Posts Tagged ‘read-a-thon’

“Can you sing?”

Last time the read-a-thon rolled around, I was powering through The Return of the King, but as I read this conversation between Denethor and Pippin, I had to stop and ponder for a few minutes.

‘What would you do in my service?’
‘I thought, sir, that you would tell me my duties.’
‘I will, when I learn what you are fit for,’ said Denethor. ‘But that I shall learn soonest, maybe, if I keep you beside me. The esquire of my chamber has begged leave to go to the out-garrison, so you shall take his place for a while. You shall wait on me, bear errands, and talk to me, if war and council leave me any leisure. Can you sing?
‘Yes,’ said Pippin. ‘Well, yes, well enough for my own people. But we have no songs fit for great halls and evil times, lord. We seldom sing of anything more terrible than wind or rain. And most of my songs are about things that make us laugh; or about food and drink, of course.’
‘And why should such songs be unfit for my halls, or for such hours as these? We who have lived long under the Shadow may surely listen to echoes from a land untroubled by it? Then we may feel that our vigil was not fruitless, though it may have been thankless.’

I perhaps didn’t think about it as much as I should have, and in July I was surprised by my Chinese teacher pulling a movie-Denethor!  We had no warning, but were told to sing a folk song for our classmates.  I foolishly chose “Little Sadie,” a gruesome and kind of hard to sing ballad, which was awkward to explain after I finished.  I feel I could defend it now, but off-the-cuff and in Chinese?  It was tough.

We don’t really have bards, troubadours, or song-of-greeting traditions any more, but I’m bringing it back for a day.  Here’s the challenge: represent yourself, your country, or your people (whoever they may be) with one song.  You don’t need to sing it yourself, but I’d still like to hear the tune, so provide a link or video and tiny explanation in the comments or on your own blog, and I will choose the winner after 3 hours.  That means time is up at 0700 UTC.

For prizes, see this post, but know that there will be a book for first place, and postcards for 2nd and 3rd.  It’s international, my friends!  Now, can you sing?


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The cover of The Analects, giving you a sense of the artist's style.

I worried that the challenge post was becoming too long, so here are the prize choices.

I’m living in Taiwan right now, which I think influenced me quite a bit in coming up with this challenge!  Because of that, I am offering some Chinese books: comic book versions of classics.  Oh yes.  They’re by the excellent Taiwanese artist 蔡志忠, and I can offer you one of the following: 論說孫子兵法聊齋志異.  If you are consumed by a desire to have a different story, I’ll see if I can find it for you, but these are the ones I know I can get in my bookstore, and the first two are quite funny, for all that they’re philosophical texts.  Let me repeat: these books will be written in traditional Chinese characters, but the art is very cute and fun.

If you can find no use for something like this, you can choose a book from the read-a-thon’s prize pool.  Second and third place will get a postcard from Taiwan, with Chinese writing if they want it.  Please contact me via the “email me!” link in the sidebar.  Thanks for playing!

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Titular absurdities

This challenge always cracks me up, and I’m proud to say I’ve got two long ones this time!  I guess I’m feeling more creative than before

Both are four books long, and the first one requires no additional words of any kind.  Without further ado, I present this mystic mantra:

Sacred hearts ghost-walk the world inside the ear, the eye, and the arm.

Well, lawd-a-mercy!  Crazy things are going on everywhere!

Bless me, Ultima! The starfish and the spider rendezvous with Rama on the island of Dr. Moreau!

Actually, the last one sounds like it could be a code phrase from Captain America.  Was that movie awful or was it awful?!

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Tenuous at best!

Rebus!  Rebi!  Rebuses!

Whatever the case may be, here’s my contribution to Melissa‘s cool contest.

I hated this book in high school, although it was great when a classmate asked our Spanish teacher one day what chingada meant…

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Sunrise, sunset

It’s the end of the read-a-thon and I pretty much had my nose or ears buried in a book except for three hours between 6 and 9am. The final challenge is just a good wrap-up, so here goes.

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
I had trouble at 6am, when I had been awake for nearly a day save a quick nap just before the kick-off of the read-a-thon.  I believe that was hour 10 or 11.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
I find a good humorous book is an excellent choice.  Mary Roach always does it for me, delivering facts and funny about interesting topics.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the read-a-thon next year?
Make sure comments work across all blogs.  Blogger has the potential to be a really unfriendly platform, and I couldn’t participate in at least one challenge because of it.  Also, the number of challenges focusing on romance or supernatural romance seemed higher than one might expect.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s read-a-thon?
The challenges were mostly pretty good and my personal scheduling was way better than last year, although it still left something to be desired.

5. How many books did you read and what were the titles?
I read 4 books: I finished Catch-22 and Witches Abroad, but I also worked on Packing for Mars and The Return of the King.  I also read a bit of Cracked now and again!

6. Which book did you enjoy most?
It’s hard to say, although I guess it’ll have to be Packing for Mars. Not only did it make me giggle, it also flies by!

7. Which did you enjoy least?
Hyperion.  I only persisted because I went out walking and had no other audiobook choice.  Towards the end of my stroll it started to improve, and I’ll probably finish it because I do a lot of walking here, but as it stands, I’m not reading the next books in the series.

8. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I think I will definitely go for it again in October, since I’ll be preparing to go home and I’ll really be under pressure to clear out my bookshelves!  I might host a mini-challenge or cheerlead for an hour or two.

While I read for 21 hours out of 24, my actual reading time was closer to 15.5 hours due to participating in read-a-thon events and other necessary tasks such as food.  I’m still really satisfied with this, and consider it to have met my goal.  Goals for next time: read less library or other borrowed books, and more of my own mess!

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Two-word verdict: Endlessly frustrating.

I have been told Catch-22 is a modern classic, one that at least one friend has already told me he loved, but I can’t see the art.  The humor is black–which isn’t usually a problem for me–but so bitter, and Heller seems to glory in writing the most contradictory characters I have ever had the misfortune to encounter.  Complex characters are great, but these aren’t complex; they’re just lists of adjectives with a hearty helping of idiocy.

Outside of their chapters, the characters are generally indistinguishable, even after the adjectives Heller has so generously lavished on them.  The non-linear nature of the story only adds to the confusion.  In addition, the utter lack of admirable characters or even characteristics is quite depressing.  This must have been to add humor, but I kept thinking of the Daffy Duck cartoons where he does nothing but frustrate an innocent through deliberate stupidity, or the Grover bits on Sesame Street where, in his willful ignorance, he succeeds in aggravating people almost to tears.  Yes, Catch-22 is making me dredge up my half-remembered childhood television issues.

On the bright side, Snowden’s death, when it finally came, was very well-written and gave me a little insight into Yossarian at the last.  Too, while I was irritated by the depression brought on by the never-ending stupidity and slavish bureaucracy, it was a little refreshing to read a World War II novel not populated by noble deeds and great men.  The greatest generation can be bad for the ego…

I’ve finished a “work of literature,” and I don’t have to worry about it any more.  Also, I now know precisely what catch-22 means: you can only understand Catch-22 if you read it, but you can only read Catch-22 if you don’t want to read it.  Or something like that.

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I suppose they’re reading Lolita in Chinese in Tehran?  I’ve read two out of three of these, although not during the read-a-thon.

Thanks for the fun challenge, Kate!

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