Monday, December 31, 2012


So... it's nearing the end of another year and I'm sentimentally listening to
Drink with Me before I scurry off to enjoy the hours of 2012.
Truthfully, it's been quite an eventful year for the world - there was the
Presidential Election, the London Olympics, the release of The Hobbit (but
seriously, it's been a great year for movies), etc.

Personally, I've had a wonderful year reading and soaking up life. I listened
to wonderful music (especially acoustic folk and classical in these final months).
My LOTR knowledge increased tremendously this year (directly proportional
to my obsession). I got to appreciate maestro McCarthy and my violin playing
improved heaps...

I feel like my summation of the year eventually really boils down to the final
couple months (short-term memory). I made one of the best decisions of my
life and went to the Tibetan Plateau (inspired by LOTR & McCarthy landscapes),
where I saw snow for the first time (I'll be seeing it in January, SO EXCITED),
and other beautiful elements of nature.

I kept rigorous 'track' of 2012 - I made sure I did the right things whenever
possible - and hopefully this will also be the case for 2013. Hopefully by then,
financial and environmental situations will improve.

2012's been quite wonderful, but 2013 - here I come! It shall be even better!

Fate of whole galaxies against their imminent ruin

I finished The Orchard Keeper! I should have posted more quotes, but, um, I lost the sheet of paper that had all the important page numbers on it (which is totally the first time this has happened), so there's only one below. Anyway, this could be good, I don't want to be giving too much away anyway. There isn't much to give away, though. It may even help to know 50% of the plot before delving in (READ THAT BLURB), it will make your understanding miles easier. Plot isn't the big thing in this novel, but language and style is strongly established. Heaps of arcane words, fluid prose stuffed with complex vernacular, italics - McCarthy trademarks!
So, enjoy it for that!
The old man, clutching his cane, holding the dirty little sack between his knees, looked back at the dog still standing there like some atavistic symbol or brute herald of all questions ever pressed upon humanity and beyond understanding, until the dog raised his head to clear the folds above his milky eyes and set out behind them at a staggering trot.

Books, glorious books

With each passing set of 24 hours, 2012 is teetering to a halt, and the doors to 2013
are gradually creaking open. I created a goodreads account this year, and
participated in the 2012 reading challenge - I've read 40 books this year and have
decided to evaluate my favourites, as a commemoration to the power of literature.
So, here are the top 6 new books I've read this year...

1) The Crossing
Hello McCarthy! Truthfully, the entire Border Trilogy was wonderful, but The Crossing was my favourite because it was the longest (haha) and therefore contained the largest number of beautiful and inspirational passages. Click here to read the quotes I loved from it.

2) On the Road
I debated about this one, but it seems unfair to leave out Kerouac's masterpiece when it was the one book that I zipped through almost non-stop and thoroughly enjoyed this year. All the characters are mad, but madly in love with life, and the pulse of this book was so rigorously steady in its own crazy way that I finished it with fond memories. Plus, the movie seems fantastic. Click this to see my review of the book. 

3) Emma
My favourite Austen novel to date! At times, Emma reminded me of myself, and at other times, someone I'd love to sit down and seriously discuss life priorities and estimation issues with. I remember why I read Emma - I was sick of the depressing endings of books I was reading beforehand and made sure that Emma ended WELL, and also frankly missed Austen's eloquent (and romantic) writing style and female-themed novels. Boom, reviews here.

4) To Kill a Mockingbird
I remember reading the first few pages of this book 2 years back and finding it whoppingly difficult, but studied it this year for English class and seriously ended up LOVING it. The tone is so friendly, the parallels drawn genius, and theme deadly serious that this is a book that will impact any human that touches it. Here's my review.

5) Villette
My favourite Brontë novel, and more proof that Charlotte is the best Brontë (I have to stop saying this). The intricacy of her writing is sublime, and although the book was about a depressed (BUT INDEPENDENCE-STRIVING) woman, I enjoyed it immensely. The plot of the book was ingeniously planned, as well as the character development. The language was just stunning (allow me to reiterate). The book was a present from one of my best friends, and I love her for it (as well as other things)! Review here.

6) The Road
Last but definitely not least, THE ROAD was the book that opened the doors to the McCarthy-craze I've been going through for months now. I wept at the end of The Road (a book that makes you cry is a good book). The language, as I've rambled about enough, was so lovely. McCarthy's fluid style, the pulse of the words, the sound and rhythm of each syllable... Reading this book was hands-down one of the best decisions I made all year. Reviews here.

2012 was a fantastic and rewarding reading book for me. Hopefully 2013 will be even better!!

Les Misérables

I finally decided that spending 2 hours (fruitlessly) working on my CT project is not how I want to be spending the second last day of 2012. I'm about to scurry off to read Great Expectations (which is ingeniously funny), but first... the LES MIS review!

So, on Christmas Day I watched Les Misérables, expecting to turn into a misérable (am I aware that this is the most overused pun regarding this musical? Yes, please forgive...) wreck in the cinema, and in retrospect, I was not actually a puddle of sobs, yet there were several specific scenes that rendered me a human hosepipe. Essentially, this post is going to be a review, but also an allow-me-to-elaborate-on-the-scenes-where-I-wept opportunity.

Firstly, the team (+Colm Wilkinson!!) as assembled for this movie is incredible (go look up the 'Best Ensemble' awards the film has already garnered) Tom Hooper, still fresh from the accolades of The King's Speech, managed to pull this off majestically - and by 'this' I mean directing a movie-musical where the singing is done live. The live singing is - for me - the most appealing factor of the film. It brings the realness of the story to a more intimate and emotional level that mere lip-syncing would have never achieved. Critics everywhere seem to be whining about Hooper's direction (shooting too close to the mouths of the actors), but seriously, leave the man alone, he is a legend.

Back to the cast - the men of this movie were fantastic - especially the revolutionaries. I was super impressed (and enchanted) by Eddie Redmayne, who was such a spot-on Marius, and delivered a heart-wrenching rendition of the already-poignant Empty Chairs and Empty Tables. Vocally, he is still inferior to Michael Ball, but performance-wise, I think Redmayne triumphed (same with Lea Salonga and Samantha Barks and essentially everyone in the movie).

The thing is, the music is already so legendary, no matter how awful any movie rendition is, the power of the music will still be present (the delivery still has to be acceptable to some extent, though).

Having said this, Russel Crowe was not exactly the dream-Javert (although certainly looks it), and his usually outstanding acting was a tad diminished by his singing in the film. Nevertheless, he mastered this one-line delivery - "one more step and you die" - that blew me away totally. His gravelly tones swallowed the moment, and made it whole. Moreover, when Javert pinned his badge on Gavroche (Gavroche was brilliant in all ways) - THAT was when I turned into the human hosepipe. Right before that scene was Enjolras and Grantaire's death, which was shot SO movingly, and after it, Empty Chairs and Empty Tables (that 'sacrifice' bit... cry cry cry) ... so those 20ish minutes of the film were stunning and tear-inducing.

The cinematography was  beautiful, whereas it's the city-view of France at dawn we are treated to at the end, or the kids running after Gavroche (so nostalgic), or the red/white/blue colours of the French flags mounted above the barricades...

Back to the cast: Bellatrix and Borat - I mean, Le Thénardiers were SUCH a breath of fresh air and unbelievably brilliant and humorous. Seyfried was an OK Cosette (to be fair, Cosette isn't that interesting, but it would be nice to see an actress really shape her character). Her best scenes were complimented by the wonderful Marius (although their rushed love-at-first-sight is a tad hard to believe). However, hats off to Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway for doing a marvelous job in this movie. Hathaway's rendition of I Dreamed a Dream is at the moment probably the most-discussed, but I think Valjean deserves ENORMOUS praise... Jackman fought for the role, and he owned it (he works so hard, he really deserves this).

