Thursday, June 29, 2006

The triumphant return of Art Boy

As I write, Art Boy is on an aeroplane traveling from his Minnesota stop to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, his plane will land about an hour after I arrive at work, so he will have to heft his mighty travel bags aboard a bus and then a Metro train to reach our temporary home. He'll be waiting for me tonight when I get home from work. He's quit a job that he really likes, left his entire family, and come out here jobless and virtually penniless to be with me. I often pretend to be unutterably moved, but this time I really am. I cannot wait to see him again. We don't have a permanent place to live or a job for him or anything, and I have night hours now with Tuesdays and Wednesdays off, and we do not know anyone here. (Well, we know one person, and I kind of know another person, but that's it.) It's a cliche, but once we're together, I am confident we'll figure everything out. And he'll be here tonight. My heart is like a singing bird...

Monday, June 26, 2006

My Gleanings

Several mini-posts in one! It's like a bag of Halloween candy, or a rambling Victorian diary!

- I finished That Damn Book. Several plot threads came together satisfactorily at the ending, but the big twist had been obvious since about page four. It could be a good beach book if you're fond of florid prose and downright rococo subplots, or if you're very drunk. I think it is mainly a good guideline of What Not To Do for the discerning writer and translator. Tragedies are just not compelling if their principals could have stopped them by behaving reasonably.

I have been happily exorcizing this one with passages from the wonderfully astringent "Cold Comfort Farm," such as: "Flora sighed. It was curious that people who lived what the novelists call a rich emotional life always seemed to be a bit slow on the uptake." This would be a perfect epigram for "The Shadow of the Wind."

- The other night I took myself out to see "X-Men 3," the highlight of which was a preview of "Snakes on a Plane," which absolutely brought the house down. Look out! Snakes! "X-Men" was sort of a letdown after that, except for Ian McKellen's queeny purring of "I could smell your adamantine skeleton a mile away." Watch out, Boy from Oz!

The fair Kelly has already outlined the film's major pluses and minuses. We probably did need the thing with the Golden Gate Bridge, although the sequel needs to explain how it stayed in one big piece without any pilings. I have to say I was a little disappointed in Phoenix. Someone who has the power to destroy entire solar systems should get better action scenes, and not just stand around in a tacky red dress from Hot Topic. I also can't get behind the Wolverine-Jean thing. She's just never been that into him, and it's rather pathetic the way he's always nosing around her door. Making Jean into Wolverine's tragedy is hollow; she's Scott's tragedy, not to mention her own. Relationship-wise I'm much more interested in Wolverine-Rogue, but that gets pretty much no screen time here. And the Magneto-Mystique breakup, while wonderfully cold, needed some follow-through. I don't want my last shot of Raven to be an indirect one on a screen. I was expecting her to join Erich at the park in the final shot, although the way it ended up was pretty cool. And wasn't Angel supposed to be in this movie?

So my requests for number four, which I am sure we will get one day: Wolverine and Rogue are finally nicely set up to get together, so let's head that way. Better outfits, please - no more nancing around in dresses from Hot Topic. And quit giving Storm so many lines, as she has no conflicts and is not interesting. Ditto Kitty. Thank you!

- Current books: "Monster Festival: Classic Tales of the Macabre," illustrated by Edward Gorey (v. similar to "The Haunted Looking-Glass") and "The Wild Night Company: Irish Tales of Fantasy and Horror." Both most highly recommended. The latter opens with a short tale by none other than Giraldus Cambrensis, which will be a huge thrill to any of you who have read Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need ("Households Per Tricha Set: 100").

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A midsummer night's dream

So I read once in a magazine, I forget which, that if you put a dozen wildflowers under your pillow on midsummer's night, you'll dream of the man you're going to marry. (It was "man" - they assume rightly this is something only a straight chick would do.) Every summer solstice I think about this and this year I decided to do it, largely because I have a lot of time on my hands. They probably weren't all wildflowers, but I strolled around Pasadena looking for flowering shrubs or plants and discreetly deadheading a dozen. The crown jewel was a fading gardenia from outside my window. All of them went under my pillow, and this morning I woke up in a sweat from a nightmare about Nicole Kidman turning out to be a serial killer and chasing me across my parents' backyard with a gun in the belief that I was a paparazzo (-a?) coming to crash her wedding. I don't think I'll try that again.

The man she's marrying does live near my parents in Leiper's Fork, TN, so it could happen.

In other news, I'm still reading this goddamn book, which I've taken to picking up with a snarl of "All right, you." (This happens when you live alone.) For a while there it was picking up. I realized I was basically reading a Spanish gothic pastiche, and I needed to lighten the fuck up. But one of the characters has just stepped into the narrative to inform the reader he has seven days to live, and I have no patience with this sort of hanky-panky. Seven days is too long for these people. I should be finished with this goddamn thing tonight and then we can all get on with our lives.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lost in translation

Today's book: "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I purchased this book on a high recommendation some weeks ago and am about ready to throw it into a nearby picturesque fountain. (Pasadena is full of good candidates!) It is about 450 pages long and I am on about page 175, so perhaps it will redeem itself. But first of all, it's about How Great Books Are and is full of pious passages about how awful it is that so many people watch TV. There is an entire chapter about a beautiful fountain pen. Second and much worse, it appears to be a shitty translation. The characters say things that nobody would say, such as "I am speechless," and English idioms are regularly misused. "She asked me to read her the book, and while I was at it, to begin at the beginning." What do you mean, "while I was at it"?

Perhaps I am emotionally fragile right now, but I have had it will this book. I'm about to go see if the library has any Wodehouse. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, June 19, 2006

At the end of the continent

O gentle readers, forgive my long absence. (I know you're out there, both of you.) Art Boy and I have moved to Los Angeles. My computer, which had an odd breakdown several weeks ago that may have been more of a phone-wiring issue, is packed and in storage. I am writing to you now from the Pasadena Central Library, an agreeable old wood-panelled library around the corner from our extended-stay hotel. A gentleman with manga hair has issued me a card allowing me to use their computers as much as I want! Thanks, Pasadena! However, this will be a short post as I have got to go have a sandwich and then go to work.

There are a few things I miss about Cincinnati: Zip's, Sushi Ray, the relatively short distances between places one would want to go. But on the whole, it is nice to be here. I can open my bedroom window and lean out into a courtyard full of blooming gardenias. When I walk up these library steps, mountains loom in the background. The ocean's less than an hour away. There's a yoga studio on every other corner, and down my block is a Shiatsu massage studio, which I might have to take advantage of after work.

So good luck, Cincinnati. I miss some of your denizens, but not you. Someday I might even shake the habit of religiously checking the Cincinnati Blog.