Print Story 2007.05.10: A Chick^W Cylon in every pot ...
By BlueOregon (Thu May 10, 2007 at 05:45:36 PM EST) (all tags)

Food links of the day: Box Wines, New York Cheesecakes and a video on how to make cheesecake. Speaking of things you put in your mouth, a new study links oral sex to throat cancer: “A virus contracted through oral sex is the cause of some throat cancers, say US scientists.”

Inside: GPotD and last night. And a poll.


“Die Sonne”

Täglich kommt die gelbe Sonne über den Hügel.
Schön ist der Wald, das dunkle Tier,
Der Mensch; Jäger oder Hirt.

Rötlich steigt im grünen Weiher der Fisch.
Unter dem runden Himmel
Fährt der Fischer leise im blauen Kahn.

Langsam reift die Traube, das Korn.
Wenn sich stille der Tag neigt,
Ist ein Gutes und Böses bereitet.

Wenn es Nacht wird,
Hebt der Wanderer leise die schweren Lider;
Sonne aus finsterer Schlucht bricht.

—By Georg Trakl


Wednesday performances are a chance for redemption after low-energy Tuesday outings, but it took two acts last night before that higher level of enthusiasm was reached, and for a while I felt my colleagues were just coasting, just getting by, perhaps tired, but still curiously unwilling to go out with a bang.

And then we all woke up.

Our sound cues were great; one of my lighting cues was a bit early/abrubt, but still good, I felt. A couple colleagues arrived from out of town. We broke the set afterward, and I rushed off to the bus so I could get home and prepare for guests.

Wine and food were consumed, music was enjoyed and at times mocked, and somehow we covered books and more academic subjects. Eventually my guests left—some went to a nearby bar for more booze, others just went home—, I cleaned up, and after a while I crawled into bed, exhausted.

In the amusing connections department, we have D and T, who both played police officers in the performance (T in the fourth act; earlier he had another role). I met D's (German) girlfriend and have since forgotten her name; D is a bit taller than I am, perhaps, and what's-her-name was a reasonable 5'10" or so. But T is seeing E, who is, let's say, 5'11" to what's-her-name's 5'10" (so, a bit taller than T), but then it made sense, since it turns out that E is D's sister.

After everyone arrived and conversation got underway, the most important points were wine, books, and cheesecake.

Wine: I introduced folks to the cheap wonders of Giant 47 Pound Rooster—the zin, that is. At $5.99 a bottle—buy an ad, BlueOregon!—you can't go wrong, and it breathes quite nicely. Give it thirty minutes. On the cheap front I had $2.50/bottle Tisdale shiraz—drinkable, but not likely something I'll buy much more of in the future.

No Two Buck Chuck, though.

T & D showed up, girlfriends in tow, and brought a couple extra bottles with them. D provided a J.W. Morris riesling that I never got around to; it was on the other side of the room most of the night. T brought a bottle of Conquista malbec. It held up well. A couple days ago I got a bottle of Trapiche malbec (both malbecs are from Argentina)—and it went over quite well. Very very dark red, both of them ... and quite tasty.

Books: It's simple, boring yet necessary iteration when I read a book that I like and pass it on to somebody else. And they pass it on. Word of mouth. One at a time. But it's slow growth, slow growing and slow going. So I prefer the exponential route, and all it requires me and others to do is to pass a good book on not to one but to, say, two people, and get them to do the same.

I'm beyond that now with House of Leaves, which I showed to a couple more people last night, T and E; while T was fascinated by it E actually excused herself from conversation to look at it for ten minutes.

One of the problems, perhaps, of being in my field is that it is not full of lots of genre fiction fans, sci-fi and fantasy in particular. I'm no longer particularly interested in epic and high fantasy, no matter how much friends from the LUG try to get me to read George R.R. Martin or Dennis McKiernan, etc., but I haven't abandoned the broader genre. E spoke up as someone who doesn't like sci-fi but liked Ender's Game after D found P. Pullman's His Dark Materials on one of my shelves and tried to get others to hear him out about them.

I was led to making the claim that what one should do is read Starship Troopers, Forever War, and Ender's Game together. All but the first spawned their own sequels, as all are aware, and so I'm not arguing that one should read any as sequels or prequels to the others in this brief list, but rather that although their actual points of focus vary, they all use rather similar (if perhaps superficial) sci-fi conventions.

There was a seminar this semester co/team-taught with the history department called War and Peace—I don't think the novel was part of the syllabus—and while they had their Kant and Clausewitz and and Ernst Bloch, any of those novels mentioned would have been a good addition. But that's just me.

