Saturday, December 31, 2005

list-o-rama

All those lists out there has made us want to compile my own. My husband and I have collaborated to bring you our own best/worst of lists for 2005. Tell us your best/ worst-of's.

Best Music:
Hurra Torpedo (specifically The Only Egil Band)
Regina Spektor
Smoosh

Best Books:
The Alchemist (not published this year but I finally read it this year and it deserves it)

Best Graphic Novels:
"Pyongyang" by Guy Delisle
"War's End" by Joe Sacco
"Carnet De Voyage" by Craig Thompson
"Jeffrey Brown's Girlfriend Trilogy": "AEIOU" was published this year and it hasn't come to a library near us yet, but we've read "Clumsy" and "Unlikely" so it makes the list on their merits.
"Embroderies" by Marjane Satrapi

Best TV:
My Name is Earl
Bright Eyes on Leno
Arrested Development

Best Other Stuff:
2 Legged Dogs

Worst Radio Show:
Freestyle

Worst Music:
K-Fed

Worst Other Stuff:
yellow (ribbons, bracelets)
more bottled water
more antibacterial soap
under-reported news stories
bigger monstrosities driving the roads

barf


Here's a book that I do not recommend unless you're 12 years old and are into the Babysitter's Club series. I was curious to know what all the hype was about but I couldn't get past the third page without barfing.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Craig Thompson

I have two more graphic novels to recommend (it's a long drive from lethbridge to edmonton). Both are by Craig Thompson: Blankets and Carnet de Voyage. Blankets is about his first love, reminds me a little of Unlikely and Clumsy, only not as sad (see November 9 and 27 posts). Carnet de Voyage is a sort of travel journal of his time in France, Spain and Northern Africa.
You can view his art and see panels from his books on his site.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

sucks:

i am on ground zero for the commercialism of Christmas, i'm a garbageman. there was twice as much garbage yesterday. i could go on, but that about sums it up.
and...
under-reported stories - hard evidence of the u.s. torturing prisoners ignored by corporate media, corporate media ownership, voter fraud, etc.
See: Project Censored

doesn't suck:

i heard "dj so-called" (Josh Dolgin). he samples almost exclusively from old albums of jewish music.
and a track from Petra Hayden's a capella version of the who's "the who sell out" album
matthew herbert's "hidden sugars" from "plat du jour". all sounds made on a coke can.

(all courtesy of CBC)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Us Little People


I just got this book out of the library and it's really cute. I think it almost has my husband wanting to convert. Carl Hiebert spent seven years befriending some Mennonite colonies in Ontario, after a hang-gliding accident left him paralyzed. They ended up trusting him enough to tell them some personal stories and let him photograph them sometimes, although it is frowned upon to have your picture taken. They say it promotes honoring a person instead of God. Here's a story from a 12 year-old girl that I thought was especially cute:
"The funniest thing that I ever heard is about a horse that bit off a Mennonite girl's braid. I imagine that she was just walking past a horse, and the horse decided that the braid looked delicious. Then, for awhile, she had just one braid. But now she is a grandmother with no braids. She still has the braid that the horse bit off. I sure hope that a horse will never bite my braid off!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Monday, December 19, 2005

mags

I've been poisoning my mind this year with a lot of gossip magazines. My husband gets them free from his work sometimes, so in my defence, I'm not actually purchasing them. I know way too much about Brad and Angelina's courtship and about Nick and Jessica's break-up. It's disgusting, especially since I could have been spending that time flipping through one of the really great magazines that he gets, like Mother Earth News.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

flakey

A snowflake under a microscope.

Here is a chance to make your own snowflake. Hours of fun for the whole family.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Alchemist



I finally started reading this last night. Paulo Coelho is so digestable. Maybe it is because it has been translated, but the writing isn't pretentious, it doesn't use unnecessarily complicated language. It's simple, yet it conveys a lively picture in your mind of what you are reading. The Alchemist is about a young man who has become a shepherd because he wants to travel. A series of omens leads him on a path to discover his "Personal Legend". Another book of his, Veronica Decides to Die, is one of my favorite. Anyone that I have recommended it to who has read it, agress that it is a wonderful book. His website: http://www.paulocoelho.com.br/engl/

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Stuart McLean


My husband and I had the opportunity to see Stuart McLean last night (of the Vinyl Cafe on CBC Radio). He is a storyteller/comedian. He likes to showcase young up-and-coming musical talents on these shows and one of these guys in particular was very good. His name is Owen Pallett aka Final Fantasy. He also sometimes plays with The Arcade Fire. He plays the violin and he uses a loop pedal to create several background tracks live, so it gets pretty intricate, and then he starts singing and his voice is beautiful. Here is another track of his. And a video. It was an engaging act, the best thing i have seen live in a while. The rest of the show was pretty entertaining as well, with an artist, Holly Carr, rapidly painting some back-lit silk panels as either Stuart McLean was talking or someone was playing. Stuart McLean makes me laugh. It was neat to see his eccentric physical mannerisms after only hearing his voice for so long.