Weeping at a film says a lot about one's emotional resilience, but also one's ability to feel, as a human being, and ... this film should make you cry.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A barren spot, bright in the moonwash, mercurial and luminescent as a sea

I dropped The Orchard Keeper for about 3/4 days and picking up where I left off, I feel like I should be re-reading it completely... it took me about 78 pages in to finally grasp the fact that McCarthy's change of perspectives was inclusive of the animal kingdom... which of course complicates matters further... Oh, it's so confusing. The latter McCarthy books are definitely easier to understand. Just found out that the James Tait Black Prize went to Angela Carter instead of McCarthy... argh well.
Anyhow, here are the quotes I collected from my last read -
From a lightwire overhead, dangling head downward and hollowed to the weight of ashened feathers and fluted bones, a small owl hung in an attitude of forlorn exhortation, its wizened talons locked about the single strand of wire. It stared down from dark and empty sockets, penduluming softly in the bitter wind.
'hollowed to the weight,' 'fluted bowns,' 'forlorn exhortation, 'wizened talons' 'penduluming softly' ... only McCarthy, truly.
A warm wind on the mountain and the sky darkening, the clouds looping black underbellies until a huge ulcer folded out of the mass and a crack like the earth’s core rending rattled panes from Winkle Hollow to Bay’s Mountain. And the wind rising and gone colder until the trees bent as if borne forward on some violent acceleration of the earth’s turning and then that too ceased and with a clatter and hiss out of the still air a plague of ice.
This reminds me of the 'narrowing eye' quote from Cities of the Plains. The quote is an acid incision to the heart.
Inside they struck matches and Warn took a candlestub from a crevice and lit it, the calcined rock taking shape, tonsiled roof and flowing concavity, like something gone partly to liquid and frozen back again misshapen and awry, their shadows curling threatfully up the walls among the dried and mounded bat droppings. They studied the inscriptions etched in the soft and curdcolored stone, hearts and names, archaic dates, crudely erotic hieroglyphs--the bulbed phallus and strange centipedal vulva of small boys' imaginations.
Reading McCarthy definitely boosts my vocabulary by 12%.

Anyhow, I'm off to continue pursuing The Orchard Keeper, goodnight, all.


Here comes my annual Christmas post! First and foremost, Merry Christmas to you all. This year, I began my Christmas in one of the most magical ways possible - watching Les Miserables. Christmas means family, and to see the musical of my childhood, with each tune practically carved into the minds of everyone in my family, translated to screen, starring Wolverine and Russel Crowe (haha), was stunning. A love-filled review for it will be coming soon. We don't have a tree this year, (unless you count the fake-plant-placed-there-for-decorative-purposes-draped-with-lights) but my sister and I still made wee attempts to lather dollops of festive cheer around the house... creamy whips of it... there are tiny holly berry ornaments poking out of the dining table lights, snowflake and bauble ornaments hung on window knobs, tinsel twirled across anything that will hold it, and Christmas lights stuck up... Festive lights are imperative during December. Winter is coldness, but Christmas is warmth. In January, I'll be seeing snow again (this time, proper heaps of it, I can't wait), and that shall be my White Christmas. 3 Christmases later, when I'm off at college, Christmas will be entirely different to me. Until then, I'm very content staying at home, reading McCarthy and writing on a lovely Christmas night. Have a convivial Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Life of Pi

2012 is nearing an end... so here's to completing my delayed blog post: A review on The Life of Pi.
I had two main reasons to watch this movie -
1) Ang Lee (Taiwanese pride)
2) The trailer had me gobsmacked
- and henceforth read the book as a preemptive move. As I pointed out in a previous post (but to be perfectly honest, I can't recall if I even bothered to post about it), the book wasn't fabulous, although the fluid storytelling technique was commendation-worthy.
The movie, however, was a different story entirely - I viewed it twice, and left both times with one altered impression, and another that remained unchanged on both occasions.
During my first viewing, I found the movie unappealing, but the second time round, I developed a liking for it, as well as a confirmed appreciation of the absolutely stunning effects and detailed cinematography under the baton of maestro ANG LEE!

This movie is a solid visual phenomena. "The Next Avatar". Well, I can tell you that Life of Pi was way more lovelier than Avatar! Lee filmed it with such intricate delicacy - not a single frame or crop is out of place. Each shot is poised exactly as it is meant to be filmed. We don't see anything unnecessary - everything captured is perfectly in place... I don't know how much further I can stress this.
Watching this in the cinemas, you catch your breath as you see yourself looking at a huge screen that is absolutely dominated in the gold, reflective light of a lonely sea at morning, or a single boat hovering on a dark sea that is dotted with the reflection of a million stars at night, balanced so that the sea and the sky become one, and their separation is invisible... The complementary colours created by the orange boat floating on a blue sea... young Pi, in a blue shirt, entering the chapel via a blue door (the colours match SO WELL), the orangutan floating to the boat on a pile of bananas...The text-magic of the opening sequence...Or the sight of an island swarmed in meerkats, an island that turns a luminescent green at night... a raging sea that sweeps in great armfuls of waves, crashing down with the fury of a thunderstorm...

Lee also did a wonderful job in expressing the Indian culture, via the dancing (the colours were beautiful here too), eating style, mythical story (which is later re-visited by Pi when he peers down into the ocean and sees everything - I can't even begin to express how genius this was). 

However, what is most discussed about this movie is that the CGI was spectacular. One does not watch and instantly recognize the 'green screen.' The tiger's puppy-like eyes, tenderly staring up at Pi... the growl of the tiger when it devours the hyena... Richard Parker is brilliant. He is, in the movie, as much of the star as he was in the book. He was the reason for Pi's survival, after all.
The last scene of the movie is utterly heartbreaking, and the fact that Lee chose to end it that way was.. genius. It is, after all, the one theme of the story - that we never take a chance to properly say goodbye, and that life is an act of letting go... the tiger disappearing into the woods was letting go.
"This is a story to make you believe in God," Pi said. Whether this stands true or not, the movie is breathtaking and beautiful. The cinematography is beyond imagination... this colours and scope of scenes in this film make it an artwork (probably one of the most incredible examples of movie-magic I've ever seen in my life, to think about it). I'm so proud of Ang Lee. This movie will sweep at the Oscars.
On a side note, I'm so thrilled to be watching 3 beautiful movies in a row (This, the Hobbit, and tomorrow - LES MIS).

little tree

by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)
little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid
look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy
then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud
and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

spangles that sleep, little arms, dressed... Cumming's poem is delicate and representative of the glowing childhood loveliness of Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012


I'm steering clear from the Doomsday hype - 21/12 means something entirely different to me.
Anyhow, here's a beautifully written passage from The Orchard Keeper
Some time after midnight on the twenty-first of December it began to snow. By morning in the gray spectral light of a brief and obscure winter sun the fields lay deadwhite and touched with a phosphorous glow as if producing illumination of themselves, and the snow was still wisping down thickly, veiling the trees beyond the creek and the mountain itself, falling softly, and softly, faintly sounding in the immense white silence.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


So, I resurrected my mixpod (grooveshark is brilliant, I should have started using it earlier), added 'snow' to my blog, and am currently trying to conjure up some Christmas spirit.

 Anyway, here is my very delayed review on Fathers and Sons.

My experience reading it was similar to reading Mildred Pierce (good writing, unsatisfying story). Like how Cain did a swell job expressing Mildred's independence yet devotion to her daughter, Ivan Turgenev fantastically portrayed the implications of a generation gap.
In the old days young people had to study. If they did not want to be thought ignorant they had to work hard whether they liked it or not. But now they need only say, 'Everything in the world is rubbish!' – and the trick's done.
The quote above is a great example of the disparity of logic and thoroughness when it comes to the explanations give by the new generation (when I say ' the new generation,' I am referencing the novel, and don't intend to stereotype modern society...which I understand may come off as a tad hypocritical, especially by what I say next).

