October 26, 2005

Agamemnon, Iphigenaeia and Klytemnestra, oh my!

I've just finished reading Agamemnon, an ancient Greek text (well, the text I read was translated into English but you get the idea), for a class at UBC.

It's not got the same creepy quality as some texts we've covered (like, say, Oedipus the King), but it's heavy stuff.

Agamemnon, on his way to the Trojan War, sacrificed his daughter Iphigenaeia while asea to appease the gods and receive favourable winds for his ships. Ten years and horrible losses later, he returned home to a hate-filled marriage -- in fact, his "long-suffering wife" (Klytemnestra) had long-since shacked up with a lesser man (Aegisthus). She promptly knifed Agamemnon as soon as he got home. The chorus (you know, the omnipresent group of old men that speaks as a group in Greek drama) spends most of the time bemoaning the circle of revenge, asking "when does it end?"

While we didn't have to read further, the sequel to this play has their son, Orestes, come home to avenge his father's death by killing both the murderous wife and her lover.

Anyway, add this to the Iliad of Homer that I'm currently halfway through, and there's a lot of bloodletting, bronze-tipped spears splitting lips, and gilded armour clattering around falling bodies of late.

Anyone suggest a good comedy?

October 19, 2005

Unsure what to feel

I got mugged of all things on Sunday night.

A street guy with screwdriver in hand and a red hoody over his face steered me off the sidewalk as I was on my way to the bank to make a small deposit. (Only $100, so I'm not out much cash...) It all took about twelve seconds, but I've spent three days repeating my story to a couple of different police officers. Needless to say, I've been asked about it a million times at work, too.

No injuries or wounds to report, thankfully -- the police specifically asked, "Are you injured?" -- "No." -- "Wounded. Are you wounded?" -- "No."

When you've just reported an assault, what would the technical difference be between the two of them, do you think? If I had been wounded, wouldn't I have mentioned that upon answering the injury question? "I didn't mention the large, bloody stab wound 'cos you only asked if I was injured."


October 2, 2005

Leacock rocks

Going through some papers, and found some scraps worth sharing before they hit the recycle bin. The first are some notes I took this summer when I was contemplating my return to school. As mentioned here, I have since re-enrolled at UBC; sadly, I'm only enjoying one of my two courses.

Stephen Leacock, Canadian humourist extraordinaire, continues to amaze even 61 years after his passing. No wonder our award for work in funny, capital L literature bears his name.

Two bits of brilliance from the preface of Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, the main text of which is largely considered to be:

I was what is called a distinguished graduate, and, as such, I took to school teaching as the only trade I could find that needs neither experience nor intellect.

Many of my friends are under the impression that I write these humorous nothings in idle moments when the wearied brain is unable to perform the serious labours of the economist. My own experience is exactly the other way. The writing of solid, instructive stuff fortified by facts and figures is easy enough. There is no trouble in writing a scientific treatise on the folk-lore of Central China, or a statistical enquiry into the declining population of Prince Edward Island. But to write something out of one's own mind, worth reading for its own sake, is an arduous contrivance to be achieved in fortunate moments, few and far between. Personally, i would sooner have written 'Alice in Wonderland' than the whole Encyclopaedia Britannica