Monday, June 29, 2009

Preen for the External Fuel Tank

Gives new meaning to blast off!

and give the comments a lookie...I loved this one:

"women in science always seem to get the shaft"

Friday, June 26, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

6 of 6, or Austen Again

And Elinor gets her bumbling Mr. Ferrars in the end. Sigh.

My delicious treat of an Austen marathon is complete. Delights, they abound.

And because I apparently have turned my blog into a plug for Keith Law's blog I am going to offer a counter-point to his number 3. Now, any Austen is better than no Austen at all but I think we all remember that Emma is my least favorite. Obviously KLaw and I disagree but my point of contention is not with our varying book tastes. But I'm not so sure on that character development thing. I would agree that Emma is the most changed of any Austen character by the end of her novel but I don't see character development as only being reflected in how the character itself develops. I think the author developing a character with whom the Reader can empathize is an equally impressive and useful skill. This I think Austen has in spades.

If you've read any Austen then you probably already know that any character's, er, character is pretty much established within a couple pages of meeting them. Often there are misunderstandings that lead to the Reader being in the dark about some aspect of a character (behold the mighty power of the romance formula) but that's about as subtle as it gets. But each character is fully developed in her/his self. By this I mean that in all situations presented the character is always the character. They don't go off willy-nilly in some direction you would never expect of them. They are entire, complete and ready to face any situation as themselves.

And let's face it, most of the action of Austen's novels occurs over a very short period of time and involves a bunch of people without real jobs that are only looking to get married; how much changing development can you get?

Hmmm, interesting...sarcasm aside I pose this question in earnest. How much development, as in a change in the character as they grow with circumstances, can authentically happen in less than a year with a very limited circle of existence?

"Who Has?"

When an interviewer told Mr. [Joseph] Heller that he had never written anything as good as ''Catch-22,'' the author shot back, ''Who has?''


In point of fact, it is an excellent book!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gender Bender

In a funny coincidence after yesterday's post I came by this and my attention was most especially caught by the following:

Was [Margaret] Mitchell so locked in to developing her heroine that she left her male characters all half-formed or even caricatures? Was she unable to gross [sic] the gender chasm and create a compelling male character? With only one other completed novel during her lifetime, which she wrote as an adolescent, we’ll never get the answer to this. Reasons aside, that flaw keeps the book from greatness.

My first thought was 'how does it feel?' but I haven't read enough of Law's book reviews as they relate to characterization to be able to say that fairly. It's quite possible he's sensitive to any and all under usage of main characters; especially when those main characters are so important to the story. Regardless, it's nice to see that I'm not the only one that gets irked when a character becomes a caricature.

I haven't read Gone With the Wind in years but it was the first book over 1000 pages that I read and I remember becoming so engrossed that I read it in less than a week. I was 15 or 16 at the time. I also really enjoy the movie. I read the book a second time and enjoyed it then as well. Always a good sign if a book holds up to re-reads. Law is right in that there's some serious *ism issues that may or may not make a reader uncomfortable.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Schlubby Everydude"

I can't tell you how many times I've bitched about ugly/fat/nerdy/etc male protagonists cast opposite beautiful/thin/perfect non-interesting female caricatures. I've also cried foul quite often over ONE female character being cast amongst 20gazillion male characters and then the movie getting a pat on the back for progressiveness. I'm not asking Hollywood for unrealistic minority plugging (we've got enough tokens, it's time to move on) like, say, casting half of a boys' school movie with girls just to be fair, but there's no reason not to make ALL the characters interesting, male or female. A cardboard cut-out of a character is no fun, especially when they are turned into a 15 year old's wet dream.

Also, Hollywood, be ever so kind as to not make the female characters "better" by giving them masculine qualities because that's what makes them "cool." Characters; no matter their gender, race, age, etc; are interesting because they have strengths, weaknesses, goals, fears, and secrets - just like real people - NOT because they have a few masculine qualities haphazardly assigned to them for plot convenience.

I'm not the only one to feel this way: check this out!

And please, for the love of all that is bedecked with Everest-like boobs and rock-hard abs, do not subject the Heroine to the ugly doofus "Hero!" What the fuck? If the woman be gorgeous let the man be gorgeous too! It's only fair!

