Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Rhys, Please 

Welsh absurdist Rhys Hughes is one of my favorite writers. Has been ever since I read his Nowhere Near Milkwood sometime in 2002 or early 2003. I had at that time never, I think, had more fun reading a book. So I proceeded to track down pretty much everything with his name on the cover. My collection now includes:

Worming the Harpy and other Bitter Pills
Rawhead & Bloody Bones and Elusive Plato
The Smell of Telescopes
Stories From A Lost Anthology
Nowhere Near Milkwood
Journeys Beyond Advice
The Percolated Stars
A New Universal History of Infamy (A sequel to Borges' Historia Universal de la Infamia)

and the chapbooks:

In Praise of Ridicule (a selection)
The Skeleton of Contention

All I'm missing is his debut chapbook Romance with Capsicum: And Other Piquant Assignations. But there haven't been any new Rhys books out in over a year, so I asked him what he's up to, what's going on with several titles I know he's been working on. So here's what we can expect from Rhys over the next few years:

His novel Engelbrecht Again! was supposed to come out in December, 2003, I think, but it was dropped by the publisher. A sequel to Maurice Richardson's 1950 classic The Exploits of Engelbrecht, Rhys' novel/collection is further adventures of the dwarf surrealist boxer. It is currently being considered by another publisher.

The Mermaid of Curitiba is also finished, but will never be published in English, though individual chapters of it will be. ("I have recently been working on a project called THE MERMAID VARIATIONS. This project consists of a book of eight linked short stories with the overall title of The Mermaid of Curitiba.

"The idea is that I'm going to try to get this book published in as many different languages as possible, but not in English. In this manner, the end result will be many books that are all variations of a theme, but the theme itself will not be visible. This isn't quite the same as a set of variations without a theme but it has a similar 'Calvino-esque' quality about it...")

"My one and only genuine horror collection, At the Molehills of Madness, is finished and ready to be submitted to a publisher.

"I'm currently working on Bone Idle in the Charnel House, a potential new Tartarus collection [making it a companion to Worming the Harpy, The Smell of Telescopes and Stories from a Lost Anthology]. But this may not be ready for a year or longer."

He's nearly finished The Clown of the New Eternities, a novel comprising three linked novellas, two of which have already been published.

He's working on My Cholesterol Socks. "I've started writing a new collection of linked stories that have absolutely nothing to do with fantasy. They are completely straight, realistic stories based on my own experiences. This is something I've wanted to do for a long time. I don't yet know how many stories will be in the collection, but the individual pieces are all going to be quite short. . .The stories I'm working on at the moment have titles like 'Betrayal', 'Explosion', 'The Homemade Hookah', 'Errata of our Quiet Desperation', 'Suicide: a Beginner's Guide' and the title story, 'Bless my Cholesterol Socks'..."

"About the sequel to Nowhere Near Milk Wood... I have recently completed a sequel to the 'Taller Stories' section called 'More Taller Stories' and I'm planning a final section called 'Last Taller Stories'... I've also finished a prequel to 'The Long Chin of the Law' called 'Flecks from the Isle of Chrome'... But more work needs to be done on this particular cycle." The sequel is called The Crystal Cosmos, and the third book in the trilogy will be Occam’s Beard ("presumably the razor eventually became rusty").

A Brand Old Universal Futurology of Infamy, a sequel to the New Universal. . . is still in its early stages.

Existing only in his head is Robert E. Howard (Conan creator) pastiche Taurus of Nemedia, and The Sky Saw, "the world's longest book, a saga following the fortunes of a family beginning in ancient Sumer, through all the Egyptian dynasties, up to the present day." He's not going to start the latter until he's 40.

What else? "I have lots of other projects planned. A strange Western called Fists of Fleece ["a Welsh cowboy novel, in which a Welsh sheep farmer is shanghaied to New York, but thinks he’s still in Wales."]... A novel about a war between submarine museums called Wuthering Depths... Another novel called Djinn Septic (this one is about a ship in the shape of a blood clot travelling to the Heart of Darkness to cause a heart attack so that Darkness will be vanquished -- I need to travel in Africa before starting work)...

"I am currently writing several stories and essays not intended for books: a Jerry Cornelius story set in Wales entitled 'The Rhondda Rendezvous'... A story about what happens when Conan and Sherlock Holmes exchange roles called 'The Baker Street Cimmerian' (Conan solves crimes with the aid of an axe)... A Jules Verne parody called 'Five Weeks in a Toy Balloon' (which makes reference to every Verne novel ever published)... and a few other bits and pieces!"

