Monday, March 28, 2011

So-mo for Spring Break

At least, for the first official day of it. Actually, I'm getting a landline installed today. Amazingly exciting, I know. It's just a matter of flicking a switch and there you go, but it might take some time before someone thinks to flick said switch, so I'm keeping busy indoors today. I've got an awesome Let's Player and his friends to watch, Herbie Hancock whirling away in my computer, and a book about Christopher Marlowe to read through. If the dial tone comes to life early enough in the day, I'll take a trip to the library and do a quick book exchange. For what it's worth, I finished reading a bio on Marcel Proust last night. It took some plowing through, more than usual considering that it was not a very thick book. Maybe it was just old and musty enough to drive the will to read from me. Maybe it was the author's style I found hard to work with. If I do decide to read about Proust again, I think I'll try a different bio. On the other hand, I did pull at least one quote from this odd little book, and I came across something that rubbed me the wrong way enough that I would like to address it here.
Proust suffered from asthma and other respiratory problems for most of his life, and the technology was not in place to ensure a long and healthy life for him as it is now. However, in 1958, the cause of asthma had to be better-known than what the author seemed to think. Who in their right mind would claim that asthma is a psychosomatic illness due to separation anxiety? Proust might've been among the great mama's boys of history, but I cannot for a second believe that being without his mother and other comforts would lead to breathlessness and the like. Based on the little I know about asthma (which I admit is not a lot), Proust would've had more to fear from having the fire in the wood stove going day and night through rain and shine, which he did quite a bit. Surely the author would have done some research and would've made the right connection. Anyway, that early tidbit in the book did bug me a touch, but I've said it and now am ready to move on.
The Marlowe book I am going to start soon is called 'History Play: the lives and afterlife of Christopher Marlowe'. Admittedly, my inner geek is already hard at work pulling together as much as I can find concerning this guy. Can a geek live within a nerd? Interesting question. I have the rest of the week to puzzle through this one. Nerds have been pretty cool for a little while now - just ask that Let's Player I seem to mention a lot lately. Okay, time to move on before this turns into an ad for the dude. Thanks and BYE for now.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Marlowe thoughts and Barchester business

What makes a good villain? Do most villains know they are villains? Based on the number of antagonists I have observed in everything I have read, the answer is no. Really, the only villains I have come across who knew they were on the wrong side can be found in 'The Mahabharata'. Drona and Bhishma were on the wrong side and not only did they know it, they accepted it. They didn't like it, but they accepted it. There's also the Joker from 'Batman', to a lesser extent. Maybe he knew he was in the wrong, but I doubt he ever cared about that, since he stood for gaining control through whatever means necessary. His favoured weapon was chaos, and he employed that weapon every chance he had. I know precious little about Joker in the 'Batman' canon for real, so if I'm 'wrong', please let me know. I'm dwelling upon villains lately thanks to a lovely little book by Charles G. Masinton. 'Christopher Marlowe's tragic vision: A study in damnation' looks at the likes of Tamburlaine and Doctor Faustus, seeing where they went wrong and why. Definitely makes me want to read 'Tamburlaine' and 'Doctor Faustus' now. I've read Goethe's 'Faust' but I suspect Marlowe's take on it is much darker. 
Another excellent 'selling the soul to the Devil' story is 'The sorrows of Satan' by the magnificent Marie Correlli, but I have not read it lately, so I'll skip talking about it. One more digression before I move on. Robertson Davies (God rest his soul eternal!) wrote a great short story called 'When Satan goes home for Christmas'. Great ending to that story, by the way. Moving on now; I started reading 'Barchester Towers' by Anthony Trollope. I seem to recall that I wasn't very fond of the story the first time I read it. For some reason, this time I am enjoying it. Two of the villains are quarrelling at this point but the heroes aren't really happy either. Actually, I don't think there are any real heroes in this story thus far, although Trollope has labeled certain folks as heroes and others as villains. That's his right, I guess.
A week to go until Spring Break. Sigh......

Monday, March 14, 2011

Trollope, Mozart, and I Wanna Be the Guy

It has been more than a few days since I posted anything new, so I decided some updates were in order. I am now 31, and I am really not sure how I am supposed to feel about it. Just mentioning it suggests that I think it's pretty important. Not a milestone like last year's birthday, but there's something about being 31 that stirs the imagination, though for good or for ill, I cannot say. I suspect I will have more to say on my 35th birthday, but that's not for another few years. 35 is something of a milestone as well, I imagine. 31 just makes me feel like I've completely left young adulthood behind and have taken my first steps squarely into true adulthood. Does that make sense? When do I reach the plateau of middle age? Will I need to be 35 for that to happen? I was depressed about turning 20, for it meant saying goodbye to my childhood, but now I'm not so fixated on that. Some people never get over that loss. For some people, turning 30 is depressing, for you're saying farewell to your 20's. I never had that problem, and I'm grateful for that.
Meanwhile, I've gone back to 'Phineas Finn'. There is something about this book that I love enough to visit several times. Maybe I'll end up buying myself a copy when this is done. We'll see. Considering how little I like the fox-hunts Trollope seems to put into every book, I like reading about Finn and his adventures. I want him to be successful. Likable characters make the book work. While I read, I've been listening to Mozart. Classical music certainly calms the soul, which makes it a good choice of something to listen to while playing certain games, which leads me to I Wanna Be the Guy, or IWBTG in short form. Think the deadliest, more difficult 8-bit game you have ever played and take it up ten notches. That is IWBTG - everything kills your character and all you can do is trial-and-error until you make it. For some Let's Players, this game is maddening. The videos are hilarious, by the way.
So that is my life in a nutshell. Back to Phineas Finn I go. BYE.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Not much doin' these days

I've been doing a fair bit of gaming lately, and this has cut big time into my contemplation of the world as I see it. I have, however, been exploring Chaucer and his impressions upon society. Nothing too light and plenty to give me pause for thought. Over the past couple of days, the book has been E. Talbot Donaldson's 'Speaking of Chaucer'. The musty scent of age wafts from this book, but I have not cast it down in gagging horror. If it were thicker, I might think twice about going through it. It's made up of informative essays and if I'm really interested in it, I may revisit it next year. Speaking of books, I finished an account of the life of Red Cloud by James Redsky recently. Fascinating, but not something I wish to re-read next year. The language in the book relies too much on Xianity for me, but considering where Redsky was coming from, I shouldn't attack him too harshly. Residue from the residential schools. No, I am not going to share my two cents on that topic. Others in a better position have already spoken their minds there, and that works for me.
My diary entries have been shorter than usual as well, but I suspect that this is due to my cold, which has dwindled down to an annoying tickle at the back of my throat. It usually pops up when I'm talking with others or watching 'Mystery Science Theatre 3000', which I was doing this afternoon. Man, that show is insane! I love the comments Mike and the gang make concerning this or that movie. This afternoon's offering was a Xmas movie where one of Satan's devils tries to ruin things for Santa. Hilariously offensive (even before Mike and the bots got their hooks into it) stuff! Anyway, that's all I have for the time being. My B-day is within a week. Definitely moving into extreme old age now! C'est tout!