Monthly Archives: July 2007

Eric gave his notice at Freescale on Friday.  His last day is the17th, the day after his birthday.   Classes at ASU start on the 20th.  He’s still working out his class schedule.  In one case, he’s had to go speak to a prof in order to get around a statistics prereq.  He figured that being an engineer and having a very strong background in math and economics was probably good enough.  The prof agreed.

Unfortunately, our Aug. 16th dental appointment will have to be postponed until we get a few things straightened out.  I really should get going on my glasses, although I might do just as well using an out of network place like Nationwide.  Would have done it months ago if it weren’t such a hassle.

So, yeah, life’s gonna change in the next month.

The three hours until I can go play disc cannot pass fast enough.  If it weren’t finals and I was bent on ensuring decent beer for after, I would go ahead to open.  Surprisingly, my back feels good.  Not surprisingly, my brain is mush.  I’m juggling some plot bits and ignoring some details that need to be changed.  I will be very, very disappointed if we’re rained out tonight.

And I must say something about the weather.  It’s been lovely.  Since last Thursday night, it’s been regularly cloudy / stormy.  Highs in the low 100s without the intensity of the BBOFF*.  There’s a thunder storm going on as I write!  It looks like the rest of the month might be this way.  Very nice.

* Big Ball Of Fuckin’ Fire, aka the sun.

LA Times Sneak Peek at ‘Beowulf’ – Cinematical
It’s like a car accident: I just can’t look away. As much as I loath Beowulf screen adaptations, I am compelled to investigate them. Though I think what bugs me the most is the insistence that This Is Beowulf, and not just some other made up Old English tale.

FIRST LOOK: ‘Beowulf’ comes to the screen – Los Angeles Times

Angelina Jolie’s lips look even fuller than usual. She’s emerging naked from a pool of dank cave water, rivulets of gold streaming gently down her body.

Giiiif meee sonnnn,” she coos, in an Old English accent.

Her flaxen hair is braided down her back in a long tail that slowly undulates and slaps the dark pool around her. She continues to purr enticements about making babies as a virtual camera circles 360 degrees panning around her long limbs and waist. Gold dribbles down her inner thighs past her feet, revealing sharp stilettos merged with bestial hooves.

This would be Grendel’s mother. Described in the
Heaney translation as:
line 1259, “monstrous hell-bride”
line 1278, “grief-racked and ravenous, desperate for revenge.”

Adapted from the oldest story in the English language, “Beowulf” is a hyper violent and highly sexualized tale of the warrior Beowulf (Ray Winstone) who must slay the monster Grendel (Crispin Glover). Later, Grendel’s mother (Jolie) seduces Beowulf so that she can produce a replacement heir that will allow her to reestablish her dominion over the kingdom.

That’s not Beowulf. There’s no sex in Beowulf. There’s nothing to Grendel’s mother aside from revenge and huger. Hunger for food, that is. I suppose Beowulf being attacked, drug underwater, unshirted, attacked by sea beasts, and finding his sword to be useless *could* be sexy. But I’ve never gotten that feel. I guess it could be that when put up against an aggressive female that Beowulf is taken advantage of and left with a…uh…useless sword, but that’s a very 21st century reading of a 10th century manuscript.

After poring over dozens of translations of the historic Anglo-Saxon epic poem, best known as required reading by high school and college English students across the country, screenwriters Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary started translating the 3,183 lines of heroic poetry into cinematic language in May 1997.

What they delivered is a story of a brave and heroic young hero (Winstone) who makes small personal compromises that don’t seem hugely important along the path to his dreams but ultimately catch up to him.

That’s really not what I’ve found in my readings of Beowulf either. In general, Beowulf is a pretty good guy. He’s gracious and a good ruler when he finally takes the throne of his homeland. His only fault is at the age of 65+ he decides to go slay a dragon instead of leaving it to a younger man. Like Hrothgar did when Beowulf showed up to fight Grendel. It’s a hubris tale, that’s it. Hubris tales are good, but lately forgotten.

[Winstone’s] knack for a good scrap is on show in one of the film’s pivotal fight scenes when Beowulf battles Grendel in the nude, mano a beast-o. (“Bob asked if he had to be nude, but we said, ‘It’s in the poem,’ ” Gaiman explained.) So in a crafty bit of staging to allow a PG-13 rating, Beowulf’s naughty bits are obfuscated by random objects in the foreground.

Firstly, aw man! But secondly, no, that’s not really in the book either. According to Heaney’s translation, beginning at line 671:

He began to remove his iron breast-mail,
took off the helmet and handed his attendant
the patterned sword, a smith’s masterpiece,
ordering him to keep the equipment guarded.

“When it comes to fighting, I count myself
as dangerous any day as Grendel.
So it won’t be a cutting edge I’ll wield

…No weapons, therefore
for either this night…”

Not nekkid, just unarmored and more importantly unarmed. Because really, it’s not good to go into a fight with your soft sensitive bits hanging out.

