29 December 2012

Mr. Walken and Mr. Poe: an unlikely relationship


I have been undergoing a love affair with Edgar Allan Poe for many years now, but upon receiving a gorgeous, Coptic-bound edition of The Raven from my mother this Christmas, I found myself swooning over poem and poet once more as though for the first time.

This fangirl-y reawakening led me to the memorization of the poem [I'm currently 3 stanzas down] and to elocution practice so that my reading of it will sound as effective and eloquent as possible [much to the chagrin of my poetry-stunted family]. Naturally, I also took to youtube to see how such greats as Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and James Earl Jones went about reciting the old classic. None failed to make me swoon.

However, I also stumbled across a reading by Christopher Walken. You may know this actor from his unfortunate appearances on Saturday Night Live, where his line, "Needs more cowbell!" has been tragically immortalized by the Internet. Or, perhaps, his name immediately conjures the image of a man in WWII uniform holding a watch, as he was seen in Pulp Fiction. Hopefully, however, you immediately think of his Oscar-nominated role in The Deer Hunter or even his brief but memorable part in Woody Allen's Annie Hall [mostly because such remembrances would speak greatly for your state as well-cultured in the arts].

But however you are familiar Christopher Walken, it is doubtful that your mind immediately jumps to "poetry" at the mention of his name! I myself was rather stunned when I found this video. But have a listen. Note how his famous, New York-accented voice is somehow perfectly befitted to quoting Poe's immortal lines. Notice how the pauses and inflections and tiny emotions in his speech make listening to the poem interesting and different. Take heed to the casual way he reads the poem, as though he is merely retelling the goings-on of the previous evening. And all to those sound-effects in the background! Isn't it marvelous? Doesn't it suddenly drop the presupposition that only British people can sound good reading poetry? Honestly, I have been absolutely enthralled by this reading for the last few days--I can't listen to it enough times!

In short, not only is The Raven the best poem ever, but Christopher Walken will never cease to amaze me. [My surprise at his impressive dancing skills has now been surpassed.]

22 December 2012

christmas moose


Photos taken by my camera, with the aid of my sister's fingers and eyes.


A day or so ago, my sister Lana spotted two moose making their way across the field behind our house. Naturally, she called me to the window, where together we observed them serenely wading through the snow to graze on some branches. Hilariously, shortly before these photos were taken, the pair had been ferociously humping, a moment which had sucked a little of the majesty from the scene, and to which we had awkwardly looked down behind immature grins. However, it didn't last long, and, having satisfied themselves, they simply continued on their dignified way as though nothing had happened. Inwardly, Lana and I decided to say nothing about it; merely praising the majesty and solemn splendour of the creatures. Oh nature.

20 November 2012

a handful of tiny book reviews

Despite being halfway to three-quarters through all of these at once [with, it would seem, little motivation to finish any of them] I am in love with all of these books. Below, I have illustrated my micro-opinions for each, perhaps to convince you lot to read them, perhaps to convince myself to finish them [instead of picking up The Hobbit for the fifth time].

Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
A tragic, poetic, and insightful look into how differently women were valued little more than a hundred years ago; the influence of Darwinism over love and church values; and the danger of passivity and self-martyrdom. One of the best and saddest novels I have ever read.

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
I don't read many thrillers, but I'm really enjoying this one, so I'm sure it's one of the genre's best. It's exciting, well-written, page-turning. Way better than the film.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Strange, interesting, sexy. Another alarmingly long Tolstoy novel, but worth all 800 pages. Anna is one of my favourite novel heroines ever.

The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
If etymology is at all interesting to you, you'll love this book. And hey, even if it isn't, and you speak English, you will still love this book! Bryson makes what sounds like a boring subject [even though it totally isn't] into a highly enjoyable and even humorous read. Every English speaker should read this book; if not to learn more about their mother tongue, than simply to gain appreciation for their ability to use the best language on earth.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Despite all the interwoven nihilism, Palahniuk is stylish, classy and almost poetic in his writing. In fact, nothing about this highly readable novel warrants negative critique. The only question I have is whether it's better than the film or not; and to me, that can hardly be determined due to director David Fincher's brilliant skill at adaptating for the screen. So, basically, if you loved the film, you'll absolutely adore the novel. And vice versa.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
I once thought that I would never have anything to do with Anne Rice. And frankly, I still don't want to. However, I somehow found this novel to be irrisitable, so, it became my one exception [like Stephen King's The Stand]. Surprisingly, I actually kind of like it—vampires, erotica, Anne-Riceiness and all.

Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks
by Mark Buchanan
From Amazon.com: "This 'cogent and engaging' (Nature) work presents the fundamental principles of the emerging field of 'small-worlds' theory—the idea that a hidden pattern is the key to how networks interact and exchange information, whether that network is the information highway or the firing of neurons in the brain." This book is highly readable, due both to its fascinating topic and Buchanan's skill at translating scientific jargon for the layman. It inspires appreciation for mathematics and the world around you; displaying yet another signature in Creation.

Julius Caesar by Shakespeare
Like essentially everything Shakespeare wrote, more can hardly be said about this than "it's the best." All the same, I will boringly parrot that it's beautifully written, historically relevant, classic, and simply won't do to be passed up! One of my new favs [right under Macbeth].

Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw
Charming, cute, insightful, feminist, very great. My first [but certainly not last] Bernard Shaw play. The 1964 film version My Fair Lady hit the nail on the head, but you should read the play anyway —it's better.

24 October 2012

yin and yang

Lately, it has felt as though time is standing still. As though, somehow, time has just stopped to allow me to sit--blamelessly, day after day--in an ugly afghan watching BBC mini-series and drinking coffee with absolutely nothing better to do. Obviously, this has been a total fantasy in my mind with no baring in reality; dreamt up in order to justify the devastating depression that has taken hold of me ever since the days began to shorten and the frost killed all the greenery. Indeed, time has very much been marching forward, leaving all my goals and responsibilities somewhere at the start of September. Now, at the end of October, I have two months behind me and nothing meaningful to show for it.

Apart from the tragedy of the colder weather, I can think of no other reason for my disheartened state apart from, possibly, my amazingly surreal summer. I don't think I have recuperated from the almost-deadly bout of pneumonia [four days of oxygen treatment in the hospital]; the cancelled biology course; the sudden, wonderful new friendships; enduring three family reunions; the anticlimax of The Dark Knight Rises; and the many nights of sub-drunken shenanigans. But, whether it was the oddities of the summer or start of chilly weather, I have neither been myself nor the self I want to be of late, and it has taken its toll by paralyzing any routine that makes meeting goals and successfully moving forward possible.

Recently, however, it occurred to me amid a particularily bleak afternoon with very little sunlight--while I sat in my ugly afghan reading the blogs of people far more charming than myself--that with every "seamy" aspect of living, there are those little successes and tiny perfections that can help to lift one from the slough of despond, but which are easily lost in the overpowering ideal of how life ought to be lived. Specifically, one of Lizzie's posts snapped me into the reality that no life is perfect--despite what might appear to be perfection by the observing outsider--and even amid the darkness there can be little bits of light.

So I made some lists. Just like the Tao philosophy of the yin and yang [that the shadow and the light are connected; indiscernable by themselves, but shown for what they are when contrasted against each other] I realized that I would not have seen the good in my life if I hadn't had a little bad to compare it to. I am not a Taoist, but I agree that it is harder to appreciate the light without the presence of darkness.

I have written out a list for both the shadow and the light: the collective perfections and imperfections that make up the yin and yang of my less-than-charming life.


innumerable shoddy english assignments
pages of baffling math problems
two unwritten letters
six unfinished novels
a broken camera
living in a stressfully scattered household
the long, difficult shifts at work
still no driver's license
sullenness; lethargy; the desire to hibernate
having expensive coffee tastes
the coming of a lose-lose American election
the long-neglected sewing machine
the slowly mounting number on the scale

.

the scads of promising films releasing soon
owning three tremendous wool sweaters 
Icelandic music [this and this]
leaves to crunch on the sidewalks
a paycheck every second Friday
five friendly cats on the porch
the autumn-smelling forest behind the house
an abundance of tea
the $60 sent to CBM
learning "Of Angels and Angles" on the guitar
still no snow on the ground
a finished sewing project [a book bag for myself]
gin in the cupboard
Christmas in two months 

29 July 2012

dragonfruit

Having covetously eyed both its appearance and name since childhood, Thursday finally saw me shrug and plop a dragonfruit into my shopping basket beside the chocolate and organic flour. That afternoon, I sliced satisfactorily through the bright pink oval at last. 


