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Date:2007-09-15 13:55
Subject:Leapin' lizards! Touching moments in interspecies bonding

There have been several lately, amidst other things. I should probably take them in chronological order.


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Date:2007-09-03 21:16
Subject:New blog

First of all, I might be switching over to BlogSpot. I've got the account set up, as you'll see from the link, but I'll probably continue to keep this one as a clone of the content.

Second of all, life's been crazy lately. I'm in Florida with the family, trying to stay out of the sun and catch up on rest. I say "trying" because I'm running around madly trying to get ready for England - a million more things always seem to come up at the last minute. Fingers crossed and all that. In my free time, I've been going to the gym and getting caught up on my reading while I'm on the elliptical trainer. I haven't been so good at keeping up with the correspondence - I owe e-mail to everyone.

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Date:2007-07-22 17:34
Subject:It is Harry Potter, sir!

Since my work is largely self-scheduled right now, I spent the whole week throwing off my sleep cycle so that I'd be able to start reading at midnight and stay up, and coherent, until I finished. I went to bed at 3:00 on Thursday night (i.e., Friday morning) and woke up at 10:30, then took a nap from 16:30 to 19:45. I went to the bookstore at 23:00 and felt like an idiot for not dressing up. There were a bunch of Trelawneys, Hermiones, Harrys, and Dementors, plus a truly brilliant Snape, Dumbledore, Rita Skeeter, and Winky. I dashed home right after I got my copy and stayed up until 6:30 reading it. We'll probably all be going on about it for years, but I'll put my initial thoughts here. They are, of course, thick with spoilers, so I'll put them under a cut.

Seriously, this is spoiler-ific and will ruin the whole book for you if you haven't read it in its entirety yet. Hit the "back" button and read something else NOW!

Are you sure you've finished it? In detail?

Okay, then. But first I'm leaving a note to the effect that LJ ate a draft of this, so this is partial - several paragraphs got cut off. I'll post them later, if I can. I need a nice long walk now.

Also (no real spoilers in this bit) when they see the memory about Dumbledore and the ring horcrux, you know that, when she wrote that passage, Rowling was thinking of this.

More cryingCollapse )

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Date:2007-07-19 19:21
Subject:What's up

What's up is that I'm enjoying the end of my time in Montreal. I've begun to feel a bit melancholy about leaving. That feeling rarely strikes me before the last weeks prior to my departure. Perhaps it's a coping strategy; I'm used to moving, and the idea of being "settled down" in one place seems strange to me. I suppose I might like it one day, but right now I can't quite imagine it.

And, of course, I'm going insane waiting for Harry Potter. Movie 5 served only to whet my appetite for Book 7. I mean, by this time in the Half-Blood Prince countdown, we had three chapter titles and a couple of excerpts to tide us over. Now there's nothing but massive spoilers, which I've been avoiding as assiduously as possible. I understand the impatience, but come on, people! I would of course be remiss if I didn't provide a final list of personal predictions. They're under the cut.

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Date:2007-07-19 11:37
Subject:Maybe I really am a Gryffindor

Funny, because most Sorting Hat quizzes (shut up, like you never waste time and geek out) put me in Ravenclaw. But something has suggested otherwise - let me show you my results.

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Date:2007-06-21 20:24
Subject:Done with my thesis!

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen! So it's been ages since I update, but the news is this - I FINISHED MY THESIS! The albatross is no longer around my neck. Right now I'm vacillating between being reasonably satisfied with it and thinking it's the worst piece of garbage ever written. I'll probably have a bit more perspective in a few months. There were only a few little snafus. The first was that I handed it in to my adviser an hour late, in two pieces, because I was having catastrophic printer problems. These turned out to be a printer problem, singular - I had hit the "pause print" button without realizing it. Go me. The other was that neither my adviser nor I realized that thanking someone in the (required) acknowledgments automatically constituted a conflict of interest that disqualifies that person as an examiner. We both checked the guidelines; it's nowhere explicitly stated, and they're going to bring it up at the next department meeting, with a view to including advice to that effect in their intra-departmental submission guide. That was frustrating, and I'm a little bit scared of handing the thing off to a completely new set of people, but that crisis is resolved, at least for now.

