Gilgamesh?

Aug. 30th, 2014 11:42 am
seldnei: (converse who white)
My husband apparently wants to read Gilgamesh. "Do we have a copy?” he asks.

Our house is basically made of books. It’s not big enough for all the books we have. I still have books from when I was five. I have books that I love, books that I think the kid might like to read eventually, I have books I’m keeping just because I hated them and ended up having to read them, like, two or three times, so at this point it’s like keeping the mummified head of my enemy on a pike.

Honestly? I don’t remember if we have a copy of Gilgamesh. I mean, the odds are pretty good, but who knows.

Anyway, now he’s critiquing the book shelves and complaining about our lack of organization. (Three or four years ago, we put everything together by series and author, but didn’t have time to alphabetize, so our ultimate organization is something like check where I have all the Eddas or I’d probably put that near the Neil Gaiman, go look on that shelf.)

(Did I mention the entire closet dedicated to comics boxes? Because that’s on him.)
seldnei: (converse who white)
It's Banned Books Week.

My go-to banned book is To Kill a Mockingbird ... perhaps one day I shall tell you the story of my love for this book, but the very short version is that To Kill a Mockingbird was the one book I read in high school, for class, that I absolutely loved and did not want to have end.

I wasn't a kid who didn't read; my A-ha! Books are *awesome*! moment probably happened around the age of two, when I figured out that there were stories in these flappy things my parents kept giving me. But I always think about the utter joy I had, reading To Kill a Mockingbird during silent reading in English Honors II, and coming across this quote, quite near the beginning of the novel:


Atticus had urged them to accept the state's generosity in allowing them to plead Guilty to second-degree murder and escape with their lives, but they were Haverfords, in Maycomb County a name synonymous with jackass. The Haverfords had dispatched Maycomb's leading blacksmith in a misunderstanding arising from the alleged wrongful detention of a mare, were imprudent enough to do it in the presence of three witnesses, and insisted that the-son-of-a-bitch-had-it-coming-to-him was a good enough defense for anybody.


Dude, ohmygod, I was reading a book in class that had swearing in it! And it was funny!

And what if I'd been a kid who hated reading, and that had been my a-ha! moment? What if I were a kid for whom that could have been my a-ha! moment, but because the book had been yanked from the school curriculum because of its language, I never got to read it?

So, yeah. Go read To Kill a Mockingbird. Or, hell, 50 Shades of Grey. Or both, why not? Check them out of your library.

***

Kyle Cassidy makes an interesting and uncomfortable point about banned books and books that are kept from publication.

(My first thought was that this was opening a door for anyone whose novel is passed over by an agent/publisher to start yelling about being censored, but then I realized that people do that, anyway.)

Let's be honest--I would totally love a world where people weren't horrible. And I would like them to all agree to my terms of not being horrible. But ... yeah, no.

I've been a First Amendment nutjob since high school. Which means I have to respect and defend the right of anyone to say whatever they want to say, vile or not. And I do actually believe that the best way to combat the vile things that people say is to argue with those things. Critique them. Poke holes in their arguments; show the rest of the world the logical fallacies and the rage-induced hyperbole.** (I taught argumentative writing; it slips out now and then.)

Because, as my lovely friend Jason says, you have the right to say whatever you want, but that doesn't mean you have the right to not get called on it. It's discourse, and by trying to ban books, we take that possibility for discourse away.



*I am capable of this, myself; just ask the husband about watching Star Trek: Into Darkness with me this past weekend.
seldnei: (converse who white)
This is "Punishment," my favorite poem by Seamus Heaney.

So there I am, in my English Lit class (it must have been Longmire's class, because Carson taught early English Lit, Haegert was Modernism and Lit Crit, Clough was totally American Lit, and I only took World Lit with Richardson. I remember this poem in Dr. Longmire's voice, anyway; he was short, and limped because he had polio as a kid; he had all this white hair and was the best advisor my intimidated self could have gotten as a freshman in college, first-person-in-my-family to go to college and utterly clueless beyond knowing without question that I could write, read, and analyze a text. One day I may blog the story of how I prompted him to declare to the class that one should "never use irony with freshmen," but that day is not today) ...