The rubbery peel fell away from the soft, strange flesh without argument. My first bite was small, tentative--unsure of the consistency and the taste. But the flesh was like a firm, dry watermelon, the seeds like that of a kiwi, and the taste of nothing but the mildest sweetness. It is a singular fruit, to be sure--not quite living up to its enchanting appearance--but remains inviting and healthy enough to not be last I will ever buy. 

06 July 2012

the afternoon skirt

A week or so ago, after Lizzie unexpectedly sent me this wonderful skirt tutorial, I immediately left my sociology book and bowl of grapes and set to work at my Elna 5200. 


I knew that I had two meters of printed cotton left over from another project, and it happened to be precisely the amount I needed.


It was good just to work, not thinking about everything else that I "should" have been doing. Sewing was all I wanted to do. 


I measured, cut, ruffled, basted, stitched, pressed, and hemmed. Hours passed.


After so many months of ignoring my sewing machine, we had again established our dearly held relationship. By the time I closed the last seam, I couldn't stop smiling. 
 

An entire pot of Orange Pekoe and three Black Keys albums later, I was finished. 

02 July 2012

canada day

Last night, my mum, sister and I took up our picnic blanket and headed to the Seven Hills for the Canada Day fireworks. Saint Albert always puts on a good show. We found a spot directly beneath the targeted sky.

They began at 11 o'clock, though the sky was hardly dark. The air filled with exploding lights and smoke and the smell of gunpowder. We craned our necks back to take them in. Some looked like electricity. Some looked like flowers. Some looked like sea creatures. I remembered why I love fireworks, and thought:

'Sometimes, patriotism pays off.'











07 June 2012

soak

Yesterday, the rain whipped and stormed at the windows until 8 o'clock in the evening. It was then that I ventured outside to observe the aftermath. I took my dogs and my camera into the field for an adventure in the wet; up to and around the old forest.



When I got up to the row of caragana trees behind my house, I realized that I hadn't noticed their yellow blossoms until then. Their arms were weighed down by all the rain, but they managed to bid us a dewy "g'day."




The rain had turned the soil of the field into a mass of deep, satisfying mud. My boots made a sucking, slurping sound with every step. The dogs chased airborne sandpipers.



The canola, seeded by the farmers not a month before, were poking their tiny, leafy heads out of the soft mud; looking grateful and awake after the day's rain.




After making it well up to the forest, we stood before the silent view of the highway and the old red barn on my Uncle's farm. I walked; my dogs upset the mallards of a nearby pond.




We ventured around the curve of the forest, to the side shadowed from the sun.



The humid air was still on the dark side of the wood; the sun was hidden behind all the trees.      Ivy came over to say hello. 







 At last, we reached an open part of the forest. We ventured through a row of trees and ancient cement cylinders. My pants and dogs alike were soaked after wading through all the wet grass.





 By the time we reached home again, the cats had emerged.

03 June 2012

some words to live by

Ernest Hemingway: There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.

Ayn Rand: The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.

Jake Kerouac: Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.

Edgar Allen Poe: Invisible things are the only realities.

Oscar Wilde: I think it is very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.

Eleanor Roosevelt: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Ed Maccauley: When you are not practicing, remember, someone, somewhere else is, and when you meet him, he will win.

Shahir Zag: You don't need bigger boobs. You need to read better books.

Lorne Michaels: If you look around the room and you're the smartest person there, you're in the wrong room.

Oscar Wilde: I don't want to earn my living, I want to live.


