Thursday, January 9, 2014

A life update, or, hooray, I'm almost done with this round of doctoral exams!

It has been a whirlwind couple of days!  On Monday and Tuesday, I spent literally all day locked in my office writing my doctoral qualifying exams.  Four essays and seven score identifications later, and I'm mostly done with quals, hooray!  I have an oral defense next Monday and then I'll be past this hurdle (and much better prepared to teach musicology).

And in a really mean scheduling twist, the very next day after quals I had another exam.  I'm delighted to report that I passed my Latin language proficiency yesterday, making this one of my most successful weeks in graduate school yet.

So after locating a stack of library books to help me prepare for my oral defense on Monday, I claimed the rest of the afternoon for myself and spent it buried in Elizabeth Wein's companion novel to Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire.  And then in between reading up on Beethoven's Missa solemnis and Rossini's trip to Vienna, and our first choir rehearsal of the semester, I started The Hobbit last night.  I've been meaning to re-read The Lord of the Rings, and my intense disappointment with the latest Hobbit movie (it's really silly, and by really silly, I mean really REALLY silly, and then they start making grenades) inspired me to start with this one first.

My semester technically starts today.  I don't have a class of my own, but will be sitting in on the freshmen seminar for which I'm a TA.  It'll be a nice leisurely day full of preparations for Monday, and my guilt-free fiction yesterday has left me feeling incredibly refreshed.  And perhaps Husband and I will finally get to the Downton Abbey season premiere!

Wish me luck on this last portion of quals!  And now I'm really curious - have any of you seen the second Hobbit film, and if so, what did you think?


  1. Congratulations! What a huge accomplishment!

    1. Thank you! It'll feel more final after I pass the oral part next week...

  2. What a week you've had! Congratulations on your successes, and good luck with the upcoming defense.

    [Haven't seen the latest Hobbit - the reviews make it sound quite bloated and, yes, silly.]

    1. Thank you! I've got some time to prepare and access to library resources, so this part isn't scary.

      Yes, it's quite bloated - too many action sequences, and they all went on a bit too long. And they skipped past a lot of the really good stuff Tolkien wrote (like Beorn!) to make space for them, which was a bummer. That being said, as a huge Tolkien fan, I wasn't going to miss it, and I'll go see the last one in theaters too...

  3. Congrats on all your accomplishments! What a relief to get all that done.

    I saw The Hobbit last weekend, and I actually got visibly and vocally annoyed in the theatre--I suspect the people behind us heard me declare "Oh for crying out loud" when Fili had his near death experience and Tauriel turned up. The thing that was most frustrating about it--and a lot was frustrating--was how they cut back or changed really cool parts, like Bilbo's defeat of the spiders and his puzzling out how to escape the elves in order to include yet another overlong battle sequence. I don't know what I hated most--the barrel sequence (so great in the book), the endless battle in Erebor, the way Smaug was all gray, the way they processed Benedict Cumberbatch's voice so it was unrecognizable, or the pointless love triangle. I thought the first one was overlong, but mostly fun, once I accepted it was Peter Jackson's ramped up epic vision of Tolkien's story. But this movie seemed like a different story entirely.

    Jenny suggested I write a post about it, but I'm pretty sure it would just be a rant, and there are plenty of Hobbit rants online already. It's rant-worthy.

    1. I read an article somewhere about how it was Jackson's Hobbit fanfiction (and not even very good fanfiction), and thought it was an apt description. Did you notice how even when they destroyed a barrel or two, there was magically somehow always another empty barrel for them to jump into? Or the, oh, it must have been a half hour or so sequence of the dwarves going after the dragon, which obviously either meant a half hour of utter pointlessness, or completely destroying the actual plot of the book?

      Also I was ticked that they made Bard a smuggler. I have it in my head that Bard is a fine upstanding member of society, but I wonder if I just misremembered and Bard really isn't a community hero, at least at the start.

      I bet if you wrote a rant, a bunch of us bloggers would enjoy a chance to let out our own frustrations in the comments!

      Finally, I just have to ask - are you (or anyone else reading these comments) familiar with the old animated version of The Hobbit? I was so incredibly bummed that those wonderfully corny songs didn't somehow make it into Jackson's version. There's nothing quite like that choir of basses singing the super 70s-style "Fifteen birds in five firtrees"...