Friday, November 29, 2013

Laid up

So I had out-patient surgery on Monday (nothing too, too serious).  The hardest part for me was following the doctor's orders of two days of bed rest (well that and icing the area for 20 minutes every hour -- or 33% of my waking hours!).

Even with all the many things I have to distract me, I found myself growing very restless, and I did make a short trip outside for a walk on the second day.  (I mean how many more days without rain will we have in Vancouver?)  I think there are people who can retire to bed and pretty much have no problem staying there: Proust's narrator's great-aunt Mme. Octave and indeed Proust himself turned into bed-ridden invalids, the enervated Oblomov and Charlie's grandparents.  However, some do recover like Charlie's grandfather and Aunt Ada from Cold Comfort Farm (at least I think she started out bed-ridden).  Other people start climbing the walls after a day or two.  I definitely fall in the latter category.  I suspect that my need to be out and about will either truly hasten my recovery from anything that lays me out, or will simply hasten the end (the candle burning too bright and all that).  But that's not such a bad thing (maybe).  I really don't want to be languishing in bed for years on end (do I?).

Anyway, I still need to take it easy and can't run or exercise for a few more days, but I'm definitely on the mend.

So I didn't do everything I wanted, but I got a bit done. I did read Henri Alain-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes.  This my first time reading an entire novel as an epub file.  It went ok, though I still prefer reading printed books, esp. since I still do so much reading on buses and trains.  Nonetheless, inspired by this reasonably positive experience, I downloaded a few classics from Project Gutenberg and will probably join this group reading Middlemarch this Dec.  I really disliked the ending of The Mill on the Floss, so I'll be curious if I like Middlemarch better; quite a few critics thought Middlemarch was Eliot's best novel.

I also wrapped up Mad Puppetstown by Molly Keane.  It was ok, but Taking Chances was definitely the better novel.  I made some progress on Carlo Emilio Gadda's That Awful Mess on Via Merulana, which is ok, but I don't really see what all the fuss is about (at one point it was hailed as a major, modernist masterpiece).  I also read about half of Robert Walser's Berlin Stories.  I find him a bit droll but dated (certainly not laugh-out-loud funny the way Kafka apparently did).  A good comparison is the short films of Robert Benchley that were (apparently) howlingly funny in their day and are greeted mostly with indifference now.  I did not make substantial progress on Proust...

I listened to quite a few classical music CDs and have reduced the number of box sets that I ordered but hadn't listened to.  Still have got a long way to go.  I had hoped to watch a couple of movies, but only made it through Bela Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies.  For some reason, I had thought it was set in the Nordic countries, but it is actually set in Hungary.  This makes more sense (Finns or Swedes wouldn't be that worked up over a whale carcass).  I have to say I didn't think it held together all that well.  Why would the army hold off from arresting the "Prince" before his followers created such chaos? After all, they had already trashed another village before coming to this one.  I mean one could argue that the Police Chief definitely exploited the chaos, but he really didn't have to wait until the followers attacked.  It's hard to pinpoint exactly what I didn't like, but it just didn't work for me.  (I did think Tarr pretty much abused the soundtrack in a very Hollywood way, relying on musical cues to carry the story, which I think is just lazy.)  It does make me remember that art house cinema can be kind of boring and that a bit more structure (and quicker pacing) usually pays off.  I think Bergman had it just about right most of the time.  Indeed, Bergman's Winter Light is the next film I plan to watch, followed shortly by Kurosawa's Ikiru. 

I really will need to find more time to get through these films I've been collecting.  It is definitely the worst (compared to books and music) in terms of just squirreling them away for a rainy day, which never comes.  Perhaps the only good thing about watching Werckmeister Harmonies all the way through is that it has (at least temporarily) dissuaded me from ordering a couple of box sets from of Theodoros Angelopoulos (another director in love with long films that I surely would watch one time only).

Towards the end of my convalescence, I managed to get my old, old, old computer working again, and have the record player set up to transfer over some LPs that I have picked up over the last 2 years.  I should be mostly done with this next week, and then I will look into transferring the video we have shot onto DVD.  It has been 5+ years since I have done this, however, and I don't remember all the steps.  Hopefully, it will come back to me soon.

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