Thursday, July 5, 2007

Our Heroine Borrows Wholesale

...from Eve Tushnet, so awesome.

But the angel said to me, "Why marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is to ascend from the bottomless pit and go to perdition; and the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will marvel to behold the beast, because it was and is not and is to come."
--Revelation 17:7-8

Creepiest beast ever, y'all. It's the absence of present-tense: beast tomorrow and beast yesterday, but never beast today. So scary and real.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Our Heroine Illuminates the Difference Between Protestant Vs. Catholic Heaven

I think I may post this clip on my blog once a week forever, it is just that entertaining to me. I love the whole thing from start to finish, but this week, my favorite line is the first one, spoken by the dee-lightful Ned Flanders, "Bart and Homer can't go Catholic, the Romans have been separate from us since the schism of Lourdes in 1573 and that was about our holy right to come to church with wet hair! Which...we've since abolished."

I know, I know, I'll say it for you: I am such a geek! (but a well-accessorized one)

Who Made Our Heroine Love this Poem?

Fun with science and nature poems!


Darkling beetle, black and shining jewel,
What jeweler could have formed you, with what tool?
What burr or jig or pliers set your shape,
On what suspended rod your armor draped,
On which round mold your head and thorax bent,
For whose joy were those elytra meant -
What burin graved the parallels that run
From point of wing to where the head’s begun?

Your mandibles that twist, your eyes that globe,
Your furred antennae delicate that probe
The galleries that run beneath the bark
Of dying trees – who made you for the dark?

Pavel Chichikov

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Our Heroine Covets...

...this green gabardine trapeze shirtdress from Abaete. I love Abaete's simple, Mod-influenced shapes. I just wish their dresses came with a personal trainer equipped with a tough-but-fair program for toning my legs.
However, trainer or no, I intend to own this dress by summer's end and wear it with knee-high boots someplace fun: the Dunkin Donuts on my corner where I buy my morning coffee, the post-office, the place where I get my eyebrows waxed, the dentist, Church on Sunday, the movies, my Mom's house, the laundromat, my couch on Wednesday nights while watching Lost, and possibly even the gym, depending on how it wicks sweat away from the skin.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Our Heroine Has Intestinal FORTITUDE!!! Eats PORTIONED Meals!!! Enjoys NOURISHMENT!!!

I don't know why things like this crack me up, but they do. If I had the powers of the strange like these folk(s) I would definitely run around putting the strange everywhere, including eBay. (h/t Dale Price)

Some of my favorite bits of feedback:
  • Millenia ago your merchandise roamed free. I didn't bid then and I won't now.
  • There was NO REASON for you to call my house and yell at my children. Still, A+
  • Nux VOMICA! I invoke you, BEAST! But I only do so because you are HONEST! "A++"'

Read the whole thing: eBay Feedback Profile

Our Heroine Has a Predilection for Sundresses

...especially those of the citrus-hued persuasion. Look at this super-sunshiny cute dress I bought at ATLoft this past Monday with my Mom, who insisted I should wear it with a white cardigan over it, and then bought me one to drive the point home. *Sigh* I love dress shopping!
Wearable sorbet.

Our Heroine Prints a Correction

I was so excited I typed too fast and made a boo boo: The Weakerthans are performing in New York City on June 22, not the 23rd as I wrote last week. I've also corrected the original post.

Special Guest Post by: Our Heroine's Brother

The Lost season finale was last night, and here are my brother's comments on the episode. Once again, the level to which he thinks these things out is sort of frightening. It should, of course, go without saying, that if you read further, you will encounter spoilers.

I was disappointed overall...I was expecting at least one big question answered and we didn’t even get a minor question answered, except for why Ben was so mean to Karl (so he wouldn’t get Alex pregnant).

We are now 60% of the way through the show and we know zilch about the Island’s location, origin, native population of “hostiles” and what they’re about (why do they follow Ben? Why don’t they age), the source of the islands powers, what the monster and the whisperers are, who Jacob is, who and what Naomi and Penny are each working and looking for etc. Where the visions of Eko’s brother or Walt are coming from. What happened to Michael? None of the billion inter-character coincidences have been explained, from Libby’s giving Desmond the boat to Charlie saving Nadia from a mugger. Why does Desmond get his flashes? Who was that old woman who told Desmond his destiny and how did she know so much? Is time travel really happening? Is the Island really in another dimension/world or just hidden from view in ours? What is Mittelos up to? Why do pregnant women die? Is Dharma still extant and trying to make contact, if not where did the food drop come from? And by the way, where did all the kidnapped kids go when the Others left Otherville? Ugh...I would have been happy with an answer to just ONE of these!! Still so many riddles wrapped in enigmas wrapped in mysteries. I feel like this was just a repeat of last season’s finale, where in the final moment some contact was made with the outside world. It’s basically the exact same thing...another fleeting glimpse of Penny trying to make contact plus a voice on the radio this time, and we’re still stuck at square one on the island. OK, sure, we know that one day Jack will have made it off the Island but will be depressed and want to go back...BFD. Normal psychology...he misses the excitement and the fellowship, just like I didn’t want to leave my study abroad program. That’s supposed to be a shocker! If I were Jack, and Ben told me not to radio for help, I would have said “You’ve lied one too many times, but this Island is freaky enough that I might just believe you this time, but you’ve got to start answering some questions about WHY & WHAT IS GOING ON and back it up with some proof before I decide not to radio anyone.” But of course, he doesn’t ask Ben to explain anything about why he shouldn’t radio for help. And, he just lets Locke KILL Naomi (who they have zero reason to suspect is there to do anything but help them)...I mean if my old “friend” just one day showed up and knifed what I thought was a totally innocent woman in front of my face one day, I’d be a little horror stricken at what the hell came over my old pal. But he doesn’t even check her pulse or object! End of thought train for now....

