beboots: (Elizabeth)

In the continuing effort to avoid doing more homework (hey, I managed to finish that four-way book review in time to be handed in this morning, okay?), I've decided to write a review of a book that I read last week (again, in an effort to avoid doing homework). 

1632, by Eric Flint, the first in a series. (Note for anybody who knows me in RL: other books in this series besides "The Baltic War" and "The Ram Rebellion", which I already have on my bookshelf, would be an excellent Christmas gift. :D )

First, take a moment to contemplate the awesomeness that is this cover. 

Yes, that is what it looks like. The plot goes thusly: the West-Virginian town of Grantville is displaced in time and place from the year 2000 to the year 1632, essentially dumping them in the middle of the Holy Roman Empire in the midst of the Thirty Years War, one of the most bloody conflicts in European history. 

And lo, it was awesome... )

I want to read this later book in the series just because of the cover: 

Aww yeah! >:D
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"Trying one's best is a good thing, but trying one's patience is a bad thing. A blunt instrument is dull, but a blunt remark is pointed." (seriously, what the hell, English? D: )

A cheerful little story for you guys, also courtesty of Bill Bryson's book "The mother tongue: English and how it got that way": 
Sometimes words are made up for a specific purpose. The U.S. Army in 1974 devised a food called funistrada as a test word during as urvey of soldiers' dietary preferences. Although  no such food existed, funistrada ranked higher in the survey than lima beans and eggplant. Pg. 77.

Status report!

I haven't finished either paper (I haven't even opened the file folder for my history one), but I now have 503/1000 words of my French paper written! :D That's better than yesterday... and is, in fact, like halfway done! (Plus editing time, of course, mustn't get ahead of myself...)

I also had my job interview today. It went... all right, I think. I have no idea if I gave a good enough impression or not. I showed up a bare five minutes early, because I parked my car too far away without realizing, then got lost on foot. Googlemaps showed the place to be right in the middle of an intersection when it was, in fact, down by the river valley, like ten minutes walk away. Go technology! :P So the hems of my pants were wet from scrambling through snowdrifts (I didn't have time to run down four blocks to get to the stairs that led down to the river, so climbed down. It wasn't steep, but damn was the snow deep), and my hair was pretty windblown by the end of it.

There were like a dozen of us applicants there. We were interviewed in groups, and while waiting the rest of us did the written portion... which were pretty much scenario questions - like "You are a barker, write your speech to entice people to come to your booth!" (Barkers = also known as those guys who run carnival games and call you over, like "step right up, step right up!") and stuff like that. We also had a group activity... which was my weakpoint. We were split into three groups, and each of us got a period photograph, and from that photo, we had twenty minutes to come up witha skit. It was crazy. I'm not sure I did too well... Ours was a photograph of a 1920s fair at Greenwhich with a hotdog vendor. I think we did okay... but the other groups did much better. :(

I think the interview went well, though. I hope that it will all work out.

On another note, my Habsburg history prof has been trying to encourage us to listen to classical music for the entire semester, telling us amusing stories about various composers - and of course the majority of what he calls "good" composers are from Central Europe. ;) In any case, because my brother was in the next room, chatting, I was like "GAH I need something to listen to... oh hey yeah classical instrumental music is supposed to be good for you to study to, right?" So I've been raiding youtube for awesome songs... and yeah, I've saved a bunch to my delicious. (Check it: ) They've really been helping, I think.

So what kind of stories was the good Professor Szabo telling us, about these composers? 
For instance, Heiden wrote the Austrian Imperial Anthem after seeing/hearing a crowd in England sing "God Save the King". He felt so moved that he wanted something like that for his own people. He, as an old man, was in Vienna when it was occupied by Napoleon and his troops. Now, the French really respected Heiden, and so he actually got an honour guard of French soldiers. They were so impressed with him, they requested that Heiden play something for them. Heiden, being a shaky old man by this time, sits down at his harpsicord... and plays the Austrian Imperial Anthem. ;)

Oh snap.  
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Colonel Eigher, referring to the surrender of Austria to Napoleon, in the novel "Black Powder War" of the Temeraire series.

I'm rereading this book in particular with fresh eyes, as it deals with the defeat of both Austria and Prussia at the hands of Napoleon, which we have only recently been studying in my Habsburg history class. I love reading and going "OMG there are reluctant Saxon troops! We learned about them in class!" :D

Line of Lanterns by ~Beboots on deviantART

Also, I'm really pleased, because today, I got my results for the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) in the mail... and I passed! Level Three! :D Huzzah!

This means that, according to them, I have apparently "mastered grammar to a limited level, knows around 300 kanji and 1,500 words, has the ability to take part in everday conversation and to read and write simple sentences. This level is normally reached after studying Japanese fora round 300 hours and after completion of an elementary course."

So... I'm pretty much at the level of a six-year-old. Maybe. With less instinct for what "sounds" right and such. Also, I barely passed: I got 64/100 on the writing-vocabulary section, 74/100 on the Listening section (I knew that that section pulled my mark up!) and 119/200 on the Reading-grammar section. I'm pretty sure a pass is like 50%, and I'm not much higher than that... D: Still, even though they are merely numbers and letters on a page, I feel self-satisfied. :)

Also, for the crack-worthy-ness that actually kind of sort of ties my talk of Habsburgs and Japanese together... Have I told you guys about Hetalia yet? It's essentially a manga series (which is now an anime...? Maybe?) that tells European history, but with all of the countries as people. It is adorable.

