Sunday, December 28, 2008
I liked Despereaux. The story begins with a rather nice sea-rat named Roscuro who was beguiled by his love of Soup into climbing up to a dangerous position, from which he fell into the Queen's bowl... so that she fainted and drowned therein... and the King in his grief unwisely outlawed Rats and Soup as well.
This, of course, ruined the lives of his daughter and all their subjects. (Soup was a Big Deal in the Kingdom of Dor.) Just like when the king is good, the kingdom prospers, when this king ruled badly, his kingdom suffered. It wouldn't rain for years. Everyone began taking out their ruined lives on everyone else, and everyone else retaliated, and the Princess is betrayed and-- well, I shan't tell you, but things get Bad, actually sufficiently Bad that I think the movie deserved a PG rather than a G.
Everything might well have been ruined forever but for Despereaux, an unusually small mouse with large ears who simply wouldn't cower, and read books rather than eating them. His imagination was caught by Courage and Honor and Truth, and he became a gentleman. He gets banished for un-mouse-like behavior ("Are you a man or a mouse?") and promptly goes and starts saving the kingdom.
There aren't many movies where the hero's virtue, especially Capitalized and Made a Point Of, is taken seriously. Or where it works in the plot without being silly. (I'm thinking of Shrek.) Despereaux is funny without being made fun of. The characters aren't perfect, not even the beautiful Princess with long golden hair and the voice of Hermione Granger, but the movie has real evil and takes good things seriously. And when things are set right, it begins to rain again in Dor.
It's a proper fairy tale, in the tradition of proper fairy tales. It was delightful finding it at the movie theater. As we walked out it rained on us, and we went home to make Turkey Soup.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
No wonder I was so tired!
My parents' house - 1
Santa Fe - 2
Atlantic Ocean - 1
Edinburgh - 3
Inverness - 3
Edinburgh - 3
My parents' - 5
Oklahoma somewhere - 1
Memphis - 1
Pigeon Forge - 1
Cottage in Fairfax County - 3
Richmond - 1
a glug of half-and-half
6 or so cooked green beans (leftovers), sliced up small
a sprig of parsley, shredded
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
4 inches fresh thyme, if you've got it, snipped apart
1 Tb butter
Melt the butter in a nonstick frying pan. Mix all the other ingredients except the bruschetta, and pour it into the melted butter. Cook it on medium or medium-low, pushing the edges back so any uncooked egg runs and fills in the space, until it's essentially set through. Flip the entire omelette.
Spread bruschetta over half the omelette and fold the other half up over it. Let it cook just long enough to let the innards get warm. Hopefully the bottom of the egg mixture will be a little brown. You can turn it and cook the other side, if you like. Split it in two and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Things started out well enough. The frame was procured, the calendar was procured, this and that in the food way were procured, two young (female) mice were procured, and we even found a glass soap dish, which we'd been hunting for for months.
So after the pet store packaged up our mice and made us sign papers that we'd be good people to them, we named them Cobbler and Jubilee and went straight home and introduced them to Merry. Merry had none of it. Actually, she viciously attacked them, and they didn't have the sense to keep out of her way and hide. So we carried them all up to the bathtub in hopes that neutral territory would help matters. It didn't. We finally had to pick her up to prevent bodily (mousily?) harm, and even then she sat in our hand, spitting curses down on the trespassers' heads. I don't know where she picked up that kind of language.
Alas. There being nothing for it, we took the erstwhile Cobbler and Jubilee back to the pet store, leaving Merry to simmer down in our absence. The people were very nice and even refunded our $5.23, which I hadn't expected. Apparently we're not the only people who have to give back mice.
And we went on with our food shopping. Wal-Mart had most everything, but no anise for the biscochitos, only one deeply mangled can of Libby's pumpkin for the pie, no chicken bouillion cubes, and, of course, no brandy. So we go across the street to the expensive little gourmet place. They had anise and no Libby's pumpkin. They have expensive little cans of organic pumpkin, but I don't want expensive organic pumpkin, I want Libby's pumpkin. I was quite determined on that. I've used it before, and my mother and grandmother before me, and it works. So there! They also don't have any brandy in their extensive little alcohol section, only beer and wine. So we go to Ukrop's. (This is our sixth grocery stop, if you count World Market.) Jonathan prays, and they have bouillion cubes! This is very exciting because I've looked there before and couldn't find it. One of the workers directs us to the pumpkin and--it's the expensive organic stuff.
So we stand there in the aisle and just laugh. We laugh. We keep looking, and in an entirely different place, they have Libby's pumpkin. HUZZAH!
We also hit the alcohol store next door, which has only beer and wine. Then we go to the alcohol place cati-corner, which has only beer and wine. This is getting peculiar, so we ask the lady if they haven't got brandy? Or cognac, or something like thereunto? She says no, their license doesn't allow it; we need to go to the state-run store just cati-corner, next to Ukrop's and Starbucks.
We go home. It's late. I don't want brandy that badly. Besides, didn't we just go to the liquor store between Ukrop's and Starbucks? I want to make biscochitos to take to Ben and Lisa's party tomorrow. We go home.
And I'm out of flour. AARGH! Six grocery stops, and I DIDN'T BUY FLOUR! While we're home, we google what is up with these stores not carrying brandy. It appears that it's a leftover law from just after Prohibition: in Virginia, only state-run stores can dispense spirits. Fascinating. My New Mexican soul boggled, because I distinctly remember every grocery store back home having That Section where one may procure Jack Daniels or whatever, into which my innocent young soul feared to enter.
So we go back to Ukrop's. We buy flour. We also scope out the strip mall on either side of Starbucks, just to make sure, and by George there is a Virginia Something which appears to contain bottles. Golly.
They had brandy. They had cognac, and gin, and whisky, and vodka, including seven-times-distilled something blue vodka, a giant bottle of which a man trailed by a herd of small children grabbed. (Jonathan is sure one of them said, "Uncle, that's not the one that tastes good!") Another little man picked out his Christmas spirits, humming happily down the aisle. The checkers were very cheerful too, possibly because the very air in there was...thick. And a little tipsy.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
This week at work, we've chiefly been decorating. There's a Christmas decoration contest, and the first day was Monday. So Monday I trot along with $5 worth of garland from Target, and a couple packages of clear and red ornaments, and a string of lights, and a cookie jar full of cookies. I'd been meaning to bring cookies for a while, particularly for John the Conference-Goer, John my supervisor, and Steven, because I gave John the Conference-Goer an almond one the other day and he got all happy. I think they're all single guys and don't get cookies very much. "COOKIE COOKIE COOKIE!"
Anyway, my cube turned out very pretty and classy, and the cookies made me a lot of friends. Bethany, whom I helped train, turned one down because of her diet, but Beverlie from by the elevator was so excited she kept coming back for more, and her seatmate Chad came to try one and find out what all the fuss was about. Dawn was so enthusiastic about the cookie jar, she came back later that week with a cookie for me, and said I'd inspired her, though not too much--this was just a slice 'n bake cookie. She can't make real cookies. The homemade chocolate chip ones she attempted burned. I thought Dawn's slice 'n' bake cookie was pretty good and sympathized with her about the chocolate chip wreckage. Anyway, the cookie jar was duly emptied, and I brought it home again.
The section immediately to my right decorated themselves as the reindeer stable, complete with antler headbands, felt buckets full of "feed," "wooden doors," and a clever sign about "No flash photography" and "Unattended children will be hired as elves." Everybody's nametag got revamped: Matt, whose wedding is in about three weeks, got dubbed "Cupid." Christie over across the way covered her cube walls with brown paper and candy and icicle light "frosting" as a Gingerbread Cube, and shared the candy. (She became popular too.)
