Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rabbit, Run

John Updike's Rabbit, Run is a classic of 20th Century American literature and it shows up on a few notable lists of the best books of all time. I found it to be depressing and a bit boring, and the protagonist is so unsympathetic it was difficult to plow through and virtually impossible to like.

Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom is a 26-year-old former high school basketball star. He has an unfulfilling marriage, an unfulfilling career, virtually no relationship with his 2-year-old son, and he walks away from all of them on a whim. He quickly falls into a relationship with a loose woman across town and moves in with her for a couple of months. The Reverend of a local church urges him to return to his wife, which he does on the night she gives birth to their daughter. This reunion is completely hopeless, and the next time Rabbit abandons his wife it results in tragedy. A second and briefer reunion sends him back into the arms of his mistress, whom he has also knocked up and inevitably abandons as well.

Updike is a master of prose, and there are passages that so beautifully capture the hopelessness of Rabbit's situation they briefly illuminate the novel that might have been, had Updike chosen someone other than a first class asshole as his hero. Rabbit eschews responsibility for his actions, he acts like a spoiled kid, he abandons the (admittedly deeply flawed) women - and the completely innocent toddler - who rely on him... He's a jerk. I know people who love Updike, and I truly hope to hear from them in the comments or on Facebook, but I cannot embrace any book that celebrates a character like Rabbit Angstrom.

Up next: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Monday, April 26, 2010


Uncle Shane and Aunt Ali spent last weekend in Los Angeles for a friend's wedding, and they sent this postcard to the Bug and the Bunny:

Unfortunately they didn't consult with me before spending time in that city without a rental car - it's a tough place to rely on public transport or taxis! They did, however, have a lovely weekend and got to see Rodeo Drive, the walk of fame and other L.A. landmarks.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mima and Boppie in New Orleans

Mima had a business trip to New Orleans last week, and since it'd been years since Boppie had been, he joined her. They sent the Bug a photo of their fun:

And here's another, after Boppie had one too many plates of oysters:

Just kidding - these aren't really photos. Though how they managed to find postcards of Joker, Jessie and my last trip to Jazz Fest, I don't even want to know!

Man, I love that city... can't wait to go back!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Clutch of Eight

Last year the Bug (and Joker, Pop-pop, my parents and myself) thoroughly enjoyed watching the five cygnets hatched by two swans on our boardwalk. They grew all summer long, changed from gray to white in the fall and their bills finally turned orange during the winter, which left them virtually indistinguishable from their parents.

Last Sunday, the Bug and I were walking on the boardwalk and looking at our swans when we learned the mating pair had built a new nest, and that there were eggs in it! We rushed to the other end of the boardwalk where we had a completely clear view of a huge nest with six giant eggs. We unfortunately didn't have a camera on hand, and when Pop-pop and the Bug visited the site on Tuesday, Mommy Swan was sitting on the nest. I'd hoped for another clear view of the nest, with no luck all weekend. But we did find out from a fellow Swan Fan that the size of the clutch is now eight.

We also heard that the eggs are now covered with Mommy Swan's fluff, but I'll keep trying for a picture to post. We have 34-45 days (according to Wikipedia), so I like my odds. And apparently an interesting swan stat is that even though it takes a few days for the eggs to be... um... born?, they all hatch on the same day.

Here's Mommy Swan sitting on a very bumpy seat. Though I posit she's actually more comfortable now than she was with eight eggs in her belly.

And for the curious, Daddy Swan is never far away.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sunny in Philadelphia

This weekend I went solo to Philadelphia to meet up with some of my very dear friends. It was my first non-business overnight trip without Joker and the girls since... well, since the Bug was born almost three years ago. I had a fabulous time drinking, eating, shopping and even sleeping. Thanks, Joker! Here are a few photos from around town.

We stayed in the new Palomar Hotel, which is located near Rittenhouse Square. This flowering almond tree truly exemplified spring, don't you think?

Thanks to a tremendously progressive Mural Arts Program, Philly boasts one of the best collection of murals in any city. They really are all over the place. The one below seems to chronicle women's history, or something of the sort. The B-52 bombers in the lower right are totally unexplainable, though.

My friend Lynne thought this mural was a celebration of arts and science, and I truly don't have a better guess. It looks to me like a bunch of wizarding-world mural characters walked out of their own murals and into this one for a party - they're all too random and of completely different styles to make any sense to me. Check out the violin-people to the right of the bordello lady and the left of the ghost. Bizarre, right?

And some detail.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tender is the Night

Tender Is the Night is F. Scott Fitzgerald's semi-autobiographical follow-up to The Great Gatsby. It is the story of a seemingly successful and beautiful American couple living on the French Riviera in the 1920s. Dick Diver is the psychiatrist-turned-husband of the schizophrenic heiress Nicole Warren. Young actress Rosemary Hoyt enters their lives, falling in love with Dick and becoming close friends with Nicole. The second part of the novel details Dick and Nicole's history, including the incestuous relationship with her father that triggered her mental illness. Dick married Nicole largely as part of her cure, and it is only through his downfall that she is ultimately able to recover.

I wanted very much to love this book. Gatsby is one of my all-time favorites, and several people whose opinions I value regard Tender is the Night as a better book. Fitzgerald's sentence construction is superior, and at its best it is unmatched. But often his flowery language comes across as pompous, and ultimately I found the plot to be a bit dull. I didn't connect with any of the characters, and the bursts of energy and excitement demonstrated the greatness the book might have achieved. In all, I was disappointed.

Next up: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Friday, April 2, 2010


Yesterday was the Bug's first pre-school performance. She had no idea it was coming up; all week, when asked if she was excited for her concert, she'd ask, "What concert are we going to, Mommy?" Joker and I picked up the Bunny at her babysitter's house and filed into the school with the other parents... followed by my mother! Mima actually flew all the way from Colorado so she wouldn't miss her granddaughter's big day. She might have been a little disappointed that the Bug just stood there with her fingers in her nose, but if that is the case she's not letting on.