Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Book Review: The Bonesetter's Daughter
by Amy Tan

bonesettersd

Meh. That's probably the worst review for anything, but that's how I felt about this book. I think I have Dateline Syndrome with this Amy Tan book. Let me explain.

When I was in elementary and middle school Dateline was a new and fresh TV news magazine. I was addicted. I loved watching Dateline and I would often reference it when talking with friends. I was always shocked that they hadn't seen the Dateline I referred to. As I grew older, though, I lost my interest in Dateline. Either Dateline got ridiculously lame, or I grew up and Dateline was always produced at a 7th grade intelligence level. (I think it's a little bit of both.)

Well, I started reading Amy Tan's novels when I was in high school. My mind was literally blown with "The Kitchen God's Wife." I liked it better than "Joy Luck Club," the second novel I read. "The Hundred Secret Senses" was the last novel I read of Tan's until now. All three of those novels were great. But, now that I've returned to Tan with "The Bonesetter's Daughter" I'm left wondering if I liked those three novels because they were written to blow the mind of a high schooler and now, more than four years later, I'm just not that easily impressed? Or, is Amy Tan's writing going downhill? (This novel was written after the three I previously read.)

I don't know. One thing that I've noticed is that once writers find the formula that sells, they'll stick to it. David Sedaris is an example of this. In "Barrel Fever" you'll find fiction. No other pieces of fiction appear in his other books. And, as you read his books, you feel like it's all familiar and it's not as exciting as that rough first book. This could also be the case with Amy Tan.

"The Bonesetter's Daughter" is good. It's just not mind-blowing.

Enjoy!
-T. Budnik
Week #04

week04

Enjoy!
T. Budnik

Monday, January 29, 2007

Mantra Statement

According to mantra-statement.com, my statement is: “What truly inspires me is a future in which I can explore the world in order to create my contribution to humanity.”

I’m not too sure about that. See, it was a sentence with three blanks. For each blank there were about ten different word or phrase choices. I really only chose “explore the world,” “create,” and “my contribution to humanity” because I like those words. I’m not convinced, though, that the sentence really works. It's a bit awkward—"awk" in pen on the margin for those paper-graders.

Really, I’d have to say that my mantra statement is: “I wake up every morning to either go to school or work, without a day off for 9-11 weeks straight, because I know that in the future I will have days off and I know that in this future I’m going to find work meaningful to humanity. I’m not out for glory. I’m out for happiness. Meaningful work and time to explore my personal interests will make me happy.”

Enjoy!
-T. Budnik

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sundays I Write Letters

Dear 1:41am on a Saturday night/Sunday morning,
I know that we have our differences, but I think we should try to work them out. You leave me wondering whether I should just hit the shower and go to sleep now, or stay up longer and do more homework. You know that I desperately want to sleep until the late hours of the morning (noon at the latest so I can still get to work on time).

You’ve robbed me of my creativity. I can’t think of a middle TV spot for Western Union. If I sleep in like I want, I may never have time to write that ad. If I stay up, I won’t really be sleeping in, but sleeping until I have to get up to get ready for work and I may not accomplish a single thing.

Here you’ve left me between a rock void of creativity and my soft comfy pillow and as I figure out which to rest upon, I’m writing what should really be written at a later time and a ramble about sleep and work. If we can’t work these differences out, could you just leave me alone?

Sincerely,
T. Budnik



RE: SUNDAYS I WRITE LETTERS
Dear KBezzie,
I bet you love to twitch to the 60 Minutes clock. Remember that “Seinfeld” when Elaine confesses to watching 60 Minutes and claimed it made her relax? I think it was the Puerto Rican Day parade episode.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik


Dear Mom,
I appreciate the fact that you will keep commenting as long as I keep posting entries.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik



RE: WEEK #03
Dear Birdie,
It makes me happy that one day you, too, will join Peace Corps. If we weren’t siblings, or of the same gender, and married, we could do a Peace Corps assignment together. Alas, we are siblings of the same gender and not married.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik


Dear KBezzie,
Whoa! Are you dissin’ on my planner scan? I did have more pictures for week #03 but figured I’d mix it up with a mostly text spread.

Too bad for your friend. I plan on letting the Peace Corps know that in my early 20s I moved from Alaska to Atlanta. That’ll convince them that I can handle culture shock.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik


Dear Mom,
Once you’re in flickr, click on the “all sizes” icon above the picture. Then choose the largest size. You should be able to view and read it then. Once again, I’m going to work these formatting issues out—once I get the time.

