31 July 2008

Home again, home again, jiggedy-jig

I think the first part of that rhyme goes "To market, to market..." but I don't remember the rest.

I'm home again after Conclave. Great fun was had by all. Saw lots of old friends but if you're looking for Fraternity gossip, you won't find it here. Ha! But I do have a confession: I was probably the only one there who brought 6 books, four journals, and three knitting projects (I don't know what possessed me to bring all that, it's not like there's a lot of scheduled down-time where people go off by themselves).

However, probably consequent to going to Conclave, my six-year-old laptop has decided that it's about time to die. It gave me the "blue screen of death" twice between Sunday and Wednesday which scares me to death. I've got the memory backed-up but it is much easier to transfer from one to the other not via the back-up drive.

But it's my birthday soon and I've been looking at laptops. I've been drooling over the Tablet PCs for a while now - Best Buy has an HP Pavilion that comes with all the bells and whistles and is pretty reasonably priced. The Vaio's look pretty nice, too. No Macs, please. I'm going to throw a printer into the package because mine died about 2 years ago (6 years of use is not bad for a cheap-ass printer from Wal-mart).

I'm tired. This week is like hell-week for me and I've got two days to go (tomorrow night being the Breaking Dawn release party - 300 crazy teenagers, please shoot me now, thanks).

Current book-in-progress: Rebecca, The Green Knight, and Agnes Grey (not quite finished); the next BN Recommends came out this week - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - and it's really good!
Current knitted item: Baby booties for Rachel's babies and socks
Current movie obsession: I have not watched anything since I got home but I do have Secretary, Donnie Darko, and Slings and Arrows vol 1 sitting on top of the TV
Current iTunes loop: "Showtunes" playlist

21 July 2008

Hard Candy (like, whoa)

So, yay, Ellen Page was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Juno. What I really want to know is why wasn't she nominated for an Oscar for Hard Candy? Or Patrick Wilson, for that matter? These two actors gave the most real, raw performances and they need to be recognized for their work. Also, David Slade as the director did an amazing job. This is how a suspenseful thriller is made. This movie made me cringe from about the 20-minute mark and didn't let up until the closing credits scrolled. So many "Oh, my God, they aren't really...." moments occured and the whole-picture package really makes you think about how to view voyerism, vigillanteism (is that even a word?), retribution, etc. However, the whole picture rests on Page's performance as a fourteen-year-old girl, hell-bent on getting the truth, and she is utterly spellbinding in this part. You can't look away.

The rest of this week is marginally crazy. I've already got a case of the Mondays - I took the car to Sears for an oil change before embarking my Conclave drive and wound up having to buy two new tires as well (they were getting kind of crappy, but I was hoping to hold out until fall). Sears also tried to convince me that the right-front pin-tie (???) was loose; um, yeah, don't have an extra 200 bucks just laying around unused since the tires are $200. The car will go to Boubin for that (Dad was also skeptical that whatever-part-they-looked-at needed replacing).

Current book-in-progress: Rebecca, The Green Knight, and Agnes Grey (not quite finished)
Current knitted item: Baby booties for Rachel's babies and socks! (tan linen evening bag can wait)
Current movie obsession: Secretary
Current iTunes loop: Filmspotting and NPR

20 July 2008

The Shakespeare Wars and Brazil

As promised, a more detailed comment on Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars. I did really like this book - a little more elevated than the average layperson's book but not so full of Theory that's it was hard to read (and Rosenbaum doesn't seem to be a Theory fan). The arguements over what is or is not "Shakespearean" are extensive and Rosenbaum did a great job going through everything. The debate over how to print the plays was also interesting - I never realised that manuscript copies don't exist for the plays (I should have because there are no extant examples of Shakespeare's handwriting in manuscript form) and there are disagreements over whether the Folio or Quarto editions are the "best" or a conflated version of a play is necessary.

