Monday, November 28, 2005

At Swim-Two-Birds

From the G Mac campus to the Corona LRT is about four city blocks, I believe, and I walked them in minus ten this morning. Cellphone weather, not at all. Two birds were huddled in a fake tree outside the coffee shop. My hand got so cold. Anyways, snow and all, shiny flakes crystallizing very high above the tall buildings and blowing down the sunny street, and I could hardly see for the brightness in the air. What is life if not beautiful? God, I watched a Hallmark advertisement last night, I must have caught something, and I did, didn't I? It's hard to remember that the world is a vampire when the weather is so clean.

Yeah, the weekend was busy, and time leaked out of my pockets worse than money. Friday night was alright, but Saturday night was for fighting. I mean, moving, the girl's new place. Sunday was all homework, it felt like drowning. There was this one time, years ago, at the Soo Locks, certain areas of the shoreline allowed one to fish in very deep water right off the loosely-gravelled edge of wherever we stood. I buried my third lure in five minutes into a dark old trunk I could dimly see from the shore. That black trunk was no more than four feet below the surface, not more than four feet out, either, and I could spot the feathered lure gleaming like flashy gold through the cloudy grey water. A white t-shirt and some quick-dry shorts, so why not go in, right? I stepped off the edge of the bank and dove into an incredible current pulsing just below the surface, a gale of water pushing me down almost before I became aware of it. Great ships passed slowly far off from me, I could feel the thrum of their propellers firing. I've never felt anything like swimming as hard as possible, shoulder-strokes tumbling me forward as fast as I could move, and watching that trunk fade little by little. But you know what? The homework is not going to beat me. I ploughed against the current harder than I ever knew I could possibly swim, ripped the triple-barbed hook out of the rotten wood and pushed myself back to shore. If I had lost that lure, my dad would have slain me.

Happy Birthday, J. The moustache was maybe a good idea.

Listening: I saw E today and he was wearing a dark grey shirt with a picture of a dark red organ stamped on it. "They were the best band in Edmonton ever," he said, and though I have my reservations, I still nodded. The Operators*780 were certainly one of the better bands in the city, prodigiously talented AND they had an organ. How many ska bands out there had an organ onstage? I've got problems with ska, the same problems that I have with rap and country or Chilean death metal—it's easy for ska to start sounding repetitive after about three songs. No Doubt was amazing, but were they really ska? Back in the A-letter days, maybe, but as GS has proven ever since, growing is changing, and she isn't singing ska anymore. So while I'm sad that The Operators*780 no longer exist as a band, we still have their music, right? And who knows what good things will come out of that band's demise? It better be good, I'll say that much, to make up for losing a band that never forgot ska could sound just as mixed up and twisted as any other genre out there. "Playing With Fire" + The Operators*780

Reading: Speaking of twisted-up genres, I haven't stopped reading Moby Dick , but I've got some other stuff on the side, and it's good. At Swim-Two-Birds is about a third-started and it's crazy. I first read about this novel in Anthony Burgess' list of the ninety-nine best novels in the English language and immediately fell in love with the title. So when I saw that papery little hardback smiling at me from the shelf, I couldn't resist. This book is a swinger and makes genre-switching seem normal. Think Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man cross-pollinated with Gulliver's Travels: that is this book, an origami novel, always folding itself into some strange new shape. Flann O'Brian is a wonderful author, a man who can make words stand up and shake themselves like a shaggy dog. At Swim-Two-Birds + Flann O'Brian

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