Wednesday, November 30

Tribute to Twain

All of you who have used Google's services today will have noticed that today is Mark Twain's 176th birthday, and I would like to further acknowledge his greatness.

Born in Missouri as Samuel Langhourne Clemens on November 30, 1835, he was the author of the iconic novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as well as The Prince and the Pauper.  In his time, he wrote several novels and short stories, as well as numerous essays, plays, satires, poetry, and even autobiographical work.  It is unanimous that his writing has greatly influenced both American literature as a genre and literature as a whole for the better.  Twain died of a heart attack April 21, 1910, upon which President William Howard Taft said: 

"Mark Twain gave pleasure – real intellectual enjoyment – to millions, and his works will continue to give such pleasure to millions yet to come... His humor was American, but he was nearly as much appreciated by Englishmen and people of other countries as by his own countrymen. He has made an enduring part of American literature."

I feel that there is a lot to be said in tribute to Mark Twain, but I don't have the time or space to outline it all for you, which leaves me feeling a bit guilty for trying.  I totally agree with President Taft that his work was American - for me it is symbolic of America itself, and reading his works have been a delight both as a younger teenager and now.  I just thought it was important to say so. 

Tuesday, November 29

Soft, Pink, Sticky, and Lovely

I haven't been in at all a blogging mood recently.  My holiday activities so far have consisted of reading outside in the dusk cool; having long baths; dancing to Hall & Oates' You Make My Dreams Come True, which is impossible to get out of your head once it's in; going to the video library; and watching what I rented from the video library.  So far my rentals have included  It's Complicated, The Devil Wears Prada, and Morning Glory.  But, as I learnt from last Christmas holidays, it's great to have a TV series to get really stuck into.  Last time, we watched the complete series of Seachange, which I adored, and Mork and Mindy, which has left me in a glowing state of Robin Williams adoration.  This time round, however, I had no clue which direction to turn for my holiday entertainment. 

Working at a video library certainly has its perks, and even without having read the back of a film let alone having seen it, I've become acquainted with a crazy number of random DVDs.  It was like this, "putting it back on the shelf" as I refer to my way of knowing, that I was made aware of the 1989 series, A Bit of Fry and Laurie.  No one can argue that Hugh Laurie is a great actor, and the last year has functioned to make me a huge fan of the witty, eloquent gentlemanliness of the glorious Stephen Fry.  (I am now ridiculously excited to see him as Mycroft in the new Sherlock Holmes film which comes out on my birthday amazingly enough!!!) 

As a Woody Allen fan, this quirky little show has huge appeal to me.  It is certainly an acquired taste, and oldfashioned and a bit British... well... British... but it is so delightful to watch - thriving entirely on the greatness of their facial acting and the complete glory of their lines.  Observe!  

This is a sketch from the 1987 BBC pilot.  It is my favourite sketch, and shows Stephen Fry in a very young, albiet soft, pink, and gorgeous, state.  How great is that line - that cloud of gorgeousness part?  Uuuugggh!  It's so fantastic.

Friday, November 25

Peanut Brittle

As you know, I am officially on holidays now, and what more fitting for the first week of holidays than to finally get round to reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise?  Because that is what I've done.  I was thinking I might even be a bit naughty and read a couple of books simultaneously.  Just to shake it up a little and avoid falling into the lingering slough of despond that waits to gobble up bored readers.  I ordered Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer from the library, but it'll obviously take some time to arrive.  I know the story well since the film is a family favourite, but I'm sure that his writing will make it wonderful regardless. 

However, in true Fiztgerald style, I am already hooked in This Side of Paradise on a line:

"The invitation to Miss Myra St. Claire's bobbing party spent the morning in his coat pocket, where it had an intense physical affair with a dusty piece of peanut brittle".

Isn't it great?  That fantastic, almost random idea, like an orchestra's forte blast to make sure that no one falls asleep, (a trick my school strings ensemble has often had to use).  He's a clever, clever, clever writer!

Wednesday, November 23

Going it Alone

I did a pretty brave and exciting thing today. 

Ever since I knew it existed, I wanted desperately to go see Midnight in Paris, half because I adore Paris, and half because I adore Woody Allen.  I wanted to go with Dad rather than one of my school friends, because I have always watched all Woody Allen and French films with him.  But he wasn't able to go.  As simple as that. 

