In a very few short, pithy phrases, Steve H. explains Christianity. Something to keep in mind these next few days. (Being from Miami, Christmas doesn’t actually end for me until Three Kings Day. And being from my family, it doesn’t end until February 28th. Watch me do the redneck thing and leave my lights up all year. That’s what my father finally did when the lights-removing activities interfered with his beer-drinking time. A sensible man.)
In order to make life in my apartment somewhat more desirable, I have rearranged the living room furniture. I still have some more things I want to move about, but unfortunately I am so exhausted I am nauseous.
On the other hand, I may find the rest of the year until my lease is up bearable because I found out they are building a Starbucks on the corner. The only other coffee shop around here is a greasy diner that I rarely go to — and that gives you non-dairy creamer instead of half-and-half — and a deli that unfortunately opens after I leave the house in the morning and closes at 3 in the afternoon. I like having coffee out occasionally, what can I say. And if I ever decided I can’t afford the dsl, Starbucks has wireless. (Yeah right, like I wouldn’t sell a pint of blood to pay for my internet hookup.)
I think I am going to go back to using Movable Type for the new blog. (I always open up a new blog every new year, you should be used to it by now.) If I do I’ll be setting up the comments to be registration only, which means you have to get an account with Typekey. They seem to have ironed out most of the kinks in the system, so I don’t think that will be too much of a hardship to people. Then again, I may go back to Blogspot. The year isn’t over yet!
While on my shopping jaunts I needed something to read, and I picked up The Neverending Story, which at least was written before the Eighties, and thus hadn’t picked up whatever has made most fantasy written in the last twenty-odd years, except for the occasional example suck so much. (Yes, the Harry Potter books did, but no, the Pullman books didn’t entirely escape the suckitude.) I’ll elaborate further later, but the book, at least the first half, isn’t bad. The fact that it was written by a non-English-speaking European isn’t exactly a guarantee of greatness, and some of the translation revealed weaknesses (some of the book reads as if the author had not actually read any fantasy before but had heard it carefully described by someone else), but there is enough individuality of concept to make it arresting. At the very least it is not Eragon, which reads as if it were written by a committee of textbook publishers. No wait, toaster instructional manual publishers. Let’s just say I picked up the book, read it through a bit, and put it down. Nothing was really wrong with it, but nothing was right either.
Back to Neverending. One caveat: the book is twice as long as it needs to be. (Here I apparently agree with Wolfgang Petersen, who did a movie based on the book which also ends at the actual climax of the book. I’ve never seen the movie.) Without elaborating in detail or giving away the plot, the book reaches a climax halfway through (the fantasy world is saved), and goes on for several more unnecessary chapters (the kid protagonist goes wandering about the fantasy world having adventures) which really should have been condensed into one final chapter wrapping up the real-world backstory of the kid and his father. I am having trouble getting into the extended escapades of the kid, and this is always bad news for me and finishing the book. However, it’s a different enough read from the usual dragons-’n'-treasure kiddie fantasy fare to keep me reading.
I’ll write more on it later, especially the interesting vision of contemporary European thought — or rather, the impulses underlying contemporary European attitudes — that the book reveals, at least to me. Contrary to popular opinion, I’m not entirely a Euro-hating isolationophile (if I may coin a word), and I do know a thing or two about events beyond these shores. But I need to have a cup of tea or something to settle my stomach.
I really like the photos on this blog. I need to learn to take indoor, low-light shots… Also I need to install Japanese fonts on the laptops. Even though I can’t read Japanese, all those question marks that Firefox subsititutes for the characters is really irritating.
Update: okay, I went looking for the Japanese Language Pack on Microsoft’s website and it involves too many scary things for me to risk. Gone are the days when I’d blithely install drivers and whatnot on my Windows 3.11 box. Also, even though I have Service Pack 2 installed, that was done at the store where I bought this (used) laptop. I don’t actually have the Service Pack 2 cd that has the actual install files on it. I would either have to go to the store where I bought the laptop (a two-bus trip), or let my friend who works for IBM tend to the thing. But I don’t like dragging a friend on a busman’s holiday just for the sake of a language I neither speak nor read.
Second update: okay! I went and threw caution to the wind and dug out the Windows XP with Service Pack I cd that came with my desktop (the one my friend still has to pick up) and installed the Asian language fonts off it. Despite the different installs of XP it worked, so now I have Kanji (or whatever it is) instead of question marks. It’s an aesthetic thing.
Forgot one more thing: I tried to translate some of the blog entries using Google’s Japanese Beta translation thing in their language tools. The results were almost as incomprehensible as the original Japanese.
