Having landed at Cleveland Hopkins at eight this morning, dozing through only one disc of Aaron Copland and some of "Bring the Noise," and coming after two straight nights of no more than four hours of sleep and a solid week of no more than six, I'm far too exhausted to write a recapitulation of the 2006 ATPo Gathering with concision, coherency or tact. Will I persevere through anyway? Perhaps; I keep floundering wading in the littorals of this post, rather than just diving deeply in. But what washes over me currently is sleep, and what sentiments I might bubble out burst before they breach my placid surface. And I'm half-tempted now to swap the ATPo icon for one of my SCUBA ones, so I will quit before my only public recollection of the Gathering becomes my snide spite at the painting at the seafood restaurant that paired a (Caribbean) Queen Angelfish with an (Indo-Pacific) Clown Trigger. That would be paralipsis, by the way, and for tonight the rest will be ellipsis . . .
Today, I ran ) for 28 minutes, being in the middle of the eighth week of the Couch-To-5K nine-week plan. Of course, as I've been following the designated times rather than the designated distances, and as I've been "pacing myself," I'm not quite on track for five kilometers next week, as, according to the Gmap Pedometer, I ran only 2.38 miles. All of it, I might add, was uphill. It amazes me, but until I started running I had no idea that I could leave my house and travel a complete circuit through the neighborhood without ever descending. Apparently I live on a moebius strip. Today's more linear route was my attempt to limit the amount of climbing I would have to do: I spent much of it following the watershed of one of the ancient creeks. And yet still my body sends the message: "THIS IS UPHILL" while my brain divides the route into treacherous hills, steep climbs, steady uphill grades, and the occasional short stretch of almost, but not quite, sheer cliff face.

One thing that running has taught me is that my brain, much as I have trusted it over the years, doesn't always have my best interests at heart. Given half an hour of leisure time while my body and I are off jogging, it does nothing but concoct reasons why we should just go back to bed. For example, on Thursday, after about nine minutes of running and the hill out of the creekbed that I'm now sure is, if not K2, then at least K-twenty or twenty-five, my right Achilles' tendon issued a sensation. Not pain, not even discomfort, just a sensation. My body relays this to me as, "Uh, your Achilles' tendon would like you to know that it's here, and, on the whole, it would rather be sitting in a jacuzzi." Well, my brain overhears this, and it starts screaming, "It's going to SNAP and you'll be CRIPPLED and in a WHEELCHAIR and they better find a DOUBLE-WIDE WHEELCHAIR 'cause you'll be FAT ANYWAY so you should GO HOME and read the internet but DON'T POST or COMMENT because NO ONE WANTS TO READ YOU . . . " Meanwhile, my Achilles' tendon has long ago messaged "kthxbye!" and my body is wrapped up in trying to get over what we had previously believed to be a nice rolling lane but which evidence now suggests is a seriously disoriented Himalaya.

So my interest was piqued . . .  )
Why did no one tell me that Foucault's Pendulum name-checks the Abbé d'Herblay?
He sneers. "We met in other times, when you tried to pull me away from the deathbed of Postel, when under the name Abbé d'Herblay I led you to end one of your incarnations in the heart of the Bastille."
Coming as the reference did on page 502, I was exhilarated but not flabbergasted to see it; by that point I had come to expect that Umberto Eco would refer to every obscure esotericon he or I could think of (excluding only, strangely for a book set in Milan, any idea that Leonardo Da Vinci had encoded messages into The Last Supper); and indeed the book had been warming up to both the Jesuits and Dumas for a few previous chapters.

Someday I should make a chart of all the books I've read that take the impartation of trivia as a narrative device and match them to their respective arcana. There was once a strange period of synchronicity over about a week in which it seemed that every book I read -- Barcelona, by Robert Hughes; Martin Gardner's Science, Good, Bad and Bogus; and the Roderick cycle of John Sladek -- mentioned the Catalan scholastic Ramon Llull. I think each book had spelled his name differently, Ramon Llull in the Hughes and Raymond Lull in the Sladek with something in between in the Gardner. And, indeed, when Eco mentions him in passing it's as Lullus. Longitude and Mason & Dixon both concern themselves with the English resistance to converting from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, and, lo, it's a major plot point in Foucault's Pendulum as well. The Golem of Prague, previously encountered in Roderick and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, to take two just off the top of my head, also appears briefly.
I finally put my bittorrent client to the purpose for which it was downloaded and have been watching the sublime second season of Justice League. This leads me to a technical question and an impractical thought. First, for those who frequently download torrents, what download speeds are you getting? I understand that this differs from torrent to torrent, and obviously would have to directly relate to the speed of one's connection. Secondly, for those who are fans of Justice League Spoilers for "Twilight," "Only a Dream," "Starcrossed" ).
Having just last night finished Pride And Prejudice, and having invested a not inconsiderable effort learning to unweave Austen's triple negatives and ironic switchbacks (which somehow transform to switchforwards), I today decided that delay would mean only later repeating struggles already hard-won and called upon my local Border's to buy Emma. There I faced that bedevilment of public-domain publishing, the anxiety that arises from an overabundance of options. Choosing my edition of Pride And Prejudice had been simple: I found my Signet Classic in the Simply Books at Cleveland Hopkins International, where it was certainly not nestled among a bounty of versions from other publishers. (In fact I purchased it as much in response to the slight tickle of finding something so high-brow in an airport as out of any felt obligation to actually read it.) Though the demerits of the Signet Classic are obvious: cheap paper besplotched with a crabbed and murky typeface; its single virtue shines forth brightly: it is completely and utterly unspoiled by footnotes.

