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With much activity, don't forget your towel.

Tomorrow, May 25 is Towel Day and I encourage anyone who stumbles over these words to pull out your favorite towel and carry it around with you where ever you go. Towels, you may or may not be aware of are the Universe’s most dynamic and useful tool! All good froods know exactly where their towel is all at times. I’m planning on buying a new, exceptional towel just for the event!

As it happens I’ll be going to Greenville for my long awaited Pirates of the Carribbean: At Worlds End viewing. Thus far I’ve managed to avoid any major plot spoilers, previews and promos. Which was a feat since I had the script on my computer for the better part of six months, and have had to be on my toes during primetime television. The last couple of days have been trying simply because spoilers leak out everywhere and the word is really getting out. I read a few little non specific blurbs from the reviews, and it seems that aside from the 8.6 the film is sporting over at imdb.com, reactions are pretty mixed. Not much different from Dead Man’s Chest, which I really liked for the extensive setups, something audiences seemed mixed about. If @WE is the same I expect I’ll love it passionately. I was actually planning on geeking out major for the opening, but time and work got the better of me and all I ended up to show was a scraggly head of hair which hasn’t been trimmed in 8 months and a real pirate sword that I won’t be allowed to take into the theater anyway. But in the interest of not rolling out of a Ren-faire style (and therefor completely abandoning my thin facade of sanity) it may be for the best.

TV- LOST’s finale culminated in a moment of John Locke badassery so I was happy, if not a little whiplashed. I’m still not scraping the numbers off my car window and throwing out my Dharma tees though.  NCIS is getting a little thin. HOUSE remains to be seen.

Other stuff: Script Frenzy will be starting soon and I think I’m building up a good amount of steam for it. Just need a title and over arching theme. The characters are bouncing around in my head, and the plots is niggling here and there- but I’m up for suggestions.  For anything really, food, music, reading. If you’ve got something cool turn me on to it already.

Needing to read and the most awesome Anithero

So I finished the Wolfe books.

All the ones I could lay hands on, with one exception. Out of 75 novels and short stories there are maybe five or so that I haven’t tracked down, and 1 that I own, but have sworn not to read until I’m in declining days. So about 70 in the course of a year. I actually have a few not by Rex Stout, but on the occasion that I cracked one, the first sentence annoyed me so much I haven’t looked back. All in all, I have to say that the two months spent without a constant supply of Archie and Wolfe were quite a bit like what I imagine drug withdrawal to be- I’ve been unmotivated, tired, and sick. Honestly! In fact, in this break of Wolfe-lessness I not only suffer minor depression and prolonged physical illness- I will in fact be needing surgery soon. Can it possibly be a coincidence? Surely not. (Surgery btw is absolutely terrifying since I’ve never so much as had a broken bone. It shouldn’t entail too much, and all my resentment falls to stupid defective genetics.)

I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say that my quality of life depends on regular exposure to Archie Goodwin’s wonderful narration. I wonder how long I’ll be able to last before I start rereading?

Most of November and December I read nothing- as I mentioned a helluva funk. Friday, being sick I figured a weekend on the couch reading would probably do me good and yes, I’ve had the Franzen forever (which I am reminded of because of tonights rerun of The Simpsons), and plenty of other stuff to read, but just no urge. Not like with the crack Rex Stout. So I hit the bookstore as there’s a few newer things that sort of appeal to me, but it’s going to take a helluva character.

I have one in mind.

Hannibal Rising opens February 9th- less than a month from now. Thomas Harris’ novel was published in December. Which is sort of an insane thing considering how well the Silence of the Lambs follow ups did without concurrent movie productions. I mean come on, it’s Hannibal Lecter- he’s the golden god of anti-heroes. Hannibal is the exaggeration of so much villainy, and the inhuman, that I actually worry about myself because I like him co much. Once you can empathize with a guy who eats people, is there any hope left?

