Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare

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Summary: (spoilers) When Bassanio asks his merchant friend Antonio for money to court the fair Portia, his friend agrees wholeheartedly. Only he doesn’t have the money to lend. So he borrows from Shylock, with the understanding that if Antonio forfeits, Shylock can choose to get a pound of Antonio’s flesh instead.Antonio assures Bassino that he has some ships that are sure to bring in the money soon. Bassanio takes the money and goes to woo and eventually win Portia. Meanwhile, Antonio’s ships go astray, leaving him with no finances. Shylock demands his pound of flesh, and the judge hears his case. Bassanio returns to Venice for the hearing, bearing three times the amount Antonio owns – because Portia is rich. Shylock refuses the money because he wants his pound of flesh. Unbeknownst to Bassanio, Portia follows him, dressed like a man. Portia comes to the hearing bearing a letter from a powerful lawyer friend. The letter says she is a young lawyer. Portia argues that Shylock, indeed, should get his pound of flesh, but he must do so without shedding even a drop of blood – since that is not in the contract. If Shylock sheds a drop of blood, he will be executed for murder. Defeated, Shylock asks for his money, which Portia says he can not take because he has refused it in open court. Furthermore, she says that since Shylock has tried to murder Antonio, he has forfeited his lands – half to Antonio and half to the government – and Shylock’s life is at the mercy of the Duke. The Duke Spares his life. Shylock leaves in humiliation and despair. There was much rejoicing.

My thoughts: Wow. This was so anti-Semitic! I know it was written in a different time, but it made me cringe all the way through. Plus, I’m not sure exactly why this is considered a comedy rather than a drama? I didn’t find it very funny. I understand that this was a different time, and anti-Semitism was accepted at the time, and that I should view the play through that lens. But it was pretty hard to do that. I am thoroughly tainted by my own time, I guess. 🙂 Otherwise, of course, this was a fantastic bit of literature. Obviously, it is a very powerful story. It contains “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” speech, which has a moving message.

3 and half snowflakes

Weekly Update Week 54

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I call this one: Baby’s First Mirror Selfie

Well, this week was hard as far as feeding M went. We got into an ill-advised power struggle with him on Thursday over eating his corn, kept him up till 10:30 at the dining room table, and lost. He didn’t eat the corn, and we didn’t want to keep him up all night because the whole point is keeping him healthy. So we came up with a new plan – we thought that perhaps his reason for not wanting to eat is so he could gain a little control over his life. So we are alternating between family members about who chooses meals. We hope that the increased control will encourage him to eat more. So far, it has made little difference, but we’ve only had four meals since that decision…and he never finishes breakfast. He also ate way too much junkfood between lunch and dinner because it was our very first D&D day! Yay!

Aaron was the Dungeon Master, and M, D, my friend Liz, and I were the players. We used pre-made characters for simplicity’s sake. I am a dwarf cleric, Liz was a halfling rougue, M was a elf wizard and D was a human warrior. We played about half of a pre-written adventure in which the four of us were taking a wagon of goods to sell in a big town when we were beset by goblins. Due to D’s winning a dice throw against Liz, we decided to go up the garbage chute and snuck up on the boss-fight from behind. Liz’s character is close to death, but luckily we have a healing potion to give her. We’ll find out what happens next in two weeks.

As for today’s blizzard, so far it is quite unimpressive. There is wind, and it blew some snow around last night, but we have fantastic visibility at the moment.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading

Given Up On

Acquired

I found Origins of Political Order too boring for my tastes. I could tell it was a well-written book, and maybe I’d have done better reading it rather than listening to it. But I realized I wasn’t hearing a thing because my mind kept wandering off, so I quit. I never actually started Taming of the Shrew.  I watched the movie in preparation of reading it – and then I remembered how totally AWFUL Petruchio was to Katherine. How could I have found that funny when I was a teenager?

Completed

Completed

Citizen is the only book I finished on my own. The two Dragon Masters books were read to me by M (and I figured that counts, since reading to me is exactly what an audiobook does – and I have to pay more attention when M is reading so I can catch words that he doesn’t know).

Kid’s Books Week 54

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Adorable book about snail mail (delivered by snails). The ending really made me laugh. Very cute.

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Classic story about a little girl who needs to get an appendectomy and the hospital is so cool that all her friends want one too.

5 snowflakes

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Cute book about a kid who wants his monster to win the best monster pet award.

four snowflakes

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Story about a rude little monster who bursts into Mrs. Mo’s house and starts eating everything.

four snowflakes

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Story about a little girl who loves to look at the stuff in grandma’s purse.

