Monday, December 06, 2004

The dawn after the darkness ... so far

The weekend was good, by Saturday I had pretty much forgotten about the previous week, though my stomach was in a knot about today on Sunday night. The good news was that today went pretty well at work, but tomorrow will be the real litmus test. That's when the Cayman Island confernece is set to begin and after I tracked the booth and the materials on it said it was on the island, but not at the hotel. All I know is that it better be there.

But back to the weekend, Saturday and Sunday were both filled with friends and games. During the day I laid down the pencils for my second strip, which came out really well ... much better than I thought it would. I'm starting to use space a lot better now than I did a week ago. All I have to do is ink, which is probably what I'm going to do tomorrow night.

I picked Aly up at the airport around 4:30 Saturday and we went to her house to help her roommate (Sara) and her boyfriend (Chris) set up for the first annual trivia/chili party. I think it might be the last. People had fun (it was mostly Sara's lawyer friends, with a sprinkling of Aly's pals and Jim and Sara from my crew), but I don't think they had a great time. The one good thing was that Aly and I and Jim and Sara beat the hell out of a room of lawyers in trivia.

I can't say that I was the star of the team, I was still in a fog, but I didn't embarrass myself. One of Sara's friends was there and she was fucking obnoxious. A know-it-all and a bore and she didn't mind telling you exactly what she thought at any given moment. These people are a dime a dozen and are about as interesting as watching paint dry.

After everyone left, and interesting story was told about her, apparently her father was an oil guy and lived in Saudi Arabia. She, and the rest of her family, went to live with her dad when she was a kid. One day she was at an outdoor market with her sisters and this chick was kidnapped. A bag was thrown over her head, she was dragged away kicking and screaming and was held for ransom. I'm not sure if the kidnappers got their money or they just let her go because she wouldn't shut the fuck up, but that's a good story.

She has also had breast cancer, her dad died two years ago and has lived in Louisiana. I don't know what's the worst tale.

One of Aly and Sara's friends, Niall, was at the party too and he just came back from Rio De Jinero. I told him that I thought that place was a danger to everyone and he said that that was a lie. Everyone down there was nice and while there were some bad parts you stay out of them. Niall is Irish, and as a European, he, unlike many Americans, understands that not every country is going to be Disney World where everything is completely sanitized. There are shitty parts of every city in every country, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't visit that city or country, just stay the fuck out of the bad places.

On Sunday we went to Bill and Ellie's for the annual (this is a long-running tradition) Christmas/Guts party. I didn't do too bad, probably lost $10-$20, but Aly won $40 and Jay's girlfriend walked out of Charlestown with $140. My mother lost $130, which is par for the course for the elder Magranes. My mom and my dad either suck or have the worst luck when it comes to cards.

I bet it's a mix of both.

Ellie and Bill always do a good job with the party, they usually order a couple of trays of macaroni and chicken parm and we eat like pigs before the gambling begins. It's always a fun time and I hope this continues for a long time.

Ryan's two-year-old son Liam called me "Uncle Panda" last night, that cracked me and just about everyone else up. He's a real cute kid, especially now that he's talking a lot. Ryan's other son, Aidan, is pretty awesome too, though a little more shy than his younger brother.

So, I finally finished another Richard Russo book today: "The Straight Man". Not as good as "Empire Falls", but an ok tome. I've read two Russo books and three blurbs about his other ones and the one thing this guy likes to do is write about depressing, blue-collar northeast towns. It gets boring.

Like EF, TSM is wrapped up too quickly in a pretty little package and has another sullen teenager being brought to justice. Unlike EF, the main character in TSM is an asshole. The first 50 or so pages, I thought he was just sort of a jerk who'd grow out of being obstinate, but there he was almost 400 pages later still an asshole, still doing stupid shit to piss people off.

And yes, I do get the irony of the novel being called the straight man, while he is the protagonist. In comedy, the straight man doesn't act, he reacts to his partner's barbs and jokes.

Also like EF, there is a ton of symbolism and other literary devices that first-year comp students use to make their stories seem more "meaningful" and "real". So in summation, it wasn't a bad book, I blew through it and it kept my interest, but I don't think that I'll ever read it again. Out of 19 stars, I give it 11.

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