Saturday, August 30, 2008

CHALLENGE | Signing up for R.I.P. III

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.

I've decided to ignore my earlier hesitation and sign up for R.I.P. III anyway. My initial concern was about access to the books, since most of them are already packed and sealed in boxes. And I've just packed most of my stuff for Dubai in the 75 litres backpack - space is definitely an issue. I still need to find space for 2 pairs of work-shoes and more work-clothes.

If need be, I will hand-carry the books onto the plane. What are they going to do about it?

The only concession to the situation is my selection. I have chosen 3 titles from my library that I will bring with me to Dubai. I do not intend to bring them home with me.

Here is my modest pool of titles for R.I.P. III:

  1. The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco.
    Some of you may be familiar with the film adaption of this title which starred Sean Connery and a very young Christian Slater. The year is 1327 and the English monk, Brother William of Baskerville travels to an abbey - one with a grand library - to unravel the mystery behind a series of murders that has been taking place there.
  2. Asylum, Patrick McGrath
    This has also been adapted into a film, starring Ian McKellen. The elegant and intelligent Stella Raphael is married to her dull, unimaginative husband, Max. The husband is a psychiatrist at a maximum-security mental hopsital, where Stella is rapidly seduced by the sculptor Edgar Stark - who is confined to the mental hospital for the brutal murder of his wife. A gothic tale of lust, betrayal, madness and obsession. Honestly, I have no idea why I have not read it yet.
  3. The Ghost Writer, John Harwood
    Carl's list reminded me that I have an old paperback copy of the book in the stash.
    A young boy, Gerard, growing up in Australia, begins a correspondence with a young girl, Alice Jessel. Her parents died in an accident and she was crippled. She now lives in an institution. They grow up, only communicating through the letters they sent each other, until they eventual fall in love. The story promises twists and turn, as Gerard discovers his grandmother wrote ghost stories, and these stories resemble his own life with uncanny accuracy.

I'm not certain if I can finish at least one of these titles, so I will start modestly with Peril the Third - to read one book. If circumstances permit, I will move on to Peril the Second.




R.I.P III runs from September 1st through October 31st, 2008

Visit http://ripingyarns.blogspot.com for more R.I.P. III book reviews.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Beware of Falling Book Piles

This morning I had a stack of old books fall on my bare feet. Needless to say, it was painful. I never thought I would see the day when the sight of tall, unruly piles of books infuriates me.

Begone!

Twenty-four boxes of books as of this evening. Still counting.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Two More Weeks Only?

A friend just reminded me that if all goes well, I have only about 2 more weeks in Singapore. Which kind of makes this packing process seem more urgent. I need to find a bigger backpack now.

To all my friends who are feeling heartache on my behalf:

I don't have a car and I can't afford to bring all the books down to be sold/donated. I still have a lot of packing to be done before I go, and I need to report for work on 1st September. There's a lot to be done for the Dubai project before I go, so I will have limited time to pack. In light of this, I would really appreciate it if everyone could stop telling me not to throw away the books. It hurts me a lot to sacrifice these books - but I need to do this. As soon as possible, because if you look through the list, you can see that it's close to 100 titles that I need to get rid of. And I'm still not done yet.

If you would like to help, please look through the list on a regular basis and tell me which books you would like. I would appreciate it a lot more if you could make it convenient for me to pass you the books before the end of the week.

Thank you.

Can I Swim in Dubai?

Random thought while packing: If I pack my swimming gear along with me to Dubai, will I ever get to use it? Do they have public swimming readily available over there like we have back home? Or do I have to join some over-priced, exclusive gym membership to get some exercise in the pool?

Hmm.

Everything these days is pretty random. Or maybe it's just the recent Dara Torres admiration.

Books To Be Given Away

Update: Some books has been taken, and more titles added, including some book proofs I have received over the years. Like I said, check back if you're interested [28 August 2008]

[Cross-posted at A Stranger in a Strange Land]

I'm in the process of getting rid of  books from my library. Since it's quite a list, I'm updating it gradually - which means there should be new titles being added almost everyday. If you’re interested, please check back often. If you’re interested in any of these books, please email me (pagan_25 AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk) or message/call me on my mobile.

Since my priority is to get rid of these books as soon as possible, I’m afraid this will only be available for people living in Singapore. Sorry. All unwanted books will be dumped shortly before I depart Singapore. 