My favorite chapter is titled "The Spell of the Shakespearean in 'Original Spelling'" - a full debate over how to spell the actual words of the plays when printed. Elizabethan writers worked without a codified system of spelling or meaning and so a word could be spelled several ways. Complicating this is the idea that the plays were designed to be heard - when written down in prompt copies, it was probably not as crucial as it is today that the words be spelled correctly. Now when plays are printed, we read them with very concrete ideas about spelling and meaning. My favorite example used is from Richard II in the deposition scene; Henry Bolingbroke asks Richard if he is ready to resign the crown. In modern editions, Richard's reply is written as:

Ay, no, no ay; for I must nothing be...

However the 1608 Quarto edition reads:

I, no; no I, for I must nothing be...

There is also the idea that at least one of the "I/ay" words is meant to be "eye" - interesting no (this argument is taken from pages 254-256 in The Shakespeare Wars)?

Among other things, I also watched Brazil (I had started Secretary but about 20 minutes in I realized I was not in "that" type of mood and switched to something a little funnier). If I had not known it was a Terry Gilliam film, I would have guessed because the fantasy elements in Brazil are extremely similar to Baron Munchausen and the Monty Python movies. I thought the movie very funny but also very sad - the depiction of reliance on paperwork and computers to run the country hits very close to home today. The little touches of "our world" - Dickens's A Christmas Carol and the black-and-white movies shown on the telescreens - were also very poignant. Jonathan Pryce also gave a great performance as Sam Lowry, the poor civil servant caught between the cogs of his world.

Next week I'll be busy, busy - Conclave at IU!

Current book-in-progress: Rebecca (August BNBC) and The Green Knight (September BNBC), almost finished with Bambi vs. Godzilla and The Dead Father
Current knitted item: Tan linen evening bag
Current movie obsession: Hard Candy (so, yeah, this film is creepy - I'm about 30 minutes in and didn't expect it to take this type of turn already) then I'll go back and finish Secretary
Current iTunes loop: Filmspotting (a two episode Dark Knight review)

18 July 2008

The Dark Knight

First things first: Scott, if you're reading this stop now and go buy your movie tickets.

Second: Marcus Theatres is probably the worst theatre chain in history. I went to a midnight release; I'd never been to a midnight release and thought it would be fun. The management at the Coral Ridge Mall Theatres decided to hold the start of the showing until everyone had been through the concession line (lame). The reasoning? Midnight showings always start late. Excuse me (Cedar Rapids theatres don't have this problem)? I paid $9.50 for my ticket and people know when the movie starts, which is midnight , so if theatre-goers are brain-damaged and think they need to pay $12.00 for a small soda and nasty popcorn then that's on them. Not me. I paid to see a movie that started on-time. Soooo....the previews didn't start until about 12:20am and the actual opening credits for The Dark Knight didn't roll until after 12:35am; I didn't get home until about 3:30am and I only live ten minutes from the mall. Janice swiped a pile of comment cards so guess who's getting really bad feedback.

Previews, and there were at least six:
1. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - not sure if I want to see this since Evie was re-cast with Maria Bello but Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh are in this (and I like Jet Li).
2. The Spirit - another Frank Miller film, looks visually gorgeous
3. Watchmen - the long-awaited Zach Snyder-helmed adaptation of the graphic novel; I've not read the novel but I might have to now (expected release March 2009)
4. Some movie with Leonardo di Caprio and Russell Crowe (which is how I remembered it - I had to make use of IMDB to determine that it was Body of Lies)
5. The Day The Earth Stood Still - Keanu Reeves as an alien in the remake of the 1951 classic so I'm too sure about this one, Jennifer Connelly also stars
6. Terminator Salvation - teaser trailer, since this is a summer 2009 release, starring Christian Bale, directed by McG (who has yet to direct anything I appreciate)

The movie:
Fucking awesome. Heath Ledger gave the performance of his career; even if Christopher Nolan has decided not to use "Joker" make-up, Ledger would still have been The Joker. He was unrecognizable with wonderful use of facial tics (the lip-licking was a nice touch) and it was a truly memorable performance. He deserves an Oscar. RIP. Great performances also from Gary Oldman, a long-time favorite of mine, Aaron Eckhart (props also to the SFX make-up people) and even Christian Bale, who sometimes drives me nuts. I thought the movie did drag a bit through the last 20 minutes in trying to get all the storylines tied together but not too terribly slow. I can't wait for the Filmspotting review (which should be on iTunes by this evening, they've already got the blog updated but I'm not reading it, yet).