30 May 2012

a post long overdue

In keeping with the usual course of life, intense busyness has kept me from all the things I wish I could be doing, with very few exceptions (this is why the summer is going to be full of projects!) Naturally, with so little time, I haven't spent it updating my blog. However! I have at last decided that I simply must post something; if only to maintain the idea that I am, indeed, still alive. Which led to this post: a summary of my latest goings-on for all you lovely stalker chaps out there. So this is what's gone down, I:

Got thick-rimmed hipster glasses.
near-sighted lenses, clear-green frames, almost-cateye edges 

Saw The Avengers thrice.
greater than expectations, funny, exciting; full of hot men (*totally the main reason)

Smoked a Cuban cigar.
gritty, stung the lips, tasted dark and fiery; smelled like a distinguished Orson Welles character 

Saw the U.S. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (finally!)
impressive, excellent visuals, David Fincher at his best; better than the Swedish version

Read Macbeth.
gorgeous, intense, deep; I have totally memorized Lady Macbeth's dark soliloquy

Started seriously listening to Bjรถrk, Jeff Buckley, and The Black Keys.
fantastic and strange | beautiful and soulful | exciting and talented

Gutted and rearranged my room.
long time coming, much needed, deeply satisfying

Watched three of the most depressing movies ever.
never watch: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Raging Bull, or The Wind that Shakes the Barley (unless, of course, you have a heart of steel)

Read A Room with a View by E. M. Forster.
charming, funny, lovely; a perfect picture of Italy with excellent social commentary 

Hyped Prometheus like no tomorrow (and still am!)
this next installment of the Alien series has been a long time coming --I simply cannot wait for June 8th!

Purchased a book on bread-making. 
using it is one of my main summer goals!

Signed up for Driver's Education (finally!)
because I want/need the experience and the reduced insurance pay, but mostly because I am sick and tired of depending on my parents to drive me places --this has been put off for far too long! 

Watched all of Doctor Who and The Walking Dead
oddly charming and addictive, despite cheesiness | excellent effects and cool idea (though mediocrely executed and not even close to the quality of the comics)

27 April 2012

bookie wooks

I need to whip my reading into shape. Badly. In the past month, I've hardly gotten through two books, and they were not chosen of my own accord. It is time to make a list again --and actually complete it this time. So, these are the books I have been wanting/needing to read for at least a year now. It will take me some time, but I need to get through them!

The Bible (New American Standard)
A Journey to the Center of the Earth - Jules Verne
Notes from Underground - Dostoyevsky
The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way - Bill Bryson
Twelfth Night - Shakespeare
The Bourne Identity - Robert Ludlum
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
A Room with a View - E. M. Forster
The Collapse of Evolution - Scott M. Huse
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Word Histories and Mysteries - editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries
Winnie the Pooh - A. A. Milne
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden - Hannah Green
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking
Franny and Zooey - J. D. Salinger
As You Like It - Shakespeare
On Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
I Am The Messenger - Markus Zusak
Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
Case for a Creator - Lee Strobel
Ulysses - James Joyce
At the Mountains of Madness - H. P. Lovecraft
Beyond Good and Evil - Friedrich Nietzche
Middlemarch - George Eliot
Interview with a Vampire - Anne Rice
Bleak House - Charled Dickens
The Food of the Gods - H. G. Wells
Schindler's List - Thomas Keneally
As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
Orthodoxy - D. K. Chesterton
The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick
Mutiny on the Bounty - Charles Nordhoff & James Norman Hall
From Hell - Alan Moore
Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson
The Snows of Kilimanjaro - Ernest Hemingway
 Watership Down - Richard Adams
Mere Christianity - C. S. Lewis
Dune - Frank Herbert
Therese Raquin -  Emile Zola
The Innocent - Ian McEwan
Far from the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Shakespeare
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
The Reason for God - Timothy Keller
Shake Hands with the Devil - Romeo A. Dellaire
For Whom the Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
The First Men on the Moon - H. G. Wells

24 April 2012

a summer list

This summer has got to be as excellent as possible. I have had no freedom to do anything I want for the past several months, so I simply must make up for it in the summertime. I need to:

(July)
- go to the Art Walk on Whyte Ave
- go see The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man on the big screen
- take Lana to Shakespeare in the Park
- plan and put together a summer dress
- play Portal (on the cold days, obviously)

(August)
- have sushi with multiple people
- go see The Bourne Legacy on the big screen
- visit the zoo with friends
- bake a loaf of bread from scratch (using this book)
- hold an uproarious movie marathon
- plan and put together a satchel, pillow cases, and curtains
- visit Fort Edmonton

19 April 2012

completion !
