It is so easy to say 'I hate this' or 'this is pointless,' and immediately assume, via the shortcut that is denial for the sake of easy denying, a self-righteous perspective. I've witnessed this tactic implemented by egotistical, but overconfident people.
For example, I'm a firm believer that under certain circumstances,

"I hate school, it doesn't matter anyway" translates to "I'm not getting the best grades and can't be bothered to push myself - which I consider as self-degradation - to succeed, so my denial shall serve as my stance (excuse, really)"

The term that jumped out at me when reading this novel (and this is what I mean by my own hypocrisy) was hipster. The term hipster has become so generic, and loosely associated with any sort of activity that presents a different stance (listening to exotic music, wearing colour-clashing clothes), that a 'hipster' denotes someone who defies 'mainstream' activity, and therefore anyone who aspires to 'be a hipster' aims to defy for the sake of defying.


Anyhow, this is a stream of thought I'll drop for the moment...
Below are more lovely quotes from the novel. It wasn't a super-enjoyable read, but there was the occasional beautiful phrase:
Time (as we all know) sometimes flies like a bird and sometimes crawls like a snail; but man is happiest when he does not even notice whether time is passing quickly or slowly.
"While I think; here I lie under a haystack . . . The tiny bit of space I occupy is so minute in comparison with the rest of the universe, where I am not and which is not concerned with me; and the period of time in which it is my lot to live is so infinitesimal compared with the eternity in which I have not been and shall not be... And yet here, in this atom which is myself, in this mathematical point, blood circulates, the brain operates and spires to something too... What a monstrous business! What futility!"
Man is capable of understanding everything – the vibration of ether and what's going on in the sun; but why another person should blow his nose differently from him – that, he's incapable of understanding.
Man is a strange creature. Contemplating from a distance the god-foresaken life our old folk lead here, one thinks: what could be better? You eat and drink, and you know you always do the right thing in the right way. But not a bit of it, you die of boredom. One needs people, even if only to swear at.
If you're interested in reading a novel on Russia during the 1830s, and the nihilist movement that was occurring at the time, Fathers and Sons is a perfect choice.

Or, if you're interested in Russian Literature, and haven't got the time/mental strength to begin Anna Karenina or even set eyes on the immense War and Peace, you'll welcome this novel with open arms.

Monday, December 17, 2012

He was waiting and weathers and seasons were his timepiece now.

For some time now the road had been deserted, white and scorching yet, though the sun was already reddening the western sky. He walked along slowly in the dust, stopping from time to time and bobbling on one foot like some squat ungainly bird while he examined the wad of tape coming through his shoe-sole. He turned again. Far down the blazing strip of concrete a small shapeless mass had emerged and was struggling toward him. It loomed steadily, weaving and grotesque like something seen through bad glass, gained briefly the form and solidity of a pickup truck, whipped past and receded into the same liquid shape by which it came.
Only McCarthy could begin a book so spectacularly. Beautiful.
Curled in a low peach limb the old man watched the midmorning sun blinding on the squat metal tank that topped the mountain. He had found some peaches, although the orchard went to ruin twenty years before when the fruit had come so thick and no one to pick it that at night the overborne branches cracking sounded in the valley like distant storms raging. The old man remembered it that way, for he was a lover of storms.
Peach, sun, mountain, storms... nature imagery and its interweaving with fluid, poetic prose, is McCarthy's forte. His writing reminds me of winter, and therefore winter always reminds me of good literature.
He fell asleep to the water and metal sounds of the rain runneling over the tin and sluicing through the gutterpipe, the rapid slash of it in a gust of wind and the fine mist spraying his face through the bellying screen. The oaks stirred restlessly, low admonitions, shhh...
The quote above is so Faulkner-esque (I promise that this will be the last time I draw the familiar, reiterated link between Faulkner and McCarthy), especially reminiscent of the raining scene in As I Lay Dying. I love it when good writers write about the rain. How good is the last sentence in this case? "The oaks stirred restlessly, low admonitions, shhh..."

The Orchard Keeper was a tad difficult to dive into, but now I'm 65 pages in and having a wonderful time.  

Mildred Pierce

I finished reading Mildred Pierce two days ago.
Was the story beautiful? No. Was it perhaps inspirational or enlightening? Not really, either. Truth be told, the story revolves around a mother, who, although is independent and strong-willed, remains pathetically devoted to her fierce daughter. It's not a very heart-warming tale of love and affection, yet the way James M. Cain captures the essence of Mildred's yearning and infatuation in this story, paralleled with the steady and unflinching development of Veda (her daughter), is very well done.

For me, there were really only 2 note-worthy quotes in the novel:
Still with her first half dozen pies to make, she drove home very late, full of a gulpy love for the whole human race.
A home is not a museum. It doesn't have to be furnished with Picasso paintings, or Sheraton suites, or Oriental rugs, or Chinese pottery. But it does have to be furnished with things that mean something to you. If they're just phonies, bought in a hurry to fill up, it'll look like that living room ,over there, or the way this lawn looked when my father got through showing how much money he had.
If you like Mildred Pierce, you'll like it for Cain's style and fluidity of language, but not for the dispiriting tale.

PS - I've embarked upon The Orchard Keeper (McCarthy FTW). It began beautifully. It takes McCarthy the maestro to turn a southern murder story so breathtakingly stunning. This was his debut novel, and what I can say is that his writing has become much more 'understandable' since then...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The World is AHEAD

I'm fully aware that I've promised to post about different subjects, but the moment that I had been waiting for (forgive the cliché) arrived last Thursday. After a year of hunting down every production video possible, listening to the soundtrack on repeat, and blogging about it, last night I finally sat down before a large screen and watched THE HOBBIT in High Frame Rate.

Let me just say that it was absolutely stunning.

My friends have closed all doors on any further LOTR-related rants that may spew out of my mouth, so  this post is my haven for releasing all my positive Middle-Earth-Energy (MEE). The extensive review below will contain spoilers, so avert your eyes if you haven't watched the movie.

The Hobbit began in the most beautiful way possible - before we even set eyes on Middle Earth My Dear Frodo had already began playing. It was one of the moments where one sets their palm to their chest, shuts their eyes, and breathes deeply. Best yet was seeing Elijah Wood (FRODO) strut into sight. The fact that The Hobbit essentially began exactly the way The Fellowship did, with Frodo running off to find Gandalf, was PERFECT. To be more specific, The Hobbit really began with background info on the Arkenstone (given by Bilbo), which again, is so reminiscent of the Sauron background info given at the beginning of The Fellowship. Gandalf's DMC with Biblo about sparing a life was again so reminiscent of Gandalf telling Frodo about pitying Gollum. The moment when the heavy, gold ring comes crashing down the stone steps amidst the blue (I had nearly forgotten about the ring until then), and when it slips onto Bilbo's hand just like how it did so for Frodo in Bree (KNEW THAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN) are two more links that can be directly drawn between both movies... The Hobbit needed to live up to expectations. It needed to remind the LOTR fanbase that it was still LOTR-esque, but different in its own way. This was a success for Jackson. Now the 2 Hobbit movies to come can embody more of an independent shell, now that An Unexpected Journey has set the stage.

I was quite impressed with the amount of little things Jackson managed to include, especially the dwarves' singing (That's What Bibo Baggins Hates). The dwarves are hard to dislike. Memorizing their names is still going to be an issue, but they are all visually different and noticeably so, which is great (Check out this genius piece of work, and the punny introduction: Kili, mischievous and attractive, is definitely my favorite thus far, which is very depressing as Kili, Fili and Thorin perish in the Battle of the Five Armies. Kili and Fili are so helplessly likable in the film (they bring back a Merry and Pippin feel), knowing what's to come is demotivating ...

Having Sir Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, and Christopher Lee back was brilliant.  I don't think I've ever been so happy to see Saruman/Count Dooku under any circumstance. CHRISTOPHER LEE is literally 90 years old and looks exactly as he did years ago in TFOTR (The Fellowship of the Ring). It's remarkable. We can tell Cate Blanchett has aged - though radiating nonetheless (literally every scene she is in glows, and her gown weaves around her perfectly) - and McKellen, definitely, but their portrayals are not any less effective or well-done (especially McKellen). Gandalf is still Gandalf, and it was fabulous to welcome him back as a younger Mithrandir.

