strange fire

books. poetry. paganism. feminism. queerness. blog.

happy thoughts August 31, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 12:46 pm

I read in Utne magazine that there are more public libraries in the United States than McDonald’s restaurants. ‘Course it’s in the middle of an article bemoaning the fate of the library as we know it, but still. It cheered me up.


subtle sister August 28, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 8:42 pm

A friend made me a mix-tape a few weeks ago, a friend I only know through the internet. I think the mix-tape, and its descendant, the mix CD, is one of the greatest developments ever. It’s a musical form of the zine; totally punk in spirit, a home-made anthology of a person’s character, an underground distribution of indie music and culture, stuff you might never hear on the radio or see on tv. Borrow a CD from the library, download an MP3 off the internet, burn it, stick it in the mail, you’ve got a grassroots culture thriving. My friend put all sorts of cool crap I’d never been able to hear, Bitch and Animal, Dressy Bessy, April March, Gina Young, Laura Nyro. And four tracks of Alix Olsen, hell-raising dyke and folk poet extraordinaire. I’ve been quietly going out of my mind over her ever since.

that night i learned
that skin is where this revolution gonna begin,
touching one woman at a time, showing there’s no crime
in feeling this good
God would be a dyke if She could find someone to hold her
–“Cute for a Girl”

She’s a slam-poet-spoken-word-artist-activist; and slam poetry is so exciting because it’s all about performance, interaction, in a way that traditional poetry isn’t. It blurs the distinctions between literature, acting, hip-hop, folk music, politics and protest songs. If Walt Whitman and Woody Guthrie had been born later they’d be slam poets.

i believe misogyny and patriarchy are closet homo lovers
and they screw over their sisters cause they’re scared to screw each other.

She’s confrontational and in-your-face, adamantly political and erotic at once.

i believe you should learn more than one language
you should learn to talk in tongues and lips
i believe in nipples and skin and toes and hips.
i believe in noise from teeth and throats
and cunts
the noise of poetry, music, laughter, after screaming cunnilingus.
i believe women are sexy
without makeup or clothes
i believe women are sexy
when they’re reciting prose
–“i believe”

Some of her stuff is pure politics (“America’s On Sale”), some of it mixes critique of national policy with confessional lyrics, some of it is political by being entirely personal. “Cunt Cuntry” is just magnificent. “Checking My Pulse” is every crush, date, and relationship I’ve ever had:

and I’m sorry if you’re thinking that I knew
what I was doing
I guess what I do best is look like I am in control
but tonight, tonight, I am a soft and untamed thing
and I will wrap my breath around you til your exhale comes clean.
I am checking my pulse
I am checking my pulse.

you are the buried penny at the bottom of the pool
so I guess that makes me the fool diving deep for you
I’ll stick you in my pocket
all shiny, all precious, and all not mine

Somehow she manages to avoid coming off as didactic or preachy. It’s her humor and her word-play, because while the radical politics are great, it’s not worth shit if your words can’t handle the weight of it. Sometimes there’s nothing worse than Bad Feminist Poetry.

So, in the “F” or “M” boxes they give,
I forgive myself for not fitting in
And blame the world for lack of clarity.
I deliberate.
Penis? I got one y’know. I write down “d” for dildo,
I write down “D” for “Don’t know,”
I fill in “F” for
fi-fie-foe male!
Yes, I’m a giant Vagina!
–“Gender Game”

She’s got an ode to armpit hair that’s fucking hilarious.

See, sometimes anger’s subtle, stocked in metaphor
full of finesse and dressed in allure
yes, sometimes anger’s subtle, less rage than sad
leaking slow through spigots you didn’t know you had.
and sometimes it’s just

fuck you.
fuck you.
you see, and to me,

That’s poetry too.
–“Subtle Sister”

Okay. I admit it. There really isn’t any substance to this post other than to post quotes and say “See? Isn’t she great? She’s so fucking amazing! I would so totally make out with her!”

well, I don’t desire your superstar badge of bravery
for enduring modern-day slavery
in your maniacally economically-driven death trap.
anyway, I’d give the U.S a bad rap,
I’d kiss every fine iraqi dyke on the front line,
fuck national pride,
I’d go to their side–
i prefer crossnational desire to crossfire anyway
–“Dear Mr. President”

See? Isn’t she great?? Plus, she’s really, really fucking cute too:

Sigh…I would so totally make out with her. To say the least. It’s clear that I will not survive in Europe without her album Built Like That; fortunately I’ve got a friend burning it for me. Go to “Written” on the Gallery page, you’ll find all the lyrics/words/poems on the album.
I am checking my pulse, making sure it hasn’t quit on me yet…


