1. There was something on slfcllednowhere's journal about how she likes to rank her favorite bands. I like to do the same thing, but I've noticed that I don't do it as much nowadays. It was a lot easier to come up with a Top Ten when I only liked around twelve different bands. If someone were to ask, I'd probably say my Top Five are the same as how I'd listed them previously: They Might Be Giants, XTC, Frank Black, the Young Fresh Fellows, and Camper Van Beethoven (all with at least some related bands and solo projects included). I'm not totally sure beyond that, because it sometimes gets to be an apples-and-oranges kind of scenario. I have noticed that to really get into my Favorites category (rather than simply "bands I like"), a large and varied body of work is necessary. Consider the Ditty Bops and the Dresden Dolls, both of which I got into at around of the same time, and both of which have released albums on similar schedules (the third Bops album came out just a little while ago, and the third Dolls album will be out next month). I think everything both groups have put out has been strong, and maybe better on average (not that I'm actually going to do the math, if such a thing is even possible) than, say, XTC, who had a few relative duds in their long career. They haven't released that much yet, though, and while I certainly wouldn't say there's NO variety in their work, they seem to be picking one sound that works and sticking with it, rather than experimenting with a lot of different stuff. (I guess it's possible that the new Dolls album will sound totally different than their other work, but I seriously doubt it.) So as much as I like them, and even though it's quite possible they've been in wider rotation as of late than some of my old favorites, I wouldn't say either one currently has a shot at my highest spots (and I'm sure they're devastated by that news :P). Such things are subject to change, though. I think Neko Case has moved up to the Favorites category since I first started listening to her; she only had two albums (plus the Corn Sisters one) out back then, and now she has four studio albums and two live ones, all of which are quite solid releases. And Moxy Früvous has fallen somewhat by breaking up after only seven releases (four studio albums, two rarities collections, and one live record), two of which (You Will Go to the Moon and Thornhill, in case you care) weren't really up to snuff. I guess they're still Favorites, though. I suppose the whole system is really pretty ridiculous, but I thought you might appreciate some insight into how my mind works.
2. Why is it that, when writing stories, I find it so much easier to come up with descriptions of historical events than with actual plots? For instance, here's something that I might use in an Oz manuscript:
It was back in the days when weliplixers still roamed the plains of the Munchkin Country and dragons had not yet been confined to underground caverns that the legendary Gilkennius led an army of Purple Knights from the plains to unite the various kingdoms and settlements of the north. He was easily the most controversial figure in Gillikin history up until Gayelette, hailed by some as the founder of the Gillikin Country, and considered by others to be a ruthless conqueror. Regional leaders who did not want to submit to the rule of Gilkennius were soon subdued, if not by his army than by the magical might of the witch Momba. Gilkennius had soon set himself up as Emperor of the North, with a capital city in the north central mountains, not far from Zamagoochie. The only person who managed to successfully stand up to the Emperor was the warrior Golzok, a brown-clad man from the east whose fighting prowess was said to be unsurpassed. Some said he was a wizard as well as a warrior, while others argued that his body had simply been augmented with various sorts of magic, with still others claiming that there was very little difference between the two. Most of this last category were criticized for not recognizing the difference between a magic-user and a magic-worker. Other legends say that Golzok rode on a great brown dragon, but many scholars think this was due to confusion with the story of Wauj Munch, who was said to ride on a blue dragon. Regardless, Golzok managed to unite the various tribes of the northeast into a confederation that successfully repelled Gilkennius' various attempts at annexation. The confederation became known as Junisia, most likely after the month in which it was founded, but possibly also due to the fact that Golzom's followers were known as the Summer People. The Winter People lived in the mountains, and were largely loyal to Gilkennius. Golzok was crowned King of Junisia, and was said to have been a very successful ruler. It was around this same time that one of Gilkennius' courtiers left the imperial court after a heated argument over whether it was proper to eat dessert before dinner, and ended up founding his own kingdom on Mount Bompadoo to the east. Although he remained loyal to his Emperor, one of his sons assisted Golzok in his fight against Gilkennius. Whether this was the son who inherited the throne or the one who became a wanderer is a matter of debate. It was Momba who eventually brought down Junisian confederation by placing a powerful enchantment on its king, allowing her Emperor to conquer the now ruler-less confederation. It was not long after this triumph that Gilkennius set his sights on the Winkie Country, and was transformed in some way by its princess, leaving the Gillikin Country to his son.
It is an interesting fact that the tales and historical records are all consistent in saying that both Golzok and Gilkennius were enchanted, which confuses modern scholars. As far as they know, it was still possible for Ozites to die at that point in history. Some think that these parts of the story were simply added in by those who held out hope for these legendary figures to come back at some point, and there is indeed a group called the Gilkennian League that has elaborate hopes and plans for the Emperor's eventual return. Some smaller organizations have a similar dedication to the return of Golzok. The sudden restoration of two Winkie kingdoms that had seemingly disappeared 500 years previously gave more credence to the idea that these historical personages might still be alive somewhere. Nonetheless, you can hardly blame Randy and Kabumpo for being skeptical of the man who now stood before them and claimed to be Golzok.
3. The cheap particle board bottom of my shirt drawer is falling out. I don't want to have to get a whole new dresser, but I don't think there's a way to buy individual drawers, and I'm not sure it can be repaired.