PYONGYANG: A Journey in North Korea



This graphic novel is an account of the author, Guy Delisle's two months spent in North Korea, supervising an animation project. It gives a Westerner's perspective on a country devoid of all common sense, the result of totalitarian Communism and too much one-sided propaganda. I actually laughed out loud at one point, when a large group of children were throwing buckets of water on a lawn, watering it...just for "fun". There were "volunteers" sweeping the freeways, cutting the grass with scissors, among other mysterious acts, made to keep citizens out of trouble i suppose. The photograph above is probably the most ridiculous modern structure to my knowledge, the Ryugyong hotel. It was built in Pyongyang to host part of the Olympic trials in 1988 and they stopped working on it in 1989. It is over 1,000 feet tall and has 105 floors, and it is completely empty, just a concrete shell with no windows and there it will stand for who knows how long. Millions of dollars were spent building it while many of the local people were starving. The mysteries of humanity...

Monday, December 12, 2005

full circle


my parents used to make me listen to neil diamond when i was young and i went through a few stages with him including; ignorant acceptance, annoyance, hatred, curiosity, nostalgia and now, with the release of his new album, acceptance once again. in fact i bought it and i like it and not because it reminds me of the good old days of my childhood, but also because its catchy, real and raw. it would make a great christmas present for my parents... but i'm keeping it.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Christmas stories


Hi, I´m not reading a lot these days but I thought I should tell you about this book the Angel doll. My mom was reading it and told me the story, I picked it up and read the ending for myself. It´s not overly sentimental but I got tears in my eyes anyway. I´m not going to tell you what it is about its short so I recommend you read it if you can find it. It´s a really sweet Christmas story and brings a real feeling of hope for mankind to my heart. I generally think mankind as a whole is pretty hopeless but some individuals can make me forget that.
This author usually writes true crime.
Please tell me about some good Christmas stories that you know about, I´m a Christmas idiot and like everything Christmas.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

harry potter six


so i read harry potter and the half blood prince, thinking that i was going to be captured with all of the suspence the other books brought me. I was disappointed. there was too much silly dating and crushes on girls etc. i think i personally am beyond that so it meant to interest 16 yr old girls (go figure).it wasnt scary enough (i heard jk had to rewrite the scary parts out) and the plot which is supposed to be a cliffhanger turns out to be a collapsed bridge. poor harry. if book seven doesnt seriously redeem him im afraid his reputation might be shot.

Monday, December 05, 2005

El español


I have decided to learn Spanish. It's either that or take over the world. So I've decided to learn Spanish.

Friday, December 02, 2005

"without change..."

"...something within us sleeps. Awaken the sleeper." -Frank Herbert
Well I have become completely bored and constricted by the purpose of this blog so I am changing it to include, well...everything. So, fellow contributers, feel free to post whatever you please.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

book of mormon


i hope nobody minds that my first post is about a religious book. i dont want this to be used as a missionary oppurtunity, i just want to tell you what i am reading now. The Book of Mormon is a true account, written and compiled by christian prophets in the americas and their dealings with their families, governments and other waring tribes. i find the wars and other physical strife very metaphorical to my own spiritual wars and strife. there are some people or warriors whose bravery and integrity motivate me to take courage and be stronger. anyways, alot of people don't believe that this book is historcally accurate and it's difficult to read it as a fictional novel. however, if you do believe it, it is very hard to read only once because of the vast ammount of symbolism and personal revelation you can find.

Unlikely


Unlikely is another graphic novel(sometimes very graphic indeed), by Jeffrey Brown. It's the prequel to Clumsy. Like Clumsy, it is autobiographical, about a young relationship; a bit awkward, often pathetic. I felt a little uncomfortable and sorry for the guy. My husband read this right before I did and when he saw me reading it, shook his head and said "poor guy." But there was still something charming and cute about him. I think it was partly the honesty it was written with and also the style of his drawings. The expressions on their faces were very simple but the feelings they conveyed were quite strong. It left me wanting more again. The third and last book in the girlfriend series is called AEIOU. Jeffrey Brown has also done a parody of Clumsy called Be A Man, "full of typical male antics".

