who the heck knows anything, anyway

Thursday, September 29, 2011

So, I dug WW No. 1

I read the new Wonder Woman! And I liked it. Greek myth references were poppin' off right and left, Wonder Woman is a badass, and the story is mysterious, and interesting, and smart. Cliff Chiang's art is super awesome--which is important because art can seriously make or break a well-written comic--and I've been in love with Azzarello for, like, ever. 

Spoilers? (highlight if you want to read it):
Guessing Mr. Badguy from the beginning is Apollo, based on the "sun/son" puns and the fact that he made those three girls into oracles. Granted, Zeus has a lot of kids to choose from, but my guess is Apollo. Also, how badass was Chiang's rendition of Hermes? And making Hera a mysterious woman in a peacock cloak?? I AM SO INTO IT.
(end of possible spoilers)

DC has kind of screwed the pooch on a lot of their reboot* but, fortunately, I can make fun of them from afar because I have never been a big DC reader. Granted, I'm not a huge Marvel reader, either. I truly love the ideas of all of their characters, but am often disappointed, on both counts, by the writing and actual in-universe character development. So, for the most part, I'm more of an Image/Vertigo/indie-/web-comics kind of gal. However, there are exceptions to every rule. For instance, Old Man Logan was stellar, Frank Miller's Batman is obviously a good bet, and I think Mark Millar's work often makes a fun read (I gave his run of Ultimates a go and found them to be very enjoyable). 

the cover of WW No. 3,
to be released in November
Then there's Wonder Woman--a character I have always wanted to like, but couldn't really get into until now. Sure, maybe it's my Azzarello sympathies (100 Bullets was EXCELLENT. Don't even get me started) or my ridiculously predictable soft spot for smart, subtle references that suggest a writer cares enough to do research. Either way, I'm digging it. The only way they could have further wooed me is by making WW one-breasted, seeing as she's an Amazon and all**. Man, I really hope they keep impressing me. If the covers of the next couple of issues are any indication (see #3, to your right), I think they will. 

For now, I'll just send my thanks and good thoughts to Azzarello and Chiang and hope that DC gets their crap together--not so much for me, since I barely qualify as one of their readers, but for all the chicks out there who read their comics looking for role models. I'm lucky, because I'm not very invested in this brand. I feel for all my ladies who read Catwoman, Redhood, and Suicide Squad, etc, and felt pretty grossed out afterwards; all it took was reading the articles to make me feel let down. This is part of why I wish all of the Marvel/DC characters were public domain: imagine all of the sweet comics that would come out of amazing comics folk, like Aaron Diaz of Dresden Codak***, which would essentially be creator-owned. Yes, there would also be a lot of super horrible comics, but that's the same exact thing that happens with prose fiction these days. True story.

so, Stats:

Wonder Woman No. 1: radical
DC, In General: ★ ...meh
This Hard Cider We Got at QFC: certainly drinkable
My Day, In General:  solid
Today's Nap could have been better 

*I doubt I need to inform any of you of the articles surrounding the Starfire/Catwoman f### up, but here's a popular Comics Alliance one, just in case. I found this interview with an incredibly astute 7-year-old girl to be the best. Aaaand, Let's Be Friends Again is, as always, the best comic about comics. Warning, in case my parents have started reading this: they swear
**I found out tonight that, apparently, somewhere in her origin story, she was made out of clay by the Amazons and bestowed with gods-like powers or something, but I think the Amazons would have pulled the ol' "make her in our own image" move, seeing as how they were the most hardcore group of warriors in history. 
***click that link and LOOK AT HIS REDESIGNS!! I'm not the biggest fan of his Wonder Woman, but Ms. Marvel and Superman are aces. Plus, his art is just plain pretty. Here's his regular comics, too: http://dresdencodak.com/archives/ 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

disclaimer: I am still hungover from house-sitting. read at your own risk.

This is a two-fold post. First, this is what I did in Portland every morning at 6:30/7am, instead of sleeping:

 In case you are unfamiliar with the creatures in that second panel: they're guinea pigs. Seven of them. And that stuff that looks like hay? It's hay. A lot of it. So much hay was there, hardly a moment passed when I didn't have at least three hay-twigs stuck in my hair/on my pants/in my pockets/all of the above. I smelled vaguely of petting zoo. 'Twas very charming, I'm sure. Needless to say, I don't know how my parents do it.

Second, I'm going to ask you to indulge me while I consider the idea of "home".

Growing up, Portland was my practical home, and Seattle was my Home of the Future.  Portland was comfortable and familiar. Family, friends, school, work, all provided the ground upon which my routines were solidly built. Of course, it was under-appreciated. Meanwhile, each visit to Seattle, from childhood through last year, seemed to prove to me that Seattle was the city I should live in, the home I was destined to have.

