Great White Snark: July 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

"Be not afeared, the Isle is full of noises."

So, I thought I should share my thoughts about the Olympic opening ceremony. 

Actually, I think I feel about it the way the Queen looks. 
(Btw, I wish everyone would back off about her looking so pissed off. Let's be real. She had been up since the crack of dawn meeting foreign dignitaries, attending luncheons and giving speeches all day. Then it's late at night, and she's EIGHTY FREAKING SIX. I'm 23 and that's how I look at 10 at night. So cut her some slack.)

I just expected it to be more...traditional, I guess. I would've loved to see a Scottish Tattoo or some Irish step-dancing (because let's be real: mass amounts of people synchronized in tap shoes with no arm movements is totally mesemerizing)--things that are unique to the U.K. Or even if they'd done a history of sport in the U.K., starting with the Celts riding horses in blue paint, then moving on to the Scottish games (caber tossing, anyone?), and knights and archery and jousting, and Renaissance dance (and Regency dance because let's face it, that Austen stuff is way sexier than today's dancing), and traditional English fox hunting and then ending with football/soccer and the Olympics.

OR they could've gone literary, starting with Beowulf and Chaucer, moving on to Shakespeare (um, duh?), Jonathan Swift, then Dickens, Austen, Carroll, Wilde, and of course, ending with Gaiman and Rowling. Although, I was pleased that they mentioned Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and Mary Poppins. And actually HAD J.K. Rowling there to read from Peter Pan. Swoon!

ALSO: while I am thrilled that there was basically a worldwide sing-a-long for "Hey Jude" (I might actually have died if I'd been present), I'd like to point out that England produced a LOT of other musicians. I mean, Ringo is still out there! It would've been so cool to have a British rock medley, and have Ozzy, Bowie, Siouxsie, whoever's left of the Sex Pistols or the Ramones, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney, and anybody else who cares to join in do a joint concert. Would've been SO BADASS. 

Not to mention British actors, but we just won't even go there.

I did like the Industrial Revolution bit, however, it was a little theatrical for me.

I don't know. The whole show just felt too artistic for me. It felt like...if Les Miserables and Blue Man Group had a lovechild, it would've been the London Opening Ceremonies. I don't know. If that had been an American Opening Ceremony, I would've been like, "Oh, of course." But there are so many things that are unique to the history and culture of the U.K., and I guess I just wanted to see more of that. 

The lines Kenneth Branagh read from "The Tempest" fit perfectly, so A+ on that, England!

So anyway, that's how it would've gone down if I'd been in charge. Which obviously, I was not.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Under the sea...

Hah, so, the other day I found something and I wanted to share because it's just so funny and terrible and indicative of who I am as a person.

I love sea animals. Sea mammals in particular--whales, dolphins, seals, walruses, narwhals, and manatees, to be specific.
Well when I was a wee lass, in first grade, our teacher taught us about manatees. As a class, we adopted a manatee from Blue Springs then took a field trip to go see him (just for kicks, his name was Howie, and he is still there. I now feel like I need to go visit him.). ANYWAY, as part of this whole lesson on sea cows, we had to sculpt one out of clay and make a diorama, like out of a shoe box or whatever.

My Mom heard that we had to do some kind of artistic project and immediately panicked, and rightly so. Because my artistic skills rival that of a four year old who was actually born with two left hands. So she bought play-doh and we practiced. And in her words, "The first one looked like a poop. So I said, 'No, Mary, try again.' So we smashed it and I showed you how to pinch out a flat tail and flippers." Do you want to see the end result?

That's a retorical question. The brilliance of blogging is that your readers are a captive audience. YOU HAVE TO SEE THE END RESULT!

LOL, omg, so I obviously thought that since I had practiced, I was the Michelangelo of Model Magic and made not one, but TWO manatees. I think this is what I was going for:


Also, I'm so proud of this little morbid detail. We discussed in class how manatees were endangered because of motor boats hitting them and injuring them. So, naturally, I glommed onto that disgusting bit of imagery and added it to my sculpture. 
It's also missing a flipper and its tail has been glued back on, but that's just due to it being OLD not because of my 6 year old creativity.

Also, I just wanted to show you its horrifyingly skull-like face. Wtf, little self. 

And, this is the really insane part: I WON something for this! I got second place, I think, at the school's art fair. I'm not sure what that says about the school's art judging system, but it's probably not good. 

Anyway, that's where my love of manatees started. Because I know you were all BURNING with curiosity. ;)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hunt a hare and turn her down the rocky road all the way to Dublin...

I just need to share this because it's so funny. 

So, if you know me, you know that Conan O'Brien is my soulmate and he just doesn't know it yet. 
You may also know that I am Irish. 
And if you've known me for the amount of time that may qualify as "forever," you know that I used to do competitive Irish dancing back in the day. 

Oh, yep, there it is. The ONLY reason I'm posting this is as proof that I did actually do this at one point. I'm sure better pics exist, I just don't know where. I really enjoyed it, but I quit to do band instead. I'm not sure if I regret that decision or not. My cousins still do it and they're AWESOMELY good--like, they've competed internationally for world titles. 

