Busy, busy

Jan. 22nd, 2014 04:45 pm
daidoji_gisei: (Default)
Still have to fix computer. It's being delayed by various things, like polar vortexes and sick employees and whatnot. Meanwhile I've been busy doing important things like cleaning my kitchen, doing laundry, and playing with the ereader my best friend got me for my birthday. I never particularly wanted one before, but having one now I admit it has a lot of advantages. The greatest one so far is that there are a lot of free ebooks out there, and now I have (and am reading through) a huge pile of very early Andre Norton. (Her earliest works came out in the late 40s. Who knew?)

Overall January is going well, though I've fallen behind in my Latin homework. (See: ereader, above.) As an experiment I set myself a food budget goal far lower than what the USDA allows for food stamps, and so far I'm meeting it. This is forcing me to use up the foodstuffs in my storage cupboards, which is my main motivation for the experiment. It's also making me cook more, because take-out eats up money fast, and this is helping me get back to healthy eating, so it's a good thing all around.

I finally missed my saving throw and ordered some of the BPAL Yule scents. I went with The First Soft Snow 2013 and The Garden In Winter because I'm curious on how they handle the concept of 'snow' in a scent, and Peacock Queen 2013 because so far it's my favorite of the LEs and I decided I wanted this year's rendition. I always save up to order at least three bottles at a time, because shipping is so expensive. Now I need to start saving again, because I'm on the waiting list for when Hymn comes back into stock. (It's one of my favorites, and my bottle is almost empty!) When I get my computer back I intend to go through my stock and put up a sell-list on the BPAL fan forum--I have a handful of LEs that I've tried several times, and they just don't work on me. (Which is to say, they develop fruity notes that I just cannot deal with. For some reason the Lunacies are prone to this, even the ones that don't have a fruit in their scent notes.)

My anual eval was supposed to be Thursday, but it's been rescheduled to Friday. I don't have a problem with this except I hate and dread annual evals and this is another day to fret about it. Well, it can't be helped.
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My current bathtub reading is a grimoire. I think this says something about me, but I am not sure exactly what.

I picked up the Dover reprint of this book, which is a compilation and translation of a number of manuscript scrolls purporting to be a book of magic written by King Solomon. I think this alleged authorship can be easily called into question by the fact that the intro, which is supposed to be something Solomon wrote to his son Roboam, explains how the book was excavated from Solomon's tomb years and years after his death by a group of Babylonian Philosophers during a remodeling project at the tomb and who then figured out how to read it. I realize Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, but still.

The book is mainly concerned with how to conjure demons and spirits and oblige them to do stuff for you, and it goes into sometimes maddening detail in how to prepare oneself, one's companions, the circles, the medals or pentacles, the candle, incense, pens, inks, water, salt, etc, etc.

I say "sometimes" because in the third chapter of the second book it states, "And if he [the Magus] cannot have Companions, he should at least have with him a faithful and attached dog." The purpose of the dog is nowhere explained. The (human) Companions' role is explained much earlier in the book: they help cart stuff into the circle and then stand around looking calm and impressive while the conjuration is going on. So what does the dog do? Solomon is clearly serious about the dog, as he even provides a Conjuration to be said over the dog while bathing and perfuming it with incense. It's baffling.

I picked this up to serve as a reference work for writing, and I think it will serve nicely, both in its own contents and as a model for fictional girmoires. In the meantime it's amused me over the course of several baths, which makes it worth the cost right there.
daidoji_gisei: Lotus flower (Lotus)
There are a few books in this world that own parts of my soul, and one of them is the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. This is an odd happenstance because it's a really, really long poem and I have an almost complete inability to appreciate poetry. On the other hand once you get past the poetry thing the Divine Comedy is obviously my kind of book: it's a self-insertion fanfic dealing with damnation and redemption. What's not to love?

There's a lot more I could say about why I find it so fascinating, but I don't feel like journaling about that tonight. Instead, I want to record a few thoughts about the various translations of the Inferno that I have read recently. There are a lot of different translations running around, and while I will always love John Ciardi's that's not to say that I can't love other translations as well.

