Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fantasy Cast #3: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami Day 4

From my first ever fantasy cast of The Fountainhead:
So, in my obsession with blog reading I've come across several blogs that fantasy cast books that they love. I truly enjoy these fantasy cast because they encompass a variety of actors, actresses and let me get to know the book to see if I want to read it or to compel me to want to read it again. 
Fantasty casting takes three hobbies I love (reading, writing and cinema) and puts them together in one neat little package of happiness. It let's me take actors from different time periods and mesh them all together into one perfect cast. I'm sure this is why guys enjoy Fantasty Football Leagues so much, they get to have the ultimate team that encompasses the best of the sport!
The moment I started reading 1Q84 I wanted to fantasy cast it. What was hindering me was the fact that all the actors had to be Asian...more importantly they had to be Japanese and then I started reading. First I found this and this and was ashamed, this very interesting forum thread at CBR and this very interesting thread from the Reviewing the Kanji forum, helped solidify my thinking about Asian actors, well, all actors for that matter, then I read this and felt ashamed again, then here I realized that people can be pretty darned racist (Keanu Reeves can't be in "47 Ronin" because he's only "1/6 Asian. That's hardly anything and he doesn't look Asian at all."--um, ugh.)  and, finally, I read this and realized that no matter what there'd be hot water somewhere, but I couldn't stop thinking about it...so below you will find a fantasy cast with Asian actors, some of which are not Japanese. It's my fantasy...that's all, nothing more...oh, that, and the fact that I find Russell Wong so...um...incredibly..uh...there are no words, really, that I couldn't help thinking about him sitting on a slide staring at two moons.

My other two fantasy cast can be found here and here.

All character descriptions, save the bottom one, are from Wikipedia. Oh, and I didn't cast the Little People, I figured they'd be one person computer-generated into 6 or 7 (like the Oompa Loompas), only their clothes would be different colors...same style.

Tengo
"The second of the novel's point-of-view characters, he is an unpublished novelist who works as a math tutor at a prep school. His mother died when he was very young; his earliest memory is of his mother in bed with a man who was not Tengo's father. His father worked for NHK going door-to-door collecting the network's reception fee, and he used to make Tengo go with him every Sunday."



OK, ok...I know that Russell Wong is slightly too old to play Tengo (and, in real life would be cast as like Tamaru or something), but this is a fantasy cast and Russell Wong is just too dark, deep and handsome to have not crept into my conscious while reading this novel. Although Tengo has cauliflower ears (yes, that is the description of his ears), and Murakami goes out of his way to make him sound big, hulking and unattractive, I'm sure that he is quite attractive.

Aomame
"One of the three point-of-view characters of the novel, Aomame is a thirty-year-old woman working as part of an enigmatic organization for which she commits carefully selected murders. Her full name is Masami Aomame but she goes by her last name which means "green peas". As a child, she was a Jehovah's Witness and distributed religious materials with her family on weekends."




You already know how I feel about how she is portrayed. I just think Aomame is pretty kick-ass and what better way to invision her than with this most kick-ass actress.


Fuka-Eri
"A slight but striking 17-year-old high school student whose manuscript, Kūki Sanagi (空気さなぎAir Chrysalis), is entered in a literary contest. She is extremely reticent, with an unusual, abrupt way of speaking, and what seems to be an apathetic view of life. She also suffers from dyslexia and struggles in school. Her pen name is taken from her real name, Eriko Fukada." 



Rika Izumi...and, no I don't know why I'm getting the Sailor Moon vibe.


The Dowager
"Her name is Shizue Ogata. She is a wealthy woman in her mid-70s. She lives in the "Willow House" in the Azabu neighborhood and has set up a safe house nearby for women who are victims of domestic violence. Meets Aomame through the sports club she attends, and she later on convinces her to take on the job of taking out targets, men who are guilty of heavy domestic abuse."



Dowager in my head...first time...OK, actually every time. Could someone please tell me how/why this character popped into my head???





The Dowager...second time. I think it's Kieu Chinh's high cheekbones that make me think dowager.

Tamaru
"A 40-year-old man who is the dowager's bodyguard. He is homosexual and he is actually a Korean immigrant who spent part of his young life in an orphanage. Has a fondness for dogs."



Every time there was a scene that involved Tamaru, all I could think about was the character Kimball Cho, in The Mentalist. I understand that Tim Kang is not as broad of shoulder as one might imagine Tamaru to be, but I didn't think Tom Cruise would work as Jack Reacher, either.

