merry christmas

dec 24: i just got off the elevator with a japanese neighbor who said to me, "so. how are you this today?" this today. since that moment i've been recounting my day. cursed the alarm clock but smiled that m - who always has to get up first - got to stay in bed. wore the same polo shirt as eighty other people. drank lukewarm cocoa on an eighty-five degree day. got sprayed with silly string. wore two party hats at one time to the tremendous amusement of one hundred some nine year olds. ate a new mysterious food - white coconut jelly shaped like a duck. ate altogether too much food. remembered that i don't hate my day job, and, in fact, that i think that nine year olds can be pretty great. christmas shopped. rode two different trains. fell asleep reading don quixote. daydreamed about wisconsin. rode the bus two times. got takeaway and busted the guy's balls about adding a service charge. bought candy to fill a stocking. trudged home. began finding notes stashed all around, recounting the magic in the shared moments of the past year. smiled. (i'm not yet done with those last two.)

hm. this today has been a far cry from bad or normal. but i have been caught off guard. christmas sneaks up with no snow. holidays reveal the charming, graceful parts of people that are too often covered over with the verdigris of this and that. i've had moments of clarity that cut through the incessant bossa nova christmas songs, and i wonder if maybe i'm believing in things. my dad sent me a christmassy book that arrived last night out of the blue and it lingered in my thoughts this today as one of my favorite gestures by anybody in a long time. m is sneakliy reminding me of moments as i fumble about the place.

if i had to say, i guess i'd go with sneaky; this today has been sneaky. and this today is christmas eve. so merry sneaky christmas. i miss all of your far away faces.


jeff mangum [music]

this was on kottke somewhat recently. it's been queuing up in my brain at intervals for more than a week. now it's here. and it's really great. [knitting factory, march 7, 1998.]


bad book covers [books]

having just written a post about being coerced by an attractive book cover (see below), it's timely that there's an essay in the times about the potentially negative effect that bad cover art might have on a book's readability. joe queenan, having struggled to reread his gaudy copy of the adventures of huckleberry finn, has new ideas about judging books by their covers. queenan claims to have "recently scrutinized (his) library to see how many unread books had disgusting covers. the results were staggering." queenan doesn't do much to qualify or quantify his theory, other than stating that unappealing cover art appears to have a direct correlation, negatively affecting the reader's perception of the book. it makes me wonder which unread books i've got sitting on bookshelves back in wisconsin that i might like to chalk up to this theory. in a somewhat related cover art story, the guardian's book blog gives lip to some grumbling about newly rebranded editions of wuthering heights clearly aimed at suckling at twilight's teat.

diane arbus [photography]

diane arbus was a pretty big deal. i just learned about her from fur, a soap-opera-like 'what if?' about arbus (played by goddamn nicole kidman) and a neighbor who suffers from hypertrichosis - werewolf syndrome! - (robert downey, jr., charming, as ever).


chronic city [books]

here we have a case of sold by the cover. after wandering the bookstore, marveling again at the superior inventiveness and style of asian (taiwanese and thai, at least) paperback cover art, i came to the new release tower in the english section. i managed to frugally pass over hardcover editions of nicholson baker's the anthologist and everything ravaged, everything burned by wells tower, but i couldn't resist the cover of faber and faber's first paperback edition of jonathan lethem's latest, chronic city. there aren't any revolutionary elements here: a bit-mapped tiger image with fangs of new york skyscrapers. enter my bibliophilia and the fact that this has been on my list, and the deed was done. i'll try to remember to take my camera to the bookstore in the future and do a post about these enviable asian book covers.

LINK: chronic city made the nytimes 10 best of 2009