Sunday, August 22, 2010

Brothers Karamazov Ceilidh - Part II

100 bottles of Vodka on the wall, 100 bottles of Vodka.  Take one down, pass it around and....Ceilidh!!  It's the Brothers Karamzov Readalong Part II!  This post focuses on Part II of Brothers Karamazov--pages 162-324 of my edition.  There aren't really any spoilers yet, so no need to cover those eyes.

So not only is Jill shooting daggers at me with her eyes, but now Jenners is too.  Any others??

What’s going on so far (from what I can tell):

Part II started off much more promising as much of the religious debate was put to the side in the beginning.  The love triangle polygon gets more complicated when Aloysha leaves the monastery to find his brothers and encounters Ivan with Katerina (Dmitri's fiancĂ©e).  Aloysha also meets Lise, who at the end of Part I has written him a letter confessing her love.  She at first denies the letter was true but then agrees and the two form a engagement.  Ivan leaves town for Moscow, but before he does so he and Aloysha debate religion (oh there it is!).  The book ends with a lengthy detail of the beliefs of Aloysha's mentor, Zosima, an aged monk who is dying. 

Thoughts so far (from what I can decide):

What I'm most excited about?  That this section is over and now I can pick something else up for a few weeks.  Part II started off with promise but it dove downhill quickly when Ivan started in his rants about God and then the 40 page narrative of Zosima (and you guessed it...God) at the end of the section. 

Bonus is that I think I mostly got what was going on this time--although I will admit to doing a tad bit of skimming through the chapters with zero dialogue.  Sorry Dostoevsky!  Victor Hugo is wordy as well but at least his writing makes sense to me.

I have the overwhelming feeling that I need to read up on Dostoevsky to get a grasp on his own personal beliefs.  There is so much conflict between what is espoused by the characters--mostly from Ivan's Grand Inquisitor speech and then the section on Zosima.  Ivan cannot accept the world that God has created because of all the suffering but Zosima's section in many ways takes Ivan's beliefs and turns them on their head.  I would have preferred to see the debates about God in dialogue rather than lengthy diatribes in different chapters.  Would make it easier for Trish to understand!

One thing that really strikes me about this book so far is the structure--the way the story plays out feels more like a play to me than a novel with a plot.  I'm not sure I can describe this in a sensical way, but the two main forms of [plot] movement in the book come from dialogue between characters and lengthy soliloquies or other speeches. We don't get to hear a lot of the inner thoughts of the characters--mostly only what is expressed outloud.  This gives the book a type of choppy feel that makes it tough to get into.  I haven't read many Russian authors, but I can't help wonder if this type of structure is Russian?
Some notable quotes (mostly about debauchery--some about religion):

"I want to live in my wickedness to the very end.  Wickedness is sweet: everyone denounces it, but everyone lives in it, only they all do it on the sly and I do it openly" (Fyodor, 173)

"And Mitka (Dmitri) I'll squash like a cockroach.  I squash black cockroaches at night with my slipper: they make a little pop when you step on them.  and your Mitka will makes a little pop, too.  Your Mitka, because you love him" (Fyodor, 175).

"And the more he insults you, the more you love him.  That is your strain.  You precisely love him as he is, you love him insulting you.  If he reformed, you would drop him at once and stop loving him altogether.  But you need him in order to continually contemplate your high deed of faithfulness, and to reproach him for his unfaithfulness" (Ivan to Katerina regarding Dmitri, 192).

" Russia, drunks are our kindest people.  Our kindest people are also the most drunk" (206).

"And man has, indeed invented God.  And the strange thing, the wonder would not be that God really exists, the wonder is that such a notion-the notion of the necessity of God-could creep into the head of such a wild and wicked animal as man-so holy, so moving, so wise a notion, which does man such great honor..." (Ivan, 234).

"Whoever does not believe in God will not believe in the people of God.  But he who believes in the people of God will also see their holiness, even if he did not believe in it at all before.  Only the people and their future spiritual power will convert our atheists, who have severed themselves from their own land. And what is the word of Christ without an example?  The people will perish without the word of God, for their souls thirst for his word and every beautiful perception" (Zosima, 294).