That done, my new goals are to get caught up on my long-neglected correspondence, start getting ready to go to England this fall, and to enjoy the month or so I still have in Montreal. (Who's in town right now, BTW? We should get together.) I've been locked in my room like a hermit for the last couple of weeks, working on the thesis and nothing else, and I definitely need to get caught up on human contact. It's Montreal, it's summer, there's so much to do - festivals, the park, the Biodome, the botanical gardens, museums, summer movies, the fireworks... what say ye? Other plans include getting caught up on my RA work, on which I am woefully behind; going to Vermont for a few days (July 5-10 or something, probably) to see relatives there; and trying to get to New Brunswick sometime to pay a visit to dr_weezie and co., depending on when it's convenient for them.

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Date:2007-04-23 10:28

Wow, I haven't updated in ages! Bad me! But I'm back from the dead. Here's the overview:

I had a great time in New Jersey/New York, last month. While I was there, I caught a respiratory infection nasty enough that I couldn't get to the gym for three weeks, and I missed Mass on Palm Sunday. I'm better now (fingers crossed, thanking heaven), but I'm miles behind on all my work. The next two months will be me catching up.

On the Life Decisions Front, I have decided to go to England for my Ph.D. It wasn't an easy decision; I will miss my friends in Quebec, and my advisor, who continues to be a wonderful in all things. But between teaching/research/work/grant obligations, it would take me six years to finish here. I'm not a city person. I can't handle that. Being legally a Yank, I also can't handle six years of not knowing what the funding situation will be (England's more expensive, but it's also much more consistent. And shorter.) Yes, there are disadvantages, but there are good things as well. RyanAir for one thing; there's no reason I won't be able to spend a reading-work week at a cheap place in Iceland (or my beloved Ireland) if I feel like it on occasion.

Of course, I do need to get my thesis finished (I'm so behind!) and my U.S. federal student loan application in (not done, because it took forever to get official confirmation of the tuition situations, etc.)... yay. In better news, I passed my Greek competency exam, which had me worried.

Okay. I should go do work. But I'll try and be back soon.

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Date:2007-03-29 10:41
Subject:The plague years

I'm back from a weekend visiting family in the New York area, and now I'm all nice and sick. Mom and I seem to have caught the same upper respiratory infection from one of my cousins. Right now I'm just on a self-prescribed regime of rest, cough medicine, and vitamin C. If it degenerates into bronchitis, I'll go to the doctor. Otherwise, they'll just tell me to do what I'm doing anyway. And also that I'm pregnant, which is, to understate the circumstances somewhat, vanishingly unlikely.

Whinging aside, it was actually a wonderful vacation. I got to see some aunts and uncles who I hadn't seen in ages. All of them seem to be doing well, and every bit as batty as is expected in the family. Good times. And it was fabulous to swap recent woes and adventures with some old friends in the city. They also seem to be well, and about the right level of crazy for basic life adaptation, which is to say a fair bit saner than most of the family. Good times.

Academic MattersCollapse )

Pop culture notesCollapse )

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Date:2007-03-17 23:22

I got into Durham! Hooray!

Now I just have a series of difficult choices and mountains of paperwork no matter which ones I make.

Happy St Patrick's Day, everyone.

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Date:2007-03-15 09:53
Subject:Various things

Life slogs along as usual. MORE WORK NEEDS TO BE DONE ON EVERYTHING!!!! ARGH!!! Post-it note to self: do some of that today, dang it.

There aren't a whole lot of interesting things to report from my actual life. Recent reading has included a self-mandated refresher course on the bioanthropology and microevolution classes of yore, in the form of Genes, Culture, and Human Evolution. Yes, that's right: I read a textbook for fun. I did skip over bits of it - I still remember how codominant alleles and PCR work - but on the whole it was useful. It's actually thesis-related, believe it or not - the reading, that is, not codominance per se. And there are so many cool things to learn! Tamarins, as well as bonobos, practice polyandry; the spice cline; the effectively autonomous (and largely isolated) indigenous peoples in and around the Indonesian archipelago apparently recognized signs of the tsunami well in advance and evacuated to the highlands, and hence suffered very few losses or casualties.