Well, this was a competition. On Tuesday the next section over got themselves up as a Christmas village with little doormats for each cubicle. Things escalated. A quadrant over to my left became "Paradise," palm trees, leis, and all. Another section decided to be Candyland. Somebody put up a Grinch theme that plays the "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" song occasionally. Someone else labeled the support column by the printer "The North Pole." Another section, spearheaded by Dawn of the cookies, had a ginormous Santa banner.
And even Ben, in the cube next to mine, became Santa's Workshop. Two little elves by his right elbow have tools, and a "conveyor belt" carries matchbox cars, GI Joes, tiny rubber duckies, and itty-bitty Play-Doh containers up the cube wall, around the edge, and up to his shelf to the "Gift-Wrap-O-Matic", whence a string of tiny packages trails down and into Santa's big black bag. He has a funny sign about "Remember, There's No I In Elf."
On Friday, Julie my new team leader, draggled in late. She commented on the state of affairs with a certain amount of disgust. "Even the tech guys decorated their area. I didn't think they had it in them." Their area was a snow-filled masterpiece with black accents, and little squishy-ball computers on the corners.
I spent my morning break scoping out the other floors' decorations--I wanted to find out about the competition, you see. There really wasn't much--a knickknack here, a lit-up coatrack there. The third floor was positively dark, but then it usually is. I think it's because the extraneous boxes of legal documents get piled there like a young pyramid of doom, but that's neither here nor there.
Well, about this time, there wasn't a whole lot left to decorate on our floor. Rebecca, immediately to my left, and my friend Greer the guitarist, cati-corner from me, were wrapping-paper-ing their cube walls. Greer and I get to talking, and note that Jim who sits just past Greer is gone to New York and didn't decorate his cube before he left.
Gasp. Well, this is obviously not acceptable. So we decorated for him. She had a white sheet and a string of silver balls left over, and Rebecca had some gaudy sparkly blue and red paper left from her cube. I showed Greer and her seatmate Sara how to cut a six-sided snowflake and we had a lovely time. Won't Jim be excited to come back and see how festive his cube is? :-)
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Olwen and I had a new experience this morning. I couldn't get out of the car.
You see, we have a rather cramped little parking lot, and the blue sparkly convertible I generally park next to was over its line. I park normally: "I can do it!" But I couldn't, of course. I opened the door, thought skinny thoughts, and tried. One foot made it out. I thought skinnier thoughts! I squeezed! I made a serious and determined effort not to get white paint on the blue sparkliness next door! And I was definitely not able to get out.
Ah, well. I moved Olwen over--rather to the bemusement of the parking lot guard--and got myself out and up and to work. The moral of the story is that sparkly blue convertibles ought to stay in their own parking spaces.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Through long ages of the past
Prophets have foretold His coming.
Through long ages of the past--
Now the time is come at last...
Saturday, November 29, 2008
The Straight Road to Dulles was rather insult to injury, as it happens. It was the second time that trip we got stuck on roads with no exit for miles. Grr. The first time, we were nearing Jonathan's parents' house. We could almost reach it. Yours truly, Navigatrix, thoughtlessly told the Driver we wanted Exit 3 and settled down with an Anne book, when in fact we wanted Exit 2. The Driver actually believed the Navigatrix, which is sort of scary. We pass Exit 2 -- "We didn't want the Swedesboro exit, did we?" "Yes. OH NO!" --and call up his mother for directions home, as neither of us had the foggiest notion where the next exit might land us. Sigh. Fortunately it spat us out close to his old church, but still.
So there we were, at an entirely unnecessary airport. We figured, while we were so close, we might as well call up my sister and have lunch. So we met her and Danae and had a glorious time. We also tried to call Kay, but couldn't get a hold of her. But all good times must end, even barbecue, so we steeled ourselves for the three-hour jaunt south across Virginia.
It was all right. 15 and 17 were actually decent regarding traffic, and we had fudge sundaes around 3:30. But then we got onto 95 south. Whimper. I prayed for a spot to merge into, and it's a good thing, because the traffic was bumper-to-bumper. It cleared out a bit after Fredericksburg, enough that we could go the speed limit, but the traffic coming north was much worse. We had a solid ribbon of taillights going 65, and they had a solid ribbon of headlights going about zero.
We got home around five, and discovered a certain lack of milk and eggs and bread in the house. We seriously debated having Chinese leftovers for breakfast, but dismally concluded we ought to get groceries. So off we go. Again. They were nice to us at Ukrops, and we came away with the eggs and b.
And I checked my phone, to discover we'd missed a call from Ben and Lisa. They were driving up through town today from the Deep South and wondered if we were interested in company. We'd missed them by about half an hour. Argh! And I had another message from Kay calling back. She hadn't gotten my call because she spent today flying home from Italy.
Isn't this an amazing life we live? We can, literally, get from almost anywhere to anywhere in a day, and know people who do.
But some days the road seems really, really long....
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Anne of Green Gables, chapter XVI: "Diana Is Invited to Tea with Tragic Results"
Monday, October 13, 2008
I beg your pardon for the delay in posting. It's been an active couple of weeks. I went up to PHC for Homecoming, had a birthday, interviewed to help with Sunday School at the new church, and started a new job. I'm doing a "long-term temp" assignment, which should mean about six months, and I'm reviewing claims for a law firm, medical details and all. I am now a fifth-floor cubicle minion.
Olwen doesn't care for Broad Street traffic on the way home, but we both rather like Cary Street going out in the morning. It's green and tree-lined and there are nifty shops and old houses. Unfortunately it's one way, so we can't take it coming back. In other news, I bought a new plant for my cubicle. It's a schefflera, much smaller than Bertie Woozle, and answers to the name Nellie. Bertie didn't get to go because he's grown too much, and in any case he's comfortably esconced in the upstairs bathroom.
Merry still scampers around her cage, but her eye isn't any better. Poor mousie.
Jonathan still likes law school. He spent today writing an assignment and will probably spend all day tomorrow studying for his midterm on Friday. And now, if you'll excuse me, we're just about off to small group. :-)
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Jonathan replaces the green one with an amber one, which sure enough does match the red-and-blue batik napkins somewhat better. He then puts the green one on his knife and his implements start to talk to one another.
'Duel, villain! Shwobo!'
'Die with honor!'
'Hey, no fair! Ancestors avenge me! I die with honor.'
Jonathan: "An arms race soon developed." The spoon now joined the conversation.
I married him because he's the only man on earth to combine napkin rings and anime. So there. :-)
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Both are short scenes. The first is III.3, when Cinna the Poet is mysteriously wandering around ("I have no will to wander forth of doors, /Yet something leads me forth"). Some of the plebeians roused by Antony's speech find him, confuse him with Cinna the Conspirator, and then, when they find out he's another Cinna, they kill him for his bad verses.
The second scene is just a short segment of IV.3. An unnamed poet noticed now-generals Brutus and Cassius arguing and insisted on seeing them to try and make peace. Their guards try to stop the poet, but he bursts in and urges them to be friends, in rhyme (which was unfortunate). They malign his rhyming and chuck him out.
Caesar is about demagoguery and violence, of course. But why should the victims specifically be poets? Is poetry perhaps a tool for a more civilized age, like a lightsaber? When the murderous plebs roved about, they'd have found an excuse to kill nearly anyone. But the one they did kill was ill-equipped to fight them on their own sharp pokey terms. He used his skills, answering them with a certain amount of wit and humor, but they didn't bother to refute him. You don't bring a wit to a knife-fight, and the yelling and sword-waving won.
