bironic: Fred reading a book,looking adorable (fred reading)
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik: Thumbs up. A very easy read, and worth picking up for the sweet relationship between Laurence and Temeraire (man and dragon). Am 150 pages into the second in the series, Throne of Jade, now.

Nanny McPhee (2005, dir. Kirk Jones): Thumbs up. The reviews had made it sound awful, but my children's movie-loving dad needed cheering up, so we watched it -- and it was actually pretty charming, in a caricaturish way. It reminded me of Pushing Daisies: lots of bright colors, larger-than-life figures and settings, fairy tale ambiance, and morbid humor.

The Illustrated Man (1969, dir. Jack Smight): Thumbs down. Plodding, repetitive, painful. I'm sure the book was better. Only good things about it were Robert Drivas, looking like Malcolm Reynolds' and Simon Tam's lovechild, who did a decent acting job and also played the part as if his character were being seduced against his will by the title character (Rod Steiger), and the fact that "The Veldt" was sandwiched in the middle of it. We read that as a standalone short story in an English class in middle school; I hadn't known it came from the novel.

We read a lot of fantastic short stories in that class, actually: O. Henry's "Gift of the Magi," Bradbury's "All Summer in a Day," Shirley Jackson's "Charles" and "The Lottery," W. W. Jacobs' "The Monkey's Paw," Frank R. Stockton's "The Lady or the Tiger." And we watched movie/TV versions of at least four of them. They all left a strong impression on me. Our teacher was a sci fi fan, which was awesome (er, for me); I remember one rainy day, or maybe two, she put on The Wrath of Khan, and I was in raptures. We were in the sixth grade, and none of these was in the curriculum, just added for our enrichment. When a few of them resurfaced in later years' classes, you could tell who'd been in this class by their contributions to the discussion.

A little trip down memory lane. Consider it preparation for Memoryfest, which I think I'll start tomorrow or Tuesday.

We have been promised snow overnight, but right now it's raining. Pouring, really. Maybe it'll cool by morning, but I am not too hopeful. Thursday starting at about 4 a.m. we had something like ten hours of heavy storms on and off, complete with purple-tinged, popping lightning. In January. If it'd been snow, we'd have had about two feet by evening (going by 1 inch rain = 1 foot snow). Alas. Everyone north of us has been getting all the fun precipitation this season.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
I find it funny that six years ago, I started reading Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic and found it a fantastic distraction from schoolwork, and now I am supposed to be finishing a paper on Angel (among other tasks) and have instead been reading House fanfic.

Recs post forthcoming. But not till after the conference.

* * *

The plan was to take the remaining cassette of the RSL-narrated audio book of Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia into the house with me today after the commute home and finish it off either tonight or tomorrow night as a bedtime reward for a good day's work. However, there was so much traffic that I finished the next-to-last tape on the first stretch of highway and then nearly polished off the entire next one by the time I got to my street, so I idled and listened to the last chapter.

I'd never cried while driving at 65 mph before. Or in a car at all. Or during the day, really.

I pretty much knew what was coming, but... ow. There's something about children's books -- the pure, raw emotion, the honesty, the novelty of it all, the way you see and feel and touch and taste again in them -- that makes the grief that much more unbearable. This, and Tuck Everlasting, and Narnia, all medal winners, all awesomely, quietly powerful.

* * *

After gaping at [ profile] thewlisian_afer's [ profile] 1sentence fic for a while, I signed up to do one of my own, also Wilson-centric. There's no deadline, so it's okay. Really. I certainly didn't start brainstorming for it at work this week.

I haven't found too many entries that piqued my interest while trolling through the community -- I don't know most of the fandoms -- and because of the way the format puts one's writing skills to the test, the quality seems divided between the awful and the fantastic. An example of the latter kind features Giles and Ethan Rayne of BtVS, here. We have the same theme set.

* * *

Back to work and intermittent commenting. *waves*
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
The plan today was to take my father to the Museum of Natural History for his birthday, which was yesterday, but we decided instead to traverse the county visiting tag sales, starting with one house he'd seen yesterday that was chockablock with books. There must have been thousands of them packed on shelves in every room, almost entirely nonfiction, most of them in pristine condition if dusty. The man they belonged to was or is a doctor and seemed to have especial interests in medicine (obviously), the Bible, Egyptology, World War Two, Arthurian legend, the ancient philosophers, astrology and Nostradamus, among other things. I don't know how many of them he actually read; there were multiple copies of several books.

But what a treasure trove! I found books I've wanted to own for years and some I decided to look for just this week, like Hayakawa's Language in Thought and Action, which we read in high school, and physiology and pathology textbooks (*coughdork*); Budge's complete translation of the Book of the Dead, which our university library didn't stock; books about the facts behind three of the movies you've heard about this week (a two-volume set about the Battle of Stalingrad, one about the U-Boat war and one about the final days in Hitler's bunker); Escape from Sobibor, which was made into a movie with Rutger Hauer and possibly Matthew Broderick; several biographies of my favorite pharaoh, Akhenaten, and a few references on Egyptian theology and social life, which are interesting in themselves as well as for research on a story set in a similar culture; and the last remaining Shakespeare play I can't believe I haven't read, King Lear. It's all so wonderfully stimulating, especially following a mini-discussion on [ profile] catilinarian's blog on the limitations of time and non-vocational interests.

The complete haul. )

42 volumes in all, and believe it or not, I was selective. Also, despite what some of the titles may suggest, so far as I can tell every one of these is solid scholarship; I tossed back the melodramas, the bestsellers, the hack work, the historical fiction. Half the Egyptology books are gorgeous hardcovers with full-color glossy illustrations -- nicer than some of the textbooks we used in Archaeology class at school -- and some are standard texts by some of the biggest names in the field. It looks as if nothing but the WWII paperbacks have been read.

I figure the total value of the lot, going by original sale prices where listed (D Day was fifty cents, one of the Egypt histories £25) and with very conservative estimates on the rest, is about $800-900. And I got everything, plus a three-videotape set of Stephen Hawking's Universe and an Eddy Duchin CD, for $50, which, had I tried, I could probably have argued down to $40. *shakes head in dazed amazement* I have no space and no time, but that doesn't matter.

All of which brings to mind two questions:
  1. Why do we (because I suspect some of you may share this problem) continue to purchase books when we lack shelf space and haven't even read what we have?
  2. How did it happen that two of my greatest historical interests are in times when people of the faith in which I was raised were persecuted?
The snow is here! I'm off to start poking through everything.


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