Emma, finally I have the Like

I never found the Emma Love but this recent reading of Jane Austen's Emma has been my favorite so far. Which is to say I did not find it a chore. It's always been my least favorite of her novels because Emma drives me nuts. And not in a fun, lovable way but in a when-is-someone-going-to-gag-Emma kind of way. And Harriett, ugh, get a spine! Mr. Knightley is darling, of course, but Austen knows how to do a hero.

So what made this reading better?

I tried very hard not to check out. I'm not the sort of person that finishes every book she starts, and I can speed read so if a book is only mildly interesting I usually start to speed read. In fact, the highest compliment I can give a book is to read every word. There are books I love and have read over, but have probably not read every word. Only if a book scores tops on all the important components will I read every word.

So for this reading of Emma I didn't check out when she started driving me nuts. In fact, I was still checked in halfway through the book and that's when it began to pick up for me. Emma was actually pretty funny when she started to gain a sense of humor about herself.

I've not been able to form any kind of theory as to why this Austen seems to be so popular with male critics especially so if anyone would like to propose one I'm all ears! I suppose the 'humbling of the pretty girl' plot is quite popular but using that as a reason seems incredibly insulting to male readers, and all readers really.

I've already mentioned that I like the movie Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam) and I distinctly remember describing it as quiet and slow, but lacking nothing in essentials. I stand by this but if you watch the movie directly after finishing the book it zips right by! It pretty accurately depicts many scenes from the book but since it's only 2hrs long those scenes come rapid fire if you've just finished the book. One thing I do think the movie lacks is more boning-on-Emma scenes courtesy of Frank Churchill. In the book I can really get a sense of his bad behavior but in the movie not so much.

I'm now on Sense and Sensibility (6 of 6 in my reading order) and I might even peruse Lady Susan (finally!). But no need to wait on my batting order of Austen novels:

1/2. Persuasion
Pride & Prejudice
3. Northanger Abbey
4. Sense and Sensibility
5. Mansfield Park
6. Emma

My 1/2 is cheating a bit but I go back and forth on those two as my favorites. I do know why they are my favorites and why N. Abbey comes in a solid third: H and H scenes! Romances are fun because we see the heroine and hero together. Of course they need to be separated for most of the story because that's the formula but they should only be separated in love not in actuality. I want to see why they love each other, if they're never around each other I never get any sense of their need to be with each other. I want the interaction, I want to see them seeing each other. I want to fall in love with them too and I can't do that if one or the other is never around to fall in love with.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Top Ten Movie List

In no particular order:

Stranger Than Fiction
Galaxy Quest
Office Space
Braveheart
Moulin Rouge
The Matrix
The Princess Bride
Gattaca
Tombstone
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Cheers/jeers anyone?

Austenland

As they say at Pemberley, I blame Jane! But I can hardly be angry. :) I'm marathoning through her six novels. I've read them all but never in a row. I can eat these up like candy because they always make me laugh. Except for Emma...I always stumble on Emma.

This time, though, I decided to give her a fair chance. I'm trying to really pay attention and find the Emma love. I've been inspired to give her more of a chance due to the critical acclaim Emma often gets and, very interestingly to me, especially with men. Northanger Abbey almost always gets the shaft but I'd rather read it three times over before Emma. And here I am again stuttering over Emma. In my haphazard order Emma is 5 out of 6. I read the first 4 in less than two weeks and I've been on Emma for almost a week now. It's so hard for me to stick with it. I'm going to wait until I've completed it before I go into what it is I dislike...maybe my mind will be changed by the time I finish this reading.

As a movie, I adore Emma. Jeremy Northam kicks some major ass as Mr. Knightley (so dreamy and sexy) and Gwyneth Paltrow makes me feel that Emma love I'm always looking for. Her portrayel is perfect, her Emma is equal parts ridiculous, naive, and genuine. You want to gently wring her neck in the beginning and then it's all smiles when she finally steps a bit outside of herself by the end. It's a gorgeous movie. It's slow and quiet but missing nothing in essentials.

And if you're in the mood for some Austen but you don't have the time to read all the novels I suggest this and this to get your fix!

Nice Cover!

I'm all about the videos lately...and here's another great one!




And they're famous!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lovely

Birds! Birds! Birds!



My favorite part? The bird for the the bird.


hat tip: The!TOT

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

Best. News. Ever!

The ultimate authoress will soon be available again for our reading pleasure. Go here and scroll to page 9. The blurb is slightly SPOILERISH so read at your own risk!