In terms of my book reader propagation project (pass something on to at least two people), I eventually felt the need to pull both Arturo Perez Reverte's The Club Dumas off the shelf and, later, Beagle's The Last Unicorn. I've been meaning to re-read it (or is that re-re-read it? Etc.) for quite a while, but there are still so many other things in my TBR pile.

Cheesecake: The important thing about cheesecake is that it's not cake. It's a custard pie. Yesterday I mentioned making one. The one I made a while back was dense and rich ... and deep. Four packs of cream cheese. This one had only two packs (16oz.) as well as a cup of sour cream, about 4/5 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Add two eggs and two yolks, and about a tablespoon of vanilla. The key is low heat (250F, about 120C) and a water bath to ensure even heat(ing). Mine had no cracks. It was soft enough that after slicing it (16 slices—I thought of making only 12, but it is rich, after all) I kept it firm by way of frequent trips to the freezer over the course of the evening.

The important point is that it not only went over very well, but also that it was greeted with incredulous stares and the question, “You made this?” Followed by requests for seconds.

I like posting poems that I like and translations I can respect.

I do like this poem, but I can't say the same of the translation, which resembles a poem only insofar as it is split into four stanzas of three verses each.

The translators have put a copy of their translations online in a .doc file; either incompetence or completely bizarre notions of translation led them to post the first verse of the fourth stanza as “When the; night has come,” and I can only hope it is the former, for a semi-colon makes no sense there. I removed it. But perhaps Wright and Bly meant for it to be there, ruining the poem.

While I admit that some syntactic inversion is probably necessary to render Trakl's German into acceptable English, the semantic and syntactic additions made by the translators have no motivation. In the first stanza they add “also,” several times but such a word is nowhere to be found in the original. “Also” links elements in a list in a particular order; Trakl's version is better rendered as “Beautiful is the forest, the dark animal / The man; hunter or herder.”

“Der Mensch” is problematic—it is not “the man.” It is either “the person/human” or it is “man” in general, yet Wright and Bly have turned it into a specific instance, a particular man. Trakl's lack of “also” or “and” lends a certain ambiguity, a possibility of filling in blanks and reading the verses a couple of different ways. Is “(the) man” of the third verse a continuation of the second verse? In Wright and Bly's translation that is clearly the case. Grammatically the forest, animal, and (hu)man are not linked, for the verb is in the singular, and the sentence does not read that the forest, the dark animal, and the man are beautiful. By reading “Der Mensch” and the third verse as separate, it is also possible to read the second verse as a short predication followed by an appositive: the forest—a.k.a. the dark animal—is beautiful.

There was no need for “Each day,” for “Daily“ would have worked and is a literal translation of “Täglich.” And why did they translate “Hirt” as “farmer“? “Hirt” is clearly, both etymologically and in current usage, “herder,” and the “herder” also indicates that the opposition to “hunter” is not that of the wanderer (hunter) to the landed (farmer) but between two approaches to dealing with the animals (of the forest). Farming and agriculture come forth only in the third stanza and should not make a surprise and early appearance here in the first.

In fact what we have through the first three stanzas, each of three verses, is a comment about the day, a comment about the natural world, and a comment about man(kind) and (especially in the first two) man's relationship to nature as represented in that stanza.

I'll skip the second stanza for now and leave the last as well, and now just turn briefly to the butchered third. Wright and Bly reverse the order of the grapes and grain, the add the useless “cluster of,” and as in the first stanza their change of word order makes the matter of verbs more complicated than necessary. In the first stanza they inappropriately made the verb plural; here their retained singular reads awkwardly. Because they do not combine (either via “and” or “also“) the grapes and the grain I can understand retaining the singular, but in their version of the verse the commas function as a parenthetical reference and as an appositive, which is to say, as the nonsensical “The grain—a.k.a. the cluster of grapes—ripens slowly.” I must admit that I know why they added “cluster”—“die Traube” is a singular that can be both a single grape as well as the collective “grapes” (in the sense of a bunch or cluster, organized, straight from the vine, not a bowl of picked grapes), and “cluster” removes all ambiguity.

And now I'll come to an end, not bothering to discuss why Trakl chose grapes and grain (both nourishment as well as sources of booze), how the translators simply unraveled Trakl's metaphor (“the day bows”) and replaced it with the boring “comes to an end,” or the pointlessness of turning “Lider” into “eyelids” rather than just “lids.”



“The Sun”

Each day the gold sun comes over the hill.
The woods are beautiful, also the dark animals,
Also man; hunter or farmer.

The fish rises with a red body in the green pond.
Under the arch of heaven
The fisherman travels smoothly in his blue skiff.

