You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2010.

I’ve reached the state of sleepiness in which the brain is only tenuously connected to the body. My sleep for the past several nights has been disturbed for one reason or another, and I’m always of two minds about those experiences. No one enjoys being tired (I don’t think?), but I find that being ripped from my dreams, dragged mercilessly into the waking world as my dreaming mind reels from the shock, enables me to remember them better, and they’re usually doozies. I had some saga going the other night, in which I dreamed (among other things) that an acquaintance I hadn’t seen or thought of in a year or two suddenly featured prominently. He also went blind. Hope that one ain’t prophetic, for his sake and for the sake of the millions who had to throw themselves into the sea for some unspecified-yet-terribly-important reason.

In spite of being thoroughly exhausted, I couldn’t seem to nap today. I had just drifted off when someone blew their horn outside, and instantly I was 100% awake, and there was nothing I could do about it. Why is it that sometimes when you’re wakened in the middle of a dream, you just mumble, roll over, and fall right back asleep, and other times you feel as if sleep has been severed from you, like one of your limbs, and you’ll never get it back? You’re still exhausted, and you tell yourself to go back to sleep, but your body’s all, “SLEEP?! Are you MAD? Whatever just woke us up is no doubt a pack of ravenous velociraptors intent on ripping you limb from limb. We need to find the hand grenades and get the trip wires in place NOW!” (Firefox spell check doesn’t recognize “velociraptors” as a word? What the heck.) And by that point, of course, there is no point in attempting sleep any further. I can’t compete with velociraptors. No one can, really.

I had all sorts of cool things I was going to say, but instead I think I’ll go to bed and hope the dinosaurs harass you instead tonight.

I realized the other day that I was completely out of peanut butter. This is probably not any great hardship for most people, but I have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch every day. (I know. I’m five. But it’s cheap and convenient!) Accordingly, I went out and picked up some peanut butter on my way to Sarah and Graham’s place for a movie night. I was a little early, so I explored the roads around there for a bit. Suddenly, as I was driving back to their house, some fool dog ran right in front of my car, barking maniacally and fully convinced he could take on an automobile and win. I slammed on my brakes really hard, and the peanut butter hurtled forward and smashed rather spectacularly against the front of my car. The dog was so close I couldn’t even see him over the hood of my car. I craned my neck apprehensively as the aroma of peanuts filled the air. The dog shuffled sheepishly off to the side. Not dead! Excellent. My car was covered in broken glass and peanut butter. Less excellent. Fortunately, for no reason whatsoever, I had picked up two jars, and one was unbroken! I ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches the next day after all, and the dog lived to do idiotic things another day.

I Write Like, found by Ian. I ran thirteen short stories and four blog entries through this thing, and it gave me thirteen different results, including Cory Doctorow, James Joyce, Margaret Atwood, H.P. Lovecraft, David Foster Wallace, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ernest Hemingway, Harry Harrison, Neil Gaiman, Dan Brown, Arthur C. Clarke, H.G. Wells, and J.D. Salinger. Either I’m schizophrenic, or this isn’t quite accurate, but it’s nonetheless interesting!

Fantasy taxidermy: creepy or cool? I’m leaning more towards the creepy, I won’t lie, but the griffins are pretty cool.
Book spine poetry. Brilliant! This makes me want to reorganize my bookshelves into poems.
Flower petal nests for bees. Possibly too pretty to be real.
The beginnings of holodecks? I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Five vastly different short films with the same dialogue. Some are better than others, but the idea is nonetheless fascinating.

I’ve already gone pretty nuts over the space trilogy by C.S. Lewis, but it all bears repeating. I polished off That Hideous Strength, and it was wonderful. I don’t think I could choose one of the three books as a favorite anymore. It reminds me of The Lord of the Rings in that it feels like one story, indivisible. Except, of course, LotR really was one story and not meant to be broken up, and the space trilogy can be read as three standalone stories. But it seems to me that you would miss out on a lot by reading them as standalones. People have mentioned having trouble getting through That Hideous Strength, and I think it’s because it really needs to be read immediately after the other two, or you lose the feel for the world it exists in. I can well imagine it would feel quite jarring if you came back to it after some time had passed. As much as I loved the space trilogy as a whole, I was kind of startled (in a bad way) by a few aspects of That Hideous Strength. They were minor points in the story, but I think C.S. Lewis is such a theological genius 99% of the time that, when he does say something off the wall, it strikes the reader on an even sourer note than one would think.

