Monday, June 30, 2008

Sieben Lieder

Tagged by Q.

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 summer. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.

1. "Breakable" - Ingrid Michaelson

2. "You Can Breathe" - Jack's Mannequin

3. "Comptine D'un Autre Été - L'Après-Midi" - Yann Tiersen

4. "Let's Dance to Joy Division" - The Wombats

5. "Sleep" - Azure Ray

6. "Paris" - Yael Naïm

7. "Have a Little Faith in Me" - John Hiatt

Jess and Cassandra, you're it!

(Wie ihr sieht, fange ich nicht heute an, auf Deutsch zu schreiben [hier sehen] sondern morgen - ich dachte, es hätte keinen Sinn, die Anweisungen zu übersetzen, wenn ihr sie schon auf Englisch gelesen habt.)

(As you see, I am not beginning to write in German today [see here], rather tomorrow - I figured there was no point in translating the instructions when you had already read them in English.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

A window pushed high as it would go

Sometimes I understand the third stanza of this poem, and sometimes I don't. I love the picture that the second stanza creates, and I think the last stanza is just brilliant. Often when I write, "What he said..." I finish the sentence in my head with the last lines of this poem.

What He Said to His Enemies
He could hear them off in the forest,
massive branches breaking:
You are no good, will never be any good.

Sometimes they followed him,
rubbing out his tracks.
They wanted him to get lost
in the world of trees,
stand silently forever, holding up his hands.

At night he watched
the street lamp's light
soaking into his lawn.
He could bathe in its cool voice,
roll over to a whole different view.
What made them think
the world's room was so small?

On the table he laid out his clothes,
arranging the cuffs.
What he said to his enemies
was a window pushed high as it would go.
Come in, look for me where you think
I am. Then when you see no one is there,
we can talk.

- Naomi Shihab Nye

The poetry round-up is at Biblio File.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Welche 말읕 soll ich choisir?

[Okay, sorry, that was dumb.]

Language Week! Admittedly, I'd never heard of it before yesterday, but apparently it's a blogging thing which is next week. Rules here. So next week I'll be blogging in Other Languages! German, with maybe a wee bit of French. Translations will be included. Or maybe translating will be what I do. We'll see. Should be great fun! Just so you know, it definitely doesn't require fluency, and the rules are quite flexible, so check it out if it sounds at all interesting, and let me know if you decide to participate!

One more thing I need to grouch about a little. Yesterday I was bored, so I watched a movie in ten-minute segments on YouTube. A long movie. And you know what I found out at the very end, after more than two hours of getting emotionally involved? The video that was supposed to contain the last ten minutes of the movie, in which everything was resolved, was instead just the credits. Deprived of a dénouement by a devious YouTuber, ugh. If you think the moral of this story is, Do not watch movies on YouTube, you can keep your wisdom to yourself. ;) Just kidding.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New journal

I took an old composition notebook partially filled with U.S. History notes, covered the front and back up to the binding tape and edges with pictures, taped over them with packaging tape to keep them from peeling off or getting scratched or torn, and voila, new journal.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Solstice!

Midsummer, the longest day of the year, the first day of summer - isn't it beautiful? We get nearly seventeen hours of daylight here in San Francisco today! You can find out the time of the sunrise and sunset where you live on this website. I celebrated by waking up early to watch the sun rise from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Before sunrise...

The bridge was nearly empty of cars.

You can see downtown here.

The small, pale moon was setting in the west between the bridge cables as the sun rose.

The sun appeared above the hills of the East Bay around 5:48 am.

After the sun had risen.

Driving around the empty streets and walking in the gentle morning air made me think of that scene in the movie adaptation of Tuck Everlasting where Jesse Tuck wakes Winnie up early to go out in the woods "while the day is still ours."

I understand what he meant. The streets and sky really felt like they belonged to me, so empty and wide and lovely. I went out on my bike a little while after we got back, and I didn't have to use my brakes at all because there were almost no cars; I just ripped down the hills and through all the intersections. Gorgeous. :) Perhaps I will get into the habit of waking up early more often!

