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Friday, November 16, 2007

For the Time Being

--by WH Auden -- is a must-read for all believers in the Incarnation. It's long, it's weird, and it's incredible. I discovered it a couple of years ago and read it every advent now to experience the pleasant sensation of my brain exploding.

Seeing as Advent has just started, I'll give you a taste of the "Advent" section -- here's the first stanza.

A Christmas Oratorio

What shall we say then? Shall we continue
in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.
Romans VI.


Darkness and snow descend;
The clock on the mantlepiece
Has nothing to recommend,
Nor does the face in the glass
Appear nobler than our own
As darkness and snow descend
On all personality.
Huge crowds mumble --"Alas,
Our angers do not increase,
Love is not what she used to be";
Portly Caesar yawns-- "I know";
He falls asleep on his throne,
They shuffle off through the snow:
Darkness and snow descend.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Queen and I

. . .is a book I just finished reading. It's by Sue Townsend, the author of the Adrian Mole books, which are also excellent. Anyway, the back cover promises that it's "laugh-out-loud funny", and in a way it is, but only someone who has never known poverty could miss the whole other point of the book.

The premise is that the monarchy has been abolished and the royal family is sent to live on a council estate. That would be the British equivalent of, I don't know, low income housing in the nastiest part of Surrey, minus the culture and charm. They also have to live on the state benefits -- ie below poverty line, and they can't sell any of their stuff. So they are doing weird things like cutting priceless Persian rugs to fit their tiny rooms, and drinking the cheapest tea out of the best china.

It's amazing how Townsend gets into the psyche of the Queen in such a bizarre scenario and does it so realistically. It's a totally surreal circumstance but treated almost completely straight. The Queen goes through all the sadness, frustration and degradation of a regular poor old woman, and it's all the more melancholy because of what she has lost. But here's the weird thing -- you find yourself sort of rebelling and saying "But you can't expect the Queen to live that way! It's not possible!" But, you realize, she is a human being, no more and no less. So are all the people who really do live that way. Why is it fine for them and not for her, when it comes right down to it? Why should any old lady have to choose whether she has tea to drink today or tomorrow, because she can't afford both? Have to walk miles to the welfare office, because if she takes the bus she won't be able to have bread for the morning? At one point the Queen is trying to decide between Smarties and a Fry's Chocolate mint, and wonders at how she never needed sweets when she was rich, and now she has a strange craving for them. That is so true, and I know why that is -- it's a tiny taste of luxury. It's a little trick you can play on yourself: see, here is something sweet. Everything is going to be alright.

Anyway, a good read; very funny and very sad, just like life.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ha! I'm back!

My dear techno-capable husband sorted out whatever was bothering my blog. So now I can write stuff again.

Here's something good: the movie I rented tonight, called The Tiger and the Snow. No, not the lion in winter, not snow falling on cedars, nothing is crouching or hidden or anything. This is a Roberto Begnini film. He is now tied with Harry Connick, jr for my Cat of the Month for September --this will be a new feature on this blog , I've just decided-- Cat of the Month. And no, I'm not talking about the kind that scratch, barf and spray all over the place. Not usually, anyway.

Just for starters: the very opening scene contains an Orthodox bishop, Tom Waits singing and playing the piano, and Roberto in his lily white boxers. All in a bombed out church, or a ruin, not sure which. If that doesn't pique your interest, well, then I'm afraid you are a houseplant.

Monday, April 16, 2007

new support group

Christ is Risen!

So during Bright Week I had this goofy dream that I established, in all seriousness, a support group for people who /almost/ got to visit Prague and were somehow prevented. I guess we were all supposed to be fairly traumatized by this and needed to talk about it a lot. Now, when I lived in Edinburgh I was in a the U of Edin. choir and we were going to go on a choir trip to Prague, and the organizers raved about how wonderful the city was. My husband and I were too broke, so I couldn't go. I guess it has bugged me over the years more than I thought, because here this dream cropped up, like, 8 years later. I do sort of clench my teeth any time someone goes on about /their/ trip to Prague and how great it is, blah blah.

So I thought it would be fun to establish the Prague Deprivation Support Group (PDSG) for real. Post a comment if, like me, you one time ALMOST went to Prague, but at the last minute or whatever, you couldn't. There can't be many of us, so it should be a nice elite little club.

If you /have/ been to Prague, just go away and tell someone else. I don't want to know about it.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

I got nothin' but Super Lady

I have nothing to say -- how boring is that. I am just trying to keep the ball rolling, especially since I don't intend to blog during Holy Week. That should be an easy resolution for me -- just about my speed.

The only slightly amusing thing I can tell you is that Heulwen, who is now three, has a personal favourite superhero she likes to be named Super Lady. I think that's kind of a scream. I have to stifle my smirks, though, because to her, Super Lady is serious stuff. Today Super Lady and Ella (alter ego name unknown at this point) were in one of their 'lava' episodes -- they have uncommon bad luck with lava, it seems -- and the dialogue went something like this:

Ella: Oh no! Here comes the lava! Run!

SL: Yeah! Here it comes! Let's get up higher!

Ella: It's coming higher now!

SL: Yeah! And I have to pee!

Now that's an issue they never dealt with in Dante's Peak: what if you are facing a pyroclastic flow and you have to pee? Methinks one just goes. Run from lava now, change trousers later.

A footnote: when I was cracking this gem of an anecdote to my husband, I referred to it as "chiroplastic flow"! I thought: that's not right, because I have no idea how I would spell that. He didn't seem to notice, though. Whew.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

swiffer and gogol -- part II

After reading "The Overcoat", I'm mad at Gogol now too.

Consolation: I bought (with my allowance -- the greatest idea if you do your household budget -- let the grownups in the household have a monthly allowance -- it takes the sting out of paying all those boring grownup bills) Dostoyevsky's The Idiot. It's the new edition translated by the dream team of Volokhonsky and Pevear, about whom I've effused in a past post. I actually heard them (V and P) speaking on an Ideas show (CBC radio at 9 on weekdays -- really good) that was all about translation. They were asked what the hardest type of thing is to translate and Richard Pevear said peasant-type dialogue is hard -- which makes sense, and Larissa V said that Russian is full of these crazy (my word not hers) endearments like "Little Dove" and even "Little Falcon". That one kills me, little falcon. Also "little father" and "little mother" for people who -- er-- aren't parents. I noticed that Mitya in Brothers Karamazov was called "little father" (presumably "batushka") a lot, when he was, I understand, neither little nor a father. Discuss. Just kidding. Please don't discuss it.

Anyway, The Idiot is wonderful, and it has a stylish cover to boot -- all kind of cool and edgy. If I weren't a technopeasant I would show it to you, but you'll just have to trust me, or go find it yourself. The book is all about this totally virtuous young man who also happens to be a prince, but to him this seems to be no more interesting or important than having green eyes or a cowlick. I'm only two chapters in and I already just love this character. If you read BK and feel bereft of Alyosha after you're finished, Prince Myshkin is just the ticket. Ah, virtuous men. But I'll stop there.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I'm Back!

. . .if anyone still cares. I have to work right now (icons and more icons) but I will return later to put up something amusing/interesting/edifying (I almost typed "deifying" -- that would have been a pretty tall order!)

Okay, see you soon, orthobloggers.