webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
2. Your earliest memory of reading or being read to

I don't have any memories of being read to. I mean, J read Half Magic to me, but that was as an adult and I don't think it counts.

But, I guess ... it does! There. My only memory of being read to. Well, actually, when I was really sick W read a very silly history book of England to me (1066 and All That) so it's not my only memory, but those two are all I have. To be honest, I can't remember not being able to read, but since the question didn't say "as a child" (though I think it was implied), this is what you get.

I mean, I guess I can say I remember my teacher reading Where the Red Fern Grows</>I> to my class when I was in 4th grade but I don't think that counts either because it was a group and not a private reading.
webcowgirl: (Reading)
Right. The first question is hard:

1. A fictional character you identify with and why.

Um. I keep thinking it's going to be Madame Bovary or the lead character of the Awakening, but I just don't really feel like I'm the kind of person to passively sleepwalk through a tragic life that I've never tried to change. The problem with trying to choose a character from a book that I relate to is I don't know how my story ends. Am I a comic heroine, a tragic heroine, or a side character in some other story? I'm not sassy enough to be Becky Sharp and not ... Jane Eyre.

Wait. I remember. I identify with Janie from Their Eyes Were Watching God. She felt like there was more to life than what she had, and she stuck her neck out to try to make a life that meant something to her, that felt real. She was passionate and impulsive but also suffered and struggled - but despite all this, she could still see how life could be amazing. And at the end, when she was broke and broken, she didn't regret a thing.

The rest of the questions. )
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
I have been somewhat discouraged by the latest meme people have been doing, which I feel has questions that encourage gossip and stirring drama. This is of course not what we want to do online - we want to share information about ourselves. At least, that's what I'd like: and opportunity to learn about my friends and have them expand the horizons of my life. I'd like to encourage people to join in this book meme that [livejournal.com profile] robot_mel is doing. I am not going to be able to answer the questions due to brain fail for some things, but I'll do my best. Here's the meme so you can steal it. I will try to answer the questions myself starting this afternoon.

1. A fictional character you identify with and why The rest of the questions. )
webcowgirl: (Proust quote)
The books I am reading: The House of Mirth (Edith Wharton), Wigs on the Green (Nancy Mitford).

The book I am writing: working on my first short story.

The book I love most: In Search of Lost Time? Hard to say for me.

The last book I received as a gift: Lady Audley's Secret from [livejournal.com profile] booklectic.

The last book I gave as a gift: Proust's Days of Reading. Not sure if the person I sent it to has received it yet.

The nearest book on my desk: the Degenerate Book Club is meeting on the train to Lyme Regis next Friday, and I'm trying to race through House of Mirth.
webcowgirl: (Default)
I'm still sick, which is boring. On the other hand it doesn't appear anyone wants to actually do any work this week, so the speed I'm going at at the office seems to be about right for the rest of the crew. I busted my nuts getting some paperwork together so I was "ready to go" the first day back to work; the people I was supposed to meet with (from our parent company) didn't have time to bother with me for THREE WEEKS. It both pisses me off and makes me glad I didn't try to work any harder over the holiday.

On the other hand, it has all made it clear that there will be no work being accomplished until after the reorg, which is supposed to officially kick off at the beginning of February. So I've booked a trip to the Red Sea, where I will do the open water diving part of my PADI beginner SCUBA cert, for the last 5 days of January. The first half of the diving certification course I'm going to do here in London, a week from Saturday, as a matter of fact, and as it's a one day course instead of two I'm going to have to pack a bit of studying in over the next several days. I've got the book and DVD at hand thanks to the guy who sits next to me at work, so I'm all ready to go with the home study. I'm also planning on making a day trip to see Petra, the rock city in Jordan featured prominently in one of the Indiana Jones movies. It's been on my life list of places to go for ages, and it's the thing that pushed me to just do this trip despite the fact I am having to go by myself (and I hate travelling alone, it frequently does my nut). But look at this post I wrote in 2008 just after coming back from Egypt and still not seeing everything: I can always go back, after I visit Greece and Turkey and Morocco and ... and somehow I actually have visited all of these places in the last two years! It seems kind of amazing! Anyway, so sunshine and pretty fishies and Petra and rah. :-)

