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Archive for November, 2008

Pickford or Thief?

I began this book over a week ago and have only managed 100 pages.  That’s not like me.  I’m not sure if it’s my own mood through Thanksgiving or if the book is “boring”. All I know is that I am setting it aside for now and will try more of it at another time.

There were some small parts of interest  however they were more about the “time” than Mary Pickford herself…

“Short films had entered Vaudeville as early as 1896, and the nickelodeons by 1905.  By 1907 there were ten thousand nickelodeons in the US selling 2 million tickets a day.  Most were converted storefronts, filled with chairs and hung with muslin or a sheet for a screen.”

“Thomas Alve Edison patented more than a thousand inventions in his lifetime, including the phonograph, the microphone, and the incandescent electric light bulb.  But initially he showed no interest in the movies, or in efforts of previous engineers to animate photography with movement.  He claimed he worked only for the dollar, and he considered the movies uncommercial. ( Edison also saw no future for the airplane).”

For Now I am going to close that book and try another  ..

… we’ll see if this one gets my interest better than the other.  I really do dislike giving up on a book, and it happens rarely (thank goodness).    And although the author doesn’t seem to have found whatever it is that makes a biography interesting as did Simon Louvish with “Stan and Ollie”, I do think my mood has a lot to do with it also.

Here’s hoping The Good Thief shakes me out of the funk the other book seems to have put me in.

Meanwhile I have been enjoying movies!

As you saw in my last post I went to see Australia and it was enjoyed to the fullest!

On the “home front” David bought some movies and we’ve been watching them too.  First we watched Wall-E.  I now want a toy Wall-e!! Too darn cute! hahaha.. I can relate to Wall-e never getting things to work out they way he hoped, but never giving up either!

Then there was Kung Foo Panda.  It was cute, but not nearly as good as Wall-E.  In the wings we have Journey to the Center of the Earth with Brendan Fraser.  Then TCM showed two more Basil Rathbones Sherlock Holmes movies yesterday… so it’s been a good few days for movies.

One last note here.. I woke early, as I always do and was on my computer as “daybreak” approached.  It was very cloudy and didn’t get very bright.  I was reading some of my normal blog stops when something out of the corner of my eye made me turn and look out the window…

… that my friends is snow!  Yep it snowed like hell for about 20 minutes, then slowly turned to rain. :o(    But I ran out to the deck in the back and took this photo of what snowflakes managed to stick to the railing before they disappeared!

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Australia is a winner!

Oh man!…  I saw Australia today!  This movie will get some nods from the motion picture academy that’s for sure!

I mean.. look!  (doing a little drooling here and it’s not for Nicole!)

The cinematography was outstanding for this movie!

Young Brandon Walters, will steal your heart!

… and David Gulpilil has to do nothing but stand there to get his message across!  ( you may recognize him from Crocodile Dundee, or maybe Beastmaster. I recognized him from a show I saw in California but I don’t think it ever aired on the east coast, called Snowy River: the McGregor Story.)

Director/producer/writer Baz Luhrmann (R) is joined by Aboriginal actor David Ngoombujarra

Anyone recognize this person?…

  Faramir/ Lord of the Rings… better known as David Wenhem.  Well, I got shocked seeing him in this movie… as one of the Bad Guys!  Our Faramir!  A bad guy! aggggggggggggh!

It’s a long movie (2 hr 45 min) but to be honest with you.. it could have even been longer and it would have been fine with me!

It’s a story about doing what’s right.

It’s a bit of a Western.

It’s a bit of a love story.

It’s got Hugh Jackman!  What else could you want??   :o)

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Did You See That?

Ok.. so.. how many of you watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving day Parade??

For as long as I can remember the parade is always on the television in my house or where I am living.  But, since I am generally the cook, I only see “bits ‘n’ pieces”.  I can’t remember ever having seen the entire parade!

This year I did catch something of interest to me though.  Seeing as I am old enough to have my birth certificate carved out on stone, I found one band of particular of interest… they are called The Second Time Arounders Band.  If anyone looked closely they would have noticed that most of the band members had white hair! 

What? A marching band of old folks?

Why, yes!

Does this mean some old folks can actually do some things the younger folks do?

Why,… yes! (amazing isn’t it?!)

For years now (since I reached old age) I wondered about some things concerning “old folks”. 

