Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Academic Writing Put to the Sword

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LINE6

…the sword of Damocles? No. The sword of Helen.  No – not that Helen. The Sword of Helen: Helen Sword. You ‘member! ‘Member?

I’ve come to realize that whether I like a book or not often depends on timing.  Is my book du jour a good fit for my current state of mind or not?  If it is, I may be more open to its positive qualities.  If it’s alien to my mood o’the day, it’s probably going to be extra critical and snarky.

Stylish Academic Writing is the perfect book for me to be reading right now.  I’m working on my graduate thesis and I need affirmation that I’m doing it right.  This book gives me just the affirmation that I need.  In addition to being a style guide, it’s also a book about research. 

I know:  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

But the thing is, Sword takes her own advice – writing clearly about complex things, and she managed to make her research sound interesting – to a person who is currently doing a lot of research.  I wonder how much I would have enjoyed reading Ch. 2 if I had just finished one of my umpteen papers that I’ve worked on these last two years.  Or if I didn’t have to do any at all!  Would I have shkipped it or admired the detail and moved on?

THIS BOOK IS WONDERFUL! GET IT! YOU CAN WRITE BETTER ACADEMIC PAPERS.

I’ll tell you this for free – romance novels where the couples are always at odds?  Tiresome and tedious.  But if you are going through the same thing?  You are SO buying it.  Buying into the catharsis of it all.  Maybe that’s why I’m enjoying Sword’s book so much.  She did way more research than I have, but I really feel the drudgery of  it — both hers and mine.  Catharsis makes the difference. 

A book doesn’t have to be a work of fiction for catharsis to be possible.  There’s a little discovery I’ve made for myself.  So timing seems to affect the quality of catharsis when you read something.  If you’re lucky enough to read something that meshes with your mindset perfectly, that’s beautiful!  If you read something that is so alien to your mindset, it might be worth considering reading it some other time.

Another example:  the novel Freedom and Death by Nikos Kazantzakiswas recommended to me by someone whom I thought was a kindred spirit, but who was really a vain, pretentious asshole.  So I was in a humbuggy mood when I read it.  Right off the bat – fault-finding.  Clumsy translation, dead-end scenes, trite male/female dynamics, etc.  Well, now it’s been a few years.  The asshole is history.  In light of what’s been going on in Egypt, I’m curious to give the novel another shot.  I think I may be able to find something in common with an ex-soldier whose life is an ill-fit and subsequently finds himself at odds with his environment.

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Button 3

Ending a cycle only to start a cycle

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BOOKS BOUGHT

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BOOKS READ

Simulations  by Jean Baudrillard

Classical English Rhetoric by Ward Farnsworth

Selected Poems of Thomas Hardy (Penguin Classics)

It’s not been a good reading time.  I’m going through things pretty slowly.  And I’ve given up trying to write during the day.  I’m too stressed out.  The writing bug stings at night.  After 8 p.m., a switch goes off in my head and I’m suddenly reading to the exclusion of all else or writing to the exclusion of all else.  I’m going to stop fighting it and arrange my priorities around the fact that night time is the write time.

There is a mildly Gallic flavor to my current crop of pulp.

Graduate school has really expanded my reading repertoire.  If you read my post on Barthes “The Pleasure of the Text”, then you will know my feelings on swampy translations of French philosophical prose.  However, Baudrillard’s collection of translated notes that make up Simulations has qualities that TPoTT does not, specifically, continuity, organization, essay format, and better sentence structure.  You get more out of each paragraph without a lot of apologizing about how no equivalent phrases exist in English that would do justice to French subtleties.  The down side is that the phrasing is often clunky.  The information is solid gold, but it’s raw, rough gold.

Object Lessons probably has the most subtitles of any book that I’ve ever seen. “Object Lessons” – The PARIS REVIEW Presents “The Art of The Short Story.”

Another gift from the Academia fairies is reading about rhetoric.  Those Greeks had a word for EVERYTHING!  When you overuse conjunctions, there’s a word for that.  When you leave out conjunctions, there’s a word for that.  When you repeat words, there’s a word for that.  When you repeat phrases, there’s a DIFFERENT word for that.  This pattern of repetition that I’m doing here – there’s a word for that!  So, so bitchin’ rhetoric!

I have high hopes for Stylish Academic Writing. Wisely, Sword points out in her book that “[a]ny of the ‘smart sentencing’ principles outlined in this chapter can, of course, be temporarily suspended for rhetorical effect.” (p. 59.)

My graduate thesis is on Thomas Hardy’s poetry, and I’ve been working with poems from the Penguin collection.  Hardy poetry is wonderfully easy to read, and has great depth in spite of the light lyric feel of his work.  No wonder T. S. Eliot was annoyed by him.  It was like Salieri and Mozart.

Bowerstock’s From Gibbon to Auden: Essays on the Classical Tradition.  The cover made me buy it.  Also, I like reading essays.  (…said no teacher ever! LOL!)  However, I feel like I’ve been played.  I should know better than to buy these professional collections.  I want to get published.  Maybe I should just gather a handful of essays, slap a cute title on it and declare myself a high-end scholar.  It’s such a racket.  It’s like when you buy those romance story omnibuses and one story is awesome.  One story is so-so.  The rest are crap.  But you paid for five stories and only one of them gives you your money’s worth.  I hope this book won’t be like that. 

