Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Wordle


Too amusing. Several people have been putting together these word clouds. Mine is not incredibly insightful. I use words like "like," "also," "really," and "much" a lot. Alas, I am not profound; just really bland in my modifiers...

Update: Sorry it's so blurry. I can't seem to figure that part out...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Other Side of Silence

Another little confluence: I'm not sure where this video come from, but here's the link. It asks people what book are they ashamed to not have read. (Mine was The Great Gatsby, but I finished that last week so now it's Wuthering Heights which I should finish in the next two weeks, along with Crime and Punishment. Jeez, slacker I am.) One of the people mentions Middlemarch by George Eliot. How interesting, I think, he should becoming up in my lectures but I never heard of Middlemarch. And sure enough on my dinner break, there in my queue is Eliot: Fiction and Moral Reflection. And so I learn that George Eliot is really a psuedonym for Maryann Evans. But we'll call her George Eliot anyway. Her writing is more masculine than other psuedonymous writers like Charlotte Bronte (Currer Bell). (And the lecturer proceeds to use his ultra-masculine voice and his feminine falsetto to demonstrate his point--gag me!) But Eliot/Evans herself (himself?) choose the masculine moniker to dissociate her work from the traditional "romance" of her time.

And that particular spin got me thinking about naming again. On this blog, I choose to go by my initials. I'm pretty sure most people who read this know me, but if it ever stumbles on to wider readership it feels safer. And it feels pretty professional in case this blog ever grows up into the theological blog I intended it to become. It's also a spin on my intent to publish under my first and middle initial and last name. Again it feels professional to me, but it also is distinctly asexual. Academics is still highly gender stratified and the narrower realm of Theology even more so and in my particular brand narrower still. So the ambiguity of initials allows my work to speak on the subject to which is pertains instead of the metanarrative of how women break into male-dominated fields. Or at least that's the idea. I know people get fed up with the neutralizing of pronouns and titles, but to me it's just a way to free ourselves from erroneous assumptions--the mildest of which is the academic wears tweed blazers with leather elbow patches.

Vampires

Chalk it up to weird coincidences or mild obsession, but my life has been revolving around vampires just a bit. NB: If you don't like spoilers, don't read my post. It will just upset you.

It all started with the Twilight Saga. (Twilight is a really hard word to type; try it some time.) Twilight is what fills the void after Harry Potter and follows Bella Swan as she falls in love with a vampire and befriends a werewolf. It's gooey adolescent fiction goodness. Though it causes me much consternation that Bella has no real forethought. Develop your frontal lobe! The fourth book comes out on Saturday, but I'm not sure I can justifiably list it as a household expense so my reading will come a bit later.

To fill that void, I've been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy came out my freshman year of high school and I would watch it every week while talking to my best friend on the phone--except we only talked during commercials. The kick-butt female protagonist, who also like Bella falls in love with a vampire (but at least has the common sense not to want to be a vampire), saves the world almost every episode and sacrifices her (social and literal) life to save the world.

And finally, as I was listening to my British Literature lectures, I learned that in the summer of 1816 during a holiday at Lake Geneva two classic horror motifs were created while the housebound Romantic authors challenged each other in ghost stories. The most notable was that of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein, but also Dr. Polidori created vampires. Where would I be without the shaping influence of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Sad, pathetic, unable to take on the world that will never appreciate how much I do for it. (Okay maybe a bit too much ad. lit.)

So why blog about it? Mostly to chronicle the inane trivia I learn, but also, vampires hold a seductive appeal and not just because of their thrall. Vampires never age. Bella struggles with this time and again as she continues to have birthdays while Edward does not. Buffy's classmate, Ford, seeks to escape his debilitating brain tumor by joining "the lonely ones." The vamps in Twilight are beautiful and nearly indestructable (no stakes through the heart for these guys).

