Sunday, July 20, 2008

the poop of silas lapham

Bunna reads a lot. So does Biff for that matter, but Bunna's current vocational undertaking obliges him to turn more pages than most typical thirty-somethings. Because his scant occupational remuneration doesn't support his bibliophilic dream of shelves chockablock with crisp new copies, Bunna is accustomed to thumbing through cast-off second hand editions and library copies of the best (and worst) nineteenth-century Americans have to offer. Anyone who regularly peruses previously read volumes has certainly encountered the text with insightful underlinings or other annotations that indicate the book was in capable hands. But the reader of used books, especially one who purchases them "site unseen," as it were, from one of the many online outfits, also takes the risk of slogging through a text congested with the inane marginalia of a half-wit. While leafing through William Dean Howells's The Rise of Silas Lapham, one of the late nineteenth-century's classic realist novels, Bunna was content following in the footsteps of what seemed to be one of those capable readers. The markings bespoke someone familiar with intellectual and literary movements, someone who was to his utter dismay, however, familiar with a different kind of movement all together. During a key scene in the novel, this pencil wielding egghead wrote a very cryptic and disturbing (or disturbingly amusing) comment. 

In what was an otherwise flawlessly scrupulous job of annotating, came this little jewel in the margin: "pooing." Perhaps because Lapham "leaned back in his chair," or maybe because the narrator described him as "stiffly resolute," or perchance because "incommoded" is cognate with commode (a piece of furniture concealing a chamber pot), this scholar chose to write "pooing." Now, lest you accuse Bunna of forging this comment based on his scatological leanings, you should know that he much prefers "pooping" to "pooing" and has long adopted the former as his chosen term when conversing in that field. "Pooing," of course, has nothing to do with the passage and its presence on the page has long vexed Bunna. Because the other markings to this point had been spot on in his mind, Bunna had to reevaluate his reading and was forced to disassociate himself from the puerile prankster. 

Next time the urge to write in a library book (or any book for that matter) takes hold, Bunna advocates caution--others will follow! 

Saturday, July 5, 2008

mini park independence day

Fourth of July on a Friday is like having two Saturdays. We rarely have a real Saturday like most people - you know, cut the grass, throw a barbecue, play a round of golf, or maybe even set up the canopy, put out the nylon lawn chairs, fill the one-use styrofoam cooler with your favorite beverage, set up the slip 'n slide in the backyard, and go topless for the afternoon like our neighbors - you know real Saturday kind of stuff. Since our neighbor ripped the slip 'n slide belly-flopping with his keys in his pocket, we decided to use the first Saturday of the weekend to get out and enjoy more of Champaign's mini parks. We had such a good time at McCollum Park and Mini Park II on Memorial Day, we couldn't pass up the opportunity for another holiday visit. 

The first stop of the day was Mini Park V at 909 W. Church Street. Obtained through a lease from the Carle Foundation in 1988, the luscious .01 acres located just west of The Pavilion - Champaign's premier mental health institute - provides park goers with ample space for playing frisbee, engaging in a fierce game of bocce ball, or even setting up the croquet wickets. Biff and Zoe managed to get a spot right in front of the sign! We were the only visitors.

Everyone must have been at a 4th of July barbecue or maybe staking out places for the fireworks at Dodds Park. It's possible, however, that most of the park regulars were visiting the cows at Prairie Farm. No matter, we had the place to ourselves! 

Because 98% of the park is asphalt, Mini Park V is the destination for Champaign's rollerbladers, rollerskaters, and street hockey enthusiasts. In our excitement to get out of the door, we forgot the rollerskates, but Biff said we could probably return next week. We did, however, make it over to the Pavilion for a look at their top-rate facilities. We might leave the rollerskates at home every time we visit Mini Park V.

Convenient parking is located in the park. Parking is free as is admission. Long-term parking is provided for friends and family of Pavilion patients. Validation can be obtained at the front desk. 

Some recent photos of friends enjoying the tropical paradise of Hawaii's pristine coastline have given us a hankerin' for our own island-hopping adventure. We packed up our things and headed to one of Champaign's Flower Islands. Located on the southeast corner of Prospect and Devonshire, this flower island can satisfy any floraphile's addiction.

Its beautiful arrangement of pansies and its exotic palm-like center piece attract heavy traffic during the summer months, so we advise an early morning or late evening visit. None of the cars stopped this Independence Day, though nearly everyone came to a complete stop at the intersection to gaze at all the flowers in all their summer loveliness. Again we suspect everyone was en route to some kind of patriotic party, too busy for what really makes this country great.
Convenient parking is located across the street at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Admission to the island is free. 

Stay tuned to Bunna and Biff for more about Champaign's mini parks and for your chance to vote for your favorite mini park and much, much more!