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I’m always pleasant surprised when it turns out there’s a word or phrase already in existence for something like this that would normally take far too long to describe with the typical set of vocabulary words.

Check out The Saga of the Lemon Poppyseed Cake, a hilarious blogpost by friend Anne Elisabeth Stengl, who also just so happens to be a published fantasy writer. Yeah, my friends really ARE that cool.

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Had the loveliest of weeks! I have truly excellent friends.

Things I have learned lately:
Arkansas Black apples are sadly not as delicious as one might think.
One can easily procure seven books for $1 at The Reader’s Corner in Raleigh. Go check it out.
It is indeed possible to climb the old library at Campbell University. (At last, I’ve done it!)
Cell phones in my possession have a relatively short lifespan.
Always call to check the times of movies before dragging seven people to go see one.
North Hills is a labyrinth probably designed by the devil.
Whipped cream lasts a surprisingly long time.
Any movie, no matter how horrible, is hilarious when watched with RiffTrax.

In spite of spending scads of time with good friends, I also had time to go see a movie (Inception, my second viewing; I’ve been mulling over it a lot, so much so that I may post a review of it here) by myself, which was a really fun experience. I’ve never actually done that before. It’s a fascinating opportunity to people watch. I went to a concert a few months ago by myself and found it to be equally intriguing. I notice a lot more when I’m on my own.

People are good at stuff!
Cat versus mouse.

You’ve seen the film Watership Down… So morbid, I love it!
Jupiter sounds (so strange!)

Save the Words, stolen from Sam.
Pretty true.

I’ve been terribly bipolar in my reading habits lately. Usually I only work on one book at a time, but right now I’m juggling quite a handful. I finished The Wind’s Twelve Quarters, a book of short stories by Ursula K. LeGuin, and it was quite lovely. Behold, an excerpt (even better in context) from one of the tales:

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil is interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe a happy man, nor make a celebration of joy.”

I’m also somewhat working on The Wing-and-Wing by James Fenimore Cooper, the Aeneid by Virgil (translated, obviously), and Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. I also have an intriguing book called On Basilisk Station by David Weber waiting for me, which is supposedly space opera patterned after Lord Nelson and Horatio Hornblower. Can’t lose there, I should think.

I finally decided that the time had probably come to retire my decade-old, much-taped, much-abused quiver, so I was browsing the internet for a suitable replacement. Holy cow, you guys. I’ve fallen in love. Behold, the perfect quiver. Just LOOK at that thing. Handmade, high-quality leather, sheep shearling to quiet arrow rattle, rave reviews from a host of happy archers, and it’s put out by Three Rivers Archery, the best in the business. I’m practically drooling. Alas, the price bloody ridiculous, but I guess that’s to be expected for the best quiver on the PLANET. At first I thought, “Oh, no way, that’s absurd,” but after drooling over it for several days, it’s becoming…less absurd. Which means I need to walk away NOW. Sigh.

“Take Me Out” by Atomic Tom, live on the NYC subway. Also the very first time I ever thought smartphones were cool.
Listen to “Love Astronaut” by Murder Mystery, and it will be stuck in your head for days.

Smell like a monster, already plastered all over the internet.
Intriguing article on male-female friendships, which I found rather interesting, as someone whose best friends have always included guys.
The Animal Print Shop. I would absolutely put that one of the baby porcupine on my wall.

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy, or Tim Burton Has a Screw Loose, Possibly Two.
20 Awesomely Untranslatable Words. Lovely! Swiped from Danielle.

I read The Girl Aviators and the Phantom Airship by Margaret Burnham, which I found at the flea market a few weeks ago for a mere $1. It was a rather cute young adult novel, nothing special to write home about, except that it was written in 1911, just eight years after the Wright brothers made the first successful airplane flight. So in its way, the book is a trailblazer; a pack of kids build their own airplane and fly it around, in the process solving crimes and using all sorts of adorable pre-War slang. Pretty cool for a book based on brand-new technology.

