who the heck knows anything, anyway

Monday, October 25, 2010

Testing the Waters

When I first saw this promo shot for Sherlock, all I could think was: Oh, Stephen.

Doctor and Companion?
I suppose, like any director, he has a very definite aesthetic. Too bad he had to turn it to my favorite literary duo. Shouldn't he be focusing his creative efforts on Doctor Who? We all know what happens when a prolific creative mind gets stretched too thin: they might as well start working for Marvel.*

But, hey, I won't kick it just yet. Now that it's online for free (thank you, Masterpiece Theater! Remind me to give to Public Broadcasting this year), I might as well give it a whirl. However, I will stipulate that the second Sherlock uses modern technology as a crutch, I will turn it off. Yes, yes, we all love the internet, but Holmes was frickin rad because he basically had the internet in his brain. Also, the guy who plays him looks funny. I like to have crushes on Holmes**--I do not have a crush on this guy. A bit petty of me, perhaps, to base some of my initial reaction on this. But, hey, I have big fat love for Martin Freeman, so maybe that will make up for it? I promise a full report once I've watched it. Depending on homework load, this may be tonight or later this week. Hopefully, you are kept in a heightened state of anxious suspense. Holmes would want it this way.

Speaking of my dear Martin, he'll be playing Bilbo in The Hobbit! Because I didn't love Tolkien enough already. Le sigh.

Any way we can get Mos Def into The Hobbit, too? Please?

*OH SECRET BURN on one guy who works for Marvel. Some of the other guys are pretty nice, and I love X-Men.
**Especially Vasily Livanov and Rupert Everett. Aaaaaand Robert Downey Jr, but he probably doesn't count

Monday, October 11, 2010

Finding Heroes In Strange Places...Like Iceland.

Something I found pretty fascinating about ye olde Icelanders (and viking culture, even more generally) is the level to which they elevate their poets. If a great strong man goes viking*, and then his heart is broken by a sexy lady, it is totally ok for him to go home, cry it out, and write poems about it. In fact, if he wants to retire from the whole fighting business to write/recite poetry full time, he is not discouraged. Though I suppose that's to be expected from a group of people whose epic god, Odin, is the god of poetry and killing people. Also, he looks like Gandalf.

Odin is Keyser Söze ****
I have recently spent almost 200 pages getting acquainted with my first Icelandic Saga: "Egil's Saga." It begins with the story of Egil's grandfather, Kveldulf, who is a shape-shifter (*cough*OdinReference*cough*). Kveldulf (whose name means Night Wolf...because he's a werewolf) has two sons, Thorolf and Grim. Grim is nicknamed Skallagrim, because he's bald. This is helpful, because Grim was a popular name in the late 800s. Anywho, Thorolf is besties with King Harald, until some rude, bastard relatives poison the king's ear. The king decides to be a jerk and does the cowardly thing of attempting to burn Thorolf's house down (while he's inside, of course). Thorolf and his dudes get out, and a big battle ensues--wherein Thorolf is killed. Kveldulf is really sad. Skallagrim is like "Ugh, my dad always liked him better," but still tries to convince his dad to get out of bed and stop crying. Jump forward a bit. Kveldulf is dying and tells Skallagrim to build a settlement in Iceland wherever his body washes ashore (it may be worth mentioning that they are currently on a boat, headed in that direction). That's where Borg is. 

Skallagrim had two sons, named Thorolf and Egil. Note: remember how in 100 Years of Solitude every character was named after every character, and they were all the same character? It's the same thing here. Every Thorolf is super sexy, super smart, and daddy likes them best. Every not-Thorolf is sort of violent and has daddy issues. Egil is no exception. For instance, Skallagrim forbids Egil from coming to a party, because Egil does not know how to control himself while drinking. Egil is three years old. I think he starts killing people at six... Regardless, Egil always disobeys his father and forces his older brother to take him viking all the time. He might be insane. BUT: our dear Egil is a brilliant poet! Which means he's been blessed by Odin, which means he's the hero. Plus, betwixt his raiding, king-upsetting, battle-winning, and house-burning, he does all of the things a good hero is known to do:

1. He never kills people--or takes their stuff--without them seeing his face. He ain't no coward! Nor is he a thief. Your stuff is his because he's better than you.
2. He is the most loyal friend ever. He will kill so many dudes for you.
3. He doesn't kill without reason*****
4. He will defend the following people to the death: family, friends, damsels in distress, and anyone who can't defend themselves very well (i.e. skinny men)
5. He doesn't sleep around. He pines for his love, Asgerd (his brother's wife, coincidentally), and seeks not consolation in another! And then he's secretly sort of happy when his brother is killed, because he gets to marry Asgerd.
6. Yes, I'm going to mention this again: He writes poems.

