Saturday, June 28, 2003

Odette and the price of culture

Last night I took Phoebe to the ballet. Pictures are not yet uploaded, because Yahoo! is being a total pain in the butt. **edit: photos (+ monkeys)**

The ballet (Swan Lake) was wonderful. It was yet another new choreography, and as usual the ballet suffered for it, but the set was improved immensely (to the point that it almost overshadowed some of the dancing) and of course the music is fantastic no matter what. I cannot stress enough that the dancing was excellent, but the choreography lacking. The best illustration of this is an observation I made in the first act. A male dancer had a solo, after which the audience applauded. This is absolutely normal, except that the solo required nothing applause-worthy. Female ballet dancers (ballerinas) are known for many, many special moves. Male ballet dancers have exactly three things going for them: A marvelously toned ass, a huge bulge, and the ability to leap spectacularly high. This particular solo consisted of the gentleman in question spinning around about three times. I'm terribly sorry, but any ballerina in the corps de ballet can spin around six times, with her off leg held up higher, en pointe, and smile while doing it. If the male dancers are to impress us, they must jump really high in the air. That is just How It Is.

There is a short piece in Act II for the four cygnets. I seem to remember thinking that the dancers were actually much younger, perhaps ballet students. In my recollection, they ranged in size from left (a tall girl en pointe) to right (a teensy girl in a different tutu and regular ballet slippers). Now, it is entirely possible that I am right about the height thing but it was merely a case of two drastically different-sized soloists, but I suspect that I am right in my memory and the number has just changed.

All of the dances for the corps, that is, the swans' group numbers, were phenomenal. There is nothing more beautiful than thirty women in white moving in unison onstage - the Dance of the Snowflakes is another favorite, or it was until Kevin McKenzie got his hands on it.

Paloma Herrera danced the roles of Odette and Odile, and Marcelo Gomes danced the role of Siegfried. Paloma was wonderful, if a bit overly dramatic in her gestures (has ballet always been that way?), but poor Marcelo didn't have an opportunity to show that he could dance until the end of act three. I must say, though, that once he did - boy, can that boy jump.

Speaking of jumping, I burst into tears when Odette threw herself in the lake, and didn't stop crying until well after the curtain calls. I wonder if Phoebe noticed. (Incidentally, I suspect that curtain calls would not take quite as long, at least to get to the solo bows, if it were not such a long journey up to the stage for the conductor.)

After the show, Phoebe and I had a cup of coffee at the Starbucks in Barnes & Noble. We meant to go to a 'real' place, but that was very convenient. Also, neither of us had coffee - I had chai and she had hot cocoa with extra whipped cream. It was very nice. We talked about stress, diseases, and zombies. Voudon zombies, not cinematic zombies (though of course there was a brief detour in that direction).

This entry is probably longer now than the ballet, which has four acts, a prologue, and an apothesis. Time to go.

P.S. The price of culture (besides dumbing us all down) is apparently $90.


Dear Amy,

I tried to get a screenshot of my counter at 4444, but I was thwarted. I'm sorry.


Friday, June 27, 2003

Spells and Spoilers (or something)

Apparently some asshole posted a MAJOR Harry Potter spoiler and my sister saw it. I don't know where said spoiler is posted, so needless to say I am going to throw away the computer and lock myself in a dark room Just In Case. My sister hasn't read the book yet because she is waiting for her copy to arrive from England; I haven't read the book yet because it weighs 40 pounds or something and I don't feel like carrying it around. I might buy a copy to read on the plane going back to LA. I don't know. All I know is that if I find out who dies before reading it I will buy an automatic weapon and use it without reserve.

What's funny about all this is that I have not read Return of the King, as I am waiting until after I see the movie to read the book (I'm weird, I know, but I don't want to be disappointed in the movie), but I don't mind some spoilers for that. I mean, maybe it's just because ROTK was published 50 years ago and it's My Own Fault that I've not yet read it, but still. I actually asked Will to tell me if anyone dies, and to be specific. Of course, this was only because I was tired of crying over Boromir and figured I just wouldn't watch the other movies/read the rest of the book if anyone else I love died. Come to think of it, I missed some major details when I grilled him about it, so there ought to be some surprises still.

In conclusion, I need to take a decongestant.

