walkingshadow: anne taintor. it's not easy being easy. (his uncle was a crooked french canadian)
My HBP thoughts finally got written up over here. I don't know if I said much, but I sure did talk a lot.

Other things I have done in the past two weeks:

S. and I studied together three (3) separate times for the GRE. It's utterly demoralizing to be set the task of doing middle-school mathematics problems and not be able to do them, since I haven't done them since, you know, *middle school*. There's nothing like being asked to solve a linear equation like 4 - 5(2y+4) = 4 and hearkening nostalgically back to sixth grade. I keep conflating four steps in my head like I'm used to doing, and then I mess up on the arithmetic—it's been way too long since I worked with numbers on a regular basis. My dad is all confused about the relevance of this test, and I just keep saying, "don't get me started."

On Saturday I got 214 pages into HBP before and after dinner, and then [livejournal.com profile] malelia_honu called around 9:30 and said she felt like she should be going to a movie, so she swung by and collected me for the 10:05 showing of Bewitched. It was cute, we laughed a lot, and we snorted a lot. We had fun, but I don't think I'd actually recommend it. We also saw five or six trailers, one of which was for Elizabethtown, where Orlando Bloom is a pretty, pretty boy, though I dislike Kirsten Dunst for being smug and smirky; and one of which was for RENT: a fabulous trailer, beautifully shot and of course their voices are all incredible (Jesse L. Martin on "or the way that she diiiiiied" = goosebumps omg). They're all way too old (I mean, Mimi is supposed to be nineteen—and look like she's sixteen) but that's okay! and I am excited about it.

Then we found a Dunkin' Donuts on US-1 and sat down with our donuts and coffee and cards for a couple of rounds. Technically they closed at 1:00, but the drive-through was open later, so the lady didn't mind us staying a while; we headed out by 1:30 or so. We got caught by the late-night train, the long and slowly-moving one, and started a game of regular-card Uno while we waited. We finished it off in my driveway and then sat in the dark with the car running for a while longer, just talking. Only the animals were awake when I finally came in. We were all supposedly heading to the beach for breakfast tomorrow; I left a note telling my parents to wake me up twenty minutes before they wanted to leave and I would be ready.

. . . However, it turned out that I was the first one up Sunday morning (c. 8:45) even though I'd been the one to go to sleep at five. We did make it out to the beach, though it was more brunch-time than breakfast-time by the time we got there. We stopped at the organic market for lettuce and parsley. At home I continued reading HBP, stopping for dinner consisting of bruschetta and goat cheese on toasted artisan bread plus enough wine to get buzzed on, then roasted chicken over sweet potatoes and some sauteed vegetables. My mother's been on-vacation-without-leaving-home and not cooking, but she broke down tonight. Started Season Eight of M*A*S*H and we cried and cried when Radar left. And then we cried and cried some more when BJ broke down at the end of the next episode, after his incredible all-night drinking binge.

We've been promising ourselves for weeks, but Mal and I set aside this Thursday for movie day! Movies watched:

1) Say Anything. Everyone should have a Lloyd Dobson: being a good boyfriend is totally his calling in life.

2) Saved! Which was HILARIOUS. Whoever said Macauley Culkin was the best part of this movie? You are correct! But everybody else was great too.

3) Ghost World. Um, weird. Steve Buscemi is always creepy. And the ending kinda came out of nowhere, though it was intriguing. I loved her clothes.

4) I <3 Huckabees. Quirky and arty, and I loved it. Also in which Jude Law has what I think must be the least successful American accent ever attempted on stage or screen. Awesomely bad. Though I saw him (unfortunately) in Sky Captain, and he couldn't hold on to a single dialect there either. I'd heard this movie didn't have a plot, which is confusing, because there absolutely was not only a plot, but a theme, a message, a mystery, development, epiphanies, revelations, and a very satisfying ending. Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman were cute as could be.

Also in the past two weeks, I have been to a gym exactly one (1) time, but I just got signed up at the health club starting tomorrow, so I will be attending regularly once again, hurrah.

[livejournal.com profile] ciderpress has recently discovered Stargate: Atlantis and is all a-squee about it, especially Major John Sheppard, and just reading about it makes me clap my hands and squeak. The North American DVD release date is November. In the meantime, [livejournal.com profile] rageprufrock has just started an AU called Hindsight (Part 1: In which somebody expresses their true feelings for Rodney, John isn't able to find Rodney's head injury and never joined the Air Force, and Montana's tourists really get a run for their money) that is AWESOME and will hopefully be a billion chapters long, but I will take whatever I can get.

