Even better than Tintin is this seventeenth century castle’s dogs. It’s la soupe des chiens, or the feeding of the dogs that happens at 5 pm every day during tourist season (when the tourists visit, not when they are hunted, the former from April 1 to September 15, or at 3 pm the rest of the year).
The Huraults, who still live on the third floor of their castle, keep about 70 dogs, each part English foxhound and part French Poitou. The trainers dump a line of dog food and horse and chicken meat before the dogs and, showing off their manners in front of the tourists, the dogs impatiently wait for the signal that they can scramble for a scrap.
In 2007, as a countdown to my comics pilgrimage in Belgium coming up later this year, I started reading all the Tintin comics in chronological order. (Apart from Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and Tintin in the Congo – good luck finding those issues at the public library.) I took nearly a year’s break from Tintin to read up on my other projects. Now, however, with only four months remaining, the Tintin project has a new urgency. Not only do I have to finish reading all the Tintin books, but I also have to read the six Herge* biographies available at our local libraries. I also want to read other books for side trips in Belgium: a book on Waterloo, a guide to World War sites around the places I am visiting, King Leopold’s Ghost for my visit to Tervuren’s Museum of Central Africa, and probably History of the Low Countries.
(This is in addition to my ongoing medieval reading list and my shelves of birthday and Christmas presents and friends’ loan books. But I can possibly do it if I apply myself and stop goofing off on the internet.)
When I last left off Tintin, I had read The Seven Crystal Balls. This month, to refresh my memory, I re-read it.
Ramon Zarate, whom we know as General Alcazar, the president of San Theodoros, shows up in this book as a knife-thrower. Other recurring characters are the Milanese nightingale Bianca Castafiore, professor Calculus, and inept detectives Thompson and Thomson, the latter without a P, as in Venezuela.
The book begins with Captain Haddock squandering his new found riches on monocles and poor horsemanship. He soon becomes his normal self, with some great insults: bashi-bazouks, body-snatchers, cannibals, caterpillars, gangsters, hi-jackers, hooligans, iconoclasts, jackanapes, kleptomaniacs, mountebanks, nests of rattlesnakes, numbskulls, nyctalops, parasites, pirates, pock-marks, road-hogs, sea-gherkins, steamrollers, tribes of savages, troglodytes, vagabonds, and vampires.
Snowy, meanwhile, has a slightly less painful adventure than in previous books:
He crashes into the butler Nestor’s foot,
a black cat attacks him (leaving him with a black eye),
water is spat into his face,
he is gagged and removed from the opera,
he is scared by Rascar Capac’s mummy,
chased by a fireball into a fireplace,
gets his face sooty,
is shot at and has a bone shot out of his mouth,
chases Haddock’s tough Siamese cat, knocking down a suit of armour and getting the helmet stuck on his head,
and gets drunk on Haddock’s whiskey.
The sequel, Prisoners of the Sun, has a few new Haddockian insults: anachronisms, guano-gatherers, imitation Incas, pithecanthropuses, politicians, poltroons, savages, terrorists, tin-hatted tyrant, tramps, and Zapotecs. His venom is spared particularly for his nemeses, the llamas of Peru: cushion-footed quadrupeds, filibusters, morons, moth-eaten imitation camels, Patagonians, perambulating fire-pumps, raggle-taggle ruminants, slubberdegullions, and weevils. He does spew a little at other Peruvian animals. The condor gets bald-headed budgerigar, doryphore, and gobbledygook tossed at it; the monkeys are gibbering anthropoids and pithecanthropic mountebanks; an anteater is a four-legged Cyrano, the alligators become loathsome brutes and at one point, a distressed Snowy becomes a sea-lion.
Snowy goes through a few mishaps (a head bonk, a jump from a runaway train on a trestle bridge, a condor kidnapping, a fall over a waterfall and a newspaper wad hit on the head). Most important is that he begins to talk again.
