Not Really Worth the Delay

I finally finished Smiley's A Thousand Acres last night, and like the Pagels book I finished two nights ago, it... wasn't really worth it. King Lear just does not work as a novel. It... writhes against the novel form. It doesn't mesh, it loses all its power and none of its depression. So that was disappointing.

I am, however, cutting down on my list of "books I'm in the middle of," which is nice. If I can get it down to five (only four more to go) I will be GOLDEN. I don't think I'll ever get it down to fewer than three (one always should have a fiction, a non-fiction, and a trash) but between three and five seems a laudable goal.

Speaking of books, I was talking to my boss last night about various and sundry book crushes I've had over the course of my life, starting with Odysseus when I was about eight, all the way up through Lord Peter Wimsey, last month. I'm going to do a short piece of writing on the subject sometime in the next week or two, once I get my thoughts more organized. I'll post it here when I finish. It should help distract me from my three-month performance review, which will be on Friday. Gulp.


Now, Remember, Fighting Doesn't Solve Anything

I know that a ton of posts recently have been me linking to various and sundry articles in real news media. But hey, other people's lives are more interesting than mine; I am trying to keep up on Events In the World; and I try to only link to the interesting and/or funny stuff. Plus, you can always refrain from clicking the link if you don't feel like it.

But if you do feel like it, check out Slog's response to Ken Burns's new book/TV series/whatever. I think they're absolutely correct. Admittedly, I've never been all that impressed with Mr. Burns; we went to the same high school (though not at the same time), so I got to hear all about him, and I never really agreed with his attitudes about America and our accomplishments and whatnot. We're selling his book at The Store, but I haven't looked through it. And reading the quotation at the beginning of the article -- from the Metro Times, not Burns himself, so that's something -- , I shook my head in frustration. I knew I disagreed, but where to start? And then Slog took care of it for me.

(I could go on and on here about how depressing it is to live in a society where war is basically a necessity for government stability, but it would be dull and obvious and y'all have heard it before.)

Update: Apparently we mighty have misjudged Mr. Burns. Those who have reason to know (therefore, not me) have told me that the doc comes across as really anti-war, and presents a very bleak view of WWII. Which... that's really good. Because good views of war are depressing. Not that I want to go on record as saying we shouldn't have fought the German/Japanese/Italian invasion -- especially after my residence in Europe. But I wouldn't go so far as to say WWII was inevitable.

I still think Slog has a valid point in saying that WWII still has a much different stigma from the Iraq war, and a lot of people do see it as our finest hour, the uncomplicated war, etc. But if Burns's documentary is helping to change that, it gets all my support.


Quick Hit

I don't have much to say today -- it's my first real day off pajama style in awhile, which means what I mostly do is lay around reading and futzing with my computer. (I finished two books last night and only started one new one today, so that seems to be progress of a sort. I've also started really going back to some of the older ones, to finish once and for all.) But I finished answering all my emails and the next logical step is to update my blog.

Whiiiiich means it's probably a good day to link to this piece in the Guardian about Quakers, and what they believe. There are a lot of spiritual things I'm still figuring out, but Quakerism is about the closest I identify to an actual religion, and it's nice to see it get some positive press.


iPod, iPod, fixy fixy!

Yaaaaay! Thanks to my good friend Computer Rock Star, my iPod works again! It's gotten a bit of a makeover, which I also like.

Yay! Tunes!


God, you know how sometimes you're arguing with someone about some sort of philosophical issue, and one or the other of you takes it to its (il)logical extreme, just to demonstrate? Sort of a "Which is absurd, therefore QED," kind of argument, except that it doesn't actually work unless you're doing math?

Well, the Republicans seem to have gotten that confused with actual good strategy. No, seriously! Look! I mean, my God. Hillary vs. Gingritch? That would be like... like... like a mud-wrestling match, and just as fun to watch. If the stakes weren't so high (I mean, good God, what if he won?) I would completely agree with the article and want him to run for the sheer entertainment value. Especially against Hillary. Then we'd really see how far American politics have progressed into a mud-slinging match, and maybe the country would wise up a little. Not that I'm holding my breath.