Finally, I found this picture on Wikipedia of Dosteovsky's notes for one of the chapters.  Do you feel my pain now?  :)

Pop by Fizzy Thoughts if you're interested in joining us!  There's still a little over a month before we come to the end.  Misery loves company, right? 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

[Ir]Rational Fears: Arachnophobe to the Extreme

The other day Scott and I were on the boat when a big pocket of dirt fell from the sails. We've been finding a lot of wasps' nests lately, so I had assumed it was the wasps and their home plummeting to certain death. I was behind the wheel so I asked him what the clump was. I got a "Dunno, looks like a bunch of little spiders." Trish: "Really?? Let me come look." Scott: "No, you better not." For once in my life, I was satisfied with Scott’s response and didn’t allow my curiosity to get the better of me just yet.

Let me back up a little bit. I'm scared of spiders. No wait, terrified. Maybe even petrified. There is nothing I've encountered that bothers me more than those little eight legged, eight-eyed things. I remember going to camp as a kid [um, and maybe as an adult] and staying up most of the night because I was certain that a spider was going to eat me in my sleep. Things like that don't really happen, you say? Ohhhh, I've seen Arachnophobia and I beg to differ that those things really do happen.

Arachnophobia the movie was to me as a child what The Birds is to many people. I'm sure if I saw it today I would see it for its silliness, but think I'm really going to subject myself to that psychological torment? Ha! I don't think so. It took me years to get over the thought of spiders spontaneously coming out of the shower head or up from the toilet. I still check my running shoes that have been kept in the garage of that I haven't worn in a while. When we go camping, I try not to go to the bathroom at night and when I do, I have to make sure that I know where every single spider is hiding in the nooks and crannies of the rafters-keeping a constant eye on them to make sure they don't leap from their web and go in for the attack.

Going to the lake is a challenge for me because of the spiders. I'm not sure what it is about the water, but I have never seen such webs! As I walk along the dock I try my best to keep my eyes straightforward and not think about the little cretins furiously spinning their prey into their web of doom. Yes, logically I do know that spiders are MUCH smaller than I am and that theoretically they're much more scared of me than I am of them, but fear doesn't work logically or even theoretically. And I have been making huge leaps as it is now my task to brush the boat of spiderwebs. I do this while holding my breath but trying to act like a big girl in front of Scott, who thinks my fear is entirely irrational.

So as we were getting off the boat the other day, I couldn't help but take a quick peek at the pocket of dirt that fell from the sail. There about a dozen dime-sized spiders. The thought of this many spiders together gave me chills, but they're the size that I'm now brave enough to smush on my own without calling for help. More concerning were the two half dollar sized smushes from the monstrous beast [yes, later found out it was one spider] Scott kindly "took care of" before I could see. I ran all the way down the dock back to the car and could faintly hear Scott's admonishing cry, "I told you not to look!"

What about you? Do you have any [ir]rational fears?

**On a side note, the picture is, I think, from Charlotte’s Web. At least according to the Google Image search parameters I used. My first instinct was to type in “Arachnophobia” thinking I could get a picture of the movie poster. What was I thinking? At first glimpse of the pictures, my armpits began to get tingly like they do when I’m nervous and I closed the browser as fast as I could. Won’t be making that mistake again! I figured “Charlotte’s Web” would yield a little less shudder-inducing results.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Whew--Deep Breath In and Out

Just wanted to drop a quick note so no one thought I left for Sturgis and decided to stay up there and become a biking mama. 

I managed to finish two books on the trip, celebrated 29 years with good friends this weekend (see pic below taken during sunset sailing), and refused to get caught up on anything despite being home for nearly two whole days between the trip and the company visiting. 

I hope to make appearances sometime this week--probably after marking everything in Google Reader as read to help my sanity.  But...I'm also up against a tough work deadline that I fear will bring on overtime throughout the rest of the month, and I have a Continuing Education course for work that I need to finish in the next month which will eat up most of my free time.  If I disappear over the next month here and there, don't think I'm jumping ship!  Just keeping sane.  :)

Do you have any end of summer plans??