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Pnin

Well, I tried reading this book because someone's review of it intrigued me(see Nov.8 post). I got as far as page 36 and realized I was just torturing myself. Not everyone has the same taste in books.

Monday, November 21, 2005

LMNOP

I finished Ella Minnow Pea last night. It took a page or two for me to get used to the language of the Nollopians because they use so many words that I have never heard before. I had to kind of train myself to know the definition of words by the context they were used in. Then letters disappeared from the story altogether. My favorite was when the letter D was outlawed and they had to change the names of the week like satto-gatto for saturday or sunshine for sunday. It gave me a new awareness of words in the past few days. I noticed myself eliminating certain letters when thinking to myself for awhile after finishing the book. The political message of the book reminded me a lot of Animal Farm (by George Orwell); that too much power or control causes greed and corruption. What a satisfying read. Thanks Dagga, for the recommendation!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Publishing in Iceland


The Icelandic book catalog has made it´s way to all homes in Iceland, it is a yearly ritual to sit down with the catalog and decide whitch books you would like to read and mark the one you would like for Christmas in a way that members of your family can´t possibly miss.
Oh, the joy of the annual book catalog. This year it has over 600 titles, every book published in Icelandic this year.
40 original children books,
121 translated children books,
67 original fiction for adults,
70 translated fiction for adults,
36 poetry books (1 translated)
then there are the art and photagraphy books, biography - autobiography, interview books (always popular) history, geography, inspirational books, cookbooks and other misc. non-fiction.
A bit over the top for a population of 260.000.
My favorite Icelandic author Gyrðir Elíasson has 1 new collection of short stories, a book of poetry and a translation. It is actually one of the most interesting translation this year, Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, I have not read it in yet but I´m told that it is a wonderful story for both children and adults.
So many books so little time.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

finished!


I finished The Time Traveler's Wife. What an amazing story. The reviews I have read all seem to dwell on it as being a love story. But it's so much more than that. It's anything but Hollywood romance. It is actually a little bit sad, but I think that made it realistic. Obviously someone who travels through time and ends up naked in public places will have bad things happen to them. It was disturbing sometimes but not so much that I would cringe; pretty mild disturbances. I think my favorite parts were when the author described the wife, Clare, making her sculptures and other art. She described it as though the art was making itself. It was so graphic. I want to talk about it some more but I don't want to ruin it for anyone who has yet to read it. Audrey Niffenegger is also an artist. She does some pretty cool stuff. Her website: www.audreyniffenegger.com
She has a new book that was published this year, a "visual novel in eighty aquatints", The Three Incestuous Sisters. I am going to convince the head librarian here to order it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

for the love of graphic novels

I just read Clumsy tonight. It's by Jeffrey Brown. It's really cute and entertaining, and it only took about an hour to read. Aaah...the graphic novel. So satisfying, in so little time. It's like a cross between a movie and a book. It's not as lazy as a movie and you still get to use your imagination. Jeffrey Brown's site: www.theholyconsumption.com

a novel without letters


I read the most wonderful book last night, it is called Ella Minnow Pea and is a true adventure of letters and words. It is short, only took me a few hours to read so you English speaking people should be even quicker to read it.
It´s told in letters between people on a fictionary island nation of the shores of South Carolina. It´s almost an utopian society where technology is used sparely and arts and language held in the highest regard. Then one day for reasons I won´t go into (so as not to spoil the fun for you) the high council decide to outlaw the letter "Z" from the language. As you can see it leads to certain caos. Then one by one they outlaw more and more letters from the language. It is a true joy to read the letters between the people as they try to follow this new law and the book is a treasure for everyone that loves words and language. It is also a fable on how power can corrupte and really makes you think about how goverments in general hold power over theire people and how easy it is to abuse.
So, put it on your reading list.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Pnin


I'm not yet done The Time Traveler's Wife but I have decided that the next book I want to read is called Pnin. The author is Vladimir Nabokov. It's a novella (meaning short novel...good news for those of us who have little time to read). I don't know a lot about it but a review that I read intrigued me.
Here's the review (by Zadie Smith):
"This novella is explicitly a book about ridicule and caricature-Professor Pnin is a joke of a man on a college campus. He's an awkward Russian emigre with bad English, false teeth, a clumsy sense of humour, a tendency to burst into tears or take offence at small slights. Everybody on campus can do an impression of him. He's a clown. But at the core of the book is the idea that there is a Pnin who is as real as the people who ridicule him. You are invited to laugh at him, and then you are humbled and shamed by your own laughter. It's a gorgeous, hilarious, humane book that uncovers the reality of a man's life in sly, piecemeal fashion. I think it's my favorite novel."

