Thursday, February 28, 2008
The title, Beginner's Greek, made me realize why I loved the movie The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) so much. It's a movie about a Stasi surveillance of a GDR playwright. But the Stasi guy intervenes at certain points and (I'm not giving too much away) the whole reason for the surveillance is so that another Stasi guy can make a less contested play for the playwright's girlfriend. And because of Beginner's Greek, I noticed that the story was very much like a Greek tragedy: a god wants to have sex with a mortal and gets other, lesser gods, to intervene in the mortals' lives, but someone messes with fate with unforseen, not happy (sorry, those of you who haven't seen it yet) consequences.
Rent the movie.
Don't bother with the book, unless you want my copy. I'll be giving it away shortly.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
On the other hand, he keeps asking me when the Stripes movie is coming out.
Not to be daunted by his probable disappointment, I think he's ready for a Bill Murray Early Works Festival.
It's actually quite pitiful that the only Bill Murray movie he's seen is Garfield.
(And a bit of Ghostbusters, but don't tell.)
Monday, February 25, 2008
We were late because the bus we took didn't show up at the usual 2:30, but rather at 2:4something. And it was late because the bus driver was extremely timid, which meant that the rest of the ride we were not gaining any time. There were more than usual passengers at each stop and the time between each stop was... ech.
You know how they say your blood boils? Well that's exactly what it feels like when you're stuck in a situation beyond your control and you know there's nothing you can do about it.
In Berlin, I remember, cars have to yield to a bus pulling out of a bus stop and I'm guessing it's the same here, but this guy let everyone ahead of him.
But what am I going to do with a nervous driver, bus driver no less: tease him? call him names?
So we were late.
On the way to the playdate, on a different bus, I got lectured by the bus driver for not holding Coco's hand and yanking him from the curb as the bus was approaching. He was a bit of a lurchy driver and it really would have been prudent to not have us all head to the bus just because it had stopped near the curb. Apparently he felt the need to jostly his steed a little closer to the actual bus stop sign.
Having some experience with other, especially older, people lecturing me about what to do with my kids, I said, "Thank you, that's a good idea."
But for some reason that just made him angrier.
And I tried so hard to sound sincere.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Now I wonder what the readouts look like for going face first down a big snow pile or making a snowman and karate-chopping it to bits or peeing in a snowbank.
In case you're wondering: we put the recording device in a backpack and the leads and mesh hat under a regular hat. He looked like an astronaut with a ponytail of wires going from the "oxygen tank" to the "helmet."
We just need to get all the coats dried before it's time to head to the city to get things taken off.
We're doing it ("he" is doing it, really, though we're all involved) to learn things - mostly because it's been a year or so since he had one, but also because there've been some falls we haven't been sure of. So far we learned that Madge talks nonstop when she's stressed. We've also learned that Coco can count backwards from nineteen quite accurately and silently. There are nineteen leads attached to his head. While they were being put on, we were trying to keep the mood light by chatting. Every once in a while he'd pipe up with how many were on or how many were left. And each time he was right on the nose.
To top things off, today would be a great day to be outside since it's the first real snow all winter (and it's not likely to last). But the recording device is a bit unwieldy and I think Coco doesn't want to be seen. I have a picture which I can send to you, but, again, I'm not sure he wants it publicized. So feel free to email me if you want to see a little guy with a bunch of wires sticking out of his scalp.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Smug little bastard, isn't he? But you'd be, too, if you could come up with aphorisms like he did.
Here are a few on gratitude, by the Duc de la Rochefoucauld (pictured).
Gratitude is like commercial good faith: it keeps trade going, and we pay up, not because it is right to settle our account but so that people will be more willing to extend us credit.
Not all those who repay debts of gratitude can flatter themselves that by so doing they are being grateful.
Th deficit in the amount of gratitude we expect for kindnesses done is due to the pride of both the giver and receiver, for they fail to agree upon the value of the kindness.
And, in my opinion the best:
Over-eagerness to repay a debt is in itself a kind of ingratitude.
With that in mind, I'd like to thank all my readers.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
It may have been pretty scary for Madge, too, because she wasn't too upset about going home. And her other choice - that she finish the movie while Coco and I wait in the hallway - didn't please her at all. So we'll try again another day, without the young'un.
And it wasn't the main bad creature that scared him. It was the house creature who seems basically good except when he gets cranky and turns into something green and bad. Maybe that character cut too close to home for Coco.
Monday, February 18, 2008
I don't get into Manhattan much, so I still feel oogly about it. It was breezy and drizzly and I was making my way across the street when my iPod, in its infinite wisdom, swelled with Nelson Riddle strings which introduced Ol' Blue Eyes.
There's something special about Sinatra when your tie is flapping in the wind.
Friday, February 15, 2008
When I take out my contacts, I let the water just dribble into the sink, which makes the cat show up and drink.