Hrmph. I can probably dig up more tidbits about some of these titles, but I have to do work!

I'm sure most of you already have heard about this, but in the event that you haven't, author and good guy Robert Sheckley is sick in a hospital in Kiev, and his family can't afford to keep up his continuing care and get him back to the states. There's a Paypal account set up for donations, if anyone can spare anything.

Paul Verhoeven's next movie, the long-delayed (for health reasons) WWII thriller Zwartboek (Black Book in English), is finally going to start shooting in August. The movie will star Carice van Houten as Rachel Steinn, a young German Jewish woman who joins the Dutch resistance while collaborating with the Nazis, or something like that. Let's hope it's as good as his Soldier of Orange. And let's hope someone gives him some money to make The Adventurous Life of Jesus the Exorcist.

And be sure to check out this interview with Terry Gilliam on The Brothers Grimm, Tideland, and the possibility of his getting back together with Johnny Depp to finish up their disastrous Don Quixote movie. . .

In other news, author Michael Ciso now has a blog, and my friend Liz has changed the url of hers.

And now I need to get back to work.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

John Crowley 

I'd like to take a couple minutes to talk about John Crowley, because he's one America's very finest writers (I've blogged about him before, more than once). He has a new novel coming out on June 14 called Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land. I first heard about this a little less than a year ago when, in this interview, he said this:
I’m just finishing a novel which could be described as being about Byron, but which is actually odder, or more impertinent, than that: it is a novel by Byron. I’ve always loved Byron -- I once wrote a play about Byron and Shelley, and a story told by Byron is in my new collection of stories called Novelties and Souvenirs. I love his letters and diaries -- more than his poetry. I’ve always wished he’d written a novel -- it would have been great. So now he has.
Needless to say, I was quite excited. Now, finally, it's almost in my hands. Here's the cover:

The reviews are beginning to come in, and they're very positive. Here's one from John Clute, and here's the PW *starred review*:
On a stormy night at Lord Byron's Swiss villa, Mary Shelley challenged her host, her husband and herself to write a ghost story. Mary's, of course, became Frankenstein. Byron supposedly soon gave up his—but, Crowley asks, what if he didn't? The result is this brilliant gothic novel of manners enclosed in two frames. In one, Byron's manuscript comes into the hands of Ada, his daughter by his estranged wife. Ada, in reality, became famous as a proto-cyberneticist, having collaborated on mathematician Charles Babbage's "difference engine." In Crowley's novel, Ada ciphers Byron's work into a kind of code in order to keep it from her mother. The second frame consists of the contemporary discovery of Ada's notes on Byron's story by Alexandra Novak, who's researching Ada for a Web site dedicated to the history of women in science. Alex is, a little too conveniently (this novel's one structural flaw), the estranged daughter of a Byron scholar and filmmaker; her interest in Ada dovetails with her father's interest in Byron, and she's fascinated by the notes and the code both. By applying Byron's scintillating epistolary style to the novel he should have written, Crowley creates a pseudo-Byronic masterpiece. The plot follows Ali, the bastard son of Lord "Satan" Sane and an unfortunate minor wife of a minor Albanian "Bey." Sane finds and takes the boy, aged 12, back to Regency England. Ali's life is filled with gothic events, from the murder of his father (of which he is accused) to his escape from England with the help of a "zombi," the fortuitous and critical aid he gives the English army at the Battle of Salamanca and his love affair with a married woman. The myth of Byron's lost papers has a catalyzing effect on American literary genius, giving us James's Aspern Papers and now Crowley's best novel.
What has me intrigued here is that they say this is his best novel, as many consider that to be 1981's Little, Big (subtitled The Fairies' Parliament), which, being one of the very best novels of the past century, is obviously going to be very hard to top.

Speaking of which, there's a delightful by-subscription-only edition of Little, Big coming for which I'm saving up. Among other things, the "25th Anniversary Edition will feature superb reproductions of close to one hundred details from the drawings, etchings, engravings, and prints of Peter Milton, an artist whom John Crowley feels is ideally suited to Little, Big. With loving care, we will interweave Crowley's words with Milton's images to create a tapestry full of subtle and surprising resonances, a uniquely revealing concatenation of the work of two modern masters."

What else is on Crowley's plate at the moment? Well, coming very shortly is a very fine (if expensive) limited edition of his novella The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines, which is also available in a much cheaper format in the anthology Conjunctions 39: The New Wave Fabulists, which also contains fiction by Peter Straub, Gene Wolfe, Jonathan Carroll, Elizabeth Hand, China Miéville, Neil Gaiman, M. John Harrison and Kelly Link and more, and so is very, very worth your $10.50.

