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But I Digress...

July 12th, 2008

Happy One Week Anniversary to Us! @ 11:17 pm

Current Location: Bar Harbor, ME
Current Mood: satisfied satisfied

Today I decided that after this much time surrounded by nature, it was time to take a little hike.  I dragged Susie on the Island Explorer and we attempted the 6-mile hike around Eagle Lake.  The sights were spectacular, and I hope that Susie noticed some of them while she was nearly dying from overexertion. She faced it like a trooper.  We made it about two-thirds of the way, then headed to Bubble Pond to catch a bus to Jordan Pond (home of the popovers), then on to Seal Harbor Beach and back to town.

I have before and after pictures of us.  I love walking and jogging and biking and stuff, and I sure do love my wife for being a good sport. I had originally hoped to hike up Cadillac Mountain, but I think we're just going to walk along the sand bar out to Bar Island, an island accessible on foot during the low tide.

In the evening the weather finally cooperated enough for us to take a three hour kayaking trip.  The guide was fantastic, Susie astonishingly let me sit in the back seat of the tandem kayak (the seat with the pedals that control the rudder), and when I say the weather was cooperative I mean it was nigh perfect.  Enough waves to make it interesting but not intimidating.  I don't remember the last sunset I saw that was that good.  As they say in Japan, if our guide is to be believed, that sunset will never happen again.

Afterward Susie got a brownie sundae, which I was only too happy to help her finish, and then we paid a visit to the local fortune teller, which seemed like a strangely appropriate thing to do on a honeymoon.  The predictions were good, and even if they hadn't been I couldn't be more excited and optimistic about my new marriage, my new family, this new chapter of my life.

Now we're back in the hotel room.  We have "Mad Money" and "Hitch", which we borrowed from the front desk, and I'm enjoying an ice old bottle of Coal Porter, which I bought directly from the brewer, right here in Bar Harbor.

In unrelated miscellanea, I have a uniqname now (mjkhoury), so now I'm a bona fide Wolverine!  Also, I've accepted a temporary defeat on Fandango; I'm just thinking of it as looking forward to a triumphant return to Acadia when I do know what I'm doing.

July 10th, 2008

Two #1s (so far) @ 03:41 pm

Current Location: Bar Harbor, ME
Current Mood: chipper chipper

#1 picture I didn't have the presence of mind to take:
    Susie, on the bus home from the winery, slouchily sprawled across one seat of the bus, holding a purchased wine bottle in a brown paper bag, looking for all the world like the world's cutest wino.

#1 sign or notice we actually saw posted:
    At "All Fired Up", a make-your-own-pottery place, the note "Warning: unattended children will be given espresso and free kittens,"

today's update @ 01:13 pm

Current Location: Bar Harbor, ME
Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: soundtrack to Juno

We're back from the morning's very pleasant trip out on the Margaret Todd, the only four-masted ship working the local waters.  I helped raise the sails.  So we sail...we're sailors...we sail...

For now, we're lounging in the hotel, hiding from the intensity of the sun.  My new wife char-broils easily.  My ring is on the wrong hand because, without any real intentionality, I lost a bunch of weight lately.  Apparently when you drop a pant size, you also drop a ring size, and I couldn't bear to lose my shiny new ring.  Since it the kind you can't resize, I'll have to find a way to get my left hand back up to the size it used to be.  Susie says I should eat more dessert and stop moving.  I'm hoping for something more like a hand exerciser.

We're counting down the hours to kayaking...and it makes our lips numb just thinking about it.