Please note that all books listed have been stored for a long time in a humid environment (ie. my room). So the pages are yellow with age, dusty and there might be the occasional notes and underline on the text itself.

List posted at here

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dubai Looking Promising

I just received some good news on the Dubai front. It now looks more promising that I will touch Dubai soil this September. The news was oddly exciting, considering how cynical I have been about the delays these past couple of months. Now we're back to the issue of packing for Dubai. I was just studying the price quotation from the transportation company on shipping our personal belongings to Dubai.

Let's just say: Ouch.

Once again, the sheer weight of my possessions begin to overwhelm me. I'm tempted to live out of a single backpack for the whole year in Dubai.

It's tiring work to pack all those books. I'm now on 20 boxes of books and DVDs - and we're still counting. During the shuffle, I finally found the CD box-set I was looking: Retrospective: The Best of Suzanne Vega, and I was seized with this irrational but insistent thought: I must download all the Suzanne Vega songs to my iPod to bring over to Dubai; Suzanne Vega MUST come with me!

I just can't seem to let go.

When I first saw Carl's post on the R.I.P. III Challenge, my first thought was that I would like to take the opportunity to read Ann Radcliffe. Except I've already packed my Ann Radcliffe into one of the boxes. So, I've packed myself out of the challenge. With the move to Dubai, and the logistics of moving, the cultural shock and uncertainty - not to mention the learning curve of a new posting - I doubt I will have time to read or blog in the next few months. This really feels like goodbye somehow.

I thought it would be interesting to see my whole life packed into cardboard boxes. Now my life is a solid and expanding wall of cardboard boxes, and I am overwhelmed.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wicked Little Town

The Sisters Deal, Kim and Kelley, performing "Wicked Little Town"



But here's the version from the film, Hedwig and the Angry Inch:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

DVD | Clueless Guy Goes, "Kimberly Deal. Like The Breeders."

I was just watching the documentary loudQUIETloud on DVD, about the Pixies when they reunited for a sold-out tour in 2004.

One of the advantages of watching a film on DVD are the Extra Features, like the deleted scenes.

In one of the deleted scenes from the DVD, where Kim Deal (bassist and vocalist for the Pixies) goes to a music shop. She was paying for her purchase with her credit card, and the guy at the store remarked, "Kimberly Deal. Like The Breeders." (Kim Deal is lead vocalist and guitarist for The Breeders)

The guy went on to ask if Kim Deal listens to The Breeders. Kim says "No", and the guy just continues, telling her they are "really a cool band, actually."

Deal has this look of utter disbelief, which is just priceless.

OLYMPICS | More Pictures on the Norwegian Team

I was wrong. I couldn't spend the whole day packing my room, so I watched the Olympics handball finals on my laptop again. Then I started surfing the net for more pictures of the Norwegian team.

So, yes, there's more.


Women's Handball is not a sport for the delicate.

Just found this picture, where Katja lifts Russian player Polenova off the ground during defense. I replayed that scene many times and it still makes me laugh.

Group hug. Because the Olympics is all about the hugging.

A little note: Marit Breivik, coach for the Norwegian national team, is the only female coach for Women's Handball in the Beijing Olympics. She has been with the Norwegian team for the past 10 years. For the World Championship, her team took the title in 1999 and second place in 2007 (I believe they lost to Russia. This Olympics victory is sweet revenge) The girls are also champions of the European Women's Handball Championships in 1998, 2004 and 2006.

Coach Breivik (left), with Katja Nyberg

Love you, Coach.


Norwegian Captain Gro Hammerseng (center), blissed out and beautiful.

Fooling around.


The champions, looking less sweaty.

Why is Gro wearing a big T-shirt?

Too Many Books

Update on packing my books: 13 boxes full, and I am not even one-third done. The place is in a mess right now. I will have to throw out the old books that I'm never going to re-read to save space.

Reality will eventually make itself known to you, that there is something such as "too many books".

I have to stop buying books. Effective today.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

OLYMPICS | Norway Takes GOLD for Women's Handball!

Norway vs Russia: 34-27

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[Photos: Philippe Huguen/Scanpix/AFP]



This will be the last of my Olympics related posts for 2008. I think.

