There’s nothing I love more than lists. Lists are amazing. I hardly ever complete them, (TRANSLATION: nope. I never complete them) but we have wistful relationship. Sort of like my relationship with my violin – full of longing and missing talent.
Last year, I didn’t complete a single resolution. Not. One. So I thought, hmm … let me learn from this. Let me try to set achievable things. Let me … WRITE THE LONGEST TO DO LIST YET!!
Ah, yes. I really learn from my mistakes.
BOOKS I WANT TO READ
A Dickens (WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?!!!!)
The Candy Machine: How Cocaine Took Over The World by Tom Feiling
Two indie books
Mere Christianity by C.S Lewis
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand
Nine Day Queen of England by Faith Cook
Pride and Prejudice (I’ve tried, but have yet to succeed)
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
A book by P.G Wodehouse (this will be a GREAT hardship)
Two books by Georgette Heyer (SUCH HARDSHIP)
BLOG THINGS TO BE DONE
Two posts a week (HAHAHAHA)
Two Heyer Recountings
A Dickens Recounting
Two Guest Interviews
A few ‘Terrible Movies I’ve Loved’ posts
Greater interaction on other blogs
WRITING THINGS I’D LIKE TO ACHIEVE
Finish The Elf Stew
Edit and republish Our Intrepid Heroine
Enter a short story competition
Submit an article/short story for publication in a magazine/e-zine (is that what they’re called nowadays?)
OTHER LIFE THINGS
Skate the Rideau Canal
Arrive back in England in one piece with sanity intact (WHAT SANITY?!)
Maintain daily devotions throughout the year
Strive to be kinder
I think – in order to encourage myself – I will cross off this list as I go. So be sure to check back. It’s a riveting sport.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t really mind if one thing or everything or nothing gets crossed off my List To End All My Lists – what matters, I think, is put most succinctly in this verse from Micah 6 v 8:
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
(Though, of course, if I don’t manage to read a Dickens, I shall be BITTERLY disappointed.)
Well, it’s been over a month now. I’m still here. I’m still alive.
In my head I’ve been keeping a ‘clothesometer’; if it’s ten degrees outside, I wear this. If it’s zero degrees with a wind chill factor, I wear that. I think I’m going to write a book containing my Vast and Very Wise Knowledge.
So far I’ve acquired:
Winter boots – expensive but oh so comfy
One of those sleeveless jacket down things (I excel at technical terms. Clearly)
An under jacket thing.
Two winter coats
I bought some winter wear with me, so I think – with a few more additions – I just might survive. Ha. Probably.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of watching your bus disappear into the distance. Or arriving at the bus stop to have someone tell you that your bus has been and come and gone.
I’ve run after buses, I’ve waited for buses, I’ve missed a bus because I was reading, looked up and ‘oh that’s my bus, whizzing past like a sprinting ostrich.’
All in all, buses and I have a complex and codependent relationship. On my part. They don’t care whether I come or go. It’s a harsh and cruel, cold (heh) truth.
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Dun. Dun dun dun dun dunnnnnnnn … I can cross ‘Watching the Phantom of The Opera’ off my to-do list. I SAW IT FOLKS!! I saw it. That moment when the music thunders and the lights flash and the chandelier bursts into life? Shivers. Genuine shivers.
I grew slightly irritated with the younglings who were chatter-whispering behind me for did they not know how important and incredible this show was!!
My tears wanted to roll at the Phantom’s last sung words; all that longing, and all that heartache. Even though I was seated in the second from last seats (32Z, instead of 32ZZ. There’s a difference) it was wondrous.
They did some sound wizardry at one point AND THE PHANTOM’S VOICE CAME FROM BEHIND MY HEAD. (Please add squealing and a multitude of exclamation marks after that.)
I could probably ramble on and on about my theories regarding Erik and how he was never taught regular human behaviours and how Christine isn’t right for him (well, as she is in the book and play) and how he needs some real help and professional therapy etc etc etc. But that’s for another time and another day.
For years, I have been a Phan. (Aw gee, that sounds cheesy. But I stand by it. So. Pfft.) And now I’ve revisited the story, the movie, the music, the play, and the phanfiction (seriously! there is some great phanfiction out there.). The only things lacking are:
a reread of Gaston Leroux’s book
watching some of the older movies
And now I’ve seen the play. Live. As in right there. In front of me.
… and now I need to go back and watch it again. But a) the play has left Montreal and b) I have a budget to stick to (HAHAHA. I mean. Yes. Yes, I do) and so I will make do with a movie.
I’ve been reading, quite extensively at times. Old favourites, new ones. Gorging on a new-found author. (Erm, not literally.)
It seems that the closer I come to The Adventure, the more I try to avoid thinking about it. It’s subconscious, I don’t think ‘come now, Ness, let us avoid reality.’ But, it happens. I’m excited about The Adventure, terribly so. Nervous, anxious, itching to get on with it. But staying whelmed by reading.
(That’s the opposite of overwhelmed. I’m giving it a new definition.)
