February 27, 2010

Renovations

Helloooo my internet darlings! It's been too long! I have pined without your presence! Suffered! Died just a little on the inside!

Well. Now I'm back! Triumphant! The conquering hero returns! It's been busybusybusy over here, hence the slight internet absence, but while I was away from the mother ship I did some thinking about this blog I've got here.

Since I entered the blogosphere, I've had a slight aversion to scheduled blog events. You know, the Mundane Monday, Widdershins Wednesday, Fractal Friday, etc. etc. However, I'm thinking more and more that having some sort of set schedule might make sense. Knowing ahead of time that on Mondays I will be unexceptionally mundane would drastically cut down on the time I spend staring blankly at the computer screen, thinking, Maybe I can write about the blinking cursor on the screen, and its connection to the transience of life. Yeah.

So without further ado I am opening the discussion up to my lovely followers (and anyone else who'd like to pitch in). I'm thinking about moving towards a more set blog schedule. The question is, what should be my set? There are many many options, including:
  • Books
  • Movies / TV
  • Current events
  • Mystery bag
  • Jobs
  • Dreams
  • Writing
Be assured that if/when these categories are unveiled, they will have suitably witty names. But put in a vote if you want, and feel free to suggest anything you think I'm missing.

February 18, 2010

Contests, capers, 'corns, captivation

I suppose this deserves a mash title, but I like my alliteration better at the moment. 

1. Contests. There is a contest going on to win signed copies of the Wake trilogy at the delightfully illustrated blog, Ramblings of a Wannabee Scribe - go here to enter, if it piques your interest.

2. Capers. I've been a bit down on real news recently, so I thought the time had come to share a few tidbits of "this is what you get when you go to college where I go to college" news. I helped out with the sign-ups for the intramural sports (mostly soccer) a few weeks ago. Let me tell you - competition to get into the (limited) leagues is fierce. The sign-ups started at 7:00 in the morning (I was there, working, at 6:00); I saw people camping out starting at 3:30 the previous afternoon. Talk about your hardcore soccer players. Semi-related to that: I got to watch the sun rise. It was kind of nice. Also, I saw a few people riding their bicycles around with various accoutrement: one guy was riding in the rain with an umbrella, the other with fifteen pizza boxes strapped to the rack in the back. Other than that, college around here remains college.

3. 'corns. My cheating way of saying unicorns, just because I will keep to the alliteration, at all costs. I went to a reading by Brenda Hillman, as part of the Holloway Series in Poetry. My favorite favorite favorite lines were these, the last from a poem entitled "String Theory Sutra":

"The unicorn puts its head                     on your lap; from there it
sees the blurry edge. How am
I so unreal & yet my                      thread is real it asks sleepily~~"

Darling. Adorable. Squee. You can imagine the unicorn, so like an innocent puppy. Since this is a way I had never previously imagined unicorns, it appealed to me. Besides, it's a unicorn. Come on.

4. Captivation. New favorite TV show: Lie to me*. It's basically about this genius guy (Dr. Cal Lightman) who's an expert at interpreting body language and microexpressions, and he solves mysteries and ferrets out the truth. What's not to love about that? This show is kind of in the same vein as Bones (genius people use advanced techniques to discover truth). Both of these shows, incidentally, make me want to run around and get doctorates in completely irrelevant areas (psychology and forensic anthropology, respectively).

Lastly, there was this moment today when a girl asked about one of Henry VIII's wives (for a crossword puzzle), and I listed all six of them, in order, from memory. Yes, that was my kick-ass moment of the day. Depressing? I prefer to think of it as finally putting my random knowledge to good use.

February 16, 2010

Anne Carson

Not much to say but that I feel I haven't appreciated Anne Carson nearly as much as I should have.

There is an ineffable quality about her poetry that is at once large and small, that feels not like poetry and like poetry at the same time.

I was not thrilled by Autobiography of Red. But I was enchanted by The Glass Essay, and now I am deep into The Beauty of the Husband. Second reading to come. Perhaps a third.

February 14, 2010

1000 Words A Day: Project Voldemort #7

Wordle: Project Voldemort #7

Today's top three: day, voice, and time/hair/tower/island.

I only remembered today that there was supposed to be a bit about hair. In fact, there was supposed to be more than a bit about hair. Author fail award, right here.