The course that I TA is covering ecofeminism right now - overview and basic ideas yesterday; critiques of it tomorrow. The lecturer is, as always, doing a great job of covering it, and it's necessary to the course, but of course the whole idea is irritating. Not the idea that it's good to find ways of empowering women and helping the environment simultaneously, but the utter frivolity (at best) of 95% of the "work" (all writing, no activism) that's done. Cut here for a rant:Collapse )

Less with the ranting. Pop culture: I miss Heroes! The hiatus needs to be over now - I can't wait until 23 April! On the other hand, last week's Lost actually managed to be good. Granted, it wasn't up to the standard of some of the brilliant first-season work, but it was television worth watching. It featured no fewer than two cats, and a horsie to boot - not to mention some cute cows! Not to mention Sayid being awesome, good use of flashbacks, a decently conceived-of bad guy, Danielle Rousseau being wise and wacky, and minimal Kate-as-Mary-Sue. Much of a wuss as Locke has turned out to be, it's nice to see Terry O'Quinn not being typecast for once. He's really good at playing the very competent, ice-cold, scary, take-no-prisoners leader (or lone wolf) whose real affiliation is always uncertain - but he can do more than just that, and it's nice to see him doing so.

I dreamt last night that I was picking up Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on 21 July, and it was only 147 pages long! When I woke up, four months seemed like too long to wait. Can't you hurry, O Bloomsbury? Couldn't you at least give us a page estimate (more that 147, no doubt)? Then maybe start releasing cover/chapter images, and perhaps the occasional, tantalizing, yet non-spoilery-by-virtue-of-its-brevity excerpt. Leaping hippogryffs, the suspense is killing me!

I'll stop myself there and get my sorry but to the gym. Concluding note: I don't know how it's possible for me to be any more ashamed, disgusted, and angry about/at my native country, but I seem to find a way every single morning.

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Date:2007-03-08 16:53
Subject:Common themes

If I don't take a little break from copy-editing right now, I'm going to have seven kinds of nervous breakdown.

Life is boring but fine. There was a crazy snow storm this weekend - two or three months late for the first one of the season, but here nonetheless. It was beautiful and quiet to watch, as always. Now the snow is turning all slushy and dirty and it's rather sad. Also, the Jack Russell Terrier back home apparently murdered a poor little mole that was just trying to get all cozy and snuggled up somewhere, so of course he had to dig it out and kill it. I really, really wish he wouldn't do things like that. Once, years ago, he killed a luna moth. I was so angry with him... I know he can't help his instincts, but he's so appallingly lazy about absolutely everything else in life that I can't see why he'd bother hunting something he doesn't want to eat.

TA'ing and RA'ing are both fine, although it's a very busy period for both. Add that to Greek practice and thesis work and I'm sort of reaching the end of my tether. And it'll only get worse from here on out! I think the effects of a stress-increasing break are starting to catch up with me. Also, I need to get all my papers and files in order...

Cultural notes:Collapse )

Bizarre dreams:Collapse )

Also, according to this article http://www.slate.com/id/2160742/nav/tap1/ - apparently, a lot of people don't find lorises to be cute. That came as a surprise to me - I always sort of assumed they were one of those animals everyone thought were adorable, as were long-eared jerboas. But it seems that that's not the case.

Who knew?

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Date:2007-03-01 16:52
Subject:Wading in the shallow end of the pool

So the gym has happened, and tiny increments of work have happened. Sacre bleu! So after a day that's been a bit frustrating in some respects, here's to further shallowness, this time related to Oscar fashions. (Getty Images and Yahoo! both have plenty of pretty visual aids.) For the sake of economy, I'm limiting the pool to people of whom I have actually vaguely heard, and to the ceremony itself. If I feel like procrastinating later on, I may do the various parties as well. They do offer a great deal of material...

The good:Collapse )

There weren't that many absolute disasters as usual (although there were some; see below). There were, however, a number of things that would have worked or should have worked if only a few critical things had been different, enabling the person in question to look resplendent instead of, for the most part, silly.

The almost-good:Collapse )

There were some dresses that weren't eyesores, exactly - they just simpered and cowered in fear of being eyesores. Plain colours, plain fabric, plain designs, plain (or no) accessories... I'm sure you looked fine, darling; tell me what you're wearing again?