Okay. So I'm eighteen, maybe nineteen. Ridiculous girl--pretension and insecurity and feeling, dear lord, but also intelligence; my brain was starting to grow and I could feel it--but heading toward the future me, this person blogging on her laptop with silent headphones on, having forgotten to turn on her music (ridiculous in a different way, I suppose).  I sat in my lit class, Norton Anthology open in front of me.

If you imagine the inside of my brain as a large open field with a lot of half-built stone walls here and there in mounds and lumps?

Dr. Longmire read "Punishment" out loud.

There was no explosion, no epiphany, no moment of This is what poetry is, I see! I'd had that moment already, with e.e. cummings.  This ... this was a rumbling, a quaking; this was those half-formed walls crumbling, shaken, but not being destroyed.  I felt this poem in the frame of me.

This poem was history, this was girlhood, this was anger and guilt and real and a part of my heart I didn't know I had.

It was like Robert Frost, a little; this feeling of Oh, that, that's in my blood, I belong to that somehow.  (Though I never loved Frost the way I loved this poem.)  It was locked in with the end (though not the rest) of Dylan Thomas's "Fern Hill": Time held me green and dying/Though I sang in my chains like the sea.  It was utterly itself, in the end, related but not exact.

There are things--poems, paintings, photographs, novels, comic books, songs, artists, whole works and phrases and bits of things--that I think, if I could somehow collect them and hand them to someone, they would know me.  They're not what I love, always (though I love this poem); they're things that I recognize, that my bones reach for.

I who have stood dumb/when your betraying sisters/cauled in tar/wept by the railings
seldnei: (Default)
Hey, guys, you know in Hamlet where he dies at the end? I know, totally shocking, right?!

ETA: Pretty cool.
seldnei: (Default)
Oh, Orson Scott Card. Really? Really?

I have so many, many thoughts here. The first one being how sad and angry it makes me when the author of a book that made me love science fiction (that'd be Ender's Game) turns out to be a giant, rampaging homophobe (this is not new, but it makes me sad and angry over and over).

Hey, guess what? Gay people aren't evil! And while there are some things I can shrug off and be like, "Oh, well, sometimes people are jerks," this isn't one of those things. Those are actual people you're demonizing, there, Mr. Card, and (let me repeat) they aren't evil.

Then--who said Hamlet needed to be rewritten in general?!* On top of that, it looks like a badly-written, homophobic mash-up of A Thousand Acres and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Which, you know, the whole world has been waiting for ... right.

Really, I'm offended as a person and also as a lit geek.

As for the rest of my thoughts, the review I linked to above pretty much covers it.

Ugh.

*ETA: Not re-imagining, or playing with, or noodling round the edges of--I'm talking about re-writing--fundamentally changing, for example, how a character behaves/speaks/reacts, or how the story ends, or any number of things. From the review, it seems that Card is rewriting large portions of the actual text while also "re-imagining" it. Which is not the same thing that Tom Stoppard or Jane Smiley did, as examples.
seldnei: (Default)
Okay, so one of my professors in grad school was Luis Alberto Urrea. I have mentioned this before, I think. I got a lot out of his workshops (even the poetry one I did only as a desperate independent study because I was one 500-level class short of my degree and expected very little from), and found one of my writerly obsessions thanks to a writing assignment he gave us.

Anyway, that's one long way of saying (and, possibly, justifying) that when I saw this, I immediately thought, I am one degree of separation from Neil Gaiman! (Which means I'm two degrees of separation from Robin McKinley.)
seldnei: (Default)
Olivier Hamlet on TCM.

Okay, now, I know this is Laurence freaking Olivier, but ...

"I was sewing in my closet," says Ophelia, and then we hear her lines in voiceover and watch as Hamlet does everything she's describing as she describes it. And ... well, it kind of looks stupid. Okay, forget the "kind of."