July 9th, 2008

(no subject) @ 10:45 pm

Current Location: Bar Harbor, ME
Current Mood: content content

Today was another amazing day in Bar Harbor.  In the morning we took a trip on a lobster boat and learned a lot about lobstering, not to mention seeing lots of seals, a couple small whales, and some small puffin-like birds.  In the afternoon, we toured a local brewery and a local winery, both of which offered tastings, which was both educational and delicious (they also had amazing microbrew rootbeer and blueberry soda, so Susie was not at a total loss).  And in the evening, we did something so unexpected, so difficult to describe, so arguably scandalous, so outside the boundaries of anything that I could ever have imagined doing as a single man, that it will ever remain a secret between my wife and I, the first secret of our new marriage.  So don't even bother asking...
Tomorrow we're going out on the Margaret Todd in the morning and going on a 3 hour moonlight kayak trip in the evening, which is called "very, very romantic" and marked with a heart on the bulletin board.  I'm very excited for both.  Also, tomorrow my walking shoes should come in the mail, so we can start hiking Acadia National Park.  I've eben to the top of Mount Cadillac by tour bus, but now I want to see myself there under my own steam, with my wife by my side (even if I have to carry her).

And still we seek the elusive key...

Everything was perfect . . . addendum @ 10:06 pm

Current Location: Bar Harbor, ME
Current Mood: loved loved

My bachelor party was last Thursday, and even though it is not customary to talk about one's own bachelor party, I feel that it's worth making an exception here, if only to show the extent to which everything went uncannily perfectly.

To properly appreciate this story, you have to know that I know Irish drinking songs.  I know a LOT of Irish drinking songs.  I learned much of what I know at a pub called Duke Humphries, which sadly no longer exists, where I would spend every Friday I was in town, and sometimes even travel up from Ohio just for the purpose, listening to and singing with Pat McDunn, my senior year English teacher, and his band.  I visited his class many times, and I even invited him to the wedding, though he could not be there.  Chris, my groomsman and college roommate, was my partner in Irish music-ery, and though he was at the wedding he could not be at the bachelor party.

Now, I just wanted a low-key bachelor party, so my best man and I and my wife's two brothers went to a local Irish pub which my sister recommended.  We had a couple pints and some craic.  I had called around to see if any place had live music that night, but every place, including the place we actually went, said they did not.  Yet, when we arrived, there was a leprechaun-ish looking man, as Irish as the day is long, singing Irish and rock songs, complete with Irish oatmeal tin for tips.  He sang all my favorites, including some fairly obscure ones like "The Rocky Road to Dublin".  He played "The Wild Rover", which was an absolute favorite for Chris and I.

Twice, Scott went up to talk to the musician.  The first time, he said that I would want to request a song, except that I was enjoying his choices so far and I knew that whatever song he was going to play next was the one I wanted to hear.  The next song turned out to be "Friends in Low Places", I song I used to sing with Chris, and to my knowledge I had previously only heard on his computer.  Toasts were made to Chris and to me and to brotherhood and to everything.  The second time, he told the musician that it was my bachelor party and that years ago I had learned all these tunes from my old teacher (but he didn't mention his name).  The musician played "Lord, It's Hard to be Humble" (which McDunn had also played for me once upon a time), and then said "Well Mike, McDunn couldn't be here tonight, so I'll have to stand in."

Thank you, life.
"Ask her if she can feel how close we are now!"
 --- Joe, while trying to find the pub on Thursday night, after learning that my sister's unfollowable directions came from her method of driving "by feeling"

July 8th, 2008

And everything was beautiful and no one fainted. @ 08:28 am

Current Location: Bar Harbor, ME
Current Mood: excited married
Tags: ,

I. Wedding

Let's cut to the chase: in case you aren't on facebook and haven't talked to me or Susie any time in the last year, we got married on Saturday, July 5!  (Which is a good choice for an anniversary, because I'll have enormous firework displays for the sole purpose of reminding me that the big day is coming; all you guys out there, it pays to think ahead,)

Let me say that, as far as I know, I had the perfect wedding day.  Everything about the day was as good as I was wanting or better, and there were no disasters.  To own the truth, I had been a bit unsure about the tuxedos, since I had tried it on with the peridot (to coordinate with the bridesmaid dresses), and that shade of green just made me look ill.  But the ivory (to match Susie) looked good on me and the groomsmen, who don't have the same skin tone I do, had no problem at all pulling off the peridot.  Anyway, I had always been after the gray morningsuits from the wedding in Are You Being Served?, but it turned out they don't actually rent those out in this century.