The Leader
"He is the founder of Sakigake, and he can hear the voices of the little people. He is also the father of Fuka-Eri, and his real name is Tamotsu Fukada. He acts as a prophet for Sakigake. He suffers from mysterious diseases, which cause him a great deal of pain and stiffness, which sometimes cause his body to become completely rigid and numb."



Um...look at that face. Leader. Master. 


Komatsu

"A 45-year-old editor of a publishing company. He lives his daily life on his own schedule, seemingly oblivious to the rhythms of people around him, and often calls Tengo in the middle of the night. Although Komatsu enjoys a good professional reputation for his competence, he is not seen to be an amicable person. Little is known about his private life beyond rumors."



Sure, you're thinking of the amount of 'him' you get to see in The Hangover movies, but we all know he's more than that. As this character we get to see his other side, ruthless editor, who very quickly gets in way over his head.

 
Ushikawa

"A grotesquely ugly man hired by Sakigake to investigate Tengo and, later, Aomame. He becomes a point-of-view character in part three of the novel. He is tireless in his investigation, but he is not a member of Sakigake himself. He had a wife and two daughters earlier in his life, but he is now divorced and separated from them."

OK, in all truthfullness, I thought of Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's




How PC is that??? Not at all...and, then I thought of this guy Victor Wong III...perfect as a strangely unattractive soon to be enduring character. This character reminds me of Helen Steeply in IJ...is he really what he seems?





Professor Ebisuno

"A man in his mid 60's who is Fuka-Eri's caretaker. Has an apartment in Shinanomachi. Used to work in Academia alongside Fuka-Eri's father before Mr. Fukada went with 30 of his students to start Sakigake."



Seems innocent enough and then 'bam'...he has his own agenda.

Ayumi

26 year-old police woman who's relationship with Aomami is perfect, as they both use drinking and men to let off steam and as diversions from horrible things that happened in their youths, and not-so-perfect because, well she's a police officer and Aomami is an assassin. 





Li Gong looks like a sweet girl who could give Aomame a run for her money. She just so super cute that I can't image her ever having a bad day, but I can also see how she could show Ayumi's darker side.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

1Q84: Day 3

1Q84...The Art
I started Haruki Murakami's 1,000+ page novel on the 3rd of February and finished on Sunday. A book that long doesn't really get covered properly in one blog post, so I'm thinking this is going to be a week of 1Q84...lots of spoilers, lots of commentary, so be warned should you choose to read on. I thought I'd spend some time looking through the interwebs inspired fan art.

I love looking around the internet for book fan art...here are some of the cool examples that I've found for this novel.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

1Q84: Day 2

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The Rabbit Hole
I started Haruki Murakami's 1,000+ page novel on the 3rd of February and finished on Sunday. A book that long doesn't really get covered properly in one blog post, so I'm thinking this is going to be a week of 1Q84...lots of spoilers, lots of commentary, so be warned should you choose to read on. Day Two is all about connections.

What I thought about, or what my brain meandered to while reading 1Q84:

Dune
The dohta and the maza remind me a lot of the ghola in these novels. A ghola is a  recreation of a person who is deceased using tissues and cells from the dead person. The ghola Duncan Idaho has all the memories of Duncan and can have new experiences and create new memories. He's Duncan and different than Duncan at the same time.

The Matrix
Worlds within worlds within worlds...what is real? And, in the end of the novel Aomame is able to manipulate her world much like Neo is able to manipulate his. "There is no spoon."

Vanilla Sky


Infinite Jest
I was telling my friend that 1Q84 was really easy to understand because after reading IJ, I can read anything!!! Both novels turn what we think of as the traditional novel form on its head, and if you go into either wanting an ending that, well, ends you'd be looking at the wrong set of novels. It's interesting how both novels do whatever it takes to take you out of and keep you out of the action while keeping you part of the experience and keeping you part of the story.

Nikita and Basic Instinct
So, we've been talking about the first four chapters in Reading the Chunksters and I mentioned that Aomame reminds me of Nikita (although I believe the actress who plays Nikita is Chinese) and someone else said that she reminded them of Sharon Stone because of the ice-pick.



X-Files: Fight the Future
Special Agent Fox Mulder: Whatever happened to playing a hunch, Scully? The element of surprise, random acts of unpredictability? If we fail to anticipate the unforeseen or expect the unexpected in a universe of infinite possibilities, we may find ourselves at the mercy of anyone or anything that cannot be programmed, categorized or easily referenced. 