Textile Quaaludes:Collapse )

The atrocious:Collapse )

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Date:2007-03-01 09:32
Subject:A relatively (okay, completely) shallow update

No major news; just that I've been locked away copy-editing, re-reading I.M. Lewis' Ecstatic Religion (1971; flawed in certain respects, but also brilliant) (for work, not for fun), frantically rush-mailing supporting materials for various applications, and getting behind on Greek - eep! I'll get to that soon. But right now I need a break. So I'll post my Oscar thoughts, because I'm sure everyone cares about them a great, great deal, and they're very important in the overall scheme of things in the world. Hooray.

The ceremony:Collapse )

So many more shallow things to be said, especially about the Oscar fashions. As of now, however, I need to be on my way to the gym.

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Date:2007-02-26 12:23
Subject:Back in business

(I'll get around to replacing the icon sometime.)

I'm back in Canada, freezing my bum off, after a non-relaxing but wonderful trip. Just so long as I don't have to think about all the work on which I need to get caught up... oh yeah. I do have to think about. Annoying, that. And now I have to start paying attention to the news again, because of ethical and civic obligations. Meh! My take:Collapse )

Um, anyway. The trip. I had a lovely time, and I've got a lot of things to consider about decisions in terms of next year, etc. Depending on who accepts or rejects my application, there may be some very attractive options. Or there may not be. We'll see. Beyond the interviews, I managed to have some fun, which I'll put behind a cut for the travelogue:Collapse )

I finished reading The People's Act of Love - the author's name is James Meek, he's a Dundee-raised Londoner now residing in his natal city (my bad on the previous [mis]identification), and the book won the Ondaatje Prize (I'd never heard of it either) and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award in 2006. It was quite a good book. I won't go into details so as to avoid spoilers. I'll just offer my accolades for richly drawn, complex characters, solid writing that balances aesthetics and economy quite effectively, and the rare ability to resolve the plot in a way that is generally satisfying while avoiding the pitfalls of either sappiness or gratuitous misery. My only complaint is that the main female character is not drawn in as much detail or cohesion as she needs to be drawn. But that's a rather small complaint; it seems to me that a lot of writers, at every level of skill, have difficulty with characters of one or the other sex (often the opposite but sometimes the same as the author). Anyway, Terry Pratchett was a great diversion on the last leg of the return flight.

Shallow pop-culture notes: Miss Spears is no Miss O'Connor, although she doesn't look a quarter as bad as I would have expected. The last thing Islam needs is Michael Jackson converting to it. I'm sad about Anna Nicole - I always kind of loved her, just doing whatever she could to squeeze money out of that sleazy, disgusting, Texas oil family. Happy to hear that Orlando Bloom is building an eco-friendly house (not the same as a greenhouse - sorry; couldn't resist) in London. I wonder if he needs a maid? ... Heroes continues to be rather great. It's nice to see them give a real plot to Mohinder, who has a lot of potential as a character but who the writers tend to shaft. I continue to hate Hiro, who seems to be envisioned as a Japanese variation of really nasty Chinese stereotypes in film and television - Long Duk Dong 2.0, essentially. I was glad to see bits of a real character emerging at the end of the most recent episode. Now they've either got to develop those bits or feed him to Sylar, and I don't care which. Lost: Will they please just end the stupid Others plotline, now? At this point I don't much care how they go about it. They could just do "rocks fall, everyone dies" and never mention it again and I would go with that. Get back to the Losties on the beach, the whole group of them. There are several seasons' worth of storylines in there, storylines that - get this - don't suck, Look into it, writers.

I also have, of course, Oscar predictions. They are semi-informed, and I have actually seen some of the movies this time around. Not all of them, mind you. And I'm leaving out ones where I know absolutely nothing (short films, sound mixing, etc.) and score/song categories, which would be based purely on my musical preferences. Some are based on pure instinct rather than any particular rational grounds. But here goes.

Oscar predictions:Collapse )

Okay, there's probably more navel-gazing to be done, but there's also unpacking, organizing, writing, Greek practice... Wish me luck!

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Date:2007-02-18 14:20
Subject:Edinburgh, O Edinburgh

Bad subject line, say you? I'll have you know that it's the refrain from variant B of Childs' (Scots) Ballad 10 (Binnorie or The Twa Sisters). I am in Edinburgh and loving it - although tomorrow it's back to business-related matters here, and I'm not anticipating loving that so much.

