Friday, July 31, 2009

The Voice in my Head

My friend and I were talking the other day about our reading lists and the possibility of us churning out more books, faster than our current pace. We got on the subject of speed reading and how to go about it. She found a site that recommends not sounding out the words in your head to make things go quicker. Her response to this was, "I like the voice in my head." I hadn't really thought about it before but I had to agree. Of course, at the time, I was reading a book translated from Spanish, so my inner voice had an accent.

Cool, right or is it just weird?

So, on my next book, I paid a little more attention to how I was reading with said voice. The next book happened to be The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

The author recounts the story in such a matter of fact way that, indeed, my inner voice became somewhat dry and monotone (the Spanish accent was gone). The characters telling their sides of the story with almost clinical detachment to a heart-wrenching scenario. It talks about time travel as a genetic defect as opposed to something otherworldly, as we are so accustomed to in Sci-Fi books. This is a natural, everyday occurrence for these characters. It is told with such conviction, though, that I start to think, maybe, some future disease could result in our bodies losing their ability to stay in the present time, that cellular malfunction would cause us to dematerialize here and reappear somewhere else in the Time-Space continuum. Or, maybe not. Whatever the case, the book made me cry like a baby, sap that I am.

But, I digress.

Since then I've been reading consecutive books featuring primarily Jewish characters with a little French and Russian thrown in to mix it up. This time the inner voice is struggling a bit, 'cause I'm not so good with Jewish inflections. Words like mitzvah and shekel just don't come out quite right, even in my head. The same can also be said when I sing Bob Marley as I do my house work or rap along with The Roots, Eminem, T.I., etc. I am through and through British Isles Caucasian and it shows, try hard as I might to appear cooler, more worldly than I am. At least I only do this when I am alone, so no witnesses to the atrocities.

I don't know that I'll ever be able to successfully speed read, after all. My imagination is far too vivid, thus the strange and ever changing voices will stay with me along with my mental pictures of settings, weather, whatever circumstance necessary for me to bring a book to life without having to rely on movies to get the job done (though I do that too).

Just don't tell anyone that I'm hearing voices, okay?

Friday, July 24, 2009

My review of "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"Forever," he said.

That's how long it felt that I'd been reading this book!

I purchased the book about a year ago on Oprah's recommendation (I don't actually watch Oprah, but her book club is renowned) and attempted to read it then. I only got to page three and decided it would be best to put it aside and try again at some other time. So, the book sat on my end table for the last year. That is until I caught part of the movie and was intrigued.

My interest in this book was actually piqued long before Oprah, when I had seen it featured in the movie Serendipity, where John Cusack runs around New York for years searching every copy of the book he can find for a woman's phone number. I had originally thought the book title was a joke, only made for the movie (yes, I've probably spent the better part of the last thirty plus years under a rock - I mean, really, who would put love and cholera in the same thought?). When I realized it was an actual book, I put it on my mental to do list (anything featured in a John Cusack movie where the dialogues are almost always quirky and the soundtracks are awesome, should be all right with me).

Now, having finished it (finally), I understand the comparison. If one is suffering from a broken heart or unrequited love, there is a general sense of unwell at times that mimics the symptoms of cholera and where coma or death may be preferable to the loss of a great love (at least it seems that way at the time, but in reality it's not truly that bad - most of the time). We should be able to pick up the pieces and move on, right? Well, this poor man hangs on to his hopes for over five decades! I just wanted to take this fictional man and give him a good shake and tell him to get over it already; move on!

The book drags through descriptions of floral and fauna that I'm unfamiliar with, also, which made it difficult for me to get through as I typically rely on my very vivid imagination to bring life to the books I read. This made for slow going where I would have preferred the three week long ride on the back of a mule with sores from sitting on said mule rather than reading another page. But I plod on in any event, determined not to quit.

It also seems to jump from present to past to future so quickly that I found myself rereading passages in order to figure out where in time I actually was and still not really able to get it straight (though, some days, this happens in my own life, so it may just be a genetic defect). The flow from one character point of view to another, though, was done smoothly and left little confusion.

The upside of the book was that love is possible at any age, although, perhaps better left to the septuagenarians that have lived long enough to experience and appreciate the complexities of life and love, in all its forms.