That's the theory, anyway. As a practical matter I wasn't enraptured by any of the three I started with, but I'm not downhearted: there must be at least five other translations at Bennet Martin library, and that's not counting the one by Sinclair which I will apparently have to get via intra-library loan. But that's a project that will have to wait until after I get that book chapter written.

So, here is what I have so far:

Read more... )
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I've been cleaning my desk at work for the past week (don't ask) and the most amazing stuff has floated back up. My John Belushi "Samurai Baker" action figure, an embarrassing number of deli tabs that I need to pay off, floppy disks with cryptic phrases written on them (my current work computer doesn't even accept floppies!).... I've also encountered a number of quotes that over the years I have scribbled, printed, and sometimes even laminated and taped to the wall of the bakery for a time. Warning: contains quote and writer lust. )
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OH MY KAMI MY COPY OF ADVENT CHILDREN ARRIVED TODAY AND I'VE ALREADY WATCHED IT ONCE AND I TOTALLY WANT TO REWATCH THE SCENE WHERE CLOUD AND SEPHRIOTH ARE THROWING DOWN BUT THAT WOULD REQUIRE ACTUALLY FIGURING OUT HOW THE DVD PLAYER ON MY MACBOOK WORKED AND THE BOX FROM AMAZON ALSO HAD THE COPY OF THE PARADISO BY DANTE AND I CAN'T READ AND WATCH A MOVIE AT THE SAME TIME. WOE! WOE IS ME!
...


Oh, hey, my keyboard does non-caps. I guess I'd forgotten about that for a minute.

So, my box from Amazon arrived today, two days earlier than they said it would. I was impressed. And giddy, as it had my long-desired copy of the Advent Children dvd. AC is based on the world of one of the Final Fantasy games (VII, I think, but don't quote me) and I only know it because my friend Brent showed it in our hotel room at Gencon a few years back because he thought I'd like it. Brent knows me entirely too well, though admittedly you don't have to know me that well to guess that a movie involving sword fights, motorcycle chases and guys with long hair would make me happy. It actually has a decent plot as well (though at one point it makes no sense whatsoever) and it deals a bit with redemption and friendship (two themes that will almost always meet with my approval) but honestly I tell people about the sword fights first. I have shallow tastes in entertainment and I've mostly given up feeling embarrassed about it.

So next I'm going to make myself some dinner, and then I'm going to take a bath and start reading Dante's Paradiso. I'd first read the Inferno about twenty years ago after reading an X-Man special issue where a sorceress wanted to get revenge on Nightcrawler and imprisoned him in a pseudo-hell modeled after Dante's version but I'd never gotten around to reading the other sections of the Divine Comedy until recently. I'd found a copy of the Puragtorio at a used bookstore in Madison WI by the same translator as my copy of the Inferno, and since I was already on Amazon ordering AC I decided now was the time to complete my set. Sadly, its cover does not match the other two's, but at least now I'll know how it ended.
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In junior high I discovered one of my favoritest books in the world: The Guns of Naverone by Alistair MacLean. We met by pure accident--I had actually been looking for Force 10 From Navarone, because the movie version had just come out starring Harrison Ford and, well, Harrison Ford. My jr high library didn't have Force 10, but it did have Guns, so I checked it out instead. (I never did manage to see the movie of Force 10, and I don't even know which character Ford played. But if I was casting a remake of Guns, I would put him as the tough, slightly world-weary Mallory. Type casting? Maybe. But it is such a good type for him!)

Having gotten the book I settled down to read. At the time I knew very little about WWII and nothing on the finer (or even large scale!) points of naval warfare, so the exact reason why Navarone was so important didn't quite take with me. It didn't matter. From the first page I was utterly absorbed, and no sooner had I finished it than I turned back to the first page and started over. I read it three or four times before I had to give it back to the library, and then I checked it out a few more times after that. (Eventually I got a copy of my own, along with a lot of other MacLean books--my love of used book stores flowered early in life.)