2001: A Space Odyssey (I had thought about this book before it was mentioned directly, so I'm counting it twice...you'll be seeing it again tomorrow)
I started reading 2001: A Space Odyssey several weeks ago, as my Nook had died, I was waiting and I needed something to pass the time. I've only read the first two chapters, but that part at the beginning with the apes and their fascination with the moon...that unexplained fashion with the moon...isn't lost on me.

Various Fairy-Tales
Snow White
Girl lives with seven little people who were simple clothing and sing while they work...
Rapunzel
Girl trapped in a sparse tower, gets pregnant, saves boy...
The 12 Dancing Princesses
Girls go out every night, father doesn't know where, finally a wise prince figures out their secret...
Jack and the Beanstalk
Boy climbs a magical beanstalk finds a whole new world where a giant lives...
King Midas
Having everything that you touch turn to gold isn't really as good as it sounds...
Rumpelstiltskin
For a steep price, creepy guy spins straw into gold...
The Elves and the Shoemaker
At night little elves fix shoes for a cobbler...

The Wizard of Oz

Back to the Future
Might I suggest not watching this movie while reading 1Q84...hmmm, might I suggest not watching this movie while reading The Great Gatsby..."Can't repeat the past? Why, of course, you can!"

Doctor Emmet Brown: ...No man should know too much about his own destiny.

Star Wars
The balance of the Force...

and, finally...

I See The Moon
I see the moon and the moon sees me
And the moon sees the one that I long to see.
So God bless the moon and God bless me
And God bless the one that I long to see.
It seems to me that God above
Created you for me to love.
He picked you out of all the rest
Because he knew I loved you the best.
I once had a heart called mine you see,
But now it's gone to you from me.
So take good care as I have done
For you have two and I have none.
I see the moon and the moon sees me
And the moon sees the one that Iong to see.
So God bless the moon and God bless me
And God bless the one that I long to see

Monday, February 18, 2013

1Q84: Day 1

Reader's Discussion Questions
I started Haruki Murakami's 1,000+ page novel on the 3rd of February and finished on Sunday. A book that long doesn't really get covered properly in one blog post, so I'm thinking this is going to be a week of 1Q84...lots of spoilers, lots of commentary, so be warned should you choose to read on. I thought I'd start out by answering the reader's guide questions, which can be found here, as I'm not really sure I can truly put my experience with the novel in my own words at the moment.

1. 1Q84 is a vast and intricate novel. What are the pleasures of reading such a long work, of staying with the same characters over such a long period of time?
This answer is simple the pleasure is that the people and places are so detailed that they become part of your person. Without meaning to and without your consent they change the way you think and feel because you spend so much time in the world the author has created. What's also interesting is that the author feels like a close-friend. This novel is no exception...I was sad to see the characters go, and if I met Mr. Murakami on the street I'd want to invite him for a cup of coffee.

2. Murakami has said he is a fan of the mystery writer Elmore Leonard. What elements of the mystery genre does 1Q84 employ? How does Murakami keep readers guessing about what will happen next? What are some of the book’s most surprising moments?
Elements of a mystery novel:
1] A main character who has the information it takes to solve the problem with back-up characters who believable help the main character on the journey
In this case there are two main characters and we could argue day and night about which one has the most information, but let's not. There are two main characters (Aomame and Tengo) and these two characters are trapped in a world different from our own, destine to meet one another, and are part of a much large fight...a fight which is more/different than a fight between good and evil. While there are several characters who help and hinder along the way, the story is truly theirs.
2] A believable setting
While I have never been to Japan (my mother was born in Kyoto in 1947) I have never wanted to go more than I want to go after reading this book...that's how believable this setting is. The setting is more than just Japan though as we have Fuka-eri's story, the setting of Tengo and Aomame's stories, respectively and the setting of the world that is created when these stories crash and collide and split apart and come together again, and it's all believable.
3] A suspenseful plot
By creating a story that is told from the point-of-view of two characters in the first two books and three in the third, and final installment, we are successfully kept on our toes...I mean seriously I just read 400 of pages of near misses and almost meetings between two people who haven't seen one another in 20 years and I lapped up every word. Actually, by th end of the book I wanted there to be more...lots more, as Murakami answers lots of questions and poses lots more, some of which aren't meant to be answered by going back to the book. Which he tells us all along...if things can't be understood without explanation they really can't be understood at all.
4] A problem or problems to be solved
Um, let's see Aomame, an assassin of abusive men, enters a world unlike her own. However, it is in this world, and only this world, that she and a boy who has changed her life can be together. Problems...where is Tengo? who is the Leader? who are the Little People? what are good and evil? what is the 'question'? whose story is being told? who is Fuka-eri?
5] A believable solution to said problem or problems
Sure, not everything has to have answers to be believed. We become part of the story.

