Monday, February 20, 2006

The Tangle Goes Smooth

Today, outside of the wide windows at work, a little girl in a fuschia-coloured parker and matching track pants showed off her excellent hip-hop moves to her slightly older brother. This girl was maybe seven years old. It was a very grey day, today—later, the sunlight came out very strong—and all the signs for all the stores glowed that much brighter in the plaza, and the little girl swung her knees and slumped her back and her arms moved like flourescent animals sliding from branch to branch. Coming up beside their children, her parents enthusiastically applauded moves they must have seen a thousand times before. The little girl carelessly tossed her head, and the whole family came into the store. Something about that incident, the entire acceptance of each other in that moment, makes me glad I saw it, glad that I saw that families can still be happy, still be wonderful with each other.

The whole weekend was like that, really, work, Whyte, everything. Strong colours and nearly silent pictures, familiar actions made new again, everything seen through glass. I'm groping for words here, but I believe what I mean, in this moment, this minute, this right-here-and-now, is contentment. That is what the week-end was. Then again, this is reading week. And a solid week free from studying wouldn't have anything to do with feeling fantastic, would it?

Bath Tangle + Georgette Heyer You've seen her novels, even if you think you've never seen her novels. Metropolitan airports couldn't keep her away, it seems, a few years back, and why not? Her books are perfect airplane reads, and I mean that as a compliment. Well-written—most of them—with guaranteed happy endings, full of witty dialogue which, if it never rises to Oscar Wilde brilliance, at least achieves the comfortable verbal tricks of a Wodehouse novel, her books are small parades of ideal fashion and ideal romance circa the late 1700s. Which should be boring and unexplosive (and, granted, Bruce Willis will not be playing any of the stock Heyer characters, although I think he would be hilarious as a Regency dandy), but succeeds by coming at the reader through different channels other than the usual cliched will-they-won't-they "suspense" of every romance novel. The will-they-won't-they is never in doubt in a Georgette Heyer romance—they will, and how! No, Georgette Heyer succeeds as a novelist because of her characters. Which is strange, this success, because her characters are more types than anything, but she's got the Dickensian trick of helping the reader be comfortable, even enjoy, her cardboard characters. The long line of usual suspects in Bath Tangle, for instance, were always there, long before the novel was ever written. You've got the boldly handsome very fashionable aristocrat, in this case, the Marquis of Rotherham. You've got the wilful and beautiful daughter of an eccentric father, a woman who refuses (of course!) to be defined by the patriarchy around her. Bingo, you've got the novel. But you've also got something the book-cover doesn't include in it's embarrassing catch-all synopsis—you've got dialogue:

"It is a pity you cannot be kinder to that boy."
"I might be, if his mother were less so," he responded coolly.
"You look a trifle peaked."
"If I do, it is because black doesn't become me. I mean to lighten my mourning, and have ordered a charming grey gown."
"You are mistaken."
"What, in going into half-mourning?"
"No, in thinking black does not become you."
"What am I supposed to have done?"
"Everything you could, to blight every ambition I ever had," Gerard replied, with suppressed violence.
Rotherham looked considerably taken aback. "Comprehensive," he said dryly.
"Do try to cultivate a more orderly mind," interposed Rotherham. "The very fact that I take a malicious pleasure in thwarting you shows intention."
"Now I shouldn't wonder, Emma, my pet, if half the time you thought he was scowling at you it was nothing but the way his eyebrows grow, which he can't help, though, of course, it's a pity."

Enough said.

Music, later. Music, NOW!

"Make It Through" + Smoosh Look at this list: Jimmy Eat World, Mates of State, Rilo Kiley, Pearl Jam, Death Cab For Cutie, Sleater-Kinney, The Presidents of the United States of America, Cat Power. Stellar company for anyone, never mind a couple of tweens. Well, it's pretty clear what direction Smoosh will take over the next couple of years and where they will go. Brilliant shadowy rock is where they will end up, I'm betting, something in between Monster Magnet and Kate Bush, just trust me on this. I love the way Asya sings through her nose, it should be bad, but it's wonderful in a sort of, "Look at me, I don't even care, I'm so #$&@ talented I'll still make your head spin without even trying." Everyone goes on about these two girls being prodigies or whatever, I don't sense that in their songs. Mozart is dead, he's never coming back again, and the child prodigy thing in music is over. What these girls have, of course, and what labelling them "child prodigies" undercuts, is talent. Not genius, not Mozart, just talent. With a little luck, and no coke, they're going to be making music for years, and it will always be music worth listening to, effortlessly good, naturally miles above most anyone else.

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