Thursday, June 13th 2013
A bunch of things
Spotify, but I still miss last.fm
I'm gonna miss this site so much!
I have finally decided to move my ramblings to WordPress
. It was not an easy decision but I'm tired of updating through a php administration site and together with a whole lot of other reasons it's dampened my enthusiasm for writing (even further). I know WordPress from two years of design blogging
and it's damn comfortable to have both addresses there. It also searches well on Google (though unfortunately it doesn't pay me for all this praise).
I can't stress enough how sorry I am to leave this design and functionality (outward functionality, because it's not that comfortable from the inside) which was tailored exactly to my needs and liking. I've developed here a whole convention with the quotes, reads, music etc. which I will have to give up now and surrender to one of pre-designed layouts. Also, I can no longer look haughtily at those using blogging services instead of slaving properly through Notepad (reality check: I never had a chance to cast any of those haughty looks in real life). But most of all, everything you see here (including the things that don't work perfectly) was a labor of love and those are always hard to say goodbye to.
To lighten the mood though, my new blog is supereasy to update, it has statistics (whoa, five people read my first post already!) and ways for readers to show their love (and, scarily, hate) so hopefully it will mark my renewed zest for telling you about all the exciting TV I watch and parties I don't attend. See you there, my imaginary readers, here's the link again: Eurydice Rambling Reboot
Tuesday, Feb 12th 2013
Of Giants and Men or The Fountainhead
See below and/or above.
I've recently become obsessed over Mumford and Sons. Last summer they played here and we didn't go because it rained: and now I could kick myself if I was sprightly enough. There's something I find so deeply spiritual about their music, whether that's intentional or not, that it moves me to awe.
I'm still looking for a new formula for this blog. I'm toying with the idea of a reading journal (except not really a journal, goes without saying).
Ayn Rand always puzzled me but for a long time it wasn't in a way that would make me want to read her books. I studied American literature but she was hardly ever mentioned in a course. Yet her books appeared on Gilmore Girls. Still, the very phrase "philosopher writer" was enough to put me off because as a rule I avoid anything written by philosophers due to their special brand of language torturing. I'm not sure what made me change my mind, I guess just curiosity about the kind of huge novel that can have such cult following, and I decided to give Rand a try. I picked The Fountainhead rather than Atlas Shrugged merely because of architecture as the subject matter.
Boy, did this book surprise me. First of all, it's not good literature at all. For something so renown I definitely expected it to be better written but its literary faults know no limit. Despite that (I dread to say thanks to that) it reads just fine, not even the lengthy philosophizing passages bored me, much as I disagreed with most of them.
But there is simply no way to sympathize with any of the characters. First of all, they don't even pretend to be fleshy human beings, but just mouthpieces to pronounce the author's worldview – or in case of the sinister characters, the opposite worldview. They don't so much speak as soliloquize when asked about any old subject, say the weather. Best they can do is a sort of Platonic dialog, with one character articulating profound thoughts and the other adding "I want to hear it explained by you" – because that's how people talk.
Secondly, they are clearly all a product of the same mind. Not only do they talk alike (I dare you to pick one speech at random and figure out who's speaking just by the tone) but they constantly read each others' minds. I think I must have read a lot of books like that when I was younger because I remember thinking relationships were like that: that your significant other says something like "Your hair looks good tonight" and you're supposed to figure out he really despises that you didn't visit his mother but he still cares about you because you are kindred spirit when it comes to movie taste. I also remember worrying I wasn't insightful enough to ever be in a relationship. Well, Rand's characters don't have this problem; they know that if your lover doesn't come to see you it's because he wants you to marry someone despicable so that you can realize in time that you really loved him but had to understand it yourself.
As for the philosophy Rand forces down your throat, I mostly had a problem with its one-sided presentation. The opposing arguments were so obviously wrong you would have to be a masochistic idiot to agree with the manipulative psychopath of Ellsworth Toohey (and should you have any doubts, there's his name to discredit his values further). While I see how in assumption this might have served to bring out the points more forcibly, these were actually the techniques of the regimes that Ms. Rand, justifiably, detested: to ridicule the opposition and present your worldview in a no-space-to-argue kind of way. And frankly, Randian theory is great and fine for a superhuman genius like Howard Roark, who doesn't have a single weakness except for short patience for people less gifted, but the regular people, ever regular real-life geniuses, have little to expect from this philosophy. Of course, most ideologies positioned against Nazism and Stalinism seem preferable but this is really an easy way to win a debate. Out of this context, I think I agree with Nora Ephron quoted on Wikipedia (because I hardly research beyond Wikipedia these days), who calls it a "silly book." Each time I came upon a particularly loaded passage I remembered the phrase and it made the reading easier.