I was surprisingly calm during the whole lead up to the wedding, even when those around me couldn't seem to believe that I wasn't a basket case.  I think that all the time I spent reassuring Susie that everything was fine helped tme ot realize deep down that everything, in fact, is actually good, really and truly.  My only moment of panic came right before the wedding, when I was confined in that little room where the keep the groom, before Joe had gotten there.  I knew that I wasn't allowed to leave until the pastor came and got me, and I kept wondering what would happen if they just all forgot about me, and no one ever came, and the wedding somehow happened without me.

Suffice it to say that didn't happen.  I was excited but I am told that I looked cool and together.  The three ring bearers (or the one ring bearer and his "muscle", if you prefer) and the two flower girls formed an adorable brigade of miniature people, and I enjoyed the thought that they were about to be my nephews and niece and daughter.  And just like they say it's supposed to be, each bridesmaid was looking as beautiful as I'd ever seen her, and then came Susie, looking by far the most beautiful and apparently pulling her father down the aisle.  The pastor moved quickly through the service but it didn't feel rushed.  We said our vows without fainting, exchanged rings without dropping or confusing them, and lit the unity candle without setting Susie's veil on fire.

The photographer inspired confidence and I look forward to that album.  Judging from the digital pictures that the guests were taking, Susie and I were both having a photogenic day (which may well be the first one I've ever had).

The reception is a little blurry looking back on it, and I'll add more detail later as I regain some focus, but I remember that it was fantastic.  The food was amazing, and included what may be the ebst summer fruit cup I've ever had.  The DJ pronounced my name and Susie's name exactly right, while managing to find amusing and inventive reimaginings of the names of our bridal party.  (My favorite was Joe D' - Allah - Gwaaah.)  Our first dance was to "Just the Way You Are", and the bridal party dance was "In My Life".  The father-daughter dance was something called "Daddy's Little Girl", which neither Susie nor I had listened to in advance.

Even if I don't remember much about the wedding, I remember how happy everybody was.  Everywhere I went I heard people laughing and talking and telling me how beautiful Susie was, how charming Datura was, how much they had enjoyed the service or the toasts (which were fantastic and we wish we had on tape, thank you Joe and Maria, especially thank you for the Hippity-Hop; bringing in Grandma really made the day better) or the blessing, or how beautiful my new wife was (I wish I had words to describe her hair and makeup and earrings and dress, because I know how much effort went into it, and it really was outstanding in every way).  People I'm told never dance were out there busting a move.  It was a celebration of happiness.

One thing that I hadn't really been thinking about in advance was how much bigger my family just got.  That hit me as I was sitting at the head table looking at the two tables which contained pretty much my whole family.  Then I looked at the rest of the room.  And remembered all of the people my mother-in-law were talking about not being able to come.  And thought back to the last Courtois Christmas party.  It's not so much that the Khoury and Farnell families are being connected as that the Khoury family has been absorbed.

It's really great, actually, how welcoming everyone has been.  All through that night people were hugging me and saying "welcome to the family" and calling me "brother" or "cuz" or whatever.  I've never had brothers before; now I have two.  And a lot of cousins.  A LOT of cousins.  I've been warned that I'll be expected to know everyone at the next Christmas party.  There will be a quiz.

I feel very blessed.  I have a wedding ring on my finger and a Mayan bondage charm around my neck (thank you Scott) and I get to spend my life with my wife, and I couldn't feel better about my life.  I know that weddings usually don't go so smoothly, and I'm not saying that it means something bad when it doesn't, but this wedding was too perfect to be wrong, too magical not to think that God was enjoying it.  You could practically see God (as played by Morgan Freeman) smiling down on us.

