Posts

Showing posts from 2019

Aladdin 2019 - Reaction (No Spoilers!)

Image
A couple of months ago I mentioned I was looking forward to two Disney remakes this year, Aladdin and The Lion King.

Well, my siblings and I just got back from Aladdin, and I was not disappointed!   It's funny, beautiful, moving, and action-packed.  Dare I say it??  I like it better than the cartoon original.

It is also my favorite Disney remake so far, even more than Beauty and Beast, my previous favorite.   Aladdin stays true to its origin - a story of adventure, humor, and romance - and doesn't try to be more than a good, old-fashioned kid's movie.  (Yes, Jasmine has her own song and subplot, but it fits her character arc and doesn't seem incongruous.)

So if you have any reservations, I say give it try, you may be pleasantly surprised!

12 Rules for Life - Part 3 of 3

I've decided to share these quotes in the order they appear in the book, plus occasional commentary. All quotes are from the 2018 hardcover edition.

Key:
plaintext - Worthy quotesbold - Favorite quotesitalics - Quotes I disliked 12 Rules for Life: Best and Worst Quotes The dominance hierarchy is not capitalism.  It's not communism, either, for that matter . . . We (the sovereign we, the we that has been around since the beginning of life) have lived in a dominance hierarchy for a long, long time. (p. 14) - Agreed, seems pretty self-evident.

. . . the familiar Western images of the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child and the Pietà both express the female/male dual unity, as does the traditional insistence on the androgyny of Christ.  (p. 42) - "traditional insistence on the androgyny," what is he talking about?

You should take care of, help and be good to yourself the same way you would take care of, help and be good to someone you loved and valued. (p. 62)

. . . a villain…

12 Rules for Life - Part 2 of 3

Image
"No one could stand up for communism after The Gulag Archipelago - not even the communists themselves." (12 Rules for Life, p. 310)

I would like to think that's true.  Unfortunately, admiration for Joseph Stalin is, by all appearances, far from dead.  The mass murderer has been rebranded as a WWII hero first and dictator second. While not all Russians subscribe to that narrative, there are some who are nostalgic for the USSR.

I once briefly dated someone who felt that way.  It wasn't apparent on first impressions, but, as we got to know each other better, I learned he was an ardent Stalinist, fully heroizing Stalin and believing all the bad to be exaggerations, lies, or American propaganda, or (barring all that) nothing any worse than what U.S. presidents had done.  Though born in a former Soviet republic, he was not really old enough to remember life in the Soviet Union, yet to him it seemed to be a Golden Age he'd missed out on.

There is really no arguing with…

12 Rules for Life - Part 1 of 3

Image
So... I have this get it back to the library ASAP (fines are accruing), but I can't seem to write a short review.  I tried, I really did, but it's hopeless.  Here is Part 1, and I hope to have Part 2 up tomorrow.


First, some background...
Jordan Peterson
As I mentioned in a previous post, my purpose in reading this book was to see what the fuss was about.  Peterson, a professor at the University of Toronto (and formerly at Harvard and McGill), has become a controversial figure in recent years, for voicing his views on forms of political correctness which he sees as threatening to freedom of speech.  It's a long story which you can read about on Wikipedia, and I only mention it to give some context.  Peterson, whose YouTube lectures attract millions of followers, went on two years after the publicity to publish his 2018 book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.  This book became a huge bestseller.

Why read the book if you can watch the videos?  I'll be honest, thou…

On Fictional Violence and Naming Children

Image
Note: Contains Game of Thrones Season 8 spoilers

(Note 2: I never thought I would be doing a post on Game of Thrones, but here I am.  Never say never.)


When I first heard about this book/TV franchise, it was years ago, still in the early days of the TV series.  At first I was interested, because a lot of people were comparing it to The Lord of the Rings, and aesthetically there is some similarity.  I read some Amazon reviews of the books (as I usually do) and was a bit disturbed to hear the series is full of heinous, macabre scenes, including frequent sexual violence.  I always pass on that kind of content and decided not to read it.  Frankly, I also expected the hype would fizzle out sooner rather than later.