And authors seek to find redemptive qualities in them. Edward's coven is committed to a vamp-version of the "vegetarian" lifestyle (no humans, but animals are okay). Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been cursed with a soul that keeps him from feeding. In a recent episode I watched, the demonic Judge threated to burn the humanity out of the vampires who acted too human, but it's that humanity which saves them from being monsters. But as Edward wonders, are these paltry acts of morality enough to save their souls from eternal damnation. Such is the question one ponders when faced with one's own short-comings and failures. Man, these are times when I'm thankful for grace...

Friday, July 25, 2008

What I'm learning

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kmtucker/2310668640/

It's hard to know exactly where you're place is and not be able to be there. I excel at learning: acquiring, analyzing and synthesizing information into significant and useful (sometimes) axioms for life. (Holy cow I just blew my point.) Anyway I'm studying for the Literature in English GRE subject test by listening to a series of lectures on Major Works of Classic British Literature. Here's a sampling of what I've learn:
  • Suriname is in South America.
  • Suriname is also the place where the first significant and respected female British author, Aphra Behn, set her major work of fiction Oroonoko.
  • Aphra Behn was buried in Westminster Abbey. The first author to be buried in Westminster was Geoffrey Chaucer.
  • Geoffrey Chaucer, as much as I would really like to believe, did not spend 6 months travelling with a knight who changed his stars like Heath Ledger did in A Knight's Tale, but he did of course write A Knight's Tale in The Canterbury Tales and is considered the father of English Literature.
  • Shakespeare was also considered a major player in English literature (no surprise), but things might have turned out differently if Kit Marlowe hadn't been killed in a tavern brawl for being a spy. (A: Who said writers were boring? and B: Actually I knew most of that from Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series.)
  • Kit Marlowe wrote Dr. Faustus who's last words were "Burn all the books!" (Aak! How scandlous!)
  • After Marlowe and Shakespeare reigned (oh did you know Kit Marlow died in 1593?), drama was pretty much squashed by religion until the Restoration (how Aphra Behn became popular) and the Restoration had a lot of bawdy, bawdy plays including a satirical work--novel, not a play--called, I kid you not, Shamela written by Henry Fielding (yes the author of Tom Jones). It was a parody of Pamela or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson.
  • Pamela was a novel, the first novel is Gulliver's Travels which is also political satire and allegory (being a Yahoo or a Hooligan is not a good thing).
I have more. I'm full of random Brit Lit trivia right now which is actually right where I'm supposed to be according to the Princeton Review. I quote: "The GRE Literature in English Subject Test is like a horrible cocktail party full of insufferable poseurs intent on name-dropping while grilling you on trivial gibberish." (I'd do full MLA/APA citation, but I don't really care, google it.) However, that doesn't sounds like a horrible cocktail party as much as a fun challenge so I guess it's good that I have to take this exam.

Though it is slightly ironic that I learned all this by listening and not reading...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bedroom Art

So my parents visited in June right before our family reunion, and as I consulted Mom about curtains (because an apartment looks less like an apartment with curtains), she said what I really needed was big graphic canvases ala Lori on Trading Spaces. These two projects are a result of that. Over the bed is a reproduction of the little throw pillow. I think it's a little bright, but overall it looks fine. Mom and I bought the canvases and paint at Hobby Lobby right before we went to the family reunion and I spent a decent part of the Saturday putting the vision together. There was a crafts table begging to be used. :-)

Then in the corner we have a reproduction of the polka-dotted ribbon in the bedspread, made a bit darker in an effort to tie in the chair. It would have helped to have the chair while I was making the color, but alas, I was at my parents at the time (part 2 a couple weeks later). We found (and used) circle stencil, actually it was from a bubble stencil. And I only did one layer and left it pretty rough for some texture and interest (despite the fact that my perfectionist was crying to make all the edges neat). Oh and laying out the circles required some really finicky math, erasing was necessary and I wish I had saved some of the color mix to go over what the eraser didn't get.

The polka-dotted canvas fits better in the room than it seems in the picture. Now I definitely need rich, brown/tan, easy to slide, light-blocking curtains. :-)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Public vs. Private

This is an "old" article, nearly six weeks old, but I haven't seen it in any of my blog reads until now (via this post which links to this post). It is the autobiographical tale of a blogger's life and her overexposure on the internet. It's sobering and seems to require navel gazing.

