January 2018 @ Karen S’s House w/Mary, Liz, Marie, Sue, Kitty, Shelley, & Yours Truly
- SPEED PREP CHAMPIONSHIP STATUS – Karen S. continues to hold the title after arriving home 10 minutes before Go Time and barely batting an eyelash. It’s all in the prep work and established routine. Delish stew! Another win for Karen S!
- BEST ENTRANCE EVER: Shelley in Viking helm with ‘Ride of the Valkyrie’ blasting
- BEST WINE SAVE EVER: Kitty (ahem…finally) arrives with white wine, but top is misaligned and won’t unscrew. After several great minds (ahem) & rubber-gloved hands attempt feats of strength, Karen S. operates successfully – with the $hitty knife – to ‘slice’ open the perforations. Happiness ensues.
- 4 dogs, count ’em: 4 (good night to miss, Karen C). Well, you can’t count the littlest; she’s hiding upstairs. And Maverick’s glued to Shelley as she fusses and photos him all night. The other 2 are on floor, ball, and bark patrol. Dog-sitting is what happens to Karen S. when she sends both Daniel (+ all her men) to Montana and Kelsey + Grand Baby to KY. Actually, it first happens upon sending Daniel to college… Liz had cane at the ready, but she’s actually a dog person now (#Boomer).
- Fashionable, ‘hot executive’ attire vs. business clothes. Discuss. Or just go to Shelley’s shop to find ideal-fitting options.
- Mary’s Michael is happy, esp. when carrying 10-foot PVC pipes through Manhattan. Catherine is happily ensconced with a roommate (cousin of a friend, yay! #connections #vetted) in Chicago. Loooong commute to current client, but otherwise fine. IKEA furniture worked; Mary’s extra day (snow cancellation of flight) got things started. “First, you label!” Says Mary, always…
- IKEA Hack: Promise to just do the step you are on and it all works out beautifully. Most fun is assembling ONLY with the hex wrench (do you have the right sizes?). If you must, skip it and buy ‘generic’ from a resale shop.
- Sue wants to retire. For the zillionth time – we support her. PICK A DATE, already! Feb. 2nd: Florida grandbaby birthday & maybe new property fun. Dogs seem healthy as can be – still!
- Kitty moves in <10 days to a one BR apt. in the BEST location in Bethesda. Will she and Barry survive the tiny space living? Work on the house, list it by March 1st, and hopefully buy something in Annapolis soon.
- Book Donations: WJ needs them & takes boxes. KP Library ditto on need, not on boxes. NIH Patient Library would love actual CLEAN ones (but too few understand what the word ‘clean’ means).
- Liz’s boys each have a favorite part of Mary Poppins – how practically perfect of them. Megs is an A student again & working PT for her bro at Sysarc (you know, the place with the really cool office & genius pit). Hip is better, but a ways to go. Work is a #(%storm of hiring/firing – she can see the fun stuff, just blurred behind the dust not quite settled on other debacles. Does this constitute a Failed Retirement?
- We’re pretty sure Shelley’s kids & life are fine. And she’s well accessorized (see above) and looks great, as usual. Nothing’s confirmed though, as she’s quite focused on making memes of Maverick.
- Marie was in San Diego – sans cool black jeans but also sans the flu (after a wise 4 days of pre-travel recovery). It was fantastic from A to Z – girlfriend, location, her welcome, Robert’s happiness, the weather (‘only’ 65, but it was 6 OR 5 here), and event the travel. Margaret says Robert will marry only when GF is pregnant. WHAT?? Odd trend: weddings are so ‘hard/grand/pricey,’ this is the ‘solution.’ Not just Robert, but ‘everyone.’ Yeesh.
- Katie’s birthday dinner outing odyssey: Silver Diner cuz it’s yummy. [Side bar: ‘Silver’ is overpriced says the Peanut Gallery] and mostly b/c restaurant Week & its extension hindered the big trip to Barrel & Crow. It’ll happen. Bootleg Birthday cake (with an icing book!). Thanks, All! Tip: DO go to Jenny Cakes for more of the same yumminess. Don’t necessarily consult with Liz on flavor of finishing mixes… #overwhelmed (for the record: final result was perfect).
- Other books to try: My Life with Bob; any others? Katie seeking ‘good nonfiction’ on Ghandi (she just saw the movie). Somewhat more current movies were discussed by those who viewed them: 3 Billboards in XYZ, MO; The Post; and [Something Else]
Katie chose Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman because:
- He writes so well and typically puts an intelligent, off-kilter twist on everything.
- Family connections, so curious about how Norwegian history/culture survived and/or was conveyed via the myths.
- I read some of Snori Sturlurson’s versions and it was a bit of a slog -wondered if it was the translation or just me.