Taking the subject of this review back to the soundtrack, during the scene above (Gandalf and Galadriel's DMC), THE BREAKING OF THE FELLOWSHIP LITERALLY STARTED PLAYING - my heart nearly stopped, I was so sure I'd weep - that piece stands alone in LOTR soundtrack history as my absolute favorite, favorite, favorite... the hours I spent playing it on the piano... I was taken aback. Shore's reusing of it took me completely by surprise. It was effective, reminiscent, and undoubtedly beautiful.

I must once again reiterate that the movie could not have been epic without the amazing score. The company running in the mountains, the dwarves charging to Bilbo's rescue from the trolls... the Misty Mountains theme roared during all EPIC parts of the movie, vibrating with heroism, courage, and determination... I loved it. I think I've ranted about the score enough, but HOWARD SHORE needs an Oscar for this movie. He deserves it.

The entrance into Rivendell was spectacular. So beautiful... the soundtrack rose to the elvish, almost extraterrestrial high note, and once more we are back in the majesty of Elrond's home. When Gandalf calls him my friend, 'mellon' is distinct. Perfect moments like this are everywhere in this movie. The arrival of the eagles, via messenger butterflies (SO LOTR-esque), the battle of the storm-giants, Bilbo's grand leap over Gollum...

Speaking of Gollum, how perfectly scary was he portrayed in The Hobbit? You don't leave the LOTR-scene without getting a fair share of Sméagol-ness. Gollum was younger, twice as creepy, and the Riddles in the Dark scene was fabulously horrifying! Hats off to Andy Serkis. As usual, his dual personality disorder was portrayed brilliantly. This is a movie you must watch, my precioussss.

Let's discuss the movie's loyalty to LOTR and the book. First, there were a couple obvious changes - the introduction of Radagast and a slight change on how Gandalf saves the day in the trolls scene (which was hilarious, by any case). Perhaps some people may have preferred the provoked argument method by which Gandalf lured the trolls into dawn, but I myself was satisfied with the 'MAY DAWN TAKE YOU' then epic blinding light and crack of stone (so reminiscent of when he comes to save the day with the men of Rohan in 2 Towers). Then, there was the expansion of the storm-giants scene, the insertion of the White Council scene (which was VERY welcome, thank you Peter Jackson), and as most people are discussing, the inclusion of RADAGAST THE BROWN. As I've already discussed in my previous post, I had absolutely no problem with Radagast, and was actually mega-looking forward to seeing him. Literally all his entrance scenes, with his rabbits, were undeniably epic. He was also the one who went to fetch proof of the Necromancer's existence (AKA Sauron AKA Benedict Cumberbatch). Plus, his nursing of the hedgehog was very, very cute. So, I really haven't got issues with Radagast, although I'm aware many did (one critic scathingly wrote that he 'descended into Jar Jar Binks territory').

Stepping aside from Radagast, let's talk about Richard Armitage. I think he fit into Thorin brilliantly. He's got the look, definitely, and seems to be the 'new Aragorn' of the series, a prince trying to reclaim his throne... That ending scene where he hugs Bilbo... tears...

So, to make this an unbiased review, it seems time for me to elaborate more on what I didn't fancy so much about this movie. The High Frame Rate got to me. Everything seemed so defined and life-like that I feel as if the movie almost lost the picturesque effect of good cinematography. I had to switch my 3D glasses several times to make sure I was seeing the right things. Most reviews you read will have something to say about the HFR. While it worked quite well during action scenes, it was not so appealing at other times.

Moreover, the movie was very, very long... don't get me wrong, I had a swell time in the cinema, but it almost seems like Jackson it attempting to continue the 'long-LOTR-movies' trend, which he should consider rethinking.

Nevertheless, was this movie beautiful and brilliant? The scenery was breathtaking, the acting was well done (proud of Martin Freeman, really), the technology enhanced the battle scenes, the soundtrack left me spellbound, and the MEE was undeniable.

Masterpiece? Oh yes, I've no doubt about that.

(You'll get the reference if you've read or at least seen the blurbs of any LOTR book).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Recovery Writing

Something new I'll start posting. Recovery Writing - flash prose, McCarthy-styled musings, whatever you want to call it.

The sharp teeth of the winter chill bites on each broken branch, gnaws on each retiring leaf, sinks into the lapsing of each tired tide. Behind the beautiful and monstrous mountain, majestic behind the flurried film of snow, is a red valley. Unlike the wilting green of the grass plains. Unlike the yellow flesh of a baked potato. Red like anger, romance and rust. Red in winter. Defined against the white – grey – silver – sky that smells like cold and smells like the concept of buried pine trees. Is the world compressed? Or wider – like each swifter stride? The lashing of the wind is a welcome whip after an unsatisfying day.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Be on the lookout for...
1) A review of Father and Sons
2) A review of The Book of Other people
3) A review of Life of Pi
4) Updated playlist
5) A review of Mildred Pierce (reading now)

Hello, December!

It is officially the first day of my favourite month of the year. I feel like each time winter twinkles back into my life, it brings out the best in me. I feel sharper, like the crisp weather, cleaner, like the air, more concise, filtered, and sanitized... I think more, the plucking of a guitar means more, and each clean breath is a delight... it feels like the McCarthy-reading, sweater-layering, and satisfying pressing-on-the-cool-violin-strings season I wish I had all year round. Comfort does wonders to the head and heart. I face an event-packed week, but I am at ease. Winter... each bare branch, the tinge of a chill, the thought of snow in another country... winter feels like literature, like delicate music, like a steady pulse. Winter is hours spent burrowing inside blankets with a book, a sweat-free walk in the hills, and a time to nail Jack Johnson, Marling and Mitchell songs on the guitar. Winter is for letting my hair down and feeling it grow. Winter - the word itself is poetry - how pleasant is the short 'i' and the turning of tone 't' brings after 'n'... winter is hands stuck in pockets, feet tucked in boots, and warming up next to the heater. Winter is keeping warm. Winter is lovely, and it is here!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A short walk in a southern wood


So - I'm still living in the busy weeks I referred to in my last post - but here's an update:
1) I finished Father and Sons and The Book of Other People. Reviews and quotes for those two are coming soon.
2) I'm currently reading The Little Red Writing Book and Mildred Pierce.
3) I've borrowed The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy from the library but this intervenes with my McCarthy-reading 5 Year Plan so I'm debating whether or not I should jump into it straight away (the beautiful first sentence is so tempting).
4) I'm becoming increasingly interested in the works of Ron Padgett, an American Poet.
5) I'm a tad concerned about whether I've been grammatically correct in my previous posts (I've picked up an annoying habit of dropping pronouns).

That is all for the moment. I'm working very hard on my Personal Project, and will forever be in debt to the LOTR soundtracks for helping me through this strenuous journey.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The World is Ahead

I know I've disappeared for probably a month, now. Here's what's been happening
- I am living in the busiest couple of weeks of my life! Every weekend I turn to has something booked sometime, somewhere... insane...
- Reading Father and Sons by Ivan Turgenev and The Book of Other People edited by Zadie Smith. The former gives me a way subdued taste of what reading Anna Karenina must be like, and the latter is quite brilliant - great combination of fanatically clever and profound short stories! People, people! There is no way to pen down exactly what type they are - just the things they do...

Here's a taster -
It is 4:30 a.m. and Magda would like us, her neighbors, to know that she is a very talented woman, a woman of accomplishments. Magda is a nurse, a qualified pilot, a businesswoman and a philanthropist, a gifted and sensitive lover, the holder of certificates in computing and English grammar, a semi-professional country singer, and a mother. Yes, a mother! Magda has a daughter. Who came out of this pussy right here.
Anyway, stressful day. And I am de-stressing in the most beautiful way possible... the complete soundtrack for The Hobbit is out and Howard Shore is stronger than ever before. I haven't heard anything DUN DUN DUN like the battle themes for Gondor and Rohan yet, but the Concerning Hobbits theme is back and lovelier than ever, so sweet and thickly mellow. Then, of course, there are new pieces - most noticeably, The Misty Mountains Cold which is playing right now as I type. So many new tribal sounds...

I am currently 23:29 minutes into what will be a heart-warming, tear-jerking, and EPIC 1:45:5 hour journey. I'll write more when I finish listening to the soundtrack.

