Thursday, February 18, 2010

Revisting Riddle 30

A little while ago, my post on Riddle 30 invited a comment asking for a more literal, less poetic translation of the Riddle. I'll reproduce three texts below: the original, my first translation, and my edited/poetic translation:

Riddle 30 – Verse Indeterminate Saxon

Ic eom legbysig,__lace mid winde,
bewunden mid wuldre,__wedre gesomnad,
fus forðweges,__fyre gebysgad,
bearu blowende,__byrnende gled.

Ful oft mec gesiþas__sendað æfter hondum,
þæt mec weras ond wif__wlonce cyssað.
þonne ic mec onhæbbe,__ond hi onhnigaþ to me
monige mid miltse,__ þær ic monnum sceal
ycan upcyme__eadignesse.

Riddle 30 – Literal Translation

I am beset by flames,__ sacrifice among wind
wrapped with glory,__storm assembled
eager for departure,__fire troubled
grove blooming,__burning ember.

Very often me companions__send after hand,
that myself husband and wife__ splendid kiss
then I myself exalt__and she bends down to me,
many with mercy,__ there I mankind must
increase up-springing__ of blessedness

Riddle 30 – Creative Translation

I am beset by flames,__sacrifice among wind
wrapped with glory,__storm assembled
eager for departure,__fire-troubled
grove-blooming,__burning ember.

Very often companions__send me after hand
that myself, husband,__and splendid wife kiss
then I exalt myself__and she bends down to me.
Many with mercy,__there I for mankind must
increase up-springing__of blessedness.

The differences between my two translations are not too astronomical; they are mainly shifts in word order to modern English patterns and a bit of re-arranging. Please also note that the "__" indicates a space where the caesura happens; for some reason, Blogger eliminates the tab and makes it a space instead -- hence the "__"

For these translations, and other work I've done in Old English, two texts were my main resources:
A Guide to Old English by Bruce Mitchell and Fred C. Robinson. This is an older text, and the edition I had was organized in a really strange way, but the explanations and glossary are solid.
Introduction to Old English by Peter S. Baker. This book is much more approachable and better for the beginner. It offers clearer grammar details and its organization is much more logical.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I'm Back.

So what could possibly bring me back to this neglected blog? A few things, but mostly a certain exciting announcement by Apple today.

I have been enjoying my tumblr, but it works more as an online scrapbook than actual blog. It feels off to post personal things there instead of photos or quotes, so "Marvelous Things" wins that battle.


Today, Apple announced its latest product, the iPad. All inappropriate jokes about the name aside, it looks relatively intriguing.

1. Very low price point. Even if the cheapest option at $499 has no 3G, it's still pretty impressive.
2. It can run pre-existing iPhone apps AND they don't need to be re-purchased.
3. Accessories available include a full keyboard and stand, which would be essential.

1. Too small and too square. It doesn't even run widescreen video!
2. Unless you're using a stand/dock, it seems really awkward to hold, especially for typing. The angle would be wonky if it was place on a flat surface and typing on your lap, especially while in a car or a train, would be clumsy as well.

Now, the kicker: will this replace the Kindle? It does read books, and very elegantly. The page-turning action is quite nice. Still, it loses in the eBook reader world in one major respect: it's an LCD, not an eink screen. Therefore, it won't work well in the sunlight and it will tire out your eyes after a while. In addition, it looks like the price point for new books will be $12.99-$14.99, versus Amazon's general under-$9.99 price point.

Giles isn't going anywhere. Besides my enjoyment of the device's UI, I've already invested in books from Amazon (though I do get the majority of my books for free, since a lot of them are classics or just public domain). It would take a lot more from Apple to make me switch eReaders. The iPad seems fine for a more casual reader, but it is not a great device for those who intend to do a LOT of electronic reading.

I can't get over how great it is to use the Kindle for both pleasure/free-time reading and assignments for class. Here is its current state, by the way -- I acquired a skin to improve the pasty white border:


and this is the lovely Oberon cover I got for Christmas:


I will be curious to follow the iPad's progress and see how many Apple actually sells. For now, I won't be investing.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

As If I'm Not Hipster-y Enough Already....

OK folks, the show is changing venues. Please visit my all-new, all-singing, all-dancing tumblr for blogging goodness!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

But Where Are The Pages? Some Thoughts on the Kindle & the Impending Apocalypse

This is my Kindle. Its name is Giles (yes, named after that Giles).

First, a bit of background information. I have loved books for the majority of my life (ever since I muddled out how the alphabet worked at a young age). I have read ebooks for about five years now, off-and-on. The platforms on which I have read ebooks are the Palm Zire 71 (what a great PDA that was!), my computer, and this summer, my iPod Touch. None of those reading experiences are comparable to the Kindle, as I will explain.

Most people have one of two reactions to the Kindle: 1) That's amazing! How cool! OR 2) What have you done and why do you want to invoke the end times? There's a sense of outrage, as if by purchasing a dedicated ebook reader, I wish to burn the rain forest and oh yeah, burn the Library of Alexandria again. That is errant nonsense. My commitment to the written word (no matter the manifestation) is why I purchased a Kindle. How can I resist a device that allows me to carry a library wherever I go?

Reading on a Kindle is neither like reading on a computer nor on a PDA. Computers and PDAs and iPhones are light-emitting devices; read on one for a while and then experience that fabulous sinus-shattering feeling from staring at a screen too long. The Kindle's display is electronic ink: that's why it works beautifully in direct sunlight and why reading it at night requires a light source. There's no glare, no dim reflection of your face (and glasses) on the screen. In short, it looks just like paper.