I toyed with the idea of asking my best friend to go with me.  But the fact remained that watching a French Woody Allen film was going to be quite personal for me, and I didn't want that meaning to kind of fall flat because it wasn't shared. 

One of my good friends goes to the cinema alone on a regular basis and he told me how much he enjoys that feeling of being alone and just enjoying it purely and personally.  And I thought that this would be the perfect oppertunity for me to give it a go, and go it alone.  So I did. 

It was my first day of the holidays, so I gave myself a freshening shower, prettied myself in a skirt, tights, my new shoes, and my new cardigan, and got to the bus station.  I really hate public transport because it never seems to make sense, and always gets itself wrong - bus numbers, bus times, stop locations.  I can never seem to get any of it right.  Hate it. 

Anyway, I got there, got a ticket, got myself a packet of lollies and an ice tea, and sat down, right in the middle of the middle, and spread my lardy-dah around me comfortably.  I was one of eight people in the cinema, and I was the youngest one there by fifty years easily.  There was one elderly couple, a elderly group of women, and an elderly woman with her slightly less elderly daughter, and they commented and laughed at certain moments during the trailers and film itself.  I found it very funny, actually which parts they enjoyed most, and I loved the wit, even though it wasn't anywhere near as biting as classic Allen. 

I will sum up my appreciation of the movie with the imagery of a bauble.  The movie was a little bauble.  It had its one point to make, its handful of simple characters, its simple story line.  It was short and snappy.  It made its point and ended as quickly as it began, leaving you with a feeling firstly of, oh, that was nothing, and then secondly, of, that was incredible.  I loved the point it made, and the way it made it.  I couldn't say anything much because of those who haven't, and will now have to see it, but it has a whole heap of writers from the past in it, including some that I am personally enamoured with, and that delighted me to giggles.  So that was wonderful.  And of course the scenery was just absolutely edensque.

I think, however, that the moral of the story, at least so far as my dad keeps telling me, is that through going to see a movie alone, and furthermore enjoying seeing it alone, I've proven how comfortable I am with myself.  And I do think he's right.  I couldn't do it with all movies.  I need to hold someone's arm in movies with any form of suspense in them, but this one was the perfect thing for me.  I was very comfortable. 

Tuesday, November 22

Goose and Gosling

That dreaded email from the library: 

Reminder Notice

Your record shows the following items will be due within the next three days.

Items not returned by the due date attract an overdue fee of 35 cents per item per day.

Renew these items now via eLibCat.

1. call number: AD - FICTION FOE
ID: 34000070248760
Extremely loud & incredibly close / Jonathan Safran Foer.
Foer, Jonathan Safran, 1977 -
due: 24/11/2011, 23:59.

Needless to say, I rushed straight onto the e-library catalogue and pulled up my account to renew my checkouts.  

Renewal failed.  Item has holds. 

Oh the horror!  With only three days to finish the book, mountains of homework, two exams, two shifts, no time, no time, no time.

It's amazing - they always say it's so - you can always find time if you care enough to.  Last night, amongst math textbooks, formulas, and exercise books, I made time to finish the book.  I'm not sure when I finally turned off the light and went to bed, but I know that I was satisfied with my efforts, and more than satisfied with the book itself.

Many Colours of Happiness!  You deserve a huge pat on the back for recommending me Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  And a hug.  And a box of chocolates.  And a bouquet of sharpened pencils. 

This book 'got' me more powerfully than any book I remember reading.  It is so beautifully written, and profound with its ingenius, ingenous quality.  He does this incredibly wonderful thing where he plants a little idea, a seemingly meaningless idea, at the start.  It delights you then.  This sweet, challenging idea, but it fades to the back of your mind because it is nothing but a thought.  But he doesn't allow it to end there.  He brings it back and reminds you of it, and ties it up so that every phrase, every idea, every thought turns out to have a purpose.  It blew me away.  It knocked my socks off.  It's like in those colouring in books where you draw a line to connect the mother animal with its offspring:  dog with a puppy, goose with a gosling, bear with a cub.  A small idea, connected to a grand one to make an incredible point.  Nothing has astounded me so much.

Thankyou for this extremely loud and incredibly close experience.  I walk away changed. 

Sunday, November 20

Wouldn't It Be Nice?

Aughh!  I'm so sorry for all the silences.  I haven't been able to get the pictures of my Christmas cards ready for a grand revealing, but I'll try and compensate with some stories from the last couple of days. 

