Saturday, February 28, 2009

Review: Towering World of Tamara Mellon- J.C N'est Pas La

I love fashion.So you can imagine how happy I was when I was recently sent an Advanced Reading Copy for the book, The Towering World of Jimmy Choo: A Glamorous Story of Power, Profits, and the Pursuit of the Perfect Shoe.  I've always been a comfortable dresser, but not matter how unsophisticated MY look might be, I've been a Vogue/Elle/Cosmo reader for years. The Prêt-à-Porter and Unzipped movies, two years in a row in the mid-90s? How could you not be a fan? Unzipped made me fall in love with Isaac Mizrahi. I was glued to my set when the sporadically aired Signé Chanel  would make its way into my TiVo queue and I had the opportunity to see the creative process that went in that year's Chanel haute couture collection. (See the beginning of the first episode on YouTube here... it is great!) Now, I have to say that it wasn't only because of the GORGEOUS dresses that Madame Martine as the head seamstress worked on or the braid-maker/farmer Mme Pouzieux were working on for the Chanel collection, though they were truly amazing. It was the whole process of all the work and creativity that went into the shows. Likewise, Project Runway had me at the very start. I loved seeing the competent Kara Saun create her magic for the first season of Project Runway, just seeing Daniel, Uli, Christian... they all swayed me to the beauty and joy of the creative process. But, when they are creative and I like them and then I love the clothes too... that's when I can't get enough.

Back to THE BOOK. Lauren Goldstein Crowe and Sagra Maceira de Rosen show the progress of Jimmy Choo leaving his Penang, Malaysia roots where his father was a shoemaker to end up designing shoes from his own luxury collection. After attending Cordwainers, he sold shoes at a stall after making them from a Kingsland Road, Hackney, Metropolitan Hospital ("Metropolitan") space-where artisans and businesses found a cheap, though perhaps unsavory location to create their wares. The real focus of the story, however, is on the unflappable Tamara (nee Yeardye) Mellon who convinced both Jimmy Choo and her father and his friends to invest in a Jimmy Choo-branded luxury shoe line. 

Tamara had seen Jimmy's potential for earning with a line of shoes after his sucess selling one-off pairs both in her role as an assistant to London Vogue Fashion Director, Sarajane Hoare and through her socialite friends she was partying with in London at the time. Her father used his Vidal Sasson connections from his years past to help get Tamara, J.C and Co., set up around the world, but particularly in America. As told, the success of the "perfect shoe" company was built from a recipe of Tamara's contacts, determination, her father's tough-as-nails business sense-which he clearly taught to Tamara, along with the mix of some luck and name recognition with celebrity (not the least of which was Princess Diana early-on with Jimmy Choo and then much later thanks to Sex and the City!) 

Goldstein Crowe and Maceira de Rosen's book reads like a very long mix between a fashion and business magazine article to tell how Tamara (together with Choo's niece-Sandra Choi, Robert Bensoussan and others) helped to build the Jimmy Choo empire from the ground up. They extoll how Tamara triumphed through personal loss when she got divorced, through sale and resale of the company up until now. Today she serves in the company's current incantation as the company's President, shareholder and board member. 

Signe Chanel showed how the Chanel staff posted a sign that showed whenever Karl Lagerfeld was in the office... it would say K.L n'est pas la or would flip for K.L est la! I would say the most tragic thing about reading this book for me is that J.C n'est pas la. I read the book hoping to find out how a kid brought up the hard way ended up having this great shoe empire, with the help of some visionary businesspeople. However, what I ended up reading about is what appears to be a crush by the authors for Tamara Mellon. At the end of the day, for me, it was Jimmy Choo who was missing from this tale. According to the authors, though he returned to run his own couture shoe business...he was considering shutting down because he was having trouble purchasing the quality shoe-components he needed to stay open. 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

L-O-S-T, Season 5, Episode 7 (The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham)

See Doc Jensen's Teaser and Totally Lost-Part 1 for this week.

First off, as always let's start with Doc Jensen's review.

_________________________________

NIEL started us off on the LOST discussion this week:

I think they may have given something away last night, when Widmore gives Locke the papers and John asked who Jeremy Bentham was, Widmore tells him he was a British Philospher, "your parents had a little fun when they named you, so I thought i would to"  Perhaps a little slip that he and Ben, Richard all think he is a dolt and is not special. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

BBC Poll Books

There is a FB thing going around with the below instructions saying that BBC says most people have only read six of these. I couldn't find that story and I admit some of these I should have read. Looks like I have a new project!) I highlighted the ones I need to read. But keep reading, the only 100-book list I could find reference to is below that and it is a different list, so I higlighted that too (looks like DIFFERENT project!)

