War and Peace, I surrender!

I mentioned before that I was reading War and Peace. Since I haven’t been able to form a coherent and complete thought for my blog this month, I will just blather about that book here.

In the beginning I got lost with all the characters being introduced. The first time I tried reading, I quite about 50 pages in. This time, I sat down with what I thought was an excess of index cards for use to keep track of all the characters, any descriptions, major plot points. I ended up using all but a couple cards by the end of the book.

Related to the mass number of characters, I don’t even know what the point was for their being in the story. The book jumped around to different plots, different characters, different settings. For the most part it made sense, here’s a section about war, here’s a section concerning the civilians. But other than that, I really don’t know why I needed to know so much about, for example, the guy who was Natalia’s cousin/crush-at-first and Nikolai’s best friend-at-first. Or Natalia and Nikolai’s older sister.

I didn’t care for the war parts either. They just seemed to drag on, and that so much more could have been accomplished with much fewer words. But maybe the war parts were meant to be a big part of the story. Like how some characters chickened out in battle (and then what? nothing happens because of it? the character doesn’t learn much from it?), some lost body parts, some were heroic. Woop de do.

I did read an abridged version, though. (Over 650 pages is abridged? hah!) Maybe some important stuff was cut out? Or was it even more pointless goings-on of characters that weren’t really important?

I don’t know. It might have helped my understanding if I’d had someone tell me what I was supposed to get out of it. That probably helps for a lot of important classic literature.

At the end of the book, I just thought, so that’s it? What was the book about? What was I supposed to have gained from it? Was it the characters that Leo Tolstoy wanted to focus on? I couldn’t stand the characters! I thought they were stupid, blathering idiots, and I didn’t care one whit for any of them at the end of the book. Pierre might have been the most likeable character for me. I don’t know.

This entry is exactly like War and Peace. I cut out expanding on some points (partly for time, mostly because I don’t care), the reader doesn’t really care about anything in this, and what exactly have you learned from reading it? Not much, except that maybe War (and Peace, to a lesser extent) didn’t tickle my fancy.

old music versus modern music

All my life—or at least since I was a teen—my mom has oft repeated, “Music these days has no tune.” I agreed with her up until recently, when I had to change my views on music, or toss out most of my music collection!

My mom grew up during the 60s and 70s, seemingly the golden age of musical creativity. Motown, The Beatles, you name it, practically every musical act was or had a hit. I don’t remember who were her favorites as a kid, but now she’s a fan of Janis Ian (first and foremost!) and other women folk artists. She also enjoys doo-wop and jazz, and my brother has turned her on to Celtic Woman.

My journey through music is chronicled on [my personal site (link to /music.php)], and although it hasn’t been updated for over a year, and I’ll likely add to it after this entry is done, there isn’t much that’s new. Right now the top five musical artists on my Last.fm profile are The Cardigans, Maria Mena, The Divine Comedy, Lisa Loeb, and the Submarines. Lately I’ve also been listening to Muse (thanks to a certain artist) and to movie soundtracks (yay, Neil Gaiman!).

Mum once told me that she rarely ever likes every single song on an album. No matter how much she likes the artist, there is always at least one song that she won’t listen to. (So when she says that she thinks Vanessa Carlton’s Be Not Nobody album is the best she’s ever heard, and there is not one bad song on it, this is very high praise, coming from her.) Basically, she is picky with her music.

When I told her that I usually like all the music I buy, she thought I was lucky. I thought, although I didn’t tell her, that maybe it just meant my standards weren’t as high. Normally it takes me a couple listens to actually hear the music, and not just a wall of mindless sound. I didn’t know whether I was readjusting my brain to accept the music, lowering my standards, or what. (When I hear a tune I like, I immediately know I like it, no adjustment period or subsequent listens required.)

By this point I began to think that either my taste in music really sucked compared to my mom’s and that I had a tin ear, or that my tastes differed from hers.