The flight was fine, if bumpy. The in-flight movie was The Queen. Helen Mirren and Judi Dench are equally deserving of Oscars, I'd say, but I'd have to favour Dench a bit more if pressed. Anyway, The Queen is well done but, in my opinion, sycophanting. Elizabeth gets a complete pass on the shameful way she treated Diana for years, and I don't think Tony Blair suddenly turned into OMG her total fanboi! overnight. (The film doesn't convince me that he did, even in a fictionalized context.) And a monarch griping to an elected politician that 25% of the public wanted her gone at one point - and getting his sympathy for it? Right. That's totally gonna happen.

Current reading: The People's Act of Love, winner of I forget which Quebec literary prize of 2006 (book's not with me). So far I'm loving it, but I'm only three chapters in, so we'll see how it goes.

Must dash - city to explore!

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Date:2007-02-13 16:55
Subject:Monday miscellany

I need to get some new icons. I like the fairy-tale-illustration rose, don't get me wrong, but I'm getting slightly bored of it. That can be my procrastination exercise for the evening. Not that I can afford to procrastinate at the moment - I'm leaving for Britain and Ireland on Friday! This will not, sadly, be a fun trip, as I think I've mentioned. Everything seems to get more hectic by the day around here.

Today I took my French competency exam and passed it, which is a relief. I was worried, because I've neglected French completely while learning Greek and Latin, and there's no question that my skills (such as they were) have deteriorated. Not that I was ever brilliant in the first place - three cheers to the U.S. "education" system. Now I just have to worry about the Greek one, and that pesky little thesis o' mine. The hard parts of the program(me) applications are over; now I just have to worry about financial aid. (Yanks reading this will understand what I mean; Canadians probably will not.) Also, the article that I was assigned to translate for the exam made me think that maybe my doctoral thesis proposal, which I've already submitted, is kind of atrociously flawed. Ah well. One day at a time and all that.

My sister is evidently rather ill at the moment. She got incredibly sick last term, winding up in the emergency room and taking quite a while to recover after that, so Mom's gone up to Boston to take care of her for a week or so. I've sent her an e-card, but Noodle, if you're reading this as well, please get better soon! I'll see her in person at the end of next month, when we go to visit Grandma.

Fun notes: I finished Zadie Smith's White Teeth and have concluded that it's good but vastly overrated. There's no question that Smith is a master (or mistress, if we want to be technically PC, but that sounds wrong) of characterization. She's insightful, ironic, hilarious, and on many levels lovable in that regard. She also manages to interweave a number of smaller stories together, coherently, without feeling compelled to use one Rigidly Significant Overarching Plot as a straitjacket. That said, the lack of subtlety is painful. Her ideology - one that I substantially share - sometimes seems to take precedence over all other concerns, which never bodes well for a story. White Teeth is a classically low-mimetic story, to use Northrop Frye's schema, and very naturalistic low mimesis at that. So when Smith imports the occasional snippet of magical realism, which she fails to integrate, it's very jarring, and fails miserably at its purpose. And as regards Salman Rushdie, she needs to learn the difference between allusion and aping.

I managed to watch part of the Grammys last night before falling asleep. I'll put my thoughts under the cut here.Collapse )

Other pop culture notes: Lost looks like it's on track to make a decent recovery after a weak beginning of the (split) season. I was surprised, in a good way, when someone (I won't say who; spoiler caution and all) was revealed to be in a sort of Stockholm Syndrome situation. I'm very eager to get Jack back to the main island, presumably in next week's episode, and I wouldn't mind all of the Others getting blown up in the process. They bore me senseless. (I oppose violence against real people in nearly all circumstances. Violence against fictional ones is fine by me - cf. Clueless.) I continue to love Heroes despite last week's appalling lack of Mohinder and over-emphasis on Hiro, who I always want to throttle (see previous note). Love Claire and her family, bio- and adoptive.

That's all for now - real work beckons.