FB Instructions:
1) Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read.
2) Tally your total at the bottom.
3) Tag others and pass it on.

Here's the FB list (looks like I have 69 of them- not counting the COMPLETE works of Shakespeare or The Bible, some of them I have on my shelf waiting for me, some I started but never finished and some I'm embarrassed not to have read, but I only counted the ones I HAVE already read):

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen 
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien 
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte 
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling 
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee 
6 The Bible Does reading parts of it in church count?
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte 
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell 
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens 
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott 
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy 
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller 
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare I guess, maybe?
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier  
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien 
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk  
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger  
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegge
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot (Actually embarrased I haven't read this.)
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell 
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald  
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens 
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams  
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck  
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll  
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame 
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy  
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens  
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis  
34 Emma - Jane Austen 
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (X)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (yeah, yeah... on my shelf)
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (X)
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (X) 
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (X)
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown 
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving (YAY!)
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery 
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood 
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding 
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan 
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert (you mean the Bowie movie doesn't count?)
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen 
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens 
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley 
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon 
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck 

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov 
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold 
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas 
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac 
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding 
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville 
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens 
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker 
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett 
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson 
75 Ulysses - James Joyce  
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath  
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray  
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens 
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker       
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert  
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White  
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom 
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad  
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery 
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks  
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams  
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole 
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas  
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare Wouldn't this be included in 14?
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl  
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo  

According to the April 2003 BBC poll, the list is a little bit different and I've read 63 of these:

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. 
One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. 
Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher

51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. 
Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. 
The Stand, Stephen King
54. 
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. 
A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. 
The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. 
Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. 
Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. 
Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. 
Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. 
Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. 
Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. 
A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. 
The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. 
Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. 
The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. 
The Magus, John Fowles
68. 
Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. 
Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. 
Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. 
Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. 
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. 
Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. 
Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. 
Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. 
The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. 
The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. 
Ulysses, James Joyce
79. 
Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. 
Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. 
The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. 
I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. 
Holes, Louis Sachar
84. 
Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. 
The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. 
Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. 
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. 
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. 
Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. 
On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. 
The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. 
The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. 
The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. 
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. 
Katherine, Anya Seton
96. 
Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. 
Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. 
Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. 
The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. 
Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie 

Review: The Canim Meet Tavi


I've read the previous four books and now we come to The Princep's Fury, Book 5 in the Codex Alera by Jim Butcher (his site is www.jim-butcher.com). And this one, while it isn't my favorite of the five, certainly moves the story along. We get to see a little bit more about the Canim when Tavi heads there with his troops to their land to satisfy a promise he is honor-bound to uphold. Unfortunately, the dreaded Vord are there already and between the threat of the Canim and the Vord's destruction, he has to act decisively to save his new friends. Meanwhile, back in Alera, his family is having trouble helping King Gaius Sextus- Tavi's grandfather. 

As always, Tavi can't do it alone. He needs the help of his girlfriend, and some of his best friends and advisors to get the job done and save what remains of the Canim people.

These books are a great read, a good adventure and I love reading them. I'll have other books that I want to be reading but will always pick up one of this series before others just for the pure entertainment value and escapism of a fun epic fantasy. I suppose if this genre is not your thing then you won't care for it much. Otherwise, great read. Have fun with them. I don't read the Dresden books, though I will say that I was sad when the Television Series, The Dresden Files, was cancelled.

A Beautiful Snapshot

Talk Cinema presented us with Maria Larsson's Everlasting Memories and introduced us to Maria's life and family. Maria herself is played by the subtle and charming Maria Heiskanen. Then, there is her larger-than-life husband Sigfrid/Siggie played by the excellent Mikael Persbrandt. Finally, the story is told through the eyes of their daughter Maja who propels the movie with her views of the world, bounced off of her parents and their relationship. Maya is played by (I don't have umlaut's handy) Callin Ohrvall.