The poet in the camp has determination, I'll give him that. The "Nothing but death shall stay me" to the guards is an indicator. Presumably he saw Cassius and Brutus arguing outside the tent, before Brutus' "Pas devant les infants" moment, when he pulled Cassius inside. But actually the generals had already more or less solved their differences and pledged everlasting friendship when the poet burst in.
Brutus threw a fit. Cassius asked him to "bear with him," just as he had asked Brutus to bear with himself a moment earlier. Brutus answered, "I'll know his humour when he knows his time: / What should the wars do with these jigging fools? / Companion, hence!" And Cassius, apparently convinced, joined him in kicking the poet out.
I think that line of Brutus' is a big part of it. The poet came too late, and in any case he thinks poets don't belong at war. But there seems to be more. It's not just the brute-like plebeians who disdain poetry, now: the very cultured ones who sneered at the plebeians aren't doing any better. If anyone, anyone had respected poets, you would expect it to be Brutus: the only conspirator who acted high-mindedly, out of love for Rome, and not from sordid ambition. But Brutus is the first to toss the poet out.
Or should the Romans have listened to the poets, now when their world is wobbling all over? Every time poets turn up, their verses get maligned. Cinna seemed to be out wandering because the gods sent him a dream and then compelled him to go out. Did the gods themselves conspire against them? Were the poets inadequate, or is Poetry inadequate, or was the rhetoric in the air addling them all?
What was Shakespeare doing with those two poets?
Thursday, September 25, 2008
"My couch, it's covered with copies of Dante."
The gist seems to be you state the topic of your sentence as a grammatically separate element, and then you get into the sentence proper with a pronoun. It's somewhat redundant--if you wanted to be more efficient, you could probably leave the pronoun out altogether. People still use this construction, especially when talking. Left dislocation is not an appositive, a descriptive phrase set "apposite" to the noun, because appositives come afterward to add information or clarify the reference. Left dislocation, it starts with a clear reference and adds the pronoun later.
Left dislocation is said to be more common in "topic-prominent" languages, another phrase I'd never heard before. Topic-prominent languages apparently don't think in terms of subjects and objects, exactly, as in terms of "what this sentence is mostly about" and "what other nouns are necessary to help me talk about it."
Cool, no? Hat tip: the Wordhoard.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
...Spenser did not allow himself to be inhibited either by the fear that a universal symbolism founded on sacramentalism might betray him into Catholic poetry or that his own fictive covering might obscure the truths of Scriptural revelation. No one else has so cheerfully and astonishingly combined pagan mythology, Christian symbolism, and personal mythmaking while remaining centrally in a main doctrinal tradition of Christianity.
Spenser had the humanist belief that classical thought and poetic form did not conflict with Christian truth; for him all myths merged, as all mirrored a unity of truth. ...Like Sydney, Spenser believed that a poet shared in the creativity of God, and therefore believed also in the poet's responsibility to bring his creation into a meaningful relationship with the moral order of God's creation.
--Harold Bloom, "Introduction to Edmund Spenser," The Best Poems of the English Language
Wow. Oh that someone might could write that about me! I think I need to go read more Spenser now.
Friday, September 19, 2008
In other news, here's a post about lemmings. I don't know why I'm having such a rodenty evening. But they do look kind of like Tribbles. Just don't put any quattro-triticale around.
Vitamin E we have. So every once in a while, we bring Merry up to the bathtub with a big old towel so it's not so stark and a carrot for good behavior (which she ignores), and attempt to swab vitamin E around her eye. She doesn't care for it, and grooms enthusiastically, rubbing the E directly into the wound, which is exactly what we want. It does seem to help. Her eye opens now.
Tonight was one of those nights to dose the mouse. It was fairly typical. We coax her off the wheel (rattle-rattle-rattle, squeak squeak), bring her up in the "penthouse" part of her cage, and once in the tub she cowers and scampers, and goes in and out, and sins, and runs back and forth through her sin a few times.
Jonathan tries to calm her. She'll have none of it. He puts out a hand for her to sniff, and she runs in terror. She won't touch the carrot. I catch her and she leaps from my hands into Jonathan's shoe and up his jeans (oops). We catch her and put her back in the tub and wait for her to calm down. She won't calm down.
I catch her again, cleverly holding her over the tub this time. She runs up and down my forearms, and Jonathan sneaks in with the cotton ball. Ha! Dosed! We put her down and she hides in the back corner of the tub. "Okay Merry, back into your little house," we say. She won't go in her little house. Now she takes an interest in Jonathan's hand. She demonstrates a fine, sublime disregard for the fresh carrot. We eventually manipulate her into the cage and take her back down.
She immediately gets on her wheel and starts running. Rattle-rattle-rattle...
Monday, September 15, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson: not bad. Terribly modern, but I actually liked it better than the original Peter Pan book. It's a good rollicking adventure that ties together quite a bit of the back-history and still manages to tuck away some surprises for the reader. I liked the unusual treasure. Not recommended if you object to disgusting food items.
The Luxe by Anna Godberson: traumatic. It's set in turn-of-the-century New York high society, and it's chock full of hollowness, conniving, backstabbing, and politicking among so-called friends. Sin is sin, but I find it difficult to believe good society girls engaged in quite so much sleeping around. Maybe they did; but the plot was painful anyway. I couldn't put it down, but I don't mean to pick up the sequel.
Fire Bringer by David Clement-Davies: very good. It's about a herd of Scottish deer, which isn't an encouraging premise, but stay with me here. The deer manage to stay deer-like for nearly the whole book, but it's about so much more: tyranny, loyalty, destiny, friendship, mercy, natural law, real guilt, justice, and sacrificial love. There are some great lines, and it even manages to make a quiet little natural-law assault on certain varieties of feminism. The author had clearly been reading great literature. There were even Macbeth allusions.
Maiden Crown by Meghan Collins: Northern. This is historical fiction in the high tradition of Rosemary Sutcliff, and it's a better book than the title sounds like. It's based off Danish ballads, set in twelfth-century Denmark, and written in the 1970s. We meet King Valdemar, his mistress Tove, his young betrothed Sophie, and Stig, the young man the king sends to retrieve her. Yes, it's quite as awkward as it sounds, but well-handled, I thought. And it has a kind of a happy ending, in a difficult Northern way, or at least a good ending. The book has virtue, not just passion, and forgiveness. I'd probably recommend it for older teens.
The Strictest School in the World: Being the Tale of a Clever Girl, a Rubber Boy, and a Collection of Flying Machines, Mostly Broken by Howard Whitehouse: hilarious. I checked it out solely on the basis of the title, read it in one evening, and kept bursting out laughing and reading good bits to Jonathan. I am definitely going to read the sequel.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The lady Aethelthryth, my dragon's namesake, also gets a mention. Hat tip: Unlocked Wordhoard.
Monday, September 08, 2008
This is the bookshelf, obtained with such great effort. It leans a trifle drunkenly, but a bookshelf it is.
This is the dragon Aethel- thryth, made by Amelia for me. She looks good on the medieval lit shelf, but Beowulf makes her nervous.
And, last but not least, this maple lives outside my kitchen window. :-)
"It's a bear! Actually, it's like a forest that eats bears and displays their pelts on its own branches. And I feel like a very small, undernourished bear." Jonathan on legal research
Upon discovering our wedding date: "You're fresh from the altar!" Liz at church
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Turns out it's a four-hour drive from here to there. Good to know. Also, the bookshelf was kind of in not that great shape, and despite the efforts of Kathy, Miriam, and Ryan, dismantling it enough to get it into Olwen brought it into really not-that-great shape. Though Miriam rather impressively produced a toolset for the purpose, and politely took charge of the process so it happened. Kathy stood one one end, and I stood on the other, and we played tug-of-war while Ryan and Miriam pried. No, seriously.