3. Why would Murakami choose to set his story in 1984, the year that would serve as the title for George Orwell’s famous novel about the dangers of Big Brother?
I don't know exactly, definitely reading that book again! But, I'm sure it has something to do with Big Brother watching...except in this novel Big Brother is Murakami, Big Brother is also the Leader, Tengo and finally Aomame, as she creates her own world and understands that she can write her own story. Oh, and then there's the obvious...it needed to be a time with technology, but without the internet...

4. The taxi driver in Chapter 1 warns Aomame that things are not what they seem, but he also tells her: “Don’t let appearances fool you. There’s always only one reality” (p. 9). Does this statement hold true throughout the novel? Is there only one reality, despite what appears to be a second reality that Aomame and Tengo enter?
What we perceive is what is true...so, the only reality is the one that is perceived which means there's only one story and this is the story of Tengo and Aomami. I love the idea that all of this (and, there's lots of this) occurs so two people, who wouldn't have tried otherwise, can be together.

5. Aomame tells Ayumi: “We think we’re choosing things for ourselves, but in fact we may not be choosing anything. It could be that everything's decided in advance and we pretend we’re making choices. Free will may be an illusion” (p. 192). Do the events in the novel seem fated or do the characters have free will?
Nothing is fated. We learn that we can choose to have free will. We learn that we write our own histories. We also learn that our hearts will write our stories when our minds are too full or convoluted and our muscles are too weak to run.

6. When Tamaru bids goodbye to Aomame, he says: “If you do go somewhere far away and I never see you again, I know I’ll feel a little sad. You’re a rare sort of character, a type I’ve seldom come across before” (p. 885). What type of person is Aomame? What qualities make her extraordinary?
Aomame is that perfect female character, she's sexy and thoughtful and passionate, and you believe she could willfully kill men with nothing but a make-shift, ever so sharp, ice-pick, have dirty sex with strangers and be totally head-over heels in love with a boy she never really talked to and hasn't seen in 20 years. She is a woman that is so angry over the death of her friend she becomes an assassin and, yet the reader totally believes she feels true tenderness for the baby growing inside of her. It is easy to believe what she believes, as she is so reasonable and rational and real.


7. The dowager insists, and Aomame agrees, that the killing they do is completely justified, that the men whom they kill deserve to die, that the legal system can’t touch them, and that more women will be victims if these men aren’t stopped. Is it true that Aomame and the dowager have done nothing wrong? Or are they simply rationalizing their anger and the desire for vengeance that arises from their own personal histories?
Of course, they are doing something wrong, although one might argue that they are putting balance in the world. It isn't until the night of the storm and the conversation with the Leader that either even recognize that they were so angry and that they might be doing what they were doing out of vegeance, as well as justice and safety.


8. Tengo realizes that rewriting Air Chrysalis is highly unethical and that Komatsu is asking him to participate in a scam that will very likely cause them both a great deal of trouble. Why does he agree to do it?
He is drawn to the story. He is compelled to rewrite it. He felt this way before meeting Fuka-eri and after meeting her he isdrawn in to the 'cat town', and must rewrite it in order to create his own story.

9. How does rewriting Air Chrysalis change Tengo as a writer? How does it affect the course of his life?
He gets inspired to create his own story involving the same setting only he writes Aomame into the story. Rewriting the story gives him the courage to write his own story and it gives him the basis for said story. Without Fuka-eri and Air Chrysalis he wouldn't have reconciled with his father, made true friends, understood where he belong and found Aomame.

10. How do the events that occur on the night of the huge thunderstorm alter the fates of Aomame, Tengo, Fuka-Eri, and the dowager? Why do Aomame and the dowager let go of their anger after the storm?
After the night of the storm Fuka-Eri becomes a secondary character. The dowager is no longer mysterious, or as powerful as she seemed in the beginning. It is no longer her story we are living. It is also after this night that Tengo and Aomame are tied together and it is because of what happens this night that the lives of all those involved is spared. The storm releases so much tension that even the book seems lighter after it. The characters become vehicles whose jobs are to draw Tengo and Aomame together. We are fully in Tengo's story and he must learn that he doesn't have to have all the answers. Then there's that strange NHK ghost man and because of Ushikawa we learn that there are others who can see the two moons; we learn that this story has more than one possible ending.


11. At first, Ushikawa is a creepy, totally unlikable character. How does Murakami make him more sympathetic as the novel progresses? How do you respond to his death?
He becomes a character with his own story. He, too, can see the two moons and he is only beginning to become aware of the fact that he can write his own story and change his fate. I didn't mind that he died, I just didn't like how he died...unable to speak, unable to share his story.

