Visual language: or a new wander

In which I begin a new intellectual wander amongst the idea of visual language, particularly in comics, or at least that is how I got interested in it in a roundabout way.

My son and my friend Dave will probably laugh at me as this is the kind of thinking they’ve both done for much of their lives. They are visually arty. And musically. I am neither.

Past wanders

I am not sure that I am going to continue homebrewing and I am, after my last session of doing so, seriously reconsidering my beer judging. But those are different stories. This is about a new rabbit hole. “Psst, over here. “

Context

As my Thursday AM coffee shop book, I am currently reading Smits, Rik. The Puzzle of Lefthandedness. Translated by Liz Waters, Reaktion, 2011, and it is fascinating! At least to a left-hander from a family of left-handers. Old enough that my parents were “seriously discouraged” from using said left hand and that even my doing so was looked down on, at the least, at school. Yes, I smeared a lot because that stupid non-smearing way to supposedly hold your pencil was dreamt up by a right-handed zealot with a sadistic streak. [That’s my story.]

Anyway, fascinating book! It is a series of 38 essay-ish pieces (I am about halfway through) about left-handedness but also about the concepts of left and right and their symbolic meanings, and so on. Sort of like 38 takes at tossing a dart at the dart board of the topic from 38 different points in space from all around the target. So, thus, not a coherent, long-form, argument, but a truly interesting way to break off into related topics.

The last couple chapters I read started with one on left and right in the murder genre of Western painting. Because of course “we” have one! ::sigh:: Then there was one on the violence towards women—almost always sexual—in Western painting. This also included the object of the male gaze, the “harlot.” Next was one on left and right in married couples portraits, and single portraits also, which also translates into where the woman stands in a traditional church wedding and which side she exits on, etc.

Interspersed throughout these chapters were talk about how all this depiction of movement [arriving vs departing, messengers with good news versus bad news, etc. transferred to most other forms of art and much of culture, including the stage, the silver screen, comic books and graphic novels, advertising, and so on. Much of this was also looked at cross-culturally; in literate cultures, much hinges on direction of writing and reading.

The point

All this really got me thinking as I have been reading so many graphic novels, comics, and some manga and I am often lost by the artwork and I am self-aware enough to know that sometimes it isn’t simply me or bad art but that I just don’t understand the conventions; especially true regarding manga and other forms of Japanese comics/anime.

Neil Cohn

Over the past weekend I discussed this with my wife and she started poking the Interwebz and found the the following article: Cohn, Neil. Comics, Linguistics, and Visual Language: The Past and Future of a Field. http://www.visuallanguagelab.com/P/NC_Comics&Linguistics.pdf. Accessed 6 Mar. 2018.

Yesterday I got a chance to print it and read it and it was mind-blowing how perfect it was for me. It isn’t exactly a practical lexicon of comics art, if you will, or not at all, which is what I sort of wanted: something to the point without being overly theoretical or way too wordy or …. I wanted the perfect “document” for me. This is a very close second and, in many ways, better, in that it provides a great entry into what I am looking for.

The article is exactly what the title purports to be: Comics, Linguistics, and Visual Language: The Past and Future of a Field. It shows why “a language of comics” is the wrong object of study and that it is actually “visual language,” akin to “spoken” and (I forget what he called them, but) “manual,” that is signed languages.

Lots of great citations, as he has a good lit review early on, and then looks at the topic from most angles of study in linguistics, covers the research done in that area and the research needed, along with what the proper questions and concepts are in that area, and how they map, if at all, and whether that matters, to other forms of language (for instance, photology versus phonology).

Scott McCloud

The heaviest cited piece he uses is: McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. First HarperPerennial edition, HarperCollins Publishers, 1994, of which he says, “…, contemporary works on comics in a linguistic light—both in America and abroad—have exploded since the publication of comic artist and theorist Scott McCloud’s (1993) graphic book Understanding comics.” and “McCloud’s approach has permeated nearly all linguistically-driven studies since its publication” (4). Ten total cites to it. The author has 20 cites to his own work. But that is spread across 11 different titles versus one. [Not saying that isn’t fair as he seems mighty prolific. I still need to check out Cohn’s website, http://www.visuallanguagelab.com/] But McCloud’s book seems to be the object to engage with in the article and in linguistics and comics since 1993.