I've also been to two shows the last two evenings, both of which were excellent. Get Santa!, which I seriously went to see because tickets were available for only 5 quid (and still are for tomorrow evening's performance) was a brilliantly fucked up play about how a 10 year old sees Christmas and what they would do if they Ruled The World - or, worse yet, if their TEDDY BEAR ruled the world; it actually wasn't cute at all but rather sinister and completely awesome. Then tonight I went to see this silent live action animated movie musical called The Animals and Children Took to the Streets which also fully inhabited the world of dream logic and was pretty well awesome (though not as good as Get Santa!). It was sold out but we got there at 6:30 and queued for tickets, and I do feel our time was well rewarded despite the very crowded conditions inside the theater. I loved it, but full details will have to wait for my write-up, which I think I will do soon.

Anyway, so that's my new year trying to get off to a better start. Pretty much when I picked up the book of Charles Stross short stories and went to see the Big Sleep (a perfect film) at the BFI, things started improving.
webcowgirl: (Reading)
I'm really just making this post because I wanted to share the note that came in the copy of For Whom The Bell Tolls I got via Bookmooch a few days ago. It's for The Degenerate Book Club (the one I'm in with [livejournal.com profile] robot_mel and [livejournal.com profile] beluosus), and I think we're due to read it in a few months. Anyway, this is what I saw when I opened the book:

Hi! Hope you will enjoy this book more than I could do. The book was my mother's, and as far as I know no one ever read it so I'm glad it will now reach a better owner! - Hilda

Not very encouraging, is it?

At any rate, last year I read 44 books. I keep the list permanently on my LJ page, so if you're ever interested (and I assume nobody but me is), it is there. Oddly, I started the "books read" and "books bought" list as a way of keeping track of whether or not the number of books I read was anywhere near to the number of books bought, as I seem to acquire a HUGE number of books. I managed to finally shift the number to more bought than read for the first time last year thanks to, well, borrowing from [livejournal.com profile] booklectic. This year, she and Bookmooch were huge aids in pumping up the number of free reads I got in, as I don't count books received as gifts against my total. However, I've lost a bit the value these lists have in helping me remember what I actually have; in years gone by I've been able to do a search on the list and discover if I've read or bought a given book since 2004. This is very helpful when you're in a used book shop and trying to decide if you have book X in series Y for which there are N books total and you may only be on book 2 but wanting to take advantage of used book store prices to fill in the gaps in the series.

By the way, I know a lot of you might say "Use the library!" but I got too many late book fees for this to be a good plan for me; I read books at my own pace, and libraries don't like it if you want to drag out reading a particular book for, say, 6 months. Vanity Fair took me about three, and while that's not normal, it's typical of the way I read books. Also, if my favorite author has a new book out, I don't want to be #60 on the list of people who get to read the one at the library, and I don't want to have to rush through it because someone else is waiting. And, hey, as a book buyer, I am supporting authors, which is nice.
webcowgirl: (Reading)
About Vanity Fair : at the end I felt like I'd been living my life in a matter very similar to Jos Sedley (one that's not really particularly in my best interests), but ... I don't know how to stop. It's really such a great book, though, that it captures human failings in a way that really just transcend any particular historical period.

NaNoReadMo

Nov. 5th, 2010 09:55 am
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
This is the month I have in years past designated as "National Novel Reading Month," for those of us who have a deep love of literature but aren't going to be writing anything anytime soon. ([livejournal.com profile] booklectic, I expect you to spend this month WRITING.) My NaNoReadMo book will be Vanity Fair, which I do really hope to have finished by the end of the month; I'll post regularly on where I am in the book this month (perhaps daily!) to keep me honest on my progress. However, as it's a 657 page whopper, it's not really a fair book to suggest to other people for NaNoReadMo - I'm already at page 382, and if I weren't there'd be no chance of me getting through it.