Anyone who can help our heroine or her brother answer these questions is invited, nay, entreated, to do so in the comments boxes. It's going to be a loooong summer y'all.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Our Heroine (Dines With Michel Foucault In Paris, 1961)

Oh! oh! oh! I'm...just...a little excited...can't think of anything intelligent to say right now. I just heard...can't believe it...The Weakerthans are coming to New York for a show! (must calm down and write something intelligible)

Ok, about 10 months ago, Eve Tushnet, amazing lady-blogger and all around smart cracker, turned me on to The Weakerthans. In particular, Reconstruction Site, their latest effort. I am the worst, absolute worst, music critic of all time, so I won't even try to explain why they're awesome. I'll quote Eve, who was also a little breathless with excitement, but did a pretty bang-up job:

...Um, the sound is sort of rock-y, not in an especially exciting way. It's got guitars and drums and stuff.

(no! tell them why it is so great!) It's... crazy geeks, with their Michel Foucault and their Ernest Shackleton (one of the best songs on the album) and their longing and their ability to recognize sublimity even when they can't quite enter into it (the heartbreaking "Hospital Vespers"). It's wandering through the snow trying to find the house you think you remember, it was right around here.... It's an album about need and inadequacy and what St Augustine would call the memory of Adam's happiness (and how we get that memory wrong, misinterpret it, corrupt it in a thousand ways). It's also hooky, full of tunes that will bother you for weeks. It isn't just about one or two great songs; it's about a whole album. Oh, you really need this.
She's not lying, you really do need this album. And if you're a friend of mine and not opposed to rock concerts, you also need to come with me on June 22 to see them live on a boat during their Small and Fantastic Extra Tiny-Mini-Tour. I'll even make you a mix CD to prepare.

Things Our Heroine Doesn't Know: The List is Long but Distinguished

even the cover looks smarter than me.So, I dropped The Iliad like a hot potato in favor of John Lukacs', A Thread of Years (I warned y'all I was like this, so no lip from BMT). The book's pretty dense, and it's non-fiction (yoiks!), so it's essentially mental bootcamp for me (for review/summary, click here).

What I want to share with y'all is that I'm not even a quarter of the way through reading, and I've had to develop an entire system around looking-up the words and references Lukacs uses for which I have no idea what he's talking about. A complete system, y'all, with rules, and such.

First, the system was simple. Whenever Lukacs used a word I didn't know, I walked to my desk and utilized the ol' Merriam-Webster as God intended. Life was good, for about 30 minutes, until I realized I was spending more time walking to and from my desk than I was reading the book. So I brought the dictionary to where I was reading and,voila! the process had been streamlined and life was good again, for about two chapters. Then I got frustrated because I was stopping to look up at least one word a page, not to mention that I still had to walk to my laptop and Wiki things that weren't definitions.

Eventually, after trial and error, I settled on the system I'm using now: as I read each chapter, I underline every word/reference I don't understand, but I don't look anything up immediately. Then, every three or four chapters, I bring the book with me to the computer and look up everything I've underlined. I write the definition in a Moleskine so that I (hopefully) memorize what I've just learned, permanently filling-in these gaping holes in my knowledge.

So far, here are some of the things I don't know:

  • Francois-Vincent Raspail

  • laic

  • emoluments

  • debouch

  • mugwumps

  • asseverated

  • coruscating

  • vernissages

  • Lebensraum (German)

  • Lothrop Stoddard

  • Madison Grant

  • the fashions of Poiret

  • aigrettes (French)

  • in floribus (Latin)

  • parvenu

  • Childe Hassam

  • Boni de Castellane

  • eclat

  • rubicund

  • paean

  • taxis (not what you think. so shut up.)

  • revanche

  • Gnadige Frau (German. Y'all, I had to email a German friend for this one, not even the interwebs could help me)

  • Mevrouw (Dutch. Sweet. cracker. sandwich, we're using Dutch now?)

  • Karl Kraus

  • Kriegesschuldfrage (German. Though admittedly very interesting once I learned what it was)

  • Dodona

  • Vorticism

  • Imagism

  • Legatee

  • Votary (What are you laughing about? He used the archaic meaning.)

  • Soapy (see note on taxis above)

  • Darkling

  • Goosey

  • Exceptionable (not exceptional, but exceptionable, so pipe down.)

  • huissier (French)

  • moiety

  • hegira

  • serried

  • mansard

Did I mention that I'm not even a quarter of the way through the book, and that this list is not exhaustive? I think it's obvious that either the American education system, or our heroine, has failed miserably in ensuring I have even a rudimentary grasp of the English language and Western history. And, since our heroine is a big believer in personal responsibility, I know I have only one person to blame, and that person is...Rich Achee. "Who is Rich Achee?" some of you may ask. Why, he's the football player who sat in front of me during most of my college English classes. I'm pretty sure he asked me to borrow a pen the day we covered "mansard," and a girl can't focus on two things at once. Not even our heroine, y'all.

P.S. RMK, if you write the definition for every item on my list in the comments section from out of your own head I will have to cut you. I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Our Heroine Asks a Culinary Question

What should I prepare for tonight's penultimate-episode-of-Lost party? Past Lost parties have featured such diverse and slightly inedible snacks as:
  • Swedish meatballs (I burned the bottoms)
  • Cheesefries with bacon (bacon = undercooked due to misread recipe)
  • Fudge brownies (awesome, but, seriously, how much talent do awesome brownies take? an orangutan could manage awesome brownies so long as someone set the oven to the right temperature for him)
  • Chili (slow-cooker version, a bit dry)
  • Supernachos (awesomesauce! but I cheated and ordered them in from Rachel's Taqueria)
  • Buffalo wings (natch, from Domino's)
  • Oatmeal Nutcake (my signature cake, delicious, but too fussy for a Lost party, like eating petit-fours at a tractor pull)
  • Fried ricotta fritters (usually amazing, but pre-Lost I burnt the outsides and the insides were runny. Still, it was fried cheese, so, totally edible)
  • Patti LaBelle's mac-n-cheese (Thank you Miss LaBelle, for my one unqualified cooking success. If this recipe was any indication, I should add 3 cups of cheese, a pound of butter and two cups of cream to every thing I make moving forward).