Current book-in-progress: need to start Rebecca since that's the August book
Current knitted item: Tan linen evening bag (I will not have this done before the Kuebler Banquet, darn)
Current movie obsession: I finished In Bruges, which was great and has a funny extra on the DVD where they cut all the swear words together into a 1:50 track, but I also thought very sad in the end; I've got Secretary, Hard Candy, and Brazil lined up for the weekend
Current iTunes loop: Filmspotting and the Guardian Books podcast

14 July 2008

And the new reason why my job is the pits...

My fellow RA went on vacation last week.

And didn't tell us.

We didn't realise this until Friday at 1pm.

My only comment: She is very, very lucky that I am not her boss.

Sunday Movie Marathon

This weekend was pretty crazy - Shakespeare Festival, picked up my glasses in Cedar Rapids, played with my nieces for a couple of hours (looked at their mom's rash, too), worked (at lot) at the bookstore, cleaned up my house (sort-of), and watched two movies.

Say Anything is one of those hold-overs from my middle-school/junior high days. Sigh. I wanted a boy to hold up his boom-box to play "In Your Eyes" for me. I hadn't watched the movie in quite a while (and the lustre has dimmed a bit) but the party scene and the boom-box scene are still the best. Lili Taylor singing these terrible, one-key songs about that creep she slept with/dated. Priceless. I'm pretty sure that Can't Hardly Wait was a total rip-off of Say Anything, now that I think about it, minus the father-going-to-jail plot.

I also watched The Savages and it's been in my queue a while (I had it on "save" once the entry was available in Netflix). What can I say about this movie? It is amazing. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney are so wonderful in this picture. Phillip Bosco also gives a stand-out performace as the aging, ill father Lenny Savage who was, apparently, an abusive prick when his children were younger. The feel of this movie is so "real" that you might as well be sitting at a nursing home watching the real thing.

I have an awesome queue set up for the next few weeks: Secretary, Hard Candy, Brazil (the non-"Love Conquers All" ending, that one's down about #11 on the list), Donnie Darko, Penelope, Slings and Arrows Season 1, Withnail and I, In the Valley of Elah, and Kiss of the Spider Woman (which is FINALLY out on DV D). In the Valley of Elah might keep moving down because I keep finding other things I want to watch first.

Current book-in-progress: Agnes Grey (and associated articles), Why We Read Fiction, Bambi vs. Godzilla (by David Mamet about the film industry), and I did read another two pages of Swann's Way (which makes a grand total of 8; I probably would have gotten farther but someone on the bus interrupted to ask what I was reading - seriously people, what do you think the iPod and earbuds are for??)
Current knitted item: Tan linen evening bag (ooh, got some new yarn for a pullover)
Current movie obsession: In Bruges (has a great short scene with an obese American chasing around Colin Farrell because Farrell's character hinted that the trip up the church tower might be difficult because, of well, you know....); The Dark Knight comes out THIS WEEK
Current iTunes loop: Filmspotting (I keep forgetting to rip the Sigur Ros CD to my computer)

10 July 2008

I hate the dentist

Here's a random thought: Why do I think there are extra teeth in my mouth once my face is numbed with Novocaine? I feel like my mouth doesn't fit together right because there are too many teeth and none of those teeth belong to me because I can't feel them.

In all seriousness, that was the fastest dental appointment I ever attended. Apparently, I had a chip out of the back of one of my front teeth (the dentist initally thought it was a chipped filling until I pointed out that I'd never had a filling there). The whole appointment took about 25 minutes, start to finish. Even my six month check-ups take longer than that because of X-rays, etc. I traditionally loathe the dentist because I can't stand having someone mess with my teeth, even to clean and polish them. It makes me cringe but I put up with it because I'd like to have my own teeth when I get old.