 

Anthologies – A Good Way to Sell Crap Stories

Button 3 (lefty/skinny)

AIM FOR THE CHOPPING BLOCK

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Today, on the first day of the “winter” break, there’s much to be done.  Christmas cards. Dry cleaners.  Post office.  Groceries.  Arsenal vs. Man City rerun.  But the impulse to write hit me and all else fell away.  My body seems to know when it’s time to hit the keyboard.  Or mini-me (my mini-lappie) or even a notepad.  My body told me what to do today.  Specifically, it let me know that it was time to write about this book:The Writing Life

Some books are like jewels, like my “portable feasts” books.  This book is a perfect, sweet opal, full of charming vignettes.  But it’s so much more than charm.  It’s opalescent quality comes from these heartfelt, LIVED moments in real time.  Discoveries were made, analogies were generated, faith was lost, faith was restored.  Through it all, Dillard’s humor winks at us in daring and in cheekiness.  “Aim for the chopping block”, she writes.  The physical act is not the objective.  Write towards the vision. 

 

Once, in order to finish a book I was writing and yet not live in the same room with it, I begged a cabin to use as a study.  I finished the book there, wrote some other things, and learned to split wood.

Simple conversation, on the surface, but rub it a bit and wisdom shines through. 

(1) Living with writing: it’s a bit like having a child in the house – or a tenant.  Sooner, rather than later, they will need your undivided attention, no matter what else of import may be occurring.  You are the only one who can deliver that attention.  You can’t hand it off to a nanny or a text message.

(2)  Writing that occurs while you’re writing something else.  The entire time I was working on my last post, I was thinking about this one.  It’s awkward and annoying, but typical for me.  One idea begets another.  It’s actually one of the easier things to handle when writing for a specific objective.

(3)  “Learned to split wood”.  Mental links to physical.  Mental activity tied to physical activity.  That’s why writing and typing are so satisfying.  I’m thinking and generating and rehearsing and arguing.  In my head.  My body is washing dishes, ironing, grading papers, talking with someone.  Not always, mind you.  Sometimes I just plain close my eyes and rehearse something in my head, or play with shapes. 

The current’s got me.  Feels like I’m about in the middle of the channel now.  I just keep at it.  I just keep hoping the tide will turn and bring me in.

God, when I was writing my research paper on “The Dream of Gerontius” by Newman, this is what it felt like.  My vision had no shape, no objective other than to cram in other people’s thoughts and either agree or disagree. It was hard!  I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it.  But I just kept re-reading the poem – the sections where Gerontius or his soul were speaking.  Making comments about what certain lines sounded like, what they reminded me of.  I researched the Latin bits (the only part I truly enjoyed).  So my first, second, and third drafts sounded more like marginalia than erudite scholasticism.  But after about five pages of observations, translations, and kvetches, I had enough wood to grow a stump.  I saw a couple of different patterns I could exploit.  I started to chop some wood, aiming for the stump.  I managed a decent paper.  I tried to do right by the research process.  My insights were scholarly, if not very far-reaching. I was happy with the end product.  I had chopped enough wood.  But I never enjoyed it.  What I did enjoy were the small moments – a turn of phrase, the seamless fabric of quotes and original wording, shaping the vision, working with Latin.  Lots of swimming and a lucky tide.

The written word is weak.  Many people prefer life to it.  Life gets your blood going, and it smells good.  Writing is mere writing, literature is mere.

This is why people don’t like writing – because you can only be admired for it in hindsight.  Never while it’s happening.  While it’s happening, you are judged harshly for not doing something “active” and “useful”.  When it’s all done, though, the tune changes.  It’s a thing created.  After it’s done, it looks like it was work.  When you were working on it, you just looked lazy.  This is the exception to the rule that you can see more clearly from a distance.  Writing doesn’t look like much when it’s happening.  But if you could see inside the brain, you’d see  the synapses firing like crazy and blood flowing through the creative, then the analytical parts of the brain; one then the other then both.  In teaching, this is why non-English people have trouble taking writing seriously. 

You don’t realize how much work it is until you have to do it yourself.  Then you realize you can’t do it well; it’s not as easy as it looks, an denigrate it even more.  _____________________________________________________________

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Back to Nature–Books Whirlybinge

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My last post was in September.  I had just started graduate school, and since then, it’s been a “mad coupla months”!  Reading and writing for every book, for quizzes and tests. Abstracts, research papers, annotations. I love it!  Writing for school is kinda chill.  It satisfies a hunger that can’t be fed by anything material.  All the reading and writing works like Slick50 in my brain.  New words and ideas are firing sparks, making new connections – synapses snapping all day long in a jazzy funk rhythm that knows no time and no boundaries.  My mind is so active and firing on all pistons…

But it’s Christmas holidays now – what some people call “winter” break.  Qoi?  Brutha, pleez!  Down in South Texas, the kindest thing I can say is that it’s NOT 100 degrees F. 

