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Me and Sylvia, smiling for the camera (August 2005)


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The very idea of the (definitive) translation is misguided, Borges tells us; there are only drafts, approximations.

Andrew Hurley

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Friday, October 29th, 2004

🦋 How I am spending pre-election weekend

I haven't written an endorsement (or much of anything lately), since I don't think (m)any people read my site who are not well acquainted with my politics. But here is something close to an endorsement that I wrote in the comments over at Lawyers, Guns and Money. And by the way: here is an endorsement I endorse, by the RudePundit, to which I was alerted by Michael Bérubé.

One and a half more hours of this nail-chewing today -- then I am getting on a bus up to Woodstock, where I will meet Ellen, Sylvia, and Gary, Suzie and Milo, to spend the night at their place and try to relax and forget my worries. Come back home tomorrow recharged and do a lot of phone calling for MoveOn tomorrow and Sunday. (If you're interested in doing some of that yourself, go here and create an account for yourself). More nail-chewing on Monday; then Tuesday I am working for the Kerry campaign, calling people, canvassing, and in the evening hosting a Calls for Kerry phone-banking party. (To find a party near you, enter your ZIP code here.) Jeez I hope this does some good...

If you have any money to give please donate to Election Protection, which is organizing lawyers to watch polls in contested states and discourage those who would harass voters. It is a vital struggle.

posted afternoon of October 29th, 2004: Respond
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Wednesday, October 27th, 2004

🦋 Flowin' by

I started writing a song tonight (well technically last night I guess, the chord progression occurred to me last night and Ellen had an idea for some words tonight, which I fleshed out to a verse):

A           E7    F           A
What do you know, what do you care
A E7 F A
What do you know, what do you care
D D7 E F
Last time I called you you were talkin bout your father
E F D D7
And you wouldn't answer straight when I asked about the water
Flowin' by.

Needs more words and perhaps more sensible words but the rhythm of it is very nice.

Update: 2nd Verse

What do you know, what do you care
What do you know, what do you care
Last time I saw you you were thinkin bout tomorrow
And you wouldn't even listen when I asked about the sorrow
In your eye.

Update: Here is a bridge, and something like a 3rd Verse

D D7 C C9 F E A

What do you know, what do you care
What do you know, what do you care
I'm always askin you how come you can't forgive her
But you won't tell me nothin, always starin at the river
Flowin by.

posted evening of October 27th, 2004: Respond
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Monday, October 18th, 2004

🦋 More Jansson

For those of you not yet tired of the Moomin obsession: Here is some more.

There are two more moomin books available in English translation; one is The Book About Moomin, Mymble, and Little My, which as near as I can tell is in verse; the other is Who Will Comfort Toffle?, a short book which LiteraryMoose describes as "One of the best love stories I have ever read". Both are in print in the UK. And one more moomin story, previously untranslated, is coming soon! It is the first one Jansson wrote: The Little Trolls and the Great Flood. You can read the translation online here.

Additionally, Jansson wrote a number of non-moomin books. I am reading The Summer Book now; I think it is the only one that has been translated. A nice book -- I'll write more about it later.

posted afternoon of October 18th, 2004: Respond
➳ More posts about The Summer Book

Friday, October 15th, 2004

🦋 Thoughts about Moomins

So as of today I have read all the Moominfamily books except maybe three of them which are out of print for a long time and hard to locate. I love them. Picking up Finn Family Moomintroll back in July was one of the best things I've done in a long time. These are the books in (as near as I can determine) order by original publication date:

  • Comet in Moominland (1946)
  • Finn Family Moomintroll (1948)
  • Moominsummer Madness (1954)
  • Moominland Midwinter (1957)
  • Tales from Moominvalley (1963)
  • Moominpappa at Sea (1963)
  • Moominpappa's Memoirs (1968)
  • Moominvalley in November (1971?)

The two starting points I would recommend to people are Finn Family Moomintroll, and Moominvalley in November -- I think either one will suck you right in and that it will be impossible not to want to read the entire series. Finn Family Moomintroll is really good for reading aloud to a very young child, the others not so much. The only two that do not stand up so well are Comet in Moominland and Moominpappa's Memoirs -- you will want to read them just to fill in some details of the Moomin world, but they will not demand to be reread.

The first five books and Moominpappa's Memoirs are quite suitable for any child old enough to read them; the other three demand a little more sophistication and I would not give them to a child younger than about 9, at least not unless I were reading the book with the child and helping her understand some of the nuance. I have described the style of the later books as "a cross between A. A. Milne and Beckett."

posted evening of October 15th, 2004: Respond
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🦋 Moominland

Today I am reading Moominland Midwinter, so I have now read the whole Moominfamily series though not in order and excluding the first book, The Little Trolls and the Great Flood, which has not been translated into English.* This evening if all goes according to plan I will write up and post my thoughts about the series. Just as a quick note, if you just wanted to read one, Finn Family Moomintroll is an utterly fantastic, magnificent book. Moominvalley in November, Moominpappa at Sea, and Tales from Moominvalley are similarly fantastic but not, I think, well suited for young children. Moominsummer Madness and (tentatively) Moominland Midwinter are good books with moments of greatness but some uneven bits. Comet in Moominland and Moominpappa's Memoirs are fun fluff.

* And I just now saw Jansson has a moomin-related book called "Who Will Comfort Toffle?" which I had not heard of before. Update: Also there is a book called "The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My"; one called "The Summer Book" which is not about Moomins but about a girl and her grandmother; one called "The Coal Man and other stories"; and she has illustrated Swedish editions of "Alice in Wonderland", "The Hobbit", and "The Hunting of the Snark".

posted afternoon of October 15th, 2004: Respond
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🦋 More Birthday Pics

Here are some more pictures from Sylvia's 4th Birthday, courtesy of Miriam: READIN Family Album

posted morning of October 15th, 2004: Respond
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Monday, October 11th, 2004

Sylvia and I spent the evening at a neighbor's house, watching the finale concert of the Vote for Change tour and writing letters to voters in swing states. For me, the musical high point of the evening was the first song I heard, which was John Cougar singing "In my Time of Dying" -- I had no idea he sang that song, he does it very well. Sylvia was shy and stayed on or next to my lap all evening, not talking to people but smiling.

posted evening of October 11th, 2004: Respond
➳ More posts about Sylvia

We ate the rest of the pumpkin pie at the guitar jam yesterday, everyone liked it, especially Bob. I mentioned The Plot Against America to Janis, who grew up in Newark; turns out she grew up in the Weequahic section, and her mother was in high school with Philip Roth! (And to answer a question that I had while reading the book, it's pronounced "WEEK-wa'ək".)

posted morning of October 11th, 2004: Respond
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Sunday, October 10th, 2004

I read Moominpappa at Sea today, really enjoyed getting to know Moominpappa. In the other books (excluding Moominpappa's Memoirs, which I have not yet read), he doesn't really emerge as a fully developed character, just serves as a foil for Moominmamma and other characters. I could really empathize with his frustration and his ill-defined desire to be making something meaningful.

I think the events in this book occur simultaneously with Moominvalley in November, although neither book says so explicitly.

posted evening of October 10th, 2004: Respond
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Saturday, October 9th, 2004

Finished The Plot Against America -- what a page-turner! It's been a while since I found myself drawn so strongly back to the book every time I put it down -- all day today I've been either reading it or intending to read it while I do something else. Next on my list is Moominpappa at Sea.

I made pumpkin pie today, from the recipe in Sundays at the Moosewood, and it came out very well.

posted evening of October 9th, 2004: Respond
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