Holy smokes! I've been using my dad's computer all week. It's a Macintosh PowerBook (laptop), and it's on a cable modem. I don't believe I shall ever be able to go back to dial-up. Happily, I think I get home in time to take advantage of a "sale" on SBC Yahoo DSL, which I hope is decent service. It has to be better than my MSN dial-up, and it's only $6 more a month if I order by Monday. (Yes, we are drastically over-paying for our dial-up, but it is almost worth it for the convenience of not having to change our service.)

Also, I like this computer. I mentioned this elsewhere, so apologies to those who've already read it in another form. I don't understand Macs at all, and I think that it is my (somewhat decent) understanding of PCs that causes me to at times hate them violently. My theory is that if I had a computer I didn't understand, it would seem superior, even though PCs probably are, at least for what I use them for. However, I haven't got $2000 to invest in anything, so I will not have an opportunity to put my theorioes into practice.

Tonight Phoebe and I will be attending Swan Lake at the Met Opera House. It is American Ballet Theater's third-to-last performance of the season, and I am excited.

--Drastic Change of Subject Alert--

On Tuesday I had dinner with Nova. As far as I know, nobody reading this knows Nova. She and I grew up in the same town and attended the same college, but did not meet until a few years after college, at a mutual friend's funeral to be precise. She and Will and her boyfriend, Erik, all attended Antioch at the same time, but she and Erik had already graduated when I got there. She has a Master's from Columbia and he is almost finished with his (from NYU). She tells me that, though they would like to be permanent New York residents, they are thinking of moving to LA for a year or two so that Erik can explore the film industry. He is currently working on a feature here in NY, and has made several shorts of his own. Nova is a writer, and works as a copy editor for a publishing house. I told her about some of the stuff I've written, and she seemed genuinely enthusiastic. She wants to see the children's story, as the company she works for publishes children's books, and she would also like to read my "grown up" stories, and thinks that she will be able to suggest literary magazines for me to submit them to. This is all very neat and exciting, and a bit odd because I am so used to not doing anything with my writing.

It's 11:11. As good a time as any to sign off.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

the subway is so depressing.

My father is very much like me in many respects. For example, he writes down things that he sees that are striking to him in one way or another. This is from a sign that an elderly man he saw in the subway was carrying:

My daughter died
My wife is sick
I lost my job
Please help me

It made me indescribably sad, but also it made me angry. The other day, on the airplane, I read How To Be Good by Nick Hornby. It is perhaps the story of a marriage and perhaps an emotionally manipulative attempt at getting people to look at the world differently. Either way, I have been thinking of myself as a Bad Person every time I ride the subway. But am I automatically a bad person if I do not give money to the homeless? Am I OK as long as I do not have new clothes from the Gap despite the fact that my closet is already full? That is to say, am I a bad person if I keep my money, or am I still a good person as long as I really need the money that I keep? (I am not making myself any clearer, am I?)

So now the question is whether to allow myself to be sad and accept that I am human just for that, or get angry and beat myself up over not looking at The Big Picture. (Not to mention the fact that I have new clothes from the Gap.)

Last night I did not buy the new Harry Potter book. I also did not buy the complete short stories of Angela Carter, or any number of amusing-looking dating guides, but I think it is safe to say that Order of the Phoenix was the most tempting, and I persevered.

I am so sleepy that I had to look up persevere in the dictionary to see a) if it is the word I meant and b) how to spell it. Despite appearances, it is a perfectly decent hour - I am on the east coast and my blog is set to Pacific time. Nevertheless, I am sleepy. Strange bed and all that.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Things to do today:

  • Pack

The damn weather reports keep changing, so I have no idea what sort of clothing to bring with me. Furthermore, I cannot find my phone card. Otherwise, everything is fine and I am very much looking forward to my trip.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Thanks so much to everyone who's responded so far to my last entry. This sort of discussion really thrills me! In the hopes of keeping it going, I offer the following:

"As for me, I knew nothing except what I gathered from Time magazine, but as I inched sluggishly along the treadmill of the Maycomb County school system, I could not help receiving the impression that I was being cheated out of something. Out of what I knew not, yet I did not believe that twelve years of unrelieved boredom was exactly what the state had in mind for me."