So what’s my point? Where, even?  Well, I was writing an informal essay for every novel, interpreting Middle English, analyzing, synthesizing, assessing – the whole Bloom’s.  Writing for the blog seemed redundant.  Also, I wondered whether writing about the same book here and for class might create a conflict.  I knew in my heart, there would be a significant slip differential between how the work was represented for academic purposes and how I felt about it personally.  Case in point: PATTERN RECOGNITION by William Gibson.  The protagonist Cayce is ridiculously hip and cool in her anti-logo fetish, but the novel itself is well-boring. Snail’s pace. Grim, gray other-world that’s a cross between Graham Greene and Ray Bradbury, except not interesting.  But through academic eyes, it’s a disturbingly visionary story.  Cayce talks about people she doesn’t ever see, chats online with people she never sees but once or twice. Her life has almost nothing to do with human interaction and a lot to do with cyber-communication.  Are we headed there or are we already there?  Geddit?

So I let the blog go for the time-being.  But now that it’s the hols, let the variety begin!

BOOKS BOUGHT

Saturnalia, Volume I: Books 1-2 (Loeb Classical Library)[1] Lucian, Vol. 7: Dialogues of the Dead / Dialogues of the Sea-Gods / Dialogues of the Gods / Dialogues of the Courtesans (Loeb Classical Library, No. 4[2] Genealogy of the Pagan Gods, Volume 1: Books I-V (I Tatti Renaissance Library)[3]
Juvenal and Persius (Loeb Classical Library)[4] Boccaccio, Beauvau and Chaucer: Troilus and Criseyde : Four Perspectives on Influence[5] Days of Reading (Penguin Great Ideas)[6]
One Continuous Mistake : Four Noble Truths for Writers[7] How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students[8] The Consolation of Philosophy (Norton Critical Editions)[9]

 

[1]  I really enjoyed Somnium Scipionis which led me to pick up this SATURNALIA of Macrobius.   LINK to good online overview of this work.  I also have this Loeb by Cicero – De Officiis (Walter Miller, trans.).  LINK to online overview.

[2]  Effing Cool, Irresistible titles!

Product Details[3]  Again – Effing Cool Title. It’s early days but it’s sounding like a crosMs between Bullfinch’sMythology and Ovid’s Metamorpheses.  Loving it! (LINK to online version)  (Who the hell needs Effing SparkNotes for Bullfinch’s Mythology???)

 

[4]  My Medieval Lit prof talked about these satires and I had a Pavlovian reaction to the word “satire”.  That being, ears perk up, blood flows a little faster, I start thinking of clever wordplay, double-entendres, taking the piss, etc.  I shan’t rule out a touch of salivating. (UofMichigan Collection)  I finished reading the six Juvenal satires and, while there was a strong odor of whingeing, the translation was accomplished with a good ear for standup comedy.  Very Lewis Black in nature.

image[5]  4 Perspectives on Troilus and Criseyde.  Pure intellectual spelunking. Highbrow fun.  It reads like the author’s doctoral dissertation, though. What a wonderful advantage to be able to do research in more than one language.  For all that English is wonderfully comprehensive, I now feel incomplete that I can’t read German or Italian well enough (yet) to do more thorough research in Medieval literature. (LINK to online version) My favorite version of T&C is George Phillip Krapp’s rendition in verse.  It’s out of print, but I managed to find a copy through www.ebay.com

[6]   Ahhh, Proust. You most nerdy of nerds. Is there a French word for “nerd”?  Do the French even need one?  You might think not, but then again, Franck Ribery.  C’est une tare’.  Une grosse dinde. 

Product Details[7]  I actually ordered this book in 2009 on the recommendation of my student teacher that semester.  I lent it to a friend because I started reading the other book that ordered with it.  Haven’t seen it since but it’s cool.  That’s a good sign, I think. Beautiful cover design. Very easy to read. It’s kind of like A Writing Life by Annie Dillard.  It just has that kind of “become one with the pencil” kind of vibe.  It’s actually a great apologia for writing, as is Dillard’s book.

[8]  Not here yet

[9] Not here yet.

BOOKS READ

A Writing Life (Annie Dillard)

One Continuous Mistake

Satires of Juvenal and Persius

Navarro’s Promise  (Lora Leigh)

Geneology of The Pagan Gods

Pattern Recognition (William Gibson)

“Simulacra and Simulations” by Jean Baudrillard (Chapter 7 of Baudrillard’s Selected Writings, Mark Poster, ed.)

Romance Reading Timeline 1970s Pt. 2

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<1970s Pt. 1

Small-Scale Historicals

Ian McCorquodale and Barbara Cartland

Barbara Cartland Bantam Books series

This series came after the Pyramid series below.  They are a scaled-down version of the more dramatic Pyramid books.  Cartland was still holding strong for the first twenty or so, but then she started relying heavily, then exclusively on stock characters (the Mr. Rochester-style hero), and phrases (the stuttering ingenue).  Then she switched to Camden publishers, and at that point, she was too tedious to bother with anymore.  She even had an extra series where she …well, I don’t know what she did, but she basically re-packaged romances written by other people, Elinor Glyn, for example.  Still not sure what that was about.  