When I looked up McCloud’s book to see if we had it at COCC—which we did—I saw that we had a 2nd McCloud book so I grabbed it too when I went up to get Understanding comics. It too is a graphic novel, McCloud, Scott. Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels. Harper, 2006. And next to it was another early classic, also cited by Cohn, so I grabbed it as a possibility: Eisner, Will. Comics and Sequential Art: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist; [Incl. New and Updated Material. Norton, 2008.

 I have read his fiction graphic novel, The Sculptor.

Wissenschaft

Of course there is language to this kind of thing but at what level of analysis and so forth? Or is it all practical versus theoretic and where and how have they influenced each other? I need a Wissenschaft on visual language.

Seeing as I do not have one—although that linguistics article went a long way towards portions of theory, and McCloud’s books, along with possibly Eisner’s, will hopefully provide some great practical knowledge—I will have to construct my own.

But that is par for the course:

“Wissenschaft incorporates science, learning, knowledge, scholarship and implies that knowledge is a dynamic process discoverable for oneself, rather than something that is handed down. It did not necessarily imply empirical research.

Wissenschaft was the official ideology of German Universities during the 19th century. It emphasised the unity of teaching and individual research or discovery for the student. It suggests that education is a process of growing and becoming.” (Wikipedia, “Wissenschaft.” Emphasis mine; spelling mistake Wikipedia’s)

I love Wissenschaften since they are, amongst others things, intellectual histories and that is my favorite kind of history by far. I also agree with the philosophy of education.

A New Wander

I have been needing a new rabbit hole—a new intellectual wander—and I do believe I have found it. No idea how far I will go but there are still a handful of citations to look into from Cohn’s article. I mean, seriously, how could I, with my assorted background(s) not read “Impossible Objects as Nonsense Sentences”? A title like that is like an opiate to me. And I have a few books to begin with; two of which are nonfiction graphic novels, my favorite kind.

Sowa – Marzi

Marzi: a memoir by Marzena Sowa, with art by Sylvain Savoia; translated by Anjali Singh
Date read: 23 February – 12 March 2017
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2017gnc, 2017nfc, 2017trans

Marzi: a memoir by Marzena Sowa, with art by Sylvain Savoia

Oversize paperback, 230 pages
First American edition published 2011 by DC Comics. Published by arrangement with Mediatoon Licensing, France. Original title: Marzi – L’Integrale 1  – La Pologne vue par les yeux d’une enfant
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Graphic Novel SOWA MARZENA]

I quite appreciated and enjoyed this memoir of young girl growing up in 1980s Poland. While Sowa may have experienced them quite differently, many of the topics and events that she covers are also touchstones for me as I spent much of my time in Europe in the 1980s and both of my children were born there (1980 and 1983).

These are some of the big events/topics she covers and dates from Wikipedia:

  • The Polish Pope, John Paul II       16 October 1978 – 2 April 2005
  • Solidarity / Solidarność                  founded on 17 September 1980
  • Martial law Poland                          December 13, 1981 to July 22, 1983
  • Chernobyl                                       26 April 1986
  • Tiananmen Square                         04 June 1989
  • fall of the Berlin Wall                       began the evening of 9 November 1989

I was in Germany the first time when Pope John Paul II was elected and for the rise of Solidarity. I quite well remember the declaration of martial law in Poland. I was stationed on a nuclear missile site in then West Germany and the entirety of the US military in Europe went on high alert.

When Chernobyl happened I was stationed in Belgium and well remember not being able to eat certain food products for months.

I found her young, but lived, experience of and reactions to TV, religion, visiting rural relatives for farming and vacation, living in a high-rise and stairwell culture, American toothpaste, food lines, and so on to be interesting and empathy building. I, too, have experienced sides of many of these but certainly not all and often not to the extent she did.

Highly recommended!

This is the 21st book in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge 2017 [2017nfc] and the 9th reviewed.

This is the 2nd book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge [2017trans]. Whoa! I am way behind on this!