If you have suggestions, please leave them in the comments box.

Also: props go to my amazing friend kherman for gamely eating whatever I put in front of her this season. You're a true kindred spirit!

Our Heroine Notices Something Alarming

Has anyone taken a look in the lower right-hand corner of this blog and seen my rapidly expanding "to do" list? Yoiks! Maybe, if I did nothing else but read ceaselessly for about 4 months, I could get though this list. But y'all know how easily distracted I am -- how can I read ceaselessly when there is a store that sells the cutest. sundresses. ever. down the street, the Mets are looking good this year, the beach is 40 minutes away by train, I'm training for a 10k, my best friend is getting married, I am addicted to blogs, and, oh yes, I should probably get a job?

If people would just stop writing for about 10 years, I would appreciate the chance to catch up.

Our Heroine is Humbled by a Fish

I don't know who is this bloke Matthew Fish, but he's Catholic and wicked smart. His review of last Sunday's The Sopranos was awesome and addictive, and I don't even watch the show!

Bonus, his review mentioned Walker Percy, and in this one sentence Fish clarified everything I'd ever read by him, and never quite grasped.

Walker Percy spent his life as a philosopher and a novelist pointing out how we cannot objectify or figure out the self; despite all the knowledge of science, man remains just as much a mystery to himself, nor can he save himself from his own despair, the eventual inanity and boredom of a vain life.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Our Heroine Likes Puppies and Ice Cream Too

I had heard that this happened, and I searched the internet for a whole afternoon looking for it with no luck. I should have known to check American Papist first.

Anyway....GROUP HUG!

Pope Benedict XVI hugs children during a visit to a drug rehabilitation center called 'Fazenda da Esperanca' or Farm of Hope in Guaratingueta, Brazil, Saturday, May 12, 2007. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Ok, ok, maybe this one got me a little choked up what?

Our Heroine, Like Sartre, Seeks a Single Recipe Which Will, by Itself, Embody the Plight of Man in a World Ruled by an Unfeeling God... well as providing the eater with at least one ingredient from each of the four basic food groups.

We have been lucky to discover several previously lost diaries of French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre stuck in between the cushions of our office sofa. These diaries reveal a young Sartre obsessed not with the void, but with food. Apparently Sartre, before discovering philosophy, had hoped to write "a cookbook that will put to rest all notions of flavor forever." The diaries are excerpted here for your perusal.

October 3
Spoke with Camus today about my cookbook. Though he has never actually eaten, he gave me much encouragement. I rushed home immediately to begin work. How excited I am! I have begun my formula for a Denver omelet.

October 4
Still working on the omelet. There have been stumbling blocks. I keep creating omelets one after another, like soldiers marching into the sea, but each one seems empty, hollow, like stone. I want to create an omelet that expresses the meaninglessness of existence, and instead they taste like cheese. I look at them on the plate, but they do not look back. Tried eating them with the lights off. It did not help. Malraux suggested paprika.

October 6
I have realized that the traditional omelet form (eggs and cheese) is bourgeois. Today I tried making one out of cigarette, some coffee, and four tiny stones. I fed it to Malraux, who puked. I am encouraged, but my journey is still long.

October 10
I find myself trying ever more radical interpretations of traditional dishes, in an effort to somehow express the void I feel so acutely. Today I tried this recipe:
Tuna Casserole
Ingredients: 1 large casserole dish

Place the casserole dish in a cold oven. Place a chair facing the oven and sit in it forever. Think about how hungry you are. When night falls, do not turn on the light.

While a void is expressed in this recipe, I am struck by its inapplicability to the bourgeois lifestyle. How can the eater recognize that the food denied him is a tuna casserole and not some other dish? I am becoming more and more frustated.

October 25
I have been forced to abandon the project of producing an entire cookbook. Rather, I now seek a single recipe which will, by itself, embody the plight of man in a world ruled by an unfeeling God, as well as providing the eater with at least one ingredient from each of the four basic food groups. To this end, I purchased six hundred pounds of foodstuffs from the corner grocery and locked myself in the kitchen, refusing to admit anyone. After several weeks of work, I produced a recipe calling for two eggs, half a cup of flour, four tons of beef, and a leek. While this is a start, I am afraid I still have much work ahead.

November 15
Today I made a Black Forest cake out of five pounds of cherries and a live beaver, challenging the very definition of the word cake. I was very pleased. Malraux said he admired it greatly, but could not stay for dessert. Still, I feel that this may be my most profound achievement yet, and have resolved to enter it in the Betty Crocker Bake-Off.

November 30
Today was the day of the Bake-Off. Alas, things did not go as I had hoped. During the judging, the beaver became agitated and bit Betty Crocker on the wrist. The beaver's powerful jaws are capable of felling blue spruce in less than ten minutes and proved, needless to say, more than a match for the tender limbs of America's favorite homemaker. I only got third place. Moreover, I am now the subject of a rather nasty lawsuit.

December 1
I have been gaining twenty-five pounds a week for two months, and I am now experiencing light tides. It is stupid to be so fat. My pain and ultimate solitude are still as authentic as they were when I was thin, but seem to impress girls far less. From now on, I will live on cigarettes and black coffee.

The Jean-Paul Sartre Cookbook
by Marty Smith, Portland OR
from Free Agent March 1987 (a Portland Oregon alternative newspaper),
Republished in the Utne Reader Nov./Dec. 1993

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Our Heroine Asks, "What Could Be More Ascetical, Than a Savage Beatdown?"