… or I’m reading so much because I am a dedicated bookworm at heart. It could just be that too.
i’m getting hitched
I didn’t know it until last night, but I am well on my way to matrimonial bliss. An Englishman, Irishman, and Scotsman (doesn’t that sound like the setup for a joke?) walked into my place of work.
(Well, I know that one was Irish, one was Scottish, and the other was either English or Irish or Scottish. I’m not sure; the ear I should have for accents is profoundly deaf.)
The probable Englishman (‘my name’s such and such, but you can call me ‘fiance”) admitted that he didn’t have enough cash for a quick elopement to Las Vegas, so the Scotsman gamely stepped up and offered (‘I do‘ he said, clearly foreshadowing our vows).
We’re getting married in Las Vegas on the 12th of September (he was too busy on the 10th) and are going to have matching tattoos, and flame-haired children.
So that’s that sorted, then.
This is a bit embarrassing. I’ve been suffering a mighty writer’s block brought about by three things:
Tiredness, due to work
A Wish To Read Instead, due to my bookworm nature
Lack Of Will Power, I’ve got the word document open often enough – but rarely do I actually, oh, I don’t know, add actual words.
BUT I HAVE HAD A BREAKTHROUGH. (And this is the embarrassing bit.)
I’ve changed the font.
I was writing until half one last night/early this morning. AND ALL I DID WAS CHANGE THE FONT.
I just … nope. Why? Why does my brain act this way? Why?! Why couldn’t it have been ‘you must bathe in the milk of a unicorn at dawn when the crow calls twice with lisp and once with a hiccup’ or something like that. But noooo, it turns out that I’m a simple woman with simple ways to get over things: have writer’s block? Change the font. Boom. Done.
I think I’d make a terrible arty book heroine; I’ve no complicated connection to my artistic soul. Fonts. That’s the key. I’m not bitter about it, or anything …
My second readolution is finished. The Three Musketeers was a hybrid read – I read about a third of it in paperback and finished the rest in ebook format. I know, I know. How terrible of me. I feel no guilt.
I have loosely watched the BBC adaption of The Three Musketeers and so had a mental image of some of the characters. It turns out that when I was reading and picturing Athos, I was actually picturing Aramis.
(Apparently, I’m quite good at mixing people like this – fictional or otherwise. I once spent an entire tennis match cheering for the wrong person. It was very confusing.)
Anyway, back to the recounting …
D’Artagnan is a) a playah and b) a victim of insta-lurve! At the same time. Dude.
How he meets the Musketeers is hilarious – he manages to offend them all, one after the other. Accidentally. He’s also a little puppy like and you can’t help but like him.
“I am at the age of extravagant hopes, monseigneur,” said d’Artganan.
Oh. And he’s also a Gascon. (A fact repeatedly mentioned.) Did anyone picture the below when Gascon was mentioned? (Yes, I know – there is a difference between a Gascon and Gaston. But still …)
Porthos … ah, Porthos. He’s brash and vain, but he can maintain a silence. A majestic silence. No. Really. He can:
Porthos maintained a majestic silence.
… anyone who can do such a thing has my respect.
Aramis is torn between the church, his one true love and the possession of a handkerchief.
Athos is my favourite musketeer. He’s rather cool.
Athos listened to him without a frown; and when he had finished, said, “Trifles, only trifles!” That was his favourite word.
He has a favourite word! (Mine isn’t ‘trifles’ but I’ll overlook our differences.) He’s haunted by a troublesome past, can barricade himself in the cellar of an inn with style and is the musketeer closest to d’Artagnan.
Milady … my word, she was such a good villain. She saw opportunities and she grabbed those opportunities and cast such petty things as morals and conscience to the wind. Villains – female villains – of her ilk you don’t often see.
Chapter 26 ‘Aramis and His Thesis’ is brilliant. D’Artagnan arrives to find Aramis about to enter the church, in the company of a curate and a Jesuit. Sheer. Gold. The curate pretends to know Latin and just echoes it after the Jesuit, whilst d’Artagnan is just like ‘Wha-?’
“See what an exordium!” cried the Jesuit.
“Exordium,” repeated the curate, for the sake of saying something. “QUEMADMODUM INTER COELORUM IMMNSITATEM.”
Aramis cast a glance upon d’Artagnan to see what effect all this produced, and found his friend gaping enough to split his jaws.
Chapter 47 ‘The Council of the Musketeers’ is awesome. Basically the heroes need to have a chat but the cardinal has eyes and ears everywhere. Their solution? Simples. Make a bet that they can have lunch in the middle of some sort of no man’s land. The cardinal won’t suspect a thing.
So they’re in the middle of Serious Discussions and all the while they are under fire and have to oh so casually fight for their lives whilst eating lunch and plotting. And they say women are the best multitaskers …
Chapters 63, 64, 65 and 66 – AKA the Ending. The whole thing. As I was with How to Train Your Dragon 2, I was shocked – shocked! – when a character died. I honestly thought that they were still alive until they were either burned or buried. It was then that I realised that they were dead. Not comic book dead. But dead dead.
In short: It took a while for me to get into this book, but after it got moving? It was such great fun.