This is a beautiful movie.  Maria Larsson is a good, no-nonsense woman who sees the world a little bit differently, and even more so when she holds a camera in her hands. Her everlasting memories are captured both in our hearts and minds through her lens. I love the idea about a film being about the beauty of life as shown through film and the fulfillment that viewing the world in that way can be. Siggie may be a blustering hound, and Maria might be a little too uptight but it works for this movie and it works for them.

Like Revolutionary Road from earlier this year, I can enthusiatically recommend this one. 

You Speak Prada?

I saw another Rom Com-Confessions of a Shopaholic- with the queen of Rom Coms amongst my friends, Liz. But she was busy texting the whole time... I think she must have seen it before. Otherwise, she's always into this type of movie. 

There were parts of it that I loved including Isla Fisher and Gilmour Girls' Krysten Ritter. They were great and there were some good quotes. She has a Devil Wears Prada moment at the end, where everything snaps into focus for her about what matters (as hopefully does happen in a good story when a fashionista is dictating the moral center) and she makes things right.

Just a fun movie, fun chick flick.  I thought it was better than He's Just Not That Into You, if that is any indication? :-) 

Great Zus!

Based on a true story, yummy Daniel Craig stars in  Defiance. Though I will say that I like Liev Shreiber as the Zus of the movie just as much. The two Bielski brothers, along with Jamie Bell (of Billy Elliot and more recently, Jumper fame) live in the forest of Belaruswith a small townful of Jews, including scholars, working men, women and children who were escaping the Nazis. As one would expect, the Nazis are after the Jews, and enemy of my enemy is my friend? The Bielskis teamed up with the Russians who were there fighting the Nazis.

There are parts that are touching. I liked it. I just wasn't really ready to see this style of movie on the night that I saw it. I have no problem recommending it though.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Malkovich as Mentalist

Talk Cinema's 2nd Spring 2009 movie this year was  The Great Buck Howard, which starred Colin Hanks (yes Tom's son) as the law school drop out assistant to the Amazing Kreskin-inspired characther Buck Howard, as played by John Malkovich. Hanks is lead astray by the PR girl, Emily Blunt as the romantic interest.

It wasn't a bad movie per say, the acting was okay though I heard more than a few comments about Colin Hank's dad paying for his jobs (he did produce). But I will say that I left it only wanting to know more about Kreskin (his wiki page is here). They used the Kreskin handshake, trick of finding money and apparent sexual ambiguity as fodder for Buck Howard. Not very original.

That's all I've got. Steve Zahn is ridiculous, as always. If nothing else is on, watch it on Starz in two years. 

Just Not That Into It

I saw He's Just Not That Into You with the ladies. Um. Well, it has a good cast, the acting is decent. I really like that Ginnifer Goodwin ever since Mona Lisa Smile. The idea of the story is good. I haven't read the book (shocker! I know!) but I think that it was just a little much and too all over the place for me. I wanted one or two stories, not 8. It didn't delve into great moments for me enough like something similar like Love Actually did. 

I'd say this one is on the level of 27 Dresses. Cute, okay, some nice moments. Not great.

Taken to the Edge of My Seat

I went to see  Taken in Long Island when I was there for work in early February. Let me just say that Liam Neeson looked like he might be good, and of course I'm a Lost fanatic, so seeing if Maggie Grace could act in something else seemed fun. I expected to be mildly entertained and a little bit bored as Neeson rushed around trying to retrieve his daughter who had been kidnapped.

BUT, and this is a big one, I LOVED IT! I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat the whole movie. I thought lots of action and chase scenes would lose their luster for me, they would numb me to the action. This one was great though. 

That's about all you need to know. Watch it on a big screen (or at least on a big screen tv) if you can.

On a side note, I lost my favorite hat (for the 2nd time) at that theater! ARGH!

Bride Wars Can Suck It.

So, I went after a workout class to see Bride Wars  with my pal Liz. Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway, what could be bad about that? It HAS to be good, right?  Even Candice Bergen is there, playing the same role Sigourney Weaver played in Baby Mama.

The funniest parts of this movie were in the trailer and tv ads. I hate that. Getting exactly what you expect and want in a movie are two different things. There was nothing more than what I expected and that is bad. It was a cute story in theory, both girls want to have the beautiful wedding in the same place, but when they're booked on the same day, it means the two best friends go to war. In the end, one realizes the dream is overshadowing the love that is no longer there with her man, while the other realizes she does have true love.

