In Which Our Heroine Is The Proverbial Tipi And Wigwam

22 April 2003

Woooo! The Wild and the Leafs both won and forced seventh games in their series. Guess I know what we're up to tonight. My dad called me up from his business trip after the Wild were done, before the Leafs' second OT, and we talked about how the big bruiser on the Wild has the same "real" name as my friend Twig from college and other very important things.

Better get my work and my chores finished early, I guess.

I forgot to report in on the bottle of two-buck-Chuck we opened on Sunday. It was quite drinkable. It was the red, and I'm picky about reds, but it was not offensive. For $1.99 wine, sure, definitely. Those of you who are cheap and also have some standard for wine, go for it. Could be a lot worse.

Which almost makes me forgive Trader Joe's for replacing the Canadian extra-sharp white cheddar with Trader Joe's California "extra-sharp" white cheddar. Almost. After the "C, eh?", they're just not even approximations of each other. Evidently Canadians know from sharp, and we already knew that when it comes to cheese, Californians do not. (I don't understand. They sell "mild" and "medium" cheeses here. Is there less difference between them and the sharp than in the north lands? Or is the mild cheese out here entirely devoid of flavor? Is it a firmer version of Velveeta? What's the deal? Why can't the people who want mild cheese buy the mild cheese and let the extra-sharp actually be extra-sharp?)

Mark picked up another kind of white cheddar at the grocery store Sunday, so we'll see how that measures up. It, too, is from California. I don't have high hopes.

I had bad brain all day yesterday, but I still managed to get some work done, which is good, I hope. Maybe I'll finish some short story drafts today. Maybe I'll just get sucked back into the novel. The problem with working on short stories when I want to be working on novels is that it's self-reinforcing: it doesn't go quite as well, and then my brain says, "See? I told you what we do is novels." Vicious cycle. But I do want to get these stories finished up for theme issues, so I soldier on.

I also finished reading the book on Scando Lit, which was like a survey course on speed, with a teacher that everyone would make fun of for his obsessions with objectivity. Wrote down a lot of authors/poets/titles to fill in my knowledge of the subject matter. Also, I feel much better about my titles now, because I think perhaps it's an ethnic incompetence, learned or inherited, I'm not sure. My favorite Scando titles were My Arm, My Intestine and The Underpants of the Devil, although you can't really neglect A Chicken Under the Stars. ("So much depends"?) And you can't really say, "Oh, well, maybe intestines mean something different in Nordic lands. Maybe they're symbolic of, uh...." I'll tell you what they're symbolic of: digestion. Sometimes, even in a different culture, an intestine is just an intestine.

Makes all my titles look positively brilliant, hmm?

After I finished with that volume, I started reading J.G. Ballard's A User's Guide to the Millennium. Heh. I picked this up on a whim as I was walking past its shelf on the way to get something else. It's a series of articles and reviews that Ballard published in magazines and newspapers, so part of my problem with it is an inherent limitation of the medium: he didn't have room to support a lot of his claims. Unfortunately for him, I thought a lot of them required it. Take, for example, the idea that corruption disappeared with the Chinese Communist Revolution, and stayed gone. Or the idea that every single episode of the old series of "Star Trek" contained "at least the germ of an original idea." (Sure, if you mean that the actual original ideas got near the writers while they were working and may have rubbed off into the plots.) Over and over again, he'll toss out a sentence with something like that in it, and move blithely on to the real point he intended to make, leaving me shaking my head like a wet dog: what? Where did he get that?

And it makes the rest of the points he makes seem a little shabby in association: if he's mad at the first Star Wars movie for not being original enough, but what he considers original is the entire first series of "Star Trek" am I to evaluate that statement at all? What could he possibly mean by originality, such that every single original Trek episode would have at least a little of it and Star Wars, none? (I'm not arguing that the SW franchise is stunningly original in its science fiction concepts, so please don't write to castigate me for that. I'm just saying that there are lots of cheap knock-offs in ST, too. I have to confess that my first thought about the ST claim was, "What? Who told you that -- Ellison?") And a lot of the other essays are the same -- a point that seems reasonable enough suddenly looks totally wacky with the support he's given it. Ah well. It's a quick read, so it's not like I'm giving all that much of my life to wrinkling my forehead at Ballard pulling things out of his orifices.

This time. I still have at least one volume of Ballard on my "to read" list, so I may be forehead-wrinkling some more later.

So. Trying to balance work and back care. As usual. Trying to make my shoulders relax. We'll see.

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