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|Friday, January 1st, 2010|
|2009 Reading in Review
I went through phases this year, where I could read a lot really fast, but also where social life, work and graduate school just sucked it all away. I read really cheap modern fiction, science fiction and mystery, and I read classics, and I read classics I had no interest in reading, but told my mother I would if she purchased the book for me (Pride and Prejudice).
Counting only the books I read for the first time, my favorites were:
The Red Prince
One Hundred Years of Solitude
The Radetzky March
The Gathering Storm
Short Stories by Voltaire and Gogol
146 read cover to cover is a reduction from last year's pace just counting May-December, but I did spend several months JUST reading last year, and this year I had no such luxury. The pace also slowed down in school because I read far more selections of books and articles than complete books.( Without further ado, the listCollapse ) Current Mood: tired
|Saturday, May 17th, 2008|
Tonight I saw Prince Caspian, and I figured I would post my comments (though this is, by no means, a review of the movie). They will be a little discombobulated and I will cut anything I think is a spoiler. I am sure there are more, but that is what I can think of right now and what I remember. Soon I will reread the book and have more problems, but at the moment I am a bit hazy on it and that book is already packed.
-My first thought upon starting the movie: Oh my God! Narnia has been conquered by the Spanish.
- They stole Julius Caesar's bridge making technique, and even though he was making a far larger bridge, his was faster. The Talmarian bridge was eventually torn apart by a river thing that very much resembled the river god depicted on the columns of Trajan and Hadrian.
-Talmarians have repeating EVERYTHING. Repeating crossbows are cool, but what I really want is a repeating trebuchet. That counts as a war machine.
- Peter needs to learn how to stand up straight. Also, all the main characters were pouty beyond belief, and they really just needed to get over it. Peter's posture was just a problem.
-Susan really needed feather fletchings. Instead her arrows were fletched with rubber. The bow itself was dumb, too, but that is another issue.
All in all, I was glad I saw it and did have fun, though how much of that was making snarky remarks and how much was that I enjoyed the film is debatable. I probably made too many sexist remarks thoughout, but sometimes that just cannot be helped and I did get hit two or three times for making them.
The ending was also sort of a problem for me, but that will be something I will only talk about with those who have seen it or specifically tell me to spoil it. And the real problem was that there was no scene after the credits.
PS: I decided that what I want now is a girlfriend who shoots lasers
. Current Mood: tired
|Thursday, May 15th, 2008|
|Books, books, books
So last week I decided to join librarything
, partly in an effort to find new books to read and partly to catalogue the books I already have. What I discovered is that counting the book I am throwing away, and two uncatalogued books, I had 300 books at college. Granted this is most of my personal collection, but there are some books I am practically disowning and a few others that I will add.
For anyone curious, here
is my library. Eventually I will need to find rhyme and/or reason for organizing them on a shelf, but that requires a shelf. Current Mood: sleepy
|Tuesday, May 13th, 2008|
|Because EVERYONE KNOWS that Robert Jordan sucks
The Wheel of Time series has its faults, certainly, but it is not entirely worthy of derision. George RR Martin wrote a very nice excerpt about Robert Jordan
after the latter's death, and after rereading portions of his series, I feel like I want to write something that summarizes my view of it.
First and foremost, there are significant problems. The plot often moves at a sluggish pace and an entire volume can go by with no resolution and very little change. In the same vein, there are so many subplots that they can be ignored for long stretches of time. For example, main characters have been dropped to the wayside for an entire book simply because there is too much going on (and because he was recovering from doing the impossible in one situation, and from a house falling on him in another). This is also the result of a wide world that now has "main" characters scattered across it.
Some of the sword forms are unimaginative, sayings trite and overused, and a large number of people simply hysterical. Many plots are predictable and there are claims that he changed the entire course of his novels because people predicted what was coming (though I get annoyed with prediction threads that attempt to write the novel for the author in the process--an example is here
: on a forum for GRRM, where there is a commonly held theory about Jon Snow's heritage, that is now prevalent enough that they no longer refer to Jon as Ned's son, but rather R+L, but his is another topic). Finally, Robert Jordan was not the best author going aside from all of this, but as I often say, it is a rather large measuring stick when you are being compared to Tolkien.
