I’ve been readin’ up a storm

Well, that last rant seemed to quiet down the comments a little on my blog. Ah well, I needed to get it out of my system :). You’ll all be happy to know that they turned the air conditioners on on Thursday morning after our vice principal spent an hour in the downstairs office. It was quite funny when he ran into the room and yelled “Close the windows!” and all the teachers ran and there were relieved exclamations of “Yokatta!” (Oh good!) and “Yosh!” (Yay!). I heard from one of our neighbours that they are still refusing to turn on the air conditioners at her school until July 1. Poor her!!

Anyways, I’ve been reading. Reading reading reading. If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, you know that earlier this month I was reading Thoreau’s Walden and re-reading Life of Pi. Well, because we’re leaving Japan soon, I returned the mostly unread Thoreau to my friend Minette. I figure at some point in the future I’ll be in a mindset more appropriate to it.

After Life of Pi I sped my way through Jarrod’s copies of Holly Black’s Spiderwick Chronicles. They’re amazing books! Jarrod liked the fact that the main character, Jared, had the same name (though different spelling) than him, and that the books were full of elves, fairies, brownies, trolls, and even a griffin! Definitely up our alley! I had a huge interest in such things when I was his age, and used the $20 book gift certificate that I won through the Saskatoon Public Library’s Summer Reading Contest to buy a big book about fairies when I was nine.

Next, I read Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle. I wish someone had told me about this author earlier! I had heard good things about her, especially since Miyazaki’s movie came out. All sorts of strange twists and turns in the story and I could see how Miyazaki would have read the book and immediately seen how well it would work for one of his movies. Castles that fly around, anthropomorphism (a scarecrow, a fire in a hearth), and one strange old lady (sort of an old lady – you’ll have to read the book or see the movie to find that one out!). When we get back to Canada I want to see the movie!! Unlike the way Disney turns good thick stories (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, etc.) into mindless pap with happy endings, I trust Miyazaki to keep the dark edges on a story. I refuse to forgive Disney for what they did to the ending of The Little Mermaid. ick.

And after that (yes, after that – I warned you I read a lot!) I worked my way through Jarrod’s copies of John Scieszka’s Time Warp Trio series. We own books 1 through 11, though they’re up to number 13 as far as I can tell from looking online. The basic plotline is that there’s these three 10-year-old boys, one of which has been gifted with a magic book from his Uncle Joe, and it keeps pulling them through different times in history, where they get into a lot of trouble (like 10-year-old-boys are wont to do) and experiencing a lot of burping, farting, and bathroom jokes along with science, history, and just plain silliness. I think my favourite of the bunch was “Summer Reading is Killing Me!” where the boys are pulled into the literary world of their summer reading list. You’ll never look at Little House on the Prairie or teddy bears in the same way again. bwahahaha! When we get back to Saskatoon (wow I type that a lot!) we’re going to make a visit to McNally Robinson and buy the 2 books of the series that we’re missing.

You may also have read in a past post that I suspected that Ed may have ordered some Neil Gaiman via amazon Japan. I was right!!! Though he did trick me by only ordering one Neil Gaiman book and then a book of Japanese fairy stories. Silly man. I’m reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods now. I think Ed was right when he was reading it and kept saying “I think you’ll get a lot more out of this than me, but it doesn’t make it any less good!” The premise is that all the settlers that came to America brought their gods with them, and now, in the present, the gods are being neglected and attempting to keep their power and their lives. The main character is a man named “Shadow” who, after being released from prison immediately following his wife’s death in a car accident, is hired by the enigmatic and dark “Mr. Wednesday.” heh. Mr. Wednesday.

The “heh” came from the fact that I am a voracious reader of all sorts of myths, and with this cast of gods, I’m getting a lot of the subtleties that some readers might not immediately get. Wednesday is from the German “Wotan’s Day”, and in Norse, Wotan is Odin. Odin is more popularly (popularly? Perhaps less arcanely) known as the figure on the tarot card “The Hanged Man”. There’s all sort of other symbolism surrounding Odin that I won’t go into here. You can always look at what they have about him on Wikipedia if you want to know more.

I also really enjoyed Gaiman’s fine (though short) depiction of the Hindu goddess Kali. I’ve been quite obsessed with this goddess for a long while now. Here’s the Wiki on her. The wild goddess of death and destruction hiding in the physical shell of a plump old mama-ji in a sari was quite oddly apt.

If you don’t know much about mythology you’ll still get a lot out of American Gods. Gaiman’s writing is clear and vivid and the story moves in interesting and odd directions. Read it read it read it!

I’m almost done American Gods. In fact, I’m likely to finish it tonight. Not sure what I’ll read next. I almost bought Jostein Gaarder’s The Orange Girl again on the weekend, but the ¥1250 price tag stopped me. Again. It’s a thin book, and I don’t want to pay about $15CAN for a thin pulp paperback when I’ll be able to get it easily and a lot more cheaply in less than a month. I may even (gasp!) borrow it from the library! (double gasp!). I appreciated the library before, but after being without one for two years I think I will appreciate it even more. DO NOT TAKE YOUR LIBRARY FOR GRANTED!!! Especially if you read at the speed at which I do!

I still have the entire Dune series sitting on our almost empty bookshelf. (Yes, we’ve been packing.) I think re-reading that for the 7th or 8th or 9th time (I lost count after 5) might keep me entertained until we leave. If I savour it maybe I’ll be able to make it last long enough to start the last book of the series, “Chapterhouse Dune” on the plane back to Canada.

I’m still reading Acting (Re)considered and am quite into it. It deserves it’s own post. I’ve been taking notes and raving about it to Ed. Poor Ed. Lia full of theatre theory and no one to talk to but poor poor theatre theoried-out Ed. I keep telling him it’s his karma for all those times he’s raved at me about something that I just didn’t get. Like code. Or something. Can’t think of specifics at the moment… He also had to put up with me watching a newly acquired kabuki DVD last night. Kabuki ROCKS!!! (more post fodder methinks.)

An aside from all the books: While I’ve been writing this, one of my 1st year students has been flirting with me in-between makeup English vocabulary quizzes. Apparently he loves me, wants to date me, want to go to a movie with me, and when he’s 18 he’s going to come to get me. hmmmm. Also, I am very very very lots beautiful. Many many many beauty. Apparently. Apparently he is also married to my friend who teaches Japanese. (Pointed at her and said, “My wife!”) He got hit in the head with a book by one of the English teachers for that one :). Yoko didn’t hear him (lucky for the student!) I tried explaining to him that he’s 15 and I’ve been married for 13 years. I don’t think he quite understood. Ah well. He’s visited me to flirt with me many times and may be crushed when he realizes I’m leaving. The next ALT may be a guy, which may crush this student even more. But the girls will be happy 🙂

23 days left as of today!! Yosh!!!