I also had a wonderful conversation about books and book clubs for a man (Michael?) I met at the "Spem Et Alium" mega-choral concert on Wednesday night, and he gave me the following recommendations, the cream of 10 years of reading one large and one small novel 11 months of the year (astounding!):
Carson McCullers, Heart of the Lonely Hunter and Ballad of the Sad Cafe
Jaroslav Hacek, The Good Soldier Svejk ("a cross between The Master & Margarita and Catch-22)
Zola, La Bete Humaine
Balzac, Pere Goriot
Gascon, North and South

Members of the Degenerate Book Club, what do you think? Other readers out there, have you read any of these books?

The lodger

Oct. 24th, 2010 12:32 am
webcowgirl: (Default)
So just how much do I explain my personal life to my lodger?

I think the answer is: not at all.

Great night watching musical Juliet and Me at the Finborough: there was tap dancing and an actor inadvertently launched a maraca at me during a very strange "south of the border" sequence. But the highlight was really the nice visit I had with the guy I went to the show with; we have far more in common than I thought. He may be my post-[livejournal.com profile] theta_g lodger: the need for one is clearly not going away.

Tomorrow is book club and a movie at the Barbican; I need to get 40 pages more read of Lady Chatterley's Lover before then. I don't think it will be too hard; it's actually a very good book, and very thoughtful. What I want to do is have pancakes for breakfast with someone and go for a walk in Richmond Park as it's supposed to be sunny, but that kind of stuff is all part of my old life and learning to live without it is part of my new one.
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
Well, my Pilates class was canceled tonight. They offered me a free class in compensation (ace as I'm perennially broke these days), then [livejournal.com profile] wechsler invited me to do the "hanging out after class" thing without the class, which meant going over to his, both of us leaving work early so we could actually get on the Tube. We bought groceries and I cooked a big dinner: roast chicken & garlic sauteed greens & corn on the cob & mashed potatoes and gravy. YUM. Then we watched Where the Wild Things Are, which I meant to see in the theaters but kept missing. Same problem with Pan's Labrynth. Some day, you know? Anyway, it was fun and got better as the rain started pissing down but we were comfortably sat on the couch. I left at 10 and made it back in very good time, with easy connections in a spookily deserted Clapham Junction.

So adding the latest book I finished reading to my "Books Read" list, I see I'm just one book away from having the number of books I've read equal the number I've bought this year (in part this is due to getting lots of free books; my book acquisitions have actually been too great for the space available for said books). The question is: what do I read next "to restore balance," as it were? Here's some options:

The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eyes - A.S. Byatt
The Female Man - Joanna Russ
Across the Wall - Garth Nix

And with that, I'm going to bed. Working from home tomorrow, yay!
webcowgirl: (Theater)
MAN. I came home last night just DYING to see what happened with Elizabeth & Mr Darcy and I wound up staying up half an hour past my late bedtime to find out. Not good. Still, happy ending!

My trip to Dubrovnik ended with a last swim and an on time flight complete with cheap local booze purchases at duty free (5 euro bottle of vodka, anyone?). I was hardcore and went home directly to drop off my bags before going into town to see Clybourne Park at the Royal Court. It's a good show, about a house in which, in the 50s, a black family is about to move, then, in 2009, a white family. I enjoyed the play, and I enjoyed the company even more, as the West End Whingers were there which meant I had someone to hang out with. I wound up staying way too late afterwards - just a complete lack of control on my part, good wine and good company mean I forget to check my watch. Very naughty, but a great way to come back to London and feel happy about it.

