The Two Towers Liveblog Session 2

9:07PM: LIVEBLOGGING HAS ENDED. Thanks for tuning in for this miserably boring chapter that rehashed the conclusions we were pretty much able to draw from the previous chapter.

8:04PM: LIVEBLOG SESSION HAPPENING NOW. All blogging/commentary will be made as comments in response to this post.

After an overhyped football game and a Hallmark holiday about love interfering with my reading schedule, I’ll be back at you tonight at 8pm with more of The Two Towers liveblog experience. Needless to say, this liveblog is going to be a hell of a lot funnier if you participate, so join me right here at 8pm for a dose of high fantasy and total nonsense.

First time hearing about this? You must be filtering my inane postings out of your Facebook feed! But you can still get the scoop on why I’m doing this and what it’s about right here.

As foolish as four Hobbits leaving the Shire: live-blogging The Two Towers

In December I decided I was going to give the Lord of the Rings trilogy another shot, so I brought Fellowship of the Ring home to read through January. Then I started posting commentary about the book while I was reading, which people seemed to find relatively amusing. This, unfortunately for the internet, contributed to my personal delusion that I’m funny, and got me thinking that perhaps I should step up the ridiculousness in my first-ever complete reading of this fantasy epic. Instead of just making the occasional offhanded comment, why not live-blog the whole thing like some sort of culturally significant current event?

So, as I read The Two Towers, I will be live-blogging jokes, thoughts, and the like on What the Fidd as they occur to me. Ideally, I’ll notify you guys far enough in advance of each live-blog session that people can be engaging with me while I’m reading, trading comments back and forth. Needless to say, this is going to be slow going. Given how long it took me to do the first two chapters, I’m only going to do this a chapter at a time, which  means this may continue for a while, depending on the rest of my schedule (not every day is the Snowpocalypse, after all).

I hope you’ll join me in this completely silly venture and continue to support my egregiously incorrect belief that I am hilarious.

Jan/Feb books

So, a while ago you might remember that I mentioned I was reading The Fellowship of the Ring, which I finished just in time to meet my January two-book goal. Pretty enjoyable read that went much better than my previous attempt some years ago that also spawned some hilarious tweets and the idea to live-blog The Two Towers (more on that in my next post, or review the absurdity in the previous post). Tolkien’s craft is the really impressive part of the book–his care in illustrating the world he’s created consumed me more than parts of the actual Fellowship plotline. For all my jokes about the obscene number of songs, chants, and poems in the book, most of them were interesting enough to encourage me to take a crack at The Silmarillion after I finish the main trilogy.

Despite being somewhat lacking in the character development department at the expense of his worldbuilding, at least reading Fellowship means that characters that are frankly almost indistinguishable in the films have much more distinct personalities. This is particularly true of the Hobbits–Merry and Pippin hold their own much better in the books so far, and Gimli feels much less like comedic relief.

As I mentioned before, I’m gonna be live-blogging The Two Towers over the course of February, but given that it’s going to be pretty slow going to blog each part of the book as I read it, I’m not anticipating finishing it this month, and it’s not going toward my two-book quota. As some of you may know, I have a habit of reading multiple books at once, and another habit of not finishing any of the books (or video games) I’m in the middle of before picking up something new that I will maybe finish instead. In the spirit of trying to cut down on books I am halfway through, I’d like to finish J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians this month (if I sounded like I thought Orhan Pamuk’s Snow was depressing, wait until I’m done with this!) and also treat myself to a book a recently picked up–The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection by Martin Page. I am not helping my chances of avoiding seasonal affective disorder at all this month! I’m anticipating having to switch back and forth between these two somewhat frequently due to do literary density, so if I’m lucky, I’ll add a lighter third book to offset the other two (sorry, live-blogging Two Towers does not make it light enough).

On a final note, it is a bad idea to get back into listening to Pandora when you have no money to procure all of the cool things you’re being introduced to on your stations.

The Two Towers Live-Blog Session 1

8:19pm: This session of The Two Towers live-blog experience has closed. Feel free to continue commenting, though any responses from me will be less prompt.

Covered in this post: Book 3, Chapters 1 and 2

Why on earth am I doing this?

5:11pm: The Two Towers live-blog session underway. All blogging/commentary will be made as comments in response to this post.

Well hello there

I thought about discussing my 2010–some variation on the standard “year in review” post, maybe include some obligatory 2011 goals, &c., &c. (bringing back the “&c.” is one of my 2011 goals). But that would be terribly boring for me to write and equally terribly boring for you to read, so if you really want to know, I guess you’ll just have to ask me.

I will say that after working non-stop on them for about the last two months, I’m finally finished with my first round of grad school applications. I imagine I should hear back from all five places by early March, and depending on the results, I’ll apply to a sixth place for fall 2011. Otherwise, it’s back to the drawing board for 2012 apps, which I already have some ideas about. I would still really like to do a post on my ideas about writing and what I’d like to be doing at graduate school, so I’ll try to make sure that materializes over the next week or so.