~To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Friday, June 20, 2003

"Standardized testing as an accurate measurement tool of learning is myth perpetuated by people who fail to recognize that education is not a system, but a life long process."

-Katherine Smith.

Note: The quote is from a discussion at the Buffyguide forums.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

OK, I know I've been updating this like mad today, but I keep thinking of things to say.

I just found a reference on Amazon to the Marilyn Monroe film Niagara - on a film noir list! Are these people insane? That is the worst movie ever and does not in any way resemble noir. Believe you me, there is plenty of crappy film noir, but Niagara is in its very own class of Crap.

...Then again, Fargo, and excellent non-noir picture, is also on the list. Maybe the person who put it together just didn't read the assignment.

I have a dirty mind. What else is new? So I was at browsing documentaries. I came across one called Porn Star: the Legend of Ron Jeremy. The "uncut and unrated version." My first thought? Uncut??? He's circumcised! And then I started missing porn.

Speaking of my viewing habits, I am looking at the Cowboy Bebop box sets and trying to decide which kidney to sell.

Also, I need to go to an office supply store. Preferably with my Free GoV MoneY.

I've come to a further conclusion that people slightly younger than myself (by people I mean girls, because I don't know very many boys) are doing much better culturally than my generation, as are people slightly older than me. It seems to be primarily we 25-year-olds who are losers (I use the term in a friendly manner, I assure you). Oh well.

I made something resembling puttanesca sauce for dinner last night, and I am now eating the leftovers for breakfast/lunch (also called "brunch" by civilized people), against my better judgment. I will probably make it again in the future, but without the anchovies, because they gave me gas. Unless the garlic or tomatoes are responsible, but I prefer to blame the nasty little fishies.

It's cold(ish) and overcast for the millionth day in a row, and it is starting to depress me. I like this weather, but for crying out loud, I live in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

My boyfriend, the Unschooler.

Last night, Will asked me to choose a book for him to read. His only specification was that it not be a biography of Nathanael West. I gleefully brought him The Day I Became An Autodidact and shyly asked if it was all right. Are my adverbs conflicting? I don't care, it was how it was. Anyway, he read about a chapter before we went to bed, where he switched to one of the books in the Series of Unfortunate Events, which he reads to me every night. We finished the first book last night. And I could not be further off topic if I tried. What was I talking about?

Oh, hell, doesn't matter. I've just read a Miss Manners column, which made me think of something else. But first, I shall quote my favorite response:

Dear Miss Manners,
Is it incorrect to have candles on a buffet table in the daytime?

Gentle Reader,
No, only to light them.

I am too lazy to look up the html for an indented quotation.

Anyway, reading Miss Manners reminded me of something I was thinking about earlier: the women of my generation do not practice any of the traditional hobbies that women of previous generations did. Presumably this is because we have jobs and equality and all that, so knitting and bridge aren't our only options, but...Well, I think it's a shame. Not that I don't want jobs and equality and all that junk, but that I appreciate tradition in some aspects, and wish there were more renaissance ladies out there. I can only think of one person my age (among my friends) who knits. I can crochet and sew, but I don't often.

I know I'm not expressing myself very well, but I think I can go on to say that this is only a small part of my dissatisfaction with modern American culture. I know very few people with a good appreciation for opera (I include myself here - never really understood it), or ballet, or really any form of art or entertainment that has been around for more than 100 years. Not to mention that people think there is an actual cocktail called an apple martini! I'm terribly sorry, gentle reader, but it is only a martini if it is gin and vermouth.

My goodness, don't I sound grumpy? I swear I'm not. Just scatter-brained.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

I've invented yet another word! I now present it to you, in context!

K says:
3 Days to HP!!!!!!!
Annika says:
K says:
i won't get mine for a few more days cuz mine's coming from england.
K says:
Annika says:
Oooh, good idea.
K says:
K says:
i'm getting the american version too, but i want to read the 'real' thing first.
K says:
as i have both as collections.
Annika says:
That's, like, authentelitism.
K says:
uh. . . right.
Annika says:
It's a new word! I think it's a good one.


Monday, June 16, 2003

I have seen Andrew Bird play live four times. The first time, Nora O'Connor was playing at the California Clipper, my favorite Chicago bar, and he accompanied her (on fiddle, of course). I got very drunk and made an ass of myself after the show. Let us not speak of it.

