Monday, June 28, 2010

Score (again!)

Why am I doing this, I HATED these books!
Ancillary products to a film, however, excite me very much.

And while I was a little disappointed that I was not able to get my mitts on a "Jacob" candy bar (I had to rifle through about 100 "Bella"s and already the nineteen year old sales clerk at Walgreens was rolling his eyes at me) I grabbed me two Edwards. I'm sure he'll be delicious tonight with my evening media event (Tony Soprano) and my morning coffee tomorrow.

Did I mention that we have a neighbor that looks like Edward Cullen? We have taken to simply calling him that, although not to his face, of course.

Now that I have a little collection going, I might have to actually admit that I'm a fan. What the hell, you all know that I listen to Warrant and swear by the Porky's films, does this really surprise anyone?

Sex, nakedness, divorce (and vampires).

FIRST OFF: Is anyone else watching True Blood, and is the sex not completely out of control? I don't mean to say it's a bad thing (see photo, hello?) but Daaaaaaaammmmmnn! HOT!

The first episode kind of bugged me because the sex was so obviously a gimmick and actually interrupted the flow of the narrative with how random it was. . . but the last two were much more on, in the run of things, if you ask me. I won't spoil anything in case people haven't seen it yet, but last night? Wowza.

Anyway, speaking of gimmicks. This isn't really a post about sex or vampires, it's about SHORT STORIES! I know, how exciting! But I really couldn't hold back anymore about True Blood. (team eric and how-the-crap-did-you-not-invite-him-immediately-into-your-house-after-he-said-that-bit-about-crazy-sex, SOOKIE?) p.s. The King of Mississippi's accent is the best one I've heard thus far. About time.

From the Heath arsenal: "White Dump" by Alice Munro.
also by Alice Munro: Love of a Good Woman.

This is a tale of three women, three different generations, and their struggles with doomed relationships. One a daughter, one the mother of the daughter, and one the mother-in-law of the mother of the daughter. It was wonderfully descriptive, smart, and interesting, and in a small way it succeeded in igniting my long since expired feminist rages. YOUR JOB IS TO BE A TROPHY WIFE, LOOK HOT, FLIRT WITH GUYS, SPREAD IT WHEN I DEMAND, and if you don't I'll take it out on the kids. Then you read about the mother-in-law's issues (therein lies the nakedness addressed by my title; some punks steal her robe and then she just strolls around naked in front of her adult son and grandchildren, not the worst thing ever, but you know, a little narcissistic and odd) and you pretty much have to blame her for turning out such a douche-bag of a son. Yuck. But an important yuck, I guess, as these issues are realistic.

"Separating" by John Updike.
also by John Updike: Rabbit Run, Couples, Rabbit is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest.

I read Couples, years ago, and thought it was fine. I was very young and dumb at the time though, so it's unlikely that I got much from it. This story, like everything else in the Heath anthology is very good, very intelligent, and very well done, but my thing with much of what I read is having issues with unlikable characters and not the actual mechanics of the story or storytelling. Like, do I or do I not want to read a story about an asshole (even if it's well written)? This is a story about an asshole. Maybe reading Munro just before put me a little on the defensive, but oh, you're leaving your wife and hoping to marry some other chick across town and your wife is making you tell your four children, one at a time before you can leave, and it's a little hard on you? Causing you some anxiety? PLEASE. I had not one drop of sympathy for this dude, although the way the story was written and described with a lot of metaphor and personification was beautiful. (an asshole's beautiful account of what it was like to tell his children he's leaving).

Yuck again. But, hey. Life is full of yucks.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tony, Tony, Tony.

I just watched the first episode of The Sopranos last night; I was once again blown away at its awesomeness. If you like cinema, watch it. If you are a parent, have panic attacks, enjoy the Mafia, etc., etc., WATCH IT!

The first time I watched all these I did not have any children, now I have many. Let's just say the viewing experience is quite a different thing this time around for that reason. Because once you get past the way he earns his living, Tony Soprano has the same problems the rest of us have!

1. His mother is a pain in the ass.
2. His daughter fights with his wife
3. His nephew lacks motivation
4. He has panic attacks

Everyone needs more Tony Soprano in their lives.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Short Stories from the Heath Arsenal: John Barth

I'm going to have to do this one at a time, I think. And sorry for the image, it's blurry and uninteresting, but tough. Lost in the Funhouse by John Barth.

also by John Barth: Giles Goat Boy
The Sot-Weed Factor (I have not read these but I need to).

Metafiction= fiction about the process of fictionalizing.

This was lovely, witty, funny, and sad. The random insertion of explanations of the literary devices I think was my favorite part of this whole story. Each time he did another one I just got the giggles. He's very sarcastic, this writer. I have no idea what it is like to be an awkward teenage boy, but I think after reading this I at least have a clue. Pity about poor Ambrose, though, it seems he never really found what he was looking for. Maybe if Magda would have just let him cop a feel in the dark, we'd be in a much different story. How uncomfortable.