Taking Charge of my Reading

No, you guys, for serious real, I am going to do that. I am going to make a rule that I have to finish a book before I get to start a new one. In fact that I have to finish two in order to start a new one. Yes. This is my plan. Because I don't know if you've noticed, but the "Right Now Reading" list over to the right there just keeps getting longer. And some stuff has been on it for like, six months. So the goal is to cut down, by finishing books rather than abandoning them.

I sold off my parents' books yesterday (God, do I love my job) and bought a new stack for something like 20% of what they're worth (no, seriously, I LOVE my JOB). But if I start those all haphazardly and crazy, I will never finish a book ever again, possibly for the rest of my life. So, no, I am going to be disciplined. Finish two non-fiction books before I start the next non-fiction. Finish two decent novels before I start the next decent novel. I'm generally in the middle of only one trashy detective story at a time, but I have to be careful of those too, or I am going to run out of all the good authors. And then where will I be? Reading sub-standard trashy novels, that's where!

Oh, right. In case you wanted something a little more interesting than my reading habits, this was on Slog the other day and it cracked me up something wicked.


Barrel Of Cute

Contrary to my expectations, Stardust really was as good as everyone was saying it was. Claire Danes is good, the little puppy they got to play her boyfriend was good, Robert de Niro is one of my personal heroes, and it was as funny and cute and touching as could be. Definitely kind of a dorm room movie; maybe some up and coming young generation of college students will worship it like my college friends and I worship The Princess Bride.

It is really a lot like Princess Bride, and there were some homages in there that just had to have been intended. The reviewers were all comparing it to that, and it has sort of the feel of Princess Bride's younger, higher-budget, slightly more shallow, but nevertheless cute sister. And if I had been seeing it with Jay, or Silent Bob, or Mr. Irish, or Little Joan and the Sweet D boys, it would have been a double feature and we would have screamed and giggled and filled in lines.

(As it was, I almost couldn't resist when Yvaine asks rhetorically "Let's see, murdered by pirates, having my heart cut out and eaten, or meeting Victoria. Which one sounds like more fun?" The correct answer is, of course, "Murdered by pirates is good!" but I didn't want to sound like a nutcase to the ever-sweet Ozma, with whom I went. But I did mention to her how much I would LOVE to see de Niro's Captain Shakespeare team up with Wallace Shawn's Vizzini. That would be SO COOL.)


Vague Tension and Dissatisfaction

(I will try to get through this post with no cute little onomatopoeia-words used to designate sighs, grumblings, or other annoying noises. This is a departure for me, I know, but a necessary one.)

It's one of those days -- well, one of those clumps of several days -- where I am tense for no reason. Everything in my life individually, is going well. Not fighting with anyone; work going well, having fun; math tutoring hovering between normal and good; dramaturging going well; etc. In the middle of some very satisfying mystery stories, and some very interesting non-fiction. Keeping up with friends, more or less.

And still, somehow, I am tense. But, but, but, I say to myself. Part of it, I think, stems from the fact that I am trying to make friends with my coworkers, so all my shyness and self-retiring-ness is kicking and screaming and crying. Other than that, though... I don't know. I mean, I just have to push on and quit bitching and moaning; it just sometimes feels nice to acknowledge it when I'm all flippy-dippy, instead of trying to pretend I'm not.

I'll sort it out in a day or two, I suppose.

As a quick note -- it's amazing what a difference eleven years makes, especially when ten of them were spent in formal education. I picked up The Hound of the Baskervilles again, which I haven't touched since I was eleven or twelve, and found that it really wasn't nearly as difficult to read as I remembered it being. In fact, Conan Doyle actually has a really straightforward and simple writing style, although I still think he does better work with his short stories than with his novels. Huh. Whodathunk?


I am So a Detective

Whee! For possibly the first time ever, I predicted who the murderer was a good hundred pages before the end of the book. Even better was that it followed this conversation with my mom:

Me: I have Dorothy Sayers all figured out.

My Mom: Oh really?

Me: Yeah. It's always the person that you've eliminated but didn't want to eliminate.

My Mom: So who did it in Busman's Honeymoon?

Me: Not sure yet; not enough clues. But I won't be surprised by the ending.

My Mom: You don't know a thing. You always have to meet the criminal during the course of the story, otherwise it's not fair. You don't know who did it.

Me: Fine.

