For Pete’s Sake…

I went to the ophthalmologist yesterday (unfortunately, I need new glasses). It was the first time I’ve been to him (meaning this specific doctor, not ophthalmologists in general). He has an optician connected to his practice and strongly encourages buying your glasses there.

So, he gave me a voucher, and I was like “hey, great, I’ve no problem with buying my glasses there, it’s not like I pledged allegiance to my optician!”. But then I looked more closely and saw that the voucher was for 10 Euros off, if spending more than 100 Euros. Which made me hesitate. I paid 80 Euros for the glasses I have now and I felt so bad about it, spending so much money I could spent on books or something, for something I care so little about. But hey, I look good with them.

Anyway. I figured I could spend as much money there as I would at my usual optical haunt and just forget about the voucher. I had a look at the glasses on display, while waiting for my prescription. And I started to feel really uncomfortable. The cheapest pair I saw there cost 169,- Euros. One hundred and fucking sixty-nine.

After my initial shock, I searched for the most expensive glasses. I needed to know. I did not search long for they were in the most prominent place. Designed by Daniel Swarovski, complete with Swarovski crystals everywhere, where they would fit. A stunning 1.279,- Euros. Let me repeat. One thousand two-hundred seventy-nine. And that’s without the glass itself, just the frame.

That’s more than I earn a month (after taxes).

I got my prescription and got the hell out of there, went to my usual optician, where I got new glasses for my old frame plus a complete new pair for less than 90,- Euros.

1.279. Kiss my ass.

[I told my mom about that (“MOOOOOOOOMMYYYY!!! Did you know that glasses could be this expensive?????”) and she told me about the one time she didn’t buy her glasses at her usual optician. (She, contrary to me, is farsighted.) She chose a nice pair, gave up a order for the glass and was told to pick them up a couple of days later. When she did, she almost had an heartattack – farsighted as she is, she couldn’t read the price and the whole thing cost her more than 500,- Euros. (As opposed to her usual 160,-)
I tell ya… I know my mum spends more on these things that I do, but that stunned me into silence. Again.]

[And then she told me about her first date with my dad. She wore those huge sunglasses that were modern at the time, with some of those twinkly glass stones in the frame. Later my dad confessed that he almost turned round again, when he saw her that day. He thought, “what kind of skank am I meeting here? She has diamonds in her glasses!”
You can be very happy that my dad’s more the calm and collected type. Otherwise he would have stormed off and I wouldn’t be here today… Though I bet you aren’t as happy as I am.]

Two Artsy Things

The first thing I’d like to show you, is the Little People – a tiny street art project:

Little handpainted people, left in London to fend for themselves

Here are some examples for that:

(Yeah, the little reddish-brown spot at the bottom of the mailbox is the small mailbox.)

There are many more pictures at the blog, it definitely is worth a visit!

For the other thing, I’d like to point you to Alex Ostrowski’s homepage. He’s a design student and shows off his really cool projects, like the communicone:

Communicone is a simple piece of communication technology. In the digital age it’s easy to forget how simple it can be to get in touch with one another. According to Marshall McLuhan’s theory of technological determinism, by releasing Communicone we should be able to find ourselves doing a bit more doodling / filling / swapping / amplifying / looking.

But also really cool books and cd covers and other things. Just go there and browse for a bit, if nothing else, I’ve rarely seen a homepage with such a nice, bright and refreshing color scheme.

Search Terms – a short best of the last week

The title probably says it all, so here we go [Things in brackets - like this - are my comments]:

dressing up amanda seyfried doll games [This is kind of disturbing.]
amazing things with frequencies [I bet there are loads...]
sexist gerard butler, elegy [Is that an elegy about the sexist side of Gerard Butler? Or did GB say that Elegy was sexist?]
rhett butlers people read it [They read what? And I'm pretty sure there should be an apostrophe after butler and before s.]
how to get questions asked on google [what do you want?]

Literary Links

Yeah, I’m still working on the reader link list that’s been accumulating. This time we have a shorter collection, with literary stuff. Hope you didn’t grow tired of that yet, I know I’ve been having quite a book focus these past days.

Have you ever heard of the Poetry Brothel? I wonder if that’s really as dirty as it sounds…

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of dirty, you might remember I posted about the 100 most banned books a while ago. While most of them were disappointingly clean and non-controversial (*sniff* I love me a good scandal), banning books is a really filthy act. Which is why there is the Banned Books Week. As this is a US event, I was wondering if there was anything I could do here in Austria to show my support. Do they have a ribbon? Or do you have any other ideas?