In the end, I'm not left wishing for more as (in my humble opinion) good books often make me feel. I was glad to see it come to an end and not left wondering what would happen to the characters next. Then again, if I'd had access to the picture book version, I may have been left with warmer, fuzzier feelings. And, I wouldn't necessarily recommend not reading it, just be prepared with your copy of the comprehensive guide to the wilderness and lifestyle of late nineteenth/early twentieth century Caribbean living, complete with pictures, or any such similar reference. For me, I'm off the watch the movie from beginning to end in order to achieve the visual component I was lacking but am able to see through someone else's (and more superior to mine, obviously) vision.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lament of the laptop

As I write in my little blog box, I feel the prose flowing through my fingertips onto the keyboard. I feel a rush of creative energy, like nothing I have experienced before. It is so forceful that I keep typing and forget to hit the save button (of course), thinking that even a momentary pause will cause a massive dam to build up and block these free flowing thoughts forever.

I imagine no one on Earth has ever had these revelations; this new thinking is so brilliant, so unique, I must share it with the world immediately. And, so, I type on, in this manner, for an indeterminate amount of time, amazed that someone such as myself, was capable of this quality of thought and verbiage.

And then the unimaginable (well, I might have imagined it, if I'd stopped my discourse for the fraction of a second needed to store my ruminations for eternity) happens. You, my laptop, have heated to the point where you felt you must turn yourself off....without checking with me first! So, lost are my thoughts into the abyss of the Blue Nowhere (thank you, Jeffery Deaver) or in the gray cells that exploded during my mind blowing cognition.

My laptop, oh, laptop. You, that I'd loved so much when you were new, now you have a raging fever in your underbelly such that I cannot lay you on a table top for fear that you bubble any man made surfaces! What has happened to you?

A lesson has been learned here today. Now I must cradle you gently, as I lay contorted with my knees raised, my body forming a V shape to protect the area where your fan circulates from reaching its fiery maximum (the "save" lesson has still not been learned and probably never will). I will protect you, my laptop, until the last payment is made, with loving deference.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

What's in a font?

I am a newbie to blogging and much like the premise for Seinfeld, I have no specific topics in mind. This will be my platform for whatever I'm thinking about at the moment. So, here goes my first attempt:

I always struggle with titles, user names, etc., when I have to create a new profile. I want to pick something unique that people will get a kick out of or make people question (I find myself frequently off on tangents, trying to find out more about what people are talking about). My initials and birth date are no longer acceptable (I looked up a Gaelic-English dictionary for my fave new user name). But then it comes time to pick the font...

I like to try different fonts but always fall back on Arial, especially for work-related documents. I figured I wasn't conforming to my computers incessant recommendation to use Times New Roman. So, there! Then I read Patricia Cornwell's "Scarpetta" was dismayed to learn that Arial was considered (maybe by the author or maybe this was only the incredibly smart, beautiful techno geek extrordinare character's assessment) to be a thief, a fraud! An update of the more classic style Helvetica.

My font is a fake? What does that say about me? Or am I reading to much into this?

Off I go to research what fonts are cool but legible. (Is there such a thing as a cutting edge font, I wonder?). So, in setting up my blog here, I reach the part where I have to chose the font again. Well, Times is out, Arial's out, what do I pick? I try them all out and chose Verdana, only to come upon this during research . Verdana is dull? Oh boy.

So I delve in further, looking for some positive feedback on my choices while playing with Open Office to check out the aesthetics (a cool name is fine but what does it look like?) . I find this It puts a slightly better spin on things.

The Readers' Digest link mentions Gigi, "the sex kitten" of fonts and Impact, the "rigid, rude, sad" font. No font by its description alone seems to fit my personality and I've yet to find the Facebook quiz to aid with this. I finally decide on Trebuchet, not finding any derogatory remarks about this one, though, to be honest, I stopped persuing it.

The written word is such a large part of our world now, with the myriad of online social sites as well as our business websites, and while we can easily add pictures to profiles, it is harder show our individual personalities without additional help (emoticons aside). I think that is why our choice of font can be such a big thing and why, to quote the Yahoo link, "people are so passionate about their typeface."

I will continue my search to find the best fit for me (though, my friends would probably say Webdings would fit that category) while practicing the line "My name is..." during office hours ;-)

Any thoughts? Let me know.