12. Near the end of the novel, Aomame declares: “From now on, things will be different. Nobody else’s will is going to control me anymore. From now on, I’m going to do things based on one principle alone: my own will” (p. 885). How does Aomame arrive at such a firm resolve? In what ways is the novel about overcoming the feeling of powerlessness that at various times paralyzes Aomame, Ayumi, Tengo, Fuka-Eri, and all the women who are abused by their husbands? What enables Aomame to come into her own power?
She realizes that, while she was kind of tricked into going to 1Q84, she belongs there in that story (the story that Tengo has created is just as much her's as it is his) and because she belongs there she can also figure out how to get out and she knows that she possesses all the power to do so. We overcome our feeling of powerlessness by understanding that at any time we can change our paths, leave 'the cat town', write our stories and use our personal histories to make us stronger. Aomame realizes that she is not alone that she has love...the love of the little person growing inside her and the love of a guy who'd been searching for her and wanted to be with her as much as she wanted and searched for him.

13. What does the novel as a whole seem to say about fringe religious groups? How does growing up in the Society of Witnesses affect Aomame? How does growing up in Sakigake cult affect Fuka-Eri? Does Leader appear to be a true spiritual master?
Fringe religious groups have good in them, just as any religious group does, it's the people who screw it up. Faith comes from the heart, not from rules and ritual. The Society turned Aomame away from God because she thought God was how the Society perceived Him to be. She didn't realize that God wanted to help her and thought she was beautiful, that he was present even without being called and He would be there to help, not hinder. Fuka-Eri is literally split in two because of Sakigake...she is separated from the best part of her and even at the end they are not back together and we assume they never will be. And, finally, I think the Leader wanted to be a true spiritual master but the religion got in the way; it always does--darned people and their need to hear voices to fill the void.

14. What is the appeal of the fantastic elements in the novel—the little people, maza and dohta, the air chrysalis, two moons in the sky, alternate worlds, etc.? What do they add to the story? In what ways does the novel question the nature of reality and the boundaries between what is possible and not possible?
The appeal for me is that all of those science fiction elements drew me in and I spent the novel wrapped up in the aspects of this story that reminded me of Infinite Jest, Dune and the Matrix. These elements keep us, the reader, outside of the novel while also making us part of the story in the novel. If anything this novel shows us that the novels we read, the shows and movies we watch are part of us and become part of our story. We are influenced by what we see and read and, well, nothing is impossible if we are willing and ready to believe.

15. What makes the love story of Tengo and Aomame so compelling? What obstacles must they overcome to be together? Why was the moment when Aomame grasped Tengo’s hand in grade school so significant?
Because in the end all we really want is a good love story and, in some ways, we like to imagine that the first person who rocked our world will come back around when the time is right. There are many obstacles that Tengo and Aomame must overcome, but they have created all the obstacles. When they learn this fact it is easy for them to find each other and because the love one another it is easy for 20 years of questioning and yearning, loneliness and searching can all washaway. We learn that when Aomame held his hand she gave Tengo a package that held them and their worlds together.


16. In what ways does 1Q84 question and complicate conventional ideas of authorship? How does it blur the line between fictional reality and ordinary reality?
It sas that the author is only one part of the story...the characters are the other part and they do what they must do. We are the story and within our world there are worlds being created.

17. References to the song “Paper Moon” appear several times in the novel. How do those lyrics relate to 1Q84?


If we have love and we believe and we have people who love and believe in us everything is real and nothing is impossible.

18. What role does belief play in the novel? Why does Murakami end the book with the image of Tengo and Aomame gazing at the moon until it becomes “nothing more than a gray paper moon, hanging in the sky” (p. 925)?
Belief can tear down walls and open up worlds. Belief can save you and your loved ones. The paper moon signifies that this story continues, that their worlds and ours all tie together and that we determine what is real and what is fantastic.

