Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Because Winter Soldier

I'm still not done with this book, but here's a playlist I made because I'm so excited about Winter Soldier.  Better blog posts to come, one can hope.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A poor choice?

I started "Death At Sea World" a little while ago, and I have to say, I'm concerned I may have made a mistake.  The information that is the heart and soul of the book is vital, interesting, and compelling.  The information the author tends to focus on relaying in these first few chapters is tedious and boring.  I feel like I've heard several people's life stories, about their college years and their childhoods.  I bought this book because I wanted to read about orcas in captivity and in the wild, and the difference between their lifestyles, life expectancies, and their behaviors.

I understand there's an ongoing story that needs to be told, but I feel like large amount of my time is being frittered away on inconsequential details.  The pertinent information to establish this person's credibility could have been given in a paragraph, and there are several chapters of the book about different marine biologists realizing that's what they want to do as children and then going to college.

Another thing that struck me as silly is that the author wrote an account of Tilikum's life from his point of view, asking the readers to put themselves in his place.  That whale has thoughts and feelings, but there's no way I could infer them.

I have to say, I'm not thrilled with this book so far, which is a shame because I really thought I was going to get sucked into it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

I haven't read any good love stories lately, so rather than waxing poetic, I thought I'd give you a Valentine's Day gift.  My top ten favorite love songs.  I'm not going to include any of the love songs I like that aren't generally positive, because it's flippin' Valentine's Day, nobody wants a downer on Valentine's Day.

10.  "That'll be the Day," by Buddy Holly.  I love this song, because it tries to pull one over on listeners.  It sounds like he's incredulous that she could even leave him, but really he's stating it'd make him really sad.  Very cute.

9.  "Elephant Love Medley," from Moulin Rouge.  I'm cheating, this isn't single love song, it's a string of them.  It's fun to sing along, and I've always loved this story.  I like the changes they made to "Heroes."  Very sweet, and even better to watch.

8.  "God Only Knows," by the Beach Boys.  True confession, I love the Beach Boys.  And even if I didn't, I love this song.  So sentimental.  Practical and dramatic at the same time.

7.  "Your Song," by Elton John.  This song is so completely romantic.  There's generally a theme of poverty in my favorites, isn't there?  The idea of reacting to how much you love a person by creating good art, that's lovely.  That's real.  I really hope this song really was for someone special, because if it were me, I would for sure have told everybody that was my song.  Amazing.

6.  "For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her,"  by Simon & Garfunkel.  This song is really gorgeous.  Listen to the instrumentation.  "We walked on frosted fields of juniper and lamplight.  I held your hand."  There's not much there in terms of romantic meaning, but it is so powerful.  I could drown in this song.

5.  "Unchained Melody," as performed by the Fleetwoods.  I've always loved this song because it's fun to sing.  It's wistful and dreamlike.  Nobody else sings it quite like this.

4.  "I Can't Give You Anything But Love (Baby)," as performed by Billie Holiday.  There's that theme of poverty again.  I love Billie Holiday, such an interesting lady.  And she had pipes, too!  Very sweet song.

3.  "Can't Fight This Feeling," by REO Speedwagon.  I love this song so much.  Is it a guilty pleasure?  I don't know.  But I always see this as a love song for two very tough classic rock loving people who just kind of click together.  This makes me want to watch a movie about two dudes in a biker gang who slowly realize they've got feelings for each other.  That would be adorable.  When I saw Rock of Ages it blew my mind because it basically did most of what I ever wanted to see with that song.

2.  "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," by the Police.  This is one of those that's more about the melody for me than it is about the lyrics, but it does have some very pretty lyrics.  I love how appreciative this song is of its subject.  And it's the Police, what's not to like?

1.  "Such Great Heights," by the Postal Service.  I love the repetitive groaning in the background.  I know that's ridiculous to say.  The lyrics of this one are the high point for me, although I can't articulate what it is I like about them.  They're dreamy and abstract, they negotiate the language of romance in a way that speaks to me.  And that repetitive groaning is soothing in a way you might not expect.

So, that's my top ten.  Here's a playlist that features all my favorites for you to enjoy and/or share with your honey.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The case against Seaworld.