The grain, the cluster of grapes, ripens slowly.
When the still day comes to an end,
Both evil and good have been prepared.

When the; night has come,
Easily the pilgrim lifts his heavy eyelids;
The sun breaks from gloomy ravines.

—Translated by James Wright and Robert Bly
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2007.05.10: A Chick^W Cylon in every pot ... | 14 comments (14 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Genres, passing books and mashups by aethucyn (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:16:44 PM EST
Last week, I heard Michael Chabon discuss his new book. One of the things he talked about was how he'd originally wrote genre fiction but people kept pushing him to write literary fiction instead. This led to him scrapping plans for his first novel which involved Sherlock Holmes on Mars, so we can at least be thankful for that decision. But as one person in the audience noted during the questions, a lot of authors of literature step into the realms of science fiction or mystery without losing credibility. And thinking about it, a lot of my favorites straddle the line. Still, I have a few fantasy series that I've followed since I was a teenager and I tend to embrace them as solitary pleasures, not guilty, but perhaps a little beyond me to explain why.

I do tend to pass books along to people. I think it's the same impulse that makes you want to see movies with other people. The problem is that there's always that lag time between when you finish a book and are brimming over with interest in it, and when somebody else catches up to be able to talk to about it. As much as I'm only a mild Harry Potter fan, I like to get the books right when they come out, because it's a rare moment when you look around and everybody else is reading the same thing you are. If only something else could generate the same ubiquity. Anyway, your recent mentioning of the works of Arthur Phillips prompted me to pick up "The Egyptologist." "Prague" has been on my shelf forever, and I've made vague attempts at it, but didn't have the follow through. Though 150 pages into the E and I'm already bogging down a little. Mostly, though, it's because another book has caught my fancy.

Yesterday, I stumbled into a book reading. Steven Hall was readings some excerpts from The Raw Shark Texts and I found it interesting. Somewhere in his Q&A session, he mentioned how everybody is shooting mashups at him to describe the book. X meets X etc. His personal favorite is "Thomas Pynchon meets Doctor Who." About 50 pages into it and I'd say "Haruki Murakami meets House of Leaves with a dash of Neil Gaiman."

Harry Potter by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #4 Fri May 11, 2007 at 04:34:57 AM EST
I pick it up when it comes out because that's when every book retailing venue has it for a ridiculous discount. Then D and I take (relatively) forever reading it (so that neither of us is ahead of the other) and I spend the next few weeks dodging spoilers from everyone who devoured it on the first day.

I picked up Raw Shark Texts recently, based in part on a description of it as "a poor man's House of Leaves meets Jaws 3 (in 3-D)." But mostly it was because of the typographic shark. Maybe I'll push it up on my queue so that we'll be reading the same thing at the same time.

"If a tree is impetuous in the woods, does it make a sound?" -- aethucyn

[ Parent ]
S.H. on Mars ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #9 Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:41:25 AM EST

... besides, Tad Williams or Neal Stephenson or Dan Simmons will get that done. Williams already had a virtual Mars in his Otherland novels, Simmons already took care of Mars (Ilium & Olympos), and Stephenon just has to take Enoch Root to the future. Or something.

I agree about the "timing" a bit regarding some books. Which is why I'm tempted to (pre-)order H.P. #7 -- though I could also just hope to borrow it from a friend the day or so after it's released. S/He reads it, pass it on to me, I give it back, and if s/he is a big fan, s/he reads it again.

But it has also been kind of fun to come to a few books relatively long after their publication and fanfare. That's how "The Secret History" worked for me, as well as "The Rule of Four" (the former good, the latter mediocre). Or "Book" -- which I still think is great and other people should read it. And as for "HoL," I didn't find out about it until 2004 ... and it's something that can constantly and consistently find new readers without having a specific 15-minutes-of-fame.

Finally -- "Kafka on the Shore" is still on my shelf, so Murakami's style is still an unknown for me. A Bostonian OkCupid ad includes the following: "I have a troubled crush on Nabokov and an untroubled one on Murakami. If I knew what were good for me, both crushes would probably be troubled."

[ Parent ]
The oral sex story by Herring (4.00 / 2) #2 Fri May 11, 2007 at 12:14:40 AM EST
Seen that in a couple of places. The message I get from it is that the HPV vaccine is still, basically a good idea. The price is still high and I think they should look at efficacy in men too, but essentially a good thing.

