Saturday, November 30, 2002

So I talked to a friend I've not seen or spoken to for a long time on IM earlier...and I started thinking about it, and I don't think she actually knows were I am or what I'm up to. Certainly she hasn't asked, 'How's Bristol, you lucky dog?!?' So we wound up talking for entirely too long about snow because I was too embarrassed to talk about much else. Almost said, 'the flatmates and I are going to celebrate Thanksgiving,' except the word 'flatmates' would raise some awkward questions. Nearly said something about how it rains all the time, but figured that would raise questions too. I don't know why I'm being so silly about this, apart from guilt for not having spoken to her for so long. I'll have to send her a long e-mail this weekend, or something.

On the Bond film I saw last weekend...I rather enjoyed it as well. A fun movie. I liked it better than The World is Not Enough but not as well as Tomorrow Never Dies. Its faults: the Icarus stuff was rather heavy-handed, though they didn't make it TOO too obvious. Once you got it, you groaned, but you didn't want to go and bash your head on a wall. I do wish movies would stop abusing the same old myth so, though. I mean, there are so many other, better, more interesting ones out there! The Fire/Ice thing was also overdone, and the inevitable bawdy jokes were delivered with a little bit too much of a wink and a nudge. What else? Oh. The Doomsday Device was UNBELIEVABLY STUPID. 'Hey guys,' says the Villain, 'Why don't we have another sun, doesn't that sound COOL?!? We can...grow crops at night!' Yeah, that's right, let's FRY the plants, shall we? Two suns--we can pretend we live on Tatooine, like in Star Wars! What a colossally dumb idea. Who would go along with this idiocy? --Everyone in the world, apparently; they all think it's the awesomest thing ever. The movie had its brilliant bits, though--the car was awesome, and THANK GOD they didn't cut it in half before it could have its moment of glory like in the last one. They also didn't make John Cleese quite the buffoon he was in the last one--he was actually quite funny this time `round. And some inspired hilariousness with Moneypenny at the end cut through some of the the compulsory cheesiness of the final love scene--which, thankfully, occurred in a remote hut this time (won't the owners be surprised?), rather than in plain view of all of MI5 and various important government and military officials. And Halle Berry was suitably stunning. Wish she'd gotten to kick a little more butt, though, rather than doing the usual Bond-chick routine of getting duped and then having to be rescued. This Bond was also in some ways darker than previous Bonds--for example, I have been nauseated by previous opening credits ('gods, not MORE naked chicks!'), but I've never been disturbed by them. And these were some pretty disturbing credits--fiery brands and Bond being tortured and cracking, melting ice-women.

I dunno. I'll probably have another Bond-ramble after I get home for Christmas, at which point I'll undoubtedly watch it again...I am told my dad and brother liked it so much that they've been to see it twice already. --And they don't go to the movies very often!
Wow, so it's been a while since I've posted...I keep thinking of things to say but then not having the time and/or energy to say them. Either that or my computer won't cooperate. There's been a little of that, too. But mostly I've been busy and/or tired.

I'm still quite enjoying stuff here, though paper-writing is not my favorite thing in the world. But that's mostly because I'm trying hard to Get It Right, and I'm slow at that. Also I always have too much to say, with essays--I actually spent a couple of hours trying to shave words off my essay on King Lear to make room for the extra page of stuff I had to cram into about 100 words. As a result, my intro sucked and my conclusion was rather abrupt, but my prof loved the thing. Total ego boost! I was walkin' on air, I tell ya.

So my flatmates and I (those who are in town) are doing a Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night. It should be pretty awesome--they're really psyched, which I am secretly amused by. They're much more excited than I am about the whole thing, really. We'll have a lot of fun, though. I'm going to make apple pie and banana bread and lord knows what else, I'm going shopping in the morning, I'll figure it out.

My parents are supposed to call tonight, and here it is well after midnight and they're showing no signs of doing so. Arrr! I need to ask Mom about sweet potatoes!

Okay, so maybe I'm more excited than I like to admit. But I get to cook!

