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Archive: April 2006

Continued unblogging

So I’m definitely not back to regular blogging—OK, I’ve never managed to blog very regularly, but anyway, I’m definitely not prepared even for monthly blogging at this point. We’ll have to see how it goes when my semester ends in a couple weeks. In the meantime, I’ve decided to join the world of Web 2.0 and start participating in Flickr (see also the rose and steven group) and So far I’ve only uploaded the photos from our trip to New Orleans and many photos of our pet cat.

As long as I’m writing, I might as well write a little more. I think the only movie other than Brokeback Mountain that Rose and I have seen in a theater this year is V for Vendetta. Oh, no, we also saw Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. I need to read Laurence Sterne’s novel so I can understand how it works as an adaptation, but it works well standing alone too. As far as this kind of movie goes, I think it’s more frivolous than and probably less frivolous than Adaptation.

But V for Vendetta. We weren’t initially planning to see it, because it looked pretty stupid. But William Gibson recommended it and John Pistelli at Maxims and Reflections had a whole series of entertaining posts (“Ideas are Bulletproof,” “Re-review,” “Brands are Ideaproof,” “A Shamanic Soldier Priest” [tangentially related]) that really made me want to see the movie. So I did. Twice, in fact: once on my own because Rose was otherwise occupied and then again with Rose. I think Alan Moore’s book doesn’t translate well to cinema—it might have worked better as a much longer movie or a miniseries. It needs an ensemble cast and time to develop several protagonists. The movie jettisons pretty much everything from the book except V’s story and follows a more conventional heroic adventure format that misses much of the book’s political sophistication. I guess Evey’s story is largely intact, especially her imprisonment, but it suffers in comparison with Evey’s story in the book. Movie Evey is older than Book Evey, and this allows her to be less dependent on V. But the filmmakers replace Book V and Book Evey’s coercive power-imbalanced relationship with a more conventional romantic subplot that appears unexpectedly and arbitrarily near the end of the movie. (I certainly wasn’t expecting that kiss, anyway.) I prefer the movie’s less Stockholm Syndrome-esque version of Evey’s escape from prison, but I prefer the book’s less sentimental version of Evey’s final crisis and climax after V’s death.

Other V for Vendetta thoughts, maybe for writing about in the future:

  • The prologue and epilogue with Evey admonishing the viewer that the man is more important than the man’s ideas: why do the filmmakers undermine V’s claim that ideas are bulletproof?
  • The surprising prosperity and invisibility of class and poverty in this fascist dystopia which lost at least several tens of thousands people from its population to plague and genocide, in a world where the U.S.A. has disintegrated into civil war and the Middle East has presumably done the same or been destroyed entirely. I’m sure it’s U.S. culture’s typical blindness to economic inequality—everybody’s middle class in TV land—but it seems especially egregious in such a political polemical movie.

March Reading List

Not such an exciting month, but the first to feature audio books since two interstate trips necessitated something to help me keep my eyes on the road.

The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Sarah Vowell, read by the author and famous pals
I know everyone thinks Sarah Vowell’s voice is the hottest thing ever, but it definitely took some time to grow on me, though grow it did to some degree. I like the authorial intent side of hearing a writer read her own work, but it can be unsettling too. I don’t want to know that Vowell says “R. E.” for “Re:” any more than I wanted to know that William Gibson says “ock-TAYVE” or pronounces “Jean” the same way whether it refers to a boy or a girl. Though since I’m a heretic and hadn’t read much of Sarah Vowell’s writing anyway, it won’t hurt me much to hear her voice subvocalizing next time I come to it. I’m still on the lookout for the audio version of Assassination Vacation, at least part of which should be perfect preparation for another trip to Buffalo.

Where Girls Come First: The Rise, Fall, and Surprising Revival of Girls’ Schools, Ilana DeBare
I went to an all-girls high school, although the Catholic sort that only warrants a chapter here, so I have strong feelings about the potentials for success in all-female environments. DeBare, in working to found a non-religious independent and progressive school for girls, began researching the history of girls’ schools and realized there was a lot more of that independent mindset in the schools that had come before her than many people would assume. There’s not a lot of depth here, but it covers a lot of ground and I found it entertaining and interesting reading. I’ve been thinking a lot about education recently and reading a lot of parent blogs and educator blogs where such things are discussed. I sure am glad to be able to think about this more as theory than practice.

Stiffs: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers, Mary Roach, read by Shelly Frasier
As a road book, this was more than tolerable, though I found the reading boring. It’s painful to listen to a slow reader and I keep wanting to push ahead to a comfortable pace the way I would if I were in control. Also I was horrified that they didn’t get someone who knew the difference between “cavalry” and “Calvary” or how to pronounce “Turin” since that kept cropping up. I’m still not sold on audio books mostly because I prefer to read idiosyncratically, but this was an engaging enough book that made the miles and miles of Ohio pass more pleasantly.

The Telling, Ursula Le Guin
Indeed, I reread it. Still beautiful and haunting and true.

Confessions of a Cineplex Heckler: Celluloid Tirades and Escapades, Joe Queenan
I got this because it was cheap, knowing nothing about it. Queenan has a collection of anecdotes about movies he’s seen and reviewed, the sort of thing that nowadays you’d find on a blog. I don’t know if he and I share a ton of common ground in terms of aesthetic preferences (except a mutual dislike for the near-mandatory scenes where some guy gets kicked in the crotch) but I decided to not really argue with anything and just see how much entertainment I could get out of it, which was enough for the tiny amount of time it took to work my way through each article.

Holidays on Ice, David Sedaris, read by the author
Another car trip. Maybe this shouldn’t count because I had Steven shut off the cd with the one about the tv producer at the Southern church, especially because I didn’t want to hear that horrible Christmas letter. But I’ve read the book before, which is how I knew what to skip. I’d wanted to actually hear The SantaLand Diaries and that was worth it, but ooooooh does the fictiony fiction hurt.

I’m reading other books but I didn’t finish any of them. I was aiming for a lot of non-fiction this time around but only managed a little bit, or perhaps lots of little bits.

“Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite”

Edited to change “Space Opera” to “Space Odyssey” because my error was annoying me.

I do have a pitifully short list of books I read during March as well as all sorts of thoughts about how much I loved (and love and aim to keep loving) Gray Horses. Then there’s more about weird relationship issues in other books, but mostly it’s spring and I’m lazy and tired and overworked and this is what you get from me today.

Instead what you get is (BUM BUM BUM)

Saffron reacts to the movie.

our cat’s first year of participation in International Record Your Cat Reacting to 2001: A Space Odyssey Day, although given her age it’s also her first year of eligibility.

Saffron is decidedly not a fan. The music creeped her out and she wouldn’t go near the screen unless, as in the photo, Steven forced her to look while I snapped a photo. She seems to have recovered well and is sleeping happily on my feet now, so at least this story has a happy and easily comprehensible ending.