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Found 7 results

  1. I'd love to say "Old / New" (2015) is "Patton Oswalt at his best," but it's really Patton Oswalt at his most typical: A medium talent, trying to be historically great, but settling into his usual, mildly amusing self.
  2. Speaking of advances in carbon and plastics in sports ... Why all this fire-and-brimstone crap? Why not high-speed drill technology, or Goldfinger's laser? Or The Agony Booth - wouldn't it be sufficient to stick someone in there and just leave them for all eternity? Do we still have nerves that cause pain after we die? That's sort of weird. Does an exact copy of our body magically appear somewhere deep beneath the Earth's surface? I mean, this makes for a good horror tale, but I'm not quite sure I buy it. James Joyce does a fine job at scaring the shit out of people: "Now let us try for a moment to realize, as far as we can, the nature of that abode of the damned which the justice of an offended God has called into existence for the eternal punishment of sinners. Hell is a strait and dark and foul-smelling prison, an abode of demons and lost souls, filled with fire and smoke. The straitness of this prison house is expressly designed by God to punish those who refused to be bound by His laws. In earthly prisons the poor captive has at least some liberty of movement, were it only within the four walls of his cell or in the gloomy yard of his prison. Not so in hell. There, by reason of the great number of the damned, the prisoners are heaped together in their awful prison, the walls of which are said to be four thousand miles thick: and the damned are so utterly bound and helpless that, as a blessed saint, saint Anselm, writes in his book on similitudes, they are not even able to remove from the eye a worm that gnaws it." Seriously, what the hell have I done to deserve *this*? If God came floating through my door *right now*, I'd abandon all my worldly possessions, give him a blowjob, and essentially do whatever the hell he wanted me to do, no matter what it was (with my luck, it would turn out to be some horny space alien, masquerading as God) - but nobody other than my fellow human beings has ever given me orders about how I'm supposed to live my life! Kind of unfair to humanity, to have terrified them for so many millenia, don't you think? I mean, living for merely 80 years in an infinity of time is bad enough on its own (and if anyone believes "the universe is 15-billion years old," they're wrong). This "universe" is nothing more than a blip, and just because our puny brains don't understand infinity, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Is "time" ever going to end? Did it have a beginning? I don't think so. The "Big Bang" might have been "an event," but it was one of an infinite number of events. No, I can't prove it, but that makes about as much sense as rotting in hell (actually, if you "rot" in hell, then it wouldn't be eternal, would it?) If you think about it, "eternity" is another word for "infinity," and that surely stretches backwards as well as forwards (and probably sideways, and through other dimensions) - why wouldn't it? That kind of puts the kibosh on the seven-day theory, don't you think? --- On a related note, I like "The Little Bird of Svithjod" as a visualization technique for "eternity": High up in the north, in the land called Svithjod, there stands a rock. It is a hundred miles high and a hundred miles wide. Once every thousand years a little bird comes to this rock to sharpen its beak. When the rock has thus been worn away, then a single day of eternity will have gone by. From The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem Van Loon [The link just above calculates "one day in eternity" as 4.2 octillion years, FWIW. That number can be written as follows: 4,200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000] --- I wonder what Zeus has to say about all of this. "Fucking pecker, coming along and trying to usurp me!" It's like what James Hunt must have thought about Niki Lauda.
  3. I just finished reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I am glad I read it. It is like nothing I have read before, including other works by him. It is challenging, but worth the effort. The 1,079 page story takes place in the future, at a junior tennis academy and a nearby substance-abuse recovery facility. It is brash, brilliant, funny (most of the novel takes place in the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment), thought-provoking and tragic. Ninety-six pages are devoted to footnotes, located in the back of the book. These need to be read along with the text, as much of the story is told there. (A dear friend gave me book clips to mark my place in the footnotes, and they proved to be invaluable. I recommend them to anyone who reads a printed copy of this book!) Has anyone else read this book? Did you love it? Hate it? Put it down after about 600 pages? I would love to hear your thoughts. I am sure there is much I missed. After I finished the novel, for example, I went back and read the first chapter again. There were several hints in that chapter about what happened to the main characters after the novel ended. How do you think it compares to other works by David Foster Wallace?