Being an avid reader and lover of movies, one thing that always got to me was that the fantasy books I read, and movies I see rarely star the older person. (not never.. but rarely)

They don’t star them, and at times barely mention them.. yet, there they are.  In the same story.  Often doing the same things the younger folks are doing.  But somehow, they seem to always just be, the token old person.

Ok, I will admit that it’s true, that the body begins to break down as you grow old!  But, many older people are very active and can certainly keep up with the younger generation in many things.  This band I saw was great to me!  They are every bit as good as any high school or college marching band…  yet they were …well… not young!

If you read fantasy fiction, have you ever noticed that there are often wizards and such going along with the adventure of the younger folks, having to be every bit as vital and strong as the younger protagonists?  But why are they so rarely “the star”?

It upset me so much that some years ago I wrote my own trilogy (amateur) just to have most of the “stars” of the older generation!  It felt good!

Occasionally the movies get it right with pictures like, Cocoon, and Fried Green Tomatoes. There are a number of excellent movies like those.. but they aren’t the money makers that the studios want and so, once again, those movies are few and far between.

That fact also leads to all the actresses getting all that facial surgery so they can continue to play parts for younger actresses.  And that, of course, is because no writer wants to write a story starring older people.  (American writers are obsesses with young skinny beauties)

This is one case where I believe the Brit’s are much smarter than the Americans.  They have never been “obsessed” with the skinny, young, beauty.. they want a good actor and looks are secondary. (I’ve got to move to England! )  Of course they have their share of gorgeous actresses and actors, but it just doesn’t seem to be a “must” to be beautiful, nor a “must” to be young to be talented enough to keep on working in the industry.

So…  here I am on a soapbox! How did that happen?

geez! I never thought I’d get off on that subject!  So much for watching The Macy’s Parade!  That,… or… it just made me feel good not to have the older generation shoved into oblivion.

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Thanks!-giving

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Tale of Despereaux

I was taken by surprise to see this trailer for Tale of Despereaux!  I didn’t even know they were making a movie from this book!  Then I saw a trailer of this cute little mouse with oversized ears and grinned from ear to ear… take a look, maybe you will too!

 

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Pern

 Dragonheart by Todd McCaffrey

 

 

Hardcover: 560 pages
Publisher: Del Rey (November 11, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0345491149

Product Description

The grim specter of sickness looms over the Weyrs of Pern, felling fire-lizards and posing a potentially devastating threat to their dragon cousins, Pern’s sole defense against the deadly phenomenon that is Thread. Fiona, the youngest and only surviving daughter of Lord Bemin, is just coming of age, and about to assume the duties of a Weyrwoman, when word spreads that dragons have indeed begun succumbing to the new contagion. With the next season of Threadfall quickly approaching, and the already diminished ranks of the dragons once more under siege, every Weyr across Pern is in crisis mode. It is hardly the time for disturbing distractions–such as the strange voice Fiona suddenly hears in her mind at the darkest and most urgent moments.
Circumstances and the mood of the weyrfolk worsen when advance patrols relay the dreaded news that black dust–the unmistakable herald of falling Thread–has been sighted. As more dragons sicken and die, leaving only a new generation of weyrlings too young to succeed them, Weyrleader B’Nik and queen rider Lorana arrive from Benden Weyr to comb Fort Weyr’s archives in a desperate search for clues from the past that may hold the solution to the plague.
But could the actual past itself prove the pathway to salvation for Pern’s stricken dragons and the entire imperiled planet? Guided by a mysterious ally from a wholly unexpected place, and trusting in the unique dragon gift for transcending time, Fiona will join a risky expedition with far-reaching consequences for both Pern’s future and her personal destiny.

Ok.. it’s official I just finished reading my 22nd Pern novel.  Never in my life would I have thought that I would read 22 books about the people and dragons of a planet named Pern!

1968 Dragonflight
1971 Dragonquest
1978 The White Dragon
1976 Dragonsong
1977 Dragonsinger
1979 Dragondrums
1983 Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern
1986 Nerilka’s Story
1988 Dragonsdawn
1989 The Renegades of Pern
1991 All the Weyrs of Pern
1993 The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall (a collection of short stories)
1994 The Dolphins of Pern
1997 Dragonseye (published as Red Star Rising in the UK)
1998 The Masterharper of Pern
2001 The Skies of Pern
2002 A Gift of Dragons (a collection of short stories)
2003 Dragon’s Kin (by Anne & Todd McCaffrey)
2005 Dragonsblood (by Todd McCaffrey)
2007 Dragons Fire (by Ann & Todd McCaffrey)
2007 Dragon Harper (by Anne & Todd McCaffrey)
2008 Dragonheart (by Todd McCaffrey)

This book, written by Todd McCaffrey, isn’t a slam-dunk, as many of his mothers books were to me.