SPOILER ALERT: The part that hit me so unpleasantly was the treatment of the character of Jane Studdock. It seemed as if Lewis was hinting at the idea that women are saved only (mainly?) through childbirth, and Jane’s ambivalence towards children is portrayed as demonic in origin. (One character goes so far as to say she should be beheaded for her failure to have children, though the other characters recognize this to be a bit much.) The whole thing seemed so jarring in the midst of Lewis’ other, well-reasoned ideas, and it seemed so random and left-field that I didn’t know what to do with it. The character of Jane in general became less and less interesting as the book progressed; to me, her responses to events didn’t make sense, to the point that she became almost completely inactive, and her thoughts didn’t even seem coherent. Confusing…

Anyway, not to end things on a negative note: overall, the trilogy was magnificent, and I definitely consider these among my favorite books now. Right now I’m finishing up The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov, the first in his robot trilogy. I haven’t read any Asimov in quite a while, so reading this book is like getting together with a good friend you haven’t seen in a couple years. All of their quirks and mannerisms come back to you, and you remember why you got along so well in the first place. I may have to dig up the rest of the trilogy once I’ve finished this one.

Today my boss brought brownies to work, so I went into the kitchen to procure one for myself. I thought I was alone, and I stood there for a minute devouring it and really enjoying it, and then I turned around, expression of brownie bliss still on my face, licking my fingers. The conference room across the hall, which is almost always empty, was full of people, and three people were staring at me through the window. Oops. Hi, guys! I just smiled and skedaddled.

Star Wars subway stunt, by the Improv Everywhere crew.
Eric Whiteacre’s Virtual Choir. Exquisite.

Yesterday and today were a very odd mixture of busyness at work, time-wastage online ( sucks you in), and mind-stretching ideas with C.S. Lewis. I’ve finished Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, and I’m about 2/3 through That Hideous Strength At first I thought that I liked Perelandra best, but I’ve since changed my mind; even though each can be read independently, I find myself building on thoughts and ideas I had in the earlier books, and Lewis himself weaves in so many associations with the previous works that the whole thing feels to me like one unified book. I am in awe of Lewis’ mind. It reminds me a bit of Dr. Thomas; I feel like for every connection between ideas that I make, there are three more that I’m missing, and his mind leaps to the next one effortlessly as I try to cling to his coattails for the ride. (Lewis is usually considerably clearer than Dr. Thomas, though, I must admit.)

A strange thing happened as I was starting chapter six of That Hideous Strength. I read the line, “The man looked at him as if out of a dream, as if divided from him by an immense distance, but with a sort of dreamy distaste which might turn into active hatred if ever that distance were diminished.” I was suddenly absolutely convinced that I had read that exact line before, and I remembered it perfectly clearly. I read a sentence or two further, and it came to me: about four years ago I was wandering around the community college library when I stumbled across a copy of That Hideous Strength. I thought about checking it out, and I flipped through it a little, and it fell open to that page. I only read a line or two before going to the front of the book and discovering that it was third in the trilogy. I hate reading books out of order, so I put it back until I could find the first book. It’s very odd to have a vividly clear memory of something you’d entirely forgotten suddenly pop into your mind like that, and it’s odder still to remember one relatively unimportant line so strongly.

I can tell how good a book is by how many ideas occur to me in the reading of it.

Confession: I am drinking V8 Fusion straight out of the bottle. I am such a rebel.

I have learned several things today:
1. No matter how many times you try to put a Canadian 25-cent piece in a North Carolina coin laundry machine, the machine will keep spitting it out.
2. I am not particularly quick on the uptake when it comes to distinguishing between George Washington and Queen Elizabeth II.
3. Coin laundry machines are smarter than I am.

Definitely checking any quarters that I get from Walgreens in the future to determine that they are indeed quarters. I stood there, frustration increasing, feeding the same “quarter” in the dryer forever because it was my last one until some kindly woman took pity on me and pointed out that my money was from the great North. The situation was even more hilarious because I don’t think she even spoke English.

Other discoveries of a mostly less-embarrassing nature.

You seem to have stumbled upon a storytelling of ravens. Watch for falling collective nouns; you may find a wing of dragons or a charm of hummingbirds caught in your hair. Hardhats are recommended.

Follow me on Twitter

my read shelf:
Stephanie Ricker's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

A Storytelling