for those who are in or around sane

Wednesday, April 15

sunday brunch

sunday brunch with my fave iowans @ the publican

wood fired eggs with harissa, gouda and grilled bread
(i.e. the only food-gasm i've ever had)

gorgeous coffee setting with raw sugar cubes

serenity & steve, enjoying the meal
(not pictured but definitely represented by the amount of coffee consumed: brian)

Monday, April 6

fun link

rhett forwarded me this little gem of a video. it's much better with the sound on.

march books

quick! post now! it's already the 6th! ...that's what i'm telling myself today.

march was a catch up month for me. i had quite a few books going in february as a band-aid to my reading depression. it was nice to pick and choose as i went, but it did mean i didnt actually finish any of them...

the watchmen by alan moore, illustrated by dave gibbons
i hustled through this one before the movie premiered so it would be fresh in my mind. the last time i read watchmen was, i think, about 4 years ago. i was encouraged to read it by a few of my comic-loving friends, and i wasnt let down. it actually made me open up my mind to other forms of literature. prior to reading the watchmen, i couldnt grasp the comic genre as literature. in fact, i still have a hard time with it. one main reason is that when i read, i really use my imagination. the actual illustration of a comic is extremely distracting and/or difficult for me to reconcile with the text. i feel forced into seeing what the author wants me to see, as opposed to what i wish to see. on one level, i see this as helpful and insightful and inspired - this is the part that grasps that the watchmen should be on time's top 100 novels list. on another level, it's insulting that i need to be lead to see the story a certain way. to get over this, the way i re-read the watchmen this time was to think of it as watching a movie. i would soon be watching it anyway, so what was the harm?

i finished the book literally an hour before the movie started so i admit, i was nervous about the violence content of the movie. i had to distance myself from the book at times because of it's extreme nature. i'm not a fan of violence (for another post) but i think the movie did a pretty good job of expressing the book's intentions. one big part was left out - there is a comic allegory within the main story which mirrors and layers the plot. it was the most disturbing part of the comic for me (it did a very good job of itself) and i'm happy to note that the movie neglects to include it, but has it as a side story available on dvd. sigh of relief!!]

so, i'm forgetting the review part of my review... i love the watchmen graphic novel and i highly recommend it to anyone whose interest is piqued by politics, city crime issues, adventure, love and friendship. yep, it encompasses it all. the movie, please please please do NOT take your child. in fact, it's "r" rating sticks. i wouldnt want anyone younger than high school age watching. it's just too much violence and blue penis for kids. but, otherwise, i was very satisfied with many aspects of the movie and would recommend it to open minded readers.

practical demonkeeping by christopher moore
my fun book! kenz was sweet and got me the two chris moore books i havent read yet. this being one of them, i devoured it in just a few days time. travis is a 20-year-old stuck taking care of a real, live demon. he's been on the road for 90 years, trying to exert his authority over the moody and impetuous (and human hungry) green thing named catch. concealing catch has proven difficult and has left a bloody trail of missing homeless, theives and random oopsies (like travis' family). travis' goal is to figure out how to cast the demon back to hell.

he finds himself in pine cove, a tiny, calm coastal california town inhabited by laid back but very interesting folk. the plot gets sticky when a tiny man enters the town too - hot on their trail. he's the king of the djinn (yes, as in, genies) and has picked the town authority august brine as the main man to send catch back to the netherworld. as in all good moore books, everyone's lives are twisted together in various subplots that eventually all lead to an extremely bizarre and effed up (yet pleasantly happy) ending.

it's moore's first book, and you can kind of tell. the plot twists are a bit disjointed compared to his later works and it's not as clever of a theme as say, lamb or as effectively "out there" as fluke or dirty job. but i see where he got his fuel for the fiery cascade of books that have followed, and i'm happy to report that as i finished up this one, he released yet another new book!

a lion among men, by gregory maguire
the third in the wicked series. we follow, this time, the story of the cowardly lion from his first memories to almost exactly where the 2nd book left off. he runs into yackle, the oracle/old hag that followed elpheba around in wicked and we also hear her life story - in entirety. this was my audiobook and if it wasnt for the reader's amazing voice and reading quality, i would have stopped listening after disc 2. seriously, that was the whole plot. this one is MUCH more plodding, methodical and almost entirely unnecessary than the 2nd one. i didnt like son of a witch because of how dirty and annoying the main character, elpheba's son leer was but at least it had good plot twists and a mysterious ending that actually made me ok with picking up book #3.

it appears that we'll get a 4th too, as we left the lion in a transitional period and we didnt ever get back to resolve leer's situation. gotta say, at this point, i dont care. after spending january in reading hell, i dont want to inflict more drudgery when i have a whole stack of award-winning books waiting for their time, sitting patiently at the foot of my bed.

the book of secrets, by m.g. vassanji
i borrowed this one from v, and i'm very glad i did! originally i needed something quick to get into before the holidays. turns out this book needs some serious attention. i had to put it down but picked it back up and read it very quickly in march.

the plot is a wonderful twisting of fates and lives through a century of generations in asian-inhabited east africa. we start with the 1913 diary of alfred corbin, englishman and new consul to the town of kikono. he writes about the little town's inhabitants and focuses especially on one beautiful and strange woman, mariamu. through her lineage we work our way up to the man knitting together these stories from threads of "research" - pius fernandes, who is a retired schoolteacher in kenya in the 1980's. his story is linked with corbin's and with mariamu's and her offspring.

i really enjoyed the transitions in this one. since we skip around in history, it would have been easy to get lost, but vassanji weaves his story carefully. i highly recommend this one, and am very glad it explored a part of the world i know nothing about.

on deck for april is a good story i've been plowing through since the 1st. i hope to finish it, but what with bday stuff and friends in town, it may prove difficult to find the extra time. i'll do my best! happy reading!