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The Parrots

The Parrots by Filippo Bologna.  Translated by Howard Curtis

This book is a satire of the world of literary prizes, which I don’t really follow and even less so with the Italian literary prize scene. Some of this may have been lost on me, but I still found this to be a great read. The Parrots tells the story of the three finalists for a literary prize, the Beginner, the Writer and the Master.  Each have their own story to tell in the lead up to the award. The narrator of this story appears to be someone mysterious and all-knowing; knowing more than even the characters living the story.  None of the characters have real names, being defined by one characteristic.  Beyond the finalists, the background characters include the Girlfriend, the Ex Wife, the Second Wife, and the Publisher.  This helps create some distance between the reader and the characters, so even when they are making terrible choices, you can casually observe from a distance and enjoy the results.

This story is about what one is willing to do to achieve the Prize, and for what one is willing to give up the Prize.  It’s about achieving that success that will overshadow perceived failures. The humour is dark, but that also helps the story from getting too heavy.

I found this to be an enjoyable read, even for someone not part of the world of literary prizes.

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Around the World Reading List

Here is my list of countries, as determined by http://www.listofcountriesoftheworld.com/
I will include the titles and authors of the books I read as I go.
Australia:  Alison by Margaret Watts
  • A Meal in Winter by Hubert Mingarelli, Translated by Sam Taylor.  (A story of German soldiers in Poland by a French Novelist, where does this really belong?)  Review. 
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Reading the World

One of my new year’s resolution’s for this year, and many years beyond, was to read a book from every country in the world.

Its hardly an original idea.  I recently discovered that its been done fairly thoroughly over at http://ayearofreadingtheworld.com/  But i decided I need a variety of voices in my life. Its easy to fall into the habit of just reading whatever is on the best seller list, usually english speaking white men.  Not always a bad thing, but its time for something new for me.

I found an online book club that reads books around the world, but its about where the book is set rather than where the author comes from, so it easy just to read books set in other countries written by the same voices you’ve always read, but I want a more authentic story.

It can be difficult though.  People don’t always just belong to one country.  Many people move countries.  Someone can be born in one country, and grow up in another.  Some people live in multiple countries. Some people even have citizenship in more than one country.  Some people grow up in a country but still identify themselves as part of the country of their parents.  If an author describes themselves as Haitian American, do I tick off Haiti or USA?

There also seems to be the problem that not every country has books translated into English.  I will leave those countries until the end. Maybe it will change. Otherwise I’ll make do by reading a book set in that country.

I’m also wondering if i should start from scratch, or do i include books that I’ve read in the past.

So i have a lot of questions, but i’ll just feel my way through it and see how i go.

I just wanted to write about it here, because i wanted somewhere to document the journey.  I’ll create a page with a list of countries so that I can mark them off as i go.  I might include some book reviews along the way.  I’m looking forward to the challenge.

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Launch Party

Last friday night, my husband and I went to a party.  A Space Shuttle Launch party!

I never thought that I would attend such a party in my lifetime.  Gathering a group of friends together to watch a shuttle launch into space just doesn’t seem like something that is all that fun.  But sometimes fun has a way of sneaking up on to you. 

Someone posted the idea on twitter. I don’t think they serious believed that people would take up their offer, but next thing we know, we are over at a friend’s place on a friday night, armed with pizza and space helmets.  We were just going to stay for a little while. My husband had to start early shifts the next week, so didn’t want to stay out too late. We were going to miss the launch, but we were ok with that.  But the hours rolled on, and we were still there, and we were able to watch NASA’s last space shuttle be launched into space. 

I suprised myself by how excited I was by the whole experience.  There were numerous countdowns, most of them counting down to a countdown, and as we heard those numbers ticking down, the room would get quiet and the atmosphere tense.  Then eventually, the countdown was the real thing, and we saw that shuttle take off into the sky, leaving our planet far behind.

The lesson learnt that night is that anything can be fun when surrounded by the right people.

One of the funniest things about the evening was watching the comments on the Ustream feed.  People are funny. 

While waiting for the launch, we watched Hackers. This is one of my husband’s favourite movies. He made me watch it years ago when we were first dating.  In a room with computer technicians, phone technicians and web designers, the movie took on a whole new level of comedy, as they provided their own commentary for the events taking place in the movie.  I don’t know how serious the movie was at the time it was made in the 90s, but as the technology, and the fashion, has changed over the last decade and a half, this peek into our techological past is rather humerous. 

Thanks everyone that was there for such a top night. It was a blast.

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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 38 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 15 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 4mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was June 21st with 38 views. The most popular post that day was Non-Lycra Superhero Costumes.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were WordPress Dashboard, engagedmarriage.com, knowledgelost.org, liveforfilms.wordpress.com, and stumbleupon.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for hit-girl, hit girl, kick ass hit girl, hitgirl, and travis willingham.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Non-Lycra Superhero Costumes April 2010
2 comments

2

Trailer for Red starring Felicia Day July 2010
1 comment

3

Six Things That Flung Me Into Geekdom April 2010
3 comments

4

Geek vs Nerd April 2010
6 comments

5

The Exile – a graphic novel by Diana Gabaldon September 2010
8 comments

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The Rebooted Buffy Scandal

It seems that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is being rebooted.  Its causing contraversy all over the place.  I don’t really have much to say about it, because I was never into Buffy.

My experience with Buffy involved my sister locking my keys in my car on the night of the series final.  I spent an hour trying to get my keys out with some guy while my sister watched tv.  In the end, we decided having a torch might be helpful, what with it being dark and all.  So i ran up to my sister’s room to borrow hers.  She didn’t react well. apparently i walked in on the last 5 minutes ever and ruined everything.

from scifinow.co.uk

Its all about priorities, isn’t it.  Buffy final > sister stranded in your carpark in the dark with some strange man with no way to get into her car.

However, you can read all about my sister’s take on this very important subject at her shiny new blog

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Armageddon Expo

I think I may have developed a taste for Pop Culture Expos.  After having such a great time at SupaNova last year, I’ll looking into attending Armageddon in Sydney in February this year. 

Only one name is recogniseable to me, and that’s Christian Kane, who is my favourite character in Leverage.  However, I still found heaps of awesome guests at SupaNova last year that I had never heard of before and never even dreamed of being interested in, like Travis Willingham and Vic Mignogna, anime voice actors.  Who’d ever thought i’d find anime people interesting? 

It is the same weekend as Soundwave, so if we make it to Sydney, then its definitely going to be an action-packed weekend.  I can’t wait to experience the pop culture expo phenomenon with my husband, after he missed out last year. 

Ooh, I wonder if they will have a special Leverage package, so we can have dinner with Christian?