Continue reading “old music versus modern music”

Borders’ summer reading challenge (for kids)

Borders sent me an e-mail last week, “daring” kids to read ten books this summer in order to get a free book. It reminded me of my elementary school and a similar program. Every student was given a sheet of paper to list all the books they read along with the number of pages. There may have been other information, but as a young child that didn’t matter to me.

I think it was once a month; get the list at the beginning of the month, turn it in at the end. The reward was that the kids who’d read the most got prizes. The kid in first place got two books, second place got one book, and third place got something that is not sticking in my memory because it obviously wasn’t a good prize. I think other kids also got a cheap bookmark for participating, can’t really remember.

I easily, easily got in the top three every time this event occurred. If I really put my mind to it, I would get first place. Most of the time I went my own pace though.

I felt guilty about getting rewarded for something I’d be doing whether this event happened or not. Sometimes I even wondered why I should enter at all, or why I should be truthful and list every single book I read. I mean, wasn’t this event more about encouraging kids to read? I didn’t need encouragement! In fact, my mom confiscated my bedside lamp once because I stayed up too late reading.

I did turn in the lists though, every time. Sometimes I would skip listing the “baby” books (as I deemed them), but I always turned in my lists. My teachers would have thought it was odd if I didn’t. >_> It seemed to make my teachers and the librarian happy, too, to see a kid reading so voraciously.

And yes, I did regularly get free books that I read and usually wrote down on the next month’s reading list. I remember a few of them, but that’s for another entry, if I ever get around to writing it up.

Back to the Borders challenge. It’s for kids who are 12 years old or younger. The reading list needs to be signed by a parent or guardian and turned in to a Borders store by August 26. (What, no page count requirement? *grin*)

I think it’s great that Borders is doing this, it eases up a bit on my being sore at them. (Messed up coupons, botched up return, closing my local Borders Express, all that fun stuff.) Still won’t go into their store any time soon. (Money woes, no funds for books. *cries*)

new conditioning

Recently I’ve started seriously conditioning my hair. Before, I would just use conditioner whenever I felt like being fancy—which, being a busy college student for quite a few years, wasn’t often.

But now, since I have the time, I decided to use the rose-scented Herbal Essence conditioner that I’ve had since high school. Despite its age, it works well!

This change of heart was brought about by a Garnier Fructis coupon, over a year ago. I needed more shampoo, and Target had this shampoo for cheap! I bought it, liked the softening effect it had on my hair, but still preferred how clean my hair was after using Herbal Essence’s clarifying shampoo. (Don’t worry, my hair is coarse, it could take shampoo stripping it of everything it’s got.)

So I stuck with Herbal Essence, but after I graduated I came back home and still had the Garnier Fructis shampoo left over. I’d switch back and forth between the two, slowly using up the Garnier Fructis shampoo. Being in the mode of use up products sitting around, I decided to use my old Herbal Essence conditioner in that ancient soft pink, opaque bottle. Voila! Amazingly soft and silky hair, just like in all the hair commercials! (Um, commercials selling hair-related products, not selling hair.)

But then another dilemma popped up. My hair was now ever so smooth and shiny, but I had, over the years, grown used to it being poufy and slightly frizzy! I had to adjust to liking my hair even in its new calm and flat form, which I eventually did, accepting that looking like others’ standard of beauty was not a bad thing.

Now I just need to grow my hair longer and buy rollers, and I will be a complete girly girl!

not dusting off just yet

Wow, I haven’t given much thought to my blog this month. As evidenced by the fact that I am writing an entry in the last hour of the entire calendar month! (I set myself a rule to update at least once a month, but that’s another story.)

I’ve had ideas of stuff to write about, but I never managed to write a whole entry. I feel like that’s reflective of my life currently, that I have ideas and maybe I start things, but I never really do anything. I won’t go into that here, either.

Just wanted to say … I miss my blog, and I don’t want it to die yet. (Although based on search engine statistics and the amount of spam I’m getting [which is close to none], other people seem to think my blog is dead.)

Hmm, something interesting to say, I feel this entry is lacking. (In a lot of things…) I’m trying to read War and Peace again! Last time I tried was 2005 maybe? At least I got to the war part of the book this time.