ANYWAY, then I see that Conan did this, and my life was that much closer to being complete:

I wish I could get kicked in the face by Conan O'Brien. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I promised you (like, two lifetimes ago) a book review on this book. First of all, can we just talk about how delightfully eccentric this title is? It's up there with Ella Minnow Pea. The title is important. I always envy people who can title things well, because it's one of my weakest points in writing. Such perfection! 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society focuses on young writer, Juliet Ashton, as she exits her post as a satirical WWII columnist and attempts, along with European society at large, to move on with her life post-war. One day, Juliet receives a letter from Guernsey resident (and member of the Literary Society) Dawsey Adams, a man who has come into possession of a book that used to belong to her via used bookstore. He found her name and address in the booksleeve and decided to write to her to discuss the book. Thus began Juliet's correspondence with the island of Guernsey. The book is entirely epistolary (which I love! Dracula anyone?) and focuses on Juliet's letters to and from the residents of Guernsey as she tries, unhappily, to continue her life as an author in London. Her friendship blossoms and deepens with the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society until she feels that she has to go visit them. Her time on the island changes her life forever, and gives her the long sought-after topic of her next book. 

This book is so...divine. I haven't enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed this one in a LONG time. It's all about people who love books. There's something so intrinsically important about the written word, and the printed word, and this book captures that love. The characters are engrossing. I couldn't stop thinking about them! I found myself wishing they were real, and that I could take a boat to Guernsey and join them in their book discussions and general shenanigans. The story is constructed beautifully, too. There's not a single bit that's in there that shouldn't be, and meaning would be lost if anything was removed. Every word is perfectly placed, like pieces of a puzzle, and they come together to form something absolutely breathtaking. Though it deals with gritty topics like Nazi occupation and concentration camps, it maintains a loving, pleasant feel about it.

I wanted to share a couple of quotes. How could I not? 

“That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.” 

“Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life.”  

“I love seeing the bookshops and meeting the booksellers-- booksellers really are a special breed. No one in their right mind would take up clerking in a bookstore for the salary, and no one in his right mind would want to own one-- the margin of profit is too small. So, it has to be a love of readers and reading that makes them do it-- along with first dibs on the new books.” 

“Thinking to comfort me, they said, "Life goes on." What nonsense, I thought, of course it doesn't. It's death that goes on; Ian is dead now and will be dead tomorrow and the next year and forever. There is no end to that, but perhaps there will be an end to the sorrow of it.” 

“I don't want to be married just to be married. I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with.”  

“After all, what's good enough for Austen ought to be good enough for anyone.”  

Gosh, I could quote the whole book here. Any book with quotes like that has to be worth reading, right? This is one of those books whose spine will be creased, and the pages well-worn with re-readings. I cannot recommend it highly enough. To everyone. ALL THE TIME.

In short: I laughed, I cried. It was perfect.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Overdue book review(s).

I've read a couple of books lately and wanted to share my thoughts with you. 
The first one I read was The Blind Contessa's New Machine. It's an elaboration of historical fact turned into beautifully written historical fiction. The gist of the story is this: the young Contessa, Carolina, is engaged to be married to the popular, handsome, and wealthy Pietro. She knows she is going blind, but when she voices her concerns to her family, they dismiss her. The only one who believes Carolina is her longtime friend, the eccentric, inventive Turri, who has been her intellectual companion since childhood. Turri, being older, has already been married for years but continues his friendship with Carolina. Carolina marries Pietro and does indeed go blind. She continues to secretly meet with Turri despite the cultural taboo of two married people being friends. He goes on to invent the earliest version of the typewriter so they can continue to correspond despite her blindness.

The book is based on fact, as quoted by the author: "Pellegrino Turri did invent the world's first typewriter for Carolina Fantoni in 1808. (In fact, many early typewriters were conceived of as writing aids for the blind). The two of them did carry on a correspondence while married to other people." It's an interesting basis for a story, but it's Wallace's fanciful and intricate prose that makes this a story worth reading. The way she weaves words together and tells the story of an ever-darkening world (until the reader, along with Carolina, is plunged into complete darkness) is beautiful and unforgettable. If I ever had to teach a class on prose, I'd definitely put this on the reading list. 

Do I recommend it? Only if you're into more "artsy" literature, as it's not a typical narrative. There are no chapters, and very little dialogue. Also, if you dislike historical novels then forget it. But overall, yes, it's a really lovely book and I couldn't put it down once I started (finished it in a night). 

My only gripe was with the ending. The entire thing felt extremely anticlimactic. There's a beautiful build-up, and then the climax and falling action happens in about 3 pages. I wish there'd been more. 
But I guess it's better to be left wanting more than wishing there'd been less.

The next book I want to review is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but I have SO many thoughts on it that I think I'll do a separate post. Otherwise this'll just go on entirely too long. :)