I love the covers on these. They begged to be collected, what with the numbers and the artwork.  I think the same guy posed for most of these covers. A tall, black-haired, hawk-faced man.  Who is this guy???  He’s awesome!  And he always looked brooding.  The heroine always looked like she just discovered there’s no bathroom and she’s been holding it in for hours.

I read all of these and about a dozen more besides.  It seems like more than that because I read them more than once.

Product Details
My 1st B. Cartland. I still have it!  Magical! Still take this out to read sometimes.
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I still take this one out sometimes, too. A feel-good book.
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Great story and educational, too.  I think.
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Awful! Hokey logic. I think it contained some local pidgin.
The Little Adventure (The Bantam Barbara Cartland Library #3)
This was #3 of the series and BC was at her peak, I believe.
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Different!  The first romance I ever read that was from the man’s point of view.
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Not bad.   I remember liking it. I remember thinking that I didn’t know farmers in France also wore wooden shoes.
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Did not read it, but it was an awful tv movie with Linda Purl.

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Dull yet enjoyable. Formula writing with lots of stock phrases.

Passions in the Sand (Barbara Cartland #41)

This one was kind of hot. Shocking!

Love in the Dark

She started out as Rubenesque, but then slimmed down by the time he got his sight back.

Man and Maid (Library of Love, Bk 10)

BC did not write this but she re-packaged it.

 

Barbara Cartland Pyramid Books Series

Several of these were in my mom’s closet.  After I read DESIRE OF THE HEART, I went through that closet obsessively and found a handful more.  They kept me busy for many a weekend for a couple of years – because I read them over and over and over.  I was coming into my hormones at the time. LOL Princess

These came before the Bantam series.  They are more fully developed as novels. Cartland was in her prime with this series.  There was some repetition, but she used several time frames in this series, ranging from Elizabethan to the 1930s.  If you can get hold of these, they are very good!  You can even pick up a bit of French in many of them.

Desire of the Heart

The 2nd BC I read after THE CRUEL COUNT. I was well and truly hooked! This is one of the best of this line.

Love in Hiding

The Wings of Love (Pyramid #25)

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The Coin of Love

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This one was made into a tv movie with Hugh Grant, Emma Samms and Lysette Anthony.
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  • The covers that are flush left will take you to Paperbackswap.  The covers that are centered will link you to www.amazon.com, but you can also find some at www.ebay.com. Also be careful because several of these are listed as lots (a group of books) and the cover may not be representative of what you’re actually buying. 
  • Other books that were made into movies were
    • Duel of Hearts
    • A Ghost in Monte Carlo
    • A Hazard of Hearts
    • The Secret Heart (Cupid Rides Pillion) (The Lady and The Highwayman)

    A Hazard of Hearts

    Original edition

    A Ghost In Monte Carlo

    Original edition

    Product DetailsOriginal edition
     
    DVD with Helena Bonham-Carter and Marcus Gilbert

    Item image

    Video availability on eBay

    Product DetailsThe Lady & the Highwaymanvideo availability

    A Hazard of Hearts

    paperback tie-in

    A Ghost in Monte Carlo

    paperback tie-in

    Could not find a book tie-in.

    A Duel of Hearts

    Original edition

    Product Details
    Only American video available
    Could not find a book tie-in.

Reading these was like eating potato chips.  I could read 3 in a weekend. 4 if I stayed up late enough.  You have to understand: there were only four channels on tv. ABC, CBS, NBC, KLRN. Maybe one or two Mexican channels. And if you were lucky, HBO.  Weekends were cartoons, American Bandstand, then sports until prime time.  So not a whole lot going on during the day.  Hence reading.  In a chaotic, crowded house, reading meant peace.  Reading meant solitude.  Reading and being in the bathroom were the only two ways to be left alone.

The Pyramid series were broad-spectrum adventures without being vulgar.  That’s probably why some of those were developed into movies.  Only one Bantam book was made into a movie and it sucked.  Plus, I loved reading about “somewhere else”.  Castles, mountains, oceans, Monsieur Worth!  The clothes!!!  It wasn’t a Cartland romance without a visit to the most famous dressmaker to the ton, Monsieur Worth! That’s where she would get super descriptive and it was all like a dream!  Seamstresses fluttering about you like butterflies while Worth himself directed your transformation.  I WANT THAT!  LOL! Flirt female 

The Bantam series were sweet and intimate.  There was a lot of conversation in them. Real conversations.  In one of my favorites, THE LITTLE ADVENTURE, the heroine shocks the hero by her knowledge of philosophers and how much she’s read. They actually discuss it. Wow!  Also, the bad guys were never super bad.  They were just sexist assholes.  That’s another thing – Cartland often wrote heroines as seekers of independence – daring, stubborn; remarkably clever and well-read.  Well done Dame Barbara!  Unfortunately, it was always seen as unusual and even anarchic. 