"Description of physical appearance and mannerisms is one of several standard methods of characterization used by writers of fiction. It is also important to "keep the senses operating"; when a detail from one of the five senses, say visual, is "crossed" with a detail from another, say auditory, the reader's imagination is oriented to the scene, perhaps unconsciously. This procedure may be compared to the way surveyors and navigators determine their positions by two or more compass bearings, a process known as triangulation. The brown hair on Ambrose's mother's forearms gleamed in the sun like. Though right-handed, she took her left arm from the seat-back to press the dashboard cigar lighter for Uncle Karl. When the glass bead in its handle glowed red, the lighter was ready for use. The smell of Uncle Karl's cigar reminded one of. "


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Main Street

"I tell you it's dull. Dull!"
"The folks don't find it dull. These couples like the Haydocks have a high old time; dances and cards--"
"They don't. They're bored. Almost every one here is. Vacuousness and bad manners and spiteful gossip--that's what I hate."
"Those things--course they're here. So are they in Boston! And every place else! Why, the faults you find in this town are simply human nature, and never will be changed."

I just finished it today, and quite honestly, I am so happy I stuck it out; it really is a magnificent piece of work. I had my fights with it, yes, mostly about not really liking Carol (the main) at all and then having disgusted feelings toward Sinclair Lewis's presumptive writing from the inner workings of a small town woman. But after it got good, and it didn't get good until page 330, I was sold on it. It absolutely captures everything wonderful about a small town and everything horrible; what it really, really means to be conflicted and to yearn for something adventurous. It is amazingly well written, even if you hate the characters and the story--the telling of the story is beautiful and poetic. I will read anything else he's written in a heartbeat.

And not in a long time have I finished a book, examined it lovingly, and hugged it to me (ala Henry Bemis in Time Enough at Last) but I did that with this. Bravo.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Yes, yes, yes, by George.

First off, these films are not new. I just take forever to get to things around this mad house that is my life, but I still consider them worthy of a brief little blogg-O. And contrary to popular belief, despite having watched three Clooney films in a small space of time (well, two for the eyes and one animated Fox with Clooney's voice), I am not pregnant again. And if you actually want a walk-through or any scholarly thoughts on any of these films, this ain't it, fair warning.

1. Up in the Air, directed by Jason Reitman. "Before you get around to revolutionizing my business, I want to make sure that you understand my business." I hate technology, so this was music to my ears; what balls on this little number, waltzing in and firing people via IPAD? I wanted that whole system to fail if for no other reason to prove to people that there are just some things that require a human connection, most things, even. The airline references were good, but just one little issue: NO ONE LAYS OVER IN SGF. And one more issue: I did not appreciate the twist on Alex and how she was basically screwing over both her husband and kids (AT HOME, MUCH?) and Bingham. If she's a rabbit mother, fine, there are of course plenty out there, but maybe just a little bit more of an explanation (more than "you're an escape for me"). Otherwise, all aces.

2. The Fantastic Mr. Fox, directed by Wes Anderson. I hadn't actually read this one of Dahl's, but I have most everything else, and this story was silly and fun enough too. What I appreciated most about this was the music and the limby-ness of the puppets. And how they managed to insert the word "cuss" every time they really meant to say actual curse words; "The CUSS you are!" "You CUSSIN' with me?"

3. Men Who Stare At Goats, directed by Grant Heslov. Mostly I liked it for Jeff Bridges doing what he does best, but the rest of it all was good too. Geez, what happened to Kevin Spacey? He looked about 100 years old next to the rest of those guys! AARON PIERCE MAKES AN APPEARANCE! Bravo. This is another one that I wasn't watching very closely (which means I was paying way more attention to my Dharma coffee sleeves while I watched) and then I was disappointed when it ended because it turned out pretty cool and I was sitting there in regret that I didn't pay closer attention. I'll have to watch it again to get the full effect.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Peeing my pants as well as barfing in my shoes. . .

Just gross. Yet as with a train wreck, I'm not quite able to look away. . .

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June Books.

For some reason I'm always reading like 45 books all at once. I like to think of it as having my reading habits follow my moods. Like how some nights you just really crave an Adam Sandler film, other nights you are feeling a bit more Kubrick, etc.

1. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. And this image to the left looks nothing like the yellow and black cover on my copy so already I'm feeling dishonest about how this is going. I picked this up at Half Price Books probably two years ago, started reading it two years ago, and got extremely bored and pitched it into a drawer somewhere for another year. Once I started trying to read it again (unlike Walden) I was able to enjoy it more. I seem to be developing a love/hate relationship with it; being from a small town I really take offense at some elitist city bitch just thinking she can waltz right in and start overhauling everything, but being from a small town and being a city dweller now, I can very much see where she (Carol) is coming from in wanting to make things exciting.

Lewis really didn't put many positive things in about Gopher Prairie, as far as I can tell, and that bothers me. I'm almost considering writing a huge counterpoint to this whole novel in protest.

2. The Heath Introduction to Fiction, edited by John Clayton. Yes, I am reading a textbook of short stories, one I actually had for a short stories literature class at MCTC about ten years ago. True to form as a student, I read approximately 3% of what I needed to read for the class, but held onto the book for some reason, for which I'm glad because the stories are wonderful. I'll give some examples later, but I'm just going on record to say that it's a beautiful collection. Not a very affordable one, though.