Last weekend was much fun--got to see both Chamber of Secrets and Die Another Day. RE Chamber of Secrets: the bit with the Dursleys wasn't handled well at all, and as with the first movie characters like Fred and George made almost no appearance; but once the thing got going I really quite enjoyed it. (They're starting in a bit early on the tensions `twixt Ron and Hermione, though--those don't really appear in the 2nd book.) They got Dumbledore just as wrong as before, but Gilderoy Lockheart was a hoot. The movie filled me with nostalgia and a craving to re-read the books--I hadn't read Chamber of Secrets more than once in the first place, and it's been several years, so at the very first opportunity I rushed out and re-bought it. And reread it. And it was awesome. Maybe I'll go and get another tomorrow--it can be my after-feast dessert! Um...well, that and the apple pie and banana bread. And maybe trifle! But hark--the phone!

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Well, we had room inspections today--finally! After all the horror stories we'd been hearing...one guy apparently got failed for having his rugby gear on the floor (in a bag), and for not having enough hangers in the closet. --Apparently having his clothes folded in drawers was not an acceptable storage technique. Dude! So long as the clothes are put away, what's the big deal? Is what the drawers are there for! And anyway some have too many clothes to go in closets! And what about socks and underwear? Silliness. Fortunately we got the 2 cool RAs, not the 1 power-trippy one. In, out, everything's fine! Was awesome.

Library time.
Yeah, so rereading yesterday's post and realizing I was a little vague in it and misremembered some bits, I figured I'd elaborate/correct myself a bit. On the father/son conflicts among the gods--

It started out with Ouranos, the sky-god, who fell in love (or lust, whatever--there weren't exactly that many females around at the time, and the early gods were a simple breed) with the earth-goddess Gaia. Well, eventually she got pregnant, and gave birth to all these nasty ugly guys. Ouranos didn't like them at all. I forget what he did with them, though. After a while Gaia got pregnant again, but this time Ouranos, now fearing that his offspring would grow rebellious, was having none of it, and simply refused to let them be born. I can't remember if this was actually in the myth or was just my surmizing, but the way I picture it is, Gaia is the earth, right? So her 'womb' would be, like, a cave or some such thing, which Ouranos could block off easily enough. But Gaia somehow managed to sneak her son Chronos out, and gave him a flint sickle, and told him to go and castrate Daddy. So that's just what Chronos did, and it was Ouranos's balls, not Chronos's, that kicked up all that sea foam wot Aphrodite emerged from. (And from the drops of blood that spilled on the earth came the Furies, which is interestin'.) So then Chronos and his little lady Rhea took over, and eventually she started having kids. Now Chronos certainly didn't want anybody castrating HIM, and keeping the kids from being born certainly hadn't worked for his father, so he tried a different tack: he swallowed them. But Rhea managed to spirit Zeus away without Chronos finding out, and the infant god was raised in secret. (Angela says Rhea got some guys to beat on drums every time the little tyke started crying so Chronos wouldn't find out he'd missed a baby...heh, poor guys.) When he was all grown up he came back and made Chronos regurgitate all his siblings, then took over and banished his da and most of the Titans (Prometheus and Epimetheus being notable exceptions) underground. (Poor Gaia--she's just always getting people shoved in there, isn't she?) Then came bits with Metis and Hera and stuff.

Dude, for mythology stuff, try www.pantheon.org --they're pretty big, and though they sometimes neglect to mention alternate versions of stories, everything's linked to everything else. I've spent 15 minutes clicking through the House of Atreus, and am still not done! Geez--how did them Greeks keep track of all the back stories and elaborately intersecting family trees and stuff? Amazing!