I think my favorite line is, "You profess Chalcedon,
Or you take a beatin'."

Y'all, the future looks bright!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Our Heroine Regrets that Anthony Cooper Will Not Be Sacrificed Tonight for Your Viewing Pleasure

Y'all, I am so frustrated with tonight's episode of Lost. No doubt there are bloggers out there writing screeds about what happened. Here are just a few of my thoughts as bullets (Warning: Spoilers):

  • The producers have repeatedly denied that the island's inhabitants are dead and living in Heaven/Purgatory/Hell/etc. So why do they keep feinting in that direction? I am specifically referring to Anthony Cooper's insistence tonight that they were all in Hell.

  • When did Cooper develop a Southern accent? He never had one in all the eps we've seen him in, and he suddenly developed one while talking to Sawyer. I know it was supposed to convince me that he's the con who scammed Sawyer's parents, but it called too much attention to itself.

  • If Sawyer killing Cooper fulfilled the requirements of Ben's "test," than anyone killing Cooper should have fulfilled it. Why didn't the Others just kill him if the real crux was just that Locke's. Dad. had. to. die, not that Locke hisself do the killin'?

I know the Others are supposed to be mysterious and creepy, but the writers have succeeded in only making them ridiculous, like kids playing spy-games. The most affecting episodes remain those that focus on the Losties grappling with the terrifying dangers of the Island itself. I hope the last three episodes focus more on that than the faux threat of the Others.

Our Heroine Tells The Target


The hand tells the bowstring:
Obey me.

The bowstring answers the hand:
Draw valiantly.

The bowstring tells the arrow:
O arrow, fly.

The arrow answers the bowstring:
Speed my flight.

The arrow tells the target:
Be my light.

The target answers the arrow:
Love me.

The target tells arrow, bowstring, hand and eye:
Ta twam asi.

Which means in a sacred tongue:
I am thou.

(Footnote of a Christian:
O Mother of God,

watch over the target, the bow, the arrow
and the archer).

Aleksander Wat

Translated by Richard Laurie
From My Century: The Odyssey of a Polish Intellectual. New York and London: Norton, 1988.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Our Heroine Don't Tolerate

...Unless what I'm being asked to tolerate is Lyle Lovett!! Here is something about our heroine that you may not know. I love Lyle. I really love him. My friend BMT can attest to this, she spent a hiking trip with me out West in which I sort of, maybe, forced her to listen to The Road to Ensenada and My Baby Don't Tolerate about, say, a katrillion times. To the point where for her own sanity she had to lash out at me with the cruel words, "His songs all sound alike."

There was much pouting in the car after that.

Anyhoodle..I have been waiting for 3 years for Lyle (I call him Lyle, people, deal with it) to perform in NYC. The last time he was here was 2004 when he performed in Battery Park for the Fourth of July. I wore a giant straw hat and sang my head off. Now he's performing with another fave, k.d. lang, on June 21 at Radio City Music Hall, and my trusty partner in country-music crime, kherman, is going with me.

Fortunately, this will not impact my continued reading of The Iliad at all. I repeat, The Iliad will not be interrupted for this concert. It will be interrupted for a thousand other things, like my Shakespeare class, or Father A's reading group, or my new copy of The Violent Bear It Away (thanks, MM!), but it will not be Lyle's fault. He is merely, well, I'll let him tell you himself:

Well I'm a long tall Texan
I wear a ten-gallon hat
Yes I'm a long tall Texan
I wear a ten-gallon hat
Well people look at me and they say
Is that your hat?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Our Heroine Asks, "Where are the Jusserands of Yesteryear?"

This excerpt from Auchincloss’ biography of Teddy Roosevelt made our heroine laugh heartily in appreciation of the tongue-in-cheek chivalry of a bygone age. (H/T: Izzy)

TR needed a good deal of physical exercise, particularly to control a waistline responding to his hearty meals. He played tennis with aides, but he preferred riding and long hikes. On one of the latter, accompanied by some more or less willing diplomats, he encountered a stream that could be forded only by the removal of all clothing. J. J. Jusserand, the French ambassador and TR’s good friend, emulated his host except for a pair of pink gloves. Asked why he retained these, he replied: “In case we should run into ladies.”

Our Heroine Ain't Nothing But A Cabbage

...but with some education, I intend to become a cauliflower!

Today I registered for Summer Semester at Brooklyn College. I will be taking English 761, graduate-level Shakespeare. I like that the class is just called "Shakespeare." I find the totality of the title very satisfying. See, although I have read and watched a bunch o' the Bard, I have never officially studied him, and I'm pleased as punch that I'll be gittin' the full meal deal and not some fancy-pants subset of Shakespeare involving a colon (Shakespeare's Father Issues: Methodology, Theory and Ethics in His Exploration of the Paternal).

Classes start June 4. I wish I could take more, but there are painfully few English classes offered during the summer that fulfill my degree requirements. One good thing though: it's a night class, so I can work full-time.

Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.

Our Heroine Denounces the Expulsion of the Jesuits from France

Which Twentieth Century Pope Are You?

You are Pope St. Pius X. You'd rather be right than newfangled.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Our Heroine Switches to Iced Coffee

It's 70 degrees outside y'all!

For winter's rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

Algernon Charles Swinburne (1865)

Our Heroine Stops the Presses

As much as I fret about how tough it can be for a girlie-girl in Brooklyn, living in/near the big city has its advantages, one of which I discovered yesterday when I got wind of The Storm Theater's, KAROL WOJTYLA THEATRE FESTIVAL.