The birthday party I went to last night was wonderful fun, but on arrival home, I was so utterly danced out that speech itself was a huge inconvenience.  Predictably, I shed the shoes after a few songs, and the dancing succeeded to rubbing my toes raw.  I'm astounded my legs don't ache after it all, but maybe I'm fitter than I thought.  Pleasant surprise.  Still.  Sore toes.  I also manage to take some very lovely photos, and after six and a half hours of reminding the DJ, he finally played my requested song, the Beach Boy's Wouldn't it be Nice.  And it was the second last one he played before I was picked up, so that was auspicious timing!  That song is a bit of a thing for me, and I'm not even all that sure why.   

Maybe it's that when I'm singing to it, I fall in love with the idea of love.  That is definitely something I would do.  I tend to fall in love with the idea of things, as well as the thing itself.  That song reminds me of things I did, said and thought about, and still continue to think about and dream about.  Having that song, and having it with those people, made my night. 

Well, today, I've been disgustingly lethargic.  I have my English exam block tomorrow, and today has been a failing attempt to prepare for it.  But seriously, when there is not a grain of energy left in you, and your can hardly keep your mouth closed and your eyes open, how can you do anything?  I loitered in avoidance for hours and then tried to doze it off.  But after startling myself awake after an hour and finding that my room was beginning to boil with the heat of the afternoon, I was actually worse off.  Right now, I'm looking so so so so so forward to having a shower tomorrow morning, an orange and a bowl of cereal for breakfast and getting dressed with that lovely feeling of pure cleanliness.  Cleanliness.  Wouldn't it be nice?

Friday, November 18


Eh bien, this has been somewhat of a whacked out week, and I think that first and foremost, I need to apologize for not blogging in such a long time.  It's been partially the internet dropping out, partially working late, but mainly studying.  Not to mention, if I had blogged at all during this time, it would have been fairly uneventful as I really had nothing to relate save for the amount of mind-boggling effort that this seemingly friendly last week of school had in store for me. 

I finished watercolouring and wrote on all twenty of my Christmas cards, which I am delighted with, as they turned out beautifully.  Then my drama performance went well and my final drama lesson was spent eating tons of junk food and watching the recording of the play in celebration.  Then there were two teary moments and so many hugs that I wanted never to end.  And then to top off that full-on day was a shoe-shopping trip, definitely not a habit of mine, for a big birthday party this weekend, which was much more successful than I expected because I ended up finding a stripey blue cardigan - something that has been on my list for a long long long time.  I really love cardigans, and scarves, not to mention. 

Well, after all that lardy-dah, I was well and truly knackered, and I fell into bed last night and was out like a light in minutes.  I don't recall a single thought crossing my mind, or a single flicker or flutter of a dream until I woke up.  At five past noon! 

Oh the horror!  My sleeping-in record has been until 11:30 am, and I was never able to match it.  But then to randomly pull out a 5 past noon?!!!  I was shocked wide awake when I finally found my pocketwatch and turned it over.  I suppose I'm sort of proud.  It feels like this event has marked my unofficial arrival at the typical teenager milestone.  Me, who wakes up at 6 every morning, sleeps in til 6:30, is up and at 'em by 7, and in bed every night by 10:30 at the latest.  A typical teenager.  Well.  I'm kind of proud, and kind of embarrassed, because I enjoy the thrill of breaking convention and this feels a little too stereotypical.  Anyhow, I feel well-rested. 

On a completely different note, I haven't felt like sharing passages out of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for a while, because Tangled up in Blue has bought the book, and I don't want to wreck it even in the slightest for her. But for Many Colours of Happiness, I'll let slide some references to my favourite bits so far. 

I was frozen with delight at the sound of the bird with the hearing aid, shocked into smiles by museums of husband and wife and blown away by the beauty of the tourguide.  This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read, and every chapter succees in blowing my expectation and shaking me heart and soul awake.  It is so untypical that it feels almost forbidden.  I am enjoying it so so much and I can't thank you enough for recommending it. 

Friday, November 11

King of the Mountain

I seriously enjoyed your comment, Tangled up in Blue, and thankyou.  That sounds like something Douglas Adams said, but then he might have been saying something that sounded like something someone else said.  Regardless of how adamant I was that my various attempts to remedy my cold would work, I am still sick.  My nose is running like a tap, and my face aches despite that lemon paracetamol drink I took.  A full packet of my favourite blackcurrent Fisherman's Friends later,  and I have succeeded only in making my breath smell strangely like alcohol (I don't understand how, though everyone keeps telling me "it so does!"). 

