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Les Semaines

99.06.13

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout

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Driftwood Sailor

Sunday night at the Graham/Gurley household. It's June, so even though it's nearly 9:00 the sun is still shining, though it's low enough that it's starting to cool down outside--it's just a bright clouded ball behind the houses across the next street. The breeze is slowing a little. Birds are talking it up out there. I'm in my dark green study, typing and listening to lamb's fear of fours. The front window is open; the alley side window open just few inches because the wind is more than I want on my arms. The study is a mess of things I'm trying to get ready before Monday. The lilacs outside that window are golden with the setting sun and the brown colour they're turning. Just a week ago they were bright white and brought a heavenly scent into my study.

Still there are the roses outside Jim's study. He's in there. It's a dull blue and needs paint but he can't decide what colour he wants it so it remains dull blue. He's working on a poem. I have no idea if it's one he wrote today or an older one. He's been hidden in there most of the day except when he goes downstairs to check the laundry. He hears the machines better than I do because his desk is above our laundry area. Most of the laundry is finished: he's put clean sheets on the bed, a clean tablecloth on the table in the dining room, and most of the clothes are already put away except a last load in the dryer and several things hanging downstairs to dry.

The cats are sleeping in the living room, full of cat crunch and bits of chicken from the dinner I cooked. I made a chicken with rice dish that my mother used to make when I was a kid--comfort food, though for no special reason.

One set of neighbours had loud guests over. One set of neighbours were helping their little boy ride his trike up and down the alley. Two little girls were on the corner trying to sell Koolaid to passers by, yelling "Fifty cents a glass" over the wind of the passing cars.

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

Listening

A bona fide musical obsession this week, which Jim will happily complain about--he can't stand it how I can listen to one disc 20 times in a row when it's new and I'm obsessed with hearing and hearing and hearing it.

Anyway, the current obsession is Kym Brown's pygmalion. Kym Brown was a website if you want to hear some Real Audio samples and hear what I've been listening to (warning--her website design is awful, and the samples are far far to the right of the window--you may need to force a new window open to see the links or move part of your window off-screen, which is what I did, bless Macs). This isn't pretty pop, though Kym Brown has a clear pretty voice--she writes dark-ish, tough-ish songs (with pretty moments and plenty of auditory hooks so it's not difficult listening that way), most of the vocals are doubletracked with a distorted tracks, and there are all kinds of fascinating samples and noises, including theramin. Hard to think of comparisons--I guess the closest I can get is to Holly McNarland. FYI, she's Canadian and this is a self-release, so it's going to be hard to find other than in Vancouver. Worth the effort, though, well worth the effort.

We bought several new discs this week since we were shopping around and I found a couple of sampler things I've been curious about, but Kym Brown is what I've been listening to. The new lamb is finally here, so I expect it will shortly have some competition for my disc player.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Kid's books this week. I began with Theresa Tomlinson's The Forestwife, a kind of Maid Marian retelling, though with little focus on the Robin Hood side of things, and somewhat realistically based, though I had trouble believing that so large a community permanently settled in the woods wouldn't be discovered, but anyway--I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't call it a keeper. Good thing I got it for $1.00 at the library sale.

Also read Vivian Vande Velde's The Conjurer Princess and The Changeling Prince. Like The Forestwife I got quite caught up in them but don't think I'll read them again. They were fun once, though. I'd say The Changeling Prince was the better of the two, and a little more interesting given the psychology of the main character, who had spent much of his life as a wolf. He wasn't a werewolf but was the slave of a sorceress.

Next was Patricia Wrightson's The Nargun and The Stars, and intriguing tale of an orphan who is taken in by distant relations in the Australian Outback. The new family quickly finds themselves caught up in trying to get rid of the Nargun, a disturbing ancient stone-like beast that has settled in their land. There's some interesting interaction between the humans and various trickster spirits, and I liked this but it was too matter-of-fact for me. I kept thinking the boy didn't mourn his parents and settled in too quickly and while he found the trickster spirits strange and wonderful he wasn't quite in awe enough of what had happened for it to really feel magical.