I have moved to Seattle and sown the seeds of new routines here--routines in which I sleep in until 10, wax academic 24/7, and work for myself--but aside from my cozy apartment, I'm not sure it quite feels like this city is "home" yet.

Every time I go back to Portland, I get excited. Family! Friends! Then I fall into those old routines--some of which I love (waking up early, hanging out with my brothers, buying veggies at Sauvie's Island with my mom, seeing my old peeps), and some of which I don't (waking up early, stressful family obligations, trying to squeeze in time with all of my friends, and often succumbing to the laziness of staying home instead of going out). By the time I hop a northbound train, I'm aching to get back to Seattle. Or...home. Not necessarily Seattle. I'm not sure how to express the feeling I got when I left Portland yesterday--it was something between relief and sadness, with a kick of feeling rather ...adrift. There are people in each city I love, but very few particular things: the St. John's Bridge (PDX), my grandfather's houseboat (SEA), and that's about it. Since I don't live in Portland anymore, I've been forgotten at my former Regular Bars (the Mock Crest; Leisure) and Regular Coffee Shops (Anna Banana's; Xeno's, my original haunt, closed quite a while back) so returning makes me feel like an outsider--I feel like people assume I'm just another hip Portland kid who discovered this hole-in-the-wall bar that OMG you have to check out (barf). Who wants to feel like a tourist in their own hometown, especially when they've only been gone a few months? I haven't even established myself as a Regular at any places in Seattle, in part because Capitol Hill is hip (i.e. crowded) and expensive. Many people in this neighborhood seem to like that touch of aloofness and anonymity, too, but I'm the kind of patron who likes it when the bar tender calls me "hon".

There's no going back to Portland right now, I don't think. Strangely enough, it feels stagnant. Similarly, as my closest Seattle friends move away, I wonder if Seattle might not be for me, either. But I have spent literally my whole life wishing to move here; there is no other place in the USA with any immediate appeal (which has made applying for grad schools particularly trying). When I compare Seattle to Austin, Providence, Amherst, Boston, I can't help but side with the part of myself that thinks "Yeah, those places might be ok, but I bet staying right where I am is better."

I don't know, I'm just being antsy and cranky. It was a long couple of weeks, and a few particularly harrowing days made me seriously contemplate running far, far away. However, I know I'm a lucky lady, living where I do and having great friends and family close by (both here and in Portland). Some people are just so dang good at knowing what they want, it makes me a little jealous sometimes. I suppose this is one of those grass is always greener things.

Here's a drawing of Watson the Hyperactive, Hyperadorable Corgi to make everything better:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

$40 poorer, 3 books (i.e. INFINITELY) richer

This week is so much easier than the last. Watson's a little bit rowdier (the weather is cooler, so he expects us to walk him more than once a day or something. So demanding. Sheesh.) but the house is fairly quiet with Littlest Brother at my grandparents' and Middle Brother down for the count with a nasty cold*. PLUS, miracle of miracles, I've actually been sleeping.

Now for the delicious stuff!

I bought more books yesterday. Hooray!...My wallet is so pleased. They're mighty fine ones, too: ones from My Very Exclusive List. Note: I've only had the chance to read the first one (I bought them yesterday, so, you know, be patient), and, therefore, the latter two can't yet come with my full recommendation.

You ready? There's gonna be some clicky links, so prep the ol' digitus secundus.

First, The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman:

The book is, appropriately, tiny.

I'm going to use my supreme authority on the matter** to suggest that it's a lovely example of magic realism, which, as everybody knows, has a tendency to make me weak in the knees. Magic realism is one of those ever-evolving, "sort-of" genres that you can't really set out to write--some stories have it, and some don't. Simple as that. If you consciously try to do it, you'll probably write some horrible pish. One day, hopefully soon, I shall formalize thoughts on magic realism. And now I will stop deviating from Kaufman's lovely book.

The story is beautiful, the prose is outstanding, and the ending is perfect (incredibly high praise from Miss Picky over here). At only ninety-nine pages, and contained in all of 4" squared, you can (and likely will) read the whole thing in about an hour and a half. It says no more than is necessary without sacrificing detail. Basically, put it on the list of books I wish I had written.

I don't want to risk spoiling the story for you, but you should definitely go to Jen Campbell's blog to take a peek at her lovely interview with Kaufman. Also--extra plug--Campbell's blog is super hella fab, so you should probably just go ahead and add it to your Reader. Seriously. Here's the link and everything. (http://jen-campbell.blogspot.com/)

Next up, NPR darling Swamplandia!, Karen Russell's first novel.