Packing My Life Into Cardboard Boxes: Introduction

Never let it be said that I am not melodramatic. Let me introduce a new feature on my other blog, "Packing My Life Into Cardboard Boxes". In this series, I finally begin the process of packing up my life in preparation for Dubai. If all goes well, I should be there in September 2008. It will be right in the middle of Ramadan, when the locals begin their month-long fast and all things slow down. Important things like work-permit applications.

As always, my timing is impeccable.

Read Day I, where I was distracted by a long forgotten book.

It all begins with a single cardboard box. Books goes in.

Friday, August 22, 2008

FRIDAY FILL-INS #86



1. Dancing to the Strictly Ballroom soundtrack while singing makes me glad there's no one recording this.

2. The last time I ended a relationship I nearly fell to pieces.

3. When I drive I will be breaking the law.

4. I saw someone I care about standing up to a bully of a boss.

5. Give me patience, give me strength, give me peace of mind.

6. Next week I am looking forward to packing my life into cardboard boxes.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to reading The Idiot, tomorrow my plans include watching the Olympics Women Handball Finals and Sunday, I want to watch the band Pixies on DVD!

Patricia Barber's Mythologies

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there’s something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It’s the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part...." -Nick Hornby, Songbook

I feel the need to confess that jazz is still something of an acquired taste with me. Maybe it's the snob association of jazz music with "high art" that intimidates the working-class girl in me. I can only say I am trying. This means I'm leaving myself open to recommendations, as well as a willingness to admit when a song eludes me.

By some twist of fate, I found a live-stream of one of the songs on Patricia Barber's album, Mythologies. The theme of the album intrigued me:  each song on Mythologies focuses on a mythological character in Ovid’s Metamorphoses - among them, Morpheus, Pygmalion, Orpheus, Persephone and Narcissus. A blend of mythology and music. So very interesting.

"Imagine if you'd never heard jazz before.... you stumbled in after work for a drink.... you might think that jazz is an Ancient Greek music." ~ Patricia Barber

Granted, I am still not an expert on jazz music, but I really enjoyed listening to "Persephone". I've included a Youtube video of a performance below. Enjoy.

“Persephone” is fun, fun, fun – she’s such a wonderful character. There wasn’t quite enough in Ovid about her. She’s in Book Five – abducted by Hades and taken to the underworld and then in Book Ten as one of the judges of Orpheus’s plea. So I went back to Homer, the origin of the written story of Persephone, and I read Dante because I was curious about Hell. I seized poetic license and created a story in which Persephone ends up liking her power down there. She is the only god who can traverse the upper- and underworlds. She becomes Virgil leading an angel through hell, trying to corrupt her as she is showing signs of weakness. She will use anything at her disposal to get what she wants. It’s a song of seduction. ~ Patricia Barber

"She must respect me..."

I read the article online a few days ago, but I only found it today. It's the story of how Russian pole vaulter, Yelena Isinbayeva "stuck it" to US competitor Jenn Stuczynsky for the latter's comment before the event. Stuczynsky was perhaps feeling a little cocky, so she made the comment that she hope to "do some damage," and "kick some Russian butt."

There is competitiveness and then there is arrogance. Stuczynsky would soon learn her mistakes when Yelena Isinbayeva picked up the gauntlet that was thrown. She did it not just by beating Stuczynsky's 48.0 metres. She came back for more and she cleared 5.05 metres - a world record.

I love Isinbayeva's statement at the end:

"She must respect me and ... know her position."

Isinbayeva doesn't ask for respect. She takes it. This is why I love the Olympics. Such drama! This is the stuff that soap operas are made of - and it's all here on the Olympics!

BOOKING THROUGH THURSDAY | Libraries

Whether you usually read off of your own book pile or from the library shelves NOW, chances are you started off with trips to the library. (There’s no way my parents could otherwise have kept up with my book habit when I was 10.) So … What is your earliest memory of a library? Who took you? Do you have you any funny/odd memories of the library?

Haven't done a Booking Through Thursday for a while, so I thought I try.

Let's see now: my earliest memory of the library would be the weekly Saturday trips to the Queenstown Community Library. My mother would be the one to bring us - she was an avid reader when she was younger. My dad was not much of a reader, unless you count technical manuals and travel guides.

My mother was a fan of the wuxia novels, and occasionally she would pick up some titles by Qiong Yao. There were pretty of other authors, but my mother read in Chinese exclusively.