In addition, after far, far too long, it seems the final instalment of Crowley's Ægypt Tetralogy will finally be published at some point in the not-too-distant future. The first three (Ægypt, Love and Sleep, and Dæmonomania) are all out of print by now, and the first two nigh impossible to find, so I'm hoping they get re-released at some point as well. The fourth and final volume will be called Endless Things.

So, yes, it is very expensive being a bibliophile, but with writers out there like Crowley, it's worth it.

Yes, an annoying picture post. If you're on dial-up, I apologize. 

Last year, I made not a bad woman. This year, I let Steph make me up, and I turned out absolutely hideous:

Here's me at the Drag Ball with Steve:

Here's Janet, alias Ganit, with Kamarra, who's the Devil, and my roommate Craig, aka Bruce:

This is our H4H group in WV. It's big, so I'm just going to link to it. Standing, l-r, are Nanette, Sam, Matt, Gretchen, Me, Kirstin, Annie, Craig, Amanda, Lisle, Kait, Steph and Gaby. Kneeling, l-r, are Katherine, Courtney, Sam and Garrett. Nelson's not here, because he doesn't like to be photographed and ran off when the cameras came out:

Here's Katherine, Craig, Kirstin, Sam and Gaby, post mudsliding:

And here they are again. Not the position of Sam's arm, and the expression on her face and Craig's:

Steph poses while I pry out a nail:

Steph as she probably imagines herself, in a perpetual nimbus. Or is that I, by the power of my gaze, set women aflame?

Courtney, Kirstin, Kait and Katherine hard at work, as Frank tries to bludgeon them with a hammer:

No sign of Frank; I can only imagine what they did to him with those drills. . .

A rare picture with Nelson:

The Beths, Sam, Stacey, Annie and myself at the outhouse:

Eric, Beth, someone whose name I forget, Beth, Sam, Lisle, Stacey, Annie, Me and Tim in front:

The outhouse nears completion:

Me and Katherine:

And Katherine in Africa:

Saturday, May 21, 2005


So, here I am, a week from graduation . . . and I get this email from a member of the English dept (it's also addressed to the three other graduating creative writing majors):
as i mentioned before, the last responsibility you have for the english dept. at hartwick is to participate in a reading for creative writing types - after baccalaureate, at 7:15 pm to be precise (unless bacc. runs late, which means the reading's later). it's to be in eaton lounge. each of you may read for 10 minutes. come by my office (email first) to talk about what, if you'd like. the english dept. has enjoyed these occasions before, and so will your friends and parents.



and if you haven't given me the latest corrected (not re-written, version of your thesis, please do pronto.

First, this has not been mentioned to me before, either personally or via email. I already have other plans for that evening. Further, considering that by this time all finals are over and the underclassmen will be gone, I'm not quite sure for whom exactly we're supposed to be reading. Also, I don't know what this business is about the "corrected version of your thesis." I got my grade for my thesis a semester ago, and as far as I was concerned, that was the end of it. What is this telling me at the last minute they want a "corrected version" business? I'd be fine with this if someone had mentioned this last "responsibility" a month ago, but this last minute nonsense, complete with the "mentioned before" lie, has me a little ticked off. And frankly, unless they're planning on withdrawing my grade and not letting me graduate if I don't attend this reading and turn in another draft, I'm not planning on doing so.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Goodness! As usual, I forgot at the commons not to be surprised that the eggs retain a temperature of about seven million degrees. You're lucky if your fingertips don't melt or simply combust as you're trying to peel them. Very lucky if you can crack 'em just right so half the shell comes off at one pull, and you can dump the egg out of the other half.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

MP George Galloway v the US Senate:
I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies. . .
Also, there's a new Jonathan Carroll story online, "Home on the Rain," which I haven't yet had the opportunity to read. Another thing I haven't had the opportunity to read is a letter I got today from Kathryn, whom I haven't seen in more'n two years. I've decided not to read it until after I'm done my paper for tonight. Savor the anticipation, y'know. I did notice that it's postmarked a good couple weeks after the letter is dated. What that means: nothing.

The paper I'm writing is about, among other things, Pale Fire, and I'm seriously contemplating having 80% of the paper's substance occur in the footnotes, which will seem to have little to do with the parts of the paper's body they're referencing. The only question is whether I have the time to do that well enough to make it worth doing.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The good, the bad, and the WTF!? 

