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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Balloonist of experience's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, July 2nd, 2016
10:43 pm
Unexpected _A Memory of Light_ Spoiler Post
Bet you weren't expecting that!

Well, neither was I. . . .

Yes, 3.5 years late, I have finally read A Memory of Light. There seems to be a certain set of circumstances which makes me finally pick up the final books of fantasy series that I really want to read and put off - it involves stressful returns to work, uncertainty about the future and difficulty sleeping - the circumstances in which I read AMoL are not entirely different from the circumstances in which I read the book I most anticipated reading in all the world after at least 13.5, maybe 14 years of putting it off. AMoL is nothing in comparison. Actually, oddly enough, I guess that the fantasy finale I've actually been putting off reading for the longest is The Seventh Gate, of all things, which I purchased when it originally came out, still actively want to read and have never read for. . . ummm. . . 22 years. If I don't read it soon I will seriously get to the point where I have been waiting to read it for 2/3rds of my life. Rather odd since it's not like The Death Gate Cycle was ever one of my favorite series or anything.

I am more amused, however, by the way that the immediate cause of my reading AMoL was that I was asleep for 22 hours for jet lag and dreamed about it? I was in that kind of hibernation-esque jet-laggy state and was considering just staying in bed until I had to go to work the next day, but what eventually persuaded me I had to wake up was thinking about this dream, how completely unlikely it was as a finale for WoT and then my intense curiosity about how it differed from the real version (very intensely). The thing is that I have been having WoT dreams for 2/3rds of my life - TDR came out in paperback when I was 11, and I remember that right before my uncle bought it I dreamt about what might happen in it - and so it pleases me immensely that this was the factor that pushed me over the edge into reading AMoL at last.

Anyway. . . I don't know. I'm glad I finally read it but it was not nearly as good as TGS - although I suppose it felt slightly less predictable, or at least slightly less boring in its predictability, than ToM. It was still pretty predictable, though, and very heavily focused on battle - with, rather infamously, a single chapter that is nearly 80,000 words to describe the Last Battle. I'll give some spoilers for anyone who is still curious but frankly since it's mostly just fighting I'm not sure how interesting they are.

My Knife of Dreams spoilers are in the comments to this post; my The Gathering Storm spoilers about how completely awesome that book is are in the post and comments here; and my Towers of Midnight spoiler post is here There is no post or comments with Crossroads of Twilight spoilers because nothing happens in CoT, so you don't have to worry about that.

If you have no interest in AMoL spoilers, there is no reason to click this lj-cut.Collapse )

Current Mood: frustrated
Monday, January 11th, 2016
7:44 pm
Worst Procrastination Attempt Ever
Finished one set of something important I needed to do, decided to take a short internet break before doing the next (and final) set, discovered David Bowie was dead.

How is that okay?  Will take time to process.

Current music came up randomly on my iTunes playlist while reading the news ("I heard the news today, oh boy." - you can tell it is not "A Day in the Life" because it's heard, not read, but I was reading the news), but decided to keep it on repeat given that it's appropriate.  I have a set of quotations prepared for certain eventualities that may or may not ever come to pass (eg, what should I post on LJ if I ever achieve transcendence but am still able to post on LJ?).  This song is the one that I'll quote from should I ever give up my American citizenship.  "Soul Love" is the one with the quotation I want as my epitaph.  Not sure what Bowie's epitaph will be.

Current Mood: numb
Friday, January 1st, 2016
12:12 pm
2015 - The Year in Art
Book of the Year - Pandemia series (both) - Dave Duncan
Film of the Year - Under The Skin - Jonathan Glazer
Music of the Year - "Police Encounters" live on Later... With Jools Holland - FFS
TV Show of the Year - How to Get Away with Murder - Peter Nowalk

Current Mood: embarrassed
Wednesday, December 30th, 2015
2:49 pm
Hey, Cool!
My research on Howl's past was cited in a Yuletide fic.  This is probably the most I'll ever have to do with Yuletide, but I still feel pleased I've made some tiny little contributions to fandom ;-)

Current Mood: jet lag is annoying
Sunday, July 5th, 2015
6:02 am
I'm not sure I can go to sleep because if I did I would have to stop listening to "Police Encounters."