If I recall correctly, I had my first library card when I was 5 or 6 years old, where I would be allowed to pick up four titles. I started with the Miffy picture books, then the Mr Men series, and gradually I progressed to other fiction when I grew older. There were a lot of detective storybooks devoured, and a lot of stories and picture books on the various fables, legends and myths across the world. When I was younger, I read more Chinese books. After I started Primary School, I incorporated more English books into my reading.

The Queenstown library was one of the earliest national libraries, so it was old. I remember the Children's section was on the first floor, and the Adult section was on the second floor. So my mom would give me an hour or two in the Children's section, and she would come collect me after she was done on the second floor. (Now that I think of it, it was rather negligent parenting to leave the child unattended like this.)

Back then, the second floor was like the Promised Land. When I finally started borrowing from the Adult Section, it felt like I had really grown up.

I remember my mom had a denim tote bag that she would bring with us every Saturday to the library. She used that denim bag for the library books. There were patches in the interior of the denim bag, from my mother mending the holes. When we stopped going to the library that denim bag went missing. Maybe we threw it away. Or maybe it finally gave way from the weight of all those library books.

We don't go out much as a family when I was growing up. The weekly library trips were something to look forward to, as it meant being allowed to leave the house. Sometimes, if my mom allowed it, we would stop for desserts at the hawker centre at Queenstown, or we might even drop by the supermarket.

Looking back, I think my mom was unhappy, and the books were the only thing that kept her mind occupied. She stopped reading several years ago. I borrowed her library card once when I had exceeded my loan quota and I needed to check out more books for research.

She never asked for her library card back.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Women are watching the Olympics

The New York Times has an article on how the Olympics has managed to draw a huge number of viewers who are not from the usual pool of sports fans - the women. The number is significant enough for advertisers to take note, and they have been pumping money into advertising space on the Olympics

I am one of those non-traditional sports viewer. In fact, I don't usually watch TV - but I find myself oddly drawn to the Olympics.

I find myself trying to catch the Women's Handball semi-finals on livestream today. Norway is playing South Korea (I am following the Norwegian team) The key word here is "trying" - it's been hell trying to log on. (I was unsuccessful) Right after the first half, a fan who had been watching posted that South Korea has the lead - and I was suddenly concerned. This is when it hit me: I am a fan of a sport I know nothing about until recently. D'uh.

Here's a screencap of the match. Look at the expressions.

QUIZ |What Font Are You?

[From Yogamum]



You Are Andale Mono
You are a geek, pure and simple. You spend a lot of time online.
In fact, you probably love the internet more than anyone you know.

You are picky about design, mostly for readability's sake.
You are the type most likely to be irritated by a bad font.

Cyteen II

A quick memory search tells me that it has been at least 11 years since I first read Cyteen.

Locusmag's list of Forthcoming Books announced a January 2009 release for Cyteen II: Regenesis, to be published by DAW.

*sigh* We wait.

A Little Bothered

An anonymous person left a comment (or two) today that I felt was rude and unnecessary. The same statement could have been made in a more civil manner, but the person chose to express them in a tone that was belittling.

I spent some time drafting a reply to this comment, but decided to delete everything instead - including the post in question. It just seems so much easier to just ignore everything.

I wonder though, at the anonymity of this person. Does the anonymity of the internet allow more people to be rude? Without having to meet the person face-to-face every day, without any actual consequences to the things we say to someone else, do we feel it is "safe" to express certain negative sentiments we might not be comfortable saying to our family, our friends and colleagues?

I will be wrong on this blog, because I do not have the advantage of a professional copy-writer or a fact-checker. When I am wrong, I would appreciate it if someone could point it out politely and patiently. We all live by the indulgences of others afterall. The true yardstick of a person's education and cultural refinement is not what music we listen to, or what books we read - but rather, how we conduct ourselves, the level of respect we give to one another.

Why an isolated incident offends me so much is because while I have been blogging for three years, this is the first time I have ever had a visitor that I found deliberately rude. Until now, I have been lucky, I guess.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Yoga Jazz?

Monday as usual is Power Yoga with Michelle R. She's in a good mood today. It might be the coffee she had before coming to class. After several months practicing with her, I learned that the best indicator of much you are going to suffer in class is by looking at her playlist.

Tonight Michelle outdid herself. We held Plank Pose for 1 minute and 15 seconds to jazz.