Well, hindsight being 20/20, I was completely wrong, and enthusiasm for the series catapulted into eight TV seasons.  I've been observing the franchise's progress from afar and, thanks to the media, wasn't allowed to not know the fact that it finally reached its last…

Ten Classics That Should Be Movies

Image
This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a page-to-screen freebie.  I've talked before about my favorite costume dramas, so I thought I'd go with Jana's take on this topic and share some books that really need to be adapted!

Also, some of these have been made into films already, so if it's on the list, it means I haven't yet seen the "perfect" one (subject to my picky opinion, of course).

10.  The Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte Yonge
Yonge's novel may have faded out of popularity (or even recognition), but there are plenty of cinematic moments in this one: feuding family members, a shipwreck, and a haunting graveyard scene. Actually, forget the movie - I have plans to turn this into the next blockbuster musical.  Only half-joking...

9.  The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I can hear critics' howls of protest..."not ANOTHER Sherlock Holmes movie!"  But hear me out: Jeremy Brett (sadly enough) was not able to play Holmes in all …

Science City by Parekh & Singh - Album Review

Image
Just last month, Parekh & Singh finally released their second album.  I say "finally," because I've been waiting for more music ever since I finished listening to Ocean (2016). I must have given up hope, because the new music sneaked up on me, and I kinda freaked out when I stumbled upon it a day or two after its release.  Would Science City live up to all my hopes?!

Parekh & Singh, Indian Indie Duo So, who are Nischay Parekh and Jivraj Singh?  I hadn't heard of them or their genre - "dream pop" - until May 2017, when they released their music video for "Ghost."  The retro vibe, bright colors, and Parekh's introspective vocals immediately grabbed my attention.  I felt strangely nostalgic for something I didn't even know existed.

"Ghost"... still my favorite Parekh & Singh song!
Being already a huge fan of electronica artist Owl City, I love dreamy, poetic lyrics with a healthy dose of synthesizers, so this band was r…

What I'm Reading (and More): May edition

Image
Well, friends...this month's edition of "What I'm Reading" is going to be a bit of a ramble.  You might want to grab something to snack on or drink.  I usually try to abridge, but this time I just feel the need to stream-of-conscious it....
Personal
For starters, a personal update. Though work and everything are going fine, I've been feeling very directionless lately and in need of a change.  The thing is, there's so many things I would like to do - from buying a house to changing jobs - but no one thing that especially stands out as "yeah, that makes sense." It feels like a big decision chart with lines going all over the place.

I've been through all the conventional wisdom - focus on others, not yourself; try to find what you're passionate about; make small goals; etc.  But after all of that, I'm still in a maze, with too many ideas and hopes and doubts pulling me in different directions.  And in spite of everything being fine, that se…

Tales of the Long Bow: Eccentrics and Impossibilities

Image
Chesterton's England, ca. 100 years ago, is home to a de facto group of patriots, a Robin Hood renaissance.  There's the lawyer, Mr. Robert Owen Hood, whose name itself harkens back to the leader of the Merry Men.  His friend Colonel Crane is a quiet soul with a fiery past, plus a penchant for studying indigenous tribes and their religions.  Among the other five members, the aviator Hilary Pierce stands out as a brash aviator, someone full of antics which he carries out with great seriousness.

Their goal?  To achieve impossible things, and to save England from despots.  So Mr. Hood sets the Thames on fire, Colonel Crane eats his hat, and Hilary Pierce makes pigs fly, all in the name of rescuing the common man from the evils of either greedy aristocrats or corrupt bureaucrats.  Sly politicians, doctors, and scientists stand in their way, but the League of the Long Bow prevails with one promise: it always does what it says it will do.


When I think of weird classics, I think of L…

Some Bookish Pictures

Image
Every so often, I get an urge to do something crafty.  "Crafty" here means having to do with crafts, not cunning plans (though it may amount to the same thing).  Today was one of those days, so I stopped by ye olde curiosity shoppe Dollar Tree and picked up some frames, because I'm cheap that way.