09 July 2008

Books, Books, Books

Ufda! I spent two-and-a-half hours this evening helping to reshelve the storage items (i.e. books still stuck on the Dewey Decimal system that aren't requested more than once every quarter century or so) at the UI Main Library. The library officially reopened today and the staff are trying to get everything put back where it goes as quickly as humanly possible. They put out a call for volunteers today so I went over around 6pm ... I was the only volunteer but I got to exercise my OCD tendencies and help put the theses in order.

I don't have much money to donate, but I do have time.

I don't have a lot of money because I tend to buy books. I acquired yet another two tonight (and those are the ones I'm telling about). One, A Beginner's Guide to Critical Reading, is for my poor brain for when I get into a grad program; the literature used covers a number of years of English Literature (no Jane Austen but Charlotte Perkins Gilman gets a nod) and the Theory is wide-ranging. The second I bought because of Ilana - her weekly posting in the "Literature and Life" board at BNBC muses over Lisa Zunshine's "theory of mind" as used in her book Why We Read Fiction.

I did finally finish The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups. There weren't many "palace coups" but there were a number of "clashing scholars" throughout. I found the book very accessible, Rosenbaum being a former Yale grad student, and also very thorough in the attempt to cover as many competing/conflicting veiws of Shakespeare in a non-"I'm going to bore you to death" type of way. More on this later - I'm pooped and I have to go to the dentist tomorrow. Yuck.

Current book-in-progress: Blindness (goes back to the public library Saturday so I'd rather not have to renew it)
Current knitted item: Tan linen evening bag
Current movie obsession: Empire Records (love, love, love)
Current iTunes loop: I got the new Sigur Ros CD (don't even make me pronounce the Icelandic title) - which I heard on NPR's All Songs Considered - and it is AWESOME

08 July 2008

I have an interview!

I have an interview set up for July 28th - excellent (I found out that another candidate's interview for the position is scheduled for August 15 - gee, let's stretch this out).

Problem: I need to bring a writing sample of about one page.

Ack!! Does anyone know how long it's been since I wrote something that consisted only of one page? A very long time. And I haven't got anything epidemiology-related that's under ten or at least of anything I wrote all on my little lonesome (I'm not going to use an article I co-wrote). I think I'll photocopy a chapter out of my thesis. At least it's all my own work.

In other fun news, I and a number of my BN buddies are volunteering to usher at the Shakespeare Festival performance of The Winter's Tale on Friday. Originally, the Festival is held outdoors at a period-ish recontruction of a Elizabethan theatre in City Park. Um, yeah, the whole park is (was) underwater and the Festival moved to City High. I need to re-read The Winter's Tale before Friday (or at least crib a bit).

I finished ideas last night! Whoo, hoo. All 746 pages of it. I also polished off 10 Bad Dates with de Niro and I have to say that I really should watch more foreign/non-American Hollywood films.

Current book-in-progress: Agnes Grey, Blindness, and The Dead Father
Current knitted item: Tan linen evening bag
Current movie obsession: Gosford Park (I've watched it three times back to back just for all the commentary)
Current iTunes loop: NPR "All Songs Considered" and "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" along with a little bit of Janet Jackson

02 July 2008

Nick Hornby has a blog!

Nick Hornby of About a Boy and Fever Pitch fame (and also the "Stuff I've Been Reading/Watching" column for Believer magazine) has a blog and he's soooo funny. Actually, he's funny all the time. Today he has a great post about the Borders e-reader "Iliad" and how e-readers in general will not work amongst the average reading population. None of whom seem to read. Sad.

Current book-in-progress: 10 Bad Dates With de Niro and Agnes Grey
Current knitted item: Tan linen evening bag (ha!, you thought I was going to say gray neckwarmer)
Current movie obsession: The History Boys
Current iTunes loop: Filmspotting Episode #216