Not to mention my brother had me crying this morning after making me watch this clip. 

My favourite part is the two glasses of water.  Did you get it.  That stung me hard. 

Anyway, my boots are already lighter having my Ancient History presentation finally off my chest.  And I certainly look forward to the view at the top of the assignment mountain! 

Thursday, November 10

Extremely Sick and Incredibly Tired

Well, it's beginning to heat up now!  At the super pointy end of the year, everything is suddenly due and there is suddenly no time for it.  Not to mention I have suddenly come down sick.  Not retchingly ill but certainly sicker than usual.  My nose has been running like a tap and my throat is sand paper.  I am proud of my remedies, however ineffective they seem to be so far. 

I have so far enjoyed:
  • Black tea with honey
  • Salt water gargle
  • Betadine gargle
  • Two cold and flu tablets
  • One Vitamin C tablet
  • Eucalyptus lollies and
  • Blackcurrent Fisherman's Friends
And all the while, I have on my mind an Ancient History assignment due tomorrow, a huge drama performance on Monday, a Modern History assignment on Tuesday, and English and music assessments to have complete within next week. 

But in all this mess of tissues and text books, I have found Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close a shining light of glory.  I have structured my day around it.  I stop studying at half past nine and hop into bed with a cup of tea to read until my eyes droop.  I am enjoying it so much, and dreading every second the imminent closure.  I'm reading too much!  I will finish it so soon and then what life line will I have to clutch at as I plummet down the rabbit hole to completion of grade eleven?  That was a cheesy line.  Anyhow, do any of you have a burning suggestion for what I should read next?  My last couple of books have been unbelievably perfect, and I want to continue on this ride of great reads. 

Monday, November 7

My Play

Alright, well I said I would show you my script adaptation of my short story, A Storm in a Teacup.  I've headed the post up so you can find what you need.  First of all, make sure to read the SYNOPSIS, as it gives the outline of the entire play, of which my assignment is only an excerpt.


Scene One opens with young sisters, Kathy, and Amelia, sitting in their living room on a thunder storming afternoon in February, 2010. The ceiling is leaking and there are various pots, pans and cups scattered about the floor, catching the drips. There is one last teacup in a tall display cupboard behind them, which Amelia goes to use when another leak begins above her head. Kathy protests, however, that the teacup is too special to use for such a vulgar purpose, and she goes on to tell the story behind its value.

The teacup, part of a china teaset, was given to their grandmother, Lucy, as a girl by her own grandmother. After her grandmother’s death, she would invite her best-friend, Paul, from next door to her tea-parties. 

Scene Two depicts Paul’s marriage proposal to Lucy, their wedding and their move into a suburban house with a wattle tree in the backyard. Lucy continues to hold tea-parties, now under the wattle tree.

Scene Three portrays the 1974 floods that ravaged Ipswich after Lucy’s first year of marriage. Lucy rides the flood waters on a raft, and manages to save the teacup as it drifts past her. When the waters have subsided, she finds Paul and learns that their home has been destroyed, and that the teacup is all she has left of her belongings.

Scene Four illustrates a conversation that takes place between Lucy and her friend, Peggy, several months after the floods. At this time, both have been able to buy new houses due to their insurance and are resuming their everyday lives. Lucy, however, still grieves the loss of her belongings, in particular the memories associated with them. Peggy does not experience this connection with her own belongings and so is at odds with her.

In the ensuing blackout, there is a knock at the door. The lights come on, and Grandma steps in to see what they’re up to. Amelia tenderly offers her the teacup. Grandma thanks her and comments on how much care Amelia is showing it. Amelia responds by stating that it is special, and the three sit together on the couch while the leaks drip and the rain continues outside.


I chose to structure my script as non-linear. As Kathy’s story of their grandmother’s past unfolds, I use the convention of blackouts and split screen to transition into an enactment of the story. The plot allows for interaction between the past and present towards the beginning and end of the script, when first Kathy and then Amelia rejects the split screen convention to first pass the teacup into the past and finally reclaim it. Besides this, there will also be frequent jumps back and forth between past and present when Amelia interrupts Kathy’s story to ask a question. I felt that it was necessary to structure the script in this way so the audience can ‘see’ the story as well as hear it.