All in all there are a lot of problems, but some of that is ambition--he was too ambitious. What people often fail to realize is that there are mitigating factors to the problems and that the series will indeed finish.
If people have read and want to comment, I may come back and add more, since there are more things that I like about the series, I just either can't focus on them right now or they didn't fit into the line of thinking that I had. There are more characters that I like in the series and more that I find fault with, but maybe that will be another post or in-depth comment. Current Mood: grumpy
|Friday, May 9th, 2008|
As trying as this semester has been at times (many, many times), I don't really want it to be done. As tough as it has been to live where I am, in a pig sty, with a number of people who drive me crazy, even if not all of them technically live there, it wasn't long enough. I feel there is more I want to do, I want a re-do on a number of things from this semester (if anyone cares for a list, I could give it). I am prone to regret, and there is definitely a hint of wistfulness, but at a certain level I really should just move on.
On a completely other topic, I realized that I really like reading stories about horribly horribly dangerous people. I just finished reading Genghis: Birth of an Empire
by Conn Iggulden. I would not label this a "good" book, nor a piece of high quality literature, but it was an entertaining read and a page turner. Iggulden is prone to repeated turns of phrases and has his favorite methods of moving the story forward (and really likes swordsmen), so it is obvious that he also wrote the Emperor
series about Julius Caesar. That being said, his phrases and methods are not ineffective and certainly marks his work in the same way that other historical fiction authors also have distinctive features.
PS One of my least favorite things about the book is that the cover (which is not really that bad) shows every horseman with a spear, when I don't think spears are mentioned once in the book--it is always a sword, a bow or two, arrows, and other tools, but no spears. Current Mood: blah
|Saturday, May 3rd, 2008|
|Update on life...
1) I have a picture to draw, a final and a paper edit. Otherwise i just have more thesis edits after my defense on Monday, then I am done with Undergrad.
2) Monday I defend my thesis. I am not so sure that it will go well, but I am going to go into it as a conversation and just chat with them, hopefully well enough.
3) Graduation is May 18.
4) For the next week, I will either wander around, walk Appalachian Trail, crash at various people's apartment's or houses.
5) May 21st I am going to Florida with my Mom. The trip is mostly intended to see my grandfather, who I have not seen in almost six years. I will be there one week, then coming back to Vermont or another location to find a job or work.
6) This summer I am going to be working at some job, somewhere. I might even live in Michigan where I have free rent, but would have to make money to pay back loans and live. If I don't live there for the summer, then I may just choose to visit there and stay for a week or two or something. I don't know.
7) Next year I will reapply for grad school.
Such is life. It is a strange time, both of the year normally, and in my life. Not being settled is wreaking havoc in terms of my mood, my plans, and what I am doing on a day to day bases, any romantic aspirations I have, etc. I really, really want to be settled, but that won't happen for some time yet. *sigh* Current Mood: tired
|Wednesday, April 30th, 2008|
No, I did not just spend 22.5 hours in 24 hours at the library...I didn't stay quite that long. Yes, I did just spend 21.5 out of 23 hours in the library, though.
Now I go home, eat breakfast and do Latin, lift weights, shower and then come back here to do Latin, then go to work and you know, the rest of my day. If I am done with everything or can't physically function I will get to sleep at around 11:30 or midnight tonight. If I can still function and am going strong, then I might try and pound out the rest of my thesis since I didn't quite finish it in this past marathon session. Current Mood: tired
|Tuesday, April 29th, 2008|
|Wikipedia is not completely useless
Though it is prone to generalization and conspiracy theories (and so is modern scholarship in general), the wikipedia article on Alexander III
is not all that bad. It is thorough and generally accurate. One person also had an interesting statement about the succession that is worth further examination
. I do not know how well they researched the specific word involved, but off the top of my head, I think their Greek is right.
