Shaun Tan and "The Arrival"

Sophie's post made me think about kids' authors/illustrators I loved growing up (and now.) Chris Van Allsburg is right up there at the top with Dr. Seuss; I STILL get chills reading the polar express (although that may have more to do with my memories of hearing William Hurt's voice from the audio recording.) Shaun Tan, however, is my nomination for the best kids-book illustrator working today. His mix of whimsy, surrealism, skill, and intense creativity put him head and shoulders above anything else I've read in the field. A good example of his art can be found in "The Red Tree", but his recently released masterpiece "The Arrival" took my breath away. It's a silent (wordless) graphic novel rendered in soft pastel shades, depicting the emigration of a man from his crumbling, broken homeland, to a strange and utterly foreign city where he can start new. It's a clear parallel to the immigrant experience at Ellis Island, but in recreating New York so as to be as beautiful, surreal, and bewildering to us as it would be to a newcomer, we are forced to see it through his eyes.


So, let me see, I don't think I have posted anything here for a long time. Considering that I am on the couch anyways, I think it is high time I started contributing once again. And so I'll begin with Moomins.
When I was a little tyke, this was my favorite series, and I must admit that it still remains so, even after all these years. The books are written by Tove Jansson, a Finnish author, and are very popular in Finland. My great-grandmother, when she was abroad, brought back two Moomin books for my mother. She treasured them all her childhood, and luckily saved them. They are like nothing you will ever encounter, filled with adventures, stories, memoirs, and small beasts of all sorts who wear bows on their tails.
For more information, click here, and I would recommend the series to everyone of all ages as the most humorous, engaging and adventurous children's book I have ever read.


Hm. Figure Skating.

When I was little, I didn't like the Summer Olympics because there wasn't any figure skating involved. I loved figure skating. I loved having a favorite and singing his or her praises while uttering bitter invectives against the offending opponents' programs/costumes/choice of music. It was awesome.
And then I realized that Figure Skating is, by and large, really boring. During the last Olympics I was interested enough to want the Rusky to win the men's competition, but that was only because he skated fast and hard, and jumped very high. All the other men I saw skated slowly and emotionally and oh so very tediously.
Last night was the US Figure Skating Championships and I watched, mainly for old time's sake. Then, slowly, reluctantly, I got sucked in. I was primarily interested in the rivalry between the effeminately appalling Johnny Weir and the tall, dark, and handsome Evan Lysacek. (Lysacek also happens to be unexpectedly masculine. If I hadn't just seen him zooming around the rink, I would never peg him as an ice skater.) It was pretty cool, because they ended up with the exact same score at the end of the night, but because Lysacek's long program was better (soooooo much better...but hey, I'm not a judge. I only have the faintest idea of what they're doing out there.) he won!
His voice is at least a fifth lower than Weir's. He also did not have jewels on his clothing. He also did not burst into tears at the end of his program. He yelled something, possibly "Huzzah!" , punched an imaginary something (Weir, possibly?), and left. I was extremely pleased. As far as I'm concerned, if the men must skate, they should spin really fast, jump really high (quads, quads, quads), have exciting footwork, and at least some degree of composure. That's all I ask.
So, yes, I'll probably end up watching the exhibition on this all because I've been deprived of football for a week, I wonder?


I saw riverdance!

Yeah, I did! I wish I could describe it more aptly, but on further consideration, I realize that it was one of those experiences where you just had to have been there. All I can say is that yes, it was cheesier than the old show we have a tape of, but at the same time, it was way, way, way, cooler. They jazzed everything up and made it even more entertaining. There was only one act that had me bored/amused for its entirety...they had some kind of slow pagan song and dance thing going on, hyper dramatic and intense, supposedly. I kept myself from laughing out loud by the force of my iron will and my consumate sense of propriety, of course. That's not to say I wasn't shaking silently with repressed giggles.
At one point the voiceover guy (talk about dramatic) was meandering on about the Irish immigrating to the new land (America) and taking their culture with them, etc. etc. The lights go up, and they started doing something like line dancing/square dancing, but more impressive. Basically, not your grandmother's barn raising. I kept expecting the voiceover guy to continue "we came to America....and then it all devolved into this stuff." (Square dancing)

It was a really good show, anyway, and I'm really glad I got to see them live. It was pretty awesome.


back at last

Well. 18-0 is more eloquent than any words I could say. Mine Patriots deliver when I need them to, and I have no doubt that they can blaze their way to immortality on February 3. As for the New York Giants, I can only wonder at the strange fate that led a young man unable to speak intelligibly to victory over a seasoned and articulate veteran. Not that rhetoric has anything to do with winning football games, but I suppose a deep seeded anger came to life at what I perceived to be the injustice of it all. Brett Favre is so cool and now he's probably going to retire and he won't have a super bowl ring to home with. Nice going, Eli. So far as the other aspects of my life go, I have to say that I consider Daniel Defoe a most unfortunate individual and if had met him I would have advised him to pursue a different career, writing not being his strong suit. And now I have to write a research report on Roe V. Wade and I don't know how that's going to go. I've never done a good research report before. A new discovery I've made is Rawhide . A young Clint Eastwood is intrinsically hilarious. I mean, anything he says makes me laugh because I'm always shocked at seeing a young and chipper Man With No Name.


XKCD may be one of the best things on the internet. All of the characters are stick figures, and all the jokes are perfect. Sure, a lot of them involve knowledge of programming culture that goes right over my head, but for the most part, seeing a new comic up is the high point of my day.
Its home page contains the warning: "this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)."