P.S. Oh, and it's also the Day of the Finnish Flag! Go Finns!

P.P.S. Watch out for fairy mischief tonight.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Poetry is the new (counting) sheep

Some poem-like phrases have been nudging me lately as I fall asleep. I assembled them into two poems - this one is the more coherent, in my opinion.

Falling AsleepWhen tiredness overtakes me,
I become a mage, and this my place of power.
I pull the covers over my head,
And with darkness neatly collapse the universe around the space I occupy,
Pin my throbbing brain inert inside my skull,
And disprove the hand held up to my face.
With stillness, I transform my limbs into heavy memories of motion, weights quiet as ghosts,
And wait for them to vanish.
Having disposed of my body and my surroundings,
All that remains is to wait for the unruly flock of my thoughts to choose a dreamward direction,
Wait for them to disappear, one by one, gathered in by gentle tentacles of nonsense -
These are the only animals I count.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Just in case I haven't inundated you with enough giveaways recently

But you know, you are my cherished readers, and if there are good books out there to be had for free, I want you to know too. :) Not one, but two bloggers are giving away five copies each of The Adoration of Jenna Fox, here and here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Well, I'm pretty sure they didn't have strapless gowns in 1899...

The first photo, from Chris Nicholls's "An English Rose" [via {this is glamorous}], reminded me right away of the cover photo of The Luxe.

Giveaway alerts! Stephenie Meyer books and paraphernelia here, Nefertiti (which I've never heard of, but it sounds good - and I've never really gotten over my childhood Egypt obsession - anyone else have that phase?) here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sleeping with books under my pillow

Saturday I read a book in which the protagonist and her sisters were models (Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen). Yesterday I fell asleep reading a novel about a high schooler who becomes a model. And I dreamed my sister and I became models

Sometimes my dreams make decent sense like that.

Although it ended with me rummaging frantically through dozens of shoe racks in my church's parking garage, trying to pick out the right pair of shoes before the army of cockroaches — whose hideous marching feet I could hear approaching through the walls — arrived.

Which sounds rather like fodder for a dreadcrumbs story to me.

My dear friend and future roomie started a blog last week, Musings of a Chronic Rambler. If you are interested in an smart, honest, and slightly irreverent take on various issues and aspects of the modern church, the Bible, and just being young and Christian, I recommend her blog.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Here's to interlibrary loans

You know those times when it seems like everyone with a book/-ish blog is reading and loving the same book? I never get that book until several months after the initial hype has passed.

This time, it's A Curse Dark as Gold - although, okay, I got it a bit quicker by sending for it from the Sacramento library system. If you are like me and don't have a library that gets new books on the shelf a week after they're released - I swear there can be a four-month gap between my library ordering a book and it becoming available - or a sweet hookup that gets you Most Wanted ARCs in enviable numbers...I offer my shoutout to you here.

Anyways, thoughts and impressions thus far:

- Charlotte's foppish uncle is annoying and worrying me. He and Charlotte remind me of Cezar and Jena from Wildwood Dancing. Does evil lurk under his obnoxious exterior? I think maybe so.

- I like Rosie very much. Also Harte.

- I'm expecting that all their efforts to keep the mill afloat will fail so that they can be desperate enough for their run-in with the Rumpelstiltskin character, whenever he shows up. But the book's still sucking me into believing and hoping that maybe, maybe all their hard work will come to fruition...

- Mr. Woodstone. Why is everything important about him so nice and likeable? I'm scared, and kind of bracing myself for it all turning out to be a mindscrew. Protect me, pessimism!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A fairy tale fashion shoot

Beautiful, no? Though some are rather bizarre. By Eugenio Recuenco.