I love blogs. I love twitter. I love youtube. I think the internet is a wonderful and amazing. And yet for the first time in my life during and after this online class, I've wanted to be disconnected. It's been arduous to check my email everyday. I fell off the blogging bandwagon. It's not really overexposure in the way the article talks about, but it's still that crash after being immersed in such a distinct and required way. (Sort of like when your hobby becomes your job and all of a sudden its not fun any more.)

I watch my blogger friends go through it. As summer introduced a different rhythm, various people adopted blogging breaks or you know just dropped off the face of the earth. ;-) And I think that's totally allowable. Blogs like most other enforced routines (news cycles most notably) need to be broken in our every changing world. The idea that the same inspiration will be with a blogger day in and day out is blantently false. And so while I balk at the upset in my routine, I'm quite content to let these non-professionals and even professionals go silent for a while (as long as they come back!!!).

But I've watched people get burned out and get burned period by the commenters (which makes me very glad I'm not a truly substantial online presence). And it makes me reexamine my own reasons for starting a blog. And mostly it was to participate and to give back. I enjoyed reading other people's blogs so much that I thought it wasn't fair to just take in their perspective without giving mine back. However that's based on the assumption that people will care, which you, gentle reader, may debate. :-)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Memory Overload

Does anyone else get amazed by the sheer amount of memories one has. In the past hour, I've reminisced about:
  • my favorite psalmody (Psalm 141 in Evening Prayer) inspired by catching up on my bible blog,
  • the Happy/Sad tapes my brother and I used to watch, specifically the one about Ping the Duck inspired by the ducks on Norse Pond,
  • Spring weekend (which I never participated it) inspired by the lovely open air gathering space/stage NKU has, and
  • A Knight's Tale where Heath Ledger compares Jasmine to the Bible where Joshua makes the sun stand still also inspired by catching up on my bible blog, but also the second time I've thought about A Knight's Tale because I was listening to a lecture on Chaucer.
I know I'm highly observant and that my mind jumps around a lot. But since I've been watching sci/fi which tends to raise issues about memory and experience, I'm just kind of amazed that we're blessed with so many memories--even dull ones like Spring weekend (my version of Spring weekend--it's much more fun for those who participate).

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Prison Theology

http://media.graytvinc.com/images/WVLT-news-jail+bars.jpg

This is a decidedly uninformed post. I said before that the jail experience makes me uneasy. Therefore, I don't think about it much, but with the dancing Philippines prisoners, it's on my mind. But I ran across this verse in Psalm 147:6c "The LORD sets the prisoners free;" and started thinking about all the prisoner rhetoric in the Bible. Certainly the Bible, especially the Old Testament, doesn't shy away from punishment. This is the land of stoning for various reasons and offenses. I wouldn't label God as "soft on crime". And yet "the Lord sets the prisoners free."

I guess we have to ask what kind of prisoners. We could think about Joseph, falsely accused and unfairly sentenced, or Paul and Silas singing in jail and converting the prisoner guard. So theoretically we could narrow it down to the falsely accused or the political prisoner. We could think of debtors' prison as in the parable about the debtor whose great debt was forgiven, but then he threw in jail the guy who owed him substantially less.

But it seems a little shifty--like I'm nervous to think of God busting out all the prisoners in the Campbell County jail. And yeah, I would be. And then I think about "The Great Divorce" by C.S. Lewis where a man from heaven comes to talk to an associate he knew on earth on a day trip from hell. Turns out the guy who is in heaven was a murderer who repented and the guy in hell couldn't understand how that guy wasn't in hell with him (or something like that--I really don't do research for this, sorry). God does all sorts of crazy weird things that prissy pious folks (namely me) think aren't too cool. So God sets the prisoners free. Take it at face value. Maybe kinder methods of discipline are in order then. If God is willing to free them, we can at least offer dance parties.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rehabilitation Dance Party!