Well, there's good news for you who share my literary tastes but whose budget can't accomodate hardcovers. Jeff Ford's The Girl in the Glass (about which I've previously posted), due out in August, has been downgraded by the publisher from a hardcover to a paperback. According to Jeff, "They don't believe the book will sell well in hardcover because, as they put it, it is so different from my other books. This I have to agree with them on. It is very different. Different writing style, different type of story, not fantasy. . . . Beyond this, it is a very political book. . ." I'm a little disappointed because I prefer hardcovers, but considering that thanks to this change, the book will be cheaper and have a print run nearly three times as large as originally planned, which all makes it more accessible to the average buyer, I guess overall this is a good change. Anyway, here's the cover (note the Nabokovan lepidoptera. . .):

and here's the blurb:
The Great Depression has bound a nation in despair -- and only a privileged few have risen above it: the exorbitantly wealthy ... and the hucksters who feed upon them.

Diego, a seventeen-year-old illegal Mexican immigrant rescued from the depths of poverty, owes his salvation to Thomas Schell, spiritual medium and master grifter. At the knee of his loving -- and beloved -- surrogate father, Diego has learned the most honored tricks of the trade. Along with Schell's gruff and powerful partner, Antony Cleopatra, the three have sailed comfortably, so far, through hard times, scamming New York's grieving rich with elaborate, ingeniously staged séances. And with no lack of well-heeled true believers at their disposal, it appears the gravy train will chug along indefinitely -- until an impossible occurrence in a grand mansion on Long Island's elegant Gold Coast changes everything.

While "communing with spirits" in the opulent home of George Parks, Schell sees an image of a young girl in a pane of glass -- the missing daughter of one of Parks's millionaire neighbors -- silently entreating the con man to help. Though well aware that his otherworldly "powers" are a sham, Schell inexplicably offers his services, and those of his partners, to help find the lost child. He draws Diego and Antony into a tangled maze of deadly secrets, terrible experimentation, and dark hungers among the very wealthy and obscenely powerful. As each cardinal rule dividing the grift from the real is unceremoniously broken, Diego's education is advanced into areas he never considered before. And the mentor's sudden vulnerable humanity forces the student into the role of master to confront an abomination that will ultimately spawn the nightmare of the century.

At once a hypnotically compelling mystery, a rich and vivid circus of complex, eccentric, and unforgettable characters and events, and a stunningly evocative portrait of Depression-era New York, Jeffrey Ford's The Girl in the Glass is yet another masterly literary adventure from a writer of exemplary vision and skill.
Seeing as Jeff Ford is one of my very favorite contemporary writers, I'm definitely looking forward to this book.

I recently finished Pale Fire by Nabokov. Brilliant, brilliant book. After finishing it, I was immediately inclined to pick it up and read it through again. You laugh and cry your way through the damned thing, only to have Nabokov tear it all down in the end . . . or does he? I now officially worship at the altar of Nabokov.

What else has been going on? I graduate in less than two weeks, so I've been fairly busy. In addition to coursework, I'm trying to spend a lot of time with friends I'm probably not going to be seeing with anything approaching great regularity in the years to come. I went to Emily's senior recital today. Funny thing about Emily, the way she presents herself she looks like a much younger girl trying very hard to look like a girl Emily's age. Anyway, she did a stupendous job. Her rendition of Joni Mitchell's "The Circle Game" came as close as anything has in years to bringing tears to my eyes. So kudos to her. Here's a picture of Emily four years ago; she looks very different now:

This weekend is also "Spring Weekend" here on campus, and yesterday I participated in "Wick Wars", which means that I spent all day roasting in the sun with friends when I should have been doing work. It was fun. Then, last night, before going to bed, I watched Shaolin Soccer, which was an incredibly entertaining, very offbeat comedy. Then I went to bed, and the weirdness started.

I woke up at three thirty to find my desk light on. It had definitely not been on when I fell asleep. My door was locked, my windows closed, no one else in the room. I couldn't have reached the switch from my bed, and there was no indication I'd been sleepwalking. Plus I never use that light, so I couldn't have somehow joggled the switch turning it off in such a way that it could have toggled back on without manual support. Very curious indeed. Then, when I woke up for real at nine o'clock or so (I always sleep pretty well when I'm sunburned), I went into the bathroom. The window in there was smashed, and the floor was covered with broken glass, bloody footprints and pools of blood. Strange thing is, the window wasn't broken all the way to the bottom, nor was the breakage big enough that someone could have ingressed or egressed through it. Rather, it looked like someone outside had punched through it or something, and then later someone had come in through the door, shredded his feet on broken glass, proceeded to take a crap (judging from the pool of blood in front of the toilet), and then walked all over the bathroom before leaving. But there was little blood in the hallway. Very curious indeed (reprise).