I decided to include the first half of Scene One, Scene Three, and the first half of Scene Four, as these excerpts give a clear idea of my intentions for the split screen convention, and contain the most significant events in the plot.


KATHY Eleven-year-old sister of Amelia

AMELIA Nine-year-old sister of Kathy

GRANDMA a.k.a Lucy; Kathy and Amelia’s grandmother, Paul’s wife

PAUL Kathy and Amelia’s grandfather, Lucy’s husband

GREAT-GREAT GRANDMA Kathy and Amelia’s great-great grandmother, Lucy’s grandmother

PEGGY Lucy’s friend

Act One

A thunder storming afternoon in February 2010. A living room. KATHY and AMELIA sit on a couch in the u.s.c, playing ‘Go fish’. Pots, bowls and cups are scattered about the floor, collecting drips from the leaky roof. Tall display cupboard with one teacup on the shelf stands u.s.r. Door u.s.l. ‘Rain’ soundtrack plays. A new leak starts dripping directly onto AMELIA’s head.

AMELIA: Kathy, there’s another leak! (getting up to fetch the last teacup in the cupboard)

KATHY: We used all the cups. Do you have any... fives?

AMELIA: (picking up teacup) There’s one left.

KATHY: One what? Five?

AMELIA: No, there’s one cup left.

KATHY looks around, and seeing AMELIA with the teacup, leaps up on the couch.

KATHY: Put it back, Amelia!

AMELIA: No, I need it for the drip!

KATHY goes to snatch it from AMELIA, and she drops it. KATHY catches it.

KATHY: See what you almost did?

AMELIA: (quiet) You’re a bully.


KATHY: It’s too special.

AMELIA: How is it special?

KATHY: It’s Grandma’s special teacup. It’s very old and... there’s a long story behind it.

AMELIA: Could you tell me the story?


If you do, I might forgive you for being a bully. Depends if it’s a good story.

KATHY: It is. (leading AMELIA back to couch where they sit) It begins when Grandma was a little girl as old as you. She and her grandma, our great... great (counting off on finger) grandma, used to have tea-parties-.

AMELIA: It will be a boring story, because there’s nothing to look at.

KATHY: Close your eyes and imagine it then.

Blackout. Front of stage is lit. GRANDMA and GREAT-GREAT GRANDMA sit together at a table laid with a china teaset. GREAT-GREAT GRANDMA looks around.

GREAT-GREAT GRANDMA: There should be another teacup.

KATHY walks into light, gives her the teacup, and leaves.

GREAT-GREAT GRANDMA: Mmm, there we are. A complete set. You know, Lucy, I’m getting very old. Before I forget, I must make sure that my favourite, most beautiful teaset has a home. I was hoping that you would look after it.

GRANDMA: Really? I would love to look after it for you.

GREAT-GREAT GRANDMA: I thought you would. You are the perfect person to own a beautiful teaset. You must promise me, though, that when I can no longer come to your tea-parties, you won’t stop hosting them. Because that would make me terribly sad.

GRANDMA: I won’t make you sad. I’ll invite Paul from next-door, who’s my friend.




KATHY: And then came the ’74 floods.

Blackout. “Floods” video plays. At end of clip, light washes front of stage. GRANDMA lies on a raft, supported by two people all in black so as to be invisible. They gently ‘drift’ and rock the raft as on flood waters. She half rises, surveying destruction.

GRANDMA: Paul? Paul! ... Someone?!

Another invisible person enters s.l. ‘floating’ the teacup. GRANDMA paddles the raft with her hands towards it and grabs it. People gradually lower raft as water goes does. She steps off and walks as though wading in shallows. PAUL enters.

PAUL: Lucy! Thank god! Are you alright? Are you injured?!

GRANDMA: (going to him and embracing him) Paul! I’m alright!

PAUL: Thank god.

GRANDMA: Are you OK?

PAUL: I’m fine. I’m fine. (they freeze)

AMELIA: What happened to the house?

Blackout front of stage. Back of stage lit.

AMELIA: I want to know what happened to the house and the wattle tree that Grandma loved.

KATHY: If you listen, you’ll find out.

Blackout back of stage. Front of stage lit.

PAUL: Lucy, the house is ruined. The water came up to the ceiling. And... the wattle was uprooted. I’m so sorry my darling.