The second time was at the Hideout street festival two summers ago, where he performed with the Bowl Of Fire, including Nora and with back-up vocals by Kelly Hogan. (In your face, Beth-bitch!) I was standing right up against the stage, practically on top of the monitor.

The third time was, until last night, my favorite. It was crowded and horrible in [insert name of club], but Will was with me, at one of the few shows in Chicago that he was able to accompany me to.

Last night was divine. I've never seen Andrew solo before, though I've heard one of the songs before (two, actually, since one is a re-working of a Bowl of Fire song). The Derby is every bit as wonderful as it looks on film, and I wore a top that I've had for some time but never worn before. It was quite chilly, though, so I kept my jacket on. Perhaps it's because I'm used to clubs in cities where smoking is allowed, but the air circulation in there was too good. Brrrr!

There was an odd moment entering the club, when tthe doorman checked our IDs and asked if we would ever hang out with a 19-year old. I said, without thinking, "Not on purpose," and went in. I was being funny, as it obviously would depend on the 19-year old. It seemed to me that perhaps he was worried that we would buy drinks for underage patrons, but then I realized that they are strictly over-21. So I have no idea what he meant, and it is still bothering me.

I watched Pride & Prejudice today (the BBC/A&E production) and was quite pleased. I really must write about all of the movies I've seen lately.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

I just received an email promising me Free MoneY From The GoV-=. Acting on the assumption that the government is, in fact, going to send me loads of free cash, I am scanning the real estate pages. I think I will buy a house boat. Those are real neat.

Oh. No, but I am going to see Andrew Bird tonight, finances be damned.

Also, I have no summer clothes. This is ridiculous. I have more clothing than some 3rd world countries, but nothing appropriate for summer. I have one pair of shorts and a lot of old t-shirts that I don't wear in public anymore; I have two bathing suits that don't fit me (but I don't really swim anyway); I have one pair of sandals that are sort of falling apart.

We've watched a bunch of movies (BOM?) lately. I might make an entry about some of them later.

Friday, June 13, 2003

After spending a frustrating period of time (about half an hour) with my dear friend The Calculator, I have come to the conclusion that we do not, in theory, spend more money each month than we bring in - this, of course, not including emergencies, which we do not have often. I have come to the further conclusion that a large portion of the trouble lies in the fact that the vast majority of our bills are due on the 1st of the month, putting us into overdraft if we wish to do anything rash like eat (actually, even if we skip food for the first half of the month). We go into overdraft before the mid-month paycheck, and half of that paycheck goes to overdraft fees. The only solution that I can think of for the time being (that is, until we work out a way to have a better income) is to prevail upon some of the companies we send money to every month to allow us to move our payment to the 15th. I have tried to change billing dates with telephone companies in the past with no luck whatsoever, but I am hopeful for the car insurance - surely if we were to make a one-time payment that covered more than a month, they would be amiable to the change. That, or they will laugh at us. We shall see.

In other news, something smells like gasoline and I am afraid to go check the grill. Will, come home now! (Please note that I am fairly certain it isn't the grill, but not positive.)

Thursday, June 12, 2003

I am cursed.

Seriously - if I talk about anyone famous, they die. In this method I killed Trevor Goddard and...somebody else. Crapola, I cannot recall who it was.

The good news is that I do not think responsibility for the death of David Brinkley rests with me. The jury is still out on Gregory Peck. I'm really going to miss him, even if I do always think of him as a young romantic lead. I suppose that's for the best. Rest in peace, Gregory.

I am pleased to announce that my boyfriend and I are currently having an email conversation about British royalty in the 15th and 16th centuries. This sparked by my google search on Richard Plantagenet, who is mentioned in We Have Always Lived In The Castle.

I've just explained to Will the difference between Anne Plantagenet and Anne Bolyn (with Anne of Cleves thrown in for good measure). I feel like such a geek. In his defense, the genealogy chart on the website I sent him the link for was near-impossible to read, and it isn't easy to find much info on women who died in 1476.

And Will just managed to get in a Buffy reference. That'll teach me to bring Marie Antoinette into the conversation (don't ask).

