Monday, August 30, 2004

Hellooooooooo everyone! I've been busy lately . . . started my graduate program, and am wading through roughly 1,296,088 pages of theoretical crud. This means I can't read as much good stuff, worthy of posting here. Also that I have no time or energy.

However, I promised myself that I would blog this book.

Book: Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Genre: Erm. Horror? Except . . . not.
Original Publishing Date: 2003 (fittingly enough, in October!)

I love Robin McKinley. She just writes whatever story comes out, and other people categorize it. She won the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown and an Honor for The Blue Sword. Her Spindle's End is my favorite ever version of Sleeping Beauty. But enough gushing over past books . . . let's have a look at this one.

Rae "Sunshine" Seddon thinks she has a pretty weird life. She gets up at four in the morning, gets home at insane hours, and all her friends come from one place. Don't get weirded out yet--she's no Queen of the Night, just the Queen of the Kitchen at her stepfather's coffee house. It's a life that works for her, though, so she's reasonably content.

Until the night the vampires got her.

No, actually, it wasn't so bad when the vampires got her. It was when she got away that she started to worry about herself. Because, you see, nobody gets away from vampires. And nobody--nobody--helps a vampire to do the same.

All of a sudden, Sunshine is hip-deep in a world of vampire gang wars, Special Other Forces (think demon police, and you won't be too far wrong), and the unsettling realization that magical abilities from her father's side and a possible drop of demon blood from her mother's are gonna make things really interesting for her from now on. Not to mention her strange connection to the vampire she saved, Constantine, who's reminescent of Buffy's Angel, only not as chatty. (Actually, there's a lot about this book that may remind you of Buffy. Heck, Amber Benson, who acted on the show for a couple of seasons, even wrote a rec for the cover!)

And there are still cinnamon rolls to be made at four in the morning.

McKinley sets her story in a sort of alternate Earth, where things that go bump in the night are very real, and very dangerous. She has a slight tendancy to go off on tangents whose story purpose I never did figure out, but I can ignore that for the atmosphere and the experience of R McK writing. She doesn't pull any punches when it comes to gory details, although she doesn't go overboard with them either. The end is unsettling, and more than a little pessimistic, but I still want to read it again.

Signing off now . . . happy reading!

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Hello, all my three readers! Do I even have that many? Ah well.

Just a movie for tonight, folks. It's late.

Movie: Kill Bill, Vol. 1
Genre: Drama? Comedy? Blood-splattering? Martial arts? Can't honestly say. Erm, okay, Action would be my best guess.
Original Release Date: 2003

I watched this last night on DVD, and I really liked it. Yes, 450 gallons of fake blood were used. Yes, there is a scene where she rips out a man’s tongue with her teeth. (Not shown, but implied, thankfully.) However, it’s also morbidly funny, beautiful to look at, and very powerfully written. Also, apparently, it’s jam-packed with homages to kung fu films that I’ve never seen, so that element was lost on me, but I still enjoyed it. Hard to pull off. The anime section especially was really neat.

I’ve seen one other Tarantino film, Pulp Fiction, and I found that I liked the same things in both--the characters, the plotting, and the visual style. So Tarantino has become an admired filmmaker for me.

I especially like the way Tarantino does characters. This could very easily have been just a gore-splatter-fest without any real element to keep us interested. However, he gives even the villains (the main ones she fights in this movie at any rate) a background and a fullness of character that I have to admire. The Bride skates close to the edge of being someone you hate, but there are a couple of moments that save her. Good thing, cuz it’s her story and there are precious few other characters to root for. (Buck who likes to f*ck? Or maybe the sheriff who calls her a c*cksucker as she lies mostly dead and beaten all to hell at his feet. Eh. Maybe we pull for the Bride because she’s the closest thing we have to a hero in the entire movie.)