Just in time for V-Day

We can all talk about how commercialized and ridiculous Valentine's Day is. Every girl needs pillows, hearts held by teddy bears, roses, and one item from every store displaying something red, pink, lacy, or heart-shaped, not to mention a diamond. Make that multiple diamonds. How about an engagement ring, while you're at it?

Leaving aside the ridiculousness of being proposed to on Valentine's Day, let's just assume that I've typed and you've read about the travesty of this horrible, horrible, lace-overdosed day so that we can move on to more interesting things on this perfectly unremarkable Sunday. Like trashing The Bachelor.

I'm assuming that most of you know or have heard of The Bachelor, which means that I don't need to take much time to explain why it's the perfect day to beat it down, cut off its head, and bury it in unconsecrated ground with two streams of blessed water meeting directly above its unfortunate grave. For those of you who haven't, I'll just say that The Bachelor (and its spin-off, The Bachelorette) is the epitome of love commercialized and ridiculified. One man, twenty-five beautiful women. And approximately nine weeks to weed them down to his "one true love," at which point he will propose and everyone will be happy. Lovey-dovey. Never-break-up-y.

I'm not knocking the love at first sight thing. I'm well aware that it's possible to meet and marry in less time than nine weeks, and go on to be ridiculously happy and married forever. But try doing that when competing with twenty-four other women while being filmed. The entire time. (Almost.)

In the entire history of the show (both shows, actually) there has only been one marriage. The producers of The Bachelor are quite proud of it - they like to parade the happy couple around and say, "See? See? True love really is possible. And we make it."

There are so many things wrong with The Bachelor that it would take quite a while to list them all, but I'll try to keep it short and sweet here.

1. People are getting paid to be on this show, thus providing a monetary incentive to stay on it. Need I say more?

2. The entire process is so unrealistic it's near impossible to imagine how something organic and real can grow from it. I mean - where else in your life (seriously) are you going to find yourself competing against twenty-four men/women for the "love of your life," who probably isn't that swell anyway? Worth the effort? Without the money (see item 1), I really think not.

3. I don't know about you, but to me, love is a little bit like the moss that grows under a stone; it needs just a little bit of privacy to flourish. Does anyone really expect to fall in love (or even to really act natural) in front of dozens of rolling cameras? (This is also why I don't want to get [that] famous. Such a relationship death-kiss.)

4. After a while, all these declarations of love start sounding ridiculous. In any given episode one can expect to hear these exact phrases multiple times: "He's so perfect!", "We have the most incredibly connection!", "I don't know what to do - I'm falling for all these women!", "He's everything I ever wanted in a man"... and more. And more. And more. Some fake tears, some heavy breathing. And more.

In short, my friends, The Bachelor is fake.

And yet...there's just something about it (something akin to a car wreck) that's strangely mesmerizing. Which is why I know that while Jake used to (seem to) be something of a good guy, the fact that he's head over heels for Vienna is a clear indicator that he has stupendously bad judgment.

Seriously, Jake. Vienna?

February 11, 2010

Things I should have learned years ago

Perhaps the most important thing I should have learned years ago is that when the hunger strikes, one must answer!

Some people are able to go long periods of time without food. Occasionally, I find myself among those people, working without relief for whole days on end with nothing more than a stale crust of bread and brackish water. By choice, of course...

Today, however, was not one of those days. Having adequately fed myself the midday meal, I found myself too distracted by my political science reading to realize that I was slowly contracting a headache. Why? Not from the dizzying realms of Madisonian theory, no. Indeed, my pre-migraine sufferings were the result of insufficient nourishment!

I've always been like this. When I go too long without food, I first get a headache. Then I get cranky. When I was younger, I had a tendency to burst into tears for no apparent reason (the underlying being, of course, that I needed food). These days, it's rare that hunger actually drives me to tears. I've gotten better at being self aware and proactive, as (I assume) most people are when it comes to their stomachs. But today is special, apparently.

Today is also the day I discover, upon opening the cupboards, cabinets, and refrigerator, that there is no food left in the house. Now it is my painful choice between a long walk in the cold to the nearest grocery store, or scrounging up what I can from the earthquake rations and stale cracker dust grafted to the bottom of the near-empty boxes of wheat thins. Wish me luck.

