Friday, June 28, 2013

From Zero to Well-Read in 100 Books: Book Riot

From Zero to Well-Read in 100 Books: Book Riot

I'm sure we've all seen this list by now...I thought it might be interesting to see where I stand in this list before I actually talked about it and/or write my own version.

Books I've read and remember are in red.
Books I've started at one time or another are in green.
Books I want to read are in orange.
Books I own have an asterisk (*).
  1. *The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  2. *The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  3. *The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  4. *All Quiet on the Western Front by Eric Maria Remarque
  5. *The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay  by Michael Chabon
  6. *American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  7. *Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  8. *Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  9. *Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  10. *The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  11. *Beloved by Toni Morrison
  12. *Beowulf (in an anthology)
  13. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  14. *Brave New World by Alduos Huxley
  15. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  16. *The Call of the Wild  by Jack London
  17. *Candide by Voltaire
  18. *The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  19. *Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
  20. *Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  21. *The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  22. *Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  23. *Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  24. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
  25. *The Complete Stories of Edgar Allan Poe
  26. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor
  27. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  28. Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  29. *The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  30. *Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  31. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  32. Dream of Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
  33. *Dune by Frank Herbert
  34. *Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  35. *Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  36. *The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  37. Faust by Goethe
  38. *Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  39. *Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
  40. The Golden Bowl by Henry James
  41. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  42. *Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  43. *The Gospels (I actually have them in the Bible...can you buy them as stand-alones?)
  44. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  45. *Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  46. *The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  47. *Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  48. *The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  49. *Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  50. *Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (in an anthology)
  51. *The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  52. *The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  53. *The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  54. House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
  55. Howl by Allen Ginsberg
  56. *The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  57. if on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
  58. *The Iliad by Homer
  59. *The Inferno by Dante (in an anthology)
  60. *Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  61. *Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  62. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  63. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  64. *The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  65. The Little Prince by Antoine  de Saint-Exepury
  66. *Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  67. *Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  68. *Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  69. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  70. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  71. *Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  72. *Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  73. *The Odyssey by Homer
  74. *Oedipus, King by Sophocles
  75. *On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  76. *A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  77. The Pentateuch (again, I ask, can you buy these as stand-alones?)
  78. *Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  79. *Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  80. *The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  81. *Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare
  82. *The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  83. *Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  84. *The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner
  85. *The Stand by Stephen King
  86. *The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  87. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
  88. *Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  89. *Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  90. *The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  91. *To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  92. Ulysses by James Joyce
  93. *The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  94. *A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  95. Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
  96. *Watchmen by Alan Moore
  97. *White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  98. *Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  99. *1984 by George Orwell
    100. *50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Monday, June 17, 2013

Man of Steel: The Good, The Not-So Good and The...oh my gosh Henry Cavill is H-O-T!

I love Superman. I could watch and read about him for days. I love him as a superhero, I love him as an allegorical representation of American values and of globalization. I love him as a semiotic interpretation of what it means to be American (more on that here). He is the ultimate hero. I think that it is because of this love, not in-spite of it, that the latest incarnation of this hero leaves me wanting and yearning for a Superman who may not want to be the embodiment of a culture and who may not be the man I thought he was. I'm not sure I can exactly explain why Man of Steel doesn't have me doing cartwheels naked in the rain, but I'll try below.

Here is the requisite spoiler alert...of course, there are going to be spoilers. If you've never seen a Superman movie or watched "Smallville" or "Lois and Clark" or a Star Wars movie, or the Matrix trilogy, you might want to avert your eyes.