The history of these two books took place during WWII in Nazi-occupied Brussels. The Seven Crystal Balls ran from December 16, 1943 to September 3, 1944, with its sequel starting only two years later on September 26, 1946. Rather like me pausing my Tintin reading binge in late summer 2007 and starting up again in spring 2009. Herge based professor Hercules Tarragon’s house in the first part on a real villa in Brussels. He sketched the seemingly empty house and, as he was about to leave, two grey cars full of Nazi soldiers pulled up to the house. The Germans had requisitioned the house for themselves: it was lucky that Herge didn’t have to explain why he was sketching it.
*Annoyingly, WordPress has recently mutilated all the accent markings I have ever written in my blog posts. I still have no idea how to correct this problem. I can’t save the accent markings, no matter how I insert them. I tried following instructions from those unicode info sites and WordPress help pages, but nothing. And once I do figure it out, this means I will have to re-edit hundreds of posts to un-mangle the accents. I really don’t understand why people keep muttering about WordPress being some sort of god. I find it harder to use than Blogger. The only good thing is perhaps that comments are moderated in a better way. Still, my to-do list since I switched to WordPress, in terms of working out all the kinks, is now so monumental, I almost want to switch back to Blogger. Anyhow, what this all means is that Herge has no accent marking. Boo for WordPress.
Thursday April 23rd 2009, 8:12 am
Filed under: Games,Tintin
In Yoville, I have a sense of urgency in making money to buy stuff because the stores eventually stop selling stuff. You see, I missed buying a rookery of penguins. I snagged only one lone penguin before the penguins went bye-bye. I’ve also missed buying the lamp I wanted and the zebra rugs disappeared. Since then, I have been aware that things come and go, and that I better buy now.
When Easter accouterments made their debut at the Yoville florist, I made myself a wishlist with prices and calculated how many days, working at the Yoville Widget Factory at 6-hour intervals, it would take to make enough funds. I coveted and got the egg vase, the marshmallow rabbits, the box of Easter eggs and the chocolate bunny. Matt presented me with the cupcake tower, which you can see below in my living room, and I eventually decided that the Easter basket was too much pastel for my taste.
Here’s my kitchen:
Someone gifted me a parrot, probably by accident, at a Yoville gathering. (The parrot’s name is Snowy, in homage to Tintin’s canine sidekick.) Matt also gave me the hanging flowers and the red microwave, which decided the colour scheme of my kitchen. I am now saving up for a red fridge. The leaf table, I bought on whim. I may save it up for my eventual real estate expansion. Once I decorate the apartment, I am buying a house which can have some theme, perhaps an animal refuge – I can use my apartment for living and for Yoville parties, my house will be a fantasy hangout.
Now here’s my living room:
I have nearly completed my arabesque living room set, just one desk left to buy. I am not so sure what to do with the ottoman on the bottom right hand side. There’s something else that’s missing, maybe more vibrant wall paper?
As for my bedroom, I am not really sure in what direction to take it:
The screen and the dead tree (from the trailer trash decorating theme) are a start. Matt is constructing a bathroom in his apartment, so that’s an idea. However, Matt is giving up Yoville for this mobster game. Oh well. I will probably start using his account to make money that his avatar will donate to my cause.
It was great to see Tintin wearing Chinese-style blue pyjamas, a souvenir from his Blue Lotus days, along with the huge Blue Lotus vase from the cover of the previous book. Then, on the ocean voyage, there’s cringeworthy depiction of a black waiter, utterly black with shiny brown patches, exaggerated lips and something of a popcorn hairdo, rather like Balthazar the artist’s apartment manager’s nighttime hairdo earlier in the book. Then again, one of the Hispanic characters is called SeÃ±or Tortilla.
Other interesting tidbits: Tintin is very dashing in his colonel’s uniform and Snowy goes through a lot in this story. The poor dog gets shot by a bullet and a poisoned arrow, nearly goes off a waterfall, runs into a predatory South American tribe that wants to kill him and pluck out his heart, and is attacked by piranhas. It’ll get worse for Snowy in upcoming stories.