February 6, 2010

Julie Carr rocks it like no other

Went to this poetry reading last night. Impressions: interested. Studio One, to begin with, is in a slightly sketchy part of Oakland - but the studio itself is new and lovely. It was odd, but at the time I was mostly relieved that I wouldn't be walking into a ramshackle house on a dark street.

The first two people were not bad. Linda Norton (a very shy woman, though lovely when you get to know her, I'm sure) read very quietly. The poetry itself was engaging, but went on too long. Eventually I was just waiting for it to end.

Then there was a presentation of Justin Kohmetscher's videos. Mr. Kohmetscher himself was not present, as he currently lives with his parents in Nebraska. Snapshot of the eight-and-some minute video: a single foot (the left) walks down a sidewalk while a voice calls out "Left, Right, Left, Right..." It was the type of stuff that art majors and film advisers might praise as: "Evocative! Bold! Nuanced!" I kind of felt... bored. Clearly I'm not meant to be in a graduate film studies program.

But Julie Carr! Julie Carr! Julie Carr! She was fantastically amazing. Amazingly fantastic. Her poetry is the poetry that works best when spoken, and damn - she can speak it. Some poets (and writers in general) are not that good at performing their own work. She can, and does. And it's amazing(ly fantastic). She is a performer. But that doesn't even begin to describe how great her poetry is by itself.

In this day and age, it's very difficult to capture rhyme and rhythm and make them work for you, and only for you. Once upon a time, everyone was into the strict pentameters and end-rhymes. Nowadays, if you try it (unless you are Julie Carr), everyone thinks you are stuffy. Or just an awful poet.

Julie Carr is not stuffy. (Or an awful poet.) Julie Carr's grasp of rhyme and rhythm and meter is amazing, and it is even more delicious when you hear it aloud. Julie Carr makes me want to be able to do that. This may turn into my single poetry goal of the semester, which will probably fail horribly. Figure out how to write like Julie Carr.

Julie Carr, marry me. I want to have your poet-children. They would have excellent grasps of the sound of poetry.

PS: If you couldn't tell, this is my strong endorsement for Julie Carr. If you ever have the chance to hear her read, DO IT.

February 5, 2010

And now we are Buffy

I know that you all wanted to hear about how much Julie Carr rocks. Patience, grasshoppers. That post is yet to come.

In the meantime, please amuse yourselves with the thought of me as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Having just met Angel (when he was simply being mysterious and awesome), I was trapped with him in a department store together as the tiles broke and a murderous plant-thing broke through into the light. A few minutes later, it had inexplicably turned into metal. Dangerous, animated metal, intent on doing harm.

Angel was not being helpful; he declined to tell me why I should be wearing a cross at all times (though, as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I should have known that already), and refused to kiss me, since he was still doing that mysterious/awesome thing.

I woke up before we had time to do battle with the metal plant monster, which is probably a good thing, because I could not think of a way to kill it. You can burn real plants, at least. Metal? Not so much.

I've always been an Angel fan. Spike... He was entertaining and hilarious, but he just wasn't Angel. On the other hand, Angel did kind of turn into a jerk after he went to LA - especially in that episode where he and Riley had a face-off. Maybe I'm just infatuated with the early-seasons Angel?

Gah, that dream makes me want to watch the whole series over again. Too bad I'm still a college student and therefore just don't have the time.

1000 Words A Day: Project Voldemort #6

Wordle: Project Voldemort #6

Today's top three: voice, song, and singer.

The above words are pretty typical, but have no fear. We'll be meeting our intrepid hero (the match to our intrepid heroine) in a matter of days, and then there will be much more interesting words. I expect 'idiot' will be thrown around quite a bit.

PS: Julie Carr is a genius, no lie. (More on this later.)

February 4, 2010

Books books books books books books books

I have hesitated to write about books - more specifically, I have hesitated to write about why and how much I love books. Why? Because most of you probably love books as well. And because I probably couldn't cover the extent of my book-loving heart. I just don't have the words.

However, it was recently called to my attention that a few people very near and dear to me no longer read for pleasure. They used to. They really did. But somewhere along the way, the torrential downpour of the written word slowed to a stream, and then a trickle. Now all they read is the high school required reading list, which, as many of you know, is perhaps the one thing guaranteed to drive anyone further away from the readerly path.