II. Now that my family's a LOT bigger, it's going to get a little bigger.

Now let's cut to the other chase: Susie and I are having another child!  It's too early to really be sure of much, especially since Datura's birth went so strangely, but supposedly she's due around mid to late January.  I'm very excited!  Yeah, it means that I have do all the drinking for both of us for the rest of the year, but there's a little Khoury growing!  (So when you take into account that Susie was in her third month in the run-up to the wedding, I think she held up like a champion.)

Please don't get the wrong idea -- I love Datura and I look forward to adopting her, and I don't think I'd love her any more if she
were my blood daughter than I already do.  But I wasn't around for her birth or the first couple years of her life, and I'm looking forward to having that opportunity.

It's much too early to know whether the child is a boy or a girl, but I'm enjoying the fact that I'll be just as happy either way.  The only thing I really knew about what kind of children I wanted is that I've always wanted a daughter.  But I already have one, so I'm sure I'll be thrilled either way.

The people who already know about this have been expressed a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for us and for Datura and for the new baby.  I've been told more than once that my father-in-law was standing outside the church in the receiving line, telling people he was going to be a grandfather again.

And one problem, common to sitcom characters, which I'll never have to face is my parents nagging me and wanting to know when I'll be coming through with a grandchild.

III. The rain in Maine falls mainly on...um...sea shells by the sea shore.

I'm typing this post from our spacious and beautiful room at the Bar Harbor Grand.  In keeping with the general theme of this marriage, the honeymoon has been basically perfect so far.  We got to the airport two hours early, moved swiftly through security (and with a name like Khoury, that's practically miraculous -- Susie says I probably look more harmless standing with my cute and pigtailed wife) and had plenty of time to get a danish and Dell puzzle book (I like the diagramless) and find our way to our gate.  Our flight was delayed, but only by twenty minutes (so it was practically early!).  Even though Susie was really nervous about the flight (tall bus..tall bus), it went very well.  We were on a small plane and it was as smooth as I could wish.

We took a cab from Bangor to Bar Harbor, and the cab driver had an accent so thick you could taste the lobster just listening to him.  When we got to our hotel, it was so quaint and charming I half expected Basil Fawlty to appear behind the desk to abuse us.  Instead, a nice man and a young woman appeared and said we looked like we wanted to check in.  When I said we were and offered to spell my name, the man said "I bet it's K-H-O-U-R-Y; we've just been discussing how to pronounce it.")  I was pleasantly dumbfounded.  Sights have been beautiful and the food delicious without exception so far.  I've had some great clam chowder and seafood pasta and tons of scallops.  We had a 2.5 hour narrated trolley ride through the Acadia National Park (which comprises most of Mount Desert Island), and our plans for the future include a lobster boat ride (tomorrow) and a 3-hour sunset kayak trip.  I may also set a record for blueberry muffin consumption at an all-you-can-eat continental breakfast.

We don't have reliable phones up here, but we have internet access.  So if you see me, or some new character called "Susie Khoury" who's been hanging around facebook, feel free to drop us a line.

January 6th, 2008

Reboot @ 11:26 pm

Current Location: home (in Columbus, OH)
Current Mood: busy in overdrive

Happy Epiphany to one and all!  It is the day for revealing and realization.

And if, like me, you realize that it's been more than half a year since the last time I posted in this journal, you understand that it's also time for a reboot.  So forget about everything you've read before1 and, if you're feeling charitable, forget about all the time that there's been nothing at all to read.2  It's a new year, it's a clean slate, it's a reboot.  I have some ideas for ways to use this particular nook or cranny3 of the web to keep both you and I amused, and I welcome anyone else's suggestions---it's you who have to read this, what do you want to hear me talk about?

I'm going to be honest with you all.  The next three months will be busier than any previous time in my life.  I am attempting to accelerate my graduation by one quarter, the sooner to move up to Michigan and be closer to Susie, Datura, and my parents.  I don't know how much time I'll have for LJ pursuits during the interval, but I know it won't be as much as I'd like.  The more comments I get, the higher this will stay on my priority list.  But I have big plans, and if you're patient with this journal over the course of the next year, you'll find more than just disconnected blurbs about the minutiae of my life.  And you'll certainly find more than dead air.  Let's find out together where I'm going with this, shall we?