If you are interested in reading the book, Reading the Chunksters has started it come join in on the conversation here!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine's Day Extravaganza 2013

  1. Creating a lovely Valentine's box isn't as easy as the end project looks. First, I had to dig out the Christmas wrapping paper (thanks sister for buying thousands of extra feet) and then I had to dig through my various scrap-booking supplies. Of course, I did this Saturday morning while the tiny person was sound asleep. I used the box from last year and was sad to see it go. Also that photo in the upper left-hand corner is what Lila did for me last evening...um, she wanted to hole punch something and then she strung the ribbon through the loops. I think she's going to tie her shoes pretty darned early. :)
  2. Modeling the photo-booth glitter kissy lips. She didn't want to wear the mustache...as it is for boys, "probably for daddies"...I'm pretty sure that one day she will see the fun of silly mustaches.
  3. Helping put glitter on all the lips. Frankly, I'm not really sure Valentine's Day is actually coming up if my husband isn't complaining about glitter and glitter isn't getting into the grooves in the dining room table.
  4. I tried to find a project that the kiddo could help me with, so here she is helping me tape the backs of the props, after I showed her what to do (and I pulled out pieces of tape), she could do that pretty much on her own.
  5. The front of the little card is the picture you see below (created in Picasa using the Creative Kit)...the back is simple directions to create a photo-booth in your home. They aren't just for weddings, you know! Frankly, I think I may do one for her next birthday party I loved doing this so much!
  6. The box with the extra kissy lips and mustaches (there are only 10 kids, counting Lila, in her preschool class...not sure what I'm going to do when there are more than 10!) and the completed little Valentine's: Twizzler pull and peels, two props (a mustache and kissy lips, I found those here by the way and used those to make a template and I bought the dowel rods for $.27 at Wal-Mart--they're the 1/8" size and I cut them into 4...all Saturday morning before everyone woke up), the pictures (I wasn't really sure if people would get why they had lips and mustaches with candy for a Valentine's Day card) and directions.
  7. The back of the box. It had to be able to be opened.
  8. Seriously, we've been having fun with our photo-booth props since Saturday. I hope the other kids have fun with theirs.



Monday, February 11, 2013

Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007

I love, love, love James Bond. I love James Bond with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. I do not love that Chris usually watches dry and dusty documentaries on Saturday mornings, but this past Saturday he chose a documentary about James Bond.

I own lots of Bond books and movies and soundtracks, but not loads of documentaries on the subject.

The subtitle of the story is "The Untold Story of 007"...if you know anything about James Bond at all there isn't a single thing is this documentary that is 'unknown' or surprising. We already have a clear picture of the dynamic between Connery and Broccoli and Salzman and the over the top and long lasting drama between Fleming and man who claimed to have rights to Bond. It's when this documentary tries to tell you something that it thinks you don't know or will surprise you that it gets a little close to having a agenda and it gets close to being propaganda...yes, James Bond propaganda. Stevan Riley does not have to vilify Connery for us to understand that the conflict between Connery and Bond has two sides. We also don't have to end every interview segment with some sort of praise to Broccoli for us to understand that without his vision we wouldn't see the Bond we see today. What I find interesting is that Broccoli's vision of Bond, while progressive in the beginning, needed help modernizing. Broccoli wanted to be trapped in the world he created; Bond did not.

So, this documentary is about an hour and a half and the first half is beyond delightful. There are interviews and clips of Ian Fleming, some of which I'd never seen, and the documentary nicely paints Bond as Fleming's alter-ego. It also paints a realistic picture of the 60s and 70s and shows how the culture and time period, in essence, creates the Bond we see on film. It also gives better insight into the minds of all the creators of James Bond...and, there are several Fleming, Broccoli and Salzman, of course, but also Connery, Moore, Lazenby, Dalton, Brosnan and Craig. We know that each portrayal of Bond brought different meaning to the world and, in some way kept Bond fresh to the public. The artistic visionaries who create action sequences, back-drops, costumes and make-up are also responsible for the incarnation of Bond that we see today.

We all know that Bond  is more than what we see from Riley; this documentary is a great watch anyway.

[Buy It Here]
My friend and I used to teach a James Bond Summer School class and, I thought I'd end this review with some of the activities we did during our 19 days with the students.

A little background...we started the class in 2007 after Casino Royale came and the movie was about to come out on DVD. The classes consisted of students who initially didn't pass an English or History class during the school year.

Flyer from the first year
Hand-out completed for each Bond film
Paper Guidelines and Topics
Words to Know

Sunday, February 10, 2013

30 Days of Truth: Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit

I found this meme here and here.

Eight: Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit

This is so the opposite of last week's that I'm having a hard time getting my head around it.

I was teased a lot when I was a little kid. First, I was the first black kid to go to my school. I think that if my mother knew how hard this actually was my first 5 years of school, we would have moved somewhere else. On top of that I wore leg-braces (braces I refused to wear, after a certain point, by the way, so I still am a little bow-legged and pigeon-toed...trust a life time of this is better than the years more of teasing I would have had to face).

I was teased so much and discriminated against, even in high school and college, so much that it took me a long time to accept my otherness. I mean black kids can be just as cruel to other black kids when they see them as not being truly 'black' (whatever that means).

