I do memes

Aug. 17th, 2006 11:30 pm
From, originally, on my friends' list at least, [livejournal.com profile] buffyannotater:
Here are the rules: Answer all the questions with the song titles of one band/group/artist. Multiple albums are fine (recommended, in fact). State the band/group/artist you're using in the subject line. Perty simple.

Use songs whose titles answer the question, not songs whose lyrics do. Not all of us know these songs, so it's not as fun.

Covers are NOT legit unless it is on a normal (non-live) CD.

For a true 10 questions challenge, do this without the aid of the internet/CDs/outside sources.
1. Are you male or female?: "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man"
2. Describe yourself: "Baby I'm A Star"
3. How do some people feel about you?: "Why You Want To Treat Me So Bad"
4. How do you feel about yourself?: "U Got The Look"
5. Describe your girlfriend/boyfriend/interest: "Another Lonely Christmas"
6. Where would you rather be?: "Alphabet St."
7. Describe what you want to be: "The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker"
8. Describe how you live: "Computer Blue"
9. Describe how you love: "Shy" (erstwhily "International Lover")
10. Share a few words of wisdom: You know, I'm actually drawing a blank on drawing wisdom from Prince song titles. Lyrics, sure, but titles? Uhhh . . . "Let's Go Crazy"?

Also from [livejournal.com profile] buffyannotater, and more interactive, try to determine my favorite:

1) Television drama
2) Television comedy
3) Movie
4) Band
5) Novel (I'm going to accept any of three for this)
6) Painter
7) Pie

Good luck!
One of the most pleasant aspects of the Baltic Sea cruise was the chance it gave me to read; I've managed to hold to my resolution regarding Proust. In fact, I've progressed down Swann's Way with so much more alacrity than I expected that I've been dropping into various Norwegian bookstores (all of which well-stocked with English-language novels, in which might lie my problem, considering) looking for In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower. I've only found one English copy of any volume of In Search Of Lost Time, and that was the redundant Swann's Way, moreover in the icky unhip Moncrieff translation, though I did see the whole set in Norwegian. And while sometimes while reading variously informative signs I get the impression that Norwegian is just English not even badly spelled but only badly typed, with the occasional manual typewriter strike-through on the o's, I don't think I'll get the full flavor of the Proustian language reading it in a language I only comprehend through bull-headedness and an inflated ego.

But while English-readers in Norway don't seem to be driving up the demand for Proust, I cannot say they are without taste. If popularity can be calculated by the sheer footage of shelf space, then two of the most popular authors in Norway are Paul Auster (ex-husband of Swann's Way translator Lydia Davis, apophenetically) and Haruki Murakami. Apparently there is a Norwegian appetite for existential, pulpish, experimental novels. Hoping to pass off synchronicity as miscomprehension, I bought Norwegian Wood.
I suppose I'm not going to write that substantial update I'd been planning before I leave for Tahoe. Oh, well, I had something planned about nostalgia. Speaking of which, I wonder if Jane Austen wasn't the correct high-toned author to whom to turn in my current mood of happy self-recrimination. And since I'm looking for dense doorstops to carry on the great Northern Europe expedition, the question arises: which translation of Proust should I favor? I'll get to ask [livejournal.com profile] atpotch that in person, won't I, in just twelve or so hours. And other people, of course, some of who might even have opinions on the subject.

And speaking of the great Northern Europe expedition, if you would like a postcard from the top of the world, or at least 79° North Latitude, send your address to dherblay at livejournal.com!
Borders does not have any John Buchan novels in print. I remember seeing The Thirty-Nine Steps there not long ago; but, alas, not today. I've developed a sudden interest in British pre-WWII espionage thrillers (there's an ulterior inkling involved) that has only slightly been stymied by the dearth of Buchan. They do stock a cornucopia of Eric Amblers for me to consume, so, assuming A Coffin For Dimitrios is at all digestible, they should fit the bill tastily. I also picked up a couple of Alan Furths, and, certainly stretching the concept, A Handful Of Dust. But no John Buchans.

Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay, has reviewed Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials in The New York Review Of Books. He correctly points out Pullman's third-act problems. (Of course, Chabon has his own third-act problems.) There is much in there about the balancing act between characters and theme; Chabon suggests that letting the latter take over from the former is akin to losing the wonder of childhood.
Attention: if there is a power outage while you are driving, and the stoplights aren't getting their required electricity, please note that you should treat every stoplight as though it is a stopsign. And if you choose instead to run right through them, you definitely shouldn't get on my ass just because I do.