Now this is more like it August 26, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 6:57 am

Went to visit a friend in Nearby Medium-sized College Town for a few days this week. S. is one of the coolest people I know. She came to live with my family as a foreign exchange student when I was 13, and she’s essentially been state-side ever since. I call her my Brazilian Sister.
Anyway, we’re hanging out, and when I’m in Nearby Medium-sized College Town, I have to visit this local shop called the Peace Nook. It’s an organic hippie bookstore collective non-profit thing, so you can pick up your soy milk, yoga pants, the latest Le Tigre album, and a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves all at once. It’s volunteer run and all the profits go to a local progressive pacifist organization. I love it, it’s full of all sorts of cool crap. And it’s where I finally found some decent magazines: I picked up copies of The Beltane Papers, Off Our Backs, and Velvetpark. They all smell like patchouli, swear to god.
Velvetparkthis is the the queer mag I’ve been looking for. There are so many reasons why it rocks out that I don’t know where to start. First, it’s got a kick-ass name. None of that cheesy “Curves” shit. Second, they have the D-Word right on the cover, above a picture of the likes of Rachel Maddow, Janeane Garofalo, and Amy Goodman. They’ve got a photo spread of cute skateboarding bois, an interview with Abwa Dawesar–my god, they’ve even got goddamn fucking Alix Olsen as a contributing writer! (She’ll get her own post full of ardent swooning soon, don’t you worry). In addition to the usual movie and music reviews. I’m not sure how I’m gonna live without it in Europe.
OOB, as it likes to refer to itself, is like an angrier Ms. It’s very second-wave, which is awesome. I think that whole Second/Third Wave distinction is pretty arbitrary anyway. And they’ve got two, count ’em, two articles eulogizing Andrea Dworkin that treat her as actual person with provocative ideas, and not just That Fat Ugly Feminazi Bitch. Plus an article on women bloggers and four pages of Dykes to Watch Out For strips in the back.
The Beltane Papers is pretty similiar to SageWoman–articles, interviews, reviews, herbalism, art and poetry–with an advisory council that’s a veritable Who’s Who of the Goddess Spirituality movement. Plenty of ideas and inspiration to help me become a fantabulous hippie geek.
I just wish it hadn’t taken me all summer to find some decent magazines. Doesn’t that just figure.


in which I suffer another attack of passionate booklust August 22, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 9:12 am

So I was doing a little creative reshelving at my local Soul-less Corporate Bookstore Emporium last night, trying to look casual with my arms full of bookmarked 1984s. I was passing a display table when suddenly, the clouds parted in the heavens, and as a celestial choir sang a beam of light poured down and I fell to my knees in reverence as I beheld a glorious vision:

Emma Donoghue’s new novel Life Mask, on sale in paperback for $14.00.

Now you may think I’m being hyperbolic, but then you just don’t understand. I love Emma Donoghue with a love that is pure and true. I’d totally marry her and have her babies if it wasn’t for the fact that some lucky Canadian woman beat me to it. Hood was a touchstone for me in college; I was so sad to have to say good-bye to it when I graduated. It’s my goal in life to own all of her work. And I’ve been waiting for Life Mask to come out (heh) in paperback for so, so long now, because I can’t afford the hardback and anyway I haven’t got room on my shelves for it. But now, finally, here it is; I picked up Slammerkin while I was at it. Slammerkin was rough, a tragedy like Macbeth in its horror, but irresistable nevertheless. There really is no pleasure like that of finally owning a book you’ve coveted forever. I’ve been casting about for what to read after Beat to Quarters; nothing was really sticking with me. But I don’t want to start Life Mask *just* yet; maybe this afternoon; I want to just enjoy simply having it for a bit, the anticipation of reading it. You wait for a book this long, you want to do it right, not just jump in cold.