They also don't elaborate enough on why it is important, but then they probably haven't spent the last year torturing themselves with the intricacies of Macedonian aristocratic culture and specifically the officers/court of Alexander.
|Monday, April 28th, 2008|
|Thesis and a week update a.k.a. I get what I ask for
I just want to warn people that if you see me and I am not typing/walking resolutely towards class or somewhere I can type/making a caffeine run this week, then something is wrong. Things will go somewhat downhill if I can make it through sleeping tomorrow night--It is entirely possible that I will spend upwards of 20 hours in the library tomorrow, leaving only for food, caffeine, and class...until this
draft of my thesis is finished. Before break I handed my readers my thesis, and one of them knows my writing better than anyone else on campus, plus is a kind giving soul, so she took it upon herself to edit the whole thing and rip it to shreds (there are no nice words about it at all). Granted, this is what I wanted, so I am happy, I am just worried that it will not get done or will come out badly, or is just awful in and of itself.
Then again, this is how I get better and Cheryl pushes me to succeed.
Thank you Cheryl, I appreciate it.
Oh yeah, as for the rest of the week, I have two days of classes left, a review session and other events
on Thursday, a softball game on Wednesday and then the capper is my Latin exam midafternoon on Friday. I just have to push through until a week from Wednesday, though after Friday I will have time to edit my other paper for Cheryl and such, which will make things somewhat better. Current Mood: stressed
|Friday, April 25th, 2008|
First and foremost, from now on whenever I post on my blog
(history blog, not this), I am going to link it here, worked into a post somehow.
I am right now wishing that I had chosen a different topic to design my course because I have now found another class I want to take, but I don't know if it exists anywhere. I want to take a course on Steppe Peoples. From Sarmations to Huns to Scythians to Parthians to Turks to Mongols, I want to learn about them. I would probably get bored with that too, but the Mongols in particular fascinate me. The others do as well, just to a lesser degree.
If I did the course, it would be something like "Steppe Peoples and their impact on civilization" and then talk about their interactions with China, with the golden cities of Central Asia, the Islamic world, Byzantium, Rome, Hellenistic civilizations.
Or I might be interested in a course on Hellenistic Bactria.
Damn my curiosity. Current Mood: tired
|Monday, April 21st, 2008|
|Walk the Line
I just finished watching Walk the Line for the first time and I must say that it is the best movie I have seen in quite some time. Joaquin Phoenix replicates the hardships, addictions and impudence of the man in black while Reese Witherspoon remains gorgeous as always (somehow the word "spunky" comes to mind). I thought Phoenix was a good actor after Gladiator, but I didn't know how good until I watched this movie and really bought into the pain that Johnny Cash was not only feeling, but also inflicting. Watching someone self destruct is one of the hardest things to do and Phoenix sells it, making the audience empathize with him while at the same time revile him for the pain he causes his wife, his kids and June Carter.
I have not yet decided if I am going to own this movie. It may be too painful for me to watch repeatedly, perhaps because I see some of myself in the frustrated, self hating depiction of Johnny Cash, but it is a definite possibility.
As much as I was glad to see this movie, it marked a poor end to my three day work hiatus and I don't think it helped my mood any, which has been slipping for two days. I can't tell if there is something actually wrong with my surroundings, if I am being paranoid, if I am being unlucky or I am merely being petty.
I want another try at being a senior. Current Mood: blah
|Thursday, April 17th, 2008|
The last two days have been difficult. Not that I have really done that much work (cuz I haven't), nor that anything bad has happened (cuz it hasn't), they have just been strange. For one thing I have gotten a more normal amount of sleep, but then I can't get moving in the morning to get more work done. My leg is pretty roughed up from softball, which hasn't helped, but mostly I have just been kind of brain dead. I just need to get keep the wheels churning for another 31 hours and then I can afford to be apathetic for a weekend.
Greek paper- nearly done, but not good.
Thesis- good, but not nearly done. Current Mood: blank
|Tuesday, April 15th, 2008|
|Sunday, April 13th, 2008|
I am not a terribly religious person--in fact I often make jokes about it, but one thing I do not do is mock faith. Sometimes faith frightens me because of the things that some people do because of it, but there is still something admirable about it. Human connectedness, some god or another, rebirth, whatever, being willing to put oneself at the mercy of fate or higher power is something I somewhat envy.
I do believe in determination and hard work. Combined with a streak of stubbornness it makes things move forward and goals reached, but there are times I wish I had faith in something higher, that there is a plan. Of course this is also a contradiction for me because one of the reasons that I don't have this faith is because I don't like to think that things are preordained, or that I am not in control. I don't know. I want to be in control and decide my own fate, but sometimes I just wish I had that reassurance that there is a higher power out there looking out for me.