  4. It's a sobering thought, realizing that 15+ billion years went by without you being alive, and who-knows-how-many billions of years will pass after you're no longer alive. Talk about a blip in time! Being non-existent doesn't bother me; dying to me don't sound like all that much fun, Don Cougar PS - If you want to die early, fixate on visualizing the beginning of time, or the end of space. Like a cat trying to understand calculus. Moral of the story: Treat yo'self.
  5. Most people reading this have made some sort of comment, statement, or joke about "The Zombie Apocalypse" in the past few years - if you haven't, then you've probably heard or read it, spoken or written by someone you know. Either way, you didn't give it a second thought, or at most, you thought to yourself, 'Meh, dead metaphor.' (Yes, pun intended - sorry!) But suppose the zombie apocalypse actually happened? Suppose that every single person you knew most likely had a friend or relative that was killed and devoured by flesh-eating zombies. Would it still be okay to joke about "The Zombie Apocalypse?" Of course it wouldn't - it would be like joking about the Bubonic Plague while it was going on, and people were dying all around you. At some earlier point, you considered it a benign subject, and okay to joke about. Then, when social pressure against you began, maybe you even learned to hate anything associated with it, because your entire thought process was in danger of permanently being infringed upon - that's Point A. But then, at some point, it became readily apparent that this was no laughing matter, it wasn't going away, and you no longer considered it okay to joke about - that's Point B. The bad news: It takes certain people longer to get from Point A to Point B than other people - sometimes a lot longer: years or decades longer. The good news: Once you're at Point B, you almost never return to Point A.
  6. My mother is really ill and seems to just be 'floating'. To explain: She had some abdominal issues that got out of hand, resulting in sepsis and surgery. In the month since surgery, she hasn't eaten. She originally went to a rehabilitation center after surgery, but with no eating, there's no energy available to spend on rehabbing. Her mind is pretty sharp most days while her body has withered. She's back to the hospital now and getting IV nutrition and undergoing tests everyday... It has me questioning - what is life? Where's the line between life and...not life? I visit and talk to her...and the doctors are searching for a solution. It just feels like a cycle that we can't figure out how to break. A bit of eaten food would maybe give her a bit of energy, which would give her some ability to rehab a little bit, even if just lifting her legs. In turn, that might stimulate some more hunger and the cycle would improve every day. It's like we're stuck on the shoulder of freeway, watching all the other cars wiz by when all we need is a spark to turn the engine the first time. At what point does a person decide that they're on the exit ramp, not the shoulder? I'm not the hard core foodie some of you are and I've never wanted a person to eat - just a bite or two - like this before. This life in limbo, represented by the lack of eating, seems awful. You all seem to have every food answer. I could use one now!