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Lately I have been having strange stomach cramps with increasing frequency. I've been getting the sort of gas that resides high up in (presumably) the intestines and causes great back pain. This seems to be primarily associated with eating rich foods, so I've not been too concerned. This morning, though, I had a horrible cramp for about two minutes, and with it a horrifying thought.

A little known fact about me (because I didn't deem to tell most people about it until now) is that in February of 2002 I had surgery to remove abnormal cells from my cervix. As far as I know, the surgery was successful. But I have not been to a gynecologist since. This is primarily due to the fact that I moved across the country and lost my health insurance within a month of each other (and the surgery). I know that I should have a regular check-up, particularly as a follow-up to the surgery. But with our finances, it feels like I would have to choose between that and the monthly car payment.

If only there were an affordable way for me to get on Will's insurance policy. If only Will hadn't owed the Feds money this April, and I could have used my return for the things I need.

I am 99% certain that my stomach cramps have nothing to do with my girl parts and their health. But that 1% is making me nervous.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

I've been noticing that the ads on people's blogs are often tied in to the general theme of the blog. Not always, but often. On Phoebe's, for example, there were ads for two different magazine subscription sites that offered the New Yorker. Pat's had one for the Peace Corps, which I'm sure could be tied in somehow. Stephanie's used to have ads for things like DNA tests, which is absurd, but her blog is primarily about her family, so...Now it has ads for blogging services. This is also sensible.

My blog had, last I checked, ads for getting rid of zits, undoing sun damage, and improving the quality of your fingernails. Huh? I think I ought to be offended.

In other news, but still relating to advertising, I was watching TV yesterday and it seems that several internet service providers have (at least temporarily) lowered the cost of DSL. This is really exciting, because it is coming close to being affordable. And by affordable, I mean that we can't afford any internet service but Will won't allow me to cancel it because he loves me. We're currently paying something obscene like $23/month for dial-up, and I saw an ad for broadband for $29/month. Unfortunately, we currently use MSN, whose broadband prices are still around $40-50/month. I'm not opposed to changing services, just nervous about the hassle. I wonder if I could still use the MSN services (I don't mean just messenger and email, I mean the convenience of using msn to check these things) while using a different ISP. Then again, I hate MSN Explorer, and half of the time it fails at sign-in.

Argh. Choices.

Incidentally, I followed one of the links from Phoebe's blog and found that I can get a subscription to the New Yorker for under $30, with a free subscription to a second magazine. I suppose it's worth noting that the most interesting choice for the free magazine was FHM, but still. Have I mentioned that it's my birthday soon? And while we're at it, I'd also like web hosting prepaid for at least a year and my domain names renewed.

Thank you. That is all.

Monday, June 09, 2003

I forgot to mention - I have been reading the Christopher Snow novels by Dean Koontz. I never expected to read anything of his, but Will insisted that I might like these, and he has yet to steer me wrong. I've finished Fear Nothing, during the reading of which I developed rampant paranoia, and am a few chapters into Seize The Night. So far my only complaint is that there are evil monkeys, which is wrong-wrong-wrong. But then, I liked Brain Dead (Dead Alive). Will swears that he thought they were evil apes - baboons I think - which really wouldn't have made a difference. Or maybe it would, as no one in the books would say "evil monkey" and make me cry.

Anyway, they are quite good, and unlike Cherish I would recommend them. Just be aware that you will be afraid of the dark and possibly rhesus monkeys after reading them, unless you are truly made of Sterner Stuff.

There is a noise coming from outside that I can only assume is a pidgeon. Possibly a dying or heartbroken pidgeon. It sounds awful. Like a cow with laryngitis. (I have never heard a cow with laryngitis.)

Last night Will and I watched the strangest movie. Cherish, starring ceasar salad girl. I mean, Robin Tunney. It was just...strange. I kind of liked it, but wouldn't necessarily recommend it. It had an excellent supporting cast, including Tim Blake Nelson, Lindsey Crouse, Nora Dunn, Brandon Walsh (excuse me, I mean Jason Priestley), Liz Phair, and Brad Hunt, who I had never heard of but was very impressed by. After the movie, I went off on a long rant about how I wouldn't name my daughter after my writing partner if my writing partner and I were famous. This baffled Will entirely until I showed him our copy of Life With Father, by Lindsay and Crouse.