Let me say this about myself first:  I am not a picky person (at least I don’t think so). This goes for both, movies and books I might add.  In movies, I don’t notice the mistakes made that some people seem to find. (“did you see the shadow of the camera in that shot??”)  They seem to pass me by as I am much to interested in the story and what’s going on.

That being said, I shocked myself when I couldn’t get past some things that Mr. McCaffrey did in this book.

The first few books he wrote about Pern, the people there, and of course the dragons, he wrote in collaboration with his mother, who is the person who first brought Pern and the dragons to life. Then he did write one alone.

I guess my biggest problem (if it is one) with the books written by both mother and son, was simply getting used to the fact that it was a different TIME in Pern that they wrote about and NEW Characters. (loving the original characters as I do this was no simple thing to get over, but I figured if Todd kept writing about the “same new characters” that eventually I accept them and all would be well in Pern once again.

As a good point for this book, I will say that Todd had some good characters, that I quickly began to like and was interested in what they did and said.

The seeming “star” of the book, Fiona, who became Talenth’s rider was shaping up nicely.  So was Xhinna, her female friend.  Cisca and K’lior, the Weyrleaders, I would like to have known better, but they were also good, as was T’Mar, Zirenth’s rider.

But some non-consistencies just jumped out at me….. One in particular was, Tajen (T’jen)who’s dragon went between due to an illness. In other books if a dragonrider lived when his dragon died he was depressed a long time, did not want to try to impress another dragon and overall never got over the loss.  In this book T’jen looses his dragon and not long after is happily helping others.  This compared to Lytol, in The White Dragon, who lost his dragon and had to leave the weyr because he could no longer be around dragons, and who then for many years became a drunk, before finding a reason to live again. (Raising Jaxom)  That was a huge thing to me to not keep consistent with other happenings.

This story wraps around the fact that the dragons were dieing of an illness.  As I read of the deaths I couldn’t help but notice that they talked of the losses as if it didn’t bother them:  “I think we are going to lose Yerinth and Casunth today.”  This sort of thing was written over and over.  The sadness and the lose of both dragons and their riders just wasn’t there.  Instead what was talked about was  how few they had left to fight thread.  It may well be just me, but I just felt that there was something missing.  Like a story was being told without sympathy.

(example:) “What if something goes wrong?” Xhinna asked.  “What if they can’t come back?”

Fiona shook her head. “In that case, we’ll think of something.”  (I felt no sadness from the characters)

Something else I couldn’t grasp was that Fiona and her queen Talenth go back in time with a mysterious  weyrwoman.  It is never really explained who she is or where she came from. (ok, so this might be saved for the next book).. however, once they went back in time there was no more mention of Cisca and the time they were in or the sick dragons.  You’d think a small chapter would have been written about how they wonder where they disappeared to?  But, nope. Nothing.

This is so unusual for me to find so many small things that bothered me, yet I kept on reading.  Behind it all there is a decent Pern story with some new and interesting characters…  I’m certainly not one who wants only Anne to write about Pern, after all, she can’t go on forever.  So I DO want her son to be able to take over and continue more stories.  So far, he’s not the writer his mother is.  But I’ve given him a chance with the books he wrote WITH his mother, and I’ve read his other book he wrote alone called Dragonsblood… and undoubtedly I will give him yet another chance in hopes that I will find out about all the loose ends he’s left dangling!

But beyond the faults, I did still have to say that (for the most part) I enjoyed the book.  Like I said there are some good characters and I hope he answers the million questions he left hanging… so yeah, I’m waiting on the next book once again!

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Basil as Sherlock

As has happened to be on other occasions.. after having just read two books about Mary Russell and her husband Sherlock Holmes, what should come on Turner Classic Movies but two old, black and white, Holmes movies!

The first one was called Secret Weapon. 1942

Holmes was smuggling a man from Switzerland, who invented a bomb-site, into England to make them for the war. 