Karol Wojtyla, better known to the world as Pope John Paul II, devoted a good deal of his early manhood pursing a career in the theatre. While his chief interest was acting, he also began to write plays. They grew out of his experiences with Mieczyslaw Kotlarczk and the Rhapsodic Theatre. The group began performing clandestinely during the Nazi occupation of Poland as a way of preserving their national literature. They strove to create a uniquely Polish theatre, a "theatre of imagination, a theatre of the inner self." This striving is very much at the core of Wojtyla's plays.

These plays open a window into pivotal moments in the history of the 20th Century and explore conflicts, ideas, religious insights, and nationalistic yearnings that shaped the unique vision of a man who transformed our world forever.

The festival includes the following three plays: God's Brother, The Jeweler's Shop and Jeremiah and tickets are only $20. City-living definitely has its perks! I saw this same troupe stage an adaptation of C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce earlier this year that I thought was very good (they even had our heroine and her friends on stage for a short period of time!).

I'm so excited about this festival I need to go have a waffle.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Our Heroine Finds A Literary Meme

I don't know enough bloggers to get meme-tagged, but I saw this literary meme at The Curt Jester and I wanted to play.

Name up to three characters . . .

1) . . . you wish were real so you could meet them.

Tertius Lydgate (Middlemarch by George Eliot)
Tony Last (A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh)
Sydney Carton(A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)

2) . . . you would like to be.

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery)
Dorothea Brooke (Middlemarch by George Eliot)
Beatrice (Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare)

3) . . . who scare you.

The Specialist's Hat (The Specialist's Hat by Kelly Link )
The entire Rook family (Like Water Off a Dog's Back by Kelly Link)
Arawn the Death-Lord (Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander)

I didn't do it intentionally, but I notice that every single one of the characters I'd like to meet is a tragic hero, and I know that is because I would want to use my time with each one of them to try to save them: "Tertius, don't marry Rosamund!" "Tony, don't leave Hetton!" "Sydney, you DON'T HAVE TO DO THIS!"

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Our Heroine Sheepishly Confesses She has Wandered Off-Track Again

Ok, ok, people! (especially BMT) I know I owe y'all an Iliad post. I know this. I promise I have been reading The Iliad and I have thoughts. They aren't great thoughts, or even particularly interesting, but, such as they are, they are ready to share.

It's just, well, Eifelheim arrived in the mail this weekend, and I thought to myself, "Self, why don't you just read few pages of this, to see if it's any good, and then you can easily go back to the men of Troy?" So I peeped page one, and, I'm sorry, but I can't stop.

Can I tell you why I'm loving it so much? I am loving this book because the author is a master of dramatic tension, in particular, dramatic irony. Seriously, my sense of coming tragedy began with the tone of resignation in the opening monologue.

The reader is made aware immediately (practically from the dust-jacket) that something terrible, genuinely unimaginably terrible, is going to happen to the people of Eifelheim. There's no secret to the fact that whatever it is, it's likely the result of the Black Death and aliens mixing (don't smirk). But, as curious as the reader may be about what exactly the mechanism of the town's destruction is going to be, curiosity takes a back seat to her growing distress over the fate of the characters. Why? Because, so far, each of the inhabitants of Eifelheim is struggling to behave in as noble and Christian a manner as his experience and disposition permits, in confusing and stressful circumstances. Yet the reader knows this same nobility must mean, ultimately, everyone's destruction. Do you know how hard that is to read, and yet, how impossible that is to not read? I keep hoping everyone is going to fly off into outerspace, holding hands and drinking tankards of ale, and yet every page indicates to me that this is just not going to happen. I have never wanted so badly to be proved wrong.

I also am having to read it with a dictionary because the author's vocabulary is ridiculous. This makes me feel first, stupid, and then, smart.

And here's a tip for my readers who are "horrific grasshopper alien" snobs, and so don't give a good dadgum what anyone has to say about "tension" and "tragedy" and "dramatic irony," so long as aliens were used to create them: have you people listened to Neil Finn's, "She Will Have Her Way" recently? No? Then go rock out to it immediately (AFTER you pay your taxes).

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Our Heroine Notes Family Differences

Warning! Contains spoilers, the word "weenie" and a brief discussion of quantum physics and string theory. Proceed at your own risk.

Y'all, one of my favorite parts of watching Lost is the emails that fly back and forth the next day between me, my cousin Steph, my cousin Mish and my little brother Ray. We so totally represent a hilarious spectrum of personalities

Email from our heroine (try not to be awed by it's intellectual heft):
Why does every dork on that island have a girlfriend but Sayid, the hottest and smartest of all of them?

Email excerpt from cousin Mish (she's the softy):
...I totally think we learned a lot last night.
First, we learned how utterly hot Sawyer can be when hes in love. I mean, the face he made when he saw Kate was priceless.

Email excerpt from cousin Steph (she likes old-school justice)

I HATE JULIETTE! Sayeed should have killed her when he had the chance. Is it just me but isn’t it strange that no one is making her tell them everything. As soon as I saw her I would have made her spill the beans!

Contrast all of the above with...

Email from my brother Ray (I have known him for more than 30 years, and, nope, I still don't know what to say about this. He's just freakin' awesome, I guess):

Agreed. Jack is so whipped. He sees a blonde and he starts thinking with his weenie. I too wish the Losties would ask more questions, but I’m willing to accept that doing so would put an obvious end to the show. As it is, it’s a TV show people, and we need to keep some mystery through to the end, at least of this season. I think the writers actually do a decent job of throwing us a bone by having the characters at least attempt to ask (via Sayid, who is like the audience’s representative) and then craft some quasi-credible reason for Juliet not to answer yet. We can assume that the other random Losties may have wanted or tried to ask their own questions but have been given the same brush off by Jack and Juliet for now, we just aren’t shown all the question-asking on camera.

That said, I suspect that Juliet may be a double agent. I mean, after seeing what she went through with Ben and her sister, I can’t imagine she has totally forgotten how Ben treated her and I wonder if she isn’t biding her time, doing Ben’s bidding, and secretly playing both sides waiting for her chance to break out or turn the tables. Of course, I still hope she dies a gruesome tortuous death – I’m just telling you how I think the plot may be heading.