This movie had better win BEST SOUNDTRACK at the Oscars!

OK - now a peek at Radagast the Brown...

For those of you who don't know, Radagast is Gandalf's cousin (I just recently learned, too), and here he rightly looks like a hobo Gandalf. Anyway, he, along with Gandalf and Saruman, were members of the Istari. Of course, eventually only Gandalf remains truly loyal to the quest, but Radagast does not go to the dark side like Saruman does. He was one with the nature and the animals, and chose to pursue that path. If you want more information, GOOGLE!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

These are not the droids you are looking for...

Easily one of the most snazziest and cutest things I've seen in a long time! So perfect. Best pick up line ever. Going to go and do something that rhymes with go-read-the-Fellowship-of-the-Ring goodbye!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

We're always sick and we just don't know it. What we mean by health is only when our constant physical deterioration is undetectable.

Finished reading A Fraction of the Whole a while ago.
Couple main points about this book - it's VERY clever, savagely funny,and dastardly ironic! Steve Toltz can definitely whip up a story. A sick, twisted, masochistic story, but a story nonetheless. And I mean this in the most entertaining way possible. It's like he vomited all his words onto the page and they all spelled out wonderfully. 561 pages of pure entertainment and wit. It was so hard to pluck out quotes because every single sentence could be one - Toltz says something profound in every paragraph, whether it comes with philosophical or literary intentions. This man knows how to work the English language to give you a thrilling ride. And considering that this is only his DEBUT novel, I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next. I'm also interested in knowing his IQ. Must be pretty high.

However, this book needs to come with a warning sign. One thing to beware is that the characters get very addictive (maybe it's the pace of the novel and their thought trains) and this will mess with you mentally. Your thinking speed will shift and the ideas you come up with may seem slightly warped at times. A necessary sacrifice to finish this book. Really, all the turns the plot took are incredible now that I am thinking back in retrospect. I admire Toltz's imagination (emphasis on the imagination, his dreams must be as large as an elephant). and writing skill. His style that takes some getting used to at first (though definitely starts off with a friendly wink, if you know what I mean), invites you to tag along. I recommend that you do. This book will definitely make you laugh, and above all, THINK, THINK, THINK!


Here are the quotes:
I will teach you how not to demonize your enemies and how to make yourself unappetizing when the hordes turn up to eat you. I’ll teach you how to yell with your mouth closed and how to steal happiness . . . and how not to leave the windows of your heart open when it looks like rain and how everyone has a stump where something necessary was amputated. I’ll teach you how to know what’s missing.
Essentially this book is told in Jasper's narrative. He lives with his father, Martin Dean (this quote is Martin's plan on educating his child). He talks about his father's story and his own story. The intertwine inevitably, naturally, but somewhere along the road you'll see what the author meant by 'A Fraction of the Whole.' No spoilers now.
That's how we slide, and while we slide we blame the world's problems on colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, corporatism, stupid white men, and America, but there's no need to make a brand name of blame. Individual self-interest: that's the source of our descent, and it doesn't start in the boardrooms or the war rooms either. It starts in the home.
Just a typical paragraph that pops up at you every couple minutes in this book.
You experience life alone, you can be as intimate with another as much as you like, but there has to be always a part of you and your existence that is incommunicable; you die alone, the experience is yours alone, you might have a dozen spectators who love you, but your isolation, from birth to death, is never fully penetrated.
You never hear of a sportsman losing his sense of smell in a tragic accident and for good reason; in order for the universe to teach excruciating lessons that are unable to apply in later life, the sportsman must lose his legs, the philosopher his mind, the painter his eyes, the musician his ears, the chef his tongue. 
Ironic, isn't it?
And here is the HUGE chunk. There have been other soliloquies in this novel but for me, THIS is the epic one. About death and beliefs. If anything will make you want to read this book, this quote will!
“People always complain about having no shoes until they see a man with no feet, then they complain about not having an electric wheelchair. Why? What makes them automatically transfer themselves from one dull system to another, and why is free will utilized only on details and not on the broad outlines [?] . . . Why is free will wasted on a creature who has infinite choices but pretends there are only one or two? . . . “. . . People are like knees that are hit with tiny rubber hammers. . . . I don’t want to be a hammer, because I know how the knees will react. It’s boring to know. I know because I know that people believe. People are proud of their beliefs. Their pride gives them away. It’s the pride of ownership. I’ve had mystical visions and found they were all so much noise. I saw visions I heard voices I smelled smells but I ignored them just as I will always ignore them. I ignore these mysteries because I saw them. . . . And why don’t I believe? Because there’s a process going on and I can see it. “It happens when people see Death, which is all the time. They see Death but they perceive Light. They feel their own death and they call it God. This happens to me too. When I feel deep in my guts that there’s meaning in the world, or God, I know it is really Death, but because I don’t want to see Death in the daylight, the mind plots and says Listen up you won’t die don’t worry you are special you have meaning the world has meaning can’t you feel it? And I still see Death and feel him too. And my mind says Don’t think about death lalalala you will always be beautiful and special and you will never die nevernevernever haven’t you heard of the immortal soul well you have a really nice one. And I say Maybe and my mind says Look at that fucking sunset look at those fucking mountains look at that goddamn magnificent tree where else could that have come from but the hand of God that will cradle you forever and ever. And I start to believe in Profound Puddles. Who wouldn’t? That’s how it begins. But I doubt. And my mind says Don’t worry. You won’t die. Not in the long term. The essence of you will not perish, not the stuff worth keeping. . . . They should go about harnessing the power of the unconscious when it is in the act of denying Death. It is during the fiery Process that belief is produced, and if the fires are really hot they produce Certainty- Belief’s ugly son. To feel you know with all your heart Who made the universe, Who manages it, Who pays for it, et cetera, is in effect to disengage from it. The so-called religious, the so-called spiritualists, the groups that are quick to renounce the Western tradition of ‘soul-deadening consumerism’ and point out that comfort is death think it applies only to material possessions. . . . So you see? God is the beautiful propaganda made in the fires of Man. And it’s OK to love God because you appreciate the artistry of his creation, but you don’t have to believe in a character because you’re impressed by the author. Death and Man, God’s coauthors, are the most prolific writers on the planet. Their output is prodigious. Man’s Unconscious and Inevitable Death have co-penned Jesus, Muhammad, and Buddha, to name but a few. And that’s just the characters. They created heaven, hell, paradise, limbo, and purgatory. And that’s just the settings. And what more? Everything, maybe. . . . Humans are unique in this world in that, as opposed to all other animals, they have developed a consciousness so advanced that it has one awful byproduct: they are the only creatures aware of their own mortality. This truth is so terrifying that from a very early age humans bury it deep in their unconscious, and this has turned people into red-blooded machines, fleshy factories that manufacture meaning. The meaning they feel becomes channeled into their immortality projects- such as their children, or their gods, or their artistic works, or their businesses, or their nations- that they believe will outlive them. And here’s the problem: people feel they need these beliefs in order to live but are unconsciously suicidal because of their beliefs. That’s why when a person sacrifices his life for a religious cause, he has chosen to die not for a god but in the service of an unconscious primal fear. So it is this fear that causes him to die of the very thing he is afraid of. You see? The irony of their immortality projects is that while they have been designed by the unconscious to fool the person into a sense of specialness and into a bid for everlasting life, the manner in which they fret about their immortality projects is the very thing that kills them. . . . The denial of death rushes people into an early grave, and if you are not careful, they will take you with them.”
Happy reading!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


It's funny that yesterday I thought I had nothing else left to listen to. The bands I used to love have come out with new music that don't hit me as hard (Mumford and Sons) and I expected Red to be similarly disappointing. And to my surprise, it really isn't! Listening to All to Well now and I remember why I love Taylor Swift, and why she and Laura Marling are my greatest female musician inspirations. Can't wait for Laura's new album, but until then, Red is keeping my quite occupied! Tracks on it that I surprised myself liking -

22, All Too Well, State of Grace, Begins Again, Red, I Knew You Were Trouble.

