20.4.06

Annoyances

Yet another good book poorly edited. This time, it's A.N. Wilson's London: "An unsuccessful attempt to buy shares in the Bank of England and stage a Tory takeover bid failed."

You read that and tell me if your brain doesn't hurt.

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16.4.06

Notable Quotes

I think about how I, too, need to move on, remake myself. If my body were a house, I'd get rid of all the things no longer used or needed. I'd furnish myself only with things that work well. I'd be clean, spare, filled with light. I'd be square, sturdy, thick-timbered, with shining floors. I'd tell people to leave me alone, long enough for me to get settled. I'd look out of my own windows and see deep valleys filled with golden-leaved beech trees....

I need to find clarity inside myself. I need to stop allowing other people, or circumstances, to set my agenda. I must not care about what people think -- either of me or of what I do. I need to find the strength to do what I want to do. I am in the habit of smothering myself, hiding, as if who I am is somehow shameful....

Self-worth: the need to get a grade, to make the 'A' on the paper, in order to believe in myself. That is outside affirmation. Where is my own yardstick? What is it about myself that I like, that I care about, that I believe is good? What is the basis of self-love from which I can give love? It's time for me to learn that I'm the only one qualified to judge myself.


Beth Powning, Edge Seasons

The other night

I did, in the end, go to Boston to hear the BSO's concert in honor of my great-grandfather. It was a trek, and I'm exhausted. Even though I stayed with a cousin in Shrewsbury (about an hour closer to MPOW than Boston proper), I still went to bed too late (midnight-ish), woke up too early (4:30am) and didn't get a whole lot of sleep. Still, I'm really glad I went. It was fun seeing some of my extended family, getting all glammed out for the occasion and doing something totally out of my normal range of daily life. But that's not what you're interested in, is it? 

You don't care about which cousin is doing what, or how the mistakes got into the profile of my great-grandfather, or even who-all was there. You want to know about the music. The concert. The important stuff. Assuming you're not a member of my family, of course, in which case you don't care about the concert, you want the details. Well...

The first piece was a little... challenging is the only word I can use. I don't like music that makes me think too hard. I'm not talking about the type of thinking where you ponder the use of a particular instrument, or key, or theme. I'm not talking about the type of thinking where you're transported by some fragment or chord. I'm talking about the type of thinking that says, "I really don't get this piece and why anyone would play it. Maybe I'm too stupid to enjoy it." Because, despite my lack of knowledge about Classical Music, I'm usually not too stupid to enjoy it. But this piece ("Nymphea Reflection" by Saariaho) really made me question that assumption. It sounded (to me, and my untutored ear) like a piece that would be so much better underlying a ballet, or as a movie score. But alone, it just didn't quite work for me. 

The next piece was Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, with Piotr Anderszewski. He was really wonderful to watch. Over the past few years, I've gotten to know (and love) some classical pianists, many of whom you'll get to know and love as they mature, and while I'm not an expert, I think I have a sense of their abilities and talents. He was one of the best. Not just technically, although that really does count in this particular field, but emotionally. All the men in the orchestra, and the conductor, wore white tie. Very snazzy and elegant. He, on the other hand, wore a tux with a crew-neck grey sweater underneath. Very trendy and casual. And that summed up his attitude. Other pianists I've seen look as though they're deep in concentration when they're listening to the orchestra do its thing. He looked like he was mentally bopping his head in time with the music, a small smile playing on his face. When he played, he looked relaxed and happy and playful: not the norm. Usually there's intensity, showmanship. Not here. It made for a great performance. 

After the intermission, there were two pieces by Sibelius. Now, I don't know about you, but when I hear the phrase "tone poem", my mind just goes [insert squeal and sound of mental feet running far, far away here]. So you just know I wasn't in the mood. Boy, was I wrong. "The Bard", part of the same suite that gave us "Finlandia", is really quite nice. And short. 

The final piece, the Symphony No. 3 in C, was, well, good but a bit of a letdown after the fun of Beethoven and the pleasant surprise of "The Bard." 

Sadly, now it's back to my normal, lazylife and lazyroutine. Unless someone out there takes pity on me and comes up with another crazy "you'll regret it if you don't go" idea for a night out.