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ooops! Note to Self: Proofread Before Posting

Boy do I feel like an idiot. My friend mentioned today how much she enjoyed yesterday's post and I told her I had "Do Re Mi" stuck in my head for the past 24 hours. She looked at me blankly and asked why. Because of my post yesterday! Again, blank stare. The Sound of Music video, I said. She said to me ever so solemnly that the video wasn't of Do Re Mi. WHAT??

Of course I was at work and could only view from my phone with an hour commute home before I could fix. So, in the future, when I double check my videos I will do so with the sound ON.

Same video but different audio. And this one is SO much better. Gah!  If you're watching, skip to 40 seconds into the video when it starts picking up--the beginning is lame.  The original point of the first post was how I sometimes wish life were like a musical and I wondered if you ever wished this, too.

[Sound of Music Do Re Mi.  Antwerp Train Station]

On another note, we're off tomorrow for South Dakota.  We're going for the 70th Annual Black Hills Rally (aka Sturgis).  Not riding the bikes up, but we'll be hauling four of them.  I had planned on maybe scheduling some posts while I'm out, but part of me felt kind of weird about it and the other part of me got busy.  I may still aim for a Sunday post, but we'll see. 

Until next time!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why Doesn't This Ever Happen in Real Life?

Ever seen that episode of Scrubs where the dying patient's life is like a musical?  I wish that were my life--without the dying, of course.  I looooooourve musicals and even though I can't carry a tune I looooooourve to sing aloud [when alone].  I sometimes think the world would be a  happier place if life was a musical.

So this...this would make my day.  I found this about a million years ago on Lisa's Books.Lists.Life., but it's continued to stick with me:

[Train Station in Antwerp]

How would you feel if life were a musical?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Admit One: My Life in Film - Emmett James

Title: Admit One: My Life in Film
Author: Emmett James
Published:  2007; Pages 197
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 3/5

Admit One: My Life in Film is Emmett James's memoir about breaking into the film industry and becoming a successful actor.  I love movies. I love memoirs. So why wouldn't I be interested in reading a memoir about movies?  Jones begins his memoir from the very beginning when he went to see A Jungle Book with his family in Croydon, England where he grew up.  It would be a long journey before he would break into Hollywood and attain his first roll in a major motion picture. THE major motion picture: Titanic.

When I received this book from publicist Lisa Roe, I'll admit that while I had seen and skimmed many reviews for this book I didn't really have a good idea of what it was about.  Each chapter is entitled after the name of a movie and presumably these titles shape the content of each chapter.  This is sometimes well-done and sometimes loosely to say the least.  When I realized that this book wasn't about how these specific movies shaped his life (for example Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, Taxi Driver, A Jungle Book), I was at first really disappointed.  But as I got used to the idea that these movies really have no tie in to the book at all and that the book is more straightforwardly his memoir about breaking into the film industry I settled in and began to enjoy the book a little more.

This book was an interesting read, especially in the second half of the book when James was grown and had moved to Hollywood to start his career.  James has a biting sense of humor and his tone is highly sarcastic.  For some authors this works for me--I don't look for books I read to be wrapped neatly in a perfectly square Politically Correct box--but in this book the tone seemed condescending and oftentimes offensive.  James also discusses some of the seedier things he did in order to get noticed or to make a few bucks to keep himself afloat.  In one instance he dresses up as a superhero to hand deliver his portfolio to the director of Batman Forever in hopes that he'll be noticed and gain the role of one of the cape donning, tight wearing men of the film:

“The lift doors shut gently behind me—I kept walking. The tie, shirt, and jacket came off. I kept walking. The silky tights were straightened. My walking quickened. My superhero package was properly adjusted. I had reached my destination, I was standing in front of his room door, cape billowing behind me, now having massive second thoughts about this whole ridiculous scheme. What the fuck was I thinking? Paranoia had swept over me. I looked in every direction. Were cameras watching me? Could I really have struggled to take my trousers off without them realizing there was something not quite kosher going on with the Warner’s special delivery?” (95).