This is a travesty, my friends. That anyone could not fall in love with books, and even more so, that anyone who ever read for pleasure could leave such a decadent lifestyle, is tragic. And so I have found myself in the position of needing to defend my choice of downtime activities. Be warned: what follows may be slightly incoherent.

This is how much I love books. I could never mark them up - annotations in high school seemed to be a particularly tasteless form of graffiti. I once annotated To Kill a Mockingbird in my junior Honors English class, and was afterward forced to buy another copy. I couldn't look at the wreckage without becoming ill. I hold library cards from four public libraries, and I have memorized the card numbers of two of them. In my youth, it was not uncommon for me to pick up so many books to take home that I was forced to hide half my books behind dusty shelves, check out the rest of them, run home, and come back for more. As I lived two blocks from the library growing up, this was not overly difficult. I believe that the most books I ever checked out at one time was between forty and fifty. The most books I ever had out from a library at once is over sixty. The most books I have read in a day (each of them over two hundred pages) clocks in at eight. This from a summer spent doing little else other than sleeping and eating. Sometimes while reading. I am not happy unless I am reading at least one book "for pleasure" at all times.

While the quantification of book-love is easily illustrated, it is the why that shows itself to be more difficult. How can I describe it? I have always loved books, well written books, exciting books, books with a story to tell. A book is a better companion than a film, and generally more substantive. A book may go with you everywhere. A book may teach you things about the world, things you might never have discovered otherwise. A book may illuminate internal yearnings you never knew you had. To me, a good book is bliss. On a rainy day, there are few things better than a warm blanket, a comfortable chair, a mug of hot chocolate, and a fascinating story. That doesn't really cover why I love books, but I feel at it is at least a start.

Beyond reading for myself, there are few book-things that give me more pleasure than introducing people who don't read all that much (otherwise excellent people, though) to exceptionally excellent books. I love creating readers. It makes me feel as though I've contributed to their lives.

Closing thoughts now. I write this in hope that my dear friends will give reading another chance in their lives. And also, a request from me. As we've all discovered that I love books (and I think most of you love books too), I'd love to hear from you all about amazing books that you've read. I'm always eager to swap suggestions, and to benefit from the knowledge of those who've come before me.

Sadly, the realization remains that even if I read forever and all the time, I would never be able to read all of the amazing books that are out there. I'll just have to make do with what time I've been given.

(Ernest says that he is not barred by the same restrictions. Apparently, he can read at the speed of light. Which explains why I've never seen him with a book in his paws. And why I'm very jealous of him right now.)

You know it's just one of those days when...

...Britney Spears is the girl you wake up to in the morning. Oh, Britney. You have your place in the world, I'm sure. Once upon a time (ten years of it), that place was in my beat up CD player, wailing snazzy pop tune after snazzy pop tune. But that time is past, and your place is no longer in my beat up CD player. It is also certainly not in my head, belting out "Lucky" on repeat, with some music video accompaniment thrown in for kicks.

I also woke up from a dream which involved a cursed man-wolf intent on eating me, as well as an army intent on subjugating my class group to its Nazi-like will, and horrible water-ruined cupcakes. That may have had something to do with it.

Now it's off to class. Britney, babe, it's time to go home.

"She's so lucky... She's a star... But she cry cry cries in her lonely hearrrrtttt..."

Oh, god.

February 2, 2010

The best book I never knew existed

Which is... The King of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner.

I have to say that I was surprised by how good this book was. It's the final book in a trilogy; I picked up the first book, The Thief, because of the recommendation by one of my former coworkers. While The Thief wasn't amazing enough to deserve the best book award, it was good enough to keep me reading. And boy was I glad I did.

After The Thief this trilogy only got better, culminating in the deliciousness that is The King of Attolia. I will attempt not to spoil too much of the overarching plot. But the gist of it is: There is a new king of Attolia, who used to be the celebrated master thief of another kingdom. But now he's trying to fit into the role of king (which he's unused to) and his new court hates him because they think he's incompetent. Of course he's totally just screwing with them, since he is Master-Thief-Extremo.

I love the excellent court intrigue and Gen's overall awesomeness. This is great work, especially for fantasy-kingdom-court fiction, especially for younger-adult fiction. In short, I highly highly highly recommend it.