3. Getting Lost, edited by Orson Scott Card. So far I've only read the introduction and part of the first article, but it seems promising. This is more along the lines of scholarly literature (ala David Lavery) and already I'm supressing my need to tell the book to get a life, but hey, it's about Lost and it's a book, what could be better, even if it's uppity? It's kind of entertaining to read how people thought they had the show pegged (after two seasons) because I NEVER DID THAT. . .

 anyway. There are a few other books out there that I finished already, David Lavery (and others') Lost's Buried Treasures and Nikki Stafford's little bubble gum book. Lavery's is pretty cool if you want a really thorough reading list/ancestor text list/link to all other media list, etc., or to read what some pretty educated people have for theories. Nikki's book is a good read for people who don't mind a book that reads like a high school blog/people who aren't really into books but like US Weekly, or people who don't really get Lost but want to be part of the in crowd. Okay, that was mean. The book is fine but it's more of an informal collection of writings.

4. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson. Haven't started it yet, but I have high, high hopes for it. Richard Matheson is my man having written some pretty decent Twilight Zones (Steel, Nightmare at 20,000 feet, Little Girl Lost) and what would eventually become Steven Spielberg's Duel. Love this guy! I may just have to break down and put Stir of Echoes and I Am Legend on the old Netflix. One can never have too much Kevin Bacon in life, can one?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Look what I found at Walgreens today!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Jacob and Smokey heart Dharma Coffee Sleeves.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

LOST: Across the Sea

I just watched it again yesterday and I'm ready to go on record: This, after the finale, was my favorite episode of LOST. This one episode explains EVERYTHING.

The real mother was stoned by the island mother after she snubbed the darker twin and refused to name him. Later the island mother admitted that if she had let the woman live, she would have taken the boys to her people and they would have become bad. She has a negative view of people, this island mother. "Because they're people, and that's what people do. They come, they destroy, they corrupt, and it always ends the same." She also seems to know that the dark-haired twin leans toward the sinister, as she explains "Jacob isn't like you, he doesn't know how to lie," and "you're . . . special."

Since Jacob ends up being the one to eventually guard the island, and since he admits to Richard that he wants people to be able to help themselves (believing people are good at heart), he seems to have more faith in humanity than his mother and brother.

When she first shows the boys the light, it's bright enough to take up the entire cave and spill out onto the surrounding water and rocks in the stream. By the time Jack gets there, it's much, much smaller. If this means anything, it probably means that through time, the power and beauty (life, death, rebirth, etc.) that she described has been diminished by evil. She called the light the source, something that each man had a little of inside. The source of the souls of mankind? Have our souls diminished in brightness over the years? In The Howling Man, Serling put in a bit about how having the devil out and about, free to roam the world resulted in the unleashing of massive, widespread evil that brought disaster and world wars--things humanity couldn't have managed without the Devil's help. Might the light have lessened because the inhabitants of the island were corrupting and destroying? Might the fertility on the island have gone away for the same reason?

The island mother leveled the dark twin's people when he showed her his makeshift donkey wheel being built in what would become The Orchid Station. Maybe later, Jacob had to do the same kind of thing (the purge) when the Dharma folks were getting too close to the light (the donkey wheel in The Orchid, the business in building The Swan, etc.) and order Richard to gas them all in order to protect the light. They were getting too greedy, curiosity killed the cat? God made that flood rain down on everyone for a similar reason, right?

Island mother was a weaver. She pulled strings. The dark twin said to Jacob, "it's easy for you, looking down at us from above." Jacob was able to touch humans and alter them somehow. He was the knower of things, he wasn't physically present when Jack crashed into the bamboo fields, but he knew that it happened. He was able to know of things happening off-island (Sawyer's parents, Kate's decent into the world of crime beginning with the lunch box, etc.)

I know, go ahead and jump on me, but I think the island was literally the source of man, and the island's keepers were what we have come to know as God. The beginning of land and life didn't come to be in a blink, but it became. The keeper wasn't a super power but a human being. The island had been moved, probably many times, once the donkey wheel started spinning and the people figured it out. This could explain the polar bears, or the fact that the exit from the donkey wheel was in Tunisia (proximity to what we know as The Holy Land?). I think it's a beautiful fairy tale.

And Jack. The fixer. The savior. The one who rescued everyone! What if a group of writers and producers posited that the Messiah was a character you were emotionally invested in? What if there was something tangible that this character was saving you from, not just a general far-off concept? This idea did more for me than watching Jim Caviezel getting beaten to a pulp. . . what if it was someone you knew?

I think it took six years to get to this end for that reason; we needed that much time to get invested in Jack. True, he's had his moments, good and bad, but that last haggard walk, shoe bloodied and clutching the wound Locke gave him? Come on. Juxtaposed with the reunion with all the people from the island he saved, all the people he doctored, all the people he cared about where for once and for real, he actully looked happy? This show was a sentamentalist's (my) wet dream.

(Again), Bravo.

My aunts used to tease my mother when she was a little girl because she cried every time she watched Lassie. I might be crazy, and I might be reaching, but I know how she felt.