Current Mood: amused
Monday, April 13th, 2015
2:07 pm
I Am So Confused Right Now
Gordon Korman, as in the Macdonald Hall series, as in Son of Interflux, as in Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag, that Gordon Korman, seems to have called my parents' house. From what I understand, no one picked up the phone. greebsnarf sent me visual proof of this, but I guess I won't post it because I probably shouldn't be spreading his phone number around?

I am so confused.

So, so confused.

Current Mood: confused
Thursday, January 1st, 2015
9:26 pm
9:19 pm
2014 - The Year in Art
And so I enter my second decade of tracking this (!)

Book of the Year - "Solitude" - Ursula K. LeGuin
Long Form Dramatic Presentation of the Year (the category also known as plays! I can't help it! Plays!) - The Pillowman - Martin McDonagh
Music of the Year - Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Vol. 2 - Yoko Kanno et al.
TV Show of the Year - Orange is the New Black - Jenji Kohan

Current Mood: tired
2:42 am
Quotation of the Day
". . .there is only one world, and this is false, cruel, contradictory, seductive, without meaning-a world thus constituted is the real world. We have need of lies in order to conquer this reality, this 'truth,' that is, in order to live. That lies are necessary in order to live is itself part of the terrifying and questionable character of existence."

---Nietzsche, from the (so-called) so-called Will to Power, translated by Walter Kaufmann

Current Mood: tired
Saturday, December 20th, 2014
6:37 pm
Pulp Documentary
Just forced my parents to watch the Pulp documentary with me. At one point, a bunch of people are wearing t-shirts with quotations from Pulp songs on them, one of which is, "Why live in the world when you can live in your head?" from "Monday Morning," (which, because I'm predictable, is a line that has been coming up in my head quite a lot for over half of my lifetime) and, like, as soon as that comes on, my mother is like, "Oh, that fits you perfectly." I know I'm predictable, but it is a bit embarrassing to be so easy to peg.

Current Mood: anxious
Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
2:53 am
Regrettably Belated Obligatory Even Year Bullshit Post
I haven't posted about the fact that the Giants won the World Series again yet because I've been spending most of the past couple of months being absurdly lazy/inactive (have done some great reading, though!) after a really stressful couple of months, but I have to say that the Giants playoff season was one of the only highlights of my stressful couple of months. Trying desperately to finish up my final grading when I had to go to a class to return it while listening to MadBum pitching Game 7 on the radio was one of the more intense experiences of my life (especially the part where after the official time for the class had started and I was still madly grading, I took an awkward and inconvenient phone call, and got off only to discover that during that exact period of time Alex Gordan had gotten his triple).

As we know, I've always been somewhat bemused by my casual baseball fandom given my general lack of sports fandom. This has only been getting weirder over the past half-decade. I was raised, as a Giants fan, to think of my team as underdogs (I mean, not Cubs or Red Sox-level underdogs, but underdogs nevertheless) and to hate the Yankees at least in part because they were successful and therefore not good to root for. It seems bizarre and strange to me that I could possibly still feel happy about the Giants winning when, you know, they've already won twice before and are going up against a team that were true underdogs. But there it was. Sports fandom really is a weird thing, and I'm fascinated by the psychology of it, at least as it pertains to me.

Current Mood: neutral
Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
12:58 pm
I Am Not Jesus, But My Last Initial Is The Same As His First Initial
This is a textual proof that Tom Lynn, at the end of Fire and Hemlock, is 33:

1) Tom is ten years older than Seb: "Tom's ten years older than I am." (Part 4, Chapter 6, pg. 376)

2) Seb was fifteen when he and Polly met on the train: "Quite apart from the fact that Seb was guarding her, she had not the least idea what you talked about to boys of fifteen." (Part 2, Chapter 3, pg. 174)

3) Polly was eleven when she met Seb on the train, making her four years younger than Seb: "Granny did give Polly a birthday present after all. Polly was staying with Granny the week she was eleven, because Dad was coming back to settle up who was to have what." (Part 2, Chapter 1, pg. 133); "Halfway through the summer term, a little before Polly's twelfth birthday, a packet came for her through the post." (Part 2, Chapter 4, pg. 183)

4) Just to emphasize that, even though they met on the train in the spring and the book ends in October, the age gap should be the same in October, at the start of the book in the October nine years previously Polly was ten: "That was when she was how old? Ten?" (Part 1, Chapter 1, pg. 14); and she thought Seb was fourteen: "He was in a grey suit and looked as respectable as the rest, and he was rather old too - at least fourteen, Polly thought." (Part 1, Chapter 2, pg. 22). This isn't sufficient evidence on its own because Polly wasn't sure at the time, but combined with the fact that she was sure he was four years older than she on the train a year and a half later (possibly with the help of her added retrospective knowledge based on, you know, being engaged to him) AND the fact that it all works out to make Tom 33 at the end of the book, it helps.