Hrm. There's more to tell, but graduating is a higher priority than blogging, so back to work I get!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Just in case anyone's interesting, there's a short Aimee Bender story online: "Appleless"

I'm not much of a fan of short-short stories, but I am certainly looking forward to her new collection, Wilfull Creatures, in a few months.

Okay, my AmeriCorps interview is on Tuesday May 17 at 1:00 PM. Don't let me forget.

Also, I know it's short notice, but Gary Alan Wassner, author of The Twins, The Awakening and The Shards as well as the forthcoming The Revenge of the Elves and When Monsters Call Out The Names Of Men will be speaking tonight at 8:00 at Book Revue:
Book Revue is a family owned independent bookstore located on Long Island in the village of Huntington, New York. The store has expanded five times since it was founded in 1977 to its present size of 17,500 square feet and is now one of the largest independent bookstores in the country.

For more than twenty years we have worked to create a place where book lovers feel comfortable browsing, reading, and discussing books. We believe that we have succeeded in this while maintaining the unique character and personality that helps set us apart from other bookstores.
Also, I'd like to take a moment to hype E. E. Knight. Knight is a promising new author of action SFF novels. His books are fast, fun, full of gruesome critters and interesting characters, and generally just damned fine escapist entertainment, so if that's your thing, definitely check them out. He's got two books coming out in December: Valentine's Rising, the fourth book in his Vampire Earth sequence, and Dragon Champion, the first novel in his Age of Fire series. Here are rough scans of the covers:

Also, be sure to download the trailer for The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. This movie will be good.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

My parents were so cute this morning. We were discussing where we should go on vacation this year. The issue is complicated because mom's got a bad knee and can't walk much at the moment, so she's volunteered to stay home this year rather than frustrate everyone by not being able to do much. Alaska came up, as usual. When dad left the room, mom said I should encourage him to go to Alaska. She knows he wants to go there, that they've been thinking about going to Alaska since before they were married, that she's sure she'll have the opportunity to go again in the future, and given his lifestyle, he should get to go someplace he wants to go. Later, when she left the room, dad said that he didn't think we should go to Alaska, because he knows she really wants to go there and doesn't think we should go without her. It was sweet.

Of course, later in the morning was a scene of terrible vitriol between my sisters, during which I was powerless to do a damned thing other than stand there and feel like a piece of shit for not being able to do a damned thing. My train was delayed, too, I later found out because some poor bastard had thrown himself in front of it. So I nearly missed my next train. (This voyage wasn't all bad, though -- I got to help the lady sitting next to me get her bag onto the overhead rack, and later to help her with her crossword puzzle.) And the continued to come in. Apparently Robert Wynn is a cousin once removed of mine. Or was, rather.

On the second leg of the trip, I acted rather uncharacteristically. I got on the train, sat down, didn't make eye contact with the girl across from me, pulled out my book, proceeded to start reading, continued to pretend that I didn't know I wasn't alone on the train. So far, so usual. Then, I tried something relatively new and different. I put down the book, looked over, and started a coversation with a complete stranger -- a conversation that I somehow sustained, against all precedent, for more than two hours. Certainly I've had conversations that long before, but never with someone I didn't know. So that was a refreshing change. And I got a homemade Oreo Ball out of it, too. I guess my social skills have improved at least a bit over the past couple years. Really, it used to be that I'd try to start a conversation, and usually within two sentences but never more than two minutes later it'd have petered into an awkward silence. So I'm pleased.

Hitch showed at my school tonight. It was surprisingly amusing. Some of the stupider elements were overplayed and the better parts a little too sparse, but it was better than I expected, despite the extremely rushed third act. There was one actress in it whom I don't think I've seen in anything else who I though acted very credibly and naturally, which isn't something I'm used to seeing in today's movies. I'll be keeping an eye on her career.

And if anyone's interested, the teaser trailer for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is out now.

You are 57% Rational, 0% Extroverted, 28% Brutal, and 14% Arrogant.

You are the Robot! You are characterized by your rationality. In fact,
this is really ALL you are characterized by. Like a cold, heartless
machine, you are so logical and unemotional that you scarcely seem
human. For instance, you are very humble and don't bother thinking of
your own interests, you are very gentle and lack emotion, and you are
also very introverted and introspective. You may have noticed that
these traits are just as applicable to your laptop as they are to a
human being. In short, your personality defect is that you don't really
HAVE a personality. You are one of those annoying, super-logical people
that never gets upset or flustered. Unless, of course, you short

To put it less negatively:

1. You are more RATIONAL than intuitive.

2. You are more INTROVERTED than extroverted.

3. You are more GENTLE than brutal.

4. You are more HUMBLE than arrogant.


Your exact opposite is the Class Clown.