And I had some good talks...with Dr. Hake, who discovered I still don't quite know what I'm doing with my life (bother! He wasn't supposed to notice!), and with someone else, who recommended moving back to P-ville to be aimless there (thanks).
Then I misplaced my husband after I got back. I was going to pick him up about six-thirty, but he was in a dead cell zone and we finally connected about eight, by which time I was freaking out good and proper and just about to go get campus security. But Kay--wonderful Kay--found him for me through email. Thankfully, he was not in a dead-wireless zone.
But we did get home; and I had gotten to visit with my sister, which was after all half the goal; and the mouse Merry was still in her cage, alive and everything; and we now have that bookshelf.
And I'm just as glad it's a new day.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
--C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Monday, September 01, 2008
It amused me...
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
The strangest thing about our housing complex is that there's so little outdoors. The place is begrassed and tidily-bushed and landscaped to within an inch of its life, and I can't even find a decent stream. There are woods off that-a-way, miserable little snatches and corners of them, but they're full of beer cans and broken glass, and I have no intention of going into them alone. I know where the James River is, but not a good place to go hang out with it, and anyway rivers are not conducive to floating little impromptu boats and splashing about without an audience. No; I was thoroughly spoiled, first by our beautiful mesas and then campus.
It's Virginia: there's got to be outdoors somewhere!
On the positive side, there's a big old maple right outside the kitchen window. It's definitely older than my house, which is encouraging. I'll keep you posted when it starts to change colors. And my schefflera (Bertie Woozle) and impatiens seem very happy on the front porch steps.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Today was that sort of day. I picked up Jonathan mid-afternoon from his last class, and we retired comfortably home, to our open windows and cinnamon toast and books and tea (on my part).
I read my new book by Richard Halliburton (published 1927) where he goes and explores the Greek isles and follows Odysseus' route. Jonathan read Zahn's The Green and the Gray--which exactly describes the sort of day it was. When I imagined the first week of law school, it wasn't this; but I can't say I mind a bit. :-)
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
*2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
*5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman X
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy X
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller [maybe]
14. Complete Works of *Shakespeare [I've read a lot, but not all, and loved some: how do you mark that?
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier [maybe]
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot [maybe]
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy [maybe...it's so long and Russian]
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll X [Lewis Carroll disturbs me. His fairy tales are written by the Grownup In the Room, with a wink and a nod and cultural references I don't get.]
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. *Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma- Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis [Wasn't that included in #33?]
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini X
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden X
40. *Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown X
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. *Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy (Started but didn't like it)
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood X
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding [maybe]
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel X [Too disgusting for me]
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon X
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez X
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov X
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold X [Picked it up and put it down again]
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac X
67 .Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy X [Hardy again!]
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. *The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce X
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath X [I can't take Plath, whether she's brilliant or not]
77. *Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker X [She ignored her daughter while raising her, who grew up to repudiate everything Alice believed. What kind of recommendation is that?]
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven -- Mitch Albom X
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams [Started it once; I think I'll go back.]
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas [In the middle of it!]
98. *Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables– Victor Hugo [Maybe]
Query: why did Bridget Jones' Diary beat out Brothers Karamazov?
Monday, August 18, 2008
That is what happens when you let Jonathan and me loose with the "in my scrapbook" game.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
It was doomed to fail because they didn't get Rachel Weisz back to be Evie O'Connell, and she was rockin' awesome. Maria Bello is not rockin' awesome. The script...I'm not sure if even Weisz could have saved it, but Bello certainly didn't. :-( Brendan Fraser and Jet Li were amusing, but they couldn't quite carry it off. It's basically the plots of the earlier Mummy movies with Pirates and the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. (I'm serious: the Evil Emperor gets Orc music. That's how you know he's Evil.)
Basic plot: that great kid Alex is all grown up and boring-ized and is excavating the Emperor's tomb in China and sorta-kinda has a girlfriend who tries to kill him but he doesn't mind, and his parents turn up in China and go all heavy-parent and insult her. But that's okay, because the evil (we aren't sure why, but they say so) Emperor is about to be wakened from the dead, and Alex's girlfriend's mission in life is to keep him from becoming immortal by preventing him from drinking at the Pool of Something-Or-Other in Shangri-La. The O'Connell parents forget they don't like her since there's a much more obvious threat. But the O'Connell parents have mysteriously become boring and suspicious since the last movie, and don't believe the girlfriend when she says the only way to kill the Emperor is by stabbing him through the heart with the special dagger her mother cursed. Naturally, The Worst occurs.
So the yetis hop in and out of the movie in an anime sort of way, and Evie's brother Jonathan is as greedy as ever, and the girlfriend's mother calls up an army of the dead to combat the Emperor's undead terra-cotta army. Why do otherwise rational beings want conquest-happy undead Emperors running round loose? Why do people persist in bringing back the souls of people who died badly and are likely to be very angry? And why, why, why do movies with unimpressive plots have to have dialogue as bad as all that?
Anyway, they eventually get it sorted out, kind of, and all the undead armies conveniently dissolve into dust, and Jonathan determines he's really going somewhere without mummies now. So he picks Peru. The last line of the movie was, "Then mummies were found in Peru..."
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Who sayes that fictions onely and false hair
Become a verse? Is there in truth no beautie?
Is all good structure in a winding stiar?
May no lines passe, except they do their dutie
Not to a true, but painted chair?
Is it no verse, except enchanted groves
And sudden arbours shadow course-spunne lines?
Must purling streams refresh a lover's loves?
Must all be vail'd, while he that reads divines,
Catching the sense at two removes?
Shepherds are honest people; let them sing:
Riddle who list for me, and pull for Prime:
I envie no man's nightingale or spring;
Nor let them punish me with loss of rime
Who plainly say, My God, My King.
Monday, August 11, 2008
It's a great apartment, and very us-ish. What do you do? :-)
Jonathan and I just got back from a week at his parents' while he took all-day-every-day law prep classes at U-Penn. The classes were great; but while he was doing that, his mom and I came back to Richmond for an overnight, to meet my mom and sister, who were driving out to visit.
So the four of us had some great girl time in the apartment. I think my favorite comment was from his mother: "Of course! Everybody keeps swords in their umbrella stand!"
Friday, August 08, 2008
The groom, looking at his Lisa.
The groomsmen. The rehearsal was exceeding- ly warm, but the Lord answered prayers and kept it from raining during the ceremony.
Lisa was beautiful.
Things grew breezy and overcast for the reception. The cake was tall and white and gardeney...
The happy event was July 20, 2008.
Friday, August 01, 2008
A post about Scotland.
Jonathan and I were married June 28th, and for our wedding trip went to Scotland. :-) This was partly because we're both partly Scottish, partly to see a castle or two of Macbeth's, and partly because we'd never been and wanted to. We liked Scotland, for the record.
We stayed in Edinburgh most of the time, but took three days in the middle to go up to Inverness. Edinburgh is very much a city; very international, lots of ethnic restaurants, and I'm sure I saw Cyrillic-character graffiti. But it's a lovely city.
