Friday, January 12, 2007

she picked him up by his fin??

Reading about Dooce's surprise betta makes me want to weep. There are so many things wrong with the way she is treating him, from the food she's giving him (flakes don't have enough nutrition -- dried blood worms are good, and there are special betta pellets that don't build up because the anorectic little dudes only eat one or two a day) to the container he's living in (too small! too small! Sebastian and Thelma [the snail] share a large tank, one that is somewhere between two and five gallons; also, she's provided no gravel or plants or anything for him to hide in) to the awful picking him up by his dorsal fin to move him from one container to the next. Probably she is using water that they haven't even bother to de-chlorinate. I won't be surprised if he dies within a month if this keeps up. I am horrified, and I'm no fish saint -- it's been a year and two months since I tragically killed Laertes in an accident too horrible to talk about, something I can only live with because my first fish, Finnegan, lived to a fine old age.

My lord. The woman practically lives online, and yet she can't even do the most basic research? I spent several days reading about bettas before I decided to get one, and I was a flaky fifteen-year-old at the time. Sure, he's an accidental fish, but that is no excuse -- the first site that google spits out covers every single thing she is doing wrong and then some.

I used to be regularly amused by Heather Armstrong and anthropologically and psychologically interested in examining the fun Freudian subtexts of her posts, but more and more I come away disgusted, questioning her popularity, her fanbase, and the character of the woman herself. I wonder if she realizes how awful she seems in a lot of these recent posts. I can't imagine she does because why post them? But at the same time I can't fathom such a serious lack of self-awareness.

Sometimes I would like to email her and try to kindly (as kindly as I could manage, which would probably sound more curt than courteous) inform her of how shallow and entitled she comes across (see: New York Post) or how appallingly ignorant she is being -- but I don't feel like courting the possibility of ending up on one of her email posts.

*edit* Okay, so I joined the ranks of the other fish owners who are probably recoiling in shock from that post and sent her a quick email with just a few links to betta care websites and a sentence of goodwill towards Lou. I now wash my hands of the issue. You can lead a horse to water, etc.


Additionally, I am wild with the stress of packing and the horror of snow. We leave on Sunday. I hope.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Why I did not make a list of my favourite albums and songs of the year, with or without intelligent descriptions: I only bought four CDs, and only two of them were actually released in 2006.

Why I did not make a list of the best books I read in 2006: I read 94 books, not counting poetry and textbooks and theory and the ones I forgot to write down. 36 of these books scored highly in my complicated reviewing system. How can I possibly winnow it down?

Why I did not make a list of the worst books I read in 2006: I already complained about The Concrete Garden and I am vaguely embarrassed to admit that I read some of the other really rank books.

Why I did not make any new year resolutions: I prefer to make resolutions on my birthday. It's more meaningful for me. Also, I am feeling awfully hazy about my future and my goals -- not that this is a bad thing! It isn't bad at all! Better to feel nebulous than to cling rigidly to ideas about The Way Things Must Be. Being hazy suits me just fine right now.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

the last books of 2006

I ended up finishing four out of the five books I hoped to read before 2007. I could have read them all, but really, I was setting myself up for failure by including Saul Bellow, and I knew it at the time. The Adventures of Augie March? Really, what was I thinking? I will read it someday, but it is exactly the sort of thing I am not hungry for right now. I would have finished it out of sheer disgruntled stubbornness if I hadn't been sidetracked by a reading and rereading of every Faulkner book in our house.

Because I wrote about the other two books, here are a few late-night comments on the last two of the project:

Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami
--I have read several of Murakami's books (well, two) and I think this one is by far the most successful as a coherent novel. Murakami is good but never excellent because he so often seems incapable of tying his -- admittedly charming and unexpected -- concepts into a large piece. His endings are especially terrible, I think. He is the sort of author who should probably stick to short stories; that medium would at least allow his absurd and lovely ideas to shine like the gems they are, undisrupted by the clutter of attempted overarching plot. Wonderland seems to be an exception. At the same time, I was never once as charmed by anything in this book as I was by several parts of Kafka on the Shore. Still, it was a decent read.

And it prompted the realization that I will probably fall in love with the first decent man who gifts me with a pair of excellent nail clippers during a multi-course meal in an upscale restaurant.

The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon

I was expecting more. Of course, what I was expecting was based on no actual knowledge of the book itself, but was instead formed from a combination of good reviews and an incorrect assumption of the plot. You see, I thought the book was going to be some sort of macabre postmodern surrealist story about a serial killer. I had no idea it was about mail! I thought that it was probably about 49 murdered prostitutes buried in an abandoned lot or something. All I can say is that I clearly spend too much time watching Law & Order and not enough time reading newspapers.

The book wasn't great but wasn't bad. I would read more Pynchon, but wouldn't buy him. This was the last book of 2006: I read it in one sitting on New Year's Eve.

The first book of 2007 looks to be Absalom, Absalom. I love it, and not just because I have a latent obsession with the American Civil War. I have mixed and turbulent emotions about Faulkner as a person and as an artist, but there is simply no denying his brilliance. I actually started to weep at one point last night just because the wording of one sentence was so perfectly sonorous, so much like music, and I cried at its beauty and at the certain knowledge that I will never be able to construct anything so perfect.

I would post the sentence if I could find it in the book. Oh well. The content wasn't remarkable anyway; I probably wouldn't have realized its glory if I hadn't been mouthing the words as I read them -- something I often do with Faulkner just to keep the structure of his sentences clear in my mind. Full display of the music of language is one convincing argument for books on tape. I suspect that certain parts of The Sound and the Fury would be just magical if read aloud in entirety.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

no new year cheer, either

Our Denver trip was prematurely shortened by blizzards. The good is that my grandmother still knows me.The bad is that she does not know my cousins, who were also there, and that she is losing the ability to differentiate between her sons. More than once she pulled me down to wheelchair-level to ask me in whispers -- those agonizingly loud whispers of someone who has become quite hard of hearing but refuses to wear aids -- who those children belong to, which boy is visiting now? But she knows me. I think -- I like to think, I must think -- that she will know me until the end, that I may be the one person she does not forget. She knows me, but there is so much bad that it's hard to remember what a gift this is.


Wondering: at what point does a dabbling piece of writing become a book?