I followed those with the second Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This was very much like the first in the series--quite fun and very plot-driven, with fun imaginative parts. J.R. Rowling's work reminds me so much of one of my favourite authors, Diana Wynne Jones, that sometimes it feels as though she's got her hands in Jones' pockets, but she does have her own imagination. These books are fun, and I know that I will re-read them sometime. They're lighter than most of Jones' books (though not all) and I would say Jones' work strikes more of a chord in me (I like darkness and depth) but these are entertaining and I recommend them.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

I'm trying to figure out if I can get one of my short stories completed before we leave for Turkey so I can have at least one piece of fiction out there.

And I realized I have a grant deadline before we leave. Sigh. Luckily it's one that doesn't require much writing.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

February 1976

[Some of the following entries refer back to last week's Phonosnout]

226. Letter to Shaun

Hate to say, but the ultimate dream of this aardwolf is to become and old aardwolf. I shall subsist on a diet of lettuce and Kraft's Diet Coleslaw dressing.1 Perhaps a case of delicious apples would be okay, too. You may be a rasampus if you like (even though you wouldn't exist in dictionaries). Whatever you want is fine. I'll visit you on my way to the sea to see Janine. Please don't be too fierce with me. I want to be an aardwolf because aardwolves are cute. Are rasampus(es?) rasampi?

227. Letter to Janine

Anytime you like you may save your sanity with this book. Just remember--to save sanity don't read it. Just write. Reading it is guaranteed to stretch sanity past breaking point. If you're feeling terribly strong and secure, read on. I'm very sympathetic to your desire to become a seagull. I would, but i have the feeling i'd make a rotten driftwood sailor. On my journeys as an aardwolf i shall come and visit you. I will not visit you if you are an Anglo-Saxon (they have been said to be great aardwolf hunters). There fore, see you sometimes as a seagull (and perhaps in English Literature).

228. Letter to me.

I would write a letter to Mark or Laura, but i decided not to. What can you say to someone who doesn't know what an aardwolf is? Laura will learn the hard way. Very shortly she will become half-owner of an aardwolf. Possession will be shared with Peter, her other (better?) half. So, anyway, this is a letter to me, and i can say anything i want but i don't want to, so bye bye.

229. A Letter to Janine by Mark

Analysing your previous statements it is my opinion that deep down you would not care to pursue academic goals but rather pursue the kind of activities that are the search of all today's youth. That being: supreme freedom. It is my hope that through much searching you will alight on a career that comes very close to this. And as you pas through eternity you will not standing the shadows as so many have done, but through the sun's rays of vision you will stand out and be recognized, as a person among people, one at peace with your mind.

230. Still by Mark

I would like to be a garbage can lid or a toothpick. That way I could meet people and help them. Rather than be either, I will probably have to be a lawyer or an indian chief, depending on my economic stability or personal racial heritage. Maybe I will join the faculty of kooky medicine and become another Dr. Suess. However, that wouldn't be so good because I might not like gree eggs and ham and my mother isn't a Snort! My hero is the coyote from the Bugs Bunny Road Runner Hour, and I wish Warner Bros. would make just one cartoon where he catches that roadrunner and kills it. Another thing I would like to see if one of Marcus Welby's patients knock off and ruin his sugary medical program. I would like to see a McDonald's commercial where Ronald McDonald eats a Big Mac and really tells what it's all about. And another one where the only relief you get from aspiring is the stomach cramps you get that make you forget your lousy headache. The End.

231. Whatever

Mark, you're babbling, and worse than that, you're coherent! That's is disgusting and altogether unallowable. Go 'way. Here, meaning in this book, it is not allowed to babble coherently. You must babble nonsense or not at all. How terrible. I think i want to go home, but whatever. I'm getting more incoherent minute by minute. F'rout.

232. Oh dear

I've don't it again. I'm terribly messed up. Can't keep my mind straight. I guess i'm looking (i was looking for a home and i found a home--the Seed) (i was looking for a friend and i found a friend--±) Now i guess i'm looking for my rhyme and my reason. So little time... and right now i'm just so tired, all i want to do is sleep. Like, for a couple of days (and nights and days and...). I don't know much for certain, meaning facts, and i wish i could figure out what is happening. ("All i know is Jesus Christ, and him crucified for me."2) That's all.


NOTES

1. Wow, just typing the name I can taste it again: weird, sweet, chemical.

2. This must be a line from a hymn.

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