The first one is Puss in Boots, and that one with the painting (I guess they didn't want to spring for an ugly male model, heh) is supposed to be Beauty and the Beast, if they puzzled you.

edit: A commenter points out that the one with the painting could be Bluebeard instead.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Here be rabid on yer guard

Anilee just covered the irritating habits of a peculiar critter called the Inheritance fan, and I had to add one observation: When faced with an attacking critic, one of the hardcore fan's last resorts is to sputter, "Chris was only fifteen when he wrote Eragon! Give him a break!" (Or, even worse, "I'd like to see you write a book that good as a fifteen-year-old!" Ad hominem, anyone?)

First of all, it is simply untrue that Christopher Paolini wrote Eragon at age fifteen. The back jacket flap of any copy of the book will tell you as much. He began writing Eragon when he was fifteen, and Eragon was not self-published by Paolini's family until Christopher was eighteen, in 2002. And the version that's on the market now? That is the product of another round of editing, and didn't come out until he was closer to twenty.

Does it really matter, though? Well, I would like to see the rabid fans get their facts right, but no, in the end his age doesn't matter to me.

Because I don't think that someone who has taken his novel into mainstream publishing, and through all the editing that entails, should be allowed to use his age as a shield from legitimate criticism of his book. You publish the book, it goes out onto shelves, people read it, and they judge it based on its merits as a book. Not its merits as the product of a homeschooler or a teenager or a resident of Montana. If a reader is more impressed by the author's perseverance knowing that he wrote the novel as a teenager, fine, but that doesn't make the book any better, and this isn't high school, where the grading scale is weighted for those who take classes beyond the secondary level early. A book is a book, and the notion of tailoring one's standards for it based on the author's bio is ridiculous.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Magic or Madness

“My name is Reason Cansino. I was named Reason because my mother, Sarafina, thought it was prettier than Logic or Rationality or Intellect and had better nicknames, too. My mother believes in all those things: logic, reason, and the rest, and in mathematics..."

Reason Cansino’s name is a badge of defiance: Reason and her mother have led nomadic lives in the Australian outback for Reason’s entire life, on the run from Reason’s grandmother, Esmeralda, and her horrifying superstitions and “smoke and mirrors” beliefs. But when Reason's mother loses her mind, Reason must go to stay with her Esmeralda and attempt to stave off the influence of her dark beliefs alone. Then she steps through a door in Esmeralda's Sydney house and emerges in New York City. There, she must not only grapple with the undeniable evidence that magic is real, but with the immediate dangers of her deep entanglement in it.

The substance of Justine Larbalestier's Magic or Madness lies in what isn't said - the ambiguities and the holes in the reader's knowledge that lie in just the right places. When it comes to her ability to capture your curiousity, to create questions in your mind, and to let just the right amount of answers trickle out of the plot at exactly the right rate, Larbalestier is seriously skillful, and she really puts the story's multiple POVs to work for her. Not knowing how much to explain (and when), how to do so, and what information to withhold or let the reader figure out seems to me to be a common pitfall, especially in fantasy and sci-fi novels, when there's more than usual in the story's world for the reader to figure out, but the author's spot-on intuition in that area in Magic or Madness is quite wonderful.

I also LOVED her characters. I think Reason may be one of my favorite fictional characters. She is absolutely terrific, so original, cool, real, and likeable (she's a little bit like the character that Lyra Silvertongue would have been if it were up to me). Tom is just a dear, but he still gets a role that arouses some of those delicious questions in your head, and as for Jay-Tee - her I like because she's fierce and sad and imperfect, and because I don't like her all the time! I'm so pleased that this book is only the first in the trilogy, because this absorbing "medium dark urban contemporary fantasy" is gourmet YA.

Grade: A-

P.S. Her blog is one of my favorite author blogs.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Angry [rambly rant alert]

Heather's great post on Tuesday got me reflecting on the pressures our society puts on women and girls.

When it comes to women's bodies, our culture usually completely fails to recognize that there are different body types.