The purity of her revenge quest reminds me of a Greek tragedy . . . the Oresteia coming to mind. That marvelously intellectual remark being made, I’ll say it wasn’t my idea. I read the liner notes. However, it rings true. The Bride has one aim in life, and one only--to make them pay. Not terribly complex, but powerful enough to pull us through the movie and bring us back to see “Kill Bill Vol. 2.”

Which I haven’t yet. I will.

Monday, August 02, 2004

This blog has been in the Blog Protection Program. Its name has been changed to protect the innocent.

Okay, I'm lying. The truth is, after I got home from England, the original purpose was pretty much hollowed out, and I had other things on my mind, like leaving home and spreading my wings. (Fly, my pretty! FLY!!) So now, my wings being spread wide and not having hit the ground yet (well, a couple of times, but I bounce real good) I decided to start this up again.

One of my favorite parts of the Bloody Yank blog was my Book of the Day. This should surprise no one who knows me; I was an English major and am studying to be a librarian. I just love a good book. Hell, I love a good story, period. So this blog will be a record of everything I read or watch.

My tastes are . . . eclectic. I read kiddie books all the way up to adult, but I'm kinda narrow where genres are concerned. Don't do the horror thing, for one. I watch very little TV, so you won't see much of that on here. I love a good movie, but I also love escapism, so you're probably not gonna see this year's Oscar contenders on here.

If you don't like what I'm reading or watching, bear in mind I'm not saying YOU have to read or watch it. I think you should, especially if you like the sound of it. But don't anybody flame me and say, "Why are you recommending this, it sounds so stupid." I'll smack you with a trout, then tell you to use proper punctuation. We all have different tastes.

That little caveat being noted, I shall proceed.

Book: Taming Natasha Nora Roberts
Genre: Romance
Original Publishing Date: 1990

I love Nora Roberts, and I love this book in particular. Part of it is nostalgia--I very clearly remember buying it at about the age of thirteen from a used-book store. Part of it is because it's just a damn fine story. Spence, a single father and music professor, and Natasha, an ex-dancer who now owns a toy store, feel the sparks from moment one, but the scars on their hearts from disastrous relationships make the trip a little bumpy. This is not a book with high external drama, though. The most hair-raising episode is probably a six-year-old with chicken pox--which is plenty hair-raising for her daddy. Near the end of the book, one character says something that rings true for the entire book. "With you it isn't dreams and knights and princes. With you, it's real and solid. Day-to-day. Ordinary--ordinary in the most beautiful way." Sigh!!

The original is somewhat hard to find, but they're churning out reprints of all Nora's old stuff like crazy. One of the reprints should be easy enough to find, probably packaged together with a related story.

Movie:A Night at the Opera
Genre: Comedy
Premiere Date: 1935

Yeah, buddy, it's the Marx brothers! Woohoo!

If you haven't experienced the random lunacy of the Marx Brothers yet, I'd start with A Night at the Opera. I did, about ten years ago, and I laughed as loudly then as I did last night. Duck Soup may be more famous, but for my money, ANatO is the better movie.

The plot is practically peripheral, but here goes. Rosa, an opera singer, performs opposite a real jerk (whose name is quite frankly not worth remembering), when she would rather be singing with Ricardo. (If she's smart, she's doing more than singing--Allen Jones, who plays Ricardo, is not hard on the eyes.) But how to replace the jerk with the hunk? That's the plot in a nutshell.

Wait, who do the Marx Brothers play? Basically themselves. Groucho is a wheeling, dealing con man who wangles the deal to get Ricardo onstage opposite Rosa, and Chico and Harpo are the two bumbling helpers. Don't worry about the plot holes. They're basically there for the Marx Brothers to drive through.

Favorite bits: the stateroom skit, wherein fifteen people fit in a "stateroom" the approximate size of a flea's studio apartment, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in the middle of Verdi, complete with peanut vendor, and the contract scene.

Otis B. Driftwood (Groucho): It's all right, that's in every contract. that's what they call a sanity clause.

Firoello (Chico): Ha ha ha ha ha ha... you can't fool me. There ain't no Sanity Clause.

That's it for tonight, chickies!