No one is making fun of you and your old-lady eyes. Trust me.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik


Dear Angie,
I will keep my blood flowing—by occasionally climbing 604 stairs and hiking a giant blob of granite.

Thank you for the notebook scan love.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Week #03

week03

Enjoy!
T. Budnik

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sundays I Write Letters

RE: SUNDAYS I WRITE LETTERS
Dear Birdie,
I am incredibly happy that I made you laugh in precalc. Seriously, though, you should stop scratching.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik


Dear KBezzie,
Thank you for the formatting suggestions. As soon as I get a pocket of time to do more than quick posts, I’ll follow those suggestions.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik


Dear Mom,
I know you kare and kid because you like to.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik



RE: WEEK #02
Dear KBezzie,
Do you remember “Newton’s Apple” or better yet, “Ghostwriter?” Oh, Sunday evening PBS classics!

Sincerely,
T. Budnik


Dear Mom,
Do you not remember watching “Wild America” on PBS Sunday nights? It was horrible because it was like already being in school watching some educational video. The only thing worse was “60 Minutes” because that ticking only reminded you that an hour of your precious weekend was slipping away.

I don’t know why you can’t see anything. Are you talking about the things that I listed as being stuffed in the planner? If so, you’re not supposed to be able to see those. If you’re talking about the writing, click on the image which will take you to flickr where you can see it in a larger size.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik



Dear Readers,
You may think that I’m taking the easy way out on my “Sundays I Write Letters” series. When I brought it to this site, I said that if there weren’t any letters to write to individual readers I’d write a letter to a person or thing that I couldn’t send a real letter to. Since then, though, I’ve introduce the weekly scan of a spread of my planner. This usually gets some comments.

Don’t stop commenting, but I promise that as soon as I get a pocket of time and figure out someone/thing interesting to write to, I’ll post that letter.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Week #02

week02

Things stuffed into my planner:
"small" refund check from student loan
work schedule
three February birthday cards, addressed, stamped, and waiting to be mailed

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sundays I Write Letters

RE: SUNDAYS I WRITE LETTERS
Dear Mom,
I just had a migraine because my head wanted to have one.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik



RE: WEEK #01
Dear Mom,
Yah, you better be kiddin’ ‘kause you kare…

If my drawings were to scale, you may not be able to see Stone Mountain.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik


Dear KBezzie,
Please inform me about formatting. I would much appreciate any tips on how to post larger images.

Oh, and just for the record, I received my first Moleskine as a gift waaaaay before I went to a “design” school and it became the cool thing to have one.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik


Dear Birdie,
I wish I could telepathically send you the power to scan images. Alas, I cannot. I do wish to see that doodle of you in Cold Stone.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik

PS. Didn’t you also use those planners to write about your need to smoke and your questionable state of pregnancy?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Week #01


Way back in the summer I bought a Moleskine Daily Planner because, first, I found myself writing daily lists of things to do and, second, I want to doodle more. The style of engagement calendar I had used all throughout college was proving to allow neither of these two things. The Moleskine planner has a page for every day. Perfect.

It's only been ten days into the new year, but I've been making use of my new planner the way I planned. The hustle n' bustle of school and work will pose a challenge to my doodles and dawdling comments, but I think my calendar will prove to be a nice distraction from my "real" work.

So, I present to you a spread from Week #01 of 2007. And, if I can continue doodling and dawdling and my loyal readers enjoy it, I just may post a spread from every week.

week01

Enjoy!
-T. Budnik

PS. I apologize for the small size. I tried posting a "medium-sized" image, but it messed up the blog format. Click on the image and you can view a larger version on flickr. If I can figure out the formatting issues, I'll fix it.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sundays I Write Letters

RE: SUNDAYS I WRITE LETTERS
Dear Mom,
If your blood pressure is too low and Daddy has high blood pressure, does that mean I have regular blood pressure?

Actually, when I donated blood this past time the woman commented that my blood pressure was low.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik



RE: FAREWELL 2006! PART 7
Dear KBezzie,
Congratulations on being the first commenter of 2007. I don’t have a prize for you.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik


Dear Mom,
You’re the first commenter in the AK time zone. You get credit, but I don’t have a prize for you either.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik



RE: BOOK REVIEW: RUNNING WITH SCISSORS
Dear Mom,
Read it if you’re curious what the hoopla is all about, but for no other reason.

Sometimes I forget that our jobs are like cousins: we both deal books.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik


Dear KBezzie,
You should put aside your book snobbery and read at least “Barrel Fever” by Sedaris. It’s his first book so it lacks the formulaic voice his later books somewhat have.