I'm going to go read a book now.

walkingshadow: anne taintor. it's not easy being easy. (Default)
Well, hurricane season has dashed off to an early—and roaring—start this year. This time I live on the fortunate coast: we just got whapped with some wayward tropical-storm-strength bands as Dennis moved off Cuba and up through the Gulf. On Friday the sun was out, but the wind was kicking up all day; it got dark around 5:30, started raining around 5:45, and poured intermittently thereafter. Our local CBS affiliate pre-empted Numb3rs in favor of special hurricane coverage, omg DIE, sensationalist local news, DIE, DIE. The storm wasn't even coming near us! They couldn't have updated at the commercials? Run a ticker at the bottom of the screen? Useless. They fail at network television.

In lieu of the Brothers Eppes, I started watching M*A*S*H Season Six, finishing on Saturday. Charles = SO OBNOXIOUS OMG. For all his snobbery, he has no class. If he were only a little kinder, quieter, more generous, or less smug, the world—or at least the camp—could be at his feet. Instead everyone's against him, everything backfires on him, everything's a fight he insists on bringing on himself. Does he ease up in later seasons? He must, but I can't remember.

I found the episode "Images," the one with Cooper, The Amazing Crying Nurse, to be unsuccessful in almost all ways. First of all, Margaret was right: neither Margaret nor anyone else should have given a flying fuck whether or not Cooper's little heart bled for all those poor wounded boys—I mean, yes, she should care, as empathy for human suffering is one of the things that gives life meaning and separates us from the insane and sociopathic, but it wasn't relevant—everyone just cared whether Cooper could do her fucking job. Cooper might have been a fine nurse (though we saw no evidence of that), but she couldn't hold her shit together and therefore did not belong in their unit—no judgements made or passed, but she was endangering lives by freezing up. I'm not saying whether or not everyone was right that Cooper should be given more time to come to grips with the realities of working in a MASH unit (weighing an unavoidable adjustment period against the high stakes and the consequences of screwing up), but every time they said Margaret was an ice maiden with a heart of stone for not indulging Cooper's falling apart, I wanted to smack them. They were all, "it's just that she has feelings! Unlike you!" when the whole point was that you can have all the goddamn feelings you want, but you can't let them get in the way. Margaret has wild, swinging, deep emotions she keeps tightly controlled except for when she doesn't, and the writers' decision to have her bond with a stray dog and be devastated by its subsequent death just to show her humanity and allow her to identify with Cooper was both ridiculous and insulting, to the character and the viewing audience alike.

If "subtlety" isn't their middle name, neither is "continuity." They lose on backstory (how many parents everybody has, where they're from, how long they've been in Korea) as well as the day-to-day details: just to nitpick, in the episode where Col. Potter is painting Charles's portrait, Charles is posing with his right side facing Col. Potter, but it's his left 3/4 profile we see in the finished portrait. Whoops!

On Friday my mom and I were still moping through our colds (mine really didn't seem that bad, not nearly as bad as my mother was feeling—but possibly nothing will ever seem very bad in comparison to the deathflu; also I will take any and all excuses to shuffle from room to room reading and watching DVDs). We had zero appetite but sent my father out for pizza for dinner. We kept forgetting to send him out for ice cream.

Saturday I got us ice cream. I watched some of Season Seven M*A*S*H, ran to the store for ice cream, and went out with my family and some family friends for dinner. The weather was truly, truly gross. You live in South Florida, and you think you know what humidity is, but you have no idea. Hurricanes and tropical storms are low-pressure systems, and you feel that: the air feels lighter, less resistant, and also softer. The wind blows warm, which is almost worse than not blowing at all.

Sunday I did laundry and went stir-crazy. [livejournal.com profile] malelia_honu came to my rescue and got me out of the house today, sweeping me off to lunch at Einstein's (a late lunch, because while she called me at 10:30 when she was done with her eye appointment, and I'd heard the phone ring and planned to get up and call her back in just a few minutes, in reality I fell back asleep and woke up three hours later; we got to Einstein's by 3:30), a quick swing through Ross (where I got a green t-shirt that has a picture of an orange and text beneath it reading "can't concentrate"), to Pearle Vision to help Cousin M. pick out a pair of frames (in the end we went with the double-squeal signal of approval), to Barnes & Noble for frappuccinos, cookies, and magazines (it's time to get a subscription to CMYK already), and home in time for dinner. Dinner was my mother's vegetable soup from the freezer, thawed and waiting for me in the pot.

My parents watched Yankee Doodle Dandy (newly acquired on DVD!) after dinner, a family favorite, but I plonked myself down at my computer and read Sacrificial Drift, the sequel to The Taste of Apples. It's SG:A, and yowza. Auburn has quite the knack for breaking me into tiny little pieces. There's more than one go-around of breaking-apart-and-putting-back-together-again here: it's like chanting he loves me, he loves me not and hoping against hope that your flower has an odd number of petals. Special for [livejournal.com profile] isilya: the POV shifts are explicitly signaled this time. I thought of you.