But what got to me about this movie was the hairdo that they had given Holmes!  For some reason I think I have a memory of it, but I’m not sure!  One side of his hair was brushed forward and the other had a curl onto his forehead.  It was so unusual that I couldn’t stop watching his hair during the whole movie!

I think my enjoyment of the old Basil Rathbone Holmes movies though was how entertaining Nigel Bruce was as Watson.

When the movie concluded it asked that you go and buy War Bonds!!

The second was called: The Woman In Green. 1945 (I was one year old!)

For this movie Basil had a normal hairdo, and I was glad of that! 

Basil was not what I think of as handsome but, to me, he really carries off the persona of Holmes!  With each Mary Russell book I read I heard Basil’s voice as Holmes.  I guess it was ingrained into my mind from the time I was young and would see the Sherlock Holmes movies on television. (this was BEFORE they had to be restored!  *I can’t believe I said that!)

   

(Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce or rather Sherlock and Watson)

Sherlock Holmes.

I know there have been many other actors who have portrayed Sherlock over the years, but I believe Basil Rathbone will always remain the definitive Holmes to me.

A small piece of trivia before I close this post…

Many only know Nigel Bruce as “Watson”, but over his career Nigel acted in 78 movies and most were not Holmes movies!  Here’s a bigger surprise… he was born in Baja California!

Rathbone made 119 movies, and was born in Johannesburg South Africa.

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Locked Rooms

Locked Rooms by Laurie R King.

Hardback 402 pages
Publisher: Bantam (March 28, 2006)

From School Library Journal
Adult/High School–Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell are at it again. Having just traveled to India in The Game (Bantam, 2004), they are stopping in San Francisco, Mary’s hometown, before returning to England. It is 1930, 24 years after the great earthquake and 10 years since the death of Mary’s brother and parents, and her removal to Anglia. Ostensibly, she is going to wrap up some business interests and sell her parents’ house, but she soon becomes aware of strange goings-on there and what seem to be attempts on her life. This is a more character-driven title than many of the previous Russell/Holmes outings, and Mary’s emotions and fears are in the forefront. The story is told in alternating sections, by Mary in the first person and from Holmes’s point of view in the third. This tale is self-contained, but does explain Mary’s origins and probes many secrets she has kept hidden, even from herself.

Excellent!

Yep, that’s my book review.. “excellent!”

I loved learning all about Mary’s youth.  The suspense begins to build almost immediately and never lets up.

Did someone try to kill Mary and Holmes in India? 

Why is Mary having nightmares and what do they mean?

Was the accident in which Mary’s parents and brother died 10 years ago really an accident? Or was it something else?

Why can’t Mary remember more of her youth with her parents?

Who is the man without a face?

With Mary at the center of things, going to her parents home in California, and being totally distracted with feelings of guilt, Holmes is on his own to find out about the past that she talks so little about.  Since Mary is no longer available to him to help him sold the mystery he calls on his brother Mycroft and old friend Watson for a little outside help.  I love that Laurie R King manages to incorporate the characters from Doyle’s Holmes Mysteries!

While Holmes searches for answers, Mary is doing the same with the help of a childhood friend.  But she is so deep into her childhood depression that she almost misses the clues.  But like a locked door opening… Mary finally realizes the truth in time to help Holmes put her fears to rest.

It’s ongoing mystery and Mary and Holmes are at the center of it all. (naturally) I loved it.  I think this book rates up in the top 3 of the series.  I’d say “what a way to end a series” but in April, after a long absence, a new Mary Russell book will be appearing at the local book stores, and I could not be happier about it!

This book differs from the other mystery novels in that it gives us a look into who Mary is  examining part of her youth.  Since I am character oriented I enjoyed this book immensely . If any of you have read any of the Mary Russell books I can say, that this one will not disappoint. 

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So…. I was resisting posting this porn photo.  Only because I think I’ve finally gone overboard with my tbr pile.   I now have 54 books in my pile!

I am going to make a concerted effort to get the pile down and not let it get any higher!  I’m sure my amazon wish list will grow considerably.  Truth be known, I have about run out of room to put them.  I keep getting told to box up the ones I’ve read and put them in the basement.. and that’s NOT going to happen!   Not even a consideration since the basement is very damp and would ruin the books.