We didn't rent a car, so we became well acquainted with the air, train, bus, and even taxi systems. Public transportation in Scotland is a beautiful thing, and the bus drivers are even helpful. "Did ye want to go to Cawdor village or the castle? The castle? Verra well, I'll set ye doon there." But when the buses fail you, you can walk. The cities are actually pedestrian-friendly. And there are lots of little gates with honeysuckle or fuschia dangling over, and random historical plaques in corners, so the walker is well rewarded.
Scottish food is most unjustly maligned, incidentally. We thought it was amazing--except for coffee, hamburgers, and Chinese food. They cannot make those to save their lives. But if you confine yourself to tea and toffee sticky pudding and interesting little soups and salads and breads, and chicken, and fish-and-chips, and risotto, and Italian food, and paninis, and pasties... you get the picture. They use real ingredients, I do believe, and the waitresses are extremely nice. And even the burger place behaved like a real restaurant. We also learned that you will weird out the keepers of pubs if you try to order lemonade with your dinner. Eating in Scotland is downright fun. :-) We fell in love with the proper Scottish breakfast, consisting of tea, juice, toast, eggs, bacon or sausage, fried mushrooms and tomatoes, and yogurt and cereal and black pudding if you liked. (I didn't.)
When we weren't hanging out at bed-and-breakfasts, we indulged our favorite pastime of castle-hunting. Cawdor came first, being just a ways outside Inverness. Do you remember that line of Scott's about the birds, the funny one that was very long and embarrassing? "No jutty frieze, buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird hath made his pendant bed and procreant cradle. Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed, the air is delicate." This is of interest because it's true. The air at Cawdor is sweet, sweeter than any I've known, sweet like the waters at the Utter East. Shakespeare must have known.
And as it happens, the air of Cawdor was one of its better parts. It's the Lady Cawdor's house and is quite modern inside: at least, it was redone in the seventies, which is unfortunate. That wallpaper... There are many hideous treasures inside which I suppose they couldn't bear to get rid of. I can't blame them; I'm terrible at getting rid of things, myself; but it was a shame to see the castle so...uncastley. It was, as Bunter put it, a period piece, my lady, but of an inferior period. Jonathan was sorely disappointed at the gatehouse's indefensibility.
The next day we bought a picnic and took the bus to Urquhart Castle. We arrived just as they were ending some sort of historical even, apparently involving jousting and costumes and (oddly) the last yowling electric-guitar strains of Queen. It felt like something out of "Knight's Tale," which would discombobulate anyone. But eventually the historical people all went away and left us to explore the castle properly.
Urquhart traces its history back to the 900s when St. Columba converted the chieftain Emchath there on his deathbed. At some point it got built as a proper castle, and later someone else added additional living quarters off to the side. Then Jacobites deserted it during their rebellion, and blew it up with gunpowder so the royalists couldn't get it. Or maybe I'm getting that backwards. But now it's this dramatic gray stone ruin jutting into Loch Ness, and we saw it on a perfect evening. It was cloudy--the tourists filtered away--the loch slapped coldly against the water-gate landing--the museum and shop closed--and we betook ourselves to a little stair, to eat our bread and cheese and strawberries and wait for the bus.
Jonathan decided he could probably hold the castle against any force of the size that would be likely to come and try to take it. The clouds drifted down the loch. Soon the far mountains were obscured...then the nearer hills and the village...and soon it was just us and the castle. And the rain. The bus was half an hour late. But we had an umbrella and a picnic, and there are worse places to sit and wait than at a ruined castle in Scotland with one's new-wedded husband.
The third castle we hunted was Stirling. For this, we took a train up from Edinburgh. It dropped us right at the town, and the town is the sort that grew up around the castle like in David Macauley's Castle. So up to the castle we went. It's another amazing building. I quite see why the Scots and English kept wanting it. It's built on top of a rocky hill that overlooks the country in all directions, with a gorgeous thick wall or double wall, and then the building inside. We saw them weaving replacement "Unicorn" tapestries for Her Ladyship's chamber, and the newly restored Great Hall with thrones very much like the celebrant's chairs we used for Macbeth, and muddled about in the chapel and the somethingth regimental museum (I still don't know why it was in Stirling Castle, but oh well) and garden named after somebody because his body was thrown there after he got murdered, and had tea in the castle cafe, and then we left to go see Bannockburn before it closed.
It looked much closer on the map, in my defense. Also, I think the nice lady gave us directions to Bannockburn Village instead of Bannockburn Battlefield. I didn't know there WAS a Bannockburn Village. But by the time we figured this out, it was late. We were footsore. We wanted our dinner. The battlefield was closed by then anyhow. So we stood under our umbrella because it was raining again, and waited for a bus, which came and took us to our train.
It was a fun honeymoon. God was good, and always did send us a bus or hold up the train or locate an eatery for us, or whatever was necessary. And, furthermore: we're happily married. :-)
Friday, July 25, 2008
See, Jonathan and I have been getting married, going to Scotland, packing me up, road-tripping to Virginia, going to Ben and Lisa's wedding, and moving into the apartment here in Richmond. The cubes arrived Tuesday, and today (Friday) we're finally getting to the Last Items therein. We left them to last because they were big and awkward and heavy. But today we were brave. We cleared a space in the study and got my gigantor bricks-and-boards shelf set up, rather the worse for wear.
That left The Couch.
This is The Couch I inherited from Aunt Frankie, which has been sitting in my family's living room for the past few years until I got my own place. It weighs about a ton, and it took Jonathan, my dad, and my sister to get the thing into the cube. We had dire doubts Jonathan and I would be able to get it out again; upper body strength not being one of my notable mad skills. But it had to go, and we'd have to do it, so into the cube it went.
And today there was no putting it off any longer. So we walked the couch clear from the cubes and onto the front porch steps, tipping it first this way, then that, caterpillaring it along two hunks of cardboard so it wouldn't rip all the upholstery off. But we couldn't get it inside. The trouble was, the stairs to our second floor are right at the front door, and we'd have to lift The Couch over the bottom rail to get it into the living room. I couldn't. I just couldn't. And Jonathan couldn't all by himself. And we don't know a soul in Richmond to call.
So there we were, couch half in, all our nice cool air absolutely pouring out, Jonathan reduced nearly to profanity, and us all set to give up and go around and try coming in up the back stairs and through the back door ("NOOOOO!!!!") when this big guy drives up. He's wearing the shirt from our property management company, and he asks how's it going. Jonathan admits it's "one of those days."
So he gives a hand, hoists The Couch right in, and we're done. I tell you, that was divine timing.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
I'm still here. Really. The best word for the time since I last posted would have to be "wedding-ey."
I've been rounding up helpers, buying sheet cakes, finding suitable shoes for tromping about during the honeymoon, measuring the church, watching Mom sew banners, requesting my friends to rent a car when they fly out, figuring out what to do for my hair and makeup, working on the program, and doing many other such essential tasks. So my time online has been somewhat erratic. I hope to resume regular posting...eventually!
In the meantime, I leave you with some relevant quotes.
"Hundreds of clerks sat at ivory desks all day, writing out invitations with gold ink on parchment. Hundreds of pages heated gold sealing wax to seal the envelopes, and hundreds of the King's messengers put spurs to their horses and rode away east and west and north and south to deliver them to the invited guests. The list of invitations was so long that it took the Lord High Chamberlain from before breakfast until after suppertime to read it, while the roll it made was so large that it took six men-at-arms to carry it."
"But in spite of all the preparations, and the ordering of a most magnificent trousseau, the Ordinary Princess thought that the winter passed slower than any winter had ever done before. ...When she was not looking out of the window, she was being fitted for new dresses, or sitting at a desk writing hundreds of 'thank you' letters for all the wedding presents that kept arriving at the palace."