The Good
  1. It's Superman, how could it not be good. There are so many touching human scenes (mostly told in flashback, my favorite device) to tell us the story of Superman and, if you think you know the story think again because some aspects have been turned on their heads in surprising mostly not unpleasant ways.
  2. It would seem that everyone knows who Superman really is, as he's been traveling the world under assumed names, which I found interesting to see played out in the movie.
  3. Lois Lane is not a girly girl, although she looks like one. Because she figures out who Superman is early on, we get to see all the mushy romantic stuff and it doesn't get kissed away at the end.
  4. I love that there's so much time devoted to Krypton and Krypton is marvelous. There's some sort of flying dragon creature and tall dark buildings and pod babies (think The Matrix, not Pod people). Russell Crowe rocks as Jor-El (and, he better as we get to see a lot of him throughout the movie--another pleasant surprise) and I like the Lara is a fleshed out character who doesn't just wilt into the snowy white background.
  5. General Zod isn't just a villain he's a terrorist. And, like most terrorist he's literally been programmed to keep Krypton and his way of life safe by any means necessary. Wow, that's powerful to watch.
The Not-So Good
  1. I am tired, literally, of fight scenes that last so long that I forget who's fighting and why; I forget what I'm watching. There is a fight scene at the end of this movie that makes those long scenes in The Matrix: Reloaded and Revolutions seem short and kind of wimpy). Where are all the people? Aren't Superman and General Zod killing half of Metropolis as they throw each other into the sky to come crashing down on cars and lamp poles? Isn't Metropolis smashed into the ground, as they use each other to knock down entire buildings and turn whole entire city blocks into burning piles of debris? It feels like the filmmakers thought we'd just forget that. I can't, as that's some epic destruction that will take years to rebuild. That's a lot of trauma to the innocent lives of people we see scurrying away from the ruble and the flames.
  2. Call me a purist, but I really don't like Jonathan Kent in this movie. To clarify or muddy the waters, whatever, I totally like the way Kevin Costner plays Jonathan Kent, but his stubborn, Jesus-like sacrifice is a bit much.
  3. Where's my funny witty dialogue via Lois and Clark banter?
  4. Where's my NERDY Clark!? He was on screen for about 10 seconds...instead we get Rugged Frontier Clark for about half the movie. Rugged? Clark? Even shirtless, I didn't really like it.
  5. Ok, so I'm only well-schooled in certain aspects of Superman lore and mythology, but isn't he not supposed to kill anyone? I do not like that he snaps the neck of General Zod to save that family. I understand that Zod didn't give him a choice, I understand that Zod couldn't go on living if his plan didn't work, I understand that it would have been improbable if Zod had lived in the end but did Superman really HAVE TO SNAP HIS [INSERT YOUR CUSSWORD OF CHOICE] NECK!? I don't think so and that whole bit felt like it was on purpose as I think I was able to adjust to every part of this reboot, but that. It kind of reminded me of that part in Star Wars Episode III...I spent most of I and II wondering how they were going to make Anakin evil enough that he'd go to the dark side and when he kills that group of little adorable Jedi padawans it broke my heart in a way that I've yet to recover. I'm having that same feeling now. And, while he feels remorse and cries into Lois' waiting arms he friggin' SNAPPED HIS NECK! Ohhhh, the humanity.

The...oh my gosh Henry Cavill is H-O-T
I'm sorry I only gave him a slight nod when seeing him in Stardust a few years back. Perfect Superman...the proof is below.

and, finally...

The Elephant in the Room
I really, really like Superman Returns. I suppose I like it because it helps me to forget those awful movies after Superman II and it reminisces a bygone era and pays homage to the late and perfectly great Christopher Reeves and his 'Superman Saga'...I don't understand how people think this is a bad thing.

In conclusion to this long Superman ramble...
Will I watch it again? Yes (maybe in the theatres, since my husband didn't go see it with me). Will I own it on Blu-Ray the second it comes out? Of course. Will I watch the next one, although I have no idea where they're going to go after this? Most definitely, and in the theatres. Will I learn to gush and love it as much as other people seem to do? I dunno, ask me tomorrow, right now I'm busy watching Superman and Superman II, after that I may watch ...Returns, you know, for closer.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lifetime Movies: The Drinking Game

Here's the deal, I've got a rather big confession to make. I love Lifetime movies. This includes all those Sunday night movies from the 80s, Hallmark movies, and any movie that actually came out in the movie theatres that should have been a LTM--you know what movies I'm talking about Dying Young and Stepmom (what's up with the sappy movies, Julia?) and Sweet November come to mind.

I am now at the time in my summer where I'm spending my free time reading books and watching Lifetime movies. They're my favorite time-wasters, what's not to like about them? They have pretty people, romance, drama, excellent dialogue, superb acting, catchy titles and wonderful life lessons. They can be watched alone, tissue in hand (admit it, some of them really do pull at your heart-strings) or with a group where all of the above become a way for you to let off steam as you laugh at/with (?) the people and plot.