Friday, Nov 30th
It's my version of frequent writing
Apart from one Unmentionable (rest assured, I'll probably write all about it when I'm done with it), I'm deep into Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. Despite my degree in English lit, I never came across her before and so have this whole new-ish (okay, it's really a 19th century Jane Austen, but still) world to explore. And I always enjoy me a little of salon-intrigue-leading-to-engagement entertainment.
Back to last.fm for a while until my subscription runs out again.
Hereby, I officially declare I won't make any more declarations as to writing more here as they obviously don't work. I'll write but if more – I'm just unable to say.
So, pretending anybody asked, here's what's new with me. The several additions to my life since the last entry are these:
A new, very part-time job. I'm teaching design in a private college. If you've been following me for a while, you could have things to say about that. My course focuses on design for print and allows me to discover that I have a rather well-defined design philosophy for someone who works daily on leaflets and billboards.
My living situation changed a little, and it's good.
In my regular work I managed to do a project or two that I'm really satisfied with, both small and large scale. Also, I'm finally working on my personal tangible type project a little and you can see all of it on re:blog
, complete with pictures of me in many-colored tights.
Board games. I've always been theoretically into board games but never really bought them or even played them until they became socially acceptable (I did toy with designing them though). That's not because I care about what makes you socially popular (as the next point clearly reminds you) but suddenly our friends started inviting us over for gaming nights. And since A&Z treated us to a game of Dracula
, we started building our own collection and I must admit a board game has become one of my favorite kinds of gifts recently. Just saying.
New shows, as during every new TV season, because I'm just that anti-social. This Fall's favorites include Nashville
and I get why the country thing could put people off but certainly not me, and also The Mindy Project
. I did not expect to love this show and it charmed me by surprise.
I'll give you time to process all this exciting new info now.
Friday, Sep 7th 2012
It's really me
Finished The Help and really enjoyed it. I saw the movie and quite liked it and even though I suppose the book is better I still kept seeing it as a script for the movie, particularly as it was so close.
I've started listening to a bunch of new bands in this period of absence, like Slow Club and Emmy the Great and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They're not technically new, most of them, just new to me.
I haven't been here for a long time because something happened in April and I didn't know how to write about it while writing about anything else just felt disrespectful, I guess. I still don't know how to write about it so I won't. I'll go on to other subjects instead.
I've got a whole list of subjects waiting for the blog but I'll start at the meta-beginning and write about writing. Today I started Patti Smith's Just Kids, right after I finished The Help and both include the motif of wanting to become a writer. Now, this is going to sound strange (unless you already read it in one of my really old posts) with my writing so rare and rusty now (though still alliterative at times) but in high school my choice career was a writer and nothing would convince me I would not become one. This was not like my earlier career choices that, in an excitingly random fashion, ranged from an eye doctor to a model, because I was socially brainwashed, just in many different ways at once. Writer felt natural and realistic, even the part in which I won the Nobel Prize around forty (because that felt like old enough to earn it but not yet so senile that I wouldn't enjoy it; not the money, I never cared about the money that it seems you have to give out to charity or taxes anyway; I just craved the honor). I spent many an afternoon writing stories in Microsoft Word: unfortunately, I never had a plan, I just enjoyed the activity of writing, jumped right into a story only to abandon it a dozen pages later (that's with appealing stories, some counted half a page when forsaken). A couple of years ago I reread all the stories not protected by a forgotten password and, surprise surprise, they bored me out of my mind. Most of them. There was one I wished I'd written more of because I found myself curious about the characters but successes ended there.
What put a question mark to my writing plan, though, was the repeating opinion that you have to live through things to write about them – and I never really wanted to live through extreme things and still don't. Also, in one conversation I vividly remember, my Dad, who always worshipped good writers and managed to be both supportive and doubtful of my authorial vocation, said you have to be an exhibitionist to be a writer and I guess I'm just not. So there goes the Nobel Prize but maybe one day when I master the art of ending a story I could have a career in kitchen romances and still realize that great dream of publishing a book with my name on it. Hey, if Stephanie Meyer could do this?
Wednesday, Mar 14th
The Girl Who Almost Died but Didn't and They Spent the Third Book Repeating the Same Story
Columbine by Dave Cullen. It's interesting, chilling and slightly frustrating as, so far, it fails to answer why. And I doubt it really could.
The Kills who will be playing in my town during a festival and it's so great. Finally.