In both series, you could pick up some of the European languages that Cartland peppered her prose with.  Growing up in a bilingual household, I picked up words like monsieur, signore, vicomte, signorina, ton, demimonde, demimondaine, citron presse, cher amie, mademoiselle…well, you get the idea. Princess  I loved all that! (If my spelling is off, please forgive.)  How hilarious is that!  I didn’t know French, per se, but I knew, like, five words for “whore” in two languages!  LOL!  It made for weird conversations at school when I tried to use them, though.  My friends were not reading these books, so I sounded kind of weird compared to the typical pimply patois of adolescence.

Cartland was nothing if not consistent in her character development.  The blueprint for girls was skinny, pale, huge eyes, birdlike physique. And skinny. Real skinny. And really BIG eyes.  Just look at the covers, especially the Bantam series.  The men: tall, broad, dark hair, dark skin (hardly any fair-haired men or ginger), hawk nose or straight Roman nose.  Hawt!!  Sorry…  She’s an innocent, ignorant virgin; he’s a bastard who frequents brothels.  She softens him up, but he doesn’t show it in front of her until one of them is near death.  We’re talking about a couple hundred books made with this erector set.  Don’t be impressed by her Guinness Book of World Records record (top-selling author in 1983 according to Wikipedia).  Most of the books were half-ass regurgitations of stock gimmicks.

When I was 13, I took them WAY too seriously! LOL. Now, I read them as sweet antique pieces of a world of manners we’ll never see ever again.


This video from Little Britain has Matt Lucas as a Barbara Cartland-type author – Dame Sally Markham.

Click for Little Britain online. But it has not been kept up very well. You’re better off going to BBC Comedy.

 


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Champion’s League Saturday & I’m A Believer

As I watch the Champion’s League final on Fox Deportes, I’m alternately crying and cheering. Crying because of the emotional overload of this tremendous event taking place in a tremendous venue – New Wembley – between two tremendous teams – ManYoo and Barcelona (not “Barca-lona, as their nickname suggests) – playing a tremendous game.  I’m cheering because, in spite of my love for Chicharito, I want Barcelona to win.  And at 64 minutes in, Barca is ahead 2-1.  VIVA BARCELONA!

But the game ain’t over yet.  The two teams are countering each other’s moves.  The Red Devils haven’t been able to score in about 15 minutes so they are getting desperate.  Angry Reds are a bad sign.  After a pristine first half, they already have two yellow cards for dirty tackles.  Poor Iniesta.  He’s been tumbled like  jumper in a dryer twice already.  All because he had possession of the ball.  Go fig…

MINUTE 69-ISH! DAVID VILLA SCORES! BARCELONA 3. UTD 1! HOLY F*&^!

If Manchester doesn’t score soon, someone may do something stupid and get sent off.

But I digress…

Went to Barnes & Noble in Edinburg, Texas. It’s like the Wal-Mart of bookstores.  They had a large children’s section, a whole big section for YA books which resembled the library of a psychiatric  hospital (most of the inventory was books about traumas and vampires. )

Antonio Valencia and Ryan Giggs reverting to form, i.e., when they are not winning, they turn into whinging brats who have to break what they cannot have.

Back…

They also had a nice DVD/CD shop. I wonder what’s better – lots of little mom and pop shops where you can find obscure books as well as popular titles or one big paperback-only mega-mart that specializes in the friggin’ obvious.  Take that home, chew it. Talk amongst yourself. [sic].

INJURY TIME! STILL 3-1!!!

BARCELONA BARCELONA BARCELONA BARCELONA

BARCELONA BARCELONA

THEY DID IT AGAIN! THEY BEAT MAN UTD AGAIN! IN THE CHAMPIONS’ LEAGUE FINAL – AGAIN!

Scholes traded shirts with Iniesta. Cool.  Chicha looks on the verge of tears.  Everybody wants a piece of Messi.  Man of the Match is MESSI.  They won without their man mountain Carlos Puyol.  Pep is HOT HOT HOT! And a little bow-legged. Cute!

Barca honor guard for ManLoser.  I love all the ceremonies before and after a game. You never get those with American coverage.  You only get them on Latin American coverage. So here’s a plug for Fox Deportes. Ustedes chavos son lo maximo! As per usual, American Fox is on commercial.  All those multi-millionaires in suits pawing the players as they walk past would give up every Euro to be a Messi or Abidal or Villa right now!

30 SECONDS INSIDE PEP’S HEAD: “note to self: do NOT let Piquet carry the trophy on the parade bus.

Wales just beat Northern Ireland in a Euro-prep friendly.  Too bad it all means nothing.

RainbowOkay, half an hour of on-pitch celebrations is winding down. I can’t get enough of that stuff. But back to the issues at hand.  Those issues being:

  1. 442 #203 with the droolicious Andy Carroll on the cover and the cute but slightly dim Uruguayan weasel Luis Suarez. um…oh, and a couple of freeloaders in the back. (What! I can’t have an opinion!)
  2. CHAMPIONS #46 with (My Name Is) Luka Modric on the cover, looking very Kate Moss-y.
  3. POETS  & WRITERS May/June.  Theme: Writing Contests.  JACKPOT!
  4. PARABOLA “Giving and Receiving”
  5. THE BELIEVER #80 Celebratory issue. My idol Nick Hornby’s column.  He changed my reading life for the better!
  6. A FROZEN FIRE by Charlotte Lamb
  7. PORTRAIT OF BETHANY by Anne Weale
  8. And a book from my wish list – AN ILLUSTRATED LIFE.