Monday, November 18, 2002

Whee--I have discovered a well of untapped information! My Cypriot flatmate and I got to talking about Greek mythology this evening, and it was so awesome! We were like tellin' each other of versions of stories that we've heard/read... Apparently they still tell this stuff to their kids in Cyprus--so amazing! Gods! Goddesses! People, like, killing each other! So neat! --And us Americans stuck with Paul Bunyan. Poo on Paul Bunyan! The coolest thing I found out that I didn't know before--Okay, well, this'll be kinda long. So we were talking about how the various gods were born and stuff--how Hephaistos got all deformed when he fell/was thrown from Mt Olympos, how Aphrodite was born from "sea foam" after Chronos's balls were thrown out thattaway, that sort of thing--and we got to Athena. Well, of course she pops out of Zeus's head, all full-grown and wise and stuff. A well-known fact, and used by Apollo in the third play of the Oresteia trilogy to negate women's role in reproduction--woman is the vessel, the seed is man's alone, yadda yadda yadda. However, there is one story I read that holds that before Zeus married Hera he married this other goddess called Metis, who was basically a goddess of wisdom. Then, once she'd gotten pregnant, he ate her, unborn child and all, and it was shortly after that that he 'gave birth' to Athena. I find this very interesting--up until Zeus, there was this whole cycle of father/son violence and stuff going on, and of course Zeus, like his father and his grandfather before him, feared he'd one day get overthrown by his offspring. And given that there was some sort of prophecy to the effect that Metis's kid would be potentially as least as powerful as Zeus...well, what's a god to do? --What he does is sorta takes care of two problems at once. By eating Metis, he (1) gets knowledge and wisdom and stuff so he can rule wisely and well, thus removing the need to overthrow him, and (2) he makes his offspring wholly his own, and sort of 'of a mind' with him. (She does, after all, come out his head, and that is not without significance.) It's such a symbolically loaded thing for him to do--awesome! (Especially when you factor in stuff with Heracles later...but that's a tangent for another day.) But it is of course also a really really horrible thing to do. --I mean, Odin needed wisdom too, but he made the required sacrifice from his own body. Zeus meanwhile KILLS AND EATS HIS WIFE. Not a happy thing! --But Angela says there's another story where, like, the pregnant Metis (well, a goddess of knowledge and wisdom and stuff--she may have had some other name) somehow got caught in a fire, and was severely burned, and died; but Zeus rescued her unborn child and ate it, and shortly thereafter Athena popped out of his head, and that's how he got wisdom, and explains why Athena is generally loyal to him (excepting some occasional subversive action--some versions of the Prometheus story, for example, hint that she assisted that Titan in giving fire to man). Interesting. I would know more of this. But first I must read Hamlet.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

So this weekend, in lieu of doing work that's actually due soon, I re-tackled (though briefly--mostly I goofed off) this detective story project thingy. Went back and read a bit of super old stuff--Father Brown stories by G. K. Chesterton. I've only read three so far, but I must say I don't think much of them. OK ok, Father Brown is loveable and wise, in his eccentric and umbrella-toting way, and the idea of a priestly Sherlock is certainly interesting...but, character aside, I have so far found the stories to be terribly contrived and heavy-handed. (Rant time!) I mean, come on! This guy invites this big group of people to dinner and then beheads one of them because he (the killer) is an atheist and doesn't like the fact that the victim contributes to religious organizations?!? What a stupid reason to kill a person! And what a stupid way to do it, too! Why not lure the guy quietly someplace where nobody knows you're meeting and do the dirty deed that way? --Certainly don't do it in the middle of a dinner party! OK ok, I could see the whole dinner party thing if the victim was, say, a blackmailer who was about to reveal all s/he knew to everyone present. Like in Clue! But this was nothing like that--it was a stupid grudge that could have been settled at any time. And the killer was supposed to be so cunning--he disguised the identity of the body by switching the victim's head with that of this random guy who'd been guillotined earlier that day. A sound enough idea, done right...but the victim in this case was a huge hulking fat man! To pull off something like that, you'd need the head of another huge hulking fat man, otherwise the bits of neck wouldn't match up. Also there's the circumstances of the death...having just had a heated argument with someone, would you follow them out into a deserted garden so they could show you some neat tricks with this sabre that just happened to be lying around? --And how did the killer know that the sabre would be lying around in the first place? It wasn't his; it belonged to one of the dinner guests, who could just as easily have continued wearing it rather than taking it off, thus depriving the murderer of the only weapon around at the time that could have beheaded somebody. Clumsy, clumsy. --And the other stories I read were much the same, though they involved theft, not murder.