Yeah, fine.  I’ll get to work now.

My back has been causing me grief lately.  It’s been making disc less fun.  Play today was okay, nothing special.  The best cut I made was actually not a cut, but a matter of simply stopping.  Throws were…meh.

Eric finished reading what we have of Divine Fire.  Seems that he’s overall fairly happy with what we got.  There’s obviously bits that need work.  Will I finally break the 50K mark this month?  Umm…  Probably not.  I’m cutting a bunch out of Ricard’s morning and adding little back in.

*** * *** * *** * *** * ***

Book #17 – Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

I think I bought this book the first time in college, never read it,  and have since left it at my parent’s house.  I decided to read it now due to mention in King’s Danse Macabre.  I then ordered it from PaperbackSwap, forgot I ordered it, and borrowed it from the library…

I wish I didn’t know the end of this book.  It’s become such an iconic movie moment that it’s impossible to avoid it if you’re a horror movie buff.  I haven’t actually seen the movie, just a clip of the end.  The twist of this book was ruined for me, although I could still appreciate the effort Levin puts forth to set it up.  I just can’t evaluate whether that twist really works as a twist.  For me, the ending was crystal clear the whole time.  As Stephen King mentions in the intro to the edition I have, it is well plotted, if in my opinion simply plotted. 

The writing is unadorned.  Levin is a teller, showing only the details that are very important and letting the reader fill in the rest.  Knowing the difference is what makes this style work.  Suspense-wise, Levin relies on the sharp shock more than driving fear.  On the surface of Rosemary’s Baby everything is just fine until Levin gives a little disconcerting shock.  And then moves on.  He doesn’t linger too long.  He doesn’t give us too much reason to doubt that everything is still just fine.  I like that it takes a while for Rosemary to start asking questions about what’s going on.  She has no reason to be paranoid.  She’s got her own problems.  She’s a south Omaha girl in New York, after all.

Blinded by Science: Fictional Reality | Technology | DISCOVER Magazine

First, sounds like Bruno Maddox was hanging out in the in the con suite during the day. While this *might* be where you find the best conversation, the hotel bar (and surrounding bars) at night is where you want to go to see the “cool kids.” He might have tried talking to some of the writers hovering around the bean dip.

Second, is Maddox suggesting that every thing that Verne and Wells wrote was gold, while today’s writers only write tin? While Verne reportedly worked out the hard science of the moon shot, was every story he wrote proven scientifically as a prognostic masterwork? I haven’t read all of Verne, but I think the answer is probably no. And I suspect, Verne and Wells, gods that they may be, did the equivalent of eating out of the package at some point in their lives.

Third, he’s right. Science fiction is *fiction*. Most of it is less than plausible. Most science fiction is how the society/individuals of the story deal with a fictional science scenario. That’s what science fiction has always been. Maddox is wrong when he says that a 300-word op-ed piece that is “fact” does a better job of conveying the Big Ideas. If that were the case, we all refer to Mary Shelly’s op-eds instead of _Frankenstein_.

The Sin of High School English Class (or Why I Hate Classic Literature) « Musings of the Great Eric
Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Book #16 – The Shining by Stephen King

This is a reread for me with the original reading well in the past.  Probably high school.  I read quite a bit of Stephen King in high school, looking to see what all the fuss was about.  I found that I liked his shorter works and his “non-horror” works like The Body.  Of his novels, I was not impressed.  They  used many of the same pieces over and over between books and ended in rather unsatisfactory ways.  (I remember finishing It…  It’s a…what?  What?!?  In retrospect, It shares common ground with Straub’s Ghost Story.  I digress…)  Of King’s novels that I read, I liked The Shining the best.  It was a haunted house story, after all. 

Style-wise, I’ve gone on about how effective repetition is for building tension on  a micro sentence level.  Interestingly, what King does in The Shining is uses repetition on a macro plot level.  We are told the stories in this novel time and time again.  We hear them second hand from people removed from the action and  we experience them as the memories, dreams, and visions of characters.  When the time comes to experience them with the characters, we know what’s going to happen, but the tension is still there.  Maybe because the reader isn’t convinced of the outcome of the stories.  It works, though you won’t think it would.

If you don’t know the book already.

The thing I disliked most about The Shining then and now is the rescue by Hallorann.  My memory of it then is that Hallorann’s appearance was abrupt and out-of-the-blue.  It isn’t.  King sets it all up.  And that’s what bugged me this time around.  The narrative flow of the events in the hotel come to a screeching every time King cuts to Hallorann.  Some it, I don’t think we need.  I can see that King wants to give us a notion of how hard it is for Hallorann to get back, but to leave the claustrophobic terror of the hotel…  I don’t know.  I might have been interesting to see some of that through some sort of communication with Danny.  Wouldn’t it have been interesting to have the uncertainty of Hallorann making it to the hotel come from whether the visions Danny is having are accurate or not?