I finally read The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope. There’s a story behind that one. From 3 to 10 years of age, I went to the same library almost every day. I knew the place better than my own bedroom, and I had all kinds of literary landmarks that I used to navigate. (Numbers on the spines? Pshaw. My way was a lot more fun.) The Prisoner of Zenda was one of my landmarks, but I never read it because…I don’t know why, actually. I think it looked boring. But I would pass it everyday, and it was familiar and rather comforting to always see it on the same place on the shelf. I remember Onion John by Joseph Krumgold was another of my landmarks, and I never checked that out out either because I thought it would be dull. But I bet I could still walk straight to it in the Bryan, Ohio, library. Anyway, I rather enjoyed Zenda after all these years, and it wasn’t a bit boring, so that just goes to show how ignorant I was as a child. 😛

Oh, and I did read The Iceberg Hermit, and while not quite as enthralling to me now as it was to my 8-year-old self, it was still pretty darned exciting. I didn’t remember that it was based on a true story, which makes it even more incredible. The kid killed two polar bears (after being mauled by one) and survived for seven years in the Arctic. Pretty nuts. At one point he falls in with some Eskimos (descendants of Vikings, the story claims, though that part is rather unsubstantiated), and the story casually mentions that one time while out on a hunting trip, the party had to eat all of their dogs, their sled (which was made of whalebone), and most of their (animal skin) clothes. I’ll have to keep that in mind, if I’m ever starving and have a leather jacket handy. Eesh.

I think I should add Danish to the list of languages to learn in my lifetime. I recently discovered that the Danish word ordekvilibrist means “word equilibrist, master of words,” and I may have fallen in love. Equilibrist is a pretty fantastic word all on its own, actually.

Have you ever heard of pygmy jerboas? Neither had I, but if there’s anything that tap dances on the line between cute and creepy, it’s this thing. As I watched the video, I realized I was getting more and more tense, expecting it to leap at the camera, unsheath a formidable set of fangs, and disembowel the cameraman at any moment. If I were an alien race bent on the conquest of Earth, I would genetically engineer packs of these guys, ship them down to the planet, wait until every household fell under their oddly cute spell, and then, when the time was right…order my army of pygmy jerboas to ATTACK! (Duh, aliens look like rabbits. Where have you been?)

Speaking of things I’ve never heard of, check out the mole cricket. It takes very little imagination to see one of these things growing to a tremendous size and eating Manhattan. I consider myself to be a fairly tough chick, but if I woke up one morning and saw this face looking at me, I would scream.

If murdered… Where, in the event of your untimely demise, you can leave instructions for your loved ones. “If murdered, please teach my son fencing and then legally change his name to Inigo Montoya.”

I was recently introduced to the concept of the flash mob, which is, so far as I can tell, when a group of people plan to meet in a public place and do something weird all together. Then I realized that was basically Improv Everywhere, so I was familiar with the concept after all, just not the term. Anyway, these things are fabulous! Do these happen in Raleigh? Can we *make* them happen in Raleigh?
Food Revolution flash mob.
Sound of Music in Antwerp.
Eurovision 2010 flash mob.
Improv Everywhere’s Human Mirror.

Martin Firrell’s sci fi project. This is why I love science fiction. Magnificent idea. Best ones are by Nathan Fillion and Ben Browder.
I really didn’t get why the whole 3D thing was suddenly cool. And I still don’t. But, this is undeniably brilliant.
LOOK AT ME!

It occurred to me the other day that there is no smell in the world that is comparable to that of filing fingernails. There is no previous referent! It’s such an odd, odd smell. (Why yes, I do think about these things.)

Incredible paper castle.
I don’t know how I feel about this. On the one hand, the fan in me gets all excited, but then the rest of me says that this can’t be anything except truly horrid.
Somehow I managed to live 22 years of my life without hearing about the Scottish Wildcat, apparently known for being untameable, even when reared in captivity. AWESOME.
Aldous Huxley vs. George Orwell. You should be scared.
I refound this link when introducing a friend to Kafka. It’s part of the introduction of a movie called The Trial, narrated by the inimitable Orson Welles, and it’s from a short story of by Franz Kafka called “Before the Law.”

Bookwise, finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (heavenly!) and read Chosen by a Horse by Susan Richards, which was a sodden, sentimental, dreary, shallow thing which somehow became a bestseller. Then again, I suppose those adjectives could be applied to many bestsellers. Ugh. My coworkers are very sweet and often lend me books. Sometimes, they’re fantastic. Other times…less so. Yet I always feel compelled to read them all the way through! Why, why?? After that I started Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini. You may recall the Errol Flynn movie by the same name. Turns out the movie, which I adored when I first saw it, is based on this book! It’s rollicking good seagoing fun, and I’m enjoying it immensely. Horatio Hornblower still wins at sea stories, but then C.S. Forester is the very last word on maritime adventures, so it’s only fair he should reign unchallenged in the genre.

