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6.29.2009

Watched 'O Jerusalem' with Dad tonight. Preparation for his trip to Israel with Mom this Christmas? JJ Feild continues to be one of my favorite actors, though I wish he had a bigger part in this one. For unfamiliar audiences though, there was too much history to cover, too many details of time, place, and people to establish before characters could be properly explored. Because of this, of course, it was difficult to wholly relate to the characters. What should have made me cry only resulted in a furrowed brow. That was part of the point, though - that the city, not the characters, win your heart. But hasn't it already? Don't we all, even strangers, love Jerusalem? Don't we yearn for peace in that city as we long for peace in our own members? Is there not some strange accord between shalom in our hearts and shalom in Israel?

If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.
Psalm 137. 5,6

6.25.2009


The Lament for Icarus, by Herbert Draper

saw this in the library today. well, in a book in the library. the real thing's in the tate gallery. took my breath away. thought i'd share...

Mortal Instruments Continued and Concluded

So I finished the Mortal Instruments series mentioned and pictured below. Let me tell you, once you get past the absurdity of goo-dripping demons and warlocks in drag, they are really good books. By Book Three (City of Glass), Ms. Clare has almost overcome her interruptive tendencies and even - almost - developed the majority of her central cast to a point where we actually care what happens to them.

But that's not really why they're worth reading. You see, I am on a perpetual hunt for phenomenal heroes, and she wrote one. In fact, I am creating a new label for this blog. Because I intend to find more*. In these books, the hero in question is named Jace. I quibbled with such a contemporary, made-up name for our hero, until I discovered that it was a nickname hiding all sorts of fabulous identity crises. You see, Jace does not know who he is, where he has come from, or even what he was made of. Literally. Applying the phrase 'internal demons' to him is ironic in a number of ways. He's beautiful and scarred, noble and conflicted, hilariously funny and enormously grave. Of course, for about a book and a half you think you're just reading some absurd teen adventure story with little depth and little more characterization. But it's worth it. I think. :)

* some heroes already found include, but are not limited to, the following: Levin from Anna Karenina, the pig who turns about to be a dragon who is also a man in Pigs Don't Fly, of course Edward and Jacob though i am increasingly bored of the former, yes yes Horatio Hornblower, the god in Gail Carson Levine's Ever, Alec Forbes of Howglen in Alec Forbes of Howglen, and Jesus.

6.22.2009


It is rare for me to post pictures of myself on my blog, because - you see - I like to pretend I'm not vain. But I was walking from my car to my house this evening thinking about my purple scarf (which I was wearing) and how much I love it. And I decided that I should really add it to my blogged list of 'things i like'. Because it's just the sort of thing that belongs there.

My purple scarf is the sort of thing I would wear to Crystal Cove with good friends. At which time Kathryn (or Jenny?) would take the photo posted here. The scarf was purchased for me by my fashion-wise sister, Emily, who also recently found a phenomenal grey linen skirt for me at a fabulous shop in downtown Ventura for fifteen dollars!! I am wearing the skirt and the scarf, both, at this very moment. Ah, fashion!

6.21.2009

Despereaux, movie star

I'm working on compiling a 'things I like' folder for this blog, to be filed under the label 'Things I Like.' Go figure. It will basically consist of random things I come across in life or online (or both?) that I want to give kudos. Let's begin with Despereaux. I finally saw the movie. I know, it's been out for months now, but I was afraid to see it. The book is so beautiful and sweet and terrible, and worth every inch of Newbery Award it was given. To see them turn it into a heartwarming adventure for the animated screen... made me nervous. I can't say it wasn't without cause. The movie was good, but... a little light. and confusing. What was with that vegetable creature? Was that supposed to be the Spirit of Soup or something? I couldn't figure it out.

But what I loved about the movie was its color palette. I know, second post in a row that gets gaga over color palettes. Please understand me. This movie earned its legitimacy not by its storyline or all-star vocal cast, but by its color palette. It was just beautiful. I want to build a life on these colors. At very least, a bedroom. Or better yet - a library. Appropriate, since the most beautiful colors were, in fact, found in the castle library. I tried to find a picture online, but there don't seem to be any. They're all of Despereaux on the book or Despereaux in the suit of armor. (None of the pictures, incidentally, show the vegetable-spirit-man. Bummer.)


