Les Semaines

January 4, 2004

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: old journal


2004 is Cold

Dammit, but this week has been cold. We've had a little snow but it hasn't stuck. Mostly it has been windy and icy cold. January with a vengeance.

The night before New Year's Eve it did snow and even stuck on the ground, and everyone was asleep but Jim and I decided to walk around the neighbourhood a little. Streetlights and falling snow. No cars around and few other footprints in the snow. Lovely.

But it melted by morning. And then it was just cold again, not cold and pretty.

Christina and I did a lot of shopping. We went to Northgate Mall, where Christina was bemused by North American culture. The lights! The substanceless design of it all! All the stuff for sale! The image it presents of what people are supposed to want and need! The posturing and posing! It is indeed a strange world and one that I am very rarely part of. She kept asking me to explain it and I'm afraid I can't. I don't know how to explain it in a positive way because it's not my world. I can't readily put my head in the mindframe of those for whom a mall like that is important. There are big things I just ignore about the culture around me. It's easy, because I don't watch commercial TV or listen to commercial radio. I work in a place relatively full of counter-culture folk, both at the university and at Clarion West. I only have one friend who is a Republican, and boggle at what seem to me his crazy notions--but they're the notions of a huge number of people in this country, and mostly people who are far more powerful and privileged than those around me. Or are far less privileged and seem to me to think that allying themselves with the Republicans will gain them power and privilege or religious salvation. I listen to them speak and read or hear what they say and I can't fathom it. I just can't believe they're quite real, that they can honestly believe in what they're saying. But I know they do. Sadly, they do. And right now they're running the joint. That scares me.

We had a quiet New Year's. I think we were watching an ancienct Doctor Who tape we'd taped back in the day. And maybe drinking some Bailey's. Whoop!

And my revels now are ended: back to work on Monday.

I've gone back to my old design--something about last years wasn't working for me and I haven't had time to work out a new one.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


We have a new Tara Fuki album! I ordered it for Jim for Christmas. It's offbeat and wonderful, like their first. They are cellists from the Czech Republic, and they do with their cellos what Iva Bittova does with her violin. Wait, maybe all Czech music is this cool. But it couldn't be--there's nothing quite like this. It's on the verge of being experimental but it's always melodic. The vocals are edgy but highly listenable. This is so hard to describe, but so enjoyable.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Kij Johnson's Fudoki is the story of a Japanese princess looking back on her circumscribed life at court. She's ill, dying, and begins to tell the tale of tortoiseshell cat who is one of the first cats in Japan. During an earthquake the cat's home and the rest of her family are killed and she is frightened away and gets lost--and feels doubly lost because there is no one of her family line with her family stories--she has no story anymore and doesn't know who she is (the author calls this story fudoki). She begins to travel down a road away from the city when one of the local gods turns her into a woman. The story alternates between the princess telling bits of her own tale and the cat/woman's adventures as she travels far from court into the wilder lands of medieval Japan. A lovely, captivating tale with characters that stick in my mind. Highly recommended. (See my March 12, 2000 entry for my comments on her first novel.)

Hilary McKay is a young adult novel writer well-known in Britain, but not in the U.S. This surprises me, because Saffy's Angel would, I think, do quite well here. This is the story of a young girl in a rather fun and unconventional family of artists who suddenly discovers she is adopted. This revelation brings forth a memory of a stone angel that was somehow "hers" and the family decides to help her go and find it. Charmingly written.

last week's reading § next week's reading


No time time time.

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Retrospective Journal

The Retrospective Journal is on hiatus while I catch up.

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