Monday, 28 June 2010

Literary Cleanup, book #9



Daisy Miller - Henry James (free to read @ Project Gutenberg)

Another one bites the dust. Daisy Miller tells the story of the various encounters between Winterbourne, a classy american young man studying in Europe and the eponymous american girl who is...non-conventional to say the least. It's not the easiest of reads because the descriptions sometimes seem long-winded and almost pointless - how many times do you have to tell me that Daisy is the prettiest pretty that ever prettied? Also, I fail to see the charm in her, when, throughout the book, she just seems like an immature, volatile and hedonistic young lady. Sure, she's pretty, but every time someone characterized her as "innocent", I couldn't help by chuckle, because it seemed clear to me that her every word was calculated to provoke longing in the gentleman that surrounded her. Essentially, what I'm saying is...Daisy Miller is a cock-tease.
Note this, however: even though I didn't like her, and even though I think the only reason Winterbourne kept going to her despite being shut down every time was because he thought he could tame her and transform her into the perfect girl he imagined...I liked this. I liked the story, and I liked that the characters actually brought out a reaction in me, which speaks of James' style of writing, I think. Plus, much like Winterbourne, I was indeed intrigued by her real motives and how it would unfold in the end. If you like period pieces, then this is a good one to consider.

Excerpt:

Por um instante fez uma nova pausa; olhava para Winterbourne com toda a beleza dos seus olhos francos e alegres, o seu claro, se bem que um tanto uniforme, sorriso.

- Sempre tive muita vida social com cavalheiros - afirmou.

O pobre Winterbourne estava divertido e perplexo - acima de tudo estava encantado. Nunca ouvira uma única rapariga exprimir-se daquela maneira; ou, pelo menos, nunca senão nos casos em que dizer tais coisas correspondia a ter, ao mesmo tempo, uma assaz complicada consciência delas. E no entanto deveria ele acusar Miss Daisy Miller de um real ou potencial arrière-pensée, como se dizia em Genebra? Sentinu que tinha vivido durante tanto tempo em Genebra que acabara por ficar moralmente confuso; tinha perdido o sentido correcto do jovem tom americano.

Friday, 25 June 2010

What, what?

In the butt, obviously.

As if I needed more reasons to like the Queens of the Stone Age/Josh Homme, here's the acoustic version of that lovely classic, What What (In the Butt):



What what (in the butt) is not only a question but it needs an answer, and the answer is let's do it the butt, okay.

Wise words, Mr. Homme.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Literary Cleanup, book #8



The Call of the Wild - Jack London (free to read/hear @ Project Gutenberg)

I knew nothing about Jack London prior to reading this book. I'm not sure if I now know anything about who he is now, because The Call of the Wild isn't your average short story. First off, you are reading from the perspective of a dog (Buck) and the time seems to flow much faster even though from the time you are introduced to Buck up to the end of the book, only 6 years have passed. Well, I'm not completely sure it's 6 years, but it's probably not much more than that. And again, it's a weird one because I'm not sure how to feel about it. For one, I kept flinching at every mention of animal cruelty - and there is a lot of it. Not gratuitous, I think - it's reasonable to assume that such things happened...and sadly, some of them still continue to happen today. Still, apart from that, there really wasn't time to connect with the characters and even if I consider that maybe this was intentional, to show how different animals are in different situations, I cannot say I really enjoyed this one. Not that it's bad, mind you, but to me, it's so forgettable I honestly cannot say I'm interesting in reading any other of Jack London's books. As usual, I may give him the benefit of doubt.


Excerpt:

Buck não lia os jornais, pelo que não sabia que iriam surgir problemas, não só para si próprio como para todos os cães de grande porte, com músculos poderosos e pêlo longo e quente, de Puget Sound a San Diego. E isso porque os homens, tacteando na escuridão árctica, tinham encontrado um metal amarelo e, tendo em vista o enorme valor atribuído à descoberta pelas companhias de navegação e transportes, precipitavam-se aos milhares para as terras do Norte. Esses homem queriam cães, cães possantes, com músculos fortes para a labuta e pêlo espesso que os protegesse do gelo.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Literary Cleanup, book #7



A Queda D'um Anjo - Camilo Castelo Branco (free to read @ Project Gutenberg)