My holidays were nice, and though I went into the break feeling quite down, I return full of hope and dynamism.  I guess I needed a reboot too, not just the journal. 

Much more excitingly, my wedding day approaches.  Yesterday was the negative halfth anniversary.

I have a Google gadget which puts a picture of the moon on my desktop, accurately reflecting the current local phase; that's why I can tell you that at the time of writing she's only 2% full. You might say I'm in touch with my inner lycanthrope. But then again, you might say anything. I never know with you.3

And now I've worn myself out for the night, so I'll catch you all again when she's waxing.4

1 In case you've been following my progress through the 50 book challenge, I cleared 50 with plenty of time to spare, but don't expect lists or reviews.  That content is so last year.  And this is the reboot.
2 For some reason that reminds me of a letter I once got from the inimitable Lauren.  One day after a long lapse in correspondence, I received an envelope which said "If possible, open five months ago."
3 Yes, reader, I'm talking about you specifically.
4 I'm still referring to the moon here; any waxing-related activities that any female people will be doing tomorrow are nothing to do with me.

June 11th, 2007

What I've Been Reading...for 14 Weeks @ 05:55 pm

Current Mood: lonely lonely
Current Music: BBC World Service

Fate (in the form of a total failure of my previous laptop) has forced me to go out and get a new laptop, which is decked out with some shiny new Firefox add-ons to enhance LiveJournal-ing experience, so this is as good an occasion as any to get back into the habit.

I don't feel any need (even if I did have the time) to type up a summary of what has really been a hectic three and a half months since my last posts (that's the problem with blogs for busy people like me, I find, who do not consider blogging a central activity of their life--the interesting times and major life events tend to take during the extra bits of time in a day, consequently preventing the blogging from happening; my blog, therefore, is a summary of the parts of my life that aren't the parts anyone would really be interested in).  So my journal will just pick up where I am now.  Any readers who want to know why I have one cat fewer than last time I posted, how I came to be accused of planning to blow up a Columbus city bus, what adventures I've had in the fabled "up north", any of the legion reasons I feel so lucky to be engaged to my Susie, or any of my other exploits, expeditions, and extravaganzas, should, in the unlikely event that you are not actually Susie (who would know all these things already, of course), message me, e-mail me, or call me and ask.

In this time, I have more than tripled by book reading count, so it's long past time I updated my list.  (Oh, and you can add how on earth I came to touch, let alone read, such chick lit as Good in Bed, to the list of good stories that you won't know if you don't ask.)  Obviously, I can't write 21 book reviews in one sitting...if I had that kind of time, I'd spend it with Susie...but I don't want to cop out with 21 two-sentence blurbs.  So the reviews will trickle in over the coming days.

I am terribly grateful to serendipity for my chance logging on while the 50bookchallenge was a featured community.  I put too much distance between myself and books over the last couple years, between mathematics and writing and all.  Once again I haunt the Columbus Public Library (a credit to the city).  I expect that, long after this challenge, a steady diet of the shorter, fun books like Alexander McCall Smith's, Terry Pratchett's, and the like, will be a part of my daily routine.  However, in what's left of this challenge, I think it's time to get some heavier reading involved.  Mr. McDunn taught me well and proper to read, and a part of me misses taking on the challenging fare he would put in our paths.  Part of me wants to try The Infinite Jest, but I'm not sure I'm up to it yet.  We'll see where my reading adventures take me.