"The Ordinary Princess wore a wedding dress with a train that was seventeen yards long and took twenty pages to carry it."
"In the royal kitchens two hundred and twenty cooks, four hundred scullions, as many servingmen, and five hundred kitchen maids worked like mad, baking cakes and pies and pastries. They stuffed swans and peacocks and boars' heads and wonderful sweets--marzipan trees hung with crystalized cherries, and castles and dragons and great ships of sugar candy."
"So Peregrine and his Queen drove away from the palace in a crystal coach, and everyone threw rice and rose petals and satin slippers and waved their hands and their handkerchiefs and cried good wishes."
When you are King
I shall be Queen!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
And when I graduated, something of the same thing happened. There was enough grace for as long as I was supposed to be there, but it wouldn't have been good to stay longer. As a nice little extra, I got an illustration. I had precisely enough coffee grounds to last me and Kay through graduation morning, and none left over.
This afternoon I was setting up my pot of pinon coffee for my last day of work tomorrow, and once again I had enough in the package and finished it off. The grace and the coffee are sufficient.
I'll buy more coffee in Virginia. :-)
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Alo, Salut, sunt eu, un haiduc,
Si te rog, iubirea mea, primeste fericirea.
Alo, alo, sunt eu Picasso,
Ti-am dat beep, si sunt voinic,
Dar sa stii nu-ti cer nimic.
Vrei sa pleci dar nu ma, nu ma iei,
Nu ma, nu ma iei, nu ma, nu ma, nu ma iei.
Chipul tau si dragostea din tei,
Mi-amintesc de ochii tai.
Te sun, sa-ti spun, ce simt acum,
Alo, iubirea mea, sunt eu, fericirea.
Alo, alo, sunt iarasi eu, Picasso,
Ti-am dat beep, si sunt voinic,
Dar sa stii nu-ti cer nimic.
"How shall we end the letter?"
"In hope. Love should always end in hope." A Knight's Tale
Small-talk questions seem to go in spurts. For about four, five months, everyone asked how wedding plans were coming. The current question everyone asks is whether I'm starting to get excited. Small-talk, know you, has been a learned skill for me, and I still struggle with the urge to be strictly honest rather than conventional.
The true answer is a resounding "kind of." This is not a reflection on Jonathan, or even cold feet on my part.
It's just, the wedding is still very much in the "hope" category, and not in the "here" category. My fiance is not in town; I haven't seen him since March; I'm not going to see him for another two weeks. Right now, all I see are goodbyes, partings, packings, and more organizing to do and decisions to make and people to mobilize. I don't like leaving my job, town, or people. I don't feel like dealing with music choices. I'm going to miss Mexican food something awful, not to mention mountains. A sweet patient even gave me a wedding present today--a patient. Do I want to leave? No, I don't want to leave.
But that's where the hope comes in. For I consider that the present trials are not worthy to be compared to the glory set before us. It's quite Scriptural, really: store your treasure and send it away in a plain van to collect it later. Give all you have, and receive something much better. Lose this life, and gain another.
And God has a way of sending what you need when you need it. Last Sunday, I talked to a guy I grew up with. We were never close, but he was like a cousin, always there. He said getting married was the greatest earthly happiness he'd ever known. This, from a guy who had never obviously been what you might call romantic.
I can start to be getting excited about "greatest earthly happiness." That gives me hope.
Monday, June 09, 2008
"You know to remember sine-cosine-tangent--sohcahtoa? I realized that "sohcahtoa" fits anywhere in a song that "Hallelujah" goes. So you could sing the Sohcahtoa Chorus." Amelia
Bye, bye, sandwiches
Think I'm gonna cry.
(Additional lyrics courtesy of Amelia and yours truly. They do not reflect reality--at least we hope not--we just thought they were funny because today's schedule says "Goodbye lunch.")
Thursday, June 05, 2008
It started about an hour and a half past schedule, when Daddy woke me up as he was leaving for work. This would be great, except I generally try to leave work at the same time as he does. Whoops! I dress quick like a bunny, like a flash of lightning, and try to get into my car Olwen. Only, the white car in the driveway isn't my car Olwen. It doesn't know me or answer my little button call. It's... what car is that? It's not the Intrepid Peabody. Oh! Right. It's my grandparents' car. Gotcha. So I figure Daddy must have taken Olwen to work today, which he's never done before, but oh well, and I start to go inside for keys to another car, when I find mine parked around the corner on the street. Very good. I now remember that late last night, after the wedding shower, I parked at the outside of the driveway and he must have had to move it in order to get Peabody out. Nice Daddy.
It's a lovely cool wet morning, very pleasant, and I get to work and make a beeline for the coffee pot. The good doctor asks, "Did you see the snow on the mountain this morning?"
Snow? On our mountain?
"Yes, it was snowing as I left for work this morning," he says. "Go outside and look! I've never seen it snow here in June before!"
By George. There was fresh snow on the ski hill--on June 5.
June 5, which is Dad's birthday. And I didn't think to wish him a happy birthday when he woke me up. So I emailed him and remedied that.
I finally got my coffee, and watched Susie work for about an hour, and then headed off to the MVD.
Ah, yes. The MVD. I went there yesterday too, because the day before that I'd gone to put my renewal sticker (good through May 2009) on Olwen's license plate and discovered the numbers didn't match. Yesterday I went to see what could be done about it, and knowing how MVDs work, I took a book. But unfortunately the only book I had in my car was Brothers Karamazov, which I felt bad about carrying in because it looked like a reflection on how long a wait I anticipated! But there wasn't anything to do, since it was all I had, so I read Ivan talking about the Grand Inquisitor while I waited. Anyway, after about half an hour, Andrea told me she couldn't do anything and directed me to the Santa Fe office, armed with a refund request sheet.
I wasn't sure why I was requesting a refund, and didn't know where the Santa Fe office even was, so I did some judicious Googling and called them. I found a real live person, Donna, who told me not to mess with refunds but just go back and ask them to change my number in the computer to match the plate I really have, and print me out a fresh sticker at no charge. Yay!
So this morning I went back. I'd provided myself with an Amelia book and read about her camel troubles. I also read the foreign license plates. There were two with Arabic script, so I puzzled them out. One read "Al-Iraq Baghdad" and had those cool Farsi numerals on it. :-) I got up to the counter and explained Donna's instructions, and the lady said, "What, Andrea didn't do that for you yesterday??" and zip-zip-zip, printed my new registration and sticker. Yay!
While I was out, I dropped by Ruby K's to pick up a cup of coffee and a to-go menu so the office can order takeout on Tuesday, because our supply representative drew us as Office of the Month and will bring us lunch; and then I stopped to get snacks. I went to Daylight for doughnuts first, but they were out, so I got scones from Coffee Booth instead.
Back at the ranch, I discovered that someone (young Joe) had brought a round of breakfast burritos from that haven of burritoey goodness, Chili Works. Food does that around here; it comes in bunches. Did I mention this office has really good eating?
AND Lisa-here-at-work talked her husband into letting her drive their new sportscar to work, so we went out and admired it. It's very blue and very fast. How fun!
So that was my morning, consisting of a birthday, a delinquent alarm, four breakfast places, the DMV, some coffee, several cars, and very little work. Kind of fun.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Saturday, May 31, 2008
"Criticism of the speed of the relationship or 'love' of Faramir and Eowyn. In my experience feelings and decisions ripen very quickly (as measured by mere 'clock-time', which is actually not justly applicable) in periods of great stress, and especially under the expectation of imminent death. And I do not think that persons of high estate and breeding need all the petty fencing and approaches in matters of 'love'. This tale does not deal with a period of 'Courtly Love' and its pretences; but with a culture more primitive (sc. less corrupt) and nobler."