There are people that weren't allowed to date me, there are people who tried to turn me into someone I am not, there are people who tried to steal my joy and my peace and my happiness. The thing is that over the years I forgotten the names, or never bothered to know the names of some of the people who made my life hard and, today, I'm not sure I'd even recognize them in a crowd. I am hopeful that some of the bitterness and anger they were feeling has been assuaged and that's about all the thoughts they get from me.

I am lucky that I came from a loving, Christ-filled home, so from day one I could respectfully turn the other cheek and I could genuinely forgive and forget. My family taught me to love myself way before I knew in my heart how to do so.

No one can make you feel something about yourself that you refuse to accept and the good Lord knows that, as one of his chosen people I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14), so there really isn't an answer to this one, now is there!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

I absolutely love the writing of Graham Greene. I especially enjoy his Catholic novels. I was introduced to these deeply personal and rich novels in college when I had to read Brighton Rock for a lit class. I became obsessed with the idea of a novel getting away from you. The idea of Green trying to write a detective story that turned into a morality tale is an idea I still find fascinating. I read The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair on my own later that year and a few years later a friend let me borrow The Power and the Glory. Although these books are just too perfect, my favorite, by far, is The End of the Affair.

I have always been a sucker for a love story where one person in the relationship loves the other person so much that they can never be together; add to that mix some sort of love triangle in which there's an insipid husband or myopic lover and I am sold.

I think it is because of this book that I understand the fact that in order to truly hate someone or something you truly are feeling something (pain, anger et cetera) towards the very thing you are trying to forget, and, having feelings means there's still hope of reconcilation. Hate can turn into love just as easy as love can become hate. It's when there isn't any feeling at all that you've got to worry. The heart knows even when the mind doesn't really want to at all and when you read this novel you understand what happens between Sarah and Maurice way before Maurice does and you understand that Maurice's pain at never seeing Sarah again is because he loves her so much. You may not realize the fact that she loves him too until the very end, but you know that Maurice's is a mean, selfish man because he feels too much not because he feels nothing at all.

The End of the Affair not only has all of these traits, it also has a gorgeous movie (the version starring Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore). There is a scene, which starts on the couch and ends on some stairs, that is so sexy and romantic and tragic at the same time I hold my breath when I watch it. 

Watch the movie, read the book...learn a lesson or two about sacrifice and redemption, do it...do it...now.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

65 Books in a Year: Book #6 Mr. Popper's Penguins

OK, so back when I was still buying books *whimper* Open Road Media was having some sort of crazy sale on a slew of ebooks and Mr. Popper's Penguins was one that I picked up. I'd never read it before and it was on my radar as my friend and I watched the movie in San Antonio; during which she commented that she and her siblings had read the book or had the book read to them a million times.

Until the Jim Carrey movie, I'd never heard of Mr. Popper's Penguins. I blame the fact that when I was a kid I hated books about animals of any kind interacting with humans as that usually meant the animal was going to die.

In this book, rest assured that not a single penguin dies. I mean it has that requisite about of children's book suspense, but a grown-up will recognize where it's going early on.

I love reading books written long ago as there's always sexist or racist or sexist-racist language that has seeped through as being harmless for the time period. There's also everyday occurrences that give the reader a sense of wonderment, but you can tell that they must have been normal at the time. (You see that in Mary Poppins, even the movie,which was made in the 60s, took out some of the scenes in the book that just seemed a bit racist). Let me see if I can think of some of things in this book off the top of my head...Mrs. Popper doesn't work, nor does she have any desire to, Mr. Popper is a house painter who usually has the winters off and times are lean and he's always under foot (in that respect he reminds me a lot of Walter Mitty) while Mrs. Popper cleans--he does not help with the cleaning, the Poppers have the required two children--one boy, one girl, they order their ice from an ice man, and wear pants and gloves made out of wool even when it isn't cold outside. There are some cute little scenes in the book that didn't make it into the movie whatsoever, but that's just given you a lovely excuse, if you, like me, didn't know the book existed. Or, if you've read the book a million times and are leery of the movie ruining it for you, might I suggest watching the movie knowing full well that darned thing had to be modernized!

Monday, February 4, 2013

65 Books in a Year: Book #5 Londoners

I'm genuinely having a hard time writing a review for this book. If I could go by the introduction alone it would get an A++. It is nostalgic, personal, descriptive, gives a beautiful homage to the A to Zed (the 1998 copy of which I still have--although if you look at it pages just fall out because I used it so much) and it opens with one of my favorite quotes of all time ("When a man is tired of London he is tired of life, for there is in London all that life can afford" ~Samuel Johnson). It's too bad that Londoners, well, at least the majority of the 80+ interviews that make it into the book seem to have forgotten all about Johnson.