2007 Reading List to Date:
  1. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
  2. Lost in a Good Book, by Jasper Fforde
  3. My Brain is Open: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdős, by Bruce Schechter
  4. Peter Pan in Scarlet, by Geraldine McCaughrean
  5. I Shouldn't Even be Doing This! and Other Things that Strike Me as Funny, by Bob Newhart
  6. Feet on the Street: Rambles around New Orleans, by Roy Blount, Jr.
  7. 'Salem's Lot, by Stephen King
  8. The Well of Lost Plots, by Jasper Fforde
  9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J. K. Rowling
  10. Schrödinger's Ball, by Adam Felber
  11. The Partly Cloudy Patriot, by Sarah Vowell
  12. Assassination Vacation, by Sarah Vowell
  13. Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World, by Sarah Vowell
  14. Radio On: A Listener's Diary, by Sarah Vowell
  15. Something Rotten, by Jasper Fforde
  16. 365 Dalai Lama: Daily Meditations from the Heart, by the Dalai Lama
  17. Bag of Bones, by Stephen King
  18. Portuguese Irregular Verbs, by Alexander McCall Smith
  19. Franny & Zooey, by J. D. Salinger
  20. The Fifth Elephant, by Terry Pratchett
  21. Carrie, by Stephen King
  22. The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, by Alexander McCall Smith
  23. At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances, by Alexander McCall Smith
  24. Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner
  25. Watchmen, by Alan Moore (writer), Dave Gibbons (illustrator)
  26. The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner
  27. Thief of Time, by Terry Pratchett
  28. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
  29. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith
  30. The Truth, by Terry Pratchett
  31. The Last Hero, by Terry Pratchett
What I'm Reading Now:
  • The Informant, by Kurt Eichenwald
  • Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett
  • Rose Madder, by Stephen King
  • Tears of the Giraffe, by Alexander McCall Smith
What I'm Audiobooking Now:
  • Don't Know Much About Mythology, by Kenneth C. Davis
(x-posted to tweedcap and 50bookchallenge)

March 1st, 2007

Huzzah! @ 01:10 pm

Current Location: my study, Columbus, OH
Current Mood: cheerful cheerful
Current Music: "Over at the Frankenstein Place", movie soundtrack version
Tags: , ,

I don't know if I have any readers of my LJ who are not also readers of my Susie's LJ, so it could be that this is too late be news to anybody. But this is big news, the only really important news I have had in a long time, so there is going to be a post. As slipshod as my track record of keeping my LJ up to date with my life, this is different.

About a week and a half ago, on the Saturday between Valentine's Day and Susie's birthday, about twenty hours into a waxing moon, at the end of a day so perfect that the sun shined brighter, the Fazoli's tasted better, than ever before, just after Datura went to bed, while ubercheesy romantic music played from my laptop, I proposed to Susie, and, after a substantial speechless delay, she said yes. Actually, what she said, when reminded by me that it was traditional to give some sort of verbal answer when proposed to. Only, don't ask me what I specifically said before "will you marry me?", because I have no idea and neither does Susie, it was all just an exciting blur.

Datura seems to get the idea, and when asked if she wants Susie and I to get married, she said yes. She's happily referred to me as "the daddy one" many times since then, which is neat.

This brings up lots of practical questions, and naturally this early on we don't have most of the answers. But I can tell you the following.

  • The wedding will be sometime in summer '08, shortly after I receive my Ph.D. from OSU.
  • The wedding and reception will be held in Michigan, in a Lutheran church we have not chosen yet.
  • Where we live as a family is determined by where I get my first job as a Ph.D. mathematician. First choice is where Susie currently lives, second choice is Columbus, but I won't know for at least a full year where it will be.
  • Yes, I will be adopting Datura. (Look ma, you get an instant grandchild!)
  • Our best man and maid-of-honor are our Joe and my sister Maria, respectively. (These are both mutual choices, rather than a best man specifically chosen by me and a maid of honor specifically chosen by Susie, and we can expect a certain amount of redistributing of roles. In particular, it will surely be Joe talking Susie through the emotional breakdown she'll be having the morning before the wedding and Maria who keeps the rings.)
  • Groomsmen and bridesmaids have been mostly chosen, but many of them not yet asked, so I'll save that announcement.
  • There will be an official wedding website, and it will appear in an announcement post and in my links sidebar when the time comes.

