Wicked – Gregory Maguire. Very well written, but I’m not sure what I think about it yet – possibly because it looks like fantasy but is actually ‘literary’ and so reviewing it as fantasy (my genre) is like trying to review Unbreakable as a superhero movie. That’s what it’s about but not what it is.
Countess Below Stairs (a.k.a. The Secret Countess) – Eva Ibbotson. Sigh…. The precedents manager and I are having an Ibbotson bookswap, and what can I say but that these books are pretty much perfect?
Ready or Not – Meg Cabot. Just not as good as “All American Girl”. Which was just *fun*.
Maus – Art Spiegelman. I haven’t read it yet, but I do have the Strand/Art Spiegelman book bag to use once I have. Second hand with dodgy (im)perfect binding.
The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation – Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon. A fascinating and good idea, but more emotive than I have come to expect from illustrated books (from which you can probably tell the sorts of graphic novels I have read). Worth the (second hand) purchase price just for the time line.
My Crowd – Charles Addams. Confession: Before I went to the Museum of Comic Book and Cartoon Art I did not know about Charles Addams – only the Addams Family. But… hehehe. Werewolf in a planetarium. Snrrk. :)
Amphigorey, Amphigorey II and Amphigorey Again – Edward Gorey. If you don’t know Gorey, think of Lemony Snicket as the lovechild of Gorey and Nesbit. At his wierdest, I adore him. Then there are the parts that would be excruciatingly crude, rude or gory if they actually happened on stage or you could work out what the heck *was* happening. For the record, my favourite Gorey is The Doubtful Guest. And no, I don’t know what it is. Possibly a beakless penguin-aardvark in tennis shoes.
Two weeks before I flew, a… unique individual gave me two valuable insights. One was that I would meet the love of my life in America (I either didn’t, or don’t know it yet). The other was to buy two things which are not obtainable over here. I will not tell you what they were because then Errantry would turn up on completely different google searches to the current standards of “mr squiggle knit” and “teapot microwave Sydney proof”. I did not buy those two things.
Here are five other things I did not buy, but should have:
Autumn merchandise: Fabric and paper autumn leaves, oak leaf cookie cutters and a particularly hideous purple-and-orange owl-patterned bandanna.
More cheap Moleskines (I did buy two).
I heart NY t-shirts, ironic alteration, for the purposes of.
Novels. $8 new! Why, why, why did I not buy more books?
Cinnamon rolls. With cream cheese icing/sauce. More than two of.
We lost ourselves for a while in the Christmas displays at Macy’s – dozens of trees, beautifully dressed – red or white or pink or peacock-coloured. There was even an upside down tree (I think it’s “Christmas at Macy’s 13” if you link through to my Flickr album).
Plane. Overrated. Cramped. At least on Qantas all the (predominantly male) flight attendants were cheerful and gave you drawstring bags of goodies to eat in the middle of the night. American Airlines act as their job would be much better if you were not there. Also, they ran out of food on our five-hour cross-country flight and Mommy and I had to split the last turkey bagel. The commuter planes are more cheerful, but they are like buses only not so wide. I did not know what noises to expect them to make and had to watch the single attendant in case I missed a cue to panic.
Train. Better than the plane. Longer, but with scenery and leg room and toilets you can actually get out of your seat to go to. The food is surprisingly worse, but more than made up for by not having to wait at either end and so, in effect, almost the same amount of total travel time. Go Amtrak, who will refund your ticket price if you book for the wrong date and have to rebook immediately after. Also, the New York subway which was clean (the trains, not the stations) and… constant, which was probably its defining virtue. Also easy to navigate and with very pretty mosaics in some of the stations. I did not spend long enough on the Washington Subway to form an opinion.
Bus. Hop-on-hop-off buses are a marvellous invention, even though I froze my lips on the night bus and couldn’t pronounce voiceless bilabial fricatives (I may have mentioned this earlier). A two-day ticket is long enough to get a bit of history and a feel for the layout of the town, a good view and the thrilling frisson that comes from the threat of imminent decapitation. I also went on a night-time trolley bus tour of Washington. It had a jovial director and an occupancy of cheerful American tourists and the windows steamed up because of the rain. Also, free lollipops.
Taxis. Cheap, painted with flowers and almost always easy to catch. Except from the Australian Consulate. GARTH NIX LIED! and I was ten minutes late for Hairspray and had to wait at the back and sit down between songs (I’m not complaining about that, just wishing I could have spent the taxi time at the Consulate instead of on the kerb). And on the last night Mommy and I took a bicycle taxi to the theatre. I thought it was exciting, dodging through traffic and traveling on the wrong side of the road. Mommy said it was $25 of sheer terror. We arrived at the theatre slightly windswept.
Horse-drawn carriage. Mommy and I walked to Central Park on the last day and took a carriage ride through Central Park, past chess players and people sunbaking on rocks, the Carousel and ice-skaters. It was peaceful and charming and fun and they gave us a blanket.
I’ve posted some more photos on Flickr, this time from the shores of Lake Erie.
We could see the lake from my aunt’s house and my mother and I went exploring, through vineyards and across the road, down between groves and gardens and guest houses to the lonely shore. It is a shale beach, covered with flat, clinking stones, that ring and shift like coins underfoot. The rocks are carved and sculpted in fluid shapes by the grey waves, and the cliffs are of finely stacked, brittle layers of stone, supporting here and there broken and stranded boat ramps, or rusted ladders that end a metre or more above the stones, or stairs that have fallen away and been replaced with uncertain landings of shale-slabs balanced on pebbles.
I was hoping to walk along the lonely lake shore again today, with its high slate cliffs and smooth lake stones, but it is raining. The lake is grey and the grapevines are tossing in the rain and I can’t smell the grapes.
Yesterday was a windy day and standing by the veranda door I could smell concord grapes on the breeze – a sweet strange smell, the smell of grape candy (which I always thought was fake).
When we drove to North East, I walked to the railway museum (it was closed) and on that side of town the smell of grapes from the Welches factory was unmistakeable.
Concords are fat, black, sweet grapes that split when you pick them. You eat them by sucking the flesh out and swallowing it and then spitting the thick, tough skin back into the grass.
Aunt Kathy made grape cobbler on the weekend. It was very good, but I ate a great deal and my teeth turned blue.