I like quotes. Here’s one:
Lady, people aren’t chocolates. But you know what they are, mostly? Bastards. Bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling. — John McGinley, Scrubs
I never watch Scrubs because I don’t watch new tv shows, but that’s a saying for the ages.
The comments in this blog post about the Vatican premier of The Nativity Story movie went off into a tangent about Mary’s (in the movie) labor pains and whether it was truthful for her to be shown having them. This made me think about an idea I formed when reading various Christian-themed or -focused works (mostly by C.S. Lewis) recently. (Among them, if you want to know, Perelandra, The Screwtape Letters, and Mere Christianity.) I wonder if people misconstrue the idea that labor pains themselves were punishment for O.S., and not simply that our reaction to them was changed. This wouldn’t surprise me as we tend to misconstrue just about everything. But (I supposed I should break in here and say posit, of course, that the doctrine of Original Sin is true — if it isn’t than this whole post won’t make sense and you can ignore it) it’s possible that all the things that are said to be punishment for the Big Bad — death, sickness, pain in childbirth — are not themselves the punishment so much that we became separated from our true selves (because of the separation from God), and therefore unable to react normally to normal events — “death” became to us not a transition from a lower to a higher state, but a real ending, and annihilation of ourselves; pain became not just a response to certain stimuli but an event even worse or at least as bad as the stimuli itself. Women were, perhaps, always meant to “feel” something of a strain when passing a largish object out of their smallish spaces, but if we weren’t so addled by fear and confusion that the Christians say is caused by sin we would have understood the pain as akin to that “suffered” by an athlete undergoing strenuous exercise (a bad analogy but that’s the best I can come up with of a “good” pain that isn’t smutty).
This is just something I thought of.
Interesting. It seems that when I write a new post and save it to the category “random items,” the post will not appear on the main page of the blog. However, if I change OR add the post to another category, it will appear on the main page of the blog. Gosh, ladies and gents, how can I say this — it looks like the muthafuckin’ blog is getting muthafuckin’ FULL.
Darn. I knew that I had heard “Earthquake Weather” somewhere, and that it was the title of a book, but I was hoping it wasn’t, because I kind of wanted to use that as a title to a book I will write someday. Oh well, got to think of something else.
Today must be Bad Writer Excerpt Day — though the scribes whose art is displayed here are so “differently talented” that they almost make me want to run out and buy the Cormac McCarthy novel I mocked. One bonus detail: all of these “authors” are also politicians. The article is a match-the-author-with-the-crap game. The only one that doesn’t belong is Winston Churchill’s passage, which is a normal, if somewhat stiff and dull, scene with no sex and no overwrought, heavy-breathing prose. Perhaps it was placed in the list as a sort of control sample. I recognized the first example as being by Newt Gingrich, because my brain was permanently scarred by reading this same passage in a column in some long-forgotten publication, but I have either never heard of or mercifully had forgotten the other chestnuts. My favorite example? Number three, which contains the matchless phrase “her breast flailing wildly in the air.” Running a close second is number seven: “He held her breasts in his hands. Oddly, he thought, the lower one might be larger…” This may be the political connection, if we go by the old schoolyard chant: “hefty lefty, lighty righty!”
(Via Ace of Spades.)
Cormac McCarthy is at it again. This time he’s discovered the never-before-approached (except by thousand of other authors) subject of the end of the world! No really, he’s totally broken new ground here:
McCarthy has said that death is the major issue in the world and that writers who don’t address it are not serious.
That doesn’t mean those who do are any good. Here’s a sample of the Drone of the Dead from The Road:
The incinerate corpses shrunk to the size of a child and propped on the bare springs of the seats. Ten thousand dreams ensepulchred within their crozzled hearts.
“Incinerate”? WTF couldn’t he have simply said “incinerated“? That showy, left-off “d” is just the sort of pretentious, twittery mucking about with the English language that B.R. Myers has already countered in A Reader’s Manifesto. Read that instead of going on a dreary Road-trip.
(Via Open Book. Actually, this book is one I won’t be opening, thanks.)
God, work was the pits today. Mostly due to the fact I hadn’t slept much the night before, due to staying up too late reading Gone With the Wind. (No, really. It’s an excellent character study of all American Southern types, and a comedy of manners under a veneer of conventional historical “romance.” Would Oprah have published it? One wonders — there are remarkably few victimized black people, slaves though most of the characters of color were. More later, when I have finished reading it and am not so freaking tired.)