OK, so reading most of these interviews made me depressed and yearn for a London I guess doesn't really exist if you live there. While reading I was reminded of an interview Stephen Fry conducted with a former Essex guy who now lives in California. Fry asked the guy why he, one of the two most famous modern British guys, chose to live in America and the guy replied, "I think there's just a conspicuous lack of cynicism and skepticism...". After reading this book I'm only beginning to see what he's talking about.

I love that this book is set up pretty much like Stud Terkel's Working, in the sense that there are tiny little stories categorized by a common theme, but the stories don't have to be read in order to get a sense of the place and time in which they were written. I get, from the few stories that I connected with, that London is as vastly different as any city, and, that it is a city's history that differentiates it from any other. I guess the sense that, whether it is realized or not, one falls in love with a city based on its history.

Stories of note:

  • the black dancer who became a plumber, yes, plumber...
  • the woman who is from the Middle East who still hasn't told her parents that she's modern and living with her boyfriend
  • the manicurist who can tell more about the collective economy than most economists merely by looking at the people who get their nails done and for what reasons
  • the guy who's spent his time in London revitalizing Canary Wharf
  • the story of the rickshaw driver and his passenger's fetish for feet and socks
  • the teacher who, across The Pond, has the same struggles with students and parents and motivation and admistration and frustration that I have as a teacher in little 'ole Missouri
  • the dominatrix, the beekeeper, the Wiccan priestess
  • the funeral director who targets immigrant families because, well, funerals are a business that last generations
  • the city planner who understands that greatness cannot be planned...this man loves himself some London
  • Adam Byatt and his flavor for all things traditional, yet modern...I would like to try some John Dory
Oh, and I'm totally curious about the 100+ interviews that didn't make the cut...I wonder if I'll ever be able to read those? I'm also curious if this same feeling of weariness is so prevalent in other cities should you interview 'the man on the street' in say Paris or New York or Los Angeles. I wonder what Taylor thinks of London.

Thank goodness there's that delicious intro talking about rain and umbrellas and, London as 'propulsion, [that] rewards those people who push forward'. There's loads of great stuff in this book, I learned so much (see my list below), however, if I went by these stories alone I'd never take public transportation anywhere, I'd not yearn for London, a city I definitely yearn for, and, *whimper* I'd be tired of life, I'd be tired of London.

What I learned:
  • 'Places make the best lovers...'
  • 'People's worst qualities come out at night...'
  • Cornershop's Handcream for a Generation
  • 7/7 Terrorist Attacks
  • Stephen Lawrence, a racially motivated attack improperly handled, for years, by the police
  • I am part of the easyJet culture
  • "Dog Man Star" by Suede
  • The Jam
  • The Long Good Friday
  • John Dory...it's a fish, by the way
  • words: vertiginous, cenotaph, Canberra, biro, plinth, Geordie, alluvium, cormorants, courgette, grotty, paracetamol, pissoir, peripatetic
All right, all right! I may love this book, just not the people in it!

And, here the covers I wish I had instead:


Sunday, February 3, 2013

30 Days of Truth: Someone Who Has Made Your Life Worth Living For

I found this meme here and here.

Seven: Someone Who Has Made Your Life Worth Living For


Friday, February 1, 2013

A Challenge for February


A few weeks ago I asked to review the book One Month to Love: 30 Days to Grow and Deepen Your Closest Relationships. I figured February would be a great month to work on becoming closer to my family and other loved ones that are meaningful and essential to my life and I can tell you this isn't something I can do on my own.

I was a little leery of the book, thinking that it would be a little hokey or, like those diet books that guarantee results, a little too big on the hype and too focused at the results at the end of a certain amount of days. I am glad that it is not. I am glad that it seems approachable and contradicts those books that want to be quick fixes.

The book is divided up into 4 week segments:

  •  The Art of Being Free 
  •  The Art of Acting Intentionally 
  •  The Art of Risking Awkwardness 
  •  The Art of Letting Go

The authors of the book want you to approach the book as a challenge.
"Just read a chapter each day....At the end of each chapter you'll find the Lasting Love Relationship Challenge, which is designed to help you take the insights from that day and apply them to your key relationships."
They even have a website where you can log on and monitor your own progress. I look forward to delving into this easy to understand and purposeful book as I grow deeper into my relationships with those that matter the most.

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