I think it was probably lucky for me I saw the Derek Jacobi version in high school. Not that this is inherently sucky, but I don't think it would have sparked much love of Shakespeare in me at 17.
seldnei: (Default)
... and thinking: Steve Zahn? Really? Plus, hang on, maybe Patrick Stewart spoiled me, but I'm supposed to think that undergrad-hoping-to-get-into-film-school-'cause-he's-totally-like-brilliant-dude! movie freaked out a guy who killed his brother? Dude, just stand there smiling indulgently and say, "That was ... nice, kiddo," and walk away. There you go, play over.

It could, of course, be my inherent issues with Ethan Hawke, here, too. (He's pretentious. That's all. So, okay, one issue.)

I came in halfway through (or so), so I can't say for sure, but the whole three seconds I've seen of Julia Stiles's Ophelia I've liked. But can I stand it until the mad scene? I do not know.

Bill Murray?! Okay, now I have to go see if I can find the Polonius/Ophelia advice scene from this movie on YouTube.
seldnei: (Default)
THERE'S AN AUDIOBOOK VERSION OF TOM STOPPARD'S ARCADIA ON ITUNES!!!!!!!!!!

(pant, pant. whew!)

I'm tired of my music, pretty much, and I'm wearing out (well, it's on the iPod, so this is metaphorical) my copy of the BBC radio Much Ado About Nothing, and NPR is only sporadically entertaining ... for some reason I can't do audiobooks in the car, but plays work really well. And I love Arcadia. The first time I read it (I haven't actually seen it performed, which sucks), I fell in love.

So, yeah, can't really justify buying it now, but my next nice present to myself will likely be that.
seldnei: (Default)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, translated into Evil: "Tom Sawyer's dislike for Aunt Polly was rivaled only by his hatred of puppies."
seldnei: (hamlet who)
I was a little worried that it would be a case of my liking it just because it was Sci-Fi Geek Hamlet and not because it was a good Hamlet all on its own, but dude! That was one of the best Hamlets I've seen.

So, my thoughts:

1. Barefoot Hamlet is barefoot. A lot.

2. Absolutely my favorite 'To Be or Not to Be' speech

3. Best Polonius ever. Seriously.

4. Not my favorite Ophelia, but not some godawful pre-Raphaelite victim, either.

5. Damn your eyes, Mel Gibson, every time I watch Hamlet and Gertrude in the bedroom, I'm afraid there's going to be some gross Luke-and-Leia kissing thing.

6. For the most part, I wasn't feeling like I was watching the Doctor. But there were a couple of times--when Hamlet was quizzing Horatio and the guards about the ghost, and during the Yorick's skull scene--where you really expected Hamlet to whip out the sonic screwdriver and start rhapsodizing about the resilience of humans.

7. There's an overgrown adolescent feel to Hamlet as a character that I think David Tennant really worked to his advantage; he's so gangly anyway, and he used that in his body language. It's not something Kenneth Branagh can really access, you know? He can act young, but he really doesn't look it.

8. Oh, Patrick Stewart, you are made of win. I loved that he was the ghost and Claudius. I got this vibe off of that, and from Gertrude, that there was so much backstory to these relationships, and that the marriage, while fast, might actually make sense if we knew that backstory. And I got this feeling that Hamlet is clever like his uncle, but perhaps overly emotional like his father. Plus, Old Hamlet came across as a highly demanding father, too--if he were alive, he'd also be asking Hamlet to do things he's just not suited to do, and he'd be angry when they didn't get done the way he wanted. And Claudius was so controlled, and so ruthless at the end, and the play-within-a-play was much more ambiguous because of that.

9. Gertrude was really good. She was completely disillusioned by the end--I liked that she seemed to know that, at least in her kid's eyes, she'd screwed up, but she didn't seem to know Claudius killed Old Hamlet until near the end, and even then she didn't quite want to believe it. Hamlet being mad would be very easy, and let both of the men off the hook. But then there's the "Gertrude, don't drink," moment, and here it was this quiet thing ... and she knows. And she drinks, knowing.

