Saturday, April 23, 2005
I haven't been feeling well lately, so I've been gravitating toward comfort books, the way people go for comfort food. I'm still reading To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust, and it's excellent. It's just so well written that it makes me really nervous about the tragic things I know are coming- (yes, I do get overly involved in my reading), and being sick and feeling super aprehensive don't really go well together. So, I pulled out my can't-make-me-nervous-since-I-know-every-word copy of the screenplay of The Royal Tenenbaums. I love this story with a passion that's difficult to explain really. I've watched the movie countless times, and read the screenplay a bunch, and it's just a space I feel comfortable in. I don't know if it's the Salingeresque quality of the family that's a little too sensitive to live in this world, or if the casting was just so perfect that these characters are alive to me. One aspect of it that really gets me- and it may in fact be why I love it so, is that it so captures the desire to go home, to be part of a family, to be understood. I said after I saw The Life Aquatic that, "The one thing I thought was missing from The Royal Tenenbaums is that one blissful moment when everything clicks, when the epiphany hits." I realized reading through this time that it doesn't need one. The Life Aquatic is about one man's search for meaning, The Royal Tenenbaums is about a family's search for themselves. While there isn't just one culminating moment, each character has a moment when their motivation, thought process, and relationship to everyone else becomes clear, and each of those moments makes me catch my breath. (These really could be up for debate, but these are the moments that define the characters for me.) Royal: When he and Chas are discussing the BB that's still in Chas' hand from when Royal shot him, and Chas asks him why he did it. Royal says, "That was the point of the game wasn't it?" and Chas reminds him, "We were on the same team." Royal's "We were?" sums up for me his whole dilemma of family. Margot: Margot's plantive, "Why are they allowed to do that?" in response to Etheline's news that Chas and the boys will be moving back into the house captures her longing for home that's evident despite her repeated running away. Richie: After he comes back from the hospital, Margot and he lay in his tent. She asks if he tried to kill himself because of her, and he says, "Yeah, but it wasn't your fault." Richie is all about putting the rest of the family over himself- making decisions that are about them. But its always he who is making those decisions, he can't blame anyone else. Chas: When, after Royal saves the boys and buys them a dog, Chas finally realizes that he's loved as much as Richie. His, "I've had a rough year, dad" is one of my favorite moments in movies. Eli: Eli's comes early in the movie (like Margot's), but it really solidifies his character for me. It's when he's on the phone after his reading, and he asks Margot if she thinks he's especially not a genius. After a pause, he says, "You didn't even have to think about it did you?" All he wants is to be a Tenenbaum, and he knows he never will be. Etheline: Etheline's is when she finds out that Margot has been smoking for the last twenty-two years. Instead of getting mad, sad that she was decieved all this time, or anything else, she just cuts right to the chase with, "Well, I think you should quit". All I mean by all this rambling is that I really like this story. It makes me happy. I think I'm going to go read it again. Current total: 28 Just Finished: The Royal Tenenbaums by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson Currently Reading: To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
I have read a book since the last time I posted, I'm not completly flaking out on the reading front. It was Nana by Delacorta, which I've read a billion times (or at least 30), but it still counts. Right now, instead of reading, I'm watching music videos from the 80's, and finding myself really amused by the narratives they told. (You had to know I was going to tie it back into reading somehow!) I haven't watched a lot of current music videos, but the few that I've seen in the last couple of days (I have the TV on while I type for work), have been noticeably heavy on the booty shaking, and less so on the story elements. Let's look, for instance, at Cradle of Love by Billy Idol, a staple of 80s MTV, (or CMC, before we convinced our parents that we needed our MTV.) Instead of watching pretty Billy Idol (who was pretty!), we have the story of a sexy teenager who shows up at her slightly shy, slightly bookish neighbor's door. It seems that her stereo is broken, and it's essential that she listen to a particular tape immediately. That tape is, of course, Billy Idol singing Cradle of Love, and as she listens, she's moved by the music to dance seductively. Over the course of the video she is startled and spills wine on her pristine white shirt and has to take it off, and then writhes on her neighbor's bed in her bra and super short skirt while he watches guiltily. Finally, they kiss, and at the end of the video a guy that we assume is her boyfriend shows up at the door looking for her. So basically, there's just as much booty shaking, it just seems like they put more effort into it, don't you think? Or what about Erasure's Lay All Your Love on Me? A sexy (and definitly NOT little) Red Riding Hood runs into the forest to find an equally sexy Snow White lying motionless on the ground. After pulling out a phone and a strange box with men on motorcycles in it, she calls on the boys of Erasure, who are dressed in gold lame motorcycle suits, and appear to be in a large sqaure room. (Like a box?) The "princes" ride through the forest on their motorcycles, stopped only when their motorcycles are wrecked. As one of them fixes the bikes, the other roasts a teddy bear on a spit over a fire. An ethereal woman dressed in white appears over the trees, and they continue on, until they find the girls. Snow White is awakened with a kiss, and the princes take the girls back to their mansion, where all is well. It doesn't make a whole ton of sense, but where's the fun in that? Then you have the videos like Robert Palmer's, one of which is on right now. I don't know which one it is because they all blur together for me. He was all about the booty shaking with no story. The girls are pretty, but the video is missing the soul that the "story" videos have. And that's why I don't really watch very many videos lately, they're just not as much fun as they used to be. Give me a story any day. Of course the exception to that is The Killers' video for Mr. Brightside, which is a playful, pretty homage to Moulin Rouge. They win. Current total: 27 Just finished: Nana by Delacorta Currently reading: To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust
Saturday, April 16, 2005
After a bit of concern that Santa Clara doesn't have any bookstores (none came up online and I don't have a physical phonebook), we discovered a Borders not too far down the freeway, and then two marvelous bookstores in lovely downtown Mountain View, which we visited today. The fabulous part of all of it is that I have 7 new books, 5 of which were on sale! Woohoo! Because you care, my purchases were: From Borders: To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust, and Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, neither of which were on sale, but they weren't overly expensive. Other books tried to come home with me, and pled their cases well, but I resisted. From Books Inc.: For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway ($4.98), and The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo by Paula Huntley ($5.98). They look to be a good combo. From Bookbuyers:Luna and Nana by Delacorta ($2.00 each) since my copies are getting pretty worn; and Everything that Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Conner ($7.95). They also had a copy of Portrait of a Marriage:Vita Sackville West and Harold Nicholson by Nigel Nicholson, which I really want, but their shelves are incredibly tall and I am not, and there were no sales people around with step stools or large book-getting-hooks. I'll have to get it on another trip, along with a book about Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald that I can't find now that I'm looking for it on Amazon- it better still be at the store when I go back! Oh no! It's good to have new books. I've been slacking on my reading, ever since we moved and I got Animal Crossing, which is the best video game ever. It's very distracting. And without two 45 minute trolley rides a day, I don't have a focused time for reading. That needs to change. Now some of you may be thinking, "Didn't you just get rid of a bunch of books for your move? And now you're replenshing? Did you learn nothing? Those books will have to be moved when you move! Think of the movers!" To you, I explain my newly conceived book tax. Well, I didn't conceive it, someone else came up with it, but I gladly stole it from them for my own use. For every book that comes into the house, $1 gets put aside (I haven't figured out where yet) to pay for the movers that will eventually move it. I think it's an excellent idea, and one which I will attempt to keep up on. We'll see.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
We're still in the midst of our move; we're here but our stuff isn't. I've learned something in this move, something that probably shouldn't suprise me: my books are my security blanket. I kind of noticed it during my book purging- the panicky little twinges as I thought about getting rid of certain books, but it's hit full force now that I'm here in the mostly empty apartment with 1 book. I'm no where near done with the book, and I'll get my other books back before I finish it, but it's still driving me nuts. I need my choices! And really, just the knowledge that I have those choices. But, our stuff should be here tomorrow, so I'll be able to just go back to enjoying Natalie Wood: A Life by Gavin Lambert in peace. The move has also given me the opportunity to reorganize my bookshelves. Whereas all the bookcases were in different rooms in our old place, in this apartment we're putting them all in the computer room/library. (I've ALWAYS wanted a library room!) So, the question is, how to organize the shelves? I went with themes in the old place- 1920s together, mysteries together, art books all on the same shelf. I could go with the same idea, or go alphabetically by author, or if I wanted to be crazy, by cover color. I could mix the graphic novels in with the other books, or leave them in their own bookcase. I have to decide soon, any suggestions anyone? Current total: 26 Currently reading: Natalie Wood: A Life by Gavin Lambert
Saturday, April 02, 2005
I finished Sock by Penn Jillette. What a very odd book. I'm not really sure I got his ultimate point, but I sure enjoyed the ride! (In Mr. Jillette's defense- I finished reading the book late at night with a severe headace, so my missing the point was most likely not entirely his fault.) The story begins when our hero, known as Little Fool (for reasons explained momentarily), finds the body of an ex-lover in a New York river. He's a police diver, so the finding of the body isn't so unusual- it's the fact that he knew her once, and that she appears to have been brutally murdered, that is. He decides to launch his own investigation, tracking all of her movements before her death, trying to put a reason to her death. Then more bodies show up. So far this synopsis is probably sounding pretty straightforward, leading some of you to ask, why did you say it was such a very odd book? Allow me to explain. The story's narrator is none other than Little Fool's sock monkey, Dickie. The sock monkey his grandmother lovingly made for him, who has been with Little Fool from childhood, who knows his thoughts and feelings and calls him Little Fool because that's how his owner refers to himself. Dickie is a foul mouthed, but unconditionally loving, little guy, whose knowledge of pop culture fills his narration with references- every paragraph ends with a line from a pop song. The references are part of what makes the story so fun, song lyrics become idioms, and they're inserted so seamlessly that finding them all of them is as much a challenge as figuring out where they're all from. The book isn't all about the gimmicks though- there's a solid story here about a serial killer and one man's flirting with mental breakdown as he deals with grieving over the loss of his past. It only got fuzzy for me toward the end (again, that could have been the headache and lack of sleep) when religion reared its head and I didn't quite get the point that was trying really hard to make itself known. I would have been fine with just a book narrated by a sock monkey. Current total: 26 Just Finished: Sock by Penn Jillette Up Next: who knows?