Call me a cynic, but none of the current religions offer this for me. Sure, they are interesting reads and offer insight and options, but I have problems with the organizations and some of the followers of all of them. At some point this may change, I might have an epiphany; a new religion may come along or something else may happen, but for the moment I feel that the only thing I can have faith in is myself.
There is actually a base cause for all of this, things have been building up and today I found out about some other things. If you want to know more ask me personally and I may or may not be willing to explain. If you are one who believes, though, any prayers you have for my family (not for me, but my extended family can use any help it can gets right now) would be appreciated. Current Mood: overwhelmed
|Friday, April 11th, 2008|
|Really random mix.
1) Dawn was beautiful and kind of terrifyingly red this morning.
2) Kapelle wants me to go out on more limbs and make wilder claims in my thesis. I want to be right. That being said, two sections edited, one more picked up later today. I should have everything set for readers before vacation and (hopefully) I will be set by mid afternoon on May 5.
3) One of my new favorite songs is "Some Fantastic" by the Barenaked Ladies.
4) I feel good for being up 26 hours at the point. Going to the gym in a few minutes, then shower. That combo usually wakes me up. T-minus sixteen hours until bed. Current Mood: lethargic
|Lots to go.
This beast of mine is only 138 pages of stuff right now, 124 pages of actual text. I hope to add a four to six page appendix to it before the night is over.
Twenty-one hours to sleep and counting. Current Mood: caffeinated
|Wednesday, April 9th, 2008|
|Funny what you read sometimes..
So I am watching a music video on youtube (Steve Azar, I don't have to be me ('til Monday)) and the newest base thread in the comments section says this:
"this song is great what happened to his songs his songs where awesome and is he now a fat dude ( not to be rastest) but did he turn into a fat guy?"
Now I must say I was surprised, though I probably shouldn't have been seeing as what comments are on a lot of youtube videos. What actually made me laugh was the reply someone posted:
"Well, how can you be racist against a fat guy? Overweight people can be of any skin colour just like they can be of any age, nationality, religion or lack thereof, etc." Current Mood: productive
|Tuesday, April 8th, 2008|
|Archer Mayor - Chat
I don't usually do book reviews, but I would like to talk about them more, so perhaps I will try a bit more often.
I have a personal fondness for Archer Mayor that goes beyond his writing style, skill, narrative structure, etc. The Joe Gunther series is about a local Vermonter who became a Brattleboro police officer, who became detective, chief detective, who became a state officer, who became the head of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation, etc. Characters recur, but the novels are about Joe, who is simply a down to earth, hard working police officer. Of course this basic, though not uninteresting character grabbed my attention (though he is not my favorite in the series) and my attachment to him keeps me reading when I am fortunate enough to get one of the novels, but my real affection is that it is Vermont.
Setting it in Brattleboro makes it far enough away that it is not creepy to read about the crimes in my area, and far enough that I can't find qualms with the setting, but in reading the books it is clear that Archer Mayor lives in Vermont. The feel is pure Vermont and the characters act like it.
Even if you are not from Vermont there is cause for reading the books because they are well written, easy to read and engaging--he never reveals too much, though in some ways the end is inevitable in that there is a crime, Joe ends up on the case, Joe and his team do some stuff, Joe usually gets shot at at least once and then he "wins", albeit with an ever increasing number of scars.
Chat, the latest in the series, is about online predators and exploitation and while they are seemingly from nowhere, the inserts of online "chats" between chapters are all too familiar in unmoderated chatrooms (hence my use only of moderated ones for specific purposes). Current Mood: busy
|Friday, April 4th, 2008|
|No really, I want your take on this...
So I had an interesting conversation with my fellowship advisor this morning and one of the topics broached was early Christianity. She wanted to know what my take was on what my fellows know of the subject. My take is that people don't know very much because for many people it is not a topic covered in school, even in world history classes.
Here is what I am interested in knowing:
1) What do you know about early Christianity? Early, say, between 35 CE and 900 CE.
2) How do you know what you know? Did you take a class? Go to missionary? Sunday school? Mel Gibson movies and Hollywood? Read a book? Receive instruction from the Angel Gabriel? How? Current Mood: Weary