All in all this book is entertaining but it just wasn't what I hoped it would be.  The focus of James's career thus far is playing a steward in the movie Titanic.  During his time on the film he rubbed elbows with some of the greatest actors/actresses of our times, but unfortunately James isn't a face or a name I recognize after seeing the movie several times.  And while James's lack of fame didn't have any effect on my reading (I generally prefer not to read books by celebrities), I'm not quite sure what this book was supposed to be about--was it how movies spoke to him as a kid, or how he struggled to make his way, or his successes that he accomplished?  This book would have been more effective with a clearer focus. 

What movies did you see as a kid that left an imprint on you??

My thanks to Lisa Roe for sending this to me months ago.

I am an Amazon Associate and if you purchase Admit One or any other Amazon product through this review I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no additional cost to you.  Thanks!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Salon - Reading Companion Guides [or Sparknotes]

Happy Sunday, Saloners!  I'm dying of heat here--it's been in the 100s the past couple of days without a single mph of wind.  We tried to go sailing yesterday and failed miserably.  I can't wait until we have a slight reprieve next week when we head to South Dakota.

This past week was a productive reading week for me as I finished Part I of Brothers Karamazov (see what I thought of those Brothers K here).  After finishing Les Miserables last weekend I think I'm crazy for jumping into another foreign classic chunkster, but what's life without a little insanity, eh?  As I was reading this week, I found myself needing a little extra help digesting what Dostoevsky was throwing my way--keeping the characters straight, following plot lines, discovering hidden meaning in the dense political and religious conversations.  Where did I head for help? 

This got me wondering if other readers look to other sources of information to glean meaning from some of the tougher books their reading.  Or even hitting up informative sites like wikipedia to gain understanding of history or culture or other things that might be a little unfamiliar.

Now I know the negative connotation that Cliff's Notes, Sparknotes, or even Wikipedia carry--especially in high school or college classrooms where students use these texts to replace the books they are supposed to read.  For the purposes of this post, I'm more curious about you as a reader and if you use any of these sources (or others).  It was easier for me to understand "tough" books when I was in high school or college when we were required to read supplemental articles and essays on the books we read or when we had class discussions to tease out different themes or even plot summaries, but now that I am reading on my own I often feel that I am missing a lot when I read these books.  This feeling is not limited to classics but also books that take place in different countries where I might not be as aware of different historical and political events (the country Biafra immediately comes to mind from Half of a Yellow Sun). 

Sunday's Questions:  Do you ever consult companion guides or the Internet to gain extra information or understanding about a book you are reading?  Or do you read deeper into the text to try and dissect the text on your own?  Or do you read on surface level and hope for the best? 

I am not suggesting that these sources replace deep thinking or do the work for me, nor do I consult them with every book I read (I didn't consult any for Les Miserables), but they sometimes add a dimension to my reading that I might be able to achieve in reading alone.  Incidentally this is why I've been enjoying the readalongs so much and also a big reason why I enjoy book blogging--to see the different perspectives that others have of the same book I've read.

In other news--the winners for the Sweet Sixteen Giveaway from last week:
WordLily, Samantha, Trisha, Carin, Tedious and Brief, Joanna, and Vivienne
I will not admit that after unloading 14 books I bought 2 more.  :-/

In Trish Real Life News:
This is kind of a weird thing to say, but I feel like my old Trish self lately.  I love it.

Work finally slowed down this week!  I had my mornings and lunches to read!  Oh it felt so good.  There is threat that we'll speed up again next week again at work, but I'm not thinking about that right now.

I FINISHED my quilt!  After fourteen months.  And I think I've figured out the pattern to Scott's quilt but still no material.

On Friday we leave for South Dakota where we'll ride with the other thousands of crazy people at Sturgis.  We are trailering up (I know, lame), but we're going with Scott's family so there'll be a gaggle of us.  I'm also going to see Lisa and go fabric shopping with her!

I'm trying to figure out my next Continuing Education course (remember those cake decorating classes last summer?).  I'm thinking photography but am not set yet.  What would you take??

Mmmm, that's it.

Have a wonderful Sunday!!

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