Save your money and watch it on TBS some afternoon when you're hungover and want to slug on the couch.

Boys Can Be Dumb

Talk Cinema's first movie this year was all about  Two Lovers , yes the one with Joaquin Phoenix's last movie- and had Gwyneth and Vinessa Shaw, not to mention Phoenix's mother in the movie, the erstwhile Isabella Rossellini. So, the story is this: Leonard, who has suffered from depression and a series of near suicides gets set up with Sandra, the daughter of the couple who is going to buy his parents' dry cleaning business. It is a great match (even he kinds of thinks so) until, that is, he sees and thinks he has a shot with the pretty neighbor who has low self-esteem. He worms his way into Michelle/Gwynie's heart and at the same time keeps Sandra along as a Plan B. Meanwhile his mother, the enabler, is watching with bated breath.

Turns out he settles for Sandra, who is the only girl who actually cares for him. Boys can be dumb. The movie is slow-paced, but the characters are honest. I can imagine almost every other guy I know doing the same thing... angling for the "hot" girl when the one who actually cares about him waits on the sidelines oblivious to his machinations. Good movie. But sad and not great.

15 Minute Man/Movie

Underworld, Rise of the Lycans, is a 15-minute story expanded with action, special effects and fighting to a full-blooded movie. The new breed of Lycan rises to harness the werewolf community in order to oppose the vampires that hold them as tools--guards for their daytime hours. They're more than that. Right?

Hot lycans? Sci fi flick? Just what I was looking for when I went to see it. I enjoyed, but it certainly isn't going to win (and didn't) any Oscars.

Wheelers and Dealers

I saw the movie Revolutionary Road at the Century Theater down on Clark and Diversey with my friend Tom. It was beautiful and even though I didn't see Kate Winslet in The Reader (yet) I will say that she was astounding in this. The movie often felt like a play that I was seeing at the Steppenwolf, it was that intense and personal. You were in the room with Kathy Bates, Kate and Leo. 

As Frank and April Wheeler,  Leo DiCaprio shone as the revolutionary with no cause and Kate developed her cause before she revolted. Great movie. I can't say enough good things. Because the story is so intimate, I don't want to get into it except to say that I really appreciated the honesty of these characters. 
  

Grand Old Car, Grand Old Clint

 I went to see Gran Torino with the rents down in Florida back in January because there's something about Mr. Eastwood that appeals to my Dad. I can't imagine what that could be (she says sarcastically). He plays an old fart who is just biding his time in the house he raised his family in- the old fashioned American way. His time in the military serves him well in his battle against the gang-bangers that are taking over his neighborhood. Plus, he's dying so that makes it easy for him to give himself up when he protects the local Asian family teenagers that have moved into his 'hood. Now, I"m not giving anything away here because all this is in the previews. He teaches the teenage boy next door a little bit about what it means to be a man and is there as a father-figure to the teenage daughter. We know he has a heart of gold because his wife (who forces the local Catholic Priest to get him back to the Church) loved him, the kids love him and his dog loves him. 

The movie is exactly what I expected, which I've said before that I like. But it wasn't complicated and the acting, well the Asian kids were great played by Bee Vang  and Ahney Her were good. I don't think if I had it to do over that I would see it in the theater. But that's just me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

L-O-S-T, Season 5, Episode 6 ("316")

So, to preview tonight's episode check out Doc Jensen's Teaser Article and Totally Lost.

Doc Jensen Review Article is here as well.

_______________________________________

Niel got us started this week:
Who caught the Lamp post reference last night for the new Dharma station to Lion Witch and the Wardrobe? It is the marker for where the kids can go from their world into Narnia.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

L-O-S-T, Season 5, Episode 5 (This Place Is Death!)

First off, Doc Jensen's article... 
 
_________________

I started today's discussion:
 
What did you guys think? I don't think it was as strong as some of the other episodes we've seen this year. But I like the Jin-centric storyline and the re-emergence of the Smoke Monster. I want them to go find the warding system for that. We didn't ever really find out if that was built by Dharma, the Others or maybe a lost civilization. 
  
I like that we see how the smoke monster made Rousseau think everyone was sick on the island. No wonder she's so crazy. She had to kill the father of her child, for God's sake. And how about that smoke monster! It is "guarding the temple"... the temple, btw, reminded me of the Stone Foot that we saw before... with what appear to be hieroglyphs. Anyone know ancient Egyptian? 
  