It's difficult for me to say exactly what I found so gripping about it--I haven't reread it since I started writing seriously, so I've never read it with my writer-brain engaged. The fact that it has a first-class roller coaster of a plot probably helps. (Unlike, say, Where Eagles Dare, whose denoument makes me want to throw it with great force. [livejournal.com profile] yhlee, do not, under any circumstances, read that book. There are not enough sporks in the world for it.) And there is also that Guns presented a world that I somehow hadn't noticed before, a world where people made decisions that mattered and lived and died by inches and errors and ideals.

But over all this, when I sift through my memories, what impresses me most is the amazingly textured gorgeousness of MacLean's writing. A sun-washed dock in the Mediterranean, with the wild hills of a Greek island in the background; the cellar of an ancient manor house; the smokey insides of an island taverna; all of it is rendered in a loving detail that would give Tolkein a run for his money. People don't just drink wine, they drink hock or Moselle or retsina and they don't eat food, they eat olives and figs and bread, and when they stop to smoke you hear the flare of the match and see how the fire makes their face more visible in the darkness as they light the cigarette.

Somewhere in the maze of boxes that is my apartment is my copy of this book. If that isn't an incentive to finish unpacking I don't know what is.
daidoji_gisei: (Default)
I have not, obviously, been posting here a lot recently. Basically I was sick, and then I was not sick and frantically trying to catch up on all the things that hadn't gotten done because I was sick.

My weekend had a variety of good and bad things happen. It started on Friday evening when I mad the astonishing discovery that I had not, in fact, mailed this month's rent check. Oops. Saturday morning I discovered that I have apparently killed my bay-leaf tree by forgetting to water it. *cries* I loved that tree! And it was huge! I watered it in hopes that it was only mostly dead but I have yet to see any signs of life.

On the brighter side this weekend I had no out-of-town guests and I wasn't feeling too sick to leave the house so I was able to get some grocery shopping done. While I was in the area I checked out two thrift stores, one of which had three dessert plates in the pattern of the set I had owned when I was an undergrad. I grabbed them, both for sentiment and because they fit in with the not-a-set set I am slowly building up. (I wonder what happened to my undergrad set? If they were stored in Mom's basement they are now gone forever.)

Then I stopped at the used bookstore while I was waiting for the bus and scored big: John Ciardi's translation of the Purgatorio and Midway: the Battle that Doomed Japan by Mitsuo Fuchida and Masatake Okumiya. I had checked out a copy of the Purgatorio translated by someone else in December and had been making no progress at all, so I was super-excited to find Ciardi's version. (I have his translation of the Inferno. (As an aside, has anyone else had the realization that the whole Divine Comedy is a fan-fic with self-insertion?) The Midway book had been written shortly after the end of WWII by two Japanese naval air officers. Historical curiosity for the win!

Best of all was remembering that, unlike last year, my mother is not living with me.


















daidoji_gisei: (Default)
This afternoon I finished the Main Business of the weekend, which was the be-flavoring of Honor's Veil, and decided that I then had to do housework. One of the many things I got done was to clean off all the stuff on my bed so I could put down clean sheets.

Now, understand that I have a queen-sized bed (courtesy of my dad, who found it at a moving sale and hauled it down to Lincoln in his pick-up truck) and that as I am the kind of person who falls asleep in one place and more-or-less stays there, so that a lot of my bed gets used for non-sleeping purposes. Like holding clean clothes that need to be hung up. Or the book I was reading before I turned off the light and went to sleep.


This afternoon I found the following items in my bed:
Three catalogs (American Science & Surplus, Dharma Trading Co., Herrschners Crafts)
The Book of the Courtier, Baldesar Castiglione
Japanese Destroyer Captain, Capt. Tameichi Hara
Star Wars: Splinter of the Mind's Eye, Alan Dean Foster
Rurouni Kenshin vol. 27
Bleach vol 16, 17, 20
War Prince (Star Commandos #12), P. M. Griffin
The Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations, by J.K. Hoyt (published 1907)
Sink the Bismark!, C. S. Forester
Two pamphlets on the rosary
A print-out of an L5R fanfic by [livejournal.com profile] koshindou


Renaissance woman or a deeply confused individual? You be the judge.

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