When did jazz ballad become the new yoga music?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Phelps and Torres Medal Glories

By now everyone who's following the Olympics probably know about Michael Phelps' EIGHT gold medal.

Is this man for real? He has made Olympics history by winning his eighth gold medal for swimming, the most at a single Olympics, surpassing the legendary and seemingly untouchable mark set by Spitz in 1972. His response to his achievement was also so human and touching:

"I don't know what to feel right now. It's so emotional. All I want to do is go see my mom."

Sometimes these athletes like to remind us they are also just ordinary human beings. Eight gold medals or not, he's still the 23 year old guy with the slightly goofy smile.

Congratulations, man.

With all the media attention on Phelps's extraordinary feats, it's easy to overlook my personal hero, Dara Torres.

Torres won two more silver medals for the Women's 50m Freestyle and Women's 4 x 100m Medley Relay. She gave up the 100m Freestyle to focus on her best event, the 50m Freestyle. She wasn't looking to just perform - she was out for the gold - and she was just hundredth of a second short. [more] Just this much! This is one of those moments when you just want to scream.

How did she feel about the results for the 50m Freestyle?

"I'm competitive," Torres said. "I wanted to win a gold, but I gave it my best shot. And I'm thinking maybe I shouldn't have filed my nails last night."

She's definitely an Aries sun sign. :)

Congratulations, Dara. THREE Silver Olympic medals at 41 is awesome, no matter what.

Sidenote: Would you look at the definitions on her arms?

Friday, August 15, 2008

MEME | Seven Songs Meme

[From Moyen Age]

Rules:

  • List seven songs you are into right now.
  • No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring/summer.
  • Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs.
  1. "It Was You" (acoustic version), from Melody, by Sharleen Spiteri:
    I prefer the acoustic version over the album version because it italicizes Sharleen Spiteri's sultry vocals.

  2. "The Story", from The Story, by Brandi Carlile:
    Everybody probably heard the song a hundred times since it was featured on the "Grey's Anatomy" soundtrack. It's still a favourite of mine, and I especially the part towards the end when she cast her voice for the high notes - and it crackles just a little.

  3. "Where I Stood", from On A Clear Night, by Missy Higgins:
    A more mellow piece by the Australian singer. I was listening to this song a lot when I was writing my novel-in-progress. It's about giving up a relationship that you recognise has helped you grow, yet knowing in the core of your heart that it is time to move on.
    And I won't be far from where you are if ever you should call
    You meant more to me than anyone I ever loved at all
    But you taught me how to trust myself and so I say to you
    This is what I have to do

    'Cos I don't know who I am, who I am without you
    All I know is that I should
    And I don't know if I could stand another hand upon you
    All I know is that I should
    'Cos she will love you more than I could
    She who dares to stand where I stood
    Oh, she who dares to stand where I stood

    The pain of trying to do the right thing, even when it tears your heart trying to walk away. Knowing that though you are the one who chose to give her up, you can't ever bear to see her with somebody else.

    We are fools that way, us creatures of love.


  4. "Jumpers", from The Woods, by Sleater-Kinney:
    I've been playing Sleater-Kinney heavily on the iPod these past two months. Their songs are visceral and intense and they never fail to lift me out of a dark mood. "Jumper" has that perfect opening to how I've been feeling these days:
    I spend the afternoon in cars
    I sit in traffic jams for hours
    Don't push me
    I am not OK

    The sky is blue most every day
    The lemons grow like tumors they
    Are tiny suns infused with sour
    "Tiny suns infused with sour" - the visual and gustatory bursts in that single line. Their songs are meant to be felt.

  5. "What's Mine Is Yours", from The Woods, by Sleater-Kinney:
    I always pay attention to Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein's alternating guitar licks at the start of the song. It's a good example of just how in sync Tucker and Brownstein are with each other, how each compliment the other in spite of their different vocal qualities and guitar styles. To paraphrase Janet Weiss, the sheer chemistry between them help them reach for the moon.

  6. "You're No Rock n' Roll Fun", from All Hands On the Bad One, by Sleater-Kinney:
    It's a happy, popsy tune, a little playful even, especially if you watch the MTV, where the girls ham it up.

  7. "One More Hour", from Dig Me Out, by Sleater-Kinney:
    Perhaps my favourite Sleater-Kinney song ever. But you may like to check in with me a few years down the road and we'll see how I feel about it. I love the background story behind the song.