Other personalities you would probably get along with are the Hand-Raiser, the Emo Kid, and the Haughty Intellectual.



If you scored near fifty percent for a certain trait (42%-58%), you
could very well go either way. For example, someone with 42%
Extroversion is slightly leaning towards being an introvert, but is
close enough to being an extrovert to be classified that way as well.
Below is a list of the other personality types so that you can
determine which other possible categories you may fill if you scored
near fifty percent for certain traits.

The other personality types:

The Emo Kid: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Starving Artist: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Bitch-Slap: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Brute: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hippie: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Televangelist: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Schoolyard Bully: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Class Clown: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Robot: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Haughty Intellectual: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Spiteful Loner: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Sociopath: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hand-Raiser: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Braggart: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Capitalist Pig: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Smartass: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 35% on Rationality
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on Extroversion
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 23% on Brutality
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 5% on Arrogance
Link: The Personality Defect Test written by saint_gasoline on Ok Cupid

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Summer is upon us. . . 

Today was quite a summerish day. Warmer out than I'm accustomed to. Quite nice.

I went out and played with the dogs for a few minutes this morning. When I came in, Caleb was sitting out there crying. Kind of pathetic, but it was very hard not to go back out and play with him some more. I did get all the pool furniture out from the basement and the garage and the porch and arranged around the pool, though, so that's out of the way, and I got the trampoline set up in the backyard, which was fun. I have some more furniture to shift tonight.

The Flower Market's been going on in the park just down the street; thursday through today I think. Which means that whenever I walk Caleb, but especially between six and eight o'clock in the evening, there are lots of young families and and more younger couples around reminding me how much I want to raise a family. I know I'm not ready for that yet, but my instincts want immediate gratification. Biological imperative, or am I just impatient?

My younger sister's friends are also increasingly at that annoying age when they're still obnoxious kids, but more and more with adult bodies. Often when I'm around they engage in extraordinarily clumsy, unsubtle flirtation in what they clearly think is a very sly manner, and I do my best to appear completely oblivious to it. Which can, admittedly, occasionally be difficult, particularly around the better developed of them. (No, it's not a crime to be attracted -- just to act on it. And I believe the age of consent in Canada is 14. . . (Forget I just said that! )) Seriously, it can be a little disheartening when I realize that even their clumsy coquetry is more advanced than any flirting I've ever done.

Today I picked up several books: Nabokov's Lolita, Roth's American Pastoral, Witcover's Tumbling After, Shirley's Demons, and Mitchell's Moonfall. Also the first of Busiek's Astro City trades. I'm currently reading Nabokov's Pale Fire, from which I present an excerpt:
Of students' papers: "I am generally very benevolent [said Shade]. But there are certain trifles I do not forgive." Kinbote: "For instance?" "Not having read the required book. Having read it like an idiot. Looking in it for symbols; example: 'The author uses the striking image green leaves because green is the symbol of happiness and frustration.' I am also in the habit of lowering a student's mark catastrophically is he uses 'simple' and 'sincere' in a commendatory sense; examples: 'Shelley's style is always very simple and good'; or 'Yeats is always sincere.' This is widespread, and when I hear a critic speaking of an author's sincerity I know that either the critic or the author is a fool." Kinbote: "But I am told this manner of thinking is taught in high school?" "That's where the broom should begin to sweep. A child should have thirty specialists to teach him thirty subjects, and not one harassed schoolmarm to show him a picture of a rice field and tell him this is China because she knows nothing about China, or anything else, and cannot tell the difference between longitude and latitude." Kinbote: "I agree."
Tomorrow, it's back to school -- and I've got a lot of reading to do that's not yet done, unfortunately. So I'm going to get to it.

Kingdom of Heaven 

I saw Kingdom of Heaven this weekend. The trailers mostly sucked. War of the Worlds, Revenge of the Sith and The Island are going to suck, I’m quite sure. Mr. and Mrs. Smith will suck, too, but might do so in an amusing manner. (And, tangentially, am I the only guy on the planet who doesn’t find Angelina Jolie attractive?) The Greatest Game Ever Played looked exactly like every other inspiring sports movie ever made, but I’ll probably see it because it’s directed by Bill Paxton with a score by Brian Tyler. The Legend of Zorro looked far too ADD and CGI for my tastes, but the first one was great fun, a very fine popcorn movie, so I’ll give this one the benefit of the doubt.