Remember this quote from Heretics?  I couldn't find a great graphic of it online, so I decided to make one.  Here's the printout (click for full size):

(The flourish is from Pixabay - I know they don't require attribution, but I always feel like I should...habit!)


I picked up this little blue frame because it goes with my color scheme, but I wasn't sure what picture to put in it.  I finally settled on the plans for the Nautilus (Disney version), along with Nemo's motto, Mobilis in Mobili ("moving amidst mobility").  Completely nerdy, but I love it.  :)


Last bit of craftiness: I love triptychs, so thought I'd try creating one.  I found this whal…

Valkyrie (2008) and My Thoughts on Historical Dramas

Image
This past weekend, I rewatched the WWII movie Valkyrie (2008) with my brother.  (He, like me, is a history nerd and was the one who talked me into watching Lawrence of Arabia, for which I'm perpetually grateful.)  I don't believe I reviewed Valkyrie last time, so it seemed like a good time to talk about it and about history-themed movies in general.

Tom Cruise plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a Nazi officer, family man, and Catholic, who is tormented by his conscience and the events of the war.  In 1943, he joins a number of collaborators planning a political-military coup, which ultimately involves a plan to assassinate Hitler.  The genius of the plot is that it uses Hitler's own backup plan, "Operation Valkyrie," against him by feigning an emergency.  The movie zooms in on July 20, 1944, when Stauffenberg and his fellow officers attempt to carry out the assassination and coup.

The first thing to get out of the way is the casting.  Now, don't get me wro…

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Week #4 / Wrap-Up

Image
We made it! 

If you know me from past years, you know I'm terrible at sticking to read-alongs and challenges.  So I have to pat myself on the back for finishing this one.  :)

Overall?  I give the Read-Along 5 stars - the pacing and discussion questions have been excellent.  The book itself, I give a solid 3 stars.  Wollstonecraft packed a lot of thoughts into the book, and I agreed with her on many points.  At the same time, there was a lot of needless repetition, which, if I hadn't been on a schedule, might have bogged me down completely. 

On to the discussion questions:
Do you agree or disagree with Wollstonecraft's arguments about "stupid" romance novels, in which an author presents perfect images of men and women in love and marriage. (We could even apply this to romantic films.) I couldn't tell exactly what kind of novels she dislikes, though it seems to be all of them??

Anyways, I would agree that romantic novels/films can be dangerous if they'…

Top Ten Favorite Reviews

Cleo's twist on today's Top Ten Tuesday is right up my alley.  I've been reviewing books for a while now, and sometimes it's nice to reflect on what I've written about books in the past.

Here's ten of my favorite book reviews, some old and some newer (for simplicity's sake, not including podcast episodes or movie reviews, only written book reviews):

1.  Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - This is long overdue for another reading (plus a reading of Chinua Achebe's criticism of the book).  That said, I still like my theory about Kurtz being Marlowe's alter-ego!

2. Amerika by Franz Kafka - Kafka is tricky to review; in spite of that, I think here I hit upon all the important points.

3. The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe - Should I apologize for this??? I took WAY too much delight in this scathing review of a book by Goethe (of all people).  I don't often write negative reviews, but when I do... whew!

4. Magellania by Jules Verne - Objectively this…

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Week #3

Image
Week 3 of the Readalong covers chapters 6–11 which deal with early childhood, concepts of modesty vs humility, a woman's reputation, class differences, and parent-child relationships.  Whew!  In all seriousness, though, while I personally would have chosen a narrower scope for such a book, I admire Mary's willingness to take on a broad range of subjects and deal with each one in some detail.

I think my biggest takeaway from the book thus far is how much it puts into context Jane Austen's work (and, no doubt, her contemporaries').  After an Austen phase in my tweens, I later became disenchanted with her stories, finding (frankly) not much in them which seemed relevant to my life.  However, if I had any doubt before what "sensibility" means or whether Anne Elliot's odious relatives were true to life, those doubts have been dispelled by reading Vindication. In fact, for the first time, I earnestly want to re-read Jane Austen, because everything makes sense n…

Kreisler's "Syncopation" (1925) - A Classical Cousin

Image
Recently, I dreamed I was playing the second movement of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto, on stage, in front of a professional violinist, whom I was trying to "prove myself" to (!!).  I did tolerably well, which is the surprising thing, considering I never learned the piece (though always wanted to).