It is very possible that Sun’s baby wasn’t implanted, but that has not been stated for sure. It was Claire who was implanted with something that could trigger an illness, so maybe Michele mixed that up. Of course the Others did view the Losties as potential moms for their experiments, so it is quite possible that they engineered Sun’s pregnancy somehow as another control test just like Claires. We must wait and see. In fact, this may be why Juliet is being planted with the continue their research on Sun just like Ethan was doing with Claire.

I am starting to think the Island is in some alternate dimension involving quantum theory of strings and wormholes. There may be designated places on the planet where you can walk through larger wormholes into this other dimension, and that is how flight 815, Desmond’s boat etc all accidentally ended up here, and why Juliet must drink the tranquilizer before her “bumpy ride” from Portland. It would explain alot and still be anchored to real accepted modern theories of physics.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Our Heroine Has Admin Privileges

Our heroine is an aspiring grad student, no longer toiling my days aways as a corporate stooge on Wall Street. But when I was in the office, I said and did things very much like Strongbad. Please note, however, that my ideal job involved royalty, couture and smooth, shiny hair. Space whales and pantsuits never factored into the equation.

New Strongbad at work email

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Our Heroine Approves this Message

Although our heroine is a Romanist, and therefore someone likely to give the great Herr Luther a massive case of deep-intestinal gas, I must admit the Doktor's onto something here:

Luther at the Movies: Dwight Schrute is America's Only Hope

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Our Heroine Wishes You a Joyful Easter

I'll be gone for the Triduum, y'all, and back blogging on Monday. While I'm celebrating great and holy things by mainlining ham and manicotti in Vermont, I leave you a very lovely and appropriate poem by the wonderful John Donne:

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Our Heroine Is Like a Big Jam Donut With Cream on the Top

What we mean is, like a donut, her arrival gives us pleasure, and her departure only leaves us hungry for more.

This is one of my favorite Python sketches, in which Oscar Wilde, James MacNeill Whistler and George Bernard Shaw compete with eachother to sling the most outrageous insults at the King of England, whilst wriggling themselves out of offending him. Hilarious (but a bit risque)!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Our Heroine Phones It In

Our heroine is tired, well and truly tired. I watched Lost tonight with my friend Kristi; then I complained about it for an hour; then I mentally rewrote the entire episode (nay, the entire show this season) in my head.

These mental Olympics have exhausted me and I want to go to bed, but I feel I owe you a literary post, as I've read further in the Iliad, and I have some things I want to say (especially about Hector), but that will have to wait til tomorrow.

In the meantime, I want to share with you one of my all-time favorite excerpts from literature. It is a quote from Middlemarch, by George Eliot, which is quite possibly the novel I love best in all the world, for reasons I will share some other, less late, time. The novel's heroine is Dorothea, a lady of high ideals who wants to do great good in the world. Alas, social circumstances constrain her, and she lives a long but rather conventional life, "feeling that there was always something better which she might have done, if she had only been better and known better." The novel's final paragraph always cracks my heart a little, I think because I find the narrator's gentle sympathy for Dorothea unspeakably poignant.

Her finely-touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name upon the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

Just typing that in got our heroine a little sniffly. So I'm off to find a Kleenex. Good night!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Our Heroine Confesses to a Guilty Pleasure

Y'all, it's about as far from the Western Canon as one can conceivably get and not be People Magazine, but I am really psyched to get my copy of Tom Flynn's Eifelheim:

A present-day scientific odd couple who are longtime domestic partners, physicist Sharon Nagy and historian Tom Schwoerin look into the fate of the Black Forest village of the title, which apparently vanished in the plague year 1348, in Flynn's heartbreaking morality play of stranded aliens in medieval Germany. Most of the narrative focuses on the consequences of the discovery in the 14th century by Eifelheim's pastor, Father Dietrich, of a crashed space ship carrying the "Krenken," horrific grasshopperlike aliens.

So, we have a novel involving a historical mystery, the Middle Ages, interdimensional travel (not the same thing as time travel, y'all), a priest, and, oh yeah, some aliens. Clearly, this book is made of awesome, right? Now, I know some of you probably laughed out loud at the phrase "horrific grasshopper aliens" but I am telling you that if you are a horrific grasshopper alien snob (as many people are) you are going to miss out on some solid gold awesome story-telling.

However, if you are afraid your Nietzsche-reading hipster friends are going to mock you mercilessly should you get caught with sci-fi, don't worry, you can still sneak an Eifelheim fix here, our heroine won't tell.

Our Heroine Has a Culinary Adventure

So, I recently made the decision that Spring '07 was going to be the "Spring of the Sandwich". I have this notion that I have it in me to be a sandwich wunderkind, whipping up exotic crostini and panini with nonchalance and savoire faire.

Unfortunately, against this notion of mine, the prosecution can now point to Exhibit A: tonight's French bread filled with cannelini beans and sardines.

There was so much in the recipe that was good, like creamy butter beans, onions sauteed in chili powder and paprika, crusty french bread, lemon and fresh parsley. I don't know where I went wrong. Oh, yes, I do. Do you notice what is missing from the above list of "good"? That's right. Sardines. Those bleedin' sardines just beat every other sandwich flavor into a bruised, whimpering mess. I felt like I was eating tuna right out of the can, like a crazy cat lady. Crazy cat lady, I've no need to tell you, is NOT the response you want to a fancy sandwich.

Honestly, I am not sure if this recipe can be saved (I'm tempted to try it once more with half the called-for sardines), but I am not giving up on the platonic idea of the sardine. I am confident that I can love the anchovy and the sardine, given the right combination of ingredients and some whiz-kid preparation (much the way my friend SLB taught me to love the brussel sprout last year).

