28 January 2009

My little tribute to John Updike.

John Updike
March 18, 1932 - January 27, 2009

John Updike died yesterday at the age of 76. A classmate announced it in one of my English classes - turns out that we were discussing realism that day too.
It had seemed that John Updike was the one man who would never stop writing. He often crafted sentences that drew our attention to a detail of suburban life that we would never have otherwise noticed. And crafted a vast, rolling landscape of them - enough reading to last well beyond his death. There was a poignancy in the care he took to portray American life, as flawed as it is. On the subject of suburban adultery, which was often a topic of his writing (as in Rabbit, Run), Updike said it was "a subject which, if I have not exhausted, has exhausted me."
And not only did he write novels - so many of them - he wrote essays, short stories, poetry... even continued to write reviews. It's probable that he frustrated many with his prolific writing - how can one person write so much and possibly have it be so good? - but it's certain he also charmed many more.

Sometime last year, Rabbit, Run became the first work of John Updike's that I had read. I won't spoil it, but I loved it. Certain passages are absolutely tragic. And fortunately, he left a lot more to us.

From Rabbit, Run:
"I had forgotten," she says.
"Forgotten what?"
"That I could have it too."
"What’s it like?"
"Oh. It’s like falling through."
"Where do
you fall to?"
"Nowhere. I can’t talk about it."
Sure, it's a conversation about orgasm, but the quote has its resonances in death as well.

27 January 2009

First sticking snow of the winter?

We've had a couple of days this winter of mild flurry fall, but this morning I awoke to a nice steady snowfall that has decided so far to stick. They're predicting a couple of inches before the day is out! Finally.

Yeah! Snow!!A light morning dust upon my street.

Also, am I the only one who had trouble figuring out this next slogan?

It reads on the 7-Eleven coffee cups: "If we charged any more for coffee, you'd have to wait in line."
I get it now, and I guess I'll grant that there's value to the type of advertising campaign that isn't immediately translucent to the consumer. It did capture my attention and force me to ponder why it was that I'd have to wait in line... It's possible, however, that it was just my pre-caffeinated dozy state (practically slept through the whole bus ride). 7-Eleven's strategy of mimicking higher end coffee shops is appropriate for the pocketbooks of today. Pseudo-lattes galore, eh? Let's just say a buck and some change is far easier to swallow - or to sip - than three or four bucks of burnt beans.

23 January 2009

Photos from the Morning of the Inauguration

By 'morning,' I mean the early morn, say around 6am. Just a few frigid shots to follow, from the pedestrian bridge takeover towards the Capitol to the cool (filled to capacity) bike parking which we only discovered afterwards:

16 January 2009

Friday photo file!

Here's a statue by Alexander Phimister Proctor, one of the tigers guarding the 16th Street Bridge. Proctor was a sculptor who is also known for the famous buffalo statues on the Dumbarton (Q St) Bridge near Dupont Circle and Georgetown. I like that the tigers get all gussied-up for the winter. They even seem to be getting into the Inauguration spirit here, with the tiny American flags!

It's no news to anybody in DC that it's cold, but...

12deg Fahrenheit, but feels like -3deg
I honestly can't remember the last time it's been this cold in DC. And still no real snowfall! How frustrating!
In warmer news, the Inauguration ceremony for our new President Barack Obama is only four days away now. Here's to hoping the weather's a little more bearable on Tuesday.

12 January 2009

Arundhati Roy - The God of Small Things

Beginning with this year's booklist, I'm going to try to write mini-reviews for what I've read. I'll post them here on the blog, too.
Also, I am now shopping around for web hosting, though I am going to first design and write some pages for my site.

Here's the review I wrote up for book #03 of this year:
Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things – her first novel – demonstrates her remarkable ability to capture the effects of a single day’s events. Her novel follows the story of a family in India, fluidly intertwining through time rather than tracing a chronological path. The author reveals how small actions can be grow to enormous, nearly disastrous, proportions. The history told of these characters carries the echo of the grander history outside their own world, of India and of human life. Roy is fantastic in her ability to write in the voices of the twin children, Estha and Rahel, changing the structure of the English language to reflect the purity of youth. The reader learns in due course about the tragic happening that has destroyed that purity, though Roy carefully holds the reader in an aching state of half-knowing until the end. Arundhati Roy shows in this novel that she is gifted with not only the art of poetic language, but also with the craft of weaving a deeply resonant narrative.
You'll rush through it with a sense of urgency (so in that way, it's a fast read). I'd love to give it a re-read to catch the things I missed the first time through.

08 January 2009

Lead-up to Inauguration.

There's a great deal of talk surrounding the upcoming Inauguration of President Barack Obama, but it cannot be denied that Washington, DC is going to feel like a changed city the morning of January 20th.

Well, just take a look at this breakdown of the traffic routes that day: WTOP Inauguration Traffic. They've even got a handy Google map that shows the road closings - basically overlaying the map of downtown DC with red lines. Bridges closed as well, essentially cutting off the city from Northern Virginia. Living within the city has its advantages. Hopefully walking will be less chaotic. I plan on a photo outing with a friend over the course of the Inauguration events, so those'll be posted around here soon.

12 Days Until Inauguration, the Presidential Inaugural Committee reports.

07 January 2009

One of my goals for this year is to keep a more comprehensive booklist. Rather than jotting down solely the titles, authors and date of completion, I'm keeping a little notebook on hand to write down reactions, interesting quotes, and references to look into further.

I should probably also create a webpage for it when 2009's out. Ideally I'll have time to create a new web portfolio, complete with photography, writing, random bits like the booklists for each year, as well as an embedded blog. Yep. I used to have a web portfolio for my photography but I have no idea what happened to it (I mean, well, I know - it fell into neglect). Anyway, it'd be useful and a fun project.

Also, I plan to write waaay more. Working on a couple of stories right now.

02 January 2009

2009 shall be great.