5) Polly is nineteen at the end of the book: "And the habit died hard, even at the age of nineteen." (Part 1, Chapter 1, pg. 13)

6) Hence, Seb is four years older than she and thus 23; Tom is ten years older than that and thus 33.

I will always think that this is the most amazingly awesome Easter Egg ever. You have to be obsessive about finding out people's ages in books even to realize!

Current Mood: unhappy. . .
Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
6:42 pm
My Advice on How to Read _Hitherby_
I have this writeup on how one might go about reading Hitherby that I have sent to a couple of people. I sent it to jedediah, who responded by asking me if I have it posted up anywhere public so that he can send people to it. That had never occurred to me, but I am very in favor of promoting Hitherby, so I will now put up my writeup here:

Review of the Narrative Structure of HitherbyCollapse )
The Organizational Structure of HitherbyCollapse )
Some Advice about Reading Hitherby CanonCollapse )
Let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any further questions!

Current Mood: cheerful
Saturday, July 12th, 2014
6:43 pm
I am often jealous of steepholm for her seemingly constant flood of family background information stretching back centuries that she is able to post to LJ - it is simply the case that nothing comparable exists in my family, alas. But my uncle, who has been a doctor for my entire lifetime but who did spend some time in a graduate program in English, just shared a sonnet he had written about Keats with me, and I was amused enough to want to post it here.

Here is the background he gave me for this sonnet: "I wrote that, probably near the end of 1970, for my page in the NYU School of Medicine yearbook when I was graduating but going on to CUNY Grad Center in the doctoral English program rather that doing an internship. I thought it might be fun to write something in which I was chiding myself for the decision as a mimicry of what the clueless faculty of the medical school were saying to me and surely behind my back at the time. . . . Aside from appearing on my yearbook page, the poem was eventually published almost 20 years ago in a medical journal, The Journal of General Medicine, for which at earlier period I had served as literary editor, for what that's worth."

And here is the sonnet:

John Keats, fair physician you might have made
Had you but pushed aside the idle pen
And cut a path where true art is displayed,
Instead of tumbling to a lesser ken.
With lost complacence you coaxed to happen
Mad reversal of your bedside promise;
With puny struggle you fell to Chapman,
As you abandoned Guy's and St. Thomas'.
You, who might have seen syndromes named for you,
Or might for fellow men have found some cure,
You chose to rhyme and play with words. Who knew
That your creations would be thought so pure?
So you, when medicinal drive wore off,
Succumbed to poetry's consumptive cough.

I had not realized that my uncle, in addition to studying literature academically, wrote sonnets - I find it somewhat amusing that I evidently have relatives on both sides who wrote sonnets as adults. Are there really that many adults out there writing sonnets, or is this a genuinely amusing coincidence?

Current Mood: calm
Friday, July 11th, 2014
10:28 pm
I Don't Really Understand Myself
So today's update of Homestuck's official side project Paradox State makes explicit reference to Lacan. . . .

For some reason, I care.

Current Mood: amused
Sunday, July 6th, 2014
6:25 pm
From _The Past is a Grotesque Animal_ (of Montreal's documentary)
"I think that I almost always would choose art over human relationships." Kevin Barnes

I guess this is relevant to my interests.

Current Mood: nervous
Friday, May 16th, 2014
12:31 am
Did anyone reading this have any idea that the Beatles once acted the most hilarious scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream? Because I certainly didn't.