Ugh. There was just a loud clanking sound from outdoors, which I am certain was also the pidgeon. I don't want to check. I am starting to get freaked out. This is obviously a sign that I don't get out often enough.

In other news, Matt is a big old whore.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

How can people not like children? This is seriously distressing to me. I can comprehend not liking being around children too much. Their energy is so different than an adult's that I can make some sense of that. But flat-out hating all children? I don't get it. It seems that you'd have to be some sort of monster, or just incredibly stupid.

Like I said, I really do understand (even if I don't identify) that some people are not comfortable around children or dislike certain aspects of their natures. But it makes me unbelievably sad that anyone would talk about them as through they are some sort of plague.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Sex and the single girl

Not the Helen Gurley (*snicker*) Brown book, though I've always meant to read that. No, this is about my single friends (and me).

A lot of my friends seem to know absolutely everything about one another. What's more, they all seem perfectly comfortable thinking that it's their (and/or each other's) business. I find this slightly off-putting, but not enough to stop listening when one of them tries to tell me all about another's date last October and why it was so awful. Let's face it, I am human.

Rather than sit around knowing all of my friends' secrets (which are, in fact, no such thing), I have decided to look at the information somewhat objectively and present the highlights here. Consider it 'The Rules' according to my friends.

First of all, apparently there is new dating etiquette. I say 'new' as though the girls in question were younger than me - they are, in fact, not. Maybe this is a California thing...except that they are not all Californians.

Did you know that all dates split the bill? Not necessarily in the old-fashioned 'going dutch' style, though. It seems that one person pays for the drinks and one for dinner, if it is that sort of date. This seems like a fine practice, really, but I always preferred the 'I'll get this one - you buy next time' style of dating.

Then there is the matter of permanence. I have a friend who is in a fairly new relationship. Two months, perhaps a bit more. They are in the spending-as-much-time-as-possible-together stage, have said 'I love you' to each other, and recently had what I can only assume was their first fight (surely I'd have heard about it if there were others). I won't go into detail, but will say that she found a suspicious (but, it turned out, innocent) item in his belongings. He didn't explain satisfactorily, and she commented that she just wanted an explanation so that she'd know if she had to break up with him. Certainly there is some sense in the 'if he cheats, lose him' mentality. But it has never been that cut-and-dry for me, and I marvel at the confidence with which she said it.

Perhaps I am old-fashioned, in some strange way. After all, I have only dated 2 1/2 men since I care to remember, and perhaps another 2 or 3 before that. I've always felt (digression alert) that children of divorce are more likely to fight for a relationship. We also, in my experience, are more likely to want to get married, retarded as that may sound. It is my further theory that we children of divorce have already experienced the worst thing humanly possible - our own parents' divorce - and therefore it cannot possibly be any worse. Or maybe we just want to do better than our parents. I don't know. (Digression over.)

Sex. I don't know if there is a handbook, or if it is merely the people I know, but it seems that there are more taboos than I remember from my pre-long-term relationship days. Anything that fits into the category I call 'porno sex' is off-limits, it seems, and any dates trying it get the boot out of bed. Now, there were certainly many things that I refused to try for a long time, but I don't think there was ever a list, per se. Not to mention that most of my bed partners have been fairly willing to discuss the sex we were having, thereby avoiding most nasty surprises (though there is, unfortunately, no way to discuss ahead of time whether you will be compatible).

I don't think that Will and I ever moved past the spending-as-much-time-as-possible-together part of our relationship. Even when we were broken up and 2000 miles apart, we spoke on the phone nearly every day, and sought each other's approval for the lives we were leading separately. I admit that we are an odd couple. There is also the question of money - or rather, there has never really been any question. There has, certainly, been tension, as usually one of us is paying the bills and the other living off the one income, but it's never been a question that we pool our resources, such as they are. We no longer have a joint checking account, but I imagine that if I asked him to he'd add my name to his, even though I am a lazy no-good lie-about.

[This is my anti-climactic ending.]

Monday, June 02, 2003

Of yoga, spaghetti westerns, and pie.

Uh. Entry forthcoming. Sleepy now.

Real quickly, though, the book in question from the previous entry is We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson. With my trusted legal pad, I've written about 6 pages so far and have notes on pretty much half of the rest already. Go team me!