10. Okay, I can't think of a number 10. But I liked it a lot. Oh, wait, Hamlet's barefoot or wearing sneakers (not Chucks, though). Slacker Hamlet. Actually, very GenX Hamlet, I thought, which worked for a lot of the problems of the play. I'm still thinking on that, though.
seldnei: (hamlet who)
Wednesday night, PBS, Great Performances at 8:00 (check your local listings)--David Tennant and Patrick Stewart doing Hamlet, bay-bee.

In honor of that, I give you this bit of silliness:



I'll have to see if I can find a good David Tennant clip.
seldnei: (hamlet who)
This is my brain two seconds ago:

(glancing out the window at the wind and rain)

Today just feels weird and honest to god, I am blaming the DVR. Wait, what? Why am I blaming the DVR? change/confrontation/i-am-cheap-and-this-costs-money/[sidenote of "i'm not cheap, i just feely *guilty* whenever i spend money, that's a whole other deal"]--

hang on.

[edited for oedipal swearing--draw it out loong and syllabic as you imagine me saying it, too].

It's because we watched bloody Noggin last night and this morning and not Disney Channel.

I feel like I'm at someone else's house!

What. the. hell.

Well, okay. Glad I got that settled.

Today still seems weird.

well, that cop that came by to talk to our neighbors across the street might be adding to the surreal feeling of the day ...
seldnei: (Default)
So back in, like, October, when we started sort of vaguely thinking about Christmas gifts, Scott told me that if anyone was looking for a cheap gift for him, this Hawkman figure they had at Target would be cool because he's never had a Hawkman figure, and he digs Hawkman.

The next time I was in Target (probably two days later--my gift to myself for Xmas is not going into any Target store for at least five days, even if I have to wait in the damned car!) I looked and saw there was only one Hawkman left. So I bought it and hid it away.

November rolled around and Scott and I agreed to hold off on gifts to each other until after Christmas. During which conversation I mentally waffled between gleefully rubbing my hands together and cackling, and rationalizing that I could make it a present from the Zweeble. Or my mom.

Here's the thing--you go to Target with the Zweeble, and he has to go to the toy section. So every trip since, I have looked over the action figures in order to see if they got another Hawkman, because I did not put it past Scott to not buy one himself. (How I would prevent this from happening, I do not know, but that was the thought process.) However, no Hawkman figures showed back up.

Until this past Wednesday.

I seriously thought about hiding it, since Scott was with us. But the last-minute-gift crowd worked in my favor, and we got the heck out of there fast ... and Scott got his Hawkman figure this morning.

(The gleefully rubbing my hands together and cackling side won, btw.)

This thing is pretty durn cool. Huge wingspan for an action figure, really well-made and sculpted. We're not sure why his abs are articulated, but it's not the 5,000 points of articulated mess that is the Zweeble's Beast figure.



I got this and this from my mom, who went over our $25 limit ... but I did that to her, too (we drew names this year, and she and I got each other). I also ordered this because ... well, y'all know my weaknesses by now, right? Anyway, I'm calling that Scott's present to me, even though it is not nearly as cool as Hawkman. Probably as many articulation points, though.



One thing Santa got Z. that I was dubious about was a small table and chairs set. But he loves it, and used it all day for fingerpainting and playing doctor. So I'm going to have to rearrange my living room (well, just leave it rearranged, as we'll just take the tree down and leave that corner for the table), but I think I can set up a neat little craft/art space for him, which should be cool.

He played a lot today, with pretty much everything he got. And it was all ... well, like a doctor kit, a toy kitchen, a castle--stuff you use to create stories or role play. Imagination toys. Older kid toys. It sort of hit me today that he's not a baby anymore; he's moved onto a whole new phase of kid-dom.
seldnei: (hamlet who)
I mean, it's not, like, a famous bit ... but dig it, the Doctor and Jean-Luc Picard, together at last ...



They're apparently going to show it on PBS in 2010. DVD is coming out in January, but not in Region 1 format (bastards!).
seldnei: (Default)
This poem is really good, and then there's one in the second comment that I kinda like better.

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Laura E. Price

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