Sunday is winding down, and I have been back in Nova Scotia for four whole days. Jet lag still has me in its clutches, but today saw a major breakthrough: because I took a half an Ambien at 3:30 a.m. (a apocalyptic measure on my part), I only slept till noon, rather than till 3 p.m. Progress is progress.
If I can just get back on some sort of a normal schedule, the week to come will be all about prepping for the fall semester and getting the house ready for visitors from the States (hurrah!). But since I currently spend many, many more waking hours in the dark than in the sunlight, I am living an oddly hermetic life. Good news for my watching and reading. Bad news for all the work that needs to be done.
Yesterday, my cable company unexpectedly and abruptly added AMC to my line up. Praise the television gods. So now I have access to Mad Men and Rubicon and all the other delights of the upcoming AMC-makes-a-play-to-be-the-next-HBO season. Meanwhile, I have been catching up with The Pillars of the Earth, which is chock-a-block with spectacular actors, but has a general air of halfheartedness. Everyone seems slightly uncomfortable - avoiding touching their elaborate wigs and dealing gingerly with their rather diminutive broadswords.
And I finally caught the last episode of the first season of Treme, which was slow and elegiac and underscored the fact that this is a show about place more than any other television show I can remember. It is the city of New Orleans that has a drama, a conflict, an arc of development, more than any of the characters, who are just going through their normal (albeit post-cataclysmic) lives. Because of this, it is perfectly suited the the long format of television, while being utterly unlike the plot- and character-heavy conventions of television that I know and love. It is fascinating.
How have I lived 'til now in ignorance of Pamplamoose? Their videos are like what would happen if Michel Gondry (on a calm day) took to making YouTube videos for indie singer-songwriters in somebody's parents' den. And if they had all somehow offended a hedge-witch, who placed a curse (a curse that was actually a blessing, naturally) upon them, condemning them to a lifetime of covers.
First, a classic:
But then, a song to spawn a million brilliant covers:
Notice how when she actually "puts her hands up" about three-quarters of the way through the song, she does it in a sort of "well, what are you going to do? I know, I know..." gesture. Love it.
And I couldn't let the week go by without sharing this other piece of retro wit that refuses to be evicted from my brain space (be wary of adult language here):
On the airplanes coming home (I had two long-haul flights, Honolulu to Los Angeles to Newark) and one short one (Newark to Halifax), I got a fair amount of reading done, finishing off Kathryn Miller Haines's mouthy mystery of wartime New York, The War Against Miss Winter, on the first flight and John Marsden's The Dead of Night on the second. The heroine of Haines's novel is an aspiring actress on a forties Broadway that is overburdened with women and rather short on men, so she takes a side job as the assistant to a private eye. But then one day she shows up to work to find her boss dead...
The Dead of Night is the second in Marsden's series about a dystopian Australia, which an unnamed nation has invaded and is brutally colonizing. The novel follows a group of teenagers who happened to be on a camping trip in the bush during the invasion, and who now feel like the only guerrilla resistance to the obliteration of everything they once loved. It is an unusually detailed, practical approach to the question of war, and exactly what it is that teenagers are capable and willing to do for love of the abstract conception of country and the wrenchingly absent idea of community.
When I got home, I immediately devoured the second volume of the fascinating manga Ooku: The Inner Chambers. More on that here.
I am in the middle of three books right now. First, George Elliot Clarke's searing, furious, Nova Scotian poetry cycle, Blue, which I have come back to along with my Haligonian home. Next, The Masque of the Black Tulip, which Lauren Willig wrote while finishing her doctorate in history and plowing her way through law school. This makes me think that I could be doing a lot more with my days if I woke up before noon. It is a double tale of a modern graduate student, pursuing a rich archive for her dissertation research in the house of an unusually attractive aristocrat, and the group of anti-Napoleonic spies who are the subjects of that archive. The third book is another Nova Scotian epic - Anne-Marie MacDonald's Fall on your Knees - which swept me up in its world immediately and convinced me (a few dozen pages in) that nothing good will ever happen to any of its characters. Sigh.
Off I go to post this while there are still a few moments left in this Sunday, although many hours before I get tired.... Happy Sunday, Saloners.