As to Kingdom of Heaven, I enjoyed it, though it wasn’t very good. Being a Ridley Scott film, it of course looked fantastic, and it had a first rate score as well. But its message, insofar as it had one, seemed to be this: that fanatics suck and it’s generally a bad idea to be one, unless the thing you’re fanatical about is Doing The Right Thing (whatever that is) and Following Your Conscience (as if that always coincides with Doing The Right Thing). There was much that amused me in this movie. It amused me every time Doctor Bashir came on screen. It amused me how, in the big “Rise A Knight” sequence, “Valhalla” from Jerry Goldsmith’s The 13th Warrior score was tracked in. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great piece of music, and it worked very well there, but it certainly distracted me. It amused me that Orlando Bloom’s character, despite having no charisma and showing very little evidence of any leadership skills, rose in the ranks and the peoples’ esteem so impossibly quickly. Interesting too how quickly he went from a novice with a sword to an unstoppable-on-the-battlefield warrior—even more quickly than Tom Cruise became a master Samurai. Interesting how a blacksmith knew so much about such things as agriculture and warfare. His relationship with his wife at the beginning was quite amusing as well. As for his other relationship in the movie . . . well, there wasn’t a whole lot of chemistry, but it wasn’t completely unamusing. Eva Green . . . sometimes she’s reasonably pretty, and sometimes she looks downright odd. There were plenty of fine actors in this movie. Liam Neeson, always fine, is the father/mentor figure, revered by everyone, including his enemies, who dies early on. Haven’t we seen him in that role multiple times before? David Thewlis was also fine as ever, but I wish someone would make use of his talent one of these days. Jeremy Irons pretty much reprised his role as Scar from The Lion King, except as a good guy this time. Both Saladin and the Leper King were fine. Ridley Scott took great care to make his lead figure areligious, fighting not for God nor for Christendom but for The People. The battle scenes were nothing you haven’t seen before, but they were better executed than usual, and as always, the sight of hundreds or thousands of horses charging is thrilling. So yes, I enjoyed this movie, both during the action sequences and the character moments. It wasn’t great but, despite its lead not being anywhere near Russell Crowe’s caliber (while trying to figure out who would have been better in the role than Bloom, my father suggested Wesley Snipes. I agreed.), it was better than Gladiator, and about a bazillion times better than other recent “epics” like Troy. I’m definitely interested to see the Director’s Cut when it comes out.

Other amusing incidents this weekend include but are not limited to: seeing a Stretch Hummer going through the drive-through at Krispy Kreme; finally seeing a few episodes of Arrested Development (very funny, but, so far at least, a bit overrated, I think); and I’ve got to go for now. I’ll probably be back later this evening some time.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Home Sweet Home 

Well, I'm home. Caleb, the big dog, was extraordinarily excited to see me. Scout, the little one, didn't remember me. It was good getting home. Good to walk Caleb, and to eat real food. To see the family.

Of course, all is not well. The computer doesn't work (I'm on my brother's computer while he's at school; I can't get online from home on my school laptop because it doesn't meet the newest AOL's system requirements and AOL won't let me try to install anything but the newest version.); my bed was a mess (why the hell was someone sleeping in my bed? There's hardly a paucity of beds in this house. . .) (and my stack of CDs was a mess, two. I know, it's not great to stack CDs, but I do it carefully so at any time there's only one CD in the stack with its data side exposed to anything other than the back of another CD. Now, word of advice: when you knock over a stack of CDs, CLEAN IT UP, so that any limited or promo discs aren't lying on the ground, with their surfaces exposed to dust and cat feet. And when you spill sticky shit like soda on someone's CDs -- WASH IT OFF, so it doesn't harden into a nasty sticky mess on their surfaces. Common fucking courtesy, people.); I thought maybe I'd relax in front of a movie while my sheets and so forth were in the wash, but no go, the DVD player doesn't work either (I've got the usual set-up: cable goes into DVD player, player connects to TV. The TV gets the cable fine, but whenever you switch the player over to DVD mode, all you get is static.); by the time my laundry was finally done, I had a nasty headache because it'd been a long day and I was tired and dehydrated and a little frustrated, so I went and tried to go to bed, only to find that the comforter had bunched in the dryer and large parts of it were still sopping wet. Whatever. I slept in it anyway. Best way to dry a thing is to sleep it dry. (Plus, Mickelsson's Ghosts, which should've arrived three months ago, never did. And some other trivial stuff I'm not even going to bother bitching about.)