AND the secret messages are so intriguing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

They could hear the rain coming down the road behind them like some phantom migration.

It has been a despairingly long time since I've found a book or song that I have been able to delve completely into with full passion. When I look at my Goodreads book ratings I've pretty much given the past 6 books I've read 2 or 3 stars at most. It's condescending. On top of all this I still miss the mountains dearly.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks

I have returned from the magical and beautiful Tibetan Plateau!

I've been trying to find words to describe the trip. Let's say that if the adventure was a book, it would be a deep, good book, and if it was a snack it would be a delectable and nutritious fruity granola bar.
It dawned on me about the second to last day in the most comfortable, quilt-plumped tent I've ever slept in that I will return to Hong Kong with a small hole in my heart. How fitting was it that I brought The Hobbit there! From the day I signed up the goal was always to find a Middle Earth requiem there and I did. I I feel like Bilbo at 111, saying,

"I want to see mountains again, mountains Gandalf! And then find somewhere quiet where I can finish my book."

Perhaps one of the largest reasons I am so emotionally attached to this trip is because it was my first time ever seeing it snow. I remember returning from one of the most nasty public toilets I've ever set foot in, trekking back to the bus in the freezing weather of 3200 m above sea level, and seeing white drifts of sprinkled snow float around me. The last character in my Chinese name means snowflake, and I've yet to see that (it will need to be colder) but the snow was absolutely lovely. The hail that came ramming down on the first day of biking was incredible too... little pellets of ice... 

It was also very gratifying to see the beginnings of the Yellow River. Back to a bit of name history now; the first two characters of my dad's Chinese name denote the 'Yellow River.' So, very special for me. We arrived in the morning, and the mist was all over the river. Beautiful.

And then, of course, who can forget the multicolored tree and mountain landscape of the Jiu Zhai Gou valley? The mountain scenery was one of a kind. Driving down the 9 switchbacks to the village, I felt I was in Canada, and not China! Tibetans are very likely my favourite type of people at the moment. So warm and embracing! I had my decent share of yak-viewing and eating there (yak jerky is quite tasty). On another note, horse riding on the mountains was a major success for me, one of the main reasons I wanted to go on this trip. Going up and down the steep slope on horseback and then having it accelerate to a quick trot was so satisfying. So, check! 

The saddest part was having to leave, and we parted with this incredible view from the plane. But, like Bilbo, I promise to go back again, to breathe the clean air, tread the mountains, and see the snow. Even if it takes me until my one hundred and eleventieth birthday... I will see the mountains once more! 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Finchel Forever

So... there goes my favourite Glee couple, cry cry cry... I suppose there was no way Finchel could have dragged on to eternity. Glee made the necessary choice splitting them, but it was so incredibly heart breaking. In the meantime, I hate Brody and I want Finn (Cory Monteith was the reason I began watching Glee, I love him) to find out WHO he really is and settle down, remain awesome, and eventually end up together with Rachel again, happily ever after. The Rachel Berry morph/transformation is a little unsettling for me but at least Finn is still incredible. Oh, and Quinn needs to come back soon. Long story short, Finchel has made me cry many times and this was another particularly heartbreaking episode. May they get back together before the end of the season, please...

Favourite Finchel performances:

We burned with love for ourselves, all of us, starters of the fire we suffered- our love was the affliction for which only our love was the cure.

Quotes from Everything is Illuminated. Love how it's based on Nazi stuff. Well thought-out in its own way, fantastic combination of tale-telling through odd prose and letters. At the moment, I'm reading A Fraction of the Whole by Steven Toltz  and it's a tad like Everything is Illuminated too. Very freely written book, almost seems like the author sat down and just vomited words onto the page. But nice colorful words, not puke-like at all. Also very, very funny. Phrases like 'delectable golden nuggets of knowledge' would sink right into it.

You are dying, Brod said, because it was the truth, the all-consuming and unacknowledged truth, and she was tired of saying things that weren't the truth. I am, he said. What does it feel like? I don't know, through the hole. I'm scared. “You don’t have to be scared, she said. It’s going to be OK. How is it going to be OK? It’s not going to hurt. I don’t think that’s what I’m afraid of. What are you afraid of? I’m afraid of not being alive.” 
Quote above... exactly...
“But more, I manufacture not-truths for Little Igor. I desire him to feel as if he has a cool brother, and a brother whose life he would desire to impersonate one day. I want Little Igor to be able to boast to his friends about his brother, and to want to be viewed in public places with him. I think that this is why I relish writing for you so much. It makes it possible for me to be not like I am, but as I desire for Little Igor to see me. I can be funny, because I have time to mediate about how to be funny, and I can repair my mistakes when I perform mistakes, and I can be a melancholy person in manners that are interesting, not only melancholy. With writing, we have second chances. You mentioned to me that first evening of our voyage that you thought you might have been born to be a writer. What a terrible thing, I think. But I must tell you, I do not think that you understood the meaning of what you said when you said that. You were making suggestions of how you like to write, and how it is an interesting thing for you to imagine worlds that are not exactly like this one, or worlds that are exactly like this one. It is true, I am certain, that you will write very many more books than I will, but it is me, not you, who was born to be the writer.”
“They reciprocated the great and saving lie--that our love for things is greater than our lover for our love for things--willfully playing the parts they wrote for themselves, willfully creating and believing fictions necessary for life.”
“SADNESS OF THE INTELLECT: Sadness of being misunderstood [sic]; Humor sadness; Sadness of love wit[hou]t release; Sadness of being smart; Sadness of not knowing enough words to [express what you mean]; Sadness of having options; Sadness of wanting sadness; Sadness of confusion; Sadness of domes[tic]ated birds, Sadness of finishing a book; Sadness of remembering; Sadness of forgetting; Anxiety sadness...”
And, favourite:
“It feels like a moment I've lived a thousand times before, as if everything is familiar, right up to the moment of my death, that it will happen again an infinite number of times, that we will meet, marry, have our children, succeed in the ways we have, fail in the ways we have, all exactly the same, always unable to change a thing. I am again at the bottom of an unstoppable wheel, and when I feel my eyes close for death, as they have and will a thousand times, I awake.”

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tolkien Week

I've been doing lots of stuff for Tolkien week. These include -
  • Reading Lord of the Rings and Philosophy by Gregory Bassham and Eric Bronson 
  • Listening to the LOTR soundtrack
  • Rewatching LOTR clips
  • Rewatching The Hobbit trailer
So far, near done with Lord of the Rings and Philosophy and the writers need to STOP talking about Nietzsche because it is irksome and I'd rather they start talking about Elrond. But in the latter chapters things are better. 

So... I'd like to dedicate this blog post to my favourite Tolkien character of all time -
Samwise the Stouthearted, aka Samwise Gamgee!

Yes, Frodo was the ring-bearer, most of the stress was on him, and yes, Legolas was swift with an arrow and bow, and yes, Gandalf always arrived to save the day, but many forget Sam, who was the best of all friends and stuck with Frodo throughout the entire journey. When Frodo was dragged into Shelob's lair, Sam climbed a dark and terrible tower to rescue him. Sam never game up, and that is one of the reason's Frodo could not either. Then, about the terrible, seductive ring - there were a couple close calls where Sam felt tempted, but deep down, as the stubborn hobbit he was, he knew so stolidly who he was - albeit a gardener - but one that would not ever touch the ring. Sam understood - sometimes more than Frodo - the importance of destroying the ring, and invested all he could to complete the mission. He gave Frodo his lembas bread, encouraged Frodo when hope seemed dire, and not to say the least - CARRIED Frodo up Mount Doom.

Whenever I watch LOTR, all Sam has to do is mention Rosie Cotton and I want to cry - I'm so glad he married her in the end and had 17 children, and also got to write his tale in the Red Book. Sam completely deserves it. He ends the story so well... for me, he is truly one of the most unforgettable characters of all time.

Favourite LOTR pieces

Incredible scene. Even Gollum was moved -

Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo?

