would be helpful. So I hope to hear from each of you on this post.

Now, for those planning to come…

Jen and I will plan to be down at the lake on Friday, June 15, probably by 10 am.
feel free to arrive whenever works for you. We are also able to be at the lake starting Thursday evening, if that works better for people.

Directions: The lake is Lake Francis, near the town of Elysian, midway between Faribault and Mankato, Minnesota. Off of Interstate 35, take Highway 60 west (the Faribault/Waterville exit, Exit 56) about twenty miles into Elysian. Go through the small town, staying on Highway 60, then take a right after the second sign indicating Camping, onto the dirt road marked 516. You will curve around and then take a right onto Woodduck, a sharp right that goes down a small hill. Aspengren lake home is the first house, directly at the bottom of the hill. It’s a large, cream-colored house, with an old red car parked in the driveway. Park in the driveway, and come on in! Phone number at the lake house: 507-267-4043

What to Bring: Swimsuit and towel, sun screen, sunglasses, etc. Bring any games, music, DVDs, etc. you want. There are lots of fun things for kids there, but bring what you need.

Division of Labor: Jen and I will handle the Friday evening dinner and brunch on Sunday, and we’ll bring some snacks for Saturday. Gannons, can you handle brunch on Saturday, and Beckers, can you handle Saturday dinner? There is a full kitchen with everything you would likely need, and there’s a grill. So just bring the food you need for the meal, and any additional snacks or specific preferences you want. If anyone wants to bring special drinks (wine, beer, pop, juice, etc.) please do so.

What to expect: There are four bedrooms in the house, so everyone will have a bed and space. There are two bathrooms, one upstairs and one down. Gannons, there is a bed for Eliot, and a crib for Claire. There is a washer and dryer, if you need laundry. There’s a nice yard, with a beach and some sand, a dock with a boat and jet ski. There’s a fire pit for the evening, but it does start to get buggy around this time, so bring appropriate bug spray or lotion. The little town of Elysian has an ice cream shop, gas stations, a bakery, some little restaurants/bars, and there are thirty miles of paved walking/running/biking trails right near the house. So feel free to bring your bikes, if you like.

I think this will be a great time. I’ll call to check in with each of you, and will be checking in here as well. Looking forward!

YouTube Friday — Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips

Shotts once said that the Flaming Lips, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” was a “life saver.”

If you are not a Flaming Lips fan I hope that after you watch the first video of “Do You Realize” that you will become one and then watch Wanyne’s commencement address (parts one and two) at Classen High in Oklahoma City, his home town where he and his family still live.

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