I got a real kick out of Hannibal and Ridley Scott’s version wasn’t bad although I was particularly fond of the way the novel resolves. I was little sad they didn’t go for it in the movie (though the refrigerator scene made my stomach flipflop from teh awesome!). I guess some folks were still holding out for Clarice as the hero, but the discerning fans knew better. ‘Hannibal Rishing’ is pretty much Harris coming back and setting things straight, pulling all the holdouts in. Started and finished it on Saturday- it’s not long just shy of 400 pages- and it’s a lot fun. Completely fitting addition to the mythology of Hannibal Lecter and if you’re a fan it gets my recommend, especially if you like ‘Hannibal’.

What I can’t figure out is why the movie is buried in February, and why the PR has been so low key. The IMDB page has one review of a test screening that sounds promising, but nothing about it is making sense. Haven’t seen a poster, or a trailer in the theater, no TV or magazine spots. Like it doesn’t even exist. Although I could just be missing it, but it’s odd nonetheless considering how much press Scott’s Hannibal got. Once again though, it’s Hannibal Lecter- he’s hard to mess up, so I’ll be looking forward to it.

Now for Nyquil and some Stephenson since I can’t figure out which side of the Danielewski I’m supposed to start with.

jail, avocado butter and brains

My life continues to emulate really bad television, but I persist. I wonder if I don’t just sabotage myself sometimes and when I eventually end up in jail for something inane, I end up spinning it as research for my crimey writings. Delusion- it’s a good thing!

In the Wolfe book I’m reading right now Archie eats griddlecakes with avocado butter- and despite the fact that I concede Fritz is a genius, it sounds like pancakes with guacamole… But Fritz is awesome and someday if presented with the opportunity I will not balk at griddlecakes with avocado butter. Man I wish I had a Fritz.

Read an absorbing essay on institutionalized education in America entitled “The Seven Lessons of a Schoolteacher” by John Taylor Gatto which is making the blog rounds. It hits a lot of abstract thoughts I’ve had in the past about the process of growing up that kids face today, that I went through, that may not be an improvement on the process that generations past have- rural, urban, whatever. Not everyone used to go to college, and they weren’t complete morons, right? Now people do go to college and are complete morons, so obviously something is off. Not that I have any solutions, and not that the essay lays any specifics out, but some quite interesting food for thought.

The Goodwins I adore

So, last post was posted about five minutes after the Season premiere of LOST began- prompted by that most awesome and random teaser that launched us into season three. The episode had a ton of things ripe for analysis, theory details and deaths, and just everything that is always there in the chock-full-o-awesome episodes. I could probably address those, but I’d rather expound on why I like Goodwin and why his two second appearance made me all happy! happy! joy! joy!

A lot of it probably has to do with the fact that Goodwin is still a fairly mysterious ‘Other’ and looks fairly normal and non-insane unlike 50% of the ‘Others’- cause seriously, some of those dudes look totally whacked. Goodwin looks normal and played admirably by Brett Cullen with his floppy island hair, is fairly attractive for the jungle dudes. He’s also a pretty straightforward guy (aside from that whole kidnappy thing) who now unfortunately suffers from STAKE IN THE CHEST! Which means we’re not likely to find out much about Goodwin over the course of the show- unless he’s cloned, which will be awesome- Goodwin’s going to be pretty much open to interpretation.

Therefore I have just decided to interpret him as Archie Goodwin from Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books. Which is what I immediately thought of when Goodwin appeared named, well, Goodwin. Archie Goodwin is the quintessential “Good One” and the model for all smart-mouthed, attractive boyscout types in my own mind. It’s fairly obvious that many of the characters on LOST have literary names, Jack, Locke, Desmond, etc, etc. If you didn’t know this, go read Lostpedia – which you’ll note indicates that oh-ho! he may be named after fictional Detective Archie Goodwin! And NO, I did not submit that edit to the wiki! So someone else out there is thinking along the same lines.

