Thursday, May 31, 2012

Another book I'll have to read (with pleasure)

I read this quote and thought of my earlier post about fans and their potentially vicious hatred of movie adaptations of books they loved.  This person says it way better.

There was that miniscule chance you’d get it oh-so-very-wrong and then I’d have to become all nerd rage-y and rip the book apart, because that is something unfortunate we fans have a habit of doing. We love these things so much, when we feel they are not being treated with the respect they deserve, we tend to become irrational jackasses in an effort to protect whatever it is we love. - Source: Geeky Pleasures

Yes, that's it exactly.  Sounds like maybe John Scalzi's Redshirts (an apparently loving and very competent send-up of those poor guys who die inevitably pretty much every episode in the original Star Trek TV series) manages to avoid this problem of inciting nerd rage and irrational jackassery.  Sigh, now there's another book I have to read even though I don't think I've ever seen the original Star Trek series in its entirety.  (Note that this is one of Mr. Scalzi's comic novels, like Android's Dream, not one of his uber-serious military sci-fi epics.)

Monday, May 28, 2012


It is Memorial Day, and I have been watching a lot of Gundam lately.  This means I have been spending more time than usual contemplating war, peace, soldiers, duty, honor, criminal orders, justice, mercy, military history, human nature, consequences, just war theory, and the terrible things we can do if we are convinced we are doing the right thing or that our cause is just or that our goal is noble and right and thus our means are justified no matter what.  I have been thinking about the soldiers who are alive and dead and the military relatives of my friends. I have been thinking of my grandfathers and the soldiers still POW and MIA.  I have been wishing that people would just stop having wars and armed conflicts, that they would stop finding causes they would kill for.  Conflict is the heart of a story, and humans, warped and twisted as we are, live and die in stories of conflict real and imagined. I long for the time when all those stories are told and finished and there is a new story structure in place and peace is all that is left behind.

To all the soldiers who have sacrificed so much and to the families who have lost so much, I send my thanks and prayers.  To the dead and the living both, thank you for trying to do what you thought was right.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The pleasures of re-contemplating Memory

I was reading Memory (a wonderful Miles book), and once again I got stuck in this one place when Miles is contemplating his own stubbornness and his genetic heritage and pathological refusal to retreat and wondering why he's not getting medical treatment he needs.  And then he has this revelation.  It's amazing!  And, you know, revelatory!  And I still don't get it. 

I've read this book nearly a dozen times, and I still don't get this part.  I don't actually contemplate it for a long time or anything, just note it in passing because it's kind of part of the endgame of the book, and I want to keep reading.  It irks me a little, though, because I suspect that this is one of those areas where Miles and I are similar, and I'd love to let him do the agonizing thinking and hand me the conclusion.  Sigh.

Darn those complicated and awesome books where not everything is obvious, and you have to think about things.

So, does anyone know the part I'm talking about, understand the revelation, and want to share it with me?  : )

Sunday, May 20, 2012

RIP Pauper's Paperbacks

My dad called the other day because he passed by an old used bookstore I loved when I was younger and poorer and ravenous for books.  Now they serve subs to a different kind of ravenous people on the corner of X and Main.  I would use no more than 10% of what I earned at my job at the library across the street to buy fascinating old mass market paperbacks from the owner, Mr. Leo, for fabulous discounts.  I think it was when I was in college that Mr. Leo sold his store to a man with long curly hair who changed the store name, cared little about books, and allegedly used the business as a place to hold anarchist meetings.  (I always wondered how anarchists would hold meetings.  Probably not using Roberts' Rules.)  This new owner never gave me the same kinds of insane faithful customer discounts Mr. Leo gave me, but that's probably why Mr. Leo folded in the first place.  Wherever he and his books may be, may they all rest in peace.

See the movie, then read the book

My awful book memory (I read for pleasure and then almost immediately forget almost everything) usually makes it okay for me a see a movie if it's been a couple years since I read the book, but I found myself kicked out of the Harry Potter movies sometimes wondering, "Did this happen in the book?" or "Did this happen differently in the book?"  Recently, I've decided not to read a book immediately if I know a movie is coming out.  I'll see the movie and then later read the book; that way I'm more likely to enjoy both.

For the Hunger Games, I was waiting for the whole series to come out, and then they announced the movie, so I put off reading it, and it seems like a good decision on my part in some ways.  I was able to see the movie as its own, real story, and I thought it did a good job of being coherent if abbreviated and making me want to go read the book to fill in the details.

It also made me kind of sick because I can't handle graphic violence, so I may just switch to the books.  That way I won't have to wait as long to find out what happens in the end, too.  On the other hand, there was some amazing acting in the movies, and if I read the books, I'll find scenes I really want to see in a movie and be disappointed . . .

Tough choices.  If the Hunger Games is on your horizon, how are you handling this?

The joy of movie adaptations

Sometimes I wonder why Hollywood even bothers to adapt books into movies.  They must make a profit off of it, or they wouldn't keep doing it, but it seems to generate ungodly amounts of ill will among the target audience. 

Anyone who has read a decent-length novel knows that fitting everything from the book into a visual format would take the kind of time that usually requires a miniseries or a full length series (with multiple seasons).  As a result, they should know that if the adaptation is only going to get 2 hours of screen time, a majority of the details of the book are going to be missing, yet most readers of the book take these missing details very personally and throw a huge fit every time and seem incapable of judging the film on its own merits, coherence, and success.  Their ardent and vocal disappointment at not seeing the entire contents of the book transferred comprehensively to the screen is sort of understandable but also a little immature and maybe kind of silly. 

Understandable because everybody has a favorite scene they wanted to see and because the things that make the book successful are usually related to internal access and extended character development impossible to do on-screen in a couple hours.

Silly because, well, if you set your expectations way too high, it's your own fault when reality doesn't live up to them.  I generally find it more pleasant to have very low expectations and be pleasantly surprised most of the time.

How have you fared with movie adaptations of  books you haven't read and those you have?  Any winners?

Friday, May 18, 2012

gnarly body suit sweater, dude

So I was going to a free stretch class offered at my company gym, and they handed out a piece of paper that talked about myofascial tissue, something I'm familiar with after too much physical therapy. (Example: "What is your myofascial tissue made of, rock?")  Myofascial tissue is this connective thing throughout your body, kind of like a full-body knitted suit.  It literally sheaths everything from muscles to joints. 

I used to be too stretchy, a genetic flaw in my joints and myofascial tissue that resulted in numerous injuries.  Over the course of a decade and more of collecting and compensating for those injuries, I've contorted, limped, and distorted my body until that myofascial tissue likely resembles the initial try at a complicated sweater by a seriously craft-impaired first-time knitter.  There are gnarly bits that are all crumpled and too tight, and there are loose bits where the yarn got stretched.

I wish I knew more artsy people, so someone could draw their artist's impression of my myofascial tissue as bad body-suit sweater.  I don't know why, but this idea amuses me greatly.  Contact me to submit artwork of this nature . . .

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick!

Back in junior high, my English teacher posted the pictures that accompanied The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and asked us to make up stories for them.  Now it looks like students aren't the only ones who are inspired by these lovely and weird illustrations. 

Looking at the lineup of authors who worked on this version, I'm a bit giddy.  I wonder if they got to choose their favorite or if they were assigned one.  Was there fierce competition, and everyone wrote about the one they wanted, and some editor got to choose the best one for each?

Anyway, next time I'm in the mood for short stories, I know where I'm going to look.  :)

Have you ever "read" The Mysteries?  What were your impressions?  Do you remember any illustrations in particular that stuck with you?