10.4.06

Notable Quotes

You will say Christ saith this, and the apostles say this, but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of Light and hast thou walked in the Light, and what thou speakest is it inwardly from God?
Margaret Fell

8.4.06

Death of a community

Ok, so it's really two communities, and two near-deaths. But that's not as "grabby" as the header, so tough.

Yesterday I went to a meeting of my local school librarian's association. I'd previously worked on the Board for many years, editing the newsletter and helping set up the website and elists. Three years ago, I decided that I couldn't give my all to the Board work (partly because I was sick, and partly because I'd started doing a lot of work Knowledge Quest). But I still care deeply about the local organization and want it to do well. It hasn't. Member participation is low, the newsletter is almost defunct, the website is a travesty rather than a resource, rules and procedures are rarely followed, etc.. That saddens me. What saddens me more is that I'm apparently the only one that's upset by this. The President even said so, adding that it's difficult for people to be involved in this day and age. No one responds to e-mails, surveys, etc.. The association seems to be near-death.

I've belonged to an on-line booklovers community for almost ten years, following it from one site to another and various permutations. Again, member participation has dropped off, and the majority of people posting are involved with games and not book discussions. This is another group I care deeply about, and it's also in a near-death situation.

I know that people change, that interests and loyalties and commitments change. What's important one year is less so the next, and sometimes choices have to be made as to what you devote your time to. But successful communities have fresh blood, newcomers that can take the place of oldtimers, infusing the community with new energy and new ideas. I don't see that happening as much in these two "homes".

Sometimes I wonder if I'm this upset because it calls into question my judgment. It's like breaking up with someone: was it my fault? why am I the only one emotionally invested? why don't others care? if I'm it, maybe it's because I'm making wrong choices...

I know that the Boards of each place are invested: they care. But if the greater membership doesn't seem to, if participation and new blood aren't happening, there's a part of me that thinks "just pull the plug". Maybe, if they're not there, people will realize what they've lost and agitate to regroup/reform. And if no one does, then it's sad but it's part of learning and growing.

Today's maudlin thoughts are being brought to you by Lipton's Cup-o-Soup.

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5.4.06

Annoyances

I hate it when a good book is poorly edited. Case in point: Among the Gently Mad, by Nicholas Basbanes.

In it, Mr. Basbanes talks about the "role of the dice" rather than the "roll of the dice" (trust me - the context is clear that we're talking about rolling, not playing a part).

Not as good as the paper one of my students once handed in about Martian Luther King, Jr., but still...

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1.4.06

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Not too many read this quarter (only 22 books), thanks to the number of magazines I had to plow through. Picking up steam and ready to really plow through Mt. Bookpile next quarter, though!

Childrens/YA
  • Freaks and Shrieks, R.L. Stine The first of his stuff I've actually enjoyed; this series will be great for our 4/5 grade boys.
  • In the Land of the Lawn Weenies, David Lubar Again, good for 4/5 grade boys. Not so great for others.
  • Magic by the Book, Nina Bernstein Loved it. Great bibliofantasy.
  • The Owl Service, Alan Garner Not impressed: the plot was fuzzy and the action confusing. If I couldn't follow it clearly, I don't think the target audience will, either.
  • The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan Already raved about this one.
  • Upstream, Melissa Lion Wow. A really good book. I think my older kids will like this one, despite the rather somber subject matter.
  • The Wright 3, Blue Balliett Not a huge fan of Chasing Vermeer, but I can see where kids will like this sequel.
Fantasy

Fiction
  • A Lion in the Way, Elizabeth Cadell Good historical fiction, written from the point of view of a girl growing up in the Anglo-Indian community and the changes there between 1913 and 1929.
  • At Home in Mitford, Jan Karon I can see how Christian fiction appeals to some; good book, but I won't finish the series.
Mystery
  • Arthur & George, Julian Barnes The bad thing about finishing a Barnes book is waiting for the next one; this one fictionalizes a real event and brings it very much to life.
  • Gentlemen and Players, Joanne Harris A little disappointing, as I guessed the secret ages before it was revealed. Still, not a bad mystery.
  • The Graveyard Position, Robert Barnard Another series I think is wearing thin.
  • A Minister's Ghost, Phillip DePoy One of those "haven't quite decided if I like it" series... may give the next one a shot but maybe not.
  • A Question of Blood; Resurrection Men ; and Set in Darkness Ian Rankin Clearly, a series I am not getting tired of reading!
Non-Fiction
Reference


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