I am done! After two seasons of Doctor Who, the whole discography of Eurythmics and The Cure, and half a box of vanilla rooibos tea, I have finally finished my little square in Saint Albert's "Cultivate Life" Mural Mosaic. I am so glad to have scored a panel of in this project, but equally so to have completed it at last. But now it is time to move on to sewing again --an art which comes far more naturally to me.

16 April 2012

progress


this is where I have ended up
still some work to be done
but the smell of paint
and rooibos tea
is lovely.

29 March 2012

Just so you know.


Over this depressingly long span of blog silence, I have been:

- getting into The Marx Brothers
- reading Macbeth
- painting an oak tree (remember this?)
- watching movie commentaries
- drinking lemon ginger tea
- reading The Walking Dead comics
- watching Ian McKellen do Shakespeare
- practicing calligraphy
- listening to Modest Mouse, Sonic Youth, and The Dead Weather
- taking midnight walks
- hyping over Prometheus
- staying up too late

So, in a nutshell, it's been grand. I am currently working on a handful of entertaining articles, which, if you are lucky, you will have the mind-blowing priveledge of reading soon. I will certainly do my best.

Laura

08 March 2012

a poem about beards (I highly approve)

HAIR TODAY

for Jeff Hawkins

I.
I am a wild one

I razed the hairs of my wild face
mailed them

each to someone different
in the phone book

there is a beard that is a river of mail
moving through the streets

feline as night
and the smoothfaced stars

II.
the stars are holes in the receiver of night
listen:

the hairs of the infinite
the godbeard of night
shaking out its owls and dark angels
its evening calls to loved ones
and death

III.
an emergency

the dental work
the moon shapes
the lichen
the shopping carts
the Zohar of the beard

the armchairs
the stamp collection
the surround sound of the beard

the scared text
the Fujiyama
the giant face of bees

the earth's trees
and mailboxes
its razorblade of stars and cochlea
its mail carriers
its undertow
is urgent
the hairs of the beard

an emergence

IV.
a crank call like a razor
whirring, breathing, scratching

"if you're so wild
why answer the phone?"

a shadow moving through the shorn city
5 o'clock ellipses
7 o'clock commas
not words but
a thousand ant stigmata
crawling across the sky

V.
each hair in an envelope falling
through the mailslot
a shadow inside a dove

the beard only possible
an agreement
between strangers

a rhizomatic face
cramming our brains with hair

VI.
we take our beard
a consensus of night
feed it into an ATM
we withdraw stars
or perhaps

wait for help

—Gary Barwin

[taken from Grain Vol 38.4, Summer 2011]

07 March 2012

butterfly

For now, there is naught to do but change and change.

I wove a cocoon around myself—a cottony, grayish lump—making sure to spin it tightly, binding every member and limb. I started to blend—mixing, churning, changing—and my features lost their definition; my body its old shape. No one suspected it. No one suspects it as I continue to change and change—hidden from eyes inside the secure, claustruphobic tube I built around myself. I am allowed to be rueful. I am in transition. I am becoming something else.

But I built it knowingly; even happily—the difficulties were not a surprise once I wove the last layer of silk. I knew that I direly needed the change, the transition—that painful inbetween—before a colourful, full-winged future could be mine. I knew that the cocoon was the only way to regenerate my useless bones and idle soul.

And I will remain like this, a soup, for a time—my shapeless self needs to create wings and antennae and a tasteful honey-sucking tongue—but I will emerge.

Perhaps it will take longer than I hope. But I will emerge.