Derik Badman's Journal

2022-02-21 09:27

A woodpecker pecking on a tree. I can't see him. He pauses and repeats; the tree sounds almost hollow, the percussion like a woodblock.

Finished Bleak House the other day. Ended up enjoying it so much I averaged two sections a night so I finished quicker than I thought I would. Only in the end did I realize how little some of the main characters were fleshed out. Dickens is great with presenting a quirky character with a primary schtick, but if you scratch behind the surface you often realize there is nothing else there. The two people closest to the primary first person narrator, Esther, remain rather mysterious to the end, we learn almost nothing about them except how Esther feels about them. That said, it wasn't something that bothered me during the reading of the book. The chapters jump around so much, so that one never feels too stuck on any one narrative thread, and there is much enjoyment to be had from trying to figure how they will all fit together (there are of course many revelations over the course of the book).

I started in on Portrait of the Artist two nights later, after a brief stop for two stories in Dubliners to remind me that I don't really like short stories much.

A good slew of mini-comics this week too. The new King-Cat (81) showed up with the usual delight, increased even more by the inclusion of a brief letter from me (actually an online comment, but that passes as a letter these days). John mixes a few autobiographical narratives with short poetic comics with a care to sequencing that is, I think, often under noticed.

A package from Frank Santoro arrived with Pittsburgh 2: Running Numbers a mini-comic made with color photocopies, stapled together. He mixed typewritten (as in with a typewriter) text on the verso with lovely pen and marker comics pages on the recto. Frank is so great at his loose drawings in bright colors, sometimes with collaged in corrections, and text written on to provide details. The whole thing reads as a combo of personal contemporary writing, family history (it is after a sort of a sequel to his Pittsburgh book), and general Pittsburgh writing. All around a really great read.

Finally got to see Hong Sang-Soo's The Woman Who Ran (he has now released three movies since this one premiered back in the beginning of 2020), another one of his pared down films starring Kim Min-Hee. This one eschews the overt playing with narrative time, instead providing a rather linear sequence of three scenes with Kim meeting up with women at a succession of places, discussing their lives, though Kim's character seem to always be holding back something, or at least understating something important. I definitely need to watch it again. This one is also surprising for its lack of excessive drinking during conversations. There's also a cat that steals a scene with a big yawn (either that cat is very well trained of Hong was extremely lucky).

The weather has been all over the place lately. A lovely day in the low 60's, freezing days in the low teens. The other day I looked out the window and there was snow blowing all about, a sudden snow squall that filled the air with flakes, settled beautifully on the trees, and then was gone and melted in an hour or two.

I've been cutting back on my alcohol consumption lately, getting back to pre-covid levels, which has certainly contributed to my increased reading, as I am not quite so ready to fall asleep when I sit in bed reading at night. Unfortunately I've also been having increased lower back pain when I sleep.