Cassidy. You know what I'm talking about, right? Right. :) (Also, can you resend me the link to that one hetalia comic you once sent me? I've somehow managed to lose it! ;_; )

Apparently, though, there's controversy, because the next season/book/whatever that's to come out has the adventures of the Axis Powers. Including Nazi Germany. D:

I dunno, my favourite characters are Austria and the Holy Roman Empire (which, fittingly, are two separate characters).

But here is some awesomeness: the Austro-Prussian war, as told by Hetalia, with anthropomorphized Austria and Prussia. These two clips are essentially the same, but with different versions of the song. In this one ( ) the lyrics of the song match the subtitles, thereby making it easier to understand if you know some Japanese. (From what I can get, half of it is "You're an idiot"/"Don't call me an idiot") Also, it is amusing because Austria (which has been around for centuries, if not millenia, btw) speaks pretty politely, whereas Prussia (which is an amalgamation of several German states that used to be under the Habsburgs' jurisdiction, like Austria) is hilariously... not polite. XD The second one is sung better, and it's also pretty funny because Prussia's part is sung by a woman. Yeah. <3 (Also, Austria's lines are more casual. And sung in a sexier manner. Just incidentally.)

Also, skip through the first twenty or so seconds of this clip and see the countries of the world do a dance! :D Including Canada. We have a teddy bear. It's awesome.
beboots: (O RLY?)
Maria Theresa

She was pretty darn cool, I have got to say. A more Austrian predecessor of Queen Victoria. Also the mother of Marie Antoinette. Her correspondance in French to her daughter is a pretty interesting eye-opener, though - it's all about sex. Have you tried this? Or this? That will excite your husband... (Maria Theresa got on Marie Antoinette's case for not having enough children with her husband. The former had sixteen. D: )

Interesting anecdtote from the book "Queen, Empress, Concubine: Fifty Women Rulers from the Queen of Sheba to Catherine the Great": "In October 1762 a six-year-old child prodigy from Salzburg, named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91), played the harpsichord for Maria Theresa, Francis Stephen and their children. The royal family were thrilled by his precocious skill, and one story recounts that he was so exhilarated by his performance that he threw himself into the empress' lap and pledged to marry the young archduchess Marie Antoinette."

Say it with me, everyone: awww... :3

The Way to Bruges by ~Beboots on deviantART

Speaking of ambitious Europeans... in 1668, Lous XIV (yes, the Sun King we've all heard so much about, L'etat c'est moi and all that) was very ambitious, but had just lost a humilating war with Holland. All he got out of like two years of war were a few puny bits of Flanders (incidentally, the region where I studied French this past summer!). He was pissed, and wanted revenge.

But the Dutch had really won the last time because of timely English intervention. So this time, Louis bribed the English to keep their noses out of the whole thing. Then, he invaded the Netherlands in 1672, embarking on a war of revenge. The Dutch, alarmed by all of this, initially offer a very generous peace treaty that would relinquish some of the lands that Louis wanted, but Louis wants the whole pie, so he refuses.

Okay, you know how most of the land in Holland is "reclaimed"? Like, is actually under sea level, and has been reclaimed from the sea by the clever use of dykes? Yeah, so essentially the dutch break the dykes, and flood most of their country. Amsterdam is like, an island. And the French troops can do pretty much nothing - they're infantry, they have no ships...

So, yeah, the Dutch are awesome. Also, because France being all pushy and stuff alarms the rest of Europe ("noooo! Our balance of power!" D: ), pretty much anybody sympathetic to the French allies against them. Including the English. Apparently the French didn't bribe them enough. ;) And they bring the Swedes with them. Oh those crazy Swedes.

... I've been studying diligently for my History 310: history of the Holy Roman Empire midterm, can you tell? :D

Oh, and for the crack-worthiness, check this comic out: Can you say... the history of Europe as portrayed by anthropomorphized countries, as written by a Japanese manga artist?
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(Subject line = exerpt from the chapter on the Thirty Year's War in one of my Habsburg history class textbooks ("The Habsburg Monarchy: 1618-1815" bgy CHarles Ingrao, if you want to know.)

That quote details the confrontation between some protestant dudes and the catholic representatives in Prague in 1618:

"Following a heated exchange they hurled both men, plus their secretary, out of a window. As the three men fell sixty feet into the dry moat below, one of the conspirators taunted them by exclaiming "See if your Virgin Mary will help you now!" The survival of all three men, two with only superficial injuries, prompted a flurry of pamphlets claiming that eyewitnesses had seen angels swooping out of the heavens to break their fall to earth. Whether by divine intervention or sheer luck the three had, in fact, survived the celebrated Defenestration of Prague by falling onto a pile of manure that had been dumped directly under a window." (pg. 30)

:3 Heehee - defenestration. <3

And now for something completely different:


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April 2011

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