Cleaning Up, Helping Out and Reading On

My Wednesday began with some shopping in preparation for a job interview I should be having in the next couple of weeks. I’m not the sort of person who would wear a suit by choice (I last wore one to my grade 12 prom. I think my dislike must have developed early in my teen years because I seemed far too happy in a suit in my youth.) so I needed to go out and pick one up for the next step in a possible change in employment. I’m terrible at discerning numeric sizes, but I was able to come away with pants and a shirt that fit, a belt, a classy tie (a mix of black and silver that join together in a sort of wave) and a new pair of shoes (oh, and a new set of socks) without too much trouble or scrambling to try things on. Oh how I dislike the pretense required for getting a job. Why can’t one be hired as is, full of casual zeal and a commitment to working to the best of one’s ability?
After that I went to the nearest hair salon (Is it always a hair salon or is that reserved for a certain type of establishment?) and had my first hair cut in a year and a half. Don’t be afraid I’ve cut my locks; I only had an inch or so trimmed to dispose of split ends. I’ll be sticking with the long hair we’ve all grown to love. I do like the feel of having a fresh cut, though, especially having the back of my neck cleaned up professionally. There’s a certain feeling of cleanliness to that which I tend to forget about in the months between cuts.

The weather was beautiful that afternoon; it was as perfect day, one below a blue sky and with a temperature just shy of hot. Having no plans, I decided to head downtown in hopes that the public gardens would be open. They were, so I spent some time walking in lazy loops through them, taking photos of the statues, the ducks and other facinating sights (Yes, I indulged in my love of streetlamps). Next I walked through one of my favourite cemeteries and noticed I had familiar company; ducks had also decided to be the subject of photos among headstones. Those bastards sure have a love for the lens.

I’ve been relaxing and enjoying some quality time with books, music and films during the remaining time of my days off. It’s been a rather typical couple of days, really. While I’ve enjoyed this, I feel a bit neglectful of my goals. So as not to fall behind on my mission to tidy this up by the end of the month, I’ll try to dig up some things I’ve been meaning to mention, mostly to clean up my mental list of things to share.

I’m sure many of you have already come across mentions of Make Poverty History . ca (or its Brittish counterpart) or The One Campaign. Both are part of an exciting movement aimed at combatting poverty across the globe and in our home countries.

What We Want

In 14 words… MORE AND BETTER AID. TRADE JUSTICE. CANCEL THE DEBT. END CHILD POVERTY IN CANADA.
At the start of the 21st century 1.2 billion people live in abject poverty. More than 800 million people go to bed hungry and 50,000 people die every day from poverty-related causes.
Poverty exists because of the choices we make. It exists because we have:

  • insufficient and ineffective aid
  • an unjust global trade system
  • a debt burden for poor countries that is so great that it suffocates any chance of recovery
  • an unwillingness to invest enough in social development

It’s really exciting to see that some of the Canadians I respect most are putting their voices behind this important work, notably the legendary David Suzuki (possibly the greatest media and environmentalist figure of our times), Matthew Good and Tom Cochrane (two of the finest musicians out there and also vocal humanitarians). Part of the promotion of the cause includes the stylish white bands that will be worn across the world in a statement of unity in the fight against poverty and for fairness and equality. This is vital and noble work, so I’m sure I don’t need to urge you to help.

I’ve been hearing buzz about I Huckabees for months and finally got around to watching it this morning. It’s just as good as I’d heard, fast paced, witty, well cast and terribly, intelligently funny. It’s taglined as “an existential comedy” and that’s about as much as you need to know, other than the fact it’s an incredibly enjoyable film. Those of us who have explored the theme will get an extra kick from it, but it’s surprisingly accessable.

Lately I’ve been catching up on some excellent comics and graphic novels I’d put off reading. It’s always been tough for me to narrow down my choices when I visit a comic shop but I decided to just dive in and grab the books that I’ve been missing, those thatseem interesting or that I’ve heard praised countless times. I was missing out.

Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan‘s Demo was a refreshing series of 12 distinctively and beautifully illustrated, deftly written standalone issues connected by characters that were “born wrong, flawed, doomed to struggle in life and sort themselves out the best they can, totally on their own. Whether it’s a curse, or a blessing – its entirely up to them.” Among the highlights were “Mon Dernier Jour Avec Toi,” ‘One Shot, Don’t Miss,” and “Mixtape,” but the whole series is one I’ll be sure to reread over the years.

I’ve been keeping up with Strangers In Paradise, the only ongoing series I follow at the moment. If you haven’t yet given it a try I’d suggest you take a look at the affordable new SIP pocket books. As the site’s summary says,

“Strangers In Paradise (SIP) is the story of three friends, Francine, Katchoo and David and the people they fall in and out of love with. It’s a tale of dark pasts and hopeful futures, double-crosses and true friendship, love and hate. In other words: it’s a story of real life, kicked up a notch.”

I’ve been thrilled with David Lapham’s Stray Bullets, a crime drama with a real sense of humour and muddling of perspectives mixed with the noir violence one might expect from more popular comics in the genre (i.e. Sin City). The Amy Racecar stories highlight nicely the mix of reality and storytelling inventon that prevails in this fiction; they present a young girl’s writings about a super-cool criminal named Amy Racecar, with the stories being filled with the misconceptions and perspective of a girl her age. I got a kick out of one main arc story involving a small town that prided itself on a five-legged cow. You can imagine what this combined with the noir set of themes would entail.

What else? I got into some classics, Will Eisner’s Contract With God, a collection of blue collar stories set in New York; Frank Miller’s Sin City (in its entirety); Moore and Gibbons’ Watchmen, an intelligent and insightful look at the super hero genre.

I’ve also recently read five (of eight) volumes from Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha and Craig Thompson’s Carnet de Voyage, but I’ll write about those soon. Now I must go pour myself some chai.

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