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Date:2007-02-06 19:01
Subject:Pop culture notes

Having done as much proper work as I can stomach for the moment, I think it's time for a pop culture update. (When isn't it time for a pop culture update?) I've become slightly obsessed with Lost, despite the long break and the weak start to the current season. Hey, The X-Files hit a rough patch early in the third season as well, and recovered for a strong finish and two more brilliant years after that. (Seasons six, eight, and nine are dead to me, in the most official Stephen Colbert manner possible.) I've also gotten really into Heroes, which is absolutely brilliant for a show in its first season. dithie has promised to get me hooked on Rome sometime in the near future.

Last night there was a bit of a Super Bowl party at my house. I escaped and went to see Pan's Labyrinth instead. I find it necessary to babble about it a bit just now. My thoughts are naturally spoiler-heavy, so I'm hiding them here:Collapse )

Let's multitask now and cover two categories at once: old news and extreme shallowness. It's been almost a month since the Golden Globes, and I haven't posted my fashion thoughts, which I'm sure you're all dying to read. (Right? Right?) It's certainly better late than never, and just as certainly necessary to be up-to-date by the time the Grammys and, most importantly, the Oscars roll around. Boldly onwards to the silly dress reviews!Collapse )

Okay, I think that's enough shallowness for the evening. And I'm hungry.

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Date:2007-02-04 22:42
Subject:New Year's Resolutions

Yes, I know it's late, but bear in mind that I have a policy of not making New Year's resolutions. It can be for the Chinese New Year, which is in a couple of weeks. I resolve to update this baby at least once a week. Goad me if I don't.

I've finished the first chapter of my thesis, which was the easiest. The first chapter tends to consist of situating your own work within the range of scholarship on the matter. Since the vast majority of the rather limited research on my particular topic is extremely bad, what I've got is a brief historical overview followed by a long lunge at the jugular. Hooray. I'm looking forward to moving on to something more constructive.

My French competency exam is this coming Friday. It's translation-based and open-dictionary, but I'm still a bit nervous. I'm going to try to do some translation exercises every day up until then. Greek continues apace. That competency exam is more worrying; very few people pass it the first time, and not that many the second. I should probably talk to my adviser about scheduling that one for sometime shortly after the February break. Speaking of which...

...I'll be spending it in Scotland, England, and Ireland, visiting universities to whose Ph.D. program(me)s I'm applying. It's going to be the least relaxing vacation of my life, most likely, as I'll be zipping around negotiating a bunch of different transit systems and trying not to make a complete fool of myself in front of several éminences grises at each of three institutions. I may have one or two days free, though, on the weekends. If that winds up being the case, I'll try to go riding. That's something I really miss being able to do regularly.

World events of late have been, as always, consistently and tremendously distressing. It's best that I not ramble on about them here and now, I think. Everyone who's reading this knows about them already, and will know my take on them as well. Instead, I'll go with more pleasant news of recent adventures in literature.Collapse )

We Potter fans recently received the fabulous news of the release date for Book Seven - speaking of which, I initially hated the title, but I think I'm beginning to warm to it a little bit, possibly because I am a sucker. And because I'm a sucker, and a conformist little sap to boot, I'm going to do the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows meme just like everyone else. (Word of warning: this will probably wind up containing spoilers for books 1-6, in case you've not read them.) It's shamelessly gakked from just about the entire internet. Anyway, here it is.Collapse )

There's more random geekiness into which I could get, but I'm sort of tired at this point. More soon...

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Date:2006-08-19 15:03
Subject:Here I am!

A note amidst an insanely busy day (by summer standards)... I am, in fact, here, alive and kicking! (Metaphorically for the latter part.) There's not a great deal to report: Vermont was lovely; it was terrific to see Mom, as well as a million aunts and uncles and cousins I hadn't seen in far too long... I'm dashing off to New York for a bit next week, before the term starts. My TA assignment is all nice and confirmed; now I just need to deal with registering for Greek, which one would expect to be easy enough. Of course, it isn't.