I don't know if y'all have found this to be true also, but somehow all the ballyhoo about Narnia makes me wish to go and read about Middle-Earth, and when Tolkien was all the rage, I preferred to visit quietly with Lewis. It must be my homeschoolerish side coming out: if everyone else is doing it, there must be something the matter....
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
My next priority, which isn't on that list: Alexander McCall Smith, whom I hear is Scottish. What are y'all going to read?
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
[Caution: spoilers ahead.]
This Indiana Jones wasn't so much archaeological and political adventures, exactly, as a sort of action version of Napoleon Dynamite, with a Soviet Galadriel in an Egyptian bob chasing Our Hero and his messy personal life through a nuclear blast, some car and motorcycle chases, the Red Scare, and the Cold War, and ending up with aliens building the Mayan pyramids. It was fun, but not precisely a Plot on the caliber of, say, hunting the Holy Grail.
Cate Blanchett, Villainess Extraordinaire, amused me. It's my problem, I know, because I don't exactly think of her as Cate Blanchett so much as "Cate Blanchett Who Wasn't A Very Good Galadriel." So when she turns up as a commanding officer in the KGB--with the aforementioned dark Egyptian-style haircut and a hideous gray flightsuit and a sword and a pistol--it's just hard to take her seriously. But she enjoyed herself, and we had some great swordfights on two moving vehicles. Also she came to a bad end, as well she ought, so justice (or something) was served.
The absolute best part of the movie had to be the return of Marion Ravenwood, whom Indiana (as you may remember) loved in Raiders of the Lost Ark. They got Karen Allen to play her again.* The actress had aged right along with Harrison Ford, and it was so--nice. It added a touch of "aww!" to their love affair or whatever it was, that it was them, and not some chit of a girl. Marion didn't look like her old self at all until she smiled, but then there was no mistaking. She also kept her sense of adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I didn't really care for the giant red ants; the scorpions; the creepy natives who hang out in cemeteries for no apparent reason and try to kill Our Hero; the extravagant collection of partially-decayed corpses; the miles of ill-lit tunnels out of which something was sure to jump; the aliens (aliens?? I ask you!); the psychic nonsense that was foggier than midichlorians; or the unimaginative Hollywood-politics attempt to make Americans look dumb by having the CIA suspect Indy as a communist. That plot thread was never resolved, by the way.
I kind of liked the wedding, the Mayan glyphs, the chases, the character interaction, the romance, Indy's take on school, the duck's wild ride to the river, the swordfights, the architecture, the snake moment, and the way that every question can be solved by a sufficiently educated and brave individual and his friends. It was highly entertaining.
But about the plot. There's a lot to be said for pacing yourself and including transitions. I'm all about keeping the action going, but when there's so much action you aren't sure what continent you're on--well, it might have been better to have calmed down a bit. And I think cliffhangers lose their potency when they're bunged together anyhow like socks in a suitcase. Also the plot was more an excuse to multiply really nasty skeletons, large amounts of water, nifty stone machines, and gunfire, than a story to be told. But action was the point, really.
Best quote: "Das vedanya, doktor Jones!" --Villainness, about to knock Indy off a cliff.
Worst quote: "I have a bad feeling about this." --Indy, having a Han Solo moment.
The Indiana Jones series demonstrates the breakdown of your standard humanist worldview rather well, I think. Lucas really, really wants to take us beyond the ordinary. In the first three movies, he did it by going after religious artifacts. This is all well and good if religion is true. BUT. For the Grail to mean anything, there has to be Jesus: after all, it's the cup He used at the Last Supper and the cup that collected His blood at the cross. No Jesus; no Grail. So Lucas, since he doesn't really want to deal with the true God, made an excursion to Asian deities in Temple of Doom. But even then, for the gods to work as a plot device, there have got to be gods: or at least the possibility of them.
Humanism doesn't like gods. Humanism likes this world, and for every force to be understandable and conquerable by man (especially Our Hero). So Lucas is scrabbling around, and having exiled the gods from this world, he looks to space aliens and mystic psychic forces.
Rather sad, really. But then, so is the SETI project. "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind..."
So there you have it. It was fun with some unpleasant bits, and overall Caspian was a much better movie. But you might enjoy Indy. I did.
*I just discovered on IMDB that Karen Allen shares my birthday: October 5. Cool!!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I thought the movie itself was mixed. I liked it, but it's got nothing like the worldview or depth or charm of the book. But I'll buy it when it comes out, because it's still one of the best fantasy movies I've seen.
It didn't understand Aslan, heroism, manliness, womanliness, kingship, chivalry, romance, solemnity, or what dryads and river-gods are doing in Narnia at all. (Which is awkward, seeing as those are major themes.) The less said about Susan the better, actually.
But Adamson is a skilled movie-maker. It was funny. Reepicheep had a great introduction: he got to single-paw-edly take out an entire Telmarine troop, and his voice was perfect, even though I had serious doubts about casting Izzard. And the CG! Reepicheep ran like a mouse! I've never seen a movie mouse that ran like a live one. My own mousies Bing and Merry would run like that if they had the great gift of being Talking Mice.
Aslan was better than in Wardrobe. The voice of Obi-Wan coming from Aslan still disturbs me, but he didn't have many lines, so that was all to the good really. And you could sort of see why Lucy loved him.
The way they played the Hag and Wer-Wolf was suitably creepy. But I never did get a proper look at the Wer-Wolf. He was always in deep shadow, and I wonder if they skimped on his costume. And then having Edmund be the one to demolish the White Witch was so appropriate, though they felt the need to let Caspian in his angst go much further toward black magic than in the book.
But the very best parts of the movie were the woods and the Telmarines. I would go to that forest. Immediately. Lucy's dream-scene, with the forest in golden light, was heartbreakingly lovely. And when you realized it was only a dream, it was more heartbreaking still: because in the book it was real.
They played the Telmarines as the descendants of Italian-Spanish brigands, and it so worked. The architecture, costumes, props, actors, accents, even the gardens, everything suited the Telmarines, both in beauty and cruelty. Doctor Cornelius' library felt like something out of an Italian Renaissance/New World castle, which was gorgeous--like I would expect from the Santa Fe Palace of the Governors, if it had been stone instead of adobe. The lordly conniving worked very well in that setting; but then, I think Adamson understands Telmarine scheming better than Narnian loyalty.
The jarring moment of getting a Spanish Caspian is when the young whatsit discovered Miraz killed his father. He went straight into Inigo Montoya mode. "You killed my father. Prepare to die!" Rebecca and I just rolled our eyes.
I was pleasantly surprised by--of all things--Queen Prunaprismia, Miraz's wife. She had a character, and a complex one at that, without being angsty. On the one hand, when she woke up to find her husband being menaced with a sword, she pulls out a bow and arrow. This strikes me as a perfectly reasonable and appropriate response, not Fiona-Xena-Warrior-Princess-Delusional at all (::cough, cough:: SUSAN). On the other hand, when she discovers said husband is a murderer and regicide to boot, she doesn't actually like it very much. She was great.
So there you have it. I liked it; it's not the best possible screen adaptation of Prince Caspian. Personally, I'm praying that in another generation or so, we'll get a director who can show the parts of the book that I loved: the kinds of goodness that moderns don't understand at all.