My immediate plan is to jog to Subway for some palate-cleansing Diet Coke, right from the healing soda fountain. My long term plan is to try again with some sardine-infused fragrant Thai rice. You have to love the Thai use of the euphemistic "fragrant," by which they mean, "reeks of canned fish."

Our Heroine Receives a Peculiar Aristocratic Title

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Reverend Lady Nicole Genevieve the Precocious of Giggleswick under Table
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Our Heroine is Chastened and Bowed

Please, please watch this video in which Stephen Fry takes the archetypal British gentleman shopkeeper to it's most bizarre extreme(imagine Jeeves on meth).

Favorite line: "If two broad-shouldered and long-fingered young gentleman such as ourselves can come independently to the conclusion that the morning they are currently experiencing is one of a goodness, then, one of a goodness it most assuredly is."

Our Heroine Gets Down to Business

Y'all, guess what I am on page 93 of? Hint: It's the whole reason this blog was started. That's right, The Iliad. Of course, the poem text only starts on page 81 of my translation, so let's not get too excited. But still!

"So," you ask, "what are you thinking of it at page 93?" Erm...I'm thinking...Agamemnon is...kind of a weenie.

Now, I know you're thinking, "I already knew that! Everybody knows that! Why not just say you noticed it's about the Trojan War, and be done with the obvious. Jeeze!" To which our heroine responds, "Look, I never promised y'all unique and exciting insights, just my thoughts, which are probably going to be the same thoughts that everyone in the history of the reading of this poem has thought."

Except, now I know why everyone thinks Agamemnon is such a weenie at the beginning of the poem. Because he is! He's selfish, immature and a bad leader of men. I'm not at all surprised that Achilles is teed off at him. But I am also very, very curious whether he stays this way. Something tells me he's going to have to eat crow for his bad behavior towards Achilles, and I wonder if that exercise in humility will ultimately change or redeem him.

Of course, this is probably what everyone wonders at page 93.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Our Heroine Gives a Tip

Here is a tip, free of charge, from our heroine. If you are ever feeling gloomy, grim and in a dark state of mind, if your soul, such as it is, needs jacking up, then run, don't walk, to your nearest bookseller and buy Right Ho, Jeeves!. Of course, read the whole thing if you can, but if you can't, read the chapter entitled "Gussie Presents the Prizes."

This chapter, in which Gussie Fink-Nottle, incapable of uttering more than two consecutive words coherently, must give a speech at a British country grammar school, is one of the most hilarious things I have ever read.

That is because Gussie's friend Bertie Wooster, determined to help him in his hour of need, generously laces Fink-Nottle's morning o.j. with gin. Peeps familiar with Bertie already know that he has "yet to meet the trouble that cannot be dispersed with a few drinks taken in quick succession." Except in this case, Gussie has never had alcohol before, so hijinx totally ensue. Go. read. You can thank our heroine later.

Our Heroine Feels a Twinge of Guilt

Ok, ok, y'all, I just finished The Heart of the Matter, and I feel like a big meanie. I wish an eagle-eyed reader had let me know not to be so hell-bent for leather re: a certain "Scobie smackdown" I was demanding. That poor fella.

I won't write any more about it so as not to give anything away. But I did want to share this lovely quote from the final chapter. Extrapolate from it what you will.

She said drearily, "Father, haven't you any comfort to give me?"

Oh, the conversations, he thought, that go on in a house after a death, the turnings over, the discussions, the questions, the demands -- so much noise round the edge of silence.

Our Heroine Sees A Movie

The Third Man, to be precise. The last of the Graham Greene noir movies to be shown at BAM, thank Heaven! Anyhow, it's no fault of the movie that I'm glad it's the last. The flick itself was solidly awesome. I'm repeating a thousand critics before me when I mention the zither score. Yes, it's as amazing as they say it is (and oddly creepy in it's unrelenting jauntiness). And the final chase scene through the underground drains is equally worth the praise heaped upon it.

But I throw my hands up in disgust at myself and ask, "Am I a book snob or what?!" I mean, I read in my Portable Graham Greene that the novel The Third Man was never meant to be published. That Greene felt you couldn't write a proper screenplay without first writing a fully-fleshed story. So he writes the novel The Third Man, always intending it to be a movie, then he does the screenplay adaptation, and then says that the movie is, "the finished state of the story." So, if ever there was a situation in which the movie is going to be head and shoulders above the book on which it's based, it's this one, right? Right. And yet...I still liked the book better.

Again, it's not the movie's fault, it's mine. I simply heart good potboiler prose, like this:

How quickly one becomes aware of silence even in so silent a city as Vienna with the snow steadily settling. Martins hadn't reached the second floor before he was convinced that he would not find Lime there, but the silence was deeper than just absence -- it was as if he would not find Lime anywhere in Vienna, and, as he reached the third floor and saw the big black bow over the door handle, anywhere in the world at all.

C'mon, that's good right? That's really, really good (especially considering that no one was ever supposed to read it). Talk about something being better than it had to be.

So, go, Netflix thee a copy of the movie, but even in this instance, you've got to read the book too.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Our Heroine Laughs Out Loud

The point of this blog is to talk about intellectual things non-pompously. However, if all pompous intellectuals were as HILARIOUS as these two, I would want to be a pompous intellectual at every moment of the day.

Our Heroine Self-Identifies

I don't know whether it was my predilection for thingummies, or my hatred of climbing stairs, but somehow, I'm terza rima. Didn't you always suspect as much?

I'm terza rima, and I talk and smile.
Where others lock their rhymes and thoughts away
I let mine out, and chatter all the while.

I'm rarely on my own - a wasted day
Is any day that's spent without a friend,
With nothing much to do or hear or say.

I like to be with people, and depend
On company for being entertained;
Which seems a good solution, in the end.