For all I know, it may still be blacked out half a mile from here, but my outage lasted only fifteen seconds, so there won't be any whining from me. I was a bit worried, though, that the outage would affect my ability to vote: Cuyahoga County has been making noise about ditching the punch-card system and going electronic. Of course, Cuyahoga County is also painfully inefficient, so I was stuck fanning out my chads instead. From what I hear from California, it sounds like the new voting machines have been designed to maximize the butterfly effect, so I'm not looking forward to learning how these machines work in November.

Ohio makes you declare your party affiliation only when you request a ballot, and makes no effort to hold you to that affiliation, so allegiances here can be quite whimsical. I was surprised though that when I switched back to the Democrats (I was a very early adopter of my anti-Bush stance), I did not have to sign the (non-binding) affadavit swearing my agreement with the principles of the party the Republicans made me sign. I also had a moment of conscience in the voting booth when I realized that Wesley Clark and Howard Dean remained on the ballot. It is a good thing I never plastered up any yard signs, or some future archaeologist might waste and afternoon prying up the strata of my declarations of intent; she'd trace her way forward Kerry-Dean-Clark-Kerry-Edwards-Kerry-Edwards-Kerry-Rodham and be none the wiser for it.

The rest of the ballot was a bit of a snooze. I didn't vote for any of the uncontested seats and I generally voted against the incumbents, with the notable exception of the uncontested incumbent Peter Lawson Jones. However, I have a personal message for Peter: ummm, Issue 31 might have more effectively attracted my support had the language not established that the levy would be used to "promote new business and create jobs in Cuyahoga County." I mean, in general I favor those things, but could you have worded the issue so that it was a little more specifically informative and a little less reminiscent of "Big Rock Candy Mountain"?

***
[livejournal.com profile] bonibaru recommends a pair of new Buffyverse vids. I heartily second these recommendations: [livejournal.com profile] vrya gives "Smile Time" the Conan treatment; [livejournal.com profile] dualbunny sets Season 3 Buffy-Faith to Veruca Salt's "Volcano Girls." Both of these videos have not only the best resolution I've yet seen, but are masterfully edited. And the songs aren't by Evanescence! My only regret is that now I have to go find 48 videos just as good so I can burn a CD-ROM for [livejournal.com profile] rahael.

And for those of you who liked the Hamlet text adventure but found the source literature of questionable regard, the estate of Douglas Adams has a Java applet of Adams's classic collaboration with the geniuses at Infocom, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. Do note that there is no save-game feature, and that it is one of the most frustratingly lethal constructions in Infocom history, so I wouldn't expect to finish it any time soon. Of course, one could cheat.
Sunday: 22:26/15:32 (acrostic); Monday: 4:02; Tuesday: 4:41; Wednesday: 7:47; Thursday: 11:14. I'm quite backed up on these things, being pleasantly diverted.

My birthday has been very successful; my thanks to all those who extended their best wishes, with a special thank you going out to [livejournal.com profile] aliera9916 for the gift. It is greatly appreciated! I was well-gifted this February 14th: [livejournal.com profile] rahael gave me the third season of Homicide (I may force her to watch the Steve Buscemi episode before she goes). My mother presented me with Angel Season Three, the Vh1 (Inside)Out documentary on Warren Zevon, and Rashomon. I thought I'd seen Rashomon before, but I read the description on the back of the DVD and it sounds nothing like what I remember! (Rim shot.) My father got me the new Elmore Leonard novel and, proving that if he reads my friends list, he doesn't delve into the comments, The Da Vinci Code. I'm looking forward to indulging myself with all of these -- I have the feeling that Dan Brown's novel is going to be a guilty pleasure (or at least guilty).

But before I get to those, I have to finish Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I just reached December 7, 1941, on which a ton of stuff happens, the least of it being the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Is that a spoiler?) Chabon seems to have a better grasp of the comics world than I do (check out his treatment for the X-Men movie); there are lots of little in-jokes capable of producing chuckles in people who can recognize that twenty years after the novel takes place, there would be a comics character named "Wolverine," etc. There are probably in-jokes too obscure for the likes of me, too; I'm rather desperately seeking a site with annotations. I'd start in on it myself (I picked up rather quickly that Sammy Clay's extremely goyishe friend would introduce him to rather more forbidden foods from the fact that his name is "Tracy Bacon"), but as the only portrait of the obsessive annotating fan Chabon presents is of a Nazi sympathizer, I'm not sure the job would do me credit! I'm quite enjoying the novel, but I am reminded of [livejournal.com profile] ajhalluk's theory of the spatchcocked woman. I never really got the impression that Sammy would be homosexual, but being that the novel contains two young male protagonists with healthy sexual desires, and only one female character of any personality whatsoever, it seems like simple supply and demand. It's like all those hobbits running around with no sexual outlet other than each other and occasionally Boromir.