- I like the Justice League, Thor, etc. sci-fi movies & wanted a comparison, esp. with the upcoming release of Ragnarok.
with My Reading Arc (only b/c I made notes before) & Gaiman interview bits:
- 6 of 8 read all (Karen S. even drove to Olney for her copy!). One read “67%” after deciding it was survivable to go more than halfway. One read none percent (but she still knows the author, of course….).
- First 30 pages: This is tedious and lacks rhythm. Bootleg is going to kill me.
- The glossary was great! Learned so much about word origins. Pretty cool how so much lasted from the misty past. But do all the weekday names really track (e.g. Sunday)?
- Bonus for word lovers: Shelley’s pronunciation guy (link below).
- Am I missing something or are the Norse gods a bunch of dolts who depend on the apparently smarter elves and esp. the dwarves? And what about the clearly more-powerful giants?
- Why does everyone keep believing Loki?
- Man, is Thor dumber than we ever thought.
- Cool to know that Loki is really Odin’s blood brother.
- Or maybe… Do the gods just hang out ‘like normal folks’ until their true selves are actually needed? Cuz it’s more fun or relaxing that way?
- Great reading this after reading Gaiman’s American Gods. So much more makes sense and that book seems even better now.
- Some discussion on if these myths DO or DO NOT explain how nature works or came to be. After a few examples (water, volcanoes, etc.) we seemed to tilt toward YES, the myths have a consistent thread of explaining nature.
- This is not to be overshadowed, however, by the preponderance of 10-year-old boy potty humor. Examples galore. Oh, goody.
- What is it that today’s oh-so-hip/sophisticated Norwegians & their somewhat recent/modern generations find so compelling about these myths and gods? Do they evoke pride or other positive vibes? They just don’t stack up – character-wise – to Johnny Appleseed, John Henry, Paul Bunyan, etc. Not to mention other world myths clearly conveying wisdom or morals. And narrative flow is stilted (is that just eons of translation tics?). [Related note from the Gaiman interview (link below]: These myths don’t explain Nature. They do tell who the Vikings were, the original storytellers. Told in a setting of extremes (light/dark, feast/starve, party/kill). Vikings have ‘good death’ (battle & Valhalla…daily valor) or ‘bad death’ (age, birth, illness, weakness & Hel’s kingdom…gloom). Peaceful co-existence and endings don’t exist in the Norge of 1500 years ago.]
- Reads quickly. Or at least you can set it down feeling progress was made. Easy to get back in, even after pausing a bit. Didn’t call to be read obsessively, but certainly picked up flow and appeal by ~1/3 of the way through. Then ended with a bang.
- Almost done: Still not sold on literary niceties, but overall, there is insight and commentary on foibles of man as reflected by goofy, greedy, violent, illogical gods. But still seems less than godlike.
- Some discussion on if females kept getting short end of the stick. Loki always at the center of trouble, so in some ways the answer is yes simply because of him. But consider Freya, the giants. So maybe not.
- Seems to be equal opportunity for highs and lows across male/female and different levels of godliness. So that’s good, I guess.
- Loki. He’s terrible. Is he created that way and has no choice or does he do it because he likes it? Or is it the only way he sees clear to the ultimate power grab? Are they forgiving him between episodes? Forgetting (how much time passes for them anyway)? Or biding time & tolerating him – as in, better the devil you know than the one you can’t see (butchered metaphor…deal with it).
- LOKI – Why do they tolerate him? Why so many chances? So much power? Is it intentional or lack of ANY short-term memory? There’s nothing redeeming about him…is that his Giant side or just Loki? Is he just a ‘poetic/mythic device’ so “they” can create absurd adventure tales that are very memorable? So many questions.[Interview note: Movie version is this somewhat appealing god of Mischief/Evil/Tricksiness. ‘Real version’ has more layers; thinks he’s cleverer than he is; gets gods into trouble all the time; a blowhard sneak who has to back peddle a lot; gets darker & darker]
- Nordic people had LOTS of dark, so maybe they just wanted crazy plot twists. As in, trying to get a rise or a gasp out of listeners in the murky dark. This is far different than trying to teach lessons.
- Also, our centers don’t align. Their norm is ‘boring violence’ (going to Hel) or ‘fun violence’ (going to Valhalla). That mindset must create a different lens than our for appreciating/understanding these myths. (Well, except for 10 yo boys)
- Finally starts to read like a novel in the last fifth. [Interview note: Gaiman wrote the stories out of order, as the muse struck. After writing Ragnarok story he realized there was a novel structure & he re-ordered accordingly.]
- Gaiman explains his work in this ~11-min interview.
- The Scandinavian studies professor with proper pronunciation is Jackson Crawford. Videos on YouTube.
Karen S. picked is Hotel on The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet by Jamie Ford
- Marie is a LIBRARIAN, for goodness sake… Listen to her (IF you can hear her…without a Viking helm hearing horn) when she names the book’s author.
NEXT MEETING: TBA (Kitty may switch months with somebody since she’s moving)