Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Signs of the Times

I know it's been too long since I've blogged, but it's been even longer since I told you what I've read. The last time I mentioned it, I was fussing about Piers Anthony. I'll keep it short:
  • Fool by Christopher Moore. Nothing beats Lamb.

  • The World According to Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith. Enchanting as always.

  • The Comforts of a Muddy Sunday by same and ditto on the charm.

  • The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult. She's got the formula. This time, she added a comic book between some chapters. It had a secret message but I wasn't up to figuring it out. One of her characters is a professor who teaches Dante's Inferno. There's another novel out there that mentions him. I wonder if I should read it -- the original, not the new novel. Any opinions on that?

  • Away by Amy Bloom. Hm. This is one of the most unusual novels I've read, at least in the sense of format. A Jewish refugee in the twenties is struggling in America. She encounters various people and when she leaves them, the reader is granted the short version of the rest of their lives. I like that. For one thing, it is nice to know the minor characters' fates. For another, it's a great device to let us know that, indeed, we're not going to see them again. If I could see my whole life as the final Amy Bloom paragraph, I probably wouldn't feel so bad (and yes: I do feel bad. Make it stop!). This is a very poetic writer. I really enjoyed the book. I'll read more of her.

  • Poodle Springs by Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker. Apparently the former died when only four chapters had been written, so the latter finished it up. More than anything, I was surprised to see "gotta" in print in 1989. I was not surprised to see the same voice coming out of all the mouths.

I joined Facebook. I guess you should know that; I should confess it. Two people welcomed me to "Crackbook," which I really didn't get. Now I think they mean it's addictive. Well, not to me. I was sorry I joined within minutes of having done so. I immediately got fifty friends -- I use that term in Facebook fashion. I felt crowded and overwhelmed with all the Facebook things in my gmail inbox. It seems wasteful to me, all these people commenting and challenging and LOLing on Facebook but via my inbox. Why not just email me? Well, I don't really get it. Happily, though, I finally saw the faded X near each yammering person's name, so I've clicked most of them and therefore don't have to hear that they're hungry now or sleepy now or leaving work now. Most of it sounded like listening to someone at the next table in a noisy diner talking on a cell phone. There might have been an interesting conversation (convo?) going, but I'm only hearing part of it.

Some of my discontent is that I'm listening to former co-workers, and that makes me angry somehow. Despite everything, I suppose I still occasionally seethe over having been fired. One woman (and you know who you are) kicked the manager but that doesn't get her into trouble. STFU. If that isn't a legitimate whatever-clusters-of-initials-are-called, then it oughta be.

On the other hand, I was happy to reconnect with a woman from high school, so that's cool.

I also got to see photos of Nancy Cervenka's work. She won the Best in Show at Gasparilla. That included a check for fifteen thousand dollars. You go, Nancy! She makes amazing sculptures out of rolled movie film, which doesn't begin to describe her stuff. She doesn't even seem to have a website, so only her Friends can see her stuff on Facebook. That seems WAY too bad. She's having a show soon, though, and I'll be sure to note it here.

And I found out that Ramon and Laurie are going to have a baby. Good for them.

So maybe that was worth it. Well, and I am having lunch with Rene today because while I was reading her profile, she IM'd me. Instant Message. That was sort of boggling. I'll see her at the Kopper Kitchen in half an hour.

There's a new Chia pet out. I'm afraid I'm going to buy it. It might be a way to have some greenery in here. It's across the street at Walgreens. It is -- I hesitate to say it -- an Obama head.

So who inspired Chia to do this? The Republicans or the Democrats? Is this a good thing? I can't even tell. It seems like an insult to President Obama, but it's probably not. It's just ... weird.

Maybe it's simply that the whole Chia setup lends itself to Obama's head. Maybe now it's okay to have short, wiry, half-Negro hair? Have you noticed the Uncle Ben's Rice billboards? They're suddenly everywhere and, really, I wonder if the campaign was waged only after we got a half-black president. The ads don't say anything. The first one I saw was a huge black face up there -- a huge black handsome face, of course. You can't deny that Uncle Ben is scoring high in the beauty department. There's his enormous face on a background of little bitty faces. There are more variations on other billboards, but the theme's the same: Just his face.

Well, and look at Pepsi. It's just their new logo, acting like the letter O. LOVETC. What does that mean? Is it "love" "et cetera"? "Love" "tee cee"?

And then Snickers is making up words and typing them in its own typeface. At least there are some sentences, albeit idiotic ones: Take a dip in the CHOCLANTIC Ocean, with "Choclantic" in the Snickers font.

Jesus. (Please remember to say this with a Spanish accent. I worry about it.)

On the way to Tampa via I-275, on the left side is a small billboard that says, "This is why the chicken crossed the road." Then there's the old-fashioned hand pointing to the right side of the road. There's another billboard over there. It's a bottle of booze on its side with the neck dripping chocolate. Huh? I haven't even figured out if these are really connected or if the right-side board -- "This is why ..." -- is more like a Burma-Shave event. Maybe in a month, we'll be shown, in that same spot, why, exactly, that curious bit of poultry strolled across the road.

I met a young couple in Ybor City who just moved here from South Africa. In fact, they saw my South African papier-mache flag, which is how we got started chatting. If they become citizens, they'll be African-Americans, even though they're both blonde and blue-eyed white people. Maybe it's time to drop all that. Do I have any black readers out there (and you know who you are) with opinions about this? Didn't all of humanity start in Africa? So wouldn't that make all of us in the U.S. African-Americans?

When I went to Ghana too many years ago, there were two black women as part of the Habitat for Humanity section of my trip. One of them was a world traveler. She'd been to thirty countries. I probably can't even name thirty countries. None was in Africa, though. She said she felt bad about that, but the truth was that she never felt a special pull to go to Africa, despite her clear descent from there.

Well, I've never craved Italy, either. Don't get me wrong. If you invite me on an all-expenses-paid trip, I'll bring the bells. But that wasn't my first choice. Ghana was.

I met a handsome, accented man in Orlando who said, when asked about his country of origin, "I am from the home of the gods." First I guessed Italy, then I correctly chose Greece.

I am way overdue to talk about Jim Mitchell, but my time is up for today. You'll have to wallow around in ignorance and suspense until tomorrow. Or maybe the next day.

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