Am also trying out this Brother Cadfael stuff...I like that better, so far.

Friday, November 08, 2002

An odd day--have had a grand total of about 2 hours' sleep, but am not dead on my feet. Medieval History was kinda shameful...was completely awake before, and completely awake after, but during...the longest 50 minutes I've spent in a while, I tell ya. Was right up front, too! My notes are absolutely hilarious, I've got no idea what half of them are talking about.

"strike in like 1229 or something or something . . ."
"famous at . . . Bologna"
"gods I'm sleepy" (erased)
"for shady crashing" (? --I've got absolutely no clue.)
"prof read a text, running jokes"
"don'tfallasleepdon'tfallasleepdon'tfallasleep"

Evidently I was fairly alert for a little bit on this one...(I'll try to reconstruct the spacing, you fill in the crookedy handwriting):
"Why should some heap praise/invectives on universities
__Learning would open the way to religious knowledge
_____Education trained men from university & govt.______Close relationship
btw universities & govts
______But university leaders maybe touk (sic)___________an active
___________role in__university person"

Time to go watch a movie. Later!

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Ah, another clubbing experience. Was more fun this time--I was not incredibly tired and had more of an idea what to expect. And went for the make-shift earplugs quite early on instead of waiting for my eardrums to start threatening to burst. Went along because I hadn't been in a while, and over half the flat would be going, and they were all terribly excited about it. Well, two of them were terribly excited about it. See, there was this guy playing there--one Chesney Hawkes--whom I had never heard of but who was apparently really big in the UK in the 80's. So bunches of people were all nostalgic and excited and stuff. There was lots of loud music beforehand and we basically hung out on the dance floor jumping around and trying not to get knocked over or spill drinks on anyone. (One guy who was trying to flirt with me accidentally spilled his own drink on himself while trying to be smooth, but that's another story.) Now, it is a long-established fact that I can't dance. If the fate of the free world rested on my dancing abilities...well, I'd give it a shot, of course, but I'm afraid my inept twitching would quickly doom us all. But in spite of this I rather enjoyed myself, at least until Chesney himself came onstage, at which point the floor got so packed that, for maybe the second or third time in my life, I was feeling truly claustrophobic. Fortunately there was another gal who felt the same, so together we retreated to the sidelines. Turned out she was another of Bristol's Cypriots. So we talked a bit, and both decided we wanted to leave soon. (She obviously wasn't having a very good time; I was doing just dandy, but knew that after the main act I'd quickly get very bored.) By the time the last song (well, he said it was the last, but of course he really meant next-to-last) rolled around, she had gotten really quite insistent, and was trying to get one of her flatmates to round up the gang and leave. The flatmate was obviously just getting started, so I told the gal just to wait for a sec, let me find my flatmates and tell them what was going on so they didn't worry, and I'd walk back with her. (She lives in the same building I do.) Wrestled my way through the crowd (which was at this point pitching to and fro rather alarmingly), found a flatmate, clued her in, headed off to find my walkin' buddy. ...Who had ditched me. Well, damn. So that sucked. I thought maybe we'd just lost each other in the crowd, and so waited outside for a bit, but no. Thoroughly ditched, that was me. (I'm assuming she prevailed upon her half-drunken flatmate to leave, or else stormed off in a huff all by herself.) And it was an hour and 45 min before closing and I'd told my flatmates I was good to go and the guys at the door weren't letting people back in. So I sat outside for 45 min in hopes that flatmates would come out. When they didn't, I casually fell in behind some people who were going the way I was, and when we were close enough to home I ran, hoping to god I wouldn't get jumped. --Made it, obviously.

So that was my night. I really did have a pretty good time, considering...well, a good time until that gal ditched me. [Glares at nonpresent gal--is dangerous at night! Us chicks are supposed to look out for each other!] That pretty much sucked.

--The gal I did my presentation with, though, says she's found this cool place where you can actually sit down and listen to music and it's not too noisy and stuff. So we're gonna do that Saturday probably. That should be nifty.