On the fun front, I've continued my Rushdie kick with Haroun and the Sea of Stories, which I hadn't read since I was a little girl. I really loved it this time around as well; it's awfully hard to feel otherwise, I think. There was also the vastly underrated The Moor's Last Sigh and the undisputedly brilliant, and incredibly disturbing, Shalimar the Clown. I won't gush for fear of spoilers - just go forth and read them! And let's have a drumroll for something that you may only witness once in a lifetime: I'm without any opinion on something. Shocking, isn't it? I have no views on the current affaire Güther Grass. Being the appalling savage that I am, I've not yet gotten around to reading any of his actual novels, and I don't know anything of his biography. So I'm reserving comment until I have some legitimate basis for it, such as reading his books or being threatened for the title of most opinionated person in the province. Whichever comes first. (The virtue of becoming non-opinionated is currently forecast to occur sometime around the mid-afternoon of the Second Coming.)

Other literary endeavours: I'm currently working on In Evil Hour, which is not turning out to be my favourite of Gabriel García Marquez's books but which is interesting nonetheless. I really wish I knew Spanish; I know that I'm missing millions of little puns and gems and allusions by relying on the translation. I just have to remind myself that I am not, realistically, going to be able to learn Farsi, Spanish, Gaelige, Italian, Arabic, Sanskrit, Japanese, Hindi, Portugese, German, Bengali, Urdu, and everything else I'd like to have in terms of primary-source competence, in a lifetime, and I might as well deal with that fact and get over it.

I also really loved The House of Spirits, which I can't believe I didn't get around to reading much earlier. Such is life, though. I quite liked it - the last fifteen pages or so are admittedly sappy beyond endurance, but I can understand why, writing in the early 1980s, Allende was simultaneously desperate for any form of hope she could conjure and simultaneously unable to come up with anything very realistic. That does not, however, excuse some of her subsequent novels (e.g., Daughter of Fortune), which read like the Adventures of Mary Sue, but by someone with a Serious Literary Reputation. There's a good case for quitting (with the del Valle family, not with writing) while one is ahead.

Cultural plans lacking in such gravitas include killing some brain cells with Talladega Nights with one of my housemates tonight. Any vehicle for Will Ferrell just to be his unrestrained, wacky self is bound to be entertaining, and if nothing else, my long sojourns in the rural South (U.S., not Canadian, what with 90-95% of Canada's population living in the southern 5-10% of Canada) ought to provide the context for a bit of entertainment, yes? We also have a pact with another housemate to see Bon Cop, Bad Cop later on. It's an independent Canadian buddy-cop movie, with a laissez-faire Montréal detective paired up, under unlikely circumstances, with a prim, uptight Ontario one. It's big in eastern and central Canada right now; I'm not sure if it's playing elsewhere.

World affairs: Too horrible. Nothing more to be said.

Happy thoughts, though! Think happy!

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Date:2006-08-02 22:18

It is not, in fact, hotter than blazes. If it were, we would have lost consciousness from shock and smoke inhalation by now, and wouldn't notice the blasted heat any more. Granted, the summers in Florida are hotter, but everything there is air conditioned. Even outside, the heat is actually crushing, so that you feel numb pretty quickly. On the plus side, we had some good heat lightning earlier this evening.

The news from my actual RL is next to nonexistent. I've been existing in the heat, working on conference organizing, doing never-ending research and reading, etc. Dithie hosted a truly impressive four-person birthday party over the weekend, featuring two superb, and superbly hand-decorated, cakes. At home, we had a little going-away celebration for a summer sub-letter who went back home this morning. We're all going to miss her! I did, however, have extremely messy fun making the cupcakes.

The depressing personal news is that the repertory theatre near my house is closing! Its failure is all the worse for being so preventable - less obscenely misguided programming decisions over past few months would have prevented it entirely. I did make an excursion there for one its final notes, fulfilling a notable cap in my cinematic literacy by finally getting around to seeing Mulholland Drive. I liked it a great deal, despite some pacing/repetition problems. Billy Ray Cyrus' cameo alone was worth the full price of admission. I'll say no more, for fear of spoilers. It is after all a David Lynch film, and therefore makes effectively no sense whatsoever. But in a good way.

The happier personal news is that I'm going out of the city for a few days tomorrow to visit some relatives, who Mom will be visiting at the same time. It will be really good to see everyone, although I'll spare everyone the babbling about why and how it will be good to see everyone. I tend to think that at the point that you need to explain your being happy about seeing out-of-town family, frankly, there are some problems. Neither does excitement about getting out of the city require any explanation, especially at this time of year.

I'll put the next bit behind a cut for some political... content. It's too hot to rant properly.

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