December 25th, 2003


silent Christmas

The GF went off to parts south to be with family; I was a lazy lump and bought tickets to visit the fam down south much too late, and so I'm flying down after Christmas.

As a result, I'm all alone for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Surprisingly, it's been quite pleasant. Christmas Eve was maudlin and a bit lonely, but sleeping late and spending quality time with the kitty (and, geek that I am, reading the statistics chapter in Manning and Schutze's Introduction to Statistical Natural Language Processing) have been good things. My neighborhood in Seattle is quieter on Christmas morning than it ever is at any other time in the year. Eerie. But I also have the odd desire that there should be such an "off day" more than once per year -- how about one per season, or at least one on the summer solstice as well?

I regret not being in Atlanta for Boxing Day -- a neighbor has the most amazing party as an annual ritual, where I could see everybody I miss from the Big Peach all at one go, if I were there.
  • Current Music
    Peter Gabriel - Family Snapshot


Other activities today: I read my solstice present from the GF (Blankets, Craig Thompson's opus). It's an amazing book by the author of Goodbye, Chunky Rice (thanks to lx for the recommendation). I was initially afraid of how much he (Thompson) made me care about his characters -- I somehow feared he was going to screw them over, and I generally don't like the variety of fiction that makes you love someone only to fuck up their lives in front of you. I understand that reading these things are supposed to be good for you, but there's plenty of grief in the world already. I read Amnesty International for my share of that sort of life-ruining story, and that's enough, thanks. Oh, and back to my earlier thought: Blankets doesn't do this, but nor does it have a sappy fairy-tale happy ending. I won't give away what he does here.

It's very, very good, and may actually be the best-qualifying true "graphic novel" I know of. A next best might be Spiegelman's Maus, or Jason Lutes' Jar of Fools, but I would wonder whether Maus is really a novel, and Blankets is probably a better and more versatile use of the comic-book form than is Jar of Fools. All the other comics I read (including some I dearly love, like Finder, Love and Rockets, Stuck Rubber Baby or the early Elfquest) are much more tightly-bound to to the serial form, and while they're great books, still are shaped by that serial nature.

As far as the feel of the story, I would say that the autobiographical feel of Stuck Rubber Baby is perhaps the best match to describe Blankets, but with the addition of a flexibility of the art form to express the first-person sensations of the autobiographical protagonist in his/our perception of the world around himself.

Reading Thompson's biography in the back: he's my age. What am I doing with my life? This is his second amazing work. Will a PhD be comparable?