As examples of people who've achieved the ideal, it holds up celebrities who have unlimited access to makeup artists, personal trainers, and plastic surgeons, who by virtue of having made it in show business have generally been pre-selected to have that body type, and who are, in most of the images we see of them, airbrushed to an absurdly deceptive degree.

Most real girls are unable to achieve that image without hurting themselves.

And all the time there's this idea that the most valuable thing about a woman is her body!

Celebrity magazines are constantly gossiping about so-and-so's latest diet or plastic surgery, analyzing bikini pictures to see who's gained and lost weight. The way they carry on, it's like it's incontrovertible that a woman's chest is at least as important as anything that might be in her head.

A female star short of middle age can hardly be in a shot that doesn't call attention to her body - whereas men get to be completely covered even on the Sexiest Man Alive covers.

Do magazines for teenage guys tell them how to get ready for Speedo season?

Is it possible that society expect girls to be preoccupied with the way they look and their bodies because IT considers their looks and bodies to be the most important things about them?

Why do rules require professional female beach volleyball players to wear skimpy bikinis while male players get to wear trunks?

Why must a woman in an advertisement be scantily clad in order to sell bottled water?

Why are there so many fewer roles for "older" (meaning middle-aged or maybe even younger) actresses than for actors of the same age?

Why should a brilliant female scientist or rising corporate star in the news always be expected to be also glamorous?

There's SO MUCH in our society that is destructive and demeaning towards girls and women, so much about the standards it holds us up to that is wrong or unrealistic.

And yet it's myself I'm quickest to be angry at when I fall short of these expectations.

Something is wrong here.

Friday, June 6, 2008


As a 1930s husband, I am
Very Superior

As a 1930s wife, I am

It's a little odd to take, because you have to imagine what you would do and how you would be if you were married - and then if you were not only married, but of the opposite gender too - but if you take it, tell me how you are! (I failed the wife test when I took it earlier today, so if you too fail - I salute you!)
[via Shaken & Stirred]

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Déjà vu

There's extremely similar...[I've posted the first two on LRRH before, if they look familiar]

And then there's same. Heheh.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A (ranty) word about the Sisters Grimm series, or, Why I Could Not Read Past The Fourth Book

Ranting is not usually my thing, but as a reader of the series, I want to make myself heard on this subject. And rants are just so darn fashionable, you know? All the other bloggers are doing it, Mom...

Advisory: If the Sisters Grimm books hold a special place in your heart and you cannot bear to read a word against them, please refrain from reading further in order to spare our relationship any damage, and yourself some unpleasant emotions.

The quality of the writing in these books has always annoyed me. It made a great deal of sense to me the first time I read that the author previously worked in children's television, because the writing, rather than making the story breathe, reads exactly like some producer describing the great action sequence or wonderful "eew"-inducing humor he has planned for a next episode. As for the slapstick action and humor and the dialogue, they are indistinguishable from the tripe that fills the most abominable (yet, tragically, commercially successful) children's movies or shows.

So why did I masochistally persevere through four of these books? First of all, the level of discomfort required to make me quit a book that I've started has been falling over the past year, and is much lower now than when I started the series. Secondly, rather poorly written children's books have at times (generally when schoolwork means the rest of my reading requires close attention and careful thought) been, in a strange and complex way, a comfort food item for me, even when I don't actually enjoy reading the book. It makes no sense, but to quote a fellow LRRHer, "I already know I'm crazy."

But when I read the word talons applied to the Big Bad Wolf's claws in the first few pages of the fifth book, it was the last straw for my poor tormented inner reader. All right, so the editor (whom the author so profusely thanks in his acknowledgements) appears to have neglected the potential of the series's premise and let it appear on bookshelves in its sad present form. They're New York Times bestsellers, so I guess the hands-off approach worked and I kind of understand the "don't mess with success" tactic. But not even the copy editor cares enough to curb Michael Buckley's verbal sloppiness and prevent him running amok with his animal appendage terms? And so, friends, I cast that charmingly designed little hardback away from me and said, "Never again!"