Madge loves to be nice to the cat.
The sink in that bathroom doesn't have an overflow drainage hole near the top. The overflow drain is, in effect, the staircase.
Luckily I caught it before the water made it past the door.
The floor and the towels needed washing anyway.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Unfortunately for me, the Joyce chapter is on Ulysses (which the book puts in quotes rather than italics indicating what? it's just an overgrown poem or short story?), not Dubliners.
Still the introductory chapter is interesting and the concluding one promises to be (haven't gotten there yet).
To save you some reading: It appears that there's been stylistic ping-pong going on in literature as well as the other arts. Objectivism - subjectivism; rules - no rules; filtered - hand-rolled; call it what you want. Wilson uses the terms Classicism - Romanticism. Works for me. But he complicates things by saying that French literature is generally Classical and English is generally Romantic and therefore their incursions on the other side of the pendulum swing seem like childish attempts at the style/form. Which is how you end up with a sentence like this one:
Two of the Symbolist poets, Stuart Merrill and Francis
Viele-Griffin, were Americans who lived in Paris and wrote French; and an American, reading to-day the latter's "Chevauchee d'Yeldis," for example, may wonder how, when Symbolism was new, such a poem could ever have been regarded as one of the movement's acknowledged masterpieces: to us, it seems merely agreeable, not in the least revolutionary or novel, but like something which might not impossibly have been written by Thomas Bailey Aldrich if he had been influenced by Browning.
So it turns out Dubliners is a sort of ultra-naturalism as transported from France to Ireland, written quite exquisitely but without much of a point except to expose tiny alterations in the characters' approaches to life without commenting upon said alterations - transformations is too strong a word.
No real ha-ha today except maybe this.
One of the movements identified was the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
In a forward-looking way (unlike them, in other words), I might call myself Pre-Madgeite or Pre-Cocoite. Which has the better ring?
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Just after she had put on the snow pants (snowboard pants, technically), I had looked at her and thought, "cute, she's got a bit of a tushie in this thing." So her timing of the question was really superb. Because, really, whenever someone asks the question, the honest answer is usually yes, if not "what do mean, these pants?"
And then, of course, Madge was amazed that I ran to my desk to jot down some notes so I wouldn't forget the date or the question. And afterwards she kept peppering me with, "You mean all women ask this?"
It's a good thing, by the way, that we took the sled out again yesterday, because the snow has already disappeared. I'm feeling ripped off here in New York.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Mark your calendars. Apparently, eight-and-a-half is when it starts. She put on her new snow pants today because it finally snowed. The shirt that carried over from her school outfit didn't work, so she changed it and looked at herself in the mirror.
Then she turned to me and said, in all seriousness,
"Do these pants make my butt look big?"
What?!? I thought I had another four years or so!
But enough about me...
zing! (see, even my comedic inclinations are getting rusty)
Madge really hasn't been feeling well, so much so that she just stayed in her top bunk during Coco's birthday party. But she started rereading the Pullman series (His Dark Materials) and is upset that there are only three books in the trilogy. See, she's seen Star Wars and therefore doesn't really know that trilogy has something to do with the number three.
Just wait till she sees the Godfather movies and understands that trilogy really means two.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Thursday, February 07, 2008
See, because of him, I now need a new desk chair.
His fur blends in with the pillow I have on the chair, and in order to avoid making a cat pancake as I sat down (without looking first, but why would I?) I contorted myself and the loose chair arm to such a degree that something snapped.
Luckily it wasn't any of my or the cat's limbs.
But now, as I said, I need a new desk chair.
(I can hear Julie saying "Finally!" as she's reading this.)
See, our cat:
eats all of his food at once
drinks from the toilet
wants you to scratch his belly
chases his tail
plays fetch with thrown toy mice
even drops the fetched mice at your feet to play again
is happy to see people
mounts visitors' legs (okay, maybe not this one)
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Coco: Look, I found a nickel!
Mommy: Where did you find it?
Coco: By your bed.
Mommy: Well, then you can keep it.
Coco: I got a nickel!
Madge [rolling eyes, older-sistery]: That's not a nickel; it's just a penny.
Coco [skipping down hallway, sing-song]: A penny! A penny!
Monday, February 04, 2008
The eyes were very dark blue and steady. Their gaze began with a defiant note but was confused by what seemed a deliberate swoon of the pupil into the iris, revealing for an instant a temperament of great sensibility.
"Deliberate swoon" - awesome.
Friday, February 01, 2008
I was also annoyed by the constant quotation of Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun in the soundtrack. Oh, well.
Then I started Now, Voyager, which I've always wanted to see and still do, but the whole thing was too late and I got irritated by the overly fake ocean-cruise scene. They could have just had a white backdrop with the words "We're on an ocean now" and it would have been just as believable.