Been wanting to finish this one for quite some time. I had tried to read it before, but I always got stuck in the first few chapters. Now I know it really isn't my fault because the book starts with a whole lot of establishing who the main character is, how he behaves, looks and feels about the world, and in particular, politics. A Queda D'um Anjo is the story of Calisto Elói, a simple man from the Minho region who comes to Lisbon because he's persuaded by his closest friends that he should be in the parliament, setting the example. I won't reveal too much, but I'll say this: the title explains it all. It's a very cutting novel, digging into the worst of our political class - and it is, unfortunately, not dated in the slightest. I read that this book is quite different from what we would expect of Castelo Branco, since he's mainly known for his novels. As the only other one I've read is Amor de Perdição, I can't judge, but I will recommend this, as it is a very easy and gripping read. Also, it has many funny moments, especially when Calisto is just settling in his Lisbon quarters. In one of them, for example, he was feeling a bit under the weather, so he decided to follow the advice of one of his "classics" and drink the reinvigorating water from a fountain in Lisbon. It just so happens that after drinking that water, he felt even worse, which made him look at the book again and see that the cure for an upset stomach (which was caused by the same, possibly polluted water he drank) was drinking some more of that water. That chapter ends with the narrator informing us that from then on, he only drank wine.
Also, note that the cover I used above is not the same as on my edition of the book, but I don't have a scanner here, so that will have to do. Besides, it's much more interesting than my plain blue cover.
The following excerpt is dedicated to my good friend, @jjnopants.


Excerpt:

Fez Calisto uma longa pausa, e prosseguiu, interpolando os dizeres com algumas pitadas, que solenizavam a gravidade das falas.

- Ninguém devera casar sem muito ler e sem aplaudir aqueles preceito do casamento escritos pelo eminentíssimo Plutarco.
- Não conheço - disse a dama... - Li Le mariage, de Balzac.
- Não sei quem é; deve ser francês.
- Pois não leu?
- Eu não leio francês. Não me chega o meu tempo para tirar águas sujas de poços infectos.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Sex and the City 2 liveblog thing...kind of.

I can't sleep, and am in need of something quite brainless. So, let's put on Sex and the City 2, shall we?


01.31 Omid Djalili is in it. I'm betting his part will involve asian stereotypes. Lots of 'em.

03.16 Most believable 80's/90's outfit? Samantha's, closely followed by Miranda.

04.07 "LOL, THE GAYS ARE GETTING MARRIED." Oh, Sex and City...remember when you were actually not a cliché?

05.27 So, Carrie is wearing a suit and bow-tie, and Big just said "ooops, your fly is down" in a tone reminiscent of a low budget porn movie.

06.14 "LOL, EVEN THOUGH WE SAID IT WASN'T A GAY WEDDING JUST BECAUSE GAYS ARE MARRIED, WE'VE ARRIVED TO FIND THAT EVERYTHING IS QUITE GAY. LOL. THIS IS COMEDIC."

06.28 Damn, Miranda looks nice in that dress. Cleavage down to her shoes, but I think think she looks quite nice.

06.45 Samantha brought her dog, which surprises everyone. This prompts her to say "it's a gay wedding...one more bitch with attitude doesn't make that much difference". Yeah.

08.22 Quoting Madonna lyrics. I wonder if the younger girls watching this knew that was a reference to something else.

09.34 I have to stop listing each reference to "LOL, THE GAYS".

11.00 "Could this wedding get any gayer?" "Look who's marrying them" ...and it's Liza Minelli. I'd react to this, but I left my emotions on my pants, and I'm not wearing them right now.

11.13 Okay, this was amusing. "How did they get Liza to do this?" "When there's this much gay energy in a room, she manifests." I cannot explain why, but I'm quite weird when it comes to jokes about gay stereotypes. To me, that one is amusing, but the whole "I'LL BRING A FEMALE DOG BECAUSE THIS IS SO GAY IT'S FULL OF BITCHES" doesn't really float my boat.

12.46 WAT. Liza is singing a version of "Single Ladies". I...I cannot. Give me a second, I have to get some water.

13.23 Okay, she's doing the choreography too. Well, some of it, anyway.

13.56 Charlotte's perfect marriage apparently isn't perfect. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS, OMC?

I agree completely.