84 Charing Cross Road August 21, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 6:43 am

It’s one of my favorite books, and now I’ve finally managed to see the movie last night. I’ve been dying to see how they managed to turn a bunch of bookish letters between a British bookseller and a New York writer into a film.
They did manage it, with Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft no less, it’s got that nice serene Merchant-Ivory feel to it. But it is, essentially, two hours of people sitting in front of typewriters, with voice-overs. If you haven’t read the book (and why haven’t you???), it might not be all that interesting. I liked it though; Anne Bancroft’s Noo Yawk accent is just what I imagined, and Hopkins’s Frank Doel is charmingly unassuming. I don’t know why they wasted Judy Dench as his wife Nora, she has all of three lines, though she does deliver them in a killer Irish brogue that reminds me of the nuns at my old grade school (hi Sister Eileen, Sister Laurentia, I’m glad you’re not reading this thing). Like every good literary adaptation, the fun is watching the words realized on the screen, seeing Hanff constantly bawling out poor Frank (“SLOTH: i could ROT over here before you’d send me anything to read….what do you do with yourself all day, sit in the back of the store and read? why don’t you try selling a book to somebody?”). I loved seeing Helene read Donne aloud, or make the Yorkshire pudding, and Bill Humphries’ 75-year-old great-aunt exclaiming over the meat Helene sends them.
I’m kind of puzzled by the adaptation though. They invent a few things to keep the plot going, understandable, like Helene getting accidently arrested at a student sit-in at Columbia University (I can see that happening to her, and for all I know it really did). But they cut out some of the best lines, which is inexcusable considering the whole thing’s just shy of 100 pages. Where’s the bit where Frank snaps that his last name certainly is not Welsh, he’s a Norman, thankyouverymuch? The part where Ginny and Ed get mobbed by the folks at Charing Cross when they’re discovered to be Helene’s friends? The part where Helene “goes out of her mind” over Pride and Prejudice after going on about how much she hates novels? Or when she decries the edition of Catullus that’s been turned into “Victorian hearts-and-flowers” (“i mean it PASSETH understanding”). Why did they not include the letter of August 15, 1959, which is so good I shall reproduce it in full:

i write to say i have got work.
i won it. i won a $5,000 Grant-in-Aid off CBS, it’s supposed to support me for a year while I write American History dramatizations. I am starting with a script about New York under seven years of British Occupation and i MARVEL at how i rise above it to address you in friendly and forgiving fashion, your behavior over here from 1776 to 1783 was simply FILTHY.
Is there such a thing as a modern-English version of the Canterbury Tales? I have these guilts about never having read Chaucer but I was talkd out of learning Early Anglo-Saxon/Middle English by a friend who had to take it for her Ph.D. They told her to write an essay in Early Anglo-Saxon on any-subject-of-her-own-choosing. “Which is all very well, ” she said bitterly, “but the only essay subject you can find enough Early Anglo-Saxon words for is ‘How to Slaughter a Thousand Men in a Mead Hall.’ “
She also filled me in on Beowulf and his illegitimate son Sidwith–or is it Widsith? she says it’s not worth reading so that killed my interset in the entire subject, just send me a modern Chaucer.

love to nora


Which is a heckuvalot of griping for a movie I honestly enjoyed, but I can’t help feeling a bit like Helene did when she got that bowlderized Pepys Diary (“i could just spit. where is jan. 12, 1668, where his wife chased him out of bed and round the bedroom with a red-hot poker?”).
Ah well. I’ll still buy it on DVD, Someday When I’m Independantly Wealthy. When I grow up I’ll be some version of Helene Hanff and Miss Marple, shuffling around in wool slacks and moth-eaten sweaters, solving murder mysteries as I knit away.
Oh, and it’s Wiglaf who’s probably Beowulf’s bastard son, I’ve read the thing twice and it is too worth reading. Blood and guts and dragons and shit, what’s not to like?


cue maniacal evil scientist laughter August 19, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 11:05 am


1. Select a local bookstore to carry out your reshelving activities.
2. Download and print “This book has been relocated by the Ministry of Reshelving” bookmarks and “All copies of 1984 have been relocated” notecards to take with you to the bookstore. Or make your own. We recommend bringing a notecard and 5-10 bookmarks to each store.
3. Go to the bookstore and locate its copies of George Orwell’s 1984. Unless the Ministry of Reshelving has already visited this bookstore, it is probably currently incorrectly classified as “Fiction” or “Literature.”
4. Discreetly move all copies of 1984 to a more suitable section, such as “Current Events”, “Politics”, “History”, “True Crime”, or “New Non-Fiction.”
5. Insert a Ministry of Reshelving bookmark into each copy of any book you have moved. Leave a notecard in the empty space the books once occupied.
6. If you spot other incorrectly classified books, feel free to relocate them.


I’m literally cackling with glee at the thought of committing acts of random guerrilla book activism at my local Borders. And as I used to be a lowly page during high school, I know the gals at the library will appreciate a little shake-up to the routine…
Via Bitch Ph.D. (note to self: update sidebar dammit)


this is me rolling my eyes at blue staters

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 6:56 am

I do love my home, despite all my bitching, and I so totally want this button–but, um, guys? That’s not Georgia. I think I would have noticed if I lived in Georgia (my cousins in Atlanta will be surprised to find that they’re now Midwesterners). I know us flyover states are pretty indistinguishable to you folks on the coasts, but jeez. And why do you only sell them in packs of 10 and 100?