All this is both exciting and scary, when you add it all up: I'm going to be making a fairly instantaneous transition from bachelor graduate student with only my cats to take care of to a professor with a wife and a daughter and a career.

My father's reaction when we called to tell him was great, since he knew of my intention to propose that weekend. "Well, are you engaged?" he asked. When I said that I was, he countered, "Is Susie engaged?" which was pretty clever.

Also weirdly apt. I spent over a month getting educated and hardcore shopping for the ring before finding something that I liked and thought Susie would be happy with (I was right, by the way, I hasten to add), and was very nervous that I would not be able to find anything in time. When I actually purchased it, actually had it in my pocket and walked out of the store, for the first time I had some idea what it would have been like to carry the One Ring back to Mordor. Not because the engagement ring was in any way malign, only that it felt powerful, and almost like it had a life of its own. Carrying it made me feel like I would be engaged, that even if Susie turned me down the ring itself would start proposing to anyone it could find until I was married. Which makes not a lick of sense but it's the best way I can think of to explain it. Some important and powerful going on, that I could not pretend I was really in control of.

I was supposed to leave at first light Monday morning, but I really really did not want to, and Susie did not want me to either. It seemed somehow unfair that I should have to leave after such a wonderful weekend, but time, tide, and a Ph.D. thesis wait for no man. I made it only a few houses before my car broke down dead, so I had to (got to!) hang around town another day, keeping Susie company at the salon and getting to know her elder brother better. Really, then, we both got our wish for more time together, so I can't much complain; Susie even suggested that maybe she unconsciously willed it to happened. Do you believe in magic--in a young girl's heart? (And if you were thinking "...and I hope you do, you'll always have a friend wearing big red shoes.", shame on you and shame on McDonalds.) With much assistance, the car got to the repair shop, where we found it was the fuel pump gone kaput. Susie lent me her Monte Carlo so I could carry out my life while it got fixed, and I retrieved it the last weekend.

Susie is going to a cosmetology convention of some sort in Chicago this weekend, so we won't be seeing each other. (My going is not an option, because it is almost the end of the quarter, and I have to deliver a devastatingly important report related to my thesis to my advisor on Tuesday, so this weekend will be workety workety work.) I'll take some, well, consolation is not the right word, but distraction might be, in seeing Ghost Rider with Joe on Sunday, but this is still not a good thing. The week, which really only amounted to a few days owing to the car touble, between my last two visits to Susie, was somehow disorienting and much more lonely even that times we've gone weeks apart. It's as though when we decided we'd get married we became more tightly bound, and her house in Michigan became more my home than my townhouse. Even though I'm typing this in my own study while playing with my own cats, I still feel that I'm "away on business" from my actual home.

In case anyone is wondering what happened to what had been a steady (by my standards) stream of book reviews, they are still happening. It just so happens that the last four books I read all were by Sarah Vowell, the fourth being finished only yesterday, and it seems best to review all four in one knock-down, drag-out gush-fest. (My use of the word "gush-fest" should pretty well indicate my feelings toward Sarah Vowell and everything she does.) I've pretty much written it, but it will appear tomorrow so as not to detract from this, the far more important post. Also, let me pledge to all of you, dear readers, that in said review I will be demonstrating my heavy respect for her work as a writer by making no references to The Incredibles (the masterwork Pixar movie I saw 9 times in the theater, four of these consecutively, in which Vowell voiced the teenage daughter Violet) and, far more astonishing if you know me well enough to know I never met a pun I didn't like, I will make no "witty" plays on her last name (as tempting as "I'd like to buy a..." is going to be).

So in case you've forgotten already, the only really important thing going on in the world right now is: Susie and I are getting married!