    It's a story about breaking-up, as one half of a failed relationship is moving out of the place they used to share. The girl who is leaving has trouble letting go. She leaves some stuff behind for her ex. Suddenly she cries, "Oh, you've got the darkest eyes." In the profound shade of her lover's eyes, she saw all that she once had and lost.

    I guess at one point or another, we all know that feeling of not being able to let go. This is the last song Sleater-Kinney played at their final concert - right before they went into "indefinite hiatus".


    i know it’s so hard for you to let it go,
    i know it’s so hard for you to say goodbye
    i know you need a little more time

    These lines sum up how I feel about "indefinite hiatus".

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

To Build a Body Like Dara Torres

I just googled Dara Torres's training routine and the intensity of it scared me. (Yes, I know she's an Olympic medallist. It's supposed to be intense. But still!)

To look like her (with those killer abs!) I have to do lots of crunches, core strengthening exercises, cable rotations - did I mention lots of core exercises? And pull-ups?! (Torres add 15 pounds weights to each ankle for her pull-ups!)

When I started looking at her routine more closely, I noticed there isn't much work with the weight-machines. Dara Torres's body has been trained to work more efficiently and the result is a leaner but more powerful body. She is in fact 12 pounds leaner than she was in 2000.

Her trainer set her on a series of exercises that combine elements of calisthenics, plyometrics, and yoga. (Hah! Yoga!) It is programmed to work a variety of muscles groups at once, usually starting with the core. (I'm beginning to see why my yoga teacher loves core-work so much. She's onto something.)

I'm psyching myself right now. Let this be the goal:

I'm going swimming this weekend. Really.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What I'm Watching for the Beijing Olympics

It's annoying but I've been unable to catch the Beijing Olympics as much as I would like to. We don't have the sports channel on cable, and since I don't normally watch TV, it really seem like an unnecessary expense.

I've always preferred watching the water sports, especially swimming and diving. Even sychronized swimming has a certain allure. Something about the combination of grace, strength and speed in water - it fascinates me. (But knowing me, it could also be all that sculpted bodies in wet swimsuits. The broadness of the shoulders, the tight waist and powerful thighs - so pleasing to the eyes. But I digress.)

A while back, I read about how Dara Torres qualified for the Olympics at the age of 41 - beating her own 2000 Olympics record for the 50m freestyle. With 9 Olympic medals behind her, she has nothing to prove - except that she can still go further. The sheer determination and focus of this woman is awe-inspiring. I knew I had to watch her for the Beijing Olympics.

Well, her and Michael Phelps. :) (I think Phelps is going to win more gold before the Olympics is over)

Congratulations to Dara Torres and her team-mates for winning the silver medal for the Women's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay [NY Times]. This silver makes it Torres's 10th Olympic medals.

And good luck to you, Dara, for the 50m Freestyle. I'm rooting for you. I also want to have a body like yours when I'm 40.

Dara Torres, by the way, is not the oldest woman competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. French cyclist, Jeannie Longo, is 49.

Anyone else feel like they should be exercising right now?

Sheesh. These Librarians are Nuts

[From the New Yorker's Book Bench]

In New Zealand, Librarian issues challenge: Beat me at Guitar Hero, and get your library fines waived.

I kid you not. Read the full story.

QUIZ | What Tarot Card are You?

[From Yogamum]


You are The Sun

Happiness, Content, Joy.

The meanings for the Sun are fairly simple and consistent.

Young, healthy, new, fresh. The brain is working, things that were muddled come clear, everything falls into place, and everything seems to go your way.

The Sun is ruled by the Sun, of course. This is the light that comes after the long dark night, Apollo to the Moon's Diana. A positive card, it promises you your day in the sun. Glory, gain, triumph, pleasure, truth, success. As the moon symbolized inspiration from the unconscious, from dreams, this card symbolizes discoveries made fully consciousness and wide awake. You have an understanding and enjoyment of science and math, beautifully constructed music, carefully reasoned philosophy. It is a card of intellect, clarity of mind, and feelings of youthful energy.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

From the New York Times...

Geoff Dyer writes about Haruki Murakami's What Do I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

[Read the review]

My copy of the book is still stuck on the slow boat. *sigh*

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dwarf Hamsters Love

[from Cute Overload]

I used to breed Roborovski dwarf hamsters. I love waking every morning to see these little furballs cuddled up together in a moshpit just like the picture below.