But neither is it like reading the fancy, leather-bound edition of your favourite book. The Kindle doesn't have gilded edges or a ribbon bookmark or a hand-cut bookplate in the front with your name on it. It does have the magic of always remembering your place in the book; the convenience of a built-in dictionary; the charming screensaver images of famous authors and the occasional woodcut or medieval manuscript image when the screen goes to sleep; and the ease of downloading books wirelessly from the internet.

One of the delights about the Kindle is that is does only one thing well: reading. The web browser is amusing to use, as if an abacus had ambitions to become a TI-83 Plus. It's fine for a quick Wikipedia search, but I'd much rather browse the web from my iPod or laptop. The best function on the Kindle is reading itself, not mobile web browsing, but the act of turning (electronic) pages. Such simplicity encourages healthy, productive unitasking, as others have noted. If the web browser were better, I would be tempted to go back and forth from email to books to blogs to websites. As it is, I easily become engrossed whatever text I am reading.

Not everyone loves the Kindle. That's fine with me. And I have my own issues with the device, above all the utter lack of shelves or folders to organize books. However, for now, it's an amazing solution that allows me to carry many books with me everywhere, and that's a wonder to behold.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Something New And Different: The Decemberists concert 06.03.09

and The Decemberists came on stage!

Longtime readers of my blog (hello, immediate family!) will remember that I saw The Decemberists in concert two years ago at the Tabernacle and had an amazing time. When I learned that they were coming back to the Tabernacle this summer, I looked into attending but was set back by the steep price. Due to some lucky circumstances and the intervention of Fate on Wednesday, I was able to attend the concert and had a marvelous time!

Blind Pilot opened the show; I wasn't previously familiar with their work but really enjoyed their set. Unlike the opening act from 2007, the crowd gave them a warm welcome and appreciated their music, rather than booing them offstage.

The main show was very different from the 2007 concert, largely because the setlist was the entirety of The Hazards of Love, their most recent album. I wasn't sure how well this would come off since most audiences are used to a mix of old and new tracks, not an entire new playlist of songs. Well. The Decemberists were joined by Becky Stark as Margaret and Shara Worden as the evil queen, and these ladies did not just sing: they acted their parts with dramatic gestures and costuming. Shara Worden in particular, clad in a short, steel-grey sequined dress, stole everyone's attention each time she swaggered to the front of the stage and belted her lines. Becky Stark set a beautiful contrast, swaying like a fairy princess as she sang of her love for William.

[Becky Stark as Margaret]

After the epic Hazards of Love, the band retreated, leaving the audience to wait hopefully for an encore. It was a long while before the band came back out (this time without Becky or Shara), about 25 minutes. That's not much of a wait unless you are dehydrated (should've stuck a Nalgene in my bag!) and sweaty (yes, I was back in the general admission, standing-only section). In any event, they came back out and did a 10-song encore. I was blown away, since I expected 4 songs, maybe 5 if we were lucky. Here they hit some classic favourites and more recent releases like "The Raincoat Song."

Overall score: 9.8

Setlist -- The Hazards of Love:
The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won't Wrestle the Thistles Undone)
A Bower Scene
Won't Want for Love (Margaret in the Taiga)
The Hazards of Love 2 (Wager All)
The Queen's Approach
Isn't it a Lovely Night?
The Wanting Comes in Waves / Repaid
An Interlude
The Rake's Song
The Abduction of Margaret
The Queen's Rebuke / The Crossing
Annan Water
Margaret in Captivity
The Hazards of Love 3 (Revenge!)
The Wanting Comes in Waves (Reprise)
The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)

July, July
The Bachelor and the Bride
Engine Driver
Shankill Butchers
16 Military Wives (with audience participation)
Dracula's Daughter (a.k.a. the worst song Colin Meloy has ever written, as he explained)
O Valencia!
Crazy on You (awesome 80s cover)
The Raincoat Song
A Cautionary Song

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

OK Fine!

Alrighty, insert standard "sorry I was away" apologies here.

What have I been up to? Let me count the things:

1. I said goodbye to my host family and many dear friends in Tours and Paris. It was very difficult to say goodbye since I have no idea when I will be in France again. The year was incredible and life-changing in ways that transcend all my cliches. I didn't end up writing any "what I will miss in France" entries because I was afraid that I would collapse into a puddle of pitiful emo child, completely unable to make it through to my flight home.

2. I came back home and stayed up for basically 24 hours with no caffeine, fueled by adrenaline at seeing my beloved Davidson family.

3. Being reunited with my parents and siblings (and then my grandparents, a special plus!) was wonderful. Eight months is a long time to be away!

4. My brother, coxswain extraordinaire, had a competition in Oak Ridge the first weekend after I returned home. I was delighted to see the Lightweight Eight take first place!

5. After a little over a week back in the States, I began my summer internship at Paste Magazine. I have loved Paste for four years now, so when I received the offer (after applying in January), I was quite excited about starting out! It has been awesome so far, with a brilliant set of winterns showing the new skinterns the ropes. Words cannot express how thrilled I am to be working there now.

And there you have 5 ever-fascinating things about my life recently.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Travelling, Treking, On ze road again

Today I'm leaving for Paris. Then I'm going to Corsica. Then I'm heading back to Paris. Then I'm coming back to Tours. Then I'm returning to Paris. Then I'm flying to the USofA!

So! During the approximately two weeks in Corsica-Paris-Corsica, I will have limited web or email access, so don't be hopeful for a sudden, miraculous surge of blogging. However, thanks to the magic of Twitter, I can microblog! It's on the sidebar but for those of you who are not sure how the scroll function works on your computer, here is the URL:

Happy microblog reading...