Sorry about the quality -

How I bawl during this scene -

LONG LIVE LOTR! Can't wait to see The Hobbit in cinemas!
The Lord of the Rings helped me through my preteen years... I went on a journey with Sam and Frodo and the fellowship... I remember the very first day I began the Two Towers and how I felt finishing The Return of the King. The book touched me so deeply. I loved nature more (one of the leading factors that pushed me to choose Tibet for my project week trip was the idea of cycling through Middle-Earth-esque landscapes). Hannon Le to Tolkien!
There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What difference does it make after all?--anonymity in the world of men is better than fame in heaven, for what’s heaven? what’s earth? All in the mind.

 Second batch.
I want to marry a [guy], so i can rest my soul with [him] till we both get old. This can't go on all the time-- all this franticness and jumping around. We've got to go someplace, find something.
Originally says 'girl' instead of 'guy'.
Something, someone, some spirit was pursuing all of us across the desert of life and was bound to catch us before we reached heaven. Naturally, now that I look back on it, this is only death: death will overtake us before heaven. The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death.
I agree with this quote! Used to think about it to myself a lot (although I hate to admit it).
What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.
This quote is amazing, probably my second or third favourite. Love, love, love it. Perfect way to kick off a chapter.
I could hear and indescribable seething roar which wasn't which wasn't in my ear but everywhere and had nothing to do with sounds. I realised that I had died and reborn numberless times but just didn't remember especially because the transitions from life to death and back to life are so ghostly eas, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it. I realised it was only because of the stability of the intrinsic Mind that these ripples of birth and death took place, like the action of wind on a sheet of pure, serene, mirror-like water. I felt sweet, swinging bliss, like a big shot of heroin in the mainline vein, like a gulp of wine late in the afternoon and it makes you shudder; my feet tingled. I thought I was going to die the very next moment.
This was when Paradise was high. Anyway, I still love this. Talks about the mind and life and death. Love the bit about falling asleep and waking up, I think about it that way too.
We turned at a dozen paces, for love is a duel, and looked at each other for the last time.

Isn't this lovely? How could I leave it. So short but memorable and moving.

Just finished reading Everything is Illuminated - expect quotes up for that soon, too!!
On the Road is one of the best books I've read this year. Period. Here's to all the crazy people who "never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."

The waves are Chinese, but the earth is an Indian thing

Quotes from On the Road (part 1).

So... let me just start off by saying all the characters in this book are very different from me - they drive at whirlwind maniacal speeds, hit a jam-packed club at every feasible opportunity, and are always looking for more weed to smoke.
Nevertheless, this is a beautiful book, with an incredible character - Dean Moriarty (aka Neal Cassady) at its core. The boys' drive to get high is definitely a huge theme at the brink of the book's plot (and one of the most defining features that allowed this book to be dubbed the piece that 'defined the 50s'), but I read it from a different perspective. These characters are madly in love with life and this is why I connected with this book so deeply.
The Speaker is Sal Paradise (aka Jack Kerouac). Now would be a good time, after all the 'akas' to explain that On the Road was originally written within the span of three weeks- or should I say typed -  on a 120 foot manuscript that is now called the  'original scroll.' Some rich football team owner bought it for 2.43 million American dollars. Anyway, the version I read was not the original scroll but the version edited for publication (although you can certainly get your hands on the published original scroll) and all the names are switched around, hence the aka's.
One of the characters in the book - Carlo Marx - is ACTUALLY Allen Ginsberg and the more you think about it as you read the more brilliant everything gets. And Old Bull Lee is really William S. Burroughs. So I suppose all the writers who defined the Beat Generation pretty much hung about together. Sort of.
Anyway, Dean completes this story and Paradise does a swell job of telling it in the first place. Cannot wait to watch the movie. Garret Hedlund makes a perfect Dean.
Without further ado, here are the first batch of quotes:
Everybody’s cool, everybody looks at you with such straight brown eyes and they don’t say anything, just look, and in that look all of the human qualities are soft and subdued and still there. Dig all the foolish stories you read about Mexico and the sleeping gringo and all that crap) - and crap about greasers and so on - and all it is, people here are straight and kind and don’t put down any bull. I’m so amazed by this. Schooled in the raw road night, Dean was come into the world to see it. He bent over the wheel and looked both ways and rolled along slowly. [...] The sun rose pure on pure and ancient activities of human life."
A new world.
You had a vision, boy, a vision. Only damn fools pay no attention to visions. How do you know your father, who was an old horseplayer, just didn’t momentarily
communicate to you that Big Pop was going to win the race? The name brought the feeling up in you, he took advantage of the name to communicate. That’s what I was thinking about when you mentioned it. [...] In the car as we drove back to his old house he said, "Mankind will someday realize that we are actually in contact with the dead and with the other world, whatever it is; right now we could predict, if we only exerted enough mental will, what is going to happen within the next hundred years and be able to take steps to avoid all kinds of catastrophes. When a man dies he undergoes a mutation in his brain that we know nothing about now but which will be very clear someday if scientists get on the ball. The bastards right now are only interested in seeing if they can blow up the world.
Love this quote... Old Bull Lee says it. Interesting about the mutation in the brain. If you read the book Old Bull Lee is the wise owl.
I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was - I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn't scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.
This quote is one of my favourites. Hasn't anyone ever felt like this? When you sit still and stare and all of a sudden you're sure your life and the world is surely all in your mind and you feel all animal-like and strange and sit just existing.
The sun goes down long and red. All the magic names of the valley unrolled - Manteca, Madera, all the rest. Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon field; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries. I stuck my head out the window and took deep breaths of the fragant air. It was the most beautiful of all moments.

And, this is is just some really good writing I could not let slip. Beautiful descriptions ('pressed grapes,' 'color of love')

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On the Road

So far, On the Road exceeds expectations. Favourite quote from it is shown below.


This is the time of day when the sun streams in through the window most. I can see the dusty debris inside my keyboard. The point is though, I do not leave the study room until the sun shafts do. Time for silmarillion quotes!

“For if joyful is the fountain that rises in the sun, its springs are in the wells of sorrow unfathomable at the foundations of the Earth.”
“Many are the strange chances of the world,' said Mithrandir, 'and help oft shall come from the hands of the weak when the Wise falter.”
'For that woe is past,' said Galadriel; 'and I would take what joy is here left, untroubled by memory. And maybe there is woe enough yet to come, though still hope may seem bright.'

 I loved the story of Beren and Lúthien. The tale of Túrin and beleg is very sad, I couldn't believe what had happened when I read it. Anyway, love the writing. Not as good as LOTR, of course, but a great background reference.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The slow cruel hands of time

So. New Band of Horses album. Cover art = great; the music, not so much! Which makes me rather upset because Infinite Arms is probably one of my favourite albums ever, right next to Funeral.

On another note, I've started to read On The Road by Jack Kerouac. 
So, for old time's sake...

Friday, August 24, 2012


Dang, this mix is slick. This is my second time listening to it and it is still groovy.

Speaking of slick and groovy, I just finished the first 2 seasons of The Mentalist and Simon Baker knows how to work a crowd. And Patrick Jane is definitely the modern Sherlock. Got lots of new mind games up my sleeve. I'll use them carefully...

Holding on to Black Metal by My Morning Jacket,  Everything Moves by Bronze Radio Return, When They Fight, They Fight by the Generationals and Everyone Knows by Vacation are the highlights of the mix.

Well, school starts again soon. You know what this means. Less posts. But, I will be seizing Cloud Atlas ASAP from the library so quotes will be up for that too.

By the way, I read quite recently We The Living by Ayn Rand, so I've completed all her fiction works. Did not really enjoy it... Atlas Shrugged was better written. By far.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rage, rage

Do not go gentle into that good night
by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right, 
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright 
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight 
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Read this poem and was struck with an instant connection. Love it. I choose to read it with the interpretation that one mustn't give in gently to death, but instead rage against the 'dying of the light,' and fight for life.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Broship of the Ring

This is not something I'd normally post, but after hours spent meditating to the LOTR soundtrack, re-watching (and sobbing at) clips, and today reading the appendixes of the novel, I've decided to go check out some LOTR tumblrs and this meme is hilarious. Love the Mean Girls reference. Love how Legolas says it. Cannot wait for The Hobbit (and yes I've watched all the production videos for that, too). Might write a little Samwise Gamgee Appreciation Post soon. Wanted to wait until April 6th (his birthday) to do that but I'm really itching to! Until then, all.