This is the 9th book in my 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [2017gnc]

Image for 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Reading Challenge

Designed by Nicola Mansfield

 

Hayden – The Story of My Tits

The Story of My Tits by Jennifer Hayden

Date read: 07-08 February 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc 2016nfc

Cover image for Hayden's graphic novel The Story of My Tits

Paperback, 352 pages
Published 2015 by Top Shelf Productions
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Graphic Novel HAYDEN JENNIFER]

I quite enjoyed this graphic novel. Well, as much as one can enjoy a book so full of disease and death. But it is also full of strong women (and a few strong men) who find ways to deal with what life throws at us; which makes it utterly full of life.

Jennifer Hayden was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 43. Her mother had already had a mastectomy just after Jennifer had graduated from college. This book is about how one small group of family and friends and their caregivers handle cancer and all that comes with it.

The book actually deals with many other issues around family, parenting, and everyday living.

Recommended.

This is the 15th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

This is the 9th book in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Pedrosa – Three Shadows

Three Shadows (1st American ed.) by Cyril Pedrosa; translated by Edward Gauvin

Date read: 24-26 March 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover image of Pedrosa's Three Shadows

Paperback, 268 pages

Published April 2008 by First Second

Source: Deschutes Public Library (PEDROSA CYRIL)

This story is beautiful, haunting, and heartbreaking. It is a story of love, sacrifice and denial. Does it work in the end? That is for you to decide.

There may be (probably is) some larger moral here but I tend to miss those sometimes in these sorts of things. Then again, one often needs a couple reads of, say, a philosophical treatise to get its overarching point. And that’s OK.

Either way, whether or not I missed something—or only missed telling you—I quite enjoyed this quick read.

This is the 42nd book in my GN2015

Robertson – Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker

Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker: 200 Ultra-Convenient, Super-Tasty, Completely Animal-Free Recipes by Robin Robertson

Date read: 02-08 February 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robertson

Paperback, 324 pages

Published 2012 by The Harvard Common Press

Source: Skimmed initial copy from public library (641.5636 ROBERTSON ROBIN) and then bought us a copy via amazon

We recently—mostly at my behest—acquired a slow cooker of a size manageable to just us two. Thus, I grabbed a stack of slow cooker books from the public library. Browsing through this one, about halfway in, I decided I wanted my own copy. A few days later I ordered it. I browsed some of it again the day I received it and made our first dish from it the very next day, Barley Orzotto with White Beans and Vegetables. Quite tasty. Also a record by several orders of magnitude for time from acquisition to making 1st dish.

The book is one of the most up-to-date and it includes lots of tips for using various specific ingredients, on the potential need for assorted sizes of crock pots, etc. I also identified quite a few recipes I would like to try for us and when I asked the wife to look through it she filled more than two sides of a piece of paper with things she was interested in trying. I would call this a “Score!”

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Slow Cooker Basics
  • Snacks and Appetizers
  • Soups That Satisfy
  • Stews and Chili
  • Beans and Grains
  • Hearty Main Dishes
  • Simply Stuffed
  • Vegetable Love
  • Condiments from the Crock
  • Don’t Forget Dessert
  • Breakfast and Bread
  • Hot Drinks
  • Measurement Equivalents
  • Index

Lots of good information on how to best use one’s slow cooker and to best use various ingredients to make amazing food easily. If you are looking into using a slow cooker more this is a good book. Yes, it is for vegans but neither of us are; although Sara is vegetarian. We can always ignore the “use vegan” this-that-or-the-other-thing notes about keeping it vegan. The content—seemingly like 85-95%—of most other slow cooker books that are not specifically for vegans or vegetarians primarily only include meat recipes. It is far easier to add meat (or other protein) than it is to “remove” it. I greatly appreciate the focus on things I can make for both of us.

And no worries on the meat front. I already turned 3 lbs of pork shoulder into tasty shredded pork in the slow cooker. And before that I made Saison Dupont shredded chicken from chicken breasts in it. I just didn’t get those recipes from this book. 😀

The freezer is a wonderful place. I wonder how soon it’ll be before we need a small chest freezer.

This is the 8th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Kick-Off Surroundings

I was unable to participate in the Digital Writing Month Launch Party celebration so this is my response, particularly to the Kick-Off Surroundings bit.