Farraday/Charlotte link is kind of crazy. I guess she isn't his daughter-although that isn't ruled out completely. She remembers a crazy guy from the island from when she was there before. 
  
And lastly Locke- ew, bone. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Review: Bad Luck Girls and Loose Ladies

I read Slammerkin, by Emma Donoghue, when I was in Florida in January, as a loaner from my parents' neighbor, Nicki-who luckily has good reading habits. A slammerkin, apparently is both a loosely worn gown and then it follows, the nickname for a loose woman, or whore. The story, based on a true story, follows poor Mary Saunders, a servant who dies in jail for killing her mistress. 

The books starts in the disgusting streets of London, where she first fell from the protection of her parents when she was raped. and got pregnant after getting too close to a vendor while looking for a pretty ribbon. From there she spends time as a prostitute to feed and clothe herself, under the protection of a new streetwise friend-Dolly. It eventually leads her to the country in Monmouth-where her parents grew up, under the protection of her mother's childhood friend who gives Mary a chance at a new start in life (and one where no one knows who or what Mary was before she arrived). It is this mistress who Mary is convicted of killing. Mary's life reads like a Dickens novel except there is just misery at the end. A sad, sad tale.

I would give this 3 1/2 of 5 stars and classify it as a really good beach read.  The writing is better than that of Phillipa Gregory, for example, but it didn't sparkle for me other than being a good, fast and interesting read.

Review: Warding My House Before I Sleep


I received and read The Warded Man, by Peter V. Brett (see his site at www.petervbrett.com), back in December and finished it in the beginning of January when I was visiting the folks in sunny Florida-obviously a late review.

Peter Brett has created a great fantasy novel here. The idea that the coreling demons rise from the ground each night to terrorize those not protected by wards is both clever and terrifying. I found myself actually scooting up to the edge of my seat to read this book when I knew something was about to happen. I would say it gets 4 out of 5 stars from me. 

There is much of this book, let's face it, that is not particularly original to this genre. However, I think the writing is good enough and the story--and it IS a great story that leaves you wanting to find out what happens next-- combined with character development carries the book far and above what I would have thought of it without those elements. 

The story essentially follows three people. First, we have "the Warded Man" himself, our clever, flawed hero who despite "weak" parents, uses his wits and agility to become who he is. The second is our heroine, who could have had a simple life but chose to go against her mother's wishes to become a healer and follow her own path, which in the last quarter of the book crashes smack into the hero's road. He has the chance to come to her rescue and they have the chance to become somewhat romantically linked. Lastly, the third person is the Robin to the Warded Man's Batman, the Sam to our Frodo, the Jimmy to our Superman. He has his sad sack story that he came through by becoming an entertainer and an entertainer so apt, in fact, that he can mesmerize the corelings with his fiddle playing. A skill, as luck would have it that supplements our hero's fighting abilities.

We come to care for these people from their younger years and follow them through the book to where they are, presumably for the rest of the series, as adults. We follow them separately. They don't have overlapping stories from the outset, instead, Brett takes the approach of letting us see them how they developed individually, which will make it interesting to see how they come together later. I'm used, in this genre in particular, to seeing a group "quest" mentality forge the bond that brings the characters together. Whereas here, we see a group that comes together at the end of a book, that must work together for the freedom of humanity.

I'm going to relate one part which is a bit of a spoiler here that I have to criticize. So, you might want to stop reading if you're the sort who gets bent out of shape when spoilers are involved: 

There is a point of the book where our heroine, who has been saving herself until she is 27 years old--and the author does go to some extremes to show how she avoids getting herself romantically attached to at least one suitor and save herself, gets raped by thugs on the road. This is the part of the whole book that played the most contrived and stiffly for me. There was all this build-up of her saving herself and then when it was over there was a little bit of "soreness" when she was walking afterward. For the most part, she was right back to being normal and very soon thereafter, she was wanting to share her bed with the hero. The emotional build-up of her saving herself only to lose her virginity by being violently gang-raped and then to not emotionally react to it very much at all, rang a little untrue for me. It made me wonder if that rape was thrown in at the last minute, like maybe Brett planned for her to go to The Warded Man a virgin for some story reason? Not sure, I just didn't like it.

