couch confessional

my wife and i get a new couch every 6 months or so. we get them off the curb, especially if we know the people who curbed them. it’s good that they’re free, because we get tired of our couches pretty quickly. the only couch we ever loved was the first one we ever purchased, and it just wouldn’t fit through the door of our house, no matter how hard we tried. we donated it to our church and it’s done just fine there for the past 4 years. so after that, we’ve had at best a casual relationship with our couches. when we see one that catches our eye, in the wild, we just haul it home and part with the old one.

it doesn’t make for a terribly well arranged living room, though — we often have to deal with irregularities in size / shape / color vs. our existing furniture.

so, then, the point is: we recently inherited a curbed overstuffed chair [okay, not a couch, but the principle is the same], which sits opposite our current couch, and it has done the magical, impossible task of tying our entire living room together and making it into a really nice, tidy space! and its colors coordinate. i never thought i’d manage a coherent interior design (mostly because I never try), but here it is, and by accident at that.

thank you, lord, for all your gifts.

4×4 meme

tagged by paul. here we go.

4 jobs i’ve had

» weeder. my sister and i would weed the landscaping at the corporate property of someone who went to our church, growing up. i don’t remember his name, or what he did, but i do remember the shrubbery surrounding the sizeable acreage fronting his place of business. and my raw, smarting palms. i don’t remember the money very well.

» midnight janitor. to pay for my lifestyle at college, i moonlighted as a janitor in a 16-screen cineplex, 11pm to 6am. we’d have all night soda binges. we had the keys to the arcade machines: we’d play pole position and mortal combat for hours. i put pavement’s wowee zowee on the cineplex sound system and confused my coworkers. we had contests: how many pushups can you do, how many peppermint discs can you fit in your mouth at once, how fast can you blow all the popcorn from the back of a theater to the apron just in front of the screen with an electric leafblower (that’s how we did it, cleaning your theater, you pigs). one night my friend and coworker was leaf-blowing popcorn through the rows and up flew $1,200 in $100 bills. i like to think he plucked them out of the air but more likely he got down on his hands and knees. some drug dealer found out he had a serious issue on his hands that night after he got home from the movies, i bet. all i ever found were a handfull of razorblades after coppola’s dracula.

» scarecrow. in a touring production of the wizard of oz. not the movie songs. i got paid.

» librarian. i’ve been an instruction librarian, a reference librarian, a web librarian. i help you find out what you want to know. what do you want to know?

4 tv shows i’m watching

» lost
» arrested development
» that’s it. lost and arrested development. oh, and each night we watch a 10 minute clip from peep and the big wide world with the kids.

4 places i’ve been

» st. lucia, west indies. for the honeymoon.
» durango, colorado. my dad lived there, on a mountain.
» white mountains, new hampshire. my dad (not the same dad) grew up there. beautiful.
» houghton, michigan. the upperest of the upper peninsula.

4 musical artists i’m listening to right now

» son lux
» bon iver
» the breeders
» half-handed cloud

and, in due kind, i tag karen and michael.

four years is a long time

this is the first update i’ve done to the site’s design in four years. hopefully everything will still work as expected — please let me know if something unexpected happens.

if you read this with any regularity, and this looks worse-not-better than you remember, refresh your browser.

it’s one post at a time from now on. you can look down below at recent history to see if you missed anything, if you’re into that. i recommend four hairy months if you haven’t been around for a few days.

lost sox

Way back when, I played the bassoon (yes, that), which took me to the UofM All-State 2-week camp at Interlochen for a few glorious years. A few of my camp counselors were devotees of a local Ann Arbor singer-songwriter named Frank Allison who had a band called the Odd Sox, and they’d (the counselors’d) play his kooky songs on their guitars.

Frank and the Odd Sox had a great album, Hokey Smoke, which unfortunately is out of print, and I still love it — sort of dirty bar rock and homemade folk-pop with this sweet side, melodic and fun with character-based story songs, you could really see how this guy would have a cult following. My camp counselors would take weekend trips all the way back downstate to see Frank together (and drink, I’m guessing).

I picked up a couple of his albums (you can too, try cdbaby) when I was old enough to have discretionary income and I’m glad I have them. Frank, unfortunately, lost his voice (“to spasmodic dysphonia”) and dropped out of the game completely for most of a decade.

Anyway, that’s why I’m writing — Frank’s back, with a great weblog chronicling his doings (, and a new CD on the cusp called Log Rhythms of Love, which is mellower than old Frank (a decade off to start a family might do that) but still really, really good and exciting. The entire album is currently online at his site, on the right, so you can see what I mean.

Frank Allison – Great Apes
Frank Allison – Tuts of Rootin’ Tootin’ Commons
Frank Allison – Log Rhythms of Love

quantitative assessment

when i started at westland in march 2004, i took a fiction reading assessment from the adult reading roundtable. it lists representative authors in 18 categories (westerns, mystery, literary fiction, multicultural, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, etc.) and asks that you check whether you’ve read, read about, heard of, or never heard of the author. i was okay in some areas (gen x, u.s. literary fiction, horror, thrillers) and really weak in others (westerns, multicultural fiction, fantasy). i’d read 40 of the assessment’s 404 authors (10%), and never heard of 187 of them (46%).

i’ve retaken the assessement, and after three years of 52 books in 52 weeks, i think i’ve made some progress. i’ve still only read 48 of the 404 authors, but my “never heard of” tally is down 44% to 104 (just 25% of the total), and both my “heard of” and “read about” tallies are up, too. my greatest leap forward was in u.s./world literary fiction, where i read five more of the listed authors than previously. of course, in the past three years i’ve read lots and lots of authors i’d never read before (three years ago, i was acquainted with only three of the 20 authors i’ve read so far this season) — they just don’t all appear on arrt’s list. but there’s an update of the assessment planned for fall 2007… maybe i’ll try again in a couple of years.