The kick-off happened at 12:01AM UTC 1 November which was 5 pm Halloween here in Oregon. I had just closed the library at a few minutes after and then had to catch a bus to the bottom of the hill to meet some folks. I was also having a discussion with one of my usual patrons while waiting. I did check my phone for the kick-off post and had a quick look. Saw I wouldn’t get any done on time. No worries. I was with friends and had a good grip on ideas already.

We were supposed to accomplish three tasks within the 1st hour:

  • Who are you? Post a Vine to Twitter, due by 20 min.
  • Where are you? [Environment] 3 photos to Twitter, due by 40 min.
  • What are you going to do? [Goals] Roster and abridged version to Twitter

I was not going to bother with the first. Just not interested. And that’s OK. “The point is creation; the method to the madness is up to you.” Sean Michael Morris in Invention, Ambition, Fearlessness: Digital Writing Month 2014

Sure. The idea is to push one’s boundaries, creativity, and so forth. I plan on doing that. And while I may well ignore some of the prompts and perhaps not participate in everything, I did the same last time. Some of the new things I did to push my limits worked and some didn’t. That’s OK, too.

This post serves as my Kick-Off Environment post, which stands in way “late” for the three tweets. I did post my goals to the roster and had earlier tweeted my goals but did so again. It was definitely after the party was over by a couple hours but not many folks got to that part anyway.

Photo #1

Dr. Evelyn Crook and Mistress Quantum Sum before Halloween tarot readings for the Humane Society at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café.

Dr. Evelyn Crook and Mistress Quantum Sum before Halloween tarot readings for the Humane Society at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café. [somewhat processed]

Sara and Emily prior to giving their first readings of the night. They were doing Halloween tarot readings for charity at our local, Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café (BTBS). When I got there, Sara was with three of our friends who I joined until they headed out. Not a whole lot later another couple friends, along with two more new-to-me friends, joined me for much of the evening. While we love BTBS we do not spend many Friday evenings there. Halloween was a lot more mellow than I figured it’d be though.

Photo #2

Cooler case and BTBS sign [heavily processed]

Cooler case and BTBS sign [heavily processed]

I am (consciously) unclear as to what this image means to me or the story I am trying to tell. I have an as yet undiagnosed illness, since this summer, that is playing havoc with me in many ways. For some reason this appealed to me. I, and Sara, spend a lot of time in front of these colors. They are a refuge, of sorts. This image is anything but refuge-like though. The unprocessed image is. So. This. Is a story element. Yet to be fully realized.

Photo #3

Temperance tarot card [little processing]

Temperance tarot card [little processing]

For the significance of this photo you will have to read my next post, which is thankfully 95% written already. Past me doing current me a favor [Wickett’s Law/Rule].

This was a large part of my environment for the kick-off of Digital Writing Month 2014.

Temperance. Am going to have to spend some time with that concept.

What’s up so far in 2014? Home buying, it seems

[N.B.: Mostly written 6 January with minor updates over next 2-3 days. Current follow-up follows.]

So what’s up in 2014 so far? 2014 got off to a great start. For one day.

Sara and I do a kind of annual review, along with a semi-annual review and weekly reviews using assorted tools such as calendars, OmniFocus and some text documents. Neither of us do resolutions but we do want to have goals for the year, and to check up on them now and again so that we might have a chance to actually accomplish most of them. We entered 2014 with this year’s annual review pretty much done. Mine was primarily complete except for final formatting as a document in Scrivener.

Then on the 2nd of January the mail was delivered. Our place was recently bought by some out-of-towners and we got notice that our rent was going up 15%! We are already stretched pretty thin and that is just ridiculous. We immediately jumped into “can we buy a house” mode. We have been considering that anyway but we figured it was at least 6 months to more like 2-3 years in the future for us. Nope. [We need to find out right now whether we can get a loan for enough to buy a house here in Bend or we need to find a cheaper place to rent until we can qualify for said loan. If we can get a loan then we need to be seriously looking for a house that meets all of [ok, much of, hopefully]  our criteria.

Either way, (update to follow)] almost everything I had planned for this year has now been indefinitely placed on hold. My 2014 annual review/plan has been scrapped by the second day of the year. Yay, me!

Thankfully a lot of stuff is still in boxes from when we arrived here in August 2012. That will make moving somewhat easier. But we also have not weeded out near enough stuff that we were supposed to have gotten rid of by now. And we have probably acquired more stuff than we have gotten rid of. My surgery in May put in a big damper on my weeding which I had hoped to do this past summer. Sara’s full-time job has prevented her from making any progress on her stuff.