Swamplandia! is the story of thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree, her family, and her family's struggling theme park (where they, you know, wrestle alligators. Like ya do. Ain't no thang).

As those peeps of mine who follow this blog know, I recently finished St. Lucy's Home For Girls Raised By Wolves (Russell's lovely short story collection). I think Swamplandia! will allow Russell to do everything I loved about the pieces in St Lucy's--in short, write a friggin' great story. There is no doubt in my mind that it will be the sort of novel I can't put down--playful language, engaging story (about family! double points!), charming POV, magic realism/folk tale elements (my Achilles Heel. If you shot my heel with a Magic Realist Mythology Folktale Arrow, I would definitely die), etc--so if Russell can pull off a good ending, I will tell everyone to read this. Everyone.

Anywho, on to NUMERO TRES! Busy Monsters by William Giraldi:

I'm pretty stoked to read this. The July/August issue of Poets & Writers had an interview with Giraldi, and I was sold. Giraldi just sounds like an awesome person, in addition to his obvious talent, and I like to support awesome, talented people.

Since I haven't started reading this one, the only info I really have about the story comes from the front flap. To sum up, main character Charles Homar's fiance leaves him to hunt the kraken. He's sad. He decides to hunt mythical creatures, too, and writes about it for a magazine. ...Cryptozoology, guys. How can you say no?

One reviewer even compared Giraldi's work to Nabokov and O'Connor. Simultaneously. Pardon me while I swoon for a minute.


Yeah, that was a good swoon. Daniel had to pull out the smelling salts and everything.

So, see anything you might like? Beholde! Here be links to Powells.com (or I'm sure you could find/order them through your local bookstore)

The Tiny Wifehttp://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780982525456-0
Busy Monstershttp://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780393079623-6

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an afternoon engagement with some black bean soup and the Bigtree family.

*I let him stay home from school today. Man, I'm such a nice big sister. ...Hopefully I don't get his nasty cold, though; kid's lookin' mighty haggard.
**I've even TA-ed a class on the subject

(as per usual, all photos by me, k czuba)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

so this is what it feels like to be insane

I've been home for a few days now. It's been nutsybonkers. Being a parent and simultaneously trying to maintain a household has to be the most taxing occupation--particularly when your family is loud and rambunctious. I feel for my parents. This is not the first time I have taken on mom-and-dad duties for the 'rents, but I've never tried it any longer than five days or so. We're currently four days deep, with eleven to go. If Daniel wasn't here to help me, I would be toast.

There are a few factors at play here that make this bout of housekeeping a bit...let's go with super. First, I haven't slept through the night in weeks. A combination of heat and anxiety (the latter of which increases exponentially with the increasing sleep debt, creating a wonderful cycle of not-sleeping-ever) foiled my every attempt to catch up with my pal Morpheus. And then, when I did eventually fall asleep, I had terrifying dreams. I'd scream myself awake, and the not-sleep would begin again. Last night, after a much-needed night out with old friends at a deserted neighborhood bar*, I finally got more than two consecutive hours of sleep! In fact, I think I slept for almost eight hours. Refreshing! (Ahh, it's the little victories...) Second, the School Year has begun, and that means making sure my brothers get their homework done, have their lunches packed, and get to school on time. You know, parent stuff. Third, my family basically runs a small zoo--guinea pigs need their areas (7 guinea pigs, 4 areas) cleaned once a week with daily hay-freshening, chickens need poop scooped, fresh hay (also daily), and egg-checks in the afternoon, and the corgi needs to go on walks and be snuggled with 24/7 (he, like every member** of my family, needs CONSTANT ATTENTION ALL OF THE TIME OMG PAY ATTENTION NOW PLEASE LOOK AT MY CUTE CORGI BUTT AND GIVE ME TREATS THANK YOU). All need fresh food and water every day in their varying degrees. Also, I'm trying to catch up with all of the friends I have been deprived of by moving away. I got to see Danielle yesterday! We've been besties since a million years ago***, and I miss her every day that I'm in Seattle.

I'm sleepy as heck. Two of my brothers and two of our cousins are currently sitting in the dining room, playing a very loud card game. I would like to note that no one was supposed to be home on the weekends, because Brother 1 only quasi-lives here, and Brothers 2 & 3 are staying at an aunt and uncle's house. They're not misbehaving at all--I just don't like spontaneous loudness when what was planned was a few hours of quiet so I could get my head cleared. Ahhh, and my parents wonder why I find the idea of having children to be horrifying. Note to self: My parents are saints. Seriously.

