Thursday, May 21, 2009

So, I haven't been blogging a lot lately, mostly because we've cut back on our computer time since the weather got better- mainly I've been using it to do basic maintenance on my games, and the Owlvark has been using it to look for jobs, but once that's done, we've just been shutting it off. It's been a little too hot during the afternoons the past few days to do much outside, so we do a lot of reading and playing board games or watching movies, the Owlvark has another radio to tinker with, and I've got some art projects I'm working on. As soon as the evening starts in and it's not quite so toasty anymore, we head outside. We've been going for a lot of walks, we've gone for dinner picnics in the park several times, we go out fishing, out to play basketball or throw the Foxtail or a frisbee around, taken some books to the lakeside and read, the Owlvark has done a few watercolors. It'd be nice to borrow the canoe and bring it up here for a while, too- I've never seen the other side of the lake, after all. It's really nice getting to be active again after the winter. And next year, we plan on having snowshoes (and a car!) so we'll be able to be out and about then, too. We're kicking around the idea of doing some winter camping...
The Owlvark's been very pleased about having so much to go and do, as when I was in England we went to the park a lot when he got home from work- he says getting out and moving is the natural antidote to a desk job. Apparently it's a pretty good antidote for looking for a job, too.

Friday, May 15, 2009

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Monday, May 11, 2009

So I managed to break 600 books on Shelfari, and that wasn't really touching the wall o' paperbacks too much. It's entirely possible that I own a thousand books already. Good lord.


"Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
In the cool of the day, having fed to satiety
On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been contained
In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
Shall these bones live? shall these
Bones live? And that which had been contained
In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
Because of the goodness of this Lady
And because of her loveliness, and because
She honours the Virgin in meditation,
We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled
Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love
To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.
It is this which recovers
My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions
Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn
In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping
With the burden of the grasshopper, saying

Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.

Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining
We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other,
Under a tree in the cool of the day, with the blessing of sand,
Forgetting themselves and each other, united
In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye
Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity
Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance."

- T.S. Eliot, "Ash Wednesday"

Sunday, May 10, 2009

So I ran across this while looking at the Wikipedia page for the Anita Blake series, trying to figure out at which book I stopped reading so I could recommend the earlier ones to a friend:

"Life is too short to read books you don't like, so if you're not having a good time, stop doing it. I'm sure there are other books out there that will make you happier than mine. There are books with less sex in them, God knows. There are books that don't make you think that hard. Books that don't push you past that comfortable envelope of the mundane. If you want to be comforted, don't read my books. They aren't comfortable books. They are books that push my character and me to the edge and beyond of our comfort zones. If that's not want you want, then stop reading. Put my books away with other things that frighten and confuse or just piss you off."

- Laurell K. Hamilton, December 2006

It starts out all right, but then it takes one a hell of a left turn. I realize I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I'd like to make it quite clear that I didn't stop reading the Anita Blake books because they made me think too hard, and I resent the implication that I and other readers who skedaddled when they turned into "Anita Does St. Louis" were somehow intimidated or overfaced. I quit reading them when they stopped having plots that didn't revolve around the contents of Anita's underwear, because it was the contents of her head that I was interested in, and she seemed to lose those somewhere after book six. Did the sex make me uncomfortable? No, it made me *bored*. Really, really, honestly bored out of my ever-loving skull, because there is such a thing as too many love scenes. After a certain point it just gets old, and you're paging through waiting for the plot to pick up again, only eventually there was so damn much shagging-and-pathos that by the time I quit reading Anita's love life had become the lion's share of the plot, and not in a good way. The plots, and I use the term loosely, became bookends around one long string of rationalizations to justify the constant rotation through Anita's revolving door of a vagina, to borrow a phrase from my beloved sister. I don't watch soap operas, and I'll be damned if I'll pay eight dollars a paperback to read them. I do enjoy actual erotica, but if I want to read that, I'll buy it specifically- I read the Anita Blake books because I enjoyed the *story*, the combination of magic and detective work and interesting characters, all of which I saw increasingly less of past "Bloody Bones" until I gave up utterly on "Cerulean Sins."
I also resent the implication that anyone who gives up reading does so because they were frightened and/or confused. I consider that insulting. Frightened and confused by what? They're not dark enough to be frightening- the "monster of the week" tone takes care of that- and they're not complicated enough to be confusing. It amuses me to note that there appears to be no concept available of someone who dislikes the direction the series has taken and has signed off- according to this, you apparently either have to be squeamish, a prude, easily offended, or a fluffy bunny to give up reading Anita Blake, and there are no other choices. Bollocks. Some of us just lost interest when the plots petered out and we wandered off.
Next point- these are supposed to be *challenging?* They're supposed to "push you past that comfortable envelope of the mundane" ? Whoa, whoa, back up the bus- when did this happen? The Anita Blake novels were fun, interesting, and often witty, but they are not challenging, from a literary point of view. If you want challenging fiction, may I introduce you to Thomas Pynchon? How about Kurt Vonnegut? Julio Cortazar? Ever read the Illuminatus Trilogy? *That's* challenging. The Blake books are, or were, supernatural detective stories. They were fun and all, but not exactly classics of western literature. If the Anita Blake novels are the most envelope-pushing books you've read, I have a whole list of books to suggest to widen your world-view, but if they're also the darkest books you've ever read, you may want to be cautious about anything I suggest. Trust me, it gets a lot darker out there.