I have jumped into weeding pretty heavy the last couple of days and hope to continue. We’re donating a bunch of stuff to the Humane Society Thrift Store, some of the better books to the public library, and recycling a crapload of stuff. There is, sadly, plenty more to go through though. As we free up a bit of room by getting rid of stuff I have a bit more room to get at and sort through even more. So I guess one can say it’s looking up.

It is, though, extremely demoralizing to have just committed to and documented one’s goals for the year and to then have to toss it all away on January 2nd.

So what were/are some of my plans for 2014?

  • Read 75 books http://marklindner.info/blog/2014/01/01/reading-goals-2014/
  • Wrangle our ebooks into some kind of order, usability, etc.
  • Do some more beer tastings
  • Help with Central Oregon Beer Week
  • Do another book talk this year for Central Oregon Beer Week
  • Meet some of the beer folks in Bend who I haven’t been able to yet
  • Do some beer trading
  • Finish my “article” on Prohibition in Bend
  • Perhaps work on my Cicerone certification
  • Blog some book reviews that I am way behind on
  • Learn to make better use of Evernote, OmniFocus, Scrivener, etc.
  • Meal planning
  • Get my new tattoo started
  • Track down a citation for that damned Paracelsus quote or show that it is not attributable to him
  • Exercise more and get back into some semblance of shape
  • Visit some places in Oregon: Broken Top, lava tubes, Crater Lake, etc.

23 January update:

We found a house, put in an offer, got their counter and accepted. We have the inspection set for Saturday a.m. and are meeting with the mortgage broker tomorrow morning to do more paperwork and get VA appraisal scheduled. If all goes well with those we’ll be moving late winter / early spring.

I have been in full-on moving prep mode for about a week now. I am so damned sore. But. I am much closer to being ready. I have a good idea of what is packed, more stuff was topped off and packed and many binders and articles were packed, it is mostly segregated from other stuff, and the inventory is updated. More books were weeded.

We should have a couple weeks to move in. It kind of comes down to when we close and the 30-day notice we give our landlord. Current estimated closing is March 17.

My only big concern is weather. Well, and will my aging body hold out: preferably for it to treat all the labor as weightlifting and other “good” exercise. Seriously though, moving in the rain or a snowstorm or having ice/snow on the ground are the worst for moving. So far our winter has included almost none of any of that, which is not good. We need snow, at least outside of town.

It is all moving so fast. Which, of course, has deepened even more the feeling of upended plans. Not all is a loss, though. I am reading some and not quite as slowly as I suspected. I am helping with Central Oregon Beer Week as a member of their team this year. If you need me for any Central Oregon Beer Week business feel free to email me at mark@centraloregonbeerweek.com. I am trying to figure out what I want to do as Bend Beer Librarian for COBW; not up for another book talk for this year. Considering things and talking with people but need to decide soon to save 15% as a returning sponsor.

I met a few more Bend beer people, including one I wanted to meet in person, but, intriguingly, we met them in Portland. We attended the 1st Big Woody put on in Portland and a boatload of Bendites were there as attendees, volunteers, brewery folks representing, and event organizers/staff. That was nice and I finally met Matthew Ward (Bend Brew Daddy) and his wife Lisa. Definitely hope to hang out more with them. We also got to spend some time with non-Bendite but extremely nice guy Christopher (PortlandBeer.com) at Hair of the Dog. So possibly future trading and/or nice bottle swaps as it sounds like his are the kind of quality we are looking for. Maybe we can get Christopher to Bend, although we explored so little of Portland last weekend.

Blogging and other forms of writing have been practically non-existent, book reading is way down, research for either major topic of current interest is on hold, and most other projects listed above or not are pretty much forgotten about.

I hope this place works out and we can get settled in quickly. I’d like to get back to some of my projects recently put on hold and others, many of which have been a long time coming.

It is an adventure, and so far easier than expected, but its timing seems a little sudden.

 

 

The Tree of Life (movie)

[This is one of the remaining DigiWriMo posts.]