Anyway.. you can see I have a variety here.  American Prince (Tony Curtis) is an autobiography and NIV (David Niven) a biography. In the Woods is a mystery, Dragonheart is Fantasy (not to be confused with the Dennis Quaid Dragonheart movie) and The Keystone Kid is a book about some of the very early movie actors in Hollywood.

I think the only reason I sent for the Tony Curtis book is that I saw him on the View talking about it. Although I’ve liked his movies (and he’s also quite an artist) I never had that much interest in him.  Oh well, maybe it will surprise me! 

Right now I am reading another Mary Russell book by Laurie R King, Locked Rooms.  I thought I would do like the small meme that goes around and randomly open my book to any page, count down 10 lines and write the next few lines:

So I told him that someone I knew had died there, and with that his words began to flow.

It seemed that he was an insurance investigator looking into a death claim that might have been faked.  It also seemed that this corner was infamous as a killer of motorcars.

Indeed

He finished his cigarette, and by the looks of it the driver’s flask, then with a tip of the grey fedora he climbed into the back of the van.  The other man slammed the door behind him and hurried around to the driver’s side; in moments he had the van turned around and headed back north.

I’m glad there will be a new Mary Russell book out next April!!

On a totally different note..

We are having snow flurries!!   I do love to watch the first snow that sticks to the ground, but this is awfully early for snow!  Thankfully, it’s just flurries and nothing is really sticking. We usually don’t have a snow that amounts to anything much before Christmas, I hope it stays that way!

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The Game

The Game by Laurie R King

 

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Bantam (March 2, 2004)
ISBN-10: 0553801945

From School Library Journal
Adult/High School–Once apprentice, now investigator, Mary Russell travels to India in 1925 with her former mentor, now husband, Sherlock Holmes. In this seventh adventure, the duo is searching for Kimball O’Hara, the Kim of Rudyard Kipling’s eponymous novel. On a mission from Sherlock’s brother Mycroft, long involved in British espionage, they are tasked with finding Kim or evidence of his status as victim or traitor. Sailing to India on a luxury liner, they meet an American family with a debutante daughter, a social-climbing mother, and a left-leaning son, who of course reappear at a strategic moment. Upon their arrival, Mary and Sherlock disguise themselves as native traveling magicians and seek out an anti-English and very sadistic maharaja, “Jimmy.” With her usual thorough research, King imbues the mystery with lots of historical detail and a real sense of time and place. This is one of the best in the series and can easily be read on its own, though readers will then want to go back and see how the strange, but surprisingly plausible, meeting and union between a young Mary and a considerably older Holmes actually occurs. Likewise, a previous reading of Kim is unnecessary, but teens will likely be intrigued enough to go on to read that as well. A sure bet for mystery lovers and historical fiction

 

Gosh…

What can I say?

It’s Laurie R King, doing her thing with Mary Russell and Sherlock once again.

At first I thought it was beginning a bit slow.  I kept waiting for it to take off and it wasn’t.   But then,.. suddenly… it took off like a shot and I couldn’t put the book down!

This was sooo cool ! I mean, they were looking for “Kim”.  RUDYARD KIPLING’S KIM! That was just too awesome lol.

I have to admit that Amazon tells it like it is this time around.  Much more can’t be said without telling everything there is to say.

I have to say it again …  I do really like this series of books, and I really like how Laurie R King writes them!   Also… I know I like how she writes even if it isn’t Mary and Sherlock (though what’s not to like with those two?), because I really did like her last book she put out called Touchstone.  All new characters and an all new mystery.. and I loved it.

It never ceases to amaze me because other than watching Basil Rathbone movies as Sherlock, I can’t say I was ever a Sherlock “fan”, but meeting Mary Russell changed all of that.  I have but one Mary Russell book left to read, “Locked Rooms” and then I will have read them all.

I can thank Carl for all of this.. (hmmm, maybe I should send him the bill for the 7 books!) because I came across her book “the Moor” to read for last year’s RIP and became hooked.    Thanks Carl. (no even a hint of sarcasm there.. I’ve liked all the books that much!)

So, if you like mysteries…. you might want to try one or two (or more) of Laurie R King’s books.  Oh, and just so you know… If you don’t think you want to get 7 books, they are all individual mysteries, so it is possible to read just one. (about as likely as eating just one potato chip!)

Now, I think I will go and begin the last of the Mary Russell books, Locked Rooms.

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