If anyone wants to read this book with me and give your thoughts on it, please do! I love it when other people are reading the same book as me. It makes it feel like more of an event. I will probably start reading it when I get it in a week or two. So join me if you like. Your local library either has a copy or can probably bring it in for you.

Corine wants me to read another Paulo Coelho book with her sometime...maybe The Alchemist?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Kitty and the midnight hour

Hi, I just finished reading Kitty and the midnight hour, I liked it. It will never be confused with the great world literature but who cares. I like to call this sub-genre in fantasy/horror, vampire chick lit. they are always set in an alternate reality that is almost like ours but not quite. Kitty is a werewolf in the closet that hosts a late night radio show and starts to get phone calls from vampires and werewolves in need of advise. The plot is not terrible complicated but its enough to hold your interest through out the whole story and the characters could use a little bit more developing. But hey its fluff it´s not supposed to be complicated. I still like it, although for people starting out in this genre I would recommend Dead witch walking by Kim Harrison and Dead until dark by Charlaine Harris and the hilarious Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

the present

(re: The Time Traveler's Wife)
This novel is written in the present tense. It is really well done because I didn't actually notice the fact until last night! Writing in the present tense is a little more challenging. I remember trying to write a short story in junior high using present tense and it turned out sounding like I was trying too hard to be edgy or something. Anyway, it sucked. It was too obvious.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Cereus Blooms at Night


I read this novel about 5 years ago and have never forgotten it. It is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read, kind of magical. I decided today that I need to read it again sometime. Not many novels deserve that. I highly recommend this to anyone who is searching for a good book to read. The author is Shani Mootoo. This is her first novel. She is also a filmmaker and a painter. The painting on the cover is one of hers.

naked

(re: The Time Traveler' Wife)
Clare has quite the husband. Most couples, upon waking up in the morning, would discuss dreams they just had. Clare and Henry talk about where he went in time during the night. When Henry time travels, he is not able to take anything with him. That includes clothing, jewellery, filliings in his teeth...it makes for some interesting situations because he has no control over when and where he travels. He finds himself naked, whenever he goes. To survive these sticky situations, he quickly learns the tricks of thievery.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

les femmes

(re: The Time Travelers' Wife)
The author obviously is a fan of the Violent Femmes. The characters went to a concert and it reminded me so much of the one i went to in 2000. mmm...so good. They're dancing to "Gone Daddy Gone" and she says "The music is goading, mocking (I ain't had much to live for I ain't had much to live for I ain't had much to live for I ain't had much to live for). We throw ourselves at it. My body is elastic, my legs are numb, and a sensation of white heat travels from my crotch to the top of my head. My hair is damp ropes that cling to my arms and neck and face and back. The music crashes into a wall and stops." It's not necessarily amazingly written but it brought me back to the times that i have thrown my whole being into a Violent Femmes song.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Mr. Tickle and Mr. Grumpy










Remember those Mr. and Little Miss books by Roger Hargreaves? I just saw Mr. Grumpy in my son's book order form. I loved those guys! My favorite was Mr. Tickle, but now that I think about it, maybe he was kind of a creep. My nostalgic emotions almost made me buy the Mr. Grumpy book.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

time travel

Trying to fully comprehend the concept of time travel as it is layed out in this novel gives me what my husband refers to as "tetris brain". If anyone has ever played way too much tetris in one sitting, they know what i'm talking about. This guy, Henry, travels back in time, sometimes visiting his past self, hanging out. His body disappears from the present. It makes me wonder how many of him can time travel at once. This question has not been addressed in the book yet.
I just read a scene where his 38 year old self visited his 28 year old self. His 28 year old self was jealous of the older self because he was already everything that he was and more. Henry was concerned that his wife, Clare, (who is accustomed to his frequent disappearances and appearances) would prefer to spend time with his older self because they know each other better. He has been visiting her since she was 6; he was as old as 40. What would you do if you met your older self?

Friday, October 21, 2005

fiction

After a somewhat lame attempt at searching, I have come to the conclusion that the two previously mentioned books do not exist.
There have always been little tidbits of seemingly factual information in any of the Douglas Coupland novels I have read as well, and I always just assumed them to be actual factual. I believe it is time to reconsider these assumptions.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

skin


I am currently reading The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.


Page 130 mentions a book made out of human skin called The Chronicles of Nawat Wuzeer Hyderabed, found in the the palace of the King of Delhi in 1857. Page 131 mentions a cannibal cookbook called The Raw and the Cooked. I wonder if these are real books. I will investigate.