Thursday, April 24, 2008

Memories of friend's houses in childhood

I was listening to a radio show on Proust this afternoon, and today I seem to be remembering my childhood. Specifically, friend's houses.

My neighbor friend, Jeff, had a house that smelled like cinnamon, and his mom made great sugar cookies. We played this board game, I think it was called Labyrinth, and it had pictures of little monsters. In the summer sometimes we'd go outside, and once I had a cherry tomato, although I was disappointed that it didn't taste like a cherry. After Christmas one year, Jeff got a lego castle set. It had a drawbridge you could open and close. There were copper dough molds on the walls, and they had a copper-colored dog named Rusty.

Summer afternoons, we would eat macaroni and cheese out on the patio (this is a different friend). They had a picnic bench with an umbrella, for shade, and it was always in the wrong spot. After lunch we would get otter pops from the freezer in the garage. There was a kid's table that had a scratch n' sniff sticker on each corner. I was always trying to sniff the pizza-flavored one. We made miniature golf courses in the sandbox. It was cool when we could make an arch that the ball could go over and under. There was a large bush on the hill, and we would play in it and on it. It was kind of prickly though. Their computer was in his parent's room, and it was right next to a window, so his mom could see from the backyard if we were still playing a game.

At Lisa's we would often play super Nintendo together. We played Super Mario Bros. 3 and Donkey Kong 2. We also played Aladdin. I was never very good at the games, probably due to my lack of practice time. She had lots of Barbie dolls that we would play with, and we would trade Sailor Moon cards from the quarter machine in Toys R Us. Her mom had a collection of elephant figurines that we would look at sometimes. There was one made of pewter, supposedly cursed, that looked like it might steal your soul. Once I started eating a huge bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats, but my mom came over before I could finish it. I felt really bad about that. During one of Lisa's sleepovers we did a play of the movie "Chucky," which I had never seen. I was a very good actress and screamed quite convincingly.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Books want to be read, research says

New research from the University of Winnapeg in Teluma, Kentucky shows that books are designed to make the reader want to finish them. "Chapters are shorter and end in cliff-hangers. These are all designs to keep readers feeling like they're covering a lot of ground and to keep them curious about what happens next," says Dan Sharpe, first author of the article entitled "Ways books help themselves: The changing novel in the 21rst century."

"Back in the day, books only had to have an interesting first five pages. Now readers expect an interesting first 100 pages." Sharpe says this increasing demand from books is the result of our fast-paced electronic era. Steven Bloom, a used bookstore owner from Lehardia, agrees: "You can now find book reviews in a few seconds using the Interweb. It makes it much more difficult to sell a book that might be more difficult to read."

However, the advent of the Internet has also allowed book buyers to find more books they want to read, with GoodReads, online book groups, and Amazon's "if you liked that you will like this" feature. Time can only tell what the future of the novel holds.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Easily confused things

-Sons and Lovers and Fathers and Sons (and "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," at some point)
-Mel Brooks, Mel Gibson, and Garth Brooks
-"onomastic" and "onanistic"
-Kuragin and Karagin in War and Peace
Bob Marley and Bob Dylan... until you realize that one is totally reggae and the other is folk rock!
-Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix (they both have... rare letters in their names!)
-All The King's Men and All The President's Men
-Dr. Zhivago and Dr. Strangelove (people? books?)
-"Cat's Cradle" the Cat Stevens song and Cat's Cradle the Vonnegut book
-Virgil, vigil, and virginal
-etymology and entymology
-Guns and Roses and Iron and Wine
-philandering and philanthropy
-Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas
-fornication and formication
-other things that I will think of and add later

Thursday, April 17, 2008

research paper... on fiction?

I'm attempting to put together a research paper about Anna Karenina, specifically, the psychology of Anna and Kitty's illnesses, which are caused more by psychosocial stress than anything physical. But stress affects people physically! That is the least of my worries. I feel weird saying that characters in a novel exhibit features of a mental illness. Am I trying to diagnose a made-up person? The world of fiction is separate from ours! I am imposing science's reality on Tolstoy's diagetic reality, and it isn't jiving with me. "Not jiving" is a poor excuse though, so I'm going to have to write the paper anyway, even though I disagree with the whole idea.

Why am I having such a hard time with this paper? My last research paper practically birthed itself, although then I was mostly summing up research rather than analyzing a text with the analysis supported by research. The two epistemologies are so different! Writing this paper is like trying to explain why we like apples by putting a slice under a microscope and describing its structure. It's just so much easier and makes so much more sense to be superficial... the apple tastes good because it's sweet, there. Granted, it doesn't take up 12 pages...