I learned something interesting the other day. The O in Irish names (O’Malley, O’Brien, etc.) is an Anglicization of “ua”, meaning grandson in Irish Gaelic. I find that fascinating.

There’s a woman at work who calls me Shug (Sug?). I think that’s short for sugar, but I’m too afraid to ask, just in case it’s not, in which case I’d rather not know…

Everyone, stop whatever it is that you are doing. Go out and beg, borrow, or steal a book entitled The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. I thought the title sounded somewhat like what a middle-aged housewife would read (no offense to middle-aged housewives!), all cliche and sap, BUT this is very very untrue. It is the most glorious book I have read this year, and I’m not sure when I’ve ever fallen in love with a book so quickly. READ IT NOW.

I read Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss today, and it was also delightful! I highly recommend it to any English majors, lovers of the English language, and grammarians who may be reading this blog. (And if you are, why on earth haven’t you introduced yourself yet?) The book is all about the love of properly used punctuation. As an illustration, look at how much punctuation matters in the following two letters:

Dear Jack,
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours?
Jill

Dear Jack,
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men I yearn! For you I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
Yours,
Jill

Identical words in identical order, but what a difference punctuation makes! This book has revitalized my love of those lovely dots and dashes, I must say. I’m not terribly careful of my grammar on here, I’ve realized. Probably because I type my entries in a hurry and don’t bother proofreading. More shame to me!

I confess, The Portrait of a Lady was not enthralling. I enjoyed it more towards the end, but I just could not get inside James’ world. I loved The Turn of the Screw when I read it, so I don’t really understand myself. Maybe I’ll try some more of his works someday and see if Lady was just a fluke. After that, I read Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, which had some very nice lines but was overall rather too sappy. I can only handle that sort of thing in very small doses.

I just finished Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse yesterday, a book that had originally been on our reading list for Love and Death last semester. I’m sorry now that we didn’t read it for class after all because I would have loved to have discussed it as a group! I’m still sorting out what I think of it (I sort of wolfed it down, if you’ll pardon the pun, and my thoughts aren’t quite coherent yet), but I thought it was fascinating. Among other ideas, it occurred to me that this reminded me a lot of the fairy tales class. Just as in Little Red Riding Hood the wolf is the Other, the outcast who has no place in society, Steppenwolf is unable to live in the society to which he was born; in Little Red, this makes the wolf a danger to be warned against. Steppenwolf is a danger to society because he is a non-participant, even an aggressor, against that which society is based, yet he finds himself inexplicably drawn to the very thing that he hates. He will always be unhappy because of this. I also found one of the questions that he and Hermine discussed terrifying in an intriguing way: is it only now that man feels this way, caught between two ways of life and two eras? Or has man always felt this way, regardless of the time period in which he lived? That question in particular would have been great fun to wrestle with in class. Gagh, I miss school already.

It is still my never-ending delight to have this magnificent inner world of books and questions and ideas and deep thoughts in my head at the same time that I’m answering phones. Every time I pick up the phone and help someone with a mundane, usually-inane request, I smile a tiny smile because no one suspects the wonders in my head. I love secrets (the good ones like this, that is). I love the not-telling of them. Except now I’ve told you, of course, but that doesn’t really count, since my thoughts are still my own. You only know that I think them. Shh…

Whoaho, I got a new layout for the first time in, oh, 3.5 years? Poor neglected LJ.

There’s a fox in our neighborhood, and it keeps hanging about our yard. It’s very bold, just wanders around the yard and comes and goes as he (she?) pleases. The other day it ran through with a kit following it, very unconcernedly. They’re beautiful animals, but Mom’s convinced we’re all going to get rabies by osmosis or something and die horrible twitching deaths. I had a dream where she made friends with it and was petting it while we all watched dubiously. “What about rabies?” “Oh nonsense, it’s fine.” Then again, there were also giant worms the size of anacondas in that dream, so reality’s hold was pretty tenuous. I find I dream about giant worms when I’m stressed sometimes. What in the world does that mean? Wait, don’t tell me.