On the other hand, Delaware is unbelievably green (and pink and white and red) right now. Beautiful. Tremendously beautiful. And it was great fun to walk my dog again. So I'm going to go walk him again.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I gave blood today. No problems, as usual. Did better than expected on a quiz, so that's good. Best of all, going home tomorrow. Should be an excellent weekend. Except I'm most unforuntately going to miss both Orchesis and Clara, it seems.

I've seen a lot of movies recently. I finally saw Casablanca, which I liked a lot more than I expected to. It was practically perfect in every way. Truly a brilliant film. Then I saw Play It Again, Sam, Woody Allen's spoof. I liked it a lot more than I think I should have -- was able to identify a bit too much with Allen's character. Heh. Funny movie, indeed. Currently, I'm about halfway through Sunset Boulevard.

For any who're interested, gabe's posted his list of 100 essential books. As to the essential book I'm reading at the moment: Nabokov's wonderful Pale Fire. Other reading: Michelle has posted two new poems. And how cool is it to have a teacher start a letter of recommendation: "I love this guy."?

As it happens, I have a quiz in the morning for which I'm not prepared, so I'm off to pretend like I'm going to study for a bit. Take it easy, everyone.

Your Brain is 53.33% Female, 46.67% Male

Your brain is a healthy mix of male and female

You are both sensitive and savvy

Rational and reasonable, you tend to keep level headed

But you also tend to wear your heart on your sleeve

What Gender Is Your Brain?

You Are 45% Normal

(Somewhat Normal)

While some of your behavior is quite normal...

Other things you do are downright strange

You've got a little of your freak going on

But you mostly keep your weirdness to yourself

How Normal Are You?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

27 days and counting. . . 

. . .until graduation. That's right. Less than a month, and I'm out of here.

Today was the "Senior Brunch," which was reasonably well attended. They served us food that was moderately better than commons fare, though still not very good. They also served us champagne, which was good, but only one glass -- excuse me, flute -- per person. Nobody was quite sure what to wear, so some people showed up in basic t-shirt and sweats, others in business casual, and some getting up near formal looking. President Miller made a couple jokes, we ate, we dispersed. There was also a slideshow of pictures of people in our year to which very few people apparently contributed -- four or five people got the lion's share of the pictures and a whole lot of us featured in none at all. The highlight of the hour for me was seeing the most breathtakingly beautiful girl in the school there in her blue dress. I've seen her only about five times this term, and -- it's not fair for there to exist women so beautiful. Nor, though, would it be fair for them not to exist. Oh, well.

This weekend I've been reading Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, which, while very interesting, is also for some reason veyr slow reading for me. It's also tremendously discouraging for people with my own socio-political leanings. Makes me very grateful that I don't like and don't eat fast food, though. Really, very compelling, disgusting reporting.

For class, I've also watched two movies: Cukor's 1944 Gaslight, which was almost good. It was a bit too long, much too predictable, and took itself far too seriously -- a little humor would've done the film tremendous good. Most of the actors were fairly boring, though it was fun seeing a young Angela Lansbury and Ingrid Bergman, whom I've never seen in a film, did an absolutely stunning job (even if her character needed a good slap and a bit of backbone). The other one was Hitchcock's classic Strangers on a Train, which was very good. But you already knew that. What else do you expect from a movie co-written by Raymond Chandler? The movies were scored servicably but unremarkably by Bronislau Kaper and Dmitri Tiomkin respectively.

Not for class, I watched Mean Girls, which couldn't quite decide whether it wanted to be a vicious, incisive comedy or slapstick, so kept moving between the two, though more of the former than the latter, for which I'm thankful. Honestly, I was expecting this movie to suck, and for the most part it didn't, though of course it did have an annoyingly mawkish ending, so I was pleasantly surprised.

On Friday afternoon was the Habitat reunion. Most of us made it. It was pleasant, with good food and good company, and several laughs involving the most awfully constructed raft (I call it that for lack of a more appropriate word) I've ever seen in my life.

I seriously doubt I'm going to get much work done over the next week, but I'm going home this weekend, so I'll get to refresh myself, see my beasts, all that good stuff. Need to figure out something for Mother's Day, as well. What a crock, Mother's Day. A fine sentiment -- but then, shouldn't we treat our mothers specially all the time? I don't trust any holiday created and perpetuated by card companies. Meh.

And I recently listened to Debbie Wiseman's Wilde, and it's STUCK. IN. MY. HEAD. I mean, Wilde was fantastic, and his life and words have inspired some wonderful music, but why did it have to be so catchy? Why?!?

Um. Yeah. Back to reading Fast Food Nation. And cherishing, for as long as my mind will retain it, the image of beauty in a blue dress.

Have a good weekend, all.

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