Moving on: another of my goals (god, this might as well be a year-in-review post), and the only other one I’ll talk about (whew) is my intention to read at least two books a month, which I’m well on my way to accomplishing for January. After many years of thinking I would like to read it, I finally got around to Dave Eggers’s memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which I found absolutely excellent. His writing style is definitely polarizing–you’ll either love his lengthy, manic asides and purposely hyperbolic language and representations of scenarios, or find it obnoxious. One of the reasons I enjoyed it is Eggers’s willingness to rip himself apart in front of your eyes–he talks boastfully of himself and then elbows you in the ribs and says, “Jesus Christ, am I a douchebag or what?” His writing is very self-aware without bragging about his own cleverness…it really sounds like Eggers trying to qualify the situation and being unable to stop himself from trying to explain as much as he can, and realizing oh shit I’m talking too much, shut up shut up and feeling genuinely embarrassed.

I’ve moved on to The Fellowship of the Ring, which I tried to read once in high school and found incredibly boring. This time’s going much better, although it’s still not making its way to the top of my fantasy epic list. From a world-building perspective, I give Tolkien a lot of credit–that has been the really impressive part thus far, more so than the story itself, although he doesn’t go into a significant amount of it in depth in this particular book. Fellowship also gives me an opportunity to use my amazing summarization skills. What follows is a real conversational excerpt from earlier this evening:

Chelsea: probs gonna read me some more Fellowship of the Ring tonight
Allison: barreling through it?
Chelsea: yeah, chugging along
Chelsea: It is much less boring than the first time I tried to read it
Allison: that’s good
Chelsea: Frodo just got his bitch-ass self stabbed in the shoulder
Allison: ahah. stupid ass.
Chelsea: they just crossed the first river and Aragorn’s like “effffff we are too far north, we gonna miss Rivendell”

After this, I should probably finish Waiting for the Barbarians, but I’m also interested in opening either The New Life (a perhaps less depressing employment of Orhan Pamuk’s ability to enchant through his writing) or Visions of Cody (a book of sketches, which are a huge point of interest for me, regarding much of the character material for On The Road, which I finished recently and which touched me deeply). Of course, in addition to all of these ahem ahem literary selections yes well, I also devoured the Scott Pilgrim series in its entirety.

Anyway, hello, 2011. More soon.

My blog–now with even more webcomics

In case you thought I haven’t been voraciously devouring more webcomics, here is yet another advertisement for things you should read.

I was browsing for something to chew through when I got home from Texas Sunday night, and decided to finally getting around to reading Dylan Meconis’s Bite Me! And yes, I did real the whole thing in one evening (hearkening back to my college days). The storyline and characters are amusing, as are the French Revolution references and notes. Most of all, it’s been a pleasure to see the evolution of Meconis’s art and storytelling from the beginning of Bite Me! to the present moment in her current endeavor, Family Man. The story is riveting, delightfully humorous at points, and expands so much on a few of the characters introduced in Bite Me!, and yet there’s more: Meconis also works deftly with the cultural issues of her chosen time setting to create a believable setting for her slightly fantastic topic. Wonderful, wonderful works that you should read as soon as you get the chance.

Also, a reference to someone I’ve mentioned before: Evan Dahm has begun his most recent narrative adventure, Vattu, which he’s opted to update (at least for the moment) in one-page increments three times a week, hoping to make it easier for new readers to get introduced to the work. Strike while the iron’s hot—that is, get in on Vattu before you’ve got a lot of make-up reading to do. Dahm’s only got 11 pages posted at the moment. You don’t have to read his other two completed works (Rice Boy and Order of Tales) to understand what’s going on, so if you like strange lands and the surreal, check this out now. Dahm doesn’t disappoint.

On a side note, I think webcomics are about to get their own post category.

Your daily dose of more stuff to read

More webcomics for you to read–I’ve been hearing a lot about reMIND from webcomic creators who also read webcomics. It’s on my radar, I just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

If you want to get in on the ground floor of a promising-looking comic that’s just starting out (and has a really spectacularly designed webpage), check out Sfeer Theory (though my jury is still out on the idea of “sfeer” being an acceptable word). The premise is promising and the art is beautiful.

But the big plug of this post is a comic I finally got a chance to read through today called The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal. It is a quick read even through a year of archives, but it is one you will want to re-read and re-re-read. E.K. Weaver’s art is gorgeous, with even the wispiest, vaguest of sketches capturing heavy emotions. She doesn’t lead the reader by the hand, but her art perfectly conveys the obvious facts you need to advance the storyline while leaving emotions and thoughts richly nebulous. The story could be told through black and white sketches alone, but her audience gets the added treat of phenomenal text. Her dialogue sparkles with charm and is some of the most convincing I have ever read. You are really missing something beautiful if you don’t check this out.

What I think when I read things like this: I stick by the idea that to be a writer, you have to be first and foremost a reader. To me that means “reading” any and every type of story you can find, and working to seek out those beyond the traditional.

What the deal is

I’ve had to go to bed early (10:30p, no joke) for work recently, so I haven’t had much time to sit down and write about what’s going on.