February 16th, 2007

What I've Been Reading (#8-10) @ 01:17 am

Current Location: my couch
Current Mood: stressed stressed
Current Music: Bob Newhart's "Bus Driver School" routine

It's a three-for-one special today; what with the winter storms, I've done a lot of reading since I've last been able to post, so I'll keep them short.

The Well of Lost Plots, by Jasper Fforde

This is the third book starring literary heroine Thursday Next (the first two were books 1 and 2 of my personal run at the challenge), and this one takes place almost entirely inside the world of books, picking up where Lost in a Good Book left off with Thursday as an apprentice Jurisfiction agent. The plot is a weak point for this book, and the "mystery" element is much less compelling than in the first two books, culminating in an unapologetic Deus ex machina (not since Matrix Revolutions has Deus ex machina been meant so literally). But this book is not about the plot. It's about exploring Fforde's endlessly creative imagination, finding out what it is like to be a character in a book, where books really come from, and that sort of thing. Finding out that most book characters can't smell but don't understand what makes tongue twisters hard to say; finding out what really happened to Godot, why Americans don't spell color with a U, it's those little gems that keep the pages turning. But I'm looking forward to the fourth Thursday Next novel, Something Rotten, because I harbor a hope that, now that Fforde has set up the rules and the laws of nature inside Bookworld, he can come in with a more engaging plot.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J. K. Rowling

No, I had not read this one yet. So if you heard that there was still one remaining holdout in all of Western civilization who hadn't read the penultimate Potter, that was me and now there isn't. What can I say? Easily my favorite Potter book. Rowling finally nailed an opening (honestly, if I had to slog through another "summer with the Dursleys was as unbearable as reading this is; Harry and the reader just can't wait to get back to Hogwarts so something interesting can happen"...); that bit with the Prime Minister, Fudge, and Scrimgeour was brilliant. I give Rowling lots of credit for one simple thing...her books have gotten better with each one she wrote. That sounds obvious, but think about it, how many authors can you say that about, really? The quality was consistent throughout. And the ending killed me. I mean, I knew it had to happen like that, deep down, that was the only real way to set up the endgame, but that doesn't make any hit any less hard.

Schrödinger's Ball, by Adam Felber

Like my #6, this book was written by a veteran of my favorite radio program, Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, and if you're familiar with Felber's work, this is just as clever as you'd expect, with the unmistakable Felber humor. The unifying theme, as you might expect from the title's reference to the often-misunderstood Schrödinger's Cat idea, is the interplay between observation and reality. Scientific purists might get a bit angry at the author, because at times the voice of the novel displays a vast oversimplified (and sometimes flagrantly wrong) understanding of the principles of quantum mechanics, but the author is unapologetic. I believe it was deliberate (and even if it wasn't, it's certainly interesting), a sort of exploration of the ramifications of understanding only certain facets of a complicated idea. But don't be put off by all the references I am making to science...it's science literature in the same sense that Cat's Cradle is. (And Felber just wangled himself an implicit comparison to Vonnegut, so good for him.) Not what you'd call a masterpiece, but certainly witty and one-of-a-kind. Give it a shot if you're a Felber fan, if you want to see the literary potential of quantum physics, or if you just want something a little different.

What I'm Reading Now: Something Rotten, by Jasper Fforde
What I'm Audiobooking Now: Bag of Bones, by Stephen King
O Que Estou Lendo Agora: O Alquimista, por Paulo Coelho

  1. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
  2. Lost in a Good Book, by Jasper Fforde
  3. My Brain is Open: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdős, by Bruce Schechter
  4. Peter Pan in Scarlet, by Geraldine McCaughrean
  5. I Shouldn't Even be Doing This! and Other Things that Strike Me as Funny, by Bob Newhart
  6. Feet on the Street: Rambles around New Orleans, by Roy Blount, Jr.
  7. 'Salem's Lot, by Stephen King
  8. The Well of Lost Plots, by Jasper Fforde
  9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J. K. Rowling
  10. Schrödinger's Ball, by Adam Felber
(x-posted to 50bookchallenge )

But I Digress...