I value vision, and dread being struck stone blind

Hello all - I return with... quotes from Villette!
loved this book. More evidence to add to the pile of reasons why Charlotte is definitely my favourite Bronte. Jane Eyre, from my perspective, was undoubtedly better constructed (in terms of plot) and exposed in comparison to Wuthering Heights, but Villette is another story entirely. It is not always a 'happy' book - then again, neither is Wuthering Heights - and perhaps Lucy Snowe is not as strong of a feminist as Jane Eyre was - but Charlotte Bronte has turned Lucy Snowe's sorrows and jealousy into melancholic self-reflection, a search for independence, the truth about her own faith, and happiness. Instead of a rage of tantrums and vengeance (cough Wuthering Heights cough).

So, I've aimed to be more concise with the quote selection this time. Here they are -

This first one introduces what Lucy was already struggling - her fantasies and solid ground on reality. She was one to be always wearing a grey, plain dress - and one that would prefer and insist it so be so.
I seemed to hold two lives—the life of thought, and that of reality; and, provided the former was nourished with a sufficiency of the strange necromantic joys of fancy, the privileges of the latter might remainlimited to daily bread, hourly work, and a roof of shelter.
And whenever she would enter the 'life of thought,' as shown in the quote below - her daydream -

In my reverie, methought I saw the continent of Europe, like a wide dream-land, far away. Sunshine lay on it, making the long coast one line of gold; tiniest tracery of clustered town and snow-gleaming tower, of woods deep massed, of heights serrated, of smooth pasturage and veiny stream, embossedthe metal-bright prospect. For background, spread a sky, solemn and dark blue, and grand with imperial promise, soft with tints of enchantment—strode from north to south a God-bent bow, an arch of hope.
to the surprise of the reader, she would throw a knife in the middle of a growing, lovely passage and delete her musings -
Cancel the whole of that, if you please, reader—or rather let itstand, and draw thence a moral—an alliterative, text-hand copy—
and instead revert back to reality and holding firm that -
Day-dreams are delusions of the demon.
This quote below truly relates! An innocent, honest way of admitting that everyone has preferences, unfair they may be.
Our natures own predilections and antipathies alike strange. There are people from whom we secretly shrink, whom we would personally avoid, though reason confessesthat they are good people: there are others with faults of temper, etc., evident enough, beside whom we live content, as if the air about them did us good.
More to add to the statement above is the quote below:
It is not every friend whose eye is a light in a sickroom, whose presence is there a solace.
This is what I meant with her struggle with faith, yet perseverance -
I believe in some blending of hope and sunshine sweetening the worst lots. I believe that this life is not all; neither the beginning nor the end. I believe while I tremble; I trust while I weep.
Bronte does this a lot - she personifies certain nouns, like Liberty, Hope, and Memory, and there are several (verbose) passages in which these personified nouns truly become human-like, evidence of her daydreaming, and are described in a spell-bounding fashion, but I'll leave that for you readers to discover on your own. Below, however, is a brief example.
Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars--a cage, so peril, loneliness, an uncertain future, are not oppressive evils, so long as the frame is healthy and the faculties are employed; so long, especially, as Liberty lends us her wings, and Hope guides us by her star.
Short quote - considered excluding it - but it does say something on self pity, and recognition of remorse and sadness.  And forcing herself to do so, in my opinion, is considered maybe even immature, or self pity to the extent where she wishes to wallow in it. Both quotes below relate to this behavior.
To livehere, in this close room, the watcher of suffering . . . I forced myself to realise evils, I think I was too prosaic to idealise, and consequently to exaggerate them.
There is a perverse mood of the mind which is rather soothed than irritated by misconstruction; and in quarters where we can never be rightly known, we take pleasure, I think, in being consummately ignored.
Just a cool quote:
His veins were dark with a livid belladonna tincture, theessence of jealousy. I do not mean merely the tender jealousy of theheart, but that sterner, narrower sentiment whose seat is in the head.
This is something I used to think about, and still agree with - false flowers are as bland as mannequins and the ones plucked were given only a moment to live, away from their home, and not by choice. It is sad.
I like to see flowers growing, but when they are gathered, they cease to please. I look on them as things rootless and perishable; their likeness to life makes me sad. I never offer flowersto those I love; I never wish to receive them from hands dear to me.
Love this -
Time, like distance, leds to certainscenes an influence so softening; and where all is stone around, blank wall and hot pavement, how precious seems one shrub, how lovely an enclosed and planted spot of ground!
And my absolute favourite, so descriptive, memorable and fitting, here it is:
No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness. What does such advice mean? Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure. Happiness is a glory shining far down upon us out of Heaven. She is a divine dew which the soul, on certain of its summer mornings, feels dropping upon it from the amaranth bloom and golden fruitage of Paradise.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A dream inside a dream might not be a dream.

Last.... batch of quotes from the Border Trilogy. I really must be more concise with these next time... but these were truly lovely. Could not leave them.

The man smiled at him a sly smile. As if they knew a secret between them, these two. Something of age and youth and their claims and the justice of those claims. And of their claims upon them. The world past, the world to come. Their common transciencies. Above all a knowing deep in the bone that beauty and loss are one.
His hands clasped behind him at the small of his back in a stance he had perhaps admired or read of but a stance native to some other country, not his.
“When you’re a kid you have these notions about how things are goin to be, Billy said. You get a little older and you pull back some on that. I think you just wind up tryin to minimize the pain. Anyway this country aint the same. Nor anything in it. The war changed everthing. I dont think people even know it yet.”
"Your friend is in the grip of an irrational passion. Nothing you say to him will matter. He has in his head a certain story. Of how things will be. In this story he will be happy. What is wrong with this story? 
What is wrong with this story is that it is not a true story. Men have in their minds a picture of how the world will be. How they will be in that world. The world may be many different ways for them but there is one world that will never be and that is the world they dream of. Do you believe that? “Maybe. Anyway, some men get what they want. No man. Or perhaps only briefly so as to lose it. Or perhaps only to prove to the dreamer that the world of his longing made real is no longer that world at all. ”
periodic click like a misset metronome, a clock, a protent. a meaure of something periodic and otherwise silent and vastly patient which only darkness could accommadate.
“The dead boy in his arms hung with his head back and those partly opened eyes beheld nothing at all out of that passing landscape of street or wall or paling sky or the figures of the children who stood blessing themselves in the gray light. This man and his burden passed on forever out of that nameless crossroads and the women stepped once more into the street and the children followed and all continued on to their appointed places which as some believe were chosen long ago even to the beginning of the world.”
He said that perhaps death took a larger view. That perhaps in his egalitarian way death weighed the gifts of men by their own lights and that in death's eyes the offerings of the poor were the equal of any. Like God.
Where do we go when we die? he said. I dont know, the man said. Where are we now?
In the middle of my life, he said, I drew the path of it upon a map and I studied it a long time. I tried to see the pattern that it made upon the earth because I thought that if I could see that pattern and identify the form of it then I would know better how to continue. I would know what my path must be. I would see into the future of my life. How did that work out? Different from what I expected. It was interesting. It looked like different things.
"When you look at the world is there a point in time when the seen becomes the remembered?"
“I know it. There's hard lessons in this world. What's the hardest? I dont know. Maybe it's just that when things are gone they're gone. They aint comin back. Yessir.”
“If we do not know ourselves in the waking world, what chance in dreams?”
He said that the light of the world was in men’s eyes only for the world itself moved in eternal darkness and darkness was its true nature and true condition and that in this darkness it turned with perfect cohesion in all its parts but that there was naught there to see. He said that the world was sentient to its core and secret and black beyond men’s imagining and that its nature did not reside in what could be seen or not seen. He said that he could stare down the sun and what use was that?