Next in line on my Tintin reading list was The Black Island, a Scottish gorilla tale. Snowy has the following mishaps:
he somehow ends up with a bandaged face on page 6,
he clings to the back of a speeding car,
gets hit on the head with a spike,
is robbed of his bone by some bully dalmatian-doberman cross,
flies out of a runaway trailer when it collides with a tree,
gets hit in the head by a falling apple,
jumps on a moving train,
gets drunk on Loch Lomond Whisky,
his plane crash lands in Scotland,
gets spanked by Tintin the third time he has a run-in with Loch Lomond Whisky,
falls down a cliff while chasing a rabbit,
lands in a patch of thistle,
gets strangled by a gorilla,
is hit on the head with a falling gun,
and has a fright from a menacing spider.
According to Wikipedia, this is the only Tintin book in which the reporter physically punishes Snowy.
Yet Snowy also shows his brilliance: he uses a goat to save Tintin’s life, he brings a fireman to the chloroformed Tintin lying helpless in a burning house, steals a whole roast chicken (and gives Tintin a mere drumstick to nibble on), he harasses the gorilla, and retrieves a gun from the criminals, getting rewarded with a bone but not that Loch Lomond Whisky.
This book was also cunningly copied into Tamil by children’s author Vaandumaama. To get around copyright restrictions, Tintin becomes Balae Baalu, an Indian boy who, remarkably, goes on the exact same adventure, with the Indian equivalent of Snowy.
King Ottokar’s Sceptre finds Tintin in the fictional Balkan state of Syldavia. Tintin still has one of his Chinese vases around, though it is smashed at the beginning of the story. The Thomson Twins, as in the previous story, play a big role in this story, and the awful opera singer Bianca Castafiore appears. Oddly enough, though Tintin presumably loses his luggage when travelling to Syldavia – did they throw his suitcase after him when they ejected him mid flight? Did they put his suitcase in the Klow International Airport lost and found? – his Chinese-style pyjamas turn up again when he sleeps over at King Muskar’s place.
This time, Snowy
is burned by a cigarette,
is hit on the rumps with a stone,
is ejected from an airplane,
is forced to eat a secret note,
has the diplodocus bone he stole from a natural history museum in turn stolen by some bully Syldavian mutts,
and gives up another bone because of visions of a thunderbolt-wielding maniac of a Tintin.
However, he gets some fancy digs when his actions save the rule of King Muskar XII, and he gets a smart blue ribbon around his neck while his master receives the Syldavian Order of the Pelican. All in all, Snowy gets off pretty easy in this adventure.
Some other King Ottokar’s Sceptre comes again from its Wikipedia entry. In the 90s cartoon version, Professor Alembick’s evil twin is the smoker instead of the other way around. The cartoons also downplayed Captain Haddock’s drinking problem (and apparently made a mute out of Snowy). Though Tintin in America and The Black Island were banned in Nazi Germany because they were set in enemy countries, this book squeaked by despite its criticism of forced unification and its villain, the would-be usurper MÃ¼sstler (his name a melding of Mussolini and Hitler).
The Crab with the Golden Claws finally introduces Captain Haddock. His most amusing insult in this issue, among equally alluringfuzzy-wuzzy, anacoluthon, technocrat, carpet-sellers, ectoplasms, etc., is toffee-noses.
Snowy starts off the story by getting his snout caught in a can of crab meat. Tintin admonishes his “dirty habit of exploring rubbish bins.” Poor Snowy must not be fed at home because he robs a homeless man of his bone. With regards to the homeless man’s bone, my parents told me that they once ate a roast chicken at a Polish restaurant where a poor woman asked for their bones, which she took away in her bag. So there is something about poor Europeans collecting bones. Anyone know why?
