Monday, February 27, 2006

Home and Garden Show

One thing I've wanted to do as long as I've wanted to do anything yet undone is to design my own house. OK, with the price of real estate in North Vancouver, that is highly unlikely, but it's a nice fantasy. Alot of people must share the fantasy of, if not a completely new house, at least some renovation on their old one. Fumiyo wants to redo our kitchen, for example. Our last house, although my father and I changed the cabinets and a friend put in new lino, the kitchen wasn't completely remodeled until we were putting the house up for sale. Only the new owners got to benefit from it. Hopefully that won't be the case here. I joined the crowds paying $12.50 to pour into BC Place Stadium to see the latest possibiltiies. As I was walking in, amidst the crowds, I kept thinking of the Dylan song "Went to see the gypsy." Reading his Chronicles recently, I discovered that the song, and most of the others on New Morning were written for a play, but never used. Imagine commissioning Dylan to write songs for your play and then not using them? Possibly stranger things have happened, but I can't think of any offhand.
Yes, if I were as rich as Dylan (who spends some time in the book lamenting the loss of his huge yacht) I could afford some of this stuff. Great panelling. I like the idea of see-through kitchen cabinets but a see-through fridge? Hmmm. Yes it would save having to open the door to find out what you have in the fridge, but maybe you'd rather not know. The kitchen cabinets on the right look great but it's only faux see through. One alarming feature of the show was the vast number of cleaning products for sale. Are our homes really that dirty? Perhaps Pig Pen would need all these cleaning products. It would take a genius of the level of Leonardo Da Vinci and Bob Dylan to clean up my parents' house. I think some termites would still do a better job.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Kurt Vonnegut's A Man Without A Country

You know, the truth can be really powerful stuff. You're not expecting it.

Who needs a country, anyway?
Vannegut is in exile from all his country's ailments, but he still lives there, and I think always has, except for his brief residence in Slaghterhouse 5. He remains one of America's most enjoyable writers, no matter how crotchety his great age forces him to be. He's a bit younger than my parents. Like my father, a former car dealer.
Slaughterhouse 5 is but one of his books turned into fine films. Prague, standing in for Dresden in the film, so entranced me flowing through Glen Gould Bach rivers into incessant demand to bathe in its architecture that the god of cinematic hydrology demands that I must go there in some future time of rain.
Kurt comes to fiction, chug, clunk, zip from not just experience but through a scientific filtration. He cringes at being called a science fiction writer but cashes the checks anyway. He has been a comedian since he first started getting laughs. Now his tears have a comic touch. Now more institution than voice, anything we hear is like Lincoln's Statue opening his mouth and scaring Washington's pidgeons into an orgy of excrement that fills all the buildings and keeps bad laws from happening forever.
Vonnegut's country is his past, his attachment to place and people and incident, and those born not distant, on some media-soaked coast, but there in the heartland, where no tragedy could keep the corn from growing. His pessimism is flimsy. Curiosity still keeps its hooks on him. He delights in his life, though it fades before him. That corn keeps on growin.
The book is short. Vonnegut vaults into calligraphy; his always image-rich books again play with word/eye. For my aging eyes his large text was a blessing, but it sure made the book fill up fast. Ok, its the quality not the quanity, but still.
It is a sign of America's health that Kurt is still a voice in it. Not many famous moustaches left.