some birds are funny when they talk








Stuck in my Head
"Kiss Me Harder" by Bertine Zetlitz
"Hot" by Avril
"Brain Problem Situation" by They Might Be Giants

Now Reading
Number 9 Dream by David Mitchell
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

Recently Finished
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Mad Tony and Me by Carl Hoffman
Sweet Soul Music by Peter Guaralnick
This Must Be The Place: Adventures of Talking Heads in the 20th Century by David Bowman
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Movies Lately
4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days
Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts
Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour
2 Days in Paris
United 93
The Savages
The Bourne Ultimatum
Sweeney Todd
The Departed
What Would Jesus Buy?
Ghost World
I'm Not There
She's The Man
Lars and the Real Girl
Romance and Cigarettes
No Country for Old Men
Into the Wild
I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
Across the Universe

Shows Lately
Damo Suzuki/Stinking Lizaveta @ Mill Creek
Death and the Maiden @ Curio
Devon Sproule/Carsie Blanton/Devin Greenwood/John Francis @ Tin Angel
Assassins @ The Arden
Oakley Hall and the Teeth @ Johnny Brendas
Isabella and Flamingo/Winnebago and Map Me and Gatz and Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven and Sonic Dances and Strawberry Farm and The Emperor Jones and No Dice and Hearts of Man and Principles of Uncertainty and Isabella and BATCH and Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre's 20th Century and Car and Sports Trilogy and Explanatorium and Wandering Alice and Must Don't Whip Um and Festival of Lies and A Room of Ones Own and Recitatif @ the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe
Martha Graham Cracker and Eliot Levin and Kilo etc. @ the Fringe Cabaret
Lullatone and Teletextile @ Boulder Coffee [Rochester]
TV Sound @ the M Room
Aretha Franklin @ East Dell, Fairmount Pk.
Romeo + Juliet in Clark Park
Daft Punk @ Red Rocks
Spoon @ Rockefeller Park
Ponytail at Pony Pants' House
Mirah/Benjy Ferree @ the 1UC
Tortoise @ World Cafe Live
Hall & Oates...ish
"Nuclear Dreams" - Mascher Dance Group, x2
The Four of Us @ 1812
Machines Machines Machines Machines Machines Machines Machines by Rainpan whatever
Mascher Dance Group/Nathaniel Bartlett
Cornelius @ TLA
Sloan @ World Cafe
In Fluxxxx
Slavic Soul Party!/Red Heart the Ticker @ I-House
the Fantasticks @ Mum
Peter Bjork + Jorn/Fujiya + Miyagi @ fkaTLA
John Vanderslice @ Johnny Brendas
The Books & Todd Reynolds @ 1UC
Into the Woods @ LPAC
The Fishbowl @ the Frear
Caroline, or, Change @ the Arden
Low & Loney, Dear. @ 1UC

Tuesday, July 20

[from e-mail to my old hiking buddies]

as at least some of you know, i was backpacking recently in our old stomping grounds in the high peaks. it was a really fun trip (aren't they all?) and brought back lots of memories of you guys. although actually it was all new trails and peaks for me. and it ended up being somewhat shorter than originally planned.

we (= me, my college friend ben, my cousin bobby, and his girlfriend jeannine) started at elk lake, which is off 28N in the southernmost part of the high peaks, and hiked in something like 5.7 miles the first day (not counting a not-unappreciable distance on the wrong trail at first, because we left from the trailhead at the parking lot rather than across the street from the parking lot, as clearly indicated in the guidebook…) to share a site with some boys from a local camp.

the second day was quite a bit more trying - we followed a ridge (including two peaks, colvin and blake, although the best views were from the lower, and hence misnamed, pinnacle) that was only about seven miles but ended up being a lot of seemingly interminable up-and-down, and much more devilishly steep than i had anticipated. that, combined with some blister problems, slowed us down a good deal, and together with the fact that we'd gotten a fairly late start, meant that we were still around .5 from our goal campsite when we decided to give up and camp by the side of the trail in the face of some intense rain (which, thankfully, didn't start until we were on our last, albeit fairly treacherous - it's kind of amazing what passes for trails there - descent) and impending darkness. worse, we were almost out of water because there had been none on the ridge (the book said there would be some brooks, but they were basically dried up at that point in the summer.) i went off to find the stream that was pretty nearby on the map, but there was no good way of getting down to it, so i ended up just collecting water from the puddles that were forming on the trail. and the trusty filter-pump had broken that day. but fortunately we had potable-aqua iodine tablets. so the water was drinkable, despite was brown and full of floaters - many of which we were able to get rid of by filtering the water through bobby's t-shirt (as he proudly reminded us, the same shirt he'd been sweating in all day. but whatever.) lemonade mix helped too. the rain let up for just long enough for me to prepare my famous peanut noodle sauce, which we ate, circumspectly, in the tent (we only set up one of our two, using the other one's fly as a groundcloth), when it started pouring again.

i suppose you could say that was a pretty miserable night, and i appreciate the relatively small amount of complaining that went on compared to what it could have been (especially since two of our number were basically backpacking neophytes) but it really didn't bother me at all. i don't know, i think that's part of what i perversely love about being in the backcountry; subjecting myself to substantially physically stressful and uncomfortable situations and relishing the fact that i'm still fundamentally 'okay' in spite of it all. as well as the ridiculousness of some of it. and, most of all, that my mental processes and occupations when i'm out there are so far removed from everything else in my life (which, by the way, are pretty much all up in the air right now.)

and, of course, the beautifulness. which was even better the next day. it started out a bit grey and bleak, and there was briefly some talk of taking the 4+ mile hike out to the parking lot where we'd shuttled a second car, which was what bobby and jeannine were doing so that he could drive her to her flight out of albany and then come back and rejoin us, but ben and i went with the original plan instead, which was a magnificent nine mile hike including two peaks (nippletop and dial - which brings my total up to 22, almost halfway; we met some kids on top of nippletop who were serious peakbaggers - one of them, who was probably twelve years old, said he already had 37. by the way, we hadn't seen a single other person the previous day.), some lovely ponds at elk pass, and gorgeous views of the great range and ausable valley from the exposed shoulder of noonmark mountain, in an area which suffered some severe fire damage five years ago and is now full to bursting with green saplings, and the weather improved throughout the day. at the end of it we had to walk out through the ritzy ausable club, which was kind of surreal, being dirty and sweaty and walking past the manicured golf course and beautiful adirondack-style country club architecture.

there we met up with bobby, who was feeling very sick, apparently food-poisoned by a bad can of oysters he'd just eaten. because of that and our tired feet, we scrapped the original plan of continuing on to a new campsite for another two-and-a-half days of hiking (i was still in favor of doing that, it didn't make a lot of sense at that point.) instead we returned to my grandmother's cottage on saranac and spent a few lazy days recovering, playing a lot of bridge, going to see spiderman (disappointing) in placid, swimming and boating, and only made it out again a few days later, for a short hike up mount goodnow near newcomb, which has pretty nice views from a fire tower.

a few days later, we went for a canoe trip on raquette, with my parents and an uncle, which was in dramatic contrast to our intense few days of backpacking. for some reason, we only did about seven miles, or hardly more than three hours, of paddling each day. we read a lot, played cards, made fires, jumped off rope swings, dawdled until eleven or so and got into camp at three or four (the second night in a big state-maintained site with lawns and stone fireplaces.) it was kind of preposterously luxurious. so, still really fun, but in a different way…