[ Click to Enlarge ]

Friday, August 08, 2008

On NPR's 'You Must Read This' feature...

Siri Hustvedt talks about Nightwood:

But the wonder of Nightwood is not only stylistic. It lies in the range and depth of feeling the words convey. There is irony here and humor, too, but in the end, the novel is a hymn to the dispossessed, the misbegotten and those who love too much. At one time or another, I suspect that those adjectives describe most of us.

A part of me was amused by Djuna Barnes' reply to Siri Hustvedt's letter. It offered a shadow of a glimpse into the cryptic mind of Djuna Barnes - though it answered nothing about how she came to live and die a recluse, in a tiny apartment in Greenwich Village.

One afternoon, that same spring, I found myself sitting next to an elderly woman on the subway. She looked down at the volume in my lap, and said, "Oh, Djuna Barnes. I know her. Would you like to write to her?" She gave me the author's address, and I sat down to write a page-long testament to the power of Nightwood.

A year and a half later, I received a reply: "Your letter," Barnes wrote, "has given me great difficulty."

That was all. A couple of months later, I read in the newspaper that the 90-year-old Barnes was dead. I realized that her letter to me must have been one of the last things she wrote.

Sometimes it frustrates me to keep reading these tributes to books I want to read, but has yet to read.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Herodotus in a Flowered Shirt

Was just pointed to this New Yorker article on Herodotus:

Herodotus, by contrast, always seemed a bit of a sucker. Whatever his desire, stated in his Preface, to pinpoint the “root cause” of the Persian Wars (the rather abstract word he uses, aitiÄ“, savors of contemporary science and philosophy), what you take away from an initial encounter with the Histories is not, to put it mildly, a strong sense of methodical rigor. With his garrulous first-person intrusions (“I have now reached a point at which I am compelled to declare an opinion that will cause offense to many people”), his notorious tendency to digress for the sake of the most abstruse detail (“And so the Athenians were the first of the Hellenes to make statues of Hermes with an erect phallus”), his apparently infinite susceptibility to the imaginative flights of tour guides in locales as distant as Egypt (“Women urinate standing up, men sitting down”), reading him was like—well, like having an embarrassing parent along on a family vacation. All you wanted to do was put some distance between yourself and him, loaded down as he was with his guidebooks, the old Brownie camera, the gimcrack souvenirs—and, of course, that flowered polyester shirt.

Will continue reading The Histories this weekend - because right now, I have no time.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Random Patti Smith Post

Photo Credits: Annie Leibovitz

[ Photo by Annie Leibovitz]


From pattismith.net: coffeebreak dated 27 July 2008.

Patti Smith, on what she packed while in Europe:

Certain important things I placed in my shoulder sack: A small eighteenth century icon given to me by Edward Boyakov, wrapped in a length of brown linen. My passport and wad of Euros. A reporter style moleskin notebook, 3 packs of 667 Polaroid film, a worn copy of The Master and Margarita and a tin of aspirin.

Friday, August 01, 2008

'FESS UP FRIDAY | Reading Mrs Craddock

I can't wait for things to settle down soon. Hopefully that will mean some breathing space to actually get words down on the page. Or am I just making excuses for myself? I could probably write more if I can just stay off the internet, off Facebook.

I decided I do have time to go to the library this week. On a whim I just decided I need to read Louise Erdrich's The Plague of Doves. I have been meaning to read her books for years. The reviewers always praise her language, her distinct voice.

I've also finally picked up A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean, a book I have read about several years ago, but never found the time.

Most of all, I was seized with the need to read Mrs Craddock. For research, I tell myself. Mrs Craddock is Maugham's story of unequal love in a marriage.

How often do we fall in love - and realise the other party do not love us the way we would like them to?

Sharleen Spiteri Kicks Paris Hilton's Ass

Well, not literally. But Sharleen Spiteri is so cool!


The Tavern


All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that,
And I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I'll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I'm like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
But who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

This poetry. I never know what I'm going to say.
I don't plan it.
When I'm outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.

We have a huge barrel of wine, but no cups.
That's fine with us. Every morning
We glow and in the evening we glow again.

They say there's no future for us. They're right.
Which is fine with us.


~ Jalaluddin Rumi
Translation: Coleman Barks with John Moyne, 1995


[found this on 3quarksdaily]