That was about nine. I retired to my room, picked up the book, and within fifty pages was like, by my own rule, it has to be this guy. And I stuck to it for the last hundred or whatever pages of the book, and lo and behold, one-thirty in the morning and I am TOTALLY proven right, it WAS him. I didn't realize how he'd done it, but I absolutely knew who it was.

I confronted my mom with this knowledge as she left for work at eight and then retired back to bed until noon. Heh. It was pretty awesome. Staying up until all hours finishing books makes me feel like a little kid again. I haven't been able to do it much since around high school, when the crazy homework load took over. But it is wicked fun.

I would be a totally brilliant detective as soon as I figured out who my author was.


I'm Sure There's a Pun Here, But I Can't Think of It

A pun about how badly I want to direct Busman's Honeymoon, that is.

I'm loving the book -- it may make it onto my list of my favorite books ever; there is so much to have fun with, and Peter and Harriet are completely adorable -- but, with that said, it is also one of the most frustrating books ever. Because you can TELL it was based on a play, it's really obvious, and it's making me think play thoughts. Like how much I want to try to set up Peter's and Harriet's relationship as a counterpoint to the murder investigation (a parallel would be too obvious, but a counterpoint would be interesting) and their movements and floor patterns, and how you would set up the stage, and how you could dangle red herrings, and where you would have entrances and exits, and what parts are funny versus what parts are morbid, and, and...

I miss directing and I miss ADing. It's like an itch I can't scratch, and it's driving me so nuts. Sometimes I wonder about it; like it almost seems presumptuous of me to miss it, since I'm not a real director. But I can't help it, and I can't stop myself. I may ask the Divine Dictator if she knows of any teens around who want to work a scene for fun, just to keep me in practice. Maybe it will help once I start regularly going to Iphigenia rehearsals, but so far dramaturging is not really enough.


"Though she's as like this as a crab is to an apple..."

She meaning me, who is crabby today. I think I'm getting my sister's cold. I don't have any symptoms really, beyond fatigue and a strong desire to spend the day in bed with a mystery novel. I often have these symptoms, especially when I am short on sleep, but it is easier to blame my sister's cold than the fact that I was out babysitting till midnight last night.

Also, I kind of can't believe I live here. Everyone knows I'm a liberal, but really it's my academic mindedness that objects to people judging things they admit to not actually knowing anything about.


Aww. [Thunk] Owww.

In other words, Dorothy Sayers.

I was up until two am last night, reading, and believe me, you know you've got it bad when you finish the book you're on, you know who the criminal is, the romantic tensions have all been resolved.... and instead of going to sleep, you immediately hop out of bed and start on the sequel.

In my defense, Gaudy Night and Busman's Honeymoon are totally awesome and you should scurry off and read them yourself. It sometimes pains me to admit publicly that I agree with my mother, but there is no help for it. I lurrrve them. And Peter and Harriet are totally adorable.


A Modest Proposal

Right, not to be insensitive or anything (oh, who am I kidding?) but if the Russians want babies so badly, couldn't they import a few from China?

Seriously, guys. It's like, fifty miles to the south. Negotiate! Everyone can go home happy here.

What? I'm just saying. It's not like it's Australia and Norway having this problem. These two countries are right next to each other. (If you don't count that big stretch of Mongolia in between, anyway.) Then you don't have to do any state sponsored events except like, a day off for a big adoption parade, or something. (Although giving people a day off for sex cracks me up completely. Would it kill the mood to know you were doing it on the government's dollar?)

Anyway. That's my insensitive thought of the day.


A Short Skit

Customer: Do you have anything by W. S. Burroughs?

Me: Well, you need to look on this shelf, over here. No, it looks like we only have this.

Customer: That's by Augusten Burroughs. I want a book by William Burroughs.

Me: Okay, well, would you like me to check backstock?

Customer: That'd be great.

(five minutes later)

Me: Sorry, I didn't see anything. But if you follow me up to the counter, I can check and see if our other stores have anything in.

Customer: Your manager's up there, isn't she?

Me: Well, uh, yeah.

Customer: No thanks. I have a thing against managers at this store.

Me: Um, okay.

Customer: Did you know that Kubrik used this [gestures vaguely in air, attempting to convey the current music we have playing in the store] in 2001?

Me: Um, nope.

Customer: Yeah, totally. And he paid homage to Burroughs in another one of his films...

Me: Riiiiiight. Well, gotta get back to shelving. [eye-roll]