Watch this:

A) it's amazing; So this is a video from a prison in the Philippines. If you click through to youtube, you can check out their channel and watch other routines. And they say 8 other prisons in the Philippines have adopted this kind of "exercise program". (W00t jazzercize!)

B) it's kind of reminds me of "Bridget Jones Diary 2: The Edge of Reason" where she teaches all the girls in the Thai prison to sing "Like a Virgin" which I thought was really dumb, but this is amazing;

C) So this past Spring I was part of a Citizen's Police Academy as encouraged by my higher-ups at the Law Library and part of it was going to the jail and the work program. I'm not good in those situations. I get very jumpy and very quiet. I tend to huddle. It's a bit too much reality for my idealist nature. And this wasn't fun. Jail is not fun, even the Peace Officer who gave us the tour talked about how you develop a sort of gallows humor about it all. This makes jail look happier (for what it's worth). It makes it seem hopeful. I know jail is supposed to be punishment, but it takes a pretty grim person to insist that it must be grim and dour 24/7. I don't know exactly how rehabilitating choreographed dance routines are (unity, community building--yes, but coping with the real world?), but it's amazing to watch.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bloggity blog.

Let's do a list, shall we?
  • For years, I've had friends tell me I should watch Doctor Who, but now thanks to some direction and youtube, I've started watching. I caught up with series 4 (it's series across the pond evidently), and am now backtracking--series 1-2 complete and halfway through series 3. I'm now conversant in all Rose/Donna/Martha debates.
  • Speaking of debates, I've also begun to read the Twilight series and am now rather conversant in the Jacob/Edward debate. I still have Eclipse to go so things could change, but currently I'm still favoring Edward, though Bella is not winning points in my book.
  • Trip across the Midwest went well. Lovely visits with the fam: hillbilly golf with the g-rents, sun, fun, and puppy dogs with my fabulous aunt and uncle in Tulsa, and lots of good homey-ness with my rents. And to top it all off, I got to hang out with Hannahlysis. Cool beans.
  • I'm about three clicks away from being registered for classes this fall at UC. It looks like Modern British Fiction and Novel and Society in the US will be my poison. That also means I'm about 5 clicks away from being registered for an HUC class through UC, but that takes more time. Full-time student life, here I come!
  • My car's dying. We need to get a second opinion, but it poses a major first of grown-up life: car shopping.
  • I have Bedroom Art to complement the Bathroom Art. I'll pose pics soon.
  • We have an HD receiver and now have more public tv stations than one knows what to do with, but I've been watching youtube so...
  • I've officially become a "gardener" with two grape tomato plants and a spider plant. They even survived vacation so that wonderful.
  • Oh and this one's going to impress everyone: I can give you the lineage of the House of Atreus. House of Atreus? Yes, you know, the last of which were major players in the Trojan War. When I wasn't delving in my own pursuits on the car rides, we listened to a lecture series on the Greek Tragedians. Oh yes! It was awesome.
Okey doke. That's all for now. I'm sure I'll expound at a later date on these and other topics.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Silence

Hey blog readers. (I know there are some!)

So it's been about a week since my last post and I feel a need to at least explain my absence.
  1. My class is wrapping up. Reading assignments are done and the students are working on their major book projects which means that in the mean time I get to catch up on all the assignments I gave. (Why did I give them so much to do?)
  2. We went to a family reunion over the weekend. It was interesting--93 of my closest great-aunts and uncles, 1st cousins once removed, second cousins, and one second cousin once removed. Good for people-watching and family dynamics. INCREDIBLY EXHAUSTING for this introvert.
  3. Work, work, work. Both my supervisor and I are going to be out of the office for the next 10 days (mine was planned first and she had to have foot surgery). So the past three days were spent forecasting everything people could need in Circulation services and writing out how to handle it.
Now I'm on vacation and at least trying to spend it relaxing and not online (since all my class work is online), but if I really miss blogging I'll pop on. :-)