  7. Stefan Zweig would be on my short-short list of "Greatest Writers Ever." The two novellas I have read by him, "The Royal Game" (1941, "Schachnovelle" in German) and "Amok" (1922, Der Amokläufe in German), are as good as any short stories I've ever read, and if someone held a gun to my head, and forced me to pick the single greatest short story I've ever read, it would be "The Royal Game" (and, quite frankly, I don't have any idea what the runner-up would be). It is, in my eyes, an almost-perfect novella, especially its structure in A-B-AB form - it's like reading a Beethoven Sonata. To put the admittedly hyperbolic statements above in perspective, Fyodor Dostoyevsky would also be on that list, which you could count with the fingers of one hand. Structure and architecture are two extremely important things to me, and Zweig's structure cannot be improved upon - it's like reading a Bach Fugue. There's one potentially ruinous thing about "The Royal Game," and that is the translation. Zweig was personal friends with Sigmund Freud, and human psychology is an integral part of his writing - for this reason alone, it is imperative to find a well-translated version of his works. The book that DIShGo read (which I own, "The Royal Game & Other Stories") is translated in the fashion of "stuffy British English," and I cannot even find the name of the translator, though I've only spent about fifteen minutes looking online. The first time I read "The Royal Game" was nearly twenty years ago, and it was the subject being discussed in a book that was called something like, "What Is Art?" I lent it to a friend, and never got it back. , so I remember neither the exact name of the book, nor the name of the translator, but *that* version was what reeled me in like a fish; this four-story anthology is a crime against humanity for what it did to Zweig's masterpiece. Oh, the story is still there, and you'll see how wonderful it is, but that extra 10% of magic is gone due to the formality of the language used - Zweig desperately needs to be translated in an almost conversational style since his works deal with such intense human emotion; the compendium available on Amazon makes you feel like you're reading a news article instead of reading Zweig's own words. I feel helpless, not being able to recommend a good translation to you, because it is absolutely imperative. Anyway, I leafed through this translation (the compendium on Amazon), and was aghast at the writing style. Phrases and words that you'll simply never hear spoken in your entire life are used with regularity, and it actually made me *sad* that people are reading this, thinking they're reading Zweig. Regardless, I decided to bite my lip, and read the second story in the compendium, "Amok," and even with this stiff language, it is abundantly clear that I was reading a masterpiece - a work that could have only been written by an author so profound that even a stuffy translator couldn't ruin it. "Amok" was an unbelievably great novella, the kind of story that you *hate* putting down because you have to be somewhere - it's only forty pages long, so can be easily read - savored - in a couple hours of focused attention. I will not ruin the story for you, at least not in this post, but perhaps if anyone wishes to discuss it, I'll include a prominent *** SPOILERS *** section so as not to ruin it for the uninitiated - but not yet. "Amok' was a story so engaging that I might come out and say it's the second-greatest novella I've ever read; yet, according to DIShGo, it may not even be the second-best novella in this one compendium! There is very little chance at this point of me finding out the name of the original book I had, much less the translator, but I can say with confidence to avoid this edition on Amazon. "The Royal Game" is clearly divided into three sections, and was labeled as such; *this* compendium doesn't even have the decency to label the "sections" 1, 2, and 3 - it just crams everything together. Never have I read a story that is so clearly demarcated - a child could have put in the section numbers without even knowing anything about the novella. "The Royal Game" was published just before Zweig committed suicide. I wonder if he knew, deep down inside, that he had produced a work of such profundity that it could never again be matched. Almost surely not - Zweig had some personal problems, but they came out in full Technicolor in his writing - writing that can only be described with one word in the English language: genius. Never have I raved about an author like this, and once you read Zweig's works, you'll understand why. You'll *hate* it when they end. I must add that I have read precisely two novellas by Zweig, hardly making me an expert, so this essay must be tempered with the appropriate grain of salt. That said, I'm so confident in this man's genius, that I could commit to reading *only him* for the rest of my life, and if the body of work was large enough, it would be a life well-spent. --- This is important, so keep reading! PS - There is hope! My friend answered my desperate text message with a response - the book is called "Understanding the Arts," (*) and it was written by John Hospers. I don't understand how book sellers can sell books on Amazon for one cent, but it seems to be available in some fashion on Amazon.com (can anyone explain this to me? They charge $3.99 for shipping, but that hardly makes them any money). Anyway, my friend couldn't find the translator, but he told me to research "the 1972 Viking Penguin reprint," because that's the one they use in this book. I asked him to type out the first sentence of the translation, and it is this: "The big liner, due to sail from New York to Buenos Aires at midnight, was filled with the activity and bustle incident to the last hour...." - that is the edition that you want. Interestingly, my friend and I are also chatting, and he said the only reason he found the book was because he's insisting that his friend read "Schachnovelle," adding, "It is the greatest short story I know," and this guy is a hyper-genius. Get this edition and read it! (*) OMFG - the entire edition is online! It's not the most enjoyable way to read a book, but you can at least *read the book* if you don't mind scrolling through the pages (I personally *hate* doing this - it's like listening to a great piece of music through a pair of earbuds, and in my opinion, ruins the experience).
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