I believe the best joy of a LTM is that I can love and be totally in one of these movies while still laughing my butt off at the absurdity of it all. Of course, this brings to me my next point and to the title of my post...I have no idea why I've never thought of this before, LTMs should be a drinking game! I've googled and found several, but they don't really address some of the finer points of the reasons why I watch LTMs--the points that require the cerebrum. My friend and I decided the drinking game would be more fun if we drank kool-aide instead of alcoholic beverages (as lame/cheesetastic movies call for lame/cheesetastic entertainment), although I see how it could go either way, especially after a stressful week of grading and such.

So, here's the game, and, yes, I know this may be the most inappropriate post I've ever written, but I really wanted to share...really, really, really.

Take a drink every time...
  • there's a flashback. Take two drinks if the flashback is hazy because there's some sort of filter on the lens or if the flashback is in black and white when the rest of the movie is in color.
  • the mother is wretchedly horrible. Take another if that means the mother lies to 'protect' her children. Take another if the mother plots to or actually kills someone to 'protect' her children.
  • someone dies. Guzzle if the death is the major plot point of the movie and requires tears from the audience.
  • if the actors look at the camera, therefore breaking the fourth wall.
  • the death of someone is mentioned, especially if it's a catalyst for a life-changing event.
  • you see or hear the mention of a diary/journal/old letters.
  • if the movie is based on a true story.
  • you cry.
  • a woman cries. Take two if a man cries. Take another if he cries because of some sort of abuse reversal.
  • there's a montage. Add another if that montage is in a flashback.
  • there's an 'inappropriate' relationship. You be the judge of what's inappropriate. My favorites are step-children falling in love with each other and May-December romances where the woman is older and the man is almost not a man. Drink another if someone you are with doesn't understand your definition of 'inappropriate', you prude!
  • oh, heck, guzzle during the 15 minutes of the movie that has the couple yearning as they go their different ways--although they don't want to do so. at. all. If the whole movie revolves around this plot point, um, you may be drunk or have to pee (for those kool-aide drinkers) by the end.
  • drink if there are bandages. Drink more if there are crutches. Drink more if there's a terminal illness. Drink more if there are missing limbs. If those missing limbs are due to an accident or a war, pass your drink to a friend make sure the friend drinks before giving it back.
  • if it's Christmas.
  • if it's Thanksgiving.
  • when the title is mentioned (and, it will be mentioned, however, some are more subtle than others). If the title is the name of a person, drink every time that person is called by name. If the title is also in the title away.
  • if there are abandoned children. Take 3 drinks if those abandoned children become killers.
  • if there are children and the adults are hard to find or are dumb or act like children.
  • every time you notice the 'acting'...shout 'acting' before drinking.
  • guzzle if a person of color is in the lead-role and this person actually just has a normal he isn't accused of a crime or...oh, wait, there are no LTMs that have people of color in lead roles. Drink if there's actually a person of color in the movie at all. Drink two if that person is defying a stereotype. Drink again because you recognized said stereotype--shame on you.
  • if the guy is persistent and it doesn't seem creepy or stalkerish in any way. 
  • if the movie was once a book. Drink again if you knew that without looking it up. Drink again if you had to look it up, why didn't you already read the book?
  • if there's a voice-over. Drink again if the voice-over is during the montage.
  • if you fall in love with the romantic lead (male or female) at the end of the movie.
  • if there's a:
    • cheerleader, sports player, doctor, lawyer-1 drink
    • artist or writer-2 drinks 
    • a divorced woman in mourning-3 drinks
    • a divorced man in mourning-4 drinks
    • a dentist-5're going to need them as the movie is going to be pretty intense
Best played with the following:
Brian's Song
Dancing at the Harvest Moon
Doing Time on Maple Drive
For the Very First Time
A Kidnapping in the Family (or, as my friend calls it, "My Mom Stole My Baby")
Our House (or, as another friend of mine and I like to call it, "Ruth's Roses")
She Fought Alone
Sin of Innocence
The Love Letter
The Promise
Thursday's Child
[insert your favorite LTM here]

More games can be found here (warning these don't call for kool-aide): HeadDesk, Philolzophy


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