The arguments against giving the vaccine to young girls are pretty fucking stupid - as a metaphor "I wont let my daughter wear a seatbelt in the car as it encourages reckless driving". Fuckers.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

I was discussing a similar topic ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #8 Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:30:46 AM EST

... with a friend a few weeks back. There has been a curious convergence in this country (one evidently notices it if you listen to certain right-wing, xtian radio stations) between certain conservative xtian groups and some conservative political economy folks (who seemed almost like the latter day incarnations of 19th-century English political economists). I say "certain" and "curious" because these particular groups tend not to get along otherwise (can't recall the specific groups in question; this is just a recalled observation), but the underlying commonality was a deeply held patriarchal desire/belief/paradigm/whatever.

I rarely if every hear single mothers saying that they don't want their daughters to get the HPV vaccine because it might make them promiscuous, but I hear lots of conservative male commentators make that argument, as well as married conservative women. I admit that I don't pay enough attention to the world of conservatives to know what the rabid and neo-con women think.

I'll stop rambling for now. I'm hoping that a study like the one cited in the link, if it pans out scientifically, helps push through broader HPV vaccination programs, perhaps also for boys.

[ Parent ]
Aye by Herring (2.00 / 0) #10 Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:57:02 AM EST
These people basically seem to have some sort of punishment agenda for women. Let's face it, darling Janet may be a virgin on the wedding night, but Brad may have HPV. The oral cancer link is maybe less worrying because of the stats, but it indicates that there is another transmission route for HPV and it could affect male couples too - another argument to test efficacy on males, but one which might not sell with the Xtian right as an argument.

The idea of getting rid of the majority of cervical cancers though has to be a brilliant one. Yay for science.

Also, the slogan "cock smoking causes cancer" hasn't been mentioned yet. And it proably shouldn't be.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
true, but ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #11 Fri May 11, 2007 at 09:48:24 AM EST

... "cock smoking causes cancer" should be a poll option at some point. Either that or "tonsil tumors tied to todger tonguing."

[ Parent ]
Maybe it's the Australian influence by Phage (4.00 / 2) #3 Fri May 11, 2007 at 12:32:04 AM EST
But how could you fail to love any beverage called 'Giant 47 Pound Rooster'.
For your edification I present a beverage to bludgen your cortex,

oh, the Giant 47lb. Rooster ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:22:56 AM EST

... is great -- it's my wine off the season. Wine of the semester. Wine of the year so far.

I've had better -- even much better wines this past year (advantage, I suppose, of having dated a wine snob for a bit -- oh, the great grapes in her collection), but rarely for that price.

Anyway, yes, great name. The winery is "Rex Goliath," the wine is Giant 47 Pound Rooster, and they do a great zin, as well as merlot, syrah/shiraz (okay, but nothing special) and perhaps a cab. I forget whether they have any whites. I had to get it because 47 was my college's "magic number."

also: mmm ... jungle juice.

[ Parent ]
do they have a website? by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #13 Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 01:04:28 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Indeed by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #14 Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 01:08:20 PM EST

... Rex Goliath has a website. It's not as comprehensive as a K5 or /. or even HuSi, but it does the job.

[ Parent ]
whoa, i am a cheesecake caveman by misslake (4.00 / 1) #5 Fri May 11, 2007 at 06:55:56 AM EST
no cracks?

whoa, i thought that cheesecakes always had cracks. were supposed to have cracks. that a really good cheesecake had evenly spaced cracks over it's surface, rather than one or two big deep crevasses.

well, i hope to one day bake a cheesecake without any cracks.

key(s) to no cracks ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #6 Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:18:53 AM EST

1. bake like a custard -- in a 'water bath' --> put cheesecake pan in a larger pan in the oven, and fill the larger pan about 2/3 up the side of the cheesecake pan with hot water. The high specific heat of the water helps the cheesecake to bake evenly.

2. Bake at a "low" temerature -- 250F/120C -- for one hour. Open the oven door for a minute to let out heat, then close it (oven is off by now) and let it sit there in the hot but cooling oven for another hour.

3. "Insurance" -- add up to a tablespoon of cornstarch to your cheesecake batter (about the time you mix in the sugar).

Cracking is generally caused by coagulating egg proteins that suck up the water/moisture, and as the batter sets and shrinks, it cracks. The steps above stop the proteins from coagulating too quickly.

[ Parent ]
grr martin by alprazolam (2.00 / 0) #12 Fri May 11, 2007 at 12:26:36 PM EST
i wouldn't call him high fantasy at all, up to this point. more like political intrigue and to be blunt, violence.

that could all change easily with the next book. anyway it makes no sense to start until the second to last book is out regardless, unless you're just a bored fantasy junkie like me.

after on the road and the latest kellerman "novel" i'm sure i'll be dieing for some "good" fantasy.

2007.05.10: A Chick^W Cylon in every pot ... | 14 comments (14 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback