Thursday, May 27, 2010

Marginalia by Billy Collins

I am all moved in to my summer place, though still sorting out the internet thing. I've been watching far too many Jane Austen movies and making soap. In the spirit of this, I'm breaking my poetry prohibition. Here's a fantastic poem by Billy Collins about things one finds scribbled in the margins of books.
Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -
"Nonsense." "Please!" "HA!!" -
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
why wrote "Don't be a ninny"
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's.
Another notes the presence of "Irony"
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
"Absolutely," they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
"Yes." "Bull's-eye." "My man!"
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written "Man vs. Nature"
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird signing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page-
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake's furious scribbling.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil-
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet-
"Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Silence is Falling

Unfortunately this is not a Doctor Who post. I'm sorry it's been so quiet this week, but I am staying with some mad relatives that have no internet. This entry is written from my car in a location where I've found a vague signal. It comes and goes and besides, it's very warm in here. Hopefully I'll find a more permanent base, I may be here a while.
Those of you that know me in person are party to what led me to this sanctuary and I'll talk to you all soon.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lena Horne

Last week Lena Horne died at age 92. On Friday NPR featured her on their "Fresh Air" program. I know it's a tad late, but as a classic film enthusiast I want to mention it. Watch her perform one of my favorite songs here.
Tomorrow I'm going to see the new Robin Hood movie which I'll post a review of that on Tuesday, afterward it may be a few days until I can post again, but never fear.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lennon Naked

Especially for Sega, if she ever wanders by:
Christopher Eccleston (the 9th Doctor) will be playing John Lennon in a new bio pic, Lennon Naked along with Naoko Mori and Claudie Blakley. Though the only time frame I could find was "coming soon," it will be playing on BBC 4 as apart of their Fatherhood Season. The film will apparently take place between 1969 and 1971 when Lennon's own father came back into his life for a brief time.
If and when this will ever come to the US is questionable. There probably will be web resources for overseas viewers however.
Who fans may recognize Mori from her appearance in 2005's "The Aliens of London" with Eccleston and Blakley will be a familiar face to fans of Pride and Prejudice 2005, Cranford and Gosford Park as well as many other British period pieces (even the recent Bright Star).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

I am never around to do Teaser Tuesday, so I thought I'd do one today while I'm here.
It is from White Noise by Don DeLillo the end of the sixth chapter.
"All plots tend to move deathward. This is the nature of plots. Political plots, terrorist plots, lovers' plots, narrative plots, plots that are part of children's games. We edge nearer death every time we plot. It is like a contract that all must sign, the plotters as well as those who are the targets of the plot."
Is this true? Why did I say it? What does it mean?

I'm only 70 odd pages in, but it's very intriguing. It's the first book I'm tackling from my summer reading list. I'll post a review when I'm finished. This novel has been recommended to me by several people and according to his address at the media conference in March, Terry Moran was a fan of DeLillo's back in the 80s. I'm not sure if he still is, he didn't say.
My friend Lynn over at Books, Ink, and Yarn is admirer of the book as well.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Comfort Read: I Capture the Castle

After an 8 am final (yes, a final at 8 am on a Saturday, not good if you don't live on a college campus), I needed to relax. The best solution I found was a hot bath and one of my favorite novels, I Capture the Castle. I'm surprised it's not more well known. Written by Dodie Smith, author of the famous children's book One Hundred and One Dalmatians, it tells the story of a family living in a deteriorating old castle in the English countryside during the 1930s. Cassandra is the 17 year old protagonist/narrator. Her father is an eccentric writer who hasn't published anything since his first novels' success over a decade ago and they are now living in "genteel poverty". Their landlord's rich American family comes to take over the estate and Cassandra's older sister Rose is determined to marry one of them.
Though incredibly simple in its premise the story is told in such a beautiful way, Cassandra's narration feels so familiar as she records her daily observations. It quietly explores what it means to grow up and how your relationships change with the people you love. Certain moments are extremely funny as well.
Everyone I've recommended it to has found something to love about it. Every time I read it I find a new nuance, or connect differently to a different character. There was a film of it made in 2003 which was pretty decent, but leaves out a few characters and doesn't fully express Cassandra's internal self as well as the book. Essentially: read it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Colin Meloy Procrastination