Work fortunately was not a pain yesterday, and I had Pilates at Alison's to look forward to. I went early intending to leave early, but instead I got a 70 minute work out (which I can really feel this morning). I then booked all the way across town to Putney so I could have dinner at [livejournal.com profile] wechsler's - after being gone for so long, we had a lot of visiting to do. It was fun; we ended the night looking at Amy's pictures from our trip. It was a good night and made me glad to be back home.
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
Right - I'm packing for my trip (Dubrovnik this time) and I'm currently on the most important bit, picking the books. Clothes one can find while travelling but in most foreign countries English literature is not easily come by. I've got six books, all of which can be left behind if they prove unsatisfactory - or read. They are:
Snuff Fiction, Robert Rankin
Count Karlstein, Phillip Pullman (I will read this one first)
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (not likely to be as good as Persuasion but there you have it)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle (expect this won't really be to my tastes and will be left behind)
Night Train, Martin Amis

I feel confident I can read at least three of these on my trip, one each way on the plane, and one in the evenings or on the beach. Mmmm, books. How I love them.

15 books

Jul. 19th, 2010 03:31 pm
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
Stole this meme from [livejournal.com profile] varina8: 15 books you've read that will stick with you forever. No more than 15 minutes to write down, and right off the top of your head. Here's my list. Read more... )
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
My goodness, I am ever so sick of reading phrases like this:

"Woman's primary happiness is marriage to a man she respects as much as she loves; who is her superior in mind and character; and who makes all decisions for her, not because he crushes her will but because he enlightens her reason and gives support for her weakness."

Really, I haven't read anything so irritating since La Nouvelle Heloise! I want to just throw it across the room!
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
I've really been making huge progress with The Master and Margarita but Amy just lent me the latest Charlaine Harris and I feel all of my desire to read serious literature leaking out my ear.

Tonight: went to a Pop Up Parlour with A and J and Sue for a nice long chat free of cell phones and computers; then we went to the Crane and Tortoise nearby for some Japanese food. It was a strange place (too pub-like) but the food was good and I certainly approved of the prices. Biggest problem: warm sake needed to be available in much less expensive bottles.

Big presentation tomorrow at the British Computing Society (okay, little presentation but it's my first here): look up the program for the BCS SIGIST and you'll see my name. I'm kind of excited, but given that it's almost 11 PM right now, I think I'm actually more tired than anything else and just ready to go to bed, now that my Legally Blonde review is finished.
webcowgirl: (Status report)
I have a presentation at 1. I also have an (obligatory) class on how to give presentations on Wednesday. Part of the prep work is taking an online class on how to give presentations - only I'm too busy prepping for an actual presentation to do that. Ah, the irony. Since when is so much of my work "presenting?" I mean, thank God I have no fear of speaking to others, or this would be insufferable. However, I think I could use a suit, but my goal of getting one from Talbots seems to be impossible as they seem to be running out of my size in all of their sale lines. Time to buy off of Ebay, I think.

Books on the train today: a man was reading Crime and Punishment, and a woman was reading an Ian Banks book about Crows. I forgot to write its title down but those of you who know the author will know immediately what I mean. Me, I'm reading Charlaine Harris' last Sookie book, Dead and Gone, and feeling very sorry about it because I'm already 2/3 done and I think I only started on Friday in a blatant attempt to pick up a book so absorbing I'd get stuck in right away. I'm also kind of poking around with Cold Comfort Farm, which, I'll admit, is quite funny. I love that the cows on the farm are called Graceless, Pointless, Feckless, and Aimless.

It was, in fact, so crowded on the ride that it was almost impossible to read at all. We were leaving people behind at every station, though folks were really doing their best to crowd in all the way along. Stockwell was a huge blessing. It's a mystery why some days it's so crowded and somedays it's not. Maybe it's because the weather is so good today: our March has truly come in like a lamb.