My new Penguin Classic Emma, it is shameful to say, lacks this chastity. And so, on page ten, I encounter:
"No, papa, nobody thought of your walking. We must go in the carriage2 to be sure."
As I am of an obsequious and obedient nature, I turn to the back of the book, where it is revealed:
2. carriage: Four-wheeled private vehicle drawn by two or more horses. Ownership indicated a considerable degree of wealth and social standing.
Well (if I may be allowed to turn an Austenian phrase myself) no shit.

This would not have been even just half as vexatious had I not, a page before, floundered upon the word valetudinarian unexplicated by any footnote. The etymology suggested by my small Latin provided a definition along the lines of "someone with? acting in? the capacity of being? wishing? well." The context suggested that wellness was not at all what Austen was invoking. And so I spent the drive from Caribou to my home and dictionary obsessively wondering if Mr. Woodhouse was of a manner to say goodbye a lot -- all because Penguin is inconsiderate with its footnotes, stingy where they would be a charity, and generous where they are neither required or desired.
I met [livejournal.com profile] rahael at work yesterday and we walked over to Leicester Square to see Shaun of the Dead. I think I laughed more during that movie than at any movie I've seen in a theater since Soapdish (admittedly, I don't see many movies, especially comedies, in theaters). I am very happy that the movie was such a delight because, well, let's just say that ten and a half pounds seems a bit steep for anything that provokes a response less than ecstasy. I'll get the DVD (in America, presumably at Target) for less than ten and a half pounds! And since our evening viewing, at one of London's premier film-going locations, drew only nine people, I am convinced that it is time that theaters moved to a market-based pricing system. Why should a movie like The Chronicles of Riddick, which was hated by even [livejournal.com profile] buffyannotater, cost as much to see as Prisoner of Azkaban? I'm sure there are some people out there so driven to be the first to see Azkaban that they'd be willing to pay 10 quid 50 or more, but might be willing take a flyer on Riddick only if it were in the two-bob range. The airlines concentrate on capacity, on filling every seat on the airplane as efficiently as possible, and have developed a wealth of strategies for getting their seats filled at the prices people want to pay -- why should movie theaters not seek to maximize the capacity of their theaters?

The theaters could even adopt the techniques of internet commerce. I sat through twenty-two minutes of advertisements before Shaun of the Dead actually began. Certainly, some of this advertisement money must have subsidized my ticket somewhat (and I think Pearl & Dean, the ad brokers for London theaters, would be happier if their ads were being seen by more than nine people at a time). Perhaps the theaters could make the cheap cineastes sit through ad after ad before the movie, but offer a premium service where one could pay through the nose to just start watching the damn movie already.

Anyway, an extremely funny zombie caper. Spoilers for "Shaun of the Dead" )

Exiting the theater into a crisp London evening -- the temperature must have had dropped fifteen degrees since the day before -- and noting the general listlessness of the few people we passed walking through Chinatown, I saw a slight post-apocalyptic side to the city last night. A group of kids way in front of me smashed a beer bottle and the sound reverberated down Gerrard Street. The cords of people stacked outside De Hem's staring vacantly into the pub -- are they just Dutch footie fans trying to catch a glimpse of the Euro Cup, or are they . . . the walking dead?

I hope that [livejournal.com profile] rahael stores a few blunt objects in her garden shed. Just in case.
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.
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:

We're going to need shovels, pry-bars and ropes.
And condoms, Indy. One should never be without a condom!
I may be the only person in the known fanoverse who liked "Harm's Way." I, unlike some, quite enjoy farce. What I don't particularly like is when ME does camp. And that's ultimately what confused me about "Soul Purpose" )
1) Saw X-Men 2. Spoilers for "X-Men 2" )

2) Saw fireworks. Spoilers for 2003 Shaker Heights fireworks show )

3) Did not see relatives. Yay!

4) Did not see scroll. Damn.

5) Finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Thoughts on Harry Potter series )

6) Did not watch 1776. Did, however, listen to the Original Cast Album twice. Thought on listening to "1776" while driving through Euclid Creek Reservation )



April 2009

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