Thursday, June 18, 2009

a passel of book reviews

*insert ongoing lament borne of frustration from the finite amount of time we are granted by the vagaries of physics* aw, fug goes:

i've been SO BUSY! there's so much to do! i'm calling contractors of all stripes and persuasions. the dotytron and i have split the work down the middle: i'm dealing with lawyer, bank, HVAC, realtor, general contractos and electrical; he's taking on plumbing, roof, home insurance.

it's exhausting. not only do we have to line people up to get quotes, we ALSO have to become fairly adept at figuring out the actual appliances in question and doing the pricing of them to make sure we're not getting taken for a ride. SO MUCH MATHS, PEOPLE. I'M NOT GOOD AT THE MATHS. i get confused when people count back the change to me to make up the denomination i gave them. i HATE that. just tell me how much change you're giving back to me! don't take me back on the journey to a whole number! so we're trying to decide whether to get a high efficiency furnace (more up front, savings down the line that we may or may not reap the benefits of) or a medium efficiency one, and learning about AFUEs and all sorts of dual/single/variable fan nonsense. then you have to add in the a/c, the hot water heater, ducts for the dryer, etc. etc.

add to that sorting out hawaii restaurants, figuring out disney stuff, whittling down our worldly possessions and attempting to scale the GREAT RE-ORG OF AUGHT 9, staying on top of craigslist for cheap things that we're going to need in the new place, keeping a mental tally of stuff we're going to need to buy/procure from ikea, etc., all my stupid woodworking projects, researching a used car (!!!!!), getting slowly packed up, still doing stuff with friends and family, the performance details, being active, dodgeball, cooking, eating outside, and the usual run-of-the-mill life stuff and before you know it you're going to sleep way past your bedtime because you can't let go of the fact that the DAY IS ALREADY DONE and you're due to get up and start all over again in SIX HOURS but g-d it, you're going to get some reading in because if you don't have time to read 'the time traveller's wife' then what the hell point is all this anyway?

it probably doesn't help that i've set impossible goals and i'm trying to cram in EVERY re-org thing that's been sitting on my back burner for who knows how long. like, selecting photos for printing and then organizing them into albums. like, re-labeling all our orphan (caseless) cds and burned dvds and putting them into a new container. like, putting all my dry goods into glass jars and labeling them. like, sifting through all our vinyl and selling the ones we don't want to keep. like, archiving all my tapes and putting them into mp3 format. OY. OY. OY.

last night was knit night. H and that guy and baby D hosted. they served us seitan (homemade!) slathered in bbq and smushed up with coleslaw bound with vegan mayonnaise in a bun. it was good! we also had sweet potato fries and regular potato fries with vegan mayonnaise for dipping and a big salad. my contribution was tofutti cuties ice cream sammies. they have a new "key lime" flavour that everyone hated but me (i thought they tasted like creamsicles). we watched "so you think you can dance" and talked about popular culture and knitted (me) and griped about how hard knitting is (everyone else). it was fun! a near perfect evening.

so the performance invites were sent on their merry way a couple of nights ago and by now have safely arrived in the bosom(s) of their intended recipients. they turned out pretty cutesy. i didn't mean to! i honestly didn't! but somehow, i'm always drawn towards the hopelessly twee and juvenile and other soft, round, adorable things that a girl nearing 30 should probably be keeping a safe distance from. this is the sticker that went on the envelopes (i bought lovely translucent vellum envelopes from my go-to card store):

and this is a version of what was contained therein (identifying information has been removed to protect the innocent from the int3rwebs):

the pictures of us will be a recurring theme on the printed matter, along with the hand drawn purple hearts (for valor, the dotytron's, for the courage to saddle himself with me for LIFE). even though they're kind of sickeningly cutesy...i do find them rather dear. i mean, it's not like i have a background in graphic design or like, letterpressing or anything like that. it's as me as i could make it.

tonight for dinner i made us reuben sammies with leftover st. paddy's day corned beef i had frozen and defrosted and sliced thin, sandwiched between sturdy sunflower rye bread along with sauerkraut and swiss cheese. we had barely any thousand island dressing left so i just tapped it all into a ramekin and we dipped into it. i also made a quickie coleslaw to go with. i was looking forward to this meal ALL DAY and it did not disappoint, no sir.

i guess it's about time i started plowing through some of my book reviews. goes:

i stumbled upon jason lutes' "berlin: city of smoke (book 2)" while browsing the comics section on a library run with the dotytron. i devoured it and then went back for "berlin: city of stones (book 1)" jason lutes is a startling talent with a clear, drawing style that pulls personalities and characters from a stark collection of black and white lines. the two part series traces the rise of the nazi party in berlin and follows a motley cast of characters that exemplify the pre-war, cosmopolitan, glittering excesses of the city, always undercut with the seething discontent that gave rise to fascist xenophobia. it's always fascinating to see how a city makes this kind of transition. how it goes from being home to josephine baker, old world architecture, and a cocaine-fueld libertine arts community; to a repressive, fearful, acquiescence to brute force and class-propelled stratification.

"city of stones" leads up to a may day workers riot that leads to the military opening fire on the civilians, and "city of smoke" picks up shortly thereafter, following the characters from book 1 as they stumble towards the grim reality of a country gripped by inflation, deprivation, and the looming spectre of war. i couldn't put it down.

"jar of fools" is a sad little story about a failed magician, haunted by the suicide of his brother, who casts his lot in with a barely-scraping-by grifter and his young daughter. this book too is suffused with an almost unbearable, quiet sadness. it's filled with hopelessness as you watch these invisible denizens, so detached from the ordinary world, find connectivity amongst each other. the dotytron kept catching me reading it before bed and would chastise me for reading sad-sack comics. i didn't like "jar of fools" as much as the berlin series. there was no historical hook to maintain my interest in the sad stories.

i followed that up with g.b. trudeau's "the long road home: one step at a time" which is a doonsebury comic collection. i don't generally read doonsebury comics - i grabbed this one in the same run that yielded the jason lutes discovery above. it's follows the doonsebury character b.d. and his recovery from a debilitating injury suffered in the iraq war. he spends his time at a recovery centre and the comic draws attention to fisher house, which from what i understand is a facility near hospitals where the families of recovering war vets are stationed, while they recover from their injuries. the comedy is biting and dark - revealing the hidden cost of the war and the psyches that come out of it as damaged as the bodies that house them. the book deftly sidesteps parsimonious, liberal hand-wringing and is all the more powerful for its refusal to take cheap, bi-partisan shots.

that's enough typing out of me for one day. i'm going to give myself tonight off (well, after i wax my 'stache, measure furniture to upload into our online floor planner, and select pictures for printing) and bury my nose in "the time traveler's wife" which my sister got me hooked on.


1 comment:

christina said...

the invitations are AMAZING!

nice work.