On Black Friday, we finally got around to seeing The Tree of Life, which was a pretty big movie not that long ago. I knew a little about it—that it was fairly existential, had (at least) two major interpretations, was well-acted, and beautifully shot—and I had been looking forward to it.

At less than a half hour in I tweeted the following:

Is The Tree of Life worth watching? <30:00 in & I’m bored to tears and falling asleep. Decent nature photography but … [tweet]

It was putting me to sleep and I really was not impressed in much of any way yet. Sure, there was some great “nature” cinematography but much of it seemed to be NASA images or stuff taken from assorted nature documentaries; the stuff that wasn’t simply CGI, that is, or ginned up in more analog ways. Seeing as I get the NASA Image of the Day in my feeds and I am fairly well-versed in nature documentaries they were going to have to do better.

I sat through the whole movie, despite Sara suggesting I go upstairs and write. When it was over I tweeted:

Um, The Tree of Life is one of the worst films I have seen. Pretty sure @esquetee has a different opinion of it. Oh well. [tweet]

It is not that there was little action, as I adore so-called ‘foreign’ and independent films, many of which most Americans cannot sit through due to lack of action. That is not a problem I have. Storytelling is what is important and I guess, for me, the issue was that there really isn’t a story in it.

Honestly, to me, as a whole, this movie seriously sucked. Sara liked it. As she said, it is open to interpretation—which I fully agree with. But we even seemed to disagree on how many boys the family had. The problem with such a work that is so open to interpretation is that it has to give you something to work with, something you can hang an idea, and perhaps an argument, on. In my opinion, The Tree of Life gives one nothing to work with at all.

It did, though, leave me pensive and in a contemplative mood. But. With nothing to contemplate it was an absurd mood to be in! It simply managed to piss me off. Late Friday afternoon would have been a perfect time to be in such a mood if only there was some content to the mood.

I did read through the entry for the movie at Wikipedia and while I agree that if one takes that interpretation then it makes reasonable sense, but I see absolutely no reason to do so. Perhaps that is what the filmmakers intended but, if so, I say that they failed. Brad Pitt’s character in no way—to me anyway—represents ‘Nature’ or even ‘nature.’ Nature is not obsessed with the freaking lawn! Nor is nature stuck in a dead end job and trying to grasp for what it can along the way. And Jessica Chastain’s character fails to embody ‘grace’ for me. And that is assuming one even buys into the whole lesson about one “must choose to either follow the path of grace or the path of nature.” [Wikipedia]

Now clearly, many people disagree with me about this movie (see the Wikipedia entry) and perhaps you, reader, are one of them. More power to you! I am glad that you enjoyed it, just as I am glad that Sara did. All of the above was based on my opinion and if I failed in a few cases to word it so explicitly then I apologize. Please take it that that is the case. I would not argue that your opinion of the movie is wrong or misguided as we all react to story, and the telling of it, in different ways.

Thankfully, later we watched Hysteria. That will be the next post.

Synopis: The Tree of Life: Sucks. Although many others have a vastly different opinion.

 

Reading One to Ten (meme)

Cribbed from Angel at The Itinerant Librarian.

1 The book I am currently reading. Like Angel, I usually have more than one book going. I am currently reading the following: The Complete Poems of Marianne Moore; Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces; Hermann Melville’s Billy Budd and other stories; and about a half dozen others that I have been stopped on for a while now.

2 The last book I finished. Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire. Last night. My comments are here.

3 The next book I want to read. Again, ditto Angel, “there are all sorts of books I want to read next.” There are two books from the Library Thing Early Reviewer Program that need to be read so that I can write reviews: Delavier’s Stretching Anatomy and Gerhard Klosch’s Sleeping Better Together. I will probably take the stretching book with me on our trip to DC to visit family for Christmas. Then there are the books on my Two-Thirds Book Challenge list: Transformations (poems) by Anne Sexton is near the top of the list due to my Grimm’s Fairytales class starting in early January. Not on that list but recently purchased is Voltaire’s A Pocket Philosophical Dictionary, which I’d like to read prior to Enlightenment Lit in the Spring term. I could go on and on here but I’ll stop. My goodread’s to read shelf would give you a small inkling of possibilities.