BOOKS READ ~~~

  1. NAUTI DECEPTIONS
  2. NAUTI AND WILD (“Nauti Kisses”)
  3. A FROZEN FIRE
  4. A WRINKLE IN TIME
  5. AN ILLUSTRATED LIFE

AIL is wonderful!  It’s a bit cofffee table-ish, but truly amazing in its scope. The variety of art that you see, the innumerable design and comp0sition concepts are inspiring.  Some are even a little scary – like the artist that covers his pages in writing. OCD much? It breaks my heart that I am not an artist when I see how much more interesting their journals look than mine. Disappointed smileComputer

ND and NK are Lora Leigh’s stories about “Rogue Walker” and her brother “John, Jr.” from Boston. Hmmm…

This is my fourth reading of ND and my second or third of NK.  What has brought me back to ND is that it’s the most romantic book since HARMONY’S WAY.  It still has a lot of sturm und drang, but it has those quiet moments where it’s just the two of them finding ways to connect without a lot of shouting. Rogue makes Zeke laugh. I think that’s what draws me to this story.  And that thing where she would call him for rides was too adorable!

It has way way WAY too much swearing.  That does get in the way sometimes.  The brother’s book, too. John, for all his polished ways, swears like a stevedore. It sounds gratuitous more often than not. His story I do not like as much. He’s an asshole.  “Sierra”, who is often described as “tiny” to the point that I think  she’s actually a toddler, is bruised and sore and traumatized. What’s John’s answer? Arouse her and have sex with her. Oh yeah, that’s JUST what she needs when she’s sleep-deprived and in pain after a near-fatal assault.  That is some messed-up logic right there.  Why not make her do dishes and vacuum while you’re at it.

A FROZEN FIRE is a Harlequin Presents from 1980.  I remember it being a particular favorite.  It made me want to go to York in England.  Gist: a nice woman and her husband’s boss fall in love.  The husband, who’s a scum-on-scum, figures it out and makes trouble.  You really believe the love in this story.  The anger doesn’t smother everything.

A WRINKLE IN TIME should be read by everybody.  It’s a masterpiece of communication and imagination.  Plus, it’s a super sci-fi book, if you need a more earth-bound reason to justify it.

So far I have only read Nick Hornby’s column.  It’s funny and self-deprecating in that charming way that Hornby is. I hope his missus thinks so, too. Winking smile

 

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(Sample cover/this is not the one I bought)
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this is a crop of the issue I bought.  UEFA CL page

 

 

Done to Death: Rice’s Wildfire All Fizzle-No Sizzle

Hotter Than Wildfire: A Protectors Novel: Delta Force (Protectors: Delta Force)zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…  

So sad.  So much potential.  I was looking forward to this story so much.  And it was a yawnfest!   Harry Bolt is way hot. Eve is gorgeous, but looks too much like “Tehya Talamosi” of Lora Leigh’s LIVE WIRE. But this book is so dull, so unoriginal, so uninspired that I sent it back to Amazon when I finished it. And Eve was way WAY too impressed with Nicole’s looks.

All Rice’s novels are sounding the same. She’s running her formula into the ground. Reminds me of Dara Joy and the other very good writer who’s books are sounding tired and stale. ”

The nicest thing I can say about this book is that Harry is amazing-looking and there were not the grammatical and spelling errors you find by the dozen in Leigh’s current crop.

Speaking of…I’ve just seen on Amazon that they re-released the original Matrix of Destiny novels on May 25 of last year – with bargain-basement non-art, model-less covers.  Sheesh!  This is one of the best romance series ever!  However, the words “pan” and “flash” leap rather prominently to mind.

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Product DetailsThe first of the series.  It’s pretty decent.

2008 WISH LIST TRACKBACK

 What I eventually acquired: 

Product DetailsWhy I Write
Product DetailsDangerous Secrets
Product DetailsThe Learned Banqueters
Product DetailsRescue Me
Product DetailsTrick of The Tale
Product DetailsNot Quite What I Was Planning
Product DetailsGone To New York
Product DetailsHardcover version of THE ILIAD
Product DetailsMulticultural Manners

Before Rosetta Stone–Languages Made Simple

  • Russian Made Simple
  • German Made Simple
  • Latin Made Simple

Wow! These books are awesome! I was reading short Russian words in just five pages. Wow!  How does it sound? Hmmm…well…dunno, but it’s fun anyway.  These books are such an old- school way to learn a language, but so what.  I’m learning to read them.  The rest will come soon enough.  They were free (except for the German one) so no harm, no foul. 

I don’t remember where I got the Latin one.  It’s been with me for a few years.  I think I took it from my parent’s house.  Or, given all the time I spent in used book stores when I lived in San Antonio, maybe I got it there.  The Russian book I found in a table of throw-aways  at the local uni. It’s ancient, which is part of its charm, actually.  The pages are so yellow, they are russian made simple0001ready to disintegrate if I even breathe on them.

