Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I'm a strange combination of extremely busy and lazy right now, so I'm relying on UCF memes for posts. Normally I let memes slide by, but after reading Eric's book post, I decided that doing the book meme from my office might elicit something strange, if not humorous.

Here's the meme:

1. Take five books off your bookshelf.
2. Book #1 -- first sentence
3. Book #2 -- last sentence on page fifty
4. Book #3 -- second sentence on page one hundred
5. Book #4 -- next to the last sentence on page one hundred fifty
6. Book #5 -- final sentence of the book
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph....

OK, but I have to warn you that the only non-science books I have in my office are for studying foreign languages:

Однажды весною, в час небывало жаркого заката, в Москве, на Патриарших прудах, появились два гражданина. Что, однако, резко отличает его от товарищей по работе -- это то, что на всех этапах его пути его сопровождают слухи об интригах, о нарушении дисциплины, о самоуправстве, о клевете на товарищей, даже о доносах полиции на соперников. それはどな用事でしたか。所長から聞いた。先制は何も言わずに教室を出て行かれた。

One unseasonably hot spring day, at the hour of sunset, two citizens appeared in the Park of the Patriarch's Ponds in Moscow. What, however, sharply distinguishes him from his comrades in arms - is that every step of his way is accompanied by rumors about intrigues, breach of discipline, arbitrariness, slander of his comrades, even about betrayal of his rivals to the police. On what matter was he summoned? The head of the institute had written. The teacher left the classroom without saying a word.

1. Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
2. Portraits of the Revolutionaries by Lev Trotsky
3. Office Japanese by Hajime Takamizawa
4. Japanese, the Written Language Prt 2 by Eleanor Harz Jordan and Mari Noda (spit - I hate hate hate Jordan's teaching methods)
5. Japanese verbs at a Glance by Naoko Chino

OK, I learned a couple of things. First, this kind of exercise is far easier with Japanese where the topic of conversation is set once a paragraph or so, and sentences thereafter are usually subjectless, and can be fit into all kinds of patterns when taken out of context. Second, I also learned that if you take random sentences out of my library, even if the flow is a bit broken, it sounds really, really sinister. Well, what can you expect, I study Russian, Japanese, and Chinese. That is vaguely sinister, when you think about it.


Eric said...

It sounds like an uncanny mixture of Graham Greene and Franz Kafka, actually.

Not bad.

Ilya said...

... books I have in my office are for studying foreign languages:

Однажды весною...

The opening line from Master & Margarita is so recognizable, that it took me a while to process that by "studying" you did not necessarily mean "textbooks".


John the Scientist said...

Yeah, well Trotsky is not exactly a textbook for me either, given my capitalist pig tendencies. :D

Jim Wright said...

My response to the meme is up on Polybloggimous.

I'm too lazy to do it again, or cut and paste it here. Plus Nathan needs the traffic.

Jim Wright said...

Hey! Where the hell are you guys?

C'mon, CW, give me an aerospace post, Orion (the original bang bang Orion) or the DC Clipper or something.

And John, Don't make me mention WLW because I will.

CW said...

I've been really tied up lately, but have been trying to get something together. Jim you want a post on the P-3? I can probably handle that. I'll have to get out the photo albums and scan some pics...

John the Scientist said...

Jim, I working on something, but I'm out of town. The "something" does concern WLW in an indirect way, so your threats are empty to me. :p