Why are his poems so great? Because, unlike everyone else Way Up North, Egil could rhyme. And when his son dies, he composes a pretty cute poem about how much he loved him, which helps everyone remember that Egil was human.******

 So, there you go. Intro to Egil Skallagrimsson! ...I really just wanted to reiterate my notes to remember all of it better. Too bad there's so friggin much more to remember. But whatever! Here's a picture of Seamus Heaney to round it out! He likes Icelandic Sagas, and he writes nice poems!

I love this man, even though I secretly thought Beowulf was boring.
Read "Digging". DOOO IT.

*Apparently, it's a verb. At least that's how my adorable, old, Danish professor uses it. You aren't A Viking, you just Go Viking In The Summertime**
**also known as What Happens at Lindisfarne Stays at Lindisfarne--Because Everyone Is Totally Dead And All of Their Belongings Have Been Stolen***
***this is not necessarily 100% historically accurate. Some monks probably got away with some nice books
****this joke is for two people
*****my professor claims this is true. I am not quite convinced.
******or, a shape-shifting descendant of Odin. The historical/literary line is blurred here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Trials and Tribulations of a Busy Bee

I seem to have developed a Coldergy. Unsure of whether I have Seasonal Sneezes or Cautious Congestion, I have spent the past few days sounding like Homestar Runner and fretting about school/work/THE FUTURE in a slight-but-ultimately-distracting fog. Despite this, I was able to write a checklist of every assignment from this Monday up until Veterans Day*; write two papers; read four online articles; fill out a silly form; and even read an adapted fairytale (this one was for pleasure). And that's just the homework! Also, perk to being Under the Weather: Daniel makes me nummy lentil soup.

Sadly, I do not foresee myself recovering quickly. For one thing, I don't sleep very much. Last week was my first without nightmares in over a month, but that may have been because, up until this weekend, the Czuba Family Zoo was keeping me up all night. I have grown accustomed to sleeping with the dryer running and a pillow over my head. Second, people keep adding stress to my bucket. My stress bucket is very full. And though making checklists definitely helps (as does staying on top of all the homework), there are some stressors that simply cannot be done away with, no matter what your high school Health teacher told you. A job, for instance. I cannot just remove myself from my job when it gives me anxiety. That would be blissful, but I think I might be asked to remove myself permanently. Then there are the train rides, which have been oversold, and the fact that my nighttime writing class of eighteen students is in a teeny room with fluorescent lighting and no windows, and all the busy work and uncertainty that comes with homework and papers and tests and a propensity to shoot for perfection**. I decided that the best way to deal with this was
through self-bribery, but I don't have a lot of money, so I more precisely decided (via Daniel, because he's a smarty pants) to get my hair done (I've been missing the blue).

And then the PSU Magazine for alumni had a nice little bit about my Most Arch Nemesis (hint: he's middle aged, short, bald, and overwhelms me with the urge to vomit up bile), and it was all I could do not to light it on fire in the middle of the living room. Bye bye, feelings of accomplishment. Hello, old feelings of lack-of-worth and self-doubt.

Strong Bad's portrait of me

So, do I go do more homework tonight, as it approaches 12am, and hope that will alleviate some stress and boost my confidence in how this term will unfold? No. On the advice of the smartest person I know (*cough*daniel*cough*), I'm going to watch an episode of Original Series Star Trek and let James T. Kirk handle it.

this was a rather Bloggy post. I'm hoping to get into some more intellectual stuff when I get a better grip on my schedule. Because, man, it would be a pity to neglect addressing the thrills of Viking Lore, Fiction Writing Craft, and Fun with Grant Writing!***

*because all of my professors forgot the university is closed that day, and I happened to be scheduled for a presentation then, so things will get a bit hairy the week of November 8th
**I am not proud of this.
***That last one about grant writing was a lie. Practical, yes. Fun, don't think so.