While procrastinating -or as I like to call it- searching for inspiration I stumbled upon Colin Meloy's Twitter. Colin Meloy is singer/songwriter/guitarist of one of my favorite bands: The Decemberists. I loved this quote pulled from two of his tweets:

"John Keats would've had a very different view of romantic love if he'd have witnessed newly cohabitating couples picking out sofas at IKEA.
….Pillowed upon my fair love's ripening breast, To feel for ever its soft fall and swell, like a plush Klubbo & matching Skog"

He makes fun of Ikea and references Keats. Wow.
I have to go finish a research paper, make up a journalism portfolio, study my notes on World War Two and significant media studies of the 20th century and take care of my cats and my crazy family. Or... I could just procrastinate some more.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Star Wars Day?

As a reluctant sci-fi geek, I feel compelled to mention that today is what is often acknowledged as "Star Wars Day" or "Luke Skywalker Day." I must mention it if for nothing other than the fact that my older brother and I would spend days in the summer watching all three movies in a row and eating Spaghettios out of the can when I was about seven. Ah, childhood.
Today is the May the 4th which makes a clever little pun "May the fourth be with you."
Though according to Wikipedia, attempts to create a Jedi church have failed and no group other than hardcore Star Wars fans celebrates the holiday, it is still a pop culture mini-phenomenon.
In Los Angeles the city council declared May 25th Star Wars Day (the 25th was the release date of A New Hope back in '77). However, the 25th is also known as "Geek Pride Day" and "Towel Day".
Though I can't speculate what special activities one would do on Geek Pride Day, fans of Douglas Adams carry towels around on Towel Day.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Poetry Recovery Month?

As Jane Austen said:
“She thought it was the misfortune of poetry to be seldom safely enjoyed by those who enjoyed it completely; and that the strong feelings which alone could estimate it truly were the very feelings which ought to taste it but sparingly”

In other words, too much poetry is not a good thing when it comes to being sensible. (ooh... is this a debate between sense and sensibility? I digress.)
So this month I am dedicating myself to reading a healthy amount of prose to counteract all the romantic notions I've probably got in my head after a month of so very much poetry. So, I'll be getting a jump on my summer reading. The title of my list this year is "Don't be so ignorant." Things I've been meaning to read, have heard referenced constantly, and really should know being an English major. Although there are some European authors on the list (like James Joyce), I'm going to try and fill the deficit in my knowledge of American literature. I have never read The Great Gatsby. I know. My shame is deep.
Now what book to dive into first?
Oh, and I did call my grandmother (see post below). She was delighted and assures me that I won't need to remind her about the program, this she'll remember. Sometimes she calls me by my brother's name, but this, she'll remember. Ah well, it'll brighten her summer.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Masterpiece Mystery Preview

I am not a huge mystery fan. My grandmother would pour over the works of Agatha Christie and others, my mother would watch Murder, She Wrote every week, but it has never been my genre. However, I've been reading some of the classic Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories and find I'm enjoying it.
After the conclusion of Small Island last week I saw this trailer for the new season of Masterpiece Mystery.
Very curious... "a Sherlock Holmes for our times." What little information I could scrape together from a press release makes it sound as though it is Sherlock Holmes from Doyle's novels somehow brought to modern London. I can't even speculate. What I do know is this: Benedict Cumberbatch of Small Island is playing Holmes and Steven Moffat of Doctor Who is the head writer. So wibbley-wobbley timey-whimey events could very well be occuring. They don't have the new Holmes on their schedule yet, but they also promise a new Wallander mystery this season which isn't on the schedule yet either.
They are also featuring "Six by Agatha" from May 23th through July 25th with stories of Miss Marple and Poroit, some of her most beloved characters. I'll have to call my grandmother and let her know.
Foyle's War is tonight at nine on most stations.