Sorry I’m late with the snazz; I ended up with a headache yesterday and didn’t get the chance to update again. In any case…

Take a strange journey to Outer Suburbia

Take a strange journey to Outer Suburbia

It’s just not March without daffodils, or, at least, that’s what I learned from going to school in MN. Fortunately, Portland agrees with me. The other interesting thing about having gone to school in MN is that apparently one of the contestants of “Make Me a Supermodel” is from my alma mater. Too bad the show is too painful to watch (definitely not snazz-worthy), or I’d root for him because  I, too, can’t help but fall into the illogical logic of “he goes to my school; therefore he’s awesome.” Well, despite that not being snazz, the following things are:

Books

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood- I’m about 200 pages in and totally hooked. It’s an odd juxtaposition of a woman talking about her life, snippets from a strange novel by her sister, and random newspaper clippings. I don’t know where it’s heading yet, but Atwood writes with a dexterity that inspires confidence, and so I’m not worried. Also, I’m enjoying the unusual point of view–the main character is a woman in her 90’s, and the combination of her spirited kvetching and her unease over the way people treat an aging woman (as if she’s made of glass) make her a fresh, entertaining voice to hear.

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan- This book for “young adults” (hah! Says who?) is at once an illustrated collection of short stories and something of a graphic novel (in that the pictures tell an integral part of the stories), and so far is a treat to read. It’s really short, and so I’ve been rationing the stories–no more than one a night. So far it’s been a strange, thought-provoking journey into the realm of the bizarre, mixing the mundane with the extraordinary (and yet I don’t get a “randomly strange for the sake of strangeness” vibe from it, which I greatly appreciate.) Yum. I’m glad my library hold on this one came through so quickly.

My flatmate and I have both been on  graphic novel kicks, which is great because it means we swap what we take out from the library. Twice the books AND a discussion partner in one. Now that is snazz:

The Best American Comics 2008 edited by Lynda Barry- I was nervous when Lynda Barry noted “Family Circus” as been her favorite comic of all time (and also disappointed because I like Lynda Barry!), but as soon I turned to the first story, “Burden” by Graham Annable, all my fears were allayed. I was hooked. Though I didn’t like every single comic in the book, it’s overall an outstanding collection and display of talent. Plus, if you’re interested in the art of narrative, like I am, seeing all sorts of different ways to tell a story through pictures is a huge treat!

Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan- I think I’m in the minority in this one, just taking a glance at the reviews, but I found Exit Wounds to be profoundly disappointing. Though I really enjoyed the artwork, Modan fell flat on the story telling by trying, almost self-consciously, to be subtle. The result is a graphic novel that just never felt finished to me. I was profoundly unconvinced by the relationships in the novel, and disappointed that a story that pretended to be revealing the complexities of relationships ended up just confirming the main character’s biases in the first place.  The most interesting thing that the novel does is hint at potential differences in political opinion along class lines in Israel, but because the main characters were not only stereotypes, but polar-opposites, I didn’t find them compelling.

And I just started Epileptic by David B.

Online Media

“Depression Era Cooking With Clara” (YouTube / Official Site)- This is really cool. A man named Christopher Cannucciari filmed a series of videos of his great grandmother Clara (age 93) cooking the type of food her family used to eat while she was growing up in New York during The Great Depression. As she cooks, she tells stories about her childhood and adds a personal context to the meals. It’s awesome to see these stories and recipes preserved and shared! Note- the creator himself uploaded the videos to YouTube, so you don’t have the feel like you’re cheating anyone out of their money or something by watching the episodes there. :)

Film

My flatmate studies African literature and has been attending the Cascade African Film Festival here in Portland. This week is “Women’s Week” and so he invited me to join him for this weeks showing, two feminism-centric documentaries.

A Love During the War – This was not the best made documentary in the world, but the story it told was so important that I think that it’s worth having seen. Love blends the story of the forced separation of a journalist named Aziza from her husband during the civil wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Aziza’s and other women’s work with the rape victims of the war. The stories didn’t mix well, but, frankly, I don’t care because if it makes people aware of what’s going on in the DRC, then good. I’d list details I picked up from the film, but, honestly, it’s enough to trigger anyone.

Awaiting for MenThis was the other documentary shown. It’s a film from Mauritania that showed three women who live in a strict Muslim community. The film makers asked them questions about their relationship with their husbands, the relationship between men and women, and sex. What was really great was that each woman had her own distinct views on the issue, which was extremely humanizing. However, I was really sensitive to the audience reaction, and I’m not quite sure they got it. One of my favorite parts was when, upon being asked who owns her body, one of the women turned right around and asked, “Who owns your body?” This got a few laughs from the audience, which saddens me because seriously, I think it’s a question all of us should think about. In our culture, who owns our bodies?

So tell me, what are you reading/watching/playing/seeing/enjoying?

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