Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Keith Richards, it's your birthday!

It's been a crazy year... you claimed you snorted your dad's ashes, and then said you were joking. The year before, you fell out of a tree in Fiji. I can't wait to see what happens in 2008! So here's to another year of wackiness and unpredictable anecdotes. Happy Birthday, Keith-- you're still the king of cool...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Modern Library's Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century Quest: #93

Title: The Magus
Author: John Fowles
Judgin' The Book By Its Cover: Ugh, I hate this cover. Purple and red? Yuck.

Thoughts: It's been a long, long time (read: 10 years or so) since I've finished a book and really not known what it was about (although, I know for certain that I read Nightwood during a time of intense insomnia in my life, but I can't remember a thing about it-- not one thing!).
But I had the distinct pleasure of struggling through this nearly 700-page book just to walk away confused. The story is about a young British womanizer who takes a position teaching English at a school on a remote Greek island. He meets an enigmatic millionaire with a penchant for the dramatic and quickly loses his bearings in a complicated world of deceit and intrigue. The plot takes turn after turn after turn, and I didn't have the patience to follow the unlikable characters through the labyrinthine plot. Moreover, the story is deeply rooted in metaphor and literary allusion, very little of which I could decipher. I'm not a total doofus, but I don't have the classical education (or extensive understanding of French, Latin, and Greek, large passages of which are left untranslated) that's necessary to get every reference. Unfortunately, I finished the book feeling unsure of what the point was and feeling disappointed that my toil was all for naught.

However, The Magus made me want to visit Greece even more and, luckily, all the cravings for the delicious food described in the book can be easily satiated in Astoria (yay, Astoria-- where else can you run around the corner when the urge for lemon- and oregano-sprinkled lamb hits you?).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Quest Update

Wow, I probably shouldn't title this "Quest Update"-- that might give people the wrong idea of what I'm into (online role-play gaming perhaps?). But it's too late now! I'm already committed to the title.

Lest you're concerned that I've given up, allow me to reassure you: I'm still working on the Modern Library novels quest. But... I'm kind of stuck in The Magus. I'm on page 430 (out of 668), and I just can't seem to get into it. So I'm slowly but surely slogging through it. I decided to skip the novels that I've already read (the point of this was to get acquainted with new authors and novels), so I'm bypassing #94, Wide Sargasso Sea. That said, I HIGHLY recommend this book-- it's incredible. I'm not much into the retelling-well-known-stories genre (the book depicts the untold story in Jane Eyre), but this book stands alone and will haunt you long after you finish it. Read it! Now! I'm not kidding.

I can't believe I'm only on #93.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

As the last bits of Thanksgiving turkey simmer in a big pot 'o' noodles, I'm realizing that fall is over, Christmastime is officially here, and an awful lot of time has passed since I was last with you, faithful blog readers! Don't think I was slacking all this time-- I've been busy as a bee! OK, I was slacking a little bit... But I have been busy! Littlest Sister and Crazy Brother-In-Law came out from Virginia and Indiana, respectively, for a fun- and Guitar Hero-filled visit, I cooked my first solo Thanksgiving dinner, and I learned oodles of new French words (wow, how often do you get to use "oodles" and "noodles" in the same paragraph?!). And now it's December!

Unfortunately, I've been struck with a new and terrifying affliction this December-- total numbness in the Christmas area of my brain/heart. I just can't seem to get the Christmas glow on this year (I haven't had even the slightest urge to throw on my Bing Crosby Christmas album!!). I'm not sure what the cause of this illness is (maybe it's because I spent Thanksgiving in the city rather than at home?), but I'm left wondering what Christmas means to me when I strip away the traditions, the carols, the cookies, candy canes, and whipped cream-topped hot chocolate, the thrill of choosing, wrapping, and giving gifts, the favorite Christmas movies that always make me cry... Am I ever truly focused on what Christmas is really about? Is Christmas just a chance for me to get wrapped up in nostalgia and sentiment (an activity that is always paired with bemoaning my current life situation)? Does the Christmas story fill me with reverence, awe, and joy, or am I just happy to be revisiting a comforting holiday routine? Am I amazed by the incredible gift of Christmas even if the Christmas mood switch hasn't been triggered in my mind?

I don't have an answer for these questions, but I'm excited to take a look at the Christmas story anew this year before getting swept away by the traditions and rituals of the season. And I wish the same for you! So... may the unbelievable gift of God that is Christmas take on new meaning for you this season, and may the joys of traditions, carols, cookies, candy canes, and whipped cream-topped hot chocolate, choosing, wrapping, and giving gifts, and favorite Christmas movies that always make you cry be icing on the cake (instead of the whole meal)!