Current Mood: cheerful
Thursday, February 6th, 2014
7:21 pm
Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
9:04 pm
Saturday, January 4th, 2014
9:08 pm
Jack o'Lantern Girl
I read Jack o'Lantern Girl on the plane back to Singapore, actually. I had realized that I accidentally left my copy of The Chrysalids in the US, so I couldn't quite finish the work I wanted to finish on the plane, and so I ended up reading Jack o'Lantern Girl to cheer myself up and because two years ago I read An Unclean Legacy on the plane back to Singapore.

I have the following comments on it. They are spoilery, but I guess I'm not going to bother putting them behind a cut because no one is ever going to read it anyway.

1) ". . .and with the shadow they there dwell. . . ." and ". . .the deepest, bluest skin. . ." make it fairly clear that, at least for some time, Jenna's "mother" was Karen. Wow.

2) I had been wondering forever about how exactly Jenna died and then reanimated herself, and I think that Jack o'Lantern Girl makes this almost entirely clear. Since this is something that I have literally been using as something to think about when I proctor tests and am extremely bored because I just couldn't figure it out, I'm actually really glad that I finally know. But. . . the one thing I still just don't understand is, given that it is now explictly stated that Jenna was able to reanimate herself because she became a god, was she an isn't? I guess it would make sense on a lot of levels for her to have been an isn't, especially because there's no way that Jane is an isn't since that's what Martin does for people. And the end of the story is framed as Erin's question, "What could anyone possibly tell a body, that would make it not just wake up again but make a new fire for its own?," to which we learn Martin's answer, "He said I could." Which is basically exactly how Martin makes people real, so I suppose Jenna must have been an isn't. Which, okay, but really? The monster was using isn'ts as his crucibles? Would that even work? Is Liril an isn't? Or was she at some point? Also, why on earth is it that Jenna was able to survive transcendence - even if she became an isn't - in 1974, but Sebastien and the monster are doomed if they transcend even in 2004? I mean, okay, the monster is doomed if he transcends for other reasons, as well, but the text makes it pretty clear that he is also going to explode, and Sebastien's only problem is exploding, so I think there is something about the rules that I am still really not getting here.

3) "Martin is born on March 22, 1995, at 6:38 pm, on a night of screams and fire, on a world above the world." He goes down into the Underworld and answers the question that prevents him from becoming real. He frees Tantalus. We haven't learnt before how Martin left the Underworld, and we still don't know. But we now know how he comes back to the firewood world (and a very full exploration of "Then comes the axe: first for the wogly, and then for Bob."). Which is to say: "Martin educes himself from nothing. He has no precedents. There are no causal chains that lead to him as he rips his way into the world. He pulls himself out from the wogly and he gives it a little twisty grin." But isn't this phrased very oddly? It goes in line with the part "“You still think,” Martin says, “that I’m one of Jane’s gods,"", which remains a part of Jack o'Lantern Girl. So, Martin is not one of Jane's gods, and he has no precedents and no causal chains that lead to him. But I don't get this. Martin is not a typical god in the sense that he is real; he's not just an isn't. But how can he be not one of Jane's gods and have no precedents? There is a causal chain that leads to him, at least in the canon that's on the web - the monster sent a letter to Jenna on March 22, 1995, which implies that Martin came into being in response to that letter, in some fashion, and when he meets Jane's gods, he could be Lisa's twin, and when he talks to them it seems clear that he feels personal responsibility for Jenna, and he's Jane's brother, for Christ's sake. He created himself from nothing - he was an isn't and it is entirely due to his own power that he became real, sure, that's definitely true and inarguable. But he used to be Jenna's story, certainly? Jenna didn't make him real, but Jenna made him, and then he made himself. Why would making himself real stop him from being one of Jane's gods? Back in the days before the Buddha's answer, when Ella made Tanit or whoever else, Tanit wasn't an isn't, because there weren't isn'ts then, but Tanit was still one of Ella's gods. I suppose maybe this becomes a lot clearer in the second Hitherby book? It's something I really do want to understand, more than I care about where exactly Martin fits into the Hitherby taxonomy of gods.

4) Doing the research for that ended up with far more Hitherby than there should have been, unsurprisingly, but it reminds me of a completely unrelated question - what happened to Ella? We all know why Mylitta was a hero who didn't kill Nabonidus, but why didn't Ella kill Sennacherib? And Mylitta evidently had a brother - what happened to him? These are obviously not new questions. But damn, I still wish I knew the answers.

Current Mood: nervous
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