When on the design blog
we commented on a score of Stieg Larsson covers (and people actually read it, which made me fuzzy with satisfaction) I itched to talk about the books in a good old lit-crit style but it wasn't really the place. Here is though.
For a trilogy Girls Who Do Things
is remarkably disjoint: each volume reads like a different genre and deterioratingly so. I actually enjoyed volume one for its gloom and old-school crime story feel – though the revelations about incest, serial killings and whatever-else-is-sensational (oh yeah, there will be spoilers) felt increasingly preposterous. The second volume turned into trash action story, complete with shoot-outs, boxing and prostitute-importing mafias. As such, it was a guilty pleasure, up till the zombie scene where the series jumped the shark for me (I know she wasn't a zombie but close enough). Before I read that scene I'd thought Larsson made a gutsy move, killing his only memorable character. But he didn't (and that was another spoiler, I guess). Volume three degenerated into a spy thriller afterthought without thrills and court drama sans drama. I only enjoyed reading it out with R and pointing out all the flaws.
And there were many. For me a story is primarily character-driven and yeah, there was Lisbeth. I liked her until at the very end she forced herself onto a married guy, effectively getting out of character and losing all my liking. Most other characters were unnecessary, ridiculous and often both. Of course, this is true for Blomkvist: a guy to please all females, no matter how insatiable, practically on sight, with all the convenient qualities like a Rambo training and yet completely forgettable. Also, clearly he was the author's alter ego, which gives his exuberant sexual life a juvenile flavor. I would cut out every single reference to Erika Berger including her long and useless plot in volume three and no one would be worse off for it. And don't even get me started on the giant blonde shapebuilder: I mean the chick, not the evil mutant. Yeah, there was one too.
Where characters fail to be vivid product placement shines. Some passages read like taken straight out of Ikea or Apple catalogs. We learn the name of every single gizmo the characters use. And repeatedly. Repetitions abound: if properly edited, three books would fit into one (albeit large-ish). Each time we re-learn something when a negligible character relays it to someone irrelevant, it's with an air of revelation, which I assume is because the target audience consists of amnesiacs. And I agree with critics (or that one guy I read online) that the theme of "men who hate women" or violence against women gets a suspicious overtone when the violence is described in detail. This was, however, more striking in a movie from which I recoiled. And Fincher's film disappointed me additionally because I expected to be surprised – I don't know why because it's obvious in hindsight that when you film a bestseller you have to stick to it. Only, a lesser director should have done it so it wouldn't feel like wasted potential.
There. Sorry for running on but I wrote this rant during a lecture. Most of my friends never read the books so if you have thoughts let me know (not that you will but wouldn't it be nice to sometimes hear from someone? I suppose it would).
Sunday, Mar 4th
"Well, I feel that films – the film industry – has increasingly failed to reflect reality as people live it. No-one goes for a piss in Star Wars, you can watch the whole of Ghostbusters and no-one brushes their teeth, and in Lost in Translation, nothing happens. At all."
Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel. It's a little too long, but impressive on a literary level.
The Rollings Stones, a selection of my favorites, the most favorite of which is, strangely enough, "Dead Flowers."
It's a little early for that but it's actually getting spring-like.
Apparently, a lesser know occupational hazard for a designer is being too susceptible to propaganda through good design. This Shame poster sent us to a cinema last week and we sat through the whole movie. I guess I shouldn't be blaming the poster because it represents the movie so well: it's blue, well-shot and nothing happens in it. I can only blame myself for reading into one of the most honest posters ever. Now, Shame was nowhere near the worst movie I've ever seen in a theater. (It's still you Silent Hill. No wait, it's Black Swan. And yes, I just equated them.) But it was disappointing. Things I didn't like about the movie:
1. Obvious, boring, transparent soundtrack; it would've gained tons from surprising music that took research to find. Instead when they needed a song about New York they chose "New York, New York." Way to go.
2. Nothing whatsoever to hook your interest about the characters. When the sister said "We come from a bad place" I briefly started wondering what that might have been but then realized that no answer would make any difference to me. And good thing I did because I got no answer.
3. How we're supposed to be sorry for a jerk with a great job and a great apartment who's just making problems for himself. I do want that job, however: notice how he comes and leaves at will, has a great desk by the large window and doesn't even bother to explain why he's downloading porn on company's money.
4. Dialogues. Few as they were, could they've been any more cliched? Same goes for most supporting characters, actually, like the black girl who we just know is someone the main character can't relate to because she's gone through Enlightenment Through Self-Help Books movement and now knows that she wants to be "here and now." I'm ironic, the movie wasn't.