Went to St. Louis last weekend for Suraj’s parents’ annual puja at their house. As is my habit, I went to the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market Saturday morning while Suraj was helping his parents to get ready. My boss at the flower shop asked if we (me and the designer) if we would take home some merchandise to get kids to test it out so we could take pictures of them. I’m not sure she realized how awkward that had the potential to be (“Hi, can I take pictures of your children? I work at a flower shop”), but dedicated employee that I am, I brought the merchandise to the market to provide parents with far too much information about the shop and ask if maybe please if you’re okay with it can I please take some photos that we may potentially use for advertising of your kid riding this bike around please? Surprisingly, I was moderately successful (moderately I think only because I had a limited amount of time before I had to head back to meet up with Suraj and go pick up the food for the puja). I also picked up some bulgur wheat at the market and a mocha macaroon <3.

The puja went well, and Suraj’s mom gave me more awesome clothes she was getting rid off. We capped (or topkilled, if you prefer) the night with some O’Fallon Gold and hit the hay since we were both pretty tired.

But Sunday! Sunday, we decided to get brunch buffet at St. Louis’s Shangri-La Diner, which hands-down the best homestyle diner food I’ve ever eaten. Of course, the best part is that it’s all vegetarian/vegan. Suraj took me to dinner there several weeks ago, which entailed veg meatloaf (seitan) and vegan gyros, homemade strawberry limeade (much better than the shit you get at Sonic), and chilled strawberry soup. The buffet this week consisted of veg hash browns, scrambled eggs with cheddar and veg facon, tofu and seitan scramble, fresh fruit, and homemade berry compote with fresh brioche bread french toast.

Working at the flower shop has been extremely busy this week between a large order for an event out at the Crowne Plaza on Wednesday morning and the USTA meet at the convention center all week. In the down time between people buying things from our booth, I’m either reading or making origami, and have found kids utterly fascinated by the latter.

In going to the gym after work yesterday evening, I also found out that I can easily read on an exercise bike. It was nice to spend an uninterrupted hour reading, so Dune has officially been completed. An interesting and enjoyable sci-fi classic, although I had several issues with Herbert’s prose and a couple of judgment calls/assertions throughout. Also a terrible fucking way to end a book. I’m still reading Snow and picked up The Omnivore’s Dilemma again seriously. It helps me to be reading about three books at one time–one literary, one intensely captivating, and one nonfiction. That way, when the literary one gets too intense/depressing (and let’s be real, all literary fiction is depressing), I can switch to the captivating “trashy” one (arguably, Dune is not very trashy unless you talk to a literary scholar), and when I need a break from both to satisfy my need to learn something new by reading the nonfiction. I might post a poll or something on here so someone else can decide what I should read next–I have too many books and often get overwhelmed by what to start.

Two more days of work this week. I’d like to tweak the energy bar recipe I use to include some dried cranberries, but we’ll see if I even have the energy to start.

Add it to your reading list

Just wanted to discuss some recreational reading I’ve been doing over the last few days.

First, a blog that was recently featured on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed page. It’s called Tranifesto, and it features discussion and opinion related to trans issues. The post WordPress featured was this one–a great introduction to a great blog. It’s very well-written and offers interesting and challenging perspectives on things perhaps even the queerest of us haven’t given much thought to. It’s also fantastically accessible–for people who are new to the variety of topics Matt Kailey talks about, he provides a ton of resources and introductory information. If you wanted to read something to kick your brain into high gear today, this is it.

Next, a new novel I’d like to pick up, although I’m more likely to grab it after it comes out in trade cover (not that I mind hard cover, but I don’t have the $25 to shell out for it right now): The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Bender tends to write off-kilter fiction that I would consider magical realist or surrealist. To date I believe she’s only published one other book, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, which is a collection of short stories that I read for my final creative writing workshop and adored (and which, once upon a time, a friend of a friend designed a cover jacket for, long before I ever knew I would read it). A single short story collection endeared Bender to me as a writer that I would love to emulate–I think that’s grounds for checking her out.

Last, a webcomic I stumbled upon (and read all of) last night: Hanna Is Not A Boy’s Name! Described by its author as “sugarcoated horror“, this ongoing page-style narrative is what I might refer to as “humor horror,” perhaps vaguely akin to the idea of a “romzomcom” (romantic zombie comedy) as it’s presented in the film Shaun of the Dead. The incorporation of the narrator’s thoughts-as-text into the action and movement of the eye-catching and phenomenal panels Tessa Stone draws is only one spectacular aspect of an amazingly illustrated and enjoyably written work. As with some of the other works I’ve mentioned before, this comic updates spontaneously but regularly, so be prepared for a little bit of waiting between installments. Keeps you hungry for more, though.

Happy reading.

I read a lot of webcomics

I often say that I didn’t have time to read during college. What I mean is, I didn’t have time to read any books for fun. All my proposed personal reading projects would be stranded between vacations, and since I was often preparing for exams or essays over week-long breaks, the only times I read novels were winter and summer, when I had fully extricated myself from the reading demands of the semester.

But this is a little misleading. It’s not to say that I didn’t have time to read at all…

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