This good day — 29.11.2007 — of mine began its goodness at 02.00, when I finished my NaNoWriMo novel.
Yes, it’s finished now, and sadly still all in Finnish, so I can’t share it here. Now “only” proofreading and the fixing of plot holes and stupid mistakes remain. There are plenty of those in 57,206 words — that’s the amount that the grand official word-counter tells me, though my own word processor doesn’t get quite so high a number.
That must be because of the occasional LaTeX tags — I am not going to let my novel end as a doc-ument, but rather as a nicely sleek pdf, lovingly typeset by the king of mathematical and other typesetting, which is of course… er, I mentioned LaTeX already so it would be unstylish to repeat it… but seems I did anyway. Rats.
Well, the good day then took a small downward dip, as the next thing I knew was waking up four hours after I planned to — the deep sleep of the wicked released from bondage, maybe. I hiked a bus ride — well, hike is the wrong word, as bussing around costs € 2.70 around here in Euro-Finland. (If you see a weird symbol in the previous sentence, it is either an ‘a’ or the euro sign.)
You know, I have to cut down the amount of detail or this day won’t end up sounding as good as it was.
So I ended up in the city center, and found my bike there, happily unmolested, and after a bit of careful examination I rode it to the university. This was so because yesterday it had acted up a bit, the rear wheel making strange sounds and tending to stick a little bit, and did not want to end up at my front door, five kilometers from the bicycle repairman, with a broken bike. I’ve pushed — and once half-carried — it there several times too many, since the local bus drivers can, at times, be callously insensitive and sharp-eyed pricks that simply won’t believe that what you have is an unusual handbag and not a bike you’d wish to bring with you.
Come to think about it, maybe all my woes trace their beginning from bus drivers. I must investigate this matter.
Well, the bike worked just fine, and even the weather was nice — a little bit of fluffy snow falling, and the roads covered with white that wasn’t slippery or even crunchy. Even if I was late, my advisor hadn’t noticed anything, or if he had, he still was right as rain and happy — well, thinking about it, this might not be an entirely positive thing.
Anyway, I took up my current headache, all 50+ pages of it, and spent a positively pleasant hour whining about how I don’t understand anything about anything at all. He was patient as always, and I left, high on adrenalin as always, and spent several hours banging my computer, doing more work on this math writing-piece of mine than I usually do in a day. (This writing-piece is just a collected translation into Finnish of a handful of research articles whose content Dear Advisor thinks I should know. You know, there are some things men are not meant to know.)
Then I jumped back on my bike — it still didn’t break — and went to visit Fantasiapelit, the local heaven of those that traffic in Magic: the Gathering, roleplaying games, tabletop wargames and/or manga. I’ve done the first two with plenty of gusto before, but lately (say the previous four or five years) I just haven’t been able to find the time, will or company. That’s a shame, especially for roleplaying, since it’s the purest and best application of imagination into communal activity that I can think of, though I must admit that to make this nice expression stand I really didn’t think that hard.
The reason for visiting the shop was bending the shelves that contain my manga — Japanese comics, and I recommend! — even further. I exited with the final volume of Death Note, and one of Hikaru no Go. I recommend those, too: beautiful to behold, nice to hold, exciting to read, and entertaining to contemplate. I also asked after a volume, wondering if I could get it before Yuletime comes, and so it happens that I will probably get it tomorrow, as I had been asking for it before, and they had ordered it.
Most times I just shuffle in, look at the shelves a bit, and then ask: “Uh, sorry to bother you, but have I ordered anything?”
Then — oh, this tyranny of sequentialism! — I nipped to a supermarket and bought two presents for the coming festival, and delighted a duo of pretty high school girls that were asking for money for their school trip in exchange for services — no, this is nothing laviscious, no matter how much any of us so wish — the services being wrapping gifts rather beautifully, and asking for a donation. They were delighted because I gave generously; I always do, be it money from my pocket, or noxious fumes from somewhere else on my body.
I also picked up a couple of LP records, mostly because they were cheap — 3 or 4 euros — and since the combination of Luca Turilli and the LP player my father has somewhere sounds fetching nice for the Winterfeast of December.
Then followed the main attraction of the day, and my reward for myself for finishing the novel a day early: the Neil Gaiman-cowritten movie Beowulf.
It was a bit weird at first, being fully computer-animated and aspiring for realism (like the Final Fantasy movie of years ago), but it worked. After the first few minutes I couldn’t tell the difference unless I really tried, and not always even then. The plot was something like the old poem it’s based on, and it was exciting, beautiful, pleasing, humorously rude at times, and altogether a joy to watch. It didn’t even have any discomfortingly stale Hollywood tripe in it, and I, as a slimy atheist, was even pleased by the rather brusquely historical references to Christianity in it.
So: If you want to see a movie, if you need to see a good movie, if you want to see digital witchcraft, or a modern version of an old tale that still sounds and feels real: go watch Beowulf. It has a good story, it looks gorgeous, and it has Neil Gaiman and Anthony Hopkins in it! What more could you ask?
Well, that of course, but it actually does have a mostly-nude Angelina Jolie in it. So go already!
I haven’t seen any reviews of it, but since it was made with new technology and (oh dear!) had a dragon in it, the reviewers must have rather disapproved. To this the probable drop of Viking-blood in me says: Sod them all! Oh, and the movie had all of the poem’s three foes: Grendel, its mother, and the Dragon. And it wasn’t just a dumb tale of hero comes, hero wins, but something a lot deeper and better. In some ways different from the poem, sure, but not worse.
The poem’s a nice read too, and the Finnish translation I read some years ago was downright mesmerizing. Mesmerizing — well, I don’t mean it made me think I’m a duck.
I chuckle with gleeful anticipation when I think of what digital moviemaking such as this can soon do, because the answer seems to be: anything, and that is anything done cheap. That’s not a loss, you know, no more than cheap food or cheap books are necessarily any worse than expensive ones.
So, all in all, it was a very good day for me. I hope yours was good as well. (If it wasn’t, make tomorrow better and go see Beowulf!)