Ever since then, I keep thinking about picking it up again. I've barely touched my violin since I quit taking lessons about ten years ago (can it be, already?), when college took over my time and energies.  I generally don't put much stock into dreams, but if nothing else, I feel inspired to start again, in seriousness.

Some of my favorite music for the violin was written by Austrian composer Fritz Kreisler.  He's best known for his soulful "Praeludium and Allegro" (a piece I learned once) - in style, a kind of 20th-century successor of Vivaldi.  More delightful to me, however, are his lighter pieces in the turn-of-the-century style, or even a bit later.

Thoughts on Revelation

Image
Just finished re-reading The Book of Revelation this morning.  This is one book I may never be able to analyze or understand satisfactorily; much of it still confuses me.  Still, I wanted to share some memories, literary references, and thoughts about Revelation, since it may be some time before I read it again.

First, a note on the edition.  For this re-reading of the Bible, I've chosen the New King James translation in single-column format.  I grew up with the NIV and KJV, and I was curious about the NKJV.  Compared to the KJV, I've noticed not many, but some, differences.  Translation is a topic on its own; so far, though, I can say I've had a good experience reading this one.


Flashback #1 - "Revelations" I don't know why, but since childhood, I thought the book was called Revelations, plural.  It appears this is a common misconception, according to Wikipedia.  Other titles mentioned on Wikipedia are:
The Revelation to JohnThe Apocalypse of JohnThe Revelati…

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Week #2

Image
Week 2 of the Readalong spans chapters 4 & 5 on the topics "the state of degredation to which woman is reduced" and "writers who have rendered women objects of pity, bordering on contempt."

It looks like I highlighted more quotes in these chapters than in all of the first part. I was especially impressed by chapter 5, where Wollstonecraft responds to opposing views, including those of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  Boy, she cuts him down to size (and reading what he wrote, I don't blame her). 

I'm not sure I can put together a coherent summary of this section, so instead I'll go straight to Ruth's discussion questions (warning, LENGTHY post ahead!!):

Echoes of Literature in "Julia Ross"

Image
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The cautionary cliche, while well known, still remains almost limitless in its potential for the mystery and thrillers genres.  Perhaps this is why watching My Name is Julia Ross (1945) immediately calls to mind its literary precursors from the works of Arthur Conan Doyle and Daphne du Maurier.


The opening, in fact, takes a page out of Doyle's "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches," only this time set in the 1940s.  Londoner Julia Ross is a beautiful young woman, recently unemployed and completely alone in the world.  Her only friend and would-be boyfriend, Dennis Bruce, has just announced his marriage to someone else.  Depressed, and at a loss for how to pay the bills, Julia responds to an ad seeking a secretary for a wealthy Mrs. Hughes.  Mrs. Hughes makes Julia a generous offer, on the condition that Julia come to live with her at her mansion in Cornwall.  When Julia wakes up the next day, she realizes she's been be…

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Week #1

Image
Finally reading this classic that's been on my list so long!

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797) My Gutenberg edition began with a brief biography of the author.  She had an interesting but tragic life:
Apparently her father was very overbearing ("a despot," according to the biography) and unkind to her mother.Mary didn't receive anything in the way of higher education, but a good friend of hers, Frances Blood, appears to have helped her along in her early adult life.  They set up a school together where Mary worked as a teacher.Her first writing success appears to have been a response to Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France.  Burke wrote against the French Revolution; Mary's publication, A Vindication of the Rights of Men, was pro-republican.  It seems like her success with this piece was what gave her the impetus to take on none other than Jean-Jacques Rousseau (or "J. J. Rousseau" as she calls him... I got a kick out of that) in he…