Two readolutions down, an attempt on Dickens is next …
Take a dash of daring do, throw in a bit of casual racism, a pinch of beautiful prose and a dollop of nail biting tension and what do you have?
King Solomon’s Mines
by H. Rider Haggard
***There Be Spoilers Ahead***
Look, let’s get the ‘casual racism’ out of the way. Yep, I know that it’s a classic and therefore a wee bit antiquated but still … it yanks my chain to read Allan Quatermain’s condescending attitudes towards those of a different skin colour.
But no amount of beauty or refinement could have made an entanglement between Good and herself a desirable occurrence; for, as she herself put it, “Can the sun mate with the darkness, or the white with the black?”
I’m not going to rant and rave, though. I’m simply going to say this: however old the book, wrong views are still wrong. Being a ‘classic’ doesn’t make it okay. Mmkay?
Right, and now I’ve vented my chief problem with the story (the other one is elephants. And the killing of them. WHY, Allan? Did you know that elephants walk on tip-toe. Why would you slaughter creatures that are literally charging on tip toe towards you? Me no understand) let’s move on to the rest of this recounting.
King Solomon’s Mines tells of the search by Sir Henry Curtis, Captain John Good and the narrator, Allan Quatermain, for Sir Henry’s younger brother George. He has been lost in the interior of Africa for two years in his quest for King Solomon’s Mines, the legendary source of the biblical king’s enormous riches. The three companions encounter fearful hardships, fierce warriors, mortal danger and the sinister and deadly witch Gagool.
The Intrepid Trio:
First, let me say that Sir Henry is my favourite character by far. I love him. He reminds of Radcliff Emerson and that, my friends, is a splendiferous thing. He’s big, strong and brave and can remove an evil man’s head with ease (it’s an important life skill).
Whilst I didn’t like Captain John Good too much, he still managed to tumble down slopes, nearly die in caverns and escape drowning all with an eyeglass screwed in. And if that isn’t the definition of epic, I don’t know what is.
And also, there’s this:
Whilst we were at Durban he [Good] cut off a Kafir’s big toe in a way which it was a pleasure to see.
Personally I don’t find toe removal a pleasure to see. In fact, I’d rather avoid it. However, I do find the rest of that passage amusing:
But he was quite nonplussed when the Kafir, who had sat stolidly watching the operation, asked him to put on another, saying that a “white one” would do at a pinch.
Allan Quatermain is … an interesting chap. A hunter, he’s short, proclaims himself a timid sort of man and at the beginning, was annoyingly voluble. (I’m a timid man, he says. But not too timid to make long speeches of drawn out deliberation it seems.)
I warmed to him a little as thing went along, because he was quite an interesting character after all. (And yes, I’ve used ‘interesting’ twice to describe him, but it’s true.) He’s not entirely bland nor entirely bigoted – his opinions, though wrong, are a product of his time. Even his big game hunting was considered fine and dandy back then. (Even though I baulked at the wholesale slaughter of those poor, innocent elephants.) He calls himself a coward and yet still charges into the fray.
While I wouldn’t say, ‘My word, that Allan Quatermain!’ (As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t say that to anyone about anyone. But, ahem, that’s beside the point) he’s okay (mostly – those elephants and those views and that- No. Not going there.)
Also: his internal monologues are quite fascinating to read and this one stood out to me amidst the rest:
Yet man dies not whilst the world, at once his mother and his monument, remains. His name is lost, indeed, but the breath he breathed still stirs the pine-tops on the mountains, the sound of the words he spoke yet echoes on through space; the thoughts his brain gave birth to we have inherited to-day; his passions are our cause of life; the joys and sorrows that he knew are our familiar friends–the end from which he fled aghast will surely overtake us also!
Truly the universe is full of ghosts, not sheeted churchyard spectres, but the inextinguishable elements of individual life, which having once been, can never die, though they blend and change, and change again for ever.
Moments From The Story:
I’m going to put this into bullet points. Though do be warned – this is not in chronological order.
Someone gets ripped apart by an elephant (oh no! They’re fighting back?!)
Another gets crushed by a stone door (FATALITYYYYY!!! Too far? Too far.)
There’s a huge battle – which to be honest, I didn’t find too exciting. I think between Sutcliff and Henty I’ve accidently lost my love of battles. If I ever had one, that is. From what I recall of Henty he copied and pasted from history books. Or rather it always felt like he did.
A ‘will they survive the desert’ period which was so well written it made me anxious.
A brutal fight between Sir Henry and the Evil King. Sir Henry escapes with a scar on his face. The Evil King? You could say he was headed for trouble when he started fighting.
The above was a terrible pun.
A terribly funny pun
Whilst there were moments I did enjoy, as a whole, I didn’t find this book an easy read. I’m not sure if it’s because I wasn’t quite in the right mood at the times of reading or if it and I just weren’t meant to be friends.
One readolution down, five more to go. I’m not sure I can face Crime and Punishment right now, or Lorna Doone. Nope, for the next book off my readolution list, I’m choosing The Three Musketeers because my thirst for adventure has yet to be quenched.
In memory of all the fictional elephants slain in King Solomon’s Mines