Since I've been losing my mind, I decided to relax with a crafty project. It provided me with about an hour of brain-quiet between taking Watson to the dog park and doing laundry. (Doctor Who provided me with another 47 minutes of down-time right before The Loud Teen Brigade stormed in.****) Here. I will show you pictures.

Yeah! I made two light bulb vases! One is from a chandelier bulb (the skinny, pointy one) and the other, from a vanity bulb (you know, the ones used in those bathroom fixtures over mirrors? I don't actually remember if it was referred to as a vanity bulb, but I'm not going to dig the box out and find the real name. It's big and round. There you go). I used fabric around the rim of the latter because the metal bit ended up a bit too short to be pretty. In case you want to make one, note that the bigger bulbs have thicker inside-glass that you need to break, which is a pain. It looks great once it's finished, but the first vase was WAY easier to do.

Having pretty flowers in funky vases helped lighten my mood a bunch. Plus, I get to see Steven and Katie tonight, and that always makes me happy.

*Seriously. We were the only people there. Until this lady showed up with her dude and asked if she could play piano. We told her "of course!" thinking we were about to be serenaded. She was really bad. But I highly recommend empty bars. It was awesome.
**I include myself here. None are exempt.
***not exaggerating 
****In defense of my two cousins who came over with Matthew, they're pretty chill. Conrad's base volume, however, is 1200000, and Matthew projects his voice like the best Broadway actors. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's too hot for anything but tears

You guys don't have to tell me I'm a wimp--I already know. But, seriously, when the outdoor temp gets above, say 75, it makes me want to cry. Unless I'm at the beach. Then I'm ok with it. 

My dad told me--as if it was no big thing--that the weather at home (where Daniel and I are going this week) will be reaching 99-100 degrees Fahrenheit. I've been crying myself to sleep at night over 81 degrees. Thank god my parents have a basement, I guess. Barf.

Seriously, make fun of me all you want, but if you got sunburns and heat rashes at the mere suggestion of sunlight, you'd be a sad panda, too. If I had my own private lake, shaded by trees, I'd probably welcome this weather. Last I checked, all I have is a bathtub with lots of obstinate calcium deposits--which I do plan on visiting it this afternoon. Perhaps filled with ice cubes.

This "holiday weekend" has been pretty nice, actually. Went down to the houseboat yesterday and had an impromptu shindig with a bunch of family that had the same beat-the-heat idea. We made sun tea, read books, went swimming, and I got to hold some babies. So, the best afternoon ever. Today I have the apartment to myself for a few hours (Daniel and Rob are doing* science at a coffee shop), which is nice**, but I'm working, so it's kind of your average Monday instead of a beach-party-3-day-weekend-with-bonfires-and-boozing (or however people celebrate Labor Day). At present, I am re-reading The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder--more of that Literary Comfort Food. I haven't been in the mood to read anything new, though I couldn't tell you why. There's a list of books that sound hella fantastic just hangin' out in my googledocs, but I've been picking old favorites instead. If you haven't read The Solitaire Mystery, by the way, you definitely should. Sophie's World was Gaarder's super famous book, but I think Solitaire is his masterpiece. 

Oh! I did read a new book recently! St. Lucy's Home For Girls Raised By Wolves, Karen Russell's short story collection. I think her stories were beautiful and haunting, but the endings tended to be a little ...abrupt? It's possible that she just likes the sort of ending that doesn't wrap up a single thing, and that's cool, but I find an entire book of endings like that to be a tad frustrating. I think variety is a perk that you don't often get in a collection of one author's shorts. St. Lucy's comes with my recommendation, but I would suggest reading one story at a time, either in conjunction with a few other books of short stories, or just whenever you feel like you need a lovely break from that tome  you're slogging through.

Also, did my nails yesterday. I've been digging this half-moon look for a while (first saw it via the cherry blossom girl), so I went and bought little circle stickers--I used Avery Reinforcement Labels--and took my nail polish down to the houseboat with me. Here's an additional link to the tutorial on The Beauty Department, which is actually a pretty neat blog (high praise, considering I rarely wear more than eye liner and spend precisely 0 minutes on my hair most days), aaaaand then my poorly done rendition:

Lucky for me, the camera phone quality of the photo has mostly disguised the fact that they look, um, less than professional. That being said, it was pretty fun! PS the QFC on Broadway in Cap Hill has the worst cosmetics department ever. Look elsewhere for your nail polish needs.

Alrighty, now that this blog post is twelve years long or so, I'm gonna peace out. Time for work-outs and an ice bath.

*or, more accurately, reading about
**whilst alone, I tend to be less talkative and--sometimes, on the rarest of occasions--more productive