I was hoping maybe to see [livejournal.com profile] ergotia tonight (though really I ought to do better when trying to see people than just send them a response on LJ), but as thing are shaping up and per a recommendation from [livejournal.com profile] zygopetalum on another post, I think I really just ought to go to Pilates after work. I've got my workout clothes with me, so it just might happen.

AAAND 28 things on my todo list, including a presentation at 1 PM. Time to get cracking!
webcowgirl: (Ozu)
My "keep yourself busy" strategy for the month of February has really kept me hopping this week. Fortunately I've still been seeing lots and lots of Ozu, which means going out but not coming home late. This week we saw Late Spring, which was really just quite a Japanese movie. It had a tea ceremony, a trip to Noh theater (have never seen it before!), and lots of visits to sake bars. It also really pointed out some very Japanese attitudes that I'd never conceived of before, such as that getting remarried (even after being widowed!) would make you unclean. I especially enjoyed the scenes set in Kyoto, which reminded me of J and mine's trip back in 2001, right before I started that horrible job at the insurance company. (The icon is from Floating Weeds, by the way.)

Wednesday, then, was a trip to see Bette Bourne of Bloolips in A Life in Three Acts. Bette had a lot of great stories to tell (the play was about her life, basically a reenactment of a series of interviews) and I really enjoyed the insight into 50s-80s London. Whoda thunk that being an actor could be just as much of a trade as being a printer? And also it was great to hear someone who felt so strongly "I just gotta be me."

Last night was a Fado colored dance show at the Linbury called "God's Garden" (which I haven't written up yet). It was a little incoherent but pleasant enough - they did give out wine to the audience and there was a very hunky man taking off his clothes. Beforehand we went to Kitchen Italia, which unfortunately has gone for those bench seats I hate so much. They also made their waiters upsell you to "filtered" water when you ask for tap specifically. I was aggravated, and to make it worse the risotto was chalky (read: underdone). But I ran into my old coworker Ken there, and he didn't snob me off. We'll see if he really wants to hang out and play games.

And if there are any Faulkner fans out there, this New York Times article about a notebook that influenced much of his writing is well worth reading.

Off to work now ...
webcowgirl: (Theater)
I feel like, while I've posted a few things, most of my weekend has gone unremarked on other than Saturday. Friday night I saw a really good play, 11 and 12. It's by Peter Brook and it's about this Sufi mystic in Mali in the early 20th century. Any description I might make of it here wouldn't do it justice. I think, in short, it was pretty much perfect; read my review for more detail.

This actually meant that rather a lot of Saturday was spent writing up the review, in addition to seeing a movie and having people over for games. I wound up drinking a lot that night (well, a lot over a long period of time) so I didn't finish the review that night.

I saw two Ozu movies, both of which gave me strange insights into Japanese values. Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family taught me that working was considered extremely unclassy if you were an upper class woman; better to be penniless and not embarass the family.

But, you know, the real reason I'm writing right now isn't to bore you with the minutiae of my life; it's to share with you how awesome Their Eyes Were Watching God. I'm going to quote you a passage, Tea Cake (a man) and Janie (his wife, 15 years older than him) talking, from p 171 in my copy. Janie starts.

"Tea Cake, 'tain't no use in you bein' jealous uh me. In the first place Ah couldn't love nobody but yuh. And in de second place, Ah jus' uh ole woman dat nobody don't want but you."

"Naw, you ain't neither. You only sound ole when you tell folks when you wuz born, but wid de eye you'se young enough tuh suit most any man. Dat ain't no lie. Ah knows plenty mo' men would take yuh and work hard fuh de privelege. Ah done heard 'em talk."

"Maybe so, Tea Cake, Ah aint' never tried tuh find out. Ah jus' know dat God snatched me out de fire through you. And Ah loves yuh and feel glad."

"Thank yuh, ma'am, but don't say you'se ole. You'se uh lil girl baby all de time. God made it so you spent yo' ole age first wid somebody else, and saved up you' young girl days to spend wid me."