I've been pretty down lately.  I'm not sure how much of that is Wuthering Heights, how much is the reduction in calories consumed, and how much is the mild seasonal illness I'm experiencing.  Perhaps it's just a mood I'm in, or the weather.  All I know is I've been sad.  And my favored reaction to sadness is distraction.  This time, I'm going to read a book called "Death At SeaWorld."  I've been wanting to read it for a while.

Before I get too far into the reading process, some groundwork.

Hi, I'm Rochelle, and I'm anti-cap.

Captivity is wrong for orcas and dolphins.  They're too large for the tanks their kept in.  They're too intelligent to be happy in captivity.  They are sentient and self aware.  They're social animals that should not be separated from their families.  Imagine having to live with a simi random assortment of strangers.  They have cultures that SeaWorld either doesn't respect or doesn't understand.  Distinctive calls, eating habits, and hunting strategies, all disregarded.  Unimportant.

Their lives are greatly shortened.  Their families are broken apart.  They're forced to live with other whales they hate.

There are a hundred great reasons we shouldn't put orcas and dolphins in captivity and zero reasons it's a good idea to keep them in concrete tanks.

I love orcas.  I will almost certainly never see an orca.  And that's okay.  I don't want to see an orca that has to suffer pain and separation and an early death for me to see it.  I do not need to see one personally to know that they exist out in the ocean somewhere, and to care what happens to them.

Did you know that dolphins have names?  Not names like Takina or Flipper.  Names they came up with themselves.  Names human beings can't pronounce.  Let's study things like that.  Let's send boats out into the wild to record their calls.  Let's not take prisoners.

Did you know dolphins recognize their own faces in a mirror?  They pass the mirror test.  They recognize their own bodies.

Nonhuman persons.  We don't need space aliens, intelligent life is here.  It's in elephants, it's in orcas, it's in dolphins, it's in gorillas, and there are many others.

I'm not a vegetarian.  I know dolphins aren't special magical angels that are only good.  But I do believe it's wrong to eat people.  I do believe it's wrong to keep people against their will.

And so, for my next reading option, I'm reading "Death at SeaWorld."  I'm going into this experience with some background knowledge from various research I've done into orcas and dolphins as well as having seen Blackfish and paid attention to the news during the initial incidents.  More thoughts to come as I take in this particular work on the topic.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

And whether they wander the moors...

There were certain preconceived notions working against me in reading this book.  Although I was told beforehand that there were no likeable characters within it, I didn't take this to heart.  Heathcliff and Catherine are classic characters, I told myself.  Surely, they have some good qualities, or else why would people carry on about them?

Heathcliff is truly repulsive by the end of this novel, and I found myself relieved when he was dead.  The manner in which he treated Catherine Jr. (the daughter of his romantic interest) was so reprehensible that any sympathy I had for him quickly vanished.  He was selfish and hateful, and no matter how deeply he claimed to love Catherine, to treat her daughter that way was repugnant.  Love for her should have motivated him to help her daughter rather than lash out at her as though she were an extension of her father.  I suppose even in life Catherine did not have the hold over him she supposed she did, or else he would not have married against her wishes.

The part I appreciated about the ending most greatly was the failure to confirm that any such ghosts attended the moors as Catherine Linton and Heathcliff, and in fact such a notion is largely dismissed by the narrator.  Heathcliff desired the grave, and he acquired it, and there he lay quietly as all men do.  To die and be buried beside someone is no sweet reunion.  Far better to spend your time with your loved ones in life and in memory than to wish for death, for there is no guarantee of awakening anew.  I greatly understand his loneliness and regret, but it did not excuse his behavior.

I suppose the final verdict for me in the case of this book is that occasionally it entrusted the story to as many of as three narrators at once, which is excessive.  I did have occasion to look up a few words in this novel, which was luckily considerably shorter than the last I read.  Wuthering, by the by, is a roaring sound, such as made by the wind, which is an apt name for a book with such a setting.

It was a wearying read, which I am relieved to finish.  I liked it fairly well, though I will never read it again so long as it isn't required of me.  It appealed to my own melancholy too greatly.

For my next blog post, I aspire to happier topics.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

She begs I let her in, though I dare not

I must say, Emily Bronte has succeeded in manipulating me.  This book is all feeling and little logic, though it provoked me quite well without it.