Archie has become my most favorite of all favorite fictional characters. Ever. I may conceed to liking other characters who are equally awesome and badass and whatever, but I would be wrong. It will always be Archie. Sure this is typical obsessive Nicolle talking, but I present an excerpt from Rex Stout’s Trouble in Triplicate, the first paragraph of the story ‘Instead of Evidence’:

AMONG the kinds of men I have a prejudice against are the ones named Eugene. There’s no use asking me why, because I admit it’s a prejudice. It may be that when I was in kindergarten out in Ohio a man named Eugene stole candy from me, but if so I have forgotten all about it. For all practical purposes, it is merely one facet of my complex character that I do not like men named Eugene.

Unfortunately for Archie, he and Wolfe end up with a client named Eugene in ‘Instead of Evidence’. But for that, you need to check out the story, I only present the paragraph here to give you the measure of Detective Archie Goodwin as he appears in Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books and stories. All the stories are told first person with Archie as narrartor for whichever case comes along and he neither short nor tiresome in doing so. The random and wry humor in that paragraph is a good example of Archie and his temperament and when I initially read it, I lost it. It cracks me up. In every story I’m guarenteed to run into some bit of narration, anecdote or smart-mouthed wisecrack that leaves me floored with amusement. Which is why I love Archie!

The story turned out to be one of the weirdest and funniest Wolfe stories I’ve gotten through, and oddly enough turned very dark at the end with a discernable affect coming over Archie as he told the story, as well as how it’s written. Which is completely typical of Archie Goodwin- he brings comedy and emotion into his telling and it’s at least 51% of why the books have been so damned addicting to me. (I’d give him more, but Wolfe might get huffy.) There are even times when Archie breaks the fourth wall of his telling the story and waltzes right up to the fourth wall of reality and starts tapping on the glass, which is the brilliance of Stout.

So, if you’re at all inclined toward the detective/mystery genre please give the Nero Wolfe stuff a look. If I’m very good from now until Christmas I can only hope Santa will bring me further LOST-canon proof that Goodwin is somewhat modeled after my wholesome, lady-killing, milk-drinking leg-man Archie. If not, oh well, crazy-ass delusions seem to be what LOST is all about.

melty

It’s like the inside of an overcooked pizza pocket (liquid hot MAGMAH!) all over the place, notably in non-bedroom portion of my apartment which includes everything except, well, the bedroom since it has the only working a/c unit. Speaking of apartment, I renewed the lease, because I just wasn’t about to move in this crap. Also my Xmas tree is still up. It’s still a little bit of a thrill to wake up and see the lights on, even if it is frickin’ August.
I need some E-10. Or some E-15 even. I don’t care, I just want some of that cheap corn-gas. But it appears the state of NC only has one public ethanol station. One. And it’s in Fayetteville- which, if I did the math MIGHT work out to still saving a bit, BUT the drawback of driving to Fayetteville simply for gas is enough to nix it. It is Fayetteville after all- the armpit of the state. It would be nice if it was kinda on the way to Greenville or somewhere else I might plausibly drive to. I am not that lucky. But I’ll be keeping my ears peeled for some new availability. It’s really out of control these days.
Going to plug http://www.vicsage.com because it the snazzy new place of Faceless Fans to hang out and obsess over one of the coolest comic book heros out there – The Question. I babble about him some more, but the link holds much more information and coherence than I could possibly hope for. The message boards are slick and give me distracting ideas on top of the ideas I already have trouble dedicating appropriate time and effort to.
Running low on the Nero Wolfe, though I did pick up one orignal and two continuation- that is not by Rex Stout, books last week. Still not sure how I feel about the continuation thing, reminds me of fanfiction, but we’ll see when I crack the book. Elsewhiles I am reading a Poe collection, some Vonnegut essays Megan and Jeremy gave me and that Charles Dickens I took with me to the wedding but never really got through. Oh and Gertrude and Claudius by Updike, which I was doing pretty regular until I found some more Wolfe. Wolfe takes precidence over ALL. Which is as it should be. Pfui!

