Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Decision

I just decided it would be a shame if I neglected this blog as I have for the past several weeks for the rest of the school year. It's gotten me through 3 years so far, it probably will get me through 1 more, which is more than I can say for some pieces of IKEA furniture. So here it goes: a concerted effort to be more consistent.

Last week I started working at the Special Collections in my library, shoved into the final push of setting up for an exhibition. Which means a lot of caption making. Have you ever thought about what goes into making those labels on walls next to pieces of art? Those small, unassuming, innocuous little pieces of paper most people ignore and tell you what's up about the art? No? I always assumed they were printed directly onto the board and then put up without much to-do about the whole thing. SO WRONG. It involves sweat, blood, sacrifice, x-acto knifes, pins, hot glue guns, and the occasional armed, escaped criminals. After the 3rd day of x-acto knifing I noticed there was something wet all over my hand. Oh! I said to myself, I guess I just popped that blister I got from holding my x-acto for three days straight in the same manner!

And then school started.

So the exhibit is up, school's started, as has Dancing with the Stars. In spite of the massive amount of stuff I have to finish for my BA for Saturday (like, oh, figure out what I will write?), life is looking pretty good for the time being.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Return

I always thought that being the proud owner of a busted-looking passport would mean that I had had, at one point, an awesome vacation or that I had lived on "the edge." That the passport had followed me out the hatch of a plane 3,000,000 feet above the ground going at 7,000 mph while headed directly for the summit of some mountain, that it had accompanied me while I jumped out of burning buildings, or that it had been with me while I fought my way out of quicksand. Even though I continued to be the owner of a stubbornly crisp and flat passport, I had amazing vacations which I do not have to describe at this time.

I'm happy to say that since surviving Costa Rica my passport has assumed an entirely new form, due to being soaked through at least 2 times. You see, after getting the world's most ominous talk upon renting a car with Diana from the rental car manager who made it seem as if we wouldn't even be able to drive out of the parking lot without totaling the car and that it was a done deal we'd get something stolen from the car, I decided to carry my passport with me at all times, even when I went on a guided tour through a cloud forest at night when I went diving with at least 75 sharks in pitch blackness with an open, bleeding wound, without a cage or an oxygen tank.

(Beat that, Indiana Jones)

In any case, I can now proudly present a more or less thoroughly wrinkled passport to the officials if I ever have to cross borders. And if any of them ask what happened to it, I'll tell them it fell into the toilet.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

In this post, I give away the end of a book

Before I leave for my travels each summer, my friend Rory and I usually go book shopping where he recommends for me several good books and I try to scare up one good book that I've read that isn't from high school or isn't entitled something like Nancy Drew and the Mystery of Lilac Ranch. I usually leave the bookstore with a magnificent selection of books that I can hardly wait to begin, and he leaves with books he doesn't care about. This is one of the differences between creative writing majors and art history majors.

This year, however, was different. This year, I didn't go home to be sheltered in the literary wing of Rory under the glow of the Barnes and Noble lights. No, I had to be content with a hurried recommendation via phone as Rory hurried off to some concert, and he got no book recommendation at all because my reading material for the summer looked something like Winslow Homer: Artist and Angler, Winslow Homer, Winslow Homer: The Nature of Observation, or The Watercolors of Winslow Homer, none of which I believe would appeal to Rory Kelly.

This year the book title I was able to weasel out of Rory was As She Climbed Across the Table, which I went and bought the other day and finished in about 24 hours, not because it was good but because, ala The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it was that bad and I figured it should be like ripping off a bandaid. Just do it in one fell swoop. The book was littered with obvious metaphors that would drive the point home without a shadow of a doubt (which I hate) and with nearly every sentence I felt like I could see the author sitting at his computer thinking "This sentence is going to be beautiful because I am going to create a beautiful image in it using beautiful words." It felt like it was being written for high school students whose sole purpose in being in a literature class (and therefore, their goal in life) is to find the allusions, alliterations, imagery, metonymy, and so on and so forth, in a book.

To spare everyone the time, the book is about a physicist who falls in love with a man-made universe called Lack. Her boyfriend tries to win her back, but in the end what happens is he crawls into Lack, becoming Lack itself, and the physicist girlfriend ends up crawling into Lack because she's still in love with Lack. The boyfriend BECOMES Lack, ironically becoming what he lacks and what the girlfriend wanted in him! DO YOU GET IT? The metaphors and messages can unfortunately be carried in such a fashion to no end. And I know bad plotlines shouldn't bother me, but what bothers me is that someone can publish a book and then have the back filled with reviews reading "An oddball tour de force" - Entertainment Weekly and "Lethem is opening blue sky for American fiction... He is rapidly evolving into his own previously uncataloged species" - Village Voice Literary Supplement. How did Lethem open up American fiction? Can we now expect books to be published where all the literary techniques will be included in captions after the period in a sentence or hints like "Now think about this with the big picture in mind" will be peppered throughout a page? Where the reader will not have to think at all? I suppose since people are getting lazier in general and maybe since Cliff's Notes doesn't do EVERYTHING, yes, Lethem did open up new, bluer skies for American fiction.

With that said, the basic idea of the book is interesting because it does have a new universe. And with THAT said, NOW go and read the book.

I am going to Costa Rica in the morning, armed with a different book that unfortunately has scenes from a Major! Motion! Picture! plastered across its cover. I won't even bother going into what I hate about books like that.