Speaking of perpetual bachelor hobbits and their "nephews," [livejournal.com profile] ajhalluk also recently asked about movies that change public consciousness. I've been wondering of late whether or not the recent rise in support for allowing gays to serve openly in the military can be attributed to the success of the Lord of the Rings movies: it's hard to deny to homosexuals the right to defend their country when they've been shown to do so well carrying rings to Mt. Doom. I wonder if The Return of the King, in which Pippin catches a bouquet, for christ's sake, will have a similar effect on support for gay marriage.

Of course, not every viewing of The Lord of the Rings will produce more progressive politics; [livejournal.com profile] londonkds points to John Rhys-Davies's thoughts on the effects on Britain of the prodigious reproduction of Muslim immigrants. I wonder, though, whether I cannot blame this all on Steven Spielberg. Rhys-Davies did make his name in Raiders of the Lost Ark playing Sallah, the best digger in Egypt, whose fourteen children save Indiana Jones from the massed submachine guns of Belloq's German handlers. How different his prejudices might be had Spielberg bothered to rewrite his script to include lines such as:

JONES:
We're going to need shovels, pry-bars and ropes.
SALLAH:
And condoms, Indy. One should never be without a condom!
From [livejournal.com profile] shadowkat67, a meme.

1. Name 10 favorite actors you'd see in anything:(Of course, this list is suspect, because for all actors other than Cary Grant there pretty much exist a whole ton of movies I haven't/wouldn't see them in. Of course, I should point out that I am doing this meme more in the spirit of posting something rather than giving it the benefit of too much serious introspection.)

2. Name 10 favorite actresses you'd see in anything:
  • Katherine Hepburn 9 more )
(Of course, this list is suspect, because especially near the end where I get into the sexy brunettes I may not be listing based on actual talent.)

3. Name 10 TV shows you'd love to have the complete episodes on DVD:
  • Hill Street Blues 9 more )
(The amount of television I have watched seems to have affected my ability to count.)

4. Name 10 Films you'd love to have on DVD:5. Name 10 books that you love and are your favorites at this moment in time:
  • Crosstown Traffic, by Charles Shaar Murray 9 more )
8. Name 10 songs that you love to listen to and can think of off the top of your head that you'd want a CD compiled of:
  • "Que Sera, Sera," Sly and the Family Stone 9 more )
9. Name 10 Musical Artists whose music you love and would take with you if you could only pick ten:10. Name 10 favorite examples of Islamic architecture (this is not actually s'kat's suggestion):
I don't usually gakk stuff -- but then, when you come right down to it, I don't usually post -- but this bit of [livejournal.com profile] ponygirl2000's is too good to pass up. Though I tend to denigrate the conspiratorial mindset, I have to admit that the possibilities of historical figures having met under strange circumstances sends my mind to some interesting spaces. The fact that Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis and Sly Stone were all in London soon after the 1970 Isle of Wight festival makes me wonder about secret recordings of late-night jam sessions. (In fact, Jimi had made tentative plans to jam with Sly on the night of September 17, but he didn't feel like going and instead died.) That the Unabomber studied math at Harvard at around the same time as Tom Lehrer was teaching there makes me reflect on the different manners in which one can release one's cynical and anti-social impulses.

Indeed, I'm not sure that Alan Moore has done anything that exotic in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series takes a similar idea of a group of figures from history and literature banding together for adventures. From various television cartoons, I remember Al Gore's Action Rangers and Leonardo Da Vinci's Fightin' Genius Time Commandos (all good things ultimately spring from The Tick). In any case, this game of Moore and ponygirl is one I have played before. I remember wandering among the tombs in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence thinking to myself, "Those interred here would, should the resurrection occur, make a kick-ass A-Team." Galileo would be the MacGuyver of the team; Michaelangelo (whom all the women go crazy for but he has his eyes squarely on the mission) would be the artful one; Dante (admittedly buried in Ravenna despite having one of the largest tombs in the church) would have the inside track to the post-apocalyptic landscape; and the conniving Macchiavelli (who has a bit of a complex over everyone else having such wonderful monuments while he got chucked into the floor) would be the team's wheeler and dealer. But this is not the team I want to outline today.

I once had the idea of writing a novel based on the idea that Francis Bacon, still seeking a return to royal favor, faked his death in 1626 so to be available to serve on missions for the British Crown, which he undertook with the assistance of his recent secretary, Thomas Hobbes. This would be its sequel, sort of its Forty Years After. I have decided to eschew the parameter that I can choose figures from anywhere along the space-time continuum and have focussed on Restoration Britain, though I have fudged some ages. In any case, I present the Order of the Squared Circle, Defenders of the Crown and Anti-Papist League!

The Leader: Thomas Hobbes, philosopher, traveller, garrulous arguer, suspected atheist, possibly the worst mathematician ever known. His loyalties to both the crown and to the Cromwellians were suspect; his loyalties to himself never needed any such scrutiny.