At first I thought I’d love to live here, but on further consideration, I think I might go a little insane after a while. I do love the woodwork, though.
My Milk Toof, or Some People Have Too Much Time. Then again, I’m not one to talk.
English has one million words! Exciting stuff, guys.
Speaking of words, it turns out that pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanocon is not a real word after all. You may all mourn for a moment.
Cocaine frozen in sharks. I guess you have to admire their creativity, at least.
“Stoned wallabies are responsible for crop circles” is one of those headlines that makes you question your sanity, just for a minute.
Happy Birthday, Alex! I have absolutely no idea who Alex is, but I find this very amusing.
The Hero Proposition. If done well, this could be one of the most important societal movements that I’ve heard of lately. It’s worth watching each section.

I think maybe I should have a separate section for music links. There always seem to be rather a lot of them. So, look! Or rather, listen, or rather both.
I love Regina Spektor. And so should you. Check out “Eet”.
Soul Sloshing by Venus Hum. Am unsure as to the purpose of the folks in underwear, but otherwise a fabulous video.
Soy tu aire. Lovely!
Sunlight by Reilly. Not usually a fan of Christian music, but this pretty great.

Books! I have been reading them. I finished War and Peace in about 2.5 weeks, which is a hugely long time for me, but…it’s War and Peace. Even once I got a feel for it (took around 300 or 400 pages for that), it was pretty rambling at times. The thing is, it’s not really a novel, or a history text, or a biography, but it’s all three (which is probably why it’s so massive). You can tell that Tolstoy was trying to make sense of all of these huge historical events in which he participated. He switches from the third person when he’s describing battles he himself fought in; suddenly it’s “the enemy attacked our left flank around noon”. I think he was almost too close to his subject matter. At the same time, it reads like a history textbook at times. I found a lot of Tolstoy’s concepts thought-provoking, but I had to wade through hundreds of pages to get to them. Overall, I’m glad I read it and I enjoyed parts of it, but I wouldn’t read it again, I don’t think.

I had meant to read something light after that, but a friend gave me a copy of Night by Elie Wiesel, so I read that instead (which is very certainly not light). It’s the story of Wiesel’s time in the concentration camps during WWII, and it’s not easy to read, but a book that I think everyone should read. Then I read Quicker than the Eye by Ray Bradbury, which was every bit as exquisite as every other Bradbury book I’ve read. I also read Grendel by John Gardner, which is supposed to be Beowulf from Grendel’s point of view, but which is mainly just a frame for nihilistic angst. Interesting, though. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. Then I read Empire by Orson Scott Card, which I had picked up not knowing anything about it other than that it was by Card, so I figured it would be good. The premise was rather fascinating: another civil war, this time divided more or less along party lines, exploring the animosities between the two political parties and how easily these differences could explode into open conflict if we’re not careful. Interesting take on things, at any rate.

Lot of frustrating things happening around here the past day or two. The internet is such a wonderful little escapist realm, I must say…

The word of the day is phantasmagoria! ‘Tis good.

Oh oh, this is news. I’d always kind of wondered if C.S. Lewis took the name Narnia from Tolkien, because as everyone knows, the word “narn” means tale, story, or narrative in Sindarin Elvish. And I just came across a Wikipedia article saying that it’s entirely possible he did indeed get it from Tolkien, or maybe even vice versa. I always feel somewhat vindicated when my theories are somewhat…vindicated. Hmm. Well, it seemed cool a minute ago.

Well, school is now happily out, and I am contemplating much fun summerness. Although, there may be a bit of a snag with the Staples job, alas. Tomorrow I go in to see what’s going on.

I’m STILL reading The Iliad. It’s kind of slow going. Every now and then there’s a really good line, and I begin to suspect that it is, in fact, awesome, but then it goes back to endless chronicles of who killed the son of who, or how many ox-hides thick somebody’s fancy shield is. That’s all very well, but 260 pages of it gets a bit old. Achilles has been sulking in his tent for the past previously mentioned 260 pages, only emerging periodically to stick his head out and pout more about why he’s not fighting. If Troy had actually stuck to the book, Brad Pitt would’ve gotten about 4 minutes of screen time.

