I Pay Rapt Attention

Slam, Savage Detectives, and Soy Sauce

Posted in Eccentricities by Zoelle on August 7, 2008


I’ve spent the past year or so trying to weasel my way into the poetry slam* community of the bay area. Basically every Wednesday these last two summers I’ve appeared at the Starry Plough at 5:30 or so and stayed until midnight. The intervening time is filled with schmoozing, gossip, poetry and some very drunk writers. Now that I’ve come to terms with the fact that my being an actor and a poet separately does not automatically make me a natural performance poet, I’ve been living the life of the trusted regular in the audience. I sit at tables populated by poets, provide editting and advice, and joke with Shahin, my favorite bartender in the history of ever. I even know the local afternoon drunks by name (in fact, I’m writing a screenplay with one of them. Theoretically.)

Yet last night I decided to stay home. Last night’s exploits wore me out and so I curled up with the final episode of So You Think You Can Dance. From what I’ve heard, I didn’t miss a whole lot. But of course none of that is particularly interesting, except that I wasn’t surprised- the best poets of the bay are at the National Poetry Slam championships in Madison, WI!

From what I’ve heard, they’re kicking ass. Slam championships are essentially a weird cross between hypercompetitive summer camp for poets and a really nerdy orgy. They last for nearly a week, and feature both traditional bouts with 4 teams each, and some extra fun events on the side (like the Erotic slam, and head-to-head sudden death haiku.) It’s a writers greatest dream realized; needless to say, I’m disappointed not to be there.

*If you don’t know what a poetry slam is, don’t fret- you’re a normal human being. Congratulations. To learn more about the rules (this ain’t no open mic, honey, this is a BATTLE) click here or here.


Savage Detectives

In my previously mentioned top 101 books I must must read list, the very first is The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolaño. I first heard about the book when it showed up in the SF Chronicle’s best books of 2007. Considering how the reviewers at the Chronicle hate EVERYTHING, I knew I had to check this book out.

Now that I’m finally reading it, I haven’t been disappointed for a second. Admittedly, it’s pretty slow going (which is rare for me), but it’s slow going in the way that The War of the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa (one of my favorite books) was slow going. I can’t race through each page, because I’m too busy savoring each sentence. I’m not the most patient reader, either, so the fact that this book has kept me coming back every day for as long as it has is a testament to its craft.

I’m not done yet, but I’ll write a proper review when I am. Regardless, it’s good stuff (at least through page 242.) I can’t believe it wasn’t translated into English until 2007- makes me wonder why I haven’t been searching out these books in their original language years ago (after all, I’m proficient-ish in Spanish, so I can’t use the wait for translation as an excuse…) Sigh.

Soy Sauce

On a completely different note, my family has gone through a radical transformation this last week and a half or so. It all began when I discovered food bloggers. Whereas at the beginning of the summer I procrastinated at work by wikipedia-ing random things and hitting refresh on my email, I’m now consumed (har har har) by Epicurious and Food Blogga. My waistline will never be the same.

So far, we’ve made Avocado and Radish Green Mini Quiches, Breakfast Quinoa, Indian Curried Eggplant, and Asparagus and baby Artichoke Risotto.

I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Last night was Thai Peanut Sauce Tofu and String Beans with a side of fried plantain and coconut pineapple ice cream for dessert. I have not eaten this well since I was like… 12.

If you’re bored with your cuisine (or just your day), check them out. Your taste buds will thank you.

PS: If you’d like the recipes for any of the above-mentioned recipes, just let me know and I’ll send them on over. The risotto is particularly amazing.


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