GRANDMA: What will we do?

PAUL: We’re going to be OK. The thing to think about right now is getting somewhere safe and then warm and dry. (Starting to lead her off)

GRANDMA: (in reference to the teacup) This is the only thing we can save? (Paul nods. Both exit s.l.)




Front half of stage lit. GRANDMA and PEGGY sit at table d.s.c. There are new tea things but GRANDMA uses her same teacup.

PEGGY: Your new place is just lovely. I don’t like to say “I told you so” but wasn’t I right? It certainly paid off to the have the flood cover on your insurance. It feels as though you were passed over by the entire thing.

GRANDMA: Ha, it doesn’t feel like that at all. Is that what you feel like?

PEGGY: Yes, I do, actually. We like our new place, the new neighbourhood. It was a scramble, but I’m back into life, and it’s as good as ever... I don’t feel like much has changed. We were lucky.

GRANDMA: Lucky? I don’t understand how you can bounce back so quickly. I couldn’t help grieving for the thousands who lost everything, but I could ease the suffering by volunteering my time and care to make a family’s hardship just that little bit lighter... But even after time, my own loss is still so heavy.

PEGGY: Your loss? What are you on about? You got it all back.

GRANDMA: The material things are replaceable. But what... what about the memories, Peggy? The house, the tree, everything Paul and I said and did... Reminders of my thoughts and feelings, hopes, regrets...


PEGGY: Regrets. (ever cheerful) Well, then, perhaps you can enjoy this fresh start.

GRANDMA: But I would like to remember the past. (Taking a sip from teacup)

AMELIA steps into the light, gently takes the teacup from GRANDMA as she offers it to her, and leaves. Blackout....

Sunday, November 6

One Single Grain in the Sahara

When Dad was tucking me in that night and we were talking about the book, I asked if he could think of a solution to that problem. “Which problem?” “The problem of how relatively insignificant we are.” He said, “Well, what would happen if a plane dropped you in the middle of the Sahara Desert and you picked up a single grain of sand with tweezers and moved it one millimeter?” I said, “I’d probable die of dehydration.” He said, “I just mean right then, when you moved that single grain of sand. What would that mean?” I said, “I dunno, what?” He said, “think about it.” I thought about it. “I guess I would have moved a grain of sand.” “Which would mean?” “Which would mean I moved a grain of sand?” “Which would mean you changed the Sahara.” “So?” “So? So the Sahara is a vast desert. And it has existed for million of years. And you changed it!” “That’s true!” I said, sitting up. “I changed the Sahara!” “Which means?” he said. “What? Tell me.” “Well, I’m not talking about moving that one grain of sand one millimeter.” “Yeah?” “If you hadn’t done it, human history would have been one way…” “Uh-huh?” “but you did do it, so…?” I stood on the bed, pointed my fingers at the fake stars, and screamed: “I changed the course of human history!” “That’s right.” “I changed the universe!” “You did.” “I’m God!’ “You’re an atheist.” “I don’t exist!” I fell back onto the bed, into his arms, and we cracked up together.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, published 2005.

I feel so delighted by Tangled up in Blue's sudden decision to buy the book after hearing some of these passages.  Well, I reckon that's a job well done!  I think that you will really enjoy it.

I liked this passage because there was something in this concept that encouraged me a bit.  As Oskar would say, it made my boots lighter.  It's definitely something warm and bright to muse upon.

On another note, I would like to let you know that I have finished my script-writing drama assignment.  If I get the time tomorrow, I will post the script excerpts and synopsis so you can see how I adapted my story, A Storm in a Teacup to theatre.  Head's up!

Saturday, November 5

It's Major! It's Major!

This one is for you, Many Colours of Happiness.

An ambulance drove down the street between us, and I imagined who it was carrying, and what had happened to him.  Did he break and ankle attempting a hard trick on his skateboard?  Or maybe he was dying from third-degree burns on ninety percent of his body?  Was there any chance that I knew him?  Did anyone see the ambulance and onder if it was me inside?