I honestly don’t know what to think about people and their reading habits. Sometimes I wonder, “Are they really going to read this book? Or are they just going to skim it, read some reviews and pretend they read it?”

The preliminary title of my childhood memoir is “Sailboat-Sleds and Mother Raper Father Stabbers.” What do you think?

Sincerely,
T. Budnik


Dear nik budnik,
I heard Christopher Moore’s stuff is pretty good. Alas, I have yet to read any of his books.

Reading is like exercise, except you don’t have to exert yourself as you do with real exercise. Hmm…although I love reading, I’m going to say that I prefer hiking because there’s a chance a hunkaroonie will walk out of the woods.

I kid because I kare.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik


Dear Birdie,
Are you saying that you do what you want to do, regardless of what other people say? I applaud your independence.

Sincerely,
T. Budnik



RE: WINTER HIKING

Dear KBezzie,
I would try cross country skiing, too.

Resistance is futile. You know that.

If Steve gets the job in NYC, you’re on your own. I for sure would come for a visit, but holy moo cows I need me some fresh air. Just yesterday I had a migraine come on suddenly during my break at work. All I wanted was some fresh air. Haha! Fresh air doesn’t exist here. (And I have a hunch it doesn’t exist in NYC either.)

Sincerely,
T. Budnik

Friday, January 05, 2007

Winter Hiking
Much to my expectations, this first week of classes has been very relaxed. I had to go to one class and I only met up with project partners once. Rest assured, I will be very, very busy the following week, the week after that, and many weeks after that.

In order to take advantage of this slack week, I hit my usual hiking spots: Amicalola Falls and Stone Mountain. Both were "free" events. I went to Amicalola Falls on free Wednesday and I'm pretty sure that my Stone Mountain annual parking pass has paid for itself at this point. The only difference with these trips is that my friend Angie came along. It was nice not hiking alone for once. And, not all of our fellow hikers at Amicalola Falls were nice enough to say hello.

First up: Amicalola Falls
hiking07

It's pretty there even after the trees have lost their leaves.

hiking06

The mandatory self portrait.

hiking05

I had to teach Angie the importance and challenge of self portraits.

Next: Stone Mountain.
hiking04

It's probably best if you click on this photo and view it in flickr so you can see the red arrow. The red arrow is my car.

hiking03

I don't think I've ever taken a good photo of Stone Mountain. Enjoy the glory of our Southern heroes.

hiking02

Did you think I wouldn't take a self portrait in front of the mountain? This one was really tricky to get, even after we walked directly in front of the mountains.

hiking01

No, we both didn't fall while descending the mountain.

There it is folks. I went hiking at the beginning of January wearing nothing more than my fancy hiking pants, a t-shirt, and at times a thin fleece jacket. It kind of made me think maybe I could get used to this southern climate. And then I was flipping through an L.L. Bean catalog and was very intrigued by the snowshoes.
snowshoes
You can't tell me you wouldn't want to try that at least once. Shoot, if I can hike in 80+ degrees, would a little snow really stop me?

Enjoy!
-T. Budnik

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Book Review: Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

runningwithscissors

I’ve wanted to read this book since I purchased my first David Sedaris book off of Amazon and Amazon’s computers started to recommend it. Between then and now, the book has received much attention and has been made into a movie and thus has not been sold on Amazon’s marketplace for a penny. Finally, it was given to me as a gift.

What a disappointment. Geez, if I had wanted to be knocked over the head with a two-by-four I could have saved myself the hours I spent reading this book. My favorite knock-you-over-the-head-with-a-two-by-four passage:

“After Kate slammed the car door and drove away, Natalie leaned forward. “You really should write all this stuff down.”

I said, “Even if I did, nobody would believe it.”

“That’s true,” she said. “Maybe it’s better to just forget it.”

I’ll give Burroughs this: his childhood was strange. His writing, though, does not do his tale any justice. The writing really is just flat. At times it felt repetitive. There wasn’t a strong timeline (even a meaningful jumbled one) in the narrative, which didn’t help. And any attempts to make meaning of the events are, well, knock-you-over-the-head-with-a-two-by-four.

I’m a firm believer that it doesn’t matter what your story is, just how you tell it. The only problem with this is if your story is fucked up, you’ll still get readers.

The book does give hope, though, because if Burroughs's childhood was that messed up, he's done alright in adulthood. I remember at least one person I knew as a teenager whose life must have been just as messed up, and hopefully she's doing okay.

Enjoy!
-T. Budnik