Hark--I hear flatmates! I'm going to go and greet them, and we'll watch random TV. And I am going to make some toast. Hooray for toast!

Sunday, November 03, 2002

Yeah, so my flatmates are totally wise to my weirdness. --Screwed up royally by sleeping through the day. Like, pretty much entirely through the day. Gosh, I must have been sleepy! However, the consequences are that it's now 4:30 and I'm not at all tired. Am kinda wired, actually--I wanna go someplace! Explore! Move around! Probably not a good idea for another couple hours, though. Thought I'd call up a couple pals and while away a bit of time that way, but of the 2 I'd most like to talk to, Emily isn't home and I've lost Rachel's number. (Rachel, what's your number?!? I'll call and harass you!) So I'm currently planning to move into the kitchen about 6, make breakfast, have a nice shower, and head out into the world. Probably I'll be dead by the time evening rolls around, but...far too early to bed is better than far too late! Well...at least it'll make a nice change.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Just for a bit of randomness (it's nearly three in the morning and the fire alarm's gone off four times in the last hour, what else do you expect?), I was idly thumbing through my French dictionary, and came to "Jack-o-lantern." Mmm, that's nice and seasonal, I thought, mildly surprised to find it there at all, and looked down at the French...apparently they call it "une citrouille taillée en forme de visage." --Ah, French! Never invent or import a word where seven existing ones will do--"a pumpkin with a face carved on it." Well, it's certainly accurate...though I would guess that most people would probably just say "jack-o-lantern" and not "une citrouille taillée en forme de visage."

Friday, November 01, 2002

O frabjuous day! Callooh! Callay! --My paper's done and in! It's not my best effort by far, I'll admit. The poor thing will no doubt come back to me bleeding. It was just a measly 2000 word thing, but it being my first paper here I was kinda flipping out, and had to do much reading for it that I didn't really have time for b/c other assignments encroached and I realized a couple days ago that my first topic just wasn't going to work. So did a last-minute switchoff, read like mad, and wound up with a paper that wanted to be 10000 words, but being about 1/5 that length was rushed and full of overgeneralizations. Alas, I must learn brevity! It's okay, though--this one's just a practice run, and I've already got the list of questions for the next paper, so I can start on that way before it's due. --Kind of a new thing for me, but that's what I'm here for.

So Halloween was yesterday. I was of course reading and didn't get to do anything for it...a couple flatmates went out drinking and stuff, and seem to have had a pretty good time. My celebrations have consisted of carving our pumpkin, which I'll admit I quite enjoyed. I love pumpkin-carving, especially the bit where you rip out the squishy innards. [Grins savagely, gnashes fangs.] When I was younger I used to make little sculptures out of them, much to my parents' consternation. I remember one time I made this really cool miniature mask. Mom kept trying to get me to throw it away, but I kept insisting it was just like modeling clay or papier mache (sp, I know, but I'm lazy): if I left it out long enough it would dry beautifully, and I could paint it and hang it on the wall. (Hey, we'd done similar things in art class, and it felt the same as that starchy stuff we used to use...) For those who are curious, pumpkin guts do not, in fact, approximate either modeling clay or papier mache. A glump of pumpkin guts, left out on the back porch for a cold week in late October, will defy all attempts at drying. No matter how beautifully sculpted it is, it will remain a small glump of wet orange sliminess. Eventually Mom just threw it out, lest it mold or attract critters.

My flatmates all think I keep the strangest hours in the entire world. One got locked out at like 3 in the morning a few nights back and was forced to ring the bell...I was still up and about and very chipper. I guess I do keep pretty weird hours...one day I'll go to bed before midnight, the next I'll stay up till five...I am finding, though, that if I go to bed with lots of things undone I can't get to sleep. So I might as well just do them instead of lying awake staring at the wall for three or four hours. --This is also a new thing for me--in past I have slept best when there is lots to do. I'd sit down with homework and suddenly be very sleepy. Avoidance, I suppose. I still do that sometimes, but if I put the book away and turn out the light, suddenly I'm wide awake. A neat trick, if I've got important reading to do...

Time to go and figure out dinner.