Archive for June, 2010

it’s a brickhouse

If they won’t buy you Lego, then you have to create your own building blocks:

I very much like this simple, austere structure that w. and Opa built in the backyard.  It has near symmetry, bricks stacked in different directions, organic colors that draw from the surroundings.  The tower actually reminds me of a Japanese temple with its simplicity and integration in the natural environment which is, sadly, something that Lego pieces can never quite capture.

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pangea–not just a baby name anymore

When I was pregnant with my second child, my husband used to spend his commute to work brainstorming ideas for baby names.  Two of his favorites (which strangely didn’t make the final cut) were Persephone (“We can call her ‘Phone’ for short!”) and Pangaea.  So, any news story that mentions the supercontinent immediately commands my attention.

Enter NPR this evening.  Apparently there is a gentleman who is making it his goal to lengthen the Appalachian Trail.  As if the AT  just wasn’t long enough, he wants it to reflect the original mountain chain back before Pangaea broke apart and went its separate ways.  At first, you have to laugh at this plan.  How can you through hike a trail that crosses the Atlantic?  But then you start to see the brilliance of it–a fresh challenge, a new level of logistics and planning, the gift of an unexpected sequel.  And, honestly, after hiking on the vista-less tunnel that the AT can be at times, who wouldn’t want to spend a week or so on Scotland’s West Highland Way?

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maybe i need a vacation?

It’s summer and you are supposed to want to read crappy novels, right?  Right? Even if you aren’t headed to the beach or the pool, I am hoping that it’s still acceptable to reach for the mystery over the higher-brow fiction, right?  Right?  As validation of my recent reading selections, I am clutching to the fact that at least npr sees fit to publish a list of top crime novels on their website.  Yes, I’ll grasp at whatever literary straw I can find.

Well, looking at my list of books that I have read over the past year (and yes, I do keep a list of what I read along with what I hope are pithy reviews but actually are just embarrassing exercises due to their lack of any true value and coherence), I have noticed a few trends:

#1.  I have actually done a good job of reading selections for my book clubs although I have not necessarily  finished them on time.  Sorry, book club members.  I am trying.

#2.  There are a whole lotta mysteries on my list.

#3.  There are a whole lotta books on my list that are NOT set in the United States.

A rudimentary analysis of the 51 books that I remembered to record on my reading list in the last 12 months shows that 72% of the books that I read (discounting the ones set in the future in indeterminate locales) were set somewhere else around the globe.  The only conclusion worth drawing?  I am desperate for a true traveling vacation and reading these books is the next best possible thing.

Granted, I could probably find much more atmospheric, travel-oriented writing than the stories of Andrea Camilleri, Hakan Nesser, Marjane Satrapi, Mohammed Hanif, Stieg Larsson, or Donna Leon that I’ve been reading, but then the stories would be a chore, and frankly, after tending to two little preschoolers all day long, my brain is fried.  Melted. Worn out.  Drained.  So, I’ll take my mysteries and graphic novels and continue my little sojourns into Sweden and Sicily and Iran and pretend for a moment or two that it’s not the muggy North Carolina summer outside sucking out my energy and ambition but it’s the damp winter chill of Venice making me want to hole up inside with a fun book…

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my new favorite

I love myself a list and I love myself some books.  Here’s my new favorite way to combine the two and keep up on what’s being read in the Bull City.  I especially enjoy the kids booklist–yep, we’ve checked a few of those out in our time as well…

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but what would federer look like as a lego man?

This just might be the kind of soccer highlights that Americans (and 4 year old kids) can get into.

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nothin’s gonna stop me now

So, after an intense four hours or so of reading, I just finished up this month’s book club selection.  Two weeks early.  A personal best.  Of course, it does help that this month’s book was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie.  A book for juveniles.  A book that clocked in at 229 pages.  But still, I finished it.  Early.  I am taking that as a victory no matter what.

And I very, very much enjoyed this novel.  The main character of Junior/Arnold was compelling and endearing and heartbreaking at times.  His story, while painful and sad at times, wasn’t a downer; he didn’t dwell.  Moments straight out of an afternoon teen special (see the second basketball game) were tempered by insights into Junior’s culture and himself.

The most hilarious part of reading the novel though?  Being eerily reminded of the movie “Smoke Signals” throughout the novel only to look up Sherman Alexie and realize that he wrote the screenplay for the movie.  Quick as a fox, I am.  Sharp as a tack.

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