What Poetry Form Are You?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Our Heroine Returns from a Holiday

This post was supposed to go up on Ash Wednesday. I've been on blog holiday! (Actually, I've just been blog-lazy.)

Anyhow, in the interim I've been heavily overdosing on Graham Greene. This film festival at BAM has forced me to read four, count 'em four, Greene novels in four weeks: Ministry of Fear, A Gun for Sale, Brighton Rock and The Third Man. I am going to see the last film at BAM tomorrow night with Father A., and although I'm finished with all four novels, it felt silly to start reading something non-Greene before the festival ended, so now I am in the middle of The Heart of the Matter.

I find Greene, in single doses, to effect in me a sense of hope. His broken, shabby heroes, taken one-at-a-time, really do remind me of "the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God." Taken five at a time though, they're just depressing. Here's an illustration of what I mean. I started reading Greene this month with Ministry of Fear and I'm ending with The Heart of the Matter. Turns out, these are fitting bookends. Both protagonists, Arthur Rowe in MOF and Henry Scobie in HOTM, suffer from a surfeit of pity, in particular towards their wives. I know that Greene thought that pity, as opposed to compassion, was a manifestation of the sin of pride. However, the difference in my reaction to both characters shows the wearying effect of five consecutive Greene novels. I really sympathised with Arthur Rowe, I even forgave him for the "mercy" killing of his wife. But Scobie I find just patronizing and tiresome. I long for a Scobie smackdown. Seriously, y'all, it's not healthy the way I want him punished for his pride, in a way that I did not want for Rowe. Of course, I haven't finished Scobie's story yet, so I may get what I want, but it's not happening soon enough for me.

After all this Greene I am so tired of the mediocrity, the shabbiness, and the frailty of all his characters. I'm tired of the doubting priests, the querulous wives, the faithless husbands, the petty spies, the ignorant policemen, the lame, the hair-lipped, the obese. Of course, I've only read five novels in four weeks and I'm already sick of the human race. How totally comforting to think that God has witnessed this same stuff - and worse - for thousands of years and loves us madly still.

For our far-from-saintly heroine, however, it's clearly time for some pallet-cleansing Wodehouse. Right ho!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Our Heroine Observes a Holy Day

Remember woman that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.

I will try to write a larger post later today on Graham Greene's Ministry of Fear. Today being Ash Wednesday, a Graham Greene post seems appropriate, n'est pas?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Our Heroine Consults a Giant Squid

Tentacle-y goodness: Ask A Giant Squid

This being a semi-literary blog, I highly recommend the Giant Squid's advice regarding a certain "Dickens Conundrum." This quote from the inquiry made me laugh out loud.

[Tiny] Tim was quite a floater when he drifted down the dirty and wretched river which may or may not be the Thames on his days of recreation, and so Tim is placed in the ground floor of a charitable institution which remains unnamed because the previous owner of my copy pasted small pictures of a cat over every appearance of the word for reasons which are naturally quite beyond me, but didn't seem worth fretting over at the time since I was able to talk the bookseller down to fifteen for my copy, cats and all, and also the parts where a previous owner, possibly the same one, took a hole-punch and excised every noun in chapters fourteen and three, so it really was a deal as you can plainly see, Giant Squid.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Our Heroine Has a Moment of Self Recognition

I think I may be an anonymous apostrophe flinger. 'Sup?

Our Heroine Makes a False Start

Y'all, it is not a good sign for the success of this project that my first, post-intro post has nothing to do with The Iliad.

It's just that before I get started on that 800 lb. gorilla, something came up that I have got to focus on. BAM Rose Cinemas, very near to where I live, is screening "Graham Greene Noir" from February 22 to March 30. Wot's all this then? Well, allow me to quote you from the program:
Novelist Graham Greene was a master of murder and mayhem—from international
intrigue to back-room deals gone bad, no one does British noir better, as this
series of four features based on his writings proves.

Word. I am so psyched! Especially to see Ministry of Fear, because it contains a trifecta of things I love: British film noir, Graham Greene and Ray Milland. Pretty awesome, right?

Here's the rub, like The Iliad, I've never read Ministry of Fear. And I can't see the movie without having read the novel first, it's a personal credo. So I bought the book today at Barnes and Noble and have to read the whole thing by showtime Thursday. With some cafe mochas from Starbucks I can totally do it, but I can't read The Iliad concurrently.

If you know Greene, I think you'll empathize. If you don't know him, trust me on this, in my shoes you'd be doing the same thing. He's such a compelling rascal, our Mr. Greene is. And don't worry, I'll tell you all about it!

Our Heroine Explains What She is About

To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born. Just kidding, y'all! Don't panic, we haven't even gotten to Dickens yet -- it's just that Homer doesn't have any good heroine's origin lines (that I know of, which is sort of the point of this blog).

Who am I? Alas! I am a very daydream-y and distractable bookworm. What does that mean? It means that despite a degree in English, there is an awful lot of wonderful stuff out there that I've never read, either because the vagaries of college syllabus-planning meant something was never assigned to me, or, because I was too busy daydreaming about marrying Lord Byron to actually pay attention to reading Lord Byron.

I've tried to correct the oversight. In fact, every year for the past five years, my New Year's resolution has been to read the big five works of the Western Canon (aka: the 800 lb gorillas of Western lit): The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, The Inferno and Paradise Lost. And every year, I get to Book Three of The Iliad, love every word of it, but get distracted by the new Oprah magazine, or Lost, or some spy thriller from the 1930's (Graham Greene, you are a rascal, you are!), and I put it aside, never to be revisited until the following January.

This year I intend to finish what I started, get through all five, and tell y'all about it. Of course, being who I am, it is likely you will also be peppered with my thoughts on food, fashion, the aforementioned Lost, movies, friends and family, and finding the perfect duvet cover.