Monday, May 19, 2008
"Is there an army bug? Or a Marines bug?" Dad
"Nope, just a navy bug." Mom
"It's a navy of one." Me
"Maybe we should make navy bugs worth just one point." Dad
"No, I don't like that idea." Me
::returning to a previous topic:: "And we can call you Philly." Dad
"Whatever for?" Me
"You were born in the Philippines." Dad
"Oh, I thought you meant Philadelphia--" Me
"Yeah, me too, and she's only been there once." Mom
"No, no. But you know, that's where Bug-less MacArthur was. He never got any bug points." Dad
"But he always keeps trying. He shall return!" Me
For the horribly confused, we play the bug game all the time (just ask Megan K), and have an elaborate but straightforward scoring system. Your basic old VW bug is worth one point. New bugs are worth two points. Accessories add an additional point each, including redness, convertibility, a mask, or significant decoration such as ears and a tail. It's a beautiful thing. :-)
Thursday, May 15, 2008
To wake and see a drizzly dawn
Then splash to work through puddles light
And know the land will put green on!
I love living in the desert: when it rains all day, people get really, really happy. :-)
We drank tea all morning instead of the usual coffee, and talked about England. Over lunch I ventured forth with a teal umbrella and coral raincoat for chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon rolls. I was actually thinking fond thoughts about crumpets and buttered toast, like in The Great Mouse Detective, but who will turn down her nose at a good fresh cinnamon roll? I didn't think so.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Right. Today I have a charming outfit: a green knit-and-eyelet cami, of a the latest sixties-ish full cut; black high-heeled Mary Janes; khakis; and a loose black short-sleeved swing cardigan. That's a lot of solids, so I figured the outfit could do with sparkly green earrings and a chunky bronze bracelet to liven things up. All the teenager stores were selling these bracelets last summer when exotica was in, so I stocked up.
Amelia noted the bracelet this morning.
"Thank you! I thought this outfit could do with a nice pagan bracelet."
"It's not so much pagan as Celtic looking--especially with your ring and green shirt." She was referring to my Celtic engagement ring, which is very pretty and if you haven't seen it, I should be delighted to show it off next time I see you. :-)
"Ooh, cool! So it does!"
"Did you get it anywhere interesting?"
"Mm, not really. I think it came from a teenager store at the mall."
"You could pretend it came from the Philippines."
"Ooh, yes, from a street vendor." I like getting jewelry from street vendors in interesting places; not that I have, much.
"No, how dull. You must have gotten it from a political person."
"Probably so. I must have banged him on the head and absconded with it. Do political persons in the Philippines wear much jewelry?"
"Probably not. I expect the political person gave it to you to soothe your screaming. You were very loud and only gold would satisfy you!"
"That's true. I didn't do so much banging as screaming when I was in in the Philippines. I hear I did a lot of screaming. I was very small."
"Or maybe you got it from a tribal person," she suggested.
"Hmm. There are a lot of Muslim tribal people in the Philippines. Maybe it came from one of them--from a Muslim person who hopefully don't know I was the daughter of missionaries! If I was just an ordinary unbeliever they might let me get away with it, but if they knew we were missionaries it'd be all over."
"No, I don't like that theory. I'm sure it came from head-hunters."
"Yes, are there head-hunters in the Philippines?"
"If there aren't, there must have used to have been!"
And there you have it, folks. I got my bracelet from historical tribal head-hunters in the Philippines, when I was very small. :-)
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more.
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people."
From Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis:
'loquar cum Professore Dumbledore si forte lex illa primanorum flecti possit. Pro deum fidem! turma meliore nobis obus est quam proximo anno.'
I think that's Snape talking, but it's a little hard to tell. Since I did it untaggedly, I hereby tag anyone who feels like it. Please comment and let me know.
Monday, May 12, 2008
However, ::deep sigh:: my computer Chrysophylax (the silver-loving Dragon of Turion) has been exhibiting signs of bewitchment. I tried to wake him up Sunday morning to do Sunday school, and he went into one of those endless loops. Daddy was able to joggle him into Safe Prompt Mode or some such, so I could do my word processing, but the network was completely off and Chrysophylax refused to acknowledge such mundane allies as CD drives or printers.
He did, however, work grudgingly with jump drives, so we were able to do a spot of memory-sharing and I made it to church all right.
I left him up all night, because I wasn't at all sure he'd ever awake again if I let him sleep, which perhaps explains his dragonish behavior today. Daddy got him into Last Good Configuration Mode, which was...not very good, actually. He's been temperamental. He burned one good CD backup and then started snarling error messages. Further, he won't let the kitchen computer burn backups of his data. You'd think I was trying to snitch his hoard or something.
I guess I am, come to think of it.
But it's my hoard, and he's supposed to be caretaker. Stewards are supposed to give their trust back to its owner...
I hope to coax him next with a really big jump drive.
I was fussing about how similar wedding-planning and directressing are. The entertaining thing is, I actually found this quote encouraging. :-)
Saturday, May 10, 2008
"But she didn't get to enjoy it. Just as she'd discovered it and sniffed it thoroughly and was just settling in, a harududu came roaring along!"
Lilly looked heartbroken, remembering this sad event.
I asked, "But what's a harududu?"
"It's a--machine. Like cars. This one was a roto-tiller. Haven't you read Watership Down?"
"Oh. No, I haven't." Amelia and I had discussed last week about how I hadn't read Watership Down. It's a really good book, but dense, and if I was expecting something like Redwall, that would explain why I hadn't been able to get through it.
"So Lilly never got her catnip because of the harududu."
Lilly went up to the door and begged to be let out. "Please? Out?"
Dad put in at this point, "It was a ro-TO-till-er."
"The harududu was a ro-TO-till-er. That's right," Mom said.
And I added, "That's right. It doesn't drink alcohol. Only rotos." Because, you know, the original tee-totallers didn't drink alcohol--only tea. That's the story I've heard, anyway.
Mom let the cat out. She immediately sat outside the glass door and looked in. She didn't want back in; she just wanted to watch. She does this; but it's possible I caught her looking nervously over her shoulder at the harududu. It was curled up on a corner of the patio, mumbling in its sleep. "Really hard ground...earth for breakfast... with just a hint of catnip..."
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Well, yes, but no.
I think that song (besides being self-aware and insipid) is a good illustration of a church fad at the moment, namely that you can't know God. I think it comes from a couple sources. Eastern Orthodoxy has a good solid handle on mystery, which is closely related to not knowing and being okay with it. But then there's the Emergent emphasis on not knowing, which draws heavily on Postmodern wafflings whether knowing and communication are even possible. (That's true for you. I can't tell you who God is!)
God wants to be known, actually. He set up a universe where it was possible. We can't know Him fully, but we can know Him truly. We can also talk about Him truly. What did God say about Job's "comforters"? "You have not spoken of me rightly as my servant Job has." Here God assumes that it's both possible and important to speak of Him rightly.
I love Postmodernism because it asks the right questions, but then I think you've got to let Christianity answer them. :-D
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
So I suppose, given her heritage as a Muggle among dangerous folk, it was only a matter of time before the dear girl ran afoul of someone or other. It happened tonight while Daddy and I were having a dinner date between work and the Awana awards ceremony.
I parked Olwen back behind El Parasol (the haven of taco goodness), and when I came back to her, all the little display needles went nuts and then died. Whoops.
Personally, my theory is that an evil magician came along and cursed her battery. Daddy did something mysterious to her innards with a red ice scraper and was able to make her regain consciousness in brief gasps, but we think the whole battery ought to be switched out. ("Bring me her heart in this jeweled box.") She spends tonight alone. Perhaps tomorrow we can awaken her.