The Team: Aphra Behn, playwright and actual spy in the service of Charles II. In another age, one might say that anything a man could do she could do better, but considering the men with which I've surrounded her, one can see that that is faint praise indeed.

Peter Blood, physician and swordsman. A fictional creation of Rafael Sabatini's, made famous as the debut starring role of Errol Flynn. Might be, technically, a little young for inclusion. He distrusts the Catholic tendencies of Charles II, but is willing to defend the rights of free Englishmen up to slavery and death.

John Wilmot, The Earl of Rochester, poet, nobleman, favorite of the King. Famously dissolute. Not afraid to wield his blade, but is more cutting with his verse. Might be considered a little young for inclusion, but Dumas includes a young but clearly adult Rochester in Charles's court in 1660 in Le Vicomte.

The Recruiter: Oh, I don't know, Monk or Clarendon or someone.

Minor Villain: Christopher Wren, whose dastardly and insane plan to put London to the torch so that he can have the space to erect large buildings must be averted at great peril to our heroes.

Subsidiary Villain: Marco da Cola, from An Instance of the Fingerpost, an Italian gentleman and adventurer, curious about all things scientific. Or, just maybe, a Jesuit agent secretly trying to suborn Charles into the Catholic faith. Not easily disposed of, but really just a front for the true villain of the age, the General of the Jesuits, a man with the determination and the resources to rechart the course of history itself.

Major Villain: do I really have to say?

Hmmm. I'd have to read Pepys to really pull this off. Is it any wonder that I started dating someone whose speciality is 17th-Century English History? Saves me all that research.
Borders just called; the two copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Rah and I reserved on Saturday are now available. Rah's been reading every review and every spoiler she can and she is almost more keyed up for this than I, so as soon as I post and shower we're going shopping! The kind of shopping I like! (Rah's also become very envious of my mp3 player. I'll get her into the gadget stores yet!)

Anyway, despite the utter failure and rejection Rah and I underwent trying to buy Phoenix on Saturday, Scholastic still managed to reap the take from selling 5 million copies on the first day in the US alone, which is astounding. The Times points out that last year's best-selling hardcover novel, some Grisham thing (Grisham's law: bad books drive out good books, except I'm far too impressed with the ability of Borders and Barnes & Noble to not only stock but promote a healthy back catalogue that I start to wonder whether or not it should be "bad books subsidize good books"), sold half that in a year. To look at this number another way, and compounding one's vague guesses at enumeration, if you assume that the average sale price was twenty dollars, that means that every person in America, on average, spent four bucks on Harry Potter on Saturday (which doesn't make me feel any better about Rah and me being denied the chance to spend $34). $100 million in one day? Has any movie done that sort of business? I think the $100 million opening weekend is still the holy grail in movie sales, and generally films that come close to that need a three-day weekend (or even five days, if they do a Wednesday opening, as is traditional for the big July Fourth film -- which is usually an expensive action blockbuster like Independence Day or Men in Black but in a strange and pleasing turnabout this year is Legally Blonde 2). Astounding.

Much has been made of the darker and more mature tone of the new novel; this gives me some hope that Rowling knows what she's doing (or, more accurately, knows what I want her to be doing). I have, since reading the first four books straight through twice three years ago, entertained the notion that not only will Harry age a year for each installment, but the readership will too. The Plain Dealer today made the most recent of many Tolkien comparisons I've seen, and I'm starting to wonder if we can bracket off Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets as Rowling's The Hobbit, whereas with Azkaban we could see her as moving into a deeper, darker, more adult, Lord of the Rings-style epic. Judging from the polaroids of ankle-biters in capes and forehead scars on display on Saturday, the morning after Borders's midnight release party, I may be alone in this (of course, I first attempted Lord of the Rings when I was nine), but I have my hopes. Just spare me her Silmarillion.

Were Scholastic to recognize the more adult turn in Rowling's story, it might decide to finally curtail the bowdlerizing of English idioms that has so marred the English releases and that Masq and oyc have commented on. Phoenix will be the first of the novels since Stone that I've read in the American version, and I'm not looking forward to seeing sweater where jumper belongs. Still, the Americanization has had its defenders. I remember a discussion I had with mundus: he thought the American title was an improvement; I responded by emphasizing the actual historicity of the quest for the Philosopher's Stone, the long history of that name, the actual existence of Nicholas Flamel, and the fact that my first knowledge of the Stone came from Carl Barks's wonderful Uncle Scrooge and the Philosopher's Stone and if a freaking talking-animal comic book can respect my intelligence enough to expect that I won't be scared by the word "philosopher," so can the largest textbook publisher in America; to which mundus responded, "Yeah, man, but dig the alliteration!" I think he won.

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