Back to Snowy, he has to play the role of “dog,” fetching Tintin’s wretched magnifying glass and, when Tintin is absorbed in his mystery, Snowy sneaks off behind the couch to gnaw away. I should mention that Snowy has an angry and devious look on his face at this point.
almost gets crushed to death by a pallet of cans of crab,
is hit square between the eyes by a champagne cork (but gets to lick the bottle when Tintin isn’t looking),
clings fearfully to Tintin’s back as he climbs from porthole to porthole on a ship,
barely manages a tongue-full of Haddock’s whiskey,
his lifeboat is capsized,
his plane crashes in the Sahara,
beats up both Tintin and Haddock with a camel bone (for once not being the recipient of paint),
is snapped at y Haddock’s suspenders,
nearly dies of thirst,
steals some sort of ham from an Islamic merchant,
gets hit with another gun,
has his paw stepped on by a thug,
gets drunk on wine fumes,
and bites a villain on the bum only to have the beaast’s crushing weight fall down on him.
Finally, a secret admirer (and concerned animal lover) sends Snowy a parcel of a large beribboned bone.
My favourite Tintin book as a child was The Shooting Star. A little sillier and more sci-fi, this story had cute white mushrooms with red splotches and funny spiders.
But enough about the humans. Let’s see what happens to our canine hero. Poor Snowy has the following misfortunes:
he runs into a pole thanks to his owner’s stargazing,
a nasty observatory worker slams a door on his pristine white bum,
another spider harasses him,
a horde of rats chases him,
he gets trapped on a road of melted tar,
in a Titanic movie moment, both he and Tintin get splashed with some bracing seawater,
he gets seasick,
he is almost washed overboard,
he gets caught by the tail,
he slips on the frozen deck,
he topples hot spaghetti onto himself,
he has the galley door slammed onto his face,
he falls down a ladder,
he is sat upon,
he is stranded on a plane wing as the contraption takes off,
he is plucked off the plane wing by his leash (and nearly strangling the poor thing),
he is burned in boiling water,
he has an apple core tossed onto his head,
he is attacked by a monster butterfly,
a mammoth apple crashes onto his head,
he has a near-death encounter with a mean-spirited overgrown spider,
he has to bite Tintin on the bum (hopefully he didn’t get pink eye),
he falls down a steep slope,
and he is whipped across the snout with a rope.
Yet Snowy displays remarkable brilliance once again as he douses a stick of dynamite with his urine. He also manages to gorge himself on sausages. Most cutely, he dons a bonnet, cape and bootie ensemble (his “best bib and tucker”) in the Arctic, proudly proclaiming that he “is going to cause a sensation.” Does anybody appreciate our little Snowy? No. They don’t even share their whiskey with the poor dear, not even when Captain Haddock, the honourary president of the Society of Sober Sailors, gets an overflowing thimbleful for his tonic. Obviously, Snowy is miffed, alone under the table on page 31.
The Secret of the Unicorn has Nestor and Marlinspike’s debuts. This book, along with the other WWII-era books The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Shooting Star and Red Rackham’s Treasure, keeps to a less controversial story, centring on a treasure hunt.
From the beginning, we see there is no end to Snowy’s suffering. To please his tactless master, he accompanies him to a flea market, picking up some sort of itching parasite as they wander among the bric-a-brac. His sacrifice is hardly noticed and, rather, Tintin blames Snowy for breaking a newly acquired trinket. Only later on will Tintin realize that Snowy’s one instance of poor judgment turned out to be a lucky one. Snowy also shows he can answer the phone and bring it to his master.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Tintin adventure without more physical pain for Snowy:
a stack of books tumbles onto Snowy’s head,
he is snapped across the nose by the secret note,
a glass of whiskey falls on his face,
he is nearly cut through by a sword-wielding maniacal Captain Haddock,
he gets dizzy drunk on more whiskey,
his tail is stepped on,
a dying man’s hat blinds him momentarily,
he jumps out of a second-storey window,
he is twice splashed with mud by careless motorists,
he is nearly run over by a speeding villain,
and he has yet another glass of whiskey thrown in his face.