What about a device that knew everyone you knew?  So when an ambulance went down the street, a big sign on the roof would flash


if the sick person's device didn't detect the device of someone he knew nearby.  And if the device did detect the device of someone he knew, the ambulance would flash the name of the person in the ambulance, and either


or, if it was something major,


And maybe you could rate the people you knew by how much you loved the, so if the device of the person in the ambulance detected the device of the persn he loved the most, or the person who loved him the most, and the person in the ambulance was really badly hurt, and mighteven die, the ambulance could flash


One things that's nice to think about is someone who was the first person on lots of people's lists, so that when he was dying, and his ambulance went down the streets to the hospital, the whole time it would flash


Googolplex, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, published 2005.

Thursday, November 3

Crystal Chandelier in a Houseboat

What about little microphones? What if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers which could be in the pouches of our overalls?  When you skateboard down the street at night you could hear everyone's heartbeat, and they could heart yours, sort of like sonar.  One weird thing is, I wonder if everyone's hearts would start to beat at the same time, like how women who live together have their menstrual periods at the same time, which I know about, but don't really want to know about.  That would be so weird, except that the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldn't have had time to match up their heartbeats yet.  And at the finish line at the end of the New York City marathon it would sound like war.

Chapter One, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, (published 2005).

This passage, which is in fact the second paragraph of the book, had me beautifully hooked.  It was like another a-ha moment for me, or, as we call it in my family, a "Ratatouille moment".  It made me smile and then frown as I thought it through again and again.  It continues to amaze me.  War.  There is something about that final word which makes the entire passage sound so profound, whether I understand it or not.  I can tell that I am really going to enjoy this book.

Wednesday, November 2

In Stitches

I sat in bed last night and finished All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot.  Yesterday, you'll recall I talked about how emotionally involved I had become with the characters, and how much the change, James, Tristan and Siegfried's departure for war had affected me.  Well what I read last night was absolutely heart-wrenching. 

You know how I've mentioned how James uses this convention of tying up both ends of his chapters with a joke of a anecdote etcetera, so that even though it's one chapter in a larger story, it is a satisfying story in itself?  Well, I realise what he had been doing all this time.  All this time, these little stories, his chapters, were adding up to his final point.  He tied the story as a whole up with such a perfectly sorrowful ribbon of words that I was reduced to hysterical sobs for half an hour afterwards.  It cannot be explained any better to you, because it took the entire journey of reading it to reap the full blast of the beautifull conclusion.

I think that I can unashamedly proclaim that this is my new favourite book.  I have been emotionally involved and sucked into books before - Wuthering Heights made me grit my teeth and growl, The Moonstone made me gasp and shudder, The Lord of the Rings made me cheer and burst out in tears.  But never before has a book made me do all the above. 

I grit my teeth and growled when James had to deal with exasperatingly rude clients.  I gasped when the Peter the yellow budgie died in his hand.  I shuddered while he operated on Rock the Irish Setter's leg.  I cheered when he triumphed against the odds.  I burst into tears when he left for war.  And what's more, he made me laugh.  Time after time.  He had me in stitches.  Fittingly enough, for he is my favourite doctor. 

Tuesday, November 1

The Wind of Change

I've been struggling lately.  Struggling to come to terms with the fact that their all leaving.  I never suspected it would or even could happen, but perhaps I should have seen it coming.

James Herriot, his partner, Siegfried, and Siegfried's brother, the dashing Tristan, are all heading off for war.  World War I.  There were scrappets of talk about the war.  I completely took it for granted that the war was even going on - that the English boys would soon be off, that because it was a true story, there was no fictional possibility of hiding away, staying safe, evading all change and danger by staying at home.  But no.  They're going to war and I am struggling with the parting.

There is something about James Herriot's writing that has lured me in further than usual.  Perhaps it is the fact that he is no just a character but a real human being who actually made me laugh.  Perhaps it is the fact that I must have a reader's crush on him and Tristan.  Oh Tristan.  But whatever it is, I have taken hardly to their going away, and to the change that they are about to experience, even though I, as their attentive listener, stay where I am. 

I have become the wives and girlfriends of all the troops.  My boys going off to a dangerous and terrible thing far away for an undetermined amount of time, and having to stay behind, stay at home, stay alone without them.  The change, or the threat of change is so real for me.  Because James has been giving me such a sweetly satisfying life, the idea that not only am I going to finish this book, but he will have gone to war and the sweet satisfaction of that constant feeling of home will have vanished, leaves me shaken to the roots.  Change always shakes me.  I adapt quickly, but I'm always unhappy having to change.  

I've never had to experience such change from a book.  It distresses me.  I will a tearful handerkerchief waver from that bed-sitter's window.