4 The last book I bought. On the 10th I bought Voltaire’s A Pocket Philosophical Dictionary (Oxford World’s Classic ed) in a Kindle ed. and I ordered a used copy of Tzvetan Todorov’s A Defence of the Enlightenment from England via abebooks. I have been wanting that book for quite a while now and it is already out of print. I foresee wanting/needing it for Enlightenment Lit for whatever paper topic I choose. I adore Todorov even though I don’t always agree with him. And Voltaire is simply delectable!

5 The last book I was given. Not counting Library Thing Early Reviewer books or books weeded from the collection at BCU, it appears the last book I was given was a copy of Jeni Bauer’s Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams by my daughter for Father’s Day. Eat Jeni’s ice cream! Support Jeni’s! Buy this book and make your own Jeni’s! Did I mention you should eat Jeni’s ice cream? It is beyond awesome!

6 The last book I borrowed from the library. Public: Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Traveled, which I did not finish but put on my wish list. University: Nobel Prize winner Tomas Tranströmer’s Selected Poems, and Truth Barriers.

8 The last translated book you read. Lysistrata, and the Tranströmers just before that, in November.

9 The book at the top of my Christmas list. Like Angel, the list is not exactly specific to one title but the short list I culled from my Amazon wish list for the more immediate family included: Barbara McAfee’s Full Voice: The Art and Practice of Vocal Presence (seen in GradHacker); James Attlee’s Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight; Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer; Douglas Thomas’ A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change; Gloria Ambrosia’s The Complete Muffin Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide To Making Great Muffins; Borges’ Selected Non-Fictions; Tolkien on Fairy-Stories; Mircea Eliade’s Myths, Dreams and Mysteries. These are all titles both Sara and I would like to read. If I were compiling that list today instead of just a couple of weeks ago it might be quite different as we both have added several (or more) titles to our wish lists. ::sigh::

10 The so-far unpublished book I am most looking forward to reading. Normally, I rarely know about books before they are published unless Amazon manages to send me a timely pre-order email. But. Kickstarter! We helped fund a book on Kickstarter recently so we are looking forward to Kio Stark’s, Don’t Go Back to School: A handbook for learning anything.

A Deutschland wedding

As I wrote here, Sara and I went to Germany for my son’s wedding. It was a wonderful trip but far too short. We left on a Wed. morning and got back home on Mon. eve.

We spent the first couple of days with my daughter-in-law’s parents in Fürth in the Odenwald. It was quite lovely and relaxing. My daughter, her husband, Sara and I took a 4-hour hike through a UNESCO GeoPark to the Lindenfels castle while there. On Saturday we (previously mentioned 4) moved to the Hotel Perkeo in the Altstadt of Heidelberg. My sister and brother-in-law were also staying in Heidelberg but at a different hotel.

The wedding was late Saturday afternoon in the Kappelle of the Heidelberg Schloss with pictures before that on the castle grounds. The reception was held at a Schützenhaus in the hills behind the castle.

Kaja and Jeremy

Sara and I were up fairly early on Sun. morning and went out wandering in a practically deserted Altstadt before almost anyone else was up, which was quite pleasant. We went back to the hotel for a short rest and second breakfast and then went wandering again. Sitting in the Marktplatz which was now full of tables, chairs, and people, dogs, bicycles and so on we relaxed and had coffee. I even had third breakfast!

More wandering, sightseeing and shopping followed after spending a bit of time checking out the Alte Brücke with my sister, brother-in-law, daughter, son-in-law and my ex-wife. Sara and I even climbed all the way to the top of the Heiliggeistkirche. We met back up with the family for lunch.

Sara and Mark on top of the Heiliggeistkirche

Later in the day, while Sara went shopping, the rest of us walked across the Alte Brücke, and climbed the hill to walk the Philosophenweg, then down the hill, back across the Neckar on the newer bridge and back into the Altstadt.

Later in the evening we all met back up with the newlyweds, Jeremy and Kaja, and had dinner in the restaurant in the Hotel Perkeo.

Late in the evening Sara and I packed up most of our stuff and at 6:45 AM a shuttle bus came to take us the the Frankfurt Flughafen.

It was amazing trip but far too short. Besides all of the tasty food and beautiful scenery we also picked up a lovely daughter-in-law and generous, bright and highly interesting (in the good way) in-laws.

Congratulations Kaja and Jeremy!