How do they make the languages simple?  Well, they feed you little bits at a time.  The Russian book starts with sight words – three and four letter words for basic things like “classroom”, “home”, “hall”, “vase”.  Then the sight words build into short phrases, then long phrases. I’m reading Russian phrases (with translation) by page five!

The German and Latin are easier to sound out.  I speak Spanish, so I just pronounce Latin like Spanish.  I know it’s not how it really sounds, but who among us is old enough to prove me wrong.  Just listen to Eddie Izzard:

Product DetailsI don’t know what it is about German, but when I’m pronouncing it, my voice gets deeper.  And the book contains diagrams showing how certain sounds should be shaped in the mouth.  Ummm…fine.  I can’t wait to lay it on my students that EVERY noun is capitalized, not just the proper ones and the ones at the beginning of sentences.  Hahahee!  And I solved the mystery of “DIE”, “DER” and “DAS”, as well as what the heck “Flemish” is.  Having never been to Flemland, it was confusing.

I’ve listened to Eddie Izzard’s DEFINITE ARTICLE for several years now.  So when I came latin made simple0001across the Latin book, I now had a tangible reason for reading it instead of just leaving it in a box.  While I read the book, I would picture “Mr. Dog” talking to his centurions with a poncy intonation while they swish the toothbrushes on their heads.    No doubt if there was a “Greek Made Simple” book, I’d be thinking about his bit from SEXIE where Medusa goes to the hairdressers – or the bit where the sirens lure sailors with songs about very good parking spaces.  I wish I WAS exaggerating!  The real treat: the Latin book goes great with my Loeb Latin Classics. 

The Latin book still has the bookstore label on it.  Amazingly, the book was originally purchased in 1985 at a bookstore that I actually used to frequent when I lived in San Antonio in the 90s.  Hang on – I guess that means I got it at a used bookstore and not from my mum’s house.  Okay. Just figured that out.  Writing things out is so clarifying!

back of latin0001

So anyway, purchased from Bookstop at Sunset Ridge, which was in Alamo Heights, a shabby genteel part of town.  I shopped there in the 90s, but the store closed around the time that Barnes & Noble came to town and started building book supermarkets.  Yep, B&N, for all their charms, pretty much killed the neighborhood book store in San Antonio.  Mega-marts of any kind are a sign of social and commercial  progress – apparently.

Back to Russian, I watched Boris Gudonov on public television’s live Met series last weekend.  I was trying to catch words, but I think I need to get further along in the book.  Nothing in the music sounded familiar.  Die Walkure is coming up in May so I should brush up on my Deutsch.  Opera is actually a good way to learn the lingo if the subtitles are in the original language.  Everyone seems to think they are singing about quantum mechanics and epistemology.  What they are really singing about is more like stuff you would hear on the O.C. or OTH with a bit of Smallville mixed in for pathos.

So anyway, these books are an old-fashioned way to learn a language.  But ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.  There’s plenty of dictionaries on the ‘net where they will pronounce the word for you.

 


Nibelungenlied

A New Ring for The Met

P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations


National Public Radio

Join the Campaign to Save Public BroadcastingAG00021_

170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting

Save Public Broadcasting — Tax Big Business Instead!

Swetergrl’s Theory of Condensed Matter

BOOKS BOUGHT

 

The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers

Teutoburg Forest AD 9: The destruction of Varus and his legions (Campaign)

Fragments (Penguin Classics) (English and Greek Edition)

Teach Yourself VISUALLY Access 2010 (Teach Yourself VISUALLY (Tech))

English Words

Guys Read: Funny Business

I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure

 

BOOKS READ/READING

 

Prometheus Bound/ Loeb Classic LIB/Aeschylus

Prometheus Unbound/NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE

McSweeney’s Book of Poets Picking Poets  

Sol Stein on Writing

Remembrance of Things Past

King Arthur and His Knights of The Round Table (Puffin Classics edition)

Conquest

 

Anyone who’s ever been to college could recognize a Norton from twenty paces.  Books four and five inches thick with onion skin paper and teeny-weeny eyestrain-o-vision print set wall to wall with text.  Anything written by T. S. Eliot or using images from Greek mythology was bloated with annotation (Percy Shelley).  Those symbolist poet bastards!  Ezra Pound? Three lines of poetry and the rest of the page is annotation.  Those were the ones to avoid if you could. Me? I used to get a kick out of finding those pages where tiny fairy print was 7/8 of the page. I don’t know why that tickled me so much. Then as you go farther into the modern writers, the annotations decrease exponentially.  Is it because they have ceased drawing from Classical sources? Is the imagery too obvious? Does our shared history make annotation unnecessary?

 

The problem with Norton is that one volume is not enough.  They should probably go to three volumes and make students take three semesters of English Lit, three of American and three of World.  In a pinch, let them chose between English and World. World is more depressing, though.  Rilke, Camus, Kafka, Chekov, Proust.  Oy!  English Lit is downright chirpy compared to Proust and Kafka.  Kafka probably thinks Proust is an optimist. 

