Tag: book

The fricking thing crashed and has been offline for several months

This is what happens because I am not tech-literate enough and because life-things happen and suddenly I don’t have time like I used to.

But now the blog is back up and I can ramble and post pictures of knitting and food. Hurrah!
Anyway. What was I up to: I was pregnant and gave birth, I knit two ZZZ-jumpsuits, I tweeted, I went to Berlin twice, I went and visited my 90-year-old grandmother for the first time in several years and showed her the new baby, and I bought books that I haven’t had the time to read yet. Also I spent lots of time doing the wonderful, repetitive, exhausting and exhilarating things that you do when you’re a new parent.
I also got to contribute a post on the always wonderful Bitch Flicks website.

That said: it is way past my new bed-time and so I will post this now and go and crash.

I’ve been a Bad Poster

Not posting for several months: bad!

Baking rhubarb meringue cake and banana bread and not taking a picture to post it: bad!

Reading Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman and not having anything to say about it: not so good.

Going to see Porgy and Bess on Broadway, liking it (a lot) but not writing anything about it: also not good.

Going to see Being Shakespeare at BAM, enjoying it immensely but not telling anybody about it: pathetic.

Visiting the Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden and not even mentioning it in a facebook post: sad.

So what have I been wasting my time on now? Well, I’ve been planning a garden I don’t yet have and going through garden catalogs dreaming of an impossible garden with all kinds of climate zones; I’ve been hanging out with friends and family; I’ve been moving from Darmstadt to Mainz to back home, only to go traveling for 3 weeks; I’ve been reading about the health care debate in the US and I’m not quite sure I understand it; I’ve been following the movement of academics boycotting certain publishers with great interest and have encouraged my sister to publish her doctoral thesis in an open access journal.

Books I’ve read since my last post:

  • Hogfather, by Terry Pratchett (re-read to get into the Christmas spirit)
  • Pigeon English, by Stephen Kelman (good for a train-ride to Berlin)
  • The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman (while fighting jet-lag)
  • Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman (re-read when I had to ride the subway a lot)
  • Utopia, by Thomas More (as an e-book on an iPad)

In conclusion: I am a bad poster for actually doing, seeing, and thinking about stuff but not posting about it.

myNaNoWriMo2011

Having been a spectator to the craziness that is NaNoWriMo for some years now, I have decided to participate this year. I started about a week late (I didn’t plan it that way, it just happened) but i’ve had two very productive days, resulting in 6094 words (out of the 50 000 words required to ‘win’) so far. I’m not wholly convinced I’m going in the right direction with this. I’ve chosen to write an epistolary novel that includes letters (some of which actually get sent), emails, chat transcripts, diary entries, internal monologue, internal dialogue, and phone calls. I’m using different fonts to differentiate between these. Like I said: it might be too complicated or artificial or too far up its own ass to actually work as a readable (if not enjoyable) novel. But hey! The motto is “don’t get it right, get it done”. So I’m writing away. It’s actually kind of fun (she says, after only 2 days of writing) and I hope I can at least finish it. Whether I go beyond a first draft is up in the air.

I love the NaNoWriMo forums, the pep talks, the idea that out there several thousand people are also doing this, and the pure joy I feel when I watch my word count go up. Some of the dares (give your character an annoying trait, have one of your characters make a ridiculous order at Starbucks) are useful, even when you don’t accept them, simply because they shake your brain up and help move things along.

I’ve noticed I like to mention food every couple of paragraphs. Maybe I’ll include a recipe somewhere. Hmm…

Anyway, I wanted to mention that I’m using Scrivener for Mac to write this baby. I used it to write my thesis last year and it served me so well that I’m using it again. Scrivener is basically so great that I’d have to dedicate an entire post to it and so I shall at some later date. But go download a free trial version right now (Mac or Windows) and play around with it and tell me there aren’t some nifty functions in there.

Ok, enough procrastination. Back to writing my NaNo. (Too bad the word count on this post doesn’t count towards my NaNo word count.)

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Last week the Supreme Court of the US ruled that video games are protected by the First Amendment. They basically came to this conclusion because they compared video games to other forms of storytelling – such as oral traditions, (comic) books, film, and TV – and found that what is depicted in games is not that different from what we see, read, or hear in the other media (read the entire ruling here). They also pointed out that humanity has a long tradition of telling itself stories of violence, citing some fairytales as evidence.
A few days later there was this opinion piece in the New York Times by a medical student, describing how fairytales helped her come to terms with some of the strange cases and encounters she had to deal with in hospitals. From one of the Grimms’ versions of Cinderella (in which the two step-sisters have their eyes picked out by doves during Cinderella’s wedding) to Bluebeard’s chamber full of dead wives, fairytales describe weird and disturbing goings-on and try to analyze them without the help of Freud and other more modern theories. They are one of the basic mirrors our species holds up to itself in an attempt to understand and warn.
Today I found this excellent summary and analysis of the various Bluebeard versions by Terri Windling. It also describes how over time the depiction of the characters and the moral of the story changed. How a story of pluck and courage turned into a story about obedience. Go read it. And then you’ll understand why my first reaction to Charles Perrault’s morals of the story was “this sounds like he wrote something he heard about and didn’t quite understand what was going on and so tried to tack something on to the end.” A similar sentiment to the one Susan Sto-Helit has when she reads the fairytale of the clock-maker in Terry Pratchett’s Thief of Time.
I would also like to point you in the direction of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, simply because as a child I delighted in this irreverent re-telling of some of the best-known fairytales.

Go read all of that. And then go to the Gutenberg Project and read some fairytales. After all, they are some of the oldest stories we’ve been telling ourselves over and over again (Warning: some are pretty gruesome). And you might even want to try out a video game, the new narrative medium of choice for some.

Delightful Dirty Stories

Joey Comeau has recently self-published a book of dirty stories that “are weird and fun and often bewildering, like sex itself” titled The Girl who Couldn’t Come. There is also math, ghosts, and time travel.

You can read some of the stories here.

Personally, I enjoyed the ones I read. It felt like the author really likes his characters and wants us to like them too.
Some stories are strange or shocking or surprising (like the twist in “And then the Werewolf”). But mostly they are about people having sex. And not in a “throbbing manhood” or “unleashed passions” kind of way.

My favorite is “one two three four five six seven eight”.

This book is for anyone who has sex.

 

Joey Comeau is a Canadian author who also works on the asofterworld.com comic.

Getting Started and Writing a To-Do-List

I’ve been playing around with WordPress and uploaded, deleted, and re-uploaded stuff. I’m sorting through my things to see what else I want to share in this space and jotting down ideas for posts on bits of paper.

Also, I added flattr-buttons to some of the stuff I’m sharing. (To find out what flattr is watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwvExIWf_Uc) I feel kinda silly doing so, but I figure since it’s all voluntary, I’ll let others decide whether they think my content is worth flattr-ing.

What else?
Oh! I get to write out a concept for a competition with a barbecue theme! That should be fun.
It looks like May will be busy. I spent the first week of the month in Berlin, I set up this site two days ago, I need to finish up a project this week, start a new one, write bills, update my mother’s website (tcm-nuernberg.de), and take a friend to the ballet at the end of the month.

I want to finish up some socks I’m knitting for my sister. She has also requested a shawl.
I really want to sit down and finish reading Edward Said’s Orientalism so I can have an opinion on it.

So, I think I’ll just get right on all of that.