The poor dog does get drunk again (on whiskey), is caught with a human thigh bone in his mouth, nearly suffocates in Calculus’ diving shark, falls on his bottom (with a preoccupied Haddock not heeding his mournful crying), gets slapped on the nose with another rope, and is hit with dirt. Though by the end of the story, he gets his bone. Still, I hope that this doesn’t mark the end of Snowy as the little complainer.
The criminals’ objectives in these seven stories were:
The Broken Ear: a diamond.
The Black Island: counterfeit money.
King Ottokar’s Sceptre: a sceptre through which rule of Syldavia was guaranteed.
I’ve been to three public libraries. All the Tintins and the Asterixes are out. Borrowed by little whippersnappers who should be absorbed in the new Harry Potter.
I cannot find the first Asterix book. That’s Asterix the Gaul. The first book I was to read in order to make my 60-book quota before December 31.
Nor can I find Asterix and the Goths.
I can, however, find the later Asterixes: Asterix and the Actress, Asterix and the Black Gold, Asterix and the Magic Carpet. Not the canonical Asterixes.
The Tintins, meanwhile, are not quite as reclusive.
I found and read Tintin in America. The subsequent Tintins also appear accessible through the local libraries.
But the first two Tintins, Tintin in the Congo and Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, are nowhere to be seen.
I know the former is out there, because the UK’s Commission for Racial Equality recently put out a call to bookstores to ban this book for its racist colonial attitude towards Africans (as reported by the BBC). The book already carries a warning just like CDs with “bad” music. The warning alerts potential readers that the book contains “bourgeois, paternalistic stereotypes of the period – an interpretation some readers may find offensive.” Since the resulting publicity, sales of the 1931 comic has risen by almost 4000%.
I am prepared to be offended by Tintin in the Congo. But until the library succumbs to popular curiosity and purchases a copy, I skipped ahead to Tintin in America.
Replete with 1930s American stereotypes – Chicago gangsters, rampant development, cowboy lynch mobs, innocents tied across railroad tracks – the book is most offensive when it comes to the representation of the First Nations. We’re talking boys and arrows, tomahawks, papooses, references to scalping, and “torture poles.” You’ve also got the usual, mostly hyphenated “Indian” names: Big Chief Keen-Eyed-Mole, Browsing-Bison, Bull’s-Eye, and Lame Duck.
Yet, with six more books to go until I get to the expletive-rich Captain Haddock, I do appreciate this gem from the mouth of the Mighty Sachem:
Let us raise the tomahawk against this miserable Paleface with the heart of a prairie dog!
I’ve only started keeping track of my reading habits the past two years, and in 2004 and 2005 my final year-end books counts were 39 and 41, respectively. Fifty books will be a serious challenge.
I decided to try out the 50 book thing too.
I started keeping a list of books I read in 1996 when I completed 14 books. The inspiration came from a women’s magazine article. The writer explained how keeping a “read” list gave her a sense of accomplishment. She’d been adding books to the list for three or four years, and each title carried some memory. That novel followed the break-up with boyfriend #34, this one spanned twelve visits to the dentist, while another represented mom’s chemotherapy.
My list, rather than a memory aid for past emotions, serves to goad me into reading more and, more importantly, reading better. I look back and cringe that I wasted time with Steven Langhorne Clemens’ Tokyo Pink Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Tokyoâ€™s Sexy Pleasure Spots â€“ What, Where, & How Much! in 2000 or that I can’t remember a single idea from Pasolini on Pasolini: Interviews with Oswald Stack or Samuel Y. Edgerton, Jr.’s Pictures and Punishment: Art and Criminal Prosecution during the Florentine Renaissance, both of which I read in 1997. I still can’t belive I made it through Michael Herr’s Dispatches in 2001.
