Mihai: Not Suited to the Dark Ages

I'm justifying this as a writing exercise, taking a character thoroughly out of their original home, finding out what's necessary to the character and what's not. Finding the essence, so to speak.

Anyway. More Mihai, though he has a different name now. I think this is just part one.

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I have... A project!

I realized last night that I have never read The Origin of Species in its entirety, just excerpts. this annoys me. I know I've tried. I had a book called The Darwin Reader when... I probably still own it. Must be at my parents' house somewhere. Either way, I tried to read that cover to cover when I was in eighth grade, but I wasn't really up to it. Darwin was a very good, lucid writer for his day, but he was still a Victorian gentleman naturalist, and he was a bit dense for me at the time. Compounded, I think, by the fact that I didn't have much background in geology and natural history at the time. Oh, a lot for a thirteen year old, probably, but that's hardly a lot in the grand scheme of things. And certainly not up to the standards of old school natural history, where knowing all the facts about everything was just to be expected in a good practitioner. And then I never picked it up again. One should always spend time with the primary literature. I've read many of his admirers, I've read papers from the minds behind the New Synthesis, I've read biographies and attended lectures, but I've never gone straight through the book. I am a dumbhead in this respect.

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These are Petty Literary Gripes Man was not Meant to Hear!

There is a fiction trope I don't care for. It was driven home while watching Event Horizon with folks last night. I'm sure this is a matter of opinion but I have issues with the horror/fantasy premise of "things man was not meant to know."

One issue is it isn't really very scary. Vampires are scary because they play on fears of contamination and dance riffs on lots of weird sexual issues. Guys in masks who want to cut insufficiently virtuous teenage girls into giblets are scary because, well, no one wants to be giblets. That's gross. Werewolves: the untamable monster self, with a side of cannibalism. Ghosts: death and often guilt. Forbidden knowledge: well, uh, damn. I'm not talking about fear of the unknown, mind you. That's great. That gives us monsters and darkness and aliens and all kinds of great stuff. TMWNMTK (even the acronym is unwieldy!) is only a problem once you find it out. It simply does not appeal to my primal fear of knowing stuff.

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St. Patricks Day

I'm leaving aside the actual religious observance entirely. That's for church ladies or actual people in actual Ireland who have it as a holy day of obligation (somehow?). St. Patrick. Kinda a cool guy. Had a neat hat, came up with cute metaphors about weird theology, intimidated some druids. Whether you're pro- or anti-druid, you gotta admit one Welshman with a stick getting rid of a bunch of badasses who liked to paint themselves blue and sacrifice virgins is pretty impressive.

Nah, not here about St. Patrick the dude. This isn't really about Irish history and religion, interesting a topic as that is.

This is about the purely secular and usually really stupid St. Patrick's Day celebrations. I think I'mma have one. On the day itself or Friday, doesn't matter much to me. (It's not like I ever go to bed on time on Friday anyway.) This calls for corned beef and cabbage. I've been poking around for recipes for crock pots, since that would make my life pleasantest. Many of them include turnips. I don't like turnips. They taste like God is kind of miffed with you. I find it amusing that we're so dedicated to this meal, since what it is is bar food, rather than any tradition of weight and grandeur, but I honestly like it, so corned beef and cabbage it shall be!

And of course, there will be beer. And maybe cider? Dunno. I'm deffinitely having Guinness or Murphy's, and maybe I'll have a blond or redhead to go with that brunette. No Irish whiskey, please. The Irish do not drink it. They drink Scotch. There is a reason.

Soda bread, mayhaps? Problem with soda bread is it's a pain to make, and I am not a good baker. And I don't have a good oven. And soda bread really must be eaten fresh, or it moves quickly from pretty ok to nasty.

So there's my dinner. But I can't really figure out what else to do. I am not a one for wearing unfunny green t-shirts and sparkly green hats (well, actually, I'd totally wear the latter, but not for a particular occasion. More just because) and attending loud, crowded parties. I've never been able to enjoy such a setting. So I'm not going out to a bar, obviously.

Maybe I should have a small get-together at home? Only I don't know who'd come. Roommate will probably be off with his girlfriend (which is a reasonable thing to be), most Smithies will be off having Spring break, and I imagine most of my townie friends will either have plans of their own or not want to do anything.

Perhaps an Irish-themed rp oneshot? That might draw some folks in. I could probably manage that...

So that's one plan. I don't really have any others. Perhaps I should just dim all the lights and we can sing ballads. I have, for some reason, encyclodpedic knowledge of late-1800's Irish music hall songs and assorted ballads. They're all deeply depressing. Different levels of depressing, certainly. You have your inescapable downers, like Molly Malone or Danny Boy (Yes, that is an English song, but we'll leave it aside for now), which are about nothing but the tragic death of a loved one and the according sense of loss. You have your everyday dirges, like Kerry Dancing or The Gypsy Rover, respectively about the impermenance and irrecoverability of youthful joy and the abandonment of one's entirely life and family to follow a clearly irresponsible drea. And you have the ostensibly cheery, like Mrs. McGrath or The Minstrel Boy, with peppy tunes and lively lyrics. So peppy you barely notice that Mrs. McGrath's son has come back from a war in which he had no stakes maimed, or that the Minstrel boy in the original was consigned to a living hell of forced labor, his instrument destroyed. And even with the hopeful final verse, he returns "torn in body, not in spirit," so he's also maimed, apparently.

So everyone Irish is depressed all the time. Guess I'd be. If you go to Ireland for a week, after all, it'll rain twice. Once for three days, once for four days. And they expect you to eat suet with blood in it. That's a food. I'd be kinda depressed, too.

By the way, is anyone going to be about for possible saint's day shenanigans? You can listen to me sing Vaudeville songs, apparently, and drink beer.
  • Current Mood
    contemplative contemplative

Sometimes I remember that I have a blog.

Kinda. Anyways, I'm trying to think of something clever to say. I've settled on talking about beer.

I was talking to my younger sister today, the high school and not the first-grader, passing on some fragments of wisdom wrapped in enough sarcasm to make sure she'll pay attention. Dad walked by and began to make fun of the beer (which... he had just bought) and he and I wound up making fun of the taste, which dad described as "earwax filtered through cardboard." It was Schlitz, for the curious.

Bridie observed that, in her opinion, all beer tastes like earwax filtered through cardboard, so we explained acquired tastes and the desire to be plastered pleasantly and responsibly buzzed common in us grown-ups.  Then we began describing the tastes of various beers back and forth. I brought out my old standard for my favorite ordinary beer, Guinness extra stout. "Tar and the tears of Irish orphans." I recalled a weird beer I'd had at a bar with some friends, a Russian stout called something like Two Brothers on the West Wind. "Thick on the tongue as whipped cream and black as black can be."

This, I quickly discovered, is a really fun game. I've been playing with beer for a while now. Come up with some other fun ones.

Sam Adams: Tangy summer rain and boredom.

Miller light: Credulity, lightly carbonated.

Blue Moon: White and cold, a grow-light in liquid form.

Guinness: Rust, acid, and bubbles.

Make your own! But I think I like this a lot. I think I may make a mental exercise of this, pick a category and describe various examples in the most colorful language you can. I'll have to mull over future categories. Dog breeds, quirky hobbies, grunge bands, cable news, mattresses, distantly glimpsed birds, college majors... Some of these will be snarky and pithy, obviously, and some of them would be purely a way to play with language and imagery, but I like my new game.