Things I liked include colors, filming and Michael Fassbender, I guess. The friends we saw the movie with liked it and then we heard other people liked it too (not that girl sitting next to me, though; she repeatedly expressed hope that either or preferably both of the main characters would die; and I don't blame her) so I realize it makes sense to people to watch a video of an anonymous guy who transports himself by riding a metro, walking and sometimes running, and every now and then undergoes sex-related activities. My craving for plot is apparently inexplicable.
Thursday, Feb 23rd
"I'm gonna be direct and honest with you. I will take a glass of red wine and I will take the cheapest one you have because I can't tell the difference"
I'm reading several e-books at once, my favorite being Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff. It's impressive and encouraging that she manages to write an, after all, historical book without any of the repelling academic jargon. It reads great and keeps you interested. Another, entirely different, book I quite enjoyed was Soulless by Gail Carriger, a Victorian, steam-punk take on vampires and werewolves. It's not much in terms of serious literature but as far as urban fantasy, somewhat erotic silly readings go, it's a gem.
The Pixies again. I like lots of their song but it's "Here Comes Your Man" I never get enough of. And "Hey", I guess.
Whenever I watch Parks and Recreation I'm a little happier. Even the music makes me happy and I don't fast-forward the intro. It's remarkable how well-written and well-acted this show is, with it adorable quirky characters, particularly as I'm not into comedies at all.
Today I am proud to present a list of activities that will help you entertain that part of the brain that is not involved in looking mildly interested when sitting through lectures. All methods tested and guaranteed.
1. Doodle patterns. Start at one point and go concentrically from there, expanding all the way to your notes, page margins, the table and the sleeve of the guy sitting next to you. Makes you feel zen in no time.
2. A more advanced variant: draw your surroundings. Start from what's in front of you and go from there, drawing the whole room left and right until you reach your own hand holding a pen (at which point you'll probably ruin the drawing because hands are superhard to draw). Extra fun point: people get really uncomfortable when they realize you're drawing them.
3. Pick an easy mathematical sequence, like Fibonacci's, and count consecutive terms. I know it doesn't sound like fun but it does wonders in keeping you occupied and as an extra advantage, at no effort at all creates this coveted impression of an autistic mathematical genius.
4. Try to remember lyrics to a song you once knew. You'll be surprised that you really don't. But if you do there's a million things you can do with the words: translate them, transcript them phonetically, illustrate them with stick figures. The fun never ends.
5. If you know any language except for the one the lecture is in you can try translating the language simultaneously. This will bore you so much you'll find the lecture itself comparatively exciting. For a short while. And even if not, at least you'll look intensely interested in the lecture while thinking how to say postmodern metafictional discourse in Croatian.
6. Think of all the ways how you could surreptitiously take out a book and read it only to decide that it would be really impolite.
Wednesday, Feb 1st (2012)
"Looking at her I feel like she might be the perfect spooning size for me."
Grossman's The Magician King, sequel to his Magicians that impressed me a while ago. It's such a controversial one for me, because it's a good read, entertaining on a few levels (the genre references not the least important one) and even insightful when it comes to things we take for granted in fantasy but its meta-character and its obnoxious characters make it hard to really root for anybody. If I was still writing lit papers, this would be a perfect novel to read into, though.
The Wild Hunt by the Tallest Man on Earth. I'm again tired with all the music I've got and digging out things I've not been listening to for a while. Most disappoint but this one is refreshing with his crazy guitar-skill and his uninhibited Dylanesque-ness (it's not even close to a real word).
I actually miss writing here. It's just that I've lost a sense of audience. I don't even know if anybody's still reading it. It's not fishing for assurance, just explaining myself, in case somebody is. Sometimes writing just for the heck of it is enough. Sometimes there are other things you'd rather do with the evening. Like sleep.
I'm still here and still feeling guilty about writing so rarely but truth is after eight hours of computer at work and more hours at home – and only some of those are series-watching (when I got discouraged with comedies like New Girl
and their growingly-detestable characters I suddenly found the little gem of Parks and Recreation
; sidenote ended) I'm not so hot on writing. But this blog is not dead, rather malnourished, and when I get some exciting new observation that does not have to do with my TV watching habits, I'll be here like a wild cat. I mean fast. Sorry for not posting a Christmas card this year but it's available on the other blog
, the one about design that we update with impressive and irritating regularity. The irritating part is that we give up a little bit of each weekend to do this and there's still only that one person reading: but thank you, one person, we won't disappoint you. Bring your friends next time.