Friday, May 26th, 2006
Felt is playing tonight at the Gaslight on South Orange Avenue -- hopefully I will make it over there with my violin and hopefully they will ask me to sit in on a couple of tunes.
Update: A great show. I did not get to sit in because they were having trouble with the PA. However Tarquin said they would like to get me in a rehearsal before the next gig and work out some parts for me.
I am reading Dickens' Bleak House now -- it is a book that has been on my shelf for many years, one that was spoken of very highly on the Pynchon-l and that I've always been resolved to read sometime. It's proving easier going than I expected, with plenty of laughs and a plot that is only occasionally obscure. But there are so many characters! It's a little hard to keep track of who, say, Mr. Guppy is, who has not been mentioned in the past 50 pages or so, when he pops up.
So the Unofficial Moomin Characters Guide has given me an idea -- a general purpose, web-based database utility for keeping track of characters in a book or series of books. I don't think this would be very difficult to do and it seems like it would come in handy.
I'm very happy to see that Drawn and Quarterly will be bringing out five volumes of Tove Jansson's Moomin comic strips. First one is due in September!
Saturday, May 20th, 2006
Hey Ana, here's the video I was telling you about. (The site is in Dutch but you don't need to read it, just click on the box that says "Klik om te starten".)
Friday, May 19th, 2006
Ok, this anecdote probably belongs in an Unfogged thread but I'm not sure how to work it in. Last night some friends took me out for my birthday dinner and drinks. (W00t! Happy birthday Jer! Everybody now...) The lawyer among them was telling me about a current client of his, scion of a Manhattan newspaper-insert printing business, who is trying to open a sado-masochism-themed bed & breakfast. Awesome. But apparently this is not a brand-new idea; my friend said there are currently 14 such businesses within a 1-mile radius of Gramercy Park. Who knew?
Wednesday, May 17th, 2006
Okay if anyone can contact me with an answer to this question, I will be deeply in your debt.
Ellen and I both have ThinkPads, about a year and a half old now. Somehow the power supply cords have stopped working properly, about a week ago. The plug is a sort of complicated thing, a hollow metal cylinder about 1/4" long -- when you plug it into the back of the computer, a pin that is inside the receptacle mates into the plug, and it snaps softly into place. But it is no longer mating or snapping -- the plug will not fit quite into the receptacle but stops about 1/32" short of the point where it would snap. If you twist it around just right it will charge the battery but it falls out quite easily.
So what could have happened? This condition affected both laptops at about the same time. I have looked for obstructions but I can't see anything. I was thinking maybe it was the onset of summer and changes in temperature and humidity that was causing it; but the indoor temperature of our house is not particularly different from what it was last month. It is more humid than it was -- is this plug particularly susceptible to humidity? Is there anything we can do about it?
Tuesday, May 16th, 2006
This weekend I finished Absurdistan, by Gary Shteyngart. This book is derivative -- I can hear bits of at least Pynchon, Vonnegut, and Heller in Shteyngart's style -- and its own spark of original genius as well. It is sort of a Catch-22 updated for the invasion of Iraq. What really struck me about it was, it was about the first book I've ever read that struck me as a generational anthem for my specific age group -- Shteyngart is two years younger than me as are his narrator and central characters -- I could see myself and the people I went to school with in the situations of the book, absurd though they were.
I bit into the sturgeon kebab, filling my mouth with both the crisp burnt edges and the smooth mealy interior. My body trembled inside my leviathan Puma tracksuit, my heroic gut spinning counter-clockwise, my two-scoop breasts slapping against each other.
Misha's descriptions of food and of his obesity work as metaphor on a number of levels -- the only one I can really express is the most obvious surface symbolism of greed and rapine, but trust me that there is a lot more than that going on under the surface. And a bonus quote for the Mineshaft crowd (to whom I very enthusiastically recommend this): when Dror is describing the focus group they held to see if they could get the American public interested in an invasion of Absurdisvanї, he says,
We showed pictures of Absurdis, Congolese, and Indonesians at play, picking fruits, frying goats, and so on. More problems. The Congolese are clearly black, so that strikes a chord with all respondents. Like them or not, you got plenty of blacks in America. The Indonesians have funny eyes, so they're Asian. Probably work hard and raise dutiful children. Good for them. Then you get the Absurdis. They're sort of dark, but not really black. They look a little Indonesian, but they've got round eyes. Are they Arabs? Italians? Persians? We finally settled on "taller Mexicans," which is another way of saying we're fucked.
Something notable: the book centers on "the second week of September 2001", but the famous events of that week are never mentioned.
On the ride home I read some of Cat's Cradle, and was quickly reminded of what an extraordinary book it is. I must have read it through 20 times between the ages of 14 and 19, I know much of it by heart. One of the central wampeters of my karass.
Update: Also look at this essay of Shteyngart's, on reading Philip Roth and particularly Portnoy's Complaint. A fine piece.
Thursday, May 11th, 2006
I'm back in Modesto for a few days, visiting my parents, and how exciting! The book that I have looked through my old bookshelf for every time I have been back here, but never found, just jumped out at me this time. It is Cat's Cradle, with a self-portrait by Mr. Vonnegut on the title page, and an inscription: "FOR GOOD OLD JEREMY ----- (signed) Kurt Vonnegut OCT 12 88"
Sunday, May 7th, 2006
Ellen posted a new entry in Lola's Diary today: You Can't Keep a Good Dog Down.
Found a good Mexican restaurant in Orange! I reviewed it at Chowhound -- check it out!
Drop me a line! or, sign my Guestbook.
Check out Ellen's writing at Patch.com.