It's really just an amazing work, fantastic evocation of life in Florida at that time. At one point it kinda reminded me of Katrina all over again. I can't tell you how highly I recommend this book. And, well, as a woman who feel the way Janie does about herself, it sure does resonate.
webcowgirl: (Default)
Quick update. What I need to be doing right now is finishing my Little Dog Laughed review. I'll call this my warm up.

Looks like I haven't been posting about "life" on here, so:

Friday: a day at work I've already forgotten about, followed by birthday drinks chez [livejournal.com profile] booklectic, where I got to see lots of my friends but was really struggling to stay awake.

Theme: not enough sleep lately.

Saturday: an Ozu themed day, with an afternoon lecture at the BFI about Tokyo Story (comparison of him to Chekov very good), then a viewing of Dragnet Girl, which I had a hard time not dozing off during. Then we slogged through the rain to Amy's house, where she served us chile and we watched State Fair. It was a good night but I felt beat.

Sunday: headed to Putney after lunch and then walked to Wimbledon Heath with [livejournal.com profile] wechsler. A good evening, really, and I managed to get to sleep at a decent hour.

Monday: at work, I spent most of my day with my peer from our government owned doppelganger. Part of this was listening to a presentation on "What Good Is," which started out with me arguing for half an hour with the speaker, who asserted the goal of testing is finding bugs. Seriously. He might as well say that the goal of medicine is to keep doctors employed. Later MyTwin and I talked about how screwed up the situation is at the companies we work for. Always good to have someone who really understands your situation, I say.

Monday night: went to see Little Dog Laughed, for which I got free tickets and for which I'm being paid to write a review ... you know, when I finish this journal entry. I started it on the train on the way back home - a girl's gotta take the time where she can find it.

This morning: joined BookMooch. Decided not to post any books (even though I have a basketful I want to give away next to the couch) because I don't feel like mailing them right now. FYI, I've been reading Steel Remains and enjoying it quite a lot. Man on elf smut in actual printed literature: what has the world come to? (The answer to which is "good things," of course.)

Work: two hours of coaching from the Silver Fox (not time too well spent but I got a good idea on teaching people how to "challenge," in this case take all the things they see that don't work right and try to get them to think how they might be fixed, or even improved a little, THEN work on getting them to do it); wrote up job descriptions (this is why I forget what I do, it was boring); then a two hour meeting I didn't really need to be at which forced me to listen to a colleague berate a supplier for not doing something three months ago that he no longer cared if the guy did or didn't do. I wanted to leave the room.

I was late getting out because I needed to set an OOF message as I am in training the next two days, and I was 5 minutes late for A Mother Should Be Loved at the BFI. I had a hard time not falling asleep again, so I was okay with the fact that the final reel was missing and we all got to leave after a mere 77 minutes. J and I used our extra time to get dinner at Chatkhara, which was good.

And now: writing!
webcowgirl: (Proust quote)
I still think the idea of condensing "In Search of Lost Time" into a ten minute play suitable for stick puppets is a good idea. There is so much more to the book than cookies. It's like saying Star Wars is all about "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away ..." And tonight [livejournal.com profile] wechsler said Proust was emotionally stunted. It's just not true!

But really, what I wanted to do was drop a quote about Proust into my journal, because I was very cheered to see that he's continuing to be relevant in modern culture. This came up in the Metro, in an article on Orhan Pamuk:

"In my memoir Istanbul I talk about the city as an index of landscapes and sentiments; we walk down the street and see objects that are registered in our memory because of our associations. This was invented by Proust and his famous madeleines in Remembrance Of Things Past. In my and Kemal’s museum virtually everything is a madeleine."

Well! Life is just a plate of cookies, eh? It's hardly deep when expressed that way, but it's cool that I understand just what he's trying to get at. And it does make Istanbul sound like an even neater city than it is. I, however, felt like I was never able to get any deeper than the surface. Still, it warms my cockles to see my beloved Marcel is still being referenced regularly.

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