Fluxblog described a song today thusly: "If you are an insecure doormat-y sort of guy dealing with an insensitive girlfriend who makes up for her outrageous cruelty by being quite a handful in the bedroom, then this is YOUR summer jam, especially if you're into Danish twee-wave." I love the mp3 blogs! I flipped through Filter today, but I always slink away from it feeling inadequate, like I am not indie enough for them. Part of it is feeling like there's too much music out there to know; part of it is feeling like I just don't have the same ear to listen to all these songs with—though a lot of that is probably just a function of listening to an awful lot of songs. Right now I am a-swim in fantastic music, especially Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, especially their "Details of the War" (which I got a little while back at Said The Gramophone). It is haunting and waily and I can't make out all the lyrics (which is driving me nuts), but they include the line you will pay for your excessive charm—plus it has acoustic guitar thrumming like hoofbeats and some truly well-deployed harmonica. Their CD goes on the must-have list.

In addition to the music blogs, I also depend upon the kindness of strangers, e.g. [livejournal.com profile] gjstruthseeker (with whom I have been playing a truly epic game of phone tag—if phone tag were an Olympic sport, we'd be bringing home the gold every four years) who posted a bunch of yousendit links to cool, funky songs the other day. One of them was a mash-up of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" set to Guns 'n' Roses' "Paradise City," and it is beyond catchy—it feels like the next logical step in the evolutionary chain.

Unless I have the day wrong, S. and I are meeting up at Barnes & Noble tomorrow to once more tackle the GRE practice tests. I can't help thinking that these little get-togethers would be a lot more useful to me if I studied between sessions.
walkingshadow: anne taintor. it's not easy being easy. (it's all in the stones that you throw)
The cat and dog fight like—well, you know. Turns out it's not just a figure of speech.

Together [livejournal.com profile] malelia_honu and I blew off yoga on Tuesday and instead went shopping at Old Navy, where we each bought several items at wildly discounted prices. I watched House after dinner. reactions to Cursed )

I read Dira Sudis's Last Rites a while ago, but I just went back to it for a re-read now that things make more sense. You couldn't ask for a better follow-up to this episode.

And then I finished Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem. It's just what it says, the history of Fermat's Last Theorem and why (and how) it took 350 years to solve. They yadda-yadda-yaddad over most of the actual math, especially toward the end (which I can't help feeling a little put-out about, no matter that I wouldn't even begin to understand it), but it's a good story. In some ways it's a horrifying story: the lives of so many mathematicians seem tenuous at best and the tragedy of time is everywhere in abundant evidence. They often died young, or lived in turbulent times, or lived at the wrong time. Wiles himself finally expressed, explicitly, the danger of a linear, unidirectional timeline:

Having tried every tool and technique in the published literature, [Wiles] had found that they were all inadequate. "I really believed that I was on the right track, but that did not mean that I would necessarily reach my goal. It could be that the methods needed to solve this particular problem may simply be beyond present-day mathematics. Perhaps the methods I needed to complete the proof would not be invented for a hundred years. So even if I was on the right track, I could be living in the wrong century." (237)

Isn't that terrifying? The odds of achieving self-actualization are infinitesimal in this world. Galois was a "respectable but not outstanding" student until he encountered mathematics at the age of sixteen; he was twice refused admittance to the École Polytechnique because of the "abruptness and lack of explanation in the oral examination"; he was caught up in the tumultuous politics of 1820s and '30s France and died in a duel at the age of twenty. Leonhard Euler's father was determined that his son should pursue a career in the Church—and he did, until their friends the Bernoullis intervened and persuaded the father that his son "had been born to calculate, not to preach."

What's so haunting isn't that Euler almost became a clergyman to fulfill his father's wishes instead of a mathematician who would later be referred to as "analysis incarnate" and of whom "the French academician François Arago said, 'Euler calculated without apparent effort as men breathe, or as eagles sustain themselves in the wind'"—but that for every touch-and-go story like his that ends happily, there must be countless other stories that end with the hapless protagonist going into his father's business without a word of complaint; or dying in infancy; or being too poor for school or books; or being born into a nomadic tribe, or before the advent of Pythagoras and the entire field of mathematics. The tragedy of time is that in the fifteenth century Leonardo da Vinci was able to design a helicopter that would have flown—what could he have done today? That kind of thing can keep me up at night.

More snippets from the book. )

That was all Tuesday; today was Wednesday, but I didn't do much with it. My mother and I ran errands, we made our own version of these shrimp pouches for dinner, and we started the seventh season of M*A*S*H*: BJ's moustache is truly hideous, but his initials stand for anything you want!

And if you're still here, leave a one-word comment that you think best describes me. It can only be one word. No more. Then copy & paste this in your journal so that I may leave a word about you.

March 2011

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