Remember All Your Base Are Belong to Us?
It was the basis of my subject heading when I alerted the staff to a new database document. I turned it into “All Your Database Are Belong to Us.” On both ethical and biological grounds, it is impossible for me to write a document that doesn’t have an element of humor (or attempted humor, at least). My body is hard-wired for puns. Ya know how, when you drink too much, you lose your inhibitions and your real self comes out? When I drink too much, the puns come out. When you consider how much I pun while sober, it is a frightening prospect.
I’ve worked on databases a lot this month. It’s time to decide which subscriptions we’re going to maintain, which we’re going to add, and—here’s the bloodthirsty part—which we’re going to drop. Personally, I’d like to send LitFinder to the gallows. LitFinder is great in theory: it has the fulltext of poems and short stories and other short bits of literature. Problem is, I can never find what I’m looking for on it. F’example, a lady this week was trying to find the text of a Langston Hughes poem. She knew the first two lines. With that info, it took me somewhat less than a second to find the full text and title with google. But just for kicks I tried the same test with LitFinder and got nothing.
At a staff meeting later this week, Persepolis is going to try to defend the honor of LitFinder. I’m arguing for the death penalty. Alternately, we could skip the court trial and fight it out, woman to woman, in a duel. Let God pick the victor.
Speaking of God and Persepolis, we discussed Mark Salzman’s Lying Awake at our staff book club today. Persepolis led the discussion and fed us this divine spinach artichoke cheese stuff.
I was extraordinarily impressed with Salzman’s writing style. The man does lovely, terse, atmosphere-building things with words. He reminded me of Jean Rhys, the best underappreciated author of the twentieth century. Rhys has the same gift with language. The sentences seem simple and straightforward, but by the time you’ve read a few chapters you realize you’re in over your head. The thing to remember with Rhys is that she writes dark, bleak, oppressive fiction. Her writing will suck you in, but it’s not always a safe place to go. Only attempt Rhys if you have a loving, supportive family.
So. Salzman is reminiscent of Rhys. That’s about the highest compliment I can give anyone.
Lying Awake is Literary Fiction. LiFi is a genre characterized by A) pretentious prose, B) no plot, and C) my aversion to it. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: Literary Fiction suffers from a disheartening lack of vampires, aliens, ticking bombs, and murders that happened in locked rooms. Sure, you can write fiction without those things, but… but why? Life’s too short.
That I liked Lying Awake at all says quite a lot for it.
Lying Awake raises questions about faith, inspiration, and religion. It also raised a fine book discussion this afternoon. I bit my tongue a lot of times. I disagreed with, oh, nearly everything Bookish Jet said, but I know she and I will be able to discuss things at great length over dinner, so I tabled most of that for later. Also, I didn’t want to hog the discussion. I dominate conversations if I don’t check myself. Happened all the time in college, but I’m not apologizing. I only hogged the conversation when no one else had read the book.
The only thing I’ll say here regarding today’s discussion is that God can be neither proved nor disproved, not by human means. I suppose if I were to witness a bona fide miracle I’d have proof, but it would have to be something supernatural. The miracles of thunderstorms and birth, for instance, have natural causes, i.e. storm clouds and whoops-I-forgot-the-condom-baby-but-don’t-worry-I-can-handle-it.
But though we can’t prove God in a laboratory, we can’t disprove her, either. (Or him. Or His Noodly Appendage. Whatever floats your boat.) That’s why I’m skeptical of people who claim to know that God does or does not exist. Believe whatever you want, but you can’t prove it either way.
Though I have mixed feelings about Lying Awake (would it have killed him to throw in a werewolf? Just one?), it was a fabulous discussion with other members of the intelligentsia. That’s my idea of a social interaction. In a perfect world there would have been wine, and consequently more puns, but otherwise it was brilliant.
As I was driving home, I had NPR playing. It’s been my source of news this week. Normally I get my news through Bloglines, but for the past week I haven’t even checked it. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the information out there, so I ignore the news and hide with my books in the evening. If something very important happens, I figure other people will tell me.
Aside: Indeed, Bookish Jet told me about Falwell’s death. It is tactless, undignified, and unworthy to rejoice over anyone’s death, so I’m not gonna. Let me just say that I’m glad his particular brand of poison will no longer be coming from him.
Poison, you say? Here’s my favorite Falwell quote, from September 13, 2001: “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’”
Like I was saying, I was listening to NPR on the drive home, but instead of news it was playing classical. Usually this makes me happy, because I get to play Name That Tune. First I try to guess the era (Pre-Baroque, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern), then the composer, and then the piece. Guessing the piece is not always as hard as it sounds. Unless the composer gets creative (“Pines of the Apian Way” or “Entry March of the Boyars,”) it’s likely to be “Sonata in A-flat” or “Adagio” or “Second Movement.”
I didn’t feel like playing, though, because the tune was this prissy piano thingy and I just wasn’t in the mood for it. Fortunately there’s a new classical station out of Wilhelmsplatz, so I flipped over to it.
It was playing a prissy piano thingy.
I flipped back. Prissy piano.
Flipped back again. Prissy piano… good grief, was it the same piece?
Flip. Same meter.
Flip. Same key.
Flip. Same rhythm.
Flip. Same damn tune. Of all the classical music ever composed in the Western ever-lovin’ hemisphere, my two stations have to pick the same one to play at the same time. Beethoven’s Piano Sonata number 25, it was. (I had guessed Schubert.) It’s prissy.
Got home and changed shoes. I had been wearing the sexiest pair of heels ever. “Fuck Me” heels, they’re sometimes called, though I assure you, the vernacular is misleading. Got several compliments on them today, including some from patrons. I made myself proud by not twisting my ankle, not once. Also managed to negotiate the gas pedal, the brake, and the clutch. I do object to high heels for practical reasons (they’re hell on the back) and feminist reasons (patriarchy blows), but gosh, they’re gorgeous.
Had to change shoes for my walk over to the thrift store. The recent hot weather has made me realize that I don’t own any clothes. Sure, I have two closets full, but none of them fit right a
nd they’re all ugly and I hate them.
Wound up with three shirts, a skirt that doesn’t quite fit but if I eat salads for a week it will, and a ceramic chicken for mom. (Mom, pretend you didn’t just read that.)
Then—here is the most exciting part of my day—on the walk back, I saw a brown furry animal on the other side of the guard rail.
“Beaver!” I said. It looked at me.
“Um… Groundhoggy?” It disappeared under some weeds.
Thrilling, isn’t it? I saw a wild animal! In the wild! I am a regular Crocodile Hunter!