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.