Thursday, October 01, 2009

September in Summary

September in Summary Amazingly enough, nobody died in September and we did not go to the emergency even one time. Woohoo! It is a sad thing when you can say that a month is better merely because nobody died but things have simply been that sad since April Fool’s Day. Rob has had a roller-coaster month. He went to see BB King in concert; he started injecting insulin. Snowdoll turned 2 but I was sick and didn’t take pictures as I had planned. I went dress shopping with Kanika. Rob and I had some Thai food (ginger chicken). Rob and I celebrated our 4th Engagement Anniversary. Still no plans to marry but we are still very happily engaged. There was a lot of rain in September so I struggled with how I was feeling most of the month. In the end, I managed to do yoga every day and sometimes I even did more—whether more was walking or biking or whatever. And so the month has closed with a sigh, not a whimper nor a roar. Books Read Redwall by Brian Jacques Beautiful Boy by David Sheff Stitches by David Small Leaping Poetry by Robert Bly Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway Haiku by Johanna Brownell Managing Depression With Qigong by Frances Gaik Legends Volume 1 edited by Robert Silverberg Star Wars and Philosophy edited by Kevin S Decker and Jason T Eberl The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo After the Quake by Horuki Murakami Legends Volume 2 edited by Robert Silverberg Picking a favorite book this month is hard. Beautiful Boy and Stitches are both wonderful. So is After the Quake. And for those who love poetry, who love reading about the how and why of poetry, then Leaping Poetry by Robert Bly is great too. ARGH! Too many good books this month so I refuse to name one as a favorite. Movies Seen The Story of Sweeney Todd—Ben Kingsley is too good an actor for something this dreadful. Shane—Classic western full of overwrought acting from Arthur and understated acting from Ladd. I think the affectation of the boy as observer was interesting. Wonder Boys—I’m not a fan of Michael Douglas but I am of Robert Downey Jr. This is a quirky film and I enjoyed it more than I could have anticipated. Tarzan—Finally watched the Disney version of this movie classic. Yeah. Definitely a Disney movie, complete with multiple deaths at the beginning and more deaths along the way. When Nietzche Wept—Movie based on a novel I’ve never read. I’ve a feeling I should’ve read the book and skipped the move altogether. 300—This movie made me wish I had read the graphic novel. I am not crazy about digitalized movies but I can see why they gave it a try with this movie. Lonesome Dove—I read and thoroughly enjoyed this novel ages ago. Now I can say I’ve seen the movie which was well acted but made me less appreciative of the novel. Goya’s Ghost—Well acted melodramatic nonsense. Natalie Portman is amazing but the movie, over all, left me unimpressed. Television Quick. Name that show! Medical professional, very arrogant and a bit rude but really knows their stuff. Addicted to prescription pain pills. Not afraid to bend the rules to get to a cure or a dose. Surrounded by interesting people and even a little sexual tension. Don't cheat . . . you have to guess before reading on . . . c'mon . . . play along with me. House, right? Wrong. Nurse Jackie, a SHO series, has come up with a show about a nurse who really knows her stuff but who is addicted to pain medication. And to say more would be to give too much away, not that the big surprise at the end of episode one was really that much of a surprise. Well acted and written, one would assume that this show would be edgier than House (after all, Nurse Jackie is on cable and House is not) but, aside from more nudity and maybe more blood and guts, this show really isn’t pushing any non-network programming envelopes. If you like House, you might like this show but you also might find it too derivative. If you find House (the character) too arrogant and lacking in any compassion you may prefer Nurse Jackie, the show and character. Either way, the show reinforces the concept that there really isn’t very much new or interesting on television. Not even on cable television.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Legends Volume 2 edited by Robert Silverberg

Legends Volume 2 edited by Robert Silverberg is another collection of short novels by authors who are known for their series of fantasy novels. In this edition Terry Goodkind, George R R Martin and Anne McCaffrey all offer stories. Unfortunately, in this edition nobody explained to the editors the difference between insure and ensure or assure and so, once again, one has to wonder who the hell is doing the final revision on these stories? I mean, honestly! I was already interested in reading Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth books and the novella included in this volume convinced me that it is a series I will want to read. I need to first determine whether or not the final book has been released because I truly don’t want to go through what I did with the Second Thomas Covenant Chronicles nor with Harry Potter. Enough of waiting for the next volume to be released! George R R Martin is the big surprise for me in this volume (and so far the big one in both volumes) because I had heard his name but not read any of his books nor had anyone recommend any of his books to me. “The Hedge Knight” was an interesting, if somewhat predictable, story about a typical jousting tournament that quickly turns into something far more complicated and political. The descriptions were lovely and I could easily visualize everything Martin was writing. I am now eager to check out his Song of Ice and Fire series. The third and final novella in this collection is by Anne McCaffrey whose Dragons of Pern books have become iconic. I read the Harper Hall Trilogy when it was first released and devoured the Dragonriders of Pern Trilogy shortly thereafter. I even wrote McCaffrey a letter and she was gracious enough to write me back. I have not, however, read any of the other Pern books because I lost interest in the mythology behind the Pern books after the first two trilogies. After reading this novel I had to wonder if McCaffrey gets paid by the ellipses; after all, Dickens was paid by the word which explains why he used so many to say so little. The only justification for her use (abuse) of ellipses is that she gets paid residuals from some punctuation gods for doing so.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

After the Quake by Horuki Murakami

After the Quake by Horuki Murakami is a collection of short stories, poetically expressed, infused with the single event of an earthquake that struck Kobe, Japan in 1995. Each story shares a different character’s experiences after the earthquake. Whether the characters are sympathetic, apathetic, or simply pathetic, between the lines is the numbness that follows a traumatic event. These stories are the aftershocks of what happened and the different ways in which the protagonists and the other characters fight to cope with the unthinkable events that occurred. There is an enigmatic quality to the stories and yet each is so evocative that I found myself needing to stop before reading the next one, to live with the story before moving into the next. This book was recommended to my son who allowed me to borrow his copy. I’ve been reading more short story collections lately. This one has made me want to read more, not only by Murakami but others. I can only hope that the same quiet beauty with which he has infused his short stories is also contained in his novels. All I know is that I cannot single out any one story as a favorite because they are all so powerful for different reasons. [I]f you put those feeling into words they will turn into lies. (107) What you need more than anything is discipline. Cast off mere words. Words turn into stone. (107)