You’ve probably heard about the story of a job offer on craigslist for people to forge author signatures. I was surprised. Not by the job offer but that a) it was on craigslist and b) nobody had done this before. I always wondered about the signed copies you can buy, if it’s really the author’s signature. 
Anyway, I learned from the whole thing that Stephen King actually signs his books with his own blood if necessary.  

Oh, wow, I have only two links left now from my list and both aren’t book-related. So, anyone who isn’t as book crazy nerdy obsessed can rejoice, this blog will soon turn to different things again!

Too long?

So, I found this quote on Papercuts:

Finished “Anna Karenina” finally. Marvelous and all-encompassing, though less marvelous and less all-encompassing (can something be less all-encompassing?) than Proust, and too long, like Mahler’s Ninth. Both Tolstoy and Mahler say little in their leisurely span that can’t be said more tersely — although terser they wouldn’t be Mahler and Tolstoy. Everything’s too long. Webern is too long. This paragraph is too long.

It’s taken from Ned Rorem‘s diary and I love it. [As someone who read Anna Karenina, I can agree that I wouldn’t have minded some shortening. Although, at the time, the length didn’t disturb me as much as the infinite number of typos I found in my version. Never will buy anything from that publisher again.]

Anyway, the article on Papercuts goes on to asking the question, if there were some books which you wished were longer [not without saying that The Dark Knight was too long and bad, something with which I really can not agree]. An interesting question, I think.

They cite Atonement, which was wonderful and I can agree that I would have loved to hear more about Robbie and Cecilia and their love story. But then again, almost all Ian McEwan novels (that I’ve read so far) are too short.

Other books I can think of are

  • J. M. Coetzee‘s Boyhood [which is probably what he has done with Youth, but I haven’t read that one yet]
  • Oscar Wilde‘s Fairy Tales [either by including more tales or by expanding the existing ones. Or both]
  • Neil Gaiman‘s Coraline [although I know that it's a children's book and children's books are supposed to be short(er)]

That’s all I can think of right now. Any books you would like to see longer (or shorter)?

Breaking Dawn (Stephenie Meyer)

Breaking Dawn is the final book in the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer (not counting Midnight Sun, which will be the first book retold from Edward’s perspective).

I have to say that I’m disappointed. Unfortunately, ambre’s warning was too late – when she told me not to read the book, I had already started…

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

Breaking Dawn is divided into three books, first book told from Bella’s perspective, second from Jacob’s and third again from Bella’s. Going with Jake’s perspective for a while was a good idea, but unfortunately, Meyer didn’t manage to capture his voice, his language. There really wasn’t much of a difference between their narrating and their thoughts – like Bella pretended to be Jacob.

And then, the Deus ex machina solution for Bella’s behaviour as a new-born vampire. It’s never really explained, why she can control herself that well.
And of course she has to have amazing super powers that save the day.

I won’t get into the pregnancy issue that much so many people complained about, I actually thought that the explanation was okay.

But Jacob imprinting on Renesmee was plain wrong. Their thought that it was Renesmee all along, that’s why Jacob and Bella were drawn to each other - stupid. Especially since one of Jake’s friends imprinted on a girl he went to school with, but never noticed before. If the logic of the drawn-together thing holds up, Jake’s friend (I think it was Embry, but I’m not completely sure) would have had to feel some attraction toward that girl before.

And starting with a character assassination (Jacob) and then swerving around for no good reason and with no good explanation is somehow worse than going ahead and finishing the job.

[SPOILERS END]

I think Meyer tried too hard to give everybody a happy ending and in the end that ruined the book. Too many inconsistencies and too much magically going right.

GrammarNazis

Okay, I have a bit of a GrammarNazi-side to me, I admit it. I deeply enjoy every single Engrish thing I can find, I hurt when I see misplaced apostrophes and am subscribed to various blogs, which fulfill my need to laugh about those mistakes and misunderstandings.

But this might take it a bit too far: Two guys, calling themselves the Typo Eradication Advancement League, travelled across the US in the course of three months, with the goal to mend all public typos.

All was chronicled on a blog, of course, which turned out to be their downfall when it was discovered by investigators in the case of a defaced historic hand-painted sign at the Grand Canyon. (Crime solved by Googling.) After pleading guilty to conspiracy to vandalize government property—they had relocated a wayward apostrophe and inserted a comma—the young grammarians were barred from national parks for a year. [quote from the above link]

I don’t know, what I find weirder: that there’s actually a charge of “conspiracy to vandalize government property” or that this crime was solved by googling…

Reading List, for those of you interested:

Apostrophe Abuse
Apostrophism
Crummy Church Signs
Curious Signs
English Fail Blog
Engrish.com
GrammarBlog
Grammar Vandal
Literally
lowercase L
Silly Signs
That’s Punny
The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks

I’m sure there are many more. You’re welcome to leave links in the comment section. :)

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen‘s first novel (albeit published only after Sense and Sensibility) and the first novel I read by her. And it’s good. I know why it’s considered a classic.

Although I like Sense and Sensibility a bit better (judging from the movies), I figured I’d start with Pride and Prejudice, because I just saw the BBC version as well as the 2005 movie. [Yeah, I like Jane Austen a lot.] [And a combination between the two movies would be the perfect adaptation.]

Anyway, the story, I think, is widely known, I won’t dive into that right now. If you don’t know it, read the wiki article I linked to above.

Interesting to see the differences between the movie(s) and the book. The book leaves a lot of room for interpretation, mostly by having a lot of dialogue, without specifying how it is said.
So, for example, comparing the two movie version, I wondered, if Charlotte Lucas was actually happy. In the BBC version, she seems really very unhappy with her choice to marry Mr. Collins, in the 2005 movie she seems very content with her situation. And – as I see it in the book – the 2005 version is truer to the original. Charlotte pursues Mr. Collins and goes with seeing eyes into the marriage, knowing exactly what she’s going to get and being satisfied, even if not happy, to get just that. [Also she's 27, so she doesn't have much of a choice anymore.]

I was a bit disappointed in Mr. Bennet. I always really liked him and his sarcasm, and that’s not missing in the book, but reading about him, he seems more like an asshole. But still very funny.
And Mrs. Bennet, if that’s possible, is even more annoying in the book.
I always had the secret hope that despite their different tempers and characters and their constant annoying each other, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet actually liked each other, but the book made it very clear that it isn’t so.

I was surprised at how short the whole thing was. I suspected that the book had to be much longer to fit everything that was in the movie, but Austen writes mostly in scenes and describes a lot of things in a couple of sentences. I was really surprised, when the second ball took place already on page 24 (or so). [And I thought, I'd need a month to read it... a week was all it took.]

Summarising, a really good read.

Answering Questions Asked Through Google X

Today’s question is interesting [and had me laughing out loud when I first read it].

“what happened to william baldwin”?

William Baldwin, not as famous as brother Alec, but more famous than brother Stephen, and infinitely more famous than brother Daniel, is still an actor, and a rather productive one at that.

So, the short answer would basically be: Nothing happened to him.

And the long answer would be: he’s working on several projects right now, he’s still married, he fights with his brother Stephen over gay rights. He was recently seen in Dirty Sexy Money and Forgetting Sarah Marshall (where he was one of the few things actually worth seeing). And his next movie is going to be Sakura: Blue-Eyed Samurai (he’s not the Blue-Eyed Samurai, though).

Very Sad and Very Beautiful

Elegy is a film by Isabel Coixet, who brought us The Secret Life of Words two years ago, so it was not surprising for me that Elegy was really good. It is based on the novel The Dying Animal by Philip Roth (actually the third novel in a series revolving around David Kepesh), though I like Elegy as a title better.

The story is about aging professor David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley), who lives from fling to fling with his students, after a rather painful divorce 30 odd years ago. In one of his lectures he meets Consuela Castillo (Penélope Cruz), with whom he begins an affair. Despite of the warnings from his best friend, George O’Hearn (Dennis Hopper), David falls in love with Consuela, but can’t really change his ways. For example, he continues to see Carolyn (Patricia Clarkson), his fuck buddy. At the same time, the worn and difficult relationship he has with his son Kenneth (Peter Sarsgaard) gets tested in new ways.

As mentioned before, the movie is really very good. And it was so nice to see Ben Kingsley act again. I mean, really act, as in playing a believable character. Altogether, the acting was perfect, especially Patricia Clarkson, and more surprisingly Dennis Hopper.

The story is sad, there’s not much of a consolation to be had, anywhere. Which is why I think that Elegy is the better title (if the book is similar to the movie, which I don’t know, because I haven’t read it yet). It’s also hopelessly romantic, but in a very realistic way.

It definitely made me want to read the book, because of the wonderful narrative passages (which I think are direct quotes). And that’s always a good sign.