Happy Mother's Day!

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Most of the sites I frequent cope reasonably well with dialup- some even adapt to it (thanks, DeviantArt!)- but Neopets just doesn't manage. It's a pain, because I really like playing it, but these days I spend roughly three minutes on it feeding my pets, before the lag gets to me and I have to go do something else.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

So, I've found Shelfari to be completely addictive, at least from an adding books perspective. Since I didn't have a lot to do this evening, I started in searching and adding books from my collection, and the next thing I know it's 10:30 and I feel compelled to write a blog post about it. I don't really do the whole review thing, but it's definitely neat to have a list of my books in one place. If I ever get them all on there, that is.

Interestingly, I'm over 350 books now on my Shelfari shelf, and I'm probably only 2/3rds of the way through the books in the middle room, and that's at best. It could be as low as half, depending on just how many paperbacks there really are stacked against the one wall- I can't really estimate by looking at it. Plus, there must be another hundred paperbacks in storage at the Farm, and another couple boxes at Mom and Dad's. There's probably another easy hundred and fifty on my Amazon wish list- jeez, we're going to need a lot of bookshelves when we get a house...

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"Man, I can't believe he's (Nojim) going to be gone for two weeks. What are we going to do?"
"Yeah, I know. I'm going to have to write a program. One that sings and shouts randomly."

Friday, May 08, 2009

It was a good, if unexpected trip out with the guys- Tom was in town, so it was decided to grab T$ after he got off-shift at midnight and go out. We took over the jukebox at the Keg (it was a mercy takeover- there was a Nickelback marathon going on when we arrived, and we certainly weren't going to stand for that) and played a variety of awesome stuff, and sang along at the top of our lungs (it's a nice place, they don't mind that sort of thing, especially when we were sitting right by the speakers and couldn't hardly hear ourselves anyway). We met a couple of really nice people who applauded our musical tastes, and the Owlvark and Nojim played some pool, which the Owlvark both won and lost by scratching after sinking the eight. It was a good night.

I will probably never get Dropkick Murphy's "Kiss Me I'm Shitfaced" out of my head, though...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Chaosium has a great policy of selling their shopworn books (fiction collections and rpg books) at 50% off- I picked up a handful a few months back and then promptly forgot to mention it on here. I don't mind shelfworn books myself- gods know my collection is mostly made up of used books, and anything I own is bound to get battered sooner or later considering all the time it will spend in a backpack, backseat of a car, the woods, the bathtub, etc. Chaosium has always put out extremely good products, and I could hardly tell these books were seconds- maybe a dogeared page here and there, but certainly nothing that could interfere with reading.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Okay, time to pitch in, PA friends

The current proposed budget for our state cuts all funding for public television. This is ludicrous and must be stopped. Please follow this link to send a message to the governor, senator, and representative. Please consider following up with some actual snail mail and perhaps a drop in to your representative's local office for a chat. Public television is incredibly important, and worth helping. Thanks.


It's spring, and the chicken catalogs are arriving. Man, we need a backyard...