I came across one picture that I super-like. I posted it above. Despereaux sits in class, perky and unafraid in the midst of his cowering classmates. They're supposed to cower, though. Despereaux is a brave little rebel, though he doesn't know it. As I watched this part of the movie, my heart swelled a little. Not because it was yet another film about how the youth must throw off the irrational rule-mindedness of their elders in order to have adventure and be true to themselves. No, that storyline has gotten rather boring to me. But in Despereaux, that premise has a strange twist. It is a twist that made me want to stand up and clap. Despereaux - it cannot be denied - is severely socially awkward. He is a clueless misfit. And he is incredible. It was a delight to see the hero not just misunderstood but misunderstanding. That dazed look in his eyes as he stares at the light - that's the enthralment of one who simply doesn't care what the world thinks. Not because he's snubbed the world or shrugged it off, but because he simply doesn't notice. There are better things to think about. Three cheers.

6.18.2009


Just finished the first in the Mortal Instruments series, City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare. This is, of course, all part of my Summer of Reading thing, which has no plan or purpose other than to read as much as possible of anything not on my reading list. As many 'throw-away' books as possible. In fact, the only thing on my reading list I actually intend to read in Les Miserables, and I don't honestly think I'll finish that till December. I like the idea of one massive tome defining a year.

Ms. Clare is objecting to my use of the phrase 'throw-away book' in the same paragraph as her Mortal Instruments series. But really, Ms. Clare, if you compare it to the books that are on my reading list, you would understand. I hope. I started reading this series for two reasons. First, I was curious to know if it was worth suggesting to book-buying patrons. I mean, I've put it right there on the table along with Stephenie Meyer. People do ask questions. Second, and more compellingly, I love the color pallette of the covers. They're only slightly melodramatic and busy. And I really wouldn't have been so easily swayed before the third book came out. The bronze background, the hipster-demonhunter look - all very sexy.

Oh yes, did I mention these books were about demonhunters? I didn't know either, because I avoided reading the blurb beforehand. Well, I started reading the blurb of book three after I'd already started reading book one, then realized it was a terrible, horrible spoiler mistake. Bad. Idea. Anyway, yes. So this teenage girl discovers that not only is the world filled with demons and werewolves and faeries and stuff, and not only are there other human(?) beings who go around killing the demons and the other creatures who get out of control, but she's much more a part of their world than she ever knew. There's a really twisted sort of lovish kinda story that will, I am sure, be thoroughly ironed out in the next two books. It's a fast, fun read, more adventure than romance (sorry, Twilighters), and even though an enormous backstory has to be unraveled in the midst of present action and confusion, it never feels as though that history is forced, or worse, that it was made up as the writer went along. On the contrary, you learn everything at just the right time and in just the right way (except for one small detail that could have saved two characters some serious awkwardness and future therapy).

I did find myself getting annoyed with all the interruptions. It's one of Ms. Clare's writing tricks that she withholds information by interrupting her characters just as they're about to say or do something important - like Simon's declaration at the beginning of the book being drowned out by the sudden and ironic arrival of Jace. That sort of sudden arrival happens about every ten to fifteen pages. You can pretty much predict the entrance of a new character by the increasing importance of a conversation.

I also found character development to be a little awkward. There were pretty much two main characters in this book (I strongly suspect that by the third book Simon will be taking up more stage space than he's presently allowed, being a mundane). Jace was one of them, and he was very thoroughly and intricately presented. He's just the right kind of complicated, and we get to see it all. But most of the story is told from Clary's perspective (though not in the first person), so it would be nice if we had any kind of notion as to her personality. She's funny and brave and impulsive, but indistinct. None of her actions are very predictable, which makes her very convenient for a plot (i.e. if you want your characters to be suddenly and efficiently transported to another state, just make sure one of them is the sort who might spontaneously leap up and walk through a magic portal without provocation). But it also made the book very easy to put down. If the only investment I have in the story is my curiosity about punk supernatural warfare, we're on thin ground.

Thankfully, it's my Summer of Reading (not that I don't read every season of the year, but whatever), and thin ground or not, I'll be picking up the second book tonight.

6.14.2009

Feed, by M. T. Anderson

I finished Feed yesterday, but I thought of it last night while I was trying to fall asleep and I thought of it this morning on the way to church and I thought of it some more on the way home from Oxnard, watching the billboards shout out at me from along the 405. Feed is a classic dystopian science fiction novel. But unlike most of the ones we read in school, it was written very recently - with awareness of the internet/cellular world as a real and pervasive aspect of our culture. More than an aspect, really, because it's so much less than a cultural trait and so much more defining, essential. How do you explain to a child what the world was like before the internet? We aren't just accustomed to the immediacy of communication, globalization, universalized knowledge, etc. We simply can't function without it. In Feed, Anderson follows this to a natural conclusion. The book is set sometime in the future - however distant, I don't quite know - and computers are now planted in the brain during infancy so that all information is immediately accessible and all communication may be neatly managed via brain-to-brain 'chat'. People still talk, of course, but they don't write and they have no need to read.