 

On the subject of English Lit, I am distressed as a human being and as a teacher that my students have no knowledge of Robin Hood and King Arthur.  No thing! Nada.  Zero.  Zilch.  Keiner.  The foundational characters of our language, going back even before Chaucer.  As far as I know, they are no longer taught.  So I’ve done my de rigeur Morte by Malory, but now I’m reading Roger Lancelyn Green’s kiddie version from Puffin Classics.  I also have a Reader’s Digest Condensed Books version of, I think, Malory’s.  The PC version moves fairly swiftly from story to story.  The thing is, lots of connective tissue is excised in order to keep the story moving.   Merlin tells King Arthur that if he marries Guinevere, he will hasten the end of his reign and the end of Britain as he knows it. War will be fought over her honor.  People – good and faithful knights – are going to die because marriage to her will set them both up to be shamed.  Okay. Something to think about. Yet, in this version, Arthur’s response is, essentially, “Yeah, but she’s hot.  I love her.”  Ooooooooh, weeeeeeeeellllllll aaaaaaaaaaallllrighty then! 

 

Seriously though, Robin Hood and King Arthur should be taught still.  What they represent is still important.  National unity, justice, honor, high ideals, doing for others, striving.  Do we not need them now?  Are not our children’s spirits starved for these high ideas whose words do not even appear in their vocabularies?  Do they mention honor and justice in the Harry Potter books?  Do they mention them in the Twilight books?  In Goosebumps?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  Any honor to be found in a vampire is strictly deus ex machina. If they are not to be taught anymore, do we have something better?

 

What led me to the Norton was my LOEB Aeschylus.  I picked up Prometheus Bound  on a lark because my classes are reading the pantheon stories.  Most of them are reading these stories for the first time – at 13-14 years old. Sad.  Sad.  Sad.  So I’m reading it and liking it more and more as I go along.  It’s a fantastic, fantastical story.  Pro talks about geography and history.  When he was talking about Io and her life as a heifer, he beautifully describes her journey across what is now eastern Europe and northern Asia and how her journeys influenced the development of those areas.  For example, Io crossed a river that eventually became the Bosphorous.  Is that why we call cows “Bossie”?  Just thinking aloud.  Hold your tomatoes.

 

So PB led me to Prometheus Unbound.  It seemed the obvious thing to do.  Percy Shelley’s long poem is a re-telling of PB in the form of a drama written as a poem.  Stylistically, Percy lays it on with a trowel. 

 

Misery, O misery to me,

That Jove at length should vanquish thee.

Wail, howl, aloud, Land and Sea.

The Earth’s rent heart shall answer ye.

 

Shelley is a poet’s poet.  He knows what he do.  If you can get past the bombast and the treacly text, it’s actually quite easy to understand, which is great because PU covers a lot of territory in history, geography, mythology, politics, and philosophy.

 

In the poetry vein, the McSweeney’s book is a sweet book of poetry.  It’s a bit oversized for a vade mecum but it’s good reading when you’re waiting in line somewhere.  It’s chains of poetry linked by the whims of the contributors.  First, McSweeney chooses a poet and poem.  Then the chosen one chooses another one of their own and a poem by another poet.  The “another” choses one of their own, and one by another “another”.  I’m not sure I have the math right, but it ends up being a chain of five poets per group.  Anyway, it explains it the “About This Book” on page iii.  It’s almost like Grammar B poetry.  Rhyme is kind of scarce.  But there is rhythm and concrete imagery and symbolism.  Most of the poems are moody yet energetic, clever yet plain.  Most of the titles are boring, but who reads poems for titles.

 

Sol Stein on Writing.  Awesome! Get it!  Don’t be a writer without it.

 

Remembrance of Things Past.  Oh my freaking Gawd! I’m on page 114 and every sentence but 3 are like 70, 80, 90 words long. WTF!  If you’re looking for a reason to hate the French, this one will do nicely.  Labyrinthine sentences that snake across the page word after word slithering through your right brain as your left brain stands to one side making sure every word is accounted for entangle you in the life of a young boy who, sadly, spent waaaaaaay to much time alone in the same way that the lady in “The Yellow Wallpaper” spent too much time alone and ended up trying to insinuate herself into said wallpaper, instead of going outside to play because he was smothered by concern and reverse hypochondria wherein his parents always thought he was sickly.  So, yeah. Like that.  Page after page after page of diarrheic introspection.  The diary from hell!

 

I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets:  No surprise there you whinging, melodramatic, gadget-fixated, anti-intellectual namby-pamby cry-baby.  Get a job or get an education. Make yourself useful then maybe you’ll be able to keep secrets instead of crying into your Red Bull and vodka that life is not fair and that you’re expected to contribute to this planet instead of bitching about how nothing is free. 

 

Conquest:  So much promise before you open the book. So much suckage after.  So many jumping off points that went nowhere.  The Khan-Gor legend which has now claimed two brides from the house of Q’an Tal. Stories of characters left untold.  It has – if you’ll pardon the expression – petered out. This collection sucks like a Hoover on crack.  The stories and characters were flaccid. (Ooooh, naughty!)

 

 

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