As a side note, there is some discussion how the author wrote this book "by thumb," that is to say, on a personal hand-held device on his way to and from work on public transportation. I am in awe. I take public transportation in Chicago and know how distracting the train and/or buses can be. The people, the herky-jerky action of the sardine-packed containers hauling us all back and forth from our homes to offices and back again? Awful. So, I admit, it makes me like him more. I hope he can get himself a parking spot and not deal with the distractions but at the same time, I envy him his escape from it all. So, I'll escape to his world and read his books on the El if he keeps writing the rest of them in this series this well.

If you couldn't already tell, I'm looking forward to the next book in this series already. I want to know what happens to these characters. Luckily, I don't think I'll have to wait too long because apparently we may be lucky enough to get the next book in the series in December 2009. 

Happy reading!

Friday, February 6, 2009

DOLLHOUSE coming soon, et al

Frank sent an email recently pointing to an i09 article about the sexuality of Dollhouse, which I do plan to watch. I really don't care. I like pretty much everything that Joss Whedon has touched.

Speaking of Mr. Whedon, AMC is having a contest as to who is hotter, Hans (Star Wars) or Mal (Firefly/Serenity). I voted for Mal, but that's just me. Vote here.

Lastly I got an email last night from someone in Chicago who was waiting for a friend at Barleycorn's in Wrigleyville that is one of my favorites I've ever gotten, it goes like this:
[The guy]'s late but there was a singing chicken telegram. (and then the guys next to me decided to order chicken strips and somehow I ended up with a free beer). I LOVE this city!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

L-O-S-T, Season 5, Episode 4 (The Little Prince)

First of, let's start with Doc Jensen's review
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Niel got us started this week's discussion:

JIN IS ALIVE! and once again finds himself stuck with a group that he cannot understand nor they him....Plus he is with a group of French scientist, so you know first sign of trouble and they will give up. You can also hear the numbers being repeated when one of Le Frogs is playing with the radio. So now we have Charlotte, Miles and Juliet all suffering from the island nose bleeds and Daniel asking Miles "are you sure you have never been to this island before" ??? And we have a new group possibly from Aijira airlines who made some outriggers and drank all the Dharma beer. Other than finding Jin adrift, there wasn't too much to this episode I thought. The numbers popped up all over the place in this episode. And for Alison, the attorney that you could not place is from My So Called Life.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Review: A Non-Cringeworthy Historical Romance


I was recommended the book, Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati, and was recommended the series, in fact, by a fellow LT reader based on my appreciation of the Diana Gabaldon, Outlander series. Thank you! I'm not much of a historical romance reader, unless done well (as an example, I wasn't particularly fond of the series that begins with Knight Errant, by R Garcia Y Robertson-though I do applaud the idea of his story, and the heroine is compelling.) However, the writing of Ms. Lippi is excellent and very reminiscent of Diana Gabaldon's style.

For me, Elizabeth "Boots" Bonner's journey into the new world and her strength and intelligence encourage the reader to appreciate and identify with her character the way I typically don't identify with most romance heroines. The challenges she and her husband face together are surmountable when they work together to outwit their foes.

I did have a "come on!" moment at the end of the book when I learned that Daniel is likely the heir to a Scottish Earldom, but decided I didn't care, at least as it related to the end of the this book. I enjoyed the rest of the book too much. But now I'm waiting to read the next ones (which I couldn't find in the bookstore).

Review: Unfortunate Read


The book, A Fortunate Age, by Joanna Smith Rakoff, follows a group of friends from Oberlin through the morass of their daily lives, by looking at the group of friends one at a time, one chapter at a time.

The book is well-written, hence my 3-star rating on some other sites and thumbs slightly down here, and I'm sure it has an audience but I'm not it. I pretty much hated every single character and was annoyed with how they related to one another within the group. I had to force myself to finish it. I am not a fan of the whiny, misunderstood, lazy Gen X-er spirit portrayed here. As a Gen-Xer myself, I feel like I know these people and their ilk and they annoy me in real life. Why would I want to read about them too? It did not help the book's cause for me.

I also had a problem with this author's portrayal of New York as one of the characters in the book. I think it is fine to do that if you make the city relevant for everyone. I live in Chicago, so even though it took me a while to catch on to what she was saying about a particular area, eventually I did identify with the neighborhoods the author describes as similar to some from here (even if I don't know the specific New York area she might be talking about). But, it annoyed me to think that people outside of cities would be at a loss to "get" a whole character in the book, even if that character is a city.

I won't be recommending this to anyone.