Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dante can go to Hell...oh wait, he already did!

Time for a personal post!

That's right, dear followers (of whom there aren't many...), I am updating. Mainly to avoid some of the mountain of homework that I really must complete sometime in the near future. The weather is absolutely beautiful outside, but I'm inside sitting at my desk. At least my window is open.

As for the title of this post, I want to explain that I have nothing against Dante Alighieri, nor against his Divine Comedy. It just seemed an appropriate title because I'm taking a class on the book; thus, a research paper is in the making (writing?), per the professor's requirements. Also, remembering the circles of Hell that Dante the Pilgrim sees in the Inferno is....hell.

Sorry, that's a rather hellish pun.

So was that.

And for proof that I truly am a literature nerd, this is what I'm currently reading as my not-schoolwork-book: The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl. Literary murder mystery, starring Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, and other major figures of literary fame. Did you know Longfellow was the first American to translate The Divine Comedy? I want a copy of his translation now. It's probably epic.

Before picking up this glorious novel by Matthew Pearl, I did not know much of the poetry of James Russell Lowell. Actually, I only really knew the poetry and writings of Longfellow. So, I decided to look up some writings by the other guys. I shall leave you with this poem, even though it is not yet April:


by: James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)

      AY is a pious fraud of the almanac.
      A ghastly parody of real Spring
      Shaped out of snow and breathed with eastern wind;
      Or if, o'er-confident, she trust the date,
      And, with her handful of anemones,
      Herself as shivery, steal into the sun,
      The season need but turn his hour-glass round,
      And Winter suddenly, like crazy Lear,
      Reels back, and brings the dead May in his arms,
      Her budding breasts and wan dislustred front
      With frosty streaks and drifts of his white beard
      All overblown. Then, warmly walled with books,
      While my wood-fire supplies the sun's defect,
      Whispering old forest-sagas in its dreams,
      I take my May down from the happy shelf
      Where perch the world's rare song-birds in a row,
      Waiting my choice to upen with full breast,
      And beg an alms of springtime, ne'er denied
      Indoors by vernal Chaucer, whose fresh woods
      Throb thick with merle and mavis all the years.

"May is a Pious Fraud" is reprinted from Under the Willows and Other Poems. James Russell Lowell. Boston: Fields Osgood & Co., 1869.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

If you love classic literature and aren't afraid to make fun of it, and love traditional zombie mayhem, then Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (and Jane Austen of course!) is for you! There's also Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters (and Ms. Austen), which I own but haven't had time to read yet.

Now, there's a sequel (more like a prequel) to P&P&Z. The title is Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith (and Jane Austen). Here's the book trailer for it. Would make an epic movie, too.

Speaking of movies, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies is being made into one, starring Natalie Portman as Elizabeth Bennet.

All books mentioned in this post are published by Quirk Books.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea." ~Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady.

Hot beverages have always been my favorite. Could be why I enjoy wintertime so much; it is supremely satisfying to sip a steaming mug of coffee, cider, chocolate, or tea. There are other hot beverages, of course. But tea...oh the beauty of tea. The silkiness of taste, the calm which pervades my cold body when I take a sip. And nothing goes better together than tea and books! There never was a more happy couple. Except, perhaps, coffee and books. I'm not sure which is better.

As for tea, I don't think there has been a tea I've tried that I haven't liked. Peppermint is usually my favorite, especially around Christmastime. I also love lemon flavored tea. Earl Grey is a must. Even Chai tea is amazing when combined with the right amount of milk.

...and many more. Hop on over to Google and type in tea and see what you can find!

Actually, George Orwell, author of the dystopian novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, wrote what I might call a short treatise on tea. You can find it here.

I'd go to New York City simply to go to Alice's Tea Cup. What an exquisite little shop! I want this, by the way. Donations, anyone??? :-P

A plethora of books have been written on the subject of tea, which seems appropriate, since I've already stated that books and tea are rather inseparable. Try

One of these days I shall make this Teapot Cake:

"Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. And whoever this "Earl Grey" fellow is, I'd like to have a word with him... "
~Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek, The Next Generation.

"The mug from the washstand was used as Becky's tea cup, and the tea was so delicious that it was not necessary to pretend that it was anything but tea." ~Frances Hodgson Burnett, "A Little Princess".

One last website, if you haven't seen enough of tea already! Tea Land

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Where hath old man winter gone?

The winter days are cold and often grey, but I must confess that I much prefer them to the incessant muddiness which characterizes the Wisconsin springtime. I'm told I must be crazy, to enjoy the snow as much as I do. They may be correct; the snow and I, it is a long-standing affair. I realize that the warmer temperatures are coveted after months of frozen days and nights, but if we could do without the mud and the ugly brown, I probably would not mind the arrival of spring so much.

Old man winter has disappeared for the year, I will assume. There will possibly be a few last snow showers before spring claims its final foothold, and I guess I can enjoy those for what they're worth. And when the grass turns green and the flowers "spring" forth in their joyous colors, I will welcome it with open arms.

Old man winter merely sleeps. I await his return while the world turns to warmer days.