The DaVinci Stuff

I can be a real snob (read as bitch). Especially when it comes to movies. I like the fact that I have discerning tastes when it comes to the picture shows, and a lot of times, if I’m feeling particularly snobby (bitchy) when asked if I have seen such and such a movie, I will answer “I only see good movies.” in a very superior tone. A lot of times this happens with Bart cause Bart is like a movie prostitute- he will watch damn near anything. I can say this because I know Bart doesn’t read the website cause he spends all his time over at Myspace, which is another reason I am better than Bart. There are many. But that bit about me only seeing good movies isn’t true, strictly speaking, because I like a lot of bad movies. Notably horror stuff, like Re-Animator and Ghost Ship, and I’ll fight you to the death over Ghost Ship because that movie rocks. In fact, I think I’ll watch it today. It’s got Gabriel Byrne, man! He rocks and I wish I could draw three dots in a triangle because it’s quicker than typing out, ‘therefore’ the movie does by extention.

So, you would thing, given my arbitrary justification for watching the not-popularly-good movies, that I’d say The DaVinci Code has to be a frigging amazing movie. And it should be, by all means- Tom Hanks, Alfred Molina, Jean Reno, Ian McKellen- those are great actors who I each love and respect individually. Then there’s Ron Howard, the man who has directed Backdraft, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, WILLOW man! I mean, what more could you ask for? Well for starters you could ask for NOT the dude who wrote Batman & Robin and Batman Forever. I mean, hey, I liked I, Robot, The Client, but Akiva Goldsmith’s batting average for his adaptations, could use a little bit of help.

Adaptations are hard to do. A lot of people get work retooling the scripts for really popular books and turning them into really popular movies. Unfortunately the one dude that comes to mind other than Akiva Goldsmith is Steve Kloves and I hate that mofo. But if you look at Goldsmith’s credits, it’s actually like some sort of strange Grisham/Goldsmith juicing scandal, it’s either out of the park, or the Mighty Casey. I think it’s got everything to do with the source. Not every book has awesome dialogue, not every author is Elmore Leonard- who, okay there Scott Frank’s job is to reign the dialogue in just a little, turns vulgarity into poetry.

So, my biggest issue with The DaVinci Code is this- Dan Brown can’t write good screen dialogue to save his life. Akiva Goldsmith’s job is to turn all the passable conversations in the novel into something watchable on screen- this did not happen. What ends up happening is Tom Hanks ends up with the worst character in the film. The Protagonist sucks, except for the last five minutes when he changes clothes and Hanks looks totally hot, but otherwise, yeah. Maybe you can blame the actors or the director, but it’s gotta be on the page. That’s my number one rule, and it’s not like oh yeah, you know Tom Hanks can’t act. There are also some plotting issues with the first Act, but it could be that I was distracted by the holy GOD horrible music. As I watched the title sequence I sort of liked the tension, but who the hell did the final mix on this movie? It was like a Snidley Whiplash melodrama. Something Ron Howard should have caught in the final product, and I will directly blame him for. The supporting cast is great- McKellan rocks it as Teabing, who is the most interesting character in the book and so it easily made the transition to the screen. Jean Reno did a good job, I ended up like Fache a little more with Jean Reno’s face on him. Fred, well I was a little sad to hear who he got cast as when that news broke, and thusly he was just fun to look at during his scenes. Paul Bettany knocked Silas out of the park, just amazing, again the fervor of that character very apparent in the source and made it into the movie. And Bettany can act his skinny ass off.
So for all that, and because I’m giving it a curve because of the cast, I give The DaVinci Code a C+. Watchable on USA some Sunday afternoon. I did however get used to the Tom Hanks hair-helmet before everything was said and done, it looks better when it’s all falling into his face and all.