On a completely unrelated topic, word has it that there will be an 11th Star Trek movie in 2008. Some say it will be a prequel set even earlier than the Enterprise series, but the most substantiated theory seems to be that it will be about Kirk and Spock’s academcy days and first mission. BUT, you say, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy are in their 70s. What will they do? Recast, that’s what. I don’t know if I can get my brain around the blasphemy. On the upside, J.J. Abrams of LOST fame will be directing, which might be good, and he just recently hemmed and hawed and backed away from the whole recasting thing, so maybe it won’t be so bad. Don’t let me down, JJ, or there’ll be blood!

PS. Apparently I wrote this like 4 days ago, and never posted it.

I just heard my mother say, “I need to buy some manly thank-you-note cards.” I think it was in the context of Ed needing to send a thank-you note to someone, but still. *shakes head*

Shopping is highly overrated, and that’s all I’m saying on the subject.

Speaking of dreams, although I don’t think I was, when I was working at the deli I would have these annoying work-related dreams. Oftentimes VERY prosaic, like in my dream I suddenly realized the customer wanted 2 pounds of shaved turkey and not 3, which is of course A Disaster. But now, especially lately, I have school-related dreams. Only they’re not stress-filled nightmares about failing tests or forgetting to do homework; no, no, nothing so mundane. They’re always about part of the group and some crazy-fun or crazy-scary or crazy-cool adventures! And that’s really so, so much better than shaved turkey. What happens when I start work at Staples? Will I dream of copier ink?? Ghastly.

It’s the Days of Unleavened Bread! And I am currently munching on, you guessed it, unleavened bread! Mom makes the bestest unleavened bread ever, ’tis wonderful. We had the Night To Be Much Observed at the Wulfs’ house this year, and boy howdy can those folks cook. A wonderful time was had by all, as always! I am thoroughly enjoying my break thus far.

I don’t think I brought enough reading material home. I know, this is catastrophic, just take deep breaths and calm down… I finished Mariel of Redwall on Wednesday, read all of Lost in Space on Thursday, and started The Iliad today because that was about all I had. Can’t go wrong with ancient epics anyway.

Seeing Dark Kingdom the other day has re-sparked my interest in the Norse sagas, especially the Volsung saga. I need to reread some of those. The movie itself was good (albeit with a few icky bits) and stuck to the story more or less, which was cool. Plus, the armor! And the swords! And the braids! And the funeral ship burning, and the torqs, and the axes, and the runes, and hello, Brunnhild = awesome. I thought it was funny that they advertised the show as being the precursor to LotR and Narnia and stuff. Tolkien loved the Norse mythology, but when someone asked if he got his ideas from them he said (of his ring and the Ring of the Niebelungs), “They are both round, and there the resemblance ceased.”

I saw the word “hellshine” in a book yesterday, and I think I shall use it one day.

Now go to bed! I shall as well.

So much has been going on, where to begin?? Oh, I know. I found out the other day whilst reading Paradise Lost that the word pandemonium is actually a word Milton made up! It means “all demons” in the sense that pantheon means “all the gods”. Isn’t that cool? …well, I thought so.

Last night there was a shindig Campbell put on, and I got some neat videos! Behold.
At the spring formal. Picking on random people.
Donald DANCES.
The Guys dance the can-can. Absolutely priceless. On a puzzling note, Sarah’s and my voices sound nearly identical when we’re filming, it’s hard to tell who has the camera.
After the formal, wandering about.
Frolicking at Faith’s house. I was completely unaware I was being filmed. Thanks, Sarah. Thanks a lot. (kidding)

And so, in conclusion, a good time was had by all. Sarah has posted a gazillion pictures of the event on facebook.

ALSO. Last weekend, we were going to go camping at my house, only it was 33 degrees and drizzly at night, so we slept in the house. But, it was still a blast, and all total over 600 pictures were taken, along with lots and lots and LOTS of video. More of this later. I’m experimenting with myspace to see if I can ditch Putfile as my video hoster because it does a rather poor job of it, so it might be a little while.

School is a madhouse. A zoo. A loony bin. BUT I WILL SURVIVE. *is drowned in a deluge of papers*

The word welkin means sky in archaic English! I love it. Ok, I need some dinner.

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.

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