3 and half snowflakes

Burning Magic, by Joshua Khan

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Summary: Third book of the Shadow Magic series. Lily and Thorn travel to the Sultanate of Fire to visit K’leef and see the coronation of his brother. However, when things go badly, K’leef is sent on a dangerous quest and his friends go along to help.

My thoughts: I am really enjoying this series. The story is fun and adventurous, the characters are funny and intelligent, the world is well-constructed. I would highly recommend this book to people who enjoy middle grade fantasy (or to kids ages 9-11 who enjoy fantasy). But do start on the first book in the series, Shadow Magic.

4 and half snowflakes

Einstein’s Cosmos, by Michio Kaku

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Summary: This book was a mixture between an abbreviated biography of Albert Einstein and a discussion of how he came up with his theories. It is pretty good at explaining any physics that it included in the book, and was not at all difficult to understand for a complete layperson on the subject.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It’s my second book by Kaku, and I plan on reading more of his work. His science is quite approachable and he keeps to interesting topics.

Update Week 53

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IL is bundled up…

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M is reading his Dogman books. Yes, I had to zoom in on him when he was unaware, so it could have been better lighting. 🙂

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Aaron watching The Two Towers with IL sleeping.

I couldn’t decide which of these three pictures to use as a topper, so I decided on all of them. The last couple of weeks have gone well, though not much has happened worth mentioning. Last night, I had a Librarything meetup with an internet friend coming in from Chicago. We went to Surly Brewery for dinner.

 

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That’s us at the Brewery.

This weekend, Aaron and I will spend doing so much paperwork…so much. And the following week should be quiet. Looking forward to getting some reading and housework done.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading

Completed

Completed

I finished two audiobooks over the last two weeks…both very good. I also finished reading The Tail of Emily Windsnap to D.

Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare

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Summary: Contains Spoilers – The twins Viola and Sebastian are separated when their ship capsizes on the sea. Each thinking the other is dead, they make do as best they can. In order to protect herself while alone in a foreign land, Viola dresses up as a boy and names herself Cesario. She places herself as a manservant of Duke Orsino, with whom she quickly falls in love. In turn, Orsino is in love with the beautiful Countess Olivia. He sends “young Cesario” to Olivia on several occasions, hoping that the youth will win Olivia’s love for him. Unfortunately for everyone, Olivia falls in love with Cesario. Then, of course, in walks Sebastian who looks just like his sister Viola when disguised as Cesario. Olivia pounces upon Sebastian thinking he is Cesario, and that the youth will again rebuff her. But to her surprise, Sebastian quite happily accepts her advances and they get married – without Sebastian doing more than idly wondering why Olivia is in love with him. Of course, Olivia thinks she’s married to Cesario, and tells Duke Orsino this. He gets all upset until, lo and behold, everyone realizes their mistake, Orsino marries Viola, and everyone (excepting a character not yet named) lives happily ever after.

For comic relief of something that is already comic enough, there is a side-story of Olivia’s steward Malvolio. He is quite the proud man, and believes that he is quite worthy of everyone falling madly in love with him. When Olivia’s other servants (along with her uncle) play a trick on Malvolio by dropping a forged letter which convinces Malvolio that Countess Olivia is in love with him, he begins to court Olivia in a very comic fashion. She, thinking he’s mad, tells her uncle to take care of him. Her uncle throws him in a dark room, and treats him like a raving madman.

My thoughts: When I was a teenager and read all of Shakespeare’s plays, this (along with Much Ado About Nothing) stood out as my favorite comedy.  Reading it again, I definitely enjoyed it, but in a different way. I feel that all this ridiculous falling in love instantly, the Duke suddenly changing his mind and deciding he’s in love with Viola instead of Olivia, and Sebastian marrying Olivia without any idea of whether she’s mad or has mistaken him for someone else was a bit over the top. I mean, it was still hilarious, but I couldn’t romanticize it like I did when I was a teen. I also felt very sorry for Malvolio. Yes, he was a bit of a prig, but he got worse than he deserved. Overall, I loved the story and thought it was hilarious, but I will probably more highly value some of Shakespeare’s other comedies.

Movies: I watched two versions of Twelfth night before listening to the audiobook.

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They were both pretty good, though I liked the 1996 version (right) slightly more than the 2018 version. I tend to prefer movies that stay true to the timeline rather than modernizing – which the 2018 version did to a certain extent. Otherwise, there were certainly both worth watching!