Imagine me, curled up with my Nook in the lonely darkness of the lake house, scanning the screen and despairing in pity for each of the mad fools Emily has designed.  My mother remarked on what a poor place it was to partake in such literature, but I felt it fitted the purpose of the narrative.  I allowed myself to empathize with the madness of each player in their role.

I understood why Catherine made her choice, though it was certainly a choice in folly.  If she'd only reflected that Heathcliff was most dear to her, she would have spared many people a great deal of misery.  She could have married him, and they would have struggled, but he more than proved there was means for them to survive.  She would still have been mad, but maybe less mad if her protestations were true.  Alas, she elected a more traditional path and doomed them all. 

I pitied Heathcliff the most, though he is monstrous.  He certainly was detestable in his behavior, and here I mean his treatment of his wife and of Hareton.  I don't believe he was meant to be wicked from the start, I think if he'd been treated with kindness after the death of his foster father he might have turned out normal.

I think Hindley's madness caused a great bit of the awfulness in the book, between his drunken rages and his own selfish bitterness about Heathcliff.

And what is with Nelly Dean?  She sits down and tells a totally stranger the whole history of this tragic family of fools.

I'm only about 90% finished with the book.  I've enjoyed it, if enjoyed means allowed it to torment me for several hours.  It has all the tragedy and loss of Gatsby or The Count of Monte Cristo and an additional depth of hopelessness.  At times it gives me pangs of futility.  I must persevere, as I have yet to learn whether the specter at the beginning is truly the dark spirit of Heathcliff's lost love or whether it is merely an apparition resulting from the very sort of late night morbidity in which I am indulging.

I can only hope I do not invite in fearful visions of my own.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Let's learn to speak High Valyrian!

So, I'm only a couple of chapters into Wuthering Heights.  I've enjoyed what I've read so far.  I'll get back to that when I've read more.

But here's something interesting related to A Song of Ice and Fire.  How would you like to learn a Conlang?

I would like to learn to speak a Conlang.  I've thought about learning to speak Quenya or Klingon in the past because I'm that kind of nerd, but I definitely don't have the Klingon persona down.  And while Quenya is pretty and interesting, but as the man says, it's not a complete language.

I would like to learn some High Valyrian, because I mean (spoilers)

But how would one go about doing that?  I mean, it's easy enough to find a tutorial in Dothraki.

But so far I haven't found many tutorials in High Valyrian.  Probably because they haven't been speaking High Valyrian as much on the show?  I don't know?  There are some websites one can go to for words in High Valyrian.
Valyrian Numerals
High Valyrian Vocabulary

I'm not a linguist, so I have no idea how the pronunciation would work.  There are some videos on Youtube that go over pronunciation of syllables.

Hopefully there will be some more practical tutorials in the future.  Interesting stuff!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights.  This is one of those books I've never read but my mother has described to me at length.  This song popped up on one of my Spotify stations, and now I'm curious.  I'm putting Wuthering Heights on my reading list.

I want to point out that this video is incredibly creepy in a subtle way.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Weeks later, I've finally finished "A Feast For Crows."

And here's what I thought about it:

This book was LONG.  It was in the neighborhood of a thousand pages.  This is probably the longest book I've ever read.  I've probably read series shorter than this.  And the book was originally much, much longer, and he cut it in half!  I don't know how George R.R. Martin manages to write so prolifically and pack so much plot into the books.  I mean, there is filler, but it's hard to tell what isn't important, there are so many important things.  And I've talked to other people who've read the books, and the things that stood out as important to me were things they didn't remember well.

I think I know who Jon Snow's mother is, and my theory is my favorite thing about the books.

I support house Targaryen's claim to the iron throne.

I still hate Cersei Lannister.  I've also decided she's stupid.

HOUSE MARTELL.  Oh my gosh, if you haven't read these books, go do it.  I'll wait here.  House Martell is legit amazing, I love every last one of those characters.  I had to stop and hug my book at the end of Arienne's last chapter.  THAT FAMILY.  I'm amazed.

I love this world so much, I've bought supplies to cosplay Lyanna Stark.  And after that, I want to do Elia Martell.  Because Starks and Martells, lovelies.

A Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire is now my main fandom.

I'm going to have to pick a shorter book for my blog next time, though, because this took forever.

<3  Can't wait for April.