Naturally, there's a cost to such advancement. The novel works on a variety of levels, unraveling the intricacies and atrocities of that cost with haunting, terrifying clarity. If you feel like you need a reason to change the world or even if you're just hankering after a swift kick in the pants, read it. I have a paperback copy anyone can borrow - just send a SASE.

6.11.2009

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Happy Birthday, Kathryn!

Happy..... okay, that's it.

Yesterday, returning to work several hours after my shift, I bought I boatload of books for blogreader Jenny B and a few for myself as well. I'd been staring at this book for about a year wondering how long it would take for me to buy and read it. Well, let me tell you: it took about a year.

M. T. Anderson is the brilliant author of the Octavian Nothing volumes, of which I am a remarkably big fan (though I confess I wish they weren't quite so long. how do you get teens to pick up tomes that ginormous? they have to really, really trust you...). Feed seeming nothing like my dear Octavian, I have known I would need to read this since I first clapped eyes on it. That, and my store of dystopian futuristic fiction is rather thin. I have yet to read (and this is another confession) Brave New World or 1984 - despite the fact that the first was assigned to me twice in my master's program.

Anyway, so starts the summer of book blogging. (I only just now in this very moment decided that it would be a summer of book blogging, so don't judge me too harshly if nothing comes of it). I haven't really reviewed any books since the fall, due to... um... ... I have no idea. Not reading anything good? That seems unlikely. Huh. I had every intention of reviewing Shannon Hale's newest novel The Actor and the Housewife, but I like her too much to say what I really think on the world wide web. I have high hopes for her next Bayern book, out in a few months, so we can just ignore all my arrogant opinions about her adult fiction.

If I don't post a good review of Feed in the next week or so, someone kick me. Not that it needs a review - it's been out for a good long while. But that's not the point. See you.

6.05.2009

roses

I trim the roses like a vampire.
First I kiss their petals,
then I ask permission.
With their last beauty, they thank me.
Then, gripping with a care for thorns
I graze the blade below the head down the stem,
looking for the bud of the bud.
then snip.
click. and toss into the pile.
Today I asked a rose,
and she said no. Not yet.
Her petals were browning
and her center was falling
beneath its own weight,
yet, the dignity of death is in the love of life,
the last clinging,
the 'I think not,' regardless of state,
drinking in breath and the smell of the earth,
the tiny patter of aphids.
The reaper, not grim but gracious,
gives her a kiss, smiles at her certainty,
then walks away -
the smooth of her petals
still on my lips.
I'll come again soon enough.

finds

I only crawled out of bed about half an hour ago, but I've already come across a number of phenomenal finds on this here interweb. The first was thanks to my friend Tara, who has begun her entrepreneuringhood in the fabulous world of etsy. For those who don't know it, let me enlighten you: www.etsy.com Welcome to Your Place To Buy and Sell All Things Handmade! About a month ago, I went into L.A. with my mother and sister to a sort of festival of handicrafts . Most of the people there, I think, sell their stuff on etsy as well. I've known about it for a while, but every now and then I discover something fresh and new and it fills me with new delight in this strange interconnected world we live in. Not everything crumbles with age! Some things are given new life. Here's a link to Tara's page. Keep and eye on it for updated merchandise.

So I was browsing etsy's handmade books, remembering how much I want to reprint MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin in a beautiful and worthy way. This reminded me that I needed to find out if it was in the public domain. So I went to Project Gutenberg, one of my favorite burrows of the world wide web, and hunted it down. Lo! It is free to the world! Very exciting. So then I was browsing Gutenberg's homepage, trying to figure out if all their texts were past copyright or only some of them. Someone was being clever, listing all the interesting things one can and cannot do with Project Gutenberg texts, and this link came up... prepare yourself.... for beauty: http://www.sublackwell.co.uk/gallery.php?id=1

Not much I can say after that.

6.02.2009

the roots of English


i love pretending to know where things come from and then finding out i'm right. found this here - i think i want to put it on my wall.


The dominion of Edward looks seriously shaken. Anyone who couldn't sympathize with the werewolf before will have some serious rethinking to do. Wow.
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