But the numbers are a big thing. In 1999, I managed to finish only eight books. In 2003 (an unfortunate year), I muddled through eleven books, a lot of them cheats like graphic and children’s novels. I look with pride at 2001 and 2002, both also unfortunate years yet with 31 and 33 respectively to demonstrate that those years weren’t a complete waste.
Fifty books in a year seemed like a good goal for 2006. In 2005, I got through 26 books: fifty meant I merely had to read four books a month instead of two.
Luckily, I discovered that books on tape go along splashingly with my overdrawn commute. Thus I slipped into 2007 with a glorious 56 books under my belt.
So. I decided I was close enough in 2006 to reaching 60, that that was where I set the bar for this year.
And here I am, the end of the first half of the year, and I am only at 26. Not even halfway.
Part of the problem is that I have taken to daydreaming during my commutes. I end up at work in the morning, not really sure that it was I who drove all that way. Books on tape disrupt my dream time, so I returned Umberto Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana back to the library.
I do have a plan.
It came to me in Rome. Insatiable for knowledge of more ancient Roman atrocities (and rather bored with the Julius Caesar chapter in Suetonius), I vowed to re-read all the Asterix books when I got home. And for good measure, I would re-read all the Tintin comics too.
In 2002, I borrowed and read nearly all the Tintin books. I fought off nine-year-olds at the public library to snag every single last copy. I scoured the floors and under shelves for any misplaced copies and mercilessly put holds on other kids’ copies. I braved desiccated kid snot smeared into the creases and ignored unusual stains.
It’s been five years and it’s that time again.
This time, however, I will read all the Asterixes and Tintins in chronological published order.
More for myself, here’s a list of the books in the order I shall attempt to tackle them:
1. Asterix the Gaul (1961) 2. Asterix and the Golden Sickle (1962) (own it, in English) 3. Asterix and the Goths (1963) (own it, in Romanian) 4. Asterix the Gladiator (1964) 5. Asterix and the Banquet (1965) 6. Asterix and Cleopatra (1965) 7. Asterix and the Big Fight (1966) (own it, in Romanian) 8. Asterix in Britain (1966) 9. Asterix and the Normans (1966) 10. Asterix the Legionary (1967) 11. Asterix and the Chieftain’s Shield (1968) 12. Asterix at the Olympic Games (1968) (own it, in English) 13. Asterix and the Cauldron (1969) 14. Asterix in Spain (1969) 15. Asterix and the Roman Agent (1970) 16. Asterix in Switzerland (1970) 17. The Mansions of the Gods (1971) 18. Asterix and the Laurel Wreath (1972) 19. Asterix and the Soothsayer (1972) 20. Asterix in Corsica (1973) 21. Asterix and Caesar’s Gift (1974) 22. Asterix and the Great Crossing (1975) 23. Obelix and Co. (1976) 24. Asterix in Belgium (1979)
And maybe I’ll even go as far as to read the Uderzo-only Asterixes, depending on how much they live up to their bad reputation:
25. Asterix and the Great Divide (1980) 26. Asterix and the Black Gold (1981) 27. Asterix and Son (1983) 28. Asterix and the Magic Carpet (1987) 29. Asterix and the Secret Weapon (1991) 30. Asterix and Obelix All at Sea (1996) 31. Asterix and the Actress (2001) 32. Asterix and the Class Act (2003) 33. Asterix and the Falling Sky (2005)
As for the Tintins, other than first two, I think my local library will have all of them.
1. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (1929â€“1930) 2. Tintin in the Congo (1930â€“1931) 3. Tintin in America (1931â€“1932) 4. Cigars of the Pharaoh (1932â€“1934) (own it, in English) 5. The Blue Lotus (1934â€“1935) 6. The Broken Ear (1935â€“1937) 7. The Black Island (1937â€“1938) 8. King Ottokar’s Sceptre (1938â€“1939) 9. The Crab with the Golden Claws (1940â€“1941) (own it, in English) 10. The Shooting Star (1941â€“1942) 11. The Secret of the Unicorn (1942â€“1943) (own it, in English) 12. Red Rackham’s Treasure (1943â€“1944) 13. The Seven Crystal Balls (1943â€“1948) 14. Prisoners of the Sun (1946â€“1949) 15. Land of Black Gold (1948â€“1950) (own it, in English) 16. Destination Moon (1950â€“1953) 17. Explorers on the Moon (1950â€“1954) 18. The Calculus Affair (1954â€“1956) 19. The Red Sea Sharks (1958) 20. Tintin in Tibet (1960) 21. The Castafiore Emerald (1963) 22. Flight 714 (1968) 23. Tintin and the Picaros (1976) 24. Tintin and Alph-Art (1986)
Tuesday August 27th 2002, 4:46 pm
Filed under: Books,Tintin
Visited two libraries (Port Moody and the Burnaby Cameron branch) and two bookstores this week. I found Joyceï¿½s Dubliners for 50 cents at the Port Moody Library. Sadly, however, I have issued a moratorium on book-buying after lugging yesterday’s load home. At the Robson Chapters I got cheap deals on two George Eliot biographies (one by Rosemary Ashton and the other by Frederick R. Carl), three of her books (Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch, and Felix Holt), an Irish cooking book by Darina Allen, and The Ark and the Covenant, which will be a great companion during my trip to Ethiopia next week.
I also went to the Book Warehouse on Granville again, and saw biographies of Walt Whitman, Edith Wharton and Marcel Proust. The heavy set of George Eliot works and what-not tugged my hand and reminded me that I bought too many books already on this trip. I’m sure Walt Whitman will be around the next time I visit.
When I came home, I weighed my recent purchases: 20 kg exactly. The maximum I can send through Canada Post.
Spent the day reading Tintin comics. Watched the 1983 Jackie Chan movie Project A. Hmm, naked Yuen Biao. Gotta write to the Girl’s Guide to Hong Kong movies and tell them that he isn’t exactly an “iron virgin.”
I only managed to get two other Tintin comics I haven’t read. Another girl was curled up beside the Tintin section with a copy, but I peeked at what she was reading. It was the Blue Lotus. Already read it last week. I also made a list of language tapes I wanted to borrow and I found them all, Romanian, German, Italian, French, Ojibwe, Coast Salish, Swedish, Russian and Cantonese, but, just before taking my catch to the check-out counter, I came across a sign saying that there were restrictions on language tapes. So I returned all the treasures back to the shelf. I’ll study them next year, I suppose.
Aside from these minor disappointments, I couldn’t enjoy my last day at the Central Library because I was in shock from, first, my airfare back to Japan (suddenly very expensive despite its being a low season ticket), and, second, because I had my meningococcal and yellow fever vaccines. The vaccine lady said the yellow fever would sting. Whoa! Did it ever sting!
I asked the vaccine lady, “Why does a live vaccine pinch like that?”
“Because it’s a live vaccine,” she answered.
“But why do live vaccines sting?”
“Live vaccines sting because they are live.”
“But how is it that one stings but the other is painless?”
“Look, I can’t tell you the exact scientific reason!”
Was it an unreasonable question? Isn’t it as fascinating as I thought it was? The vaccine lady’s irritability prevented me from complimenting her painlessly executed injections.
The Oak arrived at the Central Library checkout yesterday and I am the first person to watch it! At the 1994 Vancouver Film Festival, mom and dad and the rest of the adult Romanians dashed off to the movies, leaving poor Maktaaq to answer phones and make the pizzas.
When the adults returned, I asked them if they liked the movie.
“Tremendously!” they said.
“Then I want to see it too,” I replied.
“You shouldn’t – it’s got rough language, much too coarse for your young ears.”
Well, I’ll be the judge of what’s coarse and what’s not now.
I found some good books at the Robson Chapters but I will wait until I clear all the other bills before buying those two George Eliot biographies and that third book, whatever it was.